Elucidate

Blog just for my science interests, keeping my personal life outta this one. Nothing I post is my own unless otherwise stated.

discoverynews:

Sea Urchin-Inspired House Captures Tidal Energy

If you’ve ever dreamed of having a seafront home shaped like a sea urchin — who hasn’t? — then hold onto your swim fins.

The Hydroelectric Tidal House, envisioned by architectural designer Margot Krasojević, draws inspiration from some of nature’s weirdest sea creatures — echinoderms like starfish and sea urchins whose symmetrical shapes have long fascinated biologists. Learn more

discoverynews:

Schizophrenia Is Actually Eight Genetic Disorders

New research published in the American Journal of Psychiatrysuggests that schizophrenia is not a single disease, but rather a group of eight genetically distinct disorders, each of them with its own set of symptoms. The finding could result in improved diagnosis and treatment, while also shedding light on how genes work together to cause complex disorders.

(via afro-dominicano)

neurosciencestuff:

Neuroscientists decode conscious experiences with Hitchcock film

Western researchers have extended their game-changing brain scanning techniques by showing that a short Alfred Hitchcock movie can be used to detect consciousness in vegetative state patients. The study included a Canadian participant who had been entirely unresponsive for 16 years, but is now known to be aware and able to follow the plot of movies.

Lorina Naci, a postdoctoral fellow from Western’s Brain and Mind Institute, and her Western colleagues, Rhodri Cusack, Mimma Anello and Adrian Owen, reported their findings today in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS), in a study titled, A common neural code for similar conscious experiences in different individuals.

While inside the 3T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scanner at Western’s Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping, participants watched a highly engaging short film by Alfred Hitchcock. Movie viewing elicited a common pattern of synchronized brain activity. The long-time unresponsive participant’s brain response during the same movie strongly resembled that of the healthy participants, suggesting not only that he was consciously aware, but also that he understood the movie.

“For the first time, we show that a patient with unknown levels of consciousness can monitor and analyze information from their environment, in the same way as healthy individuals,” said Naci, lead researcher on the new study. “We already know that up to one in five of these patients are misdiagnosed as being unconscious and this new technique may reveal that that number is even higher.”

Owen, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging, explained, “This approach can detect not only whether a patient is conscious, but also what that patient might be thinking. Thus, it has important practical and ethical implications for the patient’s standard of care and quality of life.”

The researchers hope that this novel method will enable better understanding of behaviorally unresponsive patients, who may be misdiagnosed as lacking consciousness.

compoundchem:

Today’s graphic looks at the 20 common amino acids that are combined to make up the proteins in our bodies. It also gives the three-letter and one-letter codes for each, as well as denoting whether they are ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’.

Read more information & grab the PDF here: http://wp.me/p4aPLT-tu

(via science-junkie)

spacetimecontinumm:


Terraformation of Mars: A New Look
We look at Mars now as a forgotten Red Planet that almost seems barren and life-less judging from our available images and study of it. But study shows Mars was once as ecologically prosperous as our own Earth. But what happened to all of its waters? Better yet why is it so dry and lacking any plants? Once the abundance of oxygen left and the waters froze over or dried off the planet became what it is today. But what if we can in a way reactivate’ Mars? Welcome to Mars, Terraformed’.
About Terraforming
Transforming Mars will be a long and complicated process. But this is exactly the type of subject that interests space researchers like Christopher McKay of NASA Ames Research Center. First, greenhouse gases, like chlorofluorocarbons that contribute to the growing ozone layer on Earth, will be released into the atmosphere. This traps the heat from the Sun and raises the surface temperature by an average of 4 degrees Celsius. In order to achieve this, factories would manufacture chlorofluorocarbons derived from the air and soil. A single factory would require the power equivalent of a large nuclear power plant.
The increasing temperature would vaporize some of the carbon dioxide in the south polar cap. Introducing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would produce additional warming, melting more of the polar cap until it has been vaporized completely. This would produce an average temperature rise of 70 degrees Celsius.
With the temperature this high, ice will start melting, providing the water needed to sustain life. This water would raise the atmospheric pressure to the equivalent of some mountaintops. While this would be a survivable level, it may still require the use of an oxygen mask. The next step, which may take up to several centuries, would be to plant trees that thrive on carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

