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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.

Between now and the general election, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections for federal or statewide office this year plus stories from all research universities in major cities having municipal elections.  In addition, OND:SS will include stories from the University of Wisconsin system every weekend until the June 5 special election in Wisconsin. (Sorry, I'll delete that in future editions--NV)  That written, tonight's edition features the science, space, environment, and energy stories from universities in the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia (list from The Green Papers), and the cities of Detroit and New York.

This week's featured story comes from NASA Television and

LADEE Launches!

LADEE, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer robotic probe launched Friday night atop an Orbital Sciences Corporation Minotaur V rocket. The first deep space mission from Wallops Flight Facility, LADEE will orbit the moon to collect information about its atmosphere and environmental influences on lunar dust.

Data from LADEE will help scientists better understand other planetary bodies in our solar system. NASA Fixes Moon Probe Glitch After Amazing Friday Night Launch
by Tariq Malik, Managing Editor
September 07, 2013 03:07pm ET

Engineers have fixed a technical glitch on NASA's newest robotic moon explorer, bringing the spacecraft back up to full health one day after a spectacular nighttime launch Friday that wowed spectators up and down the U.S. East Coast.

NASA's LADEE moon probe launch into space Friday night (Sept. 6) in a flawless liftoff from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. An Orbital Sciences Corp. Minotaur V rocket, making its debut flight, launched the lunar probe.

But just hours after the 11:27 p.m. EDT (0327 GMT) liftoff, NASA officials reported that the spacecraft's reaction wheels — which spin to position and stabilize LADEE in space without using precious thruster fuel — unexpectedly shut down.

More stories after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories

Green diary rescue: Sunstein's climate talk doesn't match record, acid oceans, fracking earthquakes
by Meteor Blades

Urban Edginess: The times they are a changing.
by Trenz Pruca

A Little Piece of Mars
by Lenny Flank

This week in science: The heat is on
by DarkSyde


Rutgers Today on YouTube: The Great Tomato Tasting

If you love tomatoes, heaven is located in New Jersey at least one day a year. Each summer Rutgers hosts the Great Tomato Tasting at Snyder Research Farm. Visitors feast on more than 80 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes with unique names such as "Snow White," "Green Doctors," "Dad's Sunset" and "Power Pops." Tasters also get to sample apples, peaches, basil and honey.

Rutgers Today on YouTube: The Science Behind Candy

If you think you like candy or ice cream just because they're sweet, you're missing the science behind the treats. Rutgers food science professors Richard Ludescher and Beverly Tepper say we're drawn to more than just the sweet taste. Flavor and especially texture influence our likes and dislikes as well. We also checked in with Rutgers alums and owners of Thomas Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate, Michael and Jennifer Schnur, to talk about the role science plays in their business.

Rutgers Today on YouTube: Revolutionizing Urban Healthcare

Cindy Sickora runs a mobile healthcare program in Newark. Suzanne Willard heads a wellness center. Together, two leaders of Rutgers nursing schools are striving to make healthcare accessible to city residents, who are among the most underserved in the nation.

Discovery News: How To Tell The Perfect Lie

We all know lying is bad.. but sometimes, certain situations give you no other option. Anthony has some tips on how to make that lie more convincing than any other.

Discovery News: How Sarin Gas Works

In Damascus last month, more than 1,400 people died in a sarin gas attack believed to be carried out by the Syrian goverment. Laci explains what this deadly nerve agent is and how it works.

Discovery News: NASA Brings WiFi To Space

Need fast internet? Go to space! That's right-- Nasa is about to launch super fast, laser-powered wifi off planet. Trace explains what the speedy connection will be used for.

NASA Television: LADEE Launches! On This Week @NASA

LADEE, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer robotic probe launched Friday night atop an Orbital Sciences Corporation Minotaur V rocket. The first deep space mission from Wallops Flight Facility, LADEE will orbit the moon to collect information about its atmosphere and environmental influences on lunar dust. Data from LADEE will help scientists better understand other planetary bodies in our solar system. Also, Antares Update, Asteroid Ideas Selected, MAVEN's Wings, Next ISS Crew, Testing, Testing!, Lori Garver Farewell, Be Prepared! and more!

NASA Explorer: NASA | Ask a Climate Scientist

Have a question that's always confounded you about Earth's climate? Wonder why it matters that the climate is changing now if it has changed before? Or how scientists know changes seen in recent decades are the result of human activities, not natural causes?

Go ahead. Ask a climate scientist.

NASA scientists will be recording video responses to some of the questions we receive. The responses will be posted to the NASAExplorer YouTube channel.

To submit a question, record a short, 10-15 second video with your question and upload it to YouTube -- and be sure to tag the video "#askclimate" so that we can find it. You can also simply post a question on Twitter with the same hashtag, "#askclimate."

