Carl Sagan / talking about the human brain...
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THE STAR TREK FAMILY...
In his impertinence benevolence is learned in his presence, it is only that I believe this sound and words should be our life anthem.
The Prophet Robert Nesta Marley / Natural mystic
Rastafari one love...
Is it that simple, if your people are on your shoulder where are they...
Physicists Break Color Barrier for Sending, Receiving Photons
(Oct. 2, 2010) — University of Oregon scientists have invented a method to change the color of single photons in a fiber optic cable. The laser-tweaked feat could be a quantum step forward for transferring and receiving high volumes of secured data for future generations of the Internet.
The proof-of-concept experiment is reported in a paper about work led by UO physicist Michael G. Raymer that appeared in the Aug. 27 issue of Physical Review Letters.
In a separate paper also published by the same journal on Sep. 15, Raymer and collaborators at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom tell how they added hydrogen and a short laser burst to a hollow "photonic crystal" fiber cable to create multiple colors, or wavelengths, of light. This paper, Raymer said, provides groundwork for future research in creating ultra-short light pulses.
The single-photon project, in which a dual-color burst of laser light was used to change the color of a separate single photon of light, is directly applicable to future Internet communications technology, said Raymer, the UO's Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and author of a newly published textbook "The Silicon Web: The Physics Behind the Internet."
In the computing world, digital data now is contained as individual bits represented by many electrons and is transmitted using pulses of infrared light containing many photons. In quantum computing -- a futuristic technology -- data might be stored in individual electrons and photons. Such quantum techniques could make data 100-percent secure from hackers and expand the ability to search large databases, Raymer said.
"There is a need for more bandwidth, or data rate, in fiber optic networks," he said. "In today's fiber optic lines one frequency of light may carry a phone conversation, while others may carry TV channels or emails, all traveling in separate channels across the Internet. At the level of single photons, we would like to send data in different channels -- colors or wavelengths -- at the same time. Quantum memories based on electrons emit and absorb visible light -- for example, red," he said. "But the optical fibers we want to use -- such as those in the ground now -- are optimized to transmit infrared, not visible light."
In experiments led by Raymer's doctoral student Hayden J. McGuinness, researchers used two lasers to create an intense burst of dual-color light, which when focused into the same optical fiber carrying a single photon of a distinct color, causes that photon to change to a new color. This occurs through a process known as Bragg scattering, whereby a small amount of energy is exchanged between the laser light and the single photon, causing its color to change.
This process, demonstrated in the UO's Oregon Center for Optics, is called quantum frequency translation. It allows devices that talk to one another using a given color of light to communicate with devices that use a different color.
The research was stimulated by work done earlier by Raymer's collaborators: Colin McKinstrie at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs and Stojan Radic at the University of California, San Diego.
"Other researchers have done this frequency translation using certain types of crystals," Raymer said. "Using optical fibers instead creates the translated photons already having the proper shape that allows them to be transmitted in a communication fiber. Another big advantage of our technique is that it allows us to change the frequency of a single photon by any chosen amount. The objective is to convert a single photon from the color that a common quantum memory will deal with into an infrared photon that communication fibers can transmit. At the other end, it has to be converted back into the original color to go into the receiving memory to be read properly."
The second paper published by Raymer's group focused on theoretical and experimental work at UO and at the University of Bath. It showed how to create an optical frequency comb in a hydrogen-filled optical fiber.
The optical frequency comb contains many precisely known colors or wavelengths of light, and can be used to measure the wavelength of light, much as a ruler with many tick marks can be used to measure distance.
The comb method was co-developed by John Hall of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005 for his work that led to the standard for measuring light frequencies.
By filling empty air holes in a hollow optical with hydrogen gas, researchers were able to change the color, or frequency, of light passing through. As a short burst of red laser passed through the gas, the hydrogen molecules were caused to vibrate, emitting strong light of many colors.
"In the first study, we worked with one photon at a time with two laser bursts to change the energy and color without using hydrogen molecules," he said. "In the second study, we took advantage of vibrating molecules inside the fiber interacting with different light beams. This is a way of using one strong laser of a particular color and producing many colors, from blue to green to yellow to red to infrared."
