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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Scientists grow mini brains from stem cells

A cross-section of a brain organoid shows neural stem cells in red, and neurons in green.
We've seen beating heart tissue, windpipes and bladders all grown from stem cells. Now researchers have taken another important step forward by growing mini brains from these programmable cells.

They're not actually functioning brains -- in the same way that a car with the engine on its roof or wheels on its hood isn't a drivable vehicle -- but the parts are there, and that's an important scientific advancement, according to Juergen Knoblich, senior author of a new study on using stem cells to grow brain tissue.

Scientists have created what they are calling "cerebral organoids" using stem cells. These pea-sized structures are made of human brain tissue, and they can help researchers explore important questions about brain development and disorders that occur during these first stages of life.

The organoids, as described in the journal Nature, have components resembling those of a brain of a 9- or 10-week-old embryo, said lead study author Madeline Lancaster, a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology at the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna, at a press briefing Tuesday.

She and colleagues have created hundreds of these organoids.

At this early stage of human development, several key regions of the brain are already distinctive features, including the dorsal cortex, the ventral forebrain, the choroid plexus -- which generates cerebrospinal fluid -- and regions that resemble the midbrain and hindbrain. Lancaster and colleagues say they've identified some of those same regions in these new mini brains.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

UW Researcher Moves Another Human's Finger with his Thoughts

It's the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface to do so.

Many new studies have shown that people can control things -- like video games or a cursor on a screen -- only with their thoughts, but a new project takes this to the next level: people controlling other people with their thoughts.

A new study by University of Washington researchers -- led by Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco -- created the first human-to-human brain interface that is noninvasive. It allowed the thoughts of one researcher to manipulate movement of another.

The study used electroencephalography (EEG) -- which is used to record brain activity noninvasively from the scalp -- and transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is a noninvasive way of delivering stimulation to the brain to obtain a response.

Rao sat in his laboratory, where he wore a cap hooked up to electrodes. The electrodes were connected to an electroencephalography machine in order to read the electrical activity in his brain.

Meanwhile, Stocco was in his laboratory across campus with a swim cap marked with the stimulation site for the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil. The coil was positioned over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement. There was a Skype connection between the two labs for coordination purposes, but neither Stocco nor Rao could see the Skype screens.

Rao was playing a video game with his mind, where he had to imagine moving his right hand in order to fire a cannon at a specific target. When he did this correctly, a cursor would hit the "fire" button.

Other researchers on the team (computer science and engineering undergraduates Matthew Bryan, Bryan Djunaedi, Joseph Wu and Alex Dadgar, along with bioengineering graduate student Dev Sarma) wrote the computer code for the study, which translated Rao’s brain signals into a command for Stocco’s brain.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New telescope will be 10 times sharper than Hubble

This close-up of the dying star's nebula was recorded in 2009 by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3.
Scientists are currently hard at work on a new telescope that promises to have 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope — but we're going to have to wait awhile.

So far, only one of an eventual seven massive mirrors has been completely cast and polished for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Each mirror is 27 feet across, weighs 20 tons, and takes a year to polish, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The project's cost? $700 million, reports Space.com.

"We expect to be able to make observations and spectrographic studies of the first stars that formed after the Big Bang," says the VP of the nonprofit coordinating the project, per the Times. "We'll be able to observe the earliest galaxies, as those stars assembled, and answer the question, when did black holes arrive?"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

'Dead' Man Resuscitated, Stuns Doctors

More than two weeks after an Ohio man believed to be dead was revived, physicians are still struggling to explain the event. Furthermore, far beyond assuming the expected vegetative state or requiring a heart transplant, Anthony Yahle, 37, says he feels well enough to return to work.

According to ABC, Yahle's wife, a nurse of seven years, called for an ambulance after she woke up and realized his breathing didn't sound right. Unable to wake him up, she and her son performed CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene. After shocking Yahle several times, first responders detected a heartbeat.

In the hospital, doctors were reportedly positive regarding Yahle's condition, saying that his arteries appeared to be clear. Then, later that afternoon, his heart stopped.

