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Highest Resolution Image of Eta Carinae: raging winds in famous massive stellar system

Highest Resolution Image of Eta Carinae: raging winds in famous massive stellar system | natural sciences | Scoop.it

An international team of astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer to image the Eta Carinae star system in the greatest detail ever achieved. They found new and unexpected structures within the binary system, including in the area between the two stars where extremely high velocity stellar winds are colliding. These new insights into this enigmatic star system could lead to a better understanding of the evolution of very massive stars.

 

Led by Gerd Weigelt from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, a team of astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory to take a unique image of the Eta Carinaestar system in the Carina Nebula. This colossal binary system consists of two massive stars orbiting each other and is very active, producing stellar winds which travel at velocities of up to ten million kilometres per hour [1]. The zone between the two stars where the winds from each collide is very turbulent, but until now it could not be studied.

 

The power of the Eta Carinae binary pair creates dramatic phenomena. A “Great Eruption” in the system was observed by astronomers in the 1830s. We now know that this was caused by the larger star of the pair expelling huge amounts of gas and dust in a short amount of time, which led to the distinctive lobes, known as the Homunculus Nebula, that we see in the system today. The combined effect of the two stellar winds as they smash into each other at extreme speeds is to create temperatures of millions of degrees and intense deluges of X-ray radiation.

 

The central area where the winds collide is so comparatively tiny — a thousand times smaller than the Homunculus Nebula — that telescopes in space and on the ground so far have not been able to image them in detail. The team has now utilised the powerful resolving ability of the VLTI instrument AMBER to peer into this violent realm for the first time. A clever combination — an interferometer — of three of the four Auxiliary Telescopes at the VLT lead to a tenfold increase in resolving power in comparison to a single VLT Unit Telescope. This delivered the sharpest ever image of the system and yielded unexpected results about its internal structures.

 

The new VLTI image clearly depict the structure which exists between the two Eta Carinae-stars. An unexpected fan-shaped structure was observed where the raging wind from the smaller, hotter star crashes into the denser wind from the larger of the pair. “Our dreams came true, because we can now get extremely sharp images in the infrared. The VLTI provides us with a unique opportunity to improve our physical understanding of Eta Carinae and many other key objects”, says Gerd Weigelt.


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#education The #mystery of why you can't remember being a #baby #brain #neurology #science

#education The #mystery of why you can't remember being a #baby #brain #neurology #science | natural sciences | Scoop.it
Babies are sponges for new information – so why does it take so long for us to form your first memory? BBC Future investigates.
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A Map Of Where Your Food Originated May Surprise You

A Map Of Where Your Food Originated May Surprise You | natural sciences | Scoop.it
A new study reveals the full extent of globalization in our food supply. More than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originally came from somewhere else — often far away.
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Neil Bombardier's curator insight, July 18, 6:34 AM
Fascinating map of where your food comes from
Eric Larson's curator insight, July 22, 11:01 AM
Interesting maps. 
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How EVE Online's Project Discovery is remapping human biology

How EVE Online's Project Discovery is remapping human biology | natural sciences | Scoop.it

EVE Online isn't just a game about internet spaceships and sci-fi politics. Since March, developer CCP Games has been running Project Discovery – an initiative to help improve scientific understanding of the human body at the tiniest levels. Run in conjunction with the Human Protein Atlas and Massively Multiplayer Online Science, the project taps into EVE Online's greatest resource – its player base – to help categorise millions of proteins.

 

"We show them an image, and they can change the colour of it, putting green or red dyes on it to help them analyse it a little bit better," Linzi Campbell, game designer on Project Discovery, tells WIRED. "Then we also show them examples – cytoplasm is their favourite one! We show them what each of the different images should look like, and just get them to pick a few that they identify within the image. The identifications are scrambled each time, so it's not as simple as going 'ok, every time I just pick the one on the right' – they have to really think about it."

 

The analysis project is worked into EVE Online as a minigame, and works within the context of the game's lore. "We have this NPC organisation called the Drifters – they're like a mysterious entity in New Eden [EVE's interplanetary setting]," Campbell explains. "The players don't know an awful lot about the Drifters at the minute, so we disguised it within the universe as Drifter DNA that they were analysing. I think it just fit perfectly. We branded this as [research being done by] the Sisters of Eve, and they're analysing this Drifter DNA." 

