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Scientists Convert a 53,000-Word Book Into DNA

Scientists Convert a 53,000-Word Book Into DNA | Weird Science | Scoop.it

In a scientific first, Harvard University researches successfully transformed a 53,426-word book into DNA, the same substance that provides the genetic template for all living things. The achievement could eventually lead to the mass adoption of DNA as a long-term storage medium.

 

Published Thursday in the journal Science, the experiment aimed to demonstrate the viability of storing large amounts of data on DNA molecules. Since the data is recorded on individual nucleobase pairs in the DNA strand (those adenine-guanine/cytosine-thymine pairs you may be straining to remember from high school biology), DNA can actually store more information per cubic millimeter than flash memory or even some experimental storage techs

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3D footage from inside a flying insect

3D footage from inside a flying insect | Weird Science | Scoop.it

A team of scientists from Oxford University, Imperial College, and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland have used very intense X-rays to film inside an insect as it flies.

 

The footage is a 3D reconstruction, made up of several X-ray images, and shows a blowfly's flight motor - the anatomy that powers its flight.

The researchers say the videos offer a glimpse into the inner workings of one of nature's most complex mechanisms.

 

Dr Simon Walker from Oxford's animal flight group told the BBC: "We hope that this research will [prove] useful towards the design of micro-mechanical systems, including micro air vehicles that aim to replicate insect flight."

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An Ocean of Viruses

An Ocean of Viruses | Weird Science | Scoop.it

here are an estimated 1031viruses on Earth. That is to say: there may be a hundred million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the universe. The majority of these viruses infect microbes, including bacteria, archaea, and microeukaryotes, all of which are vital players in the global fixation and cycling of key elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These two facts combined—the sheer number of viruses and their intimate relationship with microbial life—suggest that viruses, too, play a critical role in the planet’s biosphere.

Of all the Earth’s biomes, the ocean has emerged as the source for major discoveries on the interaction of viruses with their microbial hosts.Ocean viruses were the inspiration for early hypotheses of the so-called “viral shunt,” by which viral killing of microbial hosts redirects carbon and nutrients away from larger organisms and back toward other microorganisms.Furthermore, researchers analyzing oceanic life have discovered many novel viruses that defy much of the conventional wisdom about what a virus is and what a virus does.

Among these discoveries are “giant” marine viruses, with capsid cross-sections that can exceed 500 nm, an order of magnitude larger than prototypical viruses. Giant viruses infect eukaryotic hosts, including the protist Cafeteria and unicellular green algae.These viruses also carry genomes larger than nearly all previously identified viral types, in some cases upwards of 1 million base pairs. In both marine and nonmarine contexts, researchers have even identified viruses that can infect giant viruses, the so-called virophages, a modern biological example of Jonathan Swift’s 17th-century aphorism: “a flea/ Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;/ And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em;/ And so proceed ad infinitum.”

It is apparent that we still have much to learn about the rich and dynamic world of ocean microbes and viruses. For example, a liter of seawater collected in marine surface waters typically contains at least 10 billion microbes and 100 billion viruses—the vast majority of which remain unidentified and uncharacterized. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of high-throughput tools that facilitate the study of bacteriophages and other microbe-infecting viruses that cannot yet be cultured in the laboratory. Indeed, studying viruses in natural environments has recently gone mainstream with the advent of viral metagenomics, pioneered by Forest Rohwer and colleagues at San Diego State University in California.

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Gene activity and transcript patterns visualized for the first time in thousands of single cells

Gene activity and transcript patterns visualized for the first time in thousands of single cells | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Biologists of the University of Zurich have developed a method to visualize the activity of genes in single cells. The method is so efficient that, for the first time, a thousand genes can be studied in parallel in ten thousand single human cells. Applications lie in fields of basic research and medical diagnostics. The new method shows that the activity of genes, and the spatial organization of the resulting transcript molecules, strongly vary between single cells.

