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Old World Fruit Bats Use Unique Form of Echolocation, Click Sounds From Wings

Old World Fruit Bats Use Unique Form of Echolocation, Click Sounds From Wings | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Old World fruit bats, also known as the flying foxes or megabats, are members of the family Pteropodidae, which contains 41 genera and about 170 species. These bats are restricted to the Old World in a tropical and subtropical distribution, ranging no further than the eastern Mediterranean and South Asia, and are absent from northwest Africa, southwest Australia, a majority of the Palearctic region, and all of the Western Hemisphere.


In search of the origin of bat echolocation, Dr Yossi Yovel of Tel Aviv University and his colleagues studied how Old World fruit bats, long classified as non-echolocating, orient in darkness.


They selected a total of 19 wild individuals representing three fruit bat species to find that all of them used click-based echo sensing.


“I was surprised by the fact that all of the fruit bats we recorded clicked and by the fact that clicks are produced by the wings,” said Dr Yovel, who is the senior author of the paper published in the journal Current Biology.


“We did all we could to prove it wrong, including sealing the bats’ mouths and anesthetizing their tongues, but nothing stopped them from clicking, except for when we interfered with their wing flaps.”


Further study showed that two of the three species – the Cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea) and the Lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) – increased their clicking rate by a factor of three to five or even more when placed in a dark tunnel, implying that the clicks are a natural behavior for the bats.


Tests of the bats’ ability to find their way in the dark showed that they do have echolocation abilities, although they are poorer than those of other echolocating species.

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Diane Johnson's curator insight, December 6, 2014 11:56 AM

nice unique example for adaptation

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A sound loud enough to bend light on a computer chip

A sound loud enough to bend light on a computer chip | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
During a thunderstorm, we all know that it is common to hear thunder after we see the lightning. That's because sound travels much slower (768 miles per hour) than light (670,000,000 miles per hour).


Now, University of Minnesota engineering researchers have developed a chip on which both sound wave and light wave are generated and confined together so that the sound can very efficiently control the light. The novel device platform could improve wireless communications systems using optical fibers and ultimately be used for computation using quantum physicsThe research was recently published in Nature CommunicationsThe University of Minnesota chip is made with a silicon base coated with a layer of aluminum nitride that conducts an electric change. Applying alternating electrical signal to the material causes the material to deform periodically and generate sound waves that grow on its surface, similar to earthquake waves that grow from the center of the earthquake. The technology has been widely used in cell phones and other wireless devices as microwave filters.


"Our breakthrough is to integrate optical circuits in the same layer of material with acoustic devices in order to attain extreme strong interaction between light and sound waves," said Mo Li, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the lead researcher of the study.


The researchers used the state-of-the-art nanofabrication technology to make arrays of electrodes with a width of only 100 nanometers (0.00001 centimeters) to excite sound waves at an unprecedented high frequency that is higher than 10 GHz, the frequency used for satellite communications.


"What's remarkable is that at this high frequency, the wavelength of the sound is even shorter than the wavelength of light. This is achieved for the first time on a chip," said Semere Tadesse, a graduate student in the University of Minnesota's School of Physics and Astronomy and the first author of the paper. "In this unprecedented regime, sound can interact with light most efficiently to achieve high-speed modulation."

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suresh mari's comment, December 2, 2014 12:15 AM
Recovering speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag filmed through soundproof glass https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbbCJcfDoIc&list=UUYl4FEoRuAv9G2v0cid5VnA
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Cows with human chromosomes can now produce large amounts of human antibodies

Cows with human chromosomes can now produce large amounts of human antibodies | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Humans have been using antibody therapies to treat infectious disease for more than 100 years. Blood plasma from influenza survivors administered to sick patients in 1912 may have contributed to their dramatic turnaround. In the years since, immune proteins from survivors have been administered to infected individuals in an attempt to combat diseases like Lassa fever, SARS, and even Ebola. 


It’s hard, however, to find survivors who can donate plasma containing these lifesaving immune proteins. Now, a team led by researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Frederick, Maryland, has used genetically engineered cows to produce large amounts of human antibodies against hantavirus, an often deadly disease mainly transmitted from rodents to people. In animal models, at least, these antibodies provided robust protection against the virus, opening the door to therapies to treat and prevent hantavirus, for which there is no cure. The bioproduction technique also holds promise for generating antibodies against other infectious agents.  


The work is preliminary and needs to be tested in people, but the team calls it a “proof-of-concept” that human antibodies can be grown in animals and retain their activity against disease. “I’m personally very excited about it. I think that this offers potential for treatment of patients with hantavirus infection,” says Greg Mertz, an infectious disease specialist at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, who was not involved in the research. “If you extrapolate this to other diseases, there are some where this approach might be promising.”


The USAMRIID researchers, led by virologist Jay Hooper, teamed up with SAB Biotherapeutics in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to use genetically engineered cows that, when presented with an antigen, could produce fully human polyclonal antibodies against both the Sin Nombre hantavirus strain, first isolated from the Four Corners region of the southwestern United Sates, and the Andes hantavirus strain, which is prevalent in Chile. There, it infects an average of 55 people annually and kills about a third of them. After a lengthy incubation period and a few days of fever and muscle aches, the virus attacks the lungs and often causes acute respiratory failure leading to death. There is no cure, and the experimental vaccines would be logistically challenging to use even if they passed clinical trials.

