Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, ScottyUrb, and BentLiberal, guest editor 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 October 27th, the presidential swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia, while the states with competitive races for the U.S. Senate are Arizona, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, and Virginia. Since my previous report two weeks ago, Wisconsin has moved out with an 80+% chance of an Obama victory. Also, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, and Virginia have been removed from the competitive senate category because one of the candidates has more than an 80% chance of being elected. The bad news is that Heidi Heitkamp now has less than a 20% probability of winning North Dakota. The good news is that the Democratic candidates are leading in all the rest.
Tonight's edition highlights the science, space, environment, health, and energy stories from universities in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia.
This week's featured story comes from Scientific American.
What You Need to Know About Hurricane Sandy to Get Ready
By David Biello
October 26, 2012
Take a hurricane moving up from the south. Mash in a colder storm moving in from the west. Add a ridge of high pressure extending through the atmosphere above the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and Greenland, blocking the typical flow of the jet stream. That’s the recipe for what will become “Post-Tropical Storm Sandy” or, as it has more colloquially been dubbed: “Frankenstorm.”For how one campus on the campaign trail is preparing for the storm, read Virginia Tech prepares for Hurricane Sandy. For a more extreme reaction, UNH Closes Oct. 29 and 30 in Anticipation of Hurricane Sandy.
The result of all that atmospheric blocking is that instead of turning away from land and heading out into the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, this particular storm is going to be pushed ashore somewhere between Delaware and Long Island, New York. At the same time, it will be merging with the cold air coming in from the west—and that means Sandy will be the unusual hurricane that ends up producing snow in its western reaches.
And what a reach. Sandy’s swirling circulation and high winds will reach from Ohio and the Great Lakes region all the way to the New England Coast and down into the Carolinas.
More stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Interactive map of Sandy...
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This week in science
KAJ-TV18: Looted pottery found in MT in multi-state artifact smuggling crackdown
by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Posted: Oct 25, 2012 2:42 PM
Updated: Oct 25, 2012 3:15 PM
KALISPELL- Twenty-six pieces of ancient Mexican pottery has been recovered in Bigfork as part of a crackdown on smuggling involving more than 4,000 artifacts in several states.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents announced the seizures Thursday morning. ICE agents tell us the 26 objects have a total value of: $3,245, who add the items were found in Big Fork, and that the gallery assisted ICE with the investigation. No charges were filed.
ICE reports the pre-Columbian artifacts were recovered in 11-separate investigations by Homeland Security agents in Douglas, Arizona; San Diego; Chicago, three cities in Texas, and Kalispell. One of the investigations happened in Mexico City.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Scientific American: Trick or Theory: 6 Halloween Costumes for Science Nerds [Slide Show]
This year, when choosing your spooky guise, channel your empirical side
Arizona Daily Star: South Tucson gets center teaching healthy eating
Stephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star
October 26, 2012 12:00 am •
A former Mexican restaurant in South Tucson is now a taxpayer-funded public community center with an anti-obesity focus.
The Garden Kitchen, 2205 S. Fourth Ave., has outdoor vegetable gardens, colorful scarecrows and indoor kitchens for healthy cooking demonstrations.
Organizers hope the project will become a community gathering place for farmers markets and regular neighborhood walking events.
A joint effort between Pima County and the University of Arizona, The Garden Kitchen will start out with limited hours through December: Saturdays only from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., when anyone from the public can attend cooking classes.
University of Arizona on YouTube: Giant Sequoia Segment Makes Giant Move Across Campus
In anticipation of the opening of a new building for the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, the giant section of sequoia tree trunk was moved out of its home in the Arizona State Museum. Because of its massive size, the tree-ring sample was cut into sections and moved with the help of a crane and other large equipment. It will be put on display on the ground floor of the new research facility, which is expected to open to the public in the spring.
University of Arizona on YouTube: UA Archive Brings Video Games to Downtown Tucson
Ken McAllister and Judd Ruggill, co-curators of the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive -- one of the largest video game collections in the world -- highlighted a few of the archive's more unusual artifacts at Playground bar in downtown Tucson. From arcade machines sponsored by the CIA to PacMan oven mitts and a game controller with nearly 50 buttons, the archive, which is housed on the University of Arizona campus, makes thousands of video-game related materials available to researchers all over the world.
University of Arizona on YouTube: UA Engineering Students Bring Science, Biscuits to Solar Oven Throw Down
About 600 students, faculty members and industry representatives turned out for the College of Engineering's third Solar Oven Throw Down. Leading up to the event, students spent classroom time poring over spreadsheets and thermodynamics equations, then designed their best possible solar oven and predicted the temperature it would reach. At the Solar Oven Throw Down, students tested their ovens to determine the accuracy of their predictions.
University of Northern Colorado on YouTube: 'Chasing Ice' UNC student Adam LeWinter
'Chasing Ice': Graduate student Adam LeWinter was dispatched to the Arctic as part of the team that produced the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Award-winning documentary Chasing Ice. Crews placed time-lapse cameras throughout the region to track multiyear changes in glaciers. Among LeWinter's observations were the aurora borealis in Svínafellsjökull Glacier, Iceland. At left, a tower of ice clings to the Columbia Glacier via a submarine tongue in Alaska. LeWinter also studies volcanic eruption activity using LiDAR with UNC Professor Dr. Steven Anderson.Also read the press release 'Chasing Ice'.
