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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editors annetteboardman and side pocket, 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, health, energy, and the environment.

This week's featured story comes from Science News.

News in Brief: Neptune gets 14th moon
Images from Hubble Space Telescope reveal tiny, dark satellite orbiting blue-green gas giant
By Andrew Grant
Web edition: July 16, 2013

An astronomer’s whim and sharp eye have led to the discovery of a city-sized moon orbiting Neptune. Designated S/2004 N 1, the roughly 20-kilometer-wide satellite is the 14th known moon to circle the solar system’s outermost planet.

More stories after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Watch this space!

Green diary rescue: Mosquito fish, more trickery from pipeline consultant, 20-foot rise in oceans
by Meteor Blades

This week in science: When stars collide
by DarkSyde


Gawker: Raven Asks Human for Help with Painful Quills After Porcupine Attack
Neetzan Zimmerman Monday 11:48am

Gertie Cleary compared the experience to a child with a splinter. "[W]hen you pull a splinter out, they holler and screech and pull their hand away," she told CTV News.

The young raven fledgling who visited Cleary's Nova Scotia home last month had just borne the brunt of a porcupine attack, and was clearly reaching out to Cleary for help in extracting the painful quills that were attached to its face.

Here's the video.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

NASA Television: A Leaky Spacewalk on This Week @NASA

A spacewalk on July 16 that was supposed to be about a six-and-a-half hour affair for Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano ended -- just an hour-32 minutes in, after Luca's helmet began to fill with water. Parmitano's OK and a re-do of the spacewalk, to prep the ISS for a new Russian module, is being evaluated. Also, Spacewalk Show and Tell, Future Space 2013, Neptune's New Moon, A Fit Hangout, Virtual Aviation Solutions, Tech, Up There and more!

NASA Television: ScienceCasts: The Mystery of the Missing Waves on Titan

Saturn's giant moon Titan is dotted with hydrocarbon lakes and seas that bear an uncanny resemblance to bodies of water on Earth. Strangely, though, Titan's lakes and seas have no waves.


New Kerala (India): Link between stars' ages and their orbits unveiled

Washington, July 19 : Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have determined the orbital motion of two distinct populations of stars in an ancient globular star cluster, offering proof they formed at different times and providing a rare look back into the Milky Way galaxy's early days.

Researchers led by Harvey Richer of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver combined recent Hubble observations with eight years' worth of data from the telescope's archive to determine the motions of the stars in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, which is located about 16,700 light-years away in the southern constellation Tucana.

New Kerala (India): Ice on planets around cooler stars warms faster

Washington, July 19 : Planets orbiting cooler stars may be more likely to remain ice-free than those around hotter stars, a new study suggests.

This is due to the interaction of a star's light with ice and snow on the planet's surface.

Stars emit different types of light. Hotter stars emit high-energy visible and ultraviolet light, and cooler stars give off infrared and near-infrared light, which has a much lower energy.

It seems logical that the warmth of terrestrial or rocky planets should depend on the amount of light they get from their stars, all other things being equal.

University of Michigan via SpaceRef: A snow line in an infant solar system: Astronomers take first images
Press Release Source: University of Michigan
Posted Friday, July 19, 2013

ANN ARBOR--Like the elevation in the Rocky Mountains where the snow caps begin, a snow line in a solar system is the point where falling temperatures freeze and clump together water or other chemical compounds that would otherwise be vapor. Astronomers believe snow lines in space serve a vital role in forming planets because frozen moisture can help dust grains stick together.

Astronomers have, for the first time, directly imaged a snow line at another star. Using the new Atacama Larger Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile, they obtained radio-wavelength images of the carbon monoxide snow line around TW Hydrae, a young star 175 light-years away from Earth. TW Hydrae, in the constellation Hydra, is believed to be our closest infant solar system.

