Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "AP reports that standing by a part of the Apollo 8 spacecraft he once rode, retired astronaut James Lovell read the 1968 Christmastime broadcast from the day he and two others became the first humans to orbit the moon marking the 45th anniversary of the orbit and the famous broadcast. 'The idea of bringing people together by a flight to the moon where we encompassed everybody in our thoughts is still very valid today,' says Lovell. 'The words that we read are very appropriate.' Millions tuned in on Dec. 24, 1968, when Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Lovell circled the moon. A television camera on board took footage of the crater-filled surface as the astronauts read Bible verses describing the creation of Earth. They circled 10 times and began reading from the Book of Genesis on the last orbit. 'It's a foundation of Christianity, Judaism and Islam,' Lovell said of choosing Genesis. 'It is the foundation of most of the world's religions. ... They all had that basis of the Old Testament.' Lovell says at the time the astronauts weren't sure who would be listening and how the broadcast would be taken. The famous "Earthrise" photo was also taken during the mission. Lovell closed with the same message the astronauts did in 1968. 'From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.'"
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A new study has been published in Nature Geoscience (abstract) detailing how scientists correctly anticipated the location and strength of an earthquake earlier this year. On September 5th, a 7.6 earthquake rocked Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula. That region had seen earthquakes of (roughly) magnitude 7 in 1853, 1900, and 1950, so "geoscientists had forecast that a magnitude 7.7 to 7.8 quake should occur around the year 2000, plus or minus 20 years." "The Nicoya Peninsula is prone to earthquakes because it's an area of subduction, where the Cocos Plate is pushing underneath the Caribbean Plate, moving at a rate of about 8.5 centimeters per year. When regions such as this suddenly slip, they produce a megathrust earthquake. Most of the world's largest earthquakes — including the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki quake in Japan in 2011 and the magnitude 9.15 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake in 2004, both of which produced devastating tsunamis — fall into this category. .. The close study of this region allowed scientists to calculate how much strain was building in the fault and in May 2012 they published a study in which they identified two locked spots capable of producing an earthquake similar to the one in 1950. In September of that year, the landward patch ruptured and produced the earthquake. The offshore one is still locked and capable of producing a substantial but smaller earthquake, an aftershock with a magnitude as high as 6.9, the researchers say."
astroengine writes "Through the technique of microlensing, a candidate exomoon has been discovered in orbit around a free-floating planet about 1,600 light-years away toward the galactic bulge. The microlensing event, MOA-2011-BLG-262, was detected by the MOA-II telescope at Mt. John University Observatory (MJUO) in New Zealand and it appears to have a mass of approximately half that of Earth. The host planet is around 4 times the mass of Jupiter. Unfortunately there cannot be further studies of his particular exoplanet-exomoon pair (as microlensing events are transient and random), so the astronomers who made the discovery are remaining cautious and point out that although the exoplanet-exomoon model fits the data the best, there's a possibility that the lensing object may have been a more distant star with a massive exoplanet in tow. Microlensing surveys are, however, sensitive to low mass exoplanets orbiting massive free-floating planets, so this is a tantalizing first-detection. The study's pre-print publication has been uploaded to the arXiv."
ananyo writes "In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, unhappy lovers undergo an experimental brain treatment to erase all memories of each other from their minds. No such fix exists for real-life couples, but researchers report in Nature Neuroscience that a targeted medical intervention helps to reduce specific negative memories in patients who are depressed. The technique, called electroconvulsive (ECT) or electroshock therapy, induces seizures by passing current into the brain through electrode pads placed on the scalp. Despite its sometimes negative reputation, ECT is an effective last-resort treatment for severe depression, and is used today in combination with anaesthesia and muscle relaxants. Marijn Kroes, a neuroscientist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and his colleagues found that by strategically timing ECT bursts, they could target and disrupt patients' memory of a disturbing episode."
Ars Technica reports that the next planned spacewalk in the continuing repairs of the International Space Station's ammonia pump has been delayed, because of problems with the spacesuit worn by astronaut Rick Mastracchio. From the article: "According to Deutsche Welle, the problem is with how the sublimator (a cooling unit) in Mastracchio's suit operated when entering ISS airlock. NASA said the question is whether water entered the sublimator at that time. 'During repressurization of the station's airlock following the spacewalk, a spacesuit configuration issue put the suit Mastracchio was wearing in question for the next excursion,' NASA said in a statement. Delaying the next steps of the valve replacement from Monday until Tuesday will give NASA time to address the issue. Mastracchio is scheduled to wear a backup suit and needs this time to have it resized."
The BBC reports that researchers have discovered a huge pool of meltwater beneath Greenland's ice sheet, trapped "in the air space between particles of ice, similar to the way that fruit juice stays liquid in a slush drink." From the article, based on research published in Nature Geoscience (abstract): "The scientists say the water is prevented from freezing by the large amounts of snow that fall on the surface of the ice sheet late in the summer. This insulates the water from the air temperatures which are below freezing, allowing the water to persist as liquid all year long. Other researchers believe this discovery may help explain disparities between projections of mass loss by climate models and observations from satellites."