For 45 minutes Yahle "coded," a term referring to a medical emergency, and doctors tried to revive him before they agreed that it was too late.

"We looked at each other," Dr. Raja Nazir, Yahle's cardiologist at Kettering Medical Center, said. "We'd given him all the medicine we had in our code cart. At some point, you have to call it off."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Scientists unravel mystery why wolves cry

Why animals make noise? What they suggest? Austria-based scientists have discovered that the lonesome howl of the wolf doesn’t mean the animal is sad or distressed but it actually expresses the quality of relationships between the wolves.

The researchers based at Austria’s Wolf Science Centre said wolves howl more when a close companion or high-ranking group member leaves.

The findings, published in Current Biology, suggest the wolf’s howl is explained by social factors rather than physiological ones such as stress.

The study further explains relationships of wolf within its pack. Wolves are considered to be social creatures.

“Our results suggest the connection of social factor more in the howling behaviour than the emotional one in the wolf,” says Prof Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.

The researchers also suggested that the wolves make such sound to provide a sound-based beacon to help the wandering wolf find its way back to the safety of the pack.

Source: http://www.pentagonpost.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Superhot Kepler 78b Exoplanet Orbits its Star in a Mere 8.5 Hours

How would you feel if you grew almost three years older every day? If you lived on a certain exoplanet, you would. Scientists have discovered an Earth-sized planet that whips around its host star in a mere 8.5 hours.
The exoplanet is named Kepler 78b. Located about 700 light-years away from Earth, this planet has one of the shortest orbital periods ever detected. Because it lies so close to its star, the planet has estimated surface temperatures that rise to an impressive 3,000 degrees Kelvin, or more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In this type of environment, it's likely that the planet's surface is completely melted, creating a massive, roiling ocean of superhot lava.

Actually discovering this planet wasn't easy, though. The researchers examined more than 150,000 stars that were monitored by the Kepler Telescope before they found the superheated exoplanet. Currently, scientists are pouring over Kepler data in the hopes of finding an Earth-sized planet that is, potentially, habitable. Yet the researchers were curious whether it was possible to have an Earth-sized planet with an orbital period of only a few hours.

"We've gotten used to planets having orbits of a few days," said Joshua Winn, one of the researchers, in a news release. "But we wondered, what about a few hours? Is that even possible? And sure enough, there are some out there."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fossil of most evolutionarily successful mammal found in China

A nearly complete skeleton that belongs to the oldest ancestor of "the most evolutionarily successful and long-lived mammal lineage" on Earth has been unearthed in China, researchers from China and the US said.

Dubbed as " Rugosodon eurasiaticus", the newly discovered species looked a bit like a small rat or a chipmunk. It lived 160 million years ago and was an early member of the group of mammals known as multituberculates, which flourished across the planet from about 170 million to 35 million years ago, reports Xinhua.

Multituberculates arose in the Jurassic period and went extinct in the Oligocene Epoch, occupying a diverse range of habitats for more than 100 million years before they were out-competed by more modern rodents.

"The new mammal is called Rugosodon after the rugose teeth ornamented by numerous tiny ridges, grooves and pits, indicating that it was an omnivore that fed on leaves and seeds of ferns and gymnosperm plants, plus worms and insects," an international team of scientists from Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago said in a statement on Thursday.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Samsung bids to outsmart Apple with phone-watch

An artist's impression of Samsung's new watch which will browse the internet, download apps – and tell the time

SAMSUNG is set to beat biggest rival Apple to the punch by getting in first with a new smartwatch.

The South Korean company will launch a new watch that can browse the internet and make phone calls.

The gadget, to be called the Galaxy Gear, will be announced on September 4 in time for the largest annual technology trade fair in Europe – the IFA.

The smartwatch will run a version of the Google Android operating system and will be able to download apps, browse the web and send email. It can also be used as a phone.

The electronics giant is launching the device ahead of a similarly planned smartwatch from Apple, Samsung's biggest rival. Apple is said to have as many as 100 engineers working on developing its new smartwatch, which is expected to feature similar web- browsing and phone functions.

