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Stratolaunch Systems Space Aircraft Brings Paying Passengers Into Orbit With 6 Boeing 747 Engines

A giant airplane that can launch a rocket carrying cargo and humans into orbit is the future of space travel, billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said. The first test flight of the ambitious venture by Allen's new company Stratolaunch Systems is not scheduled until 2015, but partners in the project vowed it would revolutionize orbital travel in the post-space shuttle era.

 

Using engines from six Boeing 747 jets, the biggest airliner ever built would tote a rocket made by SpaceX and be able to launch payloads, satellites, and some day, humans, into low-Earth orbit. While he declined to say how much he was investing, Allen said it would be more than he spent on SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 was the first commercial craft to complete a suborbital flight and reportedly cost about $25 million to develop.

 

Designs for the massive jet with a wingspan greater than a football field, a collaboration with aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan who designed SpaceShipOne, are at an advanced stage and a hangar is under construction in the Mojave desert. Talks are under way about potential take-off points, since the plane would need a 12,000 foot runway, available at larger airports and air force bases. The aircraft would use six 747 engines, have a gross weight of more than 1.2 million pounds and a wingspan of more than 380 feet. Advantages include the flexibility to launch from a larger number of locations, and potential cargo markets include the communications satellite industry, and NASA and Department of Defense unmanned scientific satellites.

 

The announcement adds a new company to the race to replace the US space shuttle by offering an alternative made by private industry for carrying humans to low-Earth orbit. The end of the space shuttle after 30 years has left Russia as the sole nation capable of carrying astronauts to the International Space Station aboard its Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost per seat that will rise to $63 million in the coming years.

 

Three subcontractors on the project include Scaled Composites which is building the aircraft, SpaceX which is contributing a multi-stage booster rocket based on its Falcon 9, and Dynetics which is mating the aircraft to the booster. The plane would take off and while in flight, deploy the rocket and send cargo into low-Earth orbit. The first test flight could take place in 2015, and the first launch could happen by 2016.

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Could There be Life on Saturn's Geyser Moon Enceladus? A World of Possibilities

Could There be Life on Saturn's Geyser Moon Enceladus? A World of Possibilities | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Could microbial life exist inside Enceladus, where no sunlight reaches, photosynthesis is impossible and no oxygen is available? To answer that question, we need look no farther than our own planet to find examples of the types of exotic ecosystems that could make life possible on Saturn’s geyser moon. The answer appears to be, yes, it could be possible. It is this tantalizing potential that brings us back to Enceladus for further study.

 

In recent years, life forms have been found on Earth that thrive in places where the sun doesn’t shine and oxygen is not present because no photosynthesis takes place. Microbes have been discovered that survive on the energy from the chemical interaction between different kinds of minerals, and others that live off the energy from the radioactive decay in rocks. The ecosystems are completely independent of oxygen or organic material produced by photosynthesis at Earth’s surface. These extraordinary microbial ecosystems are models for life that might be present inside Enceladus today.

 

There are three such ecosystems found on Earth that would conceivably be a basis for life on Enceladus. Two are based on methanogens, which belong to an ancient group related to bacteria, called the archaea -- the rugged survivalists of bacteria that thrive in harsh environments without oxygen. Deep volcanic rocks along the Columbia River and in Idaho Falls host two of these ecosystems, which pull their energy from the chemical interaction of different rocks. The third ecosystem is powered by the energy produced in the radioactive decay in rocks, and was found deep below the surface in a mine in South Africa.

 

Methanogens belong to an ancient group related to bacteria, called the archaea -- thrive without oxygen. Deep volcanic rocks along the Columbia River and in Idaho Falls host two of these ecosystems.

 

But how would it get its start? A major problem in answering that question is that we don’t know how life originated on Earth, nor have we been able to reproduce Earth’s first spark of life in the laboratory. But here’s the good news: there are a lot of theories for how life originated on Earth. Now the question is -- do they apply to Enceladus?

