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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Wed Oct 02, 2013 11:24 pm

News in Brief: Altered wine chemical helps kills cancer

Modified forms of the red wine compound resveratrol slip into human tissue and can help kill cancer cells, according to a study in the Oct. 2 Science Translational Medicine. The finding may explain why the unmodified form of resveratrol, which in lab experiments shows anticancer properties, has yet to translate into health benefits for humans.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:36 pm

Nuclear fusion laser-beam experiment yields surprising results
The daydream of science-fiction fans and supervillains everywhere has inched one step closer to reality: Scientists have demonstrated a new technique for nuclear fusion, the process that fuels stars like the sun, that doesn't produce hazardous particles.

The new experiment coaxed a boron atom to fuse with a hydrogen nucleus, using a little help from incredibly powerful laser and proton beams. The fusion produced alpha particles, which are more easily converted to usable energy than the high-energy neutrons produced by prior fusion methods.

High-energy neutrons can also produce radiation if they fuse with other nuclei to form radioactive elements.

Elusive dream
In nuclear fusion, heat and pressure force two atoms to overcome their intense repulsion to form one atom, releasing a huge amount of energy in the process. For 50 years, scientists have chased the dream of producing limitless, clean energy from nuclear fusion.

"This is really the Holy Grail," said study co-author Christine Labaune, a physicist for the École Polytechnique in France.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:16 pm

hmnn

Kepler finds first known tilted solar system
Observations from NASA's Kepler spacecraft have uncovered a 'tilted' solar system, a finding that gives clues as to how some planets come to orbit their stars on paths that are misaligned with the stars' equators, astronomers report today in Science.

The planets of Earth's Solar System formed from a flat disc of gas and dust revolving around the Sun's equator, so they all started out in nearly the same plane. Earth’s orbit makes an angle of just 7.2 degrees with the plane of the Sun’s equator.

Five years ago, however, astronomers were shocked to find planets orbiting at steep angles to their stars’ equators. Some planets even went around their suns backwards — they orbit in the opposite direction to the star’s rotation3. But no one had seen a misaligned multiplanetary solar system until now.

For the latest study, astronomer Daniel Huber of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, and his colleagues looked at Kepler-56, a star roughly 860 parsecs (2,800 light years) from Earth. It has two large planets that lie in the same plane and circle closer to their sun than Mercury does to ours. Kepler detected the planets as they blocked the star's light,so their orbits are oriented edge-on to our line of sight.

Kepler-56 is a giant star that's four times larger than the Sun and emits nine-times more light. To determine the star’s orientation, researchers used Kepler to study variations in its brightness, which arise from the star's vibrations and look different depending on whether the star is viewed equator-on, pole-on or somewhere in between.

The observations revealed that the plane of the star's equator tilts 45 degrees to the planets’ orbits. “It was a big surprise,” Huber says.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:24 pm

Dolphins inspire new radar system to detect hidden surveillance and explosive devices

Inspired by the way dolphins hunt using bubble nets, scientists at the University of Southampton, in collaboration with University College London and Cobham Technical Services, have developed a new kind of radar that can detect hidden surveillance equipment and explosives.

The twin inverted pulse radar (TWIPR) is able to distinguish true 'targets', such as certain types of electronic circuits that may be used in explosive or espionage devices, from 'clutter' (other metallic items like pipes, drinks cans, nails for example) that may be mistaken for a genuine target by traditional radar and metal detectors.

The new system has been developed by a team led by Professor Tim Leighton from the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and is based on his unique sonar concept called twin inverted pulse sonar (TWIPS). TWIPS exploits the natural abilities of dolphins to process their sonar signals to distinguish between targets and clutter in bubbly water. Some dolphins have been observed to blow 'bubble nets' around schools of fish, which force the fish to cluster together, and their sonar would not work if they could not distinguish the fish from the bubbles.

The technique uses a signal consisting of two pulses in quick succession, one identical to the other, but phase inverted. Professor Leighton, along with Professor Paul White and students Dan Finfer and Gim Hwa Chua, showed that TWIPS could enhance linear scatter from the target, while simultaneously suppressing nonlinear scattering from oceanic bubbles.

