Yes. There is a science to wine swirling.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
A paper published a paper in Acta Astronautica suggests we study the moon for alien artifacts.
(PhysOrg.com) -- If you were part of a team sent to explore an unknown planet; and that planet had a natural orbiting moon, wouldn’t it make sense to use that moon as a base camp or remote observation post? Especially if you didn’t want those being observed to know you were there? Professor Paul Davis and research technician Robert Wagner think so, and that’s why they’ve published a paper in Acta Astronautica that suggests we humans begin taking a little closer look at our own moon to see if any alien life forms might have left behind some evidence of their visit.
Though some might see it as farfetched, or heaven forbid, lunacy, Davis and Wagner are convinced that it’s worth the small amount of investment such a search would entail. What if, they suggest, close-up photographs of the moon that are already being made available to the masses (from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) via the Internet, were to be presented with a request that anyone that would like to participate, study whichever photos they find interesting, looking for anything that appears of unnatural origin, then report back. Interesting “finds” could then be studied by many others, and those that seem promising could be studied further by professionals. It all seems so easy, after all, other group projects are underway, and by most accounts, appear to meet with relative success.
Another possibility, the team suggests, is using image or shape recognizing software to scan photos of the moon to help narrow down search areas and to alert humans when it finds something interesting.
The current released Stuxnet-like cyber weapons are narrowly aimed. Let's hope the other three are targeted on Iran.
(PhysOrg.com) -- The Stuxnet cyber weapon that was designed to cripple control systems in Iran’s nuclear plant was just one of five weapons engineered in the same lab, and three have not been released yet. That is the word from Moscow based Kaspersky Lab. What’s more, according to Kaspersky’s director of global research, Costin Raiu, these Lego-like weapons work as modules, in that they are designed to fit together with each having different functions. They were developed on a single platform whose roots trace back at least to 2007; the creators have used the same software development environment ever since.
Raiu told Reuters about the findings on Wednesday based on the evidence that his team has gathered. He cited Stuxnet--the Iran-targeted weapon-- and a related Duqu--the data-scoffing Trojan targeting design documents that showed up this year in Europe-- as two of what might be a lethal assembly—three of the weapons have yet to be released.
Besides Kaspersky, other anti-virus leaders such as Symantec and Trend Micro incorporated technology into their products to protect systems against Stuxnet and Duqu; Raiu says that these viruses may be more sophisticated than previously known. Keep on reading...
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Climate change is normal. Change is what climates do. That change has had a significant impact on the evolution of North American animals. Would man even exist without climate change?
ScienceDaily — Climate changes profoundly influenced the rise and fall of six distinct, successive waves of mammal species diversity in North America over the last 65 million years, shows a novel statistical analysis led by Brown University evolutionary biologists. Warming and cooling periods, in two cases confounded by species migrations, marked the transition from one dominant grouping to the next.
History often seems to happen in waves -- fashion and musical tastes turn over every decade and empires give way to new ones over centuries. A similar pattern characterizes the last 65 million years of natural history in North America, where a novel quantitative analysis has identified six distinct, consecutive waves of mammal species diversity or "evolutionary faunas." What force of history determined the destiny of these groupings? The numbers say it was typically climate change.
"Although we've always known in a general way that mammals respond to climatic change over time, there has been controversy as to whether this can be demonstrated in a quantitative fashion," said Christine Janis, professor of evolutionary biology at Brown University. "We show that the rise and fall of these faunas is indeed correlated with climatic change -- the rise or fall of global paleotemperatures -- and also influenced by other more local perturbations such as immigration events."
Specifically, of the six waves of species diversity that Janis and her Spanish collaborators recently describe online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, four show statistically significant correlations with major changes in temperature. The two transitions that show a weaker but still apparent correlation with the pattern correspond to periods when mammals from other continents happened to invade in large numbers, said Janis, who is the paper's senior and second author.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
A British study of 8,000 people over 6 years has found no benefit to taking multivitamin supplements.
Researchers spent more than six years following 8,000 people and found that those taking supplements were just as likely to have developed cancer or heart disease as those who took an identical-looking dummy pill.
And when they were questioned on how healthy they felt, there was hardly any difference between the two groups.
Experts said the study – one of the most extensive carried out into vitamin pills – suggested that millions of consumers may be wasting their money on supplements.
Many users fall into the category of the ‘worried well’ – healthy adults who believe the pills will insure them against deadly illnesses – according to Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital in London.
She said: ‘It’s the worried well who are taking these pills to try and protect themselves against Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and strokes.
‘But they are wasting their money. This was a large study following people up for a long period of time assessing everything from their mobility and blood pressure to whether they were happy or felt pain.’
Multi-vitamin supplements have become increasingly popular as a quick and easy way of topping up the body’s nutrient levels.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
This new bullet train does over 300 mph.
(PhysOrg.com) -- China tested a 500 kilometers per hour (311 mph) train over the weekend. Government officials call the record-breaking speedster a “useful reference” for China’s current high speed railway operations. The test train’s speed, according to a Monday report in China Daily, exceeds the world speed record of 300 kilometers per hour held by the Beijing Shanghai High Speed Railway. China’s latest high-speed train has a maximum tractive power of 22,800 kilowatts, compared with the 9,600 kilowatts for China Railways High-Speed (CRH) trains in service on the Beijing-Shanghai High Speed line.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Was it a meteor, a comet or space junk?
Venus and a crescent moon will be in conjunction tonight!
(PHYSORG)- ...On Dec. 26th, the night after Christmas, Venus and the slender crescent Moon will gather for a jaw-dropping conjunction in the western sky.
