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Research shows bee 'flight plans', scientists are astonished by the power of the insects' tiny brains

Research shows bee 'flight plans', scientists are astonished by the power of the insects' tiny brains | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists tracking the flight of the bumblebee have been astonished by the power of the insects' tiny brains. Let loose to find their way among five artificial flowers in a one kilometre-wide field, the bees quickly learned which routes were the most efficient. In a surprisingly short time they drew up "flight plans" that allowed them to navigate around the flowers while using as little energy as possible.


"The speed at which they learn through trial and error is quite extraordinary for bumblebees as this complex behaviour was thought to be one which only larger-brained animals were capable of," said lead scientist Professor Lars Chittka, from Queen Mary, University of London.

 

Tiny radar transponders mounted on the bees' backs were used to plot where the insects were flying. The artificial flowers were fitted with motion-triggered webcams, as well as landing platforms containing a drop of sugar solution to simulate nectar. To prompt the bumblebees to visit all five flowers, each sucrose drop was only big enough to fill one fifth of a bee's crop. The flowers, arranged in a pentagon, were also far enough apart to be out of reach of each other from a bee perspective.

 

"Using mathematical models, we dissected bees' learning process and identified how they may decipher this optimal solution without a map," said fellow Queen Mary's scientist Dr Mathieu Lihoreau, co-author of the study reported in the online journal Public Library of Science Biology. "Initially, their routes were long and complex, revisiting empty flowers several times. But, as they gained experience, the bees gradually refined their routes through trial and error. "Each time a bee tried a new route it increased its probability of reusing the new route if it was shorter than the shortest route it had tried before. Otherwise the new route was abandoned and another was tested. "After an average of 26 times each bee went foraging, which meant they tried about 20 of the 120 possible routes, they were able to select the most efficient path to visit the flowers, without computing all the possibilities."

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adam gray brooks's curator insight, February 17, 2014 9:31 PM

this article was about bumblebees brains and how quickly they learn which routes are the most efficient ones to take so they use less energy getting nectar.

 

i didn't know that bees could learn quickly  

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Organism with 7 different sexes - not only male and female

Organism with 7 different sexes - not only male and female | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The single-celled organism "Tetrahymena thermophila" has not two but seven sexes, and each one can mate with any of the others, which opens up the field of sexual attraction considerably. Unfortunately, they all look alike. What's more, the different sexes are not equally common – thanks to the peculiar way each individual's sex is determined.

http://tinyurl.com/6xeoymh

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NASA: Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow a Bubble

NASA: Hubble Sees Red Giant Blow a Bubble | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life. As stars run low on fuel, they become unstable. Every few thousand years, U Cam coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse. The gas ejected in the star’s latest eruption is clearly visible in this picture as a faint bubble of gas surrounding the star.

 

U Cam is an example of a carbon star, a rare type of star with an atmosphere that contains more carbon than oxygen. Due to its low surface gravity, typically as much as half of the total mass of a carbon star may be lost by way of powerful stellar winds. Located in the constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), near the North Celestial Pole, U Cam itself is much smaller than it appears in this Hubble image. In fact, the star would easily fit within a single pixel at the center of the image. Its brightness, however, is enough to saturate the camera's receptors, making the star look much larger than it is.

 

The shell of gas, which is both much larger and much fainter than its parent star, is visible in intricate detail in Hubble’s portrait. This phenomenon is often quite irregular and unstable, but the shell of gas expelled from U Cam is almost perfectly spherical.

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Myostatin knock-out "Mighty Mice" Made Mightier

Myostatin knock-out "Mighty Mice" Made Mightier | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The Johns Hopkins scientist who first showed that the absence of the protein myostatin leads to oversized muscles in mice and men has now found a second protein, follistatin, whose overproduction in mice lacking myostatin doubles the muscle-building effect.

 

While mice that lack the gene that makes myostatin have roughly twice the amount of body muscle as normal, mice without myostatin that also overproduce follistatin have about four times as much muscle as normal mice.

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Visualizing a Full Day of Airplane Paths over the USA

Visualizing a Full Day of Airplane Paths over the USA | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

At any given moment, there can be 30,000 manmade objects in the sky above us: Planes, helicopters, satellites, weather balloons, space debris, and other diverse technologies. They watch, they guide, they protect, they communicate, they transport, they predict, they look out into the stars. In less than 100 years, the deep blue has become a complex web of machinery.

