Relativity and Quantum Mechanics can together be called New Mechanics and its also called Modern Physics. But in this nomenclature the unprepared can mix it with the definition given in the true se...
This is a very detailed long article but in very simple language describing such concepts as the basis of expectations of "Quantization of Gravity with other forces" which is colloquially known as Einstein's dream of GUT (Grand Unified Theory) and whether such is possible or not and what we may be missing. This also describes briefly Pseudo Forces and in detail the basis of Physics Formalism and what are waves and particle from a Formal POV of Physics. (slightly but much can be based and expanded on such) This is one of the most well written article by me (Manmohan Dash) as I think.
New research indicates that leaf growth may not be as complicated as it seems. When compared species to species, shorter trees exhibit a greater variety of leaf sizes than taller ones, with the tallest trees all having leaves that measure 10 to 20 centimeters in length.
The scientists published their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters⊃1;. The narrow size range may be simply explained in the inner workings of trees. If this is correct, this could also explain why the tallest trees can only attain about 100 meters.
The team only considered angiosperms like maples and oaks, not gymnosperms, like pines and redwoods. They reviewed data for 1925 species and found that among angiosperms shorter than 30 meters, leaf length varies enormously, from 3 cm all the way up to 60 cm. The range narrows as the trees become taller.
The flow of sap and energy throughout the tree is what explains this. A leaf of an angiosperm produces a sugary sap that flows into a network of cells called the phloem, which transports the sap down to the tree’s trunk and through the roots. While it’s in transit, the tree metabolizes the sugar. The flow is driven by the difference in concentration in the sugars, which generates osmotic pressure.
The scientists modeled a tree as a pair of cylindrical tubes. A short, permeable tube, which represented the phloem in the leaf, was attached to a long, impermeable tube, the phloem in the trunk. Sap diffuses into the leave phloem and travels down into the trunk phloem. The longer the permeable leaf tube is, the more the surface area it has, so the more easily sap can enter. In the trunk phloem, the longer the tube is, the more resistance it offers to flow.
The scientists then considered how the total flow of sap and energy varies with leaf length. If the leaves are big, the resistance from the trunk limits the flow and making the leaves bigger than a certain maximum length yields no additional flow or benefit. On the other hand, if the leaves are very small, their resistance limits the flow. And if the leaf is shorter than a certain minimum length, the sap would flow through the phloem more slowly than it could diffuse through the entire tree.
Trees taller than 100 meters simply could not produce leaves that obey both length limits, setting a limit for tree height. Other scientists think that the uniformity of leaf size amongst the tallest trees could come from the comparable environments and conditions that produce them.
One way to test how the flow speed varies with the height of a tree and the length of its leaves would be to directly measure it in different species of tall trees, but that might require taking an MRI machine into a rain forest canopy.
why some trees are so tall while others are short? well their leaves size will be affected as well deoending on their heights. Its like very tall men will have proportionate to their height smaller fingers. But shorter men and women will grow fingers in many differet ratio to their height. You lose certain privilege if you are tall.
It is possible to tell who a person is thinking about by analyzing images of his or her brain. Our mental models of people produce unique patterns of brain activation, which can be detected using advanced imaging techniques according to a study by Cornell University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues.
"When we looked at our data, we were shocked that we could successfully decode who our participants were thinking about based on their brain activity," said Spreng, assistant professor of human development in Cornell's College of Human Ecology.
Understanding and predicting the behavior of others is a key to successfully navigating the social world, yet little is known about how the brain actually models the enduring personality traits that may drive others' behavior, the authors say. Such ability allows us to anticipate how someone will act in a situation that may not have happened before.
To learn more, the researchers asked 19 young adults to learn about the personalities of four people who differed on key personality traits. Participants were given different scenarios (i.e. sitting on a bus when an elderly person gets on and there are no seats) and asked to imagine how a specified person would respond. During the task, their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow.
They found that different patterns of brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) were associated with each of the four different personalities. In other words, which person was being imagined could be accurately identified based solely on the brain activation pattern.
The results suggest that the brain codes the personality traits of others in distinct brain regions and this information is integrated in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) to produce an overall personality model used to plan social interactions, the authors say.
"Prior research has implicated the anterior mPFC in social cognition disorders such as autism and our results suggest people with such disorders may have an inability to build accurate personality models," said Spreng. "If further research bears this out, we may ultimately be able to identify specific brain activation biomarkers not only for diagnosing such diseases, but for monitoring the effects of interventions."