An anonymous reader writes: "I hope there are a few open source developers on Slashdot who understand this. As a developer who works alone and remotely (while living with my own family) — and is schizophrenic — there would be times I would feel very high (a surge of uncontrollable thoughts), or low because of the kind of failures that some patients with mental illness would have, and because of the emotional difficulty of being physically alone for 8 hours a day. This led me to decide to work physically together with my co-workers. Have you been in this situation before? If you have, how well did you manage it? (Medications are a part of the therapy as well.)"
The ISS crew can breathe a little easier now; the NY Times reports that the ammonia pump repair that the station has needed has now been partly completed, and in less time than expected. More work is scheduled, but, says The Times: "The astronauts, Col. Michael S. Hopkins of the Air Force and Richard A. Mastracchio, were far ahead of schedule throughout the spacewalk as they detached tubing and electrical connectors from the pump. They were able to remove the 780-pound module and move it to a temporary storage location, a task that had been scheduled for a second spacewalk on Monday. ... Colonel Hopkins and Mr. Mastracchio stepped out of an airlock at 7:01 a.m. Eastern time, and even though they accomplished more than they had set out to do, they were able to return at 12:29 p.m., an hour earlier than had been scheduled. The two encountered few complications." Ars Technica has video, too.
TrueSatan writes "Physicians at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris have inserted a heart made by the French Carmat company. The heart features bovine tissue components used to reduce the clot forming tendencies of fully artificial units and is intended to allow greater freedom of movement to the patient than previous, short-term use, units permitted. It is powered by external, wearable, lithium-ion batteries and is approximately three times heavier than a typical (European) human heart, though the manufacturer intends to reduce the weight and size of the unit so as to allow use by smaller recipients — in particular most women and men from areas of the world where average body size is less than white/Caucasian averages."
astroengine writes "Despite the assurances that the holes seen in Mars rover Curiosity's wheels were just a part of the mission, there seems to be increasing concern for the wheels' worsening condition after the one-ton robot rolled over some craggy terrain. In an upcoming drive, rover drivers will monitor the six wheels over some smooth terrain to assess their condition. "We want to take a full inventory of the condition of the wheels," said Jim Erickson, project manager for the NASA Mars Science Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 'Dents and holes were anticipated, but the amount of wear appears to have accelerated in the past month or so.' Although the wheels are designed to sustain significant damage without impairing driving activities, the monitoring of the situation is essential for future planning."
mrspoonsi sends this news from Scientific American: "The difference between HIV infection and full-blown AIDS is, in large part, the massive die-off of the immune system's CD4 T-cells. But researchers have only observed the virus killing a small portion of those cells, leading to a longstanding question: What makes the other cells disappear? New research shows that the body is killing its own cells in a little-known process. What's more, an existing, safe drug could interrupt that self-destruction, thereby offering a way to treat AIDS. The destructive process has caught scientists by surprise. 'We thought HIV infects a cell, sets up a virus production factory and then the cell dies as a consequence of being overwhelmed by virus. But there are not enough factories to explain the massive losses,' says Warner Greene, director of virology and immunology at the Gladstone Institutes, whose team published two papers today in Science and Nature describing the work. Greene estimates 95 percent of the cells that die in HIV infections are killed through pyroptosis, so the findings raise hope for a new type of treatment that could prevent HIV from progressing into AIDS. 'Inhibiting activation of the immune system is not a new concept, but this gives us a new pathway to target,' says Robert Gallo. And in fact, a drug already exists that can block pyroptosis."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Research scientists could learn an important thing or two from computer scientists, according to a new study (abstract) showing that data underpinning even groundbreaking research tends to disappear over time. Researchers also disappear, though more slowly and only in terms of the email addresses and the other public contact methods that other scientists would normally use to contact them. Almost all the data supporting studies published during the past two years is still available, as are at least some of the researchers, according to a study published Dec. 19 in the journal Current Biology. The odds that supporting data is still available for studies published between 2 years and 22 years ago drops 17 percent every year after the first two. The odds of finding a working email address for the first, last or corresponding author of a paper also dropped 7 percent per year, according to the study, which examined the state of data from 516 studies between 2 years and 22 years old. Having data available from an original study is critical for other scientists wanting to confirm, replicate or build on previous research – goals that are core parts of the evolutionary, usually self-correcting dynamic of the scientific method on which nearly all modern research is based. No matter how invested in their own work, scientists appear to be 'poor stewards' of their own work, the study concluded."
retroworks sends word that a group of researchers has found a chemical that successfully rejuvenated muscle tissue in mice. The scientists "said it was the equivalent of transforming a 60-year-old's muscle to that of a 20-year-old — but muscle strength did not improve." The study (abstract) is being called an "exciting finding" but the researchers are quick to point out the chemical only reverses one aspect of aging. Damage to DNA and shortening of telomeres continues. Still, it's one piece of the puzzle, and the group is hoping to begin clinical trials in 2015.
