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

This week's featured story comes from Agence France Presse via PhysOrg.

Human activity is 'almost certainly' driving climate change, IPCC leaked report says
Aug 21, 2013

Human activity is almost certainly the cause of climate change and global sea levels could rise by several feet by the end of the century, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report leaked to media.

The draft summary of the report all but dismissed recent claims of a slowdown in the pace of warming, which has seized upon by climate-change sceptics.

"It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010," The New York Times on Tuesday quoted a section of the leaked report as saying.

More stories after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories

Grand solar minimum could slightly cool planet until ~2080
by gnosticator

Green diary rescue: eco-city models, climate chaos speedup, digging coal on public land
by Meteor Blades

This week in science: Grats, it's an Olinguito!
by DarkSyde

Slideshows/Videos

Curbed: From Tunnels to Bridges, Explore NYC's Off-Limits Places
by Hana R. Alberts
Thursday, August 22, 2013,

Whether it's Red Hook's mammoth, decaying grain terminal, dilapidated buildings on North Brother Island, or the graffiti-filled Gowanus Bat Cave, New York's abandoned, hard-to-reach, usually-off-limits spaces are near and dear to our hearts.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Discovery News: When Earth Can't Produce Enough Food

Us modern-day humans require a lot of food to keep us going, and we're craving more than ever. But as the world population continues its inevitable march upwards, the question must be asked: What happens when the planet is no longer able to keep up?

Discovery News: Why There's No Stopping Illegal Downloading

Illegal downloading of music was just the first step. Now it's everything from movies, to books, TV shows and computer software. And a recent study confirms: there's no stopping illegal downloads. Laci explains why.

Discovery News: Do School Uniforms Help Students Learn?

Parents, students, and school officials have been fighting for-and against- school uniforms for years now. So as the 2013 school year begins, Anthony seeks an answer once and for all: do school uniforms really help students learn?

NASA Television: NASA Remembers Neil Armstrong

One year after his death, NASA is remembering Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on another world.

As part of the tribute, Grammy-nominated artist Eric Brace, with some video assistance from NASA, honors Armstrong with an original composition, "Tranquility Base."

Discovery News: How To Get a Job In Space

There are few jobs cooler than being an astronaut. And now is a better time than ever to get a job in the space industry! Anthony shows you some truly out-of-this-world gigs.

Astronomy/Space

Los Alamos National Observatory via PhysOrg: New gamma-ray observatory begins operations at Sierra Negra volcano
Aug 21, 2013

The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma Ray Observatory has begun formal operations at its site in Mexico. HAWC is designed to study the origin of very high-energy cosmic rays and observe the most energetic objects in the known universe. This extraordinary observatory, using a unique detection technique that differs from the classical astronomical design of mirrors, lenses, and antennae, is a significant boost to international scientific and technical knowledge.

"The HAWC observatory will search for signals from dark matter and to study some of the most extreme objects in the universe, such as supermassive black holes and exploding stars," said Brenda Dingus, principal investigator and a research fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dingus is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and in 2000 was a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

University of Arizona via PhysOrg: Astronomers take sharpest photos ever of the night sky (Update)
Aug 21, 2013

Astronomers at the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory near Florence, Italy and the Carnegie Observatory have developed a new type of camera that allows scientists to take sharper images of the night sky than ever before.

The team has been developing this technology for more than 20 years at observatories in Arizona, most recently at the Large Binocular Telescope, or LBT, and has now deployed the latest version of these cameras in the high desert of Chile at the Magellan 6.5-meter telescope.

Climate/Environment

Associated Press via News Daily: Scientists warn Puerto Rico not prepared for climate change effects

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Environmental officials and scientists warned Friday that Puerto Rico is dangerously vulnerable to the effects of global climate change and urged it to prepare by better-regulated coastal development, and perhaps even by building artificial reefs.

The storm-caused floods and erosion that have always affected the U.S. Caribbean territory are expected to grow worse as temperatures and seas rise, perhaps by 22 inches (57 centimeters) by 2060, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

LiveScience: Shrinking Arctic Ice Will Lead to Ice-Free Summers
By Denise Chow, Staff Writer
August 23, 2013 05:37pm ET

The Arctic is losing about 30,000 square miles (78,000 square kilometers) — an area roughly equivalent to the state of Maine — of sea ice each year, NASA scientists say. And while ice cover at the North Pole has rebounded from last year's record-setting lows, Arctic sea ice continues to retreat and thin at an alarming pace.

