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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Yes There Have Been Aliens

ENGLISH INTO SPANISH.


Autor: Adam Frank (*)
Fecha: 10 de junio de 2016
Fuente: The New York Times (**)

El mes pasado, astrónomos del equipo de la nave espacial Kepler anunciaron el descubrimiento de 1.284 nuevos planetas, todos orbitando estrellas fuera de nuestro sistema solar. Actualmente el número total de "exoplanetas", confirmados a través de la nave Kepler y otros métodos es alrededor de 3.000.

Esto representa una revolución en el conocimiento planetario. Hace apenas una década, el descubrimiento de incluso un solo nuevo exoplaneta era una gran noticia. Ya no es así. Los avances de la tecnología de la observación astronómica nos han llevado de menos a más en materia de descubrimiento de planetas. Ahora sabemos, por ejemplo, que cada estrella en el cielo probablemente aloja al menos un planeta.

Pero los planetas son sólo el comienzo de la historia. Lo que todo el mundo quiere saber es si en alguno de estos mundos hay extraterrestres que vivan allí. ¿Nuestros nuevos conocimientos sobre los planetas nos acercan a la respuesta a esta pregunta?

Un poco, en realidad, sí. En un artículo publicado en la edición de mayo de la revista Astrobioloy, el astrónomo Woodruff Sullivan y yo, mostramos que, si bien aún no sabemos si existen civilizaciones extraterrestres avanzadas actualmente en nuestra galaxia, ahora tenemos suficiente información para concluir que es casi seguro que existieron en algún punto de la historia cósmica.

En ciencia, la probabilidad de la existencia de una civilización extraterrestre con que podríamos hacer contacto se analiza en términos de lo que se conoce como la ecuación de Drake.

En 1961, la Academia Nacional de Ciencias solicitó al astrónomo Frank Drake conducir una reunión científica para tratar sobre las posibilidades de "comunicación interestelar." Debido a que la probabilidad de hacer contacto con vida extraterrestre dependía de la cantidad de civilizaciones extraterrestres avanzadas posibles de existir en la galaxia, Drake identificó siete factores de los cuales dependería dicha cantidad, y los incorporó en una ecuación.

El primer factor ponderó el número de estrellas que nacen cada año. El segundo factor definió la fracción de esas estrellas que albergan planetas. Enseguida, la ecuación consideró el número de planetas por estrella que girarían en órbitas adecuadas para la prosperidad de la vida (asumiendo que la vida requiere agua líquida). El siguiente factor introdujo la fracción de esos planetas donde la vida realmente haya comenzado. Luego el siguiente factor definió la proporción de planetas en los que se desarrolló vida inteligente y luego aquellas civilizaciones que alcanzaron un estado avanzado (capaz de emitir señales  radio). El séptimo y último factor introdujo el tiempo promedio de sobrevivencia de una civilización avanzada.

La ecuación de Drake no es como la ecuación de Einstein: E = mc2. No se trata de una ley universal. La ecuación de Drake pretende fomentar el debate en forma metódica de aquello que necesitamos comprender para poder responder a la pregunta acerca de civilizaciones extraterrestres. En 1961, sólo se entendía el primer factor, el número de estrellas que nacen cada año. Ese nivel de la ignorancia se mantuvo hasta hace muy poco.

Es por eso que la discusión sobre la existencia de civilizaciones extraterrestres históricamente ha permanecido meramente en el ámbito de expresiones de esperanza o pesimismo.

Por ejemplo, ¿Cuál es la fracción de planetas donde la vida puede prosperar? Los optimistas pueden formular modelos biológicos moleculares sofisticados para defender una proporción importante. El grupo de pesimistas por su lado mostrará sus propios datos científicos para argumentar a favor de una fracción más cercano a 0. Sin embargo, con apenas un ejemplo de un planeta que alberga la vida (el nuestro), es difícil saber quién tiene la razón.

También podemos preguntarnos sobre el tiempo de vida media de una civilización. Los seres humanos han estado usando la tecnología de radio transmisión sólo hace unos 100 años. ¿Cuánto tiempo más va a durar nuestra civilización? ¿Mil años más? ¿Cien mil más? ¿Diez millones más? Si el promedio de vida de una civilización es corto, es probable que la galaxia se mantenga despoblada la mayor parte del tiempo.

Sin embargo, nuevamente, con sólo un ejemplo reaparece la batalla entre pesimistas y optimistas.

Pero nuestros nuevos conocimientos planetarios han eliminado parte de la incertidumbre de este debate. Tres de los siete términos de la ecuación de Drake ahora se conocen. Sabemos el número de estrellas que nacen cada año. Sabemos que todas las estrellas albergan planetas. Y también sabemos que alrededor de 20 a 25 por ciento de los planetas se encuentran en el lugar adecuado para que exista vida. Esto nos pone en una posición, por primera vez, de que debemos decir algo definitivo sobre las civilizaciones extraterrestres – siempre que planteemos la pregunta correcta.

