How Skin-Care Companies Are Tackling Issues Faced by Women of Color

In the beauty world, women of varied skin tones can now find the right foundations. But can they also find the right skin-care products?

If you were to ask some beauty experts, the answer would be yes, but not as easily.

“The truth is that a woman of color faces different concerns and at different times — hyperpigmentation being one of them,” said Jeanine Downie, a dermatologist in Montclair, N.J. “Any white person over the age of 42, they start with fine lines and wrinkles. Any black person over the age of 42, they start with pigmentation issues. Asians and Latinas, it depends on their skin tone, but they are often somewhere in between.”

In recent years, a few indie brands have started to address these issues, Dr. Downie said, pointing to Senté and Restorsea as a couple of her favorite lines. (She is on the scientific advisory board of Senté.) “There are great products out there now, but you have to ask someone knowledgeable,” Dr. Downie said. “There’s still a huge info gap on what to use and when.”

Susan Akkad, senior vice president for local and cultural innovation for the Estée Lauder Companies, said that these concerns are the very ones the company has been hearing from its multiethnic consumers for years.

It is why this month, Estée Lauder’s Clinique brand rolled out a new moisturizer system called Clinique iD. It comes in three bases (Dramatically Different Jelly, Moisturizing Lotion+ and Oil-Control Gel) with five different “concern cartridges” that address irritation, pores and uneven texture, uneven skin tone, fatigue or lines and wrinkles ($39 each).

Hyperpigmentation, for example, can be addressed by inserting the uneven skin tone cartridge into the moisturizer one needs. For women with darker skin tones, that base may be the oil-control gel. (Janet Pardo, the senior vice president for product development at Clinique, pointed to a 2005 British study suggesting that women of color tend to produce more sebum.)

Women of color with oilier skin “are not hydrating their skin because it seems counterintuitive to them,” Ms. Akkad said. “But balancing water and oil is what is key. That’s why you still need to moisturize.”

That said, “women of color come in all shades,” Ms. Akkad said. “So, for example, some Latina or black women with lighter skin do have concerns about wrinkles.” That’s why Clinique is marketing the line without specifically calling out products designed for darker skin tones. Rather, the focus will be on education.

“Our message is really about inclusive beauty,” Ms. Akkad said.

Dr. Barbara Sturm, an aesthetic medical doctor in Germany, is more to the point. Her namesake skin-care brand includes a parallel line of products specifically labeled Darker Skin Tones. Influencers including Hannah Bronfman have lauded the line.

Dr. Sturm worked on the Darker Skin Tones products, which is a collaboration with the actress Angela Bassett, for nearly two years. Unlike her main line, the cleanser and moisturizer formulations have “skin tone evening benefits” (courtesy of Lumicol, a micro algae extract that boosts radiance) and active ingredients like salicylic acid, which help balance the skin’s sebum production.

“From a dermatological perspective, darker skin tones present a paradox,” Dr. Sturm said. The additional melanin protects against photo-aging and cancer, and the skin generally has greater elasticity.

But, she said, “darker skin tones also have an Achilles’ heel: heightened sensitivity to an inflammation cascade — or a cascade of biological events involving blood vessels, the immune system and various cells within the injured tissue — that leads to problems like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.”

Services in doctors’ offices are only just becoming more attuned to the needs of different skin tones. The Manhattan dermatologist Patricia Wexler started using the Aerolase laser in her office about a year ago.

When it comes to darker skin, “burns are lethal because it creates scarring,” Dr. Wexler said. That’s why popular lasers like Fraxel and IPL have to be used with extreme care. The Aerolase is optimal because, she said, “it delivers the energy so fast it doesn’t give the skin time to maintain heat,” while also targeting brown pigment and redness (as in rosacea and acne).

For all the attention women of color are now getting for their skin care, Dr. Wexler and Dr. Downie stress that no matter the treatment plan, it’s important to consider each person individually. For one, it’s not just about the skin tone you see on the surface.

“Asian skin is very difficult to treat, actually,” Dr. Wexler said. “There’s a lot of pigment that’s not hitting you in the face. Yet Asian skin can react unpredictably to laser. You have to be as careful with a laser as with a darker skin type.”

Another challenge may be undertones, she said. “American Indian skin is tremendously difficult because there’s a lot of red, and it turns redder with laser.”

Benjamin Puckey, a makeup artist, said that, hyperpigmentation aside, he sees “the same variations in skin type with women of color as with women of any other skin tone.”

“In my opinion, there is no typical skin type for black skin, but because it reflects light differently, people seem to assume it’s more oily,” Mr. Puckey said. He has also noticed that skin care marketed to women of color often contains “potentially irritating ingredients like fragrant oils and pore-clogging emollients.”

His advice is based on common sense: Assess your skin type closely and then look for nonirritating products that do the job. Mr. Puckey likes Augustinus Bader moisturizers ($80 and up) for normal to dry skin and Drunk Elephant B-Hydra serum ($52) for oilier skin.

