Amazing Science
Follow
342.7K views | +176 today
 
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
onto Amazing Science
Scoop.it!

Elon Musk designs real-world gesture interface and 3D modeler

Elon Musk designs real-world gesture interface and 3D modeler | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Elon Musk manipulates 3D object with hand gestures (Credit: SpaceX) Elon Musk has released a video demonstrating SpaceX's new custom 3D design interface.

 

After generating and manipulating the 3D model, Musk then 3D-prints an actual titanium metallic rocket-engine part from the model. “I believe we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in design manufacturing, in being able to take the concept of something from your mind, translate that into a 3D object, really intuitively on the computer, and than take that virtual 3D object and be able to make it real just by printing it,” says Musk in the impressive video.


“So it is going to revolutionize design manufacturing in the 21st century.”

 
more...
No comment yet.
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities

20,000+ FREE Online Science and Technology Lectures from Top Universities | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

NOTE: To subscribe to the RSS feed of Amazing Science, copy http://www.scoop.it/t/amazing-science/rss.xml into the URL field of your browser and click "subscribe".

 

This newsletter is aggregated from over 1450 news sources:

http://www.genautica.com/links/1450_news_sources.html

 

All my Tweets and Scoop.It! posts sorted and searchable:

http://www.genautica.com/tweets/index.html

 

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

You can search through all the articles semantically on my

archived twitter feed

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

NOTE: All articles in the amazing-science newsletter can also be sorted by topic. To do so, click the FIND buntton (symbolized by the FUNNEL on the top right of the screen)  and display all the relevant postings SORTED by TOPICS.

 

You can also type your own query:

 

e.g., you are looking for articles involving "dna" as a keyword

 

http://www.scoop.it/t/amazing-science/?q=dna


Or CLICK on the little

FUNNEL symbol at the

 top right of the screen

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••


MOST_READ • 3D_printing • aging • AI • anthropology • art • astronomy • bigdata • bioinformatics • biology • biotech • chemistry • computers • cosmology • education • environment • evolution • future • genetics • genomics • geosciences • green_energy • history • language • map • material_science • math • med • medicine • microscopy • nanotech • neuroscience • paleontology • photography • photonics • physics • postings • robotics • science • technology • video 

more...
Casper Pieters's curator insight, March 9, 7:21 PM

Great resources for online learning just about everything.  All you need is will power and self- discipline.

Russ Roberts's curator insight, April 23, 11:37 PM

A very interesting site.  Amazing Science covers many disciplines.  Subscribe to the news letter and be " amazed." Aloha, Russ, KH6JRM. 

Siegfried Holle's curator insight, July 4, 8:45 AM

Your knowledge is your strength and power 

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle for diagnostic and therapeutic applications

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle for diagnostic and therapeutic applications | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Kit Lam and colleagues from UC Davis and other institutions have created dynamic nanoparticles (NPs) that could provide an arsenal of applications to diagnose and treat cancer. Built on an easy-to-make polymer, these particles can be used as contrast agents to light up tumors for MRI and PET scans or deliver chemo and other therapies to destroy tumors. In addition, the particles are biocompatible and have shown no toxicity. The study was published online today in Nature Communications.


“These are amazingly useful particles,” noted co-first author Yuanpei Li, a research faculty member in the Lam laboratory. “As a contrast agent, they make tumors easier to see on MRI and other scans. We can also use them as vehicles to deliver chemotherapy directly to tumors; apply light to make the nanoparticles release singlet oxygen (photodynamic therapy) or use a laser to heat them (photothermal therapy) – all proven ways to destroy tumors.”


Jessica Tucker, program director of Drug and Gene Delivery and Devices at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, said the approach outlined in the study has the ability to combine both imaging and therapeutic applications in a single platform, which has been difficult to achieve, especially in an organic, and therefore biocompatible, vehicle.


"This is especially valuable in cancer treatment, where targeted treatment to tumor cells, and the reduction of lethal effects in normal cells, is so critical,” she added.


 Though not the first nanoparticles, these may be the most versatile. Other particles are good at some tasks but not others. Non-organic particles, such as quantum dots or gold-based materials, work well as diagnostic tools but have safety issues. Organic probes are biocompatible and can deliver drugs but lack imaging or phototherapy applications.


Built on a porphyrin/cholic acid polymer, the nanoparticles are simple to make and perform well in the body. Porphyrins are common organic compounds. Cholic acid is produced by the liver.


To further stabilize the particles, the researchers added the amino acid cysteine (creating CNPs), which prevents them from prematurely releasing their therapeutic payload when exposed to blood proteins and other barriers. At 32 nanometers, CNPs are ideally sized to penetrate tumors, accumulating among cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue.


In the study, the team tested the nanoparticles, both in vitro and in vivo, for a wide range of tasks. On the therapeutic side, CNPs effectively transported anti-cancer drugs, such as doxorubicin. Even when kept in blood for many hours, CNPs only released small amounts of the drug; however, when exposed to light or agents such as glutathione, they readily released their payloads. The ability to precisely control chemotherapy release inside tumors could greatly reduce toxicity. CNPs carrying doxorubicin provided excellent cancer control in animals, with minimal side effects.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

World’s Smallest Standalone 3G Modem Aims to Make Large Impact on the Internet of Things

World’s Smallest Standalone 3G Modem Aims to Make Large Impact on the Internet of Things | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

There are already smartwatches and other wearables with cellular data built-in, but the bulky hardware they need for that wireless access makes them less than elegant. Intel clearly isn't happy with this state of affairs, as it just unveiled an extra-tiny modem that should put truly sleek, always-connected devices on your body -- and seemingly everywhere else. The new XMM 6255 isn't much larger than a penny (0.47 square inches), but delivers a full-fledged 3G data link. It's built to take abuses like power spikes, and it doesn't need a big antenna to get a good connection; it can even get solid performance in a low-signal area like your basement.


XMM™ 6255 features the SMARTI™ UE2p transceiver, which is based on our unique new Intel® Power Transceiver technology, the industry’s first design to combine transmit & receive functionality with a fully integrated power amplifier and power management, all on a single chip. This design approach reduces XMM™ 6255’s component requirements, resulting in a smaller modem that helps manufacturers minimize their build of material costs. It also protects the radio from overheating, voltage peaks and damage under tough usage conditions, which is important for safety monitors and other critical IoT devices.