En el trabajo del profesor Sullivan y mío hicimos esto modificando el enfoque de la ecuación de Drake.

En lugar de preguntar si existen actualmente muchas civilizaciones, nos preguntamos cuál es la probabilidad de que la nuestra sea la única civilización tecnológica que haya surgido.

Al hacer esta pregunta, podríamos pasar por alto el factor sobre el promedio de sobrevida de una civilización. Esto nos deja con sólo tres factores desconocidos, que nosotros hemos resumido en una probabilidad "biotécnica": la probabilidad de la creación de la vida, inteligente y con  capacidad tecnológica.

Usted puede asumir que esta probabilidad es baja, y por lo tanto la posibilidad de que otra civilización tecnológica haya surgido aparece como pequeña. Pero lo que nuestro cálculo reveló es que incluso si esta probabilidad se supone que sea extremadamente baja, la probabilidad de que nosotros no seamos la primera civilización tecnológica es realmente alta.

En concreto, a menos que la probabilidad de que una civilización evolucione en un planeta en zona habitable sea menor que uno en 1021, entonces no somos los primeros.

Demos un poco de contexto para esa cifra: En discusiones anteriores sobre la ecuación de Drake, la probabilidad de la existencia civilizaciones de uno en 10 millones era considera muy pesimista. De acuerdo con nuestro hallazgo, incluso si usted acepta ese nivel de pesimismo, habrían aparecido 1012 civilizaciones en el transcurso de la historia cósmica.

En otras palabras, dado lo que sabemos sobre el número y las posiciones de las órbitas planetarias en la galaxia, el pesimismo requerido para poner en duda la existencia de una civilización avanzada en algún momento en el tiempo sería altamente irracional.

En ciencia, se puede  lograr un importante paso adelante al plantearnos una pregunta que pueda ser respondida con los datos disponibles. Nuestro estudio hizo exactamente esto. En cuanto a la gran pregunta - si actualmente existen otras civilizaciones - es posible que tengamos que esperar un largo tiempo para obtener los datos pertinentes. Pero no hay que subestimar lo lejos que hemos llegado en un plazo tan corto.

Autor (*): Adam Frank es profesor de astrofísica de la Universidad de Rochester, cofundador de
13.7 NPR Cosmos y Cultura el blog y autor de "Sobre el Tiempo: Cosmología y Cultura en la penumbra de la gran explosión.




ENGLISH

Yes There Have been Aliens

Author: Adam Frank (*)
Date: June 10, 2016
Source: The New York Times (**)

Last month astronomers from the Kepler spacecraft team announced the discovery of 1,284 new planets, all orbiting stars outside our solar system. The total number of such “exoplanets” confirmed via Kepler and other methods now stands at more than 3,000.

This represents a revolution in planetary knowledge. A decade or so ago the discovery of even a single new exoplanet was big news. Not anymore. Improvements in astronomical observation technology have moved us from retail to wholesale planet discovery. We now know, for example, that every star in the sky likely hosts at least one planet.

But planets are only the beginning of the story. What everyone wants to know is whether any of these worlds has aliens living on it. Does our newfound knowledge of planets bring us any closer to answering that question?

A little bit, actually, yes. In a paper published in the May issue of the journal Astrobiology, the astronomer Woodruff Sullivan and I show that while we do not know if any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations currently exist in our galaxy, we now have enough information to conclude that they almost certainly existed at some point in cosmic history.

Among scientists, the probability of the existence of an alien society with which we might make contact is discussed in terms of something called the Drake equation.

In 1961, the National Academy of Sciences asked the astronomer Frank Drake to host a scientific meeting on the possibilities of “interstellar communication.” Since the odds of contact with alien life depended on how many advanced extraterrestrial civilizations existed in the galaxy, Drake identified seven factors on which that number would depend, and incorporated them into an equation.

The first factor was the number of stars born each year. The second was the fraction of stars that had planets. After that came the number of planets per star that traveled in orbits in the right locations for life to form (assuming life requires liquid water). The next factor was the fraction of such planets where life actually got started. Then came factors for the fraction of life­bearing planets on which intelligence and advanced civilizations (meaning radio signal­emitting) evolved. The final factor was the average lifetime of a technological civilization.
Drake’s equation was not like Einstein’s E=mc2. It was not a statement of a universal law. It was a mechanism for fostering organized discussion, a way of understanding what we needed to know to answer the question about alien civilizations. In 1961, only the first factor — the number of stars born each year — was understood. And that level of ignorance remained until very recently.

That’s why discussions of extraterrestrial civilizations, no matter how learned, have historically boiled down to mere expressions of hope or pessimism.

