sciencehabit writes: Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin—a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons—and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. Link to Original Source
sciencehabit writes: Talk about having a potty mouth. When Chinese soft-shelled turtles to relieve themselves, they just open wide, according to a new study. Researchers thought it was a little odd that, when the turtles were on dry land, they would stick their heads in puddles and swish water around in their mouths. The scientists thought maybe something else was going on besides respiration, so they bought Chinese soft-shelled turtles at a market in Singapore and found ways to collect their urine, like attaching a flexible latex tube to each one's underside. They found that the animals were getting rid of the vast majority of their urea, a major component of urine, through their mouths instead of their hind ends. The team speculates that this might be because animals have to drink a lot of water to make urine, which can be unhealthy in the saltier waters where these turtles spend some of their time. If they're just rinsing the water around in their mouths, they avoid having to get rid of all that salt. Link to Original Source
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Christian Science Monitor reports that despite an apparent prohibition on faster-than-light travel by Einstein’s theory of special relativity, applied mathematician James Hill and his colleague Barry Cox say the theory actually lends itself easily to a description of velocities that exceed the speed of light. "The actual business of going through the speed of light is not defined," says Hill whose research has been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A. "The theory we've come up with is simply for velocities greater than the speed of light." In effect, the singularity at the speed of light divides the universe into two: a world where everything moves slower than the speed of light, and a world where everything moves faster. The laws of physics in these two realms could turn out to be quite different. In some ways, the hidden world beyond the speed of light looks to be a strange one. Hill and Cox's equations suggest, for example, that as a spaceship traveling at super-light speeds accelerated faster and faster, it would lose more and more mass, until at infinite velocity, its mass became zero. "We are mathematicians, not physicists, so we've approached this problem from a theoretical mathematical perspective," says Dr Cox. "Should it, however, be proven that motion faster than light is possible, then that would be game changing. Our paper doesn't try and explain how this could be achieved, just how equations of motion might operate in such regimes.""
SchrodingerZ writes: "Two Americans have won the 2012 Nobel prize in Chemistry for their work in cell research. Their work involves the discovery and manipulation of the G-protein-coupled receptors, which detect signals outside the of cells they inhabit. 'The human body has about 1,000 kinds of such receptors, which enable it to respond to a wide variety of chemical signals, like adrenaline. Some receptors are in the nose, tongue and eyes, and let us sense smells, tastes and vision.' The winners are Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka . Lefkowitz, works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is a professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Kobilka, is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. Their research has helped create newer and more effective drugs with fewer side effects. More on G Protein-coupled Receptor research can be found here." Link to Original Source
DeTech writes: Harvard researchers are getting closer to their goal of developing a controllable micro air vehicle called the Robobee. The tiny robot was already capable of taking off under its own power, but until now it was completely out of control. By adding two control actuators beneath its wings, the robot can be programmed to pitch and roll. Link to Original Source
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists say that the recently discovered 520 million year old insect brain, the oldest brain ever discovered in an arthropod, is surprisingly complex for its age, and may be the earliest example on record of a modern brain structure.
Hailed as a “transformative discovery,” researchers said that the 3-inch-long fossilized extinct arthropod found in Yunnan Province, China, shows that insects evolved to have complex brains significantly earlier than previously thought.
Researchers said that the fossilized brain, which looks very similar to brains of modern insects, may provide a missing link that offers new insight on the evolutionary history of arthropods, a group of invertebrates that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans. Link to Original Source
major_lima writes: When a typical user downloads Ubuntu for free and installs it on a computer with a Windows license that the user did pay for, Canonical gets nothing in the form of payment. There's nothing wrong with that—this is the open source world, after all, and many people contribute to Ubuntu with code rather than money. But starting this week, Canonical is presenting desktop OS downloaders with an optional donation form... Once you donate, the Ubuntu desktop starts downloading. Or, you can just skip the donation and download the OS for free, just as you always could. For some reason, the donation page is not presented to Ubuntu Server users. Link to Original Source
The top US court declined to review a December 2011 appeals court decision that rejected a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the NSA monitor its customers' phone calls and Internet traffic. Plaintiffs argue that the law allows the executive branch to conduct "warrantless and suspicionless domestic surveillance" without fear of review by the courts and at the sole discretion of the attorney general. The Obama administration has argued to keep the immunity law in place, saying it would imperil national security to end such cooperation between the intelligence agencies and telecom companies.
