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Archaeologists discover oldest wine cellar: 3,700 year-old store room held 2,000 liters of wine

Archaeologists discover oldest wine cellar: 3,700 year-old store room held 2,000 liters of wine | Amazing Science |
Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest -- and largest -- ancient wine cellar in the Near East, containing 40 jars, each of which would have held 50 liters of strong, sweet wine.


The site dates to about 1,700 B.C. and isn't far from many of Israel's modern-day wineries.


"This is a hugely significant discovery -- it's a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size," says Eric Cline chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of at The George Washington University. Cline and Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, co-directed the excavation. Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, was an associate director.


The team's findings will be presented this Friday in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Koh, an archaeological scientist, analyzed the jar fragments using organic residue analysis. He found molecular traces of tartaric and syringic acid, both key components in wine, as well as compounds suggesting ingredients popular in ancient wine-making, including honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins. The recipe is similar to medicinal wines used in ancient Egypt for two thousand years.

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​What will NASA be doing with its new quantum computer?

​What will NASA be doing with its new quantum computer? | Amazing Science |
Earlier this year, NASA, in partnership with Google, acquired the world's largest quantum computer. But just what does the space agency plan to do with a device with such revolutionary potential?


NASA is currently looking at three very basic applications, including one that would serve as a day-planner for busy astronauts who are up in orbit.


"If you're trying to schedule or plan a whole bunch of tasks on the International Space Station, you can do certain tasks only if certain preconditions are met," he explains. "And after you perform the task you end up in another state where you may or may not be able to perform another task. So that's considered a hard optimization problem that a quantum system could potentially solve."


They're also looking to schedule jobs on supercomputers. And in fact, NASA Ames is responsible for running the agency's primary supercomputing facility. No doubt, at any instance of time they've got hundreds of individual jobs running on a supercomputer, while many others are waiting for their turn. A very difficult scenario would involve a job waiting to run — one that requires, say, 500 nodes — on a supercomputer with 1,000 nodes available.


"Which 500 of these 1,000 nodes should we pick to run the job?," he asks. "It's a very difficult scheduling problem."


Another important application is the Kepler search for exoplanets. NASA astronomers use their various telescopes to look at light curves to understand whether any noticeable dimming represents a potential exoplanet as it moves across its host star. This is a massive search problem — one that D-Wave could conceivably help with.


"These are the types of applications that we're trying to run," says Biswas. "We're doing it on our D-Wave system, which is the largest in the world, but it's still not large enough to solve the really hard real world problems. But by tackling the smaller problems, we can extrapolate to how a larger problem could be solved on a larger system." "But each of these images may be at a certain wavelength, and you may not get all the information from the image," he explains. "One of the challenges there is what's called data fusion, where you try to get multiple images and somehow fuse them in some smart way so that you can garner information from a fused image that you couldn't get from a single image.


And at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Biswas's team runs the supercomputers that power a significant portion of NASA's endeavors, both public and commercial.


"We see quantum computing as a natural extension of our supercomputing efforts," he told me. "In fact, our current belief is that the D-WAVE system and other quantum computers that might come out in the next few years are all going to behave as attached processors to classical silicon computers."


Which is actually quite amazing. So in the future, when a user wants to solve a large problem, they would interact with their usual computer, while certain aspects would be handed over to the quantum computer. After performing the calculation, like an optimization problem, it would send the solution back to the traditional silicon-based machine. It'll be like putting your desktop PC on steroids.


"Just so we're clear, the D-Wave system is just one of many ways to leverage the effects of quantum physics," he told me. "But in order to use any quantum system, the first thing you need to have is a problem mapped in QUBO form." A QUBO form, which stands for a Quadratic Unconstrained Binary Optimization form, is a mathematical representation of any optimization problem that needs to be solved. At this time — and as far as we know — every single quantum computer requires that the input be in QUBO form.


"And that's a serious problem," says Biswas, "because there's no known recipe to devise a problem and then map it into QUBO form. But once we get a QUBO form — which is a graph representation of the problem — we can embed this onto the architecture of the D-Wave machine."


The D-Wave processors run 512 qubits which are made up of 64 unit cells. Each unit cell is made up of 8 qubits. And each qubit is made up of a bipartite graph, so there are four quibits on the left and four on the right. Each of the four qubits are connected to the ones on the right and vice-versa. But it's not a fully connected graph.


"So what happens therefore, is after you take your problem in QUBO form and you try to embed it into the D-WAVE machine it's not a universal quantum computer. It's not like you have computer keyboard and you can just tell the machine what to do." Essentially, the machine becomes dedicated to the task outlined by the QUBO form — a limitation that could impact scalability.



Scott Gipson's curator insight, December 2, 2013 1:04 AM

       NASA partnered with Google earlier this year to acquire the world’s largest quantum computer. Quantum computers are different from digital computers based on transistors. While digital computers require data to be encoded into binary digits (bits), quantum computation uses quantum properties to represent data and perform operations based on these data. This article discusses the revolutionary potential of the device.

       Quantum systems have the ability to irrevocably change the way we go about computation. Unlike traditional silicon-based computers, these systems tap into the eerie effects of quantum mechanics (namely superposition, entanglement, and parallelism), enabling them to mull over all possible solutions to a problem in a single instant. According to physicist David Deutsch, a quantum system can work on a million computations at once while a standard desktop PC works on just one. These computers will help us find the most convenient solution to a complex problem. As such, they're poised to revolutionize the way we go about data analysis and optimization which include such realms as air traffic control, courier routing, weather prediction, database querying, and hacking tough encryption schemes.

        "Quantum computing has generated a lot of interest recently, particularly the ways in which the D-Wave quantum computer can be used to solve interesting problems. We've had the machine operational since September, and we felt the time is right to give the public a little bit of background on what we've been doing,” said Dr. Rupak Biswas, deputy director of the Exploration Technology Directorate at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

        Biswas's team is currently looking at three very basic applications, including one that would serve as a day-planner for busy astronauts who are up in orbit. "If you're trying to schedule or plan a whole bunch of tasks on the International Space Station, you can do certain tasks only if certain preconditions are met," he explains. "And after you perform the task you end up in another state where you may or may not be able to perform another task. So that's considered a hard optimization problem that a quantum system could potentially solve."

        NASA is also heavily involved in developing the next generation of air traffic control systems. These involve not only commercial flights, but also cargo and unmanned flights. Currently, much of this is done in a consolidated fashion by air traffic control. But at later stages, when more distributed control is required and highly complex variables like weather need to be taken into account, quantum computing could certainly help.

