Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors ScottyUrb, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and jlms qkw, guest editors maggiejean and annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment.
Tonight's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday is taking a break from highlighting the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses. It will return to the theme next week with science, space, environment, and energy stories from universities in the states of Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
This week's featured story comes from the Los Angeles Times.
Obama pokes fun at Romney, dog eating at Correspondents' Dinner
By Morgan Little
April 28, 2012, 8:41 p.m.
WASHINGTON-- President Obama didn’t pull any punches during this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, poking fun at his past experience in canine cuisine, the Republican party and most persistently, his presidential rival Mitt Romney.
“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull?” Obama asked the audience Saturday night, a reference to the recent brouhaha over his eating of dog meat as a child. “A pitbull is delicious.”
Continuing with the dog jokes, Obama showed a fake “super PAC” ad warning of the dangers his administration poses toward man’s best friend.
“America’s dogs can’t afford four more years of Obama. For them it’s 28 years,” the narrator cautioned.
Oh, yeah, science. Stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Watch this space!
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Redstate History of Science
This week in science: Roam
NASA Television on YouTube: Change of Command aboard Space Station On This Week @NASA
NASA astronaut and Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank officially transferred the helm of the orbiting outpost to Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Kononenko who, along with NASA astronaut Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency, has now begun Expedition 31. Two days later, Burbank and his Expedition 30 crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, said their farewells, climbed into their Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft and departed the station for the trip back to Earth. After a five-and-a-half month stay onboard the ISS, Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin landed safely in Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, the other three members of Expedition 31, NASA Flight Engineer Joe Acaba, and his Russian crewmates, Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin, participated in pre-launch activities at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. The trio is scheduled to launch to the ISS on a Soyuz spacecraft on May 15 to join Pettit, Kuipers and Kononenko. Also, Space Shuttle Enterprise is flown to The Big Apple, the next-generation J-2X Engine is ready for more tests, Snowballs make waves in Saturn's outer ring and more!
JPL/NASA via physorg.com: Cassini sees objects blazing trails in Saturn ring
By Jia-Rui C. Cook and Dwayne Brown
April 24, 2012
Scientists working with images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have discovered strange half-mile-sized (kilometer-sized) objects punching through parts of Saturn's F ring, leaving glittering trails behind them. These trails in the rings, which scientists are calling "mini-jets," fill in a missing link in our story of the curious behavior of the F ring. The results will be presented tomorrow at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, Austria.
"I think the F ring is Saturn's weirdest ring, and these latest Cassini results go to show how the F ring is even more dynamic than we ever thought," said Carl Murray, a Cassini imaging team member based at Queen Mary University of London, England. "These findings show us that the F ring region is like a bustling zoo of objects from a half mile [kilometer] to moons like Prometheus a hundred miles [kilometers] in size, creating a spectacular show."
PhysOrg.com: Inventor preps robot to cut through ice on Europa
by Nancy Owano
April 22, 2012
Robots are being developed all the time to do what we wish and to go where we can’t. This week, inventor Bill Stone told attendees at NASA’s Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta that he intends to get an autonomous robot ready to visit the icebound sea of Jupiter’s moon Europa, cut through the icy crust, and explore the waters below. He told the participants that his goal is to send his robot Valkyrie to Europa, where it will use lasers to cut through the ice to explore the waters below, collecting samples, in search of life. His company, Stone Aerospace, has been working on the six-foot by ten inch robotic cylinder called Valkyrie.
The plan is for it to leave its power plant on the surface of the moon, with a high-powered laser travelling down miles of fibre-optic cable. “Our modest goal over the next three years is to use a 5,000-watt laser to send a cryobot through up to 250 meters of ice,” Stone said at the Atlanta assembly. If successful, Stone’s concept would resolve obstacles in the way of studying what may lie beneath Europa’s ice. A report in Wired says those obstacles include (1) solar power being unable to work below the surface (2) batteries not lasting long enough (3) too large a footprint of a device and (4) international treaty restrictions that would forbid testing of a nuclear robot.
University of Cincinnati via physorg.com: Mysterious 'monster' discovered by amateur paleontologist
Around 450 million years ago, shallow seas covered the Cincinnati region and harbored one very large and now very mysterious organism. Despite its size, no one has ever found a fossil of this "monster" until its discovery by an amateur paleontologist last year.
