Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and ScottyUrb, 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.
Between now and the end of the primary/caucus season, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses during the week (or in the upcoming weeks if there is no primary or caucus that week). Tonight's edition features the science, space, environment, health, and energy stories from universities in the states of Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island (list from Politics1.com).
This week's featured story comes from Science News.
Voyager chasing solar system's edge
On 35th anniversary of spacecraft’s launch, scientists ponder when it will move beyond the sun’s reach
By Nadia Drake
Web edition : Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched 35 years ago on September 5, 1977, is bracing for a controlled plunge into interstellar space. Soon the craft will leave the solar system behind, bursting through the windy bubble blown by sun.
The question is: How soon? That boundary may be a bit farther away than expected, a team from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory reports in the Sept. 6 Nature.
Now 18 billion kilometers away, Voyager 1 is the most distant spacecraft flung from Earth. Voyager 2, launched two weeks earlier, is trailing its twin by about 3.4 billion kilometers.
More stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Watch this space!
NASA Built That!
From Mars: SAM Takes a Deep Breath and Flexes his Arm
The Daily Bucket - Fledges Now? Yow!
by enhydra lutris
This week in science: How low can we go?
University of Delaware: On the front lines
UD scientist sees Arctic ice loss firsthand
4:19 p.m., Aug. 27, 2012
The extent of sea ice in the Arctic has reached a record low, according to data released Aug. 26 by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
A University of Delaware marine scientist can confirm some of that ice loss firsthand. In a short video he produced, Andreas Muenchow, aboard the Canadian icebreaker Henry Larsen, shows the ice-free sea off Petermann Fjord that he and his colleagues were sailing in — an area that for ages had been covered by floating ice shelves.
“But it is no more,” notes Muenchow in the video.
University of Rhode Island: URI celebrates opening of new $75 million pharmacy building
Formal ribbon-cutting, symposium and international conference mark celebration
KINGSTON, R.I. – September 4, 2012
The University of Rhode Island celebrated the opening of its new $75 million building for the College of Pharmacy with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony today, marking the completion of a voter-supported center for pharmaceutical teaching and research.
The celebration is calling attention to the college’s role in making the state, nation and world healthier, developing partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, attracting high paying jobs, and bringing in more than $83 million in federal and private research dollars, funding that has been reinvested in Rhode Island’s economy since 2000.
URI thanks the state's voters in Thank You, Rhode Island
University of Rhode Island on YouTube: Time lapse of URI's Titan Arum (Corpse Flower)
Amorphophallus titanum, otherwise known as the Titan Arum, is a rare and endangered plant from the rainforest island of Sumatra. In 2009, the URI Botanical Gardens obtained a Titan Arum corm (a bulb-like structure) to add to our tropical plant collection. After two years of vegetative growth alternating with months-long dormant periods, "Audrey" flowered!
University of Massachusetts on YouTube: Introducing Permaculture to New Students
As part of new student orientation over Labor Day Weekend, the UMass Permaculture Initiative introduced new members of the university community to the campus' commitment to sustainability. A few months ago this student-led endeavor won White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge and met President Barack Obama.
University of Michigan: U-M group will visit Brazil to forge collaborations in education and research
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—University of Michigan scientists and scholars led by President Mary Sue Coleman will travel to Brazil in September to strengthen research and academic collaboration with several leading universities and foundations.
"We have partnered with Brazil for many years and witnessed one of the most interesting revolutions in higher education," Coleman said. "Brazil is not only an emerging economy, it is an emerging power in research."
Education and research are fast-growing sectors in Brazil, with a half million graduates and 10,000 doctorates awarded each year. More than a quarter of all scientific papers by Brazilians have foreign co-authors.
Brazil is also investing $1.5 billion in its Science Without Borders program, through which 100,000 Brazilian graduate and undergraduate students will have studied at a U.S. or European university by 2015.
U of M has a whole series of videos about this partnership. Here are the two most relevant.
University of Michigan looking forward to building a strong relationship with its Brazilian partners
University of Michigan delegates Michelle Heisler and Sueann Caulfield talk about President Mary Sue Coleman's upcoming trip to Brazil Sept. 22-28 to strengthen research and academic collaborations with several universities and foundations.
