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Clearing Up Blurry Vision: Scientists gaze toward causes of myopia
Next time you can't make out a distant highway sign, blame your parents. Scientists in the United Kingdom have found that myopia, or nearsightedness, is predominantly hereditary, and they're beginning to unravel the genetic mechanism that causes the vision problem.

Roughly a third of people in the United States suffer from myopia—they clearly see close objects, such as words in a book, but things in the distance appear blurry. The anatomic root of the problem is an elongation of the eye as it grows, causing incoming light to focus in front of the retina, instead of squarely on it, explains Christopher J. Hammond of St. Thomas' Hospital in London.

Using a noninvasive technique, Hammond measured the sizes of the eyeballs of 280 sets of fraternal adult twins and 226 sets of identical twins. By mathematically modeling the differences in the eye sizes, Hammond found that genes accounted for 89 percent of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and other refractive vision problems, he reports in the August American Journal of Human Genetics.

To investigate what regions of DNA in the general population might have a connection to myopia, Hammond scanned the entire genome of the fraternal twins and found four sections linked to the eye problem. The most strongly linked segment contains 44 genes, including one specified as PAX6, which is already well-known to vision researchers. From fruit flies to humans, this gene is fundamental to eye growth in nearly all species that scientists have examined.
To investigate what regions of DNA in the general population might have a connection to myopia, Hammond scanned the entire genome of the fraternal twins and found four sections linked to the eye problem. The most strongly linked segment contains 44 genes, including one specified as PAX6, which is already well-known to vision researchers. From fruit flies to humans, this gene is fundamental to eye growth in nearly all species that scientists have examined.


If scientists can determine the genetic mechanisms for myopia, they might develop targeted pharmaceutical agents that can halt or slow the excessive eye growth that causes it.





ODD EYES. Elongated, myopic eyeball (top) focuses light in front of the retina, making distant images appear blurry. Normal eye (bottom) focuses light directly on the retina.
E. Roell


FULL STORY http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040710/fob1.asp

SOURCE: SCIENCENEWS. ORG

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Intelligence

Key Points
 
  • Many claim there is not one kind of intelligence, but at least eight different types, including verbal, spatial and emotional intelligence  
  • Argument rages as to whether intelligence is biologically or socially determined

     
     
  • The brain weighs less than 2.5% of our total bodyweight, but accounts 20% of our energy consumption when we're at rest. It burns oxygen and glucose at ten times the rate of other body organs
  •  
  • Each year 10,000 people take the MENSA IQ test - 2,500 pass to become members. Over the last century, the UK's average IQ has risen about 3 points every decade
 
 
  IQ depends on your culture, class and gender because of the way tests are written. Controversially, in the 1920s IQ tests were used to assess the suitability of immigrants for US citizenship  


What is intelligence?

Defining intelligence is highly problematic. Is there an 'intelligence' that equips us to solve all kinds of problems and answer all questions, regardless of their nature? Or are there different intelligences that help us deal with particular problems and solutions? The scientific community is divided on the issue.
One of the main tenet's underpinning the idea of a single entity 'intelligence' is the concept of 'General Intelligence', or 'g'. Devised by English Psychologist, Charles Spearman, in the early 20th Century 'g' was a statistical measure of performance across a variety of tests.

Spearman found that the same people who did well in a variety of mental tests tended to use a part in their brains that he termed 'g'. This 'g' laid the foundation for the notion of a single intelligence, which enables us to undertake everyday mental tasks.

A recent study seems to endorse Spearman's theory. Research has found that a part of the brain called the 'lateral prefrontal cortex' is the only area of the brain to increase in blood flow when volunteers tackle complicated puzzles.

Spearman's concept, however, is still highly controversial with many people questioning both the statistical process and the simplistic nature of 'g'. There is also a body of research that states that our mental ability is a function of social factors such as education and not one's inherent biological make-up.
Intelligence and the brain
The early Greeks thought the brain was the home of your soul, rather than your intellect. They believed that thinking happened somewhere around the lungs! Not until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the brain seen as an organ of intelligence and thought, when the concept of the mind emerged.

