New class of synthetic molecules mimics antibodies

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:36pm
The first synthetic molecules that have both the targeting and response functions of antibodies have been crafted by scientists. The new molecules -- synthetic antibody mimics -- attach themselves simultaneously to disease cells and disease-fighting cells. The result is a highly targeted immune response, similar to the action of natural human antibodies.
Categories: Science

Researchers' recipe: Cook farm waste into energy

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:36pm
Researchers are studying how to make biofuels from farm waste, especially 'wet' waste, such as corn husks, tomato vines and manure, that is typically difficult to use. They have developed a fairly simple procedure, pressure cooking, to transport waste and produce energy from it. Cooking farm waste yields compact, easily transportable material that will not degrade and can be used in energy-producing plants, they say.
Categories: Science

Watch out Internet meanies: Game could soon be over for you

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:36pm
Bullies and mean girls have been around forever but, with the arrival of smartphones and social media, meanness has taken on new forms and dramatically extended its reach. Digital abuse is now so widespread, and such are its dramatic effects on victims, that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a stern warning about the risks posed by cyberbullying to adolescents’ mental health. But 'how much do we really know about how to tackle online bullies?,' asks a new study.
Categories: Science

Privacy policies good for big business, not so good for consumers

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:35pm
Research suggests effective self regulation has yet to emerge for the majority of businesses whose privacy policies keep them from sharing consumers’ private information, but are not readable by the average consumer.
Categories: Science

Employees who are open about religion are happier, study suggests

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:35pm
Employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not, according to a new study.
Categories: Science

Great Lakes pollution no longer driven by airborne sources; land, rivers now bigger factors

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:35pm
A researcher who measured organic pollutants in the air and water around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario has found that airborne emissions are no longer the primary cause of the lakes’ contamination. Instead, most of the lakes’ chemical pollutants come from sources on land or in rivers.
Categories: Science

Amputee makes history controlling two modular prosthetic limbs

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:35pm
A Colorado man made history this summer when he became the first bilateral shoulder-level amputee to wear and simultaneously control two modular prosthetic limbs. Most importantly, the patient, who lost both arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago, was able to operate the system by simply thinking about moving his limbs, performing a variety of tasks during a short training period.
Categories: Science

A Chinese Dam is Stealing Time!

Underground Stream - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:20pm

This may sound to you like the plot of the next Austin Powers movie, whereby Dr. Evil seeks to steal time and then sell it back to the world for ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS!

Alas, this is no such story, much as I might like to watch it.  This is the story of how the Chinese government is trying to steal time and then sell it back to the world for…OK no, it isn’t that either.

This is the story of a hydroelectric dam in China that has effectively stolen time, though no word yet on its demands for the return of that time.  You see, the Three Gorges Dam that currently spans the Yangtze River in the Hubei province of China is…well, it’s stealing time.

The Three Gorges Dam is one of the most ambitious renewable energy projects that’s ever been attempted anywhere, and is currently the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.  It’s a project that’s a hundred years in the making, having been conceived in 1919 by Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China.  The dam was officially completed on July 4, 2012 (which eerily mirrors the narrative of the semi-flaccid blockbuster movie 2012).  It now generates roughly 22.5 million kilowatts of energy, which is equivalent to fifteen nuclear reactors.  So, you know, it won’t cause any Godzilla-like mutation – that’s Japan’s territory anyway.

Three Gorges provides electricity for nine provinces and two major cities, accounting for roughly 15 percent of China’s total hydroelectric consumption.  It has also made the Yangtze River (up-stream) considerably wider and deeper, though this was actually by design.  Officials hoped it would augment river shipping traffic, allowing for easier exchange of goods between provinces, thus stimulating their economy.

Of course, you can’t change the size and flow of a major river to that extent without some environmental consequences.  The dam has displaced nearly 1.3 million people as their former homes are now under water.  It has also, obviously, destroyed many riverside habitats, both through flooding up-river and drought down-river, and has increased the risk of landslides in certain locations drastically.  Not to mention the disruption to fishing communities and those who rely on regional fisheries for work and sustenance.

