A fungus that causes a deadly brain infection has a curious mating strategy, in which it reproduces with clones of itself, a new study finds.
Most species that reproduce sexually produce offspring that are a genetic mix of two different parents. But the yeast Cryptococcus neoformans produces offspring “unisexually,” from two identical parents. These offspring have additional copies of certain chromosomes, or threadlike structures that carry DNA, creating genetic diversity from scratch, study researchers say.
Sexual reproduction exists to increase the genetic diversity of a species, making it more adaptable to different environments. But sex comes at a price, requiring two individuals to spend energy and resources looking for a mate.
Sydney Festival’s giant Rubber Duck installation, Darling Harbour, Australia on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2013. This is the latest incarnation of artist Florentijn Hofman’s famous oversized toy which measures 15m high and 18m wide and has been commissioned especially for this year’s Sydney Festival.
In 2007, the Department of Water Protection in Los Angeles detected high levels of bromate, a carcinogen that forms when bromide and chlorine react with sunlight, in Los Angeles’s Ivanhoe Reservoir. Bromide is naturally present in groundwater and chlorine is used to kill bacteria, but sunlight is the final ingredient in the potentially harmful mix. When the Department of Water Protection realized the problem, they began construction of a new underground reservoir in Griffith Park, but while the new facility was being built they had to determine a way to keep the sunlight out of the water.
XY Plotter is a machine that can move an RGB LED anywhere in a two-dimensional area. The LED position can be programmed to move precisely in a prescribed pattern, while it moves long exposure photographs are made. By documenting the moving LED, the invisible history of the light is captured. Images made with the XY Plotter record the accumulated movements of the LED. Any two dimensional vector image can be uploaded to the machine for recording. Long exposure photographs created with the XY Plotter. All the images included here are plots of Cartwright’s track as recorded in his Latitude and Longitude Project. Different colors represent the various years of the project. These images show movements within the confines of cities Cartwright has lived. Images can be exposed with multiple years in one image or separated out year by year. Increases in luminosity show patterns formed from repeated excursions along the same track.
To celebrate Buddha's birthday, Seoul, South Korea pulls out all the stops. Traditionally celebrated on the full moon of May, or May 17 this year, Buddha's birthday is an important day in many Asian countries including India and Japan. The day is even considered an official holiday in places like Hong Kong, Macua and South Korea.
A hallmark of South Korea's celebration are these beautiful lanterns that show up virtually everywhere - in a grand parade, hanging like canopies around temples and even dotted throughout Seoul's streets. According to Buddhist belief, lanterns symbolize wisdom as they bring light to the world. You can read much more about this colorful time of year on the Korea Tourism Organization's page and see more photos at Daily Mail.
Spring is a wonderful time to stop and smell the roses, but when those roses are smaller than a speck of dust, the best place to get a whiff is through a scanning electron microscope.
Engineers working with lead researcher Wim Noorduin, a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, have designed a way to create nano-scaled sculptures of roses, violets and tulips that are just as pretty as those in your backyard. They’re so small that the researchers were able to carpet the steps of the Lincoln Memorial -- the one embossed on the back of a penny -- with thousands of flowers.
Click through the following images as Noorduin explains his methods for creating such decorative flower arrangements on a nano level.
The technique used to create the flowers is not complicated. “You can do it a kitchen,” Noorduin told Discovery News.
Noorduin explained that he dips a glass slide into a beaker full of silicon, water and minerals such as barium chloride, and the microcrystals begin to form naturally.
“I just wait approximately two hours for the carbon dioxide from the air to diffuse into the water and this triggers an interesting reaction,” he said. “The CO2 reacts with the barium ions to form barium carbonate crystals.”
This reaction is extremely sensitive to the set conditions that exist around the slide. The amount of chemicals used, how much CO2 is allowed into the solution and the set acidity all factor into the final shape of the crystal flowers.
By altering the environment of the crystals, the shape of the flowers can be refined. Growth fronds or petals can be made thicker by lowering the temperature, while a pulse of carbon dioxide can give a rippled contour to the petals and leaves.
“We found that there are two growth regimes and you can deliberately switch between these regimes,” Noorduin said. “In one regime, the growth structures really like the surrounding liquid, so they grow towards it. They literally blossom open and that’s how you grow stem structures, vase structures and coral-like structures.”
He added: “If you lower the pH of the solution, you enter a different growth regime in which the structures don’t like the solution and they curl up towards themselves and bend away from the solution, giving you all kinds of spiral shapes.”
While the structures are growing, Noorduin says that chemical conditions can be modulated. For example, small amounts of carbon dioxide can be allowed to enter, simply by lifting the plate that’s on top of the beaker. “That instantly gives you a reaction on the growth forms. For instance, you can make very controlled ripples,” he said.
