The Man in the Zebra Suit Knows the Secret of the Stripes

Wired News - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 1:00pm
Tim Caro has spent 20 years trying to figure out why zebras have stripes. And he finally has an answer. The post The Man in the Zebra Suit Knows the Secret of the Stripes appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Caffeine May Counter Age-Related Inflammation, Says Study

Slashdot - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 1:00pm
According to a new Stanford study published in the journal Nature Medicine, caffeine may help to counter the inflammatory process that occurs in some older people. The researchers have found a connection between advancing age, systemic inflammation, cardiovascular disease and coffee consumption by analyzing blood samples, survey data and medical and family histories obtained from more than 100 human participants in a multiyear study. Stanford Medical Center Report adds: The study implicates this inflammatory process as a driver of cardiovascular disease and increased rates of mortality overall. Metabolites, or breakdown products, of nucleic acids -- the molecules that serve as building blocks for our genes -- circulating in the blood can trigger this inflammatory process, the study found. The study also provides evidence that caffeine and its own metabolites may counter the action of these circulating nucleic-acid metabolites, possibly explaining why coffee drinkers tend to live longer than abstainers. Notably, this inflammatory mechanism was found to be activated only in some, but not all, of the older study participants. Those in whom it was relatively quiescent tended to drink more caffeinated beverages. Laboratory experiments revealed that the mechanism was directly countered by caffeine and associated compounds. For the new study, the researchers compared blood drawn from older versus younger study participants to see which genes tended to be more highly activated in older people. They zeroed in on two clusters of genes whose activity was associated with the production of a potent circulating inflammatory protein called IL-1-beta. The genes within each cluster appeared to work in coordination with one another. The researchers found that incubating a type of immune cell with two of those nucleic-acid metabolites boosted activity in one of the gene clusters, resulting in increased IL-1-beta production. When injected into mice, the substances triggered massive systemic inflammation, along with high blood pressure. In addition, immune cells infiltrated and clogged the animals' kidneys, increasing renal pressure substantially. Intrigued by the correlation between older participants' health, gene-cluster activation and self-reported rates of caffeine consumption, the researchers followed up and verified that blood from the group with low cluster activity was enriched for caffeine and a number of its metabolites, compared with blood from the group with high cluster activity. (Examples of these metabolites are theophylline, also found in tea, and theobromine, which abounds in chocolate.) Incubating immune cells with caffeine and its breakdown products along with the inflammation-triggering nucleic acid metabolites substantially prevented the latter from exerting their powerful inflammatory effect on the cells.

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Categories: Science

Tech’s Favorite School Faces Its Biggest Test: the Real World

Wired News - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 12:00pm
Personalized learning has taken off in high-powered charter schools. Now proponents are faced with figuring out how to make it work for everyone. The post Tech's Favorite School Faces Its Biggest Test: the Real World appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Norway’s Reindeer Police Are Here to Save the Day

Wired News - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 12:00pm
Meet the people who follow around reindeer all day. Yes really. The post Norway’s Reindeer Police Are Here to Save the Day appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Darpa’s Off-Roaders Ditch Windows for a Digital World View

Wired News - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 12:00pm
The inside of the tank of the future will feel a lot more like a video game. The post Darpa's Off-Roaders Ditch Windows for a Digital World View appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

How a Mere Prick of the Finger Can Diagnose a Concussion

Wired News - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 12:00pm
Recognizing mild concussions is crucial for preventing deaths, and now there's a way to do that more accurately than ever before, with your blood. The post How a Mere Prick of the Finger Can Diagnose a Concussion appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Eugene Cernan's Legacy: Apollo 17 Commander's Footprints Still on the Moon

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 11:27am
The tracks Cernan — who died Monday (Jan. 16) at age 82 — and Apollo 17 crewmate Harrison Schmitt made on the moon's surface in December 1972 are still visible today.
Categories: Science

Turtle the Size of 2 Earths: Stunning Sunspot Revealed in New Radio Images

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 11:22am
A shadowy turtle twice the size of Earth swims across the sun in new images from the ALMA radio telescope in Chile, viewing the sun for the first time and documenting the area right above its visible surface.
Categories: Science

Milky Way Weighs in Light, Using a Well-Worn Technique

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 11:04am
A new measurement of the mass of Milky Way galaxy suggests that Earth's galactic home is a bit lighter than many previous estimates, but the scientists behind the new work said it's the method that matters.
Categories: Science