There is one point on which all agree. No matter the shade of your skin, wear your SPF. “That old saying ‘Black doesn’t crack’? That’s not true,” Dr. Downie said. “Sun damage is sun damage.”

As it happens, SPF is the only skin-care category in which Mr. Puckey has found a product he uses solely on women of color. “I recently discovered a brand called Black Girl Sunscreen ($18.99) that works beautifully,” he said. “It doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin or cause the dreaded ‘flash back’ on camera.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/style/skin-care-women-of-color.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

4 Ways to Be Happier in 2019

After the shouts of “Happy New Year” fade, you can take steps to help fulfill that goal.

By Tara Parker-Pope

Behavioral scientists have spent a lot of time studying what makes us happy (and what doesn’t). We know happiness can predict health and longevity, and happiness scales can be used to measure social progress and the success of public policies. But happiness isn’t something that just happens to you. Everyone has the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life. Read more>>>

By Gretchen Reynolds

Small amounts of exercise could have an outsize effect on happiness.

According to a new review of research about good moods and physical activity, people who work out even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who never exercise. And any type of exercise may be helpful.

The idea that moving can affect our moods is not new. Many of us would probably say that we feel less cranky or more relaxed after a jog or visit to the gym. Read more>>>

By Tara Parker-Pope

Are you spending time with the right people for your health and happiness?

While many of us focus primarily on diet and exercise to achieve better health, science suggests that our well-being also is influenced by the company we keep. Researchers have found that certain health behaviors appear to be contagious and that our social networks — in person and online — can influence obesity, anxiety and overall happiness. A recent report found that a person’s exercise routine was strongly influenced by his or her social network. Read more>>>

By Jane E. Brody

What’s the best way to develop a healthy perspective on old age? Spend more time with elderly people and discover what brings meaning and pleasure to their twilight years despite the losses, both physical and social, they may have suffered.

That’s what two authors of inspired and inspiring books about aging discovered and, happily, have taken the trouble to share with those of us likely to join the ranks of the “oldest old” in the not-too-distant future. Actually, the wisdom therein might be equally valuable for young and middle-aged adults who may dread getting old. To their detriment, some may even avoid interacting with old people lest their “disease” rub off on them. Read more>>>

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/27/well/mind/4-ways-to-be-happier-in-2019.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

4 Ways to Be Better at Money in 2019

Dec. 26, 2018

As we reach the end of December, the time has come for the annual tradition that binds together Americans of every stripe: resolve to save more money next year.

Many of us divide this resolution into the same aspirational money triptych: spend less, save more, pay down debt. While that’s a concise and practical list, those dreams are often dashed before the snow thaws.

And for good reason. Chances are your pay hasn’t kept up with life’s most expensive aspects, such as health care, which can put a strain on your budget and even lead you into credit card debt. This cycle can make discussing your finances — let alone fixing them — less appealing than a Christmas with the in-laws. And have you seen the market lately?

If getting better at money is one of your resolutions for next year, go about it a little differently by setting reasonable, specific goals. Here is some of the best financial advice of the year from The New York Times and Wirecutter to help get your financial life in order.

There are many reasons to avoid money conversations. Maybe you’re embarrassed by a gaping hole in your savings account, a recent slip-up or mounting debt you can’t seem to escape. Maybe you consider yourself bad at the subject, like a hideous replay of high school calculus. But the issue isn’t going away, and learning how to talk about it, especially with a partner or spouse, is the only way to improve your situation. If the thought of such a tête-à-tête makes you mildly nauseated, now is the time to face your fears and extinguish the taboo. Read more >>>

Your inclination to clam up around money has another deleterious side effect: It can reduce your pay. Employees are often squeamish to share salaries with one another, which can lead to wage suppression and a lack of transparency around pay inequity. Start the discussion. And when it comes time to ask for a raise, your best bet is a direct and fact-based presentation. As Julia Child might say, “Never apologize!” Read more >>>

Much may have changed since your last credit card application. Interest rates shot up this year as new rewards offerings became available, and banks made it harder to qualify for the plastic. If you’re settling with what’s already in your wallet, you could be missing out on a good deal of perks. Read more >>>

Stocks started 2018 by dropping like a rock, and they are ending the year in much the same fashion. Meanwhile, the bond market has given investors a warning that recession may loom. The Federal Reserve kept gradually raising borrowing costs throughout it all. The bull market in equities, which is nearing a decade, may be getting long in the tooth. Now is the time to reassess your appetite for risk, and what you want to own in your portfolio. Read More >>>

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/smarter-living/4-ways-to-be-better-at-money-in-2019.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

6 Ways to Eat Better in 2019

Below are some of our readers’ favorite nutrition stories from the past year, packed with information that may help you eat better in 2019.

