Exercise not good for everyone?
Thursday, May 31, 2012
(PHYSORG)- White Americans' heads are getting bigger. That's according to research by forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Lee Jantz, coordinator of UT's Forensic Anthropology Center (FAC); Richard Jantz, professor emeritus and former director of the FAC; and Joanne Devlin, adjunct assistant professor, examined 1,500 skulls dating back to the mid-1800s through the mid-1980s. They noticed U.S. skulls have become larger, taller and narrower as seen from the front and faces have become significantly narrower and higher.
The researchers cannot pinpoint a reason as to why American head shapes are changing and whether it is primarily due to evolution or lifestyle changes.
"The varieties of changes that have swept American life make determining an exact cause an endlessly complicated proposition," said Lee Jantz. "It likely results from modified growth patterns because of better nutrition, lower infant and maternal mortality, less physical work, and a breakdown of former ethnic barriers to marriage. Which of these is paramount we do not know."
The researchers found that the average height from the base to the top of the skull in men has increased by eight millimeters (0.3 inches). The skull size has grown by 200 cubic centimeters, a space equivalent to a tennis ball. In women, the corresponding increases are seven millimeters and 180 cubic centimeters.
Skull height has increased 6.8 percent since the late 1800s, while body height has increased 5.6 percent and femur length has only increased about 2 percent. Also, skull-height has continued to change whereas the overall heightening has recently slowed or stopped.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Zombie bee parasite may be causing colony collapse disorder.
Via Yahoo News:
A fly parasite is being blamed for an epidemic that has struck the honey bee population around the world. The parasite nests in the stomach of the bees and causes them to walk in circles, sometimes pursuing bright lights, before eventually dying.
The Parasitic Phorid Fly Apocephalus borealis is responsible for the zombie transformation, laying its eggs inside the abdomen of the honey bee.
"When we observed the bees for some time, the ones that were alive, we found that they walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction," said San Francisco State University's Andrew Core lead author on the bee parasite study in the journal Plos One.
Bees usually just sit in one place, sometimes curling up before they die, said Core. But the parasitised bees were still alive, unable to stand up on their legs. Keep on reading...
Credit: BDA – Neugebauer
Even the Stone Age had elite families.
ScienceDaily— Hereditary inequality began over 7,000 years ago in the early Neolithic era, with new evidence showing that farmers buried with tools had access to better land than those buried without.
The research, carried out by archaeologists from the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), May 28.
By studying more than 300 human skeletons from sites across central Europe, Professor Alex Bentley and an international team of colleagues funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council uncovered evidence of differential land access among the first Neolithic farmers -- the earliest such evidence yet found.
Strontium isotope analysis of the skeletons, which provides indications of place of origin, indicated that men buried with distinctive Neolithic stone adzes (tools used for smoothing or carving wood) had less variable isotope signatures than men buried without adzes. This suggests those buried with adzes had access to closer -- and probably better -- land than those buried without.
Professor Bentley, Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol, said: "The men buried with adzes appear to have lived on food grown in areas of loess, the fertile and productive soil favoured by early farmers. This indicates they had consistent access to preferred farming areas." Keep on reading...
(PHYSORG)- Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan's crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away - the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.
"We were frankly kind of startled," said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that's still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.
Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors.
But scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish that sail the world because such fish can metabolize and shed radioactive substances.
One of the largest and speediest fish, Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the Japan coast and swim east at breakneck speed to school in waters off California and the tip of Baja California, Mexico. Keep on reading...
Monday, May 28, 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Image: MIT BioInstrumentation Lab
MIT researchers have engineered a high velocity device that replaces needles!
(PHYSORG)- Getting a shot at the doctor’s office may become less painful in the not-too-distant future.
MIT researchers have engineered a device that delivers a tiny, high-pressure jet of medicine through the skin without the use of a hypodermic needle. The device can be programmed to deliver a range of doses to various depths — an improvement over similar jet-injection systems that are now commercially available.
The researchers say that among other benefits, the technology may help reduce the potential for needle-stick injuries; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that hospital-based health care workers accidentally prick themselves with needles 385,000 times each year. A needleless device may also help improve compliance among patients who might otherwise avoid the discomfort of regularly injecting themselves with drugs such as insulin.
“If you are afraid of needles and have to frequently self-inject, compliance can be an issue,” says Catherine Hogan, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the research team. “We think this kind of technology … gets around some of the phobias that people may have about needles.”
Saturday, May 26, 2012
ScienceDaily— 'Tractor beams' of light that pull objects towards them are no longer science fiction. Haifeng Wang at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute and co-workers have now demonstrated how a tractor beam can in fact be realized on a small scale.
