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Archive for the ‘Life Extension’ Category

Life Extension and Insilico Medicine Use Artificial Intelligence to Develop Ageless – WholeFoods Magazine

Fort Lauderdale, FL Life Extension has partnered with Insilico Medicine to introduce Ageless Cell, the first supplement in its GEROPROTECT line to promote healthy aging by inhibiting cellular senescence.

Cellular senescence is a natural part of the aging process where cells no longer function optimally, affecting organ function, cellular metabolism, and the inflammation response. The accumulation of these senescent cells contributes to the process of aging. The Ageless Cell supplements inhibit the effects of cellular senescence by acting as geroprotectors, or interventions aimed to increase longevity and impede the onset of age-related diseases by targeting and inhibiting senescence-inducing pathways and inhibiting the development of senescent cells.

The partnership with Insilico Medicine allowed researchers to use deep learning algorithms to comb through hundreds of studies and thousands of data points a process that could have taken decades to identify four key anti-aging nutrients: N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), myricetin, gamma-tocotrienol, and EGCG. These compounds target pathways that are known to contribute to or protect against the development of senescent cells.

Specifically, NAC upregulates signaling pathways that protect cells against oxidative stress, which promotes cellular senescence. It also reduces pathways that promote inflammation. Myricetin regulates a family of stress-responsive signaling molecules known to regulate aging in many tissues. It also promotes cell differentiation and self-repair. Gamma tocotrienol modulates the mevalonate pathway that controls cholesterol production, cancer promotion, and bone formation. And EGCG regulates the Wnt pathway that determines the fate of developing cells and also prevents sugar-induced damage to tissues, helping to suppress their pro-aging effects.

Clinical aging studies are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to perform at this time. Our collaboration with Insilico Medicine has allowed us to develop geroprotective formulations by using artificial intelligence to study very large data sets, said Andrew G. Swick, Ph.D., senior vice president of product development and scientific affairs for Life Extension.

Scientists found these four nutrients have various complementary and reinforcing properties to influence key anti-aging pathways and combat aging factors by modulating specific biological pathways. By rejuvenating near-senescent cells and encouraging the bodys healthy process for dealing with senescent cells, Ageless Cell turns back the clock at the cellular level, said Michael A. Smith, M.D., senior health scientist for Life Extension.

Alex Zhavoronkov, Ph.D., CEO of Insilico Medicine said, Together, these four natural compounds represent the beginning of the future anti-aging cocktails identified using artificial intelligence under expert human supervision.

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Life Extension and Insilico Medicine Use Artificial Intelligence to Develop Ageless - WholeFoods Magazine

Life Extension and Insilico Medicine Use Artificial Intelligence to Develop Ageless Cell – WholeFoods Magazine

Fort Lauderdale, FL Life Extension has partnered with Insilico Medicine to introduce Ageless Cell, the first supplement in its GEROPROTECT line to promote healthy aging by inhibiting cellular senescence.

Cellular senescence is a natural part of the aging process where cells no longer function optimally, affecting organ function, cellular metabolism, and the inflammation response. The accumulation of these senescent cells contributes to the process of aging. The Ageless Cell supplements inhibit the effects of cellular senescence by acting as geroprotectors, or interventions aimed to increase longevity and impede the onset of age-related diseases by targeting and inhibiting senescence-inducing pathways and inhibiting the development of senescent cells.

The partnership with Insilico Medicine allowed researchers to use deep learning algorithms to comb through hundreds of studies and thousands of data points a process that could have taken decades to identify four key anti-aging nutrients: N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), myricetin, gamma-tocotrienol, and EGCG. These compounds target pathways that are known to contribute to or protect against the development of senescent cells.

Specifically, NAC upregulates signaling pathways that protect cells against oxidative stress, which promotes cellular senescence. It also reduces pathways that promote inflammation. Myricetin regulates a family of stress-responsive signaling molecules known to regulate aging in many tissues. It also promotes cell differentiation and self-repair. Gamma tocotrienol modulates the mevalonate pathway that controls cholesterol production, cancer promotion, and bone formation. And EGCG regulates the Wnt pathway that determines the fate of developing cells and also prevents sugar-induced damage to tissues, helping to suppress their pro-aging effects.

Clinical aging studies are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to perform at this time. Our collaboration with Insilico Medicine has allowed us to develop geroprotective formulations by using artificial intelligence to study very large data sets, said Andrew G. Swick, Ph.D., senior vice president of product development and scientific affairs for Life Extension.

Scientists found these four nutrients have various complementary and reinforcing properties to influence key anti-aging pathways and combat aging factors by modulating specific biological pathways. By rejuvenating near-senescent cells and encouraging the bodys healthy process for dealing with senescent cells, Ageless Cell turns back the clock at the cellular level, said Michael A. Smith, M.D., senior health scientist for Life Extension.

Alex Zhavoronkov, Ph.D., CEO of Insilico Medicine said, Together, these four natural compounds represent the beginning of the future anti-aging cocktails identified using artificial intelligence under expert human supervision.

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Life Extension and Insilico Medicine Use Artificial Intelligence to Develop Ageless Cell - WholeFoods Magazine

Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Invites Resident to Partake in – RGVProud

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas - Texas A&M Agri-Llife Extension is inviting residents to take advantage of the different programs they offer.

For more than 100 years now, the Texas A&M extension has been working to educate south Texans on a variety of topics.

The agency's educational process is based on research focused on local issues and needs. Whether it's diabetes management or learning different ways to eat healthy on a budget, they say there is a program for everyone.

Andrea Valdez, Agri-Life Extension Agent said, "Our job is to educate the community to live happier and healthier lives. We've been in this county for 100 years. So, we are a mainstay and we welcome everyone to join out program. Most of them are free. Some of them do have a charge but that's very rare.

For more information about Texas A&Ms educational programs, contact them at 956-383-1735. You can also find them online at

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Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Invites Resident to Partake in - RGVProud

Editorial March 29 2017 – Illawarra Mercury

28 Mar 2017, 8 p.m.

Editorial for the March 29 edition of the Illawarra Mercury.

It seems as though much of the first part of 2017 for the NSW Government has been spentunpicking what former Premier Mike Baird attempted to introduce in 2016.

First it was the scrapping of council mergers in regional areas.

Now the Berejiklian government has progressed the reforms of the greyhound industry, which was initially going to be banned outright by former Premier Mike Baird.

The Baird backdown on the ban sparked a review by an expert panel which revealed a series of recommendations to reform the industry instead of the more dramatic option.

On Tuesday Racing Minister Paul Toole announced the NSW Government would accept all but one of the recommendations by the expert panel.

The reforms are expected to cost $41million which will be ultimately paid by the taxpayer purse.

The bulk of the money will be focussed on reforms which the NSW Government hopes will provide better animal welfare.

The other $11 million will go towards the establishment of an agency aimed at policing the industry over the next five years, after which the industry will be required to fund the body.

These reforms will impact on all our local greyhound tracks in the region, Bulli, Dapto and further south in Nowra.

While the industry is welcoming the news it will continue as an industry, the critics are questioning whether the funding and the measures provide enough support to the industry and in the end the result for the industry will be what Mr Baird initially intended.

Bulli Greyhound Club operations manager Darren Hull certainly shared that view with the Illawarra Mercury.

I think it is a good thing that people know where they stand because come the 1st of July, the industry was still going to be banned, Mr Hullsaid.

However, there is probably still a little bit of a cloud, not hanging over the industrys head, but at some point in timeit will have to restructure to remain financial viable.

I dont know if that decision is going to involve scaling back the tracks, cutting back race meetings. But at some stage someone will have to make a call.

In the end this may well prove a life extension than a lifeline, but that remains in the hand of the industry.

Editorial March 29 2017 - Illawarra Mercury

Who wants to live forever? Transhumanism’s promise of eternal life – Irish Times

Mark OConnell has spent the past few years meeting people who want to upload their minds to robots and never die. He has visited warehouses filled with frozen heads, met people who implant technology in their own bodies, and toured the United States in a coffin-shaped camper van with a man who was campaigning to be president.

The general subject of OConnells beautifully written book, To Be a Machine, is transhumanism. And far from being a fringe movement of online nuts, this is, in fact, at the centre of futurist thinking in Silicon Valley Ray Kurzweil of Google is among its foremost theorists. The central tenet of transhumanism is the notion of the singularity, a moment at which we will have both self-aware computers and the technology to allow us to merge our consciousness with machines. (Kurzweil has suggested the year could be 2045.)

OConnell first came across transhumanism 10 years ago, when writing for the now defunct Mongrel magazine. He is, he stresses, a layman, not an expert, and he is even apologetic about describing himself as a journalist, despite writing for the New York Times magazine and the New Yorkers Page Turner blog. (Im emasculated by your professionalism, he says when he sees my uncharacteristically printed-out notes.)

I guess I do have this weird obsession with the machine of the body, OConnell says as we upload sandwiches in a Dublin cafe.

While there is this quite extreme movement with a cluster of interesting ideas to think about in and of themselves, its also a kind of an extreme manifestation of our own f***ed-up relationship with technology and my own f***ed up relationship with being a fallible, dying human being.

So its a way of writing about death? To Be a Machine, he says, is a book about death. I didnt really realise it until Margaret Atwood put it on a list of her favourite books about death . . . I have this thing where anytime I go through a major life change it translates to instant obsession with death. When I got married I thought, The first part of my life is the part before I got married and I didnt die, and the second part is the part where I have been married and I die. He laughs. I am morbidly preoccupied with death.

There was no better place for him to be, then, than Phoenix, Arizona, where Max More, chief executive of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, showed him a warehouse full of frozen heads.

They call them cephalons, OConnell says. They get a lot of mileage out of that euphemism. But its this really banal, mundane scenario. Its an office where no one seems to be doing that much work. Theres a real air of lassitude about the place, and its literally in a business park beside a place called Big D Floor Covering Supplies.

Is being frozen expensive?

Those who sign up for this postdeath procedure do so in the hope that by the time they are unfrozen there will be a cure for death. I think the preferred scenario is that you upload the brain into a new body, and the old fleshy body is disposed of. Its a religious idea, basically. They hate that interpretation of it.

In his book OConnell cant help but reach for religious allegories. Still, he is reluctant to describe transhumanism as a religion (although he visits a quasi-religious offshoot, Terasem Faith). His narration has a winningly anxious air, and he indulges in long, entertaining tangents where he talks about philosophy, his young son and his own sanity.

Mad as he found some transhumanist ideas, he cant entirely discount them. I was often really aware of being the stupidest person in the room. I had this sensation of being around people who were way more rational than me and way more informed about the technologies. I used this phrase magical rationalism. There was a logic to everything, but it went to this space of craziness.

A case in point: OConnell spent time with a bunch of biohacking body-modification aficionados in a house on the edge of Pittsburgh. They want to be cyborgs, he says. They refer to themselves as practical transhumanists, and theyre in an uneasy relationship with the people talking about mind uploading in the future. They want it now. Theyre like the DIY punk wing of the movement.

Practical transhumanists have unlicensed surgery to have technology implanted in their bodies. So Im a cyborg, but what does it mean? It means I can open my car without taking my keys out of my pocket. The cure is worse than the disease, basically. You have to get unlicensed surgery so you can open the door of your car without taking your key out. They saw it as a gesture towards the future.

Again, theres a hugely religious dimension to it, but if you say that to them they get really impatient, because theyre all hard-core atheists into Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.

Tim Cannon, the groups de facto leader, recently had an implant removed that left a horrible scar on his arm.

Hed had this thing about the size of a mobile phone in his arm, OConnell says.

in this case a body modification artist named Steve Haworth to put it into you . . . It uploaded information about body temperature to his laptop, which was connected to his heating system. If he got too cold the heat went on.

OConnell laughs. Kind of interesting, but also, would you not just get up and turn on the heating?

Not everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid. Transhumanists ultimately believe that the mind is a vast collection of data that is replicable outside the body. But one sceptical neuroscientist told OConnell that the brain is less like a collection of data and more akin to a shoal of fish. The notion that we might be able to upload to machines anytime soon is unrealistic.

Its a recurring category error that we humans make, OConnell says: to assume that our minds are like the latest technology. I think transhumanist ideas come from spending too much time with a computer and overidentifying with it as an extension of the self. It reminds me of The Third Policeman the confusion between the man and the bicycle . . . I wonder if Flann OBrien was around now, would he be writing about computers?

In another chapter OConnell travels with Zoltan Istvan, a transhumanist theorist and life-size Ken doll, in a camper van designed to look like a coffin, as Istvan campaigns for the US presidency on an anti-death ticket.

I like him against my better judgment, OConnell says. The feeling must be mutual, because Istvan gave To Be a Machine a positive review on Amazon. He wrote, Im unaware of any other prominent writer having done so much research on the movement itself that was not a transhumanist.

How did all this contemplation of death and deathlessness affect OConnell? Hmm, he says and chews his sandwich. This is 80 per cent chewing, 20 per cent thinking, he says after a while. He thinks again. The American political philosopher Francis Fukuyama described transhumanism as the most dangerous idea in the world. OConnell wouldnt go that far himself, but he says he understands the anxiety that comes from long-standing beliefs about what it means to be human. He writes movingly about his animalistic love for his wife and son:

Would he like to be uploaded to a computer to live forever? I would rather be dead. I cant quite intellectually justify it, but it just feels viscerally nightmarish. Maybe I just dont love life that much.

His new friends in the world of transhumanism would call this a deathist philosophy. It is an outlook he couldnt even shake when faced with a minor cancer scare. I think my view of death is still the view of a guy in his mid-30s. Whereas I talk to my dad about it, hes 73 and he has a completely different view. Hes a pharmacist, and says maybe it wouldnt be such a terrible thing. You get to my age and an extra few years would be nice. I suppose its difficult to imagine being at a point where youre like, times up.

