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+ - Complex life may be possible in only 10% of all galaxies->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The universe may be a lonelier place than previously thought. Of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, only one in 10 can support complex life like that on Earth, a pair of astrophysicists argues. Everywhere else, stellar explosions known as gamma ray bursts would regularly wipe out any life forms more elaborate than microbes. The detonations also kept the universe lifeless for billions of years after the big bang, the researchers say."
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+ - Underwater robot takes stock of Antarctica's sea ice from below->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have used an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) named SeaBED that is armed with upward-looking sonar to map the underside of sea ice in Antarctica. During two different research expeditions, in the mid- to late springs of 2010 and 2012, the AUV—which resembles a 2-meter-long bunk bed with twin hulls stacked on top of one another—traveled back and forth through several different Southern Ocean waters in a lawn mower–like pattern at depths of 20 to 30 meters under the ice to collect a 3D survey of the topography of the sea ice’s underbelly. After compiling 10 floe-scale maps of the ice from the Weddell, Bellingshausen, and the Wilkes Land regions of the continent, the researchers found that the sea ice thickness tended to be highly variable, with many ridges and valleys. On average, Antarctic sea ice may be considerably thicker than once thought, which could significantly change how scientists assess sea ice dynamics and their interactions with the ocean in a warming world."
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+ - Space rock impacts not random->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When it comes to small space rocks blowing up in Earth’s atmosphere, not all days are created equal. Scientists have found that, contrary to what they thought, such events are not random, and these explosions may occur more frequently on certain days. Rather than random occurrences, many large airbursts might result from collisions between Earth and streams of debris associated with small asteroids or comets. The new findings may help astronomers narrow their search for objects in orbits that threaten Earth, the researchers suggest."
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+ - Arctic faces an ice-pocalypse-> 1

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Thick sheets of ice coating roads, homes, and pastures. Dead reindeer, no radio transmissions, and flights canceled for days. When ice came to this Arctic mining outpost on the Svalbard archipelago two winters ago, it crippled the community for weeks and devastated wildlife for months. Now, scientists are saying such weather extremes in the Arctic—known as rain-on-snow events—may become more frequent in the future."
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+ - Possible orphan black hole lies just 90 million light-years from Earth->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "An unusual object about 90 million light-years from Earth might be a supermassive black hole kicked out of its home galaxy during a collision with another galaxy, a new study suggests. If so, it’s the first evictee to be confirmed as such by astronomers. The object, dubbed SDSS1133, lies about 2600 light-years from the center of a dwarf galaxy known as Markarian 177 (both of which lie within the bowl of the Big Dipper, a familiar star pattern in the constellation Ursa Major). SDSS1133 has brightened substantially over the past 2 years but has been spotted in images taken by various instruments during the past 63 years, hinting that the object—whose brightest features measure less than 40 light-years across—probably isn’t a recently exploded supernova. Recent observations of Markarian 177 reveal specific areas of intense star formation, possible signs of a recent galactic collision that expelled SDSS1133 from the parent galaxy where it once resided."
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+ - Researchers discover ancient massive landslide-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For decades, geologists have noted the signs of ancient landslides in southwestern Utah. Although many parts of the landscape don’t look that odd at first glance, certain layers include jumbled masses of fractured rock sandwiched among thick veins of lava, ash, and mud. Now, new fieldwork suggests that many of those ancient debris flows are the result of one of Earth’s largest known landslides, which covered an area nearly 39 times the size of Manhattan."
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+ - Viruses help keep the gut healthy->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Ebola, flu, and colds have given viruses a bad rap. But there may be a good side to these tiny packages of genetic material. Researchers studying mice have shown that a virus can help maintain and restore a healthy gut in much the same way that friendly bacteria do. The work "shows for the first time that a virus can functionally substitute for a bacterium and provide beneficial effects," says Julie Pfeiffer, a virologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas who was not involved with the study. "It's shocking.""
