Friday, April 30, 2010

Indian Man, Prahlad Jani, Lives Seven Decades Without Food or Water?

Apr 28, 2010

A hermit in India's Ahmedabad City claims to have survived without food and water for the last 70 years.

The Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences is carrying out a study on Prahlad Jani at a private hospital to understand the phenomenon behind his claim.

He will be kept under observation at the hospital for the next 15 days and will go through a number of tests.

[Dr. G. Ilavazhagan, Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences]:

"This may help in working out strategies for survival without food and water when it is not available, for example, in natural calamities, people face this situation. Similarly, our soldiers may also face this situation when they are left in the deserts or in forest or in high altitude areas.”

A neurophysician says Jani's survival is miraculous.

[Sudhir Shah, Neurophysician]:

“A person can live without food and water for three, four, seven to 12 days and we have studied during ...fasting in the past that people have done fasting for 16 or 30 days, but they were taking water after eight days and certainly they pass urine but this case is a unique phenomena.”

Some tests on his brain revealed that it resembled that of a 25-year-old person.

Jani has also claimed he has a hole in his palate and through his head where a drop or two of nectar passes that helps him survive.

Initial test reports confirmed Jani's body has undergone a biological transformation due to yoga exercises.

Doctors also said there was no sign of fatigue or any other problem with the hermit, and he still prefers using stairs to the elevator.

Not much is known about Jani's family since he had left home at the age of seven and wandered in jungles.

via Epoch Times - Indian Man Lives Seven Decades Without Food or Water.

Video here:

It would be pretty neat if our bodies could do something like this. Nectar? Not to be insulting, but could someone have a bag of nutrient water implanted in his nose to pull off a trick? I'd like to see some scans. X-ray his stomach. Does he have one? Is it atrophied? Is there food in his system? That would show right away if his claim is real. What about his brain resembles the brain of a 25-year-old? That's an absurdly non-scientific non-medical and vague statement. Well, I'm intrigued, but I don't buy it.  Check back in 15 days and perhaps there will be a follow up.
Inedia is the alleged ability to live without food. Breatharianism is a related concept, in which believers claim food and possibly water are not necessary, and that humans can be sustained solely by prana (the vital life force in Hinduism), or according to some, by the energy in sunlight. The terms breatharianism or inedia may also refer to this philosophy practised as a lifestyle in place of the usual diet.

While it is often seen as an esoteric practice performed by eastern ascetics, with no basis in scientific fact, some groups and individuals promote the practice as a skill which anybody can learn through specific techniques, sometimes only after paying large fees, as in the case of the "Breatharian Institute of America".[1]

The word "inedia" simply means "fasting" in Latin, and was first used to describe a fast-based lifestyle within Catholic tradition, which holds that certain saints were able to survive for extended periods of time without food or drink other than the Eucharist. ...

The well-publicized deaths of 49-year-old Australian-born Scotland resident Verity Linn, 31-year-old Munich kindergarten teacher Timo Degen, and 53-year-old Melbourne resident Lani Marcia Roslyn Morris, while attempting to enter the breatharian "diet", have drawn further criticism of the idea.[11][12] Jim Vadim Pesnak, 63, and his wife Eugenia, 60, went to jail for three years on charges of manslaughter for their involvement in the death of Morris. Verity Lynn, the Scottish woman who inadvertently killed herself by choosing the breatharian "diet" was a nominee for the 1999 Darwin Awards. She "took to the highlands", the article says, "with only a tent and her grit and determination. She died of hypothermia and dehydration, aggravated by lack of food."[13] Jasmuheen claimed that her death was brought on by a psycho-spiritual problem, rather than a physiological one.

Jasmuheen has denied any involvement with the three deaths and claims she cannot be held responsible for the actions of her followers. In reference to the death of Lani Morris, she said that perhaps Morris was "not coming from a place of integrity and did not have the right motivation".[12]


Prahlad Jani

Prahlad Jani, a Jain holy man[29], spent ten days under strict observation by physicians in Ahmedabad, India, in 2003. The study was led by Dr Sudhir Shah, the same doctor who led the study of Hira Ratan Manek. Reportedly, during the observation, he was given only 100 millilitres of water a day to use as mouthwash, which was collected and measured after he used it, to make sure he hadn't consumed any. Throughout the observation, he passed no urine or stool, but doctors say urine appeared to form in the bladder, only to be reabsorbed.[30] However, despite Jani's claim to have gone without food for decades, Jani was not engaged in strenuous exercise during the ten-day trial, and longer trials were not recorded under similarly strict observation. Further, his weight did drop slightly during the 10 days, casting some doubt on his claim to go indefinitely without food. Jani claims a goddess sustains him through amrit that filters down through a hole in his palate.[30] The Indian Rationalist Association labels him a "village fraud".[31]

On June 26, 2006, The Discovery Channel aired a documentary called "The Boy with Divine Powers" featuring a 5 minute interview with Prahlad Jani and Dr. Sudhir Shah.

As of April 22nd 2010, new tests are being conducted on Prahlad Jani under surveillance of 35 doctors and researchers of Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Science (DIPAS).[32][33]

- wikipedia

Amazing Underwater River in Mexico?

If you are a professional diver you should visit Cenote Angelita Mexico.

These amazing pictures were taken by Anatoly Beloshchin in the cave Cenote Angelita,

Mexico. Here’s his description: “We are 30 meters deep, fresh water, then 60 meters deep

– salty water and under me I see a river, island and fallen leaves… Actually,

the river, which you can see, is a layer of hydrogen sulphide.”

It must be an unforgettable feeling once you’re there and see it with your own eyes.

via Amazing Underwater River : Cenote Angelita in Mexico.

This didn't look right. Can you really get visibility like this 300 feet (90 meters) down? Why would the diver need the light if you can see so well? Why are the leaves I'm seeing partially green!? I thought it was a hoax, a Photoshop job.  But after seeing video, I do believe. Amazing.

Calculus created in India 250 years before Newton: study

Researchers in England may have finally settled the centuries-old debate over who gets credit for the creation of calculus.

For years, English scientist Isaac Newton and German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz both claimed credit for inventing the mathematical system sometime around the end of the seventeenth century.

Now, a team from the universities of Manchester and Exeter says it knows where the true credit lies — and it's with someone else completely.

The "Kerala school," a little-known group of scholars and mathematicians in fourteenth century India, identified the "infinite series" — one of the basic components of calculus — around 1350.

Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph, a member of the research team, says the findings should not diminish Newton or Leibniz, but rather exalt the non-European thinkers whose contributions are often ignored.

"The beginnings of modern maths is usually seen as a European achievement but the discoveries in medieval India between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries have been ignored or forgotten," he said. "The brilliance of Newton's work at the end of the seventeenth century stands undiminished — especially when it came to the algorithms of calculus.

