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New microscope able to 'see' atoms for first time: Atomic structure of tiny virus imaged

New microscope able to 'see' atoms for first time: Atomic structure of tiny virus imaged | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

UCLA researchers report in the April 30 edition of the journal Cell that they have imaged a virus structure at a resolution high enough to effectively "see" atoms, the first published instance of imaging biological complexes at such a resolution. The research team, led by Hong Zhou, UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, used cryo-electron microscopy to image the structure at 3.3 angstroms. An angstrom is the smallest recognized division of a chemical element and is about the distance between the two hydrogen atoms in a water molecule.

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The Biology of the Translucent Jewel Caterpillar, the Nudibranch of the Forest

The Biology of the Translucent Jewel Caterpillar, the Nudibranch of the Forest | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scuba instructor and amateur wildlife photographer Gerardo Aizpuru spotted the creature in early April on a mangrove tree leaf near Cancun, Mexico. He submitted his pictures to Project Noah, a user-created database of geotagged wildlife photos, where various commenters identified the species as the larva of a fuzzy orange moth called Acraga coa.

 

Although it’s not 100 percent certain that the “jewel caterpillar” Aizpuru photographed is Acraga coa, it almost definitely belongs to the same family of moths, known as Dalceridae. Scientists have identified around 84 different species of Dalceridae moths, whose larvae are sometimes called “slug caterpillars” because they are so gooey.

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Chinese group breaks distance record for teleporting qubits

Chinese group breaks distance record for teleporting qubits | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A team of Chinese physicists has broken the distance record for teleporting qubits, extending it from 16 to 97 kilometers. They did so, as they explain in their paper uploaded to the preprint server arXiv, using the phenomenon known as entanglement.

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Nut-Cracking Chimps Demonstrate Cultural Differences

Nut-Cracking Chimps Demonstrate Cultural Differences | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Humans aren't the only primate species with cultural differences: even in the same environment, different groups of chimpanzees use different tools. A chimpanzee's tool of choice for cracking nuts (for example) depends on its community.

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Bird color variations speed up evolution

Bird color variations speed up evolution | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Researchers have found that bird species with multiple plumage color forms within in the same population, evolve into new species faster than those with only one color form, confirming a 60-year-old evolution theory.
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New monomeric site-specific nucleases for genome editing

New monomeric site-specific nucleases for genome editing | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Targeted manipulation of complex genomes often requires the introduction of a double-strand break at defined locations by site-specific DNA endonucleases. Here, we describe a monomeric nuclease domain derived from GIY-YIG homing endonucleases for genome-editing applications. Fusion of the GIY-YIG nuclease domain to three-member zinc-finger DNA binding domains generated chimeric GIY-zinc finger endonucleases (GIY-ZFEs). Significantly, the I-TevI-derived fusions (Tev-ZFEs) function in vitro as monomers to introduce a double-strand break, and discriminate in vitro and in bacterial and yeast assays against substrates lacking a preferred 5'-CNNNG-3' cleavage motif. The Tev-ZFEs function to induce recombination in a yeast-based assay with activity on par with a homodimeric Zif268 zinc-finger nuclease. We also fused the I-TevI nuclease domain to a catalytically inactive LADGLIDADG homing endonuclease (LHE) scaffold. The monomeric Tev-LHEs are active in vivo and similarly discriminate against substrates lacking the 5'-CNNNG-3' motif. The monomeric Tev-ZFEs and Tev-LHEs are distinct from the FokI-derived zinc-finger nuclease and TAL effector nuclease platforms as the GIY-YIG domain alleviates the requirement to design two nuclease fusions to target a given sequence, highlighting the diversity of nuclease domains with distinctive biochemical properties suitable for genome-editing applications.


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Several GFP transgenic fluorescent fishes commercially available now

Several GFP transgenic fluorescent fishes commercially available now | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Two cichlid species - the transparent common angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare var.) and Amatitlania nigrofasciata - implanted with the fluorescent protein gene from Jellyfish are breeds exclusively cultivated by Jy Lin Company: their skin is transparent, while its internal organs can clearly be seen. Among the common angelfish from the Amazon River, the research personnel at Jy Lin Company searched for individuals with lighter skin color due to gene mutations, and bred them to produce later generations. Then, among the later generations, the ones with the lightest color were once again selected for breeding. After similar selection and breeding were repeatedly undertaken, individuals of the common angelfish with an almost-transparent skin color were finally cultivated.

