Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
Canadian researchers said a message in a bottle revealed a rock cairn located 333 feet from a glacier was only 3.9 feet away in 1959.
Warwick Vincent, who led a team of scientists studying at Laval University’s remote research station in Ward Hunt Island, one of the most northerly pieces of Canadian land, said the team discovered a message in a bottle placed on a cairn of rocks that appeared to have been built by humans, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Tuesday.
“It was really quite extraordinary to be holding that piece of paper in my hands,” Vincent was quoted as saying.
The note was written by U.S. geologist Paul T. Walker and dated July 10, 1959. It asked whoever discovered the message to measure the distance between a nearby cairn and a glacier, a distance of only 3.9 feet when the letter was written.
The distance between the cairn and glacier has since grown to 333 feet, the researchers said.
Walker died at the age of 27 only a few months after writing the note…
Vincent said he and his team added another note to the bottle in the hopes of hearing from future visitors.
You have to presume Walker was concerned about the glacier melting, retreating. If it had continued normal glaciation and expansion, the cairn wouldn’t be visible today.
Foresight in a society that still doesn’t value science or the predictive nature of scientific analysis.
“At least three different lines of scientific inquiry allow us to tell a story about cat domestication that is reminiscent of the old ‘house that Jack built’ nursery rhyme,” said study co-author Fiona Marshall, PhD…
“Our data suggest that cats were attracted to ancient farming villages by small animals, such as rodents that were living on the grain that the farmers grew, ate and stored.”…The study provides the first direct evidence for the processes of cat domestication.
“Results of this study show that the village of Quanhucun was a source of food for the cats 5,300 years ago, and the relationship between humans and cats was commensal, or advantageous for the cats,” Marshall said. “Even if these cats were not yet domesticated, our evidence confirms that they lived in close proximity to farmers, and that the relationship had mutual benefits…”
While it often has been argued that cats were attracted to rodents and other food in early farming villages and domesticated themselves, there has been little evidence for this theory.
The evidence for this study is derived from research in China led by Yaowu Hu and colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Hu and his team analyzed eight bones from at least two cats excavated from the site.
Using radiocarbon dating and isotopic analyses of carbon and nitrogen traces in the bones of cats, dogs, deer and other wildlife unearthed near Quanhucan, the research team demonstrated how a breed of once-wild cats carved a niche for themselves in a society that thrived on the widespread cultivation of the grain millet.
…Carbon and nitrogen isotopes show that cats were preying on animals that lived on farmed millet, probably rodents. At the same time, an ancient rodent burrow into a storage pit and the rodent-proof design of grain storage pots indicate that farmers had problems with rodents in the grain stores.
Other clues gleaned from the Quanhucun food web suggest the relationship between cats and humans had begun to grow closer. One of the cats was aged, showing that it survived well in the village. Another ate fewer animals and more millet than expected, suggesting that it scavenged human food or was fed.
Recent DNA studies suggest that most of the estimated 600 million domestic cats now living around the globe are descendants most directly of the Near Eastern Wildcat, one of the five Felis sylvestris lybica wildcat subspecies still found around the Old World…
“We do not yet know whether these cats came to China from the Near East, whether they interbred with Chinese wild-cat species, or even whether cats from China played a previously unsuspected role in domestication,” Marshall said.
Wow. Would I ever love to see a docudrama in classic Chinese-film style about this.
Lunar lander viewed from Jade Rabbit rover
Jade Rabbit rolled down a ramp lowered by the lander and on to the volcanic plain known as Sinus Iridum at 04:35 Beijing time on Saturday (20:35 GMT).
It moved to a spot a few metres away, its historic short journey recorded by the lander.
On Sunday evening the two machines began photographing each other…
Image of the rover taken from the lunar probe/lander
The first soft landing on the Moon since 1976 is the latest step in China’s ambitious space programme, says BBC science reporter Paul Rincon.
The lander will operate there for a year, while the rover is expected to work for some three months…
According to Chinese space scientists, the mission is designed to test new technologies, gather scientific data and build intellectual expertise. It will also scout valuable mineral resources that could one day be mined.
After this, a mission to bring samples of lunar soil back to Earth is planned for 2017. And this may set the stage for further robotic missions, and – perhaps – a crewed lunar mission in the 2020s.
Bravo. As I mentioned in an earlier post, building a moon base always made more sense to me than the orbiting International Space Station.
Although the flu vaccine’s effectiveness is less than 100 percent, U.S. health officials say there would be less sickness if more adults were vaccinated.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said although the flu vaccine’s efficacy isn’t as high as they would like — and it is less effective for seniors — boosting coverage with the current vaccine could raise the number of prevented illnesses, clinic visits and hospitalizations.
“We wish that influenza vaccines worked better than they do but we know that influenza vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from influenza. And influenza is really common. If we had higher coverage — vaccination rate — against influenza, if we had 70 percent of the country vaccinated instead of about 45 percent of the country vaccinated we could have prevented 30,000 more hospitalizations,” Dr. Ann Schuchat, CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters.