The fossilized specimen, a roughly elliptical shape with multiple lobes, totaling almost seven feet in length, will be unveiled at the North-Central Section 46th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, April 24, in Dayton, Ohio. Participating in the presentation will be amateur paleontologist Ron Fine of Dayton, who originally found the specimen, Carlton E. Brett and David L. Meyer of the University of Cincinnati geology department, and Benjamin Dattilo of the Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne geosciences faculty.
Brown University via physorg.com: Did bone ease acid for early land crawlers?
April 24, 2012
When they moved from water to land, animals needed to rid themselves of CO2 to avoid acid buildup. Some, like Eryops, used bone in skin and scalp to neutralize the acid, an approach still used by some modern animals. Credit: Christine Janis and Museum of Natural History, Paris
Here's an anatomical packing list for making that historic trip from water to land circa 370 million years ago: Lungs? Check. Legs? Check. Patches of highly vascular bone in the skin? In a new paper, scientists propose why many of the earliest four-legged creatures that dared breathe on land carried bony skin features.
The "dermal bones" within the skin, especially the bones covering the skull roof and forming part of the shoulder girdle, had a highly complex surface of ridges and furrows called "dermal sculpture." The authors suggest that these bones served as something of a reservoir of antacids — not for the tetrapods' stomachs, but for their bodily fluids including blood. Excessive acidity would be a consequence of their seemingly inevitable struggle to get rid of carbon dioxide on land. The bone may have helped them neutralize the resulting acid buildup, as well as lactic acid from exertion. Eventually the animals would have to return to the water to rid themselves of CO2, but acid-neutralizing bone could buy them more land time as it evolved.
FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology) via physorg.com: 'Inhabitants of Madrid' ate elephants' meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago
Humans that populated the banks of the river Manzanares (Madrid, Spain) during the Middle Palaeolithic (between 127,000 and 40,000 years ago) fed themselves on pachyderm meat and bone marrow. This is what a Spanish study shows and has found percussion and cut marks on elephant remains in the site of Preresa (Madrid).
In prehistoric times, hunting animals implied a risk and required a considerable amount of energy. Therefore, when the people of the Middle Palaeolithic (between 127,000 and 40,000 years ago) had an elephant in the larder, they did not leave a scrap.
Humans that populated the Madrid region 84,000 years ago fed themselves on these prosbocideans' meat and they consumed their bone marrow, according to this new study. Until now, the scientific community doubted that consuming elephant meat was a common practice in that era due to the lack of direct evidence on the bones. It is still to be determined whether they are from the Mammuthus species of the Palaleoloxodon subspecies.
Craig Daily Press: A mammoth discovery: Scientist: Prehistoric remains discovered in Craig
By Joe Moylan
April 28, 2012
“There are a lot of things in this county that people are completely unaware of, and that’s the essence of this whole project. Scientifically, this could be an important discovery, and education for the high school kids is extremely important. That was my goal in doing this. But at the same time, this is an asset for the community.”
— Dr. Jan J. Roth, Sundance Research Institute
Dr. Jan J. Roth, of the Sundance Research Institute, said he's about to embark on a project that has renewed his passion for archaeology and paleontology — the discovery of what he believes are the remains of a Columbian Mammoth inside city limits.
He announced the discovery during a Craig City Council meeting earlier this month.
“I haven’t been this excited for a long, long time,” Roth told council members. “It’s a very unique opportunity for the City of Craig to have a mammoth site.”
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
University of Miami via physorg.com: Reef shark populations in steep decline: study
April 27, 2012
Many shark populations have plummeted in the past three decades as a result of excessive harvesting – for their fins, as an incidental catch of fisheries targeting other species, and in recreational fisheries. This is particularly true for oceanic species. However, until now, a lack of data prevented scientists from properly quantifying the status of Pacific reef sharks at a large geographic scale.
In a study published online April 27 in the journal Conservation Biology, an international team of marine scientists provide the first estimates of reef shark losses in the Pacific Ocean. Using underwater surveys conducted over the past decade across 46 U.S. Pacific islands and atolls, as part of NOAA's extensive Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cred/) the team compared reef shark numbers at reefs spanning from heavily impacted ones to those among the world's most pristine.