By Anahad O’Connor

A large new study published in the journal BMJ in November found that overweight adults who cut carbohydrates from their diets and replaced them with fat sharply increased their metabolisms. After five months on the diet, they burned roughly 250 calories more per day than people who ate a high-carb, low-fat diet, suggesting that restricting carb intake could help people maintain their weight loss more easily.

The new research is unlikely to end the decades-long debate over the best diet for weight loss. But it provides strong new evidence that all calories are not metabolically alike to the body. And it suggests that the popular advice on weight loss promoted by health authorities — count calories, reduce portion sizes and lower your fat intake — might be outdated. Read more >>>

By Anahad O’Connor

A study published in February in JAMA found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.

The research lends strong support to the notion that diet quality, not quantity, is what helps people lose and manage their weight most easily in the long run. It also suggests that health authorities should shift away from telling the public to obsess over calories and instead encourage Americans to avoid processed foods that are made with refined starches and added sugar, like bagels, white bread, refined flour and sugary snacks and beverages, said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Read more>>>

By Gretchen Reynolds

For a diet study published this summer in Cell Metabolism, researchers randomly assigned one of 29 different diets to hundreds of adult male mice. Some diets supplied up to 80 percent of their calories in the form of saturated and unsaturated fats, with few carbohydrates; others included little fat and consisted largely of refined carbohydrates, mostly from grains and corn syrup, although in some variations the carbs came from sugar.

Yet other diets were characterized by extremely high or low percentages of protein. The mice stayed on the same diet for three months — estimated to be the equivalent of roughly nine human years — while being allowed to eat and move about their cages at will. The mice were then measured by weight and body composition, and their brain tissue was examined for evidence of altered gene activity.

Only some of the mice became obese — almost every one of which had been on a high-fat diet. Read more>>>

By Anahad O’Connor

Nutrition scientists have long debated the best diet for optimal health. But now some experts believe that it’s not just what we eat that’s critical for good health, but when we eat it.

A growing body of research suggests that our bodies function optimally when we align our eating patterns with our circadian rhythms, the innate 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to wake up, when to eat and when to fall asleep. Studies show that chronically disrupting this rhythm — by eating late meals or nibbling on midnight snacks, for example — could be a recipe for weight gain and metabolic trouble. Read more>>>

By David Leonhardt

If you’re like most Americans, you eat more sugar than is good for you. But it’s entirely possible to eat less sugar without sacrificing much — if any — of the pleasures of eating. Surprising as it may sound, many people who have cut back on sugar say they find their new eating habits more pleasurable than their old ones. This guide will walk you through why sugar matters, how you can make smart food choices to reduce sugar consumption, and how you can keep your life sweet, even without so many sweets. Read more>>>

By Roni Caryn Rabin

Meat and poultry are excellent sources of protein, B vitamins and certain minerals, but consuming even small amounts of processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

“We see a 4 percent increase in the risk of cancer even at 15 grams a day, which is a single slice of ham on a sandwich,” said Dr. Nigel Brockton, director of research for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Eating a more typical serving of 50 grams of processed meat a day would increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, a 2011 review of studies found. Read more>>>

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/well/eat/6-ways-to-eat-better-in-2019.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Vaccine for Honeybees Could Be a Tool to Fight Population Decline

At a time when some beekeepers are struggling to keep their colonies alive and pollinating, the prospect of a vaccine for honeybees has offered a flicker of hope.

The scientists behind the project say the vaccine is designed to protect honeybees from microbial diseases that can decimate bee populations. If the technology can be adapted to fight a multitude of infections, experts hope it can provide one solution for the array of problems facing bees, which pollinate about one-third of food in the United States.

The work that honeybees do for people — pollinating food as they gather pollen and nectar for themselves — is estimated to produce about $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year.

“This is a very new way of thinking about how we can help bee health,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomologist with the University of Maryland. “As a proof of concept, this is really exciting.”

The crisis that inspired calls to “save the bees” is multilayered. Bee experts like to sum up the crisis with the “4 Ps”: parasites, poor nutrition, pathogens and pesticides. Beekeepers in the United States lost an estimated 40 percent of their honeybee colonies in one year, according to data from April 2017 to April 2018 kept by Bee Informed Partnership, a consortium of universities and research laboratories.

Dalial Freitak, one of the scientists behind the vaccine, said she hoped it can make bees more resilient in a perilous environment. Because of regulatory hurdles, such as safety testing, it will be years before a vaccine hits the market, Dr. Freitak said. Some experts were wary about getting too excited about the vaccine because it is still in the developmental stages.

Unlike vaccinations for humans, the one for bees does not involve needles. Rather, it is edible in the form of a sugar solution that honeybees are attracted to. (It recalls the way children were given the polio vaccine through sugar cubes.)

Based on the prototype, the product — marketed under the name PrimeBEE — involves vaccinating a queen bee and sending her to the beekeeper, said Dr. Freitak, who is now an associate professor in honeybee research at Karl-Franzens University of Graz in Austria.

