Disturbing New Visualization Shows Cancer Cells Coursing Through a Mouse

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Biologists in Japan have a developed an innovative scanning technique that makes tissues and vital organs transparent, allowing them to track cancer as it spreads throughout the bodies and brains of mice.

The new technique, described in the latest issue of Cell Reports, was developed by researchers from the University of Tokyo and the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center, and it’s allowing scientists to visualize cancer at single-cell resolution. Preexisting scanning techniques have been used to detect and track cancer in living animals before, but not with this level of clarity and microscopic detail.

Using the new technique, the scientists watched cancer cells multiply and spread (i.e. metastasize) inside various mouse organs, including the lungs, intestines, liver, and brain. Importantly, the researchers were also able to watch anti-cancer medicines combat these pernicious cellular invaders.

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This was all made possible by a chemical mixture known as CUBIC, or Clear Unobstructed Brain/Body Imaging Cocktail (what an awesome acronym!). Developed by the RIKEN and University of Tokyo researchers, this mixture makes tissues and vital organs translucent. When used in conjunction with other scanning techniques, such as light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) and confocal laser-scanning microscopy (CLSM), it allowed the researchers to detect even the slightest traces of cancer colonies in mice.

The technique was applied to 12 mouse models with nine different cancer cell lines. The researchers used CUBIC to calculate the shapes, volumes, and distributions of various cancerous colonies, and observe cancer cells as they multiplied and spread through the body to form tumors in different areas.

For example, the researchers saw a healthy pair of lungs get colonized by cancer cells in just two weeks. They watched out-of-control pancreatic cells ravage a liver, and then the mouse’s entire abdomen. They were even able to pick out individual cancer cells and blood vessels distributed throughout the brain (see the video below).

As a result, the researchers developed a clearer view of how cancer spreads. In order for cancer to reach a new site within the body, it appears that a cancer cell travels through the bloodstream, entering and then exiting through blood vessel walls. The scientists also investigated the effects of anti-cancer drugs in cancer metastasis, providing a unique glimpse of how medicine works inside a live organism.

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Further work in this area could yield insights into other cancer and metastatic pathways, and any other health conditions involving single-cell events, such as autoimmune disorders and regenerative medicine.

As for this technique ever being used on live humans, don’t hold your breath. The CUBIC compound isn’t very human-friendly, requiring a series of genetic modifications. But as a way to peer inside the body of a living creature, it’s already proving its worth.

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[Cell Reports]

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RANKED: The 11 best video games of 2017 so far

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Having just crested the half-year mark of 2017, it’s the perfect time to play the best games of 2017. It’s been quite a year already!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Somewhere in between exploring the massive, adventure-filled world of "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," and the massive, adventure-filled world of "Horizon Zero Dawn," it became clear that 2017 was shaping up to be one of the best years in the history of video games.

Before we look ahead to the second half of 2017, let’s look back on all the excellent games that have already arrived this year. Here are the best video games of 2017 (so far), ranked:

SEE ALSO: Nintendo’s new console is having an incredible run, and the future looks even brighter

11. "Persona 5"

Devotees of the "Persona" role-playing game series aren’t saying that "Persona 5" is the absolute best the series has to offer — that distinction tends to rest with the third game in the series. Instead, fans are calling "Persona 5" a strong new entry in a beloved series. It’s not without its flaws, but there’s plenty to love.

Like previous games in the series, the story of "Persona 5" focuses on a Japanese teenager. Also like previous games in the series, there’s much more to the story of "Persona 5" than what’s on the surface. You’ll explore the confines of high school life during the day, making friends and completing various tasks. When night comes, you’ll head into battle with those friends in a turn-based RPG format.

If you’ve enjoyed the "Final Fantasy" series, or have a particular fondness for narrative-driven, quirky games, you’ll want to check out "Persona 5."

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4

10. "Tekken 7"

In a surprising twist, there are several excellent fighting games competing for your attention in 2017 already. The most recent game to enter that fight is "Tekken 7," the latest entry in the long-running "Tekken" fighting series.

Mainstays like Heihachi and Jin are back, as well as fan favorites like Eddy Gordo and Panda (who is a literal panda). After months of playtesting the game in Japanese arcades, the version released for home consumption this year offers the most sophisticated gameplay of any "Tekken" game to date. The inclusion of a meaty — albeit silly — story mode makes "Tekken 7" a strong game for a larger audience than usual. If nothing else, it’s a killer weekend rental to play with friends.

Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Arcade (really!)

9. "Prey"

More than anything else, 2017 has been an incredible year for variety in gaming. "Prey" is an excellent example of that. It’s a game in the style of "BioShock," mixing first-person gameplay with horror elements and environmental storytelling. 

Beyond just being beautiful to gawk at, it’s a thrilling game to play. You’re not simply shooting enemies — you’re attempting to decipher them from the environment you’re in. The enemy aliens can take the form of everyday objects, thus making your task all the more suspense-filled. An ordinary jaunt through a rote office turns into a panic-inducing creep; "Prey" revels in fear of the unknown.

Though the story in "Prey" stumbles in places, as does the gameplay, it’s an overall worthwhile game to check out. 

Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Hypnotic Video Simulates How Earth Gets Its Magnetic Field

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The Earth is a giant magnet, with a north and a south pole just like any magnet you’ve ever played with. But the Earth’s magnetic field plays a vital role: It field helps to prevent powerful solar particles from destroying us.

Scientists think the magnetic field comes from something called the dynamo, liquid metal moving throughout the planet’s outer core combined with the planet’s rotation. This could generate an electric field which, according to physics, should create the magnetic field, too. To demonstrate that, scientists at L’Institut des sciences de la Terre in France have created a hypnotic video of the Earth’s outer core, sliced in half along the equator, modeling the temperature patches swirling deep inside our planet.

These simulations show the swirling metal flows created by patches of the molten, iron-nickel mixture at different temperatures. The simulation also showed swirling vortices near the poles and demonstrated that the magnetic field generated by this motion isn’t always uniform. The team’s work has been accepted for publication in the Geophysical Journal International.

This newest attempt at a realistic simulation of the dynamo relies on numerical approximations and supercomputer calculations, according to a press release from the French National Center for Scientific Research. That, of course, means that the scientists haven’t measured precisely what’s happening. But it can definitely help scientists better understand the behavior of our planet’s magnetic field, as well as for purposes where GPS doesn’t work, like drilling underground.

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Hot dang. I could probably watch this for hours.

[GJI via CNRS]

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Science Reveals the Secret to Ancient Rome’s Indestructible Concrete

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Geologists drilling at a marine structure in Portus Cosanus, Tuscany. (Image: University of Utah)

Roman concrete is famous for its durability, lasting for thousands of years and seemingly stronger with each passing year. New research has uncovered the chemical processes responsible for the sturdiness of this ancient building material—a finding that could inspire modern engineers to revive this forgotten technique.

If this news about ancient Roman concrete sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re remembering work done by the same researchers a few years ago. Back in 2014, a research team led by Marie D. Jackson of the University of California at Berkeley showed how the recipe for Roman concrete—a mixture of volcanic ash, lime, and seawater combined with a volcanic rock aggregate—produced a chemical reaction that resulted in super-strong concrete. Trouble is, Jackson’s team wasn’t entirely sure how the Romans managed to facilitate this complex reaction.

In a follow-up study, published this week in American Mineralogist, the researchers have learned that it wasn’t the Romans who facilitated this chemical reaction—at least not directly. Rather, the strengthening process was caused by the steady filtering of corrosive seawater through the concrete over time, which triggered the growth of rare, interlocking minerals that made the material even tougher.

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Indeed, ancient Roman piers and breakwaters, some of which were constructed more than 2,000 years ago, are thought to be stronger today than when they were first constructed. Modern marine concrete structures, made of rocks or gravel mixed with water and cement, crumble within a few decades.

Inspired by naturally-cemented volcanic ash deposits, the Romans learned how to make concrete—and they did so by exploiting the binding powers of what scientists now call a pozzolanic reaction. This reaction, named after the city of Pozzuoli in the Bay of Naples, causes minerals to grow between the aggregate and the mortar, in this case, a mixture of silica oxides and lime found in volcanic ash, which has the happy effect of preventing cracks from growing. Modern concrete also uses rock aggregate, but particles used today are deliberately kept inert to prevent reactions from taking place. Unfortunately, these nonreactive aggregates help cracks to grow and spread, resulting in steady deterioration.

As the previous work by Jackson’s team revealed, the presence of a rare mineral in the Roman marine mortar, called aluminous tobermorite, allows mineral crystals to grow around the lime particles via the pozzolanic reaction. But this only happens at relatively high temperatures, so it wasn’t obvious how the Romans managed to achieve this effect. It’s tough for scientists to do this in the lab today, and when it is done, it can only be done in small batches.