Christian Science Monitor: Comet ISON: Will the 'Comet of the Century' live up to the hype?
Comet ISON will fly perilously close to the sun on Thanksgiving Day. If it survives, it will make a gorgeous display in late November and December, coming closest to Earth on December 26.
By Liz Fuller-Wright, Correspondent
July 19, 2013

An ancient myth tells the story of Daedelus and Icarus, a father and sun who used wings made of wax and bird feathers to fly out of captivity. Daedelus flew cautiously, staying close to the ground, and made it to safety. Icarus, his reckless son, couldn't resist the temptation to fly higher and higher – until the sun's heat melted the wax holding his wings together, and he plunged to his death.

Comet ISON has some lessons to learn from Icarus. This is ISON's first trip around the sun, and like Icarus's first – and only – flight, its projected course comes dangerously close to the sun. According to current predictions, ISON is a "sungrazer," meaning it will pass within 750,000 miles of the sun on November 28, 2013, Thanksgiving Day. If it survives, it will have a gorgeously long tail streaming across the heavens throughout December, visible to the naked eye even in daylight – or it could burn up entirely and never be seen again.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics via PhysOrg: Earth's gold came from colliding dead stars
July 17, 2013

We value gold for many reasons: its beauty, its usefulness as jewelry, and its rarity. Gold is rare on Earth in part because it's also rare in the universe. Unlike elements like carbon or iron, it cannot be created within a star. Instead, it must be born in a more cataclysmic event - like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB).

Observations of this GRB provide evidence that it resulted from the collision of two neutron stars - the dead cores of stars that previously exploded as supernovae. Moreover, a unique glow that persisted for days at the GRB location potentially signifies the creation of substantial amounts of heavy elements - including gold.

"We estimate that the amount of gold produced and ejected during the merger of the two neutron stars may be as large as 10 moon masses - quite a lot of bling!" says lead author Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

Moon Express via PhysOrg: World's first mission to the Moon's south pole announced
July 19, 2013

The world's first mission to the South Pole of the Moon was announced today by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and Moon Express, Inc. The private enterprise mission will be both scientific and commercial, and will deliver the International Lunar Observatory (ILO) to the Moon's South Pole aboard a Moon Express robotic lander, establishing permanent astrophysical observations and lunar commercial communications systems for professional and amateur researchers.

Moon Express will also utilize the mission to explore the Moon's South Pole for mineral resources and water. Lunar probes have provided compelling evidence of mineral and volatile deposits in the Moon's southern polar region where energy and resources may be abundant.

The ILO, with its 2-meter dish antenna, will be the world's first instrument to conduct international astrophysical observations and communications from the lunar surface, providing scientific research, commercial broadcasting and enabling Galaxy 21st Century education and "citizen science" on the Moon. The announcement was made during a NASA Lunar Science Institute conference at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.


LiveScience: Mummy Teeth Tell of Ancient Egypt's Drought

The link between drought and the rise and fall of Egypt's ancient cultures, including the pyramid builders, has long fascinated scientists and historians. Now, they're looking into an unexpected source to find connections: mummy teeth.

A chemical analysis of teeth enamel from Egyptian mummies reveals the Nile Valley grew increasingly arid from 5,500 to 1,500 B.C., the period including the growth and flourishing of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


The Springfield News-Sun: Larvae turning leftovers into profits and jobs
Yellow Springs company plans to add a dozen employees. Process converts food production wastes into feed for freshwater fish.
By Tom Stafford
Staff Writer

YELLOW SPRINGS — Flies naturally swarm to discarded food, and in feasting on it extract the nutrients and energy, leaving nothing to waste.

Yellow Springs company EnviroFlight LLC, is putting soldier flies’ voracious larvae to work to capture nutrients from leftovers of food manufacturing to produce feed for farm-raised fish and prawns.

In the process, founder Glen Courtright hopes to create a workable pattern to capture wasted nutrients and address a looming planetary food crisis for human beings.

“Our goal isn’t to feed insects to people,” said Courtright, also president of the company now bursting the seams of a small office and testing facility at 303 N. Walnut St. “Our initiative in the Western World is to use insects as a key ingredient to feed our livestock,” particularly fish and poultry.

