Saturday, September 12, 2009

Carbon Nanotubes Could Make Efficient Solar Cells

In a carbon nanotube-based photodiode, electrons (blue) and holes (red) - the positively charged areas where electrons used to be before becoming excited - release their excess energy to efficiently create more electron-hole pairs when light is shined on the device. (Credit: Nathan Gabor)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 11, 2009) — Using a carbon nanotube instead of traditional silicon, Cornell researchers have created the basic elements of a solar cell that hopefully will lead to much more efficient ways of converting light to electricity than now used in calculators and on rooftops.

Read more ....

Life in the Dark: How Organisms Survived Asteroid Impacts

One of the phototrophs used in the experiment was Chlorella vulgaris.
Credit: Charles University in Prague.

From Live Science:

A dinosaur-killing asteroid may have wiped out much of life on Earth 65 million years ago, but now scientists have discovered how smaller organisms might have survived in the darkness following such a catastrophic impact.

Survival may have depended upon jack-of-all-trades organisms called mixotrophs that can consume organic matter in the absence of sunlight. That would have proved crucial during the long months of dust and debris blotting out the sun, when plenty of dead or dying organic matter filled the Earth's oceans and lakes.

Read more ....

Killer Whales Strain to "Talk" Over Ship Noise?

A baby killer whale surfaces near adults in Puget Sound. The calf was born in March 2009 to a pod that lives near the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State.
The San Juan killer whales "talk" more during foraging than traveling, researchers said in September 2009. But since the whales also have to raise their voices to be heard above boat noise, scientists worry that the animals may be using up too much energy during hunts, even as their preferred prey, chinook salmon, are on the decline. Photograph courtesy Center for Whale Research via AP

From National Geographic:

Killer whales raise their voices to be heard over boat noise, and the effort may be wearing the whales out as they try to find food amid dwindling numbers of salmon, new research says.

The killer whales of Puget Sound make more calls and clicks while foraging than while traveling, suggesting that such mealtime conservations are key to coordinating hunts, the work reveals.

Read more ....

Junk Cost Estimates Supplied to Augustine Committee Threaten to Sink NASA's Human Spaceflight Program

From The Mars Society:

The Mars Society has examined copies of the cost projections being used by the Augustine Committee in currently considering the future of NASA's human spaceflight program. These estimates, generated by the Aerospace Corporation, a US Air Force funded policy oracle, have no scientific basis and have clearly been composed to make the case that human space exploration is unaffordable.

A copy of the Aerospace Corporation's bizarre cost estimates being used by the Augustine Committee is available here.

Read more ....

Earlier Model of Human Brain's Energy Usage Underestimated Its Efficiency

A MODEL OF EFFICIENCY?: That mammals' brains appear to conserve energy on the front end of synapse communication leads researchers to believe the advance helped allow bigger brains to develop. ISTOCKPHOTO/KTSIMAGE

From Scientific American:

A long-held model of the brain's efficiency crumbles as researchers find that one function of mammals' brains consumes a lot less energy than previously assumed. Now, basic measurements of neural activity--from brain energy budgets to fMRI results--may have to be reassessed.

The human brain is an incredible energy drain. Taking up only about 2 percent of the body's mass, the organ uses more than a fifth of bodily energy. Ever more accurate calculations of its energy budget at the level of the neuron (nerve cell) are important to researchers ranging from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysts to evolutionary biologists.

Read more ....

Wide Angle: Swine Flu Outbreak

The last flu pandemic -- the Hong Kong flu of 1968 -- killed about 1 million people. The Hong Kong government has ordered all kindergartens and primary schools closed after a dozen students tested positive for the swine flu. Credit: AP

From Discovery News:

The H1N1 swine flu is a vicious flu strain that's on the rise across the globe. Discovery News tracks its progress from a minor outbreak in Mexico to a full-blown, world-wide pandemic in this Wide Angle.

