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Finally, artificial magnetic monopoles discovered

Finally, artificial magnetic monopoles discovered | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A team of researchers from Cologne, Munich and Dresden have managed to create artificial magnetic monopoles. To do this, the scientists merged tiny magnetic whirls, so-called skyrmions. At the point of merging, the physicists were able to create a monopole, which has similar characteristics to a fundamental particle postulated by Paul Dirac in 1931. In addition to fundamental research, the monopoles may also have application potential. The question of whether magnetic whirls can be used in the production of computer components one day is currently being researched by a number of groups worldwide.

Over the last few years, materials in which magnetic whirls, so-called skyrmions, are formed, have been examined intensively. These whirls influence the movements of the electrons in exactly the same manner as magnetic fields. For this reason, artificial magnet fields are used to describe these whirls as well as their influence on the electrons.

 

Even if these are not "real" magnetic fields, it is possible to measure them experimentally in the same manner as normal magnet fields as they deflect electrons.

 

The researchers asked questions as to the consequences of attempting to destroy the magnetic whirls. To do this, the group working under the direction of Prof. Eng from the Technischen Universität Dresden observed magnetic whirls with a magnetic force microscope: a tiny magnetic tip samples the surface of the magnets and measures the direction of the magnetization thus making the ca. 50 nanometer sized whirl visible. They were able to observe on the surface that the magnetic whirls apparently coalesce when the skyrmion phase is destroyed.

 

What happens, however, within the materials? Measurements taken by the group working under the direction of Prof. Pfleiderer in Munich using neutron scattering suggest that similar processes occur there, but individual whirls were not observed in this manner. For this reason, Stefan Buhrandt and Christoph Schütte working in Prof. Rosch's group at the University of Cologne conducted computer simulations. These showed that the whirls neighbouring the merging process observed on the surface in the experiment also occur within the materials. Due to the fact that every whirl carries an artificial magnetic field, their creation or destruction occurs at the point of merging. "This means that an artificial magnetic monopole has to sit on this point," describes Prof. Rosch, "whenever two magnetic whirls merge in the experiment, an artificial magnetic monopole has flown through surface."

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Engineers make gigapixel holograms with a standard A4 scanner

Engineers make gigapixel holograms with a standard A4 scanner | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Standard scanners might be a little boring, collecting dust next to your printer rarely getting use now that everyone with a phone has a decent digital camera, and most workplaces allow a PDF signature rather than a handwritten one. Instead of allowing that scanner to sit around hogging a valuable power brick outlet, a team of Japanese engineers have turned it into a gigapixel holographic camera.

 

The reason why you don’t see holograms everywhere is not because we don’t know how to make them, but because the technology required to do so is currently quite expensive. A standard megapixel-based digital camera simply doesn’t have a high enough resolution to construct a hologram, so the photos have to run through an arduous post-production process that creates the hologram. However, cameras able to reach a gigapixel — which are expensive — are capable of creating the hologram with comparative ease. So, rather than figure out how to significantly decrease the cost of digital cameras capable of gigapixel resolution — or bite the bullet and pony up the cash for one — an engineering team from Japan’s Chiba University grabbed a standard digital scanner and combined it with a laser to create a holographic gigapixel camera.

 

The scanner used by the team — a regular 4800 dpi A4 paper scanner you could buy on the cheap from any office supply store — is capable of creating images with a resolution of over two gigapixels.

 

To generate a hologram from an object, a recording device and laser must be aligned with that object. The laser aims at the object, and the light (diffracted and not) is recorded by the scanner. That’s what the gigapixel resolution is for, as lower-res recording devices have trouble capturing the result. A standard scanner works similarly to this method, shining a light down the length of an object, with a line of CCDs scanning down the document and capturing the reflected light, but without the laser.

 

So far, the team used the rig to create 0.43-gigapixel holograms of tiny insects — a flea and an ant. Using a process the team called “band-limited double-step Fresnel refraction,” they were able to build the hologram in only 177 seconds, down from an original 350.

 

Though the team has managed to create gigapixel holograms using cheap equipment, the end result can’t be displayed on a standard monitor, because a 1920×1080 resolution isn’t high enough for the image. So, the team removed the need for expensive capture equipment, but still hasn’t broken through the expensive display barrier. At the moment, the team doesn’t seem to have a solution for this problem, but at least they’ve already solved the issue of creating a hologram with cheap equipment.

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Stem cell injections improve spinal injuries in rats

Stem cell injections improve spinal injuries in rats | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A single injection of human neural stem cells produced neuronal regeneration and improvement of function and mobility in rats impaired by an acute spinal cord injury (SCI), an international team led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine reports.

 

Grafting neural stem cells derived from a human fetal spinal cord to the rats’ spinal injury site produced an array of therapeutic benefits — from less muscle spasticity to new connections between the injected stem cells and surviving host neurons.

 

 


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AnalyticalInstrument's curator insight, May 29, 2013 2:49 PM

Can we get them to test them on rat knees?

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Nuking Dangerous Asteroids Might Be the Best Protection, Expert Says

Nuking Dangerous Asteroids Might Be the Best Protection, Expert Says | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
A spacecraft to deliver a nuclear warhead to an asteroid is under study.

 

If a dangerous asteroid appears to be on a collision course for Earth, one option is to send a spacecraft to destroy it with a nuclear warhead. Such a mission, which would cost about $1 billion, could be developed from work NASA is already funding, a prominent asteroid defense expert says.

