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Testing Einstein's E=mc2 in outer space. Is inertial and gravitational mass exactly the same?

Testing Einstein's E=mc2 in outer space. Is inertial and gravitational mass exactly the same? | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

University of Arizona physicist Andrei Lebed has stirred the physics community with an intriguing idea yet to be tested experimentally: The world's most iconic equation, Albert Einstein's E=mc2, may be correct or not depending on where you are in space.

 

This was first demonstrated by Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity and famously expressed in his iconic equation, E=mc2, where E stands for energy, m for mass and c for the speed of light (squared). Although physicists have since validated Einstein's equation in countless experiments and calculations, and many technologies including mobile phones and GPS navigation depend on it, University of Arizona physics professor Andrei Lebed has stirred the physics community by suggesting that E=mc2 may not hold up in certain circumstances.

 

The equivalence principle between the inertial and gravitational masses, introduced in classical physics by Galileo Galilei and in modern physics by Albert Einstein, has been confirmed with a very high level of accuracy. "But my calculations show that beyond a certain probability, there is a very small but real chance the equation breaks down for a gravitational mass," Lebed said.

 

If one measures the weight of quantum objects, such as a hydrogen atom, often enough, the result will be the same in the vast majority of cases, but a tiny portion of those measurements give a different reading, in apparent violation of E=mc2. This has physicists puzzled, but it could be explained if gravitational mass was not the same as inertial mass, which is a paradigm in physics.

 

"Most physicists disagree with this because they believe that gravitational mass exactly equals inertial mass," Lebed said. "But my point is that gravitational mass may not be equal to inertial mass due to some quantum effects in General Relativity, which is Einstein's theory of gravitation. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever proposed this before."

 

According to Einstein, gravitation is a result of a curvature in space itself. Think of a mattress on which several objects have been laid out, say, a ping pong ball, a baseball and a bowling ball. The ping pong ball will make no visible dent, the baseball will make a very small one and the bowling ball will sink into the foam. Stars and planets do the same thing to space. The larger an object's mass, the larger of a dent it will make into the fabric of space.


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Newly discovered form of cell division may help ward off cancer

Newly discovered form of cell division may help ward off cancer | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Cell biologists have long thought that cytokinesis, the final step of cell division in which the cytoplasm and its contents are split, is necessary for the proper assortment of chromosomes. Disrupt this process, the prevailing wisdom held, and aneuploidy will result, with cancerous implications. But a team led byMark Burkard at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has discovered a new type of cell division, dubbed ‘klerokinesis’, that protects cells from failed cytokinesis.

 

Using live-cell imaging, the researchers watched retinal pigment epithelial cells for five days after they had chemically inhibited cytokinesis. Reporting today at the American Society for Cell Biology’s annual meeting in San Francisco, they showed that many cells managed to split into two during the first growth phase of the next cell cycle—not during mitosis—allowing each to recover a normal chromosome set. Burkard says that therapeutic strategies that boost this type of nonmitotic cell fission could prevent cancer in people at high risk of developing tumors marked by abnormal chromosomal counts.


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Daniel R Colgan's comment, January 13, 2013 8:47 PM
Sight restoration using Induced Mitosis could be controlled via above, allowing the healthy cells to duplicate and regenerate the retina!
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HPV and obesity-related cancers on the rise in US, but cancer rates in general continue to drop

HPV and obesity-related cancers on the rise in US, but cancer rates in general continue to drop | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

New report finds overall cancer and cancer death rates are declining among Americans, but more needs to be done to curb HPV, cancer.

 

The "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer" is a joint project from researchers at the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute, in addition to the American Cancer Society and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. It was published Jan. 7 online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

 

Fewer Americans have been dying of cancer since about 1990, and the new report found cancer death rates continued to drop from 2000 to 2009, by about 1.8 percent per year among men and 1.4 percent per year among women over that time period.

 

Men were less likely to die from 10 of the 17 most common types of cancers, including lung, prostate, colon, stomach cancers and leukemia, while cancer death rates for women fell for 15 of the 18 most common types of cancers, including cancers of the breast, cervix, ovary, bladder and lung.

 

The researchers said these declines in cancer death rates may be because of reductions in risk factors like smoking and improvements in early detection and treatments.

 

Cancer death rates among children 14 and under also fell overall by 1.8 percent.

 


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The slower you grow, the longer you live: Growth rate influences lifespan

The slower you grow, the longer you live: Growth rate influences lifespan | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

New research from the University of Glasgow suggests that lifespan is affected by the rate at which bodies grow early in life.

