My first surrealistic attempt. I would love a critic.
The Irony of Appreciating Natural Beauty While Doing 85 On I-71 N
Nanosponges “Soak Up” Toxins
Che-Ming Hu, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Diego and fellow researchers have fabricated tiny sponges out of red blood cells and a spherical core of a lactic acid byproduct. Sponges injected into the bloodstream of mice were successful in neutralizing MRSA toxins.
Cross section of nanosponge that may be able to protect against infections and venoms Image: Zhang Research Lab
NASA Announces the Discovery of the Most Interesting Planetary System Outside Our Own
Meet Kepler 62, a system of five planets circling a red star, 1,200 light years away.
by Alexis C. Madrigal
The Kepler Space Telescope has been in orbit looking for planets around other stars since 2009, and it’s started to find some startlingly interesting solar systems out there.
Today, the Kepler team announced the discovery of star system Kepler 62, a group of five planets circling a red star, two of which may be capable of supporting life. That doubles the number of Earth-like planets in the habitable zone that Kepler has confirmed in the cosmos. And they’re the smallest, and therefore closest to Earth size, that astronomers have detected. The system is 1,200 light years away…
(read more: TheAtlantic) (images: NASA)
Do Chimpanzees Know What Their Conspecifics Know?
Hare et al, 2001 [PDF]
Abstract: We conducted three experiments on social problem solving by chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes. In each experiment a subordinate and a dominant individual competed for food, which was placed in various ways on the subordinate’s side of two opaque barriers. In some conditions dominants had not seen the food hidden, or food they had seen hidden was moved elsewhere when they were not watching (whereas in control conditions they saw the food being hidden or moved). At the same time, subordinates always saw the entire baiting procedure and could monitor the visual access of their dominant competitor as well. If subordinates were sensitive to what dominants did or did not see during baiting, they should have preferentially approached and retrieved the food that dominants had not seen hidden or moved. This is what they did in experiment 1 when dominants were either uninformed or misinformed about the food’s location. In experiment 2 subordinates recognized, and adjusted their behaviour accordingly, when the dominant individual who witnessed the hiding was replaced with another dominant individual who had not witnessed it, thus demonstrating their ability to keep track of precisely who has witnessed what. In experiment 3 subordinates did not choose consistently between two pieces of hidden food, one of which dominants had seen hidden and one of which they had not seen hidden. However, their failure in this experiment was likely to be due to the changed nature of the competition under these circumstances and not to a failure of social-cognitive skills. These findings suggest that at least in some situations (i.e. competition with conspecifics) chimpanzees know what conspecifics have and have not seen (do and do not know), and that they use this information to devise effective social-cognitive strategies.
Remnants of supernova explosion found in ancient magnetotactic bacteria
by John Hewitt
Back in 2004, German scientists discovered traces of supernova ejecta that had been deposited in the deep-sea ferromanganese crust of the pacific ocean. They dated the supernova event to 2.8 million years ago (Mya), using estimates from the decay of iron-60 radioisotope. They were also able to estimate the distance of the supernova event to 10 parsecs (pc) from our sun, based on the amount of iron-60 deposited.
At the April 14th meeting of the American Physical Society, a Canadian scientist, Shawn Bishop, reported finding traces of iron-60 of supernova origin in the fossilized remains of a common bacteria. By accurately dating the sediment cores in which the samples were found, Bishop appears to have discovered the first biological signature of an ancient supernova event, and may even be able to link it to a specific exploding star…
(read more: PhysOrg)
(image: NASA/ESA/JHU/R.Sankrit & W.Blair)
Azurite owes its name to its beautiful azure-blue color, which makes it a very popular and well-known mineral. It usually occurs with green Malachite, which may form green stains or specks on Azurite crystals or aggregates. The two minerals sometimes occur admixed or banded together, forming what is called “Azure-malachite” in the gem and mineral trades.
Scientists work on fusion rocket for Mars
NBC News: Researchers at the University of Washington say they’ve built all the pieces for a fusion-powered rocket system that could get a crew to Mars in 30 days.
“If we can pull off a fusion demonstration in a year, with hundreds of thousands of dollars … there might be a better, cheaper, faster path to using fusion in other applications,” John Slough, a research assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, told NBC News. …
Timetables for the advent of fusion energy applications have repeatedly shifted to the right, reviving the old joke that the dawn of the fusion age will always be 30 years away.
Photo: An artist’s conception shows a spacecraft powered by a fusion-driven rocket. (UW / MSNW)
According to popular knowledge, venomous snakes are in the minority. Most kill their prey through other means. The pythons and boas, for example, squeeze their prey to death, constricting them in powerful coils until they can no longer breathe.
But that doesn’t mean they lack venom.
The ‘venom’ glands of these constrictors mostly produce lubricating mucus, which helps the snakes to swallow prey easily. But Bryan Fry from the University of Queensland has found that the glands still produce small amounts of venom proteins. So do the equivalent glands of iguanian lizards—the group that includes iguanas, anoles and chameleons.
These snakes and lizards are unlikely to be using their venom to subdue prey or to defend themselves, but they clearly still make the stuff. Their toxins are the equivalent of a kiwi’s wing or the sightless eyes of blind cavefish—defunct remnants of a functional past…
(read more: National Geo - Not Exactly Rocket Science)
(photo: Black-headed python, by Djambalawa)