WHO: Measles Deaths Have Plummeted Over a Decade

3:48:02 AM, Thursday, April 26, 2012

“The number of measles deaths worldwide has apparently dropped by about three-quarters over a decade, according to a new study by the World Health Organization and others.

Most of the deaths were in India and Africa, where not enough children are being immunized.

Health officials estimate about 9.6 million children were saved from dying of measles from 2000 to 2010 after big vaccination campaigns were rolled out more than a decade ago. Researchers guessed the number of deaths fell during that time period from about 535,300 to 139,300, or about 74 percent.

But the figures come with a big grain of salt; scientists only had solid data for 65 countries. For the 128 others, they used modeling to come up with their estimates.

Despite the major dent, the progress fails to meet a WHO target to cut measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010.

"This is still a huge success," said Peter Strebel, a measles expert at WHO and one of the authors of the study. "You don't reduce measles deaths by three quarters without significantly accelerating efforts."

He noted that the global 85 percent vaccination coverage rate was the highest ever recorded.

The study was paid for by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was published Tuesday in the journal, Lancet…”



Body Armor for Breathing?

3:04:26 AM, Thursday, April 26, 2012

“(24 April 2012, news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow) Many of the earliest four-legged creatures that ventured onto land were heavily armored beasts, sporting plates of bone beneath their skin. This "dermal bone" might have protected their blood vessels and nerves while keeping these so-called tetrapods warm and hydrated. Now researchers have come up with a possible new function for the material: It may have prevented the animals' blood from turning to acid.

"Nobody's suggested this before, but it certainly seems plausible," says Jennifer Clack, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the work.

One of the biggest challenges of life on land is getting rid of your carbon dioxide. All we have to do is exhale—but early land dwellers, many of which were semi-aquatic amphibians, had primitive lungs. And unlike us, their ribs were fixed in place, making it hard to breathe in and out. As a result, carbon dioxide could have easily built up in their blood, acidifying it—especially after they chased prey or escaped predators.

Dermal bone may have solved this problem. For instance, when turtles spend a long time underwater holding their breath, there's no intake of oxygen to displace the carbon dioxide that slowly builds in their blood. To compensate, the dermal bone in their shell leaches calcium and magnesium ions into their bloodstream, replacing the acidic hydrogen ions that have built up there…”



Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson: Launch Keynote: 28th National Space Symposium

2:59:42 AM, Thursday, April 26, 2012


Mitt Romney, American Parasite

2:46:03 AM, Thursday, April 26, 2012

“(villagevoice.com, April 18, 2012) It was the early 1990s, and the 750 men and women at Georgetown Steel were pumping out wire rods at peak performance. They had an abiding trust in management's ability to run a smart company. That allegiance was rewarded with fat profit-sharing checks. In the basement-wage economy of Georgetown, South Carolina, Sanderson and his co-workers were blue-collar aristocracy.

"We were doing very good," says Sanderson, president of Steelworkers Local 7898. "The plant was making money, and we had good profit-sharing checks, and everything was going well."

What he didn't know was that it was about to end. Hundreds of miles to the north, in Boston, a future presidential candidate was sizing up Georgetown's books.

At the time, Mitt Romney had been running Bain Capital since 1984, minting a reputation as a prince of private investment. A future prospectus by Deutsche Bank would reveal that by the time he left in 1999, Bain had averaged a shimmering 88 percent annual return on investment. Romney would use that success to launch his political career.

His specialty was flipping companies—or what he often calls "creative destruction." It's the age-old theory that the new must constantly attack the old to bring efficiency to the economy, even if some companies are destroyed along the way. In other words, people like Romney are the wolves, culling the herd of the weak and infirm…”

-- Haven't posted much of anything political recently... ;)



Miniature Honeycomb 'Grows Nerve'

2:40:30 AM, Thursday, April 26, 2012

“(BBC 23 April 2012) A "miniature honeycomb" - or scaffold - could one day be used to encourage damaged nerves to grow and recover, according to an international group of researchers.

The scaffold can channel clusters of nerves through its honeycomb of holes, eventually healing a severed nerve.

