This video is an interesting perspective on the Earth's rotation.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
There was a period of global cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period. It wasn't a true ice age, but it may have been enough to run the Vikings out of Greenland.
The end of the Norse settlements on Greenland likely will remain shrouded in mystery. While there is scant written evidence of the colony's demise in the 14th and early 15th centuries, archaeological remains can fill some of the blanks, but not all.
What climate scientists have been able to ascertain is that an extended cold snap, called the Little Ice Age, gripped Greenland beginning in the 1400s. This has been cited as a major cause of the Norse's disappearance. Now researchers led by Brown University show the climate turned colder in an earlier span of several decades, setting in motion the end of the Greenland Norse. Their findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Brown scientists' finding comes from the first reconstruction of 5,600 years of climate history from two lakes in Kangerlussuaq, near the Norse "Western Settlement." Unlike ice cores taken from the Greenland ice sheet hundreds of miles inland, the new lake core measurements reflect air temperatures where the Vikings lived, as well as those experienced by the Saqqaq and the Dorset, Stone Age cultures that preceded them.
"This is the first quantitative temperature record from the area they were living in," said William D'Andrea, the paper's first author, who earned his doctorate in geological sciences at Brown and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. "So we can say there is a definite cooling trend in the region right before the Norse disappear."
"The record shows how quickly temperature changed in the region and by how much," said co-author Yongsong Huang, professor of geological sciences at Brown, principal investigator of the NSF-funded project, and D'Andrea's Ph.D. adviser. "It is interesting to consider how rapid climate change may have impacted past societies, particularly in light of the rapid changes taking place today."
Monday, May 30, 2011
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Toledo
Crystals have been observed in a cloud of gas in the Orion Constellation by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
(May 27, 2011) — Tiny crystals of a green mineral called olivine are falling down like rain on a burgeoning star, according to observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
This is the first time such crystals have been observed in the dusty clouds of gas that collapse around forming stars. Astronomers are still debating how the crystals got there, but the most likely culprits are jets of gas blasting away from the embryonic star.
"You need temperatures as hot as lava to make these crystals," said Tom Megeath of the University of Toledo in Ohio. He is the principal investigator of the research and the second author of a new study appearing in Astrophysical Journal Letters. "We propose that the crystals were cooked up near the surface of the forming star, then carried up into the surrounding cloud where temperatures are much colder, and ultimately fell down again like glitter."
Spitzer's infrared detectors spotted the crystal rain around a distant, sun-like embryonic star, or protostar, referred to as HOPS-68, in the constellation Orion.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
When looking at the point of character collision, they two characters bounce off one another. When viewing with peripheral vision, they seem to pass through each other.
When watching the video above, focus on the spot where Harry and Dobby meet during the collision. What do you see? The two figures should appear to bounce off each other and return their separate ways. Now take a look at the scene again, this time while looking at something just above the video but keeping the characters in your peripheral vision. This time, Harry and Dobby should appear to pass through each other, even though they are actually bouncing.
NYC Mayor Bloomberg is insinuating that possibility.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: If you ask the public ‘is there global warming,’ is in ’50 years the earth going to be dramatically different or perhaps uninhabitable,‘ their eyes roll. Nobody can think 50 years in advance.Before you panic at Mayor Bloomberg's words, please review the charts posted below. Sea level is rising at a mean of 3.1 mm per year for the last 15 years. Extrapolated for 50 years, that equates to a sea level rise of a little over 6 inches. That is troubling for beach erosion, but hardly reason to start building an Ark. As you can see from the bottom 15 year temperature chart, global warming seems to have stalled out in the last 10 years. The climate models used to predict anthropogenic global warming have the temperature continuing to at an exponential rate due to the effect of man-made greenhouse gases. That clearly isn't happening at the moment.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Your job is not to ask the public where they want to go and get behind them. Your job is to tell the public and convince the public where they should go, and lead from the front.