The Atlantic Wire via Yahoo! News: Of Course There's a Python Loose on the Dartmouth Campus

One of the local fraternities lost a pet recently, and now the citizens of Hanover, New Hampshire are quivering with playful fear and mocking the nearby trouble making Ivy league school. But, in their defense, strange animals get loose on college campuses all the time. A three-foot ball python has been missing from the coed Tabard fraternity house on Webster Avenue since Thursday, and the snake hasn't turned up yet. Police warned the public that the slithering snake may have escaped out of a fraternity window and to be on the lookout on Saturday morning.

Don't worry, the snake is not poisonous and it doesn't eat babies or small children for lunch. Your cats and dogs should be safe, too. But if you live in the area, be aware that the three foot python slithering in the bushes isn't your imagination, and you should call the police immediately.

The Guardian (UK): The worst egg hunt in the world

Name: Cherry's eggs
Species: Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)
Date: 1911
Claim to fame: A reminder of the worst journey in the world
Visit: Natural History Museum, Tring

There are three eggs, each about the size of a mango. They are not any old eggs. They are emperor penguin eggs, a fragile reminder of an audacious egg hunt that became known as "the worst journey in the world".

The date is 27 June 1911 and the setting is Cape Evans in the Antarctic during Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova expedition. Three men - Edward Wilson, Henry "Birdie" Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard (aka Cherry) - leave the expedition base behind and head out into the pitch-black of the Antarctic winter. Their destination is an emperor penguin rookery at Cape Crozier, more than 100km away. The purpose of the trip is to collect some eggs with a view to taking a look at their embryonic contents.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


University of Massachusetts Medical School via MedicalXpress: Scientists show proof-of-principal for silencing extra chromosome responsible for Down syndrome
July 17, 2013

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School are the first to establish that a naturally occurring X chromosome "off switch" can be rerouted to neutralize the extra chromosome responsible for trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by cognitive impairment.

The discovery provides the first evidence that the underlying genetic defect responsible for Down syndrome can be suppressed in cells in culture (in vitro). This paves the way for researchers to study the cell pathologies and identify genome-wide pathways implicated in the disorder, a goal that has so far proven elusive. Doing so will improve scientist's understanding of the basic biology underlying Down syndrome and may one day help establish potential therapeutic targets for future therapies. Details of the study by Jiang et al. were published online in Nature.

"The last decade has seen great advances in efforts to correct single-gene disorders, beginning with cells in vitro and in several cases advancing to in vivo and clinical trials," said lead author Jeanne B. Lawrence, PhD, professor of cell & developmental biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. "By contrast, genetic correction of hundreds of genes across an entire extra chromosome has remained outside the realm of possibility. Our hope is that for individuals living with Down syndrome, this proof-of-principal opens up multiple exciting new avenues for studying the disorder now, and brings into the realm of consideration research on the concept of "chromosome therapy' in the future."

MedicalXpress: Tasting event set for artificial beef grown from stem cells
By Bob Yirka
July 17, 2013

Growing meat from stem cells would allow for the production of meat without dedicating land to pasture animals. It's a goal of several research facilities around the world, but thus far all such efforts have been not only costly, but have resulted in meat products that are not of sufficient quality to replace that which is grown naturally. [Mark] Post, working with funds from an unknown donor, has been working for nearly a decade trying to produce a product that not only tastes as good as "real" meat, but looks appetizing as well.

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Germany) via PhysOrg: Novel bacterial 'language' discovered
July 15, 2013

LMU researchers have identified a yet unknown bacterial cell-cell communication system.

In nature, bacteria are no mavericks but live in close association with neighboring bacteria. They have evolved specific cell-cell communication systems that allow them to detect the presence of others and even to build up cooperative networks.

LMU microbiologist PD Dr. Ralf Heermann and Professor Helge Bode of the Goethe-University in Frankfurt have just reported the discovery of a previously unknown bacterial "language". Their findings are detailed in the latest issue of the journal Nature Chemical Biology. "Our results demonstrate that bacterial communication is much more complex than has been assumed to date," Heermann says.


