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Mars exploration motivates the search for extraterrestrial life, the development of space technologies, and the design of human missions and habitations. Here, we seek new insights and pose unresolved questions relating to the natural history of Mars, habitability, robotic and human exploration, planetary protection, and the impacts on human society. Key observations and findings include:
– high escape rates of early Mars' atmosphere, including loss of water, impact present-day habitability;
– putative fossils on Mars will likely be ambiguous biomarkers for life;
– microbial contamination resulting from human habitation is unavoidable; and
– based on Mars' current planetary protection category, robotic payload(s) should characterize the local martian environment for any life-forms prior to human habitation.
Some of the outstanding questions are:
– which interpretation of the hemispheric dichotomy of the planet is correct;
– to what degree did deep-penetrating faults transport subsurface liquids to Mars' surface;
– in what abundance are carbonates formed by atmospheric processes;
– what properties of martian meteorites could be used to constrain their source locations;
– the origin(s) of organic macromolecules;
– was/is Mars inhabited;
– how can missions designed to uncover microbial activity in the subsurface eliminate potential false positives caused by microbial contaminants from Earth;
– how can we ensure that humans and microbes form a stable and benign biosphere; and
– should humans relate to putative extraterrestrial life from a biocentric viewpoint (preservation of all biology), or anthropocentric viewpoint of expanding habitation of space?
Studies of Mars' evolution can shed light on the habitability of extrasolar planets. In addition, Mars exploration can drive future policy developments and confirm (or put into question) the feasibility and/or extent of human habitability of space.
The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing evidence on the role of hot saline irrigation in patients undergoing functional endoscopic sinus surgery and its impact on the visibility of the surgical field.
A search of PubMed, Cochrane, Ovid databases and Google Scholar was performed.
Three randomised controlled trials were included. Pooled meta-analysis demonstrated a statistically significant better visibility of the surgical field, and a reduction in total blood loss and operating time during functional endoscopic sinus surgery in the hot saline irrigation group compared with the room temperature irrigation group. Subgroup analysis of studies that did not use vasoconstrictors showed a significant reduction in total blood loss and operating time.
This is the first systematic review that addresses hot saline irrigation for haemostasis in functional endoscopic sinus surgery. The results suggest that hot saline irrigation in functional endoscopic sinus surgery for chronic rhinosinusitis may significantly improve visibility of the surgical field, reduce total blood loss by 20 per cent and decrease operating time by 9 minutes. However, there are limitations of the study because of the significant heterogeneity of the methods, quality and size of the studies.
South-east Asia's diverse coastal wetlands, which span natural mudflats and mangroves to man-made salt pans, offer critical habitat for many migratory waterbird species in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. Species dependent on these wetlands include nearly the entire population of the Critically Endangered spoon-billed sandpiper Calidris pygmaea and the Endangered spotted greenshank Tringa guttifer, and significant populations of several other globally threatened and declining species. Presently, more than 50 coastal Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in the region (7.4% of all South-east Asian IBAs) support at least one threatened migratory species. However, recent studies continue to reveal major knowledge gaps on the distribution of migratory waterbirds and important wetland sites along South-east Asia's vast coastline, including undiscovered and potential IBAs. Alongside this, there are critical gaps in the representation of coastal wetlands across the protected area networks of many countries in this region (e.g. Viet Nam, Indonesia, Malaysia), hindering effective conservation. Although a better understanding of the value of coastal wetlands to people and their importance to migratory species is necessary, governments and other stakeholders need to do more to strengthen the conservation of these ecosystems by improving protected area coverage, habitat restoration, and coastal governance and management. This must be underpinned by the judicious use of evidence-based approaches, including satellite-tracking of migratory birds, ecological research and ground surveys.