Additionally, the XMM™ 6255 modem features a unique radio architecture that enables it to perform exceptionally well in challenging real-world situations, including:

  • Low signal network coverage: The XMM™ 6255 modem provides reliable communication when it comes to transmitting information in low signal zones like a parking garage or a home basement.
  • Small-sized devices: Devices with a small form factor like a smartwatch or a sensor may not have enough space for a normal-sized 3G antenna, which can affect connectivity quality and reliability. The XMM™ 6255 modem is specially designed for such devices and delivers great 3G connectivity even with small volume antennas not meeting conventional mobile phone quality standards.



The company isn't ready to say just who's using the miniscule modem in finished products, but the technology could be relatively ubiquitous. Besides more wearables that don't have to rely on your phone to get online, you could see a larger internet of things where even relatively small devices have their own internet service; it's reasonable to expect a lot of smart sensors and security systems that can always talk to the outside world.

more...
No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Fragments of Science
Scoop.it!

Cloud Robotics: The Plan to Build a Massive Online Brain for All the World’s Robots

Cloud Robotics: The Plan to Build a Massive Online Brain for All the World’s Robots | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

If you walk into the computer science building at Stanford University, Mobi is standing in the lobby, encased in glass. He looks a bit like a garbage can, with a rod for a neck and a camera for eyes. He was one of several robots developed at Stanford in the 1980s to study how machines might learn to navigate their environment—a stepping stone toward intelligent robots that could live and work alongside humans. He worked, but not especially well. The best he could do was follow a path along a wall. Like so many other robots, his “brain” was on the small side.


Now, just down the hall from Mobi, scientists led by roboticist Ashutosh Saxena are taking this mission several steps further. They’re working to build machines that can see, hear, comprehend natural language (both written and spoken), and develop an understanding of the world around them, in much the same way that people do.


Today, backed by funding from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm, Saxena and his team unveiled what they call RoboBrain, a kind of online service packed with information and artificial intelligence software that any robot could tap into. Working alongside researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, Brown University, and Cornell University, they hope to create a massive online “brain” that can help all robots navigate and even understand the world around them. “The purpose,” says Saxena, who dreamed it all up, “is to build a very good knowledge graph—or a knowledge base—for robots to use.”


Any researcher anywhere will be able use the service wirelessly, for free, and transplant its knowledge to local robots. These robots, in turn, will feed what they learn back into the service, improving RoboBrain’s know-how. Then the cycle repeats.


These days, if you want a robot to serve coffee or carry packages across a room, you have to hand-code a new software program—or ask a fellow roboticist to share code that’s already been built. If you want to teach a robot a new task, you start all over. These programs, or apps, live on the robot itself, and that, Saxena says, is inefficient. It goes against all the current trends in tech and artificial intelligence, which seek to exploit the power of distributed systems, massive clusters of computers that can power devices over the net. But this is starting to change. RoboBrain is part of an emerging movement known as cloud robotics.


Via Mariaschnee
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Modified yeast produces a range of opiates for the first time

Modified yeast produces a range of opiates for the first time | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Yeast that can make opiates from other molecules raise the prospect of tanks of drug-producing microorganisms replacing open fields of opium poppies.


Severe pain? Reach for the yeast. Genetically engineered yeasts can now efficiently produce a range of opiates, including morphine and oxycodone. With growing anxieties about supplies of opium poppies, it could be just what the doctor ordered.


Opiates are primarily used as painkillers and cough suppressants, and many of the most widely used opiates can be produced only from opium poppies (Papaver somniferum). Demand for these drugs is booming. But of the poppies farmed to supply these drugs, some 50 per cent are grown on the Australian island of Tasmania, so poor growing seasons can affect availability.


As drug companies search for new places to grow poppiesChristina Smolkefrom Stanford University, California, and her colleagues have been looking at getting yeast to make these complex drugs from simple sugars.


Some opiates, like morphine, are made naturally by poppies. Others, like oxycodone, are produced by chemically altering one of the plant's natural alkaloid chemicals – in this case thebaine. Back in 2008, Smolke inserted a number of genes – including some from the opium poppy – into yeasts, and got them to turn simple sugar molecules into a complex precursor of opiates: salutaridine. Now, in her latest work, she has solved the other end of the pathway, engineering yeasts to take complex precursors like thebaine and synthesise the finished products, including oxycodone.


"This work gets us very close," says Smolke. All that's left is to combine the two stages in one strain of yeast, and solve the last few steps: getting the yeast to turn salutaridine into thebaine, completing the pathway from sugar to opiate product.


The benefits of yeast over poppies are manifold, Smolke says. She thinks that when the system is finished, a 1000-litre tank could produce as much morphine as a hectare of poppies. She believes the method, when completed, will also increase security. "It is difficult or impossible to secure many thousands of acres of poppy fields which are grown out in the open," she says. "Yeast will be grown in closed fermenters and can be kept in secure facilities."

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

How the Computer of the Future Keeps Itself Cool

How the Computer of the Future Keeps Itself Cool | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
A team of theoretical physicists at the University of Hamburg, Germany have just published the schematics for a method that tackles the biggest hurdle in quantum computing: keeping everything cool.


One of the biggest issues facing the development of quantum computers—tomorrow's supercomputers based on the strange principles of quantum physics—is keeping everything cool. Electronics make heat, and while your laptop and smartphone can use fans or heat-absorbing water tanks, those just won't cut it for quantum computing, which will take advantage of the quirks of quantum mechanics to create computers that calculate at insane speeds. 

"When you start to make electronics smaller and denser, not only are you making much more heat in the same amount of volume, but it's much harder for the heat to flow outward," says Peter Nalbach, a theoretical physicist at the University of Hamburg, Germany. 

At this stage, our early attempts at quantum computers have to be kept at a temperature barely hovering above the insanely cold, dead-standstill of absolute zero. If you're trying to develop a large-scale quantum computer, Nalbach, says, "at a certain point, you'll have to actively transport heat out of the spot where it's created," Until now, engineers had no idea exactly how to do this. 

But Nalbach and his colleagues have just published the schematics of a method to individually target and cool the physical building blocks of tomorrow's quantum computers. In their outline, recently published in the physics journal Physical Review Letters, the physicists show how they can halve the temperature of individual quantum dots—nano-sized pieces of crystal that are currently being investigated as qubits for quantum computers

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Blocking cell division with two synergistic chemical inhibitors

Blocking cell division with two synergistic chemical inhibitors | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The cycle of cell division—one cell splitting itself into two—is a crucial and complex process managed by finely tuned molecular machines. When working properly, cell division assures healthy growth. When running out of control, it can usher in cancer.