NASA: Terraforming Mars
Terraforming is the process of transforming a hostile environment into one suitable for human life. Being that Mars is the most Earth-like planet, it is the best candidate for terraforming. Once just the subject of science fiction novels, it is now becoming a viable research area. The famed astronomer and Pulitzer prize winner, Carl Sagan, says that there is enormous promise in the search for ancient life on Mars. If life was once sustainable on Mars, it is important to know what caused Mars to evolve into the cold and lifeless planet it is today. With this knowledge, we can terraform Mars by reversing the process.
NASA scientists believe that it is technologically possible at the present time to create considerable global climate changes, allowing humans to live on Mars. But this will not be by any means an easy task. Raising the atmospheric pressure and surface temperature alone could be achieved in a few decades.
This research has strong environmental implications for Earth. What researchers are trying to do involves global warming, a sort of greenhouse effect on the cold planet Mars. Scientists may be able to test their hypotheses about global warming in their attempts to elevate Mars’ surface temperature. Likewise, once theories, they may be applied to our own planet in an attempt to reverse environmental damage done by pollution and deforestation.

spacetimecontinumm:

Terraformation of Mars: A New Look

We look at Mars now as a forgotten Red Planet that almost seems barren and life-less judging from our available images and study of it. But study shows Mars was once as ecologically prosperous as our own Earth. But what happened to all of its waters? Better yet why is it so dry and lacking any plants? Once the abundance of oxygen left and the waters froze over or dried off the planet became what it is today. But what if we can in a way reactivate’ Mars? Welcome to Mars, Terraformed’.

About Terraforming

Transforming Mars will be a long and complicated process. But this is exactly the type of subject that interests space researchers like Christopher McKay of NASA Ames Research Center. First, greenhouse gases, like chlorofluorocarbons that contribute to the growing ozone layer on Earth, will be released into the atmosphere. This traps the heat from the Sun and raises the surface temperature by an average of 4 degrees Celsius. In order to achieve this, factories would manufacture chlorofluorocarbons derived from the air and soil. A single factory would require the power equivalent of a large nuclear power plant.

The increasing temperature would vaporize some of the carbon dioxide in the south polar cap. Introducing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would produce additional warming, melting more of the polar cap until it has been vaporized completely. This would produce an average temperature rise of 70 degrees Celsius.

With the temperature this high, ice will start melting, providing the water needed to sustain life. This water would raise the atmospheric pressure to the equivalent of some mountaintops. While this would be a survivable level, it may still require the use of an oxygen mask. The next step, which may take up to several centuries, would be to plant trees that thrive on carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

image

NASA: Terraforming Mars

Terraforming is the process of transforming a hostile environment into one suitable for human life. Being that Mars is the most Earth-like planet, it is the best candidate for terraforming. Once just the subject of science fiction novels, it is now becoming a viable research area. The famed astronomer and Pulitzer prize winner, Carl Sagan, says that there is enormous promise in the search for ancient life on Mars. If life was once sustainable on Mars, it is important to know what caused Mars to evolve into the cold and lifeless planet it is today. With this knowledge, we can terraform Mars by reversing the process.

NASA scientists believe that it is technologically possible at the present time to create considerable global climate changes, allowing humans to live on Mars. But this will not be by any means an easy task. Raising the atmospheric pressure and surface temperature alone could be achieved in a few decades.

This research has strong environmental implications for Earth. What researchers are trying to do involves global warming, a sort of greenhouse effect on the cold planet Mars. Scientists may be able to test their hypotheses about global warming in their attempts to elevate Mars’ surface temperature. Likewise, once theories, they may be applied to our own planet in an attempt to reverse environmental damage done by pollution and deforestation.

(via we-are-star-stuff)

ted:

SCIENCE NEWS! There’s life way, way below Antarctica — chilling out in a subglacial lake. Just a few weeks ago, a team of scientists confirmed that half a mile beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, a bunch of tiny, single-celled organisms are alive and well… in a lake boasting sub-zero temperatures and no access to sunlight. 

The discovery is groundbreaking, leading some to wonder if there might also be life on a similar place — Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. 

John Priscu is one of the lead scientists behind the study. In a talk at TEDxBozeman, he explains what it’s like to be a scientist drilling though thousands of feet of ice while living in a tent in Antarctica. 