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+ - Fish tagged for research become lunch for gray seals->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When scientists slap an acoustic tag on a fish, they may be inadvertently helping seals find their next meal. The tags, rods a few centimeters long that give off a ping that can be detected from up to a kilometer away, are often used to follow fish for studies on their migration, hunting, or survival rates. Researchers working with 10 gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) who were captive for a year have now reported that the animals—including the female seal pictured above, named Janice—can learn to associate the pings with food. If the findings hold true in the wild, the authors warn, they could skew the results of studies trying to analyze fish survival rates or predation."
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+ - Gecko-inspired adhesives allow people to climb walls->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In the 2011 movie Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise climbs the exterior of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, using nothing more than a pair of gloves. Now, scientists have invented the real deal: hand-sized, gecko-inspired adhesives that can lift a human up glass walls—and that one day may even catch space junk. “This is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in years,” says biomechanist Kellar Autumn of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, who was not involved with the study."
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+ - Electric shock study suggests we'd rather hurt ourselves than others->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If you had the choice between hurting yourself or someone else in exchange for money, how altruistic do you think you’d be? In one infamous experiment, people were quite willing to deliver painful shocks to anonymous victims when asked by a scientist. But a new study that forced people into the dilemma of choosing between pain and profit finds that participants cared more about other people’s well-being than their own. It is hailed as the first hard evidence of altruism for the young field of behavioral economics."
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+ - Helmet magnets could reduce football concussions->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Football has always been a violent sport. In the 1950s, when hard, polycarbonate shells replaced leather football helmets, the number of game-related fatalities plummeted. But hundreds of thousands of football-related concussions still occur every year. Now, one researcher is trying to harness the repulsive forces of magnets to reduce the impact of head-to-head collisions before they occur. The idea is far from ready for the football field. It’s being tested in the lab, using machines for now. But one helmet expert says the strategy is worth pursuing given the seriousness of the problem."
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+ - Study of gay brothers may confirm X chromosome link to homosexuality->

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sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Dean Hamer finally feels vindicated. More than 20 years ago, in a study that triggered both scientific and cultural controversy, the molecular biologist offered the first direct evidence of a “gay gene,” by identifying a stretch on the X chromosome likely associated with homosexuality. But several subsequent studies called his finding into question. Now the largest independent replication effort so far, looking at 409 pairs of gay brothers, fingers the same region on the X. “When you first find something out of the entire genome, you’re always wondering if it was just by chance,” says Hamer, who asserts that new research “clarifies the matter absolutely.”"
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+ - Kisses transfer 80 million bacteria->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Every time you share a long kiss with your partner, you transfer 80 million bacteria to his or her mouth. That’s the somewhat icky conclusion of a new study of 21 intimate couples at a zoo in Amsterdam. To estimate just how many bacteria are transferred during make-out sessions, the team asked one of the partners to drink a probiotic yogurt, which is filled with bacteria not commonly found in the mouth. The test revealed that people transfer about 80 million bacteria to each other during a kiss, as the team reports today in Microbiome. That may sound like a lot, but the mouth is home to about a billion bacteria. So perhaps it’s not so icky after all."
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+ - How to anesthetize an octopus->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have figured out how to anesthetize octopuses so the animals do not feel pain while being transported and handled during scientific experiments. In a study published online this month in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, researchers report immersing 10 specimens of the common octopus in seawater with isoflurane, an anesthetic used in humans. They gradually increased the concentration of the substance from 0.5% to 2%. The investigators found that the animals lost the ability to respond to touch and their color paled, which means that their normal motor coordination of color regulation by the brain was lost, concluding that the animals were indeed anesthetized. The octopuses then recovered from the anesthesia within 40 to 60 minutes of being immersed in fresh seawater without the anesthetic, as they were able to respond to touch again and their color was back to normal. (Video)"
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+ - U.S. to build two new world-class supercomputers-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today two major efforts to push supercomputing power well beyond where it is today. DOE will spend $325 million on two extreme-scale computers to be built at national labs in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Livermore, California. The agency will spend another $100 million on FastForward 2, a program designed to improve software and applications that will run on the new machines. Though the specifications for the new machines are still in flux, they’re expected to run at top speeds of between 100 and 300 petaflops. (Each petaflop is equal to 1015 floating-point operations per second.) That’s considered a key milestone toward the goal of creating the first exascale (1018 flops) supercomputer, the next major landmark in high-performance computing."
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