Tractor beams are a well-known concept in science fiction. These rays of light are often shown pulling objects towards an observer, seemingly violating the laws of physics, and of course, such beams have yet to be realised in the real world. Haifeng Wang at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute and co-workers have now demonstrated how a tractor beam can in fact be realized on a small scale. "Our work demonstrates a tractor beam based only on a single laser to pull or push an object of interest toward the light source," says Wang.
Based on pioneering work by Albert Einstein and Max Planck more than a hundred years ago, it is known that light carries momentum that pushes objects away. In addition, the intensity that varies across a laser beam can be used to push objects sideways, and for example can be used to move cells in biotechnology applications. Pulling an object towards an observer, however, has so far proven to be elusive. In 2011, researchers theoretically demonstrated a mechanism where light movement can be controlled using two opposing light beams -- though technically, this differs from the idea behind a tractor beam. Keep on reading...
Friday, May 25, 2012
A space first had been achieved.
The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule made a historic arrival at the International Space Station on Friday, triumphantly captured by astronauts wielding a giant robot arm.
SpaceX is the first private company to accomplish such a feat: a commercial cargo delivery into the cosmos.
"There's so much that could have gone wrong and it went right," said an elated Elon Musk, the billionaire maestro of SpaceX.
"This really is, I think, going to be recognized as a significantly historical step forward in space travel - and hopefully the first of many to come."
NASA astronaut Donald Pettit used the space station's 58-foot robot arm to snare the gleaming white Dragon after a few hours of extra checks and maneuvers. The two vessels came together while sailing above Australia.
"Looks like we've got us a dragon by the tail," Pettit announced from 250 miles up once he locked onto Dragon's docking mechanism.
NASA controllers applauded as their counterparts at SpaceX's control center in Hawthorne, Calif. - including Musk - lifted their arms in triumph and jumped out of their seats to exchange high fives. The two control rooms worked together, as equal partners, to pull off the feat.
The company's youthful-looking employees - the average age is 30 - were still in a frenzy when Musk took part in a televised news conference. They screamed with excitement as if it were at a pep rally and chanted, "E-lon, E-lon, E-lon," as the 40-year-old Musk, wearing a black athletic jacket with the SpaceX logo, described the day's events.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Credit: North Carolina State University
Scientists at North Carolina State University are researching a wind-driven "tumbleweed" Mars rover.
ScienceDaily — New research from North Carolina State University shows that a wind-driven "tumbleweed" Mars rover would be capable of moving across rocky Martian terrain -- findings that could also help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) design the best possible vehicle.
"There is quite a bit of interest within NASA to pursue the tumbleweed rover design, but one of the questions regarding the concept is how it might perform on the rocky surface of Mars," says Dr. Andre Mazzoleni, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. "We set out to address that question."
Mazzoleni and Dr. Alexander Hartl, an adjunct professor of MAE at NC State, developed a computer model to determine how varying the diameter and mass of a tumbleweed rover would affect its speed and ability to avoid getting stuck in Martian rock fields. Rock fields are common on the surface of Mars, which averages one rock per square meter.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
iPad-based memory test helps spot early signs of condition
Via Medical Xpress:
For the first time scientists have succeeded in taking skin cells from heart failure patients and reprogramming them to transform into healthy, new heart muscle cells that are capable of integrating with existing heart tissue.
The research, which is published online today (Wednesday) in the European Heart Journal, opens up the prospect of treating heart failure patients with their own, human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to repair their damaged hearts. As the reprogrammed cells would be derived from the patients themselves, this could avoid the problem of the patients' immune systems rejecting the cells as "foreign". However, the researchers warn that there are a number of obstacles to overcome before it would be possible to use hiPSCs in humans in this way, and it could take at least five to ten years before clinical trials could start.
Recent advances in stem cell biology and tissue engineering have enabled researchers to consider ways of restoring and repairing damaged heart muscle with new cells, but a major problem has been the lack of good sources of human heart muscle cells and the problem of rejection by the immune system. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to derive hiPSCs from young and healthy people and that these are capable of transforming into heart cells. However, it has not been shown that hiPSCs could be obtained from elderly and diseased patients. In addition, until now researchers have not been able to show that heart cells created from hiPSCs could integrate with existing heart tissue.
Professor Lior Gepstein, Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Physiology at the Sohnis Research Laboratory for Cardiac Electrophysiology and Regenerative Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, who led the research, said: "What is new and exciting about our research is that we have shown that it's possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young – the equivalent to the stage of his heart cells when he was just born." Keep on reading...
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
ScienceDaily — A method developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for training blind persons to "see" through the use of a sensory substitution device (SSD) has enabled those using the system to actually "read" an eye chart with letter sizes smaller than those used in determining the international standard for blindness.
