An anonymous reader writes "Having already imaged the Apollo landing sites on the Moon, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has now added China's recent lander and rover to its collection of snapshots."
sciencehabit writes "Hoping that studying deep frying in different gravitational conditions will help them improve space food for future astronauts, scientists with the European Space Agency chopped potatoes into thin sticks and deep fried them in extra-virgin olive oil, one side at a time, in a spinning centrifuge that created conditions of up to nine times Earth's gravity, akin to that seen on Jupiter. Higher gravity levels significantly increased the heat transfer between the hot oil and the potato, shortening frying time and resulting in thick, crispy crusts, the team reports. In fact, the scientists may have discovered the ideal gravitational condition for creating crunchy fries: The crust reached its maximum thickness when the potato was fried at three times Earth's gravity; any further increase in gravity levels did not improve the fries' crispiness."
astroengine writes "On Sunday, at 5:17 p.m. GMT (12:17 p.m. EST), Europe's Mars Express orbiter successfully completed a daring low-pass of Mars' largest moon Phobos. In an effort to precisely measure the gravitational field of the moon, the 10 year-old mission was sent on a trajectory that took it only 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the dusty surface, the closest any spacecraft has ever come to the natural satellite."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that thirty-three percent of Americans reject the idea of evolution and believe that 'humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time' rather than evolving gradually through a process of natural selection, as described by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago. Although this percentage remained steady since 2009, the last time Pew asked the question, there was a growing partisan gap on whether humans evolved. The poll showed 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say humans have evolved over time, compared with 54 percent and 64 percent respectively four years ago. 'The gap is coming from the Republicans, where fewer are now saying that humans have evolved over time,' says Cary Funk. Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants topped the list of those rejecting evolution, with 64 percent of those polled saying they believe humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."
First time accepted submitter techfilz writes "The Mars One Project has selected 1058 second round candidates out of more than 200 000 applicants from over 140 countries. There are another two selection rounds to go before the lucky few get a one way trip to Mars. Starting in 2018, four astronauts will leave for Mars every two years to begin a human settlement partly funded by crowdsourcing and a reality TV show."
cold fjord writes "The Independent reports, 'Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading ... The new research, carried out at Emory University ... found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory. The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the primary sensory motor region of the brain. Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition — for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running. "The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist," said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study. "We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else's shoes in a figurative sense. Now we're seeing that something may also be happening biologically."'"
drmofe writes "Two parents in New Zealand have orchestrated the removal of a school's Wi-Fi system. They have expressed the concerns that Wi-Fi causes cancer and other health issues. The child of one of these parents died recently from brain cancer. This appears to be an emotional area and one where decisions appear to be being made without evidence. The NZ Ministry of Education provides guidelines for the safe use of Wi-Fi in schools and the school itself was operating within those guidelines."
New submitter UnderCoverPenguin writes "At MakeZine, David Lang talks about the some of the legal issues around a planned, amateur science 'expedition,' as well as some other amateur science projects. In the not too distant past, most science was amateur. Over the past 20 or so years, society has been making it harder for amateurs to do real science, despite the technical costs falling. With the recent upswing of the 'maker movement,' amateur science has seen an increase as well, but is running into an assortment of legal issues. (An exception is astronomy, where amateurs continue to play important roles. Of course, astronomy doesn't involve chemicals or other (currently) 'scary stuff.') Can amateur science make a come-back? Or are the legal obstacles too entrenched?"
The Space Reporter has this to say about a fireball witnessed by many midwesterners on Thursday night: "The massive fireball was seen in the early morning hours in Iowa on Thursday night. At least 700 people have reported a sighting and the fireball was reported by people across the Midwest, including Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska. However, astronomers say they are still unsure whether the fireball was the result of space debris or a meteor. Officials at the National Weather Service say they are working to determine the source of the fireball, although the leading theory seems to support a meteor was the source." CCTV footage of the fireball is great, though it doesn't stack up to the world of Russian dashcams.
braindrainbahrain writes "Slate magazine has written a story about the only work of art placed on the Moon: the Fallen Astronaut sculpture. It was placed on the Moon during the Apollo 15 mission to commemorate both American and Soviet deceased astronauts. The little statue, rather than bringing fame and fortune, ended up being nearly forgotten, and got both Apollo astronaut David Scott and Belgian sculptor Van Hoeydonck in hot water with the U.S. government."
theodp writes "'With countless lives depending on their work,' writes Brett Smith, 'it seems unthinkable that AIDS researchers might falsify their work. However, that's just what Iowa State University assistant professor Dong-Pyou Han has admitted to, according to federal documents.' Han resigned from the project in October after admitting to tampering with samples to give the appearance that an experimental vaccine was causing lab animals to build up protections against HIV. According to the NIH, Han apparently spiked rabbit blood with human blood components from people whose bodies had produced antibodies to HIV. 'This positive result was striking, and it caught everybody's attention,' said the NIH. However, researchers at other institutions became suspicious after they were unsuccessful in duplicating the ISU results. The Iowa State AIDS research project had been awarded $19 million in federal grants over the past several years. Han has agreed to be banned from participating in any federally-financed research for three years."
jones_supa writes "GNU Octave — the open source numerical computation suite compatible with MATLAB — is doing very well. The new 3.8 release is a big change, as it brings a graphical user interface, a feature which has long been requested by users. It is peppered with OpenGL acceleration and uses the super fast FLTK toolkit for widgets. The CLI interface still remains available and GNUplot is used as a fallback in cases where OpenGL or FLTK support is not available. Other changes to Octave 3.8 are support for nested functions with scoping rules, limited support for named exceptions, new regular expressions, a TeX parser for the FLTK toolkit, overhauls to many of the m-files, function rewrites, and numerous other changes and bug fixes."
