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First it was smallpox, now a tropical infection poised to become second human disease ever eradicated

First it was smallpox, now a tropical infection poised to become second human disease ever eradicated | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists are on the verge of killing off a parasite (Dracunculus medinensis) that had plagued the human race since ancient times. Cases of Guinea worm disease have fallen by 99 per cent from 3.5million cases in 1986 to 1,060 in 2011. The disease has affected the poorest communities in Africa and is now found in just South Sudan, Mali, Ethiopia, and Chad.

 

The guinea worm makes his home in the fat layer of the human skin and sometimes pokes through it to lay eggs. The well known medical symbol -  the "staff of Aesculap" - is representing the former practice to remove the worm slowly using a little stick to wrap the worm around without breaking it in order to avoid infection if a part of the worm is left inside the body.

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Researchers discover magnetic cells in the nose trout and its lateral line

Researchers discover magnetic cells in the nose trout and its lateral line | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Michael Winklhofer, a biogeophysicist at the University of Munich and colleagures have identified cells in the nose of trout that respond to magnetism. The researchers chose to study the olfactory tissues of trout based on decade-old research, which showed that magnetic fields affected the electrical activity of nerves that carried information from the fishes' noses. Instead of grinding up the tissues for analysis, as older methods tended to do, the researchers gently isolated whole cells from the tissues and put them into Petri dishes.

 

When the team applied rotating magnetic fields to those dishes, about one out of every 10,000 cells spun with the same frequency as the fields. luminated by the light of the microscope, structures inside of these cells also shone brilliantly, making them easy to detect. A closer look revealed crystals attached to inside the cell membranes that contained what appeared to be magnetite, an iron-rich magnetic material. Scientists don't yet know how these structures work, but Winklhofer suspects that they excite membranes inside neurons and trigger nerve impulses that send direction-related information to the brain.

 

Based on the abundance of magnetic cells in the samples, Winklhofer estimates that each fish had a total of between 10 and 100 of these cells in its nose. As expected, there were no magnetic cells in the animals' muscle tissue. Even more magnetic cells were detectable in the trout's lateral line, a sensory organ in fish that detects vibrations.

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Carl Sagan's Cosmos Series

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, with Sagan as presenter. It was executive-produced by Adrian Malone, produced by David Kennard, Geoffrey Haines-Stiles and Gregory Andorfer, and directed by the producers, David Oyster, Richard Wells, Tom Weidlinger, and others. It covered a wide range of scientific subjects, including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe. The series was first broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980 and was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until The Civil War (1990). As of 2009, it was still the most widely watched PBS series in the world. It won an Emmy and a Peabody Award and has since been broadcast in more than 60 countries and seen by over 500 million people.

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Turning skin cells into brain cells helps understand Huntington's degeneration disease

Turning skin cells into brain cells helps understand Huntington's degeneration disease | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Johns Hopkins researchers, working with an international consortium, say they have generated stem cells from skin cells from a person with a severe, early-onset form of Huntington’s disease (HD), and turned them into neurons that degenerate just like those affected by the fatal inherited disorder. The general midlife onset and progressive brain damage of HD are especially cruel, slowly causing jerky, twitch-like movements, lack of muscle control, psychiatric disorders and dementia, and — eventually — death.

 

By creating “HD in a dish,” the researchers say they have taken a major step forward in efforts to better understand what disables and kills the cells in people with HD, and to test the effects of potential drug therapies on cells that are otherwise locked deep in the brain. Although the autosomal dominant gene mutation responsible for HD was identified in 1993, there is no cure. No treatments are available even to slow its progression.

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Criminals and Terrorists in a Technological and Borderless Arms Race

Criminals and Terrorists in a Technological and Borderless Arms Race | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Technologies now integral to our daily lives continue advancing at exponential rates, leading to remarkable medical advancements in genetics, robotics, communications, neuroscience and biotechnology, global and ubiquitous connectivity, big data processing, and the miniaturization of the portable technology we carry in our pockets. But, technology has also advanced with a dark side. These same world-changing technologies are now being used by criminals that operate without borders. Every open social network, mobile and satellite phone, internet search engine, and technology operations center is now their playground for hacking and criminally manipulating our lives – from criminal controlled weaponized flying drones, to 3D printing of handguns, and even personalized and customized biological weapons, designed to pinpoint anyone, anytime.