Brazilian students from Science Without Borders program share their experiences
Science without Borders is a program started by the Brazilian government and the exchange students at University of Michigan talk about their experiences.
NASA Television on YouTube: Armstrong Tributes Continue on This Week at NASA
The outpouring of admiration and respect continues as people around the nation, including members of the NASA family, pay tribute to the late Neil Armstrong. Also, JFK's Rice speech revisited; Curiosity roves; Orion 'chutes and drop tests; EVA wrap-up; and more.
NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Weird Planets
Once, astronomers thought planets couldn't form around binary stars. Now Kepler has found a whole system of planets orbiting a double star. This finding shows that planetary systems are weirder and more abundant than previously thought.
Space.com on YouTube: Curiosity Sniffs, Drives and Tests Arm In Busy Week On Mars | Video
The Mars Science Laboratory took in samples of the Martian atmosphere, started driving towards its first target site (Glenelg) and will park to test all the functions of its arm carrying scientific remote sensing intruments.
Space.com on YouTube: Asteroid Vesta Revealed: Dawn Probe's Greatest Hits | Video
NASA's Dawn spacecraft spent a year exploring the giant asteroid Vesta between 2011 and 2012. See the probe's greatest Vesta hits in this video.
Science News: Black hole theory deepens lithium crisis
Proposal identifies potential new source of element
By Nadia Drake
September 8th, 2012; Vol.182 #5 (p. 14)
The universe is lacking in lithium — and instead of solving what’s known as the “lithium problem,” a new study makes it even more complicated.
The work, published in the July 13 Physical Review Letters, suggests that some small black holes could be acting as lithium factories. The problem is, observed lithium levels are too low to accommodate such production. Those levels are also much lower than those predicted by otherwise robust theories describing how the first chemical elements were created just after the Big Bang.
“This makes the lithium problem worse,” says astrophysicist Brian Fields of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “But it could point to more exotic goings-on in the Big Bang.”
Science News: Crowd sourcing comes to astronomy
Online snaps of comet used to determine its orbit
By Nadia Drake
September 8th, 2012; Vol.182 #5 (p. 14)
Some people scour the Internet for pictures of celebrities and cats.
Others search for comets.
After performing a Yahoo! image search for photos of Comet Holmes, which whizzed by Earth in 2007, a team of astronomers used the returned images to reconstruct the comet’s orbit in three dimensions — proving that astronomers can take advantage of data provided by an unwitting group of participants.
OU Daily: OU archaeologists finish bison kill site excavation
by Paighten Harkins
August 30, 2012
This summer, a team of OU archeologists finished excavating a bison kill site that hadn’t been touched by humans in thousands of years.
The site was last visited by humans in the Folsom Age — which was more than 10,000 years ago, said K.C. Carlson, field director of the excavation.
The team found the skeletal remains of more than a dozen bison, some Folsom points — weapons used to kill bison — and some of the butchering tools Paleoindians used to cut up the animals, OU archeologist Leland Bement said.
“The last people to see [the bones] were the ones butchering the bison,” Carlson said.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Smithsonian Magazine: Timing of Childbirth Evolved to Match Women’s Energy Limits
August 29, 2012
Have you ever wondered why women stay pregnant for nine months? For decades, anthropologists have explained the timing of human gestation and birth as a balance between two constraints: the size of a women’s hips and the size of a newborn’s brain. But new research says that’s not the case. Instead, the timing of childbirth occurs when women’s bodies can no longer keep up with the energy demands of pregnancy. That happens at around nine months, Holly Dunsworth of the University of Rhode Island and colleagues report online August 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Michigan State University: Tigers take the night shift to coexist with people
September 3, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Tigers aren’t known for being accommodating, but a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the carnivores in Nepal are taking the night shift to better coexist with humans.
The revelation that tigers and people are sharing exactly the same space – the same roads and trails – of Chitwan National Park flies in the face of long-held convictions in conservation circles. It also underscores how successful conservation efforts need sciences that takes into account both nature and humans.