The numbers are sobering
"We estimate that reef shark numbers have dropped substantially around populated islands, generally by more than 90 percent compared to those at the most untouched reefs", said Marc Nadon, lead author of the study and a scientist at the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) located at the University of Hawaii, as well as a PhD candidate with Dr. Jerry Ault at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "In short, people and sharks don't mix."
Monash University (Australia) via MedicalXpress: Scientists discover a ‘handbrake’ for MS
April 26, 2012
In research published today in the journal Brain, scientists from the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories (MISCL), the University of Toronto, Yale and the University of Western Australia, have demonstrated the key role played by the collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP-2) in the development of MS.
Led by MISCL’s Dr Steven Petratos, also of RMIT University, and Professor Claude Bernard, the research team found that a modified version of CRMP-2 is present in active MS lesions, which indicate damage to the nervous system, in a laboratory model of MS.
The modified CRMP-2 interacts with another protein to cause nerve fibre damage that can result in numbness, blindness, difficulties with speech and motor skills, and cognitive impairments in sufferers.
Yale University via MedicalXpress.com: Allergy misconceptions: Why hay fever may be a good sign
April 26, 2012
If you're one of the millions of people coughing, sneezing, sputtering, and cursing your body's hypersensitivity to ragweed, trees, and grass this spring, researchers at Yale have what could be considered positive news: Seasonal allergies may be a sign that your immune system is doing what nature intended it to do -- protect you against environmental toxins that are far more harmful than pollen. The paper appears in Nature.
The body’s defense arsenal consists of different types of immune responses to deal with various classes of pathogens. Type 1 immunity — which battles viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa — relies primarily on directly killing pathogens or infected host cells.
Type 2 immunity, the focus of this Perspectives piece, protects against external environmental challenges by spurring the body’s T cells and antibodies into action to fight the irritant. The problem is, type 2 immunity can go into overdrive when inadvertently activated by environmental antigens such as pollen. Hay fever sufferers know the consequences all too well: The allergens such as pollen trigger an over-production of histamine, resulting in the coughing, sneezing, runny noses, and all-round misery that afflict them most severely in the spring and fall.
Nonetheless, the Yale authors argue that, despite the occasional misfiring, type 2 immunity is beneficial to humans.
Agence France Presse via physorg.com: New Yorkers bring fish farms to urban jungle
By Sebastian Smith
April 27, 2012
So you recycle, drive a small car, and try to eat organic. But what about running an eco-sustainable fish farm combined with a naturally fertilized vegetable patch in your kitchen?
Christopher Toole and Anya Pozdeeva, two former New York bankers who founded the Society for Aquaponic Values and Education (SAVE), are there to help.
"We call it 'beyond organic,'" Pozdeeva, 39, said.
Institute of Vertebrae Paleontology and Paleoanthropology via physorg.com: Three-toed horses reveal the secret of the Tibetan Plateau uplift
The Tibetan Plateau is the youngest and highest plateau on Earth, and its elevation reaches one-third of the height of the troposphere, with profound dynamic and thermal effects on atmospheric circulation and climate. The uplift of the Tibetan Plateau was an important factor of global climate change during the late Cenozoic and strongly influenced the development of the Asian monsoon system. However, there have been heated debates about the history and process of Tibetan Plateau uplift, especially elevations in different geological ages.
In PNAS Early Edition online April 23, 2012, Dr. Tao Deng from Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his team report a well-preserved skeleton of a 4.6 million-year-old three-toed horse (Hipparion zandaense) from the Zanda Basin, southwestern Tibet. Morphological features indicate that the Zanda horse was a cursorial horse that lived in alpine steppe habitats. Because this open landscape would be situated above the timberline on the steep southern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, the elevation of the Zanda Basin 4.6 Ma ago was estimated to be ~4,000 m above sea level using an adjustment to the temperature in the middle Pliocene as well as comparison with modern vegetation vertical zones. Thus, Deng and his team conclude that the southwestern Tibet achieved the present-day elevation in the mid-Pliocene.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
McMaster University (Canada) via physorg.com: Evidence shows that anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, researchers find
April 24, 2012
"We need to be much more cautious about the widespread use of these drugs," says Paul Andrews, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University and lead author of the article, published today in the online journal Frontiers in Psychology.
