Science

Liquid Mercury Found Under Mexican Pyramid 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-else-would-you-hide-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An archaeologist has discovered liquid mercury at the end of a tunnel beneath a Mexican pyramid, a finding that could suggest the existence of a king's tomb or a ritual chamber far below one of the most ancient cities of the Americas. Mexican researcher Sergio Gómez ... has spent six years slowly excavating the tunnel, which was unsealed in 2003 after 1,800 years. Last November, Gómez and a team announced they had found three chambers at the tunnel’s 300ft end, almost 60ft below the the temple. Near the entrance of the chambers, they a found trove of strange artifacts: jade statues, jaguar remains, a box filled with carved shells and rubber balls.
Earth

Giant Survival Ball Will Help Explorer Survive a Year On an Iceberg 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the rolling-the-seven-seas dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Ben Yeager reports in Outside Magazine that Italian explorer Alex Bellini plans to travel to Greenland's west coast, pick an iceberg, and live on it for a year as it melts out in the Atlantic. It's a precarious idea. Bellini will be completely isolated, and his adopted dwelling is liable to roll or fall apart at any moment, thrusting him into the icy sea or crushing him under hundreds of tons of ice. His solution: an indestructible survival capsule built by an aeronautics company that specializes in tsunami-proof escape pods. "I knew since the beginning I needed to minimize the risk. An iceberg can flip over, and those events can be catastrophic." Bellini plans to use a lightweight, indestructible floating capsules, or "personal safety systems" made from aircraft-grade aluminum in what's called a continuous monocoque structure, an interlocking frame of aluminum spars that evenly distribute force, underneath a brightly painted and highly visible aluminum shell. The inner frame can be stationary or mounted on roller balls so it rotates, allowing the passengers to remain upright at all times.

Aeronautical engineer Julian Sharpe, founder of Survival Capsule, got the idea for his capsules after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. He believes fewer people would have died had some sort of escape pod existed. Sharpe hopes the products will be universal—in schools, retirement homes, and private residences, anywhere there is severe weather. The product appeals to Bellini because it's strong enough to survive a storm at sea or getting crushed between two icebergs. Bellini will spend almost all of his time in the capsule with the hatch closed, which will pose major challenges because he'll have to stay active without venturing out onto a slippery, unstable iceberg. If it flips, he'll have no time to react. "Any step away from [the iceberg] will be in unknown territory," says Bellini. "You want to stretch your body. But then you risk your life."
Space

Mystery of the Coldest Spot In the CMB Solved 38

Posted by timothy
from the also-known-as-the-wet-spot dept.
StartsWithABang writes: The cosmic microwave background is a thing of beauty, as not only does its uniform, cold temperature reveal a hot, dense past that began with the hot Big Bang, but its fluctuations reveal a pattern of overdensities and underdensities in the very early stages of the Universe. It's fluctuations just like these that give rise to the stars, galaxies, groups and clusters that exist today, as well as the voids in the vast cosmic web. But effects at the surface of last scattering are not the only ones that affect the CMB's temperature; if we want to make sure we've got an accurate map of what the Universe was born with, we have to take everything into account, including the effects of matter as it gravitationally grows and shrinks. As we do exactly this, we find ourselves discovering the causes behind the biggest anomalies in the sky, and it turns out that the standard cosmological model can explain it all.
Earth

Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-know-those-things'll-kill-ya dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Neonicotinoids kill insects by overwhelming and short-circuiting their central nervous systems (PDF). Shell and Bayer started the development of neonicotinoids back in the 1980s and 1990s. Since this new group of pesticides came to market, the bee population has been devastated in regions where they have been widely used. Studies from 2012 linked neonicotinoid use to crashing bee populations.

New studies, however, have discovered that bees prefer nectar laced with neonicotinoids over nectar free of any trace of neonicotinoids. According to researchers at Newcastle University, the bees may "get a buzz" from the nicotine-like chemicals in the same way smokers crave cigarettes.
Space

Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the answers-in-the-gamma-quadrant dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Like initials carved in a tree, ER = EPR, as the new idea is known, is a shorthand that joins two ideas proposed by Einstein in 1935. One involved the paradox implied by what he called "spooky action at a distance" between quantum particles (the EPR paradox, named for its authors, Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen). The other showed how two black holes could be connected through far reaches of space through "wormholes" (ER, for Einstein-Rosen bridges). At the time that Einstein put forth these ideas — and for most of the eight decades since — they were thought to be entirely unrelated.

