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An anonymous reader sends this story about medical research in zero-gravity environments. Many earth-based treatments need to be adapted for use in space, and anatomical behaviors can change in subtle and unpredictable ways as well. This research aims to protect astronauts and future generations of space-goers from conditions that are easily treatable on the ground. The ultrasound machine the students are testing would be well suited for space missions. It is light and compact, requires very little medical training to use, and the probe can stay in the body for 72 hours at a time. But the technology has only ever been used on Earth, and no one knows whether it would function correctly in zero gravity. The most significant concern is that microgravity will cause the probe to drift out of position. The team's mentor, cardiac surgeon and space medicine specialist Peter Lee, tells me that an ultrasound probe that sits in the esophagus is an ideal diagnostic tool for extended spaceflights. "If an astronaut far from Earth were to have a cardiovascular event, or for some reason became incapacitated and had to be on a ventilator, there's no imaging currently available [in space] that provides continuous images of the heart," he says. "You can use [external] ultrasound, but the technician has to be there the whole time to hold it on the chest."
KentuckyFC writes: In the early hours of the morning on 24 February 1987, a neutrino detector deep beneath Mont Blanc in northern Italy picked up a sudden burst of neutrinos. Three hours later, neutrino detectors at two other locations picked up a second burst. These turned out to have been produced by the collapse of the core of a star in the Large Magellanic Cloud that orbits our galaxy. And sure enough, some 4.7 hours after this, astronomers noticed the tell-tale brightening of a blue supergiant in that region, as it became a supernova, now known as SN1987a. But why the delay of 7.7 hours from the first burst of neutrinos to the arrival of the photons? Astrophysicists soon realized that since neutrinos rarely interact with ordinary matter, they can escape from the star's core immediately. By contrast, photons have to diffuse through the star, a process that would have delayed them by about 3 hours. That accounts for some of the delay but what of the rest? Now one physicist has the answer: the speed of light through space requires a correction.
An anonymous reader writes: National Geographic has a detailed article about efforts underway to search for life in the oceans of Europa, which are buried beneath miles of ice. A first mission would have a spacecraft orbit just 16 miles over the moon's surface, analyzing the material ejected from the moon, measuring salinity, and sniffing out its chemical makeup. A later mission would then deploy a rover. But unlike the rovers we've built so far, this one would be designed to go underwater and navigate using the bottom surface of the ice over the oceans. An early design was just tested successfully underneath the ice in Alaska. "[It] crawls along under a foot of ice, its built-in buoyancy keeping it firmly pressed against the frozen subsurface, sensors measuring the temperature, salinity, pH, and other characteristics of the water."
Astronomers and astrobiologists are hopeful that these missions will provide definitive evidence of life on other worlds. "Europa certainly seems to have the basic ingredients for life. Liquid water is abundant, and the ocean floor may also have hydrothermal vents, similar to Earth's, that could provide nutrients for any life that might exist there. Up at the surface, comets periodically crash into Europa, depositing organic chemicals that might also serve as the building blocks of life. Particles from Jupiter's radiation belts split apart the hydrogen and oxygen that makes up the ice, forming a whole suite of molecules that living organisms could use to metabolize chemical nutrients from the vents."
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Despite cocaine's undeniable destructiveness, there are no antidotes for overdoses or medications to fight addiction that directly neutralize cocaine's powerful effects. A natural bacterial enzyme, cocaine esterase, could help by chopping up cocaine in the bloodstream. But the enzyme is unstable in the body, losing activity too quickly to be a viable treatment. Now, using computational design, researchers tweaked the enzyme (full paper, PDF) to simultaneously increase stability and catalytic efficiency. Mice injected with the engineered enzyme survive daily lethal doses of cocaine for an average of 94 hours."
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that a dump of fare logs from NYC cabs resulted in trip details being leaked thanks to using an MD5 hash on input data with a very small key space and regular format. From the article:
City officials released the data in response to a public records request and specifically obscured the drivers' hack license numbers and medallion numbers. ... Presumably, officials used the hashes to preserve the privacy of individual drivers since the records provide a detailed view of their locations and work performance over an extended period of time.