As the World Health Organization officially declares the H1N1 swine flu has reached Level 6 -- pandemic status -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases of swine flu in the United States. The CDC is preparing local and state clinics to treat the virus, and some cities have issued face masks and personal contact guidelines to combat the spread of germs. Discovery News looks at how the swine flu outbreak became the next pandemic, how microbes behave and more.

Read more ....

DNA Fingerprinting 25 Years Old

From BBC:

The scientist behind DNA fingerprinting has called for a change to the law governing DNA databases on the 25th anniversary of his discovery.

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys uncovered the process by chance in his laboratory at Leicester University.

The technique has since been used to solve crimes and identity cases.

But it has also led to controversy over profiles kept on the national DNA database. "Innocent people do not belong on that database," he said.

Read more ....

E-book Readers Still Owned By Small Niche

From CNET:

The tech industry buzzes a lot about e-book readers. But how widely are they actually used?

Among 1,529 consumers who responded to a July 2009 questionnaire from research firm In-Stat, only 5.8 percent currently own an e-book reader. And only 11 percent of those questioned said they planned to buy one in the next 12 months, according to the In-Stat report released this week.

Those low results may be even more significant given that In-Stat's survey audience consisted of high-end consumers who typically adopt new technology earlier than the general public.

Read more

NASA & Its Discontents: Frustrated Engineers Battle With NASA Over The Future Of Spaceflight

From Popular Mechanics:

A group of renegade space vehicle designers, including NASA engineers bucking their bosses, are publicly crying out against the current Shuttle retirement plan. Their proposed plan, called Jupiter Direct, is an affront to NASA's current plans for the Ares I rocket, which they say is more costly and time-consuming than it needs to be. This is their story.

Read more

Take An Orbital Vacation On A Surplus Soviet Military Spacecraft

Almaz Spacecraft: Turning guns into space tourism, courtesy of a retrofitted Soviet-era military spacecraft. Excalibur Almaz

From Popular Science:

Space tourists with deep pockets and dreams of recapturing Cold War nostalgia need look no further than Excalibur Almaz. The new company is asking $35 million for a weeklong stay aboard a Soviet-era military spacecraft.

Excalibur's purchase of the Russian military-surplus "Almaz" reentry capsules turned heads in August. But the latest announcement firmly sets Excalibur up as a competitor with Space Adventures, the only private outfit that currently offers rides into orbit aboard the three-man Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Read more

Surprise In Earth's Upper Atmosphere: Mode Of Energy Transfer From The Solar Wind

In addition to emitting electromagnetic radiation, the sun emits a stream of ionized particles called the solar wind that affects Earth and other planets in the solar system. (Credit: SOHO image composite by Steele Hill (NASA))

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 11, 2009) — UCLA atmospheric scientists have discovered a previously unknown basic mode of energy transfer from the solar wind to the Earth's magnetosphere. The research, federally funded by the National Science Foundation, could improve the safety and reliability of spacecraft that operate in the upper atmosphere.

Read more ....

New Glass Resists Small Explosions

From Live Science:

Scientists have created a new type of blast-resistant glass that is thinner, lighter and less vulnerable to small-scale explosions than existing glass.

In tests, the improved glass design has been shown to withstand a hand grenade-strength bomb explosion originating close to the window panel. The blast caused the glass panel to crack, but didn’t puncture the composite layer.

Read more ....

Brain Cells Slicker Than We Thought

From New Scientist:

Rat brain cells waste little energy when talking to one another. That finding might not sound unusual, but it challenges the long-standing view that brain cells are extremely inefficient at sending signals.

In 1939, Alan Hodgkin of the University of Cambridge and Andrew Huxley of University College London experimented on nerve cells from the giant squid. They concluded that the energy of electrical signals sent along axons – the cells' "cables", each 1 millimetre in diameter in the giant squid – was four times the theoretical minimum.

Read more ....

Where Did All the Flowers Come From?

