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Dark matter filament studied in 3D for the first time

Dark matter filament studied in 3D for the first time | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have studied a giant filament of dark matter in 3D for the first time. Extending 60 million light-years from one of the most massive galaxy clusters known, the filament is part of the cosmic web that constitutes the large-scale structure of the Universe, and is a leftover of the very first moments after the Big Bang. If the high mass measured for the filament is representative of the rest of the Universe, then these structures may contain more than half of all the mass in the Universe. The theory of the Big Bang predicts that variations in the density of matter in the very first moments of the Universe led the bulk of the matter in the cosmos to condense into a web of tangled filaments. This view is supported by computer simulations of cosmic evolution, which suggest that the Universe is structured like a web, with long filaments that connect to each other at the locations of massive galaxy clusters. However, these filaments, although vast, are made mainly of dark matter, which is incredibly difficult to observe.

 

The first convincing identification of a section of one of these filaments was made earlier this year. Now a team of astronomers has gone further by probing a filament's structure in three dimensions. Seeing a filament in 3D eliminates many of the pitfalls that come from studying the flat image of such a structure.

 

"Filaments of the cosmic web are hugely extended and very diffuse, which makes them extremely difficult to detect, let alone study in 3D," says Mathilde Jauzac (LAM, France and University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), lead author of the study.

 

The team combined high resolution images of the region around the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 (or MACS J0717 for short), taken using Hubble, NAOJ's Subaru Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, with spectroscopic data on the galaxies within it from the WM Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. Analysing these observations together gives a complete view of the shape of the filament as it extends out from the galaxy cluster almost along our line of sight.

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Planet with four suns discovered, by volunteers

Planet with four suns discovered, by volunteers | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Astronomers discover a planet - about six times bigger than Earth - whose skies are lit by four different suns, some 5,000 light-years away.

 

The distant world orbits one pair of stars which have a second stellar pair revolving around them. The discovery was made by volunteers using the Planethunters.org website along with a team from UK and US institutes; follow-up observations were made with the Keck Observatory. The planet has been named PH1 after the Planet Hunters site. It is thought to be a "gas giant" slightly larger than Neptune - more than six times the radius of the Earth.

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The Sharp Shape of Frozen Water

The Sharp Shape of Frozen Water | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Frozen water droplets take on a whole new shape when they freeze: Instead of staying round, they form a pointy tip, and eventually sprout a tiny forest of ice crystals on their surface. In order to observe these effects, researchers dripped tiny beads of water on a plate kept at a chilly -20°C. In the 18 seconds that it took the 4-millimeter-diameter droplets (top row) to solidify, researchers snapped photos of the water freezing from the bottom up. During the final stage of freezing, the ice drops developed a pointy tip (middle row), which continued to grow and eventually formed delicate ice crystals on the surface, the team reported last month in Physics of Fluids. Researchers believe the unusual pointy tip is caused by the vertical expansion of the ice combined with the surface tension on remaining liquid. Once frozen, the sharp tip of the drop attracts water vapor from the air, and produces treelike ice crystals (bottom row).


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Gas trapped in ancient Mars meteorite could help to reconstruct conditions on Mars 700,000 years ago

Gas trapped in ancient Mars meteorite could help to reconstruct conditions on Mars 700,000 years ago | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A lump of space rock that shattered the predawn calm of the Moroccan desert with a fireball and double sonic boom last year was knocked off Mars in a cosmic collision roughly 700,000 years ago. The date of the Martian impact means the rock was flung into space and began its journey to Earth when the shared ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals was still alive and well in Africa.

 

Scientists dated the collision through a fresh analysis of the remains of the meteorite, based on the exposure of its elements to intense cosmic rays during its journey through space. The Tissint meteorite, as it is known, is particularly valuable because it was recovered before it had suffered any weathering on Earth.

 

Witnesses said it split in two as it fell to Earth and landed in the desert near Tata, south-east Morocco, at 2am local time on 18 July last year. Pieces weighing between 100g and 2kg have been recovered, along with thousands of smaller fragments. The intact meteorite is estimated to have weighed 17kg.

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Childhood stimulation is key to brain development, study finds

Childhood stimulation is key to brain development, study finds | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Twenty-year research project shows that most critical aspect of cortex development in late teens was stimulation aged four.