The eight congenitally blind participants in the Hebrew University test group passed the conventional eye-exam of the Snellen acuity test, technically surpassing the world-agreed criterion of the World Health Organization (WHO) for blindness and moving them to the level of (low-vision) sighted. These results were published recently in the PLoS One journal.
The Snellen test is a standard visual test in which the patient views a chart which contains the letter E facing four different directions and in various sizes. The patient sits at a specific distance of 20 feet (6 meters) and has to determine the direction of the E's, and according to the smallest size he can read, his visual acuity is determined.
Normal vision is considered 20/20, referring to both the distance and size of the symbols on the eye chart. The congenitally blind participants in the Hebrew University test group reached a median level of 20/360, meaning they could identify letters from a distance of 20 feet that a normally sighted person (with normal vision) would be able to identify from 360 feet. The 20/360 result is better than the World health organization criterion for blindness, which is 20/400. Keep on reading...
Monday, May 21, 2012
Man to attempt world record parachute jump from space.
Did bronze age people use rock art as a multi-generational Facebook wall?
(Phys.org) -- Large clusters of rock art spanning thousands of years but located at the same site may hold key to detecting massive cultural changes in prehistoric hunter-gatherers of the north.
Updating a virtual wall with details of our lives, and checking it to catch up with others, is part of the daily routine for millions.
But imagine a prehistoric version – with a timeline preserved in actual stone encompassing thousands of years, on which our ancestors used symbolic interpretations of animals and events to communicate with distant tribes and their own descendants – allowing us to trace societal developments in these ancient nomadic communities over the course of generations.
Cambridge archaeologist Mark Sapwell is using the latest technology to analyse the different types, traits and tropes in the thousands of images imprinted on two granite outcrops in the frozen north, where landscapes of early Bronze Age art spanning millennia stretch across areas of rock the size of football pitches.
“These sites are on river networks, and boat is likely how these Bronze Age tribes travelled,” explains Sapwell. “The rock art I’m studying is found near rapids and waterfalls, places where you would have to maybe leave the river and walk around – carrying your animal-skin canoe on your back – natural spots to stop and leave your mark as you journey through, like a kind of artistic tollbooth.”
The two sites that Sapwell is investigating, Zalavruga in Russia and Nämforsen in Northern Sweden, contain around 2,500 images each of animals, people, boats, hunting scenes – even very early centaurs and mermaids. Keep on reading...
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Scientists uncovered evidence of interactions among the circumarctic tribes during the last several thousand years.
ScienceDaily — Two studies led by scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and National Geographic's Genographic Project reveal new information about the migration patterns of the first humans to settle the Americas. The studies identify the historical relationships among various groups of Native American and First Nations peoples and present the first clear evidence of the genetic impact of the groups' cultural practices.
For many of these populations, this is the first time their genetics have been analyzed on a population scale. One study, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, focuses on the Haida and Tlingit communities of southeastern Alaska. The other study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, considers the genetic histories of three groups that live in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
Establishing shared markers in the DNA of people living in the circumarctic region, the team of scientists uncovered evidence of interactions among the tribes during the last several thousand years. The researchers used these clues to determine how humans migrated to and settled in North America as long as 20,000 years ago, after crossing the land bridge from today's Russia, an area known as Beringia.
Penn houses the Genographic Project's North American research center. Keep on reading...
(PHYSORG)- MBARI engineer Andy Hamilton looks out his office window in Moss Landing and points at the waves crashing on the beach below. “Pretty impressive, aren’t they? You’d think there’d be a way to make use of all that energy.” Since 2009, Hamilton has led a team of engineers trying to do just that. Their goal is not to replace the hulking power plant that overlooks Moss Landing Harbor, but to provide a more generous supply of electricity for oceanographic instruments in Monterey Bay.
Hamilton’s “power buoy” project is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which sponsors research into revolutionary new technologies that might one day be used by the U.S. military. The project started with a three-month grant to assess the availability of wave power around the world, and to assess DARPA’s previous attempts to generating electrical power from the waves.
Hamilton’s initial research and calculations showed that DARPA’s previous efforts had been too timid—their small prototype buoys were never able to take advantage of the full energy of the waves. So Hamilton proposed to "go big" (but not as big as commercial wave-power projects).
He spent another nine months using computer models to test different buoy designs under a variety of simulated wave conditions. In the end, he came up with a buoy that was 2.5 meters (8 feet) across. Hanging in the water below this buoy is a massive metal plate 3 meters (10 feet) wide and 5.5 meters (18 feet) long.
Because most wave motion occurs at the sea surface, the buoy rises and falls with the waves, but the plate, 30 meters (100 feet) down, remains relatively stationary. Between the surface buoy and the metal plate is a large hydraulic cylinder with a piston inside. As the buoy rises and falls, it pushes and pulls on this piston. This forces hydraulic fluid through a hydraulic motor, which in turn runs an electrical generator.
