Weird Science
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Weird Science
Cool and fascinating tidbits from the world of science
Curated by Daniel House
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Mario Livio:  Wallpaper Patterns, Music, and the Laws of Physics

Mario Livio:  Wallpaper Patterns, Music, and the Laws of Physics | Weird Science | Scoop.it

When mathematicians talk about symmetry, they mean immunity to possible change. In the words of the great mathematician Hermann Weyl: “A thing is symmetrical if there is something you can do to it so that after you have finished doing it, it looks the same as before.” For instance, the phrase: “Madam I’m Adam” reads the same backward or forward. In this case, we say that the sentence is symmetric under the operation of back-to-front reading. One of the most familiar of all symmetric patterns is that of a repeating, recurring motif. From the friezes of classical temples to carpets, the symmetry of repeating patterns has always produced a comforting familiarity and a reassuring effect. The symmetry transformation in this case is called translation, meaning a displacement by a certain distance along a line. The pattern is considered symmetric if it looks the same after we have displaced our view. The Victorian artist, poet, and printer William Morris, for instance, has produced many sumptuous wallpaper designs that are the embodiment of translational symmetry

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Physics Community Afire With Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery

Physics Community Afire With Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery | Weird Science | Scoop.it

One of the biggest debuts in the science world could happen in a matter of weeks: The Higgs boson may finally, really have been discovered.

 

The new buzz is just the latest in the Higgs search drama. In December, rumors circulated regarding hints of the Higgs around 125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), roughly 125 times the mass of a proton. While those rumors eventually turned out to be true, the hard data only amounted to what scientists call a 3-sigma signal, meaning that there is a 0.13 percent probability that the events happened by chance. This is the level at which particle physicists will only say they have “evidence” for a particle.

 

In the rigorous world of high-energy physics, researchers wait to see a 5-sigma signal, which has only a 0.000028 percent probability of happening by chance, before claiming a “discovery.”

 

The latest Higgs rumors suggest nearly-there 4-sigma signals are turning up at both of the two separate LHC experiments that are hunting for the particle. As physicist Philip Gibbs points out on his blog, Vixra log, if each experiment is seeing a 4-sigma signal, then this is almost definitely the long-sought particle. Combining the two 4-sigma results should be enough to clear that 5-sigma hurdle.

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Not Enough Hours in the Day? Scientists Predict Time Will Stop Completely

Not Enough Hours in the Day? Scientists Predict Time Will Stop Completely | Weird Science | Scoop.it
Time might feel like it is running away from us as the pace of life increases but according to scientists, the future will stop completely.

 

The theory of time running out was devised by researchers from two Spanish universities trying to explain why the universe appeared to be spreading continuously and accelerating.

 

Observations of supernovae, or exploding stars, found the movement of light indicated they were moving faster than those nearer to the centre of the universe.

 

But the scientists claimed the accepted theory of an opposite force to gravity, known as dark energy, was wrong, and said the reality was that the growth of the universe was slowing.

 

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Tracing the genetic pathway from the first Eukaryotes to Homo sapiens

Tracing the genetic pathway from the first Eukaryotes to Homo sapiens | Weird Science | Scoop.it

www.dhushara.com/book/unraveltree/unravel.htm

 

The Tree of Life, in biological terms, has come to be identified with the evolutionary tree of biological diversity. It is this tree which represents the climax fruitfulness of the biosphere and the genetic foundation of our existence, embracing not just higher Eukaryotes, plants, animals and fungi, but Protista, Eubacteria, and Archaea, the realm, including the extreme heat and salt-loving organisms, which appears to lie almost at the root of life itself.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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A Random Walk with Pi

A Random Walk with Pi | Weird Science | Scoop.it

This Figure exhibits a 100 million base 4 walk on π, where the color is coded by the number of returns to the point. The authors empirically tested the normality of its first roughly four trillion hexadecimal (base-16) digits using a Poisson process model, and concluded that, according to this test, it is “extraordinarily unlikely” that π is not 16-normal (of course, this result does not pretend to be a proof).


Via Martin Daumiller
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Gut Bacteria Regulate Happiness

Gut Bacteria Regulate Happiness | Weird Science | Scoop.it
APC scientists have shown that brain levels of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life. Their research is being published today in the leading international psychiatry journal, Molecular Psychiatry.

 

This research shows that normal adult brain function depends on the presence of gut microbes during development. Scientists at the APC used a germ-free mouse model to show that the absence of bacteria during early life significantly affected serotonin concentrations in the brain in adulthood. Serotonin, the major chemical involved in the regulation of mood and emotion, is altered in times of stress, anxiety and depression and most clinically effective antidepressant drugs work by targeting this neurochemical.
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Putting Fear In Your Ears: What Makes Music Sound Scary

Putting Fear In Your Ears: What Makes Music Sound Scary | Weird Science | Scoop.it
Young animals' cries for help and the soundtracks of spine-tingling movies have something in common: An irregular, scratchy sound signals something scary is afoot.