"But other names from the Kerala School, notably Madhava and Nilakantha, should stand shoulder to shoulder with him as they discovered the other great component of calculus — infinite series."

He argues that imperialist attitudes are to blame for suppressing the true story behind the discovery of calculus.

"There were many reasons why the contribution of the Kerala school has not been acknowledged," he said. "A prime reason is neglect of scientific ideas emanating from the Non-European world, a legacy of European colonialism and beyond."

However, he concedes there are other factors also in play.

"There is also little knowledge of the medieval form of the local language of Kerala, Malayalam, in which some of most seminal texts, such as the Yuktibhasa, from much of the documentation of this remarkable mathematics is written," he admits.

via CBC News - Technology & Science - Calculus created in India 250 years before Newton: study.

If data is ambigous, the inflexible people sway public debate the most.

Public debates driven by incomplete scientific data where nobody can claim absolute certainty, due to current state of scientific knowledge, are studied. The cases of evolution theory, global warming and H1N1 pandemic influenza are investigated. The first two are of controversial impact while the third is more neutral and resolved. To adopt a cautious balanced attitude based on clear but inconclusive data appears to be a lose-out strategy. In contrast overstating arguments with wrong claims which cannot be scientifically refuted appear to be necessary but not sufficient to eventually win a public debate. The underlying key mechanism of these puzzling and unfortunate conclusions are identified using the Galam sequential probabilistic model of opinion dynamics. It reveals that the existence of inflexible agents and their respective proportions are the instrumental parameters to determine the faith of incomplete scientific data public debates. Acting on one's own inflexible proportion modifies the topology of the flow diagram, which in turn can make irrelevant initial supports. On the contrary focusing on open-minded agents may be useless given some topologies. When the evidence is not as strong as claimed, the inflexibles rather than the data are found to drive the opinion of the population. The results shed a new but disturbing light on designing adequate strategies to win a public debate. - link

The best scientists the ones who are the most open minded and cautious, are the least believed. This is not as it should be, but we are illogical creatures. If something has an emotional impact, it is seen as more true.

Cryptozoology Online: Daily News: At last, it's monkey riding a goat walking on a tightrope

For all those of you who have been waiting ages for a decent picture of a tightrope-walking goat being ridden by a nervous monkey, today will be a good day.

For those of you who have not been tingling with anticipation at the faint hope of a tightrope-walking-goat-riding-monkey picture, we hope you'll get something.

The tightrope/goat/monkey incident occurred at a zoo in Fuzhou, in China's southeastern Fujian province.

A close examination of the picture suggests that the goat seems to be going about its tightrope walking duties with an air of calm equanimity, while the monkey is clearly rather less pleased about the whole affair, and quite probably wishes it wasn't chained to a goat being made to balance on a rope for the entertainment of a gawping public.

Goats, of course, have naturally good balance, and in Morocco can often be seen happily climbing trees. Monkeys, on the other hand, are not natural goat-jockeys.

via Cryptozoology Online: Daily News: At last, it's monkey riding a goat walking on a tightrope.

Elephant helps give broken safari jeep push start

275x250.jpg275x250.jpgA frustrated zoo keeper at a UK safari park was given unusual assistance when his jeep broke down… an elephant gave him a push start

Lawrence Bates was all set to call for assistance to the animal reserve when his jeep broke down, until Five the elephant decided to give him a helping (hand) trunk.

The keeper couldn't believe his eyes as the 18-year-old d African Elephant run behind the jeep and started pushing.

In a matter of seconds the trusty nelly had pushed the car out of trouble and out of the enclosure… and given the AA an idea about replacement staff. But Five wasn't finished there, she then proved better than most breakdown services as she took the time to give the truck a spring clean with her trusty trunk as part of the free service.

Director of Wildlife at West Midlands Safari Park, Bob Lawrence, said: "I've never seen anything like this in my life - it was absolutely incredible.

"Five and her keeper are a real team. It's said that an Elephant never forgets, thankfully we don't experience many vehicle breakdowns, but next time Five will know exactly what to do."

via Elephant helps give broken safari jeep push start - Odd News |

Shops agree to £20m pay-out over 'toxic sofas'

SofaA number of High Street chains have agreed to pay up to £20m ($31m) to 2,000 people who received chemical burns from anti-fungal agents in sofas.

The victims are expected to get £1,200-£9,000 each plus other expenses for loss of weddings, holidays and wages.

The group that owns Argos and Homebase, furniture chain Walmsleys and other smaller firms had admitted liability for selling the Chinese-made sofas.

Some Land of Leather customers will not get a pay-out, after an earlier ruling.

'Swift compensation'

Richard Langton, solicitor for law firm Russell Jones and Walker, said: "People's lives were put on hold. Some people thought that they were dying, that they had skin cancer.

"Their doctors couldn't tell them what was wrong, a lot of psychological symptoms.

"Some cases were not so severe, fortunately, but for many people they say it was the worst period of their lives ever."

Mr Justice MacDuff was told in court that a "claims handling agreement" had been reached that did not resolve the whole of the litigation, but would "open the way to swift compensation for many hundreds" of people. Mr Langton said there would be another hearing on 21 May when 2,500 further cases would be considered.

The £20m figure includes legal costs, as well as compensation.

Burned through clothes

Up to 100,000 of the sofas were sold with "highly sensitising" fungicidal chemical dimethyl fumarate (DMF) inside. The substance was designed to stop the furniture, manufactured by Chinese companies Linkwise and Eurosofa, going mouldy in storage. When the sofas went into people's homes the solid sachets turned into gas that burned through clothes and on to skin. The claimants were said to have suffered severe skin or eye complaints, breathing difficulties or other medical conditions.

Solicitors said the EU had now banned the use of DMF after consumers in at least five European countries suffered skin burns and breathing problems. Another High Court judge previously ruled more than 300 customers were not entitled to compensation from Land of Leather's insurers Zurich, after the furniture firm went into administration in January 2009. That decision is expected to be challenged in the Court of Appeal.

via BBC News - Shops agree to £20m pay-out over 'toxic sofas'.

"More than 1,500 victims — including the relatives of two people who allegedly died as a result of their symptoms — have lodged compensation claims with British lawyers. Relatives of Elizabeth McLaughlin, 59, claim that she fell gravely ill after using an Argos Bari sofa in last May and died two months later of heart failure."


Widow builds children a life-size cardboard cut-out of their dead father

Maria Challis with her children- Jack and Molly and the cardboard cut-out of her late husband PaulA grieving widow has kept the memory of her dead husband alive for their two children – by creating a life-size cardboard cut-out to live in the family home.

Paul Challis, a father-of-two, died from cancer at just 38, weeks after being diagnosed with two brain tumours.

