Evolutionary Modeling – E JEMED http://e-jemed.org/ Tue, 04 Jan 2022 23:25:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://e-jemed.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/default1-150x150.png Evolutionary Modeling – E JEMED http://e-jemed.org/ 32 32 Wolves, Chronic Wasting Disease and Covid https://e-jemed.org/wolves-chronic-wasting-disease-and-covid/ Tue, 04 Jan 2022 22:24:20 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/wolves-chronic-wasting-disease-and-covid/ Mule deer in Wyoming. Photo George Würthner Recently, the Wyoming Game and Fish reported that between 2016 and 2020, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was found in over 60% of mule deer tested in central Wyoming. Recent tests suggest it can reach 78% of all deer tested. A map shows the onset of the disease in […]]]>

Mule deer in Wyoming. Photo George Würthner

Recently, the Wyoming Game and Fish reported that between 2016 and 2020, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was found in over 60% of mule deer tested in central Wyoming. Recent tests suggest it can reach 78% of all deer tested. A map shows the onset of the disease in Wyoming.

CWD is a fatal disease that can affect all members of the deer family, including deer, elk and moose.

There is a similar prion disease that infects humans called Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease. It’s also deadly. These prion diseases cause tissue and neurological systems to degenerate, leaving the brain with sponge-like holes, among other fatal problems.

Some scientists believe that consuming animals infected with CWD could cross the species barrier and infect humans.

An experiment conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency resulted in the transmission of CWD from the meat of cervids (moose, deer and elk) to macaque monkeys. The monkeys were infected by injection into the brain, and the animals were given CWD infected muscles.

This potential risk to human health has led to messages warning the fisheries and game departments not to eat infected animals. CWD has been found in 26 states and 3 Canadian provinces, including the Rocky Mountain states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and recently Idaho.

Hunters are warned against ingestion or even contact with the blood and other fluids of infected animals. Photo George Würthner

There is also some evidence that transmission could occur through casual contact with the blood or fluids of an infected animal, which means, at the very least, that hunters should wear gloves when slaughtering an animal. animal.

The World Health Organization warns against feeding infected animals to other animals. He warns: “no tissue likely to contain BSE [Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy] agent, part or product of an animal that has shown signs of TSE [Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy] should enter the food chain (human or animal).

CWD has a long latency period like Mad Cow Disease which is closely related to it. In other words, long before a deer or elk appear sick, they can get sick. Unfortunately, this means that there is no way for a hunter to know if the creature he has slaughtered has the disease until the animal is tested.

Infected herds have few older animals. Photo George Würthner

Evidence of the prevalence of the disease in a population is that there are few “old” animals. In heavily infected deer herds, few animals survive beyond 4 to 5 years before succumbing to the disease. As a result, in some states, a control mechanism has increased the hunting of all deer.

Most hunters seem ready to kill and often consume potentially infected animals despite these warnings.

Although CWD is spread from animal to animal, the prevailing idea is that prions remain in the soil or on plants eaten by healthy animals, which then contract the disease. Overcrowded herds are more susceptible to infection.

Wyoming operates state feeding areas that concentrate elk facilitating transmission of CWD. Photo George Würthner

This raises the issue in Wyoming, where the state operates 22 elk feeding stations to provide winter fodder. In such concentrated feeding operations, it is suspected that disease transmission is facilitated. For this reason, environmentalists have attempted to shut down foraging areas, especially on national forest lands.

Despite CWD’s danger to Wyoming’s deer and elk herds, the state has resisted dismantling feeding grounds. The reasons are very similar to the opposition to wearing masks and vaccines to reduce the spread of Covid.

Many Wyoming residents believe the threat of CWD transmission to humans is negligible. Additionally, many outfitters and hunters want the state to maintain high elk numbers for obvious reasons. While ranchers believe the foraging areas help prevent elk from moving to private land in the winter.

Fishing and hunting agencies are reluctant to minimize the risk of CWD transmission to humans as most of their income comes from the sale of hunting licenses and tags.

Wolves can spot a sick deer or moose before human hunters. Photo George Würthner

This brings me to the wolves. Wolves can spot a sick deer or elk long before it is obvious to human hunters. Some models suggest that wolves could reduce CWD to almost undetectable levels.

Yet Wyoming, like Idaho and Montana, has embarked on a wolf culling program that could effectively reduce the numbers of wolves to the point where they offer no control over the spread of CWD.

In essence, wolves are like masks and vaccines for the spread of Covid. They will not eliminate CWD, but they could help control its spread. Like vaccines, the goal is not to eradicate Covid but to reduce its incidence to the point where few deer, elk or other wildlife are infected. Wolves may be the “vaccine” needed to limit cervid encephalopathy.

Unsurprisingly, Wyoming is also a state whose human population largely rejects wearing masks, and many are opposed to vaccines. As a result, Wyoming is dead last in the percentage of its population that has been vaccinated against Covid. Only 47% of Wyoming residents are vaccinated compared to Vermont, where 77% have been vaccinated.

Despite good evidence that wolves could help protect Wyoming’s game populations, there is resistance to science and suspicion of government authority.

Elk carcass killed by wolves. CWD can drastically reduce both prey and therefore animals, including scavengers that relied on the slaughter of wolves. Photo George Würthner

The long-term implications of CWD on the evolutionary trajectory of herd populations and age structure are still unknown. For example, in uninfected populations, the older and more mature males perform the majority of reproduction, and often older females hold the “cultural” knowledge of migration routes, calving grounds and breeding grounds. wintering areas. However, in CWD herds with a high incidence of infection, there are few “old” individuals.

The implications of CWD-induced deer and elk population declines for other wildlife, including predators like wolves, cougars and bears, much less scavengers also need to be considered. If there was a significant reduction in the elk and deer herds, the ability to support these animals would be threatened.

Colorado has had the longest documented evidence of CWD infections, and some herds have an infection rate over 20%. But, so far, this has not led to the total collapse of Colorado ungulate populations.

Rather than culling wolves, states should promote wolves as a natural and effective agent that can reduce the incidence of CWD in ungulate populations. Photo George Würthner

Nonetheless, promoting wolves instead of slaughtering them might be the best antidote to the spread of CWD. But like vaccines and wearing masks, misinformation and prejudice can ultimately lead to lost hunting opportunities as well as declining wildlife populations.

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The brain as a prediction machine: the key to consciousness? https://e-jemed.org/the-brain-as-a-prediction-machine-the-key-to-consciousness/ Sat, 01 Jan 2022 20:31:30 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/the-brain-as-a-prediction-machine-the-key-to-consciousness/ The future, especially knowing the future, has been a side issue in psychology for over a century. The canonical human being, Psychological homo, is a prisoner of the past and the present … What happens when the canonical human becomes Homo flyer, and does our ability to think about our future become our ability to […]]]>

The future, especially knowing the future, has been a side issue in psychology for over a century. The canonical human being, Psychological homo, is a prisoner of the past and the present … What happens when the canonical human becomes Homo flyer, and does our ability to think about our future become our ability to define? – Seligman, Railton, Baumeister and Sripada—Homo Flyer1

Psychology in general, and the scientific study of cognition in particular, tended until very recently to focus more on past-oriented cognition (memory) and present-oriented cognition (perception) and less. on cognition oriented towards the future / prospective (expectation, anticipation).