Whenever cells activate a gene, they produce gene specific transcript molecules, which make the function of the gene available to the cell. The measurement of gene activity is a routine activity in medical diagnostics, especially in cancer medicine. Today's technologies determine the activity of genes by measuring the amount of transcript molecules. However, these technologies can neither measure the amount of transcript molecules of one thousand genes in ten thousand single cells, nor the spatial organization of transcript molecules within a single cell. The fully automated procedure, developed by biologists of the University of Zurich under the supervision of Prof. Lucas Pelkmans, allows, for the first time, a parallel measurement of the amount and spatial organization of single transcript molecules in ten thousands single cells. The results, which were recently published in the scientific journal Nature Methods, provide completely novel insights into the variability of gene activity of single cells.

 

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Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Bee-Holder

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Bee-Holder | Weird Science | Scoop.it

For a lot of people, the sight of a bee or wasp is enough to illicit some kind of visceral reaction. But a bee at 1:1 magnification becomes something a little more awe-inspiring.

 

"We know the average American reaction to insects," says Sam Droege, Head of the U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab. But, he says, "At this scale none of them are ugly."

 

Droege's job is to develop large scale surveys of plants and animals and to monitor individual species. For the past 10 years, his lab has been trying to track the decline of bees, but ran into a problem: most people can't identify different species of bees. According to Droege, there are approximately 4000 bee species in North America, and around 400-500 have never been described.

"We needed some good pictures," he said. "We [needed] really high definition pictures that people can drill into and say 'You know the pattern of the crosshatching between the pits on the skin of the upper part of the bee is really different than this one.'"

 

So Droege fine-tuned a system of photography that was originally designed by the military. He shoots with a high-quality 60mm macro lens that fills the entire area of a full-frame sensor camera. He then uses what is called a to incrementally move the camera and take a series of images that he later pieces together to create one image entirely in focus.

 

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50 unbelievable facts about Earth: Awesome Infographic

50 unbelievable facts about Earth: Awesome Infographic | Weird Science | Scoop.it

The longest amount a time a Tardigrade, the hardiest animal in existence, can exist in a vacuum is 10 days. If you love facts like this, then you'll love 49 others in the "unbelievable facts about Earth

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The Most Amazing Map You’ll See Today (No Matter What Day It Is) : Out There

The Most Amazing Map You’ll See Today (No Matter What Day It Is) : Out There | Weird Science | Scoop.it

There are many way to celebrate your 70th birthday. You could sit down in front of a cake packed tight with flaming candles. You could go bowling with your buds wearing a T-shirt that says, “Over the hill–and picking up speed.” Or you could help put together the most amazing, three-dimensional map of the universe ever created.



Brent Tully opted for door #3.

 

Tully, a cosmologist at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, has probably done more than any other single living scientist to help uncover what the universe looks like in three dimensions. That’s no small challenge. As anyone knows from looking up a the night sky, appearances alone tell you almost nothing about which stars are near and which are  far. The same goes for galaxies. Measuring their distances is so difficult that less than a century many astronomers doubted that other galaxies even existed. At the time, some of the leading researchers thought that what we now call galaxies were actually “spiral nebulae”–small, nearby clouds of gas that were turning into individual stars. That is the kind of challenge that Tully has taken on, with staggering results.

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Scientists Invent Oxygen Particle That If Injected, Allows You To Live Without Breathing

Scientists Invent Oxygen Particle That If Injected, Allows You To Live Without Breathing | Weird Science | Scoop.it

A team of scientists at the Boston Children’s Hospital have invented what is being considered one the greatest medical breakthroughs in recent years. They have designed a microparticle that can be injected into a person’s bloodstream that can quickly oxygenate their blood. This will even work if the ability to breathe has been restricted, or even cut off entirely.

 

This finding has the potential to save millions of lives every year. The microparticles can keep an object alive for up to 30 min after respiratory failure. This is accomplished through an injection into the patients’ veins. Once injected, the microparticles can oxygenate the blood to near normal levels. This has countless potential uses as it allows life to continue when oxygen is needed but unavailable. For medical personnel, this is just enough time to avoid risking a heart attack or permanent brain injury when oxygen is restricted or cut off to patients.

