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- A 50-ton bowhead whale caught last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt – more than a century ago.
- Researchers have detected DNA variations that underlie seven common diseases, discovering unexpected links between them.
- More than two million people in Wuxi, China were left without clean tap water to drink or wash in due to a putrid algae growth choking Taihu lake.
- A Prius charging it’s battery from a solar collector integrated into its roof? Yes.
Female sharks can fertilize their own eggs and give birth without sperm from males, according to a new study of the asexual reproduction of a hammerhead shark in a U.S. zoo. Asexual reproduction is common in some insect species, rarer in reptiles and fish, and has never been documented in mammals. The list of animals documented as capable of this has grown along with the numbers being raised in captivity — but until now, sharks were not considered a likely candidate.
Speedy solar storms carrying a billion tons of charged gas through space let out a thunderous scream before they unleash satellite-stopping radiation storms that slam into Earth’s magnetic field. This finding could give astronauts and engineers forewarning of a type of coronal mass ejection (CME) capable of showering Earth, spacecraft and space travelers with damaging radiation.
UCLA molecular biologists have turned protein sequences into original compositions of classical music. Similar amino acids are paired together and chords and chord variations are used for each amino acid. Each component of the music indicates a specific characteristic of the protein. The rhythm is dictated by the protein sequence. On the biologists’ website ( www.mimg.ucla.edu/faculty/miller_jh/gene2music/examples.html), you can listen to the compositions and even submit your own genetic sequence and have it translated to music.
A 50-ton bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt – more than a century ago. Embedded deep under its blubber was a 3 1/2-inch arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale’s age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old.
Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have applied for a U.S. patent on a minimal bacterial genome that they built themselves. According to the patent application, it’s “a minimal set of protein-coding genes which provides the information required for replication of a free-living organism in a rich bacterial culture medium.” A patent expert writes, “We think these monopoly claims signal the start of a high-stakes commercial race to synthesize and privatize synthetic life forms.”
Canadian researchers have developed the most detailed model of a human yet, a movable “4D” image that doctors can use to plan complex surgery or show patients what ailments look like inside their bodies. Called CAVEman, the larger-than-life computer image encompasses more than 3,000 distinct body parts, all viewed in a booth that gives the image height, width and depth. CAVEman also plots the passage of time — the fourth “D.”
A device that specifically targets rapidly growing cancer cells with intermediate frequency electrical fields, called Tumor-Treating Fields (TTFields), has doubled the survival rates of patients with brain cancer. It uses electrical fields to disrupt tumor growth by interfering with cell division of cancerous cells, causing them to stop proliferating and die off instead of dividing and growing. Healthy brain cells rarely divide and have different electrical properties than cancerous brain cells. This allows the device to target cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells.
Google has expanded its mission to lay bare the world’s information by investing in 23andMe, a company set up by its co-founder’s wife that lets users trawl their genetic profile online. The move comes as Google, keen to present itself as a benign Big Brother, radically extends its efforts to build precise profiles of online consumers to target advertising campaigns more precisely.
Three separate groups of scientists working in Japan and the US have used skin cells from adult mice to make cells that are inidistinguishable from embryonic stem cells. Scientists all over the world are now racing to replicate the remarkably simple method in humans, and if successful it could one day lessen or remove the need to use embryos.
Applying a new genomic technique to a large group of patients, researchers in Britain have detected DNA variations that underlie seven common diseases, discovering unexpected links between them. The seven diseases are bipolar disorder, coronary artery disease, Crohn’s disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
A new feature in Google’s map service is called Street View. Type in your address and you may see a street-level view of your building – and even what’s visible through your windows. It’s not available for all addresses yet but it raises questions about where you draw the line between taking public photos and zooming in on people’s lives.
The Livescribe is a paper-based computing platform – the combination of a smartpen, paper, software applications, and development tools that may be available around the end of the year. The smartpen will be less than $200. Additional dot paper will be available at prices comparable to standard paper products. Click on the animations to get a sneak peek.
One of Microsoft Corp.’s biggest secrets looks like a normal coffee table until it’s switched on. After years of covert development, Microsoft says it will release a computer that uses the tabletop as its high-resolution display, recognizes objects placed on the surface and skips the traditional keyboard and mouse in favor of fingers on the screen.
Researchers from Mid Sweden University have constructed an interactive paper billboard that emits recorded sound in response to a user’s touch. The key to the billboard’s capabilities is a layer of digital paper embedded with electronics. This is printed with conductive inks, which, when pressed, relay information to a micro-computer that contains recorded audio files.