Professor Leighton's team proposed that the TWIPS method could be applied to electromagnetic waves and that the same technique would work with radar. They teamed up with Professor Hugh Griffiths and Dr Kenneth Tong of University College London and Dr David Daniels of Cobham Technical Services to test the proposal, by applying TWIPR radar pulses to a 'target' (a dipole antenna with a diode across its feedpoint - typical of circuitry in devices associated with covert communications, espionage or explosives) to distinguish it from 'clutter' (represented by an aluminium plate and a rusty bench clamp). In the test, the tiny target showed up 100,000 times more powerfully than the clutter signal from an aluminium plate measuring 34 cm by 40 cm.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:37 pm

hmnn...

Lava World Baffles Astronomers: Planet Kepler-78b 'Shouldn't Exist'

Oct. 30, 2013 — Kepler-78b is a planet that shouldn't exist. This scorching lava world circles its star every eight and a half hours at a distance of less than one million miles -- one of the tightest known orbits. According to current theories of planet formation, it couldn't have formed so close to its star, nor could it have moved there.
"This planet is a complete mystery," says astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "We don't know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it's not going to last forever."

"Kepler-78b is going to end up in the star very soon, astronomically speaking," agrees CfA astronomer Dimitar Sasselov.

Not only is Kepler-78b a mystery world, it is the first known Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like density. Kepler-78b is about 20 percent larger than Earth, with a diameter of 9,200 miles, and weighs almost twice as much. As a result it has a density similar to Earth's, which suggests an Earth-like composition of iron and rock.

The tight orbit of Kepler-78b poses a challenge to theorists. When this planetary system was forming, the young star was larger than it is now. As a result, the current orbit of Kepler-78b would have been inside the swollen star.

"It couldn't have formed in place because you can't form a planet inside a star. It couldn't have formed further out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma," explains Sasselov.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:40 pm

New Multiple Action Intestinal Hormone Corrects Diabetes

Oct. 30, 2013 — Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) and the Technische Universität München (TUM), together with scientists in the USA, have developed a new therapeutic approach for treatment of type 2 diabetes. A novel single molecule hormone, which acts equally on the receptors of the insulin-stimulating hormones GLP-1 and GIP, was observed to reduce weight and improve blood sugar. The results have now been published in the medical journal 'Science Translational Medicine', and include data from successful clinical studies in partnership with the pharmaceutical company Roche.

GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) and GIP (gastric inhibitory peptide) are hormones that are formed by the digestive tract and that control food intake and numerous metabolic processes. When glucose (sugar) is ingested, these hormones primarily lead to increased insulin release and subsequent reduction in blood sugar, but they also affect appetite regulation and fat burning.

Some of the actions, which are combined in one molecule for the first time, are already in use for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 analogues, as well as DPP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase 4) inhibitors, which are thought to enhance GLP-1 action, are used to reduce blood sugar. A HMGU and TUM team led by Dr. Brian Finan and Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp at the Helmholtz Diabetes Center, working with Richard DiMarchi from Indiana University and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati, have now succeeded in developing a molecular structure that combines the effects of the two hormones. These novel molecules simultaneously stimulate two receptors (GLP-1 and GIP) and consequently maximize metabolic effects compared to each of the individual molecules, or currently available medicines that are based on individual intestinal hormones.

The newly discovered GLP-1/GIP co-agonists lead to improved blood sugar levels and to a significant weight loss and lower blood fat. Importantly, the researchers observed that the new substance also improved metabolism in humans, in addition to beneficial effects they discovered in several animal models. At the same time, there are indications that possible adverse effects, the most frequent of which are gastrointestinal complaints, are less common and less pronounced with this approach than with the individual hormones.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:04 pm

Bio Patch That Can Regrow Bone

Nov. 7, 2013 — Researchers at the University of Iowa have created a bio patch to regenerate missing or damaged bone by putting DNA into a nano-sized particle that delivers bone-producing instructions directly into cells.