 

Dr. John Kheir, who first began the study, works in the Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Cardiology. He found inspiration for the drug in 2006, when he was treating a girl in the ICU who had a sever case of pneumonia. At the time, the girl didn’t have a breathing tube, when at the time she suffered from a pulmonary hemorrhage. This means her lungs had begin to fill up with blood, and she finally went into cardiac arrest. It took doctors about 25 minutes to remove enough blood from her lungs to allow her to breath. Though, the girl’s brain was severely injured due to being deprived of oxygen for that long and she eventually died.

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The extraordinary courtship dance of Australia's peacock spider

The extraordinary courtship dance of Australia's peacock spider | Weird Science | Scoop.it

One of the most common phobias in the world is arachnophobia, the irrational fear of spiders. But there is one sort of spider out there that is so cute that even arachnophobes may like them.

I am talking about those diminutive jumping spiders (Family: Salticidae). Not only are these spiders very small, but they are generally colourful and they have keen eyesight -- essential for stalking and quickly jumping upon their prey since they do not spin webs to ensnare insects.

It's possible that I may be projecting just a wee bit, but jumping spiders seem to have personalities and, as one zoology professor told me when I was a grad student, they even learn to recognize their human care-givers.

But to my eyes, the most remarkable of all jumping spiders are those in the genus Maratus. Although only eight species have been formally described so far, at least 20 species are known, and all of them are found only in Australia.


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Scientists Decode Dreams With Brain Scans

Scientists Decode Dreams With Brain Scans | Weird Science | Scoop.it

It used to be that what happened in your dreams was your own little secret. But today scientists report for the first time that they’ve successfully decoded details of people’s dreams using brain scans.

 

Before you reach for your tin hat, you should know that the scientists managed this feat only with the full cooperation of their research subjects, and they only decoded dreams after the fact, not in real time. The thought police won’t be busting you for renting bowling shoes from Saddam Hussein or whatever else you’ve been up to in your dreams.

 

All the same, the work is yet another impressive step for researchers interested in decoding mental states from brain activity, and it opens the door to a new way of studying dreaming, one of the most mysterious and fascinating aspects of the human experience.

 

In the first part of the new study, neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitani and colleagues at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan monitored three young men as they tried to get some sleep inside an fMRI scanner while the machine monitored their brain activity. The researchers also monitored each volunteer’s brain activity with EEG electrodes, and when they saw an EEG signature indicative of dreaming, they woke him up to ask what he’d been dreaming about.

 

Technically speaking, this is what researchers call ”hypnagogic imagery,” the dream-like state that occurs as people fall asleep. In the interest of saving time, Kamitani and colleagues chose to study this type of imagery rather than the dreams that tend to occur during REM sleep later in the night. They woke up each subject at least 200 times over the course of several days to build up a database of dream reports.

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Brain Map: President Obama Proposes First Detailed Guide of Human Brain Function

Brain Map: President Obama Proposes First Detailed Guide of Human Brain Function | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Researchers have learned an enormous amount about how we think, what drives our behaviors, and why we feel the way we do since President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the 1990s the “decade of the brain,” but many fundamental questions about the three-pound universe remain unanswered.  So President Obama has proposed a Brain Activity Map (BAM) project to reveal some of these remaining secrets, using the Human Genome Project as a model. Not all scientists, however, are on board.

 

In his state of the union speech, the President noted that every dollar invested in the human genome project “returned $140 to our economy.” With some $3.8 billion spent over 13 years, the resulting gene-based boon turned out to be $796 billion in new jobs, medical treatments, increased salaries and other benefits, according to a 2011 analysis conducted for the federal government.  Although medical care has not advanced as much as initially expected because — surprise — the science of genetics is more complex than scientists had anticipated, the data is continuing to yield fruit and promises to provide more value in years to come.

