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We developed a passive sampler for time-integrated collection and radiocarbon (14C) analysis of soil respiration, a major flux in the global C cycle. It consists of a permanent access well that controls the CO2 uptake rate and an exchangeable molecular sieve CO2 trap. We tested how access well dimensions and environmental conditions affect collected CO2, and optimized cleaning procedures to minimize 14CO2 memory. We also deployed two generations of the sampler in Arctic tundra for up to two years, collecting CO2 over periods of 3 days–2 months, while monitoring soil temperature, volumetric water content, and CO2 concentration. The sampler collects CO2 at a rate proportional to the length of a silicone tubing inlet (7–26 µg CO2-C day-1·m Si-1). With constant sampler dimensions in the field, CO2 recovery is best explained by soil temperature. We retrieved 0.1–5.3 mg C from the 1st and 0.6–13 mg C from the 2nd generation samplers, equivalent to uptake rates of 2–215 (n=17) and 10–247 µg CO2-C day-1 (n=20), respectively. The method blank is 8 ± 6 µg C (mean ± sd, n=8), with a radiocarbon content (fraction modern) ranging from 0.5875–0.6013 (n=2). The sampler enables more continuous investigations of soil C emission sources and is suitable for Arctic environments.
Nutrition during the periconceptional period influences postnatal cardiovascular health. We determined whether in vitro embryo culture and transfer, which are manipulations of the nutritional environment during the periconceptional period, dysregulate postnatal blood pressure and blood pressure regulatory mechanisms. Embryos were either transferred to an intermediate recipient ewe (ET) or cultured in vitro in the absence (IVC) or presence of human serum (IVCHS) and a methyl donor (IVCHS+M) for 6 days. Basal blood pressure was recorded at 19–20 weeks after birth. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR) were measured before and after varying doses of phenylephrine (PE). mRNA expression of signaling molecules involved in blood pressure regulation was measured in the renal artery. Basal MAP did not differ between groups. Baroreflex sensitivity, set point, and upper plateau were also maintained in all groups after PE stimulation. Adrenergic receptors alpha-1A (αAR1A), alpha-1B (αAR1B), and angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1R) mRNA expression were not different from controls in the renal artery. These results suggest there is no programmed effect of ET or IVC on basal blood pressure or the baroreflex control mechanisms in adolescence, but future studies are required to determine the impact of ET and IVC on these mechanisms later in the life course when developmental programming effects may be unmasked by age.
Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
Life-course experiences have been postulated to program hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis activity, suggesting that HPA axis activity is, at least partially, stable over time. Yet, there is paucity of data on the long-term stability of cortisol production and metabolism. We performed a prospective follow-up study in twins recruited from a nationwide register to estimate the stability of cortisol production and metabolism over time, and the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to this stability. In total, 218 healthy mono- and dizygotic twins were included. At the ages of 9, 12 and 17 years, morning urine samples were collected for assessment (by gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) of cortisol metabolites, enabling the calculation of cortisol metabolite excretion rate and cortisol metabolism activity. Our results showed a low stability for both cortisol metabolite excretion rate (with correlations <.20) and cortisol metabolism activity indices (with correlations of .25 to .46 between 9 and 12 years, −.02 to .15 between 12 and 17 years and .09 to .28 between 9 and 17 years). Because of the low stability over time, genetic and environmental contributions to this stability were difficult to assess, although it seemed to be mostly determined by genetic factors. The low stability in both cortisol production and metabolism between ages 9 and 17 years reflects the dynamic nature of the HPA axis.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together
programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.
In lifecourse studies that encompass the adolescent period, the assessment of pubertal status is important, but can be challenging. We aimed to identify current methods for pubertal assessment and assess their appropriateness for population-based research by combining a review of the literature with the views of experts in the field. We searched bibliographic databases, extracted data and assessed study quality to inform a workshop with 21 experts. Acceptability of different approaches was explored with a panel of ten adolescents. We screened 11,935 abstracts, assessed 157 articles and summarised results from 38 articles. Combining these with the opinions of experts, self-assessment was found to be a practical method for use in studies where agreement with the gold standard of clinical assessment by physical examination to within one Tanner stage was acceptable. Serial measures of height and foot size accurately indicated timing of the pubertal growth spurt and age at peak height velocity, and were seen as feasible within longitudinal studies. Hormonal and radiological methods did not offer a practical means of assessing pubertal status. Assessment of voice maturation was promising, but needed validation. Young people thought that self-assessment, foot size and voice assessments were acceptable, and preferred an assessor of the same sex for clinical assessment. This review thus informs researchers working in lifecourse and adolescent health, and identifies future directions in order to improve validity of the methods.
