Saturday, October 31, 2009

Regeneration Can Be Achieved After Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - San Diego)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 31, 2009) — Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that regeneration of central nervous system axons can be achieved in rats even when treatment delayed is more than a year after the original spinal cord injury.

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Oldest Known Spider Webs Discovered

This light micrograph shows spider web threads coated with sticky droplets (left panel) and threads with helical twists (right panel) that were preserved inside amber for about 140 million years. Credit: Martin Brasier.

From Live Science:

Silken spider webs dating back some 140 million years have been discovered preserved in amber, scientists announce today.

The viscous tree sap flowed over the spider webs before hardening and preserving the contents, which were discovered in Sussex, England. Other bits sealed up in the amber included plant matter, insect droppings and ancient microbes.

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Earhart's Final Resting Place Believed Found

Amelia Earhart appears above in her flight gear in this undated photo. Legendary aviator Amelia Earhart mostly likely died on an tropical island in the southwestern Pacific. AP

From Discovery News:

Oct. 23, 2009 -- Legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart most likely died on an uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, according to researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).

Tall, slender, blonde and brave, Earhart disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937 in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator. Her final resting place has long been a mystery.

Read more ....

Researchers Ask How Best To Engineer The Planet

From CNET:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--A group of academics on Friday considered the ultimate engineering challenge: building machines to stabilize the earth's climate.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology convened a symposium here to discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of geoengineering, also called climate engineering. Everything from shooting light-blocking particles into the atmosphere to "artificial trees" is being seriously studied, despite trepidation among researchers and opposition from others.

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Ariane Puts Satellites In Orbit

Photo: The sixth Ariane flight of 2009

From The BBC:

Europe's Ariane 5 rocket has launched another two telecommunications satellites into orbit.

Ariane sent the payloads into space from its Kourou base in French Guiana.

The 5,700-kg NSS-12 satellite is owned by SES World Skies and will deliver TV broadcasts to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.

Read more ....

Fructose Causes High Blood Pressure?

From Future Pundit:

Beware a diet high in fructose.

A diet high in fructose increases the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, California. The findings suggest that cutting back on processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may help prevent hypertension.

Read more ....

A Molecule of Motivation, Dopamine Excels at Its Task

Serge Bloch

From The New York Times:

If you’ve ever had a problem with rodents and woken up to find that mice had chewed their way through the Cheerios, the Famous Amos, three packages of Ramen noodles, and even that carton of baker’s yeast you had bought in a fit of “Ladies of the Canyon” wistfulness, you will appreciate just how freakish is the strain of laboratory mouse that lacks all motivation to eat.

Read more ....

Rocket Men

Aly Song / Reuters-Landov

From Newsweek:

Politicians won't get us back into the space race, but novelists just might.

Six months ago, President Obama asked a team of academics, astronauts, and aerospace executives to give him options for the future of the space program. Those options, as described in the Augustine Committee's just-released final report, must have sent a little thrill up our Spock-loving nerd in chief's leg: setting up a lunar base, flying to a Martian moon, etc. There's just one catch: NASA doesn't have the resources it needs to pursue these plans. Exciting proposals for voyages to alien moons aside, the report's attention to dollars and cents makes it a cosmic buzzkill.

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Physicist Makes New High-resolution Panorama Of Milky Way

Full sky panorama of the Milky Way.

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 29, 2009) — Cobbling together 3000 individual photographs, a physicist has made a new high-resolution panoramic image of the full night sky, with the Milky Way galaxy as its centerpiece. Axel Mellinger, a professor at Central Michigan University, describes the process of making the panorama in the November issue of Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

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Top 10 Things that Make Humans Special

From Live Science:

Humans are unusual animals by any stretch of the imagination, ones that have changed the face of the world around us. What makes us so special when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom? Some things we take completely for granted might surprise you.

- Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

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Prairie Pioneer Seeks To Reinvent The Way We Farm

Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute, at his farm in Salina, Kan. Richard Harris

From NPR:

We tend to think Earth can provide us with an endless bounty of food. But farming practices in most parts of the world can't work forever. Soil is constantly washing away, and what's left is gradually losing the nutrients it needs to sustain our crops.

In the prairies of Kansas lives Wes Jackson, a man who has spent his long and rich career trying to invent a new kind of agriculture — one that will last indefinitely.

Read more ....

Best View Yet Of Apollo Landing Site

The new LRO image. Click it to enlarge

From Scientific American:

A NASA spaceprobe has sent back the clearest photo yet of an Apollo landing site - including even the US flag. It clearly shows the descent stage of Apollo 17's lunar module Challenger, nearly 37 years after it touched down in December 1972 in the Taurus Littrow valley. The new LRO image. Click it to enlarge For the first time even its legs are visible, thanks to the detail possible with the orbiting digital camera.

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ANIMAL ROBOTS: Marine Machines Made in Nature's Image

From National Geographic:

October 26, 2009--If it looks like a fish and swims like a fish, it could be a robot--such as the University of Bath's Gymnobot (pictured), inspired by an Amazonian knifefish.

Researchers worldwide are developing robots that look and act like aquatic creatures. That's because biomimetic gadgets--bots that take inspiration from nature--are often more efficient than their clunkier counterparts.

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America’s Electronic Waste Is Polluting the Globe

From Discover Magazine:

It seems that every day brings a new electronic gadget to the market, whether it’s a smart phone, an electronic reader, a laptop the size and weight of a magazine, or a television the size of a wall. But each advance adds to the world’s electronic waste, which is the fastest-growing component of solid waste. Much of the electronic refuse ends up in developing countries, where workers strip down the gadgets to get at the copper and other valuable metals inside, often exposing themselves to toxins in the process. Now, scientists are calling for federal regulations in the United States to stem the tide.

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Innovation: Ultimate Jukebox Is Next Step In Net Music

Find what you want and listen to it (Image: Gary Burchell/Getty)

From New Scientist:

Something exciting has just happened to online music, and it has nothing to do with Google's new music service garnering all the headlines.

If you Google search for music related terms, like an artist's name, some results now come with links to audio previews for relevant tracks. It is easy to use, but the service taps into just a few of the online music streaming sites. Lala and iLike are included but others with large libraries like Spotify and are ignored. It also only works in the US. But more importantly, Google's service only helps people find music, and what they really want is to listen to it.

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9,000-Year-Old Brew Hitting The Shelves This Summer

From Scientific American:

This summer, how would you like to lean back in your lawn chair and toss back a brew made from what may be the world’s oldest recipe for beer? Called Chateau Jiahu, this blend of rice, honey and fruit was intoxicating Chinese villagers 9,000 years ago—long before grape wine had its start in Mesopotamia.

University of Pennsylvania molecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern first described the beverage in 2005 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences based on chemical traces from pottery in the Neolithic village of Jiahu in Northern China.

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New Unmanned Chopper Sniffs Out Improvised Explosives While Looking Adorable

Helipanda This little fella likes flying through rainbows and sniffing for bombs Scheibel

From Popular Science:

The Pentagon is testing an unmanned helicopter that can detect electromagnetic emissions from IEDs. Codename: HELIPANDA (we wish)

Roadside bombs have long represented the greatest killer of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's hope beyond the sturdy little demolition bots that already work with their human handlers. The Pentagon now has two aerial drones on the testing docket as possible countermeasures for improvised explosive devices (IEDs)--one of which we're calling 'Helipanda' for the remainder of this post.

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Chinese-Made Turbines To Fill U.S. Wind Farm

From The Wall Street Journal:

A Chinese wind-turbine company, with financing help from Beijing, has struck a deal to be the exclusive supplier to one of the largest wind-farm developments in the U.S., a sign of how Chinese firms are aggressively capitalizing on America's clean-energy push.