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Diane Johnson's curator insight, December 2, 2014 7:45 AM

Bio-engineering example

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Experiment demonstrates direct brain to brain interface between humans

Experiment demonstrates direct brain to brain interface between humans | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.


At the time of the first experiment in August 2013, the UW team was the first to demonstrate two human brains communicating in this way. The researchers then tested their brain-to-brain interface in a more comprehensive study, published Nov. 5 in the journal PLOS ONE ("A Direct Brain-to-Brain Interface in Humans").


“The new study brings our brain-to-brain interfacing paradigm from an initial demonstration to something that is closer to a deliverable technology,” said co-author Andrea Stocco, a research assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Now we have replicated our methods and know that they can work reliably with walk-in participants.”


In this photo, UW students Darby Losey, left, and Jose Ceballos are positioned in two different buildings on campus as they would be during a brain-to-brain interface demonstration. The sender, left, thinks about firing a cannon at various points throughout a computer game. That signal is sent over the Web directly to the brain of the receiver, right, whose hand hits a touchpad to fire the cannon.

Read more: Study shows direct brain interface between humans (w/video) 

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Rare Black Sea Anlerfish Caught on Film for the First Time

Rare Black Sea Anlerfish Caught on Film for the First Time | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Made famous in the movie Finding Nemo, a sea devil is caught on film for the first time. The anglerfish survived capture and is now being studied in a specially equipped laboratory.


With its gaping mouth, needle-sharp teeth, and slightly startled expression, the black sea devil anglerfish seems tailor-made for the spotlight. And in fact, one particular female got her close-up on November 17 when researchers got footage of this rare anglerfish—the first time this species has been filmed alive and in its natural habitat—off of central California.


A team using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in the Monterey Bay Canyon spied this 3.5-inch-long (9 centimeter) black sea devil about 1,900 feet (580 meters) deep. The scientists were then able to bring her up to the surface alive—no mean feat—and have been monitoring the fish ever since. Bruce Robison, a deep-sea ecologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, has brought up sea devils from the deep before, but never with an ROV. "It came up in absolutely perfect condition," he says.


Having a living animal to study is telling scientists so much more than they could ever have gotten from the dead, preserved specimens floating around various research facilities, Robison explains. "One of the first things that we got back from ichthyologists was astonishment at how the fish uses its dorsal fin to swim," he says. "Nobody had ever seen that." The anglerfish also appeared to be breathing more than expected, given its build, Robison added.

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Ancient Computer Even More Ancient Than Previously Thought

Ancient Computer Even More Ancient Than Previously Thought | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The astonishing Antikythera mechanism is even older than previously suspected, new research suggests. Instead of being "1500 years ahead of its time," it may have been closer to 1800.


The mechanism was found in 1901 in the wreck of a ship that sank in the Aegean Sea around 60 BC. Though its origins are unknown, it could be used to calculate astronomical motion, making it a sort of forerunner to computers.


The sheer sophistication of the device makes it mysterious, being more advanced than any known instrument of its day – or for centuries thereafter. Even with parts missing after spending such a long time in the briny deep, it was examined to have at least 30 gears. This is perhaps why for many, it represents the pinnacle of technology of the ancient world and what was lost during the Dark Ages.


If devices such as this had survived, Kepler might have found the task of explaining the orbits of the planets far easier to achieve. Although the makers likely would not have understood why the moon slowed down and sped up in its orbit, they were sufficiently aware of the phenomenon. In fact, the mechanism mimics it precisely. One of the mechanism's functions was to predict eclipses, and a study of these dials indicates it was operating on a calender starting from 205 BC.


Estimates of the mechanism's date of manufacture have gradually been pushed back, starting with the year in which it sank. The device was housed in a box, which has engravings dated to 80 to 90BC, but the lettering appears consistent with a date of 100 to 150 BC


However, in The Archive of History of Exact Sciences, Dr. Christian Carman of Argentina's National University of Quilmes and Dr. James Evans of the University of Puget Sound believe they have identified the solar eclipse that occurs in the 13th month of the mechanism's calender. If so, this would make its start date, when the dials are set to zero, May 205 BC.

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Personalized cancer vaccines could prove very effective against certain cancers

Personalized cancer vaccines could prove very effective against certain cancers | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

With millions spent each year funding cancer research, a wide range of approaches to combat the development of cancer are investigated such as personalized vaccines. The immune system protects us from cancer throughout our lives in an evolutionary arms race.  Cancerous cells constantly mutate to evade detection from the immune cells, while the immune system adapt to these changes and get rid of them. However, as we age, our immune system weakens, increasing the chances of developing cancer.


A new study published in Nature investigated the approach to combat cancer using vaccines. Cancer vaccines, much like the other vaccines, are designed to recognise proteins only found in cancerous cells and not normal cells. Using these vaccines, they were able to enhance the immune system against tumours, causing many to go into remission. 90% of mice with advanced muscle cancer were cured.


“This is proof that personalized cancer vaccines can be very powerful and need to be applied to human cancers now,” said senior author Robert Schreiber. “We believe we can incorporate those proteins into vaccines that only unleash the T cells on the tumours, and so far, our tests have been very successful.”


In the near future we could be seeing a surge in personalised vaccines against cancerous cells. Using DNA to identify proteins only found in cancer cells, the immune system will target the tumours to remove them without the risk of attacking healthy tissue.


Reference:

Gubin MM, Zhang X, Schuster H, Caron E et al. Checkpoint blockade cancer immunotherapy targets tumour-specific mutant antigens. Nature 2014 Nov 26;515(7528):577-81.

