Science

Scientists Discover First Warm-Blooded Fish 33

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-warm dept.
sciencehabit writes: The opah lives in the dark, chilly depths of the world's oceans, using heated blood to keep warm. It's the first fish found to be fully warm-blooded. Certain sharks and tuna can warm regions of their body such as swimming muscles and the brain but must return to the surface to protect vital organs from the effects of the cold. The opah on the other hand, generates heat from its pectoral muscles, and conserves that warmth thanks to body fat and the special structure of its gills. “It’s a remarkable adaptation for a fish,” says Diego Bernal, a fish physiologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
Space

Kepler's "Superflare" Stars Sport Huge, Angry Starspots 25

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-thousand-different-kinds-of-angry dept.
astroengine writes: Astronomers studying stars like our sun that are known to generate powerful "superflares" have also discovered that these superflares are likely associated with monster "starspots." In 2012, using Kepler Space Telescope data — which is usually associated with the detection of exoplanets as they drift (or transit) in front of their host stars — astronomers were able to identify several hundred superflare events on a number of sun-like stars. These gargantuan events kicked out flares with 10-10,000 times more energy than our sun is able to muster. Keeping in mind that these stars are sun-like stars, what makes them such superflare powerhouses? Why is our sun such a featherweight in comparison? In an effort to understand the dynamics of superflare stars and perhaps answer these questions, astronomers from Kyoto University, University of Hyogo, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and Nagoya University turned to the High Dispersion Spectrograph on the Subaru Telescope, located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, to carry out spectroscopic measurements of 50 of Kepler's superflare targets. And they found that all the superflare stars possessed huge starspots that completely dwarf our sun's sunspots.
Medicine

California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill 545

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-your-shots dept.
mpicpp writes: California state senators have passed a controversial bill designed to increase school immunization rates. SB277 would prohibit parents from seeking vaccine exemptions for their children because of religious or personal beliefs. California would join West Virginia and Mississippi as the only states with such requirements if the bill becomes law. "SB 277 is about increasing immunization rates so no one will have to suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases," said Sen. Ben Allen (D- Santa Monica) who coauthored the bill with Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).
Medicine

How Light at Night Affects Preschoolers' Sleep Patterns, Part Two (Video) 29

Posted by Roblimo
from the watch-the-spinning-light-and-feel-your-eyelids-growing-heavier-every-second dept.
Yesterday, in the intro to video number one of this two part extravaganza we wrote, "The effects of light and dark on adults' Circadian rythym has been studied over and over, but there hasn't been much research done on how light at night affects young children's sleep patterns."

Then we said, "This is the topic of Lameese Akacem's doctoral dissertation, and is a study being carried out under the aegis of the Sleep and Development Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder," and we mentioned that this research is (at least in part) crowdfunded, and that the deadline for donating to this project is early next week, so if you feel this project is worth supporting you need to act within the next few days.
Music

What Happens To Our Musical Taste As We Age? 360

Posted by timothy
from the it-gets-righter-of-course dept.
An anonymous reader writes: New research from Spotify and Echo Nest reveals that people start off listening to chart-topping pop music and branch off into all kinds of territory in their teens and early 20s, before their musical tastes start to calcify and become more rigid by their mid-30s. "Men, it turns out, give up popular music much more quickly than women. Men and women have similar musical listening tendencies through their teens, but men start shunning mainstream artists much sooner than women and to a greater degree."
Earth

Greenland's Glaciers Develop Stretch Marks As They Accelerate 249

Posted by timothy
from the warp-speed-effect dept.
New submitter dywolf writes: NASA-run Operation IceBridge has been monitoring and mapping ice sheets for the past eight years. They develop these maps in 3D using laser equipped aircraft to measure ice thickness. As glaciers reach the coast, they begin to accelerate, which causes crevasses to appear, which are essentially stretchmarks in the glacial strata. While a natural part of glaciers as they travel to sea, the glaciers of Greenland have increased in speed by 30% in the past decade. Jakobshavn Isbrae is Greenland's fastest glacier, and is now moving four times faster than it did 20 years ago.
Earth

