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Amazing Science: Biotech Postings

Amazing Science: Biotech Postings | Amazing Science |

The concept of 'biotech' or 'biotechnology' encompasses a wide range of procedures for modifying living organisms according to human purposes, going back to domestication of animals, cultivation of plants, and "improvements" to these through breeding programs that employ artificial selection and hybridization. Biotechnology bases on pure biological sciences (genetics, microbiology, animal cell culture, molecular biology, biochemistry, embryology, cell biology) and can be defined as the mere application of technical advances in life science to develop commercial products.

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Amazing Science: Bioinformatics Postings

Amazing Science: Bioinformatics Postings | Amazing Science |

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that develops and improves upon methods for storing, retrieving, organizing and analyzing biological data. A major activity in bioinformatics is to develop software tools to generate useful biological knowledge. Bioinformatics has become an important part of many areas of biology. In experimental molecular biology, bioinformatics techniques such as image and signal processing allow extraction of useful results from large amounts of raw data. In the field of genetics and genomics, it aids in annotating genomes and their observed mutations.

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Amazing Science: Astronomy Postings

Amazing Science: Astronomy Postings | Amazing Science |

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences and studies celestial objects (such as moons, planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies), the physics, chemistry, mathematics, and evolution of such objects, and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth, including supernovae explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic background radiation. Theoretical astronomy is oriented towards the development of computer or analytical models to describe celestrial phenomena. A related but distinct subject, cosmology, is concerned with studying the universe as a whole.

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Amazing Science: Anthropology Postings

Amazing Science: Anthropology Postings | Amazing Science |

Evolutionary anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of the evolution of human physiology and human behavior and the relation between hominids and non-hominid primates. Studies of biological evolution generally concern the evolution of the human form. Note that cultural evolution is not the same as biological evolution. Evolutionary anthropology also studies human anatomy, endocrinology, and neurobiology and differences and changes between species, variation between human groups, the relationships to cultural factors, and the interaction of humans with their environment.

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Moon Express: The world's first mission to the South Pole of the Moon by 2016

Moon Express: The world's first mission to the South Pole of the Moon by 2016 | Amazing Science |

The world's first mission to the South Pole of the Moon was announced recently by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and Moon Express, Inc. The private enterprise mission will be both scientific and commercial, and will deliver the International Lunar Observatory (ILO) to the Moon's South Pole aboard a Moon Express robotic lander, establishing permanent astrophysical observations and lunar commercial communications systems for professional and amateur researchers.


Moon Express will also utilize the mission to explore the Moon’s South Pole for mineral resources and water. Lunar probes have provided compelling evidence of mineral and volatile deposits in the Moon’s southern polar region where energy and resources may be very abundant.

The ILO, with its 2-meter antenna dish, will be the world’s first instrument to conduct international astrophysical observations and communications from the lunar surface, providing scientific research, commercial broadcasting and enabling Galaxy 21st Century education and "citizen science" on the Moon.

The announcement was made during a NASA Lunar Science Institute conference at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. “The ILO will demonstrate the value of the Moon for scientific study of the Galaxy, Moon, Earth, Sun and Stars,” said Steve Durst, founder and director of the ILOA and Space Age Publishing Company.


“We are a global consortium of scientists, educators, entrepreneurs and visionaries who seek to establish a scientific presence on the Moon followed by human exploration and eventual settlement.” Space Age Publishing Company, ILOA's commercial affiliate, intends to broadcast its Space Calendar weekly and Lunar Enterprise Daily via the ILO. ILOA expects that the South Pole mission could take place as early as 2016 and contribute to humanity’s growth as a multi-world species.


Moon Express is the mission partner in the venture, providing the lunar lander, mission architecture and operations. The company was unveiled in August 2010 as a commercial lunar resource company and is partnered with NASA for its lunar lander development. Moon Express will send a series of robotic missions to the Moon in support of science, commerce and exploration starting in 2015.

The International Lunar Observatory is destined for a Malapert Mountain site near the Moon's South Pole for galaxy / astronomy observation and communication.