 

An early childhood surrounded by books and educational toys will leave positive fingerprints on a person's brain well into their late teens, a two-decade-long research study has shown.

 

Scientists found that the more mental stimulation a child gets around the age of four, the more developed the parts of their brains dedicated to language and cognition will be in the decades ahead.

 

It is known that childhood experience influences brain development but the only evidence scientists have had for this has usually come from extreme cases such as children who had been abused or suffered trauma. Martha Farah, director of the centre for neuroscience and society at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the latest study, wanted to find out how a normal range of experiences in childhood might influence the development of the brain.

 

Farah took data from surveys of home life and brain scans of 64 participants carried out over the course of 20 years. Her results, presented on Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans, showed that cognitive stimulation from parents at the age of four was the key factor in predicting the development of several parts of the cortex – the layer of grey matter on the outside of the brain – 15 years later.

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Scientists generate 281-gigapixel cell map using electron microscope

Scientists generate 281-gigapixel cell map using electron microscope | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Electron microscopes can produce incredibly detailed and even 3D views of sub-cellular structures, but often at the cost of losing the bigger picture. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands, however, have leveraged a technique called virtual nanoscopy that enables researchers to observe the whole of a cell and its intricate details in a single image. With the method, the team stitches together nanometer resolution photographs of what's gone under the scope to create a map with adjustable zoom a la Google Maps. Their study created a 281-gigapixel image (packed with 16 million pixels per inch) of a 1.5-millimeter-long zebrafish embryo.


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How many killer asteroids are out there?

How many killer asteroids are out there? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Results from a NASA survey released in 2012 suggest there are roughly 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids in our solar system. The results reveal new information about their total numbers, origins and the possible dangers they may pose. Potentially hazardous asteroids, or PHAs, are a subset of the larger group of near-Earth asteroids. The PHAs have the closest orbits to Earth’s, coming within five million miles (about eight million kilometers), and they are big enough to survive passing through Earth’s atmosphere and cause damage on a regional, or greater, scale.

 

The new results come from the asteroid-hunting portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, called NEOWISE. The project sampled 107 PHAs to make predictions about the entire population as a whole. Findings indicate there are roughly 4,700 PHAs, plus or minus 1,500, with diameters larger than 330 feet (about 100 meters). So far, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of these objects have been found.

 

The new analysis also suggests that about twice as many PHAs as previously thought are likely to reside in “lower-inclination” orbits, which are more aligned with the plane of Earth’s orbit. In addition, these lower-inclination objects appear to be somewhat brighter and smaller than the other near-Earth asteroids that spend more time far away from Earth. A possible explanation is that many of the PHAs may have originated from a collision between two asteroids in the main belt lying between Mars and Jupiter. A larger body with a low-inclination orbit may have broken up in the main belt, causing some of the fragments to drift into orbits closer to Earth and eventually become PHAs. Asteroids with lower-inclination orbits would be more likely to encounter Earth and would be easier to reach. The results therefore suggest more near-Earth objects might be available for future robotic or human missions.

 

The WISE spacecraft scanned the sky twice in infrared light before entering hibernation mode in early 2011. It catalogued hundreds of millions of objects, including super-luminous galaxies, stellar nurseries and closer-to-home asteroids. The NEOWISE project snapped images of about 600 near-Earth asteroids, about 135 of which were new discoveries.

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Several Janus kinase (JAK) Pathway Inhibitors in Clinical Trials

Several Janus kinase (JAK) Pathway Inhibitors in Clinical Trials | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Janus kinase (JAK) plays an important role in the formation and development of blood cells, and defects in the gene have been identified in myeloproliferative neoplasms. As a result, JAK inhibitors for the treatment of hematologic malignancies have been an intense research focus, with one drug receiving approval in 2011 and several more in various stages of clinical development. In November, the FDA approved ruxolitinib (Jakafi; Incyte) for the treatment of intermediate or high-risk myelofibrosis, in which dysregulation of the JAK1 and JAK2 pathways results in a depletion of healthy bone marrow that burdens the liver and spleen. In the phase III COMFORT-I study, 41.9% of patients receiving ruxolitinib had at least a 35% reduction in spleen size, and 45.9% of patients on the drug reported a reduction in symptoms.

