Thursday, November 27, 2008

Has Universal Ageing Mechanism Been Found?

The ageing-related protein Sir1 was first found in yeast, and has now been found to serve a similar role in mice. This fluorescent micrograph shows yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), with some proteins tagged with Green Fluorescent Protein (Image: Spitfire ch, Philippsen Lab, Biozentrum Basel)

Form The New Scientist:

An overworked protein that causes yeast to age when it neglects one of its functions may trigger ageing in mice too. If the same effect is found in people, it may suggest new ways to halt or reverse age-related disease.

As we get older, genes can start to be expressed in the wrong body tissues - a process that is thought to contribute to diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's. But while sunlight or chemicals are known to cause limited DNA damage, how more widespread changes in gene expression come about has been unclear.

To investigate, David Sinclair and colleagues at Harvard Medical School turned to yeast cells. These produce a dual-function protein called Sir2 that, while being involved in DNA repair, also helps keep certain genes switched off.

As yeast cells age, the protein can't do both jobs and neglects its role as a gene suppressor.

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Atlantic Hurricane Season Blows Away Records

This September 2008 NASA GOES satellite image shows Hurricane Ike seen at 1225 GMT. The Atlantic hurricane season in 2008 is coming to a close after producing 16 storms, including eight hurricanes, and inflicting record damage in the United States, a report by university researchers said on Wednesday. (AFP/HO NASA/File/Ho)

From Yahoo News/AP:

WASHINGTON – The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Sunday, seemed to strike the United States and Cuba as if on redial, setting at least five weather records for persistence and repeatedly striking the same areas.

"It was pretty relentless in a large number of big strikes," said Georgia Tech atmospheric sciences professor Judith Curry. "We just didn't have the huge monster where a lot of people lost their lives, but we had a lot of damage, a lot of damage."

Data on death and damage are still being calculated, but the insurance industry recorded at least $10.6 billion in losses this hurricane season. That includes $8.1 billion in insured damage from Hurricane Ike, which ranked as the seventh most expensive catastrophe in the United States history, according to Mike Barry of the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some Cancers Disappear Untreated, Study Finds

From The International Herald Tribune:

Cancer researchers have known for years that it was possible in rare cases for some cancers to go away on their own. There were occasional instances of melanomas and kidney cancers that just vanished. And neuroblastoma, a very rare childhood tumor, can go away without treatment.

But these were mostly seen as oddities - an unusual pediatric cancer that might not bear on common cancers of adults, a smattering of case reports of spontaneous cures. And because almost every cancer that is detected is treated, it seemed impossible even to ask what would happen if cancers were left alone.

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Europe's 10bn-Euro Space Vision

Ministers took the view that hi-tech investments would help the economy

From The BBC:

Member states of the European space agency (Esa) have agreed a 10bn-euro budget at their meeting in The Hague.

The figure, which covers the next three to five years, represents a substantial increase in funding.

Ministers said the investment in space would help European industry pull through the current economic downturn.

The new money will help build new Earth observation satellites, maintain Esa's participation in the space station, and fund probes to the planets.

"The decisions of this ministerial conference are very important just in the middle of an economic crisis," said Peter Hintze, the minister who led the German delegation.

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No Electricity? Island Now Energy Independent

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway (Photo from Simply Moving)


Three-acre property boasts wind turbine, solar panels and Segways

MYSTIC, Conn. - Energy independence is still only a hypothetical goal for the U.S., but the owner of a tiny island off the coast of Connecticut says he has already achieved that feat and is offering his work as a model.

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and numerous medical devices, jokingly refers to his North Dumpling Island as an independent nation and himself as Lord Dumpling. Kamen claims to have his own currency and offers visas to visitors to the tiny island a few miles from Mystic, where he is the only resident.

But Kamen, who bought the three-acre island in the 1980s as a retreat, is serious about energy independence and the lessons it offers at a time of volatile gas prices and fears about global warming.

