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Hypersonic "SpaceLiner" Aims to Fly Passengers in 2050

Hypersonic "SpaceLiner" Aims to Fly Passengers in 2050 | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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).

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
mdashf's insight:

wow. intercontinental flying in just 1.5 hrs. By 2050 I would be about to die. And the acceleration might mean we would age faster. 

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Pain-free glucose monitoring system clinical trial yields positive results

Pain-free glucose monitoring system clinical trial yields positive results | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.


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Researchers say AI prescribes better treatment than doctors

Researchers say AI prescribes better treatment than doctors | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.

 


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Skip Stein's curator insight, February 12, 2013 8:28 AM

This is compounded by the fact that most of the illnesses in the study are direct results from poor/lousy nutrition.  Since doctors get little or no training in nutrition during all those years in medical school, the obvious solutions, the most natural and inexpensive ones are not even mentioned.  Plant based nutrition can help reduce the impact of many illnesses and in many cases totally reverse/cure the 'disease'.  Things like heart disease, diabetes 2, many cancers and a host of other ailments from depression, hypertension, high cholesterol and a plethora of others.

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MIT: A Cheap and Easy Plan to Stop Global Warming

MIT: A Cheap and Easy Plan to Stop Global Warming | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.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.


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Protein ‘filmed’ while unfolding at atomic resolution

Protein ‘filmed’ while unfolding at atomic resolution | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.


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Virtual quantum particles can have real physical effects: A vacuum can yield flashes of light

Virtual quantum particles can have real physical effects: A vacuum can yield flashes of light | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.

 


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Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers

Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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big head big brain it seems 

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Dogs spot dogs: Dogs recognize the dog species among several other species on a computer screen

Dogs spot dogs: Dogs recognize the dog species among several other species on a computer screen | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Dogs pick out faces of other dogs, irrespective of breeds, among human and other domestic and wild animal faces and can group them into a category of their own. They do that using visual cues alone, according to new research by Dr. Dominique Autier-Dérian from the LEEC and National Veterinary School in Lyon in France and colleagues. Their work, the first to test dogs' ability to discriminate between species and form a "dog" category in spite of the huge variability within the dog species.

 

Individuals from the same species get together for social life. These gatherings require recognition of similarities between individuals who belong to the same species and to a certain group. Research to date has shown that in some species, individuals recognize more easily, or are more attracted by images of, individuals belonging to their own species than those belonging to another species.

 

Autier-Derian and team studied this phenomenon among domestic dogs, which have the largest morphological variety among all animal species. Indeed, more than 400 pure breeds of dogs have been registered. The authors explored whether this large morphological diversity presented a cognitive challenge to dogs trying to recognize their species, when confronted with other species, using visual cues alone.

 

On a computer screen, the researchers showed nine pet dogs pictures of faces from various dog breeds and cross-breeds, and simultaneously faces of other animal species, including human faces. They exposed the dogs to diverse stimuli: images of dog faces; images of non-dog species from 40 different species, including domestic and wild animals; and humans. Overall, the dogs were shown more than 144 pairs of pictures to select from. The authors observed whether the nine dogs could discriminate any type of dog from other species, and could group all dogs together, whatever their breed, into a single category.

 

The results suggest that dogs can form a visual category of dog faces and group pictures of very different dogs into a single category, despite the diversity in dog breeds. Indeed, all nine dogs were able to group all the images of dogs within the same category.

 

The authors conclude: "The fact that dogs are able to recognize their own species visually, and that they have great olfactory discriminative capacities, insures that social behavior and mating between different breeds is still potentially possible. Although humans have stretched the Canis familiaris species to its morphological limits, its biological entity has been preserved."

 

 


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No Escape From It: Dive Into a Black Hole That Distorts Space and Time

No Escape From It: Dive Into a Black Hole That Distorts Space and Time | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

When matter is compressed beyond a certain density, a black hole is created. It is called black because no light can escape from it. Some black holes are the tombstones of what were once massive stars. An enormous black hole is thought to lurk at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

 

All the mass of a black hole is concentrated into a point at its center called the singularity. Gravity surrounding the singularity is so strong, you would have to travel faster than light to escape. This creates a spherical zone surrounding the singularity called the event horizon from which nothing can escape.