 

Bong Wie, director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University, described the system his team is developing to attendees at the International Space Development Conference in La Jolla, Calif., on May 23. The annual National Space Society gathering attracted hundreds from the space industry around the world.

 

An anti-asteroid spacecraft would deliver a nuclear warhead to destroy an incoming threat before it could reach Earth, Wie said. The two-section spacecraft would consist of a kinetic energy impactor that would separate before arrival and blast a crater in the asteroid. The other half of the spacecraft would carry the nuclear weapon, which would then explode inside the crater after the vehicle impacted.

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Astronomers Discover Extremely Luminous Mega-Galaxy

Astronomers Discover Extremely Luminous Mega-Galaxy | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Two gas-rich, actively star-forming galaxies that collided 11 billion years ago are rapidly forming a new elliptical mega-galaxy, labeled HXMM01. The new mega-galaxy HXMM01 is about 10 times the size of the Milky Way. It is the brightest, most luminous and most gas-rich submillimeter-bright galaxy merger known.

 

“Capturing the creation of this type of large, short-lived star body is extremely rare – the equivalent of discovering a missing link between winged dinosaurs and early birds,” said the scientists, who have reported their discovery in the journal Nature.

 

HXMM01 is fading away as fast as it forms, a victim of its own cataclysmic birth. As the two parent galaxies smashed together, they gobbled up huge amounts of hydrogen, emptying that corner of the Universe of the star-making gas.

 

Study lead author Dr Hai Fu from the University of California Irvine said: “these galaxies entered a feeding frenzy that would quickly exhaust the food supply in the following hundreds of million years and lead to the new galaxy’s slow starvation for the rest of its life.”

 

“Finding this type of galaxy is as important as the discovery of the archaeopteryx was in understanding dinosaurs’ evolution into birds, because they were both caught at a critical transitional phase.”

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Pigeons intelligent enough to learn to use a computerized touchscreen to solve puzzles

Pigeons are fairly intelligent creatures, and their ability to be trained or used as messengers suggests they have a modicum of memory and learning capability. But how smart are they exactly? According to research published in Animal Cognition, pigeons are capable of solving a pattern-based puzzle to earn a food reward. Better yet, they can do so even when the puzzle displayed on a touchscreen—a pretty abstract concept for a bird, wouldn't you say?

 

The experiment by researchers at the University of Iowa consisted of digital versions of string tasks, which are commonly used in cognition studies. The premise is simple: a study subject is given a pair of strings, with a food reward visibly attached to one of them. If the subject pulls the right string, it wins the reward. Simple, right? Even marmosetscan do it.

But in this case, there was a wrinkle. The study pigeons didn't just have to look at two strings, realize one had food on the end of it, understand that pulling the string would bring the food, and act on it. They had to do so in a purely digital fashion.

 

As you can see in the video above, two strings were drawn on screen, each with a picture of a food dish—one full, one empty—attached to the end of it. Poking at a button at the bottom of the drawn strings reels them in; it looks like it took about a dozen or so pokes to pull in the "string" fully. If the full dish was pulled in, a real food reward was given.

 

"The pigeons proved that they could indeed learn this task with a variety of different string configurations—even those that involved crossed strings, the most difficult of all configurations to learn with real strings," lead author Edward Wasserman said in a release.

 

Success rates for pigeons across varying experimental configurations ranged between 74 and 90 percent—pretty high, if you ask me. And really, break it down like you had no idea what a touchscreen was: You see pictures of food, colored lines, and a couple little button things. You can poke or peck aimlessly, but only when you hit the buttons does the screen react. Eventually, you realize that hitting the right button brings the virtual food closer, which eventually results in a real reward.

 

It's pretty fascinating that pigeons are capable of learning to complete such a task. At the same time, the study shows the sheer intuitiveness of touchscreen interfaces. As opposed to the blinking cursors of yore, touchscreens offer a more physical interface that's easier to interact with.

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New mathematical model links space-time theories

New mathematical model links space-time theories | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers at the University of Southampton have taken a significant step in a project to unravel the secrets of the structure of our Universe. 


Professor Kostas Skenderis, Chair in Mathematical Physics at the University, comments: “One of the main recent advances in theoretical physics is the holographic principle. According to this idea, our Universe may be thought of as a hologram and we would like to understand how to formulate the laws of physics for such a holographic Universe.”

A new paper released by Professor Skenderis and Dr Marco Caldarelli from the University of Southampton, Dr Joan Camps from the University of Cambridge and Dr Blaise Goutéraux from the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, Sweden published in the Rapid Communication section of Physical Review D, makes connections between negatively curved space-time and flat space-time. 

Space-time is usually understood to describe space existing in three dimensions, with time playing the role of a fourth dimension and all four coming together to form a continuum, or a state in which the four elements can’t be distinguished from each other.

Flat space-time and negative space-time describe an environment in which the Universe is non-compact, with space extending infinitely, forever in time, in any direction. The gravitational forces, such as the ones produced by a star, are best described by flat-space time. Negatively curved space-time describes a Universe filled with negative vacuum energy. The mathematics of holography is best understood for negatively curved space-times.

Professor Skenderis has developed a mathematic model which finds striking similarities between flat space-time and negatively curved space-time, with the latter however formulated in a negative number of dimensions, beyond our realm of physical perception. 

He comments: “According to holography, at a fundamental level the universe has one less dimension than we perceive in everyday life and is governed by laws similar to electromagnetism. The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card, but now it is the entire Universe that is encoded in such a fashion.

