neurosciencestuff

neurosciencestuff:

A research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Investigator Susan Ackerman, Ph.D., has pinpointed a surprising mechanism behind neurodegeneration in mice, one that involves a defect in a key component of the cellular machinery that makes proteins, known as transfer RNA or…

scienceyoucanlove
mindblowingscience:

Google wants to define a healthy human with its new baseline genetic study

Google’s got a big new project and it’s you. Well, not just you, but a genetic and molecular study of humanity that aims to grasp at what a healthy human should be. It’s in its early days, collecting anonymous data from 175 people, but it plans to expand to thousands later. The project is headed up by molecular biologist Andrew Conrad, who pioneered cheap HIV tests for blood-plasma donations. According to the WSJ, the team at Google X current numbers between 70 and 100, encompassing experts in physiology, biochemistry, optics, imaging and molecular biology.
The Baseline project will apparently take in hundreds of different samples, with Google using its information processing talents to expose biomarkers and other patterns - the optimistic result hopefully being faster ways of diagnosing diseases. Biomarkers has typically been used with late-stage diseases, as these studies have typically used already-sick patients. “He gets that this is not a software project that will be done in one or two years,” said Dr. Sam Gambhir, who is working with Dr. Conrad on the project. “We used to talk about curing cancer and doing this in a few years. We’ve learned to not say those things anymore.” Information from the project will remain anonymous: Google said that data won’t be shared with insurance companies, but the shadow of privacy issues hang over pretty much anything the company touches. Baseline started this summer, initially collecting fluids such as urine, blood, saliva and tears from the anonymous guinea pigs. Tissue samples will be taken later. “With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems,” Dr. Conrad said. “That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like.”

mindblowingscience:

Google wants to define a healthy human with its new baseline genetic study

Google’s got a big new project and it’s you. Well, not just you, but a genetic and molecular study of humanity that aims to grasp at what a healthy human should be. It’s in its early days, collecting anonymous data from 175 people, but it plans to expand to thousands later. The project is headed up by molecular biologist Andrew Conrad, who pioneered cheap HIV tests for blood-plasma donations. According to the WSJ, the team at Google X current numbers between 70 and 100, encompassing experts in physiology, biochemistry, optics, imaging and molecular biology.

The Baseline project will apparently take in hundreds of different samples, with Google using its information processing talents to expose biomarkers and other patterns - the optimistic result hopefully being faster ways of diagnosing diseases. Biomarkers has typically been used with late-stage diseases, as these studies have typically used already-sick patients. “He gets that this is not a software project that will be done in one or two years,” said Dr. Sam Gambhir, who is working with Dr. Conrad on the project. “We used to talk about curing cancer and doing this in a few years. We’ve learned to not say those things anymore.” Information from the project will remain anonymous: Google said that data won’t be shared with insurance companies, but the shadow of privacy issues hang over pretty much anything the company touches. Baseline started this summer, initially collecting fluids such as urine, blood, saliva and tears from the anonymous guinea pigs. Tissue samples will be taken later. “With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems,” Dr. Conrad said. “That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like.”

science-is

nubbsgalore:

circumhorizontal arcs photographed by (click pic) david england, andy cripe, del zane, todd sackmann and brandon rios. this atmospheric phenomenon, otherwise known as a fire rainbow, is created when light from a sun that is at least 58 degrees above the horizon passes through the hexagonal ice crystals that form cirrus clouds which, because of quick cloud formation, have become horizontally aligned. (see also: previous cloud posts)

thenewenlightenmentage

spaceplasma:

Tokamaks: the future of fusion energy

Fusion is the energy that powers our Sun and other stars.  It has been a goal of scientists around the world to harness this process by which the stars “burn” hydrogen into helium (i.e. nuclear fusion) for energy production on Earth since it was discovered in the 1940′s.

Nuclear fusion is the process by which light nuclei fuse together to create a single, heavier nucleus and release energy.  Given the correct conditions (such as those found in plasma), nuclei of light elements can smash into each other with enough energy to undergo fusion. The “easiest” (most energetically favorable) fusion reaction occurs between the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium.  When the nucleus of a deuterium atom crashes into the nucleus of a tritium atom with sufficient energy, a fusion reaction occurs and a huge amount of energy is released, 17.6 million electron volts to be exact. 