“We are very excited to our announce that our second Moon mission will be to the lunar South Pole to deliver the International Lunar Observatory and to prospect for resources,” said Moon Express CEO Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards.

“The mission will provide a historic landing in an unexplored region of the Moon that may harbor some of the greatest resource deposits in the solar system.”

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Life-sized, human holograms could soon grace your living room

Life-sized, human holograms could soon grace your living room | Amazing Science |

Whether it was Princess Leia or the shark from Back to the Future 2, there was likely a movie moment that made you wish holograms were not only real, but that you could have one. And while hologram projectors exist in today's world, they're far from a universally accepted bit of tech. But now, one of the leading names in hologram projection is hoping to create something that we'll all want to own: a human-sized hologram.


This is not some projected-on-glass quasi-hologram, either. HoloVision, as the product is being called, promises to be a free-floating, life-sized image which will hover an impressive eight feet from its projector. That's better than R2D2 can muster. It'll also be full color, leaving the astromechs of science fiction squarely in the dust.


There will be limitations, however. It's easy to think that a life-sized human being, standing in your living room, would be capable of giving you a hug, for instance. But if that breakthrough is coming, it hasn't arrived yet. Holodeck creations these are not. And images projected through the magic of HoloVision won't be able to follow you into the kitchen for a snack either — not unless you've got a whole network of HoloVision cameras, anyway.


But with those limitations aside, HoloVision really seems like it could become a part of our lives — if it comes to fruition. The company behind


HoloVision, Provision 3D Media, is currently running a Kickstarter in the hope of raising $950,000 to bring the tech to life. And while a human-sized hologram is their current goal, Provision sees the future of their products as being as large or small as we need them to be, entirely interactive, and fully integrated into our daily lives. Basically, they want to give us all Tony Stark's workshop. But that's down the line.


As for now, a life-sized full-color Princess Leia will have to do. Catch the video below to check out the HoloVision concept and how it might look if it becomes a reality.

Via TechinBiz
Eileen Kennedy's curator insight, July 31, 2013 6:23 AM

Does this mean life size tutor holograms are coming soon? #edtech

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Cheating Death: The Immortal Life Cycle of Turritopsis

Cheating Death: The Immortal Life Cycle of Turritopsis | Amazing Science |

While colonial animals can have their immortality, solitary individuals are doomed to die. Hydrozoan cnidarians usually have a complex life cycle, wherein a colonial stage leads to the sexually mature, solitary, adult stage. Eggs and sperm from solitary, sexual, adult medusa (jellyfish) develop into an embryo and planula larva, and they then form the colonial polyp stage. Medusae are formed asexually from polyps. These medusae have a limited lifespan and die shortly after releasing their gametes.


The hydrozoan Turritopsis nutricula has evolved a remarkable variation on this theme, and in so doing appears to have achieved immortality. The solitary medusa of this species can revert to its polyp stage after becoming sexually mature (Bavestrello et al., 1992; Piraino et al., 1996). In the laboratory, 100% of these medusae regularly undergo this change. Thus, it is possible that organismic death does not occur in this species!


How does Turritopsis accomplish this feat? It can do this because it can alter the differentiated state of a cell, transforming it into another cell type. Such a phenomenon is called transdifferentiation, and it is usually seen only when parts of an organ regenerate. However, it appears to occur normally in theTurritopsis life cycle (Figure 2). In this transdifferentiation process, the medusa is transformed into the stolons and polyps of a hydroid colony. First, the umbrella everts and the tentacles and mesoglea (the middle layer) are resorbed. The everted medusa attach to the substrate by the end that had been at the opposite end of the umbrella, and spawning occurs shortly thereafter. The cnidarian then secretes a perisarc (stolon covering) and stolons. Two days after the stolons are first seen, polyps differentiate. These polyps feed on zooplankton and soon are budding off new medusae.


The cells that accomplish the building of a new stolon are probably those of the exumbrella (the upper portion of the jellyfish dome). Transformation into stolons only occurs in fragments that contain tissues of the exumbrella and the ring canals, and the exumbrella tissue is the only tissue of the medusa that can transdifferentiate into the perisarc-secreting epidermal tissue of the stolons (Piraino et al., 1996). (The endoderm of the ring canals probably becomes the endoderm of the stolon and polyps.) It is not known whether the sensory cells, myoepithelial cells, and cnidocytes are derived from the exumbrella or the endodermal component.