The laser pulse used was 200 picoseconds long. A picosecond is one-trillionth of a second. Combining the produced light colors in such a fiber could create pulses 200,000 times shorter -- a femtosecond (one quadrillionth of a second).
Such time scales could open the way to study biological processes at the level of atoms or possibly capture so-far-unseen activity in photosynthesis, Raymer said.
Co-authors with McGuinness and Raymer on the single-photon paper were McKinstrie and Radic. The National Science Foundation funded the project.
For the optical comb work, Raymer teamed with UO student doctoral Chunbai Wu and Y.Y. Wang, F. Couny and Fetah Benabid, all of the University of Bath. The NSF and the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council supported the research through grants to Raymer and Benabid, respectively.
This recent legislation is a certain move towards the sort of engineering standards that will be necessary for starship operation.
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Microfluidic Devices Advance 3-D Tissue Engineering
(Oct. 9, 2010) — A research team, co-headed by Dr. Woo Lee and Dr. Hongjun Wang of Stevens Institute of Technology, has published a paper describing a new method that generates three-dimensional (3D) tissue models for studying bacterial infection of orthopedic implants. Dr. Joung-Hyun Lee of Stevens, and Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan of the New Jersey Dental School, are co-authors of the research. Their paper, appearing in the journal Tissue Engineering, demonstrates a physiologically relevant approach for studying infection prevention strategies and emulating antibiotic delivery using 3D bone tissues cultured in microfluidic devices.
With over 1 million hip and knee replacement procedures being performed in the United States every year, orthopedic implants have become relatively common. Despite advances in implant design, hospitals have been unable to address bacterial infection, the leading cause of failure in orthopedic implants. A significant barrier to successfully developing infection-fighting drugs or biomaterials has been the inadequacy of laboratory equipment to create clinically relevant environment with traditional in vitro methods.
The researchers seeded 0.02 mL microfluidic channels with osteoblasts and inoculated the channels with Staphylococcus epidermis bacteria, a common pathogen in orthopedic infections. Nutrient solutions were pumped through the channels at a concentration and flow rate mimicking conditions within the human body. Bone tissue cells and bacteria within the channels were imaged with a microscope and effluent was analyzed for bacteria count.
Microfluidic devices, together with finely-tuned dynamic flow settings, have the potential to provide realistic bone tissue models in clinical scenarios. As opposed to the static 2D Petri dish surfaces, microfluidic channels present a realistic environment for cells to grow and adhere in three dimensions. Dynamic fluid motion through the channels -- with solutions potentially carrying antibiotics or other novel drugs -- further mimics real-world conditions previously unrealizable in a lab setting.
The research team used background in microfabrication to discover the conditions for growing bone tissues in the microfluidic device channels while integrating capabilities in the laboratories of Lee, Wang, and Kaplan. This research was sponsored the Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Also, Dr. Lee and Dr. Wang are principal investigators on a new grant from the NSF Biomaterials program, awarded earlier this year. In this new project, they plan to use the newly developed 3D tissue model to evaluate the efficacy of inkjet-printed infection-preventing biomaterials.
The researchers' published paper is a preliminary demonstration of dynamic microfluidic cell cultures and work continues in the lab to establish successful applications of the technology and processes.
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Can You Analyze Me Now? Cell Phones Bring Spectroscopy to the Classroom
(Oct. 8, 2010) — University of Illinois chemistry professor Alexander Scheeline wants to see high school students using their cell phones in class. Not for texting or surfing the Web, but as an analytical chemistry instrument.
Scheeline developed a method using a few basic, inexpensive supplies and a digital camera to build a spectrometer, an important basic chemistry instrument. Spectrophotometry is one of the most widely used means for identifying and quantifying materials in both physical and biological sciences.
"If we want to measure the amount of protein in meat, or water in grain, or iron in blood, it's done by spectrophotometry," Scheeline said.
Many schools have a very limited budget for instruments and supplies, making spectrometers cost-prohibitive for science classrooms. Even when a device is available, students fail to learn the analytical chemistry principles inherent in the instrument because most commercially available devices are enclosed boxes. Students simply insert samples and record the numbers the box outputs without learning the context or thinking critically about the process.
"Science is basically about using your senses to see things -- it's just that we've got so much technology that now it's all hidden," Scheeline said.