Tiny amounts of the estrogen used in birth control pills can cause wild fish populations to collapse, according to a new study. The finding raises concern about even low levels of estrogen in municipal wastewater, Male fish exposed to the hormone become feminized—they produce the same proteins that female fish do to develop eggs. Some males even develop eggs in their testes.
In Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma scientists are finding blue catfish that look perfectly healthy on the outside, but some female blue catfish have turned out to have discolored eggs. Normally yellow or cream-colored, a few fish had purple eggs. Scientists were baffled and still are.
A British Antarctic Survey reported a 12% increase in the speed of over 300 glaciers monitored by satellite between 1993 and 2003. It is already accepted that global warming is causing more snow to melt in the Antarctic summer and that coastal ice shelves are retreating. The new study found that the glaciers picked up speed as they headed towards the sea. As they thinned, their meltwater acted as a lubricant between the ice and the underlying rock bed, reducing friction.
Authorities have ordered heavily polluting industries around China’s third largest freshwater lake to close after drinking water for millions of people was contaminated. More than two million people in Wuxi city in the eastern province of Jiangsu were left without clean tap water to drink or wash in due to a putrid algae growth choking Taihu lake, once renowned for its scenic beauty. Extra water from China’s longest river, the Yangtze, was being diverted into the lake to dilute the pollution, while boats have already removed up to 6,000 tons of algae.
The landmark U.S. law to fight water pollution will now apply only to bodies of water large enough for boats to use, and their adjacent wetlands, and will not automatically protect streams according to the U.S. government. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers wrote the new guidelines after the Supreme Court split a year ago in a case about which waters fall under the Clean Water Act.
Covered in a grey putty-like silicone skin the baby bot can roll around and ‘speak’. It can even take a few steps if encouraged enough. It has 197 tactile sensors embedded in its outer layer and 51 compressed air-powered actuators, which allow it to react to touch.
Solar is the fastest growing energy source, but still provides less than 1% of the world’s electricity, in part because its power can cost homeowners twice as much as power from the grid. But costs could fall 40% in the next few years as polysilicon becomes more available. Two major trends will accelerate the growth of photovoltaics: the development of advanced technologies, and the emergence of China as a low-cost producer.
Researchers have developed a novel method using multiple enzymes as a catalyst for the direct, low-cost production of hydrogen from biomass. They use a combination of 13 enzymes to form an unnatural enzymatic pathway to completely convert polysaccharides—e.g., starch and cellulose—and water into hydrogen at a yield higher than the theoretical yield of biological hydrogen fermentations.
The patent-pending, Neo-Aerodynamic harnesses torque from both kinetic and pneumatic energy of the fluid flow (wind or water). Since the ‘lift’ forces are caused by artificial flow of the fluid (air/wind) around the center of the turbine, the turbine’s worst enemy — turbulence — is neutralized. The efficiencies are high enough to make this turbine design economically competitive with fossil-fuel-generated electricity and it functions well in low wind areas, making it ideal for city/urban roof top and back yard settings, requiring no tower.
A Prius with a solar collector on its roof? Yes. This company makes a solar charging system for hybrid electric vehicles that provides increased electric driving range and improved fuel economy. The system was designed and engineered as an easy to install (2 to 3 hours) integrated accessory system with a custom molded low profile solar module, supplemental battery pack and a proven charge controlling system.
Live Fuels is a national alliance of labs and scientists dedicated to transforming algae into biocrude by the year 2010. Theoretically, algae can yield 1,000 to 20,000 gallons of oil per acre. Theoretically, the U.S. could grow enough algae on 20 million acres to replace imported oil. LiveFuels is working to make this a reality.
Most conventional solar cells are one-sun, single-junction silicon cells that use only the light intensity that the sun produces naturally, and have optimal efficiency for a relatively narrow range of photon energies. A new design employs multijunction solar cells that use high intensities of sunlight, the equivalent of 100s of suns, concentrated by lenses or mirrors. Significantly, the multijunction cells can also use the broad range of wavelengths in sunlight much more efficiently than single-junction cells.
With rising gas prices, diesel cars and SUVs are gearing up for a major American comeback after a brief appearance 25 years ago. Today, half the cars sold in Europe are diesels that are virtually indistinguishable from their gasoline-burning siblings. Except they use a lot less fuel.
Dennis M. Bushnell is Chief Scientist, NASA, Langley Research Center. In this interview with him, he discusses two global warming issues, one related to CO2/Atmospheric Composition and one which is not yet on the societal radar screen associated with the waste heat attendant to human energy utilization. Dr. Bushnell will speak at The Arlington Institute on September 11, 2007.
