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College football picks, odds for ACC in Week 7: How Mack Brown is handling rare pressure for North Carolina

For the first time since 1997, North Carolina is set to play a regular season game as a top-five team in the AP poll. The opponent then? Florida State. The coach? Mack Brown. 

The storylines are swirling as the Tar Heels and Seminoles get set to play in Saturday night’s ACC spotlight. The national hype of the game, which is also Mack Brown’s first meeting against his alma mater since that 1997 game, has been downgraded as a result of Florida State being far from the powerhouse it once was. But the level of excitement around Chapel Hill for this return to the top of the polls is significant — even if it’s not (yet) shared by Brown.

“Does [the No. 5 ranking] mean anything? No, not really,” Brown said Monday. “I’ve always told the players that until the College Football Playoff polls come out, probably be in November this year, that’s the first time I even look at the polls. Because that’s when everybody has a resume, we know who’s good and who’s not. We’ve got a few teams right now that everybody thinks are ‘great’ and then the rest of us are a lot alike.” 

Brown knows that North Carolina has a chance to be really good, but it’s not there yet, even admitting that the Tar Heels are a little “ahead of schedule” with this current level of success. The 2020 team is still inexperienced defensively, and against Virginia Tech needed the high-powered offense to have its best game of the season to close out the win and remain undefeated. 

While Brown is coaching up the current roster to make sure no one gets complacent with early season adoration, he’s also trying to accomplish bigger picture goals for the program. Establishing consistency over time is what Brown hopes to do for North Carolina here in his second stint with the school because he knows this No. 5 ranking can be a flash in the pan if it’s followed by a loss. There’s a perception that being ranked highly is an anomaly for the program, and in 2020, the Tar Heels aren’t to a point yet where they fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. 

“Right now when people put up the top five and they see the other four they say ‘yeah I got it’ and then they see North Carolina and they say ‘what are they doing in there, where’d that come from? Come on man, they’re not that good,'” Brown said. “We want it to be where they put us in there, we’ve earned that right. 

“And if we don’t play well we’ll be out fast. Other people drop a little bit if they don’t play well. That will not be our case, because I don’t think we’ve earned the right over time. Maybe we are, in the first three weeks, one of the top five teams in the country, but we haven’t been over time … We don’t have any lock on No.

How Mack Brown handles rare pressure for No. 5 North Carolina, ACC college football picks for Week 7

For the first time since 1997, North Carolina is set to play a regular season game as a top-five team in the AP poll. The opponent then? Florida State. The coach? Mack Brown. 

The storylines are swirling as the Tar Heels and Seminoles get set to play in Saturday night’s ACC spotlight. The national hype of the game, which is also Mack Brown’s first meeting against his alma mater since that 1997 game, has been downgraded as a result of Florida State being far from the powerhouse it once was. But the level of excitement around Chapel Hill for this return to the top of the polls is significant — even if it’s not (yet) shared by Brown.

“Does [the No. 5 ranking] mean anything? No, not really,” Brown said Monday. “I’ve always told the players that until the College Football Playoff polls come out, probably be in November this year, that’s the first time I even look at the polls. Because that’s when everybody has a resume, we know who’s good and who’s not. We’ve got a few teams right now that everybody thinks are ‘great’ and then the rest of us are a lot alike.” 

Brown knows that North Carolina has a chance to be really good, but it’s not there yet, even admitting that the Tar Heels are a little “ahead of schedule” with this current level of success. The 2020 team is still inexperienced defensively, and against Virginia Tech needed the high-powered offense to have its best game of the season to close out the win and remain undefeated. 

While Brown is coaching up the current roster to make sure no one gets complacent with early season adoration, he’s also trying to accomplish bigger picture goals for the program. Establishing consistency over time is what Brown hopes to do for North Carolina here in his second stint with the school because he knows this No. 5 ranking can be a flash in the pan if it’s followed by a loss. There’s a perception that being ranked highly is an anomaly for the program, and in 2020, the Tar Heels aren’t to a point yet where they fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. 

“Right now when people put up the top five and they see the other four they say ‘yeah I got it’ and then they see North Carolina and they say ‘what are they doing in there, where’d that come from? Come on man, they’re not that good,'” Brown said. “We want it to be where they put us in there, we’ve earned that right. 