University of Iowa on YouTube: University of Iowa Bicycling Simulator
The University of Iowa uses a bicycle simulator to conduct research on children's ability to safely cross roads with traffic.Also read the press release Making smarter, safer bicyclists.
NASA Television on YouTube: Ford's Job One on This Week @NASA
NASA Flight Engineer Kevin Ford and his two Russian colleagues have made it to the International Space Station and are working to make themselves comfortable aboard the orbiting complex they'll call home for the next five months. Also, Dragon's ready to return; Curiosity Rover Report; Red Road to Mars; Milk Way's Black Hole; Planetary Exploration at 50; and more!
NASA Television on YouTube: Endeavour's Parade on This Week @NASA
Space Shuttle Endeavour brings out the crowds in Los Angeles as the orbiter wends its way from LAX to the California Science Center. Also, legacy power; milestone met; water drop tests; Curiosity Rover Report; and more!
NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Fried Planets
Astronomers have caught a red giant star in the act of devouring one of its planets. It could be a preview of what will happen to Earth five billion years from now.
University of Arizona: How Galaxies Grow Up
A study of 544 star-forming galaxies shows that disk galaxies like our own Milky Way reached their current state as orderly rotating pinwheels much later than previously thought, long after much of the universe's star formation had ceased.
By Francis Reddy/Goddard Space Flight Center and Daniel Stolte/UANews,
October 19, 2012
Galaxies are in no hurry to grow up, a team of astronomers has discovered. A comprehensive study of hundreds of galaxies observed by the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revealed an unexpected pattern of change that extends back 8 billion years, or more than half the age of the universe.
Researchers say the distant blue galaxies they studied are gradually transforming into rotating disk galaxies like our own Milky Way. Until now, it had not been clear how a galaxy’s organization and internal motion change over time, said Benjamin Weiner, assistant astronomer at the UA Steward Observatory and co-author of the paper describing the findings, which are published in The Astrophysical Journal.
“When we look back very far into the distant past of the universe, we find star-forming galaxies, but they don’t look like our Milky Way, with its slowly rotating, orderly spiral disk-shape,” Weiner explained. “Instead, those earlier galaxies appear less organized, and they show more random motion, with stars, dust and gas moving up and down and sideways within the galaxy.”
University of Arizona: New Study Brings Doubted Exoplanet 'Back From the Dead'
By Francis Reddy/NASA and Daniel Stolte/UANews
October 25, 2012
A team of astronomers including UA graduate student Timothy Rodigas has taken a closer look at Fomalhaut, a star that is 25 light years away and has about twice the mass of the sun. The group's data obtained with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reanimate the claim that an elusive object previously observed around Fomalhaut is indeed a massive exoplanet.
Their findings suggest that the planet, named Fomalhaut b, is a rare and possibly unique object that is completely shrouded by dust.
University of Arizona: World’s Most Advanced Mirror for Giant Telescope Completed
By Giant Magellan Telescope Organization, October 23, 2012
Scientists at the UA and in California have completed the most challenging large astronomical mirror ever made. The mirror will be part of the 25-meter Giant Magellan Telescope, which will explore planets around other stars and the formation of stars, galaxies and black holes in the early universe.
University of Cincinnati: Size Does Matter In Sexual Selection, At Least Among Beetles
The size of genital spines has a measurable effect on sexual success in beetles, according to a recent paper by researchers from the University of Cincinnati and Uppsala University in Sweden.
By: Greg Hand
Date: 10/25/2012 1:00:00 PM
A new collaborative project among researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden and the University of Cincinnati has, for the first time, demonstrated experimentally the evolutionary force behind the rapid evolution of male genitals, focusing on a species of seed beetle.
This mechanism is revealed in a study published today in the scientific journal Current Biology. The experiments leading to this paper involved a species of seed beetle known as Callosobruchus maculatus. Mating among these beetles involves several males engaging in copulation with individual females.
“When a female mates with several males, the males compete over the fertilization of her eggs,” said Michal Polak, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati, one of the co-authors. “Because females mate with multiple males, the function of the male copulatory organ may determine which of the males will fertilize most of her eggs. Our results show that the morphology of the male genitalia affects his fertilization success in these beetles.”
University of Florida: UF/IFAS researcher helps test new way to probe remote ecosystems with satellite imagery
October 25, 2012.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For scientists, making field observations of organisms and ecosystems can be a daunting challenge.
Travel to remote locations is costly and difficult. Observation methods are limited and must be devised so that they only capture accurate, relevant data.
Satellite imagery is one alternative for assessing wild places, and it has some advantages over boots-on-the-ground observations, said Matteo Convertino, a research scientist with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“There’s currently not a lot of satellite imagery used in ecological studies,” said Convertino, with UF’s agricultural and biological engineering department. “Part of the reason is, there’s a strong need to improve mathematical formulas for analyzing the data, and that’s what we’re doing here.”
Virginia Tech: Partners collaborate on largest release of endangered mussels in Powell River
October 26, 2012
This fall Virginia Tech’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center, in partnership with Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.; the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, released 7,086 juvenile mussels into the Powell River, the largest number of endangered mussels planted in the history of the river restoration project.
The one-year-old mussels were propagated and raised at the mollusk center a cooperative research and propagation facility to restore and recover endangered freshwater mollusks (basically shell-covered invertebrates) in Virginia and adjacent states.