"It's important because millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants each year, and the conventional wisdom about these drugs is that they're safe and effective."
Andrews and his colleagues examined previous patient studies into the effects of anti-depressants and determined that the benefits of most anti-depressants, even taken at their best, compare poorly to the risks, which include premature death in elderly patients.
ScienceBlog: Genes shed light on spread of agriculture in Stone Age
One of the most debated developments in human history is the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies. This week’s edition of Science presents the genetic findings of a Swedish-Danish research team, which show that agriculture spread to Northern Europe via migration from Southern Europe.
“We have been able to show that the genetic variation of today’s Europeans was strongly affected by immigrant Stone Age farmers, though a number of hunter-gatherer genes remain,” says Assistant Professor Anders Götherström of the Evolutionary Biology Centre, who, along with Assistant Professor Mattias Jakobsson, co-led the study, a collaboration with Stockholm University and the University of Copenhagen.
Financial Times: Time raiders
Tomb treasures from the Han dynasty go on show at the UK's Fitzwilliam Museum from May 5
By Susan Moore
Yinde Li was an archaeologist of 26 when the royal tomb of one of the Western Han dynasty kings of Chu – possibly Liu Dao (who reigned from 150BC-129BC) – was excavated on Beidongshan hill near Xuzhou, in the Chinese province of Jiangsu, in 1984.
A farmer had contacted the authorities after stumbling across the hole through which grave robbers had entered and partially looted the site at some time in antiquity. Professor Li recalls slipping down a damp earth slide in near-total darkness. By the dim light of his torch, all he could make out was a mass of writhing serpentine forms the width of his wrist. “I was terrified. I thought they were snakes,” he laughs, his breath condensing in the chill air of the now denuded but hauntingly atmospheric tomb chamber. “It was just like Indiana Jones.”
Discovery News via LiveScience: Smuggled Cargo Found on Ancient Roman Ship
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Evidence of ancient smuggling activity has emerged from a Roman shipwreck, according to Italian archaeologists who have investigated the vessel's cargo.
Dating to the third century AD, the large sunken ship was fully recovered six months ago at a depth of 7 feet near the shore of Marausa Lido, a beach resort near Trapani.
Examiner.com: Second complex of ancient stone terraces identifed in Southeast
Architecture & Design Examiner
A professional photographer has documented ancient stone-walled terraces, stone cairns and the apparent ruins of structures on publicly owned land. This site is 74 miles (119 km) due south of the 1,100 year old Track Rock Gap Terrace Complex, which is identical to the fieldstone villages and agricultural complexes built by Itza Maya farmers in Central America.
ATHENS, GA-- Mack Dana Jones is a professional photographer and avid nature lover. For the past ten years, one of his favorite past times has been visits to the 782 acre Sandy Creek Park, which surrounds 260 acre Lake Chapman. The beautiful nature reserve is only minutes away from Baldwin Hall, the home of the University of Georgia’s Department of Anthropology.
I'm about this -> <- far away from putting this story under weird science in the tip jar.
Channel 4 (UK): Medieval abbot's grave discovered at Furness Abbey
Thursday 19 April 2012
The full uninterrupted grave of a Cistercian abbot has been discovered by archaeologists at the ruins of Furness Abbey, one of Britain's most influential medieval monasteries.
The skeleton was found by Oxford Archaeology North who were carrying out excavations during emergency repairs at the Cumbrian site.
The rare find could date as far back as the 12th century. The abbot's body was buried with a very rare medieval gilded crosier and jewelled ring.
Der Spiegel (Germany): Clues to the Thirty Years' War
Mass Grave Begins Revealing Soldiers' Secrets
By Christoph Seidler
It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Thirty Years' War, but until recently there was no trace of those who died there. Now a mass grave is shedding light on the mysteries of the Battle of Lützen. Were those who fought hungry young men or well-fed veterans? And where did they come from?
