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Gizmorama - November 21, 2016

Good Morning,

Lately, I've noticed several stories and studies that talk about benefits of light therapy. A new studies says that light therapy could indeed cure pesticide-poisoned bees.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Light therapy could cure pesticide-poisoned bees --*

LONDON - Light therapy offers protection to honey bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides, according to new research from University College London.

In a new study, scientists at UCL studied the effects of pesticides and light therapy on commercial honey bee hives. Two of the four studied hives were exposed to a neonicotinoid pesticide called Imidacloprid for 10 days. One of the two exposed haves were also treated with twice-daily 15-minute doses of near infrared light.

Previous research has proven pesticide exposure undermines honey bees' ability to produce ATP, the energy necessary for healthy cellular function.

In the experiments, pesticide-poisoned bees not treated to light therapy showed drastically reduced ATP levels. They also showed symptoms of diminished mobility. Bees poisoned and treated with near infrared light were more mobile and boasted better survival rates.

One of the two control groups was treated with light even though they hadn't been exposed to pesticides. The light-treated group had higher survival rates than the control group that was neither poisoned nor treated.

"Long-wavelength light treatments have been shown in other studies to reduce mitochondrial degeneration which results from aging processes," Glen Jeffery, a researcher with the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said in a news release. "It's beneficial even for bees that aren't affected by pesticides, so light therapy can be an effective means of preventing loss of life in case a colony becomes exposed to neonicotinoids. It's win-win,"

The new findings -- detailed in the journal PLOS ONE -- suggest light therapy works best as a preventative method, but can also trigger recovery in bees if doses begin within two days of pesticide exposure.

"We found that by shining deep red light on the bee which had been affected by the toxic pesticides that they could recover, as it improved mitochondrial and visual function, and enabled them to move around and feed again," added Michael Powner, a former UCL researcher now working at City, University of London.

Bees are now one of several animals shown to benefit from regular exposure to near infrared light.

"When a nerve cell is using more energy than other cells, or is challenged because of a lack of energy, red light therapy can give it a boost by improving mitochondrial function," Jeffery explained. "Essentially, it recharges the cell's batteries."

*-- Scientists test optical clock technology in space, a first --*

MENLO PARK, Calif. - Scientists have successfully tested optical clock technology in space for the first time.

The tests proved the technology's ability to survive rocket launch conditions and function properly in space, paving the way for its incorporation into satellites.

"Our device represents a cornerstone in the development of future space-based precision clocks and metrology," researcher Matthias Lezius said in a news release. "The optical clock performed the same in space as it had on the ground, showing that our system engineering worked very well."

Optical clocks use the frequencies of oscillating atoms or ions as their time-keeping benchmark. The faster frequencies allow optical clocks to keep more accurate time than microwave atomic clocks. A more precise clock will allow GPS instruments to make more accurate measurements.

Optical clocks require a frequency comb, a gear-like component that measures the high-speed optical frequencies against microwave-based reference atomic clock. Current frequency combs are burdensomely large and require large amounts of energy.

Researchers in the United States, Germany and Sweden teamed up to build a much smaller frequency comb out of optical fibers. Its small size and limited energy demand make it ideal for use in space satellites.

Last year, the clock was taken by rocket on a 6-minute parabolic flight into space, allowing researchers to measure the technology's ability to withstand launch conditions and perform under microgravity.

As detailed in a new paper, published this week in the journal Optica, the technology passed the tests.

"Applications based on frequency combs are quite important for future space-based optical clocks, precision metrology and earth observation techniques," concluded Lezius. "The space technology readiness of frequency combs is developing at a fast pace."


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