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Researchers at McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) have performed the world’s first totally automated administration of an anesthetic.

Nicknamed “McSleepy,” the new system developed by the researchers administers drugs for general anesthesia and monitors their separate effects completely automatically, with no manual intervention.

The anesthetic technique was used on a patient who underwent a partial nephrectomy, a procedure that removes a kidney tumor while leaving the non-cancerous part of the kidney intact, over a period of 3 hours and 30 minutes. To manipulate the various components of general anesthesia, the automated system measures three separate parameters displayed on a new Integrated monitor of anesthesia (IMATM): depth of hypnosis via EEG analysis, pain via a new pain score, called AnalgoscoreTM, and muscle relaxation via phonomyographyTM, all developed by ITAG. The system then administers the appropriate drugs using conventional infusion pumps, controlled by a laptop computer on which “McSleepy” is installed.

Fewer caribou calves are being born and more of them are dying in West Greenland as a result of a warming climate, according to Eric Post, a Penn State associate professor of biology. Post, who believes that caribou may serve as an indicator species for climate changes including global warming, based his conclusions on data showing that the timing of peak food availability no longer corresponds to the timing of caribou births.

Caribou -- which are closely related to wild reindeer -- are dependent on plants for all their energy and nutrients. Throughout the long Arctic winter, when there is no plant growth, they dig through snow to find lichens; however, in spring they rapidly switch to grazing on the new growth of willows, sedges, and flowering tundra herbs. As the birth season approaches, they are cued by increasing day length to migrate into areas where this newly-emergent food is plentiful.

Evolution is like the mafia, according to Omar Tonsi Eldakar and David Sloan Wilson at Binghamton University. Altruists(the exploited) ‘pay’ the the punishers of the selfish(exploiters) by allowing themselves to be exploited, while the selfish punishers return the favor with their second-order altruism. It's like a protection racket - without getting a canoli.

Rather than comparing it to La Familia, Eldakar and Wilson consider this behavioral strategy the "Selfish Punisher," which exploits altruists and punishes other selfish individuals, including other selfish punishers.

This strategy might seem hypocritical in moral terms but it is highly successful in Darwinian terms, according to their theoretical model published in PNAS and a computer simulation model published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. Selfish punishers can invade the population when rare but then limit each other, preventing the altruists from being completely eliminated.

There has been greatly increasing attention given to the potential of ‘biochar’, or charcoal made from biological tissues (e.g., wood) to serve as a long term sink of carbon in the soil. This is because charcoal is carbon-rich and breaks down extremely slowly, persisting in soil for thousands of years.

This has led to the suggestion being seriously considered by policy makers worldwide that biochar could be produced in large quantities and stored in soils. This would in turn increase ecosystem carbon sequestration, and thereby counteract human induced increases in carbon-based greenhouse gases and help combat global warming.

In a series of mate choice experiments with Phintella vittata (the Chinese jumping spider), a group researchers has found that female spiders would rather mate with males that reflect ultraviolet B (UVB) rays than those that do not. This is the first evidence of an animal using UVB rays to communicate with other members of its species.

It has long been recognized that solar UVB has direct deleterious effects on a wide range of living organisms; for example, it can cause skin cancer and damage the retinal tissues of the eyes of mammals,” said Daiqin Li of National University of Singapore, who is also an Adjunct Professor in Hubei University, China.

As marine pollution continues to rise, various interesting solutions have been proposed to remove toxic contaminants.

Various species of seaweed are able to extract toxic compounds from seawater, says Shinichi Nagata of the Environmental Biochemistry Group, at Kobe University, Japan, and colleagues at Shimane University and Nankai University, China.

They point to the brown seaweed, Undaria pinnatifida, known as wakame in Japan, and note that it has been the focus of research in this area for almost a decade.