The world's oldest meteorite crater —a giant impact zone more than 62 miles wide — has been found in Greenland, scientists say.
Scientists think it was formed 3 billion years ago by a meteorite 19 miles (30 kilometer) wide — which, if it hit Earth today, would wipe out all higher life. The crater is so wide that it would reach the edge of space 62 miles (100 km) above Earth if stood on end.
The crater was "discovered" at an office in Copenhagen by scientist Adam Garde as he pored over maps showing nickel and platinum abundance in the target region of West Greenland. Garde, a senior research scientist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, saw a both simple and extreme explanation for several strange geological features in this region: an impact from a meteorite that may have contained valuable metals.
Want to wirelessly upload hundreds of movies to a mobile device in a few seconds? Researchers at Georgia Tech have drawn up blueprints for a wireless antenna made from atom-thin sheets of carbon, or graphene, that could allow terabit-per-second transfer speeds at short ranges.
“It’s a gigantic volume of bandwidth. Nowadays, if you try to copy everything from one computer to another wirelessly, it takes hours. If you have this, you can do everything in one second—boom,” says Ian Akyildiz, director of the broadband wireless networking laboratory at Georgia Tech.
A terabit per second could be done at a range of about one meter using a graphene antenna, which would make it possible to obtain 10 high-definition movies by waving your phone past another device for one second. Akyildiz and colleagues have also calculated that at even shorter ranges, such as a few centimeters, data rates of up to 100 terabits per second are theoretically possible.
Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick, in a honeycomb structure, and it has many desirable electronic properties. Electrons move through graphene with virtually no resistance—50 to 500 times faster than they do in silicon. To make an antenna, the group says, graphene could be shaped into narrow strips of between 10 and 100 nanometers wide and one micrometer long, allowing it to transmit and receive at the terahertz frequency, which roughly corresponds to those size scales. Electromagnetic waves in the terahertz frequency would then interact with plasmonic waves—oscillations of electrons at the surface of the graphene strip—to send and receive information.
“This points out and provides a set of classical calculations on estimates of sizes and performance: it points out that there is something worthwhile here,” says Phaedon Avouris, an IBM fellow who leads graphene and other nanometer-scale technology at IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York. “It doesn’t solve the whole problem, but points out an opportunity.”
As well as facilitating high-speed communication between devices, graphene antennas could enable faster wireless connections between nanoscale components on chips. “Antennas made of graphene can be made much smaller in all dimensions than a metal wire antenna. It can be made to be on the order of a micrometer or a few nanometers,” Avouris says. “The significance is that the antenna can be incorporated in a very small object.”
Of course, myriad challenges lie ahead. Antennas don’t work alone; they rely on many other components—such as signal generators and detectors, amplifiers, and filters—all of which would have to be fabricated at similar scales and with similar speeds in order to make a complete device.
Researchers also need to work out how to do the manufacturing. Working with the material is extremely tricky, because its properties change when it comes in contact with other materials.
However, the Georgia Tech group hopes to make a prototype of an antenna within a year, Akyildiz added, and other components after that.
The 2013 Academy Awards were, as always, as much about making appearances as about making films, as red carpet watchers noted fashion trends and faux pas. Both Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts wore Armani, although fortunately not the same dress. And Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway switched from Valentino to a controversial pale pink Prada at the last minute because her original dress looked too much like someone else's. Of course, no actress would be caught dead wearing the same style 2 years in a row. A new study of ancient beaded jewelry from a South African cave finds that ancient humans were no different, avoiding outdated styles as early as 75,000 years ago.
Personal ornaments, often in the form of beads worn as necklaces or bracelets, are considered by archaeologists as a key sign of sophisticated symbolic behavior, communicating either membership in a group or individual identity. Such ornaments are ubiquitous in so-called Upper Paleolithic sites in Europe beginning about 40,000 years ago, where they were made from many different materials—animal and human teeth, bone and ivory, stone, and mollusk shells—and often varied widely among regions and sites.
Even more ancient personal ornaments go back to at least 100,000 years ago in Africa and the Near East. But this earlier jewelry seems less variable and was nearly always made from mollusk shells. So some archaeologists have questioned whether these earlier ornaments played the same symbolic roles as the later ones, or even whether they were made by humans at all.