 

Other JAK inhibitors are being assessed in clinical trials. These include:

• Ruxolitinib: Incyte is continuing to develop the drug for several hematologic malignancies. A phase III trial is ongoing in polycythemia vera, a phase II study is under way in essential thrombocythemia vera, and phase I/II evaluations are continuing in advanced leukemias and other hematologic malignancies.

• CYT387 (YM BioSciences): Two ongoing phase II trials are evaluating dosing, safety, and tolerability of the oral JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitor as monotherapy for patients with myelofibrosis. Results presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting in 2011 indicated significant durable response in anemia, splenomegaly, and constitutional symptoms, particularly at the 300- mg once-daily dose level.

• SAR302503 (TG101348, Sanofi): A highly selective oral JAK2 inhibitor, SAR302503 is being tested in a phase III clinical trial that is currently enrolling patients with myelofibrosis. In an interim phase I/II analysis presented at ASH 2011, spleen responses were usually seen within the first three cycles, with 54.4% of patients achieving ≥ 50% spleen reduction after six months and 66.7% of patients achieving the same endpoint after 12 months.

• LY2784544 (Eli Lilly): In the results of a phase I trial that were presented at ASH 2011, spleen reduction of at least 35% was observed in 13 of 17 evaluable patients (76%) with myeloproliferative neoplasm subtypes. A questionnaire found that 59% of patients reported symptom improvement ≥ 50%.

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Ken Young's curator insight, June 1, 2013 12:25 AM

This is great to see new drugs being developed for MPNs. I hope that trials happen in Australia to give early access for Australian patients

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Is lightspeed really a limit in our universe?

Is lightspeed really a limit in our universe? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Solving super-luminal Special Relativity without breaking Einstein. We don’t (yet) have any way to test this, but University of Adelaide applied mathematicians are suggesting that an extended version of Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity also holds true for velocities beyond lightspeed.

 

The surprising idea: with just two assumptions, an extended version of the mathematics for Einstein's special relativity works just as well above the speed of light as below. “Relativity is about frames of reference,” Professor Hill explains. That is, observers with different velocities see the same event from different frames of reference. “Einstein started working from information where the relative velocity is zero and what we knew about, such as rest mass, kinetic energy and so on. Then he extrapolated what is known in the Newtonian world for velocities lower than c. “Our thinking was -- how do we make use of the essential essence of Einstein’s theory for velocities above c?” What the mathematicians assumed is that for infinite relative velocity, there is a fixed relationship between the velocities of the two observers: where u is the first observer’s velocity, v is the second, the product of the two velocities is always c^2. “What we have is an equivalent theory to Special Relativity that applies for velocities beyond the speed of light. That theory is different from Special Relativity, but it has many of the same characteristics.

 

And readers with an interest in either physics or maths will be delighted with the vital assumptions: there has to be one, and only one, speed of light; and in all cases, a mathematical singularity occurs at the speed of light. “If you believe what we’ve done,” Professor Hill said, “there can only be one speed of light in a universe. This theory and method of solution is absolutely dependent on the assumption that there is only one speed of light in any universe. If there was a second speed of light, our mathematics wouldn’t work. If there is a second singularity -- the one that occurs at the speed of light in Special Relativity -- it wouldn’t work either."

 

To get from the theory to any practical test is another matter entirely, and Professor Hill freely admits he doesn’t know how that might be achieved. He hopes, however, that a test can be devised. “If you really don’t believe that faster-than-light is possible, then humans will be limited in space travel forever,” he said.

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Vast volcanic 'raft' spotted in the Pacific

Vast volcanic 'raft' spotted in the Pacific | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A vast "raft" of buoyant volcanic rocks covering 10,000 sq miles (26,000 sq km) of the Pacific Ocean was spotted by a New Zealand military aircraft.


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New handheld medical 3D Scanner to aid doctors on the "diagnostic front lines"

New handheld medical 3D Scanner to aid doctors on the "diagnostic front lines" | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

In the operating room, surgeons can see inside the human body in real time using advanced imaging techniques, but primary care physicians, the people who are on the front lines of diagnosing illnesses, haven't commonly had access to the same technology – until now. Engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have created a new imaging tool for primary care physicians: a handheld scanner that would enable them to image all the sites they commonly examine, and more, such as bacterial colonies in the middle ear in 3-D, or monitor the thickness and health of patients' retinas. The device relies on optical coherence tomography (OCT), a visualization technology that is similar to ultrasound imaging, but uses light instead of sound to produce the images.

