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Science Online

Science Online

A room dedicated to online scientific communication. Previously: Science Blogging 2008.
Genius knight
Nanoparticles boost solar-energy capture by plants -
Nanoparticles boost solar-energy capture by plants
The team believes that the discovery could be exploited in a new field dubbed plant "nanobionics", whereby nanoparticles could enhance natural functions in ordinary plants and also be used to create artificial plant-like systems that grow and repair themselves using sunlight and water. Potential applications include biochemical detectors for monitoring pollutants in the environment and perhaps even new technologies that would help increase crop yields. - Halil from Bookmarklet
exciting - Halil
Eric Logan
Proof of Inflationary Universe To Be Announced? -
Proof of Inflationary Universe To Be Announced?
Rumors are racing through the physics and cosmology communities this weekend that long-sought, Nobel Prize-worthy evidence for cosmic inflation driving the Big Bang will be announced on Monday, March 17th. A press conference for an unspecified "major discovery" is scheduled for noon EDT (16:00 UT) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, just up the street from Sky & Telescope. We'll be there. Word of what may be announced first broke into wide circulation late Friday night, when The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. published an article online, Gravitational waves: have US scientists heard echoes of the big bang? Here are excerpts: - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Should biotech make life hellish for criminals? -
Should biotech make life hellish for criminals?
Even in my most religious moments, I have never been able to take the idea of hell seriously. Prevailing Christian theology asks us to believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing being would do what no human parent could ever do: create tens of billions of flawed and fragile creatures, pluck out a few favourites to shower in transcendent love, and send the rest to an eternity of unrelenting torment. That story has always seemed like an intellectual relic to me, a holdover from barbarism, or worse, a myth meant to coerce belief. But stripped of the religious particulars, I can see the appeal of hell as an instrument of justice, a way of righting wrongs beyond the grave. Especially in unusual circumstances. Take the case of Adolf Hitler. On the afternoon of 29 April 1945, Hitler was stashed deep in his Berlin bunker, watching his Third Reich collapse, when he received word that Benito Mussolini was dead. Hitler was aghast at the news, not because he’d lost yet another ally, but because of... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Dementia Risk Heightened In Low IQ Teenagers - Health News - redOrbit -
In a statement, researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy said that they had previously discovered a link between cardiovascular fitness at or before the age of 18 and health later on in life. In this new study, however, they conducted an analysis of the medical data of more than one million young Swedish men and found that poor physical and cognitive health during their teenage years increased the risk of dementia before the age of 60. “Previous studies have shown the correlation between cardiovascular fitness and the risk of dementia in old age. Now, for the first time, we can show that the increased risk also applies to early-onset dementia and its precursors,” explained lead investigator and Sahlgrenska Academy researcher Jenny Nyberg. - Halil from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
California drought in context | Climate Etc. -
California drought in context | Climate Etc.
Zorawar Singh
DAMPE to reveal the dark secrets of dark matter
Molecules line up for X-ray diffraction -
Molecules line up for X-ray diffraction
A new X-ray diffraction technique that works on single organic molecules has been demonstrated by an international team of researchers. The team hopes that, with further development, the method could be used to work out protein structures and even investigate entire living cells. - Halil from Bookmarklet
This is well worth reading if you're familiar with and interested in X-ray crystallography techniques. - Halil
Eric Logan
Understanding the Past - Understanding the Present - Understanding the Future - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Climate less sensitive to CO2 than models suggest. -
Climate less sensitive to CO2 than models suggest.