In a new study in press at the Journal of Human Evolution, a team led by archaeologist Marian Vanhaeren of the University of Bordeaux in France claims to have found evidence of a relatively sudden shift in the way that shell beads were strung. The beads were found at Blombos Cave in South Africa in archaeological layers dated between 75,000 and 72,000 years ago, during a time period marked by four distinct layers of artifacts called the Still Bay tradition. This tradition includes bone awls and sophisticated stone spear points and knives, as well as beads from jewelry: sixty-eight specimens of the southern African tick shell, Nassarius kraussianus, most found clustered together and thought to be part of individual necklaces or bracelets. All the shells are perforated with a single hole, and the team's microscopic studies—as well as experiments with shells of the same species collected near the site—have suggested that they were punctured with a finely tipped bone point.
How much would you like to see humanity travel back to the moon? Or for that matter, how much would you like to stand amongst the craters of Lacus Somnorium yourself and look up to see your home planet above you, a shining blue marble in the darkness? Since Apollo 17 left the Moon in 1972, no humans have traveled further than a few hundred kilometers from Earth’s surface, but an ambitious space travel company has plans to put humans back on the moon — and they’ll take anyone who can afford the asking price.
The Golden Spike Company, formally announced in December last year, are aiming to provide a means to do exactly that. Riding the wave of enthusiasm for private space flight, they intend to provide reliable transport to the surface of the moon. However, with the cost of the tickets currently expected to be the princely sum of $1.5 billion for a two person mission, their customers are more likely to be governments than wealthy tourists.
Named after the ceremonial “last spike” driven into the first continental railroad to be built in the US, Golden Spike’s intention is, quoting from their website, to “transform human space exploration by putting in place affordably priced lunar orbital and surface expeditions to the only natural satellite of the Earth — the moon,” in much the same way the railroad enabled people to travel across North America in the 19th century. The expected cost of a two person lunar mission for $1.5 billion, while clearly astronomical for private travelers, is an attractive price for government space programs across the world.
Researchers at the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute have found that amlexanox, an off-patent drug currently prescribed for the treatment of asthma and other uses, also reverses obesity, diabetes and fatty liver in mice.
The findings from the lab of Alan Saltiel, the Mary Sue Coleman director of the Life Sciences Institute, are scheduled to be published online Feb. 10, 2013 in the journal Nature Medicine.
"One of the reasons that diets are so ineffective in producing weight loss for some people is that their bodies adjust to the reduced calories by also reducing their metabolism, so that they are 'defending' their body weight," Saltiel said. "Amlexanox seems to tweak the metabolic response to excessive calorie storage in mice."
Different formulations of amlexanox are currently prescribed to treat asthma in Japan and canker sores in the United States. Saltiel is teaming up with clinical-trial specialists at U-M to test whether amlexanox will be useful for treating obesity and diabetes in humans. He is also working with medicinal chemists at U-M to develop a new compound based on the drug that optimizes its formula.
Amlexanox (trade name Aphthasol) is a medication with antiallergic and anti-inflammatory effects used in the treatment of aphthous ulcers (canker sores). Amlexanox is also available in Japan as oral tablets (trade name Solfa) for treatment of bronchial asthma, where it has been marketed by the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company since 1987, though Aphthtab by Egyptian Eva pharma also exist. In India it is available as Lexanox by Macleods Pharmaceuticals Ltd. In Bangladesh it is marketed by Square Pharmaceuticals as Apsol.
With controversy swirling over gun-sale background checks, limiting the size of weapon magazines and retaining Second Amendment rights, the problem of making homemade guns with 3-D printers has become a matter of public concern.
Laws mean little if a determined criminal or a hobbyist teen wants to make plastic guns or extra-high capacity magazines, says Hod Lipson, Cornell University professor of engineering and a pioneer in 3-D printing.
"With a homemade 3-D printer, you can print a gun using ABS plastic, the same material that LEGOS are made out of. You can even use nylon, and that's pretty tough," he says. "You won't be able to make a sniper rifle with a 3-D printer and it won't shoot 10 rounds a second, but the gun you can make could be dangerous. And a high-capacity magazine is nothing more than a strong plastic box with a spring. It's trivial to print."
Lipson and co-author Melba Kurman just published a new book, "Fabricated: The promise and peril of a machine that can make (almost) anything." (Wiley, 2013.) The book includes a chapter on "3-D printing and the law," which addresses the legal and ethical challenges raised by 3-D printed firearms. The book also explores 3-D printing's impact on consumer safety, intellectual property, and ethics.
