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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Life Extension
Posted: February 15, 2017 at 12:12 am
Memphis Business Journal
Universal Life redevelopment gets PILOT extension
Memphis Business Journal
Nearly two years after officially breaking ground, Self Tucker Architects are expected to close on financing for the redevelopment of the historic Universal Life building. The Center City Revenue Finance Corp. (CCRFC) board today approved an extension ...
Rehab of historic Universal Life building set to begin
See original here:
Posted: at 12:12 am
A private space company is suing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for allegedly taking an idea and giving it to a foreign-owned competitor.
Orbital ATK accused DARPA, which develops military technology, of giving its business plan to repair satellites to Space Systems Loral (SSL), a company-based in California but registered as foreign-owned. Orbital ATK says handing business plans to SSL violates U.S. policy.
DARPA entered into a commercial partnership with Space Systems Loral (SSL) to take advantage of its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program to capture, re-position, and repair satellites in orbit. DARPA plans to buy future RSGS services from SSL, despite it being a Bermuda-based company.
Orbital ATK has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in response to DARPAs apparent decision to continue pursuing a program that violates long-standing principles of the U.S. National Space Policy, wastes taxpayer funds, and benefits a foreign-owned corporation, VickiCox, a spokesperson for Orbital ATK, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Orbital ATK is already investing its own private capital to develop in-space satellite servicing that includes satellite life extension, to be followed by robotic in-space repair and assembly capabilities.
Last year, Orbital ATK unveiled a similar satellite servicing business which will have to compete directly with the DARPA initiative. The U.S. company says it already has its first private customer and that this makes DARPAs actions unabashedly unfair and anti-competitive.
This could be a violation of the US National Space Policywhich requiresthat the government not build or buy systems that preclude, discourage or compete with commercial systems. The U.S. company claims that they have already invested in the satellite repair and refueling business. Orbital ATKs lawsuit says this means that DARPA interfered in a developing market in defiance of stated U.S. policy.
The U.S. National Space Policy explicitly directs government agencies to avoid funding activities that are already in development in the commercial marketplace, Cox continued. Orbital ATK will continue to pursue all available options to oppose DARPA from moving forward with this illegal and wasteful use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
SSLclaims it has also already made asubstantial investment in the RSGS program and that DARPA deliberately chose them to ensure the services would be available far into the future. SSL will take over DARPAs RSGS satellite after a nine-month demonstration mission.
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Posted: at 12:12 am
Savannah River Sites Melter 2, a key component in the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF), will be replaced after nearly 14 years of record-breaking operational performance. A heater inside Melter 2 failed on Feb. 1 and is deemed not repairable.
Melter 2 is only the second melter in the 20-year history of DWPF. It has been operating nearly 14 years, approximately 12 years beyond its design life expectancy. Melter 1 ran for about six years of radioactive service and another two years of non-radioactive simulant processing.
The operational concept for DWPF is to use a melter until it is no longer operational and then replace it with a new melter. There are no risks to the public, workers or the environment during melter replacement. The replacement melter, the third melter to be installed in DWPF, known as Melter 3, has been ready for years. Work to install it will begin shortly, and will require approximately six months.
Melter 2 has poured 2,819 canisters during its life, more than double what Melter 1 produced in its life span, which was 1,339 canisters. Melter 1 was placed into radioactive operation in March 1996, following approximately two years of non-radioactive simulant operations. Melter 2 began operating in 2003. Together, Melters 1 and 2 have poured 4,158 canisters through January 31, 2017. The predicted number of canisters needed to dispose of SRS high-level tank waste is 8,170, according to the SRS Liquid Waste System Plan Rev. 20.
Since beginning operations, DWPF has poured more than 16 million pounds of glass and has immobilized about 61 million curies of radioactivity.
Savannah River Remediation (SRR) operates DWPF, as well as other liquid waste facilities at SRS, as part of its contract with DOE. Operations are expected to continue at DWPF for approximately 20 more years.
SRR keeps one melter in storage in case the working melter needs to be replaced.
Melter life extension is the product of work by engineers and scientists. The increased Melter 2 operational life resulted from the following:
Incorporating an improved insert in the melter, used from the beginning of this melters operation, ensures glass waste doesnt cause the melters pour spout to erode;
Heating the internal area where the glass flows into a canister to ensure it does not stick;
Adjusting electrical current to the electrode heaters inside the melter to increase its heating capacity; and
Installing agitation bubblers that are used to improve the heat distribution in the waste glass pool in the melter to achieve a better pour rate.
View original post here:
Posted: at 12:12 am
Studies have shown that 30-50 percent of patients diagnosed with MDD do not respond to an initial anti-depressant trial, while 15 percent will continue to suffer from depression. Treatment-resistant depression commonly refers to major depressive episodes that have not responded to two adequate trials of antidepressant monotherapy.