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5 Surprising Turkey Facts

Eastern wild turkeys. Credit: Maslowski/National Wild Turkey Federation

From Live Science:

Some 271 million turkeys will be raised in the United States this year, according to the National Turkey Federation, and a good number of them will be consumed on Thanksgiving, after which many Americans will loll about, overstuffed, sleepy and in many cases intoxicated.

This is not what the Pilgrims had in mind.

The first Thanksgiving was a moment for the Pilgrims to thank God for allowing them to kill enough game and grow sufficient crops to get through the winter, says Anne Blue Wills, assistant professor of religion at Davidson College. Those Pilgrims would have spent much of their day in church contemplating the mercies of God's covenantal love, Wills argues.

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Popular Science Looks At The Science Of Shooting Stars

From Popular Science:

In the first video we see footage of a fireball generated by a large meteor recently sighted careening over the skies of western Canada. Impressively bright! Since we get only a brief glimpse of the action we've also included another amazing video, below, of a meteor streaking over Guadalajara. It's a common misconception that the heat generated from meteors impacting the atmosphere is due to friction. In fact it's due to a thermodynamic process known as adiabatic compression. Let's see how this works.

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Plumes Spewing From Saturn Moon May Contain Water

(Photo from NASA)

From AP News:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Astronomers looking at the spectacular supersonic plumes of gas and dust shooting off one of Saturn's moons say there are strong hints of liquid water, a key building block of life.

Their research, appearing in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, adds to the growing push to explore further the moon Enceladus, as one of the solar system's most compelling places for potential life.

Using images from NASA's Cassini probe, astronomers had already figured that the mysterious plumes shooting from Enceladus' icy terrain contain water vapor. New calculations suggesting the gas and dustspew at speeds faster-than-sound make the case for liquid, said study lead author Candice Hansen of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Her team calculated the plumes travel more than 1,360 mph.

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Global Warming Predictions Are Overestimated, Suggests Study On Black Carbon

Savanna fires occur almost every year in northern Australia, leaving behind black carbon that remains in soil for thousands of years. (Credit: Grant Stone, QCCCE)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 25, 2008) — A detailed analysis of black carbon -- the residue of burned organic matter -- in computer climate models suggests that those models may be overestimating global warming predictions.

A new Cornell study, published online in Nature Geosciences, quantified the amount of black carbon in Australian soils and found that there was far more than expected, said Johannes Lehmann, the paper's lead author and a Cornell professor of biogeochemistry. The survey was the largest of black carbon ever published.

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Nanotech Clothing Fabric 'Never Gets Wet'

The new fabric strongly repels water thanks to nanoscale filaments with a spiky structure (Image: University of Zurich/Wiley Vch)

From New Scientist:

If you were to soak even your best raincoat underwater for two months it would be wet through at the end of the experience. But a new waterproof material developed by Swiss chemists would be as dry as the day it went in.

Lead researcher Stefan Seeger at the University of Zurich says the fabric, made from polyester fibres coated with millions of tiny silicone filaments, is the most water-repellent clothing-appropriate material ever created.

Drops of water stay as spherical balls on top of the fabric (see image, right) and a sheet of the material need only be tilted by 2 degrees from horizontal for them to roll off like marbles. A jet of water bounces off the fabric without leaving a trace (see second image).

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Triple Helix: Designing A New Molecule of Life

Peptide nucleic acid (gold) readily enters DNA's major groove to form triple-stranded and other structures with DNA, allowing it to modify the activity of genes in new ways. Jean-Francois Podevin

From Scientific American:

Peptide nucleic acid, a synthetic hybrid of protein and DNA, could form the basis of a new class of drugs—and of artificial life unlike anything found in nature

* A synthetic molecule called peptide nucleic acid (PNA) combines the information-storage properties of DNA with the chemical stability of a proteinlike backbone.
* Drugs based on PNA would achieve therapeutic effects by binding to specific base sequences of DNA or RNA, repressing or promoting the corresponding gene.
* Some researchers working to construct artificial life-forms out of mixtures of chemicals are also considering PNA as a useful ingredient for their designs.
* PNA-like molecules may have served as primordial genetic material at the origin of life.

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.