“And if we don’t play well we’ll be out fast. Other people drop a little bit if they don’t play well. That will not be our case, because I don’t think we’ve earned the right over time. Maybe we are, in the first three weeks, one of the top five teams in the country, but we haven’t been over time … We don’t have any lock on No.

Foundation to Fight H-ABC, University of Massachusetts Medical School and Yale University Initiate Gene Therapy Study Targeting Cure for Rare Disease

ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Foundation to Fight H-ABC, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and driving development of a cure for the degenerative children’s disease, H-ABC, today announced a sponsored research agreement with the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Yale University to advance a targeted gene therapy for H-ABC.

“We have high hopes to quickly prove efficacy with this approach to move research forward and find a permanent cure for this devastating disease,” said Michele Sloan, Co-Founder, Foundation to Fight H-ABC.

H-ABC (hypomyelination with atrophy of the basal ganglia and cerebellum) belongs to a group of conditions called leukodystrophies, diseases that affect the white matter of the brain. These diseases disrupt the growth or maintenance of the myelin sheath, a protective layer that insulates nerve cells and allows for the transmission of messages between cells.

Caused by a mutation in the TUBB4A gene, H-ABC is a rare genetic disorder that affects certain parts of the brain—specifically the basal ganglia and the cerebellum, which control movement. H-ABC targets these important structures, reducing both their size and function. As a result, children who suffer from H-ABC often experience motor problems, cannot walk, talk, or sit on their own. Currently, there is no known cure for this disabling and life-threatening condition.

The teams of Dr. Guangping Gao (University of Massachusetts Medical School) and Dr. Karel Liem (Yale School of Medicine) will combine extensive expertise in the fields of Adeno-associated virus (AAV), a platform for gene delivery for the treatment of a variety of human diseases and H-ABC disease models, to develop AAV vectors to silence or outcompete the mutated TUBB4A gene.

“To date, AAV-based gene delivery system is the vector of choice for in vivo gene therapy of many currently untreatable rare diseases including H-ABC,” said Guangping Gao, Ph.D. “We are very excited for starting close collaborations with Dr. Liem’s team at Yale and the Foundation to Fight H-ABC to develop potential gene therapeutics for this devastating disease.”

“With the support from the Foundation to Fight H-ABC, we are excited to build upon our mechanistic studies of the disease and to collaborate with Dr. Gao of the University of Massachusetts to develop and test AAV approaches to H-ABC,” said Karel F Liem Jr., M.D., Ph.D.

For more information, please visit https://www.h-abc.org/donate.

CONTACT: Sawyer Lipari, slipari@lambert.com

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Rare Peacock Stars Could Potentially Detonate Deadly Gamma Rays In The Milky Way [Video]

KEY POINTS

  • Gamma-ray bursts are one of the most energetic occurrences in the universe
  • Apep’s two stars are 10 to 15 times more massive and 100,000 times brighter than the Sun
  • The two stars also orbit each other about every 125 years

Apep, one of the Wolf-Rayets binary star systems dubbed as the “exotic peacocks of the stellar world” discovered in 2018, was found to have the capacity to detonate long gamma ray bursts that are potentially deadly. If it detonates, the explosion could be something never seen in the Milky Way before, according to scientists.

“As well as exhibiting all the usual extreme behavior of Wolf-Rayets, Apep’s main star looks to be rapidly rotating. This means it could have all the ingredients to detonate a long gamma-ray burst when it goes supernova,” Peter Tuthill, study lead and professor from the University of Sydney, said in a press release. 

In the study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the team explained that gamma-ray bursts are one of the most energetic occurrences in the universe, adding that “they are potentially deadly.” 

If the detonation happens on Earth, for instance, the explosion can destroy the ozone layer, exposing everyone and everything to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. The scientists clarify that Apep’s axis of rotation is far from Earth and won’t affect humans when an explosion happens in the future.  

Apep, a binary star system that is 8,000 light-years from Earth, was classified as a Wolf-Rayet two years ago. Being categorized as a Wolf-Rayet is already rare. Only a handful of stars made the cut to be categorized as one. Their temperatures are so hot that they collapse in a supernova explosion faster than the ordinary stars.   

In the case of Apep, it is also recognized as one of the rarest Wolf-Rayets being an elegant binary pair orbiting one another. Their orbit shapes into a glowing whirlpool that resembles a sooty tail. 

Aside from Apep potentially harboring deadly long gamma rays, the scientists also found that the two stars are both 10 to 15 times more massive than the Sun. Apep is also more than 100,000 times brighter than the Sun. 