 

The scanners include three basic components: a near-infrared light source and OCT system, a video camera to relay real-time images of surface features and scan locations, and a microelectromechanical (MEMS)-based scanner to direct the light. Near-infrared wavelengths of light penetrate deeper into human tissues than other wavelengths more readily absorbed by the body. By measuring the time it takes the light to bounce back from tissue microstructure, computer algorithms build a picture of the structure of tissue under examination.

 

http://tinyurl.com/9dspbno

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World's Largest 3D Printer Opens To Public in Denmark

World's Largest 3D Printer Opens To Public in Denmark | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
DUS Architects of Amsterdam has launched the world's largest 3D printer, the KamerMaker, which is capable of fabricating room-sized structures from bio-plastic.

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3D Printer DRM Patent To Stop People Downloading a Car

3D Printer DRM Patent To Stop People Downloading a Car | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

DRM systems in the digital media world are nothing new and are utilized extensively in the music, movie and video games industries. Now, after applying four years ago, a company has this week obtained a patent for a DRM system that aims to stop future owners of 3D printers from printing whatever they like. The dream of downloading a new pair of sneakers or even a car might already be in jeopardy, before it’s even begun.


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Mind Reading: Reconstruction of shown images by reading out the activity of the visual area of the brain

Mind Reading: Reconstruction of shown images by reading out the activity of the visual area of the brain | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The human visual system consists of a hierarchically organized, highly interconnected network of several dozen distinct areas. Each area can be viewed as a computational module that represents different aspects of the visual scene. Some areas process the simple structural features of a scene, such as the edge orientation, local motion and texture. Others process complex semantic features, such as faces, animals and places. Recently, researches have been focussing on discovering the way each of these areas are representing the visual world, and on how these multiple representations are modulated by attention, learning and memory. Because the human visual system is exquisitely adapted to process natural images and movies we focus most of our effort on natural stimuli.

 

One way to think about visual processing is in terms of neural coding. Each visual area encodes certain information about a visual scene, and that information must be decoded by downstream areas. Both encoding and decoding processes can, in theory, be described by an appropriate computational model of the stimulus-response mapping function of each area. Therefore, our descriptions of visual function are posed in terms of quantitative computational encoding models. However, once an accurate encoding model has been developed, it is fairly straightforward to convert it into a decoding model that can be used to read out brain activity, in order to classify, identify or reconstruct mental events. In the popular press this is often called “brain reading”.

 

Here are some picture and video examples of it.

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Battle of the Microbes: Rival colonies of bacteria fight for resources with lethal protein

Battle of the Microbes: Rival colonies of bacteria fight for resources with lethal protein | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Rival colonies of the bacteria Paenibacillus dendritiformis can produce a lethal chemical that keeps competitors at bay. When competing colonies get too close poisons are unleashed, creating a toxic no-man's land in between. By halting the growth of nearby colonies and even killing some of the cells, groups of bacteria preserve scarce resources for themselves, even when the encroaching colony is closely related.

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DNA barcoding aims to protect species, food

DNA barcoding aims to protect species, food | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Every species, from extinct to thriving, is set to get its own DNA barcode in an attempt to better track the ones that are endangered, as well as those being shipped across international borders as food or consumer products.

 

The International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL), which says it is the world's first reference library of DNA barcodes and the world's largest biodiversity genomics project, is being built by scientists using fragments of DNA to create a database of all life forms. "What we're trying to do is to create this global library of DNA barcodes -- snippets, little chunks of DNA -- that permit us to identify species," Alex Smith, assistant professor of molecular ecology at the University of Guelph's Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, about 90 km (56 miles) west of Toronto.

 

So far DNA barcoding has helped identify the type of birds that forced last year's emergency landing of a flight on the Hudson River in New York. The researchers also discovered nearly one in four fish fillets are mislabeled in North America after referring to the library, which has 7,000 species of fish DNA barcodes, allowing the scientists to identify fillets that have been stripped of scales, skins and heads.

 

To get the barcodes, scientists use a short section of DNA extracted from a standardized region of tissue. Once the barcode is created, it's filed in the iBOL library.

