The Engadget Buyer’s Guide is back and better than ever!

If you’ve been reading Engadget regularly, you know we’ve been offering buying advice for quite some time now. And if we do say so ourselves, we’re pretty good at it. Still, it was high time we shook things up a bit. Today, we’re introducing our new…

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At long last, Roku finally is getting a YouTube app.

At long last, Roku finally is getting a YouTube app. That closes one of the few streaming holes it had left, and only goes further to make it more important than ever .

Read more…



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iSkelter lets you show off all your Apple devices in style — Macworld|iWorld 2014

iSkelter’s computer furniture is designed with the Mac and iOS user in mind – cutouts help you hold your iPhone, iPad, laptop and other accessories in place. What’s more, it’s all made out of compressed bamboo – strong, durable and sustainable. Funded by Kickstarter, iSkelter showed off their latest wares at Macworld|iWorld 2014 including a new desk that’s available in either sitting or standing configurations.

    



Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheIphoneBlog/~3/8gKSPVjc4_s/story01.htm
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Boehner: No formal talks on immigration bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that the House will not hold formal, compromise talks on the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration bill, a fresh signal from the Republican leadership that the issue is dead for the year.

The slow, relatively quiet death came more than four months after the Senate, on a bipartisan vote, passed a far-reaching bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and tighten border security.

That fanfare for that bill was quashed by strong opposition among House Republican rank and file who reject a comprehensive approach and question offering citizenship to people who broke U.S. immigration laws to be in this country. House incumbents also are wary of primary challenges from the right.

One of the clearest signs that any action was unlikely was word that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who had worked for months on the Senate bill, had abandoned the comprehensive approach. Rubio had taken political heat from conservatives after Senate passage of the immigration bill.

Boehner, R-Ohio, reiterated that the House is focused on a piecemeal approach to dealing with the issue. But he declined to say whether lawmakers will consider any legislation this year or whether the issue will slip to 2014, when the politics of congressional elections further diminish chances of action.

The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, had told immigration advocates last week that the House won’t vote this year but possibly early next year.

“The idea that we’re going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House and frankly I’ll make clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill,” Boehner told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference.

He said Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is working on “a set of principles to help guide us as we deal with this issue.”

The Judiciary Committee has approved piecemeal bills, but they have languished since the summer despite intense pressure from a diverse coalition of religious groups, business led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor unions and immigration advocates.

Although House Republican leaders say they want to resolve the issue, which has become a political drag for the GOP, many rank-and-file Republicans have shown little inclination to deal with immigration.

The bitter standoff with President Barack Obama on the budget and near default further angered House Republicans, who have resisted any move that might give Obama an immigration overhaul, the top item on his second-term domestic agenda.

Many House Republicans are wary of passing any immigration legislation that would set up a conference with the Democratic-controlled Senate, fearing the House could lose out in final negotiations.

Opponents of comprehensive immigration legislation welcomed Boehner’s words and the latest development.

“Friends, take a moment to celebrate what I call a ‘step victory,’” Roy Beck of NumbersUSA said in a note to followers that warned that the threat was not over.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., called it “an important and positive development for our nation, our people and the Republican Party. House Republicans are resisting an influence campaign and standing for the interests of the American people.”

One of the Democrats who spent months working with Republicans on the Senate bill expressed incredulity that the only House vote this year on immigration was to resume the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children.

It was a largely symbolic vote to block implementation of Obama’s 2012 election-year order to stop deportations of many so-called DREAM Act individuals.

“I believe the House will come to its senses and realize that we have to fix our immigration system in a bipartisan way,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “They cannot possibly end this Congress only having passed legislation to deport all of the Dream Act kids.”

Before Boehner’s news conference with other Republican leaders, several immigrant children approached Boehner as he sat down for breakfast at a Capitol Hill diner and described how they could lose parents to deportation. The children were in Washington as several organizations maintain their pressure on the House to act on immigration.

