Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment. In keeping with the theme of the past four months, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday is featuring science and other news from the major public research universities in the midwestern states where Republican governors and legislatures are threatening the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
This week's featured story comes from Netroots Nation Video on YouTube.
Van Jones, American Dream Movement.
Netroots Nation, 2011
More science, space, and environment stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Watch this space!
Newborn Star Shooting Water Into Interstellar Space
the Daily Bucket - Grapes and Parsley
by enhydra lutris
This week in science
NASA Television on YouTube: New pictures and data about the growth of supermassive black holes in galaxies of the early universe join new findings about the planet Mercury are highlighted, along with a look ahead to the final shuttle flight and other NASA events, programs and projects of interest.
Mother Jones: US Gas Is Artificially Cheap: What We Don't Pay for at the Pump
— By Sarah Terry-Cobo
| Tue Jun. 14, 2011 1:32 PM PDT
California has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Consequently, it has some of the strictest rules for gasoline, meaning it burns cleaner than it does in many other states. But cleaner fuels are more expensive.
Clean air requirements, combined with supply and refining constraints, make the price of California gas consistently among the highest in the nation. Turmoil in the Middle East is another factor that pushes up the global price of crude oil. Even though the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in California fluctuates around $4, some experts argue that $4 a gallon is much less than the real cost.
Watch an animated video, produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting, that explores the "external costs" of gas consumption–including the price of pollution and health problems caused by it:
University of Michigan professor John Jonides shares his findings that show one can train their brain and increase short-term memory.
University of Michigan: Brain training can boost kids' intelligence
June 14, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Children who "train" their brain to increase memory can also boost their abilities to solve problems and reason, a new University of Michigan study indicated.
Those abilities, which are called fluid intelligence, are thought to be predictors of educational success. Researchers have long debated whether fluid intelligence can be sustainably improved by training.
In a study involving 62 elementary and middle school children from southeast Michigan, the researchers tested whether training aimed at boosting working memory, which allows people to store and retrieve small amounts of information over brief periods, can improve fluid intelligence. Susanne Jaeggi, Martin Buschkuehl, John Jonides and Priti Shah, all researchers in the U-M Department of Psychology, conducted the study.
Berridge lab video 2010 show the similarity between the tasting of a baby and a rat.
University of Michigan: Sweet temptation: Brain signals amplify desire for sugary treats
June 13, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The next time you are craving sweets, blame it on your brain.
The brain receiving amplified signals can trigger an intense desire to satisfy a sweet tooth with sugary foods, a new University of Michigan study shows.
Researchers studied how intense desires and pleasures for sweet treats are affected by brain neurochemicals and brain activity signals. Temptation grows when a person is hungry or stressed, and some people may experience especially intense temptations and be more vulnerable to overconsumption.
University of Michigan: X-ray telescope finds new voracious black holes in early universe
June 15, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Using the deepest X-ray image ever taken, a University of Michigan astronomer and her colleagues have found the first direct evidence that massive black holes were common in the early universe. This discovery from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows that very young black holes grew more aggressively than previously thought, in tandem with the growth of their host galaxies.
By pointing Chandra at a patch of sky for over six weeks, astronomers obtained what is known as the Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS). When combined with very deep optical and infrared images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the new Chandra data allowed astronomers to search for black holes in 200 distant galaxies, from when the universe was between about 800 million and 950 million years old.
"We had reason to expect that black holes existed in many of the very first galaxies, but they had evaded our searches until now. When I compared Chandra's data to my theoretical models I was stunned by their agreement. It's the dream of any theoretician," said Marta Volonteri, a U-M associate professor of astronomy and co-author of the study that appears in this week's Nature.
Ohio State University: ‘NETWORKING’ TURNS UP FLU VIRUSES WITH CLOSE TIES TO PANDEMIC OF 2009
June 13, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists using new mathematical and computational techniques have identified six influenza A viruses that have particularly close genetic relationships to the H1N1 “swine” flu virus that swept through the United States beginning in the spring of 2009. That virus eventually killed almost 18,000 people worldwide.
Biological studies focused on these strains of influenza virus could shed light on how the 2009 pandemic strain of influenza emerged, aiding in efforts to forestall another pandemic, the researchers say.
Five of these viruses were isolated from pigs, and the sixth had infected a human who worked with hogs.
The researchers arrived at these strains by using powerful computers to analyze the relationships between the genomes of more than 5,000 strains of influenza A that have been isolated over several decades and recently sequenced. Rather than using the conventional approach of constructing phylogenetic trees that illustrate organisms’ hypothetical ancestors, these scientists set up a network that captured paths leading from previously observed viruses to contemporary viruses.
Science News: Dino proteins could have been sheltered
Analysis of collagen structure backs up claims of preserved tissue finds
By Rachel Ehrenberg
Web edition : Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Reports in recent years of soft dinosaur tissue from fossil bones of a T. rex and a duck-billed hadrosaur elicited skepticism from the scientific community. But a new analysis of the bits of protein that survived supports claims of ancient origins.
The same kinds of collagen building blocks extracted from the dinosaur fossils are found in sheltered, physically protected areas of collagen fibers in rats and humans, researchers report online June 8 in PLoS ONE.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - One of the world's most destructive wheat pathogens is genetically built to evade detection before infecting its host, according to a study that mapped the genome of the fungus.
Stephen Goodwin, a Purdue and U.S. Department of Agriculture research plant pathologist, was the principal author on the effort to sequence the genome of the fungus Mycosphaerella graminicola, which causes septoria tritici blotch, a disease that greatly reduces yield and quality in wheat. Surprisingly, Goodwin said, the fungus had fewer genes related to production of enzymes that many other fungi use to penetrate and digest surfaces of plants while infecting them.
"We're guessing that the low number of enzymes is to avoid detection by plant defenses," said Goodwin, whose findings were published in the early online edition of the journal PLoS Genetics.
Michigan State University: Researchers take new approach to trapping apple pest
June 16, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University entomologist and AgBioResearch scientist Larry Gut has found a new way to improve codling moth – the infamous "worm in the apple" – management techniques for Michigan’s fruit growers.