In a recent study conducted at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and published in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences (2016), 12 subjects with mild or moderate TRD were randomized into a double-blind crossover trial to receive an intravenous (IV) infusion of 4 g of magnesium sulfate in five percent dextrose or an IV infusion of five percent dextrose (placebo) with a one week washout period in between.
Subjects were assessed before and after the intervention for serum and urine magnesium. Assessment tools included the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), which is a clinician-used questionnaire to assess severity of depressive symptoms related to mood, feelings of guilt, suicidal ideation, insomnia, agitation or retardation, anxiety, weight loss, and somatic symptoms. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was also utilized and is a brief self-report tool that can be rapidly used by clinicians to determine the response to treatment.
Study results indicated a significant increase in the serum magnesium level in response to the magnesium sulfate IV infusion and as the serum magnesium increased from baseline to day seven, the PHQ-9 score significantly decreased during the same timeframe suggesting an improvement in depression symptoms. The change in the score for the HAM-D scale from day two to eight was also positively correlated with the PHQ-9 score change during the same time period. It was also noted that the 24-hour post-infusion scores on the HAM-D and PHQ-9 did not change. The treatment was well tolerated, and no serious adverse events were noted.
Researchers concluded that IV infusion of magnesium sulfate increased the serum level of magnesium, which was correlated with improved depression symptoms according to the PHQ-9. Improvements in the PHQ-9 and HAM-D were positively correlated. This is in alignment with current literature noting that the administration of magnesium may be beneficial for patients with TRD. Additional research is needed to assess the use of the various forms of magnesium as an alternative to the current standard of care for TRD. Funding for this investigation was provided by a grant from the Life Extension Foundation, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
For more information contact John E. Lewis, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Steven Hirsh, director of clinical research, Life Extension Clinical Research, Inc. at email@example.com.
Mehdi S, Atlas S, Qadir S et al. Double-blind, randomized crossover study of intravenous infusion of magnesium sulfate versus 5% dextrose on depressive symptoms in adults with treatment-resistant depression. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2016 Nov 10 doi: 10.1111/pcn.12480.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/double-blind-randomized-crossover-study-of-intravenous-infusion-of-magnesium-sulfate-300406898.html
SOURCE Life Extension
Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:20 am
We've already tacked three decades onto the average lifespan of an American, so what's wrong with adding another few decades?
A centenarian riding his bike in Long Beach, California (Reuters).
So far as we know, the last hundred years have been the most radical period of life extension in all of human history. At the turn of the twentieth century, life expectancy for Americans was just over 49 years; by 2010, that number had risen to 78.5 years, mostly on account of improved sanitation and basic medicine. But life extension doesn't always increase our well-being, especially when all that's being extended is decrepitude. There's a reason that Ponce de Leon went searching for the fountain of youth---if it were the fountain of prolonged dementia and arthritis he may not have bothered.
Over the past twenty years, biologists have begun to set their sights on the aging process itself, in part by paying close attention to species like the American Lobster, which, despite living as long as fifty years, doesn't seem to age much at all. Though some of this research has shown promise, it's not as though we're on the brink of developing a magical youth potion. Because aging is so biologically complex, encompassing hundreds of different processes, it's unlikely that any one technique will add decades of youth to our lives. Rather, the best we can hope for is a slow, incremental lengthening of our "youth-span," the alert and active period of our lives.
Not everyone is thrilled by the prospect of radical life extension. As funding for anti-aging research has exploded, bioethicists have expressed alarm, reasoningthat extreme longevity could have disastrous social effects. Some argue that longer life spans will mean stiffer competition for resources, or a wider gap between rich and poor. Others insist that the aging process is important because it gives death a kind of time release effect, which eases us into accepting it. These concerns are well founded. Life spans of several hundred years are bound to be socially disruptive in one way or another; if we're headed in that direction, it's best to start teasing out the difficulties now.
But there is another, deeper argument against life extension---the argument from evolution. Its proponents suggest that we ought to avoid tinkering with any human trait borne of natural selection. Doing so, they argue, could have unforeseen consequences, especially given that natural selection has such a sterling engineering track record. If our bodies grow old and die, the thinking goes, then there must be a good reason, even if we don't understand it yet. Nonsense, says Bennett Foddy, a philosopher (and flash game developer!) from Oxford, who has written extensively about the ethics of life extension. "We think about aging as being a natural human trait, and it is natural, but it's not something that was selected for because it was beneficial to us." Foddy told me. "There is this misconception that everything evolution provides is beneficial to individuals and that's not correct."
Foddy has thought long and hard about the various objections to life extension and, for the most part, has found them wanting. This is our conversation about those objections, and about the exciting new biology of aging.