       This article ties into Chapter 9: Business-to-Business Relations in our Case Studies textbook. “Tactics in business-to-business relations and partner relationship management help companies build productive relationships with other companies” (Guth & Marsh pg. 194). Considering what I’ve read in this article, so far the relationship between the two companies seems to be pretty productive. 

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Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions, study finds

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions, study finds | Amazing Science |

The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.


The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms.


The analysis, which was welcomed by the former vice-president Al Gore as a "crucial step forward" found that the vast majority of the firms were in the business of producing oil, gas or coal, found the analysis, whichhas been published in the journal Climatic Change.


"There are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world," climate researcher and author Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado said. "But the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two."


Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years – well past the date when governments and corporations became aware that rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil were causing dangerous climate change.

Many of the same companies are also sitting on substantial reserves of fossil fuel which – if they are burned – puts the world at even greater risk of dangerous climate change.


Climate change experts said the data set was the most ambitious effort so far to hold individual carbon producers, rather than governments, to account.


The United Nations climate change panel, the IPCC, warned in September that at current rates the world stood within 30 years of exhausting its "carbon budget" – the amount of carbon dioxide it could emit without going into the danger zone above 2C warming. The former US vice-president and environmental champion, Al Gore, said the new carbon accounting could re-set the debate about allocating blame for the climate crisis.


Leaders meeting in Warsaw for the UN climate talks this week clashed repeatedly over which countries bore the burden for solving the climate crisis – historic emitters such as America or Europe or the rising economies of India and China.


Gore in his comments said the analysis underlined that it should not fall to governments alone to act on climate change.


"This study is a crucial step forward in our understanding of the evolution of the climate crisis. The public and private sectors alike must do what is necessary to stop global warming," Gore told the Guardian. "Those who are historically responsible for polluting our atmosphere have a clear obligation to be part of the solution."

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Global Warming Effect: Major Iceberg Cracks off Pine Island Glacier

Global Warming Effect: Major Iceberg Cracks off Pine Island Glacier | Amazing Science |
Landsat 8 captures a view of the ice separating from the ice shelf.


Between November 9–11, 2013, a large iceberg finally separated from the calving front of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. Scientists first detected a rift in the glacier in October 2011 during flights for NASA’s Operation IceBridge. By July 2013, infrared and radar images indicated that the crack had cut completely across the ice shelf to the southwestern edge. New images now show that Iceberg B-31 is finally moving away from the coast, with open water between the iceberg and the edge of Pine Island Glacier.


The Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired these natural-color images of the iceberg in Pine Island Bay on November 13 (top) and October 28, 2013. Clouds and fog make the November 13 image a bit hazy, but the open-water gap between the iceberg and the ice shelf is still apparent. 


Named B-31 by the U.S. National Ice Center, the new iceberg is estimated to be 35 kilometers by 20 kilometers (21 by 12 miles), roughly the size of Singapore. A team of scientists from Sheffield and Southampton universities will track the 700 square-kilometer chunk of ice and try to predict its path using satellite data.


“It is hard to predict with certainty where and when these things will drift,” said NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt.“Icebergs move pretty slowly, and watching this iceberg will be a waiting game.”


The shelf of Pine Island Glacier has been moving forward at roughly 4 kilometers per year, so the calving of this iceberg is not necessarily a surprise, noted Tom Wagner, NASA’s cryosphere program manager. Such events happen about every five or six years, though Iceberg B-31 is about 50 percent larger than previous ones in this area.


Scientists have been studying Pine Island Glacier closely because there is evidence that warmer seawater below the shelf will cause the ice grounding line to retreat and the glacier to thin and speed up.

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Basic Rules of Chemistry Can Be Broken Under High Pressure, Calculations Show

Basic Rules of Chemistry Can Be Broken Under High Pressure, Calculations Show | Amazing Science |
A study suggests atoms can bond not only with electrons in their outer shells, but also via those in their supposedly sacrosanct inner shells


Inside atoms, electrons are organized into energy levels, called shells, which can be thought of as buckets of increasing size that can each hold only a fixed number of electrons. Atoms prefer to have filled buckets, so if their outer shell is missing just one or two electrons, they are eager borrow form another atom that might have one or two to spare. But sometimes, a new study suggests, atoms can be incited to share not just their outer valence electrons, but those from their full inner shells. “It breaks our doctrine that the inner-shell electrons never react, never enter the chemistry domain,” says Mao-sheng Miao, a chemist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Beijing Computational Science Research Center in China. Miao predicted such bonds using so-called first-principles calculations, which rely purely on the known laws of physics, and reported his findings in a paper published September 23, 2013, in Nature Chemistry. Such bonding has yet to be demonstrated in a lab. Nevertheless, “I’m very confident that this is real,” he says.

His calculations show that two possible molecules could form between cesium and fluorine atoms under extremely high pressure—about 30 gigapascals (higher than the pressure at the bottom of the ocean, but less than at Earth’s center). Cesium, all the way on the left side of the periodic table, has one superfluous electron in its outer, or sixth shell. Fluorine, on the other hand, is toward the far right of the table, just next to the column of noble gases with completely full shells (which is why noble gases are notoriously unreactive—they have little incentive to gain or lose electrons) and is one electron short of a full outer shell. “Under normal pressure, cesium gives an electron completely to fluorine and they bind together,” Miao says. “But under high pressure, the electrons from cesium’s inner shells start to form molecules with fluorine.”


Miao identified two compounds that could form and remain stable up to very high pressures: cesium trifluoride (CsF3), where cesium has shared its one valence electron and two from an inner shell with three fluorine atoms, and cesium pentafluoride (CsF5), where cesium shares its valence electron and four inner-shell electrons to five fluorine atoms. “That forms a very beautiful molecule, like a starfish,” Miao says. Both the shape of the resulting molecules and the possibility of their formation are “very surprising,” says chemist Roald Hoffmann, a professor emeritus at Cornell University, who was not involved in the calculations. “This is the first clear case of an alkali metal not only losing its single easily ionized valence electron in bonding, but also ‘breaking into the core’ in its bonding with several fluorines.”

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100 gene transcripts can generate thousands of conotoxins in a single species of cone snail

100 gene transcripts can generate thousands of conotoxins in a single species of cone snail | Amazing Science |

Cone snails produce highly complex venom comprising mostly small biologically active peptides known as conotoxins or conopeptides. Early estimates that suggested 50-200 venom peptides are produced per species have been recently increased at least 10-fold using advanced mass spectrometry.