Manure is a primary source of methane (CH4) emissions into the atmosphere. A large proportion of CH4 from manure is emitted during storage, but this varies with storage methods. In this research, we tested whether covering a manure heap with plastic reduces CH4 emission during a short-term composting process. A static chamber method was used to detect the CH4 emission rate and the change of the physicochemical properties of cattle manure which was stored either uncovered (treatment UNCOVERED) or covered with plastic (treatment COVERED) for 30-day periods during the four seasons? The dry matter content of the COVERED treatment was significantly less than the UNCOVERED treatment (P < 0.01), and the C/N ratio of the COVERED treatment significantly greater than the UNCOVERED treatment (P > 0.05) under high temperature. In the UNCOVERED treatment, average daily methane (CH4) emissions were in the order summer > spring > autumn > winter. CH4 emissions were positively correlated with the temperature (R2 = 0.52, P < 0.01). Compared to the UNCOVERED treatment, the daily average CH4 emission rates from COVERED treatment manure were less in the first 19 days of spring, 13 days of summer, 10 days of autumn and 30 days of winter. In summary, covering the manure pile with plastic reduces the evaporation of water during storage; and in winter, long-term covering with plastic film reduces the CH4 emissions during the storage of manure.
A deeper understanding of creativity and design is essential for the development of tools to improve designers’ creative processes and drive future innovation. The objective of this research is to evaluate the effect of physical activity versus movement in a virtual environment on the creative output of industrial design students. This study contributes a novel assessment of whether the use of virtual reality can produce the same creative output within designers as physical activity has been shown to produce in prior studies. Eighteen industrial design students at the Georgia Institute of Technology completed nine design tasks across three conditions in a within-subjects experimental design. In each condition, participants independently experienced one of three interventions. Solutions were scored for novelty and feasibility, and self-reported mood data was correlated with performance. No significant differences were found in novelty or feasibility of solutions across the conditions. However, there are statistically significant correlations between mood, interventions, and peak performance to be discussed. The results show that participants who experienced movement in virtual reality prior to problem solving performed at an equal or higher level than physical walking for all design tasks and all designer moods. This serves as motivation for continuing to study how VR can provide an impact on a designer's creative output. Hypothesized creative performance with each mode is discussed using trends from four categories of mood, based on the combined mood characteristics of pleasantness (positive/negative) and activation (active/passive).
Longan is an economically important sub-tropical fruit tree native to southern China and southeast Asia. Its production has been affected significantly by climate change, but the underlying reasons remain unclear. Herein, the potential growing areas of longan were simulated by the Maxent model under current and future conditions. The results showed excellent prediction performance, with an area under curve of >0.9 for model training and validation. The key environmental variables identified were mean temperature of the coldest quarter, minimum temperature of the coldest month, annual mean temperature and mean temperature of the driest quarter. The optimum suitable areas of longan were found to be concentrated mainly in south-western, southern and eastern China, with a slight increase in optimum suitable areas under two different emission scenarios of three global climatic models. However, its future potential growing areas were predicted to differ among provinces or cities. Suitable growing areas in Sichuan, Jiangxi, Guangxi and Chongqing will first increase and then remain approximately unchanged between the 2050s and 2070s; those in Yunnan, Guangdong and Hainan will remain approximately unchanged from the present to the 2070s; those in Fujian and Guizhou will fluctuate slightly from the present to the 2050s and then increase to the 2070s; those in Taiwan will first decrease and then increase. In summary, the major future production areas of longan will be Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi provinces, followed by Chongqing, Yunnan, Fujian and Taiwan. Thus, this study serves as a useful guide for the management of longan.
Developing alternatives to antibiotics is an urgent need in livestock production. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are regarded as powerful antibiotic substitutes (ASs) because AMPs have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities and growth-promoting ability. Here, we aimed to comprehensively assess the effects of AMPs on the growth performance, diarrhea rate, intestinal morphology and immunity of healthy or challenged piglets, compared with an antibiotics group or negative control group. We performed a set of meta-analyses of feeding trials from database inception to 27 May 2019. Among the 1379 identified studies, 20 were included in our meta-analyses (56 arms and 4067 piglets). The meta-analyses revealed that (1) compared with the negative control group, AMPs significantly improved the healthy piglets’ average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), gain : feed ratio (G/F), levels of immune globulin (Ig) IgM and IgG, and intestinal villus height : crypt depth ratio (V/C) (P < 0.05). Meanwhile, AMPs significantly increased the challenged piglets’ ADG, ADFI, G/F and V/C of the jejunum and ileum, and notably deceased the diarrhea rate (P < 0.05); (2) compared with antibiotics group, the effects of AMPs were slightly weaker than those of antibiotics in the healthy piglets, but AMPs have similar effects to those of antibiotics in challenged piglets. In a higher purity, the optimal dose of AMPs may be approximately 0.01%. Our findings indicate that AMPs can improve piglet growth performance, enhance immunity, benefit intestinal morphology and decrease the diarrheal rate. AMPs could be great ASs especially under infection conditions.