This has changed. Increasingly, there is interest in how the brain is oriented and perhaps even organized around the formation of predictions. And there is an interest in developing an evolutionary understanding of why anticipatory cognition is so crucial.

Source: vexworldwide | Adobestock

Understanding the brain as a prediction machine can help explain consciousness.

The brain has evolved as an adaptation allowing organisms to better perceive and control the environment and their own internal state. Consciousness further enhances this ability by modeling the environment and the self.2 The ability to make predictions, guided by forward-looking representations, of “if-then” possibilities, greatly enhances this modeling ability. A system that can model the environment and itself well can train simulations of the future environment and its adaptations to that environment.

In attempting to solve the seeming conundrum of how the brain produces consciousness, 3 it is important to first understand “What is a thought?” And how is information physical? Thoughts are physical representations or maps. The mind is a kind of map. The brain and its functional product, the mind, have evolved as a map of the body’s relationship with its external environment.

More evolved brains, such as humans, can integrate past sensory experiences to form representations of things that are not currently “out there”: predictive simulations.

Beliefs are a form of predictive modeling.4

When you’re a brain in a dark skull guessing what’s there presently outside there is a form of prediction.

Anil Seth, a neuroscientist at the forefront of the serious science of consciousness,5 explained and developed the concept of the brain as a prediction machine in his book Being you: a new science of consciousness.

Seth suggested that even our perceptions of what currently exists are, in a sense, only predictions or simulations (what he calls “controlled hallucinations”). These are formed by a continuous process of updating predictions or assumptions (“best guesses”) about what the sensory data perceives.6

As Seth explained in his popular TED talk:

Perception – that is, determining what is there – must be an educated guess process in which the brain combines these sensory signals with its previous expectations or beliefs about how the world should shape its best estimate of the cause of these signals. The brain cannot hear sound and cannot see light. What we perceive is his best estimate of what exists in the world.seven

According to this theory, what we perceive is strongly shaped by top-down expectations / predictions, and not just upward sensory inputs.

How do the thousands of representations / models of the brain produce a sense of oneness consciousness?

In his book, A thousand brains,8 entrepreneur, scientist, engineer and inventor Jeff Hawkins explained how brain knowledge is stored in the form of many models or maps of the world. Research by Hawkins’ group focused on how the brain has thousands of complementary models of every object it perceives.

He calls it the Thousand Brains of Intelligence Theory. Each model functions as a frame of reference, physically stored in a tiny cortical column.9 These additional repositories provide “what” and “where” information; all acting together, they provide information about how different aspects of the object relate to each other.ten

Prediction underlies much of the framework of this theory. A cortical column can build powerful predictive models. For example, moving your finger from the bottom of a cup to the top can predict the sensation regardless of how the cup is rotated relative to the finger sensor.11

So how come we don’t feel like we’re made up of a thousand brains, each with their own little independent model of the world? How is it that our consciousness feels unified? This is called the binding problem. Hawkins’ theory proposes that columns work together through their connections to each other, some of which are long-range connections crisscrossing the entire neocortex.

Through a process similar to ‘voting’, the different simultaneous models established by different columns coding perceptions from different frames of reference arrive at a best ‘consensus’ estimate (an algorithmic inference) as to what the object is. that is perceived, based on prior learning. information (eg “the only thing that is consistent with what we are all perceiving right now, based on input from all of the different senses and all of our different frames of reference, is a cup of coffee.” ).

According to theory, this system of storing information in frames of reference and building models / representations of the world does not only apply to physical objects. It evolves at higher levels of complexity and abstraction towards concepts such as mathematics, politics, and art.

Understanding the central role of expectations in cognition is essential for understanding many quirks of human functioning.

The fact that expectations fundamentally shape perceptions and beliefs explains many of the brain’s most effective characteristics, as well as its many problematic bugs.

Seeing is believing. But our perceptions are sometimes wrong. This can lead us to form mistaken (and often uncompromising) beliefs. Likewise, believing is seeing i.e. our perceptions are shaped by top-down expectations / assumptions about what we see, hear, etc. When our previous expectations are wrong, they powerfully influence us to perceive things wrongly.

This is the basis of optical illusions. Magicians skillfully exploit our perceptual expectations to entertain and amaze us, as do mediums – some of whom are charlatans, others themselves true believers – victims of self-deception as much as they are responsible for deceiving. others.

We humans are highly impressionable which, for many, combines with an incomplete understanding of science and other complex topics (and an overestimation of this understanding), leading to beliefs in paranormal phenomena, experiences mystics and other strange beliefs (including conspiracies), confused as to what is real and what is not.

Wrong expectations play a role in many mental disorders. Anxiety and depression, the most common mental disorders, are characterized by, and some would say in part caused by, erroneous expectations or predictions about the future – an overestimation of threat or failure.1213

Expectations (combined and shaped by setting / context) also play a major role in the very different ways that individuals experience psychedelics.14

In addition, unconscious expectations and biases in the processing of bodily sensations play an important role in functional neurological disorders (conversion disorders),15 and in other psychosomatic disorders. And expectations certainly play a central role in the ubiquitous phenomenon of the placebo response.16

Find a purpose in a world without God.

Seligman et al. noted17 that the idea that events in nature can be motivated by a purpose has generally been considered unscientific – teleology has effectively been banished by science. Teleology18 is the idea that design and purpose are inherent in nature. Teleological views of nature predominated in prescientific religious worldviews.

Even today, such notions persist in the minds of many, many religious / spiritual minded people who believe that a spiritual worldview is compatible with science. A common example is the hypothesis that one can accept biological evolution and yet believe that it is destined or guided to an ultimate end. This hypothesis reveals a profound misunderstanding of evolution.

The two major competing theories of the twentieth century in psychology – psychoanalytic and behavioral – have moved away from teleology, emphasizing the past causality of present behavior and ruling out the possibility that one aspect of the future can cause the present.

But, like Seligman et al. concluded:

A conceptual error seems to have driven the lack of interest in the future. Something genuinely suspect – a metaphysical teleology of causality back in time, of the present through the future – has been mistaken for something not at all mysterious, namely the idea that, in a world with spirits, behavior can be guided by maps of possible futures. as well as traces of real pasts. In this way, “possibilities for the near future” can explain concrete behaviors in the here and now.19

Even though the universe has no inherent purpose, living organisms, which evolved spontaneously and without a guide on at least this planet and most likely in many other places in the universe, are purpose driven. Even the simplest organizations are, by definition, goal-oriented. A goalless universe has become infused with purpose, and for humans, steeped in meaning.20


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Preparation is key to AI success in 2022 https://e-jemed.org/preparation-is-key-to-ai-success-in-2022/ Fri, 31 Dec 2021 22:20:38 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/preparation-is-key-to-ai-success-in-2022/ Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other executives and senior executives on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit on January 12, 2022. Learn more Artificial intelligence differs from previous technological innovations in a crucial way: It is not just another platform to deploy, but a fundamental change in the way data is […]]]>

Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other executives and senior executives on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit on January 12, 2022. Learn more


Artificial intelligence differs from previous technological innovations in a crucial way: It is not just another platform to deploy, but a fundamental change in the way data is used. As such, it requires a substantial overhaul of the way the business collects, processes, and ultimately deploys data to meet business and operational goals.