 

The response has been tremendous. "We've had an amazing number of classifications, way over our greatest expectations," says Emma Lundberg, associate professor at the Human Protein Atlas. "Right now, after six weeks, we've had almost eight million classifications, and the players spent 16.2 million minutes playing the minigame. When we did the math, that translated – in Swedish measures – to 163 working years. It's crazy."

 

"We had a little guess, internally. We said if we get 40,000+ classifications a day, we're happy. If we get 100,000 per day, then we're amazed," Lundberg adds. "But when it peaked in the beginning, we had 900,000 classifications in one day. Now it's stabilised, but we're still getting around 200,000 a day, so everyone is mind-blown. We never expected it."


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If the World Began Again, Would Life as We Know It Exist?

If the World Began Again, Would Life as We Know It Exist? | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Experiments in evolution are exploring what would happen if we rewound the tape of life.

 

http://nautil.us/issue/34/adaptation/if-the-world-began-again-would-life-as-we-know-it-exist-rp


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SVS: Annual Arctic Sea Ice Minimum 1979-2015 with Area Graph

SVS: Annual Arctic Sea Ice Minimum 1979-2015 with Area Graph | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Satellite-based passive microwave images of the sea ice have provided a reliable tool for continuously monitoring changes in the Arctic ice since 1979. Every summer the Arctic ice cap melts down to what scientists call its "minimum" before colder weather begins to cause ice cover to increase. The ice parameters derived from satellite ice concentration data that are most relevant to climate change studies are sea ice extent and sea ice area. This graph displays the area of the minimum sea ice coverage each year from 1979 through 2015. In 2015, the Arctic minimum sea ice covered an area of 3.885 million square kilometers.

This visualization shows the expanse of the annual minimum Arctic sea ice for each year from 1979 through 2015 as derived from SSMI data. A semi-transparent graph overlay shows the area in million square kilometers for each year's minimum day. The date shown in the upper right corner indicates the current year being displayed.


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World record: First robot to solve a Rubik's Cube in under 1 second (0.887 s)

Prior to the world record attempt a WCA-conform modified speed cube was scrambled with a computer generated random array and positioned in the robot. Once the start button was hit two webcam shutters were moved away. Thereafter a laptop took two pictures, each picture showing three sides of the cube. Then the laptop identified all colors of the cube and calculated a solution with Tomas Rokicki's extremely fast implementation of Herbert Kociemba's Two-Phase-Algorithm. The solution was handed over to an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board that orchestrated the 20 moves of six high performance steppers. Only 887 milliseconds after the start button had been hit Sub1 broke a historic barrier and finished the last move in new world record time.

Needing several hundreds of working hours to construct, build, program and tune Sub1, it is the first robot that can independently inspect and solve a Rubik's Cube in under 1 second.

The world record has been approved by Guinness World Records on 18-Feb-2016.

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'Cannibalism' between stars

'Cannibalism' between stars | natural sciences | Scoop.it
Stars do not accumulate their final mass steadily, but in a series of violent events manifesting themselves as sharp stellar brightening. According to this theory of Eduard Vorobyov from the University of Vienna, stellar brightening can be caused by fragmentation due to gravitational instabilities in massive gaseous disks surrounding young stars, followed by migration of dense gaseous clumps onto the star.

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Mining social media can help improve disaster response efforts

Mining social media can help improve disaster response efforts | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Leveraging publicly available social media posts could help disaster response agencies quickly identify impacted areas in need of assistance, according to a Penn State-led team of researchers. By analyzing the September 2013 Colorado floods, researchers showed that a combination of remote sensing, Twitter and Flickr data could be used to identify flooded areas.


"FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the Red Cross and other response agencies use social media now to disseminate relevant information to the general public," said said Guido Cervone, associate professor of geography and associate director of the Penn State's Institute for CyberScience. "We have seen here that there is potential to use social media data from community members to help identify hotspots in need of aid, especially when it is paired with remote sensing imagery of the area."


After a disaster, response teams typically prioritize rescue and aid efforts with help from imagery and other data that show what regions are affected the most. Responders commonly use satellite imagery, but this on its own has drawbacks.


"Publicly available satellite imagery for a location isn't always available in a timely manner -- sometimes it can take days before it becomes available," said Elena Sava, graduate student in geography, Penn State. "Our research focused on identifying data in non-traditional data streams that can prove mission critical for specific areas where there might be damage. We wanted to see if social media could help filling the gaps in the satellite data."