“As our planet becomes more crowded, we need to find creative solutions that consider both human and natural systems,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, the director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University. “Sustainability can be achieved if we have a good understanding of the complicated connections between both worlds. We’ve found something very interesting is happening in Nepal that holds promise for both humans and nature to thrive.”
University of South Carolina via Science Daily: Decoding the Black Death: Anthropologist Finds Clues in Medieval Skeletons
Sep. 5, 2012
Each time Sharon DeWitte takes a 3-foot by 1-foot archival box off the shelf at the Museum of London she hopes it will be heavy.
"Heavy means you know you have a relatively complete skeleton," said DeWitte, an anthropologist at the University of South Carolina who has spent summers examining hundreds of Medieval skeletons, each time shedding new light on the dark subject of the Black Death.
Since 2003, DeWitte has been studying the medieval mass killer that wiped out 30 percent of Europeans and nearly half of Londoners from 1347-1351. She is among a small group of scientists devoted to decoding the ancient plague and the person researchers turn to for providing evidence from skeletal remains.
Her findings may provide clues about the effects of disease on human evolution.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Delaware: Back it up
Research will focus on developing rehab approach for older adults with chronic low back pain
4:06 p.m., Sept. 6, 2012
All low back pain is not created equal, and Gregory Hicks would like to find a way to better individualize care and improve clinical outcomes for older adults suffering from this debilitating condition.
Hicks, associate professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Physical Therapy, has been awarded a five-year, $2.35-million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a comprehensive, standardized rehabilitation approach that is specifically designed to reduce pain and optimize function.
According to Hicks, low back pain is the most frequently reported musculoskeletal problem among older adults.
University of Delaware: Behind closed doors
UD researchers show how beneficial soil bacteria can boost plant immunity
9:28 a.m., Aug. 27, 2012
With the help of beneficial bacteria, plants can slam the door when disease pathogens come knocking, University of Delaware researchers have discovered.
A scientific team under the leadership of Harsh Bais, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, found that when pathogens attempt to invade a plant through the tiny open pores in its leaves, a surprising ally comes to the rescue. Soil bacteria at the plant’s roots signal the leaf pores to close, thwarting infection.
Boston Globe: Massive encyclopedia helps explain how the human genome works
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff
September 5, 2012
A massive consortium of researchers, led in part by local scientists, has taken the next step after researchers mapped the human genome, compiling an encyclopedia that illuminates how the vast majority of the 3 billion building blocks of human DNA works.
When the genome, the blueprint of a person, was first deciphered 11 years ago, scientists were faced with a conundrum: only a tiny fraction was made up of genes, the stretches that carried instructions to make proteins that gave rise to inherited traits, such as having blue eyes or black hair. The rest was called “junk DNA.”
The raft of publications being released in top scientific journals Wednesday should permanently change the meaning of “junk.” Hundreds of scientists from 30 institutions elucidated the functions of 80 percent of the genome, finding regulatory elements that act like switches, determining which genes are “on” or turning their volume up or down.
University of Michigan: Longer CPR attempts might benefit some patients, U-M research finds
Researchers find that patients at hospitals with longer resuscitation attempts, on average, have higher survival rates
September 4, 2012
There isn’t a hard and fast rule for how long doctors should perform CPR, but new research from the University of Michigan Health System shows longer attempts might be beneficial for some patients.
Most cardiac arrest patients are often successfully resuscitated after a short period of time – about 12 minutes on average. Practitioners are often reluctant to perform longer attempts – those that can last 30 minutes or longer – because if patients do not survive early on during cardiac arrest, their overall prognosis is poor.
The research from U-M, however, shows that for some patients, successful resuscitation only occurred after 30 minutes or more.
University of Delaware: Geophysical turbulence
UD researchers contribute to workshop on environmental multiphase flows
2:02 p.m., Aug. 30, 2012
Cloud droplets are central to Earth's energy balance and to the water cycle, sea sprays play an important role in hurricane dynamics and air bubbles in the ocean’s boundary layer alter the acoustical and optical properties of ocean water.
These examples of environmental multiphase turbulent flows represent an emerging research area that combines the complexities of turbulent flow, multiphase and multi-scale physics and environmental applications.