So while it may be tempting to bring AI into legacy environments as quickly as possible, a wiser course of action would be to take a more careful and thoughtful approach. One thing to keep in mind is that AI is only as good as the data it can access, so strengthening both the infrastructure and the data management and readiness processes will play an important role in this. the success or failure of future AI-based initiatives.

Quality and quantity

According to Open Data Science, the need to foster large amounts of high-quality data is paramount for AI to deliver positive results. In order to deliver valuable insights and enable intelligent algorithms to continuously learn, AI needs to connect with the right data from the start. Organizations not only need to develop high-quality data sources before investing in AI, but they also need to reorient their entire culture so that everyone from data scientists to business knowledge workers understands. the data needs of AI and how the results can be influenced. by the type and quality of data entered into the system.

In this way, AI is not just a technological development, but a cultural change within the organization. By taking on many repetitive and repetitive tasks that tend to slow down processes, AI is changing the nature of human work to encompass more creative and strategic endeavors, thereby increasing the value of data, systems and people to the business model. global. To achieve this, however, AI must be deployed strategically, not haphazardly.

Before investing in AI, technology consultancy New Line Info recommends a thorough analysis of all processes to see where intelligence can have the most impact. Part of that review should include the myriad ways AI may require new methods of communicating data and the development of whole new frameworks for effective modeling and forecasting. The goal here is not to produce sporadic gains or one-off initiatives, but to drive a more holistic transformation of data operations and user experiences.

By its very nature, this transformation will be evolutionary and not revolutionary. There is no hard line between today’s business and a smart futuristic business, so every organization will have to make their way through the woods. On Inside Big Data recently, solutions architect Provectus Rinat Gareev identified seven stages for AI adoption, starting with figuring out exactly what you hope to do with it. AI can be adapted to almost any environment and optimized for any task, so having a way to measure its success from the start is crucial.

Chart the way forward for AI

Additionally, organizations should identify priority use cases and establish development roadmaps for each based on technical feasibility, ROI, and other factors. Only then should you move to a general basis for large-scale implementation and rapid organization-wide scaling, not to someday complete this transformation, but to perpetually create a more efficient and effective data ecosystem.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about AI, however, is that it isn’t a silver bullet for everything that plagues the business. As CIO Dive’s Roberto Torres recently pointed out, there is currently a gap between what is possible and what is expected of AI, and this disconnection is hampering implementation. Sometimes the limits lie in the AI ​​itself, as people come to believe that an intelligence based on algorithms is capable of harnessing far more than it can actually accomplish. But issues can also arise within the supporting infrastructure, in data preparation as mentioned above, or sometimes just applying a given AI model to the wrong process.

The point is, the company has only taken the very first steps on a long journey towards a new cultural paradigm, and there will undoubtedly be many missteps, wrong turns and about-faces along the way. So, while it’s important to get your hands dirty with AI sooner rather than later, you also need to take a break and figure out what you need to do to prepare for this change and what you hope to get out of it.

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High-speed impacts may have shaped the story of Venus – and explain why it is uninhabitable https://e-jemed.org/high-speed-impacts-may-have-shaped-the-story-of-venus-and-explain-why-it-is-uninhabitable/ Thu, 30 Dec 2021 02:56:50 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/high-speed-impacts-may-have-shaped-the-story-of-venus-and-explain-why-it-is-uninhabitable/ New modeling suggests rapid collisions could explain why Earth is habitable while Venus is not. Credit: Southwest Research Institute / Simone Marchi & Raluca Rufu New modeling suggests rapid collisions could explain why Earth is habitable when Venus is not. New modeling suggests that large, high-speed impacts early in Venus’ history could reconcile the differences […]]]>

New modeling suggests rapid collisions could explain why Earth is habitable while Venus is not. Credit: Southwest Research Institute / Simone Marchi & Raluca Rufu

New modeling suggests rapid collisions could explain why Earth is habitable when Venus is not.

New modeling suggests that large, high-speed impacts early in Venus’ history could reconcile the differences between Venus and its rocky sister planet Earth.

The two planets are similar in many ways. They have similar sizes, masses, and densities, and they are at relatively similar distances from the Sun. Yet some key differences, such as habitability, atmospheric composition, and plate tectonics, remain unexplained.

High-speed impacts could help explain why Earth is habitable while Venus is not, according to new research presented at AGU’s fall 2021 meeting.

“In the beginning, at the start of the solar system, the impactors would have been immense,” said Simone Marchi, a planetologist at the Southwest Research Institute, who presented the study on Thursday, December 16, 2021. “If an early impactor was greater than, say, a few hundred kilometers in diameter, it could have affected the deep interior of a planet, as well as its surface and atmosphere. These colossal collisions would fundamentally affect everything on a planet. “

An example of a smoothed particle hydrodynamic impact simulation of a large planetesimal hitting a Venus-like planet. The middle and right panels show Venus 1 hour and 11 hours after impact. The colors indicate the temperature. Credit: South West Research Institute / Simone Marchi and Raluca Rufu.

Recent work by another research group has shown that impactors during the late accretion phase of Venus, around 4.5 to 4.0 billion years ago, could have struck the planet at much higher speeds, on average, than those colliding with Earth. More than a quarter of collisions with Venus are believed to have occurred at speeds of at least 30 kilometers per second (approximately 67,100 miles per hour).

The new research shows that large, high-speed impacts on Venus result in twice as much mantle melting as impact-induced melting on Earth. High-speed impactors hitting Venus at a low angle would have caused the mantle to completely melt, new research shows.

According to Marchi, even if just one of these massive high-speed impactors hit Venus, it would have interrupted and essentially reset the evolution of the planet. Venus could have gone from a solid rocky body to a molten mess in moments, altering the mineralogy and physical structure of the planet’s interior and surface. Any pre-existing atmosphere would have been largely destroyed and replaced by volatile gases emerging from the melt. A single high-speed impact could have ultimately determined whether or not tectonic plates formed, which is an important aspect of livability.

While large impacts likely struck both Earth and Venus, the latter could have experienced substantial melting and disturbance due to the high speed of its impacts, placing the planets on divergent evolutionary paths. For both planets and the solar system as a whole, these early collisions had big consequences for their habitability – or lack thereof – today.

“These collisions shaped the solar system. It is not a stretch of the imagination to say that without these processes we would be living in a completely different environment, and maybe we wouldn’t be here, ”Marchi said. “We must ask ourselves to what extent the planet we live on today was shaped by these early violent events.”

Meeting: American Geophysical Union Fall 2021 Meeting


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Analogies with physics help gamify the quiz in the classroom https://e-jemed.org/analogies-with-physics-help-gamify-the-quiz-in-the-classroom/ Mon, 27 Dec 2021 18:56:30 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/analogies-with-physics-help-gamify-the-quiz-in-the-classroom/ image: An illustration of the challenge based gamification of flow and movement theory in mind where the synthesis of the two theories provides a better design of the classroom teaching quiz. see Following Credit: Punyawee Anunpattana of JAIST. Ishikawa, Japan – The concept of gamification is gaining more and more popularity: tourists traveling frequently abroad […]]]>

image: An illustration of the challenge based gamification of flow and movement theory in mind where the synthesis of the two theories provides a better design of the classroom teaching quiz.
see Following

Credit: Punyawee Anunpattana of JAIST.

