Today on New Scientist: 9 December 2012







Climate talks stumbling towards a deal

As the Qatar climate summit looks set to run into the weekend, we look at some key issues, such as compensation for poor countries harmed by climate change



Twin spacecraft map the mass of the man in the moon

Two satellites called Ebb and Flow have revealed the fine variations in the moon's surface with the most detailed gravity map ever



Just cut down on fat to shed weight

A review of studies involving 75,000 people shows that simply eating less fat made them lighter



North-east Japan quake rattles same fault as last year

A new quake off Japan's Pacific coast revives memories of 2011 tsunami; Fukushima nuclear power station "undamaged"



YouTube reorganises video with automated channels

Software that automatically classifies video into channels catering to specific interests is YouTube's latest ploy to become the future of television



A mathematician's magnificent failure to explain life

An attempt to explain life was career suicide for mathematician Dorothy Wrinch, we learn from Marjorie Senechal's biography I Died for Beauty



Parasite makes mice fearless by hijacking immune cells

The Toxoplasma parasite does its dirty work by getting immune cells to make a chemical normally found in the brain



'Specialist knowledge is useless and unhelpful'

Kaggle.com has turned data prediction into sport. People competing to solve problems are outclassing the specialists, says its president Jeremy Howard



Feedback: Numerical value of 'don't know'

The value of indifference, carbon-free sugar, scientists massacred in the nude, and more



Friday Illusion: 100-year-old quilt reveals 3D vortex

See a mind-bending effect crafted into a recently discovered quilt that changes depending on its colours and dimensions



Space-time waves may be hiding in dead star pulses

The first direct detection of gravitational waves may happen in 2013, if new studies of pulsars affected by galaxy mergers are correct



2012 Flash Fiction shortlist: Go D

From nearly 130 science-inspired stories, our judge Alice LaPlante has narrowed down a fantastic shortlist. Story five of five: Go D by Michael Rolfe



Captured: the moment photosynthesis changed the world

For the first time, geologists have found evidence of how modern photosynthesis evolved 2.4 billion years ago



Commute to work on the roller coaster train

A Japanese train based on a theme park ride could make getting around cleaner - and more fun



BSE infected cattle have prions in saliva

The discovery of tiny levels of prions in cow saliva might pave way for a test for BSE before symptoms develop, and raises questions about transmission



Space bigwigs offer billion-dollar private moon trips

Robots aren't the only ones heading to the moon. The Golden Spike Company will sell you a ticket whether you want to explore, mine or just show off



Human eye proteins detect red beyond red

Tweaking the structure of a protein found in the eye has given it the ability to react to red light that is normally unperceivable




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Myanmar apologises to monks over mine protest injuries






YANGON: Myanmar's government has apologised to senior Buddhist clerics over injuries sustained in a violent police crackdown on a rally at a Chinese-backed copper mine, state media said Saturday.

Religious Affairs Minister Myint Maung said the incident at the mine in Monywa, northern Myanmar, in which at least 99 monks and 11 others suffered wounds including severe burns, was a "great grief" to the government as Myanmar looks to dampen public anger over the injuries.

At a ceremony with some of the country's top clerics, he "begged the pardon of wounded monks and novices", blaming the "incompetency" of the authorities, according to a report in the New Light of Myanmar.

But he stopped short of apologising for the crackdown itself, saying the demonstration had a "political" element and that the government was treating the wounded with a "clear conscience".

The pre-dawn raid on protest camps at the mine last month was the toughest clampdown on demonstrators since a reformist government came to power last year.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been appointed by the government to lead a probe into the incident, as well as claims of evictions and pollution at the mine.

Earlier this week she said it was not yet clear what had caused the demonstrators' injuries, but suggested tear gas could be to blame.

Photographs of the protesters' injuries have stirred outcry across Myanmar reminding the public of brutal junta-era security tactics, including the notorious crackdown on mass monk-led rallies in 2007 known as the "Saffron Revolution".

The dispute at the Monywa mine centres on allegations of mass evictions and environmental damage caused by the project -- a joint venture between Chinese firm Wanbao and military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings.

Activists are calling for work at the project to be suspended to allow impact studies to be carried out, but China insists that the contentious points have already been resolved.

Several people are being held without bail at Yangon's infamous Insein prison over their involvement in other protests against the mine.

According to the New Light of Myanmar, Bhaddanta Kumarabhivamsa, one of the country's most senior monks, called upon all parties to ensure such incidents do not happen again "and try their utmost to behave themselves".

- AFP/ck



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Career night for Noah









AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — To Ben Wallace, Joakim Noah always will be the bag-carrying and doughnut-fetching rookie he was when the two were teammates for part of the 2007-08 season.

So after Noah put up a game for the ages Friday night to lead the Bulls to a 108-104 comeback victory over the Pistons, the recently-retired Wallace rose from his baseline seat at the Palace of Auburn Hills and put Noah in a headlock.

"He said I should've had more rebounds and more points," Noah said, smiling. "But he's a hater. That's why I love him. I'm a hater too."

Noah's career-high 30 points, career-high 23 rebounds and six assists were enough to rally the Bulls from 17 points down to their 16th straight victory in this series.

Noah joined Charles Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett as the only players in the last 25 seasons to post at least 30 points, 23 rebounds and six assists in a game. It's the first time a Bull reached those levels since Charles Oakley had 35 points, 26 rebounds and seven assists on March 15, 1986.

Noah also became the first Bull to post a 30-point, 20-rebound game since Marcus Fizer did so against the Magic on April 12, 2004.

"It's crazy to have numbers like that," Noah said. "It feels great to play well and win. But we have another one (Saturday), so we just have to move on."

Noah paused and smiled.

"Unfortunately," he said.

The Bulls' defense was unfortunate early as the Pistons shot 54.1 percent in the first half to build a 17-point lead.

"The second quarter was an abomination," coach Tom Thibodeau said.

But the Bulls closed the first half with a 14-2 run to pull within 55-50.

"That was critical," Thibodeau said.

