Tag Archives: San Francisco

Ancient Virus Revived From 700-Year-Old Caribou Feces

Sounds like something stupid to start a zombie apocalypse movie…

October 28, 2014 | by Janet Fang

photo credit: An ice core containing ancient caribou feces. Caribou DNA, digested plants, and viruses were frozen within layers of ice for thousands of years, enabling researchers to detect the genomes of ancient viruses / Brian Moorman

Researchers have reconstituted a viral genome from centuries-old caribou feces frozen in the subarctic, and they’ve used the ancient viruses to infect lab plants. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, offer a rare glimpse of viral evolution.

Ancient viruses provide snapshots of past diversity and a way to trace viral evolution, but their concentrations are low and intact samples are rarely successfully isolated from the environment. Cryogenically preserved samples in nature may be an untapped repository of preserved ancient viral genetic material.

A team led by Eric Delwart from the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed viral genetic material contained in an ice core obtained by drilling through layers of accumulated caribou feces up to 4,000 years old in a permanent ice patch in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Caribou gather on ice patches to escape pesky flying insects and heat in the summertime. After eating nearby veggies, they deposit feces that contain their DNA, partially digested plant material, as well as viruses—which can remain frozen for millennia. Here’s an aerial photograph of one such caribou congregation:

From a 700-year-old layer of the ice core, the team isolated the complete small circular genome of a DNA virus that was distantly related to plant and fungi-infecting viruses today. They named it aCFV, for ancient caribou feces associated virus. They also isolated a partial viral RNA genome that was related to an insect-infecting virus. They call this one Ancient Northwest Territories cripavirus, or aNCV.

These never-before-seen viruses either originated in plants eaten by caribou or insects attracted to fecal matter, and they were preserved at constant freezing temperatures within protective viral capsids.

The team used a “reverse genetic approach” to reconstitute the genome of the DNA virus. Then, to confirm that the virus infects plants, they inoculated the tobacco relative Nicotiana benthamianawith the ancient viral DNA. The inoculated plants displayed evidence of infection: The DNA virus replicated and systemically spread in the inoculated leaves (orange arrow) as well as their newly emerging leaves (white arrow).

As far as Delwart can tell, these viruses aren’t dangerous, NPR reports. But as the climate warms and more ice melts, more caribou poo infected with ancient viruses might be making its way into the modern ecosystem.

Images: Brian Moorman (top), Glen MacKay (middle), Li-Fang Chen (bottom)




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Young Blood Injected Into Old Reverses Aging

Young blood reverses aging in mice


This combination of images shows 3-D reconstructions of brain blood vessels in, from left, a young mouse, an old mouse, and an old mouse who was exposed to the blood of a young mouse. (AP Photo/Lida Katsimpardi)

If Mickey Mouse is feeling his age at 86, scientists may have found just the tonic: the blood of younger mice.

Older mice got stronger, exercised longer and performed better mentally after they were injected with blood from young mice, or even just with a substance that’s more abundant in younger blood.

Someday, if more research goes well, this may lead to a way to treat some infirmities of old age in people. In the meantime, scientists have a warning for do-it-yourselfers.

“Don’t try this at home,” said Saul Villeda of the University of California, San Francisco, an author of one of three papers published online Sunday by the journals Nature Medicine and Science.

He worked with mice that were roughly the equivalent of people in their 20s and 60s. Researchers repeatedly injected the older mice with blood from either the younger animals or other aged mice. Those that got the young blood did better in learning and memory tests than the mice given the older blood. For example, they performed better at recalling where to find a submerged platform in a maze.

Villeda said the researchers are trying to figure out what’s in the young blood that made the difference.

The two other papers, from Harvard University, focused on a substance that is more abundant in the blood of younger mice than old. That protein, called GDF11, is also found in human blood and its concentration also appears to decline with age, said Amy Wagers, an author on both papers.

On average, aging mice that got injections of it showed greater grip strength and more endurance on a treadmill than untreated mice.

