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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
We apply two methods to estimate the 21-cm bispectrum from data taken within the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) project of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). Using data acquired with the Phase II compact array allows a direct bispectrum estimate to be undertaken on the multiple redundantly spaced triangles of antenna tiles, as well as an estimate based on data gridded to the uv-plane. The direct and gridded bispectrum estimators are applied to 21 h of high-band (167–197 MHz; z = 6.2–7.5) data from the 2016 and 2017 observing seasons. Analytic predictions for the bispectrum bias and variance for point-source foregrounds are derived. We compare the output of these approaches, the foreground contribution to the signal, and future prospects for measuring the bispectra with redundant and non-redundant arrays. We find that some triangle configurations yield bispectrum estimates that are consistent with the expected noise level after 10 h, while equilateral configurations are strongly foreground-dominated. Careful choice of triangle configurations may be made to reduce foreground bias that hinders power spectrum estimators, and the 21-cm bispectrum may be accessible in less time than the 21-cm power spectrum for some wave modes, with detections in hundreds of hours.
Outbreaks of emerging infectious disease are a constant threat. In the last 10 years, there have been outbreaks of 2009 influenza A (H1N1), Ebola virus disease, and Zika virus. Stigma associated with infectious disease can be a barrier to adopting healthy behaviors, leading to more severe health problems, ongoing disease transmission, and difficulty controlling infectious disease outbreaks. Much has been learned about infectious disease and stigma in the context of nearly 4 decades of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome pandemic. In this paper, we define stigma, discuss its relevance to infectious disease outbreaks, including how individuals and communities can be affected. Adapting lessons learned from the rich literature on HIV-related stigma, we propose a strategy for reducing stigma during infectious disease outbreaks such as Ebola virus disease and Zika virus. The implementation of brief, practical strategies such as the ones proposed here might help reduce stigma and facilitate more effective control of emerging infectious diseases.
Introduction: Emergency department (ED) congestion is an ongoing threat to quality care. Traditional measures of ED efficiency use census and wait times over extended time intervals (e.g. per year, per day), failing to capture the hourly variations in ED flow. Borrowing from the traffic theory framework used to describe cars on a freeway, ED flow can instead be characterized by three fundamental parameters: flux (patients traversing a care segment per unit time), density (patients in a care segment per unit time), and duration (length of stay in a care segment). This method allows for the calculation of near-instantaneous ED flux and density. To illustrate, we examined the association between stretcher occupancy and time to physician initial assessment (PIA), seeking to identify thresholds where flux and PIA deteriorate. Methods: We used administrative data as reported to government agencies for 115,559 ED visits from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2016 at a tertiary academic hospital. Time stamps collected at triage, PIA, and departure were verified by nosologists and used to define two care segments: awaiting assessment or receiving care. Using open-source software developed in-house, we calculated flow measures for each segment at 90-minute intervals. Graphical analysis was supplemented by regression analysis, examining PIA times of high (CTAS 1-3) or low (CTAS 4-5) acuity patients against ED occupancy (=density/staffed stretchers) adjusting for the day of the week, season and fiscal year. Results: At occupancy levels below 50%, PIA times remain stable and flux increases with density, reflecting free flow. Beyond 50% occupancy, PIA times increase linearly and flux plateaus, indicating congestion. While PIA times further deteriorate above 100% occupancy, flow is maintained, reflecting care delivery in non-traditional spaces (e.g. hallways). An inflection point where flux decreased with increased crowding was not identified, despite lengthening queues. Conclusion: The operational performance of a modern ED can be captured and visualized using techniques borrowed from the analysis of vehicular traffic. Unlike cars on a jammed roadway, patients behave more like a compressible fluid and ED care continues despite high degrees of crowding. Nevertheless, congestion begins well below 100% occupancy, presumably reflecting the need for stretcher turnover and saturation in subsegmental work processes. This methodology shows promise to analyze and mitigate the many factors contributing to ED crowding.