A combined total of 6,086 oyster mussels, 1,000 combshell mussels, and 27 snuffbox mussels were released upstream and downstream of the Powell River Brooks Bridge on Tennessee State Route 63 near the Virginia line and at other nearby sites in the river. All three species are listed as federally endangered.
University of Arizona: UA Geneticists Help Solve Barley Genome Puzzle
By Daniel Stolte, University Communications
October 17, 2012
As part of an international consortium, scientists led by UA plant sciences professor Rod Wing have helped decipher the genetic alphabet of the barley plant. This is the largest plant genome to be sequenced and paves the way for tackling the wheat genome, the last frontier in the world's most important cereal crops.
Higher yields, improved pest and disease resistance and enhanced nutritional value are among potential benefits of an international scientific research effort that has resulted in an integrated physical, genetic and functional sequence assembly of the barley genome, as described in a paper published in the journal Nature.
“If you think of all the barley genes as a giant puzzle, you could say we can now see what picture the puzzle shows, how many pieces there are, what they look like and where they go,” explained Rod Wing, professor of plant sciences in the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the UA Arizona Genomics Institute.
According to the IBSC, the new resource will facilitate the development of new and better barley varieties able to cope with the demands of climate change. It should also help in the fight against cereal crop diseases, which cause millions in losses every year.
Arizona State University: Plants provide accurate low-cost alternative for diagnosis of West Nile Virus
Posted: October 24, 2012
While the United States has largely been spared the scourge of mosquito-borne diseases endemic to the developing world – including yellow fever, malaria and dengue fever – mosquito-related illnesses in the United States are on the rise. One pathogen of increasing national concern is an arbovirus known as West Nile.
Now Qiang “Shawn” Chen, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and a professor in the College of Technology and Innovation, has developed a new method of testing for West Nile, using plants to produce biological reagents for detection and diagnosis.
The new research, conducted by Chen and his colleagues at the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, recently appeared in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology.
University of Colorado, Boulder: CU-Boulder researchers uncover new target for cancer research
October 24, 2012
In a new paper released today in Nature, BioFrontiers Institute scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, Tom Cech and Leslie Leinwand, detailed a new target for anti-cancer drug development that is sitting at the ends of our DNA.
Researchers in the two scientists’ laboratories collaborated to find a patch of amino acids that, if blocked by a drug docked onto the chromosome end at this location, may prevent cancerous cells from reproducing. The amino acids at this site are called the “TEL patch” and once modified, the end of the chromosome is unable to recruit the telomerase enzyme, which is necessary for growth of many cancerous cells.
“This is an exciting scientific discovery that gives us a new way of looking at the problem of cancer,” Cech said. “What is amazing is that changing a single amino acid in the TEL patch stops the growth of telomeres. We are a long way from a drug solution for cancer, but this discovery gives us a different, and hopefully more effective, target.”
University of Colorado, Boulder: New CU-Boulder discoveries hold promise for treatment of Hepatitis B virus infection
October 22, 2012
A University of Colorado Boulder-led team has discovered two prime targets of the Hepatitis B virus in liver cells, findings that could lead to treatment of liver disease in some of the 400 million people worldwide currently infected with the virus.
CU-Boulder Professor Ding Xue, who led the studies, said scientists have been looking for cellular targets of the Hepatitis B virus, or HBV, for more than three decades. Infections from HBV promote hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer and can be transmitted through blood and bodily fluids, unprotected sex, unsterile needles and from infected mother to offspring during birth.
Xue said scientists have known for some time that HBV encodes a pathogenic, tumor-promoting protein known as HBx, but how it works has remained largely unknown. In two new studies, Xue and his colleagues showed that the “host targets” of HBx in human cells are two small cell proteins known as Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, both of which are well-known cell death inhibitors but which have not previously been implicated in HBV infection.
Ohio State University: Studies: Pigs Look Healthy But Test Positive for Flu at Fairs; Flu Transmission Seen Between Pigs and Humans
October 24, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – More than 80 percent of pigs that tested positive for influenza A virus at Ohio county fairs between 2009 and 2011 showed no signs of illness, according to a new study.
Ohio State University researchers tested 20 pigs each at 53 fair events over those three summers and found at least one flu-positive pig at 12 fairs – almost a quarter of fairs tested.
The influenza strains identified in pigs in this study include H1N2 and H3N2 viruses – strains that have been circulating in pigs since 1998. In 2011, all of the H3N2 and H1N2 isolates found in pigs at the fairs contained a gene from the 2009 pandemic strain of H1N1, which is similar to the H3N2v strain causing human illness this year.
In a second study led by Bowman, researchers compared the genomic sequences of influenza A viruses recovered in July 2012 from pigs and people. The analysis, showing a greater than 99 percent genetic similarity among the viruses, confirms that pigs and humans were infected with the same virus, indicating interspecies transmission.
University of Virginia: U.Va. Research Helps Identify Non-Hormonal Drug Found to Reduce Hot Flashes
October 24, 2012
The drug gabapentin, originally developed to fight seizures, can also significantly reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women, a multinational clinical trial has found. If approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the purpose, gabapentin would offer women a non-hormonal treatment alternative to estrogen therapy.
The development of alternatives is important because up to 75 percent of women experience hot flashes associated with menopause and 25 percent of those need treatment. Currently, the FDA approves only hormone therapy for relief of hot flashes.