 

Nonlinear noises, used by young animals to grab the attention of their parents, seem to also evoke an emotional response in humans. "Clearly, people in Hollywood know this, but it's not as though they're going out and using biologically tested algorithms."

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Test-Tube Creatures: 11 Up-and-Coming Genetically Engineered Animals

Test-Tube Creatures: 11 Up-and-Coming Genetically Engineered Animals | Weird Science | Scoop.it

It’s been almost 16 years since Dolly the cloned sheep was born. As she fades from our cultural memory, here’s a look at 11 up-and-coming (and often controversial) genetically engineered animals that might start appearing in backyards and on dinner tables near you.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Foetus Has its Genome Deciphered

Foetus Has its Genome Deciphered | Weird Science | Scoop.it
A blood sample from mum and saliva from dad have been used by US researchers to sequence the genome of a foetus.

 

The scientists at the University of Washington used pieces of the foetus' DNA which naturally float around in the pregnant woman's blood.

 

These fragments were then pieced together using the parents' DNA as a guide to build a complete 'map' of the foetus's genome.

 

Dr Jay Shendure University of Washington

They then compared the genetic map drawn 18 weeks into pregnancy with the foetus' actual DNA taken from the umbilical cord after birth. It was 98% accurate.

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NASA SDO - The Venus Transit

The Venus transit as seen in the 171 wavelength. This channel is especially good at showing coronal loops - the arcs extending off of the Sun where plasma moves along magnetic field lines. The brightest spots seen here are locations where the magnetic field near the surface is exceptionally strong.

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The Greatest Science Ebook Created to Date

The Greatest Science Ebook Created to Date | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Over at science e-book review Download the Universe, Carl Zimmer says he's found the greatest science e-book yet created — and he just may be right. The book is Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy, and it's an iPad app that explores a collection of Leonardo's anatomy drawings (many of which were hidden from the public until the twentieth century) and explains the magnitude of the artist's contribution to science. Though Leonardo sometimes misinterpreted what he discovered, he nevertheless produced some of the most accurate anatomical studies of human musculature and organs ever seen before in the West.

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Researchers Develop New Genetic Method to Pinpoint Individuals' Geographic Origin

Researchers Develop New Genetic Method to Pinpoint Individuals' Geographic Origin | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Understanding the genetic diversity within and between populations has important implications for studies of human disease and evolution. This includes identifying associations between genetic variants and disease, detecting genomic regions that have undergone positive selection and highlighting interesting aspects of human population history.

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Science Nation - Revealing Nature's Mathematical Formula for Survival

The vascular system of a leaf provides its structure and delivers its nutrients. When you light up that vascular structure with some fluorescent dye and view it using time lapse photography, details begin to emerge that reveal nature's mathematical formula for survival. When it comes to optimizing form with function, it's tough to beat Mother Nature.

 

Rockefeller University mathematical physicist Marcelo Magnasco and his colleague physicist Eleni Katifori analyze the architecture of leaves by finding geometric patterns that link biological structure to function. They study a specific vascular pattern of loops within loops that is found in many leaves going down to the microscopic level. Magnasco says this research is a jumping off point for understanding other systems that branch and rejoin, including everything from river systems, to neural networks and even malignant tumors.

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Infographic: Tallest Mountain to Deepest Ocean Trench

Infographic: Tallest Mountain to Deepest Ocean Trench | Weird Science | Scoop.it
Scaled infographic showing the features of Earth's land surface and oceans.

 

SCROLL DOWN WITH MOUSE ON RIGHT SIDE OF GRAPHIC!


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Elliott Belardo's comment, June 27, 2012 9:26 AM
36,000 feet is how tall the Earth is?
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Blue Marble Navigator - Night Lights 2010

Blue Marble Navigator - Night Lights 2010 | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Once a source of wonder--and one half of the entire planet’s natural environment—the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze. Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars; poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

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Faster Than 50 Million Laptops -- The Race to go Exascale

Faster Than 50 Million Laptops -- The Race to go Exascale | Weird Science | Scoop.it
A new era in computing that will see machines perform at least 1,000 times faster than today's most powerful supercomputers is almost upon us.

 

Computer scientists measure a supercomputer's performance in FLOPS, an acronym for FLoating Point Operations per Second, while "exa" is a metric prefix which stands for quintillion (or a billion billion). An exascale computer could perform approximately as many operations per second as 50 million laptops.

 

By the end of the decade, exaFLOP computers are predicted to go online heralding a new chapter in scientific discovery.

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Scientists Tackle the Geography of Nature vs. Nurture In Maps of U.K.