As Lipson and Kurman detail, three-dimensional printers are intended to do the world good. In industry, 3-D printers can make hard-to-find spare parts and complex new devices. Researchers are developing techniques to 3-D print tailored and personalized body parts like he
Birds depend on their color vision for selecting mates, hunting or foraging for food, and spotting predators. Until recently, ultraviolet vision was thought to have arisen as a one-time development in birds. But a new DNA analysis of 40 bird species shows the shift between violet (shorter wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum) and ultraviolet vision has occurred at least 14 times.
"Birds see color in a different way from humans," study co-author Anders Ödeen, an animal ecologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, told LiveScience. Human eyes have three different color receptors, or cones, that are sensitive to light of different wavelengths and mix together to reveal all the colors we see. Birds, by contrast, have four cones, so "they see potentially more colors than humans do," Ödeen said.
Birds themselves are split into two groups based on the color of light (wavelength) that their cones detect most acutely. Scientists define them as violet-sensitive or ultraviolet-sensitive, and the two groups don't overlap, according to Ödeen. Birds of each group would see the same objects as different hues.
The study researchers sequenced the DNA from the 40 species of birds, from the cockatiel to the whitebearded manakin. They extracted DNA from the bases of feather quills, blood, muscle or other tissue. From that DNA, the scientists reconstructed the proteins that make up the light-sensitive pigments in the birds' eyes. Differences in the DNA revealed which birds were sensitive to violet light versus ultraviolet.
"That change is very simple, apparently," Ödeen said. "It just takes a single mutation" in the DNA sequence. While that change may seem insignificant, it can be compared to the difference humans see between red and green. Why the bird lineages switched their color sensitivity — essentially species of a certain branch on the family tree evolved to have the reverse type of vision — is still something of a mystery. The ability to attract mates while still evading predators could be one reason. Ultraviolet light might also provide higher contrast that makes finding food easier. Other factors are environmental — open spaces have more UV light than do forests, for example. Ultimately, the color sensitivity may be a result of other changes that affect the amount of ultraviolet light the birds' eyes receive.
A large number of Wikipedia articles are geocoded. This means that when an article pertains to a location, its latitude and longitude are linked to the article. As you can imagine, this can be useful to generate insightful and eye-catching infographics.
A while ago, a team at Oxford built this magnificent tool to illustrate the language boundaries in Wikipedia articles. This led me to wonder if it would be possible to extract the different topics in Wikipedia.
This is exactly what I managed to do in the past few days. I downloaded all of Wikipedia, extracted 300 different topics using a powerful clustering algorithm, projected all the geocoded articles on a map and highlighted the different clusters (or topics) in red. The results were much more interesting than I thought. For example, the map on the left shows all the articles related to mountains, peaks, summits, etc. in red on a blue base map. The highlighted articles from this topic match the main mountain ranges exactly.
Black holes are created when a supernova explosion destroys a massive star. Scientists have discovered dozens of black holes, but all of them are already formed. So, when scientists recently saw different distorted remains of a supernova, they knew it something special.
What the scientists believe they observed was the infant phases of a black hole, or the youngest black hole ever recorded in the Milky Way galaxy.
Caught on film by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the "remnant," or W49B, is seen as a vibrant swirl of blues, greens, yellows, and pinks. As seen from Earth, it is about 1,000-years-old and is located roughly 26,000 light years away. A typical black hole, like SS433, is thought to be between 17,000- and 21,000-years-old, as seen from Earth.
"W49B is the first of its kind to be discovered in the galaxy," Laura Lopez, who led a study on the remnant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. "It appears its parent star ended its life in a way that most others don't."
A team of researchers working with CERN’s Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA) has reported the first direct measurement of gravity’s effect on antimatter, specifically antihydrogen in free fall.
“The atoms that make up ordinary matter fall down, so do antimatter atoms fall up? Do they experience gravity the same way as ordinary atoms, or is there such a thing as antigravity?”
“These questions have long intrigued physicists,” said Dr Joel Fajans of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, co-author of apaper reporting the results in Nature Communications.
“Because in the unlikely event that antimatter falls upwards, we’d have to fundamentally revise our view of physics and rethink how the Universe works.”
So far, all the evidence that gravity is the same for matter and antimatter is indirect, so the team decided to use their ongoing antihydrogen research to tackle the question directly.
The ALPHA experiment captures antiprotons and combines them with antielectons (positrons) to make antihydrogen atoms, which are stored and studied for a few seconds in a magnetic trap. Afterward, however, the trap is turned off and the atoms fall out. The researchers realized that by analyzing how antihydrogen fell out of the trap, they could determine if gravity pulled on antihydrogen differently than on hydrogen – the anomaly would be noticeable in ALPHA’s existing data on 434 anti-atoms.