“However, many women are not candidates or choose not to take hormone therapy because of the small increased risk of breast cancer and other health conditions,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, director of the University of Virginia’s Midlife Health Center and principal investigator of the study for the U.Va. School of Medicine. The increased risk is of particular concern for women who have had breast cancer or who are at high risk for breast cancer.
“Right now the only FDA-approved treatment we have for women’s bothersome menopausal hot flashes is estrogen therapy,” Pinkerton said. “Women need non-hormonal alternatives. They need choice.”
University of Virginia: U.Va. Researchers Find Anthrax Can Grow and Reproduce in Soil
October 17, 2012
Anthrax has the unexpected ability to grow and reproduce while lurking in soil – increasing the deadly bacteria’s chances to infect cattle and other mammals, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered.
Until now, experts have widely believed that anthrax spores remain dormant in soil until eaten by cattle, then germinate and cause the deadly disease. But U.Va. researchers have found that the spores can attack a common soil and water amoeba, Acanthamoeba castellanii, turning these single-celled organisms into anthrax incubators.
“These amoeba normally eat bacteria and kill them, but Bacillus anthracis has figured out some way to manipulate that amoeba so that it can actually grow inside the amoeba and increase its numbers,” Ian J. Glomski, an assistant professor of microbiology, explained.
The process, he notes, gives the anthrax a selective advantage. “The interactions with the amoeba, essentially, are making certain that the anthrax has the tools to kill the amoeba, and those same tools are potentially being used to infect animals and humans,” he said.
Northern Arizona University: Research links rice agriculture to global warming through methane production
October 23, 2012
More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising temperatures cause rice agriculture to become a larger source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, new research published in Nature Climate Change reveals.
“Our results show that rice agriculture becomes less climate friendly as our atmosphere continues to change,” said Kees Jan van Groenigen, research fellow at the Botany Department at the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, and lead author of the study.
“This is important, because rice paddies are one of the largest human-made sources of methane, and rice is the world’s second-most produced staple crop.”
University of Colorado, Boulder: Climate variability and conflict risk in East Africa measured by Boulder team
October 22, 2012
While a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder shows the risk of human conflict in East Africa increases somewhat with hotter temperatures and drops a bit with higher precipitation, it concludes that socioeconomic, political and geographic factors play a much more substantial role than climate change.
According to CU-Boulder geography Professor John O’Loughlin, the new CU-Boulder study undertaken with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder is an attempt to clarify the often-contradictory debate on whether climate change is affecting armed conflicts in Africa. “We wanted to get beyond the specific idea and hype of climate wars,” he said. “The idea was to bring together a team perspective to see if changes in rainfall and temperature led to more conflict in vulnerable areas of East Africa.”
The research team examined extensive climate datasets from nine countries in East Africa, including the Horn of Africa, between 1990 and 2009: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. The team also used a dataset containing more than 16,000 violent conflicts in those countries during that time period, parsing out more specific information on conflict location and under what type of political, social, economic and geographic conditions each incident took place.
The study, which included changes in precipitation and temperature over continuous six-month periods from 1949 to 2009, also showed there was no climate effect on East African conflicts during normal and drier precipitation periods or during periods of average and cooler temperatures, said O’Loughlin.
Purdue University: Hurt: Drought devastating to beef industry; herd numbers dropping
October 25, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - High feed prices and large financial losses brought on by a combination of multi-year drought in the Southern Plains and the 2012 Midwestern drought will continue their stranglehold on the nation's beef industry in the coming months, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist says.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, September cattle placements onto feedlots dropped a sharp 19 percent compared with September 2011. July and August also were months of decline.
"Drought has been particularly cruel to the beef cattle industry," Chris Hurt said. "Brood cows remain the last major livestock industry that is land-extensive. So when dryness causes wide stretches of land to be unable to support cow grazing, producers have to buy feed or send cows to town."
Virginia Tech: Research in sustainable agriculture identifies climate-smart crop at experimental plots in the Philippines
October 19, 2012
In the pantheon of climate-smart crops, cassava gets top billing as the “Rambo” of plant varieties.
Known for its hardiness in water-challenged environments, cassava's unmatched resilience to punishing drought conditions has propelled the root vegetable to “darling” status among food crop researchers in the developing world.
But recent Virginia Tech research shows another crop might just be the “Steve Austin” to cassava’s “Rambo.” A little known grain crop in the West, adlai grass is a “bionic” plant that is exceptional for its versatility, hardiness, and strength as a bio-pump crop; and it promises to be a worthy weapon in combating the weather-induced food shortages of an increasingly warming planet.
University of Florida: Florida soil a patchwork quilt for carbon content, UF/IFAS researchers find
October 22, 2012.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida is home to many types of soil and some of them lack carbon, meaning they could be used for carbon sequestration — but a new University of Florida study shows that variability in the state’s existing soil carbon levels could make the task harder.
Carbon sequestration is the practice of storing carbon; one way to accomplish it is by adding carbon-rich material to soils. Carbon sequestration aims to slow the build-up of carbon-based gases in the atmosphere, a phenomenon believed to be a cause of global climate change. Some landowners may be able to make money by allowing their properties to be used as sites for carbon sequestration.
In a presentation today at the joint meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America, researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences were to report early findings from a statewide study analyzing soil carbon content across areas the size of a football field.
