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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors ScottyUrb, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and jlms qkw, guest editors maggiejean and annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment.

Between now and the end of the primary/caucus season, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses during the week (or in the upcoming weeks if there is no primary or caucus that week).  Tonight's edition features the science, space, environment, and energy stories from universities in the states of Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, and Missouri, along with one from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  Next week's edition will also feature stories from Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, and Puerto Rico along with states having their primaries during the rest of March and early April.

This week's featured stories come from Piedmont Patch and The Irish Times, respectively, courtesy of annetteboardman.

Digging Up Ireland: An Archaeological Memoir
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, some memories of very old stones and bones on a dig in County Clare
By Dixie Jordan

My strongest memories of Ireland are not of Guinness — although I have plenty of those, notably of being chastised in a village pub for taking a sip before the bubbles quit rising — but of a place called Roughan Hill.

The first day I climbed Roughan Hill, a bit of limestone-studded farmland in County Clare, I was eager to spot antiquities.

"Where are all the wedge tombs?" I demanded.

"Right behind you," a companion laughed.

I turned, too quickly, and tumbled into the tomb, a Bronze Age monument and perhaps burial place made of massive limestone slabs. Luckily this particular tomb had collapsed over the centuries and I landed in a shallow depression, unhurt except for my dented ego.

Digging up 9,000 years

IRISH ARCHEOLOGY :Cois tSiúire: 9000 years of human settlement in the Lower Suir Valley - Archaeological Excavations on the N25 Bypass, edited by James Eogan and Elizabeth Shee Twohig, National Roads Authority, 345pp plus accompanying CD, €25

ONE OF THE ENDURING legacies of the Celtic Tiger is an improved road infrastructure. This is not without controversy, notably in the case of the M3 motorway’s construction and its impact on the Hill of Tara, in Co Meath, and its surrounding landscape. What received far less publicity were the systematic programmes of archaeological assessment and excavation undertaken along road routes, providing an enormous amount of new information about the past. This book presents the results of the investigation of the route of the N25 Waterford city bypass, in the Lower Suir Valley. The route runs to the northeast (in Co Kilkenny) and southwest (in Co Waterford) of the new River Suir bridge, providing an additional crossing with the aim of reducing congestion in the city.

Evidence from 60 excavations on sites identified by archaeological assessment is presented. The challenge of covering, as the subtitle of the book puts it, “9,000 years of human activity” for a diverse readership has been met by placing a lot of the detailed archaeological information on an accompanying CD and by organising the book into three parts.

More stories after the jump.

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Discovery News:Four Crazy Facts about Beer.

Beer has a lot more to it than just suds and bubbles. Daron Taylor takes a look!

University of Alabama, Birmingham: Happily ever after: The lessons of medicine and fairy tales
By Bob Shepard
March 15, 2012

Two hundred years after the Brothers Grimm published their first book of fairy tales, a special exhibit in the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences explores the parallels between the magic in fairy tales and ancient medicine. While fairy tales are imaginative flights of fancy, they also helped people gain a better understanding of serious issues such as illness, injury and even death.
Video at Vimeo here.


University of Puerto Rico: A ver las galaxias desde el Observatorio de Arecibo
por Prensa RRP
Especial para UPR Informa
viernes, 16 de marzo de 2012

Estudiantes de los cursos de Introducción a la Astronomía y Astronomía General, del Recinto de Río Piedras (RRP) de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), tienen la oportunidad privilegiada este semestre de utilizar las instalaciones del Observatorio de Arecibo, para observar las galaxias.

Así lo informó Carmen A. Pantoja, profesora de la Facultad de Ciencias Naturales de ese recinto, quien catalogó la oportunidad como única en la isla.

“Esto es para los estudiantes, quienes apenas se insertan en el estudio de la Física, la Astronomía y la Radioastronomía, una experiencia que muchos astrónomos con largos años de estudio e investigación anhelan tener”, indicó. Agregó que estos alumnos podrán participar de una sesión de observación en el telescopio como parte del curso universitario.

