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Peto's paradox: Why do larger animals such as whales or elephants get fewer cancers than humans?

Peto's paradox: Why do larger animals such as whales or elephants get fewer cancers than humans? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

If every living cell had an equal chance of becoming cancerous, whales and elephants should have a greater risk of developing cancer than do humans or mice. But across species, the occurrence of cancer does not show a correlation with body mass. According to a new model, the paradox could be explained if animals were striking a balance between reducing cancer risk and other priorities, such as maximising the number of offspring.

 

The lack of correlation between body mass and cancer risk is known as Peto’s paradox, after epidemiologist Richard Peto of Oxford University in the UK, who noted it in the 1970s. Evolutionary biologists think that it results from larger animals using protective mechanisms that many smaller animals do not.

 

In an attempt to identify how greater body mass might foster such mechanisms, evolutionary biologist Benjamin Roche at the Institute of Research for Development in Montpellier, France, and his colleagues created a theoretical model to simulate which of 100 possible genetic-mutation strategies would become most prevalent over 4,000 generations.

 

The model included two gene types: proto-oncogenes, which can cause normal cells to become cancerous, and tumour-suppressor genes, which repair cellular damage that could otherwise lead to cancer. For carcinogenesis to occur, the team assumed that proto-oncogenes must be activated and tumour-suppressor genes must be rendered inactive.

 

“We found that tumour-suppressor genes and proto-oncogenes react differently along a gradient of body masses,” says Roche. “Their evolutionary dynamics are linked.” Proto-oncogene activation decreased steadily with increasing body mass, the team found.

 
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Groundwater Activity on Mars and Implications for a Deep Biosphere

Groundwater Activity on Mars and Implications for a Deep Biosphere | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The subsurface environment on Mars may hold clues to the origin of life, scientists argue in a recently published research article led by Planetary Science Institute's Joseph Michalski. A large fraction of the life on Earth may exist as microbes deep underground on our home planet. The same could have been true in the past on Mars.

 

"Recent results produced by several authors using data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars instrument aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have shown that the subsurface of Mars was widely altered by subsurface water" Michalski said.

 

"Here, we argue that all of the ingredients for life existed in the subsurface, and it may have been the most habitable part of Mars." In some cases, those deep fluids, which could have harbored life, have emerged from the subsurface in deep basins, he said.

 

Michalski found that McLaughlin Crater, one of the deepest craters on Mars, contains evidence of clays and carbonates that probably formed in an alkaline, groundwater-fed lake.

 

McLaughlin Crater has a diameter of 57 miles and a depth of 1.4 miles.

"Taken together, the observations in McLaughlin Crater provide the best evidence for carbonate forming within a lake environment instead of being washed into a crater from outside. It would have been an alkaline lake, a habitable environment for microbial life," said PSI Research Scientist Michalski, lead author of the recently published Nature Geosciences paper"Groundwater Activity on Mars and Implications for a Deep Biosphere".

 

"The most interesting aspect of Mars science, perhaps, is that the planet might provide a window into our own past. The environmental conditions on Earth and Mars were likely similar early on, at least in the subsurface," Michalski said. "Exploring those rocks on Mars would be like finding a stack of pages that have been ripped out of Earth's geologic history book. Whether they contain life or not, they would certainly teach us a tremendous amount about early chemical processes in the solar system."

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Micron Readies Hybrid Memory Cube for Debut

Micron Readies Hybrid Memory Cube for Debut | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The next-generation memory-maker Micron Technology was one of the many innovative companies demonstrating its wares on the Supercomputing Conference (SC12) show floor last November. Micron's General Manager of Hybrid Technology Scott Graham was on hand to discuss the latest developments in their Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) technology, a multi-chip module (MCM) that aims to address one of the biggest challenges in high performance computing: scaling the memory wall.

 

Memory architectures haven't kept pace with the bandwidth requirements of multicore processors. As microprocessor speeds out-accelerated DRAM memory speeds, a bottleneck developed that is referred to as the memory wall. Stacked memory applications, however, enable higher memory bandwidth.

 

The Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) is a new memory architecture that combines a high-speed logic layer with a stack of through-silicon-via (TSV) bonded memory die that enables impressive advantages over current technology. According to company figures, a single HMC offers a 15x performance increase and uses 70 percent less energy per bit when compared to DDR3 memory, and takes up 90 percent less space than today's RDIMMs. The Cube is also scalable per application, which is not possible with DDR3 and DDR4. System designers have the option of employing the HMC as near memory for best performance or in a scalable module form factor, as far memory, for optimum power efficiency.