Blocking cell division in disease has been the target of researchers hoping to induce the death of abnormal cells before they become cancerous tumors. Finding the right chemical compound to inhibit cell division gone awry has proved difficult: Target the cell cycle too broadly and healthy cells will also suffer, as when chemotherapy hits all cells that divide rapidly, not just cancerous ones. Narrow the sights too tightly and the misbehaving machine churns on.


Now a team led by Randall King of Harvard Medical School has shown how two chemical inhibitors working together act better than either one alone, shutting down the dividing cell by stalling mitosis, one step in the cycle during which the cell copies and then lines up chromosomes properly so each daughter cell has a complete set.


"Simultaneous disruption of multiple interactions in a protein machine may be an interesting way to go in terms of trying to design future therapeutic strategies," said King, HMS professor of cell biology. "You're basically targeting one step in the pathway, but there's a lot of complexity in that one step. The idea is to disable the biochemical or enzymatic function by simultaneously targeting multiple sites."


King discovered the two inhibitors 10 years ago, in the very first screen conducted at the Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology-Longwood Screening Facility at HMS. It was an unbiased chemical screen, set up with no assumptions about what they might find. Especially in the era before the discovery of RNA interference and its usefulness in silencing genes, scientists needed chemical tools that would perturb biological processes in other ways, so they could understand in detail how the mechanisms they were examining worked.


King's goal in 2004 was to fish through all the identified candidates from these early screens for chemical compounds that would somehow illuminate the cell cycle pathway and perhaps stymie one of its protein machines: the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C). This protein complex marks certain proteins for degradation by the proteasome, the cell's waste-disposal site, before it can progress through mitosis.


If the APC/C doesn't tag these proteins with a protein called ubiquitin, the proteasome doesn't recognize them, they don't get discarded and mitosis cannot proceed, stalling the cell cycle before it can properly segregate its chromosomes for faithful division.


In 2010 King and his colleagues published a paper in Cancer Cell that described in detail how one of the inhibitors, called tosyl-L-arginine methyl ester (TAME), weakens the interaction between the APC/C and its critical activating protein, Cdc20. Degradation is blocked, but only partially. That means the cell cycle is delayed briefly, but still continues toward mitotic exit.


Now the scientists have shown how another compound, also discovered in the original 2004 chemical screen, binds in a pocket on Cdc20 that normally recruits the targets of APC/C. Called apcin (for APC inhibitor), it also delays mitosis, but only by a little bit.

Together, TAME and apcin slow mitosis to a crawl. The cell dies before it can leave mitosis.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

WIRED: Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis and Gets Rid of Concepts Like "Length" and "Mass"

WIRED: Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis and Gets Rid of Concepts Like "Length" and "Mass" | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Mass and length may not be fundamental properties of nature, according to new ideas bubbling out of the multiverse.


Though galaxies look larger than atoms and elephants appear to outweigh ants, some physicists have begun to suspect that size differences are illusory. Perhaps the fundamental description of the universe does not include the concepts of “mass” and “length,” implying that at its core, nature lacks a sense of scale.


This little-explored idea, known as scale symmetry, constitutes a radical departure from long-standing assumptions about how elementary particles acquire their properties. But it has recently emerged as a common theme of numerous talks and papers by respected particle physicists. With their field stuck at a nasty impasse, the researchers have returned to the master equations that describe the known particles and their interactions, and are asking: What happens when you erase the terms in the equations having to do with mass and length?


Nature, at the deepest level, may not differentiate between scales. With scale symmetry, physicists start with a basic equation that sets forth a massless collection of particles, each a unique confluence of characteristics such as whether it is matter or antimatter and has positive or negative electric charge. As these particles attract and repel one another and the effects of their interactions cascade like dominoes through the calculations, scale symmetry “breaks,” and masses and lengths spontaneously arise.


Similar dynamical effects generate 99 percent of the mass in the visible universe. Protons and neutrons are amalgams — each one a trio of lightweight elementary particles called quarks. The energy used to hold these quarks together gives them a combined mass that is around 100 times more than the sum of the parts. “Most of the mass that we see is generated in this way, so we are interested in seeing if it’s possible to generate all mass in this way,” said Alberto Salvio, a particle physicist at the Autonomous University of Madrid and the co-author of a recent paper on a scale-symmetric theory of nature.


In the equations of the “Standard Model” of particle physics, only a particle discovered in 2012, called the Higgs boson, comes equipped with mass from the get-go. According to a theory developed 50 years ago by the British physicist Peter Higgs and associates, it doles out mass to other elementary particles through its interactions with them. Electrons, W and Z bosons, individual quarks and so on: All their masses are believed to derive from the Higgs boson — and, in a feedback effect, they simultaneously dial the Higgs mass up or down, too.


The new scale symmetry approach rewrites the beginning of that story.
“The idea is that maybe even the Higgs mass is not really there,” said Alessandro Strumia, a particle physicist at the University of Pisa in Italy. “It can be understood with some dynamics.”


The concept seems far-fetched, but it is garnering interest at a time of widespread soul-searching in the field. When the Large Hadron Collider at CERN Laboratory in Geneva closed down for upgrades in early 2013, its collisions had failed to yield any of dozens of particles that many theorists had included in their equations for more than 30 years. The grand flop suggests that researchers may have taken a wrong turn decades ago in their understanding of how to calculate the masses of particles.


“We’re not in a position where we can afford to be particularly arrogant about our understanding of what the laws of nature must look like,” said Michael Dine, a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has been following the new work on scale symmetry. “Things that I might have been skeptical about before, I’m willing to entertain.”


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Core root growth mechanism identified: PLETHORA proteins and plant hormone auxin orchestrate root growth together

Core root growth mechanism identified: PLETHORA proteins and plant hormone auxin orchestrate root growth together | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

During plant growth, dividing cells in meristems must coordinate transitions from division to expansion and differentiation. Three distinct developmental zones are generated: the meristem, where the cell division takes place, and elongation and differentiation zones. At the same time, plants can rapidly adjust their direction of growth to adapt to environmental conditions.


In Arabidopsis thaliana roots, many aspects of zonation are controlled by the plant hormone auxin and auxin-induced PLETHORA transcription factors. Both show a graded distribution with a maximum near the root tip. In addition, auxin is also pivotal for tropic responses of the roots.


Ari Pekka Mähönen from the University of Helsinki, Finland, with his group and Dutch colleagues has found out with the help of experimentation and mathematical modelling how the two factors together regulate root growth.


"Cell division in the meristem is maintained by PLETHORA transcription factors. These proteins are solely transcribed in the stem cells, in a narrow region within the meristematic cells located in the tip of the root. So PLETHORA proteins are most abundant in the stem cells," Ari Pekka Mähönen, Research Fellow financed by the Academy of Finland says.