English Translation with help from Babelfish:
"To see the galaxies from the Observatory of Arecibo"

Students in the courses of Introduction to Astronomy and General Astronomy at the Piedras River Campus (RRP) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), have the privileged opportunity this semester to use the facilities of the Observatory of Arecibo to observe the galaxies.

So said Carmen A. Pantoja, professor of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at that campus, describing the opportunity as one unique to the island.

“This is for the students, who as soon as they are inserted in the study of the Physics, Astronomy and Radio astronomy have a experience that many astronomers with long years of study and investigation yearn to have,” she indicated.  She added that these students will be able to participate in an observation session in the telescope as part of the university course.


University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana: Study of ribosome evolution challenges RNA world hypothesis
March 12, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — In the beginning – of the ribosome, the cell’s protein-building workbench – there were ribonucleic acids, the molecules we call RNA that today perform a host of vital functions in cells. And according to a new analysis, even before the ribosome’s many working parts were recruited for protein synthesis, proteins also were on the scene and interacting with RNA. This finding challenges a long-held hypothesis about the early evolution of life.

The study appears in the journal PLoS ONE.

The “RNA world” hypothesis, first promoted in 1986 in a paper in the journal Nature and defended and elaborated on for more than 25 years, posits that the first stages of molecular evolution involved RNA and not proteins, and that proteins (and DNA) emerged later, said University of Illinois crop sciences and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, who led the new study.

“I’m convinced that the RNA world (hypothesis) is not correct,” Caetano-Anollés said. “That world of nucleic acids could not have existed if not tethered to proteins.”


University of Alabama: Hiding in Plain Sight, a New Frog Species with a ‘Weird’ Croak is Identified in New York City
March 14, 2012

In the wilds of New York City — or as wild as you can get so close to skyscrapers — scientists have found a new leopard frog species that for years biologists mistook for a more widespread variety of leopard frog.

While biologists regularly discover new species in remote rain forests, finding this one in the ponds and marshes of Staten Island, mainland New York and New Jersey — sometimes within view of the Statue of Liberty — is a big surprise, said the scientists from UCLA, Rutgers University, UC Davis, and The University of Alabama who worked together to make the unexpected discovery.

“For a new species to go unrecognized for all this time in this area is amazing,” said UCLA Professor Brad Shaffer, from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and UCLA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Shaffer is one of the authors on the paper announcing the discovery.

Illinois State University: Researchers Determine Cause of Bat Deaths at Wind Farms
March 5, 2012

A research team based at Illinois State University has taken a CSI approach to determining the cause of bat deaths at wind farms. The team has concluded that the most likely cause is traumatic injury from collision with turning turbine blades. That finding contradicts a widely accepted explanation that bats die from barotrauma – essentially ruptured lungs caused by entering a low pressure field created by the turning blades.

Bats are an integral part of food webs and provide essential pest control services worth an estimated $3 billion per year. Yet bats as a group face many threats that imperil their future survival. One source of mortality was discovered less than a decade ago when researchers started documenting high numbers of bat deaths at wind farms.

“Ultimately, two competing hypotheses were developed to explain the fatalities,” said Katie Rollins, a recent Master of Science degree graduate from Illinois State’s School of Biological Sciences and a lead researcher on a project that rigorously tested the collision and barotrauma hypotheses. “The most obvious one – the collision hypothesis – was questioned seriously when a 2008 study suggested barotrauma as a major cause of deaths based on pathology of bat carcasses collected at one wind farm in Canada. That finding received a great deal of publicity and was widely accepted without further study.”


Popular Science: Russian and Korean Researchers Will Inject Mammoth DNA Into Elephant Eggs, Resurrecting 10,000-Year-Old Beast
By Rebecca Boyle
Posted 03.14.2012 at 3:03 pm

First a plant from the past sprouted new life — now researchers in Russia and South Korea are moving forward with a plan to resurrect the Ice Age woolly mammoth. Scientists in both countries inked a deal Tuesday to share technology and research that could lead to the birth of a mammoth clone, gestated in a surrogate Indian elephant mother.