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Augmented Reality Glasses Restore Depth Perception To People Blind in One Eye

Augmented Reality Glasses Restore Depth Perception To People Blind in One Eye | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Being able to see with both eyes comes with a perk: the ability to judge distance in 3D. Say, between a plate of food on the table and the saltshaker, or the space between the front of your car and the bumprt of the vehicle ahead of you.

 

People who’ve lost sight in one eye can still see with the other, but they lack binocular depth perception.

 

Some of them could benefit from a pair of augmented reality glasses being built at theUniversity of Yamanashi in Japan, that artificially introduces a feeling of depth in a person’s healthy eye.

 

The group, led by Xiaoyang Mao, started out with a pair of commercially available 3D glasses, the daintily named Wrap 920AR, manufactured by Vuzix Corporation. (Vuzix is also building another AR headset called the M100 that on first sight looks like quite the competitor to toGoogle Glass.)

 

The Wrap 920AR looks like a pair of regular tinted glasses, but with small cameras poking out of each lens. The lenses are transparent and the device, Vuzix explains on its website, both captures and projects images, giving the wearer of the device front-row seats to a 2D or 3D AR show transmitted from a computer.

 

 

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Nearly perfect: Ultrathin invisibility cloak could have wide practical applications

Nearly perfect: Ultrathin invisibility cloak could have wide practical applications | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers have created a dc invisibility cloak made of a metamaterial that not only shields an object almost perfectly, but at 1-cm thick is also the thinnest cloak ever constructed, reaching the ultimate limit of thinness for artificial materials. As the first invisibility cloak that combines both near-perfect performance and extreme thinness, it could open the doors to practical applications. In the past, invisibility cloaks have been too large to be used in many real-world applications.

 

The key to making a material that can prevent another object from being seen—or from being detected by electromagnetic waves in any way—is to control two material parameters: electric permittivity and magnetic permeability. Electric permittivity corresponds to the degree to which a material permits the formation of an electric field within itself, while magnetic permeability corresponds to the degree to which a material can be permeated by a magnetic field.


As the researchers explain, a perfect invisibility cloak must have a permittivity and permeability that are both strongly anisotropic (directionally dependent) and inhomogeneous (made of different materials). A metamaterial with these parameters is currently beyond the reach of current technology. However, by loosening these strict requirements, researchers have been able to fabricate metamaterials that mimic these properties and can be used as imperfect invisibility cloaks.

 

The researchers hope that this invisibility cloak could make it possible to realize a variety of applications, such as electric impedance tomography (EIT), a medical imaging technique that can detect cancer. Another application could be cloaking or detecting land mines. "Electrostatics has wide potential applications in EIT technology, graphene, natural resource exploration, and underground archaeology," Cui said. "In our paper, we designed and fabricated a dc cloak, which is possible to be used in such potential applications. The dc cloak may be used to cloaking the landmines to make them invisible. Knowing the physical principle, we may also find ways to detect the cloaked landmines."


In the near future, the researchers plan to study three-dimensional ultra-thin dc cloaks and ultrathin cloaks for harmonic fields.

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Interview with George Church: Can Neanderthals Be Brought Back from the Dead?

Interview with George Church: Can Neanderthals Be Brought Back from the Dead? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a SPIEGEL interview, synthetic biology expert George Church of Harvard University explains how DNA will become the building material of the future -- one that can help create virus-resistant human beings and possibly bring back lost species like the Neanderthal.

 

George Church, 58, is a pioneer in synthetic biology, a field whose aim is to create synthetic DNA and organisms in the laboratory. During the 1980s, the Harvard University professor of genetics helped initiate the Human Genome Project that created a map of the human genome. In addition to his current work in developing accelerated procedures for sequencing and synthesizing DNA, he has also been involved in the establishing of around two dozen biotech firms. In his new book, "Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves," which he has also encoded as strands of DNA and distributed on small DNA chips, Church sketches out a story of a second, man-made Creation.

 

SPIEGEL recently sat down with Church to discuss his new tome and the prospects for using synthetic biology to bring the Neanderthal back from exctinction as well as the idea of making humans resistant to all viruses.