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Stanford Course Online: Astrobiology and Space Exploration - Are we alone in the Universe?

This course covers subjects from astrochemistry to astrobiology, the search for other Earth-like exoplanets to life in the Universe. It also tries to answer the question what life really is, how fast evolution can be and whether life can exist in other non-earth-like extreme environments.

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How to steer sound using light - The ability to create phonons and then steer them using laser beams

How to steer sound using light - The ability to create phonons and then steer them using laser beams | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The ability to create phonons and then steer them using laser beams could lead to a new generation of applications,

 

Zap an optical fiber with a couple of laser beams and the resulting interference pattern causes an interesting effect -- it squeezes the material, an effect known as electrostriction. This creates a compression wave called a phonon, a packet of sound, which travels along the fiber. Not to be outdone, phonons also influence light because they change the refractive index of the material. This bends light and alters its frequency, an effect known as Brillouin scattering.

After that, things get complicated. This mechanism sets in train a complex set of feedback effects in which photons generate phonons which influence the photons and so on.

 

For the first time, researchers were able to simulate how light generates phonons inside an optical fibre and how the phonons then interact with the light that generated them. They then tested their ideas by measuring the way phonons scatter light in two types of fiber. Their conclusion has interesting implications. They say that the light ends up guiding the phonons that it creates.

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The Great Mass Extinctions - The Time When The Earth Nearly Died

Permian Extinction 250 Millions years ago, which caused extinction of 95% of all living species in both animals & plants life. This extinctions was slow and took nearly 80000 years in 3 stages:

 

1- Increase in world temperature by 5 degrees Centigrade casued by super lengthy eruptions of Siberian Trapes

 

2-melting the frozen resoviours of Methan gas in the seabeds and releasing Carbon 12 (C12), which is a green house gas and raised sea temp by anothre 5 degrees, and that casued

 

3-world temp raised 10 degrees and that caused the mass extinctions

 

it took Earth millions of years to recover and after 20 millions years from then Dinosaurs first appeared.

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String Theorists Squeeze Nine Dimensions Into Three

String Theorists Squeeze Nine Dimensions Into Three | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A simulation of the early universe using string theory may explain why space has three observable spatial dimensions instead of nine.

 

The leading mathematical explanation of physics goes beyond modern particle theory by positing tiny bits of vibrating string as the fundamental basis of matter and forces. String theory also requires that the universe have six or more spatial dimensions in addition to the ones observed in everyday life. Explaining how those extra dimensions are hidden is a central challenge for string theorists.

 

In the simulation, the universe starts off as a tiny blob of strings that is symmetric in nine different dimensions. As the strings interact, a random energy fluctuation — provided by the quantum laws that govern these small scales — breaks the symmetry. Three dimensions balloon outward, leaving the other six stunted at a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a centimeter, far too small to be detected.

 

Applying string theory to the beginning of the universe in this way has long proven difficult. That’s because the math included in traditional versions of the theory can be solved only when strings interact weakly at low temperatures, not in the seething maelstrom that existed moments after the Big Bang.

 

To tackle the extreme energies of the Big Bang, Nishimura and his team had to recast one version of string theory, called IIB, as grids of equations that could be fed into a supercomputer. Limited by the power of this computer, the researchers could track the interactions of no more than 32 strings for the first split second of history. In this model, the (3+1)-dimensional universe evolves automatically from a Lorentzian matrix model for superstring theory in (9+1)-dimensions.

 

 

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Light trick to see through skin or even around corners

Light trick to see through skin or even around corners | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers unveil a simple new means to see through "scattering" materials such as frosted glass, or even see around corners. Much research in recent years has focused on correcting for scattering, mostly for medical applications.

 

Prof Silberberg and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have pushed the limits of what spatial light modulators (SLMs) can do.SLMs modify what is known as the phase of an incoming light beam. Like a series of waves on the ocean that run over rocks or surfers, the waves in light can be slowed down or redirected when they hit scattering materials. Prof Silberberg and his team first set up their SLM by shining light from a normal lamp through a highly scattering plastic film and allowing a computer to finely tune the SLM until they could see a clear image of the lamp through the film. But the team then realised that the same approach can work in reflection - that is, not passing through a scattering material but bouncing off of it, such as the case of light bouncing off a wall at a corner.