 

A team from the University’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine altered the growth rate of 240 fish by exposing them to brief cold or warm spells, which put them behind or ahead their normal growth schedule.  Once the environmental temperature was returned to normal, the fish got back on track by accelerating or slowing their growth accordingly. However, the change in growth rate also affected their rate of aging. 

 

While the normal lifespan of sticklebacks is around two years, the slow-growth fish lived for more than 30 percent longer, with an average lifespan of nearly 1000 days. In contrast, the accelerated-growth fish had a lifespan that was 15% shorter than normal. 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
mdashf's insight:

they should check if this is statistically in confirmation with Einstein's Relativity which says "more enegy automatically means ime runs faster and less energy means time runs slower" hence having less energy spent per unit time allows this energy to be spent over a longer period time and hence aging slower. Slowe metabolic activites should entail longer ife span and even Einstein had said so "bilogical aging and the rate at which physical processes are governed by Relativity" b/cos they are to be governed by physical laws and Einstein's law is a physical law as well. 

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Early universe: Magnetic fields created before the first stars

Early universe: Magnetic fields created before the first stars | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
Magnets have practically become everyday objects. Earlier on, however, the universe consisted only of nonmagnetic elements and particles. Just how the magnetic forces came into existence has now been researched.

 

Before the formation of the first stars, the luminous matter consisted only of a fully ionised gas of protons, electrons, helium nuclei and lithium nuclei which were produced during the Big Bang. "All higher metals, for example, magnetic iron could, according to today's conception, only be formed in the inside of stars," says Reinhard Schlickeiser. "In early times therefore, there were no permanent magnets in the Universe." The parameters that describe the state of a gas are, however, not constant. Density and pressure, as well as electric and magnetic fields fluctuate around certain mean values. As a result of this fluctuation, at certain points in the plasma weak magnetic fields formed -- so-called random fields. How strong these fields are in a fully ionised plasma of protons and electrons, has now been calculated by Prof. Schlickeiser, specifically for the gas densities and temperatures that occurred in the plasmas of the early universe.

 

The result: the magnetic fields fluctuate depending on their position in the plasma, however, regardless of time -- unlike, for example, electromagnetic waves such as light waves, which fluctuate over time. Everywhere in the luminous gas of the early universe there was a magnetic field with a strength of 10^-20 Tesla, i.e. 10 sextillionth of a Tesla. By comparison, the earth's magnetic field has a strength of 30 millionths of a Tesla. In MRI scanners, field strengths of three Tesla are now usual. The magnetic field in the plasma of the early universe was thus very weak, but it covered almost 100 percent of the plasma volume.

 

Stellar winds or supernova explosions of the first massive stars generated shock waves that compressed the magnetic random fields in certain areas. In this way, the fields were strengthened and aligned on a wide-scale. Ultimately, the magnetic force was so strong that it in turn influenced the shock waves. "This explains the balance often observed between magnetic forces and thermal gas pressure in cosmic objects," says Prof. Schlickeiser. The calculations show that all fully ionised gases in the early universe were weakly magnetised. Magnetic fields therefore existed even before the first stars. Next, the Bochum physicist is set to examine how the weak magnetic fields affect temperature fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation.


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Rare Fossil Points to Toxic Oceans in Devonian Period Possibly Causing Global Mass Extinction

Rare Fossil Points to Toxic Oceans in Devonian Period Possibly Causing Global Mass Extinction | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
A well-preserved crab-like fossil that was found by scientists from Curtin University, Australia, has provided evidence of a toxic ocean environment in the Devonian Period, potentially responsible for the mass extinction 380 million years ago.

 

A study, published in the journal Geology, shows that hydrogen sulphide dependant organisms –known as Chlorobi – and sulphate-reducing bacteria had preserved the shell and the muscles of the crab-like creature. “The research presents organic geochemistry as a new tool for paleontologists, enabling them to identify invertebrate fossils and reconstruct their environments from a molecular point of view,” explained lead author Ines Melendez, a PhD student at the Curtin University.

 

“It’s like walking in on a crime scene, when all the evidence is still intact. Not only do we know the organism was a crustacean from the abundance of cholestane it contained, but we also know it was in a toxic ocean environment, from the biomarkers associated with the sulfate–reducing bacteria and Chlorobi. By looking at the biomarkers and stable isotopes of fossils, we are able to reconstruct past environments, and can apply this technique to other ages of geological time,” Melendez said.