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Philippe Cherel's curator insight, December 3, 2014 2:50 AM

Prophylaxie personnalisée, les vaccins contre le cancer #prospective #santé

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These Engineered Parhyales Teach Us About How Evolution Works -- And Where It Fails

These Engineered Parhyales Teach Us About How Evolution Works -- And Where It Fails | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A leg growing out of your mouth. Extra legs pushing out of your side. Walking parts where your swimming bits should be. If you’re a tiny crustacean in Nipam Patel’s lab, chances are good you’re not quite right—and that’s just the way these UC Berkley geneticists like it. By inducing birth defects in arthropods called parhyale, Patel’s team makes “monsters” that deliver a one-two punch, offering insights into the mechanics of evolution, and into ways we could treat (or even prevent) human birth defects and disease in the future.


The questions that drive Patel’s lab are deceptively simple, and brain-crushingly profound: How did Earth’s organisms become different from one another? How is an embryo “programmed” to know what it should look like? How might changes to that programming have advanced evolution itself? This frustrated, flailing parhyale—which, thanks to Patel’s crew, was born with almost perfect walking appendages where its swimming appendages should be—is helping to revolutionize how we think about all of it.


Welcome to the world of Hox genes, a roughly 600-million-year-old “toolkit” that controls how body plans—the head-to-tail layout of our symmetrical, physical selves—develop. Once thought to exist only in flies, Hox genes rocked biology in the mid-’80s when it was discovered that they were in every single animal on Earth. And while the number of Hox genes tends to vary according to how complex you are (insects have 8; humans have 39), the genes themselves have changed so little in millions of years that they’re what’s called "highly conserved" across species.


In labs, that means flies function surprisingly well when one of their Hox genes is swapped for the corresponding chicken Hox gene. From an evolutionary perspective, it means earthworms, humpback whales, butterflies, and humans are all just variations on a theme. “Despite the fact that we don’t think of ourselves as looking anything like a fly,” says Patel, “our development basically uses the same genes.”


Hox genes are “master instructors”—each oversees development in a different region of the body (head, thorax, abdomen), turning other genes on and off to ensure you grow the right form for your species. “In the field in general,” says Patel, “I think we’ve increasingly convinced people that single genes can have big roles in evolution,” but his team hunts proof, examples of how small tweaks to the Hox toolkit may have given rise to Earth’s massive species diversity.


Via Integrated DNA Technologies
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Single-cell phytoplankton in the ocean are responsible for roughly half of global oxygen production

Single-cell phytoplankton in the ocean are responsible for roughly half of global oxygen production | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a paper published in PNAS on Monday November 24, scientists laid out a robust new framework based on in situ observations that will allow scientists to describe and understand how phytoplankton assimilate limited concentrations of phosphorus, a key nutrient, in the ocean in ways that better reflect what is actually occurring in the marine environment. This is an important advance because nutrient uptake is a central property of ocean biogeochemistry, and in many regions controls carbon dioxide fixation, which ultimately can play a role in mitigating climate change.


"Until now, our understanding of how phytoplankton assimilate nutrients in an extremely nutrient-limited environment was based on lab cultures that poorly represented what happens in natural populations," explained Michael Lomas of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, who co-led the study with Adam Martiny of University of California - Irvine, and Simon Levin and Juan Bonachela of Princeton University. "Now we can quantify how phytoplankton are taking up nutrients in the real world, which provides much more meaningful data that will ultimately improve our understanding of their role in global ocean function and climate regulation."


To address the knowledge gap about the globally-relevant ecosystem process of nutrient uptake, researchers worked to identify how different levels of microbial biodiversity influenced in situ phosphorus uptake in the Western Subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. Specifically, they focused on how different phytoplankton taxa assimilated phosphorus in the same region, and how phosphorus uptake by those individual taxa varied across regions with different phosphorus concentrations. They found that phytoplankton were much more efficient at assimilating vanishingly low phosphorus concentrations than would have been predicted from culture research. Moreover, individual phytoplankton continually optimized their ability to assimilate phosphorus as environmental phosphorus concentrations increased. This finding runs counter to the commonly held, and widely used, view that their ability to assimilate phosphorus saturates as concentrations increase.


"Prior climate models didn't take into account how natural phytoplankton populations vary in their ability to take up key nutrients, "said Martiny. "We were able to fill in this gap through fieldwork and advanced analytical techniques. The outcome is the first comprehensive in situ quantification of nutrient uptake capabilities among dominant phytoplankton groups in the North Atlantic Ocean that takes into account microbial biodiversity."

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Amazing: Artist creates nanosculptures much smaller than a human hair

Amazing: Artist creates nanosculptures much smaller than a human hair | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A sculpture so tiny that it cannot be seen by the naked eye is claimed to be the smallest sculpture of the human form ever created. Measuring a picayune 20 x 80 x 100 microns, artist Jonty Hurwitz’s tiny human statue is part of a new series of equally diminutive new sculptures that are at a scale so infinitesimally miniscule that each of the figures is approximately equal in size to the amount your fingernails grow in around about 6 hours, and can only be viewed using a scanning electron microscope.


Sculpted with an advanced new nano 3D printing technology coupled with a technique called multiphoton lithography, these works of art are created using a laser that uses the phenomenon of two photon absorption. In this way, an object is traced out by a laser in a block of light-sensitive monomer or polymer gel, and the excess is then washed away to leave a solid form.