Foddy: The reason I present it that way, is that there's always this background moral objection in enhancement debates, where a technology is perceived to be new, and by virtue of being new, is depicted as threatening or even strange. That goes for everything from genetic engineering to steroids to cloning and on and on. I think it's always worth contextualizing these things in terms of the normal. So with human cloning it's worth remembering that it's exactly the same as twinning. With steroids, it's worth remembering that in many ways it's not that different from training and exercise, and also that people have been taking testosterone since ancient times. I think this way you can kind of resist the idea that something is wrong just because it's strange.
When you're talking about medicines that help us live longer, it's important to realize how much we've already accomplished. In the last 150 years or so, we've doubled our life span from 40 to 80 years, and that's primarily through the use of things you can characterize as being medical science. In some cases it's clear that we're talking about medical enhancement---vaccines, for instance, or surgical hygiene and sterilization. And then more broadly there are other, non-medical things like the sanitation of the water supply and the pasteurization of milk and cheese. All of these things have saved an enormous amount of life.
It used to be that people would die of an infectious disease; they'd be struck down when they were very young or when they were older and their immune system was weak. Now almost nobody in the first world dies of infectious disease; we've basically managed to completely eradicate infectious disease through medical science. If, at the outset of this process, you asked people if we should develop technologies that would make us live until we're 80 on average instead of until we're 40, people might have expressed these same kind of misgivings that you hear today. They might have said, "Oh no that would be way too long, that would be unnatural, let's not do that."
So, in a way, we shouldn't view it as being extremely strange to develop these medicines, but in another sense we're at a new stage now, because now we're at the forefront of having medicines that actually address the aging process. And that's what I'm interested in talking about---the kinds of medicines that actually slow down the aging process, or at least some of the mechanisms of aging.
Can you explain how senescence, the biological process of aging, is unevenly distributed across species?
Foddy: There are different animals that are affected differently by various processes of aging. In my paper I go into the case of the American Lobster, which lives about as long as a human being. When you dissect one of these lobsters at the end of its life, its body doesn't show much in the way of weakening or wasting like you see in a human body of advanced age. That suggests that aging can evolve differently in different species. Lobsters seem to have evolved an adaptation against the cellular lifespan. There's this phenomenon where the DNA in our cells basically unravel after they've divided a certain amount of times, but lobsters have this enzyme that helps them replenish their telomeres---the caps that hold DNA together.
That's one of the reasons why lobsters don't seem to undergo aging in the same way that we do. Other species give off an antioxidant chemical in their bodies that prevent these oxidizing free radicals in our bodies from breaking us down. That's why doctor's recommend that you have a certain amount of antioxidants---some species are really good at producing those naturally.
There is this idea that when you're evolving you make certain trade-offs. Lobsters and clams don't really move around a lot; their bodies move and grow very slowly and one of the upsides of that is that they've been able to invest their evolutionary chips, so to speak, in resisting the aging process. Human beings, on the other hand, have to move around quite a lot. We have giant brains and we have to be able to run away from saber tooth tigers. As a result we have bodies that burn a lot of calories, and so that's where our chips are invested. It's just a difference in our evolutionary environment and that's why we've evolved to live and die the way we do. But it could have easily not turned out that way---that's the point I really want to make.
What are the current biological limits on our human life span, or our human "youth span," as you call it---the time that we're able to live as young, vibrant, reproducing individuals?
Foddy: The sky is sort of the limit there. There won't be a magic pill that gives us infinite youth, but over time there will probably be different technologies that allow you a few extra years of youth. We think of aging as being a unitary thing, but it's made up of hundreds of different processes. So, one of the different things we think about, for example, is dementia, the state where your brain sort of wastes away. Now, if we discover a way of reversing that process, or slowing that process, that would be one dimension where we no longer age, where our minds will stay youthful for longer. It's also possible that we might be able to find a way of stopping people's muscles from wasting away as they get older.
Nothing is going to be super dramatic, but there will be a point where you'll look back a hundred years and notice that people used to get really kind of feeble and after awhile they weren't capable of really thinking or processing information anymore, and they had to go into a home and they had to be looked after and nursed for a time. And that will seem very old-fashioned and very barbaric, but I very much doubt it will happen at a moment in time where we suddenly realize that some magic pill has exponentially extended our youth. Part of that's because we're not exactly clear what aging is. We've identified a whole range of processes, but there ere still a whole lot of arguments in the scientific community about what is really responsible for aging, and which of the processes are subsidiary to other processes.
Have we glimpsed, even theoretically, ways that we might add to that youth-span. What are the bleeding edge technologies that might allow us to overcome aging?
Foddy: I'm not a scientist, so I don't want to weigh in too heavily on somebody's body of research. We've seen promising results looking at the lobsters and we've seen promising results with antioxidants, even aspirin, but as I said these things are going to be incremental. You meet a lot of people in the scientific community that are true believers and they're expecting a kind of a radical thing. And it's not as though we never have a radical thing in medicine, but what we have more frequently is incremental advances.