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Non-Human Artist: Beluga Whale Trained Herself To Blow Halo-Shaped Bubbles at Shimane Aquarium

Non-Human Artist: Beluga Whale Trained Herself To Blow Halo-Shaped Bubbles at Shimane Aquarium | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A female beluga whale has become a sensation at the Shimane aquarium in Japan after learning how to blow halo-shaped bubbles. She has perfected the technique in the past three years and now stuns visitors with her unusual talent. She uses her mouth to blow the water to make a current, then her blow hole to break the current into a ring shape. The extraordinary spectacle was captured on camera by photographer Hiroya Minakuchi. In an interview, Hiroya said: "She is truly a remarkable artist. She started making bubble rings when she was seven. And a couple of years ago she developed her technique. Now she blows the water from her mouth to make a current, which is not visible for us underwater. She then blows air from her blow hole into the current and that makes a ring shape.”

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Minadracula's comment, September 13, 2012 10:00 PM
Wow aww that whale looks so adorable. Hmmm Although animals live by instinct they are seriously getting smarter....now if they could talk that would be suprising......-_-
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Chan's megastick (discovered 2008) - The world's longest insect - 56.7 cm

Chan's megastick (discovered 2008) - The world's longest insect - 56.7 cm | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Stick insects use camouflage and mimicry to great effect. At an impressive 567mm the Chan's megastick (Phobaeticus chani) is the world's longest insect, discovered in the forest canopy in 2008.

It was found near Gunung Kinabalu Park, Sabah, in the Heart of Borneo and measures more than half a metre in length. The largest and one of only a handful of known specimens in the world is held at the Natural History museum in London. Despite is enormous size virtually nothing is known about it. Scientists believe it lives high up in the rainforest canopy, which has made it hard to find and kept it a secret until now.

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The Asteroid Belt - Trojans, Greeks and Hildas

The Asteroid Belt - Trojans, Greeks and Hildas | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The asteroid belt, or Main Belt, sits, more or less, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, with most asteroids between about 2.06 and 3.3 astronomical units (310 to 500 million km) from the Sun. Once thought to be the remains of a disintegrated planet, it is now understood to be the remnant of a failed planet. Originally, when the solar system formed, the amount of material in the belt is thought to have been comparable to the mass of the Earth. Very soon after its formation, perhaps in the first few million years, at least 99.9% of the mass was ejected due to gravitational disturbances from Jupiter and Mars. Instead of relatively gentle collisions between the planetesimals, allowing them to accrete, the impacts were highly energetic causing them to disintegrate into smaller pieces. Thus, much of the belt comprises billions of very small pebbles and dust. Over 200 asteroids have been identified that are larger than about 100 km (60 miles) at their widest, and there are probably at least one to one and a half million larger than 1 km across. While most of the asteroids are rocky, there is a group of comet like objects within the outer reaches of the main belt. They formed beyond the point where water froze in the early days of the solar system, beyond about 400 million km from the Sun, so were able to accumulate ice. Many Earth scientists suggest that outgassing of water from the interior of the early Earth would be insufficient to form its oceans, so it is possible that some of these comets may have collided with the Earth and provided the necessary water.

 

The Hilda asteroids are three groups of asteroids, each in a roughly triangular formation, that are in a 2:3 orbital resonance with Jupiter. That is they orbit the sun three times in the time it takes Jupiter to orbit twice. At any time, one group is directly opposite Jupiter, while the other two lead or trail Jupiter by 60 degrees, as shown in the diagram (below, right). These are the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points. The Jupiter Trojan asteroids are two groups that actually orbit the Sun within, approximately, Jupiter's orbit. They are found at the L4, "Greek", and L5, "Trojan", Lagrangian points, but are further out than the Hildas. 588 Achilles is a Trojan asteroid about 135½ miles across.

 

The four largest asteroids, Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea, represent more than 50% of the total mass in the belt. There are also many large groups of asteroids where the members within each group appear to have similar origins.

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Demystifying the Higgs Boson with Leonard Susskind

Professor Susskind presents an explanation of what the Higgs mechanism is, and what it means to "give mass to particles." He also explains what's at stake for the future of physics and cosmology.

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What Is Life? A 21st Century Perspective By Leading Scientists (Craig Venter, James Watson, etc.)

