Fear of death may curb youthful texting while driving, study shows

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 2:52pm
While drivers tend to believe it is dangerous to text and drive, many say they can still do it safely. Now researchers say drivers can be discouraged from the practice with public service announcements that evoke their fear of death in graphic terms. The study comes as distracted driving is implicated in thousands of fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year. The researchers cite a National Safety Council estimate that distracted cell phone use accounts for more than one-fourth of all traffic accidents, with as many as 200,000 stemming specifically from texting while driving.
Categories: Science

Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, or Merkel, the soccer coach? Software maps ambiguous names in texts to the right person

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 2:52pm
Computer scientists have developed software that resolves the ambiguity of names within texts automatically. This mapping between mentions and actual entities like persons not only improves search engines, but also makes it possible to analyze huge amounts of text efficiently.
Categories: Science

Follow-up care for older breast cancer survivors needs to be all-encompassing

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 2:52pm
Older women who have overcome breast cancer are likely to struggle with heart disease, osteoporosis and hypertension further on in their lives. Whether these conditions occur or not is influenced by the treatment that patients received to fight cancer, their overall weight and their age. Breast cancer survivors therefore should watch their weight and get regular exercise so that they can enjoy a high quality of life.
Categories: Science

Self-administration of flu vaccine with a patch may be feasible, study suggests

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 2:48pm
The annual ritual of visiting a doctor’s office or health clinic to receive a flu shot may soon be outdated, thanks to the findings of a new study. The research, which involved nearly 100 people recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area, found that test subjects could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves. That suggests the self-administration of vaccines with microneedle patches may one day be feasible, potentially reducing administration costs and relieving an annual burden on health care professionals. The study also suggested that the use of vaccine patches might increase the rate at which the population is vaccinated against influenza.
Categories: Science

Fish tacos: A nutritional lunch

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 2:48pm
An aquaponics project studying the interdependence of fish and plants winds up rolled in tortillas and served with organic coleslaw.
Categories: Science

YouTube Ordered To Remove "Illegal" Copyright Blocking Notices

Slashdot - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 2:33pm
An anonymous reader writes in with new developments in a two-year-old spat between YouTube and GEMA (a German music royalty collection foundation). After the courts ordered YouTube to implement tools to block videos that contained music GEMA licenses, it seems that telling users why content was blocked isn't making GEMA happy. From the article: "GEMA applied for an injunction to force YouTube to change the messages, claiming that they misrepresent the situation and damage GEMA’s reputation. YouTube alone is responsible for blocking the videos, claiming otherwise is simply false, GEMA argued. ... Yesterday the District Court of Munich agreed with the music group and issued an injunction to force YouTube to comply, stating that the notices 'denigrate' GEMA with a 'totally distorted representation of the legal dispute between the parties.' Changing the message to state that videos are not available due to a lack of a licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA would be more appropriate, the Court said." The messages currently reads, "Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the respective music rights." Seems pretty neutral. Non-compliance with the order could result in fines of €250,000 per infraction.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes before they reach land, Stanford-led study says

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 2:21pm

Offshore wind farm (credit: Seimens)

Computer simulations by Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson have shown that offshore wind farms with thousands of wind turbines could have sapped the power of three real-life hurricanes, significantly decreasing their winds and accompanying storm surge, and possibly preventing billions of dollars in damages.

For the past 24 years,  Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, has been developing a complex computer model to study air pollution, energy, weather and climate. A recent application of the model has been to simulate the development of hurricanes. Another has been to determine how much energy wind turbines can extract from global wind currents.

In light of these recent model studies and in the aftermath of hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, he said, it was natural to wonder: what would happen if a hurricane encountered a large array of offshore wind turbines? Would the energy extraction due to the storm spinning the turbines’ blades slow the winds and diminish the hurricane, or would the hurricane destroy the turbines?

So he went about developing the model further and simulating what might happen if a hurricane encountered an enormous wind farm stretching many miles offshore and along the coast. Amazingly, he found that the wind turbines could disrupt a hurricane enough to reduce peak wind speeds by up to 92 mph and decrease storm surge by up to 79 percent.

The study, conducted by Jacobson, and Cristina Archer and Willett Kempton of the University of Delaware, was published online in Nature Climate Change.