Most species of gigantic animals that once roamed Australia had disappeared by the time people arrived, a major review of the available evidence has concluded.
The research challenges the claim that humans were primarily responsible for the demise of the megafauna in a proposed "extinction window" between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, and points the finger instead at climate change.
An international team led by the University of New South Wales, and including researchers at the University of Queensland, the University of New England, and the University of Washington, carried out the study. It is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The interpretation that humans drove the extinction rests on assumptions that increasingly have been shown to be incorrect. Humans may have played some role in the loss of those species that were still surviving when people arrived about 45,000 to 50,000 years ago -- but this also needs to be demonstrated," said Associate Professor Stephen Wroe, from UNSW, the lead author of the study.
"There has never been any direct evidence of humans preying on extinct megafauna in Sahul, or even of a tool-kit that was appropriate for big-game hunting," he said.
About 90 giant animal species once inhabited the continent of Sahul, which included mainland Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania.
"These leviathans included the largest marsupial that ever lived -- the rhinoceros-sized Diprotodon - and short-faced kangaroos so big we can't even be sure they could hop. Preying on them were goannas the size of large saltwater crocodiles with toxic saliva and bizarre but deadly marsupial lions with flick-blades on their thumbs and bolt cutters for teeth," said Associate Professor Wroe.
The review concludes there is only firm evidence for about 8 to 14 megafauna species still existing when Aboriginal people arrived. About 50 species, for example, are absent from the fossil record of the past 130,000 years.
A new experiment simulating conditions in deep space reveals that the complex building blocks of life could have been created on icy interplanetary dust and then carried to Earth, jump-starting life.
Chemists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Hawaii, Manoa, showed that conditions in space are capable of creating complex dipeptides – linked pairs of amino acids – that are essential building blocks shared by all living things. The discovery opens the door to the possibility that these molecules were brought to Earth aboard a comet or possibly meteorites, catalyzing the formation of proteins (polypeptides), enzymes and even more complex molecules, such as sugars, that are necessary for life.
“It is fascinating to consider that the most basic biochemical building blocks that led to life on Earth may well have had an extraterrestrial origin,” said UC Berkeley chemist Richard Mathies, coauthor of a paper published online last week and scheduled for the March 10, 2013 print issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
While scientists have discovered basic organic molecules, such as amino acids, in numerous meteorites that have fallen to Earth, they have been unable to find the more complex molecular structures that are prerequisites for our planet’s biology. As a result, scientists have always assumed that the really complicated chemistry of life must have originated in Earth’s early oceans.
In an ultra-high vacuum chamber chilled to 10 degrees above absolute zero (10 Kelvin), Seol Kim and Ralf Kaiser of the Hawaiian team simulated an icy snowball in space including carbon dioxide, ammonia and various hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane and propane. When zapped with high-energy electrons to simulate the cosmic rays in space, the chemicals reacted to form complex, organic compounds, specifically dipeptides, essential to life.
At UC Berkeley, Mathies and Amanda Stockton then analyzed the organic residues through the Mars Organic Analyzer, an instrument that Mathies designed for ultrasensitive detection and identification of small organic molecules in the solar system. The analysis revealed the presence of complex molecules – nine different amino acids and at least two dipeptides – capable of catalyzing biological evolution on earth.
Trials of a novel breath test for stomach cancer prove promising, say experts.
A quick and simple breath test can diagnose stomach cancer, study findings reveal. Scientists from Israel and China found the test was 90% accurate at detecting and distinguishing cancers from other stomach complaints in 130 patients.
The British Journal of Cancer says the test could revolutionise and speed up the way this cancer is diagnosed. About 7,000 UK people develop stomach cancer each year and most have an advanced stage of the disease. Two-fifths of patients survive for at least a year, but only a fifth are still alive after five years, despite treatment.
Currently doctors diagnose stomach cancer by taking a biopsy of the stomach lining using a probe and a flexible camera passed via mouth and down the gullet. The new test looks for chemical profiles in exhaled breath that are unique to patients with stomach cancer.
Cancer appears to give off a signature smell of volatile organic compounds that can be detected using the right technical medical kit - and perhaps even dogs. The science behind the test itself is not new - many researchers have been working on the possibility of breath tests for a number of cancers, including lung. But the work by Prof Hossam Haick, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, suggests it is a good way to spot stomach cancer.