The findings of their study on mouse nerves are published in the journal Biofabrication.

Academics hope to one day treat spinal cord injuries with the scaffold.

When nerves are severed, such as in car accidents, it can result in a loss of feeling and movement.

Repairing this damage can be a challenge - but nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord can repair themselves, if only over short distances.

Tube links

One technique to improve this repair is to use tubes. Either end of the severed nerve is placed in a tube and the two ends of the nerve should grow and join in the middle.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield and Laser Zentrum Hannover, Germany, investigated using a honeycomb structure.

Dr Frederik Claeyssens, from the department of materials science and engineering at Sheffield, told the BBC: "That is much more like the structure of the nerve itself…”



Image of the Day: Sombrero Discovered to be 'Two Galaxies in One'

2:28:10 AM, Thursday, April 26, 2012

“(www.dailygalaxy.com, April 24, 2012) New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is both rotund and a slender disk like our spiral Milky Way, The galaxy, which is a round elliptical galaxy with a thin disk embedded inside, is one of the first known to exhibit characteristics of the two different types. The findings will lead to a better understanding of galaxy evolution, a topic still poorly understood.

"The Sombrero is more complex than previously thought," said Dimitri Gadotti of the European Southern Observatory in Chile and lead author of a new paper on the findings appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "The only way to understand all we know about this galaxy is to think of it as two galaxies, one inside the other."

The Sombrero galaxy, also known as NGC 4594, is located 28 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. From our viewpoint on Earth, we can see the thin edge of its flat disk and a central bulge of stars, making it resemble a wide-brimmed hat. Astronomers do not know whether the Sombrero's disk is shaped like a ring or a spiral, but agree it belongs to the disk class.

"Spitzer is helping to unravel secrets behind an object that has been imaged thousands of times,"said Sean Carey of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "It is intriguing Spitzer can read the fossil record of events that occurred billions of years ago within this beautiful and archetypal galaxy."

Spitzer captures a different view of the galaxy than visible-light telescopes. In visible views, the galaxy appears to be immersed in a glowing halo, which scientists had thought was relatively light and small. With Spitzer's infrared vision, a different view emerges. Spitzer sees old stars through the dust and reveals the halo has the right size and mass to be a giant elliptical galaxy…”



Tiny Container Could Make Blood Tests Less Painful

2:20:35 AM, Thursday, April 26, 2012

"(24 April 2012, news.sciencemag.org) Good news for people who hate big needles: Researchers have invented a device that could allow diagnostics to be performed with just a single drop of blood. The apparatus is a container a few millimeters wide that consists of a conductive base covered with an elastic layer of polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS, a silicone compound. When liquid is dripped on the PDMS, the layer wraps around the ensuing droplet thanks to its surface tension—the same force that causes water to curl upward at the sides of a glass. In this configuration, the droplet cannot escape. To release it, the researchers simply insert a thin electrode: Together with the conductive base, the electrode creates an electric field which forces the PDMS layer to unwrap (as seen above). The researchers believe that their container, which is described in a paper published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, could enable blood tests to be performed with a single drop of blood, because it would enable droplets to be transported without evaporating or becoming contaminated. That would reduce patient discomfort, and possibly save time. What's more, the researchers think their container could deliver minute quantities of drugs to diseased cells, thereby avoiding having to administer potentially harmful drugs to the entire body."

-- Follow the link for a video clip!



Kawehi – Bad Romance (Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance' and Cee-Lo Green's 'Fuck You' Cover)

1:32:05 AM, Wednesday, April 25, 2012


IBM Research Boosts Long-Range, Air-Powered Electric Battery Project

1:16:08 AM, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“(Phys.org April 20, 2012) -- IBM announced that two industry leaders -- Asahi Kasei and Central Glass -- will join its Battery 500 Project team and collaborate on far-reaching research with the potential to accelerate the switch from gasoline to electricity as the primary power source for vehicles.

In 2009, IBM Research pioneered a sustainable mobility project to develop lithium-air battery technology capable of powering a family-sized electric car for approximately 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge.