It turns out there's a significant flaw in the approach. Because both the medallion and hack numbers are structured in predictable patterns, it was trivial to run all possible iterations through the same MD5 algorithm and then compare the output to the data contained in the 20GB file. Software developer Vijay Pandurangan did just that, and in less than two hours he had completely de-anonymized all 173 million entries.
"Otherlab," says their projects page, "is a private Research and Development company with a number of core competencies. We welcome industrial partnerships and commercialization partners. We have worked with dozens of companies globally from small start-ups to multi-nationals and Fortune 500 businesses. We develop enabling new technologies through an emphasis on prototyping coupled to rigorous physics simulation and mathematical models. We develop our own design tools because it's lonely at the frontier and to create new things and ideas, you often have to create the tools to design them." | One of their projects is building low-cost, inflatable exoskeletons that can be used as prosthetics or -- one presumes -- as strength multipliers for people who have working limbs. This is the project today's interviewee, Tim Swift, is working on. (Alternate Video Link)
An anonymous reader writes Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, plans to spend 31 days underwater off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. He has already spent 3 weeks in an underwater laboratory called the Aquarius, and hopes to break his grandfather's record of 30 days in an undersea habitat. "There are a lot of challenges physically and psychologically," said Cousteau, 46, who grew up on his grandfather's ships, Calypso and Alcyone. Cousteau added: "We'll be able to do Twitter chats, we'll be able to do Skype sessions, we'll be able to do Facebook posts and Instagram posts and all these things that we take for granted on land, but up until now it was impossible to do from down below."
An anonymous reader writes "A report from the European Space Agency shows the first collection of high-resolution results from the agency's three-satellite Swarm. The report illustrates the latest changes in the Earth's magnetic field and shows the movement of the magnetic North Pole. "Launched in November 2013, ESA's Swarm mission consists of three 9-meter satellites orbiting the planet at altitudes of 300-530 km (186-330 miles). Their goal is to monitor Earth's dynamic magnetic field, observing its changes over a period of four years. The data gathered by the Swarm satellites will help scientists better understand how our magnetic field works, how it's influenced by solar activity, and why large parts of it are found to be weakening.""
Graculus writes with news about a plan to install sensors to collect environmental data and count people in Chicago. Chicago plans to install sensors in light poles to observe air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation, and wind. The sensors will also count people by observing cell phone traffic. The curled metal fixtures set to go up on a handful of Michigan Avenue light poles later this summer may look like delicate pieces of sculpture, but researchers say they'll provide a big step forward in the way Chicago understands itself by observing the city's people and surroundings. Some experts caution that efforts like the one launching here to collect data from people and their surroundings pose concerns of a Big Brother intrusion into personal privacy. In particular, sensors collecting cell phone data make privacy proponents nervous. But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of every device.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers at CERN have discovered the first evidence for the direct decay of the Higgs boson into fermions, a strong indication that the particle found two years ago is the Higgs boson. From the article: "Assistant professor of physics at MIT and leader of the international effort, Markus Klute, said that his team was trying to establish if the particle that was discovered in 2012 was really consistent with the Higgs boson that was found in the Standard Model, and not one of many Higgs bosons, or an a particle that looks like it but has a different origin." Their researchers also found that the bosons also decay to fermions (fermions include all quarks and leptons) in a way that is consistent with the Standard Model Higgs. 'We have now established the main characteristics of this new particle, in its coupling to fermions and to bosons, and its spin-parity structure; all of these things are consistent with the Standard Model,' Klute says." CERN has also announced the LHC restart schedule.
An anonymous reader writes "A report that scientists are calling one of the most comprehensive studies of great white sharks finds their numbers are surging in the ocean off the Eastern U.S. and Canada after decades of decline — bad news if you're a seal, but something experts say shouldn't instill fear. The scientists behind the study attribute the resurgence to conservation efforts, such as a federal 1997 act that prevented hunting of great whites, and greater availability of prey. The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature."
An anonymous reader writes "SpaceX has cancelled the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket after identifying a potential concern during preflight testing. This is the third straight day technical issues or weather have caused a delay. "Today's Orbcomm launch attempt has been scrubbed to address a potential concern identified during pre-flight checks," a SpaceX spokesperson said in a statement. "The vehicle and payload are in good condition, and engineering teams will take the extra time to ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to flight," the statement said. The rocket is now scheduled for a Tuesday launch."
