739 research outputs found

    An Apparatus for Synchronized Precipitation under Sterile Conditions

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    The apparatus for .synchronized precipitation devised earlier1 enables the experimenter to achieve extremely slow and controlled mixing of the reactants and to avoid local supersaturations

    Montessori's mediation of meaning: a social semiotic perspective

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    The distinctive objects designed by Dr Maria Montessori as the centrepiece of her approach to pedagogy are the topic of this study. The Montessori approach to pedagogy, celebrating its centenary in 2007, continues to be used in classrooms throughout the world. Despite such widespread and enduring use, there has been little analysis of the Montessori objects to evaluate or understand their pedagogic impact. This study begins by outlining the provenance of the Montessori objects, reaching the conclusion that the tendency to interpret them from the perspective of the progressive education movement of the early twentieth century fails to provide insights into the developmental potential embodied in the objects. In order to appreciate that potential more fully, the study explores the design of the objects, specifically, the way in which the semiotic qualities embodied in their design orient children to the meanings of educational knowledge. A meta-analytic framework comprising three components is used to analyse the semiotic potential of the Montessori objects as educational artefacts. First, Vygotsky’s model of development is used to analyse the objects as external mediational means and to recognise the objects as complexes of signs materialising educational knowledge. In order to understand how the objects capture, in the form of concrete analogues, the linguistic meanings which construe educational knowledge, systemic functional linguistics, the second component of the framework, is used to achieve a rich and detailed social semiotic analysis of these relations, in particular, material and linguistic representations of abstract educational meanings. Finally, the pedagogic device, a central feature of Bernstein’s sociology of pedagogy, is used to analyse how the Montessori objects re-contextualise educational knowledge as developmental pedagogy. Particular attention is paid to the Montessori literacy pedagogy, in which the study of grammar plays a central role. The study reveals a central design principle which distinguishes the Montessori objects. This principle is the redundant representation of educational knowledge across multiple semiotic modes. Each representation holds constant the underlying meaning relations which construe quanta of educational knowledge, giving children the freedom to engage with this knowledge playfully, independently and successfully. The conclusion drawn from this study is that the design of the Montessori objects represents valuable educational potential which deserves continued investigation, as well as wider recognition and application. To initiate this process, the findings in this study may provide insights which can be used to develop tools for evaluating and enhancing the implementation of Montessori pedagogy in Montessori schools. The findings may also be used to adapt Montessori design principles for the benefit of educators working in non-Montessori contexts, in particular, those educators concerned with developing pedagogies which promote equitable access to educational knowledge

    Common variants of ZNF750, RPTOR and TRAF3IP2 genes and psoriasis risk

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    Psoriasis vulgaris is a genetically heterogenous disease with unclear molecular background. We assessed the association of psoriasis and its main clinical phenotypes with common variants of three potential psoriasis susceptibility genes: ZNF750, RPTOR and TRAF31P2. We genotyped 10 common variants in a cohort of 1,034 case–control individuals using Taqman genotyping assays and sequencing. Minor alleles of all four TRAF3IP2 variants were more frequent among cases. The strongest, significant association was observed for rs33980500 (OR = 2.5, p = 0.01790). Minor allele of this SNP was always present in two haplotypes found to be associated with increased psoriasis risk: rs13196377_G + rs13190932_G + rs33980500_T + rs13210247_A (OR = 2.7, p = 0.0054) and rs13196377_A + rs13190932_A + rs33980500_T + rs13210247_G (OR = 1.8, p = 0.0008). Analyses of clinically relevant phenotypes revealed association of rs33980500 with pustular psoriasis (OR = 1.2, p = 0.0109). We observed significant connection of severity of cutaneous disease with variation at rs13190932 and suggestive with three remaining TRAF3IP2 SNPs. Another positive associations were found between age of onset and familial aggregation of disease: smoking and younger age of onset, smoking and occurrence of pustular psoriasis, nail involvement and arthropatic psoriasis, nail involvement and more severe course of psoriasis. We found no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of the examined variants of RPTOR and ZNF750 genes among our cases and controls. We have replicated the association of TRAF3IP2-_rs33980500 variant with the susceptibility to psoriasis. We have found new associations with clinically relevant subphenotypes such as pustular psoriasis or moderate-to-severe cases. We ascertain no connection of RPTOR and ZNF750 variants with psoriasis or its subphenotypes. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00403-013-1407-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users

    Increased amino acids levels and the risk of developing of hypertriglyceridemia in a 7-year follow-up

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    BACKGROUND: Recently, five branched-chain and aromatic amino acids were shown to be associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). AIM: We set out to examine whether amino acids are also associated with the development of hypertriglyceridemia. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We determined the serum amino acids concentrations of 1,125 individuals of the KORA S4 baseline study, for which follow-up data were available also at the KORA F4 7 years later. After exclusion for hypertriglyceridemia (defined as having a fasting triglyceride level above 1.70 mmol/L) and diabetes at baseline, 755 subjects remained for analyses. RESULTS: Increased levels of leucine, arginine, valine, proline, phenylalanine, isoleucine and lysine were significantly associated with an increased risk of hypertriglyceridemia. These associations remained significant when restricting to those individuals who did not develop T2D in the 7-year follow-up. The increase per standard deviation of amino acid level was between 26 and 40 %. CONCLUSIONS: Seven amino acids were associated with an increased risk of developing hypertriglyceridemia after 7 years. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the complex role of these amino acids in the pathogenesis of metabolic disorders