Mammoth remains were uncovered in thawed Siberian permafrost, and scientists around the world have been trying to extract DNA from the remains. Previously, paleobiologists were able to reproduce mammoth blood protein, and Japanese researchers want to resurrect the mammoth within five years. This new project will move forward if the Russian institution, the North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic, can ship its mammoth remains to the Koreans.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

University of Missouri: Storage Time for Cartilage Transplant Tissue Doubled by MU Researchers
March 13, 2012

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— For years, doctors have been able to treat defects in joint cartilage by grafting cartilage donated from cadavers into patients’ bad joints. Using current methods, donated cartilage can be stored for 28 days for a transplant before the tissue becomes too degraded to transplant into a patient. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri have found a way to store donated cartilage more than twice as long.

“Currently, nearly 80 percent of all donated tissue has to be discarded because it deteriorates before a transplant bank can find a match with a patient who needs a transplant,” James Cook, a researcher from the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and the William C. and Kathryn E. Allen Distinguished Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery, said. “By more than doubling the time we can store tissue, the odds of matching the tissue with a recipient are greatly increased.”

University of Missouri: Increased Collaboration Between Nursing Home RN and LPN Staff Could Improve Patient Care, MU Researcher Says
By Kate McIntyre
March 14, 2012

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Researchers estimate nearly 800,000 preventable adverse drug events may occur in nursing homes each year. Many of these incidents could be prevented with safety practices such as medication reconciliation, a process in which health care professionals, such as physicians, pharmacists and nurses, review medication regimens to identify and resolve discrepancies when patients transfer between health care settings. In nursing homes, both registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) often are responsible for this safety practice. A recent study by a University of Missouri gerontological nursing expert found, when observed, these nurses often differed in how they identified discrepancies. Recognizing the distinct differences between RNs and LPNs could lead to fewer medication errors and better patient care.

Amy Vogelsmeier, assistant professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, says because pharmacists and physicians often are unavailable, both RNs and LPNs equally are responsible for practices such as medication reconciliation and other activities to coordinate care once patients enter nursing homes.

Vogelsmeier said RNs often are underutilized in nursing homes, though their clinical education and experience give them a greater sense of the “bigger picture,” which leads to better outcomes.

University of Illinois, Chicago: Rare Transplant Allows Young Woman to Forgo 60 Pills Daily
March 13, 2012

Surgeons at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System performed a rare living-donor parathyroid gland transplant to help a 22-year-old woman maintain normal calcium levels without the need for high-dose supplementation.

Ashley Slussar, of Joliet, Ill., had all of her parathyroid glands removed in 2006 because they had grown large and were overproducing parathyroid hormone. The hyperparathyroidism was caused by years of kidney disease and dialysis, which she needed to survive.

As a result of having no parathyroid glands, she required 60 calcium pills a day to maintain normal calcium blood levels. Without the supplements, she could suffer life-threatening complications.

Southern Illinois University: ‘Nature’ publishes key ‘goblet cell’ research study
By Tim Crosby
March 14, 2012

CARBONDALE, ILL. -- When someone with food allergies eats the wrong kind of food, the person’s body declares full-scale war, attacking the food protein with everything it has in a desperate attempt to protect the body from what it perceives as a dire threat.

And in the process, unfortunately, instead of the protecting the body this response sometimes ends up gravely harming or even killing it.

A researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, however, has helped make some recent discoveries that might lead to new vaccines or targeted drug therapies that would prevent food allergies from causing such harm.  And her research, which centers on a new technique for studying the cells in the intestines of living mice and observations using this technique, will be shared with the scientific world community this week when it is published in the journal, “Nature.”


University of Illinois, Chicago: Charcoal Studied for Landfill Methane Containment
March 13, 2012

Methane, often used for cooking and heating, is a potent greenhouse gas -- more than 20 times more effective at trapping atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide. A major source of slow methane leaks is old, abandoned landfills and town dumps.

While containing gas at these sites can be expensive, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers believe an effective and cheap way to trap it may be as easy as laying down a covering using charcoal as the key ingredient.