In 2012, the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean shrank to its lowest extent ever recorded. Measures of sea ice extent take into account the area of the Arctic Ocean on which ice covers at least 15 percent of the surface. This year's summer melting season is unlikely to break that record, but that does not necessarily herald good news, said Walt Meier, a glaciologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"This is not going to be as extreme a year as last year, but we're still seeing a strong downward trend," Meier told LiveScience. "We're still at levels that are much lower than average."

LiveScience: Dung Beetles Cut Gas Emissions from Cow Poo
By Douglas Main, Staff Writer
August 22, 2013 03:52pm ET

Beetles that root around in cow dung may be even more useful than previously thought (seriously, who else is going to eat that stuff?). New research suggests that by digging through and aerating the excrement, beetles actually reduce the amount of methane released, since the gas is formed under anaerobic, or oxygen-free, conditions. Methane is a much more potent heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide.

Biodiversity

LiveScience: Penguins Thrived in Antarctica During Little Ice Age
Joseph Castro, LiveScience Contributor
August 22, 2013 09:00am ET

Penguin populations in the Ross Sea of Antarctica spiked during the short cold period called the Little Ice Age, which occurred between A.D.1500 and 1800, new research shows.

The results run contrary to previous studies that found increases in Antarctic penguin populations during warmer climates and decreases during colder climates, suggesting penguin populations living at different latitudes in the Antarctic may respond to climate change differently, scientists said.

"How ecological systems adapt to climate change is a very important and hot topic," said study researchers Liguang Sun and Zhouqing Xie, who are both environmental scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China. "Our study suggests that it is not simple to answer this question," they told LiveScience in an email.

The Guardian (UK): Tasmanian devils to be released back on to mainland
Devils, Leadbeater's possums and helmeted honeyeaters will gradually be released into Victorian 'halfway house' to test survival fitness
Oliver Milman   
theguardian.com, Thursday 22 August 2013 21.35 EDT

Zoos Victoria is to create a “halfway house” for endangered species in a new conservation strategy in which there will be a controlled release of Tasmanian devils on mainland Australia.

A former Aboriginal reserve called Coranderrk will be used to release four of the devils, as well as 40 each of the Leadbeater’s possum and helmeted honeyeater. All of the species are endangered, with just 60 helmeted honeyeaters remaining.

The 140-hectare site, which adjoins the Healesville Sanctuary, will be used to test the “survival fitness” of captive species, ahead of potential release to new sites.

LiveScience: It's a Cub! Giant Panda Mei Xiang Gives Birth at National Zoo
Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor
August 23, 2013 07:28pm ET

The giant panda Mei Xiang has become a proud mama, again, giving birth to a cub today (Aug. 23) at 5:23 p.m. ET at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Using the panda cams, zoo workers have been monitoring Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) every day, all day, since Aug. 7. And then at 3:36 p.m. ET today her water broke and the giant panda began having contractions

"I'm glued to the new panda cams and thrilled to hear the squeals, which appear healthy, of our newborn cub," said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo. "Our expansive panda team has worked tirelessly analyzing hormones and behavior since March, and as a result of their expertise and our collaboration with scientists from around the world we are celebrating this birth."

Biotechnology/Health

Duke University Medical Center via MedicalXpress: Coffee and tea may contribute to a healthy liver, researchers say

Surprise! Your morning cup of tea or coffee may be doing more than just perking you up before work.

An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) and the Duke University School of Medicine suggest that increased caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Worldwide, 70 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes and obesity have NAFLD, the major cause of fatty liver not due to excessive alcohol consumption. It is estimated that 30 percent of adults in the United States have this condition, and its prevalence is rising in Singapore. There are no effective treatments for NAFLD except diet and exercise.

University Hospitals Case Medical Center via MedicalXpress: Your mother's genes can impact your own aging process, study finds

As we age, our cells change and become damaged. Now, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging have shown that aging is determined not only by the accumulation of changes during our lifetime but also by the genes we acquire from our mothers. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature.

There are many causes of aging that are determined by an accumulation of various kinds of changes that impair the function of bodily organs. Of particular importance in aging, however, seems to be the changes that occur in the cell's power plant – the mitochondrion. This structure is located in the cell and generates most of the cell's supply of ATP which is used as a source of chemical energy.

