Community bakery hailed as local hero

first_imgAn Aberdeen bakery, which provides work for adults with learning disabilities, has been nominated for a national award.Newton Dee bakery in Bieldside has been nominated in the Local Hero 2007 awards. Run by the UKTV Food channel, the awards aim to honour Britain’s best independent shops, farm stalls, artisan producers and cafés.Voted for by the public, the Newton Dee bakery has been nominated in recognition of its passion, quality and use of organic ingredients.Around 200 adults with learning disabilities and other support needs work at the bakery. The competition winners will feature as part of a TV series. The winner will receive £40,000 to invest in their business.last_img read more

Diamonds are a lab’s best friend

first_imgIt’s one of the purest and most versatile materials in the world, with uses in everything from jewelry to industrial abrasives to quantum science. But a group of Harvard scientists has uncovered a new use for diamonds: tracking neural signals in the brain.Using atomic-scale quantum defects in diamonds known as nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers to detect the magnetic field generated by neural signals, scientists working in the lab of Ronald Walsworth, a faculty member in Harvard’s Center for Brain Science and Physics Department, demonstrated a noninvasive technique that can image the activity of neurons.The work was described in a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was performed in collaboration with Harvard faculty members Mikhail (Misha) Lukin and Hongkun Park.“The idea of using NV centers for sensing neuron magnetic fields began with the initial work of Ron Walsworth and Misha Lukin about 10 years ago, but for a long time our back-of-the-envelope calculations made it seem that the fields would be too small to detect, and the technology wasn’t there yet,” said Jennifer Schloss, a Ph.D. student and co-author of the study.“This paper is really the first step to show that measuring magnetic fields from individual neurons can be done in a scalable way,” said Ph.D. student and fellow co-author Matthew Turner. “We wanted to be able to model the signal characteristics, and say, based on theory, ‘This is what we expect to see.’ Our experimental results were consistent with these expectations. This predictive ability is important for understanding more complicated neuronal networks.”At the heart of the system developed by Schloss and Turner, together with postdoctoral scientist John Barry, is a tiny — just 4-by-4 millimeters square and half a millimeter thick — wafer of diamond impregnated with trillions of NV centers.The system works, Schloss and Turner explained, because the magnetic fields generated by signals traveling in a neuron interact with the electrons in the NV centers, subtly changing their quantum “spin” state. The diamond wafer is bathed in microwaves, which put the NV electrons in a mixture of two spin states. A neuron magnetic field then causes a change in the fraction of spins in one of the two states. Using a laser constrained to the diamond, the researchers can detect this fraction, reading out the neural signal as an optical image, without light entering the biological sample.In addition to demonstrating that the system works for dissected neurons, Schloss, Turner, and Barry showed that NV sensors could be used to sense neural activity in live, intact marine worms.“We realized we could just put the whole animal on the sensor and still detect the signal, so it’s completely noninvasive,” Turner said. “That’s one reason using magnetic fields offers an advantage over other methods. If you measure voltage- or light-based signals in traditional ways, biological tissue can distort those signals. With magnetic fields, though the signal gets smaller with stand-off distance, the information is preserved.”Schloss, Turner, and Barry were also able to show that the neural signals traveled more slowly from the worm’s tail to its head than from head to tail, and their magnetic field measurements matched predictions of this difference in conduction velocity.While the study proves that NV centers can be used to detect neural signals, Turner said the initial experiments were designed to tackle the most accessible approach to the problem, using robust neurons that produce especially large magnetic fields. The team is already working to further refine the system, with an eye toward improving its sensitivity and pursuing applications to frontier problems in neuroscience. To sense signals from smaller mammalian neurons, Schloss explained, they intend to implement a pulsed magnetometry scheme to realize up to 300 times better sensitivity per volume. The next step, said Turner, is implementing a high-resolution imaging system in hopes of producing real-time, optical images of neurons as they fire.“We’re looking at imaging networks of neurons over long durations, up to days,” said Schloss. “We hope to use this to understand not just the physical connectivity between neurons, but the functional connectivity — how the signals actually propagate to inform how neural circuits operate over the long term.”“No tool that exists today can tell us everything we want to know about neuronal activity or be applied to all systems of interest,” Turner said. “This quantum diamond technology lays out a new direction for addressing some of these challenges. Imaging neuron magnetic fields is a largely unexplored area due to previous technological limitations.”The hope, Schloss said, is that the tool might one day find a home in the labs of biomedical researchers or anyone interested in understanding brain activity.“We want to understand the brain from the single-neuron level all the way up, so we envision that this could become a tool useful both in biophysics labs and in medical studies,” she said. “It’s noninvasive and fast, and the optical readout could allow for a variety of applications, from studying neurodegenerative diseases to monitoring drug delivery in real time.”Walsworth credits the leadership of Josh Sanes, the Paul J. Finnegan Family Director of the center, and Kenneth Blum, executive director, for enabling this biological application of quantum diamond technology. “Center for Brain Science leadership provided the essential lab space and a welcoming, interdisciplinary community,” he said. “This special environment allows physical scientists and engineers to translate quantum technology into neuroscience.”last_img read more

