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Can broccoli save us from osteoarthritis? BU researchers study influence of vitamin K

Tuhina Neogi, an instructor of medicine, and David Felson, a professor of medicine and epidemiology, won a grant from the Arthritis Foundation.

Researchers at the School of Medicine have some reason to believe that more trips to the produce aisle could mean fewer trips to the medicine cabinet for millions suffering from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Now, with help from a $200,000 grant from the Arthritis Foundation, Tuhina Neogi, an instructor of medicine, and David Felson, a professor of medicine and epidemiology, hope to find out for sure. The two scientists are investigating whether vitamin K, found in green leafy vegetables and broccoli, can slow or help prevent the disease.

Osteoarthritis, which affects nearly 21 million Americans, occurs when the cartilage that cushions bone joints deteriorates from years of wear, leading to pain, stiffness, inflammation, and swelling. The disease most often affects the hands, knees, and hips, and is a leading cause of disability for seniors.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis. Current treatments focus on alleviating the pain and other symptoms. Finding ways of slowing or preventing the disease is a major focus of research within the University’s Arthritis Center, where scientists are also studying other rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the vascular disease scleroderma, and carpal tunnel syndrome. To support such efforts, the Arthritis Foundation has given Boston University nearly $3 million in research grants over the past seven years.

“The arthritis research that’s going on at Boston University is some of the most exciting prevention research we have,” says McCoy.

Neogi and Felson hypothesize that vitamin K, which is known to help proteins that work to clot blood, might also be important for proteins that build and strengthen bone and cartilage. “[Vitamin K] may make cartilage hardier so that it better withstands wear and tear,” says Felson. “It may allow the bone to respond in a more healthy fashion to the wearing away of cartilage. And it may act as an anti-inflammatory, reducing the inflammation of joint linings that causes pain.”

Neogi and Felson were encouraged by the results of an earlier, observational study they conducted, using X-rays and vitamin K assessments from a group of participants in the Framingham Heart Study, the ongoing National Institutes of Health epidemiological study begun in 1948 and overseen by BU since 1971. Participants with the highest levels of vitamin K in their blood exhibited 30 to 40 percent less osteoarthritis than participants in the lowest quartile of vitamin K levels.  

Half the study participants received multivitamins with a large dose of vitamin K, while the other half took multivitamins that lacked vitamin K. The Arthritis Foundation grant will enable Neogi and Felson to obtain X-rays and to distribute joint-symptom questionnaires to participants during their final study visits, which will conclude by this October. Preliminary results could be available by the middle of 2007.

If a link between vitamin K and osteoarthritis is found, millions of Americans would have an easy way to help maintain their mobility into old age — eating more green leafy vegetables (which Americans typically don’t eat enough of) or taking a vitamin K supplement, “much like people now take calcium and vitamin D for osteoporosis,” says Neogi.

“Everyone wants to know if there’s something they can eat that can help with arthritis, and now we might be in the position of being able to say yes,” says Felson. “It’s a great opportunity, because it’s simple and it might have a tremendous public health and clinical impact.”

John Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation, agrees. “I think [the researchers at Boston University] have really been pioneers in approaching osteoarthritis from an epidemiological standpoint,” he says. “The fact that this disease is so common suggests that there could be common things that can influence it.”

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The Us Can’t Get Away From Lead’s Toxic Legacy

IN THE 1920S, the National Lead Company released a kids’ coloring book to promote its array of vibrant, metal-filled paints. On the cover, its smiling Dutch Boy mascot sits atop a headless lead horse with a can of the brand’s signature white varnish.

This was a common sight in 20th-century America, when lead could be found everywhere: In pipes bringing once-clean water to cities and towns. In paints that produced brighter colors and dried faster. In gas, to help the fuel combust more evenly in car engines. In plastic toys, to make them more flexible and resistant to heat. Even after physicians publicized the harms it posed to workers and children during the Industrial Revolution, the heavy metal was considered a versatile material. The US didn’t clamp down on its use in any way until the 1970s, allowing decades’ worth of toxins to build up in the environment, in the walls of homes, and, overwhelmingly, in marginalized neighborhoods. Today, the country is faced with the gargantuan task of cleaning up paint, pipes, acid batteries, and other common sources of the contaminant site by site.