The Harvard scientists also found that exposing older mice to the blood of younger mice produced more blood vessels and blood flow in the brain. Injections of GDF11 had a similar effect. Lee Rubin, a study author, said those results suggest further work may lead to a way to treat age-related mental decline and perhaps dementia in people.

Wagers and Villeda said it’s not clear whether GDF11 explains the results of Villeda’s study. Wagers said she suspects other substances in blood can also help aging animals.

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Beach Art Created by a Man with a Rake

A Man Takes A Single Rake to The Beach. And When You Zoom Out And See It…

If you live in San Francisco, California, then you may be lucky enough to come across the art of Andres Amador. He doesn’t paint or sculpt. He prefers a medium that is temporary but absolutely beautiful: a sandy beach at low tide. He uses a rake to create works of art that can be bigger than 100,000 sq. ft.
He spends hours creating these intricate masterpieces, knowing that the tide will soon come in and wash away his work forever.
For Andres, his art is “more about the process and less about the result.” He knows that it will all be temporary. While making his beach mural explorations, he uses a rope as a guide so that he can make the geometric patterns. When asked WHY he does it, Andre gives the best answer… “The unanswerable question! Its fun. I get to be at the beach.” Consider yourself lucky if you happen to stumble across one of his playa paintings, because it won’t be there long. By raking up the wet sand at low tide, he is able to make contrasting sand colors. He even offers his services, helping people propose. Or even teaching others to create these beachscapes as part of a team building exercise. According to Andres, it only takes a couple of hours once the tide is low enough to create the designs. Andres’ creations are simply stunning and knowing that these delicate creations are temporary somehow makes them even more beautiful.
You should definitely Like Andres On Facebook and Visit His Web Site where you can buy prints of his designs if you want.
Share his work. It’s truly awesome.
Source: viralnova.com

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One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years


One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco

original link:  http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2txGz9/:mhpIS4Er:aKmcH1ng/thisiscolossal.com/2011/04/one-man-100000-toothpicks-and-35-years-scott-weavers-rolling-through-the-bay/


Thirty five years ago I had yet to be born, but artist Scott Weaver had already begun work on this insanely complex kinetic sculpture, Rolling through the Bay, that he continues to modify and expand even today. The elaborate sculpture is comprised of multiple “tours” that move pingpong balls through neighborhoods, historical locations, and iconic symbols of San Francisco, all recreated with a little glue, some toothpicks, and an incredible amount of ingenuity. He admits in the video that there are several toothpick sculptures even larger than his, but none has the unique kinetic components he’s constructed. Via his website Weaver estimates he’s spent over 3,000 hours on the project, and the toothpicks have been sourced from around the world:

I have used different brands of toothpicks depending on what I am building. I also have many friends and family members that collect toothpicks in their travels for me. For example, some of the trees in Golden Gate Park are made from toothpicks from Kenya, Morocco, Spain, West Germany and Italy. The heart inside the Palace of Fine Arts is made out of toothpicks people threw at our wedding.

See the sculpture for yourself at the Tinkering Studio through the end of June. Photos courtesy of their Flickr gallery.


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The First Payphone – 1899


Los Angeles’ first telephone pay station

telephone booth

“228 So. Spring St.. The first telephone line between San Francisco and Los Angeles had just been opened, and long distance calls to the Bay City were being stimulated. The young man, Roy E. Jillson, was messenger boy then and was still an employee of the telephone company in 1934.’


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Harbaugh versus Harbaugh

I am not a huge fan of sports, and so this will be a rare sports post from me.  I just wanted to post a shout out to two brothers who will be facing each other in the Super Bowl as rival head coaches.  How cool is that?  Congratulations to the Harbaugh family.