The 36,000-acre development in West Texas would receive $1.5 billion in financing through Export-Import Bank of China. Shenyang Power Group, a five-month-old alliance, would supply the project with 240 of its 2.5-megawatt wind turbines, among the biggest made in the world.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Real Estate Easier To Find In Google Maps

It's now easier to find unaffordable real estate in San Francisco's Mission District through Google Maps. (Credit: Google)

From CNET News:

Another day, another improvement to Google Maps that increases time spent on the site.

A few days after sending shock waves throughout the portable navigation industry, Google's back adding features to Google Maps that will once again draw the attention of the real-estate industry. Google Maps has been showing real estate listings since this summer, but the company added a few tweaks Thursday designed to make it easier to search for a new home with Google.

Read more ....

20 Things You Didn't Know About... Sugar

From Discover Magazine:

We eat it, we love it, and it may have been a chemical precursor to life on Earth.

1 The average American eats 61 pounds of refined sugar each year, including 25 pounds of candy. Halloween accounts for at least two pounds of that.

2 Trick: Sugar may give you wrinkles via a process called glycation, in which excess blood sugar binds to collagen in the skin, making it less elastic.

3 Or treat: Cutting back on sugar may help your skin retain its flexibility. So actually, no treats.

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Timeline: The Secret History Of Swine Flu

16 August 1957: a nurse at Montefiore Hospital gets the first
Asian flu vaccine shot in New York (Image: Associated Press)

From New Scientist:

Six months ago, swine flu emerged as a massive threat to global health. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but our timeline explains how the origins of the H1N1 pandemic go back more than a century

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Is The Nuclear Material At Los Alamos Safe From An Earthquake?

From Scientific American:

Los Alamos National Laboratory conducts much of the nation's nuclear security research, and a new study has found that the plutonium facility may not be equipped to safely ride out an earthquake.

The lab, situated about 56 kilometers outside of Santa Fe, N.M., has long been known to be on a fault line, and builders have installed substantial fire safety measures. But recent planning for a new structure revealed that the fault could move much more than previously assumed, revealing a crack in the lab's safety plans, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Ares I-X: An Illustrated History

Going Up: NASA/Sandra Joseph and Kevin O'Connell)

From Popular Science:

I'm not quite ready to stop thinking about NASA's Ares I-X rocket test earlier this week--and neither is's Big Picture blog, where a great collection of images today goes from the rocket's construction to its first launch.

We go from the shrink-wrapped delivery of its individual parts to its birth in the hangars Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Buidling, High Bay 4. From its engine tests in the Utah desert to its first real launch this past Wednesday, complete with a nice shot of its "shock egg" vapor plume.

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Being Boss Takes Its Toll On Health

People in higher positions are more likely to report conflicts with co-workers and say work intrudes on their home life (Source: iStockphoto)

From The ABC News (Australia):

Being the boss might mean more money and challenging work but it can also take a toll on physical and mental well-being, according to a Canadian study.

For years studies have shown people in lower-status jobs generally have higher rates of heart disease and other illnesses and die earlier than those in higher-status positions while job authority has shown no association with workers' health.

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ICANN Approves Non-Latin Domain Names

From CNET News:

The organization responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses has approved a new plan to allow non-Latin characters in Web extensions.

Known as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), the system is designed to globalize the Net so regions around the world can use their own local alphabet characters to surf in cyberspace, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, said Friday.

Calling IDNs the "biggest technical change" to the Internet since its birth 40 years ago, ICANN unanimously approved the plan on the final day of its six-day conference in Seoul.

Read more ....

How To Stop A Teapot Dribbling

Photo: No drips: At last, a way to take the mess out of making a cuppa

From The Telegraph:

Britain's tea lovers are raising a cup to scientists after they worked out how to stop a teapot dribbling.

A team of fluid dynamics experts have after exhaustive research concluded that the problem is a phenomenon known as the "hydro-capillary effect".

And the answer is to deploy a "superhydrophobic" material. In other words you could put butter down the spout.

