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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.
The house mouse (Mus musculus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus) are reservoir hosts for zoonotic pathogens, several of which cause neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Studies of the prevalence of these NTD-causing zoonotic pathogens, in house mice and black rats from tropical residential areas are scarce. Three hundred and two house mice and 161 black rats were trapped in 2013 from two urban neighbourhoods and a rural village in Yucatan, Mexico, and subsequently tested for Trypanosoma cruzi, Hymenolepis diminuta and Leptospira interrogans. Using the polymerase chain reaction we detected T. cruzi DNA in the hearts of 4·9% (8/165) and 6·2% (7/113) of house mice and black rats, respectively. We applied the sedimentation technique to detect eggs of H. diminuta in 0·5% (1/182) and 14·2% (15/106) of house mice and black rats, respectively. Through the immunofluorescent imprint method, L. interrogans was identified in 0·9% (1/106) of rat kidney impressions. Our results suggest that the black rat could be an important reservoir for T. cruzi and H. diminuta in the studied sites. Further studies examining seasonal and geographical patterns could increase our knowledge on the epidemiology of these pathogens in Mexico and the risk to public health posed by rodents.
Star formation in the Galactic Center (GC) happens under unusual conditions, which include high gas temperatures, high velocity dispersions, and strong tidal shear (Spergel & Blitz 1992; Blitz et al. 1993). All these conditions may lead to an initial mass function (IMF) dominated by massive stars (Morris & Serabyn 1996). A history of chemical evolution dominated by massive stars is expected to result in enhancements of α-elements (Mg, Si, Ca, Ti) relative to Fe (Wheeler et al. 1989). This argument is the main motivation to study the abundance of Fe and Mg in GC stars.
We are measuring Fe abundances of cool, luminous stars within 30 pc of the center of the Milky Way. Our sample contains both AGB stars and M supergiants. Low-resolution (λ/Δλ = 500) H and K band spectra are used to estimate temperatures and gravities. Stellar Fe abundances are determined from high-resolution (λ/Δλ = 40 000) K band spectra obtained on the IRTF using CSHELL. We find that Fe abundances of stars in the Galactic Center are consistent with the solar Fe abundance.
Maternal obesity programmes offspring development. We addressed maternal obesity effects induced by high-fat diets on maternal mammary gland (MG) structure and function and offspring brain, liver and fat outcomes. Mothers were fed control (C, n 5) or obesogenic (MO, n 5) diet from the time they were weaned through pregnancy beginning at 120 d, through lactation. At offspring postnatal day (PND) 20, milk leptin and nutrients were determined. At the end of lactation, maternal liver and MG fatty acid profile were measured. Desaturase (Δ6D and Δ5D) and elongase (ELOVL 5 and ELOVL 2) protein was measured by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting (WB) in the liver and WB in the MG. In mothers, liver, MG and milk fat content were higher in MO than in C. Liver arachidonic acid (AA) and EPA and MG EPA were lower in MO than in C. Liver desaturases were higher in MO. The MG was heavier in MO than in C, with decreased Δ5D expression in MO. Desaturases and elongases were immunolocalised in parenchymal cells of both groups. Milk yield, water, carbohydrate content, EPA and DHA were lower, whereas milk leptin and AA were higher in MO than in C. At PND 21 and 36, brain weight was less and fat depots were greater in MO offspring than in C. MO decreased male absolute brain weight but not female absolute brain weight. In conclusion, maternal obesity induced by an obesogenic diet negatively affects maternal liver and MG function with the production of significant changes in milk composition. Maternal obesity adversely affects offspring metabolism and development.
Due to the rapid advance of the emergence of resistant microorganisms to different antibiotics, there is a need to create new antimicrobial agents. It is possible that Nanotechnology has a great impact in this area since the nanoparticles can improve the antimicrobial effect of the antibiotics. In this study we used three different metal oxides nanoparticles, the MgO, ZnO and CuO. These nanoparticles were selected because their interactions leading to cell death and their optical properties. The aim of this study is to develop new methods that are more effective against resistance bacteria, developing antibacterial agents using different nanoparticles against Escherichia coli (ATCC 10536), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 10145), and Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC BAA-1026). This study was conducted to evaluate the antibacterial effects of a combination of nanoparticles together with different concentrations of three antibiotics, Gentamicin, Cephalexin and Co-Trimoxazole. The results showed that some nanoparticles are effective to inhibit growth in these microorganisms by increasing the effectiveness of the antibiotic. Therefore, the present study indicates that the combination of the nanoparticles with antibiotics may be applicable as a new antimicrobial agent.
