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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and ScottyUrb, 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 general election, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in swing states for either the presidential election or competitive contests for the U.S. Senate, plus those states holding presidential or vice-presidential debates during the week.  Competitive states will be determined based on the percentage chance to win at Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times.  Those that show the two major party candidates having probabilities to win between 20% and 80% inclusive will count as swing states.

As of September 22nd, the presidential swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, while the states with competitive races for the U.S. Senate are Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  As you can see, Virginia will be featured every week.

Tonight's edition highlights the science, space, environment, health, and energy stories from universities in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

This week's featured story comes from the L.A. Times.

Ig Nobel Prizes honor research on why coffee spills when you walk
By Karen Kaplan
September 21, 2012, 1:04 p.m.

The Nobel Prize. The Lasker Prize. The Fields Medal. The MacArthur Fellowships (a.k.a. “the genius grants”). The Kavli Prize. The Ig Nobels.

Among the various awards given for scientific achievement, the Ig Nobels may not be the most coveted — but they’re certainly the most fun. The winners are selected by the Annals of Improbable Research to recognize breakthroughs that first make you laugh, then make you think. “The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology,” according to the organization’s website.

The 2012 Ig Nobels Prizes were handed out Thursday night at Harvard University, a place that knows a thing or two about academic achievement. Winners traveled from as far away as Russia, Japan, Rwanda, France and California to participate in the celebration, and no fewer than five actual Nobel Laureates were on hand to serve as presenters.

It's been a busy week in science.  More over the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories

Watch this space!

Sociopaths, Neuroscience, and Morality
by mathGuyNTulsa

"More science for creationists to ignore"
by Bill O Rights

The Daily Bucket - Turkey Shenanigans
by enhydra lutris

This week in science: Fall
by DarkSyde


KOLD-TV: New study links high salt intake and high blood pressure in children
By Barbara Grijalva
Posted: Sep 17, 2012 6:57 PM EDT Updated: Sep 17, 2012 10:13 PM EDT

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - American children are eating too much salt, as much as adults.

That's in a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that also found the salt children and adolescents ate was linked with higher blood pressure.

The researcher found the link may be even stronger for overweight or obese children.

University of Arizona: Photo Slideshow: Conservation, Research, Education at Heart of Tumamoc Hill

Tumamoc Hill is an 860-acre ecological reserve managed by the University of Arizona College of Science. With a 2,300-year-old ruined village atop a popular hiking trail, Tumamoc is both a National Historic Landmark and a U.S. Archaeological District.

University of Arizona on YouTube: Bugs Take Over SUMC Ballroom at the Arizona Insect Festival

The Arizona Insect Festival brought lots of bugs and bug enthusiasts to the UA campus this year. Booths included cockroach cuddling, glow-in-the-dark insects, bug illnesses, an insect sting pain scale, and caterpillar petting. Guests were invited to taste different eatable bugs and try their hands at bug-themed arts and crafts.

Arizona State University on Vimeo: The World's Hottest Temperature Cools A Bit

The World's Hottest Temperature Cools A Bit from Keith Jennings on Vimeo.

An evaluation team of investigators from the World Meteorological Organization, headed by ASU's Randy Cerveny, has disqualified the world-record temperature of 58 deg C from El Aizia, Libya in 1922 and replaced with a reading of 134 deg F from Death Valley, California from 1913.

For more, read the press release.

NASA Television on YouTube: Endeavour Goes Cross-Country on This Week @NASA

Atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, Endeavour completes its journey from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Los Angeles, where it'll go on display at the California Science Center next month. Also, Shuttle Social, Curiosity Cruises, Helping Hangout, Ride Remembered, and more.

University of Arizona on YouTube: Space Shuttle Endeavour Flies Over UA Mall

On it's way to retirement at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, the space shuttle Endeavour few over the University of Arizona as thousands of students, faculty and staff looked on. Mark Kelly, the last person to command a mission aboard the shuttle, requested the UA visit in honor of his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Viewers on the UA Mall cheered and took photographs of the shuttle as it passed.

NASA Television on YouTube: NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Report #7

A NASA's Mars Curiosity rover team member gives an update on developments and status of the planetary exploration mission. The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 1:31:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, which includes the 13.8 minutes needed for confirmation of the touchdown to be radioed to Earth at the speed of light. The rover will conduct a nearly two-year prime mission to investigate whether the Gale Crater region of Mars ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.


Solstices and Equinoxes

Washington Post: Autumnal equinox brings first day of fall Saturday morning

Eager to say goodbye to summer once and for all? Say hello to fall: the 2012 autumnal equinox occurs this Saturday, September 22 at 10:49 a.m. (EDT).

As the new season begins, Earth’s axis will be tilted neither away from nor towards the sun, allowing the sun’s direct rays to shine overhead at the equator before moving into the Southern Hemisphere.

Arizona Daily Star: Arizona scientists ID Vesta as source of vital asteroids
Tom Beal Arizona Daily Star
September 21, 2012 12:00 am

The Dawn spacecraft's recent visit to the giant "proto-planet" Vesta verified that it is the source of many hydrogen-rich asteroids that fell to Earth.

Using an instrument designed and operated for the NASA mission by Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute, scientists deduced that the oldest surfaces of the giant asteroid are covered with carbonaceous chondrites, the type of rocks that may have salted the Earth with the building blocks of life.

GRaND, the Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector, was used by a team of scientists led by Tom Prettyman, of the Planetary Science Institute, to provide an elemental map of Vesta during Dawn's 13-month orbit.

Their results were published Thursday in Science Express, the online journal of AAAS, the science society.

Florida State University: Florida State University alumna Jennifer Stern follows her curiosity to the Red Planet
Kathleen Laufenberg
09/19/2012 9:16 pm

Jennifer Stern goes to Mars every day. It’s her job.

Stern, a 2005 Florida State University graduate, is a scientist on the Earth-based crew that monitors and directs Curiosity, the space rover now rumbling over the Red Planet more than 34 million miles away. Before she signed up to explore Mars, though, the 36-year-old researcher earned her doctorate in geochemistry at Florida State University and worked daily for nearly four years in the geochemistry program of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at FSU. She left to do her postdoctoral research at the Astrobiology Division of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

“Definitely working with all of the state-of-the-art instruments at the MagLab, getting all that hands-on experience using the mass spectrometers and other tools in geochem, helped me get this job,” Stern said in a phone interview from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. “I really got to know the instruments I used at the MagLab inside and out. If you don’t understand the instrument, you don’t understand how good your data is — and that’s especially true when you’re making an instrument for outer space.”

Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech engineering students' experiments to ride along on NASA rocket into space

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 20, 2012 – Virginia Tech College of Engineering students will watch their experiments blast into space this Friday when NASA launches a rocket from its Wallops Flight Facility. The spacecraft will climb roughly 99 miles or 160 kilometers into the thermosphere before diving back to Earth for an Atlantic Ocean splash landing via parachute.

The NASA-owned, two-stage, 40-foot long Terrier-Improved Malemute rocket is scheduled to blast off from Wallops Island, Va., at 6 a.m. Sept. 21, carrying a series of experiments created by students from Virginia Tech’s Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, as well as student teams from three other U.S. universities: Baylor University, University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Puerto Rico. The full flight time is expected to be 15 minutes, according to a NASA Wallops website.

“Launches at NASA Wallops are a sight to see,” said Stephen Noel of Christiansburg, Va., and a first-year master’s student in aerospace engineering who also is serving as team leader of the project. Noel recently finished an internship at Wallops Flight Facility and was witness to several previous rocket launches.


Nature (UK): Studies slow the human DNA clock
Revised estimates of mutation rates bring genetic accounts of human prehistory into line with archaeological data.
Ewen Callaway

The story of human ancestors used to be writ only in bones and tools, but since the 1960s DNA has given its own version of events. Some results were revelatory, such as when DNA studies showed that all modern humans descended from ancestors who lived in Africa more than 100,000 years ago. Others were baffling, suggesting that key events in human evolution happened at times that flatly contradicted the archaeology.