This report is on the synthesis by electrospinning of multiferroic core-shell nanofibers of strontium hexaferrite and lead zirconate titanate or barium titanate and studies on magneto-electric (ME) coupling. Fibers with well-defined core–shell structures showed the order parameters in agreement with values for nanostructures. The strength of ME coupling measured by the magnetic field-induced polarization showed the fractional change in the remnant polarization as high as 21%. The ME voltage coefficient in H-assembled films showed the strong ME response for the zero magnetic bias field. Follow-up studies and potential avenues for enhancing the strength of ME coupling in the core–shell nanofibers are discussed.
In recent years, men who have sex with men (MSM) constitute a major group of HIV transmission in China. High primary drug-resistance (PDR) rate in MSM also represents a serious challenge for the Chinese antiretroviral therapy (ART) program. To assess the efficiency of ART in controlling HIV/AIDS infection among MSM, we developed a compartmental model for the annually reported HIV/AIDS MSM from 2007 to 2019 in the Zhejiang Province of China. R0 was 2.3946 (95% CI (2.2961–2.4881)). We predict that 90% of diagnosed HIV/AIDS individuals will have received treatment till 2020, while the proportion of the diagnosed remains as low as 40%. Even when the proportion of the diagnosed reaches 90%, R0 is still larger than the level of AIDS epidemic elimination. ART can effectively control the spread of HIV, even in the presence of drug resistance. The 90-90-90 strategy alone may not eliminate the HIV epidemic in Chinese MSM. Behavioural and biologic interventions are the most effective interventions to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic among MSM.
Recent studies have identified DAAO as a probable susceptibility gene for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, little is known about how this gene may affect brain function to increase vulnerability to these disorders.
The present investigation examined the impact of DAAO genotype on brain function in patients with schizophrenia, patients with bipolar I disorder and healthy volunteers.
We tested the hypotheses that the high-risk variant of DAAO would be associated with altered prefrontal function and functional connectivity in schizophrenic and bipolar patients.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain responses during a verbal fluency task in a total of 121 subjects comprising 40 patients with schizophrenia, 33 patients with bipolar I disorder and 48 healthy volunteers. We then used statistical parametric mapping (SPM) and psycho-physiological interaction (PPI) analyses to estimate the main effects of diagnostic group, the main effect of genotype and their interaction on brain activation and functional connectivity.
In schizophrenic patients relative to bipolar patients and controls, the high-risk variant of DAAO was associated with lower deactivation in the left precuneus and greater activation in the right calcarine and posterior cingulate gyrus during task performance. In addiction, these areas expressed altered functional connectivity with the rest of the brain in schizophrenic patients relative to bipolar patients and controls.
Our results suggest that genetic variation in DAAO has a significant impact on brain function and provide preliminary evidence for a disease-specific pattern of gene action in specific brain regions.
The present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study investigated neural changes in relation to mood biased processing in depression, before and after cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) using an emotional Stroop task.
Sixteen unmedicated patients (mean age 40 years), fulfilling DSM-IV diagnosis for unipolar major depression underwent fMRI, prior to and after 16 once-weekly sessions of CBT. Sixteen matched healthy volunteers were scanned at similar time intervals. In an emotional Stroop task negative and neutral words were presented in various colors and volunteers had to name the color of words. Latencies were recorded to determine behavioral emotional interference effects. MRI images were acquired using clustered image acquisition. Whole-brain and region of interest analysis examined the neural basis of interference and mood biased processing.
At baseline patients displayed increased latencies during color naming negative words, in comparison to neutral words and in relation to healthy volunteers. After treatment, latencies did not significantly differ between groups. With regard to neural activity, depressed patients showed increased activation at baseline in amygdala, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), which normalized after CBT. Additionally, hyperactivation in the rostral anterior cingulate at baseline was positively correlated with symptom reduction after CBT.