Transhumanists, on the other hand, dont talk in terms of an extra couple of years. Many fantasise about travelling the universe eternally as near god-like machines. Meanwhile, scientific types such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warn of the dangers posed by malevolent artificial intelligences.

Theres a sense that these people are off the reservation, says OConnell, but at the same time these are the people creating the future. Fifty years ago, if you had people talking about how we were all going to spend all our time in this semi-imaginary, semi-real realm the internet wed think thats mad, and it doesnt sound all that great.

OConnells current concerns are more prosaic. He worries about who owns the servers on to which our data and personalities might be uploaded (few transhumanists fret about such things) and, in the shorter term, about his sons employment prospects.

The one thing I came out of writing this book completely shitting myself about was the employment implications of this technology. The destruction of jobs, he says, will happen soon.

In the same way that the book is about death and America, its about capitalism as well. I feel like the logic of capitalism is inexorably heading towards owning the means of production and the labour force, and integrating that into one machine and getting rid of as many people as possible.

Ultimately, To Be a Machine is both an insight into transhumanist thought and OConnells very relatable fears and anxieties about mortality and the future. I assume he will follow through on these in his next book, which is about prepping for the fall of civilisation: Its always the apocalypse one way or another.

His son recently asked what happens when people die. Without a religious afterlife to fall back on, his mother told him that his father was writing about people who believed that death would end, so he might never have to worry about it.

OConnell laughs. Also, it was perfect for the book.

Patrick Freyne is interviewing Mark OConnell as part of the Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival, at the LexIcon in Dn Laoghaire, on Saturday, March 25th, at 7pm; To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death is published by Granta Books

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Who wants to live forever? Transhumanism's promise of eternal life - Irish Times

Life Extension Science Live Forever and Don’t Pay Taxes – Nanalyze

They say there are only two things in life you cant avoid taxes and death. For our U.S. readers, you can actually avoid taxes by staying out of the country for 335 days or more. Its called a Foreign Earned Income Exclusionand it gives you about100K in tax-free income every single year. Youre welcome. As for death, we cant tell you how to avoid that yet but were going to let you know when that nut gets cracked becauselife extension science is the hip thing for billionaires to invest in at the moment.

In an article last year, we touched on the topic of aging which is an easier theme to discuss than death, but we didnt quite get into the bigger picture of extending life. There is actually a field on extending life called life extension science in which anti-aging is one of just many broad themes. Life extension sciencecomes in many names such as anti-aging medicine, experimental gerontology, biomedical gerontology, and indefinite life extension. Heres the textbook definition:

Life extension science is the study of reversing or slowing down the processes of aging to extend the average or maximum lifespan.

According to Zion Market Research, the global demand for the anti-aging marketwas valued at $140.3 billion in 2015, and is expected to reach $216.52 billion by 2021. Medical experts, however, declared that the use of these products has not proven to have any effect on the aging process, a reason medical practitioners do not want to equate life extension science to the anti-aging industry identified closely with cosmetics and dermatology.

There seem to be two major schools of thoughts on dealing with prolonging life expectancy: life prior to death and life after clinical death. Life prior to death seem to have the most investment support, probably because its easier to invest in andwrite a check yourself while youre still alive. There are many ways to approach life extension including the following:

Curing age-related diseases or attacking the root cause of aging seem to hold the most promise because of the recent advances in genetics. Curing cancer is still in the detection and diagnostic era with a real cure still years to go. There will likely never be a single cure for cancer, but many different advancements such as earlier detection which reduces the mortality rate by up to 90% for some cancers. In the future, your smart toilet will read your urine in the morning and detect the cancer while your smart smoothie maker will automatically mixin aproper prescription so that by the time you get to work fire up your virtual reality simulator, youll be cured.

Digging deeper into nanotechnology, cloning, genetic modification, and SENS, you will realize, it is all about attacking the challenge of aging at the molecular or cellular level. (The exception is cyborg technology where you replace partly or wholly the human body with robotic technology). Were going to just dive right into 7 companies that are attacking the root cause of aging.

We last wrote about Human Longevity (HLI)in April of last year when they officially became a unicorn after taking in a $220 million Series B round bringing their total funding to $300 million. Last month they hired Cynthia Collins as their new Chief Executive Officer replacing Craig Venter, Ph.D., Co-founder and former CEO, who will remain at HLI as Executive Chairman and will continue to guide scientific vision and strategy. HLI unveiled their genome search engine last October 2016, in which they were exploringindividual human genomes in great detail. At that time, they had already sequenced 10,545 human genomesand went on to state:

The 10,545 human genomes are part of the HLIs database, which currently contains more than 30,000 high-quality genomic and phenotypic integrated health records. HLIs goal is to have one million integrated health records in the database by 2020.

With $300 million, theyre well on their way to building the worlds largest and most comprehensive database of whole genome, phenotype and clinical data.

Just last month, Google Alphabet took in a whopping $800 million investment into their life sciences branch Verily which makes us feel better about the fact that we havent heard squat lately from Calico. We first discussed theCalifornia Life Company (Calico) back in 2014 and since then this stealth mode startup has murmured very little about what they are doing with the staggering $1.5 billion in funding they have on hand. Since Larry Page of Google, its main advocate, is more driven by the technical challenge of solving the mysteries of ROI rather than aging, informing the public of Calicos progress isnt really on the top of his agenda.

One interesting anti-aginglife extension science company we covered before wasElysium Health. Unfortunately,the only news this startup is turning out lately isbad news. The only supplier of the two key ingredients (pterostilbene and nicotinamide riboside) in Elysiums anti-aging pill, Basis, just filed a lawsuit against Elysium this January 2017, for failing to make payments and for breach of royalties and trademark agreements. Added to this is a growing public criticism of Elysiums general marketing campaign which consumers believe ismisleading. Apparently, Basis which seem to be the only unique value proposition for Elysium is not the only company marketing pills containing the key ingredients pterostilbene and Nicotinamide Riboside (NR). ChromaDex, Elysiums only supplier of these ingredients, is also a supplier (probably the only supplier) of these same ingredients to dozens of other anti-aging brands under the trademark NIAGEN. Since they have 30 of the worlds top scientists on staff they should be able to think of a wayto clean this mess up.

Unity Biotechnology, Inc., a startup incorporated in 2009, is in the business of preventing, reversing, and halting the various diseases attributed to aging by working on senescent cells. Heres how they describe it:

Cellular senescence is a biological emergency brake cells use to stop dividing. Its an important anti-tumor mechanism, because it prevents cells from multiplying out of control. But after this brake has been pulled, senescent cells remain in the body, accumulating with age. And unlike normal cells, these cells secrete inflammatory molecules that harm neighboring cellsand tissues

And heres their pipeline:

The Company completed a Series B funding of $116 millionin October 2016 so they have plenty of funds to execute. Not surprisingly,Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPalis an investor alongside some big names like Fidelity, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Paul Allen of Microsoft.

SENS Research Foundation or Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation is not actually a business startup but a 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 2009 by Aubrey de Grey. Peter Thielputs in $600,000 a year, while its founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, provides $5 million annually for this research foundation. SENS Foundations research emphasizes the use of regenerative medicine to age-related disease, with the intention of repairing damage to our bodys tissues, cells, and molecular processes.

Speaking of Peter Thiel, we all know whathes been up to and it makes some people question just how groundedthe man really is. Hes all over the news because of something thats downright uncomfortable for us to think about. Thats right, Peter Thiel is said to be thinking about getting blood transfusions from young men to help stop the effects of aging. Its a life extension science called parabiosis which is currently being investigated by at least two startups.

Mr. Thiel presently sits on the board of a startup called Alkahest which is studying the effects of parabiosis. $4.5 billion Spanish plasma company Grifols (NASDAQ:GRFS) owns 45% of the Company so theres a way for retail investors to get a bit of exposure. Theyre operating in stealth mode so not a lotof information available except for recent news that they appointed a Chief Medical Officer.

Alkahest isnt the only startupexploring parabiosis. According to an article by Vice Magazine, a Silicon Valley company called Ambrosia is working on human clinical trials. They charge $8,000 for the privilege of participating in the study and apparently at least 600 people signed up.Sounds like those young bloodshave something to offer us after all.

So there weve given you 7solid companies looking to extend your life span. Maybe you should slap some dollars in a robo-advisor like Betterment just in case you live to be 130 because soon thats going to happen. Of course this opens up a whole can of worms about sustainability of our planet. For those of you who are going to be nice and just die so the rest of us can live longer with more resources, we will still hook you up.

There are those who believe the possibility of life after you are clinically dead. These are advocates who put up companies that build facilities for cryonics and for uploading your mind into some machine. Mind uploading is an exciting space to explore because of the possible merging of current technologies such as brain activity mapping, AI, BCI, and machine learning. Still, there are companies catering to those who simply believe in being remembered and having a purpose even after death such as Bios for its environmentally friendly burial urns and Capsula Mundi for its burial pods. That whole mind uploading thing sounds amazing so we may have to cover that in a future article. Stay tuned and enjoy all those tax-free $$$.

Looking to buy shares in companies before they IPO?A company called Motif Investing lets you buy pre-IPO shares in companies that are led by JP Morgan. You can open an account with Motif with no deposit required so that you are ready to buy pre-IPO shares when they are offered.

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Life Extension Science Live Forever and Don't Pay Taxes - Nanalyze

A UO lab digs into worms in the quest to lengthen human life – AroundtheO

In a collaborative project, the UOs Patrick Phillips tackles a problem of reproducibility while studying potential anti-aging compounds

Worms. Might they help us live a healthier and longer life?

Extending human life in ways that keep people both healthy and productive is a goal of many scientists, including the UO's Patrick Phillips.

His latest project, which he leads in collaboration with two other U.S. institutions, may not immediately move us closer to extending human life beyond the national average of 79. It has, however, opened a window on how basic research that which seeks fundamental knowledge about how something works should be done to harness robust results that speed progress toward medical advances.

In a new paper published Feb. 21 in the high-profile journal Nature Communications, Phillips and 33 collaborators got right to the heart of the challenge: Too many laboratory findings are not reproducible, and the genetic makeup of model organisms often responds differently to compounds thought to offer promise.

"Aging is universal. It is complex. Individuals die for many different reasons, so there is a lot of noise in the system," said Phillips, a professor of biology and acting executive director of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. "It is a challenge to figure out the elements necessary to change the process. To do this you have to approach the question at a scale that has never been done before. That's what our paper is about."

In their study, Phillips nine-member UO team and researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California and Rutgers University in New Jersey carefully carried out experiments using identical protocols. They simultaneously tested the effects of 10 different compounds on life extension across 22 diverse genetic backgrounds drawn from three species of roundworms.

"This is the largest aging study that has ever been done on an animal hundreds of thousands of individuals have been tested," Phillips said.

Our study indicates that even when following the same methods, insufficient replication of trials could account for failures to reproduce previous studies, the research team noted in the paper. Our focus on rigorously adhering to defined methods to reduce variability between sites necessitated making choices about specific methodologies for which there was no standard across the field.

Locations of worm strains

Across the labs, the researchers identified six compounds that extended the lifespan in one strain of worms. Overall, two compounds had positive results across the various strains, with an amyloid dye, Thioflavin T, being the most effective; two other compounds offered promise under specific conditions. Genetic differences among the species are comparable to those found in mice and humans, the researchers noted.

More details about the science and Thioflavin T are covered in a news release issued by the Buck Institute.

Future experiments, Phillips said, will test these and other promising compounds in genetically diverse strains of roundworm species to see how they perform. Eventually, the most widely acting compounds could advance into testing in other animal models and, eventually, in human clinical trials.

The research emerged from three-year grants to each of the three collaborating institutions from the National Institutes of Health. It is part of an extension of the National Institute on Agings decade-old Intervention Testing Program that has targeted aging studies using mice at three other institutions. The roundworm project is known as the Caenorhabditis Intervention Testing Program.

Roundworms, which have a lifespan of two to three weeks, have a simple genetic makeup that is similar to mice, which in laboratories can live up to three years. Thus, Phillips noted, more individual worms can be used more cheaply in the course of experiments that span the life cycle.

Compounds that have been found to extend life in worms and mice have proved so far to be limited to organisms with a particular genetic background.


This is a dark side of studying a model organism, Phillips said. You have genetic uniformity in worms and mice, but humans are not genetically uniform. We know that different individuals respond differently to drugs and that the cause of disease is often different in each individual. Overcoming those limitations is a big part of the push toward personalized medicine.

From the outset, he said, the roundworm project has been about reproducibility in a way that mirrors the approaches used by the institutions studying mice.

We've had to invest a lot of time in coordinating activities, Phillips said. That's often an unstated part of the difficulty of doing science. For this, we've written hundreds of pages of standard operating procedures to try to normalize the research process.

There is a history in aging studies where one lab finds a result but another lab cannot reproduce it," he said. "Cancer studies are the same. Only about 25 percent of studies can be reproduced with similar results. This is a big emerging issue in science now, so we feel like our study is one of the best on reproducibility that has ever been produced.

For the project, the leaders of the three labs brought different specialties of nematode biology to the table: Phillips is an expert in evolutionary genetics; Gordon J. Lithgow of the Buck Institute is a specialist on chemical interventions; and Rutgers Monica Driscoll is an aging and health expert.

Can we expect to see extended human lifespans soon?

What we find in this worm may or may not work in mice or humans, Phillips said. We're looking at things that affect fundamental cellular processes that are conserved genetically across all animals.