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Rogier Warnawa's curator insight, March 20, 2013 7:46 PM

Groundbreaking research that has been done at Harvard University

 
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Zoomable photo of the Milky Way's center (1 Billion pixel mosaic)

Zoomable photo of the Milky Way's center (1 Billion pixel mosaic) | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

This image is a 1 billion pixel RVB mosaic of the galactic center region (340 millions pixels in each R,V and B color). It shows the region spanning from Sagittarius (with the Milky Way center and M8/M20 area on the left) to Scorpius (with colorful Antares and Rho Ophiuchus region on the right) and cat paw nebula (red nebula at the bottom). This mosaic was assembled from 52 different sky fields made from 1200 individual images and 200 hours total exposure time, final image size is 24000x14000 pixels. The images were taken with a SBIG STL camera + Takahashi FSQ106Ed f/3.6 telescope and NJP160 mount from the clear skies of ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. This mosaic is one of the three parts of the ESO Gigagalaxy Zoom project together with this incredible whole sky mosaic image by ESO/S.Brunier and this fantastic ESO mosaic image of the Lagoon nebula region.

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Cluster of genes act like a sex chromosome - “supergene” controls social behavior in fire ants

Cluster of genes act like a sex chromosome - “supergene” controls social behavior in fire ants | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

When invasive fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) were first discovered in the United States, scientists observed that their colonies each had a single queen, and that the ants were extremely aggressive toward individuals that immigrated from other colonies. However, they soon found that certain S. invicta colonies have multiple queens and even tend to adopt queens from other colonies. It turned out that different forms of a single gene, called Gp-9, determine a particular colony’s social system.

 

Now, scientists studying this gene have found that Gp-9 is part of a “supergene” that controls a large suite of traits related to sociality, and the chromosomes carrying this supergene behave a lot like sex chromosomes.

 

The Gp-9 gene determines whether S. invicta colonies will accept one queen or more; colonies composed of ants that are homozygous for one form of this gene will tolerate only one queen, while colonies that include heterozygous ants will tolerate multiple matriarchs. Gp-9 codes for an oderant-binding protein; these proteins specialize in helping pheromones and other odor molecules get from the environment to an animal’s olfactory receptors. It is likely, therefore, that chemical communication regulates the number of queens that are accepted into a colony.

 

But the two types of colonies differ in all sorts of other ways—aggressive behavior, colony initiation methods, and sperm production—that don’t depend on olfaction.  This led researchers to wonder whether Gp-9 is part of a “supergene,” a complex of tightly linked genes that coordinate a suite of characteristics and behaviors.

 

They were right: social behavior in this species does appear to be linked to a supergene.  It turns out that there is limited recombination (a form of genetic shuffling) between the pair of chromosomes that carry the two copies of Gp-9. This allows genes that are adaptive for a particular social system to accumulate together on a single chromosome. Because it's so advantageous, genes that confer benefits to a multiple-queen colony end up closely linked to the form of Gp-9 that controls this behavior.

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Parasitic DNA: Complete bacterial genome discovered inside genome of a Drosophila fruitfly

Parasitic DNA: Complete bacterial genome discovered inside genome of a Drosophila fruitfly | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists at the University of Rochester and the J. Craig Venter Institute have discovered a copy of the entire genome of Wolbachia, a bacterial parasite, residing inside the genome of its completely different host species Drosophila Ananassae, the fruitfly. To isolate the fly’s genome from the parasite’s, the flies were fed with a simple antibiotic, killing the Wolbachia, but Wolbachia genes were still there. The scientists found that the genes were residing directly inside the second chromosome of the insect, and that some of these genes are even transcribed in uninfected flies, so that copies of the gene sequence are made in cells that could be used to make Wolbachia proteins.

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Beam it up: NASA uses laser to send Mona Lisa to the moon

Beam it up: NASA uses laser to send Mona Lisa to the moon | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
NASA has turned the Mona Lisa into the first digital image to be transmitted via laser beam from Earth to a spacecraft in lunar orbit, nearly 240,000 miles away, thanks to a technology that may soon become routine.

 

NASA has turned the Mona Lisa into the first digital image to be transmitted via laser beam from Earth to a spacecraft in lunar orbit, nearly 240,000 miles away, thanks to a technology that may soon become routine.

