ananyo writes "Paleontologists have argued that dinosaurs were able to grow quickly and fuel large bodies when temperatures were warm, oxygen levels were high, and land masses such as the supercontinent Gondwana provided abundant living space. But two new studies contradict that idea and suggest the key to some dinosaurs' vast size lies in the limitations of egg laying. In the first study, researchers examined whether changes in body size followed changes in environmental factors and found no correlation. A second study argues that the reason dinosaurs grew so large was because they were forced to produce relatively tiny young (abstract only), as developing embryos would not be able to breathe through the thick shells of large eggs. When the young of large animals start out small, they must grow through a large size range before reaching adulthood. As a result there was intense competition between small and medium-sized dinosaurs, forcing adults to keep growing until they reached very large sizes to gain a competitive edge. But being big also had drawbacks. When an asteroid impact 65 million years ago wiped out most large-bodied animals, there were so few small dinosaur species that the group was almost obliterated, with only the birds surviving."
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touched down from her last flight -- as a passenger on top of a 747, but it was still a space shuttle flying... a flight that was the sad epitaph for an American era. Timothy's shots of the landing approach are much like all the others you've seen. What's interesting is the variety of people he talked with. One came all the way from Tokyo. And there was the young man who got a Master's in Aeronautical Engineering to work on the space program, which sadly shut down, and who is now looking for a job with SpaceX or one of the other private space-bound companies. We hope there are lots of opportunities in the near future for him, and for thousands if not millions of others who want to go into space or, ground-bound, help our efforts to go where only science fiction writers' imaginations have gone before.
The Bad Astronomer writes "A lot of folks are posting about the amazing new pictures of the icy moon Enceladus returned from the Cassini spacecraft. However, one of them shows the shadow of the moon across the geyser plumes. This has been seen before, but I suddenly realized how that can help determine the geysers' locations, and I thought Slashdot readers might be interested in the general method."
redletterdave writes "The outbreak of a new livestock disease in western Europe last year, particularly harmful to offspring, could move further into areas surrounding the worst affected countries in the next cycle of new births, scientists say. The Schmallenberg virus — named after the German town where it was first detected in November — infected sheep and cows on at least 2,600 farms in eight EU countries last year, most likely between August and October. Thought to have been spread for hundreds of miles across Europe by biting midges and warm late summer winds, the virus has since been confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain and Britain. 'It is certainly a warning for the whole world in the sense that, unfortunately, new threats may emerge,' said Alberto Laddomada, a former virologist who heads the animal health unit at the European Commission. 'This virus has spread very, very quickly in the European Union amongst an animal population of many millions.'"
fishmike writes "NOAA has made sea floor maps and other data on the world's coasts, continental shelves and deep ocean available for easy viewing online. Anyone with Internet access can now explore undersea features and obtain detailed depictions of the sea floor and coasts, including deep canyons, ripples, landslides and likely fish habitat. The new online data viewer compiles sea floor data from the near shore to the deep blue, including the latest high-resolution bathymetric (sea bottom) data collected by NOAA's Office of Coast Survey primarily to support nautical charting."
An anonymous reader writes "The world's largest brain study to date, with a team of more than 200 scientists from 100 institutions worldwide collaborated to map the human genes that boost or sabotage the brain's resistance to a variety of mental illnesses and Alzheimer's disease. The study also uncovered new genes that may explain individual differences in brain size and intelligence. From the article: 'Following a brain study on an unprecedented scale, an international collaboration has now managed to tease out a single gene that does have a measurable effect on intelligence. But the effect – although measurable – is small: the gene alters IQ by just 1.29 points. According to some researchers, that essentially proves that intelligence relies on the action of a multitude of genes after all.'"
Spy Handler writes "NASA announced today a tentative April 30th date for SpaceX launch to the International Space Station on an unmanned cargo mission. 'Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date,' said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. If successful, SpaceX will become the first private company to launch a space vehicle and dock with the ISS."
sciencehabit writes "Waking up from surgery can be disorienting. One minute you're in an operating room counting backwards from 10, the next you're in the recovery ward sans appendix, tonsils, or wisdom teeth. And unlike getting up from a good night's sleep, where you know that you've been out for hours, waking from anesthesia feels like hardly any time has passed. Now, thanks to the humble honeybee, scientists are starting to understand this sense of time loss. New research shows that general anesthetics disrupt the social insect's circadian rhythm, or internal clock, delaying the onset of timed behaviors such as foraging and mucking up their sense of direction."
An anonymous reader writes "The oceanographers aboard RRS Discovery were expecting the winter weather on their North Atlantic research cruise to be bad, but they didn't expect to have to negotiate the highest waves ever recorded in the open ocean. Wave heights were measured by the vessel's Shipborne Wave Recorder, which allowed scientists from the National Oceanography Centre to produce a paper titled 'Were extreme waves in the Rockall Trough the largest ever recorded?' It's that paper, in combination with the first confirmed measurement of a rogue wave (at the Draupner platform in the North Sea), that led to 'a surge of interest in extreme and rogue waves, and a renewed emphasis on protecting ships and offshore structures from their destructive power.'"