Carmen Lima, a 13-year-old from California, told Boehner that she feared never seeing her father again and asked Boehner if the group could count on Boehner for his vote.

“Well, I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done,” Boehner said. “It’s … not easy — not gonna be an easy path forward. But I’ve made it clear since the day after the election that it’s time to get this done.”

In a statement later in the day, the girls said they felt betrayed.

“I didn’t know what to expect from the speaker when I told him I could lose my father to deportation,” Lima said. “But I did not expect he would lie to me, and that’s what it feels like now.”

Democrats expressed frustration over the House’s lack of action at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on enforcing laws to deal with legal immigrants who overstay their visas.

“If we can vote 45 times to gut Obamacare and have another vote scheduled this week, why can the Republican leadership not find the time to schedule one vote on immigration?” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/boehner-no-formal-talks-immigration-bill-163305845–politics.html
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Militias attack Libyan protesters, killing 22

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libyan militiamen attacked white-flag-carrying protesters demanding the disbanding of the country’s rampant armed groups on Friday, killing at least 22 people as they opened fire on the march with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan blamed the protesters and the militia alike for the violence, though witnesses said they saw no protesters carrying weapons ahead of the shooting Friday afternoon. By Friday night, however, some protesters joined by other militias had armed themselves and heavy gunfire rang out in the Tripoli neighborhood where the attack happened.

The march in the capital Tripoli by thousands of protesters was the biggest show of public anger at militias in months. Since the 2011 fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, hundreds of militias — many of them on government payroll — have run out of control in Libya, carving out zones of power, defying state authority and launching violent attacks.

The protesters marched from a downtown mosque to the headquarters of a militia originally from the city of Misrata that has a powerful presence in Tripoli. They waved Libyan and white flags and chanted, “We want an army, we want police,” referring to demands that the country’s weak security forces take the place of militias.

When they neared the building, militiamen in civilian clothes and military uniforms came out of the headquarters, opening fire at the protesters with automatic weapons, RPGs and anti-aircraft guns. Protesters ran from gunfire while carrying others covered in blood.

An official at Tripoli Emergency Hospital told The Associated Press it had the bodies of 15 dead protesters. Libya’s official news agency LANA quoted a medical official at Tripoli’s Central Hospital as saying it had the bodies of seven dead protesters, bringing death toll from the initial assault to at least 22. The agency said the attack wounded more than 130 people, leaving many in critical condition.

Witnesses all said the protesters carried no weapons. Al-Taher Basha Agha, commander of Misrata-based militia, told Libya’s private al-Ahrar television station that the protesters were armed and opened fire first.

Asked if he would leave Tripoli, the commander said that his men will leave only “dead bodies.”

“Tripoli has not seen a war yet, it will see it soon,” he said.

View gallery.”

This image made from video shows a protester holding …

This image made from video shows a protester holding up spent ammunition in Tripoli, Libya after mil …

Prime Minister Ali Zidan also blamed both protesters and the militiamen for the violence in a televised news conference.

“You can’t open fire at people who are exchanging fire,” Zidan said.

Protesters said they were shocked by the prime minister’s comments, pointing to an image of a bleeding elderly man shared on social media.

“This is delusional,” protester Abdel-Karim al-Beriki said. “The first martyr was a man in his seventies. How could he be carrying a weapon?”

Libya’s militias grew out of the informally created local brigades of rebels who battled Gadhafi’s military. Since his fall and death, the militias have mushroomed in number, size and power. With the army and police still weak, the government has turned to militias to keep security, giving them tasks guarding facilities or districts. But the government pay has not put them under state control, and the armed groups — some of which include Islamic militants — act on their own agendas. Many of them were engaged in kidnappings, torture, assassinations and taking the law into their own hands.

The government has put a December deadline on groups to join state security forces or face losing their government paychecks — though it is not clear if the government will carry out the threat, since it could spark a powerful militia backlash. It has made similar threats in the past.

