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Science Online

Science Online

A room dedicated to online scientific communication. Previously: Science Blogging 2008.
Harmonine, a defence compound from the harlequin ladybird, inhibits mycobacterial growth and demonstrates multi-stage antimalarial activity - http://rsbl.royalsocietypublis...
Its invasive success has been attributed to its vigorous resistance against diverse pathogens. This study demonstrates that harmonine ((17R,9Z)-1,17-diaminooctadec-9-ene), which is present in H. axyridis haemolymph, displays broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity that includes human pathogens. Antibacterial activity is most pronounced against fast-growing mycobacteria and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and the growth of both chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant Plasmodium falciparum strains is inhibited. Harmonine displays gametocytocidal activity, and inhibits the exflagellation of microgametocytes and zygote formation. In an Anopheles stephensi mosquito feeding model, harmonine displays transmission-blocking activity. - Halil from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity - -
Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity -
In today's world, brimful as it is with opinion and falsehoods masquerading as facts, you'd think the one place you can depend on for verifiable facts is science. You'd be wrong. Many billions of dollars' worth of wrong. A few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology. The idea was to make sure that research on which Amgen was spending millions of development dollars still held up. They figured that a few of the studies would fail the test — that the original results couldn't be reproduced because the findings were especially novel or described fresh therapeutic approaches. But what they found was startling: Of the 53 landmark papers, only six could be proved valid. "Even knowing the limitations of preclinical research," observed C. Glenn Begley, then Amgen's head of global cancer research, "this was a shocking result." - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Yeah, we now pretty much know how pharmaceuticals companies are only financing the potentially lucrative projects and any 'research' goes ghetto for the greater good of business, forcing students to go with less principle more realistic concessions to reach their goals. - Zu from AOD
Eric Logan
The Great Filter theory suggests humans have already conquered the threat of extinction. -
The Great Filter theory suggests humans have already conquered the threat of extinction.
Here's how it likely happened: Once a self-replicating molecule emerged, the presence of RNA allowed for the formation of protobionts, a theoretic precursor to prokaryotic cells. These tightly bound bundles of organic molecules contained RNA within their membranes — which could have evolved into proper prokaryotic cells. And here's where it gets interesting. After the formation of prokaryotes — about 3.5 billion years ago — nothing changed in the biological landscape for the next 1.8 billion years. Life in this primitive form was completely stuck. Imagine that — no evolution for almost two billion years. It was only after the endosymbiosis of multiple prokaryotes that complex single-cell life finally emerged — a change that was by no means guaranteed, and possibly unlikely. And it's this highly improbable step, say some scientists, that's the Great Filter. Everything that happened afterward is a complete bonus. Now that said, there may have been other filters as well. These could... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
So why is it humans can't go extinct? His doesn't make a lot of sense. - Todd Hoff
I don't think the argument is that we can't go extinct. Clearly we have the ability to destroy ourselves in our present form. The great filter argument refers to the genesis of complex single celled life that would probably survive somewhere on the planet even if we effectively destroy ourselves. - Eric Logan
Ah, that makes sense, the title is ambiguous. - Todd Hoff
Eric Logan
Unprecedented neutrino discovery is a "Nobel Prize in the making" -
Unprecedented neutrino discovery is a "Nobel Prize in the making"
By drilling a 1.5 mile hole deep into an Antarctic glacier, physicists working at the IceCube South Pole Observatory have captured 28 extraterrestrial neutrinos — those mysterious and extremely powerful subatomic particles that can pass straight through solid matter. Welcome to an entirely new age of astronomy. Back in April of this year, the same team of physicists captured the highest energy neutrinos ever detected. Dubbed Bert and Ernie, the elusive subatomic particles likely originated from beyond our solar system, and possibly even our galaxy. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Thats why I'm firmly in the Hendrik Svensmark camp. ;-) - MRW_8
The Fantastic Mr Feynman | BBC documentary 2013 -
The Fantastic Mr Feynman | BBC documentary 2013
"Family and friends contribute to a celebration of Richard Feynman, one of the most inspiring and influential scientists of the 20th century. Feynman, who died 25 years ago, helped design the atomic bomb, won a Nobel Prize for Physics and solved the mystery of the Challenger shuttle catastrophe." - Amira from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Underwater 'tree rings': Calcite crusts of arctic algae record 650 years of sea ice change -