 

Our lives are closely tied to these networks in the sky, but a disjunction has occurred between us and the aerial technologies we use every day. We rarely consider the hulking, physical machines that have now become core to our lifestyle. By not being aware of the hardware we use every day, we may also not be aware of the social, economic, cultural, and political importance of these technologies. By visualizing them, it may lead to a better understanding of the forces that are shaping our future.

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Enslaved worker ants fight back through acts of sabotage

Enslaved worker ants fight back through acts of sabotage | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

It would appear that ants that are kept as slaves by more powerful species aren't as helpless as they might appear. New research from Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany shows that enslaved ants conduct their own form of civil disobedience, by neglecting and killing the offspring of their oppressors. And by doing so, the ants may be preventing their comrades outside the nest from being enslaved themselves.

 

This discovery was made by ant researcher Susanne Foitzik who started to observe this behavior back in 2009. But what she has since discovered is that this is not an isolated trick limited to one species; over the course of her studies, Foitzik has observed at least three different ant populations in which these acts of rebellion occur. It would appear, therefore, that it may be a fairly common way for enslaved ants to fight back.

 

Ants such as Temnothorax longispinosus become enslaved when workers from the slave-making ant colony, Protomognathus americanus, attack their nests. The parasitic master ants kill the adults of the subjugated population, and steal their offspring. Once back at their nest, the master ants force the new generation to feed and clean their larvae, thus compelling them to raise the offspring of their oppressors (what's called "brood parasitism").

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The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has a website full of webcams that show real-time lava lakes of volcanoes

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has a website full of webcams that show real-time lava lakes of volcanoes | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
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John Hess's curator insight, March 5, 2013 9:24 AM

This would be a great for a science class

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Stanford engineers create a millimeter-sized, wirelessly powered cardiac device

Stanford engineers create a millimeter-sized, wirelessly powered cardiac device | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Stanford electrical engineers overturn existing models to demonstrate the feasibility of a millimeter-sized, wirelessly powered cardiac device. The findings could dramatically alter the scale of medical devices implanted in the human body.

 

A team of engineers at Stanford has demonstrated the feasibility of a super-small, implantable cardiac device that gets its power not from batteries, but from radio waves transmitted from outside the body. The implanted device is contained in a cube just eight-tenths of a millimeter in radius. It could fit on the head of pin. The engineers say the research is a major step toward a day when all implants are driven wirelessly. Beyond the heart, they believe such devices might include swallowable endoscopes—so-called “pillcams” that travel the digestive tract—permanent pacemakers and precision brain stimulators. The devices could potentially be used for virtually any medical applications for which device size and power matter.

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The Password Fallacy: Why Our Security System Is Broken, and How to Fix It

The Password Fallacy: Why Our Security System Is Broken, and How to Fix It | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

We're required to take downright ridiculous precautions to maintain our online security, and it's not sustainable. In fact, it never was. Our password system is broken, and it's about time we change it.

 

Studies show that we log into some 10 sites a day. Places that hold our most important data, like Gmail, Dropbox, and our bank, might ask us to jump through two tiers of password hoops in order for them to ensure our online security. Overall we're asked to hold keys to 30-40 sites in order to read the news, access our email, or book a haircut. For each of these sites, security analysts recommend using a unique string of 14-characters made up of letters, numbers, and special symbols. But remember: Computers are quick to guess dictionary words, your birth year, and numbers substituted for letters. No repeats allowed. Oh, and whatever you do, don't write anything down.

 

Who can possibly remember all those characters? It's a nutty system, so we ignore it. People have been crying, "the password is dead," for years (that one was courtesy of Bill Gates in 2004), but we're finally in a position where change is possible. . . .

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Japanese Team Claims Discovery Of Elusive Element 113, And May Get To Name It

Japanese Team Claims Discovery Of Elusive Element 113, And May Get To Name It | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Japanese researchers claim they’ve seen conclusive evidence of the long-sought element 113, a super-heavy, super-unstable element near the bottom of the periodic table. It’s not yet verified by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, which regulates the table and the names of the elements — but if the IUPAC grants its blessing, the researchers could be the first team from Asia to name one of nature’s fundamental atoms.