 

The experiment took advantage of the laser-tracking system that's in operation aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling the moon for the past three and a half years. NASA sends regular laser pulses from the Next Generation Satellite Ranging station at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to the space probe's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, or LOLA, to measure its precise position in lunar orbit.

 

For last March's Mona Lisa maneuver, researchers encoded a black-and-white version of Leonardo da Vinci's enigmatic masterpiece as a series of values in a 152-by-200-pixel grid. Each value represented a shade of black to gray to white, ranging from zero to 4,095. The signal for each pixel was then piggybacked on the ranging station's laser-tracking pulses: Each pulse was fired during one of 4,096 super-short designated time slots, at a rate of about 300 bits per second.

 

A data rate of 300 bits per second may seem achingly slow by today's standards, but NASA is planning a higher-bandwidth laser communication demonstration for its next mission to the moon, known as the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. When LADEE is launched in August, it will carry an experimental laser system that's designed to transmit data at a rate exceeding 600 million bits per second.

 

In 2017, NASA is due to send an experiment called the Laser Communications Radar Demonstrationinto orbit aboard a commercial satellite to test a full-fledged, beam-based communication system. Studies suggest that laser systems have the potential to transmit data at rates 10 to 100 times faster than traditional radio systems for the same mass and power, or match radio's data rate with a smaller, more efficient package.

 

Who knows? Mona Lisa may well mark the start of a renaissance in high-speed satellite communications.

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New Metamaterial Camera Has Super-Fast Microwave Vision

New Metamaterial Camera Has Super-Fast Microwave Vision | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A small, microwave-detecting camera that can see through solid materials in real time has been developed. Soon, the device could be adapted and used in law enforcement and security where, among other uses, its inventors envision airport scanners that screen passengers for weapons or explosives as they walk by.


The camera features a one-dimensional aperture made from a copper-based metamaterial. Fashioned from plastics or metals, metamaterials behave in ways that ordinary materials naturally do not. Some can cloak objects. Others can reveal them. Here, scientists used the copper-based metamaterial as an aperture for microwaves, the telecommunications workhorses that populate the longer end of the electromagnetic spectrum. By connecting the aperture to an image-reconstructing computer, the researchers can capture information from a scene in real time, with no moving parts.

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Super-omniphobic surface repels almost any liquid, whether oil or water based

Super-omniphobic surface repels almost any liquid, whether oil or water based | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A material that is equally good at repelling water, oil, concentrated acid and alkali solutions, and non-Newtonian fluids like polymer solutions has been created by chemists in the US. This chemical resistance combined with the simple, scalable production process makes it promising for protective and self-cleaning surface applications.

 

Anish Tuteja from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor explains that while a lot of effort has been directed towards creating ‘self-cleaning’superomniphobic surfaces that repel both oily and water-based liquids, less attention has been paid to non-Newtonian fluids.

 

Viscous substances like custard, honey and solutions containing polymers change the way they flow depending on the forces applied to them. They can also absorb a lot more energy by deforming when they hit a surface. ‘It’s very hard to get non-Newtonian liquids to bounce off surfaces,’ Tuteja explains. Even adding 0.2wt% of a polymer to water can make a droplet stick to a surface where pure water droplets would bounce off, he says, ‘but in this case, even at concentrations of 10–20wt% polymer we can still get droplets or jets of these solutions to bounce off’.

 

‘Normally when people talk about superhydrophobic or superomniphobic surfaces, they talk about wetting, which is a measure of the shape that droplets make on the surface and their contact angles,’ says Sergiy Minko, who researches smart polymer materials at Clarkson University in Potsdam, US. In a static system wetting is independent of the viscosity and rheology of the liquid. But as soon as any force is applied, for example when trying to remove a droplet from a surface, it becomes very important.
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Not an easy task: Finding cancer-specific genomics fingerprints

Not an easy task: Finding cancer-specific genomics fingerprints | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's cancer genome project have developed a computer model to identify the fingerprints of DNA-damaging processes that drive cancer development. Armed with these signatures, scientists will be able to search for the chemicals, biological pathways and environmental agents responsible.

 

"For a long time we have known that mutational signatures exist in cancer," says Dr Peter Campbell, Head of the cancer genome project and co-senior author of the paper. "For example UV light and tobacco smoke both produce very specific signatures in a person's genome. Using our computational framework, we expect to uncover and identify further mutational signatures that are diagnostic for specific DNA-damaging processes, shedding greater light on how cancer develops."