We read with interest the recent editorial, “The Hennepin Ketamine Study,” by Dr. Samuel Stratton commenting on the research ethics, methodology, and the current public controversy surrounding this study.1 As researchers and investigators of this study, we strongly agree that prospective clinical research in the prehospital environment is necessary to advance the science of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and emergency medicine. We also agree that accomplishing this is challenging as the prehospital environment often encounters patient populations who cannot provide meaningful informed consent due to their emergent conditions. To ensure that fellow emergency medicine researchers understand the facts of our work so they may plan future studies, and to address some of the questions and concerns in Dr. Stratton’s editorial, the lay press, and in social media,2 we would like to call attention to some inaccuracies in Dr. Stratton’s editorial, and to the lay media stories on which it appears to be based.
Ho JD, Cole JB, Klein LR, Olives TD, Driver BE, Moore JC, Nystrom PC, Arens AM, Simpson NS, Hick JL, Chavez RA, Lynch WL, Miner JR. The Hennepin Ketamine Study investigators’ reply. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019;34(2):111–113
A low energy x-ray radiography apparatus has been developed primarily for the nondestructive inspection of LiD laser fusion targets. Exposure times of 15 minutes at 6 keV have been found satisfactory for the detection of voids in nominal 100 micron diameter spheres.
A two-year (2015 and 2016) grazing study was established to compare ewe and lamb performance when grazed on a perennial ryegrass only sward compared to more diverse sward types. In that study four sward types were investigated: a perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) only sward receiving 163 kg nitrogen per hectare per year (N/ha/yr) (PRG); a perennial ryegrass and white clover (Trifolium repens) sward receiving 90 kg N/ha/yr (PRGWC); a six species sward (two grasses (perennial ryegrass and timothy (Phleum pratense)), two legumes (white and red clover (Trifolium pratense)) and two herbs (ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and chicory (Cichorium intybus)) receiving 90 kg N/ha/yr (6S); and a nine species sward containing cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata), greater birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) in addition to the six species listed above, receiving 90 kg N/ha/yr (9S). Each sward type was managed as a separate farmlet and stocked with 30 twin-rearing ewes at a stocking rate of 12.5 ewes/ha under rotational grazing management from turnout post-lambing until housing. Lamb live weight was recorded fortnightly and lambs were drafted for slaughter at 45 kg. Ewe live weight and body condition score (BCS) were recorded on five occasions annually. Lamb faecal egg count (FEC) was recorded fortnightly and lambs were treated with anthelmintics when mean lamb FEC per sward type was above 400 eggs per gram. Ewes grazing the 6S and 9S swards had heavier (P < 0.01) live weights and BCS throughout the study than the ewes grazing the PRG sward. Lambs grazing the 6S sward were heavier than lambs grazing all other sward types of 14 weeks old (P < 0.05). Lambs grazing the PRG sward required more days to reach slaughter weight than lambs grazing all other sward types (P < 0.001). Lambs grazing the 6S and 9S swards required fewer anthelmintic treatments than lambs grazing the PRG or PRGWC swards. In conclusion, grazing multispecies swards improved ewe and lamb performance and reduced the requirement for chemical anthelmintics.
Background: Central neuropathic pain syndromes are a result of central nervous system injury, most commonly related to stroke, traumatic spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis. These syndromes are distinctly less common than peripheral neuropathic pain, and less is known regarding the underlying pathophysiology, appropriate pharmacotherapy, and long-term outcomes. The objective of this study was to determine the long-term clinical effectiveness of the management of central neuropathic pain relative to peripheral neuropathic pain at tertiary pain centers. Methods: Patients diagnosed with central (n=79) and peripheral (n=710) neuropathic pain were identified for analysis from a prospective observational cohort study of patients with chronic neuropathic pain recruited from seven Canadian tertiary pain centers. Data regarding patient characteristics, analgesic use, and patient-reported outcomes were collected at baseline and 12-month follow-up. The primary outcome measure was the composite of a reduction in average pain intensity and pain interference. Secondary outcome measures included assessments of function, mood, quality of life, catastrophizing, and patient satisfaction. Results: At 12-month follow-up, 13.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.6-25.8) of patients with central neuropathic pain and complete data sets (n=52) achieved a ≥30% reduction in pain, whereas 38.5% (95% CI, 25.3-53.0) achieved a reduction of at least 1 point on the Pain Interference Scale. The proportion of patients with central neuropathic pain achieving both these measures, and thus the primary outcome, was 9.6% (95% CI, 3.2-21.0). Patients with peripheral neuropathic pain and complete data sets (n=463) were more likely to achieve this primary outcome at 12 months (25.3% of patients; 95% CI, 21.4-29.5) (p=0.012). Conclusion: Patients with central neuropathic pain syndromes managed in tertiary care centers were less likely to achieve a meaningful improvement in pain and function compared with patients with peripheral neuropathic pain at 12-month follow-up.