Super-heavy elements do not occur in nature and have to be discovered in the lab, using particle accelerators, nuclear reactors, ion separators and other complex equipment. Scientists led by Kosuke Morita at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-based Science have been hunting for 113 for nine years, and have claimed to see it a few times already — but the evidence has never been this clear, the team said today.


In an experiment in August, the team used a customized gas-filled recoil ion separator paired with a semiconductor detector that can pick out atomic reaction products. They created element 113 by speeding zinc ions through a linear accelerator until they reached 10 percent of the speed of light. The ions then smashed into a piece of bismuth. When the zinc and bismuth atoms fused, they produced an atom with 113 protons. This atom decayed, incredibly rapidly, into a series of daughter products, each an alpha particle (two protons and two neutrons) lighter than the parent atom. The daughter nuclides are the clear offspring of element 113, and only element 113, whose presence can thus be determined.

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Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, Stanford study find

Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, Stanford study find | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

You’re in the supermarket eyeing a basket of sweet, juicy plums. You reach for the conventionally grown stone fruit, then decide to spring the extra $1/pound for its organic cousin. You figure you’ve just made the healthier decision by choosing the organic product — but new findings from Stanford University cast some doubt on your thinking.

 

For their study, the researchers sifted through thousands of papers and identified 237 of the most relevant to analyze. Those included 17 studies (six of which were randomized clinical trials) of populations consuming organic and conventional diets, and 223 studies that compared either the nutrient levels or the bacterial, fungal or pesticide contamination of various products (fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry, and eggs) grown organically and conventionally. There were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years.

 

After analyzing the data, the researchers found little significant difference in health benefits between organic and conventional foods. No consistent differences were seen in the vitamin content of organic products, and only one nutrient — phosphorus — was significantly higher in organic versus conventionally grown produce (and the researchers note that because few people have phosphorous deficiency, this has little clinical significance). There was also no difference in protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk, though evidence from a limited number of studies suggested that organic milk may contain significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The researchers were also unable to identify specific fruits and vegetables for which organic appeared the consistently healthier choice, despite running a multitude of analyses.

 

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Deep-sea anglerfish filmed for the first time in its native environment over 7,800 feet down

This video shows never-before seen footage of a deep-sea angler fish, Chaunacops coloratus. The video is based on recent work by scientists at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The video seen here was recorded by MBARI's ROV Doc Ricketts at depths of 7,800 - 10,800 feet below the ocean's surface.

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Scientists make old muscles young again in attempt to combat aging

Scientists make old muscles young again in attempt to combat aging | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers at King’s College London, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified for the first time a key factor responsible for declining muscle repair during ageing, and discovered how to halt the process in mice with a common drug.
Although an early study, the finding provides clues as to how muscles lose mass with age, which can result in weakness that affects mobility and may cause falls.


Published today in the journal Nature, and funded by the Biotechnology, and Biological Sciences Research Council, Harvard Stem Cell Institute and National Institutes of Health (US), the study looked at stem cells found inside muscle - which are responsible for repairing injury - to find out why the ability of muscles to regenerate declines with age. A dormant reservoir of stem cells is present inside every muscle, ready to be activated by exercise and injury to repair any damage. When needed, these cells divide into hundreds of new muscle fibres that repair the muscle. At the end of the repairing process some of these cells also replenish the pool of dormant stem cells so that the muscle retains the ability to repair itself again and again.

 

The researchers carried out a study on old mice and found the number of dormant stem cells present in the pool reduces with age, which could explain the decline in the muscle’s ability to repair and regenerate as it gets older. When these old muscles were screened the team found high levels of FGF2, a protein that has the ability to stimulate cells to divide. While encouraging stem cells to divide and repair muscle is a normal and crucial process, they found that FGF2 could also awaken the dormant pool of stem cells even when they were not needed. The continued activation of dormant stem cells meant the pool was depleted over time, so when the muscle really needed stem cells to repair itself the muscle was unable to respond properly.