"With the current strategies, growers haven't been absolutely confident in knowing where codling moth populations are in their orchards," Gut said. "The pheromone traps currently in use have become the standard for trapping codling moth, but growers weren’t always seeing a correlation between the number caught in the traps and what was actually happening in the orchard."
Gut's lab created and tested more than a dozen different traps of varying sizes, shapes and orientation to see what made a codling moth males preferred. What they found effective was changing the trap orientation to hanging perpendicular to a tree, while working with trap designs in the laboratory flight tunnel (where the pests are flying about freely in a controlled area and closely monitored). This novel approach, coupled with a newer, smaller trap design, resulted in a trap that not only attracted the pest, it captured nearly 100 percent of the male codling moths that made contact with it.
Purdue University: Salivating over wheat plants may net Hessian flies big meal or death
June 14, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The interaction between a Hessian fly's saliva and the wheat plant it is attacking may be the key to whether the pest eats like a king or dies like a starving pauper, according to a study done at Purdue University.
"The insect induces or suppresses susceptibility in the plant," said Christie Williams, a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and a Purdue associate professor of entomology. "It's not that the fly larva is making holes and retrieving nutrients as once thought. The larva is doing something chemically to change the plant."
Williams and a team of entomologists found that Hessian flies, which cause millions of dollars in damage to U.S. wheat crops each year, trigger one of two responses in plants: the plants either put up strong defenses to essentially starve the fly or succumb, releasing essential nutrients to the fly. Their findings were published in the early online release of the Journal of Experimental Botany.
Michigan State University: Special guest: Male lion undergoes MRI at Michigan State University
June 17, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Under security escort, a 6-year-old, 490-pound African male lion was taken today from Grand Rapids' John Ball Zoo to Michigan State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital - with a pit stop at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing - for an MRI and ultrasound.
Docha, who has been at the John Ball Zoo since he was 2 years old, has had several seizure-like episodes during the past year, and zoo veterinary staff could not pinpoint a cause. After consulting with animal care experts, the staff decided to utilize MSU's large-animal, open-bore MRI, the first ever at an academic institution.
The magnetic resonance imaging machine has a 70-centimeter opening that is nearly 50 percent larger than the standard MRI and allows doctors and researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine to analyze larger animals, typically horses and cows. But today the patient was Docha, who typically shares his exhibit, Lions of Lake Manyara, with two female sister lions.
University of Michigan: Heightened immunity to colds makes asthma flare-ups worse, U-M research shows
Tempering the immune response - rather than enhancing it - in asthma patients might be a better strategy when combating cold symptoms
June 16, 2011
People often talk about “boosting” their immunity to prevent and fight colds. Nutritional supplements, cold remedies and fortified foods claim to ward off colds by augmenting the immune system.
A new University of Michigan study shows this strategy might actually be flawed. The results may hold important implications for individuals with asthma, who often experience life-threatening flare-ups due to infections with cold viruses.
The study, using a novel mouse model, shows that, in the airways, the immune response to the common cold is actually maladaptive. Mice that were engineered to have a reduced innate immune response to the common cold actually showed less - not more - airway inflammation and bronchoconstriction (airway spasm) following infection.
Indiana University: Researchers report progress using iPS cells to reverse blindness
June 15, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- Researchers have used cutting-edge stem cell technology to correct a genetic defect present in a rare blinding disorder, another step on a promising path that may one day lead to therapies to reverse blindness caused by common retinal diseases such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa which affect millions of individuals.
Human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be directed to develop into light-sensing photoreceptor cells in the retina. It is hoped that these cells can be used to better understand and treat human disease affecting the visual system.
In a study appearing in an advance online publication of the journal Stem Cells today (June 15), investigators used recently developed technology to generate induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from a human patient with an uncommon inherited eye disease known as gyrate atrophy. This disorder affects retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, the cells critical to the support of the retina's photoreceptor cells, which function in the transmission of messages from the retina to parts of the brain that interpret images.
"When we generate iPS cells, correct the gene defect that is responsible for this disease, and guide these stem cells to become RPE cells, these RPE cells functioned normally. This is exciting because it demonstrates we can fix something that is out of order. It also supports our belief that in the future, one might be able to use this approach for replacement of cells lost or malfunctioning due to other more common diseases of the retina," said lead study author cell biologist Jason Meyer, assistant professor of biology in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Ohio State University: WALKING, SEX AND SPICY FOOD ARE FAVORED UNPRESCRIBED METHODS TO BRING ON LABOR
June 16, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – More than half of the women in a recently published survey reported that near the end of their pregnancies, they took it upon themselves to try to induce labor, mostly by walking, having sex, eating spicy food or stimulating their nipples.
Of the 201 women who responded to the survey at a Midwestern hospital, 102, or 50.7 percent, used these or other unprescribed methods to try to bring on labor. Other techniques they tried included exercise, laxative use, acupuncture, masturbation and herbal supplementation.
Women who tried these techniques tended to be younger, having their first baby and pregnant beyond 39 weeks.
Ohio State University: SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY KEY COMPONENT IN LETHAL LUNG CANCER COMPLICATION
June 13, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A protein previously thought not to exist in adult human lungs not only is present in normal and cancerous lung tissue, scientists have found, but it also has a major role in the development of a lethal complication of some lung cancers.
The protein, called the calcium-sensing receptor, sits on the surface of lung cancer cells that make up tumors known as squamous-cell carcinomas, according to new research.
As these tumors grow, the receptor releases a hormone that sets off a biological cycle that leads to the erosion of bone throughout the body. When the bone breaks down, calcium is released. The excess calcium that can’t be filtered by kidneys cycles back to the receptors, which release more of the damaging hormone. That same hormone promotes the growth and spread of cancer.
The result is a syndrome called hypercalcemia, a debilitating disorder that signals lung cancer patients will survive only about three more months and eventually leads to acute multi-organ system failure.
Michigan State University: Managing Johne’s disease by focusing on calves
June 17, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Focusing on the calf is the most important message for all dairy and beef producers when it comes to controlling Johne’s disease in their herds.
This was the conclusion of Michigan State University researchers and MSU Extension specialists after conducting field research and evaluating Johne’s disease control strategies for close to a decade in Michigan herds as part of the Michigan Johne’s Disease Control Demonstration Project. The objective of the work was to identify which management practices are the most effective at controlling the spread of Johne’s disease.