The bone-regeneration kit relies on a collagen platform seeded with particles containing the genes needed for producing bone. In experiments, the gene-encoding bio patch successfully regrew bone fully enough to cover skull wounds in test animals. It also stimulated new growth in human bone marrow stromal cells in lab experiments.

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:16 pm

Are the Gamilas starting to launch planet bombs?

NASA's Hubble Sees Asteroid Spout Six Comet-like Tails

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have identified what they can only describe as a never-before-seen "weird and freakish object" in the asteroid belt that looks like a rotating lawn sprinkler.

Normal asteroids should appear simply as tiny points of light. But this asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, has six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it like spokes on a wheel.

Because nothing like this has ever been seen before, astronomers are scratching their heads to find an adequate explanation for its out-of-this-world appearance.

"We were literally dumbfounded when we saw it," said lead investigator David Jewitt of the University of California at Los Angeles. "Even more amazing, its tail structures change dramatically in just 13 days as it belches out dust. That also caught us by surprise. It's hard to believe we're looking at an asteroid."

One interpretation is that the asteroid's rotation rate increased to the point where its surface started flying apart, ejecting dust in episodic eruptions starting last spring. The team rules out a recent asteroid impact scenario because a lot of dust would be blasted into space all at once, whereas P5 has ejected dust for at least five months.


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Re: Science News

Postby Strict31 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:50 pm

sdsichero wrote:Are the Gamilas starting to launch planet bombs?

NASA's Hubble Sees Asteroid Spout Six Comet-like Tails



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Every time I see a science story featuring some shit nobody understands, I get hopeful that it's maybe a spaceship, because I really need to punch something back into space.

WELCOME TO EARFF!

Now, that's what I call a close encounter...
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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:18 pm

Strict31 wrote:
Every time I see a science story featuring some shit nobody understands, I get hopeful that it's maybe a spaceship, because I really need to punch something back into space.

WELCOME TO EARFF!

Now, that's what I call a close encounter...

Welcome back Strict

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:51 pm

Thin, active invisibility cloak demonstrated for first time

TORONTO, ON — Invisibility cloaking is no longer the stuff of science fiction: two researchers in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have demonstrated an effective invisibility cloak that is thin, scalable and adaptive to different types and sizes of objects.

Professor George Eleftheriades and PhD student Michael Selvanayagam have designed and tested a new approach to cloaking—by surrounding an object with small antennas that collectively radiate an electromagnetic field. The radiated field cancels out any waves scattering off the cloaked object. Their paper 'Experimental demonstration of active electromagnetic cloaking' appears today in the journal Physical Review X.

"We've taken an electrical engineering approach, but that's what we are excited about," says Eleftheriades. "It's very practical."

Picture a mailbox sitting on the street. When light hits the mailbox and bounces back into your eyes, you see the mailbox. When radio waves hit the mailbox and bounce back to your radar detector, you detect the mailbox. Eleftheriades and Selvanyagam's system wraps the mailbox in a layer of tiny antennas that radiate a field away from the box, cancelling out any waves that would bounce back. In this way, the mailbox becomes undetectable to radar.

"We've demonstrated a different way of doing it," says Eleftheriades. "It's very simple: instead of surrounding what you're trying to cloak with a thick metamaterial shell, we surround it with one layer of tiny antennas, and this layer radiates back a field that cancels the reflections from the object."

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:28 am

Photons detected without damage

One of the cornerstones of quantum theory is the principle that you cannot measure any property of an object without affecting the object itself. Physicists, however, have now devised a way to detect single photons of visible light without changing any of the information that they carry. Others had done the same with microwave photons, but this is the first time that it has been done in the part of the spectrum that could matter for a future 'quantum Internet'.
The conventional way to detect a single particle of light is to catch it with a sensor, absorbing its energy but destroying the particle in the process. In recent years, physicists have developed ways to extract only part of the information carried by a quantum particle such as a photon, thus affecting its quantum state without completely destroying it — a set of methods known as weak measurement.