Eleven University of Delaware researchers contributed to a workshop designed to increase understanding of these and other multiphase turbulent flows in the atmosphere and ocean that was held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., Aug. 13-17.
University of Delaware: Finding faults
Delaware Geological Survey discovers evidence of past earthquakes
2:05 p.m., Aug. 30, 2012
Delaware Geological Survey (DGS) scientists have uncovered hard proof of faults in northern Delaware, indicating the occurrence of earthquakes millions of years ago.
The geologic evidence turned up in sediment samples removed during a well-drilling project this summer from depths ranging 137 to 251 feet down in Smyrna and the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area.
“People have postulated that there are faults in this area,” DGS Senior Scientist Scott Andres said. “Now we have evidence of it.”
N.Y. Times: When GPS Confuses, You May Be to Blame
By RANDALL STROSS
Published: September 1, 2012
A group of researchers led by Andrew L. Kun, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of New Hampshire, placed test subjects in immersive driving simulators and tracked the frequency and duration of their glances at a navigation screen, when their eyes left the road. They found that in a majority of instances, these glances lasted for more than 200 milliseconds, long enough to empirically affect driving.
In the experiment, the display was large and easy to see, mounted atop the dashboard. “You did not have to change your gaze angle much to see it,” Dr. Kun said. Consulting a smartphone’s navigation app, on a much smaller screen and held lower, makes it more likely that a driver’s eyes will leave the road for longer stretches.
“Voice-only instructions delivered subjects to their destinations, and you could argue that they drove better because they looked at the road more,” Dr. Kun said of his test subjects. “Yet a majority preferred having a navigation screen — they felt anxious without it.”
University of Massachusetts, Amherst: UMass Amherst Neuroscientist Studies Adolescent Binge Drinking and Brain Development
September 6, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. – Neuroscientist Heather Richardson and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have received a $400,000 grant to study how binge drinking during adolescence affects development in the prefrontal cortex, an area that directs decision-making and controls emotions, and one of the last brain regions to mature.
Richardson, doctoral student Wanette Vargas, and others at UMass Amherst’s Neurobiology of Stress and Addiction Laboratory use an adolescent rat model to reflect the typical teen experience with alcohol, which includes individual variability and intermittent exposure. A two-year grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at the National Institutes of Health, plus support from the UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences, will fund a series of studies to advance understanding of how risky drinking among teens may change the development of neural circuits and cause potentially long-lasting mental health consequences.
“We use adolescent animals that are not predisposed to drink and we try as much as possible to mimic the typical teenager’s experience with alcohol. This means the experiments include individual variability because the animals voluntarily choose to binge when alcohol is available. But, like teenagers, at times they have no access to alcohol so they can’t drink at all,” Richardson explains.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst: UMass Amherst Explores Use of Robots to Aid Recovery from Stroke
September 6, 2012
AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers in robotics and communication disorders at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have teamed up to explore whether a personal humanoid robot may help people recovering from stroke by delivering therapy such as word-retrieval games and arm movement tasks in an enjoyable and engaging way.
Speech language pathologist Yu-kyong Choe recently won a two-year, $109,251 grant from the American Heart Association to investigate the effect of stroke rehabilitation delivered by a humanoid robot, a child-sized unit with arms and a screen where therapists, doctors and others can interact with a client. Choe is collaborating with Rod Grupen, director of UMass Amherst’s Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics, on ways to bring more and longer-term, home-based therapy and social contact to people recovering from stroke.
It’s estimated that three million Americans daily experience the debilitating effects of stroke. But even after years, they can recover significant function with intensive rehabilitation, says Choe. The bad news is that this is rarely available or accessible due to a shortage of therapists and lack of coverage for long-term treatment. Many people are left with chronic low function, which can lead to social isolation and depression.
University of Michigan: Simple tool may help inexperienced psychiatrists better predict violence risk in patients, U-M study finds
Without assessment tool, inexperienced psychiatrists less likely to accurately predict violence
September 4, 2012
Inexperienced psychiatrists are less likely than their veteran peers to accurately predict violence by their patients, but a simple assessment checklist might help bridge that accuracy gap, according to new research from the University of Michigan.