Though lead is a naturally occurring element, the durability that made it appealing to manufacturers also makes it dangerous to most living creatures. Once it’s inhaled or ingested into the bloodstream and deposited into cells and tissues, it blocks beneficial enzymes and minerals—like zinc and calcium—from binding with proteins throughout the body. This, in turn, can disrupt kidney and brain function, cause infertility, and even prevent the creation of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin. Most medical experts agree that there’s no safe level of lead exposure for kids in particular, because the metal keeps their nervous systems from fully developing. It’s also bioaccumulative, meaning it builds up over time, as the body has no mechanism for ridding itself of the toxin. It’s been found in teeth, bones, and other tissues even decades after exposure.

Time has shown that the consequences of stashing the element internally can be grave and chronic. In a 2023 study in The Lancet Public Health, medical researchers concluded that lead-based products are still responsible for more than 400,000 deaths every year in the US. In 2023, sociologists and neuroscientists estimated in the journal PNAS that 90 percent of Americans born between 1951 and 1980 accrued alarming amounts of the heavy metal in their blood during childhood. The authors correlated those heightened levels with loss of cognitive skills and a significant dip in average adult IQ across millions of individuals. (This population-level analysis helped account for mitigating factors that typically make intelligence scores unreliable and biased.) “Exposures appear to have life-span consequences,” Matt Hauer, an assistant professor at Florida State University, said in a statement about the findings. “The burden of this and that legacy of exposures is going to be with us for decades to come.”

In light of the many risks to people of all ages, the Environmental Protection Agency has set the lead standard at 15 parts per billion molecules in water and 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Other countries have set the legal limit even lower: Canada’s, for example, holds at 5 ppb in water.

Those standards are relatively new: In the US, lead wasn’t banned in paint until 1978, new water pipes until 1986, or gasoline until 1996. Countries continue to use the material in manufacturing, while recycled products can dump it back into the supply chain. It’s also highly persistent in the environment, as it fails to react with other common elements and typically takes years to break down. “Lead is malleable, but it doesn’t break and corrode easily,” says Bhawani Venkataraman, a chemistry professor at the New School in New York City. It is, however, susceptible to chemical compounds called oxidizing agents that pull it out, contaminating water or air.

That is what makes lead a legacy polluter. In the 19th and 20th centuries, when modern plumbing was first taking shape, leaky wooden and clay pipes had caused outbreaks of waterborne illnesses like cholera. Those public health concerns led to the installation of thousands of miles of metal pipes all over the US. Decades later, cities with aging infrastructure like Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, have lead pervading their drinking sources. “Minimizing exposure requires a very careful balancing act,” Venkataraman says; small changes in the acidity or mineral content of water can cause undetected contamination over time. Often, the only recourse is to swap out the entire network with new copper piping—an expensive, laborious process that Flint and Newark are now neck-deep in.

Even as evidence piled up in the early 1900s that most quantities of lead were noxious, the industry mounted successful campaigns to convince policymakers not to ban their products and consumers to keep buying them.

Depending on the scale of the problem, it can take anywhere from $20 to $1,000 per household to filter lead out of tap water. And it will cost billions of dollars to remove and replace pipes nationwide. At the tail end of 2023, Congress allocated $15 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for purging lead plumbing in schools, homes, playgrounds, and other buildings—along with additional money to mitigate tainted paint and other fixtures. The funding comes with a promised focus on erasing inequities: Up to $3 billion will be made available to tribal governments, as public health experts have historically failed to quantify lead-exposure rates in Indigenous communities.

But that was far from the truth. Cities permitted industries and developers to set up sites that made or recycled lead in low-income communities of color—or the neighborhoods were knowingly built around such facilities. In the 1950s, Dallas, Texas, put a low-income housing complex just a few miles away from a lead smelter that had been in operation for 20 years and would continue to pump pollution into the community for several more decades. Decades of segregation and long-delayed remediation mean that Black and poor Americans continue to face more exposure to sources of lead poisoning than white, affluent residents.