Many militias have turned villas and residential compounds of former Gadhafi-era officials into camps where they stash weapons and impose control over certain areas. . Eastern militias also have seized control of oil exporting terminals, sending production plunging from 1.4 million barrels a day to around few hundred thousand, robbing the country of its main revenue source.

Over time, some militias allied with politicians and have been used in imposing their political agenda on other lawmakers.

Zidan, who was briefly kidnapped by militiamen himself last month, said his embattled government was working on a plan to drive out all militias from Tripoli.

“There will be no exception,” he said. “All militias — including those in Tripoli — will be out.”

Friday’s march was prompted by a string of incidents involving militias — most recently, street clashes between the Misrata militia and one from Tripoli. The fight was sparked by the killing of one of the Misrata group’s commanders, and the gun battles in the street panicked residents.

For now, the official LANA news agency said there were two battalions deployed to the site of the attack and that soldiers had orders to shoot anyone who was hostile. The country’s grand Mufti, or top Islamic scholar, called on protesters to end their demonstrations and said he held the government responsible for ending militias’ presence in the capital.

Al-Sadat al-Badri, the head of Tripoli’s city council, called for three-day mourning in the capital while urging residents for “self-restraint.”

The reaction was reminiscent of a similar scene last year in the eastern city of Benghazi, where thousands of protesters besieged headquarters of Islamic militias, forcing them to flee and clashed with others where dozens were killed. The protests came days after the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in a deadly attack on an American mission in Benghazi.

On Friday, the U.S. State Department said it had been quietly offering rewards since January of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any person involved in the Benghazi attack.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/militias-attack-libyan-protesters-killing-22-184312510.html
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Monitoring material changes in the hostile environment of a fusion reactor

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Contact: James Riordon
riordon@aps.org
301-209-3238
American Physical Society

New particle beam diagnostic technique promises insights into materials used in fusion reactors


Materials are widely recognized as one of the critical remaining challenges for making fusion a commercially viable energy source. In a future fusion power plant, the materials surrounding and interacting with the plasma must survive in an extremely hostile environment for up to two years to produce electricity reliably, safely and economically.

Now, researchers at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center have demonstrated for the first time a novel diagnostic instrument that can remotely map the composition of material surfaces inside a magnetic fusion device. The measurements can be performed in between successive plasma experiments so researchers can study the evolution of materials over time. This new approach to the study of fusion materials promises to provide scientists with new insights into the dynamic interaction of fusing plasma and its surrounding materials.

The challenges to materials from plasma interactions are severe: the erosion of surface material, the mixing of materials to form unintended alloys, and the retention of the plasma fuel. These processes fundamentally modify the properties for which the materials were originally selected, resulting in shortened component lifetime and degraded plasma performance. The dynamic, spatially varying changes to the material surfaces, coupled with the hostile environment inside the magnetic fusion device, present substantial challenges for experimental study in present-day devices.

To date, the leading experimental approach has been to remove the materials for study to an offsite, dedicated facility, where the materials are analyzed with high-energy particle beams using a technique known as ion beam analysis (IBA). While providing precise measurements of the material composition and structure, IBA is resource intensive for the fusion facility, requiring time consuming manned access while only providing a “snapshot” of the material removed at a single moment in time.

The MIT research team led by Professor Dennis Whyte and graduate students Harold Barnard, Zach Hartwig and Brandon Sorbom has, for the first time, performed IBA within a magnetic fusion device. The technique employs a small linear accelerator to inject a beam of charged particles (or ions) into the Alcator C-Mod tokamak between plasma discharges. Because the beam is composed of ions, magnets normally used to confine plasma can be used to steer the beam to different material surfaces. Advanced particle detectors located nearby detect the induced neutron and gamma particles, which can be used to compute the composition of the material surfaces.

The first experimental results from the diagnostic will be presented at the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics meeting in Denver in November. Researchers were able to track changes of deuterium, the heavy form of hydrogen fusion fuel, and boron, a protective metallic film that coats the materials, at four different surface locations in response to plasma operation. The measured changes of boron erosion and deposition were in agreement with previous studies, demonstrating that the technique is suitable for studying the dynamic link between plasma conditions and the material response without requiring access to the interior of the device. The ultimate goal of the diagnostic is to routinely measure large fractions of the interior surface in between each plasma discharge, enabling a global understanding of material behavior in fusion systems and providing crucial experimental data for computational models of plasmamaterial interactions.