His wife Maria, 36, was determined that their two children – Jack, seven, and Molly, nine – would not forget his memory so has installed a 6'1" cardboard model in their living room.

The 2D father was a guest at his own funeral and even attended his friend's wedding weeks after his death.

He is pictured at one of his happiest moments holding a bottle of champagne and laughing while on-board a QE2 cruise to Bruges, Belgium, with Maria.

Paul's death had been so shocking to his family and friends Maria decided he was still going to be the heart of the party even in death.

The cut-out was made for Paul's funeral but afterwards his grieving wife could not bear to get rid of it.

She said: "Paul was always the life and soul of the party and it seemed only fitting for him to be there for the final party, his final farewell.

"I think he would have loved it, he would have said, 'why didn't I think of that? ...

via Widow builds children a life-size cardboard cut-out of their dead father - Telegraph.

Driver reverses car through wall of car park's seventh story

Driver reverses car through wall of car park's seventh storey Ralph Huson, 67, managed to get his foot stuck between the brake and the accelerator as he attempted to reverse his white C-class into a space in the Bank of America building's car park in Tulsa.

Around half a dozen vehicles parked below were hit with bricks from upt to 70 feet in the air, but more damage was averted as the car came to rest with its boot hanging out of the building.

Corporal David Crow, from Tulsa Police Department, told radio station KRMG: "At about 1.50pm this afternoon we had a report of a car hitting the side of a building.

"We didn't know what that meant but when we got here we saw this Mercedes backed halfway out of a parking spot on the seventh floor of this parking garage.

"The driver got his foot stuck under the accelerator and couldn't get it unstuck.

"He was coming across the back of the parking garage and he created a little bit of momentum because he went quite a distance and hit this wall and almost came all the way out."

Cpl Crow added the nobody was hurt during the incident, while the driver also avoided injury.

via Driver reverses car through wall of car park's seventh storey - Telegraph.

Giant Blizzard Raging on Saturn

A massive blizzard is raging on Saturn — a storm so large and fierce NASA astronomers and amateur skywatchers can see it from Earth.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn has a front row seat to the otherworldly tempest and is recording the most detailed data yet of storms on the ringed planet. But amateur astronomers back on Earth have also managed to chip in on the Saturn blizzard stormwatch.

"We were so excited to get a heads-up from the amateurs," said Cassini scientist Gordon Bjoraker, a composite infrared spectrometer team member based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The data showed a large, turbulent storm, dredging up a lot of material from the deep atmosphere and covering an area at least five times larger than the biggest blizzard that hit Earth so far this year — the "Snowmageddon" storm that blanketed the Washington, D.C. area in snow in February. [Saturn's rings and moons.]

Saturn's 'storm alley'

Cassini's radio and plasma wave instrument and imaging cameras have been tracking thunder and lightning storms on Saturn for years in a region around Saturn's mid-latitudes that is nicknamed "storm alley."

But, gathering data on storms requires a tricky balancing act, since storms on Saturn can come and go on a time scale of weeks, while Cassini's imaging and spectrometer observations have to be locked in place months in advance.

Given these limitations, NASA sometimes enlists the help of amateur astronomers.

The radio and plasma wave instrument regularly picks up electrostatic discharges that are associated with the storms, so scientists have been sending periodic tips to amateurs, who can quickly go to their backyard telescopes and try to spy the bright convective storm clouds.

Amateur astronomers Anthony Wesley, Trevor Barry and Christopher Go received one of those notices in February, and were able to snap dozens of pictures over the next several weeks.

In fact, in late March, Wesley — who is based in Australia and was the first person spot the aftermath of an comet impact on Jupiter last summer — sent Cassini scientists an e-mail with a picture of the storm attached.

"I wanted to be sure that images like these were being seen by the Cassini team just in case this was something of interest to be imaged directly by Cassini or the Hubble Space Telescope," Wesley wrote.

Cassini scientists analyzed all the images in detail, including a picture from March 13 of the storm at its peak, taken by Go, who lives in the Philippines.

via -- Giant Blizzard Raging on Saturn.

Conspiracy of Science - Earth is in fact growing

Site with video claims secret night time removal of Egyptian Artifacts near Sphinx

The heavy work schedule continued through the night for much longer than the movie ran. And by the way.... did we mention... the explosion which occurred later underground from the same area at circa 10.00am local, was felt and heard even by those in the buildings of the nearby village!  ... But 'we' also precisely know what the target is. We would just like the information for once to be openly yielded during works progress, by the authorities.             and sorry... but we are not holding our breath!

Surely all the behind the scenes excavation activity at Giza deserves as much prominance in the Press as the copious examples of photo-shoots and back-slapping, that flow from the Press like the millions of gallons of wasted water being pumped from below the plateau. - richardg

There have been cases in the past where someone who discovered something opened it and took treatures before the "real" opening. I'm not saying that is going on, but it does look like there is something being moved. There is no way to tell where or when this video was really taken. I'm sure Zahi Hawass would have a reasonable explanation. Perhaps some restoration work. Or they are putting stuff in instead of taking it out. Can't really tell from the video. Get some good night vision on your videos, and pan around a bit so we can see where you are. Go back in the day time to show what you were filming? Where did the trucks go?

Have We Contaminated Mars with Life? Crichton would have loved this: Bacteria common to spacecraft may be able to survive the harsh environs of Mars long enough to inadvertently contaminate Mars with terrestrial life, according to new research. "If long-term microbial survival is possible on Mars, then past and future explorations of Mars may provide the microbial inoculum for seeding Mars with terrestrial life," say researchers from the University of Central Florida. "Thus, a diversity of microbial species should be studied to characterize their potential for long term survival on Mars."

The search for life on Mars remains a stated goal of NASA's Mars Exploration Program and Astrobiology Institutes. To preserve the pristine environments, the bioloads on spacecraft headed to Mars are subject to sterilization designed to prevent the contamination of the Martian surface.

Despite sterilization efforts made to reduce the bioload on spacecraft, recent studies have shown that diverse microbial communities remain at the time of launch. The sterile nature of spacecraft assembly facilities ensures that only the most resilient species survive, including acinetobacter, bacillus, escherichia, staphylococcus and streptococcus.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida replicated Mars-like conditions by inducing desiccation, hypobaria, low temperatures, and UV irradiation. During the week-long study they found that the harmless, rod-shaped Escherichia coli, a potential spacecraft contaminant, may likely survive but not grow on the surface of Mars if it were shielded from UV irradiation by thin layers of dust or UV-protected niches in spacecraft.

Jason McManus via American Society for Microbiology

via Have We Contaminated Mars with Life?.

Noah's Ark Found? Uh, No.