To uncover the mechanism(s) responsible for generating this impressive diversity, we used an integrated approach combining second-generation transcriptome sequencing with high sensitivity proteomics. From the venom gland transcriptome of Conus marmoreus, a total of 105 conopeptide precursor sequences from 13 gene superfamilies were identified. Over 60% of these precursors belonged to the three gene superfamilies O1, T, and M, consistent with their high levels of expression, which suggests these conotoxins play an important role in prey capture and/or defense. Seven gene superfamilies not previously identified in C. marmoreus, including five novel superfamilies, were also discovered. To confirm the expression of toxins identified at the transcript level, the injected venom of C. marmoreus was comprehensively analyzed by mass spectrometry, revealing 2710 and 3172 peptides using MALDI and ESI-MS, respectively, and 6254 peptides using an ESI-MS TripleTOF 5600 instrument.

All conopeptides derived from transcriptomic sequences could be matched to masses obtained on the TripleTOF within 100 ppm accuracy, with 66 (63%) providing MS/MS coverage that unambiguously confirmed these matches. Comprehensive integration of transcriptomic and proteomic data revealed for the first time that the vast majority of the conopeptide diversity arises from a more limited set of genes through a process of variable peptide processing, which generates conopeptides with alternative cleavage sites, heterogeneous post-translational modifications, and highly variable N- and C-terminal truncations. Variable peptide processing is expected to contribute to the evolution of venoms, and explains how a limited set of ∼ 100 gene transcripts can generate thousands of conopeptides in a single species of cone snail.

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Breaking the sound barrier on land: World's fastest car set to break records, again. Can it break 1,000 mph?

Breaking the sound barrier on land: World's fastest car set to break records, again. Can it break 1,000 mph? | Amazing Science |
In 1997, Andy Green broke the world land speed record when he drove the Thrust SSC 763mph. Can he break 1,000mph?


Many of the pilots assembled at the Dubai Airshow can boast breaking the sound barrier, but only one man in the world can say he's done it both in the sky and on the ground. That privilege belongs to former fighter jet pilot Royal Air Force (RAF) Wing Commander Andy Green.

As the driver of Thrust SSC -- the fastest car on the planet -- he broke the sound barrier in 1997 with a world land speed record of 763mph.

Despite the roar of the display jets passing overhead, he remains focused on more terrestrial matters: the quest to drive a car over 1,000 mph with The Bloodhound Project. "As with everything I do in life, being able to do difficult things and do them well is hugely satisfying," he says from the roof of the Eurofighter chalet at the event.

With a name that could be a code word for a covert Second World War operation (it's actually named after a missile), The Bloodhound Project has plenty of challenges up ahead.  "Basically we're trying to do what no one has done before," he says. "I've got five supersonic runs, which is five more than anybody else. That gives me a unique perspective on the challenges facing the new car and how we're going to take it a lot further."

The design of the car took years to perfect and while it still generally resembles a rocket on wheels, there are plenty of things that make it much more than just a fighter jet without the wings; one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the shockwaves caused by the wheels traveling at such high speeds.


Something that the car does have directly in common with a fighter jet is the engine. It uses an EJ200 engine normally found on aEurofighter Typhoon jet. It was one of the test-and-development engines donated by Eurofighter.


It's as close as Green gets to a jet engine these days; the 51-year-old flew missions over Bosnia and Iraq and was in charge of running the RAF's air campaign missions over Libya in 2011. During that campaign he says that the success rate of the engine was 97%, which means he has no concerns about sitting in front of one and hurtling across the ground at previously unimaginable speeds.

Jack O'Dowd's curator insight, November 20, 2013 9:41 PM

In modern time you would expect an invention like this, but how can you find a guy with the guts to go so fast in an unstable car? What I am amazed by is how the whells and engines are able to keep up with such a fast motor. You often hear of fighter jets breking the sound barrier but i never knew a land car could! But you just never know, some day these could be our cars! I would not like that, but it would be a very efficient way to get around town!

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People with highly superior memory powers of recall are also vulnerable to false memories

People with highly superior memory powers of recall are also vulnerable to false memories | Amazing Science |
People who can accurately remember details of their daily lives going back decades are as susceptible as everyone else to forming fake memories, psychologists and neurobiologists have found.


Persons with highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM, also known as hyperthymesia) -- which was first identified in 2006 by scientists at UC Irvine's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory -- have the astounding ability to remember even trivial details from their distant past. This includes recalling daily activities of their life since mid-childhood with almost 100 percent accuracy.


The lead researcher on the study, Patihis believes it's the first effort to test malleable reconstructive memory in HSAM individuals. Working with neurobiology and behavior graduate student Aurora LePort, Patihis asked 20 people with superior memory and 38 people with average memory to do word association exercises, recall details of photographs depicting a crime, and discuss their recollections of video footage of the United Flight 93 crash on 9/11. (Such footage does not exist.) These tasks incorporated misinformation in an attempt to manipulate what the subjects thought they had remembered.


"While they really do have super-autobiographical memory, it can be as malleable as anybody else's, depending on whether misinformation was introduced and how it was processed," Patihis said. "It's a fascinating paradox. In the absence of misinformation, they have what appears to be almost perfect, detailed autobiographical memory, but they are vulnerable to distortions, as anyone else is."


He noted that there are still many mysteries about people with highly superior autobiographical memory that need further investigation. LePort, for instance, is studying forgetting curves (which involve how many autobiographical details people can remember from one day ago, one week ago, one month ago, etc., and how the number of details decreases over time) in both HSAM and control participants and will employ functional MRI to better understand the phenomenon.


"What I love about the study is how it communicates something that memory distortion researchers have suspected for some time: that perhaps no one is immune to memory distortion," Patihis said. "It will probably make some nonexperts realize, finally, that if even memory prodigies are susceptible, then they probably are too. This teachable moment is almost as important as the scientific merit of the study. It could help educate people -- including those who deal with memory evidence, such as clinical psychologists and legal professionals -- about false memories."

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Edible sensors that fit inside pills and tell your doctor when pills are taken predicted to be released in 2014

Edible sensors that fit inside pills and tell your doctor when pills are taken predicted to be released in 2014 | Amazing Science |

"If you look at every healthcare system in the world, it's finished," says Don Cowling, VP at Proteus Digital Health. "Instead of spending $10 billion (£6.4billion) trying to find a new molecule, why not spend half a billion getting today's products working properly?" That's what he is doing at California and London-based Proteus Digital Health, which harvests biological data using ingestible sensors and skin patches, to improve diagnosis and treatments already available. It's making edible sensors that fit inside pills and tell your doctor when pills are taken. They're expected to come to market in late 2014.