Ohio State University via MedicalXpress: Sleep apnea plus dim light at night increases depression, anxiety in mice
July 16, 2013

New research suggests the estimated 12 million Americans who have obstructive sleep apnea should take better care to sleep in a very dark room. Scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have found exposure to dim light at night can interact with sleep apnea and lead to increased levels of depression and anxiety in mice.

"Although it is unclear at the present time whether sleep apnea causes depression, both conditions are commonly seen together in patients. Our research suggests that sleeping even with a minimum amount of light may increase symptoms of depression in those with sleep apnea," said Dr. Ulysses Magalang, director of Ohio State's Sleep Disorders Center and a co-author of the study.

Results of the research were recently published online by the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology.


Archaeology Magazine: New Life for the Lion Man
by Jarrett A. Lobell
Volume 65 Number 2,

Using recently uncovered fragments, archaeologists may be able to finally piece together one of the world’s oldest works of art

On August 25, 1939, archaeologists working at a Paleolithic site called Stadelhole (“stable cave”) at Hohlenstein (“hollow rock”) in southern Germany, uncovered hundreds of mammoth ivory fragments. Just one week later, before they could complete their fieldwork and analyze the finds, World War II began. The team was forced to quickly fill the excavation trenches using the same soil in which they found the ivory pieces. For the next three decades, the fragments sat in storage at the nearby City Museum of Ulm, until archaeologist Joachim Hahn began an inventory. As Hahn pieced together more than 200 fragments, an extraordinary artifact dating to the Aurignacian period (more than 30,000 years ago) began to emerge. It was clearly a figure with both human and animal characteristics. However, only a small part of the head and the left ear had been found, so the type of creature it represented remained a mystery.

Egypt State Information Service via All Africa: Egypt: 'Abu Rawash' First Dynasty Funerary Boats Began to Be Restored
12 July 2013

The "Abu Rawash" First Dynasty funerary boats began to be restored. The restoration laboratory of the Grand Egyptian Museum began the restoration works starting with the two wooden sheets of the funerary boats, said Al-Hussein Abdel Baseer, the Supervisor General of the Grand Egyptian Museum Project.

A French archaeological mission has already unearthed wooden sheets of funerary boats that belong to an early Egyptian king's era, dating back to 3000 BC in "Abu Rawash" area northeast of Giza. The mission discovered the funeral boat of King Den northeast of Giza Plateau, indicating earlier presence at the Archaic period cemetery.

Wales Online: 6,000-year-old decorative wood carving unearthed on Welsh mountainside
The timber - with intricate pattern on one side and oval motif at one end - is thought to be a marker post for a tribal boundary, hunting ground or sacred site
By Mark Smith
17 Jul 2013 12:41

Archaeologists have unearthed what is believed to be one of Europe's oldest decorative wood carvings - dating back more than 6,000 - on a Valleys hillside.

The decorative carving was exposed by workmen during the construction of Maerdy Wind Farm in the Rhondda Valley.

Richard Scott Jones, an archaeologist from Heritage Recording Services Wales, said the piece of wood was “priceless” and would be unveiled to the public at the National History Museum in St Fagans next year.

He said the wood is likely to date back 6,270 years to the Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic period.

BBC: Sark dig reveals 3,000 years of sheep rearing
19 July 2013

Sheep have been reared on Sark for thousands of years, according to an archaeological research team.

Excavations of an ancient settlement near the Sark Mill have revealed a number of spindle whorls, used for working wool.

Sir Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford University, said a "surprising number" had been found at the site's edges.

"We can take sheep rearing back, now, to the second millennium BC," he said.

Science Magazine: Researchers Discover First Use of Fertilizer
by Michael Balter
on 15 July 2013, 3:00 PM |

Europe's first farmers helped spread a revolutionary way of living across the continent. They also spread something else. A new study reveals that these early agriculturalists were fertilizing their crops with manure 8000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Fertilizer provides plants with all sorts of nutrients that they need to grow strong and healthy, including, most importantly, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. That's why farmers all over the world, in countries rich and poor, put manure on their crops. Nevertheless, it may not be intuitively obvious that spreading animal dung around plants is good for them, and archaeologists had found no evidence for the practice earlier than about 3000 years ago. Farmers in the Near East—what is today Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and neighboring countries—began cultivating plants and herding animals about 8000 B.C.E., but there are no signs that they used animal dung for anything other than as fuel for fires.

