Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Rubiks cube picture]

This post is about direction, as a spaceman that just wants to explore, my imagination is what I consider my greatest gift, truly I believe man a specially talented sentient because of his ability to pursue his history. I have an ambition to learn and explore as much as possible of my, our, our species evolution and path. Apart from being interested and educated to work with gem stones, the possibilities for working in space specifically to explore planetary terrain and extra curricular dimensions is what I'm doing in and around the space business we have at this era. It totally excites, even to the degree that as a boy I could not wait for the teachers to teach me, I ran ahead and got results as soon as possible scouting up and down in and around the countries graphology. Where are we going? Why? I must... Many many of us feel the need to expand into space, hopefully we will achieve that with sensibility and unity.

23rd Psalm

The Lord's my shepherd,
I'll not want; He makes me down to lie In pastures green;
he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
My soul he doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E'en for his own name's sake.
Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill:For thou art with me,and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.
My table thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint
And my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God's house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.

23rd Psalm Psalm 23,

The lord is my Sheperd

Wet wet wet / Angel eyes

United federation of planets journalism picture]

Russian federation picture]

My much preferred USSR picture]

A typical looking class 1 Earth female. Naomi Campbell an English Jamaican ambassador for multi unilateral space ethics.

Naomi Campbell picture]

Naomi Campbell picture]

Naomi Campbell picture]

Naomi Campbell picture]

Naomi Campbell picture]

Naomi Campbell / Russian TV advert

You Naomi are an extremely beautiful woman.

I have shown this video before, but, I thought it would be relevant...

Question: Why Are Babies Born with Blue Eyes?

Answer: You inherit your eye color from your parents, but no matter what the color is now, it may have been blue when you were born. Why? Melanin, the brown pigment molecule that colors your skin, hair, and eyes, hadn't been fully deposited in the irises of your eyes or darkened by exposure to ultraviolet light. The iris is the colored part of the eye that controls the amount of light that is allowed to enter. Some other animals are born with blue eyes, too, such as kittens. Melanin is a protein. Like other proteins, the amount and type you get is coded in your genes. Irises containing a large amount of melanin appear black or brown. Less melanin produces green, gray, or light brown eyes. If your eyes contain very small amounts of melanin, they will appear blue or light gray. People with albinism have no melanin in their irises and their eyes may appear pink because the blood vessels in the back of their eyes reflect light. Melanin production generally increases during the first year of a baby's life, leading to a deepening of eye color. The color is often stable by about 6 months of age. However, several factors can affect eye color, including use of certain medications and environmental factors. Some people experience changes in eye color over the course of their lives. People can have eyes of two colors.

Wet wet wet / Put the light on

Typewriter design]

Wet wet wet / Sweet little mystery

World's Fastest Camera Takes a New Look at Biosensing

(Dec. 1, 2010) — A European consortium comprising NPL, ST Microelectronics, the University of Edinburgh, and TU Delft has been involved in the development and application of the Megaframe Imager -- an ultrafast camera capable of recording images at the incredible rate of one million frames.
Faster, higher resolution camerasSince the introduction of solid-state optical sensors, like those found in digital cameras, the main trend has been towards increasing the resolution (i.e. number of pixels) while miniaturising the chip.However, the other factor is the number of frames the chip is capable of recording in a given time. Until recently, fast cameras (i.e. those capturing more than the 24 frames per second required for 'normal' video) were only used in niche markets in science and entertainment.Ultrafast camerasNow that higher-than-video speeds are achievable, a whole new range of previously unthinkable applications have emerged -- such as: cellular / sub-cellular imaging; neural imaging; biochemical sensors; DNA / protein microarray scanning; automotive collision studies; and high-sensitivity astronomical observations.The Megaframe Imager uses an extremely sensitive single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) device, and bespoke on-chip intelligence and has shown for the first time that it could potentially be a powerful technology in biosensing.Reporting in the Optical Society of America's new journal Biomedical Optics Express the research team have demonstrated detection of viral DNA binding events using fluoresence lifetime imaging at the very low target concentrations relevant in biosensing applications with acquisition times of less than 30 seconds.DNA microarrays are important tools for biomolecular detection. Widely used for gene expression profiling, disease screening, mutation and forensic analysis, they also hold much promise for the future development of personalised drugs and point of care testing devices.This work was funded by the EU's Sixth Framework programme.

Blonde picture]

Wet wet wet / Somewhere somehow

Traffic Reports From Your Cell PhoneCivil Engineers Track Roaming Cell Phones to Monitor Traffic

March 1, 2006 — Real-time cell phone use data can now be turned into better travel information. The new system, being tested in some states, follows the movement of cell phone signals from one cell tower to another. Slower switches from tower to tower indicate that traffic is slowing down.
BALTIMORE--Frustrated and stuck in a traffic tie-up? Now, your cell phone might be able to get you out of it. Commuters trapped in traffic might find relief on the phone with a new technology that's helping unlock highway gridlock. We sit, we wait, we inch along ... And with time to kill and no where to go, it's no wonder many drivers turn to a cell phone for relief. Now, civil engineers are putting all that talk time to good use with new technology that monitors jammed-up roads by tracking cell phone signals. Mike Zezeski, a civil engineer at the Maryland State Highway Administration in Baltimore, says, "We are pretty much taking data from the cellular provider and converting it to travel time." The new system works whether you're talking on your cell phone or not; the phone only needs to be turned on. The technology follows the movement of cell phone signals from one cell tower to another. When this information is displayed on a map, it shows how quickly or slowly traffic is moving. "When you start to see oranges and yellow, that means traffic's starting to slow up," Zezeski says. "The technology will provide the motorists with really good travel information, much better than what they have today." The more accurate and reliable mapping system is a faster way to warn drivers of traffic accidents and give alternate routes before drivers are stuck in a sea of brake lights. This new traffic system cannot monitor your conversations, only your cell signal. So far, Maryland, Virginia, Missouri and Georgia have already started testing the new system on roadways.

BACKGROUND: Cell phones are everywhere, so scientists want to use them as tracking devices. Several state transportation agencies, including those in Maryland and Virginia, are starting to test technology that allows them to watch traffic patterns by tracking cell phone signals and comparing them to road grids. These new traffic systems can monitor several hundred thousand cell phones at once -- not private phone calls, just the radio signals emitted by the devices. The phones only need to be turned on, not necessarily in use. And advanced software now makes it possible to tell whether a signal is coming from a moving car or a pedestrian, for example.