"The mitochondria contains their own DNA, which changes more than the DNA in the nucleus, and this has a significant impact on the aging process," said Nils-Göran Larsson, Ph.D., professor at the Karolinska Institutet and principal investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging, and leader of the current study alongside Lars Olson, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet. "Many mutations in the mitochondria gradually dis-able the cell's energy production," said Larsson.

University of Rochester Medical Center via MedicalXpress: Copper identified as culprit in Alzheimer's disease

Copper appears to be one of the main environmental factors that trigger the onset and enhance the progression of Alzheimer's disease by preventing the clearance and accelerating the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain. That is the conclusion of a study appearing today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It is clear that, over time, copper's cumulative effect is to impair the systems by which amyloid beta is removed from the brain," said Rashid Deane, Ph.D., a research professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurosurgery, member of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and lead author of the study. "This impairment is one of the key factors that cause the protein to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease."

Copper's presence in the food supply is ubiquitous. It is found in drinking water carried by copper pipes, nutritional supplements, and in certain foods such as red meats, shellfish, nuts, and many fruits and vegetables. The mineral plays an important and beneficial role in nerve conduction, bone growth, the formation of connective tissue, and hormone secretion.

Psychology/Behavior

Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands) via MedicalXpress: Computer can read letters directly from the brain

By analysing MRI images of the brain with an elegant mathematical model, it is possible to reconstruct thoughts more accurately than ever before. In this way, researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen have succeeded in determining which letter a test subject was looking at. The journal Neuroimage has accepted the article, which will be published soon.
...
Functional MRI scanners have been used in cognition research primarily to determine which brain areas are active while test subjects perform a specific task. The question is simple: is a particular brain region on or off? A research group at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University has gone a step further: they have used data from the scanner to determine what a test subject is looking at.

The researchers 'taught' a model how small volumes of 2x2x2 mm from the brain scans – known as voxels – respond to individual pixels. By combining all the information about the pixels from the voxels, it became possible to reconstruct the image viewed by the subject. The result was not a clear image, but a somewhat fuzzy speckle pattern. In this study, the researchers used hand-written letters.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via MedicalXpress: Brain circuit can tune anxiety
by Anne Trafton

Anxiety disorders, which include posttraumatic stress disorder, social phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder, affect 40 million American adults in a given year. Currently available treatments, such as antianxiety drugs, are not always effective and have unwanted side effects.

To develop better treatments, a more specific understanding of the brain circuits that produce anxiety is necessary, says Kay Tye, an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences and member of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
...
In a step toward uncovering better targets, Tye and her colleagues have discovered a communication pathway between two brain structures—the amygdala and the ventral hippocampus—that appears to control anxiety levels. By turning the volume of this communication up and down in mice, the researchers were able to boost and reduce anxiety levels.

Association for Psychological Science via MedicalXpress: Far from being harmless, the effects of bullying last long into adulthood

A new study shows that serious illness, struggling to hold down a regular job, and poor social relationships are just some of the adverse outcomes in adulthood faced by those exposed to bullying in childhood.

It has long been acknowledged that bullying at a young age presents a problem for schools, parents and public policy makers alike. Although children spend more time with their peers than their parents, there is relatively little published research on understanding the impact of these interactions on their lives beyond school.

The results of the new study, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, highlight the extent to which the risk of problems related to health, poverty, and social relationships are heightened by exposure to bullying. The study is notable because it looks into many factors that go beyond health-related outcomes.

Archeology/Anthropology

University of Southampton (UK) via Science Daily: Handaxe Design Reveals Distinct Neanderthal Cultures
Aug. 19, 2013

A study by a postgraduate researcher at the University of Southampton has found that Neanderthals were more culturally complex than previously acknowledged. Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago.

Dr Karen Ruebens from the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO) and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) examined the design of 1,300 stone tools originating from 80 Neanderthal sites in five European countries; France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands.

Dr Ruebens' investigations uncovered new evidence that two separate handaxe traditions or designs existed -- one in a region now spanning south-western France and Britain -- the other in Germany and further to the East. In addition, she found an area covering modern day Belgium and the Netherlands that demonstrates a transition between the two.

Tel Aviv University (Israel) via PhysOrg: Archaeologists find massive fortifications from the Iron Age
Aug 19, 2013

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have unearthed the remains of massive ancient fortifications built around an Iron-Age Assyrian harbor in present-day Israel.