Now archaeologists and geneticists are beginning to tell the same story, thanks to improved estimates of DNA’s mutation rate — the molecular clock that underpins genetic dating. “It’s incredibly vindicating to finally have some reconciliation between genetics and archaeology,” says Jeff Rose, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham, UK. Archaeologists and geneticists may now be able to tackle nuanced questions about human history with greater confidence in one another’s data. “They do have to agree,” says Aylwyn Scally, an evolutionary genomicist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK. “There was a real story.”

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Indiana University: New IU research presents most extensive pictures ever of an organism's DNA mutation processes
Pattern may be used in forensics to help determine where a particular bacterial strain originates
Sept. 17, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Biologists and informaticists at Indiana University have produced one of the most extensive pictures ever of mutation processes in the DNA sequence of an organism, elucidating important new evolutionary information about the molecular nature of mutations and how fast those heritable changes occur.

By analyzing the exact genomic changes in the model prokaryote Escherichia coli that had undergone over 200,000 generations of growth in the absence of natural selective pressures, the team led by IU College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology professor Patricia L. Foster found that spontaneous mutation rates in E. coli DNA were actually three times lower than previously thought.

The new research, which appears today in early editions of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also notes that the mismatch repair proteins that survey newly replicated DNA and detect mistakes not only keep mutation rates low but may also maintain the balance of guanine-cytosine content to adenine-thymine content in the genome. Guanine-cytosine and adenine-thymine are the nitrogenous bases that bond between opposing DNA strands to form the rungs of the double helix ladder of DNA.

Virginia Tech: Scientists investigate bacterial outliers

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 18, 2012 – Virginia Tech scientists have gained new insight into the evolution of the bacteria Brucella and its associated disease brucellosis, which infects mammals and can cause abortions in cattle and pigs. Humans contract the disease most often by consuming unpasteurized milk or cheese. Symptoms, such as fever, headache, and chills, are similar to the flu.

As detailed in a recent mBio publication, Virginia Tech scientists, using resources available through the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute’s Pathosystems Resource Integration Center, sequenced the genome of two atypical Brucella strains recently isolated from human patients (BO1 and BO2) and previously found to be linked to other atypical Brucella strains isolated from Australian rodents (NF2653 and 83-13).
Through phylogenomic and chemical analyses, the Virginia Tech team found that the strains, in particular BO2, are unique in regard to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) O-antigen synthesis.  The LPS O-antigen is required for virulence in Brucella species, and is also the basis for typing isolates.  The O-antigen of the BO2 strain is more similar to O-antigen from enteric species such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli than to other Brucella species.  This demonstrates the existence of a group of diverging Brucella strains with traits that depart from better known strains.


Arizona State University: Study of 'forest killer' plant explores human, environment vulnerability to rapid environmental change
September 21, 2012

It’s called mile-a-minute weed or “forest killer.” Mikania micrantha is an exotic, invasive species that spreads quickly, covering crops, smothering trees and rapidly altering the environment.

Researchers at Arizona State University are spearheading a four-year research project that will explore what factors cause people and the environment to be vulnerable to rapid environmental change, such as an invasion by Mikania.

Study findings likely will serve as a harbinger of the future as humans increasingly experience abrupt, extreme conditions associated with climate change, said Sharon J. Hall, the study’s co-principal investigator and ASU School of Life Sciences associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

University of Florida: Sea-level rise threatens endangered rabbit far more than development, UF research finds
September 20, 2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When University of Florida researcher Robert McCleery and a graduate student began looking at why an endangered marsh rabbit’s habitat was disappearing in the Florida Keys, they fully expected the blame would fall on development.

Instead, they were stunned to find that nearly half of the rabbit’s habitat loss was due to rising sea levels.

“We kind of look at sea level rise as this problem that’s just starting, something that is going to be a real problem for conservation in the future. But what we’re showing here is that it’s already a problem,” McCleery said. “We’re not saying that development doesn’t have an impact, but sea level rise is undoubtedly the main culprit and development helps exacerbate it.”

The sea level findings raise concerns about the outlook for many coastal species, McCleery said, and he said there is no reason to believe that outlook won’t worsen over time, as ocean levels are predicted to rise.

University of Wisconsin: Surprising demographic shifts in endangered monkey population challenge conservation expectations
by Jill Sakai
Sept. 18, 2012

At first glance, the northern muriqui monkey is a prime conservation success story.

These Brazilian primates are critically endangered, but in the past 30 years a population on a private reserve has grown from just 60 individuals to some 300, now comprising almost a third of the total remaining animals.

A new study reports increasing use of the ground among a population of the otherwise arboreal northern muriqui monkeys in Brazil. Researchers led by University of Wisconsin–Madison anthropologist Karen Strier believe the behavioral innovation may underlie demographic changes in the population over the past 30 years, including unexpected increases in both fertility and mortality.

Photo: Karen Strier

As the population grows, though, it is offering researchers a glimpse into a new phase of recovery as it begins to face the limitations of its habitat. A recent analysis of the factors contributing to this population's tremendous growth reveals surprising trends that raise new questions about conservation, recovery and what constitutes a healthy population.

McClatchy Newspapers via Arizona Daily Star: Genetically modified corn called harmful
September 20, 2012 12:00 am

PARIS - Rats feed a type of genetically modified corn died younger and suffered a range of tumors and cancers, a new French study found Wednesday.

The report in the online edition of the International Journal of Food Toxicity by a team of researchers at the university of Caen in northern France looked at rats fed on the GM crop for two years.

"The results are alarming. We observed a typical two to three times higher mortality rate among females," researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini told AFP news agency.

"There are two to three times more tumors in rats of both sexes," he added.

In case you were wondering, the GMOs are from Monsanto.

University of Arizona: UA Professor Directs Manufacture of Experimental Stroke Drug
Researchers think the drug 3K3A-APC, currently undergoing clinical trials in Europe, may help reduce brain damage and improve motor skills after a stroke.
By Alexis Blue, University Communications
September 20, 2012

Thomas Davis, professor of pharmacology in the UA College of Medicine, was chosen to direct the manufacture of the drug for human trials after co-authoring a recent paper in the journal Stroke that pointed to the drug’s effectiveness in rats and mice when used in conjunction with a clot-busting therapy known as tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA.

While tPA is commonly given to sufferers of ischemic stroke, which results from an obstruction in a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain, the therapy poses significant challenges when administered alone, including a limited treatment window, Davis said.

“It has to be given within the first three to four and a half hours of the stroke,” Davis said. “It only works in 10 percent of the patients, and it causes bleeding, so tPA alone isn’t that effective.”

University of Florida: UF research: Patients at teaching hospitals don’t fare worse when trainee doctors come on board
September 19, 2012.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida physician and colleagues have “mythbusted” a notion long held in medical circles: patients at teaching hospitals fare worse in July when new medical graduates start their residency training and older residents take on more responsibilities. A large national study revealed no such “July phenomenon” or “July effect” — at least not in the field of neurosurgery.

The findings are published today in the journal Neurosurgery.

“If anything goes wrong in July, then everyone’s quick to say ‘Do you see? It’s because of the July effect’ — but we saw no evidence for that,’ said senior author Dr. Brian Hoh, the William Merz associate professor of neurological surgery at the UF College of Medicine. “This study will raise thoughts and ideas about how we can improve training for residents and improve safety for patients.”

University of Florida: Obesity higher in rural America than in urban parts of the country, UF researchers, colleagues find
September 14, 2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The occurrence of obesity in rural areas of the U.S. is significantly higher than in urban areas, a new study from University of Florida researchers and colleagues has found. Forty percent of rural residents are obese, compared with 33 percent of urban residents.

The study is the first to use body mass index, or BMI, classification based on researcher-measured height and weight to compare rates of obesity in rural and urban adults. Previous studies relied on participants’ self-reports of height and weight, which led to too-low estimates of obesity, the researchers say.

“I was surprised by the magnitude of the rural-urban difference — it was larger than expected and much larger than previously estimated,” said senior author Michael G. Perri, a professor and dean of the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Informatics approach helps doctors, patients make sense of genome data
by Mary Ruth
last modified Sep 20, 2012 11:14 AM

Chapel Hill, NC – The cost of sequencing the entire human genome, or exome – the regions of the genome that are translated into proteins that affect cell behavior – has decreased significantly, to the point where the cost of looking at the majority of a patient’s genomic data may be less expensive than undertaking one or two targeted genetic tests.