But if ER = EPR is correct, the ideas aren't disconnected — they're two manifestations of the same thing. And this underlying connectedness would form the foundation of all space-time. Quantum entanglement — the action at a distance that so troubled Einstein — could be creating the "spatial connectivity" that "sews space together," according to Leonard Susskind, a physicist at Stanford University and one of the idea's main architects. Without these connections, all of space would "atomize," according to Juan Maldacena, a physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., who developed the idea together with Susskind. "In other words, the solid and reliable structure of space-time is due to the ghostly features of entanglement," he said. What's more, ER = EPR has the potential to address how gravity fits together with quantum mechanics.
Medicine

Surgeon Swears Human Head Transplant Isn't a 'Metal Gear Solid' Publicity Stunt 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the life-imitates-viral-marketing dept.
Jason Koebler writes: Dr. Sergio Canavero wants to become the first surgeon to perform a human head transplant. But some discerning gamers noticed that a doctor shown in the trailer for Metal Gear Solid V looks almost exactly like Canavero, leading some to speculate that it's all a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming game. Canavero, however, filed a sworn affidavit with Italian police in which he said Konami illegally stole his likeness, and that he has nothing to do with the game.
Space

Hubble Turns 25 43

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-all-the-desktop-wallpapers dept.
Taco Cowboy points out that the Hubble Space Telescope turns 25 today. Hubble was launched on April 24, 1990, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Currently, it is flying about 340 miles over the Earth and circling us every 97 minutes. While the telescope itself is not really much to look at, that silver bucket is pure gold for astronomers. Scientists have used that vantage point to make ground-breaking observations about planets, stars, galaxies and to reveal parts of our universe we didn't know existed. The telescope has made more than a million observations and astronomers have used Hubble data in more than 12,700 scientific papers, "making it one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built," according to NASA. ... NASA aims to keep Hubble operating through at least 2020 so that it can overlap with its successor. The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch in October 2018 and begin observations in mid-2019. NASA celebrated by releasing a new, epic image from Hubble titled "Celestial Fireworks." It is accompanied by an impressive flythrough video. Some nice galleries of Hubble images have been put together at the NY Times and Slate, but a bigger collection is available directly from the official Hubble website.
Space

Cosmic Rays Could Reveal Secrets of Lightning On Earth 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the shocking-discovery dept.
sciencehabit writes: Despite Benjamin Franklin's best efforts with a kite and a key, the phenomenon of lightning remains a scientific enigma. Now, researchers have developed a new tool that could help them solve some of lightning's mysteries. By using cosmic rays, space-traveling particles that constantly rain down on our atmosphere, scientists report they can peek inside thunderstorms and measure their electric fields, helping them pinpoint the conditions that cause storms' electrical outbursts. The advance could help researchers predict more precisely when and where lightning is most likely to strike and get people out of harm's way in time.
Medicine

MIT Developing AI To Better Diagnose Cancer 33

Posted by samzenpus
from the computer-doc dept.
stowie writes: Working with Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT has developed a computational model that aims to automatically suggest cancer diagnoses by learning from thousands of data points from past pathology reports. The core idea is a technique called Subgraph Augmented Non-negative Tensor Factorization (SANTF). In SANTF, data from 800-plus medical cases are organized as a 3D table where the dimensions correspond to the set of patients, the set of frequent subgraphs, and the collection of words appearing in and near each data element mentioned in the reports. This scheme clusters each of these dimensions simultaneously, using the relationships in each dimension to constrain those in the others. Researchers can then link test results to lymphoma subtypes.
Earth

