Earthly Riches Heaven Sent: Meteorites May Have Peppered Earth With Precious Metals

10:14:05 PM, Wednesday, September 07, 2011

"A meteorite maelstrom that pummeled Earth and pocked the moon with craters billions of years ago may have had a silver lining — and linings made of other metals, too.

New evidence from old rocks suggests that many of the precious metals mined today were delivered to the planet by a bombardment of stony meteorites called chondrites that lasted for hundreds of millions of years.

“Adding a tiny amount of chondritic material could explain where many present-day metals came from,” says Matthias Willbold, a geochemist at the University of Bristol in England whose team reports the new findings in the Sept. 8 Nature.

The abundance of heavy metals near Earth’s surface has long puzzled scientists. Within 50 million years of the planet’s formation, much of its iron sank to the middle to form the core. Silver, platinum and some other precious metals followed, according to laboratory experiments that recreate this partitioning. These elements moved beyond the reach of human tools, leaving the mantle outside the core barren.

Searching for a source that could have later replenished these metals, Willbold and colleagues turned to some of the oldest known rocks on the planet’s surface. The 3.8-billion-year-old Isua greenstone belt, found in West Greenland, probably formed from melted bits of mantle that date to just after the creation of the Earth’s core but before the massive influx of meteorites that geologists call the late heavy bombardment.

The researchers focused on different forms, known as isotopes, of the metal tungsten in the rocks. When the core formed, it swallowed up most of this metal. But a short-lived element called hafnium left behind in the mantle quickly broke down into a lighter isotope, tungsten-182..."

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1/8th Scale Nissan GT-R Model by UK Model Car Maker Amalgam

11:08:51 PM, Tuesday, September 06, 2011

"...Amalgam are recognized as the premiere model maker and supplier of models to high end luxury car manufacturers and racing teams globally.

At 1/8th scale this model is around 22 inches or 58 cm in length and weighs 5kg. It’s huge by any standard and is the most phenomenally well detailed model you’ll ever see.

Take a look at these photos (and the others at the link below). You can see everything has been recreated from the texture of the brake rotors, the reflections in the tail lamps, the stitching on the seats and accurate labels on the dashboard buttons.

These models are now available via Zele International in Japan for 398,000 yen a piece. For those wanting a model of their own GT-R, a custom version of the Amalgam GT-R model is available and starts at a price of 498,000 yen."

-- Wow! This looks just like a real Nissan GT-R, but it seems it comes with a price tag to match such fantastic replica at $5000+ haha... Follow the "See Here" link for more photos.

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Revolution by Bill Newsinger

11:00:02 PM, Tuesday, September 06, 2011
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Tech Company to Build Science Ghost Town in NM

10:55:14 PM, Tuesday, September 06, 2011

"New Mexico, home to several of the nation's premier scientific, nuclear and military institutions, is planning to take part in an unprecedented science project — a 20-square-mile (50-square-kilometer) model of a small U.S. city.

A Washington, D.C.-based technology company announced plans Tuesday to build the state's newest ghost town to test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks and smart-grid cyber security systems.

Although no one will live there, the replica city will be modeled after a typical American town of 35,000 people, complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new.

Pegasus Global Holdings chief executive officer, Bob Brumley, says the $200 million project, known as The Center, will be a first of its kind in the U.S., creating a place for scientists at the state's universities, federal labs and military installations to test their innovations for upgrading cities to 21st century, green technology and infrastructure in a real world setting.

It will also enable them to rub shoulders with investors, meaning it could ultimately draw enough new businesses to give the state a technology corridor like that in California's Silicon Valley or Virginia's Reston, Brumley said.

"The idea for The Center was born out of our own company's challenges in trying to test new and emerging technologies beyond the confines of a sterile lab environment," said Brumley. "The Center will allow private companies, not for profits, educational institutions and government agencies to test in a unique facility with real world infrastructure, allowing them to better understand the cost and potential limitations of new technologies prior to introduction."

For instance, he said, developers of solar technology would be able to assess exactly how their systems would be delivered and used in one house where the thermostat is set at 78, and another where it's set at 68. The center could also help show how efficient it might be in an old building versus a new one..."

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Our Galaxy Might Hold Thousands of Ticking 'Time Bombs'

10:47:59 PM, Tuesday, September 06, 2011

"In the Hollywood blockbuster "Speed," a bomb on a bus is rigged to blow up if the bus slows down below 50 miles per hour. The premise - slow down and you explode - makes for a great action movie plot, and also happens to have a cosmic equivalent.

New research shows that some old stars might be held up by their rapid spins, and when they slow down, they explode as supernovae. Thousands of these "time bombs" could be scattered throughout our Galaxy.