 

Curtin University scientists collected the unique fossil from the Gogo Formation in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. “This research suggests the Devonian Period had similar paleoenvironmental conditions to the largest extinction event in the past 600 million years, where it was proved toxic concentrations of hydrogen-sulfide in ancient oceans, rather than a meteorite, were largely responsible for wiping out mass populations,” said study co-author Prof Kliti Grice of the Curtin University.


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Biomolecular Movie-Making with Atomic Force Microscopy

Biomolecular Movie-Making with Atomic Force Microscopy | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Toshio Ando and co-workers at Kanazawa University have developed and used high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) to achieve direct visualization of dynamic structural changes and processes of functioning biological molecules in physiological solution — creating microscopic movies of unprecedented sub-100-ms temporal resolution and submolecular spatial resolution.

 

To produce an image, HS-AFM acquires information on sample height at many points by tapping the sample with the sharp tip of a tiny cantilever and dragging the sharp tip of a tiny cantilever across the sample. Depending on the application, this might involve recording the distance of deflection, the amplitude and phase of oscillations, or the resonant frequency of the cantilever.

 

Ando and co-workers use very small cantilevers that provide 10 to 20 times the sensitivity of larger, conventional cantilevers. Copies of their home-made apparatus are now commercially available through the manufacturer Research Institute of Biomolecule Metrology Co., Ltd in Tsukuba, and record images at least ten times more quickly than their competitors.


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Keeping the Standard Kilogram From Gaining Weight Is a Constant Struggle

Keeping the Standard Kilogram From Gaining Weight Is a Constant Struggle | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

After more than a century, the international prototype kilogram – a cylindrical chunk of metal stored in a French vault – doesn’t weigh the same as its 40 replicas, distributed worldwide and used to standardize mass measurements. Suspecting that gunk accumulating on the metallic surfaces is to blame, scientists at Newcastle University have developed a high-tech way to clean the standards.

 

If the washing protocol makes it into labs around the world, it could help with the problem of drifting masses – at least until a different standard kilogram is developed, one that relies on a fundamental physical constantrather than on an actual thing.

 

“It sounds good,” said Richard Davis, a physicist and former head of the Mass Section at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France. “The technique they’re proposing is something that is not that expensive and could be implemented in different places without too much trouble.”

 

Forged from platinum and iridium in London, the official international standard has, since 1889, been stored in a vault near Paris belonging to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. In 1884, 40 replicas of the roughly 2.2-pound cylinder were made; in 1889, 34 of the replicas were sent to countries around the world. They were supposed to be the kilo’s twins.

 

But in the late 1980s, scientists noticed that the original kilogram was about 50 micrograms lighter than its brethren. Because mass measurements are relative, it’s tough to determine whether the replicas are getting heavier or the original is getting lighter. Peter Cumpson, a metrologist at Newcastle, suspects that a good cleaning could help restore balance to the masses. But the cleaning of a standard must, of course, be standard and reproducible. Though the metal cylinders are bathed fairly regularly, the process involves hand-washing, which introduces mechanical rubbing that’s hard to reproduce; what scientists need is “a much more repeatable, controllable, reproducible method of cleaning these kilograms,” Cumpson said.


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2,200 year-old ancient medicinal tablets found in ship wreck off Italian coast

2,200 year-old ancient medicinal tablets found in ship wreck off Italian coast | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Two thousand years ago, people could not go to the nearest pharmacy for Cold-Eeze, but they appear to have concocted their very own zinc remedy, according to a new analysis of ancient remnants.

 

Scientists have characterized the mineralogical and chemical ingredients of medicine from a 2,200-year-old shipwreck, revealing new insights into the pharmaceutical practices of the ancient world.

 

A number of small, airtight tin containers thought to contain substances for therapeutic use were recovered from the remains of the shipwreck, discovered off the coast of Italy in the late 1980s. When scientists later unsealed one of the small containers, they found six well-preserved, grey tablets, each approximately the shape of a circular makeup sponge.

 

A preliminary DNA analysis of the tablets in 2010 had revealed around a dozen herbal components, including carrots, parsley and wild onion, bound by clay. However, the total composition and medicinal characteristics remained unknown until now.

 

To explore potential medicinal uses, researchers employed a combination of analytical techniques, including mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction, and spectroscopy.

 

They found that inorganic elements accounted for 80% of the total sample. Zinc, in the form of hydrozincite and smithsonite minerals, was by far the most abundant component, comprising three-quarters of the inorganic elements. Organic components, like wheat flour, vegetable and animal fats, beeswax, pollen grains, and other herbs accounted for the other 20%. “The research highlights the presence of zinc compounds as the active ingredients,” says Gianna Giachi, a chemist at the Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Tuscany, in Florence, Italy.