But applications such as quantum networks, which promise to transport data with unbreakable encryption, require delicate quantum states to be transmitted without any disturbance. Quantum networks encode information in quantum bits, or qubits, which can occupy multiple states simultaneously as if they were living separate histories in parallel universes at the same time. Thus, unlike the information-carrying bits in conventional computers, qubits can be in a superposition of both '0' and '1' at the same time. But any disturbance will force the qubit to pick one of the two states, destroying the richer information.

A technique described today in Science1 enables researchers to observe a trace of the photon — the 'envelope' containing the information — and pass it on without reading what is inside, says Stephan Ritter, a physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, and a co-author of the study.
Optical trickery

To do this, Ritter and his colleagues set up an optical cavity consisting of two mirrors facing each other just half a millimetre apart, which can confine between them photons of specific 'resonant' energies. Inside, the team trapped a single atom in a superposition of two states, one of which was resonant with the cavity. An atom in this resonant state prevents photons of the same energy from entering the cavity.

When the team fired a photon at the cavity, the atom’s dual personality caused two things to happen at once. In one of the 'parallel universes' of its superposition, the one in which the atom was resonant with the cavity, the photon did not enter: it just bounced back from the outside of one of the mirrors. In the other parallel universe, the photon entered the cavity, bounced between the two mirrors, and then exited again the same way it came in. The overall quantum state of the photon was not affected, but the state of the atom was: The phase between the coupled and the uncoupled state was shifted by 180 degrees. By reading this shift, the researchers could detect the passage of the photon, explains Ritter.

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Postby Strict31 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:39 am

Quantum Memory "World Record" Smashed

A fragile quantum memory state has been held stable at room temperature for a "world record" 39 minutes - overcoming a key barrier to ultrafast computers.

"Qubits" of information encoded in a silicon system persisted for almost 100 times longer than ever before.

Quantum systems are notoriously fickle to measure and manipulate, but if harnessed could transform computing.

The new benchmark was set by an international team led by Mike Thewalt of Simon Fraser University, Canada.

"This opens the possibility of truly long-term storage of quantum information at room temperature," said Prof Thewalt, whose achievement is detailed in the journal Science.

In conventional computers, "bits" of data are stored as a string of 1s and 0s.

But in a quantum system, "qubits" are stored in a so-called "superposition state" in which they can be both 1s and 0 at the same time - enabling them to perform multiple calculations simultaneously.

The trouble with qubits is their instability - typical devices "forget" their memories in less than a second.

There is no Guinness Book of quantum records. But unofficially, the previous best for a solid state system was 25 seconds at room temperature, or three minutes under cryogenic conditions.

In this new experiment, scientists encoded information into the nuclei of phosphorus atoms held in a sliver of purified silicon.

Magnetic field pulses were used to tilt the spin of the nuclei and create superposition states - the qubits of memory.

The team prepared the sample at -269C, close to absolute zero - the lowest temperature possible.

When they raised the system to room temperature (just above 25C) the superposition states survived for 39 minutes.

What's more, they found they could manipulate the qubits as the temperature of the system rose and fell back towards absolute zero.

At cryogenic temperatures, their quantum memory system remained coherent for three hours.

"Having such robust, as well as long-lived, qubits could prove very helpful for anyone trying to build a quantum computer," said co-author Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University's department of materials.

"39 minutes may not seem very long. But these lifetimes are many times longer than previous experiments.

"We've managed to identify a system that seems to have basically no noise."

However she cautions there are still many hurdles to overcome before large-scale quantum computations can be performed.

For one thing, their memory device was built with a highly purified form of silicon - free from the magnetic isotopes which interfere with the spin of nuclei.

For another, the spins of the 10 billion or so phosphorus ions used in this experiment were all placed in the same quantum state.

Whereas to run calculations, physicists will need to place different qubits in different states - and control how they couple and interact.

"To have them controllably talking to one another - that would address the last big remaining challenge," said Dr Simmons.