The Mayors of these cities are not asking the public whether they are willing to spend to live healthier lives and live longer. They are there to explain to the public that if they don’t spend that money they’re not going to live as long and not going to be as healthy. And then convince them to come along, reach into their pockets, pay their taxes, change their policies.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
(PHYSORG)- The anchor is 11 feet long and weighs 3000 pounds.
Archaeologists recovered the first anchor from what's believed to be the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard's flagship off the North Carolina coast Friday, a move that might change plans about how to save the rest of the almost 300-year-old artifacts from the central part of the ship.
Divers had planned to recover the second-largest artifact on what's believed to be the Queen Anne's Revenge but discovered it was too well-attached to other items in the ballast pile, said project Mark Wilde-Ramsing. Instead they pulled up another anchor that is the third-largest artifact and likely was the typical anchor for the ship.
Apparently, pirates had everyday anchors and special anchors just as the rest of us have everyday dishes and good china.
"That's a big ship to be putting that out to stop it," Wilde-Ramsing said admiringly as a pulley system of straps and men holding ropes moved the anchor from a boat to the back of truck. It's the first large anchor that divers have retrieved; they earlier brought up a small, grapnel anchor.
The anchor is 11 feet, 4 inches long with arms that are 7 feet, 7 inches across. It was covered with concretion - a mixture of shells, sand and other debris attracted by the leaching wrought iron - and a few sea squirts. Its weight was estimated at 2,500 to 3,000 pounds.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Astrocyte, the most common brain cell, can now be grown in the lab. This offers hope for new treatments for disease.
The most common brain cell, called the astrocyte, is often overlooked in the face of its cousin, the neuron. Researchers are finally realizing their importance and have, for the first time, been able to grow them in the lab.
"Not a lot of attention has been paid to these cells because human astrocytes have been hard to get," study researcher Su-Chun Zhang, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "But we can make billions or trillions of them from a single stem cell."
Astrocytes are small, star-shaped cells in the brain that act like the neuron's bodyguards, and because of that they play an important role in diseases of the central nervous system, including dementia. They are more common than neurons but have been hard to grow in the lab. Being able to study them could help researchers understand their role in normal brain functioning, and help find new treatments for disease.
NASA to Launch New Science Mission to Asteroid in 2016and bring back a sample.
(NASA) - NASA to Launch New Science Mission to Asteroid in 2016
NASA will launch a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016 and use a robotic arm to pluck samples that could better explain our solar system's formation and how life began. The mission, called Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth.
"This is a critical step in meeting the objectives outlined by President Obama to extend our reach beyond low-Earth orbit and explore into deep space," said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. "It’s robotic missions like these that will pave the way for future human space missions to an asteroid and other deep space destinations."
NASA selected OSIRIS-REx after reviewing three concept study reports for new scientific missions, which also included a sample return mission from the far side of the Moon and a mission to the surface of Venus.
Asteroids are leftovers formed from the cloud of gas and dust -- the solar nebula -- that collapsed to form our sun and the planets about 4.5 billion years ago. As such, they contain the original material from the solar nebula, which can tell us about the conditions of our solar system's birth.
After traveling four years, OSIRIS-REx will approach the primitive, near Earth asteroid designated 1999 RQ36 in 2020. Once within three miles of the asteroid, the spacecraft will begin six months of comprehensive surface mapping. The science team then will pick a location from where the spacecraft's arm will take a sample. The spacecraft gradually will move closer to the site, and the arm will extend to collect more than two ounces of material for return to Earth in 2023. The mission, excluding the launch vehicle, is expected to cost approximately $800 million.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
See dark matter in 3D. (video)
New Haven, Conn. — Paleontologists have discovered that a group of remarkable ancient sea creatures existed for much longer and grew to much larger sizes than previously thought, thanks to extraordinarily well-preserved fossils discovered in Morocco.
