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China set to launch an 'unhackable' internet communication

As malicious hackers mount ever more sophisticated attacks, China is about to launch a new, "unhackable" communications network - at least in the sense that any attack on it would be quickly detected.

The technology it has turned to is quantum cryptography, a radical break from the traditional encryption methods around. The Chinese project in the city of Jinan has been touted as a milestone by state media.

The pioneering project is also part of a bigger story: China is taking the lead in a technology in which the West has long been hesitant to invest.

In the Jinan network, some 200 users from the military, government, finance and electricity sectors will be able to send messages safe in the knowledge that only they are reading them.

China's push in quantum communication means the country is taking huge strides developing applications that might make the increasingly vulnerable internet more secure. Applications that other countries soon might find themselves buying from China.

So, what is this technology into which the country is pouring massive resources?

 

read more here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-40565722

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Sperm count drop 'may lead to human extinction'

 

Humans could become extinct if sperm counts in men from North America, Europe and Australia continue to fall at current rates, a doctor has warned.

Researchers assessing the results of nearly 200 separate studies say sperm counts among men from these areas seem to have halved in less than 40 years.

Some experts are sceptical of the findings, in Human Reproduction Update.

But lead researcher Dr Hagai Levine said he was "very worried" about what might happen in the future.

The assessment brings together the results of 185 studies between 1973 and 2011, one of the largest ever undertaken.

Dr Levine, an epidemiologist, told the BBC that if the trend continued humans would become extinct.

Decline rate 'increasing'

"If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future," he said.

"Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species."

Scientists not involved in the study have praised the quality of the research but say that it may be premature to come to such a conclusion.

Dr Levine, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found a 52.4% decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% decline in total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The study also indicates the rate of decline among men living in these countries is continuing and possibly even increasing.

Previous research 'flawed'

In contrast, no significant decline was seen in South America, Asia and Africa, but the researchers point out that far fewer studies have been conducted on these continents.

Many previous studies have indicated similar sharp declines in sperm count in developed economies, but sceptics say that a large proportion of them have been flawed.

Some have investigated a relatively small number of men or included only men who attend fertility clinics, and so are in any case more likely to have low sperm counts.

There is also concern that studies that claim to show a decline in sperm counts are more likely to get published in scientific journals than those that do not.

Image copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Another difficulty is that early methods of counting sperm may have overestimated the true count.

Taken together these factors may have created a false view of falling sperm counts.

But the researchers claim to have accounted for some of these deficiencies, leaving some doubters, such as Prof Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, less sceptical.

He said: "I've never been particularly convinced by the many studies published so far claiming that human sperm counts have declined in the recent past."

"However, the study today by Dr Levine and his colleagues deals head-on with many of the deficiencies of previous studies."

Smoking and obesity

But Prof Pacey believes that although the new study has reduced the possibility of errors it does not entirely remove them. So, he says, the results should be treated with caution.

"The debate has not yet been resolved and there is clearly much work still to be done.

"However, the paper does represent a step forward in the clarity of the data which might ultimately allow us to define better studies to examine this issue."

There is no clear evidence for the reason for this apparent decrease. But it has been linked with exposure to chemicals used in pesticides and plastics, obesity, smoking, stress, diet, and even watching too much TV.

Dr Levine says that there is an urgent need to find out why sperm counts are decreasing and to find ways of reversing the trend.

"We must take action - for example, better regulation of man-made chemicals - and we must continue our efforts on tackling smoking and obesity."

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3 hours ago, davieG said:

Sperm count drop 'may lead to human extinction'

 

All due to there being too many willy pullers, I reckon.

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3 minutes ago, Bellend Sebastian said:

Less than a quarter of a century to buy a petrol or diesel car.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/25/britain-to-ban-sale-of-all-diesel-and-petrol-cars-and-vans-from-2040

 

I'm going to panic buy loads of cars tomorrow

Sweet some good cars will going pretty cheap in 2038-39. Might get myself a veyron.

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7 hours ago, Strokes said:

Sweet some good cars will going pretty cheap in 2038-39. Might get myself a veyron.