Using new forms of technology, scientists have been able to look at how the brain performs when we undertake different tasks. Roll the pointer over the brain below to find out how our brain processes language.

 
SOURCE: BBC SCIENCE AND NATURE


 


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Cassini exposes Saturn's two-face moon Iapetus


The moon with the split personality, Iapetus, presents a perplexing appearance in the latest images snapped by the Cassini spacecraft.
One hemisphere of the moon is very dark, while the other is very bright. Scientists do not yet know the origin of the dark material or whether or not it is representative of the interior of Iapetus.


Iapetus (pronounced eye-APP-eh-tuss) is one of Saturn's 31 known moons. Its diameter is about one third that of our own moon at 1,436 kilometers (892 miles). This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on July 3, 2004, from a distance of 3 million kilometers (1.8 million miles) from Iapetus. The brightness variations in this image are not due to shadowing, they are real.

During Cassini's four-year tour, the spacecraft will continue to image Iapetus and conduct two close encounters. One of those encounters, several years from now, will be at a mere 1,000 kilometers (622 miles).

Iapetus was discovered by the Italian-French astronomer Jean Dominique Cassini in 1672. He correctly deduced that the trailing hemisphere is composed of highly reflective material, while the leading hemisphere is strikingly darker.

This sets Iapetus apart from Saturn's other moons and Jupiter's moons, which tend to be brighter on their leading hemispheres. Voyager images show that the bright side of Iapetus, which reflects nearly 50 percent of the light it receives, is fairly typical of a heavily cratered icy satellite. The leading side consists of much darker, redder material that has a reflectivity of only about 3 to 4 percent.
Iapetus is odd in other respects. It is in a moderately inclined orbit, one that takes it far above and below the plane in which the rings and most of the moons orbit. It is less dense than many of the other satellites, which suggests a higher fraction of ice or possibly methane or ammonia in its interior.

SOURCE SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM


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Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree
 
 Research suggests chocolate may have health benefits
 
 Chocolate cravings may be a symptom of addiction
 
 Chocolate contains the same 'happy' chemicals found in some recreational drugs.


A Stack of chocolate relaxing yesterday.

The first chocolate bars
In the 1800s, solid chocolate became popular, with the invention of moulding processes. Mechanical grinders crushed cocoa beans to a fine powder that could be heated and poured into moulds, forming shapes as it cooled.

Dutchman Coenrad Van Houten perfected the extraction of cocoa butter from cocoa beans in 1825. The beans are crushed to a paste, which is subjected to very high pressure, forming chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. The extracted butter is smoothed and treated to remove any odours.

In the 1880s, Rudolphe Lindt of Switzerland started adding extra cocoa butter during chocolate manufacture, to make it smoother and glossier. Cocoa butter melts at around 97°F, which is human body temperature. That's why chocolate melts in the mouth.

Some Cocoa Pods hanging around yesterday.


Chocolate craving
 
The love of chocolate goes beyond the call of sweetness. Chocolate can induce craving in a way that other sugary products like toffee or marshmallow don't. Chocolate makes us feel good, but can it really be addictive?
General sweetness aside, there are various chemical elements specific to chocolate that may help to stimulate cravings. In fact, chocolate contains over 300 chemicals and it is not known how all of these affect humans.

A Cup of chocolate...err..yesterday !

Many women report particular chocolate cravings when pre-menstrual. This is possibly because chocolate contains magnesium, a shortage of which can exacerbate pre-menstrual tension. Similar cravings during pregnancy could indicate mild anaemia, which chocolate's iron content may help to cure.

Love drug?

Chocolate contains a natural 'love drug'. Tryptophan is a chemical that the brain uses to make a neurotransmitter called serotonin. High levels of serotonin can produce feelings of elation, even ecstasy - hence the name of the designer drug that also works by increasing serotonin levels.