HOW IT WORKS: Any cell phone that is turned on constantly interacts with cellular towers, which are placed every few hundred feet in a metropolitan area, or every half-mile or so in a rural area. In the new system, listening posts are placed throughout a city that can detect but not send radio signals. The listening post picks up a signal from a cell phone that's on and time-stamps the signal's arrival. By analyzing how long it takes the radio wave to reach the listening post from the cell phone, a computer can calculate almost precisely where someone is located on the highway. Three such posts are needed to determine a 2D position of a cell phone user. Radio tags, or transponders, can also be placed along highways to time when vehicles pass between those points. This data is fed into a computer system, which can then determine the car's location and speed. Collected information can be disseminated via Web sites, electronic road signs, or even registered cell phone users who sign up for customized traffic reports. By getting this information to commuters more quickly, they will have more time to react to traffic warnings and avoid congested areas.

TRAFFICKING IN PHYSICS: On a sparsely populated highway the cars are generally far apart, and can move at whatever speed they choose while freely maneuvering between lanes. A physicist would compare this to molecules in a gas, which are spaced further apart and move around randomly, only occasionally encountering other molecules. During rush hour, traffic density is much greater, so there is less room for cars to maneuver without risking collision, and the average speed is lower. Traffic is more like a liquid at that point. If the density of cars on the highway becomes too great, the flow of traffic freezes up: clusters of a "solid" can form, where cars are packed so closely together they can't move -- a traffic jam.TRAFFIC FACTS: State and federal agencies spend $750 million a year on traffic monitoring with sensors, signal meters and other technologies. It is not yet clear how much a cell phone monitoring system would cost. The average American motorist spends 36 hours in traffic delays ever year. The cost of traffic congestion in the U.S. alone is about $78 billion, representing the 4.5 billion hours of travel time and 6.8 billion gallons of fuel wasted sitting in traffic.

Arrested Development / Everyday people

Starfleet corps of engineers]

Delta 4-Heavy's hush-hush payload found and identified

The clandestine cargo carried into polar orbit Thursday aboard the first California-launched Delta 4-Heavy rocket was a crucial replacement satellite for the nation's surveillance and security network, amateur sky-watchers say.
The sophisticated imaging bird follows a long line of Keyhole-type spacecraft that provide ultra-high resolution imagery for the U.S. intelligence community, according to hobbyists who track orbiting satellites with remarkable precision. Ever since the Delta 4-Heavy rocket fired away from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the amateur observers have been hunting for the new satellite to figure out its identity. The conventional wisdom before the launch said the payload would fly into the Keyhole satellite constellation, and observations from the past few days proved the guess correct. The government agency responsible for operating the country's fleet of spy satellites, the National Reconnaissance Office, doesn't publicly reveal the characteristics of the spacecraft being launched. But the satellite trackers, located around the globe, can easily determine the payload by the type of orbit each new craft reach. Built by Lockheed Martin, the telescope-like Keyhole satellites are electro-optical imaging craft that circle the planet in elliptical polar orbits and collect pictures for U.S. national security uses. There have now been 15 such launches since 1976, all but one successfully reaching orbit, said Ted Molczan, a respected observer who keeps tabs on orbiting spacecraft. The newest satellite joins the two primary Keyholes in space today, having launched in 2001 and 2005 from Vandenberg aboard Titan 4 rockets, plus an older one deployed in 1996 that's still running in a backup role. The Delta 4-Heavy flight targeted the orbit of the 2001 satellite, apparently to assume the lead observation duties from the aging craft that's now achieved the record for the longest prime mission duration, Molczan says.
"This aged spacecraft probably is nearing the end of its useful life, which typically is determined by the supply of propellant required to maintain the orbit," said Molczan.
The NRO on Thursday hailed the so-called NROL-49 launch as a success, which marked the Delta 4-Heavy's maiden mission from California and the largest rocket ever flown from the West Coast.
"I'm grateful to everybody who worked so hard to make this mission happen, the launch team, the satellite vehicle team and our mission partners. It is always a great feeling to have hard work culminate in success. When the satellite becomes operational, it will assure the U.S. continues to enjoy superior vigilance from above," Col. Alan Davis, Office of Space Launch director, said in the NRO's post-launch press release.
When the 2005 launch went up, it was supposed to be the final Keyhole before the NRO's Future Imagery Architecture program began fielding a new generation of optical and radar spy satellites.
"Reconnaissance satellites had always been the bread-and-butter of the Lockheed Martin family of companies and they firmly expected that they would be awarded these new contracts. But, in a major surprise, Boeing was the apparent low-bidder and awarded contracts [in 1999] to develop both new satellite programs -- even though the company had never designed nor built a reconnaissance spacecraft," said aerospace journalist Roger Guillemette, who has covered military and intelligence space projects since the 1990s.
"After massive cost overruns, missed schedule milestones and unresolved technical issues, the original version of FIA was finally killed in 2005 after more than $15 billion was spent on a program that never built a single piece of flight hardware."

Needing to fill the void from the cancelled FIA program, the NRO ordered the construction of Keyhole satellites be restarted to build two additional satellites that would protect the nation's surveillance capabilities.

The mission patch for Thursday's NROL-49 launch actually included the Latin inscription: "melior diabolus quem scies." Loosely translated: "the devil you know." Better the devil you know (Keyhole) than the devil you don't know (FIA).

"NROL-49 is believed to be one of two replacement KH-11 ordered from Lockheed Martin as a stop-gap until a successor to FIA becomes available. The second one would replace the 2005 spacecraft, likely around 2013," Molczan said.
The next Delta 4-Heavy launch from Vandenberg is scheduled for late 2013.
The FIA program had promised smaller satellites that could fit aboard medium-class rockets and the heavy-lift Titan 4 flew into retirement with the last-planned Keyhole in 2005.
"The logic was that constellations of smaller, cheaper spacecraft could be launched in greater quantities resulting in more frequent overhead passes. This increase in imaging opportunities would mean that enemy forces could no longer hide from satellite passes and battlefield commanders would receive more timely overhead imagery," said Guillemette.
"Two new spacecraft designs -- electro-optical and radar-imaging -- would be developed under the Future Imagery Architecture program. One key goal was to reduce the spacecraft size and weight. Lighter spacecraft would require smaller, less expensive launch vehicles as opposed to the aging KH-11 (optical) and LACROSSE (radar) satellites that weighed as much as a bus and could only be launched by very expensive Titan 4 rockets or the space shuttle."
But the severe technical and budgetary woes killed the original FIA plan and forced the government to buy more of the tried-and-true big Keyhole birds that require a powerful ride into space.
"Lockheed Martin was tasked to create updated versions of its venerable KH-11 electro-optical reconnaissance satellite that will still require the heavy-lift launch capacity of the Delta 4-Heavy," Guillemette said.
The return to the massive satellites that needed the mighty Titan boosters to reach orbit meant the Air Force would have to bring the new-generation Delta 4-Heavy to Vandenberg for these two missions of extra Keyholes. The pad at Space Launch Complex 6 underwent an extensive upgrade over the past three years to accommodate the giant rocket.
Vandenberg is the nation's launch site for sending intelligence-gathering surveillance craft into polar orbits for imaging nearly all of the planet's surface.
The triple-barreled Delta 4-Heavy dramatically rose into the clear sky with fire and smoke at 1:10 p.m. PST, then headed southward over the open Pacific for an ascent that Molczan said was timed perfectly to achieve the intended Keyhole orbit.
And the long-term future for optical reconnaissance appears to be under development once again, Molczan says, which would send up a new breed of satellite several years from now, probably to replace the bird launched Thursday.
"Lockheed Martin announced on July 27, that it was developing what is believed to be the successor to the KH-11 and the cancelled FIA optical satellite, for which it expects to receive a multi-billion dollar order to begin construction in 2012. The first launch probably is targeted for about 2017, by which time NROL-49 would be nearing retirement."