Dan Grooms, veterinarian, Food Animal Division head in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and the lead researcher on the project, summarized the findings in four words: focus on the calf.
Johne's disease is a contagious and untreatable disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, or MAP. Though infection typically occurs in calves, animals generally don’t express clinical signs of the disease until later in life.
Queen's University Belfast (UK) via EurekAlert: Northern Ireland hay-fever sufferers to breathe more easily thanks to Queen's
Local hay fever sufferers will breathe more easily following the news that Northern Ireland's only air pollen sampler has been installed at Queen's University Belfast in association with the Met Office.
The new pollen trap, sited on the roof of the Queen's School of Geography, Archaeology & Palaeoecology, is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland. Up until now the Met Office has been relying on pollen readings from Edinburgh to determine the pollen forecast here. The new pollen trap will provide Northern Ireland with its own more accurate readings.
Using the newly installed equipment at Queen's, data will be collected once a day and reported to the Met Office who will combine the information with their weather forecasts to produce the Northern Ireland pollen forecast for the next five days.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Michigan: Researchers predict record Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' due to Mississippi River flooding
June 14, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Extreme flooding of the Mississippi River this spring is expected to result in the largest Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" on record, according to a University of Michigan aquatic ecologist and his colleagues.
The 2011 forecast, released today by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls for a Gulf dead zone of between 8,500 and 9,421 square miles, an area roughly the size of New Hampshire.
The most likely 2011 scenario, according to U-M's Donald Scavia, is a Gulf dead zone of at least 8,500 square miles, surpassing the current record of 8,400 square miles, set in 2002. The average over the past five years is about 6,000 square miles.
Mother Jones: How the West Was Lost
The American West in flames.
— By Chip Ward
Thu Jun. 16, 2011 4:50 PM PDT
Arizona is burning. Texas, too. New Mexico is next. If you need a grim reminder that an already arid West is burning up and blowing away, here it is. As I write this, more than 700 square miles of Arizona and more than 4,300 square miles of Texas have been swept by monster wildfires. Consider those massive columns of acrid smoke drifting eastward as a kind of smoke signal warning us that a globally warming world is not a matter of some future worst-case scenario. It's happening right here, right now.
Air tankers have been dropping fire retardant on what is being called the Wallow fire in Arizona and firefighting crews have been mobilized from across the West, but the fire remained "zero contained" for most of last week and only 18% so early in the new week, too big to touch with mere human tools like hoses, shovels, saws, and bulldozers. Walls of flame 100 feet high rolled over the land like a tsunami from Hades. The heat from such a fire is so intense and immense that it can create small tornadoes of red embers that cannot be knocked down and smothered by water or chemicals. These are not your grandfather's forest fires.
These past few years, mega-fires in the West have become ever more routine. Though their estimates and measurements may vary, the experts who study these phenomena all agree that wildfires today are bigger, last longer, and are more frequent. A big fire used to burn perhaps 30 square miles. Today, wildfires regularly scorch 150-square-mile areas.
Global warming, global weirding, climate change—whatever you prefer to call it—is not just happening in some distant, melting Arctic land out of a storybook. It is not just burning up far-away Russia. It's here now.
Irish Central:Were Ireland and Britain once joined by a land bridge?
Northern Ireland-based researchers go underwater to discover whether we could have walked to Britain in the past
By JANE WALSH
An international team of researchers led by University of Ulster Professor Andrew Cooper is about to embark on a voyage of underwater discovery that will establish whether Ireland was ever joined to Britain by a land bridge.
The aim of the three year project is to determine just how far sea level fell in the Irish Sea during the last Ice Age and how changing land levels, ice sheets and global climate change affected it. Of particular local interest is whether sea level fell so far that Ireland was joined to Britain by dry land.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Michigan: Non-invasive brain implant could someday translate thoughts into movement
June 16, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A brain implant developed at the University of Michigan uses the body's skin like a conductor to wirelessly transmit the brain's neural signals to control a computer, and may eventually be used to reactivate paralyzed limbs.
The implant is called the BioBolt, and unlike other neural interface technologies that establish a connection from the brain to an external device such as a computer, it's minimally invasive and low power, said principal investigator Euisik Yoon, a professor in the U-M College of Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
University of Michigan: Nanoparticles may help inhibit Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders
June 13, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Nanoparticles of the right dimensions and shape may be the key in combating the plaque that destroys neurons and leads to symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease, a new report shows.
University of Michigan chemical engineering professor Nicholas Kotov says the nanotechnology means can attract and capture the longer fibrils that are known to form plaque related to neurodegenerative disorders.
"Both amyloid peptides and nanoparticles exhibit a strong ability to self-assemble into fibrils," Kotov said. "We were open to any possible effect of nanoparticles on the amyloid fibrillation. We were very pleased to see amazing inhibitory effect on amyloids fibrillation which opens the door for new approaches to the development of drugs to prevent Alzheimer's disease."
Cumberland Times-News: Unearthing history at Potomac River’s North Branch
Michael A. Sawyers Cumberland Times-News
PINTO — Acting like a prehistoric real estate agent, Roy Brown swept his arm across the fields bordered by state Route 956 and the North Branch of the Potomac River and proclaimed “Location, location, location is everything,” as he explained that humans have occupied that site for 12,000 years.
Inch by inch, weekend by weekend, year by year, Brown, president of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Maryland, learns a little more about the Native Americans and others who inhabited the river’s bottom.
Standing knee-deep in an excavation pit Thursday, Brown brushed dirt from a hearth.
“You can see the charcoal and even kernels of corn,” Brown said, adding that an observer should not be fooled into thinking that the deer bones were part of the dinner cooked on the hearth.
University of Cambridge (UK) via physorg.com: Island of broken figurines
June 13, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- Why were Bronze Age figurines smashed, transported and buried in shallow pits on the Aegean island of Keros? New research sheds light on a 4,500-year-old mystery.
On a June morning in 1963 Colin Renfrew stepped from a caïque boat onto the scrub-covered Aegean Island of Keros on the basis of a tip-off. In search of material for his graduate studies, the young Cambridge graduate had been intrigued by rumors of a recent looting of the almost uninhabited island relayed to him by a Greek archaeologist.
