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Complete Neanderthal genome sequenced

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Researchers have produced the first whole genome sequence of the 3 billion letters in the Neanderthal genome, and the initial analysis suggests that up to 2 percent of the DNA in the genome of present-day humans outside of Africa originated in Neanderthals or in Neanderthals' ancestors. The researchers compared DNA samples from the bones of three female Neanderthals who lived some 40,000 years ago in Europe to samples from five present-day humans from China, France, Papua New Guinea, southern Africa and western Africa. This provided the first genome-wide look at the similarities and differences of the closest evolutionary relative to humans, and maybe even identifying, for the first time, genetic variations that gave rise to modern humans."
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Researchers discover first genes for stuttering

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Stuttering may be the result of a glitch in the day-to-day process by which cellular components in key regions of the brain are broken down and recycled. The study, led by researchers at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has identified three genes as a source of stuttering in volunteers in Pakistan, the United States, and England. Mutations in two of the genes have already been implicated in other rare metabolic disorders also involved in cell recycling, while mutations in a third, closely related, gene have now been shown to be associated for the first time with a disorder in humans. "This is the first study to pinpoint specific gene mutations as the potential cause of stuttering, a disorder that affects 3 million Americans, and by doing so, might lead to a dramatic expansion in our options for treatment.""
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New adhesive device could let humans walk on walls

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Could humans one day walk on walls, like Spider-Man? A palm-sized device invented at Cornell that uses water surface tension as an adhesive bond just might make it possible. The device consists of a flat plate patterned with holes, each on the order of microns (one-millionth of a meter). A bottom plate holds a liquid reservoir, and in the middle is another porous layer. An electric field applied by a common 9-volt battery pumps water through the device and causes droplets to squeeze through the top layer. The surface tension of the exposed droplets makes the device grip another surface – much the way two wet glass slides stick together. To turn the adhesion off, the electric field is simply reversed, and the water is pulled back through the pores, breaking the tiny "bridges" created between the device and the other surface by the individual droplets."
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Slime design mimics Tokyo's rail system

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "What could human engineers possibly learn from the lowly slime mold? Reliable, cost-efficient network construction, apparently: a recent experiment suggests that Physarum polycephalum, a gelatinous fungus-like mold, might actually lead the way to improved technological systems, such as more robust computer and mobile communication networks. This revelation comes after a team of Japanese and British researchers observed that the slime mold connected itself to scattered food sources in a design that was nearly identical to Tokyo's rail system. Scientists placed oat flakes on a wet surface in locations that corresponded to the cities surrounding Tokyo, and allowed the Physarum polycephalum mold to grow outwards from the center. They watched the slime mold self-organize, spread out, and form a network that was comparable in efficiency, reliability, and cost to the real-world infrastructure of Tokyo's train network."
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Quantum computer calculates energy of hydrogen

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "In an important first for a promising new technology, scientists have used a quantum computer to calculate the precise energy of molecular hydrogen. Scientists used the information encoded in two entangled photons to conduct their hydrogen molecule simulations. Each calculated energy level was the result of 20 such quantum measurements, resulting in a highly precise measurement of each geometric state of molecular hydrogen. This groundbreaking approach to molecular simulations could have profound implications not just for quantum chemistry, but also for a range of fields from cryptography to materials science."
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e! Science News Your daily dose of Eureka! *

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "In an important first for a promising new technology, scientists have used a quantum computer to calculate the precise energy of molecular hydrogen. Scientists used the information encoded in two entangled photons to conduct their hydrogen molecule simulations. Each calculated energy level was the result of 20 such quantum measurements, resulting in a highly precise measurement of each geometric state of molecular hydrogen. This groundbreaking approach to molecular simulations could have profound implications not just for quantum chemistry, but also for a range of fields from cryptography to materials science."
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Golden ratio discovered in a quantum world