Blonde picture]

Wet wet wet / More than love

Wet wet wet / Love is all around

Gardening in Space With HydroTropi

(Jan. 19, 2011) — Plants are fundamental to life on Earth, converting light and carbon dioxide into food and oxygen. Plant growth may be an important part of human survival in exploring space, as well. Gardening in space has been part of the International Space Station from the beginning -- whether peas grown in the Lada greenhouse or experiments in the Biomass Production System. The space station offers unique opportunities to study plant growth and gravity, something that cannot be done on Earth.
The latest experiment that has astronauts putting their green thumbs to the test is Hydrotropism and Auxin-Inducible Gene expression in Roots Grown Under Microgravity Conditions, known as HydroTropi. Operations were conducted October 18-21, 2010, HydroTropi is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)-run study that looks at directional root growth. In microgravity, roots grow latterly or sideways, instead of up and down like they do under Earth's gravitational forces.Using cucumber plants (scientific name Cucumis sativus), investigators look to determine whether hydrotropic -- plant root orientation due to water -- response can control the direction of root growth in microgravity. To perform the HydroTropi experiment, astronauts transport the cucumber seeds from Earth to the space station and then coax them into growth. The seeds, which reside in Hydrotropism chambers, undergo 18 hours of incubation in a Cell Biology Experiment Facility or CBEF. Then the crewmembers activate the seeds with water or a saturated salt solution, followed by a second application of water 4 to 5 hours later. The crew harvests the cucumber seedlings and preserves them using fixation tubes called Kenney Space Center Fixation Tubes or KFTs, which then store in one of the station MELFI freezers to await return to Earth.The results from HydroTropi, which returns to Earth on STS-133, will help investigators to better understand how plants grow and develop at a molecular level. The experiment will demonstrate a plant's ability to change growth direction in response to gravity (gravitropism) vs. directional growth in response to water (hydrotropism). By looking at the reaction of the plants to the stimuli and the resulting response of differential auxin -- the compound regulating the growth of plants -- investigators will learn about plants inducible gene expression. In space, investigators hope HydroTropi will show them how to control directional root growth by using the hydrotropism stimulus; this knowledge may also lead to significant advancements in agriculture production on Earth.

Blonde picture]

Wet wet wet / This time

Laser Propulsion Could Beam Rockets into Space

Space launches have evoked the same image for decades: bright orange flames exploding beneath a rocket as it lifts, hovers and takes off into the sky. But an alternative propulsion system proposed by some researchers could change that vision.Instead of explosive chemical reactions onboard a rocket, the new concept, called beamed thermal propulsion, involves propelling a rocket by shining laser light or microwaves at it from the ground. The technology would make possible a reusable single-stage rocket that has two to five times more payload space than conventional rockets, which would cut the cost of sending payloads into low-Earth orbit.NASA is now conducting a study to examine the possibility of using beamed energy propulsion for space launches. The study is expected to conclude by March 2011.

In a traditional chemical rocket propulsion system, fuel and oxidizer are pumped into the combustion chamber under high pressure and burnt, which creates exhaust gases that are ejected down from a nozzle at high velocity, thrusting the rocket upwards.A beamed thermal propulsion system would involve focusing microwave or laser beams on a heat exchanger aboard the rocket. The heat exchanger would transfer the radiation's energy to the liquid propellant, most likely hydrogen, converting it into a hot gas that is pushed out of the nozzle."The basic idea is to build rockets that leave their energy source on the ground," says Jordin Kare, president of Kare Technical Consulting, who developed the laser thermal launch system concept in 1991. "You transmit the energy from the ground to the vehicle."With the beam shining on the vehicle continually, it would take 8 to 10 minutes for a laser to put a craft into orbit, while microwaves would do the trick in 3 to 4 minutes. The vehicle would have to be designed without shiny surfaces that could reflect dangerous beams, and aircraft and satellites would have to be kept out of the beam's path. Any launch system would be built in high-altitude desert areas, so danger to wildlife shouldn't be a concern, Kare says.Thermal propulsion vehicles would be safer than chemical rockets since they can't explode and don't drop off pieces as they fly. They are also smaller and lighter because most of the complexity is on the ground, which makes them easier and cheaper to launch."People can launch small satellites for education, science experiments, engineering tests, etc. whenever they want, instead of having to wait for a chance to share a ride with a large satellite," Kare says.Another cost advantage comes from larger payload space. While conventional propulsion systems are limited by the amount of chemical energy in the propellant that's released by combustion, in beamed systems you can add more energy externally. That means a spacecraft can gain a certain momentum using less than half the amount of propellant of a conventional system, allowing more room for the payload."Usually in a conventional rocket you have to have three stages with a payload fraction of three percent overall," says Kevin Parkin, leader of the Microwave Thermal Rocket project at the NASA Ames Research Center. "This propulsion system will be single stage with a payload fraction of five to fifteen percent."