UIC civil and materials engineering professor Krishna Reddy and earth and environmental sciences research professor Jean Bogner think layers of biochar, either by itself or mixed with soil, can trap and hold on to escaping methane long enough for methanotropic bacteria to break it up, producing less-harmful carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

"Our concept is to design a cheap and effective cover system," said Reddy, who has done extensive research on landfill management solutions. "We've done preliminary studies on biochar and found it has the characteristic of being able to adsorb methane.


Science Codex: Santorini: The ground is moving again in paradise
Posted On: March 13, 2012 - 3:00pm

Do a Google image search for "Greece." Before you find pictures of the Parthenon or Acropolis, you'll see several beautiful photos of Santorini, the picturesque island in the Aegean Sea. The British Broadcasting Company named it the world's best island in 2011. Santorini is a tourist magnet, famous for its breathtaking, cliff side views and sunsets.

It's also a volcanic island that has been relatively calm since its last eruption in 1950. Until now. The Santorini caldera is awake again and rapidly deforming at levels never seen before. Georgia Tech Associate Professor Andrew Newman has studied Santorini since setting up more than 20 GPS stations on the island in 2006.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana: Study suggests motivation to be active may lead to impulsive behavior
March 14, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — Those motivated to actively change bad habits may be setting themselves up for failure, a new study suggests.

The study, described in an article in the journal Motivation and Emotion, found that people primed with words suggesting action were more likely than others to make impulsive decisions that undermined their long-term goals. In contrast, those primed to “rest,” to “stop” or to be inactive found it easier to avoid impulsive decisions.

“Popular views of self-control maintain that individuals should ‘exert’ willpower, ‘fight’ temptations, ‘overcome’ desires and ‘control’ impulses when they want to successfully control their own behavior,” said University of Illinois graduate student Justin Hepler, who led the study with psychology professor Dolores Albarracín. “Ironically, in these situations people are often ‘fighting’ to do nothing – for example, they want to not eat a piece of cake.”

“Those who try to be active may make wild, risky investments, for example, and persist in behaviors that clearly make them unsuccessful,” Albarracín said.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: Insects have personalities too, research on honey bees indicates
March 8, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — A new study in Science suggests that thrill-seeking is not limited to humans and other vertebrates. Some honey bees, too, are more likely than others to seek adventure. The brains of these novelty-seeking bees exhibit distinct patterns of gene activity in molecular pathways known to be associated with thrill-seeking in humans, researchers report.

The findings offer a new window on the inner life of the honey bee hive, which once was viewed as a highly regimented colony of seemingly interchangeable workers taking on a few specific roles (nurse or forager, for example) to serve their queen. Now it appears that individual honey bees actually differ in their desire or willingness to perform particular tasks, said University of Illinois entomology professor and Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson, who led the study. These differences may be due, in part, to variability in the bees’ personalities, he said.

“In humans, differences in novelty-seeking are a component of personality,” he said. “Could insects also have personalities?”


USA Today: U.S. archaeologists unearth Iraq's ruins
By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
Updated 3/9/2012 9:41 PM

Vanished cities abound in Iraq — Babylon, Nineveh and Ur just for starters — so much that archaeologists joked that the only advice needed to uncover history is "just dig."

War and international sanctions closed these locations off to the world and to scholars. The ruins of ancient Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq, have mostly seen visits from looters for the last two decades.

But that may be changing. A U.S. archaeology team that was one of the first to visit Iraq in more than two decades, has just returned from a dig there. They are now among a growing list of other archaeologists returning to the war-ravaged nations.

"There is so much gloom and doom in news from Iraq, this is a really hopeful moment," says archaeologist Elizabeth Stone of Stony Brook (N.Y) University. "Iraq, Mesopotamia, is so rich in archaeological sites. It was wonderful to be back."

The Express Tribune (Pakistan): Unfading beauty: If these rocks could talk
By Fazal Khaliq

Of its many splendours, a facet of Swat’s history remained hidden from tourists and locals till the new millennium-the ancient rock paintings in the valley.