Carrying basic research forward is a goal of the Knight Campus, a $1 billion initiative designed to accelerate the cycle of generating impact from discoveries. The Knight Campus, which has seen some recent behind-the-scences progress on staffing and the selection of architects and general contractors, will foster exchanges of ideas among basic-science researchers with applied scientists and entrepreneurs to foster that translational process.

With this research, you are seeing the classic impact cycle, Phillips said. You have a guy working in a most esoteric part of evolutionary biology something that you'd generally think could have no general impacts just to gain understanding about something about the world. It is important, but in terms of affecting human health, who knows? Understanding genetic variation is being recognized as being more important each day. And so what once seemed esoteric is now important for understanding translational medicine.

As scientists expand into studying stress and aging in terms of natural genetic variation in different species, then my area's unique contributions fit into a broader scale. We're looking at compounds in a way thats never been done before. We are identifying compounds that can affect health and aging, he said. What do we do with that?

The point is not to make worms live a long time. It's how we use the information. How might this translate a decade from now into something that could go into human clinical trials to try to help people to live longer healthier lives? Can we turn this basic research into something that is relevant? Are there potential drugs that could?

That could be a Knight Campus story, Phillips said.

By Jim Barlow, University Communications

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A UO lab digs into worms in the quest to lengthen human life - AroundtheO

When Screening for Disease, Risk is as Important to Consider as … – University of Virginia

Physicians and patients like to believe that early detection of cancer extends life, and quality of life. If a cancer is present, you want to know early, right?

Not so fast.

An analysis of cancer screenings by a University of Virginia statistician and a researcher at the National Cancer Institute indicates that early diagnosis of a cancer does not necessarily result in a longer life than without an early diagnosis. And screenings such as mammograms for breast cancer and prostate-specific antigen tests for prostate cancer come with built-in risks, such as results mistakenly indicating the presence of cancer (false positives), as well as missed diagnoses (false negatives). Patients may undergo harsh treatments that diminish quality of life while not necessarily extending it.

Yet the benefits of early diagnosis through screening often are touted over the risks.

It is difficult to estimate the effect of over-diagnosis, but the risk of over-diagnosis is a factor that should be considered, said Karen Kafadar, a UVA statistics professor and co-author of a study being presented Sunday at a session of the 2017 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. How many diagnosed cases would never have materialized in a persons lifetime, and gone successfully untreated? Treatments sometimes can cause harm, and can shorten life or reduce quality of life.

Kafadar is not advocating against screening, but her findings show that frequent screening comes with its own risks.

As a metric for evaluation, reduction in mortality is considered the standard. So if a disease results in 10 deaths per 100,000 people in a year, and screening reduces the deaths to six per 100,000 people, then there seems to be an impressive 40 percent reduction in mortality.

However, a more meaningful metric, Kafadar said, may be: How much longer can a person whose case was screen-detected be expected to live, versus a case that was diagnosed only after clinical symptoms appeared? This issue becomes harder to discern how long a patient survives after a diagnosis versus how long the patient might have lived anyway. Some cancer cases might never become apparent during a persons lifetime without screening, but with screening might be treated unnecessarily, such as for a possibly non-aggressive cancer. And some aggressive forms of disease may shorten life even when caught early through screening.

Kafadar and her collaborator, National Cancer Institute statistician Philip Prorok, gathered long-term data from several study sources, including health insurance plans and the National Cancer Institutes recently completed long-term randomized control trial on prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer, to consider several factors affecting the value of screening over-diagnosis, lead time on a diagnosis and other statistical distortions to look at not just how many people die, but also life extension.

People die anyway of various causes, Kafadar said, but most individuals likely are more interested in, How much longer will I live? Unfortunately, screening tests are not always accurate, but we like to believe they are.

Because the paper considers together the factors that affect statistical understanding of the effectiveness of screening, rather than looking at each of these factors in isolation as previous studies have done, it offers a new statistical methodology for teasing out the relative effects of cancer screenings benefits and risks.

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When Screening for Disease, Risk is as Important to Consider as ... - University of Virginia

Should We Die? – The Atlantic

So, you dont want to die? I asked Zoltan Istvan, then the Transhumanist candidate for president, as we sat in the lobby of the University of Baltimore one day last fall.

No, he said, assuredly. Never.

Istvan, an atheist who physically resembles the pure-hearted hero of a Soviet childrens book, explained that his life is awesome. In the future, it will grow awesomer still, and he wants to be the one to decide when it ends. Defying aging was the point of his presidential campaign, the slogan of which could have been Make Death Optional for Once. To (literally) drive the point home, he circled the nation in the Immortality Bus, a brown bus spray-painted to look like a coffin.

He knew hed lose, of course, but he wanted his candidacy to promote the cause of transhumanismthe idea that technology will allow humans to break free of their physical and mental limitations. His platform included, in part, declaring aging a disease. He implanted a chip in his hand so he could wave himself through his front door, and he wants to get his kids chipped, too. Hed be surprised, he told me, if soon we dont start merging our children with machines. Hed like to replace his limbs with bionics so he can throw perfectly in water polo. Most of all, he wants to stick around for a couple centuries to see it all happen, perhaps joining a band or becoming a professional surfer, a long white beard trailing in his wake.

Istvan made his fortunes in the real-estate business, but in 2003, he was working as a reporter for National Geographic in Vietnam when he almost tripped a landmine. The experience shook him so badly he quit journalism and devoted his life to transhumanism. I thought, death is horrible, he told me. How can we get around it?

But his central goalpushing the human lifespan far beyond the record 122 years and possibly into eternityis one shared by many futurists in Silicon Valley and beyond. Investor Peter Thiel, who sees death as the great enemy of man, is writing checks to researchers like Cynthia Kenyon, who doubled the life-spans of worms through gene-hacking, as the Washington Post reported last April. Oracle founder Larry Ellison has thrown hundreds of millions toward anti-aging research, according to Inc magazine, and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched the Google subsidiary Calico specifically with the goal of curing death. Under President Donald Trump, the quest for immortality might pick up steam: Among the candidates he is reportedly considering to head the Food and Drug Administration is Jim ONeill, who sits on the board of the anti-aging SENS Research Foundation.

Some life-extension endeavors are already here. Several companies already offer cryogenic freezing to people who wish to have their dead bodies cooled with liquid nitrogen and stored for centuries, with the hope that new medical technologies will by then be available to re-animate them. A British teenager who sued for the right to be cryogenically frozen after her death from cancer in October now floats in frosty slumber in a Michigan cryostat facility.

Meanwhile, scientists in California are expected to launch a clinical trial in which participants will have their blood cleaned of age-related proteins, the Guardian reported, with the goal of helping them live longer and healthier lives. A drug called rapamycin, which extended the lives of mice by a quarter, is also being tested. The thinking is, if we figure out what chemical event signals to the body that its time to wrap things up, said Sheldon Solomon, a psychology professor at Skidmore College, you could be at a certain age for a long time.

The billionaire technologists obsession with living forever can approach a sort of parody. Oracles Ellison once said, Death makes me very angry"suggesting this pillar of nature is just another consumer pain-point to be relieved with an app.

But lets assume, for the sake of argument, that it can be. Lets say human lives will soon get radically longeror even become unending. The billionaires will get their way, and death will become optional.

If we really are on the doorstep of radical longevity, its worth considering how it will change human society. With no deadline, will we still be motivated to finish things? (As a writer, I assure you this is difficult.) Or will we while away our endless days, amusing ourselves towell, the Process Formerly Known as Deathwhile we overpopulate the planet? Will Earth become a paradise of eternally youthful artists, or a hellish, depleted nursing home? The answers depend on, well, ones opinion about the meaning of life.

I didnt realize how much mainstream support there was for eternal life until I had dinner with a friend who, its worth noting, is even more traditional than I amhes not even on Twitter.

I interviewed this guy who wants to live forever, I said. Isnt that wild?

What do you mean? my friend asked. You dont want to live forever?

If he never died, he explained, he could finally pursue all the hobbies and dreams hes never had time for. Even alternate careers, like architecture. (Hes a lawyer.) Hes never quite understood calculus, but with all the time in the world, he could master it. He would take a sabbatical every four years to travel the world.

Ill admit, his passion for a long life of solving integrals and kayaking through rainforests did drag me closer to the immortality corner. Even if I extended my life by just a few years, I could finally get to the bottom of my Netflix and Pocket queues.

And I had been silently dismissing life-extension enthusiasts spiels about seeing their great-great-grandkids grow up, since I dont have kids and probably never will.

Butbutif I was certain I could stay sharp and energetic well into my 90s, maybe my stance on motherhood would change. I wouldnt worry so much about kids cutting into my productivity if my ability to produce was limitless. Sure, Id probably have a few sleepless nights and groggy days in the early years. (Unless, of course, Silicon Valley really gets cracking on those robot wet-nurses.) But once Olga Jr. was out of the house and working as a Martian News correspondent or whatever, I could more than make up for lost time.

This feeling of abundant possibility is one of the chief motivations of the pro-longevity crowd. Projects and ambitions like mastering every musical instrument in the orchestra, writing a book in each of all the major languages, planting a new garden and seeing it mature, teaching ones great-great-grandchildren how to fish, traveling to Alpha Centauri, or just seeing history unfold over a few hundred years are not realistic: there is simply not enough time to achieve them given current life expectancy, wrote Nick Bostrom, an Oxford philosopher and grand-daddy of life-extension (so to speak), with fellow philosopher Rebecca Roache in 2008. But, they continue, if we could reasonably expect from an early age to live indefinitely, we could embark on projects designed to keep us occupied for hundreds or thousands of years.

Among the many downsides of dying is the prospect of never reaching ones full potential. Right now, Im projected to die when Im about 82. But what if it takes me until I'm 209 to write the great American blog post?

Still, a common fear about life in our brave, new undying world is that it will just be really boring, says S. Matthew Liao, director of the Center for Bioethics at New York University. Life, Liao explained, is like a partyit has a start and end time. We get excited because the partys going on for an hour, and we dont want to miss it. We try to make the most of it while were there.

But imagine theres a party that doesnt end, he continued. It would be bad, because youd think, I could go there tomorrow, or a month from now. Theres no urgency to go to the party anymore.

The Epicureans of ancient Greece thought about it similarly, Solomon said. They saw life as a feast: If you were at a meal, youd be satiated, then stuffed, then repulsed, he said. Part of what makes each of us uniquely valuable is the great story. We have a plot, and ultimately it concludes.

Dan McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, explains that people make sense of their lives through narrative arcs. Without an ending, there cant be a story. How would we process life events differently, given infinite do-overs? For example, because we have a vague sense that people are supposed to die at roughly 80, we now grieve people who die at 20 more than those who die at 78. But if people began living to 500, that might change, McAdams pointed out. There might be far more tragedy in the world if were mourning the loss of every 90-year-old the way we now would a child. Were just so much trained by evolution and culture to know that our life is going to be relatively short and constrained, he said, and to be somewhat cautious so we dont screw it all up. (Of course, if technology also makes us smarter as it makes us live longer, who knows what types of new arcs well construct for ourselves.)

Bostrom dismisses the thought that theres something about impending death that adds meaning or motivation to our days. It often seems the young are most energetically pursuing different kinds of activities, and the closer you get to death, the more people lean back, he told me. Partly its due to their reduced energy and health.

Which, of course, he hopes we can fix.

Once living longer becomes possible, who will get to do it? Istvan believes life-extension technology should be available to everyone, not just the wealthy. He supports a universal health-care system with life extension as one of its core benefits. (Health-care costs wouldnt spiral out of control, he and some others think, because the longer-living humans would also be healthier. Istvan plans to pay for this universal Zoltancare by selling government land in the western United States.)

Others believe that soon after life-extending technology becomes available, the price will drop rapidly and it will become attainable by mostjust as occurred with personal computers.

But the worry in the short-term, is what happens? The rich could get richer and the poor could get poorer, Liao said. Because the rich could afford to extend their lives first, and life-extenders could amass more resources over the course of their long lives, income inequality could grow even more profound.

Then again, thats how things work now. If someone comes up with a new cancer drug, we dont say lets not use it until every person has access to it, Bostrom told me. By that logic, we should stop kidney transplants.

Even if eternal life gets equitably distributed, theres still the problem of what to do with all the excess centenarians running around. Eventually, were going to run out of room here on Earth. One solution would be to dramatically curtail reproduction, focusing instead on the health and longevity of those already here. As the philosopher Jan Narveson put it, we are in favor of making people happy, but neutral about making happy people. That might mean, though, that you wont have a great-great-great-grandkid to attend the dance-recitals of.

There is a chance that worrying less about death might short-circuit our naturally tribalist natures, easing resource-allocation issues in the process. Solomon, the Skidmore psychologist, researches terror management theory, which suggests the knowledge of our eventual demise makes people psychologically retrench. Being reminded of death causes study subjects to adhere more firmly to their existing worldview, mistrust outsiders more, and even to, ahem, support charismatic leaders who may not be very qualified. So in some ways, eliminating the prospect of death might make us want to ratify all the climate treaties and equitably divvy up the worlds food supply.

... That is, of course, unless immortality has the opposite effect, making us paranoid that well die too soon for no reason. After all, even if we can eliminate aging, we cant eliminate chance. Lets say you expected to live to 5,000 and your heads being frozen, theres a power outage, and it turns into a pile of mush, Solomon said. We might become even more hyper-vigilant.

Liao and others think one answer to the overcrowding problem might be interstellar space travelwhich, they assume, will be invented by then. When Earth turns into an overpopulated dump, Liao says, the immortal can just hop between planets.

I told him an eternity spent on Venus among youthful billionaires does not appeal to me.

What if all your friends go to Venus? he asked. He offered an earthly comparison: Youll be here while everyones in Brooklyn?

(Everyones already in Brooklyn, though, and Im still here in Northern Virginia.)

