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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Methane-based Life Forms Can Survive On Titan

An artist's impression of the only spacecraft, Huygens to land on Titan. 
Researchers have stated that Titan, which is Saturn’s moon, can harbor life. They added that a large amount of methane present on Titan’s surface can easily form oxygen free cells.

This new study by the researchers from the Cornell University, challenges current theories which state that we should only look for alien life within the habitable zone of a remote star, rather than on icy space objects such as Titan.

According to the astronomers, the habitable zone of a star, also known as the Goldilocks zone, is an area within a solar system where planets can have liquid water on its surface, i.e. the zone is neither too hot nor too cold for water to evaporate, or, in the latter case, freeze.

However, the researchers who have an expertise in chemical engineering and astronomy speculate that primitive cells that are permeable to liquid methane and do not necessarily require oxygen to survive may dwell on Titan. They modeled a `different` type of life form – which is oxygen-free and methane-based – that can metabolize and reproduce similar to life on earth.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Study: Fiber-rich diets encourage weight loss

New evidence suggests losing weight is as simple as eating more fiber -- sort of.
Anyone familiar with the world of nutritional science knows there's an overwhelming amount of conflicting evidence to sort through. So many of the strategies are both complex and contradictory, at least part of the reason dieting is so hard. Not to mention, the tenets are ever-changing.

All that is to say that simple formulas are especially cherished. When the goal is straightforward -- eat healthier, lose weight -- why shouldn't the approach be, too?

A new study found there is a simple strategy that works: eating more fiber. Adding just 30 grams of daily fiber to study participants' diets, said researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, matched or bested the effects of the diet proffered by the American Heart Association (AHA).

The AHA's diet includes 13 components, and even though study participants following it lost slightly more weight than fiber-focused dieters, the discrepancy was negligible.

"The more complex AHA diet resulted in slightly larger (but not statistically significant) weight loss, but a simplified approach emphasizing only increased fiber intake may be a reasonable alternative for individuals who find it difficult adhering to a more complicated diet," lead researcher Dr. Yunsheng Ma, associate professor of medicine, explained in a press release.

Participants who employed the fiber diet were able to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve their insulin response. All 240 of the volunteers participating in the study had symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol, and were overweight.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Would you take a one way trip to Mars?

No, this is not an episode of The Twilight Zone. Non-profit organization Mars One just announced the 100 finalists for its 2025 mission to colonize the Red Planet.

Mars One, an organization that plans to put the first humans on Mars has narrowed its applicant pool from 200,000 to 100. The goal of the Netherlands-based non-profit is to start a permanent colony on Mars – if the mission is launched, the colonists will never return to Earth.

The final group will consist of 24 individuals who will be split into six groups of four. One mission is scheduled to launch every two years starting in 2025.

The finalists will spend the next decade in training. The first phase of the process will focus on the candidates' ability to work together. The training process will be televised to raise money for the expensive mission. With a projected $6 billion price tag for each of the six planned launches, Mars One will need all of the funding it can muster. The non-profit plans to raise additional money through sponsorship and crowd-funding

“Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and word together in the upcoming challenges,” Dr Norbert Kraft, chief medical officer of Mars One, said in a press release.

Once on Mars, the astronauts will have to be completely self-sufficient with limited supplies. Therefore, training will not only test their physical and emotional readiness, but teach them everything from medical care to basic plumbing.

Finalist Maggie Leiu is excited by the idea of humans starting a civilization on another planet.

“There’d be no legal system or parliament so it would be really fascinating to see how we work out our lives,” Lieu told The Independent.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Yoga’s Popularity Grows Among Adults And Children

Yoga studios are popping up across the country as more and more Americans find benefits in the ancient art, and as more Western doctors recommend it for relaxation and exercise. The percentage of US adults practicing yoga has increased from 5.15% in 2002 to 9.5% in 2012 and in 2012, about 21 million adults practiced yoga as revealed in the survey conducted by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

While yoga alone is not a proven cure for any particular disease, more support for such mind-body therapy is coming from an even more authoritative source – doctors.

Previously, medical sceptics would not acknowledge the glowing testimonials of practitioners because yoga’s presumed benefits evaded — and still do — measurement by conventional medical standards.

But now, some general practitioners recommend yoga to their patients.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Skipping Breakfast Might be Just Fine, According to a New Study

An old and beloved adage says “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but new research suggests that it might need to retire.