They have deduced that at low pouring speeds tea starts to stick to the inside of the spout, causing the flow to momentarily stop and then start again – in other words to dribble.

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No Pain, No Gain: Mastering A Skill Makes Us Stressed In The Moment, Happy Long Term

No pain, no gain applies to happiness, too, according to new research. People who work hard at improving a skill or ability may experience stress in the moment, but experience greater happiness on a daily basis and longer term, the study suggests. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 30, 2009) — No pain, no gain applies to happiness, too, according to new research published online in the Journal of Happiness Studies. People who work hard at improving a skill or ability, such as mastering a math problem or learning to drive, may experience stress in the moment, but experience greater happiness on a daily basis and longer term, the study suggests.

Read more ....

New Dinosaur Built Like A Sherman Tank

A newfound species of armored dinosaur, now called Tatankacephalus cooneyorum, may have showed off skin colored with subdued colors, the researchers speculate. Credit: Bill Parsons.

From Live Science:

A husband and wife team of paleontologists has discovered a newfound species of armored dinosaur that lived 112 million years ago in what is now Montana.

The duo, Bill and Kris Parsons of the Buffalo Museum of Science in New York, spotted the dinosaur's skull on the surface of a hillside in Montana in 1997. Over the next few years, they retrieved more of the now nearly complete skull along with skin plates, rib fragments, a vertebra and a possible limb bone from the dinosaur species.

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Testing Cheap Wind Power

Photo: Black box: This eight-kilowatt wind turbine uses a continuously variable transmission--the small, silver-colored unit on the left below the rotor--to regulate its power. The turbine’s developer, Cedar Park, TX-based Viryd Technologies, claims that its use of mechanical instead of digital power regulation will cut manufacturing costs by 20 percent and boost power output. Credit: Viryd Technologies

From Technology Review:

A continuously variable transmission could lead to cheaper wind power--if it is rugged enough.

Federal stimulus funds awarded to a wind-energy research consortium led by Illinois Institute of Technology will accelerate testing of small wind turbines that could point the way towards more efficient utility-scale machines. The eight-kilowatt turbines, the product of Cedar Park, TX-based Viryd Technologies, use a mechanical approach--continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology--to convert fluctuating wind speeds into the precise stream of alternating current required by power grids. If it can replace the pricey power electronics that regulate power in most turbines today, the same technology could cut the cost of wind-power generation at any scale.

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Trick or Tweet? Malware Abundant in Twitter URLs

From Threat Level/Wired:

As many as one in every 500 web addresses posted on Twitter lead to sites hosting malware, according to researchers at Kaspersky Labs who have deployed a tool that examines URLs circulating in tweets.

The spread of malware is aided by the popular use of shortened URLs on Twitter, which generally hide the real website address from users before they click on a link, preventing them from self-filtering links that appear to be dodgy.

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Russians To Ride A Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft To Mars

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, center, visits a space communications facility Wednesday in Medvezhye Ozera with Minister of Telecommunications Igor Shchyogolev at left. Medvedev urged his government to find resources for building a prospective nuclear-powered spaceship. (Vladimir Rodionov, RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service/AP)

From Christian Science Monitor:

President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will spend $600 million on a nuclear-powered spacecraft to take men to Mars, and beyond. Is it safe?

MOSCOW – A nuclear-powered spaceship that can carry passengers to Mars and beyond may sound like science fiction.

But Russian engineers say they have a breakthrough design for such a craft, which could leapfrog them way ahead in the international race to build a manned spacecraft that can cover vast interplanetary distances.

They claim they’ll be ready to build one as early as 2012.

Read more ....

Internet Turns 40 Today: First Message Crashed System

Forty years after the first network message of "lo" crossed California (pictured, a mainframe computer later used to send the first person-to-person network email in 1971), the Internet has transformed how people live, experts said in October 2009. Photograph courtesy Dan Murphy via BBN Technologies, Inc.