While efficient, the acquisition of this much genetic data – in some cases as many as 1.5 to 2 million variants – creates other challenges.

In a paper that appears today in the advance online edition of Genetics in Medicine, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill unveil an analysis framework aimed at helping clinicians spot “medically actionable findings” from genetic tests in an efficient manner.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Diseases of aging map to a few ‘hotspots’ on the human genome
by Mary Ruth
last modified Sep 19, 2012 11:34 AM

Chapel Hill, NC –Researchers have long known that individual diseases are associated with genes in specific locations of the genome.

Genetics researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now have shown definitively that a small number of places in the human genome are associated with a large number and variety of diseases.  In particular, several diseases of aging are associated with a locus which is more famous for its role in preventing cancer.

For this analysis, researchers at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center catalogued results from several hundred human Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) from the National Human Genome Research Institute.  These results provided an unbiased means to determine if varied different diseases mapped to common ‘hotspot’ regions of the human genome.  This analysis showed that two different genomic locations are associated with two major subcategories of human disease.

North Carolina State University: Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens Persist in Antibiotic-Free Pigs
September 17, 2012

Researchers from North Carolina State University have found identical strains of antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter Coli (C. coli) in both antibiotic-free (ABF) and conventionally raised pigs. This finding may indicate that these antibiotic-resistant pathogens can persist and thrive in the environment, regardless of antimicrobial usage by pork producers.

Dr. Siddhartha Thakur, assistant professor of population health and pathobiology, had previously found that antibiotic-resistant C. coli, a leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., was present in both ABF-certified and conventionally raised pigs. The pathogen was present in both groups in all facilities from breeding to processing. Thakur wanted to determine whether the C. coli that he found in each group was genetically the same, in order to see if the presence or absence of antimicrobial usage had an effect on the pathogen’s genetic makeup.

The rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens like C. coli is a concern for the food animal industry. Some pig farms have switched to raising ABF pigs in an attempt to get away from the conditions that facilitated antibiotic resistance in the first place. The hope is that once the selection pressure – in the form of antimicrobial use – on C. coli to retain antibiotic resistance decreases, the pathogen will lose its resistance.

Virginia Tech: Breast cancer risks acquired in pregnancy may pass all the way to great-granddaughters

NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, Sept. 19, 2012 – Chemicals or foods that raise estrogen levels during pregnancy may increase cancer risk in daughters, granddaughters, and even great-granddaughters, according to scientists from Virginia Tech and Georgetown University.

Pregnant rats on a diet supplemented with synthetic estrogen or with fat, which increases estrogen levels, produce ensuing generations of daughters that appear to be healthy, but harbor a greater-than-normal risk for mammary cancer, the researchers reported recently Nature Communications.

Although the findings have not yet been validated in humans, the study shows that environmental damage may be passed from one generation to the next not through genetic mutations, but through "epigenetic" alterations that influence how genomic information is decoded.

University of Wisconsin: UW team studies the mechanics of stronger bones
by Christie Taylor
Sept. 19, 2012

As human bones age, they undergo geometric changes and also lose minerals such as calcium that give them density and strength.

As a result, broken bones are one of the most common injuries in older people, and nearly 300,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for hip fractures alone. With fractures often come permanent losses in mobility.

"As we age, these are problems many of us face," says Associate Professor Heidi-Lynn Ploeg, director of the Bone and Joint Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Working with a team of five graduate students, Ploeg is studying the mechanics of the human skeleton, with the aim of improving bone health for everyone — from infants with congenital defects to trauma victims and the elderly.


University of Arizona: UA Climate Scientists put Predictions to the Test
A new study has found that climate-prediction models are good at predicting long-term climate patterns on a global scale but lose their edge when applied to time frames shorter than three decades and on sub-continental scales.
By Daniel Stolte, University Communications
September 17, 2012

Published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, the study is one of the first to systematically address a longstanding, fundamental question asked not only by climate scientists and weather forecasters, but the public as well: How good are Earth system models at predicting the surface air temperature trend at different geographical and time scales?

Xubin Zeng, a professor in the University of Arizona department of atmospheric sciences who leads a research group evaluating and developing climate models, said the goal of the study was to bridge the communities of climate scientists and weather forecasters, who sometimes disagree with respect to climate change.

According to Zeng, who directs the UA Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center, the weather forecasting community has demonstrated skill and progress in predicting the weather up to about two weeks into the future, whereas the track record has remained less clear in the climate science community tasked with identifying long-term trends for the global climate.

University of Wisconsin: Climate expert: Record loss of arctic ice could impact Wisconsin
by Steve Pomplun
Sept. 21, 2012

Ice covering the Arctic Ocean melted to the smallest areal extent ever recorded this year, falling to 1.3 million square miles at its lowest point on Sept. 16, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. That's less than half of the normal area covered by ice at summer's end.

"This is not only a record low, but it easily broke the previous record, set in 2007, by an area larger than Texas," says Steve Vavrus, a senior scientist in the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Each of the last six years has produced late-summer ice coverage far below all previous summers since accurate satellite measurements began in 1979."

Vavrus, an expert on the arctic climate, says the dramatic melting trend is due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warming the planet. He says natural variability may have accelerated the loss of ice in recent years, and he adds that the far north has physical characteristics that make it more sensitive to warming than other parts of the globe.


Australian Broadcasting Corporation: The Andes; formation and movement today

The Andes stretches more than 4,000 miles along the western edge of South America from the Caribbean to the tip at Tierra del Fuego. Susan Beck [of the University of Arizona] has been monitoring movement of the Andes since 1992 and has built a picture of how the mountains were formed and how they are moving today. Rocks beneath mountains change form, becoming fluid under the huge pressure. She describes the roots of mountains which over millions of years form and bud off, the material recycling beneath the surface. Along with the story of mountain formation goes the story of mineral deposits.


Arizona State University: How bees decide what to be
September 17, 2012

Scientists at Arizona State University, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and Johns Hopkins University report what is believed to be the first evidence that complex, reversible behavioral patterns in bees – and presumably other animals – are linked to reversible chemical tags on genes in the brain.

The scientists say what is most significant about the new study, described online in Nature Neuroscience, is that for the first time, DNA methylation “tagging” has been linked to something at the behavioral level of a whole organism. On top of that, they say, the behavior in question, and its corresponding molecular brain changes, are reversible, which has important implications for human health.

“Bees are famous models used in research related to the brain and behavior,” said Gro Amdam, associate professor at ASU’s School of Life Sciences, and Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences. “The molecular principles of bees help us understand the brain machineries of other animals.”

University of Colorado, Boulder: Consumers differ in desire for explanation, says new CU-Brown University study
September 18, 2012

The depth of explanation about novel products influences consumer preferences and willingness to pay, according to a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder and Brown University.

When it comes to descriptions about the functions of new and unusual goods -- such as a self-watering plant system, special gloves for touchscreens or an eraser for wall scratches -- some people prefer minimal details. Dubbed “explanation foes” in the study, they gain a strong sense of understanding and desire for products through shallow explanations.

In contrast, other people -- dubbed “explanation fiends” in the study -- derive desire for products from deep and detailed explanations.

Ohio State University: One in Three Victims of Teen Dating Violence Has Had More than One Abuser
September 18, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - More than one-third of young adults who reported being victims of dating violence as teenagers had two or more abusive partners, a new study suggests.

The study involved 271 college students who recalled dating violence - including physical, sexual and psychological abuse - from ages 13 to 19.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.

But it was surprising how many teen victims had two or more abusive partners, said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

Virginia Tech: Observations of real-life driving behavior enables researchers to recommend life-saving strategies

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 21, 2012 – People do about as much while driving their cars as they do while sitting in their living rooms – eating, reading, talking on the phone. Some of these activities qualify as risky behavior. Dial your phone while watching TV and you may miss a weather alert. Dial while driving and you may crash.