Scientists Tackle the Geography of Nature vs. Nurture In Maps of U.K. | Weird Science | Scoop.it
Scientists don't debate the old nature vs. nurture question much these days. The consensus is that there is no winner: Both your genes and your environment shape your development and your health. What's still up in the air is how they combine to put you at risk for diseases or social problems. And that matters for people trying to solve them.

 

Now it appears that, even for a single disease or condition, the balance between nature and nurture isn't fixed place to place. That's what researchers at Kings College London, writing this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, are showing with maps that identify hotspots in the U.K. where either genetic or environmental factors dominate.

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Finally, A Map Of All The Microbes On Your Body

The human body contains about 100 trillion cells, but only maybe one in 10 of those cells is actually human. The rest are from bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.

 

Microbes extract vitamins and other nutrients we need to survive, teach our immune systems how to recognize dangerous invaders and even produce helpful anti-inflammatory compounds and chemicals that fight off other bugs that could make us sick.

 

Scientists Wednesday unveiled the first catalog of the bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that populate every nook and cranny of the human body.

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Want to Prevent Aging? Learn a New Language

Want to Prevent Aging? Learn a New Language | Weird Science | Scoop.it

Cognitive reserve is the term scientists use to describe the extent of the brain’s capacity to resist aging and degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. The notion that such a capacity could exist originated in a surprising discoverymade almost 25 years ago, when the brains of 137 elderly residents of a nursing home were dissected after their deaths. Remarkably, researchers failed to find a direct relationship between the degree of Alzheimer’s disease detected in the residents’ brains (revealed by the presence of structures called plaques) and how impaired they had been while they were alive. In other words, some of these individuals were able to resist the ravages of the illness better than others — but how?

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Science's Long—and Successful—Search for Where Memory Lives

Science's Long—and Successful—Search for Where Memory Lives | Weird Science | Scoop.it

They called it a myth as fantastical as the unicorn, but scientists have now found the engram, the physical trace of memory in the brain.

 

Where and how are memories written, and what is the molecular alphabet that spells out the rich recollections of color, smell, and sound?

 

After more than a century of searching, an answer was recently found.

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Artificial Cells Evolve Proteins to Structure Semiconductors

Artificial Cells Evolve Proteins to Structure Semiconductors | Weird Science | Scoop.it
Scientists have applied genetic engineering to create proteins that can be used to create electronics. They've used the tools of molecular biology and principles of evolution to find proteins that can make new structures of silicon dioxide, commonly found in computer chips, and titanium dioxide, often used in solar cells.

 

Traditional genetic engineering involves sticking a foreign gene into bacteria and using the bacteria as tiny factories to make the protein encoded by that gene. This approach wouldn’t work for all silica-forming proteins found in marine sponges. The minerals produced by these proteins, which the researchers want to study, can kill the cells.

 

So Daniel Morse, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his colleagues looked to another protein making strategy: synthetic cells with a tiny plastic bead nucleus surrounded by a bubble of oil that acts as a cell membrane.

 

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Brain Scans Reveal Dogs' Thoughts

Brain Scans Reveal Dogs' Thoughts | Weird Science | Scoop.it

New fMRI images of unsedated dogs represent a first peak into what dogs are thinking and open a door into canine cognition and social cognition in other species.

 

The researchers think the findings open the door for further studies of canine cognition that could answer questions about humans' deep connection with dogs, including how dogs represent human facial expressions in their minds and how they process human language.

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A Fuel Cell That Cleans Water and Makes Electricity—Simultaneously

A Fuel Cell That Cleans Water and Makes Electricity—Simultaneously | Weird Science | Scoop.it
A new design devised by a team of Penn State graduate researchers opens up a future of sustainable wastewater treatment.

 

Microorganisms are multitalented. The same kinds of bacteria used in wastewater treatment plants can also generate small amounts of electricity. But these two abilities have rarely been combined so cleverly.

Penn State University researchers outlined a system called the microbial reverse electrolysis cell (MRC) that both cleans water and creates electricity.

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The Bacteria that Commit Honourable Suicide

The Bacteria that Commit Honourable Suicide | Weird Science | Scoop.it
Each cell in the human body is programmed to die. Death is their default state. It is only by behaving, by obeying outside orders and carrying out the processes it’s meant to, that the cell is able to inhibit its own destruction. This is a good thing for the body as a whole, because cells that do manage to escape the tight death-regulation control are cancerous cells, and cause havoc within the body.
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The Single Theory That Could Explain Emergence, Organization and The Origin of Life

The Single Theory That Could Explain Emergence, Organization and The Origin of Life | Weird Science | Scoop.it
One of the most puzzling questions about the origin of life is how the rich chemical landscape that makes life possible came into existence.

 

This landscape would have consisted among other things of amino acids, proteins and complex RNA molecules. What's more, these molecules must have been part of a rich network of interrelated chemical reactions which generated them in a reliable way.

Clearly, all that must have happened before life itself emerged. But how?
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