In the study, 37 of the patients had stomach cancer, 32 had stomach ulcers and 61 had other stomach complaints.
As well as accurately distinguishing between these conditions 90% of the time, the breath test could tell the difference between early and late-stage stomach cancers. The team are now running a bigger study in more patients to validate their test. Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said: "The results of this latest study are promising - although large scale trials will now be needed to confirm these findings. "Only one in five people are able to have surgery as part of their treatment as most stomach cancers are diagnosed at stages that are too advanced for surgery. Any test that could help diagnose stomach cancers earlier would make a difference to patients' long-term survival."
A study partially funded by NASA finds evidence of ocean salt on Europa's surface.
If you could lick the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa, you would actually be sampling a bit of the ocean beneath. A new paper by Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., and Kevin Hand from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, details the strongest evidence yet that salty water from the vast liquid ocean beneath Europa's frozen exterior actually makes its way to the surface.
The finding, based on some of the best data of its kind since NASA's Galileo mission (1989 to 2003) to study Jupiter and its moons, suggests there is a chemical exchange between the ocean and surface, making the ocean a richer chemical environment. The work is described in a paper that has been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal.
The exchange between the ocean and the surface, Brown said, "means that energy might be going into the ocean, which is important in terms of the possibilities for life there. It also means that if you'd like to know what's in the ocean, you can just go to the surface and scrape some off."
Europa's ocean is thought to cover the moon's whole globe and is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) thick under a thin ice shell. Since the days of NASA's Voyager and Galileo missions, scientists have debated the composition of Europa's surface. The infrared spectrometer aboard Galileo was not capable of providing the detail needed to identify definitively some of the materials present on the surface. Now, using the Keck II Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and its OSIRIS spectrometer, Brown and Hand have identified a spectroscopic feature on Europa's surface that indicates the presence of a magnesium sulfate salt, a mineral called epsomite, that could have formed by oxidation of a mineral likely originating from the ocean below.
Brown and Hand started by mapping the distribution of pure water ice versus anything else. The spectra showed that even Europa's leading hemisphere contains significant amounts of non-water ice. Then, at low latitudes on the trailing hemisphere—the area with the greatest concentration of the non-water ice material—they found a tiny, never-before-detected dip in the spectrum.
The two researchers tested everything from sodium chloride to Drano in Hand's lab at JPL, where he tries to simulate the environments found on various icy worlds. At the end of the day, the signature of magnesium sulfate persisted.
The magnesium sulfate appears to be generated by the irradiation of sulfur ejected from the Jovian moon Io and, the authors deduce, magnesium chloride salt originating from Europa's ocean. Chlorides such as sodium and potassium chlorides, which are expected to be on the Europa surface, are in general not detectable because they have no clear infrared spectral features. But magnesium sulfate is detectable. The authors believe the composition of Europa's ocean may closely resemble the salty ocean of Earth.
Europa is considered a premier target in the search for life beyond Earth, Hand said. A NASA-funded study team led by JPL and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., has been working with the scientific community to identify options to explore Europa further. "If we've learned anything about life on Earth, it's that where there's liquid water, there's generally life," Hand said. "And of course our ocean is a nice, salty ocean. Perhaps Europa's salty ocean is also a wonderful place for life."
A hypersonic "SpaceLiner" would whisk up to 50 passengers from Europe to Australia in 90 minutes. The futuristic vehicle would do so by riding a rocket into Earth's upper atmosphere, reaching 24 times the speed of sound before gliding in for a landing.
Many challenges still remain, including finding the right shape for the vehicle, said Martin Sippel, project coordinator for SpaceLiner at the German Aerospace Center. But he suggested the project could make enough progress to begin attracting private funding in another 10 years and aim for full operations by 2050.
The current concept includes a rocket booster stage for launch and a separate orbiter stage to carry passengers halfway around the world without ever making it to space. Flight times between the U.S. and Europe could fall to just over an hour if the SpaceLiner takes off — that is, if passengers don't mind paying the equivalent of space tourism prices around several hundred thousand dollars.
"Maybe we can best characterize the SpaceLiner by saying it's a kind of second-generation space shuttle, but with a completely different task," Sippel said.
SpaceLiner passengers would have eight minutes to experience the rocket launch before they reached an altitude of about 47 to 50 miles (75 to 80 kilometers). That falls short of the 62-mile (100-km) boundary considered the edge of space, but even a suborbital flight would allow SpaceLiner to glide back to Earth at hypersonic speeds of more than 15,000 mph (25,200 kph).