As this method of two photon absorption only takes place at the tiny focal point of the laser, it essentially creates a tiny 3D pixel (a voxel) at that juncture. The laser is then moved along a fractional distance under computer control and the next voxel in the series is formed. In a long and painstaking process that takes place over many hours, the complete 3D sculpture is assembled voxel by voxel.


"We live in an era where the impossible has finally come to pass," said Hurwitz. "In our own little way we have become demi-gods of creation. Contemporary art, in my humble view, needs to reflect the human condition as it is today, it needs to represent the state of society at the time of its creation. Take a moment to consider that only 6,000 years ago we were painting crude animal images on the walls of caves with rocks. We have come far. This nano sculpture is the collective achievement of all of humanity. It is the culmination of thousands of years of R&D."

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Life’s extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs

Life’s extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

One of the most mysterious forms of life may turn out to be a rich and untapped source of antibacterial drugs. The mysterious life form is Archaea, a family of single-celled organisms that thrive in environments like boiling hydrothermal pools and smoking deep sea vents which are too extreme for most other species to survive.


“It is the first discovery of a functional antibacterial gene in Archaea,” said Seth Bordenstein, the associate professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University who directed the study, “You can’t overstate the significance of the antibiotic resistance problem that humanity is facing. This discovery should help energize the pursuit for new antibiotics in this underexplored group of life.”


Until the late 1970s, biologists thought that Archaea were just weird bacteria, but then a landmark analysis of their DNA showed that they represent an independent branch on the tree of life that stretches back more than three billion years. The realization that Archaea could be a source of novel pharmaceuticals emerges from a study of widespread horizontal gene transfer between different species conducted by a team of scientists from Vanderbilt University and Portland State University in Oregon.


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Babies' brains adjust to listening to a language, even if they never learn it.

Babies' brains adjust to listening to a language, even if they never learn it. | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Our brains start soaking in details from the languages around us from the moment we can hear them. One of the first things infants learn of their native languages is the system of consonants and vowels, as well as other speech sound characteristics, like pitch. In the first year of life, a baby’s ear tunes in to the particular set of sounds being spoken in its environment, and the brain starts developing the ability to tell subtle differences among them—a foundation that will make a difference in meaning down the line, allowing the child to learn words and grammar.


But what happens if that child gets shifted into a different culture after laying the foundations of its first native language? Does it forget everything about that first language, or are there some remnants that remain buried in the brain?


According to a recent PNAS paper, the effects of very early language learning are permanently etched into the brain, even if input from that language stops and it’s replaced by another language. To identify this lasting influence, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on children who had been adopted to see what neural patterns could be identified years after adoption.


Because not all linguistic features have easily identifiable effects on the brain, the researchers decided to focus on lexical tone. This is a feature found in some languages that allows a single arrangement of consonants and vowels to have different meanings that are distinguished by a change in pitch. For example, in Mandarin Chinese, the word “ma” with a rising tone means “hemp”—the same syllable with a falling tone means “scold.”


People who speak tone languages have differences in brain activity in a certain region of the brain’s left hemisphere. This region activates in response to pitch differences that are used to convey a difference in linguistic meaning; non-linguistic pitch is processed in the right hemisphere. Tone information is learned very early in life: infants learning Chinese languages (including Mandarin and Cantonese) show signs of recognizing tonal contrasts as early as four months.

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Peter Rettig's curator insight, November 30, 2014 12:10 PM

A very good reason to expose our young children to the sounds of different languages ...

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CERN makes its data from real collision events available to the public for the first time

CERN makes its data from real collision events available to the public for the first time | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Today CERN launched its Open Data Portal, which makes data from real collision events produced by LHC experiments available to the public for the first time. “Data from the LHC program are among the most precious assets of the LHC experiments, that today we start sharing openly with the world,” says CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “We hope these open data will support and inspire the global research community, including students and citizen scientists.”


The LHC collaborations will continue to release collision data over the coming years. The first high-level and analyzable collision data openly released come from the CMS experiment and were originally collected in 2010 during the first LHC run. Open source software to read and analyze the data is also available, together with the corresponding documentation. The CMS collaboration is committed to releasing its data three years after collection, after they have been thoroughly studied by the collaboration.


“This is all new and we are curious to see how the data will be re-used,” says CMS data preservation coordinator Kati Lassila-Perini. “We’ve prepared tools and examples of different levels of complexity from simplified analysis to ready-to-use online applications. We hope these examples will stimulate the creativity of external users.”

In parallel, the CERN Open Data Portal gives access to additional event data sets from the ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb collaborations that have been prepared for educational purposes. These resources are accompanied by visualization tools.


All data on OpenData.cern.ch are shared under a Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. Data and software are assigned unique DOI identifiers to make them citable in scientific articles. And software is released under open source licenses. The CERN Open Data Portal is built on the open-source Invenio Digital Library software, which powers other CERN Open Science tools and initiatives.

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NASA: West Antarctic Melt Rate Has Tripled

NASA: West Antarctic Melt Rate Has Tripled | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade. The glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice faster than any other part of Antarctica and are the most significant Antarctic contributors to sea level rise. This study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and NASA is the first to evaluate and reconcile observations from four different measurement techniques to produce an authoritative estimate of the amount and the rate of loss over the last two decades.