Which you will be allowed to drive on the road from Inverness to Fort William between 10 pm and midnight on alternate Wednesdays

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14 hours ago, davieG said:

Sperm count drop 'may lead to human extinction'

 

Humans could become extinct if sperm counts in men from North America, Europe and Australia continue to fall at current rates, a doctor has warned.

Researchers assessing the results of nearly 200 separate studies say sperm counts among men from these areas seem to have halved in less than 40 years.

Some experts are sceptical of the findings, in Human Reproduction Update.

But lead researcher Dr Hagai Levine said he was "very worried" about what might happen in the future.

The assessment brings together the results of 185 studies between 1973 and 2011, one of the largest ever undertaken.

Dr Levine, an epidemiologist, told the BBC that if the trend continued humans would become extinct.

Decline rate 'increasing'

"If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future," he said.

"Eventually we may have a problem, and with reproduction in general, and it may be the extinction of the human species."

Scientists not involved in the study have praised the quality of the research but say that it may be premature to come to such a conclusion.

Dr Levine, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, found a 52.4% decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% decline in total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The study also indicates the rate of decline among men living in these countries is continuing and possibly even increasing.

Previous research 'flawed'

In contrast, no significant decline was seen in South America, Asia and Africa, but the researchers point out that far fewer studies have been conducted on these continents.

Many previous studies have indicated similar sharp declines in sperm count in developed economies, but sceptics say that a large proportion of them have been flawed.

Some have investigated a relatively small number of men or included only men who attend fertility clinics, and so are in any case more likely to have low sperm counts.

There is also concern that studies that claim to show a decline in sperm counts are more likely to get published in scientific journals than those that do not.

Image copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Another difficulty is that early methods of counting sperm may have overestimated the true count.

Taken together these factors may have created a false view of falling sperm counts.

But the researchers claim to have accounted for some of these deficiencies, leaving some doubters, such as Prof Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, less sceptical.

He said: "I've never been particularly convinced by the many studies published so far claiming that human sperm counts have declined in the recent past."

"However, the study today by Dr Levine and his colleagues deals head-on with many of the deficiencies of previous studies."

Smoking and obesity

But Prof Pacey believes that although the new study has reduced the possibility of errors it does not entirely remove them. So, he says, the results should be treated with caution.

"The debate has not yet been resolved and there is clearly much work still to be done.

"However, the paper does represent a step forward in the clarity of the data which might ultimately allow us to define better studies to examine this issue."

There is no clear evidence for the reason for this apparent decrease. But it has been linked with exposure to chemicals used in pesticides and plastics, obesity, smoking, stress, diet, and even watching too much TV.

Dr Levine says that there is an urgent need to find out why sperm counts are decreasing and to find ways of reversing the trend.

"We must take action - for example, better regulation of man-made chemicals - and we must continue our efforts on tackling smoking and obesity."

Does anyone reckon it could be due to things like wifi/mobile phone signals everywhere nowadays? 

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12 hours ago, seanfox778 said:

Does anyone reckon it could be due to things like wifi/mobile phone signals everywhere nowadays? 

Sounds like a load of old bollox to me

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Human embryos edited to stop disease

By James GallagherHealth and science reporter, BBC News website

1 hour ago

 

From the sectionHealth

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Scientists have, for the first time, successfully freed embryos of a piece of faulty DNA that causes deadly heart disease to run in families.

It potentially opens the door to preventing 10,000 disorders that are passed down the generations.

The US and South Korean team allowed the embryos to develop for five days before stopping the experiment.

The study hints at the future of medicine, but also provokes deep questions about what is morally right.

Science is going through a golden age in editing DNA thanks to a new technology called Crispr, named breakthrough of the year in just 2015.

Its applications in medicine are vast and include the idea of wiping out genetic faults that cause diseases from cystic fibrosis to breast cancer.

Heart stopper

US teams at Oregon Health and Science University and the Salk Institute along with the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea focused on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The disorder is common, affecting one in every 500 people, and can lead to the heart suddenly stopping beating.

It is caused by an error in a single gene (an instruction in the DNA), and anyone carrying it has a 50-50 chance of passing it on to their children.