University College London (UK) via PhysOrg: Archaeology uncovers amazing finds in West Sussex
Jul 19, 2013

Bronze Age settlements and Neolithic pottery are some of the finds made by UCL archaeologists during the construction of major new sea defences inland at Medmerry between Selsey and Bracklesham in West Sussex.

Once the fieldwork is complete, the archive of artefacts will be submitted to Chichester Museum.

Sussex has some of the earliest British Neolithic monuments, but recent discoveries have now doubled the number of known features of this date from non-monumental sites on the Sussex coast, heralding an important development in understanding the nature of the Sussex in the Neolithic era.

NBC News: 3,000-year-old palace in Israel linked to biblical King David
Alan Boyle, Science Editor NBC News

Israeli archaeologists say they have found the remains of a palace that they believe was a seat of power for the biblical King David — but other experts say that claim shouldn't be taken as the gospel truth.

The discovery, announced on Thursday by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, revives a debate over one of the Bible's central stories as well as the origins of the ancient Jewish state. The debate focuses on an archaeological site known as Khirbet Qeiyafa, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem. Khirbet Qeiyafa has been associated with the ancient city of Sha'arayim, which is mentioned several times in Jewish scriptures as Judean territory.

Xinhua via People's Daily (China): Rare painted bronze ware excavated in central China
13:39, July 16, 2013

BEIJING, July 16 (Xinhuanet) --In Suizhou, in central China’s Hubei Province, a series of tombs in Yejiashan have been uncovered. As the excavation goes on, more and more cultural relics have been brought to light.

So far, more than 130 tombs have been found in Suizhou. Archaeologists believe they belonged to the lords of the Zeng State during the early Western Zhou Dynasty.

The Art Newspaper: New building for ancient desert library
Coptic monastery of Deir al-Surian in Egyptian desert was established in the sixth century
By Martin Bailey. Conservation, Issue 248, July-August 2013
Published online: 17 July 2013

One of the world’s earliest libraries—well over a millennium old—finally has its first dedicated building. The Coptic monastery of Deir al-Surian (the monastery of the Syrians), in the Egyptian desert, was established in the sixth century and some of its manuscripts were collected by its abbot during a trip to Baghdad in AD927.

The new building opened in May, in a two-storey structure nestling within the monastery’s tenth-century walls. It includes a reading room, a small display area, conservation facilities and a basement store, all of which are secure and maintain proper environmental conditions.

The Leicester Mercury via This is Leicestershire (UK): Richard III dig site: Greyfriars gives up more secrets
Thursday, July 18, 2013

Archaeologists gather new information on monks’ lives with treasure trove of Bones, stone and slate. Peter Warzynski reports.

To the untrained eye, the pile of dust, stones and detritus is about as uninteresting as it gets. But to an archaeologist, the image tells of gluttonous friars, grand churches, medieval tradesmen and 15th century fashion.

The University of Leicester dig team is in its third week excavating the city's medieval Franciscan Grey Friars friary.

The team has gathered a host of new information about how the city's medieval friars lived.

The U.S. Navy: Rare Artifact Found on San Clemente Island

SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- The Navy discovered a significant prehistoric artifact 90 miles west of San Diego on San Clemente Island (SCI) located mid-island at a newly discovered archeological site.

A boat effigy made of submarine volcano lava was spotted at the surface of the site during an archeology survey. The boat effigy represents a type of boat used by the California Indians who occupied the California Channels and adjacent southern California mainland at the time of the Spanish "discovery" in the 1500s.

The Daily Press: Decoding the mystery of the Jamestown sturgeon
By Mark St. John Erickson, | 757-247-4783
July 19, 2013

Archaeologists probing the early James Fort kitchen where they unearthed evidence of cannibalism this past year have discovered an earlier layer of artifacts showing that — just months before the Starving Time of 1609-10 — the colonists were filling their bellies with sturgeon.

