Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Techmology and Scientism => Topic started by: Kai on July 30, 2008, 10:04:06 pm

Title: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on July 30, 2008, 10:04:06 pm
July 30, 2008

The Nature of Glass Remains Anything but Clear

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

It is well known that panes of stained glass in old European churches are thicker at the bottom because glass is a slow-moving liquid that flows downward over centuries.

Well known, but wrong. Medieval stained glass makers were simply unable to make perfectly flat panes, and the windows were just as unevenly thick when new.

The tale contains a grain of truth about glass resembling a liquid, however. The arrangement of atoms and molecules in glass is indistinguishable from that of a liquid. But how can a liquid be as strikingly hard as glass?

http://snipurl.com/37ch9

AIDS Deaths Down 10 Percent in 2007

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The number of AIDS deaths worldwide dropped 10 percent in 2007 because of increasing access to treatment, as did the number of new infections in children, the United Nations reported today.

Condom use and prevention efforts increased in many countries and adolescent sex declined in some of the most heavily affected regions, the report says.

... Despite these gains, however, the overall number of new infections during the year remained constant at about 2.7 million, fueled by increases in countries including China, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Russia and Vietnam.

http://snipurl.com/37cjj

Canadian Arctic Sheds Ice Chunk

from BBC News Online

A large chunk of an Arctic ice shelf has broken free of the northern Canadian coast, scientists say.

Nearly 20 sq km (eight sq miles) of ice from the Ward Hunt shelf has split away from Ellesmere Island, according to satellite pictures. It is thought to be the biggest piece of ice shed in the region since 60 sq km of the nearby Ayles ice shelf broke away in 2005.

Scientists say further splitting could occur during the Arctic summer melt. The polar north is once again experiencing a rapid ice retreat this year, although many scientists doubt the record minimum extent of 4.13 million sq km (1.59 million sq miles) of sea-ice seen in 2007 will be beaten.

http://snipurl.com/37nlt 

When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Shows Early Promise

from USA Today

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—For the first time, an experimental drug shows promise for halting the progression of Alzheimer's disease by taking a new approach: breaking up the protein tangles that clog victims' brains.

The encouraging results from the drug called Rember, reported Tuesday at a medical conference in Chicago, electrified a field battered by recent setbacks. The drug was developed by Singapore-based TauRx Therapeutics.

Even if bigger, more rigorous studies show it works, Rember is still several years away from being available, and experts warned against overexuberance. But they were excited.

http://snipurl.com/37cp6

Ancient Ocean Cooling Sparked a Biodiversity Boom

from National Geographic News

More than 400 million years ago, Earth's dramatically warmer sea temperatures plummeted to almost present-day levels, opening the door for a boom in biodiversity, new research shows.

The cooler seas—which occurred during the Ordovician period—created a more hospitable environment for a range of species, researchers say.

The find might also foreshadow a biodiversity crisis if the planet continues to warm due to climate change.

http://snipurl.com/37cub

Bees Help Police Close in on Serial Killers

from New Scientist

You might not think it, but bumblebees and serial killers have something in common: neither like to divulge their address and both tend to stay close to home. Now a study of the habits of one could be used to track down the other.

Geographical profiling (GP) is a technique used by the police to find serial offenders. The search is narrowed down using two common traits: most attacks happen fairly close to the perpetrator's home, but beyond a "buffer zone" that prevents the attacker being recognised or noticed by neighbours.

By mapping out the locations of crime scenes, police aim to identify the buffer zone and prioritise their search in this area.

http://snipurl.com/37cxr

Bracing the Satellite Infrastructure for a Solar Superstorm

from Scientific American

As night was falling across the Americas on Sunday, August 28, 1859, the phantom shapes of the auroras could already be seen overhead. From Maine to the tip of Florida, vivid curtains of light took the skies.

Startled Cubans saw the auroras directly overhead; ships' logs near the equator described crimson lights reaching halfway to the zenith. Many people thought their cities had caught fire. Scientific instruments around the world, patiently recording minute changes in Earth's magnetism, suddenly shot off scale, and spurious electric currents surged into the world's telegraph systems.

... The impact of the 1859 [solar] storm was muted only by the infancy of our technological civilization at that time. Were it to happen today, it could severely damage satellites, disable radio communications and cause continent-wide electrical blackouts that would require weeks or longer to recover from.

http://snipurl.com/37d17

Statins 'May Cut Dementia Risk'

from BBC News Online

Scientists have found further evidence that taking commonly used cholesterol-lowering statins may protect against dementia and memory loss.

The study, published in Neurology, found that statins—normally taken to reduce heart disease risk—may cut the risk of dementia by half.

The five-year project examined 1,674 Mexican Americans aged 60 and over at heightened risk of dementia. The Alzheimer's Research Trust said the research is "encouraging."

http://snipurl.com/37crl

The Web's Best 'Happy Birthday' Cards for NASA

from the Christian Science Monitor

NASA turned 50 yesterday. On July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed his name to the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating the agency that brought man to the moon, satellites to distant planets, and landers to Mars.

No NASA milestone would be complete without tons of multimedia coverage.

So, to help ring in this golden jubilee, the Monitor has brought together some of the best multimedia NASA-birthday coverage from across the web.

http://snipurl.com/37d
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on July 31, 2008, 03:04:41 pm
Just a note on this thread:

I get an email with this sent from my graduate adviser weekly. Some of the news is fail, but most of it is fairly interesting. I don't know if you all care, but I'm putting it out there anyway.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cramulus on July 31, 2008, 03:35:21 pm
Very interesting reading! Thanks Kai!

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on July 31, 2008, 04:31:33 pm
Quote
When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

This is the one that interests me the most... and how it seems to run counter to the IDEAL of "I want a job where I'm doing something I like."

Is all action-for-pay doomed to become "work" even if we enjoyed the action before we got paid for it?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Daruko on July 31, 2008, 04:43:16 pm
Good thread.  Interesting articles.   I'll add to it, if you don't mind.

3D Printing for the Masses
http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/21152/?a=f (http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/21152/?a=f)
Shapeways, a new online service, aims to bring customized manufacturing to the masses by allowing consumers to submit digital designs of products that are then printed, using 3-D printers, and shipped back, at prices typically between $50 and $150.

While some 3-D printing services already exist, they are geared to professionals familiar with rendering designs in software suitable for 3-D printers. Shapeways makes this process far easier. Its proprietary software checks customers' designs to ensure that they are printable, and it tweaks them if necessary.


Gene surveys identify schizophrenia triggers
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080730/full/news.2008.994.html (http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080730/full/news.2008.994.html)
Researchers in two large-scale multinational studies have found that rare genetic changes are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.

The International Schizophrenia Consortium studied the genomes of 3,391 patients with schizophrenia, looking for a specific type of genetic error called a "copy number variation (CNV)," in which a section of the genome has been deleted or duplicated. In the other study, the SCENE consortium cataloged all the CNVs between 15,000 parents and their children and looked for matches with the CNVs of over 4,600 schizophrenia patients.

Both studies found genetic deletions in chromosomes 1, 15 and 22. These deletions are associated with a greatly increased risk of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia affects around 1 in every 100 people at some point during their lives. Genetic factors are thought to account for more than 70% of cases.


Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on July 31, 2008, 04:50:58 pm
Quote
When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

This is the one that interests me the most... and how it seems to run counter to the IDEAL of "I want a job where I'm doing something I like."

Is all action-for-pay doomed to become "work" even if we enjoyed the action before we got paid for it?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on July 31, 2008, 05:54:37 pm
When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

This is especially interesting to me because it may help explain why so many full-time lampers I know find their creativity and production stifled by doing custom work.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on July 31, 2008, 09:12:09 pm
Good thread.  Interesting articles.   I'll add to it, if you don't mind.

3D Printing for the Masses
http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/21152/?a=f (http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/21152/?a=f)
Shapeways, a new online service, aims to bring customized manufacturing to the masses by allowing consumers to submit digital designs of products that are then printed, using 3-D printers, and shipped back, at prices typically between $50 and $150.

While some 3-D printing services already exist, they are geared to professionals familiar with rendering designs in software suitable for 3-D printers. Shapeways makes this process far easier. Its proprietary software checks customers' designs to ensure that they are printable, and it tweaks them if necessary.


Gene surveys identify schizophrenia triggers
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080730/full/news.2008.994.html (http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080730/full/news.2008.994.html)
Researchers in two large-scale multinational studies have found that rare genetic changes are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.

The International Schizophrenia Consortium studied the genomes of 3,391 patients with schizophrenia, looking for a specific type of genetic error called a "copy number variation (CNV)," in which a section of the genome has been deleted or duplicated. In the other study, the SCENE consortium cataloged all the CNVs between 15,000 parents and their children and looked for matches with the CNVs of over 4,600 schizophrenia patients.

Both studies found genetic deletions in chromosomes 1, 15 and 22. These deletions are associated with a greatly increased risk of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia affects around 1 in every 100 people at some point during their lives. Genetic factors are thought to account for more than 70% of cases.



What, he's good for something!  No fucking way!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 01, 2008, 02:09:16 am
Guess it was (semi) daily and not weekly. so, postings whenever I get them.

July 31, 2008
As Olympics Near, Beijing Still Can't Beat Pollution

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

BEIJING -- Despite removing 1.5 million cars from the roads, shutting down hundreds of factories and construction sites and bringing much of the city's economic life to a standstill, Beijing remains stubbornly shrouded in a persistent, gray haze on the eve of the Summer Olympics.

The poor air quality just 11 days before the opening ceremonies has left Chinese government officials scrambling for explanations that include statistical anomalies and the 90-plus-degree heat.

The state-run China Daily reported Monday that the Chinese government may be forced to implement an "emergency plan" if air quality hasn't improved 48 hours before the Games begin Aug. 8. One possible measure would expand the recently implemented system that allows cars on the road only on odd or even days, depending on license plate numbers, to a ban of up to 90 percent of private traffic.

http://snipurl.com/37ot1

Eclipses in Ancient China Spurred Science, Beheadings?

from National Geographic News

The Olympics aren't the only epic event occurring in China next month. A total solar eclipse, the first since 2006, will turn day to night on Friday, the first of August.

The eclipse will also be visible in parts of northern Canada, Greenland (Denmark), Siberia (Russia), and Mongolia. Many Chinese will celebrate the celestial event with parties and viewing festivities—but it wasn't always so.

The Chinese have a long, sophisticated history of charting the skies and have recorded eclipses for thousands of years. The events were once considered ill omens and, if the ancient records are to be believed, dramatic eclipses may have caused more than one unfortunate astrologer to lose his head.

http://snipurl.com/37tm1

Thin Films: Ready for Their Close-Up?

from Nature News

From the 1950s onwards, big chunks of crystalline silicon have dominated the world of solar cells. But the dominance of these traditional cells—which make up 90 percent of today's 10-gigawatt-a-year installation market—is now being challenged by 'thin-film' solar cells that are micrometres or mere nanometres thick, and frequently made of materials other than silicon.

Some argue that such a change in technology is the only way that solar-cell technology can hope to maintain the 50 percent annual growth it has enjoyed during the past five years.

... Most thin-film cells sold today still use silicon, but in its amorphous, rather than crystalline, form. This makes the cells thin and cheap but costs them half or more of their efficiency compared with traditional designs. The hope, and to some extent the hype, is focused on new technologies.

http://snipurl.com/37tom

Nature's Chronic Boozers

from Science News

Out boozing for several hours every night—that would be drinking like a tree shrew. Except the tree shrews can scurry a straight line afterward.

The pentailed tree shrews (Ptilocercus lowii) of Malaysia average more than two hours each night sipping palm nectar that has naturally fermented, report Frank Wiens of the University of Bayreuth in Germany and his colleagues in the July 29 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is the first recorded case of chronic alcohol consumption by a wild mammal," Wiens says. ... But tree shrews may not have the same metabolism as humans when it comes to detoxifying alcohol.

http://snipurl.com/37tr1

After the Tragedy: Vent? Not Necessarily

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

"The more [Virginia Tech students] can talk about what they've lived through, the more that they can be encouraged to emote ... that gives them some security and insulation against burying those feelings and then having them surprise them later in life."

In the aftermath of the April 16, 2007, fatal shootings of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech, [Keith] Ablow was simply voicing post-Freudian conventional wisdom: When something horrible happens, vent.

... But hold on a minute. That has simply not been proved true for all people in all circumstances, [Mark] Seery says. His most recent research, in the June issue of Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, shows that after a large-scale traumatic event, such as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, quickly talking about one's emotions isn't necessarily for the best.

http://snipurl.com/37ouv

Termite Bellies and Biofuels

from Smithsonian Magazine

Falk Warnecke peered down through a mounted magnifying glass and poked gently at a small pile of bugs. ... With a pair of fine-tipped forceps, he grabbed one of the insects at the base of its thorax and lifted it off the block. It was brown, and hardly bigger than an eyelash. With a second forceps, he pinched the end of its abdomen. He tugged gently, and pulled it in two. A shiny, reddish string slid smoothly out of the exoskeleton.

... The gut has bulbous chambers that are swollen with vast quantities of microbes that the termites employ to break down cellulose from the wood or grass the insects consume. When he's not calling termites "cute little animals," he refers to them as "walking bioreactors," and considers their juicy interiors a kind of liquid gold.

For now, he's interested only in the biggest bulb on the string, what's known as the third proctodeal segment, or, in the vernacular of microbial ecology, the "hindgut paunch." This microliter-sized compartment ... is home to a distinct community of microbes that some people think may help solve the energy crisis.

http://snipurl.com/37tt5

Scientists Confirm Liquid Lake, Beach on Saturn's Moon Titan

from Scientific American

Just in time for a summer holiday, scientists have discovered the solar system's newest beach destination. Too bad there's no way to get there—at least not easily. Researchers report in Nature today that they identified a dark liquid lake, surrounded by a lighter shoreline and a "beach," on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.

The foot-shaped lake is the first verified extraterrestrial body of liquid, and is likely filled with hydrocarbons, simple compounds also common on Earth.

"This is the first definitive evidence for both liquid and liquid hydrocarbons on Titan," says lead study author Robert Brown, a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) in Tucson.

http://snipurl.com/37tw2

Gene Mutations Reveal Schizophrenia's Complexity

from New Scientist

The three largest genetic schizophrenia studies to date have uncovered several ways in which changes to the genome may increase the risk of developing the mental disorder.

The studies bring to light several common variations that increase the risk slightly, and rarer ones that raise it significantly, researchers say.

While previous studies have suggested several genes with roles in schizophrenia, small sample sizes gave these findings limited statistical significance. Most recently, differences in copy number variations (CNVs) ... were identified between healthy and schizophrenic people. But the study was too small to implicate specific CNVs in causing the disease.

http://snipurl.com/37txk

Ancient Greek 'Computer' Displayed Olympics Calendar

from the Guardian (UK)

An ancient Greek "computer" used to calculate the movements of the sun, moon and planets has been linked to Archimedes after scientists deciphered previously hidden inscriptions on the device.

X-ray images of the bronze mechanism, which was recovered from a shipwreck more than a century ago, also revealed a sporting calendar that displays the cycle of the prestigious "crown" games, including the Olympics, which were held every four years.

Corroded remains of the device were found in 1901 by spongedivers, who happened upon the shipwreck of a Roman merchant vessel while sheltering from a storm near the tiny Greek island of Antikythera. The ship, which was laden with treasures from the Greek world including bronze statues, pottery and glassware, is believed to have met its fate in the notoriously dangerous stretch of water en route to Italy.

http://snipurl.com/37u1a

Not Quite Rocketeer, but Jet Pack's a Start

from the Seattle Times

OSHKOSH, Wis. — This isn't how a jet pack is supposed to look, is it?

Hollywood has envisioned jet packs as upside-down fire extinguishers strapped to people's backs. But Glenn Martin's invention is more unwieldy: a 250-pound piano-size contraption that people settle into rather than strap on.

As thousands watched Tuesday, the New Zealand inventor's 16-year-old son donned a helmet, fastened himself to a prototype Martin jet pack and revved the engine, which sounded like a motorcycle. Harrison Martin eased about 3 feet off the ground, the engine roaring with a whine so loud that some kids covered their ears.

http://snipurl.com/37u47
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: singer on August 01, 2008, 02:56:48 am

This is the one that interests me the most... and how it seems to run counter to the IDEAL of "I want a job where I'm doing something I like."

Is all action-for-pay doomed to become "work" even if we enjoyed the action before we got paid for it?


Probably in sombunal cases generally,  but certainly in mosbunal cases where the standards for approval are raised as soon as money changes hands.

All those little girls who like to play with hair and little boys who like to mess with engines get tons of praise and encouragement as long as they are giving haircuts and cleaning carburetors for free, but as soon as their friends have to pay for the service, they become critical and demanding, and that sucks all the fun out of it because that was the pay off... the praise.... the rush of being validated by others.

Given enough adjustment time sombunal make the transition to a monetary pay off.  It probably isn't as inherently gratifying as all the validating praise, but at least they're making money doing what they USED to do for the love of it.

As opposed to doing something they outright loathe to make money.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 01, 2008, 07:05:24 am
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cain on August 01, 2008, 10:18:13 am
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.

Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: singer on August 01, 2008, 11:33:31 am


Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.

...and yet... there they are.... all the time, looking for their little nitpicky points to score so they can start a 'lamewar' in order to feel somehow superior.  Hence the pre-emptive linguistic "I already SAID "not all" so that maybe a conversational concept could be furthered without the need for everyone to stop and wet their pance at the incredible unique special specialness of whoever is gonna jump in first and say "I'm not most people".

Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

(edit=typo)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on August 01, 2008, 01:07:24 pm
Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

what?

- triplezero,
text message generation
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: singer on August 01, 2008, 01:33:35 pm
Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

what?

- triplezero,
text message generation

If you were a real thumbtyper that would have been "wht".... or just "?"  (ok.. maybe "???")
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cain on August 01, 2008, 01:33:40 pm


Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.

...and yet... there they are.... all the time, looking for their little nitpicky points to score so they can start a 'lamewar' in order to feel somehow superior.  Hence the pre-emptive linguistic "I already SAID "not all" so that maybe a conversational concept could be furthered without the need for everyone to stop and wet their pance at the incredible unique special specialness of whoever is gonna jump in first and say "I'm not most people".

Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

(edit=typo)

They'll do it anyway.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 01, 2008, 02:03:53 pm
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.


The redundancy, I feel, is there to underscore the fact that the following will be conditional.  Many people (but not all of them, lol) glaze over standard conditional phrases and jump to the assumption that a blanket statement is being made.  Sombunal and Mosbunal are, to me, good ways of clarifying.

But don't use it if you don't want to.  I don't care.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 01, 2008, 02:21:40 pm
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/world/asia/01algae.html

Story about the huge algal bloom in China. I can't find the species name but it seems to be one of the more prolific marine greens (Division: Chlorophyta). If it was a bluegreen (Division: Cyanophyta), the other group that tends to have these massive filamentous blooms, the toxins coming off this bloom would have been highly destructive, kinda like dinoflagellates can do (Division: Dinophyta). The only recorded people ever killed by algae were two kids done in by bluegreen toxins.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on August 01, 2008, 02:55:21 pm
Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

what?

- triplezero,
text message generation

If you were a real thumbtyper that would have been "wht".... or just "?"  (ok.. maybe "???")

stop playing dumb. there is no significant character limit on forum posts. you're generalizing retardedness and laziness over an entire generation.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Daruko on August 01, 2008, 03:13:20 pm
Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

what?

- triplezero,
text message generation

If you were a real thumbtyper that would have been "wht".... or just "?"  (ok.. maybe "???")

stop playing dumb. there is no significant character limit on forum posts. you're generalizing retardedness and laziness over an entire generation.

 :kingmeh:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: singer on August 01, 2008, 03:46:26 pm
Meh.  I blame it on the text message generation.

what?

- triplezero,
text message generation

If you were a real thumbtyper that would have been "wht".... or just "?"  (ok.. maybe "???")

stop playing dumb. there is no significant character limit on forum posts. you're generalizing retardedness and laziness over an entire generation.

I don't think I am.  What I am saying is that the habit of reducing full sentences to acronymic representation is a function of a habit promulgated through the use of certain technologies, and you will find this habit adopted most readily by the grouping of individuals employing said technologies.

I'm pretty sure there are ample examples of laziness and retardation throughout a broad cross section of all generations.

(edited for clarity)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 01, 2008, 05:18:01 pm
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.

Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.

Yeah, I just feel like it just encourages lazy reading and degenerating reading comprehension levels when the writer uses made-up words as replacements for already-existing words that mean the same thing, just because many people are too lazy to learn to read carefully and thoroughly.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 01, 2008, 05:19:25 pm
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.


The redundancy, I feel, is there to underscore the fact that the following will be conditional.  Many people (but not all of them, lol) glaze over standard conditional phrases and jump to the assumption that a blanket statement is being made.  Sombunal and Mosbunal are, to me, good ways of clarifying.

But don't use it if you don't want to.  I don't care.

It's just been a peeve that's been stewing for a while, since I first encountered the terms in November. I just finally had to let it out. I'm done now.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 01, 2008, 06:38:00 pm
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.

Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.

Yeah, I just feel like it just encourages lazy reading and degenerating reading comprehension levels when the writer uses made-up words as replacements for already-existing words that mean the same thing, just because many people are too lazy to learn to read carefully and thoroughly.

But the thing is, usually those words are used because people are too lazy to learn to read carefully and thoroughly.  Using an unusual word pokes the reader into acknowledging the specific meaning of the sentence.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 01, 2008, 06:48:12 pm
You know, not as a criticism of you specifically, but just in general, "Some" already does not mean "all", and neither does "Most". I have always thought those were the lamest attempts at new vocabulary.

Yes. If people are too stupid to realize that, they should not be on the internet, or go outside without adult supervision.

Yeah, I just feel like it just encourages lazy reading and degenerating reading comprehension levels when the writer uses made-up words as replacements for already-existing words that mean the same thing, just because many people are too lazy to learn to read carefully and thoroughly.

But the thing is, usually those words are used because people are too lazy to learn to read carefully and thoroughly.  Using an unusual word pokes the reader into acknowledging the specific meaning of the sentence.

...creating an endless self-perpetuating cycle of laziness and words designed to stimulate the lazy...
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 01, 2008, 06:48:38 pm
August 1, 2008
Test of Mars Soil Sample Confirms Presence of Ice

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Heated to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, a sample of soil being analyzed by NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander let out a puff of vapor, providing final confirmation that the lander is sitting over a large chunk of ice.

“We’ve now finally touched it and tasted it,” William V. Boynton, a professor at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona and the lead scientist for the instrument that detected the water, said at a news conference on Thursday. “And I’d like to say, from my standpoint, it tastes very fine.”

The main goal of the lander is to analyze ice in the northern arctic plains. Since it arrived on the planet on May 25, scientists have visually seen what they were almost certain was ice: a flat, shiny patch beneath the lander and tiny white chunks in a trench dug by the lander’s robotic arm.

http://snipurl.com/38uhg

Alarm Raised on Security Flaw in Internet's Basic Structure

from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

Since a secret emergency meeting of computer security experts at Microsoft's headquarters in March, Dan Kaminsky has been urging companies around the world to fix a potentially dangerous flaw in the basic plumbing of the Internet.

While Internet service providers are racing to fix the problem, which makes it possible for criminals to divert computer users to fake Web sites where personal and financial information can be stolen, Kaminsky worries that they have not moved quickly enough.

By his estimate, roughly 41 percent of the Internet is still vulnerable. Now Kaminsky, a technical consultant who first discovered the problem, has been ramping up the pressure on companies and organizations to make the necessary software changes before criminal hackers take advantage of the flaw. Next week, he will take another step by publicly laying out the details of the flaw at a security conference in Las Vegas.

http://snipurl.com/37u6i

Ancient T. Rex Tissue, or Just Old Slime?

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Soft, organic material discovered inside a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil that scientists believed was 70-million-year-old dinosaur tissue may have been nothing more than ordinary slime, scientists said in a study published Wednesday.

Researchers reported in the online journal PLoS ONE that bacterial colonies infiltrating tiny cavities in the bones long after the dinosaurs died may have naturally molded into shapes resembling the tissues they replaced. Carbon dating performed on one sample showed that the tissue-like material was modern, circa 1960.

After further examination with light and electron microscopy, researchers concluded that the substances were most likely remnants of biofilms, or layers of bacterial cells and the sticky molecules they secrete. The finding sparked a strong response from the researchers who originally said they had found ancient dinosaur tissue.

http://snipurl.com/38fzx

Drug Gives Couch Potato Mice Benefits of a Workout

from the San Francisco Examiner

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Here's a couch potato's dream: What if a drug could help you gain some of the benefits of exercise without working up a sweat? Scientists reported Thursday that there is such a drug - if you happen to be a mouse.

Sedentary mice that took the drug for four weeks burned more calories and had less fat than untreated mice. And when tested on a treadmill, they could run about 44 percent farther and 23 percent longer than untreated mice.

Just how well those results might translate to people is an open question. But someday, researchers say, such a drug might help treat obesity, diabetes and people with medical conditions that keep them from exercising.

http://snipurl.com/38g1e

Geological Mapping Gets Joined Up

from BBC News Online

The world's geologists have dug out their maps and are sticking them together produce the first truly global resource of the world's rocks.

The OneGeology project pools existing data about what lies under our feet and has made it available on the web. Led by the British Geological Survey (BGS), the project involved geologists from 80 nations.

Between 60 percent and 70 percent of the Earth's surface is now available down to the scale of 1:1,000,000. "That's 1cm for every 10km of the Earth's surface," explained Ian Jackson from the BGS and leader of the OneGeology Project. "With that resolution, people can focus in on a small part of their city."

http://snipurl.com/38g5w

FDA Finds Salmonella Strain on Mexican Pepper Farm

from USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration came closer Wednesday to cracking the mystery of a massive salmonella outbreak with a finding of contaminated serrano peppers and irrigation water on a farm in Mexico.

The FDA said consumers should avoid fresh serrano peppers from Mexico and products containing them. It also reiterated its earlier warning that consumers avoid fresh jalapeno peppers from Mexico.

The new findings lend weight to the FDA's theory that several foods may be causing the outbreak, which has sickened more than 1,300 people nationwide since April. They also are the case's first positive samples of the rare salmonella saintpaul strain found in Mexico, a major chile pepper supplier to the USA.

http://snipurl.com/38g4j

Stem Cell Advance Turns Skin Cells into Nerve Cells

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Researchers are one step closer to reprogramming skin cells into tailor-made, healthy replacements for diseased cells.

Applying the technique first developed by James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, scientists at Harvard and Columbia universities reported online Thursday in the journal Science that they had turned skin cells from two elderly patients with the neurodegenerative disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) into motor neurons, the nerve cells that become damaged in ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

This is the first time that scientists have coaxed embryonic-like cells from adult patients suffering from a genetic-based disease, then induced the cells to form the specific cell types that would be needed to study and treat the disease.

http://snipurl.com/38ujo

Big Bang Ripples Formed Universe's First Stars

from National Geographic News

Ripples in the early universe following the big bang 13.7 billion years ago caused gases to coalesce into the luminous seeds of the first stars, a new computer simulation reveals.

Such stellar embryos, or protostars, were the universe's first astronomical objects and its first sources of light.

Previous telescope observations have shown that very distant—and thus very old—cosmic objects contain heavy elements such as carbon and iron, which are formed only by the nuclear reactions inside full-grown stars. This suggests that massive stars must have existed even earlier in the universe's history than telescopes can see. Until now, the earliest stages of primordial star formation had not been modeled in detail.

http://snipurl.com/38ghn

Wake-Up Call for Sleep Apnea

from Science News

A common breathing disorder that disrupts sleep also, over time, increases the risk of death, a study in the August Sleep suggests. But people who use a nighttime breathing apparatus face less risk, the research shows.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder marked by gaps in breathing during sleep that rob the blood of oxygen until a person gasps for air. People with apnea stop breathing many times in an hour, which can jar them out of restful sleep and wreak havoc with blood pressure, heart rate and internal stress responses.

In the United States, about one in six people may have sleep apnea, with one-fourth of those cases severe, Terry Young, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, estimates.

http://snipurl.com/38ull

Anthrax Scientist Commits Suicide as FBI Closes In

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- A top U.S. biodefense researcher apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that traumatized the nation in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a published report.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., had been told about the impending prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported for Friday editions. The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. The Times, quoting an unidentified colleague, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine. Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told The Associated Press that another of his brothers, Charles, told him Bruce had committed suicide.

http://snipurl.com/38une


Also, whatever to the current discussion.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on August 01, 2008, 08:47:35 pm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jul/31/energyefficiency.energy

Scientists have found an inexpensive way to produce hydrogen from water, a discovery that could lead to a plentiful source of environmentally friendly fuel to power homes and cars.

The technique, which mimics the way photosynthesis works in plants, also provides a highly efficient way to store energy, potentially paving the way to making solar power more economically viable.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on August 02, 2008, 01:15:29 pm
for those wondering about the security vuln in "the internet's basic structure":

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/07/the_dns_vulnera.html

gives a bit more detailed and interesting writeup about the event.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 02, 2008, 05:39:33 pm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jul/31/energyefficiency.energy

Scientists have found an inexpensive way to produce hydrogen from water, a discovery that could lead to a plentiful source of environmentally friendly fuel to power homes and cars.

The technique, which mimics the way photosynthesis works in plants, also provides a highly efficient way to store energy, potentially paving the way to making solar power more economically viable.

Thats actually really cool. Biologically inspired technology is the way of the future.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: rong on August 02, 2008, 07:48:57 pm
I don't think I am.  What I am saying is that the habit of reducing full sentences to acronymic representation is a function of a habit promulgated through the use of certain technologies, and you will find this habit adopted most readily by the grouping of individuals employing said technologies.

I'm pretty sure there are ample examples of laziness and retardation throughout a broad cross section of all generations.

(edited for clarity)

man, when i first discovered horseradish mustard, i put it on EVERYTHING.  after a while, i got tired of it. 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Requia ☣ on August 02, 2008, 11:07:11 pm
My favorite part about the big internet vuln is that its apparently been known since before I was born, people just now got around to caring  :lulz:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on August 03, 2008, 07:50:20 pm
My favorite part about the big internet vuln is that its apparently been known since before I was born, people just now got around to caring  :lulz:

no it's been around since the early days of the internet (which may have been before you were born), but it hasn't been discovered until about 6 months ago.

personally i'm more surprised by the fact that nobody ever noticed that Debian Linux never generated more than 32,768 distinct SSH keys for all these years (should have been into the several zillion billion trillions, but they made a bug. making everything very vulnerable. heh. it's fixed now.)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 04, 2008, 04:10:03 pm
August 4, 2008
Anthrax Case Renews Questions on Bioterror Effort

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON—Until the anthrax attacks of 2001, Bruce E. Ivins was one of just a few dozen American bioterrorism researchers working with the most lethal biological pathogens, almost all at high-security military laboratories.

Today, there are hundreds of such researchers in scores of laboratories at universities and other institutions around the United States, preparing for the next bioattack.

But the revelation that F.B.I. investigators believe that the anthrax attacks were carried out by Dr. Ivins, an Army biodefense scientist who committed suicide last week after he learned that he was about to be indicted for murder, has already re-ignited a debate: Has the unprecedented boom in biodefense research made the country less secure by multiplying the places and people with access to dangerous germs?

http://snipurl.com/3aimh

Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Turns out, it is a small world.  The "small world theory," embodied in the old saw that there are just "six degrees of separation" between any two strangers on Earth, has been largely corroborated by a massive study of electronic communication.

With records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people from around the world, researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances.

The database covered all of the Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006, or roughly half the world's instant-messaging traffic at that time, researchers said.

http://snipurl.com/3aju6

Sweet Peas Make a Second Skin

from the Guardian (UK)

Might sweet peas and a polymer help reduce disfiguring skin contractions after a skin graft? Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering at the University of Sheffield, thinks so. Thanks to a compound called beta-aminopropionitrile found in sweet peas, plastic surgeons may soon replace uncomfortable pressure garments with a drug-containing polymer gel.

MacNeil is also behind the development of an artificial skin scaffold. Now, she and her colleagues have turned to an ages-old problem with skin grafts that shrink, become lumpy and, for children with burns, give real problems as they grow.

She's combining polymer chemistry with tissue engineering—a technical challenge in itself—along with a desire to do something clinically useful.

http://snipurl.com/38g89

Stinging Tentacles Offer Hint of Oceans’ Decline

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

BARCELONA, Spain—Blue patrol boats crisscross the swimming areas of beaches here with their huge nets skimming the water's surface. The yellow flags that urge caution and the red flags that prohibit swimming because of risky currents are sometimes topped now with blue ones warning of a new danger: swarms of jellyfish.

In a period of hours during a day a couple of weeks ago, 300 people on Barcelona's bustling beaches were treated for stings, and 11 were taken to hospitals.

From Spain to New York, to Australia, Japan and Hawaii, jellyfish are becoming more numerous and more widespread, and they are showing up in places where they have rarely been seen before, scientists say. ...
But while jellyfish invasions are a nuisance to tourists and a hardship to fishermen, for scientists they are a source of more profound alarm, a signal of the declining health of the world's oceans.

http://snipurl.com/3aimo

Inventors Flock to File Patents in U.S.

from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

GENEVA (Associated Press)—The United States is again the favored destination to patent inventions after 43 years in which Japan and the now-defunct Soviet Union held the lead, a U.N. report said Thursday.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office received nearly a quarter of the 1.76 million patents filed worldwide in 2006—the latest years for which figures are available—according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO.

The Soviet Union briefly overtook the U.S. in 1964 at a time when technology was seen as the key to winning the space race—not to mention more mundane battles back on Earth. By 1970 Japan eclipsed both the superpowers, holding onto its lead until 2005.

http://snipurl.com/38gec

Genetically Modified Olympians?

from the Economist

For as long as people have vied for sporting glory, they have also sought shortcuts to the champion's rostrum. Often, those shortcuts have relied on the assistance of doctors. After all, most doping involves little more than applying existing therapies to healthy bodies.

These days, however, the competition is so intense that existing therapies are not enough. Now, athletes in search of the physiological enhancement they need to take them a stride ahead of their opponents are scanning medicine's future, as well as its present. In particular, they are interested in a field known as gene therapy.

Gene therapy works by inserting extra copies of particular genes into the body. These extra copies, known as "transgenes," may cover for a broken gene or regulate gene activity. Though gene therapy has yet to yield a reliable medical treatment, more than 1,300 clinical trials are now under way. As that number suggests, the field is reckoned to be full of promise.

http://snipurl.com/38ggc

Rescued Dog Blazes a Surgical Trail

from the (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer

Three years ago, Cassidy Posovsky was a three-legged German shepherd mix hobbling homeless around the Bronx. Thursday morning, he was a medical pioneer getting fitted with a cutting-edge prosthetic that could one day help thousands of veterans and others who lose limbs in trauma.

If all goes well, Cassidy's artificial leg will fuse into his bone, and he should be on all fours in months—paving the way for veterinary orthopedic surgeons at N.C. State University to start working with doctors for human implantation.

With more than 1.3 million veterans seeking prosthetics from the Department of Veterans Affairs each year, and more service members in Iraq and Afghanistan wounded every day, the need for improved limb-replacement technology is becoming more acute. Futuristic technologies such as computerized legs, microprocessor knees and bionic nerve systems have become top priorities of VA research.

http://snipurl.com/38x2c

Light Goes Out on Pioneer Machine

from BBC News Online

The pioneering Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS) based at the Daresbury Laboratory in Warrington, UK, will be switched off on Monday.

The machine, which probed the structure of materials down to the molecular and atomic level, developed the technology now used in some 60 centres worldwide. Its X-ray science has been behind new drugs and electronics, and was used in Nobel-winning research on cell energy.

UK synchrotron studies have now moved to the Diamond centre in Oxfordshire. Daresbury's future is envisioned as an innovation super-centre, where scientific ideas can better make the leap to business.

http://snipurl.com/3aira

AIDS Survey Signals 'Downturn in Treatment'

from USA Today

Half of AIDS patients worldwide appear to be stopping their medication or failing to begin treatment because of side effects from therapy, researchers will report today.

The survey of nearly 3,000 patients from 18 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas represents a sweeping effort to track patient attitudes about their social concerns and treatment, with side effects ranging from disfiguring fatty deposits to drug toxicity to clogged arteries.

... A separate study, released over the weekend, shows that thousands more people are getting HIV each year than experts realized. "The epidemic is—and has been—worse than was previously known," says Kevin Fenton, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The government's tally of the year-by-year impact of the AIDS epidemic offers the first clear picture of HIV in the USA. It appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

http://snipurl.com/3aivg

World's Smallest Snake Discovered, Study Says

from National Geographic News

The world's smallest snake—and perhaps the smallest possible snake—has been discovered on the Caribbean island of Barbados, a new study says.

At about ten centimeters long (less than four inches), the diminutive reptile might easily be mistaken for an earthworm, and could comfortably curl up on a U.S. quarter, researchers say.

A second new species, only slightly larger, was found on the neighboring island of St. Lucia. Genetic tests and studies of the snakes' physical features identified the animals as new species, said biologist Blair Hedges of Penn State university, who led the study team.

http://snipurl.com/3aize 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 04, 2008, 04:16:52 pm

Stinging Tentacles Offer Hint of Oceans’ Decline

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

BARCELONA, Spain—Blue patrol boats crisscross the swimming areas of beaches here with their huge nets skimming the water's surface. The yellow flags that urge caution and the red flags that prohibit swimming because of risky currents are sometimes topped now with blue ones warning of a new danger: swarms of jellyfish.

In a period of hours during a day a couple of weeks ago, 300 people on Barcelona's bustling beaches were treated for stings, and 11 were taken to hospitals.

From Spain to New York, to Australia, Japan and Hawaii, jellyfish are becoming more numerous and more widespread, and they are showing up in places where they have rarely been seen before, scientists say. ...
But while jellyfish invasions are a nuisance to tourists and a hardship to fishermen, for scientists they are a source of more profound alarm, a signal of the declining health of the world's oceans.

http://snipurl.com/3aimo


For some reason, the thought of swarms of jellyfish is awesome to me.  Yes, I know it sucks to be stung by one... I've been a victim.

So I dunno why, but... yeah.  I'd love to watch this happen.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Daruko on August 04, 2008, 05:08:20 pm
Instant-Messagers Really Are About Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Turns out, it is a small world.  The "small world theory," embodied in the old saw that there are just "six degrees of separation" between any two strangers on Earth, has been largely corroborated by a massive study of electronic communication.

With records of 30 billion electronic conversations among 180 million people from around the world, researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances.

The database covered all of the Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006, or roughly half the world's instant-messaging traffic at that time, researchers said.

http://snipurl.com/3aju6
RELATED:

In the "largest social network constructed and analyzed to date," Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University researchers investigated (http://research.microsoft.com/~horvitz/Messenger_graph_www.htm) Maximise Your Easy Hyper Links - Video Tutorials Plus Free Link Cloaker  on a planetary scale the oft-cited report that people are separated by "six degrees of separation."

Based on 30 billion Microsoft Messenger instant-message conversations among 240 million people, the study found that the average path length among Messenger users was 6.6.

"Researchers have concluded that any two people on average are distanced by just 6.6 degrees of separation, meaning that they could be linked by a string of seven or fewer acquaintances," a Washington Post article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/01/AR2008080103718.html) stated.

However, one publication, eFluxMedia, suggested the study was "heavily misinterpreted (http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_Microsoft_Instant_Messaging_Study_Heavily_Misinterpreted_21440.html)" by the media.

"MSN Messenger users are not a random group of people. Their use of the Redmond company's instant messaging tool is already a selection which raises chances they can connect to each other in fewer hops. Furthermore, instant messaging itself is not a measure of real life connections. Also, somebody can have many contacts in their instant messenger client, without actually knowing them. Microsoft researchers considered acquaintances people who sent each other at least one message. But with the mass messages going around, that's hardly an accurate way of determining connections between people."

In a related story, questioning the validity of inferences from potentially skewed or incomplete data, last week, Microsoft posted videos of a test involving about 140 randomly chosen computer users who had low opinions of Vista viewing a demo of a "new operating system" called "Mojave" (actually Vista), finding they liked it.

Nevertheless, the New York Time stated (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/04/technology/04vista.html?ref=technology), "many bloggers had problems with how the Mojave Experiment was conducted. The main complaint was: is 10 minutes of watching an expert demonstrate Vista a valid basis on which to assess it?"



SOURCE: Berkeley Lab news release (http://www.lbl.gov/publicinfo/newscenter/pr/2008/ALS-fast-holograms.html)
An international group of scientists has produced two of the brightest, sharpest x-ray holograms of microscopic objects ever made, thousands of times more efficiently than previous x-ray-holographic methods.
(http://www.lbl.gov/publicinfo/newscenter/pr/assets/img/X-Ray-holography/hologram-schematic-sm.jpg)
The two experiments demonstrate that massively parallel holographic x-ray images with nanometer-scale resolution can be made of objects measured in microns, in times as brief as femtoseconds, using a pinhole array.

By knowing the precise layout of a pinhole array, including the different sizes of the different pinholes, a computer can recover a bright, high-resolution image numerically.

The researchers believe the holograms could be pushed to only a few nanometers, or, using computer refinement, even better.



SOURCE: Wired Science (http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/rumors-abound-a.html)
Rumors are flying this weekend that Mars Phoenix has made a major discovery relating to the potential for life on Mars.
(http://www.aviationweek.com/media/images/space_images/NASA/Phoenix/Phoenixsepttrenchiunivariz-nasa-jpl.jpg)
The White House has been alerted by NASA (http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/WH08018.xml&headline=White%20House%20Briefed%20On%20Potential%20For%20Mars%20Life&channel=space) about plans to make an announcement soon on major new Phoenix lander discoveries concerning the "potential for life" on Mars, scientists told Aviation Week & Space Technology.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 05, 2008, 04:40:23 pm
http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2008/08/glow_in_the_dark_mollusk_used.php

Glowing gastropods allow detection of human sickness before onset of symptoms.

How cool is that?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Daruko on August 05, 2008, 04:58:14 pm
Screensaver reveals new test for synaesthesia

Caltech scientist Melissa Saenz has found that with certain visual stimuli, from moving dots to flashes of light, people described simple abstract sounds such as tapping, thumping, whirring or whooshing.

I tried it, and it didn't work on me.  I'd be curious to hear it work on someone here.
Synesthesia test (http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1250579695/bclid1252300654/bctid1709855746)

Original Article (http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/dn14459-screensaver-reveals-new-test-for-synaesthesia.html?feedId=online-news_rss20)


Invention: Exoskeleton for grannies

Yoshiyuki Sankai at the University of Tsukuba has developed an exoskeleton for a single arm that can improve the strength and utility of aging limbs.
(http://technology.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn14457/dn14457-1_250.jpg)
The device consists of a tabard worn over the shoulders with a motorized exoskeleton for one arm attached. The exoskeleton senses the angle, torque and nerve impulses in the arm and then assists the user to move his or her shoulder and elbow joints accordingly.

Original Article (http://technology.newscientist.com/channel/tech/dn14457-invention-exoskeleton-for-grannies.html?feedId=online-news_rss20)


A first in integrated nanowire sensor circuitry

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have created the world's first all-integrated sensor circuit based on nanowire arrays, combining light sensors and electronics made of different crystalline materials.

Their method can be used to reproduce numerous such devices with high uniformity.

Original Article (http://www.physorg.com/news137088634.html)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 07, 2008, 11:42:33 pm
August 5, 2008
Medication Increasingly Replaces Psychotherapy, Study Finds

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Wider use of antidepressants and other prescription medications has reduced the role of psychotherapy, once the defining characteristic of psychiatric care, according to an analysis published today.

The percentage of patients who received psychotherapy fell to 28.9 percent in 2004-05 from 44.4 percent in 1996-97, the report in Archives of General Psychiatry said.

Researchers attributed the shift to insurance reimbursement policies that favor short medication visits compared with longer psychotherapy sessions, and to the introduction of a new generation of psychotropic medications with fewer side effects.

http://snipurl.com/3b3xi

Male Dominance Is No Guarantee of Genetic Success

from New Scientist

Genghis Khan spread his seed so liberally that nearly a tenth of men now living in the former Mongolian empire trace their ancestry back to the 13th-century warrior. However, a new analysis suggests that most socially dominant males contribute no more to the genetic pool than do their supposed inferiors.

"An individual really doesn't have the opportunity to set up things so their genetic information pervades the gene pool a long time in the future," says mathematician Joseph Watkins, of the University of Arizona in Tucson. "It could happen because life is chaotic."

Theories on how genes flow through populations of organisms generally support this idea, which has been dubbed neutrality. But some anthropologists argue that cultural dominance can seal a man's legacy. For instance, a rich and powerful father can ensure the status of his sons and grandsons.

http://snipurl.com/3b4l5

To Heal the Wounded

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

The pictures show shredded limbs, burned faces, profusely bleeding wounds. The subjects are mostly American G.I.'s, but they include Iraqis and Afghans, some of them young children.

They appear in a new book, "War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Series of Cases, 2003-2007," quietly issued by the United States Army—the first guidebook of new techniques for American battlefield surgeons to be published while the wars it analyzes are still being fought.

Its 83 case descriptions from 53 battlefield doctors are clinical and bone dry, but the gruesome photographs illustrate the grim nature of today's wars, in which more are hurt by explosions than by bullets, and body armor leaves many alive but maimed. And the cases detail important advances in treating blast amputations, massive bleeding, bomb concussions and other front-line trauma.

http://snipurl.com/3b3wj

Soil Tests on Mars Spawn a Mystery

from the Arizona Daily Star

If you plant asparagus in Martian soil, will it grow? That's the question perplexing scientists with the UA-led Phoenix Mars Mission, who are trying to comprehend contradictory results from a series of soil tests that show the red planet's surface to be both friendly and unfriendly to life.

The seeming paradox was announced just days after mission scientists confirmed the presence of water in Mars' northern arctic region, a key finding as officials try to determine whether the red planet could support life.

Chemistry test results announced on Monday show that soil recently collected for the lander's wet chemistry lab contained perchlorate, an oxidizing agent that's the primary ingredient for jet fuel. The presence of perchlorate in the soil would be hazardous to plant life and undermine a preliminary hypothesis supported by test results from the same chemistry lab.

http://snipurl.com/3b44b

U.S. Panel Questions Prostate Screening

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The blood test that millions of men undergo each year to check for prostate cancer leads to so much unnecessary anxiety, surgery and complications that doctors should stop testing elderly men, and it remains unclear whether the screening is worthwhile for younger men, a federal task force concluded yesterday.

In the first update of its recommendations for prostate cancer screening in five years, the panel that sets government policy on preventive medicine said that the evidence that the test reduces the cancer's death toll is too uncertain to endorse routine use for men at any age, and that the potential harm clearly outweighs any benefits for men age 75 and older.

"The benefit of screening at this time is uncertain, and if there is a benefit, it's likely to be small," said Ned Calonge, who chairs the 16-member U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. It published the new guidelines today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "And on the other side, the risks are large and dramatic."

http://snipurl.com/3b3tw

A Dance of Environment and Economics in the Everglades

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—When Florida officials announced a plan last month to save the Everglades by buying United States Sugar and its 187,000 acres, they knew that the success of their plan could be defined by Alfonso Fanjul and his brother J. Pepe Fanjul.

The Fanjuls' family-run sugar company, Florida Crystals, owns what the state wants: about 35,000 acres needed to recreate the River of Grass’s historic water flow from Lake Okeechobee south to the Everglades.

State officials have said they hope to trade some of United States Sugar's assets for the Fanjuls' property, and in their first interview since the deal was announced, the Fanjuls said they were "on board"—but with a few caveats.

http://snipurl.com/38fy9

Primates 'Face Extinction Crisis'

from BBC News Online

A global review of the world's primates says 48 percent of species face extinction, an outlook described as "depressing" by conservationists. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species says the main threat is habitat loss, primarily through the burning and clearing of tropical forests.

More than 70 percent of primates in Asia are now listed as Endangered, it adds. The findings form part of the most detailed survey of the Earth's mammals, which will be published in October.

Other threats include hunting of primates for food and the illegal wildlife trade, explained Russell Mittermeier, chairman of global conservation group IUCN's Primate Specialist Group and president of Conservation International.

http://snipurl.com/3b461

Superbugs

from the New Yorker

In August, 2000, Dr. Roger Wetherbee, an infectious-disease expert at New York University's Tisch Hospital, received a disturbing call from the hospital's microbiology laboratory.

At the time, Wetherbee was in charge of handling outbreaks of dangerous microbes in the hospital, and the laboratory had isolated a bacterium called Klebsiella pneumoniae from a patient in an intensive-care unit.
 
"It was literally resistant to every meaningful antibiotic that we had," Wetherbee recalled recently. The microbe was sensitive only to a drug called colistin, which had been developed decades earlier and largely abandoned as a systemic treatment, because it can severely damage the kidneys. "So we had this report, and I looked at it and said to myself, 'My God, this is an organism that basically we can't treat.'"

http://snipurl.com/3aj0d

Ancient Moss, Insects Found in Antarctica

from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—Mosses once grew and insects crawled in what are now barren valleys in Antarctica, according to scientists who have recovered remains of life from that frozen continent.

Fourteen million years ago the now lifeless valleys were tundra, similar to parts of Alaska, Canada and Siberia—cold but able to support life, researchers report.

Geoscientist Adam Lewis of North Dakota State University was studying the ice cover of the continent when he and co-workers came across the remains of moss on a valley floor. "We knew we shouldn't expect to see something like that," Lewis said in a telephone interview.

http://snipurl.com/3b4hp

Study: Kids Meals Pack It On

from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

It's 7 p.m. and your tots are cranky and hungry. Where can you go for a fast kids meal that won't make you feel like a bad parent?

Not many restaurant chains, according to a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that was released Monday. The CSPI study found a whopping 93 percent of all kids meals offered by 13 top chains contain too many calories. In fact, several meals hover around the 1,000-calorie mark, far above the roughly 430-calorie-a-meal recommendation from the Institute of Medicine for sedentary children 4 to 8 years old.

With so many restaurants called out for heavy use of soft drinks and fried foods on so many of their children's meals, it can be tough to guide your child's dining choices. But at least one dietitian points out that there are smart ways to eat at chain restaurants.

http://snipurl.com/3b4co
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 08, 2008, 02:14:21 pm
August 5, 2008
Medication Increasingly Replaces Psychotherapy, Study Finds

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Wider use of antidepressants and other prescription medications has reduced the role of psychotherapy, once the defining characteristic of psychiatric care, according to an analysis published today.

The percentage of patients who received psychotherapy fell to 28.9 percent in 2004-05 from 44.4 percent in 1996-97, the report in Archives of General Psychiatry said.

Researchers attributed the shift to insurance reimbursement policies that favor short medication visits compared with longer psychotherapy sessions, and to the introduction of a new generation of psychotropic medications with fewer side effects.

http://snipurl.com/3b3xi

I'm no Scientologist, but this kind of freaks me out.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 08, 2008, 03:16:34 pm
Its faster, geared towards instant gratification, and means that people don't have to work through their problems and see reality.

In other words, sign of the times.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Daruko on August 08, 2008, 03:56:49 pm
Its faster, geared towards instant gratification, and means that people don't have to work through their problems and see reality.

In other words, sign of the times.

Scanner Darkly anyone?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 08, 2008, 06:23:37 pm

It's 7 p.m. and your tots are cranky and hungry. Where can you go for a fast kids meal that won't make you feel like a bad parent?

Not many restaurant chains, according to a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that was released Monday. The CSPI study found a whopping 93 percent of all kids meals offered by 13 top chains contain too many calories. In fact, several meals hover around the 1,000-calorie mark, far above the roughly 430-calorie-a-meal recommendation from the Institute of Medicine for sedentary children 4 to 8 years old.

With so many restaurants called out for heavy use of soft drinks and fried foods on so many of their children's meals, it can be tough to guide your child's dining choices. But at least one dietitian points out that there are smart ways to eat at chain restaurants.

http://snipurl.com/3b4co

Why the hell can't parents either plan their day so they're home at dinnertime, or plan ahead and carry snacks? What the fuck is wrong with them? It's just not that hard to do. Also there are these things called "Grocery stores" that sell "food". I guess some parents are just tooooo busy socializing at the Mall to remember to make arrangements to feed their fucking children something that won't kill them.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 08, 2008, 06:25:02 pm

It's 7 p.m. and your tots are cranky and hungry. Where can you go for a fast kids meal that won't make you feel like a bad parent?

Not many restaurant chains, according to a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that was released Monday. The CSPI study found a whopping 93 percent of all kids meals offered by 13 top chains contain too many calories. In fact, several meals hover around the 1,000-calorie mark, far above the roughly 430-calorie-a-meal recommendation from the Institute of Medicine for sedentary children 4 to 8 years old.

With so many restaurants called out for heavy use of soft drinks and fried foods on so many of their children's meals, it can be tough to guide your child's dining choices. But at least one dietitian points out that there are smart ways to eat at chain restaurants.

http://snipurl.com/3b4co

Why the hell can't parents either plan their day so they're home at dinnertime, or plan ahead and carry snacks? What the fuck is wrong with them? It's just not that hard to do. Also there are these things called "Grocery stores" that sell "food". I guess some parents are just tooooo busy working two jobs each, so they can pay their home heating bills and stay off welfare to remember to make arrangements to feed their fucking children something that won't kill them.

Here we go again...
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: AFK on August 08, 2008, 06:25:38 pm
Compromise:  Subway
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 08, 2008, 09:30:18 pm

It's 7 p.m. and your tots are cranky and hungry. Where can you go for a fast kids meal that won't make you feel like a bad parent?

Not many restaurant chains, according to a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that was released Monday. The CSPI study found a whopping 93 percent of all kids meals offered by 13 top chains contain too many calories. In fact, several meals hover around the 1,000-calorie mark, far above the roughly 430-calorie-a-meal recommendation from the Institute of Medicine for sedentary children 4 to 8 years old.

With so many restaurants called out for heavy use of soft drinks and fried foods on so many of their children's meals, it can be tough to guide your child's dining choices. But at least one dietitian points out that there are smart ways to eat at chain restaurants.

http://snipurl.com/3b4co

Why the hell can't parents either plan their day so they're home at dinnertime, or plan ahead and carry snacks? What the fuck is wrong with them? It's just not that hard to do. Also there are these things called "Grocery stores" that sell "food". I guess some parents are just tooooo busy working two jobs each, so they can pay their home heating bills and stay off welfare to remember to make arrangements to feed their fucking children something that won't kill them.

Here we go again...

I figured someone would bring in the "They're soooo poor and working soooo hard that they can't afford to have beans and rice prepared at home, they can only afford to spend ten times as much on fast food!" argument. Bullfuckingshit. I grew up POOR, fucking starvation-poor, so poor that at 12 I had stretch marks all over my undersized runt body from growing on an inadequate diet, eating OTHER PEOPLE's restaurant leftovers poor. And then I learned to work, buy my own food, and cook, because nobody was doing it for me, and things got a lot better.

I've also been a single mom working such long hours that I was getting up at 5:30, trekking to the next town over (two buses and a light-rail, 45 minutes EACH WAY) to drop off my six-month-old and my two-year-old at my ex's mom's house because I couldn't afford daycare, then working until 7, back out to Beaverton to pick them up, home by 9, feed the kids, go to bed. EVERY DAY. I'm not some mollycoddled suburbanite housewife; the last couple of years have been the most plushly prosperous I've been in my life, and I'm grateful for that, but I know EXACTLY what it's like to be a low-income single working parent, and you don't fucking go to MacDonald's because you can't afford it. You pack a bag of Cheerios and crackers and some baby carrots everywhere you go. Fast food is for poor planners, and then they bitch about how it's not all nutritionally balanced and shit. Well, FUCKING MAKE FOOD AT HOME, you worthless sack of shit, and quit bitching because at least you can afford to blow $30 on take-out.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 09, 2008, 02:57:26 am
August 8, 2008
Skin Cells Produce Library of Diseased Stem Cells

from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—U.S. stem cell experts have produced a library of the powerful cells using ordinary skin and bone marrow cells from patients, and said Thursday they would share them freely with other researchers.

They used a new method to re-program ordinary cells so they look and act like embryonic stem cells—the master cells of the body with the ability to produce any type of tissue or blood cell.

The new cells come from patients with 10 incurable genetic diseases and conditions, including Parkinson's, the paralyzing disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, juvenile diabetes and Down's Syndrome. Writing in the journal Cell, the team at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital in Boston said the point is not yet to treat anyone, but to get as many researchers as possible experimenting with these cells in lab dishes to better understand the diseases.

http://snipurl.com/3cics

US Nuclear Submarine Leaked Radiation Over 2 Years

from the Seattle Times

TOKYO (Associated Press)—An American nuclear-powered submarine leaked radiation for more than two years, releasing the bulk of the material in its home port of Guam and at Pearl Harbor, Japanese and U.S. officials said Thursday.

On Aug. 1, the U.S. Navy notified Japan that the USS Houston had leaked water containing small amounts of radiation during three calls to the southern Japanese ports of Sasebo and Okinawa in March and April this year but caused no threat to people or the environment.

The U.S. Navy released a detailed chronology of the leaks over the past two years, showing that the cumulative radioactivity released was less than 9.3 micro curies—with 8 micro curies released in Guam alone. ... Navy Commander Jeff Davis said the Houston is still in Hawaii being repaired and the reactor is turned off.

http://snipurl.com/3ci75

Bullets Tagged with Pollen Could Help Solve Gun Crimes

from the Guardian (UK)

Pollen could be used to identify the perpetrators of gun crimes, thanks to developments in nanotechnology. The microscopic grains can be coated onto bullets during manufacture and are sticky enough to hold on even after the gun has been fired. Each 'nanotag' is made up of pollen and a unique chemical signature that can be used to identify the batch of ammunition.

The pollen grains—from one of two species of lily—are around 30 micrometres in diameter and are invisible to the naked eye. Thousands can be attached to each cartridge.

"The tags primarily consist of naturally occurring pollen, a substance that evolution has provided with extraordinary adhesive properties," said Prof Paul Sermon from the University of Surrey, who led the research.

http://snipurl.com/3ci4p

Cern Lab Set for Beam Milestone

from BBC News Online

A vast physics experiment—the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—reaches a key milestone this weekend ahead of an official start-up on 10 September.

Engineers had previously brought a beam of protons—tiny, sub-atomic particles—to the "doorstep" of the LHC. On 9 August, protons will be piped through LHC magnets for the first time.

The most powerful physics experiment ever built, the LHC will re-create the conditions present in the Universe just after the Big Bang. For the two-day "synchronisation test," engineers will thread a low intensity beam through the injection system and one of the LHC's eight sectors.

http://snipurl.com/3ci32

For Nanotech Drug Delivery, Size Doesn't Matter—Shape Does

from Scientific American

As nanotechnology to ferry drugs to their destinations is tested in both the laboratory and in clinical trials, scientists have made a surprising discovery about the kinds of nanoparticles that might be most effective for eventually transporting a number of different cancer-fighting therapies throughout the body.

The conventional wisdom is that the smaller, the better. But that may not be true, according to a team of scientists led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (U.N.C.) chemistry professor Joseph DeSimone.

DeSimone and his colleagues have shown that the shape of these microscopic drug carriers is much more important than size and can even mean the difference between whether a drug penetrates target cells effectively or ends up as a target itself, only to be destroyed by the immune system.

http://snipurl.com/3chv6

Solar Systems Like Ours May Be Rare

from New Scientist

Our solar system is a Goldilocks among planetary systems. Conditions have to be just right for a disc of dust and gas to coalesce into such a set of neatly ordered planets, a new computer model suggests.

Similar planetary systems are likely to be a minority in the galaxy, says model developer Edward Thommes of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Even so, if only 1 percent of the Milky Way's hundreds of billions of stars have a terrestrial planet with a stable orbit in the habitable zone, the Earth could have plenty of company.

Astronomers long thought planets orbited where they formed, with small terrestrial planets close to the star, gas giants near the middle, and smaller ice giants such as Neptune towards the edge of a 'protoplanetary' disc of gas and dust before it dissipated.

http://snipurl.com/3choy

Duck-Billed Dinosaurs "Outgrew" Their Predators

from National Geographic News

Talk about being a big baby. The duck-billed dinosaur Hypacrosaurus grew three to five times faster than the fearsome predators that hunted it, reaching its full size by age ten, according to a new study.

Unlike other plant-eating dinosaurs, duckbills such as Hypacrosaurus didn't have piercing horns, dagger-like teeth, or hulking body armor. So the ability to grow bigger faster provided the animals with a size advantage that likely served them well in their early years.

For example, baby duckbills were probably about the same size as Tyrannosaurus rex hatchlings, said study co-author Drew Lee of Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine. But by five years old the duckbill would be the size of a grown cow, while the T. rex would be only as big as a large dog.

http://snipurl.com/3chkd

Making T Cells Tougher Against HIV

from Science News

I pity the fool who messes with these T cells. A method to deliver molecular "scissors" into T cells in mice makes the cells downright hostile to HIV. Not only do the cells reject the virus' advances, but copies of the virus already inside the cells get snipped up.

The technique is the first to deliver these HIV-fighting scissors—called small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs—into T cells in living animals, Premlata Shankar of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso and her colleagues report in the Aug. 22 Cell. Shankar performed the research while at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"I think they’ve shown very nicely that you can ... target T cells and knock down the virus," comments John Rossi, an AIDS researcher at the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. "It's a nice proof of principle that I think could be developed into a viable therapy."

http://snipurl.com/3chy5

Fingerprints Yield More Telltale Clues

from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—Scientists have found ways to tease even more clues out of fingerprints' telltale marks—one in a string of developments that gives modern forensics even better ways to solve mysteries like the anthrax attacks or JonBenet Ramsey's murder.

For example, if a person handled cocaine, explosives or other materials, there could be enough left in a fingerprint to identify them, says chemist R. Graham Cooks of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

Progress in forensics comes from a combination of new techniques, like those involved in the anthrax investigation, and existing techniques, like those used in the Ramsey case, said Max M. Houck, director of West Virginia University's Forensic Science Initiative.

http://snipurl.com/3ciab

Anthrax Case Raises Doubt On Security

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Revelations about anthrax scientist Bruce E. Ivins's mental instability have exposed what congressional leaders and security experts call startling gaps in how the federal government safeguards its most dangerous biological materials, even as the number of bioscience laboratories has grown rapidly since the 2001 terror attacks.

An estimated 14,000 scientists and technicians at about 400 institutions have clearances to access viruses and bacteria such as the Bacillus anthracis used in the anthrax attacks, but security procedures vary by facility, and oversight of the labs is spread across multiple government agencies.

Screening for the researchers handling some of the world's deadliest germs is not as strict as that for national security jobs in the FBI and CIA, federal officials said.

http://snipurl.com/3cvsk
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 11, 2008, 05:34:31 pm
August 11, 2008
DNA Is Just Anthrax Clue, Not Clincher

from the Philadelphia Inquirer

DNA evidence alone wasn't a smoking gun in the case against Bruce Ivins as the perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks, say microbiologists and other experts who have read details of the investigation released last week.

Genetic sleuthing was useful in narrowing the list of suspects, they say, but it wasn't conclusive since DNA from bacteria doesn't often carry a unique genetic fingerprint the way human DNA does.

At first, prosecutors seemed to suggest that forensic DNA had solved the case. ... But at least eight other anthrax samples gathered from researchers in the investigation carried the same genetic signature as Ivins' batch at Fort Detrick, Md., court documents say.

http://snipurl.com/3e3f4

Iron Age Warrior with Roman Links Found in U.K.

from National Geographic News

The grave of an ancient British warrior with tantalizing Roman connections has been unearthed in southern England, archaeologists say.

The 2,000-year-old skeleton of the tribal king or nobleman was found buried with military trappings, including a bronze helmet and an ornate shield both of a style previously unknown in Britain, experts say.

The Iron Age man, who died in his 30s, was discovered in June at the site of a new housing development in North Bersted on England's southeastern coast. "What we've found is of national and international importance," said dig team member Mark Taylor, senior archaeologist at West Sussex County Council.

http://snipurl.com/3e3it

An Asteroid Cop Gets Ready to Patrol

from the Christian Science Monitor

Toronto—A satellite the size of a suitcase may soon protect our planet from a catastrophic collision with an asteroid. Dubbed NEOSSat—for Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite—the Canadian craft will be the world's first space telescope designed to hunt asteroids that threaten to slam into Earth.

Several ground-based telescopes already scan the sky for potential dangers, but they only hunt at night and poor weather obscures their view. By circling pole to pole in a sun-synchronous orbit about 500 miles above Earth, NEOSSat can operate nonstop, twirling hundreds of times a day as it photographs sections of space, says Alan Hildebrand, a planetary scientist at the University of Calgary in Alberta.

NEOSSat's six-inch wide telescope has a sunshade that lets it search close to the sun, where potentially hazardous asteroids are concentrated.

http://snipurl.com/3e3cm

A Tall, Cool Drink of ... Sewage?

from the New York Times Magazine (Registration Required)

... When you flush in Santa Ana [Calif.], the waste makes its way to the sewage-treatment plant nearby in Fountain Valley, then sluices not to the ocean but to a plant that superfilters the liquid until it is cleaner than rainwater.

The "new" water is then pumped 13 miles north and discharged into a small lake, where it percolates into the earth. Local utilities pump water from this aquifer and deliver it to the sinks and showers of 2.3 million customers.

It is now drinking water. If you like the idea, you call it indirect potable reuse. If the idea revolts you, you call it toilet to tap. Opened in January, the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System is the largest of its type in the world.

http://snipurl.com/3e2uk

Barbadians Slam Discovery, Naming of Tiny Snake

from the San Francisco Examiner

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Associated Press)—A small snake has sparked a big debate in Barbados. Residents of the wealthy Caribbean nation have been heating up blogs and clogging radio airwaves to vent their anger at a U.S. scientist, who earlier this week announced his "discovery" of the world's smallest snake and named it "Leptotyphlops carlae," after his wife Carla.

"If he needs to blow his own trumpet ... well, fine," said 43-year-old Barbadian Charles Atkins. "But my mother, who was a simple housewife, she showed me the snake when I was a child."

One writer to the Barbados Free Press blog took an even tougher tone, questioning how someone could "discover" a snake long known to locals, who called it the thread snake.

http://snipurl.com/3do0z

Perseid Meteor Shower To Peak August 11 and 12

from National Geographic News

Unlike short-lived solar eclipses or unpredictable auroras, meteor showers regularly offer skywatchers a dazzling show. Soon the curtain will rise on one of the best of these showers: the Perseids, so called because the meteors appear to originate in the constellation Perseus.

Slated to peak sometime during the night and early morning of August 11 to 12, the shower offers one of the year's best chances to see a shooting star.

Under perfect conditions, observers can expect to see about 90 to 100 meteors an hour, said Wayne Hally, a self-professed "meteor geek" who writes a newsletter for the North American Meteor Network.

http://snipurl.com/3d29l

Invisibility Cloak 'Step Closer'

from BBC News Online

Scientists in the US say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people invisible.

Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley have developed a material that can bend light around 3D objects making them "disappear."

The materials do not occur naturally but have been created on a nano scale, measured in billionths of a metre. The team says the principles could one day be scaled up to make invisibility cloaks large enough to hide people.

http://snipurl.com/3emkm

Cassini to Search for Source of Saturn Moon's Plumes

from New Scientist

On Monday, the Cassini spacecraft will return to Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, passing within 50 kilometres of its south pole. NASA team members hope the flyby will provide evidence for subsurface liquid water containing the building blocks of life.

Previous encounters revealed huge plumes of ice and water vapour venting from blue-green fault lines, or "tiger stripes", that criss-cross the south pole. The source of these jets, which feed Saturn's rings, is hotly contested.

Gathering data about these features has been slow because only a few instruments can be used fully during each flyby. Early budget cuts to the mission in 1992 limited the ability of its detectors to move independently, so some are often on the wrong side of the spacecraft to be useful.

http://snipurl.com/3e3ly

The Recipe for You

from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

In episode 17 of the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (Stardate 41463.9), a silica-based life form called a "microbrain" disparagingly describes humans as "ugly bags of water."

Which is true—at least the part about us being bags of water. Every school kid learns that humans are mostly water, albeit in varying amounts. The average adult is about 60 percent water. Newborns are 78 percent; obese people can be less than 50 percent water, since lean muscle tissue contains much more water (75 percent) than fat (14 percent).

But as basic as water is to the human condition, other things are even more elemental, such as the hydrogen and oxygen that combine to make water. Roughly 99 percent of your body's mass is composed of just six elements: oxygen (65 percent); carbon (18 percent); hydrogen (10 percent); nitrogen (3 percent); calcium (1.5 percent); and phosphorus (1 percent).

http://snipurl.com/3e3qn

Snake's Impact on Guam Appears to Extend to Flora

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

One of the most infamous examples of what can happen when a nonnative species is introduced into a new environment involves the brown tree snake—a voracious, semi-venomous species that in less than 50 years all but destroyed bird life on the northern Pacific island of Guam.

Introduced inadvertently from the South Pacific just after World War II, apparently on a cargo ship, the snake has killed off 10 bird species on the island and is in the process of wiping out the remaining two.

The virtual extermination of Guam's birds has been bemoaned for decades, but new research suggests that the damage to the ecology of the narrow, 30-mile-long island did not stop there. The hundreds of thousands of snakes, researchers say, are now changing the way Guam's forest grows ...

http://snipurl.com/3emnt 

A note about the Thread Snake. My advisor says that this is indication we shouldn't use the word "discover" when what we really mean is formally name and describe, because species may be well known to locals but new to science.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cramulus on August 11, 2008, 06:43:52 pm
great reading! thanks kai!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 11, 2008, 06:54:24 pm
great reading! thanks kai!

You're welcome. I'm glad someones reading this thread with all the drama going on. :)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 12, 2008, 09:06:12 pm
This is one of the best threads here.  Thanks Kai

Now, if only I had to initiative to post articles here too.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cain on August 12, 2008, 09:16:03 pm
Kai,

if you havent already, I suggest downloading somethin like Snarfer, and adding as many science site and blog feeds as possible to it.  I often don't comment in here, thouh I do read it when I have the time, but I have just Reuters Science and Science Daily on my feed and I have tons of stories every day to read in addition to these, should I wish.

Its a great method of keeping track of frequently updated sites, and you could likely find many more science articles as well.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 12, 2008, 11:02:22 pm
I'll look into it. I use google reader right now but only have a couple of science blogs on there. I've been trying to find good ways to keep track of science news that isn't ridiculously dumbed down for years. Maybe this would work.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 12, 2008, 11:19:29 pm
August 12, 2008
2,500-Year-Old Greek Ship Raised off Sicilian Coast

from National Geographic News

An ancient Greek ship recently raised off the coast of southern Sicily, Italy, is the biggest and best maintained vessel of its kind ever found, archaeologists say.

At a length of nearly 70 feet and a width of 21 feet, the 2,500-year-old craft is the largest recovered ship built in a manner first depicted in Homer's Iliad, which is believed to date back several centuries earlier.

The ship's outer shell was built first, and the inner framework was added later. The wooden planks of the hull were sewn together with ropes, with pitch and resin used as sealant to keep out water. Carlo Beltrame, professor of marine archaeology at the Università Ca' Foscari in Venice, said the boat, found near the town of Gela, is among the most important finds in the Mediterranean Sea.

http://snipurl.com/3fabq

Overweight, but Still Healthy

from the Seattle Times

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—You can look great in a swimsuit and still be a heart attack waiting to happen. And you can also be overweight and otherwise healthy.

A new study suggests a surprising number of overweight people—about half—have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while an equally startling number of trim people suffer from some of the ills associated with obesity.

The first national estimate of its kind bolsters the argument that you can be hefty but still healthy, or at least healthier than has been believed. The results also show stereotypes about body size can be misleading, and that even "less voluptuous" people can have risk factors commonly associated with obesity, said study author MaryFran Sowers, a University of Michigan obesity researcher.

http://snipurl.com/3fa98

The Humpback Whale Is Back

from the Times (London)

Forty years ago conservationists feared that humpback whales were being hunted to extinction. Now numbers have returned to such a level that they have been taken off the danger list.

The latest count stands at 40,000 mature individuals, meaning that, for now at least, the humpback is safe from the threat of extinction.

Several other whales, such as the blue whale, the biggest animal on earth, and the sei and southern right whales, are also growing in number after similar scares.

The populations of several smaller species of whales and other cetaceans are still falling, however, and it is feared that some may be close to disappearing, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

http://snipurl.com/3fa6s

Lower Vitamin D, Higher Risk of Death

from USA Today

Low levels of vitamin D may raise a person's risk of premature death, a study by Johns Hopkins researchers shows.

The research follows other recent studies showing low levels of vitamin D are linked to certain cancers, diabetes, and bone and immune system problems, but this is the first research to connect vitamin D deficiency to a higher risk of death, says study author Erin Michos, assistant professor of cardiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The study appears in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine. Michos and her colleagues analyzed data from a large government observational survey of more than 13,000 people who represented a realistic, diverse swath of U.S. adults ages 20 and up. Participants' vitamin D levels were collected by blood test from 1988 through 1994.

http://snipurl.com/3fa3j

No Room at the Beach

from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

CHATHAM—After the fog lifts, a cloud of short-billed dowitchers, red knots, American oystercatchers and all types of plovers tear and careen off an inlet. They crest on the breeze, settling near the shore.

... This pristine spot where South Beach meets South Monomoy Island is a critical stopover for many shorebird species on their way from the Arctic to their wintering grounds in Central or South America, or even New Zealand. But such relatively untouched coastal land is getting rarer—and so are the oystercatchers, sandpipers, and plovers that depend on it for their feeding grounds.

The populations of nearly all of North America's 55 shorebird species are declining ... in large part because of disturbance to their beachfront habitats. Every flap of their wings to evade beach walkers, all-terrain vehicles, or dogs depletes more of the energy they need for long flights, leading to lower reproductive success and even death, specialists said.

http://snipurl.com/3fa1h

Handle With Care

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Last year, a private company proposed "fertilizing" parts of the ocean with iron, in hopes of encouraging carbon-absorbing blooms of plankton. Meanwhile, researchers elsewhere are talking about injecting chemicals into the atmosphere, launching sun-reflecting mirrors into stationary orbit above the earth or taking other steps to reset the thermostat of a warming planet.

This technology might be useful, even life-saving. But it would inevitably produce environmental effects impossible to predict and impossible to undo. So a growing number of experts say it is time for broad discussion of how and by whom it should be used, or if it should be tried at all.

Similar questions are being raised about nanotechnology, robotics and other powerful emerging technologies. There are even those who suggest humanity should collectively decide to turn away from some new technologies as inherently dangerous.

http://snipurl.com/3f9yz

Researchers Work to Turn Car's Exhaust into Power

from the San Francisco Examiner

WARREN, Mich. (Associated Press)—The stinky, steaming air that escapes from a car's tailpipe could help us use less gas.

Researchers are competing to meet a challenge from the U.S. Department of Energy: Improve fuel economy 10 percent by converting wasted exhaust heat into energy that can help power the vehicle.

General Motors Corp. is close to reaching the goal, as is a BMW AG supplier working with Ohio State University. Their research into thermoelectrics—the science of using temperature differences to create electricity—couldn't come at a better time as high gas prices accelerate efforts to make vehicles as efficient as possible.

http://snipurl.com/3eugi

Gardasil Vaccine Doubts Grow

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Sandra Levy wants to do everything she can to safeguard the health of her 11-year-old daughter—and that, of course, includes cancer prevention. She has had her child inoculated with one shot of Gardasil, the human papilloma virus vaccine that may prevent cervical cancer. But now, she says, she has serious reservations about going ahead with the next two injections of the course.

"It's very confusing, and we really don't know if it's 100% safe," says Levy, of Long Beach. "I'm not against vaccines, but I don't want to do anything that would harm my daughter."

Though most medical organizations strongly advocate using the HPV vaccine, some doctors and parents, like Levy, are asking whether the vaccine's benefits really outweigh its costs. They say they aren't convinced that the expensive shots offer any more protection than preventive measures already available—principally, regular screening via the Pap smear test.

http://snipurl.com/3eqzi

Dachshunds Gene 'Blindness Clue'

from BBC News Online

A genetic mutation in dachshunds could help uncover the roots of some inherited forms of blindness in humans, say scientists.

Cone-rod dystrophies are caused by progressive cell loss in the retina. Dachshunds are particularly prone to similar conditions, and US and Norwegian researchers spotted an altered gene which may play a role.

Writing in the journal Genome Research, they said research on the similar gene in humans might lead to new therapies. Cone-rod dystrophies are relatively rare, and can lead at first to "day-blindness", in which vision in bright light is affected, then to full loss of vision. It can start as early as childhood.

http://snipurl.com/3d2br

The Sprinter's Brain

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

If American sprinters Tyson Gay and Walter Dix reprise their race in the U.S. Olympic trials at the Olympic finals in Beijing, you will see the athletes crouch low over the starting blocks. Gay's right foot will be in the rear position on the blocks; Dix prefers to have his left foot in the rear position.

It might be a little awkward, but someone ought to tap Dix on the shoulder and tell him to consider switching the position of his legs. And not just Dix—every sprinter in the Olympics ought to think about starting with his or her right foot in the rear position.