An anonymous reader writes Researchers have discovered that emperor penguins may not be faithful to their previous nesting locations, as previously thought. Scientists have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, returning to the same location to nest each year. However, a new research study showed that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment. Lead author Michelle LaRue said,"Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviors we thought we understood about emperor penguins. If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn't make any sense. These birds didn't just appear out of thin air—they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies. That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes."
An anonymous reader writes The White House has announced a federal strategy to reverse a decline in the number of honeybees and other pollinators in the United States. Obama has directed federal agencies to use research, land management, education and public/private partnerships to advance honeybee and other pollinator health and habitats. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department will lead a multi-agency task force to develop a pollinator health strategy and action plan within six months. As part of the plan, the USDA announced $8 million in funding for farmers and ranchers in five states who establish new habitats for honeybee populations.
An anonymous reader writes A few months ago researchers announced they had discovered proof of the big bang. Now they're not so sure. Further research suggests cosmic dust might have skewed the results. "Back in March, the BICEP2 team reported a twisted pattern in the sky, which they attributed to primordial gravitational waves, wrinkles in the fabric of the universe that could have been produced when the baby universe went through an enormous growth spurt. If correct, this would confirm the theory of inflation, which says that the universe expanded exponentially in the first slivers of a second after the big bang – many believe that it continues to expand into an ever-growing multiverse. Doubts about the announcement soon emerged. The BICEP2 team identified the waves based on how they twisted, or polarised, the photons in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the earliest light emitted in the universe around 380,000 years after the big bang. Other objects, such as the ashes of exploding stars or dust within our galaxy, can polarise light as well."
An anonymous reader writes In a paper published in Nature (abstract), scientists report successfully measuring the magnetic interaction of two bound electrons of two different strontium (Sr) ions. The two ions were suspended in a quadrupole ion trap (a.k.a. a Paul trap), and the effects of ambient magnetic noise were mitigated by 'restricting the spin evolution [of the electrons] to a decoherence-free subspace that is immune to collective magnetic field noise.' The scientists measured the magnetic interaction of the two electrons as a function of distance and found that the force acting between the two was inversely dependant on the cubed distance between the electrons, consistent with Newton's inverse-cube law.
rtoz writes: Researchers have found a new material design based on the use of microlattices with nanoscale features, combining great stiffness and strength with ultralow density. The actual production of such materials is made possible by a high-precision 3-D printing process called projection microstereolithography. Normally, stiffness and strength declines with the density of any material; that's why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely. But using the right mathematically determined structures to distribute and direct the loads, the lighter structure can maintain its strength. This newly invented material is among the lightest in the world. It can easily withstand a load of more than 160,000 times its own weight.
An anonymous reader writes: Years of research has gone into products that are hydrophobic — they resist getting wet. But nature solved this problem long ago, and it's ubiquitous outside our buildings and homes. You've probably seen it yourself, after a light rain: water collects in round droplets on many leaves from trees and plants, refusing to spread out evenly across the surface. This article explains why that happens using super slow-mo cameras and an electron microscope. "[T]he water isn't really sitting on the surface. A superhydrophobic surface is a little like a bed of nails. The nails touch the water, but there are gaps in between them. So there's fewer points of contact, which means the surface can't tug on the water as much, and so the drop stays round. ... [After looking at a leaf in the electron microscope,] we saw this field of tiny wax needles, each needle just a few microns in length! The water drops are suspended on these ultra-microscopic wax needles, and that keeps it from wetting the surface."
aarondubrow writes: The tendency of HIV to mutate and resist drugs has made it particularly difficult to eradicate. But in the last decade scientists have begun using a new weapon in the fight against HIV: supercomputers. Using some of the nation's most powerful supercomputers, teams of researchers are pushing the limits of what we know about HIV and how we can treat it. The Huffington Post describes how supercomputers are helping scientists understand and treat the disease.
