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Citizen science enters a new era

Citizen science enters a new era | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
From China to the Congo, a new wave of volunteer projects aims to make amateur participants actively conduct research that benefits their communities.
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Disney Research invents ‘touch interaction’ to control computers and objects

Disney Research invents ‘touch interaction’ to control computers and objects | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Disney Research has developed Touché, a new “touch interaction” sensing technology for using gestures and touch to control computing devices and everyday objects. Touché uses a novel Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing technique that can detect a touch event and simultaneously recognize complex configurations of the human hands and body during touch interaction.

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Hot giant gas planets in extrasolar systems most likely to be alone

Hot giant gas planets in extrasolar systems most likely to be alone | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists dug into Kepler's data and selected a sample of 63 planetary systems containing previously detected hot Jupiter candidates. Then they looked for signals of additional planets either crossing in front of the host stars or gravitationally tugging on the hot Jupiter's orbit. In all cases they found no evidence of additional planets.

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DMV Nevada approves regulations for self-driving cars

DMV Nevada approves regulations for self-driving cars | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Nevada is becoming the first US state to approve and regulate rules for self-driving cars on its roadways. Nevada's Legislative Commission approved regulations on Wednesday that will allow for the testing of autonomous vehicles, with a red license plate, on the streets of Las Vegas and other cities. Nevada state was originally lobbied by Google last year to introduce the regulations, although it's not clear why the search giant is throwing money at automated cars throughout Nevada instead of its home state of California. Nevertheless, Nevada has partnered with Google, insurance companies, universities, automobile manufacturers, and law enforcement to create the regulations that will introduce the future of automobiles.
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Horse origins mystery 'solved' by gene study

Horse origins mystery 'solved' by gene study | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Horses were domesticated 6,000 years ago on the grasslands of Ukraine, southwest Russia and west Kazakhstan, a genetic study shows. Domestic horses then spread across Europe and Asia, breeding with wild mares along the way.

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Biomining: How Bacteria help to mine copper

Biomining: How Bacteria help to mine copper | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Export of the metal is essential for Chile's economy - it amounts to about 70% of all Chilean exports - and the more copper the country digs out, the more money pours in. But even when a mine is estimated to contain high-grade ores, the bulk of the material coming out of the pit has a grade below 1%, and is usually discarded as waste.

 

Unless mini-miners come to help - microbes. Biosigma is a biotechnology venture set up by Codelco, a Chilean state-owned corporation and the largest copper mining company in the world, together with Japanese firm Nippon Metals and Mining. The bacteria are used to extract copper from rocks, replacing extreme heat and toxic chemicals.

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Black Holes don't eat as much as they accrete!

Black Holes don't eat as much as they accrete! | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

"The classic picture of a black hole: a dark, dense region at the center from which no light can escape, surrounded by an accretion disk of matter that constantly feeds it, shooting off relativistic jets in either direction. This is a pretty accurate picture of active black holes. But most black holes aren't active, and of the ones that are, they aren't active most of the time! Most people think of black holes as marauders, gobbling up whatever poor stars happen to get in their way. You very likely have a picture of a black hole as though it behaves like a great cosmic vacuum cleaner, sucking up anything that dares get too close to it. But how does it really work?

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Fluorescent Proteins

Fluorescent Proteins | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Fluorescent proteins provide the ability to visualize, track, and quantify molecules and events in living cells with high spatial and temporal resolution, essential features for understanding biology systems.

 

The discovery of green fluorescent protein in the early 1960s ultimately heralded a new era in cell biology by enabling investigators to apply molecular cloning methods, fusing the fluorophore moiety to a wide variety of protein and enzyme targets, in order to monitor cellular processes in living systems using optical microscopy and related methodology. When coupled to recent technical advances in widefield fluorescence and confocal microscopy, including ultrafast low light level digital cameras and multitracking laser control systems, the green fluorescent protein and its color-shifted genetic derivatives have demonstrated invaluable service in many thousands of live-cell imaging experiments.