Why fusion? To put this in terms of energy that we all experience; fusion generates more energy per reaction than any other energy source.  A single gram of deuterium/tritium fusion fuel can generate 350 million kJ of energy, nearly 10 million times more energy than from the same amount of fossil fuel!

Fusion power has the potential to provide sufficient energy to satisfy mounting demand, and to do so sustainably, with a relatively small impact on the environment. Nuclear fusion has many potential attractions. Firstly, its hydrogen isotope fuels are relatively abundant – one of the necessary isotopes, deuterium, can be extracted from seawater, while the other fuel, tritium, would be bred from a lithium blanket using neutrons produced in the fusion reaction itself. Furthermore, a fusion reactor would produce virtually no CO2 or atmospheric pollutants, and its other radioactive waste products would be very short-lived compared to those produced by conventional nuclear reactors.

Fusion reactions require so much energy that they must occur with the hydrogen isotopes in this plasma state. Plasma makes up all of the stars, and is the most common form of matter in the visible universe. Since plasmas are made of charged particles every particle can interact with every other particle, even over very long distances. The fact that 99% of the universe is made of plasmas makes studying them very important if we are to understand how the universe works.

How do we create fusion in a laboratory? This is where tokamaks come in. In order for nuclear fusion to occur, the nuclei inside of the plasma must first be extremely hot, like in a star. Unfortunately, no material on Earth can withstand these temperatures so in order to contain a plasma with such high temperatures, we have to be creative. One clever solution is to create a magnetic “bottle” using large magnet coils to capture the plasma and suspend it away from the container’s surfaces. The plasma follows along the magnetic field, suspended away from the walls. This complex combination of magnets used to confine the plasma and the chamber where the plasma is held is known as a tokamak. Tokamaks have a toroidal shape (i.e. they are shaped like a donut) so they have no open ends for plasma to escape. Tokamaks, like the ASDEX Upgrade (pictured above), create and contain the hottest materials in the solar system. The aim of ASDEX Upgrade, the “Axially Symmetric Divertor Experiment”, is to prepare the physics base for ITER.

ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and Latin for “the way” or “the road”) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, which is currently building the world’s largest experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. The ITER project aims to make the long-awaited transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power plants.

Further readings:

asapscience
neurosciencestuff:

Researcher shows how stress hormones promote brain’s building of negative memories
When a person experiences a devastating loss or tragic event, why does every detail seem burned into memory whereas a host of positive experiences simply fade away?
It’s a bit more complicated than scientists originally thought, according to a study recently published in the journal Neuroscience by ASU researcher Sabrina Segal.
When people experience a traumatic event, the body releases two major stress hormones: norepinephrine and cortisol. Norepinephrine boosts heart rate and controls the fight-or-flight response, commonly rising when individuals feel threatened or experience highly emotional reactions. It is chemically similar to the hormone epinephrine – better known as adrenaline.
In the brain, norepinephrine in turn functions as a powerful neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that can enhance memory.
Research on cortisol has demonstrated that this hormone can also have a powerful effect on strengthening memories. However, studies in humans up until now have been inconclusive – with cortisol sometimes enhancing memory, while at other times having no effect.
A key factor in whether cortisol has an effect on strengthening certain memories may rely on activation of norepinephrine during learning, a finding previously reported in studies with rats.
In her study, Segal, an assistant research professor at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research at ASU, and her colleagues at the University of California-Irvine showed that human memory enhancement functions in a similar way.
Conducted in the laboratory of Larry Cahill at U.C. Irvine, Segal’s study included 39 women who viewed 144 images from the International Affective Picture Set. This set is a standardized picture set used by researchers to elicit a range of responses, from neutral to strong emotional reactions, upon view.
Segal and her colleagues gave each of the study’s subjects either a dose of hydrocortisone – to simulate stress – or a placebo just prior to viewing the picture set. Each woman then rated her feelings at the time she was viewing the image, in addition to giving saliva samples before and after. One week later, a surprise recall test was administered.
What Segal’s team found was that “negative experiences are more readily remembered when an event is traumatic enough to release cortisol after the event, and only if norepinephrine is released during or shortly after the event.”
“This study provides a key component to better understanding how traumatic memories may be strengthened in women,” Segal added, “because it suggests that if we can lower norepinephrine levels immediately following a traumatic event, we may be able to prevent this memory enhancing mechanism from occurring, regardless of how much cortisol is released following a traumatic event.”
Further studies are needed to explore to what extent the relationship between these two stress hormones differ depending on whether you are male or female, particularly because women are twice as likely to develop disorders from stress and trauma that affect memory, such as in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the meantime, the team’s findings are a first step toward a better understanding of neurobiological mechanisms that underlie traumatic disorders, such as PTSD.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

neurosciencestuff:

Researcher shows how stress hormones promote brain’s building of negative memories

When a person experiences a devastating loss or tragic event, why does every detail seem burned into memory whereas a host of positive experiences simply fade away?

It’s a bit more complicated than scientists originally thought, according to a study recently published in the journal Neuroscience by ASU researcher Sabrina Segal.

When people experience a traumatic event, the body releases two major stress hormones: norepinephrine and cortisol. Norepinephrine boosts heart rate and controls the fight-or-flight response, commonly rising when individuals feel threatened or experience highly emotional reactions. It is chemically similar to the hormone epinephrine – better known as adrenaline.

In the brain, norepinephrine in turn functions as a powerful neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that can enhance memory.

Research on cortisol has demonstrated that this hormone can also have a powerful effect on strengthening memories. However, studies in humans up until now have been inconclusive – with cortisol sometimes enhancing memory, while at other times having no effect.

A key factor in whether cortisol has an effect on strengthening certain memories may rely on activation of norepinephrine during learning, a finding previously reported in studies with rats.

In her study, Segal, an assistant research professor at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research at ASU, and her colleagues at the University of California-Irvine showed that human memory enhancement functions in a similar way.

Conducted in the laboratory of Larry Cahill at U.C. Irvine, Segal’s study included 39 women who viewed 144 images from the International Affective Picture Set. This set is a standardized picture set used by researchers to elicit a range of responses, from neutral to strong emotional reactions, upon view.

Segal and her colleagues gave each of the study’s subjects either a dose of hydrocortisone – to simulate stress – or a placebo just prior to viewing the picture set. Each woman then rated her feelings at the time she was viewing the image, in addition to giving saliva samples before and after. One week later, a surprise recall test was administered.

What Segal’s team found was that “negative experiences are more readily remembered when an event is traumatic enough to release cortisol after the event, and only if norepinephrine is released during or shortly after the event.”

“This study provides a key component to better understanding how traumatic memories may be strengthened in women,” Segal added, “because it suggests that if we can lower norepinephrine levels immediately following a traumatic event, we may be able to prevent this memory enhancing mechanism from occurring, regardless of how much cortisol is released following a traumatic event.”

Further studies are needed to explore to what extent the relationship between these two stress hormones differ depending on whether you are male or female, particularly because women are twice as likely to develop disorders from stress and trauma that affect memory, such as in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the meantime, the team’s findings are a first step toward a better understanding of neurobiological mechanisms that underlie traumatic disorders, such as PTSD.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

thenewenlightenmentage

astronomy-to-zoology:

Stathmopoda pedella

…is a species of concealer moth (Oecophoridae) which is found throughout Europe. Stathmopoda pedella caterpillars will feed on the seeds of fruits of Alder (Alnus spp.). Adults typically fly in July, depending mostly on their location. 

Classification

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Lepidoptera-Oecophoridae-Stathmopoda-S. pedella

Image: Olaf Leillinger

thenewenlightenmentage
thenewenlightenmentage:

China Plans Supercollider
Proposals for two particle accelerators could see the country aim to become the collider capital of the world
For decades, Europe and the United States have led the way when it comes to high-energy particle colliders. But a proposal by China that is quietly gathering momentum has raised the possibility that the country could soon position itself at the forefront of particle physics.
Scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, working with international collaborators, are planning to build a ‘Higgs factory’ by 2028 — a 52-kilometer underground ring that would smash together electrons and positrons. Collisions of these fundamental particles would allow the Higgs boson to be studied with greater precision than at the much smaller Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.
Continue Reading

thenewenlightenmentage:

China Plans Supercollider

Proposals for two particle accelerators could see the country aim to become the collider capital of the world

For decades, Europe and the United States have led the way when it comes to high-energy particle colliders. But a proposal by China that is quietly gathering momentum has raised the possibility that the country could soon position itself at the forefront of particle physics.

Scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, working with international collaborators, are planning to build a ‘Higgs factory’ by 2028 — a 52-kilometer underground ring that would smash together electrons and positrons. Collisions of these fundamental particles would allow the Higgs boson to be studied with greater precision than at the much smaller Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

Continue Reading

thenewenlightenmentage
trigonometry-is-my-bitch:

Fold a piece of paper in half 103 times, and its wider than the observable universe.
this is due to exponential growth; the increase in previous thickness is doubled each time you fold the piece of paper again. physically you could probably only fold a piece of paper about 7 - 8 times on your own.

Given a paper large enough—and enough energy—you can fold it as many times as you want. If you fold it 103 times, the thickness of your paper will be larger than the observable Universe; 93 billion light-years distance.
How can a 0.0039-inch-thick paper get to be as thick as the Universe?

The answer is simple: Exponential growth. The average paper thickness in 1/10th of a millimeter (0.0039 inches.) If you perfectly fold the paper in half, you will double its thickness.
Folding the paper in half a third time will get you about the thickness of a nail.
Seven folds will be about the thickness of a notebook of 128 pages.
10 folds and the paper will be about the width of a hand.
23 folds will get you to one kilometer—3,280 feet.
30 folds will get you to space. Your paper will be now 100 kilometers high.
Keep folding it. 42 folds will get you to the Moon. With 51 you will burn in the Sun.
Now fast forward to 81 folds and your paper will be 127,786 light-years, almost as thick as the Andromeda Galaxy, estimated at 141,000 light-years across.
90 folds will make your paper 130.8 million light-years across, bigger than the Virgo Supercluster, estimated at 110 million light-years. The Virgo Supercluster contains the Local Galactic Group—with Andromeda and our own Milky Way—and about 100 other galaxy groups.
And finally, at 103 folds, you will get outside of the observable Universe, which is estimated at 93 billion light-years in diameters.

[source]

trigonometry-is-my-bitch:

Fold a piece of paper in half 103 times, and its wider than the observable universe.

this is due to exponential growth; the increase in previous thickness is doubled each time you fold the piece of paper again. physically you could probably only fold a piece of paper about 7 - 8 times on your own.

Given a paper large enough—and enough energy—you can fold it as many times as you want. If you fold it 103 times, the thickness of your paper will be larger than the observable Universe; 93 billion light-years distance.

How can a 0.0039-inch-thick paper get to be as thick as the Universe?

The answer is simple: Exponential growth. The average paper thickness in 1/10th of a millimeter (0.0039 inches.) If you perfectly fold the paper in half, you will double its thickness.

Folding the paper in half a third time will get you about the thickness of a nail.

Seven folds will be about the thickness of a notebook of 128 pages.

10 folds and the paper will be about the width of a hand.

23 folds will get you to one kilometer—3,280 feet.

30 folds will get you to space. Your paper will be now 100 kilometers high.

Keep folding it. 42 folds will get you to the Moon. With 51 you will burn in the Sun.

Now fast forward to 81 folds and your paper will be 127,786 light-years, almost as thick as the Andromeda Galaxy, estimated at 141,000 light-years across.

90 folds will make your paper 130.8 million light-years across, bigger than the Virgo Supercluster, estimated at 110 million light-years. The Virgo Supercluster contains the Local Galactic Group—with Andromeda and our own Milky Way—and about 100 other galaxy groups.

And finally, at 103 folds, you will get outside of the observable Universe, which is estimated at 93 billion light-years in diameters.

[source]

thenewenlightenmentage
athankyou:

Ancient reptile birth preserved in fossil: Ichthyosaur fossil may show oldest live reptilian birth.
Scientists report a new fossil specimen that belongs to Chaohusaurus (Reptilia, Ichthyopterygia), the oldest of Mesozoic marine reptiles that lived approximately 248 million years ago. The partial skeleton was recovered in China and may show a live birth. The maternal skeleton was associated with three embryos and neonates: one inside the mother, another exiting the pelvis-with half the body still inside the mother-and the third outside of the mother.

athankyou:

Ancient reptile birth preserved in fossil: Ichthyosaur fossil may show oldest live reptilian birth.