Noorduin says that if a stronger burst of carbon dioxide is added, it’s possible to completely split the structures.
“We showed that you can grow a stem-like structure,” he said. “If you add a larger CO2 burst, instead of just forming a ripple, you can completely split them open so that you get a face structure on top of the stem. So you can really make different shapes.”
Noorduin also wanted to see if he could “hierarchically assemble” the structures together, or stack the crystals on top of each other. Active growth sites on the crystal structures can also be used to control the formation of a new structure.
“First, you grow a spiral shape, then you stop the growth of the spiral, take out the sample and place it in a new solution. You’ve now changed the growth condition in such a way that you can grow a coral structure,” he said. “They don’t form randomly on the sample, they form exactly on top of the active growth sites of the previous formed structure."
Therefore, these active growth sites can be used to control the formation of new structures. Changing the solution means new dyes can be mixed into the solution, bringing color to the flowers. “In the case of the rose structure, I added different dyes to make a green spiral, then added a red rose on top of it,” Noorduin said.
However, electron microscopes only capture images in black and white, so engineers use Photoshop to reestablish color. Although the images you see have been digitally enhanced, Noorduin says he tries to match the colors in Photoshop with the original pigments of the real micro flowers. Most impressively, Noorduin and his colleagues were able to sprout flowers that appear to be growing out of vases.
“What we do is first grow a vase. Then we coat the active growth sites around the rim of the vase with silicon. Now those growth sites don’t work anymore,” he said. “But it turns out there are still active growth sites inside the vase.”
When the slide is placed into a new solution, Noorduin was able to grow a stem in the middle of this vase. While the stem was growing, he added a CO2 burst by taking off the lid of the beaker. That resulted in the opening of the stems to give a flower-like structure.
“You can grow these flowers on a lot of materials,” he said. “You’re absolutely not restricted to glass slides.”
After publishing their study in the current issue of Science, Noorduin and his colleagues want to improve their models and gather more details. They believe their technology could one day be used in medical sensors, mircoelectronics and new optical materials.
“At this length scale you can have interesting properties with light because light starts to interact with structures on the micrometer scale,” he said. “This might be interesting for catalytic purposes. People are looking into these things.”
In the meantime, Noorduin speaks as if he’s awestruck at the world around him, much like someone who makes a habit of stopping to smell the roses.
“There seems to be so many different and complex shapes in nature, so we were wondering if it was possible to use a very simple method to not only generate these shapes, but to get a very big spectrum of shapes and learn how to control them. That was the motivation of this research.”
GE is builing the next generation of jet engines for the world’s fleet of commercial aircraft. These intelligent machines employ optimized architecture and technologies to produce outstanding fuel efficiency and power output.
Human scabs serve as inspiration for new bandage to speed healing
Human scabs have become the model for development of an advanced wound dressing material that shows promise for speeding the healing process, scientists are reporting. Their study appears in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Shutao Wang and colleagues explain that scabs are a perfect natural dressing material for wounds. In addition to preventing further bleeding, scabs protect against infection and recruit the new cells needed for healing. Existing bandages and other dressings for wounds generally are intended to prevent bleeding and infections. Wang’s team set out to develop a new generation of wound dressings that reduce the risk of infections while speeding the healing process.
Despite the claims of some people around the world, the supermoon will not destroy the Earth. The supermoon happens when the moon is at perigee — the point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth — and in its fullest phase. The supermoon a normal occurrence since the moon is on an elliptical orbit, and will not make Earth’s orbit go out of whack.
6 - it won’t make you crazy
Have no fear: The supermoon will not turn you into a lunatic. Studies have shown that a full moon of any kind does not affect human behaviors. Full moons and supermoons do not cause more mental hospital admissions, psychiatric disturbances, homicide or other crime.
5 - not all Supermoons are the same
The perigee between the Earth and the moon can vary by as much as the diameter of the Earth during any given month. Although that might seem like a large number, on average, the moon is about 30 Earth diameters away from the planet. The sun’s gravity is actually responsible for pulling the Earth and moon into a closer alignment, causing the orbital variation.
4 - winter Supermoons are supersized
Does the moon look larger in the winter? It should. The Earth is closest to the sun in December each year, meaning that the star’s gravity pulls the moon closer toward the planet. Because of this effect the largest supermoons happen in the winter.
3 - Supermoons change the tides … but not much
A supermoon might be able to change the tides slightly, but it certainly won’t cause natural disasters, experts have said. The full phase of the moon causes higher tides, but adding a supermoon on top of it doesn’t create any significant difference. Scientists count themselves lucky if they’re able to see any difference in tide level at all. Usually, the supermoon causes the tide to change by less than an inch, if at all.