This microscopic image shows the lumpy calcium-aluminum-silicate-hydrate (C-A-S-H) binder material that forms when volcanic ash, lime and seawater mix. Platy crystals of Al-tobermorite have grown amongst the C-A-S-H in the cementing matrix. (Image: M. D. Jackson et al., 2017)

Convinced that something else was responsible for the effect, the researchers took samples of aluminous tobermorite, and a related mineral known as phillipsite, to Berkeley’s Advanced Light Source lab for x-ray scanning. They found that the aluminous tobermorite formed within pumice particles and pores in the cementing mix, but because it’s not possible to recreate this effect over short timescales without high heat, the researchers figured something else had to be responsible.

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That something else, concluded the researchers, is the steady pounding of seawater. Instead of eroding the concrete, seawater sifts through the material, dissolving components of the volcanic ash. Over the course of hundreds of years, this allows minerals to grow from the highly alkaline fluids that are leaching out. This results in the proliferation of interlocking, crystal-shaped structures that increase the concrete’s resistance to brittle fracture.

To a materials engineer working today, this process would represent a total nightmare. In fact, scientists spend a lot of time trying to prevent this sort of thing from happening in modern materials.

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“We’re looking at a system that’s contrary to everything one would not want in cement-based concrete,” said Jackson in a press release. “We’re looking at a system that thrives in open chemical exchange with seawater.”

So why don’t we do as the Roman’s did? For one, volcanic ash isn’t the most accessible natural resource. But more importantly, we still don’t have the precise recipe used by the Romans to make the concrete, nor do we have access to similar building materials.

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“Romans were fortunate in the type of rock they had to work with,” said Jackson. “They observed that volcanic ash grew cements to produce the [mortar]. We don’t have those rocks in a lot of the world, so there would have to be substitutions made.”

Jackson and others are currently working on a replacement recipe, and should it be developed, it could be put to good use—including a tidal lagoon that’s slated to be built in Swansea, United Kingdom. This structure, which will be used to harness tidal power, will need to operate for 120 years in order for the construction costs to be recouped.

“You can imagine that, with the way we build now, it would be a mass of corroding steel by that time,” said Jackson. Instead, using this ancient Roman technique, we could built a structure that would remain intact for centuries.

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[American Mineralogist]

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6 things you should absolutely know how to do in Excel

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When it comes to Excel, there isn’t much middle ground.

You have people who absolutely love it and will sing the praises of spreadsheets all day. And, then you have the people who absolutely detest it. They’d rather lock themselves in a phone booth full of mosquitos than have to go cross-eyed looking at all of those columns and rows.

 Admittedly, I used to fall into that latter group. I’d open a new Excel workbook with the best of intentions. But, after 20 odd minutes of trying to get one stupid decimal point to appear properly in its cell, I’d throw my hands up once again and claim Excel just wasn’t for me.

Then, my life experienced a major plot twist: I married a total Excel whiz—someone who literally spends his entire workday creating complicated macros and some of the most impressive spreadsheets I’ve ever seen. And, he’s made it his personal mission to convert me to his tribe of Excel-lovers (honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t in his wedding vows).

Since then? Well, he’s made some progress. I’ve been able to put my hatred aside and recognize that Excel can actually be an incredibly powerful tool for combing through information and finding exactly what you need—provided you know how to use it correctly.

 It’s that last part that trips people up. But, fortunately, Excel isn’t nearly as complicated as you’re likely making it out to be.

In fact, there are plenty of helpful tricks and tools you can utilize—whether you’re a total newbie or an established expert. Here are six things you should absolutely know how to do in Excel (and, trust me, you’ll be glad you do!) courtesty of GoSkills.

1. Sort Data

Typically, spreadsheets are useful for storing and sorting a whole bunch of information—think a contact list for 800 people that you want to invite to your company’s luncheon, for example.

Now, let’s say that you want to sort those people accordingly. Perhaps you want them listed in alphabetical order by last name. Or, maybe you want to group them together by city.

Excel makes it easy to comb through your entire data set and sort everything into a clean and easy to read spreadsheet.

Here’s how you do it: 

  • Highlight the entire data set you want to sort (not just one column!) by either dragging your cursor across all of the cells or clicking the triangle in the upper left of your spreadsheet to select the entire thing.