In the study, described in the journal Nature, the genetic repair happened during conception.

Sperm from a man with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was injected into healthy donated eggs alongside Crispr technology to correct the defect.

It did not work all the time, but 72% of embryos were free from disease-causing mutations.

Eternal benefit

Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a key figure in the research team, said: "Every generation on would carry this repair because we've removed the disease-causing gene variant from that family's lineage.

"By using this technique, it's possible to reduce the burden of this heritable disease on the family and eventually the human population."

There have been multiple attempts before, including, in 2015, teams in China using Crispr-technology to correct defects that lead to blood disorders.

But they could not correct every cell, so the embryo was a "mosaic" of healthy and diseased cells.

Their approach also led to other parts of the genetic code becoming mutated.

Those technical obstacles have been overcome in the latest research.

However, this is not about to become routine practice.

The biggest question is one of safety, and that can be answered only by far more extensive research.

There are also questions about when it would be worth doing - embryos can already be screened for disease through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

However, there are about 10,000 genetic disorders that are caused by a single mutation and could, in theory, be repaired with the same technology.

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, from the Francis Crick Institute, told the BBC: "A method of being able to avoid having affected children passing on the affected gene could be really very important for those families.

"In terms of when, definitely not yet. It's going to be quite a while before we know that it's going to be safe."

Nicole Mowbray lives with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and has a defibrillator implanted in her chest in case her heart stops.

But she is unsure whether she would ever consider gene editing: "I wouldn't want to pass on something that caused my child to have a limited or painful life.

"That does come to the front of my mind when I think about having children.

"But I wouldn't want to create the 'perfect' child, I feel like my condition makes me, me."

Ethical?

Darren Griffin, a professor of genetics at the University of Kent, said: "Perhaps the biggest question, and probably the one that will be debated the most, is whether we should be physically altering the genes of an IVF embryo at all.

"This is not a straightforward question... equally, the debate on how morally acceptable it is not to act when we have the technology to prevent these life-threatening diseases must also come into play."

The study has already been condemned by Dr David King, from the campaign group Human Genetics Alert, which described the research as "irresponsible" and a "race for first genetically modified baby".

Dr Yalda Jamshidi, a reader in genomic medicine at St George's University of London, said: "The study is the first to show successful and efficient correction of a disease-causing mutation in early stage human embryos with gene editing.

"Whilst we are just beginning to understand the complexity of genetic disease, gene-editing will likely become acceptable when its potential benefits, both to individuals and to the broader society, exceeds its risks."

The method does not currently fuel concerns about the extreme end of "designer babies" engineered to have new advantageous traits.

The way Crispr is designed should lead to a new piece of engineered DNA being inserted into the genetic code.

However, in a complete surprise to the researchers, this did not happen.

Instead, Crispr damaged the mutated gene in the father's sperm, leading to a healthy version being copied over from the mother's egg.

This means the technology, for now, works only when there is a healthy version from one of the parents.

Prof Lovell-Badge added: "The possibility of producing designer babies, which is unjustified in any case, is now even further away."

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Inevitable drop in sperm count will mean reliance on Davieg and Dr The Singh repopulating the earth with the most beautiful women on the planet.  It has been predicted, both will eventually die from repeated intercourse for atleast 15 years

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On 26/07/2017 at 10:10, seanfox778 said:

Does anyone reckon it could be due to things like wifi/mobile phone signals everywhere nowadays? 

Often wonder this. The huge array of electromagnetic fields of varying types being used diodes cause me to wonder. 

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40 minutes ago, toddybad said:

Often wonder this. The huge array of electromagnetic fields of varying types being used diodes cause me to wonder. 

I know, whenever I've mentioned it before people just laugh it off and say no way but why would they tell us? That would cost big companies billions. 

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7 minutes ago, seanfox778 said:

I know, whenever I've mentioned it before people just laugh it off and say no way but why would they tell us? That would cost big companies billions. 