 

The BAM project hopes to offer returns of equal or greater value, although the amount of funding has not yet been determined.  The New York Times reports that scientists hope for at least as much money as was devoted to the genome project— $300 million a year for at least ten years— but what the administration will seek as part of the proposed budget and where the money will come from is not yet clear.

The goal is to produce the first map of brain function to explore every signal sent by every cell and track how the resulting data flows through neural networks and is ultimately translated into thoughts, feelings and actions.  While work is already underway to understand the wiring diagram of the whole brain— known as the connectome— this project would go beyond that to try to understand what this circuitry actually does.

 

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A monkey that controls a robot with its thoughts. No, really (TEDtalks)

Can we use our brains to directly control machines -- without requiring a body as the middleman? Miguel Nicolelis talks through an astonishing experiment, in which a clever monkey in the US learns to control a monkey avatar, and then a robot arm in Japan, purely with its thoughts. The research has big implications for quadraplegic people -- and maybe for all of us

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Feeding the Final Frontier: 3-D Printers Could Make Astronaut Meals

Feeding the Final Frontier: 3-D Printers Could Make Astronaut Meals | Weird Science | Scoop.it

With 3-D printers coming of age, engineers are starting to expand the possible list of materials they might work with. The early work in food has been in making desserts – a Japanese company lets you order your sweetheart a creepy chocolate 3-D model of their head – but some researchers are already thinking of what comes next. The Fab@Home team at Cornell University has developed gel-like substances called hydrocolloids that can be extruded and built up into different shapes. By mixing in flavoring agents, they can produce a range of tastes and textures.

 

A 3-D printer could mix vitamins and amino acids into a meal to provide nutrients and boost productivity. There are limitations to the types of fresh foods that can be grown in space – NASA says some of the best crops for a Mars mission are lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes. With that you could make a salad, but a 3-D printer could manufacture croutons or protein-dense supplements. The device could take up less space than a supply of packets of food and, because each item is custom built, would help cut down on waste.

 

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3D Printer Spits out Human Embryonic Stem Cells

3D Printer Spits out Human Embryonic Stem Cells | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Imagine if you could take living cells, load them into a printer, and squirt out a 3D tissue that could develop into a kidney or a heart. Scientists are one step closer to that reality, now that they have developed the first printer for embryonic human stem cells.

 

In a new study, researchers from the University of Edinburgh have created a cell printer that spits out living embryonic stem cells. The printer was capable of printing uniform-size droplets of cells gently enough to keep the cells alive and maintain their ability to develop into different cell types. The new printing method could be used to make 3D human tissues for testing new drugs, grow organs, or ultimately print cells directly inside the body.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/02/06/3d-printed-human-embryonic-stem-cells/#ixzz2KFZvKCZo
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Watch a crab climb out of its old shell [VIDEO]

Watch a crab climb out of its old shell [VIDEO] | Weird Science | Scoop.it

The process (called molting) is a complicated, multi-day process, according to NOAA:

 

Crabs (and other crustaceans) cannot grow in a linear fashion like most animals. Because they have a hard outer shell (the exoskeleton) that does not grow, they must shed their shells, a process called molting. Just as we outgrow our clothing, crabs outgrow their shells. Prior to molting, a crab reabsorbs some of the calcium carbonate from the old exoskeleton, then secretes enzymes to separate the old shell from the underlying skin (or epidermis). Then, the epidermis secretes a new, soft, paper-like shell beneath the old one. This process can take several weeks.

 

A day before molting, the crab starts to absorb seawater, and begins to swell up like a balloon. This helps to expand the old shell and causes it to come apart at a special seam that runs around the body. The carapace then opens up like a lid. The crab extracts itself from its old shell by pushing and compressing all of its appendages repeatedly. First it backs out, then pulls out its hind legs, then its front legs, and finally comes completely out of the old shell. This process takes about 15 minutes.

