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Your Chance Of Contracting This Rare Eye Infection More Than Triples If You Wear Reusable Contact Lenses





If you wear soft reusable contact lenses instead of soft disposable ones, your chance of getting an uncommon eye infection rises by almost four times. These sobering conclusions come from study conducted by the University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, which looked at what variables could make someone more likely to get Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK).

“In recent years we have seen an increase of Acanthamoeba keratitis in the UK and Europe, and while the infection is still rare, it is preventable and warrants a public health response,” said lead researcher Professor John Dart in a statement.

“Contact lenses are generally very safe but are associated with a small risk of microbial keratitis, most commonly caused by bacteria, and which is the only sight threatening complication of their use. Given that an estimated 300 million people across the globe wear contact lenses, it is important that people know how to minimise their risks for developing keratitis.”

Over 200 patients were recruited by Dart and colleagues, 83 of them had AK and the remaining 122 were taken to the Moorfields Eye Hospital for various ailments. The second served as a control group so that the researchers could determine what risk factors made someone more likely to develop the corneal infection.

According to their findings, people who wear reusable soft contact lenses had a 3.8-times higher risk of acquiring AK than people who wear daily disposable lenses. Wearing lenses while sleeping and taking a shower raised risk by 3.9 and 3.3 times, respectively. According to the researchers’ calculations, switching to daily disposable lenses might avoid 30-62 percent of AK cases in the UK, and this may hold true for other nations as well.

“Previous studies have linked AK to wearing contact lenses in hot tubs, swimming pools or lakes, and here we have added showers to that list, underlining that exposure to any water when wearing lenses should be avoided,” said first author, Associate Professor Nicole Carnt of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital. “Public pools and coastal authorities could help reduce this risk by advising against swimming in contact lenses.”

Even though sight loss from AK is uncommon, it can occur in extreme cases, which is why the researchers decided to further explore potential risk factors. The team is working to find ways to reduce the annual incidence of AK, which is estimated to affect 1 in 20,000 contact lens wearers in the UK.

Opthalmology published the paper.

As part of the editorial team here at Geekreply, John spends a lot of his time making sure each article is up to snuff. That said, he also occasionally pens articles on the latest in Geek culture. From Gaming to Science, expect the latest news fast from John and team.

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Medicine and Health

Scientist Investigating SARS-CoV-2 Virus Suggests Possible Indications of Simulation Existence





A physicist specializing in the study of mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus has put forward intriguing evidence supporting a potential new law of physics known as the “second law of infodynamics.”. This discovery raises fascinating questions about the nature of our reality and the possibility of living in a simulated universe. In addition, he suggests that the study seems to suggest that the theory of evolution is incorrect, as it challenges the notion that mutations are completely random.

There is a great deal of complexity to delve into in this situation. It is important to note that making extraordinary claims necessitates providing extraordinary evidence. However, as Dr. Melvin Vopson elucidates in his research, we currently lack such evidence. Actually, we are far from reaching that point. Nevertheless, the concepts and findings presented are captivating and thought-provoking, even if additional research or examination may later disprove them.

In his most recent study, Vopson examined mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus from a unique perspective, focusing on information entropy rather than the traditional concept of entropy.

“The physical entropy of a given system is a measure of all its possible physical microstates compatible with the macrostate,” Vopson explained in the paper. “This is a property of the microstates in the system that do not carry any information.” Given the same system and the ability to generate N information states within it (such as by encoding digital bits), creating N information states results in the formation of N extra information microstates that overlap with the existing physical microstates. These extra microstates contain valuable information, and the increase in entropy they bring is known as information entropy.”

According to Vopson, there is a tendency for entropy to increase over time, but interestingly, information entropy tends to decrease. Consider the heat death of the universe, where the entire cosmos eventually reaches a state of thermal equilibrium. At this stage, the maximum value of entropy has been attained, although not in terms of information entropy. During heat death (or just before), the temperature range and potential states in any part of the universe become extremely limited. As a result, the number of possible events decreases and the amount of superimposed information decreases, leading to a decrease in information entropy.

Although it may offer an intriguing perspective on the universe, can it provide us with any novel insights, or is it merely a secondary and insignificant approach to describing entropy? According to Vopson, the concept has the potential to be a fundamental law that could impact a wide range of fields, including genetics and the evolution of the universe.

“Based on my research, it seems that the second law of infodynamics is an essential principle in cosmology.” According to Vopson’s article in The Conversation, this has broad applicability and significant scientific implications. “It is understood that the universe undergoes expansion while maintaining a constant total entropy, without any heat loss or gain.” However, it is important to note that entropy always increases according to the principles of thermodynamics. This indicates the presence of an additional form of entropy, namely information entropy, that serves to counterbalance the increase.

With the expertise of a seasoned scientist, Vopson observed the ever-changing SARS-CoV-2 virus throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular sequencing of the virus has been conducted to closely monitor its changes, primarily with the aim of developing new vaccines. Examining the RNA instead of DNA, he discovered a gradual decrease in information entropy.