Voyager 1 Leaves Solar System

Eleven billion miles and 36 years after its launch, some researchers say the Voyager 1 spacecraft has finally left our solar system and entered interstellar space.

Researchers at the University of Maryland who made the claim realize it’s a controversial view, but they say their model indicates the spacecraft left the solar system over a year ago — on July 27, 2012, to be exact.

Voyager “is truly beginning its travels through the Milky Way," said University of Maryland research scientist Marc Swisdak, lead author of a new paper published online this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, which operates Voyager, has recently published papers saying Voyager 1 is still in a zone influenced by the Sun called the heliopause, something the Maryland researchers call a “fuzzily defined“ transition zone that is “both of unknown structure and location.”

The controversy lies over the importance in the shift of the magnetic field as the probe passes out of the Sun’s influence compared to the level of solar particles and galactic particles measured by the spacecraft.

Swisdak says looking at the magnetic field difference — as NASA is doing — may be the wrong indicator. He says that while you might expect a shift in the magnetic field once outside the solar system, “there’s no reason to think the magnetic fields should have anything to do with one another.”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Four cups of coffee a day may raise early death risk in younger adults

You may have read recent reports on coffee's health benefits, including reduced risk for stroke, heart failure, Alzheimer's, some cancers and even suicide risk.

But a new decades-long study finds coffee didn't have protective benefits: Drinking four or more cups of joe per day can be deadly for some.

Researchers found drinking 28 cups of coffee or more per week increased a person's odds of dying prematurely by 21 percent. The risk was more than 50 percent higher in adults under 55 years old.

"There continues to be considerable debate about the health effects of caffeine, and coffee specifically, with some reports suggesting toxicity and some even suggesting beneficial effects," study co-author Dr. Carl Lavie, a cardiology researcher at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, said in a statement.

The average American adult drinks about three cups of coffee per day, according to the authors.

For the study, researchers looked at data collected between 1979 and 1998 on nearly 44,000 people between 20 and 87 years old who answered health surveys about their personal and family medical histories, and lifestyle habits -- including how much coffee they drank. Most of the study participants were men.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Kepler: Nasa retires prolific telescope from planet-hunting duties

The prolific Kepler space telescope has had to give up its prime planet-hunting mission after engineers failed to find a fix for its hobbled pointing system.

The observatory lost the second of its four reaction wheels in May, meaning it can no longer hold completely steady as it looks towards the stars.

Nasa engineers have worked through a number of possible solutions but have failed to find one that will work.

Kepler has so far confirmed 135 planets beyond our Solar System.

But it still has more than 3,500 "candidates" in its database that have yet to be fully investigated, and the vast majority of these are expected to be confirmed as planets in due course.

The $600m (£395m) observatory was launched in March 2009 to try to find Earth-sized worlds orbiting their host stars in the so-called habitable zone. This is the region around a star where, given the right atmospheric conditions, temperatures would permit water to persist on a rocky surface in a liquid state. In essence, Kepler has been attempting to locate planets that have the best chance of supporting life.

The observatory has already identified a number of "super-Earths" (worlds slightly bigger than Earth) in stars' habitable zones, and mission scientists are confident they will soon be able to confirm the existence of further planets that enjoy even more Earth-like conditions.

"What we're looking for is a planet that's really Earth-sized around a star just like the Sun, and that's what we're hoping will be in this data that we have yet to fully analyse," explained Bill Borucki, the Kepler mission's principal investigator.

Kepler's method of detection has involved looking for the minute dips in light as planets pass in front of their stars. It is an extremely tricky measurement to make, with the total light changing by just tiny fractions of a percent.

And it has demanded Kepler be held absolutely still during these observations - something it needs a minimum of three spinning wheels to achieve.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Glow-in-the-dark bunnies born in Turkey

The fluorescent rabbits will help scientists test gene therapy research, and join a long list of other animals that glow.

Scientists at the University of Istanbul and the University of Hawaii Manoa have just overseen the birth of rabbits that glow under black light, according to Discovery News.