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Quantum Stealth Invisibility Cloak Gets Pentagon Backing

Quantum Stealth Invisibility Cloak Gets Pentagon Backing | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

The United States military is reportedly backing a Canadian company's development of a material that can render soldiers invisible, according to news reports. Maple Ridge, B.C.-based Hyperstealth Biotechnology has developed "Quantum Stealth," a type of camouflage that bends light around the wearer or an object to create the illusion of invisibility. President and CEO Guy Cramer likened the new technology to Harry Potter's invisibility cloak during a recent CNN appearance, and described its ability to easily and effectively hide a soldier in different environments.

 

"Unless you walked right into them, you wouldn't know that they were there," Cramer said. The material doesn't require batteries, projectors or cameras. It is also inexpensive and lightweight, according to Hyperstealth's website.

For security reasons, the company will not provide public demonstrations, only mockup photos. But Canadian military groups and the U.S. Federal Emergency Response Team have seen the technology and can back up his claims. Cramer described the material's incredible value to soldiers who carry out operations during the day, or those who are trying to evade their enemy, the Daily Mail reported. Beyond that, the technology could have use on a larger scale, on submarines, tanks or aircrafts.

 


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MIT discovers a new state of matter, a new kind of magnetism

MIT discovers a new state of matter, a new kind of magnetism | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
Researchers at MIT have discovered a new state of matter with a new kind of magnetism. This new state, called a quantum spin liquid (QSL), could lead to significant advances in data storage.

 

Researchers at MIT have discovered a new state of matter with a new kind of magnetism. This new state, called a quantum spin liquid (QSL), could lead to significant advances in data storage. QSLs also exhibit a quantum phenomenon called long-range entanglement, which could lead to new types of communications systems, and more.

 

Generally, when we talk about magnetism’s role in the realm of technology, there are just two types: Ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism. Ferromagnetism has been known about for centuries, and is the underlying force behind your compass’s spinning needle or the permanent bar magnets you played with at school. In ferromagnets, the spin (i.e. charge) of every electron is aligned in the same direction, causing two distinct poles. In antiferromagnets, neighboring electrons point in the opposite direction, causing the object to have zero net magnetism (pictured below). In combination with ferromagnets, antiferromagnets are used to create spin valves: the magnetic sensors used in hard drive heads.

 

In the case of quantum spin liquids, the material is a solid crystal — but the internal magnetic state is constantly in flux. The magnetic orientations of the electrons (their magnetic moment) fluctuate as they interact with other nearby electrons. “But there is a strong interaction between them, and due to quantum effects, they don’t lock in place,” says Young Lee, senior author of the research. It is these strong interactions that apparently allow for long-range quantum entanglement.


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Algae can be a big cost-cutter in making drugs

Algae can be a big cost-cutter in making drugs | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Expensive biotech drugs now made in high-tech manufacturing plants can be grown much more cheaply in genetically engineered algae, according to a paper published Monday in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

Manufacturing costs can be reduced by 90 percent for these drugs, translating into half off their sales price, said Stephen Mayfield, a UC San Diego professor and senior author of the paper. The savings would provide financial relief to patients, health insurers and the federal government -- and the technology could boost San Diego's growing algae biotech sector.

 

The technology could make obsolete the manufacturing plants that grow specialized mammal cells in carefully monitored and chemically controlled vats, plants that cost hundreds of millions to build.

In their place would stand greenhouses containing transparent plastic bags filled with algae, water and diluted fertilizer. In Mayfield’s vision, scientists will design drugs on a computer, get the appropriate DNA by mail order from a manufacturer, then slip the DNA into the algae of choice. Ramping up production would be simply a matter of adding more bags.


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Alan Yoshioka's curator insight, December 28, 2012 5:28 PM

Algae photobioreactors can easily be planned into vertical farms to provide some additional high end cash flows to boost economics of the facilities ...

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First 'Alien Earth' Will Be Found in 2013, Experts Predict

First 'Alien Earth' Will Be Found in 2013, Experts Predict | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe.

 

While astronomers have found a number of exoplanets over the last few years that share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — they have yet to bag a bona fide "alien Earth." But that should change in 2013, scientists say.