From The National Geographic:

Everyone surfing for last-minute Halloween costumes and pictures of black Lolcats today—what you might call the 40th anniversary of the Internet—can give thanks to the simple network message that started it all: "lo."

On October 29, 1969, that message became the first ever to travel between two computers connected via the ARPANET, the computer network that would become the Internet.

Read more

Hubble Captures Sparkling ‘Jewel Box’ Star Cluster

From Wired Science:

This stunning image of the Kappis Crucis Cluster, nicknamed the “Jewel Box,” was one of the last gifts from a retiring camera on the Hubble Space Telescope.

Just before NASA brought the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 back to Earth in mid-2009, it snapped this photo of the core of the NGC 4755 star cluster, the first comprehensive image of an open galactic cluster taken in multiple wavelengths. Using seven different filters, Hubble captured the Jewel Box cluster in far ultraviolet to near-infrared light. The different colors of the stars — from pale blue to bright ruby red — result from their differing intensities at various ultraviolet wavelengths.

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5 Frightening (But True) Space Stories

The First Seven Astronauts

From Discover Magazine:

There's nothing like a good horror story in space*. I grew up watching Sigourney Weaver outsmart xenomorphs in her underwear and subsequently spent a little too much time reading the likes of Stephen King's "I am the Doorway," H.P. Lovecraft's "In the Walls of Eryx" and John Steakley's "Armor."

As a result, it's hard for me to read about space exploration without thinking of about its darker possibilities -- and I don't just mean aliens and distant Hell worlds. Leaving Earth's atmosphere is a dangerous endeavor and, major tragedies aside, there have been a number of smaller terrifying, grotesque and absurd episodes to come out of it. So if you'll allow me to serve as your cosmic Crypt Keeper for a few minutes, I thought I'd run though a few of the ones that get under my skin.

Read more ....

Beginner’s Guide To Skype

(Rich Clabaugh/Staff)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

For some 500 million users, Skype turns their PC into a phone.

International calls can get mighty pricey. Perhaps that’s why so many people use Skype, a free way to make calls – and even have video chats – all over the world from the comfort of their computer screens.

Skype isn’t new. It launched in 2003 and now boasts 483 million registered accounts. But if you haven’t tried it yet, don’t fret. Here’s what you need to know.

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Robins Can See Earth's Magnetic Field

German scientists studied 36 European robins and concluded that the birds can 'see' the Earth's magnetic field, allowing them to navigate Photo: PA

From The Telegraph:

Robins can 'see' the Earth's magnetic field which allows them to navigate, scientists believe.

The information, relayed to a specialised light-processing region of the brain called ''cluster N'', helps the robin find its way on migration flights.

Experts know birds possess an internal magnetic compass, but there is disagreement about what form it takes.

Read more ....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blast From The Past: Most Distant Stellar Object Gives Clues About Early Universe

Gamma-ray bursts longer than two seconds are caused by the detonation of a massive star at the end of its life. Jets of particles and gamma radiation are emitted in opposite directions from the stellar core as the star collapses. This animation shows what a gamma-ray burst might look like up close. Credit: (Credit: NASA/Swift/Cruz deWilde)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 29, 2009) — Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope have gained tantalizing insights into the nature of the most distant object ever observed in the Universe -- a gigantic stellar explosion known as a Gamma Ray Burst (GRB).

The explosion was detected on April 23 by NASA's Swift satellite, and scientists soon realized that it was more than 13 billion light-years from Earth. It represents an event that occurred 630 million years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was only four percent of its current age of 13.7 billion years.

Read more ....

Why We Carve Pumpkins, Not Turnips

The United States' major pumpkin states produce over one billion pounds worth of pumpkins annually.

From Live Science:

Big orange veggies are pretty strange as far as holiday symbols go, but there are actual historical reasons that we carve pumpkins every Halloween.

Like Halloween itself, the display and carving of pumpkins – from the lanterns placed inside to the scary faces we pick – has pagan origins that morphed with the passage of time as well as the crossing of an ocean.