The clues for this and the relevant scientific papers are all referred to in the recently published Fifth Assessment report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, this important conclusion was not drawn in the full IPCC report – it is only mentioned as a possibility – and is ignored in the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers (SPM). For over thirty years climate scientists have presented a range for climate sensitivity (ECS) that has hardly changed. It was 1.5-4.5°C in 1979 and this range is still the same today in AR5. The new report suggests that the inclusion of recent evidence, reflected in AR5, justifies a lower observationally-based temperature range of 1.25–3.0°C, with a best estimate of 1.75°C, for a doubling of CO2. By contrast, the climate models used for projections in AR5 indicate a range of 2-4.5°C, with an average of 3.2°C. This is one of the key findings of the new report Oversensitive: how the IPCC hid the good news on global warming,... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Chandra & XMM-Newton Provide Direct Measurement of Distant Black Hole's Spin March 5, 2014 -
Chandra & XMM-Newton Provide Direct Measurement of Distant Black Hole's Spin
 March 5, 2014
These spin measurements can give researchers important clues about how black holes grow over time. If black holes grow mainly from collisions and mergers between galaxies they should accumulate material in a stable disk, and the steady supply of new material from the disk should lead to rapidly spinning black holes. In contrast if black holes grow through many small accretion episodes, they will accumulate material from random directions. Like a merry go round that is pushed both backwards and forwards, this would make the black hole spin more slowly. The discovery that the black hole in RX J1131 is spinning at over half the speed of light suggests that this black hole has grown via mergers, rather than pulling material in from different directions. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Human Exoskeleton, The ‘Body Extender,’ Is ‘Most Complex Wearable Robot’ Ever Built -
Human Exoskeleton, The ‘Body Extender,’ Is ‘Most Complex Wearable Robot’ Ever Built
Engineers in Italy have created what is known as the “Body Extender,” a type of machine that humans can be strapped into like something out of Star Wars. At the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory, also known as Percro, engineers have created a robot that can carry humans, protect them, and move heavy objects as a form of exoskeleton, or skeleton outside of the body. “This is the most complex wearable robot that has been ever built in the world,” Fabio Salsedo of Percro told the BBC. “It’s a device which is able to track the complex movement of the human body and also to amplify the force of the operator.” The machine can lift about 50 kilograms (110 lbs.) in each of its hands, and can exert 10 times the force that the person inside applies. This gives humans super strength: a chance to pick up really heavy objects and throw them much farther than our natural bodies could. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking -
Meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking
That chicken wing you're eating could be as deadly as a cigarette. In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet—a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking. - Halil from Bookmarklet
Does this mean I have to become a vegan? - Halil
I'm interpreting it to mean I can either smoke or eat meat but never both #WhoWantsToLiveForever? - Victor Ganata from iPhone
Even though this study had a lot of problems, there are other studies that suggest high consumption of red meat increases the risk for colon cancer - Victor Ganata from iPhone
Everything causes cancer! - Big Joe Silence
Life is terminal. - Joe
^ This. - Friar Will
The diet they used was over 50% carbs, so it's hard to see how it's a high protein diet. - WoH: Professor MOTHRA
To be honest, I seriously doubt it's the protein that specifically increases your cancer risk. For one thing, it's impossible to survive on a no-protein diet. But certainly red meat, cheese, and processed foods contain other substances that could conceivably increase your risk. - Victor Ganata
Yah WoH, that seems to happen a lot in these kind of studies, the diets are actually high carb in combination with meat and cheese. - Todd Hoff
Even still, that would mean the diet with the higher carb proportion has lower risk. - Victor Ganata
Since you aren't testing all the options, say low carb, you are only saying high protein and high carb is a bad idea, which is not the same thing as saying low carb is a bad idea. - Todd Hoff
That's true. Still, I imagine it would be challenging to eat only protein and fat and still match the caloric intake of the average American. Otherwise what you'd really be testing are high carb/low protein/low fat diets with high calorie counts versus minimal carb/high protein/high fat diets with low calorie counts. - Victor Ganata
It's quite easy to get a target amount calories on a low carb diet. Not sure where is the difficulty. - Todd Hoff
It just seems like you'd have to eat a lot of steaks in one day to get to 2,000 kcal or thereabouts. - Victor Ganata
There's also nuts, eggs, cheese, nearly every vegetable under the sun, plus some fruit. Easy as pie. - Todd Hoff
Well, it looks like the study needs to be done. I know people have looked at how low-carb diets work a lot better than low-fat diets for obesity, but it doesn't look like anyone has really looked at any potential differences in colon cancer risk. - Victor Ganata
Eric Logan
Nobel Prize winner calls peer review “very distorted,” “completely corrupt,” and “simply a regression to the mean” | Retraction Watch -
Nobel Prize winner calls peer review “very distorted,” “completely corrupt,” and “simply a regression to the mean” | Retraction Watch
Sydney Brenner has been talking about what’s wrong with the scientific enterprise since long before he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. And in a new interview, Brenner doesn’t hold back, saying that publishers hire “a lot of failed scientists, editors who are just like the people at Homeland Security, little power grabbers in their own sphere.” In a King’s Review Q&A titled “How Academia and Publishing Are Destroying Scientific Innovation,” Brenner says: And of course all the academics say we’ve got to have peer review. But I don’t believe in peer review because I think it’s very distorted and as I’ve said, it’s simply a regression to the mean. I think peer review is hindering science. In fact, I think it has become a completely corrupt system. It’s corrupt in many ways, in that scientists and academics have handed over to the editors of these journals the ability to make judgment on science and scientists. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Zorawar Singh