Sure enough, evidence of looting abounded. As he reported back to the Greek Archaeological Service, on whose permit he had been surveying the Greek Cycladic islands, smashed marble statues and bowls and broken pottery lay scattered over the hillside.
Despite the destruction, it was clear that the fragments were Early Cycladic, an interesting find in itself. In fact, as he was to discover, he had also stumbled upon the first evidence of an astonishing Bronze Age ritual.
Harvard University via physorg.com: History shines through the glass
By Alvin Powell
June 14, 2011
“All glass is beautiful,” Belgian researcher Patrick Degryse said, gently turning a delicate, Roman-era vessel, its bluish sheen glowing under the fluorescent lights of the Semitic Museum’s basement collections.
Degryse, a research professor from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, was on one of his twice-yearly pilgrimages to Harvard to examine the Semitic Museum’s archaeological collections. Degryse is one of several international researchers investigating the properties of ancient glass and other materials to understand more about where and how they were manufactured and what the background says about their makers.
Together with Katherine Eremin, the Patricia Cornwall Conservation Scientist at the Harvard Art Museums’ Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Degryse is examining Roman-era glass to reconstruct trade patterns, looking at associated collections at the museums, which hold items of an artistic nature. He is also meeting with Eremin to discuss progress on a project to investigate glass from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nuzi, which was destroyed in 1,350 B.C. The site is in modern Iraq.
Though less spectacular than the far younger Roman specimens, the glass from Nuzi is in some ways the crown jewel of the ancient glass collection, according to Joseph Greene, assistant director of the Semitic Museum.
Excavated in the 1930s by an international team that included Harvard archaeologist Richard Starr, who was associated with the Fogg Museum of Art, the Nuzi finds were divided between the Semitic Museum, which received historic-era materials, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, which received prehistoric items, and the Harvard Art Museums, which received items created as art. At the Semitic Museum, the Nuzi glass collection has something going for it that some similar collections do not: clay tablets.
Archeology News Network: Flashback: Archaeologists find suspected Trojan war-era couple
Posted by TANN
Archaeologists in the ancient city of Troy in Turkey have found the remains of a man and a woman believed to have died in 1,200 B.C., the time of the legendary war chronicled by Homer, a leading German professor said on Tuesday.
Ernst Pernicka, a University of Tubingen professor of archaeometry who is leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey, said the bodies were found near a defense line within the city built in the late Bronze age.
The Guardian (UK): Shock and awe: Nijmegen helmet gives Carlisle museum a boost
Tullie House – which missed out on Crosby Garrett helmet – says saga has helped secure display items
The beautiful face with lips slightly parted and a shimmering androgynous appearance is eerily familiar. It could be the cousin of the world-famous Crosby Garrett helmet, which a small museum in Cumbria raised an astonishing £1.7m for last year, only to be outbid at auction, sparking a continuing controversy over protection for major archaeological finds in Britain.
Tullie House museum in Carlisle is being loaned the Nijmegen helmet for the opening of its new Roman gallery next week. It is one of the treasures of the Valkhof museum, at Nijmegen in the Netherlands where it was excavated, but they agreed the loan without hesitation. Other loans are coming to the gallery from the British Museum, and private collectors.
Like the Crosby Garrett, the Nijmegen helmet is silvered with gilt eyelids and lips: it would have given the wearer an unearthly beauty.
Haaretz (Israel): Archaeologists unearth Acre church from the Byzantine Period
Discovery of public structure in north Israel city is breakthrough, first time Christian structure has been unearthed in Acre, a city said to have been highly influential in early years of Christianity.
By Jack Khoury
The Israel Antiquities Authority has had a breakthrough discovery, unearthing a public structure from the time of the Byzantine Empire in the northern Israeli city of Acre.
The structure is about 1,500 years-old and it is believed to have served as a church. The structure was uncovered during a rescue excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority following an unauthorized dig in the area that uncovered the structure.
The excavation was done approximately 100 meters west of a mound located in the eastern part of Acre, close to the area in which the future Azrieli shopping mall is being built.
Northwestern University via Red Orbit: Science Explains Ancient Copper Artifacts
Posted on: Wednesday, 15 June 2011, 08:41 CDT
Researchers reveal how prehistoric Native Americans of Cahokia made copper artifacts
By Erin White, Northwestern University
Northwestern University researchers ditched many of their high-tech tools and turned to large stones, fire and some old-fashioned elbow grease to recreate techniques used by Native American coppersmiths who lived more than 600 years ago.
This prehistoric approach to metalworking was part of a metallurgical analysis of copper artifacts left behind by the Mississippians of the Cahokia Mounds, who lived in southwestern Illinois from 700 until 1400 A.D. The study was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science in May.
The Williamsburg Daily Press: Jamestown dig probes historic church and Civil War earthwork
By Mark St. John Erickson, email@example.com | 247-4783
8:11 p.m. EDT, June 10, 2011
JAMES CITY —— When archaeologist William Kelso began digging at Jamestown in 1994, few historians gave him much chance of finding the long-lost English fort of 1607.
Most believed the pioneering outpost had disappeared into the James River by the 1800s. Some noted that Kelso himself was among several luckless archaeologists who had probed the site before and come away empty handed.
But 17 years after first sinking their shovels into the soil, Kelso and his team have not only found the "Holy Grail" of American archaeology but also rewritten the story of the nation's first permanent English settlement.
KSMU Radio: Drury Archaeologist Discovers Civil War Era Munitions on Campus
Written by Sam Crowe
Two months ago, Dr. Monty Dobson, a visiting assistant professor of history at Drury University, and a group of about 40 students began excavating a site on campus where they believed a defensive trench dating back to the Civil War might be hiding just below the surface. And now a new find has confirmed the date of that trench. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe reports.
Dobson has been digging in front of Burnham Hall for a couple of months now. Along the way he has found artifacts like a 1954 penny, iron stone pottery and glass dating back to pre-World War one. But a recent discovery of a piece of munitions called a grape shot, part of a buck and ball cartridge used during the Civil War, has allowed him to confirm the date of the trench. Dobson said since archaeologists know very little about Civil War trenches like this one in Springfield, this dig is unique.