Space travel is also how Liao envisions us overcoming the boredom problem. Right now, the journey between solar systems is too long for a human to accomplish in a normal lifespan, but with life extension, that wont be a concern anymore. We wont run out of things to do, the thinking goes, because there will always be another planet to explore. Well all cheerfully grow old aboard our interstellar minivan.

And in general, Liao explained, humans engage in lots of pleasures that arent repetitive, like forming new relationships, making music, learning things, and experiencing natural wonders.

If thats what human existence is about, and you can continue to do that, why not be able to live longer? he asked me.

I guess I do like hiking, I said.

You might even enjoy hiking on Mars, he said.

Eh, dont push it.

* * *

The somber side to the debate is whether life extension will cause us to lose our appreciation for natural human vulnerability. In other words, society might begin to preference those who have swallowed anti-aging drugs, making un-enhanced humans a sort of rotting underclass.

Parents who have babies with mild disabilities might be blamed for not doing Gattaca, as Liao puts it. (Istvans platform reads, Develop science and technology to be able to eliminate all disabilities in humans who have them.) Well have to wrestle with whether those who dont take fountain-of-youth pills should be charged more for health insurance. Worse yet, by jetting off to a new planet, the enhanced and immortal could abandon Earth to mere mortals, the cruelest and most extreme form of segregation.

Life-extensionists zeal for perfect cells does, to some, sound like an invective against uniqueness. Thats what Melinda Hall, a philosophy professor at Stetson University and author of a recent book about transhumanism, takes issue with. People with disability are saying, this is a primary part of my identity, she told me, so when youre saying you want to get rid of disability, it sounds genocidal.

Istvan dismisses disability-rights advocates as a fringe minority, saying I would bet my arm that the great majority of disabled people will be very happy when transhumanist technology gives them the opportunity to fulfill their potential. (Betting your arm is, of course, no biggie when you can just get a bionic one.)

In general, Hall said, the transhumanists have the wrong idea about the problems facing humanity. People are going to be starving and dying, but were going to build a colony on Mars? she said, Thats going to cost billions of dollars, and I think that should be spent somewhere else.

Of course, that wont stop the billionaires from following their dreams. Perhaps our best hope is that on the path to immortality, theyll discover something useful to broader swathes of society. Metformin, an old diabetes drug recently shown to extend the life of animals, is now being tested as an anti-aging pill. If it really does allow people to stay healthy in old age, some would regard it a public health revolutioneven if it fails to help Peter Thiel meet his cyborg-descendants in 2450.

In that way, todays life extensionists might follow the proud tradition of other explorers who shot for another galaxy and ended up straddling the moon. The alchemists write about trying to find elixirs of gold and immortality. They never find that, but they discovered chemistry, Solomon said. Ponce de Leon never found the fountain of youth, but he found Florida.

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Should We Die? - The Atlantic

Evolution approves Cowal life extension project – Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly

PERTH ( Gold miner Evolution Mining has approved developments at its Cowal mine, in New South Wales, which will increase the mine life by eight years to 2032.

The expansion project earlier this month received New South Wales regulatory approvals.

The mine life extension project will see production increasing by 1.2-million ounces, with the dual leach project to entail implementation of an additional leaching circuit designed to recover gold from the flotation tailings stream.

Evolution noted that detailed metallurgical testwork has verified that overall plant recovery can be increased by 4% to 6%, which could increase gold production by between 10 000 oz/y and 14 000 oz/y.

Between A$35-million and A$40-million will be spent over 2018 and 2019, with commissioning of the project expected in early 2019.

Securing the mine life of this high-quality cornerstone asset for at least 15 years provides a strong platform to continue to grow our business, said Evolution executive chairperson Jake Klein.

Cowal has generated a net mine cash flow of A$253-million, representing 36% of the A$703-million purchase price, in the six quarters since Evolution acquired it in July 2015. Over that period, ore reserves have also increased by 2.28-million gold ounces, or 145%.

The ore reserve is currently estimated at 116.7-million tonnes, at 0.85 g/t gold for 3.2-million ounces, while the resource is estimated at 177.6-million tonnes, at 0.88 g/t gold for just over five-million ounces.

The implementation of the dual leach project will also enable the incremental cotreatment of existing stockpiles of high-grade oxide ore reserves.

While studies are ongoing, this has the potential to bring forward an additional 10 000 oz/y to 12 000 oz/y of gold production from 2020 onward. However, a further modification to the mining permit will be required before this can be implemented.

Further, throughput improvements from the current 7.5-million-tonne-a-year to 9.5-million-tonne-a-year are also being assessed as an opportunity to deliver economies of scale, bring forward the treatment of low-grade stockpiles and reduce ore rehandling. Klein said this would involve the introduction of a secondary crusher to the plant.

This project was currently in the scoping phase and would also require a modification of the current mining permit.

Meanwhile, Evolution on Thursday reported a 26% increase in underlying net profit for the six months to December 31, compared with the previous corresponding period, with record underlying net profit recorded at A$136.3-million.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) were also up by 21% to A$345.3-million, while revenue increased by 17% to A$711.2-million.

During the interim period, group gold production increased by 12% to 423 120 oz, while average C1 cash costs were reported at A$667/oz, compared with the A$700/oz reported in the previous corresponding period.

Gold production during the period under review increased on the back of the acquisition of the Ernest Henry mine, in Queensland, which delivered 14 257 oz of gold in the December quarter.

The record half-year underlying net profit and an Ebitda margin of 50% is a clear reflection of the quality of Evolutions asset portfolio and consistent operational performance, Klein said on Thursday.

With Ernest Henry only contributing for two months of the [six months to] December, we expect further improvement once the full impact of this asset on group costs and cash flow becomes evident.

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Evolution approves Cowal life extension project - Creamer Media's Mining Weekly

Major South African coal extension project on cards South32 – Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly

JOHANNESBURG ( A decision will be taken in the June quarter on go-ahead for the Klipspruit Life Extension coal project in Mpumalanga, which is said to have robust economics.

The original BHP Billiton capital expenditure (capex) of $500-million-plus for the two-year development has been more than halved under South32 to below $250-million, South32 CEO Graham Kerr told Creamer Medias Mining Weekly Online during a media conference call.

While the Klipspruit Life Extension coal project is export orientated and earmarked to make use of existing rail access, its location in relation to Eskoms new coal-fired Kusile power station, which is under construction, could see it playing a role in domestic supply.

All the key environmental approvals have been obtained and the go-ahead decision will be made at the end of South32s current financial year on June 30.

Certainly, as Ive been watching the project go through, its had very robust economics, said Kerr.

During the last 18 months of project study, the South32 team under president and COO Africa Mike Fraser has maximised optionalities, given the long-term uncertainty in the arbitrage between domestic and export.

What weve been able to introduce into this project is a lot of flexibility, which has enabled us to reduce capital but also to give us optionality should the market strengthen out of our current prediction range. There is certainly potential for a long life out of this resource Fraser told Mining Weekly Online.

Project capital expenditure (capex) of $30-million is expected in this financial year to June 30, to fund study costs and the acquisition of land in preparation for the Klipspruit Life Extension project.

After a turnaround from loss to profit in the half-year to December 31, cash-rich South32 has resolved to pay an interim dividend of $0.036 a share for the half-year ended December 31, which means a dishing out of $192-million to shareholders from the pile of cash it generated in the period, compared with the corresponding period's loss, which was impacted by the recognition of impairment charges totalling $1.7-billion.

The company came away with 197%-higher free cash of $626-million to boost its net cash position to $859-million on operational optimisation and leverage.

The rise in profit came as revenue climbed 8% to $3.2-billion.

Compared with the first half of 2016, controllable costs were cut by $239-million and capex by $116-million.

Capex guidance for this financial year remains unchanged at $450-million.

Exploration expenditure of $16-million is expected within the companys existing footprint, with exploration already started on high-grade manganese within the southern areas of Groote Eylandt, in Australia.

Continued pursuit of additional greenfield exploration opportunities could lead to an increase in expenditure.

The corporate tax rates applicable to the group include Australia at 30%, South Africa at 28%, Colombia at 40% and Brazil at 34%.

Better prices for metallurgical coal, energy coal, manganese ore and manganese alloy were the main contributors to increasing revenue by $661-million.

Higher average realised silver, lead and zinc prices increased sales revenue and chipped in an additional $93-million, but lower average realised prices for alumina cut revenue by $39-million.

Price-linked costs fell by $47-million on lower raw material prices at the alumina and aluminium operations and a reduction in treatment and refining charges for Cannington silver concentrates.

An increase in controllable costs is anticipated in the six months to June 30 as working capital unwinds.

The Sydney-, Johannesburg- and London-listed BHP Billiton spinoffs swing to profit included its restarting of 22 pots at Aluminium South Africa, which were taken offline in September 2015, as well as the opportunistic increase of manganese ore production in the wake of manganeses price surge.


With 22 pots that were suspended in September 2015 back on stream, South32s Hillside aluminium smelter is back at full tilt.

Saleable production from Hillside, which sources power from State utility Eskom under long-term contracts, increased by 1% to 356 000 t in the six months to December 31, on fewer load-shedding events.

We continue to identify opportunities for further energy efficiency but we are very happy at the current level of efficiency, said Fraser.

Operating unit costs fell by 8% to $1 380/t on lower raw material prices and a weaker South African rand offsetting higher aluminium price-linked power costs.

Some 72 pots are scheduled to be relined this year.

The price of electricity supplied to potlines 1 and 2 is linked to the London Metal Exchange (LME) aluminium price and the rand/dollar exchange rate. The price of electricity supplied to potline 3 is rand based and linked to South African and US producer price indices.

Saleable production from Mozal Aluminium, in Mozambique, increased by 2% to 136 000 t in the six months to December 31, with an 11% increase in sales reflecting the timing of shipments between periods.

Operating unit costs decreased by 12% to $1 448/t in the first half of the 2017 financial year, reflecting stronger sales and lower raw materials prices.

A total of 39 Mozal pots were relined in the period at $193 000 a pot, compared with 69 pots at $212 000 a pot in the corresponding period of the previous financial year.

A total of 106 pots are now scheduled to be relined in this financial year.

Mozal Aluminium uses hydroelectric power generated by Hidroelctrica de Cahora Bassa, which delivers power into the South African grid to Eskom, with Mozal sourcing the power through the Mozambique transmission company, Motraco.

We get some protection in terms of the cost of the Hillside business when the LME price goes down and foreign exchange doesnt work in our favour. So, it provides a bit of a natural hedge, whereas we dont get that same benefit at Mozal. But likewise, as the exchange goes the other way and we actually see aluminium prices increase, we get more out of Mozal than we do out of Hillside, Kerr said in response to Mining Weekly Online.


The block development project at the Wessels underground manganese mine in South Africas Northern Cape will reduce cycle times by allowing mining activity to relocate closer to critical infrastructure. Commissioning is expected in the March 2017 quarter.

Manganese alloy saleable production fell 20% to 37 000 t on furnace instability at Metalloys in South Africas Gauteng province, where only one of the four manganese furnaces is operating, compared with all four of the manganese furnaces at Temco, in Australia, being expected to return to full capacity once scheduled maintenance is completed in the March quarter.

Saleable ore production from South32s 44.4%-owned South Africa manganese mines increased by 23% to 934 000 wet metric tons (wmt) with market conditions supporting a drawdown of Wessels concentrate stockpiles and the use of higher cost trucking to access export opportunities.

Wessels concentrate accounted for 15% of external sales in the six months to December 31, compared with 4% in the prior corresponding period.

Manganese ore production from South Africa will remain configured for an optimised rate of 2.9-million wmt a year, with opportunistic action when market fundamentals are supportive.

Tragically, the company lost an employee in the half-year, which has prompted it to invest time, energy and leadership in make a lasting change to its safety performance.

The fatality at Metalloys has hit very hard and new practice to avoid a recurrence has been shared across the group.

Permanent processes have been embarked upon following the internal investigation, supplemented by external engagements.


At South Africa Energy Coal, coal production guidance is 30.9-million tonnes, 17-million tonnes of it for the domestic market and 13.9-million tonnes for export.

The $103-million impact in the period of the lower production at South Africa Energy Coal followed the suspension of the North plant at the Wolvekrans Middelburg Complex, scheduled maintenance and the repositioning of draglines.

Saleable production from the 92%-owned South Africa Energy Coal decreased by 9% to 14.8-million tonnes in the six months to December 31, reflecting the prior suspension of the North plant at the Wolvekrans Middelburg Complex, and export sales were also impacted by Transnet's yearly rail maintenance cycle.

Future production will benefit from additional capital investment at the Wolvekrans Middelburg Complex that will open up new mining areas.

In Australia, steps to acquire Metropolitan Colliery, to realise synergies with Illawarra Metallurgical Coal in Australia, are well advanced and the access agreement for Worsley Alumina in the West Marradong mining area is being completed.

In South America, unlocking more value at Cerro Matosos La Esmeralda nickel prospect is envisaged. In Canada, exploration for copper, nickel and platinum group element mineralisation at Huckleberry is being started.

Underlying earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortisation increased by $522-million to $1.1-billion in the six months to December 31, as higher prices for most of its commodities offset lower volumes, giving rise to an increase in sales revenue of $240-million and a rise in operating margin from 20% to 37%.

Our strong balance sheet and simple capital management framework is designed to reward shareholders as financial performance improves.

We have declared our first interim dividend and will continue to manage our financial position to ensure we retain the right balance of flexibility and efficiency, Kerr told journalists.