When a patient takes pills erratically and their condition worsens, a doctor may simply up the dose. Proteus is building silicon, copper and magnesium chips of about 1mm squared that can be inserted into tablets -- these report via Bluetooth when a pill's been taken.


In May, the firm announced a $62.5 million (£38.9 million) funding round, including investment from Oracle. But smart pills are just the start, says Cowling. Proteus's patch sensor can gather dozens of other data points, including heart rate, to present a sophisticated picture of patient health -- like a medical-grade FuelBand. "We can now get a formal classification of what disability looks like -- we can measure it." 

Elvin Joel Estrada's curator insight, November 20, 2013 1:55 PM

Modern Medicine,  is breaking your privacy?

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European Men Grew Unprecedented 4.3 Inches in The Last Century

European Men Grew Unprecedented 4.3 Inches in The Last Century | Amazing Science |
According to a study by Prof Timothy Hatton, the average height of European men grew by an unprecedented 4.3 inches from the mid-19th century to 1980.


Prof. Hatton examined and analyzed a new dataset for the average height at the age of around 21 of adult male birth cohorts, from the 1870s to 1980, in 15 European countries. The data were drawn from a variety of sources. For the most recent decades the data were mainly taken from height-by-age in cross sectional surveys.


Meanwhile, observations for the earlier years were based on data for the heights of military conscripts and recruits. The data is for men only as the historical evidence for women’s heights is severely limited.


“Increases in human stature are a key indicator of improvements in the average health of populations. The evidence suggests that the improving disease environment, as reflected in the fall in infant mortality, is the single most important factor driving the increase in height. The link between infant mortality and height has already been demonstrated by a number of studies,” Prof. Hatton explained.


In northern and middle European countries including Britain and Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and Germany there was a ‘distinct quickening’ in the pace of advance in the period spanning the two World Wars and the Great Depression.


This is striking because the period largely predates the wide implementation of major breakthroughs in modern medicine and national health services. One possible reason, alongside the crucial decline in infant mortality, for the rapid growth of average male height in this period was that there was a strong downward trend in fertility at the time, and smaller family sizes have already been linked with increasing height.


Other factors in the increase in average male height include an increased income per capita; more sanitary housing and living conditions; better general education about health and nutrition (which led to better care for children and young people within the home); and better social services and health systems.

Zeke Robinson's curator insight, March 23, 2015 10:04 PM

It talks about how we are developing with health and disease rates and mortality rates as times goes on because we are becoming healthier and adapting more to things like this. 

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NASA: Sun expected to flip its magnetic field upside down, reversing polarity

NASA: Sun expected to flip its magnetic field upside down, reversing polarity | Amazing Science |

The sun's magnetic field is about to flip upside down as it reverses its polarity. In August Nasa said the reversal would happen in three to four months time, although that it would be impossible to pinpoint a more specific date.

Solar physicist Todd Hoeksema from Stanford University said that the reversal would have "ripple effects" across the whole of the solar system.

According to Nasa the sun's magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. In comparison the last time the Earth's magnetic field flipped was almost 800,000 years ago.

The pole reversal happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun's "inner magnetic dynamo" reorganises itself. The exact internal mechanism that drives the magnetic shift is not yet entirely understood by researchers, although the sun's magnetic field has been monitored on a daily basis by Scientists at Stanford's Wilcox Solar Observatory.

This will be the fourth such shift that the observatory has monitored.

Throughout the 11 year solar cycle new polarity builds up as 'sunspots' which are areas of intense magnetic activity that appear as blotches near the equator of the sun's surface.


As to what effect this may have, scientists said it could be widespread. The sun's magnetic field exerts its influence in a wide space, known as the heliosphere. The heliosphere stretches well beyond Pluto and is as far reaching as NASA's Voyager probes close to the edge of interstellar space. During a magnetic flip the sun is also typically at its peak.


Another possible impact is that the sun's altered magnetic field could interact with the Earth's own magnetic field which could increase the number and range of auroras.

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Electron Appears Completely Round, No Electric Dipole Found

Electron Appears Completely Round, No Electric Dipole Found | Amazing Science |

Scientists are unanimous that their current theory of physics is incomplete. Yet every effort to expose a deeper theory has so far disappointed. Now the most sensitive test yet of the shape of an electron—a property that could expose underlying “new physics”—has failed to find hints of anything novel. The finding rules out a number of favored ideas for extending physics, including some versions of a popular idea called supersymmetry.


The result came from a search for the so-called electric dipole moment in the electron. A familiar example of a dipole is a bar magnet, which is shaped like a dumbbell with a north and a south pole. Electrons are traditionally thought of as spherical, but if they had dipole moments, they would be slightly squashed. “It’s a question of: Does the electron look the same no matter which way you look at it?” explains physicist Jony Hudson of Imperial College London. “The dipole moment is physicists’ technical way to describe if it’s symmetric or not.”


The Standard Model of particle physics, which describes all the known particles in the universe, predicts a practically zero electric dipole moment for the electron. Yet theories that include additional, yet-to-be-detected particles predict a much larger dipole moment. Physicists have been searching for this dipole moment for 50 years. Now a group called the ACME collaboration, led by David DeMille of Yale University and John Doyle and Gerald Gabrielse of Harvard University, has performed a test 10 times more sensitive than previous experiments, and still found no signs of an electric dipole moment in the electron. The electron appears to be spherical to within 0.00000000000000000000000000001 centimeter, according to ACME’s results, which were posted on the preprint site arXiv. “It’s a surprise,” says Ed Hinds, also of Imperial College London, who worked with Hudson on the previous best limit, set in 2011. “Why on Earth is it still zero?”


The experiments are probing the quantum nature of an electron. According to quantum mechanics, all particles, including the electron, should give rise to a cloud of virtual particles around them that continually sweep in and out of existence. If the standard model is all there is, then these virtual particles would be everyday, run-of-the-mill particles. But if more exotic particles are out there, they should pop up in the virtual clouds around electrons, causing the clouds to be asymmetric—in other words, causing an electric dipole moment.


To search for this asymmetry, scientists spin electrons to test whether they are round or oblong. Whereas a billiards ball will spin smoothly, an egg will wobble. The same goes for an electron with an electric dipole moment. The ACME researchers looked at electrons in thorium monoxide molecules, whose heavy mass and special characteristics would make wobbling more conspicuous. “Their choice of molecule is very clever,” says Hudson, whose experiment uses another molecule, called terbium fluoride. “I’m sort of jealous—I wish I’d thought of that.” Previous generations of experiments looked for the effect on single atoms, which turned out to be much more difficult. The ACME scientists relied on careful measurements with microwave spectroscopy to notice any wobbling, and labored to keep their experiment free of magnetic fields or other contaminants that could cause systematic errors. “It’s hard because there are a lot of things that can mimic the effect, and the dipole moment is just so small,” says Ben Sauer, another member of the Imperial College London team.