Turritopsis nutricula is the first case in which a metazoan is capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary stage. Thus, it appears that it has cheated death and is a potentially immortal, solitary metazoan.

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Amazing Science : Most Popular Postings

Amazing Science : Most Popular Postings | Amazing Science |

Your ultimate online portal to the future. Reporting on what's new and what's next in technology, science, gadgets, astronomy, physics, math, green tech and much more. We are aggregating science news from over 1,600 international news sources and select the best science news every day, 7 days a week, 24 hours per day. A ranking algorithm preselects the postings. Dubious non-peer reviewed science is filtered out. Amazing Science is the ultimate source to stay on top of the ever changing disciplines of science and get have a scientific resource to your disposal that is unpresidented.

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First primitive eyes developed 500 million years ago

First primitive eyes developed 500 million years ago | Amazing Science |

Prof Trevor Lamb of the Australian National University has published a major scientific review of the origin of the vertebrate eye and vision, summarizing the results of hundreds of studies.


The deep origins of ‘sight’ go back more than 700 million years when the earth was inhabited only by single-celled amoeba-like animals, algae, corals and bacteria. At this time the first light-sensitive chemicals, known as opsins, made their appearance and were used in rudimentary ways by some organisms to sense day from night.


Over the following 200 million years those simple light-sensitive cells and their opsins slowly and progressively became better at detecting light until around 500 million years ago they already closely resembled the cone cells of our present day eyes.


Prof. Lamb, who published the review in the journal Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, explained that the first true eyes, consisting of clumps of light-sensing cells, only start to show up in the Cambrian, about 500 million years ago – and represent a huge leap in the evolutionary arms race.


“For example there is Anomalocaris, a meter-long predator like a giant scorpion which had eyes the size of marbles, with which to navigate the ancient seas and locate its prey. This beast, which employed the ‘insect eye’ model with many facets, had no fewer than 16,000 facets containing vision cells, in each eye.”


“This generates an avalanche of information, known as optic flow, running from the eyes and along the creature’s nervous system. This all has to be processed, so we also begin to see the rapid development of a central nervous system able to cope with such immense amounts of data, continually provided by the eyes and other sensory organs from the world around the animal.”


“For the first time animals begin to ‘see’ the complex landscape which they inhabit.” Our type of eye, a single globe packing in millions of photoreceptors, first starts to emerge between 500-600 million years ago. This was the crucial moment for our vision system.

“Baby sea squirts have a simple eyespot called an ocellus, which is basically a bundle of photoreceptors. The adult animal loses this, as it becomes immobile, so vision is not important. This organ appears to date back at least 600 million years.”


“The hagfish has a patch of translucent skin on each side of the head where you’d expect to see its eyes, and buried beneath are a pair of very simple ‘eyes’ with light sensing cells and a simple optic nerve – but no muscles, lens or iris. Hagfish ancestors go back more than half a billion years, so this crude light sensing organ seems to have been the start of something big.”


Lampreys also appeared around 500 million years ago, and have a pair of camera-style eyes remarkably similar to our own. These appear to be direct forerunners of the vertebrate eye, which we have inherited through our fish ancestry.


“From this we can say that the vertebrate-style eye has been around at least 500 million years – and although its light-sensors and signaling systems are very similar to those of insects and other invertebrates, its optical system evolved quite independently from the insect-style eye with its many facets.”

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Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone

Seung-Schik Yoo of Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues created a non-invasive brain-to-brain interface that allowed human participants to move a rat's tail with their thoughts via EEG and focused ultrasound signals. Simply by thinking the appropriate thought, the BBI allows the human to control the rat’s tail. This is one of the most important steps towards BBIs that allow for telepathic links between two or more humans — which is a good thing in the case of friends and family, but terrifying if you stop to think about the nefarious possibilities of a fascist dictatorship with mind control tech.