What Is Life? A 21st Century Perspective By Leading Scientists (Craig Venter, James Watson, etc.) | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Dr. Craig Venter: I view DNA as an analogue coding molecule, and when we sequence the DNA, we are converting that analogue code into digital code; the 1s and 0s in the computer are very similar to the dots and dashes of Schrodinger's metaphor. I call this process "digitizing biology". Life is a process of dynamic renewal. We're all shedding about 500 million skin cells every day. That is the dust that accumulates in your home; that's you. You shed your entire outer layer of skin every two to four weeks. You have five times ten to the 11th blood cells that die every day. If you're not constantly synthesizing new cells, you die. All life as we know it is based on DNA software. We're a DNA software system, you change the DNA software, and you change the species. It's a remarkably simple concept, remarkably complex in its execution. All living cells that we know of on this planet are DNA software driven biological machines comprised of hundreds to thousands of protein robots coded for by the DNA software. The protein robots carry out precise biochemical functions developed by billions of years of evolutionary software changes.

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Donate organs? No, grow them from scratch

Donate organs? No, grow them from scratch | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Columbia researcher Nina Tandon believes that the era of engineered tissues -- think ultimately of a replacement kidney grown in the lab -- is just beginning.

 

Medical science, boosted by manufacturing and information technology, is on the cusp of being able to grow human tissue.
So believes Nina Tandon, a senior fellow at Columbia University's Lab for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, who for her Ph.D. thesis grew cardiac cells that beat like tiny hearts.


A third age of medicine is beginning, she said in a speech here at the TEDx Berlin conference held in conjunction with IFA consumer-electronics show. The first age, most of human history, had only a primitive understanding of the body. The second age ran from the first dialysis machines in 1924 to today's organ replacement procedures dependent on human donors and limited by the fact that many tissues are rejected by the body they're being transplanted into. The third age builds replacement materials through tissue engineering.


"We've gone to growing pieces of the body that are living -- from scratch," Tandon said. Though she's careful to give credit where it's due: humans provide a framework and the correct environment, but "the real tissue engineers are the cells."


Her work so far has focused coaxing cells into activity with electrical impulses inside what she calls a bioreactor. Some of her work is shown in a video of a pulsating cube of lab-grown rat heart tissue. It's about 5mm on a side, a scale that makes her ambition -- growing a patch of heart tissue that could be applied after a heart attack -- seem more achievable.

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Ancient DEAD box RNA helicases function like nanopistons to unwind RNA

Ancient DEAD box RNA helicases function like nanopistons to unwind RNA | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Molecular biologists at The University of Texas at Austin have solved one of the mysteries of how double-stranded RNA is remodeled inside cells in both their normal and disease states. The discovery may have implications for treating cancer and viruses in humans. DEAD-box proteins, which are ancient enzymes found in all forms of life, function as recycling "nanopistons." They use chemical energy to clamp down and pry open RNA strands, thereby enabling the formation of new structures. DEAD-box proteins are the largest family of what are known as " RNA helicases," which unwind RNA.

 

The mechanism is almost certainly universal to the entire family of the proteins, however, and therefore to all domains of life. Every DEAD-box protein that we know about has the same structure and they are particularly useful as a universal remodeling device because they can bind to any RNA. They recognize the geometry of double-stranded RNA and are not sequence-specific. This flexibility of DEAD-box proteins is essential to the functioning of healthy cells, which rely on a range of RNA molecules for basic processes, including protein synthesis. It's also hijacked in cancers, where over-expression of DEAD-box proteins may help drive uncontrolled cell proliferation, and in infections caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which rely on specific DEAD-box proteins for their propagation.

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New hope for people with broken spines: Stem cells bring back feeling for paralysed patients

New hope for people with broken spines: Stem cells bring back feeling for paralysed patients | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

For the first time, people with broken spines have recovered feeling in previously paralysed areas after receiving injections of neural stem cells. Three people with paralysis received injections of 20 million neural stem cells directly into the injured region of their spinal cord. The cells, acquired from donated fetal brain tissue, were injected between four and eight months after the injuries happened. The patients also received a temporary course of immunosuppressive drugs to limit rejection of the cells. None of the three felt any sensation below their nipples before the treatment. Six months after therapy, two of them had sensations of touch and heat below their belly button. The third patient has not seen any change. The patients are the first three of 12 who will eventually receive the therapy. The remaining recipients will have less extensive paralysis.

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Living Without Breathing - Researchers Are Able To Bypass The Lungs By Using Injectable Oxygen

Living Without Breathing - Researchers Are Able To Bypass The Lungs By Using Injectable Oxygen | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital managed to sustain life in rabbits with blocked tracheae through the use of oxygen-filled microparticles. They injected the particles into the blood stream of the rabbits and managed to keep them alive for almost 15 minutes without a real breath of air. Researchers say that if the novel method would be used in the emergency room, it would save countless more lives. The research team provides a new way to deliver oxygen to the bloodstream and tissues, by bypassing the lungs through the use of injectable oxygen.