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Major South African coal extension project on cards South32 - Creamer Media's Mining Weekly

Batteroo Boost, The Battery Life Extender Is Now Available Worldwide – PR Newswire (press release)

Crafted from stainless steel, less than 0.1 millimeter thin, Batteroo boost sleeves slip over disposable batteries to increase the usable lifespan of different battery operated devices such as children's toys, flashlights, remote controls, wireless keyboards, video game controllers, portable radios, and blood pressure monitors. Batteroo is currently available for AA, AAA, C, and D-cell batteries, and retail prices start at $10.00 for a pack of four.

While many battery-operated devices stop working due to "Dead" Batteries, Often, there is still a significant amount of energy left in those "Dead" batteries. Batteroo Boost's electronic-circuitry taps into the battery's remaining energy, resulting in significant performance improvement and useable life extension. By increasing the time consumers can use their battery operated devices before needing to replace their batteries, Batteroo Boost saves them money resulting from buying fewer batteries, saves our planet by reducing the number of batteries that end up in landfills, and saves energy and raw material used to produce and transport fewer batteries around the globe.

Of the reported 15 billion disposable batteries that are sold each year, only two percent are recycled properly, according to estimates. If we line up the batteries that are thrown away, they would circle the earth more than 18 times, each year. Battery manufacturing was listed as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in a 2010 study conducted by the California Department of Resources Recycling. The Batteroo Boost technology offers a solution to reduce this unnecessary waste and resulting harm to our environment.

"Disposable Batteries, while allowing us to be mobile, are very inefficient power delivery systems. As an example, at 10c/KWh, a household that pays $200 per month for electricity, would have to pay $440,000 per month if using batteries instead of utility companies. With such expensive energy, it is a shame that a significant number of them get thrown away with more than 80% of energy still left inside," said Bob Roohparvar Ph.D. Batteroo's CEO. "Batteroo is good for consumers, good for environment, but not necessarily good for the $14 billion disposable battery industry. But progress happens and industries have to adapt."

Batteroo Boost sleeves for AA, AAA, C and D type batteries are commercially available online at Batteroo Corporation anticipates availability of Batteroo Boost in retailers, both online and Brick-and-mortar in the second half of this year. For wholesale inquiries, please contact

About Batteroo

Batteroo Corporation is an innovator of intelligent power management and delivery systems. Batteroo Boost technology makes contact with the positive and negative terminals of a common battery to access the untapped energy remaining in the battery before it is thrown away. Batteroo has been tested and shown to extend the life of disposable alkaline batteries on a variety of battery-operated home and office gadgets. The reduction of battery usage resulting from Batteroo's life extension technology saves consumers money and saves landfills from toxic battery waste that results in soil contamination and a laundry list of negative environmental impacts. The company was cofounded by Bob Roohparvar Ph.D., who holds more than 20 patents in his 30-year career in power management, semiconductors, and consumer products, and Frankie Roohparvar, executive chairman and cofounder, who holds more than 500 patents. For more information visit

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Batteroo Boost, The Battery Life Extender Is Now Available Worldwide - PR Newswire (press release)

Why Do People Want to Live So Long, Anyway? – TIME

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is famous for a lot of reasons. He's an acclaimed bioethicist and oncologist who advised President Obama on health care and has two very well known brothers, but another thing people always seem to remember about him is that article he wrote in 2014: "Why I Hope to Die at 75."

More than 1,000 people have sent him letters and emails--some saying he's insane and ungrateful, others thanking him for voicing the same thoughts for which they'd been ridiculed. One 75-year-old man who died in upstate New York requested that his mourners, instead of making a donation, sit down and read the piece.

Emanuel's embrace of an early end--one that's only a few years shy of the U.S. life expectancy of 78.8--is the exact opposite of how most people in America feel about dying. In a survey from the Pew Research Center, nearly 70% of American adults said they wanted to live to be up to 100 years old. But why?

"The quest to live forever, or to live for great expanses of time, has always been part of the human spirit," says Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Emory Center for Ethics. People now seem to have particular reason to be optimistic: in the past century, science and medicine have extended life expectancy, and longevity researchers (not to mention Silicon Valley types) are pushing for a life that lasts at least a couple decades more.

Of course, people want to juice their life spans for reasons beyond their pioneering spirits. "The thing that is most difficult and inscrutable to us as mortal beings is the fact of our own death," Wolpe says. "We don't understand it, we don't get it, and as meaning-laden beings, we can't fathom what it means to not exist." In other words, thinking about the infinite desert of death can trigger the worst kind of FOMO.

At the same time, the odds of living a long life that's also a good, healthy one are slim. Almost all people complete their most meaningful years before age 75, Emanuel writes in his essay, so living past that age is rarely as good as it may sound. Physical function crumbles for about half of Americans at around age 80, and aging makes all of us mentally slower and less creative. We may die later, but we don't age slower.

Older folks understand this better than younger people. "What you see when you actually look at people at the end of life, to a large degree, is a sense of a life well lived and a time for that life to transition itself," says Wolpe. "Younger people have a harder time with that, but older people don't."

When people are asked how long they hope to live, however, attitude seems to make a greater difference than how old they are. A study of young and middle-aged people ages 18 to 64 found that 1 in 6 preferred to die before age 80. Those who did tended to hold more negative beliefs about what old age would be like. Still, the vast majority of people surveyed wanted to live a good long life and had sunnier expectations for their own old age.

That's why Emanuel isn't trying to persuade many people to drop the quest for a longer life: evidence, he knows, is no match for the human ego. "One of the things I don't understand is why the Silicon Valley types want to live forever," Emanuel says. "Obviously they believe the world can't possibly survive without their existence, and so they think their immortality is so critical to the survival of the world."

There is, however, an ethical way to chase life extension in a way that benefits everyone. "The proportion of the population that dies before 75, that's the number we ought to be looking at and tracking," Emanuel says. "We want to get everyone to 75."

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Why Do People Want to Live So Long, Anyway? - TIME

Only Human – New Republic

This might be another way of saying that the idea of living forever is as influential as the actual possibility of living forever. Immortality is a long shot. But why is it such big business now?

The future, as a concept, has always been lucrative; the more abstract, the better. Though OConnell doesnt focus strictly on Silicon Valleytranshumanists dot the globetranshumanism is a distinctly Californian project. The state has a long legacy of self-improvement programs, exercise crazes, and faddish diets, amounting to a unique brand of bourgeois spirituality. California is a pusher for freedom. Lifestyle is supreme.

These days, this utopian futurism can take the shape of New Age management philosophy, corporate wellness, or the annual conference Wisdom 2.0, which brings together tech luminaries and the spiritual leaders of industry, from Eileen Fisher and Alanis Morissette to the CEOs of Slack and Zappos. Recent years have seen an uptick in venture capitalbacked products that carry the promise of not just a better, more productive you, but a better life overall. From Soylent (a meal-replacement drink) to nootropics (capsules that purportedly level-up ones cognitive ability), investors are pursuing extended youth, neurological enhancement, and physical prowess.

Of course, much of this is less new than it feels. In Silicon Valley, there are no new ideas, only iterations. Soylent looks a lot like SlimFast, a protein drink marketed to dieting women since the 1970s. Nootropics tend to contain ingredients like l-theaninefound in green teaand caffeine. These companies web design has a lot to do with this illusion of newnesssexy front-end design signals trustworthiness and hints that there is something technologically impressive happening on the back end. Their products get a boost from their association with work-addicted engineers, who turn to them as high-tech solutions to self-created high-tech problems. But this promise is bigger than Silicon Valley, and carries with it a distinctly Californian air of self-improvement, of better living through technology.

It is tempting to see transhumanism, too, as merely the latest rebranding of a very old desire. Many of OConnells subjects specialize in the hypothetical. Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist who sees death as a disease to be cured. Anders Sandberg, a neuroscientist working on mind uploading, wishes literally to become an emotional machine. He is also an artist who creates digital scenes resembling early-web sci-fi fan art, and gives them dreamy names such as Dance of the Replicators and Air Castle. Zoltan Istvan, a former journalist who claims to have invented the sport of volcano-boarding, ran a presidential campaign that saw him travel across the country in a coffin-shaped bus to raise awareness for transhumanism. He campaigned on a pro-technology platform that called for a universal basic income, and promoted a Transhumanist Bill of Rights that would assure, among other things, that human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms be entitled to universal rights of ending involuntary suffering.

Then theres Max More, a co-founder of Extropianism, who runs the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona. Alcor is a cryopreservation facility that houses the bodiesor disembodied heads, to be attached at a later date to artificial bodiesof those hoping to be reanimated as soon as the technology exists. The bodies, OConnell writes, are considered to be suspended, rather than deceased: detained in some liminal stasis between this world and whatever follows it, or does not. Alcor is the largest of the worlds four cryopreservation facilities, and houses 149 patients, nearly 70 percent of whom are male. (Alcor also cryopreserves pets.) Its youngest patient is a two-year-old who died due to a rare form of pediatric brain cancer; her case summary, posted on Alcors web site, shares that her parents, both living, also intend to be cryopreserved. No doubt being surrounded by familiar faces of loving relatives will make the resumption of her life . . . easier and more joyful, the case summary ends hopefully, heartbreakingly. To date, science has not suggested that reanimation will ever be possible; the dream of re-uploading ones mind into a new, living body, at a yet-to-be-determined date, remains just that: a dream.

Those working on immortality are long-term thinkers and fall, broadly, into two camps: those who want to free the human from the body, and those who aim to keep the body in a healthy condition for as long as possible. Randal Koene, like Max More, is in the first group. Instead of cryonics, he is working toward mind uploading, the construction of a mind that can exist independent of the body. His nonprofit organization, Carboncopies, aims for the effective immortality of the digitally duplicated self. Koene compares mind uploading to kayaking. It might be like the experience of a person who is, say, really good at kayaking, who feels like the kayak is physically an extension of his lower body, and it just totally feels natural, he tells OConnell. So maybe it wouldnt be that much of a shock to the system to be uploaded, because we already exist in this prosthetic relationship to the physical world anyway, where so many things are experienced as extensions of our bodies.

Aubrey de Grey is in the second, body preservationist group, whose efforts tend to be slightly more modest: Rather than solving death, they focus on extending life. His nonprofit, Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, focuses on research in heart disease and Alzheimers, and other common illnesses and diseases. (SENS, like many organizations the transhumanists are involved with, has received funding from Thiel.) De Greys most mainstream contribution is the popularization of the concept of longevity escape velocity, which OConnell explains as such: For every year that passes, the progress of longevity research is such that average human life expectancy increases by more than a yeara situation that would, in theory, lead to our effectively outrunning death. One might dismiss such transhumanist visions as too extreme: so many men, so much hubris. And yet, at a time of great cynicism about humanityand the future were all barreling towardthere is something irresistible about transhumanism. Call it magical thinking; call it radical optimism.

A quest for immortality may be the ultimate example of overpromising and under-delivering, but it will still deliver something. Indeed, plenty of the Extropian dreams of anti-aging have already been realized, though these accomplishments now look less futuristic than we previously imagined. Thanks to improved health care, sanitation, and education, we are living longer than our ancestors could have imagined. We sleep with our cell phones. Prosthetics have become increasingly personalized and affordable. Roboticized microsurgery blurs the lines between human and machine skill. In more staid quarters (where most of the money is), the quest for transhumanism is simply biotech.

OConnells focus is on the more extreme transhumanists, those committed to eternal life. But he also meets a few of the transhumanists taking this more incremental approach, edging us closer to longer and healthier lives. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist working on brain-machine interface technology, created a robotic exoskeleton that can be controlled by brain activity. He exhibited it at the 2014 World Cup, to give a sense of how human and robot might work together in the future. A clear practical application of his work would be to help paraplegics increase their mobility and activity. Its technology that doesnt demand that we radically overhaul our idea of reality. It allows us to make minor adjustments.

Nicolelis does not seem to share the technologists passion for scalability; though he has proven that brain activity can be translated into dataand that data can be translated into movementhe is not drawn to large-scale projects like whole-brain emulation. I dont think we will ever be able to broadcast from one brain to another the essence of the human condition, he told Popular Mechanics last year. We love analogies, metaphors, expecting things, and predicting things. These things are not in algorithms.

As transhumanism gradually alters the length and quality of human life, it will also alter political and cultural life. If the average human life were to span 100 healthy years, then society, the economy, and the environment would be drastically transformed. How long would childhood last? What would the political landscape look like if baby boomers were able to vote for another 50 years? OConnells foray into transhumanism comes at a moment when our democratic institutions look weaker than ever. Wealth is increasingly concentrated among a small group of people. The future, while always uncertain, looks, for many, particularly bleak. Envisioning a future in which transhumanisms wildest desires are realized is a heady thought experiment, one that quickly devolves into a vision of dystopia: too little space, too many bodies, andif brains are uploaded from centuries pastobsolete software.

As exciting, ambitious, fantastical, or practical as the transhumanists aims may be, they neglect to offer a fully fledged vision for society should they be successful. It would hardly be the first time that actors in Silicon Valley, with an emphasis on speed and scale, innovated firstthen scrambled to address the repercussions after they had already arrived.

This is both a core promise and the fundamental problem of transhumanism: It exempts those involved from their debt to the present. As Bill Gates put it in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, It seems pretty egocentric while we still have malaria and TB for rich people to fund things so they can live longer. OConnell finds it odd, too, that billionaire entrepreneurs are more interested in developing AI than in eradicating grotesque income inequality in their own country. Of course, experimentation is essential to progress, and researchers claim their work will benefit all of humanity in the future. But it raises the question: What future and for whom?