Research published in Ergonomics and Design reveals the crash risk of various activities based on observations of drivers in instrumented vehicles.  Even the researchers were amazed by the magnitude of the increase in risk. "Taking your eyes off the road to dial a cell phone or look up an address and send a text increases the risk of crashing by 600 to 2,300 percent," said Rich Hanowski, director of the Center for Truck and Bus Safety at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

The paper, "Estimating Crash Risk," by Tom Dingus, director of the transportation institute;  Hanowski,; and Charlie Klauer, research scientist at the transportation institute, has just received the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s 2012 Best Ergonomics in Design Article Award, to be presented at the society's annual meeting, Oct. 22-26, in Boston.

University of Wisconsin: Pacifiers may have emotional consequences for boys
by Chris Barncard
Sept. 18, 2012

Pacifiers may stunt the emotional development of baby boys by robbing them of the opportunity to try on facial expressions during infancy.

Three experiments by a team of researchers led by psychologists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison tie heavy pacifier use as a young child to poor results on various measures of emotional maturity.

The study, published today by the journal "Basic and Applied Social Psychology," is the first to associate pacifiers with psychological consequences. The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics already call for limiting pacifier use to promote breast-feeding and because of connections to ear infections or dental abnormalities.


BBC: Neanderthals used feathers as 'personal ornaments'
By Paul Rincon Science editor, BBC News website

Our evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals were harvesting feathers from birds in order to use them as personal ornaments, a study suggests.

The authors say the result provides yet more evidence that Neanderthal thinking ability was similar to our own.

The analysis even suggests they had a preference for dark feathers, which they selected from birds of prey and corvids - such as ravens and rooks.

Details of the research appear in Plos One journal.

N.Y. Times: Ceramic Fragments Point to Artistry in the Ice Age
Rebecca Farbstein

We know them best for their stone tools and intrepid mammoth hunting. But new discoveries in Croatia suggest that ice age humans made evocative ceramic art far more regularly than once believed.

Thirty-six fragments of fired clay, excavated in the Vela Spila cave on an island off the Adriatic coast, make up the second-largest collection found so far of the earliest human experiments with ceramic art. They are 15,000 to 17,500 years old — the first European evidence of ceramic art after the ice sheets stopped spreading.

The oldest and largest collection, made about 30,000 years ago and found in the Czech Republic, includes a famously corpulent nude figurine known as the Venus of Dolni Vestonice. Apart from that, little fired ceramic art remains from the time before the explosion of ceramic pot-making 10,000 years ago, after the ice sheets retreated and early humans settled down to farm.

That led paleontologists to believe that ceramic art was uncommon among the highly mobile people of the ice age. But Rebecca Farbstein, the University of Cambridge archaeologist who described the Croatian collection in a recent paper in the journal PLoS One, said the work was not so unusual after all.

Discovery News: Ancient Tooth Shows Oldest Sign of Dentistry
Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi

The filling was discovered by chance as Claudio Tuniz, Federico Bernardini and colleagues at the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste used a fossilized jaw bone to test new X-ray imaging equipment.

Found early last century embedded on the wall of a karstic cave near the village of Lonche, in what is now Slovenia, the bone most likely belonged a 24–30-year-old individual.
The analyses showed a filled vertical crack in the hard enamel and softer dentin layers of the tooth. Infrared spectroscopy identified the filling material as beeswax.

Radiocarbon dating then established that both the filling and the tooth were about 6,500 years old, suggesting that the treatment was done shortly before or after the individual's death.

Discovery News: First Ever Etruscan Pyramids Found in Italy
The pyramids were spotted by a series of ancient stairs that had been carved into the wall of what is now a wine cellar.
By Rossella Lorenzi

The first ever Etruscan pyramids have been located underneath a wine cellar in the city of Orvieto in central Italy, according to a team of U.S. and Italian archaeologists.

Carved into the rock of the tufa plateau --a sedimentary area that is a result of volcanic activity -- on which the city stands, the subterranean structures were largely filled. Only the top-most modern layer was visible.

"Within this upper section, which had been modified in modern times and was used as a wine cellar, we noticed a series of ancient stairs carved into the wall. They were clearly of Etruscan construction," David B. George of the Department of Classics at Saint Anselm, told Discovery News.

Agence France-Presse via Hurriyet Daily News: Serapeum of Saqqara reopens

CAIRO - Egypt on Sept. 20 reopened the Serapeum of Saqqara, a vast underground necropolis south of Cairo dedicated to the bulls of Apis, after 11 years and complete renovation of the historic pharaonic site.

The Serapeum, whose origin dates back to around 1400 BC, was discovered in 1851 by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, founder of the first department of Egyptian antiquities.

It was closed temporarily in 2001 because of water seepage and earth movements.

Agence France-Presse via Physorg: Tomb raiders spoil Philippine archaeological find
September 21, 2012

Philippine archaeologists said Friday they had discovered a thousand-year old cemetery of rock coffins in a rainforest, but that tomb-raiders had found it decades earlier and stolen precious artefacts.

The coffins are rectangular holes carved into a limestone hill, a burial method documented only in two other areas of eastern Asia, the leader of the National Museum's archaeological dig, Eusebio Dizon, told AFP.

Dizon said local officials informed the museum last year about the site, in a forest about 200 kilometres (125 miles) southeast of Manila.

"(But) treasure hunters had been there before, in the 1960s and the 1970s, and a little bit in the 1980s," Dizon said.

The Art Daily: Archaeologists discover funerary chamber more than a 1,000 years old in Michoacan

MICHOACAN.- The discovery of a funerary chamber of more than a 1,000 years old, in the Archaeological Zone of Tingambato Michoacan, with an unidentified character’s burial, accompanied by 19,000 green stone beads, shells and human bones, is one of the most outstanding results of a special archaeological investigation and conservation project by INAH in five different pre Hispanic sites in this zone.

According to the archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH-Conaculta), the architectural complexity of the mortuary chamber and the burial’s wealth (which belong to the Classic period [200 through 900 AD]) indicate that the remains belong to a high ranking character from the ancient metropolis of Tingambato.

The cultural particulars of the burial haven’t been identified yet, but it’s inferred that the chamber matches the funerary traditions of the West, such as shaft tombs and the tombs of El Opeño, although these we built during the Pre Classic period (300 through 200 BC) and continuing through the Classic period (400 through 600 AD).

The Daily Telegraph (UK): Archaeologists dig to find site of Battle of Bannockburn
Archaeologists launched a bid to uncover the site one of the most famous battles in Scottish history - in the grounds of a police headquarters.
2:07PM BST 18 Sep 2012

Archaeologists launched a bid to uncover the site one of the most famous battles in Scottish history -- in the grounds of a police headquarters.

Central Scotland Police's headquarters at Randolphfield, Stirling, is named after Sir Thomas Randolph, one of the commanders of Robert the Bruce's army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

The first major skirmish of the two-day battle occurred on Sunday 23 June when Randolph routed around 300 English cavalry, who were attempting to relieve Stirling Castle.

A pair of small standing stones near the entrance to the current police headquarters is believed to mark the site of the fighting, but until now there has been no other physical evidence.

Stirling Council archaeologist Murray Cook said ground-penetrating radar would be used to locate the Roman road on which King Edward II's army marched on Stirling and the famous spike-filled pits that played a crucial role in the outcome.

Ottawa Citizen (Canada): Canadian family holds key to mystery of a missing king
King Richard III died in 1485, with his burial spot long lost to history. But DNA taken from a family believed to be related may solve the riddle, writes randy Boswell
By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News September 3, 2012

DNA with Richard III, is photographed taking a mouth-swab sample at the dig site in Leicester.

British archeologists have unearthed "tantalizing clues" in their search for the bones of King Richard III, a quest made possible by the recent discovery that a Canadian family shares the 15thcentury monarch's maternal bloodline.

The excavation in the English city of Leicester, which began last week at a site thought to be the location of the medieval Greyfriars religious order where Richard III was buried, has attracted international attention because the precise whereabouts of the king's gravesite has been a mystery for more than 500 years.

The Guardian (UK): Should Richard III - the last Yorkist king - be reburied in Yorkshire?

If the skeleton with a curved spine found beneath a Leicester car park is Richard III, where should he be buried? Martin Hickes reports on one group of enthusiasts with a very definite view

Doubt still remains as to whether the remains of a body found beneath a Leicester car park are those of the Plantagenet king Richard III, but debate is already beginning as to whether the last Yorkist monarch should be brought 'home'.