Engineering in the real world
This sounds simple in concept, but as is often the case, things become much trickier when you try to build a real device that will work in the real ocean. Fortunately, Hamilton recruited a team of resourceful engineers to work on the project. Mechanical engineer François Cazenave has worked full time on this project for the past 18 months. Other team members include mechanical engineer Jon Erickson, electrical engineer Paul McGill, and software engineer Wayne Radochonski.
Keep on reading...
Friday, May 18, 2012
Michio Kaku explains science of lunar event.
A small group of physicists believe our universe began inside a black hole.
Every black hole contains a new universe: A physicist presents a solution to present-day cosmic mysteriesMay 18, 2012 by Nikodem Poplawski
Our universe may exist inside a black hole. This may sound strange, but it could actually be the best explanation of how the universe began, and what we observe today. It's a theory that has been explored over the past few decades by a small group of physicists including myself.
Successful as it is, there are notable unsolved questions with the standard big bang theory, which suggests that the universe began as a seemingly impossible "singularity," an infinitely small point containing an infinitely high concentration of matter, expanding in size to what we observe today. The theory of inflation, a super-fast expansion of space proposed in recent decades, fills in many important details, such as why slight lumps in the concentration of matter in the early universe coalesced into large celestial bodies such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies.
But these theories leave major questions unresolved. For example: What started the big bang? What caused inflation to end? What is the source of the mysterious dark energy that is apparently causing the universe to speed up its expansion?
The idea that our universe is entirely contained within a black hole provides answers to these problems and many more. It eliminates the notion of physically impossible singularities in our universe. And it draws upon two central theories in physics. Keep on reading...
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Credit: University of Rochester Medical Center
Scientists discover Alzheimer's gene allows toxins to leak into the brain.
ScienceDaily — A well-known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease triggers a cascade of signaling that ultimately results in leaky blood vessels in the brain, allowing toxic substances to pour into brain tissue in large amounts, scientists report May 16 in the journal Nature.
The results come from a team of scientists investigating why a gene called ApoE4 makes people more prone to developing Alzheimer's. People who carry two copies of the gene have roughly eight to 10 times the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease than people who do not.
A team of scientists from the University of Rochester, the University of Southern California, and other institutions found that ApoE4 works through cyclophilin A, a well-known bad actor in the cardiovascular system, causing inflammation in atherosclerosis and other conditions. The team found that cyclophilin A opens the gates to the brain assault seen in Alzheimer's.
"We are beginning to understand much more about how ApoE4 may be contributing to Alzheimer's disease," said Robert Bell, Ph.D., the post-doctoral associate at Rochester who is first author of the paper. "In the presence of ApoE4, increased cyclophilin A causes a breakdown of the cells lining the blood vessels in Alzheimer's disease in the same way it does in cardiovascular disease or abdominal aneurysm. This establishes a new vascular target to fight Alzheimer's disease."
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
ScienceDaily — Surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have restored some hand function in a quadriplegic patient with a spinal cord injury at the C7 vertebra, the lowest bone in the neck. Instead of operating on the spine itself, the surgeons rerouted working nerves in the upper arms. These nerves still "talk" to the brain because they attach to the spine above the injury.
Following the surgery, performed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and one year of intensive physical therapy, the patient regained some hand function, specifically the ability to bend the thumb and index finger. He can now feed himself bite-size pieces of food and write with assistance.
The case study, published online May 15 in the Journal of Neurosurgery, is, to the authors' knowledge, the first reported case of restoring the ability to flex the thumb and index finger after a spinal cord injury.
"This procedure is unusual for treating quadriplegia because we do not attempt to go back into the spinal cord where the injury is," says surgeon Ida K. Fox, MD, assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University, who treats patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "Instead, we go out to where we know things work -- in this case the elbow -- so that we can borrow nerves there and reroute them to give hand function." Keep on reading...
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
DARPA's Instant Fire Suppression (IFS) program is based on destabilization of flame plasma with electromagnetic fields and acoustics techniques (video)
DARPA's Instant Fire Suppression (IFS) program is based on destabilization of flame plasma with electromagnetic fields and acoustics techniques. (video)
DARPA's Instant Fire Suppression (IFS) program, which ended recently, sought to establish the feasibility of a novel flame-suppression system based on destabilization of flame plasma with electromagnetic fields and acoustics techniques. The DARPA research team at Harvard University has demonstrated suppression of small methane and related fuel fires by using a hand-held electrode, or wand.
Sleepwalking is more common than previously thought.
ScienceDaily — What goes bump in the night? In many U.S. households: people. That's according to new Stanford University School of Medicine research, which found that about 3.6 percent of U.S. adults -- or upward of 8.4 million -- are prone to sleepwalking. The work also showed an association between nocturnal wanderings and certain psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
The study, the researchers noted, "underscores the fact that sleepwalking is much more prevalent in adults than previously appreciated."