“Our research is ongoing, and we hope to find more connections between flat space-time, negatively curved space-time and holography. Traditional theories about how the Universe operates go some way individually to describing its very nature, but each fall short in different areas. It is our ultimate goal to find a new combined understanding of the Universe, which works across the board.”

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Genetic Scientists Eliminate Schizophrenia Symptoms in Mice by Targeting Neuregulin-1 (NRG1)

Genetic Scientists Eliminate Schizophrenia Symptoms in Mice by Targeting Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Geneticists writing in the journal Neuron reversed schizophrenia-like symptoms in adult mice by restoring normal expression to the gene Neuregulin-1 (NRG1).

 

Targeting expression of NRG1, which makes a protein important for brain development, may hold promise for treating at least some patients with the brain disorder. Like patients with schizophrenia, adult mice biogenetically-engineered to have higher NRG1 levels showed reduced activity of the brain messenger chemicals glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The mice also showed behaviors related to aspects of the human illness.

“They genetically engineered mice so they could turn up levels of NRG1 to mimic high levels found in some patients then return levels to normal,” explained senior author Dr Lin Mei from the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

 

“They found that when elevated, mice were hyperactive, couldn’t remember what they had just learned and couldn’t ignore distracting background or white noise. When they returned NRG1levels to normal in adult mice, the schizophrenia-like symptoms went away.”

 

While schizophrenia is generally considered a developmental disease that surfaces in early adulthood, the team found that even when they kept NRG1 levels normal until adulthood, mice still exhibited schizophrenia-like symptoms once higher levels were expressed. Without intervention, they developed symptoms at about the same age humans do.

 

“This shows that high levels of NRG1 are a cause of schizophrenia, at least in mice, because when you turn them down, the behavior deficit disappears,” Dr Mei said. “Our data certainly suggests that we can treat this cause by bringing down excessive levels of NRG1 or blocking its pathologic effects.”

 

“Schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder with multiple causes – most of which are unknown – that tends to run in families, and high NRG1 levels have been found in only a minority of patients. To reduce NRG1 levels in those individuals likely would require development of small molecules that could, for example, block the gene’s signaling pathways,” Dr Mei said.

 

“Current therapies treat symptoms and generally focus on reducing the activity of two neurotransmitters since the bottom line is excessive communication between neurons.”

 

The good news is it’s relatively easy to measure NRG1 since blood levels appear to correlate well with brain levels. To genetically alter the mice, the scientists put a copy of the NRG1 gene into mouse DNA then, to make sure they could control the levels, they put in front of the DNA a binding protein for doxycycline, a stable analogue for the antibiotic tetracycline, which is infamous for staining the teeth of fetuses and babies. The mice are born expressing high levels of NRG1 and giving the antibiotic restores normal levels.

 

“If you don’t feed the mice tetracycline, the NRG1 levels are always high. Endogenous levels of the gene are not affected. High-levels of NRG1 appear to activate the kinase LIMK1, impairing release of the neurotransmitter glutamate and normal behavior. The LIMK1 connection identifies another target for intervention,” Dr Mei concluded.

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Russian scientists find frozen blood in mammoth carcass, boosting their chances of cloning

Russian scientists find frozen blood in mammoth carcass, boosting their chances of cloning | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Russian scientists claimed Wednesday they have discovered blood in the carcass of a woolly mammoth, adding that the rare find could boost their chances of cloning the prehistoric animal. An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean.

 

Semyon Grigoryev, the head of the expedition, said the animal died at the age of around 60 some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, and that it was the first time that an old female had been found.

 

But what was more surprising was that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue. "When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there, it was very dark," Grigoryev, who is a scientist at the Yakutsk-based Northeastern Federal University, told AFP.

 

"This is the most astonishing case in my entire life. How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the colour of fresh meat," he added. Grigoryev said that the lower part of the carcass was very well preserved as it ended up in a pool of water that later froze over. The upper part of the body including the back and the head are believed to have been eaten by predators, he added.

 

"The forelegs and the stomach are well preserved, while the hind part has become a skeleton." The discovery, Grigoryev said, gives new hope to researchers in their quest to bring the woolly mammoth back to life.

 

"This find gives us a really good chance of finding live cells which can help us implement this project to clone a mammoth," he said. "Previous mammoths just have not had such well-preserved tissue."

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Ahmed Atef's comment, May 31, 2013 5:47 AM
i can do this cloning ;)
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Charred micro-bunny sculpture shows promise of new 3-D shaping material

Charred micro-bunny sculpture shows promise of new 3-D shaping material | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Though its surface has been turned to carbon, the bunny-like features can still be easily observed with a microscope. This rabbit sculpture, the size of a typical bacterium, is one of several whimsical shapes created by a team of Japanese scientists using a new material that can be molded into complex, highly conductive 3-D structures with features just a few micrometers across. Combined with state-of-the-art micro-sculpting techniques, the new resin holds promise for making customized electrodes for fuel cells or batteries, as well as biosensor interfaces for medical uses. The research team, which includes physicists and chemists from Yokohama National University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the company C-MET, Inc., presents its results in a paper published today in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Optical Materials Express.