 

Osamu Shimomura and Frank Johnson, working at the Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington in 1961, first isolated a calcium-dependent bioluminescent protein from the Aequorea victoria jellyfish, which they named aequorin. During the isolation procedure, a second protein was observed that lacked the blue-emitting bioluminescent properties of aequorin, but was able to produce green fluorescence when illuminated with ultraviolet light. Due to this property, the protein was eventually christened with the unceremonious name of green fluorescent protein (GFP). Over the next two decades, researchers determined that aequorin and the green fluorescent protein work together in the light organs of the jellyfish to convert calcium-induced luminescent signals into the green fluorescence characteristic of the species.

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Gallery of simulated black holes for the ATLAS experiment at CERN

Gallery of simulated black holes for the ATLAS experiment at CERN | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

These pictures show what a black hole looks like, now imagine a Big Bang.

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Aged hematopoietic stem cells rejuvenated to be functionally younger

Aged hematopoietic stem cells rejuvenated to be functionally younger | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers have rejuvenated aged hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) to be functionally younger, offering intriguing clues into how medicine might one day fend off some of the ailments of old age. HSCs are stem cells that originate in the bone marrow and generate all of the body's red and white blood cells and platelets. They are an essential support mechanism of blood cells and the immune system. As humans and other species age, HSCs become more numerous but less effective at regenerating blood cells and immune cells. This makes older people more susceptible to infections and disease, including leukemia. Researchers in the current study determined a protein that regulates cell signaling -- Cdc42 -- also controls a molecular process that causes HSCs from mice to age. Pharmacologic inhibition of Cdc42 reversed HSC aging and restored function similar to that of younger stem cells.

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Nanoparticles heated by radio waves trigger insulin production

Nanoparticles heated by radio waves trigger insulin production | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers have remotely activated genes inside living animals, a proof of concept that could one day lead to medical procedures in which patients’ genes are triggered on demand.

 

Jeffrey Friedman, a molecular geneticist at the Rockefeller University in New York and his colleagues coated iron oxide nanoparticles with antibodies that bind to a modified version of the temperature-sensitive ion channel TRPV1, which sits on the surface of cells. They injected these particles into tumours grown under the skins of mice, then used the magnetic field generated by a device similar to a miniature magnetic-resonance-imaging machine to heat the nanoparticles with low-frequency radio waves. In turn, the nanoparticles heated the ion channel to its activation temperature of 42 °C. Opening the channel allowed calcium to flow into cells, triggering secondary signals that switched on an engineered calcium-sensitive gene that produces insulin.

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New nanoparticles delivering high doses of antibiotics directly to bacteria

New nanoparticles delivering high doses of antibiotics directly to bacteria | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers at the MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a nanoparticle designed to evade the immune system and home in on infection sites, then unleash a focused antibiotic attack. The researchers designed antibiotic-carrying nanoparticles that can switch their charge depending on their environment. While they circulate in the bloodstream, the particles have a slight negative charge. However, when they encounter an infection site, the particles gain a positive charge, allowing them to tightly bind to bacteria and release their drug payload.

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Mars Opportunity rover reaches Endeavour crater, finds signs of ancient Martian water

Mars Opportunity rover reaches Endeavour crater, finds signs of ancient Martian water | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Over seven years into its (originally) 90-day mission, the Mars rover Opportunity arrived at the rim of Endeavour Crater. While the crater itself was formed from an ancient meteorite impact, the rocks at its rim show signs of a watery past. Chemical analysis found deposits typical of hydrothermal vents on Earth, along with features usually associated with evaporation. Together, these pieces of evidence suggest warm, shallow water formerly existed in the region of Endeavour.

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Researchers Find Room for More Data Storage in ‘Phase-Change’ Material

Researchers Find Room for More Data Storage in ‘Phase-Change’ Material | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A team led by Johns Hopkins engineers has discovered some previously unknown properties of a common memory material, paving the way for development of new forms of memory drives, movie discs and computer systems that retain data more quickly, last longer and allow far more capacity than current data storage media.