NASA/JPL: Eclipse at Mars Casts Shadow Around Mars Rover Curiosity

When the Martian moon Phobos passed in front of the sun, from the perspective of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, the rover recorded the eclipse in the sky as well as the shadow darkening the ground.

Astronomy/Space The Drake Equation Revisited: Interview with Planet Hunter Sara Seager
By Devin Powell, Astrobiology Magazine
September 04, 2013 06:18pm ET

Planet hunters keep finding distant worlds that bear a resemblance to Earth. Some of the thousands of exoplanet candidates discovered to date have similar sizes or temperatures. Others possess rocky surfaces and support atmospheres. But no world has yet provided an unambiguous sign of the characteristic that still sets our pale blue dot apart: the presence of life.

That may be about to change, says exoplanet expert Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Upcoming NASA missions such as the Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey (TESS) and the James Webb Space Telescope, both due to launch around 2018, should be able to find and characterize Earth-like planets orbiting small stars.

Spotting signs of life on those planets will be possible because of progress in detecting not only planets, but their atmospheres as well. When a planet passes in front of its host star, atmospheric gases reveal their presence by absorbing some of the starlight. Oxygen, water vapor or other gases that do not belong on dead worlds could very well provide the first evidence of life elsewhere. Mystery Alignment of Dying Stars Puzzles Scientists
by Mike Wall, Senior Writer
September 04, 2013 09:01am ET

Dying stars that are among the most beautiful objects in the universe tend to line up across the night sky, and astronomers aren't sure why.

These "cosmic butterflies" — actually a certain type of planetary nebula — all have their own formation histories, and they don't interact with each other. But something is apparently making them dance in step, scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope (NTT) have discovered.

"This really is a surprising find and, if it holds true, a very important one,"study lead author Bryan Rees, of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "Many of these ghostly butterflies appear to have their long axes aligned along the plane of our galaxy. By using images from both Hubble and the NTT we could get a really good view of these objects, so we could study them in great detail." Brown Dwarfs: Strange 'Failed Stars' Only as Hot As Your Oven
by Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
September 05, 2013 02:09pm ET

The best look yet at mysterious brown dwarfs, strange cosmic oddities that blur the lines between stars and planets, has revealed just how large and cold they really are, scientists say. In fact, the weird "failed stars" only get as hot as your kitchen oven.

The new discovery may shed light on the formation and evolution of distant alien worlds, researchers added.

Starlike bodies known as brown dwarfs are often billed as failed stars because they are larger than planets, but too small to trigger nuclear fusion and ignite into the brilliance of a full-fledged star. Monster Saturn Storm Dredged Up Icy Water from the Deeps
by Elizabeth Howell, Contributor
September 04, 2013 05:38pm ET

A colossal storm that raged on Saturn in 2010 and 2011 churned water ice up from deep within the ringed planet's thick atmosphere, a new study reports.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft detected the ice crystals from its perch orbiting Saturn. It's the first time water has ever been spotted on the planet, some 400 years after Saturn and its rings were first glimpsed through a telescope.

While water is not a new discovery to a gas giant — Jupiter also has water ice in its atmosphere, for example — the discovery shows just how powerful Saturn storms can be, researchers said. NASA Studying 4 Landing Site Options for 2016 Mars Mission
by Tariq Malik, Managing Editor
September 04, 2013 04:14pm ET

NASA is weighing candidate landing sites for its next mission to the surface of Mars, a three-legged probe that will study the Red Planet's core in 2016.

The space agency has four potential landing sites in mind for the new InSight Mars lander. The spacecraft is slated to launch in March 2016 and land on the Red Planet six months later.

"We picked four sites that look safest," geologist Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "They have mostly smooth terrain, few rocks and very little slope."


Maui Weekly: How We Can End the ‘Disposable Age’
Burying rubbish is not a long-term strategy for Maui. With more garbage piling up every day, it’s prudent to rethink the “disposable” paradigm.
Dr. Janet Six , Maui Weekly
September 5, 2013

With more and more particulate pieces of plastic blanketing Maui's golden shores, concerned Maui residents and visitors may want to consider increasing their understanding of how our actions have far-reaching effects on our environment.

More importantly, we need to find ways to rectify the situation.

To this end, the following presents this ongoing problem in a historic context.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


The Herald (UK): DNA study uncovers mystery genealogy of the Orkney vole
david ross highland correspondent
Wednesday 4 September 2013

IT is a mystery that has long perplexed scientists, but questions about the origins of the Orkney vole have at last been solved by DNA analysis.

The animal, which is unique to its island home and is larger than the common vole found elsewhere in Britain, came from Belgium more than 5000 years ago.