Even though it’s been quite controversial both in China and elsewhere, most have accepted that you have to take the good with the bad.  This new information though, may bring the whole thing back into the spotlight.

Right, the dam is stealing time.

That is, of course, not a completely accurate statement.  It’s not stealing anything, what it is doing is slowing the rotation of the earth.  That doesn’t seem much better, actually.

Scientists at NASA have calculated that the mass of the dam, and the shift in flow and capacity of the river have resulted in a change to Earth’s moment of inertia.  According to NASA, as was reported back in 2010, the dam effectively raised 39 trillion kilograms of water nearly 175 meters above sea level.  While certainly a marvel of modern engineering, you may not see the connection.

The moment of inertia is the mass property of a rigid body that determines the torque needed for a desired angular acceleration about an axis of rotation.  Simple, right?

In more common terms, think of a figure skater spinning dizzily on the ice.  As the skater pulls their limbs in toward their body, they begin to spin faster and faster, and vice versa; as they spread their arms and legs out, they slow down.  It all depends on the distribution of mass, the more evenly distributed, the faster the rotation.

What this means for Three Gorges is that they’re essentially sticking their giant cement and water filled arm out and causing us to slow down (not to mention ruining our chances of making gold in figure skating).  There’s no need to panic, mind you.  This happens all the time.

Earthquakes regularly cause changes to our moment of inertia, as do changes to the polar ice caps.  The Moon also affects our rate of spin – and incidentally, as the Moon’s orbit continues to recede away from Earth, it’s causing us to spin slower and slower.  Though at some point it will no longer affect our mass (but don’t worry, we’ll probably be long gone when it does).

Three Gorges however, will only have a very small effect on our moment of inertia.  It results in an increase of .06 microseconds for our daily rotation, and shifts the poles a mere 0.8 inches.  The earthquake in April of 2011, which resulted in the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, shifted the poles by four inches.  What makes Three Gorges special is that it’s the first time a man-made process or structure has had such an effect.

In any event, there’s little that could be done to reverse it now anyway.  Destruction of the dam would cause tenfold the amount of damage that was caused during its construction.  Plus, the project used 27.2 million cubic metres (35.6×106 cu yd) of concrete, and 463,000 tonnes of steel (enough to build 63 Eiffel Towers), so that would be one hell of a demolition project.

Sony Leaks Reveal Hollywood Is Trying To Break DNS

Slashdot - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 4:03pm
schwit1 sends this report from The Verge: Most anti-piracy tools take one of two paths: they either target the server that's sharing the files (pulling videos off YouTube or taking down sites like The Pirate Bay) or they make it harder to find (delisting offshore sites that share infringing content). But leaked documents reveal a frightening line of attack that's currently being considered by the MPAA: What if you simply erased any record that the site was there in the first place? To do that, the MPAA's lawyers would target the Domain Name System that directs traffic across the internet. The tactic was first proposed as part of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2011, but three years after the law failed in Congress, the MPAA has been looking for legal justification for the practice in existing law and working with ISPs like Comcast to examine how a system might work technically. If a takedown notice could blacklist a site from every available DNS provider, the URL would be effectively erased from the internet. No one's ever tried to issue a takedown notice like that, but this latest memo suggests the MPAA is looking into it as a potentially powerful new tool in the fight against piracy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Holiday Lights From Space Tell Cultural Tale | Video

Space.com - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:51pm
Imagery from the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite show lighting patterns change on holidays around the world. Energy usage varies across across different cultural and socioeconomic areas.
Categories: Science