Noah's Ark Ministries InternationalIt took nearly 5,000 years to unearth Noah's Ark -- and just three days for a serious challenge to the legitimacy of the find to emerge.

A former member of the expedition whose sponsors this week claimed to have found the legendary biblical boat buried beneath the snows of Turkey's Mount Ararat says the "discovery" was probably a hoax.

"If the world wants to think this is a wonderful discovery, that's fine," Randall Price, an archaeologist who in 2008 was working with the Chinese-led evangelical team, told The Christian Science Monitor. "My problem is that, in the end, proper analysis may show this to be a hoax and negatively reflect how gullible Christians can be."In a leaked e-mail that had made the rounds on the Web, Price, a longtime ark-hunter who directs the Center for Judaic Studies at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., says that in the summer of 2008, a group of Kurdish laborers, hired by a local guide working with the Chinese expedition, removed several large wooden beams from an old structure near the Black Sea, then hauled them to a cave near the peak of Ararat, long thought by believers to have been the spot where Noah's Ark washed up.

Price says that those photos of the supposed ark include cobwebs in the corners of the structure's rafters, "something just not possible in these conditions."

Meanwhile in ark-hunting circles, news of the alleged hoax is being greeted as hardly surprising.

"There are certain biblical artifacts -- like the Ark of the Covenant and the Ark of Noah -- that just seem to bring out a lot of amateur searchers," says Bill Crouse, president of Christian Information Ministries, who has himself spent years searching for Noah's Ark. "My concern is that well-meaning Christians jump the gun, and this thing becomes viral on the Internet. A lot of Christians are confused because they thought the ark was found two years ago, or two years before that. These things seem to come up every two years or so."

via Noah's Ark Found? Insider Randall Price Now Says Discovery May Be a Hoax - AOL News.

Are US oil rigs under attack by terrorists?

"The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday it was responding to an overturned oil rig in an inland canal near Morgan City, Louisiana. The rig is not leaking fuel at this time, the Coast Guard said, but 500 feet of containment boom has been deployed around the rig as a precaution. The mobile inland drilling unit overturned in the Charenton navigational canal, the Coast Guard said."

A second oil rig overturned?
There are no coincidences: As news spread of a second oil rig overturning, conspiracy theories blossomed .

But then came the news Friday afternoon that a second oil rig has "overturned" near Morgan City, Louisiana. Details were sketchy in the immediate aftermath of the news breaking, but who needs details?! An epidemic of dark muttering swiftly broke out in some of the more conspiratorially minded neighborhoods of the Net.

"There is no such thing as a coincidence. Something's up," declared one poster at Free Republic.

"Earth to Obama!...Do you know something you're not telling us???"

"If only one jet had flown into the WTC on 911 we would all still talking about what a tragic accident it was......"

"It just fell over, all by itself... Nothing to see here. Move along, move along...."

Yes, it must be true: "The USA is under attack by oil rig destroyers." Environmental whacko saboteurs are on the loose! Can't you see? The signs of a classic Communist plot are everywhere: Destroying the ecology of the Gulf in the cause of destroying the American energy industry! Paging Michael Crichton: You were right!

OK, I admit, I took that last quote from the site Godlike Productions, which explicitly defines labels itself as "UFOs, Conspiracy Theorists, Lunatic Fringe." So maybe a grain of salt is in order. On the other hand, as any observer of American political discourse in the past few years knows all too well, the distance between the lunatic fringe and the floor of the Senate has never been shorter.

News flash from the real world: The Associated Press is now reporting that it's not clear the second rig even contains any oil or fuel -- and wasn't actively drilling.

Officials say an oil drilling rig on its way to a scrap yard has overturned in Louisiana... The rig overturned about 80 miles west-southwest of New Orleans. The Coast Guard said in a news release Friday that the drilling unit overturned in the Charenton navigational canal.  - salon

About the BP Gulf of Mexico spill:
Size of Spill in Gulf of Mexico Is Larger Than Thought

"Government officials said late Wednesday night that oil might be leaking from a well in the Gulf of Mexico at a rate five times that suggested by initial estimates. ...

An explosion and fire on a drilling rig on April 20 left 11 workers missing and presumed dead. The rig sank two days later about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for exploration and production for BP, said a new leak had been discovered as well. Officials had previously found two leaks in the riser, the 5,000-foot-long pipe that connected the rig to the wellhead and is now detached and snaking along the sea floor. One leak was at the end of the riser and the other at a kink closer to its source, the wellhead.

But Mr. Suttles said a third leak had been discovered Wednesday afternoon even closer to the source. “I’m very, very confident this leak is new,” he said. He also said the discovery of the new leak had not led them to believe that the total flow from the well was different than it was before the leak was found. ...

Until Wednesday night, the well had been estimated to be leaking 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, each day. ...

As the investigation into the cause continued, officials, scientists and those who make their living on the Gulf Coast were focused on the impending prospect of the oil’s landfall.

"- nytimes

Oil Spill Reaches the US

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Government's new modus operandi for innovation: The Prize X Prize modeled itself on the Orteig Prize, announced in 1919 by hotelier Raymond Orteig as a spur for innovation in aviation. The $25,000 award would go to whoever could fly from New York to Paris, or vice versa, nonstop. Eight years later, Charles Lindbergh claimed the purse with his solo dash across the Atlantic. Diamandis said the key element of the story is not Lindbergh's triumph, but what came afterward: "Within 18 months of Lindbergh's flight, the number of passengers rose from 6,000 in 1927 to 180,000 in 1929."

Last September, the Obama administration released the Strategy for American Innovation, which called on agencies to use prizes and challenges. The obvious advantage of the prize approach is that the government pays only for results. The competitors invest their own money in research and development.

Prizes also diversify the pool of problem-solvers. Solutions to technical problems, for example, are often found by people in seemingly unrelated fields. A prime example involves the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989, said Dwayne Spradlin, chief executive of InnoCentive, and another of the speakers at the Friday session. Spradlin said the Oil Spill Recovery Institute of Cordova, Alaska, had trouble cleaning up the oil at the bottom of Prince William Sound. When exposed to low temperatures, the oil would turn nearly solid. InnoCentive helped the institute put together a $20,000 contest for the best solution.

A construction engineer in the Midwest realized that the problem was analogous to the difficulty of keeping concrete from hardening prematurely when pouring a foundation. His winning solution used industrial vibrating equipment, placed on barges, which kept the oil in a liquid state.

"We don't even call this outsourcing," Spradlin said. "In this model it's 'diversity.' You're trying to get to as many potential solvers as possible."

Contests and crowdsourcing aren't foolproof, say the veterans of the game. If the rules aren't carefully structured, someone can win a prize with an approach that has no practical value. The goal also has to be specific and realistic.