What, for example, is the fraction of planets that form life? Optimists might marshal sophisticated molecular biological models to argue for a large fraction. Pessimists then cite their own scientific data to argue for a fraction closer to 0. But with only one example of a life bearing planet (ours), it’s hard to know who is right.

Or consider the average lifetime of a civilization. Humans have been using radio technology for only about 100 years. How much longer will our civilization last? A thousand more years? A hundred thousand more? Ten million more? If the average lifetime for a civilization is short, the galaxy is likely to be unpopulated most of the time.

Once again, however, with only one example to draw from, it’s back to a battle between pessimists and optimists.

But our new planetary knowledge has removed some of the uncertainty from this debate. Three of the seven terms in Drake’s equation are now known. We know the number of stars born each year. We know that the percentage of stars hosting planets is about 100. And we also know that about 20 to 25 percent of those planets are in the right place for life to form. This puts us in a position, for the first time, to say something definitive about extraterrestrial civilizations — if we ask the right question.

In our recent paper, Professor Sullivan and I did this by shifting the focus of Drake’s equation. Instead of asking how many civilizations currently exist, we asked what the probability is that ours is the only technological civilization that has ever appeared.

By asking this question, we could bypass the factor about the average lifetime of a civilization. This left us with only three unknown factors, which we combined into one “biotechnical” probability: the likelihood of the creation of life, intelligent life and technological capacity.

You might assume this probability is low, and thus the chances remain small that another technological civilization arose. But what our calculation revealed is that even if this probability is assumed to be extremely low, the odds that we are not the first technological civilization are actually high.

Specifically, unless the probability for evolving a civilization on a habitable­zone planet is less than one in 10 billion trillion, then we are not the first. To give some context for that figure: In previous discussions of the Drake equation, a probability for civilizations to form of one in 10 billion per planet was considered highly pessimistic. According to our finding, even if you grant that level of pessimism, a trillion civilizations still would have appeared over the course of cosmic history.

In other words, given what we now know about the number and orbital positions of the galaxy’s planets, the degree of pessimism required to doubt the existence, at some point in time, of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization borders on the irrational.

In science an important step forward can be finding a question that can be answered with the data at hand. Our paper did just this.

As for the big question — whether any other civilizations currently exist — we may have to wait a long while for relevant data. But we should not underestimate how far we have come in a short time.

Author (*): Adam Frank is an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester, a co­founder of
NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos and Culture blog and the author of “About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang.

Source (*): The New York Times


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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Low Vitamin D Among Elderly Associated With Decline In Cognition And Dementia.

ENGLISH INTO PORTUGUESE


Date: September 14, 2015
Source: University of California - Davis Health System

Vitamin D insufficiency among the elderly is highly correlated with accelerated cognitive decline and impaired performance, particularly in domains such as memory loss that are associated with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, researchers have found. 

The effect is "substantial," with individuals with low vitamin D declining at a rate three times faster than those with adequate vitamin D levels.

The researchers said their findings amplify the importance of identifying vitamin D insufficiency among the elderly, particularly high-risk groups such as African-Americans and Hispanics, who are less able to absorb the nutrient from its most plentiful source: sunshine. Among those groups and other darker-skinned individuals, low vitamin D should be considered a risk factor for dementia, they said. The research is published online in JAMA Neurology, a JAMA Network journal.

"Independent of race or ethnicity, baseline cognitive abilities and a host of other risk factors, vitamin D insufficiency was associated with significantly faster declines in both episodic memory and executive function performance," said Joshua Miller, professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the time when the research was conducted and now professor and chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University.

"This work, and that of others, suggests that there is enough evidence to recommend that people in their 60s and older discuss taking a daily vitamin D supplement with their physicians," Miller said.

"Even if doing so proves to not be effective, there's still very low health risk to doing it," he said.

The large, longitudinal study was conducted in nearly 400 racially and ethnically diverse men and women in Northern California participating in longitudinal research at the Alzheimer's Disease Center in Sacramento, Calif. 

Fifty percent of participants were Caucasian and 50 percent were African-American or Hispanic. The participants had a mean age of 76 and were either cognitively normal, had mild cognitive impairment, or dementia.

The participants' serum vitamin D status was measured at the beginning of the study. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency were prevalent among all of the study participants. Overall, 26 percent were deficient and 35 percent were insufficient. Among Caucasians, 54 percent had low vitamin D, compared with 70 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics.

Over five years of follow-up, vitamin D deficient individuals experienced cognitive declines that were two-to-three times faster than those with adequate serum vitamin D levels. In other words it took only two years for the deficient individuals to decline as much as their counterparts with adequate Vitamin D declined during the five-year follow-up period.
"We expected to see declines in individuals with low vitamin D status," said Charles DeCarli, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center. "What was unexpected was how profoundly and rapidly [low vitamin D] impacts cognition."