Maurice Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is the lead author of the paper, which appeared in the May 15 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Sleepwalking is a disorder "of arousal from non-REM sleep." While wandering around at night can be harmless and is often played for laughs -- anyone remember the Simpsons episode where Homer began wandering around and doing silly things in his sleep? -- sleepwalking can have serious consequences. Episodes can result in injuries to the wanderer or others and lead to impaired psychosocial functioning.
It is thought that medication use and certain psychological and psychiatric conditions can trigger sleepwalking, but the exact causes are unknown. Also unclear to experts in the field is the prevalence.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Chinese set new distance record for teleporting qubits.
(Phys.org) -- A team of Chinese physicists has broken the distance record for teleporting qubits, extending it from 16 to 97 kilometers. They did so, as they explain in their paper uploaded to the preprint server arXiv, using the phenomenon known as entanglement.
In this context, teleportation is used to denote the exchange of information describing the states of two separate entities without having to move any actual information through the space between them. It’s important to note that teleportation in this context does not imply that an object is actually moved from one place to another, or disassociated and re-associated as seen in Star Trek, etc.
Entanglement is where two participles are entangled, i.e. connected in a way that physicists still cannot explain, though it can be shown that whatever happens to one, happens automatically and instantaneously, to the other. Thus, if one of a pair of entangled particles were made to represent one element of a stream of data that comprised a single letter of the alphabet, for example, the other would take on that value as well, allowing for instant communication; one that would also offer a means of communicating free from the worry of eavesdropping.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
The Inner Life of the Cell by Harvard University. (Video)
Harvard University selected XVIVO to develop an animation that would take their cellular biology students on a journey through the microscopic world of a cell, illustrating mechanisms that allow a white blood cell to sense its surroundings and respond to an external stimulus. This award winning piece was the first topic in a series of animations XVIVO is creating for Harvard's educational website BioVisions at Harvard.
Scientists have discovered a material that offers a Cheaper method to generate hydrogen gas from water.
(Phys.org) -- Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential, either by releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or requiring rare and expensive chemical elements such as platinum.
Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with much more affordable materials. The novel form of catalytic nickel-molybdenum-nitride – described in a paper published online May 8, 2012 in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition – surprised scientists with its high-performing nanosheet structure, introducing a new model for effective hydrogen catalysis.
“We wanted to design an optimal catalyst with high activity and low costs that could generate hydrogen as a high-density, clean energy source,” said Brookhaven Lab chemist Kotaro Sasaki, who first conceived the idea for this research. “We discovered this exciting compound that actually outperformed our expectations.”
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Vesta looks like a little mini planet.
ScienceDaily — When UCLA's Christopher T. Russell looks at the images of the protoplanet Vesta produced by NASA's Dawn mission, he talks about beauty as much as he talks about science.
"Vesta looks like a little planet. It has a beautiful surface, much more varied and diverse than we expected," said Russell, a professor in UCLA's Department of Earth and Space Sciences and the Dawn mission's principal investigator. "We knew Vesta's surface had some variation in color, but we did not expect the diversity that we see or the clarity of the colors and textures, or their distinct boundaries. We didn't find gold on Vesta, but it is still a gold mine."
Dawn has been orbiting Vesta and collecting data on the protoplanet's surface since July 2011. Vesta, which is in the doughnut-shaped asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is currently some 321 million miles from Earth.
The journal Science publishes six papers about Vesta on May 11. Russell is a co-author on all of them.
Friday, May 11, 2012
It doesn't get much stranger than this.
Here's how Nobuhiro Takahashi and the University of Electro-Communications describe this project: "'SHIRI' is a buttocks humanoid robot that expresses various emotions with organic movement of the artificial muscles." It's designed to respond to slaps, caresses, and finger-pokes. It is super weird.
What is it?
Steven Haddock, a scientist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., says that the mysterious creature is a Deepstaria enigmatica jellyfish...
Technology used to educate primates
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Good News: Archaeologists in Guatemala report the discovery of Mayan calendar that does not end in 2012
Via The Washington Post:
The ancient Mayans were masters of time, keepers of good calendars.
And now we have one of their timekeepers’ workrooms to prove it.
In a striking find, archaeologists in Guatemala report the discovery of a small building whose walls display not only a stunningly preserved mural of a brightly adorned Mayan king, but also calendars that destroy any notion that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012.
These deep-time calendars can be used to count thousands of years into the past and future, countering pop-culture and New Age ideas that Mayan calendars ended on Dec. 21, 2012, (or Dec. 23, depending on who’s counting), thereby predicting the end of the world.