The US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) gives food safety regulators increased authority to require implementation of safety measures to reduce the contamination of produce. To evaluate the future impact of FSMA on food safety, a better understanding is needed regarding outbreaks attributed to the consumption of raw produce. Data reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System during 1998–2013 were analysed. During 1998–2013, there were 972 raw produce outbreaks reported resulting in 34 674 outbreak-associated illnesses, 2315 hospitalisations, and 72 deaths. Overall, the total number of foodborne outbreaks reported decreased by 38% during the study period and the number of raw produce outbreaks decreased 19% during the same period; however, the percentage of outbreaks attributed to raw produce among outbreaks with a food reported increased from 8% during 1998–2001 to 16% during 2010–2013. Raw produce outbreaks were most commonly attributed to vegetable row crops (38% of outbreaks), fruits (35%) and seeded vegetables (11%). The most common aetiologic agents identified were norovirus (54% of outbreaks), Salmonella enterica (21%) and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (10%). Food-handling errors were reported in 39% of outbreaks. The proportion of all foodborne outbreaks attributable to raw produce has been increasing. Evaluation of safety measures to address the contamination on farms, during processing and food preparation, should take into account the trends occurring before FSMA implementation.
We present a new technique for computing the optical constants for partially disordered solids based on their crystalline optical constants. The technique assumes that the material is composed of a continuous distribution of oscillators (CDO) and that the degree of atomic disorder can be described by one, or at most two, scalar parameters. We apply the technique to an oft-mentioned solar system material, olivine, and show that its dielectric functions can be predicted for an arbitrary degree of disorder.
The Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas contributes significantly to global aquaculture; however, C. gigas culture has been affected by ostreid herpesvirus-1 (OsHV-1) and variants. The dynamics of how the virus maintains itself at culture sites is unclear and the role of carriers, reservoirs or hosts is unknown. Both wild and cultured mussels Mytilus spp. (Mytilus edulis, Mytilus galloprovincialis and hybrids) are commonly found at C. gigas culture sites. The objective of this study was to investigate if Mytilus spp. can harbour the virus and if viral transmission can occur between mussels and oysters. Mytilus spp. living at oyster trestles, 400–500 m higher up the shore from the trestles and up to 26 km at non-culture sites were screened for OsHV-1 and variants by all the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommended diagnostic methods including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), quantitative PCR (qPCR), histology, in situ hybridization and confirmation using direct sequencing. The particular primers that target OsHV-1 and variants, including OsHV-1 microVar (μVar), were used in the PCR and qPCR. OsHV-1 μVar was detected in wild Mytilus spp. at C. gigas culture sites and more significantly the virus was detected in mussels at non-culture sites. Cohabitation of exposed wild mussels and naïve C. gigas resulted in viral transmission after 14 days, under an elevated temperature regime. These results indicate that mussels can harbour OsHV-1 μVar; however, the impact of OsHV-1 μVar on Mytilus spp. requires further investigation.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
We present techniques developed to calibrate and correct Murchison Widefield Array low-frequency (72–300 MHz) radio observations for polarimetry. The extremely wide field-of-view, excellent instantaneous (u, v)-coverage and sensitivity to degree-scale structure that the Murchison Widefield Array provides enable instrumental calibration, removal of instrumental artefacts, and correction for ionospheric Faraday rotation through imaging techniques. With the demonstrated polarimetric capabilities of the Murchison Widefield Array, we discuss future directions for polarimetric science at low frequencies to answer outstanding questions relating to polarised source counts, source depolarisation, pulsar science, low-mass stars, exoplanets, the nature of the interstellar and intergalactic media, and the solar environment.