Having a higher payload space along with a reusable rocket could make beamed thermal propulsion a low-cost way to get material into low Earth orbit, Parkin says.Parkin developed the idea of microwave thermal propulsion in 2001 and described a laboratory prototype in his 2006 Ph.D. thesis. A practical real-world system should be possible to build now because microwave sources called gyrotrons have transformed in the last five decades, he says. One megawatt devices are now on the market for about a million U.S. dollars."They're going up in power and down in cost by orders of magnitude over the last few decades," he says. "We've reached a point where you can combine about a hundred and make a launch system."Meanwhile, the biggest obstacle to using lasers to beam energy has been the misconception that it would require a very large, expensive laser, Kare says. But you could buy commercially available lasers that fit on a shipping container and build an array of a few hundred. "Each would have its own telescope and pointing system," he says. "The array would cover an area about the size of a golf course."The smallest real laser launch system would have 25 to 100 megawatts of power while a microwave system would have 100 to 200 megawatts. Building such an array would be expensive, says Kare, although similar to or even less expensive than developing and testing a chemical rocket. The system would make most economic sense if it was used for at least a few hundred launches a year.In addition, says Parkin, "the main components of the beam facility should last for well over ten thousand hours of operation, typical of this class of hardware, so the savings can more than repay the initial cost."In the near term, beamed energy propulsion would be useful for putting microsatellites into low Earth orbit, for altitude changes or for slowing down spacecraft as they descend to Earth. But the technology could in the future be used to send missions to the Moon or to other planets and for space tourism.Kare has looked into the possibility of using lasers to propel interstellar probes for NASA's Institute of Advanced Concepts. A deep space launch would require higher power lasers with larger telescope systems as well as laser relay stations in space. Powering missions over interplanetary distance would require even bigger lasers and telescopes, as well as different propulsion techniques using propellants easier to store than liquid hydrogen.Sending a spacecraft to a moon of Jupiter, for instance, would require a laser that gives billions of watts of power. "You'd have to have another couple generations of space-based telescopes to do something like that," Kare says. "You can in fact launch an interstellar probe that way but now you're talking about lasers that might be hundreds of billions of Watts of power." Laser technology could reach those levels in another 50 years, he says.

A tribe called quest / Phoney rappers

Medical Records on Your Cell Phone Computer Scientists Turn Cell Phones into Health Care Resource

March 1, 2006 — New software technology allows cell phone and PDA users to download their medical records, making them quickly accessible in case of emergency. The new software, to be available in a year, can even display animated 3D scans. Computer scientists say the technology will also enable students to do research using their portable devices. SAN DIEGO--Imagine if your medical records were lost or misplaced. It can cause more than aggravation; it could impact the care you receive. Now, imagine being able to download your own health records -- even X-rays and diagnostic scans -- right into your cell phone or PDA. The same technology that brings games to life in your cell phone can also help you and your doctor keep track of your health. Gregory Quinn, a computer scientist at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, says, "We can do quite amazing things in terms of presenting information." Many of the newer cells phones and PDAs have a graphics chip like the one in your PC. The chip can turn your phone into a virtual medical library, complete with stunning 3D computer graphics and medical scans. Quinn is developing a program that will allow doctors to view a patient's medical history on mobile devices. Cardiologist Michael Wright believes mobile medical records will not only help doctors, it will simplify things for patients. Dr. Wright, who is medical director at the LifeScore Clinic in San Diego says: "Right now your medical records are scattered here and there. You don't really have easy access to them." With Quinn's program, medical notes and patient tests can be downloaded onto a cell phone in just minutes. "Let's say, for example, I had done a scan here and had picked up a narrowed blood vessel coming down the surface of the heart. That would be visible on this 3D model," Dr. Wright says. All the data on a phone is stored in the memory expansion slot. In these medical phones, however, Instead of music and digital pictures, it could hold a virtual scan of the body and much more. "It really does provide a, an on going, growing medical record that they can always have with them," Dr. Wright tells DBIS. The 3D mobile medical data program should be available within a year. Quinn's program isn't limited to medical information. He says students will be able to retrieve science and other information on their cell phones during class.

BACKGROUND: Half a billion cell phones are sold each year, and within two years most of these will be inter-connected devices and contain built-in 2D/3D graphics accelerators. Scientists may be able to use these devices to disseminate visual information and scientific data, such as real-time molecular and medical data. For developing countries in particular, the cell phone will become their first and/or primary computing device. It's high-end data visualization for the masses.

So-called "smartphones" relate to a single device that can take care of all your handheld computing and communications needs in a single small package, integrating digital photography, cellular communication, calendars and address books, GPS navigation, email, and even play music or games. The biggest advantage is that smartphones allow users to install, configure and run their favorite applications, creating individual, tailor-made service. In contrast, most standard cell-phone software offers only limited configurations for personalizing the device.ABOUT GRAPHICS

A graphics accelerator is a type of video adapter that contains its own microprocessor, enabling higher performance. It has its own memory for storing graphical representations. Among other advantages, graphics accelerators free up the computer's central processing unit. The CPU can do other tasks while the graphics accelerator is processing the graphics. When computation tasks are divided in this way, it is known as "load balancing." Today, graphics accelerators are not just an enhancement, but a necessity, and are bundled automatically into mid-range and high-range computers.GOING DIGITAL: Digital cell phones use the same radio technology as analog phones, but unlike analog signals, digital signals can be compressed and manipulated to fit more calls onto a given bandwidth. It's also why more cable companies are switching to digital to gain more channels. Using digital cell phones, three to ten digital calls can occupy the same space as a single analog call.

Blonde picture]

A tribe called quest / Verses from the abstract

Discovery Triples Number of Stars in Universe

(Dec. 1, 2010) — Astronomers have discovered that small, dim stars known as red dwarfs are much more prolific than previously thought -- so much so that the total number of stars in the universe is likely three times bigger than realized.
Because red dwarfs are relatively small and dim compared to stars like our Sun, astronomers hadn't been able to detect them in galaxies other than our own Milky Way and its nearest neighbors before now. As such, they did not know how much of the total stellar population of the universe is made up of red dwarfs.Now astronomers have used powerful instruments on the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to detect the faint signature of red dwarfs in eight massive, relatively nearby galaxies called elliptical galaxies, which are located between about 50 million and 300 million light years away. They discovered that the red dwarfs, which are only between 10 and 20 percent as massive as the Sun, were much more bountiful than expected."No one knew how many of these stars there were," said Pieter van Dokkum, a Yale University astronomer who led the research, which is described in Nature's Dec.1 Advanced Online Publication. "Different theoretical models predicted a wide range of possibilities, so this answers a longstanding question about just how abundant these stars are."The team discovered that there are about 20 times more red dwarfs in elliptical galaxies than in the Milky Way, said Charlie Conroy of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who was also involved in the research."We usually assume other galaxies look like our own. But this suggests other conditions are possible in other galaxies," Conroy said. "So this discovery could have a major impact on our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution."For instance, Conroy said, galaxies might contain less dark matter -- a mysterious substance that has mass but cannot be directly observed -- than previous measurements of their masses might have indicated. Instead, the abundant red dwarfs could contribute more mass than realized.In addition to boosting the total number of stars in the universe, the discovery also increases the number of planets orbiting those stars, which in turn elevates the number of planets that might harbor life, van Dokkum said. In fact, a recently discovered exoplanet that astronomers believe could potentially support life orbits a red dwarf star, called Gliese 581."There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars," van Dokkum said, adding that the red dwarfs they discovered, which are typically more than 10 billion years old, have been around long enough for complex life to evolve. "It's one reason why people are interested in this type of star."