According to a new study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, skipping breakfast might be just fine. It challenges the long-standing belief that starting your day with the right combination of healthy foods is the best strategy for all day energy, improved focus and concentration and overall well-being for a busy day.

This is actually not the first study to provide evidence that breakfast-eaters fare no better than non-breakfast-eaters (the evidence says, basically, breakfast is a wash, you could take it or leave it). While some previous studies have suggested that skipping breakfast could lead to heart disease down the line, this new study provides evidence that, at least in the short term, opting for big meal later in the day fares you no better or worse than bulking up on nutrition first thing in the morning.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New app 'reads minds' to post pictures

Posting a photograph to Twitter using just the power of thought may sound like a futuristic idea, but a new app that works with Google Glass means it is now possible to snap a picture and tweet it without lifting a finger or saying a word.

The app, called MindRDR, works through a second headset that the user wears alongside Google Glass, and communicates with the wearable device through Bluetooth.

It was created by London-based start-up This Place, which came up with the idea after using Glass, and finding that it could be more hands-free.

The headset, called the Neurosky EEG biosensor, uses a sensor that sits on your forehead and measures brainwaves. Concentrating triggers a higher brainwave reading, and this tells the app to take a picture, and then post it to Twitter.

Chloe Kirton, the company's creative director, said: "We started off by getting hold of Google Glass, which was really exciting for us - we really respect them and getting hold of one of their new products was really exciting.

"But when we started to use it we started to encounter what maybe you could call a usability issue; which is when you're swiping around looking for photos your arm can get a bit tired and we found ourselves holding our arms up and using the device, and we affectionately called this Glass elbow.

"So we wanted to task ourselves with finding a better way of using it, and not everyone has the high level of dexterity that is needed. The idea of mind control came up and we thought lets run with that and see where it can go. "

Monday, June 30, 2014

How Much Elephant Is In That Mouse?

‘New mouse species has elephant DNA,’ declared the headlines. It must have been hard to resist, considering the contrast in size between these animals. The wording conjures up images of runt elephants evolving into dwarf and then pocket pachyderms before shrinking so small that they could run up their bigger cousins’ trunks.

To further support the idea, the new species is part of a group called sengis, also known as elephant shrews.

Sadly, it’s all complete rubbish. Macroscelides micus is as closely related to elephants as aardvarks are. Yes, they share genes, but so do all creatures. Go back far enough and every living thing is related.

Part of the confusion arises because of the common name, which was probably given to them because of their long thin snouts.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

NASA Can Smell other Distant Planets now!

So what if NASA can't reach out to distant planets, but they have found out a way to smell them. A recent interplanetary smell-o-scope experiment was conducted by NASA to smell Titan, the moon of the planet Saturn.

The experiment involved a series of spectroscopic tests to be performed on the data collected by the spacecraft Cassini. Eventually from this virtual test this data is able to show chemical composition of a target's atmosphere, which in this case was Saturn's moon Titan.

The research team was led by Joshua Sebree, Assistant Professor at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Also, he was a former postdoctoral fellow at NASA Goddard.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Astronomers are predicting the astronomical event of a lifetime next week. On 24 May 2014, Earth will pass through the debris tail of Comet 209P/LINEAR, which will unleash a myriad of cosmic explosions lighting up the night sky.

This will be the first time Earth has ever experienced this particular meteor shower. A meteor shower happens when the Earth passes through debris left in space by a comet; the chunks of rock, ice and other materials, burn up in the atmosphere to form ‘shooting’ or ‘falling stars’.

The meteor shower, known as Camelopardalids, has its genesis from Comet 209P/LINEAR, a dim, nearly imperceptible comet that orbits the sun every five years. The comet was discovered in 2004 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project, a partnership of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. This will be the first time Earth has crossed through the debris field left by Comet 209P/LINEAR.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Young and Smart Gene

A gene known for its anti-aging effects also benefits the brain, according to a new study published in the journal Cell Reports. Variants of the gene could help scientists to develop treatments to improve memory and learning.

Patients with a variant of the gene produce more of a hormone called klotho—named for the Fate from Greek mythology who spun the thread of life—and typically enjoy longer lives. This recent study, however, suggests that the hormone also benefits cognition, and not just among the elderly.

"Based on what was known about klotho, we expected it to affect the brain by changing the aging process," said the study's director and UC-San Francisco professor Lennart Mucke. "But this is not what we found."

Mucke put their results gently—the scientists' hypothesis was totally wrong. The study found that rather than reducing cognitive decline, high levels of klotho had relatively little effect on this type of health.