Independent experts in the quantum field said the new record was an "exciting breakthrough" that had long been predicted.

"This result represents an important step towards realising quantum devices," said David Awschalom, professor in Spintronics and Quantum Information, at the University of Chicago.

"However, a number of intriguing challenges still remain. For instance - will it be possible to precisely control the local electron-nuclear interaction to enable initialisation, storage, and readout of the nuclear spin states?"

The previous "world record" for a solid state quantum system at room temperature - 25 seconds - was held by Dr Thaddeus Ladd, formerly of Stanford University's Quantum Information Science unit, now working for HRL Laboratories.

"It's remarkable that these coherence states could be held for so long in a measurable system - as measurement normally introduces noise," he told BBC News.

"It's also a nice surprise that nothing goes wrong warming up and cooling the sample again - from an experimental point of view that's pretty remarkable.

"What is perhaps most important is that this is silicon. The global investment in this particular material means that it has a lot of potential for engineering."
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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:30 pm

39 minutes... getting there...

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Re: Science News

Postby sdsichero » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:32 pm

Oldest body of fossil seawater discovered

WASHINGTON – The Chesapeake Bay can not only be seen from space, it essentially came from space.

An asteroid or huge chunk of ice slammed into Earth about 35 million years ago, splashing into the North Atlantic Sea, sending tsunami as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains and leaving a 90-km-wide hole at the mouth of what is now the bay.

But a newly published research paper written by U.S. Geological Survey scientists shows that wasn’t the end of it. While drilling holes in southern Virginia to study the impact crater, the scientists discovered “the oldest large body of ancient seawater in the world,” a survivor of that long gone sea, resting several hundred meters underground near the bay, according to the USGS.

“What we essentially discovered was trapped water that’s twice the salinity of [modern] seawater,” said Ward Sanford, a USGS hydrologist. “We found it was early Cretaceous seawater. It’s really water that’s from the North Atlantic.”

The findings showing that the water is probably between 100 million and 150 million years old were published Thursday in the journal Nature.

The Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater was discovered in 1999 by a tandem of USGS and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality scientists.

They theorized that a huge rock or chunk of ice slammed into an ancient ocean, sending enormous pieces of debris skyward and forcing tsunami hundreds of kilometers inland.

Over centuries, the crater became hidden under 100 to 350 meters of sand, silt and clay, hampering its discovery for decades.

“It’s the largest crater discovered so far in the United States, and it’s one of only a few oceanic impact craters that have been documented worldwide,” USGS hydrologist David Powars said at the time.

The bay crater is shallower and smaller than another off the coast of Mexico, which most scientists believe caused the extinction of dinosaurs, Powars said.

Five years after the Chesapeake crater’s discovery, Sanford’s USGS team started drilling at Cape Charles, Virginia, under a $1.5 million grant from the International Continental Drilling Program to study how the Earth’s crust absorbed the blow. “We weren’t looking for ancient seawater,” he said.

As the team drilled half a kilometer from the surface, it encountered standing water. They first thought it was salty water that occasionally shows up at coastal drill sites. Saltwater is found underground all over the world all the time, often because of huge salt deposits in the ground.

In this case, “we didn’t hit any salt while drilling” at the Cape Charles site, a kilometer and a half from the bay, Sanford said.

Researchers considered the possibility of boiling, when a meteor impact is so forceful that it heats water and increases its salinity. But after further tests, the boiling theory also didn’t make sense.

Results from more testing showed the water was twice as salty as today’s ocean water. When they analyzed its chemistry, they found high levels of chloride and bromide, the fingerprint of seawater from another time, Sanford said.

More tests and digging through research established that the chemistry was consistent with the “vast halite deposits created during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Basins,” the research paper said.

In other words, the groundwater at Cape Charles, about 350 km south of the District of Columbia, had the same salinity as the long-gone North Atlantic sea. When the meteor or whatever it was struck North America and disfigured the landscape, “the ancient seawater was preserved like a prehistoric fly in amber,” the USGS said in a statement.

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