That's the surprising conclusion of an unusual new piece of research that ties sprinters' speed off the starting blocks with the structure of the human brain.

http://snipurl.com/3eui7
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 13, 2008, 02:58:31 pm
Kai,

if you havent already, I suggest downloading somethin like Snarfer, and adding as many science site and blog feeds as possible to it.  I often don't comment in here, thouh I do read it when I have the time, but I have just Reuters Science and Science Daily on my feed and I have tons of stories every day to read in addition to these, should I wish.

Its a great method of keeping track of frequently updated sites, and you could likely find many more science articles as well.
Science daily doesn't get technical enough for my tastes.  Although, I do like that they actually cite the relevant paper at the end of their article.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on August 14, 2008, 08:12:16 am
Quote
Gardasil Vaccine Doubts Grow

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Sandra Levy wants to do everything she can to safeguard the health of her 11-year-old daughter—and that, of course, includes cancer prevention. She has had her child inoculated with one shot of Gardasil, the human papilloma virus vaccine that may prevent cervical cancer. But now, she says, she has serious reservations about going ahead with the next two injections of the course.

"It's very confusing, and we really don't know if it's 100% safe," says Levy, of Long Beach. "I'm not against vaccines, but I don't want to do anything that would harm my daughter."

Though most medical organizations strongly advocate using the HPV vaccine, some doctors and parents, like Levy, are asking whether the vaccine's benefits really outweigh its costs. They say they aren't convinced that the expensive shots offer any more protection than preventive measures already available—principally, regular screening via the Pap smear test.

http://snipurl.com/3eqzi
There has been a big anti-vaccination blitz against Gardasil this week, including slipping a paper into Medscape (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/08/woo_and_antivaccinationism_in_mainstream.php).  I wonder who's behind all of it.

Also:  Fuck the Denialists in their pointy little heads.   :argh!:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Reginald Ret on August 14, 2008, 02:20:39 pm
Quote
When Play Becomes Work

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology—and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs—and wonder what it would take to become a pro.

Then the brainiacs, volunteers and Little Leaguers grow up. What they did for fun becomes ... work. Paychecks and bonuses become the reasons to do things. Pink slips and demotions become the reasons not to do other things.

Psychologists have long been interested in what happens when people's internal drives are replaced by external motivations. A host of experiments have shown that when threats and rewards enter the picture, they tend to destroy the inner drives.

http://snipurl.com/37cmj

This is the one that interests me the most... and how it seems to run counter to the IDEAL of "I want a job where I'm doing something I like."

Is all action-for-pay doomed to become "work" even if we enjoyed the action before we got paid for it?

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.
    Aristotle

it seems you are in good company
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 14, 2008, 04:01:36 pm
Quote
Gardasil Vaccine Doubts Grow

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Sandra Levy wants to do everything she can to safeguard the health of her 11-year-old daughter—and that, of course, includes cancer prevention. She has had her child inoculated with one shot of Gardasil, the human papilloma virus vaccine that may prevent cervical cancer. But now, she says, she has serious reservations about going ahead with the next two injections of the course.

"It's very confusing, and we really don't know if it's 100% safe," says Levy, of Long Beach. "I'm not against vaccines, but I don't want to do anything that would harm my daughter."

Though most medical organizations strongly advocate using the HPV vaccine, some doctors and parents, like Levy, are asking whether the vaccine's benefits really outweigh its costs. They say they aren't convinced that the expensive shots offer any more protection than preventive measures already available—principally, regular screening via the Pap smear test.

http://snipurl.com/3eqzi
There has been a big anti-vaccination blitz against Gardasil this week, including slipping a paper into Medscape (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/08/woo_and_antivaccinationism_in_mainstream.php).  I wonder who's behind all of it.

Also:  Fuck the Denialists in their pointy little heads.   :argh!:
But, if you vaccine the little girls, they'll have the secks!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on August 14, 2008, 04:11:16 pm
have you seen the TV add? the disclaimer is longer than the commercial the list of side effects, possible harm it may cause is huge.  it also  says "it may not work " :lulz:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 14, 2008, 07:48:32 pm
August 14, 2008
Probe Gets Close Up to Enceladus

from BBC News Online

The Cassini spacecraft has returned some remarkable new close-up images of the Saturnian moon Enceladus.

They were captured during a flyby on 11 August, with the probe passing above the icy terrain at a distance of just 50km at closest approach. The pictures show previously unseen detail in the so-called tiger stripes that mark the south pole of Enceladus.

These cracks run across a "hot-spot" region that is hurling plumes of ice particles into space. Scientists are intrigued by what might be driving this activity; and some have suggested the mechanisms involved could be sufficient to maintain a mass of liquid water below the moon's surface.

http://snipurl.com/3frdn

How Are Swimmers Smashing So Many Olympic Records?

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

BEIJING—Anyone tuning in to watch swimming for the first time in several years can't help but be a little suspicious this week.

It's one thing to watch Michael Phelps smash world records left and right, but should every world record in swimming be falling like this? Through the first three days of the 2008 Olympics, there have been 10 world records broken in nine events.

... Is it the new Speedo suits? The deeper pool? Does the sport have a drug problem that no one is talking about? All of the above? People within the worldwide swimming community have different answers. But for the most part, athletes and coaches believe it's just the accelerated progression of the sport.

http://snipurl.com/3fpw6

Before the Gunfire, Cyberattacks

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Weeks before bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace. Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: "win+love+in+Rusia."

Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia's Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests—known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks—that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers.

... As it turns out, the July attack may have been a dress rehearsal for an all-out cyberwar once the shooting started between Georgia and Russia. According to Internet technical experts, it was the first time a known cyberattack had coincided with a shooting war.

http://snipurl.com/3fq2u

Neanderthals Didn't Mate With Modern Humans, Study Says

from National Geographic News

Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans likely did not interbreed, according to a new DNA study. The research further suggests that small population numbers helped do in our closest relatives.

Researchers sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome—genetic information passed down from mothers—of a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal thighbone found in a cave in Croatia.

The new sequence contains 16,565 DNA bases, or "letters," representing 13 genes, making it the longest stretch of Neanderthal DNA ever examined. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is easier to isolate from ancient bones than conventional or "nuclear" DNA—which is contained in cell nuclei—because there are many mitochondria per cell.

http://snipurl.com/3frcw

How Many Arms Does an Octopus Have?

from the Times (London)

A giant Pacific octopus called Mavis has helped researchers to prove that the one thing everyone knows about the creatures is wrong.

The name octopus is derived from the Ancient Greek for eight feet. Mavis, who lives in a tank at Weymouth Sea Life Centre, actually has six arms and two legs. Researchers who were studying octopuses' behaviour were taken aback to discover that some of the most basic assumptions about them were wrong.

Until now it had been believed that the tentacles were deployed in two equal sets, one set of four for propulsion and the other for manipulation. The research, conducted at 20 centres across Europe, was originally intended to establish whether octopuses favoured one side over the other, as people do, or were multidextrous.

http://snipurl.com/3frkm

Firm Evidence that Earth's Core Is Solid

from Science News

Faint yet distinct ground motions recorded by a large network of seismic instruments in Japan in early 2006 are the strongest, most direct evidence that Earth's inner core is solid.

On February 22, 2006, a magnitude-7 quake rocked Mozambique. The temblor was an unusually large one for southern Africa, but it also was quick for its size: Motions at the epicenter lasted only eight seconds or so, says George Helffrich, a geophysicist at the University of Bristol in England.

While much of the quake's energy spread along the planet's surface, some of it radiated downward, traveled through Earth's core and then returned to the surface in Japan, where more than 700 seismometers picked up the vibes. ... [The] size, shape and timing of some of the vibrations picked up by the Japanese instruments suggest that the waves traveled through the planet's inner core as shear waves, which can travel only through a solid material, says Helffrich.

http://snipurl.com/3frmo

How the Brain Monitors Errors and Learns from Goofs

from Scientific American

... Of course, people make mistakes, both large and small, every day, and monitoring and fixing slipups is a regular part of life. Although people understandably would like to avoid serious errors, most goofs have a good side: they give the brain information about how to improve or fine-tune behavior. In fact, learning from mistakes is likely essential to the survival of our species.

In recent years researchers have identified a region of the brain called the medial frontal cortex that plays a central role in detecting mistakes and responding to them. These frontal neurons become active whenever people or monkeys change their behavior after the kind of negative feedback or diminished reward that results from errors.

Much of our ability to learn from flubs, the latest studies show, stems from the actions of the neurotransmitter dopamine. In fact, genetic variations that affect dopamine signaling may help explain differences between people in the extent to which they learn from past goofs.

http://snipurl.com/3frp8
 
Physicists Spooked by Faster-Than-Light Information Transfer

from Nature News

Two photons can be connected in a way that seems to defy the very nature of space and time, yet still obeys the laws of quantum mechanics.

Physicists at the University of Geneva achieved the weird result by creating a pair of 'entangled' photons, separating them, then sending them down a fibre optic cable to the Swiss villages of Satigny and Jussy, some 18 kilometres apart.

The researchers found that when each photon reached its destination, it could instantly sense its twin's behaviour without any direct communication. The finding does not violate the laws of quantum mechanics, the theory that physicists use to describe the behaviour of very small systems. Rather, it shows just how quantum mechanics can defy everyday expectation ...

http://snipurl.com/3frs0

Galileo, Reconsidered

from Smithsonian Magazine

... Galileo helped paved the way for classic mechanics and made huge technological and observational leaps in astronomy. Most famously, he championed the Copernican model of the universe, which put the sun at its center and the earth in orbit. The Catholic Church deemed Galileo's 1632 book "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" heresy, banned it, forced Galileo to recant his heliocentric views and condemned him to house arrest. He died in his Florence home in 1642.

Historians of science have long debated the exact nature of and motivations for Galileo's trial. War, politics and strange bedfellows obscure science's premier martyrdom story. Many of the documents historians use to try and untangle the mystery are mired in their own prejudices or were written long after the fact, or both.

Now the very first written biography of Galileo has been rediscovered. It offers a rare glimpse into what people thought about the trial only 20 years after Galileo's death and even suggests a tantalizing new explanation for why he was put on trial in the first place.

http://snipurl.com/3frue

U.S. Fuel Tanks May Be Fouling Water

from the Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—The government owns hundreds of underground fuel tanks—many designed for emergencies during the Cold War—that need to be inspected for leaks of hazardous substances that could be making local water undrinkable.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has known since at least the 1990s that tanks under its supervision around the country could be leaking fuel into soil and groundwater, according to interviews and research.

The agency knows of at least 150 underground tanks that need to be inspected for leaks, according to spokeswoman Debbie Wing. FEMA is also trying to determine by September whether an additional 124 tanks are underground or above ground and whether they are leaking. ... There has been no documentation of reported leaks or harm to communities from the FEMA tanks, Wing said, although former agency officials and congressional testimony suggest that the tanks have long been seen as a problem.

http://snipurl.com/3frye

good set of articles today
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 17, 2008, 12:27:46 am
August 15, 2008
Screen Wars: Stealing TV's 'Eyeball' Share

from the Christian Science Monitor

Is this the summer that the Internet finally kills television as we once knew it?

Most industry observers are stopping short of that prediction, citing some significant hurdles still in the way. But the growing number of new deals and new devices being announced suggests that a profound change in the way people watch video—and what video they watch—is under way.

The line between "television" and video via the Internet already has blurred and may disappear in coming years. At least one industry analyst has declared "TV is dead" and welcomes Americans to a new age of video everywhere. Increasingly, Americans are watching video when they want to, and on the screen that suits them at the time.

http://snipurl.com/3g1v4

Infant Transplant Procedure Ignites Debate

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Surgeons in Denver are publishing their first account of a procedure in which they remove the hearts of severely brain-damaged newborns less than two minutes after the babies are disconnected from life support, and their hearts stop beating, so the organs can be transplanted into infants who would otherwise die.

A detailed description of the transplants in [yesterday's] issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has ignited an intense debate about whether the first-of-their-kind procedures are pushing an already controversial organ-retrieval strategy beyond acceptable legal, moral and ethical bounds.

The doctors who performed the operations as part of a federally funded research project defended the practice, and some advocates for organ donation praised the operations as offering the first clear evidence that the procedures could provide desperately needed hearts for terminally ill babies.

http://snipurl.com/3g1ok

The Old Motor Roars Back

from the Economist

Small cars sometimes struggle to climb steep hills. But a converted Chevrolet Lacetti has something special to help it along. Instead of having to keep changing down and revving harder to ascend a winding Alpine-type test track, the engine can cruise almost to the summit in top gear.

This is because the car benefits from one of the developments that in these more economical and greener times promises to give the petrol engine a new lease of life. Old technologies have a habit of fighting back when new ones come along. This is not surprising because they often have an enormous amount of design, engineering and production knowledge invested in them—especially so in the case of car engines.

So new hybrid systems, fuel cells and electric motors will be chasing a moving target. The internal combustion engine will be getting better too. The Lacetti is just one example. It gets its extra oomph from a supercharger forcing more air into the combustion chambers of its engine. This is an old idea that used to speed up 1920s racing cars ...

http://snipurl.com/3g20k

Giant Prehistoric "Kangaroos" Killed Off by Humans

from National Geographic News

Humans, not climate change, were responsible for the extinction of giant "kangaroos" and other massive marsupials in Tasmania more than 40,000 years ago, according to new research.

Hunting on the Australian island exterminated several prehistoric animals, including the kangaroo-like beasts, marsupial "hippopotamuses," and leopard-like cats, a team of scientists announced.

The giant kangaroo-like Protemnon anak, a long-necked leaf browser, survived on Tasmania until at least 41,000 years ago—much later than previously believed and up to 2,000 years after the first human settlers are believed to have arrived—according to new radiocarbon and luminescence dating of fossils, some of which were accidentally found by cavers.

http://snipurl.com/3g1az

Hope for Arthritis Vaccine 'Cure'

from BBC News Online

A single injection of modified cells could halt the advance of rheumatoid arthritis, say UK scientists. The Newcastle University team is about to start small-scale safety trials of the jab, which will hopefully stop the immune system attacking the joints.

The Arthritis Research Campaign, which is funding the project, said if successful, the treatment would be "revolutionary." It could be fully tested and available within five years.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of a family of "autoimmune" diseases, in which the body's defence systems launch attacks on its own tissues. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, this means painful inflammation and progressive damage to the joints, eased only slightly by courses of painkillers and immune dampening drugs.

http://snipurl.com/3g1rr

To Protect Whales, Navy Will Limit Use of Low-Frequency Sonar

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The U.S. Navy will restrict the use of low-frequency active sonar during training to prevent possible harm to whales and other creatures, under an agreement reached with environmental groups Tuesday.

The accord, approved by a federal court in San Francisco, would restrict the use of a type of sonar in areas in the Pacific Ocean that are known to be whale breeding grounds and key habitat, such as the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary off Hawaii.

The Navy and environmentalists have been jousting in court for several years over the risk to whales and other marine life posed by underwater noise from sonar exercises. A separate lawsuit, not involved in Tuesday's announcement, involves mid-frequency sonar. That case is pending at the U.S. Supreme Court.

http://snipurl.com/3g1i1

Breast Cancer: Risk of Relapse Low After Surviving 5 Years

from USA Today

Women who survive five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer have a good chance of remaining cancer-free, a new study shows. In the most detailed study of its kind, the report shows that 89% of such patients remain disease-free 10 years after diagnosis, and 81% are cancer-free after 15 years.

Authors of the study, published online Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, say their findings may reassure breast cancer survivors, many of whom assume their odds are much bleaker.

"Patients often ask me, 'Now that I've survived my breast cancer, what is my future risk of a recurrence?' " says author Abenaa Brewster, an assistant professor at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. "This is an answer we've had a hard time giving. They remain really terrified about their risk."

http://snipurl.com/3g1q6

Venomous Lionfish Prowls Fragile Caribbean Waters

from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Associated Press)—A maroon-striped marauder with venomous spikes is rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean's warm waters, swallowing native species, stinging divers and generally wreaking havoc on an ecologically delicate region.

The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere—from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman's pristine Bloody Bay Wall, one of the region's prime destinations for divers.

Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size with its billowy fins and sucks them down in one violent gulp. Research teams observed one lionfish eating 20 small fish in less than 30 minutes.

http://snipurl.com/3g1vz

Drugs Treat Heart Pain Nearly as Well as Stents, Study Says

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Common heart drugs worked nearly as well in treating chest pain in patients with stable heart disease as a more invasive and expensive procedure known as stenting, according to a study, suggesting that many of the hundreds of thousands of such procedures done each year may be unnecessary as a first-line treatment.

Those who got stents and drug therapy had only a small additional benefit in pain relief and that disappeared within two to three years, compared with those who got drug therapy alone.

The finding, which was published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the latest piece of research to question the need for the large numbers of elective angioplasties to open blocked coronary arteries. It's estimated that several hundred thousand of the elective procedures are performed each year in the United States.

http://snipurl.com/3g1xm

Rapid Growth Found in Oxygen-Starved Ocean 'Dead Zones'

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Many coastal areas of the world’s oceans are being starved of oxygen at an alarming rate, with vast stretches along the seafloor depleted of it to the point that they can barely sustain marine life, researchers are reporting.

The main culprit, scientists say, is nitrogen-rich nutrients from crop fertilizers that spill into coastal waters by way of rivers and streams.

A study to be published Friday in the journal Science says the number of these marine “dead zones” around the world has doubled about every 10 years since the 1960s. About 400 coastal areas now have periodically or perpetually oxygen-starved bottom waters, many of them growing in size and intensity. Combined, the zones are larger than Oregon.

http://snipurl.com/3gbvl
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on August 17, 2008, 07:14:28 am
Quote from: Kai
Hope for Arthritis Vaccine 'Cure'

from BBC News Online

A single injection of modified cells could halt the advance of rheumatoid arthritis, say UK scientists. The Newcastle University team is about to start small-scale safety trials of the jab, which will hopefully stop the immune system attacking the joints.

The Arthritis Research Campaign, which is funding the project, said if successful, the treatment would be "revolutionary." It could be fully tested and available within five years.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of a family of "autoimmune" diseases, in which the body's defence systems launch attacks on its own tissues. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, this means painful inflammation and progressive damage to the joints, eased only slightly by courses of painkillers and immune dampening drugs.

http://snipurl.com/3g1rr

Holy shit!  That may be the best news I've heard all day.  It's amazing how medicine seems to be moving by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years or so.  If this keeps up I'll end up living until I'm 135 at which point I'll kill myself out of boredom.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 17, 2008, 03:26:58 pm
Quote from: Kai
Hope for Arthritis Vaccine 'Cure'

from BBC News Online

A single injection of modified cells could halt the advance of rheumatoid arthritis, say UK scientists. The Newcastle University team is about to start small-scale safety trials of the jab, which will hopefully stop the immune system attacking the joints.

The Arthritis Research Campaign, which is funding the project, said if successful, the treatment would be "revolutionary." It could be fully tested and available within five years.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of a family of "autoimmune" diseases, in which the body's defence systems launch attacks on its own tissues. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, this means painful inflammation and progressive damage to the joints, eased only slightly by courses of painkillers and immune dampening drugs.

http://snipurl.com/3g1rr

Holy shit!  That may be the best news I've heard all day.  It's amazing how medicine seems to be moving by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years or so.  If this keeps up I'll end up living until I'm 135 at which point I'll kill myself out of boredom.
Just wait until gene therapy becomes mainstream.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: nurbldoff on August 17, 2008, 04:26:32 pm
I like this thread. It probably already contains more information than the whole rest of the board.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 18, 2008, 07:25:45 pm
August 18, 2008
Windmills Split Town and Families

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

LOWVILLE, N.Y. (Associated Press)—"Listen," John Yancey says, leaning against his truck in a field outside his home.

The rhythmic whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of wind turbines echoes through the air. Sleek and white, their long propeller blades rotate in formation, like some otherworldly dance of spindly-armed aliens swaying across the land.

Yancey stares at them, his face contorted in anger and pain. He knows the futuristic towers are pumping clean electricity into the grid, knows they have been largely embraced by his community. But Yancey hates them. He hates the sight and he hates the sound.

http://snipurl.com/3hdek

Dr. Doom

from the New York Times Magazine (Registration Required)

On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing.

In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession.

He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The audience seemed skeptical, even dismissive.

http://snipurl.com/3hdel

The Newest Generation of Drugs: Who Can Afford Them?

from the Seattle Times

Sally Garcia, a 53-year-old lawyer disabled by multiple sclerosis, was torn. A new-generation medication, Copaxone, was really working for her. After two decades of being in and out of hospitals, Garcia was taking steps to work again.

Her wallet, though, was in severe distress. Under her Medicare prescription plan, Garcia's share of the expensive drug was $330 per month. All together, medications were taking a third of her disability payments—her only income—and she couldn't swing it.

Copaxone, Enbrel, Remicade: For some patients, such new-generation drugs, often called "biologicals" or "bioengineered" when they are created by genetically modified living cells, have performed magic. In some cases, they work when other drugs have failed, or for diseases that previously had no drug treatments at all. But they cost a lot—often $2,000 to $3,000 per month.

http://snipurl.com/3hdeo

Progress Against Toxins in Toys Takes Small Steps

from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

When a nationwide ban on hormone-disrupting chemicals in soft plastic toys and cosmetics takes effect early next year, it will mark an important turning point in efforts to remove toxic compounds from consumer products.

The ban on a group of chemicals known as phthalates is part of a major overhaul of the nation's consumer safety system brokered last month by Congress. It reflects growing concerns among parents and public health advocates that children are absorbing a vast array of harmful substances, sometimes merely by sucking on a rubber duck, drinking from a plastic bottle or playing on treated carpet.

Indeed, new health concerns seem to be raised every month or so about some oddly named chemical that has been used for decades in toys, cosmetics and consumer products.

http://snipurl.com/3hdeq

Pluto Is Part of Hot Debate

from the Baltimore Sun

It was billed as a debate over the 2006 decision by the International Astronomical Union that kicked Pluto out of the family of planets, leaving just eight.

But in the end, after a jocular and noisy tussle before scientists and educators gathered at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, both debaters agreed that the IAU's definition only muddied the waters, and that more time is needed for science to sort out the increasingly complex range of objects circling our sun and other stars.

"Get the notion of counting things out of your system," said Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium. "The more we learn about anything, the more we have to tune the vocabulary we use to describe it."  The two debaters also expressed delight that a scientific debate has captured so much public attention.

http://snipurl.com/3hdew

F.B.I. Will Present Scientific Evidence in Anthrax Case to Counter Doubts

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON—Growing doubts from scientists about the strength of the government's case against the late Bruce E. Ivins, the military researcher named as the anthrax killer, are forcing the Justice Department to begin disclosing more fully the scientific evidence it used to implicate him.

In the face of the questions, Federal Bureau of Investigation officials have decided to make their first detailed public presentation [this] week on the forensic science used to trace the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks to a flask kept in a refrigerator in Dr. Ivins's laboratory at Fort Detrick, in Maryland. Many scientists are awaiting those details because so far, they say, the F.B.I. has failed to make a conclusive case.

"That is going to be critically important, because right now there is really no data to make a scientific judgment one way or the other," Brad Smith, a molecular biologist at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "The information that has been put out, there is really very little scientific information in there."

http://snipurl.com/3hdf0

Controversial Chemical Bisphenol A Is Safe, FDA Says

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A draft document released Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declares that a chemical commonly found in baby bottles and aluminum can linings is safe.

The document comes on the heels of several conflicting reports by national and international agencies released this year on the safety of the chemical, bisphenol A.

It was immediately embraced by industry scientists, who commended the federal agency's "thorough analysis," and condemned by environmental groups that questioned the timing of the report's release and its reliance on industry funded studies.

http://snipurl.com/3hdfb

Summit Targets World Water Issues

from BBC News Online

While global attention has recently focused on energy and food, a global summit this week in Stockholm, Sweden, will tackle the key issue of water.

The World Water Week meeting starts on Sunday and will hear renewed calls to solve growing challenges of sanitation, climate change and drinkable supplies.

Sanitation in particular is one of the most important global issues. The organisers say lack of adequate sanitation is a scandal that costs the lives of 1.4m children every year.  Investing in this area, say scientists, is the most cost effective health intervention the world could make.

http://snipurl.com/3hdfh

Archaeologists Get a Glimpse of Life in a Sahara Eden

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The tiny skeletal hand jutted from the sand as if beckoning the living to the long dead.

For thousands of years, it had lain unheeded in the most desolate section of the Sahara, surrounded by the bones of hippos, giraffes and other creatures typically found in the jungle.

A chance discovery by a team of American scientists has led to the unearthing of a Stone Age cemetery that is providing the first glimpses of what life was like during the still-mysterious period when monsoons brought rain to the desert and created the "green Sahara."

http://snipurl.com/3gd5t

The 2003 Northeast Blackout—Five Years Later

from Scientific American

On August 14, 2003, shortly after 2 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, a high-voltage power line in northern Ohio brushed against some overgrown trees and shut down—a fault, as it's known in the power industry. The line had softened under the heat of the high current coursing through it. Normally, the problem would have tripped an alarm in the control room of FirstEnergy Corporation, an Ohio-based utility company, but the alarm system failed.

Over the next hour and a half, as system operators tried to understand what was happening, three other lines sagged into trees and switched off, forcing other power lines to shoulder an extra burden. Overtaxed, they cut out by 4:05 P.M., tripping a cascade of failures throughout southeastern Canada and eight northeastern states.

All told, 50 million people lost power for up to two days in the biggest blackout in North American history. The event contributed to at least 11 deaths and cost an estimated $6 billion. So, five years later, are we still at risk for a massive blackout?

http://snipurl.com/3g21o
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 18, 2008, 08:28:33 pm
I hope medicine does advance to the point where we can enjoy extended health for an extra 50 years or so; I have a lot of stuff I'd like to do and at this rate I'll never get it all in by the time I'm 90.

Also if they could figure a non-invasive way to remove tumors that would rule.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 18, 2008, 08:45:07 pm
I hope medicine does advance to the point where we can enjoy extended health for an extra 50 years or so; I have a lot of stuff I'd like to do and at this rate I'll never get it all in by the time I'm 90.

Also if they could figure a non-invasive way to remove tumors that would rule.
It's being worked on. (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=antibody-drug-unleashes-tumor-killer-t-cells)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 18, 2008, 09:08:53 pm
That's totally cool!

Doesn't say whether it works on benign tumors but I am guessing no.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 18, 2008, 09:21:17 pm
That's totally cool!

Doesn't say whether it works on benign tumors but I am guessing no.
I'd guess no too, especially as it looks like it just works for lymphoma.  But, that doesn't mean the knowledge gained can't help with other tumors.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on August 18, 2008, 09:31:44 pm
I hope so 'cause that would be SWEET.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 19, 2008, 03:20:49 pm
August 19, 2008
F.B.I. Details Anthrax Case, but Doubts Remain

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON—Federal Bureau of Investigation officials on Monday laid out their most detailed scientific case to date against Bruce E. Ivins, the military scientist accused of being the anthrax killer, but they acknowledged that the many mysteries of the case meant an air of uncertainty would always surround it.

"I don't think we're ever going to put the suspicions to bed," said Vahid Majidi, head of the F.B.I.'s weapons of mass destruction division. "There's always going to be a spore on a grassy knoll."

At a two-hour briefing for reporters, Dr. Majidi was joined by seven other leading scientists from inside and outside the bureau. They discussed in intricate detail the halting scientific path that led them from two main samples of anthrax used in the 2001 attacks, to four genetic mutations unique to the samples, to 100 scientists in the United States who had access to that particular strain, and ultimately to Dr. Ivins.

http://snipurl.com/3hozp

Spanish Fear Day When Tap Will Run Dry

from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

BARCELONA, Spain—Water woes spiraled to such depths this year that the top regional environment minister here—a confirmed agnostic—confessed to climbing the stony shrine of the Virgin of Montserrat for a bit of solace.

Winter rains refused to fall, shriveling reserves to severe drought levels and prompting a water shipment from France. ... A monthlong downpour rescued Spain a couple of months later, ending the drought and adding yet another twist to Spain's unease over its water resource: The unrelenting rain marooned a section of a long-awaited world's fair in Zaragoza that, as luck would have it, touted water conservation.

Expo2008 rebounded to draw thousands of tourists for high-minded talk on sustainable development, but anxieties over water and market pressures now bedevil Spain's most development-hungry regions.

http://snipurl.com/3hi7j

Technology's Toll on Privacy and Security

from Scientific American

Computers, databases and networks have connected us like never before, but at what cost?

Scientific American presents a series of reports. Protesters, terrorists and warmongers have found the Internet to be a useful tool to achieve their goals. Our jittery state since 9/11, coupled with the Internet revolution, is shifting the boundaries between public interest and "the right to be let alone."

A little digging on social networks, blogs and Internet search engines lets you put together information about people like pieces of a puzzle. It's not a pretty picture for security or privacy. And with less than three months before the presidential election, the hotly contested state, Ohio, along with others, continue to have problems with E-voting technology.

http://snipurl.com/3hi41

FDA Approves 1st Drug for Huntington's Disease

from Newsday

Federal drug regulators Friday approved a medication to treat a major symptom of Huntington's disease, marking the first time since the disorder was first described in a Long Island family 136 years ago that any kind of treatment has been available in the United States.

In Huntington's, a rare, devastating condition, brain cells degenerate because of a genetic miscue easily passed from one generation to the next. The disorder results in jerky, involuntary movements known as chorea.

The drug tetrabenazine controls the chorea, which affects about 90 percent of people with the disease. It was approved under the Food and Drug Administration's orphan products program, which is aimed at developing treatments for conditions affecting fewer than 200,000 people. Huntington's disease affects 30,000 people nationwide.

http://snipurl.com/3hhxr

The Winners' Body Language—It's Biological

from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

Throwing their heads back, thrusting their arms in the air, puffing out their chests, and flashing big grins, Olympic athletes from across the world follow the same triumphant choreography each night.

They aren't just gold medal-clad copycats; a study released last week says that such displays of pride seem to have biological underpinnings, shared with chest-beating mountain gorillas and strutting monkeys.

For insight into pride and shame, scientists studied the aftermath of judo matches from the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games, comparing the behavior of winning and losing judo players. They found that victory looked the same across cultures, and even among athletes who were born blind, and could never have learned the behavior from watching their peers celebrate victory.

http://snipurl.com/3hhww

Bacteria Played a Role in 1918 Pandemic Flu Deaths, Scientists Say

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Most deaths in the 1918 influenza pandemic were due not to the virus alone but to common bacterial infections that took advantage of victims' weakened immune systems, according to two new studies that could change the nation's strategy against the next pandemic.

"We have to realize that it isn't just antivirals that we need," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and coauthor of one study. "We need to make sure that we're prepared to treat people with antibiotics," said Fauci, whose study will be released online this month by the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

In both studies, scientists analyzed a trove of historical documents from around the world, examining firsthand accounts, medical records and autopsy reports.

http://snipurl.com/3hhtr

'Big Pig Dig' Was Treasure Trove of Fossils

from the San Francisco Chronicle

(Associated Press)—The fossil field formally known as the Pig Wallow Site at Badlands National Park will close for good at the end of this summer, 15 years after student paleontologists started unearthing prehistoric remains.

"The main research of the site is to better understand how fossils are preserved and how bones accumulate in a particular setting. And the site is very unique here at the Badlands. We've never found a site like it in the White River Badlands," said Rachel Benton, park paleontologist.

Excavation started in June 1993 after two visitors found a large backbone sticking out of the ground near the Conata Picnic Area in what researchers think was a watering hole that trapped animals in mud.

http://snipurl.com/3hhup

Mummified Remains from 1948 Plane Crash Identified

from the San Francisco Examiner

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Associated Press)—Nine years of sleuthing, advanced DNA science and cutting-edge forensic techniques have finally put a name to a mummified hand and arm found in an Alaska glacier.

The remains belong to Francis Joseph Van Zandt, a 36-year-old merchant marine from Roanoke, Va., who was on a plane rumored to contain a cargo of gold when it smashed into the side of a mountain 60 years ago. Thirty people died in the crash.

"This is the oldest identification of fingerprints by post-mortem remains," said latent fingerprint expert Mike Grimm Sr., during a teleconference Friday, during which the two pilots who found the remains, genetic scientists and genealogists talked about the discovery.

http://snipurl.com/3hhvo

More than 50 Percent of College Students Felt Suicidal

from USA Today

BOSTON—A comprehensive study of suicidal thinking among college students found more than half of the 26,000 surveyed had suicidal thoughts at some point during their lifetime.

The web-based survey conducted in spring 2006 used separate samples of undergraduate and graduate students from 70 colleges and universities across the country.

Of the 15,010 undergraduates, average age 22: 55 percent had ever thought of suicide; 18 percent seriously considered it; and 8 percent made an attempt. Among 11,441 graduate students, average age 30: Exactly half had such thoughts; 15 percent seriously considered it and 6 percent made an attempt.

http://snipurl.com/3hhyu

Mexican Peppers Posed Health Risks Long Before Salmonella Outbreak

from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

FRESNO, Calif. (Associated Press)—Federal inspectors at U.S. border crossings repeatedly turned back filthy, disease-ridden shipments of peppers from Mexico in the months before a salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,400 people was finally traced to Mexican chilies.

Yet no larger action was taken. Food and Drug Administration officials insisted as recently as last week that they were surprised by the outbreak because Mexican peppers had not been spotted as a problem before.

But an Associated Press analysis of FDA records found that peppers and chilies were consistently the top Mexican crop rejected by border inspectors for the last year. Since January alone, 88 shipments of fresh and dried chilies were turned away. Ten percent were contaminated with salmonella. In the last year, 8 percent of the 158 intercepted shipments of fresh and dried chilies had salmonella.

http://snipurl.com/3hp1w
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 20, 2008, 07:26:02 pm
August 20, 2008
Statins: From Fungus to Pharma

from American Scientist

In 1966, Akira Endo, a young Japanese biochemist, started an adventure that would ultimately save thousands, if not millions, of lives.

Only 33 years old at the time, Endo was a research scientist at Sankyo—a pharmaceutical company, later known as Daiichi Sankyo, in Tokyo—where he was looking for enzymes in fungal extracts for improving the quality of certain foodstuffs. But his research was soon to enter a new realm.

As he would write years later: "In the mid-1960s, fascinated by several excellent reviews on cholesterol biosynthesis by Konrad Bloch of Harvard University, who received the Nobel Prize in 1964, I became interested in the biochemistry of cholesterol and other lipids." Endo's curiosity triggered research that eventually spawned one of today's most widely used families of drugs.

http://snipurl.com/3hpjt

China's Olympic Pollution Efforts Paid Off, Expert Says

from National Geographic News

Beijing's air for the opening track-and-field events at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games is "better than expected," said U.S. Olympic distance runner Amy Yoder Begley.

"When I came to China to race in 2002," Yoder Begly said in an e-mail earlier this week, "the air caused my lungs and nasal passages to burn." She also described the sensation as "swallowing glass."

Although air pollution in China's capital city is almost always worse than anywhere in the United States, Chinese efforts to clean up the air before the Games have paid off. The country shut down all nearby factories and ordered half the cars off the road, creating tangible improvements, scientists say.

http://snipurl.com/3hi1n

Methadone Rises as a Painkiller With Big Risks

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Suffering from excruciating spinal deterioration, Robby Garvin, 24, of South Carolina, tried many painkillers before his doctor prescribed methadone in June 2006, just before Mr. Garvin and his friend Joey Sutton set off for a weekend at an amusement park.

On Saturday night Mr. Garvin called his mother to say, "Mama, this is the first time I have been pain free, this medicine just might really help me." The next day, though, he felt bad. As directed, he took two more tablets and then he lay down for a nap. It was after 2 p.m. that Joey said he heard a strange sound that must have been Robby’s last breath.

Methadone, once used mainly in addiction treatment centers to replace heroin, is today being given out by family doctors, osteopaths and nurse practitioners for throbbing backs, joint injuries and a host of other severe pains.

http://snipurl.com/3hhtd

Cybercrime: 'A Lot of People Just Don't Take the Basic Precautions'

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

At the end of the Black Hat hacker convention in Las Vegas this month, James Finch, head of the FBI's Cyber Division, sat down for an interview about crime and the Internet. About 4,000 people gathered at the annual convention to hear about research on the latest network and computer or electronic-device security vulnerabilities.

The FBI's Cyber Division is responsible for investigating high-tech crimes, including computer and network intrusions and child pornography cases. Each of the FBI's 56 field offices has a cyber squad, which pulls from a pool of 500 to 600 agents specializing in the area.

According to an FBI spokesman, there are currently about 50 FBI-led cybercrime task forces across the country working cases with state and local authorities and with investigators from other law enforcement agencies. The Washington Post presents excerpts from aninterview with James Finch.

http://snipurl.com/3htsm

Researchers Produce Blood in Lab from Stem Cells

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Scientists said [yesterday] that they have devised a way to grow large quantities of blood in the lab using human embryonic stem cells, potentially making blood drives a relic of the past.

But experts cautioned that although it represented a significant technical advance, the new approach required several key improvements before it could be considered a realistic alternative to donor blood.

The research team outlined a four-step process for turning embryonic stem cells into red blood cells capable of carrying as much oxygen as normal blood. The procedure was published online in the journal Blood. The ability to make blood in the lab would guarantee that hospitals and blood banks have access to an ample supply of all types of blood, including the rare AB-negative and O-negative, the universal donor.

http://snipurl.com/3htqv

Bird Flu Hopes from 1918 Victims

from BBC News Online

Survivors of the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic are still protected from the virus, according to researchers in the US.

American scientists found that people who lived through the outbreak can still produce antibodies that kill the deadly strain of the H1N1 flu. The study, published in the journal Nature, could help develop emergency treatments for future outbreaks.

The Spanish flu outbreak of 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. Some experts say it was the most devastating epidemic in history, affecting even healthy adults.

http://snipurl.com/3htup

Bloating Galaxies Confound Astronomers

from New Scientist

Astronomers continue to puzzle over the recent discovery of a strange population of dense, compact galaxies that existed in the early universe but are nowhere to be seen today.

They suspect the galaxies somehow puffed up into the bloated behemoths we see around us, but new research shortens the timescale during which this mysterious swelling could have happened.

In April, astronomers reported finding extremely compact galaxies as far back as 10 billion years ago, or 3.7 billion years after the big bang. The galaxies contained the same number of stars as modern, blob-shaped galaxies known as ellipticals—but were two to three times smaller on average. Now, observations have turned up compact galaxies roughly a billion years later, when the universe was almost 5 billion years old.

http://snipurl.com/3htvz

Songbirds Show Signs of Recognizing Their Own Bodies in Mirrors

from Science News

Magpies sing a self-reflective tune to themselves that until now has gone unheard. When placed in front of a mirror, these songbirds realize that they’re looking at themselves, raising the possibility that they have independently evolved the brain power to support a basic form of self-recognition, a new study suggests.

Magpies are the first non-mammal to demonstrate a rudimentary affinity for self-recognition, psychologist Helmut Prior of Goethe University in Frankfurt on Main, Germany and his colleagues report in the Aug. 19 PLoS Biology.

Members of the corvid family, which includes crows and ravens, magpies join apes, bottlenose dolphins and elephants as the only animals other than humans that have been observed to understand that a mirror image belongs to their own body.

http://snipurl.com/3htwy

A Monster Discovery? It Was Just a Costume

from ABC News

In the end, it seems Bigfoot was nothing more than a frozen Halloween costume. Last Friday, two men, Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, announced they had found the remains of the elusive legend, Sasquatch, better known as Bigfoot.

The two men had teamed up with self-proclaimed Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi, creating a media bonanza replete with claims that they had a real half-human, half-ape body in their possession.

Biscardi, who himself has a history of dubious Bigfoot sightings, claims the story started to unravel over the weekend. And he apparently tried to shift responsibility to Whitton and Dyer claiming the pair "deceived him." But several Bigfoot academics say all three men appear to have been perpetrating a hoax.

http://snipurl.com/3i0r1

Researchers Say Numbers Aren't Needed to Count

from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—Answer this without counting: Are there more X's here XXXXXX, or here XXXXX? That's a problem facing people whose languages don't include words for more than one or two. Yet researchers say children who speak those languages are still able to compare quantities.

"We argue that humans possess an innate system for enumeration that doesn't rely on words," says Brian Butterworth of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London.

In an attempt to prove it, Butterworth compared the numerical skills of children from two indigenous Australian groups whose languages don't contain many number words with similar children who speak English. All the groups performed equally well, his research team reports in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

http://snipurl.com/3i0sr
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Golden Applesauce on August 21, 2008, 03:33:33 am
Technology's Toll on Privacy and Security

from Scientific American

Computers, databases and networks have connected us like never before, but at what cost?

Scientific American presents a series of reports. Protesters, terrorists and warmongers have found the Internet to be a useful tool to achieve their goals. Our jittery state since 9/11, coupled with the Internet revolution, is shifting the boundaries between public interest and "the right to be let alone."

A little digging on social networks, blogs and Internet search engines lets you put together information about people like pieces of a puzzle. It's not a pretty picture for security or privacy. And with less than three months before the presidential election, the hotly contested state, Ohio, along with others, continue to have problems with E-voting technology.

http://snipurl.com/3hi41

This is a big one.  Some retarded faculty member at my college decided it would be a good idea to post a searchable directory with students name, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses online.  At the moment some faculty members have photos as well; I'm hoping they aren't going to apply that to students as well.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 21, 2008, 04:13:32 am
Technology's Toll on Privacy and Security

from Scientific American

Computers, databases and networks have connected us like never before, but at what cost?

Scientific American presents a series of reports. Protesters, terrorists and warmongers have found the Internet to be a useful tool to achieve their goals. Our jittery state since 9/11, coupled with the Internet revolution, is shifting the boundaries between public interest and "the right to be let alone."

A little digging on social networks, blogs and Internet search engines lets you put together information about people like pieces of a puzzle. It's not a pretty picture for security or privacy. And with less than three months before the presidential election, the hotly contested state, Ohio, along with others, continue to have problems with E-voting technology.

http://snipurl.com/3hi41

This is a big one.  Some retarded faculty member at my college decided it would be a good idea to post a searchable directory with students name, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses online.  At the moment some faculty members have photos as well; I'm hoping they aren't going to apply that to students as well.

We have that here, but you actually have to be a student or staff/faculty to access it, requiring a logon.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Requia ☣ on August 21, 2008, 05:01:17 am
Technology's Toll on Privacy and Security

from Scientific American

Computers, databases and networks have connected us like never before, but at what cost?

Scientific American presents a series of reports. Protesters, terrorists and warmongers have found the Internet to be a useful tool to achieve their goals. Our jittery state since 9/11, coupled with the Internet revolution, is shifting the boundaries between public interest and "the right to be let alone."

A little digging on social networks, blogs and Internet search engines lets you put together information about people like pieces of a puzzle. It's not a pretty picture for security or privacy. And with less than three months before the presidential election, the hotly contested state, Ohio, along with others, continue to have problems with E-voting technology.

http://snipurl.com/3hi41

This is a big one.  Some retarded faculty member at my college decided it would be a good idea to post a searchable directory with students name, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses online.  At the moment some faculty members have photos as well; I'm hoping they aren't going to apply that to students as well.

I used one of those for nefarious purposes a while back.  They are a seriously bad idea.  But then, so are online phone books.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 21, 2008, 02:43:26 pm
Yeah, you could easily find out who I am, where I live, what classes I take, and a thousand other little but revealing things about my identity with only a little digging, assuming you knew where to look.

Thats a risk I'm willing to take.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: AFK on August 21, 2008, 03:36:41 pm
Quote
http://snipurl.com/3hdeq

Pluto Is Part of Hot Debate

from the Baltimore Sun

It was billed as a debate over the 2006 decision by the International Astronomical Union that kicked Pluto out of the family of planets, leaving just eight.

But in the end, after a jocular and noisy tussle before scientists and educators gathered at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, both debaters agreed that the IAU's definition only muddied the waters, and that more time is needed for science to sort out the increasingly complex range of objects circling our sun and other stars.

"Get the notion of counting things out of your system," said Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium. "The more we learn about anything, the more we have to tune the vocabulary we use to describe it."  The two debaters also expressed delight that a scientific debate has captured so much public attention.

"Yeah, that's right bitches! Bow down to my scientifical prowess!"
                                                        /
(http://tinyfrog.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/neiltyson2.jpg)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 21, 2008, 03:54:36 pm
The problem is that there are many many objects circling the sun, from the Jovian planets being the largest, to the inner terrestrial planets, to the smaller Kuiper belt objects and other "dwarf planets" like Eris, to even smaller asteroids, comets, and then the countless meteors.

Theres no simple system to separate these out, but the easiest way, I think, would be by size, location and composition. There's also the issue of hydrostatic equilibrium, that is, the amount of mass needed to cause a planet or planetoid to have a spherical shape. Even some asteroids, such as Ceres, may qualify in that category.

If we really looked hard at this too, we could reclassify the moon as a planet, dwarf planet anyway, and the earth moon as a binary planet system. Both rotate around a center of gravity that is near the earths crust, and not at the center of the earth.

Interesting. Its all interesting.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: AFK on August 21, 2008, 04:12:41 pm
It is interesting.  As our technology has advanced, allowing us to gather in more visual and scientific information about our Solar System, we discover more and more that we have to redefine our models.  It was easy with just the handheld telescopes of yesteryear, when you could just make out the planets. 

Kind of a nice BIP corrolary really.  The more information you allow to come into focus, the more you realize you didn't know as much as you thought you did before. 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 21, 2008, 04:35:18 pm
It is interesting.  As our technology has advanced, allowing us to gather in more visual and scientific information about our Solar System, we discover more and more that we have to redefine our models.  It was easy with just the handheld telescopes of yesteryear, when you could just make out the planets. 

Kind of a nice BIP corrolary really.  The more information you allow to come into focus, the more you realize you didn't know as much as you thought you did before. 

And that ties into a nice law of fives corrolary: the more you focus on this information, the more examples and discoveries become apparent to you.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on August 21, 2008, 04:51:23 pm
It is interesting.  As our technology has advanced, allowing us to gather in more visual and scientific information about our Solar System, we discover more and more that we have to redefine our models.  It was easy with just the handheld telescopes of yesteryear, when you could just make out the planets. 

Kind of a nice BIP corrolary really.  The more information you allow to come into focus, the more you realize you didn't know as much as you thought you did before. 

And I think it is that corrolary that many of the New Atheists seem to miss... those ones that think Dawkins and Darwin solved all of life's mysteries....

At Pennsic I had a conversation with a couple hardcore Atheists... both seemed to think that we'd already discovered pretty much everything we needed to understand Life, The Universe and Everything. One, a younger kid just preparing for college, actually said  that he was getting into astrophysics because it was the only area of science left with mysteries. Biology and the other fields, in his mind, had already been figured out.

*headdesk*


Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: AFK on August 21, 2008, 04:54:52 pm
It is interesting.  As our technology has advanced, allowing us to gather in more visual and scientific information about our Solar System, we discover more and more that we have to redefine our models.  It was easy with just the handheld telescopes of yesteryear, when you could just make out the planets. 

Kind of a nice BIP corrolary really.  The more information you allow to come into focus, the more you realize you didn't know as much as you thought you did before. 

And I think it is that corrolary that many of the New Atheists seem to miss... those ones that think Dawkins and Darwin solved all of life's mysteries....

At Pennsic I had a conversation with a couple hardcore Atheists... both seemed to think that we'd already discovered pretty much everything we needed to understand Life, The Universe and Everything. One, a younger kid just preparing for college, actually said  that he was getting into astrophysics because it was the only area of science left with mysteries. Biology and the other fields, in his mind, had already been figured out.

*headdesk*

Gah!  It's because he's got this nutty idea in his head that because Space is inifinite (maybe?), that means there are limitless possibilities.  A very macrocosm perspective.  Shit, we still haven't fully explained how the very thing we think with works.  Hopefully he'll figure it out sooner, rather then later. 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on August 21, 2008, 04:59:56 pm
It is interesting.  As our technology has advanced, allowing us to gather in more visual and scientific information about our Solar System, we discover more and more that we have to redefine our models.  It was easy with just the handheld telescopes of yesteryear, when you could just make out the planets. 

Kind of a nice BIP corrolary really.  The more information you allow to come into focus, the more you realize you didn't know as much as you thought you did before. 

And I think it is that corrolary that many of the New Atheists seem to miss... those ones that think Dawkins and Darwin solved all of life's mysteries....

At Pennsic I had a conversation with a couple hardcore Atheists... both seemed to think that we'd already discovered pretty much everything we needed to understand Life, The Universe and Everything. One, a younger kid just preparing for college, actually said  that he was getting into astrophysics because it was the only area of science left with mysteries. Biology and the other fields, in his mind, had already been figured out.

*headdesk*

Gah!  It's because he's got this nutty idea in his head that because Space is inifinite (maybe?), that means there are limitless possibilities.  A very macrocosm perspective.  Shit, we still haven't fully explained how the very thing we think with works.  Hopefully he'll figure it out sooner, rather then later. 

Oh no, he was pretty sure we'd discovered everything, including the edge of the Universe... but we just hadn't explained everything like what's inside a black hole. After some discussion he admitted that maybe neurology also had some mysteries left, but nothing else. He was a great kid, but if his view reflects what they're teaching in school, the next generation is gonna be pretty bored. ;-)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 21, 2008, 06:33:18 pm
I wonder where these kids get this idea that everything has been discovered and understood? Maybe their science focuses too much on the things that the scientific communities understand and very little on the massive amount of things that we still lack information of.

Yesterday I was attending a lecture by a rather renowned entomologist. He just recently finished a count of all the known described names of species that were still valid, species of insects I mean. The count came just over 1 million. However, he said, the number of insect species still undescribed is likely 20-50 times what we know now. Even in my own field of study, Trichopterology, we have just over 11,000 described species but the estimate is somewhere around 5 times that.

And thats just species unknowns. That doesn't quantify all the lack of information we have about physiology or ecology, or evolutionary biology, or genetic, etc.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 21, 2008, 06:40:21 pm
Haven't most humans almost always thought that their generation reached the end of knowledge?

It seems almost an inborn trait.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: AFK on August 21, 2008, 06:53:21 pm
Again I think an issue of perspective.  It seems humans have a hard time zooming out to see the larger picture.  Of course with some religion is a confounding variable.  (Like those who think the universe has only existed for a few thousand years)  When you map out the history of the world on a timeline and see how much of a blip humanity is, and then see how much of a blip the average lifespan is, it seems kind of like a no-brainer that we've only scratched the surface.

But when looking at it from a perspective on the ground, within the lifespan, not seeing beyond one's own mortality, yeah, I can see why many would fall into that trap of perceived limitations. 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on August 21, 2008, 06:58:53 pm
GODDESSDAMNIT, WHEN WILL HUMANS LEARN TO SAY

 "I Don't Know?"

(and if you respond with "I don't know..." I will unleash a storm of chaoacorns on your head...)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: AFK on August 21, 2008, 07:13:29 pm
Je ne sais pas.


Ha!  Owned by a Frenchmen!   :D
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 21, 2008, 08:08:10 pm
One, a younger kid just preparing for college, actually said  that he was getting into astrophysics because it was the only area of science left with mysteries. Biology and the other fields, in his mind, had already been figured out.

*headdesk*



Wait, what?  I'm going into biotechnology and there is plenty of unknown.  Hell, there is this neat little thing called recombinant DNA (genetic engineering) that is just begging for work to be done, not to mention stem cells.  There are also oodles of genetic disorders that may be treatable or even curable.  The human genome project may be done, but not epigenetics.  Plus, many non-human species haven't had their genome analyzed.  There is the huge possibility of finding new medicine based on human genes.  Oh, and cancer research, can't forget about cancer.  There is plenty of work to do.

This isn't to say there hasn't been a lot of work done, there has been.  It's also been very impressive.  But, with every answered question, we have a new question.  Not that there is anything wrong with astrophysics, but it's not like the other fields have everything figured out.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on August 21, 2008, 09:36:19 pm
One, a younger kid just preparing for college, actually said  that he was getting into astrophysics because it was the only area of science left with mysteries. Biology and the other fields, in his mind, had already been figured out.

*headdesk*



Wait, what?  I'm going into biotechnology and there is plenty of unknown.  Hell, there is this neat little thing called recombinant DNA (genetic engineering) that is just begging for work to be done, not to mention stem cells.  There are also oodles of genetic disorders that may be treatable or even curable.  The human genome project may be done, but not epigenetics.  Plus, many non-human species haven't had their genome analyzed.  There is the huge possibility of finding new medicine based on human genes.  Oh, and cancer research, can't forget about cancer.  There is plenty of work to do.

This isn't to say there hasn't been a lot of work done, there has been.  It's also been very impressive.  But, with every answered question, we have a new question.  Not that there is anything wrong with astrophysics, but it's not like the other fields have everything figured out.


Precisely... I think I stunned him when I told him that if we had discovered 'everything' there was to know on any subject... then it was just because we were too egotistical, lazy or ignorant to ask the next question.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on August 21, 2008, 09:38:07 pm
Je ne sais pas.


Ha!  Owned by a Frenchmen!   :D

bâtard
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 21, 2008, 10:11:37 pm
Haven't most humans almost always thought that their generation reached the end of knowledge?

It seems almost an inborn trait.

I think it has to do something with both the human complacency when they are in comfort (or comfortable fear) of their environment, and technological plateau which makes them believe that everything to be learned has been.

When people feel uncomfortable with their surroundings, when they want change, and when new technology is challenging the status quo, I think you see less and less of this. Education plays a role because, at least in biology, you have a tendency to be bombarded with the great achievements of the past as the basis for current knowlege and the process tends to be very slow at incorporating new knowlege, which seems to be old, been done, has been by the time its taught.

Also: PEOPLE ARE VERY AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on August 21, 2008, 11:06:12 pm
It is interesting.  As our technology has advanced, allowing us to gather in more visual and scientific information about our Solar System, we discover more and more that we have to redefine our models.  It was easy with just the handheld telescopes of yesteryear, when you could just make out the planets. 

Kind of a nice BIP corrolary really.  The more information you allow to come into focus, the more you realize you didn't know as much as you thought you did before. 

And I think it is that corrolary that many of the New Atheists seem to miss... those ones that think Dawkins and Darwin solved all of life's mysteries....

At Pennsic I had a conversation with a couple hardcore Atheists... both seemed to think that we'd already discovered pretty much everything we needed to understand Life, The Universe and Everything. One, a younger kid just preparing for college, actually said  that he was getting into astrophysics because it was the only area of science left with mysteries. Biology and the other fields, in his mind, had already been figured out.

*headdesk*



Teenagers know absolutely everything there is to know about the universe.  Just ask them. 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 22, 2008, 03:31:19 am
Also: PEOPLE ARE VERY AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES.
This.  What is so terrifying about a complete and total fuck up?  That's the best way to learn.  I love being proven wrong.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 22, 2008, 04:07:49 am
Also: PEOPLE ARE VERY AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES.
This.  What is so terrifying about a complete and total fuck up?  That's the best way to learn.  I love being proven wrong.

Its less about the mistake itself and more about not wanting to be embarrassed or humiliated.

Fact: many people fear public speaking first above even death. Why? Because they fear public embarrassment or humiliation more than anything.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 22, 2008, 04:11:50 am
Also: PEOPLE ARE VERY AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES.
This.  What is so terrifying about a complete and total fuck up?  That's the best way to learn.  I love being proven wrong.

Its less about the mistake itself and more about not wanting to be embarrassed or humiliated.

Fact: many people fear public speaking first above even death. Why? Because they fear public embarrassment or humiliation more than anything.
I don't understand, what is this "embarrassed" you speak of.  I take great pride in acting like a damn fool every day.

And the public speaking thing makes me lol.  I don't care that I've heard it before, it's still so damn funny.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 22, 2008, 10:51:04 am
Its the honest truth. People are deathly afraid of being embarrassed in public. Some cultures took it so far as to kill themselves to leave the pain of being "dishonoured" or loosing face (i.e. the Japanese). As social creatures we subconsciously worry what our peers think of us and where we stand in relation to other people hierarchically because our standing, at least classically, determined the resources that were available for us. That isn't as boldly true anymore, but it still resonates within some aspects of society.

I know I feel it. I don't feel its the worst thing ever but I still have difficulty getting up and speaking to a group of my peers.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 22, 2008, 02:10:26 pm
Yeah, in one of my performance classes, the professor actually forced us to really dig down and say what's the worst thing to happen if we get on stage and mess up in front of an audience.

For most of the class, it boiled down to "people won't like me/find me attractive," or "I won't feel superior to them."

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: AFK on August 22, 2008, 02:27:55 pm
I don't get nervous like I used to when it comes to presenting information and public speaking.  It helps that in Maine, once you've gone to a couple of events in any given field, you've pretty much met everybody in that field and so you get to know people pretty quick.  So it helps when you have people in the audience that you know and who know you are sharp and know what you are talking about.

Otherwise, it's kind of that fear of not presenting to your audience a sense that you are educated and knowledgeable about what you are speaking about.  You know you know it, because it's right there in your head, but your audience can't see that.  So I think that's a big fear too, being able to project your personal knowledge "appropriately". 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 22, 2008, 04:21:05 pm
Its the honest truth. People are deathly afraid of being embarrassed in public. Some cultures took it so far as to kill themselves to leave the pain of being "dishonoured" or loosing face (i.e. the Japanese). As social creatures we subconsciously worry what our peers think of us and where we stand in relation to other people hierarchically because our standing, at least classically, determined the resources that were available for us. That isn't as boldly true anymore, but it still resonates within some aspects of society.

I know I feel it. I don't feel its the worst thing ever but I still have difficulty getting up and speaking to a group of my peers.
Yeah, I do realize that.  I'm just a freak and tend not to give a damn.

For most of the class, it boiled down to "people won't like me/find me attractive," or "I won't feel superior to them."
You don't have to feel you're superior, you have to be superior.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on August 22, 2008, 04:25:16 pm
Ok, we get it, you don't have stagefright.


Sheesh.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on August 22, 2008, 07:02:42 pm
New research has discovered that humans can taste calcium, and it isn't a good taste.  This may explain why so many people have calcium deficiencies.
link (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=osteoporosis-calcium-taste-chalk)

Scientists have found a neurological cause for weight gain as we age.  It looks as if the cells the suppress appetite degenerate over time and the foods that cause the most damage are carbohydrates.
link (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080821110113.htm)

A new catalyst has been found to be effective for the generation of hydrogen from biofuels.  It's 0.1% the cost of traditional catalysts.
link (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080820163111.htm)

An organism that is able to use arsenic instead of water for photosynthesis has been discovered.
link (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=using-a-poison-to-turn-sunlight-into-food)

Climate change has been shown to be responsible for an abnormally low amount of rain in the southwest United States.
 (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=fewer-april-showers-for-southwest)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 26, 2008, 12:24:10 am
August 25, 2008
A Teacher on the Front Line as Faith and Science Clash

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

ORANGE PARK, Fla.—David Campbell switched on the overhead projector and wrote "Evolution" in the rectangle of light on the screen.

He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact.

His gaze rested for a moment on Bryce Haas, a football player who attended the 6 a.m. prayer meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the school gymnasium. "If I do this wrong," Mr. Campbell remembers thinking on that humid spring morning, "I'll lose him."

http://snipurl.com/3jjn4

Undecided Voter? There May Be No Such Thing

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Can't decide between Barack Obama and John McCain? Chances are your brain already has.

Using a simple word association test to look inside voters' heads, Canadian and Italian researchers found that many voters who thought they were undecided had unconsciously made up their minds.

Their decisions arise less from careful deliberation of the facts than from deep-seated attitudes that they have little awareness of, the study found. Inside their brains, undecideds are often partisans, although "they do not know it yet," said Bertram Gawronski, a University of Western Ontario psychologist and senior author of the study.

http://snipurl.com/3itbb

"Water Mafias" Put Stranglehold on Public Water Supply

from National Geographic News

Worldwide corruption driven by mafia-like organizations throughout water industries is forcing the poor to pay more for basic drinking water and sanitation services, according to a new report.

If bribery, organized crime, embezzlement, and other illegal activities continue, consumers and taxpayers will pay the equivalent of U.S. $20 billion over the next decade, says the report, released [last] week at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

The water sector is one of most corrupt after health and education, added Håkan Tropp, chair of the Water Integrity Network (WIN), an advocacy group and report co-author. That's because the poor often don't have a voice in strategic water policy decisions ...

http://snipurl.com/3isrb

How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People

from Scientific American

If you live in a state bordering Canada or Mexico, you may soon be given an opportunity to carry a very high tech item: a remotely readable driver's license.

Designed to identify U.S. citizens as they approach the nation's borders, the cards are being promoted by the Department of Homeland Security as a way to save time and simplify border crossings.

But if you care about your safety and privacy as much as convenience, you might want to think twice before signing up.

http://snipurl.com/3issy

Gravity Is Not the Main Obstacle for America's Space Business

from the Economist

In the spring of 2006 Robert Bigelow needed to take a stand on a trip to Russia to keep a satellite off the floor. ... It was, says the entrepreneur and head of Bigelow Aerospace in Nevada, "indistinguishable from a common coffee table."

Nonetheless, the American authorities told Mr Bigelow that this coffee table was part of a satellite assembly and so counted as a munition. During the trip it would have to be guarded by two security officers at all times.

Exporting technology has always presented a dilemma for America. ... If export rules are too lax, foreign powers will be able to put American technology in their systems, or copy it. But if the rules are too tight, then it will stifle the industries that depend upon sales to create the next generation of technology.

http://snipurl.com/3isvs

At Conference on the Risks to Earth, Few Are Optimistic

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

ERICE, Sicily—This ancient hilltop town ... is hosting a very modern gathering: a conference on global risks like cyberterrorism, climate change, nuclear weapons and the world's lagging energy supply.

More than 120 scientists, engineers, analysts and economists from 30 countries were hunkered down here for the 40th annual conference on "planetary emergencies."

The term was coined by Dr. Antonino Zichichi, a native son and a theoretical physicist who has made Erice a hub for experts to discuss persistent, and potentially catastrophic, global challenges. The participants were not particularly optimistic.

http://snipurl.com/3jjn6

Global Warming Sign? Huge Petermann Glacier in Arctic Is Cracking

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

In northern Greenland, a part of the Arctic that had seemed immune from global warming, new satellite images show a growing giant crack and an 11-square-mile chunk of ice hemorrhaging off a major glacier, scientists said Thursday.

That has led the university professor who spotted the wounds in the massive Petermann glacier to predict disintegration of a major portion of the Northern Hemisphere's largest floating glacier within the year.
 
... The question that now faces scientists is: Are the fractures part of normal glacier stress or are they the beginning of the effects of global warming?

http://snipurl.com/3jjn8

Sky Survey Yields New Cosmic Haul

from BBC News Online

Astronomers looking through the data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the world's largest survey of galaxies, have found a new haul of objects closer to home—including one with a potentially exotic origin.

By searching through a survey region known as Stripe 82, a team led by Dr Andrew Becker of the University of Washington, has discovered almost 50 new asteroid-sized bodies in the outer regions of our Solar System.

As part of a search for supernovae—exploding stars in distant galaxies—the robotic Sloan telescope in New Mexico revisited this area of the southern sky every three days. By comparing images taken on different nights, the Washington team was able to detect the asteroids as they moved across the sky.

http://snipurl.com/3jjnc

Virus-Infecting Virus Fuels Definition of Life Debate

from National Geographic News

The discovery of a massive virus that suffers from another virus has reignited debate over whether the microscopic agents of infection should be considered living things rather than bags of genes.

Earlier this month scientists reported a new strain of giant virus called mamavirus, which was first detected in amoebas from a water-cooling tower in Paris.

In a recent study, electron microscopy revealed a much smaller virus attached to the mamavirus, which the study authors say made the host virus grow abnormally and damaged its ability to replicate. The tiny satellite virus, dubbed Sputnik, is the first described virophage—so named because its behavior resembles that of bacteria-targeting viruses known as bacteriophages.

http://snipurl.com/3jjni

Seeing in Four Dimensions

from Science News

Three dimensions can be so limiting. Mathematicians, freed in their imaginations from physical constraints, can conjure up descriptions of objects in many more dimensions than that.

... There is the minor difficulty that our nervous systems are only equipped to conjure images in three dimensions. But that doesn't stop Étienne Ghys of the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, from visualizing the four-dimensional dynamical systems he studies: "I live in dimension four," he says.

And you can too. Ghys has now created a series of videos teaching others to visualize four dimensions the way he does.

http://snipurl.com/3jjnm
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on August 30, 2008, 02:38:24 pm
August 29, 2008

Ancient Urban Network Mapped in Amazon Forests
from National Geographic News

Dozens of densely packed, pre-Columbian towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced [yesterday].

The finding suggests that vast swathes of "pristine" rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists.

"It is very different from what we might expect using certain classic models of urbanism," noted study co-author Michael Heckenberger, an anthropologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Nevertheless, he said, the repeated patterns within and among settlements across the landscape suggest a highly ordered and planned society on par with any medieval European town.

http://snipurl.com/3kyq8


U.S. Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Jalapenos Appears Over
from USA Today

The largest outbreak of food-borne illness in the past decade may finally be over. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the salmonella outbreak tied to tomatoes, jalapeno and serrano chilies appears to have ended. The Food and Drug Administration has also lifted its advice to consumers to avoid eating raw jalapenos and serrano peppers grown or packed in Mexico.

A total of 1,442 people were infected with the rare bacterial strain known as salmonella saintpaul. At least 286 were hospitalized. The CDC says the infection, which can cause diarrhea and dehydration, may have contributed to at least two deaths.

The first documented case began on April 16, and the last occurred on Aug. 11. Most fell ill in May or June. The only states with no documented cases were Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

http://snipurl.com/3kyqd


Beetle Drive
from the Economist

One of the lies regularly promulgated by creationist ideologues is that you cannot see evolution in action right now. For microorganisms this is obviously untrue. The evolution of new viral diseases, such as AIDS, is one example.

The evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is another. But bacteria and viruses breed fast, so natural selection has time, within the span of a human life, to make a difference. For species with longer generations, examples are less numerous. But they do exist.

A new one has just been published, appropriately, in Evolution. It concerns dung beetles. Harald Parzer and Armin Moczek, of Indiana University, have been studying a species called Onthophagus taurus. Or, rather, it was a species 50 years ago, but it is now heading rapidly towards becoming at least four of them.

http://snipurl.com/3kyqg


Gene Linked to Eye Disease
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

LA JOLLA—An international team led by a UCSD eye researcher has found the first genetic link to dry age-related macular degeneration, the most common form of progressive blindness.

A study by the team describes a genetic variant in about 66 percent of the population that appears to protect people from certain kinds of viral damage, a leading suspect in the development of the eye disease. People who lack this variant are not protected and thus more vulnerable to dry macular degeneration.

The discovery was spearheaded by Dr. Kang Zhang of the Shiley Eye Center at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla. About 900,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with dry macular degeneration, and up to 10 million are at risk.

http://snipurl.com/3kyqo


Fly's Brain 'Senses Swat Threat'
from BBC News Online

Researchers in the US say that they have solved the mystery of why flies are so hard to swat. They think the fly's ability to dodge being hit is due to its fast acting brain and an ability to plan ahead.

High speed, high resolution video recordings revealed the insects quickly work out where a threat is coming from and prepare an escape route.

The research suggests that the best way of swatting a fly is to creep up slowly and aim ahead of its location. The study has been published in the journal Current Biology.

http://snipurl.com/3kyqs


A-Beta on the Brain
from Science News

Amyloid-beta is a thinking brain's protein. A new study involving people with severe brain injuries shows that as neuronal activity increases, levels of amyloid-beta in the brain also go up.

A-beta, as the protein is sometimes called, is best known for causing plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. It is a normal component of the brain, but scientists don't know what it does.

Traumatic brain injuries increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease. So to find out if brain injuries cause a spike in amyloid-beta levels that could lead to plaque formation, a team of researchers from Milan, Italy, and Washington University in St. Louis sampled fluid from the brains of 18 comatose patients.

http://snipurl.com/3kyqx


Purdue, Citing Research Misconduct, Punishes Scientist
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

An appeals committee at Purdue University has upheld findings of misconduct on the part of a professor who claims to have created energy-generating fusion in a tabletop experiment, the university announced on Wednesday.

With the findings, William R. Woodson, the university's provost, has imposed punishment on the professor, Rusi P. Taleyarkhan. Dr. Taleyarkhan remains on the Purdue faculty, but his distinction as a "named professor" has been removed, along with an annual allotment of $25,000 that accompanied it.

In addition, he is prohibited from serving as a thesis adviser to graduate students for at least the next three years. John Lewis, a lawyer for him, said Dr. Taleyarkhan was considering his options, among them challenging the sanctions in court.

http://snipurl.com/3kyr3


University's Plans for Milton Friedman Institute Spark Outcry
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

CHICAGO, Aug. 27—Plans by the University of Chicago to establish a research institute named after legendary free-market economist Milton Friedman have caused an uproar at the school on the city's South Side.

More than 100 tenured faculty members have signed letters and a petition opposing the institute, which would be paid for by private donations and would conduct research in economics, medicine, public policy and law. Critics say that they are concerned the institute will be a partisan, elitist organization and that it shouldn't be under the auspices of a university.

"There are a lot of aspects that look like a right-wing think tank. I'm very worried about that possibility," said Bruce Lincoln, a professor of the history of religions who helped draft the letters and petition. "People are concerned about the blurring of the line between Friedman's technical work in economics and his fairly well-known persona as a political advocate of a very pure, free-market conservative or neoliberal position, where the market is the solution to everything."

http://snipurl.com/3kyq5


Photographs of Dead Sea Scrolls to Go Online
from the Guardian (UK)

Scientists and scholars in Jerusalem have begun a programme to take the first high-resolution digital photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls so that they can be shown on the internet.

The Israel Antiquities Authority ends a pilot project this week which prepares the way for a much larger operation to photograph the 15,000-20,000 fragments that make up the 900 scrolls. The scrolls, first photographed in the 1950s after their discovery by shepherds in caves near the Dead Sea, have been kept in monitored conditions in a vault. Only four specially trained curators are allowed to handle them.

In a project that could take five years and cost millions of dollars, the fragments will be photographed first by a 39-megapixel digital camera then by another digital camera in infra-red light. Finally, some will be photographed using a sophisticated multi-spectral imaging camera.

http://snipurl.com/3kyr4


Portable GPS Units Establish Defendants' Whereabouts
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

(Associated Press)—Like millions of motorists, Eric Hanson used a GPS unit in his Chevrolet TrailBlazer to find his way around. He probably didn't expect that prosecutors would eventually use it too—to help convict him of killing four family members.

Prosecutors in suburban Chicago analyzed data from the Garmin GPS device to pinpoint where Hanson had been on the morning after his parents were fatally shot and his sister and brother-in-law bludgeoned to death in 2005. He was convicted of the killings earlier this year and sentenced to death.

Hanson's trial was among recent criminal cases around the country in which authorities used GPS navigation devices to help establish a defendant's whereabouts. Experts say such evidence will almost certainly become more common in court as GPS systems become more affordable and show up in more vehicles.

http://snipurl.com/3kyr7

 

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Requia ☣ on August 31, 2008, 12:37:17 am
Undecided Voter? There May Be No Such Thing

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Can't decide between Barack Obama and John McCain? Chances are your brain already has.

Using a simple word association test to look inside voters' heads, Canadian and Italian researchers found that many voters who thought they were undecided had unconsciously made up their minds.

Their decisions arise less from careful deliberation of the facts than from deep-seated attitudes that they have little awareness of, the study found. Inside their brains, undecideds are often partisans, although "they do not know it yet," said Bertram Gawronski, a University of Western Ontario psychologist and senior author of the study.

http://snipurl.com/3itbb
[/quote]

Heuristic modules do not imply counciousness follows suit  :argh!:

The only thing these tests determine is decision making capability when you strip the agent of the ability to think about what they are doing.  Useful for talking about latent tendancies and studying societal imprints, not useful for predicting premeditated behavior.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on September 02, 2008, 07:15:12 am
Quote
Gene Linked to Eye Disease
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

LA JOLLA—An international team led by a UCSD eye researcher has found the first genetic link to dry age-related macular degeneration, the most common form of progressive blindness.

A study by the team describes a genetic variant in about 66 percent of the population that appears to protect people from certain kinds of viral damage, a leading suspect in the development of the eye disease. People who lack this variant are not protected and thus more vulnerable to dry macular degeneration.

The discovery was spearheaded by Dr. Kang Zhang of the Shiley Eye Center at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla. About 900,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with dry macular degeneration, and up to 10 million are at risk.

http://snipurl.com/3kyqo

Well, looks like I'm fucked.  Three generations of my family have had surgery for macular degeneration and I will more than likely be next.  :sad:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 06, 2008, 03:43:37 pm
September 5, 2008

For the Brain, Remembering Is Like Reliving
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Scientists have for the first time recorded individual brain cells in the act of summoning a spontaneous memory, revealing not only where a remembered experience is registered but also, in part, how the brain is able to recreate it.

The recordings, taken from the brains of epilepsy patients being prepared for surgery, demonstrate that these spontaneous memories reside in some of the same neurons that fired most furiously when the recalled event had been experienced. Researchers had long theorized as much but until now had only indirect evidence.

Experts said the study had all but closed the case: For the brain, remembering is a lot like doing (at least in the short term, as the research says nothing about more distant memories).

http://snipurl.com/3nagx


Mammoths Moved 'Out of America'
from BBC News Online

Scientists have discovered that the last Siberian woolly mammoths may have originated in North America. Their research in the journal Current Biology represents the largest study of ancient woolly mammoth DNA.

The scientists also question the direct role of climate change in the eventual demise of these large beasts.

They believe that woolly mammoths survived through the period when the ice sheets were at their maximum, while other Ice Age mammals "crashed out." The iconic Ice Age woolly mammoth—Mammuthus primigenius—roamed through mainland Eurasia and North America until about 10,000 years ago.

http://snipurl.com/3mzcv


Study Finds No Autism Link in Vaccine
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

A common vaccine given to children to protect them against measles, mumps and rubella is not linked to autism, a study published [Wednesday] concludes. The findings contradict earlier research that had fueled fears of a possible link between childhood vaccinations and a steep increase in autism diagnoses.

In February 1998, the Lancet journal published a study by British researcher Andrew Wakefield of 12 children with autism and other behavioral problems that suggested the onset of their behavioral abnormalities was linked to receiving the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.

The new study comes as the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington is in the midst of evaluating evidence on whether children's vaccines are implicated in causing autism.

http://snipurl.com/3mz48


Milky Way's Black Hole Seen in New Detail
from Science News

New radio wave observations are giving astronomers their closest look yet at the supermassive black hole believed to be lurking at the center of our galaxy.

Reporting in the Sept. 4 Nature, a team has, for the first time, resolved features as small as the black hole's event horizon—the gravitationally warped region from which nothing, not even light, can escape.

"We have now entered a new era, one in which we can directly image structure at the event horizon of a black hole," asserts Christopher Reynolds of the University of Maryland in College Park in a commentary accompanying the Nature report.

http://snipurl.com/3mzul


BPA Linked to Primate Health Issues
from the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON—Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have linked a chemical found in everyday plastics to problems with brain function and mood disorders in monkeys, the first time the chemical has been connected to health problems in primates.

The study is the latest in an accumulation of research that has raises concerns about bisphenol A, or BPA, a compound that gives a shatterproof quality to polycarbonate plastic and has been found to leach from plastic into food and water.

The Yale study results come as federal toxicologists Wednesday reaffirmed an earlier draft-report finding that there is "some concern" bisphenol A can cause developmental problems in the brain and hormonal systems of infants and children.

http://snipurl.com/3mzft


Doctors: New Way to Spot Breast Cancer Shows Promise
from USA Today

A radioactive tracer that "lights up" cancer hiding inside dense breasts showed promise in its first big test against mammograms, revealing more tumors and giving fewer false alarms, doctors reported Wednesday.

The experimental method—molecular breast imaging, or MBI—would not replace mammograms for women at average risk of the disease.

But it might become an additional tool for higher-risk women with a lot of dense tissue that makes tumors hard to spot on mammograms, and it could be done at less cost than an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.

http://snipurl.com/3mz9s


Cracking Anthrax
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

Attacked by Bacillus anthracis in its most virulent form, the human body is no match. White blood cells dispatched to kill the pathogen wind up transporting anthrax spores back to key organs, where the bacteria burst forth in multitudes, flooding the bloodstream with death-dealing toxins.

By the time many victims realize they're infected, they're already doomed. Anthrax is an old nemesis.

... Robert Koch, a pioneer in microbiology, finally isolated the bacterium in 1877, helping launch a scientific effort to understand and overcome the microbe. That effort continues around the world, including inside labs at San Diego State University and the University of California San Diego. A driving motivation is fear, of course.

http://snipurl.com/3mzpn


How the Large Hadron Collider Might Change the Web
from Scientific American

When the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) begins smashing protons together this fall inside its 17-mile-circumference underground particle racetrack near Geneva, Switzerland, it will usher in a new era not only of physics but also of computing.

Before the year is out, the LHC is projected to begin pumping out a tsunami of raw data equivalent to one DVD (five gigabytes) every five seconds. Its annual output of 15 petabytes (15 million gigabytes) will soon dwarf that of any other scientific experiment in history.