Rambo Tribble writes: Research published in the journal Cell describes a mechanism whereby exposure to UV light leads to endorphin production in the skin. Additionally, they show that rodents exhibit the characteristics of addiction to those substances. This adds to earlier studies which demonstrated withdrawal-like symptoms in frequent tanners One of the researchers, Dr. David Fisher, commented, "It sounds like a cruel joke to be addicted the most ubiquitous carcinogen in the world,' The researchers conclusions are subject to some skepticism, however. Addiction researcher Dr. David Belin is quoted as opining, "... their study is going to be seminal even though their conclusions are not supported by their results." The BBC offers nicely rounded coverage, as well.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this update about a long-awaited project, the European Extremely Large Telescope: The partial demolition of Cerro Armazones, a mountain in northern Chile's Antofagasta region, marked the start of constructing the world's largest and most powerful telescope, an instrument capable of capturing 14 times more light than existing telescopes. At 2:00 p.m. Thursday, the blasting of Cerro Armazones, 3,060 meters (11,800 feet) high, removed from the peak between 25 and 30 meters (80 and 100 feet) of its height in order to create a plain some 200 meters (655 feet) long, on which to mount the European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT, a project of the European Southern Observatory. On this site will be built a structure 60 meters (200 feet) high and 80 meters (260 feet) in diameter, with mirrors of 39.3 meters (129 feet) which in 10 years will begin to explore the origins of the universe. The telescope will shed light on the 'dark ages' of the universe, when the Milky Way was only 500,000 years old, and thanks to its enormous size it could also contribute to finding extraterrestrial life by detecting whether exoplanets have oxygen in their atmospheres.
realized writes: "A man with almost no hair on his body has grown a full head of it after a novel treatment by doctors at Yale University. The patient had previously been diagnosed with both alopecia universalis, a disease that results in loss of all body hair, and plaque psoriasis, a condition characterized by scaly red areas of skin. The only hair on his body was within the psoriasis plaques on his head. He was referred to Yale Dermatology for treatment of the psoriasis. The alopecia universalis had never been treated.
After two months on tofacitinib [an FDA-approved arthritis drug] at 10 mg daily, the patient's psoriasis showed some improvement, and the man had grown scalp and facial hair — the first hair he'd grown there in seven years. After three more months of therapy at 15 mg daily, the patient had completely regrown scalp hair and also had clearly visible eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair, as well as armpit and other hair, the doctors said."
Modular Science is something Tim Lord spotted at last month's O'Reilly Solid Conference in San Francisco. Its founder, Peter Sand, has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT. He's scheduled to speak at this year's OSCON, and his speaker blurb for that conference says, "He is the founder of ManyLabs, a nonprofit focused on teaching math and science using sensors and simulations. Peter also founded Modular Science, a company working on hardware and software tools for science labs. He has given talks at Science Hack Day, Launch Edu, and multiple academic conferences, including SIGGRAPH." And now he's also been interviewed on Slashdot. Note that there are plenty of lab automation systems out there. Peter is working on one that is not only "an order of magnitude cheaper" than similar devices, but is also easy to modify and expand. It's the sort of system that would fit well not just in a college-level lab, but in a high school lab or a local makerspace. (Alternate Video Link)
rtoz writes: A MIT spinout company aims to end the landfilling of plastic with a cost-effective system that breaks down nonrecycled plastics into oil, while reusing some of the gas it produces to operate. To convert the plastics into oil, this new system first shreds them. The shreds are then entered into a reactor — which runs at about 400 degrees Celsius — where a catalyst helps degrade the plastics' long carbon chains. This produces a vapor that runs through a condenser, where it's made into oil. Much of the system's innovation is in its continuous operation (video). This company aims to produce more refined fuel that recyclers can immediately pump back into their recycling trucks, without the need for oil refineries. Currently, 2 trillion tons of plastic waste is sitting in U.S. landfills, so there is a huge demand for this technology.
An anonymous reader writes: NASA has announced funding for 18 different projects aimed at developing an asteroid retrieval mission. "The agency is working on two concepts for the mission. The first concept would fully capture a very small asteroid in free space and the other would retrieve a boulder off of a much larger asteroid. Both concepts would redirect an asteroid mass less than 10 meters in size to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) would rendezvous with the captured asteroid mass in lunar orbit and collect samples for return to Earth." Astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope have also identified and measured the size of a candidate near-earth asteroid. It measures roughly six meters in diameter, and seems to be held together lightly, possible as a "pile of rubble."