Ishikawa, Japan – The concept of gamification is gaining more and more popularity: tourists traveling frequently abroad earn loyalty points with their preferred airline; customers who buy clothes from their favorite fashion store accumulate loyalty points. Both of these examples involve gamification: the inclusion of in-game features (points) to increase the chances of achieving the desired outcome (a future purchase). Although gamification has been widely used by marketers to attract customers, it finds limited applications in academia.

A team of researchers from the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) have now formulated gamification guidelines that can turn classroom quizzes into highly engaging and rewarding activities. According to Dr. Mohd Nor Akmal Khalid, Assistant Professor, JAIST, and lead author of the study, “The challenges of education have been continuously addressed by incorporating gamification, but a gap remains for game design principles that support user engagement.. “

The research team integrated “Kahoot! – a game-based learning platform used as a technological tool in educational institutions – in the design of their study. Drawing inspiration from physics, the researchers identified play equivalents for various measurable quantities such as speed, acceleration and time, an application of the “concept of movement in the mind.” For example, “thrill” has been defined as the game equivalent of gravitational acceleration and “puzzle solving rate” has been defined as the game equivalent of speed.

Next, the team enrolled 120 Thai elementary school students in the 7-12 age group and included both qualitative (data based on student interviews) and quantitative (data obtained from quizzes) methodologies. gamified multiple choice) in the experimental study. Multiple gamification strategies have been adopted. For example, scores were given not only for the correct answers, but also for the speed with which each participant arrived at the correct answer. The difficulty level was also changed incrementally or randomly during a subsection of the study. Ten participants were randomly selected and invited to share personalized comments (eg, overall experience, views and opinions) on the study being conducted.

The results of their study, published in the journal Heliyon, were quite promising. For example, adding a score-based incentive to quickly arrive at the correct answer led to relatively higher learning gains. In other words, the pressure of time resulted in higher engagement and motivation. When the level of difficulty increased, the students preferred to either stay in their comfort zone or increase their effort.

Notably, when the difficulty level was random, it caused an increase in uncertainty and therefore increased the thrill factor, or the game equivalent of “gravitational acceleration”. According to the researchers, participants who attempted to tackle difficult questions also amplified their learning skills in the process, in accordance with flow theory. The team also noticed an interesting trend: When the challenge level exceeded a certain threshold, students felt relatively disengaged.

When asked, most of the students said they were more involved in the fun quizzes and felt that they were challenged. In this context, Dr. Khalid presumes, “The best conditioning for learning occurs when well-designed game elements and mechanics are incorporated. The game elements of the current study potentially encouraged students to modify their behavior based on the difficulty of the quiz.. “

From this study, we conclude that the gamification effort empirically increases engagement and emergence behavior and our results also show that gamified quizzes improve classroom activity.», Observes Punyawee Anunpattana, currently a doctoral student. student at JAIST and the first author of the study.

The authors recommend more studies of this type for the implementation of gamified classroom quizzes using other designs and elements of gamification to further refine the learning process of students. After all, learning, like all human activities, has the most impact when it’s fun!

###

Reference

Original article title:

Capture the potential impact of challenge-based gamification on

Gamified quiz in class

Newspaper:

Heliyon

DO I:

10.1016 / j.heliyon.2021.e08637

About Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

Founded in 1990 in Ishikawa Prefecture, the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) was the first independent national graduate school in Japan. Today, after 30 years of steady progress, JAIST has grown into one of the top universities in Japan. JAIST has several satellite campuses and strives to develop capable leaders with a cutting-edge education system where diversity is key; around 40% of its alumni are international students. The university has a unique style of higher education based on a carefully designed curriculum to ensure that its students have a solid foundation on which to conduct cutting-edge research. JAIST also works in close collaboration with local and foreign communities by promoting collaborative industry-university research.

About Dr Mohd Nor Akmal Khalid from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

Dr Mohd Nor Akmal Khalid has been working as an associate professor at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology since 2018. He obtained his doctorate. from Universiti Sains Malaysia, where he mainly worked on evolutionary computing. Dr Khalid has 63 journal and conference publications to his credit. His research interests include control and systems engineering, entertainment and game computing, optimization, manufacturing systems, crowd evacuation modeling, evolutionary computing, research algorithms. , discrete modeling and simulation, systems analysis and design, and artificial intelligence. He received the award for best article at three international conferences.

Funding Information

This research was funded by a generous grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, as part of the Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research (grant number 19K22893).


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Earth’s First Giant – Eurasia Review https://e-jemed.org/earths-first-giant-eurasia-review/ Sun, 26 Dec 2021 23:20:06 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/earths-first-giant-eurasia-review/ A two-meter-long skull, a total body length of 17 meters, a weight of 45 tons, fins that paint the sea – what looks like a sperm whale is actually a reptile and lived in the oceans about 250 million years ago. Today, an international team of researchers led by the Universities of Bonn and Mainz, […]]]>

A two-meter-long skull, a total body length of 17 meters, a weight of 45 tons, fins that paint the sea – what looks like a sperm whale is actually a reptile and lived in the oceans about 250 million years ago. Today, an international team of researchers led by the Universities of Bonn and Mainz, as well as Claremont Colleges and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, report on this first giant animal that ever evolved. Researchers describe a new species of ichthyosaur, also known as a “saurian-fish” – the towering skeleton, larger than that of Tyrannosaurus Rex was excavated in the US state of Nevada.

The study now proves that ichthyosaurs evolved to their impressive size in just three million years, much faster than the evolution of gigantism in whales today. With the help of modeling, the team discovered that ichthyosaurs lived in environments that were excellent for supporting bodies of such large size. The results thus show how marine ecosystems can form and react to abiotic changes such as climate, atmosphere or water conditions. The study was published in the journal Science.

While dinosaurs ruled the earth, ichthyosaurs and other aquatic reptiles ruled the waves. The evolving fins and hydrodynamic shapes of the body seen in both fish and whales, ichthyosaurs swam the ancient oceans for most of the dinosaur era. Ichthyosaurs derive from a still unknown group of terrestrial reptiles and breathe air themselves. science long before dinosaurs, and they have captured the popular imagination ever since, ”says lead author Dr Martin Sander, professor of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Bonn and research associate at the Dinosaur Institute of Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. County (NHM).

He and his colleagues have worked steadily for 30 years on a rock unit called the Fossil Hill Member in the remote Augusta Mountains of Nevada, USA, as the mountains connect our present to the ancient oceans, opening a window to the Triassic of 247. , 2 to 237 million years ago. It was also in the Fossil Hill Member, in 1998, that the first remains of the new giant animal now described were unearthed, initially in the form of part of the vertebrae.

“The significance of the find was not immediately apparent,” Sander notes, “as only a few vertebrae were exposed on the side of the canyon. However, the anatomy of the vertebrae suggested that the animal’s front end could still be hidden in the rocks. One day in September 2011, the crew tested this suggestion by excavation, finding the skull, forelimbs and chest area well preserved. The giant that appeared was given the name Cymbospondylus youngorum, the second part of the name referring to a local brewery.

