SternisheFan sends this quote from the Boston Globe: "The moon's battered crust is riddled with deep fractures that may extend miles underground, according to the first findings from two NASA spacecraft orbiting Earth's nearest neighbor. The results of the mission, led by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist, surprised researchers, who said it will provide new insight into the evolution of the early solar system, and even help inform the search for life on Mars. Announced Wednesday, the discoveries are also a reminder that the familiar moon still holds secrets four decades after NASA ended its manned missions there. 'We have known that the moon's crust and other planetary crusts have been bombarded by impacts, but none of us could have predicted just how cracked the lunar crust is,' said Maria Zuber, the MIT geoscientist who led the mission, called GRAIL." Here are the abstracts from the three studies published in Science.
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gbrumfiel writes "James Cameron has released the first batch of scientific results from his historic dive in March to bottom of the Mariana trench and an earlier series of test dives in the New Britain Trench. The Mariana Trench dive was the deepest by a human since 1960. Some of the most interesting results came from trips to the seafloor made by robotic vehicles built by Cameron's team. At the bottom of the trench, one of those robots found bizarre carpets of microbes coating rocks, that scientists say may have implications for the origins of life on Earth and other planets."
ananyo writes "Two teams of researchers — once rivals, now collaborators — are racing to use the powers of subatomic physics to create a super-secure global communication network. The teams — one led by Jian-Wei Pan at the University of Science and Technology of China, the other by his former PhD supervisor Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna — have spent the last 7 years beating each other's distance records for long-distance quantum-teleportation. They now plan to create the first intercontinental quantum-secured network, connecting Asia to Europe by satellite."
New submitter thAMESresearcher writes with a few updates on Mars One: "The Dutch company Mars One is organizing a one way mission to Mars 2023. In a press release that came out today, they say they have over a thousand applicants already. In the press release they also mention that they are now a not-for-profit Foundation. It sounds ambitious, but they have a Nobel prize winner, an astronaut, and several people from NASA on their board." The actual selection process starts early next year.
pigrabbitbear writes "With a homicide rate historically more than three times greater than the rest of the United States, Newark, N.J., isn't a great vacation spot. But it's a great place for a murder study (abstract). Led by April Zeoli, an assistant professor of criminal justice, a group of researchers at Michigan State University tracked homicides around Newark from 1982 to 2008, using analytic software typically used by medical researchers to track the spread of diseases. They found that "homicide clusters" in Newark, as researchers called them, spread and move throughout a city much the same way diseases do. Murders, in other words, did not surface randomly—they began in the city center and moved in 'diffusion-like processes' across the city."
sciencehabit writes "A team of paleontologists thinks it may have identified the earliest known dinosaur — a creature no bigger than a Labrador retriever that lived about 243 million years ago. That's at least 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinos and could change researchers' views of how they evolved. But some scientists, including the study's authors, caution that the fossils could instead represent a close dino relative."
coondoggie writes "Looking to build on the great success and popularity of its current Mars Science Laboratory mission, NASA today announced plans to explore the red planet further, including launching another sophisticated robot rover by 2020 and widely expanding other Mars scientific projects. The plan to design and build a new Mars robotic science rover — which will mirror the technology employed with the current Curiosity rover — will advance the science priorities of the National Research Council's 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey (the report from the community and team of scientists that help NASA prioritize space missions) and further the research needed to send humans to the planet sometime around 2030, NASA said."
SternisheFan sends this excerpt from ABC: "On the heels of the latest NFL suicide, researchers announced today that 34 NFL players whose brains were studied suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated hits to the head that results in confusion, depression and, eventually, dementia. The study was released just days after the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. It's not yet known what triggered Belcher's action, but they mirror other NFL players who have committed suicide. Researchers at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy published the largest case series study of CTE to date (abstract), according to the center. Of the 85 brains donated by the families of deceased veterans and athletes with histories of repeated head trauma, they found CTE in 68 of them. Of those, 34 were professional football players, nine others played college football and six played only high school football. Of the 35 professional football players' brains donated, only one had no evidence of the disease, according to the study." It's a good thing we protect our youth from conditions like this.