The diagnostic design makes it possible to incorporate into existing fusion facilities with minimal modifications to the fusion device itself. This could allow widespread adoption of such instrumentation as the “standard” materials diagnostic for magnetic fusion devices. Perhaps more importantly, the MIT team has demonstrated that IBA of materials can be performed in extremely unfavorable environments outside of dedicated facilities.

The technique could be deployed to monitor materials in situations where traditional instrumentation does not work or cannot survive, such as in hazardous nuclear or highvacuum environments.

###

Research Contact:

Zach Hartwig, (617) 253 0025, hartwig@psfc.mit.edu

Abstracts:

NI3.00003 The in-situ diagnosis of plasma-wall interactions on magnetic fusion

devices with accelerators

Session NI3: Technology and Fundamental Plasma Physics

9:30 AM-12:30 PM, Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Room: Plaza F


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Contact: James Riordon
riordon@aps.org
301-209-3238
American Physical Society

New particle beam diagnostic technique promises insights into materials used in fusion reactors


Materials are widely recognized as one of the critical remaining challenges for making fusion a commercially viable energy source. In a future fusion power plant, the materials surrounding and interacting with the plasma must survive in an extremely hostile environment for up to two years to produce electricity reliably, safely and economically.

Now, researchers at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center have demonstrated for the first time a novel diagnostic instrument that can remotely map the composition of material surfaces inside a magnetic fusion device. The measurements can be performed in between successive plasma experiments so researchers can study the evolution of materials over time. This new approach to the study of fusion materials promises to provide scientists with new insights into the dynamic interaction of fusing plasma and its surrounding materials.

The challenges to materials from plasma interactions are severe: the erosion of surface material, the mixing of materials to form unintended alloys, and the retention of the plasma fuel. These processes fundamentally modify the properties for which the materials were originally selected, resulting in shortened component lifetime and degraded plasma performance. The dynamic, spatially varying changes to the material surfaces, coupled with the hostile environment inside the magnetic fusion device, present substantial challenges for experimental study in present-day devices.

To date, the leading experimental approach has been to remove the materials for study to an offsite, dedicated facility, where the materials are analyzed with high-energy particle beams using a technique known as ion beam analysis (IBA). While providing precise measurements of the material composition and structure, IBA is resource intensive for the fusion facility, requiring time consuming manned access while only providing a “snapshot” of the material removed at a single moment in time.

The MIT research team led by Professor Dennis Whyte and graduate students Harold Barnard, Zach Hartwig and Brandon Sorbom has, for the first time, performed IBA within a magnetic fusion device. The technique employs a small linear accelerator to inject a beam of charged particles (or ions) into the Alcator C-Mod tokamak between plasma discharges. Because the beam is composed of ions, magnets normally used to confine plasma can be used to steer the beam to different material surfaces. Advanced particle detectors located nearby detect the induced neutron and gamma particles, which can be used to compute the composition of the material surfaces.

The first experimental results from the diagnostic will be presented at the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics meeting in Denver in November. Researchers were able to track changes of deuterium, the heavy form of hydrogen fusion fuel, and boron, a protective metallic film that coats the materials, at four different surface locations in response to plasma operation. The measured changes of boron erosion and deposition were in agreement with previous studies, demonstrating that the technique is suitable for studying the dynamic link between plasma conditions and the material response without requiring access to the interior of the device. The ultimate goal of the diagnostic is to routinely measure large fractions of the interior surface in between each plasma discharge, enabling a global understanding of material behavior in fusion systems and providing crucial experimental data for computational models of plasmamaterial interactions.