"The student gets the impression that a measurement is something that goes on inside a box and it's completely inaccessible, not understandable -- the purview of expert engineers," he said. "That's not what you want them to learn. In order to get across the idea, 'I can do it, and I can see it, and I can understand it,' they've go to build the instrument themselves. "
So Scheeline set out to build a basic spectrometer that was not only simple and inexpensive but also open so that students could see its workings and play with its components, encouraging critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. It wouldn't have to be the most sensitive or accurate instrument -- in fact, he hoped that obvious shortcomings of the device would reinforce students' understanding of its workings.
"If you're trying to teach someone an instrument's limitations, it's a lot easier to teach them when they're blatant than when they're subtle. Everything goes wrong out in the open," he said.
In a spectrometer, white light shines through a sample solution. The solution absorbs certain wavelengths of light. A diffraction grating then spreads the light into its color spectrum like a prism. Analyzing that spectrum can tell chemists about the properties of the sample.
For a light source, Scheeline used a single light-emitting diode (LED) powered by a 3-volt battery, the kind used in key fobs to remotely unlock a car. Diffraction gratings and cuvettes, the small, clear repositories to hold sample solutions, are readily available from scientific supply companies for a few cents each. The entire setup cost less than $3. The limiting factor seemed to be in the light sensor, or photodetector, to capture the spectrum for analysis.
"All of a sudden this light bulb went off in my head: a photodetector that everybody already has! Almost everybody has a cell phone, and almost all phones have a camera," Scheeline said. "I realized, if you can get the picture into the computer, it's only software that keeps you from building a cheap spectrophotometer."
To remove that obstacle, he wrote a software program to analyze spectra captured in JPEG photo files and made it freely accessible online, along with its source code and instructions to students and teachers for assembling and using the cell-phone spectrometer. It can be accessed through the Analytical Sciences Digital Library.
Scheeline has used his cell-phone spectrometers in several classroom settings. His first classroom trial was with students in Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of a 2009 exchange teaching program Scheeline and several other U. of I. chemistry professors participated in. Although the students had no prior instrumentation experience, they greeted the cell-phone spectrometers with enthusiasm.
In the United States, Scheeline used cell-phone spectrometers in an Atlanta high school science program in the summers of 2009 and 2010. By the end of the 45-minute class, Scheeline was delighted to find students grasping chemistry concepts that seemed to elude students in similar programs using only textbooks. For example, one student inquired about the camera's sensitivity to light in the room and how that might affect its ability to read the spectrum.
"And I said, 'You've discovered a problem inherent in all spectrometers: stray light.' I have been struggling ever since I started teaching to get across to university students the concept of stray light and what a problem it is, and here was a high school kid who picked it right up because it was in front of her face!" Scheeline said.
Scheeline has also shared his low-cost instrument with those most likely to benefit: high school teachers. Teachers participating in the U. of I. EnLiST program, a two-week summer workshop for high school chemistry and physics teachers in Illinois, built and played with cell-phone spectrometers during the 2009 and 2010 sessions. Those teachers now bring their experience -- and assembly instructions -- to their classrooms.
Scheeline wrote a detailed account of the cell-phone spectrometer and its potential for chemistry education in an article published in the journal Applied Spectroscopy. He hopes that the free availability of the educational modules and software source code will inspire programmers to develop smart-phone applications so that the analyses can be performed in-phone, eliminating the need to transfer photo files to a computer and turning cell phones into invaluable classroom tools.
"The potential is here to make analytical chemistry a subject for the masses rather than something that is only done by specialists," Scheeline said. "There's no doubt that getting the cost of equipment down to the point where more people can afford them in the education system is a boon for everybody."
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Clearly ion absorbtion from horizon paths plays a significant role with the developing knowledge of space avionics. My own research regarding multi micro gravity and broad band gravity has taught me a lot about what we need to learn before deep space maneuvers.
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This recent legislation shows the progression towards newer fatigue type syndromes that will soon be 'bog' standard. Muslim praying techniques could be a significant training preparation for multi tasking orbit reconnaiscence.
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Personal Genetic Profiling Services Lack Evidence for Claims
(Oct. 12, 2010) — Direct-to-consumer personal genetic profiling services that claim to predict people's health risks by analysing their DNA are often inconclusive and companies that sell them should provide better information about the evidence on which the results are based, says the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, in a new report on the ethics of so-called personalised healthcare services.