An Italian archaeologist, Dr Luca M Olivieri, who has worked extensively in Swat, told The Express Tribune, “Many of the paintings in Swat valley were discovered in natural shelters formed by glacial erosion in granite boulders. These are generally located in remote mountainous ares and are hard to access. They are, however,clearly visible from a great distance.

According to Dr Olivieri, mountain tribes, possibly the ones referred to in the Vedas as Daradas and Kambojas painted the rocks.

“The shelters of Sargah-sar and Kakai-kandao are considered to be the most ancient and display highly symbolic compositions. The paintings suggest that they are the work of cultures lacking a written language, with a complex mythology in place. The paintings at Sargha-sar are naturally carved in a gigantic rock face.

This is Wiltshire (UK): Wiltshire Council experts help unlock secrets of Roman burial urns
11:42am Tuesday 13th March 2012 in News

Wiltshire Council experts have been unlocking the secrets in five burial urns dating back to Roman times.

Kelly Abbott, contract conservator with the Wiltshire Council Conservation Service, said the dusting away of years of history from the urns has uncovered bones which could be human.

The five ancient burial urns dating back to the Roman conquest were found at the site of Linden Homes’ King Harry Lane development in St Albans.

Foundations Archaeology, which has been working on the site for some time, enlisted the help of council experts to determine whether the remains inside the cremation urns belong to adults or children and to find out more detail about their lives.

Northhampton Chronicle and Echo (UK): Archaeologists need new home for six tonnes of Northamptonshire artefacts
By Nick Spoors
Published on Tuesday 13 March 2012 07:10

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are searching for a permanent home for six tonnes of Northamptonshire artefacts, after learning they can no longer be stored at a farm.

The CLASP group, a registered charity, has been gathering Roman objects from sites across the county for 10 years, amassing a hoard of valuable material that is helping piece together exactly how people lived in Northamptonshire 2,000 years ago.

BBC: Anglo-Saxon Christian grave find near Cambridge 'extremely rare'

An Anglo-Saxon grave discovered near Cambridge could be one of the earliest examples of Christianity taking over from Paganism, archaeologists said.

The skeleton of a teenage girl was found buried on a wooden bed, with a gold and garnet cross on her chest.

The grave is thought to date from the mid-7th Century AD, when Christianity was beginning to be introduced to the Pagan Anglo-Saxon kings.

It was uncovered at Trumpington Meadows by Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

The cross is only the fifth to be discovered in the UK.

Nate's Nonsense: Henry IV of France (and the case of the missing head of state)

In all the busyness around Christmastime, I got a little behind my 'current events in historical news' reading.  I'm now catching up, so forgive me if you already saw this one, but this last December, scientists announced they'd found the skull of King Henry IV of France in the attic of a retired tax collector.

You may be wondering how a private collector came to posses the head of a former king and why it wasn't attached to the rest of his body in the first place.

For those who don't know about Henry IV, he was a fascinating individual.  He was born in 1553, heir to the Kingdom of Navarre and a claimant to the French throne.  Although he was baptized as an infant in the Roman Catholic Church, he was raised as a Huguenot (French Protestant) and fought with Protestant forces in the Wars of Religion.

The Capital Gazette: Artifacts found at Market House
Well construction uncovers butchered bones, pottery chips
By Elisha Sauers, Staff Writer
Published 03/16/12

Annapolis is as old as dirt. And any time a construction worker sticks a shovel in city soil, he’s almost guaranteed to find something old as — well, you know.

Such has been the case with a project at downtown Annapolis’ Market House over the past two months, as contractors drill 22 geothermal wells for a new heating and cooling system.

Workers have found traces of an old brick walking path, cattle and other animal bones, a shard of pottery, a handle for a jug, a hand-wrought nail and a handmade spike.

Salisbury Post: Volunteers look for artifacts at Confederate Prison site
By Emily Ford
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 12:00 AM |

SALISBURY — Pig teeth were among the most exciting relics uncovered Saturday during an amateur archaeological dig at the Salisbury Confederate Prison site.

The test dig will help determine whether the site deserves a deeper look.