The creatures, known as anomalocaridids, were already thought to be the largest animals of the Cambrian period, known for the "Cambrian Explosion" that saw the sudden appearance of all the major animal groups and the establishment of complex ecosystems about 540 to 500 million years ago. Fossils from this period suggested these marine predators grew to be about two feet long. Until now, scientists also thought these strange invertebrates-which had long spiny head limbs presumably used to snag worms and other prey, and a circlet of plates around the mouth-died out at the end of the Cambrian.
57% say they won't buy an electric car no matter what price gas rises too.
(USA Today) — Nearly six of 10 Americans — 57% — say they won’t buy an all-electric car no matter the price of gas, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
That’s a stiff headwind just as automakers are developing electrics to help meet tighter federal rules that could require their fleets to average as high as 62 miles per gallon in 2025. And President Obama has set a goal of a million electric vehicles in use in the U.S. by 2015.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Mummies suffered from same water-borne parasitic disease that infects an estimated 200 million people today
Schistosomiasis plagued ancient man as well as modern man.
ScienceDaily (May 23, 2011) — Mummies from along the Nile are revealing how age-old irrigation techniques may have boosted the plague of schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic disease that infects an estimated 200 million people today.
An analysis of the mummies from Nubia, a former kingdom that was located in present-day Sudan, provides details for the first time about the prevalence of the disease across populations in ancient times, and how human alteration of the environment during that era may have contributed to its spread.
The American Journal of Physical Anthropology is publishing the study, led by Emory graduate student Amber Campbell Hibbs, who recently received her PhD in anthropology. About 25 percent of mummies in the study dated to about 1,500 years ago were found to have Schistosoma mansoni, a species of schistosomiasis associated with more modern-day irrigation techniques.
"Often in the case of prehistoric populations, we tend to assume that they were at the mercy of the environment, and that their circumstances were a given," says Campbell Hibbs. "Our study suggests that, just like people today, these ancient individuals were capable of altering the environment in ways that impacted their health."
Monday, May 23, 2011
Here is the winner.
A dazzling green aurora frames the arc of the Milky Way over Jökulsárlón, the largest glacier lake in Iceland, on March 10. The picture is a first-prize winner in the Second International Earth and Sky Photo Contest's "Beauty of the Night Sky" category.
Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)
The particle jets of the black hole are very easy to see in this image.
(PhysOrg.com) -- An international team, including NASA-funded researchers, using radio telescopes located throughout the Southern Hemisphere has produced the most detailed image of particle jets erupting from a supermassive black hole in a nearby galaxy.
"These jets arise as infalling matter approaches the black hole, but we don't yet know the details of how they form and maintain themselves," said Cornelia Mueller, the study's lead author and a doctoral student at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.
The new image shows a region less than 4.2 light-years across -- less than the distance between our sun and the nearest star. Radio-emitting features as small as 15 light-days can be seen, making this the highest-resolution view of galactic jets ever made. The study will appear in the June issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is available online.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
This device helps safely tap outside power lines just like Batman.
Power Harvesting, video
Power Harvesting, video
Remains from 100 bodies have been found. Many appears to have been clubbed to death.
(BBC News)- Fractured human remains found on a German river bank could provide the first compelling evidence of a major Bronze Age battle.
Archaeological excavations of the Tollense Valley in northern Germany unearthed fractured skulls, wooden clubs and horse remains dating from around 1200 BC.
The injuries to the skulls suggest face-to-face combat in a battle perhaps fought between warring tribes, say the researchers.
The paper, published in the journal Antiquity, is based primarily on an investigation begun in 2008 of the Tollense Valley site, which involved both ground excavations and surveys of the riverbed by divers.
They found remains of around 100 human bodies, of which eight had lesions to their bones. Most of the bodies, but not all, appeared to be young men.
The injuries included skull damage caused by massive blows or arrowheads, and some of the injuries appear to have been fatal.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Don't completely trust your GPS.
A little over a week ago, a woman was rescued on the verge of death after being stranded for nearly two months on muddy back roads in the northeastern part of the state. Her husband, who walked off looking for help, is still missing. The most baffling part of the story: The couple had a GPS device. And they were following its directions when they got lost.