Fittingly, Noah nudged the Bulls ahead for good with an offensive rebound, putback and three-point play to snap an 82-82 tie with 8 minutes, 7 seconds remaining. Noah's offensive rebound and dish to Carlos Boozer, who scored 24 points as all five starters reached double figures, produced a left-handed dunk and seven-point lead with 3:18 left.

"He's playing with that kind of effort every night," Kirk Hinrich said. "He goes to the board every time. It's amazing to watch that intensity."

Noah posted 20 points and 17 rebounds his last game here. He also once had a 21-point, 20-rebound effort during the 2010 playoffs against the Cavaliers.

But this was special.

"He was everywhere," Thibodeau said.

And now the schedule turns. Saturday's Knicks game begins a stretch of eight straight against teams in playoff position entering Friday night. The Knicks lead the Eastern Conference.

"They're flying high," Noah said. "They played very well against Miami the other day. They're going to be rested. They're playing probably the best basketball in the NBA right now. It's on us to come in ready."

You know Noah will be.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Twitter @kcjhoop



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Plants Grow Fine Without Gravity


When researchers sent plants to the International Space Station in 2010, the flora wasn't meant to be decorative. Instead, the seeds of these small, white flowers—called Arabidopsis thaliana—were the subject of an experiment to study how plant roots developed in a weightless environment.

Gravity is an important influence on root growth, but the scientists found that their space plants didn't need it to flourish. The research team from the University of Florida in Gainesville thinks this ability is related to a plant's inherent ability to orient itself as it grows. Seeds germinated on the International Space Station sprouted roots that behaved like they would on Earth—growing away from the seed to seek nutrients and water in exactly the same pattern observed with gravity. (Related: "Beyond Gravity.")

Since the flowers were orbiting some 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the Earth at the time, the NASA-funded experiment suggests that plants still retain an earthy instinct when they don't have gravity as a guide.

"The role of gravity in plant growth and development in terrestrial environments is well understood," said plant geneticist and study co-author Anna-Lisa Paul, with the University of Florida in Gainesville. "What is less well understood is how plants respond when you remove gravity." (See a video about plant growth.)

The new study revealed that "features of plant growth we thought were a result of gravity acting on plant cells and organs do not actually require gravity," she added.

Paul and her collaborator Robert Ferl, a plant biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, monitored their plants from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using images sent from the space station every six hours.

Root Growth

Grown on a nutrient-rich gel in clear petri plates, the space flowers showed familiar root growth patterns such as "skewing," where roots slant progressively as they branch out.

"When we saw the first pictures come back from orbit and saw that we had most of the skewing phenomenon we were quite surprised," Paul said.

Researchers have always thought that skewing was the result of gravity's effects on how the root tip interacts with the surfaces it encounters as it grows, she added. But Paul and Ferl suspect that in the absence of gravity, other cues take over that enable the plant to direct its roots away from the seed and light-seeking shoot. Those cues could include moisture, nutrients, and light avoidance.

"Bottom line is that although plants 'know' that they are in a novel environment, they ultimately do just fine," Paul said.

The finding further boosts the prospect of cultivating food plants in space and, eventually, on other planets.

"There's really no impediment to growing plants in microgravity, such as on a long-term mission to Mars, or in reduced-gravity environments such as in specialized greenhouses on Mars or the moon," Paul said. (Related: "Alien Trees Would Bloom Black on Worlds With Double Stars.")

The study findings appear in the latest issue of the journal BMC Plant Biology.


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Federal Agencies Brace for Deep Cuts Post-'Cliff'


Dec 7, 2012 4:22pm







gty barack obama john boehner ll 121206 wblog Federal Agencies Brace for Deep Cuts Post Cliff

Toby Jorrin/AFP/Getty Images


With the “fiscal cliff” quickly approaching, federal agencies are stepping up preparations for deep automatic budget cuts that will kick in Jan. 2 unless the White House and Congress can reach a deal.


The Office of Management and Budget told ABC News that a memo went out to federal agencies earlier this week seeking “additional information and analysis” in order to finalize spending cuts required if we go off the cliff.


The agencies are considering which workers to furlough, projects to put on hold and offices that will have to close.


The request follows the administration’s release of a 400-page report in September that outlined the budget areas to be impacted by the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts and what percentages they would be slashed.


READ MORE: White House Details ‘Doomsday’ Budget Cuts


Billions of dollars could be slashed from defense operations and maintenance programs. Medicare would take a two-percent hit, trimming millions in payouts to health care providers. Scientific research programs would be gutted. Aid for the poor and needy would be sharply curtailed.


The report also detailed operations that would be exempt from any cuts, including active-duty military operations, nuclear watchdogs, homeland security officials, veterans care and other critical areas.


READ: Pentagon Begins Planning for ‘Cliff’ Cuts


Asked about the agency preparations underway, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that OMB “must take certain steps to ensure the administration is ready to issue such an order should Congress fail to act.”


“Earlier this week, OMB issued a request to federal agencies for additional information to finalize calculations on the spending reductions that would be required,” Carney said.


“This action should not be read … as a change in the administration’s commitment to reach an agreement and avoid sequestration.  OMB is simply ensuring that the administration is prepared, should it become necessary to issue such an order,” he said. “OMB will continue to consult with agencies and will provide additional guidance as needed.  This is just acting responsibly because of the potential for this happening.”


Get more pure politics at ABCNews.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com.


More ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Coverage From Today:




SHOWS: World News







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BSE infected cattle have prions in saliva









































ROGUE proteins responsible for mad cow disease have been discovered in the saliva of cows infected as part of an experiment. The finding might pave the way for a simple test for BSE before the symptoms are apparent.












The result from a team led by Yuichi Murayama at the National Institute of Animal Health in Tsukuba, Japan, also suggests, not for the first time, that saliva may be one way some prion diseases can spread. This group of diseases includes scrapie, chronic wasting disease and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease.












However, all available evidence suggests this method of transmission is highly unlikely. So far, the team stress there is no epidemiological evidence that saliva, milk, blood or spinal fluid from BSE-infected animals is infectious.