"You can't just ask, 'invent for me antigravity' type of questions. Or cure cancer," said Karim Lakhani, assistant professor of management at Harvard Business School, who has written extensively on open innovation. ...

via Government's new modus operandi for innovation: The Prize.

Teenager died after having his lip pierced

Daniel HindleDaniel Hindle died from blood poisoning

A 17 year old British boy has died after having his lip pierced.

At an inquest into his death the dangers of body piercing were underlined by a coroner following the death of the student from blood poisoning two months after having a ring put through his lip.

The Sheffield inquest concluded that was the most likely cause of Daniel Hindley, 17, falling ill and dying from circulatory failure.

Apparently though Mr Hindley, of Richmond, Sheffield, had a heart defect he was leading a normal life.

Coroner Christopher Dorries, said that any wound carried a risk of infection, and those vulnerable to infection need to understand that it is not just adults trying to stop their fun, there can be very real risks to body piercing.

The jury returned a verdict of misadventure and concluded that Mr Hindley died from complications caused by severe septicaemia.

Mr Dorries is contacting the Health and Safety Executive and the Association of Environmental Health Officers to make them aware of the circumstances of the death in December 2002.

At the inquest Mr Hindley's girlfriend, Naomi Storey, 21, said that she had had her eyebrow pierced at the same time and that the assistant had removed the cap of the needle with her teeth.

Following the hearing, Mr Hindley's mother, Christina Anderson, 44, said she hoped her son's death would make anyone considering body piercing stop and think twice about the risks.

via Teenager died after having his lip pierced.

Third of U.S. teens with phones text 100 times a day

File photo of contestants competing in the the ...A third of U.S. teenagers with cell phones send more than 100 texts a day as texting has exploded to become the most popular means of communication for young people, according to new research.

The study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which offers a glimpse into teen culture and communication, found that texting has risen dramatically even since 2008, eclipsing cell phone calls, instant messaging, social networks -- and talking face-to-face.

The Pew Research Center said that three-fourths of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 now own cell phones and of those that do, girls typically send or receive 80 text messages per day and boys, 30 per day.

"Texting is now the central hub of communication in the lives of teens today, and it has really skyrocketed in the last 18 months," Pew researcher Amanda Lenhart said, attributing the rise in part to payment plans that allow unlimited texting.

The study's authors also say that, unlike phone calls, text messaging can be quietly carried out under the noses of parents, teachers or other authority figures and, unlike computers, it can be done almost anywhere.

"We've kind of hit a tipping point where now teens expect other teens to respond to text messaging and to be available," Lenhart said. "There is definitely an element of text messaging that fits so seamlessly into their lives."

Text messaging has become so much a part of teenagers' lives that 87 percent of those who text said that they sleep with, or next to, their phone.

Study author Scott Campbell said focus groups conducted by Pew also offer insight into the subtleties of teen communication and culture, revealing for example that, while boys don't typically use punctuation, for girls such nuances are critical.

"If a girl puts a period at the end of a text message (to another girl) then it comes across as she's mad," Campbell said, which explains the prevalence of smiley emoticons.

"They have these practices because they've learned that texts can lead to misunderstandings," Lenhart said. "It's a deliberate thing and it's also part of a culture that's interested in differentiating itself from adult culture."

The percentage of teens with cell phones who sent at least one text message a day increased from 38 percent in 2008 to 54 percent in September 2009, according to the study.

Meanwhile 38 percent of teens said they daily make at least one cell phone call, 30 percent said they talk on a landline phone and 24 percent said they used instant messaging.

via Third of U.S. teens with phones text 100 times a day - Yahoo! News.

Largest atlas of nuclear galactic rings unveiled

An international team of astrophysicists has just unveiled the most complete atlas of nuclear rings, enormous star-forming ring-shaped regions that circle certain galactic nuclei. The catalogue, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, includes 113 such rings in 107 galaxies.

"AINUR (the Atlas of Images of Nuclear Rings) is the most complete atlas of nuclear rings created to date", Sébastien Comerón, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), and co-author of the joint study with other scientists from the universities of La Laguna, Oulu (Finland) and Alabama (United States), tells SINC.

The atlas has just been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and covers 113 nuclear rings in 107 different galaxies. Six are dust rings in elliptical galaxies, while the rest (the majority) are star-forming rings in disc galaxies.

The nuclear rings are ring-shaped, star-forming configurations located around galactic nuclei. They range in size on average from between 500 to 3,000 light years, and they are very bright because they contain an abundance of young stars, including some extremely massive ones. This kind of star has a short lifetime but shines very brightly before exploding as a supernova.

To find the rings, the astrophysicists used images from around 500 galaxies observed by the Hubble space telescope, which belongs to NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as using other references. The images were processed using filters, generating various kinds of maps to help identify the rings more easily.

via Largest atlas of nuclear galactic rings unveiled.

Nude-Colored Hospital Gowns Could Help Doctors Better Detect Hard-To-See Symptoms

Human skin also changes color as a result of hundreds of different medical conditions.

Pale skin, yellow skin, and cyanosis – a potentially serious condition of bluish discoloration of the skin, lips, nails, and mucous membranes due to lack of oxygen in the blood – are common symptoms. These color changes often go unnoticed, however, because they often involve a fairly universal shift in skin color, Changizi said. The observer in most instances will just assume the patient’s current skin color is the baseline color. The challenge is that there is no color contrast against the baseline for the observer to pick up on, as the baseline skin color has changed altogether.

(To hear Changizi address the age-old question of why human veins look blue, see:

One potential solution, Changizi said, is for hospitals to outfit patients with gowns and sheets that are nude-colored and closely match their skin tone. Another solution is to develop adhesive tabs in a large palette of skin-toned colors. Physicians could then choose the tabs that most closely resemble the patient’s skin tone, and place the tabs at several places on the skin of the patient. Both techniques should afford doctors and clinicians an easy and effective tool to record the skin tone of a patient, and see if it deviates – even very slightly – from its “baseline” color over time.

“If a patient’s skin color shifts a small amount, the change will often be imperceptible to doctors and nurses,” Changizi said. “If that patient is wearing a skin-colored gown or adhesive tab, however, and their skin uniformly changes slightly more blue, the initially ‘invisible’ gown or tab will appear bright and yellow to the observer.” ...

via RPI: News & Events - Bare Discrepancies: Nude-Colored Hospital Gowns Could Help Doctors Better Detect Hard-To-See Symptoms.

Less is more when restraining calories boosts immunity funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that volunteers who followed a low-calorie diet or a very low-calorie diet not only lost weight, but also significantly enhanced their immune response. The study may be the first to demonstrate the interaction between calorie restriction and immune markers among humans.

The lead researcher, Simin Nikbin Meydani, is director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., and also of the HNRCA's Nutritional Immunology Laboratory.