Lucas123 writes: Katherine, a 14-foot, 2,300lb. Great White Shark, has become so popular with visitors to a research site tracking her daily movements that the site's servers have crashed and remained down for hours. The shark, one of dozens tagged for research by the non-profit global shark tracking project OCEARCH, typically cruises very close to shore up and down the Eastern Seaboard. That has attracted a lot interest from the swimming public. Currently, however, she's heading from Florida's west coast toward Texas. OCEARCH tags sharks with four different technologies to create a three-dimensional image of a shark's activities. "On average, we're collecting 100 data points every second — 8.5 million data points per day."
the_newsbeagle writes Psychiatrists have realized that they can collect vast amounts of data about their patients using smartphone apps that passively monitor the patients as they go about their daily business. A prototype for schizophrenia patients is being tested out now on Long Island. The Crosscheck trial will look at behavior patterns (tracking movement, sleep, and conversations) and correlate them with the patient's reports of symptoms and moods; researchers hope the data will reveal the "signature" of a patient who is about relapse and therefore needs help.
Rambo Tribble writes Researchers in Britain are reporting that they have found a way to prevent bacteria from forming the "wall" that prevents antibiotics from attacking them. “It is a very significant breakthrough,” said Professor Changjiang Dong, from the University of East Anglia's (UAE) Norwich Medical School. “This is really important because drug-resistant bacteria is a global health problem. Many current antibiotics are becoming useless, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Many bacteria build up an outer defence which is important for their survival and drug resistance. We have found a way to stop that happening," he added. This research provides the platform for urgently-needed new generation drugs.
MarkWhittington writes Ever since the House passed a NASA spending bill that allocated $100 million for a probe to Jupiter's moon Europa, the space agency has been attempting to find a way to do such a mission on the cheap. The trick is that the mission has to cost less than $1 billion, a tall order for anything headed to the Outer Planets. According to a Wednesday story in the Atlantic, some researchers at Draper Labs have come up with a cheap way to do a Europa orbiter and land instruments on its icy surface.
The first stage is to orbit a cubesat, a tiny, coffee can sized satellite that would contain two highly accurate accelerometers that would go into orbit around Europa and measure its gravity field. In this way the location of Europa's subsurface oceans would be mapped. Indeed it is possible that the probe might find an opening through the ice crust to the ocean, warmed it is thought by tidal forces.
The second stage is to deploy even smaller probes called chipsats, tiny devices that contain sensors, a microchip, and an antenna. Hundreds of these probes, the size of human fingernails, would float down on Europa's atmosphere to be scattered about its surface. While some might be lost, enough will land over a wide enough area to do an extensive chemical analysis of the surface of Europa, which would then be transmitted to the cubesat mothership and then beamed to Earth.
sciencehabit writes The D-Wave computer, marketed as a groundbreaking quantum machine that runs circles around conventional computers, solves problems no faster than an ordinary rival, a new test shows. Some researchers call the test of the controversial device, described in Science, the fairest comparison yet. "...to test D-Wave’s machine, Matthias Troyer, a physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, and colleagues didn't just race it against an ordinary computer. Instead, they measured how the time needed to solve a problem increases with the problem's size. That's key because the whole idea behind quantum computing is that the time will grow much more slowly for a quantum computer than for an ordinary one. In particular, a full-fledged 'universal' quantum computer should be able to factor huge numbers ever faster than an ordinary computer as the size of the numbers grow." D-Wave argues that the computations used in the study were too easy to show what its novel chips can do.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the goals of neuroscience is to understand how brains process information and generate appropriate behaviour. A technique that is revolutionising this work is optogenetics--the ability to insert genes into neurons that fluoresce when the neuron is active. That works well on the level of single neurons but the density of neurons in a brain is so high that it has been impossible to tell them apart when they fluoresce. Now researchers have solved this problem and proved it by filming the activity in the entire brain of a nematode worm for the first time and making the video available. Their solution comes in two parts. The first is to ensure that the inserted genes only fluoresce in the nuclei of the neurons. This makes it much easier to tell individual neurons in the brain apart. The second is a new techniques that scans the entire volume of the brain at a rate of 80 frames per second, fast enough to register all the neuronal activity within it. The researchers say their new technique should allow bigger brains to be filmed in the near future, opening up the potential to study how various creatures process information and trigger an appropriate response for the first time."
schwit1 (797399) writes "The competition heats up: SpaceX [Wednesday] released a new video of the most recent Falcon 9R vertical take-off and landing test flight. The flight was to test the deployment and use of fins for controlling the stage during its return to Earth. Watch them unfold and adjust themselves beginning at about 1:15 into the video. In the second half you can see them near the top of the stage. Yet another video from SpaceX of the world's most blase cows. You can imagine new cows to the herd, reacting to the launch as the conditioned cows just yawn, just another 100 foot tall rocket launching and landing nearby. Nothing to see here."