"We haven't found one of these 'time bomb' stars yet in the Milky Way, but this research suggests that we've been looking for the wrong signs. Our work points to a new way of searching for supernova precursors," said astrophysicist Rosanne Di Stefano of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

The specific type of stellar explosion Di Stefano and her colleagues studied is called a Type Ia supernova. It occurs when an old, compact star known as a white dwarf destabilizes.

A white dwarf is a stellar remnant that has ceased nuclear fusion. It typically can weigh up to 1.4 times as much as our Sun - a figure called the Chandrasekhar mass after the astronomer who first calculated it. Any heavier, and gravity overwhelms the forces supporting the white dwarf, compacting it and igniting runaway nuclear fusion that blows the star apart.

There are two possible ways for a white dwarf to exceed the Chandrasekhar mass and explode as a Type Ia supernova. It can accrete gas from a donor star, or two white dwarfs can collide. Most astronomers favor the first scenario as the more likely explanation. But we would expect to see certain signs if the theory is correct, and we don't for most Type Ia supernovae..."

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It Wasn't Just Neanderthals: Ancient Humans Had Sex with Other Hominids

10:28:01 PM, Tuesday, September 06, 2011

"Scientists have collected evidence for years that modern humans interbred with our ridge-browed Neanderthal ancestors in Eurasia. But in Africa, where the homo sapien species is said to have emerged, a lack of genetic evidence has left researchers scratching their heads about exactly how we came to beat out not only the Neanderthals, or homo neanderthalis, but other archaic species like homo erectus and homo habilus. A new paper published by Michael Hammer from the University of Arizona, however, provides evidence that homo sapiens not only interbred with Neanderthals in Eurasia, they also had sex with several species of our ancestors across the African continent. And they did it often. "We think there were probably thousands of interbreeding events," said Hammer. "It happened relatively extensively and regularly."

What we know about the history of our species has long been determined by what we can learn from our ancestors' remains. As recently as five years ago, researchers deduced that humans and Neanderthals had interbred at some point based on the shapes of skulls found in caves or buried under thousands of years worth of soil. A ground-breaking paper published last year by Swedish evolutionary biologist Svante Pääbo in Science brought genetics into the equation. Pääbo provided genetic proof that homo sapiens migrated out of Africa and into the Neanderthal-occupied Eurasian continent, where they met and mated with the more primitive men. Pääbo and his team made the discovery while comparing samples of Neanderthal DNA with that of modern human DNA. In a recent profile on Pääbo, The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert describes what's become known as the "leaky replacement" hypothesis:

Before modern humans "replaced" the Neanderthals, they had sex with them. The liaisons produced chil- dren, who helped to people Europe, Asia, and the New World.

The leaky-replacement hypothesis--assuming for the moment that it is correct--provides further evidence of the closeness of Neanderthals to modern humans. Not only did the two interbreed; the resulting hybrid offspring were functional enough to be integrated into human society. Some of these hybrids survived to have kids of their own, who, in turn, had kids, and so on to the present day. Even now, at least thirty thousand years after the fact, the signal is discernible: all non-Africans, from the New Guineans to the French to the Han Chinese, carry somewhere between one and four per cent Neanderthal DNA..."

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Flaring Up - Surfing with a Flare

4:40:55 PM, Sunday, September 04, 2011
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Researchers Discover Gene Defect That Predisposes People To Leukemia

2:25:29 PM, Sunday, September 04, 2011

"A new genetic defect that predisposes people to acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplasia has been discovered. The mutations were found in the GATA2 gene. Among its several regulatory roles, the gene acts as a master control during the transition of primitive blood-forming cells into white blood cells.

The researchers started by studying four unrelated families who, over generations, have had several relatives with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer. Their disease onset occurred from the teens to the early 40s. The course was rapid.

The findings will be reported Sept. 4 in Nature Genetics. The results come from an international collaboration of scientists and the participation of families from Australia, Canada, and the United States.

In collaboration with Dr. Hamish Scott and Dr. Richard J. D'Andrea at the Centre for Cancer Biology, University of Australia, Adelaide, the U.S. portion of the study was conducted by Dr. Marshall Horwitz, University of Washington (UW) professor of pathology. Horwitz practices genetic medicine at UW Medical Center and the UW Center for Human Development and Disability, both in Seattle.

The genetic mutation was first discovered in a patient from central Washington. The research participant had been successfully treated for leukemia in 1992 through a bone marrow transplant at UW Medical Center. At that time, Horwitz decided to seek a possible genetic reason after learning his patient had several family members with myelodysplastic syndrome, myeloid leukemia, and intractable mycobacteria infections..."