Anatomical description of the animal

So how do you deal with this awesome discovery from a long time ago? The first task was to describe the anatomy of the skeleton using traditional paleontological methods and to determine when the animal had lived. To find out how the saurian fish evolved to such a size, the researchers compiled a lot of data from the literature and used it as the basis for computational and modeling analyzes. The result was that the new ichthyosaur lived in the Middle Triassic (247-237 million years ago) and was over 17 meters long, as big as a sperm whale. The find represents the largest animal ever discovered from that time, whether on land or in the sea.

“As far as we know, it was even the first giant creature to ever inhabit Earth,” Sander says. More detailed analyzes revealed that Cymbospondylus youngorum lived 246 million years ago – about three million years after the first ichthyosaurs changed from terrestrial reptiles to aquatic reptiles. Even though three million years seems long by our standards, “It’s an unbelievably short time to grow that big,” Sander points out.

Computer models for ecosystem reconstruction

So the new findings also raised a new question: How could a species among ichthyosaurs evolve so quickly into such a giant? To find out, the team used modeling to recreate the ecosystem’s energy flow at the time. “A fairly unique aspect of this project is the integrative nature of our approach,” says lead author Dr. Lars Schmitz, associate professor of biology at Scripps College and research associate at the Dinosaur Institute.

“After having described in detail the anatomy of the giant skull and thus understood how this animal relates to other ichthyosaurs, we wanted to understand the significance of the new discovery in the context of the large-scale evolutionary model of body size. ichthyosaurs and whales. To do this, we needed to understand how the fossil ecosystem preserved in the Fossil Hill member might have functioned. “

Using sophisticated computer models, the authors examined the likely energy that flowed through the food web of the fossil hill fauna, recreating the ancient environment using data, concluding that marine food webs must have been able to endure an even more colossal meat-eating ichthyosaur.

“Understanding the functioning of this food web from ecological modeling was very exciting,” says Dr Eva Maria Griebeler, professor of evolutionary ecology at the University of Mainz. She and her team led the ecological modeling. His conclusion: “Due to their large size and the resulting energy requirements, the densities of the larger ichthyosaurs of the fossil hill fauna, including Cymbospondylus youngorum must have been significantly lower than what our field census suggested.

Modern whales evolved much more slowly

The researchers found that while cetaceans and ichthyosaurs evolved very large, their respective evolutionary trajectories to gigantism were different. According to Schmitz, “Evolutionary models show very clearly that ichthyosaurs experienced an initial boom in size, becoming giants early in their evolutionary history, while whales took much longer to reach the outer limits of the enormous . ”

This is because ichthyosaurs seem to have benefited from an abundance of eel-like conodonts as well as a variety of ammonites, the shell relatives of modern cuttlefish and octopus, especially the nautilus. The now extinct ammonites filled the ecological void after the mass extinction of the late Permian and found excellent living conditions. “We speculate that ichthyosaurs may also have evolved so rapidly because they were the first larger creatures to inhabit the world’s oceans and were exposed to less competition,” says Martin Sander.

On the other hand, certain types of plankton were an important driving force for the evolution of the size of whales. In addition, the different species of whales and dolphins have evolved differently, associated with certain food specializations. Baleen whales, for example, have lost their teeth, while giant squid-hunting sperm whales have retained them. One thing is for sure: Although their evolutionary pathways have been different, whales and ichthyosaurs have relied on exploiting niches in the food chain to make it really big.

“This discovery and the results of our study highlight how different groups of marine tetrapods developed body sizes of epic proportions under somewhat similar circumstances, but at surprisingly different rates,” said NHM’s associate curator of mammology. (Marine mammals), Dr Jorge Velez. Juarbé. “Another interesting aspect is that Cymbospondylus youngorum and the rest of the fossil hill fauna bear witness to the resilience of life in the oceans after the worst mass extinction in Earth history. You can tell this is the first big splash for tetrapods in the oceans. “

For a beer – How the Cymbospondylus youngorum to his name

The new name of the species, Cymbospondylus youngorum, honors a happy coincidence, the sponsorship of fieldwork by the Great Basin Brewery of Reno, owned and operated by Tom and Bonda Young, the inventors of the famous Icky beer which features an ichthyosaur on its label.


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New ichthyosaur species discovered was dinosaur ocean monster https://e-jemed.org/new-ichthyosaur-species-discovered-was-dinosaur-ocean-monster/ Fri, 24 Dec 2021 20:33:16 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/new-ichthyosaur-species-discovered-was-dinosaur-ocean-monster/ The skull of the first giant creature to ever live on Earth, the ichthyosaur “Cymbospondylus youngorum” currently on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM). Credit: Photo by Natalja Kent, courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) The two-meter skull of a newly discovered species of giant […]]]>

The skull of the first giant creature to ever live on Earth, the ichthyosaur “Cymbospondylus youngorum” currently on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM). Credit: Photo by Natalja Kent, courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM)

The two-meter skull of a newly discovered species of giant ichthyosaur, the oldest known, sheds new light on the rapid growth of marine reptiles into behemoths of the dinosaur oceans, and helps us better understand the journey of modern cetaceans ( whales and dolphins) to become the largest animal to ever live on Earth.

While dinosaurs ruled the earth, ichthyosaurs and other aquatic reptiles (which were definitely not dinosaurs) ruled the waves, reaching equally gargantuan sizes and species diversity. The evolving fins and hydrodynamic shapes of the body seen in both fish and whales, ichthyosaurs swam the ancient oceans for most of the dinosaur era.

C. youngorum Ichthyosaurus Reconstruction

A recreation of the life of “C. youngorum” stalking the oceans of Upper Triassic Nevada 246 million years ago. Credit: Illustration by Stephanie Abramowicz, courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM)

“Ichthyosaurs derive from a still unknown group of terrestrial reptiles and themselves breathe air,” says lead author Dr Martin Sander, paleontologist at the University of Bonn and research associate at the Institute dinosaurs from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum (NHM). “Since the first discoveries of skeletons in southern England and Germany over 250 years ago, these” saurian fish “have been among the first large fossil reptiles known to science, long before dinosaurs , and they have captured the popular imagination ever since. “

Unearthed from a rock unit called the Fossil Hill Member in the Augusta Mountains of Nevada, the well-preserved skull, along with part of the spine, shoulder and forefin, date back to the middle Trias (247.2-237 million years ago), representing the first case of ichthyosaur reaching epic proportions. As big as a large sperm whale over 17 meters (55.78 feet) long, the new name Cymbospondylus youngorum is the largest animal ever discovered at that time, on land or in the sea. In fact, it was the first giant creature to have ever inhabited Earth to our knowledge.

Augusta Mountains

Due to their remoteness, fossils have only recently been discovered in the Augusta Mountains. An international team of scientists led by Dr Sander began collecting on public land 30 years ago, with fossil finds being deposited in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM), since 2008. Credit: With the kind permission of Lars Schmitz

The significance of the find was not immediately apparent, “notes Dr Sander,” as only a few vertebrae were exposed on the side of the canyon. However, the anatomy of the vertebrae suggested that the animal’s front end may still be hidden in the rocks. Then, on a cold day in September 2011, the crew needed a warm-up and tested this suggestion by excavation, finding the skull, forelimbs and chest area.