 

At about one and a half times the diameter of the event horizon, photons become trapped in circular orbits around the black hole. All the mass of a black hole is concentrated into a point at its center called the singularity.

 

Gravity surrounding the singularity is so strong, you would have to travel faster than light to escape. This creates a spherical zone surrounding the singularity called the event horizon from which nothing can escape.

 

In theory, a black hole of any size could exist. A black hole with the mass of our sun would be 3.7 miles (6 km) in diameter. In practice, the death of a star like the sun does not compress the material enough to form a black hole. Stars with about two times the sun’s mass or more form black holes.

 

Astronomers recognize two major types. Stellar-mass black holes have the mass of several sun-sized stars. They form when a dying star explodes in a supernova, then collapses under its own gravity. Matter drawn toward the black hole forms an accretion disc.

 

Supermassive black holes can have billions of times our sun’s mass. Matter drawn toward a supermassive black hole is compressed, heats up and may be blasted out into jets thousands of light-years long.

 

Stellar-mass black holes are scattered throughout the galaxy. A supermassive black hole lies at the core of many galaxies, including our own. The Milky Way’s supermassive black hole is called SgrA* (Sagittarius A-star), and it is seen from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. The supermassive black hole is about 26,000 light-years away, and has a mass of at least 4 million times the mass of our sun.

 

The powerful gravity of a black hole distorts light, space and time. One effect is gravitational lensing. A black hole between us and a distant galaxy will bend the rays of light, causing our view of the galaxy to be warped. We have yet to photograph a black hole in detail, but simulations suggest that the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center might appear to be a distorted crescent.


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An extreme rarity: A meteor hit and an asteroid near-miss on same day

An extreme rarity: A meteor hit and an asteroid near-miss on same day | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

An asteroid half the size of a football field passed closer to Earth than any other known object of its size on Friday, the same day an unrelated and much smaller space rock blazed over central Russia, creating shock waves that shattered windows and injured 1,200 people.

 

Asteroid 2012 DA14, discovered just last year, passed about 17,200 miles from Earth at 2:25 p.m. EST (1925 GMT), closer than the networks of television and weather satellites that ring the planet.

 

"It's like a shooting gallery here. We have two rare events of near-Earth objects approaching the Earth on the same day," NASA scientist Paul Chodas said during a webcast showing live images of the asteroid from a telescope in Australia.

 

Scientists said the two events, both rare, are not related -the body that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 10:20 p.m. EST Thursday (0320 GMT Friday) came from a different direction and different speed than DA14.

"It's simply a coincidence," Chodas said.

 

NASA has been tasked by the U.S. Congress to find and track all near-Earth objects that are .62 miles in diameter or larger.

 

The effort is intended to give scientists and engineers as much time as possible to learn if an asteroid or comet is on a collision course with Earth, in hopes of sending up a spacecraft or taking other measures to avert catastrophe.

 

About 66 million years ago, an object 6 miles in diameter smashed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, leading to the demise of the dinosaurs, as well as most plant and animal life on Earth.

 

Scientists estimate that only about 10 percent of smaller objects, such as DA14, have been found.

 

"Things that are that tiny are very hard to see. Their orbits are very close to that of the Earth," said Paul Dimotakis, a professor of aeronautics and applied physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

 


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Water’s pyramid shape confirmed

Water’s pyramid shape confirmed | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have confirmed the original model of the molecular structure of water. The findings have made it possible to resolve a long-standing scientific debate about liquid H2O’s structure.

 

The tetrahedral model was first hypothesised nearly 100 years ago. It assumes that each water molecule forms a hydrogen bond with four adjacent molecules. Research conducted in 2004 almost overturned this concept, when it was suggested that water molecules form bonds with only two other molecules.

 

Hydrogen bonds, which give water some of its unique properties such as its liquid aggregate state and high boiling point, are formed due to the different charges carried by the oxygen and hydrogen atoms. It was traditionally suggested that water has a tetrahedral structure at room temperature so that on average, each water molecule would be linked with four adjacent ones via two donor and acceptor bonds.


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Like Humans, Dolphins Call Each Other By Name

Like Humans, Dolphins Call Each Other By Name | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
Bottlenose dolphins use signature whistles when they're separated.