 

The work opens a door for researchers trying to create conductive materials in almost any complex shape at the microscopic or cellular level. "One of the most promising applications is 3-D microelectrodes that could interface with the brain," says Yuya Daicho, graduate student at Yokohama National University and lead author of the paper. These brain interfaces, rows of needle-shaped electrodes pointing in the same direction like teeth on combs, can send or receive electrical signals from neurons and can be used for deep brain stimulation and other therapeutic interventions to treat disorders such as epilepsy, depression, and Parkinson's disease. "Although current microelectrodes are simple 2-D needle arrays," Daicho says, "our method can provide complex 3-D electrode arrays" in which the needles of a single device have different lengths and tip shapes, giving researchers more flexibility in designing electrodes for specialized purposes. The authors also envision making microscopic 3-D coils for heating applications.

 

Currently, researchers have access to materials that can be used to make complex 3-D structures. But the commercially available resins that work best with modern 3-D shaping techniques do not respond to carbonization, a necessary part of the electrode preparation process. In this stage, a structure is baked at a temperature high enough to turn its surface to carbon. The process of "carbonizing," or charring, increases the conductivity of the resin and also increases its surface area, both of which make it a good electrode. Unfortunately, this process also destroys the resin's shape; a sphere becomes an unrecognizable charred blob. What researchers needed were new materials that could be crafted using 3-D shaping techniques but that would also survive the charring process.

 

The Japanese team, led by Daicho and his advisor Shoji Maruo, sought to develop materials that would fit these needs. Trained as a chemist, Daicho developed a light-sensitive resin that included a material called Resorcinol Diglycidyl Ether (RDGE), typically used to dilute other resins but never before used in 3-D sculpting. The new mixture had a unique advantage over other compounds -- it was a liquid, and therefore potentially suitable for manipulation using the preferred 3-D sculpting methods.

 

Daicho, Maruo, and colleagues tested three different concentrations of RDGE in their new compounds. Though there was shrinkage, the materials held their shapes during the charring process (controlled shrinkage of a microstructure can be a good thing in cases where miniaturization of a structure is desired). The resin with the lowest concentration of RDGE shrank 30 percent, while that with the highest concentration shrank 20 percent.

 

The researchers also tested their new resin's ability to be manipulated using techniques specifically suited for 3-D shaping. In one technique, called microtransfer molding, the light-sensitive liquid was molded into a desired shape and then hardened by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. The other technique, preferred because of its versatility, made use of the liquid resin's property of solidifying when exposed to a laser beam. In this process, called two-photon polymerization, researchers used the laser to "draw" a shape onto the liquid resin and build it up layer by layer. Once the objects were shaped, they were carbonized and viewed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

 

In addition to crafting pyramids and discs, the researchers reproduced the well-known "Stanford bunny," a shape commonly used in 3-D modeling and computer graphics. Maruo says that when he first saw a picture of the rabbit structure taken with the SEM, he was delighted at how well it had held up during the charring process.

 

"When we got the carbon bunny structure, we were very surprised," Maruo says. It was exciting, he continues, to see that "even with a very simple experimental structure, we could get this complicated 3-D carbon microstructure." The rabbit's shape would be much more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to create using any of the existing processes compatible with carbonization, he adds.

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Lucihormetica luckae: Glowing Roaches Mimic Toxic Beetles

Lucihormetica luckae: Glowing Roaches Mimic Toxic Beetles | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Many marine creatures use bioluminescence to attract a mate or evade predators, but among land-based species it's much rarer. This makes the potential loss of a light-producing cockroach that lives in treetops in the forests of northern and central South America that much more poignant. In the first formal description of the species, scientists dub the 24-millimeter-long insect (shown in visible light, left, and under fluorescent light, right) Lucihormetica luckae. But maybe the cockroaches weren’t so lucky: The only known specimen of the insect was collected in 1939 on the slopes of Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano, and the site was damaged when the peak erupted in December 2010. L. luckae and the other 12 species of its genus form one of only three groups of insects that can produce light (fireflies are another). The insect’s light-producing organs—two large, eyelike spots on the roach’s back, and a much smaller dot located just behind one of those spots—are bacteria-filled reservoirs in the insect's exoskeleton. New analyses of the light produced by L. luckaeand its kin reveal it is identical to the light produced by click beetles in the genus Pyrophorus living in the same ecosystems, the researchers will report in a forthcoming issue of Naturwissenschaften. While those click beetles presumably generate light to warn potential predators of the highly toxic compounds they produce, the glowing cockroaches are just faking: They produce no such toxins.

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Monarch butterflies seem to remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia

Monarch butterflies seem to remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Geology is what we look to when we want enduring monuments. Rock and metal outlast anything made of living tissue. Or do they? In another example of science getting poetic, it seems that a symbol of ephemera — a butterfly — provides evidence of a mountain long turned to dust.

 

Monarch butterflies are some of the toughest insects in the world. Their migration takes them from southern Canada to central Mexico. The journey is so long and difficult that it outlasts the butterfly's lifetime. Monarchs lay eggs at different stages through the journey. No one generation makes the whole trip.

 

Along this journey are several sites that have become local treasures and tourist attractions. The monarchs, flying in swarms, group together to rest in small areas, covering the trees like bright orange leaves. But although these sites are the most showy part of the journey, they're not the most amazing.

 

The amazing part of the journey is the sudden eastward turn that monarchs take over Lake Superior. Monarchs fly over the lake, necessarily, in one unceasing flight. That alone would be difficult, but the monarchs make it tougher by not going directly south. They fly south, and at one point of the lake turn east, fly for a while, and then turn back toward the south. Why?

 

Biologists, and certain geologists, believe that something was blocking the monarchs' path. They believe that that part of Lake Superior might have once been one of the highest mountains ever to loom over North America. It would have been useless for the monarchs to try to scale it, and wasteful to start climbing it, so all successfully migrating monarchs veered east around it and then headed southward again. They've kept doing that, some say, even after the mountain is long gone.

