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The giant gypsum crystals of Naica cave have fascinated scientists since their discovery in 2000. Human activity has changed the microclimate inside the cave, making scientists wonder about the potential environmental impact on the crystals. Over the last 9 years, we have studied approximately 70 samples. This paper reports on the detailed chemical–structural characterization of the impurities present at the surface of these crystals and the experimental simulations of their potential deterioration patterns. Selected samples were studied by petrography, optical and electronic microscopy, and laboratory X-ray diffraction. 2D grazing incidence X-ray diffraction, X-ray μ-fluorescence, and X-ray μ-absorption near-edge structure were used to identify the impurities and their associated phases. These impurities were deposited during the latest stage of the gypsum crystal formation and have afterward evolved with the natural high humidity. The simulations of the behavior of the crystals in microclimatic chambers produced crystal dissolution by 1–4% weight fraction under high CO2 concentration and permanent fog, and gypsum phase dehydration under air and CO2 gaseous environment. Our work suggests that most surface impurities are of natural origin; the most significant anthropogenic damage on the crystals is the extraction of water from the caves.
The stiffness of conjugated polymers should lead to chain alignment near buried interfaces, even if the polymer film is nominally amorphous. Although simulations predict that this alignment layer is approximately 1.5 times the persistence length, chain alignment at buried interfaces of amorphous polymers has not been experimentally measured. Using Mueller matrix spectroscopy, the optical response of regiorandom poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3HT) was modeled in order to extract the aligned layer thickness. By approximating the optical properties of the aligned layer as that of regioregular P3HT, the data can be effectively modeled. When the film is thicker than 150 nm, optical properties are best described with a 4-nm aligned layer, which is quantitatively consistent with previous predictions.
Polarized resonant soft x-ray scattering (RSoXS) can leverage contrast between domains in mass, chemical bonds, and chain orientation to characterize polymer thin films. Although mass and chemical contrast can be predicted from the absorption spectra, the origins of orientational contrast are not fully understood. For example, in the case where one domain is crystalline, it is not obvious how the total crystallinity will affect the anisotropy. Using a simple calculation, we predict polarized RSoXS of model structures and compare with experiment. Through experiments and simulations, we demonstrate that scattering anisotropy is not monotonically related to local order but instead peaks when 50% of domains have aligned chains, i.e., when the sample is 50% crystalline.
This study examined (1) the association of dietary energy density from solid (EDS) and solid plus liquids (EDSL) with adiposity and cardiometabolic risk factors (CRF) in children with overweight and obesity, (2) the effect of under-reporting on the mentioned associations and (3) whether the association between ED and body composition and CRF is influenced by levels of physical activity. In a cross-sectional design, 208 overweight and obese children (8–12-year-old; 111 boys) completed two non-consecutive 24 h recalls. ED was calculated using two different approaches: EDS and EDSL. Under-reporters were determined with the Goldberg method. Body composition, anthropometry and fasting blood sample measurements were performed. Moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was registered with accelerometers (7-d-register). Linear regressions were performed to evaluate the association of ED with the previously mentioned variables. Neither EDS nor EDSL were associated with body composition or CRF. However, when under-reporters were excluded, EDS was positively associated with BMI (P=0·019), body fat percentage (P=0·005), abdominal fat (P=0·008) and fat mass index (P=0·018), while EDSL was positively associated with body fat percentage (P=0·008) and fat mass index (P=0·026). When stratifying the group according to physical activity recommendations, the aforementioned associations were only maintained for non-compliers. Cluster analysis showed that the low-ED and high-MVPA group presented the healthiest profile for all adiposity and CRF. These findings could partly explain inconsistencies in literature, as we found that different ED calculations entail distinct results. Physical activity levels and excluding under-reporters greatly influence the associations between ED and adiposity in children with overweight and obesity.
We investigated the distribution of comorbidities among adult tuberculosis (TB) patients in Chiapas, the poorest Mexican state, with a high presence of indigenous population, and a corridor for migrants from Latin America. Secondary analysis on 5508 new adult TB patients diagnosed between 2010 and 2014 revealed that the most prevalent comorbidities were diabetes mellitus (DM; 19.1%) and undernutrition (14.4%). The prevalence of DM in these TB patients was significantly higher among middle aged (41–64 years) compared with older adults (⩾65 years) (38.6% vs. 23.2%; P < 0.0001). The prevalence of undernutrition was lower among those with DM, and higher in communities with high indigenous presence. Immigrants only comprised 2% of all TB cases, but were more likely to have unfavourable TB treatment outcomes (treatment failure, death and default) when compared with those born in Chiapas (29.5% vs. 11.1%; P < 0.05). Unfavourable TB outcomes were also more prevalent among the TB patients with undernutrition, HIV or older age, but not DM (P < 0.05). Our study in Chiapas illustrates the challenges of other regions worldwide where social (e.g. indigenous origin, poverty, migration) and host factors (DM, undernutrition, HIV, older age) are associated with TB. Further understanding of these critical factors will guide local policy makers and health providers to improve TB management.