Russia, US Mulling Joint Mission to Venus

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 11:00am
Russia's space program and NASA are working together on a mission to Venus that would investigate some of the scorching-hot planet's biggest mysteries, including, perhaps, whether it harbors life.
Categories: Science

Scientists Turn Docile Mice Into Ruthless Hunters

Slashdot - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 10:00am
BenBoy writes: A couple of years ago, a story surfaced about smarter mice: Scientists Create Super-intelligent Mice, Discover They're Also Very Laid Back. Well, implicit challenge accepted! 2017 brings us a report from Cell, via The Scientist: "Neural circuits in the amygdala are responsible for predatory behavior in mice, according to a study published January 12 in Cell. Using optogenetics, a technique that uses light to turn neural circuits on and off, a group of researchers led by neuroscientist Ivan de Araujo of Yale University was able to turn docile mice into ruthless hunters. Earlier research revealed that the amygdala, an almond-shaped brain structure most commonly linked to fear, was active when rats were hunting and feeding. To see whether this brain region was actually controlling predatory behavior, Araujo and colleagues decided to use optogenetics to selectively activate specific neurons in mice, with light. When the researchers activated the amygdala, docile mice attacked everything from bottle caps to live insects. Even when there was no prey in sight, the mice displayed feeding behavior -- moving their jaws and lifted their paws as if holding a piece of food. Once the light was switched off, the animals went back to peacefully strolling around their cages." Nuclear death-mice are, we assume, right around the corner.

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'An Outstanding Crewmate': Gene Cernan, Last Man on the Moon, Remembered

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 9:31am
The death of Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, elicited remembrances from his fellow Apollo astronauts and those working to follow in his lunar bootprints. "He was an outstanding crewmate," wrote Apollo 17 lunar module pilot Harrison Schmit
Categories: Science

Giant Mystery Wave Spotted in Atmosphere of Venus

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 8:03am
A huge wave has been spotted in the upper atmosphere of Venus, baffling scientists because it's staying so still.
Categories: Science

Video: Huge Rocket's Tank Test Stand Rises to the Sky

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 8:00am
A giant rocket-tank test stand rises to the sky in a new video released by NASA. The agency showed off the two-year time lapse as part of an announcement that construction is complete on the stand.
Categories: Science

In His Own Words: Gene Cernan on Being the Last Man on the Moon

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 7:39am
The late Gene Cernan had a lot to be nostalgic about, but his thoughts were by no means trapped in the past.
Categories: Science

Japanese Spacecraft Spots Massive Gravity Wave In Venus' Atmosphere

Slashdot - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 7:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Japanese probe Akatsuki has observed a massive gravity wave in the atmosphere of Venus. This is not the first time such a wave was observed on the Solar System's second planet, but it is the largest ever recorded, stretching just over 6,000 miles from end to end. Its features also suggest that the dynamics of Venus' atmosphere are more complex than previously thought. An atmospheric gravity wave is a ripple in the density of a planet's atmosphere, according to the European Space Agency. Akatsuki spotted this particular gravity wave, described in a paper published today in Nature Geoscience, when the probe arrived at the planet on December 7th, 2015. The spacecraft then lost sight of it on December 12th, 2015, because of a change in Akatsuki's orbit. When the probe returned to a position to observe the bow-shaped structure on January 15th, 2016, the bright wave had vanished. What sets the huge December wave apart from previously discovered ones is that it appeared to be stationary above a mountainous region on the planet's surface, despite the background atmospheric winds. The study's authors believe that the bright structure is the result of a gravity wave that was formed in the lower atmosphere as it flowed over the planet's mountainous terrain. It's not clear how the wave exactly propagates to the planet's upper atmosphere, where clouds rotate faster than the planets itself -- four days instead of the 243 days it takes Venus to rotate once.