 

This puts a new spin on how we look at geology and geography. We think of mountains as structures that are, nearly, ageless. They stand while successive generations of animals change and evolve around them. Perhaps not this time, though. This time, butterflies kept up their same pattern while the world changed under them, the mountain wearing away, or being destroyed. This time, flesh outlasted stone.

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12 disruptive multi-trillion dollar technologies that may transform our daily lives in the near future

12 disruptive multi-trillion dollar technologies that may transform our daily lives in the near future | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

1. Mobile Internet $3.7-10.5 trillion
2. Automation of knowledge work $5.2-6.7 trillion
3. Internet of things $2.7-6.2 trillion
4. Cloud $1.7-6.2 trillion
5. Advanced robotics $1.7-4.5 trillion
6. Autonomous or near-autonomous cars $0.2-1.9 trillion
7. Next generation genomics $0.7-1.6 trillion

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Scientists now have definitive proof that many of the landscapes seen on Mars were indeed cut by flowing water

Scientists now have definitive proof that many of the landscapes seen on Mars were indeed cut by flowing water | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The valleys, channels and deltas viewed from orbit have long been thought to be the work of water erosion, but it is Nasa's latest rover, Curiosity, that has provided the "ground truth".

 

Researchers report its observations of rounded pebbles on the floor of the Red Planet's 150km-wide Gale Crater.

 

Their smooth appearance is identical to gravels found in rivers on Earth.

Rock fragments that bounce along the bottom of a stream of water will have their edges knocked off, and when these pebbles finally come to rest they will often align in a characteristic overlapping fashion.

 

Curiosity has pictured these features in a number of rock outcrops at the base of Gale Crater.

 

It is confirmation that water has played its part in sculpting not only this huge equatorial bowl but by implication many of the other landforms seen on the planet. 

 

Using its Chemcam remote-sensing laser, the rover was able to detect feldspar in the lighter toned clasts.Feldspar is a common mineral on Earth that weathers quickly in the presence of water.

 

This suggests past conditions were not overly wet and that the pebbles were carried only a relatively short distance - probably no more than 10-15km. This fits with satellite observations of what appears to be a nearby network of old rivers or streams spreading away from the mouth of a channel that cuts through the northern rim of Gale Crater.

 
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Ingestible, Implantable, Or Intimate Contact: How Will You Take Your Microscale Body Sensors?

Ingestible, Implantable, Or Intimate Contact: How Will You Take Your Microscale Body Sensors? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Computer chips and silicon micromachines are ready for your body. It’s time to decide how you’ll take them: implantable, ingestible, or intimate contact. Every flavor now exists. Some have FDA approval and some are seeking it. Others are moving quickly out of the research lab stage. With the round one Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize entries due in one year, we’re soon to see a heavy dose of sensors tied to the mobile wireless health revolution.

 

With these sensors comes a heavy dose of information about your health, data about what medication you are taking and when you took it. The sensors are available to protect your health, but choosing how to use them and how to protect the privacy of your data will be a matter of personal responsibility.

 

 


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Tornado Tracks: 56 Years Of America’s Most Terrifying Tornadoes Visualized

Tornado Tracks: 56 Years Of America’s Most Terrifying Tornadoes Visualized | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Tornadoes form under a certain set of weather conditions in which three very different types of air come together in a certain way. Near the ground lies a layer of warm and humid air, along with strong south winds. Colder air and strong west or southwest winds lie in the upper atmosphere. Temperature and moisture differences between the surface and the upper levels create what we call instability. A necessary ingredient for tornado formation. The change in wind speed and direction with height is known as wind shear. This wind shear is linked to the eventual development of rotation from which a tornado may form.

 

A third layer of hot dry air becomes established between the warm moist air at low levels and the cool dry air aloft. This hot layer acts as a cap and allows the warm air underneath to warm further...making the air even more unstable. Things start to happen when a storm system aloft moves east and begins to lift the various layers. Through this lifting process the cap is removed, thereby setting the stage for explosive thunderstorm development as strong updrafts develop. Complex interactions between the updraft and the surrounding winds may cause the updraft to begin rotating-and a tornado is born.

 

The Great Plains of the Central United States are uniquely suited to bring all of these ingredients together, and so have become known as "Tornado Alley." The main factors are the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and a terrain that slopes downward from west to east.

 

During the spring and summer months southerly winds prevail across the plains. At the origin of those south winds lie the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which provide plenty of warm, humid air needed to fuel severe thunderstorm development. Hot dry air forms over the higher elevations to the west, and becomes the cap as it spreads eastward over the moist Gulf air. Where the dry air and the Gulf air meet near the ground, a boundary known as a dry line forms to the west of Oklahoma. A storm system moving out of the southern Rockies may push the dry line eastward, with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes forming along the dry line or in the moist air just ahead of it.