The beekeeper would then introduce the vaccinated queen bee to the hive, heralding a new generation of bees with immunity to the disease.

Creating a vaccine for insects was not always believed to be possible. Before the early 2000s, conventional wisdom was that insects could not acquire immunity because they lacked antibodies, the protein that helps many animals recognize and fight bacteria and viruses.

“Vaccinations have always been more associated with vertebrates and being dependent on the presence of antibodies,” Dr. Freitak said. “That’s why vaccinations have never been considered.”

Once scientists understood that insects could acquire immunity and pass it to their offspring, the remaining questions were how they did so and whether that process could be replicated in a lab. In 2015, Dr. Freitak, who was then with the University of Helsinki in Finland, published a study with two other scientists that explained this process. After that, a vaccine for insects seemed feasible.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, found that in honeybees, a protein called vitellogenin binds to bacteria and carries it to the eggs, prompting immune responses in the offspring. The researchers realized they could cultivate immunity in a bee population with a single queen.

The scientists’ first goal was targeting American foulbrood, a bacterial disease that turns larvae dark brown and makes the hive give off a rotting smell. It is typically a death sentence for an infected colony, which can amount to about 60,000 bees at its peak in the middle of summer and 10,000 at the low point in winter.

Although antibiotics exist to control the disease, the treatment recommended to address an outbreak of American foulbrood is to burn the infected colony and all the equipment used.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the disease devastated bee colonies in parts of the United States. The threat was so serious that beekeepers who did not comply with laws requiring they burn all infected colonies and equipment were fined or even put in jail, according to a 2009 paper in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology.

American foulbrood is under far better control than it was a century ago. Rob Snyder, who inspects commercial beehives in Northern California, said treatments like burning infected populations and antibiotics have staved off the spread of the disease. Some officials have even trained dogs to sniff out the bacteria in an effort to avoid spreading it across state lines.

In California, where vast numbers of honeybees are needed for almond production, Mr. Snyder said he has not seen American foulbrood in several years. He said a much bigger threat to honeybee populations there is the Varroa mite, a parasite that sucks blood of the adult honeybees and their brood.

No vaccine can eradicate mites, but a vaccine might be able to protect honeybees from the viruses associated with the mites, including deformed-wing virus, said Keith S. Delaplane, the director of the Honey Bee Program at the University of Georgia. Scientists still have to demonstrate the efficacy of a vaccine to treat those kinds of viruses, he said.

“If an oral vaccine for deformed-wing could be combined with effective mite controls, that would be, in my opinion, a huge leap forward for honeybee health,” he said.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/science/bee-vaccine-honeybee.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Year in Fitness: How Exercise Keeps Us Young

Some of the biggest news in exercise science this year concerned the tiniest impacts from physical activity, which does not mean that the impacts were inconsequential. It means they were microscopic.

We learned this year, for instance, that exercise changes how our cells communicate with one another, as well as how rapidly they age. This new research began to detail the many, pervasive ways in which working out alters the inner workings of our bodies and contributes to better health.

There were other, broader themes, too, in 2018’s fitness-related science, including about how older people can be enviably youthful if they are active and the unexpected roles that weight training may play in our health.

But for me, the most exciting exercise research in 2018 went small. A study that I wrote about in January, for instance, found that people’s blood contained more of certain vesicles, which are tiny bubbles filled with biological material, after aerobic exercise.

When the scientists subsequently isolated these vesicles in mice and tagged them with a dye that glows, they tracked where they went and discovered that most homed in on the liver. There, the vesicles entered the organ, dissolved and delivered a load of biological stuff, including snippets of genetic material that can supply messages to other genetic material.

In this way, the scientists speculate, the vesicles probably delivered a biological alert to the liver, letting it know that exercise was underway, and it might want to start releasing stored energy for use by other, working tissues, like the muscles.

This study is a bracing reminder that multiple far-flung bodily systems are involved when we move and they all must communicate, but the process is bogglingly complex and, for the most part, still to be mapped.

A similar message emerged from other studies I wrote about this year, although they delved into how, at a molecular level, exercise makes us healthier. It does, of course. People who exercise tend to live longer and with far fewer diseases and disabilities than people who do not.

But we do not fully understand the many underlying biological steps involved. A study I wrote about just last week examined one small piece of this puzzle, involving the levels of hundreds of different proteins in the bloodstreams of people who regularly exercise or not.

And there were differences. People who exercised had more and less of multiple proteins, which matters, since proteins spur other biological operations throughout the body. In effect, aspects of the exercisers’ everyday physiology appear to be unlike those of people who are sedentary.

So, too, the look and to some extent the “age” of their chromosomes may be different, according to another study I covered this year.

It found that sedentary, middle-aged people who took up aerobic exercise for six months developed longer telomeres in their white blood cells. Telomeres are the tiny caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect our DNA from damage during cell division. Telomeres shorten as a cell ages, until they are so abbreviated that the cell cannot function and often dies. Lengthy telomeres, on the other hand, are thought to denote relative cell youth and vigor.