At the heart of the well-preserved fortifications is a mud-brick wall up to more than 12 feet wide and 15 feet high. The wall is covered in layers of mud and sand that stretch for hundreds of feet on either side. When they were built in the eighth century B.C.E., the fortifications formed a daunting crescent-shaped defense for an inland area covering more than 17 acres.

The finding comes at the end of the first excavation season at the Ashdod-Yam archaeological dig in the contemporary Israeli coastal city of Ashdod, just south of Tel Aviv. Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures is leading the project on behalf of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology.

"The fortifications appear to protect an artificial harbor," says Fantalkin. "If so, this would be a discovery of international significance, the first known harbor of this kind in our corner of the Levant."

Associated Press via PhysOrg: Ancient mound in Greece fuels heady speculation
Aug 22, 2013

Greece's Culture Ministry has warned against "overbold" speculation that an ancient artificial mound being excavated could contain a royal Macedonian grave or even Alexander the Great.

N.Y. Times: Rome’s Start to Architectural Hubris
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
Published: August 19, 2013

Granted that Rome was not built in a day, the unresolved question among scholars has been just how long did it take. How early, before Julius Caesar came, saw and conquered, did Romans begin adopting a monumental architecture reflecting the grandeur of their ambitions?

Most historians agree that early Rome had nothing to compare to the sublime temples of Greece and was not a particularly splendid city, like Alexandria in Egypt.

The Daily Telegraph (UK): Archaeologists discover hidden slave tunnel beneath Hadrian’s Villa
Italian archaeologists have discovered a hidden tunnel beneath Hadrian’s Villa near Rome, part of a network of galleries and passageways that would have been used by slaves to discreetly service the sprawling imperial palace.
By Nick Squires, Rome

The newly-found tunnel was large enough to have taken carts and wagons, which would have ferried food, fire wood and other goods from one part of the sprawling palace to another.

The villa, at Tivoli, about 20 miles east of Rome, was built by Hadrian in the 2nd century AD and was the largest ever constructed in the Roman period.

BBC: Norfolk treasure: Silver disc reveals Christian worship

A small Roman silver disc, thought to have been part of a signet ring, has revealed evidence of Christian worship in late Roman Norfolk.

The disc, circa 312 to 410AD, found near Swaffham in February, is inscribed 'Antonius, may you live in God'.

Durham University (UK) via E!Science News: The Vikings were not the first colonizers of the Faroe Islands
Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 10:06 in Paleontology & Archaeology

The Faroe Islands were colonised much earlier than previously believed, and it wasn't by the Vikings, according to new research. New archaeological evidence places human colonisation in the 4th to 6th centuries AD, at least 300-500 years earlier than previously demonstrated.

The research, directed by Dr Mike J Church from Durham University and Símun V Arge from the National Museum of the Faroe Islands as part of the multidisciplinary project "Heart of the Atlantic," is published in the Quaternary Science Reviews.

The research challenges the nature, scale and timing of human settlement of the wider North Atlantic region and has implications for the colonisation of similar island groups across the world.

Capital Journal via News & Observer: Corps archaeologists study Missouri River's past
By LANCE NIXON - Capital Journal
Published: August 19, 2013

PIERRE, S.D. — Sometimes during high water the Missouri River will carve away one of its banks like an old man turning out his pockets to bring things to light — scrapers and knives made of Knife River flint, hoes and squash knives made of bison bone, 19th century toy horses made of pewter or cast iron.

And U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff archaeologists are there afterward to pick up the pieces, or at least to assess what's been uncovered, the Capital Journal reported (http://bit.ly/... ).

Sofia Globe (Bulgaria): 14th-century poison ring found near Bulgaria’s Kavarna
Written by The Sofia Globe staff on August 20, 2013 in Bulgaria

Bulgarian archaeologists working on the remains of the medieval fortress on Cape Kaliakra, near the town of Kavarna on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, have found a well-preserved poison ring, Kavarna city hall said on August 20.

The Daily Telegraph (UK): The riddle of the 400-year-old shipwreck
It was discovered by chance and hailed by archaeologists as the most significant find since the Mary Rose.
By Jasper Copping

But in spite of years of painstaking work, two tantalising details about the vast wooden ship lying off the Dorset coast remain elusive - its identity and how it came to its meet its end.