Volunteers won’t know until Dr. Ken Robinson, a professional archaeologist who directed the dig, conducts further study whether the teeth, bone fragments, pottery, glass, square nails and other artifacts they unearthed came from the prison.

Science Crime Scenes

The Daily Mail (UK): Iron Age murder mystery as CT scan shows British man from 100AD was beaten, strangled, then beheaded in 'pagan ritual'
By Rob Waugh

Archaeologists have solved a 1900-year-old 'cold case' mystery - using a medical CT scanner to scan the head of an Iron Age murder victim.

The preserved head of the second century Briton - known as The Worsley Man due to his location near Salford - was found in a peat bog in 1958.

The scan shows he as bludgeoned over the head, garrotted and then beheaded - leading archaeologists to suspect he was sacrificed.

Experts had been divided over how he died - but the new CT scan shows clear marks of the ligature that strangled him.

The Worsley Man is thought to have lived around 100AD when Romans occupied much of Britain.

Agence France Presse via Al Ahram (Egypt): 10 die in Egypt while digging for ancient treasures
Treasure hunters are buried alive north of Luxor on Monday while undertaking illegal dig
AFP, Monday 12 Mar 2012

Ten people were killed when the soil caved in on them as they were illegally digging for ancient treasures under a house in a central Egyptian village, police officials told AFP on Monday.

The 10, including four brothers, were buried alive when the walls of the dig collapsed in the village of Arab Al-Manasra, north of the historic city of Luxor.

Rescue services were working to recover the bodies, the official said, adding that two people were also injured in the incident.

Gizmodo: The Real-Life Libyan Ocean’s Eleven

The treasure was kept mostly in two wooden chests, and locked away in a bank vault: thousands of coins, jewellry and figurines, some around 2,600 years old. For decades it sat in the bank, unattended despite the historical and monetary value. Then, as a popular uprising erupted around the downtown bank last winter, someone entered the vault and made off with the trove.

Now, as Interpol searches for the collection on the illegal antiquities markets, questions are still being raised about the nature of the theft. One thing most seem to agree on: The heist was an inside job.

“I cannot say who did it,” said Ahmed Buzaian, an archaeology professor at Benghazi University, who was part of an outside group that investigated the crime scene. “But they knew exactly what was inside.”

Billings Gazette: "Diggers" TV show strikes nerve
Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:05 am |

Montana's state archaeologist said a Montana duo of metal detector artifact hunters featured in a new National Geographic television program appear to have violated state law.

He isn't the only one upset by the content of the show "Diggers," which featured Anaconda-area residents Tim Saylor and George Wyant. The show has also become the focus of Facebook petitions and write-in campaigns to the channel criticizing the show's content.

The first episode of the "Diggers," called "Montana Juice," was filmed at the Old Montana Prison, a state-owned property in Deer Lodge. The show aired on Feb. 28.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.


Talking Points Memo: New CERN Test Finds Particles Not Faster Than Light After All
Carl Franzen
March 16, 2012, 1:58 PM 2217 55

Einstein’s theory of relativity is standing stronger than ever in the wake of the results of a new experiment out of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which found that particles that scientists initially thought were traveling faster than the speed of light were actually moving more slowly.

Back in September 2011, CERN scientists shocked the world by announcing that one of the agency’s particle physics experiments, called OPERA, had detected neutrinos, a type of uncharged particle, traveling 60 billionths of a second faster than the speed of light through a 454-mile expanse of earth connecting an underground lab near Geneva, Switzerland to one near Assergi, Italy.

Those results came in violation of Einstein’s theory of relativity, which states that nothing in the universe can move faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

But after re-measuring the speed of the neutrinos in a different experiment called ICARUS, CERN on Friday announced that the neutrinos were actually moving equal to the speed of light and the original paradigm-shattering results were most likely due to a measuring error.

Illinois State University: ILP Theory Unit Receives NSF Grant of $300,000
March 5, 2012

Two professors at Illinois State University received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue their award-winning work with lasers.