As partners in the Battery 500 Project, Asahi Kasei and Central Glass bring decades of materials innovation for the automotive industry to the team. They will expand the project’s scope and, although the scientific and engineering challenges to its practical implementation are extremely high, exploring several chemistries simultaneously increases the chance of success.

• Asahi Kasei, one of Japan's leading chemical manufactures and a leading global supplier of separator membrane for lithium-ion batteries, will use its experience in innovative membrane technology to create a critical component for lithium-air batteries.

• Central Glass, a leading global electrolyte manufacturer for lithium-ion batteries, will use its chemical expertise in this field to create a new class of electrolytes and high-performance additives specifically designed to improve lithium-air batteries…”



SpaceX Delays First Private Launch to Space Station

1:09:34 AM, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“(phys.org, April 24, 2012) SpaceX has postponed by a week its bid to become the first private company to attempt to launch an unmanned cargo vessel to the International Space Station.

"After reviewing our recent progress, it was clear that we needed more time to finish hardware-in-the-loop testing and properly review and follow up on all data," SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham said late Monday.

"While it is still possible that we could launch on May 3rd, it would be wise to add a few more days of margin in case things take longer than expected.

"As a result, our launch is likely to be pushed back by one week, pending coordination with NASA," she said in a statement, adding that the company would announce the new target date once it was determined.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced the decision via Twitter, writing: "Am pushing launch back approx a week to do more testing on Dragon docking code. New date pending coordination with NASA."

Last Monday NASA said there was a good chance SpaceX would soon become the first private company to attempt to launch its spacecraft to the ISS on an unmanned cargo flight.

SpaceX aims to carry out a fly-by of the ISS and a berthing operation in which the reusable spacecraft, the Dragon, will approach the ISS as the crew aboard the orbiting outpost uses a robotic arm to dock it…”



German Scientists Unveil 'Intelligent' Tyre for All Weather

1:05:27 AM, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“Are you fed up of having to change your summer tyres for winter tyres at the first sign of snow? Or of being caught out on a long car journey by sudden changes in the weather?

That may soon be a thing of the past, according to a group of researchers at Leipzig university, who are developing the world's first-ever "intelligent" tyre which automatically adapts itself to the prevailing weather conditions even while you are driving.

A team of researchers headed by Detlef Riemer at the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig unveiled the "adaptive tyre" at this year's Hanover Fair, the world's biggest industrial fair taking place in the north German city this week.

"Today's choice of tyres are always a compromise between the ability to brake and petrol consumption," Riemer said.

"The car driver has to take into consideration every sort of weather condition and you can't change tyres while you're driving."

But Riemer's "adaptive tyre" is equipped with electronic sensors which recognise different sorts of terrain -- whether motorway or un-tarmacked roads -- and whether it's dry, raining or snowing…”

-- Awesome!!! It will not be a better option than running dedicated tires for the terrain, but this is very promising and a step in the right direction.



Water Forms Floating 'Bridge' When Exposed to High Voltage

12:58:50 AM, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“(September 28, 2007, phys.org) While it's one of the most important and abundant chemical compounds on Earth, water is still a puzzle to scientists. Much research has been done to uncover the structure of water beyond the H2O scale, which is thought to be responsible for many of water’s unique properties. However, the nature of this structure, governed by hydrogen bonds, is currently unknown.

“Water undoubtedly is the most important chemical substance in the world,” explained Elmar Fuchs and colleagues from the Graz University of Technology in Austria in a recent study. “The interaction of water with electric fields has been intensely explored over the last years. We report another unusual effect of liquid water exposed to a dc electric field: the floating water bridge.”

When exposed to a high-voltage electric field, water in two beakers climbs out of the beakers and crosses empty space to meet, forming the water bridge. The liquid bridge, hovering in space, appears to the human eye to defy gravity.

Upon investigating the phenomenon, the scientists found that water was being transported from one beaker to another, usually from the anode beaker to the cathode beaker. The cylindrical water bridge, with a diameter of 1-3 mm, could remain intact when the beakers were pulled apart at a distance of up to 25 mm.