More Than 40% of US Honeybee Colonies Died In a 12-Month Period Ending In April 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-flowers? dept.
walterbyrd writes: The Agriculture Department released its annual honeybee survey Wednesday and it doesn't look good. More than 40% of U.S. honeybee colonies died in a 12-month period ending in April. While the precise cause of the honeybee crisis is unknown, scientists generally blame a combination of factors, including poor diets and stress. Some bees die from infestations of the Varroa mite, a bloodsucking parasite that weakens bees and introduces diseases to the hive. Environmental groups also point to a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. In April, the Environmental Protection Agency said it would stop approving new outdoor uses for those types of chemicals until more studies on bee health are conducted.
Math

John Urschel: The 300 Pound Mathematician Who Hits People For a Living 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-your-head dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Kate Murphy writes at NYT about mathematician John Urschel whose latest contribution to the mathematical realm was a paper for the Journal of Computational Mathematics with the impressively esoteric title, "A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians." "Believe me, I am aware that terms such as multigrid, Fiedler, and vector are not words that people use in their daily lives," says Urshel.

But as an offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens, John Urschel regularly goes head to head with the top defensive players in the NFL and does his best to keep quarterback Joe Flacco out of harm's way. "I play because I love the game. I love hitting people," Urshel writes. "There's a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you. This is a feeling I'm (for lack of a better word) addicted to, and I'm hard-pressed to find anywhere else."

Urschel acknowledges that he has faced questions from NFL officials, journalists, fans and fellow mathematicians about why he runs the risk of potential brain injury from playing football when he has "a bright career ahead of me in mathematics" but doesn't feel able to quit. "When I go too long without physical contact I'm not a pleasant person to be around. This is why, every offseason, I train in kickboxing and wrestling in addition to my lifting, running and position-specific drill work."
Medicine

How Light at Night Affects Preschoolers' Sleep Patterns (Video) 51

Posted by Roblimo
from the rock-a-bye-baby-whose-eyes-are-glued-to-mommy's-iPod dept.
The effects of light and dark on adults' Circadian rythym has been studied over and over, but there hasn't been much research done on how light at night affects young children's sleep patterns. This is the topic of Lameese Akacem's doctoral dissertation, and is a study being carried out under the aegis of the Sleep and Development Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder, under the direction of Assistant Professor Monique K. LeBourgeois. Aside from the inherent value of this research, which may help parents decide whether (and how much) they are messing up their children's sleep patterns by letting them view screens such as TVs, tablets or smart phones near bedtime, its funding is unique; the money for this study is coming, at least in part, from crowdfunding. The crowdfunding itself is an experiment. This study is one of a small, select group of projects the University of Colorado at Boulder has in its pilot crowdfunding program. Its crowdfunding time window closes next week, so if you want to help sponsor this experiment, and help learn how different kinds of light can affect how (and how well) small children sleep, you need to act within the next six days. (This is a two-part video. Part one runs today. Part two will run tomorrow.)
Censorship

Third Bangladeshi Blogger Murdered In As Many Months 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ananta Bijoy Das blogged about science in Bangladesh, also sometimes tackling difficult issues about religion. He won an award in 2006 for "deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals and messages." He's now been murdered for his writings, the third Bangladeshi blogger to die in the past few months. Four masked assailants chased him down in broad daylight and attacked him with cleavers and machetes. The Committee to Protect Journalists says Das is the 20th writer to be murdered globally so far this year. Arrests have been made in Bangladesh for the murders of the previous two bloggers this year, but no convictions have yet been made. Das's murderers remain at large.
Space