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Give Thanks? Science Supersized Your Turkey Dinner

From Wired News:

Your corn is sweeter, your potatoes are starchier and your turkey is much, much bigger than the foods that sat on your grandparents' Thanksgiving dinner table.

Most everything on your plate has undergone tremendous genetic change under the intense selective pressures of industrial farming. Pilgrims and American Indians ate foods called corn and turkey, but the actual organisms they consumed didn't look or taste much at all like our modern variants do.

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A Great Endeavour: Stunning Images As Astronauts Complete DIY Repairs On Space Station 225 Miles Above Earth

All in a days work: Shane Kimbrough seen on during his space walk as he carries out construction and maintenance on the International Space Station

From The Daily Mail:

Captured against the stunning backdrop of infinite space, an astronaut floats precariously 225 miles above the Earth as he tinkers with a greasy gummed-up joint.

On the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station, the mission specialist's every weightless movement is caught on camera as he carries out all-important repair works during one of four spacewalks.

NASA has been closely following the crew with a video camera ever since the Endeavour space shuttle lit up the night sky over Florida with a mighty roar.

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Planets, Crescent Moon To "Frown" On Skywatchers Dec. 1

Venus and Jupiter appear close together in the sky over Pasadena, California, on February 12, 2008. The two bright planets will slowly converge in the evening skies for a dazzling summit on November 30. On the following night, the pair will be joined by a thin crescent moon. Photograph by Anthony J. Cook

From National Geographic:

Skywatchers across the world are in for a celestial treat as two of the brightest naked-eye planets, Venus and Jupiter, slowly converge in the evening skies for a celestial summit on November 30.

The real showpiece, however, will be on the following night, when a thin crescent moon joins the planetary pair—creating a brief "unhappy face" in the sky.

The planets will appear closest together—an event known as a planetary conjunction—on November 30 around 4 p.m. Pacific time, and the moon will cozy up to the pair on the evening of December 1.

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Hubble Captures Outstanding Views Of Mammoth Stars

From E! Science News:

The image shows a pair of colossal stars, WR 25 and Tr16-244, located within the open cluster Trumpler 16. This cluster is embedded within the Carina Nebula, an immense cauldron of gas and dust that lies approximately 7500 light-years from Earth. The Carina Nebula contains several ultra-hot stars, including these two star systems and the famous blue star Eta Carinae, which has the highest luminosity yet confirmed. As well as producing incredible amounts of heat, these stars are also very bright, emitting most of their radiation in the ultraviolet and appearing blue in colour. They are so powerful that they burn through their hydrogen fuel source faster than other types of stars, leading to a "live fast, die young" lifestyle. WR 25 is the brightest, situated near the centre of the image. The neighbouring Tr16-244 is the third brightest, just to the upper left of WR 25. The second brightest, to the left of WR 25, is a low mass star located much closer to the Earth than the Carina Nebula. Stars like WR 25 and Tr16-244 are relatively rare compared to other, cooler types. They interest astronomers because they are associated with star-forming nebulae, and influence the structure and evolution of galaxies.

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Strangulation Of Spiral Galaxies: ‘Missing Link’ Discovered

These images of three galaxies from the Galaxy Zoo (top) and STAGES surveys (bottom) show examples of how the newly discovered population of red spiral galaxies on the outskirts of crowded regions in the Universe may be a missing link in our understanding of galaxy evolution. At left, both surveys find examples of normal spiral galaxies displaying all the hallmarks of youth: blue in colour, they are disk-like in structure. The obvious spiral arms host knotty structures where large numbers of hot young stars are being born. On the right are examples of typical rounded balls of stars known as elliptical galaxies. The reddish colour indicates that their stars are mostly old. With no gas left to use as fuel to form any more, they are old, dead and red In the centre are examples of the new "red spiral" galaxy found in large numbers by both the STAGES and Galaxy Zoo collaborations. While still disk-like and recognizably spiral in shape, their spiral arms are smoother. Furthermore, their colour is as red as the ellipticals. Astronomers from both teams believe these red spirals are objects in transition, where star formation has been shut off by interactions with the environment. (Credit: STAGES image credit: Marco Barden, Christian Wolf, Meghan Gray, the STAGES survey; STAGES image from Hubble Space Telescope, colour from COMBO-17 survey; Galaxy Zoo image credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 25, 2008) — Astronomers in two UK-led international collaborations have separately uncovered a type of galaxy that represents a missing link in our understanding of galaxy evolution.