 

The computer model will help to overcome a fundamental problem in studying cancer genomes: that the DNA contains not only the mutations that have contributed to cancer development, but also an entire lifetime's worth of other mutations that have also been acquired. These mutations are layered on top of each other and trying to unpick the individual mutations, when they appeared, and the processes that caused them is a daunting task.

 

"The problem we have solved can be compared to the well-known cocktail party problem," explains Ludmil Alexandrov, first author of the paper from Sanger Institute. "At a party there are lots of people talking simultaneously and, if you place microphones all over the room, each one will record a mixture of all the conversations. To understand what is going on you need to be able to separate out the individual discussions. The same is true in cancer genomics. We have catalogues of mutations from cancer genomes and each catalogue contains the signatures of all the mutational processes that have acted on that patient's genome since birth. Our model allows us to identify the signatures produced by different mutation-causing processes within these catalogues."


To identify individual sets of mutations produced by a particular DNA-damaging agent, the cancer genome project at the Sanger Institute simulated cancer genomes and developed a technique to search for these mutational signatures. This approach proved to be very successful. The research team then explored the genomes of 21 breast cancer patients and identified five mutational signatures of cancer-causing processes in the real world.

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Cotton with special coating collects totally pure water from desert fog

Cotton with special coating collects totally pure water from desert fog | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) researchers together with researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), have developed a special treatment for cotton fabric that allows the cotton to absorb exceptional amounts of water from misty air: 340% of its own weight. What makes this 'coated cotton' so interesting is that the cotton releases the collected water by itself, as it gets warmer. This property makes of the coated cotton materials a potential solution to provide water to the desert regions, for example for agricultural purposes. 

 

The researchers applied a coating of PNIPAAm, a polymer, to the cotton fabric. At lower temperatures, this cotton has a sponge-like structure at microscopic level. Up to a temperature of 34°C it is highly hydrophilic, in other words it absorbs water strongly. Through this property the cotton can absorb 340 % of its own weight of water from misty air – compared with only 18% without the PNIPAAm coating. Totally pure water In contrast, once the temperature raises the material becomes hydrophobic or water-repellant, and above 34°C the structure of the PNIPAAm-coated cotton is completely closed. When these high temperatures are reached the cotton has released all the absorbed water, which is totally pure. The research shows that this cycle can be repeated many times.

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Smart Material Team's curator insight, November 3, 2014 5:48 PM
odileseconde peau hydratante
Smart Material Team's curator insight, November 3, 2014 7:27 PM

odile

seconde peau hydratante

Ronan Delisle's comment, November 4, 2014 8:49 AM
Matériau qui capte l'humidité de l'air ambiante. Application pour l'hydratation. Mime le mécanisme de transpiration. Va dans le scope des materiaux qui captent l'humidité de l'air. Application dans l'hydratation. peut-être en tant que matériau, ou faire des masques. Peut remplacer la glycerine. Materiau de surface. Avoir des vrais matériaux qui maintiennent l'humidité. Questions : voir si ça ne pompe pas l'eau de la peau. Maintenir une atmosphère humide sans assecher la peau. Plutôt un masque ou dépot. Transformer ça en charge, divisé pour être mis en formule. Le concept au délà de cette technologie mais de collecter l'humidité ambiante pour exploitation hydratation
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Toxic Algae Bloom Possibly Linked to Mass Squid Suicides

Toxic Algae Bloom Possibly Linked to Mass Squid Suicides | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
A potent toxin in algal blooms may be causing drunken squid to fling themselves ashore to die.

 

Thousands of jumbo squid have beached themselves on central California shores this week, committing mass "suicide." But despite decades of study into the phenomenon in which the squid essentially fling themselves onto shore, the cause of these mass beachings have been a mystery.

 

But a few intriguing clues suggest poisonous algae that form so-called red tides may be intoxicating the Humboldt squidand causing the disoriented animals to swim ashore in Monterey Bay, said William Gilly, a marine biologist at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California.

 

Each of the strandings has corresponded to a red tide, in which algae bloom and release an extremely potent brain toxin, Gilly said. This fall, the red tides have occurred every three weeks, around the same time as the squid beachings, he said.