Dawn Spacecraft Gets a Better Look At Ceres' Bizarre 'White Spots' 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the hopefully-not-a-fithp-ship dept.
StartsWithABang writes: Since its discovery as the first asteroid more than 200 years ago, Ceres has been one of the most poorly understood objects in the Solar System as even imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope is unable to resolve very much. But NASA's Dawn mission, since moving on from Vesta, has begun to map Ceres, constructing the highest resolution global map ever, with better data to come. The greatest mystery so far are two bright white spots at the bottom of a deep crater, brighter and more reflective than anything else on the planet's surface. Right now, three leading possibilities for the origin of these features exist, with Dawn possessing the capabilities to teach us which one (if any) is correct, hopefully by the end of the year!
Medicine

Dissolvable Electronic Stent Can Monitor Blocked Arteries 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the old-stents-never-die,-they-just-fade-away dept.
ckwu writes: To restore blood flow in a narrowed or blocked artery, doctors can implant a metal stent to hold open the vessel. But over time, stents can cause inflammation and turbulent blood flow that lead to new blockages. Now, researchers have designed a stent carrying a suite of onboard electronic blood-flow and temperature sensors, drug delivery particles, data storage, and communication capabilities to detect and overcome these problems. The entire device is designed to dissolve as the artery heals. Medical device companies and cardiologists could look at this electronic stent as a kind of menu from which they can pick whatever components are most promising for treating certain kinds of cardiovascular disease, the researchers say.
Science

Studying the Roots of Individuality 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-case-of-nature-v.-nurture dept.
An anonymous reader sends an article from Quanta Magazine about research into individuality — how behavior varies (or doesn't) when genetics and environment are as similar as possible. Scientists are taking various strains of fruit fly that are genetically almost identical (the result of extreme inbreeding) and raising them alone in environments that are exact copies of each other. Then they run the fruit flies through a series of decision-making tests to see how varied their responses are. Some fruit fly strains show a high degree of variance for tasks like navigating a maze. Other strains show almost no variance, suggesting there's a genetic component to individuality. The scientists also found that manipulating a certain set of neurons in the fruit flies's brains could increase the variation in choices they make. One theory suggests that evolution tends to select for genes that increase individuality by making it more difficult for predators to predict what the prey will do next.
Businesses

What's the Business Model For Commercializing Cyborgs? 43

Posted by Soulskill
from the whatever-the-borg-used dept.
An anonymous reader points out an article about Backyard Brains, a small company notable for turning cockroaches into cyborgs. The article explores how such an odd use of science and technology can actually form the basis of a business. They primarily work with educational organizations to bring their brand of DIY neuroscience to students and other interested parties. School budgets are often small, so a key part of Backyard Brains's goal is to make things inexpensive. "We want to inspire a generation of citizen-scientists. If we can lower the barrier to entry so the only limit is creativity, that might help with finding treatments for neurological disorders." As they find success, they're developing more research kits, and finding more ways to make cyborg insects into a business.
ISS

ISS Crew Stuck In Orbit While Russia Assesses Rocket 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-extra-space-vacation dept.
astroengine sends word that the astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be staying up there longer than expected while engineers for Russia's space program try to figure out if it's safe to launch more rockets. The recent Russian cargo mission that spun out of control and eventually fell back into the atmosphere sparked worries that a vessel sent to retrieve the astronauts wouldn't make it all the way to the ISS's orbit. Roscosmos and NASA said the next rocket launch will be postponed at least two months. Even though the Russian cargo ship failed to reach the ISS, they have plenty of food, water, and air to last them to the next scheduled supply run — a SpaceX launch in late June.
Science

New Magnesium-Alloy Foam From NYU's Nikhil Gupta Floats On Water 101

Posted by timothy
from the floating-on-sand-is-old-hat dept.
Jason Koebler writes: A new class of magnesium-alloy syntactic foam, which is made out of hollow particles to lower its weight and density is one of the strongest metals for its weight and density ever developed, which makes it ideal for use in boats. Developed by Nikhil Gupta at NYU Polytechnic University, the alloy is 44 percent stronger than similar, aluminum-based foams, and each individual sphere within the foam can withstand pressure of more than 25,000 pounds per square inch before breaking, which is roughly 100 times the pressure exerted by water coming out of a firehose. Gupta's foams are currently used by the Navy and he suspects this one will be ready for use in warships within three years.
Earth