 

What is the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale? Dr. T. Theodore Fujita, a pioneer in the study of tornadoes and severe thunderstorm phenomena, developed the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale (F-Scale) to provide estimates of tornado strength based on damage surveys. Since it is extremely difficult to make direct measurements of tornado winds, an estimate of the winds based on damage is the best way to classify them. The new Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF-Scale) addresses some of the limitations identified by meteorologists and engineers since the introduction of the Fujita Scale in 1971. Variability in the quality of construction and different local building codes made classifying tornadoes in a uniform manner difficult. In many cases, these inconsistencies led to overestimates in the strength of tornadoes. The new scale identifies 28 different free standing structures most affected by tornadoes taking into account construction quality and maintenance. The range of tornado intensities remains as before, zero to five, with 'EF0' being the weakest, associated with very little damage and 'EF5' representing complete destruction, which was the case in Greensburg, Kansas on May 4th, 2007, the first tornado classified as 'EF5'. The EF scale was adopted on February 1, 2007.
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weather-wherever's curator insight, June 7, 2013 9:28 AM

Fascinating! 

Rachel Strauss's comment, July 8, 2013 11:54 PM
This article gives insight on some of the biggest tornadoes and the distruction that they left behind. I think that it is very intresting to see the different effects over the years.
Logan Willits's curator insight, July 19, 2015 10:17 PM

Link showing map and frequency of tornadoes across the United States for the last 50+ years.

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Scientific team picks apart 3D structure of HIV shell

Scientific team picks apart 3D structure of HIV shell | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The first description of the 4-million-atom structure of the HIV’s capsid, or protein shell, could lead to new ways to fight the virus. “The capsid is critically important for HIV replication, so knowing its structure in detail could lead us to new drugs that can treat or prevent the infection,” says senior author Peijun Zhang, associate professor of structural biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “This approach has the potential to be a powerful alternative to our current HIV therapies, which work by targeting certain enzymes, but drug resistance is an enormous challenge due to the virus’ high mutation rate.”


Previous research has shown that the cone-shaped shell is composed of identical capsid proteins linked together in a complex lattice of about 200 hexamers and 12 pentamers, Zhang says.

 

But the shell is non-uniform and asymmetrical; uncertainty remained about the exact number of proteins involved and how the hexagons of six protein subunits and pentagons of five subunits are joined.

 

Standard structural biology methods to decipher the molecular architecture were insufficient because they rely on averaged data, collected on samples of pieces of the highly variable capsid to identify how these pieces tend to go together.

 

Instead, the team used a hybrid approach. They took data from cryo-electron microscopy at an 8-angstrom resolution (a hydrogen atom measures 0.25 angstrom) to uncover how the hexamers are connected, and cryo-electron tomography of native HIV-1 cores, isolated from virions, to join the pieces of the puzzle.

 

Collaborators at the University of Illinois then used their new Blue Waters supercomputer to run simulations at the petascale, involving 1 quadrillion operations per second, that positioned 1,300 proteins into a whole that reflected the capsid’s known physical and structural characteristics.

 

The process revealed a three-helix bundle with critical molecular interactions at the seams of the capsid, areas that are necessary for the shell’s assembly and stability, which represent vulnerabilities in the protective coat of the viral genome.

 

“The capsid is very sensitive to mutation, so if we can disrupt those interfaces, we could interfere with capsid function,” Zhang says. “The capsid has to remain intact to protect the HIV genome and get it into the human cell, but once inside it has to come apart to release its content so that the virus can replicate.

 

“Developing drugs that cause capsid dysfunction by preventing its assembly or disassembly might stop the virus from reproducing.”


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Amazing Science: Science Photography Postings

Amazing Science: Science Photography Postings | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Photography (derived from the Greek word "photos" for "light" and "graphos" for "drawing") is the art, science, and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film, or electronically by means of an image sensor. Typically, a lens is used to focus the light reflected or emitted from objects into a real image on the light-sensitive surface inside a camera during a timed exposure. Photography has many uses for business, science, manufacturing, art, recreational purposes, and mass communication.

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Nasa's Curiosity rover confirms, Mars mission astronauts would get a big dose of damaging radiation

Nasa's Curiosity rover confirms, Mars mission astronauts would get a big dose of damaging radiation | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A single mission to Mars is going to take the astronauts close to or beyond their current career limits for radiation exposure. Scientists say getting to Mars as quickly as possible would lower the risks.


The robot counted the number of high-energy space particles striking it on its eight-month journey to the planet.

 

Based on this data, scientists say a human travelling to and from Mars could well be exposed to a radiation dose that breached current safety limits.

 

This calculation does not even include time spent on the planet's surface.

When the time devoted to exploring the world is taken into account, the dose rises further still.

 

This would increase the chances of developing a fatal cancer beyond what is presently deemed acceptable for a career astronaut.

 

They say engineers will have to give careful consideration to the type of shielding that is built into a Mars-bound crew ship. However, they concede that for some of the most damaging radiation particles, there may be little that can be done to shelter the crew other than to get them to Mars and the partial protection of its thin atmosphere and rocky mass as quickly as possible.

 

At the moment, given existing chemical propulsion technology, Mars transits take months. New types of propulsion, such as plasma and nuclear thermal rockets, are in development. These could bring the journey time down to a number of weeks.

 

Curiosity travelled to Mars inside a capsule similar in size to the one now being developed to take astronauts beyond the space station to destinations such as asteroids and even Mars. 

 

For most of its 253-day, 560-million-km journey in 2011/2012, the robot had its Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument switched on inside the cruise vessel, which gave a degree of protection.

RAD counts the numbers of energetic particles - mostly protons - hitting its sensors.

 

The particles of concern fall into two categories - those that are accelerated away from our dynamic Sun; and those that arrive at high velocity from outside of the Solar System. This latter category originates from exploded stars and the environs of black holes. These galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) impart a lot of energy when they strike the human body and will damage DNA in cells. They are also the most difficult to shield against.