2 - Supermoons will get smaller
Get your supermoon fix while you can; the moon is moving on to greener pastures. Supermoons will get smaller in the distant future because the moon is slowly propelling itself out of Earth’s orbit, moving 3.8 centimeters farther from Earth each year. Scientists suspect that at formation, the moon started out about 14,000 miles (22,530 kilometers) from the planet, but now, it’s about about 238,900 miles (384,402 kilometers) away.
1 - Supermoons occur each year
A supermoon happens about once a year and are viewable from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Keep an eye to the sky and lookout for the next one heading toward Earth in Aug. 2014.
The habitable zone of a nearby star is filled to the brim with planets that could support alien life, scientists announced today (June 25).
An international team of scientists found a record-breaking three potentially habitable planets around the star Gliese 667C, a star 22 light-years from Earth that is orbited by at least six planets, and possibly as many as seven, researchers said. The three planet contenders for alien life are in the star’s “habitable zone” — the temperature region around the star where liquid water could exist. Gliese 667C is part of a three-star system, so the planets could see three suns in their daytime skies.
ESA has selected the baseline configuration for the new Ariane 6 rocket. The first stage of the rocket consist of 3 solid rockets, the second stage of 1 solid rocket. The third stage will be an adapted Ariane 5 ME cryogenic upper stage.
The Ariane 6 should be able to launch the same volume as the Ariane 5 rockets, possibly this is for a single satellite, instead of the dual satellite the Ariane 5 is able to launch.
Space Shuttle Endeavour has retired from service, and for the moment NASA is reliant on Russian rockets to keep the International Space Station stocked up and operating. NASA is developing a replacement for the Shuttle – the Orion CEV – but for the moment, lets take a look at the Shuttle and remember the many years of sterling service it has given us.
You may remember photosynthesis from biology class — if not, Wikipedia will remind you: “Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy, normally from the sun, into chemical energy that can be used to fuel the organisms’ activities.” But can photosynthesis help us light our sidewalks and roadways? Calleja thinks so.
He and his team at FermentAlg developed this lamp to double as a habitat for microalgae, which absorb solar energy and consume carbon dioxide. These lamps are designed to store the energy made from this process, so that when placed in unlit places, they can continue to shine.
These beautiful lights are not only practical, but their symbiotic technology could help in the fight against rising carbon emissions and climate change.
Wow! That was our reaction to seeing this picture (and others) of a light show aboard the International Space Station. After confirming with NASA that the images circulating lately on social media are real, we were directed to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), who co-ordinated this experiment.
The work is called “Auroral Oval Spiral Top” and was done in the Kibo module on May 12, 2011, JAXA said. This was the second version of the experiment, which initially ran April 30, 2009 during Expedition 19.
“Auroral Oval Spiral Top uses a spinning top that has arms illuminating with LED linear light sources and point light sources. Various movements of the spinning top floating in microgravity show aurora-like light traces,” JAXA stated on a web page about the experiment.
The project, JAXA added, is “designed to produce aurora-like luminescence traces using a spinning top with both linear and point light sources. In microgravity, the center of gravity of the spinning top continuously and randomly moves while it is spinning. Using the characteristics of the top in microgravity, the project tries to produce various light arts using its unexpected movements/spins, by changing attaching locations of its arms and weights.”
Daniel Stoupin, a doctoral candidate in marine biology at the university of queensland, has photographed a variety of coral species using full spectrum light to reveal fluorescent pigments that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. each piece (click pic for name) is from the great barrier reef. given the complexity of the techniques used, which involve time-lapse and stereoscopic and focus stacked photography, the images take up to ten hours to produce in the lab.
I had a biology teacher that told us this story about an octopus at an aquarium in Australia. The staff were concerned because their population of crustaceans kept disappearing. No bodies or anything. So they checked the video feed to find out what’s up.
Across from the the crustacean tank was a small octopus tank. This little fucker squeezed out of a tiny hole at the top of his tank, walk across the hall, and get into the crustacean tank. He would then hunt and eat. After he was done, he crawled back out and get back in his tank
Here’s the kicker: security guards patrolled the area. The staff realized that the octopus had memorized the security’s routine. It would escape and be back between the guards’ round.
Some think the robot apocalypse might be an overblown fabrication dreamed up by sci-fi dorks. But if machines like DARPA's clumsy and ambling Atlas bot really do become sentient killing machines, at the very least we'd be able to outrun them, right?
Over here we have a little guy called OutRunner, which has legs specifically built to mimic those of fleshy humans but can maintain speeds of 20 miles an hour outdoors. Don't let its pint size or the fact that it spins like the Road Runner's blurry feet fool you. It can run pretty much anywhere: On roads. Off-road. It doesn't matter. Unless you happen to be named Usain Bolt, the OutRunner--which the creators say broke the world speed record for legged robots--will catch up to you when your feeble human anatomy breaks down.