Outside the stem cells the amount of PLETHORA protein in the cells halves each time the cells divide. In the end there is so little PLETHORA left in the cells that they cannot stay in the dividing mode. This is when the cells start to elongate and differentiate.


Auxin is the factor taking care of many aspects of root growth. If there is enough PLETHORA in the root cells, auxin affects the rate of root cell division. If there is little or no PLETHORA in the cells, auxin regulates cell differentiation and elongation. In addition to this direct, rapid regulation, auxin also regulates cell division, expansion and differentiation indirectly and slowly by promoting PLETHORA transcription. This dual action of auxin keeps the structure and growth of the root very stable.


When PLETHORA levels gradually diminish starting from the root tip upwards, the cell division, elongation and differentiation zones are created. And this inner organisation stays even if the growth direction of the root changes.


"The gravity and other environmental factors can change the auxin content of the cells, and quite rapidly. This all affects the growth direction of the root. And of course it is important for the plant to maintain the organization while directing their roots there where water and nutrients most likely are to be found."

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

UAlberta engineers design nano-optical cables that could replace copper wiring on computer chips

UAlberta engineers design nano-optical cables that could replace copper wiring on computer chips | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Cables designed by graduate student Saman Jahani (left) and electrical engineering professor Zubin Jacob are 10 times smaller than existing fiber optic cables—small enough to replace copper wiring still used on computer chips. “We’re already transmitting data from continent to continent using fiber optics, but the killer application is using this inside chips for interconnects—that is the Holy Grail,” says Zubin Jacob, an electrical engineering professor leading the research. “What we’ve done is come up with a fundamentally new way of confining light to the nano scale.”


Jahani and Jacob have used metamaterials to redefine the textbook phenomenon of total internal reflection, discovered 400 years ago by German scientist Johannes Kepler while working on telescopes.

Researchers around the world have been stymied in their efforts to develop effective fibre optics at smaller sizes. One popular solution has been reflective metallic claddings that keep light waves inside the cables. But the biggest hurdle is increased temperatures: metal causes problems after a certain point.


“If you use metal, a lot of light gets converted to heat. That has been the major stumbling block. Light gets converted to heat and the information literally burns up—it’s lost.”


Jacob and Jahani have designed a new, non-metallic metamaterial that enables them to “compress” and contain light waves in the smaller cables without creating heat, slowing the signal or losing data. Their findings will be published Aug. 20 in Optica, The Optical Society’s new high-impact photonics journal. The article is available online.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

21 Species of Metabolically Active Microbes In Hydrocarbon Lakes On Earth Boost Chances For Extraterrestrial Life

21 Species of Metabolically Active Microbes In Hydrocarbon Lakes On Earth Boost Chances For Extraterrestrial Life | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a ground-breaking discovery released by the journal Science, researchers have revealed microhabitats of metabolically active, thriving microbes living in the world’s largest asphalt lake, Pitch Lake, on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean.  Asphalt lakes are large reservoirs of a sticky, black, viscous hydrocarbons (known as asphalt, bitumen or pitch) where no life was expected to be found.


The international team discovered the microbes in tiny water droplets recovered from the lake in 2011.  Each sample, measuring only one to three microliters, has the equivalent volume of approximately 1/50 of a conventional “drop” of water.


The team’s only United States-based researcher, Dirk Schulze-Makuch, is a professor at Washington University School of the Environment.  Using advanced sequencing technologies, the team extracted all the DNA of all organisms in each droplet simultaneously.  Reading through 12 microdroplets, they found 21 species of bacteria and archaebacteria.


Professor Schulze-Makuch explained that each water droplet seems representative of an entire ecosystem because of the observed diversity in bacteria and archaea.  Moreover, remarkably there was very little measurable ammonia or phosphates, both ingredients thought to be essential for life.


These microbes, the researchers report, are actively degrading oils in the lake, most likely to exploit it as a source of bioenergy.  One bioengineering implication of this discovery is to use these active microbes to clean up oil spills with as little impact to the environment as possible.


The water droplets also had an unusually high salt content.  By studying the isotope composition of droplets from Pitch Lake, the team was able to say that the microbes did not originate from surface waters that are part of the hydrologic cycle, but rather from much deeper, for example ancient underground seawater or another deep source of brine.


Professor Schulze-Makuch went on to explain that these microbes could mean life on other planets as well.  One well-known example is Saturn’s moon, Titan.  Its surface is characterized as being saturated with hydrocarbons, in liquid lakes on the ground and also in vapor form and liquid rain in the atmosphere.  Schulze-Makuch explains that this discovery has implications for astrobiology, the study of life on other planets.


Reference: Science 8 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6197 pp. 673-676

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Solar power with a view: Transparent luminescent solar concentrators

Solar power with a view: Transparent luminescent solar concentrators | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Researchers have developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a flat, clear surface.


Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials is not new. These past efforts, however, have yielded poor results -- the energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly colored.


"No one wants to sit behind colored glass," said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. "It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent."


The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight. "We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then 'glow' at another wavelength in the infrared," he said.


The "glowing" infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells. "Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye," Lunt said.

more...
Russ Roberts's curator insight, August 21, 4:24 PM

The "transparent luminescent solar concentrator" developed by Lunt, an assist The assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, can be used on "any flat, clear surface", including buildings, cell phones, and event tablets. The solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules to absorb specific non visible wavelengths of sunlight.  The infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic material, where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells.  Lunt says that "Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they work exceptionally transparent to the human eye."  This development could be a game changer for portable power systems, batteries, and emergency power applications.  Keep an eye on this.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

‘Shape-memory polymer’ material could help reconstruct faces

‘Shape-memory polymer’ material could help reconstruct faces | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Injuries, birth defects (such as cleft palates) or surgery to remove a tumor can create gaps in bone that are too large to heal naturally. And when they occur in the head, face or jaw, these bone defects can dramatically alter a person's appearance. Researchers will report today that they have developed a "self-fitting" material that expands with warm salt water to precisely fill bone defects, and also acts as a scaffold for new bone growth.


Currently, the most common method for filling bone defects in the head, face or jaw (known as the cranio-maxillofacial area) is autografting. That is a process in which surgeons harvest bone from elsewhere in the body, such as the hip bone, and then try to shape it to fit the bone defect.