The newly found calendars, which track the motion of the moon, Venus and Mars, provide an unprecedented glimpse into how these storied sky-gazers — who dominated Central America for nearly 1,000 years — kept such accurate track of months, seasons and years.
Gator leaps from water, attacks kayaker (video)
(Phys.org) -- With its daily supply of solar energy increasing, NASA's durable Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has driven off the sunward-tilted outcrop, called Greeley Haven, where it worked during its fifth Martian winter.
Opportunity's first drive since Dec. 26, 2011, took the rover about 12 feet (3.67 meters) northwest and downhill on Tuesday, May 8. The rover operations team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received confirmation of the completed drive late Tuesday, relayed from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.
"We're off the Greeley Haven outcrop onto the sand just below it," said rover driver Ashley Stroupe of JPL. "It feels good to be on the move again."
While at Greeley Haven for the past 19 weeks, Opportunity used the spectrometers and microscopic imager on its robotic arm to inspect more than a dozen targets within reach on the outcrop. Radio Doppler signals from the stationary rover during the winter months served an investigation of the interior of Mars by providing precise information about the planet's rotation.
Opportunity will look back with its panoramic camera to acquire multi-filter imaging of the surface targets it studied on Greeley Haven.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Can you imagine riding a 77-foot wave? Garrett McNamara can and he has a world record.
(CBS) — Garrett McNamara now has the Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed after riding a 78-footer in November off the coast of Nazare, Portugal.
Mike Parson had the previous mark, riding a 77-footer off the Southern California coast in 2008.
The ruling became official on Friday by a panel of experts for the annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards.
McNamara told Petethomasoutdoors.com, “It’s amazing we get to do what we do, I am so grateful. The world record doesn’t mean as much to me, this is for the town of Nazaré and Portugal and for all my family and friends there.
(Physorg) -- The smallest mammoth known to have ever lived has been identified by Natural History Museum scientists, and is reported in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B today.
The extinct dwarf mammoth, species Mammuthus creticus, was around 1m tall, about the size of a modern baby African or Asian elephant.
It weighed about 300kg, half the weight of the previous known smallest dwarf mammoth, M. lamarmorai.
The fossils, unearthed in 1904 in Cape Malekas, Crete, have been re-examined and identified by the Museum's fossil mammal experts Dr Victoria Herridge and Dr Adrian Lister.
Mammoths are elephants, and 'elephant' is the broad term used for all elephant and mammoth species, living and extinct.
The identity settles a long-held debate about which part of the elephant family tree the Cretan dwarf belonged to.
It was thought that the Cretan dwarf was most likely a descendant of the extinct straight-tusked elephant, Palaeoloxodon antiquus, because this was the ancestor of nearly all the other extinct dwarf elephants found on various Mediterranean islands including Sicily, Malta and Cyprus. But the new work showed that this was not the case. Keep on reading...
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
(Phys.org) -- As vacationers prepare to spend time outdoors this summer, many of them will pack plenty of sunscreen in hopes it will protect their bodies from overexposure, and possibly from skin cancer. But researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology are discovering that sunscreen may not be so safe after all.
Cell toxicity studies by Dr. Yinfa Ma, Curators' Teaching Professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T, and his graduate student Qingbo Yang, suggest that when exposed to sunlight, zinc oxide, a common ingredient in sunscreens, undergoes a chemical reaction that may release unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals seek to bond with other molecules, but in the process, they can damage cells or the DNA contained within those cells. This in turn could increase the risk of skin cancer.
Ma also found that the longer zinc oxide is exposed to sunlight, the greater the potential damage to human cells.
"Zinc oxide may generate free radicals when exposed to UV (ultraviolet) sunlight," May says, "and those free radicals can kill cells."
Ma studied how human lung cells immersed in a solution containing nano-particles of zinc oxide react when exposed to different types of light over numerous time frames. Using a control group of cells that were not immersed in the zinc oxide solution, Ma compared the results of light exposure on the various groups of cells. He found that zinc oxide-exposed cells deteriorated more rapidly than those not immersed in the chemical compound.
Even when exposed to visible light only, the lung cells suspended in zinc oxide deteriorated. But for cells exposed to ultraviolet rays, Ma found that "cell viability decreases dramatically."
When exposed to ultraviolet long-wave light (ultraviolet A or UVA) for 3 hours, half of the lung cells in the zinc oxide solution died. After 12 hours, 90 percent of the cells in that solution died, Ma found. Keep on reading...
Monday, May 7, 2012
Scientists find evidence for a direct solar-climate linkage. This contradicts what the IPCC has bee telling us. See the IPCC 2007 Relative Forcing Components chart posted below.
Here is what scientists are actually discovering.
Click image for larger view
Here is what scientists are actually discovering.