A chocolate orgy earlier today !


Lust drug?While tryptophan could be considered 'chocolate's ecstasy', another chemical called phenylethylamine has earned the nickname 'chocolate amphetamine.' High levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness and apprehension. Phenylethylamine works by stimulating the brain's pleasure centres and reaches peak levels during orgasm.


A Cake with some chocolate sauce earlier today !



 
Chocolate chemistry
Like other sweet food, chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins, natural body hormones that generate feelings of pleasure and well-being.General sweetness aside, there are various chemical elements specific to chocolate that may help to stimulate cravings. In fact, chocolate contains over 300 chemicals and it is not known how all of these affect humans.

Many women report particular chocolate cravings when pre-menstrual. This is possibly because chocolate contains magnesium, a shortage of which can exacerbate pre-menstrual tension. Similar cravings during pregnancy could indicate mild anaemia, which chocolate's iron content may help to cure.


Err..not chocoltate but coffee beans !!...
SOURCE: BBC
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NASA's Mars rovers roll into martian winter
As winter approaches on Mars, NASA's Opportunity rover continues to inch deeper into the stadium-sized crater dubbed "Endurance." On the other side of the planet, the Spirit rover found an intriguing patch of rock outcrop while preparing to climb up the "Columbia Hills" backward. This unusual approach to driving is part of a creative plan to accommodate Spirit's aging front wheel.


A picture from Spirit. Credit: NASA/JPL
 
Spirit, with an odometer reading of over 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles), has already traveled six times its designed capacity. Its right front wheel has been experiencing increased internal resistance, and recent efforts to mitigate the problem by redistributing the wheel's lubricant through rest and heating have been only partially successful.


A new picture from Opportunity showing the floor of Endurance Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL
Opportunity will roll down even farther into the crater in the next few days to see if this trend continues. It also will investigate a row of sharp, teeth-like features dubbed "Razorback," which may have formed when fluid flowed through cracks, depositing hard minerals. Scientists hope the new data will help put together the pieces of Meridiani's mysterious and watery past. "Razorback may tell us more about the history of water at Endurance Crater," said Dr. Jack Farmer, a rover science-team member from Arizona State University, Tempe.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW









A Martian yesterday

   



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New martian meteorite found in Antarctica
NASA NEWS RELEASE
CREDIT: NASA


The new specimen was found by a field party from the U.S. Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) on Dec. 15, 2003, on an ice field in the Miller Range of the Transantarctic Mountains, roughly 750 km (466 miles) from the South Pole. This 715.2-gram (1.6-pound) black rock, officially designated MIL 03346, was one of 1358 meteorites collected by ANSMET during the 2003-2004 austral summer.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM




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Doughnut-shaped cloud has 'black hole' filling
NASA NEWS RELEASE
An international team of scientists has found more evidence that massive black holes are surrounded by a doughnut-shaped gas cloud which, depending on our line of sight, blocks the view of the black hole in the center.



An artist's concept shows a dark doughnut-shaped ring deep in the core of a galaxy encircles what appears to be a supermassive black hole. Credit: ESA
 


Using two European Space Agency orbiting observatories, INTEGRAL and XMM-Newton, scientists looked "edge on" into this doughnut, called a torus, to see features never before revealed in such clarity. They could infer the doughnut structure and distance from the black hole by virtue of light that was either reflected or completely absorbed. How the doughnut forms, however, remains a mystery.
Black holes are objects so dense and with gravity so strong that not even light can escape from them. Scientists say that "supermassive" black holes are located in the cores of most galaxies, including our Milky Way galaxy, and contain the mass of millions to billions of suns confined within a region no larger than our Solar System.