The results confirm what researchers have suspected — that soil carbon content can vary widely on a small site, said Sabine Grunwald, a professor in UF’s soil and water science department. That means efforts to amend soil with carbon-rich biomass will need to be tailored to local carbon levels.
University of Arizona: Princess by Proxy: When Child Beauty Pageants Aren’t About the Kids
A new paper in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry looks at what motivates some parents to enter their children in high-glitz beauty pageants.
By Alexis Blue, University Communications
October 26, 2012
As child reality TV star Honey Boo Boo continues to capture the attention of audiences with her boisterous personality and her own show about life on the child beauty pageant circuit, a new paper published today in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry takes a critical look at the very types of pageants in which she and thousands of other children compete in America every year.
The paper, authored by Martina M. Cartwright, a registered dietitian and adjunct professor in the University of Arizona’s department of nutritional sciences, suggests that high-glitz child pageants, largely popularized by the TLC hit reality show “Toddlers and Tiaras” and its spin-off “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” often have little to do with the children and much more to do with satisfying the needs of their parents. It further suggests that participation in such pageants can actually be harmful to children’s health and self-esteem.
Cartwright, who attended two live tapings of “Toddlers and Tiaras” as part of her research, asserts that some pageant parents exhibit what she calls “princess by proxy,” a unique form of “achievement by proxy distortion” in which adults are driven primarily by the social or financial gains earned by their child’s accomplishments, regardless of risk involved for the child.
University of Colorado, Boulder: Racial ‘hierarchy of bias’ drives decision to shoot armed, unarmed suspects, CU-Boulder study finds
October 24, 2012
Police officers and students exhibit an apparent “hierarchy of bias” in making a split-second decision whether to shoot suspects who appear to be wielding a gun or, alternatively, a benign object like a cell phone, research conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder and San Diego State University has found.
Both the police and student subjects were most likely to shoot at blacks, then Hispanics, then whites and finally, in a case of what might be called a positive bias, Asians, researchers found.
In the first study of its kind, Joshua Correll, Bernadette Park and Charles M. Judd of CU-Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and Melody Sadler of San Diego State University examined how police and a group of undergraduate subjects decide whether to shoot or not to shoot “suspects” in a multi-ethnic environment.
Universidad de Barcelona (Spain) via Science Daily: Most Ancient Pottery Prehistoric Figurine of the Iberian Peninsula Found in Begues
Oct. 26, 2012
In the course of the excavation process in Can Sadurní cave (Begues), members of the Col-lectiu per la Investigación de la Prehistòria i l'Arqueologia del Garraf-Ordal (CIPAG), together with the University of Barcelona Seminar of Studies and Prehistoric Research (SERP), found the torso, with one complete arm and the initial part of the other, of a human figurine made of pottery. Its chronostratigraphic unit makes it, until now, the most ancient human figurine of the Prehistory in Catalonia; it is dated 6500 years ago.
The figurine, which is also the most ancient one found in the Iberian Peninsula, is an important indicator of the relevance that Can Sadurní might have had as a meeting point for the inhabitants of the closest areas during the Neolithic Age. This is not the first discovery that has been made in the cave, where the CIPAG researchers have been working for 34 years, and where the most ancient evidence of production and consumption of beer were previously identified. These discoveries point that Can Sadurní might have hosted some feasts, in which rare products might have been consumed. Moreover, other rituals with a mark symbolic nature might have been hosted there, any kind of crucial celebration to bring together groups scattered around the area and to ensure their economical, ideological and sexual reproduction.
BBC: Breakthrough in world's oldest undeciphered writing
By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent
The world's oldest undeciphered writing system, which has so far defied attempts to uncover its 5,000-year-old secrets, could be about to be decoded by Oxford University academics.
This international research project is already casting light on a lost bronze age middle eastern society where enslaved workers lived on rations close to the starvation level.
"I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough," says Jacob Dahl, fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and director of the Ancient World Research Cluster.
Dr Dahl's secret weapon is being able to see this writing more clearly than ever before.
Al Arabiya (U.A.E.): Iraq’s rich history tempts relic smugglers
By Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Iraqi police have confiscated scores of artifacts and arrested two smugglers in the southern Province of Dhiqar, al-Zaman news reported on Monday.
The stolen items include rare statues and coins from different periods in Iraq’s ancient history.
The two smugglers in question have long been dealing in stolen relics.
One police source was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity: “Interior Ministry forces in coordination with the Iraqi army seized 64 archaeological pieces as well as 114 bronze coins in a district of al-Fajir.”
Anatolia News Agency via Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Izmir presents mosaic city of western region
A new ancient city considered to be the Zeugma of the West and thought to be one of the lost cities of Anatolia has been unearthed in Izmir. There are unique mosaics with figures in the city
An archaeological city dating back 1,700 years has been unearthed during excavations in Izmir’s Kemalpas,a neighborhood, raising officials’ hopes the area will draw tourists’ attention.
The Cultural Beings and Museums’ General Director Osman Murat Süslü held a press conference Oct. 21 regarding the discovery of the archaeological city, which Culture and Tourism Minister Ertug(rul Günay has defined as “good news that will draw the world’s attention.”
Reuters: Guatemala finds grave of king who ushered in Mayan rule
By Mike McDonald
GUATEMALA CITY | Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:34pm EDT
(Reuters) - Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the grave of an ancient king credited with laying the foundations for the Mayan civilization more than two thousand years ago, experts said on Thursday.