Far denser and more concentrated than the scattered remains uncovered by the dig in the past, the thick deposit of armorlike scales known as scutes, pectoral fin spines and other bones may include more than 1,000 objects, senior archaeologist Danny Schmidt said Wednesday.

Horse Talk (New Zealand): Remains of pony found at historic theatre site
Jul 15, 2013

Matt Hennessey inspects the horse skeleton found under the Isaac Theatre Royal. Photo: Underground Overground Archaeology

It may have been a circus pony performing one last trick more than a century after its death, or it may have been a working horse that pulled a coach.

The answer may never be known, but the discovery of the buried skeleton of a pony under the site of a historic New Zealand theatre during work at the site a fortnight ago has certainly piqued interest.

The Northern Echo (UK): Village green dig proves a success as air raid shelter unearthed in Elwick
3:50pm Friday 19th July 2013 in News

AN AIR raid shelter from the Second World War has been discovered during a three day archaeological dig in a North-East village.

Hartlepool’s history is being explored this week as Tees Archaeology teams up with the community to excavate Elwick Village Green.

Three trenches have been unearthed and a variety of historical artefacts uncovered including coins dating back to 1913, traces of a blacksmith shop and the air raid shelter.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


SUNY Stony Brook via Science Daily: One More Homo Species? 3D-Comparative Analysis Confirms Status of Homo Floresiensis as Fossil Human Species
July 10, 2013

Ever since the discovery of the remains in 2003, scientists have been debating whether Homo floresiensis represents a distinct Homo species, possibly originating from a dwarfed island Homo erectus population, or a pathological modern human. The small size of its brain has been argued to result from a number of diseases, most importantly from the condition known as microcephaly.

Based on the analysis of 3-D landmark data from skull surfaces, scientists from Stony Brook University New York, the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen, and the University of Minnesota provide compelling support for the hypothesis that Homo floresiensis was a distinct Homo species.

The study, titled "Homo floresiensis contextualized: a geometric morphometric comparative analysis of fossil and pathological human samples," is published in the July 10 edition of PLOS ONE.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


Oregon State University via PhysOrg: Student discovers floating tsunami dock on video one year later.
July 19, 2013

Oregon State University graduate student Cheryl Horton was meticulously scanning year-old video of a bird colony off Yaquina Head near Newport, Ore., last month when she noticed a strange object drifting by in the background.

Closer examination confirmed that the grainy, distant floating object captured on her research camera was the dock that washed ashore at Agate Beach in early June of 2012, some 15 months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami ripped it loose from its mooring in Misawa, Japan. In the weeks after it landed on the Oregon beach, the cement dock became a tourist attraction and drew attention from news media worldwide.

Her discovery came one year almost to the day that the dock landed on Agate Beach, bringing mystique – and potentially invasive species – to Oregon from Japan. It is the only known video of the dock during its trans-Pacific Ocean journey.


Universe Today via PhysOrg: Air-breathing rocket engine gets funding infusion
By Elizabeth Howell
July 17, 2013

The technology, which sounds straight out of a science-fiction movie, has enough reality to it for the United Kingdom government to offer $90.62 million (£60 million), in stages, to a company looking to develop the engine.

The money will go to Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines, which we've seen on Universe Today before. They're also developing an unpiloted and reusable spacecraft called Skylon, which is intended for low Earth orbit after leaving the planet from a conventional runway.

Skylon isn't flight-ready yet, but so far the project did pass a United Kingdom Space Agency technical assessment. If completed, the UK Space Agency says Skylon is just one of many vehicles that could use this engine, which is called Sabre.

Monash University (Australia) via PhysOrg: New thermocell could harvest 'waste heat'
July 16, 2013

Harvesting waste heat from power stations and even vehicle exhaust pipes could soon provide a valuable supply of electricity.

A small team of Monash University researchers working under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) has developed an ionic liquid-based thermocell. Thermocell technology is based on harnessing the thermal energy from the difference in temperature between two surfaces and converting that energy into electricity.