It's not the first time that blind faith in a GPS has led people astray and into big trouble. And given the growing influence of computer technology on our lives, experts say, it's not that surprising. As we become ever more reliant on digital devices, the relationship between humankind and the wilderness is rapidly shifting.
Credit: Rob Summers
The hope paraplegics can walk just got a litte more realistic.
ScienceDaily (May 20, 2011) — A team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of Louisville have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. The electrical signals provided by the array, the researchers have found, stimulate the spinal cord's own neural network so that it can use the sensory input derived from the legs to direct muscle and joint movements.
Rather than bypassing the man's nervous system to directly stimulate the leg muscles, this approach takes advantage of the inherent control circuitry in the lower spinal cord (below the level of the injury) to control standing and stepping motions.
The study is published May 19 in the British medical journal The Lancet.
More than 5.6 million Americans live with some form of paralysis; of these, 1.3 million have had spinal-cord injuries, often resulting in complete paralysis of the lower extremities, along with loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual response, and other autonomous functions.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The Fukushima reactor meltdown created higher ocen radioactivity than Chernobyl.
(PHYSORG)- Among the casualties of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan was the country's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A result of the loss of electricity, overheating at the power plant led to significant releases of iodine, cesium and other radioisotopes to the environment.
"When it comes to the oceans, however," says Buesseler, "the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl."
"Levels of some radionuclides are at least an order of magnitude higher than the highest levels in 1986 in the Baltic and Black Seas, the two ocean water bodies closest to Chernobyl," says Buesseler.
Many planets are thought to be ejected from solar systems. Now, they have been confirmed.
ScienceDaily (May 18, 2011) — Astronomers, including a NASA-funded team member, have discovered a new class of Jupiter-sized planets floating alone in the dark of space, away from the light of a star. The team believes these lone worlds were probably ejected from developing planetary systems.
The discovery is based on a joint Japan-New Zealand survey that scanned the center of the Milky Way galaxy during 2006 and 2007, revealing evidence for up to 10 free-floating planets roughly the mass of Jupiter. The isolated orbs, also known as orphan planets, are difficult to spot, and had gone undetected until now. The newfound planets are located at an average approximate distance of 10,000 to 20,000 light-years from Earth.
"Although free-floating planets have been predicted, they finally have been detected, holding major implications for planetary formation and evolution models," said Mario Perez, exoplanet program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The surprising answer is yes.
ScienceDaily (May 17, 2011) — For the first time, researchers at McMaster University have conclusive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behavior.
The findings are important because several common types of gastrointestinal disease, including irritable bowel syndrome, are frequently associated with anxiety or depression. In addition there has been speculation that some psychiatric disorders, such as late onset autism, may be associated with an abnormal bacterial content in the gut.
"The exciting results provide stimulus for further investigating a microbial component to the causation of behavioural illnesses," said Stephen Collins, professor of medicine and associate dean research, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Collins and Premysl Bercik, assistant professor of medicine, undertook the research in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.
The research appears in the online edition of the journal Gastroenterology.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Here is another reason to enjoy that morning cup of coffee.
Men who regularly drink coffee appear to have a lower risk of developing a lethal form of prostate cancer, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. What's more, the lower risk was evident among men who drank either regular or decaffeinated coffee.
The study will be published May 17, 2011, in an online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute....
Among the findings:
- Men who consumed the most coffee (six or more cups daily) had nearly a 20% lower risk of developing any form of prostate cancer.
- The inverse association with coffee was even stronger for aggressive prostate cancer. Men who drank the most coffee had a 60% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer.
- The reduction in risk was seen whether the men drank decaffeinated or regular coffee, and does not appear to be due to caffeine.
- Even drinking one to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.
- Coffee drinkers were more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise, behaviors that may increase advanced prostate cancer risk. These and other lifestyle factors were controlled for in the study and coffee still was associated with a lower risk.