Overall, humans have made significant strides to keep the risky substance out of homes and the environment. Between 1976 and 1980, American youth ages 1 to 5 had a median blood lead level of 15 micrograms per deciliter. By 2024, national studies showed that the level had fallen by more than 95 percent, to less than 1 microgram. There’s also nearly 98 percent less lead in the Earth’s atmosphere today than in 1980—a testament to cleaner fuels and better metal processing. But the world still has a long way to go before everyone is protected. The EPA has identified dozens of Superfund sites, many in urban areas, that need to be purged of the heavy metal. Globally, lead manufacturing and recycling are now concentrated in developing nations, where the levels recorded in children’s blood remain dangerously high. “If you think there’s no safe amount of exposure,” Venkataraman says, “then there should be no lead anywhere.”

This story originally ran in the Summer 2023 Metal issue of PopSci. Read more PopSci+ stories.

The Us Stinks At Composting. Here’s How We Can Change That.

Food waste isn’t just a problem for your wallet. Every time you scrape some scraps into the garbage to later drag to the curb for trash day, those uneaten morsels are likely destined for a landfill. Once at the landfill, the scraps significantly contribute to the climate crisis.

That’s because in a landfill, the scraps don’t just decompose and cycle back into the food web (and even then, biodegradable food left outside won’t necessarily degrade quickly, either). Piling up among our discarded goods and packaging, the scraps eventually begin to go through decomposition. 

But when scraps decompose anaerobically, the process creates methane. That’s the same potent greenhouse gas emitted through activities as varied as cow burps and farts to fossil fuel industry operations that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns in its latest report is exponentially more heat-trapping than carbon dioxide.

The US Environmental Protection Agency says in a recent report that there isn’t a “single agreed-upon comprehensive estimate” of food loss and waste in the US. Nevertheless, the agency says that existing assessments suggest that around 35 percent of the entire country’s food supply is wasted, with half of that occurring at home or in the hands of a food service provider.

This year, a separate report is slated for publication to address landfilled food waste-related emissions. But ReFED, a national nonprofit focused on food loss and waste reduction, calls food waste “the main contributor to methane [emissions] coming from landfills,” citing EPA data.

“Municipal solid waste landfills accounted for 15 percent of US methane emissions in 2023, making them the third largest source,” the nonprofit notes in a blog post. “And it turns out that food waste is the number one most prevalent material in our landfills — EPA estimates that in 2023, food scraps accounted for 24 percent of material sent to landfill.”

[Related: Anyone can compost their food waste (and everyone should.)]

Better government funding

Vermont bans food scraps from entering its waste stream (although compliance is voluntary). Washington state recently tightened its food waste reduction goal and codified new policies, like new package labeling standards, to get closer to target. And while the US Composting Council, an industry trade group, says there are a handful of other states that have outright bans or “aggressive legislation” around food scraps, observers say they won’t be alone for long.

Because waste management plans are typically developed at the local level, the onus will be on the states to fund municipal measures to realistically implement any food waste minimization standards, she says.

But Frank Franciosi, executive director of the US Composting Council, says his organization wants to see more federal funding for composting infrastructure.

“The back of the envelope number that I’ve figured out is, we need somewhere between 800 and 1000 [composting] facilities that would handle … 50,000 tons of both food waste and yard waste combined,” he says. “That would be about a $2 billion investment.”

The communications team of the US Environmental Protection Agency told Popular Science that the agency “does not have dedicated funding amounts specific to food scrap collection or composting” and instead rolls any related funding within its “overall waste management/waste minimization budget.”

The US Department of Agriculture didn’t respond to a request for such figures. 

Tailor your programs and messaging—and show ’em the money

In fact, she says, creating compost as a community can displace the need to purchase manure and fertilizer—or even be sold at a profit.

“If you have an end product that has a market value, of course that is going to be saving you money versus trying to take up space in the landfill,” says Lee. She calls composting a potentially “unifying proposition” with the right messaging.