Cancer is a great example of the kind of incremental progress I'm talking about. In 1970, your odds of surviving 5 years after you've were diagnosed with certain kinds of cancer were slim; those chances have increased substantially. But we still react to the idea of getting cancer as though it were 1970 because we don't really process incremental changes. Like with chemotherapy, they just change out one or two drugs every year based on trials that show that the new drug is 2 percent more effective than the previous drug. That's constantly going on, but it really isn't announced. Instead, we get the occasional story in the news about a miracle cure for cancer, and it always turns out not to be as good as they had hoped and everyone begins to get disillusioned about science and the value of medical progress. But when you run the comparisons across decades, you see something much more dramatic.
You give an interesting account of how the aging process evolved in humans. You argue that aging is not the result of an optimizing process, but that instead it's a byproduct of an optimizing process. Can you explain why that difference is so important?
Foddy: I should say, first of all, that this is not original to me; this is very well established in evolutionary biology. We have a number of genetic traits that we developed because they were advantageous from the perspective of natural selection---that is, they helped us to survive and reproduce. People that had the gene for that trait had the ability to reproduce more than people that didn't have it. It's easy to imagine that every gene that we have is selected because it gave a positive advantage in this way, but it turns out there are trade-offs. A number of the processes of aging seem to have arisen because our bodies were not doing enough maintenance, because they were busy doing something else. The misconception that people often have is that any trade-off that we have is going to be directly beneficial, directly advantageous. But that's not right.
The second thing to say is that aging usually happens to an organism after it reaches menopause. Things that happen after menopause are much less interesting in terms of evolution, because they have much less of an effect. If I've already reached the age where I can't reproduce, then aging that takes effect at this point in my life is not going to affect whether or not I reproduce. The game is sort of already over for me. As a result, natural selection doesn't tend to weed out genes that take effect after you've reached the age of menopause. So, there is this idea that over time you can amass genes in your genome that have nothing to do with survival or not surviving, because they only activate after you reach a certain age. So, over time, some of these are going to be good genes and some of them are going to be bad. It's going to be this kind of mix, but it's certainly not going to be the case that they're on balance beneficial. We've got hundreds or thousands of genes that don't start to harm us until we reach old age, and those genes are responsible for a lot of what actually constitutes aging. So, in this sense, we think about aging as being a natural human activity or a human trait---and it is natural, but it's not something that was selected because it was beneficial to us. There is this misconception that everything evolution provides has to be beneficial to individuals and that's not correct. "There is this misconception that everything evolution provides has to be beneficial to individuals and that's not correct."
One defense of aging that your paper takes quite seriously is the argument from evolution, which was first put forth by Frances Fukuyama. Fukuyama claims that we should resist the temptation to tinker with any characteristic that we have been given through the process of natural selection. He argues that evolution can be relied upon to produce good results and that we ought not to mess with the fruit of its processes. What's wrong with this view?
Foddy: Fukuyama has this idea that evolution is very complicated, which is true. We don't always understand why we've evolved to be a certain way. Sometimes it looks like something is useful, but in fact it's performing some kind of role that we don't know much about. Fukuyama is also correct that sometimes we interfere with complicated biological systems without really understanding what the effects will be, and that then we wind up with some unwanted effect. That's all true.
The thing that I disagree with him about is his presumption that if we have a trait that's evolved, that it must be beneficial to us in some way, and that we have some good reason for allowing that trait stick around. Now he's not talking strictly about aging; his book discusses all kinds of intervention on the human organism. But, when it comes to aging, his argument can't even succeed on its own merits, because we know for a fact that aging is not the sort of thing that is produced by natural selection in the kind of positive way that he is talking about. He says it's not always easy to do nature one better, but that's not what we're doing when we're combating aging. We're not trying to do nature one better, because nature doesn't care that we grow old and die. This is neglect, evolutionary neglect. We shouldn't think about it as interfering with the sort of complex ecological balance in the way that he's worried about.
Now that's not to say that our current mode of life extension is ideal. Some of the biggest strains on our resources stem from the fact that populations are getting older as birthrate's go down, especially in the first world. Aging societies are spending more and more on nursing, and so I think that it makes sense to pursue a youth-extending medicine that would diminish the number of years that we have to spend in nursing homes. You could imagine us living more like the lobster, where we still live to be about 80-85, but we're alert and active until we drop dead. In that scenario we wouldn't have this giant burden where the state has to support and pay to nurse people that are unable to look after themselves anymore.