 

Just as the barcode scanner at a grocery store can identify lettuce, milk or steak, the DNA barcode sequence can be used to identify different species so that anyone who isn't a specialist -- from an elementary school student to a border patrol inspector -- can identify the species, once technology to read the library is available. The library has more than 87,000 formally described species with barcodes filed and more than 1 million total barcoded specimens. Humans live among at least 1.9 million named species, with total diversity within all those species adding up to millions more. Scientists estimate iBOL will have barcodes for all 10 million species of multicellular life within the next 20 years.

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Ambitious quest to build an artificial organism that merges electronic parts with living cells

Ambitious quest to build an artificial organism that merges electronic parts with living cells | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

It has become routine for engineers to draw inspiration from the animal kingdom when designing mobile robots. There are now machines that run like cheetahs, fly like hummingbirds, and swim like zebrafish. So it’s not surprising that when a team of British and American scientists joined forces to build a robot that wriggles through water, they decided to use the sea lamprey, a primitive eel-like fish, as a model.

 

But this lamprey-inspired bot won’t merely be another animal-mimicking machine. Instead, it will be a “biohybrid”, a simulated sea lamprey that integrates electronic components with living animal cells. The project team hopes to create a tiny swimming machine, just a millimetre in length, that can respond to environmental cues – navigating using ambient light and following the trail of a chemical compound through the water, for instance. The micro-robot, dubbed “Cyberplasm,” could then perform hazardous underwater tasks, such as looking for submerged mines, and explore worlds inaccessible to humans.

 

“The idea is to build a part biological, part machine robot,” says Daniel Frankel, a chemical engineer at Newcastle University and one of the lead scientists for the project. “We’re going to do that using genetic engineering – we’re changing the way the cells work so they can be read by electronics.” This ambitious project, which began in 2009 aims to build a swimming robot with cells that have been genetically engineered to act like eyes, cells that detect chemicals, and muscles that contract, says Frankel. “All of these components will eventually work together like an artificial organism.”

 

Frankel’s job is to design the light- and chemical-sensitive cells that will act as Cyberplasm’s “eyes” and “nose”. To engineer the eye sensors, Frankel started with a supply of Chinese hamster ovary cells, which are commonly used in biological and medical research. Then they modified these cells by inserting a gene that makes plants responsive to light. They linked this plant DNA with another gene – common in mammalian cells –which produces nitric oxide, a gas that acts as an important signaling molecule in the body. These genetic manipulations produced hamster cells that are light-responsive; whenever light hits the cells, they respond by producing a hit of nitric oxide.

 

Frankel is now using the same approach to build the robot’s chemical sensors, working with Christopher Voigt, a biological engineer at MIT, to engineer hamster cells that give off nitric oxide in the presence of certain chemical compounds.

The release of nitric oxide will allow the modified mammalian cells to communicate with Cyberplasm’s electronic “brain”. When the researchers assemble the final robot, they’ll implant a nitric-oxide-sensitive electrode near the genetically engineered cells. And whenever the electrode detects a nitric oxide plume, it will send a signal to a microprocessor, which will then coordinate the robot’s movement.

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How Bats Can Help Scientists Design Better Robots

How Bats Can Help Scientists Design Better Robots | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Bats are great at hunting down prey via echolocation, in which their ultrasonic chirps bounce off anything in the air. Specialized ear designs and other features detect the returning sounds, helping the bats determine the location of a moving target. But what about when the target is still?

 

Bats have been observed seeking out and catching inert insects hiding amid clutter, and finally scientists think they’ve figured out how the animals do it. The flapping motion of a bat moves the air sufficiently to ruffle the wings of their insect prey, and this trifling perturbation can be detected. Understanding the way bats do this could help improve biomimetic sensors, according to Roman Kuc, professor of electrical engineering at Yale University, and his colleague/son Victor Kuc.