 

Earth's thick atmosphere, its magnetic field and its huge rock bulk provide protection to people living on its surface, but for astronauts in deep space even an aluminium hull 30cm thick is not going to change their exposure to GCRs very much.

 

The RAD data revealed an average GCR dose equivalent rate of 1.84 milliSieverts (mSv) per day during the rover's cruise to Mars. (The Sievert is a standard measure of the biological impacts of radiation.) This dose rate is about the same as having a full-body CT scan in a hospital every five days or so.

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First-ever high-resolution images of a molecule as it breaks and reforms chemical bonds

First-ever high-resolution images of a molecule as it breaks and reforms chemical bonds | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

When Felix Fischer of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) set out to develop nanostructures made of graphene using a new, controlled approach to chemical reactions, the first result was a surprise: spectacular images of individual carbon atoms and the bonds between them.

"We weren't thinking about making beautiful images; the reactions themselves were the goal," says Fischer, a staff scientist in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division (MSD) and a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. "But to really see what was happening at the single-atom level we had to use a uniquely sensitive atomic force microscope in Michael Crommie's laboratory." Crommie is an MSD scientist and a professor of physics at UC Berkeley.

 

What the microscope showed the researchers, says Fischer, "was amazing." The specific outcomes of the reaction were themselves unexpected, but the visual evidence was even more so. "Nobody has ever taken direct, single-bond-resolved images of individual molecules, right before and immediately after a complex organic reaction," Fischer says.


Fischer and his colleagues set out to engineer graphene nanostructures from the bottom up, by converting linear chains of carbon atoms into extended hexagonal sheets (polyaromatic hydrocarbons), using a reaction originally discovered by UC Berkeley professor Robert Bergman. The first requirement was to perform the reactions under controlled conditions.

"In solution, more than a dozen compounds could be the products of the reaction we were using, and characterizing the results would be difficult," Fischer says. "Instead of a 3D solution we created a 2D system. We put our starting molecule" – a structure called oligo-enediyne, composed of three benzene rings linked by carbon atoms – "on a silver surface, and then induced reactions by heating it."

Fischer's group collaborated with microscopy expert Crommie to devise the best possible view. The first attempt to track the reactions used a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), which senses electronic states when brought within a few billionths of a meter (nanometers) of the surface of the sample. But the image resolution of the tiny molecule and its products – each only about one nanometer across – wasn't good enough to reliably identify the molecular structures.

 

The collaborators then turned to a technique called noncontact atomic force microscopy (nc-AFM), which probes the surface with a sharp tip. The tip is mechanically deflected by electronic forces very close to the sample, moving like a phonograph needle in a groove.

 

"A carbon monoxide molecule adsorbed onto the tip of the AFM 'needle' leaves a single oxygen atom as the probe," Fischer explains. "Moving this 'atomic finger' back and forth over the silver surface is like reading Braille, as if we were feeling the small atomic-scale bumps made by the atoms." Fischer notes that high-resolution AFM imaging was first performed by Gerhard Meyer's group at IBM Zurich, "but here we are using it to understand the results of a fundamental chemical reaction."

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From the Alchemist's Kitchen: Researchers Turn Cement into Metal

From the Alchemist's Kitchen: Researchers Turn Cement into Metal | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In a move that would make the Alchemists of King Arthur's time green with envy, scientists have unraveled the formula for turning liquid cement into liquid metal. This makes cement a semi-conductor and opens up its use in the profitable consumer electronics marketplace for thin films, protective coatings, and computer chips.

"This new material has lots of applications including as thin-film resistors used in liquid-crystal displays, basically the flat panel computer monitor that you are probably reading this from at the moment," said Chris Benmore, a physicist from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory who worked with a team of scientists from Japan, Finland, and Germany to take the "magic" out of the cement-to-metal transformation. Benmore and Shinji Kohara from Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute/SPring-8 led the research effort.

 

This change demonstrates a unique way to make metallic-glass material, which has positive attributes including better resistance to corrosion than traditional metal, less brittleness than traditional glass, conductivity, low energy loss in magnetic fields, and fluidity for ease of processing and molding. Previously only metals have been able to transition to a metallic-glass form. Cement does this by a process called electron trapping, a phenomena only previously seen in ammonia solutions. Understanding how cement joined this exclusive club opens the possibility of turning other solid normally insulating materials into room-temperature semiconductors.

 

"This phenomenon of trapping electrons and turning liquid cement into liquid metal was found recently, but not explained in detail until now," Benmore said. "Now that we know the conditions needed to create trapped electrons in materials we can develop and test other materials to find out if we can make them conduct electricity in this way."

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Miro Svetlik's curator insight, May 30, 2013 4:57 AM

As we progress with modern 'Alchemy', more innovative materials will replace old conventional and expensive ways to build things. I believe that materials as this will bring real advances in stopping the world pollution materials which require toxic compounds.

Peter Phillips's curator insight, May 30, 2013 7:55 AM

Potential answer to rare metal crisis that the Earth is finding itself in?

 

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Is our universe merely one of billions? Evidence of the existence of 'multiverse' revealed for the first time by cosmic map

Is our universe merely one of billions? Evidence of the existence of 'multiverse' revealed for the first time by cosmic map | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists studying radiation data from the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft have found unexpected anomalies that they say can only be explained by the existence of other universes and their pull.

 

The first 'hard evidence' that other universes exist has been found by scientists. Cosmologists studying a map of the universe from data gathered by the Planck spacecraft have concluded that it shows anomalies that can only have been caused by the gravitational pull of other universes. The map shows radiation from the Big Bang 13.8billion years ago that is still detectable in the universe - known as cosmic microwave radiation.