Evidence was found for an emotional interference effect during acute states of depression which improved following CBT. The neural basis is associated with increased activity in the amygdala, DLPFC and VLPFC which normalized after treatment. CBT seems to affect behavioral biases and neural circuits involved in processing negative information.
Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) infection has been a major public health threat globally. Monitoring and prediction of CT epidemic status and trends are important for programme planning, allocating resources and assessing impact; however, such activities are limited in China. In this study, we aimed to apply a seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average (SARIMA) model to predict the incidence of CT infection in Shenzhen city, China. The monthly incidence of CT between January 2008 and June 2019 in Shenzhen was used to fit and validate the SARIMA model. A seasonal fluctuation and a slightly increasing pattern of a long-term trend were revealed in the time series of CT incidence. The monthly CT incidence ranged from 4.80/100 000 to 21.56/100 000. The mean absolute percentage error value of the optimal model was 8.08%. The SARIMA model could be applied to effectively predict the short-term CT incidence in Shenzhen and provide support for the development of interventions for disease control and prevention.
White-light continuum can be induced by the interaction of intense femtosecond laser pulses with condensed materials. By using two orthogonal polarizers, a self-induced birefringence of continuum is observed when focusing femtosecond laser pulses into bulk fused silica. That is, the generated white-light continuum is synchronously modulated anisotropically while propagating in fused silica. Time-resolved detection confirms that self-induced birefringence of continuum shows a growth and saturation feature with time evolution. By adjusting laser energy, the transmitted intensity of continuum modulated by self-induced birefringence also varies correspondingly. Morphology analysis with time evolution indicates that it is the focused femtosecond laser pulses that induce anisotropic microstructures in bulk fused silica, and the anisotropic structures at the same time modulate the generated continuum.
Proximal environments could facilitate smoking cessation among low-income smokers by making cessation appealing to strive for and tenable.
We sought to examine how home smoking rules and proximal environmental factors such as other household members' and peers' smoking behaviors and attitudes related to low-income smokers' past quit attempts, readiness, and self-efficacy to quit.
This analysis used data from Offering Proactive Treatment Intervention (OPT-IN) (randomized control trial of proactive tobacco cessation outreach) baseline survey, which was completed by 2,406 participants in 2011/12. We tested the associations between predictors (home smoking rules and proximal environmental factors) and outcomes (past-year quit attempts, readiness to quit, and quitting self-efficacy).
Smokers who lived in homes with more restrictive household smoking rules, and/or reported having ‘important others’ who would be supportive of their quitting, were more likely to report having made a quit attempt in the past year, had greater readiness to quit, and greater self-efficacy related to quitting.
Adjustments to proximal environments, including strengthening household smoking rules, might encourage cessation even if other household members are smokers.
Potential planting area for tuber mustard was simulated using the Maxent model under current and future conditions based on 591 coordinates and 22 environmental layers. Model accuracy was excellent, with area under the receiving operator curve values of 0.967 and 0.958 for model training and testing, respectively. Dominant factors were mean diurnal range, mean temperature of the coldest quarter, annual mean temperature and minimum temperature of the coldest month, with thresholds of 6.5–7.5, 5.5–9, 16–19 and 2.0–6.5 °C, respectively. Under current conditions, suitable habitat areas (2.16% of total land in China) were concentrated mainly in Central, Southwest and East China, which can be defined as three occurrence and diffusion centres. In the 2050s and 2070s, suitable habitat areas are predicted to change to 3.72 and 3.92%, and 3.60 and 3.73% under scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP6.0, respectively, indicating that suitable habitat areas will increase slightly. However, future distribution of tuber mustard was predicted to differ among provinces or cities, i.e. predicted suitable habitat areas in Sichuan Province increased up to the 2050s but remained relatively unchanged between the 2050s and 2070s; in Chongqing city they first increased and then decreased; in Hunan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian Provinces they increased continuously; and in Guizhou, Hubei, Jiangxi Provinces and Shanghai city they first decreased, and then increased. The results from the current study provide useful information for management decisions of tuber mustard.