Morgan Three Wheeler - One Minute of Pure Sound
|3:16:38 AM, Friday, April 27, 2012|
-- Always loved this thing! Great short clip.
NASA Wants Your Help in Finding Asteroids
|3:11:05 AM, Friday, April 27, 2012|
“(phys.org, April 20, 2012) If you are an amateur astronomer who likes a challenge, NASA has a new project and is looking for a little help from their amateur astronomers friends. Called called “Target Asteroids!” the project is part of the upcoming OSIRIS-REx mission to improve basic scientific understanding of Near Earth Objects. NASA is hoping amateur astronomers can help in the mission by discovering new asteroids and studying their characteristics to help better characterize the population of NEOs. NASA says amateur contributions will affect current and future space missions to asteroids.
Amateur astronomers can help determine the position, motion, rotation and changes in the intensity of light asteroids emit. Professional astronomers will use this information to refine theoretical models of asteroids, improving their understanding about asteroids similar to the one OSIRIS-Rex will encounter.
OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer) is scheduled to launch 2016 and will be a sample return mission from an asteroid, 1999 RQ36. When it meets up with the asteroid in 2019, it will map the asteroid’s global properties, measure non-gravitational forces and provide observations that can be compared with data obtained by telescope observations from Earth. In 2023, OSIRIS-REx will return back to Earth at least 2.11 ounces (60 grams) of surface material from the asteroid.
Target Asteroids! data will be useful for comparisons with actual mission data. The project team plans to expand participants in 2014 to students and teachers.
“Although few amateur astronomers have the capability to observe 1999 RQ36 itself, they do have the capability to observe other targets,” said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md…”
Polar Bears Evolutionarily Five Times Older and Genetically More Distinct: Ancestry Traced Back 600,000 Years
|3:07:20 AM, Friday, April 27, 2012|
“ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2012) — A study appearing in the current issue of the journal Science reveals that polar bears evolved as early as some 600,000 years ago. An international team led by researchers from the German Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) shows the largest arctic carnivore to be five times older than previously recognized. The new findings on the evolutionary history of polar bears are the result of an analysis of information from the nuclear genome of polar and brown bears, and shed new light on conservation issues regarding this endangered arctic specialist.
Polar bears are uniquely specialized for life in the arctic. This fact is undisputed, and supported by a range of morphological, physiological and behavioural evidence. However, conducting research on the evolutionary history of polar bears is difficult. The arctic giant spends most of its life on sea ice, and typically also dies there. Its remains sink to the sea floor, where they get ground up by glaciers, or remain undiscovered. Fossil remains of polar bears are therefore scarce. Because the genetic information contained in each organism carries a lot of information about the past, researchers can study the history of the species by looking at the genes of today's polar bears.
Analysis of the genetic information in the cell nucleus
Recent studies had suggested that the ancestor of polar bears was a brown bear that lived some 150,000 years ago, in the late Pleistocene. That research was based on DNA from the mitochondria - organelles often called the 'powerhouses of the cell'. Researchers from the German Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), together with scientists from Spain, Sweden and the USA, now took an in-depth look at the genetic information contained in the cell nucleus. Frank Hailer, BiK-F, lead author of the study explains: "Instead of the traditional approach of looking at mitochondrial DNA we studied many pieces of nuclear DNA that are each independently inherited. We characterized those pieces, or genetic markers, in multiple polar and brown bear individuals."
Polar bears had much more time for adaptation and speciation than previously assumed
This genetic survey was well worth the effort - the information obtained from nuclear DNA indicates that polar bears actually evolved in the mid Pleistocene, some 600,000 years ago. This provides much more time for the polar bear ancestors to colonize and adapt to the harsh conditions of the arctic. Based on studies of mitochondrial DNA, polar bears had earlier been considered an example of surprisingly rapid adaptation of a mammal to colder climates. The polar bear's specific adaptations, including its black skin, white fur, and fur-covered feet now seem less surprising. "In fact, the polar bear genome harbours a lot of distinct genetic information," says Hailer, "which makes a lot of sense, given all the unique adaptations in polar bears."