The challenge is making that data accessible to a scientist anywhere in the world at the execution of a few commands on her laptop. The solution is a global computer network called the LHC Computing Grid, and with any luck, it may be giving us a glimpse of the Internet of the future.

http://snipurl.com/3mzwa


A Changing Climate of Opinion?
from the Economist

There is a branch of science fiction that looks at the Earth's neighbours, Mars and Venus, and asks how they might be made habitable. The answer is planetary engineering. ... So, fiddle with the atmospheres of these neighbours and you open new frontiers for human settlement and far-fetched story lines.

It is an intriguing idea. It may even come to pass, though probably not in the lifetime of anyone now reading such stories. But what is more worrying—and more real—is the idea that such planetary engineering may be needed to make the Earth itself habitable by humanity, and that it may be needed in the near future.

Reality has a way of trumping art, and human-induced climate change is very real indeed. So real that some people are asking whether science fiction should now be converted into science fact.

http://snipurl.com/3mzzm 


Scientists Map Gene Changes Linked to Cancer
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—Scientists have mapped the cascade of genetic changes that turn normal cells in the brain and pancreas into two of the most lethal cancers. The result points to a new approach for fighting tumors and maybe even catching them sooner.

Genes blamed for one person's brain tumor were different from the culprits for the next patient, making the puzzle of cancer genetics even more complicated. But Friday's research also found that clusters of seemingly disparate genes all work along the same pathways.

So instead of today's hunt for drugs that target a single gene, the idea is to target entire pathways that most patients share. Think of delivering the mail to a single box at the end of the cul-de-sac instead of at every doorstep. The three studies, published in the journals Science and Nature, mark a milestone in cancer genetics.

http://snipurl.com/3nakt 

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on September 06, 2008, 07:53:27 pm

Study Finds No Autism Link in Vaccine
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

A common vaccine given to children to protect them against measles, mumps and rubella is not linked to autism, a study published [Wednesday] concludes. The findings contradict earlier research that had fueled fears of a possible link between childhood vaccinations and a steep increase in autism diagnoses.

In February 1998, the Lancet journal published a study by British researcher Andrew Wakefield of 12 children with autism and other behavioral problems that suggested the onset of their behavioral abnormalities was linked to receiving the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.

The new study comes as the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington is in the midst of evaluating evidence on whether children's vaccines are implicated in causing autism.

http://snipurl.com/3mz48

Well, duh!  Anyone who still thinks that it's the vaccines that cause autism deserves to have their child get measles, mumps, and rubella all at the same time.

Quote
How the Large Hadron Collider Might Change the Web
from Scientific American

When the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) begins smashing protons together this fall inside its 17-mile-circumference underground particle racetrack near Geneva, Switzerland, it will usher in a new era not only of physics but also of computing.

Before the year is out, the LHC is projected to begin pumping out a tsunami of raw data equivalent to one DVD (five gigabytes) every five seconds. Its annual output of 15 petabytes (15 million gigabytes) will soon dwarf that of any other scientific experiment in history.

The challenge is making that data accessible to a scientist anywhere in the world at the execution of a few commands on her laptop. The solution is a global computer network called the LHC Computing Grid, and with any luck, it may be giving us a glimpse of the Internet of the future.

http://snipurl.com/3mzwa

And people said that the LHC would be a worthless boondoggle. (THAT WILL END ALL LIFE IN THIS QUANDRANT OF SPACE!!!111! ZOMG!!!)


Quote
Scientists Map Gene Changes Linked to Cancer
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—Scientists have mapped the cascade of genetic changes that turn normal cells in the brain and pancreas into two of the most lethal cancers. The result points to a new approach for fighting tumors and maybe even catching them sooner.

Genes blamed for one person's brain tumor were different from the culprits for the next patient, making the puzzle of cancer genetics even more complicated. But Friday's research also found that clusters of seemingly disparate genes all work along the same pathways.

So instead of today's hunt for drugs that target a single gene, the idea is to target entire pathways that most patients share. Think of delivering the mail to a single box at the end of the cul-de-sac instead of at every doorstep. The three studies, published in the journals Science and Nature, mark a milestone in cancer genetics.

http://snipurl.com/3nakt 


Sweet!  It's awesome to know that a real cure for cancer could happen in our lifetimes.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 10, 2008, 04:56:33 pm
September 10, 2008

'Big Bang' Experiment Starts Well
from BBC News Online

Scientists have hailed a successful switch-on for an enormous experiment which will recreate the conditions a few moments after the Big Bang.

They have fired a beam of particles called protons around the 27km-long tunnel which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The £5bn machine on the Swiss-French border is designed to smash particles together with cataclysmic force. Scientists hope it will shed light on fundamental questions in physics.

The beam completed its first circuit of the underground tunnel at just before 0930 BST. "There it is," project leader Lyn Evans said when the beam completed its lap. There were cheers in the control room when engineers heard of the successful test. He added later: "We had a very good start-up."

http://snipurl.com/3owds


Down Canyons and Up Cliffs, Pursuing Southwest's Ancient Art
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

In his mid-60s, Ekkehart Malotki, a retired linguistics professor, willingly dangled from a rope tied to a car that was backed to the edge of a cliff. A half-dozen times, he descended with his rope, photographed the cliff face and climbed back up.

He was documenting a rock art panel a quarter-mile long in northern Arizona. These adventures are commonplace for Dr. Malotki, a German-born American who is now 69.

Dr. Malotki fell in love with America’s desert Southwest as a 20-something graduate student of languages at the University of California, San Diego. There, he debunked the longstanding notion that the Hopi tribe of northern Arizona did not talk about time. He believes time is a fundamental, universal concept that is likely to appear in the words of any human culture, and with respect to the Hopi, he was right.

http://snipurl.com/3ooti


The Sun Will Eventually Engulf Earth—Maybe
from Scientific American

The future looks bright—maybe too bright. The sun is slowly expanding and brightening, and over the next few billion years it will eventually desiccate Earth, leaving it hot, brown and uninhabitable.

About 7.6 billion years from now, the sun will reach its maximum size as a red giant: its surface will extend beyond Earth's orbit today by 20 percent and will shine 3,000 times brighter. In its final stage, the sun will collapse into a white dwarf.

Although scientists agree on the sun's future, they disagree about what will happen to Earth. Since 1924, when British mathematician James Jeans first considered Earth's fate during the sun's red giant phase, a bevy of scientists have reached oscillating conclusions. In some scenarios, our planet escapes vaporization; in the latest analyses, however, it does not.

http://snipurl.com/3omat


Neanderthals Grew Fast, but Sexual Maturity Came Late
from National Geographic News

Live fast, die young—this is how our closest relatives the Neanderthals were traditionally thought to progress through life. But a new study of Neanderthal skeletons suggests the species grew quickly but reached sexual maturity later than so-called modern humans—and quite possibly survived to a ripe old age.

The study also suggests that Neanderthals had a harder time of child bearing and possibly child raising. As a result, modern humans may have simply outbred their heavy-browed rivals. By studying the skulls of Neanderthal babies, researchers were able to estimate how quickly the infants' brains grew.

They found that between birth and adulthood, a Neanderthal brain expanded faster than that of a modern human. The biggest growth spurt occurred in the first couple of years of life.

http://snipurl.com/3om7c


Friendly Invaders
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

New Zealand is home to 2,065 native plants found nowhere else on Earth. They range from magnificent towering kauri trees to tiny flowers that form tightly packed mounds called vegetable sheep.

When Europeans began arriving in New Zealand, they brought with them alien plants—crops, garden plants and stowaway weeds. Today, 22,000 non-native plants grow in New Zealand. Most of them can survive only with the loving care of gardeners and farmers. But 2,069 have become naturalized: they have spread out across the islands on their own. There are more naturalized invasive plant species in New Zealand than native species.

It sounds like the makings of an ecological disaster ... But in a paper published in August in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dov Sax, an ecologist at Brown University, and Steven D. Gaines, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, point out that the invasion has not led to a mass extinction of native plants. The number of documented extinctions of native New Zealand plant species is a grand total of three.

http://snipurl.com/3om1z


'Water Bears' Are First Animal to Survive Space Vacuum
from New Scientist

Tiny invertebrates called 'water bears' can survive in the vacuum of space, a European Space Agency experiment has shown. They are the first animals known to be able to survive the harsh combination of low pressure and intense radiation found in space.

Water bears, also known as tardigrades, are known for their virtual indestructibility on Earth. The creatures can survive intense pressures, huge doses of radiation, and years of being dried out.

To further test their hardiness, Ingemar Jönsson of Sweden's Kristianstad University and colleagues launched two species of dried-up tardigrades from Kazakhstan in September 2007 aboard ESA's FOTON-M3 mission, which carried a variety of experimental payloads.

http://snipurl.com/3omdx


Some Teens So Heavy They Face Liver Damage, Transplants
from USA Today

TRENTON, N.J. (Associated Press)—In a new and disturbing twist on the obesity epidemic, some overweight teenagers have severe liver damage caused by too much body fat, and a handful have needed liver transplants. Many more may need a new liver by their 30s or 40s, say experts warning that pediatricians need to be more vigilant.

The condition, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure or liver cancer, is being seen in kids in the United States, Europe, Australia and even some developing countries, according to a surge of recent medical studies and doctors interviewed by The Associated Press.

The American Liver Foundation and other experts estimate 2% to 5% of American children over age 5, nearly all of them obese or overweight, have the condition, called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

http://snipurl.com/3ooa8


Potent Promise: Essential Stemness
from Science News

Stem cells' powers of self-renewal, immortality and potential for medicine inspire those who study them. But progress toward understanding them has been slow—it took 20 years just to figure out how to grow embryonic stem cells in the laboratory.

More recently, though, molecular techniques have enabled swift movement on two fronts. Researchers are starting to see how stem cells can replenish their numbers while giving rise to specialized cells.

Others are learning how to turn adult skin cells into cells more like their embryonic ancestors. These advances offer hope that scientists will soon harness the capabilities of stem cells, at last fulfilling the cells' promise.

http://snipurl.com/3oooe


Blood-Sugar Control Benefits May Last
from the Seattle Times

Diabetics who tightly control their blood sugar—even if only for the first decade after they are diagnosed—have lower risks of heart attack, death and other complications 10 or more years later, a large follow-up study has found.

The discovery of this "legacy effect" may put new emphasis on rigorous treatment when people first learn they have type 2 diabetes, the most common form and the type linked to obesity.

Doctors warn that people should not let their blood sugar spin out of control—that could have serious health consequences. "What you don't want is for people to think that they had a period of good glucose control and then they allow their blood glucose to go high—that would be disadvantageous," said Dr. Stephen Davis, head of Vanderbilt University's diabetes and endocrinology division, who had no role in the study.

http://snipurl.com/3owfm 


Lost Bacteria Collection Raises Concerns about Biobanks
from Nature News

A US congressional investigation into the destruction of more than 10,000 bacterial samples from an infectious disease laboratory has led to a call for uniform guidelines governing federally funded biobanks.

At a subcommittee hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology on Tuesday 9 September, representatives expressed their dismay at the destruction of specimens maintained by researchers then at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

After the Special Pathogens Laboratory there was closed in 2006, administrators decided to destroy the samples without warning, even as researchers prepared to transfer the collection to the nearby University of Pittsburgh. Loss of the specimens prompted an outcry from the microbiology community and nearly 250 researchers signed a petition calling for an independent inquiry into the matter.

http://snipurl.com/3owiy

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 11, 2008, 04:13:16 pm
September 11, 2008

Condors in a Coal Mine
from Smithsonian Magazine

It was early winter, the end of deer-hunting season in Central California, and condor biologist Joe Burnett of the Ventana Wildlife Society was steeling himself for a task he had come to dread. Burnett and a team of four Condor Recovery Program members were at a remote site in the mountains east of Big Sur, where they were trapping condors and testing them for lead poisoning.

Three team members were restraining an adult female known as Condor 208. Their arms encircled her body, and one person clamped the bird's powerful jaws shut. Burnett grabbed a syringe. "OK, here we go," he said. The team members tightened their hold, and Burnett plunged the needle into the bird's leg. The condor flinched.

Burnett transferred a drop of blood to a glass slide and inserted it into a portable instrument that tests blood for lead. It takes the instrument three minutes to give a reading; Burnett calls the waiting time "180 seconds from hell." ... The machine beeped and displayed the test result: High. The bird's blood-lead level was elevated beyond the instrument's range. Condor 208 was in mortal danger.

http://snipurl.com/3oyc4 


Particle Accelerator Speeds Into an Age of "New Physics"
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

MEYRIN, Switzerland—It is the biggest machine ever built. Everyone says it looks like a movie set for a corny James Bond villain. They are correct. The machine is attended by brainiacs wearing hard hats and running around on catwalks. They are looking for the answer to the question: Where does everything in the universe come from? Price tag: $8 billion plus.

The world's largest particle accelerator is buried deep in the earth beneath herds of placid dairy cows grazing on the Swiss-French border. The thing has been under construction for years, like the pyramids. Its centerpiece is a circular 17-mile tunnel that contains a pipe swaddled in supermagnets refrigerated to crazy-low temperatures, colder than deep space.

The idea is to set two beams of protons traveling in opposite directions around the tunnel, redlining at the speed of light, generating wicked energy that will mimic the cataclysmic conditions at the beginning of time, then smashing into each other in a furious re-creation of the Big Bang—this time recorded by giant digital cameras.

http://snipurl.com/3oykp


Potent Promise: Back to the Womb
from Science News

Reverting adult cells to an embryonic state without creating embryos is a tricky business

The diagnosis is not good; the patient will need surgery. So the doctor plucks a hair from the patient's head and tells her to come back in a few weeks. When the patient returns, the surgeon patches up the faulty organ by implanting healthy cells generated in the lab from the patient's hair follicle. After a few months, the new cells have integrated into the organ and the woman's symptoms recede. A year later, she's healthy and living a normal life.

This is the scenario that stem cell researchers hope will be commonplace 10 or 15 years from now. A patient's own cells—perhaps taken from hair follicles, blood or skin—would be transformed into cells of the heart, brain or other organs. Doctors would then transplant these converted cells into the afflicted organ to treat the illness, whether it's multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, heart failure or diabetes.

http://snipurl.com/3owzq


Creationism Vs. Evolution
from Scientific American

The controversy over evolution rages on. Win all your debates against creationists with the science in our special report.

A recent movie, Expelled, claims that intelligent design is good science that is being censored by adherents to evolution, which is nothing but Darwinian dogma. Creationists cast themselves as proponents of "academic freedom." Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don't hold up.

Two prominent defenders of science exchange their views on how scientists ought to approach religion and its followers. Plus an interactive map of the U.S. highlights this year's battlegrounds in the fight to teach evolution.

http://snipurl.com/3oy8o


Steven Wiley Recounts "My Favorite Fraud"
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

Last week I was at a scientific conference in which career development was a major topic. The audience included mostly scientists at an early stage in their careers, but also a few older scientists, like myself, who were to provide advice on how to manage laboratories and careers.

Popular discussion topics included how to run lab meetings and deal with the egos of graduate students and postdocs. My particular advice included: Keep current with experimental technologies, and evaluate papers on a technical basis before trusting their conclusions.

I'm sure that this advice sounded to some like the musings of a compulsive technogeek, but it was prompted by an incident that happened when I was a postdoc.

http://snipurl.com/3oygs


The Science of Happiness
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

If recent scientific research on happiness—and there has been quite a bit—has proved anything, it's that happiness is not a goal. It's a process. Although our tendency to be happy or not is partly inborn, it's also partly within our control.

And, perhaps more surprising, happiness brings success, not the other way around. Though many people think happiness is elusive, scientists have actually pinned it down and know how to get it.

For years, many in the field of psychology saw the science of happiness as an oxymoron. "We got no respect," says Ed Diener, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, who began studying happiness in 1981. "Critics said you couldn't study happiness because you couldn't measure it." In the mid-1990s, he and a few other researchers started to prove the naysayers wrong.

http://snipurl.com/3p08t 


Diatom Nanostructures Bend Light
from BBC News Online

Simple marine algae called diatoms have evolved intricate structures that allow them to manipulate light. Visible light is strongly diffracted when it passes through tiny holes in their silica-based cell walls, scientists say.

Understanding the physical principles that allow diatoms to trap solar energy more efficiently may also help develop new synthetic replicas. This research was presented at the BA Science Festival in Liverpool.

Nature started to evolve complex colour and light manipulating systems during the Cambrian explosion—about 500 million years ago. Scientists have been inspired by the natural systems that are found in wide range of organisms—including peacocks, butterflies and beetles. These single-celled marine algae are found in almost all aquatic environments on Earth.

http://snipurl.com/3p0bc


Cold Water Rings Dinner Bell for West Coast Salmon
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

A federal oceanographer says a flip-flop in atmospheric conditions is creating a feast for salmon and other sea life off the West Coast, reversing a trend that contributed to a virtual shutdown of West Coast salmon fishing this summer.

Bill Peterson of NOAA Fisheries in Newport, Ore., said Tuesday the change in cycle of an atmospheric condition known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation last fall has brought cold water flows from the Gulf of Alaska, which are carrying an abundance of tiny animals known as copepods that are the foundation of the food chain.

It's unknown how long the good times will last, but Peterson said ocean surveys of chinook salmon in June found lots of yearling juveniles, which should grow up to be plentiful stocks of adults by 2010. Coho surveys start in a couple weeks.

http://snipurl.com/3p0hd


Old Forests Capture Plenty of Carbon
from Nature News

Old forests continue to accumulate carbon at a much greater rate than researchers had previously thought, making them more important as carbon sinks that must be factored into global climate models, researchers say.

Until recently, it was assumed that very old forests no longer absorbed carbon. The only new growth occurred in the small spaces that opened up when large old trees died and decomposed, releasing their accumulated carbon. The forests at large were therefore considered to be carbon neutral, and accounted as such in climate models.

In the past decade or so, murmurs of disagreement with this idea have grown louder, and individual projects have found that even very old forests are capable of storing carbon thanks to tree growth, the addition of new trees and a decreased rate of respiration in old trees.

http://snipurl.com/3p0ik


Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Questioned for Some Arthritis Patients
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

(Associated Press) Two studies call into question whether many people with arthritis are needlessly undergoing one of the most common operations in America: arthroscopic knee surgery.

One finds that surgery is no better than medication and physical therapy for relieving the pain and stiffness of moderate or severe arthritis. The other reveals that tears in knee cartilage—which often prompt such surgeries—are very common without causing symptoms.

Experts said the new studies and other evidence show arthroscopic knee surgery still has a place, such as after a recent injury, but shouldn't be done routinely for osteoarthritis. ... The studies were published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

http://snipurl.com/3p9bw

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 20, 2008, 09:20:09 pm
http://www.dailytech.com/A+Melting+Arctic+Happy+News+for+Mankind/article12882.htm
arctic melting may be good news

Recent short-term gains in Arctic ice coverage indicate nothing about the eventual state of the Arctic. Answers to the long-term status of the region lie in the realm of a scientific branch known as paleoclimatology. What does it tell us?

The Earth is currently in the geologic epoch known as the Holocene. This began nearly 12,000 years ago when the last ice age (more precisely, the Weichsal glacial) ended. Temperatures warmed, glaciers began to retreat, and the Arctic began to melt. This began what is called an interglacial: a warmer period between glaciation.

We tend to think of the poles as immutable, but geologically speaking, permanent polar ice is a rare phenomenon, comprising less than 10% of history. Icecaps form briefly between interglacials, only to melt as the next one begins -- this time around will be no different.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 20, 2008, 10:18:08 pm
http://www.dailytech.com/A+Melting+Arctic+Happy+News+for+Mankind/article12882.htm
arctic melting may be good news

Recent short-term gains in Arctic ice coverage indicate nothing about the eventual state of the Arctic. Answers to the long-term status of the region lie in the realm of a scientific branch known as paleoclimatology. What does it tell us?

The Earth is currently in the geologic epoch known as the Holocene. This began nearly 12,000 years ago when the last ice age (more precisely, the Weichsal glacial) ended. Temperatures warmed, glaciers began to retreat, and the Arctic began to melt. This began what is called an interglacial: a warmer period between glaciation.

We tend to think of the poles as immutable, but geologically speaking, permanent polar ice is a rare phenomenon, comprising less than 10% of history. Icecaps form briefly between interglacials, only to melt as the next one begins -- this time around will be no different.


Good news for who? For humans? We're too stuck in this want for a static environment. Human civilization won't be able to cope all that well with any sort of global climate change. For other life forms? Yes and no. Some organisms will benefit, some wont, just like what happens when any environmental change occurs. If there is a large scale extinction event, it will take no more than 20 million years years before the diversity of life on this planet is as large, or larger, than it is now. The question is, will humans survive favorably? We are emergent enough in our consciousness to be affected by greater events than just growth, predatorial evasion, foraging, and reproduction. Do we want to live in a medieval world again, or one with human civilization torn apart on a wide scale?

Me, I like my bugs. Some of my bugs are remnants of the last ice age. I like them a lot, and would like to keep them around if possible. If not possible, I want to at least keep around the ones that can make it, cause I like bugs. I'm not so into most people, but thats my reason. Climate change is going to happen. Hopefully it won't happen so fast that my bugs won't make it.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 20, 2008, 11:08:41 pm
i am not a scientist so the articles veracity? you decide.
 the claims they make, no flooding, northwest passage opening, access to oil and gas reserves and fishing grounds, polarbears will be fine more bio mass in oceans etc don't sound bad for human survival i see no link to humans being forced to a feudal survival society. i also don't see any statements about the speed of change being unnaturally fast so maybe your bugs will be OK too...
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 21, 2008, 03:37:31 am
i am not a scientist so the articles veracity? you decide.
 the claims they make, no flooding, northwest passage opening, access to oil and gas reserves and fishing grounds, polarbears will be fine more bio mass in oceans etc don't sound bad for human survival i see no link to humans being forced to a feudal survival society. i also don't see any statements about the speed of change being unnaturally fast so maybe your bugs will be OK too...

Warming of ocean temperatures is going to change the climate regardless of the change in shore ice. Ocean currents are driven by temperature change. Ocean temperature is what drives weather, and also climate on the continents. I'm not sure about the information on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. I do know that other smaller glaciers such as the ones in iceland and the US are shrinking. It is true that water levels will not change due to melting of ocean ice because ice is less dense than the liquid, thus taking up less overal space. Its the glacial caps you have to worry about for that. I do not agree that humans are having no effect on climate change, and I do not agree that the melting of the arctic ice will not have an effect on climate. Any change on the order of thousands of years and not millions is going to cause some level of extinctions. We have proof of effects by climate change. Some examples:

The Joshua Tree, once thriving in Joshua Tree National Park, is expected to be extinct within the part in the next 20-50 years due to climate change.

The Bristlecone pines of the Green mountains, the oldest organisms on earth, are dying fast due to climatic change. The worlds oldest tree, once doing well 10 years ago, is nearly dead, along with most other trees in the area. This tree is over 2000 years old, and just a branch is left alive now.

Pikas, an extraordinary rodent with a language of over 200 'words', once thriving in the great basin at higher altitudes, are dwindling in numbers because they can't handle the rising temperatures, and this is, as the others, a recent developement. Indeed, look at sky islands, isolated pockets, boreal relics communities and species, all dwindling because they are caught on these islands and there is no place to go, no way out, no way to traverse the land around. They are stuck, and they will go extinct if things continue this way.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on September 21, 2008, 04:06:58 am
Not to mention that the excess CO2 in the atmosphere is fucking with the ocean's pH and is destroying coral reefs.
link (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=coral-grief-warming-climate-threatens-reef-destruction)

I don't even want to think about what would happen if the ocean's buffer is overcome.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: BADGE OF HONOR on September 21, 2008, 04:11:02 am
Basically the entire ocean is fucked.  Between the plastic and the changing temperature and the overfishing, a lot of species are suffering. 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 04:17:27 am
you will have to excuse me for being a sceptic, when i was growing up we were in the beginning of an ice age and the scientists and media told us all to panic because of the coming food shortages, mass extinctions and endless winters.

being a sceptic and not a scientist i am trying to keep my opinions on the subject as common sense as possible. It seems to be a fairly even split between the man made and natural cycle proponents (in my view it is undecided ), yes climate change kills some species but the direct effects of pollution will do far more harm(amphibians), I don't trust politicians who use the issue or manipulate scientist (grant money)  or to create fears about the issue to gain power.
 I suspect that the size and resilience of nature is not being given enough respect.   
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on September 21, 2008, 04:57:32 am
you will have to excuse me for being a sceptic, when i was growing up we were in the beginning of an ice age and the scientists and media told us all to panic because of the coming food shortages, mass extinctions and endless winters.

being a sceptic and not a scientist i am trying to keep my opinions on the subject as common sense as possible. It seems to be a fairly even split between the man made and natural cycle proponents (in my view it is undecided ), yes climate change kills some species but the direct effects of pollution will do far more harm(amphibians), I don't trust politicians who use the issue or manipulate scientist (grant money)  or to create fears about the issue to gain power.
 I suspect that the size and resilience of nature is not being given enough respect.   
Only the media reported about an ice age.  No reputable scientist agreed with it.  Just for future reference, the media does a horrific job of reporting science.  Second, there is a food shortage, but it is not here, it's in third-world nations.  It would be a lot worse if not for the green revolution.  As for the even split.  That is false.  There is not a single scientific organization that doubts global warming.

Now, you are right to doubt politicians.  But the people who actually study the Earth are a lot more trustworthy.  Scientists don't gain power from fear, scientists gain acclaim from disproving other scientists.  There is much more to be gained from an individual scientist to go against the mainstream and prove them all wrong.

As for nature's resilience, it will survive.  But nature as we know it isn't.  While I am positive that global warming will not destroy life, it most definitely can cause a lot of death.  Climate change has lead to mass extinction in the past, and humans are causing very rapid climate change right now.  Carbon dioxide does absorb electromagnetic radiation from the sun.  This does translate into heat.  Humans are releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Not to mention that carbon dioxide reacts with water to form carbonic acid and the huge amounts of it have already altered the ocean's pH.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 05:38:43 am
the split is over cause, man made vs natural cycle not if global warming is happening , the other split is between those who think it is increasing at a disastrous rate and those who say we cant predict. on the first split I go with undecided leaning slightly toward natural cycle, on the second I say cant predict yet

Quote
It would be a lot worse if not for the green revolution
:cn:

politicians have influence on scientific opinion when they hold the purse strings "grants", politicians use those influenced opinions to create fear in the public and gain power from it.

Quote
Climate change has lead to mass extinction in the past,
  global warming ??    ice ages, volcanoes, meteor strikes i have heard of causing extinctions can you give an example of global warming doing the same ??..



Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 05:51:50 am
news reporting on what scientists were saying

time magazine ice age
http://neoconexpress.blogspot.com/2007/02/time-like-newsweek-predicted-iceage-in.html#
 
and news week
Newsweek 1975: Scientists Predict Massive Global Cooling



Newsweek Magazine, April 28th 1975:
There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production - with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas - parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia - where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.

The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree - a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars’ worth of damage in 13 U.S. states.

To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world's weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. "A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale," warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, "because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century."

A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.

To the layman, the relatively small changes in temperature and sunshine can be highly misleading. Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin points out that the Earth's average temperature during the great Ice Ages was only about seven degrees lower than during its warmest eras - and that the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average. Others regard the cooling as a reversion to the "little ice age" conditions that brought bitter winters to much of Europe and northern America between 1600 and 1900 - years when the Thames used to freeze so solidly that Londoners roasted oxen on the ice and when iceboats sailed the Hudson River almost as far south as New York City.

Just what causes the onset of major and minor ice ages remains a mystery. "Our knowledge of the mechanisms of climatic change is at least as fragmentary as our data," concedes the National Academy of Sciences report. "Not only are the basic scientific questions largely unanswered, but in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key questions."

Meteorologists think that they can forecast the short-term results of the return to the norm of the last century. They begin by noting the slight drop in overall temperature that produces large numbers of pressure centers in the upper atmosphere. These break up the smooth flow of westerly winds over temperate areas. The stagnant air produced in this way causes an increase in extremes of local weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases - all of which have a direct impact on food supplies.

"The world’s food-producing system," warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA's Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, "is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago." Furthermore, the growth of world population and creation of new national boundaries make it impossible for starving peoples to migrate from their devastated fields, as they did during past famines.

Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 21, 2008, 08:26:00 am
you will have to excuse me for being a sceptic, when i was growing up we were in the beginning of an ice age and the scientists and media told us all to panic because of the coming food shortages, mass extinctions and endless winters.

being a sceptic and not a scientist i am trying to keep my opinions on the subject as common sense as possible. It seems to be a fairly even split between the man made and natural cycle proponents (in my view it is undecided ), yes climate change kills some species but the direct effects of pollution will do far more harm(amphibians), I don't trust politicians who use the issue or manipulate scientist (grant money)  or to create fears about the issue to gain power.
 I suspect that the size and resilience of nature is not being given enough respect.   

Scientists are seldom the ones who spread panic. The ones who spread panic are the people in the media who take the summaries of the scientific paper, summarize those and then twist it to make it sound far beyond what it says. Thus you get perspectives which make it seem like scientific opinion is jumping back and forth, while the scientist have been cautions and just amassing data all along, some data says one thing, some says the other, all conclusions tenative till well supported.

I can see what you are saying though. The desctruction of tropical rainforest by logging and slash and burn, the killing of the oceans by chemicals, anoxic zones created by eutrophication in the gulf of mexico, low flows on rivers due to water overuse, all these other human caused events are making a massive change and they are not talked about, because people would rather speculate over some nebulous thing than sit down and actually make changes about things that are concrete. Make changes like limiting water use, fertilizer and pesticide use, saving rainforest land, cleaning up chemicals, actually doing something physical about the impact humans are having on the planet. People don't want to do it, one, because its easier to just argue, 2, because it costs money, and 3 because it means that people will have to change their lifestyles. The last one is the biggest one, by the way.

Also, just as a note, volcanic eruptions, continental drift, ect, all effect extinction rates specifically because of climate change. When people talk of global warming they think too local, too weather related. When people think of this in relation to extinction, they don't think local enough! Many species are isolated, specialists that can only survive within a certain climate. As the climate changes, they either have to move, change their biology, or go extinct. Local climate is a character of many factors, but is deeply effected by world and regional climate change. We still have no clue why the last ice age occured, or why it is ending. We have hypotheses, but we don't really know why global warming and cooling cycles occur. Regional and local is much easier. You can look at ocean currents and vegitation and human influences. But we don't know the bigger picture. Its all laden with chaos.

We should be very deeply interested however. There is absolutly no evidence to suggest that we will as a species in all certainty survive the next million years (or as a lineage, for that matter). We can't tell the future. We have no clue what will happen next. So we need to be very careful, because our very existence is a fluke and who knows how long we are around for. The planet will be around without us but we can't survive without the biosphere.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 09:14:19 am
kai
I kind of figured with you being in biology you would have a reasonable take on this. The fear mongering is my pet peeve with environmentalism, being stewards of the earth should be obvious, when i see the fear being spread i suspect ulterior/political motives or people buying the hype spread by those that have them.

on local extinction i agree niche species would be the most vulnerable , it is also true that nature abhors a vacuum better adapted life will always move in.

 i don't know exactly how biodiversity works but it seems that bio diversity prospers in warm conditions and struggles in colder ones, the bigger threat to diversity i think may be us directly, pesticide/genetic seed companies, humans dragging life around the globe to environments it doesn't belong, plus all the pollution etc you already mentioned. the threat this in turn poses to us can come in unexpected forms (beehive collapse) and show up quickly


edit to add -- biodiversity also would seem to suffer during times of rapid change and prosper in times of steady or slow change, again i suspect the above mentioned human threats would be more likely to cause rapid change than changes to global temperature.

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on September 21, 2008, 03:15:35 pm
the split is over cause, man made vs natural cycle not if global warming is happening , the other split is between those who think it is increasing at a disastrous rate and those who say we cant predict. on the first split I go with undecided leaning slightly toward natural cycle, on the second I say cant predict yet
When I say global warming, I mean human caused global warming.  Warming from increased COs[ levels.  And lets look at the dissenting organizations.  link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_dissenting_organizations)  Oh shit, there are none!  There's just a handful of nutjobs.

Quote
Quote
It would be a lot worse if not for the green revolution
:cn:

politicians have influence on scientific opinion when they hold the purse strings "grants", politicians use those influenced opinions to create fear in the public and gain power from it.
link (http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/borlaug.html)
The green revolution changed how crops were grown to make it more efficient.  This has shit all to do with politicians.  Politicians are fucking liars, don't listen to them.

news reporting on what scientists were saying

time magazine ice age
http://neoconexpress.blogspot.com/2007/02/time-like-newsweek-predicted-iceage-in.html#
 
and news week
Newsweek 1975: Scientists Predict Massive Global Cooling
I just fucking told you that the media is unreliable.  For fuck's sake there's a man who covers just how bad journalists are at covering science.  link (http://www.badscience.net/)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on September 21, 2008, 04:00:59 pm
Just for fun, some academic sources related to global warming:
http://www.bren.ucsb.edu/academics/courses/203/Readings/SlipperySlope%2017Jun04v21.pdf (http://www.bren.ucsb.edu/academics/courses/203/Readings/SlipperySlope%2017Jun04v21.pdf)
http://www.pnas.org/content/97/18/9875.full (http://www.pnas.org/content/97/18/9875.full)
http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/globalwarmA.html (http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/globalwarmA.html)
http://www.uwsp.edu/geo/faculty/ritter/geog101/textbook/climate_systems/climate_change.html (http://www.uwsp.edu/geo/faculty/ritter/geog101/textbook/climate_systems/climate_change.html)
http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/evidenceforwarming.htm (http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/evidenceforwarming.htm)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 21, 2008, 05:12:23 pm
kai
I kind of figured with you being in biology you would have a reasonable take on this. The fear mongering is my pet peeve with environmentalism, being stewards of the earth should be obvious, when i see the fear being spread i suspect ulterior/political motives or people buying the hype spread by those that have them.

on local extinction i agree niche species would be the most vulnerable , it is also true that nature abhors a vacuum better adapted life will always move in.

 i don't know exactly how biodiversity works but it seems that bio diversity prospers in warm conditions and struggles in colder ones, the bigger threat to diversity i think may be us directly, pesticide/genetic seed companies, humans dragging life around the globe to environments it doesn't belong, plus all the pollution etc you already mentioned. the threat this in turn poses to us can come in unexpected forms (beehive collapse) and show up quickly


edit to add -- biodiversity also would seem to suffer during times of rapid change and prosper in times of steady or slow change, again i suspect the above mentioned human threats would be more likely to cause rapid change than changes to global temperature.



Biodiversity both initially flounders and then increases during and after times of rapid change. steady and slow change tends to have a gradual effect on biodiversity. Instead of a marked drop and leap, its a gradual curve. There is a hypothesis called punctuated equilibrium, that says that lineages change the greatest at punctuated intervals, usually after a catastrophic event. The Permian-Triassic Extinction event lead way to the age of reptiles. The Cretaceous-Tertiary event lead to the "age of mammals". And then we have the 10-20 million year precambrian diversification (most often more incorrectly called the cambrian explosion), caused most likely by the newly oxygenated conditions. This caused a broad diversification of lineages, but also was the end of the Ediacaran life from the period just before. The post Cambrian extinction event saw the loss of many of the weird body plans you would find in the Burgess Shale fossil beds. The point is, we see life's history on earth as having periods of slow change punctuated by catastrophic upheaval leading to extinction and diversification. The tree of life is more like the bush of life, with a few lineages making it and the rest not.

The reason you see diversification after extinction is as you noted above, open niches do not tend to stay open long. Millions of open niches will soon be filled (over millions of years) by diversification of other lineages that made it. Still, 99% percent of all species that ever existed are nonextant. We're left with the 1% of life that actually made it. And there is nothing to say that diversity used to be higher or is higher now, except possibly in angiosperms and insects (I'd argue that insects have been working their way up since the mid paleozoic and aside from the current human induced extinction event, there seems to be no limit to the diversity that can come out of the insect body plan).

Biodiversty prospers when the greatest number of niches are available. The perfect example of this is tropical rainforests. However, climate change will affect the rainforest in the same way that climate change will affect all ecosystems. I'm not so sure whats going to happen. I do know that humans are screwing diversity to hell right now.

I once heard a lecture in undergraduate about biodiversity. The professor told a story about how he was confronted by a teacher once, a chemistry teacher who believed that it would be okay to destroy all life on the planet if it would keep humans alive for one more moment. He didn't know how to argue this with his teacher, he was stunned. He never wanted us to be left the same way, so he gave us some reasons to value biodiversity, things like for medicinal value, for food, for all the environmental tasks they do that we often take for granted, for aesthetic value, but also for the intrinsic value of live itself. I've been reading Reinventing the Sacred as I've noted elsewhere on this forum, and what strikes me as the most important point in that book is the emergence of agency, will, values that are intrinsic to living organisms, from bacterium to mammals, an unremovable part of the system of life. Free will is apparent, because agency is irreducible to physics.

--

Theres another essay I'm thinking of, by Barbara McClintock, the Nobel prize winner that worked with Corn genetics. It doesn't have so much to do with the above, but it has more to do with respect, and the kind of spiritual bond I see myself having with life. Many people wondered how she could work on such a long living organism as corn, when everyone else was working with bacteria. She said "you have to develop a relationship with your organism, you have to be patient and listen to what it has to say". Her patient and respectful relationship with her organism lead to our modern understanding of how genes move around in the DNA molecule, how they can be turned on and off. I want to see myself as having that bond with Cheumatopsyche (http://www.troutnut.com/hatch/1913/Caddisfly-Cheumatopsyche-Little-Sister-Sedges) as she had with Zea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maize), but I also feel that bond to all insects.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 05:13:38 pm
just for fun some articles claiming there is a debate amongst scientist on whether warming is Anthropogenic (man caused)
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/news_press_release,176495.shtml
http://www.petitionproject.org/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-481613/Global-warming-Its-natural-say-experts.html
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=110107A
http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/lieberman-warner-debate-senator-rohrabacher-do-you-really-think-the-world-is-filled-with-morons/
http://canadafreepress.com/2007/global-warming020507.htm  also talks about political pressure put on scientist

http://canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years."
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5834/36?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=eske+willerslev&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=8641
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/06/greenland_ice_yields_hope_on_climate/
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 05:18:28 pm
kia i am all in favor of valuing bio diversity, well written explanation.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 21, 2008, 05:36:45 pm
And just because:

(http://www.troutnut.com/im_regspec/picture_1342_medium.jpg)

(http://www.troutnut.com/im_regspec/picture_1341_medium.jpg)

Pimp some (I believe) pictures of Cheumatopsyche. Larvae of Cheumatopsyche species have a number of diagnostic characters, but one of the most striking things that most Cheumatopsyche larvae have when alive is the emerald green abdomen. The head sclerites also don't seem to have any patterns, which is true for all Nearctic species in the genus. There are a number of diagnostic characters which I would have to look at to be sure, such as the shape of the fortrochantin (notched), the size of the poststernite sclerites on the prothorax (usually small but in some species can be large, which can confuse you with the genus Hydropsyche except if they are larger the anteromedial emargination of the frontoclypeus lacks a medial notch), the shape of the sternites on the 9th abdominal segment (notched postereorly), and just make sure there isn't a tubercle at the anterior margin of the underside of the head (which would make it genus Potamyia). I learned all of that through patience.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 05:44:21 pm
troutnut. com - i am guessing a big fish can be caught with one? cool looking bug by the way
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on September 21, 2008, 05:52:35 pm
just for fun some articles claiming there is a debate amongst scientist on whether warming is Anthropogenic (man caused)
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/news_press_release,176495.shtml
http://www.petitionproject.org/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-481613/Global-warming-Its-natural-say-experts.html
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=110107A
http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/lieberman-warner-debate-senator-rohrabacher-do-you-really-think-the-world-is-filled-with-morons/
http://canadafreepress.com/2007/global-warming020507.htm  also talks about political pressure put on scientist

http://canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years."
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5834/36?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=eske+willerslev&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=8641
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/06/greenland_ice_yields_hope_on_climate/
Why no academic sources?  Why nothing from university websites?  Why no peer review articles?

Also,  :lulz:@ you citing the DailyMail.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 21, 2008, 06:07:21 pm
troutnut. com - i am guessing a big fish can be caught with one? cool looking bug by the way


Caddisfly larvae are aquatic, almost all species have aquatic larvae in that order, and the rest are semiaquatic (http://www.uksafari.com/caddisfly3.htm). As adults they have vestigial mouthparts, can drink but can't feed, and look very much like moths. As larvae, their forms and habitats are diverse, from temporal ponds to streams, lakes, wetlands, springs and seeps, waterfalls, big rivers, and there are even species that inhabit tidepools (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119646779/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0). In addition to that, caddisfly larvae produce silk which they use to construct net seine retreats or other underwater capture net apparati (http://www.westol.com/~towhee/images2/caddisfly-nets.jpg), portable cases (http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=caddisfly+cases&btnG=Search+Images), and do other amazing behavioral things. Cheumatopsyche species are part of the family Hydropsychidae, the net-seine spinning caddisflies. These construct annular structures from which they hang silk nets that look like fishing seines (http://www.xerces.org/CD-ROM%20for%20web/id/Trichoptera/Hydropsychidae/Hydropsychidae_nets/Hydropsychid_net_all_650.jpg) to collect debris or invertebrates.

Since caddisflies are common in trout streams, trout fishers tend to be the people most interested in them, outside of Trichopterology and aquatic ecology.

Edit: was looking for some cooler pictures of Hydropsychid nets and found these:

(http://www-staff.lboro.ac.uk/~gymfj2/images/CaddisNets.jpg)

(http://www.royal-flyfishing.com/royalportal/cms/upload/bilder/Berichte/Entomologie/Kcherfliegen/Kcherfliege_Hydropsyche_siltalai.jpg)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 06:46:43 pm
just for fun some articles claiming there is a debate amongst scientist on whether warming is Anthropogenic (man caused)
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/news_press_release,176495.shtml
http://www.petitionproject.org/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-481613/Global-warming-Its-natural-say-experts.html
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=110107A
http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/lieberman-warner-debate-senator-rohrabacher-do-you-really-think-the-world-is-filled-with-morons/
http://canadafreepress.com/2007/global-warming020507.htm  also talks about political pressure put on scientist

http://canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years."
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5834/36?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=eske+willerslev&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=8641
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/06/greenland_ice_yields_hope_on_climate/
Why no academic sources?  Why nothing from university websites?  Why no peer review articles?

Also,  :lulz:@ you citing the DailyMail.

if you haven't already made up your mind look them up! the articles  give names jobs/universities of dissenting scientist i am just making the point that there is debate, yes the daily mail is biased (duh ) i culled out most of the wing nut links i have for that reason..

again just to be clear i am not saying global warming is absolutely not man made, i am saying it is being debated i may lean slightly on the side of natural cycles but i have come to no conclusion.
the fear mongering "we are all going to die imminent disaster" wingnuttery is highly suspect (AL gore kool aid ) and is about as dumb as saying there are no environmental problems the environment is there to be raped and pillaged by mankind at will
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Jasper on September 21, 2008, 06:51:42 pm
http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/09/stiletto-vs-dru.html

Anyone seen this?  It's a new Pentagon boat.  Top speed of sixty knots.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on September 21, 2008, 07:09:34 pm
just for fun some articles claiming there is a debate amongst scientist on whether warming is Anthropogenic (man caused)
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/news_press_release,176495.shtml
http://www.petitionproject.org/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-481613/Global-warming-Its-natural-say-experts.html
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=110107A
http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/lieberman-warner-debate-senator-rohrabacher-do-you-really-think-the-world-is-filled-with-morons/
http://canadafreepress.com/2007/global-warming020507.htm  also talks about political pressure put on scientist

http://canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years."
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5834/36?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=eske+willerslev&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=8641
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/06/greenland_ice_yields_hope_on_climate/
Why no academic sources?  Why nothing from university websites?  Why no peer review articles?

Also,  :lulz:@ you citing the DailyMail.

if you haven't already made up your mind look them up! the articles  give names jobs/universities of dissenting scientist i am just making the point that there is debate, yes the daily mail is biased (duh ) i culled out most of the wing nut links i have for that reason..

again just to be clear i am not saying global warming is absolutely not man made, i am saying it is being debated i may lean slightly on the side of natural cycles but i have come to no conclusion.
the fear mongering "we are all going to die imminent disaster" wingnuttery is highly suspect (AL gore kool aid ) and is about as dumb as saying there are no environmental problems the environment is there to be raped and pillaged by mankind at will
I'll stick to reading the actual science.  There's a reason I first went to the journals (followed by educational sites).  The 'global warming debate' is the same as the 'evolution-creation debate.'  It doesn't fucking exist.  The debate is more about the long and short term effects of warming, not whether or not it's happening.  The planet is warming, humans are (partially) responsible.  It can cause some major damage.

And Al Gore can just fuck off.  Stop.  Listening.  To.  Politicians.  Gore is not a scientist, he does not represent scientists.  I don't give a shit what Al Gore says.  I give a shit what the Federation of American Scientists (http://www.fas.org/programs/energy/index.html) says.  I give a shit what the American Meteorological Society (http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/climatechangeresearch_2003.html) says.  I give a shit what the Royal Meteorological Society (http://www.rmets.org/news/detail.php?ID=332) says.  I give a shit what the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences] says.  Not what some fucking politician says. (http://www.geoscience.ca/climatechange.html)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 07:20:21 pm
missing the point ...
 the warming is not being debated scientist are good at taking measurements
 the cause is being debated
 the effects are being debated
 the rate of warming is being debated
 the political solutions to the conclusions being jumped to are being debated
 the effects of political influence on scientists opinions on the above debates are being debated

 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 21, 2008, 07:35:56 pm
Solutions would be good. If either of you have any I'm sure that the scientific community would be interested, because as far as I know, we don't have a clue how to fix it either.

Just thinking some more about Hydropsychid caddisflies....I would love to get an aquarium set up that could be easily viewed so I could take tones and tones of pictures of hydropsychid net retreats, actually, of hydropsychoidea net retreats in general. I mean, philopotamids make elongate sack nets with extremely fine mesh, Polycentropodids may trumpet shaped nets or open ended tube nets, Psychomyiids build complex tube networks on rocks out of sand, Dipseudopsids make their tube networks underground with entrance and exit holes and build a net within one tube through which they siphon water to collect detritus. Its just all so cool.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 21, 2008, 07:46:49 pm
Hydropsychid caddisflies interesting but a bit over my head i was on the verge of moving up from lures to fly fishing when i moved to the city so never got into studying aquatic bugs/fish feeding..  the size, color, type, movement, placement, of lures to attract trout in varying water temps, conditions i have a good experiential  knowledge of..

on solutions-  my only idea is for scientists to do more studying/research (which they do any way)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on September 21, 2008, 11:13:14 pm
Hydropsychid caddisflies interesting but a bit over my head i was on the verge of moving up from lures to fly fishing when i moved to the city so never got into studying aquatic bugs/fish feeding..  the size, color, type, movement, placement, of lures to attract trout in varying water temps, conditions i have a good experiential  knowledge of..

on solutions-  my only idea is for scientists to do more studying/research (which they do any way)

The only reason it sounds like its over your head is because I'm using terms that you aren't familiar with. Most biology, while not for idiots, can be understood by nonbiologists if terms are explained and processes are described in detail. People know what a flower looks like. So you open a flower up and show them the different parts inside and what functions they have, and you use metaphor and visuals. Most people think biology goes over their heads because we use a scientific language, its faster, but in the vernacular most of it makes sense.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on September 22, 2008, 01:46:53 am
missing the point ...
 the warming is not being debated scientist are good at taking measurements
 the cause is being debated
 the effects are being debated
 the rate of warming is being debated
 the political solutions to the conclusions being jumped to are being debated
 the effects of political influence on scientists opinions on the above debates are being debated

 
Ah, I understand what you're saying now.  Sorry.  I tend to get a little overzealous when I think I'm dealing with pseudoscience (and denying AGW is pseudoscience).  I guess that's what I get for engaging people like creationists and people who deny the globe is warming at all.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 22, 2008, 03:04:06 am
Hydropsychid caddisflies interesting but a bit over my head i was on the verge of moving up from lures to fly fishing when i moved to the city so never got into studying aquatic bugs/fish feeding..  the size, color, type, movement, placement, of lures to attract trout in varying water temps, conditions i have a good experiential  knowledge of..

on solutions-  my only idea is for scientists to do more studying/research (which they do any way)

The only reason it sounds like its over your head is because I'm using terms that you aren't familiar with. Most biology, while not for idiots, can be understood by nonbiologists if terms are explained and processes are described in detail. People know what a flower looks like. So you open a flower up and show them the different parts inside and what functions they have, and you use metaphor and visuals. Most people think biology goes over their heads because we use a scientific language, its faster, but in the vernacular most of it makes sense.


Natural biology was my favorite class in high school, we spent a day at a swamp/pond collecting specimens and the rest of the year identifying every thing we found. My lab partner and I ended up with more specimens than any one else, we even swam in the pond dragging our nets and were the only ones to catch a fish (northern pike)most of the class were "eww swamp water we don't want to get our feet wet"... your guess is correct the science language is the part i am missing or have forgotten
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on September 22, 2008, 06:37:32 am
missing the point ...
 the warming is not being debated scientist are good at taking measurements
 the cause is being debated
 the effects are being debated
 the rate of warming is being debated
 the political solutions to the conclusions being jumped to are being debated
 the effects of political influence on scientists opinions on the above debates are being debated

 
Ah, I understand what you're saying now.  Sorry.  I tend to get a little overzealous when I think I'm dealing with pseudoscience (and denying AGW is pseudoscience).  I guess that's what I get for engaging people like creationists and people who deny the globe is warming at all.
no  worries i get overzealous my self when i think i am talking to the "theory is fact the sky is falling crowd "...
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 01, 2008, 07:08:30 pm
Today's Headlines - October 1, 2008

Machu Picchu's Far-Flung Residents
from Science News

High in Peru's Andes, the skeletons of people buried at the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu tell a tale of displacement and devoted service. A new chemical analysis of these bones supports the previously postulated idea that Inca kings used members of a special class of royal retainers from disparate parts of the empire to maintain and operate the site, which served as a royal estate.

Dramatic differences in the remains' ratios of certain chemical isotopes that collect in bone indicate that Machu Picchu's permanent residents spent their early lives in varied regions east or southeast of the site, say anthropologist Bethany Turner of Georgia State University in Atlanta and her colleagues.
Some Machu Picchu inhabitants had emigrated from spots along the central South American coast, while others hailed from valleys high in the Andes.

Inca royalty, who regularly visited the site, were not buried at Machu Picchu. They were buried at nearby Cuzco, the capital of the empire.

http://snipurl.com/3yygn


New California Academy of Sciences a Natural Wonder
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

World-class, unparalleled, greatest, biggest, most diverse, greenest and eco-grooviest. Able to leap tall buildings in a single rave, the new state-of-the-art and state-of-the-planet incarnation of the California Academy of Sciences is generating kilowatts of excitement and kudos.

Last weekend marked the long-awaited grand reopening of the academy, which is unusual in that it houses an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and educational programs under one roof. In commemoration of the very big deal that all of this is, several hundred butterflies were released at its Saturday debut in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, starting two days of hoopla that included music, Chinese acrobats and a Native American blessing.

But the star attraction is the building itself, designed by Pritzker Prize winner Renzo Piano ... and poised to be one of the world's greenest buildings.

http://snipurl.com/3xob6


New Birdlike Dinosaur Found in Argentina
from National Geographic News

A new predatory dinosaur with a birdlike breathing system found in Argentina may help scientists better understand the evolution of birds' lung systems. The elephant-size dinosaur Aerosteon riocoloradensis lived 85 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.

The fossil provides the first evidence of dinosaur air sacs, which pump air into the lungs and are used by modern-day birds, said Paul Sereno, the project's lead researcher and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence. 

Scientists have known dinosaurs used the pumplike apparatus to breathe, but the new find cements the connection between dinosaur and avian evolution, said Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago.

http://snipurl.com/3yxtm


The 'Secret Jews' of San Luis Valley
from Smithsonian Magazine

One September day in 2001, Teresa Castellano, Lisa Mullineaux, Jeffrey Shaw and Lisen Axell were having lunch in Denver. Genetic counselors from nearby hospitals and specialists in inherited cancers, the four would get together periodically to talk shop. That day they surprised one another: they'd each documented a case or two of Hispanic women with aggressive breast cancer linked to a particular genetic mutation. The women had roots in southern Colorado, near the New Mexico border.

... Curiously, the genetic mutation that caused the virulent breast cancer had previously been found primarily in Jewish people whose ancestral home was Central or Eastern Europe. Yet all of these new patients were Hispanic Catholics.

... As a result, families in this remote high-desert community have had to come to grips with a kind of knowledge that more and more of us are likely to face. For the story of this wayward gene is the story of modern genetics, a science that increasingly has the power both to predict the future and to illuminate the past in unsettling ways.

http://snipurl.com/3yy8p


Liquid Lenses Promise Picture-Perfect Phone Cam Photos
from Scientific American

TROY, N.Y.—Despite their ubiquity, cell phones are not known for their ability to take picture-perfect photos. But budding "liquid lens" technology promises to change that by providing phone photogs with the autofocus capabilities lacking in today's cellular optics.

The latest advance in this area comes from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, here, where researchers have developed a liquid lens by placing a few drops of water into a cylindrical hole drilled in a Teflon surface and using a small speaker (that plays a high-frequency sound) to provide the resonance needed to move the water back and forth, changing the focus of the lens.

Light passing through the droplets transforms them into a mini camera lens, which is capped on both sides with plastic or glass. The experiment, led by Amir Hirsa ..., used the liquid lens to capture 250 images per second.

http://snipurl.com/3yymg


Searching for Clarity: A Primer on Medical Studies
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Everyone, it seemed, from the general public to many scientists, was enthralled by the idea that beta carotene would protect against cancer. In the early 1990s, the evidence seemed compelling that this chemical, an antioxidant found in fruit and vegetables and converted by the body to vitamin A, was a key to good health.

There were laboratory studies showing how beta carotene would work. There were animal studies confirming that it was protective against cancer. There were observational studies showing that the more fruit and vegetables people ate, the lower their cancer risk. So convinced were some scientists that they themselves were taking beta carotene supplements.

Then came three large, rigorous clinical trials that randomly assigned people to take beta carotene pills or a placebo. And the beta carotene hypothesis crumbled.

http://snipurl.com/3yysj


Carbon Sale Raises $40 Million
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

NEW YORK, Sept. 29—The country's first cap-and-trade auction for greenhouse gas reduction raised nearly $40 million for Northeastern states to spend on renewable energy technologies and energy-efficiency programs, officials of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which ran the auction, said Monday.

In the absence of a federal government program to cap the amount of carbon dioxide that power plants pump out of their smokestacks, 10 Northeastern states established the initiative to set their own limits and force all fossil fuel plants to buy allowances to cover excess emissions.

The initiative is being closely watched nationally as a model for efforts to reduce emissions and stem global warming. In the sealed online auction Thursday, energy, financial and environmental organizations paid $3.07 per ton of excess emissions, and all 12.5 million carbon allowances were sold, the initiative reported. Most of the bidders were power generators.

http://snipurl.com/3yyz0


What Can You Do with a 12-Million-Digit Prime Number?
from the Christian Science Monitor

The scientific world is abuzz this week with news that researchers at UCLA have discovered a prime number with more than 10 million digits. The find qualifies them for a $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and undeniable geek cred, but a decidedly unscientific survey of comments from around the web concludes that the overall response to the announcement is: So what?

... The hunt for large primes requires massive computing power—the production of which is prohibitively expensive for a single organization. Distributive computing—the same kind UCLA used to find their megaprime—makes a supercomputer out of many smaller individual machines, using the web to stitch all that power together.

The EFF Cooperative Computing Awards provide an incentive for everyday Internet users to contribute to solving great scientific problems. The method is the message.

http://snipurl.com/3yzdv


Report: Everglades in Decline as Restoration Lags
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—A multibillion-dollar effort to restore Florida's Everglades has made little progress amid funding shortfalls, bureaucratic red tape and disagreements, according to a congressionally mandated report that warns the vast wetland is in peril.

The National Research Council, in findings Monday, warned that degradation of the Everglades could become irreversible if action isn't taken quickly.

"The Everglades ecosystem is continuing to decline. It's our estimate that we're losing the battle to save this thing," said William Graf, the report's committee chairman and head of the department of geography at the University of South Carolina at Columbia.

http://snipurl.com/3yzq6


Experts Say Herd Mentality Rules in Financial Crisis
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—Herd mentality rules during a financial crisis because people are wired to follow the crowd when times are uncertain, experts say.

Brain and behavior studies clearly show that when information is scarce and threats seem imminent, people often stop listening to their own logic and look to see what others are doing.

"People are afraid, and the reason they are afraid is there is tremendous uncertainty right now in the markets," Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University in Atlanta who studies the biology of economic behavior, said in a telephone interview. Berns puts people in magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scanners while he tests their responses to various scenarios, and studies patterns of their brain activation.

http://snipurl.com/3yzyg

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 02, 2008, 08:03:55 am
HIV Decades Older Than Thought

"The AIDS virus has been circulating among people for about 100 years, decades longer than scientists had thought, a new study suggests.

Genetic analysis pushes the estimated origin of HIV back to between 1884 and 1924, with a more focused estimate at 1908.

Previously, scientists had estimated the origin at around 1930. AIDS wasn't recognized formally until 1981 when it got the attention of public health officials in the United States.

Scientists say HIV descended from a chimpanzee virus that jumped to humans in Africa, probably when people butchered chimps. Many individuals were probably infected that way, but so few other people caught the virus that it failed to get a lasting foothold, researchers say.

But the growth of African cities may have changed that by putting lots of people close together and promoting prostitution, Worobey suggested. "Cities are kind of ideal for a virus like HIV," providing more chances for infected people to pass the virus to others, he said.

Perhaps a person infected with the AIDS virus in a rural area went to what is now Kinshasa, Congo, "and now you've got the spark arriving in the tinderbox," Worobey said.

Key to the new work was the discovery of an HIV sample that had been taken from a woman in Kinshasa in 1960. It was only the second such sample to be found from before 1976; the other was from 1959, also from Kinshasa.

Researchers took advantage of the fact that HIV mutates rapidly. So two strains from a common ancestor quickly become less and less alike in their genetic material over time. That allows scientists to "run the clock backward" by calculating how long it would take for various strains to become as different as they are observed to be. That would indicate when they both sprang from their most recent common ancestor.

The new work used genetic data from the two old HIV samples plus more than 100 modern samples to create a family tree going back to these samples' last common ancestor. Researchers got various answers under various approaches for when that ancestor virus appeared, but the 1884-to-1924 bracket is probably the most reliable, Worobey said."

http://www.livescience.com/health/081001-ap-hiv-origin.html
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: singer on October 02, 2008, 11:42:55 am
Well, that pretty much puts the "secret side effect of the Salk Vaccine" theory to rest.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 02, 2008, 06:07:59 pm
Well, that pretty much puts the "secret side effect of the Salk Vaccine" theory to rest.
Nope.  This story is part of the conspiracy too!!!  :tinfoilhat:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: singer on October 02, 2008, 10:57:07 pm
Well, that pretty much puts the "secret side effect of the Salk Vaccine" theory to rest.
Nope.  This story is part of the conspiracy too!!!  :tinfoilhat:

Of course... what WAS I thinking?    :oops:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 03, 2008, 12:39:45 pm
Today's Headlines - October 2, 2008

Water's Role in Martian Chemistry Becoming Clearer
from Science News

Perched on a vast plain above the arctic circle of the Red Planet, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has found new evidence that liquid water was once present in the north polar region and interacted with minerals there. Phoenix scientists reported the findings September 29 during a NASA press briefing.

Two Phoenix experiments identified calcium carbonates and clays in soil samples scooped up by the craft's robotic arm. On Earth, both minerals are associated with the presence of liquid water.

Carbonates such as limestones form on Earth when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in liquid water, making carbonic acid. The acid eats away at rocks, which eventually become carbonate deposits such as the White Cliffs of Dover.

http://snipurl.com/3zsdm


Space Smash-Up Turned Planets to Dust
from National Geographic News

A dust cloud surrounding a nearby star 300 light-years from Earth may be all that remains from the collision of two rocky planets, researchers say.

The planets may have been similar to Earth in size, age, and distance from their sun. The bodies circled a binary star, or a pair of stars locked in tight rotation, known as BD +20 307. Until now, no other binary stars close to our solar system have shown evidence of having planets.

Using optical and x-ray telescopes to estimate the volume and temperature of BD +20 307's dust cloud, researchers concluded that it must have been produced by the violent collision of two planet-size bodies. Such planets would have been prime locations for the possible evolution of extraterrestrial life, experts say.

http://snipurl.com/3zsgs


New Genetic Test for Flu Virus Means Results in 4 Hours
from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Registration Required)

ATLANTA (Associated Press)—The government approved a new genetic test for the flu virus Tuesday that will allow labs across the country to identify flu strains within four hours instead of four days.

The timesaving test could be crucial if a deadly new strain emerges, federal health officials said. The new test also could help doctors make better treatment decisions during a conventional flu season.

The new test was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Applied Biosystems Inc. of Foster City, Calif. The Food and Drug Administration approved the test kit Tuesday, and state health labs are expected to start using it this fall.

http://snipurl.com/401du


The First Sound Bites
from Science News

William Jennings Bryan was rarely at a loss for words. His impassioned oratory spellbound congressmen during his two terms in the U.S. House and thrilled thousands of voters during the presidential campaigns of 1896 and 1900. But during his third run for the White House, 100 years ago, Bryan had trouble speaking in the intimacy of his own home.

"Mr. Bryan seemed a little nervous when he first started, much more so, he said, than he ever felt in facing an audience of ten thousand people," Harold Voorhis recalled. Voorhis, an agent for the National Phonograph Company, was partly responsible for the candidate's discomfort: He had brought a phonograph into the library of Bryan's house in Lincoln, Neb., to record some of his speeches, old and current.

... Whether for profit or prestige, the 1908 campaign was the first in which presidential candidates recorded their own voices for the mass market. ... The sound-bite era was born.

http://snipurl.com/3zuwp


Applying Science to Alternative Medicine
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

More than 80 million adults in the United States are estimated to use some form of alternative medicine, from herbs and megavitamins to yoga and acupuncture. But while sweeping claims are made for these treatments, the scientific evidence for them often lags far behind: studies and clinical trials, when they exist at all, can be shoddy in design and too small to yield reliable insights.

Now the federal government is working hard to raise the standards of evidence, seeking to distinguish between what is effective, useless and harmful or even dangerous.

"The research has been making steady progress," said Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. "It's reasonably new that rigorous methods are being used to study these health practices."

http://snipurl.com/40063


EPA Sets Nuke Waste Dump Radiation Standard
from the San Francisco Chronicle

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—No one knows what the Earth will be like in a million years. But a proposed nuclear waste dump in Nevada must be designed to ensure that people living near it a million years from now are exposed to no more than 100 millirems of radiation annually.

And over the next 10,000 years, radiation exposure to the waste dump's neighbors may be no more than 15 millirems a year, or about the amount of exposure in an X-ray. People receive about 350 millirems a year of radiation on average from all background sources.

After three years of deliberations, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday its radiation health standard for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, a system of underground caverns 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas where the government hopes to keep highly radioactive commercial and military nuclear waste.

http://snipurl.com/400dn


NASA's Half Century of Space Exploration
from the Orlando Sentinel

The Sentinel celebrates NASA's 50th birthday with a series of articles and out-of-this-world photo galleries.

What lies ahead? With half a century of amazing accomplishments behind it, NASA is entering a second space age beset by uncertainty and searching for a renewal of "the right stuff."

Browse every launch of the space shuttle, from Columbia's first mission in 1981 to the most recent flight. And while you're at it, test your knowledge of space trivia. For example, what weird object saved the Apollo 13 crew from certain death?

http://snipurl.com/400ld


Study: AIDS Virus in Human Circulation for 100 Years
from USA Today

NEW YORK (Associated Press)—The AIDS virus has been circulating among people for about 100 years, decades longer than scientists had thought, a new study suggests. Genetic analysis pushes the estimated origin of HIV back to between 1884 and 1924, with a more focused estimate at 1908.

Previously, scientists had estimated the origin at around 1930. AIDS wasn't recognized formally until 1981 when it got the attention of public health officials in the United States.

The new result is "not a monumental shift, but it means the virus was circulating under our radar even longer than we knew," says Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, an author of the new work. The results appear in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

http://snipurl.com/400xe


Driving to Vote Could Be Hazardous
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—Could voting for president be hazardous to your health? An analysis of Election Day traffic deaths dating back to Jimmy Carter's 1976 win suggests yes, but the authors say that's no reason not to go to the polls.

The study found that on average, 24 more people died in car crashes during voting hours on presidential election days than on other October and November Tuesdays. That amounts to an 18 percent increased risk of death. And compared with non-election days, an additional 800 people suffered disabling injuries.

The results were pretty consistent on all eight presidential Election Days that were analyzed, up to George W. Bush's victory over John Kerry in 2004. "This is one of the most off-the-wall things I've ever read, but the science is good," said Roy Lucke, senior scientist at Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety. He was not involved in the study, which appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

http://snipurl.com/40158


Using Math to Explain How Life on Earth Began
from Scientific American

Back in March the press went crazy for Martin A. Nowak's study on the value of punishment. A Harvard University mathematician and biologist, Nowak had signed up some 100 students to play a computer game in which they used dimes to punish and reward one another. The popular belief was that costly punishment would promote cooperation between two equals, but Nowak and his colleagues proved the theory wrong.

Instead they found that punishment often triggers a spiral of retaliation, making it detrimental and destructive rather than beneficial. Far from gaining, people who punish tend to escalate conflict, worsen their fortunes and eventually lose out. "Nice guys finish first," headlines cheered.

It wasn't the first time Nowak's computer simulations and mathematics forced a rethinking of a complex phenomenon. In 2002 he worked out equations that can predict the way cancer evolves and spreads, such as when mutations emerge in a metastasis and chromosomes become unstable.

http://snipurl.com/401q3

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cain on October 03, 2008, 03:19:45 pm
Set topic sticky, by the way.  I think it deserves it.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 03, 2008, 10:35:46 pm
Quote
Applying Science to Alternative Medicine
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

More than 80 million adults in the United States are estimated to use some form of alternative medicine, from herbs and megavitamins to yoga and acupuncture. But while sweeping claims are made for these treatments, the scientific evidence for them often lags far behind: studies and clinical trials, when they exist at all, can be shoddy in design and too small to yield reliable insights.

Now the federal government is working hard to raise the standards of evidence, seeking to distinguish between what is effective, useless and harmful or even dangerous.

It's about fucking time!!!  The FDA has been way too leinent on quackery for the last 7 years.

Quote
"The research has been making steady progress," said Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. "It's reasonably new that rigorous methods are being used to study these health practices."

http://snipurl.com/40063

LOL!  The CAM people actually do real research now?  I'd love to see that.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 03, 2008, 11:13:11 pm
Quote
Applying Science to Alternative Medicine
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

More than 80 million adults in the United States are estimated to use some form of alternative medicine, from herbs and megavitamins to yoga and acupuncture. But while sweeping claims are made for these treatments, the scientific evidence for them often lags far behind: studies and clinical trials, when they exist at all, can be shoddy in design and too small to yield reliable insights.

Now the federal government is working hard to raise the standards of evidence, seeking to distinguish between what is effective, useless and harmful or even dangerous.

It's about fucking time!!!  The FDA has been way too leinent on quackery for the last 7 years.

Quote
"The research has been making steady progress," said Dr. Josephine P. Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. "It's reasonably new that rigorous methods are being used to study these health practices."

http://snipurl.com/40063

LOL!  The CAM people actually do real research now?  I'd love to see that.

I think if they studied hard they'd find that most of "alternative medicine" is psychosomatic, if it works at all.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Jasper on October 03, 2008, 11:31:55 pm
I'd go to bat for certain herbal remedies, out of firsthand experience, but most of it (Bach flower remedy theory) are completely nuts.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 03, 2008, 11:41:47 pm
If homeopathy ever gets popular in the United States, I swear that I WILL KILL A MOTHERFUCKER!!!   :evilmad:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Jasper on October 03, 2008, 11:44:07 pm
If homeopathy ever gets popular in the United States, I swear that I WILL KILL A MOTHERFUCKER!!!   :evilmad:

It can't replace allopathic medicine totally, but it makes people feel well.  Most holistic doctors will recommend exercise and diet before telling you to go lick a flubutu root or something.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on October 05, 2008, 01:16:47 am
If homeopathy ever gets popular in the United States, I swear that I WILL KILL A MOTHERFUCKER!!!   :evilmad:

It can't replace allopathic medicine totally, but it makes people feel well.  Most holistic doctors will recommend exercise and diet before telling you to go lick a flubutu root or something.
Homeopathy is just water.  It doesn't even matter what they started with because it is so diluted that not a single atom of the original substance is left.  It's a damn placebo.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 05, 2008, 01:27:53 am
The Amazing Randi on Homeopathy:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Jasper on October 06, 2008, 07:07:42 am
If homeopathy ever gets popular in the United States, I swear that I WILL KILL A MOTHERFUCKER!!!   :evilmad:

It can't replace allopathic medicine totally, but it makes people feel well.  Most holistic doctors will recommend exercise and diet before telling you to go lick a flubutu root or something.
Homeopathy is just water.  It doesn't even matter what they started with because it is so diluted that not a single atom of the original substance is left.  It's a damn placebo.

Oh, that.  Nevermind, I was referring to naturopathy.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on October 07, 2008, 06:17:15 am
Most "Naturopathic" doctors that I have (extremely unfortunate) experience with have been complete fuckinh DANGEROUS quacks... however, I do have a strong interest in herbal and chiropractic medicine, which is often very legitimate.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 08, 2008, 01:21:42 pm
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/319/5865/905b (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/319/5865/905b)

Students, Postdocs and professors dance their PhD's. The dances include "Dynamical and chemical evolution of blue compact dwarf galaxies.", "Transcription factors involved in developmental and growth control: Regulation of human g-globin and fos gene expression.", and "Refitting repasts: a spatial exploration of food processing, sharing, cooking, and disposal at the Dunefield Midden campsite, South Africa."

Its a bit fun to see them flailing around and realize that its not just improvisation, a choreographer actually worked with them to produce these dances based on dissertations.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 09, 2008, 05:26:34 pm
October 7, 2008

2 Japanese, 1 American Share Nobel Physics Prize
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Associated Press)—Two Japanese citizens and a Japanese-born American won the 2008 Nobel Prize in physics for discoveries in the world of subatomic physics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Tuesday.

American Yoichiro Nambu, 87, of the University of Chicago, won half of the prize for the discovery of a mechanism called spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics.

Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa of Japan shared the other half of the prize for discovering the origin of the broken symmetry that predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature.

http://snipurl.com/459su


Infertility Patients Caught in the Embryo Debate
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Six years of frustration and heartbreak. That's how Gina Rathan recalls her attempts to become pregnant. Finally, she and her husband, Cheddi, conceived a daughter, now 3, through in vitro fertilization. About a year later, she became pregnant with a second child, naturally. Their family was complete.

Then, a year ago, the Fountain Valley couple received a bill reminding them that their infertility journey wasn't quite over. They owed $750 to preserve three frozen embryos they'd created but hadn't used. "I don't see them as not being life yet," says Gina Rathan, 42, a pharmaceutical sales representative. "I thought, 'How can I discard them when I have a beautiful child from that IVF cycle?'"

Many other former infertility patients also appear to be grappling over the fate of embryos they have no plans to use: An estimated 500,000 embryos are in cryopreservation in the United States.

http://snipurl.com/44gwi


Where the Wild Things Are
from the Economist

Lake Baikal holds a fifth of the world's unfrozen fresh water. It is home to thousands of species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else. Its northern shores, as anyone using the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT), a new online database, can easily discover, form part of a World Heritage site.

... If Transneft, a Russian firm that first proposed a few years ago to build an oil pipeline through the Baikal region, had been able to see all this information—including detailed maps of especially biodiverse spots and the threatened species that inhabit them—at the click of a mouse then it might have altered its plans and avoided those spots.

... That, at any rate, is the sort of thing Conservation International, the charity that conceived IBAT, had in mind when it decided to bring together as much data on biodiversity as it could in a single database, to be unveiled at the forthcoming World Conservation Congress in Barcelona.

http://snipurl.com/43cg2


Fewer Male Reptiles Due to Warming—And That's Good?
from National Geographic News

A trend toward more females and fewer males in a type of Australian reptile may actually benefit the species in the short-term, a discovery that's contrary to previous research, a new study says.

As temperatures rise due to global warming, so does the proportion of female spotted skinks, reptiles found only on Australia's island state of Tasmania. In recent years researchers have shown concern that climate change will push the reptiles into extinction by causing their young to be born of one gender, thus limiting future reproduction.

Temperature-driven gender also occurs in other reptiles, such as crocodiles and turtles. But an increase in female spotted skinks could lead to larger populations of the reptiles, experts say. The research is described online this week in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

http://snipurl.com/411o8


How White Roofs Shine Bright Green
from the Christian Science Monitor

Can you help save the planet by painting your roof white? Hashem Akbari thinks so. Global warming's complexity and momentum have led to a try-everything approach by scientists. In that spirit, Dr. Akbari offers his simple yet profound innovation for slowing that warming way down.

It has long been known that a white roof makes a dwelling cooler. That saves energy and cuts carbon emissions. But until Akbari, a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, picked up a pencil to do the calculations, few realized the major climate effect that millions of white rooftops could have by reflecting sunlight back into space.

It turns out that a 1,000 square foot area of rooftop painted white has about the same one-time impact on global warming as cutting 10 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, he and his colleagues write in a new study soon to be published in the journal Climatic Change.

http://snipurl.com/4211m


One Quarter of World's Mammals Face Extinction
from Scientific American

The baiji dolphin is functionally extinct, orangutans are disappearing and even some species of bats—the most numerous of mammals—are dying out. A new survey of the world's 5,487 mammal species—from rodents to humans—reveals that one in four are facing imminent extinction.

"Mammal species that are just declining, not necessarily near extinction, that's 50 percent," says conservation biologist Jan Schipper of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps the Red List of Threatened Species. "And 836 species—especially rodents and bats—we determined they are threatened but we don't know how threatened, because we don't know enough about them."

Schipper and more than 1,700 scientific colleagues spent the past five years surveying the state of the world's mammals. The results, published in Science to coincide with IUCN's conference on biodiversity this week, reveal that 1,139 mammals around the globe are threatened with extinction and the populations of 52 percent of all mammal species are declining.

http://snipurl.com/44b2l


Top Psychiatrist Didn't Report Drug Makers' Pay
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

One of the nation's most influential psychiatrists earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules, according to documents provided to Congressional investigators.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, is the most prominent figure to date in a series of disclosures that is shaking the world of academic medicine and seems likely to force broad changes in the relationships between doctors and drug makers.

... The Congressional inquiry, led by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is systematically asking some of the nation's leading researchers to provide their conflict-of-interest disclosures, and Mr. Grassley is comparing those documents with records of actual payments from drug companies. The records often conflict, sometimes starkly.

http://snipurl.com/44keh


Rock Offers Mirror-Image Clues to Life's Origins
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

For more than 150 years, scientists have known that the most basic building blocks of life—chains of amino acid molecules and the proteins they form—almost always have the unusual characteristic of being overwhelmingly "left-handed." The molecules, of course, have no hands, but they are almost all asymmetrical in a way that parallels left-handedness.

This observation, first made in the 1800s by French chemist Louis Pasteur, is taught to introductory organic chemistry students—until recently with the caveat that nobody knew how this came to be.

But research into the question has picked up in recent years, focusing on a 200-pound chunk of rock found 40 years ago in Murchison, Australia. A meteorite that broke off an asteroid long ago, it brought to Earth a rich collection of carbon-based material from far away in the solar system.

http://snipurl.com/44kid


Chaos May Make You See 'Things'
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

Confusing times make for dangerous times, suggests new research that serves as a caution during the current financial crisis.

The possibility of an economic meltdown is bad enough. Worse might be a hasty response born of little more than the powerful human need to impose order—even false order—on a riotous world.

Research published in last week's journal Science doesn't address the pros and cons of any specific economic or political policy. But experiments done by Adam Galinsky, social psychologist and professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, and Jennifer Whitson, professor of management at the University of Texas-Austin, demonstrated that people who can't make sense of an out-of-control situation will trick themselves into seeing patterns or drawing connections that don't exist.

http://snipurl.com/44kx1


Nobel Medicine Prize Row as HIV Scientist Is Excluded
from the Times (London)

Three scientists who discovered the causes of the two most lethal sexually-transmitted infections, Aids and cervical cancer, have been honoured with the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Professor Luc Montagnier and Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, both from France, were awarded the prestigous accolade for identifying HIV, the virus that causes Aids, while Professor Harald zur Hausen was recognised for tracing the human papillomavirus (HPV) as the cause of cervical cancer.

While the prizes have been welcomed as richly deserved, the HIV part of the award has caused controversy because the Nobel Assembly has overlooked the claims of a third scientist who played a pivotal role in the discovery of HIV. Professor Robert Gallo, an American, is widely accepted to have identified the human immunodeficiency virus independently ...

http://snipurl.com/44l48

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 09, 2008, 05:27:28 pm
October 8, 2008

'Glowing' Jellyfish Grabs Nobel
from BBC News Online

A clever trick borrowed from jellyfish has earned two Americans and one Japanese scientist a share of the chemistry Nobel Prize.