PSR J0337+1715 is a millisecond radio pulsar in a hierarchical stellar triple system with two white dwarfs. This system is a unique and excellent laboratory in which to test the strong equivalence principle (SEP) of general relativity. An initial SEP-violation test was performed using direct 3-body numerical integration of the orbit in order to model the more than 25000 pulse times of arrival (TOAs) from three radio telescopes: Arecibo, Green Bank and Westerbork. In this work I present our efforts to quantify the effects of systematics in the TOAs and timing residuals, which limit the precision of an SEP test. In particular, we apply Fourier-based techniques to the timing residuals in order to isolate the effects of systematics that can masquerade as an SEP violation.
The ongoing Green Bank North Celestial Cap pulsar survey is using the Green Bank Telescope to search for pulsars and transients over 85% of the celestial sphere. The survey has resulted in over 150 new pulsars, among which are high-precision millisecond pulsars, several binary pulsars, including at least one relativistic double neutron star system, nulling pulsars, and several nearby millisecond pulsars. We find no fast radio bursts in the survey to date. We present these results and discuss the future prospects for the survey.
The millisecond pulsar PSR J0337+1715 is in a mildly relativistic hierarchical triple system with two white dwarfs. This offers the possibility of testing the universality of free fall: does the neutron star fall with the same acceleration as the inner white dwarf in the gravity of the outer white dwarf? We have carried out an intensive pulsar timing campaign, yielding some 27000 pulse time-of-arrival (TOA) measurements with a median uncertainty of 1.2 μs. Here we describe our analysis procedure and timing model.
We present low-frequency spectral energy distributions of 60 known radio pulsars observed with the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. We searched the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey images for 200-MHz continuum radio emission at the position of all pulsars in the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) pulsar catalogue. For the 60 confirmed detections, we have measured flux densities in 20 × 8 MHz bands between 72 and 231 MHz. We compare our results to existing measurements and show that the Murchison Widefield Array flux densities are in good agreement.
Using cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), it was shown for four different types of carbon that electrode treatments at negative potentials enhance the kinetics of VIV-VV and inhibit the kinetics of VII-VIII while electrode treatments at positive potentials inhibit the kinetics of VIV-VV and enhance the kinetics of VII-VIII. These observations may explain conflicting reports in the literature. The potentials required for activation and deactivation of electrodes were examined in detail. The results suggest that interchanging the positive and negative electrodes in a vanadium flow battery (VFB) would reduce the overpotential at the negative electrode and so improve the performance. This is supported by flow-cell experiments. Thus, periodic catholyte-anolyte interchange, or equivalent alternatives such as battery overdischarge, show promise of improving the voltage efficiency of VFBs.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and can be considered the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. NAFLD represents a spectrum of disease, from the relatively benign simple steatosis to the more serious non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which can progress to liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and end-stage liver failure, necessitating liver transplantation. Although the increasing prevalence of NAFLD in developed countries has substantial implications for public health, many of the precise mechanisms accounting for the development and progression of NAFLD are unclear. The environment in early life is an important determinant of cardiovascular disease risk in later life and studies suggest this also extends to NAFLD. Here we review data from animal models and human studies which suggest that fetal and early life exposure to maternal under- and overnutrition, excess glucocorticoids and environmental pollutants may confer an increased susceptibility to NAFLD development and progression in offspring and that such effects may be sex-specific. We also consider studies aimed at identifying potential dietary and pharmacological interventions aimed at reducing this risk. We suggest that further human epidemiological studies are needed to ensure that data from animal models are relevant to human health.