When it comes to municipalities reaching these goals, it’s all about meeting people where they are and speaking their kind of language. For example, a big football community might bring food scrap drop-off bins to tailgating parties to show people how easy collection can be, she suggested.

Making appropriate composting options available to the community will help spur more composting without burdening residents, she added. That could look like curbside collection, consolidated food scrap collection or a combination of offerings. Some communities might even offer vouchers for people to purchase their preferred model or style of compost bins.

[Related: Drug-resistant fungus could be lurking in your compost, but you can reduce the risk.]

“To get people to compost, it needs to be as convenient as trash to set up,” says Brenda Platt, who directs the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s community composting project.

Teach both adults and children

The greatest challenge of reducing food waste and encouraging composting is reminding people of the true value of food, says Lee.

“We forget about the nutrients, we just don’t seem to care about the money,” she says. Lee sees how helping adults connect the dots for where their tax dollars go, the money they spend on wasted food and the environmental benefits of composting can encourage someone to start composting when she hosts community events and teaches people how to do it in a way that works best for them.

For Gropper, something as simple as a well-organized home mailing campaign, that “spells out the problem with food waste” and what people can do can nudge them into getting a bin and collecting their scraps.

It’s also worthwhile to reach out and educate even the youngest citizens of a town. “I think a super important component of making this big shift [toward more composting] is explaining it to the children,” says Lee.

To that end, Lee has been supervising Hannah Mathieu, a University of Maine undergraduate student, who is managing a pilot program aimed at educating local kindergarteners through sixth graders about food waste and composting. Teachers were provided with a series of videos, slideshows, worksheets and hands-on activities to do with their students.

“I was so amazed at how much they were picking up because like some of these topics are kind of complex,” says Mathieu. “They were learning about the actual process of compost and decomposition and just reciting so easily to us how it works. It was really amazing to see how easily they were picking up on the information.”

What Can Marketers Learn From The Music Industry?

No matter what business you’re in, if you work as a sales person or marketing professional, or if you’re a small business owner or business executive, if you are interested in marketing, technology, or music and pop culture, you should read the blog of Bob Lefsetz, a music industry analyst with strong opinions about where the music business is going, and what it means for the way we live. The music industry is one of America’s glamour industries – lots of kids grow up wanting to be rock stars or pop singers. But the reality of the music industry is that it’s a business just like everything else, and the music industry has been severely disrupted by recent changes in technology and consumer tastes.

People often think that the music business is a creative, cutting-edge industry, but in many ways, the music business has gotten caught flat-footed by some of the huge technological changes that have affected the way people spend money on music. According to Bob Lefsetz, rather than being a leading industry that used to inspire dreams and make people want to learn to play the guitar, today’s music industry is in many ways struggling to keep up with the pace of change throughout the broader culture.

Even if you’re in an “unglamorous” business where you’ll never win a Grammy or hang out with celebrities, there are still some surprising lessons about marketing, technology and America’s evolving consumer culture that any sales or marketing professional can learn from looking at today’s music industry.

Here are a few of Bob Lefsetz’s key points about marketing lessons from the music industry:

Today, technology is the new rock n’ roll.

Music used to be the premier pinnacle of American culture. The Baby Boomers believed that music had the power to change the world – that music could help end war and create universal peace and love. Music was the soundtrack to the rebellious, tumultuous 1960s – from the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show to Jim Morrison and the Doors, to Jimi Hendrix and his transcendent talent. But something has changed – music is no longer the industry where people try to change the world. Today, technology is cool in the way that music used to be. Kids used to want to grow up to be rock stars like Mick Jagger; now they want to grow up to be entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs. This doesn’t mean that music no longer has a place in the popular imagination – it’s just that music doesn’t mean what it used to mean; it’s not the driver of the culture that it used to be. Instead, technology has become the new rock n’ roll. America in 2024 venerates entrepreneurs and innovation in the way that we used to worship musicians. The lesson here: it’s cool to be a tech company. It’s cool to be innovative. Tech companies and startups are using the same type of language that iconic musicians used to use to talk about their work “changing the world.” Try to make your brand more innovative and creative – what are you doing to change the world? Don’t be afraid to be ambitious and connect your marketing messages with lofty goals. It’s important for your customers to have an emotional connection with your brand – ideally, your brand should have “fans” who love your products the same way music fans love their favorite bands. Does that sound like too much of a stretch? Just look at Apple – they’ve gone from being an “underground” cult “band” to being the “biggest band in the world” – they even hosted U2 at a recent press conference.