The researchers simulated three hurricanes: Sandy and Isaac, which struck New York and New Orleans, respectively, in 2012; and Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

Simulation of Hurricane Katrina wind speeds in the absence (left) and presence (right) of offshore wind turbines, showing significant reduction (blue-purple) of wind speeds (in meters/sec) (credit: Mark Z. Jacobson et al./Nature Climate Change)

“We found that when wind turbines are present, they slow down the outer rotation winds of a hurricane,” Jacobson said. “This feeds back to decrease wave height, which reduces movement of air toward the center of the hurricane, increasing the central pressure, which in turn slows the winds of the entire hurricane and dissipates it faster.”

In the case of Katrina, Jacobson’s model revealed that an array of 78,000 wind turbines off the coast of New Orleans would have significantly weakened the hurricane well before it made landfall.

In the computer model, by the time Hurricane Katrina reached land, its simulated wind speeds had decreased by 80–98 mph and the storm surge had decreased by up to 79 percent.

For Hurricane Sandy, the model projected a wind speed reduction by 78–87 mph and as much as 34 percent decrease in storm surge.

Financial incentives for wind turbines in hurricane zones

Jacobson acknowledges that, in the United States, there has been political resistance to installing a few hundred offshore wind turbines, let alone tens of thousands. But he thinks there are two financial incentives that could motivate such a change.

One is the reduction of hurricane damage cost. Damage from severe hurricanes, caused by high winds and storm surge-related flooding, can run into the billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy, for instance, caused roughly $82 billion in damage across three states.

Second, Jacobson said, the wind turbines would pay for themselves in the long term by generating normal electricity while at the same time reducing air pollution and global warming, and providing energy stability.

“The turbines will also reduce damage if a hurricane comes through,” Jacobson said. “These factors, each on their own, reduce the cost to society of offshore turbines and should be sufficient to motivate their development.”

An alternative plan for protecting coastal cities involves building massive seawalls. Jacobson said that while these might stop a storm surge, they wouldn’t impact wind speed substantially. The cost for these, too, is significant, with estimates running between $10 billion and $40 billion per installation.

Current turbines can withstand wind speeds of up to 112 mph, which is in the range of a category 2 to 3 hurricane, Jacobson said. His study suggests that the presence of massive turbine arrays will likely prevent hurricane winds from reaching those speeds.

Abstract of Nature Climate Change paper

Hurricanes are causing increasing damage to many coastal regions worldwide. Offshore wind turbines can provide substantial clean electricity year-round, but can they also mitigate hurricane damage while avoiding damage to themselves? This study uses an advanced climate–weather computer model that correctly treats the energy extraction of wind turbines to examine this question. It finds that large turbine arrays (300+ GW installed capacity) may diminish peak near-surface hurricane wind speeds by 25–41 m s−1 (56–92 mph) and storm surge by 6–79%. Benefits occur whether turbine arrays are placed immediately upstream of a city or along an expanse of coastline. The reduction in wind speed due to large arrays increases the probability of survival of even present turbine designs. The net cost of turbine arrays (capital plus operation cost less cost reduction from electricity generation and from health, climate, and hurricane damage avoidance) is estimated to be less than today’s fossil fuel electricity generation net cost in these regions and less than the net cost of sea walls used solely to avoid storm surge damage.

Categories: Science

Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

Slashdot - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 1:51pm
New pweidema writes "Michael Teitelbaum, a senior research associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School who has been writing a book on the subject of the current state of employment in science and technology fields, recently spoke at an Education Writers Association Conference about the 'STEM Worker Shortage: Does It Exist and Is Education to Blame?' The National Science Board's biennial book, Science and Engineering Indicators , consistently finds that the U.S. produces many more STEM graduates than the workforce can absorb. Meanwhile, employers say managers are struggling to find qualified workers in STEM fields. What explains these apparently contradictory trends? And as the shortage debate rages, what do we know about the pipeline of STEM-talented students from kindergarten to college, and what happens to them in the job market? An article LA Times summarizes his findings of his findings on the STEM hype: '...some of it comes from the country’s longtime cycle of waxing and waning interest in science; attention seems to focus on science every 10 to 15 years before slacking off. The only forces pushing the idea of STEM doom, he said, are those that have something to gain from it. Mostly those are STEM employers ... that want to pack the labor force with people to suppress wages ... Joining the chorus are universities that want more funding for science programs...'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Terrafugia Wants Their Flying Car To Be Autonomous