Patients who are unable to breathe through their lungs, due to either lung failure or a type of obstruction, need an alternative way of getting oxygen into their bloodstream. Lack of oxygen can lead to brain injury and cardiac arrest. The research team says their new technique can delay the onset of brain injury, cardiac arrest or other tissue injuries that could be induced due to lack of oxygen.


Most of the previous techniques that were attempted in order to treat hypoxemia (an abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the blood) and cyanosis (a bluish discoloration of the skin caused by lack of oxygen in tissues) have had different success rates. Many of the previous techniques used free oxygen gas injections directly into the bloodstream. This is dangerous because the oxygen bubbles can aggregate and form gas bubbles that lead to pulmonary embolism, a lethal blockage.

 

The new method removes the danger of injecting free oxygen gas into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the oxygen particles mix with circulating red blood cells and the oxygen diffuses into these cells almost immediately after contact. The research team notes that their new microparticle technique is unlike any other type of artificial blood because it does not require oxygen to brought from the lungs. Dr. Kheir also added that after the oxygen dissociates from the fatty molecule, the molecule break off and can be easily reabsorbed by the organism.

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Unmixing Oil And Water - New Filer Could Help Clean Up Oil Spills

Unmixing Oil And Water - New Filer Could Help Clean Up Oil Spills | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Oil and water’s disdain for each other is legendary, but once forced to comingle they’re nearly impossible to separate. Now scientists have developed a specialized filter that cleanly separates the two, allowing water to pass through and leaving oil behind. Such filters could prove useful for cleaning up oil spills or cleaning water at treatment plants.

 

Oil and water both stick to their own, staying on opposite sides of the room at a molecular cocktail party. But add a chemical called a surfactant — molecules that are partly attracted to water and partly attracted to oil — and you’ve got a social lubricant that forces water and oil to mingle. Once this socializing happens, it’s difficult to undo.

 

One way to get them apart is with a filtering membrane coated with water-hating molecules — such membranes allow oil through, but not water. Think of a nonstick Teflon pan, says materials scientist Anish Tuteja, who led the new work. Oil moves smoothly across such surfaces but water beads up. But these filters require energy to force stuff through them, and they often become fouled after a few hours. Also, water is denser than oil, so it can sit on top of such filters, making it harder for oil to get through.

 

The new membrane is the opposite of Teflon, allowing water to pass through it, but not oil. And it works with gravity alone.

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The race to get rainforest frogs into Noah's ark

The race to get rainforest frogs into Noah's ark | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Frogs matter - they play a vital role in the food chain, and some have been found to produce chemicals that cure human diseases. But a fungus dubbed "the amphibian smallpox" is making many species extinct. So scientists are mounting a rescue operation.

 

Frogs around the world are in decline. In recent years, scientists have documented frog population decreases of up to 80% in some areas. Habitat loss, climate change and pollution, are all playing a role in the disappearances. Another culprit is "chytrid" - a virulent fungal disease, thought to have originated in Africa, that's spreading around the globe. In parts of Central America the fungus is moving at around 20 miles (32km) a year. Once the fungus starts to kill the frogs, it kills them fast. However, there is now evidence that bacteria on the skin of the salamanders can act as a protection against fungal attack. There are recent efforts to develop this research, by looking for bacteria that may protect frogs in the wild - though scientists warn there is no immediate prospect of a miracle cure that will allow them to survive in chytrid-infected areas. Scientists are hoping that one day, if the hunt for a solution to the chytrid problem is successful, new baby amphibians may be able to leave the amphibian ark and return to their parents' forest home.

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Future of 3D - from a model of the heart to a talking human head – to be viewed from any angle

A new projector allows floating 3D objects – from a model of the heart to a talking human head – to be viewed from any angle.

 

The RayModeler prototype, developed by Sony, is on display for the first time in the UK at an exhibit at the British Library, London, called Growing Knowledge. The device creates 3D images that viewers can see from all angles without stereoscopic glasses. Sensors that recognise gestures allow it to be spun around when you wave your hand in the desired direction.