RARE PLANT Amborella trichopoda, a small shrub found only on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, represents the oldest living lineage of flowering plants. Sangtae Kim/University of Florida

From The New York Times:

Throughout his life, Charles Darwin surrounded himself with flowers. When he was 10, he wrote down each time a peony bloomed in his father’s garden. When he bought a house to raise his own family, he turned the grounds into a botanical field station where he experimented on flowers until his death. But despite his intimate familiarity with flowers, Darwin once wrote that their evolution was “an abominable mystery.”

Read more ....

Stone Man Joins Carved Animals In Neolithic Farmyard

Stone figurine of a reclining man found at Çatalhöyük in Turkey. Photograph: Jason Quinlan/Çatalhöyük Research Project

From The Guardian:

The figurine was dug up at the ancient site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey, which is thought to have been home for some of the world's first farmers.

A reclining man with a bushy beard and big nose is the latest to join a haul of stone figurines unearthed at the ancient site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. The sculpture, which measures around six inches high, was uncovered at the neolithic site last week.

Read more ....

Twitter Paves Way For Advertising By Changing Terms Of Use

From Times Online:

Social networking site could start making money after amending terms of use so advertising can reach its users.

Twitter, the popular micro-blogging website, took another step towards making money yesterday by amending its terms of use to allow advertisers to reach its 45 million regular visitors.

The company, founded two years ago, has exploded in popularity but has held back from introducing ways to monetise its internet traffic. Its founders have said they wanted to concentrate on growth and not alienate account holders.

Read more ....

Wolves Aren’t Making It Easy for Idaho Hunters

Marv Hagedorn, an Idaho state representative and hunter, hunting for wolves in the Boise Mountains with his son, John, ahead. Paul Hosefros for The New York Times

From The New York Times:

BOISE NATIONAL FOREST, Idaho — Hunting and killing are not the same thing. Even as Idaho has sold more than 14,000 wolf-hunting permits, the first 10 days of the first legal wolf hunt here in decades have yielded only three reported legal kills.

Such modest early results might seem surprising in a state that has tried for years to persuade the federal government to let it reduce the wolf population through hunting.

Idahoans, among the nation’s most passionate hunters, are learning that the wolf’s small numbers — about 850 were counted in the state at the end of last year — make it at once more vulnerable and more elusive.

Read more ....

Frankfurt Motor Show: Mercedes SLS AMG Is The New 'Gullwing'

From The Telegraph:

A dashing new interpretation of Mercedes-Benz's fabled "Gullwing" model, called the SLS AMG, will be one of the stars of the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Gone are the familiar rounded nose, circular headlights and triangular rear quarter-lights of the 1950s model.

In their place, the German firm will unveil a chiselled, aerodynamic new model with vertically slanted headlights, a steeply-raked windscreen and taut, muscular, ground-hugging lines.

Read more ....

Discovery Glides To Smooth California Landing

The shuttle Discovery banks to line up on runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles. (Credit: NASA TV)

From CNET:

Detoured by bad weather in Florida, the shuttle Discovery dropped out of orbit and swooped to a flawless California landing Friday to close out a successful space station resupply mission.

Shuttle commander Frederick "C.J." Sturckow and pilot Kevin Ford fired the shuttle's twin braking rockets at 4:47 p.m. PDT to drop the ship out of orbit for an hour-long descent to Edwards Air Force Base.

Read more ....

Friday, September 11, 2009

You Can Believe Your Eyes: New Insights Into Memory Without Conscious Awareness

New findings may shed light on the role of the hippocampus in memory and awareness, as they suggest that even when people fail to recollect a past event, the hippocampus might still support an expression of memory through eye movements. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2009) — Scientists may have discovered a way to glean information about stored memories by tracking patterns of eye movements, even when an individual is unable (or perhaps even unwilling) to report what they remember. The research, published by Cell Press in the September 10th issue of the journal Neuron, provides compelling insight into the relationship between activity in the hippocampus, eye movements, and both conscious and unconscious memory.

Read more ....

7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You

From Live Science:

Our personalities do more for us than determine our social circles. Temperament can impact a person's physical health.