"The mass loss of these glaciers is increasing at an amazing rate," said scientist Isabella Velicogna, jointly of UCI and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. Velicogna is a coauthor of a paper on the results, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


Lead author Tyler Sutterley, a doctoral candidate at UCI, and his team did the analysis to verify that the melting in this part of Antarctica is shifting into high gear. "Previous studies had suggested that this region is starting to change very dramatically since the 1990s, and we wanted to see how all the different techniques compared," Sutterley said. "The remarkable agreement among the techniques gave us confidence that we are getting this right."


The researchers reconciled measurements of the mass balance of glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea Embayment. Mass balance is a measure of how much ice the glaciers gain and lose over time from accumulating or melting snow, discharges of ice as icebergs, and other causes. Measurements from all four techniques were available from 2003 to 2009. Combined, the four data sets span the years 1992 to 2013.

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Gust MEES's curator insight, December 3, 2014 12:28 PM

A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade. 


The glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice faster than any other part of Antarctica and are the most significant Antarctic contributors to sea level rise. This study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and NASA is the first to evaluate and reconcile observations from four different measurement techniques to produce an authoritative estimate of the amount and the rate of loss over the last two decades.


"The mass loss of these glaciers is increasing at an amazing rate," said scientist Isabella Velicogna, jointly of UCI and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. Velicogna is a coauthor of a paper on the results, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


Lead author Tyler Sutterley, a doctoral candidate at UCI, and his team did the analysis to verify that the melting in this part of Antarctica is shifting into high gear. "Previous studies had suggested that this region is starting to change very dramatically since the 1990s, and we wanted to see how all the different techniques compared," Sutterley said. "The remarkable agreement among the techniques gave us confidence that we are getting this right."


The researchers reconciled measurements of the mass balance of glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea Embayment. Mass balance is a measure of how much ice the glaciers gain and lose over time from accumulating or melting snow, discharges of ice as icebergs, and other causes. Measurements from all four techniques were available from 2003 to 2009. Combined, the four data sets span the years 1992 to 2013.

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People have infrared vision, possibly the result of pairs of photons combining their energy

People have infrared vision, possibly the result of pairs of photons combining their energy | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Although we do not have X-ray vision like Superman, we have what could seem to be another superpower: we can see infrared light — beyond what was traditionally considered the visible spectrum. A series of experiments now suggests that this little-known, puzzling effect could occur when pairs of infrared photons simultaneously hit the same pigment protein in the eye, providing enough energy to set in motion chemical changes that allow us to see the light.


Received wisdom, and the known chemistry of vision, say that human eyes can see light with wavelengths between 400 (blue) and 720 nanometers (red). Although this range is still officially known as the 'visible spectrum', the advent of lasers with very specific infrared wavelengths brought reports that people were seeing laser light with wavelengths above 1,000 nm as white, green and other colors.


Krzysztof Palczewski, a pharmacologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, says that he has seen light of 1,050 nm from a low-energy laser. “You see it with your own naked eye,” he says. To find out whether this ability is common or a rare occurrence, Palczewski scanned the retinas of 30 healthy volunteers with a low-energy beam of light, and changed its wavelength. As the wavelength increased into the infrared (IR), participants found the light at first harder to detect, but at around 1,000 nm the light became easier to see. How humans can do this has puzzled scientists for years.


Although the researchers do not yet have direct evidence that two-photon reactions power infrared vision, the team's computer simulations suggests that this is the case. Their quantum-chemistry calculations showed that rhodopsin can absorb two low-energy photons and kick into the same excited state as when it absorbs one photon of visible light. The same calculations also predicted that the double absorption should peak between 1,000 and 1,100 nm, something that the team's experiements confirmed. The results are published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Science1.


The next step is to look at exploiting this work. “An interesting possibility is to try to create mutants in the laboratory which would respond to IR light of even lower intensity,” says Olivucci.

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UpTempo Group's curator insight, December 5, 2014 9:05 PM

This is a very interesting scientific article regarding the visible spectrum and recent research that suggests that people can see infrared light.

UpTempo Group's curator insight, December 5, 2014 9:06 PM

Interesting research regarding the visible spectrum for the human eye.

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ThyssenKrupp, Germany, unveils the revolutionary multi-directional elevator concept

ThyssenKrupp, Germany, unveils the revolutionary multi-directional elevator concept | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Elevator design hasn't progressed very much during the past 160 years, and still comprises cabins which move vertically in a shaft supported by cables. This is inefficient and limiting, taking up a relatively large footprint and requiring people to wait a long time for the next lift. However, German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp has unveiled a revolutionary Willy Wonka-style elevator concept that allows several cabins to move both horizontally and vertically in the same elevator shaft, at the same time.


Dubbed the "Multi", ThyssenKrupp's elevator concept is cited by the firm as the world's first cable-free elevator. We're not sure about this, as electromagnetic specialist MagneMotion may have got there first. Still, ThyssenKrupp's system looks far more involved than simply doing away with cables, and it poses potential implications for the future design of tall buildings. The Multi is propelled by a magnet-based drive that uses the same technology behind Shanghai's super-fast Maglev train, which was built by Transrapid International, a joint venture of Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. Each elevator will feature one motor for horizontal and vertical movement, and rather than a single shaft, a skyscraper featuring the Multi would sport a complex system of shafts that could offer passengers access to an elevator every 15 to 30 seconds.