Exposing the skin to sunlight is the major source of vitamin D. Racial and some ethnic minorities are at greater risk of low vitamin D because the higher concentration of melanin that makes their skin darker -- and protects against skin cancer in sunny climates -- also inhibits synthesis of vitamin D.

Diet is the other major source of vitamin D. Dietary vitamin D is obtained particularly through dairy consumption. The intake of dairy products is especially low among minority groups, with only 6.5 percent of African-Americans and 11 percent of Mexican-Americans nationwide consuming the recommended three daily servings of dairy products, the study says.
"I don't know if replacement therapy would affect these cognitive trajectories. That needs to be researched and we are planning on doing that," DeCarli said.
"This is a vitamin deficiency that could easily be treated and that has other health consequences. We need to start talking about it. And we need to start talking about it, particularly for people of color, for whom vitamin D deficiency appears to present an even greater risk," he said

Source: (*) University of California - Davis Health System. "Low vitamin D among elderly associated with decline in cognition, dementia." ScienceDaily, 14 September 2015.


PORTUGUÊS


O baixo nível de vitamina D em idosos está associado ao declínio da cognição e demência.

Data : 14 de setembro, 2015
Fonte : University of California (*)

Investigadores do Centro da Doença de Alzheimer UC Davis e da Universidade Rutgers descobriram que a insuficiência de vitamina D em idosos está altamente correlacionada com o declínio cognitivo acelerado e o com o mal desempenho, especialmente relacionado com a perda da memória associada à doença de Alzheimer. 

O efeito é "substancial". Os indivíduos com baixo nível de vitamina D apresentam declínio com uma taxa três vezes mais rápida do que pascientes com níveis de vitamina D adequados.

Os pesquisadores disseram que suas descobertas amplificam a importância de identificar a insuficiência de vitamina D em idosos, particularmente nos grupos de alto risco, como são os afro-americanos e hispânicos, que têm menor capacidade para absorver o nutriente de sua fonte mais abundante: a luz do sol. Entre esses grupos e outros indivíduos de pele mais escura, o baixo nível de vitamina D deve ser considerado um fator de risco de  demência, informaram. A pesquisa está publicada on-line no JAMA Neurology, a JAMA Network journal.

"Independente de raça ou etnia, as habilidades cognitivas basicas e uma série de outros fatores de risco, estão associados a insuficiência de vitamina D o que leva a uma diminuição significativa e rápida, tanto da memória episódica bem como o comportamento da função executiva", disse Joshua Miller, professor no Departamento de Patologia e Medicina Laboratorial e atualmente presidente do Departamento de Ciências da Nutrição da Universidade Rutgers.

"Este e outros trabalhos sugerem que há evidências suficientes para recomendar que as pessoas de 60 anos ou mais deveriam conversar com o seu médico sobre a conveniência de tomar um suplemento diário de vitamina D", disse Miller. "Mesmo se não se observarem beneficios evidentes, ainda o risco de provocar problemas para a saúde é muito baixo", disse ele.

O estudo foi realizado com cerca de 400 homens e mulheres, de diversas razas e etnias, no norte da Califórnia, como parte do programa de investigação longitudinal no centro da doença de Alzheimer em Sacramento, Califórnia. 

Cinquenta por cento dos participantes eram caucasianos e 50 por cento eram Africano-americanos ou hispânicos. Os participantes tinham uma idade média de 76 anos e eram cognitivamente normais ou tinham um comprometimento cognitivo leve ou demência.

O nível de vitamina D foi medido no soro sanguíneo no início do estudo. O resultado mostrou deficiência e insuficência de vitamina D predominante em todos os participantes do estudo. No geral, 26% resultaram deficientes e 35%  insuficientes. Entre os individuos brancos 54% tinham níveis baixos de vitamina D em quanto que os afro-americanos e hispânicos apresentaram 70% de deficiência.

Ao longo de cinco anos de acompanhamento, os indivduos deficientes em vitamina D experimentaram declínios cognitivos duas a três vezes mais rápidos do que aqueles com níveis séricos de vitamina D normias.
  
Em outras palavras levou apenas dois anos para as pessoas com deficiência de vitamina D diminuir o nível cognitivo, em quanto o grupo com vitamina D normal demorou todo o período de acompanhamento de cinco anos.

"Esperávamos ver quedas do índice cognitivo nos indivíduos com baixo nível de vitamina D", disse Charles DeCarli, diretor do Centro de Doença de Alzheimer. "O que foi inesperado foi a profundidade do impacto dos baixos valores de vitamina D no nível cognitivo."