 

The father-son team filmed a common big-eared bat, Micronycteris microtis, with a high-speed camera. The bat hovered over a completely still dragonfly sitting on a leaf, and was able to detect it and pick it up. Watching the playback in slow motion, the Kucs noticed the dragonfly’s wings move ever so slightly in the air current caused by the flapping bat. The dragonfly wings moved in sync with the bat wings. The Kucs then made a model of the induced wing movements and how they affected the returning echoes, according to Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

 

To do it, they took a real dragonfly, plastic leaves and a robotic sonar system to generate sound pulses. They used an airbrush to puff air at the dragonfly, simulating the beating bat wings. The resulting echo waveforms gave it away: The leaf didn’t really ruffle, but the dragonfly wings did. The Kucs say that bats can figure out the difference, and use it to detect the location of prey that is otherwise silent and totally still.

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The Impacts of Megacities on Air Pollution and World Climate

The Impacts of Megacities on Air Pollution and World Climate | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

As of 2008, for the first time, the majority of the world’s population is living in urban areas, many in megacities (with populations over 10 million). Megacities are not only the center of growing economies, but are also large sources of air pollutants and climate-forcing agents. Under this initiative an assessment has been written that for the first time summarizes the current knowledge around atmospheric chemistry in megacities in Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Europe. The assessment also summarizes past and current research projects on this topic such as MEGAPOLI, CityZen, ICARTT, CalNex, MILAGRO, CareBeijing, PRIDE-PRD, and IMPACT. Finally the report will identify knowledge gaps on atmospheric chemistry in megacities. IGAC plans to provide updates to this assessment every 4 to 5 years.

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The eyes and brain have it: Seeing ultraviolet and exploring more colors

The eyes and brain have it: Seeing ultraviolet and exploring more colors | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

One of the enduring commonalities across most human societies is the belief that our eyes are a window into the immutable truth of the universe. Eyewitnesses are accorded special status in trials, despite repeated studies demonstrating how fallible such on-the-scene reports can be. The idea that sight conveys reality is enshrined in everything from dusty myths and sacred texts to modern-day cop shows. As a result, it’s equal parts unsettling and interesting when we get a glimpse of how fluid our shared capability of vision can be.

 

Former Air Force Officer and engineer Alek Komar has spent a considerable amount of time detailing how his color vision changed following major cataract surgery. Cataracts are known to have a detrimental effect on color perception, but in Komar’s case, he didn’t just regain his old acuity: The Crystalens implant he received has given him the ability to see into the ultraviolet spectrum. While friends and family were initially skeptical of such claims, Komar secured the help of an HP engineer with access to a Monochromator; a device capable of projecting light in 10nm wavelength increments. Test results confirmed his perception. Anecdotal evidence indicates that he’s not the only Crystalens patient to see ultraviolet wavelengths following the procedure.

 

Cases like Alek Komar demonstrate that humans can perceive ultraviolet light and are evidence of both the brain’s plasticity and the fantastic complexity of color processing. Ultraviolet rays are normally blocked by the eye’s lens; they aren’t ignored by the retina or somehow filtered out by the brain.

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Sharks are color-blind and see the world as 50 shades of grey

Sharks are color-blind and see the world as 50 shades of grey | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Sharks are color blind, a new molecular study by Australian scientists has confirmed, filling a gap in our knowledge about the evolution of color vision. Previous studies looked at opsins, which are light-sensitive proteins found in the photoreceptor cells of the retina. Rod opsins are used in low light and produce a black and white image, while cone opsins are used in bright light, and often to see colors. Two or more different types of cone opsins are needed for color vision. While some ray species - close relatives of sharks - have multiple cone opsins as well as rods, studies in various shark species suggested they had only a single cone visual pigment.

 

To check whether this really was the case, Dr Susan Theiss, from the University of Queensland, and colleagues isolated the visual opsin genes from two wobbegong shark species: the spotted wobbegong Orectolobus maculatus and the ornate wobbegong O. ornatus. Their findings confirm that wobbegongs possess only one cone opsin, meaning they see the world in shades of grey.

 

It is known that the earliest vertebrates already had color vision, but it has been lost by some groups over the course of evolution. Today most fish have color vision, however, it has been lost in many large aquatic predators including sharks, whales, seals and dolphins. Sharks rely on different senses depending on distance, with vision being important when they are closing in on prey, navigating, avoiding predators and finding mates.

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Dyson sphere hunt using Kepler data - Looking for Kardashev Type II civilizations

Dyson sphere hunt using Kepler data - Looking for Kardashev Type II civilizations | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Freeman Dyson hypothesized the vast structures over fifty years ago that could ring or completely enclose their parent star. Such structures, the work of a Kardashev Type II civilization — one capable of drawing on the entire energy output of its star — would power the most power-hungry society and offer up reserves of energy that would support its continuing expansion into the cosmos, if it so chose.

