Posts Tagged ‘research’
It’s predicted that by the year 2050 there will be 9.3 billion people on Earth and 6.4 billion of them will be living in cities. There could also be four times as many cars on the roads as today, leading to an incredible degree of urban congestion and gridlock. That’s the impetus behind Ford and technology partner Schaeffler’s eWheelDrive electric research car, that moves the motor to the wheel hubs.
Demonstrated last Friday at Lommel, Belgium, the eWheelDrive is under development by Ford and project leader Schaeffler, a German automotive component manufacturer and supplier. The aim of the project is to investigate the potential for smaller, more agile cars better suited to crowded urban environments.
The eWheelDrive doesn’t look very revolutionary. It’s based on that most conventional of cars, the Ford Fiesta, but the real secret isn’t under the bonnet because there’s nothing there except the battery. Instead, the engine has given way to two electric motors mounted in the hubs of the rear wheels along with the braking and cooling systems.
This setup also isn’t entirely new, but what is new is the fact that the eWheelDrive is not intended to make it more sporty or just greener, but as a way of developing car technologies for increasingly crowded city streets. The design frees up space under the bonnet that is normally occupied by a conventional engine or a central electric motor, opening the door for smaller, more agile cars that are more able to negotiate the warrens of London or Hong Kong…
The aim of the project will be to increase the integration of in-wheel motors in a car, as well as studying vehicle dynamics control, braking, stability and the ”fun-to-drive” factor. The goal will be to solve problems caused by heavier wheels, improve brakes, reduce noise and vibration, improve the suspension, and ensure that the motors deliver enough torque.
Poisonally, I have little concern about power-to-weight ratios. The project cars should be miniature bullet trains. Vehicles with electric drive motors as part of the wheel assembly aren’t new; but, almost never have they been used with wheels sprung and suspended for automotive use. The ratio of sprung-to-unsprung weight can make for comfort and handling problems.
Electricity is still my favorite long-term power source. Hopefully, before I get too old to enjoy driving there will be vehicles I can afford for everyday use on my old geezer budget.
Global temperatures are warmer than at any time in at least 4,000 years, scientists reported Thursday, and over the coming decades are likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age.
Previous research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. The new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.
Even if the temperature increase from human activity that is projected for later this century comes out on the low end of estimates, scientists said, the planet will be at least as warm as it was during the warmest periods of the modern geological era, known as the Holocene, and probably warmer than that…
In the new research…Shaun Marcott, an earth scientist at Oregon State University, and his colleagues compiled the most meticulous reconstruction yet of global temperatures over the past 11,300 years, virtually the entire Holocene. They used indicators like the distribution of microscopic, temperature-sensitive ocean creatures to determine past climate…
Though the paper is the most complete reconstruction of global temperature, it is roughly consistent with previous work on a regional scale…
Scientists say that if natural factors were still governing the climate, the Northern Hemisphere would probably be destined to freeze over again in several thousand years. “We were on this downward slope, presumably going back toward another ice age,” Dr. Marcott said.
Instead, scientists believe the enormous increase in greenhouse gases caused by industrialization will almost certainly prevent that…
The modern rise that has recreated the temperatures of 5,000 years ago is occurring at an exceedingly rapid clip on a geological time scale, appearing in graphs in the new paper as a sharp vertical spike. If the rise continues apace, early Holocene temperatures are likely to be surpassed within this century, Dr. Marcott said.
Dr. Michael Mann pointed out that the early Holocene temperature increase was almost certainly slow, giving plants and creatures time to adjust. But he said the modern spike would probably threaten the survival of many species, in addition to putting severe stresses on human civilization.
“We and other living things can adapt to slower changes,” Dr. Mann said. “It’s the unprecedented speed with which we’re changing the climate that is so worrisome.”
The science is clear. It has been for a while, now. I first engaged in this debate over a decade ago and it only took me a couple of years of examining research – mostly from the Max Planck Institute – to come to conclusions requiring a commitment to action.
The opposition which fraudulently abuses the term of skeptic is well-funded by enterprise profiting from exploiting fossil fuels, populated by opportunists who hope for a pimp’s share of the action – and by the superstitious and ignorant who fear science as much as they cringe from progress.
Responsibility still accrues to those who recognize the need to act.