Led by psychiatrist Alan Teo, M.D., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar of the University of Michigan, researchers examined how accurate psychiatrists were at predicting assaults by acutely ill patients admitted to psychiatric units.
Their results found that inexperienced psychiatric resident doctors did no better than a coin flip, whereas veteran psychiatrists were 70 percent accurate in predicting risk of violence.
This is Cornwall (UK): Probe starts to uncover Stone Age temple ruins
CORNWALL'S first historic temple could be unearthed by archaeologists in Truro.
After being buried for nearly 6,000 years the experts think they have spotted a Stone Age temple on the outskirts of the city.
Archaeologists from the historic environments project at Cornwall Council have begun an eight-week excavation on two hectares (about five acres) of land at the junction of the A39 Newquay Road and the A390 St Austell Road.
The site was discovered during the planning phase for the Truro Eastern District Centre, which will include a Waitrose supermarket and second park-and-ride.
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: First Temple period public water reservoir uncovered in Jerusalem
The extraordinary water reservoir, exposed in recent weeks, was treated with several layers of plaster, and probably dates to the First Temple period.
6 Sep 2012
A large rock-hewn water reservoir dating to the First Temple period was discovered in the archaeological excavations that are being conducted in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden at the foot of Robinson’s Arch. The excavations at the site are being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority, underwritten by the Ir David Foundation and in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority.
The impressive reservoir will be presented today (Thursday 6 September 2012) together with other finds from this past year at the 13th annual conference on the “City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem” to be held in Jerusalem.
Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Bones, skull revealed in opera stage renovation
Renovation work at the Ankara State Opera and Ballet’s building has unearthed a skull and human bones from the opera stage’s orchestra pit, 25 to 30 meters underground. The finds have been sent to a museum
Human bones and a skull have been discovered under the stage at the historical Ankara Opera House, home of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet (ADOB), during renovations, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday.
Restoration work at the building has been halted to permit archaeologists a chance to examine the venue.
Washington Post: In the Sinai, a global team is revolutionizing the preservation of ancient manuscripts
By Mark Schrope
Published: September 6
MOUNT HOREB, Egypt — Michael Toth points at a computer screen filled with what seems to be a jumble of Arabic and Greek letters.
To get to this jumble, he has traveled from Washington to an isolated, fortress-like monastery in the middle of the Sinai Desert, home to the oldest continuously operating library on the planet.
He has helped assemble a global team of scientists that arrived with cutting-edge technology at this spot, three hours by taxi from the nearest commercial airport.
The image he has paused to appreciate is one of a steady stream coming from the room next door, where a high-definition camera is focused on one of the monastery’s rare and priceless ancient manuscripts. The manuscript rests in a cradle that looks like a chair tilted back at an angle, but with hydraulic lines and strange lights attached.
The Guardian (UK): Shipwreck in 'exceptional' condition discovered by archaeologists in France
Wreck discovered in Antibes, on the site of the Roman city of Antipolis, thought to have sunk in the second or third century
Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 4 September 2012 09.01 EDT
It looks like the rib cage of a large marine mammal, whose bones turned black as it was fossilised. The wreck was discovered in May during a dig in Antibes, on the French Riviera, prior to construction of a car park on the site of the Roman port of Antipolis.
Archaeologists have gradually uncovered a 15-metre length of hull and structural timbers, in "exceptional" condition, according to Giulia Boetto, a specialist in ship design at Aix-Marseille University who is involved in the dig. Saw and adze marks are still visible on the wood. Luckily the ground in which it was found is always waterlogged so this prevented the timber from rotting and decomposing.
Sprinklers have kept the hull and its structure moist since its discovery. "Otherwise, in just a few weeks we would lose everything," says Isabelle Daveau, an archaeologist at France's Rescue Archaeology Research Institute (Inrap) and head of the project.
The ship – a merchant vessel from the imperial period – was probably about 22 metres long and six or seven metres across. It is thought to have sunk in the second or third century in the port at Antipolis. "It has a typical Graeco-Roman flat-bottomed design," Boetto says, with a hold three metres deep and a square sail to drive it, suspended from a mast, which has not been found.