    Early evolution of the T-box transcription factor family

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    Deèelopmental transcription factors are key players in animal multicellularity, being members of the T-box family that are among the most important. Until recently, T-box transcription factors were thought to be exclusièely present in metazoans. Here, we report the presence of T-box genes in seèeral nonmetazoan lineages, including ichthyosporeans, filastereans, and fungi. Our data confirm that Brachyury is the most ancient member of the T-box family and establish that the T-box family dièersified at the onset of Metazoa. Moreoèer, we demonstrate functional conserèation of a homolog of Brachyury of the protist Capsaspora owczarzaki in Xenopus laeèis. By comparing the molecular phenotype of C. owczarzaki Brachyury with that of homologs of early branching metazoans, we define a clear difference between unicellular holozoan and metazoan Brachyury homologs, suggesting that the specificity of Brachyury emerged at the origin of Metazoa. Experimental determination of the binding preferences of the C. owczarzaki Brachyury results in a similar motif to that of metazoan Brachyury and other T-box classes. This finding suggests that functional specificity between different T-box classes is likely achieèed by interaction with alternatièe cofactors, as opposed to differences in binding specificity

    The Pioneer Anomaly

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    Radio-metric Doppler tracking data received from the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft from heliocentric distances of 20-70 AU has consistently indicated the presence of a small, anomalous, blue-shifted frequency drift uniformly changing with a rate of ~6 x 10^{-9} Hz/s. Ultimately, the drift was interpreted as a constant sunward deceleration of each particular spacecraft at the level of a_P = (8.74 +/- 1.33) x 10^{-10} m/s^2. This apparent violation of the Newton's gravitational inverse-square law has become known as the Pioneer anomaly; the nature of this anomaly remains unexplained. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the physical properties of the anomaly and the conditions that led to its detection and characterization. We review various mechanisms proposed to explain the anomaly and discuss the current state of efforts to determine its nature. A comprehensive new investigation of the anomalous behavior of the two Pioneers has begun recently. The new efforts rely on the much-extended set of radio-metric Doppler data for both spacecraft in conjunction with the newly available complete record of their telemetry files and a large archive of original project documentation. As the new study is yet to report its findings, this review provides the necessary background for the new results to appear in the near future. In particular, we provide a significant amount of information on the design, operations and behavior of the two Pioneers during their entire missions, including descriptions of various data formats and techniques used for their navigation and radio-science data analysis. As most of this information was recovered relatively recently, it was not used in the previous studies of the Pioneer anomaly, but it is critical for the new investigation.Comment: 165 pages, 40 figures, 16 tables; accepted for publication in Living Reviews in Relativit

    The Rise of the Resilient Local Authority?

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    The term resilience is increasingly being utilised within the study of public policy to depict how individuals, communities and organisations can adapt, cope, and ‘bounce back’ when faced with external shocks such as climate change, economic recession and cuts in public expenditure. In focussing on the local dimensions of the resilience debate, this article argues that the term can provide useful insights into how the challenges facing local authorities in the UK can be reformulated and reinterpreted. The article also distinguishes between resilience as ‘recovery’ and resilience as ‘transformation’, with the latter's focus on ‘bouncing forward’ from external shocks seen as offering a more radical framework within which the opportunities for local innovation and creativity can be assessed and explained. While also acknowledging some of the weaknesses of the resilience debate, the dangers of conceptual ‘stretching’, and the extent of local vulnerabilities, the article highlights a range of examples where local authorities – and crucially, local communities – have enhanced their adaptive capacity, within existing powers and responsibilities. From this viewpoint, some of the barriers to the development of resilient local government are not insurmountable, and can be overcome by ‘digging deep’ to draw upon existing resources and capabilities, promoting a strategic approach to risk, exhibiting greater ambition and imagination, and creating space for local communities to develop their own resilience

    Discovery of Sexual Dimorphisms in Metabolic and Genetic Biomarkers

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    Metabolomic profiling and the integration of whole-genome genetic association data has proven to be a powerful tool to comprehensively explore gene regulatory networks and to investigate the effects of genetic variation at the molecular level. Serum metabolite concentrations allow a direct readout of biological processes, and association of specific metabolomic signatures with complex diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular and metabolic disorders has been shown. There are well-known correlations between sex and the incidence, prevalence, age of onset, symptoms, and severity of a disease, as well as the reaction to drugs. However, most of the studies published so far did not consider the role of sexual dimorphism and did not analyse their data stratified by gender. This study investigated sex-specific differences of serum metabolite concentrations and their underlying genetic determination. For discovery and replication we used more than 3,300 independent individuals from KORA F3 and F4 with metabolite measurements of 131 metabolites, including amino acids, phosphatidylcholines, sphingomyelins, acylcarnitines, and C6-sugars. A linear regression approach revealed significant concentration differences between males and females for 102 out of 131 metabolites (p-values<3.8 x 10(-4); Bonferroni-corrected threshold). Sex-specific genome-wide association studies (GWAS) showed genome-wide significant differences in beta-estimates for SNPs in the CPS1 locus (carbamoyl-phosphate synthase 1, significance level: p<3.8 x 10(-10); Bonferroni-corrected threshold) for glycine. We showed that the metabolite profiles of males and females are significantly different and, furthermore, that specific genetic variants in metabolism-related genes depict sexual dimorphism. Our study provides new important insights into sex-specific differences of cell regulatory processes and underscores that studies should consider sex-specific effects in design and interpretation
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