Washington Post: U-Md. archaelogists in Annapolis use a trowel to understand the past
By Patricia Sullivan, Thursday, June 16, 2:14 PM
Squatting in a 4-by-5-foot dirt pit, the former site of a backyard privy, University of Maryland students Justin Uehlein and Sophia Chang carefully scrape deeper into the fine, brown soil of Annapolis.
They are looking for glass, pottery, discarded household goods — anything that will help their archaeological team understand how a middle-class African American family fared here during the Civil War and beyond.
Bit by bit, the story of a family is excavated. A toothbrush missing its bristles, broken ceramic plates, tiny painted figurines, a carved pipe bowl, a domino: Those are among the 10,000 items painstakingly retrieved from the privy, a dirt kitchen floor and a trash pile.
“What we’re trying to do is make an African American history of Annapolis out of archaeology,” said Mark P. Leone, the U-Md. professor who directs the 30-year-old Archaeology in Annapolis program.
Marco Eagle: Volunteers sought for historic cemetery research
By Renee Wilson
Rookery Bay Coastal Training Specialist
Shortly after the southern Homestead Act began encouraging Americans to rebuild the south, a pioneer settlement called The Little Marco Settlement appeared between Naples and Marco Island. Located along the banks of Henderson Creek and Hall Bay, from Shell Island to Little Marco Island, dozens of homesteads formed this waterfront community in the 1880s, pre-dating the City of Naples. People primarily made a living off the richness of the estuary: Catching fish, harvesting shellfish, and also growing small plots of winter vegetables.
As in many rural communities, these islanders laid their loved ones to rest on high ground on the mainland near what is now known as Shell Island Road. This historic cemetery is one of the unique cultural resources of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The cemetery rests many of the Kirkland family pioneering ancestors, and several descendants still reside in the area today. The Kirklands were among the first families to establish a homestead along Henderson Creek, and purchased their 100-acre site for about $25 in 1899.
The Herald: Bones found at Oak Harbor road construction site likely are ‘historic,’ coroner says
By Rikki King, Herald Writer
OAK HARBOR -- A construction crew at an Oak Harbor road project was surprised Thursday morning when workers uncovered human bones on the site.
The bones were later determined to be historic remains, and likely American Indian, officials said.
The section of SE Pioneer Way in downtown Oak Harbor has been under construction for several months, city engineer Eric Johnston said. The bones were found around 8:30 a.m.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
Science News: Science of friction is a bit rough
Lab experiments show limitations of classical equations
By Devin Powell
Web edition : Friday, June 17th, 2011
It’s no wonder earthquakes are so difficult to predict. Even simple laboratory simulations of the friction breakdowns that send tectonic plates lurching into motion are maddeningly difficult to explain.
By playing with plastic blocks that stick and slip much like rock, physicists are challenging centuries-old ideas about the nature of friction itself. Seemingly unimportant differences at small scales can have big consequences, an Israeli team reports in an upcoming Physical Review Letters.
“If you want to know how hard you have to push a specific object [to overcome friction], and you want to know to high precision, right now we don’t know what the answer is,” says Jay Fineberg, a physicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Science News: It lives and lases
Coherent light from a cell
By Devin Powell
Web edition : Sunday, June 12th, 2011
The first living laser is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a single cell pulsing with light that may lead to new ways of probing microscopic realms.
And maybe — just maybe — laser bunnies.
The secret to the cell’s splendor is called green fluorescent protein, or GFP, researchers report online June 12 in Nature Photonics.
Science News: New technique spins superlong nanowires
Fibers are millionths of a millimeter across and kilometers long
By Rachel Ehrenberg
Web edition : Monday, June 13th, 2011
In a feat that puts Rumpelstiltskin to shame, scientists have spun a multitude of high tech materials into bundles of superfine nanowires that are more than 1000 meters long. The new technique, reported online June 12 in Nature Materials, easily produces uniform, orderly arrays of gossamer-thin materials that could have broad use in sensors, energy-harvesting devices and medical diagnostics.
It’s not often that the prefixes nano and kilo, which span 12 orders of magnitude, come together, says study leader Mehmet Bayindir of the Institute of Materials Science and Nanotechnology at Bilkent University in Turkey. But a modern take on the spinning wheel allowed Bayindir and his team to draw nano threads that are mere billionths of a meter across out to kilometer lengths.
The work is another step forward in science’s mastery of tiny materials for big, bold applications. While there has been a lot of success in fabricating nanosized materials from similarly small ingredients, it has been harder to trim big bulky starting materials down to nanosize. This spring, MIT researchers successfully created semiconducting wires embedded in a fiber by tweaking a top-down setup that’s employed in industry to make spools of polyester.
Michigan State University: Next-generation MSU biofuel technology wins U.S. scale-up support
June 17, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — A $4.3 million competitive federal grant will help scale up advanced biofuel technology developed by a Michigan State University researcher.
Bruce Dale, professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU, developed a method to turn agricultural waste and nonfood plants into material easily processed into biofuel and chemicals. The Michigan Biotechnology Institute, or MBI, will use U.S. Department of Energy funding to step up Dale’s process from lab bench scale to a 100-fold larger working prototype.
“This grant is focused on understanding how we deploy these technologies in the real world,” said Doug Gage, director of the MSU BioEconomy Network. “That’s often the place where many promising ideas fail commercially. It’s looking at the whole sequence from biomass to an end product.”
If it proves viable at commercial scale, the process dubbed AFEX could add a broad range of affordable, sustainable and local fuel sources to America’s energy assets. It promises new economic opportunities for rural communities and solutions to concerns over cost and food-versus-fuel tradeoffs, which today are prompting policymakers to back away from first-generation, corn-based biofuels such as ethanol.
Mother Jones: Should You Charge Your Phone Every Day or Just When It's Empty?
— By Kiera Butler
| Mon Jun. 13, 2011 2:30 AM PDT
An Econundrums reader recently asked a good question about how best to charge laptop and smart phone batteries:
Is it better for the battery to charge laptops and phones fully and then run them down all the way, or to charge them a little bit every day? And which way uses less energy?