Mitochondrial DNA tests are about to be carried out on the skeleton, unearthed by a team from Leicester University and the Richard III Society. If the remains prove to be those of the long lost monarch, the next question will be: what to do with them?

Twitterers are already suggesting that the body should be given a State funeral. But where?

Two major organisations which have exhaustively researched and promoted the 'true' name and history of Richard, which they assert is at odds with the traditional Shakespearean 'evil hunchback' depiction, are expecting much debate at their forthcoming conferences.

Hawaii Reporter: Human Bone Fragment Found Along Honolulu Rail Route

Archeologists surveying the planned route of Honolulu’s rapid transit line discovered a single human bone fragment yesterday afternoon near Cooke Street in Kakaako.

Representatives of the State Historic Preservation Division and the Oahu Island Burial Council “were contacted on September 12 and did a site visit on the morning of September 13,” said Deborah Ward of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“SHPD and the OIBC have agreed to leave the bone fragment in place for the time being, and have asked the archaeological firm to continue excavating the surrounding area,” Ward said. Government of Canada's Search for Lost Franklin Ships Delivers Numerous Collateral Results
Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today gave an update on this summer's Arctic archaeological survey led by Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeology Service to find the ill-fated 1845-1846 Franklin Expedition vessels: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

"The search for the lost Franklin vessels continues, but I can unequivocally say that this year's survey was by far our most successful one to date," said Minister Kent. "I would like to congratulate all our amazing partners who were part of this Canadian-led research team. They reached new heights with this project, and I look forward to seeing what new possibilities open up in time for next year's continued search."

This year, the search team ruled out more than 400 square kilometres in Canada's vast Arctic waters, almost tripling the coverage of past field seasons and further narrowing the search for the elusive wrecks of the Franklin Expedition. With almost four weeks spent in the Arctic, the team employed a multitude of scientific data that will also greatly benefit Canada's understanding and knowledge of the Arctic. Working from both the research vessel, Martin Bergmann, supplied by the Arctic Research Foundation, and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the survey time was significantly extended compared to previous years.

The Florida Times-Union: Old cemetery inspires Brunswick's city manager to investigate
By Mike Morrison
Posted: September 22, 2012 - 8:33pm

BRUNSWICK | City Manager Bill Weeks will dust off his archaeological skills as he takes on the excavation of a Colonial-era cemetery recently discovered on the grounds of the old Glynn Middle School.

The city had contemplated hiring an archaeology firm to handle the work before Weeks, who describes archaeology as his avocation, offered his services.

Lexington Herald-Leader: Tom Eblen: Archaeologist in search of 'messy' history at Fort Boonesborough
By Tom Eblen — Herald-Leader columnist

When I read in June that a University of Kentucky archaeologist was doing the first major exploration of Fort Boonesborough in 25 years, I had to know what she found.

Nancy O'Malley wasn't just looking for 18th century artifacts, although she found some: a hoe, a skillet, buttons, buckles, bullets, hand-wrought nails, forks, bits of English ceramic and a blue glass trade bead.

O'Malley, an expert on Kentucky pioneer settlements who first confirmed Fort Boonesborough's location in 1987, was trying to figure out exactly how much of the fort still exists. She was specifically searching for evidence of the most famous event that occurred there: a nine-day siege 234 years ago this week in which Daniel Boone and a small group of pioneers repelled an attack by several hundred Native Americans.

"This siege is just completely out of the ordinary in terms of what was happening in Kentucky during the Revolutionary War," O'Malley said. "On the face of it, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense — some of the things that happened and, more to the point, some of the things that didn't happen."

The Key West Citizen: Archaeologists search reefs for clues
Mystery ship could be century-old Hannah M. Bell

A group of volunteer divers converged on the Florida Keys this week to help unlock an underwater mystery off Key Largo dating back possibly to the early 1900s.

The National Association of Black Scuba Divers is working with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to identify a shipwreck on a reef known as the Elbow.

Underwater surveys and research conducted this week will build upon previous studies and bring maritime archaeologists a step closer to naming the wreck, sanctuary official said.

The remains of the steel-hulled ship rest in 25 feet of water six miles off Key Largo. The find has been dubbed locally as "Mike's Wreck," named after the employee of a local dive operator.

Maritime archaeologists speculate the mystery shipwreck could be the Hannah M. Bell, a British steamship that grounded on the reef in April 1911, but they need to conduct additional surveys and research to be sure.

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


University of Colorado, Boulder: CU mathematicians show how shallow waves may help explain tsunami power
September 18, 2012

While wave watching is a favorite pastime of beachgoers, few notice what is happening in the shallowest water. A closer look by two University of Colorado Boulder applied mathematicians has led to the discovery of interacting X- and Y-shaped ocean waves that may help explain why some tsunamis are able to wreak so much havoc.

Professor Mark Ablowitz and doctoral student Douglas Baldwin repeatedly observed such wave interactions in ankle-deep water at both Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, and Venice Beach, Calif., in the Pacific Ocean -- interactions that were thought to be very rare but which actually happen every day near low tide. There they saw single, straight waves interacting with each other to form X- and Y-shaped waves as well as more complex wave structures, all predicted by mathematical equations, said Ablowitz.

When most ocean waves collide, the “interaction height” is the sum of the incoming wave heights, said Baldwin.  “But the wave heights that we saw from such interactions were much taller, indicating that they are what we call nonlinear,” he said.

University of Florida: Experiment in University of Florida laboratory corrects prediction in quantum theory
September 19, 2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An international team of scientists is rewriting a page from the quantum physics rulebook using a University of Florida laboratory once dubbed the coldest spot in the universe.

Much of what we know about quantum mechanics is theoretical and tested via computer modeling because quantum systems, like electrons whizzing around the nucleus of an atom, are difficult to pin down for observation. One can, however, slow particles down and catch them in the quantum act by subjecting them to extremely cold temperatures. New research, published in the Sept. 20 edition of the journal Nature, describes how this freeze-frame approach was recently used to overturn an accepted rule of thumb in quantum theory.

“We are in the age of quantum mechanics,” said Neil Sullivan, a UF physics professor and director of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory High B/T Facility on the UF campus — home of the Microkelvin lab where experiments can be conducted in near-absolute zero temperatures. “If you’ve had an MRI, you have made use of a quantum technology.”


Purdue University: Scientists uncover last steps for benzoic acid creation in plants
September 18, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University scientists have mapped the entire pathway plants use to create benzoic acid, a precursor to a number of important compounds.

Natalia Dudareva, Distinguished Professor of Horticulture, said plants use benzoic acid to create defensive compounds and growth regulators, and to attract pollinators. Drugs, such as the anticancer medication Taxol, also require benzoic acid for formation. The plants make benzoic acid by modifying the chemical structure of cinnamic acid the same way many organisms break down fatty acids.

"There's a lot of potential. It opens the door to allow scientists to engineer plants for increased benzoic acid production," said Purdue postdoctoral researcher Joshua Widhalm, one of the authors of the findings. "If you want to modify the amount of compounds that attract pollinators, or improve plant defense, it would be important to understand this pathway."

University of Massachusetts, Amherst: UMass Amherst Researchers Solve Long-Standing Mystery of How Cellulose Chains Break Down
September 17, 2012

AMHERST, Mass. – One would think that scientists had long ago cracked the secret of cellulose, the most abundant polymer on Earth, in order to break its chemical bonds and harness its wealth of energy. But in fact, only recently have theoretical chemist Scott Auerbach and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst discovered how cellulose chains break down with heat, which is critical information for efficiently converting cellulose to biofuels.

Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Auerbach and chemical engineer Paul Dauenhauer, with others, for the first time model at the molecular level the activation energies needed for the chemical reaction known as “fast pyrolysis” to proceed in cellulose. The model meets the tight strictures of chemical accuracy, within 5 kilojoules per mole of cellulose. “We’re quite sure that experiments testing our model will confirm it,” says Auerbach.

A basic building block of plants, cellulose is a naturally occurring crystalline polymer carbohydrate that can take many forms but is usually rigid, like uncooked spaghetti. Researchers have tried for years to convert the abundant, cheap material to biofuels and valuable chemicals, using heat to break or “depolymerize” the chemical bonds to yield a vapor, the necessary precursor to biofuels. But the process has been unpredictable, with different outcomes derived from different heating protocols.