"The idea that behavior or personality traits can influence health is one that's been around for a long time. We're just now getting a handle on to what extent they do," said Stephen Boyle of Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.

Read more ....

NASA's Plans Lack The Cash

Photo: Fly me to the moon? Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Credit: NASA

From Technology News:

On Tuesday, after months of deliberation, the independent committee charged with reviewing the future of the U.S. human space program released a summary report of its findings, a document that will guide key decisions that lie ahead for the Obama administration.

According to the report, the current crisis facing NASA lies with its budget, and not with technical or programmatic issues. "The report clearly stated that the current program is not executable or sustainable with the budget that we have," says Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, in DC.

Read more ....

Our Stone Age Ancestors Wore Bright And Garish Clothes

Our stone age ancestors may have worn brightly coloured threads rather than drab skins as portrayed in films like One Million Years BC

From The Daily Mail:

They are normally pictured wearing drab furs and skins. But an astonishing new discovery suggests that our Stone Age ancestors had a taste for garish, colourful clothes.

Archaeologists have uncovered an extraordinary haul of pink, turquoise and black fibres that were used to make thread more than 34,000 years ago.

The flax fibres, which were buried in a cave in the hills of the Republic of Georgia, were discovered by an international team of fossil hunters.

Read more ....

The iPod Is Dead

From Slate:

One sign that Steve Jobs is back to his old self: He's already sniping at rivals. After Apple's iPod launch event on Wednesday, the New York Times' David Pogue asked the CEO whether he has doubts—as he's expressed in the past—about the market for e-readers, especially Amazon's Kindle. Jobs said he was still skeptical. Amazon, he pointed out, has never released sales numbers for the Kindle, and "usually, if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody." More importantly, Jobs doesn't think people want to buy a device just to read books. "I'm sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing," Jobs said. "But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day."

Read more ....

Memories Exist Even When Forgotten, Study Suggests

Jeff Johnson of the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory and colleagues discovered that a person's brain activity while remembering an event is very similar to when it was first experienced, even if specifics can't be recalled. Johnson says brain imaging shines a "searchlight" into the brain. (Credit: Daniel A. Anderson / University Communications)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2009) — A woman looks familiar, but you can't remember her name or where you met her. New research by UC Irvine neuroscientists suggests the memory exists – you simply can't retrieve it.

Using advanced brain imaging techniques, the scientists discovered that a person's brain activity while remembering an event is very similar to when it was first experienced, even if specifics can't be recalled.

Read more ....

Computer Could Call Football Plays

New York Jets place kicker Jay Feely (3) kicks an overtime, game-winning field goal against the New England Patriots in their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts November 13, 2008. Brian Snyder / Reuters

From Live Science:

WASHINGTON (ISNS) -- Football coaches are famous for their dedication to winning. Video studies of upcoming opponents begin so early in the morning that most people are still dreaming about their first cup of coffee; strategy sessions run past the time insomniacs fall asleep.

But a new computer model may be able to take the play calling load off of the coach and, through fast, real-time analysis of all the offensive and defensive possibilities, dictate the best play to call in any game situation. The program takes the human element out of play calling and instead uses mathematical and statistical techniques.

Read more ....

Diamonds Are For Softies – Boron Is Harder

Diamonds are famously the hardest natural substance, but they may be about to lose their crown (Image: Salexmccoy, Wikimedia Commons)

From New Scientist:

You don't often break a diamond. So when in 2003 Dave Mao cracked a tooth of his diamond anvil, he knew something extraordinary must have happened. Together with his daughter Wendy and other colleagues at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, he was using the device to test materials at pressures many millions of times higher than those at the Earth's surface - higher even than in our planet's core - by squeezing them between two tiny diamond jaws.

Read more ....