The action begins shortly before sunset. Around 4:30 pm to 5:00 pm local time, just as the sky is assuming its evening hue, Venus will pop into view, glistening bright in the deepening twilight. No more than 6 degrees to the right lies the crescent Moon, exquisitely slender, grinning like the Cheshire cat with his head cocked at humorous attention. This is a wonderful time to look; there are very few sights in the heavens as splendid as Venus and the Moon gathered close and surrounded by twilight blue.
But don't go inside yet, because the view is about to improve. As the sky fades to black, a ghostly image of the full Moon materializes within the horns of the lunar crescent. This is caused by Earthshine, a delicate veil of sunlight reflected from our own blue planet onto the dusty-dark lunar terrain. Also known as "the Da Vinci glow," after Leonardo da Vinci who first understood it 500 years ago, Earthshine pushes the beauty of the conjunction over the top...Keep on reading...
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/University of Tokyo
Astronomers peer back 12.9 billion years.
ScienceDaily — Astronomers, including the University of California, Riverside's Bahram Mobasher and his graduate student Hooshang Nayyeri, have discovered that one of the most distant galaxies known is churning out stars at a shockingly high rate. The researchers made the discovery using NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. The blob-shaped galaxy, called GN-108036, is the brightest galaxy found to date at such great distances.
The galaxy, which was discovered and confirmed using ground-based telescopes, is 12.9 billion light-years away. Data from Spitzer and Hubble were used to measure the galaxy's high star production rate, equivalent to about 100 suns per year. For reference, our Milky Way galaxy is about five times larger and 100 times more massive than GN-108036, but makes roughly 30 times fewer stars per year.
The discovery is surprising because previous surveys had not found galaxies this bright so early in the history of the universe. According to the researchers, GN-108036 may be a special, rare object that they happened to catch during an extreme burst of star formation.
The international team of astronomers, led by Masami Ouchi of the University of Tokyo, Japan, first identified the remote galaxy after scanning a large patch of sky with the Subaru Telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Its great distance was then carefully confirmed with the W.M. Keck Observatory, also on Mauna Kea.
GN-108036 lies near the very beginning of time itself, a mere 750 million years after our universe was created 13.7 billion years ago in an explosive "Big Bang." Its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach us, so we are seeing it as it existed in the very distant past.
Spread Some Extra Merry Merry This Christmas With a Few Apps
Friday, December 23, 2011
Credit: ACS Nano
Scientists create solar power paint.
ScienceDaily — Imagine if the next coat of paint you put on the outside of your home generates electricity from light -- electricity that can be used to power the appliances and equipment on the inside.
A team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame has made a major advance toward this vision by creating an inexpensive "solar paint" that uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce energy.
"We want to do something transformative, to move beyond current silicon-based solar technology," says Prashant Kamat, John A. Zahm Professor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry and an investigator in Notre Dame's Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano), who leads the research.
"By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots, into a spreadable compound, we've made a one-coat solar paint that can be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment." Keep on reading...
Coming soon, an effective device for restoring sight?
Sheila Nirenberg at TEDMED 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A recent TEDMED talk has scientists interested in a presenter’s novel techniques to help the blind. A device with two parts, encoder and transducer, can do the job. Sheila Nirenberg, a neuroscientist and professor at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, recently discussed the results of her work at TEDMED on how the brain takes external information and encodes it in patterns of electrical activity. She set out to describe what her team found in exploring how the retina communicates with the brain.
Their prosthetic device can potentially be used to treat blindness in humans though their work thus far has been on mice.
In her lab’s research overview, she writes, “Our lab works on the general question, 'How do networks of neurons process information?', and we use a combined experimental and computational approach.”
Setting out to decode brain activity, they unraveled patterns of electrical pulses and deciphered what an animal may be seeing. She told the TEDMED audience that when tested in mice this prosthetic eye can deliver more accurate images than can other prosthetics. “Current prosthetics do not work very well,” she said. Sight-impaired people who try them succeed in seeing bright lights and edges, but she said there is opportunity to create prosthetics that are more effective than that.
Patterns of pulses coming out of the eye tell the brain what is seen. With the blind person, the brain no longer gets the necessary visual information from the eye. Her prosthetic, with its encoder and transducer, can send out signals that the brain can understand. Read more here...
Sheila Nirenberg at TEDMED 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
There is now a Facebook-like website for robots at MyRobots.com. It is currently in beta.
Being a robot just got a little bit more sociable, now that droids have their own social network. At MyRobots.com, which launched today, robot owners can sign-up their automatons, create profiles for them - even include a photo and a name - and then leave them to update their own status. This might be a simple temperature reading - or the results of a clever face-recognition algorithm.
"You can see MyRobots.com as the Facebook for robots and smart objects," says project co-ordinator Carlos Asmat of Montreal, Canada. Like Facebook, signing up is free, although that may change in the future.
Credit: Scott White
Illinois engineers have developed a self-healing system, using microcapsules full of liquid metal, that restores electrical conductivity to a cracked circuit
ScienceDaily — When one tiny circuit within an integrated chip cracks or fails, the whole chip -- or even the whole device -- is a loss. But what if it could fix itself, and fix itself so fast that the user never knew there was a problem?
A team of University of Illinois engineers has developed a self-healing system that restores electrical conductivity to a cracked circuit in less time than it takes to blink. Led by aerospace engineering professor Scott White and materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos, the researchers published their results in the journal Advanced Materials.
"It simplifies the system," said chemistry professor Jeffrey Moore, a co-author of the paper. "Rather than having to build in redundancies or to build in a sensory diagnostics system, this material is designed to take care of the problem itself."