One fascinating example of a rapidly mutating organism is a virus. According to Vopson, the pandemic has provided an exceptional opportunity for research, with the numerous variants of SARS-CoV-2 serving as an unprecedented test sample. The amount of data available is truly remarkable, as stated in a press release.

The COVID data provides strong evidence for the second law of infodynamics, and this research has the potential to unlock countless possibilities. Imagine examining a specific genome and determining the potential benefits of a mutation before it occurs. This technology has the potential to revolutionize various fields, such as genetic therapies, the pharmaceutical industry, evolutionary biology, and pandemic research.

According to Vopson’s perspective, this implies that mutations are not haphazard but rather subject to a governing principle that dictates that information entropy should either remain constant or decrease over time. If this discovery is verified, it would be truly remarkable, as it challenges our current understanding of evolution. Vopson draws attention to a previous experiment conducted in 1972, where a virus unexpectedly experienced a decrease in its genome over 74 generations under optimal conditions. He argues that this observation aligns with his second law of infodynamics.

“Mutations occur randomly and are then subject to natural selection, which determines their impact on an organism,” he explained. What if there’s an underlying process that fuels these mutations? Whenever we encounter something beyond our comprehension, we tend to label it as ‘random’, ‘chaotic’, or ‘paranormal’, when in reality, it is simply our own limitation in explaining it.

By adopting a deterministic perspective, we have the potential to harness the laws of physics to anticipate and forecast genetic mutations, or even their likelihood, prior to their occurrence.

Vopson suggests that the law could potentially provide an explanation for the prevalence of symmetry in the universe.

“A high level of symmetry is associated with a state of low information entropy, which aligns with the requirements of the second law of infodynamics,” stated Vopson in his paper. “Therefore, this fascinating observation seems to provide an explanation for the prevalence of symmetry in the universe; it can be attributed to the influence of the second law of information dynamics.”

The audacious assertions (with their need for additional evidence) don’t end there.

“According to Vopson in The Conversation, the second law of infodynamics is a cosmological necessity and seems to have a universal application. This suggests that the entire universe might be a simulated construct or a massive computer.”

“In order to efficiently run a simulation of our incredibly complex universe, it would be necessary to incorporate data optimization and compression techniques. This would help reduce the computational power and data storage requirements needed for the simulation.” This is precisely what we see happening everywhere, from digital data and biological systems to mathematical symmetries and the vast expanse of the universe.”

Confirmation of the “second law of infodynamics” wouldn’t necessarily imply that we are living in a simulation. It’s important to consider that the theory could still hold true even if that scenario isn’t the case. There are additional quantum mechanical effects that seem to indicate that we are not.

So, what are the next steps for testing this further? According to the principles of infodynamics, it is believed that information possesses mass, enabling it to interact with all other entities. There are indications that this might be true, as suggested by a study conducted in 2012 that found that irreversible erasure of information seems to release heat. According to Vopson’s findings, it suggests that this energy needs to be converted into mass before it can be erased, essentially treating information as a distinct form of matter that is on par with mass and energy.

Experimentally determining whether information possesses mass may not pose a significant challenge. Performing a basic experiment involves measuring the mass of a hard drive both before and after irreversible information erasure. Regrettably, our current capabilities are insufficient to handle the minute mass change anticipated.

However, if this theory holds true, it is highly probable that elementary particles would contain valuable self-information, as suggested by Vopson. For example, consider the fascinating process of informing an electron (perhaps the sole electron in the entire universe) about its unique characteristics, such as its charge and spin. An interesting experiment involves colliding particles and antiparticles at high velocities.

“The experiment entails eradicating the information stored within elementary particles by allowing them and their antiparticles (mirror images of the particles with opposite charge) to annihilate, resulting in a burst of energy known as ‘photons’ or light particles,” explained Vopson. “I have accurately determined the anticipated range of frequencies for the photons that will be produced using principles from information physics.”

Although the concept may not align with conventional thinking, the experiment comes at a relatively affordable price of $180,000 (which is insignificant for advocates of simulation theory like Elon Musk) and can be tested using existing technology. Indeed, it may provide valuable insights into the validity of the concept. Exploring this idea could prove to be intriguing, as we aim to either dismiss it or determine its significance in terms of mass.

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Medicine and Health

Vaccine Breakthrough Could Mean Future-Proof Shots Without Boosters





A novel vaccine platform could eliminate boosters for some diseases since one dose could cover all future viral strains. It’s only been tried in mice, but researchers are optimistic.

“This could be the universal vaccine that we have been looking for,” said UC Riverside virologist Rong Hai.

The vaccination contains live, attenuated virus. Many vaccines, including MMR and chickenpox, use a similar mechanism. Unlike them, the new vaccines won’t require the immune system to respond to the infection. RNA interference (RNAi) will be activated instead.