The diagnostic design makes it possible to incorporate into existing fusion facilities with minimal modifications to the fusion device itself. This could allow widespread adoption of such instrumentation as the “standard” materials diagnostic for magnetic fusion devices. Perhaps more importantly, the MIT team has demonstrated that IBA of materials can be performed in extremely unfavorable environments outside of dedicated facilities.

The technique could be deployed to monitor materials in situations where traditional instrumentation does not work or cannot survive, such as in hazardous nuclear or highvacuum environments.

###

Research Contact:

Zach Hartwig, (617) 253 0025, hartwig@psfc.mit.edu

Abstracts:

NI3.00003 The in-situ diagnosis of plasma-wall interactions on magnetic fusion

devices with accelerators

Session NI3: Technology and Fundamental Plasma Physics

9:30 AM-12:30 PM, Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Room: Plaza F


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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/aps-mmc111313.php
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Doxie Flip portable scanner runs on batteries, has transparent window

Doxie Flip portable scanner runs on batteries, has transparent window

Doxie’s latest portable scanner has an interesting ability: it flips over and lets you scan anything. Sure, you can use it to scan photos or paper, but if you turn it over you can scan small objects and notebooks too. What’s more, the computer is optional. The new Doxie Flip costs $149, and works independently of a computer.

The Flip is battery-powered and about the size of a book. The lid is removable and the scanning window is transparent, so when you want to scan something – pages from a book, an object like a coin or stampe, or even the surface of a table or an interesting texture, you just flip it over and hit the scan button. The scanning area is about 4 x 6 inches, and a forthcoming software update (due in December) will automatically stitch together multiple images if you use your Flip to scan a larger surface.

The batteries last for about 200 scans, and each scan takes about seven seconds, according to Doxie’s specs. The Flip saves files in JPG and PNG formats; if your Mac or PC doesn’t include an SD card reader, they include a USB SD card reader (Apple makes a $29 cable that will enable you to import the images onto the iPad too).

    



Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheIphoneBlog/~3/nMYqtm0WwI0/story01.htm
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MU researcher finds way to reduce unnecessary lab tests, decrease patient costs by modifying software

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4-Nov-2013

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Contact: Jesslyn Chew
ChewJ@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. When patients undergo diagnostic lab tests as part of the inpatient admission process, they may wonder why or how physicians choose particular tests. Increasingly, medical professionals are using electronic medical systems that provide lists of lab tests from which medical professionals can choose. Now, a University of Missouri researcher and her colleagues have studied how to modify these lists to ensure health professionals order relevant tests and omit unnecessary lab tests, which could result in better care and reduced costs for patients.

“Ordering numerous lab tests can result in unnecessary testing and can cause physical discomfort and financial stress to patients,” said Victoria Shaffer, an assistant professor of health sciences in the MU School of Health Professions. “We found that by changing the way electronic order set lists were designed, we could significantly alter both the number and quality of lab tests ordered by clinicians.”

Shaffer and her research team studied how physicians selected lab tests using three order set list designs on the same electronic medical system. The first order set list design was an opt-in version in which no lab tests were pre-selected; this is the standard method of lab test ordering in electronic health records for most healthcare facilities. A second option was an opt-out version in which physicians had to de-select lab tests they believed were not clinically relevant. In the third design, only a few tests were pre-selected based on recommendations by pediatric experts. On average, clinicians ordered three more tests when using the opt-out version than the opt-in or recommended versions. However, providers ordered more tests recommended by the pediatric experts when using the recommended design than when using the opt-in design.

“Essentially we found that including default selections, either with the opt-out method or the recommended method, increased the quality of lab tests the clinicians ordered. That is, clinicians ordered more tests recommended by pediatric experts with these methods,” Shaffer said. “However, there were costs associated with using these approaches. Use of the opt-out method costs about $71 more per patient. Using a set of recommended defaults keeps costs down but requires consensus about which tests to set as defaults.”

Shaffer, who also is an assistant professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science, believes that to further improve medical software and create the best end product, information technology (IT) experts who design the software should collaborate with experts who study how people interact with technology and medical professionals who would use the software.