Martin Chalfie, Roger Tsien and Osamu Shimomura made it possible to exploit the genetic mechanism responsible for luminosity in the marine creatures. Today, countless scientists use this knowledge to tag biological systems.

Glowing markers will show, for example, how brain cells develop or how cancer cells spread through tissue. But their uses really have become legion: they are now even incorporated into bacteria to act as environmental biosensors in the presence of toxic materials.

http://snipurl.com/46dy2


Fuming Over Formaldehyde
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to act for at least a year on warnings that trailers housing refugees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde, according to a House subcommittee report released Monday.

Instead, the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry demoted the scientist who questioned its initial assessment that the trailers were safe as long as residents opened a window or another vent, the report said.

That appraisal was produced in February 2007 at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which had received thousands of complaints about fumes since providing the trailers to families left homeless by the devastating 2005 hurricanes. One year later, FEMA and CDC reversed course and acknowledged that formaldehyde levels in the trailers were five times higher than are typically found in new housing.

http://snipurl.com/45j0t


Firm Says Test Judges Risk For Common Breast Cancers
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

A biotech company today will begin offering the first genetic test to assess a woman's risk for the most common forms of breast cancer, reigniting debate about the growing number of unregulated genetic tests.

The test by Decode Genetics of Reykjavik, Iceland, a respected pioneer in genetic research, promises to determine a woman's risk through a simple blood sample or cheek swab. Previously, the only tests for breast cancer risk were for relatively rare genes, leaving most women with no way to assess their individual genetic predisposition.

"What this does for women is allow them to assess their personal risk for the common forms of breast cancer," said Kári Stefánsson, Decode's chief executive. "That's what you need to do to make early diagnoses or take preventive measures. This test will most definitely save lives."

http://snipurl.com/46dto


Cold-Medicine Makers Issue Warning for Kids Under 4
from the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON—The makers of cold and cough medicines said Tuesday they are voluntarily warning parents not to give their products to children younger than 4, a move negotiated in private with federal drug regulators during the past six months.

Medications with the new warning labels will appear in stores and pharmacies immediately, though experts continue to debate at what age the over-the-counter remedies may be safe and effective. The new labels also advise against using antihistamines to sedate youngsters.

Last winter, the companies agreed to discourage the use of the products in children younger than 2. Each year, drug companies sell 95 million packs of pediatric-cold medicine, generating about $300 million in revenue. More than 7,000 children are taken to hospitals annually because of adverse reactions, primarily due to accidental overdoses.

http://snipurl.com/46e76 


Citizen Enforcers Take Aim
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

... The public urge for punishment that helped delay the passage of Washington’s economic rescue plan is more than a simple case of Wall Street loathing, according to scientists who study the psychology of forgiveness and retaliation.

The fury is based in instincts that have had a protective and often stabilizing effect on communities throughout human history. Small, integrated groups in particular often contain members who will stand up and—often at significant risk to themselves—punish cheaters, liars and freeloaders.

Scientists debate how common these citizen enforcers are, and whether an urge to punish infractions amounts to an overall gain or loss, given that it is costly for both parties. But recent research suggests that in individuals, the fairness instinct is a highly variable psychological impulse, rising and falling in response to what is happening in the world.

http://snipurl.com/45jc7


'Deepest Ever' Living Fish Filmed
from BBC News Online

The "deepest ever" living fish have been discovered, scientists believe. A UK-Japan team found the 17-strong shoal at depths of 7.7km (4.8 miles) in the Japan Trench in the Pacific—and captured the deep sea animals on film.

The scientists have been using remote-operated landers designed to withstand immense pressures to comb the world's deepest depths for marine life.

Monty Priede from the University of Aberdeen said the 30cm-long (12in), deep-sea fish were surprisingly "cute." The fish, known as Pseudoliparis amblystomopsis, can be seen darting about in the darkness of the depths, scooping up shrimps.

http://snipurl.com/45ji2


The Long, Wild Ride of Bipolar Disorder
from Science News

Children who grow up with the psychiatric ailment known as bipolar disorder rarely grow out of it. Almost half of youngsters who suffered from bipolar's severe, rapid-fire mood swings at around age 11 displayed much of the same emotional volatility at ages 18 to 20, even if the condition had improved for a while during their teens, according to the first long-term study of children diagnosed with the disorder.

Bipolar disorder took off with a vengeance in these kids. Initial episodes, often periods of frequent, dramatic mood swings, lasted for up to three years. Second episodes lasted for slightly more than one year, while third episodes continued for roughly 10 months.

During these periods, youngsters can veer back and forth several times a day between a manic sense of euphoria and a serious, even suicidal depression, say psychiatrist Barbara Geller of Washington University in St. Louis and her colleagues. Manic euphoria typically includes grandiose delusions or hallucinations.

http://snipurl.com/45jm0


Nanotech Comes Alive
from Nature News

Molecular nanostructures—the basic architectural elements of nanotechnology—have been replicated in bacterial cells. The research proves that nature's cellular machinery can be commandeered to mass-produce complex structures and devices for molecular-scale engineering.

Together with their colleagues, Nadrian Seeman of New York University and Hao Yan of Arizona State University in Tempe speculate that their method might lead to the merging of nanotechnology and Darwinian natural selection, in which such molecular devices could be created and improved by some artificial evolutionary pressure.

The technique, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, relies on the fact that the nanostructures in question are made from DNA, the genetic material of living cells.

http://snipurl.com/45jo6


No Nobel for You: Top 10 Nobel Snubs
from Scientific American

Every year, the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, announces up to three winners each in the scientific disciplines of chemistry, physics, and physiology or medicine. ... And every year, there are murmurings—some louder than others—about the Nobel-worthy scientists who were overlooked. In 1974, when Jocelyn Bell Burnell was left out of the physics prize, her fellow astronomer and Nobel reject, Fred Hoyle, told reporters it was a "scientific scandal of major proportions."

Physician-inventor Raymond Damadian famously took out full-page newspaper ads protesting his omission from the 2003 Nobel for MRI technology. This year, some will be asking questions about Robert Gallo, who did not share today's Nobel for medicine or physiology with Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi.

Nobel committee proceedings are notoriously shrouded in secrecy, so it's impossible to know all the details behind how each prizewinner is chosen, especially the more recent ones. But, according to Nobel historians, most award exclusions seem to relate to one or more of these criteria: limited slots available (Nobel rules limit the number of recipients to three for each category); ambiguity over who made the crucial contribution; and lack of experience and/or reputation within one's research community.

http://snipurl.com/45jum


Task Force Says Those Over 75 Don't Need Colon Cancer Screening
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

PHILADELPHIA (Associated Press)—Most people over 75 should stop getting routine colon cancer tests, according to a government health task force that also rejected the latest X-ray screening technology.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force—in a break with other medical and cancer organizations—opted not to give its stamp of approval to the newest tests: CT colonography, an X-ray test known as virtual colonoscopy, and a stool DNA test. The panel said more research is needed.

The task force for the first time did endorse three tests and said everyone age 50 to 75 should get screened with one of them: a colonoscopy of the entire colon every 10 years; a sigmoidoscopy of the lower colon every 5 years, combined with a stool blood test every three years; a stool blood test every year.

http://snipurl.com/45k72

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 10, 2008, 03:32:44 pm
October 9, 2008

Mercury Flyby Reveals Bright Craters, Long Rays
from National Geographic News

A new look at the solar system's innermost planet is revealing bright young craters and an extensive pattern of rays, suggesting that Mercury undergoes weathering processes like those on the moon.

NASA's MESSENGER ... spacecraft turned toward Earth in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and began transmitting images and data from its second planetary flyby.

A previous flyby in January was the first in a series of maneuvers designed to position MESSENGER in orbit around Mercury in 2011. That encounter imaged 20 percent of the planet's surface that had never been seen before. The latest images represent the first spacecraft views of the northern portion of Mercury, encompassing another 30 percent of the surface missed during previous missions.

http://snipurl.com/46lml


A Gift From the '70s: Energy Lessons
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

The presidential candidates claim to see America's energy future, but their competing visions have a certain vintage quality. They've revived that classic debate: the hard path versus the soft path.

The soft path, as Amory Lovins defined it in the 1970s, is energy conservation and power from the sun, wind and plants—the technologies that Senator Barack Obama emphasizes in his plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. Senator John McCain is more enthusiastic about building nuclear power plants, the quintessential hard path.

As a rule, it's not a good idea to revive anything from the 1970s. But this debate is the exception, and not just because the threat of global warming has raised the stakes. The old lessons are as good a guide as any to the future, as William Tucker argues in "Terrestrial Energy," his history of the hard-soft debate.

http://snipurl.com/46ltt


Blood Test Finds Coronary Disease
from the (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer

A simple blood test could soon replace expensive and invasive exams to detect coronary artery disease. The test, announced Wednesday by doctors at Duke, is being developed after the discovery of genetic markers that show the presence and intensity of blockage in coronary artery disease, said a Duke cardiologist who co-authored research on the link.

Such a blood test could save millions of dollars annually by allowing some patients to avoid risky procedures in which catheters are inserted into patients' arteries.

"I think it is a big deal," Dr. William E. Kraus, a Duke cardiologist, said in an interview Wednesday. "What we want is a test that tells us the status of your disease today and if what you have is heart disease." Kraus' research was published in the medical journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

http://snipurl.com/47jpz


Plunge in Markets Brings Another Kind of Depression
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

A Porter Ranch man who murdered his family and killed himself last weekend as he faced financial ruin is the latest and most extreme case of a wave of distress washing over the American psyche.

... The tragic case of the Rajaram family is at the bleakest edge of the economic turmoil that is rattling Americans' emotional well-being. Worries about home foreclosures, job losses and plunging stock prices have sparked a surge in mental health problems.

"The closest I have seen to this in the last 10 to 20 years is the spike after 9/11," said Richard Chaifetz, chief executive of ComPsych Corp., a Chicago-based company that coordinates mental health referrals for employers. "But this is more geographically dispersed and is not going to get better in a month."

http://snipurl.com/46lwo


Studies Lift Hopes for Great Lakes Wind Turbine Farms
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

CHICAGO—Picture 100,000 wind turbines rising from the Great Lakes off Michigan's shores, casting spinning shadows on the water and producing electricity for the entire Upper Midwest.

This surreal image is conjured by a study released last Tuesday by the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute. It analyzed wind potential in the Great Lakes and found that 100,000 turbines off Michigan's coasts could produce 321,000 megawatts of energy.

That scenario, however, is highly unlikely because of the cost and environmental and other considerations. But wind power advocates hope it is a starting point for development of the world's first freshwater, offshore wind farms—in the Great Lakes.

http://snipurl.com/46m20


Pentagon Researches Alternative Treatments
from USA Today

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon is seeking new ways to treat troops suffering from combat stress or brain damage by researching such alternative methods as acupuncture, meditation, yoga and the use of animals as therapy, military officials said.

"This new theme is a big departure for our cautious culture," Dr. S. Ward Casscells, the Pentagon's assistant secretary for health affairs, told USA TODAY.

Casscells said he pushed hard for the new research, because "we are struggling with" post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) "as we are with suicide and we are increasingly willing to take a hard look at even soft therapies."

So far this year, the Pentagon is spending $5 million to study the therapies. In the previous two years, the Pentagon had not spent any money on similar research, records show.

http://snipurl.com/46m9d


Great Balls of Fire
from Nature News

A space rock a few metres across exploded over northern Sudan early in the morning of Tuesday 7 October. The small asteroid mostly disintegrated when it collided with Earth's atmosphere, but fragments may have reached the surface.

Such an event happens roughly every three months. But this is "the first time we were able to discover and predict an impact before the event," says Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) programme at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The story began on Sunday evening, when astronomers with the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, discovered the incoming object, dubbed 2008 TC3. By the next morning, three organizations—NASA's NEO office, the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and NeoDys in Pisa, Italy—confirmed that the asteroid was racing towards Earth.

http://snipurl.com/46mfy


University: Stem-Cell Study Used Falsified Data
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

MINNEAPOLIS (Associated Press)—The University of Minnesota has concluded that falsified data were used in a 2001 article published by one of its researchers on adult stem cells. The school is asking that the article be retracted.

The conclusion follows an 18-month investigation into research published by stem-cell expert Dr. Catherine Verfaillie. The investigation clears Verfaillie of misconduct but points to a former graduate student, Dr. Morayma Reyes, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Washington.

The university blames Verfaillie for "inadequate training and oversight," and says it has asked for a retraction of the published article, which appeared in the journal Blood. Reyes said it was an honest error and there was no intent to deceive.

http://snipurl.com/46pzh


Newly Discovered Fungus Strips Pollutants from Oil
from New Scientist

A humble fungus could help oil companies clean up their fuel to meet tightening emissions standards. The fungus, recently discovered in Iran, grows naturally in crude oil and removes the sulphur and nitrogen compounds that lead to acid rain and air pollution.

Worldwide, government are imposing increasingly severe limits on how much of those compounds fuels can contain. Oil producers are searching for more efficient ways to strip sulphur and nitrogen from their products.

The standard way to "desulphurise" crude oil involves reacting it with hydrogen at temperatures of 455°C and up to 204 times atmospheric pressure (roughly 21 million pascals or 3000 psi). It achieves less than perfect results. Micro-organisms able to metabolise sulphur and nitrogen have the potential to achieve the same endpoint under more normal conditions.

http://snipurl.com/46qc5


St. Louis Festival Brings Out Science's Cool Side
from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Registration Required)

ST. LOUIS (Associated Press)—From medicine cabinets to the fermented beer in the fridge, Americans are surrounded by science all the time. The St. Louis Science Center is launching a festival this week to help people better understand, and enjoy, the ways that science plays a role in everyday lives. St. Louis was chosen from about 20 American cities to host SciFest, which is based on a popular English gathering called the Cheltenham Science Festival.

"There's this potpourri for the intellectually stimulated," said Doug King, president and chief executive of the St. Louis Science Center. Most presentations are an hour long, and scientists will tackle topics from the latest developments in stem cell science to the physics of rock guitar—using riffs from Vivaldi to Queen to illustrate points.

... Presentations will be interactive, with scientists giving demonstrations, engaging audiences in the conversation and keeping their talks at a relatable level, he said. Topics include everything from University of Texas professor and author Diandra Leslie-Pelecky on the "Physics of NASCAR" to Harvard physicist Giovanni Fazio on the birth and death of stars.

http://snipurl.com/47k1s

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 13, 2008, 12:08:34 pm
October 10, 2008

Scientists Explore New Source of Stem Cells
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Scientists have converted cells from human testes into stem cells that grew into muscle, nerve cells and other kinds of tissue, according to a study published Wednesday in the online edition of Nature.

The stem cells offer another potential alternative to embryonic stem cells for researchers who aim to treat diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's by replacing damaged or malfunctioning cells with custom-grown replacements.

Scientists have also derived flexible adult stem cells from skin, amniotic fluid and menstrual blood. The new cells were created from sperm-making cells obtained from testicular biopsies of 22 men. They are theoretically superior to traditional embryonic stem cells because they can be obtained directly from male patients and used to grow replacement tissue that their bodies won't reject, Sabine Conrad of the University of Tuebingen in Germany and her colleagues wrote.

http://snipurl.com/47q4x


Venus Flytraps Caught in Shrinking Natural Habitat
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

GREEN SWAMP PRESERVE, N.C. (Associated Press)—Laura Gadd pauses at the edge of a pristine savanna, delicately lifting her feet to avoid trampling any venus flytraps hidden underfoot.

Buried below wisps of wire grass, a few of the plants advertise their presence with a single white flower—perched atop a long stem like a flag of surrender. Gadd finds a half-dozen this day, enough to warrant a spray of glue and inconspicuous powder used to identify the plants and track down poachers who pluck them.

... One of nature's most recognized wonders, the venus flytrap's ability to snatch living prey makes it a favorite of elementary school science classes everywhere. ... Booming growth and development along the coast threatens to overrun the few sensitive and thin populations of venus flytraps that still exist in the wild.

http://snipurl.com/44ltu


Malaria Parasites Use "Cloaking Devices" to Trick Body
from National Geographic News

Malaria parasites use elaborate forms of deception, such as molecular mimicry, to fool the human immune system, new gene studies say. The discovery could lead to new vaccines for the disease, which kills millions and is rapidly becoming resistant to treatment.

Gene sequencing of two parasites, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium knowlesi, comes six years after researchers unraveled the genome of Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite that causes the most fatal infections worldwide. Gene sequencing determines the order of chemical building blocks in a species's DNA.

While P. vivax is rarely fatal and causes less severe infections, it accounts for more than a third of about 500 million infections, most of them in Asia.

http://snipurl.com/46qfy


Taking Hard New Look at a Greenspan Legacy
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

George Soros, the prominent financier, avoids using the financial contracts known as derivatives "because we don't really understand how they work." Felix G. Rohatyn, the investment banker who saved New York from financial catastrophe in the 1970s, described derivatives as potential "hydrogen bombs."

And Warren E. Buffett presciently observed five years ago that derivatives were "financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal."

One prominent financial figure, however, has long thought otherwise. And his views held the greatest sway in debates about the regulation and use of derivatives—exotic contracts that promised to protect investors from losses, thereby stimulating riskier practices that led to the financial crisis. For more than a decade, the former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has fiercely objected whenever derivatives have come under scrutiny in Congress or on Wall Street.

http://snipurl.com/47ku8


Goldmine Bug DNA May Be Key to Alien Life
from New Scientist

A bug discovered deep in a goldmine and nicknamed "the bold traveller" has got astrobiologists buzzing with excitement. Its unique ability to live in complete isolation of any other living species suggests it could be the key to life on other planets.

A community of the bacteria Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator has been discovered 2.8 kilometres beneath the surface of the Earth in fluid-filled cracks of the Mponeng goldmine in South Africa. Its 60°C home is completely isolated from the rest of the world, and devoid of light and oxygen.

Dylan Chivian of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, studied the genes found in samples of the fluid to identify the organisms living within it, expecting to find a mix of species. Instead, he found that 99.9% of the DNA belonged to one bacterium, a new species. The remaining DNA was contamination from the mine and the laboratory.

http://snipurl.com/47vm0


Scientific Journals: Publish and Be Wrong
from the Economist

In economic theory the winner's curse refers to the idea that someone who places the winning bid in an auction may have paid too much. Consider, for example, bids to develop an oil field. Most of the offers are likely to cluster around the true value of the resource, so the highest bidder probably paid too much.

The same thing may be happening in scientific publishing, according to a new analysis. With so many scientific papers chasing so few pages in the most prestigious journals, the winners could be the ones most likely to oversell themselves—to trumpet dramatic or important results that later turn out to be false.

This would produce a distorted picture of scientific knowledge, with less dramatic (but more accurate) results either relegated to obscure journals or left unpublished. In Public Library of Science (PloS) Medicine, an online journal, John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, and his colleagues, suggest that a variety of economic conditions, such as oligopolies, artificial scarcities and the winner's curse, may have analogies in scientific publishing.

http://snipurl.com/47v8v


Only One Person Has Survived Rabies without Vaccine—But How?
from Scientific American

Four years after she nearly died from rabies, Jeanna Giese is being heralded as the first person known to have survived the virus without receiving a preventative vaccine. But Giese (pronounced Gee-See) says she would gladly share that honor with others if only doctors could show that the treatment used to save her could spare other victims as well.

"They shouldn't stop 'till it's perfected," said Giese, now 19, during a recent interview about physicians' quest to refine the technique that may have kept her alive. Giese's wish may come true. Another young girl infected with rabies is still alive more than a month after doctors induced a coma to put her symptoms on hold, just as they did with Giese.

Yolanda Caicedo, an infectious disease specialist at Hospital Universitario del Valle in Cali, Colombia, who is treating the latest survivor, confirmed reports in the Colombian newspaper El País that the victim is an eight-year-old girl who came down with symptoms in August, about a month after she was bitten by an apparently rabid cat.

http://snipurl.com/47vgk


Nearly 300 New Marine Species Found Near Australia
from National Geographic News

Scientists have found 274 new species of corals, starfish, sponges, shrimps, and crabs 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) beneath the surface of Australia's Southern Ocean.

"We know very little about the deep sea," said lead scientist Nic Bax, a marine biologist with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Hobart, Tasmania. "Finding out how much live coral is down there, and how large those communities are, is very exciting." 

Some of the corals were found to be about 2,000 years old, said Bax. CSIRO made the discoveries in two separate voyages to marine reserves located 100 to 200 nautical miles off the southern coast of Tasmania, Australia.

http://snipurl.com/47vso


'Unbreakable' Encryption Unveiled
from BBC News Online

Perfect secrecy has come a step closer with the launch of the world's first computer network protected by unbreakable quantum encryption at a scientific conference in Vienna.

The network connects six locations across Vienna and in the nearby town of St Poelten, using 200 km of standard commercial fibre optic cables. Quantum cryptography is completely different from the kinds of security schemes used on computer networks today.

These are typically based on complex mathematical procedures which are extremely hard for outsiders to crack, but not impossible given sufficient computing resources or time. But quantum systems use the laws of quantum theory, which have been shown to be inherently unbreakable.

http://snipurl.com/47vwo


Cosmic Eye Telescope Used to Spot Distant Galaxy
from the Telegraph (UK)

Scientists have used a "cosmic eye" to "look back in time" and glimpse a galaxy formation similar to the Milky Way which could give clues to the formation of the Universe. Using a technique that employs gravity from a galaxy in the foreground as an enormous zoom lens, researchers were able to see into the distant Universe.

The cosmic eye allowed scientists to observe a young star-forming galaxy, which lies about 11 billion light years from Earth, as it appeared just two billion years after the Big Bang.

Teams from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the US and Durham and Cardiff Universities in the UK believe their findings show for the first time how the galaxy might evolve to become a spiral system like the Milky Way.

http://snipurl.com/47wfk

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 13, 2008, 12:52:04 pm
I was going to post something about "the bold traveller" story.  It's amazing the different environments we are finding life in.  I'd love to know how it got that far down in the earth in the first place.

Also, do we actually have quantum computers now?  I thought that they were still 2-5 years away.

The rabies story was interesting too, but I don't have anything interesting to add to it.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 13, 2008, 01:19:01 pm
I was going to post something about "the bold traveller" story.  It's amazing the different environments we are finding life in.  I'd love to know how it got that far down in the earth in the first place.

Also, do we actually have quantum computers now?  I thought that they were still 2-5 years away.

The rabies story was interesting too, but I don't have anything interesting to add to it.

About the bold traveler story, I think people see something cool, but then they go off and become idiotic about it. They find this organism that can live in complete isolation, in anoxic conditions and chemosynthetically. Then they go off and talk about it being the key to life on other planets. I look at this organism, and say who cares about other planets, we may have found a relic organism from one of the earliest periods of earths history, leading us ever closer to the supreme question of biogenesis, "How the hell did life come about, anyway?" I feel the same way about the deep ocean vents.

I've heard the rabies story before. If this ends up working, its a confirmation that the earlier cure was not just a fluke. It reminds me of a story I read a couple years ago, about doctors using slow revival methods to bring heart attack patients back from the dead without severe neural trauma.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Jasper on October 13, 2008, 06:50:17 pm
Also, do we actually have quantum computers now?  I thought that they were still 2-5 years away.

http://www.physorg.com/news11087.html
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 13, 2008, 07:07:11 pm
Also, do we actually have quantum computers now?  I thought that they were still 2-5 years away.

http://www.physorg.com/news11087.html

Quote
"It seems absolutely bizarre that counterfactual computation – using information that is counter to what must have actually happened – could find an answer without running the entire quantum computer," said Kwiat, a John Bardeen Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics at Illinois. "But the nature of quantum interrogation makes this amazing feat possible."

Sometimes called interaction-free measurement, quantum interrogation is a technique that makes use of wave-particle duality (in this case, of photons) to search a region of space without actually entering that region of space.

Utilizing two coupled optical interferometers, nested within a third, Kwiat's team succeeded in counterfactually searching a four-element database using Grover's quantum search algorithm. "By placing our photon in a quantum superposition of running and not running the search algorithm, we obtained information about the answer even when the photon did not run the search algorithm," said graduate student Onur Hosten, lead author of the Nature paper. "We also showed theoretically how to obtain the answer without ever running the algorithm, by using a 'chained Zeno' effect."

 :asplode:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 16, 2008, 03:09:21 am
October 13, 2008

Paul Krugman Wins Economics Nobel
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton University and an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science on Monday.

"It's been an extremely weird day, but weird in a positive way," Mr. Krugman said in an interview on his way to a meeting for the Group of Thirty, an international body from the public and private sectors that discusses international economics.

Mr. Krugman received the award for his work on international trade and economic geography. In particular, the prize committee lauded his work for "having shown the effects of economies of scale on trade patterns and on the location of economic activity."

http://snipurl.com/4bdr1 


Numbers Don't Add Up for U.S. Girls
from Science News

A combination of peer pressure, gender stereotyping and low expectations contributes to turning potentially gifted kids—especially girls—away from mathematics, wasting a precious national resource, a new study suggests.

The study, by cancer biochemist Janet Mertz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her collaborators, appears in the November Notices of the American Mathematical Society.

Mertz's team tallied the participants in top international competitions for high school students, the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition and the International Mathematical Olympiad, and other data. While girls were underrepresented on all countries' teams, some countries, including the United States, often had no girls on a team.

http://snipurl.com/48wnr


Shark "Virgin Birth" Confirmed
from National Geographic News

A female blacktip shark in Virginia fertilized her own egg without mating with a male shark, new DNA evidence shows. This is the second time scientists have used DNA testing to verify shark parthenogenesis—the process that allows females of some species to produce offspring without sperm.

The female shark, dubbed Tidbit, died during a routine physical exam before the pregnancy was identified. A necropsy—an animal autopsy—after her death revealed she was carrying a near-term pup fetus that was about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length.

Tidbit was caught in the wild when she was very young and reached sexual maturity in a tank at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, where she lived for eight years.

http://snipurl.com/48wt7


Mismanaged Tourism Threaten Galapagos Islands
from the Seattle Times

A few weeks ago, 19 Ecuadorean citizens detained on these world-renowned islands were marched onto a plane and sent back to the continent under armed guard. Their crime? Illegal migration.

So far this year, the government has expelled 1,000 of its citizens from the Galápagos—a living laboratory of unique animal and plant species—who were there without residency and work permits. It also has "normalized" 2,000 others, in effect giving most of them a year to leave.

The migrants are attracted not by the tortoises or blue-footed boobies but by the islands' booming economy, which offers plentiful jobs and good pay. Typical wages run 70 percent higher than on Ecuador's mainland, the public schools are good and violent crime is nonexistent. Last year, Ecuador was stung by a United Nations warning that the islands, whose human population has doubled in 10 years to about 30,000, are at risk from overcrowding and mismanaged tourism.

http://snipurl.com/48zg8


Doubling of Kids' Vitamin D Intake Urged
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

(Associated Press)—The nation's leading pediatricians group says children—from newborns to teens—should get double the usually recommended amount of vitamin D because of evidence that it may help prevent serious diseases.

To meet the new recommendation of 400 units daily, millions of children will need to take daily vitamin D supplements, the American Academy of Pediatrics said. That includes breast-fed infants—even those who get some formula, too, and many teens who drink little or no milk.

Baby formula contains vitamin D, so infants on formula only generally don't need supplements. However, the academy recommends breast-feeding for at least the first year of life, and breast milk is sometimes deficient.

http://snipurl.com/4bdyt 


US Tourist Set for Space Station
from BBC News Online

US space tourist Richard Garriott has successfully blasted off into space, following in the footsteps of his astronaut father. Mr Garriott has paid about $30m (£17m) for his 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft, mounted on a three-stage rocket, launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 0701 GMT (0801 BST; 0301 EDT). Richard's father, Owen Garriott, spent 60 days on a US space station in 1973. He took extensive photographs of the Earth's surface during his stay on the Skylab orbital outpost.

Owen, 77, will support his son from mission control in Moscow. Richard Garriott, a 47-year-old computer game designer, is joined on the flight by US astronaut Mike Fincke, who becomes the space station's commander, and Russian flight engineer Yuri Lonchakov.

http://snipurl.com/4bdsy


World's Oldest Footprints Found in Nevada?
from National Geographic News

Scientists believe they have uncovered Earth's oldest known footprints in the mountains of Nevada—a fossil find that suggests animals have been walking around about 30 million years longer than previously thought, according to new research.

The controversial tracks—described by one skeptical scientist as "paired rows of dots"— may indicate animals had legs in the late Protozoic era, about 570 million years ago, according to lead researcher Loren Babcock.

The discovery is the strongest evidence to suggest animals were able to move about on their own appendages during the Ediacaran period, before the Cambrian period "explosion." During the Cambrian complex animals rapidly emerged and replaced simple multicellular animals, said the Ohio State University professor.

http://snipurl.com/4agfn


A Green Revolution for Africa?
from the New York Times Magazine (Registration Required)

"When we started," Rajiv Shah recalled over a late-evening coffee at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, "developing-world agriculture seemed very much out of fashion." That was before the food riots and rice tariffs and dire predictions of mass starvation that accompanied the global rise in food prices last spring.

And it was before the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for which Shah has worked since 2001, made agriculture, particularly African agriculture, a top priority. Agriculture may have been unfashionable four years ago, when Shah and others on the foundation's "strategic opportunities" team began discussing an agriculture initiative, but it is fashionable now.

This is partly a result of market forces leading to the prospect of severe food shortages; but it is also partly because of the market-making power of the Gates Foundation itself. Bill Gates began this year with a promise to nearly double the foundation's commitment to agricultural development with $306 million in additional grants.

http://snipurl.com/4ahtl


Craft Flies 16 Miles From Moon Of Saturn
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The international Cassini space probe flew within 16 miles of the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus last week—a breathtakingly close flyby designed to gather dust and water particles that will help scientists better understand the recently discovered geysers that spew constantly from the moon's south pole.

"Cassini flew closest to the equator of Enceladus to collect those particles and then went into the plume coming out of the south pole at a much greater height," said project scientist Robert Pappalardo.

The main goal of the mission, he said, is to determine if the dust and ice particles drifting above the moon's equator are the same or different from those that spit out of the geysers. "This is how we hope to learn more about the history and evolution of Enceladus, and about whether there's liquid water involved in the generation of the plume," he said.

http://snipurl.com/4atiq


Herceptin Brings New Age in Breast Cancer Care
from USA Today

Barbara Bradfield has lived to see dramatic changes in breast cancer. When she was diagnosed in 1989, Bradfield's tumor—which produced an overabundance of a protein called HER2—was considered especially deadly. Today, women with tumors like hers have some of the best survival rates in breast cancer.

Experts say the drug that has kept Bradfield healthy for so long, Herceptin, has changed the nature of breast cancer and helped doctors better understand what causes the disease.

In the 10 years since it was approved, doctors say Herceptin also has encouraged the development of a growing arsenal of new therapies that target cancer cells but spare patients from many of the grueling side effects of traditional chemotherapy. Bradfield, who received chemo before and during her Herceptin therapy, developed permanent hearing loss and numbness in her fingers because of those older drugs.

http://snipurl.com/4bdvy

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 16, 2008, 03:27:17 am
Also, thought I'd get a jump on this.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014134015.htm (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014134015.htm)

While paleontologists may scour remote, exotic places in search of prehistoric specimens, Tufts researchers have found what they believe to be the world's oldest whole-body fossil impression of a flying insect in a wooded field behind a strip mall in North Attleboro, Mass.

Though, the verdict is still out on whether its a flying insect or not, and if so, whether it had full flight capacities or rudiments composes of leg endites and exites forming thoracic sidelobes. (The origin of wings from the endites and exites of thoracic appendanges has been pretty much confirmed by Drosophila genetic manipulation since the '80, yet there are still some people that hold on tight to the old paranotal lobe hypothesis. I don't get it.)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 16, 2008, 07:27:50 pm
I'm especially interested in the mindfulness article in this one. The Tiktalik fossil is another.




October 16, 2008

"Fishapod" Had World's First Known Neck, Study Says
from National Geographic News

The skull of a 375-million-year-old Arctic fossil fish reveals that the "fishapod" could nod its head up and down and may have breathed air, a new study says. These new clues may help explain how our fish ancestors evolved into land dwellers.

The fossil fish—called Tiktaalik roseae—was discovered in the Canadian Arctic in 2004 and provides the 'missing link' between fish and land vertebrates, according to scientists.

The new study confirms that the prehistoric fish, which had limblike fins, heralded a momentous departure from water for vertebrates (animals with backbones) but that this evolutionary transition wasn't as sudden as previously thought.

http://snipurl.com/4e581


Bypassing Paralyzed Nerves
from Science News

It's a case of mind over muscle, by way of machine. By electronically connecting a monkey's forearm muscles to its brain, researchers gave a temporarily paralyzed monkey the ability to clench those muscles.

An electrode implanted in the monkey's brain picked up the electrical signal from a single neuron, and the monkey learned to control the activity of that neuron to regain control of its wrist—even if the neuron was in a sensory rather than a muscle-controlling region of the brain.

It's a powerful demonstration of the brain's flexibility, and the first time that scientists have electronically linked a single neuron to an animal's own muscles, researchers report in the Oct. 16 Nature.

http://snipurl.com/4e5de


See the World—And Help Conserve It
from Scientific American

Rain forests and tundra, deserts and savannas, mountaintops and undersea reefs. No spot on the planet is too remote for the movement that has changed the face of leisure travel. Ecotourism, in all its various guises—green tourism, sustainable tourism, adventure travel—has gained traction as enthusiasts seek to experience the earth's wonders while treading lightly on them.

Lately a new subset of this boom has emerged. "Voluntourism" ramps the ecological impulse up a notch, providing ways for vacationers to help save the world's sustainable resources. The trend has been described as a kind of mini version of the Peace Corps. Depending on your interests, you could find yourself repairing trails leading to Old Faithful, tracking sharks in the Atlantic, or mixing cement for housing in the Andes.

Voluntourism is becoming a significant growth sector of the travel industry. Online trip planner Travelocity, for example, now partners with tour operators such as GlobeAware, Cross-Cultural Solutions and Take Pride in America, which specialize in launching voluntourists on service-oriented vacations.

http://snipurl.com/4e5hb


American Icons Aren't the Animals They Used to Be
from New Scientist

Some iconic American animals—wolves, bears and bison—are not the creatures that they used to be. The problem is hybridisation, the "contamination" of one species' DNA with that of another. Does this matter? Should hybrid populations get the same protection as pure-bred ones?

Conservationists are debating, for example, whether the western grey wolf should have been removed from the Endangered Species list because genetic studies suggest some of them are wolf-coyote hybrids.

Grey wolves are not the only ones mixing up their historical genomes. Six of the 15 bison herds in the US have pieces of cattle DNA. Meanwhile, polar bears are mating with grizzlies, resulting in hybrid "grolar bears." Opinions are divided about how much this should affect conservation initiatives. Some say it depends on how heavily the human hand has played a role in introducing hybrids.

http://snipurl.com/4e5qn


Commentary: What Makes Science 'Science'?
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

A science educator surveyed science graduates who were teachers-in-training on their understanding of key terminology, and his findings revealed a serious problem.

Graduates, from a range of science disciplines and from a variety of universities in Britain and around the world, have a poor grasp of the meaning of simple terms and are unable to provide appropriate definitions of key scientific terminology.

So how can these hopeful young trainees possibly teach science to children so that they become scientifically literate? How will school-kids learn to distinguish the questions and problems that science can answer from those that science cannot and, more importantly, the difference between science and pseudoscience?

http://snipurl.com/4e5y9

 

Does This Explain Muskrat Love?
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Scientists have confirmed what poets have long known: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Working with mouse-like rodents called prairie voles, scientists have found that close monogamous relationships alter the chemistry of the brain, fostering the release of a compound that builds loyalty but also plays a role in depression during times of separation.

The scientists found that after four days away from their mates, male voles experienced changes in the emotional center of their brains, causing them to become unresponsive and lethargic. When given a drug that blocked the changes, however, lonely voles emerged from their funk.

http://snipurl.com/4e6hf

 

FDA Looks into BPA Advocate's Donation to Science Center
from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Federal officials are investigating whether the chairman of a panel about to make a pivotal ruling on the safety of bisphenol A has been compromised by a large donation that was disclosed by the Journal Sentinel on Sunday.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing all documents to ensure that Martin Philbert complied with the agency's disclosure requirements, said FDA spokesman Michael Herndon. Philbert serves as chairman of the FDA subcommittee that is reviewing an earlier FDA ruling on the safety of the controversial chemical.

"We have no reason to believe that Dr. Philbert has done anything other than act in good faith on this matter," Herndon said. The move comes after several congressmen, citing the Journal Sentinel story, called for Philbert to step down or return the $5 million given to the center he directs.

http://snipurl.com/4e6tj


Internet Millionaire Takes Aim at Mars
from the Christian Science Monitor

Hawthorne, Calif.—Every morning, Elon Musk steels himself to once again do battle with gravity. A multimillionaire who made his fortune as cofounder of PayPal, Mr. Musk has spent six years and $100 million of his own money designing rockets for his company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX). In August, he watched helplessly as a design flaw allowed Newtonian forces to triumph over his Falcon 1—the third failure in as many launches.

... It took a fourth launch on Sept. 28, preceded by a family visit to Disneyland's Space Mountain to calm Musk's nerves, for Falcon 1 to become the first privately developed, liquid-fuel rocket to orbit Earth.

Having passed that milestone ... SpaceX is on a trajectory to revolutionize space transportation. Musk wants to make it more affordable through much cheaper launches. His larger ambition is to transport astronauts in Space X's rocket capsule, effectively providing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with an alternative to the space shuttle, due to be mothballed in 2010.

http://snipurl.com/4e78x


Calming the Mind's Chatter
from the Baltimore Sun

They're crescendoing like the finale of Beethoven's "Ninth": Bailouts, buyouts. Recession, depression. Enter the meditative practice of mindfulness. Born of Buddhist roots, it's increasingly recognized as a measure to calm the mind's chatter and elevate the brain's thinking and organizational processes.

Mindfulness seminars. Mindfulness books. Even the medical mainstream is taking note—the Sept. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association had a piece titled "Mindfulness in Medicine."

... Mindfulness is built around the premise of disengaging from overly emotional responses and extraneous thoughts that clutter the mind's ability to think clearly. By using techniques such as breathing, visual imagery and meditation to slow down and focus on the present, the theory goes, a person can tap into a higher level of awareness.

http://snipurl.com/4e7pd


Bottled Water Has Contaminants Too, Study Finds
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

(Associated Press)—Tests on leading brands of bottled water turned up a variety of contaminants often found in tap water, according to a study released Wednesday by an environmental advocacy group.

The findings challenge the popular impression—and marketing pitch—that bottled water is purer than tap water, the researchers say. However, all the brands met federal health standards for drinking water. Two violated a California state standard, the study said.
 
An industry group branded the findings "alarmist." Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, said the study is based on the faulty premise that a contaminant is a health concern "even if it does not exceed the established regulatory limit or no standard has been set."

http://snipurl.com/4e7v2

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on October 16, 2008, 09:43:37 pm
Shark "Virgin Birth" Confirmed
from National Geographic News

A female blacktip shark in Virginia fertilized her own egg without mating with a male shark, new DNA evidence shows. This is the second time scientists have used DNA testing to verify shark parthenogenesis—the process that allows females of some species to produce offspring without sperm.

The female shark, dubbed Tidbit, died during a routine physical exam before the pregnancy was identified. A necropsy—an animal autopsy—after her death revealed she was carrying a near-term pup fetus that was about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length.

Tidbit was caught in the wild when she was very young and reached sexual maturity in a tank at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, where she lived for eight years.

http://snipurl.com/48wt7
I didn't realize that parthenogenesis was an option for "[a]ll non-mammal vertebrate species."  I was under the impression that only whiptail lizards did it.  Makes me wonder how common it really is.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 16, 2008, 09:58:17 pm
Shark "Virgin Birth" Confirmed
from National Geographic News

A female blacktip shark in Virginia fertilized her own egg without mating with a male shark, new DNA evidence shows. This is the second time scientists have used DNA testing to verify shark parthenogenesis—the process that allows females of some species to produce offspring without sperm.

The female shark, dubbed Tidbit, died during a routine physical exam before the pregnancy was identified. A necropsy—an animal autopsy—after her death revealed she was carrying a near-term pup fetus that was about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length.

Tidbit was caught in the wild when she was very young and reached sexual maturity in a tank at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, where she lived for eight years.

http://snipurl.com/48wt7
I didn't realize that parthenogenesis was an option for "[a]ll non-mammal vertebrate species."  I was under the impression that only whiptail lizards did it.  Makes me wonder how common it really is.

Parthenogenesis often occurs in insects. It could potentially occur in any organism, I think, but in insects particularly because the sex chromosomes are the same, two for a female and one for a male. So, to get a male in insects you just subtract an X. In vertebrates, its usually XY, so you can't parthenogenicaly get males, but you can get females. Its essentially natural cloning.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on October 16, 2008, 10:15:20 pm
Shark "Virgin Birth" Confirmed
from National Geographic News

A female blacktip shark in Virginia fertilized her own egg without mating with a male shark, new DNA evidence shows. This is the second time scientists have used DNA testing to verify shark parthenogenesis—the process that allows females of some species to produce offspring without sperm.

The female shark, dubbed Tidbit, died during a routine physical exam before the pregnancy was identified. A necropsy—an animal autopsy—after her death revealed she was carrying a near-term pup fetus that was about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length.

Tidbit was caught in the wild when she was very young and reached sexual maturity in a tank at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, where she lived for eight years.

http://snipurl.com/48wt7
I didn't realize that parthenogenesis was an option for "[a]ll non-mammal vertebrate species."  I was under the impression that only whiptail lizards did it.  Makes me wonder how common it really is.

Parthenogenesis often occurs in insects. It could potentially occur in any organism, I think, but in insects particularly because the sex chromosomes are the same, two for a female and one for a male. So, to get a male in insects you just subtract an X. In vertebrates, its usually XY, so you can't parthenogenicaly get males, but you can get females. Its essentially natural cloning.
I can see why it doesn't work for mammals though because there have actually been experiments where an embryo has been fertilized with the genes from two ovum.  It dies during development.  That's where the theory of genomic imprinting came from and there are some genes that are expressed differently depending on which sex it came from.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 16, 2008, 10:36:31 pm
Shark "Virgin Birth" Confirmed
from National Geographic News

A female blacktip shark in Virginia fertilized her own egg without mating with a male shark, new DNA evidence shows. This is the second time scientists have used DNA testing to verify shark parthenogenesis—the process that allows females of some species to produce offspring without sperm.

The female shark, dubbed Tidbit, died during a routine physical exam before the pregnancy was identified. A necropsy—an animal autopsy—after her death revealed she was carrying a near-term pup fetus that was about 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length.

Tidbit was caught in the wild when she was very young and reached sexual maturity in a tank at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, where she lived for eight years.

http://snipurl.com/48wt7
I didn't realize that parthenogenesis was an option for "[a]ll non-mammal vertebrate species."  I was under the impression that only whiptail lizards did it.  Makes me wonder how common it really is.

Parthenogenesis often occurs in insects. It could potentially occur in any organism, I think, but in insects particularly because the sex chromosomes are the same, two for a female and one for a male. So, to get a male in insects you just subtract an X. In vertebrates, its usually XY, so you can't parthenogenicaly get males, but you can get females. Its essentially natural cloning.
I can see why it doesn't work for mammals though because there have actually been experiments where an embryo has been fertilized with the genes from two ovum.  It dies during development.  That's where the theory of genomic imprinting came from and there are some genes that are expressed differently depending on which sex it came from.

I've heard things about lesbian couples wanting to have kids together and some sort of experiments into that. Do you know anything about that?

Edit: I freely admit that vertebrates are not my specialty, much less mammals.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on October 16, 2008, 10:44:05 pm
This (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11601-bone-stem-cells-turned-into-primitive-sperm-cells.html) is the last thing that I've heard about turning ovum into sperm.  I have no idea where it's gone if there has been any progress.  The wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_sperm) doesn't have any more recent information.  I can only assume that it hasn't worked yet.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 17, 2008, 03:01:43 am
Yesterday's news


October 15, 2008

Sloan Sky Survey's 3-D Guide to the Final Frontier
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

SUNSPOT, N.M.—It's fair to say that Dan Long has seen more of the universe than anyone but God.

... This summer, after eight years of charting the cosmos, Long and his colleagues completed the deepest, most comprehensive map of the heavens ever produced.

Known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, it is a remarkable three-dimensional model of the universe that allows an observer to travel, as if by rocket ship, from the dwarf galaxies hugging the skirts of the Milky Way to the frontier campfires of the most distant quasars, blazing billions of light-years away.

http://snipurl.com/4dpok


Cooling Climate 'Consensus' of 1970s Never Was
from Science News

The reasons to disbelieve that humans are causing global warming are many and varied, skeptics say. For example: Natural factors such as long-term variations in solar radiation are causing the rise in worldwide average temperature.

The urban heat island effect is skewing modern weather data, so the warming observed in recent decades isn't real. And besides, not long ago experts all believed the Earth was cooling, not warming.

Actually, research has shown that many such ideas are bogus. ... Now, new research also skewers the global warming skeptics' claim that, in the 1970s, scientists believed that an ice age was imminent.

http://snipurl.com/4cp8n 


What Being Neat or Messy Says about Political Leanings
from Scientific American

Researchers insist they can tell someone's politlcal affiliation by looking at the condition of their offices and bedrooms. Messy? You're a lefty. A neatnik? Welcome to the Right.

According to a controversial new study, set to be published in The Journal of Political Psychology, the bedrooms and offices of liberals, who are generally thought of as open, tend to be colorful and awash in books about travel, ethnicity, feminism and music, along with music CDs covering folk, classic and modern rock, as well as art supplies, movie tickets and travel memorabilia.

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to surround themselves with calendars, postage stamps, laundry baskets, irons and sewing materials in their personal spaces, according to the study. Their bedrooms and offices are well-lighted and decorated with sports paraphernalia and flags—especially American ones.

http://snipurl.com/4cppd


Outcry at Scale of Inheritance Project
from Nature News

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) handed out the first payments in a multi-million-dollar project to explore epigenomics last month. But some researchers are voicing concerns about the scientific and economic justification for this latest 'big biology' venture.

Epigenetics, described as "inheritance, but not as we know it," is now a blisteringly hot field. It is concerned with changes in gene expression that are typically inherited, but not caused by changes in gene sequence.

In theory, epigenetic studies can help explain how the millions of cells in the human body can carry identical DNA but form completely different cell types, and perhaps why certain cells are susceptible to disease. The NIH's epigenomics initiative is a plan for such studies on a grand scale ... 

http://snipurl.com/4cq0e


After Acai, What Is Amazon's Next "Cinderella Fruit"?
from National Geographic News

In the rainforests of Peru's remote Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, mothers don't make kids eat their carrots. Instead, kids munch on aguaje, a crisp, neon yellow palm fruit covered in maroon scales. It tastes a bit like a carrot, but packs three times the vitamin A punch.

Aguaje is just one of more than a hundred wild and domesticated fruits available to people each year in this 8,000-square-mile chunk of protected Amazon wetland at the confluence of two rivers in northeastern Peru.

And with so much variety and abundance, it's not surprising that these fruits form the centerpiece of the local diet. The reserve's 100,000 residents depend on them for many nutrients—like vitamins, protein, and oils—that the rest of us normally get from a variety of other foods, including vegetables and nuts.

http://snipurl.com/4cynr


NASA to Reboot Hubble Space Telescope
from New Scientist

NASA will attempt to revive the $2 billion Hubble Space Telescope on Wednesday, officials say. The telescope was idled two weeks ago by an equipment failure.

The breakdown of a computer needed to relay science data to Earth prompted NASA to postpone until next year a long-awaited space shuttle mission to upgrade the orbital observatory. That flight, which had been slated for lift-off on Tuesday, was rescheduled for February.

Engineers plan to send commands to the telescope early on Wednesday to switch over to a backup computer that has not even been turned on since before the telescope arrived in orbit 18 years ago.

http://snipurl.com/4cyt6


Thinking Anew About a Migratory Barrier: Roads
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

SALTESE, Mont.—Dr. Chris Servheen spends a lot of time mulling a serious scientific question: why didn't the grizzly bear cross the road? The future of the bear may depend on the answer.

The mountains in and around Glacier National Park teem with bears. A recently concluded five-year census found 765 grizzlies in northwestern Montana, more than three times the number of bears as when it was listed as a threatened species in 1975.

To the south lies a swath of federally protected wilderness much larger than Yellowstone, where the habitat is good, and there are no known grizzlies. They were wiped out 50 years ago to protect sheep. One of the main reasons they have not returned is Interstate 90.

http://snipurl.com/4cz0v


Expedition Set for 'Ghost Peaks'
from BBC News Online

It is perhaps the last great Antarctic expedition—to find an explanation for why there is a great mountain range buried under the White Continent. The Gamburtsevs match the Alps in scale but no-one has ever seen them because they are covered by up to 4km of ice.

Geologists struggle to understand how such a massif can have formed and persisted in the middle of Antarctica. Now, an international team is setting out on a deep-field survey to try to get some answers.

The group comprises scientists, engineers, pilots and support staff from the UK, the US, Germany, Australia, China and Japan. The ambitious nature of the project—working in Antarctica's far interior—has required an exceptional level of co-ordination and co-operation.

http://snipurl.com/4cz6o


Number of Devil's Hole Pupfish Increasing
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The tiny Devil's Hole pupfish, found only in a small, deep pool in the desert near Death Valley, has been teetering on the brink of extinction for years. In the spring of 2006 there were only 38 of them, down from roughly 500 in the mid-1990s.

The reasons for the decline are unclear. But government scientists trying to reverse the trend appear to be enjoying a bit of success.

The autumn count of the iridescent blue fish has risen for three years, to 126 this fall, the first steady increase in more than a decade. Convinced that the pupfish problems are tied to a shortage of nutrients, biologists took the unusual step of feeding the fish.

http://snipurl.com/4cord


TB Victim Remains Re-write History of Disease
from the Telegraph (UK)

The discovery of two nine thousand year old tuberculosis victims demolishes the conventional wisdom that humans caught the disease from cows, claims a new study.

Scientists have traditionally believed that tuberculosis was caught from the infected milk of cattle at a time when humans first started domesticating animals around six thousand years go.

But the discovery of two much older victims—a mother and a child—finally proves that the human strain most likely existed before its bovine equivalent. It is hoped the findings reported in the Public Library of Science One journal, will help scientists trace the route of the disease which still kills thousands of people every year.

http://snipurl.com/4dpwc

 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 11:31:41 am
October 24, 2008

Cancer Drug Shows Promise Against MS
from USA Today

A leukemia drug was about 70% more effective than a standard therapy in treating early multiple sclerosis, according to clinical trial results in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

In multiple sclerosis, or MS, the immune system attacks myelin, the sheath that enables nerve cells to conduct impulses between the brain and other parts of the body.

The drug, alemtuzumab, is a monoclonal antibody that depletes the body of the white blood cells that attack myelin, which are eventually replaced by new white blood cells that don't. For reasons not yet clear, though, alemtuzumab raised patients' risk of autoimmune diseases of the thyroid or platelets, and one study participant died as a result.

http://snipurl.com/4n3pn


Flying Syringes and Other Bold Ideas
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

BANGKOK, Oct. 22—The charitable foundation founded by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates has awarded 104 grants, each for $100,000, in a bid to inject entrepreneurial boldness and risk-taking into the often staid world of medical research.

Announced in Bangkok, the grants are the first stage of a $100 million, five-year project the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hopes will encourage research into innovative medical ideas that it feels now have little chance of development, largely because of how funding is distributed.

In making its picks, the foundation has rejected the widespread practice of peer review—assigning other specialists in a field to evaluate research—because, in the words of Tadataka Yamada, the foundation's director of global health, "peer review—by definition almost—excludes innovation because innovation has no peers."

http://snipurl.com/4n37g


Team Records 'Music' from Stars
from BBC News Online

Scientists have recorded the sound of three stars similar to our Sun using France's Corot space telescope. A team writing in Science journal says the sounds have enabled them to get information about processes deep within stars for the first time.

If you listen closely to the sounds of each star ...you'll hear a regular repeating pattern. These indicate that the entire star is pulsating. You'll also note that the sound of one star is very slightly different to the other. That's because the sound they make depends on their age, size and chemical composition.

The technique, called "stellar seismology," is becoming increasingly popular among astronomers because the sounds give an indication of what is going on in the stars' interior.

http://snipurl.com/4n2xr


Drought Resistance Is the Goal, but Methods Differ
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

GRAND ISLAND, Neb.—To satisfy the world’s growing demand for food, scientists are trying to pull off a genetic trick that nature itself has had trouble accomplishing in millions of years of evolution. They want to create varieties of corn, wheat and other crops that can thrive with little water.

As the world’s population expands and global warming alters weather patterns, water shortages are expected to hold back efforts to grow more food. People drink only a quart or two of water every day, but the food they eat in a typical day, including plants and meat, requires 2,000 to 3,000 quarts to produce.

For companies that manage to get “more crop per drop,” the payoff could be huge, and scientists at many of the biggest agricultural companies are busy tweaking plant genes in search of the winning formula.

http://snipurl.com/4n2hi


Mysterious 'Dead Water' Effect Caught on Film
from New Scientist

In 1893, Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his ship Fram were victims of a strange phenomenon as he sailed past the Nordenskiöld Archipelago, north of Siberia. Nansen wrote afterwards: "Fram appeared to be held back, as if by some mysterious force, and she did not always answer the helm ..."

Nansen called the effect "dead water ..." Research has already shown that dead water occurs when an area of water consists of two or more layers of water with different salinity, and hence density ...

Now French scientists recreating that scenario in a lab tank have revealed new detail of the phenomenon and even captured the effect on video. The work will help scientists to better understand dead water and the behaviour of stratified sea patches.

http://snipurl.com/4lvvd


Study Probes Clouds' Climate Role
from BBC News Online

An international team of scientists is hoping to shed light on how clouds over the Pacific Ocean are affecting global climate and weather systems. The clouds, some of which are bigger than the US, reflect sunlight back into space and cool the ocean below.

The team hopes to learn more about the clouds' properties and if pollution from activities such as mining affect the formation of these systems. The month-long study will involve more than 200 experts from 10 countries.

A team of 20 climate and cloud experts from the UK's National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) are taking part in the expedition, which will be based in Chile. Hugh Coe, the lead scientist for the British consortium, said the project would help improve the accuracy of climate change models.

http://snipurl.com/4mobm 


Creationists Declare War Over the Brain
from New Scientist

"You cannot overestimate," thundered psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, "how threatened the scientific establishment is by the fact that it now looks like the materialist paradigm is genuinely breaking down. You're gonna hear a lot in the next calendar year about ... how Darwin's explanation of how human intelligence arose is the only scientific way of doing it ... Materialism needs to start fading away and non-materialist causation needs to be understood as part of natural reality."

His enthusiasm was met with much applause from the audience gathered at the UN's east Manhattan conference hall on 11 September for an international symposium called Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness.

Earlier Mario Beauregard, ... co-author of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul, told the audience that the "battle" between "maverick" scientists like himself and those who "believe the mind is what the  brain does" is a "cultural war."

http://snipurl.com/4lxoj


New Critter Webcam: Hot Undersea Action!
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Armchair adventurers with high-speed Internet have a new window into the natural world. National Geographic has added an underwater WildCam to its portfolio  that includes Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana and others that allow viewers to watch the activities of grizzlies, polar bears and other charismatic 
megafauna.

The new camera pans the undersea world 66 feet below the surface at Glover's Reef, a World Heritage Site on the barrier reef off the Central American country of Belize. Think of it as one of those video fish tanks, but the fish are real.

Web watchers can see wild marine life swim past in real time—at least during daylight hours. The reef has crystal-clear waters, colorful reef fish and the hypnotic sashaying of sea fans and soft corals.

http://snipurl.com/4nt3r


Britain to Allow Animal-Human Hybrid Embryos for Research
from the Seattle Times

LONDON (Associated Press)—British plans to allow scientists to use hybrid animal-human embryos for stem-cell research won final approval from lawmakers Wednesday in a sweeping overhaul of sensitive science laws.

The House of Commons also clarified laws that allow the screening of embryos to produce babies with suitable bone marrow or other material for transplant to sick siblings. It was the first review of embryo science in Britain in almost 20 years.

The legislators voted 355-129 to authorize the proposals after months of sometimes bitter debate that has pitted Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government and scientists against religious leaders, anti-abortion campaigners and others anxious about medical advances.

http://snipurl.com/4n4c8


Hubble Back to Work This Weekend, NASA Says
from National Geographic News

The Hubble Space Telescope could resume scientific observations as early as this weekend, NASA officials said Thursday.

The 18-year-old spacecraft has not gathered data since September 27, when its data formatter, which sends information back to Earth, stopped working.

Last week NASA engineers put several key Hubble computers and all of its scientific instruments into safe mode so the team could switch to a backup formatter. Although the data formatter turned on, it mysteriously reset after a matter of hours, as did a backup computer used to manage Hubble's suite of cameras and other instruments.

http://snipurl.com/4nq68

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 11:41:11 am
And this, because it has great implications to biologists.

DNA Barcoding All Our Flora and Fauna
from the Telegraph (UK)

Imagine going for a walk and spotting a wild flower. Its beauty and fragrance delight you but the name eludes you. No problem. You whip out a hand-held scanner, about the size of a mobile phone, and pop a fragment of a leaf into the device. A few seconds, and the read-out tells you that you're looking at a pyramidal orchid. Satisfied, you continue on your way.

Sound far-fetched? Not at all. Scientists are currently gathering a DNA barcode for every species of plant and animal on the planet. It won't be long before everyone, from experts to amateurs, will be able to scan the world's flora and fauna as if they were checking out groceries at a supermarket, to look up or confirm their identities.

There are numerous practical uses, too. Such a device would let you scan fish at the fishmonger's to check if it's been labelled properly, work out exactly what is in your mixed vegetable soup, and confirm whether a piece of furniture really has come from a renewable forest, as the retailer claims.

http://snipurl.com/4kigk

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 11:44:44 am
October 21, 2008

Virtual Fossils from 425 Million-year-old Volcanic Ash
from American Scientist

What is a fossil? This word can mean many things, but it usually refers to the mineralized skeleton of some extinct organism—a trilobite or dinosaur, for example—which resists degradation and thus survives the eons largely intact. The fossil record of such hard parts, however, captures only a minority of invertebrates, because up to two-thirds of these species are soft-bodied—they have no shells at all.

Fortunately, circumstances occasionally conspire to preserve evidence of these creatures. In an American Scientist article, a research team relates such an example, one that reveals an amazing amount of detail about animals that lived during the Silurian Period.

... More than a decade ago, they found a diverse, well-preserved assemblage of largely soft-bodied fossils from the Silurian Period in Herefordshire, England. Because they are from a typical marine setting, these remarkable fossils provide important insights into the early evolution of life in the ocean.

http://snipurl.com/4ja6p


Space Probe Is On Its Way
from the San Antonio Express-News

A new space probe from San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute left Earth with a flawless launch Sunday to begin a two-year mission that will chart the boundaries of the solar system.

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer soared into space aboard an Orbital Space Sciences Pegasus rocket that fired as planned at 12:48 p.m. CDT, moments after dropping from the belly of a modified airliner that flew across the South Pacific near Kwajalein Atoll.

... The institute's Dave McComas is the lead scientist on the $169 million NASA-funded probe, which is the first to focus on the heliosphere, a protective balloon that the hot solar wind inflates around the solar system, protecting it from the dangerous radiation in the galaxy beyond. IBEX will study the distant region where the solar wind collides with the cold space of the interstellar medium.

http://snipurl.com/4j6dn


Personalized Cancer Treatment Offers New Range of Options
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The one thing Kevin Carlberg refused to face after his diagnosis with brain cancer in 2002 was anyone's estimate for how long he might live. His doctors and his family all knew the number: six to 18 months.

"I understand the averages," says Carlberg, a rock musician who had just released a CD and was two months from his wedding date when he was told he had the worst stage of the worst kind of brain cancer, glioblastoma. "But every person is different."

Those words could serve as the new mantra in medicine. After having his tumor removed and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, he received a novel treatment that was designed using his own white blood cells and proteins taken from his tumor to prod his immune system into recognizing and attacking more cancer in his body. It's an example of a growing healthcare strategy known as personalized medicine.

http://snipurl.com/4jcfg 


Geoengineering: How to Cool Earth—At a Price
from Scientific American

When David W. Keith, a physicist and energy expert at the University of Calgary in Alberta, gives lectures these days on geoengineering, he likes to point out how old the idea is. People have been talking about deliberately altering climate to counter global warming, he says, for as long as they have been worrying about global warming itself.

As early as 1965, when Al Gore was a freshman in college, a panel of distinguished environmental scientists warned President Lyndon B. Johnson that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels might cause "marked changes in climate" that "could be deleterious." Yet the scientists did not so much as mention the possibility of reducing emissions.

Instead they considered one idea: "spreading very small reflective particles" over about five million square miles of ocean, so as to bounce about 1 percent more sunlight back to space—"a wacky geoengineering solution," Keith says, "that doesn't even work." In the decades since, geoengineering ideas never died, but they did get pushed to the fringe ... Three recent developments have brought them back into the mainstream.

http://snipurl.com/4j8y2


Molecules That Matter
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

"Molecules That Matter," a traveling exhibit that opened to the public at the newly renovated Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia earlier this month, ties the history of the 20th century to a handful of the most influential molecules of the period.

The goal of the exhibit is simple: to help the public, who typically cringes at memories from high school chemistry classes, to connect chemical discoveries to the products they use everyday.

And connect it does. Brightly colored models of penicillin G, DDT, and Prozac molecules ... hover above visitors from the exhibit ceiling. Contemporary art and artifacts—including marble sculptures of genetically-modified rats and a 1960 magazine cover addressing the controversy surrounding "the pill"—mingle in the museum. A display case of consumer products born out of the 20th century chemical discoveries, like Tupperware and pantyhose, allows visitors to follow a timeline of chemistry's rise to popular prominence.

http://snipurl.com/4j9co


Fatty Acids Clue to Alzheimer's
from BBC News Online

Controlling the level of a fatty acid in the brain could help treat Alzheimer's disease, an American study has suggested.

Tests on mice showed that reducing excess levels of the acid lessened animals' memory problems and behavioural changes. Writing in Nature Neuroscience, the team said fatty acid levels could be controlled through diet or drugs.

A UK Alzheimer's expert called the work "robust and exciting." ... Scientists from Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and the University of California looked at fatty acids in the brains of normal mice and compared them with those in mice genetically engineered to have an Alzheimer's-like condition. They identified raised levels of a fatty acid called arachidonic acid in the brains of the Alzheimer's mice.

http://snipurl.com/4j9hz


Migrating Pollock Could Lead to a New Dispute with Russia
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA—America's biggest catch lands here and at nearby ports every year: more than 2 billion pounds of Alaskan pollock to feed a global appetite for fish sticks, fast-food sandwiches and imitation crabmeat.

The tightly managed Alaskan pollock fishery has been a rare success story in the U.S., which has seen the collapse of species such as New England cod and now imports 80% of its seafood.

Yet the careful management that helped make Alaskan pollock a billion-dollar industry could unravel as the planet warms. Pollock and other fish in the Bering Sea are moving to higher latitudes as winter ice retreats and water temperatures rise. Alaskan pollock are becoming Russian pollock, swimming across an international boundary in search of food and setting off what could become a geopolitical dispute.

http://snipurl.com/4jcku 


Risk of Disease Rises With Water Temperatures
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

When a 1991 cholera outbreak that killed thousands in Peru was traced to plankton blooms fueled by warmer-than-usual coastal waters, linking disease outbreaks to epidemics was a new idea.

Now, scientists say, it is a near-certainty that global warming will drive significant increases in waterborne diseases around the world.

Rainfalls will be heavier, triggering sewage overflows, contaminating drinking water and endangering beachgoers. Higher lake and ocean temperatures will cause bacteria, parasites and algal blooms to flourish. Warmer weather and heavier rains also will mean more mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile virus, malaria and dengue fever. Fresh produce and shellfish are more likely to become contaminated.

http://snipurl.com/4kaop


Rock Records Dino 'Dance Floor'
from BBC News Online

Scientists have identified an amazing collection of dinosaur footprints on the Arizona-Utah border in the US. There are so many prints—more than 1,000—that geologists have dubbed the site "a dinosaur dance floor."

Located within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the marks were long thought simply to be potholes gouged out of the rock by years of erosion. A paper describing the 190-million-year-old footprints is published in the palaeontology journal Palaios.

"Get out there and try stepping in their footsteps, and you feel like you are playing the game 'Dance Dance Revolution' that teenagers dance on," says Professor Marjorie Chan from the University of Utah.

http://snipurl.com/4kb4g   


A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 11:47:26 am
October 21, 2008

Virtual Fossils from 425 Million-year-old Volcanic Ash
from American Scientist

What is a fossil? This word can mean many things, but it usually refers to the mineralized skeleton of some extinct organism—a trilobite or dinosaur, for example—which resists degradation and thus survives the eons largely intact. The fossil record of such hard parts, however, captures only a minority of invertebrates, because up to two-thirds of these species are soft-bodied—they have no shells at all.

Fortunately, circumstances occasionally conspire to preserve evidence of these creatures. In an American Scientist article, a research team relates such an example, one that reveals an amazing amount of detail about animals that lived during the Silurian Period.

... More than a decade ago, they found a diverse, well-preserved assemblage of largely soft-bodied fossils from the Silurian Period in Herefordshire, England. Because they are from a typical marine setting, these remarkable fossils provide important insights into the early evolution of life in the ocean.

http://snipurl.com/4ja6p


Space Probe Is On Its Way
from the San Antonio Express-News

A new space probe from San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute left Earth with a flawless launch Sunday to begin a two-year mission that will chart the boundaries of the solar system.

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer soared into space aboard an Orbital Space Sciences Pegasus rocket that fired as planned at 12:48 p.m. CDT, moments after dropping from the belly of a modified airliner that flew across the South Pacific near Kwajalein Atoll.

... The institute's Dave McComas is the lead scientist on the $169 million NASA-funded probe, which is the first to focus on the heliosphere, a protective balloon that the hot solar wind inflates around the solar system, protecting it from the dangerous radiation in the galaxy beyond. IBEX will study the distant region where the solar wind collides with the cold space of the interstellar medium.

http://snipurl.com/4j6dn


Personalized Cancer Treatment Offers New Range of Options
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The one thing Kevin Carlberg refused to face after his diagnosis with brain cancer in 2002 was anyone's estimate for how long he might live. His doctors and his family all knew the number: six to 18 months.

"I understand the averages," says Carlberg, a rock musician who had just released a CD and was two months from his wedding date when he was told he had the worst stage of the worst kind of brain cancer, glioblastoma. "But every person is different."

Those words could serve as the new mantra in medicine. After having his tumor removed and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, he received a novel treatment that was designed using his own white blood cells and proteins taken from his tumor to prod his immune system into recognizing and attacking more cancer in his body. It's an example of a growing healthcare strategy known as personalized medicine.

http://snipurl.com/4jcfg 


Geoengineering: How to Cool Earth—At a Price
from Scientific American

When David W. Keith, a physicist and energy expert at the University of Calgary in Alberta, gives lectures these days on geoengineering, he likes to point out how old the idea is. People have been talking about deliberately altering climate to counter global warming, he says, for as long as they have been worrying about global warming itself.

As early as 1965, when Al Gore was a freshman in college, a panel of distinguished environmental scientists warned President Lyndon B. Johnson that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels might cause "marked changes in climate" that "could be deleterious." Yet the scientists did not so much as mention the possibility of reducing emissions.

Instead they considered one idea: "spreading very small reflective particles" over about five million square miles of ocean, so as to bounce about 1 percent more sunlight back to space—"a wacky geoengineering solution," Keith says, "that doesn't even work." In the decades since, geoengineering ideas never died, but they did get pushed to the fringe ... Three recent developments have brought them back into the mainstream.

http://snipurl.com/4j8y2


Molecules That Matter
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

"Molecules That Matter," a traveling exhibit that opened to the public at the newly renovated Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia earlier this month, ties the history of the 20th century to a handful of the most influential molecules of the period.

The goal of the exhibit is simple: to help the public, who typically cringes at memories from high school chemistry classes, to connect chemical discoveries to the products they use everyday.

And connect it does. Brightly colored models of penicillin G, DDT, and Prozac molecules ... hover above visitors from the exhibit ceiling. Contemporary art and artifacts—including marble sculptures of genetically-modified rats and a 1960 magazine cover addressing the controversy surrounding "the pill"—mingle in the museum. A display case of consumer products born out of the 20th century chemical discoveries, like Tupperware and pantyhose, allows visitors to follow a timeline of chemistry's rise to popular prominence.

http://snipurl.com/4j9co


Fatty Acids Clue to Alzheimer's
from BBC News Online

Controlling the level of a fatty acid in the brain could help treat Alzheimer's disease, an American study has suggested.

Tests on mice showed that reducing excess levels of the acid lessened animals' memory problems and behavioural changes. Writing in Nature Neuroscience, the team said fatty acid levels could be controlled through diet or drugs.

A UK Alzheimer's expert called the work "robust and exciting." ... Scientists from Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and the University of California looked at fatty acids in the brains of normal mice and compared them with those in mice genetically engineered to have an Alzheimer's-like condition. They identified raised levels of a fatty acid called arachidonic acid in the brains of the Alzheimer's mice.

http://snipurl.com/4j9hz


Migrating Pollock Could Lead to a New Dispute with Russia
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA—America's biggest catch lands here and at nearby ports every year: more than 2 billion pounds of Alaskan pollock to feed a global appetite for fish sticks, fast-food sandwiches and imitation crabmeat.

The tightly managed Alaskan pollock fishery has been a rare success story in the U.S., which has seen the collapse of species such as New England cod and now imports 80% of its seafood.

Yet the careful management that helped make Alaskan pollock a billion-dollar industry could unravel as the planet warms. Pollock and other fish in the Bering Sea are moving to higher latitudes as winter ice retreats and water temperatures rise. Alaskan pollock are becoming Russian pollock, swimming across an international boundary in search of food and setting off what could become a geopolitical dispute.

http://snipurl.com/4jcku 


Risk of Disease Rises With Water Temperatures
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

When a 1991 cholera outbreak that killed thousands in Peru was traced to plankton blooms fueled by warmer-than-usual coastal waters, linking disease outbreaks to epidemics was a new idea.

Now, scientists say, it is a near-certainty that global warming will drive significant increases in waterborne diseases around the world.

Rainfalls will be heavier, triggering sewage overflows, contaminating drinking water and endangering beachgoers. Higher lake and ocean temperatures will cause bacteria, parasites and algal blooms to flourish. Warmer weather and heavier rains also will mean more mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile virus, malaria and dengue fever. Fresh produce and shellfish are more likely to become contaminated.

http://snipurl.com/4kaop


Rock Records Dino 'Dance Floor'
from BBC News Online

Scientists have identified an amazing collection of dinosaur footprints on the Arizona-Utah border in the US. There are so many prints—more than 1,000—that geologists have dubbed the site "a dinosaur dance floor."

Located within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the marks were long thought simply to be potholes gouged out of the rock by years of erosion. A paper describing the 190-million-year-old footprints is published in the palaeontology journal Palaios.

"Get out there and try stepping in their footsteps, and you feel like you are playing the game 'Dance Dance Revolution' that teenagers dance on," says Professor Marjorie Chan from the University of Utah.

http://snipurl.com/4kb4g   


A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 11:49:22 am
October 21, 2008

Virtual Fossils from 425 Million-year-old Volcanic Ash
from American Scientist

What is a fossil? This word can mean many things, but it usually refers to the mineralized skeleton of some extinct organism—a trilobite or dinosaur, for example—which resists degradation and thus survives the eons largely intact. The fossil record of such hard parts, however, captures only a minority of invertebrates, because up to two-thirds of these species are soft-bodied—they have no shells at all.

Fortunately, circumstances occasionally conspire to preserve evidence of these creatures. In an American Scientist article, a research team relates such an example, one that reveals an amazing amount of detail about animals that lived during the Silurian Period.

... More than a decade ago, they found a diverse, well-preserved assemblage of largely soft-bodied fossils from the Silurian Period in Herefordshire, England. Because they are from a typical marine setting, these remarkable fossils provide important insights into the early evolution of life in the ocean.

http://snipurl.com/4ja6p


Space Probe Is On Its Way
from the San Antonio Express-News

A new space probe from San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute left Earth with a flawless launch Sunday to begin a two-year mission that will chart the boundaries of the solar system.

The Interstellar Boundary Explorer soared into space aboard an Orbital Space Sciences Pegasus rocket that fired as planned at 12:48 p.m. CDT, moments after dropping from the belly of a modified airliner that flew across the South Pacific near Kwajalein Atoll.

... The institute's Dave McComas is the lead scientist on the $169 million NASA-funded probe, which is the first to focus on the heliosphere, a protective balloon that the hot solar wind inflates around the solar system, protecting it from the dangerous radiation in the galaxy beyond. IBEX will study the distant region where the solar wind collides with the cold space of the interstellar medium.

http://snipurl.com/4j6dn


Personalized Cancer Treatment Offers New Range of Options
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The one thing Kevin Carlberg refused to face after his diagnosis with brain cancer in 2002 was anyone's estimate for how long he might live. His doctors and his family all knew the number: six to 18 months.

"I understand the averages," says Carlberg, a rock musician who had just released a CD and was two months from his wedding date when he was told he had the worst stage of the worst kind of brain cancer, glioblastoma. "But every person is different."

Those words could serve as the new mantra in medicine. After having his tumor removed and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, he received a novel treatment that was designed using his own white blood cells and proteins taken from his tumor to prod his immune system into recognizing and attacking more cancer in his body. It's an example of a growing healthcare strategy known as personalized medicine.

http://snipurl.com/4jcfg 


Geoengineering: How to Cool Earth—At a Price
from Scientific American

When David W. Keith, a physicist and energy expert at the University of Calgary in Alberta, gives lectures these days on geoengineering, he likes to point out how old the idea is. People have been talking about deliberately altering climate to counter global warming, he says, for as long as they have been worrying about global warming itself.

As early as 1965, when Al Gore was a freshman in college, a panel of distinguished environmental scientists warned President Lyndon B. Johnson that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels might cause "marked changes in climate" that "could be deleterious." Yet the scientists did not so much as mention the possibility of reducing emissions.

Instead they considered one idea: "spreading very small reflective particles" over about five million square miles of ocean, so as to bounce about 1 percent more sunlight back to space—"a wacky geoengineering solution," Keith says, "that doesn't even work." In the decades since, geoengineering ideas never died, but they did get pushed to the fringe ... Three recent developments have brought them back into the mainstream.

http://snipurl.com/4j8y2


Molecules That Matter
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

"Molecules That Matter," a traveling exhibit that opened to the public at the newly renovated Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia earlier this month, ties the history of the 20th century to a handful of the most influential molecules of the period.

The goal of the exhibit is simple: to help the public, who typically cringes at memories from high school chemistry classes, to connect chemical discoveries to the products they use everyday.

And connect it does. Brightly colored models of penicillin G, DDT, and Prozac molecules ... hover above visitors from the exhibit ceiling. Contemporary art and artifacts—including marble sculptures of genetically-modified rats and a 1960 magazine cover addressing the controversy surrounding "the pill"—mingle in the museum. A display case of consumer products born out of the 20th century chemical discoveries, like Tupperware and pantyhose, allows visitors to follow a timeline of chemistry's rise to popular prominence.

http://snipurl.com/4j9co


Fatty Acids Clue to Alzheimer's
from BBC News Online

Controlling the level of a fatty acid in the brain could help treat Alzheimer's disease, an American study has suggested.

Tests on mice showed that reducing excess levels of the acid lessened animals' memory problems and behavioural changes. Writing in Nature Neuroscience, the team said fatty acid levels could be controlled through diet or drugs.

A UK Alzheimer's expert called the work "robust and exciting." ... Scientists from Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and the University of California looked at fatty acids in the brains of normal mice and compared them with those in mice genetically engineered to have an Alzheimer's-like condition. They identified raised levels of a fatty acid called arachidonic acid in the brains of the Alzheimer's mice.

http://snipurl.com/4j9hz


Migrating Pollock Could Lead to a New Dispute with Russia
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA—America's biggest catch lands here and at nearby ports every year: more than 2 billion pounds of Alaskan pollock to feed a global appetite for fish sticks, fast-food sandwiches and imitation crabmeat.

The tightly managed Alaskan pollock fishery has been a rare success story in the U.S., which has seen the collapse of species such as New England cod and now imports 80% of its seafood.

Yet the careful management that helped make Alaskan pollock a billion-dollar industry could unravel as the planet warms. Pollock and other fish in the Bering Sea are moving to higher latitudes as winter ice retreats and water temperatures rise. Alaskan pollock are becoming Russian pollock, swimming across an international boundary in search of food and setting off what could become a geopolitical dispute.

http://snipurl.com/4jcku 


Risk of Disease Rises With Water Temperatures
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

When a 1991 cholera outbreak that killed thousands in Peru was traced to plankton blooms fueled by warmer-than-usual coastal waters, linking disease outbreaks to epidemics was a new idea.