Slashdot - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 1:13pm
Lucas123 writes "Terrafugia, a company that has been working on flying car prototypes for years, said it is now leaning toward an autonomous vehicle for safety reasons. Carl Dietrich, co-founder, CEO and CTO at Terrafugia, said at MIT last weekend that the company wants to build something that is statistically safer than driving a car. 'It needs to be faster than driving a car. It needs to be simpler to operate than a plane. It needs to be more convenient than driving a car today. It needs to be sustainable in the long run,' he said. The company's flyable car is designed with foldable wings and falls into the light sport aircraft category. It's expected to take off and land at small, local airports and to drive on virtually any road. Dietrich said the next-generation flying car is a four-seat, plug-in hybrid that doesn't require the operator to be a full-fledged pilot. A spokeswoman said today that the company is probably two years away from production."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes before they reach land

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:50pm
Computer simulations have shown that offshore wind farms with thousands of wind turbines could have sapped the power of three real-life hurricanes, significantly decreasing their winds and accompanying storm surge, and possibly preventing billions of dollars in damages. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the computer model revealed that an array of 78,000 wind turbines off the coast of New Orleans would have significantly weakened the hurricane well before it made landfall.
Categories: Science

How small cosmic seeds grow into big stars

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:49pm
New images provide the most detailed view yet of stellar nurseries within the Snake nebula. These images offer new insights into how cosmic seeds can grow into massive stars. Stretching across almost 100 light-years of space, the Snake nebula is located about 11,700 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus.
Categories: Science

Did five years of drought lead to two years of revolution in Syria?

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:49pm
Negotiators in Geneva might not have brought the conflict in Syria to an end last week, but new research explains how the 2006–10 drought contributed to its start.
Categories: Science

'Super-Earths' may be dead worlds: Being in habitable zone is not enough

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:49pm
In the last 20 years the search for Earth-like planets around other stars has accelerated, with the launch of missions like the Kepler space telescope. Using these and observatories on the ground, astronomers have found numerous worlds that at first sight have similarities with the Earth. A few of these are even in the ‘habitable zone’ where the temperature is just right for water to be in liquid form and so are prime targets in the search for life elsewhere in the universe. New results suggest that for some of the recently discovered super-Earths, such as Kepler-62e and -62f, being in the habitable zone is not enough to make them habitats.
Categories: Science

Glimmer of light in the search for dark matter

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:48pm
Astrophysicists may have identified a trace of dark matter that could signify a new particle: the sterile neutrino. Another research group reported a very similar signal just a few days before.
Categories: Science

Creating complex nanoparticles in one easy step

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:48pm
Nanoparticle research is huge.  That is, the study of nanoparticles, very miniscule objects that act as a unit with specific properties, is a very popular area of study.  With implications in many avenues of science, from biomedicine to laser research, the study of how to create nanoparticles with desirable properties is becoming increasingly important.  Scientists have now made a breakthrough in synthesizing biomedically relevant nanoparticles. 
Categories: Science

New autism definition may decrease diagnosis by one third

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:45pm
New diagnosis guidelines for autism spectrum disorder may reduce by almost one third the total number of people being diagnosed, according to new research. The guidelines, released in May 2013 and the first major update to psychiatric diagnosis criteria in almost two decades, may leave thousands of developmentally delayed children each year without the ASD diagnosis they need to qualify for social services, medical benefits and educational support.
Categories: Science

Climate change causes high but predictable extinction risks

Science Daily - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:45pm
Judging the effects of climate change on extinction may be easier than previously thought, according to a new article. Although widely used assessments of threatened species, such as the IUCN Red List, were not developed with the effects of climate change in mind, a study of 36 amphibian and reptile species endemic to the US has concluded that climate change may not be fundamentally different from other extinction threats in terms of identifying species in danger of extinction.
Categories: Science

Nanopatterned natural biological scaffold for stem cells may allow for softer engineered tissues

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 12:18pm

Highly aligned nanofibers created by fibroblasts form a biological scaffold that could prove an ideal foundation for engineered tissues. Stem cells placed on the scaffold thrived, and it had the added advantage of provoking a very low immune response. (Credit: MTU)

Feng Zhao of Michigan Technological University (MTU) has persuaded fibroblasts — cells that make up the extracellular matrix in the body — to make a well-organized nanopatterned scaffold (support structure). This discovery could have major implications for growing engineered tissue to repair or replace virtually any part of our bodies.