ThyssenKrupp says that because the Multi requires smaller shafts than typical elevators, it could increase a building's usable area by up to 25 percent. It's lighter too, and the use of lightweight materials for cabins and doors slims the Multi down to around 50 percent of a typical elevator's weight. The firm says that a 300 m (984 ft)-tall building would be the ideal starting height for the technology.

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Enrico De Angelis's curator insight, November 30, 2014 5:18 AM

Innovation starts, often, from dreams. Cinema often comes before technology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_and_the_Chocolate_Factory_%28film%29

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High-fidelity photon-to-atom quantum state transfer could form backbone of quantum networks

High-fidelity photon-to-atom quantum state transfer could form backbone of quantum networks | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a quantum network, information is stored, processed, and transmitted from one device to another in the form of quantum states. The quantum nature of the network gives it certain advantages over classical networks, such as greater security.


One promising method for implementing a quantum network involves using both atoms and photons for their unique advantages. While atoms are useful as nodes (in the form of quantum memories and processors) due to their long storage times, photons are useful as links (on optical fibers) because they're better at carrying quantum information over large distances.


However, using both atoms and photons requires that quantum states be converted between single atoms and single photons. This in turn requires a high degree of control over the emission and absorption processes in which single atoms act as senders and receivers of single photons. Because it's difficult to achieve complete overlap between the atomic and photonic modes, photon-to-atom state transfer usually suffers from low fidelities of below 10%. This means that more than 90% of the time the state transfer is unsuccessful.


In a new paper published in Nature Communications, a team of researchers led by Jürgen Eschner, Professor at Saarland University in Saarbrucken, Germany, has experimentally demonstrated photon-to-atom quantum state transfer with a fidelity of more than 95%. This drastic improvement marks an important step toward realizing future large-scale quantum networksThe researchers' protocol consists of transferring the polarization state of a laser photon onto the ground state of a trapped calcium ion. To do this, the researchers prepared the calcium ion in a quantum superposition state, in which it simultaneously occupies two atomic levels. When the ion absorbs a photon emitted by a laser at an 854-nm wavelength, the photon's polarization state gets mapped onto the ion. Upon absorbing the photon, the ion returns to its ground state and emits a single photon at a 393-nm wavelength. Detection of this 393-nm photon signifies a successful photon-to-atom quantum state transfer.


he researchers showed that this method achieves very high fidelities of 95-97% using a variety of atomic states and both linear and circular polarizations. The method also has a relatively high efficiency of 0.438%. The researchers explain that the large fidelity improvement is due in large part to the last step involving the detection of the 393-nm photon.

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IQ is in the genes: How parents raise children has almost no impact how smart they become, study finds

IQ is in the genes: How parents raise children has almost no impact how smart they become, study finds | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Kids benefit when their parents spend quality time encouraging them to think and to take on challenging pursuits. But this won’t improve a child’s IQ, a new study finds.


Their reading to you, talking with you at the dinner table and taking an active interest in your life could make you happy. And that’s important. But it won’t make you smarter, says Kevin Beaver. Previous research has suggested different types of parenting could affect a child’s IQ. Short for intelligence quotient, IQ is a score that measures human intelligence. But those earlier data hadn’t separated out the effect of genetics on IQ. Beaver’s team wanted to know: Are children’s IQ scores really affected by how their parents raised them? Or are those scores just a reflection of what genes a child inherited?


To find out, the team pored over information from a study of more than 15,000 U.S. middle- and high-school students. It’s called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Starting in the 1994-to-1995 school year, researchers had asked students a series of questions. For instance: How warm and loving are your parents? How much do you talk with them? How close do you feel to your parents? How much do you think they care about you?


Students also were given a list of 10 activities. Then the questionnaire asked how many of those activities students had done with their parents in the previous week. Did they play sports together? Go shopping? Talk with each other over dinner? Watch a movie together?

Students also answered questions about how permissive their parents were. For example, did their parents let them choose their own friends, choose what to watch on TV or choose for themselves when to go to bed?


The researchers then gave the students a test to gauge their IQ. Called a Picture Vocabulary Test, it asked the students to link words and images. Scores on this test have been linked repeatedly to IQ. Later in life, between the ages of 18 and 26, these people were tested again. Beaver’s group was especially interested in results from a group of about 220 students who had been adopted. The parents who raised them had not passed on any genes to them. So if there was a link between the students’ IQs and the way their parents raised them, the researchers should see it most clearly in the adopted students’ scores.


What does Beaver make of the new findings? We all have strengths and weaknesses, he says. That means some of us will have to work harder than others to do well. And in some cases, other people will always be better than us at certain things. “The key is to find what you are good at and what you enjoy.” Then, he says, “Work your hardest to become the best you can be.”

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RJ Lavallee's curator insight, November 30, 2014 8:54 AM

One study does not a total change make, but it does raise questions...

JebaQpt's comment, December 2, 2014 12:00 AM
Iq questions with answers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzJ6fYiItKc&index=2&list=PLK2ccNIJVPpCKcR42ndz3tGoL3xZmQ-o0
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Graphene shows promise for body armor, 8 to 10 times stronger than steel

Graphene shows promise for body armor, 8 to 10 times stronger than steel | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Graphene could be used to make bulletproof armor. US researchers carried out miniature ballistic tests by firing tiny silica spheres at sheets of graphene. In the Science magazine they report that atom-thick layers of this material can be stronger than steel when it comes to absorbing impacts. Graphene consists of a sheet of single atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure.


It is thin, strong, flexible and electrically conductive, and has the potential to transform electronics as well as other technologies.