 

Female Red King Crab preparing to molt Over the next few weeks, the crab gradually retracts all of its body parts from the outer shell by a few millimeters, while it begins to secrete a new shell beneath the old one. If we pull off one of the small mouthparts from the crab, and place it under a microscope, you can see the new shell beginning to retract from the old one. When a crab molts, it removes all its legs, its eyestalks, its antennae, all its mouthparts, and its gills. It leaves behind the old shell, the esophagus, its entire stomach lining, and even the last half inch of its intestine. Quite often, many crabs in a population molt at the same time of year, and their old shells wash up on the beach. If you find something on the beach that looks like a dead crab, pick it up, open the lid, and look closely inside.

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Money does grow on trees: Gold found in tree leaves, leads to vast hidden underground deposits

Money does grow on trees: Gold found in tree leaves, leads to vast hidden underground deposits | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Forget everything your parents ever taught you about managing your finances: Down under in Australia, scientists have found money growing on trees. Not paper money, of course, but eucalyptus leaves that are imbued with small amounts of pure gold. These gilded leaves can help gold exploration companies discover new, underground gold deposits in difficult-to-reach locations.

The research, carried out by Melvyn Lintern at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and friends, discovered that trees in Australia and elsewhere in the world can be used to locate gold deposits that are more than 30 meters (100 feet) below the surface. Small amounts of gold are dissolved in water, which is then sucked up by tree roots.

 

 

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Alien frontier: see the haunting, beautiful weirdness of Mars

Alien frontier: see the haunting, beautiful weirdness of Mars | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Mounted to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it floats high above the red planet is the HiRISE telescope, an imaging device capable of taking incredibly high-resolution photos of the martian landscape. It's sent back nearly 30,000 photos during its time above the planet, which have been used by NASA to find clear landing spots for rovers, and by researchers to learn more about the features of Mars' surface.

 

The stunning views captured by HiRISE have inspired a book from the publisher Aperture, called This is Mars, which includes 150 of its finest looks at the planet. The entire collection is in black and white, however, as that's how HiRISE's images naturally turn out.

 

But by combining different color filters on the telescope, NASA is able to produce colored versions of most images too. They're known as "false color" images, since they won't perfectly match up with what the human eye would see. False color images are still useful, however, in helping researchers distinguish between different elements of Mars' landscape. They're also downright gorgeous to look through. Below, we've collected our own series of some of the most incredible sights taken by HiRISE throughout 2013.

 

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Neurologists report unique form of musical hallucinations

Neurologists report unique form of musical hallucinations | Weird Science | Scoop.it

One night when she was trying to fall asleep, a 60-year-old woman suddenly began hearing music, as if a radio were playing at the back of her head.

 

The songs were popular tunes her husband recognized when she sang or hummed them. But she herself could not identify them.

 

This is the first known case of a patient hallucinating music that was familiar to people around her, but that she herself did not recognize, according to Dr. Danilo Vitorovic and Dr. José Biller of Loyola University Medical Center. The neurologists describe the unique case in the journal Frontiers in Neurology.

 

The case raises "intriguing questions regarding memory, forgetting and access to lost memories," the authors write.

 

Musical hallucinations are a form of auditory hallucinations, in which patients hear songs, instrumental music or tunes, even though no such music is actually playing. Most patients realize they are hallucinating, and find the music intrusive and occasionally unpleasant. There is no cure.

 

Musical hallucinations usually occur in older people. Several conditions are possible causes or predisposing factors, including hearing impairment, brain damage, epilepsy, intoxications and psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hearing impairment is the most common predisposing condition, but is not by itself sufficient to cause hallucinations.

 

Daniel House's insight:

I've been having musical hallucinations since I was a kid. I've always loved it...except what I hear is new music originating from my own neural pathways.

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Scientists Think Cavemen Painted While High on Hallucinogenic Drugs

Scientists Think Cavemen Painted While High on Hallucinogenic Drugs | Weird Science | Scoop.it

There's something undeniably surreal about early cave paintings, something otherworldly or even psychedelic. And according to a team of international scientists, that's because the cave painters were doing mind-bending drugs while painting them.