"Data from sheep with scrapie and deer with chronic wasting disease suggest the infectivity levels are likely to be very low," says Neil Mabbott of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, UK, who investigates infectious disease.












At present, diagnosing BSE is only possible by examining brain tissue after death, when the prions are visible as plaques. To find out if the disease could be detected in live animals, the Japanese team deliberately infected three cows. Then every four months, they screened samples of the cows' saliva using PMC, or protein misfolding cyclic amplification, which ramps up tiny amounts of prion to measurable levels.












In one cow, they detected prions two months before typical symptoms of mad cow disease would be expected to emerge. In the other two, prions were detectable just as the first symptoms began to appear.












"Once the infectious agent reaches the central nervous system, it may spread [away] from the brain to the salivary glands," the researchers wrote in their report (Emerging Infectious Diseases, DOI: 10.3201/eid1812.120528).











When BSE spiralled out of control in the UK 20 years ago, the source was incontrovertibly traced to cattle feed contaminated with brain tissue from infected cows. The Japanese research raises the possibility that it could also spread in body fluids through licking - a theoretical possibility that can't be ruled out by their current data.













The crux of the matter, says Richard Bessen at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, who is evaluating an alternative test for prion detection, is whether there's enough infective material in saliva to spread the disease. "Sure, it may occur in unusual cases, but it is probably not a major pathway for BSE transmission," he says.












"Epidemiological data indicate that in cattle, spread of BSE from animal to animal is very limited or absent, and so any shedding of BSE prions from cattle is very unlikely to spread the disease environmentally," says Kevin Gough, a pathologist at the University of Nottingham, UK.











Although BSE is now practically extinct globally, it still crops up unexpectedly. All researchers contacted by New Scientist said that a test to detect the disease in live animals before they developed symptoms would be invaluable to keep the disease in check.



























































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China's Xi to retrace reform trip






BEIJING: The new leader of China's Communist Party Xi Jinping will make his first official trip in the post to Shenzhen, the country's powerfully symbolic hub of economic reform, a Hong Kong newspaper said Friday.

Xi is due to become national president in March and the choice of the southern city for such a visit would "express his determination to further deepen China's reform," the South China Morning Post said, citing a local propaganda official.

The trip would echo a 1992 tour of Shenzhen by China's longtime leader Deng Xiaoping, who went there to underscore the importance of his policy of "Reform and Opening" as he sought to modernise the economy.

The city, which borders Hong Kong, served as an early "special economic zone" three decades ago, a laboratory of sorts as the Communist country began to seek foreign investment.

The experiment transformed Shenzhen from a small village to a bustling modern city and helped initiate years of roaring economic growth for the country.

Xi's father Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary hero purged by the late leader Mao Zedong and rehabilitated by Deng, oversaw the setting up of the economic zones.

Authorities stressed that they would continue "Reform and Opening" during a once-a-decade party leadership handover last month that put Xi in the number one spot.

His predecessor President Hu Jintao celebrated the "miracle" of Shenzhen in 2010 to mark the 30th anniversary of the special economic zone.

- AFP/ck



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Preckwinkle blasts Emanuel, quickly backs off









Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Thursday quickly backed off a public barb she tossed at Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his crime-fighting strategy, marking the second time in a little more than three months she has toned down off-the-cuff remarks.

This time, the first-term Democrat retreated after saying the mayor and his hand-picked police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, were too focused on arrests as a solution to rising violence and not enough on improving a "miserable" public school system and beefing up youth programs.

"Clearly this mayor and this police chief have decided the way in which they are going to deal with the terrible violence that faces our community is just arrest everybody," Preckwinkle said during a question-and-answer session after delivering a Union League Club luncheon speech on her second anniversary in office. "I don't think in the long term that's going to be successful.

"We're going to have to figure out how to have interventions that are more comprehensive than just police interventions in the communities where we have the highest rates of crime. And they're almost all in African-American and Latino communities."

When Preckwinkle faced reporters minutes later, she said Emanuel is working to improve schools and youth programs. She added that her criticism of the public schools controlled by Emanuel was aimed at society as a whole and not the mayor personally.

The Emanuel flap follows Preckwinkle's remarks about former President Ronald Reagan. In late August, the blunt-talking Preckwinkle took aim at Reagan's legacy. Later she said she regretted saying he deserved "a special place in hell" for his role in the war on drugs.

At the luncheon Thursday, Preckwinkle was asked what she could do to address city violence, which has drawn national attention this year with a spike in the city's murder rate and brazen incidents like the fatal shooting of a young man at a funeral for a reputed gang member.

Preckwinkle said much of the problem results from a Chicago school system with a low high school graduation rate.

"We have contented ourselves with a miserable education system that has failed many of our children," Preckwinkle said, adding that more after-school enrichment and job-training programs were needed. "I'm talking about the kids who don't graduate, let alone the kids who graduate (who) don't get a very good education, even with a high school diploma."

Emanuel aides offered a restrained response.

"Mayor Emanuel strenuously agrees that a holistic approach is necessary to successfully address crime," Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said in a statement. "His multipart strategy ranges from improving early childhood education, providing a longer school day and creating re-engagement centers for youth, to delivering wraparound services, revitalizing the community policing program and working to prevent retaliatory actions by gangs.

"All of these work in tandem, but let's make no mistake, criminals deserve to be arrested," Hamilton wrote.

Emanuel and McCarthy have directed additional police resources into troubled South Side and West Side neighborhoods, combined with additional social services and community-building efforts. Emanuel also dedicated $9 million in additional funding next year for early childhood education, after-school programs and jobs, children's eye exams and programs that address domestic violence.

Reminded of those initiatives, Preckwinkle acknowledged that Emanuel is putting more city money into such programs, some of which are coordinated with the county. She said her criticism of schools wasn't directed at Emanuel, who appoints the Chicago Public Schools board and picks the system's CEO.

"This was a critique of all of us. It wasn't aimed at the mayor," said Preckwinkle, a former CPS high school history teacher.

The point, Preckwinkle said, is that education over the long run will do more to quell violence than arresting people and locking them up.

