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Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven - it's a fairy story'

Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven - it's a fairy story' | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story” for people afraid of death, Stephen Hawking (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/hawking) has said. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he said.  In a lecture at the Google Zeitgeist meeting he addressed the question: “Why are we here?” He argued that tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged. “Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in,” he said.

http://tinyurl.com/45x2bnp

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High-resolution design of nanoscale biomolecules

High-resolution design of nanoscale biomolecules | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A key element of both biotechnology and nanotechnology is – perhaps unsurprisingly – computational modeling. Frequently, in silico nanostructure design and simulation precedes actual experimentation. Moreover, the ability to use modeling to predict biomolecular structure lays the foundation for the subsequent design of biomolecules. Historically, the problem has been that most modeling software presents a tradeoff between being general purpose (in being able to model systems at high/atomic resolution) but limited in scope (i.e., only explores a small fraction conformational space around the initial structure). Recently, however, Stanford University scientists have developed an algorithm – implemented in a modeling program known as MOSAICS (Methodologies for Optimization and SAmpling In Computational Studies) – that achieves nanoscale modeling at the resolution required without being limited by the scope/size dilemma. In addition, the researchers successfully modeled – and benchmarked the new computation modeling technique with – RNA-based nanostructures.

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Quantum optics may remove the uncertainty about quantum gravity

Quantum optics may remove the uncertainty about quantum gravity | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Werner Heisenberg, one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics. His famous uncertainty principle may require modification under quantum gravity. While both quantum physics—in the form of the Standard Model of particles and interactions—and gravitation—formulated in general relativity—are hugely successful theories, making them work together hasn't, well, worked out. Currently, there's no complete, reliable quantum theory of gravity, though there are many candidates, including superstring theory. In most of these schemes, quantum behavior extends to spacetime itself, setting a fundamental length at which gravitation modifies quantum theory. This fundamental scale, known as the Planck length, is beyond the reach of foreseeable experiments.

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The Pirate Bay fights Hollywood with hovering server drones

The Pirate Bay fights Hollywood with hovering server drones | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

The Pirate Bay (TPB), which allows users to share media files via BitTorrent, plans to avoid shutdown by Hollywood by putting some of its servers in GPS controlled drones hovering over international waters, the TPB team told TorrentFreak.

 

“With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we’re going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air,” TPB revealed in a blog post.

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An unsuspected way how protons can move among molecules

An unsuspected way how protons can move among molecules | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Berkeley Lab scientists and their colleagues have discovered an unsuspected way that protons can move among molecules.

 

When a proton – the bare nucleus of a hydrogen atom – transfers from one molecule to another, or moves within a molecule, the result is a hydrogen bond, in which the proton and another atom like nitrogen or oxygen share electrons.

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Science Physicists 'design' electrons with unusual properties

Science Physicists 'design' electrons with unusual properties | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers from Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have created the first-ever system of "designer electrons" -- exotic variants of ordinary electrons with tunable properties that may ultimately lead to new types of materials and devices. The handcrafted, honeycomb-shaped structures were inspired by graphene, a pure form of carbon widely heralded for its potential in future electronics.

http://tinyurl.com/722ahhr

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Reusable Sticky Tape Could Hold Up Your TV

Reusable Sticky Tape Could Hold Up Your TV | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Large patches of an extremely strong new adhesive, inspired by geckos, can be used over and over again. For years scientists have tried to make strong, reusable adhesives by mimicking the microscopic hair-like structures on gecko toes that give the lizard its climbing ability. But those structures are hard to make, limiting the adhesives' size to a few centimeters. Now researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have come up with a different gecko-inspired structure that works even better. They have created a reusable adhesive fabric that can be easily and cheaply made tens of centimeters wide and is three times stronger than gecko feet.

http://tinyurl.com/7dak2q4

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Key recombination gene in higher mammals - PRDM9

Key recombination gene in higher mammals - PRDM9 | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

PRDM9 has evolved exceptionally rapidly between humans and chimpanzees and this rapid evolution explains a second, previously published, finding of the researchers: recombination hotspots also differ between humans and chimpanzees. Remarkably, PRDM9 is involved not just in determining mouse hotspot locations, but is also a key player in mouse speciation.

http://tinyurl.com/6vqmq3o

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Resurrecting extinct proteins shows how a biological nanomachine evolves

Resurrecting extinct proteins shows how a biological nanomachine evolves | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

By bringing long-dead proteins back to life, researchers have worked out the process by which evolution added a component to a cellular machine. Cells rely on “machines” made of multiple different protein components to carry out many vital functions in the cell, and molecular and evolutionary biologists have puzzled about how they evolved.