Scientists report a new fossil specimen that belongs to Chaohusaurus (Reptilia, Ichthyopterygia), the oldest of Mesozoic marine reptiles that lived approximately 248 million years ago. The partial skeleton was recovered in China and may show a live birth. The maternal skeleton was associated with three embryos and neonates: one inside the mother, another exiting the pelvis-with half the body still inside the mother-and the third outside of the mother.

scienceyoucanlove
scienceyoucanlove:

Caracal caracalThe caracal , also known as the desert lynx, is a wild cat that is widely distributed across Africa, central Asia and southwest Asia into India. In 2002 the IUCN listed the caracal as Least Concern as it is widespread and relatively common. The felid is considered threatened in north Africa, and rare in the central Asian republics and India.The German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber first described Felis caracal in 1776 from a specimen collected from Table Mountain, South Africa, which is considered the type locality of the species. The generic name Caracal was first used by the British naturalist John Edward Gray in 1843 on the basis of a type specimen collected near the Cape of Good Hope.The word caracal is derived from the Turkish words “kara kulak”, which means “black ear”.The caracal has been classified variously with Lynx and Felis in the past, but molecular evidence supports a monophyletic genus that is closely allied with the African golden cat and serval.The caracal is distinguished from Felis by the presence of a long tuft on the tip of the ear, exceeding half the length of the ear. There is no trace of pattern in the coat, except a few spots on the underside and inside of the fore legs. It is a slender, long-legged cat of medium size with a relatively short tail. The fur on the back and sides is generally of a uniform tawny grey or reddish, frosted-sand colour. The belly and the undersides of the legs and chest are whitish and spotted or blotched with pale markings. The tufted ears are black-backed. Black caracals also occur. The skull is high and rounded. The jaw is short, stoutly built and equipped with large powerful teeth. About 92% of caracals lack the second upper premolar teeth. Facial markings comprise a dark line running down the center of the forehead to near the nose, and another one running from the inner edge of the eye to the nostrils. The pupils of the eyes contract to form circles. A light-colored ring encircles the eyes, and a rather indistinct dark brown patch occurs over each eye. There are white patches on either side of the nose. The inner surface of the pinna is covered with small white hairs. Numerous stiff hairs are growing from between the pads and are probably an adaption of moving through soft sand.
source 

scienceyoucanlove:

Caracal caracal
The caracal , also known as the desert lynx, is a wild cat that is widely distributed across Africa, central Asia and southwest Asia into India. In 2002 the IUCN listed the caracal as Least Concern as it is widespread and relatively common. The felid is considered threatened in north Africa, and rare in the central Asian republics and India.
The German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber first described Felis caracal in 1776 from a specimen collected from Table Mountain, South Africa, which is considered the type locality of the species. The generic name Caracal was first used by the British naturalist John Edward Gray in 1843 on the basis of a type specimen collected near the Cape of Good Hope.
The word caracal is derived from the Turkish words “kara kulak”, which means “black ear”.
The caracal has been classified variously with Lynx and Felis in the past, but molecular evidence supports a monophyletic genus that is closely allied with the African golden cat and serval.
The caracal is distinguished from Felis by the presence of a long tuft on the tip of the ear, exceeding half the length of the ear. There is no trace of pattern in the coat, except a few spots on the underside and inside of the fore legs. It is a slender, long-legged cat of medium size with a relatively short tail. The fur on the back and sides is generally of a uniform tawny grey or reddish, frosted-sand colour. The belly and the undersides of the legs and chest are whitish and spotted or blotched with pale markings. The tufted ears are black-backed. Black caracals also occur. The skull is high and rounded. The jaw is short, stoutly built and equipped with large powerful teeth. About 92% of caracals lack the second upper premolar teeth. 
Facial markings comprise a dark line running down the center of the forehead to near the nose, and another one running from the inner edge of the eye to the nostrils. The pupils of the eyes contract to form circles. A light-colored ring encircles the eyes, and a rather indistinct dark brown patch occurs over each eye. There are white patches on either side of the nose. The inner surface of the pinna is covered with small white hairs. Numerous stiff hairs are growing from between the pads and are probably an adaption of moving through soft sand.

source