Yellowstone Supervolcano Even Bigger Than We Realized 151

Posted by timothy
from the I-know-some-people-who-should-vacation-there dept.
The Washington Post reports that the "supervolcano" beneath Yellowstone National Park (which, thankfully, did not kill us all in 2004, or in 2008 ) may be more dangerous when it does erupt than anyone realized until recently. Scientists have today published a paper documenting their discovery of an even larger, deeper pool of magma below the already huge reservoir near the surface. From the article: On Thursday, a team from the University of Utah published a study, in the journal Science, that for the first time offers a complete diagram of the plumbing of the Yellowstone volcanic system. The new report fills in a missing link of the system. It describes a large reservoir of hot rock, mostly solid but with some melted rock in the mix, that lies beneath a shallow, already-documented magma chamber. The newly discovered reservoir is 4.5 times larger than the chamber above it. There's enough magma there to fill the Grand Canyon. The reservoir is on top of a long plume of magma that emerges from deep within the Earth's mantle. ... “This is like a giant conduit. It starts down at 1,000 kilometers. It's a pipe that starts down in the Earth," said Robert Smith, emeritus professor of geophysics at the University of Utah and a co-author of the new paper. ... The next major, calderic eruption could be within the boundaries of the park, northeast of the old caldera. “If you have this crustal magma system that is beneath the pre-Cambrian rocks, eventually if you get enough fluid in that system, enough magma, you can create another caldera, another set of giant explosions," Smith said. "There’s no reason to think it couldn’t continue that same process and repeat that process to the northeast.”
Space

Virtual Telescope Readied To Image Black Hole's 'Ring of Fire' 36

Posted by timothy
from the ghost-of-johnny-cash dept.
astroengine writes: With the addition of a telescope at the southern-most point of Earth, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) now spans the diameter of our planet and, when the vast project goes online, astronomers will get their first glimpse of the bright ring surrounding a supermassive black hole. Using a method known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry, or VLBI, astronomers can combine the observing power of many telescopes situated at distant locations around the planet. The distance between those observatories, known as the "baseline," then mimics a virtual telescope of that diameter. Now, in an attempt to make direct observations of the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy, located at a powerful radio emission source called Sagittarius A*, the South Pole Telescope (SPT) at the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station has been linked to the EHT and the stage is set for a historic new era of exploring the most extreme objects in the known universe. "Now that we've done VLBI with the SPT, the Event Horizon Telescope really does span the whole Earth, from the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham in Arizona, to California, Hawaii, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole," said Dan Marrone of the University of Arizona. "The baselines to SPT give us two to three times more resolution than our past arrays, which is absolutely crucial to the goals of the EHT. To verify the existence of an event horizon, the 'edge' of a black hole, and more generally to test Einstein's theory of general relativity, we need a very detailed picture of a black hole. With the full EHT, we should be able to do this."
Earth

USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes 170

Posted by timothy
from the now-there's-some-economic-stimulus dept.
sciencehabit writes: The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has taken its first stab at quantifying the hazard from earthquakes associated with oil and gas development. The assessment, released in a preliminary report today, identifies 17 areas in eight states with elevated seismic hazard. And geologists now say that such induced earthquakes could potentially be large, up to magnitude 7, which is big enough to cause buildings to collapse and widespread damage. Update: 04/23 15:56 GMT by T : New submitter truavatar adds: At the same time, the Oklahoma Geological Survey released a statement explicitly calling out deep wastewater injection wells to Oklahoma earthquakes, stating "The OGS considers it very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma, are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells."
Medicine

New Sampling Device Promises To Make Blood Tests Needle-Free 33

Posted by timothy
from the dracula's-little-friend dept.
Zothecula writes: Though the pain they cause is minor and fleeting, a lot of people still find something pretty unsettling about needles. When it comes to conducting a routine blood test, US-based company Tasso Inc. believes that these unpleasant pricks can be removed from the equation completely. Its ping pong ball-sized HemoLink blood sampler can be operated by the patient at home, and needs only to be placed against the skin of the arm or abdomen for two minutes to do its job.
Space

Hubble Spots Star Explosion Astronomers Can't Explain 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-now? dept.
schwit1 writes: The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the explosion of a star that does not fit into any theory for stellar evolution. "The exploding star, which was seen in the constellation Eridanus, faded over two weeks — much too rapidly to qualify as a supernova. The outburst was also about ten times fainter than most supernovae, explosions that destroy some or all of a star. But it was about 100 times brighter than an ordinary nova, which is a type of surface explosion that leaves a star intact. 'The combination of properties is puzzling,' says Mario Livio, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. 'I thought about a number of possibilities, but each of them fails' to account for all characteristics of the outburst, he adds." We can put this discovery on the bottom of a very long list of similar discoveries by Hubble, which this week is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its launch.
Medicine