The team also found that Apep stars orbit each other about every 125 years. By estimates, they are orbiting at a distance the same size of the whole solar system. 

Apep is also producing stellar winds with speeds that could only be described as “mind-blowing.”

“They are spinning off the stars about 12 million kilometers (7 million miles) an hour; that’s 1% the speed of light. Yet the dust being produced by this system is expanding much more slowly, at about a quarter of the stellar wind speed,” Yinuo Han, a University of Sydney’s student who participated in the new research on Apep, said in the same press release. 

Han noted that the only explanation they have of Apep’s stellar wind speed is the fast rotating ability of the stars. He, however, acknowledged the team hasn’t quite added

Stacking and twisting graphene unlocks a rare form of magnetism

Stacking and twisting graphene unlocks a rare form of magnetism
Stacking monolayer and bilayer graphene sheets with a twist leads to new collective electronic states, including a rare form of magnetism. Credit: Columbia University

Since the discovery of graphene more than 15 years ago, researchers have been in a global race to unlock its unique properties. Not only is graphene—a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon arranged in a hexagonal lattice—the strongest, thinnest material known to man, it is also an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.


Now, a team of researchers at Columbia University and the University of Washington has discovered that a variety of exotic electronic states, including a rare form of magnetism, can arise in a three-layer graphene structure.

The findings appear in an article published Oct. 12 in Nature Physics.

The work was inspired by recent studies of twisted monolayers or twisted bilayers of graphene, comprising either two or four total sheets. These materials were found to host an array of unusual electronic states driven by strong interactions between electrons.

“We wondered what would happen if we combined graphene monolayers and bilayers into a twisted three-layer system,” said Cory Dean, a professor of physics at Columbia University and one of the paper’s senior authors. “We found that varying the number of graphene layers endows these composite materials with some exciting new properties that had not been seen before.”

In addition to Dean, Assistant Professor Matthew Yankowitz and Professor Xiaodong Xu, both in the departments of physics and materials science and engineering at University of Washington, are senior authors on the work. Columbia graduate student Shaowen Chen, and University of Washington graduate student Minhao He are the paper’s co-lead authors.

To conduct their experiment, the researchers stacked a monolayer sheet of graphene onto a bilayer sheet and twisted them by about 1 degree. At temperatures a few degrees over absolute zero, the team observed an array of insulating states—which do not conduct electricity—driven by strong interactions between electrons. They also found that these states could be controlled by applying an electric field across the graphene sheets.

“We learned that the direction of an applied electric field matters a lot,” said Yankowitz, who is also a former postdoctoral researcher in Dean’s group.

When the researchers pointed the electric field toward the monolayer graphene sheet, the system resembled twisted bilayer graphene. But when they flipped the direction of the electric field and pointed it toward the bilayer graphene sheet, it mimicked twisted double bilayer graphene—the four-layer structure.

The team also discovered new magnetic states in the system. Unlike conventional magnets, which are driven by a quantum mechanical property of electrons called “spin,” a collective swirling motion of the electrons in the team’s three-layer structure underlies the magnetism, they observed.

This form of magnetism was discovered recently by other researchers in various structures of graphene resting on crystals of boron nitride. The team has now demonstrated that it can also be observed in a simpler system constructed entirely with graphene.

“Pure carbon is not magnetic,” said Yankowitz. “Remarkably, we can engineer

Geologists solve puzzle that could predict valuable rare earth element deposits

Geologists solve puzzle that could predict valuable rare earth element deposits
Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some the most valuable rare earth deposits. Credit: Michael Anenburg, ANU.

Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some the most valuable rare earth deposits.


A team of geologists, led by Professor Frances Wall from the Camborne School of Mines, have discovered a new hypothesis to predict where rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium could be found.

The elements are among the most sought after, because they are an essential part of digital and clean energy manufacturing, including magnets in large wind turbines and electric cars motors.

For the new research, scientists conducted a series of experiments that showed sodium and potassium—rather than chlorine or fluorine as previously thought—were the key ingredients for making these rare earth elements soluble.

This is crucial as it determines whether they crystalise—making them fit for extraction—or stayed dissolved in fluids.

The experiments could therefore allow geologists to make better predictions about where the best concentrations of neodymium and dysprosium are likely to be found.

The results are published in the journal, Science Advances on Friday, October 9th 2020.