As electronic devices are evolving to perform more sophisticated tasks, manufacturers are packing as much density onto a chip as possible. However, such density compounds reliability problems, such as failure stemming from fluctuating temperature cycles as the device operates or fatigue. A failure at any point in the circuit can shut down the whole device.
"In general there's not much avenue for manual repair," Sottos said. "Sometimes you just can't get to the inside. In a multilayer integrated circuit, there's no opening it up. Normally you just replace the whole chip. It's true for a battery too. You can't pull a battery apart and try to find the source of the failure."
Most consumer devices are meant to be replaced with some frequency, adding to electronic waste issues, but in many important applications -- such as instruments or vehicles for space or military functions -- electrical failures cannot be replaced or repaired. Keep on reading...
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Capturing video at the speed of light — one trillion frames per second
The debate over where syphilis came from may be over. Examination of skeletons indicates Columbus voyage to the new world was responsible.
(PHYSORG)- Skeletons don't lie. But sometimes they may mislead, as in the case of bones that reputedly showed evidence of syphilis in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage in 1492.
None of this skeletal evidence, including 54 published reports, holds up when subjected to standardized analyses for both diagnosis and dating, according to an appraisal in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. In fact, the skeletal data bolsters the case that syphilis did not exist in Europe before Columbus set sail.
"This is the first time that all 54 of these cases have been evaluated systematically," says George Armelagos, an anthropologist at Emory University and co-author of the appraisal. "The evidence keeps accumulating that a progenitor of syphilis came from the New World with Columbus' crew and rapidly evolved into the venereal disease that remains with us today."
The appraisal was led by two of Armelagos' former graduate students at Emory: Molly Zuckerman, who is now an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, and Kristin Harper, currently a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University. Additional authors include Emory anthropologist John Kingston and Megan Harper from the University of Missouri.
"Syphilis has been around for 500 years," Zuckerman says. "People started debating where it came from shortly afterwards, and they haven't stopped since. It was one of the first global diseases, and understanding where it came from and how it spread may help us combat diseases today."
Monday, December 19, 2011
Scientists isolate gene that reverses the course of diseases like Alzheimer's and boosts memory.
(The Slideshow)- Scientists have isolated a gene in mice that works to give them "super memories" and reverses the course of several degenerative mental illnesses like Alzheimer's. And because of the similarity of mice and human brains, a powerful brain pill for humans may now not be far off.
The brains of both mice and humans release a gene known as PKR, which is triggered by the onset of Alzheimer's. But the newly discovered gene can apparently block PKR's release--a development that not only can reverse the course of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's, but induces a state of "super memory" in the mice it has been tested on.
"If we were to find an inhibitor, a molecule, a drug that will specifically block PKR, we should be able to do the same [in humans]," Maura Costa-Mattioli, who led the research study at Baylor University, told the Vancouver Sun. "And we did."
Keep on reading...
Arrows indicate shock wave features. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/The University of Arizona
Dust avalanches on Mars triggered by shock wave preceding meteorite impacts.
ScienceDaily — Dust avalanches around impact craters on Mars appear to be the result of the shock wave preceding the actual impact, according to a study led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona.
When a meteorite careens toward the dusty surface of the Red Planet, it kicks up dust and can cause avalanching even before the rock from outer space hits the ground, a research team led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona has discovered.
"We expected that some of the streaks of dust that we see on slopes are caused by seismic shaking during impact," said Kaylan Burleigh, who led the research project. "We were surprised to find that it rather looks like shockwaves in the air trigger the avalanches even before the impact."
Because of Mars' thin atmosphere, which is 100 times less dense than Earth's, even small rocks that would burn up or break up before they could hit the ground here on Earth crash into the Martian surface relatively unimpeded.
Each year, about 20 fresh craters between 1 and 50 meters (3 to 165 feet) show up in images taken by the HiRISE camera on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, is operated by the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and has been photographing the Martian surface since 2006, revealing features down to less than 1 meter in size.
Read more here...
The Nest thermostat of the future has a touchscreen and can be controlled remotely by your iPhone.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Chemically scrubbing carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere is too expensive.
(PhysOrg.com) -- While it is possible to chemically scrub carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere in order to lessen the severity of global warming, the process is prohibitively expensive for now. Best to focus on controls for coal-burning power plants, say researchers.
Someday the world may be in a position to lower the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by chemically removing it from the air.
But not soon; the process is simply too expensive, say scientists from Stanford and MIT.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored by Stanford energy and environmental researcher Jennifer Wilcox, concludes that if air-capture of carbon dioxide with chemicals is ever used, it will be far in the future.
For now, it is much more economically efficient to capture the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere from the smokestacks of large centralized sources such as power plants, cement plants, fertilizer plants and refineries.
After a detailed comparison, the research team concluded that the cost of removal from air is likely to be on the order of $1,000 per ton of carbon dioxide, compared with $50 to $100 per ton for current power-plant scrubbers.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Credit: ESO/MPE/Marc Schartmann
A large gas cloud is about to be consumed by our Milky Way's black hole.
ScienceDaily — The normally quiet neighborhood around the massive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is being invaded by a gas cloud that is destined in just a few years to be ripped, shredded and largely eaten.
Many, if not all, galaxies have massive black holes at their centers. But this supermassive black hole is the only one close enough for astronomers to study in detail, so the violent encounter is a unique chance to observe what until now has only been theorized: how a black hole gulps gas, dust and stars as it grows ever bigger.