But tomorrow, as the recovery phase ends, the biggest clue yet will come to the surface when the vessel’s 27ft, 2.4 tonne rudder, complete with Baroque carved face, is brought to the surface.

Williamsburg Yorktown Daily: Earliest Signs of Agriculture Uncovered at Historic Jamestowne
By Brittany Voll
August 22, 2013

This summer, as archaeologists at James Fort searched for the walls of the fort’s 1608 extension, they uncovered 10 furrows from the fort’s earliest farming efforts.

Because the furrows, which are planting trenches, were found under a fort extension wall from 1608, archaeologists believe they are from the early months of the settlement.

Military.com: Torpedo Shot from USS Iowa in 1899 Surfaces
Navy News| by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) Tim Comerford
Aug 20, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Naval History and Heritage Command's (NHHC) Underwater Archeology Branch (UAB) dove into the history of a recently-discovered late-19th century No. 24 Howell Torpedo, Aug. 9, and they scored a direct hit.

"We started looking through SECNAV (Secretary of the Navy) reports and narrowed it down to eight ships which had been outfitted with Howell Torpedoes," said Mikala Pyrch, a George Washington University intern with UAB who discovered where the torpedo's origin. "From there we figured which ships had gone through the Pacific Fleet or spent any time in California along the coast. That narrowed it down the USS Marblehead and the USS Iowa. We went to the National Archives and looked in the deck logs. I saw that in December of 1899 Iowa had been doing target practice with the torpedoes and had lost... Howell No. 24."

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Agence France Presse via PhysOrg: Tomb find confirms powerful women ruled Peru long ago
by Roberto Cortijo
Aug 22, 2013

The discovery in Peru of another tomb belonging to a pre-Hispanic priestess, the eighth in more than two decades, confirms that powerful women ruled this region 1,200 years ago, archeologists said.

The remains of the woman from the Moche—or Mochica—civilization were discovered in late July in an area called La Libertad in the country's northern Chepan province.

Evolution/Paleontology

Sun Advocate: Mammoth's DNA intact, researchers mapping it
By C.J. McMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter

More than 25 years after state and local archaeologists and paleontologists excavated the Huntington Mammoth, this extraordinary find continues to produce new knowledge about Pleistocene megafauna.

According to USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum Curator of Archaeology Tim Riley, the massive amount of research performed on this specimen has yielded some of the most important information available about the species. Because the mammoth was encased in an airtight bog with unmatched preservation, scientists are still able examine both the animal's eating habits and its genetic material.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Geology

LiveScience: Ancient Dunes Preserve Signs of Dinosaur-Shaking Earthquakes
By Becky Oskin, Staff Writer
August 23, 2013 10:06am ET

Long ago, when the Earth had only one continent and one ocean, an earthquake rippled through western North America's great sand sea. The early Jurassic earthquake left its mark in the vast dunes that now form the famous red cliffs of Zion National Park in Utah, a new study finds.

The seismic waves violently shook the water-saturated ground beneath the giant dune field, sending liquefied sand spurting up through the dunes like a volcano, researchers believe. Some 180 million years later, these sand blowouts, which look like cylindrical pipes, were discovered in the Navajo Sandstone.

The sandstone is so finely bedded that the researchers can identify cyclic patterns, such as summer and winter layers. At one spot in Zion National Park, lead study author David Loope and his colleagues picked out a yearlong sequence of sand pipes, also called sand blowouts, that likely marks the main earthquake and seven aftershocks.

Energy

LiveScience: Your Home Could Be a Power Plant (Op-Ed)
Chris Palmer, American University
August 23, 2013 07:21pm ET

About a year ago, my wife Gail and I installed 31 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of our home in Bethesda, Md. We've been delighted by the experience. Our solar system is a 10-kilowatt, carbon-free, smog-free power plant that supplies the bulk of our electricity needs for air-conditioning, appliances, lights, computers and more.

We sell any surplus power back to our utility company, Pepco. And this summer, while our meter has been going backwards, Pepco has been giving us a credit on our bill. We can't actually disconnect from Pepco, because we need it as a backup for those dark, overcast days when the sun is minimal and when we're using more electricity than our solar panels can produce. But at this point, that's mostly what Pepco is — a backup, not our primary energy provider.