One glimmer of hope: The remote-control operated OutRunner is still in its Kickstarter phase, and just $20,000 have been pledged of its $150,000 goal. Fund it if you'd like, but know this: You are making things that much easier for our one-day machine overlords to capture us and store our bodies in biology-sucking battery pods. Swear your allegiances now.
These Robot Transformers Can Morph Into Furniture And Bring Your Coffee To You
If these Swiss roboticists get it right, we're not too far off from living in a Beauty and the Beast-style castle full of objects that do our bidding.
You know what's wrong with furniture? It just sits there. But what if your table could bring you a banana and coffee when you're hungover? What if, like an enchanted Beauty and the Beast castle full of
Swarms of responsive robots that can transform into any kind of furniture at will is exactly what a team of roboticists at the in Switzerland has been trying to accomplish for the past seven years. They've created four pairs of robot "Roombot" blocks that can organize themselves into pretty any much shape desired, and this September they'll start honing the technology for people in assisted living facilities. For those with limited mobility, a table that brings meds or prevents a fall could mean unprecedented independence.
Right now, each of the Roombot pairs, which can swivel and attach themselves to various surfaces, costs around $2,000. They run on lithium polymer batteries and can zip around for about an hour without recharging. But part of the challenge going forward will be to see if the team can reduce the cost. Switzerland's will be funding the Biorobotics' lab three-year investigation into developing the technology for the elderly.
Another major challenge will be finding the best way for humans to interact with the shape-shifting Roombots themselves. The researchers are exploring several options, including tablet interfaces, augmented reality, , and , explains Massimo Vespignani, a PhD student working under professor Auke Jan Ijspeert in the .
The individual Roombots are about the size of fat grapefruits, but one day they could be much smaller. Vespignani and his fellow researchers are investigating ways for the bots to communicate among themselves, like bacteria. In a hundred years, maybe the individual units will be so small as to be microscopic--and instead of summoning 10 friendly robots from different corners of the room, a person could summon something as nebulous and numerous as an army of technological spores.
June’s Full Moon (full phase on June 13, 0411 UT) is traditionally known as the Strawberry Moon or Rose Moon. Of course those names might also describe the appearance of this Full Moon, rising last month over the small Swedish village of Marieby. The Moon looks large in the image because the scene was captured with a long focal length lens from a place about 8 kilometers from the foreground houses. But just by eye a Full Moon rising, even on Friday the 13th, will appear to loom impossibly large near the horizon. That effect has long been recognized as the Moon Illusion. Unlike the magnification provided by a telescope or telephoto lens, the cause of the Moon illusion is still poorly understood and not explained by atmospheric optical effects, such as scattering and refraction, that produce the Moon’s blushing color and ragged edge also seen in the photograph.
The Pallas´s Cat, also called Manul, is a small wildcat living in the grasslands and steppe of central asia. It is named after the german naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, who first described the species in 1776.
“A ferrofluid (portmanteau of ferromagnetic and fluid) is a liquid which becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field.
Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids made of nanoscale ferromagnetic, or ferrimagnetic, particles suspended in a carrier fluid (usually an organic solvent or water). Each tiny particle is thoroughly coated with a surfactant to inhibit clumping. Large ferromagnetic particles can be ripped out of the homogeneous colloidal mixture, forming a separate clump of magnetic dust when exposed to strong magnetic fields. The magnetic attraction of nanoparticles is weak enough that the surfactant’s Van der Waals force is sufficient to prevent magnetic clumping or agglomeration. Ferrofluids usually do not retain magnetization in the absence of an externally applied field and thus are often classified as “superparamagnets” rather than ferromagnet.”
Spectacular colour into this arid Utah desert by Guy Tal
"Every few years, for a few fleeting days, when conditions are just right, these otherwise arid lands burst into color with carpets of Scorpionweed and Beeplant." - Utah’s badlands"
The Badlands region in the American West is famous (or infamous) for its arid and unforgiving landscape, which is decorated by sharp and eroded spires of stone. If you catch it at just the right moment and in the right conditions, however, these apparent wastelands can give birth to an extraordinary explosion of color and life in the form of beautiful wildflowers.
The New Electric Harley Has A Roar Even A Hell's Angel Could Love
Electric engines are usually silent. There's no way that would fly for the Harley Davidson crowd, so designers created an entirely new engine sound. Listen to it here.
When Harley-Davidson decided to design an electric motorcycle, one of the challenges was making sure that it still had the right growl: The deep rumble of the engine is an iconic part of the brand, and a Hell's Angel doesn't want to be confused with the type of person who commutes to work on a Vespa.
