Tackling Mysteries About Carbon, Possible Oil Formation And More Deep Inside Earth
|1:02:01 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"How do diamonds the size of potatoes shoot up at 40 miles per hour from their birthplace 100 miles below Earth's surface? Does a secret realm of life exist inside the Earth? Is there more oil and natural gas than anyone dreams, with oil forming not from the remains of ancient fossilized plants and animals near the surface, but naturally deep, deep down there? Can the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, be transformed into a pure solid mineral?
Those are among the mysteries being tackled in a real-life version of the science fiction classic, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, that was among the topics of a presentation here today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Russell Hemley, Ph.D., said that hundreds of scientists will work together on an international project, called the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO), to probe the chemical element that's in the news more often than perhaps any other. That's carbon as in carbon dioxide.
"Concerns about climate change have made millions of people aware of carbon's role on the surface of the Earth, in the atmosphere and in the oceans," Hemley said. "The Deep Carbon Observatory will uncover critical information about the movement and fate of carbon hundreds and thousands of miles below Earth's surface. We call that the deep carbon cycle."
Hemley said this basic research could have practical implications in the future. Using laboratory equipment that reproduces pressures deep within the Earth, which are thousands to millions of times higher than on the surface, scientists in these labs have discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide into a rock-like material called polymeric carbon dioxide. With further refinements, scientists could enhance its stability closer to the Earth's surface..."
The Prettiest Boy in the World
|12:52:01 AM, Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
"One evening in late July, a fashion model in very short shorts was walking down Lafayette Street when a middle-aged guy in a baseball cap, pudgy and plodding, stopped dead in his tracks.
“Hey! Hey, you!” he called out in a thick Brooklyn accent, sidling up. “Are you a model?”
The model peered down at him and gamely grinned. “I am.”
“You’re gorgeous.” The man whistled through his teeth. “Shoot! Where are you, you know, illustrated in?”
“Oh, different places,” the model demurred.
“Well, you got my vote,” the guy said. “Man!” He shook his head in amazement and reluctantly continued down the street, completely unaware that the woman he had just encountered was not a woman at all but was in fact Andrej Pejic, a male model who has garnered much attention in the fashion world for his recent success modeling women’s clothing. That day, in addition to the shorts, Pejic was sporting a lacy black blouse over a black tank top, long blond hair, and smoky eyes. He had just come from a shoot for a Spanish magazine where he had shown to good effect a number of items generally considered to be in women’s domain: a floor-length wrap dress, a fur coat, a wide-brimmed felt hat, and, toward the end of the day, a rosy lip stain.
“What color did you use on his lips?” one of the women milling about the studio had asked the makeup artist.
“It’s sort of a berry,” he’d answered, at which point she ducked into the changing room and began dabbing the same shade on her own pout.
And so in moments like the one on Lafayette Street, when Pejic is the object of a clearly heterosexual advance, he does not usually choose to disabuse the potential suitor of his confusion, in part because he knows that the mistake is a fair one. When he first showed up at the Chadwick agency in Melbourne, Australia, the town where he grew up, he was quickly signed and just as quickly told he would be unlikely to find much work in the relatively macho Australian market: He was too beautiful to be an obvious choice for men’s campaigns, but he was not actually a woman. The next year, after Pejic graduated from high school and moved to London, his extreme androgyny made it difficult for him even to secure a British agent. “I remember it was raining and horrible,” he tells me. “I was walking in a street without an umbrella—it was a really dramatic, kind of movie moment—and I was just like, ‘Oh my God, I came to London, I spent my mom’s money, I’m not even gonna get an agency.’ ” He giggles in a low register and continues, “It was like Madonna going to Hollywood.” At Storm, the fifth agency he visited, owner Sarah Doukas—known for discovering Kate Moss—decided to take a chance on him. “When I first met Andrej, I didn’t think, What a beautiful boy or girl,” Doukas says. “I certainly didn’t want to put him in one particular box.” The agency posted him not just on the men’s board but also on the women’s..."