In recent years there have been huge advances in the field of brain-computer interfaces, where your thoughts are detected and “understood” by a sensor attached to a computer, but relatively little work has been done in the opposite direction (computer-brain interfaces). This is because it’s one thing for a computer to work out what a human is thinking (by asking or observing their actions), but another thing entirely to inject new thoughts into a human brain. To put it bluntly, we have almost no idea of how thoughts are encoded by neurons in the brain. For now, the best we can do is create a computer-brain interface that stimulates a region of the brain that’s known to create a certain reaction — such as the specific part of the motor cortex that’s in charge of your fingers. We don’t have the power to move your fingers in a specific way — that would require knowing the brain’s encoding scheme — but we can make them jerk around.


Which brings us neatly onto Harvard’s human-mouse brain-to-brain interface. The human wears a run-of-the-mill EEG-based BCI, while the mouse is equipped with a focused ultrasound (FUS) computer-brain interface (CBI). FUS is a relatively new technology that allows the researchers to excite a very specific region of neurons in the rat’s brain using an ultrasound signal. The main advantage of FUS is that, unlike most brain-stimulation techniques, such as DBS, it isn’t invasive. For now it looks like the FUS equipment is fairly bulky, but future versions might be small enough for use in everyday human CBIs.

With the EEG equipped, the BCI detects whenever the human looks at a specific pattern on a computer screen. The BCI then fires off a command to rat’s CBI, which causes ultrasound to be beamed into the region of the rat’s motor cortex that deals with tail movement. As you can see in the video above, this causes the rat’s tail to move. The researchers report that the human BCI has an accuracy of 94%, and that it generally takes around 1.5 seconds for the entire process — from the human deciding to look at the screen, through to the movement of the rat’s tail. In theory, the human could trigger a rodent tail-wag by simply thinking about it, rather than having to look at a specific pattern — but presumably, for the sake of this experiment, the researchers wanted to focus on the FUS CBI, rather than the BCI.


Moving forward, the researchers now need to work on the transmitting of more complex ideas, such as hunger or sexual arousal, from human to rat. At some point, they’ll also have to put the FUS CBI on a human, to see if thoughts can be transferred in the opposite direction. Finally, we’ll need to combine an EEG and FUS into a single unit, to allow for bidirectional sharing of thoughts and ideas. Human-to-human telepathy is the most obvious use, but what if the same bidirectional technology also allows us to really communicate with animals, such as dogs? There would be huge ethical concerns, of course, especially if a dictatorial tyrant uses the tech to control our thoughts — but the same can be said of almost every futuristic, transhumanist technology.

Bernhard H. Schmitz's curator insight, July 31, 2013 12:14 PM

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

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Planetary runaway greenhouse scenario more easily triggered than previously thought

Planetary runaway greenhouse scenario more easily triggered than previously thought | Amazing Science |

It might be easier than previously thought for a planet to overheat into the scorchingly uninhabitable “runaway greenhouse” stage, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington and the University of Victoria published July 28, 2013, in the journal Nature Geoscience.


In the runaway greenhouse stage, a planet absorbs more solar energy than it can give off to retain equilibrium. As a result, the world overheats, boiling its oceans and filling its atmosphere with steam, which leaves the planet glowing-hot and forever uninhabitable, as Venus is now.


One estimate of the inner edge of a star’s “habitable zone” is where the runaway greenhouse process begins. The habitable zone is that ring of space around a star that’s just right for water to remain in liquid form on an orbiting rocky planet’s surface, thus giving life a chance.


Revisiting this classic planetary science scenario with new computer modeling, the astronomers found a lower thermal radiation threshold for the runaway greenhouse process, meaning that stage may be easier to initiate than had been previously thought.


“The habitable zone becomes much narrower, in the sense that you can no longer get as close to the star as we thought before going into a runaway greenhouse,” said Tyler Robinson, a UW astronomy postdoctoral researcher and second author on the paper. The lead author is Colin Goldblatt of the University of Victoria.

Though further research is called for, the findings could lead to a recalibration of where the habitable zone begins and ends, with some planets having their candidacy as possible habitable worlds revoked. “These worlds on the very edge got ‘pushed in,’ from our perspective — they are now beyond the runaway greenhouse threshold,” Robinson said.