 

Exoplanets are piling up. Astronomers discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star in 1995. Since they, they've spotted more than 800 worlds beyond our own solar system, and many more candidates await confirmation by follow-up observations. NASA's prolific Kepler Space Telescope, for example, has flagged more than 2,300 potential planets since its March 2009 launch. Only 100 or so have been confirmed to date, but mission scientists estimate that at least 80 percent will end up being the real deal.

 

"The first planet with a measured size, orbit and incident stellar flux that is suitable for life is likely to be announced in 2013," said Geoff Marcy, a veteran planet hunter at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the Kepler team. Marcy thinks this watershed find will be made by Kepler, which spots planets by flagging the telltale brightness dips caused when they pass in front of their parent stars from the instrument's perspective. Kepler needs to witness three of these"transits" to detect a planet, so its early discoveries were tilted toward close-orbiting worlds (which transit more frequently). But over time, the telescope has been spotting more and more distantly orbiting planets — including some in the habitable zone.

 

Whenever the first Earth twin is confirmed, the discovery will likely have a profound effect on humanity. "We humans will look up into the night sky, much as we gaze across a large ocean," Marcy told SPACE.com via email. "We will know that the cosmic ocean contains islands and continents by the billions, able to support both primitive life and entire civilizations."

Marcy hopes such a find will prod our species to take its first real steps beyond its native solar system.

 

"Humanity will close its collective eyes, and set sail for Alpha Centauri," Marcy said, referring to the closest star system to our own, where an Earth-size planet was discovered earlier this year. "The small steps for humanity will be a giant leap for our species. Sending robotic probes to the nearest stars will constitute the greatest adventure we Homo sapiens have ever attempted," Marcy added. "This massive undertaking will require the cooperation and contribution from all major nations around world. In so doing, we will take our first tentative steps into the cosmic ocean and enhance our shared sense of purpose on this terrestrial shore."

 

 


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Magnetic shell provides unprecedented control of magnetic fields

Magnetic shell provides unprecedented control of magnetic fields | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A general property of magnetic fields is that they decay with the distance from their magnetic source. But in a new study, physicists have shown that surrounding a magnetic source with a magnetic shell can enhance the magnetic field as it moves away from the source, allowing magnetic energy to be transferred to a distant location through empty space. By reversing this technique, the scientists showed that the transferred magnetic energy can be captured by a second magnetic shell located some distance away from the first shell. The second shell can then concentrate the captured magnetic energy into a small interior region. The achievement represents an unprecedented ability to transport and concentrate magnetic energy, and could have applications in the wireless transmission of energy, medical techniques, and other areas.

 

The image shows the newly designed magnetic shell can either expel or concentrate magnetic energy. In the left panels, a small dipole magnet in (a) is surrounded by a magnetic shell in (b), which expels its magnetic energy further outward. In (c), a second shell harvests the energy and concentrates it into its center hole; in this way, magnetic energy is transferred through empty space. In the right panels, two dipole magnets in (d) are surrounded by shells in (e) that expel their magnetic energy. As shown in (f), the result is magnetic coupling between the two dipoles.


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It's time to stop being obsessed about the dangers of knowing what's in your genome

It's time to stop being obsessed about the dangers of knowing what's in your genome | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

There are lots of popular articles I could point to, but let’s start with a recent series in Time that included eight online features and the Dec. 13 cover story, ominously titled “The DNA Dilemma.”

 

The series, written by Bonnie Rochman, is thoroughly reported, balanced, and full of fascinating personal stories about children whose genomes have been sequenced. It’s also timely: The primary question Rochman raises—how much information is too much information?—has been dominating commentaries about genetic testing in the medical literature.

 

But this is the wrong question, or at least one that’s becoming increasingly irrelevant. The personal genomics horse has bolted, and yet many paternalistic members of the medical community are still trying to shut the barn door. In doing so, they’re fostering a culture of DNA fear when what we really need is a realistic and nuanced genetics education.

 

There are many kinds of genetic tests, but most of the hoopla revolves around whole-genome sequences—the impossibly long, letter-by-letter readouts of the DNA inside the nucleus of each of your cells. In 2003, the first human genome was fully sequenced for just shy of $3 billion. Today a doctor can order yours for around $10,000.

 

Though dropping every day, the cost is still prohibitive enough that most people who get their genome sequenced are part of a medical research study. But the technology is beginning to seep into everyday clinical settings, especially for children with rare diseases. In either situation, the doctor or researcher might inadvertently discover genomic information—known as “incidental findings” in the scientific literature and “dark DNA secrets” in one of the Timearticles—that has nothing to do with the child’s sickness or the study at hand. Hence the big dilemma: How much do patients want to know? How much do they need to know?