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Slashdot - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: IEEE Spectrum reports on a study out of NASA exploring the idea that manned missions to Venus are possible if astronauts deploy and live in airships once they arrive. Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing. Soviet missions in 1985 were able to get much more data — 46 hours worth — by suspending their probes from balloons. The new study refines that concept: "At 50 kilometers above its surface, Venus offers one atmosphere of pressure and only slightly lower gravity than Earth. Mars, in comparison, has a "sea level" atmospheric pressure of less than a hundredth of Earth's, and gravity just over a third Earth normal. The temperature at 50 km on Venus is around 75 C, which is a mere 17 degrees hotter than the highest temperature recorded on Earth. The defining feature of these missions is the vehicle that will be doing the atmospheric exploring: a helium-filled, solar-powered airship. The robotic version would be 31 meters long (about half the size of the Goodyear blimp), while the crewed version would be nearly 130 meters long, or twice the size of a Boeing 747. The top of the airship would be covered with more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, with a gondola slung underneath for instruments and, in the crewed version, a small habitat and the ascent vehicle that the astronauts would use to return to Venus's orbit, and home."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Slashdot - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: IEEE Spectrum reports on a study out of NASA exploring the idea that manned missions to Venus are possible if astronauts deploy and live in airships once they arrive. Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing. Soviet missions in 1985 were able to get much more data — 46 hours worth — by suspending their probes from balloons. The new study refines that concept: "At 50 kilometers above its surface, Venus offers one atmosphere of pressure and only slightly lower gravity than Earth. Mars, in comparison, has a "sea level" atmospheric pressure of less than a hundredth of Earth's, and gravity just over a third Earth normal. The temperature at 50 km on Venus is around 75 C, which is a mere 17 degrees hotter than the highest temperature recorded on Earth. The defining feature of these missions is the vehicle that will be doing the atmospheric exploring: a helium-filled, solar-powered airship. The robotic version would be 31 meters long (about half the size of the Goodyear blimp), while the crewed version would be nearly 130 meters long, or twice the size of a Boeing 747. The top of the airship would be covered with more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, with a gondola slung underneath for instruments and, in the crewed version, a small habitat and the ascent vehicle that the astronauts would use to return to Venus's orbit, and home."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Slashdot - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: IEEE Spectrum reports on a study out of NASA exploring the idea that manned missions to Venus are possible if astronauts deploy and live in airships once they arrive. Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing. Soviet missions in 1985 were able to get much more data — 46 hours worth — by suspending their probes from balloons. The new study refines that concept: "At 50 kilometers above its surface, Venus offers one atmosphere of pressure and only slightly lower gravity than Earth. Mars, in comparison, has a "sea level" atmospheric pressure of less than a hundredth of Earth's, and gravity just over a third Earth normal. The temperature at 50 km on Venus is around 75 C, which is a mere 17 degrees hotter than the highest temperature recorded on Earth. The defining feature of these missions is the vehicle that will be doing the atmospheric exploring: a helium-filled, solar-powered airship. The robotic version would be 31 meters long (about half the size of the Goodyear blimp), while the crewed version would be nearly 130 meters long, or twice the size of a Boeing 747. The top of the airship would be covered with more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, with a gondola slung underneath for instruments and, in the crewed version, a small habitat and the ascent vehicle that the astronauts would use to return to Venus's orbit, and home."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Slashdot - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: IEEE Spectrum reports on a study out of NASA exploring the idea that manned missions to Venus are possible if astronauts deploy and live in airships once they arrive. Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing. Soviet missions in 1985 were able to get much more data — 46 hours worth — by suspending their probes from balloons. The new study refines that concept: "At 50 kilometers above its surface, Venus offers one atmosphere of pressure and only slightly lower gravity than Earth. Mars, in comparison, has a "sea level" atmospheric pressure of less than a hundredth of Earth's, and gravity just over a third Earth normal. The temperature at 50 km on Venus is around 75 C, which is a mere 17 degrees hotter than the highest temperature recorded on Earth. The defining feature of these missions is the vehicle that will be doing the atmospheric exploring: a helium-filled, solar-powered airship. The robotic version would be 31 meters long (about half the size of the Goodyear blimp), while the crewed version would be nearly 130 meters long, or twice the size of a Boeing 747. The top of the airship would be covered with more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, with a gondola slung underneath for instruments and, in the crewed version, a small habitat and the ascent vehicle that the astronauts would use to return to Venus's orbit, and home."