The Supreme Court is set to hear a separate case later this month in which civil liberties' group are suing NSA officials for authorizing unconstitutional wiretapping. Link to Original Source
derekmead writes: A new paper from Conor Myhrvold, Howard Stone, and Elie Bou-Zeid of Princeton, published in PLoS One, shows that elephants’ sparse hair actually acts as pin-shaped cooling fins, which helps the giant animals dissipate heat more effectively. The hair works by creating more area for heat to be released, while also also pushing heat away from the animal’s body where wind flow is less impeded.
The team calculated the heat transfer coefficients for measured values of elephants’ smooth skin (around ears, for example) and rough skin (on the legs), both with and without hair. They found that, at high wind speeds, the convection effect of the wind overpowered any surface differences. But at low wind speeds, when convection effects are lower and elephants have more trouble shedding heat, the team found that hair acted as pin-shaped cooling fins, which increased convection cooling efficiency by as much as 24 percent. For elephants dealing with huge thermal loads, that’s an important difference. Link to Original Source
itwbennett writes: "ICANN wants to store more data (including credit card information) about domain name registrations in its Whois database, wants to hold on to that data for two years after registration ends, and wants to force registrant contact information to be re-verified annually — moves that are applauded by David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The E.U.'s Article 29 Working Group is markedly less enthusiastic, saying ICANN's plans trample on citizens' right to privacy." Link to Original Source
coondoggie writes: "What are the next Big Things in science and technology? Teleportation? Unlimited clean Energy? The scientists and researchers at DARPA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy put out a public call this week for ideas that could form what they call the Grand Challenges — ambitious yet achievable goals that that would herald serious breakthroughs in science and technology." Link to Original Source
kenekaplan writes: "NASA has used VxWorks for several deep space missions, including Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. When the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) needs to run stress tests or simulations for upgrades and fixes to the OS, Wind River’s Mike Deliman gets the call. In a recent interview, Deliman, a senior member of the technical staff at Wind River, which is owned by Intel, gave a peek at the legacy technology under Curiosity’s hood and recalled the emergency call he got when an earlier Mars mission hit a software snag after liftoff." Link to Original Source
The Bad Astronomer writes: "Using the newly-commissioned ALMA radio observatory, astronomers have taken detailed images of one of the most amazing objects in the sky: the red giant R Sculptoris. As the star dies, it undergoes gigantic seizures beneath its surface that blast out waves of gas and dust from the surface. These normally expand into a spherical shell, but the presence of a nearby companion star changes things. The combined orbits of the two stars fling out the material like a garden sprinkler, forming enormous and incredibly beautiful spiral arms. Measuring the size and shape of the spiral shows the last eruption was 1800 years ago, lasted for nearly two centuries, and expelled enough material to make a thousand earths."
another random user writes: A US team aims to build a robot that can work out how to use nearby objects to solve problems or escape threats.
The machine has been dubbed a MacGyver Bot, after the TV character who cobbled together devices to escape life-threatening situations.
The challenge is to develop software that "understands" what objects are in order to deduce how they can be used.
The US Navy is funding the project and says the machines might ultimately be deployed alongside humans. It is providing $900,000 to robotics researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to carry out the work. Link to Original Source
daem0n1x writes: Ireland, Greece and Portugal have been under draconian austerity measures after they have been forced to ask financial rescue from the IMF, in the aftermath of the 2008 bank crash. The results of these austerity measures are well known: Recession, unemployment and general social and economic meltdown. After all this pain and suffering, the IMF suddenly finds a gigantic flaw in the formulas used to calculate the economic effects of austerity. Well, at least they stepped forward to recognise they screwed up. But is it in still time for European and global economies to recover? How is it possible that worldwide economic policies be conducted by such flawed systems? Numerous economists have been warning about this for years, but they faced deaf ears. Sounds familiar? Yes, just like before the subprime bubble bust. Link to Original Source
another random user writes: Few researchers have given credence to claims that samples of dinosaur DNA have survived to the present day, but no one knew just how long it would take for genetic material to fall apart. Now, a study of fossils found in New Zealand is laying the matter to rest — and putting paid to hopes of cloning a Tyrannosaurus rex.
After cell death, enzymes start to break down the bonds between the nucleotides that form the backbone of DNA, and micro-organisms speed the decay. In the long run, however, reactions with water are thought to be responsible for most bond degradation. Groundwater is almost ubiquitous, so DNA in buried bone samples should, in theory, degrade at a set rate.
Determining that rate has been difficult because it is rare to find large sets of DNA-containing fossils with which to make meaningful comparisons. To make matters worse, variable environmental conditions such as temperature, degree of microbial attack and oxygenation alter the speed of the decay process.
By comparing the specimens' ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on. Link to Original Source