 

The system can recreate both static and moving objects. A static object can be captured on a turntable with a single camera, whereas many cameras are needed to capture motion. The shots are transformed into 360 images to be displayed by an LED light source in the system.

 

The library is featuring the display because it could be a powerful tool for researchers. "It has clear applications in anatomy and physiology," says Aleks Krotoski, researcher-in-residence at the British Library. "If you have an MRI scan you could look at it closely in 3D and manipulate it."

 

http://tinyurl.com/cg76hfa

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Science and Art: The 20 Awesomest Pieces of Burning Man Art

Science and Art: The 20 Awesomest Pieces of Burning Man Art | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

 

 


Via Peter S Witham
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Man’s new best friend - A dog or a fox? The forgotten Russian experiments in fox domestication

Man’s new best friend - A dog or a fox? The forgotten Russian experiments in fox domestication | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Dmitri K. Belyaev, a Russian scientist, may be the man most responsible for our understanding of the process by which wolves were domesticated into our canine companions. Dogs began making for themselves a social niche within human culture as early as 12,000 years ago in the Middle East. But Belyaev didn’t study dogs or wolves; his research focused instead on foxes. What might foxes be able to tell us about the domestication of dogs?

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Can We Become A Zero Waste Planet? An Infographic

Can We Become A Zero Waste Planet? An Infographic | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Find In-depth Review, Video And Infographic On Global Waste Production. Learn more about statistics of waste/trash in USA, waste statistics worldwide, the high environmental cost of waste, truth about plastics, waste trade and waste reduction.

 

NOTE: The graphic can be scrolled up and down with the mouse.

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Daniel LaLiberte's curator insight, February 23, 2013 5:26 PM

We MUST become a Zero Waste planet.  We can't afford not to.  There is a lot of waste that we can easily avoid creating, but to make the rest easier, we should focus on scaling up renewable energy, so we will have enough cheap clean energy to help us get to 100% recycling, and clean up all the waste that has been dumped previously.

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Absence of functional PRDM9 coincides with stabilization of the recombination landscape in the dog genome

Absence of functional PRDM9 coincides with stabilization of the recombination landscape in the dog genome | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Analysis of diverse eukaryotes has revealed that recombination events cluster in discrete genomic locations known as hotspots. In humans, a zinc-finger protein, PRDM9, is believed to initiate recombination in >40% of hotspots by binding to a specific DNA sequence motif. However, the PRDM9 coding sequence is disrupted in the dog, raising questions regarding the nature and control of recombination in dogs. The sequence analysis of PRDM9 orthologs in a number of dog breeds and several carnivores shows that this gene was inactivated early in canid evolution. Patterns of linkage disequilibrium employing more than 170,000 SNP markers from almost 500 dogs to estimate the recombination rates in the dog genome show a good correspondence with an existing linkage-based map. Significant variation in recombination rates is observed on the fine scale, and over 4000 recombination hotspots are detectable. In contrast to human hotspots, 40% of canine hotspots are characterized by a distinct peak in GC content. A comparative genomic analysis indicates that these peaks are present also as weaker peaks in the panda, suggesting that the hotspots have been continually reinforced by accelerated and strongly GC biased nucleotide substitutions, consistent with the long-term action of biased gene conversion on the dog lineage. These results are consistent with the loss of PRDM9 in canids, resulting in a greater evolutionary stability of recombination hotspots. The genetic determinants of recombination hotspots in the dog genome may thus reflect a fundamental process of relevance to diverse animal species.

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Shapeways: 3D printing for the masses

Shapeways: 3D printing for the masses | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Shapeways is a Philips spin-off company focused on bringing 3D rapid manufacturing technologies to main-stream consumers. Although they don’t sell any actual lighting fixtures, Shapeways offers an intriguing glimpse into the future of the lighting industry.

 

Shapeways website is designed to enable non-3D-cad-savvy people to share in the possibilities of the technology. Shapeways has developed a series of “Creators“, small applets that allow people to design and order their own customized 3D printed objects, by simply adjusting the parameters or entering information, such as a string of text in the votive candle holder they call the “Light Poem.”

 

Shapeways has also created a forum where designers can easily post their designs for sale, along with simple web-based technology to allow people to view and manipulate 3D content right on the website — without having to learn some complex and expensive 3D modeling software.