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UNC researchers use luminescent p16INK4a mice to track cancer and aging in real-time

UNC researchers use luminescent  p16INK4a mice to track cancer and aging in real-time | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

esearchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed a new method to visualize aging and tumor growth in mice using a gene closely linked to these processes.

 

Researchers have long known that the gene, p16INK4a (p16), plays a role in aging and cancer suppression by activating an important tumor defense mechanism called ‘cellular senescence’. The UNC team led by Norman Sharpless, MD, Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research and Deputy Cancer Center Director, has developed a strain of mice that turns on a gene from fireflies when the normal p16 gene is activated.  In cells undergoing senescence, the p16 gene is switched on, activating the firefly gene and causing the affected tissue to glow.

 

Throughout the entire lifespan of these mice, the researchers followed p16 activation by simply tracking the brightness of each animal.    They found that old mice are brighter than young mice, and that sites of cancer formation become extremely bright, allowing for the early identification of developing cancers.

 

“With these mice, we can visualize in real-time the activation of cellular senescence, which prevents cancer but causes aging.  We can literally see the earliest molecular stages of cancer and aging in living mice.” said Sharpless.

 

The researchers envision immediate practical uses for these mice.  By providing a visual indication of the activation cellular senescence, the mice will allow researchers to test substances and exposures that promote cellular aging (“gerontogen testing”) in the same way that other mouse models currently allow toxicologists to identify cancer-causing substances (“carcinogen testing”).  Moreover, these mice are already being used by scientists at UNC and other institutions to identify early cancer development and the response of tumors to anti-cancer treatments.

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Gamma-ray burst may have hit Medieval Earth in the 8th Century

Gamma-ray burst may have hit Medieval Earth in the 8th Century | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A gamma ray burst, the most powerful explosion known in the Universe, may have hit the Earth in the 8th Century. Gamma-ray bursts can occur when two neutron stars merge. 

 

In 2012 researchers found evidence that our planet had been struck by a blast of radiation during the Middle Ages, but there was debate over what kind of cosmic event could have caused this. Now a study suggests it was the result of two black holes or neutron stars merging in our galaxy.

 

Observations of deep space suggest that gamma ray-bursts are rare. They are thought to happen at the most every 10,000 years per galaxy, and at the least every million years per galaxy.

 

It is unlikely that planet Earth would see another one soon, but if we did, this time it could make more of an impact.

 

If a cosmic explosion happened at the same distance as the 8th Century event, it could knock out our satellites. But if it occurred even closer - just a few hundred light-years away - it would destroy our ozone layer, with devastating effects for life on Earth.

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'Quadruple helix' DNA discovered in human cells

'Quadruple helix' DNA discovered in human cells | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

When Watson and Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, they declared they had “found the secret of life”. However, as in all pursuits of science, the story did not end there. Less than 60 years later, a team led by chemist Professor Shankar Balasubramanian and cancer biologist Professor Steve Jackson has found that an unusual four-stranded configuration of DNA also forms at sites across the human genome in living cells. Although known about by scientists for decades, the structure was considered to be something of a structural curiosity rather than a feature found in nature. It forms in regions of DNA that are rich in one of its building blocks, guanine (G), when a single strand of the double-stranded DNA loops out and doubles back on itself, forming a four-stranded ‘handle’ in the genome. G-quadruplexes have been known to occur at the ends of chromosomes in the regions known as telomeres, but it wasn’t until a strong association had been noticed with genes responsible for cell proliferation that Balasubramanian and others began to suspect that G-quadruplexes might be a potential target for cancer therapy.


“If you synthesize a quadruplex-binding molecule and put it into cancer cells, it can impair the growth of these cells,” he said. “We’ve come such a long way from thinking that we understand the genome – and it appeared that this structure could tell us something new.”


By targeting quadruplexes with synthetic molecules that trap and contain these DNA structures - preventing cells from replicating their DNA and consequently blocking cell division - scientists believe it may be possible to halt the runaway cell proliferation at the root of cancer.


"We are seeing links between trapping the quadruplexes with molecules and the ability to stop cells dividing, which is hugely exciting," said Professor Shankar Balasubramanian from the University of Cambridge's Department of Chemistry and Cambridge Research Institute, whose group produced the research. "The research indicates that quadruplexes are more likely to occur in genes of cells that are rapidly dividing, such as cancer cells. For us, it strongly supports a new paradigm to be investigated - using these four-stranded structures as targets for personalised treatments in the future."