Galaxy Zoo, which uses volunteers from the general public to classify galaxies, and the Space Telescope A901/902 Galaxy Evolution Survey (STAGES) projects have used their vast datasets to disentangle the roles of "nature" and "nurture" in changing galaxies from one variety to another.

Both studies have identified a population of unusual red spiral galaxies that are setting out on the road to retirement after a lifetime of forming stars. Crucially, nature and nurture appear to play a role in this transformation: both the mass of a galaxy as well as its local environment are important in determining when and how quickly its star formation is shut down. The scientists’ work appears together in a forthcoming edition of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Origin of Sex Pinned Down

From Live Science:

We all came from hermaphrodites, organisms with both male and female reproductive organs. And though the origin traces back more than 100 million years, biologists have scratched their heads over how and why the separate male and female sexes evolved.

Now, research on wild strawberry plants is providing evidence for such a transition and the emergence of sex, at least in plants. And the results, which are detailed in the December issue of the journal Heredity, likely apply to animals like us, the researchers say.

The study showed that two genes located at different spots on a chromosome can cast strawberry offspring as a single sex, a hermaphrodite or a neuter (neither male nor female, and essentially sterile). The researchers suspect the two genes could be responsible for one of the earliest stages of the transition from asexual to sexual beings.

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Experts Question Use Of Space Station

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

A new toilet.

A second refrigerator.

A new water recycling system.

Philadelphia-born astronaut Christopher Ferguson and his colleagues delivered those items to the International Space Station yesterday in what NASA has called an extreme makeover.

"It's the most jam-packed logistics module we have ever carried up there. We're taking a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house and turning it into a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a gym," Ferguson said in a pre-flight interview posted on NASA's Web site.

The improvements were supposed to have been finished years ago. With the project far behind schedule, scientists and engineers on the ground worry that the United States will never get its money's worth from what is now the biggest engineering project in history.

Just one shuttle flight costs about $500 million, several experts have estimated.

Read more .....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's Unsettling Comparison To 'The Great Dying'

From ABC News:

250 Million Years Ago, Rising Greenhouse Gas Levels Set Off Catastrophic Changes

In 1980, scientists Luis Alvarez and his son, Walter, proposed a new explanation for the dinosaurs' disappearance 65 million years ago: a meteor strike. Initially, the idea was met with resistance. But the evidence was convincing: a sediment layer high in iridium, an element common in asteroids, was found the world over, along with a 110-mile-wide impact crater in the Yucat√°n of the same age. What started as a fringe idea has gone mainstream.

Now scientists are rethinking another of earth's great die-offs. The end-Permian extinction 251 million years ago was the worst of earth's five mass extinctions. Ninety percent of all marine life and 70 percent of terrestrial life disappeared. It took five million years, perhaps more, for the biosphere to recover.

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IBM To Build “Thinking” Computers Modeled On The Brain

From Discover:

IBM has won a $4.9 million government grant from DARPA to begin the first phase of research on “cognitive computing”– essentially building computers that work like living brains. The new brain-like computers will aim to process vast amounts of data to solve problems without relying on specific programmed algorithms. Mark Dean, Vice President of IBM said, “The challenge is that computers today are very good at computing, but what we really need is a more efficient way of sifting through information” [International Herald Tribune].

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You Too Can Be A Genius (If You Can Spare 10,000 Hours)

Studies show that top musicians like Nigel Kennedy have all put in at least 10,000 hours of graft to be a leader in their field

From The Daily Mail:

They say that genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration.

Now scientists claim they know just how much sweat and toil this actually is.

It takes someone 10,000 hours of practice to reach the top in their chosen discipline, they say.

Studies suggest that top sportsmen, musicians and chess players have all put in this amount of graft.