The old business model doesn’t work anymore.

The music industry is a highly visible example of what happens when technology disrupts a big business model. Record labels used to make money by selling actual physical “records,” printed on vinyl. Then they transitioned to cassette tapes and CDs. All of these physical copies of music recordings were very profitable for record labels to sell – as described in this New York Times article from 1995, record labels used to get huge profit margins on CD sales; they could print a CD for 15 cents and sell it for $16.98. Bands used to go on tour to support sales of their new album – the tour was a loss leader for the huge profits to be made from selling physical copies of the music.

But with the rise of digital technology, MP3s and now music streaming services like Spotify, all of that is over now. People don’t want to buy CDs anymore; people want to stream music online, often for free, or for a low monthly subscription fee – even downloadable single tracks like iTunes are behind the times. The music industry has seen its cash cow – album sales – plummet, and they still haven’t figured out what to do next. Digital music sales recently surpassed CD sales for the first time – but lots of record labels are still stuck in the past, making albums that no one wants to buy.

The lesson? Every industry is vulnerable to seeing its business model disrupted by technological changes. You have to adapt. Find new ways of making money even if technology or consumer preferences change and undermine your old business model. For example, the old idea of touring to support an album is totally reversed in the new world of the music industry: today’s musicians make a lot more money by touring than they make from selling CDs.

Be transparent.

Lots of people in the music industry – musicians, record label execs, agents, etc. – have complained that there is no money to be made in music anymore, but that’s not true. Bob Lefsetz continually hits home the point that there is still opportunity out there for musicians who are ready to do things differently – even if you’re not going to be a big radio star or MTV icon like previous generations did, the great thing about today’s digital tools and social media is that it makes it possible for musicians to connect – radically connect – with their audiences. Lefsetz argues that musicians need to open up to their audience – share the behind-the-scenes footage from rehearsals on YouTube or Facebook, put out a new song every week (instead of waiting 3 years to release one big album that is an irrelevant format in today’s world of online streaming), respond to fans’ questions online – show the love to the people who love you most. By building your audience, you will get people who want to come see you perform live, people who will support your career financially, people who will tell their friends about what you do. It’s the same way in other industries – whether you’re a musician or a marketer, today’s marketing landscape is all about radical transparency and constant relationship-building with the people who matter most to your business. Nurture your “fan base.” Be open and honest and real. People will keep buying from you if they feel like they know you and they believe in what you stand for.

The music industry might not be the center of the public imagination like it used to be – today, tech entrepreneurs are in many ways becoming the new “rock stars” – but there are still some valuable lessons to learn from watching the music industry sort out its challenges in the wake of some massive technological disruptions. Even though people increasingly prefer to listen to music online rather than buying albums at the record store, there is still a huge demand for authenticity, honesty and connection with our favorite musicians and artists. Create that sense of connection with your marketing – build your fan base and get them to love you – and you can be a “rock star” in your own world.

What Can Educators Learn From The Gaming Industry?

Once seen as a form of entertainment or a way to pass the time, games are now becoming prevalent in every industry — particularly in education. Everyone is catching on to the fact that games are engaging. Games are addictive. Educational. Motivational. Games are powerful tools for change and learning.

But what gives games these qualities? And what can educators learn from the gaming industry that they can apply to teaching?

Free to Learn, Free to Play

Games present users with a mechanic — that is, a set outline of rules and dynamics that guide gameplay — and as players invest more time in the mechanic, they get a stronger understanding for how it works and an increased proficiency at applying the mechanic.