OakDragon (885217) writes A Toronto woman had the presence of mind to record herself, using her smartphone, as she suffered from a bout of semi-paralysis. She had suffered the same symptoms two days earlier, and had gone to the hospital; but by that time the condition had passed, and doctors sent her home. However, using the smartphone video, doctors later diagnosed her with a transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke. The diagnosis was confirmed with an MRI.
An anonymous reader writes Elon Musk says that he'll put the first human boots on Mars well before the 2020s are over. "I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's certainly possible for that to occur," he said. "But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multiplanetary." He acknowledged that the company's plans were too long-term to attract many hedge fund managers, which makes it hard for SpaceX to go public anytime soon. "We need to get where things a steady and predictable," Musk said. "Maybe we're close to developing the Mars vehicle, or ideally we've flown it a few times, then I think going public would make more sense."
An anonymous reader writes In what appears to be the first study of its kind, computer scientists report that an algorithm discovered more than 50 years ago in game theory and now widely used in machine learning is mathematically identical to the equations used to describe the distribution of genes within a population of organisms. Researchers may be able to use the algorithm, which is surprisingly simple and powerful, to better understand how natural selection works and how populations maintain their genetic diversity.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Lying in wait at the water's edge, four legs on a leaf and four legs feeling the water for vibrations, the Dolomedes triton spider can catch a fish twice its size in an instant. Holding on tight, it injects its aquatic prey with a deadly dose of venom and drags it to dry land, where it spends hours pumping it full of digestive enzymes and slurping up the fish's liquefied flesh. Fish-eating spiders sound like something out of a nightmare, but until recently, scientists were pretty sure only a few kinds of arachnids could do it. Now, a new survey shows that at least 26 species of spiders know how to fish—and they live on every continent except for Antarctica."
sandbagger sends this news from io9: In what's being heralded as a secular triumph, the U.K. government has banned the teaching of creationism as science in all existing and future academies and free schools. The new clauses, which arrived with very little fanfare last week, state that the "requirement for every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school." So, if an academy or free school teaches creationism as scientifically valid, it's breaking the funding agreement to provide a "broad and balanced curriculum." ... In addition to the new clauses, the UK government clarified the meaning of creationism, reminding everyone that it's a minority view even within the Church of England and the Catholic Church.
sciencehabit writes: A single dose of a century-old drug has eliminated autism symptoms in adult mice with an experimental form of the disorder. Originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, the compound, called suramin, quells a heightened stress response in neurons that researchers believe may underlie some traits of autism. The finding raises the hope that some hallmarks of the disorder may not be permanent, but could be correctable even in adulthood.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes When the last passenger pigeon died at a zoo in 1914, the species became a cautionary tale of the dramatic impact humans can have on the world. But a new study finds that the bird experienced multiple population booms and crashes over the million years before its final demise. The sensitivity of the population to natural fluctuations, the authors argue, could have been what made it so vulnerable to extinction.
An anonymous reader writes A cure for Type 1 diabetes is still far from sight, but new research suggests an artificial "bionic pancreas" holds promise for making it much more easily manageable. From the article: "Currently about one-third of people with Type 1 diabetes rely on insulin pumps to regulate blood sugar. They eliminate the need for injections and can be programmed to mimic the natural release of insulin by dispensing small doses regularly. But these pumps do not automatically adjust to the patient's variable insulin needs, and they do not dispense glucagon. The new device, described in a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, dispenses both hormones, and it does so with little intervention from the patient."
Zothecula (1870348) writes According to the CDC, around 48 million people in the US get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result of foodborne illnesses every year. One of the main culprits is listeriosis (or listeria), which is responsible for approximately 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths. Now researchers at the University of Southampton are using a device designed to detect the most common cause of listeriosis directly on food preparation surfaces, without the need to send samples away for laboratory testing.
schwit1 (797399) writes "A super-enriched genetically engineered banana will soon go through its first human trial, which will test its effect on vitamin A levels, Australian researchers said Monday. The project plans to have the special banana varieties — enriched with alpha and beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A — growing in Uganda by 2020. The bananas are now being sent to the United States, and it is expected that the six-week trial measuring how well they lift vitamin A levels in humans will begin soon."