Following this finding, the researchers attempted to inhibit FGF2 in old muscles to prevent the stem cell pool from being kick-started into action unnecessarily. By administering a common FGF2 inhibitor drug they were able to inhibit the decline in the number of muscle stem cells in the mice.

 

However, preventing or reversing muscle waste during old age in humans is still a way off, but this study has for the first time revealed a process which could be responsible for age-related muscle wasting, which is an extremely important finding.

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Three parents, one baby -- Ethnic debate over 'three-person in-vitro fertilization (IVF)'

Three parents, one baby -- Ethnic debate over 'three-person in-vitro fertilization (IVF)' | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The technique could be used to prevent debilitating and fatal "mitochondrial" diseases, which are passed down only from mother to child. However, the resulting baby would contain genetic information from three people - two parents and a donor woman. Ministers could change the law to make the technique legal after the results of the consultation are known.

 

About one in 200 children are born with faulty mitochondria - the tiny power stations which provide energy to every cell in the body. Most show little or no symptoms, but in the severest cases the cells of the body are starved of energy. It can lead to muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and in some cases can be fatal. Mitochondria are passed on from the mother's egg to the child - the father does not pass on mitochondria through his sperm. The idea to prevent this is to add a healthy woman's mitochondria into the mix.

 

Two main techniques have been shown to work in the laboratory, by using a donor embryo or a donor egg. However, mitochondria contain their own genes in their own set of DNA. It means any babies produced would contain genetic material from three people. The vast majority would come from the mother and father, but also mitochondrial DNA from the donor woman.

This would be a permanent form of genetic modification, which would be passed down through the generations.

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Earth's Inconstant Magnetic Field And The Drift Of The Magnetic North Pole

Earth's Inconstant Magnetic Field And The Drift Of The Magnetic North Pole | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Our planet's magnetic field is in a constant state of change, say researchers who are beginning to understand how it behaves and why.

 

Every few years, scientist Larry Newitt of the Geological Survey of Canada goes hunting. He grabs his gloves, parka, a fancy compass, hops on a plane and flies out over the Canadian arctic. Not much stirs among the scattered islands and sea ice, but Newitt's prey is there--always moving, shifting, elusive. His quarry is Earth's north magnetic pole. Scientists have long known that the magnetic pole moves. James Ross located the pole for the first time in 1831 after an exhausting arctic journey during which his ship got stuck in the ice for four years. No one returned until the next century. In 1904, Roald Amundsen found the pole again and discovered that it had moved--at least 50 km since the days of Ross.

 

The pole kept going during the 20th century, north at an average speed of 10 km per year, lately accelerating "to 40 km per year," says Newitt. At this rate it will exit North America and reach Siberia in a few decades. Keeping track of the north magnetic pole is Newitt's job. "We usually go out and check its location once every few years," he says. "We'll have to make more trips now that it is moving so quickly." Earth's magnetic field is changing in other ways, too: Compass needles in Africa, for instance, are drifting about 1 degree per decade. And globally the magnetic field has weakened 10% since the 19th century. When this was mentioned by researchers at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, many newspapers carried the story. A typical headline: "Is Earth's magnetic field collapsing?" Probably not. As remarkable as these changes sound, "they're mild compared to what Earth's magnetic field has done in the past," says University of California professor Gary Glatzmaier.

 

Sometimes the the whole magnetic field of Earth completely flips. The north and the south poles swap places. Such reversals, recorded in the magnetism of ancient rocks, are unpredictable. They come at irregular intervals averaging about 300,000 years; the last one was 780,000 years ago. Are we overdue for another? No one knows.

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Robert T. Preston's curator insight, June 2, 2013 2:18 PM

The magnetic North Pole is ever on the move, and always has been.  See where it's been, where it's headed, and get a glimpse into why.

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Continuous Habitable Zones and Habitable Worlds around White Dwarf Stars?

Continuous Habitable Zones and Habitable Worlds around White Dwarf Stars? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Not all that long ago we assumed habitable planets needed a star like our Sun to thrive, but that view has continued to evolve.

 

Not all that long ago we assumed habitable planets needed a star like our Sun to thrive, but that view has continued to evolve. M-class red dwarfs may account for as many as 80 percent of the stars in our galaxy, making habitable worlds potentially more numerous around them than anywhere. And let’s extend our notion of habitability to what Luca Fossati (The Open University, UK) and colleagues call a Continuous Habitable Zone (CHZ). Now things really get interesting, for a red dwarf evolves slowly, so planets could have a CHZ with surface water for billions of years.