"The problem is that the autograft is a rigid material that is very difficult to shape into these irregular defects," says Melissa Grunlan, Ph.D., leader of the study. Also, harvesting bone for the autograft can itself create complications at the place where the bone was taken. Another approach is to use bone putty or cement to plug gaps. However, these materials aren't ideal. They become very brittle when they harden, and they lack pores, or small holes, that would allow new bone cells to move in and rebuild the damaged tissue.


To develop a better material, Grunlan and her colleagues at Texas A&M University made a shape-memory polymer (SMP) that molds itself precisely to the shape of the bone defect without being brittle. It also supports the growth of new bone tissue.


SMPs are materials whose geometry changes in response to heat. The team made a porous SMP foam by linking together molecules of poly(ε-caprolactone), an elastic, biodegradable substance that is already used in some medical implants. The resulting material resembled a stiff sponge, with many interconnected pores to allow bone cells to migrate in and grow. Upon heating to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the SMP becomes very soft and malleable. So, during surgery to repair a bone defect, a surgeon could warm the SMP to that temperature and fill in the defect with the softened material. Then, as the SMP is cooled to body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), it would resume its former stiff texture and "lock" into place.


The researchers also coated the SMPs with polydopamine, a sticky substance that helps lock the polymer into place by inducing formation of a mineral that is found in bone. It may also help osteoblasts, the cells that produce bone, to adhere and spread throughout the polymer. The SMP is biodegradable, so that eventually the scaffold will disappear, leaving only new bone tissue behind. To test whether the SMP scaffold could support bone cell growth, the researchers seeded the polymer with human osteoblasts. After three days, the polydopamine-coated SMPs had grown about five times more osteoblasts than those without a coating. Furthermore, the osteoblasts produced more of the two proteins, runX2 and osteopontin, that are critical for new bone formation.


Grunlan says that the next step will be to test the SMP's ability to heal cranio-maxillofacial bone defects in animals. "The work we've done in vitro is very encouraging," she says. "Now we'd like to move this into preclinical and, hopefully, clinical studies."

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Seagate Ships World’s First 8TB Hard Drives

Seagate Ships World’s First 8TB Hard Drives | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX), a world leader in storage solutions, today announced it is shipping the world’s first 8TB hard disk drive. An important step forward in storage, the 8TB hard disk drive provides scale-out data infrastructures with supersized-capacity, energy-efficiency and the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) in the industry for cloud content, object storage and back-up disaster recovery storage.


“As our world becomes more mobile, the number of devices we use to create and consume data is driving an explosive growth in unstructured data. This places increased pressure on cloud builders to look for innovative ways to build cost-effective, high capacity storage for both private and cloud-based data centers,” said Scott Horn, Seagate vice president of marketing. “Seagate is poised to address this challenge by offering the world’s first 8TB HDD, a ground-breaking new solution for meeting the increased capacities needed to support the demand for high capacity storage in a world bursting with digital creation, consumption and long-term storage.”


A cornerstone for growing capacities in multiple applications, the 8TB hard drive delivers bulk data storage solutions for online content storage providing customers with the highest capacity density needed to address an ever increasing amount of unstructured data in an industry-standard 3.5-inch HDD. Providing up to 8TB in a single drive slot, the drive delivers maximum rack density, within an existing footprint, for the most efficient data center floor space usage possible.


“Public and private data centers are grappling with efficiently storing massive amounts of unstructured digital content,” said John Rydning, IDC’s research vice president for hard disk drives. “Seagate’s new 8TB HDD provides IT managers with a new option for improving storage density in the data center, thus helping them to tackle one of the largest and fastest growing data categories within enterprise storage economically.”


The 8TB hard disk drive increases system capacity using fewer components for increased system and staffing efficiencies while lowering power costs. With its low operating power consumption, the drive reliably conserves energy thereby reducing overall operating costs. Helping customers economically store data, it boasts the best Watts/GB for enterprise bulk data storage in the industry.


“Cleversafe is excited to once again partner with Seagate to deliver to our customers what is truly an innovative storage solution. Delivering absolute lowest cost/TB along with the performance and reliability required for massive scale applications, the new 8TB hard disk drive is ideal for meeting the needs of our enterprise and service provider customers who demand optimized hardware and the cost structure needed for massive scale out,” said Tom Shirley, senior vice president of research and development, Cleversafe.


Outfitted with enterprise-class reliability and support for archive workloads, it features multi-drive RV tolerance for consistent enterprise-class performance in high density environments. The drive also incorporates a proven SATA 6Gb/s interface for cost-effective, easy system integration in both private and public data centers.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

NASA: 101 Counted Geysers on Icy Saturn Moon Enceladus

NASA: 101 Counted Geysers on Icy Saturn Moon Enceladus | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Scientists using mission data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have identified 101 distinct geysers erupting on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Their analysis suggests it is possible for liquid water to reach from the moon’s underground sea all the way to its surface.


Over a period of almost seven years, Cassini’s cameras surveyed the south polar terrain of the small moon, a unique geological basin renowned for its four prominent "tiger stripe” fractures and the geysers of tiny icy particles and water vapor first sighted there nearly 10 years ago. The result of the survey is a map of 101 geysers, each erupting from one of the tiger stripe fractures, and the discovery that individual geysers are coincident with small hot spots. These relationships pointed the way to the geysers’ origin.


After the first sighting of the geysers in 2005, scientists suspected repeated flexing of Enceladus by Saturn’s tides as the moon orbits the planet had something to do with their behavior. One suggestion included the back-and-forth rubbing of opposing walls of the fractures generating frictional heat that turned ice into geyser-forming vapor and liquid.


Alternate views held that the opening and closing of the fractures allowed water vapor from below to reach the surface. Before this new study, it was not clear which process was the dominating influence. Nor was it certain whether excess heat emitted by Enceladus was everywhere correlated with geyser activity.


To determine the surface locations of the geysers, researchers employed the same process of triangulation used historically to survey geological features on Earth, such as mountains. When the researchers compared the geysers’ locations with low-resolution maps of thermal emission, it became apparent the greatest geyser activity coincided with the greatest thermal radiation. Comparisons between the geysers and tidal stresses revealed similar connections. However, these correlations alone were insufficient to answer the question, “What produces what?”


The answer to this mystery came from comparison of the survey results with high-resolution data collected in 2010 by Cassini’s heat-sensing instruments. Individual geysers were found to coincide with small-scale hot spots, only a few dozen feet (or tens of meters) across, which were too small to be produced by frictional heating, but the right size to be the result of condensation of vapor on the near-surface walls of the fractures. This immediately implicated the hot spots as the signature of the geysering process.


