Category: Science

The First 3D Model of DNA Looks Like a Spinning Beach Ball of Life [Dna]

via Gizmodo by Kristen Philipkoski on 3/12/12

Click here to read The First 3D Model of DNA Looks Like a Spinning Beach Ball of Life

Scientists have created the first 3D model of DNA, thanks to a new software buit by a young Harvard scientist. Depicting the way DNA packs itself inside a cell, we couldn’t help but see it as a beach ball of life. More »


Strange Effects: The Mystifying History of Neutrino Experiments

via Wired: Wired Science by Adam Mann on 3/9/12

<< Previous | Next >>
What is a Neutrino?

  • What is a Neutrino?
  • Beta Decay Puzzle
  • Neutrinos Discovered
  • The Solar Puzzle
  • The Atmospheric Puzzle
  • A New Neutrino?
  • More Strangeness
  • Future Experiments

Late last year, scientists with the OPERA collaboration in Gran Sasso, Italy reported an incredible finding: neutrinos that appeared to be moving faster than the speed of light.
The news spread at a barely slower pace, fascinating the public. One thing everyone knows is that a very famous physicist named Albert Einstein once said that nothing should travel faster than light speed.
In February, the OPERA researchers found a couple small problems with their experimental set-up, calling into question the original faster-than-light neutrino result. The event highlighted the difficulty of science at the edge of the unknown — and neutrinos are especially tricky.
More often than not, neutrino experiments throughout history have turned up perplexing results. While most of these experiments didn’t get the high-profile attention that disputing Einstein provides, they’ve challenged scientists and helped them learn ever more about the natural world.
In this gallery, we take a look at some of the strangest historical neutrino results and the findings that still have scientists scratching their heads.

What Is a Neutrino?

Neutrinos are tiny, elusive and very common. For every proton or electron in the universe there are at least a billion neutrinos.
Researchers need to know how neutrinos work because they’re relevant to many areas of physics. These ubiquitous specks came into existence milliseconds after the Big Bang, and new neutrinos are created during the radioactive decay of elements, nuclear reactions within stars and the explosive collapse of supernovas.
“They’re one of the dominant particles in the universe but we still know very little about them,” said physicist Bill Louis of Los Alamos National Lab, co-spokesperson for the MiniBooNE neutrino experiment.
Neutrinos are so hard to study because they barely interact with other matter. Unlike the more familiar electron, they have no electromagnetic charge. They pass as easily through lead walls as through mist, and are so light that scientists long thought they had no mass at all. Detecting them requires closely watching a large tank of material, such a water, on the off chance that a neutrino will hit another particle and produce an observable change.
Image: Researchers sit in a boat inside the Super-Kamiokande neutrino experiment in Japan. The detector is made from a tank filled with 50,000 tons of water and lined with more than 11,000 photomultiplier tubes. (Kamioka Observatory/ICRR/University of Tokyo)

Can LSD Cure Your Addictions? [Science]

via Gizmodo by Jamie Condliffe on 3/9/12

Click here to read Can LSD Cure Your Addictions?

You might not expect one of the most potent hallucinogens of all time to be useful in the treatment of addiction. But weirdly that’s exactly what a new study shows. More »

Strong Solar Storm Could Produce Auroras Over Northern U.S.

via Wired: Wired Science by Adam Mann on 3/8/12

The most powerful solar storm in five years hit Earth on March 8, and could create northern lights far south of their usual range.
On March 6, the sun produced two enormous X-class flares – the most powerful types of blasts to erupt from the sun’s surface – that flung waves of charged particles into space. The particle bursts are called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, and as they hit Earth’s atmosphere they can disrupt communication satellites and power grids. But the interaction of CMEs with Earth’s magnetic field also produces the incredible displays known as the northern lights.
When the storm reached Earth, it was slightly weaker than expected, and the alignment of Earth’s magnetic field with the CME’s magnetism further weakened the storm. On the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center’s Facebook page, the effect was likened to two bar magnets placed side-by-side with their poles misaligned. But NOAA goes on to note that the storm may take 24 hours to completely pass and could intensify further. Officials predict a “strong” geomagnetic storm before the CME is done.
If the storm reaches predicted intensities, it could cause northern lights as far south as geomagnetic latitude 50 (this is not identical to geographic latitude). This includes most of the northeastern U.S., the upper Great Plains region, and Washington state. You can check your geomagnetic latitude at the SWPC website.

If you’re in line to potentially see the northern lights tonight, you can increase your chances by getting away from bright cities and looking for clear, cloudless skies. Any amateur photographers can send their best shots to us.
The sun is currently waking up from a lull in its 11-year solar cycle. The next several years should see increased activity, and there’s a real possibility of a dangerously strong solar storm occurring in the next decade. In addition to the double burst on March 6, another powerful X1.1-class flare erupted from the sun’s surface on March 4, but its CME missed Earth.
NASA has also built an app that can send the most up-to-date space weather information directly to your smartphone.


Calling Chicken Little: Clouds Getting Lower

via Wired: Wired Science by Wired UK on 2/24/12

By Duncan Geere, Wired UK
Chicken Licken was right, the sky really is falling. NASA satellite data has shown that the Earth’s cloud tops have been lowering over the last decade.

Wired U.K.
Cloud-top height fell 1 percent on average between March 2000 and February 2010, according to measurements from the multi-angle imaging spectroradiometer mounted on NASA’s Terra satellite. That 1 percent means a reduction of 30 to 40 meters in the average maximum height of clouds, during the 00s.