Now, it has to be said that the story of medicine and medical progress in the past 50 years has not been heading that way. If anything, we're extending the number of years that we spend needing nursing. We've gotten good at keeping people alive once they're fairly decrepit. And that sort of guarantees that you have the maximum drain on resources, while also producing the kind of minimum amount of human benefit. You get to be 90 years old and your hip goes out, and we give you a massively expensive hip replacement, but we don't do things to prevent your body from wasting away and becoming corroded when you're 20, 30 or 40.
There's this great Greek myth, the myth of Tithonus, that always comes to mind. Tithonus was a mortal who was in love with Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Eos didn't want Tithonus to grow old and die, so she went to Zeus to ask for eternal life, which was granted. But, she forgot to ask for eternal youth, and so Tithonus just gets older and older and more decrepit, and eventually he can't really move, and then finally he turns into a grasshopper in the end. That's sort of the course that we're on with our current approach to medicine and life extension.
Some ethicists have pointed out that death is one of the major forces for equality in the world, and that welfare disparities will be worsened if some people can afford to postpone old age, or avoid it altogether, while others are unable to. What do you say to them?
Foddy: I think that's right. I mean there are concerns whenever we develop any kind of medicine or any kind of technology---the concern that these things are going to widen welfare gaps. The story of industrialization is that the people who could afford the cars and machines and factories in Western countries were able to produce a lot more and generate a lot more wealth than people in poorer agrarian economies. That's a serious issue. It's probably true that if people in the first world were, through some sort of medical intervention, able to live to be 200 years old and people in Bangladesh were still dying at a relatively young age, that would tend to widen the distance in personal wealth.
And look this has already happened. It's already unfair that I will on average live to be 80 and yet, if I were born before some arbitrary date, or in some other place, I would live much less longer. Those things are unfair and it's worth worrying about them, but I don't think the correct response is to hold off on the science. It's better if everybody can eventually get this medicine, because living a long time is not a positional good, it's an absolute good. It would be great if everybody could live to be 150, because that would benefit every single person. It's not a good that benefits you only if other people are worse off. When you have goods like that you should try to develop them and then you should worry separately about making sure that they get delivered to people in poorer areas, whether it's through government aid or massive production.
Another objection to the elimination of aging is this idea that the aging process makes an elderly person's death less painful for the survivors around her, because it gradually forces people to stop relying on her, and forces her to gradually remove herself from society. You call this the argument from psycho-social history.
Foddy: This is Leon Kass' argument. He thinks aging is just fantastic for this reason because it helps us to let go of somebody. And of course it's true that when people grow old, they become less useful to society, and more socially difficult, which places burdens on people. And in a lot of cases we respond to this by cutting them out of our lives, essentially. People get older, they move into a nursing home, and we see them less and less, and then when they finally die everyone's like, "well it was expected." Advanced age sort of helps us prepare emotionally for letting go of people, but it seems to me that it's not good for the person who gets old.
Now, what would the world be like if people dropped dead in good health when they reach a certain age? It would be very sad, but on the upside the person would've had 20 or 30 years of additional integration into society and we would've been able to spend more time with them. I've got to say that I would've enjoyed my grandmother's presence a lot more if she'd been able to run around and to play and work and be part of society in her extremely advanced age.
Nick Bostrom has said that people have fallen victim to a kind of Stockholm syndrome when it comes to aging. The idea being that because aging has always been an insurmountable obstacle for humanity, that we have dignified it more than it deserves, that we contort ourselves logically and rhetorically to defend it precisely because it is so inescapable. Does that sound right to you?
Foddy: Yes, I think that's right, although Nick draws conclusions that are a bit more extreme than I would tend to draw. I think that we do have a tendency to kind of rationalize things that we don't think we can do anything about. This is a perfectly healthy attitude if you really can't do anything about the aging process---it's better to accept it and kind of talk about it as being a natural part of life, not something to rail against or feel bad about. It's something that everybody goes through. Now if it did so happen that we could discover a medicine that completely prevents that process from taking place, we would have to re-evaluate at that stage and realize that we've done some emotional rationalization here and the conditions for it no longer apply. We no longer need to comfort ourselves with the inevitability of death if it's not actually inevitable.
Having said that, death is, in fact, inevitable. Even if we solve every medical problem, you still have a 1 in 1,000 chance of dying every year by some sort of accident. So, on those odds you could probably expect to live to be about 1,000. I don't think it's ever going to be the case that we will live forever. It's not even going to be 1,000. We're probably talking about living to be 120 or 150 or somewhere around there, but to me the idea that we have to accept living to 80 rather than 120 is bizarre given that it's not so long ago that we lived to 40.
The rest is here:
Posted: at 11:20 am
Private space technology company Orbital ATK sued the Pentagons Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) last Tuesday over plans to give a rival firm a contract to build satellite-repairing robots for a government-funded mission.
The Virginia-based company filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, asking court to halt DARPAs work on the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) mission, which would promote and develop robotic satellite repair technology.