The Working Person's Diet: Too Busy to Eat Right

From Time Magazine:

If you've ever gotten so busy at work that you skipped lunch and ended up staring at your hungry reflection in the vending-machine glass in the late afternoon, then you're familiar with this gastro-economic catch-22: losing your job may mean cutting back on food bills, but gainful employment could result in poor eating habits overall.

That's the conclusion of a new nutritional study by researchers at Cornell University. They conducted a survey of 25 working mothers and 25 working fathers in low-to-moderate-income communities and found that more than half of the participants routinely resorted to unhealthy eating options because of their work circumstances.

Read more ....

Why Washing May Hamper Your Attractiveness

Chris Rout/Alamy

From The Independent:

A natural chemical found in the sweat of men has been shown to act as a primitive love potion that increases their attractiveness in the eyes of women, a study has found.

The substance, which is derived from the male sex hormone testosterone, has a small but significant effect on judgements made by women in a speed-dating situation of a male stranger's attractiveness.

Tamsin Saxton of the University of St Andrews studied the influence of androstadienone by dabbling a drop of it on the upper lip of 50 women who took part in the evening trial before they "dated" a series of men.

Read more ....

Do Mention The War, Say Scientists

Members of the Post Office Home Guard receiving lessons on how to load the spigot mortar at a summer training camp in Hertfordshire. Photo: Getty Images

From The Telegraph:

Encouraging old people to talk about the war is good for their health, claim scientists.

Researchers have found that when the elderly sat around in groups discussing old times it improved their memory and limited the effects of dementia.

Reminiscence therapy, as it is technically known, could increase the cognitive recall and agility of the mind by up to 12 per cent in as little as six weeks, it was found.

Read more ....

My Comment: There is some truth to this (in some cases) .... but in some cases this is probably not. My father never liked to talk about his war experience, and the only time he opened up was when he was drunk with men who had also served on the Russian front.

Otherwise .... this was a no man's land for everyone else.

Simpler, Fresher Facebook Lite Puts Twitter In The Shade

The login page of Facebook Lite - the service is aimed
at users in countries with limited bandwidth

From The Daily Mail:

Facebook is currently testing a simplified version of its social network service aimed at countries where internet bandwidth is limited. But it may prove popular with other users tired of the currently over-fussy website.

The new system, named Facebook Lite, focuses on messaging and user updates and now looks far more similar to rival micro-blogging service Twitter.

It is available to a handful of users in the UK by going to However, at present a preview of the service is only widely available in India and the US.

Read more ....

Shuttle Landing Delayed For A Day

From The BBC:

The landing of the shuttle Discovery at the Kennedy Space Center has been delayed for at least a day due to bad weather in Florida.

Thunderstorms and strong winds meant that the US space agency Nasa skipped both Thursday landing possibilities.

The shuttle, which is returning from a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), will have to orbit the earth for a 14th day.

The new landing slot is at 1754 (2154 GMT) on Friday.

However the weather forecast for Friday is worse, and Saturday is only a little better.

Nasa says if necessary it will consider the possibility of using a runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Read more ....

Women Are Getting More Beautiful

From Times Online:

FOR the female half of the population, it may bring a satisfied smile. Scientists have found that evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful, while men remain as aesthetically unappealing as their caveman ancestors.

The researchers have found beautiful women have more children than their plainer counterparts and that a higher proportion of those children are female. Those daughters, once adult, also tend to be attractive and so repeat the pattern.

Read more ....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Electrical Circuit Runs Entirely Off Power In Trees

Electrical engineers Babak Parviz and Brian Otis and undergraduate student Carlton Himes (right to left) demonstrate a circuit that runs entirely off tree power. (Credit: University of Washington)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2009) — You've heard about flower power. What about tree power? It turns out that it's there, in small but measurable quantities. There's enough power in trees for University of Washington researchers to run an electronic circuit, according to results to be published in an upcoming issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Transactions on Nanotechnology.

"As far as we know this is the first peer-reviewed paper of someone powering something entirely by sticking electrodes into a tree," said co-author Babak Parviz, a UW associate professor of electrical engineering.

Read more ....