Ancient Hangover Cure Discovered In Greek Texts 105

Posted by samzenpus
from the adjusting-your-humors dept.
An anonymous reader writes with good news for people looking for an old cure for an old problem. Trying to ease a bad hangover? Wearing a necklace made from the leaves of a shrub called Alexandrian laurel would do the job, according to a newly translated Egyptian papyrus. The "drunken headache cure" appears in a 1,900-year-old text written in Greek and was discovered during the ongoing effort to translate more than half a million scraps of papyrus known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Housed at Oxford University's Sackler Library, the enormous collection of texts contains lost gospels, works by Sophocles and other Greek authors, public and personal records and medical treatises dating from the first century AD to the sixth century A.D.
Medicine

Chinese Scientists Claim To Have Genetically Modified Human Embryos 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the super-babies dept.
Annanag writes: There were rumours — but now it's been confirmed. Chinese scientists have attempted the ethically questionable feat of genetically modifying human embryos. The scientists try to head off ethical concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, obtained from local fertility clinics. The study is a landmark — but also a cautionary tale.
Security

Swallowing Your Password 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the eat-and-login dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Amir Mizroch reports at the WSJ that a PayPal executive who works with engineers and developers to find and test new technologies, says that embeddable, injectable, and ingestible devices are the next wave in identification for mobile payments and other sensitive online interactions. Jonathon Leblanc says that identification of people will shift from "antiquated" external body methods like fingerprints, toward internal body functions like heartbeat and vein recognition, where embedded and ingestible devices will allow "natural body identification." Ingestible devices could be powered by stomach acid, which will run their batteries and could detect glucose levels and other unique internal features can use a person's body as a way to identify them and beam that data out. Leblanc made his remarks during a presentation called Kill all Passwords that he's recently started giving at various tech conferences in the U.S. and Europe, arguing that technology has taken a huge leap forward to "true integration with the human body." But the idea has its skeptics. What could possibly go wrong with a little implanted device that reads your vein patterns or your heart's unique activity or blood glucose levels writes AJ Vicens? "Wouldn't an insurance company love to use that information to decide that you had one too many donuts—so it won't be covering that bypass surgery after all?"
Government

Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California 605

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
mpicpp sends the latest news on California legislation that would eliminate exemptions for vaccinating school children. A bill that would require nearly all children in California to be vaccinated by eliminating "personal belief" exemptions advanced through the State Legislature on Wednesday, though it still has several hurdles to clear. If approved, California would become one of only three states that require all parents to vaccinate their children as a condition of going to school, unless there is a medical reason not to do so. Under the bill, introduced after a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland, parents who refuse vaccines for philosophical or religious reasons would have to educate their children at home. The legislation prompted a roiling debate in Sacramento, and last week hundreds of people protested at the Capitol, arguing that it infringed on their rights and that it would unfairly shut their children out of schools. Last Wednesday, the legislation stalled in the Senate Education Committee as lawmakers said they were concerned that too many students would be forced into home schooling. This Wednesday, however, the bill passed that committee after its authors tweaked it, adding amendments that would expand the definition of home schooling to allow multiple families to join together to teach their children or participate in independent study programs run by public school systems.
NASA

NASA Teams Scientific Experts To Find Life On Exoplanets 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-we-can-steal-their-oil dept.
coondoggie writes: As the amount of newly discovered planets and systems outside our solar system grows, NASA is assembling a virtual team of scientific experts to search for signs of life. The program, Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) will cull the collective expertise from each of NASA's science communities, including earth scientists, planetary scientists, heliophysicists, and astrophysicists. They'll work with key universities to better analyze all manner of exoplanets, as well as how the planet stars and neighbor planets interact to support life.
Science

MIT's New Tabletop Particle Detector Sees Individual Electrons 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-fit-inside-your-smartphone-soon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists at MIT have created a small, tabletop particle detector capable of identifying individual electrons within a cloud of radioactive gas. "As the radioactive krypton gas decays, it emits electrons that vibrate at a baseline frequency before petering out; this frequency spikes again whenever an electron hits an atom of radioactive gas. As an electron ping-pongs against multiple atoms in the detector, its energy appears to jump in a step-like pattern." The researchers used the detector to record the activity of 100,000 different electrons within the gas (abstract). They're hoping that with enough data about how the electrons bounce around, they'll be able to pinpoint the amount of energy released during these krypton atom decay events. Once they know how much energy is released, they can figure out the mass of a neutrino, which is also emitted during the decay.