Researchers from Guatemala uncovered the grave of King K'utz Chman, a priest who is believed to have reigned around 700 B.C., at the Tak'alik Ab'aj dig in Retalhuleu in western Guatemala.
Packed with jade jewels and other artifacts, K'utz Chman's grave is the most ancient royal Mayan burial ground found to date, investigators said.
The Daily Telegraph (UK): Are bodies of 10,000 lost warriors from Battle of Hastings buried in this field?
Historian believes the 10,000 victims of the Battle of Hastings may be buried in a field one mile north west of the official site at Battle.
The site of where the Battle of Hastings has been commemorated for the last 1,000 years is in the wrong place, it has been claimed.
Ever since the 1066 battle that led to the Norman Conquest, history has recorded the event as happening at what is now Battle Abbey in the East Sussex town.
But although some 10,000 men are believed to have been killed in the historic conflict, no human remains or artefects from the battle have ever been found at the location.
This has given rise to several historians to examine alternative sites for the battle that was a decisive victory for William the Conqueror and saw the death of King Harold.
National Geographic News: Evidence of Viking Outpost Found in Canada
Sharpeners may be smoking guns in quest for New World's second Viking site.
for National Geographic News
Published October 19, 2012
For the past 50 years—since the discovery of a thousand-year-old Viking way station in Newfoundland—archaeologists and amateur historians have combed North America's east coast searching for traces of Viking visitors.
It has been a long, fruitless quest, littered with bizarre claims and embarrassing failures. But at a conference in Canada earlier this month, archaeologist Patricia Sutherland announced new evidence that points strongly to the discovery of the second Viking outpost ever discovered in the Americas.
While digging in the ruins of a centuries-old building on Baffin Island (map), far above the Arctic Circle, a team led by Sutherland, adjunct professor of archaeology at Memorial University in Newfoundland and a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, found some very intriguing whetstones. Wear grooves in the blade-sharpening tools bear traces of copper alloys such as bronze—materials known to have been made by Viking metalsmiths but unknown among the Arctic's native inhabitants.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Ancient DNA sheds light on Maori settlement
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Ancient DNA preserved in the teeth of the first known New Zealanders, who died more than 700 years ago, is helping shed new light on the settlement of Polynesia, researchers report.
Scientists think New Zealand was the last major landmass to be permanently settled by humans, drawing to a close a dispersal process that began in Africa around 65,000 years ago.
But questions remain about the origins and genetic diversity of those first settlers, and the routes they took to New Zealand, say anthropologists Dr Lisa Matisoo-Smith and Dr Michael Knapp from the University of Otago.
The Free Lance-Star: City courthouse dig tells Civil War story
Courthouse dig reveals house destroyed in Battle of Fredericksburg
YANKS HID IN HOME’S CELLAR
BY CLINT SCHEMMER
Call it “Building X.”
What remains of it lies, buried and long forgotten until now, beside today’s Fredericksburg City Hall where a new courthouse will soon rise.
Now, thanks to intense scrutiny by archaeologists and local researchers in recent weeks, you can add this once-substantial row house to the casualties of the Battle of Fredericksburg.
The Civil War’s most lopsided Confederate victory, won 150 years ago this December, not only killed or wounded nearly 18,000 men, it erased the brick structure from the town’s landscape.
Owned by Fredericksburg businessman Peter Goolrick, the building on Lot 38 was assessed at $1,000 in 1860, local researcher Nancy Moore said. It vanishes from the tax records by 1865.
San Francisco Chronicle: SF City Hall ruins from 1906 quake found
Crews working on a building project in San Francisco's Civic Center have unearthed the massive foundations of the old City Hall, a ghostly reminder of San Francisco's greatest disaster.
The imposing old City Hall collapsed in a shower of bricks, stone and steel in the 1906 earthquake. It was the largest municipal building west of Chicago and was so elaborate it took 25 years to build. The City Hall was supposed to be earthquake proof, but it collapsed in seconds after the great quake struck. It had been open for less than 10 years.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
Science News: Supersolidity loses its luster
Bizarre quantum state may not exist after all
By Alexandra Witze
Web edition: October 12, 2012
One of the most exciting physics discoveries in recent years may not be a discovery after all. Reports of “supersolidity,” in which solid helium flows through itself without friction, may turn out be something far more ordinary: the everyday stiffening of a material.
This new conclusion comes from the same scientist who in 2004 first reported evidence for supersolidity. Now, in a paper published October 8 in Physical Review Letters, Moses Chan of Penn State says he has repeated that original experiment, eliminating more possible sources of experimental error and saw no hints of supersolidity.
“It would have been neat if the phenomenon holds up,” Chan says. But instead, he says, he feels “a sense of disappointment.”
University of Florida: University of Florida chemists pioneer new technique for nanostructure assembly
October 18, 2012.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A team of researchers from the University of Florida department of chemistry has developed a new technique for growing new materials from nanorods.
Materials with enhanced properties engineered from nanostructures have the potential to revolutionize the marketplace in everything from data processing to human medicine. However, attempts to assemble nanoscale objects into sophisticated structures have been largely unsuccessful. The UF study represents a major breakthrough in the field, showing how thermodynamic forces can be used to manipulate growth of nanoparticles into superparticles with unprecedented precision.
The study is published in the Oct. 19 edition of the journal Science.