BBC: Ipswich waterfront Saxon dig unearths 300 graves
An archaeological dig at Ipswich waterfront has unearthed 300 skeletons and evidence of an old church.
The excavation is taking place before 386 homes are built on Great Whip Street by Genesis Housing Association.
It is believed the Saxons occupied the site in the 7th Century and burials are believed to have taken place there until the 16th Century.
Rubbish pits were also uncovered during the dig, led by Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology.
Paul Murray, senior project officer with Oxford Archaeology, said: "A certain amount of historical research was done before we got here, so we had a general idea of what to find, but this has exceeded our expectations.
National Geographic News: Ancient Tomb Built to Flood—Sheds Light on Peru Water Cult?
Archaeologists find an unusual stacked grave holding pre-Inca leaders.
for National Geographic News
Published September 6, 2012
Archaeologists in Peru thought they had discovered something special when they uncovered the tomb of a pre-Inca priestess and eight other corpses in 2011. But an even bigger find was right beneath their feet.
Continuing their search for artifacts a year later, the team dug beneath the priestess, uncovering a basement tomb they believe was built by an ancient water cult and meant to flood.
"This is a very valuable finding," said Carlos Wester La Torre, head of the excavation and director of the Brüning National Archaeological Museum in the Lambayeque region—a region named after the little-known culture that built the stacked tomb. "The amount of information of this funerary complex is very important, because it changes [what we know of] the political and religious structures of the Andean region."
The nearly 800-year-old basement burial sheds light on complex Lambayeque social structures and on the worship of water in the culture.
The Independent (UK): Garden unearthed in Leicester Richard III dig
Friday 07 September 2012
An archaeological dig searching for the grave of Richard III has uncovered evidence of a lost garden, organisers said.
Experts from the University of Leicester who are leading the search discovered paving stones which they believe belong to the garden of Robert Herrick where, historically, it is recorded there was a memorial to Richard III.
Work by the "time tomb team", as they have become known, has so far involved the digging of two trenches at a Leicester city centre car park - and this week a third was excavated - thought to cover the site of a Franciscan friar where the former king is believed to have been buried in 1485.
Yahoo! News: Mysterious shipwreck washes onto Alabama shore, believed to be from Civil War
By Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News | The Sideshow
Tue, Sep 4, 2012
Hurricane Isaac has washed the remains of a blockade-runner vessel onto the shores of an Alabama beach, and many believe it could be a Civil War-era vessel, dating to 1862, according to the Birmingham News.
However, a debate has ensued over exactly which era the shipwreck is from.
"Look what Isaac uncovered!" reads a Facebook post from Meyer Vacation Rentals, a local real estate company that posted several pictures of the wreckage on its fan page.
A number of Confederate ships attempted to circumvent a Union Navy blockade of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. And some believe the wreckage may belong to the Monticello, a ship that burned and sank while trying to break the blockade during the war.
The Courier-Mail via The Herald-Sun (Australia): Migaloo the dog has a nose for archeology
September 03, 2012 12:00AM
MEET Migaloo - the wonder dog that can sniff out a 600-year-old human skeleton buried almost 2m underground.
The three-year-old female black labrador cross is believed to be the world's first trained archeology dog.
She is destined to work on surveys of Aboriginal sacred sites across Australia, with other dogs now likely to be similarly trained to work on excavations at ancient civilisation sites such as Egypt, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
Brisbane dog expert Gary Jackson trained the clever canine using 250-year-old skeletal remains from an Aboriginal burial site, on loan from the South Australian Museum.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
Michigan State University: Next step of FRIB project approved by MSU board
September 7, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has given its approval to the next step in the development of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a world-class nuclear research facility that will attract scientists from all over the world to East Lansing.
In approving the administration’s request to proceed with the next phase of the project, the board established a budget of $55 million, which will be used for building the exterior structures of the target high bay, linear accelerator support building, cryoplant building and the electron cyclotron resonance area. Approval was given during Friday’s meeting of the MSU Board of Trustees.
FRIB was successfully reviewed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science in April, confirming the project’s readiness to establish a baseline for cost, scope, schedule and readiness to begin construction of conventional facilities pending approval from DOE-SC.