 

The primary use for the technique will be in biological and medical studies - especially tackling the highly scattering white brain matter in neurological imaging - rather than the business of seeing through thin materials or around corners.

 

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Black Holes May Produce Lithium - which deepens the mysteries surrounding lithium in the universe

Black Holes May Produce Lithium - which deepens the mysteries surrounding lithium in the universe | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Theorists predict that the matter surrounding some black holes may be hot enough for nuclear fusion, which could generate lithium and deepen the mysteries surrounding lithium in the universe.

 

Standard cosmology predicts with great accuracy the amounts of hydrogen and helium produced right after the big bang, but the lithium predictions appear to be way too high. In Physical Review Letters, a team calculates that hundreds of thousands of black holes in our galaxy may also produce substantial amounts of lithium because the hot cloud of matter surrounding them can generate nuclear fusion. If borne out by observations, the new theory could make it even harder to explain where all of the lithium went.

 

The lithium problem has puzzled researchers for three decades. The spectra of the most ancient and pristine stars in our galaxy reveal abundances of the isotope lithium-7 that vary little from one star to the next. But the abundances of other heavier elements vary considerably. Some have interpreted the uniformity as a sign that most of the lithium-7 in the ancient stars has a common origin, namely, the nuclear fusion that took place beginning a few minutes after the big bang. Big bang theory correctly predicts the abundances for deuterium, helium-3, and helium-4, but ancient stars seem to contain only half or less of the expected amount of lithium-7. Researchers have proposed various solutions to this lithium problem, such as mechanisms that could get rid of some of the lithium in the early universe.

 

But more recent data have complicated this picture. Astronomers found that lithium-7 in ancient stars isn’t perfectly uniform and that some of the slowest evolving stars in this population have significantly less lithium-7 than the others. So this smaller amount of lithium seems to have appeared earlier in the life cycle of these stars, and only later did they develop the mostly-uniform abundance, according to some astrophysicists. This scenario could completely change the story, suggesting that the uniform level in most of these stars is not from the big bang but appeared later, a result of some as-yet undiscovered lithium source.

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The Coming Revolutions in Fundamental Physics [VIDEO]

Questions of Fundamental Physics to be answered this century:

 

Why are there three forces of nature due to local symmetry?

Why is alpha = 1/137.036999708...?

Why are there families of quarks and leptons?

Why is space three dimensional and are there hidden dimensions?

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2 million-year-old Australopithecus sediba skeleton found in South Africa

2 million-year-old Australopithecus sediba skeleton found in  South Africa | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

South African scientists claim to have uncovered the most complete skeleton yet of an ancient relative of man, hidden in a rock excavated from an archaeological site three years ago. The remains of a juvenile hominid skeleton, of the newly identified Australopithecus (southern ape) sediba species, are the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered. The skeleton is thought to be about 2 million years old. The upright-walking tree climber would have been aged between nine and 13 years when he or she died.

 

It is not certain whether the species, which had long arms, a small brain and a thumb, was a direct ancestor of humans' genus, Homo, or simply a close relative.

 

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FDA Approves First Drug To Prevent HIV Infection

FDA Approves First Drug To Prevent HIV Infection | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The drug was approved for people who test negative for HIV infection. It's supposed to be used in combination with safe-sex practices, such as using a condom, to reduce infection risk. The daily pill Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences, combines two medicines that inhibit the reproduction of HIV.

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Life after Nanotech: Femtotech -- Computing at the femtometer scale using quarks and gluons

Life after Nanotech: Femtotech -- Computing at the femtometer scale using quarks and gluons | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

How the properties of quarks and gluons can be used (in principle) to perform computation at the femtometer (10^-15 meter) scale. The next smallest thing in nature is the nucleus, which is about 100,000 times smaller, i.e., 10-15 m in size — a femtometer, or “fermi.” A nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons (i.e., “nucleons”), which we now know are composed of 3 quarks, which are bound (“glued”) together by massless (photon-like) particles called “gluons.” If you want to compute at the femto level, how do you do that? What would you need?