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Scientists Produce First Stem Cells From Endangered Species

2:14:08 PM, Sunday, September 04, 2011

"Starting with normal skin cells, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have produced the first stem cells from endangered species. Such cells could eventually make it possible to improve reproduction and genetic diversity for some species, possibly saving them from extinction, or to bolster the health of endangered animals in captivity.

A description of the accomplishment appeared in an advance online edition of the journal Nature Methods on September 4, 2011.

Genesis

About five years ago, Oliver Ryder, PhD, the director of genetics at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, contacted Jeanne Loring, PhD, professor of developmental neurobiology at Scripps Research, to discuss the possibility of collecting stem cells from endangered species. Ryder's team had already established the Frozen Zoo, a bank of skin cells and other materials from more than 800 species and wondered if the thousands of samples they had amassed might be used as starting points.

Just as is hoped with humans, Ryder thought stem cells from endangered species might enable lifesaving medical therapies or offer the potential to preserve or expand genetic diversity by offering new reproduction possibilities.

At the time, although researchers were working with stem cells from embryos, scientists had not yet developed techniques for reliably inducing normal adult cells to become stem cells. But the technology arrived soon after, and scientists now accomplish this feat, called induced pluripotency, by inserting genes in normal cells that spark the transformation..."

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Hubble Movies Reveal Solar-System-Sized Traffic Jams: Giant Jets Spewing from Newborn Stars Revealed in Telescope's Images

10:19:54 PM, Saturday, September 03, 2011

"When it comes to big-budget action movies, Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan prefers Hubble to Hollywood.

Using Hubble Space Telescope images collected over 14 years, Hartigan has created time-lapse movies that offer astronomers their first glimpse of the dynamic behavior of stellar jets, huge torrents of gas and particles that spew from the poles of newborn stars.

An analysis of the movies that was published in The Astrophysical Journal is forcing astronomers to rethink some of the processes that occur during the latter stages of star birth. And in an effort to learn even more, Hartigan and colleagues are using powerful lasers to recreate a small-scale version of the solar-system-sized jets in a lab in upstate New York.

"The Hubble's given us spectacular images," said Hartigan, professor of physics and astronomy at Rice. "In the nebulae where stars are born, for instance, we can see beautiful filaments and detailed structure. We know these images are frozen snapshots in time, but we would need to watch for hundreds of thousands of years to see how things actually play out."

Hartigan said stellar jets are different because they move very quickly. Stellar jets blast out into space from the poles of newly formed stars at about 600,000 miles an hour. Astronomers first noticed them about 50 years ago, and they believe the sun probably had stellar jets when it formed about 4.5 billion years ago..."

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Recycling Billboards into Modern Residential Buildings

1:25:57 AM, Saturday, September 03, 2011

"As more and more advertising goes online and transportation conservation becomes an increasing economic and ecological concern, what is the future fate of the infamous billboard? One proposal by Front Architects suggests turning these into lofted homes – small houses to be sure, but located in some potentially fascinating places.

Some of these unusually thin homes could be built in place from scratch, others could be transported to new locations or even left where they are in the urban environment.

Alas, the above image is only a computer-generated overlay in a real situation. Still, what would it be like to live in somewhere so public yet also removed from the street level? Somewhere surrounded by four walls and lifted up from the ground but at the same time exposed on all sides? Somewhere so strange but central?"

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Alien Life More Likely on 'Dune' Planets, Study Suggests

1:21:27 AM, Saturday, September 03, 2011

"Desert planets like the one depicted in the science fiction classic "Dune" might be the most common type of habitable planet in the galaxy, rather than watery worlds such as Earth, a new study suggests.

And that's not the only surprising result.

The study also hints that scorching-hot Venus, where surface temperatures average 860 degrees Fahrenheit (460 degrees Celsius), might have been a habitable desert world as recently as 1 billion years ago.

Follow the water?

Nearly everywhere there is water on Earth, there is life. The search for life elsewhere in the universe has been guided by this fact, largely focusing on "aqua planets" with a lot of liquid water on their surfaces.

These worlds could be terrestrial planets largely covered with oceans, such as Earth, or theoretical "ocean planets" completely covered by a layer of water hundreds of miles deep, somewhat like thawed versions of Jupiter's icy moon Ganymede.

To be habitable, aqua planets must orbit their stars in a so-called "Goldilocks zone" where they are neither too hot nor too cold. If they are too far from the sun, they freeze. If they are too close, steam builds up in their atmospheres, trapping heat that vaporizes still more water, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect that boils all the oceans off the planet, as apparently happened on Venus.