A exposição da pele à luz solar é a principal fonte de vitamina D. Algumas raças e minorias étnicas apresentam maior risco decorrente do baixo nível de vitamina D porque a maior concentração de melanina faz que a pele mais escura (que protege contra o câncer de pele em climas ensolarados), também inibe a síntese da vitamina D. Outra fonte de vitamina D é obtida através dos produtos lácteos. 

"Eu não sei se a terapia de reposição afetaria os níveis cognitivos. Isso precisa ser pesquisado e estamos pensando em fazer isso", disse DeCarli.

"Esta deficiência de vitamina poderia ser facilmente tratada. Temos que começar a falar sobre isso, especialmente para as pessoas de cor, para as quais a deficiência de vitamina D parece apresentar um risco ainda maior ", disse ele.


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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Aliens Are Silent Because They Are Extint

ENGLISH INTO SPANISH.
Los extraterrestres están en silencio porque se han extinguido.

La vida en otros planetas sería breve y es probable que se extinga muy rápidamente, dicen astro biólogos de la (ANU) “Universidad Nacional de Australia, Escuela  de Investigación de Ciencias de la Tierra”.

En una investigación que buscaba entender cómo podría desarrollarse la vida, los científicos se dieron cuenta que una vida naciente desaparecería, debido al calentamiento descontrolado o al enfriamiento de los planetas donde se originaron.

"El universo está probablemente lleno de planetas habitables, por lo que muchos científicos piensan que deberían estar llenos de extraterrestres," dijo el Dr. Aditya Chopra, autor principal del artículo, que se publica en Astrobiología.

"La vida durante los primeros años es frágil, por lo que creemos que raramente evoluciona lo suficientemente rápido como para sobrevivir."

"La mayoría de los ambientes planetarios tempranos son inestables. Para producir un planeta habitable las formas de vida necesitan regular los gases de efecto invernadero tales como el agua y el dióxido de carbono, para mantener estables las temperaturas de la superficie."

Hace unos 4 mil millones años la Tierra, Venus y Marte pudieron haber sido habitables. Sin embargo, más o menos mil millones de años después de la formación, Venus se convirtió en un invernadero y Marte se congeló como una heladera.

La vida microbiana temprana en Venus y Marte, si hubo alguna, no logró estabilizar el entorno rápidamente cambiante, dijo el Profesor Asociado coautor Charley Lineweaver, del Instituto de Ciencias Planetarias ANU.

"La vida en la Tierra probablemente jugó un papel de liderazgo en la estabilización del clima del planeta", dijo.

 El Dr. Chopra declaró que su teoría había resuelto el rompecabezas.

"El misterio de por qué todavía no hemos encontrado signos de extraterrestres puede tener menos que ver con la probabilidad del surgimiento de la vida o de la inteligencia sino más bien está relacionado con la rareza de la rápida aparición de la regulación biológica de los ciclos de retroalimentación en las superficies planetarias ", dijo.

Planetas húmedos, rocosos, con los ingredientes y las fuentes de energía necesarias para la vida parecen estar en todas partes, sin embargo, el físico Enrico Fermi señaló en 1950, ningún signo de vida extraterrestre sobreviviente ha sido encontrado.

Una solución plausible a la paradoja de Fermi, dicen los investigadores, es la temprana extinción universal, la que han llamado el Cuello de botella Gaian.


"Una atractiva predicción del modelo de Cuello de botella es que la gran mayoría de los fósiles en el universo deberán ser de vida microbiana extinta y no de especies multicelulares como los dinosaurios o humanoides, que les costó miles de millones de años desarrollar la evolución", dijo el Profesor asociado Lineweaver.


ENGLISH

The aliens are silent because they are extinct.

Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, said astrobiologists from the Australian National University (ANU).

In research aiming to understand how life might develop, scientists realized new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.

“The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” said Aditya Chopra from ANU.

“Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”

“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable.”

About four billion years ago, Earth, Venus, and Mars may have all been habitable. However, a billion years or so after formation, Venus turned into a hothouse and Mars froze into an icebox.

Early microbial life on Venus and Mars, if there was any, failed to stabilize the rapidly changing environment, said Charley Lineweaver from ANU.

“Life on Earth probably played a leading role in stabilizing the planet’s climate,” he said.

Chopra said their theory solved a puzzle.

“The mystery of why we haven’t yet found signs of aliens may have less to do with the likelihood of the origin of life or intelligence and have more to do with the rarity of the rapid emergence of biological regulation of feedback cycles on planetary surfaces,” he said.

Wet, rocky planets with the ingredients and energy sources required for life seem to be ubiquitous, however, as Enrico Fermi pointed out in 1950, no signs of surviving extra-terrestrial life have been found.

A plausible solution to Fermi’s paradox, say the researchers, is near universal early extinction, which they have named the Gaian Bottleneck.