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World's first single atom photo using highest-resolution LIGHT microscopy

World's first single atom photo using highest-resolution LIGHT microscopy | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In an international scientific breakthrough, a Griffith University research team has been able to photograph the shadow of a single atom for the first time. "We have reached the extreme limit of microscopy; you cannot see anything smaller than an atom using visible light," Professor Dave Kielpinski of Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics in Brisbane. "We wanted to investigate how few atoms are required to cast a shadow and we proved it takes just one," Professor Kielpinski said. At the heart of this Griffith University achievement is a super high-resolution microscope, which makes the shadow dark enough to see. No other facility in the world has the capability for such extreme optical imaging. Holding an atom still long enough to take its photo, while remarkable in itself, is not new technology; the atom is isolated within a chamber and held in free space by electrical forces.

 

A video describing this effect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC5JvbtQRhQ&feature=plcp

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India To Biometrically Identify All Of Its 1.2 Billion Citizens

India To Biometrically Identify All Of Its 1.2 Billion Citizens | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A small group of Indian entrepreneurs within the government have set out to identify to every one of their 1.2 billion residents by using biometric technologies, such as iris scans and fingerprints.In the next few years, each man, woman and child will receive an “Aadhaar” (meaning: foundation) 12-digit unique identification number. For the poor in India, this would end a vicious cycle where a person cannot prove who they are, and thus they are denied what they are supposed to receive. Now, using the features of the body, technology can identify someone in a matter of seconds. There will no longer be a need for passports, driver licenses, or other old school paper based identification.

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Next Up For Robotic Automation: Serving Pizza Untouched By Human Hands

Next Up For Robotic Automation: Serving Pizza Untouched By Human Hands | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Let’s Pizza is a pizza vending machine that produces fresh 11-inch pizzas in 2.5 minutes for about $6. It mixes the flour and water, kneads the dough, then adds sauce, cheese, and other toppings, and finally bakes it in an infrared oven for about a minute. Currently, the machines offer cheese, pepperoni, ham, smoked bacon, and fresh veggies.

 

The entire pizza-making process is automated and viewable through a window at the front of the machine. Each machine is connected through the web so that refrigerated inventory can be replenished as needed (it stores enough ingredients to make 90 pizzas). The company intends to offer opportunities for franchising one or more of the machines, but it is also entertaining companies that want to distribute the machines nationally.

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Crowdfunding - Kickstarter is funding the commercialization of new technologies

Crowdfunding - Kickstarter is funding the commercialization of new technologies | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Kickstarter, a New York City–based website originally founded to support creative projects, has become a force in financing technology startups. Entrepreneurs have used the site to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time to develop and produce products, including a networked home sensing system and a kit that prints three-dimensional objects.

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What kinds of string theory are there? Where are we in extra dimensions?

What kinds of string theory are there? Where are we in extra dimensions? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The list of uncompactified string theories is short - it only contains 6 entries:

 

- type I string theory with

   spin(32)/Z_2 gauge group

- type IIA string theory

- type IIB string theory

- heterotic E_8 x E_8 string theory

- heterotic spin(32)/Z_2 string theory

- M-theory

 

The first five entries should be called “string theory” because vibrating 1-dimensional strings are the most important objects they contain. All of the string theories contain closed strings (e.g. the graviton is always a closed string); type I string theory is the only one on the list whose strings are unorientable and that also contains open strings. The last entry in the list is the eleven-dimensional M-theory and contains no strings. Instead, it has other extended objects, namely M2-branes and M5-branes. The numerals in the brane nomenclature count the number of spatial dimensions; so strings in string theories are also known as F1-branes (“F” stands for “fundamental”); they may also be obtained as M-theory’s M2-branes with one dimension wrapped around the compact dimension of the M-theory spacetime.

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Fossil records show ocean rise risk much higher than previously anticipated

Fossil records show ocean rise risk much higher than previously anticipated | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Sea levels may rise much higher than previously thought, according to scientists from The Australian National University, who have used fossil corals to understand how warmer temperatures in the past promoted dramatic melting of polar ice sheets.

 

Dr. Andrea Dutton, formerly of the Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES) in the ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, teamed up with Professor Kurt Lambeck of the RSES to analyse fossil corals around the world from the last interglacial period, 125,000 years ago.

 

They built an extensive database by compiling age and elevation data of fossil corals that live near the sea surface, and used a model to factor in the physics of how changing masses of ice sheets would affect regional sea level at the various fossil coral sites.

 

They concluded that sea level during the last interglacial period peaked at 5.5 to 9 metres above present sea level.