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Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates As An Animation Showing 2299 Transits As Hi-Def Video

Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates As An Animation Showing 2299 Transits As Hi-Def Video | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

This animation shows the 2299 high-quality (multiple transits), non-circumbinary transiting planet candidates found by NASA's Kepler mission so far. These candidates were detected around 1770 unique stars, but are animated in orbit around a single star. They are drawn to scale with accurate radii (in r / r* ), orbital periods, and orbital distances (in d / r*). They range in size from 1/3 to 84 times the radius of Earth. Colors represent an estimate of equilibrium temperature, ranging from 4,586 C at the hottest to -110 C at the coldest - red indicates warmest, and blue / indigo indicates coldest candidates.

Watching in full screen + HD is recommended, so you can see even the smallest planets!

The animation is rendered with a time-step of 30 minutes, equal to the long-cadence time sample of the Kepler observatory. Three white rings illustrate the average orbital distances of Mercury, Venus, and Earth on the same scale.

When the system is animated edge-on, it is clear that there is no time during which the sample of stars the Kepler spacecraft is observing does not contain a planet transiting a star. In fact, on average there are dozens of transits occurring amongst the Kepler sample at any given instant.

The Kepler observatory has detected a multitude of planet candidates orbiting distant stars. The current list contains 2321 planet candidates, though some of these have already been flagged as likely false-positives or contamination from binary stars. This animation does not contain circumbinary planets or planet candidates where only a single transit has been observed, which is why "only" 2299 are shown.

I have illustrated the planet candidates as if they orbit a single star. Using a transit lightcurve, a planet's distance from a star and its radius are both measured in terms of the host stars' radius, and those relationships are preserved here. This means that for two planets of equal size, if one orbits a larger star it will be drawn smaller here. Similarly, because the orbital distances scale with the host stars' sizes, some planets orbit faster than others at a given distance from the star in the animation (when in reality, planets on circular orbits around a given star always orbit at the same speed at a given distance). These faster-moving planets are orbiting denser stars.

A fraction of these candidates will likely be ruled out as false positives as time goes on, while the remainder stand to be confirmed as real planets by follow-up analysis. For example, the large orange object in a very close-in orbit was shown to be a background eclipsing binary blend by arxiv.org/abs/1207.2481

At the beginning of the animation, the grid of rectangles that briefly appears represents the focal plane array of CCD detectors onboard Kepler.

The current list of planet candidates can be found here: 
archive.stsci.edu/kepler/planet_candidates.html

Follow Kepler on Twitter:
twitter.com/NASAKepler Follow Alex Parker on Twitter:
twitter.com/Alex_Parker

Music: 2 Ghosts I, Nine Inch Nails.

Animation rendered with Python / PyLab.

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Rare Find: Huge New Species of Flying Frog Discovered in Vietnam Near Ho Chi Minh City

Rare Find: Huge New Species of Flying Frog Discovered in Vietnam Near Ho Chi Minh City | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The species, named Rhacophorus helenae or Helen’s Tree Frog, is bright green with a white belly and has webbed hands and feet like parachutes to glide from tree to tree.

 

Dr Rowley was stunned to discover the large, 10-cm-long species surprisingly close to the urban center with over 9 million people. “It was incredibly rare and very exciting to find a new species of frog less than 100km from one of the largest cities in South East Asia,” she said.

 

“To discover a previously unknown species of frog, I typically have to climb rugged mountains, scale waterfalls and push my way through dense and prickly rainforest vegetation,” Dr Rowley, lead author of a paper reporting the discovery in the Journal of Herpetology.

 

“I certainly didn’t expect to find a new species of frog sitting on a fallen tree in lowland forest criss-crossed by a network of paths made by people and water buffalo, and completely surrounded by a sea of rice-paddies.”

“The large frog has likely evaded biologists until now by spending most of its time out of sight, in the canopy of large trees.”

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Astronomers discover remnants of 1,500 km long river on Mars

Astronomers discover remnants of 1,500 km long river on Mars | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

New astonishing pictures by the European Space Agency have revealed a 1500 km long and 7 kilometre wide river that once ran across Mars.

 

The agency’s Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the remnants of Reull Vallis river on Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera, ESA said in a statement.

 

New analogies are giving planetary geologists tantalising glimpses of a past on the Red Planet not too dissimilar to events on our own world today.