Purdue University: Purdue gets $5.2 million to develop new biofuel process
September 19, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - If Purdue University researchers have their way, the term "biofuel plant" will take on a whole new meaning.

A team received a $5.2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop a plant that can make substances that could be used directly as a biofuel. The idea is to reroute carbon that plants currently use to make lignin - a barrier to cellulosic ethanol production - and turn it into a biofuel.

"Scientists have been focused on getting the sugars out of cell walls and using microorganisms to ferment those sugars into fuel," said Clint Chapple, the grant's principal investigator and a distinguished professor of biochemistry. "We want to take advantage of a plant's metabolic pathways to make biofuel directly."

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

University of Arizona: UA Professor Co-Creates Tool to Measure Economic Development Success
Gary Pivo, a UA professor of planning, has helped create an online tool to measure the economic, environmental and social success of economic development projects.
By Alexis Blue, University Communications
September 21, 2012

Traditionally, the success of an economic development project has been measured first and foremost by the number of jobs it creates or how much capital investment it attracts, said Gary Pivo, professor of planning in the UA’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

The Triple Bottom Line Tool looks at a variety of other factors, in addition to capital investment and job creation, to indicate how successful a project might be.

“It broadens the conversation about how to define good economic development,” Pivo said.

University of Arizona: UA Study Looks at Use of Social Media in Public Diplomacy
School of Journalism
September 17, 2012

The use of social media for the purpose of public diplomacy has increasingly drawn the attention of U.S. diplomacy professionals, observers and political analysts especially after the recent attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya that were triggered by outrage over an anti-Islamic video released on Sept. 11. As more riots are planned in neighboring countries, including Algeria and Yemen, U.S. embassies have used Twitter posts to save face and play defense.

Shahira Fahmy, an associate professor in the University of Arizona School of Journalism, and a colleague from the University of Texas examined foreign public diplomacy specialists’ adoption of social media such as Twitter for public diplomacy purposes. Using a survey of foreign embassies and consulates, their study explored whether effort and performance expectancy, social influence and attitudes, facilitating conditions and perceived credibility might have influenced the adoption of social media in public diplomacy practice.

“The U.S. government and foreign policy analysts have shown great interest and enthusiasm in exploring how to increase the efficiency of using social media for more effective public diplomacy. However, studies on the issue have been rare. By the time my colleague and I initiated this research in 2009, a search in the scholarly database ProQuest with key words ‘diplomacy’ and ‘social media’ or any type of the social media such as ‘blog,’ ‘YouTube,’ ‘Twitter,’ or ‘Wikipedia’ generated no results,” Fahmy said.

Arizona State University: Mayors to discuss sustainability challenges facing cities
Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix leaders asked to share their vision for sustainable future
September 17, 2012

What are Arizona’s desert cities doing to become more livable – more sustainable – in planning for transportation, housing, energy, water usage and population growth?

The mayors of three of Arizona’s largest cities – Mesa, Phoenix and Tempe – will address sustainability challenges and opportunities for their cities during a panel discussion from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 25, at the Mesa Arts Center. They will be asked to describe their city’s unique challenges and explain their vision for a sustainable future.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. RSVPs are requested and may be made online.

Indiana University: Indiana University study: Support for carbon capture is extensive but not strong
Sept. 18, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A solid majority of Indiana residents think it's a good idea to address concerns about climate change by capturing carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants and storing it underground, according to a recently published study by Indiana University researchers.

But most Hoosiers didn't know about the approach, called carbon capture and storage, before being contacted for the study. And even after learning about it, a majority didn't have strong feelings pro or con -- suggesting they will be open to persuasion by supporters and opponents of the technology.

Respondents were more likely to support carbon capture and storage if they believe that human activities contribute to climate change, support increased use of renewable energy or have an "egalitarian" worldview. Respondents who called themselves political conservatives were more likely to oppose carbon capture and storage.

University of Virginia: Virginia Introduces Statewide Innovation Partnership with U.S. Department of Commerce
September 19, 2012

The University of Virginia will participate in a new statewide network designed to accelerate innovation and economic growth.

One of only seven multi-institution initiatives to win federal funding as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s i6 Challenge in 2012, the Virginia Innovation Partnership will bring together universities, community colleges, corporations, investment capital and other resources to drive promising research discoveries forward.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership is unique in the U.S. because it creates a network that links talent, ideas and capital together across an entire state. The approach is designed to be scalable to other states, thus providing the foundation for the resurgence of real value creation in America that creates jobs and economic growth. If successful, this new partnership could mark a watershed moment for the turnaround of the U.S. economy, returning the nation to its roots and re-claiming global leadership in invention and entrepreneurship.

“It’s critically important to translate the breakthrough research advances happening in academic institutions to society,” U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “We are pleased to lead this unique effort, which leverages the strengths of many partners throughout the commonwealth to identify and support solutions that will improve our economy and our quality of life.”

Science Education

Arizona State University: ASU robotics team makes a splash
September 17, 2012

The NASA Space Grant Robotics team at Arizona State University sent 10 team members to Orlando, Fla. in June to compete in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) international robotics competition.

Armed with Koi, a robot capable of functioning 30 feet underwater, the ASU team challenged 22 teams from across the country and across the globe, ranking 11th overall.
The MATE competition, which ASU has competed in since 2009, focuses on ocean-related occupations and real-world industry problems. Each team is judged on their ability to “sell” a design that could solve a real-world crisis or fill an exploratory need.

Purdue University: 'Research powerhouses' join forces in new multistate venture

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Faculty from Michigan State University, Ohio State University and Purdue University gathered earlier this month in a new effort to strengthen both research and Extension outreach in food safety issues.

"These are all exceptional agriculture institutions in their own right, but when you combine them you suddenly have a phenomenal research and Extension powerhouse," said John Baker, associate director of MSU AgBioResearch. "We're striving to stimulate and develop our regional efforts by honing in on the synergy across these three universities."

The Food Safety Midwest Workshop last week in Fort Wayne, Ind., was the first such gathering of the new Tri-State Research/Extension Funding Program (TSREFP), aimed at bringing together the strengths of each university to maximize opportunities to secure grants from external agencies. Another benefit is providing important educational and Extension outreach programs to stakeholders. Besides food safety, six other focus areas are part of the new venture: bioenergy and bioproducts, local foods, water quality, nutrient and waste management, animal welfare, and commercial agriculture and farm management.

North Carolina State University: Money Key Factor in Driving Med Students From Primary Care Careers
Release Date: 09.21.2012

Primary care physicians are at the heart of health care in the United States, and are often the first to diagnose patients and ensure those patients receive the care they need. But researchers from North Carolina State University, East Carolina University (ECU) and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York have found that many students are choosing to pass up a career in primary care because those physicians make substantially less money than specialists, such as dermatologists or radiologists.

“We found that students who placed a premium on high income and students who anticipated having a lot of student debt were significantly more likely to pursue a high-paying medical specialty rather than become primary care physicians,” says Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, a professor of psychology at N.C. State and co-author of a paper describing the research. “This held true even for students who entered medical school with the goal of becoming primary care physicians – they often switched to high-paying specialties before graduating.”

The study, published online this week in Medical Education, surveyed more than 2,500 medical students attending New York Medical College and the Brody School of Medicine at ECU between 1993 and 2012. Students were surveyed at the beginning of their first year of medical school and just before graduation four years later. The survey asked the students what sort of medical career they planned to pursue, to estimate their final student loans and to rate the value they place on income.

Science Writing and Reporting

University of Massachusetts, Amherst: UMass Amherst Fish Ecologist's Film 'Fish Meat' Will Show at Prestigious Blue Ocean Film Festival
September 20, 2012

AMHERST, Mass. – The prestigious Blue Ocean Film Festival will screen the documentary film, “Fish Meat: Choose Your Farm Wisely,” by eco-filmmaker Ted Caplow and featuring University of Massachusetts Amherst fish ecologist Andy Danylchuk, on Sept. 26 in Monterey, Calif.