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Scientist have for the first time observed a nanoscale symmetry hidden in solid state matter. By artificially introducing more quantum uncertainty the researchers observed that the chain of atoms of cobalt niobate acts like a nanoscale guitar string. The first two notes show a perfect relationship with each other. Their frequencies (pitch) are in the ratio of 1.618, which is the golden ratio famous from art and architecture. The observed resonant states in cobalt niobate are a dramatic laboratory illustration of the way in which mathematical theories developed for particle physics may find application in nanoscale science and ultimately in future technology."
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Astronomers detect earliest galaxies

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 4 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Astronomers, using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, have broken the distance limit for galaxies by uncovering a primordial population of compact and ultra-blue galaxies that have never been seen before. They are from 13 billion years ago, just 600 to 800 million years after the Big Bang. These newly found objects are crucial to understanding the evolutionary link between the birth of the first stars, the formation of the first galaxies, and the sequence of evolutionary events that resulted in the assembly of our Milky Way and the other "mature" elliptical and majestic spiral galaxies in today's universe."
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Physical reality of string theory demonstrated

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 5 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "String theory has come under fire in recent years. Promises have been made that have not been lived up to. Leiden theoretical physicists have now for the first time used string theory to describe a physical phenomenon. Their discovery has been reported in Science Express. 'This is superb. I have never experienced such euphoria.' Jan Zaanen makes no attempt to hide his enthusiasm. Together with Mihailo Cubrovic and Koenraad Schalm, he has successfully managed to shed light on a previously unexplained natural phenomeon using the mathematics of string theory: the quantum-critical state of electrons. This special state occurs in a material just before it becomes super-conductive at high temperature. Zaanen describes the quantum-critical state as a 'quantum soup', whereby the electrons form a collective independent of distances, where the electrons exhibit the same behaviour at small quantum mechanical scale or at macroscopic human scale."
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Jets on Saturn's moon Enceladus not geysers

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 5 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Water vapor jets that spew from the surface of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus are not really geysers from an underground ocean as initially envisioned by planetary scientists, according to a study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder. First observed following a close flyby by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in July 2005, the jets were found to consist of both water vapor and icy particles, said Professor Nicholas Schneider of CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The jets inspired speculation by planetary scientists that they were geysers — violent explosions of water out of a vent caused by expanding bubbles of water vapor emanating from an ocean beneath the icy crust of Enceladus."
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Human eye inspires advance in computer vision

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 5 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Inspired by the behavior of the human eye, computer scientists have developed a technique that lets computers see objects as fleeting as a butterfly or tropical fish with nearly double the accuracy and 10 times the speed of earlier methods. The linear solution to one of the most vexing challenges to advancing computer vision has direct applications in the fields of action and object recognition, surveillance, wide-base stereo microscopy and three-dimensional shape reconstruction. Previously, computer visualization relied on software that captured the live image then hunted through millions of possible object configurations to find a match. "When the human eye searches for an object it looks globally for the rough location, size and orientation of the object. Then it zeros in on the details," said Jiang, an assistant professor of computer science. "Our method behaves in a similar fashion, using a linear approximation to explore the search space globally and quickly; then it works to identify the moving object by frequently updating trust search regions.""
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CO2 higher today than last 2.1 million years

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 5 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Researchers have reconstructed atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the past 2.1 million years in the sharpest detail yet, shedding new light on its role in the earth's cycles of cooling and warming. The study, in the June 19 issue of the journal Science, is the latest to rule out a drop in CO2 as the cause for earth's ice ages growing longer and more intense some 850,000 years ago. But it also confirms many researchers' suspicion that higher carbon dioxide levels coincided with warmer intervals during the study period. The authors show that peak CO2 levels over the last 2.1 million years averaged only 280 parts per million; but today, CO2 is at 385 parts per million, or 38% higher. This finding means that researchers will need to look back further in time for an analog to modern day climate change."
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MP3 headphones interfere with pacemakers

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  more than 5 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Headphones for MP3 players placed within an inch of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) may interfere with these devices, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2008. Researchers tested eight different models of MP3 player headphones (including both the clip-on and earbud variety) with iPods® on 60 defibrillator and pacemaker patients. They found a detectable interference with the device by the headphones in 14 patients, (23 percent). Specifically, they observed that 15 percent of the pacemaker patients and 30 percent of the defibrillator patients had a magnet response. Researchers suggest that patients should not place headphones in their pocket or drape them over their chest. For family members or friends of patients with implantable defibrillators, they should avoid wearing headphones and resting their head right on top of someone's device."
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Searching the Internet increases brain function