The report says that claims that these services are leading to a new era of 'personalised healthcare' are overstated and should be treated with caution. The Council recommends that regulators of these services and advertising regulators should request evidence to back up the claims made by companies.
The services are marketed to healthy people as a way of finding out their risk of developing serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and some cancers. But people taking the tests are faced with complicated risk data in their results and may experience undue anxiety, or be falsely reassured, says the Council.
Professor Christopher Hood, chair of the Working Party that produced the report, said: "Commercial genetic profiling services may seem to be providing more choice to consumers, but the test results can be unreliable and difficult to interpret and they are often offered to people with little or no genetic counselling or support."
"People should be aware that other than prompting obvious healthy lifestyle choices such as taking more exercise, eating a balanced diet and reducing alcohol consumption, the tests are unlikely to inform them of any specific disease risks that can be significantly changed by their behaviour," added Professor Hood.
Currently there is no overarching system of regulation for personal genetic profiling. The tests are mainly provided by companies based in the US, and they can cost up to US $2,000. During its inquiry, the Council wrote to providers of genetic profiling services to try to find out how many people are currently using them, but the companies were not willing to share this information.
The Council recommends that genetic profiling companies should provide more information about their services to consumers before they buy, such as their limitations, the fact that the results may require interpretation by a doctor or geneticist, and which other third parties may have access to the data arising from the test. Government-run health websites should provide information about the risks and benefits associated with personal genetic profiling services, including whether or not it could be necessary for people to inform insurance companies of the results.
Professor Nikolas Rose, one of the authors of the report, said: "Genetic profiling services come with the promise that people will be able to take more responsibility for their health -- but it is not clear what that responsibility would imply."
"You may feel a responsibility to change your lifestyle on the basis of your results, without the help of a doctor to interpret the ambiguous risk statistics. You may feel a responsibility to inform family members, insurers or potential employers of your risks, even though you may never develop the conditions in question," added Professor Rose.
To make these recommendations, the Working Party weighed up whether the need to reduce harm was strong enough to propose interventions that compromised people's freedom to pursue their own interests.
The report also considers another so-called personalised healthcare service -- direct-to-consumer CT, MRI and ultrasound body scans as a form of 'health check-up' for people without pre-existing symptoms, a service which some companies offer at a cost of more than £1,000.
CT scans carry serious physical risks from the radiation involved, especially if whole body scans are used, and carried out on repeated occasions.
The Council says that the commercial sale of whole body CT scans as a health check for people without prior symptoms of illness should be banned, as any potential benefits do not justify the potential harms caused by the radiation. It also suggests that companies offering scans as part of a health check should be regulated to ensure they are meeting standards of quality and safety.
The Council recommends that doctors should receive specific training on giving advice to patients about direct-to-consumer genetic profiling and body imaging services, and about making referral decisions on the basis of these tests.
"It would be unfair for people to be referred unnecessarily for specialist treatment on the NHS as a result of their genetic profiling or body imaging service that they have purchased, ahead of others who have not done so, or don't have the means to. On the other hand, it would be unfair for a publicly-funded healthcare system to turn away people who are worried about their health as a result of a privately bought service. This raises a difficult dilemma, and doctors therefore must be supported in advising patients about, the limitations of the tests and any lifestyle changes that are being considered," said Professor Rose.
President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden take part in the White House Summit on Community Colleges 5th october 2010, highlighting the critical role that community colleges play in developing America’s workforce and reaching our educational goals picture]
President Barack Obama signs the Reducing Over Classification Bill in the Oval Office. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., stands behind the President. October 7, 2010 picture]
Obviously around the world boys and girls have foggy approaches to classroom work, many still dazed by their sleeping patterns at home, for some people, people like me who ache and are desperate for science and space research still want to see a ''starfleet academy'' funded and planetarily constituted, to give us a home, for many of us a home away from home or what we feel is our home, someplace among the stars, truelly just to be closer among them brings comfort and for children of our world who feel different or peculiar home where intelligence is encouraged to be individual for it's true essence, this place would be warm to teachers who themselves are taught by the children who everyday unravel their own sense of intelligence, a place where children teach mathematics to teachers who themselves learn the rudiments of the childs intellectual profile, where the teacher is fully capable of perceiving the childs journey into philosophy and artistic accomplishment is the classroom syllabus structure based upon the search for the advancement of mathematic principles scholarly flowing from the ''pupils''.