 

Researchers Tom Froese, Alexander Woodward and Takashi Ikegami from Tokyo recently published a comprehensive study of over 40,000 years worth of cave paintings and found some pretty telling patterns. The spiral-like and labyrinthian designs that pop up in paintings from locations that are thousands of miles away from each other didn't just pop up by coincidence. Since these patterns are consistent with those that many humans see after taking hallucinogenic drugs, the scientists think that ancient cavemen had more in common than previously thought. They all loved to get high.

 

Specifically known as "Turing instabilities," these hallucinations are common after ingesting a number of different plants with psychoactive properties. The patterns resemble "neural patterns" that mimic the structural makeup of the brain and are as meaningful as those that initially experienced them perceived them to be. "'When these visual patterns are seen during altered states of consciousness they are directly experienced as highly charged with significance," the researchers suggest. "In other words, the patterns are directly perceived as somehow meaningful and thereby offer themselves as salient motifs for use in rituals."

 

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The $1.3B Quest to Build a Supercomputer Replica of a Human Brain

The $1.3B Quest to Build a Supercomputer Replica of a Human Brain | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Even by the standards of the TED conference, Henry Markram’s 2009 TEDGlobal talk was a mind-bender. He took the stage of the Oxford Playhouse, clad in the requisite dress shirt and blue jeans, and announced a plan that—if it panned out—would deliver a fully sentient hologram within a decade. He dedicated himself to wiping out all mental disorders and creating a self-aware artificial intelligence. And the South African–born neuroscientist pronounced that he would accomplish all this through an insanely ambitious attempt to build a complete model of a human brain—from synapses to hemispheres—and simulate it on a supercomputer. Markram was proposing a project that has bedeviled AI researchers for decades, that most had presumed was impossible. He wanted to build a working mind from the ground up.

 

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Psychedelic Portuguese Man-of-War Photos Prove God Is a Stoner

Psychedelic Portuguese Man-of-War Photos Prove God Is a Stoner | Weird Science | Scoop.it

The sting from a Portuguese man-of-war hurts like hell, so most people avoid the jellyfish-like creatures. Not Aaron Ansarov — he and his wife don rubber gloves and collect them when they wash up on the beach near their home in Delray Beach, Florida.

They take the creatures back to their house and Ansarov photographs them on a makeshift light table and then mirrors the image in Photoshop. He shot dozens of them this past winter and the result is a unique, psychedelic portfolio.

“It’s kind of like nature’s Rorschach test,” he says.

Portugese man-of-wars are not jellyfish, they’re siphonophores, which mean’s they’re actually a group of organisms, called zooids, that depend on each other to live. The creature gets its name from the upper-most organism which people say looks like the man-of-war warships that were first built by England in the 16th century. A different organism forms the tentacles, which usually hang 30 feet below the surface and have venom-filled nematocysts that are used to kill small fish. Man-of-wars are most commonly found in warm water and sting thousands of humans each year.

Ansarov shoots the creatures on a light table because they’re translucent and the light coming from underneath helps illuminate their insides.

“Whenever I show the photos everyone sees something different,” he says. “One person will say ‘I see a person’s face’ and other people will see vaginas and other crazy sexual organs.”

The man-of-wars are usually alive when Ansarov and his wife find them on the beach, so the couple use a beer cooler filled with seawater to transport them home. The creatures are still alive when Ansarov photographs them and then he puts them back on the beach where he found them.

Man-of-wars have no way to move independently so they’re at the whim of tides and currents. They wash up on the beach naturally and Ansarov says he doesn’t want to interfere with the natural process. If they wash back into the sea when he’s done it was meant to be. If they don’t, they die.

 

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Why Your Brain Craves Music

Why Your Brain Craves Music | Weird Science | Scoop.it

If making music isn’t the most ancient of human activities, it’s got to be pretty close. Melody and rhythm can trigger feelings from sadness to serenity to joy to awe; they can bring memories from childhood vividly back to life. The taste of a tiny cake may have inspired Marcel Proust to pen the seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past, but fire up the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction and you’ll throw the entire Baby Boom generation into a Woodstock-era reverie.