“One day we’ll probably have a really, really super duper influenza vaccine with higher effectiveness in the most vulnerable. But today we don’t. The vaccines we have right now can save lives and can prevent hospitalizations. One group we’re particularly interested in is younger adults.”
The elderly consistently get an influenza vaccination every year, but if more of adults age 65 and younger would be vaccinated they would protect not only themselves from the flu, but the most vulnerable as well — the very very young, the very old and the very sick, Schuchat said…
…Influenza vaccine protects one’s self…and reduce the chances you’ll spread the flu to those around you, particularly babies under six months who are too young to be vaccinated and the frail elderly whose immune system doesn’t respond as well to the vaccine.”
Please don’t tire of hearing me repeat myself about the need to vaccinated. Not just for influenza – but, make certain your kids and grandkids get all the necessary shots.
Yes, you can find a couple of scientists fixated on some tiny fraction of data that inflates to silliness and fear in their minds. They blather about dangers that exist essentially in their own minds. That’s as true of vaccinations, flu shots, cripes – even sanitary conditions among field hands – as it is about the nearness of asteroids passing by Earth.
The overwhelming body of information, research and history of pandemics confirms the value of vaccination to the whole population and specific portions of our species affected in unique fashion by particular diseases. If you can’t keep up with learning that never comes to a halt – at least decide to jettison the superstitions and foolishness that keep your life’s progress a century or two behind what society is capable of.
Forget those clumsy, complicated, home cholesterol-testing devices. Cornell engineers have created the Smartphone Cholesterol Application for Rapid Diagnostics, or “smartCARD,” which employs your smartphone’s camera to read your cholesterol level.
“Smartphones have the potential to address health issues by eliminating the need for specialized equipment,” said David Erickson, Cornell associate professor of mechanical engineering and senior author on a new peer-reviewed study. Thanks to advanced, sophisticated camera technology, Erickson and his colleagues have created a smartphone accessory that optically detects biomarkers in a drop of blood, sweat or saliva. The new application then discerns the results using color analysis…
Currently, the test measures total cholesterol. The Erickson lab is working to break out those numbers in LDL (“bad” cholesterol), HDL (“good” cholesterol) and triglyceride measurements. The lab is also working on detecting vitamin D levels, and has previously demonstrated smartphone tests for periodontitis and sweat electrolyte levels.
“By 2016, there will be an estimated 260 million smartphones in use in the United States. Smartphones are ubiquitous,” said Erickson, adding that although smartCARD is ready to be brought to market immediately, he is optimistic that it will have even more its advanced capabilities in less than a year. “Mobil health is increasing at an incredible rate,” he concluded…
Health selfies will end up meaning as much or more in 3rd World and developing regions of the world. Local health technicians can setup and oversee affordable procedures in countries where the growth of mobile phones far exceeds either telephone networks or readily available health clinics.
You’ve probably seen a light powered by a lemon or a clock hooked up to a potato before, but a group in London recently built a similar device using a much smaller, less popular piece of produce. To promote The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, a team of designers built the world’s first Brussels sprout-powered battery and hooked it up to a set of Christmas tree lights.
Every year, the fair’s organizers try to find new ways to get kids interested in science and technology. So after a survey found that most children in the UK would like to take Brussels sprouts off of the traditional Christmas menu, the group came up with the idea for the vegetable-powered tree and enlisted the help of the Designworks design group to make it happen…
The battery itself is comprised of five power cells, which are modeled after the appearance of natural Brussels sprouts stalks. Each cell is surrounded by 200 sprouts for a grand total of 1,000 Brussels sprouts in the whole battery. The sprouts are each mounted onto copper and zinc electrodes, which triggers a chemical reaction between the electrolytes in each sprout and produces a small current. A capacitor collects and stores the energy from all the sprouts before releasing it to the tree’s lights. A digital display on top of the battery also shows how much voltage it is producing in real-time.
Even with a huge amount of Brussels sprouts though, the battery can only produce about 62 volts and 10mA of current, which is low but still enough to power the tree’s 100 high-efficiency LEDs. According to the organizers, the sprouts should be able to light up the tree for several weeks, though they will need to be exchanged for fresh ones at some point to keep the tree lit over the holidays.
Bravo! Though we normally consume Brussel Sprouts at our house roasted with garlic and olive oil.
China’s lunar probe Chang’e-3, with the country’s first moon rover onboard, successfully landed on the moon on Saturday night, marking the first time that China has sent a spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.
The lunar probe began to carry out soft-landing on the moon at 9 p.m. Saturday and touched down in Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, 11 minutes later, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
During the process, the probe decelerated from 15 km above the moon, stayed hovering at 100 meters from the lunar surface to use sensors to assess the landing area to avoid obstacles and locate the final landing spot, and descended slowly onto the surface.