An abrupt cooling in Europe together with an increase in humidity and particularly in windiness coincided with a sustained reduction in solar activity 2800 years ago. Scientists from the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ in collaboration with Swedish and Dutch colleagues provide evidence for a direct solar-climate linkage on centennial timescales. Using the most modern methodological approach, they analysed sediments from Lake Meerfelder Maar, a maar lake in the Eifel/Germany, to determine annual variations in climate proxies and solar activity.
The study published online in Nature Geoscience reports the climatic change that occurred at the beginning of the pre-Roman Iron Age and demonstrates that especially the so-called Grand Minima of solar activity can affect climate conditions in western Europe through changes in regional atmospheric circulation pattern. Around 2800 years ago, one of these Grand Solar Minima, the Homeric Minimum, caused a distinct climatic change in less than a decade in Western Europe.
The exceptional seasonally laminated sediments from the studied maar lake allow a precise dating even of short-term climate changes. The results show for a 200 year long period strongly increased springtime winds during a period of cool and wet climate in Europe. In combination with model studies they suggest a mechanism that can explain the relation between a weak sun and climate change. "The change and strengthening of the tropospheric wind systems likely is related to stratospheric processes which in turn are affected by the ultraviolet radiation" explains Achim Brauer (GFZ), the initiator of the study. "This complex chain of processes thus acts as a positive feedback mechanism that could explain why assumingly too small variations in solar activity have caused regional climate changes." Keep on reading...
Sunday, May 6, 2012
How Many Universes are There?
How Many Universes are There?
The fact that no one knows the answer to this question is what makes it exciting. The story of physics has been one of an ever-expanding understanding of the sheer scale of reality, to the point where physicists are now postulating that there may be far more universes than just our own. Chris Anderson explores the thrilling implications of this idea.
How Many Universes are There?
ScienceDaily — When your dog gazes up at you adoringly, what does it see? A best friend? A pack leader? A can opener? Many dog lovers make all kinds of inferences about how their pets feel about them, but no one has captured images of actual canine thought processes -- until now.
Emory University researchers have developed a new methodology to scan the brains of alert dogs and explore the minds of the oldest domesticated species. The technique uses harmless functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the same tool that is unlocking secrets of the human brain.
The Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) is publishing the results of their first experiment, showing how the brains of dogs reacted to hand signals given by their owners.
"It was amazing to see the first brain images of a fully awake, unrestrained dog," says Gregory Berns, director of the Emory Center for Neuropolicy and lead researcher of the dog project. "As far as we know, no one has been able to do this previously. We hope this opens up a whole new door for understanding canine cognition and inter-species communication. We want to understand the dog-human relationship, from the dog's perspective."
Key members of the research team include Andrew Brooks, a graduate student at the Center for Neuropolicy, and Mark Spivak, a professional dog trainer and owner of Comprehensive Pet Therapy in Atlanta.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Image: Wikimedia Commons
A 27 foot crocodile once lived in East Africa. It could have easily swallowed a human.
(PHYSORG)- A crocodile large enough to swallow humans once lived in East Africa, according to a University of Iowa researcher.
"It’s the largest known true crocodile,” says Christopher Brochu, associate professor of geoscience. “It may have exceeded 27 feet in length. By comparison, the largest recorded Nile crocodile was less than 21 feet, and most are much smaller.”
Brochu’s paper on the discovery of a new crocodile species was just published in the May 3 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The new species lived between 2 and 4 million years ago in Kenya. It resembled its living cousin, the Nile crocodile, but was more massive.
He recognized the new species from fossils that he examined three years ago at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi. Some were found at sites known for important human fossil discoveries. “It lived alongside our ancestors, and it probably ate them,” Brochu says. He explains that although the fossils contain no evidence of human/reptile encounters, crocodiles generally eat whatever they can swallow, and humans of that time period would have stood no more than four feet tall.
Friday, May 4, 2012
They actually make a laser saber now. You have to wear protective glasses to use it.
Early Humans reached the Western Hemisphere during the last ice age and lived alongside giant extinct mammals.
Early Humans reached the Western Hemisphere during the last ice age and lived alongside giant extinct mammals.
ScienceDaily — A new University of Florida study that determined the age of skeletal remains provides evidence humans reached the Western Hemisphere during the last ice age and lived alongside giant extinct mammals.
The study published online May 3 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology addresses the century-long debate among scientists about whether human and mammal remains found at Vero Beach in the early 1900s date to the same time period. Using rare earth element analysis to measure the concentration of naturally occurring metals absorbed during fossilization, researchers show modern humans in North America co-existed with large extinct mammals about 13,000 years ago, including mammoths, mastodons and giant ground sloths.