Supermassive black holes appear to be surrounded by a hot, thin disk of accreting gas and, farther out, the thick doughnut-shaped torus. Astronomers often view black holes that are aligned face-on or at a slight angle in relation to Earth, thus avoiding the dark, enshrouding torus to study the hot accretion disk.



An image of NGC 4388 in infrared wavelengths, captured by ground-based Subaru telescope. We see the entire galaxy. The black hole (and its accretion disk and doughnut ring) would be just a dot in the galaxy core. Seeing galaxies in all wavelengths -- that is, with radio, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes -- reveals the entire workings the galaxy, from star creation (birth) to black hole activity (death). Credit: NAOJ/Subaru


NGC 4261 is an elliptical galaxy, unlike NGC 4388, a spiral galaxy. However, both galaxies share a common bond -- that is, a supermassive black hole at their core. This Hubble Space Telescope image zooms into the galaxy center to reveal what appears to be a doughnut-shaped cloud around a bright core (an active black hole). Credit: NASA/HST/WFPC2

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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A day in the lives of galaxies

SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE
 
Credits: NASA, ESA, J. Blakeslee and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University

This link downloads a larger version of the above piccy but be warned, if you have a slow connection (I don't..so there nyahh nyahh nyahh !!) it might take a while (700k)http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hu/db/2004/21/images/a/formats/print.jpg

Like a photographer clicking random snapshots of a crowd of people, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken a view of an eclectic mix of galaxies. In taking this picture, Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys was not looking at any particular target. The camera was taking a picture of a typical patch of sky, while Hubble's infrared camera was viewing a target in an adjacent galaxy-rich region.

The jumble of galaxies in this image, taken in September 2003, includes a yellow spiral whose arms have been stretched by a possible collision [lower right]; a young, blue galaxy [top] bursting with star birth; and several smaller, red galaxies.

But the most peculiar-looking galaxy of the bunch -- the dramatic blue arc in the center of the photo -- is actually an optical illusion. The blue arc is an image of a distant galaxy that has been smeared into the odd shape by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. This "funhouse- mirror effect" occurs when light from a distant object is bent and stretched by the mass of an intervening object.

In this case the gravitational lens, or intervening object, is a red elliptical galaxy nearly 6 billion light-years from Earth. The red color suggests that the galaxy contains older, cooler stars.

The distant object whose image is smeared into the long blue arc is about 10 billion light-years away. This ancient galaxy existed just a few billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was about a quarter of its present age. The blue color indicates that the galaxy contains hot, young stars.

SOURCE SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Deep-Sea Cukes Can't Avoid the Weather: El Niño changes life 2.5 miles down
LOW LIFE. The sea cucumber Scotoplanes globosa, a species with appendages, lives miles below the ocean surface but grew more abundant after an El Niño and a La Niña.

That's the conclusion of a 14-year study of sea cucumbers, brittle stars, and other mobile bottom dwellers off the California coast, says Henry A. Ruhl of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. What links the top to the bottom is the fall of dead plankton and other debris that provides food in the depths, he and Kenneth L. Smith Jr., also of Scripps, say in the July 23 Science. They link changes in the abundance of certain species some 2.5 miles underwater to the El Niño and La Niña weather shifts between 1997 and 1999.

Marine scientists have discussed possible associations between year-by-year surface weather and deep-sea life. But "there are few actual examples in the modern ocean," comments Andrew Gooday of the Southampton Oceanography Center in England.

"There has been a paradigm shift," Gooday says. "If you go back 30 years, the idea was that the deep-ocean floor was very stable." In the 1970s, though, biologists found evidence that even creatures living at great depths reproduce in accord with the surface seasons. As evidence has appeared for longer-term changes in deep-sea communities, marine scientists have come to see the ocean floor "as a more dynamic environment," says Gooday.

SOURCE: SCIENCENEWS.ORG

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Cassini's rear-view image of Saturn's moon Titan released
CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE


A day after entering orbit around Saturn, Cassini sped silently past Titan, imaging the moon's south polar region. This natural color image represents Cassini's view only about two hours after closest approach to the moon.