Optical plasmonic tweezers wins over the manipulation fight with nano particles
Zorawar Singh
Drift mode accelerometers may replace the electrostatic accelerometers for future space observations
Eric Logan
Since the planet Earth doesn't have a birth certificate to record its formation, scientists have spent hundreds of years struggling to determine the age of the planet. By dating the rocks in the ever-changing crust, as well as neighbors such as the moon and visiting meteorites, scientists have calculated that Earth is 4.54 billion years old, with an error range of 50 million years. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
4.65 billion + 86 years because a 4C-6C rise in temperature is going to destroy it by 2100 AD. - MRW_8
Now your being sarcastic ;) - Eric Logan
You started it. ;-) - MRW_8
Eric Logan
Climate change: The case of the missing heat : Nature News & Comment -
Climate change: The case of the missing heat : Nature News & Comment
Climate change: The case of the missing heat : Nature News & Comment
Climate sceptics have seized on the temperature trends as evidence that global warming has ground to a halt. Climate scientists, meanwhile, know that heat must still be building up somewhere in the climate system, but they have struggled to explain where it is going, if not into the atmosphere. Some have begun to wonder whether there is something amiss in their models. Now, as the global-warming hiatus enters its sixteenth year, scientists are at last making headway in the case of the missing heat. Some have pointed to the Sun, volcanoes and even pollution from China as potential culprits, but recent studies suggest that the oceans are key to explaining the anomaly. The latest suspect is the El Niño of 1997–98, which pumped prodigious quantities of heat out of the oceans and into the atmosphere — perhaps enough to tip the equatorial Pacific into a prolonged cold state that has suppressed global temperatures ever since. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
On a chart of global atmospheric temperatures, the hiatus stands in stark contrast to the rapid warming of the two decades that preceded it. Simulations conducted in advance of the 2013–14 assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the warming should have continued at an average rate of 0.21 °C per decade from 1998 to 2012. Instead, the observed... more... - Eric Logan
Eric Logan
A Nobel laureate's formula for the universe | CERN -
A Nobel laureate's formula for the universe | CERN
Nobel laureate François Englert at CERN last week. The equation on the blackboard describes the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism that gives particles mass - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
He looks so smug. Like no one else has ever thought of that. Oh wait... - Ken Morley
Eric Logan
Squeak! Ancient Helium Escaping from Yellowstone. -
Squeak! Ancient Helium Escaping from Yellowstone.
Helium is just a tiny fraction of the gases escaping Yellowstone each day. The park produces about 350 lbs. (160 kilograms) of helium gas each day, but 44 million to 110 million lbs. (20 million to 50 million kg) of carbon dioxide daily, Lowenstern said. Even so, the quantity of helium-4 in Yellowstone's gas emissions is hundreds to thousands of times greater than it should be — a sign that the crust is releasing its ancient stores of the rare isotope, the researchers said. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
I remember reading some time ago that helium was getting harder to come by. Seems someone should find a way to capture what's being given off... - Spidra Webster
Eric Logan
Steyn et al. versus Mann | Climate Etc. -
Steyn et al. versus Mann | Climate Etc.
Mark Steyn has just filed to countersue Michael Mann for $20M. Excerpts: 130. Plaintiff [Mann] has engaged in a pattern of abusive litigation designed to chill freedom of speech and to stifle legitimate criticism of Plaintiff’s work. He is currently suing Dr Tim Ball in British Columbia over a hoary bit of word play (“should be in the state pen, not Penn State”) applied to innumerable Pennsylvanians over the years. Having initiated the suit, Dr Mann then stalled the discovery process, so that the BC suit is now entering its third year – Mann’s object being to use the process as a punishment, rather than any eventual trial and conviction. See Mann vs Ball et al, British Columbia VLC-S-S-111913 (2011) (exhibit attached). 131.At the other end of the spectrum, Plaintiff and his Counsel have issued demands that have no basis in law, as they well know – including the preposterous assertion, in response to a parody video by “Minnesotans for Global Warming”, that “Professor Mann’s likeness”... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Zorawar Singh
Zorawar Singh
neutrinos held responsible for the difference of matter at different locations in space
Eric Logan
APS March Meeting 2014 - Event - Causes and implications of the growing divergence between climate model simulations and observations -
APS March Meeting 2014 - Event - Causes and implications of the growing divergence between climate model simulations and observations
For the past 15+ years, there has been no increase in global average surface temperature, which has been referred to as a 'hiatus' in global warming. By contrast, estimates of expected warming in the first several decades of 21st century made by the IPCC AR4 were 0.2C/decade. This talk summarizes the recent CMIP5 climate model simulation results and comparisons with observational data. The most recent climate model simulations used in the AR5 indicate that the warming stagnation since 1998 is no longer consistent with model projections even at the 2\% confidence level. Potential causes for the model-observation discrepancies are discussed. A particular focus of the talk is the role of multi-decadal natural internal variability on the climate variability of the 20th and early 21st centuries. The ``stadium wave'' climate signal is described, which propagates across the Northern Hemisphere through a network of ocean, ice, and atmospheric circulation regimes that self-organize into a... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