The Turkish researchers used techniques developed by the Hawaiian scientists to develop the transgenic bunnies. Two of the eight rabbits in the litter successfully glowed. Under normal light, the rabbits appear white and look like untreated bunnies.

The furry creatures had been injected with a fluorescent jellyfish gene, adding them to the long line of test animals (mice, pigs, cats and dogs) who now sport the glow-in-the-dark trait.

But what's the point of fluorescent animals? As scientists test breakthrough gene therapy for other illness on the animals, they couple the insertion of the test gene with the unique jellyfish gene.

If the animal glows, the researchers know the genes have transferred successfully.

Source: http://news.msn.com

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mars food study researchers to emerge from dome

An illustration of a human settlement on Mars.
Six researchers have spent the past four months living in a small dome on a barren Hawaii lava field at 8,000 feet, trying to figure out what foods astronauts might eat on Mars and during deep-space missions.

They were set to emerge on Tuesday with their recipes and without the space suits they were required to wear each time they ventured onto the northern slope of Mauna Loa — an active volcano that last erupted in 1984.

"It will be the first time they feel fresh air on their faces," said Kim Binsted, a University of Hawaii-Manoa associate professor and an investigator on the NASA-funded study who didn't live in the habitat.

The six researchers were selected by the University of Hawaii and Cornell University to prepare meals from a list of dehydrated, preserved foods that are not perishable. They examined pre-prepared meals similar to what astronauts currently eat, and concocted meals themselves in an attempt to combat malnourishment and food boredom.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tips for Enjoying the Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid meteor streaking across the early morning skies. Credit: NASA
According to early global observation reports over the weekend, pre-peak Perseid numbers are starting to ramp up, with some skywatchers already seeing as many as 30 shooting stars per hour. 

With the moon out of the way during peak meteor times between August 11 and 13 in the overnight hours, expectations are high for a good performance year from the Perseids. As many as 60 to 100 meteors per hour from a dark location may be in the offering.

Here are some tips on getting the most out of your meteor-watching experience:

1. There is no need for binoculars or telescopes to enjoy the celestial fireworks–just unaided eyes. Because the meteors can appear to streak across large parts of the sky, the human eye can soak in large portions of the overhead sky, offering a greater chance to catch one zipping by.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Perseid meteor shower to light up night sky this weekend

Look, up in the air! The year's best meteor shower returns for its August shooting star show, courtesy of a cloud of comet dust smacking into the Earth.

A bright Perseid meteor streaked down Saturday night (Aug. 7, 2010) over buildings at the Stellafane amateur astronomy convention in Springfield, Vermont.(Photo: Dennis di Cicco Sky & Telescope)
Put out the lawn chair, set the alarm and maybe bring something to wet your whistle while you gaze into the nighttime sky — the year's best shooting star show has started.

August's annual Perseids meteor shower peaks Sunday and Monday, promising perhaps 70 meteors an hour those evenings.

"The Perseids are the good ones," says meteorite expert Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The Perseids take their name from their apparent origin in the constellation Perseus, the hero of ancient Greek myth born from a shower of heavenly gold. Known for producing fireballs that might streak across a third of the sky, they owe their brilliance to the speed — nearly 134,000 mph — with which they smack into the upper atmosphere. "It's also because of the size of the meteors," Cooke says. The dust grains are about one-fifth of an inch across and burn nicely as they zip overhead.

Those dust grains come courtesy of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which circles the sun once every 133 years and leaves behind a debris trail. (Comets are basically dirty snowballs that develop tails when they approach the sun and start to melt. Different ones are responsible for other regular meteor showers, such as April's Lyrids, brought by Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, and November's Leonids brought by Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?

This artist's concept shows a simulated view from the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. Europa's potentially rough, icy surface, tinged with reddish areas that scientists hope to learn more about, can be seen in the foreground. The giant planet Jupiter looms over the horizon. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Most of what scientists know of Jupiter's moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s. Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life. But what if we got to land on Europa's surface and conduct something along the lines of a more in-depth interview? What would scientists ask? A new study in the journal Astrobiology authored by a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out their consensus on the most important questions to address.

