Category Archive: science

Apr 22 2011

Fantastic movies of the Sun

Wonderful gallery of videos from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Apr 21 2011

Gut bacteria divide people into 3 types

Each human being is host to thousands of different species of microbes. Yet a group of scientists now report just three distinct ecosystems in the guts of people they have studied.

Blood type, meet bug type.

via Gut Bacteria Divide People Into 3 Types, Scientists Report – NYTimes.com

Apr 05 2011

FermiLab physicists may have found new particle

Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are planning to announce Wednesday that they have found a suspicious bump in their data that could be evidence of a new elementary particle or even, some say, a new force of nature.

via FermiLab Physicists May Have Found New Particle

Feb 11 2011

Gene tests inadvertently exposing cases of incest

Mapping your entire genetic code to look for disease signatures may reveal more than you want to know.

Nancy Spinner, a professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said her team had encountered two cases of incest since it began using SNP-based arrays from gene sequencing company Illumina Inc in May 2008.

Jan 22 2011

Tracking the tell-tale signs of pure genius

A 70-year-old engineer who has just retired confesses that he has had a life-long urge to have his left arm amputated below the elbow. He has the arm removed and feels much better.

Another man loses his arm in a car accident, but still feel its ghostly presence; this phantom limb is clenched in a painfully awkward position.

A third man, a student of mine, makes a remarkable recovery from a coma, only to become convinced that his mother and father are impostors.

All three case studies are fascinating. Yet as I argue in my new book, The Tell-Tale Brain, they can also teach us a great deal about how the brain does its near-miraculous work.

 – V S Ramachandran

via Tracking the tell-tale signs of pure genius – Telegraph

Jan 12 2011

Thunderstorms produce anti-matter beams

These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make antimatter particle beams…The beam continued past Fermi, reached a location, known as a mirror point, where its motion was reversed, and then hit the spacecraft a second time just 23 milliseconds later.

via NASA – NASA’s Fermi Catches Thunderstorms Hurling Antimatter into Space

Dec 14 2010

Voyager 1 reaches edge of the solar system: the heliosphere stagnation region

“Voyager tells us now that we’re in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. We shouldn’t have long to wait to find out what the space between stars is really like.”

Although Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, it is not yet in interstellar space. In the latest data, the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, indicating Voyager is still within the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. The data do not reveal exactly when Voyager 1 will make it past the edge of the solar atmosphere into interstellar space, but suggest it will be in a few months to a few years.

Nov 28 2010

Harvard scientists dramatically reverse aging in mice

At Harvard, they bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked an enzyme called telomerase that stops telomeres getting shorter. Without the enzyme, the mice aged prematurely and suffered ailments, including a poor sense of smell, smaller brain size, infertility and damaged intestines and spleens. But when DePinho gave the mice injections to reactivate the enzyme, it repaired the damaged tissues and reversed the signs of ageing.

Laboratory mouse in a scientist's handvia Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice – now for humans | Science | The Guardian

Nov 22 2010

Huge boomerang-shaped galaxy with enormous radio emissions

…observations have been bolstered by the discovery, inside this same filament, of a galaxy that has a rare boomerang shape and unusual light emissions…

via Astronomers Probe ‘Sandbar’ Between Islands of Galaxies – NASA Spitzer Space Telescope

Nov 15 2010

The youngest nearby black hole – younger than you

Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence of the youngest black hole known to exist in our cosmic neighborhood…The 30-year-old object is a remnant of SN 1979C, a supernova in the galaxy M100 approximately 50 million light-years from Earth…”If our interpretation is correct, this is the nearest example where the birth of a black hole has been observed,” said Daniel Patnaude of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. who led the study…The scientists think SN 1979C, first discovered by an amateur astronomer in 1979, formed when a star about 20 times more massive than the Sun collapsed.

via Chandra Press Room :: NASA’s Chandra Finds Youngest Nearby Black Hole

Nov 15 2010

Tycho Brahe, astronomer: murdered? by Kepler?

Recent investigations have suggested that Tycho did not die from urinary problems but instead from mercury poisoning—extremely toxic levels of it have been found in hairs from his moustache. This may have even been due to the various metals used to create his many different prosthetic noses that he wore. The results were, however, not conclusive. Prague City Hall approved a request by Danish scientists to exhume the remains in February 2010, and a team of Czech and Danish scientists from Aarhus University arrived in November 2010, to take bone, hair and clothing samples for analysis.

Some modern theories suggest that due to the discovery of the mercury in his body, it is possible he was intentionally or unintentionally poisoned. The two main suspects are his assistant, Johannes Kepler, whose motives would be to gain access to Brahe’s laboratory and chemicals, and his cousin, Erik Brahe, at the order of friend-turned-enemy Christian IV due to rumors at the time that Tycho had had an affair with Christian’s mother.

via Tycho Brahe – Wikipedia

Nov 14 2010

Hmmm: studies show traces of drugs in air, water, and sewage

The American Chemical Society has published a series of studies under the title “Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment: Ecological and Human Health Considerations” that detail numerous reports of the detection of cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, marijuana, and pharmaceutical drugs in water, air, and sewage in the US and Europe. Some was “still present in finished drinking water in a Spanish drinking water treatment plant”.

Nov 09 2010

Fermi telescope finds huge gamma ray bubbles from Milky Way center

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy…

The structure spans more than half of the visible sky, from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus, and it may be millions of years old.

via NASA – NASA’s Fermi Telescope Finds Giant Structure in our Galaxy

Nov 07 2010

The galaxy (probably) abounds in Earth-like planets

What percentage of Sun-like stars have earth-like planets orbiting them? As many as one-fourth, according to a new survey performed by astronomers at the University of California. This result contradicts previous theories of planet formation, but is a tantalizing prediction that finding extraterrestrial life, or at least Earth’s twin, is not impossible.

via The galaxy (probably) abounds in Earth-like planets

Oct 29 2010

Unpopular science

Life lessons in advanced physics, chemistry, and mechanics.

Christoph Niemann - Physics

Based on supercomplicated physical observations, Einstein concluded that two objects may perceive time differently. Based on simple life experience, I have concluded that this is true.

Sep 07 2010

Cookware, waterproof fabrics linked to higher cholesterol levels, cancer

Years of exposure to synthetic chemicals now seems to have resulted in permanent biological effects.

Perfluoronated compounds have been found in the blood of virtually every person tested for them in the United States, including children as young as 2. The compounds have been linked to cancer, developmental problems, liver damage and other ailments in animals, though there is no general agreement about their effects on humans.”

Sep 06 2010

Insect brains ‘are source of antibiotics’ to fight MRSA

  1. Don’t get an infection.
  2. If you get an infection, don’t get MRSA.
  3. If you do get MRSA, find a cockroach and eat its head.

Sep 03 2010

Stephen Hawking on God, the universe, and everything

Hawking“Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago. In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed “in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design.”

That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

via Stephen Hawking on God, Science and the Origins of the Universe – WSJ.com.

Aug 30 2010

An idle brain may be the self’s workshop

…Until recently, scientists would have found little of interest in the purposeless, mind-wandering spaces between Mrazek’s conscious breakfast-making tasks — they were just the brain idling between meaningful activity.

But in the span of a few short years, they have instead come to view mental leisure as important, purposeful work — work that relies on a powerful and far-flung network of brain cells firing in unison.

Neuroscientists call it the “default mode network.”

via Idlebrain | Minding the gaps – Los Angeles Times.

Aug 30 2010

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?

Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power over the mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into believing that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think.

 

via Does Your Language Shape How You Think? – NYTimes.com.

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