Underwater 'tree rings': Calcite crusts of arctic algae record 650 years of sea ice change
Halfar says the coralline algae represent not only a new method for climate reconstruction, but are vital to extending knowledge of the climate record back in time to permit more accurate modeling of future climate change. Currently, observational information about annual changes in the Earth's temperature and climate go back 150 years. Reliable information about sea-ice coverage comes from satellites and dates back only to the late 1970s. "In the north, there is nothing in the shallow oceans that tells us about climate, water temperature or sea ice coverage on an annual basis," says Halfar. "These algae, which live over a thousand years, can now provide us with that information." - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Astrophysicists tackle the Sun and one of physics' biggest unsolved problems -
Astrophysicists tackle the Sun and one of physics' biggest unsolved problems
Daniel Wolf Savin and Michael Hahn have been fascinated by the universe since they were boys. For Savin, a senior research scientist in the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, discovering Albert Einstein at age 12 spurred the desire to "learn everything about the universe." Years later, Hahn, an associate research scientist who grew up 40 miles from Savin's home town in Connecticut, started gazing at the stars as a teenager; he eventually became president of the astronomy club at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon. Now the two have made a big leap toward cracking one of the biggest mysteries in astrophysics—why the corona, or plasma surrounding the sun, is so much hotter than the sun's surface. The coronal heating problem, as it is known, is important because the corona is the source of solar wind, which is responsible for the northern and southern lights and can also disrupt telecommunications and power grids. "Satellites can be slowly pushed out of their orbits if they're deflected by... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Scientists Discover Antarctic Volcano Under The Ice - http://www.reportingclimatesci...
Scientists Discover Antarctic Volcano Under The Ice
Seismic detection of an active subglacial magmatic complex in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Published 17 November 2013. - Eric Logan
Eric Logan
Google's computers OUTWIT their humans. -
Google's computers OUTWIT their humans.
Google no longer understands how its "deep learning" decision-making computer systems have made themselves so good at recognizing things in photos. This means the internet giant may need fewer experts in future as it can instead rely on its semi-autonomous, semi-smart machines to solve problems all on their own. The claims were made at the Machine Learning Conference in San Francisco on Friday by Google software engineer Quoc V. Le in a talk in which he outlined some of the ways the content-slurper is putting "deep learning" systems to work. "Deep learning" involves large clusters of computers ingesting and automatically classifying data, such as pictures. Google uses the technology for services like Android voice-controlled search, image recognition, and Google translate, among others. The ad-slinger's deep learning experiments caused a stir in June 2012 when a front-page New York Times article revealed that after Google fed its "DistBelief" technology with millions of YouTube videos, the software had learned to recognize the key features of cats. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
ravinaik How does the Sun's energy reach us?Did you know that only a small portion of the Sun's energy- just one thousandth just of one millionth part- actually reaches the Earth as light and heat? The Sun acts like a massive nuclear plant radiating energy into space, but most of...
Eric Logan
Something is up with the sun. Scientists say that solar activity is stranger than in a century or more, with the sun producing barely half the number of sunspots as expected and its magnetic poles oddly out of sync. The sun generates immense magnetic fields as it spins. Sunspots—often broader in diameter than Earth—mark areas of intense magnetic force that brew disruptive solar storms. These storms may abruptly lash their charged particles across millions of miles of space toward Earth, where they can short-circuit satellites, smother cellular signals or damage electrical systems. Based on historical records, astronomers say the sun this fall ought to be nearing the explosive climax of its approximate 11-year cycle of activity—the so-called solar maximum. But this peak is "a total punk," said Jonathan Cirtain, who works at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as project scientist for the Japanese satellite Hinode, which maps solar magnetic fields. "I would say it is the... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
New Experiments to Pit Quantum Mechanics Against General Relativity | Simons Foundation -
New Experiments to Pit Quantum Mechanics Against General Relativity | Simons Foundation
“In the final showdown between quantum mechanics and gravity, our understanding of space and time will be completely changed.” - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Antarctic Sea Ice Sets A New Record For October. - http://notalotofpeopleknowthat...
Antarctic Sea Ice Sets A New Record For October.
Antarctic Sea Ice Sets A New Record For October.