To Make Natural Gas a Good Fuel, Find the "Super-Emitters" - Scientific American -
To Make Natural Gas a Good Fuel, Find the "Super-Emitters" - Scientific American
Gas likes to escape. That's bad news for the atmosphere when the gas in question is methane, the primary component in natural gas that is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But burning natural gas results in half the greenhouse gas pollution than coal, making it appealing as fuel in an era of combating climate change. Thanks to a bonanza of natural gas liberated from deep shales by new techniques, the U.S. is burning more and more of the fuel—and considering using more natural gas in more places, such as fuel for trucking. But if the amount of methane escaping is too high, such widespread use might prove a disaster for climate change. And that's why a group of scientists set out to better estimate how much methane is escaping in the U.S. To do that, they surveyed more than 200 sets of field measurements and scientific papers from the past 20 years to learn whether increasing use of natural gas could prove a climate boon or bane. "A relatively small leakage rate can... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
We're One Step Closer to Nuclear Fusion Energy - Wired Science -
We're One Step Closer to Nuclear Fusion Energy - Wired Science
Scientists with the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced today that they have achieved a critical step in fusion research: For the first time, their hydrogen fuel has given off more energy than it took in. Though an important milestone, the result does not mean that your Delorean is soon going to sport a Mr. Fusion reactor. NIF would need to sustain temperatures and pressures much greater than they are currently capable of before they can harness fusion energy. Nuclear fusion is the energy source of the stars. Deep in our sun’s belly, hydrogen atoms slam into one another at high speed, getting mashed together to form helium atoms and releasing copious amounts of energy. Creating viable fusion energy here on Earth has been a dream since the dawn of the Atomic Age. With true fusion power, the amount of water you use in a single shower could provide all your energy needs for a year. But for six decades, fusion has remained a far-off dream.... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Physics - Neutrino Experiments Come Closer to Seeing CP Violation -
Physics - Neutrino Experiments Come Closer to Seeing CP Violation
Show all
Charge-parity (CP) violation—evidence that the laws of physics are different for particles and antiparticles—is often invoked as a “must” to explain why we observe more matter than antimatter in the universe. But the CP violation observed in interactions involving quarks is insufficient to explain this asymmetry. As a result, many theorists are looking toward leptons—and, specifically, neutrinos—for additional sources of CP violation. Researchers running the Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) experiment—a particle physics experiment at the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC)—have now made an important contribution toward the search for CP violation in neutrinos. Writing in Physical Review Letters, the T2K collaboration reports the strongest evidence to date for the appearance of electron neutrinos from a pure muon neutrino beam [1]. Their measurement allows them to determine a fundamental parameter of the standard model of particle physics, called θ13, which can in turn be used to... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Symmetry violations make me unhappy and yet … it seems that I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them :) - Amit Patel
Eric Logan
Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News -
Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn's north pole. This is the first hexagon movie of its kind, using color filters, and the first to show a complete view of the top of Saturn down to about 70 degrees latitude. Spanning about 20,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers per hour) with a massive, rotating storm at the center. There is no weather feature exactly, consistently like this anywhere else in the solar system. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
The Coldest Spot in the Known Universe - NASA Science -
The Coldest Spot in the Known Universe - NASA Science
“We’ll begin,” says Thompson, “by studying Bose-Einstein Condensates.” In 1995, researchers discovered that if you took a few million rubidium atoms and cooled them near absolute zero, they would merge into a single wave of matter. The trick worked with sodium, too. In 2001, Eric Cornell of the National Institute of Standards & Technology and Carl Wieman of University of Colorado shared the Nobel Prize with Wolfgang Ketterle of MIT for their independent discovery of these condensates, which Albert Einstein and Satyendra Bose had predicted in the early 20th century. If you create two BECs and put them together, they don't mix like an ordinary gas. Instead, they can "interfere" like waves: thin, parallel layers of matter are separated by thin layers of empty space. An atom in one BEC can add itself to an atom in another BEC and produce – no atom at all. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
NASA to Create Coldest Known Location in the Universe -
NASA scientists intend to lower temperatures in the lab to 100-pico-Kelvin, or just “one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero,” the temperature at which it is theorized, that thermal activity of all atoms ceases. The researchers theorize that when objects are exposed to the extreme cold temperatures in the Cold Atom Lab, new forms of matter will be created as the notion of solids, liquids and gases will no longer apply. This newly created matter is known as quantum matter and is studied in probabilities rather than the relative certainties that make up the laws of physics under “normal” conditions. In the quantum realm, matter can behave in vastly different ways, even appearing in more than one place simultaneously. Thompson describes the planned work as “entering the realm of the unknown” and no one is certain where it will lead at this point. The NASA research team believes that they will be able to create work in this proposed coldest known location in the universe in... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
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