While the short record means it’s difficult to draw any strong conclusions from the data, it does hint towards a longer-term trend. Roger Davies, the lead researcher on the project, warns that it’s something that should be monitored in the coming decades to determine how significant it is for global temperatures.
If there is indeed a consistent reduction in cloud height, and this isn’t just natural variability, then Earth would begin cooling to space more efficiently, reducing the surface temperatures and slowing the effects of climate change. “We don’t know exactly what causes the cloud heights to lower,” Davies said in a press release. “But it must be due to a change in the circulation patterns that give rise to cloud formation at high altitude.”
The Terra spacecraft, which launched in 1999 and records three-dimensional images of clouds around the globe, will continue gathering data in the coming years.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech [high-resolution]

MIT Researchers Build Wireless ‘Pharmacy on a Chip’

By Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld Feb 17, 2012 6:20 pm

Researchers at MIT have developed what they’re hoping will be something of a pharmacy on a chip.

Scientists have developed a wirelessly controlled and programmable microchip that can be implanted into the human body to deliver medicine — and it could replace daily drug injections, according to MIT.

“You could literally have a pharmacy on a chip,” said MIT professor Robert Langer, who worked on the project with fellow MIT professor Michael Cima. “You can do remote control delivery, you can do pulsatile drug delivery, and you can deliver multiple drugs.”

[RELATED: New Biochip Gives
Blood Test Results in Minutes

The university researchers worked with scientists at MicroCHIPS Inc., a medical product company based in Waltham, Mass.

The university reported that the wireless chips were tested delivering an osteoporosis drug called Teriparatide to seven women between the ages of 65 and 70. The test reportedly showed that the chips delivered dosages comparable to injections with no adverse side effects.

The chips were reportedly implanted in the patients in a doctor’s office using a local anesthetic and left in the patients for four months.

According to MIT, the chips also could be used for treating patients fighting cancer and multiple sclerosis.

“Compliance is very important in a lot of drug regimens, and it can be very difficult to get patients to accept a drug regimen where they have to give themselves injections,” Cima said in a written statement. “This avoids the compliance issue completely, and points to a future where you have fully automated drug regimens.”

Nearly a year ago, researchers at the Polytechnique Montreal, a Canadian university, announced that they were using nanotechnology and a tiny remote-controlled magnetic sphere to deposit cancer-fighting drugs directly on a targeted area on an animal’s liver.

And in June 2010, scientists at Rice University reported that they had added nanoechnology to an off-the-shelf digital camera to help doctors distinguish healthy cells from cancerous cells in the human body. Targeted nanoparticles deliver fluorescent dyes to cells and then the cancerous cells can be seen on the souped-up camera’s LCD screen.

Back in 2009, Stanford University researchers announced that they had used nanotechnology and magnetics to create a biosensor designed to detect cancer in its early stages, making a cure more likely. University scientists reported that the sensor, which sits on a microchip, is 1,000 times more sensitive than cancer detectors used clinically today.

For the current wireless microchip research being done at MIT, scientists began working on the project in the mid-1990s.

[space photos]

Most Amazing High Definition Image of Earth - Blue Marble 2012

Most Amazing High Definition Image of Earth – Blue Marble 2012

January 25, 2012

*Updated February 2, 2012: According to Flickr, “The western hemisphere Blue Marble 2012
image has rocketed up to over 3.1 milling views making it one of the all time most viewed images on the site after only one week.”

A ‘Blue Marble’ image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite – Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth’s surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed ‘Suomi NPP’ on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.

Suomi NPP is NASA’s next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.

Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.

To read more about NASA’s Suomi NPP go to:

Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

NASA image use policy.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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Instead of spending millions upon millions to clean up the next oil spill, why don’t we just all pitch in and buy some soap? That’s basically what researchers at the University of Bristol are proposing, with a new kind of soap that’s apparently like no other. This soap, you see, is magnetic, which means it could be easily removed from water without leaving behind any hazardous chemicals — a potentially major selling point for cleanup crews and environmentalists alike. To create it, the team collected water with chlorine and bromine ions, and used it to dissolve iron particles, creating a metallic core. They proceeded to test their creation by placing the soapy particles within a test tube, underneath layers of water and oil. Much to their delight, they were able to remove the particles with only a magnet, ostensibly providing a template upon which disaster response crews may build.

Magnetic soap could make your next oil spill less oily originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 24 Jan 2012 16:24:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | sourceNew Scientist | Email this | Comments

Optogenetics might be a relatively unknown area of neuroscience, but it’s one that, thanks to some new research, could soon find itself (and its rodental subjects) in the spotlight. For the uninitiated, it’s the practice of manipulating animal cells using light (with a little help from gene therapy). Until now, optogenetic equipment has been large and unwieldy, making testing on subjects (read: rats) painstaking. Startup, Kendall Research, has changed all this, creating wireless prototypes that weigh just three grams (0.11 ounces). By eschewing bulky Lasers for LEDs and Laser diodes, the equipment is small enough that it can be attached to the rodents. At that point, their brain function can be manipulated with the touch of a button, and different parts can be stimulated without breeding mutant variants — a controversial practice that doesn’t even yield results in real time. The “router” is powered wirelessly by super capacitors below test area, and researchers can conduct experiments remotely, even automatically. Human applications for this are still some way off, but we’re sure our future overlords will make good use of it.

Researchers develop ‘wireless optical brain router’ to manipulate brain cells originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 24 Jan 2012 18:58:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink ExtremeTech | sourceTechnology Review | Email this | Comments

The Earth Has a Ring Science