Colombia's 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been exposed to trauma, loss, and hardships. Common mental disorders (CMDs) are prevalent in this group, yet there are few evidence-based psychosocial interventions for this population. We assessed the feasibility and acceptability of a stepped-care intervention for women IDPs in Bogota, Colombia.
Feasibility to recruit participants for an intervention trial, to screen for CMDs and displacement-related traumas, to refer high-risk cases to professional consultation, to implement evidence-based interpersonal counseling (IPC) for women with diagnosed CMDs, to retain participants in the intervention, and to conduct follow-up assessments was assessed. Assessment instruments were validated. The intervention was delivered by trained outreach personnel. Intervention acceptability was assessed by monitoring session attendance, dropout rates, and satisfaction. Potential efficacy was evaluated with pre- and post-intervention measures of CMDs.
We recruited 279 women IDPs into the intervention. On screening, 177 (63.4%) had symptom levels suggesting a CMD. Participants endorsed a wide range of displacement-related exposures. Most participants receiving IPC decreased their symptom levels at follow-up. Many participants did not complete the recommended number of IPC sessions; loss to follow-up was 30%. The performance of the outreach personnel improved after the initial intervention team was replaced with community members trained to deliver the intervention. The Bogotá health system was unable to reliably accommodate emergency psychiatric referrals.
The IPC intervention shows promise, but significant challenges remain for improving reach, adherence, and participant retention. We identified strategies and partnerships to redress some of the main study limitations.
Resonant soft x-ray scattering (RSoXS) leverages chemical specificity to characterize thin films but is limited near the nitrogen edge. The challenge is that commercially available x-ray transparent substrates are composed of Si3N4 and thereby absorb incident x-rays and generate incoherent fluorescence. To overcome this challenge, we designed and fabricated Al2O3 free-standing films for use as RSoXS windows. Al2O3 films offer higher x-ray transmittance and minimal fluorescence near the nitrogen edge. As an example, Al2O3 windows allow for nitrogen RSoXS of conjugated block copolymer thin films that reveal domain spacings, which are not apparent with commercially available Si3N4 substrates.
We carried out simultaneous observations of H2O and OH masers, and radio continuum at 1.3 cm with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) towards 4 water-fountain candidates. Water fountains (WFs) are evolved stars, in the AGB and post-AGB phase, with collimated jets traced by high-velocity H2O masers. Up to now, only 15 sources have been confirmed as WFs through interferometric observations. We are interested in the discovery and study of new WFs. A higher number of these sources is important to understand their properties as a group, because they may represent one of the first manifestations of collimated mass-loss in evolved stars. These observations will provide information about the role of magnetic fields in the launching of jets in WFs. Our aim is to ascertain the WF nature of these candidates, and investigate the spatial distribution of the H2O and OH masers.
Reproducing the planes of co-orbiting satellites observed in the MW and M31 so far has represented a challenge for cosmological simulations. We have developed a new method to search for kinematically-coherent groups of satellites and applied it to 2 different cosmological hydro-simulations of disc galaxies. In each simulation we have found such a group, that represents roughly half of the total satellite population and is distributed on a fairly thin plane that persists in time. These results are compatible with the MW and M31 observed planes.
Fe is an essential nutrient for many bacteria, and Fe supplementation has been reported to affect the composition of the gut microbiota in both Fe-deficient and Fe-replete individuals outside pregnancy. This study examined whether the dose of Fe in pregnancy multivitamin supplements affects the overall composition of the gut microbiota in overweight and obese pregnant women in early pregnancy. Women participating in the SPRING study with a faecal sample obtained at 16 weeks’ gestation were included in this substudy. For each subject, the brand of multivitamin used was recorded. Faecal microbiome composition was assessed by 16S rRNA sequencing and analysed with the QIIME software suite. Dietary intake of Fe was assessed using a FFQ at 16 weeks’ gestation. Women were grouped as receiving low (<60 mg/d, n 94) or high (≥60 mg/d; n 65) Fe supplementation. The median supplementary Fe intake in the low group was 10 (interquartile range (IQR) 5–10) v. 60 (IQR 60–60) mg/d in the high group (P<0·001). Dietary Fe intake did not differ between the groups (10·0 (IQR 7·4–13·3) v. 9·8 (IQR 8·2–13·2) mg/d). Fe supplementation did not significantly affect the composition of the faecal microbiome at any taxonomic level. Network analysis showed that the gut microbiota in the low Fe supplementation group had a higher predominance of SCFA producers. Pregnancy multivitamin Fe content has a minor effect on the overall composition of the gut microbiota of overweight and obese pregnant women at 16 weeks’ gestation.