“Problems with these software systems often occur because IT experts design the software with minimal input from the people who use it,” Shaffer said. “IT experts and medical professionals should work together to design these systems to reach optimal performance, which results in the best care for patients. A wide variety of methods exist that could improve medical lab test ordering software and would ensure that only the most appropriate, relevant lab tests for patients are ordered while saving money in the long run.”

Shaffer partnered with Adam Probst from Baylor Scott & White Health and Raymond Chan from Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo. Their study was published in Health Psychology.


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Contact: Jesslyn Chew
ChewJ@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. When patients undergo diagnostic lab tests as part of the inpatient admission process, they may wonder why or how physicians choose particular tests. Increasingly, medical professionals are using electronic medical systems that provide lists of lab tests from which medical professionals can choose. Now, a University of Missouri researcher and her colleagues have studied how to modify these lists to ensure health professionals order relevant tests and omit unnecessary lab tests, which could result in better care and reduced costs for patients.

“Ordering numerous lab tests can result in unnecessary testing and can cause physical discomfort and financial stress to patients,” said Victoria Shaffer, an assistant professor of health sciences in the MU School of Health Professions. “We found that by changing the way electronic order set lists were designed, we could significantly alter both the number and quality of lab tests ordered by clinicians.”

Shaffer and her research team studied how physicians selected lab tests using three order set list designs on the same electronic medical system. The first order set list design was an opt-in version in which no lab tests were pre-selected; this is the standard method of lab test ordering in electronic health records for most healthcare facilities. A second option was an opt-out version in which physicians had to de-select lab tests they believed were not clinically relevant. In the third design, only a few tests were pre-selected based on recommendations by pediatric experts. On average, clinicians ordered three more tests when using the opt-out version than the opt-in or recommended versions. However, providers ordered more tests recommended by the pediatric experts when using the recommended design than when using the opt-in design.

“Essentially we found that including default selections, either with the opt-out method or the recommended method, increased the quality of lab tests the clinicians ordered. That is, clinicians ordered more tests recommended by pediatric experts with these methods,” Shaffer said. “However, there were costs associated with using these approaches. Use of the opt-out method costs about $71 more per patient. Using a set of recommended defaults keeps costs down but requires consensus about which tests to set as defaults.”

Shaffer, who also is an assistant professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science, believes that to further improve medical software and create the best end product, information technology (IT) experts who design the software should collaborate with experts who study how people interact with technology and medical professionals who would use the software.

“Problems with these software systems often occur because IT experts design the software with minimal input from the people who use it,” Shaffer said. “IT experts and medical professionals should work together to design these systems to reach optimal performance, which results in the best care for patients. A wide variety of methods exist that could improve medical lab test ordering software and would ensure that only the most appropriate, relevant lab tests for patients are ordered while saving money in the long run.”

Shaffer partnered with Adam Probst from Baylor Scott & White Health and Raymond Chan from Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo. Their study was published in Health Psychology.


###


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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/uom-mrf110413.php
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Evolution of new species requires few genetic changes

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University of Chicago Medical Center


Only a few genetic changes are needed to spur the evolution of new specieseven if the original populations are still in contact and exchanging genes. Once started, however, evolutionary divergence evolves rapidly, ultimately leading to fully genetically isolated species, report scientists from the University of Chicago in the Oct 31 Cell Reports.

“Speciation is one of the most fundamental evolutionary processes, but there are still aspects that we do not fully understand, such as how the genome changes as one species splits into two,” said Marcus Kronforst, Ph.D., Neubauer Family assistant professor of ecology and evolution, and lead author of the study.

To reveal genetic differences critical for speciation, Kronforst and his team analyzed the genomes of two closely related butterfly species, Heliconius cydno and H. pachinus, which only recently diverged. Occupying similar ecological habitats and able to interbreed, these butterfly species still undergo a small amount of genetic exchange.



