Popular Posts

Followers

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.