The study is part of the "Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy" trial conducted at the HNRCA. As people age, their immune response generally declines. Calorie restriction has been shown to boost these immune responses in animal models.

In the study, 46 overweight (but not obese) men and women aged 20 to 40 years were required to consume either a 30-percent or 10-percent calorie-restricted diet for six months.

Prior to being randomly assigned to one of the two groups, each volunteer participated in an initial 6-week period during which measures of all baseline study outcomes were obtained. All food was provided to participants.

For the study, the researchers looked at specific biologic markers. A skin test used called DTH (delayed-type hypersensitivity) is a measure of immune response at the whole body level.

The researchers also examined effects of calorie restriction on function of T-cells--a major type of white blood cell--and other factors on the volunteer's immune system.

DTH and T-cell response indicate the strength of cell-mediated immunity. One positive was that DTH and T-cell proliferative response were significantly increased in both calorie-restrained groups.

These results show for the first time that short-term calorie restriction for six months in humans improves the function of T-cells.

via Less is more when restraining calories boosts immunity.

Single monster tornado blamed for 10 Miss. deaths

Felled trees lie strewn on the ground on Wednesday, ...An American flag hangs from a bent beam outside ...Dennis Richardson Mississippi counts the cost after deadly tornadoes The National Weather Service has confirmed that a single monster tornado is to blame for 10 deaths over the weekend in Mississippi.

It was initially unclear if a single massive twister, or multiple smaller ones, caused the deaths and damaged about 700 homes in the state.

Residents can be seen sifting through debris ...MISSISSIPPI TORNADO Mississippi counts costs after deadly tornadoes The state's chief Weather Service meteorologist, Alan Gerard, said Wednesday that the tornado followed a nearly 150-mile track from Tallulah, La., through Mississippi, before dissipating in Oktibbeha County in northeastern part of the state.

Gerard said the tornado was unusually large — measuring 1.75 miles wide. That's a record for Mississippi.

The storm system went on to Alabama, where it spawned more tornados, and is blamed for two other deaths.

via Single huge tornado blamed for 10 Miss. deaths - Yahoo! News.

US Supreme Court rules against Monsanto GM alfalfa, Justice Scalia comments on it ending the world

US Supreme Court eyes bar on Monsanto GM alfalfa Supreme Court justices sounded skeptical Tuesday of a federal court decision blocking US biotech giant Monsanto's sale of genetically modified alfalfa because some farmers fear their crops will be contaminated.

A federal judge in California in May 2007 ruled in a finding upheld on appeal in 2009 to block the sale of Monsanto's GM alfalfa seeds.

The ruling also asked the USDA to carry out an  environmental impact study which it had not done before giving a green light back in 2004 to the sale of these seeds.

Plaintiffs, who are organic farmers supported by organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity, worry that genetically modified seeds will contaminate their crops.

Monsanto took the fight all the way to the highest court in the land, arguing that the federal court did not have authority to block the alfalfa seed sales.

In a hearing, justices had questions about whether the environmental impact could be addressed before the USDA had done an impact study.

Judge Antonin Scalia minimized potential risks saying, "This is not the contamination of the New York city water supply. This isn't the end of the world. It really isn't."

via US Supreme Court eyes bar on Monsanto GM alfalfa - Yahoo! News.

Yeah, it's not like some alfalfa is going to create a black hole that swallows the entire galaxy in one day and one night resulting in the complete extinction of all life everywhere in the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Geeze. Relax. Eat your franken-foods. Trust that if it turns out that GM foods are killing people slowly and/or causing diseases like cancer, there will, eventually, be lawsuits and it will be banned ... after enough people have died. That's the way  it worked with vioxx, asbestos, PCBs, certain pesticides, DDT and cigarettes.

Giant NASA balloon crashes in Australia

Giant NASA balloon crashes in Australia A giant NASA science balloon crashed during take-off in Australia Thursday, destroying its multi-million-dollar payload, toppling a large car and narrowly missing frightened observers.

Dramatic footage of the incident showed the balloon's large undercarriage coming loose from its moorings, smashing through a fence and knocking a four-wheel-drive car on its side before coming to rest.

"We were sitting in our car and preparing to move it out of the way and we actually were within a foot (30 centimetres) of being wiped out," a relieved bystander said, on footage relayed by public broadcaster ABC.

"If it hadn't been for the other gentleman's car being there, we'd be somewhere else by now, I think."

The balloon, the size of a football field when inflated and designed to float up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) high, deep in the stratosphere, fluttered back down to the Alice Springs launch site after it came loose.

Witnesses said they were asked to move out of the way before the payload, containing expensive scientific instruments, was suddenly dragged across the launch site.

"We started moving the cars and just barely made it out without getting smashed," one witness said.

"(There was) debris flying through the air everywhere," said another. "That was it, just an instance of chaos outside."

Scientists last week completed a similar balloon flight to measure X-rays and gamma rays sent out by various stars and galaxies from deep in the Earth's atmosphere.

Ravi Sood, director of the Alice Springs Balloon Launching Centre, said scientists involved in the NASA-sponsored project were extremely disappointed.

"Ballooning, that's the way it happens on occasions but it is very, very disappointing. Gut-wrenching actually," he told ABC.

via Giant NASA balloon crashes in Australia - Yahoo! News.

Purple Pokeberries hold secret to affordable solar power worldwide – the weeds that children smash to stain their cheeks purple-red and that Civil War soldiers used to write letters home – could be the key to spreading solar power across the globe, according to researchers at Wake Forest University's Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials.

Nanotech Center scientists have used the red dye made from pokeberries to coat their efficient and inexpensive fiber-based solar cells. The dye acts as an absorber, helping the cell's tiny fibers trap more sunlight to convert into power.

Pokeberries proliferate even during drought and in rocky, infertile soil. That means residents of rural Africa, for instance, could raise the plants for pennies. Then they could make the dye absorber for the extremely efficient fiber cells and provide energy where power lines don't run, said David Carroll, Ph.D., the center's director.

"They're weeds," Carroll said. "They grow on every continent but Antarctica."

Wake Forest University holds the first patent for fiber-based photovoltaic, or solar, cells, granted by the European Patent Office in November. A spinoff company called FiberCell Inc. has received the license to develop manufacturing methods for the new solar cell.

The fiber cells can produce as much as twice the power that current flat-cell technology can produce. That's because they are composed of millions of tiny, plastic "cans" that trap light until most of it is absorbed. Since the fibers create much more surface area, the fiber solar cells can collect light at any angle – from the time the sun rises until it sets.

To make the cells, the plastic fibers are stamped onto plastic sheets, with the same technology used to attach the tops of soft-drink cans. The absorber – either a polymer or a less-expensive dye – is sprayed on. The plastic makes the cells lightweight and flexible, so a manufacturer could roll them up and ship them cheaply to developing countries – to power a medical clinic, for instance.