Talent and luck are important, but it is practice that makes the difference between being good and being brilliant, say the researchers.

A study at Berlin's Academy of Music looked at violin students who started playing at around the age of five, practising for two or three hours a week. As they grew older the amount of practice increased.

By the age of 20, the elite performers had each totalled 10,000 hours of practice, while the merely good students had accrued 8,000.

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Ocean Growing More Acidic Faster Than Once Thought

From E! Science News:

University of Chicago scientists have documented that the ocean is growing more acidic faster than previously thought. In addition, they have found that the increasing acidity correlates with increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a paper published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Nov. 24. "Of the variables the study examined that are linked to changes in ocean acidity, only atmospheric carbon dioxide exhibited a corresponding steady change," said J. Timothy Wootton, the lead author of the study and Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago.

The increasingly acidic water harms certain sea animals and could reduce the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide, the authors said. Scientists have long predicted that higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide would make the ocean more acidic. Nevertheless, empirical evidence of growing acidity has been limited.

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How Global Warming May Affect U.S. Beaches, Coastline

The Louisiana coastline could feel the impacts of hurricanes, even those that don't make landfall. (Credit: Image courtesy of Global Warming Art)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2008) — In “Dover Beach,” the 19th Century poet Matthew Arnold describes waves that “begin, and cease, and then again begin…and bring
the eternal note of sadness in.”

But in the warming world of the 21st Century, waves could be riding oceans that will rise anywhere from 0.5 meters (19 inches) to 1.4 meters (55 inches), and researchers believe there’s a good chance they will stir stronger feelings than melancholia.

Several scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego are finding that sea level rise will have different consequences in different places but that they will be profound on virtually all coastlines. Land in some areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States will simply be underwater.

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Flies Made to Live Longer

From Live Science:

Tweaking certain genes causes female flies to make more offspring and live longer. The implications for humans are not yet clear.

Scientists have long thought that "the more you reproduce, the shorter you're going to live," said John Tower, associate professor of biological sciences at University of Southern California. True, sometimes, Tower said today.

Tower and graduate student Yishi Li found genes that could make older flies lay more eggs. When older female flies were altered to over-express the genes, they produced more offspring and lived 5 to 30 percent longer.

Tower speculates the genes are boosting activity of stem cells in the flies' reproductive system. Otherwise, stem cell activity declines with age, and reproduction in older flies could not happen without a return of stem cells to peak form.

"This would appear to be stimulating the stem cells to divide more in the old fly and therefore produce more offspring," Tower said.

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Astronaut Invents Zero-G Coffee Cup

Endeavour shuttle astronaut Don Pettit sips coffee from a zero-g cup of his own invention during the STS-126 mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

From Live Science:

NASA astronaut Don Pettit loves his coffee. So it comes as no surprise that he found a way to drink coffee from a cup, instead of the traditional straw, on his day off Sunday aboard the International Space Station.

Drinking any liquid in the weightless environment of space could be a messy affair. With hot coffee, it could be a potentially scalding affair. So astronauts use silver pouches and plastic straws to sip anything from water to orange juice to Pettit's beloved space java.

"We can suck our coffee from a bag, but to drink it from a cup is hard to do because you can't get the cup up to get the liquid out, and it's also easy to slosh," Pettit told Mission Control while sending a video of his new invention to Earth.

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Scientists Discover 21st Century Black Plague That Spreads From Rats To Humans

Black Death: A brown rat, common in the UK, has been found carrying a new strain of bacteria called Bartonella rochalimae, which is deadly to humans

From The Daily Mail:

A new plague which jumps from rats to humans has been discovered by scientists.

Fears are growing that increasing numbers of brown rats - the most common kind in Europe - are carrying a strain of bacteria that can cause serious illness in humans from heart disease to infection of the spleen and nervous system.

The new strain of bacteria called Bartonella rochalimae is spread between rats by fleas, Taiwanese researchers have said.

It was first discovered in an American woman with an enlarged spleen who had recently travelled to Peru.