Subsequent research, the astronomers say, is needed in part because their computer modeling was done in a “single-column, clear-sky model,” or a one-dimensional measure averaged around a planetary sphere that does not account for the atmospheric effect of clouds.


The findings apply to planet Earth as well. As the sun increases in brightness over time, Earth, too, will move into the runaway greenhouse stage — but not for a billion and a half years or so. Still, it inspired the astronomers to write, “As the solar constant increases with time, Earth’s future is analogous to Venus’s past.”

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How does Elon Musk’s SF-to-LA-in-30-minutes Hyperloop work? By acoustic levitation!

How does Elon Musk’s SF-to-LA-in-30-minutes Hyperloop work? By acoustic levitation! | Amazing Science |

In July of last year, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk let slip that he was working on the Hyperloop — an ultra-fast mode of transportation that will get you from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco is under 30 minutes. This is a distance of roughly 340 miles, and would require speeds of around 700 mph, or almost the speed of sound. Perhaps most importantly, though, Musk said the Hyperloop will only cost around $6 billion — compared to the $60 billion of the proposed high-speed rail link connecting the two cities. So far, so good, except for one niggling issue: Musk still hasn’t told us how he intends to build it.


Some of the world’s brightest minds have speculated that a vacuum tube is the only way to do it — but before that idea could even get off the ground, Musk said that the Hyperloop isnot based on an evacuated tunnel. With that possibility ruled out, there aren’t actually that many ways of safely and economically propelling carriages at 700 mph (1126 kph). Furthermore, when you factor in Musk’s comments that the Hyperloop “can never crash,” has no need for rails, and is “immune to weather,” the architecture of the system becomes a real head-scratcher. Oh, did I mention that Musk envisions the entire system being self-powered by solar panels, and that it somehow stores energy inside the system itself, without the need for batteries?


How, then, might the Hyperloop work? One possibility is by acoustic levitation. At that speed, the biggest enemy is always going to be air resistance, which is why a vacuum tunnel is usually the favored solution: In a vacuum there is no air resistance (drag), and thus you can essentially move as fast as you like — much like a spacecraft barreling through the great black expanse. But it isn’t an evacuated tube, so it must be something else. Not to mention, a vacuum tunnel would definitely not fulfill the “can never crash” factor; poke a hole in a vacuum tube, and the results would be very messy indeed. 


What we need is another way of efficiently reducing drag. Just recently, we wrote about a research group that levitated arbitrarily shaped objects in acoustic waves. This technique involves an acoustic phenomenon called standing waves — essentially, waves that are held in place by interference. If you imbue these waves with enough power (volume) and hit just the right frequency, you can levitate an object. Standing waves, as the name implies, don’t move — but Björn Smedman and Charles Alexander both theorize that, if you pump these waves into a loop (which we assume the Hyperloop is), and change up the acoustic parameters slightly, then it might be possible to carry vehicles on the edge of these waves as they travel around the loop.


It turns out that, by hitching a ride on the peak of a sound wave, you only really have to deal with drag caused by air density (linear), which is much less than drag caused by air velocity (square).If you pump enough power into the acoustic wave (i.e. increase the amplitude), the air density increases but the relative air velocity drops. In effect, the vehicle in the wave is stationary, in reference to its surroundings. Eventually, as the sound wave gets stronger and stronger, you achieve almost adiabatic travel — travel that loses no energy at all to the environment via drag or friction. In theory, this process is so efficient that solar panels on top of the loop (a very large surface area!) can power the system. The acoustic waves, traveling continuously around the loop, would effectively act as energy storage.


While acoustic waves neatly solve the traveling-at-almost-the-speed-of-sound bit, they don’t explain how you would embark and disembark from the Hyperloop. The best guess at the moment is that there will be an extra section at each end of the loop for managing acceleration and deceleration. To board the Hyperloop, you will hop into a carriage at the San Francisco or Los Angeles terminus, and then be accelerated up to speed using arailgun before entering the main loop. At the other end, you will be gently decelerated before disembarking. This neatly ties in with Musk’s comments that the Hyperloop will be a“cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.”