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Radiocarbon Dating: Nature's Timepiece Gets a Tune-Up

Radiocarbon Dating: Nature's Timepiece Gets a Tune-Up | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

It’s relatively easy for scientists to see the signature of droughts and other climate events in the prehistoric past by digging into underground or seafloor sediments, or drilling into ancient ice. In order to say exactly when these events happened, though, you need a reliable natural dating method, and even the best of these is flawed.

 

However, one of the most familiar of these timelines, known as radiocarbon dating, just got a lot more precise. According to a paper published in the journal Science, measurements from the bottom of Japan’s Lake Suigetsu have allowed scientists to improve the technique dramatically.

 

Now, thanks to those lake sediments, scientists can narrow that range down to just 10 years or less -- but only if the sample is between 11,000 and 53,000 years old. Younger and there hasn't been enough breakdown in the radioactive carbon. Older, and the lake's sediments don't go back that far.

 

This impressive achievement comes thanks to Lake Suigetsu’s calm waters, and also from the lucky fact that the plant matter that drifts into the water and sinks to the bottom is light-colored in winter and dark in summer. The result: alternating layers under the lake bottom that make it easy to identify every year, one after the other, going well back into the last Ice Age.


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Quantum gas goes below absolute zero: Ultracold atoms pave way for negative-Kelvin materials

Quantum gas goes below absolute zero: Ultracold atoms pave way for negative-Kelvin materials | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

It may sound less likely than hell freezing over, but physicists have created an atomic gas with a sub-absolute-zero temperature for the first time. Their technique opens the door to generating negative-Kelvin materials and new quantum devices, and it could even help to solve a cosmological mystery.

 

Lord Kelvin defined the absolute temperature scale in the mid-1800s in such a way that nothing could be colder than absolute zero. Physicists later realized that the absolute temperature of a gas is related to the average energy of its particles. Absolute zero corresponds to the theoretical state in which particles have no energy at all, and higher temperatures correspond to higher average energies.

 

However, by the 1950s, physicists working with more exotic systems began to realize that this isn't always true: Technically, you read off the temperature of a system from a graph that plots the probabilities of its particles being found with certain energies. Normally, most particles have average or near-average energies, with only a few particles zipping around at higher energies. In theory, if the situation is reversed, with more particles having higher, rather than lower, energies, the plot would flip over and the sign of the temperature would change from a positive to a negative absolute temperature, explains Ulrich Schneider, a physicist at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.

 

Schneider and his colleagues reached such sub-absolute-zero temperatures with an ultracold quantum gas made up of potassium atoms. Using lasers and magnetic fields, they kept the individual atoms in a lattice arrangement. At positive temperatures, the atoms repel, making the configuration stable. The team then quickly adjusted the magnetic fields, causing the atoms to attract rather than repel each other. “This suddenly shifts the atoms from their most stable, lowest-energy state to the highest possible energy state, before they can react,” says Schneider. “It’s like walking through a valley, then instantly finding yourself on the mountain peak.”

 

At positive temperatures, such a reversal would be unstable and the atoms would collapse inwards. But the team also adjusted the trapping laser field to make it more energetically favourable for the atoms to stick in their positions. This result, described today in Science, marks the gas’s transition from just above absolute zero to a few billionths of a Kelvin below absolute zero. Wolfgang Ketterle, a physicist and Nobel laureate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who has previously demonstrated negative absolute temperatures in a magnetic system, calls the latest work an “experimental tour de force”. Exotic high-energy states that are hard to generate in the laboratory at positive temperatures become stable at negative absolute temperatures — “as though you can stand a pyramid on its head and not worry about it toppling over,” he notes — and so such techniques can allow these states to be studied in detail. “This may be a way to create new forms of matter in the laboratory,” Ketterle adds.


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Rare Water-Rich Mars Meteorite Discovered

Rare Water-Rich Mars Meteorite Discovered | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A rare Martian meteorite recently found in Morocco contains minerals with 10 times more water than previously discovered Mars meteorites, a finding that raises new questions about when and how long the Mars had conditions suitable for life.

 

The rock is believed to be similar to those studied by NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on opposite sides of Mars in 2004 to look for signs of past water. Spirit is no longer operational, but in August Opportunity was joined by the new and more sophisticated Curiosity rover, which will be searching for chemistry and environmental conditions necessary to support microbial life.