Super Bowl XLVII: Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh

Posted by Cindy Boren on January 21, 2013 at 10:24 am 

This is John Harbaugh. He coaches the Baltimore Ravens. (Jim Rogash / Getty Images)

This is John Harbaugh. He coaches the Baltimore Ravens. (Jim Rogash / Getty Images)

Oh, those Harboys. Good Lord, they must have been a handful.

You may have read something about this, but the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, have managed to coach their respective teams to Super Bowl XLVII. Separated by only 15 months, their dad, Jack, says they were more like twins than brothers. When they’d fight, Jack would draw a line down their room and tell them not to cross it. Which, of course, they did immediately.

And now they get to cross the line on the biggest sports stage in the country.

John, the Baltimore Ravens’ coach, is the older, more even-tempered brother, the one with the twinkle in his eye rather than the 100-yard stare. He worked his way up to the Ravens’ job after a career as a Philadelphia Eagles’ assistant.

“I don’t know if we had a dream this big,” Harbaugh said. “We had a few dreams, we had a few fights. We had a few arguments, just like all brothers. … We will try to stay out of that business. We’ll let the two teams duke it out as much as possible.

jim1“I couldn’t be more proud of Jim. Watching that team play, they do reflect his personality.”

That team would be the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Harbaugh came to them after a successful career as the Stanford coach, which came after a long career as an NFL quarterback. Jim is the fiery one, the one who freaked out over a rejected challenge in the NFC championship game, the one who got into a postgame fracas with Detroit Lions Coach Jim Schwartz over the gentlemanly postgame handshake.

Because Jim’s team played first Sunday, all he could say was “I want to thank my parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, and go Ravens.”

With his brother on a plane back to San Francisco after the Ravens’ win, It fell to John to be the spokesman for the Har Bowl. Or the Bro Bowl. Whatever. Neither would probably be headed to New Orleans without having made a bold late-season decision. John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron and named Jim Caldwell offensive coordinator; Jim Harbaugh benched Alex Smith and named Colin Kaepernick the starting quarterback. In that regard, they are alike.

“I’d like to think that our teams are similar,” John Harbaugh said. “I’d like to think that when you look at those two teams you’re looking at mirror images of two football teams. I’d like to think that. It’s going to be a great game and he’s a great football coach.”

The Harbaughs have accomplished a sibling matchup, one that has eluded the Mannings. A former coach, Jack Harbaugh advised the boys before last week’s games: Get ahead. Stay ahead. On Sunday, he and his wife followed the same routine they did last year, when both boys lost in the championship games. They watched, just the two of them, on their basement TV in Mequon, Wis.

“We share our misery with no one but ourselves,” Jack Harbaugh told the San Francisco Chronicle.

He declined to say whether he offers specifics on just how to get ahead and stay ahead. “That is a key part of that, but I have no definitive answers along those lines,” Jack Harbaugh said. “I’ve allowed them, with the wisdom and knowledge that they have of this great game, to come upon that themselves.”

Starting Sunday night, though, he and Jackie became Switzerland as the Harboys prepare to duke it out and their storyline swallows Super Bowl XLVII. The Harbaugh hype may get to be a bit much, even though the brothers faced each other on Thanksgiving Day 2011. (The Ravens won, 16-6, in Baltimore.)

“You know what? I agree with you,” Harbaugh laughed when asked if he could stomach the hype. ”Let’s just cut that right now, you know what I mean? Can we all agree? Let’s just forget about that. We did that last year. It was fine. It got old last year, right? Did it not?”

Maybe. But on Sunday night, as John’s team took the field and Jim’s boarded a plane for the flight back to San Francisco, it was pretty cool to watch it unfold. Tom Crean, the Indiana basketball coach who is married to the coaches’ sister Joani, tweeted about it:

“We can’t put into words what it means to see John and Jim achieve this incredible milestone. We talked to Jim before his team plane left. All he wanted to know was how was John doing. How were they playing? One incredible family who puts the care, well-being and love for each other at the forefront like most families do. Again, we are very proud of them. Going to be exciting to watch it unfold.”

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

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