DARPA chose rocket manufacturer Space Systems Loral (SSL), which is a subsidiary of Canadas MDA Corp., to award a $15 million contract for building robots for repairing government and commercial satellites.
It clearly demonstrates the success of our strategy to bring the benefits of our commercial business to a broader audience and to grow our business with U.S. government work, Howard Lance, CEO of SSL MDA Holdings, said in a statement last Thursday.
According to Jared Adams, DARPAs chief of media relations, the RSGS public-private effort is a first for DARPA in the space-servicing domain, and DARPAs selection of SSL has been submitted for review by the Defense Departments Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
In the lawsuit, Orbital ATK argued that DARPA intends to give away this technology to a foreign-owned company for that companys sole commercial use. In addition, Orbital ATK said RSGS would waste hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to develop robotic satellite servicing technology for which DARPA has admitted there is no present U.S. government need and that NASA and the U.S. private sector specifically the plaintiffs are already developing.
On the other hand, DARPA says RSGS would lower the risks and costs of operating in orbit.
Servicing on orbit could provide significant cost savings compared to current practices and a major advantage to the security of both commercial and Government space assets, Gordon Roesler, DARPAs program manager for RSGS, said in a statement last Thursday.
RSGS, Orbital ATK argues, directly competes with Orbital ATKs Mission Extension Vehicle, which is in development and provides life extension services to satellites. The company argues this violates the 2010 National Space Policy, which says that the government must refrain from conducting United States government activities that preclude, discourage, or compete with U.S. commercial space activities.
Currently, the Mission Extension Vehicle is backed by at least $200 million from investors, and Orbital ATK had set up a production facility in Northern Virginia. The company planned to launch the Mission Extension Vehicle next year.
In the past, Orbital ATK has worked with the U.S. government and NASA on various space projects. On Monday, the company announced that the U.S. Air Force awarded it a contract to provide support services for a multipurpose satellite.
This isnt the first time DARPA was asked to stop RSGS. Two weeks ago, three Republican members of Congress wrote a letter to the Pentagon saying RSGS violates the National Space Policy because its competing with a private company.
We urge you to promptly review this program to ensure its compliance with the 2010 National Space Policy, the letter to DARPA Acting Director Steven Walker said. As Acting Director, you should stop any further action on RSGS until the review is completed.
Walker replied saying that the commercial systems under development would not be as capable as RSGS, and he reviewed the mission, saying that it complied with the National Space Policy.
DARPA also said that a NASA satellite repair program called Restore-L does not have the same degree of autonomous control as RSGS. Restore-L was also awarded to Space Systems Loral and is planned to launch by 2020.
Photos via Flickr / NASA Johnson
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Posted: February 11, 2017 at 8:23 am
Andrew Weil is Americas best-known revolutionary. You know him as a doctor a pioneer in what he calls Integrative Medicine who gets around in the very best media circles. Like the cover of Time Magazine, where he looks like a jolly Santa, with his bald head, big grin and a white beard just long enough to make you think he may someday play in ZZ Top. Hes a very reassuring guest on talk shows, where he speaks in praise of common sense and treatments that work, whatever their source. But dont be fooled Andrew Weil is a bomb-thrower.
Check out the book on Amazon here.
Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being is a bomb that may come as a shock to Boomers who tend to believe that life started with them and cannot go on without them and a total surprise for Millennials. Its newsflash: We all will die. There is no fountain of youth, no magic elixir that extends life. In 2002, when Weil turned sixty, he noted what that means: Sixty is about the time that organs of the body begin to fail, when the first signs of age-related disease begin to appear.
Can aging be reversed? No. But here comes the second bomb Dr.Weil throws in these pages and from his point-of-view, its pure good news: You can age gracefully. And if you are smart and careful and active and lucky, you will live as long and as well as possible, then have a rapid decline at the end of life. That is, youre healthy and vital right into your 80s and 90s, and then you get sick and die quickly, with your dignity and your wits intact. The goal, he reminds us, is compression of morbidity, not life extension.
How does he know? Well, hes studied widely. And hes seen his own mother who went toAntarctica at89 die at the end of a happy day when she was 93. [To buy the paperback from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
That personal story is welcome because its a stark contrast to the rest of the book, which is unusually technical for Dr. Weil. But youll want to slog through it. First, because it is your life a subject of plausible interest to you hes talking about.Second, because the science is in support of some very blunt statements about how to live and eat and medicate.
Among the new ideas I encountered in these pages:
Vitamins C and E and green tea extract block and perhaps undo some of the skin damage caused by the suns ultraviolet rays.
Those who are somewhat overweight in middle age may enjoy a healthier and longer old age than those who are not it is better to be fit and fat than lean and not fit.
Buy oils in small quantities.
Avoid all products containing high-fructose corn syrup.