A medical device company with a needlefree glucose monitoring system that keeps a constant read of glucose levels in the blood has achieved positive clinical trial results in a study to monitor patients in a critical care setting.
The study at Tufts University included 15 adult patients scheduled for elective cardiac surgery. Echo Therapeutics’ (NASDAQ: ECTE) device, the Symphony tCGM biosensor, was applied to the patients’ skin site prior to surgery. Blood samples were collected from the arterial line catheters every 30 minutes and measured with a glucose analyzer. The 540 Symphony tCGM glucose readings for the study subjects were paired with reference blood glucose measurements and showed that more than 99 percent of the readings were clinically accurate with no benign errors.
The needle-free, transdermal device is designed to be more efficient and less invasive for patients in hospital settings. Although critical care patients have been in its initial target, the company sees plenty of scope for the device to be used in the daily ritual of diabetics checking their levels.
Although there are several glucose monitoring systems on the market or being developed, Dr. Patrick Mooney’s Echo’s CEO and chairman said its device has a better error rate than its rivals and can give continuous readings. Mooney also sees potential for the device for transdermal drug delivery, a market valued at $5.6 billion.
Two Indiana University researchers have developed a computer model they say can identify significantly better and less-expensive treatments than can doctors acting alone. It’s just the latest evidence that big data will have a profound impact on our health care system.
How much better? They claim a better than 50 percent reduction in costs and more than 40 percent better patient outcomes.
The idea behind the research, carried out by Casey Bennett and Kris Hauser, is simple and gets to the core of why so many people care so much about data in the first place: If doctors can consider what’s actually happening and likely to happen instead of relying on intuition, they should be able to make better decisions.
In order to prove out their hypothesis, the researchers worked with “clinical data, demographics and other information on over 6,700 patients who had major clinical depression diagnoses, of which about 65 to 70 percent had co-occurring chronic physical disorders like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.” They built a model using Markov decision processes — which predict the probabilities of future events based on those immediately preceding them — and dynamic decision networks — which extend the Markov processes by considering the specific features of those events in order to determine the probabilities. Essentially, their model considers the specifics of a patient’s current state and then determines the best action to effect the best possible outcome.
Specifically, Bennett and Hauser found via a simulation of 500 random cases that their model decreased the cost per unit of outcome change to $189 from the $497 without it, an improvement of 58.5 percent. They found their original model improved patient outcomes by nearly 35 percent, but that tweaking a few parameters could bring that number to 41.9 percent.
IBM has been banging this drum loudly, most recently with two new commercial versions of its Watson system — one of which is designed to determine the best-possible course of treatment for lung cancer patient by analyzing their situations against a library of millions of pages of clinical evidence and medical research.
So, although we won’t hear “Paging Dr. Watson” at the hospital anytime soon, there’s an increasingly high chance our doctors will retire to their offices with our charts and ask a computer system of some sort what might be wrong with us and how they might best fix it.
Here is the plan. Customize several Gulfstream business jets with military engines and with equipment to produce and disperse fine droplets of sulfuric acid. Fly the jets up around 20 kilometers—significantly higher than the cruising altitude for a commercial jetliner but still well within their range. At that altitude in the tropics, the aircraft are in the lower stratosphere. The planes spray the sulfuric acid, carefully controlling the rate of its release. The sulfur combines with water vapor to form sulfate aerosols, fine particles less than a micrometer in diameter. These get swept upward by natural wind patterns and are dispersed over the globe, including the poles. Once spread across the stratosphere, the aerosols will reflect about 1 percent of the sunlight hitting Earth back into space. Increasing what scientists call the planet’s albedo, or reflective power, will partially offset the warming effects caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases.
When proteins get “out of shape”, the consequences can be fatal. They lose their function and in some cases form insoluble, toxic clumps that damage other cells and can cause severe diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Göttingen – in collaboration with Polish colleagues – have now “filmed” how a protein gradually unfolds for the first time. By combining low temperatures and NMR spectroscopy, the scientists visualized seven intermediate forms of the CylR2 protein while cooling it down from 25°C to - 16°C. Their results show that the most instable intermediate form plays a key role in protein folding. The scientists’ findings may contribute to a better understanding of how proteins adopt their structure and misfold during illness.
A vacuum might seem like empty space, but scientists have discovered a new way to seemingly get something from that nothingness, such as light. And the finding could ultimately help scientists build incredibly powerful quantum computers or shed light on the earliest moments in the universe's history.