An anonymous reader writes "This week, NASA released the results of its Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration's (LLCD) 30-day test carried out by its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) that is currently in orbit around the Moon. According to the space agency, the LLCD mission proved that laser communications are practical at a distance of a quarter of a million miles and that such a system could perform as well, if not better, than any NASA radio system."
An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum reports on a rover design being developed at NASA Ames Research Center: Super Ball Bot. The premise is that the rover's brain and scientific equipment would be suspended in the center of a structure made of rigid rods and elastic cables. The rods and cables would be deformable, allowing the rover to roll over complex terrain without damage. This design would be ideal for exploring a place like Saturn's moon Titan. Its atmosphere is thick enough that a probe could drop the rover from 100km above the surface, and it would survive the fall without a parachute. 'In a scenario studied by the team (PDF), the robot could be collapsed to a very compact configuration for launch. Once it reaches the moon, it would pop open and drop to the surface, flexing and absorbing the force of impact. By shortening and lengthening the cables that connect its rigid components, the ball bot could then roll about the surface. These same cables could be used to pull back parts of the robot, so that science instruments at the center could be exposed and used.'"
Lucas123 writes "After 3D printing has produced ears, skin grafts and even retina cells that could be built up and eventually used to replace defective eye tissue, researchers expect to be able to produce the first functioning organ next year. The organ, a liver, would not be for the purpose of human implant — that will take years to complete clinical trials and pass FDA review. Instead, the liver would initially be for development and testing of pharmaceuticals. The field of 3D printing known as organs on a chip, will greatly increase the accuracy and speed of drug development and testing, researchers say. The company producing the liver, Organovo, has overcome a major stumbling block that faces the creation of any organ: printing the vascular system needed to provide it with life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients. Typically, 3D printed tissue dies in the petri dish before it can even be used because of that. 'We have achieved thicknesses of greater than 500 microns, and have maintained liver tissue in a fully functional state with native phenotypic behavior for at least 40 days,' said Mike Renard, Organovo's executive vice president of commercial operations."
cold fjord writes in with this story about some new possible applications for metamaterials. "A new way of assembling things, called metamaterials, may in the not too distant future help to protect a building from earthquakes by bending seismic waves around it. Similarly, tsunami waves could be bent around towns, and sound waves bent around a room to make it soundproof. ... Metamaterials are simply materials that exhibit properties not found in nature, such as the way they absorb or reflect light. The key is in how they're made. By assembling the material — from photonic crystals to wire and foam — at a scale smaller than the length of the wave you're seeking to manipulate, the wave can, in theory, be bent to will. ... Ong and others say ... they could be used to redirect other kinds of waves, including mechanical waves such as sound and ocean waves. French researchers earlier this year, for example, diverted seismic waves around specially placed holes in the ground, reflecting the waves backward. Ong points to the possibility of using what has been learned in reconfiguring the geometry of materials to divert tsunamis from strategic buildings.'"
First time accepted submitter Stinky Cheese Man writes "An Antarctic climate research expedition, led by climate researcher Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales, has become trapped in heavy ice near the coast of Antarctica. The captain has issued a distress call and three nearby icebreaker ships are on their way to the rescue. According to Turney's web site, the purpose of the expedition is 'to discover and communicate the environmental changes taking place in the south.'"
cold fjord writes with an excerpt from The Atlantic's profile of Dr. Pat McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, who has what sounds like a fascinating job: decoding ancient clues about what (and how) humans in the distant past were brewing and drinking. "'We always start with infrared spectrometry,' he says. 'That gives us an idea of what organic materials are preserved.' From there, it's on to tandem liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, sometimes coupled with ion cyclotron resonance, and solid-phase micro-extraction gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The end result? A beer recipe. Starting with a few porous clay shards or tiny bits of resin-like residue from a bronze cup, McGovern is able to determine what some ancient Norseman or Etruscan or Shang dynast was drinking." The article points out that McGovern has collaborated with the Dogfish Head brewery to reproduce in modern form six of these ancient recipes.
Taco Cowboy writes "Perhaps it's not much, but China has released a panoramic view of the moonscape where their lander has landed. They 'stitched' up some 60 photos taken by 3 cameras on the Chang'e 3 lander, taken from 3 different angles — Vertical, 15 degrees up, and 15 degrees down. From the picture, there is a significant sized crater is seen, several meters wide, off to the left of Yutu, the (jade rabbit) moon rover, and located only about 10 meters away from the Chang'e-3 lander."
sciencehabit writes "Earth's orbital variations—the wobbling and nodding of the planet on its rotational axis and the rhythmic elongation of the shape of its orbit—can affect the shape of the sea floor, according to new research. Scientists already knew that orbital variations, which are driven by gravitational interactions among solar system bodies, pace the comings and goings of the ice ages by shifting where sunlight falls on Earth. Now, researchers have shown in a computer model that those pressure variations should vary the amount of mantle rock that melts kilometers beneath midocean ridges. That, in turn, would vary the amount of ocean crust that solidifies from the melted rock, changing the thickness of new crust by as much as a kilometer as it slides down either side of a midocean ridge. And the group found that indeed, on the Juan de Fuca Ridge offshore of the Pacific Northwest, the ocean floor is grooved like a vinyl LP record in time with Earth's orbital variations of the past million years."