"When we went into this, we had to consider all of our products are grounded in three things--look, sound, and feel," says Jeff Richlen, the chief engineer for the new prototype bike, called Project LiveWire. "The sound is the most important, and we didn’t want to lose that. We didn’t want a silent product."
They also didn't want to fake the roar of the engine. Instead, the engineers carefully tweaked the arrangement of the motor and the gear box until it created a sound that's a little like a jet flying by.
"The first time we spun up the gears and ran the motorcycle we knew we had something special," says Richlen. "It really was defining another sound of Harley Davidson. We're certainly not forgetting our past and what is our product legacy, it’s just something brand new. And it kind of sounds like the future." The company's main motivation wasn't trying to improve the sustainability of their bikes, even though motorcycles produce more tailpipe emissions than cars. "This project is not about being green, though that’s certainly a byproduct of having an electric-powered vehicle," Richlen explains. "This is really looking at what the future possibilities are."
Over the summer, Harley-Davidson will take the new LiveWire bike on a 30-city tour of the U.S. to get customer feedback. "There are some limitations of the EV space right now, and we understand that, and that’s why we’re looking for feedback--what do customers expect out of the product, what would their tradeoff points be?" Richlen says.
Richlen invites anyone who doubts the power of the bike to come try it out. The real proof of the motorcycle is to come out and twist the throttle," he says. "There may be people who get on this thinking ‘golf cart’ and get off it thinking rocket ship."
Multidisciplinary designer Richard Clarkson experiments with products, lights, and furniture in time split between his New York and New Zealand studios. One of his most elegant creations is Cloud, an interactive light shaped like a cumulus cloud that simulates a thunderstorm both in light and sound based on external input from either a remote control or motion sensors. From Clarkson’s website:
The Cloud is an interactive lamp and speaker system, designed to mimic a thundercloud in both appearance and entertainment. Using motion sensors the cloud detects a user’s presence and creates a unique lightning and thunder show dictated by their movement. The system features a powerful speaker system from which the user can stream music via any Bluetooth compatible device. Using color-changing lights the cloud is able to adapt to the desired lighting color and brightness. The cloud also has alternative modes such as a nightlight and music reactive mode
Weather forecasters on exoplanet GJ 1214b would have an easy job. Today's forecast: cloudy. Tomorrow: overcast. Extended outlook: more clouds. A team of scientists led by researchers in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago report they have definitively characterized the atmosphere of a super-Earth class planet orbiting another star for the first time.
The scrutinized planet, which is known as GJ1214b, is classified as a super-Earth type planet because its mass is intermediate between those of Earth and Neptune. Recent searches for planets around other stars ("exoplanets") have shown that super-Earths like GJ 1214b are among the most common type of planets in the Milky Way galaxy. Because no such planets exist in our Solar System, the physical nature of super-Earths is largely unknown.
Previous studies of GJ 1214b yielded two possible interpretations of the planet's atmosphere. Its atmosphere could consist entirely of water vapor or some other type of heavy molecule, or it could contain high-altitude clouds that prevent the observation of what lies underneath.
But now a team of astronomers led by University of Chicago's Laura Kreidberg and Jacob Bean have detected clear evidence of clouds in the atmosphere of GJ 1214b from data collected with the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble observations used 96 hours of telescope time spread over 11 months. This was the largest Hubble program ever devoted to studying a single exoplanet.
The researchers describe their work as an important milestone on the road to identifying potentially habitable, Earth-like planets beyond our Solar System. The results appear in the Jan. 2 issue of the journal Nature.
"We really pushed the limits of what is possible with Hubble to make this measurement," said Kreidberg, a third-year graduate student and first author of the new paper. "This advance lays the foundation for characterizing other Earths with similar techniques."
"I think it's very exciting that we can use a telescope like Hubble that was never designed with this in mind, do these kinds of observations with such exquisite precision, and really nail down some property of a small planet orbiting a distant star," explained Bean, an assistant professor and the project's principal investigator.
GJ 1214b is located just 40 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus. Because of its proximity to our solar system and the small size of its host star, GJ 1214b is the most easily observed super-Earth. It transits, or passes in front of its parent star, every 38 hours, giving scientists an opportunity to study its atmosphere as starlight filters through it.
Kreidberg, Bean and their colleagues used Hubble to precisely measure the spectrum of GJ 1214b in near-infrared light, finding what they consider definitive evidence of high clouds blanketing the planet. These clouds hide any information about the composition and behavior of the lower atmosphere and surface.
The planet was discovered in 2009 by the MEarth Project, which monitors two thousand red dwarf stars for transiting planets. The planet was next targeted for follow-up observations to characterize its atmosphere. The first spectra, which were obtained by Bean in 2010 using a ground-based telescope, suggested that the planet's atmosphere either was predominantly water vapor or hydrogen-dominated with high-altitude clouds.