University of Exeter researchers, through the ‘SoS RARE’ project, have previously studied many natural examples of the roots of very unusual extinct carbonatite volcanoes, where the world’s best rare earth deposits occur, in order to try and identify potential deposits of the rare earth minerals.

However, in order to gain a greater insight into their results, they invited Michael Anenburg to join the team to carry out experiments at the Australian National University (ANU).

He simulated the crystallisation of molten carbonate magma to find out which elements would be concentrated in the hot waters left over from the crystallisation process.

It showed that sodium and potassium make the rare earths soluble in solution. Without sodium and potassium, rare earth minerals precipitate in the carbonatite itself. With sodium, intermediate minerals like burbankite form and are then replaced. With potassium, dysprosium is more soluble than neodymium and carried out to the surrounding rocks.

Professor Frances Wall, leader of the SoS RARE project said: “This is an elegant solution that helps us understand better where ‘heavy’ rare earths like dysprosium and ‘light’ rare earths like neodymium’ may be concentrated in and around carbonatite intrusions. We were always looking for evidence of chloride-bearing solutions but failing to find it. These results give us new ideas.”

Michael Anenburg , a Postdoctoral Fellow at ANU said: “My tiny experimental capsules revealed minerals that nature typically hides from us. It was a surprise how well they explain what we see in natural rocks and ore deposits.”

“Rare earth element mobility in and around carbonatites controlled by sodium, potassium, and silica” is published in Science Advances on Friday, October 9th 2020.


New sources for rare metals vital in modern technology


More information:
“Rare earth element mobility in and around carbonatites controlled by sodium, potassium, and

Double jeopardy for ecologically rare birds and terrestrial mammals

endangered species
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Common assumptions notwithstanding, rare species can play unique and essential ecological roles. After studying two databases that together cover all known terrestrial mammals and birds worldwide, scientists from the CNRS, the Foundation for Biodiversity Research (FRB), Université Grenoble Alpes, and the University of Montpellier have demonstrated that, though these species are found on all continents, they are more threatened by human pressures than ecologically common species and will also be more impacted by future climate change. Thus, they are in double jeopardy. The researchers’ findings, published in Nature Communications (October 8, 2020), show that conservation programs must account for the ecological rarity of species.


It has long been thought that rare species contribute little to the functioning of ecosystems. Yet recent studies have discredited that idea: Rarity is a matter not only of the abundance or geographical range of a species, but also of the distinctiveness of its ecological functions. Because these functionally distinct species are irreplaceable, it is essential we understand their ecological characteristics, map their distributions, and evaluate how vulnerable they are to current and future threats.

Using two databases that collect information on the world’s terrestrial mammals (4,654 species) and birds (9,287 species), scientists from the FRB’s Center de Synthèse et d’Analyse de la Biodiversité (CESAB), CNRS research laboratories, Université Grenoble Alpes, the University of Montpellier, and partner institutes divided the earth’s surface into 50 × 50 km squares and determined the number of ecologically rare species within each. They showed that ecological rarity among mammals is concentrated in the tropics and the southern hemisphere, with peaks on Indonesian islands, in Madagascar, and in Costa Rica. Species concerned are mostly nocturnal frugivores, like bats and lemurs, and insectivores, such as small rodents. Ecologically rare bird species are mainly found in tropical and subtropical mountainous regions, especially in New Guinea, Indonesia, the Andes, and Central America. The birds in question are essentially frugivorous or nectarivorous, hummingbirds being an example. For birds and terrestrial mammals alike, islands are hotspots of ecological rarity.

The researchers also ranked these species according to their IUCN Red List status and found they made up the bulk of the threatened species categories. That is, ecologically rare mammals account for 71% of Red List threatened species (versus 2% for ecologically common mammals); and ecologically rare birds, 44.2% (versus 0.5% for ecologically common birds). For each species, they determined (i) anthropogenic pressure exerted; (ii) human development indexes (HDIs) of host countries; and (iii) exposure to armed conflicts. The last two of these elements shape conservation policies. The scientists observed that human activity had a greater impact on ecologically rare mammals and birds than on more common species, and that these rare species were found in countries of every kind of profile, irrespective of HDI or the prevalence of warfare. They used models to demonstrate that ecologically rare species will be the greatest victims of climate change, many of them facing extinction within 40 years.

This profiling of ecologically rare species makes it