Led by Monash University researcher and Australian Laureate Fellow Professor Doug MacFarlane and Monash University PhD student Theodore Abraham, the collaborative project developed the thermocell device with the highest power outputs yet reported and no carbon emissions.

Agence France Presse via PhysOrg: Scientists power mobile phone using urine
July 16, 2013

British scientists on Tuesday reported they had harnessed the power of urine and were able to charge a mobile phone with enough electricity to send texts and surf the internet.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory in south west England said they had created a fuel cell that uses bacteria to break down urine to generate electricity, in a study published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

"No one has harnessed power from urine to do this so it's an exciting discovery," said engineer Ioannis Ieropoulos.


Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK) via PhysOrg: Researchers make new discovery about neutrinos, bringing us one step closer to perhaps solving one of the biggest myster[ies]
July 19, 2013

International research including the UK and Japan has confirmed that subatomic particles called neutrinos have a new form of identity-shifting property. Announced today (19 July 2013) these results could one day help scientists explain why the universe contains matter but very little antimatter.

The findings are further confirmation from the T2K neutrino experiment in Japan of neutrinos changing between different types, or oscillating, in a new way.


Uppsala University (Sweden) via PhysOrg: Impossible material with world record breaking surface area made by swedish researchers
July 17, 2013

A novel material with world record breaking surface area and water adsorption abilities has been synthesized by researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden. The results are published today in PLOS ONE.

The magnesium carbonate material that has been given the name Upsalite is foreseen to reduce the amount of energy needed to control environmental moisture in the electronics and drug formulation industry as well as in hockey rinks and ware houses. It can also be used for collection of toxic waste, chemicals or oil spill and in drug delivery systems, for odor control and sanitation after fire.

In contrast to what has been claimed for more than 100 years in the scientific literature, we have found that amorphous magnesium carbonate can be made in a very simple, low-temperature process, says Johan Goméz de la Torre, researcher at the Nanotechnology and Functional Materials Division.

Science Crime Scenes

Irish Central: Drunken thugs attack ancient Donegal fort - defecate in holy well
Police officer says he found women’s underwear and human excrement near historic site
By IrishCentral Staff Writers,
Published Sunday, July 14, 2013, 10:42 AM
Updated Monday, July 15, 2013, 9:29 AM

Last weekend a gang of up to 40 people vandalized one of Ireland’s historic monuments which dates back to to 1700 BC.

The Irish Examiner reports that the drunken thugs pulled stones from An Grianan Fort in Co. Donegal and defecated in a holy well before they verbally abused tourists.

The ancient ring fort sits 750 feet above sea level and offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

PRI's The World: 'Naked Archaeologist' Sues Critic in Israeli Court
Daniel Estrin
July 19, 2013

There’s a dark underbelly to the world of biblical archaeology in Israel. The latest saga involves an Israeli-Canadian filmmaker, host of a TV series called the Naked Archaeologist, who believes he may have found the tomb of Jesus, the nails of the cross, and a smattering of other finds.

A retired curator in Israel’s government antiquities department says the filmmaker’s claims and his methods are one big moneymaking scam. The filmmaker says that’s libel, and he’s suing him for $1 million.

Huriyet Daily News (Turkey): Archeologists issue warning on destruction of Istanbul’s Yedikule Gardens
ISTANBUL - Radikal

The Istanbul branch of the Association of Archaeologists has warned that excavations within the historical Yedikule gardens are destroying the remains of Istanbul’s old town.

Earthmovers have been digging one meter deep next to the Byzantine-era walls in the Yedikule Gardens and destroying parts of the walls since July 6 as part of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s project to construct a park with a decorative pool, a statement by the association read.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

ZeeNews (India): China installs sensors to monitor ancient Buddhist grottoes
Last Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 18:36

Beijing: China has installed sensors to monitor the ancient Buddhist grottoes in the northwest Gansu Province.

The devices will monitoring changes in temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide density and other conditions in the Bingling Temple Grottoes near Yongjing County from this month.

"The data will help us analyse the impact of visitors and weather on the caves' environment," Shi Jingsong, head of an institute in-charge of protecting the grottoes, was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.