Jae-Hwang Lee from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and colleagues used lasers to observe the silica "microbullets" as they penetrated sheets of graphene between 10 and 100 layers thick.

They compared the kinetic energy of the spheres before and after they pierced the graphene sheets.


Observations using an electron microscope revealed that graphene dissipates energy by stretching into a cone shape and then cracking in various directions. The mini-ballistic tests showed that grapheme's extraordinary strength, elasticity and stiffness allowed it to absorb between eight and 10 times the impacts that steel can withstand.

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Wireless electronic implants deliver antibiotics, then harmlessly dissolve

Wireless electronic implants deliver antibiotics, then harmlessly dissolve | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Imagine an electronic implant that delivers a drug when triggered by a remote wireless signal — then harmlessly dissolves (no post-surgical infection concerns, no fuss, no muss) within minutes or weeks. That’s what researchers at Tufts University and the  University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have demonstrated* in mice, using a resistor (as a source of heat for releasing drug and help dissolving the implant) and a power-receiving coil made of magnesium deposited onto a silk protein”pocket” that also protects the electronics and controls its dissolution time. There have been other implantable medical devices, but they typically use non-degradable materials that have limited operational lifetimes and must eventually be removed or replaced — requiring more surgery.


Devices were implanted in vivo in S. aureus-infected tissue and activated by a wireless transmitter for two sets of 10-minute heat treatments. Tissue collected from the mice 24 hours after treatment showed no sign of infection, and surrounding tissues were found to be normal. Devices completely dissolved after 15 days, and magnesium levels at the implant site and surrounding areas were comparable to levels typically found in the body. The researchers also conducted in vitro experiments in which similar remotely controlled devices released the antibiotic ampicillin to kill E. coli and S. aureus bacteria. The wireless activation of the devices was found to enhance antibiotic release without reducing antibiotic activity.


The research was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition the week of November 24–28, 2014. and was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

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40,000-year-old blood brings mammoth cloning closer

40,000-year-old blood brings mammoth cloning closer | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Mammoth cloning is closer to becoming a reality following the discovery of blood in the best-preserved specimen ever found.


An autopsy on a 40,000-year-old mammoth has yielded blood that could contain enough intact DNA to make cloning possible, galvanising scientists who have been working for years to bring back the extinct elephant relative. Tests are still being conducted on the blood to see if it will yield a complete genome – the genetic code necessary to build an organism.


The mammoth (nicknamed Buttercup) was discovered in 2013 on Maly Lyakhovsky Island in northern Siberia and excavated from the permafrost. The flesh was remarkably well-preserved, and oozed a dark red liquid when scientists cut into it. That liquid has now been confirmed as blood, following an autopsy conducted by scientists including Museum palaeobiologist Dr Tori Herridge.


'As a palaeontologist, you normally have to imagine the extinct animals you work on,' said Dr Herridge. 'So actually coming face-to-face with a mammoth in the flesh, and being up to my elbows in slippery, wet, and frankly rather smelly mammoth liver, counts as one of the most incredible experiences of my life.' The South Korean firm Sooam Biotech Research Foundation is leading the research project.

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For $25 a year, Google will keep a copy of any genome in the cloud

For $25 a year, Google will keep a copy of any genome in the cloud | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Google is approaching hospitals and universities with a new pitch. Have genomes? Store them with us. The search giant’s first product for the DNA age is Google Genomics, a cloud computing service that it launched last March but went mostly unnoticed amid a barrage of high profile R&D announcements from Google, like one late last month about a far-fetched plan to battle cancer with nanoparticles (see “Can Google Use Nanoparticles to Search for Cancer?”).


Google Genomics could prove more significant than any of these moonshots. Connecting and comparing genomes by the thousands, and soon by the millions, is what’s going to propel medical discoveries for the next decade. The question of who will store the data is already a point of growing competition between Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft.


Google began work on Google Genomics 18 months ago, meeting with scientists and building an interface, or API, that lets them move DNA data into its server farms and do experiments there using the same database technology that indexes the Web and tracks billions of Internet users.


“We saw biologists moving from studying one genome at a time to studying millions,” says David Glazer, the software engineer who led the effort and was previously head of platform engineering for Google+, the social network. “The opportunity is how to apply breakthroughs in data technology to help with this transition.”


Some scientists scoff that genome data remains too complex for Google to help with. But others see a big shift coming. When Atul Butte, a bioinformatics expert at Stanford heard Google present its plans this year, he remarked that he now understood “how travel agents felt when they saw Expedia.”


The explosion of data is happening as labs adopt new, even faster equipment for decoding DNA. For instance, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said that during the month of October it decoded the equivalent of one human genome every 32 minutes. That translated to about 200 terabytes of raw data.


This flow of data is smaller than what is routinely handled by large Internet companies (over two months, Broad will produce the equivalent of what gets uploaded to YouTube in one day) but it exceeds anything biologists have dealt with. That’s now prompting a wide effort to store and access data at central locations, often commercial ones. The National Cancer Institute said last month that it would pay $19 million to move copies of the 2.6 petabyte Cancer Genome Atlas into the cloud. Copies of the data, from several thousand cancer patients, will reside both at Google Genomics and in Amazon’s data centers.


The idea is to create “cancer genome clouds” where scientists can share information and quickly run virtual experiments as easily as a Web search, says Sheila Reynolds, a research scientist at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. “Not everyone has the ability to download a petabyte of data, or has the computing power to work on it,” she says.