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Siats meekerorum: Large predatory dinosaur fossils found similar in size with T. rex

Siats meekerorum: Large predatory dinosaur fossils found similar in size with T. rex | Amazing Science |
Paleontologists announced today the discovery of a new predatory dinosaur that lived in what is modern-day Utah around 100 million years ago.


“This dinosaur was a colossal predator second only to the great Tyrannosaurus rex and perhaps Acrocanthosaurus in the North American fossil record,” said Dr Lindsay Zanno from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Field Museum of Natural History, the lead author on the paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

The prehistoric giant is named Siats meekerorum. The genus name, Siats, refers to a cannibalistic monster from the mythology of the Ute Native American people. Its specific name acknowledges the Meeker family for their support for early career paleontologists at the Field Museum.


Siats meekerorum was over 9 meters long and weighed more than 4 tons. Despite its large size, the dinosaur is not a close relative of Tyrannosaurus rex and other tyrannosaurs. Rather, it belongs to the carcharodontosaurian group of theropods, whose more famous members include giants like the Argentinean Giganotosaurus. Siats meekerorum belongs to a branch of the carcharodontosaurian family tree that was previously unknown in North America.


“We were thrilled to discover the first dinosaur of its kind in North America and add to mounting evidence that dinosaurs were widely dispersed across the globe 100 million years ago” said Dr Peter Makovicky of the Field Museum of Natural History, who is a co-author of the discovery paper.


Siats meekerorum comes from the middle of a 30-million-year gap in the fossil record of North American large predatory dinosaurs, during which the top predator role changed hands from carcharodontodsaurians in the Early Cretaceous to tyrannosaurs in the Late Cretaceous.

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Astronomers Witness An Extraordinarily Bright Stellar Explosion

Astronomers Witness An Extraordinarily Bright Stellar Explosion | Amazing Science |
On April 27, NASA’s Fermi and Swift satellites detected a record-setting burst from a dying star located in a nearby galaxy. Most likely the result of a massive supernova, it produced the highest-energy light ever detected by scientists.


Above image: The map above shows gamma-ray energies above 100 million electron volts (MeV). The first frame shows the sky during a three-hour interval just before the explosion. The second frame shows a three-hour interval starting 2.5 hours before the burst, and ending a half-hour into the event. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration.


The gamma-ray burst, called GRB 130427A, has wowed astronomers for a host of reasons. Not only was it freakishly powerful — one gamma-ray was measured at 94 billion electron volts (GeV) — but it was uncharacteristically long-lasting; the burst lasted for hours and was detectable for most of the day by Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT). It produced 35 billion times the energy of visible light, and is about three times more powerful than the LAT’s previous record.


The explosion set a new record for the longest gamma-ray emission from a gamma-ray burst. And at 3.6 billion light years away, it was actually quite close. GRB 130427A falls within the closest 5% of all supernovas ever recorded. Celestial explosions like these are exceptionally rare, happening only once every million years or so per galaxy. They’re also very difficult to detect; the hyperfast jet emanating out from the ensuing black hole has be to positioned directly towards Earth. Needless to say, astronomers are not able to see the vast majority of GRB events.


Gamma-ray bursts happen when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse under their tremendous weight. As the core collapses into a newly-formed black hole, jets of material shoot outward through the collapsing star at nearly the speed of light. The jets continue into space, where they interact with gas shed by the star to produce bright afterglows.


These explosions wreak havoc to the immediate area. Any habitable planet located within several thousand light years are likely to be sterilized by such events. "We have waited a long time for a gamma-ray burst this shockingly, eye-wateringly bright," noted Julie McEnery through an official statement. "The GRB lasted so long that a record number of telescopes on the ground were able to catch it while space-based observations were still ongoing." McEnery is a project scientist for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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South Pole detector spots 28 out-of-this-world neutrinos

South Pole detector spots 28 out-of-this-world neutrinos | Amazing Science |

Some of the earliest and most successful neutrino detectors were based on enormous tanks of water. For example, Japan's Super Kamiokande held 3,000 tons of water, and researchers used the detector to watch for a sign that a neutrino had bumped up against one of the water molecules. A recently constructed detector takes a similar approach, observing about a cubic kilometer of water using over 5,000 optical sensors. It just relies on nature to provide the water. The detector is called IceCube, and its detectors are buried in the South Pole's ice cap.


IceCube has now scored its first big success, detecting the highest-energy neutrinos ever spotted. Odds are good that these neutrinos originated from an event distant from Earth, but remaining uncertainties mean that we can't conclude that with certainty.


The reason so much water is needed is that neutrinos don't like to interact with normal matter. Each second, a trillion neutrinos pass through your hand, but only about two will interact with an atom in your body throughout your entire lifetime. Spotting a neutrino requires a detector with a lot of material. Water has worked well, simply because it's relatively easy to get lots of it into one place and because it's transparent to much of the light that's created when high-energy neutrinos collide with an atom. Simply point enough photodetectors at a big tank of water and wait.


But rather than building a tank, the IceCube team decided to go where the water was already. They dropped strings of photodetectors to depths of over 2km in holes drilled in the ice and started watching for the tell-tale light. Since the bandwidth from the detectors to the rest of the world is pretty low, they even set up a server farm at the South Pole to filter the results for interesting events first.


These events are caused when high-energy neutrinos interact with an atom and create a spray of particles, some of which take away enough energy that they would move faster than the speed of light in the ice. To slow down, they emit detectable Cherenkov radiation.


Most of the higher energy neutrinos that IceCube has detected have come from collisions between cosmic rays and our atmosphere. However, there are limits to how energetic these neutrinos will get, and the IceCube team searched above those limits by adding up the energy in all of the photons that were detected as a single event.


Earlier this year, scientists using a powerful detector at the South Pole discovered Ernie and Bert, two neutrinos with energies over 100 times higher than the protons that circulate in the LHC. Now, the same team has combed through its data to find an additional 26 high-energy events, and they've done a careful analysis to show that these are almost certainly originating from somewhere outside our Solar System.


Neutrinos are incredibly light particles that rarely interact with normal matter; staggering numbers pass through the Earth (and your body) every second. To spot one, you need a very large detector, and IceCube fits the bill. Located in the ice cap at the South Pole, the detector works by capturing the light produced when neutrinos interact with the huge volume of ice present. To do so, holes were drilled up to 2 km into the ice, and strings of photodetectors were lowered into them. All told, they pick up the signals from a cubic kilometer of ice.