In this study, aerobic exercise appears to have lengthened people’s telomeres, almost dialing back time.

If that finding doesn’t motivate all of us to want to move more, several other studies from this year that looked at exercising and aging using a wider lens probably should.

One, from March, showed that older cyclists had immune systems that resembled those of much younger people, as well as muscles that retained a youthful size and fiber content, even among the riders who were well into their 70s.

So, too, older recreational athletes displayed the muscles of much younger people in another study I covered, this one from November, and it found, too, that people who had been working out for decades had the aerobic fitness of whippersnappers 30 years their juniors.

Perhaps most encouraging, a study published in July tells us that it is not too late to benefit if we have managed to avoid exercising into midlife. In that experiment, middle-aged people who began a two-year-long program of regular aerobic exercise reversed the age-related stiffening of their cardiac arteries.

Almost all of this research focused on aerobic exercise. But a few studies this year also provided a plug for resistance workouts. One found that they were associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of experiencing or dying from a heart attack or stroke, even if people did not undertake aerobic exercise.

Another showed a very strong link between lifting weights and avoiding depression.

And a third, my favorite, indicates that the weight training can be quite brief but still beneficial. In this experiment, one set each of seven different resistance exercises led to the same overall gains in muscular strength and endurance as two or even three sets of the exercises, as long as people pushed themselves. The full, fast routine required only 13 minutes.

So, look for me in 2019 on the bike paths and running trails and, at least for 13 minutes at a stretch, in the gym. Healthy holidays.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/well/move/2018-year-in-fitness-how-exercise-keeps-us-young.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Highlights From the Year in Space and Astronomy Developments

Jan. 7: It seemed like an ominous start to the year when a SpaceX rocket made it off the launchpad, but its mysterious government payload appeared to have gone missing. Nearly 12 months and a lot of finger-pointing later, Zuma’s fate is not known.

The Lunar X Prize ended with no winner

Jan. 23: First announced in 2007, the Google-sponsored prize aimed at encouraging landings on the moon by privately-built robotic spacecraft with a $20 million jackpot for the winner. With a March 31 deadline looming, the prize announced none of its finalists would launch in time.

A Super Blue Blood Moon occurred

Jan. 31: A triple lunar coincidence before your morning coffee was brewed. The pictures were nice, too.

Feb. 6: Three columns of flame carried the ambitions of SpaceX into the blue. The Heavy also sent a cherry-red Tesla sports car into a long orbit around the sun in an astounding marketing stunt. The Falcon Heavy may fly again in 2019 with a real commercial customer.

MarchStephen Hawking died at 76

April 1: China lost control of its first space station a couple of years ago, and the question of when and where it would land was a source of uncertainty for months. In the end, it touched down in an area of the Pacific Ocean with no one but the fish to witness the splash.

The TESS spacecraft launched

April 25: Using data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission launched in 2013, the three-dimensional map of the Milky Way is the most detailed survey ever produced of our home galaxy.

MayVapor plumes were found to have erupted from Europa

May 14: The ice-encrusted moon of Jupiter with a global ocean flowing underneath its surface has long been an enticing target in the search for extraterrestrial life. Scientists made their discovery by looking back at data collected by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft during a 1997 flyby. Take Europa for a spin and see where the plume was detected below:

May 30: Dust storms are seasonal on Mars, but this one was giant and long-lasting. One result was that NASA’s Opportunity rover ran out of battery power and has been quiet ever since. The agency is still hoping to re-establish contact.

JuneSome building blocks of life are identified on Mars

June 7: Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover let scientists confidently identify organic molecules on the red planet used and produced by living organisms (although it is possible for such substances to be produced in chemical reactions that are not biological).

Trump ordered the creation of a Space Force

June 18: President Trump said he would direct the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the armed forces dedicated to protecting American interests in outer space. While the proposal initially gained some political support, its future is uncertain as Democrats take a majority in the House of Representatives next year.

JulyCosmic rays were traced to their source for the first time

July 12: Astronomers announced that a neutrino first detected in Antarctica had been linked to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy, some 4 billion light-years from Earth. The finding was expected to help future detections of high-energy particles form space.

A watery lake was found beneath a Martian ice capAn artist’s rendering of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express discovering a subterranean reservoir near the planet’s southern ice cap.CreditESA/INAF, via Associated Press

July 25: A European orbiter detected a 12-mile-wide underground liquid pool, similar to lakes found beneath Greenland and Antarctica’s ice. “There are all the ingredients for thinking that life can be there, or can be maintained there if life once existed on Mars,” said the Italian scientist who led the research.

Mars was at opposition ahead of its closest approach with Earth

July 27: A red blur lit up night skies on our blue marble for part of the summer as Earth played a game of monkey in the middle with Mars and the sun. Later in the month, the Martian orbit brought it within about 35.8 million miles of Earth, its closest approach since 2003.