"You know unfortunately we live in a country in which we are much more willing to spend money on keeping people in prison than we are on educating them in our public schools," she said. "And that's disgraceful. It reflects badly on all of us."

She added, "I don't think we are going to arrest our way out of our violence problems."

Preckwinkle has frequently criticized a justice system that she says locks up African-American and Latino men in far greater numbers than their white counterparts, particularly for drug crimes, when studies show drugs are used in equal numbers across ethnic and racial boundaries.

<em><a href="mailto:hdardick@tribune.com">hdardick@tribune.com</a></em>

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Space Pictures This Week: Lunar Gravity, Venusian Volcano









































































































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John McAfee Out of Hospital, Back in Cell













Software millionaire John McAfee has been returned to an immigration detention cell in Guatemala after being rushed to a Guatemala City hospital via ambulance.


McAfee, 67 -- who soon may be deported back to Belize, where authorities want to question him about the shooting death of his neighbor -- was reportedly found prostrate on the floor of his cell and unresponsive.


He was wheeled into the hospital on a gurney. Photographers followed in pursuit right into the emergency room, but as emergency workers eased McAfee's limp body from the gurney and onto a bed and began to remove his suit, he suddenly spoke up, saying, "Please, not in front of the press."


Earlier today, McAfee had complained of chest pains, raising concerns he might be having a heart attack.


However, that did not appear to be the case. Hours after his emergency, hospital officials sent McAfee back to the detention center, telling ABC News they found no reason to keep him overnight.


In a phone interview overnight, McAfee told ABC News, "I simply passed out, everything went black."


He said he hit his head on the floor when he collapsed. McAfee explained that for the past 48 hours he hasn't eaten and had very little to drink.


McAfee had been scheduled to be deported to Belize, ABC News has learned. But a judge could stay the ruling if it is determined that McAfee's life is threatened by being in Belizean custody, as McAfee has claimed in the past several weeks.


McAfee's attorneys hope to continue delaying the deportation by appealing to the Guatemala's high court on humanitarian grounds.


Raphael Martinez, a spokesman for the Belize government, said that if McAfee is deported to Belize, he would immediately be handed over to police and detained for up to 48 hours unless charges are brought against him.


"There is more that we know about the investigation, but that remains part of the police work," he said, hinting at possible charges.


He added that a handover by Guatemala would be "the neighborly thing to do."


A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Guatemala said that "due to privacy considerations," the embassy would "have no comment on the specifics of this situation," but that, "U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the countries in which they are traveling or residing, and must work within the host countries' legal framework."






Guatemala's National Police/AP Photo













Software Founder Breaks Silence: McAfee Speaks on Murder Allegations Watch Video









John McAfee Interview: Software Mogul Leaves Belize Watch Video





Just hours before McAfee's arrest, he told ABC News in an exclusive interview Wednesday he would be seeking asylum in Guatemala. McAfee was arrested by the Central American country's immigration police and not the national police, said his attorney, who was confident his client would be released within hours.


"Thank God I am in a place where there is some sanity," said McAfee before his arrest. "I chose Guatemala carefully."


McAfee said that in Guatemala, the locals aren't surprised when he says the Belizean government is out to kill him.


"Instead of going, 'You're crazy,' they go, 'Yeah, of course they are,'" he said. "It's like, finally, I understand people who understand the system here."


But McAfee added he has not ruled out moving back to the United States, where he made his fortune as the inventor of anti-virus software, and that despite losing much of his fortune he still has more money than he could ever spend.


In his interview with ABC News, a jittery, animated but candid McAfee called the media's representation of him a "nightmare that is about to explode," and said he's prepared to prove his sanity.


McAfee has been on the run from police in Belize since the Nov. 10 murder of his neighbor, fellow American expatriate Greg Faull.


During his three-week journey, said McAfee, he disguised himself as handicapped, dyed his hair seven times and hid in many different places during his three-week journey.


He dismissed accounts of erratic behavior and reports that he had been using the synthetic drug bath salts. He said he had never used the drug, and said statements that he had were part of an elaborate prank.


Investigators said that McAfee was not a suspect in the death of the former developer, who was found shot in the head in his house on the resort island of San Pedro, but that they wanted to question him.


McAfee told ABC News that the poisoning death of his dogs and the murder just hours later of Faull, who had complained about his dogs, was a coincidence.


McAfee has been hiding from police ever since Faull's death -- but Telesforo Guerra, McAfee's lawyer in Guatemala, said the tactic was born out of necessity, not guilt.


"You don't have to believe what the police say," Guerra told ABC News. "Even though they say he is not a suspect they were trying to capture him."


Guerra, who is a former attorney general of Guatemala, said it would take two to three weeks to secure asylum for his client.


According to McAfee, Guerra is also the uncle of McAfee's 20-year-old girlfriend, Samantha. McAfee said the government raided his beachfront home and threatened Samantha's family.


"Fifteen armed soldiers come in and personally kidnap my housekeeper, threaten Sam's father with torture and haul away half a million dollars of my s***," claimed McAfee. "If they're not after me, then why all these raids? There've been eight raids!"


Before his arrest, McAfee said he would hold a press conference on Thursday in Guatemala City to announce his asylum bid. He has offered to answer questions from Belizean law enforcement over the phone, and denied any involvement in Faull's death.






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Chemical key to cell division revealed



































In each of our cells, most of the genetic material is packaged safely within the nucleus, which is protected by a double membrane. The biochemistry behind how this membrane transforms when cells divide has finally been unravelled, offering insights that could provide new ways of fighting cancer and some rare genetic disorders.












During cell division, the membrane that surrounds the nucleus breaks down and reforms in the two daughter cells. Researchers have been split on the precise mechanisms that govern membrane reformation. One view is that proteins alone control the membrane's transformations. Another possibility is that changes in lipids – a vast group of fat-related compounds – are responsible.












Experiments had failed to show which of these two ideas was right, because it was difficult to alter lipid levels in specific compartments of cells without affecting other cellular processes.