 

The R&D team at Jy Lin Company adopted the transfer method via reproductive ovary electroporation, to transplant the external fluorescent protein gene into the transparent common angelfish's ovaries. The first batch of F0 transgenic common angelfish (96 in total) were obtained in January 2008. After cultivating approximately 20,000 individuals, the research personnel were able to obtain transgenic fish that exhibited stable performance and passed the trait on to subsequent generations—the fluorescent common angelfish shows green fluorescent light from the inside out.

 

Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08nIq_okmrU

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[VIDEO] The Future of Augmented Reality

This video demonstrates the future uses of mobile augmented reality and computer vision.

 


Via Sakis Koukouvis
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Genomics study links PREX2 gene to melanoma development

Genomics study links PREX2 gene to melanoma development | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Cancer geneticist Michael Berger of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his colleagues sequenced the genomes of 25 melanoma tumours that had been donated by patients and compared them to the patients' normal cells. They found that one gene, PREX2, was mutated in 11 of the 25 tumour samples, and that genetic rearrangements occurred near this gene in nine patients. PREX2 produces a protein that curtails the action of another protein called PTEN, which is involved in preventing cancer development.

 

PREX2 itself is probably not a good drug target, because the mutations found in the gene do not cluster in any single location that might be easily pinpointed by a drug, says cancer researcher Levi Garraway, also at the Broad Institute, who led the study. However, Garraway says, the discovery should help researchers to improve their knowledge of the biological pathways that are disrupted in melanomas. In turn, that could lead scientists to genes and proteins in other parts of those pathways that might be better drug targets.

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Rare protozoan from Norwegian lake does not fit on main branches of tree of life

Rare protozoan from Norwegian lake does not fit on main branches of tree of life | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Biologists all over the world have been eagerly awaiting the results of the genetic analysis of one of the world's smallest known species, hereafter called the protozoan, from a little lake 30 kilometer south of Oslo in Norway.

 

When researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway compared its genes with all other known species in the world, they saw that the protozoan did not fit on any of the main branches of the tree of life. This strange protozoan has four flagella. The rest of the entire tree of life is divided by organisms that have either one or two flagella.

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Wolfram|Alpha: Thousands of Widgets - large variety of categories

Wolfram|Alpha: Thousands of Widgets - large variety of categories | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Find, customize, share, and embed free Wolfram|Alpha Widgets in dozens of categories: weather, calculators, math, science, finance, health & nutrition, astronomy, geography, etc.

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High-temperature superconductivity after 25 years: Still not completely understood

High-temperature superconductivity after 25 years: Still not completely understood | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Review article in NATURE.

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China plans to have a 5 megawatt Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor in 2015

China plans to have a 5 megawatt Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor in 2015 | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The China Academy of Sciences in January 2011 launched a program of R&D on thorium-breeding molten-salt reactors (Th-MSR or TMSR), otherwise known as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR), claiming to have the world's largest national effort on these and hoping to obtain full intellectual property rights on the technology. A 5 MWe MSR is apparently under construction at Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (under the Academy) with 2015 target operation.

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How to Rid the World of man-made Plutonium - the “Element from Hell?

How to Rid the World of man-made Plutonium - the “Element from Hell? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The vast majority of the radioactive plutonium on the planet is man-made—roughly 500 metric tons, or enough to make 100,000 nuclear weapons by the calculations of the International Panel on Fissile Materials. Much of it is the legacy of the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia in the latter decades of the 20th century but, more and more, it is also the legacy of nuclear power. Now a team of scientists—physicists Frank von Hippel and Richard Garwin along with environmental scientists Rodney Ewing and Allison Macfarlane—suggest that burying plutonium is the only reasonable solution to this problematic stockpile.

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Antarctic ice shelf at tipping point

Antarctic ice shelf at tipping point | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

British and American scientists have discovered a previously unknown sub-glacial basin nearly the size of New Jersey beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) - and say it puts this area of the ice sheet at risk of collapse. The team discovered the basin Using ice-penetrating radar instruments flown on aircraft, and say its location, shape and texture may put the region at a tipping point. It covers 7,700 square miles - nearly the size of New Jersey - and is well below sea level, as much as 1.2 miles deep in places.