The success made China the third country, after the United States and the Soviet Union, to soft-land on the moon…
Chang’e-3 relied on auto-control for descent, range and velocity measurements, finding the proper landing point, and free-falling…
Chang’e-3 includes a lander and a moon rover called “Yutu” (Jade Rabbit).
Yutu’s tasks include surveying the moon’s geological structure and surface substances and looking for natural resources. The lander will operate there for one year while the rover will be there for three months.
Chang’e-3 is part of the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to the Earth. It follows the success of the Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.
The successful landing shows China has the ability of in-situ exploration on an extraterrestrial body, said Sun Huixian, deputy engineer-in-chief in charge of the second phase of China’s lunar program…
Chang’e-3 is the world’s first soft-landing of a probe on the moon in nearly four decades. The last such soft-landing was carried out by the Soviet Union in 1976…
For an ancient civilization like China, landing on the moon embodies another meaning. The moon, a main source for inspiration, is one of the most important themes in Chinese literature and ancient Chinese myths, including that about Chang’e, a lady who took her pet “Yutu” to fly toward the moon, where she became a goddess.
“Though people have discovered that the moon is bleached and desolate, it doesn’t change its splendid role in Chinese traditional culture,” said Zhang Yiwu, a professor with Peking University.
“Apart from scientific exploration, the lunar probe is a response to China’s traditional culture and imagination. China’s lunar program will proceed with the beautiful legends,” Zhang said.
Bravo! The space geeks in my extended family have always preferred the concept of eventually building a moonbase instead of the International Space Station. Since that is the plan of China’s combined space agency, we’ll get a chance to see if we were as farsighted as we absolutely think we are.
Scientists in Australia have reported the discovery of huge freshwater reserves preserved in aquifers under the world’s oceans. The water has remained shielded from seawater thanks to the accumulation of a protective layer of sediment and clay. And it’s not a local phenomenon. Such reserves are to be found under continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.
The discovery was made by researchers at the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the School of the Environment at Flinders University. The scientists estimate there is around half a million cubic kilometers of what they describe as “low salinity” water, which means it could be processed into fresh, potable water economically.
The reserves formed when ocean levels were lower and rainwater made its way into the ground in land areas that were not covered until the ice caps melted 20,000 years ago, causing sea levels to rise…
To access these non-renewable water reserves, it would be necessary to drill into the seabed from man-made, offshore platforms or from the mainland or nearby islands. Despite the high costs involved, the water would require less energy to desalinate than it does to desalinate sea water, although a careful assessment of the economics, sustainability and environmental impact of the exploration of such water reserves would be necessary.
Our history as a species is characterized by the quest for scarce goods. When these are the stuff of life – rather than baubles for princes, pundits and priests – conflict often is the result. One must hope that when technology is sufficiently advanced for economic access to these reserves our politics and ethics are equal to humane distribution.
The region located between the surface of the sun and its atmosphere has been revealed as a more violent place than previously understood, according to images and data from NASA’s newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS.
Solar observatories look at the sun in layers. By capturing light emitted by atoms of different temperatures, they can focus in on different heights above the sun’s surface extending well out into the solar atmosphere, the corona. On June 27, 2013, IRIS, was launched, to study what’s known as the interface region – a layer between the sun’s surface and corona that previously was not well observed.
Over its first six months, IRIS has thrilled scientists with detailed images of the interface region, finding even more turbulence and complexity than expected. IRIS scientists presented the mission’s early observations at a press conference at the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting on Dec. 9, 2013.
“The quality of images and spectra we are receiving from IRIS is amazing,” said Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, Calif. “And we’re getting this kind of quality from a smaller, less expensive mission, which took only 44 months to build.”
Click through the link [above] and discover details, photos and a snazzy video. Enjoy!
The High Line, a park that turned a dilapidated stretch of elevated railway on Manhattan’s West Side into one of New York’s newest tourist attractions, may have brought a different kind of visitor: a cockroach that can withstand harsh winter cold and never seen before in the U.S.
Rutgers University insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista said the species Periplaneta japonica is well documented in Asia but was never confirmed in the United States until now. The scientists, whose findings were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, say it is too soon to predict the impact but that there is probably little cause for concern…
Michael Scharf, a professor of urban entomology at Purdue University, said the discovery is something to monitor.
“To be truly invasive, a species has to move in and take over and out-compete a native species,” he said. “There’s no evidence of that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about it…”
Periplaneta japonica has special powers not seen in the local roach population: It can survive outdoors in the freezing cold…
The likelihood that the new species will mate with the locals to create a hybrid super-roach is slim.
MIMIC is one of my favorite sci-fi flicks. That it had a terrific cast along with solid writing did it no harm. The CGI was an early example of just how intricate and realistic computer-generated illustration was becoming in the movie world.
I will wait and watch. Bwahahaha!