More precise Hubble observations made in 2012 and 2013 allowed the team to distinguish between these two scenarios. The news is about what they didn't find. The Hubble spectra revealed no chemical fingerprints whatsoever in the planet's atmosphere. This allowed the astronomers to rule out cloud-free atmospheres made of water vapor, methane, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, or carbon dioxide.
The best explanation for the new data is that there are high-altitude clouds in the atmosphere of the planet, though their composition is unknown. Models of super-Earth atmospheres predict clouds could be made out of potassium chloride or zinc sulfide at the scorching temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit found on GJ 1214b. "You would expect very different kinds of clouds to form than you would expect, say, on Earth," Kreidberg said.
The launch of NASA's next major space telescope, the 6.5m James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), later this decade should reveal more about such worlds, Kreidberg said. "Looking forward, JWST will be transformative," she said. "The new capabilities of this telescope will allow us to peer through the clouds on planets like GJ 1214b. But more than that, it may open the door to studies of Earth-like planets around nearby stars."
Alliance Delta II rocket launches with the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite onboard from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. OCO-2 will measure the global distribution of carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth’s climate.
Car exhaust and other urban fumes can disrupt moths’ ability to make their way to flowers, a new study reports.
“The flowers occur in patches that can be kilometers away, and these moths are almost at the edge of survival trying to find them,” said Jeff Riffell, a biologist at the University of Washington and the first author of the study, which appears in the journal Science.
The research focuses on the tobacco hornworm moth, which depends on nectar for energy. Nectar from one flower provides enough fuel for just 15 minutes of flying time, so “flying around is really energetically expensive,” Dr. Riffell said.
The scientists sampled flower scents and other odors with a sensitive mass spectrometer, and then used a wind tunnel to determine how different combinations of smells affected a moth’s ability to find flowers. They found that the moths did far better in rural environments than in urban and suburban ones.
But it is not just man-made odors that affect the moths. Scents from neighboring vegetation can be very disruptive as well, Dr. Riffell said.
Now the researchers are interested in studying the effects of urban scents on other major pollinators, like honeybees.
Gliese 832c: The closest potentially habitable exoplanet
This planet is only 16 light years away — could it harbor life? Recently discovered exoplanet Gliese 832c has been found in a close orbit around a star that is less bright than our Sun. An interesting coincidence, however, is that Gliese 832c receives just about the same average flux from its parent star as does the Earth. Since the planet was discovered only by a slight wobble in its parent star’s motion, the above illustration is just an artistic guess of the planet’s appearance — much remains unknown about Gliese 832c’s true mass, size, and atmosphere. If Gliese 832c has an atmosphere like Earth, it may be a super-Earth undergoing strong seasons but capable of supporting life. Alternatively, if Gliese 832c has a thick atmosphere like Venus, it may be a super-Venus and so unlikely to support life as we know it. The close 16-light year distance makes the Gliese 832 planetary system currently the nearest to Earth that could potentially support life. The proximity of the Gliese 832 system therefore lends itself to more detailed future examination and, in the most spectacularly optimistic scenario, actual communication — were intelligent life found there.
"Almost like a table of living clay, the inFORM is a surface that three-dimensionally changes shape, allowing users to not only interact with digital content in meatspace, but even hold hands with a person hundreds of miles away. And that’s only the beginning."
Transform your desk into a manufacturing hub with our 3D-printed jet engine assembly kit. This 14-piece model makes the perfect gift for aviation geeks, engine enthusiasts, friends, relatives, baristas, and pets (don’t actually give this to your pets). To create this badass machine right at home, head to our Thingiverse page to download the files and view the step-by-step assembly instructions. Happy jet-setting!
"Respiratory events such as exhalations or more violent coughs and sneezes are key in transferring respiratory diseases between infectious and susceptible individuals. We present the results of a combined experimental and theoretical investigation of the fluid dynamics of such violent expiratory events. Direct obsesuspended droplets of various sizes. Our observations guide the development of an accompanying theoretical model in which pathogen-bearing droplets interact with a turbulent buoyant momentum puff. The range of validity of our theoretical model is explored experimentally. Our study highlights the importance of the multiphase nrvation reveals that such flows are multiphase turbulent buoyant clouds with atue rof respiratory clouds in extending the range of respiratory pathogens.”
The Window Socket offers a neat way to harness solar energy and use it as a plug socket. So far we have seen solutions that act as a solar battery backup, but none as a direct plug-in. Simple in design, the plug just attaches to any window and does its job intuitively.
Sam Van Aken envisions a tree with blooms of pink, purple, fuchsia and red that bears 40 different kinds of fruit.
But this tree isn't just a figment of his imagination — he's hard at work making "Tree of 40 Fruit" a reality.