Festival organizers say it honors the world’s finest ocean films through best-in-class film competition, promotes dialogue between filmmakers and scientists to inspire great films, connects ocean filmmakers with the latest technology, financing and distribution resources and engages the public internationally by sharing the “world’s greatest collection of ocean films.”

Danylchuk says he and his partners are thrilled by the Blue Ocean festival’s decision to screen the 30-minute documentary, which illustrates, sometimes quite graphically, the pros and cons of modern aquaculture in the context of declining global wild fish stocks to help consumers think more holistically about where our seafood comes from.

University of Virginia: Research To Sift Social Media for Early Signs of Adverse Drug Reactions
H. Brevy Cannon
September 20, 2012

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $130,000 grant to a team co-led by University of Virginia professor Ahmed Abbasi to fund research that will analyze social media, including tweets and online discussion forums, to identify adverse drug reactions – a process that promises to be much faster and perhaps also more accurate than the existing methods of identifying such reactions.

Using state-of-the-art data analysis tools, Abbasi, a professor of information technology at U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce, and four collaborators at West Virginia University will explore how tens of thousands of pharmaceutical-related comments shared on Web forums, blogs and other social media can be harnessed as an early-warning signal of adverse drug reactions.

Currently, once drugs come to market, the FDA relies upon consumers to report adverse side-effects through physicians and other official reporting channels.

Science is Cool

Purdue University: New tool gives structural strength to 3-D printed works
September 18, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Objects created using 3-D printing have a common flaw: They are fragile and often fall apart or lose their shape.

"I have an entire zoo of broken 3-D printed objects in my office," said Bedrich Benes, an associate professor of computer graphics at Purdue University.

The printed fabrications often fail at points of high stress.

"You can go online, create something using a 3-D printer and pay $300, only to find that it isn't strong enough to survive shipping and arrives in more than one piece," said Radomir Mech, senior research manager from Adobe's Advanced Technology Labs.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech and Astro Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar: Election and Economy (24+ / 0-)

    University of Arizona: Key Undecided, Independent Voters Seek Different Tone for Campaign
    Most American voters have lost confidence in the ability of elected officials to solve the problems facing the U.S., finds a new survey commissioned by the National Institute for Civil Discourse.National Institute for Civil Discourse
    September 14, 2012

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – A survey commissioned by the National Institute for Civil Discourse, headquartered at the University of Arizona, indicates that a majority of American voters have lost confidence in the ability of elected leaders to solve the problems facing our country. In fact, fewer than one in 10 American voters has “a great deal” of confidence in elected officials to solve the problems of our country – while twice as many say they have no confidence at all.

    “We’ve known for some time how dissatisfied the electorate has become with Congress,” said Carolyn Lukensmeyer, the institute’s executive director. “This is the strongest indication we’ve seen that voters think our Congressional leaders are incapable of solving problems.”

    Survey respondents identified several underlying causes for the problem-solving paralysis. Most often cited (90 percent) was politicians’ unwillingness to cross party lines, while 83 percent cited the lack of respectful dialogue as an obstacle to solving problems.

    Northern Arizona University: Statewide forum sets stage for civil discourse on ballot initiatives
    September 18, 2012

    Arizona voters from all political affiliations are invited to participate in a public forum simulcast around the state that is designed to bring together people with varying opinions to engage in civil dialogue about three upcoming ballot initiatives.

    The event, called “Mapping Arizona’s Future,” is being hosted locally by Northern Arizona University’s Philosophy in the Public Interest and Coconino Community College, in collaboration with the non-partisan organization Project Civil Discourse.

    “Being able to discuss matters—even potentially controversial ones—with respect and civility allows for better problem-solving and ultimately higher-leveled thinking,” said Leah Bornstein, president of Coconino Community College.

    University of Florida: Negative political ads pack punch with voters who trust politicians, UF study shows
    September 18, 2012

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Contrary to conventional wisdom, negative political advertisements don’t always work as well as some believe. In part, this is because the audience with which they seem to work best — people who think government works — has been shrinking.

    In a study presented in September to the American Political Science Association, University of Florida political science professor Stephen Craig and Paulina S. Rippere, a UF doctoral student and faculty member at Flagler College, examined the effect of negative ads on voters with varying levels of trust and confidence in their political leaders. The findings suggest that political trust and political knowledge can play a role in shaping citizens’ reactions to negative campaign appeals.

    In a controlled experiment, 278 undergraduates were presented with campaign ads attacking two fictional incumbents who were said to be seeking re-election to a third term in the U.S. House. The candidates’ party affiliations were rotated — sometimes the incumbent was a Democrat, other times a Republican — during the course of the experiment, and subjects read one negative “direct mail” attack in each of the two races.

    Ohio State University: Your Body Doesn’t Lie: People Ignore Political Ads of Candidates They Oppose
    September 17, 2012

    COLUMBUS, Ohio - A recent study examined people’s bodily responses while watching presidential campaign ads - and discovered another way that people avoid political information that challenges their beliefs.

    In the last days of the 2008 campaign, researchers had people watch a variety of actual ads for Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama while the viewers’ heart rates, skin conductance and activation of facial muscles were monitored.

    The results showed that partisan participants reacted strongly to ads featuring their favored candidate, but barely responded to ads featuring the rival candidate.

    In comparison, people who didn’t favor one candidate over the other showed similar physiological response patterns and intensity to ads for both Obama and McCain.

    Inside Tucson Business: Tucson startup is ‘matchmaker’ for shippers
    By Patrick McNamara
    Posted on September 21, 2012

    Each year in the United States, nearly 20 billion tons of freight moves across the country on rail, through pipelines, across waterways, by air and over roads.

    Trucks carry the overwhelming majority of that freight, nearly 12 billion tons of it. And yet, with millions of trucks coursing through the nation’s highways and byways, many travel empty en route to home bases or between loads.

    A Tucson startup is looking to end that inefficiency and with some luck, make a profit in the process.

    University of Colorado, Boulder: Job postings for CU-Boulder grads up 28 percent compared with pre-recession numbers
    September 20, 2012

    Demand for University of Colorado Boulder graduates continues to grow, with the number of companies posting full-time jobs on the CU-Boulder campus jumping 28 percent in the 2011-12 school year, compared with pre-recession numbers in 2006.

    The number of postings for part-time jobs also jumped, increasing 37 percent, while the number of internships for CU students increased by 50 percent.

    “While it may be surprising to many people, we’ve continued to see growth in our job postings throughout the recession,” said Lisa Severy, director of CU-Boulder’s Career Services office.

    A number of factors have contributed to the healthy increase, according to Severy.

    Science Saturday is open for business fun!

    "The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead." ~ Paul Krugman.

    by Neon Vincent on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:06:31 PM PDT

  •  "Fellow Prisoners Of The Splendour And Travail" (16+ / 0-)
    "The science of life is a superb and dazzlingly lighted hall which may be reached only by passing through a long and ghastly kitchen."

    -Claude Bernard, Introduction à l'Étude de la Médecine Expérimentale (1865)

    As an undergrad, I was a research assistant in a lab involved in animal research. The area of research used rats to test the health effects of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), which was widely used as coolants and insulating fluids before being recognized as toxic and a pollutant.

    Everyone that worked in that lab underwent animal training. Everyone involved in the research was professional, and did their best to follow protocols & treat the animals the best we could. The research itself was important & a worthy scientific endeavor. And I support animal research when there's no alternative. Anyone that's benefited from modern medicine would be a hypocrite if they didn't, since almost every medical achievement in the 20th century relied on the use of animals in some way.

    And yet... I still remember the first time I witnessed the rats being put to sleep, and then had to perform dissection to remove organs. I still remember the first time I was shown how to remove the head of one of those rats (in order to remove the brain), pull out the liver, and weigh, catalog, and analyze the different pieces. And I still remember how when I left the lab after that first time, how conflicted I felt. I understood (and still believe) that it was good science with a purpose, but there was also a part of me that was disgusted & wished there was another way.

    For some animals, as technology and scientific understanding has marched along, another way seems to have been found.

    According to the Washington Post, the National Institutes of Health signaled this week that medical research using chimpanzees is nearing its end.

