Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



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Submission + - Google Ready to Prove Quantum Computing

brindafella writes: Google is on the cusp of a milestone in the history of computing, hoping later in 2017 to test a representative "quantum chip" with a 49 qubit matrix that achieves “quantum supremacy”, meaning it can perform a particular calculation that’s beyond the reach of any conventional computer. The Google team already has a quantum chip with a 2x3 matrix of qubits. The Google team is led by Professor John Martinis of University of California, Santa Barbara.

Submission + - Arachnophobia (Fear of Spiders) - What Part Sex Plays In It

brindafella writes: Women and girls have a greater dislike of spiders than men/boys. So, what is the place of sex hormones in arachnophobia? Researchers at the University of New South Wales (Australia) have studied anxiety responses to spiders and monthly cycles, and propose that spider exposure therapy can be scheduled when hormones will best allow it to succeed. "If we demonstrate that there are fluctuations in treatment response due to hormone levels it would certainly have big implications for how we should be treating women in the future," Dr Bronwyn Graham said.

Submission + - Public Crowd-sourcing Finds New Exoplanets

brindafella writes: A participant in a TV program "Stargazing Live" on Australia's ABC TV channel has found four planets closely orbiting a star, using an online database. Astrophysicist Dr Chris Lintott, the principal investigator of Zooniverse, reported on Thursday's show that four "super-Earth" planets had been identified in the data. They orbit closer to their star than Mercury does to our Sun. The person responsible for the find, Andrew Grey, is a mechanic by day and amateur astronomer in his spare time, and lives in the city of Darwin, Northern Territory. The data is sourced from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. "Stargazing Live" host Professor Brian Cox said he could not be more excited about the discovery. "In the seven years I've been making Stargazing Live this is the most significant scientific discovery we've ever made. The results are astonishing."

Submission + - Mapping the brain functions of extinct animals

brindafella writes: How can scientists map the brain functions of an extinct animal? The technique is called diffusion tensor imaging, and it has recently mapped the preserved brains of two thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), extinct as of 1936 in Tasmania, the island state of Australia. Thylacine were the largest known carnivorous marsupial (pouched mammal) of modern times. Diffusion tensor imaging looks at how water diffuses inside parts of the brain. Using it with traditional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers mapped how molecules moved through the brain of the thylacine while it was alive to reveal the neural wiring of different brain regions. They tested the technique with a brain of a similar animal, a Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), preserved at about the same time, and the brain of a recently deceased Devil.

Submission + - SPAM: Progress MS-04 resupply mission to ISS - failure

brindafella writes: The Russian Progress MS-04 resupply mission to the International Space Station will not be arriving. It seems that the Stage 3 of the Soyuz rocket had a problem that caused around 2-3 minutes too little of boost to orbit. The mission components broke up at high altitude during an uncontrolled re-entry over the Republic of Tuva, about 2,000 kilometers east of the launch site in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. MS-04 was carrying "5,383 pounds (2,442 kilograms) of cargo, a figure encompassing 1,565 pounds (710 kilograms) of propellant to be pumped into the Zvezda module’s fuel tanks, 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of fresh water, 114 pounds (52 kilograms) of oxygen, and 2,777 pounds (1,260 pounds) of dry cargo", including a new Orlan spacesuit.

Submission + - The ancestor of humans was an 'artist' 500,000 years ago

brindafella writes: Our ancient ancestor, Homo erectus, around 500,000 years ago, has been shown to make doodles or patterns. So, it seems that we Homo sapiens have come from a thoughtful lineage. The zig-zag markings cut into the covering of a fossil freshwater shell were from a deposit in the main bone layer of Trinil (Java, Indonesia), the place where Homo erectus was discovered by Eugène Dubois in 1891, says Dr Stephen Munro, a palaeoanthropologist with the Australian National University. The team's testing shows the erectus doodling was from 0.54 million years to a minimum of 0.43 million years ago. This pushes back the thoughtful making of marks by hundreds of thousands of years. The thoughtful gathering of shellfish and their nutrients also points to possible explanations for the evolving of bigger brains.

Submission + - Standing rock on Mars.

brindafella writes: A boulder rolling down a hill normally does not deserve even passing mention. But a boulder on Mars may well generate several academic papers, especially as it landed standing up like a stele, Stonehenge-style. It also left a distintive trail, as seen by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recorded this view on July 3, 2014.

Submission + - Stem cell research breakthrough from transparent fish 1

brindafella writes: Australian scientists have accidentally made one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research, by studying the transparent embryos of Zebrafish (Danio rerio). The fish can be photographed and their development studied over time, and the movies can be played backwards, to track back from key developmental stages to find the stem cell basis for various traits of the fish. This fundamental research started by studying muscles, but the blood stem cell breakthrough was a bonus. They've found out how hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), among the most important stem cells found in blood and bone marrow, is formed. The scientishs are based at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University. The research has been published in the Nature medical journal. This discovery could lead to the production of self-renewing stem cells in the lab to treat multiple blood disorders and diseases.