Scientists had predicted that it should be evenly distributed, but the map shows a stronger concentration in the south half of the sky and a 'cold spot' that cannot be explained by current understanding of physics.

Laura Mersini-Houghton, theoretical physicist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Richard Holman, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, predicted that anomalies in radiation existed and were caused by the pull from other universes in 2005.


Now that she has studied the Planck data, Dr. Mersini-Houghton believes her hypothesis has been proven. Her findings imply there could be an infinite number of universes outside of our own. She said: 'These anomalies were caused by other universes pulling on our universe as it formed during the Big Bang. 'They are the first hard evidence for the existence of other universes that we have seen.'

 

Although some scientists remain sceptical about the theory of other universes, these findings may be a step towards changing views on physics. The European Space Agency, which runs the £515million Planck telescope, said: 'Because precision of Planck’s map is so high, it made it possible to reveal some peculiar unexplained features that may well require new physics to be understood.'


Cambridge professor of theoretical physics Malcolm Perry told the Sunday Times that the findings could be real evidence of the existence of other universes. While George Efstathiou, professor of astrophysics at the university, told the newspaper: 'Such ideas may sound wacky now, just like the Big Bang theory did three generations ago. But then we got evidence and now it has changed the whole way we think about the universe.'

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The tiny insect (Zorotypus impolitus) with the massive 3 mm long single sperm

The tiny insect (Zorotypus impolitus) with the massive 3 mm long single sperm | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A Malaysian ground louse has a unique mating habit that may illuminate how sex evolved: the males attach an unusual packet of sperm to the females' bodies.

 

Everything about Z. impolitus mating is strange. The female starts the process, approaching the male and stroking him with her antennae. If the male wants to mate, he moves behind her and performs a simple dance: he walks forwards and backwards, lowers his head and vibrates his antennae.

 

The climax of the process is when the male slips underneath the female for a few seconds and attaches a spermatophore to the female's abdomen: a tiny package with a large surprise. "It [the sperm package] is the smallest we have seen in all insects," he says. Whereas other species make spermatophores up to 2 millimetres across, those of Z. impolitus are just 0.1 millimetres across.

 

When Dallai dissected some of these spermatophores, however, he found that each one contained a single sperm about 3 millimetres long – about as long as the female. This seems strange. Males generally want to maximise their chances of fertilising the female's eggs, so why produce only one, giant sperm?

 

Dallai thinks it may be a way of outcompeting other males. "The sperm is so large, it can fill the space in the female's [genital tract]," he says. That plugs it up, so no other male can mate with her. Also, by using only one sperm at a time, the male ensures he gives each female just enough to fertilize her, while leaving him plenty to fertilize other females.

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Hidden alien footprints in Kepler Data? Hunting aliens by searching for megastructures

Hidden alien footprints in Kepler Data? Hunting aliens by searching for megastructures | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In the search for intelligent extraterrestrials, scientists listen for incoming radio signals and they hunt for Earth-like planets. Some scientists are also looking for megastructures constructed by aliens.

NASA’s Kepler space telescope searches for planets using the transit method–Kepler’s sensors detect dips in brightness caused when an alien planet passes in front of its star from Kepler’s perspective. And this same method is used by scientists searching the universe for alien megastructures.

 

Astronomer Geoff Marcy, who was recently appointed to the new Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) at the University of California at Berkeley, was awarded a grant to hunt for evidence of Dyson spheres using Kepler data. A Dyson sphere is a theoretical megastructure envisioned by theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson consisting of a giant array of solar panels that would surround a star to harvest its energy.

 

Scientists hunting alien megastructures are also looking for theoretical structures known as ringworlds. Universe Todayexplains that ringworlds “would consist of a giant ring in orbit around a star, constructed comfortably inside the star’s habitable zone.”

 

Whether alien megastructures actually exist is unknown. But as Universe Today points out, “The possibility alone is exciting enough to make it worth continuing to look.”

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Self-driving car technology that would only add $4000 to price of a car wins INTEL science fair

Self-driving car technology that would only add $4000 to price of a car wins INTEL science fair | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Ionut Budisteanu, 19, of Romania was awarded first place for using artificial intelligence to create a viable model for a low-cost, self-driving car at this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. His whole system should work for no more $4,000. 

Ionut created a feasible design for an autonomously controlled car that could detect traffic lanes and curbs, along with the real-time position of the car.

"The most expensive thing from the Google self-driving car is the high resolution 3-D radar, so I was thinking how I could remove it," he told NBC News.

His solution relies on processing webcam imagery with artificial intelligence technology to pick out the curbs, lane markers, and even soccer balls that roll onto the road. This is coupled with data from a low-resolution 3-D radar that recognizes "big" objects such as other cars, houses, and trees.

All of this information is collected and processed real time by a suite of computers that, in turn, feed into a "supervisor" computer program that calculates the car's path and drives it down the road.

Budisteanu ran 50 simulations with his system and in 47 of them it performed flawlessly. In three, however, it failed to recognize some people who were 65 to 100 feet (20 to 30 meters) away. He said slightly higher-resolution 3-D radar should do the trick and still keep costs at a fraction of Google's.

The advantages of self-driving cars are many, noted Budisteanu. More than 2 million people die each year in car wrecks. An additional 50 million people are injured in traffic accidents. 87 percent of the car accidents are only because of human mistakes.

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