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The Wisdom of the Slime Mold

The Wisdom of the Slime Mold | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
There is a slime mold known as Physarum polycephalum that lives in forests around the world. It feeds on various kinds of microscopic particles. As it forages for food, protoplasmic tubes of slime extend out and bifurcate like tree branches; whenever it happens upon a source of nutrients, it gathers into a bloblike formation. The whole thing — blobs connected by tubes — is a single organism, and the network serves to transport nutrients throughout its “body.”

 

An interesting fact about this slime mold is that it is highly intelligent — or at least it behaves as if it is. In locating food in its environment, it builds networks that have been shown to be optimally efficient in transporting the nutrients over the area in question. If placed in a maze, for instance, with a source of food outside the maze, the slime mold will discover the shortest path out.
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Rare-Earth Mining Rises Again in United States

Rare-Earth Mining Rises Again in United States | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The fight over the minerals that run the electronic world entered a new phase in March when the United States, the European Union and Japan collectively filed a case against China, accusing the rare-earth powerhouse of violating world trade rules to manipulate mineral prices.

 

China prepares for rare earth defense:

 

http://tinyurl.com/743m5ol

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von Neumann probes, Dyson spheres, exploratory engineering and the Fermi paradox

Fermi paradox: Our universe is fairly old - where are all the aliens? 

 

The Fermi paradox is the contrast between the high estimate of the likelihood of extraterritorial civilizations, and the lack of visible evidence of them. But what sort of evidence should we expect to see? This is what exploratory engineering can tell us, giving us estimates of what kind of cosmic structures are plausibly constructable by advanced civilizations, and what traces they would leave. Based on our current knowledge, it seems that it would be easy for such a civilization to rapidly occupy vast swathes of the universe in a visible fashion. There are game-theoretic reasons to suppose that they would do so. This leads to a worsening of the Fermi paradox, reducing the likelihood of "advanced but unseen" civilizations, even in other galaxies.


Oxford University physicist Stuart Armstrong has devised a rather ingenious and startling simple plan for doing so-one which he claims is almost within humanity's collective skill-set. Armstrong's plan sees five primary stages of construction, which when used in a cyclical manner, would result in increasingly efficient, and even exponentially growing, construction rates such that the entire project could be completed within a few decades. Broken down into five basic steps, the construction cycle looks like this:


  1. Get energy
  2. Mine Mercury
  3. Get materials into orbit
  4. Make solar collectors
  5. Extract energy


The idea is to build the entire swarm in iterative steps and not all at once. We would only need to build a small section of the Dyson sphere to provide the energy requirements for the rest of the project. Thus, construction efficiency will increase over time as the project progresses. "We could do it now," says Armstrong. It's just a question of materials and automation.


And yes, you read that right: we're going to have to mine materials from Mercury. Actually, we'll likely have to take the whole planet apart. The Dyson sphere will require a horrendous amount of material-so much so, in fact, that, should we want to completely envelope the sun, we are going to have to disassemble not just Mercury, but Venus, some of the outer planets, and any nearby asteroids as well.


Why Mercury first? According to Armstrong, we need a convenient source of material close to the sun. Moreover, it has a good base of elements for our needs. Mercury has a mass of 3.3x10^23 kg. Slightly more than half of its mass is usable, namely iron and oxygen, which can be used as a reasonable construction material (i.e. hematite). So, the useful mass of Mercury is 1.7x10^23 kg, which, once mined, transported into space, and converted into solar captors, would create a total surface area of 245g/m2. This Phase 1 swarm would be placed in orbit around Mercury and would provide a reasonable amount of reflective surface area for energy extraction.


There are five fundamental, but fairly conservative, assumptions that Armstrong relies upon for this plan. First, he assumes it will take ten years to process and position the extracted material. Second, that 51.9% of Mercury's mass is in fact usable. Third, that there will be 1/10 efficiency for moving material off planet (with the remainder going into breaking chemical bonds and mining). Fourth, that we'll get about 1/3 efficiency out of the solar panels. And lastly, that the first section of the Dyson sphere will consist of a modest 1 km2 surface area. And here's where it gets interesting: Construction efficiency will at this point start to improve at an exponential rate.