There is something deeply sad about transhumanism, tooa yearning, one that perhaps harks back to the self-improvement doctrines that have so colored California since the halcyon days of the midcentury. The promise of a better worlda better youis hard to turn away from these days. We are not more than human; we have not found a way to transcend. In the weeks between the election and the inauguration, our collective visions of the future adjusted to accommodate the possibilities of rampant corruption and the rapid perversion of constitutional freedoms, among many other things. It feels indulgent to fantasize about a future in which humanity is optimized for immortality; it feels indulgent to fantasize about a future at all.

Yet I cannot fault the transhumanists for wanting more: more from life, more of life itself. In How We Became Posthumanpublished in 1999, and now a touchstone of writing on transhumanismthe literary critic N. Katherine Hayles detailed her ideal version of a posthuman world:

If my nightmare is a culture inhabited by posthumans who regard their bodies as fashion accessories rather than the ground of being, my dream is a version of the posthuman that embraces the possibilities of information technologies without being seduced by fantasies of unlimited power and disembodied immortality that understands human life is embedded in a material world of great complexity, one on which we depend for our continued survival.

To focus on the extremes of posthuman ambition is, it seems to me, to miss the point. As a species, we are slowly nudging along a spectrum. Hayless vision is solidly in the middle with its mortality and fallibility, rendered not obsolete but more manageablemore human.

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Only Human - New Republic

Private Space Company Suing US Gov’t For Stealing Their Idea … – Daily Caller


A private space company is suing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for allegedly taking an idea and giving it to a foreign-owned competitor.

Orbital ATK accused DARPA, which develops military technology, of giving its business plan to repair satellites to Space Systems Loral (SSL), a company-based in California but registered as foreign-owned. Orbital ATK says handing business plans to SSL violates U.S. policy.

DARPA entered into a commercial partnership with Space Systems Loral (SSL) to take advantage of its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program to capture, re-position, and repair satellites in orbit. DARPA plans to buy future RSGS services from SSL, despite it being a Bermuda-based company.

Orbital ATK has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in response to DARPAs apparent decision to continue pursuing a program that violates long-standing principles of the U.S. National Space Policy, wastes taxpayer funds, and benefits a foreign-owned corporation, VickiCox, a spokesperson for Orbital ATK, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Orbital ATK is already investing its own private capital to develop in-space satellite servicing that includes satellite life extension, to be followed by robotic in-space repair and assembly capabilities.

Last year, Orbital ATK unveiled a similar satellite servicing business which will have to compete directly with the DARPA initiative. The U.S. company says it already has its first private customer and that this makes DARPAs actions unabashedly unfair and anti-competitive.

This could be a violation of the US National Space Policywhich requiresthat the government not build or buy systems that preclude, discourage or compete with commercial systems. The U.S. company claims that they have already invested in the satellite repair and refueling business. Orbital ATKs lawsuit says this means that DARPA interfered in a developing market in defiance of stated U.S. policy.

The U.S. National Space Policy explicitly directs government agencies to avoid funding activities that are already in development in the commercial marketplace, Cox continued. Orbital ATK will continue to pursue all available options to oppose DARPA from moving forward with this illegal and wasteful use of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

SSLclaims it has also already made asubstantial investment in the RSGS program and that DARPA deliberately chose them to ensure the services would be available far into the future. SSL will take over DARPAs RSGS satellite after a nine-month demonstration mission.

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SRS’s Melter 2 to be replaced | News | – The Star

Savannah River Sites Melter 2, a key component in the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF), will be replaced after nearly 14 years of record-breaking operational performance. A heater inside Melter 2 failed on Feb. 1 and is deemed not repairable.

Melter 2 is only the second melter in the 20-year history of DWPF. It has been operating nearly 14 years, approximately 12 years beyond its design life expectancy. Melter 1 ran for about six years of radioactive service and another two years of non-radioactive simulant processing.

The operational concept for DWPF is to use a melter until it is no longer operational and then replace it with a new melter. There are no risks to the public, workers or the environment during melter replacement. The replacement melter, the third melter to be installed in DWPF, known as Melter 3, has been ready for years. Work to install it will begin shortly, and will require approximately six months.

Melter 2 has poured 2,819 canisters during its life, more than double what Melter 1 produced in its life span, which was 1,339 canisters. Melter 1 was placed into radioactive operation in March 1996, following approximately two years of non-radioactive simulant operations. Melter 2 began operating in 2003. Together, Melters 1 and 2 have poured 4,158 canisters through January 31, 2017. The predicted number of canisters needed to dispose of SRS high-level tank waste is 8,170, according to the SRS Liquid Waste System Plan Rev. 20.

Since beginning operations, DWPF has poured more than 16 million pounds of glass and has immobilized about 61 million curies of radioactivity.

Savannah River Remediation (SRR) operates DWPF, as well as other liquid waste facilities at SRS, as part of its contract with DOE. Operations are expected to continue at DWPF for approximately 20 more years.

SRR keeps one melter in storage in case the working melter needs to be replaced.

Melter life extension is the product of work by engineers and scientists. The increased Melter 2 operational life resulted from the following:

Incorporating an improved insert in the melter, used from the beginning of this melters operation, ensures glass waste doesnt cause the melters pour spout to erode;

Heating the internal area where the glass flows into a canister to ensure it does not stick;

Adjusting electrical current to the electrode heaters inside the melter to increase its heating capacity; and

Installing agitation bubblers that are used to improve the heat distribution in the waste glass pool in the melter to achieve a better pour rate.

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SRS's Melter 2 to be replaced | News | - The Star

Acacia Mining sees 40 percent boost from mine extension | Reuters – Reuters

LONDON Feb 14 Tanzanian gold producer Acacia Mining said 2017 production would be lifted 40 percent by a mine life extension at Buzwagi following a strong 2016 when EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) more than doubled.

"2016 was another successful year for Acacia as we delivered record production, reduced our all-in sustaining costs by 14 percent and more than doubled our net cash position," Brad Gordon, chief executive of Acacia Mining, said.

For the coming year, the company said in a statement, a six-month extension of mining at Buzwagi will lead to a 40 percent output increase versus 2016. (Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Susan Fenton)

SHANGHAI, Feb 15, one of China's largest matchmaking websites, has found itself an unlikely suitor in drone manufacturer DEA General Aviation that said on Wednesday it wants to buy the popular dating website to expand its business.

BERLIN, Feb 15 The German government is holding talks with General Motors and Peugeot to ensure that Opel's three plants in Germany remain open should the U.S. carmaker succeed in selling its European unit to the French company, Labour Minister Andrea Nahles said on Wednesday.

* Pan american silver announces unaudited net earnings of $101.8 million ($0.66 per share) in 2016 and increases the quarterly dividend

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Acacia Mining sees 40 percent boost from mine extension | Reuters - Reuters

Double-blind, randomized crossover study of intravenous infusion of … – PR Newswire (press release)

Studies have shown that 30-50 percent of patients diagnosed with MDD do not respond to an initial anti-depressant trial, while 15 percent will continue to suffer from depression. Treatment-resistant depression commonly refers to major depressive episodes that have not responded to two adequate trials of antidepressant monotherapy.

In a recent study conducted at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and published in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences (2016), 12 subjects with mild or moderate TRD were randomized into a double-blind crossover trial to receive an intravenous (IV) infusion of 4 g of magnesium sulfate in five percent dextrose or an IV infusion of five percent dextrose (placebo) with a one week washout period in between.

Subjects were assessed before and after the intervention for serum and urine magnesium. Assessment tools included the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), which is a clinician-used questionnaire to assess severity of depressive symptoms related to mood, feelings of guilt, suicidal ideation, insomnia, agitation or retardation, anxiety, weight loss, and somatic symptoms. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was also utilized and is a brief self-report tool that can be rapidly used by clinicians to determine the response to treatment.

Study results indicated a significant increase in the serum magnesium level in response to the magnesium sulfate IV infusion and as the serum magnesium increased from baseline to day seven, the PHQ-9 score significantly decreased during the same timeframe suggesting an improvement in depression symptoms. The change in the score for the HAM-D scale from day two to eight was also positively correlated with the PHQ-9 score change during the same time period. It was also noted that the 24-hour post-infusion scores on the HAM-D and PHQ-9 did not change. The treatment was well tolerated, and no serious adverse events were noted.

Researchers concluded that IV infusion of magnesium sulfate increased the serum level of magnesium, which was correlated with improved depression symptoms according to the PHQ-9. Improvements in the PHQ-9 and HAM-D were positively correlated. This is in alignment with current literature noting that the administration of magnesium may be beneficial for patients with TRD. Additional research is needed to assess the use of the various forms of magnesium as an alternative to the current standard of care for TRD. Funding for this investigation was provided by a grant from the Life Extension Foundation, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

For more information contact John E. Lewis, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine at or Dr. Steven Hirsh, director of clinical research, Life Extension Clinical Research, Inc. at

Mehdi S, Atlas S, Qadir S et al. Double-blind, randomized crossover study of intravenous infusion of magnesium sulfate versus 5% dextrose on depressive symptoms in adults with treatment-resistant depression. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2016 Nov 10 doi: 10.1111/pcn.12480.

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SOURCE Life Extension

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Double-blind, randomized crossover study of intravenous infusion of ... - PR Newswire (press release)

Radical Life Extension Is Already Here, But We’re Doing it …

We've already tacked three decades onto the average lifespan of an American, so what's wrong with adding another few decades?

A centenarian riding his bike in Long Beach, California (Reuters).

So far as we know, the last hundred years have been the most radical period of life extension in all of human history. At the turn of the twentieth century, life expectancy for Americans was just over 49 years; by 2010, that number had risen to 78.5 years, mostly on account of improved sanitation and basic medicine. But life extension doesn't always increase our well-being, especially when all that's being extended is decrepitude. There's a reason that Ponce de Leon went searching for the fountain of youth---if it were the fountain of prolonged dementia and arthritis he may not have bothered.

Over the past twenty years, biologists have begun to set their sights on the aging process itself, in part by paying close attention to species like the American Lobster, which, despite living as long as fifty years, doesn't seem to age much at all. Though some of this research has shown promise, it's not as though we're on the brink of developing a magical youth potion. Because aging is so biologically complex, encompassing hundreds of different processes, it's unlikely that any one technique will add decades of youth to our lives. Rather, the best we can hope for is a slow, incremental lengthening of our "youth-span," the alert and active period of our lives.

Not everyone is thrilled by the prospect of radical life extension. As funding for anti-aging research has exploded, bioethicists have expressed alarm, reasoningthat extreme longevity could have disastrous social effects. Some argue that longer life spans will mean stiffer competition for resources, or a wider gap between rich and poor. Others insist that the aging process is important because it gives death a kind of time release effect, which eases us into accepting it. These concerns are well founded. Life spans of several hundred years are bound to be socially disruptive in one way or another; if we're headed in that direction, it's best to start teasing out the difficulties now.

But there is another, deeper argument against life extension---the argument from evolution. Its proponents suggest that we ought to avoid tinkering with any human trait borne of natural selection. Doing so, they argue, could have unforeseen consequences, especially given that natural selection has such a sterling engineering track record. If our bodies grow old and die, the thinking goes, then there must be a good reason, even if we don't understand it yet. Nonsense, says Bennett Foddy, a philosopher (and flash game developer!) from Oxford, who has written extensively about the ethics of life extension. "We think about aging as being a natural human trait, and it is natural, but it's not something that was selected for because it was beneficial to us." Foddy told me. "There is this misconception that everything evolution provides is beneficial to individuals and that's not correct."

Foddy has thought long and hard about the various objections to life extension and, for the most part, has found them wanting. This is our conversation about those objections, and about the exciting new biology of aging.

Foddy: The reason I present it that way, is that there's always this background moral objection in enhancement debates, where a technology is perceived to be new, and by virtue of being new, is depicted as threatening or even strange. That goes for everything from genetic engineering to steroids to cloning and on and on. I think it's always worth contextualizing these things in terms of the normal. So with human cloning it's worth remembering that it's exactly the same as twinning. With steroids, it's worth remembering that in many ways it's not that different from training and exercise, and also that people have been taking testosterone since ancient times. I think this way you can kind of resist the idea that something is wrong just because it's strange.

When you're talking about medicines that help us live longer, it's important to realize how much we've already accomplished. In the last 150 years or so, we've doubled our life span from 40 to 80 years, and that's primarily through the use of things you can characterize as being medical science. In some cases it's clear that we're talking about medical enhancement---vaccines, for instance, or surgical hygiene and sterilization. And then more broadly there are other, non-medical things like the sanitation of the water supply and the pasteurization of milk and cheese. All of these things have saved an enormous amount of life.

It used to be that people would die of an infectious disease; they'd be struck down when they were very young or when they were older and their immune system was weak. Now almost nobody in the first world dies of infectious disease; we've basically managed to completely eradicate infectious disease through medical science. If, at the outset of this process, you asked people if we should develop technologies that would make us live until we're 80 on average instead of until we're 40, people might have expressed these same kind of misgivings that you hear today. They might have said, "Oh no that would be way too long, that would be unnatural, let's not do that."

So, in a way, we shouldn't view it as being extremely strange to develop these medicines, but in another sense we're at a new stage now, because now we're at the forefront of having medicines that actually address the aging process. And that's what I'm interested in talking about---the kinds of medicines that actually slow down the aging process, or at least some of the mechanisms of aging.

Can you explain how senescence, the biological process of aging, is unevenly distributed across species?

Foddy: There are different animals that are affected differently by various processes of aging. In my paper I go into the case of the American Lobster, which lives about as long as a human being. When you dissect one of these lobsters at the end of its life, its body doesn't show much in the way of weakening or wasting like you see in a human body of advanced age. That suggests that aging can evolve differently in different species. Lobsters seem to have evolved an adaptation against the cellular lifespan. There's this phenomenon where the DNA in our cells basically unravel after they've divided a certain amount of times, but lobsters have this enzyme that helps them replenish their telomeres---the caps that hold DNA together.