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Slashdot - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: IEEE Spectrum reports on a study out of NASA exploring the idea that manned missions to Venus are possible if astronauts deploy and live in airships once they arrive. Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing. Soviet missions in 1985 were able to get much more data — 46 hours worth — by suspending their probes from balloons. The new study refines that concept: "At 50 kilometers above its surface, Venus offers one atmosphere of pressure and only slightly lower gravity than Earth. Mars, in comparison, has a "sea level" atmospheric pressure of less than a hundredth of Earth's, and gravity just over a third Earth normal. The temperature at 50 km on Venus is around 75 C, which is a mere 17 degrees hotter than the highest temperature recorded on Earth. The defining feature of these missions is the vehicle that will be doing the atmospheric exploring: a helium-filled, solar-powered airship. The robotic version would be 31 meters long (about half the size of the Goodyear blimp), while the crewed version would be nearly 130 meters long, or twice the size of a Boeing 747. The top of the airship would be covered with more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, with a gondola slung underneath for instruments and, in the crewed version, a small habitat and the ascent vehicle that the astronauts would use to return to Venus's orbit, and home."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Slashdot - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: IEEE Spectrum reports on a study out of NASA exploring the idea that manned missions to Venus are possible if astronauts deploy and live in airships once they arrive. Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing. Soviet missions in 1985 were able to get much more data — 46 hours worth — by suspending their probes from balloons. The new study refines that concept: "At 50 kilometers above its surface, Venus offers one atmosphere of pressure and only slightly lower gravity than Earth. Mars, in comparison, has a "sea level" atmospheric pressure of less than a hundredth of Earth's, and gravity just over a third Earth normal. The temperature at 50 km on Venus is around 75 C, which is a mere 17 degrees hotter than the highest temperature recorded on Earth. The defining feature of these missions is the vehicle that will be doing the atmospheric exploring: a helium-filled, solar-powered airship. The robotic version would be 31 meters long (about half the size of the Goodyear blimp), while the crewed version would be nearly 130 meters long, or twice the size of a Boeing 747. The top of the airship would be covered with more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, with a gondola slung underneath for instruments and, in the crewed version, a small habitat and the ascent vehicle that the astronauts would use to return to Venus's orbit, and home."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Novel insights into pathogen behavior

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:13pm
New insights into the behavior of an important bacterial pathogen have been provided by researchers. The researchers investigated, using combination of experiments and computational modeling, how bacteria swarm in groups containing millions of cells. "We show in this paper that appendages of this bacterium called 'pili' link together to alter group motion and give swarming groups a form of braking power," an author explained.
Categories: Science

Heat boosts phthalate emissions from vinyl crib mattress covers

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:13pm
The US continues to look at the use and regulation of phthalates, which have been associated with health problems. Of particular concern is the safety of these plastic additives to children. A new study aims to improve our understanding of one possible exposure route for babies: vinyl crib mattress covers. Scientists report that as these covers warm up, they emit more phthalates into the air.
Categories: Science

Not just for the holidays, mistletoe could fight obesity-related liver disease

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:13pm
Mistletoe hanging in doorways announces that the holidays are just around the corner. For some people, however, the symbolic plant might one day represent more than a kiss at Christmas time: It may mean better liver health. Researchers have found that a compound produced by a particular variety of the plant can help fight obesity-related liver disease in mice.
Categories: Science

Hugs help protect against stress, infection, say researchers

Science Daily - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 3:13pm
Researchers tested whether hugs act as a form of social support, protecting stressed people from getting sick. They found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.
Categories: Science