Monday, May 16, 2011
It is in the planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581 (Gliese 581d).
ScienceDaily (May 16, 2011) — The planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581, one of the closest stars to the Sun in the galaxy, has been the subject of several studies aiming to detect the first potentially habitable exoplanet. Two candidates have already been discarded, but a third planet, Gliese 581d, can be considered the first confirmed exoplanet that could support Earth-like life. This is the conclusion of a team of scientists from the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (CNRS, UPMC, ENS Paris, Ecole Polytechnique) in Paris, France, whose study is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Are there other planets inhabited like Earth, or at least habitable? The discovery of the first habitable planet has become a quest for many astrophysicists who look for rocky planets in the "habitable zone" around stars, the range of distances in which planets are neither too cold nor too hot for life to flourish.
In this quest, the red dwarf star Gliese 581 has already received a huge amount of attention. In 2007, scientists reported the detection of two planets orbiting not far from the inner and outer edge of its habitable zone. While the more distant planet, Gliese 581d, was initially judged to be too cold for life, the closer-in planet was thought to be potentially habitable by its discoverers. However, later analysis by atmospheric experts showed that if it had liquid oceans like Earth, they would rapidly evaporate in a 'runaway greenhouse' effect similar to that which gave Venus the hot, inhospitable climate it has today. A new possibility emerged late in 2010, when a team of observers led by Steven Vogt at the University of California, Santa Cruz, announced that they had discovered a new planet, which they dubbed Gliese 581g, or 'Zarmina's World'. This planet, they claimed, had a mass similar to that of Earth and was close to the centre of the habitable zone ... Read more here.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
A new study has found electronic cigarettes may be twice as effective as traditional nicotine replacement therapy.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 8, 2011) — A study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers reports that electronic cigarettes are a promising tool to help smokers quit, producing six-month abstinence rates nearly double those for traditional nicotine replacement products.
In a study published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that 31 percent of respondents reported having quit smoking six months after first purchasing an electronic cigarette, a battery-powered device providing tobacco-less doses of nicotine in a vaporized solution. The average six-month abstinence rate for traditional nicotine replacement products, such as nicotine patches or gum, is between 12 and 18 percent.
"This study suggests that electronic cigarettes are helping thousands of ex-smokers remain off cigarettes," said lead author Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
SETI is suffering from budget problems. One solution is to narrow the search to Earth-like planets.
(PHYSORG)- A massive radio telescope in rural West Virginia has begun listening for signs of alien life on 86 possible Earth-like planets, US astronomers said Friday.
The giant dish began this week pointing toward each of the 86 planets -- culled from a list of 1,235 possible planets identified by NASA's Kepler space telescope -- and will gather 24 hours of data on each one.
"It's not absolutely certain that all of these stars have habitable planetary systems, but they're very good places to look for ET," said University of California at Berkeley graduate student Andrew Siemion.
The mission is part of the SETI project, which stands for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, launched in the mid 1980s.
Friday, May 13, 2011
New Neanderthal remains have been found new the Arctic Circle. They are 8000 years more recent than any other Neanderthal remains. Did Neanderthals go north to avoid humans?
ScienceDaily (May 13, 2011) — Remains found near the Arctic Circle characteristic of Mousterian culture(1) have recently been dated at over 28,500 years old, which is more than 8,000 years after Neanderthals are thought to have disappeared. This unexpected discovery by an international multi-disciplinary team, including researchers from CNRS(2), challenges previous theories. Could Neanderthals have lived longer than thought? Or had Homo sapiens already migrated to Europe at that stage?
The results are published in Science of 13 May 2011.
The distinguishing feature of Mousterian culture, which developed during the Middle Palaeolithic (-300,000 to -33,000 years), is the use of a very wide range of flint tools, mainly by Neanderthal Man in Eurasia, but also by Homo sapiens in the Near East.