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Vinod Khosla: Technology Will Replace 80 Percent of Medical Doctors

Vinod Khosla: Technology Will Replace 80 Percent of Medical Doctors | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Khosla assured the audience that being part of the health care system was a burden and disadvantage. To disrupt health care, entrepreneurs do not need to be part of the system or status quo. He cited the example of CEO Jack Dorsey of Square (a wireless payment system allowing anyone to accept credit cards rather than setup a more costly corporate account with Visa / MasterCard) who reflected in a Wired magazine article that the ability to disrupt the electronic payment system which had stymied others for years was because of the 250 employees at Square, only 5 ever worked in that industry.


Khosla believed that patients would be better off getting diagnosed by a machine than by doctors. Creating such a system was a simple problem to solve. Google’s development of a driverless smart car was “two orders of magnitude more complex” than providing the right diagnosis. A good machine learning system not only would be cheaper, more accurate and objective, but also effectively replace 80 percent of doctors simply by being better than the average doctor. To do so, the level of machine expertise would need to be in the 80th percentile of doctors’ expertise.

 

Health and medical care is an incredible intersection of technology, science, emotions, and human imperfections in both providing care and comfort. As conference speaker Dr. Aenor Sawyer, an orthopedic surgeon from UCSF noted, we need to figure out how to have our different cultures of doctors, gamers, designers, and technologists interact. Fixing health care is more than simply “we know the problem and we know the solution”. She reflected that the level of dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to make impact among the different groups demonstrates more similarities than differences.

 

Perhaps Kholsa’s call to action was simply an entrepreneurial mindset, but simply ignoring those who have chosen a field to improve and safe lives and who meet humanity everyday on the front-lines is problematic and dangerous. There are some things that may never be codified or driven into algorthims. Call it a doctor’s experience, intuition, and therapeutic touch and listening. If start-ups can clear the obstacles and restore the timeless doctor-patient relationship and human connection, then perhaps the future of health care is bright after all.

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Asti Toro's comment, September 10, 2012 10:52 AM
my husband already said it 10 years ago, your article is confirming it.. thank you to have a confirmation from an expert..
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A Hot Potentially Habitable Exoplanet around Gliese 163

A Hot Potentially Habitable Exoplanet around Gliese 163 | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A new superterran exoplanet (aka Super-Earth) was found in the stellar habitable zone of the red dwarf star Gliese 163 by the European HARPS team. The planet, Gliese 163c, has a minimum mass of 6.9 Earth masses and takes nearly 26 days to orbit its star. Superterrans are those exoplanets between two and ten Earth masses, which are more likely composed of rock and water. Gliese 163 is a nearby red dwarf star 50 light years away in the Dorado constellation. Another larger planet, Gliese 163b, was also found to orbit the star much closer with a nine days period. An additional third, but unconfirmed planet, might be orbiting the star much farther away.

 

Gliese 163c could have a size between 1.8 to 2.4 Earth radii, depending if it is composed mostly of rock or water, respectively. It receives on average 40% more light from its parent star than Earth from the Sun, making it hotter. In comparison, Venus receives 90% more light from the Sun than Earth. We do not know the properties of the atmosphere of Gliese 163c but, if we assume that it is a scaled up version of Earth’s atmosphere, then its surface temperature might be around 60°C. Most complex life on Earth (plants, animals, and even humans) are not able to survive at temperatures above 50°C, however, plenty of extremophilic microbial life forms can thrive at those temperatures or higher.

 

The detection of potential habitable exoplanets is pacing up. There are now six including the debated Gliese 581g, most of them detected just in the last year. Four of these bodies, Gliese 581d, Gliese 667Cc, Gliese 581g, and now Gliese 163c are around red dwarfs stars (M-star). HD 85512 is around a K-star (a middle star between the smaller red dwarfs and the Sun). Only Kepler-22b is around a Sun-like star (G-star). All of these planets are bigger than Earth but still considered potentially habitable, at least to simple life forms. Scientists are trying to construct better ground and space observatories in the next decades to be able to detect smaller worlds, those more resembling Earth. The Habitable Exoplanet Catalog of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo (phl.upr.edu), which was not involved in the discovery, now includes and ranks Gliese 163c as number five in its main list of best objects of interest for life.