A team of scientists, led by Aberdeen University and Cornell University in the US, has been working on the Orkney vole's genealogy. The findings give an unprecedented insight into the zoology of prehistoric Europe.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Rutgers University: Rutgers Biologist Analyzes Glacial Microorganisms for Climate Change Clues
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

CAMDEN — On the surface, glaciers are massive bodies of ice that continue to slowly carve out the Earth’s landscape, but what goes unseen beneath these frozen rivers are entire communities of microbial life that could be playing a key role in glacial melting.

“Glaciers are an interesting thing to study to try and understand an entire ecosystem in its full complexity, from microorganisms to algae to animals,” says Andrey Grigoriev, a professor of biology at Rutgers–Camden.  “We want to determine what species live there and to figure out the structure of the glacial ecosystem.”

In the first stage of his project, Grigoriev is taking an intimate look at Alaska’s Byron Glacier, located some 48 miles south of Anchorage (and more than 4,000 miles from Rutgers–Camden).


Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute via Science Daily: Mycobacterium Tuberculosis: Our African Follower for Over 70,000 Years
Sep. 1, 2013

Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of deadliest infectious diseases of humans, killing 50% of individuals when left untreated. Even today, TB causes 1-2 million deaths every year mainly in developing countries. Multidrug-resistance is a growing threat in the fight against the disease.

An international group of researchers led by Sebastien Gagneux from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) has now identified the origin in time and space of the disease. Using whole-genome sequencing of 259 Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains collected from different parts of the world, they determined the genetic pedigree of the deadly bugs. This genome comparison to be published September 1st in the journal Nature Genetics indicates that TB mycobacteria originated at least 70,000 years ago in Africa.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

University of Alabama, Birmingham: UAB study shows sleep-deprived teen pedestrians more likely to get hit
By Meghan Davis
Tuesday, September 03, 2013

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers have published a study showing that sleep-deprived adolescents are in greater danger crossing the street than their better-rested peers.

The study, published Sept. 3, 2013, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, revealed that when restricted to four hours of sleep the previous night — half the number of hours experts consider adequate for 14- and 15-year-olds — subjects in a virtual-pedestrian environment took more time to initiate crossings, crossed with less time before contact with vehicles and experienced more close calls than those who slept for 8.5 hours.

“This study suggests that adolescents’ ability to cross the street can be compromised after only one night of acute sleep restriction,” said study author Aaron Davis, Ph.D., psychology post-doctoral fellow in the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) program in the UAB Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Virginia Commonwealth University: A matter of miles
VCU Center on Society and Health releases new maps to show differences in life expectancy within U.S. cities
By Frances Dumenci
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013

Where you live can make a big difference in how long you live, even compared to your neighbors in an adjacent zip code. Maps released by the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health at the request of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) show large differences in life expectancy in the United States across neighborhoods of cities and across rural areas.  

“A few miles can make a big difference in the lifespan of Americans,” said Steven Woolf, M.D., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health. “Newborns in one zip code can expect to live a lot longer than newborns from a nearby neighborhood. The maps have captured the attention of the media and the public.”  

To put the differences in life expectancy in geographic context, the maps display highway exit numbers, subway stops and zip codes as geographic landmarks to show how large differences in life expectancy can exist across small distances. For example, life expectancy in New Orleans varies by 25 years between two nearby zip codes.


University of Liverpool (UK): Language and tool-making skills evolved at same time

Research by the University of Liverpool has found that the same brain activity is used for language production and making complex tools, supporting the theory that they evolved at the same time.

Researchers from the University tested the brain activity of 10 expert stone tool makers (flint knappers) as they undertook a stone tool-making task and a standard language test.
The researchers found that brain patterns for both tasks correlated, suggesting that they both use the same area of the brain.  Language and stone tool-making are considered to be unique features of humankind that evolved over millions of years.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

University of Alabama, Birmingham: Turning off technology
By Bob Shepard
Friday, September 06, 2013

Anyone not reading this on a tablet or smartphone probably has some sort of portable electronic device in their pocket or purse to stay connected.  Maybe too connected, say experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“There is more and more evidence that our electronic devices can be addicting,” said Despina Stavrinos, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at UAB. “Certainly our research shows they can be dangerous.”

Stavrinos runs the Translational Research for Injury Prevention Lab at UAB which studies distracted driving, particularly among teens.  She says people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to have a motor vehicle crash.

“We call texting while driving the perfect storm, as it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off of concentrating on what you should be doing – which is driving,” she said. “But it’s not just texting that can be an issue. Checking e-mail, talking on the phone or accessing a map program can also be distracting and dangerous.”

University of Alabama, Birmingham: Sports addictions can ruin relationships
By Nicole Wyatt
Tuesday, September 03, 2013

As players take the field for fall sports like football, experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) remind adults that an obsessive focus on any sport can deter kids from playing and damage relationships.