The use of nano-sized silver and its alloys represents an interesting alternative to common food preservation methods, which are based on radiation, heat treatment and low temperature storage. These metal nanoparticles, embedded within a polymeric matrix for instance, would extend the shelf life of perishable foods while acting as a bactericidal agent to prevent food-borne illnesses. Common methods used in the synthesis of metal nanoparticles require toxic solvents and reagents that could be harmful to health and the food itself. In addition, several steps are required to obtain aqueous stable, i.e. dispersible, silver nanoparticles. In this work we propose the microwave-assisted aqueous synthesis of silver-based nanoparticles, (Ag Based NP) functionalized by glutathione (GSH) in a single-step using sodium sulfite (Na2SO3), as reducing agent. Ag-Based nanoparticles were synthesized at pH 6 and 1:3:1 (AgNO3/GSH/ Na2SO3) molar ratio. UV-Vis measurement clearly showed the plasmon peak attributed to silver-based nanoparticles (374 nm). Highly monodispersed water stable Ag-based nanoparticles were observed and 3.897 ± 0.167 nm particle size was determined through Transmission Electron Microscopy. FT-IR measurements suggested the actual GSH-Ag based surface interaction through –SH and –COOH groups; the functionalization by GSH explained the high stability of the nanoparticles in aqueous suspensions. These Ag-GSH nanoparticles exhibited remarkable antimicrobial activity against E. Coli.
The phase composition and the microstructure of multilayer ceramics synthesized by directed laser treatment of ternary powder mixtures of Al2O3–TiO2–Y2O3 have been studied. It is established that at R = 2.34 (where R is TiO2/Y2O3 in mol %) the main phases observed are Y2Ti2O7, α-Al2O3 and a little amount of β-Al2TiO5. The content of the formed phases is determined by the composition of the initial mixtures. The texture of the surface and the microstructure of the formed ceramics depend on the α-Al2O3 and Y2Ti2O7 content. Increasing the content of alumina in the initial mixtures, the surface of the ceramics is saturated by α-Al2O3 crystallites. When a multi-layer synthesis is realized, the Y2Ti2O7 phase is concentrated at the boundary between the two adjacent layers (top and bottom). In the underlying layer, the growth of the corundum crystallites is prolonged due to the additional heating.
In this work results are presented regarding carbon composites produced by high energy mechanical milling and consolidated by spark plasma sintering. The involved energy input in such a processing method has been used to develop composite materials and to synthesize effective in-situ reinforcement. In the as milled and sintered composites various dispersions of graphene, graphitic carbon, and diamonds in an amorphous matrix are found. The graphene, graphitic carbon and diamond phases are synthesized primarily during milling. The TEAM-05 microscope has been used for characterization that is complemented with Raman results. The spark plasma sintering method enhances the presence of graphene, graphitic carbon and diamonds.
We report on the follow-up and epidemiological study triggered by the isolation of the first vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) detected in Europe. The patient and 53 close contacts were screened for S. aureus colonization and all isolates recovered were characterized by multiple molecular typing methods. The VRSA remained confined to the infected foot of the patient and was not detected in any of the close contacts. Nasal colonization with S. aureus was detected in 20 subjects, of whom 15 carried methicilin-susceptible isolates with the remaining five harbouring methicilin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). The majority of the isolates belonged to clones that have been previously shown to be prevalent in Portugal, both in the hospital setting and in the community. Only one isolate, an MRSA, was closely related to the VRSA. Like most of the characterized VRSA isolates from other countries, the VRSA isolated in Portugal belonged to clonal complex (CC) 5. Despite the absence of VRSA dissemination, the recent increase in the incidence of lineages belonging to CC5 in some European countries, including Portugal, may result in more frequent opportunities for the emergence of VRSA.