 

The research focused on an inexpensive phase-change memory alloy composed of germanium, antimony and tellurium, called GST, for short. The material is already used in rewritable optical media, including CD-RW and DVD-RW discs. But by using diamond-tipped tools to apply pressure to the materials, the Johns Hopkins-led team uncovered new electrical resistance characteristics that could make GST even more useful to the computer and electronics industries. This phase-change memory is more stable than the material used in the current flash drives. It works 100 times faster and is rewritable millions of times.

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Four white dwarf stars caught in the act of consuming 'earth-like' exoplanets

Four white dwarf stars caught in the act of consuming 'earth-like' exoplanets | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The atmosphere of a white dwarf is made up of hydrogen and/or helium, so any heavy elements that come into their atmosphere are dragged downwards to their core and out of sight within a matter of days by the dwarf's high gravity. Given this, the astronomers must literally be observing the final phase of the death of these worlds as the material rains down on the stars at rates of up to 1 million kilograms every second. Not only is this clear evidence that these stars once had rocky exoplanetary bodies which have now been destroyed, the observations of one particular white dwarf, PG0843+516, may also tell the story of the destruction of these worlds.

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Space elevator planned by 2050 planned - to include solar power

Space elevator planned by 2050 planned - to include solar power | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Obayashi Corp., headquartered in Tokyo, has unveiled a project to build a space elevator by the year 2050 that would transport passengers to a station 36,000 kilometers above the Earth and transmit power to the ground. A cable, made of carbon nanotubes, would be stretched up to 96,000 kilometers, or about one-fourth of the distance between the Earth and the moon. One end of the cable would be anchored at a spaceport on the ground, while the other would be fitted with a counterweight. The terminal station would house laboratories and living space. The elevator car could carry 30 people to the station at 200 kilometers per hour, a 7-1/2 day trip.

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First X chromosome gene (TEX11) involved in meiosis and male infertility

First X chromosome gene (TEX11) involved in meiosis and male infertility | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A team of scientists led by University of Pennsylvania veterinary researchers have identified a gene, TEX11, located on the X chromosome, which when disrupted in mice renders the males sterile and reduces female fecundity. This is the first study of the genetic causes of infertility that links a particular sex chromosome meiosis-specific gene to sterility.

 

As with mice, the TEX11 gene is also located on the human X chromosome. Given that disruption of TEX11 causes azoospermia, or non-measurable sperm levels in mice, mutations in the human TEX11 gene may be a genetic cause of infertility in men. Because men have only one X chromosome that they inherit from their mother and thus only one copy of the TEX11 gene, any mutation could theoretically lead to sterility. Like other X-linked disorders such as color blindness and muscular dystrophy, genetic mutation causing a son’s infertility could be passed from his mother. Researchers hypothesize that a screening of the TEX11 gene may provide a pre-birth diagnosis for infertility in men.

 

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Dinosaur gases 'warmed the Earth'

Dinosaur gases 'warmed the Earth' | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Giant dinosaurs could have warmed the planet with their flatulence, say researchers.

 

British scientists have calculated the methane output of sauropods, including the species known as Brontosaurus. Previous studies have suggested that the Earth was up to 10C (18F) warmer in the Mesozoic Era. By scaling up the digestive wind of cows, they estimate that the population of dinosaurs - as a whole - produced 520 million tonnes of gas annually. They suggest the gas could have been a key factor in the warm climate 150 million years ago. Current methane emissions amount to around 500 million tonnes a year from a combination of natural sources, such as wild animals, and human activities including dairy and meat production.

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Single Theory That Could Explain Emergence, Organisation And The Origin of Life

Single Theory That Could Explain Emergence, Organisation And The Origin of Life | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Biochemists have long imagined that autocatalytic sets can explain the origin of life. Now a new mathematical approach to these sets has even broader implications. What makes the approach so powerful is that the mathematics does not depend on the nature of chemistry--it is substrate independent. So the building blocks in an autocatalytic set need not be molecules at all but any units that can manipulate other units in the required way.