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  about 6 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Scientists have found that for computer-savvy middle-aged and older adults, searching the Internet triggers key centers in the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning. The findings demonstrate that Web search activity may help stimulate and possibly improve brain function. Pursuing activities that keep the mind engaged may help preserve brain health and cognitive ability. Traditionally, these include games such as crossword puzzles, but with the advent of technology, scientists are beginning to assess the influence of computer use — including the Internet."
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Baldness gene discovered: 1 in 7 men at risk

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  about 6 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Researchers conducted a genome-wide association study of 1,125 caucasian men who had been assessed for male pattern baldness. They found two previously unknown genetic variants on chromosome 20 that substantially increased the risk of male pattern baldness. They then confirmed these findings in an additional 1,650 caucasian men. "If you have both the risk variants we discovered on chromosome 20 and the unrelated known variant on the X chromosome, your risk of becoming bald increases sevenfold. What's startling is that one in seven men have both of those risk variants. That's 14 per cent of the total population!""
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Astronomers get best view yet of infant stars

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  about 6 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Astronomers have used ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer to conduct the first high resolution survey that combines spectroscopy and interferometry on intermediate-mass infant stars. They obtained a very precise view of the processes acting in the discs that feed stars as they form. These mechanisms include material infalling onto the star as well as gas being ejected, probably as a wind from the disc. Infant stars form from a disc of gas and dust that surrounds the new star and, later, may also provide the material for a planetary system. Because the closest star-forming regions to us are about 500 light-years away, these discs appear very small on the sky, and their study requires special techniques to be able to probe the finer details."
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Adaptive optics produces sharper Jupiter images

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  about 6 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "A two-hour observation of Jupiter using an improved technique to remove atmospheric blur has produced the sharpest whole-planet picture ever taken from the ground, according to astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The series of 265 snapshots taken with the help of a prototype Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) instrument mounted on the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) revealed changes over the past three years in Jupiter's smog-like haze, probably a response to a planet-wide upheaval more than a year ago."
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Magnetic field in distant galaxy a surprise

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  about 6 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "Using a powerful radio telescope to peer into the early universe, a team of California astronomers has obtained the first direct measurement of a nascent galaxy's magnetic field as it appeared 6.5 billion years ago. Astronomers believe the magnetic fields within our own Milky Way and other nearby galaxies--which control the rate of star formation and the dynamics of interstellar gas--arose from a slow "dynamo effect." In this process, slowly rotating galaxies are thought to have generated magnetic fields that grew very gradually as they evolved over 5 billion to 10 billion years to their current levels. But in the October 2 issue of Nature, the astronomers report that the magnetic field they measured in this distant "protogalaxy" is at least 10 times greater than the average value in the Milky Way!"
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HIV/AIDS pandemic began around 1900

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  about 6 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "New research indicates that the most pervasive global strain of HIV began spreading among humans between 1884 and 1924, not during the 1930s, as previously reported. The earlier period of origin coincides with the establishment of urban centers in the west-central African region where the epidemic of this particular HIV strain--HIV-1 group M--emerged. This suggests that urbanization and associated high-risk behaviors set the stage for the HIV/AIDS pandemic. To reach this earlier estimation of the origin of HIV, a team of scientists from four continents screened multiple tissue samples and uncovered the world's second-oldest genetic sequence of HIV-1 group M, which dates from 1960."
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Sexism pays

FiReaNGeL FiReaNGeL writes  |  about 6 years ago

FiReaNGeL writes "When it comes to sex roles in society, what you think may affect what you earn. A new study has found that men who believe in traditional roles for women earn more money than men who don't, and women with more egalitarian views don't make much more than women with a more traditional outlook. A total of 12,686 people, ages 14 to 22 at the beginning of the study, participated; the results showed that men in the study who said they had more traditional gender role attitudes made an average of about $8,500 more annually than those who had less traditional attitudes."
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