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corneja's curator insight, November 27, 2014 7:20 PM

"Our genome in the cloud"... it sounds like the title of a song. Google is offering to keep genome data in the cloud.

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Complex life may be possible in only 10% of all galaxies

Complex life may be possible in only 10% of all galaxies | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Stellar explosions called gamma ray bursts emit beams of radiation that could render 90% of galaxies barren of complex life. The universe may be a lonelier place than previously thought. Of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, only one in 10 can support complex life like that on Earth, a pair of astrophysicists argues. Everywhere else, stellar explosions known as gamma ray bursts would regularly wipe out any life forms more elaborate than microbes. The detonations also kept the universe lifeless for billions of years after the big bang, the researchers say.


"It's kind of surprising that we can have life only in 10% of galaxies and only after 5 billion years," says Brian Thomas, a physicist at Washburn University in Topeka who was not involved in the work. But "my overall impression is that they are probably right" within the uncertainties in a key parameter in the analysis.


Scientists have long mused over whether a gamma ray burst could harm Earth. The bursts were discovered in 1967 by satellites designed to spot nuclear weapons tests and now turn up at a rate of about one a day. They come in two types. Short gamma ray bursts last less than a second or two; they most likely occur when two neutron stars or black holes spiral into each other. Long gamma ray bursts last for tens of seconds and occur when massive stars burn out, collapse, and explode. They are rarer than the short ones but release roughly 100 times as much energy. A long burst can outshine the rest of the universe in gamma rays, which are highly energetic photons.


That seconds-long flash of radiation itself wouldn't blast away life on a nearby planet. Rather, if the explosion were close enough, the gamma rays would set off a chain of chemical reactions that would destroy the ozone layer in a planet's atmosphere. With that protective gas gone, deadly ultraviolet radiation from a planet’s sun would rain down for months or years—long enough to cause a mass die-off.


How likely is that to happen? Tsvi Piran, a theoretical astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Raul Jimenez, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Barcelona in Spain, explore that apocalyptic scenario in a paper in press at Physical Review Letters.

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Jeff Morris's curator insight, November 26, 2014 12:08 PM

10% of 100 billion still leaves 10 billion! That's 10,000,000,000!

♥ princess leia ♥'s curator insight, November 28, 2014 11:20 AM

And a galaxy far faraway

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Certain 'memories' pass between generations

Certain 'memories' pass between generations | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Behavior can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory, animal studies suggest. Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations.


A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their "grandchildren". Experts said the results were important for phobia and anxiety research. The animals were trained to fear a smell similar to cherry blossom. The team at the Emory University School of Medicine, in the US, then looked at what was happening inside the sperm.


They showed a section of DNA responsible for sensitivity to the cherry blossom scent was made more active in the mice's sperm. Both the mice's offspring, and their offspring, were "extremely sensitive" to cherry blossom and would avoid the scent, despite never having experienced it in their lives. Changes in brain structure were also found.


"The experiences of a parent, even before conceiving, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations," the report concluded. The findings provide evidence of "trans-generational epigenetic inheritance" - that the environment can affect an individual's genetics, which can in turn be passed on.


Prof Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, said the findings were "highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders" and provided "compelling evidence" that a form of memory could be passed between generations. He commented: "It is high time public health researchers took human trans-generational responses seriously. "I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach."

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Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry's curator insight, November 28, 2014 11:41 AM

Interesting...and in my family, anecdotal evidence suggests....

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Body's bacteria may keep our brains healthy and the blood-brain barrier intact

Body's bacteria may keep our brains healthy and the blood-brain barrier intact | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The microbes that live in your body outnumber your cells 10 to one. Recent studies suggest these tiny organisms help us digest food and maintain our immune system. Now, researchers have discovered yet another way microbes keep us healthy: They are needed for closing the blood-brain barrier, a molecular fence that shuts out pathogens and molecules that could harm the brain.


The findings suggest that a woman's diet or exposure to antibiotics during pregnancy may influence the development of this barrier. The work could also lead to a better understanding of multiple sclerosis, in which a leaky blood-brain barrier may set the stage for a decline in brain function.


The first evidence that bacteria may help fortify the body’s biological barriers came in 2001. Researchers discovered that microbes in the gut activate genes that code for gap junction proteins, which are critical to building the gut wall. Without these proteins, gut pathogens can enter the bloodstream and cause disease.


In the new study, intestinal biologist Sven Pettersson and his postdoc Viorica Braniste of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm decided to look at the blood-brain barrier, which also has gap junction proteins. They tested how leaky the blood-brain barrier was in developing and adult mice. Some of the rodents were brought up in a sterile environment and thus were germ-free, with no detectable microbes in their bodies. Braniste then injected antibodies—which are too big to get through the blood-brain barrier—into embryos developing within either germ-free moms or moms with the typical microbes, or microbiota.


The studies showed that the blood-brain barrier typically forms a tight seal a little more than 17 days into development. Antibodies infiltrated the brains of all the embryos younger than 17 days, but they continued to enter the brains of embryos of germ-free mothers well beyond day 17, the team reports online today in Science Translational Medicine. Embryos from germ-free mothers also had fewer intact gap junction proteins, and gap junction protein genes in their brains were less active, which may explain the persistent leakiness.

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Vloasis's curator insight, November 22, 2014 11:04 AM

So basically, embryos from germ-free mothers did not develop as efficiently, or as well?