The morning of November 16, 1632 was foggy, so the mass killing could only begin after some delay. It wasn't until midday that the mist cleared, finally allowing the Protestant army of Sweden's King Gustav II Adolf to attack the Roman Catholic Habsburg imperial army led by Albrecht von Wallenstein. The slaughter lasted for hours in the field at the Saxon town of Lützen.
"In this battle the only rule that applied was, 'him or me,'" says Maik Reichel. "It was better to stab your opponent one extra time just to ensure there was no chance of him standing up again." The historian und former German parliamentarian for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) is standing at the edge of a field on the outskirts of Lützen. After the battles here, the ground was soaked with blood. "About 20,000 men fought on each side and between 6,000 and 9,000 were killed," estimates Reichel, who heads the museum in the city castle.
The Gazette: Warship excavation planned near Upper Marlboro
Ship believed to be flagship of fleet scuttled prior to War of 1812 battle
by Erich Wagner, Staff Writer
Southern Prince George’s officials and historians hope a nearly unprecedented archaeological dig in the Patuxent River near Upper Marlboro will advance historic tourism during the state’s War of 1812 bicentennial commemorations.
Archaeologists with the State Highway Administration, the Maryland Historical Trust and the Navy are working on plans to excavate a shipwreck they believe to be the U.S.S. Scorpion, a scuttled warship from the War of 1812, starting next spring as part of the state’s efforts to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the war.
Virgina Gazette: Jamestown looks at Civil War digs
1,200 Confederates at one time
By Steve Vaughan
Originally Published: Saturday, April 28, 2012
JAMES CITY — Archaeology this summer at Historic Jamestowne will fast forward to explore the Civil War fort and bomb shelter on the island.
Archaeologists will also explore a possible site of barracks for common soldiers near the east palisade.
With next month’s 150th commemoration of the Battle of Williamsburg, archaeologists will continue work on the bomb-proof room, part of Fort Pocahontas, the Civil War fort constructed in 1861.
Newsplex.com: Archaeologists Make Exciting Discovery Near Monticello
Monticello archaeologists have discovered two previously unknown archaeological sites that contain nineteenth century artifacts, including remains of slave homes—some from Jefferson’s time.
The sites were discovered in April at Tufton, historically significant as one of Thomas Jefferson’s four quarter farms located about a mile and a quarter east of Monticello.
A preliminary assessment of the artifacts indicates the earlier of the two sites was occupied in the first few decades of the nineteenth century, most likely by enslaved field laborers who worked on the Tufton farm.
Flinders University (Australia) via physorg.com: A step towards solving a maritime mystery
April 23, 2012
Students from Flinders University believe they have discovered the exact location of a Scottish sailing ship which sank in waters off Kangaroo Island more than 100 years ago.
A group of four archaeology students searched the sea and land on Kangaroo Island’s west coast earlier this month in a bid to find the historic Loch Sloy and the burial sites of 11 bodies recovered from the sea when the barque, en-route from Glasgow to Port Adelaide, sank on April 24, 1899.
Records show 30 people, including the captain, six passengers and most crewmen, died when the ship ran into rocky waters while heading towards the Cape Borda lighthouse.
There were four survivors, one of whom died after reaching land, but the exact location of the shipwreck and the bodies recovered from the waters, except for one, has remained a mystery.
During the week-long field trip – led by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Maritime Archaeologist and Flinders graduate Amer Khan – the team excavated an area between Cape Borda and Cape du Couedic in the hope of finding any remnants from the tragic incident.
Irish Times: State to receive items recovered from 'Lusitania'
A NUMBER of important artefacts recovered from the wreck of the Lusitania near Kinsale last August, are to be donated to the State, it has been announced in Tralee, where the items are undergoing archaeological conservation and maintenance.
The agreement brings to an end legal battles between American millionaire Gregg Bemis, owner of the wreck since 1968, and various arms of the State. Mr Bemis’s rights to the hull and to carry out research and dives have been established, as have the State’s heritage rights to wrecks in its waters.