Aug. 3: The new American rides to the International Space Station have been built by two private companies: SpaceX and Boeing. After they finish testing the capsules next year, these nine women and men could be the first astronauts to fly aboard the Crew Dragon and Starliner.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched

Aug 12: On a mission to “touch the sun,” this spacecraft will study our star’s outer atmosphere as well as the solar wind. As it orbited the sun in October, it recorded the fastest ever heliocentric speed by something humans launched.

New Horizons snapped its first photo of a distant world

Aug. 16: After studying Pluto in 2015, New Horizons continued farther into the solar system’s Kuiper belt, bound for a new destination. Ahead of schedule, it recorded its first image of 2014 MU69, the remote world it will fly by on Jan. 1.

A leak was found aboard the International Space Station

Aug. 29: Astronauts slept through a dip in air pressure on their orbital home, and patched the puncture when they awoke. When Russian space authorities later concluded the hole had been deliberately drilled, the country’s news media stoked rumors of deliberate sabotage by American astronauts. The reports roiled space relations between the United States and Russia.

SeptemberYusaku Maezawa booked a trip around the moon

Sept. 21: Launched in 2014, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrived at the near-earth asteroid Ryugu during the summer and began surveying the rock. It landed a number of robotic probes on Ryugu’s surface, including two small hopping rovers that sent fascinating pictures back to Earth.

Oct. 19: The mission’s twin orbiters are on a complex seven-year journey to orbit the solar system’s innermost planet. They will study how its oddball makeup came to be.

NASA’s Kepler mission came to an end

Oct. 30: After nine-and-a-half years in orbit, 530,506 stars observed and 2,662 exoplanets discovered, the little spacecraft will be left to drift forever around the sun. Its mission has been handed to the TESS spacecraft, which launched in April.

Giant black hole possibly detected

Oct. 31: An international collaboration of scientists based in Germany and Chile released the strongest evidence yet that the dark entity at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is a supermassive black hole.

NovemberNASA bid farewell to its Dawn mission

Nov. 1: Launched in 2007, the spacecraft studied Vesta and Ceres, the largest objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Though out of power, Dawn will continue to orbit Ceres for at least 20 years, possibly decades longer.

Rocket Lab carried its first commercial cargo into orbit

Nov. 11: From a launchpad in New Zealand, the start-up carried small satellites to space. It was a harbinger of a change to the space launch business, which might become dominated by an assortment of small rocket providers such as Rocket Lab.

NASA’s InSight spacecraft landed on Mars

Dec. 3: The spacecraft launched in 2016 with the mission of studying a near-earth asteroid that has a slim chance of colliding with Earth in the 22nd century. It will survey the object and try to collect samples to send back home in 2023.

China launched its Chang’e-4 mission to land on the moon

Dec. 7: The next lunar visitor from Earth — in early 2019 — will be this Chinese spacecraft and its rover. If it succeeds, it will be the first soft landing on the moon’s far side. Spin the moon below and see the approximate landing site:

Dec. 13: Whether you consider 51.4 miles up to be space or not — the Federal Aviation Administration does but most scientists do not — the views recorded by Richard Branson’s tourist space plane were something to see.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen made its closest approach to Earth

Dec. 16: For those lucky enough to see it, the so-called Christmas comet glowed green in night skies, at a distance of only 7.1 million miles from our planet. You might still be able to see it.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/20/science/space-discoveries.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Creating a Community of Latin American Women Photographers

Verónica Sanchis Bencomo never knew what she would encounter when she worked helping to archive photo books and other items at the library of the International Center of Photography. The experience was an education in itself for Ms. Sanchis Bencomo, a Venezuelan photographer, but not in the way you might imagine.

“Where are the contemporary Latin American women photographers?” she wondered. “You had the great ones, like Graciela Iturbide, but there wasn’t a lot about contemporary ones. Where were my peers? In a region so big, how can there not be any?”

She has been answering that question almost four years now, after she founded Foto Féminas, a digital platform and library that features a different photographer working in Latin America and the Caribbean each month. With her eye focused on their images and not on their credentials or contacts, Ms. Sanchis Bencomo has convened a virtual community of experienced and emerging photographers alike whose styles range from documentary and photojournalism to fine art and conceptual photography.

Her years as a teaching assistant at the I.C.P. — from late 2013 until early 2016 — influenced her profoundly as she encountered works by such greats of American photography as Diane Arbus and William Klein.

“I had no control over what went through my hands,” Ms. Sanchis Bencomo said. “It was whatever I had to archive. There were rare books, monographs, invitations to exhibits and articles. I also liked how they made presentations, the graphic part of it, and how it has changed. It was an experience I never had before.”