“One intriguing prediction of the Gaian Bottleneck model is that the vast majority of fossils in the universe will be from extinct microbial life, not from multicellular species such as dinosaurs or humanoids that take billions of years to evolve,” said Lineweaver







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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Starshot

ENGLISH INTO SPANISH.


Professor Stephen Hawking announces mission to Alpha Centauri.

Source: SarahKnapton, science editor.
Date: 12 APRIL 2016.

An astonishing space mission to visit our nearest star system and find out if alien life exists has been launched by Professor Stephen Hawking.

Despite being visible in the night sky without a telescope, Alpha Centauri is 25 trillion miles away (4.3 light years) and would take around 30,000 years to reach with current technology.
However Professor Hawking has joined forces with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, to develop technology which would allow a spacecraft to reach the star system in just 20 years.

Once there, a probe would sweep past the planets hunting for signs of advanced alien civilizations.

Earth-like planets have already been detected around the three stars of Alpha Centauri and scientists are hopeful that some may by located in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ – an area where it is neither too hot, nor cold, for life to thrive.

Launching the initial $100 million phase of the ‘Starshot’ mission at the One World Observatory in New York City, Prof Hawking said: 

“There are no greater heights to aspire to than the stars.

“What makes human beings unique? There are many theories. Some say it is language or tools, others say it is logical reasoning. They obviously haven't met many humans.

“I believe what makes us unique is transcending our limits. Gravity pins us to the ground, but I just flew to America. I lost my voice but I can still speak. How do we transcend these limits? With our minds and our machines.

"The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars but now we can transcend it, with light beams and light sails and the lightest spacecraft ever built we can launch a mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation.”

Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking host press conference to announce Breakthrough Starshot.

The mission relies on building the lightest spacecraft ever flown - a tiny ‘nanocraft’ weighing less than a gram which would be fitted with a small sail.

Back on Earth a huge array of laser beams will be fired up into space, coming together to form a 100 gigawatt beam of light which will blast the tiny craft off into the solar system, accelerating to speeds of 100 million miles per hour.

Although Voyager One has ventured outside the Solar System, and is currently in interstellar space, no spaceship has ever reached another star system.

Speaking at the press conference Milner said: "The question is, can we reach the stars? Can we literally reach the stars? And can we do it in our lifetime.

"The Moon still marks the furthest human beings have come. Since then we have delegated the task to robots. Voyager One has now reached interstellar space. Is that as far as we can go and what will be our next great leap?

"If Voyager had left our planet when humans left Africa it would be arriving at Alpha Centauri about now. So how do we go faster?

"There is a technology just over the horizon which can get us to the speed we need. Actually we already use come of the basic principles. Leave the fuel behind. It was not possible before, but it is possible in the near future.

“If this comes to fruition it will tell us as much about ourselves as about Alpha Centauri. For the first time in human history we can do more than just gaze at the stars. We can actually reach them."

The laser beamed from Earth will be so bright that it will visible throughout the Universe. The team are hoping it might be seen by an advanced civilisations.

"Starshot will answer the question are we alone?" said Pete Worden Executive Director, Breakthrough Starshot,  former Director of NASA Ames Research Center

"We can search for intelligent life across the universe. This is really cool. Through these hard challenges, onto the stars."

In 2012, a planet of a similar size to Earth was spotted orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B. Although it is too hot for life - around 2,200 degrees on the surface - it is likely there are other planets nearby that may be cool enough for water and life.

Last year Prof Hawking and Milner launched a joint $100 million initiative to hunt for evidence of extra-terrestrial civilizations.

Milner is also funding a prize called Breakthrough Message to come up with the best way to communicate with aliens. 

Milner, who was named after Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, said he was committed to bringing the ‘Silicon Valley’ approach to hunting for intelligent life in the Universe.

The new announcement was made on the 55th anniversary of Gagarin’s first spaceflight.


ESPAÑOL

El profesor Stephen Hawking anuncia misión a Alfa Centauri.

Fuente: Sarah Knapton, editor de ciencia.
Fecha:  12 DE ABRIL de 2016.

Una misión espacial asombrosa destinada a visitar nuestro sistema estelar más cercano y averiguar si existe vida extraterrestre ha sido puesta en marcha por el profesor Stephen Hawking.

A pesar de ser visible en el cielo nocturno sin telescopio, Alpha Centauri está a 25 billones de millas de distancia (4,3 años luz) lo que tomaría alrededor de 30.000 años visitarlo con la tecnología actual.

Sin embargo el profesor Hawking ha unido fuerzas con el multimillonario ruso Yuri Milner y con Mark Zuckerberg de Facebook, para desarrollar una tecnología que permitiría a una nave espacial llegar al sistema de la estrella en sólo 20 años.

Una vez allí, una sonda examinaría más allá de los planetas para auscultar señales de civilizaciones extraterrestres avanzadas.