"I'm an artist. So the whole project really began with this idea of creating a tree that would blossom in these different colors and would bear these multitude of fruit," he told NPR.
Van Aken, an associate professor in Syracuse University's art department, isn't creating this tree through genetic engineering. Instead, he's using a technique that's thousands of years old: grafting.
Grafting involves collecting young shoots or cuttings from trees and then inserting these budding branches into strategic points on a base tree.
These grafts are taped into place and allowed to bond with the tree, drawing water and nutrients from it like any other branch.
If the grafts take to the tree, they'll start to grow again in the spring.
According to Van Aken, grafting is often successful because of the similar chromosomal structure of stone fruit trees.
Stone fruits are those with a pit in the middle that surrounds the seed. Examples include apples, peaches, cherries and plums.
Van Aken has created 16 hybridized fruit trees that are located throughout the country. The trees' branches are composed of a variety of mostly antique and native stone fruit varieties.
He plans to place his first tree in an urban setting at Thomas Point in Portland, Maine.
Van Aken has worked with 250 varieties of stone fruit and says his project has really become "about preserving some of these antique and heirloom varieties" of fruit.
Currently, his trees are being sold to create an heirloom fruit orchard, and he plans to create a field guide with pictures and descriptions of each type of tree.
"Through the orchard — which would be open to growers, nurseries and the general public — I hope to reintroduce many of these forgotten varieties," he said.
Grafting fruit trees isn't a new practice. The TomTato — a plant that produces both cherry tomatoes and potatoes — can be purchased by any gardener.
Also, many commercial fruit trees are grafted for mass production. Farmers choose a tree that will grow well in their climate and then other trees' seedlings are are grafted onto the base tree’s branches.
And in San Francisco, guerilla gardeners are grafting fruit-bearing tree limbs onto fruitless trees along city sidewalks.
Our solar system officially has eight planets and one star: the Sun. The discovery of an object larger than Pluto in 2005 rekindled the debate over whether such objects, belonging to the Kuiper Belt – a collection of icy bodies located beyond Neptune – should be called planets. Pluto and other large members of the Kuiper Belt are now considered “dwarf planets.”
The bee fly: the most adorable insect in the world?
They look super cute, but the Anastoechus nitidulus can be parasitical, flinging their eggs onto honeybees or wasps so that their larvae will end up in their nests and will have a detrimental honey feast. Yikes. You can make ‘em pretty, but they’re still flies.
When a prisoner was asked what he thought of the program, he responded with, "When I got my first cat, it changed me. There is something about holding a cat that makes your anger melt away. And if someone does something that upsets me—I have to remember my cat. I can’t keep my cat if I get into trouble.”
"I asked if Major Cabanaw had concerns for the safety of the cats. “Of course, we always want to ensure the safety of the cats, and the staff is great about keeping an eye out for them. But mostly, it’s the offenders keeping them safe. I have never once seen an offender kill his own cat. We screen them to be sure they have no history of animal abuse. But I’ll tell you this, there was a guy killed in here because he had spit soda pop onto someone else’s cat.
A new study provides strong evidence that the experimental drug given to two American aid workers stricken with Ebola in Africa really works and could make a difference in the current outbreak — if more of it could be produced.
In the study, all 18 monkeys exposed to a lethal dose of Ebola virus survived when given the drug, known as ZMapp, even when the treatment was started five days after infection, when the animals were already sick.
A new study provides strong evidence that the experimental drug given to two American aid workers stricken with Ebola in Africa really works and could make a difference in the current outbreak — if more of it could be produced.
In the study, all 18 monkeys exposed to a lethal dose of Ebola virus survived when given the drug, known as ZMapp, even when the treatment was started five days after infection, when the animals were already sick.
Moreover, the monkeys’ symptoms, such as excessive bleeding, rashes and signs of liver toxicity, eventually disappeared. By contrast, all three monkeys in the control group died.
Experts said these were the best monkey results reported to date for any Ebola drug, raising hopes that the drug will work in people.
Kartik Chandran, an expert on Ebola who was not involved in the study, said the results were impressive.
“To actually be able to reverse all those symptoms and signs and bring them back to baseline, I think that is pretty astounding,” said Dr. Chandran, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “If you are going to give somebody something during this outbreak, this would be it.”
The problem is that the supply of ZMapp is exhausted, according to Mapp Biopharmaceutical, the nine-person San Diego company that is developing the drug. And it is expected to take months to make more of the drug, which is produced in genetically engineered tobacco plants.
ZMapp came to the world’s attention early this month when it appeared to help two American aid workers stricken in Liberia and later flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, recovered and were discharged from the hospital last week.
Doctors say it is impossible to say what role ZMapp played in their recovery. Nonetheless, there has been a clamor for the drug and an ethical debate about who was entitled to the handful of treatment courses available.