 

Bottlenose dolphins call out the specific names of loved ones when they become separated, a study finds. Other than humans, the dolphins are the only animals known to do this, according to the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The big difference with bottlenose dolphins is that these communications consist of whistles, not words.

 

Earlier research found that bottlenose dolphins name themselves, with dolphins having a “signature whistle” that encodes other information. It would be somewhat like a human shouting, “Hey everybody! I’m an adult healthy male named George, and I mean you no harm!”

 

“Animals produced copies when they were separated from a close associate and this supports our belief that dolphins copy another animal’s signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual,” lead author Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit told Discovery News.

 

Captive bottlenose dolphins, however, as well as all of the wild ones, developed their own signature whistles that serve as names in interactions with other dolphins. “A dolphin emits its signature whistle to broadcast its identity and announce its presence, allowing animals to identify one another over large distances and for animals to recognize one another and to join up with each other,” King explained. “Dolphin whistles can be detected up to 20 km away (12.4 miles) depending on water depth and whistle frequency.”


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Peter Phillips's curator insight, February 21, 2013 4:12 AM

Dolphins call each other by name!

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Astrochemists Trying To Decipher Mystery Molecules Discovered in Distant Galaxies

Astrochemists Trying To Decipher Mystery Molecules Discovered in Distant Galaxies | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

In late 2011, a team of NASA and European scientists recorded the "fingerprints" of mystery molecules in two distant galaxies, Andromeda and the Triangulum. Astronomers can count on one hand the number of galaxies examined so far for such fingerprints, which are thought to belong to large organic molecules (molecules that have at least 20 atoms or more), said the team's leader, Martin Cordiner of NASA's Goddard Center for Astrobiology. This is quite small compared to, say, a protein, but huge compared to a molecule of carbon monoxide, a very common molecule in space.

 

Figuring out exactly which molecules are leaving these clues, known as "diffuse interstellar bands" (DIBs), is a puzzle that initially seemed straightforward but has gone unsolved for nearly a hundred years. The answer is expected to help explain how stars, planets and life form, so settling the matter is as important to astronomers who specialize in chemistry and biology as determining the nature of dark matter is to the specialists in physics.
The significance of the first DIBs, recorded in 1922 in Mary Lea Heger's Ph.D. thesis, was not immediately recognized. But once astronomers began systematic studies, starting with a 1934 paper by P. W. Merrill, they had every reason to believe the problem could be solved within a decade or two.

More than 400 DIBs have been documented since then. But not one has been identified with enough certainty for astronomers to consider its case closed.

"With this many diffuse bands, you'd think we astronomers would have enough clues to solve this problem," muses Joseph Nuth, a senior scientist with the Goddard Center for Astrobiology who was not involved in this work. "Instead, it's getting more mysterious as more data is gathered." Detailed analyses of the bumps and wiggles of the DIBs, suggest that the molecules which give rise to DIBs—called "carriers"—are probably large.

Recently, more interest has been focused on at least one small molecule, a chain made from three carbon atoms and two hydrogen atoms (C3H2). This was tentatively identified with a pattern of DIBs.

On the list of DIB-related suspects, all molecules have one thing in common: they are organic, which means they are built largely from carbon. Carbon is great for building large numbers of molecules because it is available almost  everywhere. In space, only hydrogen, helium and oxygen are more plentiful. Here on Earth, we find carbon in the planet's crust, the oceans, the atmosphere and all forms of life.


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Commercial Moon Flights Coming Soon?

Commercial Moon Flights Coming Soon? | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.

 


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Amlexanox used for the treatment of aphthous ulcers points the way to new treatments for diabetes and obesity

Amlexanox used for the treatment of aphthous ulcers points the way to new treatments for diabetes and obesity | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.

 

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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this one has a funny coincidence .. ask me two years later !!

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Making homemade guns on a 3-D printer becomes so real that experts suggests stronger laws on gunpowder

Making homemade guns on a 3-D printer becomes so real that experts suggests stronger laws on gunpowder | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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


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Birds' UV Vision has arisen independently more than 14 times during evolution

Birds' UV Vision has arisen independently more than 14 times during evolution | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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the suckers are real dreamers and visionaries 

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Giuliano Cipollari's curator insight, February 16, 2013 9:37 AM

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An amazing invisible truth about Wikipedia hiding inside Wikipedia's GeoTag Information

An amazing invisible truth about Wikipedia hiding inside Wikipedia's GeoTag Information | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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.