“Once we had these results in hand we knew right away heat was not causing the geysers, but vice versa,” said Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini imaging team from the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and lead author of the first paper. “It also told us the geysers are not a near-surface phenomenon, but have much deeper roots.”


more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

First satellite with high-resolution public imaging launched on August 13th, 2014

First satellite with high-resolution public imaging launched on August 13th, 2014 | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

WorldView-3, the world’s first multi-payload, super-spectral, high-resolution commercial satellite for earth observations and advanced geospatial solutions, launched into orbit on Aug. 13 aboard an Atlas rocket. Operating at an expected altitude of 617 km, WorldView-3 will have an average revisit time of less than one day and will be capable of collecting up to 680,000 square kilometers of imagery per day. Its data-rich imagery will discover new sources of minerals and fuels, manage forests and farms, and accelerate DigitalGlobe’s exploitation of Geospatial Big Data™ – a living digital inventory of the surface of the Earth.


The data should lead to much nicer imagery in online mapping services from companies like Google and Microsoft (both of which are DigitalGlobe customers), although it's not just cosmetic. Higher-res photos will help track large farms, spot mineral deposits and otherwise deliver a clearer view of our planet that has previously been limited to the government -- don't be surprised if it's easier to spot landmarks on a map without using markers.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Google's fact-checking bots are automatically building the Knowledge Vault for access to the world's facts

Google's fact-checking bots are automatically building the Knowledge Vault for access to the world's facts | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The search giant is automatically building Knowledge Vault, a massive database that could give us unprecedented access to the world's facts

GOOGLE is building the largest store of knowledge in human history – and it's doing so without any human help.


Instead, Knowledge Vault autonomously gathers and merges information from across the web into a single base of facts about the world, and the people and objects in it.


The breadth and accuracy of this gathered knowledge is already becoming the foundation of systems that allow robots and smartphones to understand what people ask them. It promises to let Google answer questions like an oracle rather than a search engine, and even to turn a new lens on human history.


Knowledge Vault is a type of "knowledge base" – a system that stores information so that machines as well as people can read it. Where a database deals with numbers, a knowledge base deals with facts. When you type "Where was Madonna born" into Google, for example, the place given is pulled from Google's existing knowledge base.


This existing base, called Knowledge Graph, relies on crowdsourcing to expand its information. But the firm noticed that growth was stalling; humans could only take it so far.


So Google decided it needed to automate the process. It started building the Vault by using an algorithm to automatically pull in information from all over the web, using machine learning to turn the raw data into usable pieces of knowledge.


Knowledge Vault has pulled in 1.6 billion facts to date. Of these, 271 million are rated as "confident facts", to which Google's model ascribes a more than 90 per cent chance of being true. It does this by cross-referencing new facts with what it already knows.


"It's a hugely impressive thing that they are pulling off," says Fabian Suchanek, a data scientist at Télécom ParisTech in France. Google's Knowledge Graph is currently bigger than the Knowledge Vault, but it only includes manually integrated sources such as the CIA Factbook.


Knowledge Vault offers Google fast, automatic expansion of its knowledge – and it's only going to get bigger. As well as the ability to analyse text on a webpage for facts to feed its knowledge base, Google can also peer under the surface of the web, hunting for hidden sources of data such as the figures that feed Amazon product pages, for example.


Tom Austin, a technology analyst at Gartner in Boston, says that the world's biggest technology companies are racing to build similar vaults. "Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and IBM are all building them, and they're tackling these enormous problems that we would never even have thought of trying 10 years ago," he says.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Imprint of Primordial Monster Star Found

Imprint of Primordial Monster Star Found | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The very first stars in the Universe might have been hundreds of times more massive than the Sun.


Astronomers have found evidence for the existence of the monster stars long thought to have populated the early Universe. Weighing in at hundreds of times the mass of the Sun, such stars would have been the first to fuse primordial hydrogen and helium into heavier elements, leaving behind a chemical signature that the researchers have now found in an ancient, second-generation star.


Little is known about the Universe’s first stars, which would have formed out of clouds of hydrogen, helium and a tiny amount of lithium in the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang.


Simulations have long predicted that some of this first batch of stars were enormous. With masses of more than 100 times that of the Sun, they would have lived and died in the cosmic blink of an eye, a few million years. As they exploded in supernovae, they created the first heavy elements from which later galaxies and stars evolved. But no traces of their existence have previously been found.


Now, using a technique called stellar archaeology, Wako Aoki at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo and his colleagues have found the first hint of such a star, preserved in the chemical make-up of its ancient daughter. The chemistry of this relic — a star called SDSS J0018-0939 — suggests that it may have formed from a cloud of gas seeded with material created in the explosion of a single, very massive star. The results were published in Science on 21 August.


“This is a much awaited discovery,” says Naoki Yoshida, an astrophysicist at the University of Tokyo who was not involved in the study. That such chemical signatures have never been found in the Universe, despite many theoretical studies predicting their existence, is a long-standing puzzle, he says. “It seems Aoki et al. have finally found an old relic that shows intriguing evidence that there really was such a monstrous star in the distant past.”

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Scientists have built a simple model of viruses’ protective coats in an attempt to create viral mimics

Scientists have built a simple model of viruses’ protective coats in an attempt to create viral mimics | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

An artificial protein that self-assembles around and protects DNA could be ideal for gene therapy, nanomachines and synthetic biology.


Dutch scientists have built a simple model of viruses’ protective coats in an attempt to create viral mimics that could fight diseases, as opposed to causing them. Rather than copying natural proteins, Renko de Vries from Wageningen University and his team designed and built a three-part protein from scratch that self-assembles around DNA.


‘The protein is exceedingly simple in its primary and secondary structure, yet captures the essence of self-assembly for the tobacco mosaic virus,’ de Vries tells Chemistry World. This knowledge could enable superior vehicles for getting DNA and RNA into cells, for example for gene therapy, and templates for improved DNA machines. ‘You could probably do the same with supramolecular chemistry,’ de Vries adds, ‘but the protein approach has the beauty that you can expand in the direction of synthetic biology.’


The ‘no-frills’ coat sprung from de Vries’ discussions with Paul van der Schoot’s Technical University of Eindhoven team, who had developed a theoretical model of tobacco mosaic virus self-assembly. ‘We established the crucial mechanisms and then started designing these molecules,’ de Vries explains.