Sandra Sims, Ph.D., associate professor of human studies in the UAB School of Education, said while parents do not purposefully take the joy out of their children’s games, being overzealous about their abilities, effort or participation can do just that.

“Young athletes have two needs that should be fulfilled, and those are to feel worthy and have fun,” explained Sims, who was a middle- and high-school teacher and coach for 20 years.

“When a sport is no longer fun – if the child feels the sport is more like a job – they will quit,” she said. “It’s sad to see them walk away."

Louisiana State University: LSU Psychologist Discovers False Descriptions Easier to Remember than False Denials
September 4, 2013

What happens when you tell a lie? Set aside your ethical concerns for a moment—after all, lying is a habit we practice with astonishing dexterity and frequency, whether we realize it or not. What goes on in your brain when you willfully deceive someone? And what happens later, when you attempt to access the memory of your deceit? How you remember a lie may be impacted profoundly by how you lie, according to a new study by LSU Associate Professor Sean Lane and former graduate student Kathleen Vieria. The study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Research and Memory Cognition, examines two kinds of lies – false descriptions and false denials – and the different cognitive machinery that we use to record and retrieve them.

False descriptions are deliberate flights of the imagination—details and descriptions that we invent for something that didn’t happen. As it turned out, these lies were far easier for Lane’s test subjects to remember.

Lane explained that false descriptions remain more accessible and more durable in our memories because they tax our cognitive power.


LiveScience: 8 Rulers of Ancient Egypt: Most Precise Timeline Revealed
By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer
September 03, 2013

The most precise chronology of Early Egypt yet suggests the country formed much more quickly than previously thought.

The new finding reveals a robust timeline for the first eight kings and queens of Egypt, including, in order of succession Aha, Djer, Djet, Queen Merneith, Den, Anedjib, Semerkhet and Qa'a. The accession of King Aha to the throne is often thought to define the start of the Egyptian state, with the new study suggesting (with 68 percent probability) that he became king between 3111 B.C. and 3045 B.C.

ScienceNordic (Norway and Denmark): Field teeming with Bronze Age gold rings
September 2, 2013 - 06:27

Four Bronze Age gold rings were recently found near the site where six similar rings were found in 2009.

A key question in archaeology is how a tool or a piece of jewellery was used and what significance it had to the people who used it.

Careful observations and descriptions combined with common sense always form a strong basis for these discussions, but sometimes a little more is needed, e.g. analogies from foreign peoples or inspiration from written sources.

University of Cambridge (UK): Final excavations underway at Ham Hill

Archaeologists from the Universities of Cambridge and Cardiff are currently undertaking their third, and final, round of excavations at Ham Hill, Britain’s biggest Iron-Age hill fort.

An excavation at Ham Hill, the largest Iron-Age hill fort in Britain, has revealed more about how the ancient structure was developed by its defenders in response to the Roman invasion.

The Daily Telegraph (UK): It’s amateurs who dig deep to discover Emperor Hadrian's buried treasures
A stunning subterranean slave world has been discovered under Emperor Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli by caving enthusiasts – as volunteers now make headlines about history
By Bettany Hughes

Underbellies have charisma. The recent discovery, beneath the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, of a subterranean jigsaw of tunnels and roads, has scholars and tweeters alike aflutter. Some describe this as no less than a chthonic city; others have suggested the network could stretch as far as the Eternal City itself, just over 18 miles to the west.

The presence of paved, underground streets wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic of ox-drawn carts and passages so slim that only the merest slip of a slave girl might squeeze through posits the possibility of a pallid community of slaves in this sun-drenched region of Latium. Subhumans condemned to a troglodyte existence, shifting supplies so their wine-swilling masters above could be served, invisibly.

The Huffington Post: Declassified Spy Photos Show Ancient Roman Walls In Romania
By Meredith Bennett-Smith                        
Posted: 09/04/2013 5:29 pm EDT  |  Updated: 09/05/2013

Sometimes it pays to take a second look.

Archaeologists from two United Kingdom universities examining declassified spy photos rediscovered part of a what they believe is a series of Roman fortifications dating back to the 2nd century A.D.

Although parts of the ruins had once been known to 19th-century researchers, they were subsequently misidentified, dismissed and largely forgotten, according to Bill Hanson, a professor of Roman archaeology at the University of Glasgow. In some areas the structures were heavily damaged by ploughing or construction -- even to the point of complete destruction.

University of Leicester (UK) via Science Daily: Lost Tudor Sculptures Reassembled With Help from 3-D Scanning
Sep. 6, 2013

University of Leicester experts have tried to recreate two Tudor monuments using a mixture of humanities research and scientific technology.

The experts have studied two tomb monuments which originally were intended to stand in Thetford Priory, Norfolk, in an exhibition at the Ancient House Museum, Thetford, Norfolk, from 7 September 2013 to 29 March 2014.