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The importance of our creed is to protect our evolution as it is and for what it is as it's pacifist status and it's easy adaptive pacifist standard, all life that does not seek to destroy us is a wonderous prospect for our journey during life, many will be vital to our survival...
Carl Sagan / Evolution
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Good luck jeff, thats some terrific work you're doing there...
The management ability and constitutional profiling that President Barack Obama has implemented is of obvious strategic acknowledgement standing as affirmation that his corporate profiling into community ambition ladders really do show the way in modern world politics, his recent signing of the bonus depreciation bill ensures that American science will be able to come out of the dull drums of university blocked funding laboratories and into the American mainstream fledgling business corriculem. NASA will certainly advance significantly while considering all the very reasonable priced science that will now be stimulated from classroom to new business entrepeneurship capabilities for low earth orbit and atmospheric science space research rudiments totalling many billions of pounds becoming available for strener more proped appropriated platforms that will now be easily economically viable in deeper space module science programmes. Caution to new business for it is mastered by those who favour sensibility and that responsibility really is the presidents and his personal opinion of how he decides to nurture americans into space with stable knowledge of a working class agile complex.
Bonus depreciation bill passed by US government
The US general aviation industry has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the passing of the bonus depreciation bill that will allow for accelerated depreciation of business aircraft.
The Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010 contains a provision to allow bonus depreciation on equipment purchases this year, including general aviation aircraft, engines and avionics.
Aircraft purchased before the end of this year must be placed into service by the end of next year to qualify for bonus depreciation, which permits a business to accelerate 50% of the depreciable value of a capital investment in the first year instead of spreading it out over five years.
Bonus depreciation has boosted aircraft sales in previous years and is expected to do so this year.
"As the one tax provision we asked Congress to pass to help offset the decline in sales due to the recession, we are optimistic that the small business law will help to re-energise America's general aviation production lines and bring back lost jobs," says Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
RELEASE : 10-255
NASA Administrator Thanks President Obama and Congress for Agency’s New Direction Support
WASHINGTON --The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in support of President Obama's signing of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 on Monday, Oct. 11, 2010:
“Earlier today, President Obama signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010. It is important bipartisan legislation that charts a new course for space exploration, science, technology development, and aeronautics. We are grateful for the President's forward-thinking plan and the hard work members of Congress put into this framework that will guide us for the coming three years.
“This legislation supports the president’s ambitious plan for NASA to pioneer new frontiers of innovation and discovery. With this direction, we will extend operations on the International Space Station through at least 2020.
“We will foster a growing commercial space transportation industry that will allow NASA to focus our efforts on executing direction in the act to start work on a heavy-lift architecture to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit and to develop a multipurpose crew vehicle for use with our new space launch systems.
“Also, we will continue to invest in green aviation and other technologies that make air travel safer and more efficient.
“In collaboration with our international partners, industry, and academia, we will build and launch observatories and robotic missions to explore our solar system and peer through new windows into our amazing universe, as well as help us better understand our own home planet with a robust plus-up in our Earth Science program. Our education programs will build on all of this to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers.
“We have been given a new path in space that will enable our country to develop greater capabilities, transforming the state of the art in aerospace technologies. We will continue to maintain and expand vital partnerships around the world. It will help us retool for the industries and jobs of the future that will be vital for long-term economic growth and national security.
“Our workers have been steadfast in their dedication to safety and success through this time of transition, and we salute their hard work and continued professional excellence. They will continue to be our most vital resource as we implement these plans.
“As the 2011 appropriations process moves forward, there is still a lot of hard work ahead of us in collaboration with the Congress. We are committed to work together with the continued wide public support for NASA, and the bipartisan backing of Congress. Today’s vote of confidence from the president ensures America's space program will remain at the forefront of a bright future for our nation.”
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Climate Change Remains a Real Threat to Corals
(Oct. 13, 2010) — Hopes that coral reefs might be able to survive, and recover from, bleaching caused by climate change may have grown dimmer for certain coral species, according to new research by University at Buffalo marine biologists published this week in PLoS One.