The three-year grant will assist University Professor of Physics Q. Charles Su and Distinguished Professor of Physics Rainer Grobe with their work in the Intense Laser Physics Theory Unit (ILP) at Illinois State.

“It is a tremendous honor for ILP to be recognized six times in a row by the prestigious NSF funding agency,” said Su, who is co-director of ILP along with Grobe.


University of Alabama, Birmingham: Promise of novel drug-delivery system that can invade tumors to be explored
By Tyler Greer
March 16, 2012

It was around lunchtime one weekday this past fall, and Kenneth Hoyt, Ph.D., didn’t have anything exciting to do.

He knew there was a biomedical engineering talk about to begin down the street from his Volker Hall office. “So, I figured what the heck,” says the assistant professor of radiology and biomedical engineering. “I’ll go check it out.”

He watched and listened intently as Eugenia Kharlampieva, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, talked about her shape-switching, hollow polymer hydrogel micro-containers with cell-mimicking shape. The capsules — with pH-triggered, shape-switching capabilities — certainly seemed to be the device Hoyt needed to continue his research on controlled drug delivery in cancer tumors using microbial contrast and targeting ultrasound agents.

“I sent Eugenia an email as soon as I got back to my office,” Hoyt says. “We’ve been putting things together ever since.”

University of Alabama, Huntsville: UAHuntsville faculty on cover of Green Chemistry for discovering a new way to extract fuel from algae

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (March 13, 2012) – Dr. Rodrigo E. Teixeira of the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville was recently featured on the cover of Green Chemistry for his publication reporting the discovery of a new way to extract fuel from algae.

Green Chemistry is a prominent journal in the field of environmentally friendly chemistry. The tiny microorganisms have a tremendous, game-changing potential, according to algae experts, said Teixeira.


Louisiana Tech: Engineering students set to defend U.S. Eco-marathon record
by Dave Guerin
Posted on March 12th, 2012

A team of students from Louisiana Tech University's College of Engineering and Science is preparing to defend its U.S. Eco-marathon fuel efficiency record at the Sixth Annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas, scheduled for March 29 through April 1 in Houston, Texas.

The event challenges students to design, build and compete with their high-mileage vehicles in competitions held annually in Europe, the Americas and Asia.  The Louisiana Tech students will be joined by over 1,000 other high school and university students from around the country to navigate their fuel-efficient vehicles through the streets of downtown Houston.

However, the Tech students have a bigger goal.  They hope to beat the U.S. record of 646.7 miles per gallon they set during last year's competition with their Urban Concept vehicle, "Roadster."  The team also won first place last year for overall design and safety.  The team will be competing with area schools including University of Houston and Rice University as well as national rivals UCLA, Purdue and Penn State.

Southeastern Louisiana University: Alternative resources, conservation save Southeastern in energy costs
March 12, 2012

HAMMOND – Officials at Southeastern Louisiana University are eyeing the possibility of being off the commercial electrical grid within a decade.

With energy costs rising in a tight higher education budget situation, conservation and alternative energy sources implemented by the university may make that vision a reality.

“It’s an aggressive goal, admittedly,” said Southeastern Physical Plant Director Byron Patterson, “but we believe we have to think aggressively or it won’t happen at all. Any strides taken toward this overarching goal are steps in the right direction.”

The university is using a combination of tactics:  solar power to generate electricity and heated water, in-house biodiesel generation to power off-road vehicles and landscaping equipment, replacement of aging equipment with more energy efficient models, and conservation through a tightly controlled energy management system.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana: When women stop breastfeeding linked to child care options, study shows
March 13, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, lll. — Mothers participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, are more likely to discontinue breastfeeding their infants before 6 months of age than non-WIC mothers, especially if they rely upon relatives to provide child care, according to a new study by Juhee Kim, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois.

Kim’s study sample included more than 7,500 children 8-14 months of age. About 50 percent of the infants were enrolled in WIC, and 47 percent received child care on a regular basis.

WIC programs provide a number of resources and incentives to promote breastfeeding; however, WIC participants were twice as likely as non-WIC mothers – 41 percent versus 20 percent, respectively – to never initiate breastfeeding.