The elaborate tombs were planned by Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk – one for himself, and another for Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond.

BBC: Brocton WWI model battlefield excavation to begin
2 September 2013 Last updated at 03:56 ET

An archaeological dig is to take place to uncover a model of a World War I battlefield in Staffordshire which was built as a training aid for soldiers.

The mock up of the village and surrounding area of Messines in Belgium was built in Brocton on Cannock Chase.

It was also maintained as a memorial to soldiers who died in the Battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917.

Staffordshire County Council said after WWI it became a tourist attraction before becoming deserted and overgrown.

BBC: Crashed WWII Spitfire being dug up on Salisbury Plain
3 September 2013 Last updated at 10:51 ET

The remains of a buried Spitfire aircraft shot down over Wiltshire during World War II are being dug up.

In 1940, Pilot Officer Paul Baillon baled out of the aircraft, and the wreckage has been buried in the earth of Salisbury Plain since.

Now a team of archaeologists, injured soldiers and veterans have begun a project to retrieve the wreckage, which is not expected to be recognisable.

The pilot's daughter, Rosemary Baillon, is also on site to watch the work.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


University of the Witswatersrand (South Africa) via Science Daily: Oldest Land-Living Animal from Gondwana Found
Sep. 3, 2013

A postdoctoral fellow from Wits University has discovered the oldest known land-living animal from Gondwana in a remote part of the Eastern Cape. Dr Robert Gess, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits, discovered the 350-million-year-old fossilised scorpion from rocks of the Devonian Witteberg Group near Grahamstown. This unique specimen, which is a new species, has been called Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis.

His discovery has been published in the peer reviewed journal African Invertebrate.
For the first time we know for certain that not just scorpions, but whatever they were preying on were already present in the Devonian. We now know that by the end the Devonian period Gondwana also, like Laurasia, had a complex terrestrial ecosystem, comprising invertebrates and plants which had all the elements to sustain terrestrial vertebrate life that emerged around this time or slightly later," said Gess.

Pennsylvania State University via EurekAlert: Researchers discover rare fossil ape cranium in China

A team of scientists from Penn State, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Arizona State University, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, and the Yunnan Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute has announced a new cranium of a fossil ape from Shuitangba, a Miocene site in Yunnan Province, China.

The new juvenile cranium of the fossil ape Lufengpithecus, recently described online in the Chinese Science Bulletin, is a significant discovery because juvenile crania of apes and hominins are extremely rare in the fossil record, especially those of infants and young juveniles. The new cranium is only the second relatively complete cranium of a young juvenile in the entire Miocene (23-5 million years ago) record of fossil apes throughout the Old World, and both were discovered from the late Miocene of Yunnan Province. The new cranium is also noteworthy for its age. Shuitangba, the site from which it was recovered, at just over 6 million years, dates to near the end of the Miocene, a time when apes had become extinct in most of Eurasia. Shuitangba has also produced remains of the fossil monkey, Mesopithecus, which represents the earliest occurrence of monkeys in East Asia.

"The fossils recovered from Shuitangba constitute one of the most important collections of late Miocene fossils brought to light in recent decades because they represent a snapshot from a critical transitional period in earth history,” said Dr. Nina Jablonski, co-author and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Penn State. “The ape featured in the current paper typifies animals from the lush tropical forests that blanketed much of the world's subtropical and tropical latitudes during the Miocene epoch, while the monkey and some of the smaller mammals exemplify animals from the more seasonal environments of recent times."

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


University of California, Santa Barbara via Science Daily: West Antarctica Ice Sheet Existed 20 Million Years Earlier Than Previously Thought
Sep. 4, 2013

The results of research conducted by professors at UC Santa Barbara and colleagues mark the beginning of a new paradigm for our understanding of the history of Earth's great global ice sheets. The research shows that, contrary to the popularly held scientific view, an ice sheet on West Antarctica existed 20 million years earlier than previously thought.

The findings indicate that ice sheets first grew on the West Antarctic subcontinent at the start of a global transition from warm greenhouse conditions to a cool icehouse climate 34 million years ago. Previous computer simulations were unable to produce the amount of ice that geological records suggest existed at that time because neighboring East Antarctica alone could not support it.

The findings were published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

University of Houston via Science Daily: Scientists Confirm Existence of Largest Single Volcano On Earth
Sep. 5, 2013

A University of Houston (UH) professor led a team of scientists to uncover the largest single volcano yet documented on Earth. Covering an area roughly equivalent to the British Isles or the state of New Mexico, this volcano, dubbed the Tamu Massif, is nearly as big as the giant volcanoes of Mars, placing it among the largest in the Solar System.