"When we look at the black holes in the centers of other galaxies, we see them get bright and then fade, but we never know what is actually happening," said Eliot Quataert, a theoretical astrophysicist and University of California, Berkeley professor of astronomy. "This is an unprecedented opportunity to obtain unique observations and insight into the processes that go on as gas falls into a black hole, heats up and emits light. It's a neat window onto a black hole that's actually capturing gas as it spirals in."
"The next two years will be very interesting and should provide us with extremely valuable information on the behavior of matter around such massive objects, and its ultimate fate," said Reinhard Genzel, professor of physics at both UC Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany.
Recently discovered Comet Lovejoy survives a close brush with Sol. (video)
Comet Lovejoy was only discovered a couple of weeks ago. It was supposed to melt as it came so close to the sun that the temperatures would hit several million degrees.
But astronomers watching live with NASA telescopes were shocked when a bright spot emerged on the sun’s other side. Lovejoy lived.
Robots Make Popcorn and Sandwiches (video)
Friday, December 16, 2011
New research has found as little as one minute of exercise a day could prevent diabetes.
(Medical Xpress) -- Volunteers were asked to perform two 20-second cycle sprints, three times per week for researchers in the University’s Department for Health.
After six weeks researchers saw a 28 per cent improvement in their insulin function.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels build up to dangerously high levels due to reduced insulin function, often caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
The condition can cause life-threatening complications to the heart, kidneys, eyes and limbs, and costs the NHS £1 million an hour in treatments and care.
Regular exercise can help keep blood sugar levels low but busy lifestyles and lack of motivation mean 66 per cent of the population is not getting the recommended five 30-minute sessions of moderate exercise a week.
Dr. Niels Vollaard who is leading the study, said: “Our muscles have sugar stores, called glycogen, for use during exercise. To restock these after exercise the muscle needs to take up sugar from the blood. In inactive people there is less need for the muscles to do this, which can lead to poor sensitivity to insulin, high blood sugar levels, and eventually type 2 diabetes.”
Who said robots had to be hard and tough? This robot gripper ear inspired by squid.
(PHYSORG)- ...Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, and his research team have developed an array of “soft” robots based on natural forms, including squid and starfish. Whitesides envisions using the pneumatically powered robots to aid disaster recovery efforts by squeezing into the rubble left by an earthquake to locate survivors, or as a way to free up a surgeon’s hands in the operating room. The work is described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this month....
Thursday, December 15, 2011
ScienceDaily — A team of scientists from Oregon has collected microbes from ice within a lava tube in the Cascade Mountains and found that they thrive in cold, Mars-like conditions.
The microbes tolerate temperatures near freezing and low levels of oxygen, and they can grow in the absence of organic food. Under these conditions their metabolism is driven by the oxidation of iron from olivine, a common volcanic mineral found in the rocks of the lava tube. These factors make the microbes capable of living in the subsurface of Mars and other planetary bodies, the scientists say.
The findings, supported by a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), are detailed in the journal Astrobiology.
"This microbe is from one of the most common genera of bacteria on Earth," said Amy Smith, a doctoral student at Oregon State University and one of the authors of the study. "You can find its cousins in caves, on your skin, at the bottom of the ocean and just about anywhere. What is different, in this case, is its unique qualities that allow it to grow in Mars-like conditions."
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Infants with little of the stress-related hormone cortisol have few allergies.
ScienceDaily — A new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shows that infants with low concentrations of the stress-related hormone cortisol in their saliva develop fewer allergies than other infants. Hopefully this new knowledge will be useful in future allergy prevention.
The study is published in the December paper issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The incidence of allergies in children has increased over the past few decades, especially in the West. In Sweden, 30 to 40 percent of children have some kind of allergy. A combination of environmental and lifestyle factors during pregnancy and early infancy are thought to be responsible for the sharp rise in allergic diseases. Keep on reading...
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
NASA plans to harpoon a comet.
(PhysOrg.com) -- The best way to grab a sample of a rotating comet that is racing through the inner solar system at up to 150,000 miles per hour while spewing chunks of ice, rock and dust may be to avoid the risky business of landing on it. Instead, researchers want to send a spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, then fire a harpoon to rapidly acquire samples from specific locations with surgical precision while hovering above the target. Using this "standoff" technique would allow samples to be collected even from areas that are much too rugged or dangerous to permit the landing and safe operation of a spacecraft.
ScienceDaily — Elephants have long been known to be part of the Homo erectus diet. But the significance of this specific food source, in relation to both the survival of Homo erectus and the evolution of modern humans, has never been understood -- until now.
When Tel Aviv University researchers Dr. Ran Barkai, Miki Ben-Dor, and Prof. Avi Gopher of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies examined the published data describing animal bones associated with Homo erectus at the Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov in Israel, they found that elephant bones made up only two to three percent the total. But these low numbers are misleading, they say. While the six-ton animal may have only been represented by a tiny percentage of bones at the site, it actually provided as much as 60 percent of animal-sourced calories.
The elephant, a huge package of food that is easy to hunt, disappeared from the Middle East 400,000 years ago -- an event that must have imposed considerable nutritional stress on Homo erectus. Working with Prof. Israel Hershkovitz of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, the researchers connected this evidence about diet with other cultural and anatomical clues and concluded that the new hominids recently discovered at Qesem Cave in Israel -- who had to be more agile and knowledgeable to satisfy their dietary needs with smaller and faster prey -- took over the Middle Eastern landscape and eventually replaced Homo erectus.
The findings, which have been reported in the journal PLoS One, suggest that the disappearance of elephants 400,000 years ago was the reason that modern humans first appeared in the Middle East. In Africa, elephants disappeared from archaeological sites and Homo sapiens emerged much later -- only 200,000 years ago.