Now, scientists say, it is a near-certainty that global warming will drive significant increases in waterborne diseases around the world.

Rainfalls will be heavier, triggering sewage overflows, contaminating drinking water and endangering beachgoers. Higher lake and ocean temperatures will cause bacteria, parasites and algal blooms to flourish. Warmer weather and heavier rains also will mean more mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile virus, malaria and dengue fever. Fresh produce and shellfish are more likely to become contaminated.

http://snipurl.com/4kaop


Rock Records Dino 'Dance Floor'
from BBC News Online

Scientists have identified an amazing collection of dinosaur footprints on the Arizona-Utah border in the US. There are so many prints—more than 1,000—that geologists have dubbed the site "a dinosaur dance floor."

Located within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the marks were long thought simply to be potholes gouged out of the rock by years of erosion. A paper describing the 190-million-year-old footprints is published in the palaeontology journal Palaios.

"Get out there and try stepping in their footsteps, and you feel like you are playing the game 'Dance Dance Revolution' that teenagers dance on," says Professor Marjorie Chan from the University of Utah.

http://snipurl.com/4kb4g   


A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Eve on October 27, 2008, 01:40:54 pm
A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4



 :x
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on October 27, 2008, 02:58:26 pm
Creationists Declare War Over the Brain
from New Scientist

"You cannot overestimate," thundered psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, "how threatened the scientific establishment is by the fact that it now looks like the materialist paradigm is genuinely breaking down. You're gonna hear a lot in the next calendar year about ... how Darwin's explanation of how human intelligence arose is the only scientific way of doing it ... Materialism needs to start fading away and non-materialist causation needs to be understood as part of natural reality."

His enthusiasm was met with much applause from the audience gathered at the UN's east Manhattan conference hall on 11 September for an international symposium called Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness.

Earlier Mario Beauregard, ... co-author of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul, told the audience that the "battle" between "maverick" scientists like himself and those who "believe the mind is what the  brain does" is a "cultural war."

http://snipurl.com/4lxoj
:cramstipated:
I really shouldn't have read some of the comments.  Surprise, surprise an IDiot found this.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 27, 2008, 03:55:28 pm

Flying Syringes and Other Bold Ideas
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

BANGKOK, Oct. 22—The charitable foundation founded by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates has awarded 104 grants, each for $100,000, in a bid to inject entrepreneurial boldness and risk-taking into the often staid world of medical research.

Announced in Bangkok, the grants are the first stage of a $100 million, five-year project the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hopes will encourage research into innovative medical ideas that it feels now have little chance of development, largely because of how funding is distributed.

In making its picks, the foundation has rejected the widespread practice of peer review—assigning other specialists in a field to evaluate research—because, in the words of Tadataka Yamada, the foundation's director of global health, "peer review—by definition almost—excludes innovation because innovation has no peers."


http://snipurl.com/4n37g

:facepalm: 

I hope they are prepared to deal with all the woo-woo that is going to be thrown their way.


Quote
Creationists Declare War Over the Brain
from New Scientist

"You cannot overestimate," thundered psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, "how threatened the scientific establishment is by the fact that it now looks like the materialist paradigm is genuinely breaking down. You're gonna hear a lot in the next calendar year about ... how Darwin's explanation of how human intelligence arose is the only scientific way of doing it ... Materialism needs to start fading away and non-materialist causation needs to be understood as part of natural reality."

His enthusiasm was met with much applause from the audience gathered at the UN's east Manhattan conference hall on 11 September for an international symposium called Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness.

Earlier Mario Beauregard, ... co-author of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul, told the audience that the "battle" between "maverick" scientists like himself and those who "believe the mind is what the  brain does" is a "cultural war."

http://snipurl.com/4lxoj
I'm seriously beginning to think that there is not a single science that these guys will accept. They won't be happy until all of modern science is dead.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 27, 2008, 04:03:55 pm
Molecules That Matter
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

"Molecules That Matter," a traveling exhibit that opened to the public at the newly renovated Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia earlier this month, ties the history of the 20th century to a handful of the most influential molecules of the period.

The goal of the exhibit is simple: to help the public, who typically cringes at memories from high school chemistry classes, to connect chemical discoveries to the products they use everyday.

And connect it does. Brightly colored models of penicillin G, DDT, and Prozac molecules ... hover above visitors from the exhibit ceiling. Contemporary art and artifacts—including marble sculptures of genetically-modified rats and a 1960 magazine cover addressing the controversy surrounding "the pill"—mingle in the museum. A display case of consumer products born out of the 20th century chemical discoveries, like Tupperware and pantyhose, allows visitors to follow a timeline of chemistry's rise to popular prominence.

http://snipurl.com/4j9co
:fap: I really hope this makes its way to somewhere in the Midwest because I would love to see it.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 04:07:30 pm
A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4



 :x

You haven't heard of traumatic insemination yet, have you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traumatic_insemination

Read, read the references, enjoy.  :evil:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 04:10:40 pm

Flying Syringes and Other Bold Ideas
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

BANGKOK, Oct. 22—The charitable foundation founded by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates has awarded 104 grants, each for $100,000, in a bid to inject entrepreneurial boldness and risk-taking into the often staid world of medical research.

Announced in Bangkok, the grants are the first stage of a $100 million, five-year project the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hopes will encourage research into innovative medical ideas that it feels now have little chance of development, largely because of how funding is distributed.

In making its picks, the foundation has rejected the widespread practice of peer review—assigning other specialists in a field to evaluate research—because, in the words of Tadataka Yamada, the foundation's director of global health, "peer review—by definition almost—excludes innovation because innovation has no peers."


http://snipurl.com/4n37g

:facepalm: 

I hope they are prepared to deal with all the woo-woo that is going to be thrown their way.

I know, I read that and thought WTF FFS.  :roll: Peer review is the reason our scientific journals are not full of bullshit.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Eve on October 27, 2008, 04:43:08 pm
A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4



 :x

You haven't heard of traumatic insemination yet, have you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traumatic_insemination

Read, read the references, enjoy.  :evil:

:weary: Should not have read that right before making lunch.

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on October 27, 2008, 05:18:14 pm
A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4



 :x

You haven't heard of traumatic insemination yet, have you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traumatic_insemination

Read, read the references, enjoy.  :evil:
It's not any worse than rape flight in mallards. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard)
"When they pair off with mating partners, often one or several drakes will end up "left out". This group will sometimes target an isolated female duck — chasing, pestering and pecking at her until she weakens (a phenomenon referred to by researchers as rape flight), at which point each male will take turns copulating with the female. Male Mallards will also occasionally chase other males in the same way. (In one documented case, a male Mallard copulated with another male he was chasing after it had been killed when it flew into a glass window.)"
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on October 27, 2008, 05:21:40 pm
This is great material for when you get all those "nature is the perfect template for human behavior" hippies and wiccans.

"So, I can gang rape you?  Hey, mallards do it..."
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 27, 2008, 09:35:10 pm
A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4



 :x

You haven't heard of traumatic insemination yet, have you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traumatic_insemination

Read, read the references, enjoy.  :evil:
It's not any worse than rape flight in mallards. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard)
"When they pair off with mating partners, often one or several drakes will end up "left out". This group will sometimes target an isolated female duck — chasing, pestering and pecking at her until she weakens (a phenomenon referred to by researchers as rape flight), at which point each male will take turns copulating with the female. Male Mallards will also occasionally chase other males in the same way. (In one documented case, a male Mallard copulated with another male he was chasing after it had been killed when it flew into a glass window.)"

No, see, thats similar to gang rape. Traumatic insemination is similar to someone jamming a knife into the abdomen of a female bodied person, cutting into their uterus, and then penetrating in with your penis.

Bedbugs are insect gore.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on October 27, 2008, 10:23:44 pm
Good point Kai.  I just like pointing out fucked up shit in nature.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on October 28, 2008, 03:47:50 pm
A Taste for Blood
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

With his soft voice and friar's manner, Louis Sorkin hardly seems the type to flout the sensible advice of a nursery rhyme. Yet on a recent afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Sorkin, a renowned entomologist, did precisely, luridly that.

He took a glass jar swarming with thousands of hungry specimens of Cimex lectularius, better known as bedbugs. The small, roachy-looking bloodsuckers have been spreading through the nation's homes and hotels at such a hyperventilated pace that by next year they are expected to displace cockroaches and termites as America's leading domestic pest insect. To better understand their habits, Mr. Sorkin has cultivated a personal bedbug colony—very personal.

... Mr. Sorkin and his bedbugs are featured in the newly published "Dark Banquet," a jaunty, instructive and charmingly graphic look at nature's born phlebotomists—creatures from wildly different twigs of the phylogenetic tree that all happen to share a fondness for blood.

http://snipurl.com/4kar4



 :x

You haven't heard of traumatic insemination yet, have you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traumatic_insemination

Read, read the references, enjoy.  :evil:
It's not any worse than rape flight in mallards. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard)
"When they pair off with mating partners, often one or several drakes will end up "left out". This group will sometimes target an isolated female duck — chasing, pestering and pecking at her until she weakens (a phenomenon referred to by researchers as rape flight), at which point each male will take turns copulating with the female. Male Mallards will also occasionally chase other males in the same way. (In one documented case, a male Mallard copulated with another male he was chasing after it had been killed when it flew into a glass window.)"

No, see, thats similar to gang rape. Traumatic insemination is similar to someone jamming a knife into the abdomen of a female bodied person, cutting into their uterus, and then penetrating in with your penis.

Bedbugs are insect gore.

:lmnuendo:


I think I just came up with another HP slashfic story...
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 28, 2008, 03:49:46 pm
 :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :lulz: :argh!:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 29, 2008, 01:52:43 am
October 27, 2008

Half of Doctors Routinely Prescribe Placebos
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Half of all American doctors responding to a nationwide survey say they regularly prescribe placebos to patients. The results trouble medical ethicists, who say more research is needed to determine whether doctors must deceive patients in order for placebos to work.

The study involved 679 internists and rheumatologists chosen randomly from a national list of such doctors. In response to three questions included as part of the larger survey, about half reported recommending placebos regularly. Surveys in Denmark, Israel, Britain, Sweden and New Zealand have found similar results.

The most common placebos the American doctors reported using were headache pills and vitamins, but a significant number also reported prescribing antibiotics and sedatives.

http://snipurl.com/4poxu


Supersonic Car Targets 1,000 mph
from BBC News Online

The British team that claimed the land speed record in 1997, taking a car through the sound barrier for the first time, is planning to go even faster. RAF pilot Andy Green made history in 1997 when he drove the Thrust SSC jet-powered vehicle at 763mph (1,228km/h).

Now he intends to get behind the wheel of a car that is capable of reaching 1,000mph (1,610km/h). Known as Bloodhound, the new car will be powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine.

The team-members have been working on the concept for the past 18 months and expect to be ready to make their new record attempt in 2011.

http://snipurl.com/4n4hv


Watching Yellowstone's Wolves
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

... Yellowstone rangers say this is the best place on Earth to watch wolves in the wild. But 13 years after being reintroduced to Yellowstone, they remain polarizing animals, generating endless controversy and furious litigation.

On Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took steps to revive a 2007 proposal to remove the gray wolf of the northern Rockies from the Endangered Species List. Environmentalists howled, calling it a last-gasp effort by the Bush administration to delist wolves.

The Fish and Wildlife Service had officially delisted the wolves in March, and afterward wildlife officials in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana developed management plans that included hunting seasons. In Wyoming, anyone could shoot a wolf at any time in most of the state.

http://snipurl.com/4pqiu


Congress Questions FDA Objectivity on BPA
from USA Today

Congress is stepping in to ask questions about chemical industry influence in drafting a Food and Drug Administration report about the safety of a controversial chemical in baby bottles.

In August, the FDA declared the chemical, bisphenol A, or BPA, safe, a determination greeted skeptically by consumer groups who argue that hundreds of scientific studies suggest it may cause serious harm.

According to a letter to the FDA from Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak sent last week, the FDA hired a private consulting group with strong industry ties to perform some of its analyses of BPA.

http://snipurl.com/4pqmi


Two Greenhouse Gases on the Rise Worry Scientists
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—Carbon dioxide isn't the only greenhouse gas that worries climate scientists. Airborne levels of two other potent gases—one from ancient plants, the other from flat-panel screen technology—are on the rise, too. And that's got scientists concerned about accelerated global warming.

The gases are methane and nitrogen trifluoride. Both pale in comparison to the global warming effects of carbon dioxide, produced by the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels. In the past couple of years, however, these other two gases have been on the rise, according to two new studies. The increase is not accounted for in predictions for future global warming and comes as a nasty surprise to climate watchers.

Methane is by far the bigger worry. It is considered the No. 2 greenhouse gas based on the amount of warming it causes and the amount in the atmosphere. The total effect of methane on global warming is about one-third that of man-made carbon dioxide.

http://snipurl.com/4qqrg 


The Barnyard Strategist
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

... Proposition 2 [in California], co-sponsored by the Humane Society and Farm Sanctuary, the biggest farm-animal-rights group in the United States, focuses on what are considered the worst animal-confinement systems in factory farms.

The ballot initiative, which [California] voters will decide on Nov. 4, requires that by 2015 farm animals be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. In effect that translates into a ban on the two-foot-wide crates that tightly confine pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal—a space so small that they can't turn around.

... Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and a leading figure in the animal rights movement, compares Proposition 2 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, calling Proposition 2 the "other historic ballot this November." If it passes, it would affect more animals—almost 20 million—than any ballot measure has in U.S. history.

http://snipurl.com/4pp2e


Vaccine Reduces Diarrheal Illness in Infants
from the Dallas Morning News (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—A vaccine against rotavirus, the leading cause of diarrhea in infants, has led to a dramatic drop in hospitalization and emergency room visits since it came on the market two years ago, doctors reported Saturday.

A bonus: the vaccine seems to be preventing illness even in unvaccinated children by cutting the number of infections in the community that kids can pick up and spread. ... Results were reported Saturday at an infectious diseases conference in Washington.

Before the vaccine, more than 200,000 U.S. children were taken to emergency rooms and more than 55,000 were hospitalized each year with rotavirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, mostly from January through May. Worldwide, the virus kills 1,600 young children each day.

http://snipurl.com/4pr4b


New Moon Rover Mixes Old-School Smarts With Latest Tech
from National Geographic News

With six-wheel drive, active suspension, and computerized navigation, a new battery-powered truck being field tested this week in Arizona sounds like the next generation of sport-utility vehicles.

But when the final model rolls out in 2019, only an exclusive group of highly trained professionals will get to drive it—the next astronauts to land on the moon.

The new lunar rover, informally known as the Chariot, is a prototype being developed as part of NASA's Constellation program, which aims to put people back on the moon by 2020. The current version combines 35 years of technological advances with lessons learned from the original "moon buggies" used during the Apollo missions of the 1970s.

http://snipurl.com/4prc4


Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death
from Scientific American

... After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical body. And the mind is what the brain does—it's more a verb than it is a noun. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn't it be obvious that the mind is dead, too?

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death.

... The common view of death as a great mystery usually is brushed aside as an emotionally fueled desire to believe that death isn't the end of the road. And indeed, a prominent school of research in social psychology called terror management theory contends that afterlife beliefs, as well as less obvious beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, exist to assuage what would otherwise be crippling anxiety about the ego's inexistence.

http://snipurl.com/4prhn


The Evidence Gap: Quickly Vetted, Treatment Is Offered to Patients
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

After a surgeon removed a cancerous lump from Karen Medlock's breast in November, he recommended radiation, a routine next step meant to keep cancer from recurring. But he did not send her for the kind of radiation most women have received for decades.

Instead, the surgeon referred her to a center in Oakland, Calif., specializing in a newer form of treatment where radioactive "seeds" are inserted in the tumor site. It could be completed in only five days instead of the six weeks typically required for conventional treatment, which irradiates the entire breast using external beams.

To Ms. Medlock, it seemed an obvious choice. The newer treatment—given through a system called MammoSite—has been performed on about 45,000 breast cancer patients in this country since the Food and Drug Administration cleared it for use in 2002. Only when Ms. Medlock, 49, sought a second opinion did she learn a startling truth: MammoSite is still highly experimental.

http://snipurl.com/4qqiu

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 29, 2008, 01:56:10 am
October 28, 2008

Seven of the Greatest Scientific Hoaxes
from New Scientist

For this week's issue, New Scientist includes a review of "The Sun and the Moon" by Matthew Goodman, which tells the story of the great moon hoax of 1835.

That got an editor there thinking about other great scientific hoaxes in the past. After doing a bit of digging, she was amazed by how many there were—and at the variety and creativity of the hoaxes. The result is a review of seven of the best.

Of course, there are serious cases of scientific fraud, such as the stem cell researchers recently found guilty of falsifying data and the South Korean cloning fraud. The stories included here, however, are not so serious.

http://snipurl.com/4r4qw


Quantum Chaos
from Scientific American

In 1917 Albert Einstein wrote a paper that was completely ignored for 40 years. In it he raised a question that physicists have only recently begun asking themselves: What would classical chaos, which lurks everywhere in our world, do to quantum mechanics, the theory describing the atomic and subatomic worlds?

The effects of classical chaos, of course, have long been observed—Kepler knew about the motion of the moon around the earth and Newton complained bitterly about the phenomenon. At the end of the 19th century the American astronomer William Hill demonstrated that the irregularity is the result entirely of the gravitational pull of the sun.

So thereafter, the great French mathematician-astronomer-physicist Henri Poincaré surmised that the moon's motion is only mild case of a congenital disease affecting nearly everything. In the long run, Poincaré realized, most dynamic systems show no discernible regularity or repetitive pattern. The behavior of even a simple system can depend so sensitively on its initial conditions that the final outcome is uncertain.

http://snipurl.com/4r4iq


Nearby Star System Looks a Little Like Home
from Science News

In the annals of planethood, astronomers consider the star Epsilon Eridani a member of the fabulous four. Along with Fomalhaut, Beta Pictoris and Vega, Epsilon Eridani is one of the first four stars scientists have found that has an icy ring of debris, an indication that the star has begun the process of forming planets.

Epsilon Eridani just got more fabulous: Researchers have discovered that the star, only 10.5 light-years from the sun, sports two inner asteroid belts in addition to the icy ring on the outskirts of the Epsilon Eridani system.

In both location and mass, Epsilon Eridani’s innermost asteroid belt is a virtual twin of the solar system’s asteroid belt. The second asteroid belt is farther out and about 20 times more massive than the solar system’s belt. This belt circles Epsilon Eridani at a distance roughly that at which Uranus orbits the sun.

http://snipurl.com/4r445


Baby Dinosaur Had Full-Grown Bite
from New Scientist

A rare baby dinosaur skull—only the size of a rat's head—confirms Heterodontosaurus as one of the most unusual of all dinosaurs.

The 45-millimetre skull has features characteristic of a juvenile—large "puppy dog" eye sockets, and a snub nose—but it also sports the meat-tearing canine teeth normally associated with adults. The fossil was newly identified after being examined in a South African museum.

Intriguingly, while it has canines at the front of the mouth, it also has molars behind—a pattern more often seen in mammals.

http://snipurl.com/4prl2


Trail of Odd Anthrax Cells Led FBI to Army Scientist
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

In late October 2001, lab technician Terry Abshire placed a tray of anthrax cells under a microscope and spotted something so peculiar she had to look twice. It was two weeks after the country's worst bioterrorism attack, and Abshire, like others at the Army's Fort Detrick biodefense lab, was caught up in a frenzied search for clues that could help lead to the culprit. Down the hall, Bruce E. Ivins, the respected vaccine specialist, was looking, too.

Abshire focused her lens on a moldlike clump. Anthrax bacteria were growing here, but some of the cells were odd: strange shapes, strange textures, strange colors. These were mutants, or "morphs," genetic deviants scattered among the ordinary anthrax cells like chocolate chips in a cookie batter.

Unknowingly, Abshire had discovered a key to solving the anthrax case. But it would take nearly six years to develop the technology to allow FBI investigators to use it. Ultimately the evolving science led investigators to Ivins and a strikingly original collection of anthrax spores that became the focus of the FBI's probe.

http://snipurl.com/4qqkx 


'New Prostate' Grown Inside Mouse
from BBC News Online

Scientists have grown new prostate glands in mice, in another advance for stem cell technology. The team from San Francisco were able to isolate single cells with the ability to generate an entire prostate.

The technique, reported in the journal Nature, could shed light on how prostate tumours develop. However, any thoughts it could lead to transplants in men who have had the gland removed to beat cancer have been played down.

... The US researchers were able to track down a type of stem cell which divides to form the different cell types in the gland. When these mouse stem cells were transplanted back into mice, they developed into entirely new glands.

http://snipurl.com/4pqrg


Salt and High Blood Pressure: New Concerns Raised
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Ah, salt. It gives personality to chips, balance to bread and flavor to scrambled eggs, guacamole, tomato sauce and just about everything else that comes in a can, jar or squeeze bottle. Salt is such a mealtime staple it can be hard to imagine life without a shaker on the table.

But as far back as the 1960s, physicians linked salt to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Today, more than 65 million Americans have hypertension—repeatedly high blood pressure—according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and 59 million more have pre-hypertension, a level higher than normal that can also lead to health problems.

... To help people do what they can't seem to do on their own, in the last few years a consumer advocacy group and several medical organizations and health experts have been pushing for legislation that would regulate sodium content in the foods we buy.

http://snipurl.com/4qw8o


Science Projects for the Real World
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

It's great to see young scientists and engineers setting their minds on assistive technologies. Rather than building war-fighting exoskeletons and ray guns, students at two Massachusetts schools are designing prototypes to help people navigate around their workplaces and neighborhoods.

Science students at Bromfield School in Harvard are crafting a "cane" that will alert its carrier to obstacles and drops more than 20 feet away. The cane might not be a cane at all, once it's completed. Sunglasses or a belt buckle embedded with lasers and other sensors are also possible.

The device will talk in one of two ways: either via a changing Braille interface, or with a computerized voice. It might be able to break in on your iTunes listening, to warn you that a subway staircase is ahead, for instance.

http://snipurl.com/4r51a


Ice Sheet Secrets Set to Be Seen
from BBC News Online

The secrets of the largest ice sheet on earth are to be revealed under plans to map the Antarctic landscape in detail for the first time.

A team including Edinburgh scientists is to travel across East Antarctica in a four-year project to explore the land hidden beneath the ice-covered region.

Radar instruments will be used to penetrate the ice, which is several kilometres thick. They hope to examine the composition and density of the underlying rock. The area covers an area that is half the size of the United States.

http://snipurl.com/4r555   


Thoreau Is Rediscovered as a Climatologist
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

CONCORD, Mass.—Henry David Thoreau endorsed civil disobedience, opposed slavery and lived for two years in a hut in the woods here, an experience he described in "Walden." Now he turns out to have another line in his résumé: climate researcher.

He did not realize it, of course. Thoreau died in 1862, when the industrial revolution was just beginning to pump climate-changing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In 1851, when he started recording when and where plants flowered in Concord, he was making notes for a book on the seasons.

Now, though, researchers at Boston University and Harvard are using those notes to discern patterns of plant abundance and decline in Concord—and by extension, New England—and to link those patterns to changing climate.

http://snipurl.com/4rw50

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 29, 2008, 04:03:45 am
October 27, 2008

Half of Doctors Routinely Prescribe Placebos
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Half of all American doctors responding to a nationwide survey say they regularly prescribe placebos to patients. The results trouble medical ethicists, who say more research is needed to determine whether doctors must deceive patients in order for placebos to work.

The study involved 679 internists and rheumatologists chosen randomly from a national list of such doctors. In response to three questions included as part of the larger survey, about half reported recommending placebos regularly. Surveys in Denmark, Israel, Britain, Sweden and New Zealand have found similar results.

The most common placebos the American doctors reported using were headache pills and vitamins, but a significant number also reported prescribing antibiotics and sedatives.

http://snipurl.com/4poxu
:lulz: I love Placebo studies.  It shows that the mind is better at healing diseases than many medicines are.

Quote
Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death
from Scientific American

... After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical body. And the mind is what the brain does—it's more a verb than it is a noun. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn't it be obvious that the mind is dead, too?

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death.

... The common view of death as a great mystery usually is brushed aside as an emotionally fueled desire to believe that death isn't the end of the road. And indeed, a prominent school of research in social psychology called terror management theory contends that afterlife beliefs, as well as less obvious beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, exist to assuage what would otherwise be crippling anxiety about the ego's inexistence.

http://snipurl.com/4prhn
I can't remember if Dennett mentioned terror management theory in "Breaking the Spell" but he did talk about the idea that man is unable to cope with the fact that at some point our mind/soul/personality will cease to exist.  Many religions have been built up around this fear.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on October 29, 2008, 04:06:59 am
October 28, 2008

Seven of the Greatest Scientific Hoaxes
from New Scientist

For this week's issue, New Scientist includes a review of "The Sun and the Moon" by Matthew Goodman, which tells the story of the great moon hoax of 1835.

That got an editor there thinking about other great scientific hoaxes in the past. After doing a bit of digging, she was amazed by how many there were—and at the variety and creativity of the hoaxes. The result is a review of seven of the best.

Of course, there are serious cases of scientific fraud, such as the stem cell researchers recently found guilty of falsifying data and the South Korean cloning fraud. The stories included here, however, are not so serious.

http://snipurl.com/4r4qw

This prooves that all science is fake!!1!
  \
 :mullet:

Also, Sokal = Discordian Saint.
Quote
Quantum Chaos
from Scientific American

In 1917 Albert Einstein wrote a paper that was completely ignored for 40 years. In it he raised a question that physicists have only recently begun asking themselves: What would classical chaos, which lurks everywhere in our world, do to quantum mechanics, the theory describing the atomic and subatomic worlds?

The effects of classical chaos, of course, have long been observed—Kepler knew about the motion of the moon around the earth and Newton complained bitterly about the phenomenon. At the end of the 19th century the American astronomer William Hill demonstrated that the irregularity is the result entirely of the gravitational pull of the sun.

So thereafter, the great French mathematician-astronomer-physicist Henri Poincaré surmised that the moon's motion is only mild case of a congenital disease affecting nearly everything. In the long run, Poincaré realized, most dynamic systems show no discernible regularity or repetitive pattern. The behavior of even a simple system can depend so sensitively on its initial conditions that the final outcome is uncertain.

http://snipurl.com/4r4iq
Awesome.  I still need to do more reading on Chaos Theory.  I have a bunch of e-books on it but I never have enough time.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 31, 2008, 04:01:18 am
October 29, 2008

Copper Ruins in Jordan Bolster Biblical Record of King Solomon
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

A massive copper smelting plant in the biblical land of Edom is at least three centuries older than researchers previously believed, placing it firmly in the traditional timeline of King Solomon, considered the greatest ruler of Israel, researchers reported Monday.

The existence of Solomon 3,000 years ago has been questioned by some scholars over the last two decades because of the paucity of archaeological evidence supporting the biblical record and the belief that there were no complex societies in Israel or Edom capable of building fortresses, monuments and other sophisticated public works, such as large mines, in the 10th century BC.

"This is the most hotly debated period in biblical archaeology today," said archaeologist Thomas E. Levy of UC San Diego, who reported the new radiocarbon dates for the copper smelting operation in modern-day Jordan in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

http://snipurl.com/4s2jh


The Mysterious Cough, Caught on Film
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

In Roald Dahl's novel "The B.F.G.," the title character, a big friendly giant, captures dreams in glass jars. At Pennsylvania State University, a professor of engineering has captured something less whimsical but no less ephemeral—a cough—on film.

The image, published online Oct. 9 by The New England Journal of Medicine, was created by schlieren photography, which "takes an invisible phenomenon and turns it into a visible picture," said the engineering professor, Gary Settles, who is the director of the university's gas dynamics laboratory.

Schlieren is German for "streaks"; in this case it refers to regions of different densities in a gas or a liquid, which can be photographed as shadows using a special technique.

http://snipurl.com/4s60g


Staph Germs Harder Than Ever to Treat, Studies Say
from USA Today

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—Drug-resistant staph bacteria picked up in ordinary community settings are increasingly acquiring "superbug" powers and causing far more serious illnesses than they have in the past, doctors reported Monday. These widespread germs used to be easier to treat than the dangerous forms of staph found in hospitals and nursing homes.

"Until recently we rarely thought of it as a problem among healthy people in the community," said Dr. Rachel Gorwitz of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, the germs causing outbreaks in schools, on sports teams and in other social situations are posing a growing threat.

A CDC study found that at least 10% of cases involving the most common community strain were able to evade the antibiotics typically used to treat them.

http://snipurl.com/4s69a


Does Nature Break the Second Law of Thermodynamics?
from Scientific American

Science has given humanity more than its share of letdowns. It has set limits to our technology, such as the impossibility of reaching the speed of light; failed to overcome our vulnerabilities to cancer and other diseases; and confronted us with inconvenient truths, as with global climate change.

But of all the comedowns, the second law of thermodynamics might well be the biggest. It says we live in a universe that is becoming ever more disordered and that there is nothing we can do about it. The mere act of living contributes to the inexorable degeneration of the world.

No matter how advanced our machines become, they can never completely avoid wasting some energy and running down. Not only does the second law squash the dream of a perpetual-motion machine, it suggests that the cosmos will eventually exhaust its available energy and nod off into an eternal stasis known as heat death.

http://snipurl.com/4s6iq 


Solar Thermal Power May Make Sun-Powered Grid a Reality
from Popular Mechanics

Planted in the New Mexico desert near Albuquerque, the six solar dish engines of the Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia National Laboratories look a bit like giant, highly reflective satellite dishes. Each one is a mosaic of 82 mirrors that fit together to form a 38-ft-wide parabola. The mirrors' precise curvature focuses light onto a 7-in. area.

At its most intense spot, the heat is equivalent to a blistering 13,000 suns, producing a flux 13 times greater than the space shuttle experiences during re-entry. "That'll melt almost anything known to man," says Sandia engineer Chuck Andraka. "It's incredibly hot."

The heat is used to run a Stirling engine, an elegant 192-year-old technology that creates mechanical energy from an external heat source, as opposed to the internal fuel combustion that powers most auto­mobile engines. ... The configuration of the dish and engine represent the fruit of more than a decade of steady improvements, developed in collaboration with Arizona-based Stirling Energy Systems.

http://snipurl.com/4s6mz


Arctic Ice Thickness 'Plummets'
from BBC News Online

The thickness of Arctic sea ice "plummeted" last winter, thinning by as much as 49 centimetres (1.6ft) in some regions, satellite data has revealed.

A study by UK researchers showed that the ice thickness had been fairly constant for the previous five winters. The team from University College London added that the results provided the first definitive proof that the overall volume of Arctic ice was decreasing.

The findings have been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "The ice thickness was fairly constant for the five winters before this, but it plummeted in the winter after the 2007 minimum," lead author Katharine Giles told BBC News.

http://snipurl.com/4s6u3


Vitamin E, Selenium Don't Prevent Prostate Cancer
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—The government is stopping part of a major study of whether vitamin E and selenium prevent prostate cancer—because the supplements aren't working and there's a hint of risk. More than 35,000 men age 50 and older have been taking one or both supplements or dummy pills as part of a study called the SELECT trial.

But the National Cancer Institute announced Monday that they will be getting letters in the next few days telling them to quit the pills. An early review of the data shows neither supplement, taken alone or together, is preventing prostate cancer.

Of more concern, slightly more users of vitamin E alone were getting prostate cancer—and slightly more selenium-only users were getting diabetes, the NCI said.

http://snipurl.com/4s75a 


Electricity Found on Saturn Moon—Could It Spark Life?
from National Geographic News

Recently identified electrical activity on Saturn's largest moon bolsters arguments that Titan is the kind of place that could harbor life. At a brisk -350 degrees Fahrenheit (-180 Celsius), Titan is currently much too cold to host anything close to life as we know it, scientists say.

But a new study reports faint signs of a natural electric field in Titan's thick cloud cover that are similar to the energy radiated by lightning on Earth. Lightning is thought to have sparked the chemical reactions that led to the origin of life on our planet.

"As of now, lightning activity has not been observed in Titan's atmosphere," said lead author Juan Antonio Morente of the University of Granada in Spain. But, he said, the signals that have been detected "are an irrefutable proof for the existence of electric activity."

http://snipurl.com/4s97d


Diabetes Drug Costs Are Soaring
from the Philadelphia Inquirer

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—Americans with diabetes nearly doubled their spending on drugs for the disease in just six years, with the bill last year climbing to an eye-popping $12.5 billion.

Newer, costlier drugs are driving the increase, said researchers, despite a lack of strong evidence for the new drugs' greater benefits and safety. And there are more people being treated for diabetes. The new study follows updated treatment advice for Type 2 diabetes, issued last week. In those recommendations, an expert panel told doctors to use older, cheaper drugs first.

And a second study, also out yesterday, adds to evidence that metformin—an inexpensive generic used reliably for decades—may prevent deaths from heart disease while the newer, more expensive Avandia didn't show that benefit.

http://snipurl.com/4s8o0


Surveillance Technology: If Looks Could Kill
from the Economist

Monitoring surveillance cameras is tedious work. Even if you are concentrating, identifying suspicious behaviour is hard. Suppose a nondescript man descends to a subway platform several times over the course of a few days without getting on a train. Is that suspicious? Possibly.

Is the average security guard going to notice? Probably not. A good example, then—if a fictional one—of why many people would like to develop intelligent computerised surveillance systems.

The perceived need for such systems is stimulating the development of devices that can both recognise people and objects and also detect suspicious behaviour. Much of this technology remains, for the moment, in laboratories. But Charles Cohen, the boss of Cybernet Systems, a firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, ... says behaviour-recognition systems are getting good, and are already deployed at some security checkpoints.

http://snipurl.com/4s9at

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on October 31, 2008, 04:05:14 am
October 30, 2008

BPA Ruling Flawed, Panel Says
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The Food and Drug Administration ignored scientific evidence and used flawed methods when it determined that a chemical widely used in baby bottles and in the lining of cans is not harmful, a scientific advisory panel has found.

In a highly critical report to be released yesterday, the panel of scientists from government and academia said the FDA did not take into consideration scores of studies that have linked bisphenol A (BPA) to prostate cancer, diabetes and other health problems in animals when it completed a draft risk assessment of the chemical last month.

The panel said the FDA didn't use enough infant formula samples and didn't adequately account for variations among the samples. Taking those studies into consideration, the panel concluded, the FDA's margin of safety is "inadequate."

http://snipurl.com/4tmy0


New Minerals Point to Wetter Mars
from BBC News Online

A Nasa space probe has discovered a new category of minerals spread across large regions of Mars. The find suggests liquid water remained on Mars' surface a billion years later than scientists had previously thought.

The US Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft found evidence of hydrated silica, better known as opal.

The discovery adds to the growing body of evidence that water played a crucial role in shaping the Martian landscape and—possibly—in sustaining life. Hydrated, or water-containing, minerals are telltale signs of when and where water was present on ancient Mars.

http://snipurl.com/4tn2q 


Older Donated Blood Is Linked to Infection Risk
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Hospitalized patients who received blood that had been stored for more than four weeks were nearly three times as likely to develop infections as those who received fresher blood, researchers said Tuesday.

The blood itself was not infected, but the stored blood's release of chemical agents called cytokines may have affected the recipients' immune systems, rendering them more susceptible to infections, said Dr. Raquel Nahra of Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, Ark.

The patients typically suffered an increase in urinary-tract infections, pneumonia and infections associated with intravenous lines, but those who were infected were no more likely to die, Nahra told a Philadelphia meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

http://snipurl.com/4tmd9


Monitor Shifts from Print to Web-Based Strategy
from the Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor plans major changes in April 2009 that are expected to make it the first newspaper with a national audience to shift from a daily print format to an online publication that is updated continuously each day.

The changes at the Monitor will include enhancing the content on CSMonitor.com, starting weekly print and daily e-mail editions, and discontinuing the current daily print format.

... While the Monitor's print circulation, which is primarily delivered by US mail, has trended downward for nearly 40 years, "looking forward, the Monitor's Web readership clearly shows promise," said Judy Wolff, chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Christian Science Publishing Society.

http://snipurl.com/4sc4m 


Danger Lurking in Your Bottle of Red
from the Times (London)

Wines from 13 different countries contain potentially hazardous levels of metals, according to a chemical analysis by British scientists.

The findings suggest that the health benefits of drinking red wine may often be counter-balanced by risks posed by excessive levels of metals such as copper, manganese and vanadium, researchers at Kingston University said.

Wines whould also be labelled with their ion metal content, and manufacturers need to introduce new methods to remove the potentially hazardous material from their products, they said. Metal ions are charged atoms, which play an important role in body biochemistry but which can also be hazardous in excess amounts.

http://snipurl.com/4u9em


Is Setting Clock Back Good for Your Ticker?
from the Seattle Times

Turning your clock back one hour Sunday for the end of daylight-saving time could do your own ticker some good.

Researchers have found a 5 percent drop in heart-attack deaths and hospitalizations the day after clocks are reset each year to standard time, according to a study in the new issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Swedish researchers also found that the onset of daylight-saving time in the spring appears to increase the risk of heart attacks. ... The risk also rises on holidays and anniversaries, although no one knows why ...

http://snipurl.com/4u9gv


Tiny Mercury Had Huge Volcanic Eruptions
from National Geographic News

Our solar system's smallest planet has seen an enormous amount of volcanic activity, according to scientists studying information from the latest Mercury flyby.

Images returned earlier this month from NASA's MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft reveal about 3,600 cubic miles (15,000 cubic kilometers) of solidified lava inside a single crater on Mercury's western hemisphere.

That's enough lava to fill the entire Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area to a height 12 times that of the Washington Monument, according to Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is a co-investigator for the mission.

http://snipurl.com/4u9j4


Farm Chemicals Can Indirectly Hammer Frogs
from Science News

Atrazine, the second-most widely used agricultural pesticide in America, can pose a toxic double whammy to tadpoles.

The weed killer not only increases the likelihood that massive concentrations of flatworms will thrive in the amphibians’ ponds, a new study reports, but also diminishes the ability of larval frogs to fight infection with these parasites.

Moreover, the new data show, runoff of phosphate fertilizer into pond water can amplify atrazine’s toxicity. The fertilizer does this by boosting the production of algae on which snails feed. Those snails serve as a primary, if temporary, host for the parasitic flatworms, which can sicken frogs.

http://snipurl.com/4u9l0


Smart Amoebas Reveal Origins of Primitive Intelligence
from New Scientist

Amoebas are smarter than they look, and a team of US physicists think they know why. The group has built a simple electronic circuit that is capable of the same "intelligent" behaviour as Physarum, a unicellular organism—and say this could help us understand the origins of primitive intelligence.

In recent years, the humble amoeba has surprised researchers with its ability to behave in an "intelligent" way. Last year, Liang Li and Edward Cox at Princeton University reported that the Dictyostelium amoeba is twice as likely to turn left if its last turn was to the right and vice versa, which suggests the cells have a rudimentary memory.

... In the past, biologists have suggested that there are natural oscillators within the cells that can change their frequency in response to a changing environment. But that can't be the complete picture, say the researchers, because the amoeba's response is short-lived.

http://snipurl.com/4u9o4


Are You Evil? Profiling That Which Is Truly Wicked
from Scientific American

TROY, N.Y.—The hallowed halls of academia are not the place you would expect to find someone obsessed with evil (although some students might disagree). But it is indeed evil—or rather trying to get to the roots of evil—that fascinates Selmer Bringsjord, a logician, philosopher and chairman of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Department of Cognitive Science here.

He's so intrigued, in fact, that he has developed a sort of checklist for determining whether someone is demonic, and is working with a team of graduate students to create a computerized representation of a purely sinister person.

"I've been working on what is evil and how to formally define it," says Bringsjord, who is also director of the Rensselaer AI & Reasoning Lab (RAIR). "It's creepy, I know it is."

http://snipurl.com/4u9q2

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Golden Applesauce on October 31, 2008, 04:38:33 am

Quote
Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death
from Scientific American

... After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical body. And the mind is what the brain does—it's more a verb than it is a noun. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn't it be obvious that the mind is dead, too?

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death.

... The common view of death as a great mystery usually is brushed aside as an emotionally fueled desire to believe that death isn't the end of the road. And indeed, a prominent school of research in social psychology called terror management theory contends that afterlife beliefs, as well as less obvious beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, exist to assuage what would otherwise be crippling anxiety about the ego's inexistence.

http://snipurl.com/4prhn
I can't remember if Dennett mentioned terror management theory in "Breaking the Spell" but he did talk about the idea that man is unable to cope with the fact that at some point our mind/soul/personality will cease to exist.  Many religions have been built up around this fear.

If you'd read the article, you'd notice that it's not about fear, but about it being really hard to imagine being not conscious.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Golden Applesauce on October 31, 2008, 04:46:41 am
Quote
Bringsjord acknowledges that the endeavor to create pure evil, even in a software program, does raise ethical questions, such as, how researchers could control an artificially intelligent character like E if "he" was placed in a virtual world such as Second Life, a Web-based program that allows people to create digital representations of themselves and have those avatars interact in a number of different ways.

"I wouldn't release E or anything like it, even in purely virtual environments, without engineered safeguards," Bringsjord says. These safeguards would be a set of ethics written into the software, something akin to author Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" that prevent a robot from harming humans, requires a robot to obey humans, and instructs a robot to protect itself—as long as that does not violate either or both of the first two laws.

"Because I have a lot of faith in this approach," he says, "E will be controlled."

 :lulz: :lulz: :lulz: :lulz:

Ignoring for the moment that a glorified Eliza will not be able to do any real harm... this is what our AI developers need to do more of.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cain on November 01, 2008, 01:36:16 pm
Yeah, I was reading about this on Technoccult.  Its a pretty brilliant idea.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cramulus on November 01, 2008, 01:59:28 pm
Diabetes Drug Costs Are Soaring
from the Philadelphia Inquirer

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—Americans with diabetes nearly doubled their spending on drugs for the disease in just six years, with the bill last year climbing to an eye-popping $12.5 billion.

this does not surprise me
fucking drug addicts
too lazy to make their own insulin
get a working pancreas, spags!  :argh!:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 03, 2008, 06:30:59 pm
November 3, 2008

Ancient Iceman Has No Modern Kin
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

The 5,000-year-old mummy Öetzi, found in a glacier in the European alps 17 years ago and believed to be an ancestor of modern Europeans, actually belonged to a different genetic family and may have no living descendants, researchers report today in Current Biology.

The researchers sequenced mitochondrial DNA extracted from Öetzi's intestines, offering the oldest complete mtDNA sequence of modern humans.

"We sort of assume when we look at populations today we see representations of [ancient populations] as well," Joanna Mountain an anthropological geneticist at Stanford University who was not involved in the study, told The Scientist. The current study, she said, "counters that thinking."

http://snipurl.com/4ut9e


Conservation: Managed to Death
from the Economist

If ever there were a graphic illustration of the tragedy of the commons, it is the plummeting of the world’s stocks of bluefin tuna. Because they live in the high seas, these fish belong to everyone, and are thus no one’s responsibility. The result is that the bluefin has been doomed to decades of poor management.

Matters, though, appear to be reaching a crisis. In a study to be published soon in Conservation Letters, a group of scientists led by Brian MacKenzie, of the Technical University of Denmark, describe how they ran a computer model of the species's population dynamics.

Their conclusion is that even if fishing for bluefin were banned, the population in the north-east Atlantic and Mediterranean will probably collapse. The current management plan, to reduce quotas gradually over the next 15 years, will cause it to fall so far that bluefins in the area will qualify as critically endangered, the highest category of risk in the lexicon of conservation.

http://snipurl.com/4wfrm


Science Advice for the Next President
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Nearly 180 organizations representing the interdependent arenas of science, academia and business are urging the next president to appoint a White House science adviser by Inauguration Day and give the position cabinet-level rank.

In letters sent Thursday to Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, the organizations said scientific and technical advice was needed now more than ever given the importance of the entwined issues of energy security and climate change, mounting issues and opportunities in medicine, and problems in science education and American innovation and competitiveness.

The letters reflect broadening concern that the White House has not been sufficiently stressing science.

http://snipurl.com/4wfyh


On Mars, Phoenix Lander's End Appears to Be Near
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The death watch is on for NASA's Phoenix lander, the first spacecraft to sample water on another planet.

Buffeted by dust storms and chilled by temperatures as low as minus-141 degrees Fahrenheit from the impending arrival of the Martian winter, Phoenix is clinging to life, but barely, NASA officials said Friday.

... Days earlier, Phoenix fell silent, going into safe mode to save battery power. ... The lander, however, failed to awaken from its latest sleep Friday, alerting NASA officials to the possibility that the end could be very near.

http://snipurl.com/4wg1k


FDA Panel Accepts Findings on BPA
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The Food and Drug Administration made mistakes when determining that a widely used chemical found in baby bottles and other plastics was harmless and the agency should redo its risk assessment, an FDA advisory panel ruled yesterday.

But the report's authors told the Science Board advisory panel that they could not say whether BPA was harmful or whether it should be banned in food and beverage containers. They left that to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to decide.

How von Eschenbach will respond is unclear, especially as the Bush administration winds down. The FDA said earlier this week that it plans to do more research, which will probably take years.

http://snipurl.com/4wg5c


Archaeologists Report Finding Oldest Hebrew Text
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

JERUSALEM (Reuters)—Archaeologists in Israel said on Thursday they had unearthed the oldest Hebrew text ever found, while excavating a fortress city overlooking a valley where the Bible says David slew Goliath.

The dig's uncovering of the past near the ancient battlefield in the Valley of Elah, now home to wineries and a satellite station, could have implications for the emotional debate over the future of Jerusalem, some 20 km (12 miles) away.

Archaeologists from the Hebrew University said they found five lines of text written in black ink on a shard of pottery dug up at a five-acre (two-hectare) site called Elah Fortress, or Khirbet Qeiyafa.

http://snipurl.com/4wgjx


Obesity Blamed for Doubling Rate of Diabetes Cases
from USA Today

ATLANTA (Associated Press)—The nation's obesity epidemic is exacting a heavy toll: The rate of new diabetes cases nearly doubled in the United States in the past 10 years, the government said Thursday. The highest rates were in the South, according to the first state-by-state review of new diagnoses.

The worst was in West Virginia, where about 13 in 1,000 adults were diagnosed with the disease in 2005-07. The lowest was in Minnesota, where the rate was 5 in 1,000. Nationally, the rate of new cases climbed from about 5 per 1,000 in the mid-1990s to 9 per 1,000 in the middle of this decade.

Roughly 90% of cases are Type 2 diabetes, the form linked to obesity. The findings dovetail with trends seen in obesity and lack of exercise—two health measures where Southern states also rank at the bottom.

http://snipurl.com/4wgm9


DNA Legacy of Ancient Seafarers
from BBC News Online

Scientists have used DNA to re-trace the migrations of a sea-faring civilisation which dominated the Mediterranean thousands of years ago.

The Phoenicians were an enterprising maritime people from the territory of modern-day Lebanon. They established a trading empire throughout the Mediterranean Sea in the first millennium BC.

A new study by an international team has now revealed the genetic legacy they imparted to modern populations. The researchers estimate that as many as one in 17 men from the Mediterranean may have Phoenician ancestry.

http://snipurl.com/4wgpk


NASA Defends Rocket to Moon
from the Times (London)

Ares is meant to be the rocket that will launch a new era of lunar exploration. Instead it is in danger of crashing into its own launch tower or of shaking its astronauts to death. Nasa has strongly defended the $20 billion back-to-the-Moon programme after claims from its own engineers that its rocket design could be dangerously flawed.

One senior engineer resigned from his post, complaining of "catastrophic-level risks," while others are moonlighting on a rival design project, codenamed Jupiter, convinced that they can get man to the Moon quicker, safer and more cheaply than the apparently troubled Ares.

"Nasa has a big reality check coming and I can't begin to guess how it will all turn out," Jeff Finckenor, a structural design engineer at the Nasa Marshall Space Flight Centre in Alabama, said in a memo to colleagues explaining his departure.

http://snipurl.com/4wgt9


Melamine Problem Widespread in China
from the Seattle Times

BEIJING (Associated Press)—First it was infant formula. Then, dairy-based products from yogurt to chocolate.

Now chicken eggs have been contaminated with melamine, and an admission by state-run media that the industrial chemical is regularly added to animal feed in China fueled fears Friday that the problem could be more widespread, affecting fish, meat and who knows what else.

Peter Dingle, a toxicity expert at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, said, however, that aside from the tainted baby formula that killed at least four Chinese infants and left 54,000 children hospitalized just over a month ago, it is unlikely humans will get sick from melamine.

http://snipurl.com/4wgx7

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 03, 2008, 06:32:27 pm
October 31, 2008

Experts Identify Fungus Suspected in Bat Die-Off
from National Public Radio

In the northeastern United States, bats have been dying by the thousands, struck down by a strange ailment called "white-nose syndrome." A mysterious, fuzzy white fungus appears on the noses and skin of afflicted hibernating bats, which then often starve to death.

Alan Hicks, a bat specialist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, alerted the world to white-nose syndrome in early 2007 after hearing reports of dead bats in caves near Albany.

Now, researchers have identified the mold they consider a possible cause of the disease, reporting their findings Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science. It's a fragile, unusual form of Geomyces fungi, which usually live in cold places such as Antarctica, says David Blehert, lead author of the study.

http://snipurl.com/4vgi2


Hubble Up and Running, With a Picture to Prove It
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

After an electrical malfunction caused it to go dormant a month ago, the Hubble Space Telescope is back in business.

To show that the orbiting eye still has the same chops as ever, astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore used Hubble's wide-field planetary camera 2 to record an image of a pair of smoke-rings galaxies known as Arp 147.

The galaxies, about 450 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus, apparently collided in the recent cosmic past. According to Mario Livio, of the space telescope institute, one of the galaxies passed through the other, causing a circular wave, like a pebble tossed into a pond, that has now coalesced into a ring of new blue stars.

http://snipurl.com/4urmp


Radiation Detectors' Value Is Questioned
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security have overstated the performance of costly new radiation detectors designed to prevent the importation of radiological materials that could be used in bombs, according to an unreleased government report.

The department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office has claimed in a recent report that new tests show the detection machines, known as Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors, can more accurately detect and identify radioactive materials than existing equipment in use across the country, the Government Accountability Office said in its report.

... But auditors who have examined the test results said the office's claims cannot be backed up by statistical evidence. That's because the data collected from what is called the Phase 3 test was too limited, according to the report by the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.

http://snipurl.com/4urys


2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami Biggest in 600 Years
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

NEW YORK (Associated Press)—The tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 2004 was the biggest in the Indian Ocean in some 600 years, two new geological studies suggest.

That long gap might explain how enough geological stress built up to power the huge undersea earthquake that launched the killer waves four years ago, researchers said.

The work appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Two research teams report that by digging pits and taking core samples in Thailand and northern Sumatra, they found evidence that the last comparably large tsunami struck between the years 1300 and 1400.

http://snipurl.com/4us3a


New NASA Capsule Orion Resembles Apollo
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Reporting from Edwards Air Force Base—NASA rolled out its next-generation space capsule here Wednesday, revealing a bulbous module that is scheduled to carry humans back to the moon in 2020 and eventually onward to Mars.

Unlike the space-plane shape of the shuttles, the new Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle looks strikingly similar to the old Apollo space capsule that carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon and back in 1969, with Armstrong and Aldrin becoming the first humans to walk on the lunar surface.

There is one key difference, however. The test module, unveiled at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, is substantially bigger—16.5 feet in diameter compared with Apollo 11's 12.8 feet.

http://snipurl.com/4urrg


Stone Age Innovation Out of Africa
from Science News

Technological revolutions rocked our world long before the information age. Between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago, it was spurts of innovative toolmaking, rather than extreme climate changes, in southern Africa's Stone Age cultures that heralded a human exodus out of Africa, a new investigation suggests.

Environmental changes in southern Africa, including those brought on by a massive volcanic eruption in Sumatra around 74,000 years ago, played a secondary role at best in instigating ancient cultural advances and intercontinental migrations, say geologist Zenobia Jacobs of the University of Wollongong, Australia, and her colleagues.

Other researchers regard ancient climate fluctuations as key motivators of human movement out of Africa. Jacobs' team dated sediment at nine sites that have yielded remains of either of two key toolmaking traditions in southern Africa, known as the Still Bay and Howieson's Poort industries.

http://snipurl.com/4utea


Polar Warming 'Caused by Humans'
from BBC News Online

The rise in temperatures at Earth's poles has for the first time been attributed directly to human activities, according to a study. The work, by an international team, is published in Nature Geoscience journal.

In 2007, the UN's climate change body presented strong scientific evidence the rise in average global temperature is mostly due to human activities. ... At the time, there was not sufficient evidence to say this for sure about the Arctic and Antarctic.

Now that gap in research has been plugged, according to scientists who carried out a detailed analysis of temperature variations at both poles. Their study indicates that humans have indeed contributed to warming in both regions.

http://snipurl.com/4uscw


Sporting Champions Pass on Mental Toughness to Their Children
from the Telegraph (UK)

Sporting champions are more likely to have children who go on to succeed in their own right because mental toughness is inherited, new research suggests.

... In study published Wednesday, scientists studied 219 sets of twins to work out the influence of genetics and environment on four character traits associated with mental toughness. They were control over life, commitment, confidence and the ability to face new challenges.

Author Dr Tony Vernon at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, concluded that genetics played a more important role—52 per cent—than environmental factors—48 per cent.

http://snipurl.com/4usl0


Fighting With Photons
from the Economist

Like so much else in science fiction, the ray gun was invented by H.G. Wells. ... Science fiction, though, it has remained. Neither hand-held pistols nor giant, orbiting anti-missile versions of the weapon have worked.

But that is about to change. The first serious battlefield ray gun is now being deployed. And the next generation, now in the laboratory, is coming soon.

The deployed ray gun (or "directed-energy weapon" ... ) is known as Zeus. It is not designed to kill. Rather, its purpose is to allow you to remain at a safe distance when you detonate unexploded ordnance, such as the homemade roadside bombs that plague foreign troops in Iraq.

http://snipurl.com/4uspq


"Spider God" Temple Found in Peru
from National Geographic News

A 3,000-year-old temple featuring an image of a spider god may hold clues to little-known cultures in ancient Peru.

People of the Cupisnique culture, which thrived from roughly 1500 to 1000 B.C., built the temple in the Lambayeque valley on Peru's north coast.

The adobe temple, found this summer and called Collud, is the third discovered in the area in recent years. The finds suggest that the three valley sites may have been part of a large capital for divine worship, said archaeologist Walter Alva, director of the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum.

http://snipurl.com/4usw0

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on November 03, 2008, 08:35:07 pm
Science Advice for the Next President
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Nearly 180 organizations representing the interdependent arenas of science, academia and business are urging the next president to appoint a White House science adviser by Inauguration Day and give the position cabinet-level rank.

In letters sent Thursday to Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, the organizations said scientific and technical advice was needed now more than ever given the importance of the entwined issues of energy security and climate change, mounting issues and opportunities in medicine, and problems in science education and American innovation and competitiveness.

The letters reflect broadening concern that the White House has not been sufficiently stressing science.

http://snipurl.com/4wfyh
I like this idea, but I thought that every Cabinet member had a department directly under them.  How would that work with a science advisor? Would the Executive branch have to be rearranged with the "Secretary of Science" being over things like NASA, EPA, FDA, etc? 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 03, 2008, 09:37:37 pm
Science Advice for the Next President
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Nearly 180 organizations representing the interdependent arenas of science, academia and business are urging the next president to appoint a White House science adviser by Inauguration Day and give the position cabinet-level rank.

In letters sent Thursday to Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, the organizations said scientific and technical advice was needed now more than ever given the importance of the entwined issues of energy security and climate change, mounting issues and opportunities in medicine, and problems in science education and American innovation and competitiveness.

The letters reflect broadening concern that the White House has not been sufficiently stressing science.

http://snipurl.com/4wfyh
I like this idea, but I thought that every Cabinet member had a department directly under them.  How would that work with a science advisor? Would the Executive branch have to be rearranged with the "Secretary of Science" being over things like NASA, EPA, FDA, etc? 

Theres a Press secretary, but there isn't a department of press.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on November 03, 2008, 10:01:12 pm
Science Advice for the Next President
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Nearly 180 organizations representing the interdependent arenas of science, academia and business are urging the next president to appoint a White House science adviser by Inauguration Day and give the position cabinet-level rank.

In letters sent Thursday to Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, the organizations said scientific and technical advice was needed now more than ever given the importance of the entwined issues of energy security and climate change, mounting issues and opportunities in medicine, and problems in science education and American innovation and competitiveness.

The letters reflect broadening concern that the White House has not been sufficiently stressing science.

http://snipurl.com/4wfyh
I like this idea, but I thought that every Cabinet member had a department directly under them.  How would that work with a science advisor? Would the Executive branch have to be rearranged with the "Secretary of Science" being over things like NASA, EPA, FDA, etc? 
Would that be a bad thing?  Who better to run scientific departments than a scientist?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on November 03, 2008, 11:05:38 pm
Theres a Press secretary, but there isn't a department of press.
True, but that's not a Cabinet position either.

After actually doing some reasearch I found that Bush does have a science advisor (that he never listens to) who is the head of the Office of Science & Technology Policy (http://www.ostp.gov/cs/home).  I would assume what these people in the article are wanting an expansion of OSTP with the head being promoted to Cabinet level.  Like I said, not a horrible idea but I have no idea what this person would actually do or even have the power to do.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Golden Applesauce on November 03, 2008, 11:39:33 pm
Theres a Press secretary, but there isn't a department of press.
True, but that's not a Cabinet position either.

After actually doing some reasearch I found that Bush does have a science advisor (that he never listens to) who is the head of the Office of Science & Technology Policy (http://www.ostp.gov/cs/home).  I would assume what these people in the article are wanting an expansion of OSTP with the head being promoted to Cabinet level.  Like I said, not a horrible idea but I have no idea what this person would actually do or even have the power to do.

Anybody who can tell the president "You're a fucking moron, eliminating Drosophila research is fucking retarded" is a good idea.  It would be nice to have issues like endangered species, global warming, etc. be decided by scientists, rather than senators and their horde of lobbyists.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on November 03, 2008, 11:53:05 pm
Yes, listen to us scientists.
                             \
(http://letsstartabeat.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/dr_strangelove-763806.jpg)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 04, 2008, 04:47:38 pm
November 4, 2008

The Safety Gap
from the New York Times Magazine (Registration Required)

In the belly of an industrial district south of Lyon, France, just past a sulfurous oil refinery and a synthetic vanilla plant, sits a run-down, eight-story factory that makes aspirin, the first pharmaceutical blockbuster.

The Lyon factory is the last of its kind. No other major facility in Europe or the United States makes generic aspirin anymore. The market has been taken over by low-cost Chinese producers. 

... European factories close; Chinese ones open. Consumers like their commodities cheap, in the case of aspirin as with everything else. China now produces about two-thirds of all aspirin and is poised to become the world's sole global supplier in the not-too-distant future. But are the Chinese factories safe? Who knows? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and other competent government regulators rarely, if ever, inspect them.

http://snipurl.com/4xoa9


Scientists to Measure Effects of Earthquakes on Acropolis
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

ATHENS, Greece (Associated Press)—For thousands of years the Acropolis has withstood earthquakes, weathered storms and endured temperature extremes, from scorching summers to winter snow.

Now scientists are drawing on the latest technology to install a system that will record just how much nature is affecting the 2,500-year-old site. They hope their findings will help identify areas that could be vulnerable, allowing them to target restoration and maintenance.

Scientists are installing a network of fiber optic sensors and accelerographs—instruments that measure how much movement is generated during a quake.

http://snipurl.com/4wh1s


Persistence Pays Off With New Drug for Gout
from the (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer

The line of work Dr. Mike Hershfield has pursued for most of his 32-year research career at Duke University is basically scientific social service. He adopts orphans.

Specifically, he takes on so-called orphan diseases—afflictions so rare that the big pharmaceutical companies have no financial incentive to develop treatments.

Hershfield and his team at Duke are among more than a dozen research groups at Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and private biotech companies in the Research Triangle Park area that have contributed to a wave of new treatments for people suffering from diseases such as immune disorders, rare cancers and cystic fibrosis. Each disease afflicts fewer than 200,000 Americans, but all the orphan diseases added together strike an estimated 25 million.

http://snipurl.com/4xo11


Extra-Nutritious Bioengineered Foods Still Years Away
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

For years, advocates of agricultural biotechnology have promised a future in which foods will be genetically engineered to give more nutrition and to prevent chronic diseases, in which crops will be modified to thrive in salty soil or hot or dry climates and in which consumers will benefit directly from science's ability to tweak other characteristics of plants.

So far, however, that has generally not happened, and the main beneficiaries of agricultural biotechnology remain farmers battling pests and weeds that threaten staple crops such as soybeans, corn and cotton, as well as the companies that develop and produce genetically modified seeds.

But last week, consumers were reminded of what might be available in the future. Researchers at the British-government-sponsored John Innes Center announced that they had developed a purple tomato that has high levels of beneficial anthocyanins—antioxidants known to neutralize potentially harmful oxygen molecules, or free radicals, in the body and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The genes for the purple tomato came from snapdragons.

http://snipurl.com/4z8b0

 

Many More Children on Medication, Study Says
from the Baltimore Sun

Hundreds of thousands more children are taking medications for chronic diseases, with a huge spike over a four-year period in the number given drugs to treat conditions once seen primarily in adults and now linked to what has become an epidemic of childhood obesity.

In a study appearing yesterday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers saw surges in the number of U.S. children taking prescription medicines for diabetes and asthma, with smaller increases in those taking drugs for high blood pressure or high cholesterol. All of those conditions, to varying degrees, have been associated with obesity.

Though doctors have been seeing the trend in their practices, "the rate of rise is what's surprising," said Dr. Donna R. Halloran, a pediatrician at St. Louis University in Missouri and one of the study's authors.

http://snipurl.com/4z8si


Unknotting Knot Theory
from Science News

Sometimes, a simple, even childish question turns out to be connected to the deepest secrets of the universe. Here's one: How many different ways can you tie your shoelaces?

Mathematicians have been puzzling over that question for a century or two, and the main thing they've discovered is that the question is really, really hard. In the last decade, though, they've developed some powerful new tools inspired by physics that have pried a few answers from the universe's clutches.

Even more exciting is that the new tools seem to be the tip of a much larger theory that mathematicians are just beginning to uncover. That larger mathematical theory, if it exists, may help crack some of the hardest mathematical questions there are, questions about the mathematical structure of the three- and four-dimensional space where we live.

http://snipurl.com/4z8x2


Success in Treating Childhood Anxiety
from the Philadelphia Inquirer

More than 80 percent of children suffering from the most common psychiatric disorders—anxieties and phobias that can make them fear the future and avoid trick-or-treating—dramatically improved on a combination of medication and 12 weeks of therapy, researchers reported last week in the biggest study of its kind.

Nearly 60 percent were helped by either the antidepressant alone or the cognitive behavioral therapy program that was developed by a Temple University psychologist two decades ago and is now used around the world.

The Coping Cat program—aka Coping Bear in Canada and Coping Koala in Australia—encourages children to recognize, experience and then master their fears. ... Estimates of the number of children with debilitating anxieties or social phobias vary wildly. Many experts think it is about 10 percent of American children and adolescents.

http://snipurl.com/4z967


Researcher Seeks Clues to Aging in Our DNA
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Here's the dilemma. At a fundamental level, we age because our cells stop dividing and multiplying. So why shouldn't medical science try to extend our lifespans and improve our health in old age by making sure our cells keep proliferating?

The answer is cancer. Any measures we take to keep tissues growing might raise the odds of cancer, which is characterized by cells that never stop dividing.

Patricia Opresko lives at the intersection of this quandary. A researcher at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, Dr. Opresko studies the basic mechanisms of why cells age, partly by specializing in a rare premature aging malady known as Werner syndrome.

http://snipurl.com/4z9ac


Utilities Putting New Energy Into Geothermal Sources
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

RENO, NV—Not far from the blinking casinos of this gambler's paradise lies what could be called the Biggest Little Power Plant in the World.

Tucked into a few dusty acres across from a shopping mall, it uses steam heat from deep within the Earth's crust to generate electricity. Known as geothermal, the energy is clean, reliable and so abundant that this facility produces more than enough electricity to power every home in Reno, population 221,000.

... Geothermal energy may be the most prolific renewable fuel source that most people have never heard of. Although the supply is virtually limitless, the massive upfront costs required to extract it have long rendered geothermal a novelty. But that's changing fast as this old-line industry buzzes with activity after decades of stagnation.

http://snipurl.com/4zbp4 


Study: Sex on TV Linked to Teen Pregnancies
from MSNBC

In the world of television programming, sex sells—perhaps a little too well with young viewers, a new study suggests.

The RAND Corp. study is the first of its kind to identify a link between teenagers' exposure to sexual content on TV and teen pregnancies. The study, released Monday and published in the November edition of the journal Pediatrics, found that teens exposed to high levels of sexual content on television were twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy in the following three years as teens with limited exposure.

The study's authors are quick to point out that the factors leading to teen pregnancies are varied and complex—but they say it's important for parents, teachers and pediatricians to understand that TV can be one of them.

http://snipurl.com/4zgmk

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 06, 2008, 09:23:33 pm
November 6, 2008

Unknown "Structures" Tugging at Universe, Study Says
from National Geographic News

Something may be out there. Way out there. On the outskirts of creation, unknown, unseen "structures" are tugging on our universe like cosmic magnets, a controversial new study says.

Everything in the known universe is said to be racing toward the massive clumps of matter at more than 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) an hour—a movement the researchers have dubbed dark flow.

The presence of the extra-universal matter suggests that our universe is part of something bigger—a multiverse—and that whatever is out there is very different from the universe we know, according to study leader Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The theory could rewrite the laws of physics.

http://snipurl.com/5660v 


Obama Promises New Era of Scientific Innovation
from New Scientist

Tuesday, the American people chose Barack Obama as the country's 44th president, promising a sea change in US policy that could affect not just the US, but the whole world. New Scientist takes a look at what Obama has pledged over the lengthy presidential campaign, to see what his administration will mean for science and technology.

In September, Obama unveiled a comprehensive Science and Technology Policy. In it he promised to lead a new era of scientific innovation in America and to restore integrity to US science policy. This would be achieved by doubling the federal investment in basic research and by addressing the "grand challenges" of the 21st century, he said. The rhetoric gained him the public endorsement of 61 Nobel laureates.

Obama lacks a science background, though, and over the past 50 years it has been Republican, rather than Democratic administrations, that have tended to spend more on science. Whether Obama and his team can buck this trend in the current dire financial situation remains to be seen.

http://snipurl.com/554xp


Oldest Evidence for Complex Life in Doubt
from Science News

Chemical biomarkers in ancient Australian rocks, once thought to be the oldest known evidence of complex life on Earth, may have infiltrated long after the sediments were laid down, new analyses suggest.

The evidence was based on biomarkers—distinctive chemical compounds produced today by modern-day relatives of cyanobacteria and other complex life forms. In 1999, a team of researchers contended that the biomarkers in the 2.7-billion–year-old rocks pushed back the origins of cyanobacteria by at least 550 million years and of eukaryotes by about a billion years.

Although some scientists interpret the new findings, published in the Oct. 23 Nature, as disproving the older dates, others contend that the results still allow for the presence of the organisms or their kin at that time.

http://snipurl.com/5552v 


At Specialty Garage, Making Hybrids Even Greener
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

SAN FRANCISCO—The fig tree and the philodendron are the first things that meet the eye in the repair bay of Luscious Garage. Then the two Toyota Priuses come into focus—one with a slightly dented rear door, the other on a lift with two tires off and rusty brake rotors exposed.

Then comes the eerie sense that something is missing: grime. "You could eat off her floor,” said Sara Bernard, the customer in need of brake repair.

The only hybrid specialty garage run by a woman has opened in the Bay Area, which has more Priuses—70,000 as of 2006—than most states. And while its owner, Carolyn Coquillette, has a preoccupation with cleanliness that may not be unique in a mechanic’s shop, her ubiquitous recycling containers (for paper, plastic, rubber, metal and oil) and the solar panels on her roof set Luscious apart. So does its specialty: giving hybrid owners the option of going fully electric.

http://snipurl.com/5558a


Authorities Hope Beetle Invasion Can Be Ground to a Halt
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

WORCESTER, Mass. (Associated Press)—A wood-devouring beetle has gained a foothold in New England, and authorities plan to cut down large numbers of infested trees and grind them up to stop the pest from spreading to the region's celebrated forests and ravaging the timber, tourism and maple-syrup industries.

The infestation of Asian longhorned beetles in the Worcester area marks the fourth time the pests have been found in trees in the United States and the closest they have ever come to New England's great woods, which erupt in dazzling colors in the fall.

"This insect scares us to death because, if it ever got loose in the forests of New England, it would be just about impossible to contain and it'd change the landscape dramatically," said Tom McCrumm, coordinator of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association.

http://snipurl.com/555cz


Folic Acid, B Vitamins Offer No Cancer Protection
from USA Today

Researchers have more disappointing news for people who hope to protect their health with vitamins.

In the longest-running trial of its kind, doctors found that folic acid and other B vitamins didn't prevent breast cancer or cancer in general, according to a seven-year study of 5,442 women in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers randomly assigned some of the women to take the supplements—folic acid, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12—and others to get placebos. Neither the women nor their doctors knew which pills they were taking—a type of trial that is widely considered the "gold standard" for medical evidence.

http://snipurl.com/555hz 


Golf Secret Not All in the Wrists
from BBC News Online

After decades of research, the world may be closer to the perfect golf swing. The key, according to University of Surrey engineer Robin Sharp, is not to use full power from the start, but to build up to it quickly.

Surprisingly, the wrists do not play a critical role in the swing's outcome, according to the new model. The analysis also shows that while bigger golfers might hit the ball further, it is not by much.

Any golfer will tell you that the idea of swinging harder to hit farther is not as straightforward as it might seem; the new results indicate that how—and when—the power develops is the key to distance. Professor Sharp's work is based on a little-used model in which a golfer employs three points of rotation: the shoulders relative to the spine, the arms relative to the shoulders and the wrists relative to the arms.

http://snipurl.com/555ll


Scientists Work at Recruiting "Good Bugs"
from the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON—For years, it has been easy to walk into a drugstore or health-food outlet and buy a variety of "probiotics"—natural dietary supplements such as Acidophilus or Lactinex—off the shelf to treat conditions such as children's eczema or traveler's diarrhea.

Unlike antibiotics, these self-help products don't kill germs, but they supposedly confer health benefits, the way vitamins and certain minerals do. Existing probiotics haven't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or subjected to rigorous clinical trials. When tested, their effectiveness has been mixed, medical researchers said.

Scientists these days are trying to design "good bugs," novel forms of bacteria created in the laboratory to prevent or cure specific diseases, including HIV and cancer.

http://snipurl.com/555wt


Five Ways Brain Scans Mislead Us
from Scientific American

Over the past few hundred years, as scientists have grappled with understanding the source of the amazing processing power in our skulls, they have employed a number of metaphors based on familiar technologies of their given era. The brain has been thought of as a hydraulic machine (18th century), a mechanical calculator (19th century) and an electronic computer (20th century).

Today, early in the 21st century, we have another metaphor driven by the capabilities of the current technology—this time colorful images from modern brain scans. Evolutionary psychologists, for example, have conceptualized the brain as a Swiss Army knife, with a collection of specialized modules that have evolved to solve specific problems in our evolutionary history ...

... Scientists often use metaphors such as these as aids in understanding and explaining complex processes, but this practice necessarily oversimplifies the intricate and subtle realities of the physical world. As it turns out, the role of those blobs of color that we see in brain images is not as clear-cut as we have been led to believe.

http://snipurl.com/55cld 


Science-Fiction Author Michael Crichton Dies at 66
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Best-selling author Michael Crichton, who wrote such novels as "The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park," and created the popular TV drama "ER," has died at 66, his family said Wednesday.

Crichton, a medical doctor turned novelist whose books have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, died "unexpectedly" Tuesday in Los Angeles after a private battle with cancer, his family said.

... Crichton was born in Chicago on Oct. 23, 1942 and wrote his first novels under pen names while attending Harvard Medical School. "The Andromeda Strain," which was published in 1969, became his first best-seller. In addition to "Jurassic Park" and its sequel, "The Lost World," which became blockbuster Hollywood films, Crichton wrote "Congo," "The Terminal Man," "Prey" and "State of Fear" among others.

http://snipurl.com/55fu9

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 17, 2008, 04:10:46 pm
November 14, 2008

First Images Captured of Alien Solar System
from New Scientist

Two new planetary systems have been imaged in the Milky Way: a star boasting three planetary siblings and another harbouring one at a large distance from its star.

Other candidate planets have been imaged near stars. But the new pictures are the first to capture the slow crawl of the planets around their host stars, confirming that they are indeed orbiting the stars.

"It's great to see the quest for direct imaging of extrasolar planets finally bearing fruit," says Ray Jayawardhana of the University of Toronto, who was not associated with the two new studies. Direct images can detect planets at much greater distances from their stars than the techniques most commonly used today. Such faraway worlds could challenge the prevailing model of how planets form.

http://snipurl.com/5f53s


Young Innovators Learn to Pitch Big Ideas
from the Christian Science Monitor

You've got a world-changing idea. And a passion to make it happen. That's good. But you need a third element: The ability to "pitch" your idea to venture capitalists and others who can help turn your dream into reality.

Budding business tycoons or Hollywood script writers know the importance of marketing themselves and their projects. But those in the nonprofit world, whose goal is altruistic, may never have thought about how to put a dazzling sheen on their quick "elevator pitch."

Learning what goes into a perfect pitch was just one of the practical skills taught to a group of up-and-coming "social innovators" last month at the 12th annual PopTech conference in Camden, Maine. PopTech has always been a place to hear about new ideas to improve the world. But this year, greater efforts have been made to turn those ideas into a reality, says its curator and executive director, Andrew Zolli.

http://snipurl.com/5eymu


U.N. Report Sees New Pollution Threat
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

BEIJING—A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations.

The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, wood-burning kitchen stoves and coal-fired power plants, these plumes of carbon dust rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America. But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are dramatically reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002.

Combined with mounting evidence that greenhouse gases are leading to a rise in global temperatures, the report's authors called on governments both rich and poor to address the problem of carbon emissions.

http://snipurl.com/5exvf 


Same-Sex Heart Transplants Have Better Outcomes, Study Finds
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Heart transplant patients are as much as 25% more likely to survive if the sex of the donor is the same as the patient's, researchers said Wednesday. The results surprised experts because, for most types of transplants, sex differences are irrelevant as long as a good immunocompatability is achieved.

The worst results were in men who received hearts from smaller women, suggesting that the pumping capacity of the organ is crucial to the success of the procedure, according to the study, presented at a New Orleans meeting of the American Heart Assn.

But women were also somewhat more likely to reject transplants from males, perhaps because of lingering immune stimulation from earlier pregnancies, experts said.

http://snipurl.com/5ewll


Advice and Comment
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

From climate change and science education to energy and the space program, President Obama will be faced with a host of pressing issues in science, medicine and technology when he takes office in January.

The choices he makes—and the actions he takes—will affect all of us, immediately and far into the future, in ways both obvious and unforeseen.

Which problems should he tackle first? What is the top priority? What is most important? The San Diego Union-Tribune asked local scientists, doctors, teachers and thinkers for their ideas and insights. 

http://snipurl.com/5eyt3
 

How Rocks Evolve
from the Economist

Evolution has come a long way since Charles Darwin's time. Today it is not only animals and plants that are seen as having evolved over time, but also things that involve the hand of humans, like architecture, music, car design and even governments. Now rocks, too, seem to be showing evolutionary characteristics.

Rocks are made from minerals, which like all matter are composed of individual chemical elements. What makes minerals special is the way that the atoms of those elements are arranged in lattices which create unique crystalline structures and shapes. Today more than 4,000 different minerals can be found on Earth. When the planet began to be formed, however, few existed.

Curious as to how this great variety came about, Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, and a team of colleagues set out on their own voyage of discovery. Their study, just published in American Mineralogist, explores the history of minerals by identifying how much of the diversity was created by the rocks alone and how much of it was created by the evolution of life.

http://snipurl.com/5f4w3 


Exploring Old Rome Without Air (or Time) Travel
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

ROME—First Google Earth turned millions of Internet users into virtual travelers who could fly to any spot on the globe. Then its Sky feature took them to other galaxies. Now Google Earth has embraced a frontier dating back 17 centuries: ancient Rome under Constantine the Great.

Soaring above a virtual reconstruction of the Forum and the Palatine Hill or zooming into the Colosseum to get a lion's-eye view of the stands, Google Earth's 400 million users will be able to explore the ancient capital as easily "as any city can be explored today," Michael T. Jones, chief technology officer of Google Earth, said Wednesday at a news conference at Rome's city hall.

Ancient Rome 3D, as the new feature is known, is a digital elaboration of some 7,000 buildings recreating Rome circa A.D. 320, at the height of Constantine's empire, when more than a million inhabitants lived within the city's Aurelian walls.

http://snipurl.com/5eqos


New Autism Loci Discovered
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

Two large-scale genetic analyses have turned up a trio of new sites associated with autism, including a large-effect allele that seems to reduce the risk of developing the debilitating brain disorder, researchers reported Wednesday at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting in Philadelphia.