Still, the scarcity of Latin American women nagged at her to the point that she decided to establish her own archive of sorts. She gained greater motivation when she met the Guatemalan photographer María Cristina Orive who, along with the Argentine photographer Sara Facio, had started an imprint, La Azotea, decades earlier. “She said it was easier to be a female photographer now than in their era,” Ms. Sanchis Bencomo, 32, said. “Forty years ago, women no had opportunities. But you have to keep at it.”

One of the first women she featured was Karla Gachet, an Ecuadorean photographer whose work has appeared regularly in newspapers and magazines. In a brief interview accompanying her images, Ms. Gachet spoke about the importance of the region to her. “The stories that are woven in Latin America are my weakness; I love them,” she wrote. “Their color, light and their peoples’ relationships with one another and the land. More than anywhere, the countryside has a more varied dynamic than the city. People still live within a community that believes in magic. Recording these stories is a very spiritual experience for me; I always come back from them a little different. To work in Latin America will always give you another perspective on life.”

Sofia Verzbolovskis, a Panamanian photographer who divides her time between New York and her homeland, chronicled in “La Tacita de Oro” the decline of the port city of Colon. “It was ‘The City’ where everyone went to for parties, to go shopping; it was the most prosperous city in Panama at the time and now it’s completely dilapidated,” she wrote. “However, it’s in a process of renovation, which scares me a little as I’m afraid they are going to destroy all the architecture that’s unique to this city and are going to convert it into something completely boring, completely ‘normal,’ for want of a better word.”

Apart from the digital platform, Ms. Sanchis Bencomo — who is based in Hong Kong — has also put together an archive of donated books that she has made available to the public. “It has been well received,” she said. “By the fact we are at opposite poles — Latin America and Asia — we have brought the public to learn about other ways to show photo essays and projects. It has been an interesting interchange.”

Ms. Sanchis Bencomo has now turned her attention to issues of concern for groups that have felt overlooked by major grants, reviews and contests. She has questioned why some global competitions have application materials only in English or reviewers who do not speak Spanish. She has also made sure to alert photographers to contests that have no entry fee.

She feels her efforts have begun to pay off, as she sees some of the women she has featured or encouraged meet in real life at workshops and shows.

“What is most important to me is we have created community,” she said. “Many of them have gotten to know one another and discovered unknown work. We had been told there was this feeling of isolation. For me, this is what has the most value — to conceive and create this community where many people have gotten to know each other.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/20/lens/latin-american-women-photographers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Is Denaturalization the Next Front in the Trump Administration’s War on Immigration?

One of the few Trump-era denaturalization cases that has received substantial press attention, that of Norma Borgoño, a 64-year-old secretary and grandmother who was naturalized in 2007, is also facing civil counts, with the same lower burden of proof. The case stems from an ICE investigation that is unrelated to Janus. Four years after becoming a citizen, she pleaded guilty to assisting her boss defraud a bank and cooperated in the investigation. In May 2018 she found herself facing denaturalization, following a probe by Homeland Security Investigations. The Office of Immigration Litigation claimed that Borgoño should have alerted U.S.C.I.S. to her role in the ongoing crime when she applied for citizenship — even though it’s plausible she may not have been aware, at that point, that she was participating in a crime.

“At this point you’d be disrupting an American family,” Leon Rodriguez, who served as the head of U.S.C.I.S. during the later part of the Obama administration, told me of cases like Borgoño’s and Dureland’s. “What do we gain as a society from that? Sessions will talk about sound principles of asylum, but, truly, what do we gain from doing this?”

Throughout Odette Dureland’s trial, her lawyer maintained her innocence. But she also argued that even if the jury believed Dureland had applied for asylum under a different name, it shouldn’t matter. Odette had become a citizen through her husband’s application, moving from asylee to green-card holder to citizen based on fully adjudicated claims. If Dureland became a citizen through a process that would be unproblematic were it not for this supposed “Alindor” application, why should that now affect her right to remain in the United States?

The jury was unconvinced. The government had shown evidence that Dureland has relatives named Alindor, and that various details on the Alindor application looked similar to those on the one she later filed. The jury found Dureland guilty of criminal naturalization fraud. “The integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system is paramount,” the acting director of U.S.C.I.S. in Tampa said in a press statement after the conviction. “This conviction sends a clear message that attempting to fraudulently obtain United States citizenship will not be tolerated. Our nation’s citizens deserve nothing less.” The judge sentenced Dureland to five months in prison. The conviction automatically led to Dureland’s losing her citizenship.

After serving her sentence, Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved her to a detention center in August, with plans to deport her. She spent a month there before Gilbert managed to scrape together $10,000 for bond. The couple has hired an immigration attorney, who says he will try to convince an immigration judge that she should be allowed, effectively, to start the immigration process again, to obtain a new green card as the wife of a citizen or the mother of a citizen in the military. But lawyers familiar with denaturalization cases say that because she has been convicted of a crime, it’s unlikely she’ll prevail. Without a judge’s approval, ICE will almost certainly deport her.