Banafshe Larijani at Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute and her colleagues have now overcome that hurdle. They came up with a technique that transforms a type of lipid called a diacylglycerol (DAG) into another lipid, within the nuclear membrane.











Chemical cascade













The technique involves inserting two fragments of DNA into the nucleus of a cell. This causes the cell to make two proteins: the first attaches itself to the nuclear membrane, the second floats around the cell. Adding a drug – rapalogue – to the mix causes the second protein to stick to the first, which in turn causes a chemical cascade that transforms the DAG into a different kind of lipid.












Crucially, they targeted a form of DAG that does not bind to proteins, so converting it into a different lipid does not affect any processes involving proteins in the cell.












The team tested the effect of this lipid manipulation on cell division in monkey and human cancer cells. The lower the level of DAG present in the nuclear membrane, the greater the membrane malformation and chance of cell death.












This demonstrates that lipids play a role in nuclear membrane reformation that does not depend on proteins.












Larijani says it "opens the door to finding ways to kill cancerous cells" by focusing on lipids that are important to the nuclear membrane's development.











Sausage pieces













As the nucleus divides, sausage-shaped fragments of its membrane float around the cell. The fragments have curved ends, and Larijani says that changes in lipid composition generate these curves, without which the fragments cannot reassemble correctly into new membranes.











More than a dozen rare genetic conditions such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, which is characterised by premature ageing in children, have been linked to irregularities in cell division. A better understanding of the way the nuclear membrane forms when cells divide could be key to treating these disorders.













The research also offers a new focus for preventing the irregular cell division that underlies many cancers.












"As a result of this work we now know with confidence that DAG plays a structural role in membrane dynamics," says Vytas Bankaitis, at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station, who was not involved in the study. "If we could find a molecule with suitable characteristics, this manipulation could be done [in humans], which is something that has not really been considered before."












Journal reference: PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051150


















































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Golf: Schwartzel takes early lead at Thailand championship






CHONBURI, Thailand: South Africa's Charl Schwartzel took an early lead at the Thailand Golf Championship with a seven-under-par 65 in the first round, energising his bid to avenge last year's second place to Lee Westwood.

The 2011 Masters champion hit seven birdies in steamy conditions at the Amata Spring course an hour outside Bangkok and hailed his fitness after a season dogged by injury.

"I'm just playing injury-free... that's allowing me to swing the club much better," he said, explaining his strong start to the Asian Tour event in which he came second last year to a rampant Westwood.

His form bodes well after a season where he has notched just two top 10 PGA Tour finishes, but the South African refused to get carried away with three days of golf in searing temperatures ahead.

"I played really well, I didn't miss many fairways... but you're not going to win after the first round, although you sure can lose it."

He took a one-shot clubhouse lead from home star Thitiphun Chuayprakong, with Spaniard Javi Colomo one more behind at five under.

Masters champion Bubba Watson, who had promised to showcase some of his famous buccaneering "Bubba Golf" in Thailand, carded a mixed round of four under.

It included a stirring run on the back nine of birdie, eagle, then birdie, which was undone by three bogeys in an error-strewn final six holes.

"It was a solid round but I made a few mistakes," said the lefthanded American.

"All of these guys are good players, it's the first day... it's going to be hot and we're going to have to stay focused," he said.

In a star-studded field American world number 25 Hunter Mahan was two under with five played, while defending champion Westwood - the highest ranked player at the event - had just started his round.

Westwood cruised to a seven-shot win at the inaugural event last year on the back of an opening round 12-under-par 60 - narrowly missing out on a magical 59, which has never been shot on the Asian Tour.

- AFP/de



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Police break up dog fight in Dolton













Tribune illustration


Tribune illustration
(Tribune illustration / March 19, 2012)




















































Police rescued up to ten dogs from a dog fighting ring in Dolton on Wednesday night, authorities said.

Someone called police in the south suburb and told them about the dog fighting in the 1500 block of East 142nd Street and responding officers "were able to observe the incident and apprehend suspects at the scene," said TaQuoya Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Dolton.

“The dogs (pit bulls) showed signs of improper care and abuse / indications of dogfighting,” she said in a statement late Wednesday.“We have numerous suspects in custody, and we have called out the Cook County unit that investigats dog fighting to assist us with the charges and ongoing investigation.”

Cook County sheriff’s police were alerted to the dog fights by Dolton police and are assisting in the investigation.

“They called us immediately, knowing we handle this stuff all the time,” said Frank Bilecki, spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Evidence technicians, animal crimes investigators and animal control are still at the scene, Bilecki said. 

"When police hit the building people fled out of there ... We’re told that there might be cameras. Police are going to be out there for a little bit gathering evidence," Bilecki said.

Two males are in custody, but their ages weren't immediately available, Bilecki said.

Kennedy said at least four dogs were found along with a makeshift ring. Bilecki said police found as many as 10.

pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas


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A 2020 Rover Return to Mars?


NASA is so delighted with Curiosity's Mars mission that the agency wants to do it all again in 2020, with the possibility of identifying and storing some rocks for a future sample return to Earth.

The formal announcement, made at the American Geophysical Union's annual fall meeting, represents a triumph for the NASA Mars program, which had fallen on hard times due to steep budget cuts. But NASA associate administrator for science John Grunsfeld said that the agency has the funds to build and operate a second Curiosity-style rover, largely because it has a lot of spare parts and an engineering and science team that knows how to develop a follow-on expedition.

"The new science rover builds off the tremendous success from Curiosity and will have new instruments," Grunsfeld said. Curiosity II is projected to cost $1.5 billion—compared with the $2.5 billion price tag for the rover now on Mars—and will require congressional approval.

While the 2020 rover will have the same one-ton chassis as Curiosity—and could use the same sky crane technology involved in the "seven minutes of terror"—it will have different instruments and, many hope, the capacity to cache a Mars rock for later pickup and delivery to researchers on Earth. Curiosity and the other Mars rovers, satellites, and probes have garnered substantial knowledge about the Red Planet in recent decades, but planetary scientists say no Mars-based investigations can be nearly as instructive as studying a sample in person here on Earth.