 


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NASA may have witnessed the birth of a black hole for the first time ever

NASA may have witnessed the birth of a black hole for the first time ever | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

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."


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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right when it was borne 

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Russian meteor largest in century: The explosion was more powerful than a nuclear blast

Russian meteor largest in century: The explosion was more powerful than a nuclear blast | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A meteor that exploded over Russia this morning was the largest recorded object to strike the Earth in more than a century, scientists say. The explosion rivaled a nuclear blast, but the space rock was still too small for existing advance-warning networks to spot. Infrasound data collected by a network designed to watch for nuclear weapons testing suggests that today's blast released hundreds of kilotons of energy. That would make it far more powerful than the nuclear weapon tested by North Korea just days ago and the largest rock crashing on the planet since a meteor broke up over Siberia's Tunguska river in 1908.

 

"It was a very, very powerful event," says Margaret Campbell-Brown, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, who has studied data from two infrasound stations near the impact site. Her calculations show that the meteoroid was approximately 15 meters across when it entered the atmosphere, and put its mass at around 40 tons. "That would make it the biggest object recorded to hit the Earth since Tunguska," she says.

 

The meteor appeared at around 09:25 a.m. local time over the region of Chelyabinsk, near the southern Ural Mountains. The fireball blinded drivers and a subsequent explosion blew out windows and damaged hundreds of buildings. So far, more than 700 people are reported to have been injured, mainly from broken glass, according to a statement from the Russian Emergency Ministry.

 


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Mercor's curator insight, February 16, 2013 9:30 AM

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Defense system uses sun to vaporize asteroids as far away as the distance of the sun

Defense system uses sun to vaporize asteroids as far away as the distance of the sun | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

As an asteroid roughly half as large as a football field readies for a fly-by of Earth on Friday, February 15, 2013, two scientists are unveiling a system that could—in one hour—eliminate a threat of this size.

 

The same system could destroy asteroids 10 times larger than the one known as2012 DA14 in about a year, with evaporation starting at a distance as far away as the Sun.

 

Philip M. Lubin, a physicist and professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Gary B. Hughes, a researcher and professor from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, conceived DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids an exploRation, as a realistic means of mitigating potential threats posed to the Earth by asteroids and comets.

 

“We have to come to grips with discussing these issues in a logical and rational way,” says Lubin, who began work on DE-STAR a year ago. “We need to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with threats.

 

“Duck and cover is not an option. We can actually do something about it and it’s credible to do something. So let’s begin along this path. Let’s start small and work our way up. There is no need to break the bank to start.”

Described as a “directed energy orbital defense system,” DE-STAR is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth.

 

It is equally capable of changing an asteroid’s orbit—deflecting it away from Earth, or into the Sun—and may also prove to be a valuable tool for assessing an asteroid’s composition, enabling lucrative, rare-element mining. And it’s entirely based on current essential technology.

 


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Subatomic calculations from the Higgs boson indicate finite lifespan for our universe

Subatomic calculations from the Higgs boson indicate finite lifespan for our universe | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Scientists are still sorting out the details of last year's discovery of the Higgs boson particle, but add up the numbers and it's not looking good for the future of the universe, scientists said.

 

"If you use all the physics that we know now and you do what you think is a straightforward calculation, it's bad news," Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. 

Lykeen spoke before presenting his research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston.

 

"It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable and at some point billions of years from now it's all going to get wiped out," said Lykken, who is also on the science team at Europe's Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator.

 

Physicists last year announced they had discovered what appears to be a long-sought subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, which is believed to give matter its mass.

 

Work to study the Higgs' related particles, necessary for confirmation, is ongoing. If confirmed, the discovery would help resolve a key puzzle about how the universe came into existence some 13.7 billion years ago - and perhaps how it will end.

 

"This calculation tells you that many tens of billions of years from now, there'll be a catastrophe," Lykken said. "A little bubble of what you might think of as an ‘alternative' universe will appear somewhere and then it will expand out and destroy us," Lykken said, adding that the event will unfold at the speed of light.