 

Marcy’s plan is to look at a thousand Kepler systems for telltale evidence of such structures by examining changes in light levels around the parent star. Interestingly, the grant of $200,000 goes beyond the Dyson sphere search to look into possible laser traffic among extraterrestrial civilizations. Says Marcy: "Technological civilizations may communicate with their space probes located throughout the galaxy by using laser beams, either in visible light or infrared light. Laser light is detectable from other civilizations because the power is concentrated into a narrow beam and the light is all at one specific color or frequency. The lasers outshine the host star at the color of the laser."

 

The topic of Dyson spheres calls Richard Carrigan to mind. The retired Fermilab physicist has studied data from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) to identify objects that radiate waste heat in ways that imply a star completely enclosed by a Dyson sphere. This is unconventional SETI in that it presumes no beacons deliberately announcing themselves to the cosmos, but instead looks for signs of civilization that are the natural consequences of physics.

 

Carrigan has estimated that a star like the Sun, if enclosed with a shell at the radius of the Earth, would re-radiate its energies at approximately 300 Kelvin. Marcy will turn some of the thinking behind what Carrigan calls ‘cosmic archaeology’ toward stellar systems we now know to have planets, thanks to the work of Kepler. Ultimately, Carrigan’s ‘archaeology’ could extend to planetary atmospheres possibly marked by industrial activity, or perhaps forms of large-scale engineering other than Dyson spheres that may be acquired through astronomical surveys and remain waiting in our data to be discovered. All this reminds us once again how the model for SETI is changing.


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Bacterial survival strategies suggest rethinking of cancer cooperativity

Bacterial survival strategies suggest rethinking of cancer cooperativity | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Despite decades of a much improved understanding of cancer biology, we are still baffled by questions regarding the deadliest traits of malignancy: metastatic colonization, dormancy and relapse, and the rapid evolution of multiple drug and immune resistance. New ideas are needed to resolve these critical issues. Relying on finding and demonstrating parallels between collective behavior capabilities of cancer cells and that of bacteria, we suggest communal behaviors of bacteria as a valuable model system for new perspectives and research directions. Understanding the ways in which bacteria thrive in competitive habitats and their cooperative strategies for surviving extreme stress can shed light on cooperativity in tumorigenesis and portray tumors as societies of smart communicating cells. This may translate into progress in fathoming cancer pathogenesis. We outline new experiments to test the cancer cooperativity hypothesis and reason that cancer may be outsmarted through its own ‘social intelligence’.

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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Singularity-Pass (English)
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Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement

Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Wired.co.uk seeks to navigate the thorny ethical, medical and social issues associated with using technology to enhance the human body and mind through a series of features, galleries and guest posts.

 

http://www.wired.co.uk/topics/transhuman-week


Via Szabolcs Kósa, Yvan Marechal
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How far backwards in time is it possible to see?

How far backwards in time is it possible to see? | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

"The furthest back in time that we are currently actively seeing is

 

13,7 _ 0,15 billion years -- 379,000 years

 

The 13.7 billion years is the currently measured time to the Big Bang and 379,000 years is the number of years after the Big Bang when the universe cooled off enough to become transparent. The (mostly visible light) photons from the hot plasma that filled the universe at that time have been traveling since then and have now been red-shifted down into the microwave range. This is the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation that has been very accurately measured by the WMAP satellite.

 

We will not be able to see back further in time (to before 379,000 years after the Big Bang) with photons since the universe was opaque to photons before that time.

 

However, if we are ever able to use neutrino telescopes to measure very low energy neutrinos (which is probably impossible), then we would be able to see back to a few minutes after the Big Bang. Finally, it is also theoretically possible to see back to roughly seconds after the Big Bang if we could measure the possible gravitational waves that could have been generated at the end of the inflationary period of the Big Bang at that time."

 

See also:

 

If there was a mirror a million light years away and I looked at via telescope, how far back would I see in the past?


http://www.quora.com/If-there-was-a-mirror-a-million-light-years-away-and-I-looked-at-via-telescope-how-far-back-would-I-see-in-the-past


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