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Limited Time Only: The nation’s best whitewater rafting in the country’s newest national park



West Virginia Department of Tourism welcomes whitewater rafters from around the world just as fall colors arrive

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. /PRNewswire/ — For a limited-time only, America’s newest national park will offer whitewater rafters from around the globe an opportunity to take on some of the world’s top whitewater runs in a picturesque fall backdrop that is practically heaven-sent. Each fall, more than 40,000 people flock to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve to experience this once-in-a-lifetime thrill during the six-week period also known as Gauley Season.

Canyon Doors

Each year, controlled releases from the Summersville Dam are scheduled for six weeks beginning after Labor Day, releasing 44 million gallons of water into the Gauley River at a rate of 50+ mph, creating premier whitewater rafting conditions. That volume is enough to fill one Olympic-size pool every 10 seconds. This year’s releases begin the weekend of September 9th and are scheduled to run until the weekend of October 15th.

Tom Abram, of Bloomington, IN has been rafting on the Gauley River for more than three decades. In 1986, Tom was itching for an adrenaline rush and asked his friend to go skydiving with him. When his friend denied the invitation, they decided to take to the whitewater in West Virginia instead and he’s come back to raft on the Gauley River every year since then. Today, Tom not only brings his wife along for the adventure, but also his children and grandchildren. It’s become a family affair.

“I look forward to Gauley Season all year long,” said Abram. “When I planned my rafting trip in 1986, I never imagined I’d keep coming back year after year, but there’s something so exhilarating about it.”

The Upper, Middle and Lower Gauley River make approximately 25 miles of world-class whitewater. The Upper Gauley is best for those looking for more of an intense, pulse pumping adventure. Here you will find legendary Big 5 Rapids–– Insignificant, Pillow Rock, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring and Sweets Falls. This section is steep, fast and technical, rightfully earning its nickname: the Beast of the East.

The Middle Gauley provides a nice, calm reprieve between the Upper and Lower sections and is a great litmus test to decide if you are ready for the Lower. While not as steep and challenging as the Upper, the Lower Gauley holds its own as a high-quality section of whitewater.

The Lower Gauley really shines with its scenic cliff lines at Canyon Doors and Junkyard. Rapids like Upper Mash and Lower Mash will get your blood pumping.

Randy Ebersole, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania began his whitewater rafting hobby in 1978 and took his first trip down the Upper Gauley River in 1989 when one of his rafting guides recommended it. From then on, he started organizing large groups of friends, with 30-45 people to join in on the excitement.

“After my first Gauley Season, I thought to myself, okay, that was fun, I’ve done it. I can check it off the list,” Ebersole said. “But that quickly turned into planning another trip for the following year. 34 years later, we’re still coming back. Each time the group looks a little different, we return with some of the same folks, and bring newbies along too.”

Gauley Season is welcoming to all walks of life. One trip Ebersole organized had a 26 year old and 72 year old present. He’s had friends join from all over the country, from states such as Florida, Washington, Texas and New Jersey, to name a few.

“One of the craziest things about Gauley Season is the controlled unpredictability of it all,” Ebersole stated. “It’s “controlled” because of the seasoned guides. But even those guides will admit that they don’t always know what will happen on the river. It’s what keeps me coming back. And I’m looking forward to returning to my home away from home, West Virginia, in September.”

Gauley Season 2022 will include 22 scheduled water releases, with an extra hour of release scheduled for Sept. 17th-19th. Many rafting companies are offering exclusive deals in honor of Gauley Season. Plan your rafting excursion today at WVtourism.com.

Quick Facts

  • The Summersville Dam is the second largest dam of its kind in the United States. The water releases drop 44 million gallons of water into the Gauley River at a rate of 50+ mph, creating premier whitewater rafting conditions. That volume is enough to fill one Olympic-size pool every 10 seconds.
  • With 2,023 miles of whitewater, West Virginia has the greatest density in the US.
  • The first commercial rafting business in West Virginia was founded in 1968. Five decades later, rafting in the Mountain State has grown into a multimillion-dollar industry.
  • Adventurers as young as 12 can ride the waves of the Gauley River with an experienced guide.
  • “The Best 10 Seconds in Whitewater.” That’s how pros describe Pillow Rock, the 2nd in the Big 5 lineup.
  • The final “Big 5” rapid, Sweet’s Falls, is actually a 14-foot waterfall.

About the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

The New River National Park & Preserve is the country’s 63rd and newest national park and is home to more than 70,000 acres of public lands, spanning across multiple counties. Traveler spending for the New River Gorge National Park was up 74% in the year following the national park designation.

Suddenly, West Virginia is one of the hottest tourism spots in the world, making the 2022 top-destinations lists of Condé Nast, TIME, USA Today, Lonely Planet, and Frommer’s.