Last year, the Autism Genome Project Consortium performed the largest genome-wide linkage scan to date with around 10,000 SNPs in 1,181 families with at least two affected individuals. The group flagged a handful of genomic regions harboring autism susceptibility genes, although none of the linkage results were statistically significant.

Now, a team led by Dan Arking, a geneticist at Johns Hopkins University, has ramped up the SNP count to include around 500,000 markers in 802 affected pairs of siblings. They then eliminated all the error-prone or uninformative SNPs to amass a collection of 180,000 high-quality markers for their analysis. "It's the cleanest best set of markers you can imagine," Arking said at a press conference.

http://snipurl.com/5f58y


New Ice Age Predicted—But Averted by Global Warming?
from National Geographic News

Deep ice sheets would cover much of the Northern Hemisphere thousands of years from now—if it weren't for us pesky humans, a new study says.

Emissions of greenhouse gases—such as the carbon dioxide, or CO2, that comes from power plants and cars—are heating the atmosphere to such an extent that the next ice age, predicted to be the deepest in millions of years, may be postponed indefinitely.

"Climate skeptics could look at this and say, CO2 is good for us," said study leader Thomas Crowley of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. But the idea that global warming may be staving off an ice age is "not cause for relaxing, because we're actually moving into a highly unusual climate state," Crowley added.

http://snipurl.com/5f5ix


Bridge's Fall Blamed on Design
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON—Bridge design errors that went unnoticed for decades and a failure to limit heavy construction on the span led to the Minnesota highway bridge collapse that killed 13 people last year, federal investigators said Thursday.

Fractures in undersized steel plates in the Minneapolis I-35W bridge ultimately caused the structure to shift and break apart on Aug. 1, 2007, according to testimony at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing.

Some 111 vehicles were on the deck truss bridge spanning the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis during the evening rush hour when some of the main trusses failed, causing about 1,000 feet of the bridge to fall into the river.

http://snipurl.com/5gh5i

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on November 17, 2008, 05:50:03 pm
   

The world has never seen such freezing heat

By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 16/11/2008

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/11/16/do1610.xml
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on November 17, 2008, 05:52:35 pm
How Rocks Evolve
from the Economist

Evolution has come a long way since Charles Darwin's time. Today it is not only animals and plants that are seen as having evolved over time, but also things that involve the hand of humans, like architecture, music, car design and even governments. Now rocks, too, seem to be showing evolutionary characteristics.

Rocks are made from minerals, which like all matter are composed of individual chemical elements. What makes minerals special is the way that the atoms of those elements are arranged in lattices which create unique crystalline structures and shapes. Today more than 4,000 different minerals can be found on Earth. When the planet began to be formed, however, few existed.

Curious as to how this great variety came about, Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, and a team of colleagues set out on their own voyage of discovery. Their study, just published in American Mineralogist, explores the history of minerals by identifying how much of the diversity was created by the rocks alone and how much of it was created by the evolution of life.
As if there aren't enough people out there confused by the theory of evolution.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 17, 2008, 10:20:31 pm
Ugh. Yeah.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 19, 2008, 02:29:43 am
November 17, 2008

Mockingbird Specimens Sparked Darwin's Theory
from the Guardian (UK)

The significance of the two birds lying side by side on a purple cushion with tags dangling from their feet is easy to miss. But the subtle differences—a strip of white on the wing, a smudge of dark on the breast—set Charles Darwin on course to develop the most important scientific theory ever conceived: the evolution of species through natural selection.

The mockingbirds are perhaps the most important specimens Darwin collected from the Galapagos during his five-year voyage aboard HMS Beagle in the 1830s, and today they go on show as part of a major exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London.

It reveals Darwin as a tenacious scientist, a pragmatic lover, and a man pained by losing his religion. The exhibition is the centrepiece of a nationwide programme to mark the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birthday next February.

http://snipurl.com/5mtfy


The Child Trap: The Rise of Overparenting
from the New Yorker

... It used to be known as "spoiling." Now it is called "overparenting"—or "helicopter parenting" or "hothouse parenting" or "death-grip parenting." The term has changed because the pattern has changed.

It still includes spoiling—no rules, many toys—but two other, complicating factors have been added. One is anxiety. Will the child be permanently affected by the fate of the [late lamented] hamster? Did he touch the corpse, and get a germ? The other new element—at odds, it seems, with such solicitude—is achievement pressure.

The heck with the child's feelings. He has a nursery-school interview tomorrow. Will he be accepted? If not, how will he ever get into a good college? Overparenting is the subject of a number of recent books, and they all deplore it in the strongest possible terms.

http://snipurl.com/5mk0s


Bounty Lies Ahead in Scallop Fishery
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

Scallop fishermen on the East Coast can look forward to a big catch of the succulent shellfish a few years from now, a recent survey of sea scallops from Massachusetts to North Carolina suggests.

The survey, conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, found a spike in the number of young scallops or "recruits" that keep a fishery thriving.

After six poor years for recruits, Georges Bank, a prime fishing ground stretching from Newfoundland to Cape Cod, had its highest number of the small scallops since 2000, and the mid-Atlantic region had nearly its highest population of them since 1979.

http://snipurl.com/5ml0r


EPA Advisers Seek Perchlorate Review
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The Environmental Protection Agency's scientific advisers have warned the agency that it should delay final action on its decision not to set a federal drinking-water standard for perchlorate, a chemical in rocket fuel, because the computer model underlying the decision may have flaws.

In a letter last week, the heads of EPA's Science Advisory Board and its drinking water committee urged EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson to extend the public comment period on its preliminary determination to not regulate perchlorate. That decision is set to become final next month.

Perchlorate, which is present in the water systems of 35 states, accumulates in the body from consuming water, milk, lettuce and other common products and has been linked in scientific studies to thyroid problems in pregnant women, newborns and infants.

http://snipurl.com/5mknn


That Burger You're Eating Is Mostly Corn
from Scientific American

If you thought you were eating mostly grass-fed beef when you bit into a Big Mac, think again: The bulk of a fast-food hamburger from McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's is made from cows that eat primarily corn, or so says a new study of the chemical composition of more than 480 fast-food burgers from across the nation.

And it isn't only cows that are eating corn. There is also evidence of a corn diet in chicken sandwiches, and even French fries get a good slathering of the fat that makes them so tasty from being fried in corn oil.

"Corn has been criticized as being unsustainable based on the unusual amount of fertilizer, water and machinery required to bring it to harvest," says geobiologist Hope Jahren of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, who led the research. "We are getting a picture of the American diet on a national scale by using chemistry, which is quite objective."

http://snipurl.com/5f5dm


Science Reporting by Press Release
from the Columbia Journalism Review

A dirty little secret of journalism has always been the degree to which some reporters rely on press releases and public relations offices as sources for stories. But recent newsroom cutbacks and increased pressure to churn out online news have given publicity operations even greater prominence in science coverage.

"What is distressing to me is that the number of science reporters and the variety of reporting is going down. What does come out is more and more the direct product of PR shops," said Charles Petit, a veteran science reporter and media critic, in an interview.

Petit has been running MIT's online Knight Science Journalism Tracker since 2006, where he has posted more than 4,000 critiques involving approximately 20,000 articles.

http://snipurl.com/5hi5t


Tiny Radio Tags Offer Rare Glimpse into Bees' Universe
from National Geographic News

... Honeybees contribute some $15 billion to the U.S. economy every year, pollinating 90 major crops, everything from fruits to nuts. Most of us take these foods for granted, rarely realizing the vital role tiny creatures play in making them thrive.

Put simply, says zoologist Martin Wikelski, "Everything depends on pollinators." That's one reason this leader in the study of small-animal migration has begun examining the mostly unknown universe of bee movement.

Wikelski is pioneering the use of supersmall radio tracking tags that fit on the backs of bees, a technological breakthrough that may provide him and other scientists with a direct view of the pollinators' flight patterns.

http://snipurl.com/5mubg


Feed Your Brain: News from Neuroscience
from Science News

WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than 30,000 neuroscientists from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C., November 15–19 for the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Presentations covered the science of nerves and brains on scales from molecules to societies.

From among the first day's presentations, Science News staffers report on the latest neural insights into psychopaths, liars and baby rats separated from their mothers, as well as new research on how a tiny parasite disrupts rats' ingrained fear of cats and how a rat mother's favoritism for outgoing pups influences developing social skills.

http://snipurl.com/5muoa


Long-Lost Lunar Photos Get Another Day in the Sun
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)—The old moon has never looked this good. Mankind's first up-close photos of the lunar landscape have been rescued from four decades of dusty storage, and they've been restored to such a high quality that they rival anything taken by modern cameras.
 
NASA and some private space business leaders spent a quarter million dollars rescuing the historic photos from early NASA lunar robotic probes and restoring them in an abandoned McDonald's.

The first refurbished image was released Thursday—a classic of the moon with Earth rising in the background. "This is an incredible image," said private space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo, who spearheaded the project.

http://snipurl.com/5mvbi


Study: Vitamin C, E Pills Do Not Prevent Cancer
from USA Today

(Associated Press)—Vitamin C or E pills do not help prevent cancer in men, concludes the same big study that last week found these supplements ineffective for warding off heart disease.

The public has been whipsawed by good and bad news about vitamins, much of it from test-tube or animal studies and hyped manufacturer claims. Even when researchers compare people's diets and find that a vitamin seems to help, the benefit may not translate when that nutrient is obtained a different way, such as a pill.

"Antioxidants, which include vitamin C and vitamin E, have been shown as a group to have potential benefit," but have not been tested individually for a long enough time to know, said Howard Sesso of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

http://snipurl.com/5pgjo

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 19, 2008, 12:26:41 pm
November 18, 2008

Report to Congress: Gulf War Syndrome Is Real
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Contradicting nearly two decades of government denials, a congressionally mandated scientific panel has concluded that Gulf War syndrome is real and still afflicts nearly a quarter of the 700,000 U.S. troops who served in the 1991 conflict.

The report cited two chemical exposures consistently associated with the disorder: the drug pyridostigmine bromide, given to troops to protect against nerve gas, and pesticides that were widely used—and often overused—to protect against sand flies and other pests.

"The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is a result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time," according to the report presented today to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake.

http://snipurl.com/5puf2


In Bias Test, Shades of Gray
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Last year, a team of researchers at Harvard made headlines with an experiment testing unconscious bias at hospitals. Doctors were shown the picture of a 50-year-old man—sometimes black, sometimes white—and asked how they would treat him if he arrived at the emergency room with chest pains indicating a possible heart attack. Then the doctors took a computer test intended to reveal unconscious racial bias.

The doctors who scored higher on the bias test were less likely than the other doctors to give clot-busting drugs to the black patients, according to the researchers, who suggested addressing the problem by encouraging doctors to test themselves for unconscious bias.

The results were hailed by other psychologists as some of the strongest evidence that unconscious bias leads to harmful discrimination. But then two other researchers, Neal Dawson and Hal Arkes, pointed out a curious pattern in the data.

http://snipurl.com/5rl6h


16th-Century Mapmaker's Intriguing Knowledge
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

How was it that a German priest writing in Latin and living in a French city far from the coast became the first person to tell the world that a vast ocean lay to the west of the American continents? That is one of the bigger mysteries in the history of the Renaissance.

But it is not the only one involving Martin Waldseemueller, a map-making cleric whose own story is sufficiently obscure that his birth and death dates aren't known for certain.

Waldseemueller appears to have also known something about the contours of South America's west coast years before Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and Ferdinand Magellan sailed around the bottom of the continent. History books record them as the first Europeans to bring back knowledge of the Pacific Ocean.

http://snipurl.com/5rlpw 


Wind from the North
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

WEST CAPE, Prince Edward Island—Scattered across remote potato fields here, soaring white wind turbines generate electricity for a surprising customer 650 miles to the south: Massachusetts.

And much more Canadian renewable energy could be coming. From the rolling farmlands of the Maritime provinces to the shores of Lake Ontario, developers are building or planning nearly four dozen wind and hydroelectric projects in the next four years, enough to power more than a million homes.

Canada is the biggest exporter of oil to the United States, and one might expect environmentalists to cheer the prospect of exchanging a little of our dependence on foreign oil for dependence on foreign wind. But some fear that a flood of clean power from Canada will undercut New England's efforts to become a national leader in green energy and technology.

http://snipurl.com/5rlyg 


Woolly Rhino's Ancient Migration
from BBC News Online

Palaeontologists have pieced together the fossilised skull of the oldest example yet found of a woolly rhinoceros in Europe.

The 460,000-year-old skull, which was found in Germany, had to be reconstructed from 53 fragments. The extinct mammals reached a length of three-and-a-half metres in adulthood and, unlike their modern relatives, were covered in shaggy hair.

Details of the work appear in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. The team says the find from Germany fills a gap in our understanding of how these animals evolved.

http://snipurl.com/5rmhu


Memory Loss: Special Report
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

We collect memories well into adulthood, but at some point, we start to lose them. How to tell the difference between memory lapse and signs of a disorder?

The L.A. Times provides a series of articles on the early warning signs of Alzhimer's disease, how much our bad habits and lifestyle choices may affect memory and tips for preventing memory loss, among other topics.

Other articles in the series focus on case studies and interviews that explore the causes and impact of forgetfulness.

http://snipurl.com/5puc1


World's Oldest Nuclear Family Unearthed in Germany
from the Guardian (UK)

DNA extracted from bones and teeth in a 4,600-year-old stone age burial has provided the earliest evidence for the nuclear family as a social structure. The find consists of two parents and two sons who were buried together after being killed in a violent conflict over some of the most fertile farming land in Europe.

The archaeologists who examined the bones said the burial provides evidence of a shift in social organisation from communal living to societies with large social differences between people.

"It provides evidence that will allow us to understand the rise of societies that are more modern," said Dr Alistair Pike, an archaeologist at Bristol University who was a member of the team.

http://snipurl.com/5rmwd


Big Particle Collider Repairs to Cost $21 Million
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

GENEVA (Associated Press)—Fixing the world's largest atom smasher will cost at least 25 million francs ($21 million) and may take until early summer, its operator said Monday.

An electrical failure shut down the Large Hadron Collider on Sept. 19, nine days after the $10 billion machine started up with great fanfare. The European Organization for Nuclear Research recently said that the repairs would be completed by May or early June.

Spokesman James Gillies said the organization know as CERN is now estimating the restart will be at the end of June or later. "If we can do it sooner, all well and good. But I think we can do it realistically (in) early summer," he said. The organization has blamed the shutdown on the failure of a single, badly soldered electrical connection.

http://snipurl.com/5rnl7


Study: Scrutiny Has Chilling Effect on Scientists
from the Philadelphia Inquirer

When Pennsylvania's Patrick Toomey criticized a small group of federally funded sex studies—demanding "Who thinks this stuff up?" on the floor of Congress—his proposal to yank the funding was narrowly defeated.

A subsequent federal review of nearly 200 research grants, most of them sex- or drug-related, found that all had public-health value—with goals such as preventing the spread of AIDS. At the time, it seemed as if Toomey and other critics, such as the nonprofit Traditional Values Coalition, had failed. Perhaps not entirely, according to a new survey by a Rutgers University sociologist.

The 2003 controversy had a "chilling effect" on many of the researchers in question, leading some to drop important lines of research and a few to change jobs, survey author Joanna Kempner found. Of the 82 sex researchers surveyed, more than half said they now remove sex-related "red flag" words from the titles and summaries of their grant proposals. Removed words or phrases included "gay," "lesbian," "bathhouses" and "needle exchange."

http://snipurl.com/5rnud 


Life Viewed Through the Microscope
from Scientific American

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it is also in the eye of a honeybee, the eggs of a lobster and the surface of petrified wood—as is evident from a selection of images entered in the 2008 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition.

In its fifth year, the competition honors superior images of living organisms or their components attained with the help of light microscopy.

The judges chose 10 winners and awarded honorable mention to many others, evaluating entries based on the scientific value of the images, aesthetics and the difficulty of capturing the information displayed. This year, as in the past, competitors were free to bring out specific features through pseudo-coloring and other computer enhancements.

http://snipurl.com/5rorf

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 24, 2008, 03:32:32 am
November 21, 2008

Teenagers' Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation.

"It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it's on MySpace or sending instant messages," said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, "Living and Learning With New Media." "But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world ..."

... The study, part of a $50 million project on digital and media learning, used several teams of researchers to interview more than 800 young people and their parents and to observe teenagers online for more than 5,000 hours.

http://snipurl.com/62cpl


New Finds at King Herod's Tomb: 2,000-Year-Old Frescoes
from National Geographic News

Archaeologists exploring King Herod's tomb complex near Jerusalem have uncovered rare Roman paintings as well as two sarcophagi, or stone coffins, that could have contained the remains of Herod's sons.

In May 2007, veteran Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer solved one of Israel's great archaeological mysteries when he first uncovered the remains of Herod's first century-B.C. grave at the Herodium complex, located 9 miles south of Jerusalem.

King Herod, appointed by the Romans to rule Judea between 37 and 4 B.C., is renowned for his monumental construction projects, including the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the Caesarea complex, and the palace atop Masada. Herod constructed Herodium as a massive and lavish administrative, residential, and burial center.

http://snipurl.com/62d9d


USDA Panel Approves Rules for Labeling Farmed Fish 'Organic'
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

For the first time, a federal advisory board has approved criteria that clear the way for farmed fish to be labeled "organic," a move that pleased aquaculture producers even as it angered environmentalists and consumer advocates.

The question of whether farmed fish could be labeled organic—especially carnivorous species such as salmon that live in open-ocean net pens and consume vast amounts of smaller fish—has vexed scientists and federal regulators for years.

The standards approved Wednesday by the National Organic Standards Board would allow organic fish farmers to use wild fish as part of their feed mix provided it did not exceed 25 percent of the total and did not come from forage species, such as menhaden, that have declined sharply as the demand for farmed fish has skyrocketed.

http://snipurl.com/62e6p


Gobekli Tepe: The World's First Temple?
from Smithsonian Magazine

Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery.

The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it's the site of the world's oldest temple.

... Gobekli Tepe sits at the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent—an arc of mild climate and arable land from the Persian Gulf to present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt—and would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant. And partly because Schmidt has found no evidence that people permanently resided on the summit of Gobekli Tepe itself, he believes this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity's first "cathedral on a hill."

http://snipurl.com/62sup


Plumbing the Oceans Could Bring Limitless Clean Energy
from New Scientist

For a company whose business is rocket science Lockheed Martin has been paying unusual attention to plumbing of late. The aerospace giant has kept its engineers occupied for the past 12 months poring over designs for what amounts to a very long fibreglass pipe.

It is, of course, no ordinary pipe but an integral part of the technology behind Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), a clean, renewable energy source that has the potential to free many economies from their dependence on oil.

"This has the potential to become the biggest source of renewable energy in the world," says Robert Cohen, who headed the US federal ocean thermal energy programme in the early 1970s.

http://snipurl.com/62tad


Desert Drawn: A Hard Place
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

To the casual eye, the old Freeman property west of the Salton Sea is a corrugated landscape of sandy washes and barren wasteland, a bit of low desert baking in the heat of a late October sun.

But Brad Hollingsworth, curator of herpetology at the San Diego Natural History Museum, knows the emptiness is a mirage. Though hardly fecund with life, this parched patch of land is home—or could be home—to an enormously diverse variety of wildlife, from the hairy scorpions, flat-tailed horned lizards and sidewinders that Hollingsworth studies to prairie falcons, bobcats and the occasional bighorn sheep that come down from the rust-colored Santa Rosa Mountains to forage.

"It's a matter of perception," Hollingsworth says, squinting in the bright sunlight. "If you don't know what you're looking for, there seems to be nothing here, just a big, empty desert."

http://snipurl.com/62tvv 


Iron Age Neckband Discovered by Man and His Metal Detector
from the Daily Mail (UK)

For 40 years, Maurice Richardson has been braving all weathers to scour the countryside with his trusty metal detector, dreaming of buried treasure. But he almost ignored an unpromising-sounding beep as he searched for debris from a wartime air crash while being pelted with rain.

However the 59-year-old is glad his curiosity got the better of him after his persistence in digging through more than two feet of Nottinghamshire mud yielded a stunning 2,000-year-old gold treasure.

Now the artefact, an Iron Age torc, has been sold for a mammoth £350,000, and Tuesday it was unveiled at the British Museum as the most valuable discovery in recent times.

http://snipurl.com/62vz4


Criminology: Can the Can
from the Economist

A place that is covered in graffiti and festooned with rubbish makes people feel uneasy. And with good reason, according to a group of researchers in the Netherlands. Kees Keizer and his colleagues at the University of Groningen deliberately created such settings as a part of a series of experiments designed to discover if signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave.

They found that they could, by a lot: doubling the number who are prepared to litter and steal. The idea that observing disorder can have a psychological effect on people has been around for a while.

In the late 1980s George Kelling, a former probation officer who now works at Rutgers University, initiated what became a vigorous campaign to remove graffiti from New York City's subway system, which was followed by a reduction in petty crime. ... But the idea remains a controversial one, not least because it is often difficult to account for other factors that could influence crime reduction ...

http://snipurl.com/63ess


Risk of Lung, Other Cancers Soars for People with HIV
from the Baltimore Sun

Twenty-five years ago, a diagnosis of AIDS was a nearly immediate death sentence.

But now that patients with the AIDS virus are living longer, doctors are discovering a new set of complications: People with HIV have a much higher risk of developing certain cancers—lung, liver, head and neck, to name a few—and doctors fear that a cancer epidemic among this group could be coming.

Researchers in Maryland, home to one of the nation's largest AIDS populations per capita, are among the leaders in an effort to solve what has become something of a medical mystery. "We're seeing people we have treated successfully for HIV at much higher risk" for cancer, said Dr. Kevin J. Cullen, director of the University of Maryland's Greenebaum Cancer Center. "The reasons aren't fully understood."

http://snipurl.com/63gat


Artificial Heart Keeps Teen Alive for 118 Days
from the Miami Herald (Registration Required)

Wearing a hospital mask over her face and a long scar on her chest, 14-year-old D'Zhana Simmons stood up from her wheelchair. She took a few tentative steps, sat down in front of the TV cameras and began to talk.

Barely audible, D'Zhana told how she lived for 118 days without a heart, in limbo between transplant operations, her blood circulated by a pair of mechanical pumps. "Thank you," she said Wednesday, holding back tears, to the Holtz Children's Hospital transplant doctors sitting with her.

From July 4, when a first heart transplant failed, until Oct. 29, when she was well enough for another heart, D'Zhana's chest cavity was empty, doctors said. Beside her during that time was an artificial heart with two pumps. One took over for the heart's right ventricle, pumping blood to the girl's lungs; the other did the work of the left ventricle, pumping blood through her body.

http://snipurl.com/63hpy

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on November 25, 2008, 05:16:43 pm
November 24, 2008

Vast Mars Glaciers Are Spotted
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

In a discovery that partly answers the question of where all the water went on Mars, scientists have found vast, debris-covered glaciers much nearer the equatorial region than anyone had expected, according to a report Friday in the journal Science.

The glaciers, estimated to contain at least as much water as Lake Huron and possibly as much as the entire Great Lakes, were found by ground-penetrating radar on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

"We have found a big chunk of the missing water that people have known must be there," said Ali Safaeinili, a member of the radar team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.

http://snipurl.com/6idso 


Massive Prehistoric Fort Emerges From Welsh Woods
from National Geographic News

Cloaked by time's leafy shroud, the prehistoric settlement of Gaer Fawr lies all but invisible beneath a forest in the lush Welsh countryside.

It's hard to imagine how it once dominated the landscape: a massive Iron Age fortress commanded by warrior chiefs who loomed over the everyday lives of their people.

But now we can, thanks to a digital recreation of the 2,900-year-old site following a painstaking survey by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. The Iron Age hill fort in central Wales was a major feat of civil engineering, researchers say.

http://snipurl.com/69l24


Foes of Stem Cell Research Now Face Tough Battle
from the San Francisco Chronicle

(Associated Press)—When the Bush presidency ends, opponents of embryonic stem cell research will face a new political reality that many feel powerless to stop.

President-elect Barack Obama is expected to lift restrictions on federal money for such research. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also has expressed interest in going ahead with legislation in the first 100 days of the new Congress if it still is necessary to set up a regulatory framework.

"We may lose it, but we're going to continually fight it and offer the ethical alternative," said Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa. "I don't know what the votes will be in the new Congress ... but it's very possible we could lose this thing."

http://snipurl.com/6ie98 


New Rule Would Discount Warming as Risk Factor for Species
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act that would ensure that federal agencies would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to imperiled plants and animals.

The proposed rule changes, which were obtained by The Washington Post, are under review by the Office of Management and Budget and are close to being published in the Federal Register.

The main purpose of the new regulations, which were first unveiled in August, is to eliminate a long-standing provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires an independent scientific review by either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of any federal project that could affect a protected species.

http://snipurl.com/6iezt


Humans and Light Pollution Blamed as Fireflies Disappear
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

BAN LOMTUAN, Thailand—Thousands of fireflies fill the branches of trees along the Mae Klong River, flashing on and off in unison—relentless and silent, two times a second, deep into the night. Nobody knows why.

The fireflies, all males, sit on the tips of the leaves and synchronize their flashes into a single mating call—and then continue without a pause as if they were driven by an invisible motor.

"It's one of the most amazing things you'll ever see," said Sara Lewis, a professor of biology at Tufts University. Evolutionary biologists have studied synchronous flashing for 200 years, she said, and it remains a mystery.

http://snipurl.com/6iflb


Teed Up: The Long-Haul Golf Ball
from the Times (London)

It has long been known that the secret of how far a golf ball flies lies in its dimples. Now scientists believe they understand the forces at work, as air flows over the ball's surface.

Their work could be the key to a new generation of far more accurate, ultra-long-distance golf balls.

They cracked the problem by deploying the kind of extreme computing power usually reserved for predicting global weather patterns or the behaviour of sub-atomic particles. However, a set of super-computers ... still had to run for 300 hours before they were able to see the exact flow of air around a ball, and its dimples, in flight.

http://snipurl.com/6ih3v


Where Environment Is Just Right for Learning
from the Philadelphia Inquirer

STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J.—As Caitlin Campbell was growing up at the Jersey Shore, the little worlds within the world around her—the flocks of egrets, the pods of migrating dolphins, the scores of tiny minnows she could scoop up in her hands—captured her attention longer than any video game or television program.

So in the eighth grade when she learned about a program called MATES, a first-of-its-kind Ocean County high school where she could delve so deeply into marine and environmental sciences that some courses could be credited toward college, she was onboard.

"I realized I could take a passion and an interest I have for the environment and the water and channel into something positive, into a future career," said Campbell, 17, a senior from Brick Township and one of 230 students at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science.

http://snipurl.com/6iinl


Copernicus' Grave, Remains Confirmed by DNA Testing
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WARSAW, Poland (Associated Press)—Researchers on Thursday said they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton and hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books.

The findings could put an end to centuries of speculation about the exact resting spot of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe.

Polish archaeologist Jerzy Gassowski told a news conference that forensic facial reconstruction of the skull, missing the lower jaw, that his team found in 2005 buried in a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Frombork, Poland, bears striking resemblance to existing portraits of Copernicus.

http://snipurl.com/6ij15


Astronauts Try to Work Out Kinks in Urine Machine
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

HOUSTON (Associated Press)—Astronauts hope they have a solution for getting a pivotal piece of equipment working so it can convert urine and sweat into drinkable water and allow the international space station to grow to six crew members.

Flight controllers asked station commander Michael Fincke on Sunday to change how a centrifuge is mounted in the $154 million water recycling system. The centrifuge is on mounts and Mission Control asked Fincke to remove them.

... The astronauts have been working for the past three days to get the system running so that it can generate samples for testing back on Earth, but the urine processor only operates for two hours at a time before shutting down.

http://snipurl.com/6ik64


Brain Reorganizes to Make Room for Math
from Science News

WASHINGTON—It takes years for children to master the ins and outs of arithmetic. New research indicates that this learning process triggers a large-scale reorganization of brain processes involved in understanding written symbols for various quantities.

The findings support the idea that humans' ability to match specific quantities with number symbols, a skill required for doing arithmetic, builds on a brain system that is used for estimating approximate quantities. That brain system is seen in many nonhuman animals.

When performing operations with Arabic numerals, young adults, but not school-age children, show pronounced activity in a piece of brain tissue called the left superior temporal gyrus, says Daniel Ansari of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Earlier studies have linked this region to the ability to associate speech sounds with written letters, and musical sounds with written notes.

http://snipurl.com/6ikun

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on November 25, 2008, 06:26:08 pm
Foes of Stem Cell Research Now Face Tough Battle
from the San Francisco Chronicle

(Associated Press)—When the Bush presidency ends, opponents of embryonic stem cell research will face a new political reality that many feel powerless to stop.

President-elect Barack Obama is expected to lift restrictions on federal money for such research. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also has expressed interest in going ahead with legislation in the first 100 days of the new Congress if it still is necessary to set up a regulatory framework.

"We may lose it, but we're going to continually fight it and offer the ethical alternative," said Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa. "I don't know what the votes will be in the new Congress ... but it's very possible we could lose this thing."

http://snipurl.com/6ie98 


(http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/609/smallestviolinwz4.jpg)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cainad (dec.) on November 26, 2008, 02:34:04 am
Quote
Criminology: Can the Can
from the Economist

A place that is covered in graffiti and festooned with rubbish makes people feel uneasy. And with good reason, according to a group of researchers in the Netherlands. Kees Keizer and his colleagues at the University of Groningen deliberately created such settings as a part of a series of experiments designed to discover if signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave.

They found that they could, by a lot: doubling the number who are prepared to litter and steal. The idea that observing disorder can have a psychological effect on people has been around for a while.

In the late 1980s George Kelling, a former probation officer who now works at Rutgers University, initiated what became a vigorous campaign to remove graffiti from New York City's subway system, which was followed by a reduction in petty crime. ... But the idea remains a controversial one, not least because it is often difficult to account for other factors that could influence crime reduction ...

http://snipurl.com/63ess

That is cool.

I mean, that is REALLY cool. I wonder what it can tell us about PosterGASMing and other activities that make places seem weirder without damaging them.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on November 28, 2008, 09:51:20 pm
I don't like it, in fact. IMO, Graffiti can be used to pretty up otherwise boring places, and I'd be sad if it's coupled with a rise in criminal activity. But it's probably part of the general "messy" feeling it gives, so I suppose that "tagged" (stupid scribbles) walls and alleys are worse than the ones with colourful "pieces" (art) on them.

Also, that's my university. I wonder if this Kees Keizer guy did the experiments in my hometown as well, in which case I should try to find the locations, right?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on November 28, 2008, 09:54:40 pm
wait i should read the article first, the experiments they conducted were pretty cool:

Quote
His group’s first study was conducted in an alley that is frequently used to park bicycles. As in all of their experiments, the researchers created two conditions: one of order and the other of disorder. In the former, the walls of the alley were freshly painted; in the latter, they were tagged with graffiti (but not elaborately, to avoid the perception that it might be art). In both states a large sign prohibiting graffiti was put up, so that it would not be missed by anyone who came to collect a bicycle. All the bikes then had a flyer promoting a non-existent sports shop attached to their handlebars. This needed to be removed before a bicycle could be ridden.

When owners returned, their behaviour was secretly observed. There were no rubbish bins in the alley, so a cyclist had three choices. He could take the flyer with him, hang it on another bicycle (which the researchers counted as littering) or throw it to the floor. When the alley contained graffiti, 69% of the riders littered compared with 33% when the walls were clean.

To remove one possible bias—that litter encourages more litter—the researchers inconspicuously picked up each castaway flyer. Nor, they say, could the effect be explained by litterers assuming that because the spraying of graffiti had not been prevented, it was also unlikely that they would be caught. Littering, Dr Keizer observes, is generally tolerated by the police in Groningen.

Quote
The other experiments were carried out in a similar way. In one, a temporary fence was used to close off a short cut to a car park, except for a narrow gap. Two signs were erected, one telling people there was no throughway and the other saying that bicycles must not be left locked to the fence. In the “order” condition (with four bicycles parked nearby, but not locked to the fence) 27% of people were prepared to trespass by stepping through the gap, whereas in the disorder condition (with the four bikes locked to the fence, in violation of the sign) 82% took the short cut.

Nor were the effects limited to visual observation of petty criminal behaviour. It is against the law to let off fireworks in the Netherlands for several weeks before New Year’s Eve. So two weeks before the festival the researchers randomly let off firecrackers near a bicycle shed at a main railway station and watched what happened using their flyer technique. With no fireworks, 48% of people took the flyers with them when they collected their bikes. With fireworks, this fell to 20%.

The most dramatic result, though, was the one that showed a doubling in the number of people who were prepared to steal in a condition of disorder. In this case an envelope with a €5 ($6) note inside (and the note clearly visible through the address window) was left sticking out of a post box. In a condition of order, 13% of those passing took the envelope (instead of leaving it or pushing it into the box). But if the post box was covered in graffiti, 27% did. Even if the post box had no graffiti on it, but the area around it was littered with paper, orange peel, cigarette butts and empty cans, 25% still took the envelope.

The researchers’ conclusion is that one example of disorder, like graffiti or littering, can indeed encourage another, like stealing. Dr Kelling was right. The message for policymakers and police officers is that clearing up graffiti or littering promptly could help fight the spread of crime.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 05, 2008, 03:49:04 am
December 3, 2008

U.S. Lags In Providing College Access, Study Finds
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Other countries are outpacing the United States in providing access to college, eroding an educational advantage the nation has enjoyed for decades, according to a study released today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

The nonprofit research group contends that if left unaddressed, the development will harm U.S. competitiveness in the near future.

"I don't know what it's going to take to get our nation to wake up to what's happening with regard to the education deficit we're building," said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, who will present a similar study by the College Board on improving access to higher education next week.

http://snipurl.com/72ke3


Triple Helix: Designing a New Molecule of Life
from Scientific American

For all the magnificent diversity of life on this planet, ranging from tiny bacteria to majestic blue whales, from sunshine-harvesting plants to mineral-digesting endoliths miles underground, only one kind of "life as we know it" exists.

All these organisms are based on nucleic acids—DNA and RNA—and proteins, working together more or less as described by the so-called central dogma of molecular biology: DNA stores information that is transcribed into RNA, which then serves as a template for producing a protein. The proteins, in turn, serve as important structural elements in tissues and, as enzymes, are the cell's workhorses.

Yet scientists dream of synthesizing life that is utterly alien to this world—both to better understand the minimum components required for life (as part of the quest to uncover the essence of life and how life originated on earth) and, frankly, to see if they can do it. That is, they hope to put together a novel combination of molecules that can self-organize, metabolize (make use of an energy source), grow, reproduce and evolve.

http://snipurl.com/71hru 


Amphibian Extinctions: Is Global Warming Off the Hook?
from National Geographic News

The world's amphibians are in dire straits—but global warming may not be the problem, a new study suggests. Previous research has pinned steep declines in amphibian species on rising global temperatures, which are said to be fueling the growth of a deadly fungus.

Most experts agree that the disease-causing chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is taking a terrible toll on frogs and toads. One in three species worldwide is threatened with extinction.

"There seems to be convincing evidence that chytrid fungus is the bullet killing amphibians," said University of South Florida biologist Jason Rohr, lead author of the study, published in a recent issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "But the evidence that climate change is pulling the trigger is weak at this point."

http://snipurl.com/71hl5


Top 10 Innovations of 2008
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

The life sciences move fast. Across the globe, companies are constantly churning out new products that they say will make your research smarter.

For six years, the Scientist has ranked the vendors of life science equipment in its Life Science Industry Awards. Now, to recognize winning combinations of invention, vision and utility, the magazine presents its first-ever ranking of the best innovations to hit the life science market in the past year.

A panel of expert judges was asked to sort through the year's offerings and pick the ones likely to have the biggest impact. Our judges—David Piston, Simon Watkins, Klaus Hahn, and Steven Wiley—are all known for pushing the technical boundaries, and have collectively published more than 700 scholarly articles.

http://snipurl.com/718at


Born to Run? Little Ones Get Test for Sports Gene
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

BOULDER, Colo.—When Donna Campiglia learned recently that a genetic test might be able to determine which sports suit the talents of her 2 ½-year-old son, Noah, she instantly said, Where can I get it and how much does it cost?

... In health-conscious, sports-oriented Boulder, Atlas Sports Genetics is playing into the obsessions of parents by offering a $149 test that aims to predict a child's natural athletic strengths. The process is simple. Swab inside the child's cheek and along the gums to collect DNA and return it to a lab for analysis of ACTN3, one gene among more than 20,000 in the human genome.

... In this era of genetic testing, DNA is being analyzed to determine predispositions to disease, but experts raise serious questions about marketing it as a first step in finding a child's sports niche ...

http://snipurl.com/6ykjn


Stress Reduction: Why You Need to Get a Grip and How
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Stocks are falling. Companies are handing out pink slips. Home values are collapsing. Financial icons are folding. And Americans' stress is rising.

The 2008 Stress in America survey, conducted by the American Psychological Assn. and released in October, found that stress levels have increased significantly over the last two years, particularly in the last six months. Money and the economy top the list of concerns.

As the economy plummets and stress levels soar, people need to find ways to manage their stress—or more than their investments will suffer. Chronic unresolved stress weakens the immune system, ... and when stress increases, so does inflammation, contributing to stroke, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, periodontal disease and frailty. Additionally, studies have shown, the cumulative effects of unresolved psychological stress contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.

http://snipurl.com/6zvzm


A Land Rush in Wyoming Spurred by Wind Power
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WHEATLAND, Wyo.—The man who came to Elsie Bacon's ranch house door in July asked the 71-year-old widow to grant access to a right of way across the dry hills and short grasses of her land here. Ms. Bacon remembered his insistence on a quick, secret deal.

The man, a representative of the Little Rose Wind Farm of Boulder, Colo., sought an easement for a transmission line to carry his company's wind-generated electricity to market. ...

A quiet land rush is under way among the buttes of southeastern Wyoming, and it is changing the local rancher culture. The whipping winds cursed by descendants of the original homesteaders now have real value for out-of-state developers who dream of wind farms or of selling the rights to bigger companies.

http://snipurl.com/6ykov


Experts Debate CyberKnife for Prostate Cancer
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

When Georgetown University Hospital bought a new high-tech system in 2001 to treat patients with radiation, doctors at first used the computerized, robotic device only for brain and spinal tumors that would be difficult if not impossible to fight any other way.

But Georgetown, along with Virginia Hospital Center and others around the country, is now aggressively marketing the $4 million machine, known as the CyberKnife, for early prostate cancer, one of the most common cancers. That trend has sparked an intense debate about whether it represents an important advancement or the latest example of an expensive and potentially profitable new technology proliferating too soon.

While its advocates say the CyberKnife offers prostate cancer patients a safe and effective—and much more convenient—alternative to traditional radiation treatment, many experts fear that it could leave many men unnecessarily vulnerable to recurrences or potentially serious complications.

http://snipurl.com/6wkos


Food Crunch Opens Doors to Bioengineered Crops
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

KUNMING, China (Associated Press)—Zeng Yawen's outdoor laboratory in the terraced hills of southern China is a trove of genetic potential—rice that thrives in unusually cool temperatures, high altitudes or in dry soil; rice rich in calcium, vitamins or iron.
 
"See these plants? They can tolerate the cold," Zeng says as he walks through a checkerboard of test fields sown with different rice varieties on the outskirts of Kunming, capital of southwestern China's Yunnan province. "We can extract the cold-tolerant gene from this plant and use it in a genetically manipulated variety to improve its cold tolerance ..."

In a mountainous place like Yunnan, and in many other parts of the developing world, such advantages can tip the balance between hunger and a decent living. And China is now ready to tip that scale in favor of genetically modified crops.

http://snipurl.com/6ylhd


Apollo 8: The Mission that Changed Everything
from the Guardian (UK)

It has proved to be the most enduring image we have of our fragile world. Over a colourless lunar surface, the Earth hangs like a gaudy Christmas bauble against a deep black background.

The planet's blue disc—half in shadow—is streaked with faint traces of white, yellow and brown while its edge is sharply defined. There is no blurring that might be expected from the blanket of oxygen and nitrogen that envelops our planet.

Our atmosphere is too thin to be seen clearly from the Moon: a striking reminder—if we ever needed one—of the frailty of the biosphere that sustains life on Earth.

http://snipurl.com/6yl0y

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 05, 2008, 03:54:41 am
December 2, 2008

A New Picture of the Early Earth
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

The first 700 million years of Earth's 4.5-billion-year existence are known as the Hadean period, after Hades, or, to shed the ancient Greek name, Hell.

That name seemed to fit with the common perception that the young Earth was a hot, dry, desolate landscape interspersed with seas of magma and inhospitable for life. Even if some organism had somehow popped into existence, the old story went, surely it would soon have been extinguished in the firestorm of one of the giant meteorites that slammed into the Earth when the young solar system was still crowded with debris.

... Norman H. Sleep, a professor of geophysics at Stanford, recalled that in 1986 he submitted a paper that calculated the probability of life surviving one of the giant, early impacts. It was summarily rejected because a reviewer said that obviously nothing could have lived then. That is no longer thought to be true.

http://snipurl.com/714t2 


Drug 'Could Cure Jet Lag'
from the Telegraph (UK)

A new cure for jet lag, which can reset the body's natural sleep rhythms, could be on the market within three years after tests proved successful. The new pill works by mimicking the effects of melatonin, the so-called sleep hormone, on the body.

Results of trials on the drug, called tasimelteon, published in the Lancet medical journal, show that it can cut the amount of time that it takes sufferers to fall asleep and keep them asleep for longer. The new drug is also likely to be less addictive than other more traditional medications used to help sleep, such as valium.

Writing in the Lancet Dr Daniel Cardinali, from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, who reviewed the results of the study, said that the findings would be welcomed by "shift-workers, airline crew, tourists, football teams and many others".

http://snipurl.com/715db


DNA Gleaned from Ancient Coral Unlocks Clues about Warming
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

The skeletons in the Earth's closet reveal not only a dark past. They also cast a light on its future.

That is what Tim Shank discovered when he sent an underwater robot to sweep up a basket full of broccoli-like fossils from volcanoes under the sea. Shank, a researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, found skeletons of 35,000- to 40,000-year-old corals littered on the New England Seamounts in the North Atlantic. He took them back to his laboratory, extracted what he could of their remaining DNA fragments, and started to piece together their past.

Their story—and similar ones gleaned from the DNA of ancient spiders entombed in ice cores, and the bones of dodos and woolly mammoths—tells us how ancient creatures survived or disappeared as a result of dramatic climate changes. That, in turn, provides a preview of how today's flora and fauna might react to global warming.

http://snipurl.com/714y9


1 in 5 Young Adults Has Personality Disorder
from USA Today

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—Almost one in five young American adults has a personality disorder that interferes with everyday life, and even more abuse alcohol or drugs, researchers reported Monday in the most extensive study of its kind.

The disorders include problems such as obsessive or compulsive tendencies and anti-social behavior that can sometimes lead to violence. The study also found that fewer than 25% of college-aged Americans with mental problems get treatment.

One expert said personality disorders may be overdiagnosed. But others said the results were not surprising since previous, less rigorous evidence has suggested mental problems are common on college campuses and elsewhere. Experts praised the study's scope—face-to-face interviews about numerous disorders with more than 5,000 young people ages 19 to 25—and said it spotlights a problem college administrators need to address.

http://snipurl.com/7150x 


Dig Unearths Stone Age Sculptures
from BBC News Online

Rare artefacts from the late Stone Age have been uncovered in Russia. The site at Zaraysk, 150km south-east of Moscow, has yielded figurines and carvings on mammoth tusks.

The finds also included a cone-shaped object whose function, the authors report in the journal Antiquity, "remains a puzzle." Such artistic artefacts have been found in the nearby regions of Kostenki and Avdeevo, but this is the first such discovery at Zaraysk.

The Upper Palaeolithic is the latter part of the Stone Age, during which humans made the transition from functional tool-making to art and adornment.

http://snipurl.com/7153g


Huge Impact Crater Uncovered in Canadian Forest
from National Geographic News

About 1,100 years ago a space rock the size of a big tree stump slammed into western Canada, carving an amphitheater-like crater into the ground and littering it with meteorites, a new study found.

The rock that made the newly identified crater might have created a sky show similar to the one that tore across northern Alberta's skies in the early evening hours of November 20.

But unlike the recent fireball—which broke apart as it streaked through Earth's atmosphere—the meteorite that carved the newly announced crater would have stayed solid until impact. "You need to have that wallop," said study author Christopher Herd, an associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

http://snipurl.com/6wp5l


First Inventory of Life at Poles
from BBC News Online

The first comprehensive inventory of the sea and land animals living in a polar region has been carried out by British and German scientists.

A team from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Hamburg University found that Antarctica's South Orkney Islands were surprisingly rich in life. More than 1,200 species were counted, including five new to science.

The data, published in the Journal of Biogeography, will help to monitor how the animals respond to future changes. David Barnes, from BAS, said: "This is the first time this has been done, not just anywhere in Antarctica, but anywhere in either polar region."

http://snipurl.com/6zq2i 


Polar Opposites
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

In the 2003 science fiction movie "The Core," the Earth stood still. Or more precisely, its molten outer core stopped flowing, spelling an end to the planet's protective magnetic field and the beginning of a slew of global catastrophes ...

... It's all utterly implausible except for one thing: Every once in a while, the Earth's magnetic field does actually, sort of, disappear.
 
Or more precisely, the field reverses polarity, switching magnetic poles so that a compass needle that once pointed north now points south. Such reversals have happened many times over the history of the Earth. Some scientists say there's evidence to suggest the poles are preparing to flip again.

http://snipurl.com/6w5av 


Report Sounds Alarm Over Bioterror
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Seven years after the 2001 anthrax attacks, a congressionally ordered study finds a growing threat of biological terrorism and calls for aggressive defenses on par with those used to prevent a terrorist nuclear detonation.

Due for release this week, a draft of the study warns that future bioterrorists may use new technology to make synthetic versions of killers such as Ebola, or genetically modified germs designed to resist ordinary vaccines and antibiotics.

The bipartisan report faults the Bush administration for devoting insufficient resources to prevent an attack and says U.S. policies have at times impeded international biodefense efforts while promoting the rapid growth of a network of domestic laboratories possessing the world's most dangerous pathogens.

http://snipurl.com/6ykqo


Remains of the Slave Ship Trouvadore Found
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Texas researchers have discovered the wreck of the slave ship Trouvadore, which slammed into a reef off the coast of the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1841, freeing the 193 Africans who were being brought to the U.S. South for a life of servitude.

It is the only known wreck of a ship involved in the illegal slave trade, said marine archaeologist Don Keith, president of the underwater archaeology institute Ships of Discovery in Corpus Christi, Texas.

One of the female Africans on board was shot by the crew, but the rest escaped and were rescued by local authorities. Their descendants may now make up a significant proportion of the 30,000 residents of the island country. The Spanish crew members were captured and sent to Cuba for trial. Their fate is unknown.

http://snipurl.com/6zvqt

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on December 05, 2008, 06:01:04 am
1 in 5 Young Adults Has Personality Disorder
from USA Today

CHICAGO (Associated Press)—Almost one in five young American adults has a personality disorder that interferes with everyday life, and even more abuse alcohol or drugs, researchers reported Monday in the most extensive study of its kind.

The disorders include problems such as obsessive or compulsive tendencies and anti-social behavior that can sometimes lead to violence. The study also found that fewer than 25% of college-aged Americans with mental problems get treatment.

One expert said personality disorders may be overdiagnosed. But others said the results were not surprising since previous, less rigorous evidence has suggested mental problems are common on college campuses and elsewhere. Experts praised the study's scope—face-to-face interviews about numerous disorders with more than 5,000 young people ages 19 to 25—and said it spotlights a problem college administrators need to address.

http://snipurl.com/7150x 
This number seemed really high until I saw that they included depression in the study.  Now the numbers seem low. I figured that the percentage of college aged students with depression would be a lot higher than 7%. 
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on December 05, 2008, 03:24:12 pm
I'M THE GUY WHO SUCKS

PLUS I GOT DEPRESSION.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 05, 2008, 03:54:12 pm
I'M THE GUY WHO SUCKS

PLUS I GOT DEPRESSION.

:/
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 05, 2008, 04:09:46 pm
Quote
The finds also included a cone-shaped object whose function, the authors report in the journal Antiquity, "remains a puzzle."


It was obviously for the Pterodactyls.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on December 07, 2008, 12:08:01 am
I'M THE GUY WHO SUCKS

PLUS I GOT DEPRESSION.

:/

From http://achewood.com/index.php?date=08042003 :

(http://m.assetbar.com/achewood/autaux?b=M%5ea11f09b8576e606bcb5038dfdb92fb821&u=http%3A%2F%2Fachewood.com%2Fcomic.php%3Fdate%3D08042003)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Reginald Ret on December 08, 2008, 01:00:14 am
photosynthetic slugs wtf?

Quote
Two quite different groups of sea slugs have evolved ways of using the ability of plants to convert the sun's energy into sugars and other nutrients. In simple terms they have become "solar powered".

http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow (http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow)

I want photosynthesis too!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on December 08, 2008, 02:09:57 am
photosynthetic slugs wtf?

Quote
Two quite different groups of sea slugs have evolved ways of using the ability of plants to convert the sun's energy into sugars and other nutrients. In simple terms they have become "solar powered".

http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow (http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow)

I want photosynthesis too!

Me too... no fair!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 08, 2008, 11:27:09 pm
photosynthetic slugs wtf?

Quote
Two quite different groups of sea slugs have evolved ways of using the ability of plants to convert the sun's energy into sugars and other nutrients. In simple terms they have become "solar powered".

http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow (http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow)

I want photosynthesis too!

ProTIP: Most corals are "solar powered" too. All lichens are.

Its endosymbiosis with algae, and its awesome. It doesn't surprise me that some nudibranchs are doing it. What surprises me is the storage, not of the whole algae, but just of the plastids. The reason it suprises and excites me is because this is the way plants evolved, through endosymbiosis of photosynthetic bacteria. Thats how algae came about, and then other types of animals ate that type of algae and made a NEW type. Srsly, I think its dinoflagellates that came about by tertiary endosymbiosis. Anyway, that you see this indicates that there may be an eventual movement towards total endosymbiosis and animals that not only contain plastids but transfer them during reproduction. Its pretty incredible.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Reginald Ret on December 09, 2008, 12:46:46 am
photosynthetic slugs wtf?

Quote
Two quite different groups of sea slugs have evolved ways of using the ability of plants to convert the sun's energy into sugars and other nutrients. In simple terms they have become "solar powered".

http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow (http://www.seaslugforum.net/showall.cfm?base=solarpow)

I want photosynthesis too!

ProTIP: Most corals are "solar powered" too. All lichens are.

Its endosymbiosis with algae, and its awesome. It doesn't surprise me that some nudibranchs are doing it. What surprises me is the storage, not of the whole algae, but just of the plastids. The reason it suprises and excites me is because this is the way plants evolved, through endosymbiosis of photosynthetic bacteria. Thats how algae came about, and then other types of animals ate that type of algae and made a NEW type. Srsly, I think its dinoflagellates that came about by tertiary endosymbiosis. Anyway, that you see this indicates that there may be an eventual movement towards total endosymbiosis and animals that not only contain plastids but transfer them during reproduction. Its pretty incredible.

hence the 'wtf?'

this reminds me of a scifi book about mars where mons olympus was one living creature chockfull of endosymbiosis but i forgot what the book was called.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 09, 2008, 06:37:36 am
Well, its like I said essentially the way most algal groups evolved. Algae before they were photosynthetic were probably all free living and heterotropic, obtaining food from the environment.

There are some microorganisms that still do exactly what those nudibranchs do. There is a whole division of algae that have endosymbiotic cyanobacteria more or less changed from the non endosymbiotic type. There is so much weird stuff out there.

I mean, think of diatoms here for a second. First of all, they're photosynthetic by secondary endosymbiosis, so a bluegreen was eaten by a brown was eaten by some organism that became a yellow-green algae. Diatoms then evolved this hard exterior frustule which is composed of silicon dioxide, so basically glass. The frustule is in two parts, a bottom layer and a top layer. The two parts overlap each other like a petri dish. And you start thinking about how these things move, they actually excrete a fluid that pushes them along, a sort of microscopic slime trail. And they have this weird life cycle which involves both asexual and sexual elements.

So, you got this photosynthetic organism, with weird life cycle and a glass case that moves itself around like a slug. And THEN you start looking at all the amazing shapes and surface structures of these frustules, pits, ridges, grooves, pores.

Do I need to talk about lichens? Do I need to go into the fact that a fungus is basically a mat of fillamentous cell structures that dissolves dead or decaying organic matter, and then creates these elaborate reproductive structures which we then eat? Do I have to talk about catepilars that build underwater nets to filter food, or snakes that can dorsoventrally flatten their bodies to glide through the air? Should I even consider mentioning fungus that feeds off of radioactive decay, tubeworms that live around thermal vents several km down in the ocean, tardigrades that can survive in outer space?

This world is bizarre and wonderful and wild and evolution is a beautiful game that shows the best that the emergent creativity in the universe has to offer. I don't know how ANYONE can fail to be entertained, amazed, intrigued, engrossed, or amused with this planet. I don't know how anyone can be bored with living things. Every time I LOOK I hear about Acacia trees that have sugar glands and hollow horns so that ants will nest and protect, or colossal squid 8 meters long with huge claws on their suckers, or orangutans fishing with spears, or FUCK even bacteria or turfgrass or CORN is interesting if you look hard enough. Barbara McClintock pretty much put the period on that idea. I could go on and on for hours about these things.

I don't know how anyone can't.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 09, 2008, 07:11:28 am
No no no, I'll go on. I'm inspired now. Theres this caddisfly larva in the family Polycentropodidae. It makes this tube like web and lines of silk running outward from the edges. It senses when its prey is near, feels the vibrations on the threads and darts out to grab its prey, and this is all going on underwater.

Dragonfly naiads have a hinged and fanged lower jaw that shoots out alien style to catch food, sometimes fish sized organisms.

Back to the algae again, there are these organisms called Euglenoids. They are photosynthetic but heterotrophic, just like the nudibranchs above. They can get energy from the plastids and they can eat stuff. Plus, they have this weird exoskelleton that can change shape from a sphere to almost any sort of spheroid.

Or maybe to grasses. Grasses have some of the most amazing and complex flowers you will ever see, and include everything from woody bamboo to kentucky blue. They are almost all wind polinated too.

And speaking of polination, no really. Think of all the species of insects and plants that are made possible by the pollination symbiosis. First just consider directly all the plants that have flowers that are pollinated in some way by insects, and the insects that directly pollinate them. So, this includes most flowering plants excluding those that are wind pollinated, as well as thousands of species of insects.

Now consider all those organisms that live on and around those plants.

Now consider all those organisms that feed on those plants.

Now consider all those organisms that feed on the organisms that are feeding on those plants, or are feeding on the pollinators of those plants, or are feeding on the organisms that live and feed on those plants, etc etc etc, ad infinitum.

Ecology is fucking amazing and wild and FUCK.

YOU start thinking of all the connections begining with one species and increase the bounds outwards until it includes everything living on this planet and all the interactions with the environment RIGHT NOW, and then extend that forward and backward in time and see if you don't start sobbing like a little child at the immensity of it like I am right now, like I am whenever I consider it, like people do when they stare at the stars and consider the distance. YOU start looking at the connections, and maybe the reason I wrote The Process will become clear and obvious, because when you reach that threshold, when you consider the cell to the biosphere, a single organism to world ecology, bacteria to all the complexity, the past workings of creativity, the future workings of creativity, the innate capacity for creativity and tie it all together you are standing at the door of infinity, and you glimpse the Process that overlies it all and it destroys you and rebuilds you from the inside out until you are whole. Once you start considering THIS immensity, the stars seem close, and the distances small, because the innate emergent creativity here, on this planet, is greater than anything we have found out there, or daresay will ever find.

You want amazement, you want awe, you want eternal excitement? Do you want to see GOD every day in every single drop of water, every single dust mote or grain of soil?


Go into Biology. Srsly.

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 12:31:51 pm
I nominate the last two posts as not only :potd:, but Verriwung blog worthy.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on December 09, 2008, 02:15:47 pm
:mittens: for Kai.  That was awesome.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on December 09, 2008, 03:14:22 pm
Kai, I keep wondering about whether humans will turn out as endosymbionts of corporations or nations or stuff. Do you think that might happen? (or perhaps endosymbiosis is the wrong word if the organism is actually exclusively made up of its symbionts).

And if so, do you think that perhaps human's particular kind of self-conscious thought could make the species have a sort of choice in the matter? Unlike, for example, the bacteria that live in our intestines?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 09, 2008, 04:32:19 pm
Thank you. I was on a roll last night and as much as I hate writing, it just seemed to come out Joycean style. This is the sort of thing I think about in the late hours of the night. Note I wrote this 1 am eastern time. Afterwards I spent an hour just looking at the drawings in Wiggins' book. If you want it for Verriwung it needs some cleaning up because I refer to the above posts.

@ Zero: I don't think endosymbiont is the right word for what you are considering. Endosymbiont is a biological term that describes an organism that lives within  another organism but there is either benefit for both parties or neither is harmed (as opposed to parasitic relationships). For example, the algae (phycobiont) portion of lichens (the other portion being the fungus, the mycobiont) is an endosymbiont.

What I think you are refering to is some type of dependent system, but its social in nature so I don't think biological terms would work. In biology, a symbiontic relationship would be termed 'obligate'.


The bactera in our intestines, the gut fauna in genera, is another mutualist relationship like the above. I'm not really sure what you are asking I guess. Symbiotic relationships are pretty much confined to biology by definition.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 09, 2008, 06:21:30 pm
December 8, 2008

Lack of Sleep Has Genetic Link with Type 2 Diabetes
from Science News

Sleep is a mystery. Although no one knows exactly why, it's required for good health. But now, scientists have found a surprisingly clear connection between sleep and a healthy body: the regulation of sugar levels in the blood.

The new studies, all online December 7 in Nature Genetics, describe the first genetic link between sleep and type 2 diabetes, a disease marked by high blood sugar levels.

... The investigations by three international teams of researchers suggest the trends of rising diabetes and falling sleep are linked via a protein that senses the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. The research places bodily rhythms, including the clock that sets human sleep cycles, squarely in the blood sugar business.

http://snipurl.com/7nigh


Large Hadron Collider to Get Helium Leak Warning System
from the Times (London)

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is to have an early-warning system installed to guard against a repeat of the catastrophic fault that caused the world's largest atom-smasher to break down nine days after it was switched on in September.

CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, is to fit the accelerator with 100 miles (160km) of cables and 2,000 crates of electronic monitors, so that engineers will be alerted to potentially hazardous abnormalities before they can cause serious damage.

The £4 billion "big bang machine," which was switched on to global acclaim on September 10, was shut down after a huge helium leak caused extensive damage to many of its magnets.

http://snipurl.com/7nhy9 


Religious 'Shun Nanotechnology'
from BBC News Online

Attitudes to nanotechnology may be determined by religious and cultural beliefs, suggest researchers writing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

They say religious people tend to view nanotechnology in a negative light. The researchers compared attitudes in Europe and the US and looked at religious and cultural backgrounds.

They say the findings have implications for scientists and politicians making policy decisions to regulate the use of nanotechnology. The researchers compared attitudes to nanotechnology in 12 European countries and the US.

http://snipurl.com/7nhv5


Study: Poverty Dramatically Affects Children's Brains
from USA Today

A new study finds that certain brain functions of some low-income 9- and 10-year-olds pale in comparison with those of wealthy children and that the difference is almost equivalent to the damage from a stroke.

"It is a similar pattern to what's seen in patients with strokes that have led to lesions in their prefrontal cortex," which controls higher-order thinking and problem solving, says lead researcher Mark Kishiyama, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California-Berkeley. "It suggests that in these kids, prefrontal function is reduced or disrupted in some way."

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that shows how poverty afflicts children's brains. Researchers have long pointed to the ravages of malnutrition, stress, illiteracy and toxic environments in low-income children's lives. Research has shown that the neural systems of poor children develop differently from those of middle-class children ...

http://snipurl.com/7nhrg


Pre-Columbian Tribes Had BBQs, Parties on Grave Sites
from National Geographic News

Some pre-Hispanic cultures in South America had elaborate celebrations at their cemeteries, complete with feasting and drinking grounds much like modern barbecue pits, according to a new archaeological study.

Excavations of 12th- and 13th-century burial mounds in the highlands of Brazil and Argentina revealed numerous earthen ovens. The finds suggest that the graves were also sites of regular festivals held to commemorate the death of the community's chief.

"After they buried an important person on the burial grounds, they feasted on meat that had been steamed in the earth ovens and drank maize beer," said archaeologist and study co-author José Iriarte.

http://snipurl.com/7nimi 


Termites Show Complexity of Biofuel Work
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

Researchers have scooped soil near the Quabbin Reservoir, visited a Russian volcano, and scoured the bottom of the sea looking for microbes that hold the key to new biofuels. Now, they are investigating deeper into the belly of termites.

The otherwise dreaded insect is a model bug bioreactor, adept at the difficult task of breaking down wood and turning it into fuel. Learning the secret of that skill could open the door to creating a new class of plant-based fuels to offset the nation's reliance on petroleum products. What scientists have learned so far, however, suggests it won't be easy to duplicate nature.

Over the past year, several studies elucidating termite innards have appeared in mainstream science journals. And last month, Japanese researchers added their own report on just how termites digest wood. A key, they said, can be found within termites' bodies like nested Russian dolls—a bacteria that lives within a microorganism that lives within the termite gut.

http://snipurl.com/7nhng


Self-Injury on the Rise Among Young People
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The revelation was shocking enough. That a growing number of teenagers and young adults deliberately embed needles, paper clips or staples in their skin may have seemed unthinkable before an Ohio radiologist presented disturbing proof at a medical meeting Wednesday.

Even more disturbing than his X-rays and accompanying report, however, could be the size and pervasiveness of the trend from which it derives—self-injury. Cutting, burning and biting one's body is a habit increasingly taken up by young people who find themselves simply unable to cope with stress. Embedding appears to represent a more extreme form of the disorder.

"We always saw a little bit of this, but it was in people already identified as having a psychiatric disorder," says Janis Whitlock, a prominent researcher on self-injury at Cornell University. "What doesn't seem to make much sense is why we're seeing it so much in seemingly healthy kids."

http://snipurl.com/7nhjd


Brain of 'Most Studied' Amnesiac Will Be Evaluated
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

Henry Gustav Molaison, who died Sunday at the age of 82, will be remembered as the man who could not remember.

Better known by his initials, H.M., Molaison was unable to form new memories. Every face, every event was experienced anew. His amnesia—the unforeseen consequence of brain surgery—made him "the most studied individual in the history of science," said Dr. James Brewer, a neurologist at University of California San Diego.

Over the course of half a century, H.M. (initials were used to protect his privacy) was the object of hundreds of studies, some of which fundamentally changed science's understanding of brain structure, memory function and neurological disease. Even after his death, that work will continue.

http://snipurl.com/7nib7 


What Happens When Silicon Can Shrink No More?
from New Scientist

In 1965, a year before the first pocket calculator was invented, a young physicist from Silicon Valley, Gordon Moore, made a daring prediction. He claimed that the number of components squeezed onto a single silicon chip would double about every two years. And double, and double and continue to double. If he had been right, the best silicon chips today would contain an unbelievable 100 million single components.

The true figure is more like 2 billion: Moore had underestimated how fast the shrinking trend would take off. Since the mid-1970s, though, his "law" has been a bankable certainty, influencing economic, social and scientific developments in ways that are hard to overstate.

... Can the trend go on? Reports of the imminent death of Moore's law have been around almost as long as the law itself, and have always proved exaggerated. But now there is concrete cause for concern. The smallest features on today's state-of-the-art chips are just a few nanometres across. At the current rate of shrinking, they will reach the size of a few silicon atoms by about 2020.

http://snipurl.com/7nip6 


In Defense of Teasing
from the New York Times Magazine (Registration Required)

... Today teasing has been all but banished from the lives of many children. In recent years, high-profile school shootings and teenage suicides have inspired a wave of "zero tolerance" movements in our schools.

... And we are phasing out teasing in many other corners of social life as well. Sexual-harassment courses advise work colleagues not to tease or joke. Marriage counselors encourage direct criticism over playful provocation. No-taunting rules have even arisen in the N.B.A. and the N.F.L. to discourage "trash talking."

The reason teasing is viewed as inherently damaging is that it is too often confused with bullying. But bullying is something different; it's aggression, pure and simple. ... By contrast, teasing is a mode of play, no doubt with a sharp edge, in which we provoke to negotiate life's ambiguities and conflicts. And it is essential to making us fully human.

http://snipurl.com/7nhfk
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on December 09, 2008, 10:58:55 pm

Religious 'Shun Nanotechnology'
from BBC News Online

Attitudes to nanotechnology may be determined by religious and cultural beliefs, suggest researchers writing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

They say religious people tend to view nanotechnology in a negative light. The researchers compared attitudes in Europe and the US and looked at religious and cultural backgrounds.

They say the findings have implications for scientists and politicians making policy decisions to regulate the use of nanotechnology. The researchers compared attitudes to nanotechnology in 12 European countries and the US.

http://snipurl.com/7nhv5

:weary:  Do you ever get the feeling that shortly after the discovery of fire that there was a religious person there telling the whole tribe about how evil this new-fangled fire thing was and how it would completely destroy all of humanity?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on December 10, 2008, 12:02:40 am
Thank you. I was on a roll last night and as much as I hate writing, it just seemed to come out Joycean style. This is the sort of thing I think about in the late hours of the night. Note I wrote this 1 am eastern time. Afterwards I spent an hour just looking at the drawings in Wiggins' book. If you want it for Verriwung it needs some cleaning up because I refer to the above posts.

@ Zero: I don't think endosymbiont is the right word for what you are considering. Endosymbiont is a biological term that describes an organism that lives within  another organism but there is either benefit for both parties or neither is harmed (as opposed to parasitic relationships). For example, the algae (phycobiont) portion of lichens (the other portion being the fungus, the mycobiont) is an endosymbiont.

What I think you are refering to is some type of dependent system, but its social in nature so I don't think biological terms would work. In biology, a symbiontic relationship would be termed 'obligate'.


The bactera in our intestines, the gut fauna in genera, is another mutualist relationship like the above. I'm not really sure what you are asking I guess. Symbiotic relationships are pretty much confined to biology by definition.

ok cause the question wasn't so much about terminology, as it was about the future of the human race.

i can see corporations or nations or some super-human structure become sort of organisms. where, in the long run, human individuality (or freedom, or happiness, something) becomes second to the survival of this organism. it's already happening, if you listen to our rants about the Machine.
i see some kind of parallel with the kind of symbiosis present with intestinal bacteria, or mitochondria, or multicellular organisms for that matter. it seems to be a natural way of things, creating larger structures out of smaller elements. emergence. i'm not sure if i'd like to see humans end up that way, but i wonder if our self-conscious thought, being able to realize if it would happen, could make us be different?
it's a bit far-fetched, i know, but you know me, i wonder about these things at night ... ;-)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 10, 2008, 12:28:13 am
Ants.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on December 10, 2008, 01:18:33 am
yeah, so do you want to be an ant?

(heh, "waking life" reference)

ETA: do you want your far-offspring to be an ant?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 10, 2008, 02:07:07 am
yeah, so do you want to be an ant?

(heh, "waking life" reference)

ETA: do you want your far-offspring to be an ant?

No. Then again, it would take a drastic change in human physiology to support such perfect communal behavior. Ants, bees, wasps, termites, and other social insects do it with pheromones that essentially control the workers.  I guess if you could  find a way to absolutely control people it would happen, but I don't think humans would enter by choice, not all of them anyway.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Golden Applesauce on December 10, 2008, 05:41:24 am

Religious 'Shun Nanotechnology'
from BBC News Online

Attitudes to nanotechnology may be determined by religious and cultural beliefs, suggest researchers writing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

They say religious people tend to view nanotechnology in a negative light. The researchers compared attitudes in Europe and the US and looked at religious and cultural backgrounds.

They say the findings have implications for scientists and politicians making policy decisions to regulate the use of nanotechnology. The researchers compared attitudes to nanotechnology in 12 European countries and the US.

http://snipurl.com/7nhv5

:weary:  Do you ever get the feeling that shortly after the discovery of fire that there was a religious person there telling the whole tribe about how evil this new-fangled fire thing was and how it would completely destroy all of humanity?

Well, they were right, now weren't they?
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on December 10, 2008, 07:56:13 pm
bad source, big jump to reach conclusion in title, interesting topic
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3660141/Men-under-threat-from-gender-bending-chemicals.html

By Urmee Khan
Last Updated: 8:48AM GMT 08 Dec 2008

Scientists are warning that manmade pollutants which have escaped into the environment mimic the female sex hormone oestrogen.

The males of species including fish, amphibians, birds, and reptiles have been feminised by exposure to sex hormone disrupting chemicals and have been found to be abnormally making egg yolk protein, normally made by females, according to the report by Chem Trust, environmental group.

The authors claim that the chemicals found in food packaging, cleaning products, plastics, sewage and paint cause genital deformities, reduce sperm count and "feminise" males.

Fish have been specifically affected by the gender changing chemicals. In one study, half the male fish in British lowland rivers had signs of being feminised - as chemicals which block the male hormone androgen had been released- leading to the development of eggs in their testes.

Although the report only looked at the impact of gender bending chemicals on the animal world, its authors say the findings have disturbing implications for human health.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 11, 2008, 08:21:01 pm
December 10, 2008

 

Mystery Pyramid Built by Newfound Ancient Culture?
from National Geographic News

Several stone sculptures recently found in central Mexico point to a previously unknown culture that likely built a mysterious pyramid in the region, archaeologists say.

Archaeologists first found the objects about 15 years ago in the valley of Tulancingo, a major canyon that drops off into Mexico's Gulf Coast.

Most of the 41 artifacts "do not fit into any of the known cultures of the Valley of Tulancingo, or the highlands of central Mexico," said Carlos Hernández, an archaeologist at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History in the central state of Hidalgo.

http://snipurl.com/7p5ex


Vitamins 'Do Not Cut Cancer Risk'
from BBC News Online

Taking vitamin C or E does not reduce the risk of prostate cancers—or other forms of the disease, two large US studies suggest.

Both trials were set up following some evidence that taking supplements might have a positive effect.

But one study of 35,533 men, and a second of 15,000 doctors, found no evidence that cancer rates were any lower in those taking supplements. Both studies feature in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

http://snipurl.com/7qis6 


Crashless Cars: Making Driving Safer
from Scientific American

... Within a few decades, experts say, many advanced cars will be able to avoid most crashes. At some point, in fact, they will drive themselves.

The main motivations for these innovations are clear enough. Some six million motor vehicle traffic accidents occurred in the U.S. in 2006, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

... In the meantime, despite continuing calls for greater investment in mass transit, American roads are only growing more crowded. Similar circumstances prevail in the rest of the world, particularly in developing nations, where auto ownership is skyrocketing. Accident statistics indicate that driver error is the main cause of safety problems on the road ...

http://snipurl.com/7p5my


Malaria Vaccine Closer to Reality
from Science News

Firing new shots in the malaria war, a vaccine still in the testing stage is now a step closer to becoming a public health reality.

Two new reports, from Kenya and Tanzania, show that the vaccine halves a child's risk of getting malaria, setting the stage for an even larger trial that researchers hope will provide the definitive evidence needed for approval of what would be the first vaccine for the disease. The new studies appear in the Dec. 11 New England Journal of Medicine.

"This is the only malaria vaccine to have reached this level of testing. It's remarkable," says William Collins, a malaria researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "I think this justifies the usefulness of moving on to the more large-scale trial."

http://snipurl.com/7p5p7 


Researchers Put a Microscope on Food Allergies
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

CHICAGO—For 5-year-old Sean Batson, even a grandmother's kiss is to be feared. "My mother was wearing lipstick, and when she kissed Sean's cheek, it broke out in hives," said his mother, Jennifer Batson.

... The daily struggle of living with Sean's allergies to nearly unavoidable foods and food products—soy, eggs and milk, traces of which can turn up even in nonfoods like lipstick—prompted Mrs. Batson and her husband, Tim, to participate in a project that scientists are calling the most comprehensive food allergy study to date.

The international study, led by Dr. Xiaobin Wang and Dr. Jacqueline A. Pongracic of Children's Memorial Hospital here, is searching for causes of food allergy by looking at hundreds of families in Boston, Chicago and Anhui Province in China.

http://snipurl.com/7p65j


Top 10 Science Stories of 2008
from Time

The magazine presents its selection of the most significant science stories of the year. At the top of the list: Good news! The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—the massive particle accelerator straddling the Swiss-French border—didn't destroy the world! The bad news: The contraption didn't really work either.

In second place: the Phoenix Mars Lander. For all the times robot probes have orbited or landed on Mars, none had ever visited its polar region—where the greatest concentrations of ice and water (and arguably the most evidence of life) are to be found.

Third on the list: Living things don't get a whole lot humbler than a bacterium, with its few hundred thousand genetic base pairs and its stripped-down physical design. Still, you try inventing one. That's what geneticist J. Craig Venter—one of the two men credited with mapping the human genome—managed to do.

http://snipurl.com/7p6qy


Neanderthal Genome Already Giving Up Its Secrets
from New Scientist

Half the Neanderthal genome has been decoded and the rest should be sequenced by year's end, a scientist involved in the project told a human evolution conference last week.

Researchers will roll out a rough draft of the Neanderthal nuclear genome after their sequencers have read every letter in the genome on average once—"1x coverage" in genomics speak.

However, the fragmentary state of the DNA sample—from bones recovered in Czech Republic—means that the first draft will offer only a tantalizing glimpse of the genome to researchers who hope to better understand Neanderthal biology and human evolution. Some 38,000 years of decay has left the DNA in tatters and strewn with contamination from bacteria and human handlers.

http://snipurl.com/7ph1e


International Science Exam Shows Plateau in U.S. Performance
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

U.S. students are doing no better on an international science exam than they were a decade ago, a plateau in performance that leaves educators and policymakers worried about how schools are preparing students to compete in an increasingly global economy.

Results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), released Tuesday, show how fourth- and eighth-graders in the United States measure up to peers in dozens of countries. U.S. students showed gains in math at both grades. But average science performance, although still stronger than in many countries, has stagnated since 1995.

Students in Singapore, Taiwan and Japan outperformed U.S. fourth-graders in science. So did students in the Chinese region of Hong Kong, counted as a separate participant. The U.S. students had an average score of 539 on a 1,000-point scale, higher than peers in 25 countries.

http://snipurl.com/7ph6v


Put All Eggs in One Nest? Birds Factor in Climate, Location
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

For biologists, the question wasn't about priority—as in which came first, the chicken or the egg—but quantity: Why do some bird species lay just one egg per nest, while others produce them by the nestful?

In a novel study published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology, researchers say they might have an answer: It's all about prudence, as in not putting all of your eggs in one nest—only a lot more complicated.

Scientists at UCSD, Stanford University and Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany analyzed decades of data on the clutch size (the number of eggs typically laid in a nest) of 5,290 bird species, more than half of all the known bird species in the world.

http://snipurl.com/7phvd


Black Hole Confirmed in Milky Way
from BBC News Online

There is a giant black hole at the centre of our galaxy, a study has confirmed.

German astronomers tracked the movement of 28 stars circling the centre of the Milky Way, using two telescopes in Chile. The black hole is four million times heavier than our Sun, according to the paper in The Astrophysical Journal.

Black holes are objects whose gravity is so great that nothing—including light—can escape them. According to Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), the results suggest that galaxies form around giant black holes in the way that a pearl forms around grit.

http://snipurl.com/7qijm

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 11, 2008, 08:23:11 pm
December 11, 2008

Survey Documents Popularity of Alternative Treatments
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

More than one-third of U.S. adults and nearly 12 percent of children use alternatives to traditional medicine, according to a large federal survey released today that documents how entrenched acupuncture, herbal remedies and other once-exotic therapies have become.

The survey of more than 32,000 Americans in 2007, which for the first time included children, found that use of yoga, "probiotics," fish oil and other "complementary and alternative" therapies held steady among adults since the last national survey five years earlier, and that such treatments have become part of health care for many youngsters.

... The most commonly used are dietary supplements and herbal products such as echinacea, flax seed oil and ginseng, followed by deep breathing exercises, meditation, chiropractors, massage and yoga.

http://snipurl.com/7quez


Sun's Cycles Can Forecast Floods, Drought?
from National Geographic News

The sun's fluctuations can help predict extreme climatic events on Earth decades ahead of time, new research suggests. Solar cycles are 11-year phases during which the sun's activity ebbs and flows, accompanied by an increase in sunspots on the sun's surface.

The cycles, which are driven by the sun's magnetic turbulence, may influence weather systems on Earth, particularly the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, a periodic climatic system associated with floods and droughts mostly in the Southern Hemisphere.

"The sun is the engine of our climate," said lead study author Robert Baker, of the University of New England in Australia. "It's like a vibrating string—its past vibrations can be used to predict future vibrations."

http://snipurl.com/7quws


Did Our Cosmos Exist Before the Big Bang?
from New Scientist

Abhay Ashtekar remembers his reaction the first time he saw the universe bounce. "I was taken aback," he says. He was watching a simulation of the universe rewind towards the big bang.