Consequently, Armstrong suggests that we break the project down into what he calls "ten year surges." Basically, we should take the first ten years to build the first array, and then, using the energy from that initial swarm, fuel the rest of the project. Using such a schema, Mercury could be completely dismantled in about four ten-year cycles. In other words, we could create a Dyson swarm that consists of more than half of the mass of Mercury in forty years! And should we wish to continue, if would only take about a year to disassemble Venus.


And assuming we go all the way and envelope the entire sun, we would eventually have access to 3.8x10^26 Watts of energy.

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marcel blattner's curator insight, February 2, 4:13 AM

Speculative but worth thinking about seriously. 

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Study: Why Some Languages Sound So Fast?

Study: Why Some Languages Sound So Fast? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

It's an almost universal truth that any language you don't understand sounds like it's being spoken at 200 m.p.h. — a storm of alien syllables almost impossible to tease apart. That, we tell ourselves, is simply because the words make no sense to us. Surely our spoken English sounds just as fast to a native speaker of Urdu. And yet it's equally true that some languages seem to zip by faster than others. Spanish blows the doors off French; Japanese leaves German in the dust — or at least that's how they sound. A new research study has found answers to why that is.

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Maglevs: The floating future of trains?

Maglevs: The floating future of trains? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
They have been promised for decades, but is it now finally the time for magnetic levitation (maglev) trains to hit the mainstream?

Via Jean-Philippe BOCQUENET
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African scientist, designer partner to fashion anti-malaria garment that wards off mosquitoes

African scientist, designer partner to fashion anti-malaria garment that wards off mosquitoes | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A Cornell University scientist and designer from Africa have together created a fashionable hooded bodysuit embedded at the molecular level with insecticides for warding off mosquitoes infected with malaria, a disease estimated to kill 655,000 people annually on the African continent.


Via Sakis Koukouvis
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Parallel selection tweaks many of the same genes to make big and heavy mice

Parallel selection tweaks many of the same genes to make big and heavy mice | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Organisms are adapted to their environment through their individual characteristics, like body size and body weight. Such complex traits are usually controlled by many genes. Plön-based researchers obtained mouse lines that have been specifically selected for extreme body weight for 25 years. One giant mouse weighs more than six “mini mice” of the same age. The Max Planck scientists were able to identify a total of 67 loci on the genome that had changed in the heavy mice. The different strains have become so similar in these regions as a result of the extreme artificial selection pressure, that the genomes of the heavier but unrelated animals were more similar at these loci than with their closely related sibling mouse strains of those with normal weight. This clearly indicates that these loci are involved in the regulation of body weight.

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Turning Nickel to Platinum: Low-Cost Nanosheet Catalyst Discovered to Sustainably Split Hydrogen from Water

Turning Nickel to Platinum: Low-Cost Nanosheet Catalyst Discovered to Sustainably Split Hydrogen from Water | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential, either by releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or requiring rare and expensive chemical elements such as platinum.

 

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with much more affordable materials. The novel form of catalytic nickel-molybdenum-nitride – described in a paper published online May 8, 2012 in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition – surprised scientists with its high-performing nanosheet structure, introducing a new model for effective hydrogen catalysis.

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Single cell genomics center launched at Broad Institute

Single cell genomics center launched at Broad Institute | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Analyzing cell-to-cell differences is crucial to answering important biological questions, such as how cancer spreads or how best to coax pluripotent stem cells to become specialized cells like neurons. However, understanding how cells differ from each other means conducting experiments on individual cells, a very difficult feat.

Now, a new center at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, suggests that single-cell genomics is moving from the proof-of-concept phase to reality.

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The 64 exaflop limit to current computing paradigm - Never Reach Zettaflops?

The 64 exaflop limit to current computing paradigm - Never Reach Zettaflops? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Dr. Thomas Sterling, Professor of Informatics & Computing at Indiana University, takes us through some of the most critical developments in high performance computing, explaining why the transition to exascale is going to be very different than the ones in the past and how the United States is losing its leadership in HPC innovation. About 64 exaflops will be the limit, depending on the amount of pain we are prepared to tolerate.

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