 

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
The superimposed coordinate system grid in the accompanying image at right illustrates the geographical regions of the moon that are illuminated and visible, as well as the orientation of Titan -- lines of longitude converge on the South Pole above the center of the image. The yellow curve marks the position of the boundary between day and night on Titan.

Images taken through blue, green and red filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained using the Cassini spacecraft wide angle camera on July 2, 2004, from a distance of about 347,000 kilometers (216,000 miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase angle of 62 degrees. This view is an improvement in resolution of nearly a factor of four over the previously released natural color view of Titan (see PIA06081). The image scale is 21 kilometers (13 miles) per pixel.

Source: Spaceflightnow.com

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Stellar pair shot out from supernova birthplace
NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY NEWS RELEASE
Posted: July 28, 2004

Astronomers studying data from the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and other telescopes have concluded that a binary pair of stars forming an energetic microquasar was blasted out of the cluster in which it was born by a supernova explosion some 1.7 million years ago. This is the first time that a fast-moving stellar pair has been tracked back to a specific star cluster.




The microquasar, circled in red, and stars of the cluster (yellow) in visible-light image. Green arrow indicates microquasar's motion in sky and yellow arrow indicates star cluster's motion. Red arrow indicates microquasar's motion relative to (away from) star cluster. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF


The scientists analyzed numerous observations of a microquasar called LSI +61 303, and concluded that it is moving away from a star cluster named IC 1805 at nearly 17 miles per second.

A microquasar is a pair of stars, one of which is either a dense neutron star or a black hole, in which material sucked from a "normal" star forms a rapidly-rotating disk around the denser object. The disk becomes so hot it emits X-rays, and also spits out "jets" of subatomic particles at nearly the speed of light.


SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM


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Titan's purple covering points to a fuzzy past

CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE


Encircled in purple stratospheric haze, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, appears as a softly glowing sphere in this colorized image taken on July 3, 2004, one day after Cassini's first flyby of that moon. Titan has a dense atmosphere composed primarily of nitrogen with a few percent methane. The atmosphere can undergo photochemical processes to form hazes.

 

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Images like this one reveal some of the key steps in the formation and evolution of Titan's haze. The process is thought to begin in the high atmosphere, at altitudes above 400 kilometers (250 miles), where ultraviolet light breaks down methane and nitrogen molecules. The products are believed to react to form more complex organic molecules containing carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen that can combine to form the very small particles seen as haze.

This ultraviolet view of Titan has been falsely colored. The main body is colored pale orange as seen in true color images. Above the orange disc are two distinct layers of atmospheric haze that have been brightened and falsely colored violet to enhance their visibility. It is not currently understood why there are two separate haze layers. This and other questions await answers as the four-year Cassini tour continues, with many more planned flybys of Titan. The upcoming October 2004 flyby of Titan will be 30 times closer than that of July 2.

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.com


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Terra spacecraft snaps image of Hurricane Alex
NASA PHOTO RELEASE

NASA's Terra satellite captured this true-color image of Hurricane Alex, the first Atlantic hurricane of the season, at noon EDT on Tuesday, August 3. Around that time, the Category 2 storm was pounding North Carolina's Outer Banks with winds of up to 100 miles an hour. It's expected to eventually turn east and head out to sea.

The resolution on this photo, from Terra's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), is 2 kilometers per pixel

LINK TO A MUCH LARGER PICTURE http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/63308main_image_feature_201_jwfull.jpg

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Gamma-ray burst was a new type of cosmic explosion
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY NEWS RELEASE

Astronomers have identified a new class of cosmic explosions that are more powerful than supernovae but considerably weaker than most gamma-ray bursts. The discovery strongly suggests a continuum between the two previously-known classes of explosions.