The answer is complicated, since it depends on the particular product in question, explains Suzanne Foster Porter of Ecos, a Colorado-based consulting company that works on energy efficiency of battery chargers, in everything from MP3 players to forklifts. While some older battery chargers continue to draw power from the grid even when the battery is fully charged, more modern chargers are smarter: They basically turn off once the device is done charging. "But it's difficult to tell which kind you have, since manufacturers aren't required to tell consumers," says Porter.
Detroit Metro Times: What the frack?
Controversy over fracking in Michigan prompts calls for ban, moratorium
By Curt Guyette
Published: June 15, 2011
We've all seen the ads touting the benefits of natural gas as a cleaner-burning alternative to other fossil fuels. And it's true that, compared to coal or oil, natural gas is much less harmful in terms of its effect on global warming when used to generate electricity or power vehicles.
"Natural gas produces 43 percent fewer carbon emissions than coal for each unit of energy delivered, and 30 percent fewer emissions than oil," according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Don't, however, be fooled into thinking that just because methane produces a lesser amount of greenhouse gases when it's burned means that it is necessarily a green-friendly fuel. Especially, as is increasingly the case, when that natural gas is extracted from the earth by means of a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Which is why a nonprofit group called Food & Water Watch had some of its folks holding a press conference down by the Detroit River on a sparkling morning earlier this week. They were there with copies of a just released report called "The Case for a Ban on Gas Fracking."
Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy
Reuters: Analysis: Ethanol grown up, will withstand subsidy loss
By Carey Gillam
KANSAS CITY, Missouri | Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:08pm EDT
The U.S. ethanol industry is growing up. Moves in Washington to start weaning producers off government support are not expected to stunt a sector that had often been perceived as too fragile to withstand the travails of market forces.
This week's largely symbolic Senate vote to eliminate $6 billion in federal subsidies refocused attention on an industry that consumes nearly 40 percent of America's corn crop. Yet, experts and analysts had but one gesture: to shrug.
Sure, the eventual loss of an import tariff and a 45 cent-a-gallon blenders' tax credit could put more pressure on profits. Ethanol prices could drop about 7 percent and margins could see a 20 percent or greater squeeze, according to a report published in March by the University of Missouri's Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.
But, industry profitability is far more dependent on a volatile mix of market factors, from corn prices to gasoline to the livestock feed additive made as an ethanol byproduct.
For the Daily Kos story on this topic, click here
WNET via PBS: Action on climate change: Why now?
June 14, 2011
“Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”
That’s what the National Academy of Sciences concludes in a report recently released by its study arm, the National Research Council. Not surprisingly, the ever careful academy notes that science can’t yet nail down exactly how or when the impacts of climate change on humans and the environment will play out. But despite these uncertainties, the academy concludes that “the environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks of climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts.”
To have the academy find a “pressing need” for action in the midst of scientific uncertainty is big news, especially for those who want to defer action on climate change. Typically, the proponents of delay argue that prudent policy should wait for science to be absolutely sure before acting. Yet the academy’s position is clear: even though we still have more to learn, in the case of climate change we know enough to begin acting now.
Mother Jones: Some Arsenic With That Supermarket Chicken?
— By Tom Philpott
| Sat Jun. 11, 2011 6:00 AM PDT
Earlier this week, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced it would "voluntarily" stop selling a widely used arsenic-laced poultry feed additive, after FDA tests found traces of the poison in chicken meat.
So the system works, right? A federal regulatory agency conducts rigorous tests, detects a problem, and industry reacts by doing the right thing. Except, not so much. A closer look at the arsenic-laced feed saga reveals a tattered, industry-dominated regulatory regime that abuses public health and the environment alike.
Purdue University: Report estimates Purdue Research Park annual economic impact for Indiana is $1.3 billion
June 13, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS; WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.; MERRILLVILLE, Ind.; and NEW ALBANY, Ind. - An independent study reports that the Purdue Research Park network provides an annual economic impact of $1.3 billion to Indiana's economy, officials announced Tuesday (June 14).
The report, compiled by Thomas P. Miller and Associates of Indianapolis, states that the Purdue Research Park network is one of the largest private employers in the state, has invested more than $584 million in infrastructure, provides $48 million in annual tax revenue for the state and employees in a park-based company earn an average annual wage of $63,000.
The Purdue Research Park, which is managed by the nonprofit Purdue Research Foundation, is the largest business incubator in Indiana and the largest university-affiliated incubator complex in the country. The park has four locations across the state with more than 200 companies and 4,000 employees.
Purdue University: Purdue praises Indiana doctors for use of medical records technology
June 14, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS – For more than 40 Indiana physicians and hospitals, compliance with new federal electronic recordkeeping standards could net more than $10 million in incentives as they adopt information technology systems geared to improve their operations and the level of patient care.
During an event Tuesday (June 14), the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center at Purdue University announced the federal incentives. Those funds will go to those organizations that have or will have met a June 30 deadline for meeting the eligibility requirements to receive Medicare or Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) initial incentive payments.
The announcement comes just weeks after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began the "meaningful use" (MU) attestation process, which is based on a set of national priorities identified to help focus performance improvement efforts. Among these priorities are patient engagement, reduction of racial disparities, improved safety, increased efficiency, coordination of care and improved population health. An additional area related to privacy and security was included to emphasize the importance of protecting patient health information and ensuring patient trust in the use of electronic health records.
Purdue University: Meetings prepare farmers for agricultural fertilizer regulation
June 15, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue Extension is teaming up with the Office of Indiana State Chemist and Indiana Farm Bureau to help farmers beat the Jan. 1 deadline for complying with a state fertilizer regulation.
Extension specialists and educators will conduct training sessions about, and OISC representatives will administer certification exams for, Category 14 fertilizer material applicators and distributors at locations throughout Indiana this summer, said Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs and a training instructor.
"We're going out into the state to provide these training and exam opportunities for growers to make it easier for them to come into compliance," Whitford said. "There's no fee to register. We're trying to make it as painless as possible."