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The Internet Map: Revealing the Hidden Structure of the Network - information aesthetics

The Internet Map: Revealing the Hidden Structure of the Network - information aesthetics | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The Internet Map [ www.internet-map.net ] encompasses over 350,000 websites based in 196 countries, which are clustered according to about 2 million mutual links between them. Developed by a small team of Russian enthusiasts, the interactive Internet map is an "attempt to look into the hidden structure of the network, fathom its colossal scale, and examine that which is impossible to understand from the bare figures of statistics." Every circle on the map stands for a unique website, with its size determined by website web traffic. Its color depends on the country of origin, with red for Russia, yellow for China, purple for Japan, and light-blue for the US.

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Can't smell anything? Gene therapy targeting IFT88 corrects congenital anosmia in mice

Can't smell anything? Gene therapy targeting IFT88 corrects congenital anosmia in mice | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Scientists have restored the sense of smell in mice through gene therapy for the first time -- a hopeful sign for people who can’t smell anything from birth or lose it due to disease. The achievement in curing congenital anosmia -- the medical term for lifelong inability to detect odors -- may also aid research on other conditions that also stem from problems with the cilia. Those tiny hair-shaped structures on the surfaces of cells throughout the body are involved in many diseases, from the kidneys to the eyes.

 

The mice in the study all had a severe genetic defect that affected a protein called IFT88, causing a lack of cilia throughout their bodies. Such mice are prone to poor feeding and to early death as a result. In humans, the same genetic defect is fatal. The researchers were able to insert normal IFT88 genes into the cells of the mice by giving them a common cold virus loaded with the normal DNA sequence, and allowing the virus to infect them and insert the DNA into the mouse’s own cells. They then monitored cilia growth, feeding habits, and well as signals within and between the nerve cells, called neurons, that are involved in the sense of smell. Only 14 days after the three-day treatment, the mice had a 60 percent increase in their body weight, an indication they were likely eating more. Cell-level indicators showed that neurons involved in smelling were firing correctly when the mice were exposed to amyl acetate, a strong-smelling chemical also called banana oil.

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The bacteria that make insects digest their own brains

The bacteria that make insects digest their own brains | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

As far as bacteria are concerned, other living creatures are just another niche to exploit, which means that pretty much every animal and plant has a set of bacterial pathogens that come along with it. These bacteria have made the animal in question their speciality, and are highly adapted to live inside their hosts. While these bacteria often make the host ill, or less fit, or sometimes dead, the longer they live with their host, overall, the less they damage it. After all, it’s no help to the bacteria if their home drops down dead right after they’ve moved in.

 

A great example of this is the bacteria Wolbachia, which infect insects and other arthropods and causes them to stop producing male offspring (so only female survive to pass on the bacterial genome). As well as passing from females onto their offspring, Wolbachia can also be transmitted horizontally, that is between insects in the same generation. In its normal host the Wolbachia is not hugely damaging (apart from removing all males from the population) but when transmitted to a new species it causes various unpleasant nervous system complications, often leading to death. It turns out, the reason Wolbachia are more dangerous in new species isn’t because the bacteria go wild in the unexplored territory, rather it’s because the new host doesn’t know how to deal with them.

 

As the bacteria are found inside cells, the best way for an insect immune system to get rid of them, is by destroying the cells that house the bacteria. Which, as previously mentioned, are mainly the gonads and the central nervous system. When the Wolbachia get into a new species, the first response of the insect is to quickly and efficiently destroy any cells which have bacteria inside them. As a consequence the unfortunate insect basically destroys its own brain, leading to various unpleasant symptoms and death.

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Cloned Horses Given Okay For Olympics – A New Era Of Designer Animals Coming?

Cloned Horses Given Okay For Olympics – A New Era Of Designer Animals Coming? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Cloned horses are galloping their way toward the Olympic Games. The organization that presides over international equestrian events has reversed its position on prohibiting cloned horses from participating in competitions. The Fédération Equestre Internationale in Lausanne, Switzerland, announced their decision in June following a meeting in which up-to-date information on cloning was presented to the federation. Federation members then held a debate, after which it was decided that, for equestrian, cloned horses do not have a clear competitive advantage over non-cloned horses. Because the ruling is so recent, cloned horses do not number amongst the competition at the London Games. But we’re sure to see them at future Olympic Games. The ruling also raises a broader question: how will cloning impact animals in other sports as well?

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