William Sager, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at UH, first began studying the volcano about 20 years ago at Texas A&M's College of Geosciences. Sager and his team's findings appear in the Sept. 8 issue of Nature Geoscience, the monthly multi-disciplinary journal reflecting disciplines within the geosciences.
"Tamu Massif is the biggest single shield volcano ever discovered on Earth," Sager said. "There may be larger volcanoes, because there are bigger igneous features out there such as the Ontong Java Plateau, but we don't know if these features are one volcano or complexes of volcanoes.

Seismological Society of America via Science Daily: Iranian Telegraph Operator, First to Propose Earthquake Early Warning System
Sep. 3, 2013

In 1909, an Iranian telegraph operator living in the remote desert town of Kerman noticed an unusual movement of the magnetic needle of his telegraph instrument. While other telegraph operators during the late 1800s and early 1900s noticed the phenomenon, the Iranian telegraph operator proposed an earthquake early warning system, as detailed in an article published today by the journal Seismological Research Letters (SRL).

Nineteenth century telegraph operators in New Zealand, Switzerland, Chile, the Caribbean and elsewhere noted the usefulness of electric telegraph for recording natural phenomena. But the Iranian telegraph operator and cashier, named Yusef (Joseph), took the next step, suggesting the concept of a local earthquake warning system in a Persian newspaper, The New Iran.

He became aware of anomaly in 1897 and put the knowledge to use in 1909, using the six seconds of warning to urge his fellow dwellers to evacuate the building.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

LiveScience via Did Ancient Earth-Chilling Meteor Crash Near Canada?
By Becky Oskin, Staff Writer
September 03, 2013 01:23pm ET

A meteor or comet impact near Quebec heaved a rain of hot melted rock along North America's Atlantic Coast about 12,900 years ago, a new study claims.

Scientists have traced the geochemical signature of the BB-sized spherules that rained down back to their source, the 1.5-billion-year-old Quebecia terrane in northeastern Canada near the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. At the time of the impact, the region was covered by a continental ice sheet, like Antarctica and Greenland are today.

"We have provided evidence for an impact on top of the ice sheet," said study co-author Mukul Sharma, a geochemist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The results were published today (Sept. 2) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) via Science Daily: Cheaper Chinese Solar Panels Are Not Due to Low-Cost Labor
Sep. 5, 2013

A study of the photovoltaic industries in the US and China shows that China's dominance in solar panel manufacturing is not driven solely by cheaper labour and government support, but by larger-scale manufacturing and resulting supply-chain benefits.

But the researchers say a balance could be achieved through future innovations in crystalline solar cell technology, which have the potential to equalise prices by enhancing access to materials and expanding manufacturing scale across all regions.

The study is published today in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science.


Red Orbit: New Microplasma Device Could Potentially Revolutionize Archaeology
September 7, 2013

A team of researchers, including experts from Uppsala University in Sweden have developed a miniature device that they claim could revolutionize the way in which archaeologists date objects they discover in the field.

The instrument in question is being described as a high-tech microplasma source that is capable of exciting matter in a controlled, efficient way. While the device, which is detailed in a paper appearing in the Journal of Applied Physics, could be used in a wide range of applications in harsh environments, the authors claim that it could drastically change the study of artifacts.

The device – which researchers from the university’s Ångström Space Technology Centre (ÅSTC) describe as “a microplasma source based on a stripline split-ring resonator is presented and evaluated in a basic optogalvanic spectrometer” – offers several advantages, including electromagnetic compatibility, an integrated fluidic system, and Langmuir probes for plasma diagnostics.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

New York University: Physicsts find enhanced fluctuations in nanomagnets
September 5, 2013

NYU physicists have discovered that nanomagnets—a billionth of a meter in size—with a preferred up or down magnetization are sensitive to heating or cooling, more than expected.

Their findings, which appear in the journal Physical Review B Rapid Communication, suggest that a widely used model to describe the reversal of nanomagnets needs to be modified to account for temperature-dependent changes in the magnetic properties of the materials.

It is known that nanomagnets never switch at the same field each time – rather, random fluctuations in thermal energy generate a distribution of switching fields. But what’s less clear is the origin of this phenomenon.


University of Alberta (Canada) via Science Daily: Human Urine Metabolome: What Scientists Can See in Your Urine
Sep. 5, 2013

Researchers at the University of Alberta announced today that they have determined the chemical composition of human urine. The study, which took more than seven years and involved a team of nearly 20 researchers, has revealed that more than 3,000 chemicals or "metabolites" can be detected in urine. The results are expected to have significant implications for medical, nutritional, drug and environmental testing.

"Urine is an incredibly complex biofluid. We had no idea there could be so many different compounds going into our toilets," noted David Wishart, the senior scientist on the project.