This culture is considered to be archaic, and not sufficiently advanced to allow Neanderthals to settle in the most extreme northern climates. It is thought to have brought about their demise some 33,000 to 36,000 years ago. They seem to have made way for modern humans, who appear to have occupied the whole of Eurasia thanks to their mastery of more advanced technologies.
I was going to write something here, but I forgot what is was...
(Medical Press)- older we get, the more difficulty we seem to have remembering things. We reassure ourselves that our brains' "hard drives" are too full to handle the new information that comes in daily. But a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist suggests that our aging brains are unable to process this information as "new" because the brain pathways leading to the hippocampus become degraded over time. As a result, our brains cannot accurately "file" new information.
It's something we just accept: the fact that the older we get, the more difficulty we seem to have remembering things. We can leave our cars in the same parking lot each morning, but unless we park in the same space each and every day, it's a challenge eight hours later to recall whether we left the SUV in the second or fifth row. Or, we can be introduced to new colleagues at a meeting and will have forgotten their names before the handshake is over. We shrug and nervously reassure ourselves that our brains' "hard drives" are just too full to handle the barrage of new information that comes in daily.
According to a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist, however, the real trouble is that our aging brains are unable to process this information as "new" because the brain pathways leading to the hippocampus -- the area of the brain that stores memories -- become degraded over time. As a result, our brains cannot accurately "file" new information (like where we left the car that particular morning), and confusion results.
"Our research uses brain imaging techniques that investigate both the brain's functional and structural integrity to demonstrate that age is associated with a reduction in the hippocampus's ability to do its job, and this is related to the reduced input it is getting from the rest of the brain," said Michael Yassa, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences in Johns Hopkins' Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. "As we get older, we are much more susceptible to 'interference' from older memories than we are when we are younger."
Thursday, May 12, 2011
When you factor in the carbon footprint of bio-fuel production, some bio-fuels actually cause more carbon emissions than fossil fuels.
ScienceDaily (May 11, 2011) — There's a race afoot to give biofuel wings in the aviation industry, part of an effort to combat soaring fuel prices and cut greenhouse gas emissions. In 2008, Virgin Atlantic became the first commercial airline to fly a plane on a blend of biofuel and petroleum. Since then, Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways and Continental Airlines, among others, have flown biofuel test flights, and Lufthansa is racing to be the first carrier to run daily flights on a biofuel blend.
However, researchers at MIT say the industry may want to cool its jets and make sure it has examined biofuels' complete carbon footprint before making an all-out push. They say that when a biofuel's origins are factored in -- for example, taking into account whether the fuel is made from palm oil grown in a clear-cut rainforest -- conventional fossil fuels may sometimes be the "greener" choice.
"What we found was that technologies that look very promising could also result in high emissions, if done improperly," says James Hileman, principal research engineer in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, who has published the results of a study conducted with MIT graduate students Russell Stratton and Hsin Min Wong in the online version of the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "You can't simply say a biofuel is good or bad -- it depends on how it's produced and processed, and that's part of the debate that hasn't been brought forward."
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Thousands of times stronger than DEET...
ScienceDaily (May 10, 2011) — Imagine an insect repellant that not only is thousands of times more effective than DEET -- the active ingredient in most commercial mosquito repellants -- but also works against all types of insects, including flies, moths and ants
That possibility has been created by the discovery of a new class of insect repellant made in the laboratory of Vanderbilt Professor of Biological Sciences and Pharmacology Laurence Zwiebel and reported this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"It wasn't something we set out to find," said David Rinker, a graduate student who performed the study in collaboration with graduate student Gregory Pask and post-doctoral fellow Patrick Jones. "It was an anomaly that we noticed in our tests."
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
A new paper suggests that some Black holes pre-date the Big Bang. If true, the Big Bang was preceded by a Big Crunch and wasn't a singular event.