 

From an evolutionary point of view, however, music doesn’t seem to make sense. Unlike sex, say, or food, it did nothing to help our distant ancestors survive and reproduce. Yet music and its effects are in powerful evidence across virtually all cultures, so it must satisfy some sort of universal need—often in ways we can’t begin to fathom. A few years ago, a single composition lifted Valerie Salimpoor almost instantaneously out of a deep funk (it was Brahms’ Hungarian Dance # 5, to be precise), and from that moment, she decided it would be her life’s work to figure out music’s mysteries.

 

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Music Increases Killer Cell Counts And Lowers Levels of Stress Hormone Cortisol

Music Increases Killer Cell Counts And Lowers Levels of Stress Hormone Cortisol | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Listening to music has direct effects on our body chemistry, it can lower the level of the stress hormone cortisol, while immunoglobulin A and killer cell counts increase, strengthening our immune system. These are some of the highlights found by researchers conducting a large-scale review of 400 research papers about the neurochemistry of music. While it is generally known that music has benefits for both mental and physical health, it is interesting how direct the neurochemical mechanisms of listening impact our body, strengthening the immune system and reducing levels of cortisol to decrease stress.

 

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The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food | Weird Science | Scoop.it

A chemist by training with a doctoral degree in food science, Behnke became Pillsbury’s chief technical officer in 1979 and was instrumental in creating a long line of hit products, including microwaveable popcorn. He deeply admired Pillsbury but in recent years had grown troubled by pictures of obese children suffering from diabetes and the earliest signs of hypertension and heart disease. In the months leading up to the C.E.O. meeting, he was engaged in conversation with a group of food-science experts who were painting an increasingly grim picture of the public’s ability to cope with the industry’s formulations — from the body’s fragile controls on overeating to the hidden power of some processed foods to make people feel hungrier still. It was time, he and a handful of others felt, to warn the C.E.O.’s that their companies may have gone too far in creating and marketing products that posed the greatest health concerns..

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Spectacular Video of Meteor Over Siberia

Spectacular Video of Meteor Over Siberia | Weird Science | Scoop.it
As a meteor streaked across the sky above Siberia on Friday, Russians recorded remarkable video of the event on their cameraphones and dashboard-cams.
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4.5 Billion 'Alien Earths' Calculated to Populate Our Own Milky Way

4.5 Billion 'Alien Earths' Calculated to Populate Our Own Milky Way | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Billions of Earth-like alien planets likely reside in our Milky Way galaxy, and the nearest such world may be just a stone's throw away in the cosmic scheme of things, a new study reports.

 

Astronomers have calculated that 6 percent of the galaxy's 75 billion or so red dwarfs — stars smaller and dimmer than the Earth's own sun — probably host habitable, roughly Earth-size planets. That works out to at least 4.5 billion such "alien Earths," the closest of which might be found a mere dozen light-years away, researchers said.

 

"We thought we would have to search vast distances to find an Earth-like planet," study lead author Courtney Dressing, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said in a statement. "Now we realize another Earth is probably in our own backyard, waiting to be spotted."

 

Dressing and her team analyzed data gathered by NASA's prolific Kepler space telescope, which is staring continuously at more than 150,000 target stars. Kepler spots alien planets by flagging the tiny brightness dips caused when the planets transit, or cross the face of, their stars from the instrument's perspective.

 

Kepler has detected 2,740 exoplanet candidates since its March 2009 launch. Follow-up observations have confirmed only 105 of these possibilities to date, but mission scientists estimate that more than 90 percent will end up being the real deal.

 

In the new study, Dressing and her colleagues re-analyzed the red dwarfs in Kepler's field of view and found that nearly all are smaller and cooler than previously thought.

 

This new information bears strongly on the search for Earth-like alien planets, since roughly 75 percent of the galaxy's 100 billion or so stars are red dwarfs. 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Gareth Harris's curator insight, February 8, 2013 11:47 AM

ET may only be a stones throw away!