SOURCE The West Virginia Department of Tourism

Rod: A creative force, blending words, images, and flavors. Blogger, writer, filmmaker, and photographer. Cooking enthusiast with a sci-fi vision. Passionate about his upcoming series and dedicated to TNC Network. Partnered with Rebecca Washington for a shared journey of love and art.


Pioneering early-onset Alzheimer’s disease study is focus of Alzheimer’s & Dementia special issue



Newswise — INDIANAPOLIS – A pioneering Alzheimer’s disease study led by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers is the focus of a special issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Led by IU School of Medicine’s Liana G. Apostolova, MD, the Longitudinal Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease Study (LEADS) is the largest and most comprehensive study of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which to this point has been an under-studied condition, in the United States. The study began in 2018 with over $44 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Dustin B. Hammers, PhD, an associate professor of neurology at the IU School of Medicine and the lead neuropsychologist on the LEADS study, said given that so little has been established about early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers strove to choose pieces for the special issue that characterized the condition according to its presentation clinically, cognitively, genetically, and from a biological-marker perspective. The latter includes using MRI and PET imaging and cerebrospinal fluid measurement to look at hallmark changes in the brain related to temporal lobe atrophy and the presence of β-amyloid and tau proteins.

“Smaller studies have long suggested that early-onset Alzheimer’s disease may present differently than traditional-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but until the LEADS study, concerns related to study sample or methods interfered with interpretation,” said Hammers, who is also the principal investigator on the NIA- and Alzheimer’s Association- funded LEADS-sub-study Lifestyle Interventions for the Treatment of Early-Onset AD Study (LITES). “With this special issue on LEADS, the reader is provided a collection of findings on the most well-characterized sample of patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, all in one place. Our goal with this special issue was to permit the reader to have a more thorough understanding of early-onset Alzheimer’s after reading it.”

Hammers said none of this research could have occurred without the visionary leadership of Apostolova and other principal investigators Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, of the Alzheimer’s Association; Brad Dickerson, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; and Gil Rabinovici, MD, of the University of California San Francisco; as well as the generous support of the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Journal Link: Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Source: Indiana University

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Scientists uncover how fermented-food bacteria can guard against depression, anxiety



Newswise — University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have discovered how Lactobacillus, a bacterium found in fermented foods and yogurt, helps the body manage stress and may help prevent depression and anxiety. The findings open the door to new therapies to treat anxiety, depression and other mental-health conditions.

The new research from UVA’s Alban Gaultier, Ph.D., and collaborators is notable because it pinpoints the role of Lactobacillus, separating it out from all the other microorganisms that naturally live in and on our bodies. These organisms are collectively known as the microbiota, and scientists have increasingly sought to target them to battle disease and improve our health. UVA’s new research represents a major step forward in that effort, providing scientists an innovative new approach to understand the role of individual microbes that could facilitate the development of new treatments and cures for a wide variety of diseases, both mental and physical.

“Our discovery illuminates how gut-resident Lactobacillus influences mood disorders, by tuning the immune system,” said Gaultier, of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience, the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG Center) and the TransUniversity Microbiome Initiative. “Our research could pave the way towards discovering much-needed therapeutics for anxiety and depression.”

The Microbiota and Depression

Our guts are naturally home to countless bacteria, fungi, and viruses. There are more microorganisms living in and on us than there are cells in our bodies. That may sound disgusting, even alarming, but scientists have increasingly realized that these tiny organisms and their endless interactions are critical to our immune systems’ health, our mental health, and many other facets of our well-being. Disruptions of the microbiota, whether from illness, poor diet, or other causes, are known to contribute to many diseases and even help cancer spread. So, researchers have been hugely excited in recent years about the potential to battle diseases by targeting the microbiota.

Early attempts to manipulate the gut flora with beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, have produced mixed results. A big part of the problem has been the sheer complexity of the microbiome. It’s estimated that there are 39 trillion microorganisms inside each of us, so trying to understand what specific bacteria or fungi do – much less how they interact with all the other microorganisms and their host – can be like trying to count grains of sand on the beach.

Gaultier and his team took an innovative approach to hone in on Lactobacilli in specific. Prior research from Gaultier’s lab suggested that the bacteria could reverse depression in lab mice – a hugely promising finding. But the researchers needed to understand how.

“We were aware from our prior research that Lactobacillus was beneficial in improving mood disorders and was lost following psychological stress, but the underlying reasons remained unclear, primarily due to the technical challenges associated with studying the microbiome.”

Gaultier and his team decided to continue their depression research using a collection of bacteria, known as Altered Schaedler Flora, which includes two strains of Lactobacillus and six other bacterial strains. With this rarely used bacterial community, the team was able to create mice both with and without Lactobacillus,circumventing the need for antibiotics.  

Sure enough, the Altered Schaedler Flora produced exciting results. Gaultier and his colleagues were able to explain exactly how Lactobacilli influence behavior, and how a lack of the bacteria can worsen depression and anxiety. Lactobacilli in the family Lactobaccillacea, they found, maintain the levels of an immune mediator called interferon gamma that regulates the body’s response to stress and helps stave off depression.  