"The Vero site is still the only site where there was an abundance of actual human bones, not just artifacts, associated with the animals," said co-author Barbara Purdy, UF anthropology professor emeritus and archaeology curator emeritus at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. "Scientists who disputed the age of the human remains in the early 20th century just did not want to believe that people were in the Western Hemisphere that early. And 100 years later, every single book written about the prehistory of North America includes this site and the controversy that still exists."
Following discovery of the fossils in South Florida between 1913 and 1916, some prominent scientists convinced researchers the human skeletons were from more recent burials and not as old as the animals, a question that remained unanswered because no dating methods existed. Keep on reading...
Changes in the speed that ice travels in more than 200 outlet glaciers indicates that Greenland's contribution to rising sea level in the 21st century might be significantly less than the upper limits some scientists thought possible, a new study shows.
"So far, on average we're seeing about a 30 percent speedup in 10 years," said Twila Moon, a University of Washington doctoral student in Earth and space sciences and lead author of a paper documenting the observations published May 4 in Science.
The faster the glaciers move, the more ice and meltwater they release into the ocean. In a previous study, scientists trying to understand the contribution of melting ice to rising sea level in a warming world considered a scenario in which the Greenland glaciers would double their velocity between 2000 and 2010 and then stabilize at the higher speed, and another scenario in which the speeds would increase tenfold and then stabilize.
At the lower rate, Greenland ice would contribute about four inches to rising sea level by 2100 and at the higher rate the contribution would be nearly 19 inches by the end of this century. But the researchers who conducted that study had little precise data available for how major ice regions, primarily in Greenland and Antarctica, were behaving in the face of climate change.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
'Jetman' flies high over Rio De Janeiro
jetman, cool video,
jetman, cool video,
Can a nicotine vaccine cure smokers?
If smoking a cigarette no longer delivers pleasure, will smokers quit? It's the idea behind a nicotine vaccine being created by MIT and Harvard researchers, in which an injection of synthetic nanoparticles prompts the immune system to create antibodies. The antibodies bind to incoming nicotine molecules so that they're too large to cross the blood-brain barrier. If the brain doesn't know you're smoking, you don't experience the normal smoking kick.
The Boston-based start-up company Selecta Biosciences has tested the SEL-068 vaccine in the lab and is beginning safety tests in humans, making SEL-068 the first synthetic nanoparticle vaccine to be tested in human clinical trials. If successful, the vaccine would be the first synthetically engineered nanoparticle vaccine, distinct from conventionally manufactured biological vaccines.
Although nicotine is not a virus, the nanoparticles target the chemical as if it were by initiating an immune response. Selecta is using the same strategy to design other synthetic vaccines for non-virus ailments including malaria, cancer, diabetes, and transplant rejection. Once a person receives the nicotine vaccine, the effects should last for several years. Read more here...
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
University of California, Santa Cruz
ScienceDaily — Astronomers have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close. NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, a space-based observatory, and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the summit of Haleakala in Hawaii were among the first to help identify the stellar remains.
Supermassive black holes, weighing millions to billions times more than the Sun, lurk in the centers of most galaxies. These hefty monsters lay quietly until an unsuspecting victim, such as a star, wanders close enough to get ripped apart by their powerful gravitational clutches.
Astronomers have spotted these stellar homicides before, but this is the first time they can identify the victim. Using a slew of ground- and space-based telescopes, a team of astronomers led by Suvi Gezari of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., has identified the victim as a star rich in helium gas. The star resides in a galaxy 2.7 billion light-years away.
Her team's results will appear in May 2 online edition of the journal Nature.
Bypassing your doctor to buy meds at a kiosk?
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Let's hope there is a pill to, cure "slackers" soon.
Via Medical Xpress:
Whether someone is a "go-getter" or a "slacker" may depend on individual differences in the brain chemical dopamine, according to new research in the May 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest that dopamine affects cost-benefit analyses.
The study found that people who chose to put in more effort — even in the face of long odds — showed greater dopamine response in the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain important in reward and motivation. In contrast, those who were least likely to expend effort showed increased dopamine response in the insula, a brain region involved in perception, social behavior, and self-awareness.
Researchers led by Michael Treadway, a graduate student working with David Zald, PhD, at Vanderbilt University, asked participants to rapidly press a button in order to earn varying amounts of money. Participants got to decide how hard they were willing to work depending on the odds of a payout and the amount of money they could win. Some accepted harder challenges for more money even against long odds, whereas less motivated subjects would forgo an attempt if it cost them too much effort.
In a separate session, the participants underwent a type of brain imaging called positron emission tomography (PET) that measured dopamine system activity in different parts of the brain. The researchers then examined whether there was a relationship between each individual's dopamine responsiveness and their scores on the motivational test described earlier.
Time lapse video of the pulsar in the crab nebula blowing ripples through the nebula.
astronomy, pulsar, crab nebula, cool video,
astronomy, pulsar, crab nebula, cool video,