Wolf researcher Werner Freund bites into a deer cadaver next to a Mongolian wolf in an enclosure at Wolfspark Werner Freund, in Merzig in the German province of Saarland.
I have one old friend who I must send this to. He did the same while researching – and living with – wolves on an island in Michigan.
In May, SpaceX became the first of the new generation of commercial aerospace companies to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The cargo delivery was part of the first flight test of the integrated Falcon-9 launch vehicle and the Dragon capsule spacecraft with rendezvous and berthing mechanism systems…
One month later, China launched its fourth crewed space mission, Shenzhou-9. This was also a history-making flight, in that China, which had in 2003 become only the third nation capable of launching astronauts into space — now only one of two, since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle in 2011 — demonstrated crewed rendezvous and docking to their orbital module, Tiangong-1. The crew also featured China’s first female astronaut. They spent several days docked to Tiangong-1 conducting various operations, before safely returning to Earth on Thursday night.
China’s mission was widely covered in the international media, but the coverage in the United States was notably quieter than that of SpaceX. This is somewhat understandable, as SpaceX is an American company. But the sentiment of many in the United States is that the Chinese mission was a big “So what?” After all, the United States and Soviet governments had demonstrated crewed docking missions back in the 1960s, and operationally, China is still far behind.
We downplay China’s accomplishments at our own peril. That the United States and the Soviet Union demonstrated crewed rendezvous and docking operations more than 40 years ago is not the point. The point is, now the Chinese can do it, too.
China’s first crewed space docking was a giant step. It enables the Chinese to build and operate their own space station, establish the technology that is necessary to efficiently send astronauts to the moon and beyond, build and operate fuel depots, and construct vehicles and bases in space.
Russia has turned to earning income from their monster first stages used as the base for launching satellites for several companies. The United States is confining efforts almost exclusively to military tasks, turning down a significant number of NASA requests for peaceful purposes. Which puts the lie to whining from pundits and politicians who auto-deny China’s avowed tasking of peaceful purposes in space research.
Regardless of direction – and agitprop – China is the only nation growing a space program for the foreseeable future. I wish them well. I look forward to learning what they discover to add to our knowledge of science off-Earth.
Giving the flu vaccine to pregnant women may bring significant benefits to their babies even before birth, a new study has found.
Canadian researchers studied the records of 55,570 mothers of singletons, of whom 23,340 were vaccinated during pregnancy from November 2009 through April 2010. Compared with unvaccinated mothers, women who got the shot during the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic had fewer preterm births and stillbirths, and fewer undersize infants…
After adjusting for maternal age, smoking, hypertension and other factors, vaccinated mothers had a 27 percent decreased risk of delivering a baby before 32 weeks gestation, for example, and a 34 percent decreased risk of stillbirth.
The report, published in the June issue of The American Journal of Public Health, noted that during the H1N1 epidemic, pregnant women who had the flu were more likely than other flu patients to need hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for all pregnant women.
The lead author, Deshayne B. Fell, an epidemiologist with the Better Outcomes Registry and Network in Ottawa, said the vaccine is safe and effective. “We’re seeing no evidence of adverse fetal effects,” she said, “and some evidence that there’s a benefit.”
Unintended consequences tends to imply something dire to those of us who fritter away a portion of our lifetime studying political economics. It is a delight to witness the opposite in medicine and healthcare.
In truth, one of the positive topics I often get to blog about is exactly this sort of result as a side effect of basic research. That the positive is a side effect of a vaccine already proven a benefit to our species – is a double bonus.
Workers at the corporate office of BJ Wholesale Club in Massachusetts got a ghastly surprise on Friday when they received a package containing a dismembered woman’s torso.
Westborough police said the torso, sent from New Jersey, was supposed to end up at a medical research facility in Florida, but had been mislabeled…
Sgt. Glenn McLeod told the newspaper that workers didn’t open the box.
They saw the packing list and immediately told a supervisor. “They saw it was medical research and they knew it was not for them,” McLeod said.
Officials at BJ’s and the medical facility eventually got in contact and arranged to have the torso shipped to Florida.
Scientists have explained why eating ice cream too quickly can cause a painful headache – commonly known as brain freeze. They hope to use the discovery to develop new treatments for migraine.