Monday, December 12, 2011
A new vaccine dramatically reduces breast cancer in mice. Hope for a cure!
(Medical Press)- Researchers from the University of Georgia and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona have developed a vaccine that dramatically reduces tumors in a mouse model that mimics 90 percent of human breast and pancreatic cancer cases—including those that are resistant to common treatments.
The vaccine, described this week in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals a promising new strategy for treating cancers that share the same distinct carbohydrate signature, including ovarian and colorectal cancers.
"This vaccine elicits a very strong immune response," said study co-senior author Geert-Jan Boons, Franklin Professor of Chemistry and a researcher in the UGA Cancer Center and its Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. "It activates all three components of the immune system to reduce tumor size by an average of 80 percent."
When cells become cancerous, the sugars on their surface proteins undergo distinct changes that set them apart from healthy cells. For decades, scientists have tried to enable the immune system to recognize those differences to destroy cancer cells rather than normal cells. But since cancer cells originate within the body, the immune system generally doesn't recognize them as foreign and therefore doesn't mount an attack.
The researchers used unique mice developed by Sandra Gendler, Grohne Professor of Therapeutics for Cancer Research at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and co-senior author on the study. Like humans, the mice develop tumors that overexpress a protein known as MUC1 on the surface of their cells. The tumor-associated MUC1 protein is adorned with a dist
inctive, shorter, set of carbohydrates that set it apart from healthy cells.
Scientists to attempt to clone prehistoric animal.
Credit: Jeff Masek
Satellite data reveals mote shrubs and grasses in northern Quebec, Canada.
ScienceDaily — Scientists have used satellite data from NASA-built Landsat missions to confirm that more than 20 years of warming temperatures in northern Quebec, Canada, have resulted in an increase in the amount and extent of shrubs and grasses.
"For the first time, we've been able to map this change in detail, and it's because of the spatial resolution and length-of-record that you can get with Landsat," says Jeff Masek, the program's project scientist. He's based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Masek and his co-authors will present their study at the American Geophysical Meeting in San Francisco on Dec. 9.
The study, focusing on Quebec, is one of the first to present a detailed view of how warmer temperatures are influencing plant distribution and density in northern areas of North America.
"Unlike the decline of sea ice, which is a dramatic effect that we're seeing as a result of global warming, the changes in vegetation have been subtle," Masek says.
Computer models predict the northward expansion of vegetation due to warmer temperatures. "They predict a dramatic change over the next 100 years, and people have been wondering why we weren't seeing these changes already, Masek says.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
An intermittent, low-carbohydrate diet is better at controlling weight and insulin than a standard diet.
ScienceDaily — An intermittent, low-carbohydrate diet was superior to a standard, daily calorie-restricted diet for reducing weight and lowering blood levels of insulin, a cancer-promoting hormone, according to recent findings.
Researchers at Genesis Prevention Center at University Hospital in South Manchester, England, found that restricting carbohydrates two days per week may be a better dietary approach than a standard, daily calorie-restricted diet for preventing breast cancer and other diseases, but they said further study is needed.
"Weight loss and reduced insulin levels are required for breast cancer prevention, but [these levels] are difficult to achieve and maintain with conventional dietary approaches," said Michelle Harvie, Ph.D., SRD, a research dietician at the Genesis Prevention Center, who presented the findings at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held Dec. 6-10, 2011.
Men set new record powering car with COKE and MENTOS. Boys will play! (video)
Saturday, December 10, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- The primary objective of NASA’s Kepler satellite, which was launched in March 2009 to orbit the Sun, is to search for Earth-like planets in a portion of the Milky Way galaxy. But now a team of physicists has proposed that Kepler could have a second appealing purpose: to either detect or rule out primordial black holes (PBHs) of a certain mass range as the primary constituent of dark matter.
The scientists, Kim Griest and Agnieszka Cieplak of the University of California, San Diego; Bhuvnesh Jain of the University of Pennsylvania; and Matthew Lehner of the University of Pennsylvania and Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan, have published their study on using the Kepler satellite to detect PBH dark matter in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.
“The nature of the dark matter is one of the biggest unsolved problems in all of science and so an answer would be extraordinary,” Griest told PhysOrg.com. “If it turns out to be primordial black holes, that will be totally fascinating and everyone will want to understand what happened in the early universe to create them. If nothing is found, then we eliminate much of a major contender, but it is not as exciting.”
As the scientists explain, PBHs have been considered as a candidate for dark matter since the 1970s. These black holes are thought to have formed during the early universe from density perturbations that may have resulted from a variety of factors, such as inflation, phase transitions, and possibly even the collapse of string loops. Because there is no single theory for how PBHs formed, scientists don’t know how massive they would be. However, previous experimental and theoretical work has eliminated most PBH masses, including almost the entire mass range from 10-18 to 1016 solar masses, the exception being the mass range between 10-13 and 10-7 solar masses. Scientists call these 5 orders of magnitude the “PBH dark matter window.” Keep on reading...
Image courtesy of American Chemical Society
Stinky frogs skin secrete over 700 of gem-killing substances.
Stinky frogs skin secrete over 700 of gem-killing substances.
ScienceDaily — Some of the nastiest smelling creatures on Earth have skin that produces the greatest known variety of anti-bacterial substances that hold promise for becoming new weapons in the battle against antibiotic-resistant infections, scientists are reporting. Their research on amphibians so smelly (like rotten fish, for instance) that scientists term them "odorous frogs" appears in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.