Take Braid or Portal. Players are briefly told how the main mechanic works, and are then left to discover how to solve the puzzles using the mechanic. As they progress, the puzzles become harder and require more knowledge of the mechanic and its applications. Think of it like an understanding of Pythagoras’ theorem — students must first grasp the basics and then use their knowledge to explore and solve new and increasingly complex problems.

However, it could easily be argued that gamers are much more motivated to solve a puzzle in Portal than students are to use Pythagoras’ theorem to solve a problem in a test.

Why?

Because students in schools are absorbing and applying knowledge to pass a test. In a game, players are doing so because they want to explore and progress voluntarily. Players have intrinsic motivation in games — a desire to finish the story, beat their friends, or achieve high scores — and in doing so, they are willing to think laterally about how to solve problems.

Games allow for play and experimentation. Humans love to solve problems and create. Shouldn’t this go for education as well? We just need to stop thinking of education as teaching a set of information that needs to be regurgitated, and start thinking of it as a way to approach and understand the world.

Failure is Most Certainly an Option – and It’s Encouraged

When players don’t defeat a boss in-game, they don’t fail at the entire game. They’re not embarrassed, and it doesn’t affect their self-esteem. Rather, they can try again. And again. And again. They can experiment. They can get creative with their tactics.

Games give us a problem to overcome. If we don’t overcome it at first, we try again. And as we re-attempt it, we identify gaps in our knowledge or begin to understand the system a little better so that we can start to develop “strategies” and eventually overcome the challenge.

Adding to this, games give extremely clear feedback. When you go in the wrong direction, the game will tell you so. If you aren’t equipped with the correct weapon to defeat the boss, you won’t defeat the boss (if you play The Legend of Zelda, you know this all too well).

However, if a student fails the SATs or a pop quiz, they are never presented with the opportunity to attempt the same problem again — at least, not in a way that isn’t met with the feeling that they failed drastically. Instead, a traditional learning environment tells its “players” that they only get one shot, one opportunity. And sometimes, students don’t even know why they failed.

But what if educators allowed students to keep trying a problem over and over again until they succeeded? Rather than parrot back information or cram knowledge for the be-all-and-end-all test, students would develop a stronger understanding of the information they are given, and they’d have the opportunity to learn and develop their understanding at a deeper level – without becoming paralyzed by fear of failure along the way.

Games Allow for a Level of Abstraction

Games are sometimes explicit in their learning objectives but, more often than not, learning becomes a byproduct of a game.

Let’s go back to the example of Pythagoras’ theorem. At first, to the unknowing learner, it can seem intimidating, complex, and off-putting. However, traditional education systems don’t allow for much abstraction. Students must learn that a2 + b2 = c2. They pretty much have no choice.

However, games aren’t so limited. They incorporate metaphors, imagery, and ideas to help communicate concepts. Games allow players to learn on a subtextual level. They allow for secondary learning outcomes. They are well known for abstracting complex issues down to basic and easily digestible problems that users can interact with and begin to understand.

Students can really benefit from using games in the classroom, because sometimes abstraction through metaphors, re-enactments, and narrative can do the trick — and do it well.

How have you used games in your classroom? Please share stories and strategies.

Photoshop Cs6 New Features – Background Save And Auto Save

The second and more important new feature is Auto Save , which lets Photoshop CS6 save a backup copy of your work at regular intervals so that if Photoshop happens to crash while you’re working on an image, rather than losing everything you’ve done and starting over, you can recover the file and continue working from where you left off! In this tutorial, we’ll learn how both of these new features work.

Photoshop CS6 brings with it two great new features designed to improve your workflow and minimize annoying chúng tôi first of these new features, Background Save , lets Photoshop save your file quietly in the background so you can continue working on the image even as it’s being saved.

Background Save

If you’ve been using Photoshop for a while, you know that as we add more and more layers to a document, we increase the file size. You probably also know that the bigger the file size becomes, the longer it takes Photoshop to save your work. With Photoshop CS5 and earlier, saving a large file often meant taking a break, whether you wanted to or not, because Photoshop would essentially freeze as the file was being saved, locking you out of the program and preventing you from doing anything more until the saving process was completed. Thanks to the new Background Save feature in Photoshop CS6, that’s no longer the case.