According to NSIDC, Antarctic sea ice extent during October was the highest on record for that month. The latest daily figures for 4th Nov show this trend continuing. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
The Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice extent is having a field day too. - MRW_8
Eric Logan
Why the Climate Corporation Sold Itself to Monsanto : The New Yorker -
Why the Climate Corporation Sold Itself to Monsanto : The New Yorker
Perhaps Monsanto should have adopted the mantra that Paul Bucheit so cleverly and timely introduced at Google in 2000—“don’t be evil”. Just saying that was their mantra has helped Google countless times avoid the evil designation that so many people have tried to hurl their way over the years. It has worked. Did you know: Google sues more of its customers each year than Monsanto does? Google spends 3 times as much as Monsanto on Federal lobbying? There are more ex-Googlers in the Obama administration than there are ex-Monsanto employees? I could go on. But a lot of the “bad things” being said about Monsanto are simple truths about the nature of doing business at scale. On the list of top lobbyists on payroll in DC, Monsanto is not even in the top 50. The “Monsanto Protection Act” is actually called the “Farmer Assurance Provision” and was drafted and written by a number of farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers,... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Chemistry's climate of scepticism | Chemistry World -
Chemistry's climate of scepticism | Chemistry World
‘While global warming is recognised, I am not sure that all the reasons have been fully explored. Carbon dioxide is a contributor, but what about cyclic changes caused by the Earth’s relationship in distance to the Sun?’ ‘While climate change is occurring, the drivers of change are less clear.’ It’s those pesky climate sceptics again, right? Well yes – but these ones read Chemistry & Industry, and are therefore likely to be chemists of some description. When the magazine ran a survey in 2007 on its readers’ attitudes to climate change, it felt compelled to admit that ‘there are still some readers who remain deeply sceptical of the role of carbon dioxide in global warming, or of the need to take action’. The respondents who felt that ‘the industry should be doing more to help tackle climate change’ were in a clear majority of 72% – but that left 28% who didn’t. This is even more than the one in five members of the general population who, as the IPCC releases its fifth report on climate change, now seem to doubt that global warming is real. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Solar activity heads for lowest low in four centuries. -
Solar activity heads for lowest low in four centuries.
The sun's activity is in free fall, according to a leading space physicist. But don't expect a little ice age. "Solar activity is declining very fast at the moment," Mike Lockwood, professor of space environmental physics at Reading University, UK, told New Scientist. "We estimate faster than at any time in the last 9300 years." Lockwood and his colleagues are reassessing the chances of this decline continuing over decades to become the first "grand solar minimum" for four centuries. During a grand minimum the normal 11-year solar cycle is suppressed and the sun has virtually no sunspotsMovie Camera for several decades. This summer should have seen a peak in the number of sunspots, but it didn't happen. Lockwood thinks there is now a 25 per cent chance of a repetition of the last grand minimum, the late 17th century Maunder Minimum, when there were no sunspots for 70 years. Two years ago, Lockwood put the chances of this happening at less than 10 per cent - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
They had an increase in October. They are expecting a double-high for the cycle and this might be it. - MRW_8
This is just a stupid comment from the New Scientist article: QUOTE. But Lockwood says we should not expect a new grand minimum to bring on a new little ice age. Human-induced global warming, he says, is already a more important force in global temperatures than even major solar cycles. Temperatures have risen by 0.85 °C since 1880, with more expected, according to the most recent... more... - MRW_8
The Number Sense How the Mind Creates Mathematics by S. Deheane (pdf)
S. Deheane - The Number Sense How the Mind Creates Mathematics.jpg
"The Number Sense is an enlightening exploration of the mathematical mind. Describing experiments that show that human infants have a rudimentary number sense, Stanislas Dehaene suggests that this sense is as basic as our perception of color, and that it is wired into the brain. Dehaene shows that it was the invention of symbolic systems of numerals that started us on the climb to higher mathematics. A fascinating look at the crossroads where numbers and neurons intersect, The Number Sense offers an intriguing tour of how the structure of the brain shapes our mathematical abilities, and how our mathematics opens up a window on the human mind." - Amira
See also: How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being by G. Lakoff Where Mathematics Comes From (pdf) and "Mathematical Knowledge" - Amira
Eric Logan
The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think - James Somers - The Atlantic -
The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think - James Somers - The Atlantic
“It depends on what you mean by artificial intelligence.” Douglas Hofstadter is in a grocery store in Bloomington, Indiana, picking out salad ingredients. “If somebody meant by artificial intelligence the attempt to understand the mind, or to create something human-like, they might say—maybe they wouldn’t go this far—but they might say this is some of the only good work that’s ever been done.” Hofstadter says this with an easy deliberateness, and he says it that way because for him, it is an uncontroversial conviction that the most-exciting projects in modern artificial intelligence, the stuff the public maybe sees as stepping stones on the way to science fiction—like Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, or Siri, Apple’s iPhone assistant—in fact have very little to do with intelligence. For the past 30 years, most of them spent in an old house just northwest of the Indiana University campus, he and his graduate students have been picking up the slack: trying to figure out how our thinking works, by writing computer programs that think. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Entangled toy universe shows time may be an illusion - physics-math. -
Entangled toy universe shows time may be an illusion - physics-math.
