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Submission + - New material expands when you squeeze it - mind-bending the laws of physics (anl.gov)

trendspotter writes:

When you squeeze something, it gets smaller. Unless you’re at Argonne National Laboratory. At the suburban Chicago laboratory, a group of scientists has seemingly defied the laws of physics and found a way to apply pressure to make a material expand instead of compress/contract. (...) Because this behavior seems impossible, Karena Chapman, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy laboratory, and her colleagues spent several years testing and retesting the material until they believed the unbelievable and understood how the impossible could be possible. For every experiment, they got the same mind-bending results


Submission + - Brain cells made from urine (nature.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: Scientists have found a relatively straightforward way to persuade the cells discarded in human urine to turn into valuable neurons.

The technique, described online in a study in Nature Methods this week1, does not involve embryonic stem cells. These come with serious drawbacks when transplanted, such as the risk of developing tumours. Instead, the method uses ordinary cells present in urine, and transforms them into neural progenitor cells — the precursors of brain cells.

Researchers routinely reprogram cultured skin and blood cells2 into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can go on to form any cell in the body. But urine is a much more accessible source.

Submission + - Astronomers detect and 'weigh' very young solar system

ogre7299 writes: Astronomers have found direct evidence of a forming proto-solar system and 'weighed' the forming star for the first time as repored in a recent Nature paper paywalled arXiv version and highlighted on space.com
Beneath a dusty disk of creation, a baby star's mass has been measured for the first time. The star, called L1527 IRS, is only one-fifth the mass of the sun, and is expected to keep growing as the swirling disk of matter surrounding it falls into its surface. Astronomers estimated the star formed around the same time that Neanderthals evolved on Earth: just 300,000 years ago.
Patents

Submission + - Apple Loses German Court Bid to Ban Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N, Nexus Phone

chrb writes: Apple has failed to get a patent ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N and the Nexus phone in Germany. Presiding Judge Andreas Mueller stated "Samsung has shown that it is more likely than not that the patent will be revoked because of a technology that was already on the market before the intellectual property had been filed for protection". The patent in question covered list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display. This news follows the recent Appeals court ruling that upheld the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban.

Submission + - Russians may find new life in Subglacial Lake Vostok (wired.co.uk)

N!NJA writes: Those who had the privilege of watching the fascinating documentary The Lost World of Lake Vostok on BBC's Horizon, know that this lake has been buried under 4km (14,000 ft) of ice for millions of years and might be inhabited by never-before-seen species of microbes, fish, plants and animals. More about the lake on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Vostok. Now, the Russian scientists that have drilled towards the lake since the 90's are close to reaching its waters.

After 20 years of drilling, a team of Russian researchers is close to breaching the prehistoric Lake Vostok, which has been trapped deep beneath Antarctica for the last 14 million years. Vostok is the largest in a sub-glacial web of more than 200 lakes that are hidden 4 km beneath the ice. Some of the lakes formed when the continent was much warmer and still connected to Australia. The lakes are rich in oxygen (making them oligotrophic), with levels of the element some 50 times higher than what would be found in your typical freshwater lake. The high gas concentration is thought to be because of the enormous weight and pressure of the continental ice cap.

If life exists in Vostok, it will have to be an extremophile — a life form that has adapted to survive in extreme environments. The organism would have to withstand high pressure, constant cold, low nutrient input, high oxygen concentration and an absence of sunlight. The conditions in Lake Vostok are thought to be similar to the conditions on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus. In June, NASA probe Cassini found the best evidence yet for a massive saltwater reservoir beneath the icy surface of Enceladus. This all means that finding life in the inhospitable depths of Vostok would strengthen the case for life in the outer solar system.


Open Source

Submission + - How Far Should GPL Enforcement Go? (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: "The debate over enforcement of the GPL flared up again this week when Red Hat kernel developer Matthew Garrett wrote in a blog post that Sony is looking to rewrite BusyBox to sidestep the GPL. Which is a perfectly legal undertaking. But it raises the question: 'Is there social pressure within the Linux kernel community to not undertake GPL compliance action?' writes blogger Brian Proffitt. 'This may not be nefarious: maybe people just would rather not bother with enforcing compliance. Better, they may argue, to just let the violation go and get on with developing better code.'"
Earth

Submission + - Are We Ready for a Solar Radiation Katrina? 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "Every few decades, the sun experiences a particularly large storm that can release as much energy as 1 billion hydrogen bombs. Now NPR reports that an exercise held in Boulder, Colorado, has investigated what might happen if the Earth were struck by a solar storm as intense as the huge storms that occurred in 1921 and 1859 — a sort of solar Katrina — and that researchers found that the impact is likely to be far worse than in previous solar storms because of our growing dependence on satellites and other electronic devices that are vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation. "In many ways, the impact of a major solar storm resembles that of a hurricane or an earthquake," says FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate except a solar Katrina would cause damage in a much larger area than any natural disaster e.g. power could be knocked out almost simultaneously in countries from Sweden to Canada and the US so a lot more people in a lot more places would need help. In the exercise, the first sign of trouble came when radiation began disrupting radio signals and GPS devices, says Tom Bogdan, who directs the Space Weather Prediction Center. Ten or 20 minutes later electrically charged particles "basically took out" most of the commercial satellites that transmit telephone conversations, TV shows and huge amounts of data we depend on in our daily lives. But the worst damage came nearly a day later, when the solar storm began to induce electrical currents in high voltage power lines strong enough to destroy transformers around the globe leaving millions of people in northern latitudes without power. "It's one of those events that is of low probability but high consequence," says Dr. Roberta Balstad, a research scientist with Columbia University's Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. "The consequences could be extreme.""

Submission + - What Turns A Sperm On; Why Potheads Shoot Blanks (bbc.co.uk)

rubycodez writes: It has long been known that the internal pH of a spermatazoa governs how active it is, a sperm most increase its alkalinity to start swimming furiously. This normally happens deep in the female reproductive tract, and University of California scientists have found mechanism for the response. When a sperm encounters anandamide, which is a known neuron affecting endocannabinoid, it releases positively charged hydrogen ions, protons, from its pores. This raises the internal pH and triggers aggressive swimming. Interestingly, they hypothesize that cannabinoids in marijuana might have the same effect, causing sperm to prematurely become active and exhaust their energy reserves long before they reach egg territory. While not mentioned in the article it would seem that goddamned hippie-dad wannabes are advised to forgo the reefer for a time to ensure production of quality baby batter.

Submission + - Russia Says Apophis will Certainly Hit The Earth (usatoday.com) 3

rubycodez writes: USA Today reports that Russia wishes to start a new space project to deflect the asteroid 99942 Apophis, which instead of missing the earth as NASA claims, will certainly hit it by Russian calculations. They aren't going to let Bruce Willis blow it the hell up with nu-cu-lar weapons, instead planning on using "basic physics" to alter its trajectory.

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