Though it sounds like COVID-19’s mRNA vaccines, it operates differently.

As an immunological response to viral infection, hosts—people, mice, and others—produce short interfering RNAs. “These RNAi knock down the virus,” said lead author Shouwei Ding, renowned microbiology professor.

By generating proteins that prevent RNAi, viruses can avoid this response, but weakening them first solves the problem. It can replicate, but the host RNAi response wins. This weakened virus can be utilized as a vaccination to improve our RNAi immune system, Ding said.

Mutating won’t help either. “Viruses may mutate in vaccine-untargeted areas. We target their entire genome with thousands of tiny RNAs, Hai said. “They cannot escape this.”

The idea that RNAi can help people fight viral infections has been controversial, but over the last decade, several researchers have begun studying RNAi-based treatments.

The novel vaccine platform has another major benefit. Since it doesn’t require B and T cells, it could be utilized in very young babies or persons with immunological problems who can’t receive live vaccines.

The researchers designed a Nodamura mouse virus vaccination to test this. Mice genetically engineered to eliminate B and T immune cells received one shot. That one shot protected them from the Nodamura virus for at least three months, a considerable period considering mice typically live two to three years.

Since newborn mice can manufacture short RNAs, the vaccine worked in them, making it suitable for babies too young to receive immunizations.

A previous study suggests that flu infection triggers the RNAi system; therefore, that’s their next target. To reduce needle anxiety, they want to create a nasal spray vaccine.

We’ll apply this idea to create a flu vaccination for infants next. If we succeed, they won’t need their moms’ antibodies, added Ding.

It’s still early, but if it works, applying the method to other infections should be easy.

Ding said, “Dengue, SARS, and COVID are well-known human pathogens. They share viral functions. For easy knowledge transfer, this should apply to these viruses.”

The paper appears in PNAS.

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Medicine and Health

UK Vote: People born after 2009 will never be able to buy tobacco again





In a vote on Tuesday, April 16, most politicians in the UK agreed with a law that would make it illegal for anyone born after 2009 to ever legally buy tobacco in the country. “The first smoke-free generation” is what the UK government wants to make happen. What will happen next? How will the ban work?

How does the new law in the UK work?
According to the BBC, the new law will raise the age limit for buying tobacco products in the UK by one year every year. The government wants to make the law effective by 2027. It comes after similar efforts in places like New Zealand, which just recently got rid of its own groundbreaking ban.

In real life, this means that people born after 2009 will never be old enough to buy cigarettes because they will never reach the legal age limit. There will be no changes for people who are already over the age limit (18), and smoking will still be legal.

The Cigarettes and Vapes Bill also wants to stop young people who have never smoked from starting to vape instead. The UK as a whole will follow through on a plan to ban disposable vapes. There will be a new tax, and companies that make vapes will have to change the flavors and packaging of their products to make them less appealing to kids.

These nicotine pouches have been getting a lot of attention in politics lately. Young people will not be able to use them either.

What do people think about the bill?
Everyone in the UK agrees with the bill, and it was expected to easily pass on Tuesday, when it did by 383 votes to 67. A statement from Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said that the bill “will save thousands of lives, ease the strain on our NHS and improve the UK’s productivity.”

But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t caused some trouble. A number of Conservative MPs either didn’t vote or voted against the bill.

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss referred to those who supported the bill as “finger-wagging nannying control freaks.” Others have questioned whether the ban can be enforced or even whether it will work to stop people from smoking.

There is, however, broad agreement among health experts that the law will be a good step forward.

“The prime minister’s promise to raise the age at which people can buy cigarettes would really change the health of the next generation,” said Professor Stephen Holgate, an expert in immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton. “What a great legacy it would be to put the health of the nation’s future ahead of all other concerns.”

Prof. John Iredale of the University of Bristol agreed, saying, “We owe it to our kids and teens to stop letting them be around tobacco.” As a junior doctor, I saw over and over how smoking-related illnesses and deaths hurt people, especially breadwinners, people who worked, and their families.

“A chance that will never come up again.”
More than 8 million people die every year from smoking, according to the World Health Organization. In addition to the well-known link to cancer, cigarettes have been linked to a number of other diseases, both in people who smoke them and in people who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Nicotine in tobacco products is very addicting, which makes it hard to stop. That’s why health officials work so hard to get people not to smoke in the first place.

It took a few years to get the UK to ban it. People who support it will likely feel good about their latest political win, even though there are still more problems to solve before it is fully put into place.

Some commentators have talked about the fact that the country is likely to have a new government later this year. However, the path ahead looks pretty clear since this bill has support from both sides of the aisle.

Expert scientists like Professor Ann McNeill of King’s College London are very happy about this: “We have known for decades how uniquely deadly smoking is, but we have not done anything about it.” The Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a one-time chance to make things right and stop people from smoking in a generation.

“We should all work together to support it.”

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