That's one of the reasons why lobsters don't seem to undergo aging in the same way that we do. Other species give off an antioxidant chemical in their bodies that prevent these oxidizing free radicals in our bodies from breaking us down. That's why doctor's recommend that you have a certain amount of antioxidants---some species are really good at producing those naturally.

There is this idea that when you're evolving you make certain trade-offs. Lobsters and clams don't really move around a lot; their bodies move and grow very slowly and one of the upsides of that is that they've been able to invest their evolutionary chips, so to speak, in resisting the aging process. Human beings, on the other hand, have to move around quite a lot. We have giant brains and we have to be able to run away from saber tooth tigers. As a result we have bodies that burn a lot of calories, and so that's where our chips are invested. It's just a difference in our evolutionary environment and that's why we've evolved to live and die the way we do. But it could have easily not turned out that way---that's the point I really want to make.

What are the current biological limits on our human life span, or our human "youth span," as you call it---the time that we're able to live as young, vibrant, reproducing individuals?

Foddy: The sky is sort of the limit there. There won't be a magic pill that gives us infinite youth, but over time there will probably be different technologies that allow you a few extra years of youth. We think of aging as being a unitary thing, but it's made up of hundreds of different processes. So, one of the different things we think about, for example, is dementia, the state where your brain sort of wastes away. Now, if we discover a way of reversing that process, or slowing that process, that would be one dimension where we no longer age, where our minds will stay youthful for longer. It's also possible that we might be able to find a way of stopping people's muscles from wasting away as they get older.

Nothing is going to be super dramatic, but there will be a point where you'll look back a hundred years and notice that people used to get really kind of feeble and after awhile they weren't capable of really thinking or processing information anymore, and they had to go into a home and they had to be looked after and nursed for a time. And that will seem very old-fashioned and very barbaric, but I very much doubt it will happen at a moment in time where we suddenly realize that some magic pill has exponentially extended our youth. Part of that's because we're not exactly clear what aging is. We've identified a whole range of processes, but there ere still a whole lot of arguments in the scientific community about what is really responsible for aging, and which of the processes are subsidiary to other processes.

Have we glimpsed, even theoretically, ways that we might add to that youth-span. What are the bleeding edge technologies that might allow us to overcome aging?

Foddy: I'm not a scientist, so I don't want to weigh in too heavily on somebody's body of research. We've seen promising results looking at the lobsters and we've seen promising results with antioxidants, even aspirin, but as I said these things are going to be incremental. You meet a lot of people in the scientific community that are true believers and they're expecting a kind of a radical thing. And it's not as though we never have a radical thing in medicine, but what we have more frequently is incremental advances.

Cancer is a great example of the kind of incremental progress I'm talking about. In 1970, your odds of surviving 5 years after you've were diagnosed with certain kinds of cancer were slim; those chances have increased substantially. But we still react to the idea of getting cancer as though it were 1970 because we don't really process incremental changes. Like with chemotherapy, they just change out one or two drugs every year based on trials that show that the new drug is 2 percent more effective than the previous drug. That's constantly going on, but it really isn't announced. Instead, we get the occasional story in the news about a miracle cure for cancer, and it always turns out not to be as good as they had hoped and everyone begins to get disillusioned about science and the value of medical progress. But when you run the comparisons across decades, you see something much more dramatic.

You give an interesting account of how the aging process evolved in humans. You argue that aging is not the result of an optimizing process, but that instead it's a byproduct of an optimizing process. Can you explain why that difference is so important?

Foddy: I should say, first of all, that this is not original to me; this is very well established in evolutionary biology. We have a number of genetic traits that we developed because they were advantageous from the perspective of natural selection---that is, they helped us to survive and reproduce. People that had the gene for that trait had the ability to reproduce more than people that didn't have it. It's easy to imagine that every gene that we have is selected because it gave a positive advantage in this way, but it turns out there are trade-offs. A number of the processes of aging seem to have arisen because our bodies were not doing enough maintenance, because they were busy doing something else. The misconception that people often have is that any trade-off that we have is going to be directly beneficial, directly advantageous. But that's not right.

The second thing to say is that aging usually happens to an organism after it reaches menopause. Things that happen after menopause are much less interesting in terms of evolution, because they have much less of an effect. If I've already reached the age where I can't reproduce, then aging that takes effect at this point in my life is not going to affect whether or not I reproduce. The game is sort of already over for me. As a result, natural selection doesn't tend to weed out genes that take effect after you've reached the age of menopause. So, there is this idea that over time you can amass genes in your genome that have nothing to do with survival or not surviving, because they only activate after you reach a certain age. So, over time, some of these are going to be good genes and some of them are going to be bad. It's going to be this kind of mix, but it's certainly not going to be the case that they're on balance beneficial. We've got hundreds or thousands of genes that don't start to harm us until we reach old age, and those genes are responsible for a lot of what actually constitutes aging. So, in this sense, we think about aging as being a natural human activity or a human trait---and it is natural, but it's not something that was selected because it was beneficial to us. There is this misconception that everything evolution provides has to be beneficial to individuals and that's not correct. "There is this misconception that everything evolution provides has to be beneficial to individuals and that's not correct."

One defense of aging that your paper takes quite seriously is the argument from evolution, which was first put forth by Frances Fukuyama. Fukuyama claims that we should resist the temptation to tinker with any characteristic that we have been given through the process of natural selection. He argues that evolution can be relied upon to produce good results and that we ought not to mess with the fruit of its processes. What's wrong with this view?

Foddy: Fukuyama has this idea that evolution is very complicated, which is true. We don't always understand why we've evolved to be a certain way. Sometimes it looks like something is useful, but in fact it's performing some kind of role that we don't know much about. Fukuyama is also correct that sometimes we interfere with complicated biological systems without really understanding what the effects will be, and that then we wind up with some unwanted effect. That's all true.

The thing that I disagree with him about is his presumption that if we have a trait that's evolved, that it must be beneficial to us in some way, and that we have some good reason for allowing that trait stick around. Now he's not talking strictly about aging; his book discusses all kinds of intervention on the human organism. But, when it comes to aging, his argument can't even succeed on its own merits, because we know for a fact that aging is not the sort of thing that is produced by natural selection in the kind of positive way that he is talking about. He says it's not always easy to do nature one better, but that's not what we're doing when we're combating aging. We're not trying to do nature one better, because nature doesn't care that we grow old and die. This is neglect, evolutionary neglect. We shouldn't think about it as interfering with the sort of complex ecological balance in the way that he's worried about.

Now that's not to say that our current mode of life extension is ideal. Some of the biggest strains on our resources stem from the fact that populations are getting older as birthrate's go down, especially in the first world. Aging societies are spending more and more on nursing, and so I think that it makes sense to pursue a youth-extending medicine that would diminish the number of years that we have to spend in nursing homes. You could imagine us living more like the lobster, where we still live to be about 80-85, but we're alert and active until we drop dead. In that scenario we wouldn't have this giant burden where the state has to support and pay to nurse people that are unable to look after themselves anymore.

Now, it has to be said that the story of medicine and medical progress in the past 50 years has not been heading that way. If anything, we're extending the number of years that we spend needing nursing. We've gotten good at keeping people alive once they're fairly decrepit. And that sort of guarantees that you have the maximum drain on resources, while also producing the kind of minimum amount of human benefit. You get to be 90 years old and your hip goes out, and we give you a massively expensive hip replacement, but we don't do things to prevent your body from wasting away and becoming corroded when you're 20, 30 or 40.

There's this great Greek myth, the myth of Tithonus, that always comes to mind. Tithonus was a mortal who was in love with Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Eos didn't want Tithonus to grow old and die, so she went to Zeus to ask for eternal life, which was granted. But, she forgot to ask for eternal youth, and so Tithonus just gets older and older and more decrepit, and eventually he can't really move, and then finally he turns into a grasshopper in the end. That's sort of the course that we're on with our current approach to medicine and life extension.

Some ethicists have pointed out that death is one of the major forces for equality in the world, and that welfare disparities will be worsened if some people can afford to postpone old age, or avoid it altogether, while others are unable to. What do you say to them?

Foddy: I think that's right. I mean there are concerns whenever we develop any kind of medicine or any kind of technology---the concern that these things are going to widen welfare gaps. The story of industrialization is that the people who could afford the cars and machines and factories in Western countries were able to produce a lot more and generate a lot more wealth than people in poorer agrarian economies. That's a serious issue. It's probably true that if people in the first world were, through some sort of medical intervention, able to live to be 200 years old and people in Bangladesh were still dying at a relatively young age, that would tend to widen the distance in personal wealth.

And look this has already happened. It's already unfair that I will on average live to be 80 and yet, if I were born before some arbitrary date, or in some other place, I would live much less longer. Those things are unfair and it's worth worrying about them, but I don't think the correct response is to hold off on the science. It's better if everybody can eventually get this medicine, because living a long time is not a positional good, it's an absolute good. It would be great if everybody could live to be 150, because that would benefit every single person. It's not a good that benefits you only if other people are worse off. When you have goods like that you should try to develop them and then you should worry separately about making sure that they get delivered to people in poorer areas, whether it's through government aid or massive production.

Another objection to the elimination of aging is this idea that the aging process makes an elderly person's death less painful for the survivors around her, because it gradually forces people to stop relying on her, and forces her to gradually remove herself from society. You call this the argument from psycho-social history.

Foddy: This is Leon Kass' argument. He thinks aging is just fantastic for this reason because it helps us to let go of somebody. And of course it's true that when people grow old, they become less useful to society, and more socially difficult, which places burdens on people. And in a lot of cases we respond to this by cutting them out of our lives, essentially. People get older, they move into a nursing home, and we see them less and less, and then when they finally die everyone's like, "well it was expected." Advanced age sort of helps us prepare emotionally for letting go of people, but it seems to me that it's not good for the person who gets old.

Now, what would the world be like if people dropped dead in good health when they reach a certain age? It would be very sad, but on the upside the person would've had 20 or 30 years of additional integration into society and we would've been able to spend more time with them. I've got to say that I would've enjoyed my grandmother's presence a lot more if she'd been able to run around and to play and work and be part of society in her extremely advanced age.

Nick Bostrom has said that people have fallen victim to a kind of Stockholm syndrome when it comes to aging. The idea being that because aging has always been an insurmountable obstacle for humanity, that we have dignified it more than it deserves, that we contort ourselves logically and rhetorically to defend it precisely because it is so inescapable. Does that sound right to you?

Foddy: Yes, I think that's right, although Nick draws conclusions that are a bit more extreme than I would tend to draw. I think that we do have a tendency to kind of rationalize things that we don't think we can do anything about. This is a perfectly healthy attitude if you really can't do anything about the aging process---it's better to accept it and kind of talk about it as being a natural part of life, not something to rail against or feel bad about. It's something that everybody goes through. Now if it did so happen that we could discover a medicine that completely prevents that process from taking place, we would have to re-evaluate at that stage and realize that we've done some emotional rationalization here and the conditions for it no longer apply. We no longer need to comfort ourselves with the inevitability of death if it's not actually inevitable.

Having said that, death is, in fact, inevitable. Even if we solve every medical problem, you still have a 1 in 1,000 chance of dying every year by some sort of accident. So, on those odds you could probably expect to live to be about 1,000. I don't think it's ever going to be the case that we will live forever. It's not even going to be 1,000. We're probably talking about living to be 120 or 150 or somewhere around there, but to me the idea that we have to accept living to 80 rather than 120 is bizarre given that it's not so long ago that we lived to 40.

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Radical Life Extension Is Already Here, But We're Doing it ...

Orbital ATK Sues DARPA Over Satellite-Repairing Robots | Inverse – Inverse

Private space technology company Orbital ATK sued the Pentagons Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) last Tuesday over plans to give a rival firm a contract to build satellite-repairing robots for a government-funded mission.

The Virginia-based company filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, asking court to halt DARPAs work on the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) mission, which would promote and develop robotic satellite repair technology.

DARPA chose rocket manufacturer Space Systems Loral (SSL), which is a subsidiary of Canadas MDA Corp., to award a $15 million contract for building robots for repairing government and commercial satellites.

It clearly demonstrates the success of our strategy to bring the benefits of our commercial business to a broader audience and to grow our business with U.S. government work, Howard Lance, CEO of SSL MDA Holdings, said in a statement last Thursday.

According to Jared Adams, DARPAs chief of media relations, the RSGS public-private effort is a first for DARPA in the space-servicing domain, and DARPAs selection of SSL has been submitted for review by the Defense Departments Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

In the lawsuit, Orbital ATK argued that DARPA intends to give away this technology to a foreign-owned company for that companys sole commercial use. In addition, Orbital ATK said RSGS would waste hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to develop robotic satellite servicing technology for which DARPA has admitted there is no present U.S. government need and that NASA and the U.S. private sector specifically the plaintiffs are already developing.

On the other hand, DARPA says RSGS would lower the risks and costs of operating in orbit.

Servicing on orbit could provide significant cost savings compared to current practices and a major advantage to the security of both commercial and Government space assets, Gordon Roesler, DARPAs program manager for RSGS, said in a statement last Thursday.

RSGS, Orbital ATK argues, directly competes with Orbital ATKs Mission Extension Vehicle, which is in development and provides life extension services to satellites. The company argues this violates the 2010 National Space Policy, which says that the government must refrain from conducting United States government activities that preclude, discourage, or compete with U.S. commercial space activities.

Currently, the Mission Extension Vehicle is backed by at least $200 million from investors, and Orbital ATK had set up a production facility in Northern Virginia. The company planned to launch the Mission Extension Vehicle next year.