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.
Urban slums provide suitable conditions for infestation by rats, which harbour and shed a wide diversity of zoonotic pathogens including helminths. We aimed to identify risk factors associated with the probability and intensity of infection of helminths of the digestive tract in an urban slum population of Rattus norvegicus. Among 299 rats, eleven species/groups of helminths were identified, of which Strongyloides sp., Nippostrongylus brasiliensis and, the human pathogen, Angiostrongylus cantonensis were the most frequent (97, 41 and 39%, respectively). Sex interactions highlighted behavioural differences between males and females, as eg males were more likely to be infected with N. brasiliensis where rat signs were present, and males presented more intense infections of Strongyloides sp. Moreover, rats in poor body condition had higher intensities of N. brasiliensis. We describe a high global richness of parasites in R. norvegicus, including five species known to cause disease in humans. Among these, A. cantonensis was found in high prevalence and it was ubiquitous in the study area – knowledge which is of public health importance. A variety of environmental, demographic and body condition variables were associated with helminth species infection of rats, suggesting a comparable variety of risk factors for humans.
Urban slum environments in the tropics are conducive to the proliferation and the spread of rodent-borne zoonotic pathogens to humans. Calodium hepaticum (Brancroft, 1893) is a zoonotic nematode known to infect a variety of mammalian hosts, including humans. Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) are considered the most important mammalian host of C. hepaticum and are therefore a potentially useful species to inform estimates of the risk to humans living in urban slum environments. There is a lack of studies systematically evaluating the role of demographic and environmental factors that influence both carriage and intensity of infection of C. hepaticum in rodents from urban slum areas within tropical regions. Carriage and the intensity of infection of C. hepaticum were studied in 402 Norway rats over a 2-year period in an urban slum in Salvador, Brazil. Overall, prevalence in Norway rats was 83% (337/402). Independent risk factors for C. hepaticum carriage in R. norvegicus were age and valley of capture. Of those infected the proportion with gross liver involvement (i.e. >75% of the liver affected, a proxy for a high level intensity of infection), was low (8%, 26/337). Sixty soil samples were collected from ten locations to estimate levels of environmental contamination and provide information on the potential risk to humans of contracting C. hepaticum from the environment. Sixty percent (6/10) of the sites were contaminated with C. hepaticum. High carriage levels of C. hepaticum within Norway rats and sub-standard living conditions within slum areas may increase the risk to humans of exposure to the infective eggs of C. hepaticum. This study supports the need for further studies to assess whether humans are becoming infected within this community and whether C. hepaticum is posing a significant risk to human health.
The Dark Energy Survey is undertaking an observational programme imaging 1/4 of the southern hemisphere sky with unprecedented photometric accuracy. In the process of observing millions of faint stars and galaxies to constrain the parameters of the dark energy equation of state, the Dark Energy Survey will obtain pre-discovery images of the regions surrounding an estimated 100 gamma-ray bursts over 5 yr. Once gamma-ray bursts are detected by, e.g., the Swift satellite, the DES data will be extremely useful for follow-up observations by the transient astronomy community. We describe a recently-commissioned suite of software that listens continuously for automated notices of gamma-ray burst activity, collates information from archival DES data, and disseminates relevant data products back to the community in near-real-time. Of particular importance are the opportunities that non-public DES data provide for relative photometry of the optical counterparts of gamma-ray bursts, as well as for identifying key characteristics (e.g., photometric redshifts) of potential gamma-ray burst host galaxies. We provide the functional details of the DESAlert software, and its data products, and we show sample results from the application of DESAlert to numerous previously detected gamma-ray bursts, including the possible identification of several heretofore unknown gamma-ray burst hosts.
In traditional transit timing variations (TTVs) analysis of multi-planetary systems, the individual TTVs are first derived from transit fitting and later modelled using n-body dynamic simulations to constrain planetary masses. We show that fitting simultaneously the transit light curves with the system dynamics (photo-dynamical model) increases the precision of the TTV measurements and helps constrain the system architecture. We exemplify the advantages of applying this photo-dynamical model to a multi-planetary system found in K2 data very close to 3:2 mean motion resonance, K2-19. In this case the period of the larger TTV variations (libration period) is much longer (>1.5 years) than the duration of the K2 observations (80 days). However, our method allows to detect the short period TTVs produced by the orbital conjunctions between the planets that in turn permits to uniquely characterise the system. Therefore, our method can be used to constrain the masses of near-resonant systems even when the full libration curve is not observed.