 

The meteorite, known as Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, is the second-oldest of 110 named stones originating from Mars that have been retrieved on Earth. Purchased from a Moroccan meteorite dealer in 2011, the black, baseball-sized stone, which weighs less than 1 pound, is 2.1 billon years old, meaning it formed during what is known as the early Amazonian era in Mars' geologic history. The only older Mars meteorite found so far is the 4-billion-year-old Allan Hills 84001 Antarctica stone that was the source of speculation about microfossils in 1996.

 

Early Mars was believed to be warm and wet, but the planet lost most of its atmosphere and its surface water to become a cold, dry desert that appears today.


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Deadliest and Costliest Hurricanes in the US (Infographic)

Deadliest and Costliest Hurricanes in the US (Infographic) | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it
The deadliest hurricane in the period since 1851 hit Texas in 1900 and claimed 8,000 lives.

 

Hurricane Sandy, which struck the U.S. in October 2012, is estimated to have caused upward of 110 fatalities in the U.S. and $50 billion in damage (in 2012 dollars). The deadliest hurricane to strike the United States since 1851 was the Galveston, Texas hurricane of Sept. 1900. The category 4 storm claimed 8,000 lives by most reports, although the true toll may have been as high as 12,000. The costliest hurricane was the 1926 category 4 storm that hit southeast Florida in 1926. The unnamed storm caused $165 billion in damage (in 2005 dollars).

 

By comparison, 2005’s hurricane Katrina had the third-highest death toll, killing 1,200. Katrina was the second costliest hurricane, with $113 billion in damage (2005 dollars). Another extremely costly hurricane was 1992’s Andrew, which did $59 billion worth of damage in southeast Florida and Louisiana.

 

The practice of giving storms names became widespread in World War II. Initially, only female names were used, but since 1979, storms have been given both male and female names. Damage amounts and death tolls are from an August, 2011 study by NOAA entitled “The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2010 (and Other Frequently Requested Hurricane Facts.”


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Promising compound restores memory loss and reverses symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Promising compound restores memory loss and reverses symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

New research in the FASEB Journal by NIH scientists suggests that a small molecule called TFP5 rescues plaques and tangles by blocking an overactive brain signal, thereby restoring memory in mice with Alzheimer’s — without obvious toxic side effects.

 

“We hope that clinical trial studies in AD patients yield an extended and a better quality of life, as observed in mice upon TFP5 treatment,” said Harish C. Pant, Ph.D., a senior researcher involved in the work from the Laboratory of Neurochemistry at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders at Stroke at the National Institutes of Health.

 

“We suggest that TFP5 should be an effective therapeutic compound.”

To make this discovery, Pant and colleagues used mice with a disease considered the equivalent of Alzheimer’s. One set of these mice were injected with the small molecule TFP5, while the other was injected with saline as placebo. The mice, after a series of intraperitoneal injections of TFP5, displayed a substantial reduction in the various disease symptoms along with restoration of memory loss.

 

In addition, the mice receiving TFP5 injections experienced no weight loss, neurological stress (anxiety) or signs of toxicity. The disease in the placebo mice, however, progressed normally as expected.

 

TFP5 was derived from the regulator of a key brain enzyme, called Cdk5. Over-activation of Cdk5 is implicated in the formation of plaques and tangles, the major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.


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pdeppisch's comment, January 8, 2013 3:40 PM
That would be nice as both my parents died from Alzheimer's as best I could tell.
Audrey's comment, January 8, 2013 5:20 PM
If this is true, then it would be fantastic.
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Genetically engineered bacteria make fuel from sunlight

Genetically engineered bacteria make fuel from sunlight | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Chemists at the University of California, Davis, have engineered blue-green algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics — the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry.

 

Biological reactions are good at forming carbon-carbon bonds, using carbon dioxide as a raw material for reactions powered by sunlight. It’s called photosynthesis, and cyanobacteria, also known as “blue-green algae,” have been doing it for more than 3 billion years.

 

Using cyanobacteria to grow chemicals has other advantages: they do not compete with food needs, like corn’s role in the creation of ethanol.

The challenge is to get the cyanobacteria to make significant amounts of chemicals that can be readily converted to chemical feedstocks. With support from Japanese chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei Corp., Atsumi’s lab at UC Davis has been working on introducing new chemical pathways into the cyanobacteria.

 

The researchers identified enzymes from online databases that carried out the reactions they were looking for, and then introduced the DNA for these enzymes into the cells. Working a step at a time, they built up a three-step pathway that allows the cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide into 2,3 butanediol, a chemical that can be used to make paint, solvents, plastics and fuels.