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Categories: Science

Gene Cernan's 'Most Memorable' Footprints - 'The Last Man on the Moon' Clip

Space.com - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 6:50am
"Walking up the ladder was one of the most memorable moments for me because I looked down on my footprints and I knew I wasn't coming this way again," said Apollo 17 commander Eugene Andrew "Gene" Cernan.
Categories: Science

Study Finds Link Between Profanity and Honesty

Slashdot - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 3:30am
A team of researchers from the Netherlands, the UK, the U.S. and Hong Kong report in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science that people who use profanity are less likely to be associated with lying and deception. Neuroscience News reports: Profanity is obscene language which, in some social settings is considered inappropriate and unacceptable. It often refers to language that contains sexual references, blasphemy or other vulgar terms. It's usually related to the expression of emotions such as anger, frustration or surprise. But profanity can also be used to entertain and win over audiences. As dishonesty and profanity are both considered deviant they are often viewed as evidence of low moral standards. On the other hand, profanity can be positively associated with honesty. It is often used to express unfiltered feelings and sincerity. The researchers cite the example of President-elect Donald Trump who used swear words in some of his speeches while campaigning in last year's U.S. election and was considered, by some, to be more genuine than his rivals. The international team of researchers set out to gauge people's views about this sort of language in a series of questionnaires which included interactions with social media users. In the first questionnaire 276 participants were asked to list their most commonly used and favorite swear words. They were also asked to rate their reasons for using these words and then took part in a lie test to determine whether they were being truthful or simply responding in the way they thought was socially acceptable. Those who wrote down a higher number of curse words were less likely to be lying. A second survey involved collecting data from 75,000 Facebook users to measure their use of swear words in their online social interactions. The research found that those who used more profanity were also more likely to use language patterns that have been shown in previous research to be related to honesty, such as using pronouns like "I" and "me."

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Categories: Science

Apple To Offer 32GB of Desktop RAM, Kaby Lake In Top-End 2017 MacBook Pro, Says Analyst

Slashdot - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 2:00am
AppleInsider has obtained a note to investors from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that says Apple's 2017 laptop line will focus on internal component updates, including the platform-wide adoption of Intel's Kaby Lake architecture. What's more is that Apple is expected to manufacture a 15-inch MacBook Pro with up to 32GB of RAM in the fourth quarter of 2017. AppleInsider reports: Apple took flak in releasing its latest MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models with a hard memory cap of 16GB, an minimal allotment viewed as a negative for imaging and video professionals. Responding to customer criticism, Apple said the move was made in a bid to maximize battery life. Essentially, the Intel Skylake CPUs used in Apple's MacBook Pro only support up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 2133MHz. Though Intel does make processors capable of addressing more than 16GB of memory, those particular chipsets rely on less efficient DDR4 RAM and are usually deployed in desktops with access to dedicated mains power. In order to achieve high memory allotments and keep unplugged battery life performance on par with existing MacBook Pro models, Apple will need to move to an emerging memory technology like LPDDR4 or DDR4L. Such hardware is on track for release later this year. As for the 12-inch MacBook, Kuo believes next-generation versions of the thin-and-light will enter mass production in the second quarter with the same basic design aesthetic introduced in 2015. New for 2017 is a 16GB memory option that will make an appearance thanks to Intel's new processor class.

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Categories: Science

Oculus Accused of Destroying Evidence, Zuckerberg To Testify In $2 Billion Lawsuit

Slashdot - Tue, 17/01/2017 - 1:20am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: ZeniMax Media, the parent company of both Bethesda Softworks and Id Software, says it will prove at trial that John Carmack and others at Oculus stole trade secrets to "misappropriate" virtual reality technology that was first developed while Carmack was working at Id Software. What's more, ZeniMax is now accusing Oculus of "intentional destruction of evidence to cover up their wrongdoing." Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Oculus parent company Facebook, is scheduled to respond to those accusations in testimony starting tomorrow, according to a report by Business insider. ZeniMax's statement comes after Carmack testified at trial last week, saying the case was "ridiculous and absurd." His testimony echoed Oculus' initial reaction when ZeniMax's accusations first surfaced in 2014. In court filings leading up to the trial, ZeniMax detailed its case that Carmack, while still an employee at Id Software, "designed the specifications and functionality embodied in the Rift SDK and directed its development." Carmack's technology and guidance allegedly "literally transformed" Oculus founder Palmer Luckey's early Rift prototype from a "primitive virtual reality headset" that was "little more than a display panel." Carmack allegedly used "copyrighted computer code, trade secret information, and technical know-how" from his time at ZeniMax after he moved to Oculus as CTO in 2013. As the trial began last week (as reported by a Law360 summary, registration required), Carmack told the court of his development of a virtual reality demo for Doom 3 in 2012 and his search for a VR headset that would be suitable to run it. That's when he says he got in touch with Luckey, leading to the now legendary E3 2012 demo that introduced Oculus to the public. ZeniMax is seeking $2 billion in damage, which matches the value that Facebook paid for Oculus in 2014. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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Categories: Science