California Gets Past the Yuck Factor With "Toilet To Tap" Water Recycling 278

Posted by samzenpus
from the flush-me-a-cup dept.
HughPickens.com writes: From a marketing point of view, using treated sewage to create drinking water is a proposition that has proved difficult to sell to customers. Now John Schwartz writes in the NYT that as California scrambles for ways to cope with its crippling drought and the mandatory water restrictions imposed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown, enticing people to drink recycled water is requiring California residents to get past what experts call the "yuck" factor. Efforts in the 1990s to develop water reuse in San Diego and Los Angeles were beaten back by activists who denounced what they called, devastatingly, "toilet to tap." Orange County swung people to the idea of drinking recycled water with a special purification plant which has been operating since 2008 avoiding a backlash with a massive public relations campaign that involved more than 2,000 community presentations. The county does not run its purified water directly into drinking water treatment plants; instead, it sends the water underground to replenish the area's aquifers and to be diluted by the natural water supply. This environmental buffer seems to provide an emotional buffer for consumers as well.

In 2000, Los Angeles actually completed a sewage reclamation plant capable of providing water to 120,000 homes — the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys.The plan was abandoned after public outrage. Angelenos, it seemed, were too good to drink perfectly safe recycled water — dismissed as "toilet to tap." But Los Angeles is ready to try again, with plans to provide a quarter of the city's needs by 2024 with recycled water and captured storm water routed through aquifers. "The difference between this and 2000 is everyone wants this to happen," says Marty Adams. The inevitable squeamishness over drinking water that was once waste ignores a fundamental fact, says George Tchobanoglous: "When it comes down to it, water is water. Everyone who lives downstream on a river is drinking recycled water."
Space

Construction At SpaceX's New Spaceport About To Begin 57

Posted by timothy
from the nice-place-for-it dept.
schwit1 writes: SpaceX has begun prepping the construction sites at its private spaceport in Brownsville, Texas. The county has begun work on a road to where the spaceport command center will be, and SpaceX has established its construction headquarters in a double-wide trailer there. It is expected that actual construction of the command center will begin in August, with the launchpad construction to follow. The expected cost for building the entire spaceport: $100 million. Compare that to the billions the Russians are spending for Vostochny, or the billions that NASA spends on comparable facilities.
Earth

Ice Loss In West Antarctica Is Speeding Up 422

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new study just published on Antarctic ice loss by Christopher Harig and Frederik Simons of Princeton confirm West Antarctica is losing mass fast. The study used satellite measurements to determine the rate of mass loss. The lead author of the study told The Guardian: "It is very important that we continue long term monitoring of how mass changes in ice sheets. For West Antarctica in particular this is important because of how it is thought to be more unstable, where the feedbacks can cause more and more ice loss from the land over time. These strong regional accelerations that we see are very robustly measured and imply that Antarctica may become a major contributor to sea level rise in the near future. This increase in the mass loss rate, in ten years, accelerations like that show that things are beginning to change on human time scales."
Space

The Milky Way's Most Recent Supernova That Nobody Saw 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the didn't-see-it dept.
StartsWithABang writes: A little over 300 years ago, a supernova — a dying, ultramassive star — exploded, giving rise to such a luminous explosion that it might have shone as bright as our entire galaxy. And nobody on Earth saw it. Located in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, the light was obscured, but thanks to a suite of great, space-based observatories (Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra), we've been able to piece together exactly what occurred. Not only that, but observations of a light-echo, or reflected light off of the nearby gas, has allowed us to see the light from this explosion centuries later, and learn exactly how it happened.