Sutureless Method for Joining Blood Vessels Invented
|11:32:57 PM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
"Reconnecting severed blood vessels is mostly done the same way today -- with sutures -- as it was 100 years ago, when the French surgeon Alexis Carrel won a Nobel Prize for advancing the technique. Now, a team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a sutureless method that appears to be a faster, safer and easier alternative.
In animal studies, a team led by Stanford microsurgeon Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, used a poloxamer gel and bioadhesive rather than a needle and thread to join together blood vessels, a procedure called vascular anastomosis. Results of the research are published online Aug. 28 in Nature Medicine. Lead authors of the study were Stanford postdoctoral scholar Edward Chang, MD, and surgery resident Michael Galvez, MD.
The big drawback of sutures is that they are difficult to use on blood vessels less than 1 millimeter wide. Gurtner began thinking about alternatives to sutures about a decade ago. "Back in 2002, I was chief of microsurgery at Bellevue in New York City, and we had an infant -- 10 to 12 months old -- who had a finger amputated by the spinning wheel of an indoor exercise bike," said Gurtner, senior author of the study and professor of surgery. "We struggled with reattaching the digit because the blood vessels were so small -- maybe half a millimeter. The surgery took more than five hours, and at the end we were only able to get in three sutures.
"Everything turned out OK in that case," he continued. "But what struck me was how the whole paradigm of sewing with a needle and thread kind of falls apart at that level of smallness."
Sutures are troublesome in other ways, too. They can lead to complications, such as intimal hyperplasia, in which cells respond to the trauma of the needle and thread by proliferating on the inside wall of the blood vessel, causing it to narrow at that point. This increases the risk of a blood clot getting stuck and obstructing blood flow. In addition, sutures may trigger an immune response, leading to inflamed tissue that also increases the risk of a blockage..."
Aziz Ansari Blasts The The World's Shittiest Mixtape
|1:46:53 PM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
-- Aziz Ansari is forced to carry around a boombox playing the world's shittiest mixtape.
Lockheed Martin Delivers Third Production C-5M Super Galaxy To USAF
|1:10:08 PM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
"Lockheed Martin has completed delivery of the third production C-5M Super Galaxy to the U.S. Air Force. The sixth C-5M overall to be delivered to the Air Force, this aircraft will undergo internal paint restoration at Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., before traveling to its permanent home at Dover AFB, Del.
In July, the C-5M Super Galaxy became the first U.S. airlifter to perform a polar overflight direct from Dover AFB to Afghanistan.
Lockheed Martin is on contract to modernize a total of 52 C-5s, consisting of 49 B-, two C- and one A-model aircraft through the Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP).
The program incorporates more than 70 changes and upgrades, including newer, quieter General Electric engines making the C-5M more reliable and 10 percent more fuel efficient than legacy C-5s.
The Super Galaxy is America's premier global direct delivery weapon system and the only strategic airlifter capable of linking the homeland directly to the warfighter in all theaters of combat without refueling..."
The First Nuclear Power Plant For Settlements On Moon, Mars
|12:10:02 AM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
"The first nuclear power plant being considered for production of electricity for manned or unmanned bases on the Moon, Mars and other planets may really look like it came from outer space, according to a leader of the project who spoke here today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
James E. Werner said that innovative fission technology for surface power applications is far different from the familiar terrestrial nuclear power stations, which sprawl over huge tracts of land and have large structures such as cooling towers.
"People would never recognize the fission power system as a nuclear power reactor," said Werner. "The reactor itself may be about 1 1/2 feet wide by 2 1/2 feet high, about the size of a carry-on suitcase. There are no cooling towers. A fission power system is a compact, reliable, safe system that may be critical to the establishment of outposts or habitats on other planets. Fission power technology can be applied on Earth's Moon, on Mars, or wherever NASA sees the need for continuous power."
The team is scheduled to build a technology demonstration unit in 2012. This is a cooperative project between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Werner leads the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory involvement in this effort, which includes participation in the reactor design and modeling teams, fuel development and fabrication and development of a small electrical pump for the liquid metal cooled system.
Sunlight and fuel cells were the mainstays for generating electricity for space missions in the past, but engineers realized that solar energy has limitations. Solar cells do a great job supplying electricity in near-Earth orbits and for satellite-borne equipment, but nuclear power offers some unique capabilities that could support manned outposts on other planets or moons..."