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A tribe called quest / Scenario

Brain's Ability to Selectively Focus, Pay Attention Diminishes With Age, Study Finds

(Nov. 3, 2010) — A University of Toronto study shows that visual attention -- the brain's ability to selectively filter unattended or unwanted information from reaching awareness -- diminishes with age, leaving older adults less capable of filtering out distracting or irrelevant information.
Further, this age-related "leaky" attentional filter fundamentally impacts the way visual information is encoded into memory. Older adults with impaired visual attention have better memory for "irrelevant" information. The research, conducted by members of U of T's Department of Psychology, will be published Nov. 3 in the Journal of Neuroscience.In the study, the research team examined brain images using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on a group of young (mean age = 22 years) and older adults (mean age = 77 years) while they looked at pictures of overlapping faces and places (houses and buildings). Participants were asked to only pay attention to the faces and to identify the gender of the person. Even though they could see the place in the image, it was not relevant to the task at hand"In young adults, the brain region for processing faces was active while the brain region for processing places was not," says Taylor Schmitz, lead author of the research paper. "However, both the face and place regions were active in older people. This means that even at early stages of perception, older adults were less capable of filtering out the distracting information. Moreover, on a surprise memory test 10 minutes after the scan, older adults were more likely to recognize what face was originally paired with what house."The findings suggest that under attentionally-demanding conditions, such as looking for one's keys on a cluttered table, age-related problems with "tuning in" to the desired object may be linked to the way in which information is selected and processed in the sensory areas of the brain. Both the relevant sensory information -- the keys -- and the irrelevant information -- the clutter -- are perceived and encoded more or less equally. In older adults, these changes in visual attention may broadly influence many of the cognitive deficits typically observed in normal aging, particularly memory.The study was conducted by Eve De Rosa, Taylor Schmitz and Frederick H.T. Cheng, all of U of T's Department of Psychology. Data was collected in the Department of Psychology and at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Hospital. The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Blonde picture]

Four move checkmate]

Arrested development / Miracles

Elton John / Your song

Blonde picture]

Wet wet wet / Goodnight girl

Marilyn Monroe picture]

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Message to viewers.

It has been terrific recording my journal and recently has been fantastic that newer scientific journals are producing some very very encouraging and important results from lab and feild.

As people who visit my journal often, you would have seen that the visitors to the journal page at it's www. address has significantly dwindled since wednesday 6 days ago probably because someone wanted to remove it from veiwing, obviously the adult pictures and videos contribute to the science and it is purely at visitors discretion if they themselves stay to learn more about the journal and it's type of science.

I do really want to clarify that the journal is probably the target of a chosen identity discrepency and my recent comments at a blog journal that is another industry journal would probably have contributed to some reactions that perhaps were calculated not for the sake of ''floating point element'' economics.

''It was september 14th since your previous hyperinflation report, recently on television I have seen that the two Gambino bosses have been assasinated, John Gotti has recently died, and Bonnano the godfather of Italian american mafiosa that reported directly to the German ss has recently died''.

My comment at the post 'HOW HYPERINFLATION WILL HAPPEN' [2 january 2011] started the sequence of a conversation that worries me seriously probably becuase the journal is ''coveted'' by perhaps more than 1400 veiwers daily, many of whom senior industry men.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


draughts and chess board picture]

This post is really a schedule planner, not really for specific purposes, but, it has been a while since I have sent message to starfleet.

Star trek emblem]

The Movement of Tree Sap Analyzed

(Jan. 4, 2011) — Scientists at Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) used a 3D modeling to analyze the mechanisms used to by trees to transport water in their interior. The objective: to discover the keys to the movement of sap in order to apply these advances to new hydraulic systems or to suction pumps.

The researchers decided to embark on this study in order to find out which mechanisms are used by plants when they extract water from very dry or somewhat inhospitable land. "In the case of mangrove swamps, for example, the plants are able to extract freshwater from a saltwater environment, despite the fact that the osmotic pressure should make quite the opposite happen," explains Professor José Luis Pérez Díaz, who studies this type of relatively unknown phenomenon as part of a new line of research that the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UC3M has begun.
The objective of the study is to learn what type of mechanism the plants use when extracting the water and transporting it from the roots to the leaves. To do this, the researchers have generated a model that represents the microscopic structure of the trunk of a European beech tree (Fagus sylvatica) in order to study the changes produced when the water moves through its interior; they have published some of the results of their research in a recent issue of the Journal of Biological Physics.
The three-dimensional model created by these UC3M scientists allows them to analyze the transpiration and absorption of the bark of the tree, as well as the pressure in the different types of conduits, such as the phloem or xylem, that transport fluids inside the trunk. The first is a vascular tissue that carries sugars and other synthesized nutrients from the organs that produce them to the organs where they are consumed and stored, in both upward and downward directions. Xylem, on the other hand, is different type of tissue that is adapted especially for conveying water upward for the length of the plant; its elements are arranged in longitudinal rows, through more or less continuous sections of conduits.
The main conclusion of this study is that the sap in the trunks of trees is in a pressurized situation. It demonstrates, then, that when the pressure is positive in the conduits of the xylem as well as in those of the phloem, the model expands in the radial direction. However, when the pressure is negative in the xylem and positive in the phloem, which is what is believed to occur during the day, the model contracts in the radial direction. "Our results are not absolutely conclusive yet, but they set us on a path to continue our study and to find out more about these processes," says Professor Pérez Díaz.
This line of research could have interesting applications for hydraulic systems or devices for water extraction, for example. "Currently -- the expert points out -- there is no water suction pump capable of raising water more than ten meters at normal atmospheric pressure, but a sequoia tree can raise water to a height of 100 meters, which I think means that anything we can learn from plants is going to be of great interest to people working in this field," he concludes.

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Dr Hook / When your in love with a beautiful woman

For some of us joining starfleet could possibly be for different reasons, I for one certainly know what a number one is, I know sir, we want it now...

picture of Jonathan Frakes ''it's a huge job sir...']