The protein’s first segment, which bound to the DNA to be encapsulated, simply comprised 12 lysine amino acid building blocks. The second was a ‘silk-like’ protein sequence, containing repeat units of mostly alanine and glycine amino acids, that can form stiff filaments. Varying the number of repeat silk-like units allowed the chemists to dictate cooperation between segments during coat assembly. The third segment was a random 400 residue sequence with many prolines and other hydrophilic, uncharged amino acids that stopped the rod-shaped ‘virus-like particles’ (VLPs) clumping together.


‘We found that the self-assembly was really quite spectacular,’ de Vries recalls. ‘If you have one protein sticking to the nucleic acid template, that accelerates binding of further proteins. That ensures that you always have at least a couple of templates perfectly coated, even if you do not have enough protein. For the 2500 base pair linear DNA we used, about 400 copies of the artificial virus protein are needed to make the complete coat.’


Out of five different silk-like segment lengths the team tried, only the two longest ones led to fully cooperative coat self-assembly. These VLPs compacted their central DNA most and protected it from enzyme attack for longer. However, all of the different silk-like segment lengths produced VLPs that could transfect DNA into cells with similar efficiency.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Do we live in a 2D hologram? New Fermilab experiment will test the nature of the universe

Do we live in a 2D hologram? New Fermilab experiment will test the nature of the universe | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
A unique experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory called the Holometer has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe – including whether we live in a hologram.


Much like characters on a television show would not know that their seemingly 3D world exists only on a 2D screen, we could be clueless that our 3D space is just an illusion. The information about everything in our universe could actually be encoded in tiny packets in two dimensions. Get close enough to your TV screen and you'll see pixels, small points of data that make a seamless image if you stand back. Scientists think that the universe's information may be contained in the same way, and that the natural "pixel size" of space is roughly 10 trillion trillion times smaller than an atom, a distance that physicists refer to as the Planck scale.


"We want to find out whether space-time is a quantum system just like matter is," said Craig Hogan, director of Fermilab's Center for Particle Astrophysics and the developer of the holographic noise theory. "If we see something, it will completely change ideas about space we've used for thousands of years."


Quantum theory suggests that it is impossible to know both the exact location and the exact speed of subatomic particles. If space comes in 2D bits with limited information about the precise location of objects, then space itself would fall under the same theory of uncertainty . The same way that matter continues to jiggle (as quantum waves) even when cooled to absolute zero, this digitized space should have built-in vibrations even in its lowest energy state.


Essentially, the experiment probes the limits of the universe's ability to store information. If there are a set number of bits that tell you where something is, it eventually becomes impossible to find more specific information about the location – even in principle. The instrument testing these limits is Fermilab's Holometer, or holographic interferometer, the most sensitive device ever created to measure the quantum jitter of space itself.


Now operating at full power, the Holometer uses a pair of interferometers placed close to one another. Each one sends a one-kilowatt laser beam (the equivalent of 200,000 laser pointers) at a beam splitter and down two perpendicular 40-meter arms. The light is then reflected back to the beam splitter where the two beams recombine, creating fluctuations in brightness if there is motion. Researchers analyze these fluctuations in the returning light to see if the beam splitter is moving in a certain way – being carried along on a jitter of space itself.


"Holographic noise" is expected to be present at all frequencies, but the scientists' challenge is not to be fooled by other sources of vibrations. The Holometer is testing a frequency so high – millions of cycles per second – that motions of normal matter are not likely to cause problems. Rather, the dominant background noise is more often due to radio waves emitted by nearby electronics. The Holometer experiment is designed to identify and eliminate noise from such conventional sources.


"If we find a noise we can't get rid of, we might be detecting something fundamental about nature–a noise that is intrinsic to spacetime," said Fermilab physicist Aaron Chou, lead scientist and project manager for the Holometer. "It's an exciting moment for physics. A positive result will open a whole new avenue of questioning about how space works."

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Whole functional organ has been grown from scratch inside an animal for the first time

Whole functional organ has been grown from scratch inside an animal for the first time | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A group of cells developed into a thymus - a critical part of the immune system - when transplanted into mice. The findings, published in Nature Cell Biology, could pave the way to alternatives to organ transplantation.

Experts said the research was promising, but still years away from human therapies.


The thymus is found near the heart and produces a component of the immune system, called T-cells, which fight infection. Scientists at the Medical Research Council centre for regenerative medicine at the University of Edinburgh started with cells from a mouse embryo.


These cells were genetically "reprogrammed" and started to transform into a type of cell found in the thymus. These were mixed with other support-role cells and placed inside mice.


Once inside, the bunch of cells developed into a functional thymus.

It is similar to a feat last year, when lab-grown human brains reached the same level of development as a nine-week-old fetus.


The thymus is a much simpler organ and in these experiments became fully functional. Structurally it contained the two main regions - the cortex and medulla - and it also produced T-cells.


Prof. Clare Blackburn, part of the research team, said it was "tremendously exciting" when the team realized what they had achieved. "This was a complete surprise to us, that we were really being able to generate a fully functional and fully organized organ starting with reprogrammed cells in really a very straightforward way. This is a very exciting advance and it's also very tantalising in terms of the wider field of regenerative medicine."


Patients who need a bone marrow transplant and children who are born without a functioning thymus could all benefit. Ways of boosting the thymus could also help elderly people. The organ shrinks with age and leads to a weaker immune system. However, there are a number of obstacles to overcome before this research moves from animal studies to hospital therapies. The current technique uses embryos. This means the developing thymus would not be a tissue match for the patient.

more...
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Evolutionary history of honeybees revealed by genomics

Evolutionary history of honeybees revealed by genomics | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala University present the first global analysis of genome variation in honeybees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought.


The honeybee (Apis mellifera) is of crucial importance for humanity. One third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Extensive losses of honeybee colonies in recent years are a major cause for concern. Honeybees face threats from disease, climate change, and management practices. To combat these threats it is important to understand the evolutionary history of honeybees and how they are adapted to different environments across the world.


"We have used state-of-the-art high-throughput genomics to address these questions, and have identified high levels of genetic diversity in honeybees. In contrast to other domestic species, management of honeybees seems to have increased levels of genetic variation by mixing bees from different parts of the world. The findings may also indicate that high levels of inbreeding are not a major cause of global colony losses", says Matthew Webster, researcher at the department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University.


Another unexpected result was that honeybees seem to be derived from an ancient lineage of cavity-nesting bees that arrived from Asia around 300,000 years ago and rapidly spread across Europe and Africa. This stands in contrast to previous research that suggests that honeybees originate from Africa.