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Amazing Science: Chemistry Postings

Amazing Science: Chemistry Postings | Amazing Science |

Chemistry, a branch of physical science, is the study of the composition, properties and behavior of matter. As it is a fundamental component of matter, the atom is the basic unit of chemistry. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, with particular focus on the properties of the chemical bonds formed between species. Chemistry is also concerned with the interactions between atoms or molecules and various forms of energy. Chemistry is sometimes called "the central science" because it bridges other natural sciences like physics, geology and biology.

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Amazing Science: Biology Postings

Amazing Science: Biology Postings | Amazing Science |

Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Modern biology is a vast and eclectic field, composed of many different branches and subdisciplines. Biology generally recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the synthesis and creation of new species. It is also understood today that all organisms survive by consuming and transforming energy to maintain a stable and vital condition during their life-time.


Mohammad Ibrahim's curator insight, February 2, 2014 4:18 PM

Biology is a diverse field and a rapidly expanding science; the new explorations in biology is changing our perspective of our living world. 

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Amazing Science: Big Data Postings

Amazing Science: Big Data Postings | Amazing Science |

Big data are a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis, and visualization. The trend to larger and larger data sets is due to the additional information derivable from analysis of a single large set of related data, as compared to separate smaller sets with the same total amount of data, allowing hidden correlations to be found.

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Amazing Science: Science and Art Postings

Amazing Science: Science and Art Postings | Amazing Science |

Science and art naturally overlap and there has long been a connection between both, which can be traced back to the Egyptian pyramids. History proves that the two disciplines cannot exist without each other, enduring in constantly changing and evolving relationships. Both are a means of investigation. Both involve ideas, theories, and hypotheses that are tested in places where mind and hand come together—the laboratory and studio. Artists, like scientists, study—materials, people, culture, history, religion, mythology — and learn to transform information.

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The Art of Pi: A Colorful Data Visualization

The Art of Pi:  A Colorful Data Visualization | Amazing Science |

Using Circos, a circular visualization software, Cristian Ilies Vasile and Martin Krzywinski created these vibrant representations of π, φ and e.


Cristian Ilies Vasile had the idea of connecting each digit of π to its successive digit with links to the position of the numerically corresponding segments. Martin Krzywinski added to Vasile’s visualization “by showing the transition probabilities for each digit across bins of 10 digits” and did this for φ and e as well for the first 1,000 digits, followed by the first 2,000 digits.

Next, Krzywinski created a lovely distribution plot of the numbers using red-yellow-blue Brewer palette to map their digits and plot them on an Archimedean spiral.


For more details of the project, check out Martin Krzywinski’s website (

Via Lauren Moss
Nina Fishman's curator insight, August 1, 2013 12:35 PM

Science, art, and spirit....married

The Planetary Archives Digital University's curator insight, December 3, 2013 5:50 PM

Hmm, science keeps rediscovering mandalas.....

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Amazing Science: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Postings

Amazing Science: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Postings | Amazing Science |

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology and a branch of computer science that studies and develops intelligent machines and software. AI research is divided by several technical issues. The central goals of AI research include reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, communication, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. General intelligence (or "strong AI") is still among the field's long term goals. Currently popular approaches include statistical methods, computational intelligence and traditional symbolic AI.

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Amazing Science: Aging and Senescence Postings

Amazing Science: Aging and Senescence Postings | Amazing Science |

The aging of whole organisms is called organismal senescence. In general, aging is characterized by the declining ability to respond to stress, increased homeostatic imbalance, and increased risk of aging-associated diseases. Death is the ultimate consequence of aging. Senescence occurs both on the level of the whole organism (organismal senescence) as well as on the level of its individual cells (cellular senescence). Senescence is by far the leading cause of death across the globe, in industrialized nations, the proportion is reaching 90%.

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Amazing Science: 3D Printing Postings

Amazing Science: 3D Printing Postings | Amazing Science |

3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc (subtractive processes). 3D printing is used in the fields of industrial design, architecture, engineering, automotive, aerospace, many dental / medical applications, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many others.