 

This illustration describes a model for a gamma ray burst, like the one detected by Integral on December 3. A jet of high-energy particles from a rapidly rotating black hole interacts with surrounding matter. Credit: CXC/M. Weiss
Although the burst was the closest gamma-ray burst to Earth ever studied (all the others have been several billion light-years away), researchers noticed that the explosion was extremely faint--releasing only about one-thousandth of the gamma rays of a typical gamma-ray burst. However, the burst was also much brighter than supernovae explosions, which led to the conclusion that a new type of explosion had been found.

Both supernovae and the rare but brilliant gamma-ray bursts are cosmic explosions marking the deaths of massive stars. Astronomers have long wondered what causes the seemingly dramatic differences between these events. The question of how stars die is currently a major focus of stellar research, and is particularly directed toward the energetic explosions that destroy a star in one cataclysmic event.



SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Atlantic ridge reveals underwater wonders

  SOURCE:NewScientist.com news service



Caught at a depth of 1.7 km, this bright red squid is thought to be new to science (Image: Richard Young)
Scientists studying the submerged peak of the mid-Atlantic ridge believe they have found several new species of fish and squid.
The first extensive scientific expedition to collect specimens and analyse the depths along the ridge, the MAR-ECO study, has also revealed the first evidence of spinning plankton blooms as well as a set of mysterious oceanic tracks.

Shallow depths


Other possible discoveries include a new species of anglerfish, a bulbous-shaped fish found in a shallower region than other anglerfish, at a depth of about 1 km. Several apparently new species of Ophidiiformes, a common deep sea fish with a long thin tail, were also found.
The scientists studying the ridge have so far collected some 80,000 different specimens during extensive trawls. They believe they may have uncovered between 45 and 50 new species in all, but further analysis is needed to confirm this.

A puzzling set of tracks, resembling burrows were found at a depth of 2000 metres (Image: MAR-ECO)

Straight tracks


Another remarkable discovery, made using echo sounders aboard one vessel, was of colossal spinning ring-like plankton structures. At least four clearly defined rings of interacting planktonic organisms were found. The structures are interesting because of the key role plankton plays in sustaining marine life.

At a depth of 2000 metres, along the seabed that marks the peak of the ridge on the seamount north of the Azores, the researchers also discovered a puzzling set of straight tracks, resembling burrows roughly 5 cm apart. They confess to having no idea how and by what the tracks were made.










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Spitzer shows dying star that goes out with a ring

NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE

A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the shimmering embers of a dying star, and in their midst a mysterious doughnut-shaped ring.

"Spitzer's infrared vision has revealed what could not be seen before - a massive ring of material that was expelled from the dying star," said Dr. Joseph Hora, a Spitzer scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. "The composition of the ring and how it formed are mysteries we hope to address with further Spitzer studies."




Credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
These cosmic beauties last a relatively brief time, about a few thousand years, in the approximately 10-billion-year lifetime of a star. The name "planetary nebula" came from early astronomers who thought the rounded clouds looked like planets.:

SOURCE: (as if you didn't know by now)..SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Lighting the Way for Water: New strategy for steering drops with finesse

Alexandra Goho

Several years ago, a team of researchers in Japan used a beam of light to move drops of oil around on a surface. They could not do the same thing with water drops, however. Now, with inspiration from lotus leaves, a second team has succeeded in manipulating water with a beam of ultraviolet light. That could open new routes for controlling biochemical reactions, the scientists say.



PHOTO SWITCH. Ultraviolet light can move a water drop along a rough photosensitive surface (left), whereas a drop on a smooth photosensitive surface (right) stays put and spreads out.
R. Rosario


The difficulty of moving drops of water with light stems from the way water molecules interact with surfaces. In previous experiments, Antonio Garcia and his colleagues at Arizona State University in Tempe tried to sidestep that challenge by manipulating the drops on very smooth surfaces. Yet, while the front end of the drop would move toward the light, the back end would stick to the surface.
The new water-controlling tactic could improve microfluidic chips that many researchers are designing for applications ranging from medical diagnostics to environmental monitoring. In such devices, microscopic valves and pumps direct tiny amounts of fluid through specified channels and into specific microchambers

SOURCE: SCIENCENEWS.ORG

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Savvy Sieve: Carbon nanotubes filter petroleum, polluted water
Alexandra Goho

Bridging the gap between the nanoworld and the macroworld, researchers have created a membrane out of carbon nanotubes and demonstrated its potential for filtering petroleum and treating contaminated drinking water.