The new name of the species, VS. youngorum, honors a happy coincidence, the sponsorship of fieldwork by the Great Basin Brewery of Reno, owned and operated by Tom and Bonda Young, the inventors of the famous Icky beer which features an ichthyosaur on its label.

Ichthyosaur scale

Viji Shook, volunteer from the Dinosaur Institute of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM), lying next to the skull of “Cymbospondylus youngorum” for the scale, while preparing the specimen. Credit: Photo by Martin Sander, courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM)

In other Nevada mountain ranges, paleontologists have been collecting fossils from limestone, shale, and siltstone from the Fossil Hill member since 1902, opening a window to the Triassic. The mountains connect our present to the ancient oceans and have produced many species of ammonites, the shell ancestors of modern cephalopods like cuttlefish and octopus, as well as marine reptiles. All of these animal specimens are collectively known as the Fossil Hill Fauna, representing many C. youngorumits prey and its competitors.

C. youngorum roamed the oceans about 246 million years ago, or only about three million years after the first ichthyosaurs wet their fins, a surprisingly short time to grow this big. The elongated muzzle and conical teeth suggest that C. youngorum preyed on squid and fish, but its size meant it could have hunted smaller, juvenile marine reptiles as well.

Ichthyosaur ammonites

An ichthyosaur fossil surrounded by shells of ammonites, the food source that likely fueled their enormous growth. Credit: Photo by Georg Oleschinski, courtesy University of Bonn, Germany

The giant predator probably had fierce competition. Using sophisticated computer modeling, the authors examined the likely energy flowing through the food web of fossil hill fauna, recreating the ancient environment using data, finding that marine food webs were able to support a few. Colossal meat-eating ichthyosaurs. Ichthyosaurs of different sizes and survival strategies have proliferated, comparable to modern cetaceans, from relatively small dolphins to huge baleen filtering whales and giant squid-hunting sperm whales.

Co-author and ecological modeler Dr Eva Maria Griebeler of the University of Mainz in Germany notes, “Due to their large size and the resulting energy demands, the densities of the larger ichthyosaurs in the fossil hill fauna , including C. youngourum must have been significantly lower than what our field census suggested. The ecological functioning of this food web from ecological modeling was very exciting as modern highly productive primary producers were absent in Mesozoic food webs and have been an important factor in changing the size of whales. “

Ichthyosaur summary

A figure from the text comparing “C. youngorum” to a modern sperm whale as well as the rates of change in body size over time between ichthyosaurs and cetaceans. Lines facing up indicate larger body sizes while those facing down indicate smaller sizes. The time is displayed from the point of origin of the group until its extinction (for ichthyosaurs) or present (for whales). Credit: Illustration by Stephanie Abramowicz, courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM)

Whales and ichthyosaurs share more than a size range. They have similar body plans, and both first appeared after mass extinctions. These similarities make them scientifically valuable for a comparative study. The authors combined computer modeling and traditional paleontology to study how these marine animals reached record sizes independently.

“A fairly unique aspect of this project is the integrative nature of our approach. We first had to describe in detail the anatomy of the giant skull and determine how this animal relates to other ichthyosaurs, ”says lead author Dr. Lars Schmitz, associate professor of biology at Scripps College and associate of research at the Dinosaur Institute. “We didn’t stop there, as we wanted to understand the significance of the new discovery in the context of the large-scale evolutionary model of ichthyosaur and whale body size, and how the fossil fauna ecosystem of the Fossil hills may have functioned Evolutionary and ecological analyzes required a substantial amount of computation, ultimately leading to a confluence of modeling with traditional paleontology.

They found that while cetaceans and ichthyosaurs evolved to very large body sizes, their respective evolutionary trajectories to gigantism were different. Ichthyosaurs experienced an initial boom in size, becoming giants early in their evolutionary history, while whales took much longer to reach the outer limits of the immense. They found a link between large size and raptor hunting – think of a sperm whale diving to hunt giant squid – and a link between large size and loss of teeth – think giant filtering whales which are the largest animals never met. live on Earth.

The ichthyosaurs’ initial foray into gigantism was likely due to the boom in jawless, eel-like ammonites and conodonts filling the ecological void after the Late Permian mass extinction. Although their evolutionary pathways are different, whales and ichthyosaurs have relied on exploiting niches in the food chain to make it really big.

“As researchers, we often talk about similarities between ichthyosaurs and cetaceans, but we rarely delve into the details. This is one of the reasons this study stands out, as it allowed us to explore and gain additional insight into changes in body size within these groups of marine animals. tetrapodsSays NHM’s Associate Curator of Mammalogy (Marine Mammals), Dr Jorge Velez-Juarbe. “Another interesting aspect is that Cymbospondylus youngorum and the rest of the fossil hill fauna bear witness to the resilience of life in the oceans after the worst mass extinction in Earth history. You can tell this is the first big splash for tetrapods in the oceans. “

Reference: “Early giant reveals faster evolution of large body size in ichthyosaurs than in cetaceans” by P. Martin Sander, Eva Maria Griebeler, Nicole Klein, Jorge Velez Juarbe, Tanja Wintrich, Liam J. Revell and Lars Schmitz, December 24, 2021, Science.
DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf5787

C. youngorum will be permanently installed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where it is currently on display. Visit NHM.ORG/ichthyosaur to learn more.


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Research Engineer, Optimal Energy Management of Multi-Microgrids job with NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE https://e-jemed.org/research-engineer-optimal-energy-management-of-multi-microgrids-job-with-national-university-of-singapore/ Wed, 22 Dec 2021 21:02:26 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/research-engineer-optimal-energy-management-of-multi-microgrids-job-with-national-university-of-singapore/ job description We are looking for a research engineer to work on optimizing the energy efficiency of several networked micro-grids. The position mainly covers the following tasks. Take responsibility for the concept, design, analysis, modeling and simulation of the large-scale distributed power grid system. Be involved in the development of algorithms to improve the performance […]]]>

job description

We are looking for a research engineer to work on optimizing the energy efficiency of several networked micro-grids.

The position mainly covers the following tasks.

  • Take responsibility for the concept, design, analysis, modeling and simulation of the large-scale distributed power grid system.
  • Be involved in the development of algorithms to improve the performance of the large-scale distributed power grid system, in particular with the distributed optimization algorithms and reinforcement learning architecture.
  • Work closely with a micro-grid simulation team to verify the proposed algorithm and help test the simulation software as appropriate.
  • Developed the UI interface of the optimization software to better demonstrate its function to the industry.
  • Ensure that the design of the system conforms to existing certification standards.
  • Provide support to a team of engineers in solving multidisciplinary problems, including preparing documentation and presenting analysis / test results to peers and clients.
  • Conduct high quality research, come up with research ideas and be an active member of the department.

Qualifications

The candidate should have interdisciplinary experience in related fields such as distributed optimization, control theory, AI-based data-driven optimization like reinforcement learning and fundamental knowledge in power systems.