The 2013 Colorado flooding was an unprecedented event. In nine days in September, Boulder, Colo., received more than 43 centimeters, or 17 inches of rain -- nearly the amount of rainfall it normally receives in a year. Officials evacuated more than 10,000 people and had to rescue several thousand people and pets.


Because the flooding occurred in an urban setting, the researchers were able to access more than 150,000 tweets from people affected by the flooding. Using a tool called CarbonScanner, they identified clusters of posts suggesting possible locations of damage. Then, they analyzed more than 22,000 photos from the area obtained through satellites, Twitter, Flickr, the Civil Air Patrol, unmanned aerial vehicles and other sources.


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Synthetic Biology for Dummies, Investors or Both.... - Forbes

Synthetic Biology for Dummies, Investors or Both.... - Forbes | natural sciences | Scoop.it
In response to the recent publication of “Hacking the President’s DNA,” I’ve been fielding a lot of general questions about synthetic biology. I thought I’d put together a little primer for my readers. For Those Who Like To Watch: For the quickest introduction to the science involved,  “Synthetic Biology Explained,” an excellent [...]

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Ceres has subsurface water, salt rich white spots, and was likely formed in outer Solar System

Ceres has subsurface water, salt rich white spots, and was likely formed in outer Solar System | natural sciences | Scoop.it

At a distance from the sun that is three times that of the Earth (2.8AU), the dwarf planet Ceres is the asteroid belt’s largest object, and the subject of two back-to-back studies published today in Nature.


Until now, efforts to elucidate the identity of minerals on the surface of Ceres were precluded by the inability to observe telluric absorption bands (which occur in the wavelength region 2.5-2.9 micrometers) using ground-based and orbital-telescopes.


In the first study, researchers from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali in Rome and colleagues acquired novel spectral data in the submicron range (0.4 to 5 micrometers) of the asteroid using the Visible-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer on the Dawn spacecraft, at distances between 4,300 and 82,000 kilometers from the surface of Ceres.


Previous ground-based spectra suggested that water ice, hydrated or NH4-bearing clays and brucite, as well as ammoniated mineral species, could account for Ceres’ 3.05-3.1 micrometer spectral band.


The best fit of Ceres’ spectrum, however, was obtained by supplementing magnetite, antigorite and carbonate with ammoniated phyllosilicates, inferring that this type of mineral indeed composed the Ceres’ surface. Additionally, researchers further postulates that ammonia may have incorporated into Ceres’ clays during its formation.


Since ammonia ice is only stable at very cold temperatures characteristic of the outer Solar System, this suggested that Ceres formed either outside of the Solar System, or that small objects were transported from that region and incorporated the main asteroid belt.


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First evidence of a generalized active network for cognitive brain functions found

First evidence of a generalized active network for cognitive brain functions found | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Norwegian researchers have recently found evidence of a generalized active network for cognitive functions of the brain.


“I experienced a kind of moment that may be more common for theoretical physicists: the idea that something just has to be there, even though you cannot see it,” says neuroscientist Kenneth Hugdahl from the Bergen fMRI Group in an interview with the University of Bergen’s newspaper På Høyden.


Initially Hugdahl thought that he was just misunderstanding. But during preparations for a lecture he sat with nine fMRI images in front of him, when he suddenly discovered that the active red and yellow regions in the brain-map appeared in almost the same places in all images. The neuroscientist had to ask himself: could it be possible that there was an existing fn the brain that overlapped between all cognitive functions


The article On the existence of a generalized non-specific task-dependent network was published in the online journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.


Although the idea has been mentioned before, no brain researchers previously have been able to empirically prove that there is a cognitive network “for everything”. The idea of something that works as some sort of wiring diagram for the brain is therefore quite revolutionary.


Traditionally, this kind of brain research has focused on looking at individual functions of problem solving in specific areas of the brain. Hugdahl and his colleagues' article could be the first step in a new direction, toward something that can become the neuroscientific version of the “theory of everything” – one single explanation for all active, cognitive functions.


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Samsung, LG Unveil Flexible Batteries That Could Revolutionise Wearables

Samsung, LG Unveil Flexible Batteries That Could Revolutionise Wearables | natural sciences | Scoop.it
Samsung, LG Unveil Flexible Batteries That Could Revolutionise Wearables

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‘Star Trek’ at 50: How a space saga inspired a generation of scientists, engineers and writers

‘Star Trek’ at 50: How a space saga inspired a generation of scientists, engineers and writers | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Fifty years after “Star Trek” made its debut, the science-fiction saga’s biggest legacy may well be its inspirational impact on millions of scientists and engineers, writers and fans over the decades.