Once the primary manufacturer ships the cells, workers at local plants would spray them with the dye and prepare them for installation. Carroll estimates it would cost about $5 million to set up a finishing plant – about $15 million less than it could cost to set up a similar plant for flat cells.

"We could provide the substrate," he said. "If Africa grows the pokeberries, they could take it home.

"It's a low-cost solar cell that can be made to work with local, low-cost agricultural crops like pokeberries and with a means of production that emerging economies can afford."

via Purple Pokeberries hold secret to affordable solar power worldwide.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The secrets of intelligence lie within a single cell

Modelling the neuron as little more than a simple on/off switch is  a big mistake (Image: Dan Webber)Modelling the neuron as little more than a simple on/off switch is a big mistake (Image: Dan Webber)

... Unravelling brain structure and function has come to mean understanding the interrelationship between neurons, rather than understanding the neurons themselves. My hunch is that the brain's power will turn out to derive from data processing within the neuron rather than activity between neurons. And networks of neurons enhance the effect of those neurons "thinking" between themselves. I think the neuron's action potentials are rather like a language neurons use to transmit processed data from one to the next.

Back in 2004, we set out to record these potentials, from neurons cultured in the lab. They emit electrical signals of around 40 hertz, which sound like a buzzing, irritating noise played back as audio files. I used some specialist software to distinguish the signal within the noise - and to produce sound from within each peak that is closer to the frequency of a human voice and therefore more revealing to the ear.

Listening to the results reprocessed at around 300 Hz, the audio files have the hypnotic quality of sea birds calling. There is a sense that each spike is modulated subtly within itself, and it sounds as if there are discrete signals in which one neuron in some sense "addresses" another. Could we be eavesdropping on the language of the brain?

For me, the brain is not a supercomputer in which the neurons are transistors; rather it is as if each individual neuron is itself a computer, and the brain a vast community of microscopic computers. But even this model is probably too simplistic since the neuron processes data flexibly and on disparate levels, and is therefore far superior to any digital system. If I am right, the human brain may be a trillion times more capable than we imagine, and "artificial intelligence" a grandiose misnomer.

I think it is time to acknowledge fully that living cells make us what we are, and to abandon reductionist thinking in favour of the study of whole cells. Reductionism has us peering ever closer at the fibres in the paper of a musical score, and analysing the printer's ink. I want us to experience the symphony. ...

via The secrets of intelligence lie within a single cell - life - 26 April 2010 - New Scientist.

Brain shuts off in response to healer's prayer

Shut down (Image: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty)WHEN we fall under the spell of a charismatic figure, areas of the brain responsible for scepticism and vigilance become less active. That's the finding of a study which looked at people's response to prayers spoken by someone purportedly possessing divine healing powers.

To identify the brain processes underlying the influence of charismatic individuals, Uffe Schjødt of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues turned to Pentecostal Christians, who believe that some people have divinely inspired powers of healing, wisdom and prophecy.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Schjødt and his colleagues scanned the brains of 20 Pentecostalists and 20 non-believers while playing them recorded prayers. The volunteers were told that six of the prayers were read by a non-Christian, six by an ordinary Christian and six by a healer. In fact, all were read by ordinary Christians.

Only in the devout volunteers did the brain activity monitored by the researchers change in response to the prayers. Parts of the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, which play key roles in vigilance and scepticism when judging the truth and importance of what people say, were deactivated when the subjects listened to a supposed healer. Activity diminished to a lesser extent when the speaker was supposedly a normal Christian (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsq023).

Schjødt says that this explains why certain individuals can gain influence over others, and concludes that their ability to do so depends heavily on preconceived notions of their authority and trustworthiness.

It's not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians. ...

via Brain shuts off in response to healer's prayer - life - 27 April 2010 - New Scientist.

Martian tubes could be home for 'cavenauts'

Home from home (Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)OUR ancestors made their first homes in caves. Now it looks like the first humans on Mars will do the same.

An analysis of Martian geography suggests where to look for the right kind of caves. "At least two regions, the Tharsis rise and the Elysium rise, contain volcanic features which may be suitable locations for caves," says lead author Kaj Williams of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

What's more, the analysis suggests that caves in these regions will contain a ready supply of water, in the form of ice.

Lava tubes are the most likely form of cave that we could occupy on Mars. These tunnel-like caves were created when ancient lava flows solidified at the surface, while lava inside drained away.

The existence of ice in these caves has been suggested before, but Williams and colleagues have taken the idea one step further by using a computer model to find out exactly how ice might build up inside them. They also looked at how long it might last. The team represented their cave as a box 10 metres square by 8 metres high, with a single small opening to the atmosphere in the roof.

They found that during the Martian day, warm, buoyant air would not enter the cool cave, saving the ice from melting. At night, as the outside air cooled, it would sink into the cave and bring in water vapour that condensed as frost onto the already icy walls. The model showed that the ice would be stable, lasting for up to 100,000 years (Icarus, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2010.03.039).

via Martian tubes could be home for 'cavenauts' - space - 26 April 2010 - New Scientist.

Real Bloody Flying Nazi Soldiers With Jet Packs - Himmelstürmer

Real Bloody Flying Nazi Soldiers With Jet PacksThere's probably only one thing more terrifying than Nazi soldiers: Nazi soldiers with jet packs—and Nazi UFOs ... the Nazi jet pack did [exist]: Behold, the Himmelstürmer.

The Himmelstürmer—or Skystormer—used a pulse jet engine, like the one that powered the Fieseler Fi 103 flying bomb. The Fi 103 was the official name of the the infamous V-1 Buzz Bomb, which terrorized England for a while, until the RAF pilots learnt to shoot it down over the Channel... and the Nazis introduced the V-2 ballistic missile, invented by Saturn V rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.

The Himmelstürmer was designed for one purpose: To make Nazi soldiers in their engineering corps to jump over enemy defenses, like minefields, barbed wire, or trenches, as well as rivers, or any other large natural obstacle. It had two components. The main pulse engine—on the back—pushed up and forward. A second pulse engine on the front pushed only up.

The engineer throttled the back engine to make him jump over greater or shorter distances. It consumed very little fuel, never ran hot, and didn't require special clothing because it wasn't designed to run for long period of times. All while achieving 180 feet jumps at an altitude of 50 feet. Impressive. Fortunately, like all their secret super-weapons, it arrived late in the war.

While no photos of the Himmelstürmer remain—the image above is a recreation—Bell Aerosystems got the devices at the end of the war, but changed its design thinking they could turn every soldier into Superman, instead of just super-jumpers. Their version, however, wasn't reliable enough for real action, and was canned after a few years. [DRB and Wikipedia]

via Real Bloody Flying Nazi Soldiers With Jet Packs - Himmelstürmer - Gizmodo.