Kiteboarding Hurricane Irene
|12:02:04 AM, Monday, August 29, 2011|
How Unrelated Wasps Succeed by Helping Others Breed
|11:44:19 PM, Sunday, August 28, 2011|
"Why do some animals help to rear the young of an unrelated individual without any apparent benefit to themselves?
Animals that choose not to reproduce, but instead help non-relatives to breed, represent a challenge to evolutionary theory. How do these animals pass on the genes that make them so altruistic, if they are not breeding themselves or rearing genetically-related offspring? Shouldn't these genes be removed by natural selection?
It's an evolutionary puzzle that University of Sussex research may now have shed new light upon through studying the reproductive behaviour of the paper wasp (Polistes dominulus).
According to Inclusive Fitness Theory, social animals can benefit in the reproductive stakes even if they don't breed themselves by helping to rear offspring produced by a related female, such as their sister or mother (ie social insects such as bees). This is because the offspring of these relatives will be their brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews, and so will share at least some of their genes.
The paper wasp, however, does not fit this model, because wasps often help non-relatives to breed*. A relatively primitive species, the paper wasp sometimes rears its own young in a solitary nest, but often forms a social nest with other individuals, where one egg-laying female is dominant and the other wasps assist in rearing the offspring. Why would unrelated wasps help their competitors instead of breeding for themselves?"
Canada Seeks Stealthy Snowmobile, For No Good Reason
|11:12:26 PM, Sunday, August 28, 2011|
"The Canadian government wants a stealth snowmobile. Just, apparently, because.
It’s not as if Canada has any alpine enemies to sneak up on with shadowy, frigid cavalry. But that’s not going to stop the Canadian Department of National Defence from spending a half million dollars on a prototype.
The secret to the intended stealth capabilities of the snowmobile: a hybrid engine and a quieter electric motor. According to a solicitation from the department, the vehicle has to be able to travel 15 kilometers in its electric mode at an average speed of 20 kilometers per hour. Alas, hybrid snowmobiles aren’t commercially available yet, but the department wants a prototype model by March 31.
Why Canada needs a stealth snowmobile is a question best not asked. The solicitation laments that current snowmobile engines are too loud for “missions where covertness may be required,” but doesn’t bother to list any.
Maybe it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The Canadian government has been bolstering its military strength in its arctic regions — which must come as a jarring contrast for Canadian veterans of Afghanistan. While there’s been breathless media hype about a Coming Arctic War, that hypothetical conflict is a naval struggle borne of new northern sea lanes, created by global warming. Snowmobiles need not apply..."
Genetic Evidence Clears Ben Franklin
|10:58:01 PM, Sunday, August 28, 2011|
"The DNA evidence is in, and Ben Franklin didn't do it. Genetic tests on more than 1,000 Chinese tallow trees from the United States and China show the famed U.S. statesman did not import the tallow trees that are overrunning thousands of acres of U.S. coastal prairie from Florida to East Texas.
"It's widely known that Franklin introduced tallow trees to the U.S. in the late 1700s," said Rice University biologist Evan Siemann, co-author the new study in this month's American Journal of Botany. "Franklin was living in London, and he had tallow seeds shipped to associates in Georgia."
What Franklin couldn't have known at the time was that tallow trees would overachieve in the New World. Today, the trees are classified as an invasive species. Like Asian carp in the Great Lakes and kudzu vines in the eastern U.S., the trees are spreading so fast that they're destroying native habitats and causing economic damage.
Each tallow tree can produce up to a half million seeds per year. That fertility is one reason Franklin and others were interested in them; each seed is covered by a waxy, white tallow that can be processed to make soap, candles and edible oil.
Siemann, professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology at Rice, has spent more than 10 years compiling evidence on the differences between U.S. and Chinese tallow trees. For example, the insects that help keep tallow trees in check in Asia do not live in the U.S., and Siemann and his colleagues have found that the U.S. trees invest far less energy in producing chemicals that ward off insects. They've also found that U.S. trees grow about 30 percent faster than their Chinese kin..."