An anonymous reader writes NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is moving towards Pluto to explore Charon, one of Pluto's moons. The aim of the mission is to search of evidence of an ancient underground ocean on the moon. "Our model predicts different fracture patterns on the surface of Charon depending on the thickness of its surface ice, the structure of the moon's interior and how easily it deforms, and how its orbit evolved," said Alyssa Rhoden of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "By comparing the actual New Horizons observations of Charon to the various predictions, we can see what fits best and discover if Charon could have had a subsurface ocean in its past, driven by high eccentricity."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes You're likely familiar with the theory of how the Moon formed: a stray body smashed into our young Earth, heating the planet and flinging debris into its orbit. That debris coalesced and formed the Moon. The impact theory still holds, but a team of geochemists from the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France has refined the date, finding that the Moon is about 60 million years older than we thought. As it turns out, that also means the Earth is 60 million years older than previously thought, which is a particularly cool finding considering just how hard it is to estimate the age of our planet.
An anonymous reader writes Ars Technica reports that for the first time in Bitcoin's five-year history, a single entity has repeatedly provided more than half of the total computational power required to mine new digital coins, in some cases for sustained periods of time. It's an event that, if it persists, signals the end of crypto currency's decentralized structure."
In a story that's sure to bring to the surface the long-debunked myth of an over-elaborate NASA quest to create a pen to operate in space, Wired reports that the coffee situation aboard the International Space Station is about to improve: the station will be getting a 20kg, custom designed Lavazza espresso machine, to be delivered along with Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Among other differences from terrestrial espresso machines: the resulting beverage must be pumped into a straw-friendly bag rather than a demitasse. I wonder if there could be some way to adapt a (much lighter) Aeropress for space purposes, as a backup.
A New York Times piece (as carried by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) outlines a fascinating project operating in unlikely circumstances for a quixotic goal. They want to control, and return to earth, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, launched in 1978 but which "appears to be in good working order." Engineer Dennis Wingo, along with like minded folks (of whom he says "We call ourselves techno-archaeologists") has established a business called Skycorp that "has its offices in the McDonald's that used to serve the Navy's Moffett air station, 15 minutes northwest of San Jose, Calif. After the base closed, NASA converted it to a research campus for small technology companies, academia and nonprofits. ... The race to revive the craft, ISEE-3, began in earnest in April. At the end of May, using the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the team succeeded in talking to the spacecraft, a moment Mr. Wingo described as "way cool." This made Skycorp the first private organization to command a spacecraft outside Earth orbit, he said. The most disheartening part: "No one has the full operating manual anymore, and the fragments are sometimes contradictory." The most exciting? "Despite the obstacles, progress has been steady, and Mr. Wingo said the team should be ready to fire the engines within weeks."
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes According to a Saturday story in the Los Angeles Times, the recent revival of tensions between the United States and Russia, not seen since the end of the Cold War, may provide a shot in the arm for the American rocket engine industry. Due in part in retaliation for economic sanctions that were enacted in response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine, Russia announced that it would no longer sell its own RD-180 rocket engines for American military launches. This has had American aerospace experts scrambling to find a replacement. The stakes for weaning American rockets off of dependency on Russian engines could not be starker, according to Space News. If the United States actually loses the RD-180, the Atlas V would be temporarily grounded, as many as 31 missions could be delayed, costing the United States as much as $5 billion. However SpaceX, whose Falcon family of launch vehicles has a made in the USA rocket engine, could benefit tremendously if the U.S. military switches its business from ULA while it refurbishes its own launch vehicles with new American made engines.
As reported by the San Jose Mercury News, the state of California is "in the throes of a whooping cough epidemic, state health department officials announced Friday. Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, said 3,458 cases of whooping cough have been reported since Jan. 1 -- including 800 in the past two weeks. That total is more than all the cases reported in 2013." Public broadcaster KPBS notes that of the 621 people known to have come down with whooping cough in San Diego county, the vast majority (85 percent) were up to date on their immunizations.