Further reading:

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Detecting Molecules Through 14 mm Thick Bone

Detecting Molecules Through 14 mm Thick Bone | Amazing Science |

To understand the brain and its chemical complexities, researchers would like to peer inside the skull and observe neurotransmitters at work. Unfortunately, research methods to measure levels of certain chemicals in the brain require drilling holes in the skull, and noninvasive imaging techniques, such as MRI, can’t detect specific molecules. Now, as a first step toward a new imaging tool, researchers have shown that they can use Raman spectroscopy todetect chemical signatures through bone (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/ja409378f).


With Raman spectroscopy, chemists can look for chemicals of interest sitting inside a range of materials, such as explosives inside plastic bottles. Richard P. Van Duyne’s group at Northwestern University has used the technique to monitor glucose levels through the skin of living rats (Anal. Chem. 2011, DOI: 10.1021/ac202343e).


To peer through bone, Sharma and colleagues combined two spectroscopic techniques: surface-enhanced and spatially offset Raman spectroscopy. Both methods involve exciting samples with laser light and then monitoring for specific Raman signals from the sample that are characteristic of a chemical of interest.


In the surface-enhanced variety, gold nanoparticles boost the Raman signal produced by molecules bound to their surfaces. The spatially offset method allows researchers to detect a useful signal from molecules located up to 20 mm within a sample. Researchers can isolate signals from these buried compounds by observing Raman signals at a different spot from where they shine the laser light. The separation ensures that the molecule’s signal isn’t dwarfed by scattered laser light from the sample’s surface.


As a test of the combination method, the researchers went to the market and bought a cut of lamb shoulder with a bone 3 to 8 mm thick. The human skull is 3 to 14 mm thick. The team then injected 90 trillion gold nanoparticles into the meat behind the bone. They had decorated the particles with a compound that has a strong Raman signature. When they shined 785-nm laser light on the bone, they could immediately detect the chemical signature of the reporter molecule. Sharma jumped up and down when she saw the results. “Everything I read and everyone we talked to said, ‘No, this shouldn’t work,’” through bone because the material isn’t transparent enough, Sharma says.


Right now the researchers cannot detect where the nanoparticles are located within the tissue, Van Duyne says, only that they are on the other side of the bone. And even with further refinements, the depth of tissue penetration is likely to be limited to areas close to the tissue’s outer surface.

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DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics: Telemanipulation in minimally invasive surgery

DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics: Telemanipulation in minimally invasive surgery | Amazing Science |

Conventional minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is per­formed through small incisions in the patient’s skin, pre­serving healthy tissue. The surgeon works with long slender instruments, and is separated from the operation area. This arrangement challenges the surgeon’s skills due to lost hand-eye-coordination and missing direct manual con­tact to the operation area. Therefore, many sophisticated procedures still cannot be performed minimally invasive. To overcome the drawbacks of conventional MIS, telepresence and telemanipulation techniques play an im­portant role: In case of minimally invasive robotic surgery (MIRS) the instruments are not directly manipulated anymore.

Instead, they are held by specialized robot arms and remotely commanded by the surgeon who comfortably sits at an input console. The surgeon virtually regains direct access to the operating field by having 3D endoscopic sight, force feedback, and restored hand-eye-coordination.


The DLR telesurgery scenario MIROSURGE includes an input (or master) console as well as a teleoperator consisting of 3 surgical robots (MIRO). Usually two MIROs carry surgical instruments (MICA) equipped with miniatur­ized force/torque sensors to capture reaction forces with manipulated tissue. One more MIRO can (automatically) guide a stereo video laparoscope. Both the stereo video stream and the measured forces are displayed to the surgeon at the master console. So users are not limited to see but can also feel what they are doing. An Omega.7 input device is used as force display.


Our ultimate ambition is robot supported surgery on the beating heart. The application of the heart-lung machine would become obsolete for a whole variety of procedures that way. Collaterally, the very traumatizing effects of the heart-lung machine on the patient could be avoided (e.g. blood contact with extrinsic surfaces, inevitable blood clotting attenuation, typical generalized inflammation reaction). Therefore, performance characteristics of the MIROs are designed to follow a stabilized beating heart motion. Additionally, the endoscopic video stream can be stabilized by optical tracking in real time so that a virtually stationary video picture can be consistently presented to the surgeon.

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Magnetic switches could use 10,000 times less power than current silicon transistors

Magnetic switches could use 10,000 times less power than current silicon transistors | Amazing Science |
New research from UC Berkeley provides a proof of concept for a magnetic switch that could make computers thousands of times more energy-efficient, and provide some amazing new abilities, too.


Computer engineering, but in particular mobile computer engineering, is all about playing a zero-sum game with yourself. Power and efficiency are constantly undercutting one another, creating confounding incentives for designers looking to set records for both talk time and processing speed. At this point it seems obvious that both speed and battery life are limited by the old process of laying down increasingly dense little fields of silicon transistors; whether it’s a quantum computer or a graphene chip, getting more computing power for less electrical power will require a fundamental shift in how we build computers.


A new study from UC Berkeley hopes to provide the basis for just such an advance, laying out their attempt at a silicon replacement they say uses up to 10,000 timesless power than prior solutions. They have designed a system that uses magnetic switches in place of transistors, negating the need for a constant electric current. The idea of a magnetic transistor has been discussed since the early 1990s, but the idea’s downfall has always been the need to create a strong magnetic field to orient the magnets for easy switching; all or most of the power saved by the magnets is spent creating the field needed to actually use those magnets.


This new study, published in Nature, uses a wire made of tantalum, a somewhat rare element used to make capacitors in everything from Blu-Ray players to mobile phones. Tantalum is a good, light-weight conductor, but it has one particularly odd property that’s made it uniquely useful for magnetic applications: when a current flows through the tantalum wire, all clockwise-spinning electrons migrate to one side of the wire, all counter-clockwise-spinning to the other. The physical movement of these electrons creates a polarization in the system — the same sort of polarization prior researchers have had to create with an expensive magnetic field.


If this approach were successful and practical, we could begin to capitalize on some of the shared benefits of all magnetic computing strategies, the most glaring of which is that magnetic switches do not require constant current to maintain their state. Much like a liquid crystal in an e-ink display, a magnetic transistor will maintain its assigned state until actively flipped. This means that a theoretical magnetic processor could use far less energy than semi-conducting silicon ones by accruing energy savings whenever it is not actively doing work. And since tantalum is a fairly well-known material, its incorporation into the manufacturing process shouldn’t prove too difficult.