The research shows, for the first time, that while hard corals can take up from the environment new stress-tolerant algae that provide critical nutrients, the coral may not be able to sustain the relationship with these algae over a long period, a process known as symbiosis.
The findings may mean that certain types of coral will not be able to adapt rapidly enough to survive global warming, says the study's lead author, Mary Alice Coffroth, PhD, UB professor of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.
"Our findings suggest that not all corals can maintain a long-term symbiosis with these stress-tolerant strains of algae," says Mary Alice Coffroth, PhD, UB professor of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and lead author.
"That's the problem," she says, "if they can't take up the stress-tolerant symbionts, or if they take them up but can't maintain the symbiosis with them, as we found, then they likely won't be able to adapt rapidly enough to survive global warming."
The demise of coral reefs deprives fish of food and shelter, which reduces reef fish populations and marine diversity.
Co-authors on the paper include Eleni L. Petrou, a recent UB Honors College undergraduate who worked in Coffroth's lab as well as Daniel M. Poland, a recent PhD graduate and Jennie C. Holmberg, a former graduate student, both of whom worked in Coffroth's lab, and Daniel A. Brazeau, research associate professor in UB's Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
During the past two decades, Coffroth explains, coral reefs, known as the rain forests of the sea for their incredible biological diversity, have suffered bleaching events due to high water temperatures and light levels that cause them to literally "spit out" their algal symbionts, which provide their sustenance. Severe bleaching can lead to coral death.
In recent years, though, it has been reported that some corals appear to respond to rising sea temperatures by acquiring new stress-tolerant symbionts from the environment, which could allow them to survive the warmer oceans caused by climate change.
Coffroth says that the UB research shows that while the corals they studied were able to acquire new stress-tolerant symbiont strains from the water, they were unable to maintain that symbiosis for very long.
After about five weeks, the proportion of new symbionts within the coral had declined dramatically and after 14 weeks was no longer detectable in the corals.
"While it's true that coral can be flexible in the kinds of symbionts they take up, that will only work within limits," she says. "It's possible that the new symbionts were either unable to multiply in the host or to compete with the existing residual populations of symbionts in the coral.
"Our findings suggest that if a coral that doesn't naturally host this kind of stress-tolerant symbiont, it cannot acquire it from the environment."
She noted that the outlook may be more promising for corals that naturally harbor the stress-resistant symbionts. These symbionts appear to be able to protect corals from sea temperatures that are one-to-two degrees higher than normal; however, Coffroth cautions that most estimates predict that by 2100 global warming will cause sea temperatures to rise by as much as two-to six-degrees above current temperatures.
The UB researchers studied Porites divaricata, a common shallow-water scleractinian coral found throughout the Caribbean.
The coral samples were retrieved from a site within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; in the laboratory, the scientists induced bleaching by exposing the coral to incremental increases in water temperatures until it reached 33 degrees C, about 91 degrees F.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and a grant from the UB Honors College Research and Creative Activities Fund.
Carl Sagan / Star stuff...
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Females Are Equal to Males in Math Skills, Large Study Shows
(Oct. 13, 2010) — The mathematical skills of boys and girls, as well as men and women, are substantially equal, according to a new examination of existing studies in the current online edition of journal Psychological Bulletin.
One portion of the new study looked systematically at 242 articles that assessed the math skills of 1,286,350 people, says chief author Janet Hyde, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
These studies, all published in English between 1990 and 2007, looked at people from grade school to college and beyond. A second portion of the new study examined the results of several large, long-term scientific studies, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
In both cases, Hyde says, the difference between the two sexes was so close as to be meaningless.
Sara Lindberg, now a postdoctoral fellow in women's health at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, was the primary author of the meta-analysis in Psychological Bulletin.
The idea that both genders have equal math abilities is widely accepted among social scientists, Hyde adds, but word has been slow to reach teachers and parents, who can play a negative role by guiding girls away from math-heavy sciences and engineering. "One reason I am still spending time on this is because parents and teachers continue to hold stereotypes that boys are better in math, and that can have a tremendous impact on individual girls who are told to stay away from engineering or the physical sciences because 'Girls can't do the math.'"
