Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
The biggest challenge in mounting a space mission to another star may not be technology, but people, experts say.
Scientists, engineers, philosophers, psychologists and leaders in many other fields gathered in Houston last week for the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss launching an interstellar voyage within 100 years.
“It seems like it would be so hard, and the biggest obstacle is ourselves. Once we get out of our way, once we commit to this, then it’s a done deal,” said former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” actor LeVar Burton, who is serving on the advisory committee of the 100 Year Starship project.
Sporting a white coat and tagged with impressive credentials, Dr. Ronald Kleinman carries an aura of authority on camera as he says, “There are no cancer risks associated with agriculture produced through biotech. None whatsoever.”
The online advertisement featuring the physician-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School was rolled out on Tuesday by a campaign opposing California’s Proposition 37, which would require the labeling of genetically modified foods — so-called GMOs.
But on Wednesday, Californians — along with the rest of the world — heard a very different message: A two-year study, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen in France and published in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, found that a widely grown GMO corn variety raised the rate of cancer and increased the risk of kidney and liver problems in rats.
The new finding fit perfectly with the “Yes on 37″ platform. The campaign has warned that the industry proclaiming GMOs won’t harm human health is the same one that once said DDT and Agent Orange were perfectly safe. But criticisms of the new study quickly emerged, suggesting insufficient sample sizes, a breed of rats prone to tumor growth, and a lead researcher who was seemingly already convinced of the dangers of GMOs. The study authors are now attempting to refute these and other points.
In magic, choices are rarely what they seem. Magicians know how to manipulate us into a false sense of free will while really holding the puppet strings. Here’s a simple but clever example of a false choice used in magic. Imagine, if you will, the face of an analog clock and think of any hour on the dial (one, two, three….all the way to twelve.) You have a totally free choice. You can even change your mind if you like. Now we’re going to inject some randomness into your decision. Imagine that your finger is the hour hand and, starting at midnight, spell out the hour you chose, moving your finger clockwise by one step for each letter. (For instance, if you thought of seven, you’d spell out s-e-v-e-n, moving the time forward a total of five hours.). After you’ve done that, your finger will be on a new number. Starting there, spell this number, following the same procedure as before, moving your finger around the dial until you land on yet another number. Repeat the procedure one last time, starting where you left off. Remember the hour on which your finger finally lands. This is your selection. You arrived at this number randomly after making a free choice, so I think it’s fair to say that it would be impossible for me to know where your finger ended up. And yet I’m getting an impression right now. In my third eye, a vision of an old mahogany grandfather clock with a swinging pendulum and hand-painted Roman numerals on the dial. The image is ghostly and pale. I can barely make out the face. The hour-hand reads: One o’clock.
This elementary ruse is known as a force. (Try starting with another number and you’ll see why it’s a force.) A force is a way to control a spectator’s selection, be it of a card, number, word, letter—just about anything—and it’s one of the most powerful weapons in magic. There are hundreds of methods. (See for instance, 202 Methods of Forcing, by the great mentalist Ted Annemann.) Forcing gets way more sophisticated, but the basic idea is always the same.
It might be time to get Gattaca-level paranoid about leaving your DNA all over the place, as geneticists are getting closer to being able to determine what your face looks like simply by analyzing your genetic code.Whether you believe in nature or nurture, the physical structure of your body is defined almost entirely by your genes. There will be some variation, of course, depending on your age, your weight, how well you take care of yourself, and how many times you’ve gotten punched in the face, but things like the space between your eyes, the height of your cheekbones, and the size of your nose are all preset and encoded in your DNA. This is why twins can look identical, and also why siblings can look similar: it’s shared genetics.Methods for figuring out eye color, hair color and skin color from DNA are fairly well established, and geneticists are now working on the next step, which is extracting the locations of “facial landmarks” from a DNA sample and using them to reconstruct the shape of someone’s face from their genetic code alone. We should stress that this research is very, very preliminary, but we should also stress that there were some results, albeit small effects correlated with a limited number of genes.For example, the researchers found that a gene called TP63 was a predictor of the gap between the centers of each eye socket being narrower by about nine millimeters. A gene called PRDM16 is associated with nose width and nose height, while a gene called PAX3 influences the position of the bridge of the nose. All of these things are measurable and predictable, and don’t take anything more than say a sample of blood from a crime scene.
Mars Rover Curiosity Update: Self Portrait & New Images Released, First Destination Announced (PHOTOS)
NASA on Friday released the latest images to be sent back by the Mars Rover Curiosity, including a high-resolution self-portrait taken by the rover’s Navigation camera.
According to NASA, the portrait, available below, is composed of a mosaic of 20 images taken on Aug. 8, just several days after the rover landed on Mars.
SCROLL DOWN FOR IMAGE
Curiosity’s deck, some of the science lab’s instruments and two of the rover’s six wheels are visible in the 120-degree image. The rim of Gale Crater, in which the rover landed in the early morning of Aug. 6, can be seen in the background of the picture.
Ever wondered how the native inhabitants of Easter Island managed to move their 33 feet, 80 tonne statues – known as ‘moai’ – to their positions on the coast without any use of wheels or draft animals?
Scientists Hannah Bloch and Carl P. Lipo have, and they’ve got an answer that seems to fit: it was a combination of manpower, patience and ropes that allowed the statues to ‘walk’ to their current locations.
This idea, first put forward by anthropologist Terry Hunt, was put into practice with the help of National Geographic, and above is the video footage that proves that the idea is entirely possible.
Recent experiments at ultra-cold temperatures have shown a phenomenon known as “neutron loss,” in which we somehow lose track of these subatomic particles for short periods. This probably has a mundane explanation…but just for fun, here’s an awesomely insane explanation.
The idea put forward by Zurab Berezhiani and Fabrizio Nesti, a pair of theoretical physicists at Italy’s University of l’Aquila, is that these neutrons have mirror particle twins that exist in some sort of parallel world. Any neutron could theoretically transition from one world to the other, swapping places with its mirror particle twin – which would be invisible to us, explaining why we seem to “lose” the neutrons – and then returning in a period lasting anywhere from a few seconds to ten minutes.
It’s definitely an out there hypothesis, but Berezhiani and Nesti point out that it can’t be ruled out by what we currently know experimentally. Of course, that’s a pretty weak argument in and of itself, but there do seem to be a few pieces of evidence that support their idea – and, even better, there might be a way to test the hypothesis experimentally.
This picture shows the size of a sphere that would contain all of Earth’s water in comparison to the size of the Earth. The blue sphere sitting on the United States, reaching from about Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas, has a diameter of about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers) , with a volume of about 332,500,000 cubic miles (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers). The sphere includes all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant.
Bungling NASA scientists are believed to have found tiny live microbes on Mars – but mistakenly killed them by boiling them alive, a media report said Saturday.
Two spacecraft that landed on the Red Planet in 1976 are now thought to have detected microbes in Martian soil. But scientists at the time failed to spot the signs of life – and cooked the bugs at 160 degrees Centigrade during experiments, The Sun reported.
Now an international team has used modern techniques to re-examine data collected by the two unmanned Viking probes.
Biologist Joseph Miller, of the University of Southern California, said: “I’m 99 percent sure there’s life there. To paraphrase an old saying, if it looks like a microbe and acts like a microbe – then it probably is a microbe.”
During the 1976 mission, nutrients were added to the Martian soil. It would have a similar effect to putting plant food on a garden. The soil gave off a gas, believed to be mainly carbon dioxide.