(Video: Mars Rover's "Seven Minutes of Terror.")

Return to Sender

That's why "sample return" has topped several comprehensive reviews of what NASA should focus on for the next decade regarding Mars.

"There is absolutely no doubt that this rover has the capability to collect and cache a suite of magnificent samples," said astronomer Steven Squyres, with Cornell University in New York, who led a "decadal survey" of what scientists want to see happen in the field of planetary science in the years ahead. "We have a proven system now for landing a substantial payload on Mars, and that's what we need to enable sample return."

The decision about whether the second rover will be able to collect and "cache" a sample will be up to a "science definition team" that will meet in the years ahead to weigh the pros and cons of focusing the rover's activity on that task.  

As currently imagined, bringing a rock sample back to Earth would require three missions: one to select, pick up, and store the sample; a second to pick it up and fly it into a Mars orbit; and a third to take it from Mars back to Earth.

"A sample return would rely on all the Mars missions before it," said Scott Hubbard, formerly NASA's "Mars Czar," who is now at Stanford University. "Finding the right rocks from the right areas, and then being able to get there, involves science and technology we've learned over the decades."

Renewed Interest

Clearly, Curiosity's success has changed the thinking about Mars exploration, said Hubbard. He was a vocal critic of the Obama Administration's decision earlier this year to cut back on the Mars program as part of agency belt-tightening but now is "delighted" by this renewed initiative.

(Explore an interactive time line of Mars exploration in National Geographic magazine.)

More than 50 million people watched NASA coverage of Curiosity's landing and cheered the rover's success, Hubbard said. If things had turned out differently with Curiosity, "we'd be having a very different conversation about the Mars program now."

(See "Curiosity Landing on Mars Greeted With Whoops and Tears of Jubilation.")

If Congress gives the green light, the 2020 rover would be the only $1 billion-plus "flagship" mission—NASA's largest and most expensive class of projects—in the agency's planetary division in the next decade. There are many other less ambitious projects to other planets, asteroids, moons, and comets in the works, but none are flagships. That has left some planetary scientists not involved with Mars unhappy with NASA's heavy Martian focus.

Future Plans

While the announcement of the 2020 rover mission set the Mars community abuzz, NASA also outlined a series of smaller missions that will precede it. The MAVEN spacecraft, set to launch next year, will study the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail; a lander planned for 2018 will study the Red Planet's crust and interior; and NASA will renew its promise to participate in a European life-detection mission in 2018. NASA had signed an agreement in 2009 to partner with the European Space Agency on that mission but had to back out earlier this year because of budget constraints.

NASA said that a request for proposals would go out soon, soliciting ideas about science instruments that might be on the rover. And as for a sample return system, at this stage all that's required is the ability to identify good samples, collect them, and then store them inside the rover.

"They can wait there on Mars for some time as we figure out how to pick them up," Squyres said. "After all, they're rocks."


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Guatemala Could Deport McAfee to Belize













Software anti virus pioneer John McAfee is in the process of being deported to Belize after he was arrested in Guatemala for entering the country illegally, his attorney told ABC News early Thursday.


ABC News has learned that John McAfee is scheduled to be deported to Belize later this morning. But a judge could stay the ruling if it is determined McAfee's life is threatened by being in Belizean custody, as McAfee has claimed over the past several weeks.


Just hours before McAfee's arrest, he told ABC News in an exclusive interview Wednesday he would be seeking asylum in Guatemala. McAfee was arrested by the Central American country's immigration police and not the national police, said his attorney, who was confident his client would be released within hours.


"Thank God I am in a place where there is some sanity," said McAfee, 67, before his arrest. "I chose Guatemala carefully."


McAfee said that in Guatemala, the locals aren't surprised when he says the Belizean government is out to kill him.
"Instead of going, 'You're crazy,' they go, 'Yeah, of course they are,'" he said. "It's like, finally, I understand people who understand the system here."


But McAfee added he has not ruled out moving back to the United States, where he made his fortune as the inventor of anti-virus software, and that despite losing much of his fortune he still has more money than he could ever spend.
In his interview with ABC News, a jittery, animated but candid McAfee called the media's representation of him a "nightmare that is about to explode," and said he's prepared to prove his sanity.






Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images











Software Founder Breaks Silence: McAfee Speaks on Murder Allegations Watch Video









John McAfee Interview: Software Mogul Leaves Belize Watch Video









John McAfee Interview: Software Millionaire on the Run Watch Video





McAfee has been on the run from police in Belize since the Nov. 10 murder of his neighbor, fellow American expatriate Greg Faull.


During his three-week journey, said McAfee, he disguised himself as handicapped, dyed his hair seven times and hid in many different places during his three-week journey.


He dismissed accounts of erratic behavior and reports that he had been using the synthetic drug bath salts. He said he had never used the drug, and said statements that he had were part of an elaborate prank.


Investigators said that McAfee was not a suspect in the death of the former developer, who was found shot in the head in his house on the resort island of San Pedro, but that they wanted to question him.


McAfee told ABC News that the poisoning death of his dogs and the murder just hours later of Faull, who had complained about his dogs, was a coincidence.


McAfee has been hiding from police ever since Faull's death -- but Telesforo Guerra, McAfee's lawyer in Guatemala, said the tactic was born out of necessity, not guilt.


"You don't have to believe what the police say," Guerra told ABC News. "Even though they say he is not a suspect they were trying to capture him."


Guerra, who is a former attorney general of Guatemala, said it would take two to three weeks to secure asylum for his client.


According to McAfee, Guerra is also the uncle of McAfee's 20-year-old girlfriend, Samantha. McAfee said the government raided his beachfront home and threatened Samantha's family.


"Fifteen armed soldiers come in and personally kidnap my housekeeper, threaten Sam's father with torture and haul away half a million dollars of my s***," claimed McAfee. "If they're not after me, then why all these raids? There've been eight raids!"


Before his arrest, McAfee said he would hold a press conference on Thursday in Guatemala City to announce his asylum bid. He has offered to answer questions from Belizean law enforcement over the phone, and denied any involvement in Faull's death.