In September, I sat with Dureland and her family at their home. A bowl of star fruit, picked from the tree outside, sat on the table. Dureland held her head up with her hands, her elbows resting on the table. Her eyes were heavy. Less than two days before, she was released from federal immigration detention.“I didn’t know if I would come home again,” Dureland told me, standing beside her 15-year-old son, Gethro. She placed her hand on the top of her son’s head, which he rested on her shoulder. She liked to pretend, before she was locked up, that she and her youngest child were the same height, but he had grown in the six months that she was away; there was no more pretending. She laughed. But despite her easygoing demeanor with her son, Dureland was weary from her time in detention, and she told me she needed to nap. When I returned a few hours later, the house was filled with the smell of spices and cooked onions. It had been six months since Dureland had made a meal. “I missed my kitchen,” she said.

She sat back down at the table. “Detention was a scary place,” Dureland told me. “When I got there, everybody was being deported. And I was thinking, I have nobody in Haiti. If I were deported to Haiti, I would be by myself.”

Before she became a citizen, Dureland always knew that if something happened, if she were convicted of some crime, say, she could be deported. She lived a careful life. When she took the oath in 2012, that feeling — that it could be taken away — finally disappeared. “I became an American,” Dureland said. “I am an American.” But even as she said it, she knew it was no longer true.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/magazine/naturalized-citizenship-immigration-trump.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

7 Ways to Age Well in 2019

Some advice from Well on what research can teach us about living longer, and better.

By Gretchen Reynolds

For lifelong heart health, start exercising early in life and keep exercising often — ideally, at least four times a week, according to a remarkable series of recent studies involving hundreds of people and their hearts.

But even if you have neglected to exercise in recent years and are now middle-aged, it is not too late. The same research shows that you still can substantially remodel your heart and make it more youthful by starting to work out in midlife, provided you exercise often enough. Read more>>>

By Tara Parker-Pope

Getting older is inevitable (and certainly better than the alternative). While you can’t control your age, you can slow the decline of aging with smart choices along the way. From the foods you eat and how you exercise to your friendships and retirement goals — it all has an effect on how fast or slow your body ages. Keep reading for simple ways to keep your body tuned up and your mind tuned in. And the good news is that it’s never too late to get started. Read more>>>

By Jane E. Brody

If your goal is to live long and stay healthy as long as you can, call Minnesota your home, which outranks every state and the District of Columbia for average length of healthy life expectancy, 70.3 years. Of course, the biology of the native population likely plays a role in how long and how healthfully people live in various parts of the country. And the opportunities people have for a good education, financial security, quality medical care and environmental safety also make important contributions.

But the big enchilada, as this extraordinarily comprehensive study clearly demonstrates, is how people live their lives: whether they smoke, what and how much they eat, and whether they abuse alcohol or drugs. These, along with high levels of blood sugar and blood pressure, both of which are influenced by diet, are the main factors dictating poor health. Read more>>>

By Robert W. Goldfarb

Some of my healthiest friends carry themselves as victims abused by time. They see life as a parade of disappointments: aches and ailments, confusing technology, children who don’t visit, hurried doctors.

Other friends, many whose aching knees and hips are the least of their physical problems, find comfort in their ability to accept old age as just another stage of life to deal with. I would use the word “heroic” to describe the way they cope with aging as it drains strength from their minds and bodies, though they would quickly dismiss such a term as overstatement. Read more>>>

By Gretchen Reynolds

Facial exercises may significantly reduce some of the signs of aging, according to an interesting new study of the effects of repeating specific, expressive movements on people’s appearance.

The study, published in JAMA Dermatology, found that middle-aged women looked about three years younger after a few months of exercising, perhaps providing a reasonable, new rationale for making faces behind our spouses’ backs. Read more>>>

By Steven Petrow

As with beauty, the meaning of “old” also depends on the person you ask. Millennials, now in their 20s and 30s, say that old starts at 59, according to a 2017 study by U.S. Trust. Gen Xers, now in their 40s — and no doubt with a new appreciation for just how close they are to entering their 50s — say 65 is the onset of old. Boomers and the Greatest Generation pegged 73 as the beginning of old. Clearly, much depends on the perspective of who’s being asking to define “old.”

To that very point, I was curious to see how my friends who are 50-plus defined old — and asked them on Facebook. Among the dozens of responses, two made me smile: “Old is my current age + 4.” And this: “Tomorrow. Always tomorrow. Never today.” Read more>>>

By Gretchen Reynolds

Playing tennis and other sports that are social might add years to your life, according to a new epidemiological study of Danish men and women.

The study found that adults who reported frequently participating in tennis or other racket and team sports lived longer than people who were sedentary. But they also lived longer than people who took part in reliably healthy but often solitary activities such as jogging, swimming and cycling. Read more>>>

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/24/well/live/7-ways-to-age-well-in-2019.html?partner=rss&emc=rss