Category 14 was created by legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2009. The law requires farmers handling manure from confined feeding operations to be certified through the state chemist's office. CFOs are livestock facilities that house at least 300 cattle or 600 swine or sheep, or 30,000 fowl, such as chickens, turkeys or other poultry.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Bone collector surprised by Queen's honour
By Darren Osborne for ABC Science Online
Updated Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:42am AEST
Sydney-based archaeologist Emeritus Professor Richard Wright has been recognised for his work in the field in today's Queens Birthday Honours List.
The semi-retired scientist - who has been a leader in the field of forensic archaeology, helping unravel the horrors of mass graves in France, Ukraine and Bosnia - has today been made a Member of the Order of Australia.
"I was very surprised that I was going to get an award. It never entered my head, but of course I'm pleased," he said.
Hat/tip to annetteboardman for this link.
University of Michigan: Top scientist to head U-M's new master of health informatics degree
June 16, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Charles Friedman, a top federal scientific officer in the Department of Health and Human Services, will head the new joint master's program in health informatics offered by the University of Michigan School of Public Health and School of Information.
U-M is the state's first public university to offer a graduate program in health informatics and one of the first schools in the nation to focus specifically on consumer health informatics.
Friedman, who has more than 30 years experience in higher education, leaves a senior position as chief scientific officer of the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He starts at U-M on Sept. 1, 2011.
University of Michigan: U-M researcher named Pew Scholar
June 14, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Georgios Skiniotis, a University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute research assistant professor and assistant professor of biological chemistry at the Medical School, has been named a 2011 Pew Scholar.
The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today that Skiniotis, along with 21 other outstanding scientists from across the country, were selected as the 2011 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.
Early to mid-career scientists are chosen by the program each year. Pew Scholars individually receive a $240,000 award over four years to support and expand their research as well as foster collaboration and connection through the exchange of ideas with other stellar scientists.
Michigan State University: Scientist named one of the nation’s most-innovative researchers
June 16, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Sheng Yang He, plant biologist at Michigan State University, has been named one of the nation’s most-innovative plant scientists as part of a $75 million new plant science research initiative.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation honored He, from the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory, and 14 other researchers from around the country. The honor will see He’s salary, benefits and research expenses covered for the next five years or longer.
“The magnitude of being named an HHMI-GBMF Investigator hasn’t sunken in, yet,” said He, who is the first MSU professor to earn the award. “It is quite an honor to be selected from a pool of the nation’s best plant scientists, including some of my outstanding colleagues at MSU. It truly reflects the long-term commitment of MSU to make plant science research and education among the nation’s best.”
Indiana University: IU biologist Pikaard one of 15 in nation to benefit from $75 million plant science initiative
IU Bloomington to receive an estimated $5 million for researcher to advance work
June 16, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington biologist Craig Pikaard has been selected by Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as one of the nation's most innovative plant scientists. He will take part in a new initiative that boosts much needed funding for fundamental plant science research.
Pikaard, the Carlos O. Miller Professor of Plant Growth and Development in the IU College of Arts and Science's Department of Biology and Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, will join 14 other scientists as HHMI-GBMF Investigators and in turn will receive the flexible support necessary to move research in creative new directions. The two organizations are investing $75 million in the new plant science research program over the length of the initial five-year research appointments that begin in September.
"GBMF and HHMI believe the research will generate high-impact discoveries with implications for a range of intertwined concerns facing society: food production, human health, protection of the environment and identification of renewable energy resources," said Vicki L. Chandler, Chief Program Officer for Science at GBMF, in making the announcement today (June 16).
Wayne State University: Wayne State University College of Nursing faculty members named Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing
June 17, 2011
DETROIT - Three faculty members in the Wayne State University College of Nursing have achieved Fellow status from the American Academy of Nursing (AAN). This designation is awarded to the most accomplished nurse leaders who have demonstrated sustained achievements in education, health management, nursing practice and research.
Associate professors Rosalind Peters, RN, MSN, Ph.D.; Deborah Walker, RN, MS, DNSc.; and Feleta Wilson, RN, MPH, Ph.D., Fulbright Scholar, conduct research centered on health disparities and urban health.
Wayne State University: Wayne State University first-year engineering students selected as finalists in design competition
June 15, 2011
DETROIT - A team of four Wayne State University first-year biomedical engineering (BME) students has made it to the finals of the Undergraduate Design Competition at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Summer Bioengineering Conference.
The inaugural competition sought submissions from undergraduate design teams in the United States and Canada. Based on two-page descriptions of their designs, six teams were selected by a panel of judges to present their projects at the upcoming international conference, which will be held June 22 through 25 in Nemacolin, Pa. While undergraduate teams at all levels were encouraged to submit designs, most of the projects were submitted by capstone design teams of senior students.
Wayne State University: Wayne State University professor honored for commitment to multiple sclerosis research
June 14, 2011
DETROIT- The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers has honored a Wayne State University professor and department chair for his lifetime of commitment and research to combat the condition. The consortium presented Robert Lisak, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurology and resident of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its recent annual meeting in Montreal.
University of Wisconsin: UW-Madison starts new dual-degree program in neuroscience and law
by Jill Sakai
June 15, 2011
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has established an integrated dual-degree program in neuroscience and law that offers students the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a J.D. in law.
It plans to enroll its first class in fall 2012.
"The Program in Neuroscience and Law will train neuroscientists who also are competent in the law and prepare them to address the many important legal, scientific and public policy issues at the intersection of neuroscience and law," says Ronald Kalil, director of the UW-Madison Neuroscience and Public Policy Program, which will administer the new dual-degree option.
Indiana University: Agreement links IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Swedish university
June 14, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An agreement between the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a leading international business school in Sweden will bring about increased collaboration in faculty and graduate research and more study-abroad opportunities for students.
The agreement for scholarly cooperation joins SPEA with Jönköping International Business School (JIBS), a leading European international business school that is highly regarded for scholarship of entrepreneurship and small business. The agreement calls for:
Faculty exchanges for purposes of teaching, research, lectures and seminars
Joint research projects on topics of mutual interest
Student exchanges, with opportunities for IU students to study at JIBS and vice versa
Science Writing and Reporting
John Hawks: Gould's "Unconscious Manipulation of Data"
OK, so I can't say it's not "brain science" because measuring skulls is as close to brain science as anthropology ever gets. But it just shouldn't be that hard to measure volume. It's a simple physical fact.