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When is a baby too premature to save?









































It was never easy, but trying to decide whether to save extremely premature babies just got harder.











A study called EPICure compared the fates of babies born 22 to 26 weeks into pregnancy in the UK in 1995 with similar babies born in 2006. In this 11-year period, the babies surviving their first week rose from 40 to 53 per cent. But an accompanying study comparing the fate of survivors at age 3 found that the proportion developing severe disabilities was unchanged, at just under 1 in 5.













"We've increased survival, but it's confined to the first week of life," says Kate Costeloe of Queen Mary, University of London, author of the first study. "Yet the pattern of death and health problems is strikingly similar between the two periods."












The absolute numbers of premature babies born over the 11 year period increased by 44 per cent, from 666 in 1995 to 959 in 2006. This meant that the absolute numbers of children with severe disabilities such as blindness, deafness or lameness also rose, increasing the burden on health, educational and social services.











Lifelong disability













"As the number of children that survive preterm birth continues to rise, so will the number who experience disability throughout their lives," says Neil Marlow of University College London, who led the second study.












By far the worst outcomes were for the youngest babies, with 45 per cent of those born at 22 or 23 weeks in 2006 developing disabilities compared with 20 per cent of those born at 26 weeks. In 1995 only two babies survived after being born at 22 weeks. In 2006, three did.











In 2006, a panel of UK ethicists concluded that babies born at 22 weeks should be allowed to die, as with babies born at or before 23 weeks in France and Holland.













Journal references: BMJ, Costeloe et al, DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e7976; Marlow et al, DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e7961


















































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Golf: Rose, Scott to face off at Australian Open






SYDNEY: England's Justin Rose and Adam Scott of Australia will face off in a pairing in the opening two rounds of the Australian Open, teeing off at The Lakes in Sydney on Thursday.

Rose and Scott are the top drawcards at the A$1.25 million ($1.3 million) tournament but the spotlight will also be on Chinese teen sensation Guan Tianlang - the youngest player ever to qualify for the US Masters.

World number four Rose, who finished second behind top-ranked Rory McIlroy at last month's World Tour Championship in Dubai, will play the opening 36 holes alongside Scott, seventh in the rankings.

"It is a great draw for me. I regard Adam as one of my best friends out on Tour," Rose said on Wednesday.

"The great thing is that you play the golf course. You are not really eye-to-eye or head-to-head, especially on days one and two."

Scott beat England's Ian Poulter by four shots at Melbourne's Kingston Heath last month to win the Australian Masters for the first time, saying it made up "in a small way" for his capitulation at this year's British Open, when he blew a four-shot lead over the last four holes at Royal Lytham.

The top-ranked Australian said he will probably use his broomstick putter as he chases a second Australian Open crown at the event, co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia.

Scott played his practice round at The Lakes on Tuesday without his trusty long putter.

"I'll probably putt with the long putter," he said on Wednesday.

"The other one I was messing around with was my first go and it's not quite what I wanted. It is not quite set up right for me.

"I'll have another go at another time if I feel I need to."

World golf's two law-making bodies, the R&A and USGA, have proposed to outlaw "anchored" putting, where the club is pivoted by a player's belly or chest, by 2016.

Chinese phenomenon Guan, 14, plans to use the Australian experience as preparation for his appearance at the US Masters in April.

"I think (it will be good preparation for the Masters) because it's a pretty big tournament," said Guan, who won last month's Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

"To play with some of the world's greatest players, I want to enjoy everything about it - the course and all the stuff they do. Just get to know all about it," he added.

Tom Watson, the eight-time Major winner who is also playing in Sydney, said there was a chance that Guan would not fulfil his potential although he did not think that would be the case.

"This young man has been cultured into golf. I've read some of his history. Golf is his life. We have seen a lot of golf prodigies, many of whom did not make it. Is there a danger of that? Yes, there is.

"But if I had that chance at 14, I'd jump at it. I'd be at Augusta quicker than you could spit."

Australian left-hander Greg Chalmers is defending his Australian Open title.

- AFP/de



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Hamstring strain could sideline Urlacher for season









The Bears have to brace themselves for the possibility of Brian Urlacher missing at least the rest of the regular season.

Multiple sources told the Tribune that Urlacher won't play for the next three games at a minimum after suffering a Grade 2 right hamstring strain during Sunday's 23-17 overtime loss to the Seahawks. An MRI confirmed the severity of Urlacher's injury.

Nick Roach is expected to make his fourth career start at middle linebacker Sunday in place of Urlacher, with Geno Hayes expected to take Roach's usual strong-side linebacker spot.

The Bears (8-4) have four more regular-season games, starting with Sunday's division matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota. Urlacher hopes to recover in time for the playoffs, which start with wild-card weekend games Jan. 5-6.

If the playoffs started today, the Bears would be the fifth seed against the fourth-seeded and NFC East-leading Giants (7-5). To remain in playoff contention, the Bears need to win at least two of their final four games against the Vikings (6-6), Packers (8-4), Cardinals (4-8), and Lions (4-8).

Urlacher's return in a month, however, might be a long shot considering the severity of the injury.

Gus Gialamas, an orthopedic surgeon from Sea View Orthopedic Medical Group in San Clemente, Calif., said a Grade 2 hamstring typically takes four to six weeks of recovery.

"Grade 2 means it's not a complete rupture, but it's a partial rupture,'' Gialamas said. "It takes a while -- maybe a week to 10 days -- for the inflammation to stop. That muscle then has to heal, and then you have a lot of physical therapy for strengthening and stretching. The goal is to avoid as much scar tissue in the hamstring as possible.

"I'm thinking he would be lucky to come back in four weeks, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was longer than that. It's just a tough injury.''

When reached by the Tribune, Urlacher declined to discuss the injury or his playing status. He initially felt a "pop'' while chasing Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson near the sideline during overtime. Urlacher pulled himself from the game before the final play.

He told WFLD-Ch. 32 this injury isn't as serious as a similar one in preseason of 2004 with which he missed seven games.