I don't necessarily know that any impact would be known but electromagnetism is a fundamental force affecting everything from the atomic level upwards. Living organisms run on electrical impulses which would be affected by electromagnetic fields. I'm not saying that this is a real issue or not - i don't know - but i do sometimes wonder if the modern world directly contributes to the modern reasons for ill health. I'm slightly concerned that i sound like a quack writing this but it's just an unknown imho.

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Don't you have to keep your balls cool to produce sperm, that why they dangle. It could be central heating that's lowering the sperm count.

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17 minutes ago, toddybad said:

I don't necessarily know that any impact would be known but electromagnetism is a fundamental force affecting everything from the atomic level upwards. Living organisms run on electrical impulses which would be affected by electromagnetic fields. I'm not saying that this is a real issue or not - i don't know - but i do sometimes wonder if the modern world directly contributes to the modern reasons for ill health. I'm slightly concerned that i sound like a quack writing this but it's just an unknown imho.

Haha you do sound like a mad scientist but that's a cool persona to have.

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2 minutes ago, seanfox778 said:

Haha you do sound like a mad scientist but that's a cool persona to have.

 

rick-moranis-honey-i-shrunk-the-kids-1989-BPDA41.jpg

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22 minutes ago, toddybad said:

I don't necessarily know that any impact would be known but electromagnetism is a fundamental force affecting everything from the atomic level upwards. Living organisms run on electrical impulses which would be affected by electromagnetic fields. I'm not saying that this is a real issue or not - i don't know - but i do sometimes wonder if the modern world directly contributes to the modern reasons for ill health. I'm slightly concerned that i sound like a quack writing this but it's just an unknown imho.

 

There is research out there that suggests that sperm quality and motility is impacted by EMR and it makes perfect sense. I don't know about production levels, not seen much about that but being as temperature is a factor there, I imagine EMR and just having a laptop resting on your lap probably cause problems. Working out a lot will also likely cause problems, as will our less healthy habits, as probably will fashion choices like skinny jeans. 

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14 minutes ago, KingGTF said:

 

There is research out there that suggests that sperm quality and motility is impacted by EMR and it makes perfect sense. I don't know about production levels, not seen much about that but being as temperature is a factor there, I imagine EMR and just having a laptop resting on your lap probably cause problems. Working out a lot will also likely cause problems, as will our less healthy habits, as probably will fashion choices like skinny jeans. 

This is broadly true.

 

However it is only the temperature factor caused by the buildup that affects such quality and motility. Any electromagnetic radiation above X-rays in wavelength (at least at the level we experience at the Earths surface caused by modern tech provided you don't climb inside your microwave) doesn't contain high enough energy in of itself to cause cellular mutations and therefore lasting damage to the human body in any capacity.

Edited by leicsmac
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10 minutes ago, leicsmac said:

This is broadly true.

 

However it is only the temperature factor caused by the buildup that affects such quality and motility. Any electromagnetic radiation above X-rays in wavelength (at least at the level we experience at the Earths surface caused by modern tech provided you don't climb inside your microwave) doesn't contain high enough energy in of itself to cause cellular mutations and therefore lasting damage to the human body in any capacity.

 

I read a lit review when this news first came out and in its conclusion it noted that radiation from phones had increased oxidative stress with this subsequently damaging DNA and sperm membranes. I'm not particularly clued up on any of this, just what I read.

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32 minutes ago, KingGTF said:

 

I read a lit review when this news first came out and in its conclusion it noted that radiation from phones had increased oxidative stress with this subsequently damaging DNA and sperm membranes. I'm not particularly clued up on any of this, just what I read.

Takes a lot to link a possible increase in microwave radiation directly to oxidative stress that then directly leads to damage in sperm cells and nowhere else. I'd take that with a pinch of salt tbh.

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By Jonathan AmosBBC Science Correspondent, Pasadena

12 September 2017

 

From the sectionScience & Environment

 

 

The international Cassini spacecraft at Saturn has executed the course correction that will send it to destruction at the end of the week.

The probe flew within 120,000km of the giant moon Titan on Monday - an encounter that bent its trajectory just enough to put it on a collision path with the ringed planet.

Nothing can now stop the death plunge in Saturn's atmosphere on Friday.