In the past, Orbital ATK has worked with the U.S. government and NASA on various space projects. On Monday, the company announced that the U.S. Air Force awarded it a contract to provide support services for a multipurpose satellite.

This isnt the first time DARPA was asked to stop RSGS. Two weeks ago, three Republican members of Congress wrote a letter to the Pentagon saying RSGS violates the National Space Policy because its competing with a private company.

We urge you to promptly review this program to ensure its compliance with the 2010 National Space Policy, the letter to DARPA Acting Director Steven Walker said. As Acting Director, you should stop any further action on RSGS until the review is completed.

Walker replied saying that the commercial systems under development would not be as capable as RSGS, and he reviewed the mission, saying that it complied with the National Space Policy.

DARPA also said that a NASA satellite repair program called Restore-L does not have the same degree of autonomous control as RSGS. Restore-L was also awarded to Space Systems Loral and is planned to launch by 2020.

Photos via Flickr / NASA Johnson

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DARPA hits snag in GEO satellite service plan – Network World

Layer 8 is written by Michael Cooney, an online news editor with Network World.

DARPA is going to have to contend with an Earth-bound problem if it is to get its plan to service satellites in geosynchronous orbit into space.

The agency this week said it had picked Space Systems Loral (SSL) as its commercial partner to develop technologies under its Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program that would enable cooperative inspection and servicing of satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), more than 20,000 miles above the Earth, and demonstrate those technologies on orbit.

+More on Network World: How to catch a 400lb drone traveling at full speed+

But SSL competitor Orbital ATF promptly filed a lawsuit looking to stop the award.

Inside reported that according to the complaintfiled in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Orbital ATK is seeking a permanent injunction that would prohibit further action on DARPA's Robotic Servicing of Geospatial Satellites program as well as a judgment that the project violates the National Space Policy and the Administrative Procedure Act. Orbital ATK says in its lawsuit that it has long worked on in-space satellite servicing. It is developing the Mission Extension Vehicle, which it describes as a "satellite life extension service for GEO satellites.

According to the Orbital website the MEV docks with customers existing satellites providing the propulsion and attitude control needed to extend their lives. The MEV is capable of docking with virtually all-geosynchronous satellites with minimal interruption to operations. It will let satellite operators significantly extend satellite mission life, activate new markets, drive asset value and protect their franchises. Orbital subsidiary Space Logistics LLC delivers life extension services that are flexible, scalable, capital-efficient and low-risk.

In a release, today (Feb. 9) DARPA said RSGS will demonstrate a suite of capabilities critical to national security and not currently available or anticipated to be offered commercially in the near term, including ultra-close inspection, repair of mechanical anomalies, and installation of technical packages on the exterior of US satellites, all of which require highly dexterous robotic arms. DARPA has already designed and created the required robotic arms.

Under the RSGS program, a DARPA-developed modular toolkit (the robotic payload), including hardware and software, would be joined to a privately developed spacecraft to create a commercially operated robotic servicing vehicle that could make house calls in space, DARPA stated.

DARPA said its role will be to contribute the robotics technology, expertise, and a government-provided launch while SSL would contribute the satellite to carry the robotic payload, integration of the payload onto it and the RSV to the launch vehicle, and the mission operations center and staff.

Since there are roughly four times as many commercial satellites in GEO as Government satellites, DARPA elected to find a commercial partner capable of servicing both in order to lower the cost of servicing to the Government and commercial entities and collect a broader range of research data. This partnership approach will enable the fastest deployment of RSGS capability, DARPA wrote.

DARPA continued: After a successful on-orbit demonstration of the robotic servicing vehicle, SSL would own and operate the vehicle and make cooperative servicing available to both military and commercial GEO satellite owners on a fee-for-service basis. In exchange for providing government property to SSL, the government will obtain reduced priced servicing of its satellites and access to commercial satellite servicing data throughout the operational life of the RSV.

Government-developed RSGS technologies would not become the exclusive property of DARPAs commercial partner but would be shared with other qualified and interested U.S. space companies. Qualified companies would be able to obtain and license the technology through cooperative research and development agreements.

+More on Network World: DARPA wants to give dead, in-orbit satellites new life+

In December, DARPA proposed consortium of industry players that will research, develop, and publish standards for safe commercial robotic servicing operations in Earths orbit. Specifically, DARPA said it wants to create the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations or CONFERS that looks to establish a forum that would use best practices from government and industry to research, develop and publish non-binding, consensus-derived technical and safety standards for on-orbit servicing operations. In doing so, the program would provide a clear technical basis for definitions and expectations of responsible behavior in outer space. In the end the ultimate goal is to provide the technical foundation to shape safe and responsible commercial space operations to preserve the safety of the global commons of space, DARPA stated.

Recent technological advances have made the longstanding dream of on-orbit robotic servicing of satellites a near-term possibility. The potential advantages of that unprecedented capability are enormous. Instead of designing their satellites to accommodate the harsh reality that, once launched, their investments could never be repaired or upgraded, satellite owners could use robotic vehicles to physically inspect, assist, and modify their on-orbit assets. That could significantly lower construction and deployment costs while dramatically extending satellite utility, resilience, and reliability, DARPA stated. But these efforts all face a major roadblock: the lack of clear, widely accepted technical and safety standards for responsible performance of on-orbit activities involving commercial satellites, including rendezvous and proximity operations that dont involve physical contact with satellites and robotic servicing operations that would. Without these standards, the long-term sustainability of outer space operations is potentially at risk.

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Human Life Could Be Extended Indefinitely, Study Suggests – EconoTimes

Aging Hand.Max Pixel/Max Pixel

Right now, the best that humans could hope for in terms of their lifespan is to reach the age of 100 or perhaps even a few years beyond that. According to the Gompertz mortality law, which is basically a model to calculate the mortality of humans, this only makes sense because death depends on certain factors that cant be changed. A team of researchers at the Gero biotech firm recently published their study, which essentially challenged this misconception.

Putting it simply, Gompertz law uses whats called the Strehler-Mildvan (SM) correlation in order to explain mortality, which is basically the sum of two factors that will inevitably increase on an exponential level as people age, Futurism reports. The team at Gero looked into this correlation and found that it had no factual basis despite the fact that it has practically been accepted for over five decades.

This concept was popularized back in the 60s when it was published in the journal Science. It really put scientists who wanted to extend human life in a bind as well because the SM correlation suggests that trying to prolong life while young will have the effect of actually shortening lifespan. According to the study that the Gero team published, this is simply not the case.

Titled Strehler-Mildvan correlation is a degenerate manifold of Gompertz fit, the study basically argues that the conclusion derived from the SM correlation has no actual basis in biology. In a press release, the teams public face Peter Fedichev noted how this study will impact research into extending human life.

Elimination of SM correlation from theories of aging is good news, because if it was not just negative correlation between Gompertz parameters, but the real dependence, it would have banned optimal anti-aging interventions and limited human possibilities to life extension, Fedichev said.

Basically, scientists are now free to research the ways to increase human lifespan. In fact, they could potentially extend it as much as they want.

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Human Life Could Be Extended Indefinitely, Study Suggests - EconoTimes

There is No Limit to Human Life Extension – Futurism

The Strehler-Mildvan Correlation

The scientific team of biotech company Gero recently published a study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology that debunks a long-held misconception regarding two parameters of the Gompertz mortality law a mortality modelthat represents human death as the sumof two components that exponentially increases with age. The Gero team studied whats called the Strehler-Mildvan (SM) correlation and found no real biological reasoning behind it, despite having been held true for more than a half a century now.

The SM correlation, derived from the Strehler-Mildvan general theory of aging and mortality, is a mechanism-based explanation of Gompertz law. Specifically, the SM correlation uses two Gompertz coefficients called the Mortality Rate Doubling Time (MRDT) and Initial Mortality Rate (IMR). Popularized in the 1960s in a paper published in Science, the SM correlation suggests that reducing mortality rate through any intervention at a young age could lower the MRDT, thus accelerating aging. As such, the hypothesis disrupts the development of any anti-aging therapy, effectively making optimal aging treatments impossible.

The Gero team, however, realized that the SM correlation is a flawed assumption. Instead of using machine learning techniques for anti-aging therapy design, the researchers relied on an evidence-based science approach. Peter Fedichev and his team tried to determine the physical processes behind the SM correlation. In doing so, they realized the fundamental discrepancy between analytical considerations and the possibility of SM correlation. We worked through the entire life histories of thousands of C. elegans that were genetically identical, and the results showed that this correlation was indeed a pure fitting artifact, Fedichev saidin a press release.

Other studieshave questioned the validity of the SM correlation, but in their published study, Fedichev and his team were able to show how the SM correlation arises naturally as a degenerate manifold of Gompertz fit. This suggests that, instead of understanding SM correlation as a biological fact, it is really an artifactual property of the fit.

This discovery is particularly relevant now as more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that aging is a disease and, as such, could be treated. They are working hard to find ways to extend human life, and many of theseanti-aging studies are yielding curious developments.

Elimination of SM correlation from theories of aging is good news, because if it was not just negative correlation between Gompertz parameters, but the real dependence, it would have banned optimal anti-aging interventions and limited human possibilities to life extension, Fedichev explained. In order words,human life extension has no definitive limit.

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There is No Limit to Human Life Extension - Futurism

Orbital ATK files suit against DARPA – Inside Defense (subscription)

Orbital ATK files suit against DARPA
Inside Defense (subscription)
It is developing the Mission Extension Vehicle, which it describes as a "satellite life extension service for Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites." According to the lawsuit, ATK -- which merged its defense and aerospace groups with Orbital ...

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Biotechnology xpert Jamie Metzl addresses realities of genetics revolution, Feb. 9 – Vail Daily News

Progressing at breakneck speed, genetic engineering has seen significant advancements since the first time Jamie Metzl addressed the topic at the Vail Symposium in 2015 to a sold-out audience. Metzl will return today, offering the latest update on the science and implications of this world-changing technology.

Metzl, an annual speaker at the Symposium, is a senior fellow of the Atlantic Council and an expert on Asian affairs and biotechnology policy. He previously served as executive vice president of the Asia Society, deputy staff director of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, senior coordinator for International Public Information at the U.S. State Department, director for multilateral affairs on the National Security Council and as a human-rights officer for the United Nations in Cambodia.

Also a novelist, Metzl explores the challenging issues raised by new technologies and revolutionary science in his science fiction writing. His latest novel, Eternal Sonata, imagines a future global struggle to control the science of extreme human life extension. This world, according to Metzl, is not far off.

Jamie Metzl is a brilliant thinker and eloquent speaker who will be discussing a captivating subject based very much in reality, said Kris Sabel, Vail Symposium executive director. His background in biotechnology allows him to understand this complex science, his experience with international affairs lets him place science in a geopolitical context and his dynamic and creative mind can break it all down into digestible information for everyone

Here, Metzl elaborates on the progress of the genetics revolution, his new book, how this unique science fits into the landscape of technological breakthroughs and how the new administration may impact scientific progress.

VAIL SYMPOSIUM: What sort of progress has the genetics revolution made since you first addressed the issue in front of the Vail Symposium audience two years ago?

METZL: The genetics revolution is charging forward at a blistering, exponentially accelerating pace. Virtually every day, major progress is being made deciphering the genome; describing gene-editing tools to alter the genetic makeup of plants, animals or even humans; and outlining how gene drives can be used to push genetic changes across populations. Even if this rate of change slows, then its absolutely clear to me that these new technologies will transform health care in the short to medium term and alter our evolution as a species in the medium to long term.

VS: Despite your scholarly background on the topic, youve again chosen to use science fiction writing as a way to encompass real issues surrounding the progress in genetics science. How does your new book, Eternal Sonata, based in 2025, two years after the setting of your first genetics thriller, Genesis Code, reflect the true pace, opportunities and consequences of genetic science?

METZL: The genetic revolution is too important to be left only or even primarily to the experts. I write nonfiction articles and spend a lot of time with expert groups, but the general public must be an equal stakeholder in the dialogue about our genetic future. I aspire for my novels to be fun and exciting, but also to help people who might be a little afraid of science find a more accessible on-ramp to thinking about the many complex, challenging human issues associated with technological innovation.

I fully believe well be seeing significant growth in human health and lifespans throughout the coming decades, but this progress will also raise some thorny questions well need to address. Like Genesis Code, its based on real science and tries to explore what it will mean on a human level when new technologies begin to transform our understanding of our own mortality.

VS: How much weight should society put on concerns and opportunities of genetics science, or actually making conscious alterations to humans as a species?

METZL: Advances in genetic technologies will help us live longer, healthier, more robust lives, and we should all be very, very excited about that. Like all technologies, however, there will also be new opportunities for abuse. Thats why we need to have the broadest, most inclusive global dialogue possible to help us develop new norms and standards that can guide our actions going forward. The technologies are new, but the best values we will need to deploy to use them wisely are old.

VS: Has there, then, been any progress in policy to regulate genetics science or legal framework created to limit the radical changes this could have on society?

METZL: There is a real mismatch between the rapid pace of scientific advancement and the glacial pace of regulation. On the one hand, we dont want over-regulation killing this very promising field in its relative infancy. On the other, it is clear that all aspects of altering the human genome must be regulated. This challenge is all the greater because different countries have different belief systems and ethical traditions, so there is a deep need for a global norm-creation and then regulatory harmonization process.

VS: Do you have any insight on how changes in the administration will affect progress in this field of science?

METZL: Many people are worried about how the new administration will deal with these very complex scientific issues. Viewing genetic technologies in the context of the abortion debate would be a significant blow to this work in the United States. But the science is global, and even if the U.S. shuts down all of its labs for ideological or other reasons, then the science will advance elsewhere. Well lose our lead building the future as we wait forever for the coal mining and low-end manufacturing jobs to come back.

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