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INTEL to push many-integrated core chips (MIC) aggressively for Exascale computing by 2018

INTEL to push many-integrated core chips (MIC) aggressively for Exascale computing by 2018 | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Intel calls this family of products MIC - Many Integrated Core, chips, or 'Knights' line. The first MIC to be offered to the discerning public, in a limited quantity for a sort of pilot introduction, is 'Knights Corner', basically a GPU-like PCIe accelerator card with a 22-nm process MIC chip that integrates some 50 cores for roughly 1 TFLOPs DP FP performance, or nearly 6 times that of the Xeon E5 top processor bin right now, within a similar power budget - a critical point required to get to, say, Petaflop within 10 racks now, or Exaflop level performance within a single datacentre size and power budget in 2018.

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A mission to seek technological solutions to the world's great challenges

A mission to seek technological solutions to the world's great challenges | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Singularity University: meet the people who are building our future. Take top thinkers from Silicon Valley and science, mix them with scientists, innovators and philanthro-capitalists, and you've got the Singularity University – on a mission to seek technological solutions to the world's great challenges.

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Femtosecond bursts bring new precision to laser surgery

Femtosecond bursts bring new precision to laser surgery | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Whether surgeons slice with a traditional scalpel or cut away with a surgical laser, most medical operations end up removing some healthy tissue, along with the bad. This means that for delicate areas like the brain, throat, and digestive tract, physicians and patients have to balance the benefits of treatment against possible collateral damage. To help shift this balance in the patient’s favor, a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has developed a small, flexible endoscopic medical device fitted with a femtosecond laser “scalpel” that can remove diseased or damaged tissue while leaving healthy cells untouched. Thus, laser scalpels get ultrafast, ultra-accurate, and ultra-compact.

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Pi Formulas -- from Wolfram MathWorld - Mathematica

Pi Formulas -- from Wolfram MathWorld - Mathematica | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

More than you ever wanted to know about pi. Pi is an irrational number that goes on forever without end. There are more numbers in Pi than there are people on Earth, so remember infinite numbers of Pi can be very hard. However, people like Daniel Tammet have been able to dictate many digits for Pi. In fact, Tammet dictated over 22,000 Pi digits during the 2004 celebration of Pi Day.

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Extra Gene Copy Involved in Human Brain Evolution

Extra Gene Copy Involved in Human Brain Evolution | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

There are approximately 30 genes that were selectively duplicated in humans - some of our most recent genomic innovations. Intriguingly, many of these genes appear to play some role in the developing brain. Franck Polleux and Evan Eichler, genome scientists at the University of Washington, focused their expertise and attention on one of the genes known as SRGAP2. This gene has, in fact, been duplicated at least twice during the course of human evolution, first about 3.5 million years ago and then again about 2.5 million years ago.

 

Interestingly, the novel gene appears to have arisen just as the fossil record shows a transition from human's extinct Australopithecus ancestors to the genus Homo (as in Homo sapiens), which led to modern humans. That's also when the brains of our ancestors began to expand and when dramatic changes in cognitive abilities are likely to have emerged.

 

The researchers don't think SRGAP2 is solely responsible for that brain expansion, but the genetic interference does have potential benefits. Polleux and colleagues mimic the function of the human-specific SRGAP2 duplication in mice. They show that loss of SRGAP2 function accelerates neurons' migration in the developing brain, potentially helping them reach their final destination more efficiently. Moreover, neurons that have decreased SRGAP2 function, due to expression of the human-specific SRGAP2 display more knob-like extensions or spines on their surfaces, making the neurons appear much more like those found in the human brain. These spines enable connections between neurons to form.

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14 extinct animals that could be resurrected

14 extinct animals that could be resurrected | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Can lost species ever become un-extinct? In the 1993 science fiction film "Jurassic Park," dinosaurs are cloned back to life after their DNA is discovered still intact within the bellies of ancient mosquitoes that were preserved in amber. While the science of cloning is still in its infancy, many scientists now believe it's only a matter of time before many extinct animals again walk the Earth.

 


Via Sakis Koukouvis
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