The modern traditions of Halloween have roots in a Celtic holiday called Samhain, which was celebrated throughout Western Europe (but especially Ireland) every Oct. 31 to mark the end of the summer and the final harvest.

Read more ....

Sat Nav Companies Tremble As Google Maps Navigation Launches FREE Turn-By-Turn App For Mobile Phones

From The Daily Mail:

Google has unveiled a free navigation system for mobile phones, which could spell the end of consumers paying for costly navigation devices from firms such as TomTom.

The Motorola Droid will be the first phone equipped with Google Maps Navigation, which will include many of the features of traditional GPS devices such as three-dimensional views and turn-by-turn voice guidance.

The internet-connected system allows navigation using voice search in English, provides live traffic data, satellite imagery from Google Maps and Google's 'street view' - real pictures of destinations.

Read more ....

Tuna Ban 'Justified' By Science

The bluefin is highly prized for many dishes, notably sushi

From The BBC:

Banning trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna is justified by the extent of their decline, an analysis by scientists advising fisheries regulators suggests.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas' (ICCAT) advisers said stocks are probably less than 15% of their original size.

The analysis has delighted conservation groups, which have warned that over-fishing risks the species' survival.

ICCAT meets to consider the report in 10 days' time.

Read more ....

Fibre Boosts Immune System, Study Finds

Fibre-rich foods may keep you regular and protect against bowel cancer, but they help boost the immune system too Australian research has found. Credit: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: An apple a day may keep the doctor away but a fibre-filled diet could also hold the key to keeping asthma, diabetes and arthritis at bay, according to Australian research released Thursday.

Scientists at Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research say that fibre not only helps keep people regular, it boosts the immune system so it can better combat inflammatory diseases.

Read more ....

‘Impossible’ Device Could Propel Flying Cars, Stealth Missiles

From the Danger Room:

The Emdrive is an electromagnetic drive that would generate thrust from a closed system — “impossible” say some experts.

To critics, it’s flat-out junk science, not even worth thinking about. But its inventor, Roger Shawyer, has doggedly continued his work. As Danger Room reported last year, Chinese scientists claimed to validate his math and were building their own version.

Read more ....

My Comment: If this is even remotely possible, warfare as we know it will completely change. Again .... it is a big if.

CDC: 5.7M Swine Flu Cases In First Few Months

From Time Magazine:

(ATLANTA) — As many as 5.7 million Americans were infected with swine flu during the first few months of the pandemic, according to estimates from federal health officials.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 1.8 million and 5.7 million Americans were infected from mid-April through July 23. The figures are the CDC's most specific calculation to date.

Read more ....

Pilots Distracted By Laptops? Not In Cockpits Of The Future.


From Christian Science Monitor:

Automated flight controls under research may be able to sense how alert pilots are. It’s one way science could help prevent mistakes like the one made by the Northwest pilots who overflew Minneapolis by 150 miles.

As two Northwest pilots ponder their futures – minus their pilot licenses – researchers are developing new approaches for keeping pilots on their toes on long flights.

It’s part of a larger effort to improve air safety over the next decade or two with the US Federal Aviation Administration’s “NextGen” air-traffic control system.

Read more ....

Nasa Peers Back Into The 'Cosmic Dark Ages'

An artist's impression of a gamma-ray burst.
NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

From The Independent:

A massive gamma-ray burst 13 billion light years away has thrown new light on the early years of the Universe.

The most distant object ever observed in space has provided scientists with an unprecedented insight into the "cosmic dark ages" following the birth of the Universe some 13.7 billion years ago.

A gigantic explosion on the edge of the known Universe has been confirmed as the furthermost object in the cosmos. It occurred nearly 700 million years after the Big Bang and its radiation has taken some 13 billion years to reach Earth – making it 13 billion light years away.

Read more ....