Photon clock For the first time, Genovese and colleagues have demonstrated this effect in a physical system, albeit in a "universe" that contains only two photons. The team started by sending a pair of entangled photons along two separate paths. The photons start out polarised, or orientated, either horizontally or vertically, and the polarisation rotates as both photons pass though a quartz plate and on to a series of detectors. The entangled photons exist in a superposition of both horizontal and vertical states simultaneously until they are observed. But the thicker the plate, the longer it takes the photons to pass through and the more their polarisation evolves, affecting the probability that either one will take a particular value. In one mode of the experiment, one of the photons is treated like a clock with a tick that can alternate between horizontal and vertical polarisation. Because of entanglement, reading this clock will affect the polarisation value of the second photon.... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Implications for climate models of their disagreement with observations | Climate Etc. -
Implications for climate models of their disagreement with observations | Climate Etc.
The argument is then made that climate models were really designed as research tools, to explore and understand climate processes. Well, we have long reached the point of diminishing returns from climate models in terms of actually understanding how the climate system works; not just limited by the deficiencies of climate models themselves, but also by the fact that the models are very expensive computationally and not user friendly. So, why are so much resources being invested in climate models? A very provocative paper by Shackley et al. addresses this question: “In then addressing the question of how GCMs have come to occupy their dominant position, we argue that the development of global climate change science and global environmental ‘management’ frameworks occurs concurrently and in a mutually supportive fashion, so uniting GCMs and environmental policy developments in certain industrialised nations and international organisations. The more basic questions about what kinds of... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
This may be the ocean’s most horrifying monster (and you’ve probably never heard of it) | Deep Sea News -
This may be the ocean’s most horrifying monster (and you’ve probably never heard of it) | Deep Sea News
When I first learned about rhizocephalan barnacles I lost my appetite. I was taking a parasitology course, and even though I’d developed a thick skin, something about this insidious creature deeply disturbed me. Even now, the thought of one makes me shiver. I’ve never watched a movie monster, heard a fairy tale, or seen a video game with a villain more horrifying than this one. And unlike those monsters, this one is real. To understand the full terror of this monster, you have to put yourself in the place of another animal. These poor creatures are its victims, and you see them all the time. Imagine you’re a crab, and for full effect, imagine you’re male. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
"AAAAAHHHHHH!" - MoTO Moca Blend from Android
"Just when it seems it couldn’t be worse, your abdomen explodes. You’re now sterile, and her gonads are erupting out from where your genitals are. Her tumorous ovaries now attract a male rhizocephalan larva, who injects his own cells into her. These grow into testicles within her body. She now has everything she needs for her next takeover. But none of this bothers you now. She has... more... - MoTO Moca Blend
Eric Logan
The 'chemputer' that could print out any drug. -
The 'chemputer' that could print out any drug.