"I did that on the first day of training camp and that MRI showed more damaged back then than it did this time," he said.

The eight-time Pro Bowler entered the 2012 season recovering from a serious knee injury. He sprained the medial collateral ligament and partially sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during last year's season finale against the Vikings.

Despite sitting out some practices to rest his knee, Urlacher started the first 12 games.

The Bears are 7-15 without Urlacher since he entered the league in 2000.

"He's the leader of our defense,'' defensive tackle Henry Melton said Tuesday. "He's a huge locker room guy. We love having him around. He's what Chicago Bears football is all about.''

Nevertheless, Melton expressed confidence in Roach.

"Nick has been rotating (at middle linebacker in practice) just in case measures called for it,'' Melton said. "It's not going to be the same without Brian, of course. But Nick can get the job done.''

The 34-year-old Urlacher has a base salary of $7.5 million in this, the final year of his contract. He expressed a desire to play at least two more seasons, depending on his health. His says his knee feels better than ever after multiple procedures. Now, it's a matter of how long the hamstring strain lingers.

General manager Phil Emery wouldn't commit to re-signing Urlacher and said any contract offers would be based on performance.

Could Urlacher have played his last game with the Bears?

"I do not think that's going to happen,'' he told Ch. 32. "But, if it does, I have had a really good and long career so I would be sad, but I would not be crushed."

Urlacher has made a statement this season with a team-leading 88 tackles, one interception return for a touchdown, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week following his Week 9 performance against the Titans.

The club re-signed Dom DeCicco to the 53-man roster to add depth at the linebacker position, bringing him back three months after he was released with an injury settlement (groin). He took Patrick Trahan's spot, who was released on Tuesday.

DeCicco was second on the team with 17 special-teams tackles as an undrafted free agent from Pitt a year ago. He did play middle linebacker during training camp when Urlacher was sidelined with his knee issue.

vxmcclure@tribune.com

Twitter @vxmcclure23



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Scientific Results From Challenger Deep

Jane J. Lee


The spotlight is shining once again on the deepest ecosystems in the ocean—Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench (map) and the New Britain Trench near Papua New Guinea. At a presentation today at the American Geophysical Union's conference in San Francisco, attendees got a glimpse into these mysterious ecosystems nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers) down, the former visited by filmmaker James Cameron during a historic dive earlier this year.

Microbiologist Douglas Bartlett with the University of California, San Diego described crustaceans called amphipods—oceanic cousins to pill bugs—that were collected from the New Britain Trench and grow to enormous sizes five miles (eight kilometers) down. Normally less than an inch (one to two centimeters) long in other deep-sea areas, the amphipods collected on the expedition measured 7 inches (17 centimeters). (Related: "Deep-Sea, Shrimp-like Creatures Survive by Eating Wood.")

Bartlett also noted that sea cucumbers, some of which may be new species, dominated many of the areas the team sampled in the New Britain Trench. The expedition visited this area before the dive to Challenger Deep.

Marine geologist Patricia Fryer with the University of Hawaii described some of the deepest seeps yet discovered. These seeps, where water heated by chemical reactions in the rocks percolates up through the seafloor and into the ocean, could offer hints of how life originated on Earth.

And astrobiologist Kevin Hand with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, spoke about how life in these stygian ecosystems, powered by chemical reactions, could parallel the evolution of life on other planets.


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Subway Push Murder Suspect Implicated Self: Police













A suspect believed to be responsible for throwing a man into the path of an oncoming New York City subway train who was taken into custody today has made statements implicating himself, police said.


According to Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne, the suspect has been questioned by police since at least early afternoon and while the suspect is in police custody, he has not been officially charged.


Police are continuing to question the suspect and more lineups have been scheduled for tomorrow, Browne said.


Police have not released the suspect's name but began questioning him Tuesday afternoon about the death of Ki-Suck Han, 58, of Queens, N.Y.


Han was tossed onto the subway track at 49th Street and Seventh Avenue around 12:30 p.m. Monday after Han confronted a mumbling man who was alarming other passengers on the train platform. Han tried to scramble back onto the platform, but was crushed by an oncoming train.


The suspect fled the station, prompting a police dragnet for a man described by witnesses and see on surveillance video as a 6-foot-tall, 200-pound black man wearing dreadlocks in his hair.


Witnesses tried to revive the victim after he was hit and provided descriptions of the suspect to police.


Dr. Laura Kaplan, medical resident at Beth Israel Medical Center who was standing on the platform during the incident rushed to give Han aid after he was hit, she said in a statement released by her medical practice today.






New York Police Department













Bystanders Pull Mom, Son From Subway Tracks Watch Video







"A security guard and I performed 3-4 minutes of chest compressions. I hope the family may find some comfort in knowing about the kindness of these good Samaritans, as they endure this terrible loss," Kaplan said.


"I would like the family to know that many people in the station tried to help Mr. Han by alerting the subway personnel," she said.


Kaplan said she wanted to console the family of Han, who she called "a brave man trying to protect other passengers that he did not know."


The suspect had reportedly been mumbling to himself and disturbing other passengers, according to ABC News affiliate WABC. Police told WABC that the suspect could be mentally disturbed.


The suspect could be heard arguing with Han just moments before he hurled Han onto the track bed, according to surveillance video released by the police. The suspect is heard telling the victim to stand in line and "wait for the R train."


A freelance photographer for the New York Post was on the platform and said he ran towards the train flashing his camera hoping to alert the train to stop in time, but the train caught Han against the shoulder deep platform wall.


The photographer, R. Umar Abbasi, caught an eerie photo of Han with his head and arms above the platform and staring at the oncoming train.


Han was treated by EMS workers on the platform for traumatic arrest and rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Fire Department of New York.


"I just heard people yelling. The train came to an abrupt stop about three-quarters into the station and that's when I heard a man was hit by a train," Patrick Gomez told ABC News affiliate WABC.


Police set up a command post outside the train station Monday night searching nearby surveillance cameras to try and get a clear image of the suspect, reports WABC. They said Tuesday that the investigation is ongoing.


Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.



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