c0mpliant writes: NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have released a simulation of the path of an asteroid, named Apophis, that will come closest to Earth, since humans have monitored for such heavenly bodies. The asteroid, which once held an above 2% chance of impacting Earth, had caused a bit of a scare when it was first announced that it would enter Earth's neighborhood some 30 years in the future.
However since that announcement in 2004, more recent calculations have put the number at 1 in 250'000. The simulation can viewed here.
John Bryson writes: "Eating less of one amino acid might lengthen your life. There have been lots of previous studies showing that many species live long on highly restricted calories, but a lot of this benefit may be possible by only restricting one amino acid. Amino acids that have shown this have been tryptophan and methionine. A recent study, published online December 2 in Nature, a highly respected journal, may help explain some of the health benefits of restricted-calorie diets. Grandison, R.C., Piper, M.D.W., and Partridge, L. 2009. Amino-acid imbalance explains extension of lifespan by dietary restriction in Drosophila. Nature, published online Dec. 2. doi:10.1038/nature08619"
archatheist writes: Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have engineered a mouse whose FOXP2 gene has been swapped out for (different) human version. This is interesting because the gene is implicated in human language, and this has changed how mice squeak. Forget planet of the apes... get your tiny paws off me, you darn dirty mouse!
from the it's-covered-in-jam dept.
cheros writes "NASA reports that the Spirit Mars lander is presently stuck in soft soil. The lander's wheels are halfway sunk into the soil and they are planning simulation tests to see if they can get it out again. I hope they can get it out of there because it's picking up enough new energy to operate; however, it only has 5 wheels left to get around on — one of the wheels hasn't been working for years. Fingers crossed."
Rational Egoist writes: "A new study from Tel Aviv University shows that teens who played violent video games, such as UT2k4 and Call of Duty 2, enhanced their ability "to discriminate between subtle contrasts in color or shades of gray", as compared to teens playing games with lower levels of visual-motor coordination, such as The Sims. From the article: "After playing 50 hours of the assigned game over 9 weeks, the students who played the more violent action games showed a 43% improvement, on average, in their ability to discern between very close shades of gray. The players assigned to the Sims game showed no improvement." It's even being suggested as a possible alternative to eye surgery. The full article is available online from Nature Neuroscience."