Maternally inherited (mitochondrial) DNA was showing a biased picture
Previous studies of mitochondrial DNA had indicated that polar bears are much younger as a species. The authors of the new paper in "Science" explain this apparent discrepancy with past events of hybridization between polar and brown bears - a process recently observed in the Canadian arctic. After their initial speciation, polar bears and brown bears came into contact again, maybe due to past climatic fluctuations. The mitochondrial DNA found in polar bears today was probably inherited from a brown bear female that hybridized with polar bears at some point in the late Pleistocene. It appears that much of the nuclear genome remained unaffected by hybridization, so polar bears retained their genetic distinctiveness…”
Non-Native Forest Species 'Extending Growing Season'
|3:00:31 AM, Friday, April 27, 2012|
“(BBC 26 April 2012) Non-native plant species are extending the growing season in eastern US forests by an average of four weeks, a study has suggested.
There was no difference in the start of growing during the spring, but the report found a noticeable difference between native and non-native species in the autumn.
This could have a profound impact on forest ecosystems, such as how soil nutrients are absorbed, the paper says.
The findings are published by Nature.
"There is a bit of a saying in these parts that if you go for a hike in March and you see something green, then it is an invader," said author Jason Fridley, an ecologist at Syracuse University, US.
"So I thought I would invest little bit of my time to quantify that if the invaders were waking up a little earlier in the spring, and were keeping their leaves longer in the fall, what was the significance to their ecology and their ability to get into the forests."
Prof Fridley said that his experiment, carried out over three years and involving more than 70 species, actually revealed that there was not a signal of non-native species coming into leaf earlier than native species during the spring…”
Tiny Sharks Provide Glowing Clue
|2:42:18 AM, Friday, April 27, 2012|
“(BBC, 26 April 2012) Tiny sharks in South East Asia have helped scientists to understand the origins of glowing shark species.
A number of deep-dwelling sharks have special light-emitting organs on their undersides that allow them to glow.
A study of pygmy sharks now suggests the ability to control the trick evolved from a shallow water ancestor.
Dr Julien Claes from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium led the research.
He said: "bioluminescence remains one of the most mysterious areas of shark biology."
The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
According to Dr Claes more than 10% of currently described shark species are luminous.
Scientists refer to the glow as "counter-illumination": without it, anything looking upwards for a meal would easily see the sharks' bodies silhouetted against the bright sky above.
Previous studies have shown that lantern sharks, named for their glow, also use this ability to communicate.
By producing a hormone called prolactin, the sharks can exhibit bursts of blue light, which they use to communicate with others in dark water, where visual clues are minimal…”
Splatters of Molten Rock Signal Period of Intense Asteroid Impacts on Earth
|2:32:21 AM, Friday, April 27, 2012|
“(April 25, 2012, phys.org) New research reveals that the Archean era — a formative time for early life from 3.8 billion years ago to 2.5 billion years ago — experienced far more major asteroid impacts than had been previously thought, with a few impacts perhaps even rivaling those that produced the largest craters on the Moon, according to a paper published online today in Nature.
The fingerprints of these gigantic blasts are millimeter- to centimeter-thick rock layers on Earth that contain impact debris: sand-sized droplets, or spherules, of molten rock that rained down from the huge molten plumes thrown up by mega-impacts. This barrage of asteroids appears to have originated in an extended portion of the inner asteroid belt that is now mostly extinct. Computer models suggest the zone was likely destabilized about 4 billion years ago by the late migration of the giant planets from the orbits they formed on to where we find them today.
The team conducting this study includes members or associates of the NASA Lunar Science Institute's Center of Lunar Origin and Evolution (CLOE), based at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colo.
Archean rocks are scarcer than rocks of any other age, and impact spherule beds have been found only in terrains where conditions were ideal for capture and preservation, such as in shales deposited on the seafloor below the reach of waves. At least 12 spherule beds deposited between 3.47 and 1.7 billion years ago (Ga) have been found, with most in the Archean; 7 between 3.23-3.47 Ga, 4 between 2.49-2.63 Ga and 1 between 1.7-2.1 Ga…”
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.
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…”
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