Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

15 podcasts that will make you smarter

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

They say the true worth of a man is what he carries in his mind…
but failing that, carrying it in your pocket in case you get bored on long journeys is okay.

CollegeCrunch have compiled a worthwhile list of 15 stimulating podcasts, which is nice of them… Here’s the link

Water on the Moon!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

The extraplanetary oasis-ness was triple-confirmed by Cassini, the Chandrayaan-1 probe, and a few special guest scans by the Deep Impact system on its way to slam into a moving comet – if satellites could be superstars, this would have been a red-carpet event. Each detected the unmistakable spectroscopic signatures of oxygen and hydrogen combinations, meaning that water (H20) or hydroxyl (OH) is definitely up there. Even more interesting it has “weather” variations – more of it near the poles, and it moves around depending on daylight.

This is major moonbase news, as water is the single most difficult component of any manned space mission. The life-giving liquid has a thousand and one applications other than simply “preventing astronauts dying of thirst” – it’s just as essential for machinery as for mankind. Air can be compressed, and we require far less food (by volume), so the crippling cost of any off-Earth endeavour is carrying the liquids – fuel and water. The more of either stuff we can find anywhere the better. Plans for lunar living have so far been based on polar craters, where we suspect deposits of ice remain frozen in shadow (and we’ll know for sure shortly when the LCROSS mission blows one of them up to check – informative and awesome) and the idea of endless fields of fluid-harvesting are the stuff of science-fiction. Which now happen to be true.

(from Daily Galaxy)

Ultramicrobacterial News

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

So these scientists at Penn State have spent the last 12 months incubating an unusual bacteria found in Greenland…
frozen deep within a glacier for a hundred thousand years…
Cue, plague of zombies.

Fortunately, they aren’t the bleeding from the eyes, coughing up your organs sort. The little chaps have been named Herminiimonas Glaciei and are just the fourth in the rather small group of ultramicrobacterium…

”You know you’re doing real science when the words are too big to fit on a scrabble board. These itty-bitty organisms are small enough to pass through sterile filters usually used to purify water and, by the way, they all live in water. None are even remotely pathogenic (so there’s no risk of sickness) but expect a scare-story pandemic when mainstream media eventually notices they exist.”
(Via DailyGalaxy)

Something to Ponder

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Stem Cell guru Robert Lanza just published an interesting book about Biocentric universe theory (the universe is created by life not the other way around).

Here’s an article…

HIV Vaccine

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

There’s an amazing paper that’s just been published on PLoS biology…

Basically, they studied the genes of Old world monkeys which had been found to be resistant to HIV infection, the resistance is caused by the recently identified theta-defensins (cyclic peptides which prevent viruses entering cells).

They then found theta-defensin genes (89.4% intact!) in human ‘junk’ DNA (genes which over our evolution have become inactive due to a ‘nonsense’ mutation).

Astonishingly, they were able to reactivate the gene using aminoglycosides to ignore the nonsense mutation, and produced functional peptides which are active against HIV (in vitro).

Not only is this a great step towards HIV protection but the techniques could unlock all manner of genetic fuctions that we are currently unaware of.

95% of our DNA is inactive ‘junk’ DNA- that’s a lot of potential.
Perhaps we’ll finally be getting that race of super mutants that sci-fi has so thoroughly prepared us for…

Alzheimer’s Breakthrough

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

If Terry Pratchett has got you pondering this devastating disease, then you may be reassured by this paper published in PNAS a few days ago… which highlights the role of insulin to halt the neurological degeneration.

Although the brain once was considered insulin insensitive, it
is now known that central nervous system insulin signaling is important for many
aspects of neuronal function, including plasticity and memory formation.

The team showed that Rosiglitazone (an insulin sensitising drug), potentiates the ability of insulin to protect synapses against ADDLs (Amyloid beta derived diffusible ligands) which are potent central nervous system neurotoxins.

It basically opens up a huge avenue of treatment for this dehumanising degenerative disease, excellent work.