Iowa State University: Iowa State researchers double down on heat to break up cellulose, produce fuels and power
October 22, 2012
AMES, Iowa – Nicholas Creager recently pointed to the nuts and bolts of one of Iowa State University’s latest biofuel machines.
The 6-inch diameter, stainless steel pipe is the pressure vessel, which is essential for the system’s operation, said Creager, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering and biorenewable resources and technology. It’s a little over three feet long and about a foot across. It can contain pressures up to 700 pounds per square inch.
Then Creager picked up a dark gray pipe that’s a few inches across, is wrapped in insulation and fits inside the pressure vessel. It’s the system’s reactor. It’s made of silicon carbide and can operate at temperatures exceeding 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next was a finger-sized nozzle that mixes bio-oil with oxygen and sprays it into the top of the reactor.
Bio-oil gasifier detail
Add a bunch of toggle switches, electronics, pipes, a sturdy frame and some very thick bolts and you have a bio-oil gasifier. It will allow Iowa State researchers to combine two thermochemical technologies to produce the next generation of fuels from renewable resources such as corn stalks and wood chips.
Virginia Tech: Research predicts warning, automatic braking systems on autos will help save lives
October 25, 2012
The second highest cause of automobile crashes is rear end collisions – 17 percent. Thousands of people die. The solution? "It is simple," said Clay Gabler, professor of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech. "Slow the striking vehicle."
The concept is simple. Execution is complex and expensive. But in a life-and-death scenario, it is worth the investment, agree Gabler and Kristofer Kusano of Herndon, Va., a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering. In affiliation with the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, they are conducting research on the potential benefit of a suite of collision avoidance systems now available as options on some new cars.
Their research, which has been published in peer-reviewed journals, predicts that the use of three systems may reduce serious injuries by 50 percent.
Science, Space, Health, Environment, and Energy Policy
Indiana University: Experts call for national network for wildlife conservation
October 25, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- It's time to establish a national network for wildlife conservation, bringing together state, federal and private initiatives to coordinate planning and work toward common goals, 11 prominent wildlife biologists and policy experts write in the journal BioScience.
Vicky Meretsky of Indiana University and her co-authors say established state wildlife programs provide "strong building blocks" for such a network. But they make a forceful argument that national cooperation and coordination are needed to protect at-risk wildlife species and habitat and to respond to threats such as novel diseases and climate change.
"To date, state programs have been inconsistently and incompletely integrated into regional and national networks," they write. "In this era of reduced financing and increased threats, better, more consistent coordination of state-based efforts is increasingly necessary to maximize the effectiveness of limited conservation funds."
Purdue University: Humanoid robots are focus of research at Purdue
October 24, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University is participating in an international effort led by Drexel University to create robots that could respond to disasters, including those involving radioactive or bio-contamination hazards.
The research is funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The agency on Wednesday (Oct. 24) announced the DARPA Robotics Challenge to design the advanced humanoid robots.
"The idea is to develop robots capable of driving a vehicle, going to the disaster site, walking on various terrains, climbing up a ladder, opening doors, closing valves, using power tools and so on," said C.S. George Lee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who is leading the Purdue portion of the research. "Each of the partners has a different role, and ours is to develop algorithms for the robot to climb an industrial ladder and traverse an industrial walkway."
Virginia Tech: Economic conditions may trump genetics when battling obesity
October 23, 2012
In a first of its kind study that shows environmental conditions can be more influential than genetics, Virginia Tech researchers have found that the cost of food — not someone’s genetic makeup — is a major factor in eating fattening food.
The study, which was recently published in The Open Neuroendocrinology Journal, suggests that economic environments could be altered to help counteract the obesity epidemic plaguing more than one-third of Americans.
In the U.S. over the last 30 years, the price of fattening food has declined compared to healthy food, while obesity rates increased. This research suggests that if fattening foods cost more or were taxed, people would be less likely to eat them.
Brown Daily Herald: Archaeology class excavates Quiet Green
Senior Staff Writer
A quick scan of the Quiet Green displays all of the usual fixtures: lounging students, sunny steps, stately trees, long shadows and wait — an archaeological excavation?
Shovels, geophysical surveying tripods, sieves and buckets of dirt are a change of pace on the oldest part of the University’s campus. Ten students, enrolled in a course called ARCH 1900: “The Archaeology of College Hill,” crouch around a series of exposed excavation sites near Hope College.
The class offers students a “hands-on introduction to archaeological excavation,” said Alex Knoddel GS, instructor of the course. A five-week dig serves as the focal point of the course, supplemented with readings and discussions that generate a comprehensive understanding of archaeological dig methodologies and techniques.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Florida State University: Researcher adovcates 'student-centered' approach to science education
10/15/2012 4:27 pm
A group of educational researchers at Florida State University are drawing widespread attention after their paper measuring the superior results of a more “student-centered” approach to teaching science was published in the pre-eminent journal Science.
The stakes are extraordinarily high, so it is critical that the United States find more effective ways of teaching the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in K-12 classrooms, said the paper’s lead author, Ellen Granger.
“By many measures, the United States is not making much, if any, progress in science and math learning,” said Granger, who is director of Florida State’s Office of Science Teaching Activities and co-director of FSU-Teach. “Ultimately, this has the potential to put us at a global economic disadvantage, in addition to not preparing our students for their adult roles in dealing with the many future societal issues that will have their foundations in science.”