Wishart's research team used state-of-the-art analytical chemistry techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography to systematically identify and quantify hundreds of compounds from a wide range of human urine samples.

Science Crime Scenes

Al Ahram (Egypt): Reports of missing objects from Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art
Rumors spread about some objects missing from the museum which curators say may be hidden in storage
Nevine El-Aref
Friday 6 Sep 2013

Within Egypt’s archaeological community, reports are circulating about objects missing from the collections of the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo.

Some reports suggest that during an inventory at the museum, curators found that seven bronze artefacts were missing. The missing objects are said to be two statues, an incense burner, a key inlaid with silver decoration, a pot, a jewellery box and an astrolabe.

A curator who asked to be anonymous said that the objects may have gone missing during the museum renovation four years ago and may be hidden in storage.

The Art Newspaper: Farmers bulldoze ancient tombs in Libya to sell plots to developers
The country’s fragile political situation leaves authorities unable to intervene
By Emily Sharpe. Web only
Published online: 04 September 2013

Several ancient tombs at a Unesco World Heritage Site in northeastern Libya have been bulldozed to clear space for a residential complex. Local farmers, who have laid claim to part of the vast necropolis at Cyrene, began demolishing a mile-long section of the site last week in the hope of selling 500 sq. m parcels to real estate developers. Although the proper authorities have been notified, the country’s current fragile political situation has left them unable to intervene.

“Ancient artefacts were thrown into a nearby river as if they were mere rubbish,” Ahmed Hussein, an archaeology professor at Bayda University, told France 24.He says that around “200 vaults and tombs were destroyed, as well as a section of a viaduct that dates back to approximately AD200.” The ancient Greek colony, which was founded in the seventh century BC, is described by Unesco as “one of the principal cities in the Hellenic world” and its necropolis is considered one of the largest and most varied of its kind. The site is one of Libya’s five World Heritage Sites.

The Detroit News: Artifact sold in Michigan, recovered by Detroit agents returned to South Korea
Candice Williams
The Detroit News
September 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm

A recovered stolen cultural artifact from South Korea that Detroit homeland security agents helped find has been returned, officials announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit returned the Hojo currency plate, looted during the Korean War from the Deoksu Palace in Seoul. The South Korean government received the plate Tuesday during a repatriation ceremony, marking the first time ICE has returned a cultural artifact to the country.

The Hojo currency plate dates back to 1893 during the Joseon Dynasty. It is one of only three in existence.

L.A. Times: Human remains believed uncovered in search at Florida boys school
By Matt Hamilton
September 1, 2013, 9:00 a.m.

The first of many to die at a Florida reform school infamous for inflicting beatings and abuse is identified in official records only as “Unknown colored boy.”

Researchers say he died in 1911. But his name, final resting place, and the reason for his early death remain a mystery.

He’s not alone.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

Deutsche Welle (German Broadcasting): UK treasure hunters make archeologists see red
5 September 2013

With a metal detector and some luck, hobbyist treasure hunters in the UK can end up owning highly valuable artifacts. But archeologists are speaking out against treasure hunting, saying it damages key historical traces.

Hobbyists scavenging for ancient jewelry or a cache of Roman coins are an increasingly common sight in the UK's countryside. With some enthusiasts having unearthed thousands of pounds worth of treasure, the lure of heading out with a metal detector can be potent.

Historical artifacts, including coins, old tools and weaponry, turn up with some regularity among the thousands of objects dug up each year. But hobbyists have been so successful that some archeologists are accusing them of looting Britain's heritage. Some even want the practice banned.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech creates Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience
Sept. 6, 2013

Virginia Tech has announced a presidential initiative, the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience, to bridge public policy and practice in the broad domain of community resiliency.

“We live in an interconnected and complicated world. This initiative aims to foster interaction among varied disciplines that contribute to global understanding of resilient communities,” said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger.

In concert with the most recent university strategic plan that calls for expansion of work in the realm of interdisciplinary and translational research, the new group will serve as an information nexus for organizations around the globe looking at disaster response and recovery, critical infrastructure, and urbanization.

Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech and partner universities to study problems in broadband wireless access and security
Sept. 4, 2013

Virginia Tech is part of a five university member group being funded by the National Science Foundation to expand access to and security of the nation’s broadband wireless network. The university consortium will work with private industry as it carries out research.

The consortium is the latest effort of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering as it remains a leading national research institute of wireless technologies and cyber security, critical to the nation’s economy and security.

Virginia Tech will receive $300,000 during a five-year period for its research efforts in the public/private consortium known as the Broadband Wireless Access & Applications Center, or BWAC for short. Joining Virginia Tech in the consortium are Auburn University, Notre Dame University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Virginia.