 

But what about white dwarfs? Stellar evolution seems to rule out habitable worlds around them because we normally think of stars entering their red giant phase and destroying their inner planets enroute to becoming a white dwarf. But can a new planetary system emerge from the wreckage? We’ve already found planets orbiting close to the exposed core of a red giant (KOI 55.01 and KOI 55.02), showing that the end of main sequence evolution isn’t necessarily the end of planetary survival. We’ve also found evidence in the metallic lines in the spectra of white dwarfs for rocky bodies close to such stars, a kind of ‘pollution’ thought to be caused by the accretion of small, rocky worlds or perhaps planetesimals.

 

The conditions on planets orbiting close to a cool white dwarf might be relatively benign. What Fossati and team show is that the cooling process in these stars slows down as their effective temperature approaches 6000 K, producing a habitable zone that can endure up to eight billion years. And it turns out that white dwarfs offer advantages M-dwarfs do not, providing a stable luminosity source without the flare activity we associate with younger M-class stars. As you would expect, a cool white dwarf has a habitable zone close to the star, ten times closer than for M-dwarfs. One recent study has used this to argue that a Mars-sized planet in the white dwarf CHZ would be detectable with today’s ground-based observatories even for faint stars.

 

But there are other options including polarized light that may be used to detect a planet with an atmosphere around a white dwarf. Normally, starlight is unpolarized, but when light reflects off a planetary atmosphere, the interactions between the light waves and the molecules in the atmosphere cause the light to become polarized. The paper notes that the polarization due to a terrestrial planet in the CHZ of a cool white dwarf would be larger than the polarization signal of a comparable planet in the habitable zone of any other type of star except brown dwarfs. Analyzing polarization is thus a viable way to detect close-in rocky planets around white dwarfs.

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Kepler Spacecraft's data visualized: an interactive exploration of Earth-like exoplanets

Kepler Spacecraft's data visualized: an interactive exploration of Earth-like exoplanets | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

inShare Data visualization artist Jer Thorp has teamed up with Oblong Industries to create an interactive, gestural visualization of the data sent back by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Kepler has returned quite a bit of data on its mission to find earth-like exoplanets in other parts of the Milky Way galaxy, and Thorp's open-source data visualization software and Oblong Industries' gestural control technology have come together to turn this data into a stunning 3D environment. Users can explore the exoplanets using natural gestures and — with the flick of a wrist — the data can be sorted and analyzed for patterns and trends.

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Pale blue dot or not? What the color of alien worlds can tell us

Pale blue dot or not? What the color of alien worlds can tell us | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Most people are familiar with the pale blue dot image of Earth taken by Voyager in 1990. Its blueness is significant, of course, because it is Earth’s abundant liquid water that makes it look that way. But if you looked at the light that is reflected from Earth carefully, you would see several interesting features. One, caused by vegetation, is called “red edge”. Green plants absorbs a lot of red light creating a big, sudden jump in reflectivity in the red bit of the visible light spectrum. An alien, if it could get a good look, would be able to tell than Earth had plenty of vegetation because of this red edge.

 

Hajime Kawahara at Tokyo Metropolitan University and Yuka Fujii at the University of Tokyo in Japan describe how they created 2D maps of what the light from an Earth-like planet would look like with various features on its surface. By watching a planet over time their technique is able to build up a more detailed image – a blue marble, rather than a pale blue dot. Maps like these may one day provide us with an indication of what the environment is like on a faraway exoplanet.

 

They note, however, that the characteristics of vegetation (or any organism with chlorophyll) could vary depending on their planet’s host star. The signature of chlorophyll near a hot star could have a blue, rather than red, edge to protect a plant’s leaves from overheating. Or on a planet that orbits a cool, dim star chlorophyll may appear black as it tries to absorb as much light as possible across the whole range of the visible spectrum.

 

A day where we have to use these techniques to decide which of an abundance of potential Earth 2.0s to travel to seems a long, long way away. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start daydreaming about which we will aim for first.