Mostly the universe behaved as expected, becoming smaller and denser as the galaxies converged. But then, instead of reaching the big bang "singularity," the universe bounced and started expanding again. What on earth was happening?

Ashtekar wanted to be sure of what he was seeing, so he asked his colleagues to sit on the result for six months before publishing it in 2006. And no wonder. The theory that the recycled universe was based on, called loop quantum cosmology (LQC), had managed to illuminate the very birth of the universe—something even Einstein's general theory of relativity fails to do.

http://snipurl.com/7qv2t


The Dirty Side of Clean Coal
from Scientific American

... Coal's benefits are considerable: cheap, plentiful energy that simultaneously injects cash into the poorest regions of the country. Coal holds such power that no U.S. administration—Republican or Democrat—has ever tried to stop mountaintop removal.

The full environmental cost is never tallied. No other energy source emits as much carbon dioxide when burned.

Coal is so cheap—and so plentiful—that experts generally agree global warming will never be contained until industrialized nations find a way to cap those emissions. And before coal burns, it has to be ripped from the ground.

http://snipurl.com/7qvbw


New Window on the High-Energy Universe
from Science News

VANCOUVER, Canada—Curtain up! Light the lights! In its first four months of monitoring the heavens from orbit, NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope has unveiled the activity of celestial objects that emit powerful gamma rays—photons that pack 20 million to more than 300 billion times the energy of visible light.

The orbiting observatory features the first detectors in space capable of recording the most energetic of these photons. For now, Fermi's flurry of first findings—which include new discoveries about gamma-ray bursts as well as the energetic radiation emitted by rapidly spinning stellar corpses called pulsars, several never before recorded—poses new puzzles.

But ultimately the discoveries will offer new insight into the origin of these powerful emissions and the activity of some of the most enigmatic objects in the cosmos, says Peter Michelson of Stanford University ...

http://snipurl.com/7qvgg


WHO: Cancer to Be World's Top Killer by 2010
from USA Today

ATLANTA (Associated Press)—Cancer will overtake heart disease as the world's top killer by 2010, part of a trend that should more than double global cancer cases and deaths by 2030, international health experts said in a report released Tuesday.

Rising tobacco use in developing countries is believed to be a huge reason for the shift, particularly in China and India, where 40% of the world's smokers now live.

So is better diagnosing of cancer, along with the downward trend in infectious diseases that used to be the world's leading killers.

http://snipurl.com/7qwud


Water Found in Hot Planet's Orbit
from BBC News Online

Scientists say they have found evidence for water vapour in the atmosphere of a planet 63 light-years from Earth. The "hot Jupiter" planet's surface temperatures exceed 900C.

Writing in the journal Nature the scientists say their discovery may help find planets that can support life.

In a separate study, Nasa say they have found carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the same planet. The planet known as HD 189733b is classed as a hot Jupiter due to its fiery molten centre and heavily gaseous atmosphere, which mimics the atmosphere of Jupiter, the gas giant in our own galaxy.

http://snipurl.com/7qx11


Deal Struck on Forests in Climate Talks
from the Seattle Times

POZNAN, Poland (Associated Press)—Negotiators broke an impasse Wednesday on including forest conservation in a new climate change agreement, guaranteeing a voice for native peoples who live in forests and rewarding India and China for replanting depleted lands.

Environmentalists said the compromise text, agreed in a committee at the U.N. climate talks, was an important step that cleared the way to discuss politically sensitive questions on how countries will be compensated for protecting their woodlands.

Though activists said they were disappointed that four countries, including the United States, deleted any specific reference to the "rights" of indigenous people, the agreement recognizes "the full and effective participation" of local communities. Activists hope the reference will give indigenous people a say in the way forests are managed.

http://snipurl.com/7qxdf


Politics Choke Clean-Air Efforts
from the Philadelphia Inquirer

Death came to Donora, a small steel town in western Pennsylvania, in the form of a black fog. Trapped by unusual weather conditions in October 1948, a blanket of smokestack pollution killed 20 people and sickened thousands. Overwhelmed doctors scurried to fashion oxygen tents out of spare bedsheets.

... It was the nation's most dramatic evidence of the dangers of air pollution, and it spawned a cleanup effort so successful that, today, many people rarely give a thought to the air they breathe.

Yet in June 2005, a panel of scientists appointed by the Environmental Protection Agency determined that the air was still too dirty.

http://snipurl.com/7qy3d 


Cancer-Busting Protein Has Scientists' Attention
from the Detroit Free Press

WASHINGTON—It's a tiny molecule with a nondescript name—p53—but it has an awesome responsibility: preventing more than half of all human cancers. Some scientists call it the "guardian angel," "guardian of the genome" or the "dictator of life and death."

P53 is a protein, a string of 393 chemical units stored in the DNA of most of the body's cells. Normally, p53 works to suppress malignant tumors. When it's missing or mutated, however, it can't carry out its lifesaving mission and lets cancerous cells run amok.

Scientists are developing drugs to repair or restore damaged p53 in mice, but so far none of those drugs is ready to treat human cancers. Almost 50,000 papers about p53 have been published in scientific journals, but its workings are still not fully understood, and it's little known outside the worlds of biology and medicine.

http://snipurl.com/7qyf4
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on December 11, 2008, 08:40:33 pm
P53 is a protein, a string of 393 chemical units stored in the DNA of most of the body's cells.
:facepalm:
There is so much wrong with this sentence that I have no option but to weep.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 11, 2008, 08:54:48 pm
Yes. Ugh. Proteins are composed of ammino acids and they are not stored in DNA, and if they were they would be stored in ALL cells.

 :x
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 16, 2008, 10:27:13 pm
http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2008/12/over_1000_new_species_discover.php (http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2008/12/over_1000_new_species_discover.php) (NSFF&S)

Loads of new species from the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. The article talks briefly about something I discussed before, that species new to western science and newly described under the ICZN does not mean that they were previously unknown to people. Its somewhat semantics and somewhat the removal of western culturocentrism.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on December 16, 2008, 10:42:12 pm
http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2008/12/over_1000_new_species_discover.php (http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2008/12/over_1000_new_species_discover.php) (NSFF&S)

Loads of new species from the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. The article talks briefly about something I discussed before, that species new to western science and newly described under the ICZN does not mean that they were previously unknown to people. Its somewhat semantics and somewhat the removal of western culturocentrism.

That's something I've found amusing in reading articles in the past... when Western biologists "discover" a new species which they found because the natives of the region described it and told them where to look.  :lulz:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 17, 2008, 04:23:37 am
Yeah. Which incidentally is one of the many reasons why prestige goes not to the person that "discovers" a "new" species but to the one that formally describes and names it. That, and a person who writes the description, makes the drawings or pictures, fits the organism into an ecological biological and systematic scheme and publishes it is doing all the work.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on December 17, 2008, 02:26:06 pm
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/322/5907/1506 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/322/5907/1506)

Cool Science article I read last night about how branching in and of organs is determined. There are a number of factors involved: the growth cone, which is the branching structure itself, the proteins that induce a growth cone to branch or keep it from branching, and the coordination that has to occur between nerves, vessels and epithelial tissue. Its in some ways quite a bit more simple of a system than I thought it would be.

If you can't see the whole thing, abstract is here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/322/5907/1506 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/322/5907/1506)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 08, 2009, 05:42:22 pm
Drill for Natural Gas, Pollute Water
from Scientific American

In July a hydrologist dropped a plastic sampling pipe 300 feet down a water well in rural Sublette County, Wy. and pulled up a load of brown oily water with a foul smell. Tests showed it contained benzene, a chemical believed to cause aplastic anemia and leukemia, in a concentration 1,500 times the level safe for people. The results sent shockwaves through the energy industry and state and federal regulatory agencies.   

Sublette County is the home of one of the nation's largest natural gas fields, and many of its 6,000 wells have undergone a process pioneered by Halliburton called hydraulic fracturing, which shoots vast amounts of water, sand and chemicals several miles underground to break apart rock and release the gas.  The process has been considered safe since a 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that it posed no risk to drinking water. ... Today fracturing is used in 9 out of 10 natural gas wells in the United States.

Over the last few years, however, a series of contamination incidents have raised questions about that EPA study and ignited a debate over whether the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing may threaten the nation's increasingly precious drinking water supply.

http://snipurl.com/5t87m 


Your Body Is Mine
from Science News

WASHINGTON—It sounds like a lost episode of The Twilight Zone. A man enters a laboratory, dons a special headset and shakes hands with a woman sitting across from him. In a matter of seconds, he feels like he's inside the woman's skin, reaching out and grasping his own hand.

Strange as it sounds, neuroscientists have induced this phenomenon in a series of volunteers. People can experience the illusion that either a mannequin or another person's body is their own body, says Valeria Petkova of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She and Karolinska colleague Henrik Ehrsson call this reaction the "body-swap illusion."

"Our subjects experienced this illusion as being exciting and strange, and often said that they wanted to come back and try it again," says Petkova, who reported the findings November 17 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

http://snipurl.com/5sbo8


Bugs, Brains and Trivia
from Smithsonian Magazine

Entomology students aren't normally the ones under the microscope, but at the annual Linnaean Games, a national insect trivia competition, they are scrutinized as closely as their own six-legged subjects.

Before a crowd of more than a thousand, the larval scholars—mostly PhD candidates—struggle with categories like "Name That Pest" and "Know Your Bug Families." They tackle current events—this year, expect questions on the emerald ash borer, a beetle poised to wipe out the nation's ash trees—and high culture. Who wrote the poem "My Butterfly?" (Robert Frost.) Who composed "Flight of the Bumblebee?" (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.)

But the ant lion's share of the 16 questions at the championships, held Nov. 18 at the Entomological Society of America's meeting in Reno, Nev., will likely be along the lines of this pop quiz: "Name the family of beetles that has one set of eyes on the top of its body and one set below."

http://snipurl.com/5sbwg


Tunnelling Nanotubes: Life's Secret Network
from New Scientist

Had Amin Rustom not messed up, he would not have stumbled upon one of the biggest discoveries in biology of recent times. It all began in 2000, when he saw something strange under his microscope. A very long, thin tube had formed between two of the rat cells that he was studying. It looked like nothing he had ever seen before.

His supervisor, Hans-Hermann Gerdes, asked him to repeat the experiment. Rustom did, and saw nothing unusual. When Gerdes grilled him, Rustom admitted that the first time around he had not followed the standard protocol of swapping the liquid in which the cells were growing between observations. Gerdes made him redo the experiment, mistakes and all, and there they were again: long, delicate connections between cells. This was something new—a previously unknown way in which animal cells can communicate with each other.

Gerdes and Rustom, then at Heidelberg University in Germany, called the connections tunnelling nanotubes. Aware that they might be onto something significant, the duo slogged away to produce convincing evidence and eventually published a landmark paper in 2004.

http://snipurl.com/5sckf


Found: An Ancient Monument to the Soul
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

In a mountainous kingdom in what is now southeastern Turkey, there lived in the eighth century B.C. a royal official, Kuttamuwa, who oversaw the completion of an inscribed stone monument, or stele, to be erected upon his death. The words instructed mourners to commemorate his life and afterlife with feasts "for my soul that is in this stele."

University of Chicago archaeologists who made the discovery last summer in ruins of a walled city near the Syrian border said the stele provided the first written evidence that the people in this region held to the religious concept of the soul apart from the body. By contrast, Semitic contemporaries, including the Israelites, believed that the body and soul were inseparable, which for them made cremation unthinkable, as noted in the Bible.

Circumstantial evidence, archaeologists said, indicated that the people at Sam'al, the ancient city, practiced cremation. The site is known today as Zincirli (pronounced ZIN-jeer-lee). Other scholars said the find could lead to important insights into the dynamics of cultural contact and exchange in the borderlands of antiquity where Indo-European and Semitic people interacted in the Iron Age.

http://snipurl.com/5sd0e 


Less Stress May Help Cancer Patients Live Longer, Study Finds
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Psychological counseling, muscle relaxation and other strategies for reducing stress in breast cancer patients can cut their risk of death from the disease by more than half, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Cancer.

The study also found that psychological interventions reduced the risk that tumors would come back by 45%. Even when tumors returned, patients who received the counseling had six more cancer-free months compared with those who did not.

The researchers, led by psychology professor Barbara Andersen of Ohio State University, focused on stress reduction as a primary reason why patients appeared to benefit from group counseling sessions. But other scientists said there still wasn't enough evidence to support that idea.

http://snipurl.com/5se26


Great Pyramid Mystery to Be Solved by Hidden Room?
from National Geographic News

A sealed space in Egypt's Great Pyramid may help solve a centuries-old mystery: How did the ancient Egyptians move two million 2.5-ton blocks to build the ancient wonder?

The little-known cavity may support the theory that the 4,500-year-old monument to Pharaoh Khufu was constructed inside out, via a spiraling, inclined interior tunnel—an idea that contradicts the prevailing wisdom that the monuments were built using an external ramp.

The inside-out theory's key proponent, French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, says for centuries Egyptologists have ignored evidence staring them in the face. "The paradigm was wrong," Houdin said. "The idea that the pyramids were built from the outside was just wrong. How can you resolve a problem when the first element you introduce in your thinking is wrong?"

http://snipurl.com/5t8tw


Big Hop Forward: Scientists Map Kangaroo's DNA
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

SYDNEY, Australia (Associated Press)—Taking a big hop forward in marsupial research, scientists say they have unraveled the DNA of a small kangaroo named Matilda. And they've found the Aussie icon has more in common with humans than scientists had thought. The kangaroo last shared a common ancestor with humans 150 million years ago.

"We've been surprised at how similar the genomes are," said Jenny Graves, director of the government-backed research effort. "Great chunks of the genome are virtually identical."

The scientists also discovered 14 previously unknown genes in the kangaroo and suspect the same ones are also in humans, Graves said.

http://snipurl.com/5tb1z


EPA Moves to Ease Air Rules for Parks
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing.

Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the administration's push to weaken Clean Air Act protections for "Class 1 areas" nationwide has sparked fierce resistance from senior agency officials. All but two of the regional administrators objecting to the proposed rule are political appointees.

The proposal would change the practice of measuring pollution levels near national parks, which is currently done over three-hour and 24-hour increments to capture emission spikes during periods of peak energy demand; instead, the levels would be averaged over a year. Under this system, spikes in pollution would no longer violate the law.

http://snipurl.com/5wu4w


Doctors Transplant Windpipe with Stem Cells
from USA Today

LONDON (Associated Press)—Doctors have given a woman a new windpipe with tissue grown from her own stem cells, eliminating the need for anti-rejection drugs.

"This technique has great promise," said Dr. Eric Genden, who did a similar transplant in 2005 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. That operation used both donor and recipient tissue. Only a handful of windpipe, or trachea, transplants have ever been done.

If successful, the procedure could become a new standard of treatment, said Genden, who was not involved in the research. The results were published online Wednesday in the medical journal, The Lancet.

http://snipurl.com/5wuhh

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 08, 2009, 05:45:30 pm
December 16, 2008

Hard Task for New Team on Energy and Climate
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON—The team President-elect Barack Obama introduced on Monday to carry out his energy and environmental policies faces a host of political, economic, diplomatic and scientific challenges that could impede his plans to address global warming and America's growing dependence on dirty and uncertain sources of energy.

Acknowledging that a succession of presidents and Congresses had failed to make much progress on the issues, Mr. Obama vowed to press ahead despite the faltering economy and suggested that he would invest his political capital in trying to break logjams.

... Shortly after Mr. Obama spoke, transition officials confirmed that he would select Senator Ken Salazar, a first-term Democrat from Colorado, as interior secretary. Mr. Salazar's appointment will complete the team of environmental and energy officials in the new administration. The most pressing environmental issue for the incoming team will almost certainly be settling on an effective and politically tenable approach to the intertwined issues of energy security and global warming.

http://snipurl.com/8f3wv


Uncertainty Clouds Transition at NASA
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

These are awkward times at NASA, which may or may not have a new leader soon and may or may not be on the verge of building a brand-new moon rocket.

There has been a kerfuffle about a tense discussion in the headquarters library between NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and the leader of President-elect  Barack Obama's transition team for the agency. There have been reports of cost overruns and delays in major NASA missions. Someone leaked an e-mail in which Griffin referred to a Bush administration "jihad" against the space shuttle. A former NASA official blasted the agency in an op-ed column. The comments posted on space blogs are full of rancor, accusations and anxiety.

Hovering over everything are cosmic quantities of uncertainty, a real problem in an agency in which missions are planned many years in advance, broad strategies take decades to implement and the engineering is customized down to the last bolt.

http://snipurl.com/89fwo


Hawaii's Honeyeater Birds Tricked Taxonomists
from Science News

Five species of Hawaiian birds have made fools of taxonomists for more than 200 years, thanks to a fine bit of evolutionary illusion-making.

O‘o and kioea birds, now extinct, specialized in feeding on flower nectar using long, curved bills and split tongues tipped with brushes or fringe. Since Captain Cook's expedition introduced the birds to western science, they have been classified in the honeyeater family with similar-looking nectar sippers living in New Guinea and Australia.

DNA from museum specimens of the Hawaiian species shows that the birds weren't a kind of honeyeater at all, according to Robert Fleischer of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Instead the Hawaiians' resemblance to the western Pacific birds offers a new and dramatic example of how evolution within different lineages can converge on similar forms for similar jobs, he and his colleagues report online December 11 in Current Biology.

http://snipurl.com/89lxf


New Study Firmly Ties Hormone Use to Breast Cancer
from USA Today

SAN ANTONIO (Associated Press)—Taking menopause hormones for five years doubles the risk for breast cancer, according to a new analysis of a big federal study that reveals the most dramatic evidence yet of the dangers of these still-popular pills.

Even women who took estrogen and progestin pills for as little as a couple of years had a greater chance of getting cancer. And when they stopped taking them, their odds quickly improved, returning to a normal risk level roughly two years after quitting.

Collectively, these new findings are likely to end any doubt that the risks outweigh the benefits for most women. It is clear that breast cancer rates plunged in recent years mainly because millions of women quit hormone therapy and fewer newly menopausal women started on it, said the study's leader, Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

http://snipurl.com/89hk9 


Obesity 'Controlled by the Brain'
from BBC News Online

Seven new gene variants discovered by scientists suggest strongly that obesity is largely a mind problem.

The findings suggest the brain plays the dominant role in controlling appetite, and that obesity cannot easily be blamed on metabolic flaws. Two international studies, published in Nature Genetics, examined samples from thousands of people for the tiniest genetic changes.

Many of the seven key variants seem to be active in the brain. This suggests that the brain's impact on appetite and eating behaviour may be more important that any genetic variation which alters the body's ability to lay down or burn up fat.

http://snipurl.com/89i0n


Darwin's Living Legacy—Evolutionary Theory 150 Years Later
from Scientific American

When the 26-year-old Charles Darwin sailed into the Galápagos Islands in 1835 onboard the HMS Beagle, he took little notice of a collection of birds that are now intimately associated with his name. The naturalist, in fact, misclassified as grosbeaks some of the birds that are now known as Darwin's finches.

After Darwin returned to England, ornithologist and artist John Gould began to make illustrations of a group of preserved bird specimens brought back in the Beagle's hold, and the artist recognized them all to be different species of finches.

... Darwin's famed finches play a continuing role in providing answers. The scientist had assumed that evolution proceeded slowly, over "the lapse of ages," a pace imperceptible to the short lifetime of human observers. Instead the finches have turned into ideal research subjects for studying evolution in real time because they breed relatively rapidly, are isolated on different islands and rarely migrate.

http://snipurl.com/89mav


Airborne Laser Lets Rip on First Target
from New Scientist

Imagine swarms of aircraft patrolling the skies, zapping missiles, aircraft or even satellites in low Earth orbit with invisible, ultrapowerful laser beams. Such laser battles in the sky may not be such a long way off, after a megawatt laser weapon was fired from an aircraft for the first time.

Although the Airborne Laser (ABL) was fired from a stationary plane at a target on the ground just a few metres away, the test marked a milestone for the weapon, developed by aerospace firms Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

The laser was 12 years in the making and cost $4.3 billion, putting it vastly over budget. The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) calls it the answer to "rogue states" or terror groups who equip themselves with intercontinental ballistic missiles, such as Scuds. Yet the ABL may soon be used to shoot down a much wider range of devices—including aircraft—and is just one of a number of laser weapons now being readied for military use.

http://snipurl.com/89mvn 


Lost Species Slowly Emerge from the Greater Mekong
from the Times (London)

Striped rabbits, bright pink millipedes laced with cyanide and a spider bigger than a dinner plate are among a host of new species discovered in a remote wildlife hotspot.

The Greater Mekong is described as one of the last scientifically unexplored regions of the world and it abounds in life seen nowhere else in the world.

So little is known about the ecology of the region that previously unknown animals and plants have been turning up at a rate of two a week for a decade. At least 1,068 new species were identified in the Greater Mekong from 1997 to 2007 along with several thousand tiny invertebrates.

http://snipurl.com/89pr8


Enceladus Has 'Spreading Surface'
from BBC News Online

A US space agency (Nasa) probe has witnessed a moon of Saturn do something very unusual and Earth-like.

Pictures of the icy satellite Enceladus suggest its surface splits and spreads apart—just like the ocean floor on our planet splits to create new crust. The information was released at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

The data from the Cassini spacecraft is said to strengthen the idea that Enceladus harbours a sub-surface sea. "Bit by bit, we're accumulating the evidence that there is liquid water on Enceladus," said Carolyn Porco, team leader of the Cassini imaging group and one of the senior scientists on the mission.

http://snipurl.com/8fav4 


FDA Will Continue To Study Bisphenol A
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The Food and Drug Administration, criticized by its own scientific advisers for ignoring available data about health risks posed by a chemical found in everyday plastic, said yesterday it has no plans to amend its position on the substance but will continue to study it.

The agency has been reviewing its risk assessments for bisphenol A, a chemical used to harden plastic that is found in a wide variety of products, from baby bottles to compact discs to the lining of canned goods. The chemical, commonly called BPA, mimics estrogen and may disrupt the body's carefully calibrated endocrine system.

BPA is found in the urine of more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists believe it is most easily ingested after leaching from plastic containers into food and drink. In September, the first large study of BPA in humans found that people with higher levels of bisphenol A had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities.

http://snipurl.com/8fb8s

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 08, 2009, 05:46:33 pm
December 15, 2008

Mood Mixed as Climate Summit Ends
from BBC News Online

The UN climate summit has ended with delegates taking very different views on how much it has achieved. Western delegates said progress here had been encouraging, but environment groups said rich countries had not shown enough ambition.

Developing nations were angry that more money was not put forward to protect against climate impacts. The meeting is the halfway point on a two-year process aimed at reaching a deal in Copenhagen by the end of 2009.

As envisaged at last year's conference in Bali, that agreement is supposed to have two major elements—an expanded Kyoto Protocol-style deal committing industrialised countries to deeper emission cuts in the mid-term, perhaps by 2020, and a longer-term agreement encompassing all countries.

http://snipurl.com/7yyk7


Study of Tumor Recurrence May Change Drug Guidelines
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

A particularly fast-growing form of breast cancer should be treated aggressively after surgery even when tumors are very small, according to new research that could alter treatment for one in five women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The research, reported Friday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, focuses on the 15 percent to 20 percent of women with breast cancer who test positive for an amplification of the HER2 gene, which is typically among the most aggressive forms of the disease.

Today, a targeted therapy called Herceptin, made by the biotech company Genentech, has greatly improved the odds for women with HER2-positive cancer. Recent studies show the drug reduces the recurrence of these cancers by about half.

http://snipurl.com/7yz9d


Atomic John
from the New Yorker

The single, blinding release of pure energy over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, marked a startling and permanent break with our prior understandings of the visible world. Yet for more than sixty years the technology behind the explosion has remained a state secret.

The United States government has never divulged the engineering specifications of the first atomic bombs, not even after other countries have produced generations of ever more powerful nuclear weapons. In the decades since the Second World War, dozens of historians have attempted to divine the precise mechanics of the Hiroshima bomb ...

But the most accurate account of the bomb's inner workings ... has been written by a sixty-one-year-old truck driver from Waukesha, Wisconsin, named John Coster-Mullen, who was once a commercial photographer, and has never received a college degree.

http://snipurl.com/7z22s


New Rule Expands DNA Collection to All People Arrested
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Immigration and civil liberties groups condemned a new U.S. government policy to collect DNA samples from all noncitizens detained by authorities and all people arrested for federal crimes.

The new Justice Department rule, published Wednesday and effective Jan. 9, dramatically expands a federal law enforcement database of genetic identifiers, which is now limited to storing information about convicted criminals and arrestees from 13 states.

Congress authorized the expansion in 2005, citing the power of DNA as a tool in crime solving and prevention.

http://snipurl.com/83yes


The Remedist: John Maynard Keynes
from the New York Times Magazine (Registration Required)

... Today, [John Maynard] Keynes is justly enjoying a comeback. For the same "intellectual edifice" that [Alan] Greenspan said has now collapsed was what supported the laissez-faire policies Keynes quarreled with in his times.

Then, as now, economists believed that all uncertainty could be reduced to measurable risk. So asset prices always reflected fundamentals, and unregulated markets would in general be very stable.

By contrast, Keynes created an economics whose starting point was that not all future events could be reduced to measurable risk. There was a residue of genuine uncertainty, and this made disaster an ever-present possibility, not a once-in-a-lifetime "shock." Investment was more an act of faith than a scientific calculation of probabilities. And in this fact lay the possibility of huge systemic mistakes.

http://snipurl.com/83xka


The Living Dead and the Afterlife
from the Times (London)

... [Near Death Experiences] are so common, so vivid and so life-transforming—survivors frequently become more compassionate, religious and serene as a result of what they experience—that scientists, philosophers, priests, psychologists and cultists all want a piece of the action.

Their problem is that the human mind is unreachable. We can't see what's going on in there. Even if we could rush cardiac-arrest patients into an MRI scanner, we'd only see lights in the brain. We wouldn't know what they meant.

But now NDEs are to be scientifically investigated in a US and UK study involving 25 hospitals. This is co-ordinated by Dr Sam Parnia at Southampton University and is designed to find 1,500 survivors of cardiac arrests—"clinical death"—who tell such stories.

http://snipurl.com/83zow


T. Rex, Other Dinosaurs Had Heads Full of Air
from National Geographic News

Dinosaurs were airheads—and that's not just because they had tiny brains, a new study says.

New 3-D scans of the skulls of Tyrannosaurus rex and other dinosaurs reveal the creatures had more empty space inside their heads than previously thought. These air spaces made the skulls light but strong and could have helped dinosaurs breathe, communicate, and hunt.

The extra room may even have paved the way for flight in some species. "Air is a neglected system that is actually an important contributor to what animals do," said study co-author Lawrence Witmer, a paleontologist at Ohio University in Athens.

http://snipurl.com/840ef


Stock Market Game May Predict Eco Disasters
from New Scientist

Stock markets could forecast the availability of water more accurately than the best computer models used by environmental scientists. That's the idea behind the launch of an online market which invites "traders" to gamble on future water levels in dams in Australia.

The Australian Knowledge Exchange works by giving traders A$100,000 (US$65,000) play money and 1000 stocks in each of five reservoirs in New South Wales. The stocks pay out each month according to the level of the dam. If the dam is full, they are worth $100. Traders can profit by buying stocks for less than their final value, or by selling them for more.

The online market is the brainchild of a team from the government agency CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems in Canberra, Australia, and the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.

http://snipurl.com/840t3


Tools with Handles Even More Ancient
from Science News

In a gripping instance of Stone Age survival, Neandertals used a tarlike substance to fasten sharpened stones to handles as early as 70,000 years ago, a new study suggests.

Stone points and sharpened flakes unearthed in Syria since 2000 contain the residue of bitumen—a natural, adhesive substance—on spots where the implements would have been secured to handles of some type, according to a team led by archaeologist Eric Boëda of University of Paris X, Nanterre.

The process of attaching a tool to a handle is known as hafting. The Neandertals likely found the bitumen in nearby tar sands, the team reports.

http://snipurl.com/841gr 


Carbon Nanotube Clothing Could Take Charge in an Emergency
from Scientific American

A soldier is badly wounded on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq by a roadside explosive. As he lies beside his vehicle, unable to reach his radio to contact his unit on his location and condition, blood from the wound seeps into his shirt. Luckily, its fibers are coated with cylindrical, nanosize carbon molecules that contain antibodies able to detect the presence of albumin, a protein common in blood.

The shirt senses that its wearer is bleeding and sends a signal through the shirt's carbon nanotubes ... that activates an emergency radio-frequency beacon on the soldier's belt. This distress call is picked up by a nearby patrol that rushes to the aid of their wounded comrade.

This may be the stuff of science fiction, but ongoing development of fabrics coated with carbon nanotubes and other nanoscale substances could someday make such smart clothing a reality, says Nicholas Kotov, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

http://snipurl.com/842o5

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Telarus on January 08, 2009, 07:24:08 pm
Good roundup. I enjoyed the 'Tunneling Nanotube' and the 'Hawaiian Birds' stories, thanks Kai!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on January 10, 2009, 04:45:41 am
This is just awesome.
Scripps scientists develop first examples of RNA that replicates itself indefinitely (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-01/sri-ssd010909.php)

A few years after Tracey Lincoln arrived at Scripps Research from Jamaica to pursue her Ph.D., she began exploring the RNA-only replication concept along with her advisor, Professor Gerald Joyce, M.D., Ph.D., who is also Dean of the Faculty at Scripps Research. Their work began with a method of forced adaptation known as in vitro evolution. The goal was to take one of the RNA enzymes already developed in the lab that could perform the basic chemistry of replication, and improve it to the point that it could drive efficient, perpetual self-replication.

"This is the only case outside biology where molecular information has been immortalized," says Joyce.

But the main value of the work, according to Joyce, is at the basic research level. "What we've found could be relevant to how life begins, at that key moment when Darwinian evolution starts." He is quick to point out that, while the self-replicating RNA enzyme systems share certain characteristics of life, they are not themselves a form of life.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 15, 2009, 10:47:55 pm
http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2009/01/prehistoric_venomous_mammal_ca.php (http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2009/01/prehistoric_venomous_mammal_ca.php)

Solenodon species finally caught on video. This is one of two species in the Carribean that are the last of a lineage dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. The species today are very similar to what they would have been like 65 million years ago. Plus, its another one of those venomous mammals, like the Platypus, although unlike the platypus its a live bearer. More or less, it looks like a giant rat tailed shrew and reminds me of a ROUS. One of those animals you ordinarily would only see dead (like the Giant squid), so seeing it alive and filmed is pretty awesome.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Nast on January 15, 2009, 11:07:55 pm
http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2009/01/prehistoric_venomous_mammal_ca.php (http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2009/01/prehistoric_venomous_mammal_ca.php)

Solenodon species finally caught on video. This is one of two species in the Carribean that are the last of a lineage dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. The species today are very similar to what they would have been like 65 million years ago. Plus, its another one of those venomous mammals, like the Platypus, although unlike the platypus its a live bearer. More or less, it looks like a giant rat tailed shrew and reminds me of a ROUS. One of those animals you ordinarily would only see dead (like the Giant squid), so seeing it alive and filmed is pretty awesome.

It's also ADORABLE!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Telarus on January 16, 2009, 10:32:36 am
Good photo spread here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/3901029/Mount-Mabu-Mozambique-Scientists-discover-new-forest-with-undiscovered-species-on-Google-Earth.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/3901029/Mount-Mabu-Mozambique-Scientists-discover-new-forest-with-undiscovered-species-on-Google-Earth.html)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 16, 2009, 12:11:12 pm
Good photo spread here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/3901029/Mount-Mabu-Mozambique-Scientists-discover-new-forest-with-undiscovered-species-on-Google-Earth.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/3901029/Mount-Mabu-Mozambique-Scientists-discover-new-forest-with-undiscovered-species-on-Google-Earth.html)

I love this sort of shit.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 16, 2009, 03:29:15 pm
http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/01/tafkami-walks.html (http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/01/tafkami-walks.html)

A really bizarre amoeboid that moves by walking. It extends a pseudopod forward and latches to the substrate, pulls itself up over the pseudopod until that is behind it, and then stretches out a new one releasing the old one.

People also have no clue where to place it taxonomically. No mitochondria either.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 16, 2009, 04:09:45 pm
This picture cracks me up:

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01210/chameleon_1210443i.jpg)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on January 16, 2009, 07:46:00 pm
mmmmmmmm chameleon pringle
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 23, 2009, 12:46:21 am
http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2009/01/climbing_catfish_found_named.php (http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2009/01/climbing_catfish_found_named.php) Climbing catfish!

http://www.livescience.com/health/080118-super-contacts.html Electronic contacts!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on January 23, 2009, 02:47:08 am
Quote
http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2009/01/climbing_catfish_found_named.php Climbing catfish!

a fish with legs, fun for all creationists
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on January 23, 2009, 03:14:05 am
Kai, you're gonna love this one:
Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.600-why-darwin-was-wrong-about-the-tree-of-life.html)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 23, 2009, 07:40:02 pm
Kai, you're gonna love this one:
Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.600-why-darwin-was-wrong-about-the-tree-of-life.html)

yeah yeah yeah! As you get closer and closer to LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor), the 'tree' becomes a mess of gene exchange between species.

the tree (or better yet, bush) analogy works for the apomorphic Eukaryota, but for Archaea, Bacteria, and the basal common ancestors you really can't resolve any sort of tree like structure, and as the article says this is because of things like horizontal gene transfer.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;284/5423/2124 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;284/5423/2124) This article has some awesome clarification of all this stuff.

This.

(http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol284/issue5423/images/medium/se2497604002.gif)

Compared with this.

(http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol284/issue5423/images/medium/se2497604003.gif)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on January 23, 2009, 09:14:34 pm
Yeah, but creotards and IDiots are still going to take it completely out of context.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 23, 2009, 09:28:06 pm
Yeah, but creotards and IDiots are still going to take it completely out of context.

Fuck those worthless bags of shit. Let them have bloodletting and leeches.

Kai,

Has absolutely no sympathy for purposefully ignorant fucks right now.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on January 23, 2009, 11:07:22 pm
 :lulz: I approve of this attitude.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on January 25, 2009, 01:52:07 am
I'm bored, so it's cancer time.

Cancer-causing gene discovery suggests new therapies (http://news.ucsf.edu/releases/cancer-causing-gene-discovery-suggests-new-therapies/)

When the protein myc is broken it can cause cancer.  For a while research has focused on it's effect on transcription, but researchers at the University of California, San Fransisco have shown that it can effect the final stages of protein synthesis.  This may allow for new methods for treating cancer, or more accurately, using old methods to treat cancer.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on January 31, 2009, 07:02:53 am
January 29, 2009



Peanut Product Recall Grows in Salmonella Scare
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON--One of the largest food contamination scares in the nation's history grew far larger on Wednesday as a Georgia peanut plant that federal regulators said knowingly shipped contaminated food recalled even more products.

Already, more than 400 consumer products, including Jenny Craig nutritional bars and Keebler Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, have been recalled after eight people died and more than 500 people in 43 states, half of them children, were sickened by salmonella poisoning.

On Wednesday, the Peanut Corporation of America, whose plant in Blakely, Ga., is the source of the contamination, expanded its recall from all products made since July to all those made since Jan. 1, 2007. The company supplied some of the largest food makers in the nation.

http://snipr.com/axzoc



Are Doctors Minimizing Side Effects of Statins?
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

Doctors who prescribe an increasingly popular family of drugs to prevent strokes and heart attacks may be downplaying the wide range of side effects, said a UCSD researcher who helped analyze nearly 900 studies of cholesterol-lowering statins.

Physicians who fail to recognize those complications--willfully or through ignorance--could put patients at risk of developing more serious health problems, according to the review, published yesterday by the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs.

Memory loss, insomnia, numbness in the fingers and toes, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, vision impairment and several dozen other conditions that surfaced in the studies are rarely blamed on statins when they occur outside clinical trials, the report said. Muscle and liver damage are the best-known side effects. But even then, too many doctors dismiss muscle soreness, pain and weakness as symptoms linked to other factors such as aging, the review concluded.

http://snipr.com/axzqh



Feb. 17 Digital TV Conversion Is Still on After House Vote
from the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)--Bucking the Obama administration, House Republicans on Wednesday defeated a bill to postpone the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12--leaving the current Feb. 17 deadline intact for now.

The 258-168 vote failed to clear the two-thirds threshold needed for passage. It's a victory for the GOP members, who warn that postponing the transition would confuse consumers.

The House Republicans say a delay also would burden wireless companies and public safety agencies waiting for the spectrum that will be vacated by the switchover, and create added costs for television stations that would have to continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals for four more months.

http://snipr.com/axzsk



Birth of Octuplets Rattles Fertility Experts
from the Chicago Tribune (Registration Required)

Even as the birth of octuplets at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center drew attention and applause from around the country, questions arose Tuesday about whether the mother's doctors did enough to prevent such a risky pregnancy.

The chances that the eight babies born Monday were conceived naturally are infinitesimal, infertility specialists and doctors in maternal-fetal medicine say. Today's reproductive experts have the tools and the know-how to avoid such high-risk pregnancies--and often try desperately to do so.

"When we see something like this in the general fertility world, it gives us the heebie-jeebies," said Michael Tucker, a clinical embryologist in Atlanta and a leading researcher in infertility treatment. Tucker added that in his opinion, "if a medical practitioner had anything to do with it, there's some degree of inappropriate medical therapy there."

http://snipr.com/axzui



One Concussion Enough: Sports Study
from the Toronto Star

A single head blow during their playing days can leave athletes with significant physical and mental problems three decades after they've hung up their equipment, a new Canadian study says.

In the longest-term look ever at concussions in sports, University of Montreal researchers showed that athletes who had suffered even one minor bell ringing on the ice or football field had measurable brain and body reflex impairments 30 years later.

"You don't need to be knocked out or lose consciousness. A ding is enough to make these brain changes," said senior study author Maryse Lassonde, a University of Montreal neuropsychologist. "If you see stars, that's enough ... and we can see the effects many years later," said Lassonde, who has been neuropsychologist for the Montreal Canadiens for 11 years. The research was published online Tuesday by the journal Brain.

http://snipr.com/axzvu



Primate Dialects Recorded in South America--A First
from National Geographic News

The accents and dialects that add so much variety--and sometimes confusion--to everyday life are not unique to humans, and they may be more common in primates than previously thought.

Researchers have found the first evidence for regional vocal differences in a South American primate, the pygmy marmoset. Marmoset groups in Ecuador were recorded using unique vocalizations when communicating over distances up to 64 feet.

"The variations could be linked to habitat, with different pitches and durations being useful in different densities of forest," said lead researcher Stella de la Torre, an ecologist at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. However, de la Torre suggests, it is also possible that the differences are the result of social interactions.

http://snipr.com/axzxi



Kidney Donors Have a Normal Life Span, Study Finds
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Potential kidney donors can stop worrying about the long-term effects such a donation might have on their health and longevity.

The first long-term study of kidney donors has found that people who give kidneys to others not only have a normal life span, they also have fewer kidney problems than the general population--perhaps because they are healthier to begin with.

"We've suspected all along that kidney donation is a safe practice, but there has never been a long-term study with large numbers of patients in the United States," said Dr. Hassan N. Ibrahim of the University of Minnesota Medical School, who led the study. The report published today in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed the outcome for nearly 3,700 donors who were studied for as long as 40 years.

http://snipr.com/axzzf



Spent Nuclear Fuel: Deadly Trash Heap or Renewable Energy Source?
from Scientific American

... In 1987 Congress passed legislation that required the Department of Energy (DoE) to take possession of and properly store the spent fuel from the nation's 104 nuclear reactors by the then far-off date of February 1998. Now 11 years behind schedule, the DoE's primary response--to bury it deep within Yucca Mountain--is no closer to being a permanent solution.

The Energy Department last June finally applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ... for a license to build the repository at Yucca. But taxpayers still spend roughly $1 billion a year in fines paid by the federal government to utilities to compensate them for the delay.

All told, the nuclear reactors in the U.S. produce more than 2,000 metric tons of radioactive waste a year, according to the DoE--and most of it ends up sitting on-site because there is nowhere else to put it. ... In 1972 General Electric Co. closed a building in Morris, Ill., that would have presented another alternative solution to the problem of nuclear waste: reprocessing.

http://snipr.com/ay026



Six Biggest Mysteries of Our Solar System
from New Scientist

Once upon a time, 4.6 billion years ago, something was brewing in an unremarkable backwater of the Milky Way. The ragbag of stuff that suffuses the inconsequential, in-between bits of all galaxies--hydrogen and helium gas with just a sprinkling of solid dust--had begun to condense and form molecules. Unable to resist its own weight, part of this newly formed molecular cloud collapsed in on itself. In the ensuing heat and confusion, a star was born--our sun.

We don't know exactly what kick-started this process. Perhaps, with pleasing symmetry, it was the shock wave from the explosive death throes of a nearby star. It was not, at any rate, a particularly unusual event. It had happened countless times since the Milky Way itself came into existence about 13 billion years ago, and in our telescopes we can see it still going on in distant parts of our galaxy today. As stars go, the sun is nothing out of the ordinary.

And yet, as far as we know, it is unique. From a thin disc of stuff left over from its birth, eight planets formed, trapped in orbit by its gravity. One of those planets settled into a peculiarly tranquil relationship with its star and its fellow planets. Eventually, creatures emerged on it that began to wonder how their neighbourhood came to be as it is--and could formulate six enduring mysteries of our familiar, and yet deeply mysterious, solar system.

http://snipr.com/ay03v



New Science Could Help Solve Climate Crisis
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

LONDON (Reuters)--A new science that seeks to fight climate change using methods like giant space mirrors might not work on its own, but when combined with cuts in greenhouse gases it may help reverse global warming, a research report said.

In the report published on Wednesday, researchers at Britain's University of East Anglia assessed the climate cooling potential of "geoengineering" schemes that also include pumping aerosol into the atmosphere and fertilizing the oceans with nutrients.

"We found that some geoengineering options could usefully complement mitigation, and together they could cool the climate, but geoengineering alone cannot solve the climate problem," said Professor Tim Lenton, the report's lead author. Geoengineering involves large-scale manipulation of the environment in an attempt to combat the potentially devastating effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

http://snipr.com/ay069



Been a while, hasn't it? Truth is, I get these from my adviser, and what with everything going on with him right now, he hasn't really had the time to pay attention I think.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2009, 07:14:04 pm
Well, that concussion thing is mildly alarming, as I've had perhaps three or four. :(
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Elder Iptuous on February 01, 2009, 02:39:37 am
Anyone see this one?
'An extinct animal has been brought back to life for the first time after being cloned from frozen tissue.'
http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php?action=post;topic=17231.270;num_replies=278
Died shortly after birth due to lung defects, but still significant, no?
next up..... Raptors!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 01, 2009, 04:40:35 am
I don't think that this is the link you are talking about....:/
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 01, 2009, 05:29:21 am
http://whyfiles.org/shorties/276locust/ (http://whyfiles.org/shorties/276locust/)

Legs Touching: Why locusts swarm.

srsly.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Template on February 01, 2009, 09:51:59 pm
Anyone see this one?
'An extinct animal has been brought back to life for the first time after being cloned from frozen tissue.'
http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php?action=post;topic=17231.270;num_replies=278
Died shortly after birth due to lung defects, but still significant, no?
next up..... Raptors!


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/4409958/Extinct-ibex-is-resurrected-by-cloning.html

Got that for ya
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 01, 2009, 10:03:13 pm
I WANT TO TOUCH MY LEGS TO YOUR LEGS
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 01, 2009, 10:04:01 pm
There are delicious mammoths waiting to be brought back from extinction.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 01, 2009, 10:09:23 pm
There are delicious mammoths waiting to be brought back from extinction.

Honestly, I care less about mammoths and more about the more recent extinctions.

Just think if we could bring back passenger pidgeons.

Kai,

would love to live to see that day.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: fomenter on February 01, 2009, 10:11:05 pm
i want mammoth steak now!!!! get you ass in gear scientists
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Triple Zero on February 01, 2009, 11:41:02 pm
T-Bone Rex!

didnt the Flintstones have a brontoburger?

i'll have the double dodo burger deluxe :D
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Cainad (dec.) on February 02, 2009, 06:13:37 am
I WANT TO TOUCH MY LEGS TO YOUR LEGS

How gregarious!
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Requia ☣ on February 02, 2009, 08:49:19 am
There are delicious mammoths waiting to be brought back from extinction.

Honestly, I care less about mammoths and more about the more recent extinctions.

Just think if we could bring back passenger pidgeons.

Kai,

would love to live to see that day.

I want a giant ground sloth.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 02, 2009, 12:56:07 pm
http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/02/of-gregarines.html (http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/02/of-gregarines.html)

a group of the parasitic Sporozoans (Protozoa), about the systematics etcetera. Thanks again Cat. of organisms for informing on obscure clades of life.

http://bedbugger.com/2009/02/01/lou-sorkin-and-bill-schutt-feeding-lous-bed-bug-colony/ (http://bedbugger.com/2009/02/01/lou-sorkin-and-bill-schutt-feeding-lous-bed-bug-colony/)

A very disturbing video of bedbug colonies and feeding by the writers of Dark Banquet.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on February 02, 2009, 04:42:05 pm
There are delicious mammoths waiting to be brought back from extinction.

Honestly, I care less about mammoths and more about the more recent extinctions.

Just think if we could bring back passenger pidgeons.

Kai,

would love to live to see that day.

I want a giant ground sloth.
TITCM(egafauna)

(http://www.pts.org.tw/~web02/beasts/evidence/prog5/images/evi_megatherium_large.jpg)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 02, 2009, 08:43:36 pm
Today's Headlines - February 2, 2009

 

Glaciers around the World Found Shrinking for 18th Year
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

BERLIN - Glaciers from the Andes to Alaska and across the Alps shrank as much as 10 feet, the 18th year of retreat and twice as fast as a decade ago, as global warming threatens an important supply of the world's water.

Alpine glaciers lost on average 0.7 meters of thickness in 2007, data published yesterday by the University of Zurich's World Glacier Monitoring Service showed. The melting extends an 11-meter retreat since 1980.

"One year doesn't tell us much, it's really these long-term trends that help us to understand what's going on," Michael Zemp, a researcher at the University of Zurich's Department of Geography, said in an interview. "The main thing that we can do to stop this is reduce greenhouse gases" that are blamed for global warming.

http://snipr.com/b5r5y

 

Triceratops' Horns Were for Fighting, Research Shows
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The dinosaurs' headgear wasn't just ornamentation, says a Claremont researcher. Probably the creatures battled for mating supremacy the way modern horned mammals do.

Many types of dinosaurs had elaborate sets of horns and frills, and scientists have argued for decades about whether such features were strictly ornamental or meant for fighting. A Claremont researcher has now found firm evidence that they were meant for internecine warfare.

Andrew A. Farke, curator of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology on the campus of the Webb Schools, and his colleagues studied fossilized bones from Triceratops specimens in museums throughout North America. Triceratops had a pair of massive horns on its head and a shorter horn on its snout, as well as a shield-like frill around its neck.

http://snipr.com/b5ra7

 

Acid Oceans 'Need Urgent Action'
from BBC News Online

The world's marine ecosystems risk being severely damaged by ocean acidification unless there are dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions, warn scientists.

More than 150 top marine researchers have voiced their concerns through the "Monaco Declaration," which warns that changes in acidity are accelerating.

The declaration, supported by Prince Albert II of Monaco, builds on findings from an earlier international summit.

http://snipr.com/b5r90

 

Excess Blood Sugar Could Harm Cognition
from Science News

Chronically elevated blood levels of the simple sugar glucose may contribute to poor cognitive function in elderly people with diabetes, a study in the February Diabetes Care suggests. But whether these levels add to a person's risk of developing dementia is unclear, the study authors say.

People with diabetes face a risk of old-age dementia that's roughly 50 percent greater than those without diabetes, past studies have shown. Research has also hinted that surges in blood sugar might account for some of that added risk. Many previous studies have tested for elevated blood glucose by obtaining a snapshot blood sample taken after a person has fasted for a day.

In the new study, Tali Cukierman-Yaffe, an endocrinologist at Tel-Aviv University and McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, teamed with an international group of colleagues to assess blood glucose levels in nearly 3,000 diabetes patients by measuring A1c, shorthand for HbA1c or glycosylated hemoglobin. Since sugar in the blood sticks to the hemoglobin protein in red blood cells, the A1c test reveals an average sugar level over two or three months.

http://snipr.com/b5rbe

 

Jetting Their Way to a Better Understanding of Global Warming
from Scientific American

BOULDER--Scientists have taken the first crack at solving a fundamental climate mystery, criss-crossing the globe in a souped-up corporate jet to determine where and when greenhouse gases enter and leave the atmosphere.

An understanding of how these climate-warming gases move about the globe is a critical prerequisite for any policy aimed at curbing global warming, scientists said Thursday, and information gained over the next three years will play a crucial role in sharpening future predictions and improving their accuracy.

Using a high performance jet, scientists will take a series of "slices" of the atmosphere over the next few years from pole to pole and from the surface to the atmosphere's upper reaches. ... Scientists running the instruments say they have seen several "wonderful jewels" in the raw data that challenge current thinking and assumptions.

http://snipr.com/b5rc1

 

Extinct Ibex Is Resurrected by Cloning
from the Telegraph (UK)

The Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat, was officially declared extinct in 2000 when the last-known animal of its kind was found dead in northern Spain.

Shortly before its death, scientists preserved skin samples of the goat, a subspecies of the Spanish ibex that live in mountain ranges across the country, in liquid nitrogen.

Using DNA taken from these skin samples, the scientists were able to replace the genetic material in eggs from domestic goats, to clone a female Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as they are known. It is the first time an extinct animal has been cloned.

http://snipr.com/b5rfa

 

Mars Rover May Be Feeling its Age - Finally
from the San Francisco Chronicle

Spirit, the aged and somewhat creaky Mars rover, is stalled on the Red Planet with a touch of bewilderment, but earthbound engineers are confident they'll get the mobile explorer up and running smoothly soon.

The Spirit and its sister rover, Opportunity, landed on Mars five years ago for what was designed as a 90-day mission, but have far exceeded all expectations, exploring successfully on opposite sides of the planet ever since. The only signs of age have been a little wear on the wheels and problems with some of their onboard instruments.

Lately, though, the Spirit apparently is disoriented. The robot vehicle has failed to obey radio commands from Earth to start driving, and has been unable to find the sun, NASA scientists say.

http://snipr.com/b5rg0

 

Where Do Comets Come From?
from New Scientist

Few cosmic apparitions have inspired such awe and fear as comets. The particularly eye-catching Halley's Comet, which last appeared in the inner solar system in 1986, pops up in the Talmud as "a star which appears once in seventy years that makes the captains of the ships err." In 1066, the comet's appearance was seen as a portent of doom before the Battle of Hastings; in 1456, Pope Callixtus III is said to have excommunicated it.

Modern science takes a more measured view. Comets such as Halley's are agglomerations of dust and ice that orbit the sun on highly elliptical paths, acquiring their spectacular tails in the headwind of charged particles streaming from the sun. We even know their source: they are Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) tugged from their regular orbits by Neptune and Uranus.

But there's a problem. Certain comets, such as Hale-Bopp, which flashed past Earth in 1997, appear simply too infrequently in our skies. Their orbits must be very long, far too long to have an origin in the Kuiper belt. The conclusion of many astronomers is that the known solar system is surrounded in all directions by a tenuous halo of icy outcasts, thrown from the sun's immediate vicinity billions of years ago by the gravity of the giant planets.

http://snipr.com/b5rgg

 

Geologist: No Big Energy Bursts at Alaska Volcano
from the San Diego Union-Tribune

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Associated Press) -- Groans and steam emanated from Mount Redoubt yet another day, but the volcano showed no dramatic burst of energy, geologists noted Sunday.

"It looks like a volcano that wants to erupt, and our general impression is that it's more likely to erupt than not," said Tina Neal with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

As a precaution, Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, about 100 miles northeast of Redoubt, was moving five C-17 cargo planes to McChord Air Force Base in Washington.

http://snipr.com/b5rhn

 

Running on Empty: The Pros and Cons of Fasting
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Something about the way Americans eat isn't working -- and hasn't been for a long time. The number of obese Americans is now greater than the number who are merely overweight, according to government figures released last month. It's as if once we taste food, we can't stop until we've gorged ourselves.

Taking that inclination into account, some people are adopting an unusual solution to overeating. Rather than battling temptation in grocery stores, restaurants and their own kitchens, they simply don't eat. At least not at certain times of the day or specific days of the week.

Called intermittent fasting, this rather stark approach to weight control appears to be supported by science, not to mention various religious and cultural practices around the globe. ... "There is something kind of magical about starvation," says Dr. Marc Hellerstein, a professor of endocrinology, metabolism and nutrition at UC Berkeley, who studies fasting.

http://snipr.com/b5rkr

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 02, 2009, 09:36:17 pm
I WANT TO TOUCH MY LEGS TO YOUR LEGS

How gregarious!

 :lulz:
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 02, 2009, 09:40:39 pm
http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/02/of-gregarines.html (http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/02/of-gregarines.html)

a group of the parasitic Sporozoans (Protozoa), about the systematics etcetera. Thanks again Cat. of organisms for informing on obscure clades of life.

http://bedbugger.com/2009/02/01/lou-sorkin-and-bill-schutt-feeding-lous-bed-bug-colony/ (http://bedbugger.com/2009/02/01/lou-sorkin-and-bill-schutt-feeding-lous-bed-bug-colony/)

A very disturbing video of bedbug colonies and feeding by the writers of Dark Banquet.

I am absolutely fucking terrified of bedbugs. I had to go on medication for it last year. I probably shouldn't have clicked that link, it was sort of my own personal 1 man 1 cup.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 03, 2009, 11:59:57 am
http://other95.blogspot.com/2009/02/circus-of-spineless-35-regeneration.html (http://other95.blogspot.com/2009/02/circus-of-spineless-35-regeneration.html)

Circus of the Spineless, a monthly blog circus about invertebrates.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 05, 2009, 07:17:58 pm
Today's Headlines - February 5, 2009

Fossil of 43-Foot Super Snake Titanoboa Found in Colombia
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Researchers excavating a coal mine in South America have found the fossilized remains of the mother of all snakes, a nightmarish tropical behemoth as long as a school bus and as heavy as a Volkswagen Beetle.

Modern boas and anacondas ... have been known to swallow Chihuahuas, cats and other small pets, but this prehistoric monster ate giant turtles and primitive crocodiles.

"This is amazing. It challenges everything we know about how big a snake can be," said herpetologist Jack Conrad of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who was not involved in the research.

http://snipr.com/bckp4

 

Telescope Sees Smallest Exoplanet
from BBC News Online

The smallest planet yet found outside the Solar System has been detected by a French space telescope. The rocky world is less than twice the size of Earth.

Only a handful of planets have so far been found with a mass comparable to Earth, Venus, Mars or Mercury. The discovery was made by Corot, an orbiting observatory with a 27cm-diameter telescope to search for planets orbiting other stars.

About 330 of these "exoplanets" have been discovered so far. But most of them have been gas giants similar to Jupiter or Neptune. "For the first time, we have unambiguously detected a planet that is 'rocky' in the same sense as our own Earth," said Malcolm Fridlund, Corot project scientist from the European Space Agency (Esa). "We now have to understand this object further to put it into context, and continue our search for smaller, more Earth-like objects with Corot ..."

http://snipr.com/bckrj

 

Octuplet Mother Also Gives Birth to Ethical Debate
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

LOS ANGELES--Public opinion seems to be cresting against her, her own mother is rattled, and now fertility experts are suggesting the case of Nadya Suleman and her octuplets constitutes a breach of medical guidelines.

Suleman, 33, gave birth to six boys and two girls by Caesarean section Jan. 26 at a Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower, Calif. The miraculous event ... quickly drew criticism after it was revealed that Suleman is single, unemployed, lives with her mother and already has six children--including twins--ranging in age from 2 to 7.

... The birth of eight babies to a woman who becomes responsible for 14 children is attracting a different set of worries from the medical community, particularly fertility doctors, who say it goes against the mission of their work: to minimize high-risk, multiple-birth pregnancy and safely provide a woman with a single healthy baby.

http://snipr.com/bckt4

 

Study Links TV Viewing by Teens to Depression
from the Columbus Dispatch

All the time your teen spends in front of the television could increase his risk of becoming depressed as an adult, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School looked at the media habits of 4,142 healthy adolescents and calculated that each additional hour of television watched a day boosted the odds of becoming depressed by 8 percent. Other forms of media didn't affect the risk of depression, according to the study published Tuesday in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The results don't prove that TV viewing itself causes depression, said Brian Primack of Pitt's Center for Research on Health Care, who led the study.

http://snipr.com/bckuv

 

Science Found Wanting in Nation's Crime Labs
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Forensic evidence that has helped convict thousands of defendants for nearly a century is often the product of shoddy scientific practices that should be upgraded and standardized, according to accounts of a draft report by the nation's pre-eminent scientific research group.

The report by the National Academy of Sciences is to be released this month. People who have seen it say it is a sweeping critique of many forensic methods that the police and prosecutors rely on, including fingerprinting, firearms identification and analysis of bite marks, blood spatter, hair and handwriting.

The report says such analyses are often handled by poorly trained technicians who then exaggerate the accuracy of their methods in court. It concludes that Congress should create a federal agency to guarantee the independence of the field, which has been dominated by law enforcement agencies, say forensic professionals, scholars and scientists who have seen review copies of the study. Early reviewers said the report was still subject to change.

http://snipr.com/bckwf

 

Hormone May Predict 'Baby Blues'
from BBC News Online

Measuring levels of a hormone midway through pregnancy may predict a woman's risk of postnatal depression, say US researchers.

In a study of 100 women, levels of the pCRH hormone at 25 weeks helped predict three-quarters of those who developed the "baby blues." The researchers said, if proven in larger studies, the test could be used routinely to screen for depression. The findings are published in Archives of General Psychiatry.

Postnatal depression generally starts within four to six weeks of giving birth and affects 10-15% of mothers. Known risk factors include a history of depression, stressful life events, a lack of social support, low self-esteem, anxiety or stress during pregnancy.

http://snipr.com/bckyx

 

New Step Reported in Untangling Nature vs Nurture
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)--Untangling the mystery of inherited versus acquired traits may be a step closer. Arguments have been long and contentious over how much people inherit and how much they are influenced by their environments.

Researchers led by Frances Rice and Anita Thapar of Britain's Cardiff University focused on reports that smoking by the mother during pregnancy increased the chance of low birth weight and anti-social behavior in children.

The researchers studied 533 children who were genetically related to the mother that carried them and 195 who resulted from egg donations and thus were not genetically related to the mother. The children were aged from 4 to 10 and had been conceived at clinics in the United Kingdom and United States. "What we have been able to confirm is that cigarette smoke in pregnancy does lower birth weight regardless of whether the mother and child are genetically related or not," Thapar said. However, that was not the case with anti-social behavior in children ...

http://snipr.com/bcl2h

 

Digital TV Conversion Delayed Until June 12
from the San Francisco Chronicle

Television viewers who rely on sets with antennas to pick up their broadcast signals have about four extra months to get ready for the nation's switch to digital TV.

The House of Representatives voted 264 to 158 Wednesday to move back the Feb. 17 deadline to June 12, sending the fast-tracked legislation to President Obama, who has promised to sign it.

The vote, largely along party lines, gives approximately 6.5 million unprepared households more time to prepare for the day when all analog TV broadcasts are turned off. ... Consumers who rely on traditional over-the-air broadcasts will need to upgrade to a pay TV service such as cable or satellite, use a TV with a digital tuner or buy a converter box for their older analog television sets.

http://snipr.com/bclq2

 

Halting Hormone Therapy Reduces Breast Cancer Risk Quickly
from Time

Six years after a landmark federal study established that hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, researchers are still trying to tease out exactly how the hormones interfere with women's health.

The assumption has always been that stopping hormone therapy would lead to a corresponding drop in breast-cancer risk, but now newly published data from the original trial ... suggest that the benefit occurs much more immediately than previously thought.

The finding is a contentious one. The authors of the new paper, which appears in the Feb. 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the rate of breast cancer in postmenopausal women fell just two years after they stopped hormone therapy and continued to decline yearly.

http://snipr.com/bcl6v

 

First Deep Sea Observatory Looks at Climate Change
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

ABOARD RESEARCH VESSEL POINT LOBOS, Off the California Coast (Associated Press)--A crane on a ship deck hoisted a 502-pound video camera and plopped it into the ocean for a 3,000-foot descent to the world of neon-glowing jellyfish, bug-eyed red rock cod and other still unknown slithery critters.

The so-called Eye-in-the-Sea camera would be added to the first observatory operating in deep sea water and become part of a new kind of scientific exploration to assess the impacts of climate change on marine life.

... The camera is one of many instruments powered by the Monterey Accelerated Research Station or MARS, an underwater observatory that began operating in November off the California coast. Other instruments measure currents and seismic activity, while another part studies how higher acidity would affect marine life.

http://snipr.com/bcla3

February 4, 2009

 

When Dreams Come True
from Science News

Dreams don't just bubble up at night and then evaporate like morning dew once the sun rises. What you dream shapes what you think about your upcoming plans and your closest confidants, especially if nighttime reveries fit with what's already convenient to believe, a new report finds.

In an effort to understand whether people take their dreams seriously, Carey Morewedge of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Michael Norton of Harvard University surveyed 149 college students attending universities in India, South Korea or the United States about theories of dream function.

People across cultures often assume that dreams contain hidden truths, much as Sigmund Freud posited more than a century ago, Morewedge and Norton report in the February Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In fact, many individuals consider dreams to provide more meaningful information regarding daily affairs than comparable waking thoughts do, the two psychologists conclude.

http://snipr.com/ba9vo

 

Early Whales Gave Birth on Land, Fossils Reveal
from National Geographic News

It's an evolutionary discovery Darwin himself would have been proud of. Forty-seven million years ago primitive whales gave birth on land, according to a study published this week that analyzes the fossil of a pregnant whale found in the Pakistani desert.

It is the first fetal fossil from the group of ancient amphibious whales called Archaeoceti, as well as the first from an extinct species called Maiacetus inuus. When the fossil was discovered, nine years ago, University of Michigan paleontologist Philip Gingerich was thrown off by the jumble of adult and fetal-size bones.

"The first thing we found [were] small teeth, then ribs going the wrong way," Gingerich said. Later, "it was just astonishing to realize why the specimen in the field was so confusing." The head-first position of the fetus was especially telling. Land mammals are generally born head first, and marine mammals are born tail first.

http://snipr.com/ba9yk

 

Can Bacteria Rescue the Oil Industry?
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

... Until only a few years ago, the majority of researchers doubted the possibility of any living matter in oil reservoirs that were sealed off for 200-500 million years.

Despite the discovery of hyperthermophilic life in Yellowstone geysers as early as the 1960s, it wasn't until the early 1990s that a number of researchers started reporting life in oil reserves 3-4 kilometers beneath the surface. Many researchers were skeptical that the found biomatter could be anything but contamination.

... Geologists and physicists dominate the science of oil extraction, but the subtle capabilities of microorganisms reveal new approaches to unlocking the full potential of oil reserves--reserves that have been inaccessible using established technology.

http://snipr.com/9mtrf

 

Google Earth Provides Dizzying 3D Views of Mars
from New Scientist

Mars enthusiasts can fly from the towering peak of Olympus Mons to Mars Pathfinder's peaceful resting place in an add-on to the latest version of the desktop application Google Earth, which was released on Monday.

The new Mars map amasses some 1000 gigabytes of data from a range of Mars probes, including NASA's Viking orbiters, Europe's Mars Express orbiter, and six landers, such as NASA's twin rovers, to create a three-dimensional view of the planet at a wide range of scales.

"What we've done is bring all that information into one single, easy-to-use platform," says Matthew Hancher of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "Everything that's ever gone to Mars has been put together to give us this unified view of the planet."

http://snipr.com/baa1t

 

Half of Britons Do Not Believe in Evolution, Survey Finds
from the Guardian (UK)

Half of British adults do not believe in evolution, with at least 22% preferring the theories of creationism or intelligent design to explain how the world came about, according to a survey.

The poll found that 25% of Britons believe Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is "definitely true," with another quarter saying it is "probably true." Half of the 2,060 people questioned were either strongly opposed to the theory or confused about it.

The Rescuing Darwin survey ... found that around 10% of people chose young Earth creationism--the belief that God created the world some time in the last 10,000 years--over evolution.

http://snipr.com/baa3i

 

Exploring the Folds of the Brain--And Their Links to Autism
from Scientific American

One of the first things people notice about the human brain is its intricate landscape of hills and valleys. These convolutions derive from the cerebral cortex, a two- to four-millimeter-thick mantle of gelatinous tissue packed with neurons sometimes called gray matter that mediates our perceptions, thoughts, emotions and actions.

... The cortex of large-brained mammals expanded considerably over the course of evolution much more so than the skull. Indeed, the surface area of a flattened human cortex equivalent to that of an extra-large pizza is three times larger than the inner surface of the braincase. Thus, the only way the cortex of humans and other brainy species can fit into the skull is by folding.

... New research indicates that a network of nerve fibers physically pulls the pliable cortex into shape during development and holds it in place throughout life. Disturbances to this network during development or later, as a result of a stroke or injury, can have far-reaching consequences for brain shape and neural communication. These discoveries could therefore lead to new strategies for diagnosing and treating patients with certain mental disorders.

http://snipr.com/baa5c

 

That Buzzing Sound: The Mystery of Tinnitus
from the New Yorker

I noticed the sound one evening about a year ago. At first, I thought an alarm had been set off. Then I realized that the noise--a high-pitched drone--was mainly in my right ear. It has been with me ever since.

The tone varies, from a soft whoosh like a shower to a piercing screech resembling a dental drill. When I am engaged in work at the hospital or in the laboratory, it seems distant. But in idle moments it gets louder and more annoying, once even jarring me from a dream.

Tinnitus--the false perception of sound in the absence of an acoustic stimulus, a phantom noise--is one of the most common clinical syndromes in the United States, affecting twelve percent of men and almost fourteen percent of women who are sixty-five and older. It only rarely afflicts the young, with one significant exception: those serving in the armed forces. Tinnitus affects nearly half the soldiers exposed to blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

http://snipr.com/baaad

 

Tracking Forest Creatures on the Move
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

BARRO COLORADO ISLAND, Panama--We were tramping doggedly through the forest in pursuit of white-faced capuchins, those familiar organ-grinder monkeys with the wild hair, piercing eyes and impatient scowls of little German professors. Capuchins are said to be exceptionally quick-witted, and that morning they might as well have been swinging from their Phi Beta Kappa keys.

... "Nothing seems to slow them down," Dr. [Margaret] Crofoot said. "They never stop moving." Neither did Dr. Crofoot, 29, who is tall, blond and sporty and who reminded me of the actress Laura Dern in "Jurassic Park."

Capuchins are smart, gorgeous and socially sophisticated, and Dr. Crofoot has relished the many hours spent studying them with the traditional field research tools of binoculars, notebook and a saint's portion of patience. Yet she and other scientists who work here at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute are thrilled with a new system for tracking their subjects that could help revolutionize the labor-intensive business of field biology.

http://snipr.com/baac1

 

Bolivia: The Saudi Arabia of Lithium?
from the Seattle Times

UYUNI, Bolivia--In the rush to build the next generation of hybrid or electric cars, a sobering fact confronts both automakers and governments seeking to lower their reliance on foreign oil: Almost half of the world's lithium, the mineral needed to power the vehicles, is found in Bolivia--a country that may not be willing to surrender it easily.

Japanese and European companies are trying to strike deals to tap the resource, but a nationalist sentiment about the lithium is building in the government of President Evo Morales, an ardent critic of the United States who already has nationalized Bolivia's oil and natural-gas industries.

For now, the government talks of closely controlling the lithium and keeping foreigners at bay. Adding to the pressure, indigenous groups in the remote salt desert where the mineral lies are pushing for a share in the eventual bounty.

http://snipr.com/baaef

 

Methane Rain Formed New Lake on Saturn Moon
from National Geographic News

Methane rains on Saturn's moon Titan may have created a new lake about four times the size of Yellowstone National Park, scientists say. The new lake covers about 13,000 square miles. It's part of a system of lakelike features around Titan's south pole.

Scientists have been studying what appear to be methane lakes near both of Titan's poles since the craft arrived in the Saturnian system in 2004. The work suggests the large, frigid moon also has methane rain.

The new lake could simply be a shallow marsh, the scientists admit, but data suggest the rainstorm that created it might have been torrential enough to form something deeper.

http://snipr.com/baa7i
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 05, 2009, 07:19:31 pm
January 30, 2009



New Look at Food Safety After Peanut Tainting
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Christopher Meunier, 7, had not been sick since he was a toddler, but in late November, he suddenly had a high fever and bloody diarrhea and started vomiting. ... Hospitalized for six days, Christopher had salmonella poisoning, making him one of more than 500 people sickened across the country after eating peanut butter or peanut products made at a Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, Ga.

The Food and Drug Administration has charged that the company knowingly shipped contaminated products to some of the largest food makers in the country from a plant that was never designed to make peanut butter safely, causing one of the most extensive food recalls in history. The company responded that it disagreed with some of the agency's findings and that it had "taken extraordinary measures to identify and recall all products that have been identified as presenting a potential risk."

Food scares have become as common as Midwestern tornadoes. Cantaloupes, jalapeños, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes have all been subject to major recalls in recent years. ... A clutch of legislative proposals this year would offer fixes to the system ...

http://snipr.com/b068g



MRIs Reveal Possible Source of Woman's Super-Memory
from USA Today

A Southern California man employed in the entertainment business is the fourth person verified by scientists to have an ultra-rare memory gift: He recalls in detail most days of his life, as well as the day and date of key public events, says Larry Cahill, who co-leads a project on people with super-memory. The name of the latest "bona fide" won't be released by scientists because he's a research subject, but he is free to identify himself.

Meanwhile, MRI scans on Jill Price, 43, the Los Angeles religious school administrator who in 2006 was the first person confirmed to have such an ability, reveal two abnormally large areas in her brain.

That discovery could lead to breakthroughs on how memories are formed and kept, says Cahill, a neuroscientist at the University of California-Irvine. Price went public last year with the publication of her book, The Woman Who Can't Forget.

http://snipr.com/b06c0



Eccentric Exoplanet Gets Hot Flashes
from National Geographic News

A distant Jupiter-like planet on an eccentric orbit swings so close to its parent star that its temperature spikes by about 1,260 degrees Fahrenheit (682 degrees Celsius) in only six hours, a new study reports.

Then as rapidly as it heats up, the extrasolar planet cools back down after zipping past its star, said lead study author Gregory Laughlin, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The planet's path is unique, Laughlin noted. Most known "hot Jupiters" have tight, roughly circular orbits. They are tidally locked, showing only one face to their stars, just as the moon does to Earth. "But this planet has the most eccentric orbit of any discovered," he said. Its elongated elliptical path makes it impossible for the world to be tidally locked, "so it's guaranteed to bring the planet spinning in every 111 days for a harrowing encounter."

http://snipr.com/b06f9



Balancing the Risks and Rewards of a Power Source
from Scientific American

... Since 1979, after Three Mile Island partially melted down, U.S. nuclear reactors have had to shut down for a year or more for repairs or other safety improvements 46 times, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. For example, in February 2000 a steam generator tube abruptly ruptured at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.--a potential problem first identified in 1997 that had not been fixed.

All told, only four incidents in the history of the nuclear power industry have been worse than the cavity [that caused a shut-down] of Davis-Besse [near Toledo, Ohio], and two have been roughly equivalent, according to the NRC, such as a radioactive steam pipe burst at PSEG's Salem nuclear generating station in New Jersey.

Even as the U.S. considers building as many as 26 new reactors, 51 of the 104 currently operating have received clearance from the NRC to extend their generating lives by 20 or more years. And the remainder are either under review by the agency or expected to apply. The question: Are they safe?

http://snipr.com/b06gl



Wolves and the Balance of Nature in the Rockies
from Smithsonian Magazine

Roger Lang looked at two black wolves looking back at him. "I knew they wouldn't get them all," he said, steadying his binoculars on the steering wheel of his pickup truck. "Some of them were trapped. Some were shot from helicopters. They culled nine and actually thought they got the whole pack. But you can see they didn't."

Sloping down to the Madison River, Lang's 18,000-acre Sun Ranch in southwest Montana is an Old West tableau of rippling prairie, plunging streams, ghostly bands of elk, browsing cattle--and, at the moment, two wolves poised like sentinels on a knoll beneath the snowy peaks of the Madison Range.

... Lang has a close-up view of one of the most dramatic and contentious wildlife experiments in a century--the reintroduction of wolves to the northern Rocky Mountains, where they were wiped out long ago. Caught in Canada and flown to Yellowstone, 41 wolves were released in the area between 1995 and 1997, restoring the only missing member of the park's native mammals.

http://snipr.com/b06it



American Attitudes to Stem-Cell Therapies Are Changing Fast
from the Economist

For the past eight years, America's government has declined to fund new research into one of the world's most promising medical technologies: the use of human embryonic stem cells to repair or replace damaged tissue in the diseased and injured. Embryonic stem cells are special for two reasons, one scientific and one ethical. ... But it was this destruction of potential human life that disturbed George Bush and his supporters.

Barack Obama has promised to reverse the ban. When that happens, American academics will no longer have to watch enviously from the sidelines as their colleagues in Australia, Britain, China, the Czech Republic, Israel, Singapore and South Korea push ahead. But though the legislative wheels have yet to start turning, the mood has already shifted.

One sign of this shift came on January 23rd when the country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted permission for the first clinical trial of a therapy based on human embryonic stem cells to Geron, a firm based in Menlo Park, California. Geron was able to ask for permission, and the FDA was able to grant it, because the ban does not apply to privately financed research. America, it seems, is back in the stem-cell business.

http://snipr.com/b06l2



Mammoth-Killing Comet Questioned
from BBC News Online

A study of wildfires after the last ice age has cast doubt on the theory that a giant comet impact wiped out woolly mammoths and prehistoric humans.

Analysis of charcoal and pollen records from around 13,000 years ago showed no evidence of continental-scale fires the cometary impact theory suggests. However, the results showed increased fires after periods of climate change.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The cometary impact hypothesis holds that an enormous comet slammed into or exploded over North America in the Younger Dryas period some 12,900 years ago. The idea was first mooted by Richard Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the US and colleagues in 2007.

http://snipr.com/b06n8



How Inventors Plan to Change Football
from the Christian Science Monitor

Football is mostly a game of throwing, running, and tackling-all human feats. Players use strength and strategy to propel the ball across the goal line. What could make it better?

According to some inventors, plenty. Technology, they say, can make the game faster, more fair, and less dangerous for players. The National Football League (NFL) is slow to adopt certain changes, but these plucky tinkerers push on, driven by a desire to solve problems, a love of the game, and hopes that their designs gain a few more yards each year.

Take the chains that have been used for decades to measure a first down. Super Bowls have been decided by inches, depending on how far the ball was advanced on certain plays. That leaves a lot of room for human error, says Alan Amron, a professional inventor from Woodbury, N.Y. He is the brains behind motorized squirt guns. Surveyors get very accurate measurements using gyroscopes and laser beams, he says. Why not apply that to football?

http://snipr.com/b06or



Common Chemical Causes Locusts to Swarm
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)--A chemical that affects people's moods also can transform easygoing desert locusts into terrifying swarms that ravage the countryside, scientists report. "Here we have a solitary and lonely creature, the desert locust. But just give them a little serotonin, and they go and join a gang," observed Malcolm Burrows of the University of Cambridge in England.

The brain chemical serotonin has been linked to mood in people. It plays a role in sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, too.

Under certain conditions, locusts triple the amount of serotonin in their systems, changing the insects from loners to pack animals, Burrows and his co-authors report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

http://snipr.com/b06qs



Baby Neurons Glue New Memories
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

New findings suggest a hypothesis for a much-debated question in neuroscience: what exactly is the role of new neurons born in the adult human brain? These brain cells may help link memories of events that occurred within a week or two of each other, a paper published in Neuron reports.

"It's really novel, and I think it's quite informative," said behavioral neuroscientist Andrea Chiba of the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the work.

Fred Gage a neuroscientist at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., published a controversial study in 1998 identifying the formation of new neurons in the adult hippocampus, a brain region associated with memory. Til then, neuroscience dogma had held that humans are born with all of the neurons they will ever have. But the function of these newly formed cells has never been identified.

http://snipr.com/b06sc

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 05, 2009, 07:19:52 pm
February 3, 2009



Google Earth Fills Its Watery Gaps
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Two and a half years ago, the software engineers behind Google Earth, the searchable online replica of the planet, were poised to fill an enormous data gap, adding the two-thirds of the globe that is covered by water in reality and was blue, and blank, online.

... "We had this arbitrary distinction that if it was below sea level it didn't count," recalled John Hanke, the Internet entrepreneur who co-created the progenitor of Google Earth, called Keyhole, and moved to Google when the company bought his company in 2004.