Armed with this information, researchers are poised to develop new ways to prevent and treat depression and other mental-health conditions in which Lactobacillus plays an important role. For example, patients struggling with (or at risk for) depression might one day take specially formulated probiotic supplements that will optimize their levels of helpful Lactobacillus.

“With these results in hand, we have new tools to optimize the development of probiotics, which should speed up discoveries for novel therapies,” said researcher Andrea R. Merchak, Ph.D. “Most importantly, we can now explore how maintaining a healthy level of Lactobacillus and/or interferon gamma could be investigated to prevent and treat anxiety and depression.” 

Findings Published

The UVA scientists have published their findings in the journal Brain Behavior and Immunity. The research team consisted of Merchak, Samuel Wachamo, Lucille C. Brown, Alisha Thakur, Brett Moreau, Ryan M. Brown, Courtney Rivet-Noor, Tula Raghavan and Gaultier. The researchers have no financial interest in the work.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, grants T32 NS115657, T32 GM008136, F31 AI174782, T32 GM007267 and T32 GM148379; the Owens Family Foundation; the Miller Family; the UVA TransUniversity Microbiome Initiative; and the UVA Presidential Fellowship in Neuroscience.

UVA’s TransUniversity Microbiome Initiative, or TUMI, serves as the central hub for the University’s cutting-edge microbiome research. The initiative aims to expand our understanding of the microbiome to better treat and prevent disease.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog at http://makingofmedicine.virginia.edu.

Source: University of Virginia Health System 

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Artificial Intelligence

McDonald’s and Google Cloud Announce Strategic Partnership to Connect Latest Cloud Technology and Apply Generative AI Solutions Across its Restaurants Worldwide



CHICAGO and SUNNYVALE, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — McDonald’s Corporation and Google today announced plans for a new multi-year, global partnership to connect Google Cloud technology across thousands of its restaurants worldwide. This partnership is a significant step for McDonald’s in advancing its restaurant technology platform to become the most sophisticated and productive in the industry. McDonald’s plans to leverage a wide range of Google Cloud’s hardware, data, and AI technologies to implement innovation faster and create even better experiences for its customers, restaurant teams, and employees.  

“We see tremendous opportunity for growth in our digital business and our partnership with Google Cloud allows us to capitalize on this by leveraging our size and scale to build capabilities and implement solutions at unmatched speeds,” said Brian Rice, McDonald’s Executive Vice President and Global Chief Information Officer. “Connecting our restaurants worldwide to millions of datapoints across our digital ecosystem means tools get sharper, models get smarter, restaurants become easier to operate, and most importantly, the overall experience for our customers and crew gets even better.” 

As part of this partnership, McDonald’s will roll out significant advancements to its restaurant and customer platforms – from its popular mobile app that serves as the gateway for its 150 million member-strong and quickly expanding loyalty program, to its thousands of self-service kiosks in restaurants worldwide. With a consistent approach, McDonald’s expects to deploy innovations with much greater speed and agility. McDonald’s will use edge computing from Google Cloud to power these new platforms, bringing information storage and high powered computing into individual restaurants. 

Google Distributed Cloud, a combined hardware and software offering, is planned to be deployed to thousands of McDonald’s restaurants so they can leverage both cloud-based software applications and their own software and AI solutions locally on-site, as needed. With Google Cloud edge computing capabilities, McDonald’s will be able to draw new insights into how equipment is performing, enact solutions that reduce business disruptions, and diminish complexity for crew so restaurant teams can focus on delivering amazing hospitality to customers. McDonald’s will be the largest global foodservice retailer to use Google Distributed Cloud’s new capabilities, with plans for thousands of restaurants to begin receiving their hardware and software upgrades next year.  

Through this new partnership, a dedicated Google Cloud team in Chicago will work in close proximity to McDonald’s global innovation center, known as Speedee Labs. Together, they’ll focus on applying generative AI across a number of key business priorities to power exciting new experiences for crew and customers, with McDonald’s unmatched convenience and value.  

“Through this wide-ranging partnership, Google Cloud will help McDonald’s seize on new opportunities to transform its business and customer experiences, empowering restaurants worldwide with the latest technologies for near-term impact,” said Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud’s Chief Executive Officer. “Pairing the iconic brand, size and scale of McDonald’s with Google Cloud’s deep history in AI and technology innovation will redefine how this industry works and what people expect when they dine out.” 

About Google Cloud 
Google Cloud accelerates every organization’s ability to digitally transform its business and industry. We deliver enterprise-grade solutions that leverage Google’s cutting-edge technology, and tools that help developers build more sustainably. Customers in more than 200 countries and territories turn to Google Cloud as their trusted partner to enable growth and solve their most critical business problems. 

About McDonald’s 
McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with over 40,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 95% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

SOURCE Google Cloud

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