Arctic May Be Changed Forever, Study Finds

An adult female caribou and her newborn calf in Greenland during 2008-2009. Caribou numbers have been declining as a result of climate change. Credit: Eric Post, Penn State University

From Live Science:

The dramatic changes sweeping the Arctic as a result of global warming aren't just confined to melting sea ice and polar bears — a new study finds that the forces of climate change are propagating throughout the frigid north, producing different effects in each ecosystem with the upshot that the face of the Arctic may be forever altered.

"The Arctic as we know it may be a thing of the past," said Eric Post of Penn State, who led an international team that brought together research on the effects of climate change from ecosystems across the Arctic.

Read more ....

Is Warfare in Our Genes? Apparently Not

Can humans ever live in eternal peace? (Image: Rex Features)

Winning The Ultimate Battle: How Humans Could End War -- The Scientist

OPTIMISTS called the first world war "the war to end all wars". Philosopher George Santayana demurred. In its aftermath he declared: "Only the dead have seen the end of war". History has proved him right, of course. What's more, today virtually nobody believes that humankind will ever transcend the violence and bloodshed of warfare. I know this because for years I have conducted numerous surveys asking people if they think war is inevitable. Whether male or female, liberal or conservative, old or young, most people believe it is. For example, when I asked students at my university "Will humans ever stop fighting wars?" more than 90 per cent answered "No". Many justified their assertion by adding that war is "part of human nature" or "in our genes". But is it really?

Read more ....

My Comment: A fascinating read. Somehow I missed this story. Read the whole thing.

Solar Superstorm

An ultraviolet-wavelength picture of the sun taken by the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on Oct. 23, 2003.

From NASA:

October 23, 2003: Newly uncovered scientific data of recorded history's most massive space storm is helping a NASA scientist investigate its intensity and the probability that what occurred on Earth and in the heavens almost a century-and-a-half ago could happen again.

In scientific circles where solar flares, magnetic storms and other unique solar events are discussed, the occurrences of September 1-2, 1859, are the star stuff of legend. Even 144 years ago, many of Earth's inhabitants realized something momentous had just occurred. Within hours, telegraph wires in both the United States and Europe spontaneously shorted out, causing numerous fires, while the Northern Lights, solar-induced phenomena more closely associated with regions near Earth's North Pole, were documented as far south as Rome, Havana and Hawaii, with similar effects at the South Pole.

Read more ....

The Age Of Enhancement

From Prospect:

A cornucopia of drugs will soon be on sale to improve everything from our memories to our trust in others.

On 6th December 2004 a baby girl named Yan was born. Her father, an internet entrepreneur, is called Shen Tong. Yan was Shen’s first child, and you might have expected him to have an excitable, sleepless night. But oddly the opposite occurred. He slept better than he had done for 15 years, six months and two days. It’s possible to be exact about the timing because 15 years, six months and two days earlier was 4th June 1989 and on that day Shen had been on a boulevard just off Tiananmen Square in Beijing. He was a 20-year-old student, and like thousands of others he was demonstrating in favour of political reform.

Read more ....

New Robot Travels Across The Seafloor To Monitor The Impact Of Climate Change On Deep-sea Ecosystems

During July 2009, the Benthic Rover traveled across the seafloor while hooked up to the MARS ocean observatory. This allowed researchers to control the vehicle in "real time." The yellow cable on the right side of the image is a long "extension cord" that unspools as the Rover moves. (Credit: Copyright 2009 MBARI)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2009) — Like the robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which wheeled tirelessly across the dusty surface of Mars, a new robot spent most of July traveling across the muddy ocean bottom, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the California coast. This robot, the Benthic Rover, has been providing scientists with an entirely new view of life on the deep seafloor. It will also give scientists a way to document the effects of climate change on the deep sea. The Rover is the result of four years of hard work by a team of engineers and scientists led by MBARI project engineer Alana Sherman and marine biologist Ken Smith.