Seattle Times: Prehistoric art, Lewis and Clark Trail in path of federal power project
A Bonneville Power Administration transmission-tower construction project has been on hold for more than a year as a landowner tries to defend ancient Indian archaeological sites and stops on the Lewis and Clark Trail.
By Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times staff reporter
Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times

WISHRAM, Klickitat County — All he was looking for was a little retirement property. But Robert Zornes, a Forks RV-park owner, wound up with quite a lot more.

“I kept seeing this property, 122 acres on more than a mile of the Columbia River for a quarter-million dollars, then it’s lowered to $100,000. And I am thinking, ‘This has to be a practical joke,’” Zornes said. So he bought it, right off a real-estate website, without ever talking to the property owner.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science Education

Bromesgrove Standard (UK): Bromsgrove to play host to an archaeological dig
By Connie Osborne
Monday 08 July 2013

AROUND 500 schoolchildren will attempt to unearth ancient artefacts during a Time Team style archaeological dig under Bromsgrove’s former Market Street car park.

Residents will also be able to explore the town’s hidden history as part of the dig and there will be on-site archaeologists who will talk about protecting and restoring the town’s past.

An exhibition of discovered artefacts will take place in the town, along with details about them and about how the archaeologists went about their work.

Bromsgrove civic head, Coun Helen Jones, officially got the dig under way on Wednesday (July 3). The dig is part of Bromsgrove’s lottery funded Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

Columbia Tribune: Patrons want answers about MU museums' future
Professors, patrons question MU logistics.
By Karyn Spory
Thursday, July 18, 2013

Although the upcoming moves of two University of Missouri museums from the heart of campus to the former Ellis Fischel Cancer Center on the Business Loop have been called temporary, many are still wondering what the end plan is for the two facilities.

The Museum of Art and Archaeology and Museum of Anthropology are being moved at the end of this year as part of a nearly $23 million project to renovate historic buildings around Francis Quadrangle, including Jesse Hall. Pickard Hall houses the art and archeology museum, and the anthropology museum is in Swallow Hall. MU's Faculty Council hosted a campus forum yesterday on the situation.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science Writing and Reporting

Science News: Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, H. M.
By Suzanne Corkin
Review by Susan Gaidos
Web edition: July 11, 2013

Sixty years ago, 27-year-old Henry Molaison underwent an experimental operation in a last-ditch attempt to stop his debilitating epileptic seizures. By removing tissue from each side of Molaison’s brain, the surgeon helped quell the attacks but destroyed his patient’s ability to form new memories.

At the time, scientists didn’t know that the ability to establish long-term memory was centered in a specific part of the brain. In fact, they knew little about the workings of memory. Molaison’s unique condition made him a rich subject for study (SN: 7/27/13, p. 24), and Corkin gives readers a riveting account of those investigations.

Science News: A Piece of the Sun: The Quest for Fusion Energy
By Daniel Clery
Review by Andrew Grant

It’s not a great time to be a scientist studying fusion. U.S. experiments such as the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility are losing funding (SN: 4/20/13, p. 26), while a $20 billion international project called ITER is delayed and over budget. Clery, a science writer, chronicles these setbacks, along with 70 years’ worth of others, in efforts to harness the process that lights up the stars.

Clery gives a detailed and workmanlike history of the worldwide quest to exploit fusion as an energy source. He describes persuasively how politics and economics, particularly during the Cold War, stalled progress.

Science is Cool

The Telegraph (UK): Richard III to be buried in £1m tomb
The remains of Richard III will be buried beneath a raised tomb in Leicester Cathedral in a reinterment costing £1million, it has been announced.
By Agencies

Several possible designs for the last Plantagenet king's final resting place are now being developed by architects, with plans including a new floor, special lighting and stained glass windows for the Cathedral.

Final approval for the proposals is expected by November.

The Dean of Leicester, The Very Reverend David Monteith, said the plans were influenced by feedback from a variety of sources, including members of the public who had been visiting the Cathedral.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech and Astro Kos.

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