Humanity hasn’t yet invented the starships and transporters that are commonplace in the TV shows and movies, but we do have plenty of people who are exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and laying plans to boldly go where no one has gone before.

We asked a variety of space-savvy luminaries to reflect on the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek,” which is being celebrated today at Seattle’s EMP Museum. Here are six of the responses:


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The Next Wearable Technology Could Be Your Skin

The Next Wearable Technology Could Be Your Skin | natural sciences | Scoop.it
Technology can be awkward. Our pockets are weighed down with ever-larger smartphones that are a pain to pull out when we’re in a rush. And... read more

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Anna Hu 's curator insight, June 30, 7:55 PM
How cool is this
Gust MEES's curator insight, July 1, 8:24 AM
Technology can be awkward. Our pockets are weighed down with ever-larger smartphones that are a pain to pull out when we’re in a rush. And... read more

 

Learn more / En savoir plus / Mehr erfahren:

 

http://www.scoop.it/t/21st-century-innovative-technologies-and-developments/?tag=wearables

 

 

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Electronic devices that melt in your brain

Electronic devices that melt in your brain | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Two implantable devices developed by American and Chinese researchers are designed to dissolve in the brain over time and may eliminate several current problems with implants.

 

University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed an electrode and an electrode array, both made of layers of silicon and molybdenum that can measure physiological characteristics (like neuron signals) and dissolve at a known rate (determined by the material’s thickness). The team used the device in anesthetized rats to record brain waves (EEGs) and induced epileptic spikes in intact live tissue.

 

In another experiment, they showed the dissolvable electronics could be used in a complex, multiplexed ECoG (intracranial electroencephalography) array over a 30-day period.

 

As the researchers note online in Nature Materials, this new technology offers equal or greater resolution for measuring the brain’s electrical activity, compared to conventional electrodes, while eliminating “the risks, cost, and discomfort associated with surgery to extract current devices used for post-operative monitoring,” according to senior co-author Brian Litt, MD, a professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Bioengineering at the Perelman School of Medicine.

 

Other potential uses of the dissolvable electronics include:

Disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, chronic pain, and conditions of the peripheral nervous system. “These measurements are critically important for mapping and monitoring brain function during and in preparation for neurosurgery, for assisting in device placement, such as for Parkinson’s disease, and for guiding surgical procedures on complex, interconnected nerve structures,” Litt said.Post-operative monitoring and recording of physiological characteristic after minimally invasive placement of vascular, cardiac, orthopaedic, neural or other devices. At present, post-operative monitoring is based on clinical examination or interventional radiology, which is invasive, expensive, and impractical for continuous monitoring over days to months.Heart and brain surgery for applications such as aneurysm coiling, stent placement, embolization, and endoscopic operations. These new devices could also monitor structures that are exposed during surgery, but are too delicate to disturb later by removing devices.More complex devices that also include flow, pressure, and other measurement capabilities.

 


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Ra's curator insight, May 15, 2:31 AM
Just to repeat...MELT in your BRAIN
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CDC confirms Zika virus causes microcephaly, other birth defects

CDC confirms Zika virus causes microcephaly, other birth defects | natural sciences | Scoop.it
This confirms what researchers have suspected with mounting evidence about harms caused by the virus.

 

Federal health officials confirmed Wednesday that the Zika virus causes a rare birth defect and other severe fetal abnormalities, marking a turning point in an epidemic that has spread to nearly 40 countries and territories in the Americas and elsewhere.

 

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a careful review of existing research and agreed that the evidence was conclusive, Director Thomas Frieden said. It is the first time a mosquito-borne virus has been linked to congenital brain defects.

 

"It is now clear, and CDC has concluded, that the virus causes microcephaly," Frieden said. CDC is launching more studies to determine whether children with that rare condition, which is characterized at birth by an abnormally small head, represent the "tip of the iceberg of what we could see in damaging effects on the brain and other developmental problems."


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Investors Europe Stock Brokers's curator insight, April 13, 10:24 PM

"It is now clear, and CDC has concluded, that the virus causes microcephaly," Frieden said. CDC is launching more studies to determine whether children with that rare condition, which is characterized at birth by an abnormally small head, represent the "tip of the iceberg of what we could see in damaging effects on the brain and other developmental problems."