 

Because enzymes may work differently in different organisms, it is nearly impossible to predict how well the pathway will work before testing it in an experiment, Atsumi said. After three weeks growth, the cyanobacteria yielded 2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per liter of growth medium — the highest productivity yet achieved for chemicals grown by cyanobacteria and with potential for commercial development, Atsumi said.

 

Atsumi hopes to tune the system to increase productivity further and experiment with other products, while corporate partners explore scaling up the technology.


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Fake mission to Mars leaves astronauts spaced out

Fake mission to Mars leaves astronauts spaced out | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A real mission to Mars would take about 520 days—including the months it takes to travel there and back and the time spent on the Red Planet. But the longest any human has spent off Earth is 437 days straight, a record set in 1995 by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who was orbiting relatively close to home in the space station Mir. Polyakovseemed to bear the burden of long space flight fairly well, but many questions remain about just what a long mission farther from the sun would do to astronauts' ability to sleep and keep energized.

 

The $10m (£6.2m) Mars500 project, run by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems, launched, metaphorically, when the hatch to the mock-up spaceship closed behind three Russians, two Europeans and a Chinese man in June 2010. The men spent the next 520 days in windowless isolation. Their only contact with the outside world was over the internet and by phone lines that carried a delay of up to 20 minutes, to mimic the time it takes radio waves to reach Mars from Earth.

 

Throughout the mission, the men endured daily medical, physical and psychological examinations, to help space agencies learn how humans cope with the stress, confinement and limited company that astronauts will face on future voyages. The crew fought boredom by watching DVDs, reading books and playing Guitar Hero on a games console. Mission controllers faked a fire and a power outage to keep them alert.

 

The ESA selected the crew from thousands of highly qualified applicants, and put them through a year of intensive training. But despite embodying "the right stuff" that underpins the astronaut corps, the men struggled with the tedium of the mission.

 

"The monotony of going to Mars and coming back again is something that will need to be addressed in the future. You don't want your crew hanging around doing nothing," Basner said.


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Creating chicken-free chicken: Plant-based product supposed to taste like real chicken

Creating chicken-free chicken: Plant-based product supposed to taste like real chicken | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

A new production plant near Columbia is testing whether it will be able to market a product that looks and tastes like chicken but has no actual chicken in it. It is part of an expansion by vegan meat company Savage River Inc. for its Beyond Meat brand, using technology licensed from the University of Missouri.

 

The plant is producing a chicken substitute made of soy protein, pea protein and carrot fiber. The dry ingredients are mixed with water and heated. The process is designed to create a plant-based product that not only tastes like chicken but also shreds like meat and chews like chicken.

 

The plant in Columbia is a combined effort from entrepreneur Ethan Brown and two University of Missouri food scientists who have worked for about two decades to get the “texturized vegetable protein” just right. “Our very first attempts were total failures,” said Harold Huff, senior research specialist in biological engineering. “For it to appeal to us, when all is said and done, it has to chew right.”

 

Fu-Hung Hsieh, biological engineering and food science professor, said the scientists figured out how to form the fibers in the 1990s but couldn’t make the product consistent. A research grant allowed them to use more ingredients in larger batches, which stabilized the process. Soy is the base because of its availability and affordability and because some people are sensitive to wheat gluten, he said.


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The world's longest high-speed rail line enters operation in China

The world's longest high-speed rail line enters operation in China | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

China is currently expanding its high-speed rail network across the vast country and has now officially opened the world's longest high-speed rail route, linking the capital Beijing with the southern commercial hub of Guangzhou. Trains will initially travel at 300km/h (187mph), more than halving travel time.

 

A Chinese official has described the route - parts of which were already in operation - as "one of the most technically advanced in the world". The 2,298km route will have 35 stops. They include such major cities as Wuhan and Changsha. The previously 22-hour journey will now take less than 10 hours. The decision was taken to start the passenger service on 26 December to commemorate the birth of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, state media said.


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Earth tide measurements provide the 'speed of gravity' which turns out identical to speed of light

Earth tide measurements provide the 'speed of gravity' which turns out identical to speed of light | Science Communication from mdashf | Scoop.it

Based on the Newtonian formula for the gravity of Earth's tides, a Chinese research team has found that gravity travels at the speed of light. After correcting out  the phase lag due to the anelasticity of the Earth, they found that the speed of gravity is between 0.93 to 1.05 times the speed of light with a relative error of about 5%. This provides first set of strong evidences to show that the speed of gravity is the same as the speed of light.


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