Eventually, such planets get so hot, they force water vapor high enough into the atmosphere that it gets split into hydrogen and oxygen by ultraviolet light. The hydrogen then escapes into space, the oxygen likely reacts with the molten surface and gets incorporated into the mantle, and the planet's atmosphere loses all its water over time.

Instead of aqua planets with abundant water on their surfaces, researchers investigated what "land planets" might be like, ones with no oceans and vast dry deserts, but perhaps oases here and there. The planet Arrakis depicted in the science fiction classic "Dune" is one exceptionally well-developed example of a habitable land planet, said planetologist Kevin Zahnle at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif..."

-- DUNE!!!

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Why Does Muammar Qaddafi Own a Mansion in New Jersey?

1:13:32 AM, Saturday, September 03, 2011

"As General Muammar Qaddafi continues to evade the Libyan rebels who chased him out of Tripoli last week, there has been some tongue-in-cheek speculation about the possibility of him fleeing all the way to his five-acre estate in—wait for it—Englewood, New Jersey.

Almost thirty years ago, in 1982, the Libyan government paid a million bucks for this three-story, 10,000 square foot, 25-bedroom mansion, which they inexplicably named “Thunder Rock,” on Palisade Avenue in Englewood, a suburb in Bergen County. It’s a bizarre choice of neighborhood for a government that has made a habit of bankrolling terrorists and talking about how much they hate Israel, considering it’s right smack in the middle of a sizeable Orthodox Jewish community. In fact, Thunder Rock is directly next door to the largest yeshiva in town, and just a short walk from the home of one Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who, if in case you missed that episode of Oprah, is an outspoken leader in the American Jewish community and a former spiritual mentor to Michael Jackson.

Thunder Rock was originally purchased as a summer retreat for the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. and his or her family, but it was never really used, and in the last decade or so, the now multi-million dollar pad had mostly wallowed in obscurity, with a few notable exceptions. In 1985, it was the subject of a prolonged legal battle, which ended with the court decision that the Libyan government would not have to pay property taxes on the place.

It was a decision that rankled New Jerseyans, especially when, twenty-four years later, in 2009, Qaddafi proposed setting up his air-conditioned Bedouin tent—he always travels with one—on the mansion’s front lawn. The little camping trip would, the Englewood mayor predicted, cost residents an estimated $20,000 per day in police presence and garbage removal..."

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Oldest Fossils On Earth Discovered

12:07:55 AM, Saturday, September 03, 2011

"Earth's oldest fossils have been found in Australia by a team from the University of Western Australia and Oxford University. The microscopic fossils show convincing evidence for cells and bacteria living in an oxygen-free world over 3.4 billion years ago.

The team, led by Dr David Wacey of the University of Western Australia and including Professor Martin Brasier of Oxford University, report the finding in the journal Nature Geoscience.

'At last we have good solid evidence for life over 3.4 billion years ago. It confirms there were bacteria at this time, living without oxygen,' says Professor Brasier of the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford.

Earth was still a hot, violent place at this time, with volcanic activity dominating the early Earth. The sky was cloudy and grey, keeping the heat in despite the sun being weaker than today. The water temperature of the oceans was much higher at 40-50 degrees -- the temperature of a hot bath -- and circulating currents were very strong. Any land masses were small, or about the size of Caribbean islands, and the tidal range was huge.

Significantly, there was very little oxygen present as there were no plants or algae yet to photosynthesise and produce oxygen. The new evidence points to early life being sulfur-based, living off and metabolizing compounds containing sulfur rather than oxygen for energy and growth.

'Such bacteria are still common today. sulfur bacteria are found in smelly ditches, soil, hot springs, hydrothermal vents -- anywhere where there's little free oxygen and they can live off organic matter,' explains Professor Brasier..."

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Astronomy Picture of the Day: Stars and Dust Across Corona Australis

12:01:15 AM, Friday, September 02, 2011

-- "Cosmic dust clouds sprawl across a rich field of stars in this sweeping telescopic vista near the northern boundary of Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. Probably less than 500 light-years away and effectively blocking light from more distant, background stars in the Milky Way, the densest part of the dust cloud is about 8 light-years long. At its tip (upper right) is a group of lovely reflection nebulae cataloged as NGC 6726, 6727, 6729, and IC 4812. A characteristic blue color is produced as light from hot stars is reflected by the cosmic dust. The smaller yellowish nebula (NGC 6729) surrounds young variable star R Coronae Australis. Magnificent globular star cluster NGC 6723 is toward the upper right corner of the view. While NGC 6723 appears to be part of the group, it actually lies nearly 30,000 light-years away, far beyond the Corona Australis dust clouds. "

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