 

Joe Thornton at the University of Oregon in Eugene and his team chose to study a particular machine called the V-ATPase proton pump, which channels protons across membranes and is vital for keeping cell compartments at the right acidity. They first scoured databases and pulled out 139 genetic sequences that encode the ring’s component proteins in a range of eukaryotic organisms. They then used computational methods to work backwards and find the most likely sequences of these proteins hundreds of millions of years ago, at key branching points on the evolutionary tree: just before and just after the ring increased in complexity. The team synthesized DNA that encoded these “ancestral” proteins and put it into yeast, which had had parts of its own proton pump deleted. The technique allowed Thornton’s team to test in yeast whether various combinations of ancestral proteins produced a working, proton-pumping machine.

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Jawless vertebrate had world's sharpest teeth

Jawless vertebrate had world's sharpest teeth | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
An extinct primitive marine vertebrate had the sharpest dental structures ever known — with tips just one-twentieth of the width of a human hair, but able to apply pressures that could compete easily with those from human jaws.

 

The razor-sharp teeth belonged to conodonts, jawless vertebrates that evolved some 500 million years ago in the Precambrian eon and went extinct during the Triassic period, around 200 million years ago. The creatures roamed the planet for longer than any other vertebrate so far–– and despite their lack of jaws, they were the first creatures to evolve teeth.

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Pediatric Cancer Genome Project

Pediatric Cancer Genome Project | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Identifying Cancer Mutations - Determining the underlying cause of disease is a daunting task. In a 1994 Time magazine interview, Francis Collins, now director of the National Institutes of Health, said that locating a gene from scratch was like "trying to find a burned-out light bulb in a house located somewhere between the East and West coasts without knowing the state, much less the town or street the house is on." With its 3 billion base pairs distributed over 23 paired chromosomes, the human genome is an epic map to navigate. Nevertheless, an international effort to map the human genome at the individual DNA base pair level—the Human Genome Project—was initiated in 1990. The effort cost more than $2.7 billion, involved 20 research institutes and culminated in 2003 with the publication of the completed DNA sequence of the human genome.

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Genomes offer clues to treating childhood cancers

Genomes offer clues to treating childhood cancers | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital sequenced cancer genomes to learn more about retinoblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer of the eye.

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Artificial Cell Organelle on a Chip

Artificial Cell Organelle on a Chip | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

A newly developed microfluidics chip can replicate the activity of one of the eukaryotic cell's most important, yet least understood, organelles--the Golgi apparatus. Researchers hope that it can help them understand how to create synthetic versions of important drugs such as heparin.

http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/23122/

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Searching For Amyloid Interactions in Alzheimer's disease patients

Searching For Amyloid Interactions in Alzheimer's disease patients | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers have undertaken a large-scale investigation into the molecular environment of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), a protein centrally associated with Alzheimer's disease. Using this technique, researchers identified over 30 new, potentially interacting proteins. They also mapped the interactions of two proteins related to APP that are not known to cause disease, to sense which interactions the three related proteins had in common and which were APP-specific; interestingly the majority of the potential binding partners were specific to APP.

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Exotic new matter expected in ultracold atoms

Exotic new matter expected in ultracold atoms | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Just as NASA engineers test new rocket designs in computer studies before committing themselves to full prototypes, so physicists will often model matter under various circumstances to see whether something new appears. This is especially true of atomtronics, a relatively new science devoted to creating artificial tailored materials consisting of neutral atoms held in an array with laser beams, or atoms moving along a desired track under electric or magnetic influence. A new study shows how a simple "joystick" consisting of an adjustable magnetic field can create several new phases of atomtronic matter, several of them never seen before.

http://tinyurl.com/7sfp3g4

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Human genetics: Genomes on prescription

Human genetics: Genomes on prescription | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Many researchers say that genome sequencing could be used in diagnosis and therapy of cancer more easily than in rare diseases. Clinicians are already doing sophisticated analyses of some tumours in order to tailor therapies to the patient's genetic characteristics; a genome sequence provides even more molecular detail. For example, an individual's cancer genome sometimes reveals defects in a pathway that might point to use of a known drug, but were not apparent from standard tests.

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Bone-marrow transplant reverses Rett syndrome in mice

Bone-marrow transplant reverses Rett syndrome in mice | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
A bone-marrow transplant can treat a mouse version of Rett syndrome, a severe autism spectrum disorder that affects roughly 1 in 10,000–20,000 girls born worldwide (boys with the disease typically die within a few weeks of birth).