  • Hit the “Data” tab.

  • Click the “Sort” button.

  • Select how you want to sort your data (in the example below, I sorted by city!).

  • Hit “OK.”

Then, your data will be sorted accordingly—in this case, alphabetical order by city.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s important that you select the entire data set you want to sort, and not just one column. That way, your rows will stay intact—meaning, in this case, the correct address will stay with the appropriate person.

Had I just selected the first column, Excel would’ve sorted only that one column alphabetically, making the addresses a mismatched mess.

2. Remove Duplicates

It’s inevitable: When you’re working with a large dataset, there are bound to be a few duplicates that sneak their way in.

Rather than getting bleary-eyed and frustrated by scrolling through that entire spreadsheet and looking for them yourself, Excel can do all of that legwork for you and remove duplicates with the click of a button.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Highlight the entire data set.

  • Hit the “Data” tab.

  • Click the “Remove Duplicates” button.

  • Select what columns you want Excel to find duplicates in.

  • Hit “OK.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be careful that you choose enough qualifiers to weed out the true duplicates. For example, if I had just selected to remove duplicates in only Column A above (meaning Excel would’ve looked for duplicates of “Oprah”), I would’ve deleted one Oprah that indeed had the same address, but one that had a different last name and address altogether (a different Oprah entirely!)

The bottom line is, utilize enough information so that you’re removing rows that are true identical copies of each other—and don’t just share one similar value!

3. Basic Math Functions

Stop reaching for that calculator—Excel can handle all sorts of math functions for you! All you need to do is enter a few simple formulas. 

Think that sounds like it’s way beyond your Excel knowledge? Think again. Trust me, if I can figure this out, so you can you.

Here are the basic formulas you’ll want to know:

  • Addition: Type “SUM=” in a blank cell where you want the total to appear, click the cells you want to add together, and then hit “Enter.”

  • Subtraction: Type “=” in a blank cell where you want the difference to appear, click the cell you want to subtract from, type “-”, click the cell you want to subtract, and then hit enter.

  • Multiplication: Type “=” in a blank cell where you want the total to appear, click the cell for a number you want to multiply, type “*”, click the cell for the other number you want to multiply, and then hit enter.

  • Division: Type “=” in a blank cell where you want the remainder to appear, click the cell for the number you want to divide, type “/”, click the cell for the number you want to divide by, and then hit enter.

Listen, I know these are a little confusing to put down in words. But, give them a try for yourself and I’m positive you’ll quickly see that they aren’t complicated at all. Here’s a look at what the SUM function looks like in practice:

INSIDER TIP: If you want to drag the same mathematical formula across a row, you can! After entering the formula into one cell, click that cell where the total appeared, click the little green box that appears in the lower right-hand corner, and drag it across the rest of the row where you need that formula to be applied.

Voila—it’ll happen automatically! You’ll be able to crunch numbers in different columns, without needing to enter the formula again and again.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Don’t Let Unpleasant Sensations Take Control of Your Mind

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Photo by Graeme Churchard.

Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker’s weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and how you can use its waters to reflect on and improve your life.

This week’s entry comes from my main man, Marcus Aurelius. This quote, from Meditations, is one of the many instances where Aurelius writes on the concept of overcoming pain and other disagreeable sensations:

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“Whenever you suffer pain, have ready to hand the thought that pain is a moral evil and does not harm your governing intelligence: pain can do no damage either to its rational or to its social nature. In most cases of pain you should be helped too by the saying of Epicurus: ‘Pain is neither unendurable nor unending, as long as you remember its limits and do not exaggerate it in your imagination.’ Remember too that many things we find disagreeable are the unrecognized analogues of pain – drowsiness, for example, oppressive heat, loss of appetite. So when you find yourself complaining of any of these, say to yourself, ‘You are giving in to pain.’” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.64

Another translation:

“In every pain let this thought be present, that there is no dishonour in it, nor does it make the governing intelligence worse, for it does not damage the intelligence either so far as the intelligence is rational or so far as it is social. Indeed in the case of most pains let this remark of Epicurus aid thee, that ‘pain is neither intolerable nor everlasting, if thou bearest in mind that it has its limits, and if thou addest nothing to it in imagination’: and remember this too, that we do not perceive that many things which are disagreeable to us are the same as pain, such as excessive drowsiness, and the being scorched by heat, and the having no appetite. When then thou art discontented about any of these things, say to thyself, that thou art yielding to pain.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.64

What It Means

Physical pain, drowsiness, hunger, heat, cold, and other uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings should be separate from your rational mind and spirit. Basically, just because you feel something you do not like it doesn’t mean that’s all you should focus on. Aurelius reminds us that these various versions of “pain” can and should be endured, and that these sensations don’t last forever. So don’t exaggerate their effects. Basically, don’t make mountains out of molehills.