MelissaRossman's curator insight, August 30, 2013 10:55 AM


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Telescopes Use X-Ray Vision to See an Alien Planet Shadow

Telescopes Use X-Ray Vision to See an Alien Planet Shadow | Amazing Science |

About 60 light years from Earth is a binary star system called HD189733. The two stars—one slightly smaller and cooler than the Sun, the other an even dinkier and colder red dwarf—orbit each other, separated by 30 billion kilometers, about seven times the distance from the Sun to Neptune, for scale.


The brighter star, HD 189733A, is known to have a planet. We know quite a bit about this world: It’s slightly larger and more massive than Jupiter, it’s very hot (not surprising; it orbits the star at distance of only 4.6 million km, or 3 million miles), it has fierce winds, and we even know it’s blue, probably due to airborne dust in its atmosphere.


That’s all pretty cool, but the HD 189733b, as it’s called, just got a new notch in its belt: Orbiting telescopes have detected the planet by observing it in X-rays! This is a first for exoplanet research; no other planet has been detected this way.


The planet orbits the star very closely, and we see the orbit very nearly edge-on (it’s tilted with respect to us by less than 5°). It circles the star every 2.2 days, and every time it does it passes directly between us and the star, blocking a bit of its light. In visible light, the kind we humans can see, the light from the star drops by about 2.4 percent (meaning 2.4 percent of the star’s disk is blocked by the planet). The planet was found by observing the star over and over again, looking for this tell-tale dip in light. In a sense, it’s like the planet is casting a shadow on telescopes here on Earth.


The star is bright in visible light, but it also gives off X-rays as well (stars with magnetic activity, like the Sun, can emit quite a bit of X-ray light). So astronomers targeted HD 189733A with the orbiting XMM Newton and Chandra observatories. They watched the star for a total of nearly two solid days, looking for a corresponding drop in X-rays.


And they found it! In fact, it wasn’t that hard to spot; the amount of X-rays from the star dipped by 6-8 percent, a far larger amount than in visible light. The astronomers attribute thatto the planet’s atmosphere being very puffy, the outer layers opaque to X-rays while still letting visible light through. This isn’t too surprising, given how hot the planet is. Air expands when heated, so having an enlarged atmosphere is expected.


I’m pretty impressed by this. It actually adds to our knowledge of the planet quite a bit, because it allows a little more physics to be used to analyze the atmosphere. We suspect that planets like this lose their atmosphere over time because they absorb high-energy light from their stars, which blows away their outer atmosphere. These observations help astronomers how the planetary atmospheres can do this. They estimate HD 189733b is losing mass at a rate of about 200,000 tons per second. That sounds like a lot, but be aware that the total mass of the planet is about 2 x 10^24 tons, so it has nothing to worry about for a long, long time. It’ll take something like 300 billion years for the air to all blow away, which is comfortably longer than the current age of the Universe itself.

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Climate study predicts 1,700 US cities and towns are at flood risk within next 80+ years from rising sea levels

Climate study predicts 1,700 US cities and towns are at flood risk within next 80+ years from rising sea levels | Amazing Science |

More than 1,700 American cities and towns – including Boston, New York, and Miami – are at greater risk from rising sea levels than previously feared, a new study has found.


By 2100, the future of at least part of these 1,700 locations will be "locked in" by greenhouse gas emissions built up in the atmosphere, theanalysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday found. For nearly 80 US cities, the watery future will come much sooner, within the next decade even. 


The survey does not specify a date by which these cities, or parts of them, would actually fall under water. Instead, it specifies a "locked-in" date, by which time a future under water would be certain – a point of no return.


Because of the inertia built into the climate system, even if all carbon emissions stopped immediately, it would take some time for the related global temperature rises to ease off. That means the fate of some cities is already sealed, the study says.


"Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level," said Benjamin Strauss, a researcher at Climate Central, and author of the paper. Dramatic cuts in emissions – much greater than Barack Obama and other world leaders have so far agreed – could save nearly 1,000 of those towns, by averting the sea-level rise, the study found.


"Hundreds of American cities are already locked into watery futures and we are growing that group very rapidly," Strauss said. "We are locking in hundreds more as we continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere."