    In a move that signals that the United States is further backing away from medical research with chimpanzees, the National Institutes of Health will retire 110 of its 563 research chimpanzees over the next year, the institutes’ director, Francis S. Collins, said Friday.

    All of the chimps will be moved from a controversial research facility in Louisiana, the New Iberia Research Center, and made permanently ineligible for future research.

    “This is a significant step in winding down NIH’s investment in chimpanzee research based on the way science has evolved and our great sensitivity to the special nature of these remarkable animals, our closest relatives,” Collins said in a telephone interview.

    However, the arguments over animal testing are likely to remain around for a while. For example, over the past few weeks, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been defending itself after PETA released pictures from one of the school's research labs showing cats with implants surgically attached to their heads.

    UW-Madison released a statement saying that the research in question involves hearing, specifically research to improve the cochlear implants for the deaf.

    The research develops a better understanding of how the brain combines information from the two ears, including sound localization. Cats are used because of their extraordinary talents at localizing sounds. Feral cats likely do most of their hunting at night because that is when their rodent prey is most active. Because vision at night is limited, hearing is the primary sensory cue for the cat to localize its prey. The cat auditory system is very similar to that of humans, making it relevant to clinical studies of humans with bilateral cochlear implants.

    The images from the UW-Madison lab were taken to document a surgical technique for bilateral and unilateral cochlear implants. The surgery depicted in the images mirrors the procedures done in human patients receiving cochlear implants, and is done according to the same standards of care and minimizing discomfort that occurs when humans undergo the surgery. The implant shown on the cat is essentially a cochlear implant engineered in a way so that it remains in place.

    UW-Madison takes its responsibility for the humane use of animals in research with the utmost seriousness. Alternatives are used whenever possible and all research is subject to strict regulations governing animal care and comfort. Every effort is made to meet both the letter and spirit of those rules.

    •  You were prepared for tonight (9+ / 0-)

      And you even managed to continue the theme of University of Wisconsin stories I had in the diary.

      As for the rats, I once recall a friend in college with a morbid sense of humor putting a notice on a cage of mice reading "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow your brains go in the blender."  At the time, it was funny.  In retrospect, it was pretty tasteless.

      "The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead." ~ Paul Krugman.

      by Neon Vincent on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:40:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  human experimentation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Vincent, hazey

      Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments

      Office of Scientific Intelligence

      Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science Technology

      Richelson, Jeffrey T. Science, Technology and the CIA. National Security Archive, George Washington University.

      The following documents were obtained as part of the research for The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology through Freedom of Information Act requests, research in the National Archives, or provided by the CIA. They are grouped into four categories:

          Growing Involvement: 1947-1962
          Deputy Directorate for Research: 1962-1963
          S&T and the Cold War: 1963-1991
          After the Cold War: 1991-2001

          Sources and further reading
          List of Documents

      Mitt Romney manipulated one of two years of tax returns and then only to ‘conform’ with his public statements. What else in those returns has Romney manipulated? ~ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

      by anyname on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 03:49:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  human subject research (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neon Vincent

        human subject research

        In October 2005 the General Conference of UNESCO adopted by acclamation the Universal Declaration of Biothics and Human Rights.

        Ted Kennedy and Bioethics
        Bioethics and the Law


        Among the many contributions of Senator Edward Kennedy that have been noted since his death on August 25, his role in the origins and growth of bioethics deserves mention. Senator Kennedy was one of the founding figures of bioethics. Those of us who call ourselves bioethicists, or those who work in this field, should be aware of his contributions to its origins.

        In February and March, 1973, he presided over hearings of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee that examined a range of problems that today constitute the agenda of bioethics. Senator Kennedy opened those hearings with these words:

        “Scientists may stand on the threshold of being able to recreate man…Under what conditions should genetic manipulations of our population be allowed or neurological and pharmacological modification of behavior permitted? What constitutes death? Who should have access to life-saving equipment in short supply? Should society expose some to harm for the benefit of others?”

        Mitt Romney manipulated one of two years of tax returns and then only to ‘conform’ with his public statements. What else in those returns has Romney manipulated? ~ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

        by anyname on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 03:57:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Church Committee (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Neon Vincent

          The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) in 1975.

          A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.

          The Church Committee's reports have been said to constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public.

          Human Experimentation in the United States

          Mitt Romney manipulated one of two years of tax returns and then only to ‘conform’ with his public statements. What else in those returns has Romney manipulated? ~ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

          by anyname on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 04:19:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Group Theory and Rubic's Cube (12+ / 0-)

    First of a few on the Cube...

  •  Thank you!!! (12+ / 0-)

    Best wishes to all here!

    It is really cool here in the Thumb of Michigan.  It is 41, now, maybe going down to 37 and tomorrow night, 36.

    Hubby is hoping we can stay away from a frost a bit longer as he has autumn raspberries ripening.

    He has picked the pumpkins and like so many others has just a few compared to other years.  Enough for the grandbabies, of course, and each family gets a big white one as well as the usual orange kind.  

    The small pumpkin variety that he used to make pumpkin seeds to eat fizzled completely.  None came up out of a whole packet.

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:27:14 PM PDT

  •  Thanks NV and annette (12+ / 0-)

    Saturday wouldn't be the same without your OND

  •  Thanks neon. (8+ / 0-)

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:39:15 PM PDT

  •  Thank you NV. I look forward (8+ / 0-)

    to reading your editorial choices. I am currently involved with a celebration of the 2012 NL Champs SF GIANTS. We will probably celebrate for a while longer.

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:48:46 PM PDT

  •  Rural obesity (6+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure that this is a factor, but my father's family are farmers. The diet is heavy on dairy fat and animal fat. It used to be that all that energy was needed to do farm work, but as it has become increasingly automated since the 1960s, those calories aren't burnt off anymore by work. The whole farm diet needed to change for my extended family members. It did, but I wonder if many other rural families it has not.

  •  Asteroid Vesta (6+ / 0-)

    I wonder if Vesta will have commercial mining potential then for its hydrogen resources? I can foresee a rocket refueling station on or orbiting Vesta in the future.

  •  DNA clock (5+ / 0-)

    From the article:

    The concept of a DNA clock is simple: the number of DNA letter differences between the sequences of two species indicates how much time has elapsed since their last common ancestor was alive. But for estimates to be correct, geneticists need one crucial piece of information: the pace at which DNA letters change.

    Geneticists have previously estimated mutation rates by comparing the human genome with the sequences of other primates. On the basis of species-divergence dates gleaned — ironically — from fossil evidence, they concluded that in human DNA, each letter mutates once every billion years. “It’s a suspiciously round number,” says Linda Vigilant, a molecular anthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. The suspicion turned out to be justified.

    In the past few years, geneticists have been able to watch the molecular clock in action, by sequencing whole genomes from dozens of families and comparing mutations in parents and children. These studies show that the clock ticks at perhaps half the rate of previous estimates, says Scally.

    In a review published on 11 September, Scally and his colleague Richard Durbin used the slower rates to reevaluate the timing of key splits in human evolution. “If the mutation rate is halved, then all the dates you estimate double,” says Scally. “That seems like quite a radical change.” Yet the latest molecular dates mesh much better with key archaeological dates.

    I wonder could the mutation rate be used to predict or speculate on which way humanity could likely mutate in the future?
  •  To bee or not to bee (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Vincent, JML9999, basquebob, hazey

    From the ASU bee story's conclusion:

    The researchers say they hope their results begin to shed light on complex behavioral issues in humans, such as learning, memory, stress response and mood disorders, which all involve interactions between genetic and epigenetic components similar to those in the study. A person’s underlying genetic sequence is acted upon by epigenetic tags, which may be affected by external cues to change in ways that create stable – but reversible – behavioral patterns.

    Genetics to explain predisposition or aptitude to certain tasks seem plausible, but undoes the "nurture, not nature" meme I learned growing up.
  •  I'm a PC (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Vincent, JML9999, basquebob, hazey
    Crispin, Porter, Bogusky
    I'm a PC

    "I'm a PC" is the title for a television advertising campaign created for Microsoft by ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CPB).

    Mitt Romney manipulated one of two years of tax returns and then only to ‘conform’ with his public statements. What else in those returns has Romney manipulated? ~ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

    by anyname on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 10:23:36 PM PDT

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