This study evaluates the behavior of the adherence layers - sawn flat iron boride formed on the surface of steels used in manufacturing industry in Mexico. In steels AISI 1018, AISI 8620 and AISI 316 was characterized this behavior, boriding thermochemical treatment with box technique, with a processing temperature of 1273 °K, with an exposure time of 8 hours. Furthermore the adherence is assessed by the Rockwell C hardness technique prescribed by the German standard VDI 3198 of traction, this impact test qualitatively determine the type of adherence formed three thermochemical steels treated by the technique of boriding. Moreover optical microscopy determines the type of film morphology FeB/ Fe2B of each of the materials exposed to a boriding, also shows the thicknesses of the phases generated in the surface type in all three steels boriding. Phase presence boride FeB/Fe2B was determined by X -ray diffraction (XRD). Technique for scanning electron microscopy (EDS) was evaluated qualitatively the presence of FeB/Fe2B of boronizing. Otherwise determines the hardness and elastic modulus by nanoindentation technique of the phases present in the three steels. Lastly, AISI 1018 and AISI 8620 are bounding scale H1 to H3, the AISI 316 steel has an adherence of H3 to H6 under German standard VDI 3198.
This paper addresses the trajectory tracking control problem of robotic wheelchairs in the presence of modeling uncertainties. The controller has been designed using position and angular measurements. A global ultra-model, or simplified model achieved from flatness considerations is proposed first. This model highly reduces the design complexity of the state estimation and the output feedback control tasks since it groups, as an unknown time-varying disturbance, both the combined effects of all uncertain state-dependent (i.e., endogenous) nonlinearities and those of external (i.e., exogenous) perturbation inputs which are present in the input-to-flat output model of the system. An extended linear high-gain observer, or Generalized Proportional Integral (GPI) observer, is then developed for the simultaneous, though approximate, state and disturbance estimation. The proposed feedback controller combines the global ultra-model and the GPI observers to conform an active disturbance rejection, or disturbance accommodation, control scheme. The simulation results presented in the paper show that the proposed method has a very good tracking performance and robustness in the presence of system uncertainties, external disturbances and noisy corruptions.
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of single layer centrifugation (SLC) using Androcoll-E-Large on donkey sperm quality parameters after 24 h of cool-storage. Ejaculates were collected from Andalusian donkeys and then cooled at 5°C. SLC was carried out after 24 h of cool-storage using Androcoll-E-Large. In the first experiment, all sperm parameters assessed (total and progressive sperm motility, viability, sperm morphology and sperm kinematics VCL, VSL, VAP, LIN, STR, WOB, ALH and BCF) were statistically compared between semen samples processed or not with Androcoll-E-Large. Significant differences (P<0.05) were found between SLC-selected and unselected semen samples for all parameters assessed, obtaining better results after SLC. In the second experiment, semen samples were classified in two groups according to their sperm progressive motility (PM) before SLC. Then, the increments obtained in semen quality parameters after SLC were compared between groups. No significant differences were found between groups, indicating that SLC improved the sperm quality parameters of entire set of semen samples processed with independence to their original PM. In conclusion, SLC with Androcoll-E-Large can be used in donkeys, increasing the sperm quality of cooled-stored donkey semen doses after 24 h of cool storage.
Hybrid nano/micro particles were investigated for their possibility to re-structure within local pH alterations, release certain active substance and further contribute to increased steel corrosion resistance. Two aspects with regard to corrosion control and self-healing in cement-based materials are discussed: the first aspect deals with the electrochemical performance of low carbon steel electrodes (St37) in model alkaline solutions (cement extract) in the presence of 4.9.10-4 g/l hybrid particles i.e. cement extract, containing PDADMAC (poly (diallyl, dimethyl ammonium chloride) / PAA (Poly (acrylic acid)/ PDADMAC over a CaO core. The second aspect refers to the performance of reinforcing steel (FeB500 HKN) in mortar specimens, containing hybrid particles in the mixing water in concentration of 3.6×10-4 wt. % per mortar weight. The main objective was to determine if these hybrids will lead to increased corrosion resistance of the steel surface layers, generally formed in the hereby investigated environmental medium (both liquid i.e. cement extract and solid i.e. mortar). Further, it was expected that when chlorides are involved, as corrosion accelerating factor, the presence of hybrid particles will delay corrosion initiation and will therefore lead to increased corrosion resistance. The results denote for indeed superior corrosion performance of steel in chloride-free and chloride containing medium, when hybrid particles are involved. The responsible mechanisms are related to increased barrier effects of the formed layer and self-repair upon morphological alterations of the hybrid particles, “nucleation sites effects” and/or Ca-core “release” on locally active (anodic) areas on the steel surface.