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering and / or a related discipline
  • Evidence of published research with a strong publication record in high quality journals.
  • Demonstrated experience in technical programming languages ​​such as MATLAB, Python or Julia.
  • Extensive knowledge and hands-on programming experience with deep learning frameworks and packages eg PyTorch, TensorFlow or Flux.
  • In-depth knowledge of distributed optimization architectures such as ADMM and in-depth knowledge of evolutionary optimization algorithms such as genetic algorithm.
  • Knowledge of distributed reinforcement learning algorithms such as MADDPG is highly preferred.
  • Basic knowledge of control theory and electrical systems.
  • Has technical proposal writing and presentation skills.
  • Able to plan and organize well and meet deadlines.
  • Able to do research in a multidisciplinary team.
  • Open to CDD

More information

Site: Kent Ridge Campus
Organization: Engineering
department : Electrical and computer engineering
Eligible for employee recommendation: No
Job Application ID: 10793


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The science behind the rapid spread of Omicron https://e-jemed.org/the-science-behind-the-rapid-spread-of-omicron/ Sat, 18 Dec 2021 10:30:00 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/the-science-behind-the-rapid-spread-of-omicron/ As Omicron has quickly become the dominant variant of the coronavirus in South Africa and the UK, scientists are starting to piece together what gives it its evolutionary advantage. Researchers are further refining and expanding their findings, but Omicron’s increased transmissibility appears to be a combination of several properties: it appears to be able to […]]]>

As Omicron has quickly become the dominant variant of the coronavirus in South Africa and the UK, scientists are starting to piece together what gives it its evolutionary advantage.

Researchers are further refining and expanding their findings, but Omicron’s increased transmissibility appears to be a combination of several properties: it appears to be able to bind more easily to and break down in human respiratory cells; it seems to replicate faster once in our body; and it can substantially evade the immunity acquired from a previous infection or vaccination.

These advantages mean that Omicron is spreading across the world at a tremendous rate. Since scientists in South Africa first reported its presence last month, it has been detected in 77 countries and is likely present in most others, according to the World Health Organization.

Cases of Omicron have been detected in the United States, across Europe and Africa, and in China, which maintains strict border controls and a strict regime to handle even tiny epidemics.

“Omicron is spreading at a rate that we haven’t seen with any previous variant,” WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said.

In New York and New Jersey, Omicron is estimated to account for around 13% of Covid-19 cases in the week to December 11.


Photo:

Ed Jones / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

There are signs that the variant is associated with less severe disease than earlier versions of the virus. Scientists warn, however, that the severity can vary from place to place depending on factors such as immunity levels and characteristics of the population, and that while it is not as dangerous, its ease of transmission means that Omicron could still cause waves of illness and death.

There are more and more examples of Omicron’s surprising transmissibility. After a Christmas party on November 26 for a renewable energy company at an Oslo restaurant, 80 of 111 guests tested positive for the coronavirus, with genetic sampling suggesting all were likely Omicron, according to the Norwegian Institute of public health.

In Hong Kong, a 36-year-old man was identified as one of the first known cases of Omicron on November 13 at one of the city’s quarantine hotels. Five days later, a 62-year-old man remaining in the room across the hall also tested positive for the variant, although he had no contact with his neighbor. The researchers concluded that the variant must have crossed the hallway.

In the UK, Omicron replaced Delta as the dominant variant of the coronavirus in England and Scotland in less than a month and it is only a few days behind Denmark, according to Danish health authorities. It is already the dominant variant in Ontario, Canada, accounting for 51% of new cases, according to a panel of scientists advising the provincial government. British health data suggests Omicron cases are doubling across much of the country in less than two days.

In the United States, the Delta variant accounted for about 96% of cases across the country in the week to December 11, while the Omicron variant accounted for about 3%. Some regions have higher figures: in New York and New Jersey, Omicron is estimated to account for around 13% of Covid-19 cases.

Behind Omicron’s rapid spread is a host of mutations that give it an advantage over older variants.

A number of studies indicate that Omicron is more resistant to current vaccines than previous variants of Covid, although boosters seem to be helping. WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez gets exclusive insight inside a lab testing how antibodies interact with Omicron. Photographic illustration: Tom Grillo

Of the approximately 50 mutations in Omicron, at least 30 are on the spike protein, the structure that helps the virus infiltrate cells and is also the primary target of vaccines.

Laboratory tests in South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the ability of antibodies to prevent the variant from entering cells is lower than with other strains, which which gives Omicron a much better chance of infecting people who have already been vaccinated or infected. This means that it can spread quickly even in highly vaccinated populations.

Modeling released Friday by researchers at Imperial College London estimates the risk of re-infection with Omicron to be 5.4 times greater than with Delta, suggesting limited protection against a previous infection. The study, which was not peer-reviewed, also reported a reduction in vaccine efficacy against Omicron infection after two doses, compared to Delta.

Almost 70% of the UK population is fully vaccinated, but Omicron has propelled a record number of cases, prompting the government to ask people to work from home where possible, to limit mixing with other households in the days leading up to Christmas and receiving booster shots to build additional immunity. Denmark and Norway have also tightened public health restrictions to fend off a wave of cases.

A Covid-19 research lab in South Africa, where scientists first reported the presence of Omicron.


Photo:

Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg News

“If the virus is able to partially evade the immune response induced either by a previous infection with another variant or by vaccines, then it can become infected and spread more efficiently.” This is what we see with the Omicron variant, ”said Lawrence Young, virologist and professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick.

A growing body of evidence suggests that Omicron’s mutations may also give it inherent transmission benefits in addition to its ability to evade the body’s immune responses.

A study, not yet peer-reviewed, conducted by researchers in Hong Kong found that Omicron infects and multiplies 70 times faster than the Delta variant in the airways, which could explain why the new variant appears to be transmitted. faster.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

What impact does the Omicron variant have on your life? Join the conversation below.

Things were different in the lungs, however, researchers found that Omicron replicates less efficiently in the lungs than the original version of the virus, which may help explain why Omicron has been linked to less severe disease in many. people it infects.

Another study, also not yet peer-reviewed, appears to corroborate the findings of the Hong Kong team: researchers showed that an Omicron pseudovirus – a synthetic version of the Omicron variant – was better at infecting cells than a Delta pseudovirus and the original version of the virus.

If the virus multiplies faster, “it can start spreading to others sooner,” said Julian Tang, clinical virologist and professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Leicester.

British public health officials say Omicron’s benefits mean the interval between one newly infected person becoming infectious to others appears to be shorter with Omicron, perhaps three days compared to six or more with Delta. They also estimated that the risk of someone passing the virus to another member of their household is three times higher with Omicron than with Delta.

One metric epidemiologists use to measure a virus’s transmissibility is its effective reproduction number, or R, the average number of people an infected person will infect. This will vary from place to place depending on the levels of immunity and the public health policies in place to control transmission. The higher the value, the more transmissible the virus is.

Nearly 70% of Britain’s population is fully vaccinated, but Omicron has propelled a record number of cases, prompting the government to ask people to get vaccinated.


Photo:

tolga akmen / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Susan Hopkins, who heads the UK Health Security Agency, told lawmakers in the UK Parliament on Thursday that her agency estimates Omicron’s current R-value to be between 3 and 5. The overall R-value of the UK outbreak is about 1 to 1.2, she says.

This high level of transmission is problematic, say scientists, even though Omicron is found to cause milder disease, especially in people who have been vaccinated or with a degree of immunity from a previous infection. Booster shots have been shown to increase protection against infection. Scientists are generally optimistic that vaccines will help ward off serious illness and death with Omicron.