LiveScience: Cosmic Rays May Reveal Damage to Fukushima's Nuclear Reactors
Jeremy Hsu, LiveScience Contributor
August 20, 2013 01:07pm ET

Radiation is still leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after the 2011 tsunami-related meltdown in Japan, making any damage assessment dangerous for both humans and machines. Instead, high-energy particles created by cosmic rays striking the Earth's atmosphere could provide an X-ray-style image of the damage from a much safer distance.

Technology capable of harnessing the high-energy muon particles comes from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico. Shortly after 9/11, the U.S. lab developed a muon detector that could spot uranium or plutonium nuclear weapons hidden inside cargo containers by tracking the changed paths of ghostly muons as they traveled through the nuclear materials.

Now the Los Alamos team is working with Japanese officials to apply the same idea to look inside the damaged Fukushima plant.

Physics

The Conversation via PhysOrg: Teleportation just got easier—but not for you, unfortunately
by Ben Buchler, The Conversation
Aug 21, 2013

Thanks to two studies published in Nature last Thursday, the chance of successful teleportation has considerably increased. Which is a good thing, right?

Whether or not you've ever been on a long-haul flight, you've probably fantasised about being able to magically disappear from one place and reappear in another. And a natural question for a physicist is whether there is any way to achieve this in practice.

In fact, something known as "quantum teleportation" became a reality in 1997. This first demonstration was for particles of light (photons). Since then, physicists have also applied teleportation to other very small things, for example single atoms.

PhysOrg: Physicist proves impossibility of quantum time crystals
by Lisa Zyga
Aug 22, 2013

Is it possible that a moving object could have zero energy? The common sense answer is no, since motion itself is kinetic energy, but this answer has been challenged recently by the concept of quantum time crystals. First proposed in 2012 by the Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek at MIT, quantum time crystals are theoretical systems that exhibit periodic oscillations in their ground state, i.e., their state of lowest possible energy.

Since then, researchers Tongcang Li et al., at the University of California, Berkeley, have proposed an experimental set-up of a time crystal based on charged particles (ions) in a ring-shaped ion trap. They argue that under a weak applied magnetic field, the ions should begin to rotate around the ion trap, and that, because the ions are in their ground state, their rotation theoretically would persist indefinitely.

Chemistry

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via E!Science News: Researchers figure out why gold nanoparticles can penetrate cell walls
Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 14:02 in Physics & Chemistry

Cells are very good at protecting their precious contents -- and as a result, it's very difficult to penetrate their membrane walls to deliver drugs, nutrients or biosensors without damaging or destroying the cell. One effective way of doing so, discovered in 2008, is to use nanoparticles of pure gold, coated with a thin layer of a special polymer. But nobody knew exactly why this combination worked so well, or how it made it through the cell wall. Now, researchers at MIT and the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne in Switzerland have figured out how the process works, and the limits on the sizes of particles that can be used. Their analysis appears in the journal Nano Letters, in a paper by graduate students Reid Van Lehn, Prabhani Atukorale, Yu-Sang Yang and Randy Carney and professors Alfredo Alexander-Katz, Darrell Irvine and Francesco Stellacci.

Until now, says Van Lehn, the paper's lead author, "the mechanism was unknown. … In this work, we wanted to simplify the process and understand the forces" that allow gold nanoparticles to penetrate cell walls without permanently damaging the membranes or rupturing the cells. The researchers did so through a combination of lab experiments and computer simulations.

The team demonstrated that the crucial first step in the process is for coated gold nanoparticles to fuse with the lipids -- a category of natural fats, waxes and vitamins -- that form the cell wall. The scientists also demonstrated an upper limit on the size of such particles that can penetrate the cell wall -- a limit that depends on the composition of the particle's coating.

Science Crime Scenes

Al Ahram (Egypt): Saving Egypt’s heritage

How have Egypt’s monuments and museums fared in the ongoing violence, asks Nevine El-Aref

Last Wednesday night, the curse of the Pharaohs seems to have cast its spell over the Upper Egyptian town of Malawi in the Minya governorate, with the town’s archaeological museum being destroyed and looted.
Malawi, once the capital of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Akhnaten, was disturbed by violence and deadly clashes between protesters supporting the deposed former president Mohamed Morsi and the security forces after the latter had broken up the sit-ins in the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda Square in Cairo.