We present 10 μm – 35μm Spitzer spectra of the interstellar medium in the central molecular zone (CMZ), the central 210 pc × 60 pc of the Galactic center (GC). We present maps of the CMZ in ionic and H2 emission, covering a more extensive area than earlier spectroscopic surveys in this region. We compare diagnostic line ratios measured in the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey to our data. Previous work shows that forbidden line ratios can distinguish star-forming galaxies from low-ionization nuclear emission-line regions (LINERs) and active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Our GC line ratios agree with star-forming galaxies and not with LINERs or AGNs.
Poly(3-hexylthiophene)/Titania (P3HT/TiO2) heterojunction has been widely studied in the field of hybrid solar cells. Usually, organic dyes shift the neat TiO2 absorption edge toward the visible range improving the conversion efficiency or/and the TiO2 surface is modified with ligands in order to increase the electron transport. On the other hand, copper sulfide, non-toxic semiconductor, has been included in bulk organic P3HT based solar cell, increasing the photocurrent density of devices. Therefore, we propose the use of copper sulfide in the hybrid TiO2/P3HT heterojunction to determine its effect in the performance of TiO2/P3HT solar cell. Copper sulfide nanocrystals (CuxS) were synthesized at 230 °C, 240 °C and 260 °C and, they were mixed with P3HT in order to form P3HT:CuxS bulk heterojunctions. Scattered grains and irregular morphology in the final topography of the reference device (P3HT/TiO2 heterojunction) were observed by AFM, while a granular morphology and a few pores like craters were observed in the devices containing P3HT:CuxS bulk heterojunctions. Chalcocite phase (Cu2S) was obtained at 230 and 240°C and, digenite (Cu1.8S) phase at 260°C, both copper sulfide phases are very promising for solar cells. Despite this, poor rectifications in the devices were found in the current-voltage curves of the devices containing copper sulfide nanocrystals in contrast to the P3HT/TiO2 cell (device without nanocrystals), it could be due to the current leakage or recombination process in the copper sulfide/TiO2 interface. It suggests future work in order to improve the devices.
Ba0.75Sr0.25AlSi2O8 (SBAS) - Al2O3 composites, with SBAS/Al2O3 weight ratios of: (a) 90/10, (b) 70/30, and (c) 50/50, are in situ synthesized by reactive sintering at 900-1500°C/5h. The effect of mechanical activation of the precursor mixtures for 0, 4 or 8h in an attrition milling device on the microstructure and phase composition of the composites is studied. Only SBAS and Al2O3 phases are obtained at 1300-1500°C, independently of milling time. In general, the relative proportion of the desirable monoclinic SBAS (Celsian) phase increases in the materials with increasing milling time and sintering temperature, which is enhanced by their SrO content. The promotion of surface nucleation of the undesirable hexagonal SBAS (Hexacelsian) phase by mechanical activation results in a maximum Hexacelsian to Celsian conversion fraction of only 81.4%, obtained for composition 2 milled for 8h and sintered at 1500°C/5h. Under these synthesis conditions, an increment in the amount and size of the Al2O3 particles in the composites is detrimental for the Hexacelsian to Celsian conversion.
Aluminum lithium hydroxide carbonate hydrate, also known as Al/Li layered double hydroxide or Al-Li hydrotalcite-like compound [Al2Li(OH)6]2CO3•nH2O, was prepared by reaction of lithium carbonate with ammonium dawsonite [NH4Al(OH)2CO3]. The reaction of ammonium dawsonite with a lithium carbonate satured solution at different temperatures and lithium carbonate concentrations was studied. The obtained solids were characterized by differential thermal analysis (DTA), thermogravimetry (TGA), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). By this method, crystalline Li/Al LDH [Al2Li(OH)6]2CO3·3H2O can be obtained at 60 °C and 4 h reaction time.