The least processed tea is white tea from China. To remove most caffeine from tea, steep the tea in hot water for 30 seconds, then use the tea leaves (or bag) in your cup or pot. [To buy white tea leaves from Amazon, click here. For white tea bags, click here.]
Take Vitamin E daily it offers the best antioxidant protection against common age-related diseases. [To buy Vitamin E from Amazon, click here.]
Take 200 milligrams of Vitamin C a day your body cant easily absorb more. [To buy Vitamin C from Amazon, click here]
If you are taking a statin, you should also take 60 milligrams a day of CoQ10. [To buy COQ10 from Amazon, click here.]
Turmeric may help prevent Alzheimers disease. [To read about Turmeric on Head Butler and buy it from Amazon, click here.]
DHEA decreases abdominal fat in elderly men and women. [To buy DHEA from Amazon, click here.]
Theres much more. And then theres this: The magnificence of autumn foliage is the ripe period of the year, before the sleep of winter.
This article originally appeared on The Head Butler
Photo credit: Getty Images
Jesse Kornbluth is is a New York-based writer and editor of HeadButler.com, a cultural concierge site he launched in 2004. As a magazine journalist, he has been a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, New York and Architectural Digest. As an author, his books include Airborne: The Triumph and Struggle of Michael Jordan; Highly Confident: The Crime and Punishment of Michael Milken and Pre-Pop Warhol. As a screenwriter, he has written for Robert De Niro, Paul Newman and PBS. On the Web, he co-founded Bookreporter.com. From 1997 to 2002, he was Editorial Director of America Online.
Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:11 am
Aging Hand.Max Pixel/Max Pixel
Right now, the best that humans could hope for in terms of their lifespan is to reach the age of 100 or perhaps even a few years beyond that. According to the Gompertz mortality law, which is basically a model to calculate the mortality of humans, this only makes sense because death depends on certain factors that cant be changed. A team of researchers at the Gero biotech firm recently published their study, which essentially challenged this misconception.
Putting it simply, Gompertz law uses whats called the Strehler-Mildvan (SM) correlation in order to explain mortality, which is basically the sum of two factors that will inevitably increase on an exponential level as people age, Futurism reports. The team at Gero looked into this correlation and found that it had no factual basis despite the fact that it has practically been accepted for over five decades.
This concept was popularized back in the 60s when it was published in the journal Science. It really put scientists who wanted to extend human life in a bind as well because the SM correlation suggests that trying to prolong life while young will have the effect of actually shortening lifespan. According to the study that the Gero team published, this is simply not the case.
Titled Strehler-Mildvan correlation is a degenerate manifold of Gompertz fit, the study basically argues that the conclusion derived from the SM correlation has no actual basis in biology. In a press release, the teams public face Peter Fedichev noted how this study will impact research into extending human life.
Elimination of SM correlation from theories of aging is good news, because if it was not just negative correlation between Gompertz parameters, but the real dependence, it would have banned optimal anti-aging interventions and limited human possibilities to life extension, Fedichev said.
Basically, scientists are now free to research the ways to increase human lifespan. In fact, they could potentially extend it as much as they want.
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Posted: at 3:11 am
Layer 8 is written by Michael Cooney, an online news editor with Network World.
DARPA is going to have to contend with an Earth-bound problem if it is to get its plan to service satellites in geosynchronous orbit into space.
The agency this week said it had picked Space Systems Loral (SSL) as its commercial partner to develop technologies under its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program that would enable cooperative inspection and servicing of satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), more than 20,000 miles above the Earth, and demonstrate those technologies on orbit.
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But SSL competitor Orbital ATF promptly filed a lawsuit looking to stop the award.
Inside Defense.com reported that according to the complaintfiled in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Orbital ATK is seeking a permanent injunction that would prohibit further action on DARPA's Robotic Servicing of Geospatial Satellites program as well as a judgment that the project violates the National Space Policy and the Administrative Procedure Act. Orbital ATK says in its lawsuit that it has long worked on in-space satellite servicing. It is developing the Mission Extension Vehicle, which it describes as a "satellite life extension service for GEO satellites.
According to the Orbital website the MEV docks with customers existing satellites providing the propulsion and attitude control needed to extend their lives. The MEV is capable of docking with virtually all-geosynchronous satellites with minimal interruption to operations. It will let satellite operators significantly extend satellite mission life, activate new markets, drive asset value and protect their franchises. Orbital subsidiary Space Logistics LLC delivers life extension services that are flexible, scalable, capital-efficient and low-risk.
In a release, today (Feb. 9) DARPA said RSGS will demonstrate a suite of capabilities critical to national security and not currently available or anticipated to be offered commercially in the near term, including ultra-close inspection, repair of mechanical anomalies, and installation of technical packages on the exterior of US satellites, all of which require highly dexterous robotic arms. DARPA has already designed and created the required robotic arms.