Quantum physics explains that there are limits to how precisely one can know the properties of the most basic units of matter—for instance, one can never absolutely know a particle's position and momentum at the same time. One bizarre consequence of this uncertainty is that a vacuum is never completely empty, but instead buzzes with so-called “virtual particles” that constantly wink into and out of existence.
These virtual particles often appear in pairs that near-instantaneously cancel themselves out. Still, before they vanish, they can have very real effects on their surroundings. For instance, photons—packets of light—can pop in and out of a vacuum. When two mirrors are placed facing each other in a vacuum, more virtual photons can exist around the outside of the mirrors than between them, generating a seemingly mysterious force that pushes the mirrors together.
This phenomenon, predicted in 1948 by the Dutch physicist Hendrick Casimir and known as the Casimir effect, was first seen with mirrors held still . Researchers also predicted a dynamical Casimir effect that can result when mirrors are moved, or objects otherwise undergo change. Now quantum physicist Pasi Lähteenmäki at Aalto University in Finland and his colleagues reveal that by varying the speed at which light can travel, they can make light appear from nothing.
The speed of light in a vacuum is constant, according to Einstein's theory of relativity, but its speed passing through any given material depends on a property of that substance known as its index of refraction. By varying a material's index of refraction, researchers can influence the speed at which both real and virtual photons travel within it. Lähteenmäki says one can think of this system as being much like a mirror, and if its thickness changes fast enough, virtual photons reflecting off it can receive enough energy from the bounce to turn into real photons. "Imagine you stay in a very dark room and suddenly the index of refraction of light [of the room] changes," Lähteenmäki says. "The room will start to glow."
The researchers began with an array of 250 superconducting quantum-interference devices, or SQUIDs—circuits that are extraordinarily sensitive to magnetic fields. They inserted the array inside a refrigerator. By carefully exerting magnetic fields on this array, they could vary the speed at which microwave photons traveled through it by a few percent. The researchers then cooled this array to 50 thousandths of a degree Celsius above absolute zero. Because this environment is supercold, it should not emit any radiation, essentially behaving as a vacuum. "We were simply studying these circuits for the purpose of developing an amplifier, which we did," says researcher Sorin Paraoanu, a theoretical physicist at Aalto University. "But then we asked ourselves—what if there is no signal to amplify? What happens if the vacuum is the signal?"
The investigators caution that such experiments do not constitute a magical way to get more energy out of a system than what is input. For instance, it takes energy to change a material's index of refraction.
Instead, such research could help scientists learn more about the mysteries of quantum entanglement, which lies at the heart of quantum computers—advanced machines that could in principle run more calculations in an instant than there are atoms in the universe. The entangled microwave photons the experimental array generated "can be used for a form of quantum computation known as 'continuous variable' quantum information processing,” Girvin says. “This is a direction which is just beginning to open up.” Wilson adds that these systems “might be used to simulate some interesting scenarios. For instance, there are predictions that during cosmic inflation in the early universe, the boundaries of the universe were expanding nearly at light-speed or faster than the speed of light. We might predict there'd be some dynamical Casimir radiation produced then, and we can try and do tabletop simulations of this."
So the static Casimir effect involves mirrors held still; the dynamical Casimir effect can for instance involve mirrors that move.
Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers, Japanese scientists have shown.
At the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, of Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute, showed remarkable videos of chimpanzees displaying mental dexterity that would be way beyond most people.
The star performer among the institute’s 14 chimpanzees, a 12-year-old male called Ayumu, has learnt all the numerals from 1 to 19. Several other Kyoto chimpanzees have learnt 1 to 9.
When the numbers flash up in random places across a computer screen and in random order, and disappear after less than a second, the apes can point immediately to the exact locations where the numerals had been, in the correct numerical order.
Prof Matsuzawa said a few exceptional people, such as those with savant syndrome, might be capable of such memory feats but they are far beyond the average human brain. “One person in several thousand may be able to do this,” he said. “All the chimps I have tested can do it.”
Prof Matsuzawa, who combines the study of wild chimpanzees in west Africa with research using the captive colony in Kyoto, said such a good working memory – the ability to take in an accurate, detailed image of a complex scene or pattern – was an important survival tool in the wild.
For example, the apes can quickly assess and remember the distribution of edible fruit in a forest canopy. Or, when two rival bands of chimpanzees encounter one another, they can assess the strength of the rival group and decide whether to fight or flee.