Planetas similares a la Tierra ya se han detectado alrededor de las tres estrellas de Alfa Centauri y los científicos tienen la esperanza de que algunos de ellos puedan estar en la Zona ‘Goldilocks’ - un área que no es ni demasiado caliente ni demasiado fría, apropiada para el florecimiento de la vida.

Durante el lanzamiento de la primera fase de ‘Starshot’, la misión de $ 100 millones, en el One World Observatory  en la ciudad de Nueva York, Hawking dijo:

"No hay mayores alturas que se puedan alcanzar sino las estrellas”.

"¿Qué es lo que hace que los seres humanos seamos únicos? Hay muchas teorías. Algunos dicen que es el lenguaje o las herramientas, otros dicen que es el razonamiento lógico. Es evidente que no han conocido a muchos seres humanos.

"Creo que lo que nos hace únicos es trascender nuestros límites. La gravedad nos fija a la tierra, pero recién he volado a América. He perdido mi voz, pero todavía puedo hablar. ¿Cómo podemos trascender estos límites? Con nuestras mentes y nuestras máquinas.

"El límite al que nos enfrentamos ahora es el gran vacío que existe entre nosotros y las estrellas, pero ahora podemos trascenderlo, con rayos y “velas del luz al viento”, la nave espacial ligera que jamás se haya construido, podremos lanzar una misión a Alpha Centauri dentro de una generación."

Yuri Milner y Stephen Hawking ofrecieron una rueda de prensa para anunciar el asombroso proyecto Starshot

La misión se basa en la construcción de la nave espacial más leve jamás concebida - un pequeño 'nanocraft' (nano-transportador) que pesa menos de un gramo, equipado con una pequeña vela.

En la Tierra un enorme arsenal de rayos láser se dispararía al espacio, los que se unirían para formar un rayo de luz de 100 gigavatios que impulsaría a la pequeña nave hacia afuera del sistema solar, acelerándola a velocidades de 160 millones de kilómetros por hora.

Aunque el Voyager Uno se ha aventurado afuera de nuestro sistema solar, y actualmente se encuentra en el espacio interestelar, ninguna nave espacial ha llegado jamás a otro sistema estelar.

En su intervención en la rueda de prensa Milner dijo: "La pregunta es, ¿podemos llegar a las estrellas ¿Podemos llegar literalmente a las estrellas, y podremos hacerlo durante nuestra vida?

"La Luna aun marca el límite más lejano donde los seres humanos han llegado. Desde entonces hemos delegado la tarea a los robots. El Voyager Uno ahora ha alcanzado el espacio interestelar. Es éste nuestro límite actual, cuál será nuestro próximo gran salto?
"Si la nave Voyager hubiera dejado nuestro planeta cuando los seres humanos salieron de África, ahora estaría llegando a Alfa Centauri. Entonces la pregunta es, ¿cómo ir más rápido?

"Existe una tecnología en el horizonte que nos puede llevar a la velocidad que necesitamos. En realidad ya se utilizan los principios básicos. Hay que dejar atrás los combustibles. No era posible antes, pero será posible en un futuro próximo.

"Si esto llega a buen término aprenderemos mucho acerca de nosotros mismos y sobre Alpha Centauri. Por primera vez en la historia humana podemos hacer algo más que mirar a las estrellas. Podemos realmente alcanzarlas".

El haz de rayos láser proyectado desde la Tierra será tan brillante que será visible en todo el Universo. El equipo tiene la esperanza que pueda ser visto por civilizaciones avanzadas.

"Starshot responderá a la pregunta ¿estamos solos?" dijo Pete Worden Director Ejecutivo, del Proyecto Starshot y ex director de la NASA Ames Research Center.

"Podemos buscar vida inteligente a través del universo. Esto es realmente genial. Sin duda un difícil desafío hacia las estrellas."

En 2012, un planeta de tamaño similar a la Tierra fue descubierto en órbita alrededor de la estrella Alfa Centauri B. Aunque es demasiado caliente para alojar vida - alrededor de 2.200 grados en la superficie - es probable que haya otros planetas cercanos que pueden ser lo suficientemente fríos como para albergar agua y vida.

El año pasado, Hawking y Milner pusieron en marcha una iniciativa conjunta $ 100 millones para auscultar evidencias de civilizaciones extraterrestres.

Milner también está financiando un premio denominado “Breakthrough Message” para el surgimiento de la mejor manera de comunicarse con los extraterrestres.

Milner, cuyo primer nombre es igual al del primer hombre que viajó al espacio, Yuri Gagarin, dijo que se ha comprometido a utilizar el enfoque de "Silicon Valley" para la caza de vida inteligente en el Universo.

El nuevo anuncio fue hecho en el 55 aniversario del primer vuelo espacial de Gagarin.