Why water would act this way was a surprise, Fuchs told PhysOrg.com. But the group’s analyses have shown that the explanation may lie within the nature of the water’s structure. Initially, the bridge forms due to electrostatic charges on the surface of the water. The electric field then concentrates inside the water, arranging the water molecules to form a highly ordered microstructure. This microstructure remains stable, keeping the bridge intact…”



Private Company's Plan to Mine Asteroids

12:46:18 AM, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“Planetary Resources, Inc. is not your average startup: its mission is to investigate and eventually mine asteroids in space!

Last week, the company issued a somewhat cryptic announcement saying they “will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP”. I predicted this meant they wanted to mine asteroids, and yes, I will toot my own horn: I was right. They’re holding a press conference Tuesday morning to officially announce they’re going asteroid hunting.

The company had a pretty fierce amount of credibility right off the bat, with several ex-NASA engineers, an astronaut, and planetary scientists involved, as well as the backing of not one but several billionaires, including a few from Google… not to mention James Cameron. The co-founders of Planetary Resources are Peter Diamandis — he created the highly-successful X-Prize Foundation, to give cash awards to incremental accomplishments that will help achieve technological breakthroughs, including those for space travel — and Eric Anderson, X-Prize board member and Chairman of the Board of the Space Spaceflight Federation.

These are very, very heavy hitters. Clearly, they’re not screwing around…”



New Technique Efficiently Creates Single Photons for Quantum Information Processing

1:38:16 AM, Saturday, April 21, 2012

“Using lasers to excite just one atom from a cloud of ultra-cold rubidium gas, physicists have developed a new way to rapidly and efficiently create single photons for potential use in optical quantum information processing – and in the study of dynamics and disorder in certain physical systems.

The technique takes advantage of the unique properties of atoms that have one or more electrons excited to a condition of near-ionization known as the Rydberg state. Atoms in this highly excited state – with a principal quantum number greater than 70 – have exaggerated electromagnetic properties and interact strongly with one another. That allows one Rydberg atom to block the formation of additional excited atoms within an area of 10 to 20 microns.

That single Rydberg atom can then be converted to a photon, ensuring that – on average – only one photon is produced from a rubidium cloud containing hundreds of densely-packed atoms. Reliably producing a single photon with well known properties is important to a several research areas, including quantum information systems.

The new technique was scheduled to be reported April 19 in ScienceExpress, the rapid online publication of the journal Science. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)…”



Lamborghini’s Not-So-Secret SUV Leaks Early As The Urus

1:28:36 AM, Saturday, April 21, 2012

“The least-kept secret of the Beijing Motor Show spilled out today with the leak of these renderings showing Lamborghini's proposed new sport utility vehicle. Dubbed the Urus, the concept SUV would be Lamborghini's bid to cash in on the booming global market for high-end luxury SUVs -- if customers can accept the strange blend of supercar angles and racing tires on a high-riding hatchback.

While Lamborghini has flourished with new models under its ownership by Volkswagen, profits have remained elusive. With Porsche thriving thanks to its Cayenne SUV, other automakers now wonder just how big the market for people movers with some off-road capability might be; BMW keeps adding to its already full range of luxury SUVs, while Lamborghini stablemate Bentley's idea of the EXP 9F concept shows the dangers inherent in the concept. Lamborghini execs have said they have yet to win approval to build it -- but given demand for big vehicles in China and the Middle East, that seems like a formality ahead of a 2017 arrival.

Unlike Bentley, Lamborghini has a history with trucks; the LM002 SUV set the mold that the Hummer H2 would attempt to fill two decades later. The Urus -- named for the ancestor of modern bulls in Spain -- looks nothing like the LM002, drawing its styling from what a four-door Aventador might look like and its underpinnings from either the Cayenne or corporate cousin Audi. Many details such as specific engine choices remain under embargo; we'll have the full story on the Urus this weekend, but until then you can debate whether a Lamborghini SUV stands as a savvy move or just a lot of bull.”

-- Meh, though the side profile is not too bad.



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