The pro-Morsi protesters broke into the Malawi police station and town council building and then invaded the neighbouring Malawi Museum (MM), clashing with guards and shooting one of them dead. They then damaged the museum garden, damaged the entrance gates, and managed to enter the museum building, breaking into display cases and looting the collection.

France 24: Ancient Libyan necropolis threatened by real estate speculators

Local residents recently destroyed part of the Cyrene necropolis, an ancient Greek city in north-eastern Libya, to make way for houses and shops. Our Observer, an archaeology professor, laments the authorities’ unwillingness to act to prevent the destruction of this invaluable archaeological heritage.

Cyrene dates back to about 700 B.C. and was the oldest and largest Greek colony in eastern Libya, a region now known as Cyrenaica. Of the city’s former glory remains an enormous necropolis — nearly 10 square kilometres in size — used between 600 and 400 B.C. The necropolis includes 1,200 burial vaults dug into the bedrock and thousands of individual sarcophagi that lie on the ground.

The Atlantic: Excavating One of the Nazis' First Concentration Camps
A nearly forgotten camp, built right after Hitler took power, served as a place to develop new torture methods and train people who later ran camps all around Europe.
Michael Scaturro
Aug 21 2013

BERLIN - Berlin's Tempelhof airport is remembered today as the site of the Air Lift, the effort by Britain and the United States to fly in food and supplies to West Berlin during a year-long Soviet blockade starting in 1948. But a decade earlier, it was the site of unspeakable atrocities at one of the Nazis' earliest concentration camps -- and a husband-and-wife archeologist team has begun an excavation at the site to shed light on its troubled past.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

Associated Press via Seattle Times: Archaeologists race to save Gaza’s ancient ruins
Many archaeological treasures are scattered across the Gaza Strip. But Gaza is one of the most crowded places on earth, and its urban sprawl is endangering sites spanning 4,500 years, from Bronze Age ramparts to colorful Byzantine mosaics, experts say.
By DANIELA BERRETTAIBRAHIM BARZAK

ST. HILARION, Gaza Strip — The ruins of this ancient complex sit on dunes by the sea, a world away from Gaza City’s noise and bustle. Up in the sky, birds compete for space with children’s kites flying from a nearby farm.

St. Hilarion’s monastery, a reminder of the time in late antiquity when Christianity was the dominant faith in what is now the Gaza Strip, is one of many archaeological treasures scattered across this coastal territory.

But Gaza is one of the most crowded places on earth, and the rapid spread of its urban sprawl is endangering sites spanning 4,500 years, from Bronze Age ramparts to colorful Byzantine mosaics, experts say.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

LiveScience: What's Driving Federal Efforts to Nullify State Animal Protections? (Op-Ed)
Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO, Humane Society of the United States
August 22, 2013 05:30pm ET

Last week, in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel of three federal judges heard arguments from a Chinese-American business association and other shark-finning interests against a California law banning the sale and possession of shark fins.

The shark-finning interests suggested the state law — which passed the California legislature with strong bipartisan majorities before Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed it — should be preempted by federal law and declared unconstitutional because it is discriminatory. The state of California, The HSUS and other groups defended the law as an appropriate exercise of state authority.

None of this is all that surprising, except for the other party involved in the proceedings: the Obama administration, through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ weighed in with an amicus brief asking that the federal court overturn the law, largely because the National Marine Fisheries Service regulates shark fishing in U.S. waters and has exclusive authority to say whether states can regulate the sale of shark-based products in state markets.

LiveScience: Fracking is Draining Local Communities (Op-Ed)
Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
August 24, 2013 01:48pm ET

Brenda and Richard Jorgenson have farmed in the White Earth Valley of North Dakota for more than 30 years. They built a home in the valley's sloping hillsides and planted crops around its native prairie grasses. They have weathered the rugged conditions of the Northern Plains because they love working the land, but now their way of life is threatened by a powerful new force: the Bakken oil boom.

A frack pad sits roughly 800 feet from the Jorgenson home, a pipeline is being dug through their ranchland and a waste-disposal facility is planned nearby. The Jorgensons and many neighbors oppose the projects, but energy companies come armed with leases, lawsuits and threats of eminent domain. Local residents have little recourse.

Sally Jewell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior visited North Dakota earlier this month. She toured the oil patch and heard Governor Jack Dalrymple's request to "streamline" the permitting process for fracking on federal lands.