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Arctic Heatwave Tops 1,800-Year High, Says Study

Arctic Heatwave Tops 1,800-Year High, Says Study | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Summers on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard are now warmer than at any other time in the last 1,800 years, including during medieval times when parts of the northern hemisphere were as hot as, or hotter, than today, according to a new study in the journal Geology.

 

The naturally driven Medieval Warm Period, from about 950 to 1250, has been a favorite time for people who deny evidence that humans are heating the planet with industrial greenhouse gases. But the climate reconstruction from Svalbard casts new doubt on that era’s reach, and undercuts skeptics who argue that current warming is also natural. Since 1987, summers on Svalbard have been 2 degrees to 2.5 degrees C (3.6 to 4.5 degrees F) hotter than they were there during warmest parts of the Medieval Warm Period, the study found.

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Newly Discovered Comet May Become One Of The Brightest In History

Newly Discovered Comet May Become One Of The Brightest In History | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

If astronomers' early predictions hold true, the holidays next year may hold a glowing gift for stargazers—a superbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn.

 

Even with powerful telescopes, comet 2012 S1 (ISON) is now just a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014—perhaps outshining the moon, astronomers say.

 

The comet is already remarkably bright, given how far it is from the sun, astronomer Raminder Singh Samra said. What's more, 2012 S1 seems to be following the path of the Great Comet of 1680, considered one of the most spectacular ever seen from Earth.

 

So what makes a comet a showstopper? A lot depends on how much gas and dust is blasted off the central core of ice and rocks. The bigger the resulting cloud and tail, the more reflective the body may be. Because 2012 S1 appears to be fairly large—possibly approaching two miles (three kilometers) wide—and will fly very close to the sun, astronomers have calculated that the comet may shine brighter, though not bigger, than the full moon in the evening sky.

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Burn victim identified by DNA in digestive system of maggots feeding on victim's body

Burn victim identified by DNA in digestive system of maggots feeding on victim's body | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

When Mexican police found a body in the woods it was burned beyond recognition, its DNA too damaged to be used for identification. Luckily, investigators were able to extract DNA from elsewhere - the digestive systems of maggots that had been feeding on the body. This is the first time that human DNA from a maggot gut has been analysed in this way to successfully identify a victim in a legal case.

 

Police suspected that the body was that of a woman who had been abducted 10 weeks earlier because they found her high-school graduation ring near the crime scene. But when forensic investigators failed to obtain a decent DNA sample from any of the body's tissues, they turned to a team of pathologists at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León in San Nicolás, Mexico.

 

María de Lourdes Chávez-Briones, Marta Ortega-Martínez and their colleagues dissected three maggot larvae collected from the body and extracted the contents of their gastrointestinal tracts. The human DNA they isolated allowed them to determine that the body was female. They then performed a paternity test between this DNA and that of the abducted woman's father. It revealed a 99.7 per cent chance that she was his daughter

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Julieta Isoler's comment, February 25, 2014 7:40 PM
I find that it is amazing how now in days we begin to rely on insects to help us find what we need. Like the article said it was the first time that human DNA from a maggot gut has been analysed in this way to successfully identify a victim in a legal case, so again its super cool how we can interact witht hem to find what we need.
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New Virus Related To SARS Detected In The Middle East, Killing 1 Person

New Virus Related To SARS Detected In The Middle East, Killing 1 Person | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Scientists have partially decoded the genetic sequence of a new virus, which has killed one man and hospitalized another.

 

When an unknown virus emerges, disease detectives turn to gene sequencers to identify the culprit. So when a new type of coronavirus killed a man in Saudia Arabia and hospitalized another in the U.K., investigators got cracking. Both patients showed symptoms similar SARS. But thanks to fast and accurate gene sequencing, health officials quickly realized that this isn't SARS or even a known coronavirus that causes colds. Rather it's a totally new virus that needs to be handled with caution until more is known about it. Scientists at Britain's Health Protection Agency have now partially decoded the new virus's genetic sequence. They've placed the virus on the family tree of coronaviruses and given it a temporary namel: London1_novel CoV 2012.