The remaining supplies went to a Spanish priest, three doctors in Liberia and, just this week, a British nurse recovering in London. The priest, Miguel Pajares, and one of the Liberians, Dr. Abraham Borbor, died.
Father Pajares received one of the recommended three doses before he died, and the remainder has gone to the British nurse, William Pooley, according to a person involved in the discussions about drug allocation.
Some other experimental drugs have shown the ability to protect monkeys from Ebola if given shortly after infection, up to about two days. That might make such a drug useful for what is called postexposure prophylaxis — for example, after a person is stuck by an infected needle.
But in an outbreak like the one in Africa, most people do not know they are infected until symptoms develop. Most if not all of the people who have received ZMapp, for instance, were already sick. Hence it would be important that a drug could work even if treatment starts after symptoms appear, as was the case in this study.
Dr. Kobinger, who works at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said it was difficult to know how that aspect of the monkey results would translate in humans..
People can take up to 21 days to develop symptoms. In the study, the monkeys not given ZMapp died by eight days after infection. He said the next step would be to see if the drug can work even if started six or seven days after exposure, though at some point, the organs would be too damaged to allow for recovery.
ZMapp is a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies, which are immune system proteins that can isolate and neutralize an invading pathogen. The antibodies were initially harvested from mice exposed to a protein from Ebola, then genetically engineered to make them more like human antibodies.
The resulting antibodies are then manufactured in genetically engineered tobacco plants. A spokesman for Reynolds American, the tobacco company that owns the Kentucky manufacturing facility, said production began again about two weeks ago, but he declined to say how much could be produced how quickly.
Based on information from Dr. Kobinger and others, it can take a couple of months for the facility to come up to full speed, after which it can produce 20 to 40 treatment courses a month. But it is possible that yields can be improved and that doses can be lowered so a given amount of drug would treat more people.
Robin Robinson, director of the federal agency that procures drugs and vaccines for public health emergencies, said through a spokeswoman that enough of the drug was expected to be available by the end of the year to conduct a Phase 1 clinical trial to test the safety of ZMapp.
Other companies that can produce drugs in tobacco will be enlisted, said Dr. Robinson, whose agency, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
He said that there was debate about how quickly to deploy the drug in Africa but that officials thought it was important to test the safety in healthy volunteers first.
Mapp, which was working with the Defense Department, and Dr. Kobinger’s laboratory initially developed their own three-antibody cocktails. When the two groups learned of each other, they joined forces.
They tested individual antibodies and various combinations in guinea pigs, and the two best combinations were then tested in monkeys. The winner of that face-off — consisting of two antibodies from Canada and one from the United States — became ZMapp.
The results reported Friday, particularly the protection when treatment was started five days after infection, were significantly better than those of the original Canadian and American cocktails.
“We of course expected an improvement — I mean, we were at least hoping for it,” Dr. Kobinger said. “But the level of improvement was at least beyond my own expectation.”
In the study, the monkeys were injected with a high dose of the virus. They then received three doses of ZMapp spaced three days apart, with the first dose coming three, four or five days after exposure.
The virus used in the experiment was from an outbreak in 1995. But some laboratory tests showed that ZMapp also inhibited the strain involved in the current outbreak.
SLEEPBOX is intended primarily to perform one main function - to enable a person to sleep peacefully. But it can also be equipped with various additional functions, depending on the situation. Application of the device can be very broad, not only in the form of paid public service, but also for internal purposes of organizations and companies.
Here are the possible locations for SLEEPBOX:
Public and shopping centers
In countries with warm climate SLEEPBOX can be used on the streets. Thanks to SLEEPBOX any person has an opportunity to spend the night safely and cheaply in case of emergency, or when you have to spend few hours with your baggage.
Russian architects Arch Group have designed a booth for taking a quick nap in busy urban environments.
A great addition to your garden or back yard. - Bee watering station.
Bees need water just like we do but often times drown in open water. To make a bee watering station you can either do what is shown in the photo above and fill the bowl of a dog/cat watering jug with stones or you can fill a small dish with marbles and add water to that. That way the bees have something to land on!
This might not seem to bad, where people might say, “Oh, well, I’m sure there are other eucalyptus trees, so surely the koala can figure out how to find a new one.” No, unfortunately, they can’t, or at least they’re not very good at that sort of thinking. You see, human brains are shaped the way they are for a reason: those ridges and bumps let us make cognitive decisions and give us the ability to figure out jigsaw puzzles and let us know that a certain leaf comes from a certain tree. It let’s us figure out how to get from where we are to where we want to go. Koalas, on the other hand, have smooth brains: they can’t figure stuff out on their own. If you took a bunch of eucalyptus leaves and gave them to a koala, the koala wouldn’t be able to figure out that they were eucalyptus leaves.