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Moon Patterns Explained - Electric Fields Enveloping Magnetic Bubbles Create Lunar Swirls

Moon Patterns Explained - Electric Fields Enveloping Magnetic Bubbles Create Lunar Swirls | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists have charged up an old moon mystery. New research suggests that swirling designs on the dusty lunar surface might be the product of electric fields generated by pockets of magnetic bubbles.

 

The milky patterns stand out like pale flesh against darkly tanned skin. It’s as if you used sunblock to paint whorls on your arm and then spent the day outside, says planetary geologist Georgiana Kramer of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. The sun would color everything but the protected skin, leaving the whorls white.

 

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Complete Genomics Long Fragment Read Technology and Haplotype Phasing

Complete Genomics Long Fragment Read Technology and Haplotype Phasing | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Using whole genome genotyping microarrays by Affymetrix and then Illumina, as well as high-density arrays by Perlegen, the HapMap project released datasets in three phases, in 2005, 2007 and 2009. With these maps genome-wide association studies could then take off quickly.

 

Attempts at complete haplotype information from short-read sequencing has been performed, with varying degrees of limitation and a lot of computational power. One solution would be to obtain as long a read as possible, so there is a great interest in single-molecule approaches, to simplify the task at hand. But as mentioned before, Pacific Biosciences has its challenges with accuracy and throughput (in addition to system robustness, cost per megabase, and ease of use) and Oxford Nanopore (and Genia) do not have any preliminary test data out for analysis or early access (as of mid-2012). So the informatics people do what they can with the datasets they have.

 

Recently, a research group has shown that accurate whole-genome sequencing and haplotyping from 10 to 20 human cells is feasible. What makes it remarkable is the ability of this method to obtain rare variant phase information by changing the library preparation method. Until now to obtain completely phased individual genomes required a fair amount of laboratory manipulation.

 

Full-length Nature article is here: http://tinyurl.com/7qd398v

 

Complete Genomics' Press Release: http://tinyurl.com/8493ww9

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Free access to British scientific research within two years

Free access to British scientific research within two years | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Radical shakeup of academic publishing will allow papers to be put online and be accessed by universities, firms and individuals.

 

Professor Dame Janet Finch's recommendations on open access publishing prompted the government's decision.

 

The government is to unveil controversial plans to make publicly funded scientific research immediately available for anyone to read for free by 2014, in the most radical shakeup of academic publishing since the invention of the internet.

 

Under the scheme, research papers that describe work paid for by the British taxpayer will be free online for universities, companies and individuals to use for any purpose, wherever they are in the world.

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Does the Past Exist Yet? Evidence Suggests Your Past Isn’t Set in Stone And Can Be Altered By The Future

Does the Past Exist Yet? Evidence Suggests Your Past Isn’t Set in Stone And Can Be Altered By The Future | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Recent discoveries require us to rethink our understanding of history. “The histories of the universe,” said renowned physicist Stephen Hawking “depend on what is being measured, contrary to the usual idea that the universe has an objective observer-independent history.”

 

Is it possible we live and die in a world of illusions? Physics tells us that objects exist in a suspended state until observed, when they collapse in to just one outcome. Paradoxically, whether events happened in the past may not be determined until sometime in your future – and may even depend on actions that you haven’t taken yet.

 

In 2002, scientists carried out an amazing experiment, which showed that particles of light “photons” knew — in advance — what their distant twins would do in the future. They tested the communication between pairs of photons — whether to be either a wave or a particle. Researchers stretched the distance one of the photons had to take to reach its detector, so that the other photon would hit its own detector first. The photons taking this path already finished their journeys — they either collapse into a particle or don’t before their twin encounters a scrambling device. Somehow, the particles acted on this information before it happened, and across distances instantaneously as if there was no space or time between them. They decided not to become particles before their twin ever encountered the scrambler. It doesn’t matter how we set up the experiment. Our mind and its knowledge is the only thing that determines how they behave. Experiments consistently confirm these observer-dependent effects.

 

More recently (Science 315, 966, 2007), scientists in France shot photons into an apparatus, and showed that what they did could retroactively change something that had already happened. As the photons passed a fork in the apparatus, they had to decide whether to behave like particles or waves when they hit a beam splitter. Later on – well after the photons passed the fork – the experimenter could randomly switch a second beam splitter on and off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle actually did at the fork in the past. At that moment, the experimenter chose his history.

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