 

The virus appears to be most closely related to a cluster of bat viruses, and "it is genetically very different than SARS," Ralph Baric, a microbiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells Shots. But the DNA sequence isn't just a tool for hanging the virus on the right branch of the family tree. It has helped health workers rapidly respond to the disease in ways they couldn't when SARS emerged in China in 2002.

 

With the virus's code at their fingertips, health workers alerted the WHO about the potential dangers of the virus just three weeks after the second patient showed symptoms. With the SARS epidemic, it took over three months — and hundreds of infected people — before the WHO was contacted. That epidemic caused over 8,000 infections and killed nearly a thousand people.

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Mars Rover Curiosity Finds Ancient River Bed

Mars Rover Curiosity Finds Ancient River Bed | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Less than two months after touching down inside a giant impact basin near the planet's equator, Curiosity has returned clear evidence of flowing water. The proof comes from analysis of pictures of a jagged slab of rock taken with a telephoto camera on the rover's mast. The rock, which resembles a jackhammered chunk of broken sidewalk, is flecked with rounded pieces of gravel -- too big to have been carried by Martian winds.

 

Instead, Curiosity scientists are quite sure the gravel was deposited by a vigorously flowing stream, one that was between ankle- and knee-deep and likely flowed for thousands or even millions of years. "We have now discovered evidence for water," said lead scientist John Grotzinger. "This makes a great starting point for us to do more sophisticated studies." Though water is a key ingredient for life, it's not the only one. "This particular kind of rock may or may not be a good place to preserve those components that we associate with a habitable environment,” Grotzinger said.

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Upcoming Space Station Cameras Will Give All Humans Live Imagery Of Their Houses From Space

Upcoming Space Station Cameras Will Give All Humans Live Imagery Of Their Houses From Space | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
With UrtheCast cameras, you'll be able to see Google Earth-level detail -- but live.

 

An ambitious effort to broadcast real-time streaming video of Earth from space is closer to reality, after a new influx of cash and some new partnerships. By spring 2013, everyone on Earth will be able to watch the planet from the most unique vantage point ever built, the International Space Station.

 

We first told you about the Canadian startup UrtheCast (pronounced Earth-cast) last year, and the first cameras were supposed to launch in 2012. But the company has been raising money and working on its two high-definition cameras, while cosmonauts are in training to move the cameras from the cargo ferry to the station’s underside. The cameras are due to be finished in the next few months, according to the BBC. Meanwhile, the company, which is based in Calgary, said it plans to go public later this fall.

 

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Will Humanity Face a Carbohydrate Shortage? Currently humanity uses around 40% of Earth's photosynthesis

Will Humanity Face a Carbohydrate Shortage? Currently humanity uses around 40% of Earth's photosynthesis | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Photosynthesis is the single most important transformation on Earth. Using the energy in sunlight, all plants—from single-celled algae to towering redwoods—knit carbon dioxide and water into food and release oxygen as a byproduct. Every year, humanity uses up roughly 40 percent of the planet’s photosynthesis for our own purposes—from feeding a growing population to biofuels. Given that growing human population, is there a limit to how much of the world’s photosynthesis we can appropriate?

 

Satellite measurements now allow precise measurements of the amount of photosynthesis taking place on the planet’s seven continents and assorted islands—or what scientists call “net primary productivity.” Such measurements are based on the amount of ground covered by plants, the density of that growth, and observations of temperature, sunlight and available water. Using these measurements, ecological modeler Steven Running of the University of Montana concludes that plants produce nearly 54 billion metric tons of carbohydrates a year—the bulk of it the complex organic chains of cellulose and lignin.

 

Running has also looked back over the past 30 years and discovered that the total amount of photosynthesis is surprisingly stable. Despite local weather that ranged from droughts to floods, plants soldier on producing roughly the same amount of food year in and year out, varying by less than 2 percent annually. This may be because the inputs of photosynthesis also vary so little—sunlight strength fluctuates only mildly, as does precipitation on a global basis. This finding suggests to Running that the plants’ “net primary productivity” might be usefully thought of as a planetary boundary, a threshold or safe limit for human impacts on natural systems.

 

Uur population is estimated to swell to 9 billion by 2050. Will the photosynthesis on this planet be able to keep up?

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Vincent D'Antonio's curator insight, June 10, 2013 9:11 AM

Utilized in cellular respiration within our mitochondria.