The ship sank in May 1915 with the loss of 1,198 people from 1,959 on board. It was alongside the coast of Cork nearing the end of its journey from New York to Liverpool. It was 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale when the U-boat fired a single torpedo, sinking the liner in 18 minutes.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
University of Vienna (Austria): Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past
April 23, 2012
Physicists of the group of Prof. Anton Zeilinger at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), the University of Vienna, and the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology (VCQ) have, for the first time, demonstrated in an experiment that the decision whether two particles were in an entangled or in a separable quantum state can be made even after these particles have been measured and may no longer exist. Their results will be published this week in the journal Nature Physics.
Physics Viewpoint and Science Now via physorg.com: Physicists turn to Maxwell’s equations for self-bending light
by Nancy Owano
April 21, 2012
Can light self-bend into an arc? Can shape-preserving optical beams truly bend along a circular path? A confident answer emerged in this week’s Physical Review Letters. Researchers at Israel’s Technion reported their findings, saying that solutions to Maxwell’s equations suggest it is possible. They have found solutions to Maxwell's equations— the equations governing electromagnetism--that precisely describe initial phases required for truly self-bending light.
Light travels in a straight line; light beams tend to propagate along a straight path. Under forced circumstances—with use of mirrors, lenses, and light guides--light can take a more circuitous path, What has interested some scientists is whether or not light beams can bend themselves along a curved path with no external cause.
What is more, the new report involves wave solutions to Maxwell’s equations that are nondiffracting and capable of following a tighter circular trajectory than was previously thought possible.
University of Bristol (UK) via physorg.com: Doubling the information from the Double Helix
April 27, 2012
Our genes control many aspects of who we are — from the colour of our hair to our vulnerability to certain diseases — but how are the genes, and consequently the proteins they make themselves controlled? Researchers have discovered a new group of molecules which control some of the fundamental processes behind memory function and may hold the key to developing new therapies for treating neurodegenerative diseases.
The research, led by academics from the University of Bristol’s Schools of Clinical Sciences, Biochemistry and Physiology & Pharmacology and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, has revealed a new group of molecules, called mirror-microRNAs.
MicroRNAs are non-coding genes that often reside within ‘junk DNA’ and regulate the levels and functions of multiple target proteins — responsible for controlling cellular processes in the brain. The study’s findings have shown that two microRNA genes with different functions can be produced from the same piece (sequence) of DNA — one is produced from the top strand and another from the bottom complementary ‘mirror’ strand.
Princeton Plasma Laboratory via physorg.com: Physicists see solution to critical barrier to fusion
By John Greenwald
April 23, 2012
Physicists have discovered a possible solution to a mystery that has long baffled researchers working to harness fusion. If confirmed by experiment, the finding could help scientists eliminate a major impediment to the development of fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for producing electric power.
An in-depth analysis by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) zeroed in on tiny, bubble-like islands that appear in the hot, charged gases—or plasmas—during experiments. These minute islands collect impurities that cool the plasma. And it is these islands, the scientists report in the April 20 issue of Physical Review Letters, that are at the root of a long-standing problem known as the "density limit" that can prevent fusion reactors from operating at maximum efficiency.
Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy
(Belize): Belizean authorities nab two Guatemalans for illegal logging inside Caracol Archaeological Reserve
Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) reported today that two Guatemalans from Peten were caught red-handed cutting cedar inside the Caracol Archaeological Reserve.
The men faced indictments for illegal entry, illegal logging and resisting arrest, after being transported to the San Ignacio police station. They both pleaded guilty to the 3 charges, and we understand from FCD that the men were levied a $1,000 fine in court this morning, and failure to meet that fine could mean 6 months in prison.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
The Houghton Star (Houghton College): The Penultimate Word: Relinquishing Grandiose Plans
By Elisa Shearer
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
When I was in the first grade I wanted to be an archaeologist.
I wasn’t too big on the actual dinosaurs – I couldn’t tell you whether Brachiosauruses lived in the Triassic or not – but I thought that finding things buried in sand sounded like the most fun anyone could ever have. I became addicted to those little toy blocks of hardened sand that have plastic tyrannosaurus skeletons in them. I drew pictures of myself wearing desert gear and a wide-brimmed hat. I watched Jurassic Park. I taught my 8-year-old self how to spell archaeologist.