Sure, there are complexities in measuring the volume of an object with a complicated shape and holes, like a human skull. But this is not one of the world's great mysteries. Seal the holes, fill the skull with beads or shot or something, and pour it into a graduated cylinder. Junior high stuff.
Samuel Morton became famous in the mid 19th century as an empirical scientist for measuring the skulls of people from different parts of the world. Stephen Jay Gould claimed, first in Science in 1978  and later in his book The Mismeasure of Man , that Samuel Morton fudged his data on skull volumes. In Gould's telling, Morton began with a strong bias toward finding that Caucasians were the superior race and made several choices in measurement and reporting statistics that tended to confirm this bias. Gould's biggest claims, in a statistical sense, were fairly obscure statistical points about the tabulation of averages and treatment of subpopulations as compared to major race groups. One claim, however, was more memorable than all the rest -- the notion that Morton used seed to measure the skulls and packed it in harder with his thumb to increase the measured volume of "White" skulls.
Another on the same topic:
University of Pennsylvania via physorg.com: Samuel Morton collection of skulls at center of controversy
(PhysOrg.com) -- The scientific integrity of one 19th century Philadelphia scientist has been reaffirmed—but at the decided expense of a prominent late 20th century scientist who had discredited him.
Such was the conclusion reached by a group of anthropologists working collaboratively to re-examine, and perform anew, scientific measurements on a famous collection of nearly 1,000 skulls from around the world, the "American Golgotha" collected and studied by Philadelphia physician Samuel George Morton (1799-1851). Today, much of the collection resides at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, where members of the anthropology team performed their analyses.
The team was responding to accusations made by Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), prominent evolutionary biologist and science historian, who charged, first in a 1978 Science paper and later in The Mismeasure of Man (1981), that Morton had selectively reported data, manipulated sample compositions, made analytical errors, and mismeasured skulls in order to support his prejudicial views on intelligence differences between human groups
Hat/tip to annetteboardman for these links.
N.Y. Times: The True Cost of Tomatoes
By MARK BITTMAN
Mass-produced tomatoes have become redder, more tender and slightly more flavorful than the crunchy orange “cello-wrapped” specimens of a couple of decades ago, but the lives of the workers who grow and pick them haven’t improved much since Edward R. Murrow’s revealing and deservedly famous Harvest of Shame report of 1960, which contained the infamous quote, “We used to own our slaves; now we just rent them.”
But bit by bit things have improved some, a story that’s told in detail and with insight and compassion by Barry Estabrook in his new book, “Tomatoland.” We can actually help them improve further.
The rest of this review contains a good and relatively brief summary of the externalities of growing tomatoes in Florida and the efforts to remedy the social and economic costs of the current system; the environmental costs are another matter.
Science is Cool
Archeology in Google Earth on Blogspot: Where in. . . the rules.
The rules are simple - if you recognise the site or monument, post the name and coords in 'comments' or on our Facebook page. If you're correct, you get to suggest the next one.
Wired: Unearthing Treasures: Pergamon and Ilium
By Jonathan Liu
Do you like digging for buried treasure? Unearthing ancient civilizations? Well, you’re in luck! Here are not one, but two, board games about archeology. Pergamon is a recent release (designed by Stefan Dorra and Ralf Zur Linde) with some elements of risk-taking and valuation. Ilium is an older game from 2008 by Reiner Knizia that is, like many of his games, something of a mathematical puzzle. Although the two games have different themes, they have very different mechanics and feels. Of the two, I think I prefer Pergamon, but they both allow for strategic thinking and can be played in under an hour.
Hat/tip to annetteboardman for these links.
University of Wisconsin: UW-Madison students’ fruit drink mix wins first prize in food development contest
by Bob Mitchell
June 15, 2011
Pixie Dust was magic for a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison food science graduate students in New Orleans last weekend. That's the name of the drink mix that earned them first place in a Disney-sponsored food product development contest at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual meeting in New Orleans.
The contest invited entries of products that were healthy for kids and Disney themed. Pixie Dust is made from freeze-dried fruit and can be mixed with either milk or water. It supplies the equivalent of a full serving of fruit.
It was a good year overall for UW-Madison students at the IFT conference. Another UW-Madison team earned third place in another IFT food product competition with a shelf-stable yogurt truffle called Blissful Bites. A third team won an honorable mention in the Disney competition with a product called Tangerine Dreams, a carbonated beverage the provides a full serving of low-fat dairy.
University of Wisconsin: Morgridge Institute researchers release first educational game
June 16, 2011
Researchers at the new Morgridge Institute for Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have released the biomedical research organization's first digital learning game created through collaborations among scientists and education researchers.
Virulent is an action and strategy game designed to teach key concepts in systems biology, an interdisciplinary research field that focuses on complex interactions in biological systems. Morgridge Institute researcher and game designer Nathan Patterson says the game, intended for people age 13 and older, allows players to experience what it takes to infect a cell, replicate and escape to infect other cells.
The game is available for free download from iTunes as an iPad app and from the Morgridge Institute website. By the end of summer, all 15 planned levels of the game are expected to be available on iPads, Android tablets, web browsers and as a standalone program for Windows and the Mac operating system as well.
Royal Oak Patch: Sunset at the Zoo a Giganotosaurus Success
About 2,000 Metro Detroiters party at the Detroit Zoo to raise money to support the animals.
By Kristen Skladd
As the sun went down Friday night, the Detroit Zoo filled with humans – an estimated record 2,000 – who came to “party like it’s 65,000,000 B.C.” at the annual Sunset at the Zoo fundraising event.
This year’s gala, set to a prehistoric theme in a nod to zoo's huge Dinosauria exhibit, allowed guests to take a private, leisurely stroll of the zoo, with all ticket sales benefiting the Detroit Zoological Society.
“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Zoological Society,” said Ron Kagan, longtime director of the Detroit Zoo. “Hopefully, we will raise about $100,000, all of which goes into caring for the animals.”
Those in attendance were given an after-hours, behind-the-scenes look at the zoo. They were invited walk through Dinosauria, the largest robotic dinosaur experience, view the gardens and even take a look at the zoo’s newest polar bear guest, Aquila.
I wish I could have been there, The event looks like it was a lot of fun.