Star fleet admiralty emblem]

Dr Hook / Sexy eyes

New Hubble Photos Show Eerie Green Space Cloud

Date: 10 January 2011 Time: 03:46 PM ET

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is helping to demystify one of the strangest objects in space — a huge, glowing, green blob of gas floating near a spiral galaxy.
Hubble has uncovered delicate filaments of gas and a pocket of young star clusters in the giant object, which is known as Hanny's Voorwerp ("Hanny's Object" in Dutch). Hubble's new photos provide the sharpest view yet of Hanny's Voorwerp, researchers said, and reveal a star-birthing region in the object.

"The star clusters are localized, confined to an area that is over a few thousand light-years wide," study leader William Keel, of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, said in a statement. "The region may have been churning out stars for several million years. They are so dim that they have previously been lost in the brilliant light of the surrounding gas."
Keel presented his team's results today (Jan. 10) at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle.

Citizen science comes up big

The new Hubble discoveries are the latest finds in an ongoing probe of Hanny's Voorwerp, which is named for Hanny van Arkel. Van Arkel, a Dutch schoolteacher, discovered the ghostly structure in 2007 while participating in the online Galaxy Zoo project.

Galaxy Zoo enlists the public to help classify more than a million galaxies catalogued in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The project has expanded to include the Hubble Zoo, in which the public is asked to assess images of tens of thousands of galaxies from the Hubble Space Telescope.

In the new study, researchers report that Hubble's cameras have uncovered star birth in a region of Hanny's Voorwerp that faces the spiral galaxy IC 2497, which is about 650 million light-years from Earth.

Radio observations had previously shown an outflow of gas from the galaxy's core. The new Hubble images reveal that the galaxy's gas is interacting with a small region of Hanny's Voorwerp, which is collapsing and forming stars. The youngest stars are a couple of million years old, researchers said.

An active galactic core

Recent X-ray observations had revealed why Hanny's Voorwerp caught the eye of astronomers in the first place. IC 2497's active core produced a quasar — a powerful beacon of light powered by a black hole — researchers said.

The quasar shot a broad beam of light in the direction of Hanny's Voorwerp, illuminating the gas cloud. Its bright green color comes from glowing oxygen, according to researchers.

"We just missed catching the quasar, because it turned off no more than 200,000 years ago, so what we're seeing is the afterglow from the quasar," Keel said. "This implies that it might flicker on and off, which is typical of quasars, but we've never seen such a dramatic change happen so rapidly."

The quasar's outburst also may have cast a shadow on Hanny's Voorwerp, giving the illusion of a gaping hole about 20,000 light-years wide in the object, researchers said. Hubble images reveal sharp edges around the apparent opening, suggesting that an object close to the quasar may have blocked some of the light.

A rough life for IC 2497

Other studies have revealed that Hanny's Voorwerp is not an island in space. Rather, it's part of a twisting rope of gas about 300,000 light-years long that wraps around the galaxy, researchers said.

The only optically visible part of the rope is Hanny's Voorwerp, which stretches from 44,000 light-years to 136,000 light-years from the galaxy's core.

The quasar, the outflow of gas that instigated the star birth and the long rope of gas point to a rough life for IC 2497, researchers said.

"The evidence suggests that IC 2497 may have merged with another galaxy about a billion years ago," Keel said. "The Hubble images show in exquisite detail that the spiral arms are twisted, so the galaxy hasn't completely settled down."

A recently dimmed quasar

In Keel's scenario, the galactic merger expelled the long streamer of gas from IC 2497 and funneled gas and stars into the center, which fed the black hole. The engorged black hole then powered the quasar, which launched two cones of light. One light beam illuminated part of the gas cloud, which is now called Hanny's Voorwerp.

About a million years ago, the researchers think, shock waves produced glowing gas near the galaxy's core and blasted it outward. The outburst may have triggered star formation in Hanny's Voorwerp. Then, less than 200,000 years ago, the quasar dropped in brightness by 100 times or more, leaving an ordinary-looking core.

New images of the galaxy's dusty core from Hubble show an expanding bubble of gas blown out of one side of the core, perhaps evidence of the sputtering quasar's final gasps. The expanding ring of gas is still too small for ground-based telescopes to detect, according to researchers.

"This quasar may have been active for a few million years, which perhaps indicates that quasars blink on and off on timescales of millions of years, not the 100 million years that theory had suggested," Keel said. He added that the quasar could light up again if more material is dumped into the black hole.

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RELEASE : 11-007

Dr Hook / Sharing the night together

New Microscopy Tracks Molecules in Live Tissue at Video Rate; Scientists Push SRS Microscopy to New Levels of Spatial, Temporal Precision

(Dec. 2, 2010) — A novel type of biomedical imaging, made possible by new advances in microscopy from scientists at Harvard University, is so fast and sensitive it can capture "video" of blood cells squeezing through capillaries.

Researchers led by Harvard's Brian G. Saar, Christian W. Freudiger, and X. Sunney Xie describe the work in the journal Science.
The new technique, based on stimulated Raman scattering (SRS), makes a complementary partner to MRI, widely used to capture static images of organs, tumors, and other large structures. For the first time, SRS microscopy makes possible label-free chemical movies, with streaming footage at the subcellular level, catching video of proteins, lipids, and water within cells.
"When we started this project 11 years ago, we never imagined we'd have an amazing result like this," says Xie, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard. "It took MRI more than 30 years to reach patients, but we're already looking forward with great anticipation to applications of SRS microscopy in hospitals. It's now clear that stimulated Raman scattering will play an important role in the future of biological imaging and medical diagnostics."
Xie says SRS microscopy could aid, and speed, surgery to remove tumors and other lesions. Surgeons must now send excised samples for histological analysis -- a process that takes about 20 minutes -- while a patient waits on the operating table. SRS microscopy provides equivalent insights through real-time scanning.
Xie's team has already used SRS microscopy to track migration of medications in skin, shedding new light on the absorption of topical drugs. In conjunction with endoscopy, the technique can also view three-dimensional sections of tissue, layer by layer.
"Previous SRS microscopy captured only about one image per minute, far too slow for use in live animals or humans," Xie says. "We were able to speed the collection of data by more than three orders of magnitude, attaining video-rate imaging."
Because SRS microscopy works by detecting the intrinsic vibrations in chemical bonds between atoms, it doesn't require intrusive fluorescent labeling. An optical technique, it compliments MRI, whose depth of penetration is better suited to imaging organs and other large objects deep within the body.
The current work greatly improves detection of signals -- backscattered by tissues in the body -- by rearranging photodetectors to surround a small aperture through which a beam of light is directed at the tissue being examined. Using this approach, the scientists were able to collect and analyze almost 30 percent of the laser light directed at a biological sample, a more than 30-fold increase over previous SRS microscopy.
Scientists currently use a variety of techniques to view biomolecules, but most have significant limitations that are sidestepped by SRS microscopy. Labeling with green fluorescent protein (GFP) provides sharp images, but the bulky protein can perturb delicate biological pathways, overwhelming smaller biomolecules. Conventional infrared (IR) microscopy has low spatial resolution and requires desiccated samples, while spontaneous Raman microscopy requires high laser power and long integration times, limiting use in live specimens. Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy, pioneered by Xie's own group, lacks the contrast to image most molecules beyond lipids.
Saar, Freudiger, and Xie's co-authors are Gary R. Holtom of Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Jay Reichman and C. Michael Stanley of Chroma Technology in Bellows Falls, Vt. Their work was funded by Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.