Read more

Memory Scientists Say: All Is Not Forgotten

fMRI Brain Activity Jan Hardenbergh

From Popular Science:

Unless you are this woman, you probably have a long mental list of moments and facts you wish you could remember -- but for the life of you, you can't. To use a personal example, I periodically Google the words "yellow house Berlin," hoping to produce the name of that one hostel I lived in for a summer in college; alas, no success yet. The good news, though, is that while such memories may be currently inaccessible, they're not entirely gone, and could theoretically be retrieved, according to new brain imaging research from the University of California, Irvine.

Read more ....

No Sex Tonight Honey, I Haven't Taken My Statins

High cholesterol levels could prevent women from becoming sexually aroused
(Image: F1 Online / Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

High cholesterol isn't just bad for the heart – it could also make it harder for women to become sexually aroused. That might mean that cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins would help to treat so-called female sexual dysfunction (FSD).

Hyperlipidemia, or raised levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood, is associated with erectile dysfunction in men, because the build-up of fats in blood vessel walls can reduce blood flow to erectile tissue. Since some aspects of female sexual arousal also rely on increased blood flow to the genitals, Katherine Esposito and her colleagues at the Second University of Naples in Italy compared sexual function in premenopausal women with and without hyperlipidemia.

Read more ....

When two husbands are better than one

Women laborers work in an onion field at Rambha village of Karnal district in the northern Indian state of Haryana on April 30, 2009. A shortage of females in this area has led to more people participating in polyandry, or the phenomenon of a woman taking more than one husband. (Vijay Mathur/Reuters)

From Global Post:

Polyandry in the Himalayas is a complex affair. Not surprisingly.

SPITI VALLEY, HIMACHAL PRADESH, India — An array of stars twinkled over Himalayan peaks towering nearly three miles high, while below in the chilly darkness a husband and wife relaxed after their 120-mile pilgrimage. Leaning back in chairs in front of a guest house, warm in their woolen clothing, they appeared indistinguishable from the hundreds of others who had come to hear the teachings of a Buddhist leader.

What set them apart was the person they had left behind: the woman's other husband.

Read more ....

4 Forgotten Facts About Combat UAVs

MQ-9 Reaper

From Popular Mechanics:

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.—The U.S. Air Force squadrons that form the 432d Air Expeditionary Wing here are the first that exist only to fly unmanned aerial vehicles. The base, which currently hosts training and operations for MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers, is trailblazing modern military aviation. It's a perfect place for practitioners who fly UAVs every day to set the record straight on some common misconceptions about UAVs.

Read more ....

My Comment: No real surprises .... but for those who are still new to what UAVs are capable of, this is a good read.

Ancient Oceans Offer New Insight Into Origins Of Animal Life

In prehistoric times, Earth experienced two periods of large increases and fluctuations in the oxygen level of the atmosphere and oceans. These fluctuations also led to an explosion of multicellular organisms in the oceans, which are the predecessors for life as we know it today. (Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Meckelmann)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Sep. 10, 2009) — Analysis of a rock type found only in the world's oldest oceans has shed new light on how large animals first got a foothold on Earth.

A scientific team led by Professor Robert Frei at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and including scientists from Newcastle University, UK, and universities in Uruguay and Southern Denmark, have for the first time managed to plot the rise and fall of oxygen levels in the Earth's atmosphere over the last 3.8 billion years.

Read more ....

To Hot Rocks in Earth, Just Add Water

Steam rises from cooling towers as U.S. Geothermal's Raft River geothermal power plant near Malta, Idaho. Researchers from the University of Utah's Energy and Geoscience Institute will inject cool water and pressurized water into a "dry" geothermal well at the site during a $10.2 million study aimed at making existing power plants more productive and making geothermal power feasible nationwide. Credit: U.S. Geothermal, Inc.

From Live Science:

Researchers will inject cool water and pressurized water into a “dry” geothermal well during a five-year, $10.2 million study aimed at boosting the productivity of geothermal power plants and making them feasible nationwide.