Now, to be fair, this is actually a riff on an old saying from Epicurus (as cited in the quote), but it’s a good take on it. Aurelius believed in the duality of mind and body; two separate things that work together in harmony. In this instance, he’s urging you to remember that whenever you are in discomfort. Just because you feel something physically does not mean you need to let it infect your mind.

What to Take From It

This is essentially your basic “mind over matter” approach, or what some might call “mental toughness.” When you sense your attitude, demeanor, or intelligence being swayed by simple physical sensations, tell yourself that “you are giving in.” When you realize you’re letting your discomfort govern your entire self, you can stop it in its tracks and return control to your mind.

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Of course, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t address things that bring you discomfort. You don’t have to grin and bear pain “just because.” This is about self-awareness, and a oft-needed reminder that whining, complaining, and snapping at others is not beneficial to anyone, no matter what state you’re in. When you stub your toe on the couch, there’s no point in punching the cushion. When you feel tired or hungry, there’s no point in being grouchy with the people you care about. And when you feel cold, there’s no point in complaining about it endlessly. Go put on a damn jacket. Be strong, learn to endure, and let your rational mind stay in charge.

You can read Meditations in its entirety for free here.

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Some psychiatrists think cannabis can be considered a psychedelic drug like shrooms — here’s why

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Marijuana isn’t typically thought of as a psychedelic — a drug that produces hallucinations or an apparent expansion of consciousness.

But according to Julie Holland, a psychiatrist with a private practice in New York, some of cannabis’ effects are psychedelic in nature.

At a recent conference in London on the science of psychedelics, Holland said that using marijuana may be linked with a phenomenon some psychiatrists refer to as "dehabituation"  — the process of looking at something with fresh eyes.

"That can be very helpful in psychiatry," she said.

Several forms of psychotherapy emphasize the idea that troubling situations center around a problem of perspective. By approaching those same scenarios from a new point of view — usually with the help of a therapist — we can fix our thinking and feel better. 

Psychiatry and psychedelics share the common Latin root "psyche," or mind, because both are believed to act on it, albeit in different ways. That’s one of the reasons that dozens of scientists, including psychiatrists like Holland, are increasingly supportive of the idea that psychedelic drugs might have a place in treating mental illness. Research on using traditional psychedelics like magic mushrooms, LSD, and ayahuasca to treat issues ranging from anxiety and drug addiction to depression has seen a major resurgence in the last few years.

While less of this research has focused on cannabis, Holland still believes the drug has some characteristics that could make it helpful in related ways. 

"The thing that I’m interested in with cannabis is how it does this thing where everything old is new again," she said.

To this end, Holland is serving as the medical monitor for a new study launched by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) that aims to assess whether marijuana could help reduce the symptoms of PTSD in veterans with the disorder

Marijuana is not classified as a psychedelic, however, and remains in a drug class of its own. It’s also a Schedule I substance according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which makes studying its potential use for mental illness — or any other medical problem — difficult.

The largest and most comprehensive existing report on the science of marijuana concluded that there’s still a lot we don’t know about how the drug affects the brain. For example, it suggested that people who use cannabis more frequently have an increased risk for developing schizophrenia, social anxiety disorders, and depression (to a lesser extent), but the report could not say whether marijuana plays a role in causing those disorders or if being prone to one simply makes you more likely to use the drug.

"In psychiatry it seems that cannabis is grossly underused and understudied," Holland said.

SEE ALSO: Why psychedelics like magic mushrooms kill the ego and fundamentally transform the brain

DON’T MISS: There’s a medical problem that marijuana might be able to help that no one is talking about

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A pharmacologist explains marijuana’s effect on your dreams

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Cook Breakfast Burritos In Minutes With This $14 Gadget

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Hamilton Beach’s breakfast burrito maker is a unitasker, no doubt, but it’s an awesome unitasker. You put a tortilla on the bottom to warm up, your egg and other ingredients in the top section, and remove a trap door once it’s all cooked to drop your fillings into the tortilla in one fell swoop.


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