(PhysOrg.com) -- Cosmologists Alan Coley from Canada's Dalhousie University and Bernard Carr from Queen Mary University in London, have published a paper on arXiv, where they suggest that some so-called primordial black holes might have been created in the Big Crunch that came before the Big Bang, which lends support to the theory that the Big Bang was not a single event, but one that occurs over and over again as the universe crunches down to a single point, then blows up again, over and over...
Primordial black holes are thought to be of a different type than the regular kind that are formed when a supernova occurs, leaving a void that is filled by the entity that is commonly known as a black hole. Many theorists support the notion that there does exist other types of black holes that were formed in the first “moments” after the Big Bang; black holes that would be smaller and created by the energy of the Big Bang itself. In this new theory, however, Coley and Carr suggest that some of these black holes, if they do actually exist, might have been created by the collapsing universe as part of the Big Crunch, and then somehow escaped being pulled into the pinpoint singularity comprised of everything else. And then, after the Big Bang, they simply assimilated with the newly formed universe. One problem they agree on is that it would likely be impossible to tell the difference between pre and post Big Bang primordial black holes.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Zombie Ants have brains infected by fungus. This is fatal for the ants, but good for the fungus.
ScienceDaily (May 8, 2011) — New research has revealed how infection by a parasitic fungus dramatically changes the behavior of tropical of carpenter ants (species Camponotus leonardi), causing them to become zombie-like and to die at a spot that has optimal reproduction conditions for the fungus. The multinational research team studied ants living high up in the rainforest canopy in Thailand.
A paper describing the research will be published in the BioMed Central open-access journal BMC Ecology on 9 May 2011.
"The behavior of these infected zombie ants essentially causes their bodies to become an extension of the fungus's own phenotype, as non-infected ants never behave in this way," said David P. Hughes, the first author of the research paper and an assistant professor of entomology and biology at Penn State University.
What does it take to make America's toughest?
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Japanese researchers think their lasers can do a better job than conventional spark plugs.
(ABC News)- "If you want save gasoline, cut CO2 and [emissions] with more power, new ignition should be required," said Takunori Taira, an associate professor of laser research at the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki, Japan, whose team developed the new system.
Each composite laser is made from ceramic powders heated up to become transparent, and then embedded with metal ions. Separate segments of the material are bonded together to make a laser that's nearly a half an inch long.
Several fast pulses provide enough concentrated optical energy for one of tiny lasers to ignite an air-fuel mixture. Unlike spark plugs, the lasers don't have electrodes that erode over time, making them ideal for use in clean-fuel vehicles. Taira said that the laser also works faster than a spark plug, which should improve fuel efficiency.
Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
The fractures were found by the European Space Agency's Mars Express.\
ScienceDaily (May 6, 2011) — Newly released images from the European Space Agency's Mars Express show Nili Fossae, a system of deep fractures around the giant Isidis impact basin. Some of these incisions into the martian crust are up to 500 m deep and probably formed at the same time as the basin.
Nili Fossae is a 'graben' system on Mars, northeast of the Syrtis Major volcanic province, on the northwestern edge of the giant Isidis impact basin. Graben refers to the lowered terrain between two parallel faults or fractures in the rocks that collapses when tectonic forces pull the area apart. The Nili Fossae system contains numerous graben concentrically oriented around the edges of the basin.
It is thought that flooding of the basin with basaltic lava after the impact that created it resulted in subsidence of the basin floor, adding stress to the planet's crust, which was released by the formation of the fractures.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Malaria mosquitoes home in on foot order
ScienceDaily (May 6, 2011) — Malaria mosquitoes utilize CO2 from exhaled air to localize humans from afar. In the vicinity of their preferred host, they alter their course towards the human feet. Researcher Remco Suer discovered how female malaria mosquitoes use foot odors in the last meters to guide them to their favoured biting place. Suer, who is defending his doctoral thesis May 9 at Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR, sees possibilities to disrupt the host seeking behaviour of the malaria mosquito.