 

The findings suggest that brain-dwelling immune cells called microglia are defective in Rett syndrome and also raise the possibility that bone-marrow transplants or other means of boosting the brain’s immune cells could help to treat the disease.

http://tinyurl.com/6v8bvm5

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Visible Only From Above, Mystifying 'Nazca Lines' Discovered in Middle East

Visible Only From Above, Mystifying 'Nazca Lines' Discovered in Middle East | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
They stretch from Syria to Saudi Arabia, can be seen from the air but not the ground, and are virtually unknown to the public.

 

They are the Middle East's own version of the Nazca Lines — ancient "geoglyphs," or drawings, that span deserts in southern Peru — and now, thanks to new satellite-mapping technologies, and an aerial photography program in Jordan, researchers are discovering more of them than ever before. They number well into the thousands.

http://tinyurl.com/672wm24

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Genome Features and Adaptations of a Drosophila Line Reared for 57 Years in the Dark

Genome Features and Adaptations of a Drosophila Line Reared for 57 Years in the Dark | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Organisms are remarkably adapted to diverse environments by specialized metabolisms, morphology, or behaviors. To address the molecular mechanisms underlying environmental adaptation, a Drosophila melanogaster line, termed “Dark-fly” has been maintained in constant dark conditions for 57 years (1400 generations). Dark-fly exhibited higher fecundity in dark than in light conditions, indicating that Dark-fly possesses some traits advantageous in darkness. Using next-generation sequencing technology, the whole genome sequence of Dark-fly was obtained and approximately 220,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 4,700 insertions or deletions (InDels) were unique for the Dark-fly genome compared to the genome of the Oregon-R-S strain, a control strain. 1.8% of SNPs were classified as non-synonymous SNPs (nsSNPs: i.e., they alter the amino acid sequence of gene products). Among them, we detected 28 nonsense mutations (i.e., they produce a stop codon in the protein sequence) in the Dark-fly genome.

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Researchers discover way to create true-color 3-D holograms

Researchers discover way to create true-color 3-D holograms | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Researchers at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute (Japan) have developed a unique way to create full-color holograms with the aid of surface plasmons. The major difference between the researchers’ technique and ordinary holography is the use of a prism to adjust the light beam’s angle of incidence in combination with a thin silver film to produce the surface plasmons. When the angle of incidence is controlled appropriately, the silver film is excited to produce surface plasmons, which in turn cause the white light to reach the hologram in the three primary colors of red, green and blue, producing a floating full-color stereoscopic image. Although only still images can be obtained at present, Kawata is planning to improve the current system to enable movie imaging based on the same principle in the future.

http://tinyurl.com/7m2ookf

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Harvard Researchers Develop Magnetic Yeast

Harvard Researchers Develop Magnetic Yeast | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Butterflies, birds and bees are some of the only magnetically-aware organisms in the world. That was, until researchers from the Wyss Institute and Harvard Medical School put a twist on yeast and made it magnetic. Yes — magnetic yeast, and their findings suggest that magnetism could be induced in a variety of cells, allowing them to potentially communicate with machines.

http://tinyurl.com/7xcurca

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European ‘superbus’ aims to hit 155 MPH on the track

European ‘superbus’ aims to hit 155 MPH on the track | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
European scientists hope to have their 155 miles-per-hour, 50-foot-long Superbus concept implemented by 2015 in the Netherlands.

http://www.superbusproject.com

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Straintronics: Engineers create piezoelectric graphene

Straintronics: Engineers create piezoelectric graphene | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
By depositing atoms on one side of a grid of the "miracle material" graphene, researchers ave engineered piezoelectricity into a nanoscale material for the first time. The implications could yield dramatic degree of control in nanotechnology.

http://tinyurl.com/7u6zrsm

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Brains of killer honeybees investigated

Brains of killer honeybees investigated | Amazing Science | Scoop.it

Japanese scientists have now measuree the brain activity of honeybees as they form a killer swarm around their worst enemy, the giant hornet. The Japanese honeybees' response to a hive-invading giant hornet is efficient and dramatic; they form a "bee ball" around it, serving to cook and asphyxiate it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/17381710

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Computing with soup

Computing with soup | Amazing Science | Scoop.it
EVER since the advent of the integrated circuit in the 1960s, computing has been synonymous with chips of solid silicon.

http://www.economist.com/node/21548488

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