Will the Space Station be Abandoned?
|10:10:31 PM, Sunday, August 28, 2011|
"Like the Mary Celeste, the International Space Station (ISS) could be floating empty, devoid of humans by November. However, unlike the Mary Celeste, we'll know exactly what happened to the crew.
In the wake of the Russian Progress vehicle crash shortly after launch on Aug. 24, a chain of events has been set into motion that could result in the decision not to fly astronauts into orbit. If this happens, the ISS will be temporarily mothballed before the end of the year to avoid landing astronauts during the harsh Kazakh winter.
Investigations are under way as to why the motor of the third stage of the Soyuz-U rocket switched off early, preventing Progress M-12M from reaching orbit. The unmanned cargo vehicle crashed minutes later in Siberia, 1,000 miles east of the launch site in Kazakhstan. Fortunately, there were no reported casualties on the ground.
So why are there concerns about getting astronauts into orbit when the failure happened to the rocket carrying an unmanned vehicle?
Well, the Soyuz-U rocket's third stage is almost identical to equipment used on the Soyuz-FG booster used to propel manned Soyuz vehicles to the ISS. Yes, those are the same taxi rides NASA now depends on to get U.S. astronauts to the orbiting outpost.
In fact, since the retirement of the shuttle fleet, it is currently the only human-rated ride into space on the planet.
According to Spaceflight Now, the Russian space agency Roscosmos is carrying out an inquiry into the agency's plans for their manned spaceflight program, space manufacturing quality and a board has been set up to recommend corrective actions..."
Russian Space Station Cargo Ship Crashes
|10:03:22 PM, Sunday, August 28, 2011|
"A Russian supply ship carrying cargo for the International Space Station on Wednesday failed to reach orbit shortly after blast-off, with reports saying it may have crashed into the Earth.
The unmanned Progress-M-12M vessel was carrying several tonnes of supplies for the international crew on board the space station but failed to reach the correct orbit, Russian space agency Roskosmos said.
"According to preliminary information, on the 325th second, there was an operating problem with the propulsion system that led to its emergency shutdown," Roskosmos said in a statement.
"The Progress M-12M cargo craft was not placed in its assigned orbit," said the two-sentence statement.
The Interfax news agency quoted a source as saying it may have crashed into Siberia while RIA Novosti said it could have hit Russia's Altai region on the border with Mongolia and China.
RIA Novosti quoted a local official in the Gorni Altai region as saying a blast had been heard at a distance of 100 kilometers but there were no reports of casualties..."
-- Damn! With US shuttle gone this is not good news at all. Soyuz-U rocket's third stage is almost identical to equipment used on the Soyuz-FG booster used to propel manned Soyuz vehicles to the ISS.
|4:43:28 PM, Saturday, August 27, 2011|
-- I got a feeling I'll be posting much more of this beast. Follow link for full size.
The Wombats – Techno Fan
|4:27:47 PM, Saturday, August 27, 2011|
Orange Goo At Alaskan Village Found To Be Fungal Spores, Not Eggs
|4:11:13 PM, Saturday, August 27, 2011|
"The orange goo that took over the shore of a remote Alaskan village is actually a mass of fungal spores — not microscopic eggs, as scientists at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration first believed.
But researchers are not yet sure whether this particular type of rust fungus is one of the 7,800 species of rust fungi that have already been identified. For one thing, its spores have unusual spines covering their surface.
"At this point, the best identification we can give to as the origin of these spores is a rust fungus," says Steve Morton, Ph.D., who works in the NOAA lab in Charleston, S.C., that conducted the full analysis. "The spores are unlike others we and our network of specialists have examined; however, many rust fungi of the Arctic tundra have yet to be identified."
Samples of the orange substance were sent to labs at NOAA's Alaska Fisheries facility, which initially determined that the goo was actually a mass of microscopic eggs, and to NOAA's National Ocean Service Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston.
Scientists at the South Carolina facility who analyzed the microbiological phenomena with electron scanning microscopes and other equipment "determined that the substance is consistent with spores from a fungi that cause rust," according to a NOAA press release..."
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