Here’s an image that I currently have open in CS6:

If we look in the bottom left of the document window, we see that the current file size is 121 MB, which is fairly small as far as Photoshop files go:

If we look in my Layers panel, we see that at the moment, my document contains only one layer, which is why the file size is relatively small:

With small file sizes like this, saving them isn’t a problem. The process happens so quickly that you barely notice it. Where the new Background Save feature in Photoshop CS6 begins to shine is when we start working with files that are hundreds of megabytes or more in size.

To see how it works, I’ll quickly increase the size of my file by making multiple copies of my image. To do that, I’ll press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) several times. Each time I press it, I make a new copy of the layer that the image is sitting on. Here we can see that my document now contains 8 layers – the original image on the Background layer, plus 7 copies above it:

When we look again in the bottom left of the document window, we see that my file size has increased from 121 MB all the way up to 967.9 MB:

Saving a file as large as this will take some time, and as I mentioned, in Photoshop CS5 and earlier, we would essentially be locked out of Photoshop and unable to continue working until the saving process was finished. Watch what happens, though, as I save the file in Photoshop CS6, which I’ll do by going up to the File menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choosing Save:

The first clue that something is different with CS6 is that Photoshop now shows us how far along we are in the saving process by displaying a couple of progress indicators. The first one can be found in the name tab at the top of the document window, where the progress is displayed as a percentage. Here, Photoshop is telling me that the save process is 34% completed:

The second indicator appears in the bottom left of the document window, and this one is a bit more helpful because along with the percentage value, it also displays the save process as a familiar blue progress bar:

While these progress indicators are a nice new addition to the interface, the real power of the Background Save feature in Photoshop CS6 is that, as its name implies, the saving process now takes place entirely in the background. What does that mean? It means that our workflow will no longer be interrupted when we go to save a large file because we won’t be locked out of Photoshop. We can continue working on the image even while it’s been saved!

As an example, here we can see that I’ve started working on a black and white conversion of my image (by adding a Black and White adjustment layer) even though the progress indicators at the top and bottom of the document window are telling me that the save process is still only 51% completed. The Background Save feature will even let us switch to a completely different image to work on while the original image is being saved, something that was not possible in Photoshop CS5 and earlier:

Auto Save

A second and even more impressive new feature in Photoshop CS6 is Auto Save. Even though Photoshop has evolved into a very mature and stable program, there’s always the chance that something will go wrong and Photoshop will crash. When that happens, we often end up losing all the work we’ve done on our image, forcing us to start over again from scratch. At least, that’s the way things used to be back in Photoshop CS5 and earlier.

Auto Save allows Photoshop to save a backup copy of our work at regular intervals so that if Photoshop does happen to crash, we can recover the file and continue from where we left off!

We can tell Photoshop how often we want it to save a backup copy of our work in the File Handling section of the Preferences. On a PC, go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen, choose Preferences, and then choose File Handling. On a Mac, go up to the Photoshop menu, choose Preferences, then choose File Handling:

Here, you’ll find the Automatically Save Recovery Information Every option, which by default is set to 10 minutes, meaning that Photoshop will save a backup copy of your work every 10 minutes. You can increase it to every 5 minutes, as I’ve done here, or if you’re more of a gambler, you can set it to save a backup copy once every hour (there’s also a 15 minutes and 30 minutes option):

It’s important to note that Photoshop isn’t saving over your original file (which would be very bad). The recovery information is kept in a separate backup file. If Photoshop does happen to crash while you’re working, simply re-open Photoshop and it will automatically open the most recently saved backup copy, complete with all the work you had done up to the point where Photoshop saved the backup copy (assuming, of course, that you had been working long enough for Photoshop to have made at least one backup copy). You’ll know it’s the backup copy because Photoshop adds Recovered to the file name (which is displayed in the tab at the top of the document window):

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