We are told now that the Nazis had real working jet packs, but we are supposed to believe that they could not put a circular shell around one and make a flying disk ( see Rundflugzeug, Diskus, Haunebu, Hauneburg-Geräte, VRIL, Kugelblitz, Andromeda-Geräte, Flugkreisel, Kugelwaffen, ) or ball (see foo fighters or Feuerball.).

If Nazi UFOs are all fake, what of this?  Man-made UFOs 1944-1994: 50 years of suppression

Rare 95-million-year-old flying reptile Aetodactylus halli is new pterosaur genus, species

A 95 million-year-old fossilized jaw discovered in Texas has been identified as a new genus and species of flying reptile, Aetodactylus halli.

Aetodactylus halli is a pterosaur, a group of flying reptiles commonly referred to as pterodactyls.

The rare pterosaur — literally a winged lizard — is also one of the youngest members in the world of the pterosaur family Ornithocheiridae, according to paleontologist Timothy S. Myers, who identified and named Aetodactylus halli. The newly identified reptile is only the second ornithocheirid ever documented in North America, says Myers, a postdoctoral fellow in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Aetodactylus halli would have soared over what is now the Dallas-Fort Worth area during the Cretaceous Period when much of the Lone Star state was under water, covered by a vast ancient sea.

While rare in North America, toothed pterosaurs belonging to the Ornithocheiridae are a major component of Cretaceous pterosaur faunas elsewhere in the world, Myers says. The Texas specimen — a nearly complete mandible with most of its 54 teeth missing — is definitively younger than most other ornithocheirid specimens from Brazil, England and China, he says. It is five million years younger than the only other known North American ornithocheirid.

Myers describes the new species in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Go to to see illustrations of Aetodactylus halli and the Cretaceous marine environment, an image of the fossilized jaw and links to more information.

via Rare 95-million-year-old flying reptile Aetodactylus halli is new pterosaur genus, species.

Nanodots Breakthrough May Lead To ‘A Library On One Chip’ researcher at North Carolina State University has developed a computer chip that can store an unprecedented amount of data – enough to hold an entire library’s worth of information on a single chip. The new chip stems from a breakthrough in the use of nanodots, or nanoscale magnets, and represents a significant advance in computer-memory technology.

“We have created magnetic nanodots that store one bit of information on each nanodot, allowing us to store over one billion pages of information in a chip that is one square inch,” says Dr. Jay Narayan, the John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State and author of the research.

The breakthrough is that these nanodots are made of single, defect-free crystals, creating magnetic sensors that are integrated directly into a silicon electronic chip. These nanodots, which can be made uniformly as small as six nanometers in diameter, are all precisely oriented in the same way – allowing programmers to reliably read and write data to the chips.

The chips themselves can be manufactured cost-effectively, but the next step is to develop magnetic packaging that will enable users to take advantage of the chips – using something, such as laser technology, that can effectively interact with the nanodots.

The research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, was presented as an invited talk April 7 at the 2011 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting in San Francisco.

NC State’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering is part of the university’s College of Engineering.

via NCSU News :: NC State News and Information » Nanodots Breakthrough May Lead To ‘A Library On One Chip’.

Water ice found on Asteroid gives clues to oceans' origins first-ever discovery of ice and organic molecules on an asteroid may hold clues to the origins of Earth's oceans and life 4 billion years ago.

University of Central Florida researchers detected a thin layer of water ice and organic molecules on the surface of 24 Themis, the largest in a family of asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.

Their unexpected findings will be published Thursday, April 29 in Nature, which will featuretwo complementary articles by the UCF-led team and by another team of planetary scientists.

"What we've found suggests that an asteroid like this one may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water," said UCF Physics Professor HumbertoCampins, the study's lead author.

Some theories suggest asteroids brought water to Earth after the planet formed dry. Scientists say the salts and water that have been found in some meteorites support this view.

Using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, Campins and his team of researchers measured the intensity of the reflected sunlight as 24 Themis rotated. Differences in intensity at different wavelengths helped researchers determine the makeup of the asteroid's surface.

Researchers were surprised to find ice and carbon-based compounds evenly distributed on 24 Themis. More specifically, the discovery of ice is unexpected because surface ice should be short lived on asteroids, which are expected to be too warm for ice to survive for long.

The distance between this asteroid and the sun is about three times greater than between Earth and the sun.

Researchers will continue testing various hypotheses to explain the presence of ice. Perhaps most promising is the possibility that 24 Themis might have preserved the ice in its subsoil, just below the surface, as a kind of "living fossil" or remnant of an early solar system that was generally considered to have disappeared long ago.

via Asteroid ice may be 'living fossil' with clues to oceans' origins.

New microscopy technique reveals mechanics of blood cell membranes to an interdisciplinary team of researchers, scientists now have a more complete understanding of one of the human body’s most vital structures: the red blood cell.

Led by University of Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor Gabriel Popescu, the team developed a model that could lead to breakthroughs in screening and treatment of blood-cell-morphology diseases, such as malaria and sickle-cell disease. The group published its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Red blood cells (RBCs) are unique in structure – a doughnut-shaped disc full of the oxygen-carrying molecule hemoglobin but none of the intracellular structures of other cells, not even DNA. In circulation, RBCs must contort to squeeze through capillaries half their diameter. Their flexibility and resilience come from their membrane structure, which couples a typical lipid bilayer with an underlying matrix of protein. However, knowledge of the membrane’s mechanics is very limited.

“The deformability of red blood cells is their most important property,” said Popescu, also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at U. of I. “What we wanted to find is, how does deformability relate to morphology?”

The research team used a novel measurement technique called diffraction phase microscopy, which uses two beams of light while other microscopes only use one.

“One beam goes through the specimen and one beam is used as a reference,” Popescu said. “It is very, very sensitive to minute displacements in the membrane, down to the nanoscale.”

RBC membrane movement can be observed through typical light microscopes, a phenomenon known as “flickering,” but Popescu’s team was able not only to see nanoscale membrane fluctuations in live cells, but also to measure them quantitatively – a first.

In addition to normal cells, the team also measured two other morphologies: bumpy RBCs called echinocytes and round ones called spherocytes. They discovered that these deformed cells display less flexibility in their membranes, a finding that could provide insight into mechanics and treatment of diseases that affect RBC shape, such as malaria, sickle-cell disease and spherocytosis.

With collaborators from UCLA, the group used its data to construct a new model of the RBC membrane that accounts for fluctuations and curvature, a more complete and accurate rendering than previous models that treated the membrane as a flat sheet. ...

via New microscopy technique reveals mechanics of blood cell membranes | News Bureau | University of Illinois.