15 Most Explosive Videos On The Internet

From The Telegraph:

From science experiments to building demolitions to nuclear tests, there are few things in life more visually impressive than explosions. Here are 15 of the most dramatic.

1. Blowing an anvil 200ft into the air. This stunt has scant scientific or educational value, but deserves a prominent place on the list for the presenter's coltish enthusiasm for explosions.

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Lucrative Inventions Pit Scientists Against Universities

By Bertrand Langolia, AFP/Getty Images

From USA Today:

Science, that lofty realm of the mind, where thoughts of fortune and financial gain never intrude.

Or do they?

"Oh, you bet it does," says Renee Kaswan of IP Advocate, an Atlanta-based researchers' patent-rights organization. "And it's urgent that someone take the side of researchers in educating them about their rights to their inventions," Kaswan says.

Read more ....

Bad Driving May Have Genetic Basis, Study Finds

Bad drivers may in part have their genes to blame, suggests a new study
by UC Irvine neuroscientists. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Oct. 28, 2009) — Bad drivers may in part have their genes to blame, suggests a new study by UC Irvine neuroscientists.

People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it -- and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant.

"These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away," said Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

Read more ....

40 Years Ago: The Message that Conceived the Internet

From Live Science:

On Oct. 29, 1969, UCLA student Charles Kline sent the first message over the ARPANET, the computer network that later became known as the Internet. Though only the "l" and "o" of his message ("login") were successfully transmitted, the interactive exchange ushered in a technological revolution that has — as anyone alive long enough to witness the shift knows — revolutionized human interaction.

Read more ....

Stem Cell Study Leads To Breakthrough In Understanding Infertility

Understanding the details of how sperm and egg cells grow will help scientists develop treatments. Photograph: Corbis

From The Guardian:

Hidden stage of human development' is opened up by Stanford University scientists.

Scientists have turned human stem cells into early-stage sperm and eggs in research that promises to give doctors an unprecedented insight into the causes of infertility.

The work will allow researchers to study human reproductive cells from the moment they are created in embryos through to fully-mature sperm and eggs.

Understanding the details of how sperm and egg cells grow will help scientists develop treatments for people who are left infertile when the process goes wrong. The research may also lead to treatments that can correct growth defects before a child is born.

Read more ....

Russian Space Agency Plan To Build NUCLEAR Space Rocket

The Russian Space Agency is using 40-year-old booster rockets to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Now they plan to go nuclear

From The Daily Mail:

Russia's space agency is planning to build a new spaceship with a nuclear engine, its chief announced yesterday.

Anatoly Perminov told a government meeting that the preliminary design could be ready by 2012 and would take nine years and cost £363million to build.

'The implementation of this project will allow us to reach a new technological level surpassing foreign developments,' Mr Perminov told a meeting discussing space technologies.

Read more ....

Stellar Blast Is Record-Breaker

The redness of the afterglow is indicative of the event's distance

From The BBC:

Astronomers have confirmed that an exploding star spotted by Nasa's Swift satellite is the most distant cosmic object to be detected by telescopes.

In the journal Nature, two teams of astronomers report their observations of a gamma-ray burst from a star that died 13.1 billion light-years away.

The massive star died about 630 million years after the Big Bang.

UK astronomer Nial Tanvir described the observation as "a step back in cosmic time".

Professor Tanvir led an international team studying the afterglow of the explosion, using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii.

Read more ....

The Root of Thought: What Do Glial Cells Do?

Glial Cells

From Scientific American:

Nearly 90 percent of the brain is composed of glial cells, not neurons. Andrew Koob argues that these overlooked cells just might be the source of the imagination.

Andrew Koob received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Purdue University in 2005, and has held research positions at Dartmouth College, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Munich, Germany. He's also the author of The Root of Thought, which explores the purpose and function of glial cells, the most abundant cell type in the brain. Mind Matters editor Jonah Lehrer chats with Koob about why glia have been overlooked for centuries, and how new experiments with glial cells shed light on some of the most mysterious aspects of the mind.

Read more ....