Yun Zhang, Wen-Hui Lee and Xinwang Yang explain that scientists long have recognized frogs' skin as a rich potential source of new antibiotics. Frogs live in warm, wet places where bacteria thrive and have adapted skin that secretes chemicals, known as peptides, to protect themselves from infections. Zhang's group wanted to identify the specific antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), and the most potent to give scientists clues for developing new antibiotics.
They identified more than 700 of these substances from nine species of odorous frogs and concluded that the AMPs account for almost one-third of all AMPs found in the world, the greatest known diversity of these germ-killing chemicals... Read more here.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Upper atmosphere lightening sprites are captured on 3D video for the first time.
(PHYSORG)- In the language of those studying the phenomenon, sprites are the part of the lightening that resemble jellyfish and travel downwards after starting out as a ball shape. Elves are the halos that create the eerie effects. Both are reddish in color and last for something like 10 milliseconds.
The video was captured by a research team funded by the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation. Two jets flying over parts of the south-west United States this past summer, with cameras aboard, were used for filming to create the 3D effect and the results were presented at the American Geophysical Union Conference last week.
2000-Year-Old Mayan Skeleton Discovered
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Neuroscientists boost memory in mice.
ScienceDaily— When the activity of a molecule that is normally elevated during viral infections is inhibited in the brain, mice learn and remember better, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reported in a recent article in the journal Cell.
"The molecule PKR (the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase) was originally described as a sensor of viral infections, but its function in the brain was totally unknown," said Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli, assistant professor of neuroscience at BCM and senior author of the paper. Since the activity of PKR is altered in a variety of cognitive disorders, Costa-Mattioli and colleagues decided to take a closer look at its role in the mammalian brain.
The authors discovered that mice lacking PKR in the brain have a kind of "super" memory. "We found that when we genetically inhibit PKR, we increased the excitability of brain cells and enhanced learning and memory, in a variety of behavioral tests," he said. For instance, when the authors assessed spatial memory (the memory for people, places and events) through a test in which mice use visual cues for finding a hidden platform in a circular pool, they found that normal mice had to repeat the task multiple times over many days in order to remember the platform's location. By contrast, mice lacking PKR learned the task after only one training session.
NASA's Mars Opportunity rover prepares for a 5th winter on Mars.
NASA's lone surviving Mars rover has been busy exploring its surroundings since it rolled up to its latest crater destination four months ago. Now the solar-powered, six-wheel Opportunity is in search of a place to hunker down for the winter.
The robot geologist has been scouting out sites along the crater rim that not only have interesting rocks to examine but also ample sunshine. The hardy rover survived four previous Martian winters. Scientists expect no different and even drew up a to-do list.
Opportunity will "keep active all winter long," said Bruce Banerdt, rover project scientist at NASA headquarters.
Among its chores: studying bedrock and soil at its chosen winter site. While Opportunity can drive short distances from one outcrop to another, it can't venture far in the cold.
It's a bittersweet juncture for Opportunity, which along with its twin, Spirit, landed on opposite sides of the red planet in January 2004. Both operated beyond their original three-month mission and found geologic evidence that Mars was warmer and wetter than it is today.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Here is what scientists say:
Head NRL group scientist Russ Howard and lead ground systems engineer Nathan Rich say the mysterious object is in fact Mercury itself. And what we're seeing in the footage is the equivalent of Mercury's wake, "where the planet was on the previous day," as it travels through the solar system on its natural gravitational path:
Credit: Diane Scott
A group of ancient, agile predators called varanopids were huge evolutionary successes.
ScienceDaily — A species of ancient predator with saw-like teeth, sleek bodies and a voracious appetite for meat survived a major extinction at a time when the distant relatives of mammals ruled Earth.
A detailed description of a fossil that scientists identify as a varanopid "pelycosaur" is published in the December issue of Naturwissenschaften -- The Science of Nature. Professors Sean Modesto from Cape Breton University, and Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto Mississauga, provide evidence that a group of ancient, agile predators called varanopids survived for more than 35 million years, and co-existed with more advanced animals.
Modesto and the team performed a detailed examination of the partial skull and jaw of the youngest known primitive mammal-like animal, which they believe lived over 260 million years ago in the Permian Period. The fossils are from rocks forming the Pristerognathus Assemblage Zone of the Beaufort Group in South Africa.
"These animals were the most agile predators of their time, sleek-looking when compared to their contemporaries," says Reisz. "They seem to have survived a major change in the terrestrial fauna that occurred during the Middle Permian, a poorly understood extinction event in the history of life on land."
According to Modesto, "These ancient animals really looked like modern goannas or monitor lizards, but are actually more closely related to mammals." Keep on reading...
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Voyager 1 is now about 11 billion miles from the sun.
(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space. Data obtained from Voyager over the last year reveal this new region to be a kind of cosmic purgatory. In it, the wind of charged particles streaming out from our sun has calmed, our solar system's magnetic field has piled up, and higher-energy particles from inside our solar system appear to be leaking out into interstellar space.
"Voyager tells us now that we're in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. We shouldn't have long to wait to find out what the space between stars is really like."
Although Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, it is not yet in interstellar space. In the latest data, the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, indicating Voyager is still within the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. The data do not reveal exactly when Voyager 1 will make it past the edge of the solar atmosphere into interstellar space, but suggest it will be in a few months to a few years.
The latest findings, described today at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco, come from Voyager's Low Energy Charged Particle instrument, Cosmic Ray Subsystem and Magnetometer.