Nicole Masureik's curator insight, April 14, 2:26 AM
We all thought as much, but how horrible to have it confirmed. My heart goes out to all those parents whose babies are affected, to the babies themselves, and to their extended families. What a tragedy for all concerned!
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Toshiba's Chihira Kanae robot is human-like and speaks 4 languages

Toshiba's Chihira Kanae robot is human-like and speaks 4 languages | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Toshiba has shown off the latest generation of its Chihira robot at a trade fair in Berlin.

 

The machine - which is designed to look as human-like as possible - has had the German language added to its repertoire. The firm also told the BBC that it upgraded the machine's control system to make its movements smoother. However, one expert suggested the realistic appearance might not be best suited to Western audiences.

 

Prof Noel Sharkey - a roboticist at the University of Sheffield - said he thought the machine still fell "clearly on this side of the uncanny valley". The term refers to the fact that many people feel increasingly uncomfortable the closer a robot gets to appearing like a human being, so long as the two remain distinguishable.

 

Toshiba brought the Chihira Kanae droid to the ITB travel expo to highlight what it hopes could become a viable product for the tourism industry. The machine has been installed at an information desk where it responds to attendees' verbal questions about the conference.

 

It marks the first appearance of the robot outside Japan, where it was unveiled last month.

 

The earlier models in the series are:

Chihira Aico, which made its debut at Japan's Ceatec tech show in 2014Chihira Junko, which was launched last October and is currently in use at a Tokyo shopping centre's information desk

 

"We have improved the software and the hardware to improve the air pressure system," explained Hitoshi Tokuda, chief specialist at Toshiba's research and development center. "If the air pressure is unstable, her movements become affected by vibrations. So, if the air flow is very precisely controlled, her movements are smoother."


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Il Museo Tattile tra i Piccoli Musei d'Italia - VareseNews

Il Museo Tattile tra i Piccoli Musei d'Italia - VareseNews | natural sciences | Scoop.it
E' entrato a fare parte dell'associazione piccoli musei, che sviluppa una rete di relazioni nazionali tra queste realtà piccole ma originali e dinamiche

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Absorbing acoustics with soundless spirals

Absorbing acoustics with soundless spirals | natural sciences | Scoop.it
Researchers at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, CNRS, and the University of Lorraine have recently developed a design for a coiled-up acoustic metasurface which can achieve total acoustic absorption in very low-frequency ranges.

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Largest rocky exoplanet found (half the size of Neptune)

Largest rocky exoplanet found (half the size of Neptune) | natural sciences | Scoop.it
A planet roughly half the size of Neptune might be 100 percent rock, making it the largest known rocky world.

 

When it comes to big balls of rock, exoplanet BD+20594b might have all other known worlds beat. At roughly half the diameter of Neptune, BD+20594b is 100 percent rock, researchers suggest online January 28 at arXiv.org. The planet seems to defy recent calculations that indicate a planet this large should be gassy (SN: 8/22/15, p. 32).


BD+20594b sits about 500 light-years away in the constellation Aries. The planet is about 16 times as massive as Earth but just a little over twice as wide, making its density about 8 grams per cubic centimeter, Néstor Espinoza, an astrophysicist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, and colleagues report. Earth’s density, by comparison, is 5.5 grams per cubic centimeter. The new rocky planet was discovered in 2015 with the Kepler space telescope, which looks for the silhouettes of planets passing in front of their stars.


BD+20594b is comparable to Kepler 10c, a rocky “mega Earth” reported in 2014 (SN: 7/12/14, p. 10) to be 2.4 times as wide as Earth with a hefty mass (equal to about 17 Earths). Recent measurements indicate, however, that Kepler 10c isn’t quite as “mega” or as rocky as thought — only 14 times as massive as Earth — which means that the planet is probably encased in shell of gas or water. 


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Challenger remembered | Spaceflight Now

Challenger remembered | Spaceflight Now | natural sciences | Scoop.it

 

Thirty years after the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated in the clear, cold sky high above Cape Canaveral, the commander’s widow no longer feels anger at NASA and the management missteps and schedule pressure that kept the orbiters flying despite a fatal flaw in their solid-fuel boosters.

She is at peace with history, her role in it, the heart-wrenching loss of her husband and his six crewmates and her connection with the countless people who will never forget America’s loss of innocence on the high frontier.