In all multicellular organisms, including people, cells make their own extracellular matrix, a complex, nurturing structure that is essential for many biological functions, including growth and healing. But in the lab, scientists attempting to grow tissue must provide an artificial scaffold.

Typically, researchers construct scaffolds from synthetic materials or natural animal or human substances grown in a Petri dish. (KurzweilAI has reported a variety of such synthetic approaches to creating scaffolds for extracellular matrices.) But such scaffolds have not been able to mimic the highly organized structure of the matrix made by living things — at least until now.

Engineering softer tissues

Zhao’s fibers are a mere 80 nanometers across, similar to fibers in a natural biological matrix. And, since her scaffold is made by cells, it is composed of the same intricate mix of all-natural proteins and sugars found in the body. Plus, its nanofibers are as highly aligned as freshly combed hair.

The trick was to orient the cells on a nano-grate  (130 nm in depth) that guided their growth and the creation of the scaffold. “The cells did the work,” Zhao said.  “The material they made is quite uniform, and of course it is completely biological.”

Stem cells placed on her scaffold thrived, and it had the added advantage of provoking a very low immune response.

“We think this has great potential,” she said. “I think we could use this to engineer softer tissues, like skin, blood vessels and muscle.”

The work is described in the paper “Highly Aligned Nanofibrous Scaffold Derived from Decellularized Human Fibroblasts,”  coauthored by Zhao, postdoctoral researcher Qi Xing and undergraduate Caleb Vogt of MTU and Kam W. Leong of Duke University and published Jan. 29 in Advanced Funcational Materials. Zhao designed the project.  Xing and Vogt did the work, and Leong developed the template for cell growth.

Other Duke University researchers took a different approach, combining a synthetic scaffolding material with gene delivery techniques to direct stem cells into becoming new cartilage, as KurzweilAI reported on Feb. 21. Could gene delivery enhance the MTU process?

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, and Michigan Technological University.

Abstract of Advanced Functional Materials paper

Native tissues are endowed with a highly organized nanofibrous extracellular matrix (ECM) that directs cellular distribution and function. The objective of this study is to create a purely natural, uniform, and highly aligned nano­fibrous ECM scaffold for potential tissue engineering applications. Synthetic nanogratings (130 nm in depth) are used to direct the growth of human dermal fibroblasts for up to 8 weeks, resulting in a uniform 70 μm-thick fibroblast cell sheet with highly aligned cells and ECM nanofibers. A natural ECM scaffold with uniformly aligned nanofibers of 78 ± 9 nm in diameter is generated after removing the cellular components from the fibroblast sheet. The elastic modulus of the scaffold is well maintained after the decellularization process because of the preservation of elastin fibers. Reseeding human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) shows the excellent capacity of the scaffold in directing and supporting cell alignment and proliferation along the underlying fibers. The scaffold’s biocompatibility is further examined by an in vitro inflammation assay with seeded macrophages. The aligned ECM scaffold induces a significantly lower immune response compared to its unaligned counterpart, as detected by the pro-inflammatory cytokines secreted from macrophages. The aligned nanofibrous ECM scaffold holds great potential in engineering organized tissues.

Categories: Science

Dead Pigeons and the Universe's Birth: 5 Weird Facts About Big Bang Theory

Space.com - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 11:57am
It has been 50 years since two scientists found landmark evidence for the Big Bang theory. Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias were using a large horn antenna at Bell Labs in New Jersey to gaze into the Milky Way.
Categories: Science

Meteorite Fragments from Russian Fireball on Display 1 Year After Space Rock Explosion

Space.com - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 11:41am
The explosion of a meteor over the southern Ural region of Russia last year peppered the area with varying sizes of space rock leftovers.
Categories: Science