Science Writing and Reporting
Arizona State University: Father-daughter co-authors explore new approach to human origins
Posted: October 26, 2012
As a doctoral student in History and Philosophy of Science at Arizona State University, Lydia Pyne ended up sharing an office with her father Steve Pyne, a professor of environmental history in the university’s School of Life Sciences. Steve’s extra storage space – for housing his many books and projects – also offered his daughter a small, private workspace away from the crowded graduate student office.
It also offered the pair the opportunity to turn their frequent, playful intellectual banter into a co-authored book and, for Lydia, a dream come true.
Their exchanges inspired “The Last Lost World: Ice Ages, Human Origins and the Invention of the Pleistocene.” This nonfiction book is an intergenerational work representing the authors’ intellectual adventure into the rich scientific and historical underpinnings of an important geological time period.
Science is Cool
LiveScience: 'Space Buddha' Statue May Be a Fake
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 24 October 2012 Time: 06:06 PM ET
A supposed Buddhist statue allegedly carved from a meteorite 1,000 years ago may not be as ancient as suspected, according to a Buddhism expert who argues that the statue may be a 20th-century fake.In case this looks familiar, it was the subject of Nazi-taken Buddhist statue hails from space in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Change in the weather edition). Looks like the Nazis got punked.
The criticisms don't target the material the statue is carved from, which is an iron- and nickel-rich meteorite from the Siberia-Mongolia border. But outside experts are questioning the statue's origins.
Achim Bayer, a Buddhism expert at Dongguk University in South Korea, argues in a new report that the Buddha statue has obvious "pseudo-Tibetan features," marking it as a European reproduction likely made between 1910 and 1970.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Arizona: UA Study Examines How News Spreads on Twitter
A study of the Twitter activity of 12 major news agencies shows varying levels of success for the social network as a news-sharing tool, based on factors like article lifespan and number of retweets.
By Alexis Blue, University Communications
October 15, 2012
Nearly every major news organization has a Twitter account these days, but just how effective is the microblogging website at spreading news? That’s the question University of Arizona professor Sudha Ram set out to answer in a recent study of a dozen major news organizations that use the social media website as one tool for sharing their content.
The answer, according to Ram’s research, varies widely by news agency, and there may not be one universally applicable strategy for maximizing Twitter effectiveness. However, news agencies can learn a lot by looking at how their news diffuses once it is posted on Twitter, said Ram, McClelland Professor of Management Information Systems in the UA’s Eller College of Management.
Virginia Tech: Social media can help auto manufacturers find vehicle defects, researchers say
October 24, 2012
Can social media postings by consumers be a source of useful information about vehicle safety and performance defects for automobile manufacturers?
Yes, say researchers at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business who conducted what is believed to be the first large-scale case study confirming the value of social media for vehicle quality management. The researchers developed a computer-based information system that provides auto manufacturers an efficient way to discover and classify vehicle defects.
“A lot of useful but hidden data on vehicle quality is embedded in social media that is largely untapped by auto manufacturers,” said Alan Abrahams, assistant professor of business information technology, who led the study together with Weiguo Fan, professor of accounting and information systems.
Arizona State University: Research project: Can the arts change dietary attitudes?
Posted: October 26, 2012
"Diabetes of Democracy in South Phoenix" is a research project designed to examine the efficacy of the arts – specifically, theatrical performance – in changing the dietary attitudes and behaviors of young people at higher risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes.
It was conceived by professors Tamara Underiner and Stephani Woodson of the School of Theatre and Film and Seline Szkupinski Quiroga and Donna Winham of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. The project considers the growing trend toward obesity among young Latinos in the Southwest, whose dietary choices are influenced both by their ancestral culture and by pressures to assimilate to a more mainstream U.S.-American diet, in light of recent studies in cultural and social anthropology relating food preferences to cultural location.
Last semester the project used culturally specific cuisine, storytelling and rituals combined with performance art and interactive cooking to spark discussion about the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and share strategies for combating the disease.
Arizona State University: The monsters among us
Posted: October 25, 2012
Hollywood is quick to cash in on what’s popular, but why do themes gain popularity in the first place? Does the prevalence of a certain monster reflect what’s going on in our society today?
“I would argue that monsters in literature, in general, are almost always indicative of things we fear in a sort of collective sense,” says Cajsa Baldini, a senior lecturer in the English Department of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Baldini is well-versed in classic monsters and their cultural significance. She teaches a course on 19th century fiction, which covers monstrous tales such as Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein" and "The Island of Doctor Moreau" by H.G. Wells. Both novels are steeped in themes of technology out of control and the ethical implications of science.
Purdue University: Prof: Election season makes it hard to like some Facebook friends
October 25, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — People dropping Facebook friends over political differences is a reminder that some of those so-called friendships are virtual, not the face-to-face type, says a Purdue University communication professor.
"Facebook friendships are often diluted, because the reality of managing dozens, hundreds or thousands of these friendships is just not possible," says Glenn Sparks, who studies mass media effects and interpersonal relationships. "That's why people are easily surprised when some of their Facebook friends post or like different political candidates or issues. It begs the question of how well do you really know these people. And, it also explains why people can quickly dismiss these connections."
Sparks, who is co-author of "Refrigerator Rights: Our Crucial Need for Close Connection," says the ease of dropping these social media friends is a reminder that weaker social connections should not be a replacement for face-to-face interactions.