The SPICA mid- and far-infrared telescope will address fundamental issues in our understanding of star formation and ISM physics in galaxies. A particular hallmark of SPICA is the outstanding sensitivity enabled by the cold telescope, optimised detectors, and wide instantaneous bandwidth throughout the mid- and far-infrared. The spectroscopic, imaging, and polarimetric observations that SPICA will be able to collect will help in clarifying the complex physical mechanisms which underlie the baryon cycle of galaxies. In particular, (i) the access to a large suite of atomic and ionic fine-structure lines for large samples of galaxies will shed light on the origin of the observed spread in star-formation rates within and between galaxies, (ii) observations of HD rotational lines (out to ~10 Mpc) and fine structure lines such as [C ii] 158 μm (out to ~100 Mpc) will clarify the main reservoirs of interstellar matter in galaxies, including phases where CO does not emit, (iii) far-infrared spectroscopy of dust and ice features will address uncertainties in the mass and composition of dust in galaxies, and the contributions of supernovae to the interstellar dust budget will be quantified by photometry and monitoring of supernova remnants in nearby galaxies, (iv) observations of far-infrared cooling lines such as [O i] 63 μm from star-forming molecular clouds in our Galaxy will evaluate the importance of shocks to dissipate turbulent energy. The paper concludes with requirements for the telescope and instruments, and recommendations for the observing strategy.
We describe the investigation of two temporally coincident illness clusters involving salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus in two states. Cases were defined as gastrointestinal illness following two meal events. Investigators interviewed ill persons. Stool, food and environmental samples underwent pathogen testing. Alabama: Eighty cases were identified. Median time from meal to illness was 5·8 h. Salmonella Heidelberg was identified from 27 of 28 stool specimens tested, and coagulase-positive S. aureus was isolated from three of 16 ill persons. Environmental investigation indicated that food handling deficiencies occurred. Colorado: Seven cases were identified. Median time from meal to illness was 4·5 h. Five persons were hospitalised, four of whom were admitted to the intensive care unit. Salmonella Heidelberg was identified in six of seven stool specimens and coagulase-positive S. aureus in three of six tested. No single food item was implicated in either outbreak. These two outbreaks were linked to infection with Salmonella Heidelberg, but additional factors, such as dual aetiology that included S. aureus or the dose of salmonella ingested may have contributed to the short incubation periods and high illness severity. The outbreaks underscore the importance of measures to prevent foodborne illness through appropriate washing, handling, preparation and storage of food.
Insect fauna biodiversity in natural protected areas has not been thoroughly studied. Therefore, the aim of this work was to assess whether and how vegetation types, land management and seasonality influence the diversity of Ichneumonidae (Hymenoptera) in the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve (Mexico). A sampling programme was conducted using Malaise traps from 2008 to 2009 in three vegetation types, each with two conservation zones (core and buffer zones). Three seasons were considered: rainy, dry and north-winds (isolated storms from November to February). A total of 336 species were identified. Rarefaction and Generalized Linear Model indicated higher species richness and abundance, respectively, in the buffer zone of the dry forest; possible explanations for this finding include the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, wherein diversity can be higher in sites where disturbance is not very frequent or very intense, and the ‘enemies hypothesis’, wherein structural complexity and high plant diversity favour increased predators or, in this case, parasitoids. Diversity was higher during the rainy season, which may have been due to the higher availability of resources. Vegetation and management had a positive impact on the Coc (attack cocoons and pupae) and Myc (attack concealed larvae living in the fruiting bodies of mushrooms) parasitoid guilds. Members of the Coc guild are generalist parasitoids, which may be favoured in complex vegetation with a high richness of potential hosts and non-hosts. The Myc guild requires certain environmental conditions that promote fungal growth, such as humidity, that is absent in the other vegetation types of savannah and coastal dune scrubland.
We present polarimetric observations of the 4 ground-state transitions of OH, toward a sample of maser-emitting planetary nebulae (PNe) using the Australia Telescope Compact Array. This sample includes confirmed OH-emitting PNe, confirmed and candidate H2O-maser-emitting PNe. Polarimetric observations provide information related to the magnetic field of these sources. Maser-emitting PNe are very young PNe and magnetic fields are a key ingredient in the early evolution and shaping process of PNe. Our preliminary results suggest that magnetic field strengths may change very rapidly in young PNe.