An article awaiting peer review by disease modellers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described several possible scenarios for the coming months in England as Omicron continues to spread, which varied in the how far the variant could evade immunity and how effective the boosters were. slowing down of infection. All of the scenarios indicate many more cases, hospital admissions and deaths.

“We better be careful not to predict it’s less serious, so it’s going to be better,” said Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, in an interview with The Journal podcast of the Wall Street Journal. , published Thursday.

“Because if you infect a lot more people, the lack of severity could be overcome by having a lot more people infected. “

Write to Jason Douglas at jason.douglas@wsj.com and Sarah Toy at sarah.toy@wsj.com

Copyright © 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


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We know enough about Omicron to know we’re in trouble https://e-jemed.org/we-know-enough-about-omicron-to-know-were-in-trouble/ Fri, 17 Dec 2021 16:01:38 +0000 https://e-jemed.org/we-know-enough-about-omicron-to-know-were-in-trouble/ Updated at 12:00 p.m. ET on December 17, 2021 Much has changed for Omicron in just two weeks. By early December, the variant was barely present in Europe, appearing in 1 to 2% of COVID cases. Now it’s accountant 72 percent of new cases in London, where Everybody seems to know someone with COVID. In […]]]>

Updated at 12:00 p.m. ET on December 17, 2021

Much has changed for Omicron in just two weeks. By early December, the variant was barely present in Europe, appearing in 1 to 2% of COVID cases. Now it’s accountant 72 percent of new cases in London, where Everybody seems to know someone with COVID. In the UK and Denmark, the number of Omicron cases is doubling every other day. The same exponential growth is happening – or will happen – also in the United States, just in time for the holidays.

What seemed likely at the start of the month is now quite certain: a big Omicron wave is coming, in addition to an already substantial Delta wave. There are still unknowns about the variant, such as the exact severity of these cases. But we know enough about Omicron to understand that it’s time to act. “If we wait until our hospitals look like they’re starting to fill up,” says Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, “then it will be too late. “

The most intriguing unknown – the one we’d like to place our hopes in – is whether Omicron could be softer than Delta. But a milder, more transmissible virus can easily make so many people sick that it ends up increasing hospitalizations and deaths overall. Here are some simple calculations to explain the danger: Suppose we have two viruses, one twice as transmissible as the other. (For the record, Omicron is currently three to five times more transmissible than Delta in the UK, although that number is likely to decline over time.) And suppose it takes five days between a person’s infection and infection of others. After 30 days, the most transmissible virus now causes 26, Where 64, times more new cases than the least transmissible. Exponentials are one hell of a growth hack. If we’re betting on the idea that Omicron is milder for wintering, then we better hope that it really is, really Benign.

The vaccines will be reduce the proportion of hospitalizations a lot in these extra cases, especially because Omicron infects a lot of people who have been vaccinated. But it’s a long descent on this exponential curve. Moreover, when so many cases accumulate at the same time, their effects begin to spread throughout the lives of those who are not sick. If Omicron passes through a workplace, it may present a temporary inconvenience. But if that workplace is a school, then the school will have to close, disrupting the lives of every child and parent. If that workplace is a hospital, then doctors and nurses cannot work. This has been a problem in South Africa, where Omicron is already dominant and nearly 20 percent of the healthcare workforce has COVID. Even though most of these cases are mild, a large number of people falling ill at the same time will change the daily reality.

However, not all cases will be mild, and even a small rate of hospitalization in addition to a huge number of cases will be a large number. With Delta, “we were already heading for a bad winter,” says Roby Bhattacharyya, infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Now, as my colleague Ed Yong reports, Omicron could push a collapsing healthcare system even further into disaster. Hospitals are already struggling with the flu and other winter viruses. They are already canceling elective courses surgeries. After another year of pandemic exhaustion, they just might not have the staff to create the surge capacity that barely got us through last winter. Overcrowded hospitals mean care gets worse for everyone with COVID, but also for everyone with a broken hip or stroke or an urgently needed baby. Omicron’s transmissibility is a danger because high levels of COVID cases are accompanied by second-order consequences that transcend the risk to individuals.

If there is no change in behavior or policy, this year’s winter wave would peak at about double last winter’s hospitalizations at its worst, and 20 percent more deaths, according to the projections. more pessimistic from Meyers and his team at the University of Texas at Austin. The team developed a total of 18 scenarios, based on different assumptions regarding the inherent transmissibility and immune escape of the variant, booster uptake, and vaccine efficacy against hospitalization and death. The most optimistic projection projects a similar number of cases to last winter, but hospitalizations and deaths at about half of what they were then, assuming the vaccines maintain their very high protection. against serious illnesses.

Vaccine protection against serious illness should last longer than it is against infection, but it can still take a hit. Very preliminary data from South Africa’s largest health insurer suggests that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 70 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations from Omicron infections, up from 93 percent previously. If true, it is a “huge decrease,” Meyers says, and one that fits his team’s darker projections assumptions, but not the darkest. When they modeled scenarios in which the effectiveness of the vaccine against hospitalization decreased by that much, they found a difference of tens of thousands of deaths.

The available evidence on Omicron’s inherent seriousness is likely to be biased in such a way as to make it more promising. First of all, hospitalizations lag behind infections. “Omicron has been around for three weeks,” Bhattacharyya says. “But so many of these infections have happened in the last week of these three because of exponential growth.” Second, the first people infected can fake young people and are therefore more likely to have mild cases, regardless of the variant. And third, some of the softness attributed to the virus may instead be the result of existing immunity. In South Africa, where doctors are reporting relatively low hospitalizations compared to previous waves, many cases are likely re-infections, given that the majority of people there have already had COVID. Data from the South African health insurer suggests that Omicron may have a 29% lower risk of hospitalization than the original virus, when adjusted for risk factors such as age, gender, vaccination status, and a documented previous infection, but many previous infections may be undocumented, making the risk reduction greater than it actually is. (A recent analysis of the first UK cases revealed “at most, limited changes in severity from Delta.”) Meanwhile, Omicron “is going to spread so quickly that waiting for definitive answers will be to wait. too long, “Bhattacharyya said. “If this is anything but the best of times, and we wait until we find out, it will be too late to mitigate the worst. “

Another unknown is where Omicron’s tendency to spread faster than Delta comes from. Is it inherently more transmissible, better at evading immunity, or both? And how many of one or the other? “We don’t understand the new equilibrium,” says Lone Simonsen, epidemiologist at Roskilde University, Denmark. In the long run, if Omicron’s benefit is largely based on immune evasion, then Delta and Omicron could co-circulate like multiple influenza lineages, says Katia Koelle, an evolutionary virologist at Emory University. Getting sick with one variant may not protect you much from the other. But if Omicron has advantages in both immune evasion and transmission, then Delta could eventually disappear.

Either way, in the short term we will have a massive Omicron case count in addition to a massive Delta case count. Together, they will infect large numbers of people, vaccinated or not, and put a strain on an already overburdened health system. Boosters, social distancing, rapid tests, and masks can slow this impact. We’ll know more about Omicron soon, but we already know enough.


This article originally distorted the University of Texas’ most pessimistic projection for COVID-19 deaths this winter. According to updated information from the university’s modeling team, the projection shows only 20% more deaths than last winter’s worst, not twice as many.



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