A recent study, also published in PNAS by the climate scientist Anders Levermann found each 1C rise in atmospheric warming would lead eventually to 2.3m of sea-level rise. The latest study takes those figures, and factors in the current rate of carbon emissions, as well as the best estimate of global temperature sensitivity to pollution.


For the study, a location was deemed "under threat" if 25% of its current population lives below the locked-in future high-tide level. Some 1,700 places are at risk in this definition. Even if bar is set higher, at 50% of the current population, 1,400 places would be under threat by 2100.

CineversityTV's curator insight, July 31, 2013 2:51 PM

Make it 20 years and I would believe the article

Carter Roose's curator insight, October 2, 2013 9:12 AM

That is no good. If we do have all of those cities start to flood that would be bad. To me if they predict that they should start to see if they can prevent it. To me instead of just announcing it actually do work.

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The best of two worlds: Solar hydrogen production breakthrough

The best of two worlds: Solar hydrogen production breakthrough | Amazing Science |

Using a simple solar cell and a photo anode made of a metal oxide, HZB and TU Delft scientists have successfully stored nearly five percent of solar energy chemically in the form of hydrogen. This is a major feat as the design of the solar cell is much simpler than that of the high-efficiency triple-junction cells based on amorphous silicon or expensive III-V semiconductors that are traditionally used for this purpose.

The photo anode, which is made from the metal oxide bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) to which a small amount of tungsten atoms was added, was sprayed onto a piece of conducting glass and coated with an inexpensive cobalt phosphate catalyst. "Basically, we combined the best of both worlds," explains Prof. Dr. Roel van de Krol, head of the HZB Institute for Solar Fuels: "We start with a chemically stable, low cost metal oxide, add a really good but simple silicon-based thin film solar cell, and – voilà – we've just created a cost-effective, highly stable, and highly efficient solar fuel device."

Thus the experts were able to develop a rather elegant and simple system for using sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This process, called artificial photosynthesis, allows solar energy to be stored in the form of hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used as a fuel either directly or in the form of methane, or it can generate electricity in a fuel cell. One rough estimate shows the potential inherent in this technology: At a solar performance in Germany of roughly 600 Watts per square meter, 100 square meters of this type of system is theoretically capable of storing 3 kilowatt hours of energy in the form of hydrogen in just one single hour of sunshine. This energy could then be available at night or on cloudy days.

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Amazing Science: Genetics Postings

Amazing Science: Genetics Postings | Amazing Science |

Genetics concerns the process of trait inheritance from parents to offspring, including the molecular structure and function of genes, gene behavior in the context of a cell or organism (e.g. dominance and epigenetics), gene distribution, and variation and change in populations such as through Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS). Given that genes are universal to living organisms, genetics can be applied to the study of all living systems; including bacteria, plants, animals, and humans. Modern genetics seeks to understand this process which began with the work of Gregor Mendel.

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Nanowires can lift liquids without any external power

Nanowires can lift liquids without any external power | Amazing Science |

Imagine if you could drink a glass of water just by inserting a solid wire into it and sucking on it as though it were a soda straw. It turns out that if you were tiny enough, that method would work just fine — and wouldn’t even require the suction to start.

New research carried out at MIT and elsewhere has demonstrated for the first time that when inserted into a pool of liquid, nanowires — wires that are only hundreds of nanometers (billionths of a meter) across — naturally draw the liquid upward in a thin film that coats the surface of the wire. The finding could have applications in microfluidic devices, biomedical research and inkjet printers.

The phenomenon had been predicted by theorists, but never observed because the process is too small to be seen by optical microscopes; electron microscopes need to operate in a vacuum, which would cause most liquids to evaporate almost instantly. To overcome this, the MIT team used an ionic liquid called DMPI-TFSI, which remains stable even in a powerful vacuum. Though the observations used this specific liquid, the results are believed to apply to most liquids, including water.

The results are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology by a team of researchers led by Ju Li, an MIT professor of nuclear science and engineering and materials science and engineering, along with researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and Zhejiang University in China.

Belinda Suvaal's curator insight, July 30, 2013 4:58 AM

selfhealing wires?