Scientists previously reported the outward speed of the solar wind had diminished to zero in April 2010, marking the start of the new region. Mission managers rolled the spacecraft several times this spring and summer to help scientists discern whether the solar wind was blowing strongly in another direction. It was not. Voyager 1 is plying the celestial seas in a region similar to Earth's doldrums, where there is very little wind.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Ladder Climbing Android From The Shanghai Expo #DigInfo
ScienceDaily — Age-old remedies could hold the key to treating a wide range of serious medical problems, as well as keeping skin firmer and less wrinkled, according to scientists from London's Kingston University. A collaboration between the university and British beauty brand Neal's Yard Remedies has seen experts discover that white tea, witch hazel and the simple rose hold potential health and beauty properties which could be simply too good to ignore.
The research suggests a number of naturally-occurring substances may offer the hope of new treatments to block the progression of inflammation. It is credited with a major role in both the initiation and development of diseases ranging from cancer, diabetes and arthritis through to neuro-degenerative conditions and cardiovascular and pulmonary problems.
"For thousands of years people used natural remedies to try -- and sometimes succeed -- in curing their ailments and preserving their youth," Professor Declan Naughton, from the University's School of Life Sciences, said. "Now the latest research we have carried out suggests a number of naturally-occurring substances may offer the hope of new treatments to block the progression of inflammation."
Inflammation is credited with a major role in both the initiation and development of diseases ranging from cancer, diabetes and arthritis through to neuro-degenerative conditions and cardiovascular and pulmonary problems. It is also implicated in premature aging and early death. "Inflammation is a secret killer -- helping arrest its development, or being able to stop it happening at all, would clearly be of benefit," Professor Naughton explained.
The new study builds on work undertaken by Professor Naughton and Kingston University PhD student Tamsyn Thring, along with the technical team from Neal's Yard. They tested 21 plant extracts for evidence of their efficiency in fighting cancer and also in the battle against aging. Of the 21 extracts, three -- white tea, witch hazel and rose -- showed considerable potential, with white tea displaying the most marked results. Read more here...
Sunday, December 4, 2011
The 2012 Porsche Cayman R does 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and it's street legal.
DAMASCUS, MD. (MarketWatch) — The barebones Porsche Cayman was already a pretty fast car, but German engineers like to tinker with things.
Hence the Cayman R for 2012 — a street-legal version of Porsche’s Cayman racing entry — and more changes coming in 2013, when, according to Road & Track, the headlights and taillights will be repositioned and there may be increased power in the form of a new engine.
One easy way to get more out of the current design is weight reduction, and Porsche’s engineers have increased performance by removing the air conditioning, sound system and just abut anything else that could be taken out without hurting performance. That makes the R model about 121 pounds lighter than the standard Cayman.
And that means the 3.4 liter, 330-horse inline six that powers the Cayman R is good for zero to 60 in a 4-second range.
Can quantum vacuum explain dark matter?
(PhysOrg.com) -- Earlier this year, PhysOrg reported on a new idea that suggested that gravitational charges in the quantum vacuum could provide an alternative to dark matter. The idea rests on the hypothesis that particles and antiparticles have gravitational charges of opposite sign. As a consequence, virtual particle-antiparticle pairs in the quantum vacuum form gravitational dipoles (having both a positive and negative gravitational charge) that can interact with baryonic matter to produce phenomena usually attributed to dark matter. Although CERN physicist Dragan Slavkov Hajdukovic, who proposed the idea, mathematically demonstrated that these gravitational dipoles could explain the observed rotational curves of galaxies without dark matter in his initial study, he noted that much more work needed to be done.
Now with a new analysis, Hajdukovic has taken another step toward demonstrating the credibility of this idea by showing that the gravitational polarization of the quantum vacuum can explain four cosmological observations, only some of which can be explained by dark matter models or theories of modified gravity. In his paper, which was recently published in Astrophysics and Space Science, he starts off with some background information. Keep on reading...
Scientists plan to use bone marrow from from a mammoth that died 23,000 years ago and egg cells from an elephant to clone a mammoth within five years.
Biologists are saying they may be able to clone a woolly mammoth from bone marrow extracted from a well preserved thigh bone recovered from permafrost soil in Siberia. The thigh bone found in August came from a mammoth that died 23,000 years ago.
A Team of Russian scientists from Sakha Republic mammoth museum and Japan's Kinki University have decided to do joint research on the possibility of bringing the giant ice age mammal back to life. The scientists will be using modern nuclei transplant techniques in their project. Mammoths, according to experts, have been extinct for 5,000-10,000 years.
According to Daily Mail, the scientists plan to replace the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with nuclei material taken from the marrow cells of the mammoth thigh bone. The scientists believe that with this procedure, they might be able to produce embryos with mammoth DNA which may be implanted into a female elephant for gestation. AFP reports scientists expect the procedure to succeed because elephants and mammoths are closely related species.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
These target robots are so clever they even scatter for cover.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2069158/Wheeled-target-robots-delivered-U-S-Army-clever-scatter-cover.html#ixzz1fWMwGm5u
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2069158/Wheeled-target-robots-delivered-U-S-Army-clever-scatter-cover.html#ixzz1fWMwGm5u
Credit: NASA GISS
A new study by Oregon State University researcher Andreas Schmittner and colleagues has found the climate may be much less sensitive to CO2 forced global warming than previously thought.
Abstract via Science:
Assessing impacts of future anthropogenic carbon emissions is currently impeded by uncertainties in our knowledge of equilibrium climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide doubling. Previous studies suggest 3 K as best estimate, 2 to 4.5 K as the 66% probability range, and nonzero probabilities for much higher values, the latter implying a small but significant chance of high-impact climate changes that would be difficult to avoid. Here, combining extensive sea and land surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum with climate model simulations, we estimate a lower median (2.3 K) and reduced uncertainty (1.7 to 2.6 K 66% probability). Assuming paleoclimatic constraints apply to the future as predicted by our model, these results imply lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Credit: Indiana University School of Medicine
Study finds violent video games alters brain function.