'This event raised concern that it could be a newly emerged zoonotic pathogen,' said Professor Chao-Chin Chang from the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Longevity Drugs Poised to Tackle Diseases of Aging

From Wired News:

Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, heart disease: All have stubbornly resisted billions of dollars of research conducted by the world's finest minds. But they all may finally be defied by a single new class of drugs, a virtual cure for the diseases of aging.

In labs across the country, researchers are developing several new drugs that target the cellular engines called mitochondria. The first, resveratrol, is already in clinical trials for diabetes. It could be on the market in four years and used off-label as an all-purpose longevity enhancer. Other drugs promise to be more potent and refined. They might even be cheap.

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An £800 Gadget That Makes Water Straight Out Of Thin Air 'Could Help Millions'

From The Daily Mail:

A gadget which makes water out of thin air could become the greatest household invention since the microwave.

Using the same technology as a de-humidifier, the Water Mill is able to create a ready supply of drinking water by capturing it from an unlimited source - the air.

The company behind the machine says not only does it offer an alternative to bottled water in developed countries, but it is a solution for the millions who face a daily water shortage.

The machine works by drawing in moist air through a filter and over a cooling element which condenses it into water droplets. It can produce up to 12 litres a day.

Read more .....

The Physics Of Golf Balls

From E! Science News:

At the 61st Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics this week, a team of researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Maryland is reporting research that may soon give avid golfers another way to improve their game. Employing the same sort of scientific approach commonly used to improve the design of automobiles, aircraft, ships, trains, and other moving objects, the team has used a supercomputer to model how air flows around a ball in flight and to study how this flow is influenced by the ball's dimples. Their goal is to make a better golf ball by optimizing the size and pattern of these dimples and lowering the drag golf balls encounter as they fly through the air.

"For a golf ball, drag reduction means that the ball flies farther," says ASU's Clinton Smith, a Ph.D. student who is presenting a talk on the research on Sunday, November 23, 2008 in San Antonio. Smith and his advisor Kyle Squires conducted in collaboration with Nikolaos Beratlis and Elias Balaras at the University of Maryland and Masaya Tsunoda of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd.

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Could Marijuana Substance Help Prevent Or Delay Memory Impairment In The Aging Brain?

Recent research on rats indicates that at least three receptors in the brain are activated by the synthetic drug, which is similar to marijuana. These receptors are proteins within the brain's endocannabinoid system. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2008) — Ohio State University scientists are finding that specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.

Their research suggests that the development of a legal drug that contains certain properties similar to those in marijuana might help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Though the exact cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, chronic inflammation in the brain is believed to contribute to memory impairment.

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How Warfare Shaped Human Evolution

Iran - Iraq War

From The New Scientist:

IT'S a question at the heart of what it is to be human: why do we go to war? The cost to human society is enormous, yet for all our intellectual development, we continue to wage war well into the 21st century.

Now a new theory is emerging that challenges the prevailing view that warfare is a product of human culture and thus a relatively recent phenomenon. For the first time, anthropologists, archaeologists, primatologists, psychologists and political scientists are approaching a consensus. Not only is war as ancient as humankind, they say, but it has played an integral role in our evolution.

The theory helps explain the evolution of familiar aspects of warlike behaviour such as gang warfare. And even suggests the cooperative skills we've had to develop to be effective warriors have turned into the modern ability to work towards a common goal.

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Stem Cells Are More Flexible Than Previously Thought, Research Suggests

Human embryonic stem cell growing on a layer of supporting cells (fibroblasts). Micrograph by Annie Cavanagh and Dave McCarthy. (Photo From UCSC)

From The Telegraph:

Thousands of patients could benefit from a new discovery that could widen the use of stem cells in groundbreaking medical treatments.

Research by British scientists has shown the body is more flexible in its production of stem cells than previously thought.

The discovery widens the possibilities for the use of such cells in surgical procedures for treating damaged tissue and organs.

Last week surgeons in Spain created the world's first tissue-engineered whole organ transplant using a windpipe made with the patient's own stem cells. The patient, 30-year-old mother-of-two Claudia Castillo, needed the transplant to save a lung after contracting tuberculosis. Scientists from Bristol had helped to grow the cells.

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