Submission + - Higgs boson: easy! Now, the underlying reason fr it.

brindafella writes: Physicists at the CERN's Large Hadron Colider (LHC) ATLAS experiment have been looking through the data, and have found enough of the extremely rare "W boson" (proton-proton) collisons that they can now declare their results; They have found why/how the Higgs does its job of imparting mass to other particles. This article tells how it works.

"Only about one in 100 trillion proton-proton collisions would produce one of these events," said Marc-André Pleier, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory who played a leadership role in the analysis of this result for the ATLAS collaboration. "You need to observe many [collisions] to see if the production rate is above or on par with predictions," Pleier said. "We looked through billions of proton-proton collisions produced at the LHC for a signature of these events—decay products that allow us to infer like Sherlock Holmes what happened in the event."

The analysis efforts started two years ago and were carried out in particular by groups from Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Michigan, and Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.

Submission + - ISEE-3 satellite is back in control

brindafella writes: In the last two days, the (Reboot Project for the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) satellite has commanded ISEE-3 from the Earth, using signals transmitted from the Aricebo Observatory. Signals were also received by cooperating dishes: the 21-meter dish located at Kentucky's Morehead State University Space Science Center; the 20-meter dish antenna in Bochum Observatory, Germany, operated by AMSAT Germany; and, SETI's Allen Telescope Array (ATA), California. ISEE-3 was launched in 1978, and last commanded in 1999 by NASA. On May 15, 2014, the project reached its crowdfunding goal of US$125,000, which will cover the costs of writing the software to communicate with the probe, searching through the NASA archives for the information needed to control the spacecraft, and buying time on the dish antennas. The project then set a "stretch goal" of $150,000, which it also met with a final total of $159,502 raised. The goal is to be able to command the spacecraft to fire its engines to enter an Earth orbit, and then be usable for further space exploration. This satellite does not even have a computer; it is all "hard-wired".

Submission + - Fishing line as artificial 'muscle' (sciencemag.org)

brindafella writes: Researchers have made what they describe as an "almost embarrassing" discovery, that twisted nylon fishing line can form a "powerful, large-stroke, high-stress artificial muscles" capable of lifting as much as 100 times more weight than human muscles and contracting by 49%, and "generate 5.3 kilowatts of mechanical work per kilogram of muscle weight, similar to that produced by a jet engine." They twisted the fishing line, then heated it to 'set' the shape-memory muscle. The scientists are from the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at the University of Wollongong, and the University of Texas. It's published in Science magazine.

Submission + - 3D model of Australia's Great Barrier Reef & Choral Sea

brindafella writes: Research from James Cook University's Dr Robin Beaman has aggregated data into a new high-resolution bathymetry model of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, called gbr100. The 100 metre-resolution gridded bathymetry dataset covers an area of about 3,000,000 km2, from the Gulf of Papua to northern New South Wales, and easterly into the deep Coral Sea. There is also a really interesting colour poster (909kB PDF) to download.

Submission + - 2013 Winners - Eureka Prizes - Australian Museum

brindafella writes: The 2013 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in 17 fields, covering: research and innovation; leadership and commercialisation; science communication and journalism;and school science.

Significant among the prizes were:

CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science — Winner: Professor Frank Caruso, University of Melbourne — This international nanotechnology expert has won the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science for his leadership in developing nanotechnology-enabled materials for biomedical applications.

Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Young Researcher — Winner: Dr Kerrie Wilson, University of Queensland — Targeted spending provides more bang for the buck when it comes to protecting threatened species, according to new guidelines developed by the University of Queensland’s Dr Kerrie Wilson.

Australian Museum University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize – Secondary — Winner: The Spectacular Spider, Brandon Gifford, Casino High School, NSW — A mini-documentary about spiders has won final-year school student Brandon Gifford the 2013 Australian Museum University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize for secondary students. It’s his third win in a row.

Submission + - Woman with cancer, re-implanted with ovarian tissue, is pregnant with twins. (abc.net.au)

brindafella writes: A world first! When Australian woman, Vali, was diagnosed with cancer, and treated, she was not looking at a good outcome. Yet, TWO cancer treatments later, she is pregnant with twin girls. Her ovaries were sectioned and frozen before the cancer treatment. She has had her own flesh implanted outside her pelvis. Eggs were gathered, IVF techniques used later with her male partner, and her uterus is now carrying two viable girls due to be born in about 3 months. Melbourne IVF's Associate Professor Kate Stern has explained the process today.

Submission + - What happens when a gorilla retires? Another zoo.

brindafella writes: The head gorilla at Australia's most prestigious zoo, Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, is about to be retired. Kibabu is a 'silverback' and, at age 36, is about to be taken away from his family and retired. His replacement is a 12-year-old silverback from France. It's a natural thing in the wild, but Kibabu is not going to be in a fight that he loses to a younger male. He'll just go. His new home in retirement will be another zoo, about 150km away, at Mogo.

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