This graphic shows a possible robotic lander for a future mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. Scientists want such a spacecraft equipped with the tools to answer key questions about the moon's composition, geological activity and possibility of hosting liquid water. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
"If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry," said Robert Pappalardo, the study's lead author, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations. Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The enormous Mayan mythical carving discovered inside an ancient pyramid that hints at a power struggle between the Snake Kingdom and the Tikal rulers

  • An ancient frieze found in a 20 metre tall pyramid in Guatemala, shows the battle of superpowers in 6th Century Central America
  • The Holmul Archaeological Project discovered the carving of figures in a mythological setting, while a Harvard scholar deciphered the glyphs
  • The carving shows three human figures wearing elaborate bird headdresses and jade jewels seated cross-legged
A huge stone carving crafted by the ancient Mayan civilisation that has been hidden inside a pyramid in Guatemala for centuries, shows a battle of superpowers in 6th Century Central America, archaeologists have said.
Archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below an ancient stucco frieze recently unearthed in the buried Maya city of Holmul in the Peten region of Guatemala. The frieze of the Maya culture is 8m long and 2m tall ans is one of the best preserved examples of its kind according to the Holmul Archaeological Project
The giant frieze featuring inscriptions and brightly coloured painting was discovered last month at a dig in the north east Peten region of the country at the Holmul archaeological dig.
The archaeologists believe evidence suggests that the rulers of the region were embroiled in a political clash of the titans between the kings of Kaanul - the Snake Kingdom - and the kings of Tikal.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Breast Cancer Risk May Rise With Blood Pressure Medicines

Using a type of blood pressure drug for more than a decade may raise breast-cancer risk, a study found, the first potential link between long-term use of the popular medicines and the most common malignancy among women.
Image: Norvasc, which is available as a generic in the U.S., generated about $1.35 billion in 2012 sales for New York-based Pfizer mostly on sales outside the U.S.

Women who took blood pressure drugs called calcium-channel blockers, like Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Norvasc, for 10 years or more had a 2.5 times higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who never took the medicine or who used other blood pressure treatments, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study released yesterday is the first to find that long-term use of calcium-channel blockers is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, the authors said. More research is needed to replicate the findings and to better understand why the class of medicines may increase the risk of the disease, said Christopher Li, the lead study author.
“While this is an intriguing finding, much more work still needs to be done,” Li, head of the Translational Research Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said in an e-mail. “While we appreciate that these results may cause concern for women currently using these medications, we do not think that they should change current clinical practice because they require confirmation and because of the importance of managing hypertension effectively.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Super-SVELTE BLUSH-PINK planet goes too far with star

Low-mass Jupiter-like exoplanet challenges planetary formation theory

Artist's impression ... the Jupiter-like low-mass exoplanet GJ 504b
Astronomers have detected a low-mass giant planet that challenges existing theories about how bigger worlds are formed.

The Jupiter-sized world, dubbed GJ 504b, was found much further out in its star's orbit than a planet its size should have been, if you go by existing planet-formation theory.

GJ 504b weighs in at around four times Jupiter's mass, and is the lowest mass exoplanet* to be imaged orbiting a Sun-like star using direct imaging techniques.

Given its similarity to Jupiter's size, NASA boffins were surprised to find that it was much much further away than Jupiter is in the solar system's setup: nearly nine times as far, to be exact.

According to existing theory, planets of this size are formed in the gas-rich debris field around a young star. Collisions between asteroids and comets in the disk around the star provide a core seed, which pulls in gas to form a planet when the core reaches sufficient mass to have gravity.

But this model - called "core-accretion" theory - only works well for worlds out as far as Neptune in our solar system, around 30 times further out than the Earth, and not so well once the world is even more distant from its star.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Kirobo is world's first talking robot sent into space

Japan has launched the world's first talking robot into space to serve as companion to astronaut Kochi Wakata who will begin his mission in November.

Tomotaka Takahashi with his creation
The android took off from the island of Tanegashima in an unmanned rocket also carrying supplies for crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Measuring 34cm (13 inches), Kirobo is due to arrive at the ISS on 9 August.

It is part of a study to see how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods.