Reference: A worldwide survey of genome sequence variation provides insight into the evolutionary history of the honeybee Apis mellifera, Nature Genetics, 2014. dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3077

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Widespread methane leakage from ocean floor off the US coast

Widespread methane leakage from ocean floor off the US coast | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers say they have found more than 500 bubbling methane vents on the seafloor off the US east coast. The unexpected discovery indicates there are large volumes of the gas contained in a type of sludgy ice called methane hydrate. There are concerns that these new seeps could be making a hitherto unnoticed contribution to global warming.

The scientists say there could be about 30,000 of these hidden methane vents worldwide.


Previous surveys along the Atlantic seaboard have shown only three seep areas beyond the edge of the US continental shelf. The findings came as a bit of a surprise.  "It is the first time we have seen this level of seepage outside the Arctic that is not associated with features like oil or gas reservoirs or active tectonic margins," said Prof Adam Skarke from Mississippi State University, who led the study.


The scientists have observed streams of bubbles but they have not yet sampled the gas within them. However, they believe there is an abundance of circumstantial evidence pointing to methane.


Most of the seeping vents were located around 500m down, which is just the right temperature and pressure to create a sludgy confection of ice and gas called methane hydrate, or clathrate.


The scientists say that the warming of ocean temperatures might be causing these hydrates to send bubbles of gas drifting through the water column. 


Prof. Skarke and his colleagues estimate that worldwide, there may be around 30,000 of the type of seeps they have discovered.

They acknowledge that this is a rough calculation but they believe that it could be significant.


While the vents may not be posing an immediate global warming threat, the sheer number means that our calculations on the potential sources of greenhouse gases may need revising. The scientists also found abundant life around many of these seeps, but not perhaps as we know it.


The creatures they describe are termed chemosynthetic, meaning they derive energy from chemical reactions and not from the Sun as do photosynthetic organisms.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

Genetically engineered pig hearts survived more than a year in baboon abdomens

Genetically engineered pig hearts survived more than a year in baboon abdomens | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The heart didn't beat for the baboon, but it did overcome the risk of organ rejection.


By breeding piglets with a few choice human genes, scientists were able to create sort-of-pig hearts that seem to be compatible with primate hosts. The organ wasn't used as a heart, but was instead grafted into the abdomen of an otherwise healthy baboon. After over a year, the best of the hearts are still living, viable organs. Next stop, the chest cavity!


Researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health will publish their results in the September issue of The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, though their findings were discussed several months ago at a conference. According to the study, the researchers experimented with different degrees of genetic modification in the pigs. They prevented all of the piglets from producing certain enzymes known to cause organ rejection in baboons (and, by extension, humans) but were given different gene alterations to keep blood from clotting, which is another common issue.


The most successful group had the human thrombomodulin gene added to their genomes. The expression of this gene prevented clotting, lead investigator Muhammad M. Mohiuddin said in a statement. While the average survival of the other groups were 70 days, 21 days and 80 days, the thrombomodulin group survived an average of 200 days in the baboon abdomen. And three of the five grafts in the group were still alive at 200 to 500 days since their grafting, when the study was submitted for review.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

How lizards regenerate their tails: researchers discover genetic 'recipe'

How lizards regenerate their tails: researchers discover genetic 'recipe' | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

By understanding the secret of how lizards regenerate their tails, researchers may be able to develop ways to stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans. Now, a team of researchers from Arizona State University is one step closer to solving that mystery. The scientists have discovered the genetic “recipe” for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.


Other animals, such as salamanders, frog tadpoles and fish, can also regenerate their tails, with growth mostly at the tip. During tail regeneration, they all turn on genes in what is called the 'Wnt pathway’ – a process that is required to control stem cells in many organs, such as the brain, hair follicles and blood vessels. However, lizards have a unique pattern of tissue growth that is distributed throughout the tail.


"Regeneration is not an instant process," said Elizabeth Hutchins, a graduate student in ASU's molecular and cellular biology program and co-author of the paper. "In fact, it takes lizards more than 60 days to regenerate a functional tail. Lizards form a complex regenerating structure with cells growing into tissues at a number of sites along the tail.”


"We have identified one type of cell that is important for tissue regeneration," said Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, co-author and associate professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences. "Just like in mice and humans, lizards have satellite cells that can grow and develop into skeletal muscle and other tissues."


"Using next-generation technologies to sequence all the genes expressed during regeneration, we have unlocked the mystery of what genes are needed to regrow the lizard tail," said Kusumi. "By following the genetic recipe for regeneration that is found in lizards, and then harnessing those same genes in human cells, it may be possible to regrow new cartilage, muscle or even spinal cord in the future."


The findings are published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Scoop.it!

An MRI-guided brain surgery technology goes global

An MRI-guided brain surgery technology goes global | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

An MRI-guided laser system that allows surgeons to perform brain surgery on tumors and epileptic lesions in the brain is expected to become widely available to patients in need now that the technology has been acquired from Visualase Inc. by the global medical device company Medtronic, Inc., says a biomedical engineering professor from Texas A&M University who co-founded the company responsible for the technology.


The technology, says Gerard Coté, professor in the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and director of the Center for Remote Healthcare Technology, enables surgeons to pinpoint and destroy brain tumors and lesions with extreme precision and is a much less-invasive alternative to conventional surgery.


The advantage of this approach over other approaches for brain surgery, Coté explains, is that it can be performed while the patient is awake, requires no radiation and no skull flap (the large opening in traditional craniotomies), and is often performed in otherwise inoperable areas of the brain.


Traditional brain surgery, he explains, is usually a daylong operation that involves removing part of the skull, cutting through healthy brain matter and physically removing the problematic tissue. That procedure, he adds, can be followed by a weeklong hospital stay and prolonged recovery period. 


The technology developed by former Texas A&M students Ashok Gowda and the late Roger McNichols, conversely, can be completed in about four hours, and most patients can return home the following day, Coté says. 


Known as “Visualase,” the technology is already used in more than 45 hospitals, nationwide, including 15 pediatric hospitals. Before the surgical procedure, computer software first helps identify the targeted tissue so that it may be treated and the surrounding healthy tissue can be avoided, Coté explains. During the procedure, a small entry is made in the skull that allows a laser applicator (about the size of a pencil lead) to be inserted into the tissue. The patient is placed in the MRI, and a physician receives and reviews images to verify proper positioning of the laser applicator in the skull. The clinician then uses a laser to heat and destroy the problematic tissue while imaging the tissue being damaged in real time to ensure destruction of the problematic tissue and to avoid damaging healthy tissue. The laser applicator is then removed, and the scalp is closed with one stitch, Coté notes.


more...
No comment yet.