xclr8r writes "A technique to use fiber optics to adjust microscopic particles has been developed. 'Rather than an actual physical device that wraps around a cell or other microscopic particle to apply rotational force, the spanner (the British term for a wrench) is created when two laser beams — emitted by a pair of optical fibers — strike opposite sides of the microscopic object, trapping and holding it in place. By slightly offsetting the fibers, the beams can impart a small twisting force, causing the object to rotate in place. It is possible to create rotation along any axis and in any direction, depending on the positioning of the fibers.' Applications of this technology can be used in a number of ways, including cancer research. This technology could be used to actually manipulate DNA. Associate Professor of Physics Samarendra Mohanty states that macroscale applications are a possibility, including 'direct conversion of solar energy to mechanical energy,' or possibly using it to 'simulate an environment in which photons radiated from the sun could propel the reflective motors in solar sails, a promising future technology for deep-space travel.'"
SternisheFan sends word of new research out of Ohio State University into the possibility of life arising in other star systems: "Scattered around the Milky Way are stars that resemble our own sun—but a new study is finding that any planets orbiting those stars may very well be hotter and more dynamic than Earth. That's because the interiors of any terrestrial planets in these systems are likely warmer than Earth—up to 25 percent warmer, which would make them more geologically active and more likely to retain enough liquid water to support life, at least in its microbial form. ... 'If it turns out that these planets are warmer than we previously thought, then we can effectively increase the size of the habitable zone around these stars by pushing the habitable zone farther from the host star, and consider more of those planets hospitable to microbial life,' said Unterborn, who presented the results at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week."
The Bad Astronomer writes "A recent hearing of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform became a bully pulpit for antivaccination rhetoric when Representatives Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) made speeches connecting vaccines to autism — a connection that medical experts have shown does not exist. Although there were actual medical researchers there as witnesses, they were mostly berated by the Congressmen on the panel. Vaccines are one of the most successful medical advancements in human history, having saved hundreds of millions of lives, and after copious studies have been shown to have no connection with autism. Despite this, a vocal antivax lobby exists, including, clearly, members of Congress. In part this is why preventable and potentially fatal diseases like pertussis and measles are once again on the rise."
sciencehabit writes "Despite long experience with the ways of the world, older people are especially vulnerable to fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, up to 80% of scam victims are over 65. One explanation may lie in a brain region that serves as a built-in crook detector. Called the anterior insula, this structure — which fires up in response to the face of an unsavory character — is less active in older people, possibly making them less cagey than younger folks, a new study finds."
mphall21 writes "Voyager 1 is nearing the edge of the 'magnetic highway' of our solar system and scientists believe this is the final area the space probe must cross before entering interstellar space. The Voyager team infers this region is still inside of our heliosphere because the direction of the magnetic field has not changed. The direction of this field is expected to change when Voyager goes into interstellar space. 'Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun's environment, we now can taste what it's like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway,' said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. 'We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space. Our best guess is it's likely just a few months to a couple years away. The new region isn't what we expected, but we've come to expect the unexpected from Voyager.' Moving at 10.5 miles per second, the space probe is the most distant man-made object from Earth. The space craft has been in operation for 35 years and receives regular commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network."
sciencehabit writes about new estimates of Vega's age giving hope that any planets it might have are old enough to harbor life. From the article: "Shining just 25 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra, Vega is the fifth brightest star in the night sky. In 1983, astronomers discovered dust orbiting the star, suggesting it had a solar system, and Carl Sagan chose to make Vega the source of a SETI signal in his 1985 novel Contact. At the time, Vega was thought to be only about a couple hundred million years old, probably too young for any planets to have spawned life. Since then, however, estimates of Vega's age have increased to between 625 million and 850 million years old. So suitable planets have probably had sufficient time to develop primitive life." With improvements in telescopes allowing detection of the rough atmospheric composition of exoplanets on the way, this could be pretty exciting.
techtech writes in with the results from the first soil samples tested by the Curiosity rover. "Although NASA's Curiosity rover hasn't yet confirmed the detection of organic compounds on Mars, it's already seeing that the Red Planet's soil contains complex chemicals — including signs of an intriguing compound called perchlorate. The first soil sample analysis from Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars lab, or SAM, was the leadoff topic today at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco. The findings were eagerly awaited because of rumors that the Curiosity team was on the verge of announcing major findings — and although NASA tamped down expectations, the scientists said they were overjoyed with the first round of analysis."