Reull Vallis, is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant martian past, cutting a steep-sided channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin.

This sinuous structure, which stretches for almost 1500 km across the martian landscape, is flanked by numerous tributaries, one of which can be clearly seen cutting in to the main valley towards the upper (north) side.

The new Mars Express images show a region of Reull Vallis at a point where the channel is almost 7 km wide and 300 m deep. The sides of Reull Vallis are particularly sharp and steep, with parallel longitudinal features covering the floor of the channel itself.

 

These structures are believed to be caused by the passage of loose debris and ice during the “Amazonian” period – which continues to this day – due to glacial flow along the channel.

 

The structures were formed long after it was originally carved by liquid water during the Hesperian period, which is believed to have ended between 3.5 billion and 1.8 billion years ago.

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The Sun seen at night through 8000 miles of Earth in “neutrino light”

The Sun seen at night through 8000 miles of Earth in “neutrino light” | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Not looking up at sky but down through 8000 miles of the Earth. Image of the Sun taken through the Earth, in “neutrino light”, at the Super-Kamiokande detector (Japan). The image has been obtained with a 503 days exposure, by registering neutrinos emitted from the solar core and detected in a 50 000-ton water pool located 1 km underground. At night, neutrinos were transparently traversing the whole earth before being registered in this image.


A neutrino is an elementary matter particle of almost zero mass, only interacting through weak nuclear forces and gravity, leading to its unimpeded traveling through ordinary solid matter at almost the speed of light. During a rare interaction between a neutrino and an electron in the water, the electron is accelerated at a speed greater than the speed of light in water, producing a pulse of light -called Cherenkov radiation- similar to a supersonic boom. These pulses are detected by thousands of light amplifiers disposed everywhere on the pool surface.

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Regulators approve new Baculovirus-encoded insect cell-produced flu vaccine

Regulators approve new Baculovirus-encoded insect cell-produced flu vaccine | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

As flu season rages across the United States, federal regulators say they have approved a new kind of vaccine for the virus.

 

The new product, Flublok, which is available in limited supplies for the current season, is different from other flu vaccines, because it isn't made using eggs or an influenza virus, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

 

Instead, Flublok's production involves programming insect cells grown in steel tanks to produce large amounts of a particular flu virus protein, known as hemagglutinin, according to Protein Sciences, the vaccine's manufacturer.

Most human antibodies that fight flu infection are directed against hemagglutinin, the FDA said.

 

Flu vaccine attitudes abroad differ from U.S. This method allows for more rapid production, making more of the vaccine available more quickly in the event of a pandemic, the FDA said.

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Chips that can steer light

Chips that can steer light | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
If you want to create a moving light source, you have a few possibilities. One is to mount a light emitter in some kind of mechanical housing—the approach used in, say, theatrical spotlights, which stagehands swivel and tilt to track performers.

 

Another possibility, however, is to create an array of light emitters and vary their "phase"—the alignment of the light waves they produce. The out-of-phase light waves interfere with one another, reinforcing each other in some directions but annihilating each other in others. The result is a light source that doesn't move, but can project a beam in any direction. Such "phased arrays" have been around for more than a century, used most commonly in radar transmitters, which can be as much as 100 feet tall. But in this week's issue of Nature, researchers from MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) describe a 4,096-emitter array that fits on a single silicon chip. Chips that can steer beams of light could enable a wide range of applications, including cheaper, more efficient, and smaller laser rangefinders; medical-imaging devices that can be threaded through tiny blood vessels; and even holographic televisions that emit different information when seen from different viewing angles. In their Nature paper, the MIT authors—Michael Watts, an associate professor of electrical engineering, Jie Sun, a graduate student in Watts' lab and first author on the paper, Sun's fellow graduate students Erman Timurdogan and Ami Yaacobi, and Ehsan Shah Hosseini, an RLE postdoc—report on two new chips. Both chips take in laser light and re-emit it via tiny antennas etched into the chip surface.

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The Worldwide Vulnerability of Forests

The Worldwide Vulnerability of Forests | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Many trees operate with only a narrow margin of safety when it comes to their water supply, so many of the world's important forest species are vulnerable to hydraulic failure.

 

A warming climate creates summertime water stress for trees like these mountain pines in Montana, making them more vulnerable to attack by beetles. The gray trees above died several years ago.


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL
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