If you asked me in the first grade, being an archaeologist was my dream. If you told me, in the first grade, that I’d be going to college for Not Archaeology, I’d be despondent.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Science Writing and Reporting
Carolina Journal: State Threatens to Shut Down Nutrition Blogger
Nutrition board says he needs a license to advocate dietary approaches
By Sara Burrows
Apr. 23rd, 2012
North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle.
Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”
Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive.
When he was hospitalized with diabetes in February 2009, he decided to avoid the fate of his grandmother, who eventually died of the disease. He embraced the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman” or “hunter-gatherer” diet. The diet, he said, made him drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog about his success.
This could just as easily have been under Science Policy.
Financial Times: Tomb raiders
From King Tutankhamen's tomb to the Rosetta Stone, Egyptology enters the 21st century and proves to be worth further studies
By John Ray
April 21, 2012
Cracking the Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion, by Andrew Robinson, Thames & Hudson, RRP£19.95, 272 pages
A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid, by John Romer, Allen Lane, RRP£25, 512 pages
Tutankhamen’s Curse: The Developing History of an Egyptian King, by Joyce Tyldesley, Profile, RRP£18.99, 336 pages
As the world-weary preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us, “Of making many books there is no end”, and there are times when this rings true. Books on ancient Egypt are no exception to this rule, and a new title seems to appear every month. But there are some titles that give the lie to the old cynic of the Bible. In each of these three new books Egyptology is in good hands, and so is the reader. The subject has great popular appeal, and because of this professionals in other branches of archaeology sometimes distrust it. Here are three reasons for them to feel that this is something worth studying.
annetteboardman requested that I post the following note for the above link and excerpt.
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article... http://www.ft.com/...
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
Science is Cool
East Anglian Daily Times (UK): Return to Sutton Hoo!
BY STEVEN RUSSELL
Saturday, April 21, 2012
In the 1960s, dozens of archaeology enthusiasts – many of them from Yorkshire – devoted a fortnight or so of their time to help excavate the famous Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo. This week, some of them were back in Suffolk to relive those days. STEVEN RUSSELL met them
THEY’RE poles apart, Sutton Hoo and San Francisco, but for both of them 1967 was The Summer of Love. Well, for young Barbara, anyway. While the hippies wore flowers in their hair in California, her lot in East Anglia featured rather more in the way of bracken, dirt and dust. Still, romance was in the air.
Press and Sun-Bulletin: Binghamton University celebrates the power of research
Research Days features open lab sessions, workshops
11:24 PM, Apr. 26, 2012
VESTAL -- Ron Miles may be a world-class researcher, but he is inspired by the words of another doctor -- Dr. Seuss.
"These things are fun and fun is good," the mechanical engineering professor quoted during Binghamton Research Days, which runs through today on the Binghamton University campus.
You never know where research will lead, noted Miles, whose miniature microphone project began with Cornell University research into a fly that feeds on crickets. Once researchers determined how the fly located crickets by their sound, Miles built a mechanical model -- which eventually led to the creation of directional microphones that improve the performance of hearing aids by reducing background noise.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
Examiner.com: ESPN Sport Science nominated for two Emmy Awards
Detroit Science News Examiner
ESPN Sport Science will be taking Biomedical Engineering professor Cynthia Bir of Wayne State University to New York City once again. The popular show explaining the science of sports has once again been nominated in the Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Graphic Design and Outstanding New Approaches. Bir and her colleagues will find out if they have won at the 33rd annual Sports Emmys on April 30, 2012, when the winners will be announced at Lincoln Center.
Contending with ESPN Sport Science for Outstanding Graphic Desighn are the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup on ESPN and ESPN2, ESPN Monday Night Football, NBA All-Star Weekend on TNT, and NBC Sunday Night Football. The show's competitors for Outstanding New Approaches in Sports Programming are A Game of Honor on CBSSports.com, Football Freakonomics on NFL Network/NFL.com, Sunday Night Football Extra on NBCSports.com, and The NFL Season: A Biography on NFL Network/NFL.com.
The series uncovers sports' biggest myths and mysteries by using cutting-edge technology to measure momentum, forces, and acceleration of top athletes. Bir, who is the show's lead scientist, helps viewers understand the internal and external forces sustained and generated by the body during high-level athletic activities.