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Printing computer OLED displays and solar cells

Printing computer OLED displays and solar cells | Amazing Science |

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) --- shown here in this model of the bus stop of the future --- may soon be printed.


Printable curved computer displays, TV screens, signs, clothing, fluorescent wallpaper, and flexible solar cells will soon be possible using a new printing process for flexible, organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, say German scientists.


“Almost any surface can be made into a display,” said Dr. Armin Wedel, head of division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. The first curved OLED screens were demonstrated at this year’s IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin.


Wedel believes OLEDs are ideally suited to all kinds of lighting, including electronic posters, advertisements, large image projections, and road signs. The scientists worked together with mechanical engineering company MBRAUN to develop a production facility able to create OLEDs as well as organic solar cells on an industrial scale.


The new process uses solutions containing luminescent organic molecules and absorptive molecules respectively, which makes printing them onto a carrier film straightforward. This replaces the current process, which involves vaporizing small molecules in a high vacuum, making it very expensive and limited to laboratory demonstrations.

At the heart of the pilot plant is a robot that controls different printers that basically act like an inkjet printing system. OLEDs are applied to the carrier material one layer at a time using a variety of starting materials. This produces a homogenous surface that creates a perfect lighting layer.


OLEDs have several advantages over conventional display technologies. Unlike liquid crystal displays they do not require backlighting, which means they consume less energy. Since the diodes themselves emit colored light, contrast and color reproduction are better. The electroluminescent displays also offer a large viewing angle of almost 180 degrees. And because they require no backlighting, they can be very thin, making it possible to create entirely new shapes.


Wedel said investment is needed for the technology to move forward. “My vision is that the day will come when all we need do is switch ink cartridges in our printers in order to print out our own lighting devices,” he said.

Brittney's curator insight, November 23, 2013 10:55 AM

More Solar cell printing.  With tech like this, the price per watt should drastically drop, making it on par with oil and gas for electricity within 4-5 years

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Senescence is a developmental mechanism contributing to embryonic growth patterning and not only linked to aging

Senescence is a developmental mechanism contributing to embryonic growth patterning and not only linked to aging | Amazing Science |

Senescence is a form of cell-cycle arrest linked to tumor suppression and aging. However, it remains controversial and has not been documented in nonpathologic states.


Two studies published in Cell describe senescence as a normal and critical process during embryogenesis. They attribute a completely new and unexpected role to this process, which was always linked to aging and cancer.

“For the first time, these studies clearly show that senescence is a programmed developmental mechanism. This new description helps us to understand the role and significance of senescence as a normal cellular process”, explains Bill Keyes, head of the Mechanisms of Cancer and Aging laboratory at the CRG. “Our work demonstrates that in the embryo, the senescent cells are required, and through their normal secretory function, instruct tissue growth and patterning”, adds Dr. Keyes.

Keyes and collaborators describe senescence as a fundamental part of the biology of two major signalling centres in the embryo that helps to control normal limb and nervous system development. Likewise, the CNIO study led by Manuel Serrano, and postdoctoral researcher Daniel Munoz-Espin, identified identical processes in two other tissues, in the developing kidneys and ear.

Both studies show how the coordinated removal of senescent cells by macrophages plays a key role in the remodelling of the developing tissues, a process that is required for normal patterning. Interestingly, the tissues where the researchers describe the occurrence of senescence are among those most frequently affected by congenital birth defects, suggesting that an investigation of the mechanisms that regulate senescence in the embryo might help to explain the causes of some developmental abnormalities.


Thanks to this new perspective of senescence, the scientists suggest that senescence related to aging and cancer is an evolutionary adaptation of a developmental mechanism. “Hopefully, with the identification of senescence in a normal setting in the embryo, this will allow us to identify new mediators and biomarkers of senescence in future studies” says Mekayla Storer, a PhD student in the CRG and first author on the study, adding that “these findings change the way we understood senescence in the past, and give us novel important information to tackle cancer and aging”. 


Embryonic senescent cells are nonproliferative and share features with oncogene-induced senescence (OIS), including expression of p21, p15, and mediators of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Interestingly, mice deficient in p21 have defects in embryonic senescence, AER maintenance, and patterning. Surprisingly, the underlying mesenchyme was identified as a source for senescence instruction in the AER, whereas the ultimate fate of these senescent cells is apoptosis and macrophage-mediated clearance. We propose that senescence is a normal programmed mechanism that plays instructive roles in development, and that OIS is an evolutionarily adapted reactivation of a developmental process.

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Medical Training Goes Holographic

Medical Training Goes Holographic | Amazing Science |

A system called zSpace uses a large screen, glasses and pointer — like a ballpoint pen — to interact with and manipulate 3-D images. The technology allows users to look completely around the object, examine it from all angles, and zoom in and out. It’s also finding its way into universities and will be used to train med students and future surgeons. One day, the doctor operating on a wounded soldier or diagnosing a veteran may have had his humble beginnings exploring a virtual body.


“It’s not like 3-D when you go to the movie; that’s actually one dimension,” said David Lenihan, dean of preclinical medicine and associate professor of neuroanatomy at Touro College in New York. The system will be part of a virtual laboratory set to open in fall 2014 at Touro. “You have to take the field of view that it gives you. With zSpace, you can look around.”


Lenihan said that from an academic perspective, virtual humans modeled with 3-D holography techniques will provide some benefits over cadaver dissections. One of the problems with real materials is how things shift after death — the vascular system is not quite where it would normally be; the muscle tone isn’t quite as firm. “Your skill set is actually much better in the virtual world, because the relationships are better to real life,” he said.


Increases in computing power mean that processing complex, data-rich MRI scans or radiographs is now easier and faster. Computers can run the information-intensive models and present the image in robust, movable 3-D that you can seemingly pull out of the screen and spin around. While the virtual bodies dissected at Touro will be rendered objects designed with the University of Iowa, Lenihan said future applications on zSpace and similar technologies could pull data from real patients.


Another potential benefit of the holographic technology is the Magic School Bus-like ability to zoom down to the smallest scales and explore the body in ways you cannot experience in real life.

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The real transformer: This drone can fly, swim, drive, and hop its way through a mission

The real transformer: This drone can fly, swim, drive, and hop its way through a mission | Amazing Science |

The future of military drones isn't surveillance and dropping bombs. It's transformation: a single unmanned vehicle that can fly, swim, drive, and even hop like a frog across a variety of terrains and obstacles. Conceived by the Intelligent Systems, Robotics and Cybernetics unit at Sandia National Laboratories, the  "Multi-Modal Vehicle Concept" would travel land, sea, and air by transforming itself to accommodate different terrains. Its wings become fins as it dives into water, or underwater paddles that shed casings to reveal wheels as it moves towards land -- wheels with the ability to jump 30 feet into the air. An entire campaign could be conducted by a remote operator or, more likely, semi-autonomously.