University of Utah physicists have developed small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity. The technology holds promise for changing waste heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy and cooling computers and radars. The devices could be used within two years as an alternative to photovoltaic cells for converting sunlight into electricity.
It’s possible to wirelessly power a 60-watt light bulb sitting about two meters away from a power source. Using a remarkably simple setup – basically consisting of two metal coils – they have demonstrated, for the first time, that it is feasible to efficiently send that much power over such a distance. The experiment paves the way for wirelessly charging batteries in laptops, mobile phones, and music players, as well as cutting the electric cords on household appliances
A meat packer in Kansas, Creekstone Farms, wants to test all of its cows for Mad Cow Disease but the U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to stop them. Under current regulations, USDA tests less than one % of all slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal if meat from affected animals is ingested by humans. To prevent that, Creekstone Farms has announced its intention to test every cow moving through its plant. But the federal government has taken the company to court to try to stop it.
Asia is bracing for a dramatic surge in cancer rates over the next decade as people in the developing world live longer and adopt bad Western habits that greatly increase the risk of the disease. Smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy foods, all linked to various cancers, will combine with larger populations and fewer deaths from infectious diseases to drive Asian cancer rates up 60% by 2020, some experts predict.
President Bush has signed a directive granting extraordinary powers to the office of the president in the event of a declared national emergency, apparently without congressional approval or oversight. The directive establishes under the office of the president a new national continuity coordinator whose job is to make plans for “National Essential Functions” of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president’s directives in the event of a national emergency. For specifics, please see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070509-12.html
The US military has begun to plan for a possible avian flu pandemic that could kill as many as three million people in the United States in as little as six weeks, according to a Pentagon planning document. The Defense Department’s “Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza,” which was posted on a Pentagon website, lays out guidelines and planning assumptions for US military services and combatant commands. “A pandemic in the United States could result in 20-35 percent of the population becoming ill, three percent being hospitalized, and a fatality rate of one percent,” the document said in a section on “planning assumptions.”
As concerns grow that terrorists might attack a major American city with a nuclear bomb, a high-level group of government and military officials has been quietly preparing an emergency survival program that would include the building of bomb shelters, steps to prevent panicked evacuations and the possible suspension of some civil liberties. Last month senior government and military officials and other experts, organized by a joint Stanford-Harvard program called the Preventive Defense Project, met behind closed doors in Washington for a day-long workshop. Perhaps the most sobering issue discussed was the possibility of a chaotic, long-term crisis triggered by fears that the attackers might have more bombs. Such uncertainty could sow panic nationwide.
Russell “Rusty” Schweickart, the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 9 mission, called a recently issued NASA report on Earth-threatening asteroids, “flawed” and “not valid.” Schweickart noted that Earth impacts of huge space rocks are rare – but next year is the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Siberia-smacking Tunguska event of a 45 to 50 meter diameter asteroid. “Had it hit a couple of hours later it might have wiped out London or Moscow…instead it wiped out 2,000 square kilometers of Siberia forest and maybe a few reindeer,” Schweickart observed.
Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (such as Notre Dame cathedral) scraped from around the Web, this short video demonstrates Photosynth (based on Seadragon) technology to create multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. It permits a composite visual image of something to be assembled by creating what are essentially content-based hyperlinks between all the images of the item (person/place/thing) available throughout the internet.
Hubble’s “Image Tours” show you Hubble pictures through an astronomer’s eyes, pinpointing and explaining key features. Point and click through these interactive images to add understanding to the joy of cosmic sightseeing. Take an armchair tour of the Tadpole Gallaxy, the Helix Nebula, the Eagle Nebula and six others; the beauty of the universe is astonishing.
Ukrainian researchers have been working on the real life nanotech equivalent the “elixir of life”: hydrated fullerenes. Nobel Laureate, Sir H.W. Kroto, the co-discoverer of fullerene, commenting on the Ukrainian research wrote: “…Thank you very much for your very interesting paper on the water solubility of fullerenes. It looks like a very important advance, in particular for pharmaceutical applications. I do hope that it turns out to be a major step forward…. “
In her opening testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling, assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Justice Liaison to the White House, dropped The Big One… and the Committee members didn’t even know it. Goodling testified that Gonzales’ Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: Sampson denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin’s “involvement in ‘caging’ voters” in 2004.
The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn. – Alvin Toffler
A special thanks to Bernard Calil, Ken Dabkowski, Free Energy News, Neil Freer, Ursula Freer, Trevor Goldstein, Humera Khan, KurzweilAI, Sher Patterson-Black, Diane C. Petersen, Chris Robinson, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell and Adrian Taylor, our contributors to this issue. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.