The launch of the H-2B rocket was broadcast online by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

The unmanned rocket is also carrying drinking water, food, clothing and work supplies to the six permanent crew members based at the ISS.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Climate change on pace to occur 10 times faster than any change recorded in past 65 million years, Stanford scientists say

Not only is the planet undergoing one of the largest climate changes in the past 65 million years, Stanford climate scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field report that it's on pace to occur at a rate 10 times faster than any change in that period. Without intervention, this extreme pace could lead to a 5-6 degree Celsius spike in annual temperatures by the end of the century.

Image: The top map shows global temperatures in the late 21st century, based on current warming trends. The bottom map illustrates the velocity of climate change, or how far species in any given area will need to migrate by the end of the 21st century to experience climate similar to present.

The planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. Stanford climate scientists warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker than any climate shift in the past 65 million years.

If the trend continues at its current rapid pace, it will place significant stress on terrestrial ecosystems around the world, and many species will need to make behavioral, evolutionary or geographic adaptations to survive.

Although some of the changes the planet will experience in the next few decades are already "baked into the system," how different the climate looks at the end of the 21st century will depend largely on how humans respond.

The findings come from a review of climate research by Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science, and Chris Field, a professor of biology and of environmental Earth system science and the director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution. The work is part of a special report on climate change in the current issue of Science.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope Observes A Stellar System That Has Its Own 'Hula Hoop' Dust Disk

An artist's representation of the YLW 16A stellar system.  NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope discovered a stellar system in its infancy and observed some rather interesting phenomena. Of the three young stars that make up the system, two of them have a leftover dust disk surrounding them that resembles a "hula hoop."

The stellar system, YLW 16A, is located in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, a star-forming region consisting of dense gas and dust, 407 light-years from earth. The dust disk is at a tilt due to the gravitational pull of the third star in the system.

The system goes through bright and dim periods, resembling a blink, every 93 days, NASA says. As the two stars orbit one another, they eventually appear above the dust disk, creating a period of brightness but will eventually be obscured by the surrounding dust. The observations of YLW 16A were made by NASA’s Spitzer Telescope in infrared light. Other observations came from the Two Micron All-Sky, or 2MASS, Survey at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Evolution Study Reveals Why Selfish People Will Become Extinct

Evolution never helps the selfish, according to scientists.
A new study reveals new evidence that evolution favors cooperation over selfishness.  Researchers explain that while selfishness can offer short-term success, selfish people will eventually become extinct because they will sooner or later be outnumbered by competitors who cooperate to achieve shared goals.

Image: Researchers explain that while selfishness can offer short-term success, selfish people will eventually become extinct because they will sooner or later be outnumbered by competitors who cooperate to achieve shared goals. (Photo : Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers used high-powered computing to run hundreds of thousands of games to see whether it was selfishness or selflessness that ultimately won.

"We found evolution will punish you if you're selfish and mean," lead author Christoph Adami, Michigan State University professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, said in a news release. "For a short time and against a specific set of opponents, some selfish organisms may come out ahead. But selfishness isn't evolutionarily sustainable."

The latest findings go against the widely-held "Zero Determinant" theory that says that selfish players are guaranteed to beat cooperative players.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ghostly image of two of Saturn's many moons, courtesy of Cassini

Two of Saturn's moons, Mimas and Pandora, line up perfectly in this image taken by the Cassini spacecraft. (NASA )
Saturn may be best known for its iconic rings, but the giant planet is also host to more than 53 moons, each one a fascinating and distinct world of its own.

In the ghostly image above, captured by NASA's Cassini mission, you can see two members of Saturn's massive moon family -- Mimas and Pandora -- glowing brightly above Saturn's smooth gray rings.

The large, round moon toward the top of the image is Mimas, the smallest of Saturn's major moons. It is 246 miles across, and scientists believe it is made almost entirely of water ice.

Cassini was approximately 690,000 miles away from Mimas when it took this image, but if you look closely you can still spot the enormous 80-mile wide crater that spreads over a large chunk of the moon's surface. (It looks like a divot on the right side of the moon).