Scientists have long valued carbon nanotubes for their high strength and thermal properties yet it's been a challenge to assemble nanotubes into useful materials large enough for people to hold in their hands.



CLEAR PASSAGE. The wall of this tube-shaped filter is made of a single layer of densely packed carbon nanotubes.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, have now devised a method for making such large-scale structures and found an application for them.

The researchers injected a solution of benzene and ferrocene—the materials needed to assemble the carbon nanotubes—into a stream of argon gas and then sprayed the mixture into a quartz tube. The tube was located inside a furnace heated to 900°C.

A dense forest of carbon nanotubes formed on the inner walls of the quartz tube, yielding a hollow black cylinder. The researchers carefully removed the cylinder, which measured several centimeters long and up to a centimeter in diameter. It was composed of trillions of nanotubes. Each nanotube was only a few hundred microns long, essentially the thickness of the carbon cylinder's wall.

SOURCE:SCIENCNEWS.ORG

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Disk shows signs of planets
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII NEWS RELEASE


The sharpest image ever taken of a dust disk around another star has revealed structures in the disk which are signs of unseen planets.



Dust grains orbiting the star AU Mic. The light from the star itself has been been removed from the center of this image, which was obtained with the Keck Telescope on Mauna Kea. Irregularities in the shape of the disk indicate the presence of unseen planets in orbit around the star. The image is 100 Astronomical Units wide (9.3 billion miles), about the size of our solar system. Image Credit: M. Liu, IfA-Hawaii/Keck Observatory

SOURCE: SPACEFLIGHTNOW.COM

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Out from the shadows: Two new Saturnian moons
CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE


With eyes sharper than any that have peered at Saturn before, the Cassini spacecraft has uncovered two moons, which may be the smallest bodies so far seen around the ringed planet.




This image shows the tiny 'worldlet,' temporarily dubbed S/2004 S1, as it makes its way around the planet. A white box frames the moon's location in the image. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The moons are approximately 3 kilometers (2 miles) and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) across -- smaller than the city of Boulder, Colorado. The moons, located 194,000 kilometers (120,000 miles) and 211,000 kilometers (131,000 miles) from the planet's center, are between the orbits of two other saturnian moons, Mimas and Enceladus.

Source: Spaceflightnow.com

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« Last Edit: 18/08/2004 23:24:41 by neilep »
 

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How old is the Milky Way?
EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY NEWS RELEASE


Observations by an international team of astronomers with the UVES spectrometer on ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory have thrown new light on the earliest epoch of the Milky Way galaxy.



This ESO image shows the globular cluster NGC 6397, located at a distance of approx. 7,200 light-years in the southern constellation Ara. It has undergone a "core collapse" and the central area is very dense. Credit: ESO

The first-ever measurement of the Beryllium content in two stars in a globular cluster (NGC 6397) - pushing current astronomical technology towards the limit - has made it possible to study the early phase between the formation of the first generation of stars in the Milky Way and that of this stellar cluster. This time interval was found to amount to 200 - 300 million years.


The age of the stars in NGC 6397, as determined by means of stellar evolution models, is 13,400 +/- 800 million years. Adding the two time intervals gives the age of the Milky Way, 13,600 +/- 800 million years.

The currently best estimate of the age of the Universe, as deduced, e.g., from measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background, is 13,700 million years. The new observations thus indicate that the first generation of stars in the Milky Way galaxy formed soon after the end of the ~200 million-year long "Dark Ages" that succeeded the Big Bang.