That oversight had to be fixed before the months and months of new programming and data collection could culminate in the creation of simulated oceans. On Monday, the ocean images underwent the most significant of several upgrades to Google Earth, with the new version downloadable free at earth.google.com, according to the company.

http://snipr.com/b7xpi



Animal Eggs No Good for Cloning?
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

Cloned human embryos express the genes required for pluripotency, but animal-human hybrids do not, according to a study published Monday in the journal Cloning and Stem Cells.

The findings pave the way for isolating human embryonic stem cells from therapeutic cloning--a landmark that has never been achieved after Woo-suk Hwang's discredited cloning experiments--but call into question the utility of interspecies embryos.

"These eggs simply do not reprogram," lead author Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer of Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., said of the human-animal hybrid embryos. "That puts the nail on the coffin for that whole line of work."

http://snipr.com/b7xr5



Ocean Iron Plan Approved as Researchers Show Algae Absorb CO2
from the Guardian (UK)

Seeding the oceans with iron is a viable way to permanently lock carbon away from the atmosphere and potentially tackle climate change, according to scientists who have studied how the process works naturally in the ocean.

The study, from researchers at the University of Southampton, is published following the announcement earlier this week that scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany were finally given the go-ahead for a controversial experiment to drop several tonnes of iron into the Southern Ocean. Some environmentalists are concerned that the long-term ecological effects of iron seeding are unknown.

Ocean geo-engineering using iron as a fertiliser for microscopic creatures in the ocean is seen as a possible way to slow down global warming. Marine algae and other phytoplankton capture vast quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, but this growth is often limited by a lack of essential nutrients such as iron.

http://snipr.com/b7xui



The Big Fix
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

The economy will recover. It won't recover anytime soon. It is likely to get significantly worse over the course of 2009, no matter what President Obama and Congress do. And resolving the financial crisis will require both aggressiveness and creativity. In fact, the main lesson from other crises of the past century is that governments tend to err on the side of too much caution--of taking the punch bowl away before the party has truly started up again.

"The mistake the United States made during the Depression and the Japanese made during the '90s was too much start-stop in their policies," said Timothy Geithner, Obama's choice for Treasury secretary ... Japan announced stimulus measures even as it was cutting other government spending. Franklin Roosevelt flirted with fiscal discipline midway through the New Deal, and the country slipped back into decline.

Geithner arguably made a similar miscalculation himself last year as a top Federal Reserve official who was part of a team that allowed Lehman Brothers to fail. But he insisted that the Obama administration had learned history's lesson. "We're just not going to make that mistake," Geithner said. "We're not going to do that. We'll keep at it until it's done, whatever it takes."

http://snipr.com/b7xw3



Cancer Protection Secret Revealed
from BBC News Online

Scientists say they have discovered a missing link in the way cells protect themselves against cancer. They have uncovered how cells switch a gene called p53, which can block the development of tumours, on and off.

The researchers say the finding has important implications for cancer treatment and diagnosis. The study, published in Genes And Development, was carried out by teams of scientists in Singapore and the University of Dundee.

The p53 gene, first discovered 30 years ago, plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy by ordering damaged cells to commit suicide, or by stopping them dividing while key repair work is carried out. In half of all cancers the gene is either damaged or inactive, giving damaged cells a free rein to keep dividing and form cancer.

http://snipr.com/b7xzw



Local Police Want Right to Jam Wireless Signals
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

As President Obama's motorcade rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, federal authorities deployed a closely held law enforcement tool: equipment that can jam cellphones and other wireless devices to foil remote-controlled bombs, sources said.

It is an increasingly common technology, with federal agencies expanding its use as state and local agencies are pushing for permission to do the same. Police and others say it could stop terrorists from coordinating during an attack, prevent suspects from erasing evidence on wireless devices, simplify arrests and keep inmates from using contraband phones.

But jamming remains strictly illegal for state and local agencies. Federal officials barely acknowledge that they use it inside the United States, and the few federal agencies that can jam signals usually must seek a legal waiver first.

http://snipr.com/b7y1o



'Normal' Levels of Bad Cholesterol May Be Too High
from USA Today

The bottom isn't just dropping out of the stock market. It's also giving way in a critical measure of heart risk.

Two new studies indicate that the threshold of what doctors consider "normal" levels of bad cholesterol, or LDL, may be too high, leaving thousands of people vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes.

One of the studies, led by Gregg Fonarow of UCLA, examined 131,000 hospital admissions for heart disease and found that at least half of the patients had normal LDL levels. The other study, called JUPITER, involved 18,000 people. It showed that giving a cholesterol-lowering statin to older people with normal LDL cut their risk of heart attack and stroke in half.

http://snipr.com/b7y3t



A Leap for Teleporting, Between Ions Feet Apart
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Without quite the drama of Alexander Graham Bell calling out, "Mr. Watson, come here!" or the charm of the original "Star Trek" television show, scientists have nonetheless achieved a milestone in communication: teleporting the quantum identity of one atom to another a few feet away.

The contraption is a Rube Goldberg-esque mix of vacuum chambers, fiber optics, lasers and semitransparent beam splitters in a laboratory at the Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland.

"Even in the far future, "Star Trek" transporters will probably remain a fantasy, but the mechanism could form an important component in new types of communication and computing.

Quantum teleportation depends on entanglement, one of the strangest of the many strange aspects of quantum mechanics. Two particles can become "entangled" into a single entity, and a change in one instantaneously changes the other even if it is far away.

http://snipr.com/b7y5n



First Chocoholics in U.S. Found in New Mexico?
from National Geographic News

Chocolate lovers are a dedicated bunch. Hershey's sales and profits rose even in the brutal final quarter of 2008, and a thousand years ago ancient Americans may have walked hundreds of miles to procure the bittersweet stuff, a new study suggests.

Chemical residues found on pottery jar shards reveal that the practice of drinking chocolate had spread at least as far north as Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico by A.D. 1000 to 1125--400 years earlier than chocolate was thought to have reached what is now the United States.

The discovery suggests a vast trade network helped deliver chocolate from Central America, where the seeds of the cacao tree were first transformed into beverages some 3,000 years ago.

http://snipr.com/b7y9l



Wreck of HMS Victory Found in English Channel
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

American salvagers say they have discovered the long-sought wreck of HMS Victory, the mightiest and most technologically advanced warship of its time, which sank during a violent storm in the English Channel in 1744.

Armed with as many as 110 massive bronze cannons and carrying a crew of 900 men and 100 supernumeraries, the Victory was lost with all hands and reportedly with a treasure of gold bullion whose value is estimated at $1 billion.

In a news conference Monday in London, Greg Stemm, chief executive of Odyssey Marine Exploration in Tampa, Fla., said the company found the remains in 330 feet of water more than 60 miles from where the vessel was thought to have sunk--exonerating the captain, Sir John Balchin, from the widespread accusation that he had let it run aground through faulty navigation.

http://snipr.com/b7y7d

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Iason Ouabache on February 06, 2009, 08:09:00 am

Half of Britons Do Not Believe in Evolution, Survey Finds
from the Guardian (UK)

Half of British adults do not believe in evolution, with at least 22% preferring the theories of creationism or intelligent design to explain how the world came about, according to a survey.

The poll found that 25% of Britons believe Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is "definitely true," with another quarter saying it is "probably true." Half of the 2,060 people questioned were either strongly opposed to the theory or confused about it.

The Rescuing Darwin survey ... found that around 10% of people chose young Earth creationism--the belief that God created the world some time in the last 10,000 years--over evolution.

http://snipr.com/baa3i
This survey was bullshit, btw.  The question they asked is whether people agreed that "evolution alone is not enough to explain the complex structures of some living things, so the intervention of a designer is needed at key stages".  Very obviously biased wording.  It would have been better to ask something like "Do you believe that the theory of evolution explains the diversity of life on earth?"  You would have gotten very different numbers from that survey.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Rococo Modem Basilisk on February 06, 2009, 11:34:55 am
Quote from: New Scientist

Read our related editorial: The Obama factor, revealed

HITLER and Mussolini both had the ability to bend millions of people to their fascist will. Now evidence from psychology and neurology is emerging to explain how tactics like organised marching and propaganda can work to exert mass mind control.

Scott Wiltermuth of Stanford University in California and colleagues have found that activities performed in unison, such as marching or dancing, increase loyalty to the group. "It makes us feel as though we're part of a larger entity, so we see the group's welfare as being as important as our own," he says.

Wiltermuth's team separated 96 people into four groups who performed these tasks together: listening to a song while silently mouthing the words, singing along, singing and dancing, or listening to different versions of the song so that they sang and danced out of sync. In a later game, when asked to decide whether to stick with the group or strive for personal gain, those in the non-synchronised group behaved less loyally than the rest (Psychological Science, vol 20, p 1).

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville thinks this research helps explain why fascist leaders, amongst others, use organised marching and chanting to whip crowds into a frenzy of devotion to their cause, though these tactics can be used just as well for peace, he stresses. Community dances and group singing can ease local tension, for example - a theory he plans to test experimentally (Journal of Legal Studies, DOI: 10.1086/529447).

Meanwhile, the powerful unifying effects of propaganda images are being explored by Charles Seger at Indiana University at Bloomington. His team primed students with pictures of their university - college sweatshirts or the buildings themselves - then asked how highly they scored on different emotions, such as pride or happiness. The primed students gave a strikingly similar emotional profile, in contrast with non-primed students (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2008.12.004).

Interest in the idea of a herd mentality has been renewed by work into mirror neurons - cells that fire when we perform an action or watch someone perform a similar action. It suggests that our brains are geared to mimic our peers. "We are set up for 'auto-copy'," says Haidt.
Interest in the idea of a herd mentality has been renewed by research into mirror neurons

Neurological evidence seems to back this idea. Vasily Klucharev, at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, found that the brain releases more of the reward chemical dopamine when we fall in line with the group consensus (Neuron, vol 61, p 140). His team asked 24 women to rate more than 200 women for attractiveness. If a participant discovered their ratings did not tally with that of the others, they tended to readjust their scores. When a woman realised her differing opinion, fMRI scans revealed that her brain generated what the team dubbed an "error signal". This has a conditioning effect, says Klucharev: it's how we learn to follow the crowd.

Sauce (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126945.300)
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 06, 2009, 04:36:01 pm
http://membracid.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/new-research-on-bedbug-insecticide-resistance/

Time to get paranoid. About bedbugs.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 06, 2009, 05:00:52 pm
http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/02/blinding-me-with-science.html (http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/2009/02/blinding-me-with-science.html)

awesome stuff and commentary on this week's Science journal. plus a radial mouth arthropod with AQUATIC WINGS!

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 09, 2009, 01:33:30 pm
 February 6, 2009

Evolution: Unfinished Business
from the Economist

The miracles of nature are everywhere: on landing, a beetle folds its wings like an origami master; a lotus leaf sheds muddy water as if it were quicksilver; a spider spins a web to entrap her prey, but somehow evades entrapment herself. Since the beginning of time, people who have thought about such things have seen these marvels as examples of the wisdom of God; even as evidence for his existence.

But 200 years ago, on February 12th 1809, a man was born who would challenge all that. The book that issued the challenge, published half a century later, in 1859, offered a radical new view of the living world and, most radical of all, of humanity's origins. The man was Charles Robert Darwin. The book was On the Origin of Species. And the challenge was the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Since Darwin's birth, the natural world has changed beyond recognition. Then, the modern theory of atoms was scarcely six years old and the Earth was thought to be 6,000. There was no inkling of the size of the universe beyond the Milky Way, and radioactivity, relativity and quantum theory were unimaginable. Yet of all the discoveries of 19th- and early 20th-century science ... only evolution has failed to find general acceptance outside the scientific world.

http://snipr.com/beurh

 

Tamiflu No Longer Works for Dominant Flu Strain
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

A milder than usual U.S. flu season is masking a growing concern about widespread resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu and what that means for the nation's preparedness in case of a dangerous pandemic flu.

Tamiflu, the most commonly used influenza antiviral and the mainstay of the federal government's emergency drug stockpile, no longer works for the dominant flu strain circulating in much of the country, government officials said Tuesday.

Of samples tested since October, almost 100% of the strain--known as type A H1N1--showed resistance to Tamiflu. In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines to physicians in December. Doctors were told to substitute an alternative antiviral, Relenza, for Tamiflu, or to combine Tamiflu with an older antiviral, rimantadine, if the H1N1 virus was the main strain circulating in their communities.

http://snipr.com/beuvz

 

Dark Days for Green Energy
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Wind and solar power have been growing at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate under the green-minded Obama administration. But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: installation of wind and solar power is plummeting.

Factories building parts for these industries have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 to 50 percent declines this year in installation of new equipment, barring more help from the government.

Prices for turbines and solar panels, which soared when the boom began a few years ago, are falling. Communities that were patting themselves on the back just last year for attracting a wind or solar plant are now coping with cutbacks.

http://snipr.com/beuzm

 

The Genes That Turn 'Three' Red
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

Researchers have completed the first-ever genome-wide scan of synesthesia, a condition in which sensory stimuli cross wires and combine such that people "see" sounds or "taste" shapes, according to a study published online Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Investigators at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford pinpointed four areas of the genome associated with the disorder. Those regions contain genes that have been associated with autism and dyslexia, as well as genes involved in different aspects of brain development, and further analysis could illuminate how genetics drives complex cognitive traits, the authors say.

"It's exciting that we have a study about the genetic basis of synesthesia--finally," said Noam Sagiv, a cognitive neuroscientist at Brunel University in the UK, who was not involved in the research. Until now "we've just been guessing," he said, by "using data based on prevalence estimates."

http://snipr.com/bev24

 

Auroras: What Powers the Greatest Light Show on Earth?
from New Scientist

A few times a day, a gigantic explosion shakes the Earth's magnetic shield, triggering a chain of events that lights up the polar skies with dazzling auroras. These explosions are substorms, and how they happen has long been a mystery. Until now, no one has been able to explain how they gather the energy to create such spectacular displays, or what happens to trigger them.

Now a flotilla of NASA satellites is finally providing answers. They could help us understand not only one of nature's greatest spectacles, but also help predict more serious space weather, which can endanger satellites and astronauts, and even scramble electrical systems on Earth.

The northern and southern lights have fascinated people throughout human history, and there has been no shortage of attempts to explain them. ... In the late 1600s, Edmond Halley was the first to correctly link the aurora to the Earth's magnetic field, though it wasn't until the 1950s that scientists confirmed that the display is created when electrons are funnelled by magnetic fields into the upper atmosphere.

http://snipr.com/bev5u

 

Earliest Animals Were Sea Sponges, Fossils Hint
from National Geographic News

Fossil steroids found underground in Oman show that early Earth was the scene of a sea sponge heyday more than 635 million years ago.

The ancient chemicals--similar to modern natural steroids such as estrogen and testosterone--are now the oldest known fossil evidence of animal life, says a new study led by Gordon Love of the University of California, Riverside.

Based on chemical signatures inside sedimentary rocks, Love and colleagues think the sponges likely grew in colonies that blanketed areas of the ocean floor. Back then the supercontinent Rodinia, which had been Earth's dominant landmass for at least 350 million years, was in the process of breaking up, and the climate was extremely cold worldwide. Sponges evolved in shallow ocean basins, because the deeper seas did not yet contain oxygen, a necessity for almost all life.

http://snipr.com/bev6u

 

How Dad's Age Increases Baby's Risk of Mental Illness
from Scientific American

... The idea that a father's age could affect the health of his children was first hinted at a century ago by an unusually perceptive and industrious doctor in private practice in Stuttgart, Germany. Wilhelm Weinberg ... managed to publish 160 scientific papers without the benefit of colleagues, students or grants. His papers, written in German, did not attract much attention initially; most geneticists spoke English. It was not until years later that some of Weinberg's papers were recognized as landmarks.

One of these was a 1912 study noting that a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia was more common among the last-born children in families than among the first-born. Weinberg didn't know why that was so, but he speculated that it might be related to the age of the parents, who were obviously older when their last children were born. Weinberg's prescient observation was confirmed decades later when research showed that he was half right: the risk of dwarfism rose with the father's age but not the mother's.

Since then, about 20 inherited ailments have been linked to paternal age, including progeria, the disorder of rapid aging, and Marfan syndrome, a disorder marked by very long arms, legs, fingers and toes, as well as life-threatening heart defects. More recent studies have linked fathers' age to prostate and other cancers in their children. And in September 2008 researchers linked older fathers to an increased risk of bipolar disorder in their children.

http://snipr.com/bev9o

 

Commercial Fishing Is Barred in Parts of Arctic
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Federal fisheries managers have voted to bar all commercial fishing in U.S. waters from north of the Bering Strait and east to the Canadian border in light of the rapid climate changes that are transforming the Arctic.

In a unanimous vote yesterday, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council ruled that scientists and policymakers need to better assess how global warming is affecting the region before allowing fishing on stocks such as Arctic cod, saffron cod and snow crab.

"There's concern over unregulated fishing, there's concern about warming, there's concern about how commercial fishing might affect resources in the region, local residents and subsistence fishing and the ecosystem as a whole," said Bill Wilson, a council aide. Environmentalists and fishing interests praised the move as sensible, given the changes to ice cover and other features of the Arctic environment.

http://snipr.com/bevcp

 

Lack of Sunshine Found to Trigger MS
from the Guardian (UK)

Women who are not exposed to sufficient sunshine in pregnancy may be at risk of giving birth to a child who will get multiple sclerosis in adulthood, research reveals today.

Oxford University researchers have identified a link between a shortage of the "sunshine vitamin"-vitamin D-and a specific gene which appears to be involved in the onset of the devastating and incurable disease.

Women are already urged to take folic acid in pregnancy to reduce the chances of a child being born with spina bifida. The research findings suggest that vitamin D could before long be advised for pregnant women as well-especially those who do not get much exposure to sunlight. The researchers think it is possible that vitamin D could play a part in other diseases which affect the immune system too.

http://snipr.com/bevfb

 

Study: Climate Change May Reshuffle Western Weeds
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

SALT LAKE CITY (Associated Press)--Climate change will likely shuffle some of the West's most troublesome invasive weeds, adding to the burden faced by farms and ranchers in some areas and providing opportunities for native plant restoration in others, according to a new study.

In many cases, a warming climate will provide more welcoming conditions for invasive plants to get a foothold, spread quickly and crowd out native species, the study by Princeton University researchers said.

But some invasives may retreat from millions of acres in the West--at least briefly--and offer an opportunity for land managers to re-establish native plants, the study said. The window for action, though, will probably be limited. "We're going to have to be in the right place at the right time before something else gains a foothold," said Bethany Bradley, a biogeographer at Princeton and lead author on the study.

http://snipr.com/bevhs

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Vene on February 09, 2009, 06:15:35 pm
Earliest Animals Were Sea Sponges, Fossils Hint
from National Geographic News

Fossil steroids found underground in Oman show that early Earth was the scene of a sea sponge heyday more than 635 million years ago.

The ancient chemicals--similar to modern natural steroids such as estrogen and testosterone--are now the oldest known fossil evidence of animal life, says a new study led by Gordon Love of the University of California, Riverside.

Based on chemical signatures inside sedimentary rocks, Love and colleagues think the sponges likely grew in colonies that blanketed areas of the ocean floor. Back then the supercontinent Rodinia, which had been Earth's dominant landmass for at least 350 million years, was in the process of breaking up, and the climate was extremely cold worldwide. Sponges evolved in shallow ocean basins, because the deeper seas did not yet contain oxygen, a necessity for almost all life.

http://snipr.com/bev6u
Considering the way sponges live and how basal their morphology is, them being the first animals isn't a shock.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 19, 2009, 06:20:43 pm
February 9, 2009

 

The Tiny, Slimy Savior of Global Coral Reefs?
from the Christian Science Monitor

Coral reefs, already declining in many areas around the world, face even tougher times ahead, say scientists. Warming and increasingly acidic oceans, combined with other stresses could conceivably spell the end for reefs as we know them, they warn.

But Andrew Baker, a scientist at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, has a more optimistic view. He thinks that corals have an innate - if limited - capacity to adapt to rising temperatures. And he theorizes that people may be able to help them along.

Earlier this year, Mr. Baker, a 2008 Pew Fellow, launched a project to study the relationship between reef-building coral polyps (a relative of jellyfish) and their symbiotic algae. ... During a so-called bleaching event, corals lose their algae and, greatly weakened, can die. Baker hopes to preempt such bleaching events, which have become more frequent in the past 50 years as temperatures have risen globally, by "inoculating" corals with a more heat-resistant strain of algae.

http://snipr.com/bksp2

 

Women Have Hormonal Cues for Baby Cuteness
from Science News

Everyone oohs and ahs over babies. Ironically, new research suggests that young women taking oral contraceptives are especially good at picking out babies with the most adorable little mugs.

Female sex hormones sensitize women to differences in babies' cuteness, propose psychologist Reiner Sprengelmeyer of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and his colleagues. When given choices between computer-manipulated images of a baby's face, premenopausal women discern gradations in the cuteness of the face better than either postmenopausal women or men of all ages, Sprengelmeyer's group reports in the February Psychological Science.

In the new study, young women taking hormone-boosting contraceptive pills outdid those not taking contraceptives, as well as premenopausal women in general, at detecting babies' cuteness.

http://snipr.com/bkssg

 

Jamming Bacterial Chat Could Yield New Antibiotics
from New Scientist

In the future, the most effective antibiotics might be those that don't kill any bacteria. Instead the drugs will simply prevent the bacteria from talking with one another.

Drug-resistant bugs are winning the war against standard antibiotics as they evolve resistance to even the most lethal drugs. It happens because a dose of antibiotics strongly selects for resistance by killing the most susceptible bacteria first.

If, however, researchers can identify antibiotics that neutralise dangerous bacteria without killing them, the pressure to evolve resistance can be reduced. One way to do that is to target the constant stream of chatter that passes between bacteria as molecular signals.

http://snipr.com/bksum

 

Egyptian Archaeologists Unveil 30 Mummies from Recently Discovered Tomb
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

CAIRO (Associated Press) -- A storehouse of 30 Egyptians mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb, in a new round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara outside Cairo, archeologists said Monday.

The tomb was located at the bottom of a 36 foot (11-meter) deep shaft, announced Egypt's top archaeologist Zahi Hawass and eight of the mummies were in sarcophagi, while the rest had been placed in niches along the wall.

Hawass described the discovery as a "storeroom for mummies," dating to 640 B.C. and the 26th Dynasty, which was Egypt's last independent kingdom before it was overthrown by a succession of foreign conquerors beginning with the Persians.

http://snipr.com/bksvk

 

Pentagon Issues 'Credits' To Offset Harm to Wildlife
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

The Pentagon has been funding Texas A&M University to pay landowners near a Texas military post to protect endangered bird species on their land under a secretive program designed to free the military to conduct training activities that would damage the birds' habitats inside the post's boundaries, documents show.

Despite complaints that the program is a boondoggle for the landowners, some federal officials are pushing to replicate it at other military sites and in federal highway projects. The program's effectiveness has been questioned by several military officials, federal wildlife authorities and an independent consulting firm, which recommended that the Army cancel it.

Initially championed by former president George W. Bush and some of his political allies, the "recovery credit system" at Fort Hood in central Texas has so far paid out nearly $4.4 million to contractors and landowners.

http://snipr.com/bksz0

 

'Silver Sensation' Seeks Cold Cosmos
from BBC News Online

Stare into the curve of Herschel's mirror too long and you get a slightly giddy feeling that comes from not being able to judge where its surface really starts. It is enchanting, spectacular and - at 3.5m in diameter - it will soon become the biggest telescope mirror in space, surpassing that of Hubble.

The great 18th Century astronomer William Herschel would have been astonished by the silver sensation that now bears his name.

The European Space Agency (Esa) is certainly very proud of its new observatory. It has been working on the venture for more than 20 years. "The mirror is an enormous piece of hardware," enthused Thomas Passvogel, Esa's programme manager on the Herschel space observatory.

http://snipr.com/bkt0y

 

Bushfires and Global Warming: Is There a Link?
from the Guardian (UK)

Scientists are reluctant to link individual weather events to global warming, because natural variability will always throw up extreme events. However, they say that climate change loads the dice, and can make severe episodes more likely.

Some studies have started to say how much global warming contributed to severe weather. Experts at the UK Met Office and Oxford University used computer models to say man-made climate change made the killer European heatwave in 2003 about twice as likely. In principle, the technique could be repeated with any extreme storm, drought or flood - which could pave the way for lawsuits from those affected.

Bob Brown, a senator who leads the Australian Greens, said the bushfires showed what climate change could mean for Australia. "Global warming is predicted to make this sort of event happen 25%, 50% more," he told Sky News. "It's a sobering reminder of the need for this nation and the whole world to act and put at a priority our need to tackle climate change."

http://snipr.com/bktd2

 

"Noah's Flood" Not Rooted in Reality, After All?
from National Geographic News

The ancient flood that some scientists think gave rise to the Noah story may not have been quite so biblical in proportion, a new study says.

Researchers generally agree that, during a warming period about 9,400 years ago, an onrush of seawater from the Mediterranean spurred a connection with the Black Sea, then a largely freshwater lake. That flood turned the lake into a rapidly rising sea.

A previous theory said the Black Sea rose up to 195 feet (60 meters), possibly burying villages and spawning the tale of Noah's flood and other inundation folklore. But the new study--largely focused on relatively undisturbed underwater fossils--suggests a rise of no more than 30 feet (10 meters).

http://snipr.com/bkt3x

 

Cognitive Computing Project Aims to Reverse-Engineer the Mind
from Wired

Imagine a computer that can process text, video and audio in an instant, solve problems on the fly, and do it all while consuming just 10 watts of power. It would be the ultimate computing machine if it were built with silicon instead of human nerve cells.

Compare that to current computers, which require extensive, custom programming for each application, consume hundreds of watts in power, and are still not fast enough. So it's no surprise that some computer scientists want to go back to the drawing board and try building computers that more closely emulate nature.

"The plan is to engineer the mind by reverse-engineering the brain," says Dharmendra Modha, manager of the cognitive computing project at IBM Almaden Research Center. In what could be one of the most ambitious computing projects ever, neuroscientists, computer engineers and psychologists are coming together in a bid to create an entirely new computing architecture that can simulate the brain's abilities for perception, interaction and cognition.

http://snipr.com/bkt50

 

Great Unknowns
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

With each passing day, we seem a step closer to comprehending the genome, gaining important insights into deadly diseases, and understanding the makeup of our universe.

But for some scientists, knowing what we can't figure out is just as important. A little-known discipline of science called computational intractability studies the boundaries of our understanding - not questions of the philosophical realm (Is there a god? An afterlife?) but of the everyday computational realm.

Think of an airline trying to allocate its planes at airports most efficiently, or a FedEx delivery man trying to deliver hundreds of packages to hundreds of locations using the shortest possible route. We know answers exist, but it turns out that calculating the solutions to such kinds of problems could take too long, even if all the world's most powerful computers were to work together on them.

http://snipr.com/bkt6g

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 19, 2009, 06:21:22 pm
February 10, 2009

 

Genes Offer New Clues in Old Debate on Species' Origins
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Charles Darwin called it the "mystery of mysteries," a problem so significant and one he was so sure he had solved that he named his world-changing work after it: On the Origin of Species. So he might be surprised to learn that 150 years after the publication of his book, the study of how species originate, a process known as speciation, is not only one of the field's most active areas of study, but also one of its most contentious.

While researchers agree that many of the recent breakthroughs would have come as a huge surprise to the grand old man, they seem to disagree about almost everything else, from what a species is to what exactly is meant by the origin of species and even whether Darwin shed any light on the process at all.

"Speciation is definitely one of the big-picture grand themes of evolutionary biology," said Mary Jane West-Eberhard, an evolutionary biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. She described study of the process as "an apparent turmoil that might be misunderstood by an outsider as a caldron of doubts and uncertainties but that in fact is a vitally alive science."

http://snipr.com/bmktk

 

Drugs Are Found to Block HIV In Monkeys
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

AIDS researchers who were gathered in Montreal yesterday heard encouraging results from studies of three strategies for preventing HIV infection using pharmaceuticals, particularly in women.

Two experiments in monkeys showed that antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, given by mouth or by vaginal gel, were highly effective in blocking infection by the virus that causes AIDS. A third study, in 3,100 women in the United States and Africa, showed a small amount of protection from a vaginal gel that acts by binding up the AIDS virus and preventing it from invading cells.

Many experts believe that, short of a vaccine, a virus-blocking substance that could be inserted in the vagina or rectum before sexual activity would be the most important tool in fighting the AIDS pandemic. Numerous topical microbicides have been tried, but none have worked, and two have actually increased the risk of infection.

http://snipr.com/bmky8

 

Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
from U.S. News and World Report

(HealthDay News)--In yet another blow to the dietary supplement industry, researchers find no evidence that multivitamin use helps older women ward off heart disease and cancer, the top two killers of women, respectively.

"Women can be encouraged by the fact that these vitamins seem to do no harm, but they also seem to confer no benefit," said study co-author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, a professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

"The kind of vitamins you get from diet is quite different, because foods are very complex and have a lot of chemicals we don't know about that interact with each other. [Eating a varied diet] is not the same as distilling it into a pill. The message is to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise and maintain weight."

http://snipr.com/bml0u

 

'Arctic Unicorns' in Icy Display
from BBC News Online

A BBC team used aerial cameras to film the creatures during their epic summer migration, as they navigated through cracks in the melting Arctic sea ice. They believe the footage, which forms part of the BBC Natural History Unit's new series Nature's Great Events, is the first of its kind.

Narwhal are sometimes called "Arctic unicorns" because of the long, spiral tusk that protrudes from their jaws. The appendages can reach more than 2m (7ft) in length; scientists believe males use them to attract potential mates.

The BBC crew headed to the Arctic in June 2008, to film the tusked animals' summer migration. At this time of year, temperatures begin to rise above freezing and the thick sea ice starts to melt, creating a complex network of cracks that cover the white expanse.

http://snipr.com/bml3v

 

Large Hadron Collider to Stay Switched Off for a Year
from the Times (London)

The restart of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the "Big Bang machine" that suffered a catastrophic fault days after it was switched on last September, has been delayed until the autumn.

Officials at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva have postponed the injection of new proton beams into the LHC until late September, meaning that the world's largest atom-smasher will have been mothballed for a year.

The decision to move the restart back by two months from July will allow engineers to install and test early warning and protection systems that should prevent serious damage in the event of further faults. The first particle collisions are now scheduled for late October. CERN will also take the unusual step of running the particle accelerator through most of next winter, to make up for lost time in collecting physics data.

http://snipr.com/bml5s

 

How Life Has Preserved Its Mystery
from the Telegraph (UK)

"Wonders are there many," observed the Greek dramatist Sophocles, "but none more wonderful than man." And rightly so, for we, as far as we can tell, are the sole witnesses of the splendours of the universe--though consistently less impressed by this privileged position than would seem warranted.

The chief reason for that lack of astonishment has always been that the practicalities of our everyday lives are so simple and effortless as to seem unremarkable. ... We reproduce, and play no part in the transformation of the fertilised egg into a fully formed embryo with its 4,000 functioning parts. We tend to our children's needs, but effortlessly they grow to adulthood, replacing along the way virtually every cell in their bodies.

These practicalities are not in the least bit simple, but in reality are the simplest things we know--because they have to be so. If our senses did not accurately capture the world around us, were the growth from childhood not virtually automatic, then "we" would never have happened.

http://snipr.com/bml8a

 

Birds Shift North as Globe Warms
from the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)--When it comes to global warming, the canary in the coal mine isn't a canary at all. It's a purple finch. As the temperature across the U.S. has gotten warmer, the purple finch has been spending its winters more than 400 miles farther north than it used to. And it's not alone.

An Audubon Society study to be released today found that more than half of 305 birds species in North America, a hodgepodge that includes robins, gulls, chickadees and owls, are spending the winter about 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago.

The purple finch was the biggest northward mover. Its wintering grounds are now more along the latitude of Milwaukee, Wis., instead of Springfield, Mo.

http://snipr.com/bmld1

 

Lunacy and the Full Moon
from Scientific American

Across the centuries, many a person has uttered the phrase "There must be a full moon out there" in an attempt to explain weird happenings at night. Indeed, the Roman goddess of the moon bore a name that remains familiar to us today: Luna, prefix of the word "lunatic." Greek philosopher Aristotle and Roman historian Pliny the Elder suggested that the brain was the "moistest" organ in the body and thereby most susceptible to the pernicious influences of the moon, which triggers the tides.

Belief in the "lunar lunacy effect," or "Transylvania effect," as it is sometimes called, persisted in Europe through the Middle Ages, when humans were widely reputed to transmogrify into werewolves or vampires during a full moon. Even today many people think the mystical powers of the full moon induce erratic behaviors, psychiatric hospital admissions, suicides, homicides, emergency room calls, traffic accidents, fights at professional hockey games, dog bites and all manner of strange events.

One survey revealed that 45 percent of college students believe moonstruck humans are prone to unusual behaviors, and other surveys suggest that mental health professionals may be still more likely than laypeople to hold this conviction. In 2007 several police departments in the U.K. even added officers on full-moon nights in an effort to cope with presumed higher crime rates.

http://snipr.com/bmlk9

 

Salamanders "Completely Gone" Due to Global Warming?
from National Geographic News

Silent and secretive creatures, salamanders are just as quietly falling off the map in tropical forests throughout Central America, a new study says.

Two common species surveyed in the 1970s in cloud forests of southern Mexico and Guatemala are extinct, and several others have plummeted in number, researchers say. The tiny amphibians seem to be on the same downward spiral as their frog cousins, which have been mysteriously declining for years.

Scientists have identified chytrid, a fast-killing fungus that may spread in waves, as responsible for wiping out frogs around the world. But among the Central American salamanders, "there's no way we can attribute the declines we've found to chytrid," said study author David Wake, an biologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

http://snipr.com/bmln6

 

Super Clocks: More Accurate Than Time Itself
from New Scientist

For those physicists and philosophers puzzled by nature's fourth dimension, Patrick Gill has a wry response. "Time," he says, "is what you measure in seconds."

For Gill, that is a statement of professional pride. He is what you might call Britain's top timekeeper. Within the windowless - and largely clockless - cream-brick confines of the UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL), near London, Gill and his colleagues are busy developing the next, staggeringly accurate generation of atomic clocks.

These tiny timepieces are the devices that ensure radio, television and mobile-phone transmissions stay in sync, prevent the internet from turning into a mess of missing data packets, make GPS accurate enough to navigate by, and safeguard electricity grids from blackout. They are, in short, the heartbeat of modern life.

http://snipr.com/bmmfb

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 19, 2009, 06:22:12 pm
February 12, 2009



Scientists Wary About Orbital Debris After Satellites Collide
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Associated Press)--Scientists are keeping a close eye on orbital debris created when two communications satellites--one American, the other Russian--smashed into each other hundreds of miles above the Earth. NASA said it will take weeks to determine the full magnitude of the unprecedented crash and whether any other satellites or even the Hubble Space Telescope are threatened.

The collision, which occurred nearly 500 miles over Siberia on Tuesday, was the first high-speed impact between two intact spacecraft, NASA officials said. "We knew this was going to happen eventually," said Mark Matney, an orbital debris scientist at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA believes any risk to the international space station and its three astronauts is low. It orbits about 270 miles below the collision course.

http://snipr.com/br4kg



Going Where Darwin Feared to Tread
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

In biology's most famous book, On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin steered clear of applying his revolutionary theory of evolution to the species of greatest interest to his readers--their own.

He couldn't avoid it forever, of course. He eventually wrote another tome nearly as famous, The Descent of Man. But he knew in 1859, when Species was published, that to jump right into a description of how human beings had tussled with the environment and one another over eons, changing their appearance, capabilities and behavior in the process, would be hard for people to accept. Better to stick with birds and barnacles.

Darwin was born 200 years ago today. On the Origin of Species will be 150 years old in a few months. There's no such reluctance now. The search for signs of natural selection in human beings has just begun. It will ultimately be as revelatory as Newton's description of the mathematics of motion 322 years ago, or the unlocking of the atom's secrets that began in the late 1800s.

http://snipr.com/br4nl



Seeing the World in Half-View
from Scientific American

A patient named Sally recently suffered a stroke that damaged her right parietal lobe without affecting other parts of the brain. The left side of her body--controlled by the right hemisphere--was paralyzed. But she was mentally normal and continued to remain the talkative, intelligent woman that she was before the stroke.

Yet Sally's father observed other disturbing symptoms to which--oddly enough--Sally herself seemed oblivious. When she attempted to move around the room in her wheelchair, she would sometimes bump into objects on her left.

Further testing confirmed that Sally was largely indifferent to objects and events on her left, even though she was not blind to them; once her attention was drawn to them, she could see them. Her eyesight was normal; her problem was in attending to the left. For example, when she ate, she would consume only the food on the right, ignoring the left side of the plate. ... Sally's deficits indicate that she suffers from hemineglect (or simply neglect), which can also occur in isolated form, unaccompanied by major paralysis.

http://snipr.com/br4pu



Duplication in Genomes May Separate Humans from Apes
from Science News

Although it may not be as dramatic as the Big Bang birthing the universe, an explosion of DNA duplication in the common ancestor of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas may be responsible for many of the differences among the species, a new study suggests. The big blowup happened 8 million to 12 million years ago, but its effects are still apparent today.

Human and great ape genes are notoriously similar, with few differences in the genetic letters that make up the instruction manual for building each of the primates. But gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and humans are obviously different. A new analysis of the entire genomes of humans and their ape cousins, published in the Feb. 11 Nature, suggests the differences may have roots in DNA duplications.

Researchers led by Evan Eichler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Washington in Seattle, compared the genomes of macaques, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans. The scientists found that chunks of the genomes had been copied and rearranged, sometimes multiple times, within each of the lineages.

http://snipr.com/br4sf



How Your Looks Betray Your Personality
from New Scientist

The history of science could have been so different. When Charles Darwin applied to be the "energetic young man" that Robert Fitzroy, the Beagle's captain, sought as his gentleman companion, he was almost let down by a woeful shortcoming that was as plain as the nose on his face.

Fitzroy believed in physiognomy--the idea that you can tell a person's character from their appearance. As Darwin's daughter Henrietta later recalled, Fitzroy had "made up his mind that no man with such a nose could have energy." Fortunately, the rest of Darwin's visage compensated for his sluggardly proboscis: "His brow saved him."

The idea that a person's character can be glimpsed in their face dates back to the ancient Greeks. It was most famously popularised in the late 18th century by the Swiss poet Johann Lavater, whose ideas became a talking point in intellectual circles. In Darwin's day, they were more or less taken as given. It was only after the subject became associated with phrenology, which fell into disrepute in the late 19th century, that physiognomy was written off as pseudoscience. Now the field is undergoing something of a revival.

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Evolution Revolution: Pace Is Speeding Up
from the Seattle Times

Blue eyes typically are associated with beauty, or perhaps Frank Sinatra. But to University of Wisconsin anthropologist John Hawks, they represent an evolutionary mystery. For nearly all of human history, everyone in the world had brown eyes. Then, between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, the first blue-eyed baby was born somewhere near the Black Sea.

For some reason, that baby's descendants gained a 5 percent evolutionary advantage over their brown-eyed competitors, and today the number of people with blue eyes tops half a billion. "What does it mean?" said Hawks, who studies the forces that have shaped the human species for the past 6 million years.

Nobody knows. It is one of the unanswered questions about evolution that persist 200 years after the birth of Charles Darwin, whose birthday will be celebrated worldwide Thursday.

http://snipr.com/br4xu



Blood Cells Filmed in Formation
from the Scientist (Registration Required)

Researchers have helped resolved a long-standing debate about which precursors in the developing mammalian embryo give rise to blood cells, after tracking the birth of these cells using in-vivo imaging that lasts for days, according a report in this week's Nature.

The study is one of a handful of papers to come out in recent months to examine the question of hematopoietic cell origin. "I would say the nice thing about the latest paper is that everything is seen live--which hasn't been possible before," said Francoise Dieterlen-Lievre of the Cellular and Molecular Embryology Institute in Nogent-sur-Marne, France, who was not involved in the study.

One challenge with tracking the cells' origin is that blood cells can migrate within the organism quite literally in a heartbeat, said Timm Schroeder of the GSF-Institute of Stem Cell Research in Neuherberg, Germany, the study's main author. "The problem is that we roughly know where these cells appear," he said, adding that "If you don't continuously watch it happen, then you can never exclude that the [blood] cells migrated from a different site."

http://snipr.com/br4zq



In New Procedure, Artificial Arm Listens to Brain
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Amanda Kitts lost her left arm in a car accident three years ago, but these days she plays football with her 12-year-old son, and changes diapers and bearhugs children at the three Kiddie Cottage day care centers she owns in Knoxville, Tenn.

Ms. Kitts, 40, does this all with a new kind of artificial arm that moves more easily than other devices and that she can control by using only her thoughts. "I'm able to move my hand, wrist and elbow all at the same time," she said. "You think, and then your muscles move."

Her turnaround is the result of a new procedure that is attracting increasing attention because it allows people to move prosthetic arms more automatically than ever before, simply by using rewired nerves and their brains. The technique, called targeted muscle reinnervation, involves taking the nerves that remain after an arm is amputated and connecting them to another muscle in the body, often in the chest.

http://snipr.com/br52c



Two Favorite Galaxies Face One Big Collision
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies, with their 1.2 trillion stars, are on course to collide at 1 million miles an hour. While humanity eventually might need sunglasses and seat belts for the rocky cosmic ride, there's no immediate need for panic. The smashup won't even begin to occur for another 2 billion years.

But James Lombardi Jr., an associate professor of physics at Allegheny College in Meadville, Crawford County, has worked for years to develop a computer model to explain stellar collisions. That knowledge also has provided him insight into the dynamics of intergalactic collisions.

He and two of his students have used his model to simulate stellar collisions that could occur when the Milky Way and Andromeda sideswipe each other and eventually coalesce into a giant egg-shaped galaxy.

http://snipr.com/br54g



Prostate Cancer Urine Test Hope
from BBC News Online

US scientists have moved a step closer to a simple urine test to distinguish between the benign and aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Some prostate cancers are slow-growing, while others require rapid treatment.

But telling them apart can be difficult and some patients undergo unnecessary surgery or radiation treatment. The latest study, published in Nature, links a group of small molecules produced by the body to the aggressive form of the disease.

In theory, testing for their presence should enable doctors to determine whether a patient has an aggressive form of prostate cancer--and requires urgent action. In contrast, patients with benign prostate cancer often end up dying of other conditions because their tumours are so slow to develop.

http://snipr.com/br56o

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 19, 2009, 06:24:41 pm
February 13, 2009



Researchers Map Genetic Codes for Cold Virus
from the Baltimore Sun

University of Maryland researchers have mapped the genetic codes for all known strains of the virus that causes the common cold, according to a study published yesterday in the journal Science. Understanding the genetic makeup of the virus could offer scientists clues on how to fight the common cold and possibly discover a cure, scientists said.

"There is real promise now, based on full understanding of this virus, that we have never had before," said Dr. Stephen B. Liggett, director of the cardiopulmonary genomics program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "My goal is to get at the root cause. Let's get, perhaps, a single pill [that] will kill the virus that day, that moment, and within six hours you are cured. And it is possible."

Of course, such a discovery might take time, he said. Until now, fighting the cold was a mystery, because scientists knew little about the genetic makeup of the virus that causes it.

http://snipr.com/btf4o



Tiny Songbirds Log Long Days While Migrating
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Tiny songbirds such as martins and thrushes can travel as far as 311 miles a day in their annual migrations between the Americas -- three times as far as researchers had previously believed -- biologists found in the first study to track the birds to their wintering grounds and back.

The birds fly two to six times as fast heading north in the spring as they do heading south in the fall, perhaps in a competition to reach the best breeding sites and attract the fittest mates, ornithologist Bridget Stutchbury of York University in Toronto reported today in the journal Science, which released the study online Thursday.

One industrious female martin flew the 4,660 miles from the Amazon basin to Pennsylvania in only 13 days -- with four of them spent on stopovers. The new data were obtained using miniature geolocators, about the size and weight of a dime, attached to the birds' backs much like a schoolchild's backpack.

http://snipr.com/btf7n



Big Science Role Is Seen in Global Warming Cure
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON--Steven Chu, the new secretary of energy, said Wednesday that solving the world's energy and environment problems would require Nobel-level breakthroughs in three areas: electric batteries, solar power and the development of new crops that can be turned into fuel.

Dr. Chu, a physicist, spoke during a wide-ranging interview in his office, where his own framed Nobel Prize lay flat on a bookcase, a Post-it note indicating where it should be hung on the wall. He addressed topics that included global warming, renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, the use of coal and a proposed repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Dr. Chu said a "revolution" in science and technology would be required if the world is to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and curb the emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.

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First Draft of Neanderthal Genome Unveiled
from New Scientist

The first draft of the genome of a 38,000 year-old Neanderthal is complete, scientists announced Thursday.

Early glimpses of the genome, which was sequenced by Svante Pääbo, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues, have already cast new light on the ancient human species that went extinct more than 25,000 years ago.

"This will be the first time the entire genome of an extinct organism has been sequenced," Pääbo told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in Chicago. Now study of the more complete genome will allow scientists to examine Neanderthals' relationship with modern humans as never before. A preliminary analysis of the sequence suggests that Neanderthals contributed few, if any, genes to humans via inbreeding.

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Obese Moms' Kids at Higher Risk of Birth Defects
from USA Today

Women who are obese when they conceive have an increased risk of delivering babies with birth defects, a report suggests. Obese women's risk of having babies with heart defects, cleft palates, hydrocephaly--a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain--and other birth defects also increased, but not as much as that of spina bifida.

Obesity is a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or more. BMI is calculated using weight and height. A 5-foot-4-inch woman at 174 pounds has a BMI of 30. In 2004, a third of U.S. women 15 and older were obese, the authors write in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The report, a review of 39 studies, found that obese women's babies were more than twice as likely to have spina bifida, a failure of the spine to close during early pregnancy. The extra number of cases in obese women vs. normal-weight women was small, about one in 2,000 births.

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Simulation Targets Early Cosmos
from BBC News Online

Scientists have used a supercomputer to simulate what the Universe was like as the first galaxies were forming. The model maps how matter is thought to have been distributed a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

The work should help astronomers hunt down ancient galaxies using the latest telescope technologies--they will know what to look for. The simulation has been produced by scientists at Durham University's Institute of Computational Cosmology.

"The calculation we've done has predictions for what we should see in a few years' time when the massive telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere are fitted with new instrumentation--cameras and detectors--to observe early epochs, stretching right back to when the Universe was less than a tenth of its present age," said Durham researcher Dr Carlton Baugh.

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Secret of Love Boils Down to Chemistry in New Study
from the Seattle Times

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)--Like any young woman in love, Bianca Acevedo has exchanged valentine hearts with her fiancé. But the New York neuroscientist knows better. The source of love is in the head, not the heart.

She's one of the researchers in a relatively new field focused on explaining the biology of romantic love. The unpoetic explanation is that love mostly can be understood through brain images, hormones and genetics. That seems to be the case for the newly in love, the long in love and the brokenhearted.

"It has a biological basis. We know some of the key players," said Larry Young, of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta. There, he studies the brains of an unusual monogamous rodent to get a better clue about what goes on in the minds of people in love.

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Mars Mission Has Some Seeing Red
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

PASADENA, Calif.--In a "clean room" in Building 150 of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is something that looks very much like a flying saucer. It's a capsule containing a huge, brawny Mars rover, a Hummer compared with the Mini Coopers that have previously rolled across the Red Planet.

This is the Mars Science Laboratory, the space agency's next big mission to the most Earth-like planet in the solar system. But it's been a magnet for controversy, and a reminder that the robotic exploration of other worlds is never a snap, especially when engineers decide to get ambitious.

The launch has been delayed for two years because of technical glitches. Approved at $1.63 billion, the mission's price tag will be at least $2.2 billion, NASA now estimates. Critics say the cost has really quadrupled since the project was first dreamed up. What no one can doubt is that ambitious missions tend to become costly ones, which jangles the nerves of officials who know how easy it is for a Mars mission to go bust.

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Greenhouse Gases: Accounting from Above
from the Economist

Sometimes it is worth looking at the big picture. That is the idea behind monitoring greenhouse gases from space. In January the Japanese space agency, JAXA, launched Ibuki, the first satellite dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide and methane. Later this month the American space agency, NASA, is due to launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), which is also designed to monitor carbon dioxide.

The new satellites will work as carbon accountants by keeping a close eye on how the Earth breathes and returning regular audits. Ibuki, which means "breath" in Japanese, orbits the Earth approximately every 100 minutes at an average altitude of 667km. It will gather data from 56,000 points around the globe with two detectors.

One is a spectrometer that measures sunlight reflected from the Earth's surface. Both carbon dioxide and methane absorb energy from sunlight and both leave a unique signature that can be measured to detect changes in intensity. JAXA says Ibuki can detect carbon-dioxide changes of around one part per million, which is akin to detecting the change in salinity produced by four drops of salt water in a 200-litre bathtub of water. The second detector takes readings of clouds and other aerosols in the Earth's atmosphere that can reflect or absorb radiation.

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Darwin at 200 and the Evolving Cancer Fight
from the Philadelphia Inquirer

Evolution may still provoke controversy in some classrooms, but in the laboratory, Charles Darwin's theories are propelling new research. As the world celebrates his 200th birthday today, Carlo Maley of Philadelphia's Wistar Institute is using the evolutionary prism to understand not a species, but a disease: cancer.

Maley views cancer as an evolutionary process. At the root of the disease is our distant ancestry as single-celled organisms and the tendency for our cells to occasionally revert to their old ways. Our resemblance to organisms such as amoebae might not seem obvious until you examine a human cell in detail. Among other things, we share a system of storing and encoding information in DNA and many of the same genes.

The big difference is that human cells are programmed to cooperate, thus working together to make an organ or a body work, while microbes are selfish, each one competing for better ways to survive and reproduce.

http://snipr.com/btfus

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 19, 2009, 06:28:20 pm
February 16, 2009

 

Earthlings Try Eavesdropping on a Cosmic Party Line
from the Wall Street Journal

Long Beach, Calif--Radio astronomer Jill Tarter has her ear at the keyhole of the cosmos, listening for a signal from life beyond Earth. For decades, she and her colleagues have surveyed the sky in vain. The recent discovery of so many worlds around other suns, though, has renewed her resolve -- and so has the prospect of greater public support.

In a display of private sector science, her cause -- the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) -- has been embraced by a geek-chic collective of technocrats, info-moguls, activists and wishful thinkers, from Bill Gates to Cameron Diaz, who gathered in Long Beach, Calif., last week at the conclave of an influential enterprise called TED. The acronym stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design."

Now in its 25th year, its invitation-only conference is the nexus of a global talk circuit whose video essays on science, culture, design and economics have been viewed via the web more than 100 million times and translated into 25 languages. It's grown adept at raising the venture capital of idealism.

http://snipr.com/bzdjj

 

Carbon Burial Research Grows as Huge Experiment Begins
from Wired

Chicago--A landmark Energy Department project to bury carbon dioxide produced by humans has begun as workers sunk a huge drill bit into Illinois ground this week, signaling continued support for a climate change mitigation strategy that has fallen out of favor in many circles.

The start of drilling marks the launch a geological sequestration project that will deposit a million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the ground by 2012. While that's nothing compared to the several billion tons of CO2 that humans emit yearly, it's the geology of the site that makes the development exciting. The CO2 will be piped into a geological formation that underlies parts of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky that could eventually hold more than 100 billion tons of CO2.

"This is going to be a large-scale injection of 1 million metric tons, one of the largest injections to date in the U.S." project manager Robert Finley said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting Sunday.

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Why Birds Collide With Airplanes
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

While delivering a lecture at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, years ago, I was asked to address a group of students who had recently lost their fathers in a military airplane crash at nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base. Their jet had been brought down because of a "bird strike" - birds flying into the aircraft's engine. Twenty-four people died.

... A student asked, "Why do birds collide with airplanes, and how can we prevent such collisions?" That is a question that the aviation world has tried to answer for years.

...In the 1980s, before my trip to Alaska, I undertook a biological study of why birds cannot get out of the way of aircraft. My investigation took me from Logan International Airport to a sea gull nesting area on Monomoy Island.

http://snipr.com/bzdnh

 

The Computer as a Road Map to Unknowable Territory
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

Last year, as the financial meltdown was getting underway, a scientist named Yaneer Bar-Yam developed a computer model of the economy. Instead of the individuals, companies and brokers that populate the real economy, the model used virtual actors. The computer world allowed Bar-Yam to do what regulators cannot do in real life. It allowed him to change the way actors behaved and then study how those changes rippled through a complex ecosystem.

The fundamental principle behind the model was simple. Human beings regularly solve problems by imagining how particular behaviors can lead to specific outcomes. Regulators, managers and leaders try to do the same thing on a bigger scale. But in a system as complex as the economy, where feedback loops of rumor, fear and misinformation regularly trigger panic and herd behavior, the ability of individuals to forecast outcomes can diminish rapidly.

... Bar-Yam wanted to understand why the economy was so unstable. Commentators were focused on the housing crisis, but Bar-Yam was not sure whether the bursting of the real estate bubble was upstream or downstream of the instability in the economy.

http://snipr.com/bzdpg

 

Dance Duet Helps Male Birds Mate
from BBC News Online

It is the ultimate "gentleman's agreement." Rather than compete for females, male long-tailed manakins co-operate with their friends.

The tropical birds pair up to perform a courtship song and dance, but the alpha male gets the girl every time. Meanwhile his "wingman" spends five years playing second fiddle. But he eventually inherits the mating site.

The dance, dubbed "backwards leapfrog," was filmed in Costa Rica by zoologists from the University of Wyoming. At first glance, it appears like a competitive "dance-off." But in fact it is a co-operative pact between buddies, says Dr David McDonald, of Wyoming University.

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Sponge's Secret Weapon Restores Antibiotics' Power
from Science News

CHICAGO -- A chemical from an ocean-dwelling sponge can reprogram antibiotic resistant bacteria to make them vulnerable to medicines again, new evidence suggests.

Ineffective antibiotics become lethal once again for bacteria treated with the sponge compound, chemist Peter Moeller reported February 13 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. "The potential is outstanding. This could revolutionize our approach to thinking about how infections are treated," comments Carolyn Sotka of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Oceans and Human Health Initiative in Charleston, S.C.

Everything living in the ocean survives in a microbial soup, under constant bombardment from bacterial assaults. Researchers led by Moeller, of Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, found a sponge thriving in the midst of dead organisms. This anomalous life amidst death raised an obvious question, says Moeller: "How is this thing surviving when everything else is dead?"

http://snipr.com/bzdx7

 

Making the Grid Work for Renewable Energy
from Scientific American

The new acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wants to use "creative mechanisms" within the agency's authority to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.

As the head of FERC, Jon Wellinghoff said he will prioritize infrastructure efficiency and the integration of renewable energy into the grid, and will support the use of distributed and demand-side resources, which he described as "very underutilized in this country."

"These are very consistent with the new administration's goals," Wellinghoff told reporters at a Platts Energy Podium event yesterday. The acting FERC chief said he would meet with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Carol Browner, the White House coordinator for energy and climate policy, [the] week [of February 15].

http://snipr.com/bzdxz

 

Ocean Survey Reveals Hundreds of 'Bipolar' Species
from New Scientist

Poles apart, but intimately linked. Of the thousands of species that populate Antarctica and the Arctic, it seems hundreds are "bipolar": found at both ends of the 11,000 kilometre span between the poles.

The surveys, part of the international Census of Marine Life, also suggest the Antarctic acts as a cold incubator for species that populate the deep sea around the planet. As ice ages come and go, and the ice shelf advances and retreats, species are isolated, evolve, then released to the global sea floor.

The 235 species that we believe are found at both poles include a great variety of animals, says Julian Gutt of the Alfred Wegner Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. The easiest ones to explain are the large migrating organisms, such as whales and birds. But the list also includes a large number of animals that are thought to live relatively sedentary lives.

http://snipr.com/bze0e

 

Could 'Liquid Wood' Replace Plastic?
from the Christian Science Monitor

Almost 40 years ago, American scientists took their first steps in a quest to break the world's dependence on plastics. But in those four decades, plastic products have become so cheap and durable that not even the forces of nature seem able to stop them. A soupy expanse of plastic waste - too tough for bacteria to break down - now covers an estimated 1 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

Sensing a hazard, researchers started hunting for a substitute for plastic's main ingredient, petroleum. They wanted something renewable, biodegradable, and abundant enough to be inexpensive.

Though they stumbled upon a great candidate early on, many US chemists had given up on it by the end of the 1990s. The failed wonder material: lignin, the natural compound that lends strength to trees. A waste product from paper production, much of the lignin supply is simply burned as fuel. But while many scientists turned to other green options, a German company, Tecnaro, says it found the magic formula. Its "liquid wood" can be molded like plastic, yet biodegrades over time.

http://snipr.com/bze2d

 

Report Says Federal Salmon Recovery Strategy Needs 'Immediate Change'
from the Oregonian

Next month, U.S. District Judge James Redden will hear oral arguments in the ongoing lawsuit over the operation of federal dams in the Columbia and Snake rivers and their impact on protected salmon. Redden's ruling will have broad implications for a national salmon recovery plan that recently came under harsh criticism from a group of retired wildlife managers and salmon experts calling themselves the Council of Elders.

This month, the Elders weighed in on the federal government's salmon recovery strategy. In a word, it's a mess, they say. "How can a federal agency that's supposed to be following the law here come up with something that's so bad?" asked Jim Martin, salmon adviser to former Gov. John Kitzhaber and one of the report's authors.

The report alleges corruption of the political process, mismanagement and subversion of the Endangered Species Act in the government's salmon recovery effort, which costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

http://snipr.com/bze3k

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 19, 2009, 06:29:10 pm
February 17, 2009

 

Perseverence Is Paying Off for a Test of Relativity in Space
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

STANFORD, Calif.--For 46 years, Francis Everitt, a Stanford University physicist, has promoted the often perilous fortunes of Gravity Probe B, perhaps the most exotic, "Star Trek"-ish experiment ever undertaken in space. Finally, with emergency financial help from a pair of unusual sources, success is at hand.

Conceived in the late 1950s, financed by $750 million from NASA and launched into orbit in 2004, the Gravity Probe B spacecraft has sought to prove two tenets of Einstein's theory of general relativity.

The first, called the geodetic effect, holds that a large celestial body like Earth will warp time the way a rubber sheet stretches when a bowling ball is placed on it. The second, known as frame-dragging, occurs when the rotation of a large body "twists" nearby space and time; turn the resting bowling ball, and the rubber sheet twists.

http://snipr.com/c1pxn

 

Deadly Bacteria Defy Drugs, Alarming Doctors
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

When Ruth Burns had surgery to relieve a pinched nerve in her back, the operation was supposed to be an "in-and-out thing," recalled her daughter, Kacia Warren.

But Burns developed pneumonia and was put on a ventilator. Five days later, she was discharged--only to be rushed by her daughter to the hospital hours later, disoriented and in alarming pain.

Seventeen days after the surgery, the 67-year-old nurse was dead. Burns had developed meningitis--an infection of the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. The culprit was Acinetobacter baumannii, a bug that preys on the weak in hospitals. Worse, it was a multi-drug-resistant strain.

http://snipr.com/c1q7a

 

Scientists Warn of Persistent 'Dead Zones' in Bay, Elsewhere
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

CHICAGO--Healing low-oxygen aquatic "dead zones" in the Chesapeake Bay and hundreds of other spots worldwide will be trickier than previously imagined, leading scientists on the issue said Sunday.

That's because the low oxygen levels that make it impossible for most organisms to survive also kill bacteria crucial to removing nitrogen from the water. Dead zones are caused primarily by excess nutrients--nitrogen and phosphorus--that feed massive algae blooms.

Those, in turn, soak up most of the water's oxygen and leave little for other life forms--a condition known as hypoxia. In recent years there have been extensive efforts to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and other areas with dead zones. But those efforts have not yielded the expected results, scientists said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

http://snipr.com/c1qak

 

US Seeks Mercury Reduction Treaty
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

NAIROBI (Associated Press)--The Obama administration reversed years of US policy yesterday by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution, which it described as the world's gravest chemical problem.

Some 6,000 tons of mercury enter the environment each year, about a third generated by power stations and coal fires. Much settles into the oceans where it enters the food chain and is concentrated in predatory fish like tuna. Children and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to poisoning by the toxic metal, which can cause birth defects, brain damage, and peeling skin.

Daniel Reifsnyder, the deputy assistant secretary of state for environment and sustainable development, told a global gathering of environmental ministers in Nairobi that the United States wants negotiations on limiting mercury to begin this year and conclude within three.

http://snipr.com/c1qi1

 

Alien Life 'May Exist Among Us'
from BBC News Online

Never mind Mars, alien life may be thriving right here on Earth, a major science conference has heard. Our planet may harbour forms of "weird life" unrelated to life as we know it, according to Professor Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona State University.

This "shadow life" may be hidden in toxic arsenic lakes or in boiling deep sea hydrothermal vents, he says. He has called on scientists to launch a "mission to Earth" by trawling hostile environments for signs of bio-activity.

Weird life could even be living among us, in forms which we don't yet recognise, he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Chicago. "We don't have to go to other planets to find weird life. It could be right in front of our noses-or even in our noses ..."

http://snipr.com/c1qkh

 

'Super X-ray' to Shed New Light on the Ancient World
from the Times (London)

A scientific instrument is to transform research into the ancient world by using a light ten billion times brighter than the Sun to reveal the secrets of statues, mummies and sarcophagi.

The imaging facility at the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire will allow objects weighing up to two tonnes to be examined in brilliant X-ray light, to expose clues to their construction and contents.

Three Egyptian bronze figurines from the British Museum will be among the first treasures to be investigated by the Joint Engineering, Environmental and Processing beamline or Jeep. It uses intense radiation known as synchrotron light, generated by the Diamond Light Source, which allows scientists to see through solid objects and to show structural details that cannot be seen by standard X-rays.

http://snipr.com/c1qmi

 

Treatment for Injury Puts Patient's Blood to Work
from the Seattle Times

Two of the Pittsburgh Steelers' biggest stars, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu, used their own blood in an innovative injury treatment before winning the Super Bowl.

The early promise of the procedure--commonly called platelet-rich plasma therapy--is reassuring experts in sports medicine that it could eventually improve the treatment of stubborn injuries like tennis elbow and knee tendinitis for athletes of all types.

It "has the potential to revolutionize not just sports medicine but all of orthopedics," said Dr. Allan Mishra, an assistant professor of orthopedics at Stanford University Medical Center and one of the primary researchers in the field.

http://snipr.com/c1qqc

 

Special Series: Darwin Turns 200
from Science News

Charles Darwin was born February 12, 1809. A Science News special series features an account of Darwin's life and work, the history of the theory of evolution, modern work in evolutionary science, and an interactive timeline of milestones in life's development and the scientific work to understand it.

This special Web edition of Science News includes expanded versions of articles from the magazine's print edition plus two additional features, all commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.

In addition to exploring Darwin's life and science, the series includes five reports from the frontiers of research in evolutionary science.

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Graphene Electronics Inches Closer to Mass Production
from Scientific American

Silicon has transformed the digital world, but researchers are still eager to find substances that will make integrated circuits smaller, faster and cheaper. High on the list is graphene--planar sheets of honeycomb carbon rings just one atom thick.

This nanomaterial sports a range of properties--including ultrastrength, transparency (because of its thinness) and blisteringly fast electron conductivity--that make it promising for flexible displays and superspeedy electronics. Isolated only four years ago, graphene already appears in prototype transistors, memories and other devices.

But to go from lab benches to store shelves, engineers need to devise methods to make industrial quantities of large, uniform sheets of pure, single-ply graphene. Researchers are pursuing several processing routes, but which approach will succeed remains unclear. "We've seen claims by groups that say that they can coat whole silicon wafers with monolayer sheets of graphene cheaply," reports James M. Tour, a chemist at Rice University. "But so far no one has publicly demonstrated it."

http://snipr.com/c1qy3

 

Evolution in Black and White
from Smithsonian Magazine

Shortly after he completed his second term as president in 1909, Teddy Roosevelt took a year-long hunting safari in Africa under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution. ... Roosevelt's safari experiences, regaled in his book African Game Trails (1910) gave him strong opinions about how animals blended, or did not blend, with their surroundings.

... Roosevelt scoffed at notions of the protective value of coloration for two reasons. First, the horse-mounted hunter extraordinaire had little difficulty spotting, stalking and bagging big game .... Clearly animals' colors did not protect them from him. And second, while at the time the fact of evolution was widely accepted by scientists (and Roosevelt), Darwin's explanation of the primary role of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution was not.

Natural selection had fallen out of favor, in particular over the matter of animal coloration. Many naturalists in the 1890s had criticized Darwinian explanations of coloration as wholly lacking evidence, and offered other explanations. For instance, some suggested that coloration was directly caused by external factors such as climate, light or diet.

http://snipr.com/c1r2c

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 19, 2009, 06:31:38 pm
http://membracid.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/new-research-on-bedbug-insecticide-resistance/

Time to get paranoid. About bedbugs.

 :x NOT READING IT!

Just tell me when it's time to move to Alaska.
Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 20, 2009, 07:51:44 pm
February 18, 2009

 

First Carbon-Free Polar Station Opens in Antarctica
from the Boston Globe (Registration Required)

PRINCESS ELISABETH BASE, Antarctica (Reuters) -- The world's first zero-emission polar research station opened in Antarctica on Sunday and was welcomed by scientists as proof that alternative energy is viable even in the coldest regions.

Pioneers of Belgium's Princess Elisabeth station in East Antarctica said if a station could rely on wind and solar power in Antarctica -- mostly a vast, icy emptiness -- it would undercut arguments by skeptics that green power is not reliable.

"If we can build such a station in Antarctica we can do that elsewhere in our society. We have the capacity, the technology, the knowledge to change our world," Alain Hubert, the station's project director, told Reuters at the inauguration ceremony.

http://snipr.com/c4ajy

 

The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

The cellphone is the world's most ubiquitous computer. The four billion cellphones in use around the globe carry personal information, provide access to the Web and are being used more and more to navigate the real world. And as cellphones change how we live, computer scientists say, they are also changing how we think about information.

It has been 25 years since the desktop, with its files and folders, was introduced as a way to think about what went on inside a personal computer. The World Wide Web brought other ways of imagining the flow of data. With the dominance of the cellphone, a new metaphor is emerging for how we organize, find and use information. New in one sense, that is. It is also as ancient as humanity itself. That metaphor is the map.

"The map underlies man's ability to perceive," said Richard Saul Wurman, a graphic designer who was a pioneer in the use of maps as a generalized way to search for information of all kinds before the emergence of the online world.

http://snipr.com/c4ame

 

GM Battles Rage down on the Farm
from BBC News Online

Pressure is mounting from some scientists for Europe to end its resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops but fears remain about the impact of such technology on the rights of farmers.

Many American farmers like the ease of operating a GM system which involves regular spraying of chemicals which kill weeds but don't hurt their crops.

The problem is that GM pollen can blow across fields and anti-GM campaigners say the fear of being prosecuted for growing GM accidentally leads many farmers to give up traditional methods and take the GM route for a quiet life.

http://snipr.com/c4ao2

 

A Green Visitor Makes its Approach
from Science News

A first-time visitor to the inner solar system -- already spotted with the naked eye from some locales -- could make a spectacle of itself when it comes closest to Earth on February 24.

First spotted by a young Chinese astronomy student Quanzhi Ye in 2007, Comet Lulin will pass within 61 million kilometers of Earth, about 41 percent of the Earth-sun distance. Named for the observatory in Taiwan where it was discovered, Lulin has a greenish cast because sunlight illuminates two gases -- cyanogen and diatomic carbon -- in its Jupiter-sized atmosphere.

Astronomers estimate that the comet will reach a maximum brightness of 4th or 5th magnitude, which means that it may be dimly visible to the naked eye from some dark-sky locales at closest approach. With binoculars or a small telescope, it should be an easy target.

http://snipr.com/c4aov

 

Semiconductor Tech Diagnoses Eye Disease over the Internet
from Wired

An imaging analysis technique developed to find defects in semiconductors is being used to diagnose the eye problems associated with diabetes over the internet.

Pictures of a diabetic patient's retina, the inner surface of the eye, are uploaded to a server that compares them to a database of thousands of other images of healthy and diseased eyes. Algorithms can assign a disease level to the new eye image by looking at the same factors, mainly damage to blood vessels, that an eye doctor would.

Right now, ophthalmologist Andrew Chaum of the University of Tennessee double checks the system's work, but he expects the algorithm to be diagnosing patients on its own within three months. "At that point, the system becomes completely automated with just oversight from me," Chaum said. "That's unique. There isn't anything like that going on anywhere in the world."

http://snipr.com/c4aqz

 

First Liquid Water May Have Been Spotted on Mars
from New Scientist

NASA's Phoenix lander may have captured the first images of liquid water on Mars - droplets that apparently splashed onto the spacecraft's leg during landing, according to some members of the Phoenix team.

The controversial observation could be explained by the mission's previous discovery of perchlorate salts in the soil, since the salts can keep water liquid at sub-zero temperatures. Researchers say this antifreeze effect makes it possible for liquid water to be widespread just below the surface of Mars, but point out that even if it is there, it may be too salty to support life as we know it.

A few days after Phoenix landed on 25 May 2008, it sent back an image showing mysterious splotches of material attached to one of its legs. Strangely, the splotches grew in size over the next few weeks, and Phoenix scientists have been debating the origin of the objects ever since.

http://snipr.com/c4ats

 

Can America's West Stay Wild?
from the Christian Science Monitor

In 1993, Washington State classified its Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, a burrowing one-pound resident of sagebrush thickets, as endangered. Farming and other human activity had greatly limited the deep-soil habitat available to the bunny.

...By 2003, fewer than 30 rabbits lived in the wild, down from 250 in 1995. By 2004, they were all gone. For many, the disappearance of this tiny denizen of sagebrush thickets is a cautionary tale. Captive breeding programs are a noble last resort, they say. But in this case, not enough was done to save the wild population, they charge.

...Here, the tale of the pygmy rabbit intersects with a long-raging acrimonious debate in the US West. Just over half the land in the West is public land. And what are public lands for - the preservation of "pristine" nature or resource extraction? Historically, management of these lands by state and federal agencies has favored resource extractors far more than conservationists would like. But as western economies change and demographics shift, this emphasis on extraction makes less and less sense, economists say.

http://snipr.com/c4avm

 

Report: Fetal Stem Cells Trigger Tumors in Ill Boy
from the Richmond Times Dispatch

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- A family desperate to save a child from a lethal brain disease sought highly experimental injections of fetal stem cells - injections that triggered tumors in the boy's brain and spinal cord, Israeli scientists reported Tuesday.

Scientists are furiously trying to harness different types of stem cells - the building blocks for other cells in the body - to regrow damaged tissues and thus treat devastating diseases. But for all the promise, researchers have long warned that they must learn to control newly injected stem cells so they don't grow where they shouldn't, and small studies in people are only just beginning.

Tuesday's report in the journal PLoS Medicine is the first documented case of a human brain tumor - albeit a benign, slow-growing one - after fetal stem cell therapy, and hammers home the need for careful research.

http://snipr.com/c4axv

 

Museum Secrets Unmasked by "Museomics" Technologies
from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

from National Geographic News

In museum display cases and dusty drawers worldwide, a burst of new technologies is now unlocking otherwise hidden secrets from fossils, fur, and other relics of a vanished past.

The phenomenon, called museomics, gives new life to musty old objects. Stephan Schuster, a molecular biologist and biochemist at Pennsylvania State University, coined the term. With colleague Webb Miller, Schuster last year reconstructed most of the mammoth genome using hair that had been sitting in a Russian museum for 200 years.

"No effort was made to freeze it or dry it. It's just hair in a drawer. And [our attempts to recover DNA] worked. This is what gave us the idea for trying to attempt something like museomics," Schuster said.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090217-museomics.html

 

Major Cache of Fossils Unearthed in L.A.
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Workers excavating an underground garage on the site of an old May Co. parking structure in Los Angeles' Hancock Park got more than just a couple hundred new parking spaces. They found the largest known cache of fossils from the last ice age, an assemblage that has flabbergasted paleontologists.

Researchers from the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea tar pits have barely begun extracting the fossils from the sandy, tarry matrix of soil, but they expect the find to double the size of the museum's collection from the period, already the largest in the world.

Among their finds, to be formally announced today, is the nearly intact skeleton of a Columbian mammoth -- named Zed by researchers -- a prize discovery because only bits and pieces of mammoths had previously been found in the tar pits.

http://snipr.com/c4ag8

Title: Re: Weekly Science Headlines
Post by: Kai on February 20, 2009, 07:52:30 pm
February 19, 2009

 

Drugs Can Save Hearts and Cash
from the (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer

It's much cheaper and just as effective to treat some heart attacks with drugs instead of also trying to snake a stent into a clogged artery, scientists at Duke University report today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings could prompt significant savings for many of the estimated 1.2 million Americans who suffer heart attacks each year. Wire mesh stents open clogged arteries and can save lives when used within a few hours of a heart attack, but they're no more beneficial than clot-busting drugs alone if the attack occurred a day or so before the patient sought treatment.

Forgoing stents in those cases could save an average of $7,000 per patient--or $700 million for the estimated 100,000 U.S. heart attack patients who don't need them.

http://snipr.com/c6roz

 

Study Calls for Oversight of Forensics in Crime Labs
from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Crime laboratories around the country are grossly underfunded, lack a scientific foundation and are compromised by critical delays in analyzing physical evidence, according to a broad study of forensic techniques published Wednesday by the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's premier scientific body.

Among its many criticisms, the study counted a backlog of 359,000 requests for forensic analysis in 2005, a 24 percent increase in delays since 2002. A survey of crime laboratories found 80 percent of them to be understaffed.

A new federal agency is needed to regulate these laboratories, standardize forensic techniques and pay for research, according to the report, which was financed by Congress in 2005.

http://snipr.com/c6rrh

 

Brain Scans "Read Minds" With Surprising Accuracy
from National Geographic News

Could MRI someday stand for Mind Reading Imagery? Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology can tell what people are thinking with startling accuracy, a new study found. Volunteers were shown two different patterns, then asked to picture one or the other.

Using fMRI brain scans, the researchers predicted--at better than 80 percent--which of the two patterns each person was actively holding in memory 11 seconds later. By measuring blood flow, fMRI images reveal which groups of neurons are active.

Some of the visual cortex's neurons are associated more with vertical visual patterns, and others with horizontal or angled patterns, explained neuroscientist Frank Tong of Vanderbilt University, who led the study. That distinction allowed the team to predict which pattern volunteers had in mind, even well after the images were removed from the screen.

http://snipr.com/c6rt8

 

It's All Systems Go for Europa
from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

NASA announced plans Wednesday to embark on a mammoth 20-year project to send a spacecraft to Jupiter's ice-covered moon Europa as its next flagship mission to search for life elsewhere in the solar system.

The mission, which could cost as much as $3 billion, will be managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. It will focus on the possibility that in the gigantic ocean thought to be hidden under the moon's thick cover of ice is a habitable zone where rudimentary forms of life could exist.

The probe will launch in 2020 in tandem with another orbiter built by the European Space Agency that will focus on Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede.

http://snipr.com/c6rv9

 

Are Bad Sleeping Habits Driving Us Mad?
from New Scientist

Take anyone with a psychiatric disorder and the chances are they don't sleep well. The result of their illness, you might think. Now this long-standing assumption is being turned on its head, with the radical suggestion that poor sleep might actually cause some psychiatric illnesses or lead people to behave in ways that doctors mistake for mental problems.

The good news is that sleep treatments could help or even cure some of these patients. Shockingly, it also means that many people, including children, could be taking psychoactive drugs that cannot help them and might even be harmful.

No one knows how many people might fall into this category. "That is very frightening," says psychologist Matt Walker from the University of California, Berkeley. "Wouldn't you think that it would be important for us as a society to understand whether 3 percent, 5 percent or 50 percent of people diagnosed with psychiatric problems are simply suffering from sleep abnormalities?"

http://snipr.com/c6rx5

 

Galaxy Mix: No Dark Matter Required
from Science News

Darth Vaders of astronomy, step aside. Purveyors of theories of dark matter--the invisible, as-yet-undetected material supposedly needed for galaxy formation--have a seat. Astronomers say they have found evidence that the gravitational collapse of visible, swirling gas may suffice to make some dwarf galaxies.

Astronomers base the surprising claim, reported in the Feb. 19 Nature, on new ultraviolet observations of the Leo ring--a vast cloud of hydrogen and helium gas that orbits two massive galaxies in the constellation Leo.

The cloud may be a pristine leftover from the formation of these galaxies, essentially unchanged since the early universe. Indeed, since the ring was discovered some 25 years ago, astronomers have scrutinized it with state-of-the art radio and visible-light telescopes and found no evidence of stars, nothing except the gas.

http://snipr.com/c6rya

 

Study Suggests How Alzheimer's Attacks Brain
from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

CHICAGO (Reuters)--U.S. scientists proposed a new theory Wednesday of how Alzheimer's disease kills brain cells they said opens new avenues of research into treatments for the fatal, brain-wasting disease.

They believe a chemical mechanism that naturally prunes away unwanted brain cells during early brain development somehow gets hijacked in Alzheimer's disease.

"The key player we're focusing on is a