Scientists now know that stereotypes affect performance, Hyde adds. "There is lots of evidence that what we call 'stereotype threat' can hold women back in math. If, before a test, you imply that the women should expect to do a little worse than the men, that hurts performance. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"Parents and teachers give little implicit messages about how good they expect kids to be at different subjects," Hyde adds, "and that powerfully affects their self-concept of their ability. When you are deciding about a major in physics, this can become a huge factor."
Hyde hopes the new results will slow the trend toward single-sex schools, which are sometimes justified on the basis of differential math skills. It may also affect standardized tests, which gained clout with the passage of No Child Left Behind, and tend to emphasize lower-level math skills such as multiplication, Hyde says. "High-stakes testing really needs to include higher-level problem-solving, which tends to be more important in jobs that require math skills. But because many teachers teach to the test, they will not teach higher reasoning unless the tests start to include it."
The new findings reinforce a recent study that ranked gender dead last among nine factors, including parental education, family income, and school effectiveness, in influencing the math performance of 10-year-olds.
Hyde acknowledges that women have made significant advances in technical fields. Half of medical school students are female, as are 48 percent of undergraduate math majors. "If women can't do math, how are they getting these majors?" she asks.
Because progress in physics and engineering is much slower, "we have lots of work to do," Hyde says. "This persistent stereotyping disadvantages girls. My message to parents is that they should have confidence in their daughter's math performance. They need to realize that women can do math just as well as men. These changes will encourage women to pursue occupations that require lots of math."
Peggy Lee / Why don't you do right...
Peggy Lee / Why don't you do right...
Jessica rabbit / Why don't you do right...
Mystery Solved: How Genes Are Selectively Silenced
(Oct. 18, 2010) — Our genetic material is often compared to a book. However, it is not so much like a novel to be read in one piece, but rather like a cookbook. The cell reads only those recipes which are to be cooked at the moment. The recipes are the genes; 'reading' in the book of the cell means creating RNA copies of individual genes, which will then be translated into proteins.
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The cell uses highly complex, sophisticated regulatory mechanisms to make sure that not all genes are read at the same time. Particular gene switches need to be activated and, in addition, there are particular chemical labels in the DNA determining which genes are transcribed into RNA and which others will be inaccessible, i.e. where the book literally remains closed. The biological term for this is epigenetic gene regulation.
Among the epigenetic mechanisms which are well studied is the silencing of genes by methyl groups. This is done by specialized enzymes called methyltransferases which attach methyl labels to particular 'letters' of a gene whereby access to the whole gene is blocked. "One of the great mysteries of modern molecular biology is: How do methyltransferases know where to attach their labels in order to selectively inactivate an individual gene?" says Professor Ingrid Grummt of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).
Grummt has now come much closer towards unraveling this mystery. She has focused on studying those text passages in the genetic material which do not contain any recipes. Nevertheless, these texts are transcribed into RNA molecules in a controlled manner. "These so-called noncoding RNAs do not contain recipes for proteins. They are important regulators in the cell which we are just beginning to understand," says Ingrid Grummt.
In her most recent work, Grummt and her co-workers have shown for the first time that epigenetic regulation and regulation by noncoding RNAs interact. The scientists artificially introduced a noncoding RNA molecule called pRNA into cells. As a result, methyl labels are attached to a particular gene switch so that the genes behind it are not read. The trick is that pRNA exactly matches (is complementary to) the DNA sequence of this gene switch. The investigators found out that pRNA forms a kind of plait, or triple helix, with the two DNA strands in the area of this gene switch. Methyltransferases, in turn, are able to specifically dock to this 'plait' and are thus directed exactly to the place where a gene is to be blocked.
More than half of our genetic material is transcribed into noncoding RNA. This prompts Ingrid Grummt to speculate: "It is very well possible that there are exactly matching noncoding RNA molecules for all genes that are temporarily silenced. This would explain how such a large number of genes can be selectively turned on and off."
Carl Sagan / 100 billion galaxies...
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Our opportunity to build homes on asteroids around the asteroid belt and kuiper belt will need some years of science research to measure composition for the atmospheric building blocks to create breathable environments on controlled orbit paths.
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Warren G featuring Nate Dogg / Regulators
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