Dr Hook / Years from now

Starfleet planetary science emblem]

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Its First Rocky Planet

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of its first rocky planet, named Kepler-10b. Measuring 1.4 times the size of Earth, it is the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar system.

The discovery of this so-called exoplanet is based on more than eight months of data collected by the spacecraft from May 2009 to early January 2010.

"All of Kepler's best capabilities have converged to yield the first solid evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun," said Natalie Batalha, Kepler's deputy science team lead at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and primary author of a paper on the discovery accepted by the Astrophysical Journal. "The Kepler team made a commitment in 2010 about finding the telltale signatures of small planets in the data, and it's beginning to pay off."

Kepler's ultra-precise photometer measures the tiny decrease in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it. The size of the planet can be derived from these periodic dips in brightness. The distance between the planet and the star is calculated by measuring the time between successive dips as the planet orbits the star.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the planet's surface. However, since it orbits once every 0.84 days, Kepler-10b is more than 20 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun and not in the habitable zone.

Kepler-10 was the first star identified that could potentially harbor a small transiting planet, placing it at the top of the list for ground-based observations with the W.M. Keck Observatory 10-meter telescope in Hawaii.

Scientists waiting for a signal to confirm Kepler-10b as a planet were not disappointed. Keck was able to measure tiny changes in the star's spectrum, called Doppler shifts, caused by the telltale tug exerted by the orbiting planet on the star.

"The discovery of Kepler 10-b is a significant milestone in the search for planets similar to our own," said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Although this planet is not in the habitable zone, the exciting find showcases the kinds of discoveries made possible by the mission and the promise of many more to come," he said.

Knowledge of the planet is only as good as the knowledge of the star it orbits. Because Kepler-10 is one of the brighter stars being targeted by Kepler, scientists were able to detect high frequency variations in the star's brightness generated by stellar oscillations, or starquakes. This analysis allowed scientists to pin down Kepler-10b's properties.

There is a clear signal in the data arising from light waves that travel within the interior of the star. Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium scientists use the information to better understand the star, just as earthquakes are used to learn about Earth's interior structure. As a result of this analysis, Kepler-10 is one of the most well characterized planet-hosting stars in the universe.

That's good news for the team studying Kepler-10b. Accurate stellar properties yield accurate planet properties. In the case of Kepler-10b, the picture that emerges is of a rocky planet with a mass 4.6 times that of Earth and with an average density of 8.8 grams per cubic centimeter -- similar to that of an iron dumbbell.

Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data.

Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters. For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

It's terrific learning that the possibilities for building cities on other planets and terraforming [stimulating an atmospheric condition] planets is a near occurance, obviously the technicalities of travelling into deep space with protection from space plasma [the possibilities of radiation] still pose an evolutionary issue to be grappled with, but, certainly space vehicles exist that would be capable of doing the job utilising the method of travel we have available which is combustion propulsion, generally some sort of explosive reactive fuel. I personally believe magnetism beaming via teleportation to be the next sensible and sustainable way of long space travelling particularly because of the need to not refuel with basic liquid applications.

Dr Hook / Sleeping late

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Dr Hook / I don't wanna be alone

NASA Launches Innovative Approach to Solve Old Challenges


NASA field centers participated in a pilot program recently called NASA@Work to facilitate internal problem solving and communication across the agency. The goal of NASA@Work is to leverage the breadth and depth of NASA technical expertise by offering solutions to challenges that exist in currently funded NASA projects. InnoCentive Co., hosted the pilot program in coordination with NASA Johnson Space Station and the HQs Office of the Chief Technologist's Partnerships, Innovation and Commercial Space Program. Jan Aikins served as the "Center Champion" for NASA Ames Research Center and coordinated NASA Ames' participation in this pilot program with the Center Chief Technologist’s Office led by John Hines.

All field centers followed a process established by InnoCentive to develop, refine, and select challenges. An award system also was implemented to recognize contributors. NASA Ames submitted five challenges for consideration. Three of the challenges were selected for further development during the InnoCentive@Work In-person Training and Challenge Workshop held at NASA Johnson. Finalized challenges from all field centers were posted on the InnoCentive website, Over the course of several weeks, participants from around the agency submitted potential solutions to the posted challenges. A summary of each of the three selected NASA Ames challenges and a sampling of their respective solutions are listed below.

Challenge 1 Overview: "NASA InternSpace"
NASA Ames is considering developing a customized social networking and new media communications platform for use by NASA interns, mentors, and managers. Suggestions are being sought for what functionality such a site should have in order to make it applicable to all of NASA following its trial period at NASA Ames.

Potential solutions include:

Interactive field center and other location maps
Internship Work Plans and evaluation tools
Internal Instant Messaging
Posting of research and other work opportunities
Challenge 2 Overview: "Low Impact Robotic Sensor Platform for Land Survey"
Many regions of scientific interest are physically/biologically fragile. Because of their fragility, systematic human surveys can damage or destroy the scientific value of such sites. Good results have been obtained using small rovers, but they have limitations, e.g elevating instruments on booms allows sensing over/around obstacles, but leaves the rover unstable in rough terrain and aggravates instrument vibration, motion, and uncertainty in position/orientation. This challenge is seeking brainstorms and "eureka moments" for alternative sensor platforms.

Potential solutions include:

Use of a remote controlled helicopter as a platform
Development of a low-altitude mini-dirigible (lighter-than-air) platform
Active boom/instrument stabilization to reduce motion and vibration
Additional passive stabilization (gel pads, shock absorbers, etc.)
Challenge 3 Overview: "Measuring Gas Concentrations in Microliter Samples"
Micro-fluidic and well-plate technologies are commonly utilized for bioassays, combinatorial chemistry, and cell culture experiments. However, valuable research in space science and biotechnology cannot be accomplished using these technologies without significant improvements in the ability to measure gasses in these system formats. Suggestions are being sought for a new small device

starfleet research emblem]

Dr Hook / A little bit more

Super-Earth Has an Atmosphere, but Is It Steamy or Gassy?