The Bad Astronomer writes "On December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts saw the Earth rising over the limb of the Moon. The photo they took of this moment — dubbed Earthrise — has become an icon of our need to explore, and to protect our home world. NASA has just released a video explaining how the astronauts were able to capture this unique moment, which included a dash of both coincidence and fast teamwork."
KentuckyFC writes "The universe today is filled with beautiful spiral galaxies — but it hasn't always been this way. In the early universe, there were no spiral galaxies, raising an interesting question: when did galaxies get their spirals, and how did they emerge? Now astronomers have the answer, thanks to an analysis of galaxies in an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope known as the Ultra Deep Field. This shows some 10,000 galaxies of various ages. By ordering a subset of these by type and by age, astronomers have worked out how and when spirals must have evolved. It turns out the first spiral galaxies were simple two-armed structures and appeared when the universe was about 3.8 billion years old. But they say the universe had to wait until it was 8 billion years old before more complex multi-armed galaxies emerged, like the Milky Way and Andromeda."
hawkinspeter writes "The BBC is reporting that China has rejected 545,000 tons of U.S. corn that was found to contain an unapproved genetically modified strain. Although China doesn't have a problem per se with GM crops (they've been importing GM soybeans since 1997) — but their product safety agency found MIR162 in 12 batches of corn. 'The safety evaluation process [for MIR162] has not been completed and no imports are allowed at the moment before the safety certificate is issued,' said Nui Din, China's vice agricultural minister. The Chinese are now calling on U.S. authorities to tighten their controls to prevent unapproved strains from being sent to China after the first batch of corn was rejected in November due to MIR162."
MarkWhittington writes "With the Chang'e 3 and its rover Jade Rabbit safely ensconced on the lunar surface, the question arises: is it time to start dividing up the moon and its resources? It may well be an issue by the middle of the current century. With China expressing interest in exploiting lunar resources and a number of private companies, such Moon Express, working for the same goal, a mechanism for who gets what is something that needs looking into. Moon Daily quotes a Russian official as suggesting that it can all be done in a civilized manner, through international agreements. On the other hand, law professor and purveyor of Instapundit Glenn Reynolds suggests that China might spark a moon race by having a private company claim at least parts of the moon. 'International cooperation will certainly rule supreme while there are no economic interests, while it is not clear where commercial profits lie. Scientists can't help communicating with each other and sharing ideas.'"
mrspoonsi writes "BBC Reports: 'Europe has launched the Gaia satellite — one of the most ambitious space missions in history. The 740m-euro (£620m) observatory lifted off from the Sinnamary complex in French Guiana at 06:12 local time (09:12 GMT). Gaia is going to map the precise positions and distances to more than a billion stars. This should give us the first realistic picture of how our Milky Way galaxy is constructed. Gaia's remarkable sensitivity will lead also to the detection of many thousands of previously unseen objects, including new planets and asteroids. Gaia will use this ultra-stable and supersensitive optical equipment to pinpoint its sample of stars with extraordinary confidence. By repeatedly viewing its targets over five years, it should get to know the brightest stars' coordinates down to an error of just seven micro-arcseconds. "This angle is equivalent to the size of a euro coin on the Moon as seen from Earth," explained Prof Alvaro Gimenez, Esa's director of science.'"
cold fjord writes "UPI reports, 'Eighty percent of scientific data are lost within two decades, disappearing into old email addresses and obsolete storage devices, a Canadian study (abstract, article paywalled) indicated. The finding comes from a study tracking the accessibility of scientific data over time, conducted at the University of British Columbia. Researchers attempted to collect original research data from a random set of 516 studies published between 1991 and 2011. While all data sets were available two years after publication, the odds of obtaining the underlying data dropped by 17 per cent per year after that, they reported. "Publicly funded science generates an extraordinary amount of data each year," UBC visiting scholar Tim Vines said. "Much of these data are unique to a time and place, and is thus irreplaceable, and many other data sets are expensive to regenerate.' — More at The Vancouver Sun and Smithsonian."
astroengine writes "New measurements of the electron have confirmed, to the smallest precision attainable, that it has a perfect roundness. This may sounds nice for the little electron, but to one of the big physics theories beyond the standard model, it's very bad news. 'We know the Standard Model does not encompass everything,' said physicist David DeMille, of Yale University and the ACME collaboration, in a press release. 'Like our LHC colleagues, we're trying to see something in the lab that's different from what the Standard Model predicts.' Should supersymmetrical particles exist, they should have a measurable effect on the electron's dipole moment. But as ACME's precise measurements show, the electron still has zero dipole moment (as predicted by the standard model) and is likely very close to being perfectly round. Unfortunately for the theory of supersymmetry, this is yet another blow."