The instant headache brought on by ice cold food and drinks is the bane of the summer with ice-cream lovers often seen clutching their foreheads waiting for the gripping pain to ease. Scientists have noticed that migraine sufferers are more prone to ‘brain freeze’ and wondered if the phenomenon could be turned to their advantage.
In experiments…a team of 13 healthy volunteers deliberately induced the brain freeze so the effects could be studied. It was found that the pain was brought on by a rapid increase in blood flow through a major blood vessel in the brain, the anterior cerebral artery.
By bringing on brain freeze in the laboratory the researchers were able to study a headache from beginning to end without the need for drugs that would mask the causes and symptoms of the pain.
The volunteers drank iced water through a straw that was pressed against their palate and then drank water at room temperature. Blood flow was monitored using a hand held Doppler.
It was found that the anterior cerebral artery dilated rapidly and flooded the brain with blood in conjunction to when the volunteers felt pain. Soon after this dilation occurred, the same vessel constricted as the volunteers’ pain receded.
Co-author Jorge Serrador of Harvard Medical School…said: “The brain is one of the relatively important organs in the body, and it needs to be working all the time. “It’s fairly sensitive to temperature, so vasodilatation might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm.”
But because the skull is a closed structure, the sudden influx of blood could raise pressure and induce pain, he said. By constricting the blood vessel again the body could be acting to reduce the pressure before it reaches dangerous levels, he said.
Similar alterations in blood flow could be at work in migraines, post traumatic headaches, and other headache types, he added.
If further research confirms these suspicions, then finding ways to control blood flow could offer new treatments for these conditions. Drugs that block sudden vasodilatation or target channels involved specifically in the vasodilatation of headaches could be one way of changing headaches’ course.
This would be a boon for migraine sufferers. I’ve had a few good friends over years who’ve suffered through disabling symptoms. I sympathize with their pain. A worthwhile experiment to carry forward.
For more than five weeks, a woman’s body lay undisturbed in a secluded Texas field. Then a frenzied flock of vultures descended on the corpse and reduced it to a skeleton within hours. But this was not a crime scene lost to nature. It was an important scientific experiment into the way human bodies decompose, and the findings are upending assumptions about decay that have been the basis of homicide cases for decades.
Experienced investigators would normally have interpreted the absence of flesh and the condition of the bones as evidence that the woman had been dead for six months, possibly even a year or more. Now a study of vultures at Texas State University is calling into question many of the benchmarks detectives have long relied on…
The vulture study, conducted on 26 acres near the south-central Texas campus, stemmed from previous studies that used dead pigs, which decompose much like humans. Scientists set up a motion-sensing camera that captured the vultures jumping up and down on the woman’s body, breaking some of her ribs, which investigators could also misinterpret as trauma suffered during a beating…
The forensic center opened in 2008, as did a similar facility at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, making Texas home to two of the nation’s five “body farms.”
At the farms, forensic pathologists observe the decomposition process in natural surroundings to see how corpses react to sun and shade, whether they decay differently on the surface or below ground and what sort of creatures — from large to microscopic — are involved.
Only in recent years has academic literature tried to establish formulas for death time based on stages of decomposition and environmental factors such as temperature conditions where the body was found.
The vulture research has drawn interest from homicide investigators, including Pam McInnis, president of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists and director of the Pasadena Police Crime Lab in suburban Houston. She said the ability to account for vultures would “significantly” help investigators who already use insects and their life cycles to estimate time of death…
Sgt. Jim Huggins, a recently retired Texas Department of Public Safety criminal investigator who now teaches forensic science at Baylor University, said vultures were always something of a mystery for investigators…
Previous research on scavenged remains focused on carnivores such as coyotes or rodents.
“This is, as far as I’m concerned, it’s cutting edge,” he said. “No one has ever sat down and put a pencil down and attempted this before. … This is going to, I think, change some minds about scavengers.”
RTFA for more detail abut folks who donated their bodies for these studies, details about what’s being learned, the thoughtfulness of folks who wanted to contribute just a bit more to society.
Vultures are the best sign of spring in our little community along the Santa Fe River bosque.