What would this mean? Well for a start it would potentially democratise complex chemistry, and allow drugs not only to be distributed anywhere in the world but created at the point of need. It could reverse the trend, Cronin suggests, for ineffective counterfeit drugs (often anti-malarials or anti-retrovirals) that have flooded some markets in the developing world, by offering a cheap medicine-making platform that could validate a drug made according to the pharmaceutical company's "software". Crucially, it would potentially enable a greater range of drugs to be produced. "There are loads of drugs out there that aren't available," Cronin says, "because the population that needs them is not big enough, or not rich enough. This model changes that economy of scale; it could makes any drug cost effective." - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
… it could release a TORRENT of cheap chemicals … - Amit Patel
Eric Logan
The CLOUD experiment recently uncovered a reaction that creates tiny particles that form the seeds for clouds. This discovery, published in Nature on October 7, could help scientists build better climate models. The experiment was designed to study the effect of cosmic rays on cloud-formation, "but in the process we built a chamber that can answer a lot of unknowns about aerosols and clouds,” says Jasper Kirkby, who leads CLOUD. “What’s really remarkable is that these processes are very poorly understood at the fundamental microphysical level and yet so important for the climate.” Water vapor condenses to form cloud droplets on tiny liquid or solid particles in the atmosphere called aerosols. “All cloud droplets form on a seed aerosol particle,” Kirkby says. “Water cannot condense spontaneously in the atmosphere.” Fifty percent of aerosols are terrestrial—originating from sources like sea spray and dust storms. But the other 50 percent are ethereal—created in the sky by the... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Solar Maximum: Three Solar Flares And A Coronal Mass Ejection As The Sun Reaches Peak Solar Activity -
Solar Maximum: Three Solar Flares And A Coronal Mass Ejection As The Sun Reaches Peak Solar Activity
Solar maximum, or solar max, is a period of increased sunspot activity. Earlier in the young, it was believed the peak of this solar cycle, Solar Cycle 24, may be the weakest yet, due to infrequent solar activity. Researchers believed that the sun may be experiencing a double peak, with a weaker peak early in 2003 and the second peak occurring in late 2013 and into 2014. NASA’s solar observatories are currently monitoring the sun and researchers believe solar max’s peak may be fast approaching as evidenced by the increased solar activity. If that’s the case, another interesting phenomenon will have occurred; the flipping of the sun’s magnetic fields. As predicted by researchers from Stanford University in August, the sun’s poles will be reserved. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Big nanotech: building a new world with atomic precision - Eric Drexler -
Big nanotech: building a new world with atomic precision - Eric Drexler
Suppose we could build everything that today's industry can, more cleanly and efficiently, starting with materials as common as sand and carbon dioxide. Cars, aircraft, computers, photovoltaics – all these and much more would be within the scope of this new mode of production, and at low cost. As I suggested in my introductory article, the principles of physics and engineering show that all this is possible. The key is a prospective technology called high-throughput atomically precise manufacturing, or APM. It is not available yet, but there is a development path in sight that could make it happen. - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
Problems with scientific research: How science goes wrong. - The Economist -
Problems with scientific research: How science goes wrong. - The Economist
A SIMPLE idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better. But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity. Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Eric Logan
▶ Google and NASA's Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab - YouTube -
▶ Google and NASA's Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab - YouTube
Eric Logan
Recent variability of the solar spectral irradiance and its impact on climate modelling
Eric Logan
Is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts? If you’ve ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument (“one-hit father of twerking pop star”—Billy Ray Cyrus!), then you’ve no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away. As even more fiendishly powerful search tools emerge—from IBM’s Jeopardy!-playing Watson to the “predictive search” of Google Now—these worries are, let’s face it, only going to grow. So what’s going on? Each time we reach for the mouse pad when we space out on the ingredients for a Tom Collins or the capital of Arkansas, are we losing the power to retain knowledge? The short answer is: No. Machines aren’t ruining our memory. The longer answer: It’s much, much weirder than that! - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
It could be the alcohol. ;) - Todd
I drink to forget so at least that is still working. - Eric Logan
This is why I've always been against books. The ability to externalize and share knowledge on paper has condemned our once well tended memory mansions. Why I remember my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather could remember and hold audiences spell bound around a fire reciting Homer. - Todd Hoff
I am still a bibliophile. I read a lot online and I sometimes use my Kindle reader on an iPad, but I much prefer a book. - Eric Logan
Books are definitely evil. Memory palaces ftw! - Amit Patel
LOL, Todd. - Jenny H. from Android
Eric Logan
Yellowstone Supervolcano Alert: The Most Dangerous Volcano In America Is Roaring To Life . -
Yellowstone Supervolcano Alert: The Most Dangerous Volcano In America Is Roaring To Life .
Right now, the ground underneath Yellowstone National Park is rising at a record rate. In fact, it is rising at the rate of about three inches per year. The reason why this is such a concern is because underneath the park sits the Yellowstone supervolcano – the largest volcano in North America. Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that it will erupt again one day, and when it does the devastation will be almost unimaginable. A full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away, and it would render much of the United States uninhabitable. When most Americans think of Yellowstone, they tend to conjure up images of Yogi Bear and “Old Faithful”, but the truth is that sleeping underneath Yellowstone is a volcanic beast that could destroy our nation in a single day and now that beast is starting to wake up. The Yellowstone supervolcano is so vast that it is hard to put it into words. According to the Daily Mail, the magma “hotspot” underneath Yellowstone is approximately 300 miles wide… - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
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