The age of the Milky Way

How old is the Milky Way ? When did the first stars in our galaxy ignite ?

A proper understanding of the formation and evolution of the Milky Way system is crucial for our knowledge of the Universe. Nevertheless, the related observations are among the most difficult ones, even with the most powerful telescopes available, as they involve a detailed study of old, remote and mostly faint celestial objects.

Source: Saceflightnow.com

Full story: http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0408/17milkyway/




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Latest colour pictures from Cassini look like artwork
CASSINI PHOTO RELEASE

NASA has released three new stunning color pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft exploring the planet Saturn. The images show the giant planet, its golden rings and several moons.



FIRST IMAGE: Saturn's atmosphere is prominently shown with the rings emerging from behind the planet at upper right. The two moons on the left of the image are Mimas and Enceladus.

This image was taken on August 8, 2004, with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera in red, green, and blue filters. This image was taken 8.5 million kilometers (5.3 million miles) from Saturn. Contrast has been enhanced to aid visibility.


SECOND IMAGE: Saturn's rings appear golden as the planet's shadow drapes across nearly the whole span of the rings. In the upper left corner is Saturn's moon Mimas.

This color image was taken on August 15, 2004, with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera, using the red, green, and blue filters. The image was taken 8.8 million kilometers (5.5 million miles) from Saturn. Contrast has been enhanced to aid visibility




THIRD IMAGE: Saturn and its rings are prominently shown in this color image, along with three of Saturn's smaller moons. From left to right, they are Prometheus, Pandora and Janus.

Prometheus and Pandora are often called the "F ring shepherds" as they control and interact with Saturn's interesting F ring, seen between them.

This image was taken on June 18, 2004, with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera 8.2 million kilometers (5.1 million miles) from Saturn. It was created using the red, green, and blue filters. Contrast has been enhanced to aid visibility.


Links to larger pictures:
1 http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA06423.jpg
2 http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA06424.jpg
3 http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA06422.jpg

Source : Spaceflightnow.com

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Virtual veins give nurses a hand
By Jo Twist
BBC News Online science and technology staff  

A virtual reality hand, complete with vital veins, that "feels" could help trainee nurses practise their jabs.
The tactile 3D virtual reality system uses force feedback technology that is usually found in video game controllers, known as haptics.

It could help in learning sensitive venopuncture skills on a variety of hand types, instead of plastic models.

The system, developed by UK Haptics, is still at an early stage, but could be used for training nurses next year.
Haptics is the term for physical sensors that provide a sense of touch at skin level and force feedback information from muscles and joints.  



The hand has realistic and complex vein structures

Nurses sit in front of a PC wearing 3D goggles. A mirror in front of them lets them see the projected hand image in 3D too.
All the nurse has to do is sit in front of the machine and stick the cannula, which they see as a syringe, into the hand.
The system feeds back information about pressure, and blood appears to fill the syringe when the vein has been punctured.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS

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Offline bezoar

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They didn't have that kind of technology back in the Dark Ages when I was in school.  We just got the real thing to practice on.
 

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Deepest image of exploded star uncovers bipolar jets
NASA NEWS RELEASE
A spectacular new image of Cassiopeia A released today from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has nearly 200 times more data than the "First Light" Chandra image of this object made five years ago. The new image reveals clues that the initial explosion, caused by the collapse of a massive star, was far more complicated than suspected.




This spectacular image of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A is the most detailed image ever made of the remains of an exploded star. The one million second image shows a bright outer ring (green) ten light years in diameter that marks the location of a shock wave generated by the supernova explosion. A large jet-like structure that protrudes beyond the shock wave can be seen in the upper left. In this image, the colors represent different ranges of X-rays with red, green, and blue representing, low, medium, and higher X-ray energies. Credit: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang et al.

Source: Spaceflightnow.com



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