The researchers found that this regular gene flow mutes genetic variants unimportant to speciationallowing them to identify key genetic areas affected by natural selection. The butterfly species, they discovered, differed in only 12 small regions of their genomes, while remaining mostly identical throughout the rest. Eight of these coded for wing color patterning, a trait important for mating and avoiding predation, and under intense selection pressure, while the other four remain undescribed.

“These 12 spots appear to only function well in the environment their species occupies, and so are prevented from moving between gene pools, even though other parts of the genomes are swapped back and forth,” Kronforst said.

The team also compared the genomes of these two groups to a third species, still closely related but further removed on an evolutionary time scale. Here, they found hundreds of genomic changes, indicating that the rate of genetic divergence accelerated rapidly after the initial changes took hold.



“Our work suggests that a few advantageous mutations are enough to cause a ‘tug-of-war’ between natural selection and gene flow, which can lead to rapidly diverging genomes,” Kronforst said.

Kronforst and his team plan to characterize the remaining four divergent genome areas to look for functions important to speciation. They also are studying why species more commonly arise in tropical areas.

“It is possible that this type of speciation, in which natural selection pushes populations apart, has been important in the evolution of other organisms. It remains to be seen whether it is a common process though,” Kronforst said.

###

The paper, “Hybridization reveals the evolving genomic architecture of speciation,” was supported by the National Science Foundation. Additional authors include Matthew Hansen, Nicholas Crawford, Jason Gallant, Wei Zhang, Rob J. Kulathinal, Durrell Kapan and Sean Mullen.



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Contact: Kevin Jiang
kevin.jiang@uchospitals.edu
773-795-5227
University of Chicago Medical Center


Only a few genetic changes are needed to spur the evolution of new specieseven if the original populations are still in contact and exchanging genes. Once started, however, evolutionary divergence evolves rapidly, ultimately leading to fully genetically isolated species, report scientists from the University of Chicago in the Oct 31 Cell Reports.

“Speciation is one of the most fundamental evolutionary processes, but there are still aspects that we do not fully understand, such as how the genome changes as one species splits into two,” said Marcus Kronforst, Ph.D., Neubauer Family assistant professor of ecology and evolution, and lead author of the study.

To reveal genetic differences critical for speciation, Kronforst and his team analyzed the genomes of two closely related butterfly species, Heliconius cydno and H. pachinus, which only recently diverged. Occupying similar ecological habitats and able to interbreed, these butterfly species still undergo a small amount of genetic exchange.



The researchers found that this regular gene flow mutes genetic variants unimportant to speciationallowing them to identify key genetic areas affected by natural selection. The butterfly species, they discovered, differed in only 12 small regions of their genomes, while remaining mostly identical throughout the rest. Eight of these coded for wing color patterning, a trait important for mating and avoiding predation, and under intense selection pressure, while the other four remain undescribed.

“These 12 spots appear to only function well in the environment their species occupies, and so are prevented from moving between gene pools, even though other parts of the genomes are swapped back and forth,” Kronforst said.

The team also compared the genomes of these two groups to a third species, still closely related but further removed on an evolutionary time scale. Here, they found hundreds of genomic changes, indicating that the rate of genetic divergence accelerated rapidly after the initial changes took hold.



“Our work suggests that a few advantageous mutations are enough to cause a ‘tug-of-war’ between natural selection and gene flow, which can lead to rapidly diverging genomes,” Kronforst said.

Kronforst and his team plan to characterize the remaining four divergent genome areas to look for functions important to speciation. They also are studying why species more commonly arise in tropical areas.

“It is possible that this type of speciation, in which natural selection pushes populations apart, has been important in the evolution of other organisms. It remains to be seen whether it is a common process though,” Kronforst said.

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The paper, “Hybridization reveals the evolving genomic architecture of speciation,” was supported by the National Science Foundation. Additional authors include Matthew Hansen, Nicholas Crawford, Jason Gallant, Wei Zhang, Rob J. Kulathinal, Durrell Kapan and Sean Mullen.



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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-10/uocm-eon102813.php
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