African malaria mosquitoes, Anopheles gambiae, use their olfactory organs, two antennae, two mouthparts (maxillary palps) and the proboscis, to search for their hosts to obtain a bloodmeal. From a distance of several tens of meters mosquitoes detect CO2 which forms part of exhaled air by humans. However, a malaria mosquito does not follow the CO2 trail to its source, the mouth, but at a certain point close to the source is diverted toward the feet, which is the preferred biting place for this mosquito species.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
After almost 100 years, Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity isn't considered 'settled science'. Experiments to try and prove or disprove the theory are still being conducted. Two predictions of the general theory of relativity have been confirmed recently by Stanford and NASA researchers.
(PhysOrg.com) -- Stanford and NASA researchers have confirmed two predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, concluding one of the space agency's longest-running projects.
Known as Gravity Probe B, the experiment used four ultra-precise gyroscopes housed in a satellite to measure two aspects of Einstein's theory about gravity. The first is the geodetic effect, or the warping of space and time around a gravitational body. The second is frame-dragging, which is the amount a spinning object pulls space and time with it as it rotates.
After 52 years of conceiving, building, testing and waiting, the science satellite has determined both effects with unprecedented precision by pointing at a single star, IM Pegasi, while in a polar orbit around Earth. If gravity did not affect space and time, Gravity Probe B's gyroscopes would point in the same direction forever while in orbit. But in confirmation of Einstein's general theory of relativity, the gyroscopes experienced measurable, minute changes in the direction of their spin as they were pulled by Earth's gravity.
The findings appear online in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
A new study indicates they are.
(PHYSORG)- Chimpanzees are self-aware and can anticipate the impact of their actions on the environment around them, an ability once thought to be uniquely human, according to a study released Wednesday.
The findings, reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, challenge assumptions about the boundary between human and non-human, and shed light on the evolutionary origins of consciousness, the researchers said.
Earlier research had demonstrated the capacity of several species of primates, as well as dolphins, to recognize themselves in a mirror, suggesting a fairly sophisticated sense of self. Keep reading here.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A new study says yes.
(Junk Science)- Which is more dangerous: dietary salt or the government’s dietary guidelines? A new study confirms some old truths.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 4), reports that among 3,681 study subjects followed for as long as 23 years, the cardiovascular death rate was more than 50 percent higher among those on who consumed less salt.
The researchers concluded that their findings, “refute the estimates of computer model of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intake” and they do not support “the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction in salt intake at the population level.”
But that sort of reduction is precisely what the U.S. government now recommends.
Did we really need a study to determine this?
ScienceDaily (May 2, 2011) — The hormone ghrelin, known to promote hunger and fat storage, has been found to enhance exploratory "sniffing" in both animals and humans.
The research, by University of Cincinnati (UC) scientists, suggests that ghrelin may be designed to boost detection of calories in our environment through smell and link those inputs with natural regulation of metabolism and body weight.
Led by Jenny Tong, MD, and Matthias Tschöp, MD, both of UC's endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism division, the study appears in the April 13, 2011, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.
"Smell is an integral part of feeding and mammals frequently rely on smell to locate food and discriminate among food sources," says Tong. "Sniffing is the first stage of the smell process and can enhance odor detection and discrimination."
Monday, May 2, 2011
Those jellyfish may be watching you.
(Apr. 30, 2011) — Box jellyfish may seem like rather simple creatures, but in fact their visual system is anything but. They've got no fewer than 24 eyes of four different kinds. Now, researchers reporting online on April 28 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, have evidence revealing that four of those eyes always peer up out of the water, regardless of the way the rest of the animal is oriented. What's more, it appears that those eyes allow the jellies to navigate their way around the mangrove swamps in which they live.
"It is a surprise that a jellyfish -- an animal normally considered to be lacking both brain and advanced behavior -- is able to perform visually guided navigation, which is not a trivial behavioral task," said Anders Garm of the University of Copenhagen. "This shows that the behavioral abilities of simple animals, like jellyfish, may be underestimated."