As it stands now, carrying out a similar mission would require coordinating a team of unmanned aerial, undersea, and ground vehicles made by different manufacturers with different communications systems. It would take careful planning to make sure all vehicles are in place at the right time. But Sandia says that because the Multi-Modal Vehicle is designed modularly and works off one interface, it won't be subject to those same hang-ups, and that it can adapt mid-mission as conditions change.


"The real value added of the Multi-Modal Vehicle is that it allows maximum flexibility in highly complex missions without the concern over whether or not all of the vehicles are positioned just right," said Jon Salton, a Sandia engineer working on the project. Sandia has such high aspirations for the Multi-Modal Vehicle that they say it might eventually be able to carry out missions usually reserved for Special Operations forces.


"A successful Multi-Modal Vehicle should be at least be able to substantially enhance the capabilities of Special Ops," said Salton. Thus far, Sandia has built and conducted limited testing on conceptual hardware, designating it a "mature concept." Next on the list is to secure funding for the prototype and approach industry partners to turn the concept into reality.


The current Multi-Modal Vehicle does have its limitations. Because it sheds parts and material as it transforms from one mode to another, recovery is almost impossible -- making every mission an expensive one-way trip.

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New Particle Points to Elusive Four-Quark Matter

New Particle Points to Elusive Four-Quark Matter | Amazing Science |
According to BESIII physicists, their discovery of a new particle named Zc (4020) hints at a novel class of four-quark objects.


The exotic subatomic particle could be the first clear indication that more than three quark particles can be produced experimentally. If it is what physicists think it is, the particle could provide clues about the force that holds nuclei together and perhaps about the earliest moments of the universe.


“We have very solid evidence of an unconventional particle,” says Ronald Poling, a physicist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “But it’s the interpretation — the possibility that it has four quarks — that makes it very exciting.”


Physicists have known since the 1960s that protons and neutrons are made up of quarks, as are hundreds of other particles. All of these particles can be divided into two categories: mesons, which contain two quarks, and baryons (including protons and neutrons), which contain three.


Over the last decade many physicists, including those at the Belle experiment in Japan and the BESIII experiment in China have fruitlessly searched for particles with more than three quarks. Probing a particle’s insides is tough because physicists can’t see quarks directly. Instead they have to measure all the properties they can for a given particle, such as its mass, charge and decay products, looking for unusual characteristics that can be explained only by a peculiar combination of quarks.


Quarks are the fundamental building blocks of nature. They combine to form protons, neutrons and hundreds of other particles called hadrons.

Until recently hadrons were believed to have only two possible structures. Baryons, including the proton and neutron, are made of three quarks. Mesons, like the pion and kaon, consist of a quark and an antiquark. All mesons and most baryons are highly unstable, living much less than a millionth of a second after production.


In April 2013, the BESIII experiment announced the discovery of a mysterious four-quark particle called Zc (3900). The properties of the Zc (3900) reveal that it consists primarily of a charm-flavored quark and its antiquark bound together similarly to the long-known charmonium states. The particle is different in that it carries an electric charge, signaling that a light quark-antiquark pair must also be lurking inside.


“While the theoretical picture remains to be finalized, more and more clues are suggesting that we are witnessing new forms of matter. And while a new ‘zoo’ of mysterious particles is emerging, it seems a new classification system may soon be at hand to understand it.”


Bibliographic information: Ablikim M et al. 2013. Observation of a charged charmoniumlike structure in e+e−→(D∗D¯∗)±π∓ at s√=4.26\,GeV. Physical Review Letters, submitted for publication; arXiv: 1308.2760

Ablikim M et al. 2013. Observation of a charged charmoniumlike structure Z_c(4020) and search for the Z_c(3900) in e+e- to pi+pi-h_c. Physical Review Letters, submitted for publication; arXiv: 1309.1896

Ablikim M et al. 2013. Observation of a charged (DD*bar)- mass peak in e+e- –> pi+ (DD*bar)- at Ecm=4.26 GeV. Physical Review Letters, submitted for publication; arXiv: 1310.1163

Ablikim M et al. 2013. Observation of e+e−→γX(3872) at BESIII. Physical Review Letters, submitted for publication; arXiv: 1310.4101

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World's oldest living animal was 507 years old when scientists accidentally killed it

World's oldest living animal was 507 years old when scientists accidentally killed it | Amazing Science |

World's oldest creature - known as Ming the mollusc - is proven even older than previously thought. When scientists inadvertently killed what turned out to be the world’s oldest living creature, it was bad enough. Now, their mistake has been compounded after further research found it was even older – at 507 years.

The ocean quahog - a type of deep-sea clam - was dredged alive from the bottom of the North Atlantic near Iceland in 2006 by researchers. They then put it in a freezer, as is normal practice, unaware of its age.


It was only when it was taken to a laboratory that scientists from Bangor University studied it and concluded it was 400 years old.

The discovery made it into the Guinness Book of World Records however by this time, it was too late for Ming the Mollusc – named after the Chinese dynasty on the throne when its life began.


Now, after examining the ocean quahog more closely, using more refined methods, the researchers have found the animal was actually 100 years older than they first thought.


Dr. Paul Butler, from the University’s School of Ocean Sciences, said: “We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hasty publishing our findings back then. But we are absolutely certain that we’ve got the right age now.”


A quahog’s shell grows by a layer every year, in the summer when the water is warmer and food is plentiful. It means that when its shell is cut in half, scientists can count the lines in a similar way trees can be dated by rings in their trunks.


The growth rings can be seen in two places; on the outside of the shell and at the hinge where the two halves meet. The hinge is generally considered by scientists as the best place to count the rings, as it is protected from outside elements.


When researchers originally dated Ming, they counted the rings at the hinge. However because it was so old, many had become compressed. When they looked again at the outside of the shell, they found more rings. It means the mollusc was born in 1499 – just seven years after Columbus discovered America and before Henry VIII had even married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon in 1509.

Connor Keesee's curator insight, December 5, 2013 12:30 PM

Oldest animal in history accidentally killed by scientists. The age of the shell is found by counting the rings on the outside just like a tree. The shell was found in the North Atlantic near Iceland in 2006 by researchers. The clam is called the Ming Mollusc. 

Nancy jodoin's curator insight, July 29, 2014 5:00 PM

This about the Ming dynasty with a twist.