I hope she also met with residents like the Jorgensons who are living on the front lines of the fracking explosion — the ones who know that fracking has been linked to air pollution, water contamination and reduced property values in communities across the country.

Science Education

Dorset Echo (UK): SUMMER MADNESS: Dinosaur Museum a roaring success
By Tara Cox
3:00pm Saturday 24th August 2013 in News

DINOSAURS can be discovered at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester this summer.

The award-winning museum houses a wealth of collections from all aspects of Dorset life, whether archaeology, geology, natural or social history.

It is Dorset’s biggest general museum and was founded in 1846. 16 display rooms tell the story of local wildlife, rocks and fossils, archaeology and history, with a gallery dedicated to novelist Thomas Hardy.

The Hendricks County Flyer: Archaeology Month starts Sept. 1Anonymous Hendricks County Flyer Sat Aug 24, 2013, 09:41 AM EDT

Hoosier history buffs can meet archaeologists and learn about the state’s past during Indiana Archaeology Month in September.

Archaeology Month is an opportunity to celebrate and learn about Indiana archaeology. Events for all ages are held all month by universities, museums, organizations, and individuals throughout Indiana. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology coordinates the month of activities and programs.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science Writing and Reporting

Science News: BOOK REVIEW: How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction
By Robert Martin
Review by Cristy Gelling
Web edition: August 23, 2013

Many parents have questions about how to raise children “naturally.” When is the natural time to wean a baby? Is early toilet training natural? What about suggestions to eat the placenta?

Martin, a primatologist, looks to evolutionary history for clues to how humans have parented through time. He leads a dizzying tour through evolutionary aspects of human reproduction, starting with sperm and egg, winding through pregnancy and parental care, to reach the decidedly unnatural topics of contraception and in vitro fertilization.

Science News: BOOK REVIEW: What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness
By Elizabeth Svoboda
Review by Sid Perkins

Stories of heroes are all over the news: First responders and even concerned passersby put themselves in harm’s way to help others, going against every instinct for self-preservation. What could explain such selfless acts? Even Charles Darwin struggled to understand the evolutionary upside of self-sacrifice.

Svoboda, a science writer, takes an in-depth look at some of the scientists who study altruism and what they are finding. Brain scans (including one of Svoboda) reveal that people who envision themselves giving to charity show neurological responses similar to the effects of taking an addictive drug. It’s ironic, Svoboda writes, that acts of selflessness can stem from such self-centered motivations.

Science is Cool

University of York (UK): Hunter-gatherers’ taste for spice
Posted on 21 August 2013

Our early ancestors had a taste for spicy food, says new research led by the Department of Archaeology's Hayley Saul

Archaeologists at York, working with colleagues in Denmark, Germany and Spain, have found evidence of the use of spices in cuisine at the transition to agriculture. The researchers discovered traces of garlic mustard on the charred remains of pottery dating back nearly 7,000 years.

LiveScience: Evidence of 3,000-Year-Old Cinnamon Trade Found in Israel
Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor
August 20, 2013

How far would you go to get your cinnamon fix? If you lived in the Levant 3,000 years ago (a region that includes modern day Israel), very far indeed new research indicates.

Researchers analyzing the contents of 27 flasks from five archaeological sites in Israel that date back around 3,000 years have found that 10 of the flasks contain cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its flavor, indicating that the spice was stored in these flasks.

At this time cinnamon was found in the Far East with the closest places to Israel being southern India and Sri Lanka located at least 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 kilometers) away. A form of it was also found in the interior of Africa, but does not match the material found in these flasks.

The Guardian (UK): Italian archaeologists have grape expectations of their ancient wine
Scientists plant vineyards with the aim of making wine using techniques from classical Rome described by Virgil
Tom Kington
theguardian.com, Thursday 22 August 2013

Archeologists in Italy have set about making red wine exactly as the ancient Romans did, to see what it tastes like.

Based at the University of Catania in Sicily and supported by Italy's national research centre, a team has planted a vineyard near Catania using techniques copied from ancient texts and expects its first vintage within four years.

NJ.com: Prohibition-era note found in FDU wall: 'Have a good drink on us'
By Justin Zaremba/NJ.com

FLORHAM PARK —” What were blue-collar tradesmen who were working on the estate that would later become Fairleigh Dickinson University thinking about in 1932?

Apparently, according to a recently unearthed time capsule, they were looking forward to a drink.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 08:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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