Watch the whole talk here»

Photos courtesy of NASA

(via we-are-star-stuff)

archiemcphee:

We see clouds so often that it’s easy to forget how amazing they are. Thankfully German astronaut and geophysicist Alexander Gerst is currently aboard the International Space Station where he often spends his free time taking countless extraordinary photos of the Earth as it’s whizzing by 205 miles below.

Gerst is particularly fond of photographing dramatic shadows cast by cloud formations - something that we cannot see down here on Earth. These stunning photos remind how awesome clouds are as they cast shadows that stretch for thousands of miles across the planet’s surface. Shadows so long that they eventually disappear into the black horizon.

Follow Alexander Gerst’s Twitter feed for new photos shared daily.

[via Colossal]

(via afro-dominicano)

astrodidact:

Even with cranes, helicopters, tractors and trucks at our disposal, it would be tough to construct the Great Pyramid of Giza today. Its construction 4,500 years ago is so astounding in some people’s eyes that they invoke mystical or even alien involvement. But the current theory of the building of the Great Pyramid — the notion that it was assembled from the inside out, via a spiraling internal ramp — is probably still the best construction plan.

Following that plan, we could replicate the Wonder of the Ancient World for a cool $5 billion.

First, let’s look at the blueprint: The pyramid is 756 feet long on each side, 481 feet high, and composed of 2.3 million stones weighing nearly 3 tons each for a total mass of 6.5 million tons. Legend has it that the structure was erected in just 20 years’ time, meaning that a block had to have been moved into place about every 5 minutes of each day and night. That pace would have required the (slave) labor of thousands. While traditional theories hold that the pyramid was built via a long external ramp, such a ramp would have had to wind around for more than a mile to be shallow enough to drag stones up, and it would have had a stone volume twice that of the pyramid itself.

A new, more economical theory gaining traction among architects and Egyptologists holds that the bottom third of the pyramid’s height was constructed by stones dragged up an external ramp. But above that — for the remaining 33 percent or so of the pyramidal volume — the Egyptians worked their way up through the inside of the structure, building around a gently sloping internal ramp and fitting stone blocks into place as they ascended. Furthermore, the workers could have re-used the stones quarried for the external ramp to build the pyramid’s upper echelons, so that nothing went to waste. 

Read more:

http://www.livescience.com/18589-cost-build-great-pyramid-today.html

(via astrodidact)

neurosciencestuff:

Researcher Develops and Proves Effectiveness of New Drug for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

According to recent studies, approximately one out of every 40 individuals in the United States is a carrier of the gene responsible for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a neurodegenerative disease that causes muscles to weaken over time. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have made a recent breakthrough with the development of a new compound found to be highly effective in animal models of the disease. In April, a patent was filed for the compound for use in SMA.

“The strategy our lab is using to fight SMA is to ‘repress the repressor,’” said Chris Lorson, a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center and professor in the MU Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. “It’s a lot like reading a book, but in this case, the final chapter of the book—or the final exon of the genetic sequence—is omitted. The exciting part is that the important chapter is still there—and can be tricked into being read correctly, if you know how. The new SMA therapeutic compound, an antisense oligonucleotide, repairs expression of the gene affected by the disease.”

In individuals affected by SMA, the spinal motor neuron-1 (SMN1) gene is mutated and lacks the ability to process a key protein that helps muscle neurons function. Muscles in the lower extremities are usually affected first, followed by muscles in the upper extremities, including areas around the neck and spine.

Fortunately, humans have a nearly identical copy gene called SMN2. Lorson’s drug targets that specific genetic sequence and allows proper “editing” of the SMN2 gene. The drug allows the SMN2 gene to bypass the defective gene and process the protein that helps the muscle neurons function.

Lorson’s breakthrough therapeutic compound was patented in April. His research found that the earlier the treatment can be administered in mice with SMA, the better the outcome. In mice studies, the drug improved the survival rate by 500 to 700 percent, with a 90 percent improvement demonstrated in severe SMA cases, according to the study.

Although there is no cure for SMA currently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has listed SMA as the neurological disease closest to finding a cure, due in part to effective drugs like the one developed in Lorson’s lab.