The Murchison Widefield Array is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope built in Western Australia at one of the locations of the future Square Kilometre Array. We describe the automated radio-frequency interference detection strategy implemented for the Murchison Widefield Array, which is based on the aoflagger platform, and present 72–231 MHz radio-frequency interference statistics from 10 observing nights. Radio-frequency interference detection removes 1.1% of the data. Radio-frequency interference from digital TV is observed 3% of the time due to occasional ionospheric or atmospheric propagation. After radio-frequency interference detection and excision, almost all data can be calibrated and imaged without further radio-frequency interference mitigation efforts, including observations within the FM and digital TV bands. The results are compared to a previously published Low-Frequency Array radio-frequency interference survey. The remote location of the Murchison Widefield Array results in a substantially cleaner radio-frequency interference environment compared to Low-Frequency Array’s radio environment, but adequate detection of radio-frequency interference is still required before data can be analysed. We include specific recommendations designed to make the Square Kilometre Array more robust to radio-frequency interference, including: the availability of sufficient computing power for radio-frequency interference detection; accounting for radio-frequency interference in the receiver design; a smooth band-pass response; and the capability of radio-frequency interference detection at high time and frequency resolution (second and kHz-scale respectively).
The future of centimetre and metre-wave astronomy lies with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a telescope under development by a consortium of 17 countries that will be 50 times more sensitive than any existing radio facility. Most of the key science for the SKA will be addressed through large-area imaging of the Universe at frequencies from a few hundred MHz to a few GHz. The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a technology demonstrator aimed in the mid-frequency range, and achieves instantaneous wide-area imaging through the development and deployment of phased-array feed systems on parabolic reflectors. The large field-of-view makes ASKAP an unprecedented synoptic telescope that will make substantial advances in SKA key science. ASKAP will be located at the Murchison Radio Observatory in inland Western Australia, one of the most radio-quiet locations on the Earth and one of two sites selected by the international community as a potential location for the SKA. In this paper, we outline an ambitious science program for ASKAP, examining key science such as understanding the evolution, formation and population of galaxies including our own, understanding the magnetic Universe, revealing the transient radio sky and searching for gravitational waves.
We report results of duplicate measurements of dissolved organic carbon concentrations ([DOC] as μM) and Δ14C in seawater in order to assess the total uncertainty of reported [DOC] and Δ14C measurements via the UV oxidation method. In addition, pure International Atomic Energy Agency standards analyzed over a 4-yr period are evaluated. We find the total uncertainty of Δ14C measurements to be ±4.0. However, in samples that were thawed, subsampled, and refrozen prior to UV oxidation, the total uncertainty of Δ14C measurements is on the order of ±10. The [DOC] measurements of these samples were also higher by 1.8 ± 0.3 μM. The reason(s) for these documented increases in total [DOC] and Δ14C uncertainty are unclear. In order to minimize any effects on sample measurements, we recommend the following: 1) regular monitoring of duplicate samples, DOC standards, and diluent (Milli-Q™) water for Δ14C and [DOC] measurements; 2) thawing a sample immediately and only once prior to UV oxidation; 3) avoid the use of DOC-leachable plumbing (such as PVC pipe) in both water systems feeding and within Milli-Q systems; and 4) consider the use of DOC-free diluents (i.e. pre-UV oxidized Milli-Q or sample water).
The release and migration of gaseous carbon-14 has been identified as a key issue for geological disposal of intermediate-level radioactive wastes in the UK. A significant fraction of carbon-14 in the UK inventory is in irradiated graphite. This paper describes measurements of gaseous carbon-14 releases from irradiated graphite on immersion in alkaline solution. Apparatus has been developed to discriminate organic and inorganic (14CO/14CO2) species in the gas phase by means of selective oxidation and capture. In the initial experiment, small amounts of gaseous carbon-14 (∼4 Bq) were released from 9 g of crushed graphite within a two-week period. In a long-term experiment, cumulative releases were measured periodically from an intact specimen of graphite over a 14 month period. A small fraction of the graphite carbon-14 inventory was released to the gas phase (∼0.004% as CO/CO2 and ∼0.001% associated with organic compounds). A larger quantity of carbon-14, about 0.1%, was released to the solution phase and was thought to be mainly 14CO2, with some possible organic component. In general, the rate of gaseous carbon-14 release decreased with time. The results suggest a small initial release of relatively labile, accessible carbon-14, with longer term release occurring at a much slower rate. Tritium (T) releases were also measured.