(Dec. 1, 2010) — In December 2009, astronomers announced the discovery of a super-Earth known as GJ 1214b. At the time, they reported signs that the newfound world likely had a thick, gaseous atmosphere. Now, a team led by Jacob Bean (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) has made the first measurements of GJ 1214b's atmosphere. However, the measurements raise as many questions about the planet's atmospheric composition as they answer.

"This is the first super-Earth known to have an atmosphere," said Bean. "But even with these new measurements we can't say yet what that atmosphere is made of. This world is being very shy and veiling its true nature from us."

A super-Earth is a planet up to three times the size of Earth and weighing one to ten times as much. (GJ 1214b is 2.7 times the size of Earth and 6.5 times as massive.) They are likely to be mostly solid (some combination of rock or ices), unlike the hundreds of Jupiter-sized gas giants found to date around distant stars.

Researchers suggested three atmospheric possibilities for GJ 1214b. The most intriguing was a thick blanket of steam vaporized by the nearby star. (This option led to the nickname "waterworld," although it's too hot for an ocean.) The second option was a mini-Neptune with a rocky core surrounded by ices and a hydrogen/helium atmosphere. The third model has no equivalent in our solar system -- a big, rocky world with a soupy mix of gases (mainly hydrogen) recently emitted by volcanoes.

To study the planet's atmosphere, the team observed it when it crossed in front of its star. During such transits, the star's light filters through the atmosphere. Gases absorb the starlight at particular wavelengths, or colors, leaving behind a chemical fingerprint detectable from Earth. Similar observations have found gases like hydrogen and sodium vapor in the atmospheres of distant "hot Jupiters."

"This is the first super-Earth to have its atmosphere analyzed. We've reached a real milestone on the road toward characterizing these worlds," stated Bean.

Commenting on the work, Harvard astronomer David Charbonneau, who is not involved in the recent study but led the team that discovered GJ 1214b, agreed. "In less than 10 years, we've gone from studying the atmospheres of alien worlds like Jupiter, to Neptunes, to super-Earths. Earth-sized worlds are next, although they'll be the most difficult."

The spectrum of GJ 1214b proved to be featureless, which ruled out a cloud-free atmosphere composed primarily of hydrogen. If the atmosphere of GJ 1214b has abundant hydrogen, then it must be cloaked by a thick blanket of clouds (like Venus) or haze (like Saturn's moon Titan). A dense, steamy atmosphere also fits the data.

"It would have to be very dense -- about one-fifth water vapor by volume," explained Bean. "Compared to our Earth, with an atmosphere that's four-fifths nitrogen and one-fifth oxygen with only a touch of water vapor."

The team examined GJ 1214b in the near-infrared region of the spectrum (780 -- 1000 nanometers) using the ground-based Very Large Telescope at Paranal Observatory in Chile. Additional observations in the mid- or far-infrared might finally answer the question: Is the atmosphere of GJ 1214b steamy or gassy?

"A lot of people are putting this planet under a microscope," said Bean. "In the next year, we should have some solid answers about what it's truly like."

A paper reporting these results will appear in the Dec. 2nd issue of the journal Nature. Bean's co-authors are Eliza Miller-Ricci Kempton (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Derek Homeier (Institute for Astrophysics, Gottingen).

Dr Hook / Sylvia's mother said



Babies Process Language in a Grown-Up Way

(Jan. 9, 2011) — Babies, even those too young to talk, can understand many of the words that adults are saying -- and their brains process them in a grown-up way.
Combining the cutting-edge technologies of MRI and MEG, scientists at the University of California, San Diego show that babies just over a year old process words they hear with the same brain structures as adults, and in the same amount of time. Moreover, the researchers found that babies were not merely processing the words as sounds, but were capable of grasping their meaning.
This study was jointly led by Eric Halgren, PhD, professor of radiology in the School of Medicine, Jeff Elman, PhD, professor of cognitive science in the Division of Social Sciences, and first author, Katherine E. Travis, of the Department of Neurosciences and the Multimodal Imaging Laboratory, all at UC San Diego. The work is published this week in the Oxford University Press journal Cerebral Cortex.
"Babies are using the same brain mechanisms as adults to access the meaning of words from what is thought to be a mental 'database' of meanings, a database which is continually being updated right into adulthood," said Travis.
Previously, many people thought infants might use an entirely different mechanism for learning words, and that learning began primitively and evolved into the process used by adults. Determining the areas of the brain responsible for learning language, however, has been hampered by a lack of evidence showing where language is processed in the developing brain.
While lesions in two areas called Broca's and Wernicke's (frontotemporal) areas have long been known to be associated with loss of language skills in adults, such lesions in early childhood have little impact on language development. To explain this discordance, some have proposed that the right hemisphere and inferior frontal regions are initially critical for language, and that classical language areas of adulthood become dominant only with increasing linguistic experience. Alternatively, other theories have suggested that the plasticity of an infant's brain allows other regions to take over language-learning tasks if left frontotemporal regions are damaged at an early age.
In addition to studying effects of brain deficits, language systems can be determined by identifying activation of different cortical areas in response to stimuli. In order to determine if infants use the same functional networks as adults to process word meaning, the researchers used MEG -- an imaging process that measures tiny magnetic fields emitted by neurons in the brain -- and MRI to noninvasively estimate brain activity in 12 to 18-month old infants.
In the first experiment, the infants listened to words accompanied by sounds with similar acoustic properties, but no meaning, in order to determine if they were capable of distinguishing between the two. In the second phase, the researchers tested whether the babies were capable of understanding the meaning of these words. For this experiment, babies saw pictures of familiar objects and then heard words that were either matched or mismatched to the name of the object: a picture of a ball followed by the spoken word ball, versus a picture of a ball followed by the spoken word dog.
Brain activity indicated that the infants were capable of detecting the mismatch between a word and a picture, as shown by the amplitude of brain activity. The "mismatched," or incongruous, words evoked a characteristic brain response located in the same left frontotemporal areas known to process word meaning in the adult brain. The tests were repeated in adults to confirm that the same incongruous picture/word combinations presented to babies would evoke larger responses in left frontotemporal areas.
"Our study shows that the neural machinery used by adults to understand words is already functional when words are first being learned," said Halgren, "This basic process seems to embody the process whereby words are understood, as well as the context for learning new words." The researchers say their results have implications for future studies, for example development of diagnostic tests based on brain imaging which could indicate whether a baby has healthy word understanding even before speaking, enabling early screening for language disabilities or autism.
Additional contributors include Matthew K. Leonard, Timothy T. Brown, Donald J. Hagler, Jr., Megan Curran, and Anders M. Dale, all of UC San Diego School of Medicine.
The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

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