Under the RSGS program, a DARPA-developed modular toolkit (the robotic payload), including hardware and software, would be joined to a privately developed spacecraft to create a commercially operated robotic servicing vehicle that could make house calls in space, DARPA stated.
DARPA said its role will be to contribute the robotics technology, expertise, and a government-provided launch while SSL would contribute the satellite to carry the robotic payload, integration of the payload onto it and the RSV to the launch vehicle, and the mission operations center and staff.
Since there are roughly four times as many commercial satellites in GEO as Government satellites, DARPA elected to find a commercial partner capable of servicing both in order to lower the cost of servicing to the Government and commercial entities and collect a broader range of research data. This partnership approach will enable the fastest deployment of RSGS capability, DARPA wrote.
DARPA continued: After a successful on-orbit demonstration of the robotic servicing vehicle, SSL would own and operate the vehicle and make cooperative servicing available to both military and commercial GEO satellite owners on a fee-for-service basis. In exchange for providing government property to SSL, the government will obtain reduced priced servicing of its satellites and access to commercial satellite servicing data throughout the operational life of the RSV.
Government-developed RSGS technologies would not become the exclusive property of DARPAs commercial partner but would be shared with other qualified and interested U.S. space companies. Qualified companies would be able to obtain and license the technology through cooperative research and development agreements.
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In December, DARPA proposed consortium of industry players that will research, develop, and publish standards for safe commercial robotic servicing operations in Earths orbit. Specifically, DARPA said it wants to create the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations or CONFERS that looks to establish a forum that would use best practices from government and industry to research, develop and publish non-binding, consensus-derived technical and safety standards for on-orbit servicing operations. In doing so, the program would provide a clear technical basis for definitions and expectations of responsible behavior in outer space. In the end the ultimate goal is to provide the technical foundation to shape safe and responsible commercial space operations to preserve the safety of the global commons of space, DARPA stated.
Recent technological advances have made the longstanding dream of on-orbit robotic servicing of satellites a near-term possibility. The potential advantages of that unprecedented capability are enormous. Instead of designing their satellites to accommodate the harsh reality that, once launched, their investments could never be repaired or upgraded, satellite owners could use robotic vehicles to physically inspect, assist, and modify their on-orbit assets. That could significantly lower construction and deployment costs while dramatically extending satellite utility, resilience, and reliability, DARPA stated. But these efforts all face a major roadblock: the lack of clear, widely accepted technical and safety standards for responsible performance of on-orbit activities involving commercial satellites, including rendezvous and proximity operations that dont involve physical contact with satellites and robotic servicing operations that would. Without these standards, the long-term sustainability of outer space operations is potentially at risk.
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Posted: February 9, 2017 at 6:11 am
The Strehler-Mildvan Correlation
The scientific team of biotech company Gero recently published a study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology that debunks a long-held misconception regarding two parameters of the Gompertz mortality law a mortality modelthat represents human death as the sumof two components that exponentially increases with age. The Gero team studied whats called the Strehler-Mildvan (SM) correlation and found no real biological reasoning behind it, despite having been held true for more than a half a century now.
The SM correlation, derived from the Strehler-Mildvan general theory of aging and mortality, is a mechanism-based explanation of Gompertz law. Specifically, the SM correlation uses two Gompertz coefficients called the Mortality Rate Doubling Time (MRDT) and Initial Mortality Rate (IMR). Popularized in the 1960s in a paper published in Science, the SM correlation suggests that reducing mortality rate through any intervention at a young age could lower the MRDT, thus accelerating aging. As such, the hypothesis disrupts the development of any anti-aging therapy, effectively making optimal aging treatments impossible.
The Gero team, however, realized that the SM correlation is a flawed assumption. Instead of using machine learning techniques for anti-aging therapy design, the researchers relied on an evidence-based science approach. Peter Fedichev and his team tried to determine the physical processes behind the SM correlation. In doing so, they realized the fundamental discrepancy between analytical considerations and the possibility of SM correlation. We worked through the entire life histories of thousands of C. elegans that were genetically identical, and the results showed that this correlation was indeed a pure fitting artifact, Fedichev saidin a press release.
Other studieshave questioned the validity of the SM correlation, but in their published study, Fedichev and his team were able to show how the SM correlation arises naturally as a degenerate manifold of Gompertz fit. This suggests that, instead of understanding SM correlation as a biological fact, it is really an artifactual property of the fit.
This discovery is particularly relevant now as more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that aging is a disease and, as such, could be treated. They are working hard to find ways to extend human life, and many of theseanti-aging studies are yielding curious developments.
Elimination of SM correlation from theories of aging is good news, because if it was not just negative correlation between Gompertz parameters, but the real dependence, it would have banned optimal anti-aging interventions and limited human possibilities to life extension, Fedichev explained. In order words,human life extension has no definitive limit.
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