Science Education

Xinhua via China Economic Net: Tourists invited for relics restoration in Xi'an
Last Updated: 2013-09-06 10:00 | Xinhua

Visitors to the ancient city of Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, now have a chance to do relics repair themselves as a local museum is inviting the public to participate in a "cultural relics surgery" activity.

Shaanxi History Museum is breaking with convention to allow members of the public to help with restoration work like pottery and carving repairs under the instruction of experts.

"Restoration work can be so delicate that a drop of sweat can hurt a bronze item. Visitors mostly only participate in easy work like checking and matching fragments. Difficult work, like using chemical elements to coat relics stay in the hands of experts," said bronze ware expert Fu Wenbin.

Brown Daily Herald:Alaska dig unearths old potential Arctic trade routes
Clues found during the anthropological excavation reveal new information on Native American trade
By Isobel Heck
Senior Staff Writer

Professor of Anthropology Douglas Anderson’s relationship with the local people of Kiana, Alas., helped the team’s excavation process progress.

This summer, Professor of Anthropology Douglas Anderson led the first research-driven excavation of Native American human remains from a national park as part of a three-year-old archaeological dig.

He, along with scientists from a myriad of other fields, have worked to excavate the site of what was once a regional capital of Northwest Alaska, said Edward Cleofe ’15, who worked with Anderson this summer.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Auburn University: NSA names Auburn University a center of excellence in cyber operations
September 6, 2013

Auburn University is one of four universities selected by the National Security Agency to carry the designation of a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations. Joining Auburn are Carnegie Mellon University, Mississippi State University and the Air Force Institute of Technology.

The program is designed to cultivate more U.S. cyber professionals in an ever-changing global environment.

“Auburn has devoted significant resources and interdisciplinary rigor across campus to expand new cyber initiatives and extensive collaboration with external organizations,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs at Auburn.

New York University: Steinhardt's Bentley developes TED Studies curriculum on "sustainable consumption" for Western diet
September 5, 2013

Half of all Americans consider environmental impacts when deciding whether or not to buy a product, according to a survey released this summer by Yale and George Mason universities.

But we show greater dedication to a method of food consumption that runs afoul of the best sustainability practices: the Standard American, or Western, Diet.

“Westerners are eating enormous quantities of sugar, beef, chicken, wheat and dairy products, and washing it all down with an amazing array of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages,” writes NYU Steinhardt’s Amy Bentley, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health. “Americans in particular consume over twice the amount of solid fats and added sugars recommended for daily intake, and they consume far fewer fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains than those who lived in earlier eras—and less than experts recommend for optimal health.”

University of Virginia: First Cohort of U.Va. Female Scientists and Scholars Receives Career-Enhancing Grants
Anne E. Bromley
September 5, 2013

The birth of stars. Gender and globalization. Municipal wastewater treatment. Surface reactions of nanostructures. These are the research areas of the first four female scientists and social scientists to receive grants from the University of Virginia’s National Science Foundation-supported ADVANCE Program.

Two faculty members from the College of Arts & Sciences – Rachel Rinaldo, assistant professor of sociology, and Kelsey Johnson, associate professor of astronomy – and two from the School of Engineering and Applied Science – Lisa Colosi Peterson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Petra Reinke, associate professor of materials science and engineering – are the first recipients of the fellowships, which will help them strengthen research networks and collaborations and advance their careers at critical junctions.

The program aims to support the representation and advancement of women in academic science, technology, engineering and math – referred to as “STEM” fields – and social, behavioral and economic science, or SBE, careers.

Science Writing and Reporting

Virginia Commonwealth University: Extra steps to influence worldwide research and care
By Eric Peters
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013

Tod Brindle, a nurse clinician at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, doesn’t have a research job.

“Most of us operate within a framework of carrots and sticks - mentors, department chairs, benchmarks, protected time, yearly checkups, ‘K’ awards, mock study sections, promotion and advancement linked to publication, tenure shimmering in the distance - an entire mechanism to try to nurture our research careers,” said Jacob Wegelin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics, VCU School of Medicine. “Mr. Brindle, by contrast, enjoys none of these benefits.”

“And with all of his comparative research disadvantages, he has achieved what many of us can only dream of.”

Despite this apparent research disadvantage, Brindle and Wegelin published research in 2012 that is now being recognized as the foundation for subsequent worldwide literature and the basis for protecting patients from injury across the globe.

Science is Cool

Lancaster Online: Enjoy ancient beers that are fresh
What Ales Ya: Ancient recipes
Staff Writer
Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era
Sep 04, 2013 06:00

"Ancient Ales."

The term has a ring to it.

It's a marketing name given to a series of products made by Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery, but it does carry some weight; a sort of archaeological panache.

The beers in question — the line has expanded to include six bottled products — are brewed according to recipes cobbled together by conducting chemical analysis of ancient pottery fragments.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 08:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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