ScienceDaily — Sustained changes in the region of the brain associated with cognitive function and emotional control were found in young adult men after one week of playing violent video games, according to study results presented by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
This is the first time the IU researchers, who have studied the effects of media violence for more than a decade, have conducted an experimental study that showed a direct relationship between playing violent video games over an extended period of time and a subsequent change in brain regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control.
The controversy over whether or not violent video games are potentially harmful to players has been debated for many years, even making it as far as the Supreme Court in 2010. There has been little scientific evidence demonstrating that the games have a prolonged negative neurological effect.
"For the first time, we have found that a sample of randomly assigned young adults showed less activation in certain frontal brain regions following a week of playing violent video games at home," said Yang Wang, M.D., assistant research professor in the IU Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. "The affected brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior."
This soon-to-be famous boar was born in China's eastern Anhui Province. He is an inspiration.
Solar power may be getting cheaper by using a new capture method developed by MIT.
Now, researchers at MIT have found a way to use thermophotovoltaic devices without mirrors to concentrate the sunlight, potentially making the system much simpler and less expensive. The key is to prevent the heat from escaping the thermoelectric material, something the MIT team achieved by using a photonic crystal: essentially, an array of precisely spaced microscopic holes in a top layer of the material.
The approach mimics Earth’s greenhouse effect: Infrared radiation from the sun can enter the chip through the holes on the surface, but the reflected rays are blocked when they try to escape. This blockage is achieved by a precisely designed geometry that only allows rays that fall within a very tiny range of angles to escape, while the rest stay in the material and heat it up.
The new device was described in a paper by Research Laboratory of Electronics research scientist Peter Bermel and other MIT researchers, published in October in the journal Nanoscale Research Letters.
Bermel explains that if you put an ordinary, dark-colored, light- and heat-absorbing material in direct sunlight, “it can’t get much hotter than boiling water,” because the object will reradiate heat almost as fast as it absorbs it. But to generate power efficiently, you need much higher temperatures than that. By concentrating sunlight with parabolic mirrors or a large array of flat mirrors, it’s possible to get much higher temperatures — but at the expense of a much larger and more complex system.
“What I’m looking at is an alternative to that paradigm,” Bermel says, by “concentrating the sunlight thermally”: capturing it and reflecting it back into the material. The result, he says, is that the device can absorb as much heat as a standard black object, but “in practice, we can get it extremely hot, and not reradiate much of that heat.”
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Multiple quadrocopters do a synchronized dance.
Fast, safe transitions of multiple quadrocopters are often required in the Flying Machine Arena. In this video, we use an algorithm based on convex optimization to plan collision-free trajectories.
Archaeologists follow "trail of stone breadcrumbs" left by early humans migrating across the Red Sea on their journey out of Africa
Archaeologists try to track the earliest modern human migration from Africa.
ScienceDaily (Nov. 30, 2011) — A series of new archaeological discoveries in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, reveals the timing and identity of one of the first modern human groups to migrate out of Africa, according to a research article published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.
An international team of archaeologists and geologists working in the Dhofar Mountains of southern Oman, led by Dr. Jeffrey Rose of the University of Birmingham, report finding over 100 new sites classified as "Nubian Middle Stone Age (MSA)." Distinctive Nubian MSA stone tools are well known throughout the Nile Valley; however, this is the first time such sites have ever been found outside of Africa. According to the authors, the evidence from Oman provides a "trail of stone breadcrumbs" left by early humans migrating across the Red Sea on their journey out of Africa. "After a decade of searching in southern Arabia for some clue that might help us understand early human expansion, at long last we've found the smoking gun of their exit from Africa," says Rose. "What makes this so exciting," he adds, "is that the answer is a scenario almost never considered." These new findings challenge long-held assumptions about the timing and route of early human expansion out of Africa.
Using a technique called Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) to date one of the sites in Oman, researchers have determined that Nubian MSA toolmakers had entered Arabia by 106,000 years ago, if not earlier. This date is considerably older than geneticists have put forth for the modern human exodus from Africa, who estimate the dispersal of our species occurred between 70,000 and 40,000 years ago. Even more surprising, all of the Nubian MSA sites were found far inland, contrary to the currently accepted theory that envisions early human groups moving along the coast of southern Arabia. "Here we have an example of the disconnect between theoretical models versus real evidence on the ground," says co-author Professor Emeritus Anthony Marks of Southern Methodist University. "The coastal expansion hypothesis looks reasonable on paper, but there is simply no archaeological evidence to back it up.
Is this the future of urban driving?
A foldable robot scooter controlled by a smart phone wowed visitors to the Tokyo Motor Show on Thursday as its makers unveiled what they hope will be the future of urban driving.
The Kobot is a three-wheel scooter with just one seat that can can be packed away after use in a space of around one square metre (10 square feet).
With a target speed of 30 kilometres (18 miles) per hour, makers Kowa Tmsuk hope the electrically-powered vehicle will be perfect for navigating crowded city streets, without adding to air pollution.
"This is a robot you can ride," said Yoichi Takamoto, the president of Tmsuk, one half of the joint venture and a company that has previously developed robots designed for medical care and disaster rescue operations.
The driver uses a smart phone to remotely tell the Kobot to fold its rear wheel and seat onto the main body of the vehicle when not in use, something designers say is ideal for cities like Tokyo where parking space is at a premium.
Kowa Tmsuk president Yoshito Serita said his company was aiming to have the vehicles ready for the market by next autumn.