EIOPA chairman calls for debate on past pensions promises

first_imgUnder German law, it is nearly impossible to make changes to pension benefits members have already earned based on their number of work years. Employers have argued that they suffer as a result of this.Pensionsfonds were given some flexibility to relax minimum guarantees under what has become known as the Lex Bosch law.More recently, the German government has proposed a pensions reform that would introduce industry-wide pension funds without guarantees, either within existing schemes or new vehicles to be set up by social partners.Addressing the Dutch pension sector’s objection to having to apply low discount rates for liabilities, EIOPA’s chairman said low rates were “just reality”.Bernardino, however, sought to put the problems of the Netherlands into perspective by noting that many other countries, contrary to the well-funded Dutch pensions sector, lacked private pensions, adding that “Europe is facing an enormous pensions deficit”.Bernardino also warned against insurers selling pension products with a guaranteed interest rate for the very long term.“In my opinion, this is not possible, or sufficiently attractive to clients, in the current economic climate,” he said. The Netherlands is discussing changing its predominantly defined benefit system into a more sustainable set-up, which is scheduled to come into force from 2020.At the moment, the Social and Economic Council is weighing the possibility of individual pensions accrual, as well as a “target contract” – with both being combined with collective risk-sharing.A new government is set to make the final decisions on any new pensions system, following national elections in March. Gabriel Bernardino, chairman at European supervisor EIOPA, has called for a public debate on the issue of past pension promises becoming untenable as a result of the low-interest-rate environment.In an interview with Dutch news daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), he argued that a public discussion was necessary to avoid friction between the younger and older generations.“Some generations getting privileges at the expense of others will not work well forever, and risks won’t just disappear by ignoring the issue,” the FD quoted him as saying.Bernardino said benefit guarantees were a growing challenge for traditional pension funds in the current economic climate, with those in Germany being a case in point. last_img read more

FKF tables Sh200mn budget for 2019 AFCON

first_img0Shares0000Harambee Stars players celebrate Eric Johannah’s goal against Ethiopia during a 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier at the Kasarani Stadium on October 14, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluNAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) says it has presented a Sh200mn (2mn USD) budget to the Ministry of Sports for next year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) after Kenya’s qualification was confirmed following Sierra Leone’s expulsion from the qualifiers.FKF boss Nick Mwendwa says they have put in an elaborate plan to prepare the team for a return to continental football for the first time in 15 years and noted the figure might reduce or increase depending on where the Cup of Nations will be held. “We have a game away to Ghana; now we are treating that game as part of the preparations for AFCON. Then we will play a friendly game in Kenya, then we will play against three teams as further build up. If it will be in Europe, the costs will be a bit high. On top of that, we are budgeting for one month away in the Cup of Nations,” Mwendwa explained on Thursday.Initially, the Federation had planned to have the team camp in France for three weeks with the Cup of Nations still in Cameroon, but with a change in hosts, that might change.Part of the plan was to play three build up matches in France and on top of it travel to London to play against Jamaica.“Now with Cameroon being stripped of the rights, we will wait and see who gets it because CAF has opened a one-month bidding window. If it’s in South Africa, then we will have to change our plans because we can’t prepare all the way in France and come down to play in South Africa,” Mwendwa noted.Football Kenya Federation president Nick Mwendwa addressing the press during a briefing at the Federation’s offices PHOTO/Raymond MakhayaHe added; “So depending on where the tournament will be, the budget might go up or come down. But we have already presented our budget to the ministry and we will wait to see.”Mwendwa also noted that with the Sports Fund set to be operationalized in the next few weeks, the budget of footing that budget will come down even as he admitted they are yet to pay Harambee Starlets for the three weeks they spent in camp before their Cup of Nations dream was cut short.At the same time, the Federation chief has said they will plan a friendly match in Nairobi against a high profile team after playing the last qualification match against Ghana in March as a way of thanking fans for their support and ‘sending the team off’ to AFCON.The team is scheduled to get into camp midway through may after the conclusion of the 2018/2019 season and get into high gear of preparationsMeanwhile, Mwendwa has said the Sh50mn promise made by Deputy President William Ruto for the team’s qualification to the Cup of Nations will be divided between the federation and the team.Deputy President William Ruto listens to Football Kenya Federation boss Nick Mwendwa as Sports PS Kirimi Kaberia and Sports Kenya Chairman Fred Muteti listen in at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on October 12, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluAccording to the preliminary plan, the team will get 70pc (Sh35mn) while the Federation will get 30pc (Sh15mn) which will aid in offsetting bills incurred during the qualification process.“We are trying to see what is the best way to go about it, but we will always talk to the players and find out what works best for them,” Mwendwa added.Stars are now only waiting for an official communication from CAF confirming their place in the Cup of Nations, but are now primarily depending on the qualification rules passed last year.At the same time, Mwendwa has said they will still pursue the case at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) involving Harambee Starlets’ exclusion from the Cup of Nations.“We are still pursuing it at CAS. We are trying to gather our documentations proper. We are going in full; we are going to ask for reprieve for those actions. This is just not about money but about justice. This was justice denied to Kenya at a critical point when CAF really bungled with the actions they were having. We will not relent until CAS makes a decision on this matter,” Mwendwa said.Starlets had gone into camp and trained for three weeks after CAF’s disciplinary board threw Equatorial Guinea out of the tournament after fielding an ineligible player in their qualifier against Kenya, only for the Appeals committee to overturn that decision.This happened barely a week to the Cup of Nations and FKF want the continental football body to reimburse the expenses they incurred during the team’s time in camp.0Shares0000(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more