University of Illinois, Chicago: What Does Delaying Childbearing Cost?
March 14, 2012

Freezing eggs or ovarian tissue for the sole purpose of delaying childbearing for social reasons may prove too costly for society, according to a recent analysis by a University of Illinois at Chicago researcher.

Fertility preservation -- freezing eggs or ovarian tissue -- was originally intended for women undergoing medical treatments that could affect their fertility.

But now, fertility centers around the country are offering these technologies to women who are not undergoing treatment, but who are "trying to create a backup plan for delaying pregnancy," says Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UIC and lead author of the study, published in the March issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Science Education

Nicholls State University: Nicholls ‘Research Week’ to begin March 26
March 16, 2012 at 9:03 am

THIBODAUX – Nicholls State University’s seventh annual Research Week is scheduled for Monday, March 26, through Friday, March 30. All events are open to the public and will highlight a variety of research, featuring a student poster competition, the Brown Bag Faculty Speaker Series and awards ceremonies honoring students and faculty.

Every Nicholls college will host topical presentations, with subjects as diverse as “Chromosome Numbers: A Natural History,” “The Nineteenth-Century World’s Fair,” “Culinary Sustainability Practices,” “Lost Restaurants of New Orleans,” “Use of Social Media,” “Research on Banks,” “Increasing Colorectal Cancer Screening” and “Colonel Chat” – the latter of which is a technological tutoring partnership between the Nicholls College of Education and area elementary school teachers.

University of Louisiana, Monroe: ULM biology students, faculty bring home first place wins from Louisiana Academy of Sciences
From: Laura J. Woodard, Director of Media Relations
March 15, 2012

The University of Louisiana at Monroe Biology Department scored three first place wins at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Academy of Sciences on March 3 in Alexandria.

Competition was plentiful - there were a total of 73 posters and 112 paper presentations, all sections combined, with participants from 32 institutions.

Science Writing and Reporting

KQED: Humans and the History of Water

Q & A With Brian Fagan, archaeologist and author of Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind

While many work to understand the world’s current water problems with a laser focus on the present, a few, such as University of California at Santa Barbara emeritus professor of archaeology, Brian Fagan, have chosen to look back, at the water engineering efforts of past civilizations. In his recent book, Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind, Fagan finds striking historical parallels to California’s myriad challenges.

He agreed to answer some questions for Climate Watch.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Science is Cool

University of Illinois, Chicago: Online Game Shows Why Ward Maps Raise Controversy
March 15, 2012

If you wonder why Chicago's remapping of its 50 wards raised so much controversy and took so long, you can try remapping a few wards yourself, courtesy of urban planners at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Max Dieber, director of the Urban Data Visualization Lab in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, saw the recent ward wrangling as a chance to interest young people in civic affairs by appealing to their computer-gamesmanship.

He and his staff devised the Chicago Ward Redrawing Game at to demonstrate why everyone needs to participate in the census, vote knowledgeably for their local representatives, and understand the Voting Rights Act.

Southern Illinois University: Symposium brings Antarctica to campus, region
By Pete Rosenbery
March 16, 2012

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Antarctica might seem like a barren, foreboding continent that has little impact on Southern Illinois.

A multi-disciplinary symposium that starts next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will bring scholars, scientists, artists and educators to the University to share insight on topics that include climate change, the roles and challenges in science reporting, and international treaty issues. The seven-week series of lectures, workshops, exhibits and film screenings will also focus on the literature and the arts associated with the fifth-largest continent in the world.  Antarctica is slightly less than one-and-one-half times the size of the United States.

“Antarctica: Imagined Geographies,” beings Monday, March 19, and continues through May 4 at various locations on campus, in Carbondale, Marion and Harrisburg.  The extended symposium builds upon an adaptation of a media arts installation first exhibited two years ago by Gary Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts (MCMA), and Jay Needham, an associate professor in radio-television.  Imagery and sound from Kolb and Needham’s 2008 journey to Antarctica is the centerpiece of the upcoming series and will be in the Morris Library rotunda.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 09:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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