“Using these techniques to increase pathways in the rock for hot water and steam would increase availability of geothermal energy across the country,” says geologist Ray Levey, director of the Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI) at the University of Utah.

Read more ....

The Red Meat Footprint

Credit: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

Our diets revolve around meat. But rumours abound that being vegetarian is better for the environment. Could there be some truth to it? We investigate the evidence.

Death row inmates put a lot of thought into their final meal choice. After all, it's the last food they will eat on this Earth. And their choice is telling for overwhelmingly, in the United States at least, they want meat.

Pork chops, filet mignon, steak, hamburger, meatloaf, fried chicken, sausages… with not a lentil, slice of haloumi or vegetarian lasagne in sight. Prisoners on death row might not be the most representative of groups, but their choices give an inkling of the central role meat plays in our diet.

Read more ....

Where Does Sex Live In The Brain? From Top To Bottom.

Image: iStockphoto

From Discover Magazine:

Neuroscientists explore the mind's sexual side and discover that desire is not quite what we thought it was.

On April 11, 1944, a doctor named T. C. Erickson addressed the Chicago Neurological Society about a patient he called Mrs. C. W. At age 43 she had started to wake up many nights feeling as if she were having sex—or as she put it to Erickson, feeling “hot all over.” As the years passed her hot spells struck more often, even in the daytime, and began to be followed by seizures that left her unable to speak. Erickson examined Mrs. C. W. when she was 54 and diagnosed her with nymphomania. He prescribed a treatment that was shockingly common at the time: He blasted her ovaries with X-rays.

Read more

Last Days of Big American Physics: One More Triumph, Or Just Another Heartbreak?

From The Wire Science:

BATAVIA, Illinois — High-energy particle physicists around the world are collectively holding their breath waiting for the Large Hadron Collider to come online and start unlocking the most elusive secrets of the universe. It’s as if time is standing still until their shiny new toy is ready to play with.

But not at Fermilab. Here, physicists are in the scientific equivalent of an all-out sprint, still clinging to the ever-thinning hope that before the LHC ramps up to full power, their own 28-year old particle collider, the Tevatron, will catch the coveted Higgs boson, a theoretical particle that is at the heart of the Standard Model of physics.

Read more ....

Space Junk Forces Shuttle Discovery To Dodge On Way Home

Earth is seen behind Space Shuttle Discovery in this image photographed by an Expedition 20 crew member on the International Space Station soon after the shuttle and station began their post-undocking relative separation in this NASA handout photo taken September 8, 2009. The STS-128 and Expedition 20 crew concluded nine days of cooperative work onboard the shuttle and station before undocking the two spacecraft. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

From Yahoo News/

The space shuttle Discovery will have to dodge a mysterious piece of orbital trash before trying to land in Florida Thursday.

Shuttle commander Rick Sturckow and pilot Kevin Ford will fire Discovery's thrusters at about 12:02 p.m. EDT (1605 GMT) to move their spacecraft clear of the space junk and continue on with their planned landing attempt today.

The "mystery orbital debris," as Mission Control called it, apparently came free from the shuttle or the International Space Station while both vehicles were linked during a spacewalk on Saturday. NASA engineers do not know what the object is or its size, but it has been creeping ever closer to Discovery since the shuttle fired its engines to leave the station's orbital neighborhood Tuesday.

Read more ....

Japan's Space Truck Ready To Fly

From The BBC:

Japan is ready to launch its new space freighter from the Tanegashima base in the south of the country.

The 16.5-tonne unmanned H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) will haul cargo to the International Space station (ISS).

Its success is vitally important to the station project, which is set to lose the servicing capability of the US shuttle fleet next year.

When the orbiters retire, re-supply will be in the hands of a number of robotic vessels - the HTV included.

The logistics demands of a fully crewed, fully functional ISS will require all of the freighters to play their part.

Lift-off for the HTV is timed for 0201 local time on Friday (1701 GMT, Thursday).

Read more ....