New submitter MTorrice writes "Scientists decorated red blood cells with gold nanoparticles so they could trigger the cells to dump their contents with a zap from a laser. The laser pulses heated the particles to produce nanopores in the cells' membranes. The cells contained two fluorescent dyes and both flooded through the pores and out of the cells after the laser pulses. Although the researchers studied the release of dyes, their end goal is to use red blood cells as a vehicle for drug delivery, because the cells are naturally compatible with the immune system and circulate for days in the body. Until now, researchers have found easy ways to load the cells with drugs, but the challenge has been to control the molecules' release."
gurps_npc writes "Robert Krampf, who runs the web site 'The Happy Scientist,' recently wrote in his blog about problems with Florida's Science FCAT. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is an attempt to measure how smart the students are. Where other states have teachers cheating to help students, Florida decided to grade correct answers as wrong. Mr. Krampf examined the state's science answers and found several that clearly listed right answers as wrong. One question had 3 out of 4 answers that were scientifically true. He wrote to the Florida Department of Education's Test Development center. They admitted he was right about the answers, but said they don't expect 5th graders to realize they were right. For this reason they marked them wrong. As such, they were not changing the tests. Note: they wouldn't let him examine real tests, just the practice tests given out. So we have no idea if FCAT is simply too lazy to provide good practice questions, or too stupid to be allowed to test our children."
Esther Schindler writes "An MIT professor explains why "simple" ideas require hard science and how a gemstone might be the key to an optical network. As the story begins: 'For years, the dream of an all-optical network has lain somewhere between Star Wars and a paper cup and a string. Recent successful work on the creation of an optical diode is a virtual case study in both the physics and materials sciences challenges of trying to develop all-optical networks. It is also a significant step towards their final realization.' One answer may be... garnet. Yes, the January birthstone. 'The material that Ross and others in her field use is a synthetic, lab-grown garnet film. Similar to the natural mineral, often used as a gemstone, it is transparent in the infrared part of the spectrum. This makes synthetic garnet ideal for optical communications systems, which use the near infrared. Unlike natural garnet, it's also magnetic. ... While it works, it's too big and too labor intensive for use as a commercial integrated chip. For that, you need to grow garnet on silicon. The challenge that Ross's group overcame is that garnet doesn't grow on silicon.'"
scibri writes "Chemists have found a way to make reaction vessels perfectly suited to their needs, with 3D printers. From the article: 'Armed with a three-dimensional printer and the type of silicone-based sealant typically used for bathrooms, researchers have demonstrated a novel way to control chemical reactions ... One vessel was printed with catalyst-laced "ink," enabling the container walls to drive chemical reactions. Another container included built-in electrodes, made from skinny strips of polymer printed with a conductive carbon-based additive. The strips carried currents that stimulated an electrochemical reaction within the vessel.'"
An anonymous reader writes "To attract media and Congressional attention to the deep NASA planetary exploration cuts proposed to take place October 1, and the need to restore the planetary budget to present or higher levels, a National Planetary Exploration Car Wash and Bake Sale is being planned for June 9th. Organizations already involved include planetary groups at many universities, research institutions, and Moon Express (Google Lunar X Prize)."
ZeroExistenZ writes "NASA plans to make another trip to Mars in 2018 for which they want to devise a plan by this summer. To come up with ideas for this mission, they turn to the public to tackle a few challenge areas. Participants must submit a brief abstract (no more than two pages) outlining the idea, and indicating in which of the topical areas the idea belongs. Abstracts are due no later than 5:00 p.m. U.S. Central Daylight Time May 10, 2012."
First time accepted submitter jcho5 writes "China's 600-year-old Forbidden City is looking less forbidding these days. As part of a major restoration, the Chinese Palace museum will use 3D-Printers to re-manufacture and replicate many of the city's most precious and unique objects. From the article: 'PhD student Fangjin Zhang—along with her colleagues at Loughborough Design School in the East Midlands of England—had, for a number of years, been looking into the use of 3D printing as means to restore sculptures and archaeological relics. According to a Loughborough press release, Zhang developed a “formalized approach tailored specifically to the restoration of historic artifacts.” After reviewing Zhang’s techniques, the Palace Museum then invited Loughborough researchers to repair several Forbidden City artifacts, including the ceiling and enclosure of a pavilion in the Emperor Chanlong Garden.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Expanding on previous research providing proof-of-principle that human stem cells can be genetically engineered into HIV-fighting cells, a team of UCLA researchers have now demonstrated that these cells can actually attack HIV-infected cells in a living organism. From the article: 'This most recent study shows that scientists can manipulate stem cells — immature cells that can develop into any type of cell — by implanting genes, turning it into killer T cells which can kill the virus in living mice. While the mouse form of HIV is not exactly the same as it is in humans, the infection and progression closely mimic the virus in humans, and eliminating it is a huge step forward, researchers said.'"
mikejuk writes "You can build a computer out of all sorts of things — mechanical components, vacuum tubes, transistors, fluids and ... crabs. Researchers at Kobe University in Japan have discovered that soldier crabs have behaviors suitable for implementing simple logic and hence — with enough crabs — you can achieve a complete computer. The Soldier crab Mictyris guinotae has a swarming behavior that is just right for simple logic gates (PDF). When two crab swarms collide they fuse to make a single swarm — and this is enough to build an OR gate."
Zothecula writes "Crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter have proven popular for groups and individuals looking to get a consumer product, movie, music or video game project off the ground. Now a group of researchers and scientists is adopting a similar crowd-funding model to raise money for scientific research projects. The Microryza website, which launched this week, lets the public get behind research they care about and maybe help it get out of the lab."
cowtamer writes "CNN has a writeup on a method of treating depression with implanted electrodes. If this works, we may be seeing a lot more of this type of technology in the future. '[The patients] were lightly sedated when the holes were drilled and the electrodes implanted, but they were awake to describe what they experienced. Several patients reported profound changes just minutes after the stimulator was turned on. One said the room suddenly seemed brighter and colors were more intense. Another described heightened feelings of connectedness and a disappearance of the void.' While I haven't looked into any of the academic literature on this, it seems that yet another Larry Niven Prediction has come true!"