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Kepler Telescope Spotted Something Very Strange Surrounding A Distant Star

Kepler Telescope Spotted Something Very Strange Surrounding A Distant Star | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Since its first light in 2009, the Kepler Space Telescope has been scanning the cosmos in search of habitable worlds beyond our Solar System. During its routine observations, the telescope observed something very unusual.


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Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, October 14, 2015 11:28 PM
Could be debris of comets or... signs of an alien technology. Seriously.
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Global warming could suffocate life on Earth as oxygen levels fall as soon as 2100, study shows

Global warming could suffocate life on Earth as oxygen levels fall as soon as 2100, study shows | natural sciences | Scoop.it

Falling oxygen levels caused by global warming could be a greater threat to the survival of life on planet Earth than flooding, according to researchers from the University of Leicester published in Bulletin of Mathematical Biology.


A study led by Sergei Petrovskii, Professor in Applied Mathematics from the University of Leicester’s Department of Mathematics, has shown that an increase in the water temperature of the world’s oceans of around six degrees Celsius – which some scientists predict could occur as soon as 2100 – could stop oxygen production by phytoplankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.


“Global warming has been a focus of attention of science and politics for about two decades now,” Professor Petrovskii explained. “A lot has been said about its expected disastrous consequences; perhaps the most notorious is the global flooding that may result from melting of Antarctic ice if the warming exceeds a few degrees compared to the pre-industrial level. However, it now appears that this is probably not the biggest danger that the warming can cause to the humanity.”


“About two-thirds of the planet’s total atmospheric oxygen is produced by ocean phytoplankton – and therefore cessation would result in the depletion of atmospheric oxygen on a global scale,” he added. “This would likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.”

The team developed a new model of oxygen production in the ocean that takes into account basic interactions in the plankton community, such as oxygen production in photosynthesis, oxygen consumption because of plankton breathing and zooplankton feeding on phytoplankton.


While mainstream research often focuses on the CO2 cycle, as carbon dioxide is the agent mainly responsible for global warming, few researchers have explored the effects of global warming on oxygen production.


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Leonardo Wild's curator insight, December 2, 2015 8:20 AM

And "they" continue to use the wrong terminology—very anthropocentric, very short-sighted—regarding "global warming" as a statistics that shows the "Global" but hides the Essentials—like a bikini. What we are facing is not a statistical increase in "median average temperature" but the effects of extreme weather as the complex climate system swings wider and wider. This is Climate Change, not "global warming." But thus the misnomer continues, and those who oppose it have all the right to say: "Global Warming? Really?" It is the extremes that will cause the destruction, not the "average" as a "triangulation" based on a single point of reference.

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Biomedical imaging at one-thousandth the cost

Biomedical imaging at one-thousandth the cost | natural sciences | Scoop.it
Mathematical modeling enables $100 depth sensor to approximate the measurements of a $100,000 piece of lab equipment.


The system uses a technique called fluorescence lifetime imaging, which has applications in DNA sequencing and cancer diagnosis, among other things. So the new work could have implications for both biological research and clinical practice.


“The theme of our work is to take the electronic and optical precision of this big expensive microscope and replace it with sophistication in mathematical modeling,” says Ayush Bhandari, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab and one of the system’s developers. “We show that you can use something in consumer imaging, like the Microsoft Kinect, to do bioimaging in much the same way that the microscope is doing.”


The MIT researchers reported the new work in the Nov. 20 issue of the journal Optica. Bhandari is the first author on the paper, and he’s joined by associate professor of media arts and sciences Ramesh Raskar and Christopher Barsi, a former research scientist in Raskar’s group who now teaches physics at the Commonwealth School in Boston.


Fluorescence lifetime imaging, as its name implies, depends on fluorescence, or the tendency of materials known as fluorophores to absorb light and then re-emit it a short time later. For a given fluorophore, interactions with other chemicals will shorten the interval between the absorption and emission of light in a predictable way. Measuring that interval — the “lifetime” of the fluorescence — in a biological sample treated with a fluorescent dye can reveal information about the sample’s chemical composition.


In traditional fluorescence lifetime imaging, the imaging system emits a burst of light, much of which is absorbed by the sample, and then measures how long it takes for returning light particles, or photons, to strike an array of detectors. To make the measurement as precise as possible, the light bursts are extremely short.


The fluorescence lifetimes pertinent to biomedical imaging are in the nanosecond range. So traditional fluorescence lifetime imaging uses light bursts that last just picoseconds, or thousandths of nanoseconds.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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