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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Obesity And Hunger

ENGLISH INTO PORTUGUESE.

Relatório Global: Os problemas de saúde provocados pela obesidade agora superam os problemas provocados pela fome.

Fonte: Danielle Dellorto CNN

A obesidade já é uma crise de saúde global com extensões bem maiores do que os impactos da fome. E a principal causa de incapacidade em todo o mundo, de acordo com um novo relatório publicado em dez/2012 na revista médica britânica The Lancet. 

Cerca de 500 pesquisadores de 50 países compararam dados de saúde desde 1990 até 2010 no relatório “Global Burden of Disease”, revelando o que eles chamam de uma grande mudança global nas tendências da saúde.

"Foi comprovado que houve uma grande mudança na mortalidade. Crianças que morriam de doenças infecciosas agora estão indo muito bem graças às técnicas de imunização", disse Ali Mokdad, co-autor do estudo e professor de saúde global do Instituto de Metrologia da Saúde e Avaliação da Universidade de Washington, que liderou o projeto colaborativo. 

"Não obstante, o mundo agora é obeso e estamos recebendo este impacto."

A Diabetes está provocando uma crise de saúde no México.
No Kuwait encontram-se as pessoas mais obesas do mundo.
Os problemas do coração são caros.
Os conhecimentos sobre a obesidade deixam envergonhados aos pais.

O relatório revelou que cada país, com exceção daqueles da região sub-saariana, apresentam taxas de obesidade alarmantes: Aumento da obesidade global de 82%, durante as últimas duas decadas. Os países do Oriente Médio estão mais obesos do que nunca, apresentando um aumento na obesidade de 100% a partir de 1990.

"O chamado estilo de vida ocidental está sendo adotado em todo o mundo, e os impactos são iguais em todas partes", disse Mokdad.De acordo com o relatório, os problemas de saúde provocados pelos  elevados índices de massa corporal agora superam os problemas provocados pela fome. 

Pela primeira vez, as doenças não transmissíveis (DNT), como o acidente vascular cerebral (AVC), a diabetes e as doenças do coração estão no topo da lista das doenças que causam longos anos de sofrimento nas pessoas. Já é tempo de tratar desta epidemia mundial causada pela negligência. 

O professor Mokdad disse: "Todos esses problemas estão ligados à obesidade". "Estamos vendo inclusive uma grande porcentagem de pessoas que agora sofrem dores nas costas. Se pudéssemos reduzir as taxas de obesidade, veríamos a diminução do número de doenças não transmissíveis e também a diminuição destas dores."


As pessoas estão vivendo mais tempo do que o previsto em 1990 - em média, 10,7 anos a mais para os homens, e 12,6 anos a mais para as mulheres. Mas, para muitos deles, a qualidade de vida durante esses anos não é boa. De acordo com o estudo, em média, as pessoas ficam atormentadas por doenças ou dores durante os seus últimos 14 anos de vida. Que ironia: ganha-se 10-12 anos, mas perde-se 14 em qualidade de vida...

ENGLISH
Obesity and Hunger

Global report: Obesity bigger health crisis than hunger.

Source:Danielle Dellorto, CNN.

Obesity is a bigger health crisis globally than hunger, and the leading cause of disabilities around the world, according to a new report published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Nearly 500 researchers from 50 countries compared health data from 1990 through 2010 for the Global Burden of Disease report, revealing what they call a massive shift in global health trends.

"We discovered that there's been a huge shift in mortality. Kids who used to die from infectious disease are now doing extremely well with immunization," said Ali Mokdad, co-author of the study and professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which led the collaborative project.

"However, the world is now obese and we're seeing the impact of that."

Diabetes a health crisis in Mexico
Kuwaitis: The world's fattest people?
Heart problems are expensive
Anti-obesity ads shame overweight parents

The report revealed that every country, with the exception of those in sub-Saharan Africa, faces alarming obesity rates -- an increase of 82% globally in the past two decades. Middle Eastern countries are more obese than ever, seeing a 100% increase since 1990.

"The so-called 'Western lifestyle' is being adapted all around the world, and the impacts are all the same," Mokdad said. The health burden from high body mass indexes now exceeds that due to hunger, according to the report.

And for the first time, non communicable diseases like diabetes, stroke and heart disease top the list of leading causes of years spent sick or injured. Time to address a neglected global epidemic

"All these problems are tied to obesity," Mokdad said. "We're even seeing a large percentage of people suffering back pain now. If we could lower the obesity rates, we'd see the numbers of noncommunicable diseases and pain decrease as well."

People are living longer than projected in 1990 -- on average, 10.7 more years for men, and 12.6 more years for women. But for many of them, the quality of life during those years is not good. On average, people are plagued by illness or pain during the last 14 years of life, according to the study.















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