 

Scientists had grappled with the idea of the universe's long-term stability before the Higgs discovery, but stepped up calculations once its mass began settling in at around 126 billion electron volts - a critical number it turns out for figuring out the fate of the universe.

 

The calculation requires knowing the mass of the Higgs to within one percent, as well as the precise mass of other related subatomic particles. "You change any of these parameters to the Standard Model (of particle physics) by a tiny bit and you get a different end of the universe," Lyyken said.

 

Earth will likely be long gone before any Higgs boson particles set off an apocalyptic assault on the universe. Physicists expect the sun to burn out in 4.5 billion years or so, and expand, likely engulfing Earth in the process.


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Ever wanted X-ray specs or super-human vision? Look at the Milky Way and Universe in a range of wavelengths

Ever wanted X-ray specs or super-human vision? Look at the Milky Way and Universe in a range of wavelengths | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Chromoscope shows you the view of the Universe that we get from Earth. The view is mostly dominated by our galaxy - The Milky Way - which is the band running horizontally across the middle. The direction of the centre of the Galaxy is, appropriately, in the centre of the screen. All the stars, and many of the nebulae you can see are also in the Milky Way. Some of the objects you can see in visible light are far beyond our own galaxy. With other types of light you can see objects far across the Universe and even see light that set off shortly after the Big Bang.


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Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, February 19, 2013 12:40 PM

Pretty cool way to play with zooming options and visible/non-visible light.

Loreto Vargas's curator insight, February 20, 2013 11:33 AM

Extraordinary.

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What Created Earth's Oceans? Comet 103P/Hartley 2 From The Kuiper Belt Offers New Clue

What Created Earth's Oceans? Comet 103P/Hartley 2 From The Kuiper Belt Offers New Clue | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

For the first time, astronomers have found water on a comet that's a chemical match for water on Earth, a new study says. The discovery backs up theories that water-rich comets helped fill ancient Earth's oceans.

 

Planet-formation models indicate that early Earth was much too hot to sustain liquid water on its surface, making the origin of Earth's oceans a mystery.

So scientists speculated that our planet's surface water came from comets that slammed into Earth once the planet had cooled.

 

This theory was dealt a serious blow in the 1980s, however, due to measurements of the ratio of normal to "semiheavy" molecules—the D/H ratio—in comet water.

 

In a semiheavy water molecule, one hydrogen atom (H) is replaced with a heftier version called deuterium (D). All water in nature has a D/H ratio, and since deuterium is a very stable atom, this ratio can go unchanged for eons.

Since the 1980s researchers have found that several comets in our solar system have D/H ratios that are very different from that of Earth's water.

 

Those results indicated that, at best, only about 10 percent of Earth's water could have come from comets, with the rest probably coming from water-rich asteroids, explained study leader Paul Hartogh, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. In the new study, Hartogh and his team used the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory to examine the D/H ratio of the comet 103P/Hartley 2. The results show that Hartley 2's water is very similar to that of Earth.

 

Hartley 2 is a so-called Jupiter family comet, because its orbit takes the comet close to the orbits of Jupiter and the other gas giants. Importantly, computer simulations suggest that Hartley 2 originated from the Kuiper belt, a region beyond the orbit of Neptune that is filled with comets and other icy remnants from the formation of our solar system.

 

This would suggest that the larger group of comets that helped form Earth's oceans originally came from the Kuiper belt. (Related: "Three New 'Plutos'? Possible Dwarf Planets Found.")

 

By contrast, the comets with D/H ratios that didn't match Earth's are thought to have originated in the Oort cloud, a reservoir of billions of comets that astronomers think exists far beyond the Kuiper belt.


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One in 70 million chance: Texas woman has 2 sets of identical twins

One in 70 million chance: Texas woman has 2 sets of identical twins | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A Texas woman got a quadruple Valentine's Day gift this year, giving birth to four babies -- two sets of identical twins. The twins were not the result of fertility treatments, the hospital said. Each pair of twins shared a placenta, the hospital said. Identical twins result when a fertilized egg splits into two embryos. Twins occur in about 2% of all pregnancies. Of those, 30% are identical twins. The odds of having two sets of twins at once is about 1 in 70 million, said Dr. Alan Penzias, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.


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