One of the earliest forests in the world was home to towering palmlike trees and woody plants that crept along the ground like vines, a new fossil find reveals. The forest, which stood in what is now Gilboa, N.Y., was first unearthed in a quarry in the 1920s. But now, a new construction project has revealed for the first time the forest floor as it stood 380 million years ago in the Devonian period.
“For the first time, we actually have a map of about 1,200 square meters of a Devonian forest,” said study researcher Chris Berry, a scientist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. “We know which plants were growing where in this forest, and how they were interacting.”
The fossilized forest floor contained three types of enormous plants. The first, known as the Gilboa tree or Eospermatopteris, was once thought to be the only type of tree in the forest; quarry workers have been carting specimens out of the area since the fossil plants were first discovered. This tree was tall and looked like today’s palm trees, with a crown of branches at the very top.
But an even stranger specimen lurked in this ancient forest. Amid the towering Gilboa trees were woody creeping plants with branches about 15 centimeters in diameter. These giant plants, known as progymnosperms, seemed to lean against the Gilboa trees for support, perhaps even climbing into them occasionally, Berry said…
The researchers also found a fragment of a third type of tree, lycopsids, which would later dominate the Carboniferous period from about 360 million to about 300 million years ago…
The new view of the ancient forest is changing paleontologists’ understanding of what the landscape looked like. The earliest researchers thought the forest was in a swamp, but Berry and his colleagues, including study leader William Stein of Binghamton University in New York, now believe the forest stood in a flat coastal plain near an ancient shoreline. It was probably buried and preserved when a river channel shifted, bringing in loads of sand to cover the forest floor…
“I’ve spent 20 years trying to imagine what these plants were like as individuals, and yet I really had no conception of them as an ecosystem,” Berry said. “Going to Gilboa and sitting in the middle of the forest floor, you could almost see them growing out of the ground. … The fossil forest came to life in front of my eyes in a way that has never happened before.”
More broadly, a deeper understanding of the forest helps paleontologists piece together the ecology of the very earliest forests on Earth. The Devonian period marks a time when plant life began to shift from small, scattered vegetation to large-scale forests, Berry said. Plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and during the Devonian forest boom, carbon dioxide levels may have dropped from 15 times that of today to modern levels…
“We’ve gone from knowing about plants to knowing about a forest,” Berry said. “That’s really been the breakthrough for me.”
Bravo! I know the area fairly well. Hiked the region a lot – seems like a few centuries ago.
Medicines experts are calling for a review of the 50-year-old guidelines on prescribing antibiotics to children, warning that the rise in overweight and obese youngsters may mean that some get a less than adequate dose. While they stress that there is no evidence that children are suffering as a result of under-treatment, they say there should be better guidance than the rule of thumb that has applied for half a century.
Since the 1960s, doctors have worked on the principle that a big child is equal to half an adult, a small child is equal to half a big child and a baby is equal to half a small child, say a group of doctors and scientists in the British Medical Journal.
The problem lies with the prescription of oral penicillin, such as amoxicillin which is widely used against bacterial infections in children. They make up 4.5m of the total 6m annual antibiotic prescriptions for children…
If children get less than the dose they need, there is a possibility that their infection will not clear up easily. It also raises the risk of antibiotic resistance developing. If the bug is not successfully eliminated by the antibiotic, it may mutate into a new form that is resistant to the drug – and be passed on to other children.
Dr Paul Long, senior lecturer in pharmacognosy at King’s College London, who is one of the authors, said: ‘We were surprised at the lack of evidence to support the current oral penicillins dosing recommendations for children, as it is such a commonly used drug. Children’s average size and weight are slowly but significantly changing, so what may have been adequate doses of penicillin 50 years ago are potentially not enough today.
“It is important to point out that this study does not provide any clinical evidence that children are receiving sub-optimal penicillin doses that lead to harm, and we want to reassure parents of that. But what we are saying is that we should ensure that children with severe infections who need these antibiotics the most are still receiving an effective dose …
I’ve had this discussion with local physicians over the last couple of years. Mostly, it evokes mild – and short-lived – curiosity.
As practicing GP’s they haven’t the time for detailed and scientific studies. They’ll wait for the evidence and recommendations from peer-reviewed journals, medical associations. Still, it sounds as if it’s time for some serious research on the topic. Since we’re stuck into growing obesity as thoroughly as declining education.