Cassini will be torn to pieces as it heads down towards the clouds.

Its components will melt and be dispersed through the planet's gases.

Image captionTitan's surface: Pebbles rounded by the action of a flowing liquid

Ever since it arrived at Saturn 13 years ago, the probe has used the gravity of Titan - the second biggest moon in the Solar System - to slingshot itself into different positions from which to study the planet and its stunning rings.

It has been a smart strategy because Cassini would otherwise have had to fire up its propulsion system and drain its fuel reserves every time it wanted to make a big change in direction.

As it is, those propellants are almost exhausted and Nasa is determined the spacecraft will not be permitted to just drift around Saturn uncontrolled; it must be disposed of properly and fully.

The agency called Monday's last encounter with Titan the "kiss goodbye".

"Cassini has been in a long-term relationship with Titan, with a new rendezvous nearly every month for more than a decade," said Earl Maize, the Cassini project manager at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"This final encounter is something of a bittersweet goodbye, but as it has done throughout the mission, Titan's gravity is once again sending Cassini where we need it to go."

Closest approach to the moon's surface occurred at 19:04 GMT (20:04 BST; 15:04 EDT; 12:04 PDT).

As the probe passed Titan, it gathered some images and other science data that will be streamed back to Earth on Tuesday.

The investigation of the 5,150km-wide moon has been one of the outstanding successes of the Cassini mission.

The spacecraft put a small robot called Huygens on its surface in 2005. It returned a remarkable image of rounded pebbles that had been smoothed by the action of flowing liquid methane. This hydrocarbon rains from Titan's orange sky and runs into huge seas at northern latitudes.

Cassini also spied what are presumed to be volcanoes that spew an icy slush and vast dunes made from a plastic-like sand.

 

Cassini scientist Michelle Dougherty from Imperial College London, UK, says there will be an effort in the days up to Friday to try to squeeze out every last scientific observation.

"We're now running on fumes," she told BBC Radio 4's Inside Science programme.

"The fact that we've got as far as we have, so close to the end of mission, is spectacular. We're almost there and it's going to be really sad watching it happen."

Besides a last look at Titan, scientists want to get a few more pictures of the rings and the moon Enceladus, before then configuring the spacecraft for its dramatic scuttling.

The idea is to use only those instruments at the end that can sense Saturn's near-space environment, such as its magnetic field, or can sample the composition of its gases.

In the final three hours or so before "impact" on Friday, all data acquired by the spacecraft will be relayed straight to Earth, bypassing the onboard solid state memory.

Contact with the probe after it has entered the atmosphere will be short, measured perhaps in a few tens of seconds.

The signal at Earth is expected to drop off around 11:55 GMT (12:55 BST; 07:55 EDT; 04:55 PDT). Engineers will be able to be more precise once they have looked at the position of the probe after Monday's change in course.

"The Cassini mission has taught us so very much, and to me personally I find great comfort from the fact that Cassini will continue teaching us right up to the very last seconds," said Curt Niebur, the Cassini programme scientist at Nasa Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Cassini-Huygens - in numbers

Mission to Saturn 7.9bn km

travelled since launch 6

named moons discovered 453,000 images taken

2.5 million commands executed

635GB of science data collected

3,948 science papers published

Source: Nasa

 

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a joint endeavour of Nasa, and the European and Italian space agencies.

BBC News will have live coverage of the ending of the mission on both TV and radio. Inside Science will preview the climax this Thursday at 16:30 BST on Radio 4. A Horizon documentary will also review the mission and the final hours in a special programme to be broadcast on Monday 18 September at 21:00 BST on BBC Two. And you can still watch the Sky At Night programme Cassini: The Gamechanger on the iPlayer. This is being repeated on Thursday on BBC Four at 19:30 BST.

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

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On 02/08/2017 at 23:25, Webbo said:

Don't you have to keep your balls cool to produce sperm, that why they dangle. It could be central heating that's lowering the sperm count.

We need to go back to wearing codpieces, shuka/kasaya/kilts etc. clothing that allows the boys to move properly. I dread to think what the skinny jeans trend has done to the birth rate.

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