University of New Hampshire: ArgenTech Solutions Awarded Technology Innovation Grant from New Hampshire Innovation Research Center
Funds to Be Used for Development of Photoluminescent-Based Powder Coatings
September 4, 2012
DURHAM, N.H. — The New Hampshire Innovation Research Center (NHIRC) at the University of New Hampshire has awarded a Granite State Technology Innovation Grant to ArgenTech Solutions, Inc. (AgTS) to help develop a high-performance, photoluminescent powder coating additive suitable for advanced safety and military applications. AgTS specializes in identifying emerging, innovative technologies that can be rapidly integrated to enhance system performance. The resulting product will be available in a wide range of colors and aims to be significantly brighter and longer lasting than any products currently available.
Read more: http://www.unh.edu/...
University of New Hampshire: NSF Awards $450,000 to UNH, Conductive Compounds Inc. for Solar Panel Innovation
September 5, 2012
DURHAM, N.H. – University of New Hampshire researchers and Conductive Compounds Inc. in Hudson recently received $450,000 from the National Science Foundation to help produce more conductive and cost-effective solar panels. The three-year grant, under the GOALI (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry) program, will support the engineering of nanoparticles of silver suitable for screen-printing onto photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
To generate electricity from the sun, solar panels must have metal on the top and bottom to create a positive and negative connection, like a battery. Coating the shaded bottom side is fairly easy, but on the top, panels are screen-printed with lines of silver fine enough that they maximize light exposure.
“But the ink that creates these lines is not nearly as conductive as pure silver,” says principal investigator Dale Barkey, professor of chemical engineering at UNH. “We’d like to produce inks that are much more conductive than the ones on the market.”
University of Massachusetts, Boston: Hubway Bike-sharing Kiosk Arrives at UMass Boston
September 07, 2012
The University of Massachusetts Boston has partnered with the city of Boston to install a Hubway bike-sharing kiosk on campus, giving students, faculty, staff, and community members the opportunity to rent bicycles and pedal between an array of stations throughout Boston.
Crews installed a 19-dock solar-powered Hubway station Friday afternoon across from the Campus Center, by the HarborWalk. A second kiosk was installed at the JFK/UMass MBTA station. The installation is part of UMass Boston’s ongoing efforts to encourage people to use sustainable methods of transportation on and off campus.
"We are very excited to bring the Hubway program to campus,” said Diane D’Arrigo, assistant vice chancellor for campus services. “As part of our transportation demand management efforts on campus, we are always looking at new ways to offer more convenient, alternative commuting options to the UMass Boston community and our neighbors.”
University of Michigan: Vehicle fuel economy up for the first time since March
September 6, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Fuel economy of all new vehicles sold in the United States is up for the first time in five months, say researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
Average fuel economy (window-sticker values) of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs purchased in August was 23.8 mpg, the fourth-best month on record and an 18 percent increase (3.7 mpg) from October 2007, the first month of monitoring by UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle.
The improvement from July to August—0.2 mpg—most likely reflects the increased price of gasoline, they say.
Science, Space, Health, Environment, and Energy Policy
University of Michigan: Common hospital-acquired infection rarely reported in the dataset used to implement hospital penalties
U-M analysis shows that Medicare policy to withhold payments for catheter-associated urinary tract infections during hospital stays rarely changed payment
September 5, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Aiming to cut expenses and improve care, a 2008 Medicare policy stopped paying hospitals extra to treat some preventable, hospital-acquired conditions – including urinary tract infections (UTIs) in patients after bladder catheters are placed.
But a statewide analysis by the University of Michigan shows there was very little change in hospital payment due to removing pay for hospital-acquired catheter-associated UTIs. For all adult hospital stays in Michigan in 2009, eliminating payment for this infection decreased hospital pay for only 25 hospital stays (0.003 percent of all stays). This is in great contrast to the large savings anticipated, given that this condition accounts for nearly one third of all hospital-acquired infections.
The reason, U-M authors say, is that the “no-pay” policy uses billing data that is inaccurate for identifying such complications.
University of Michigan: U-M to host event at which HHS, education leaders will call for tobacco free campuses
September 4, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—More than a year after the University of Michigan became smoke-free, the Ann Arbor campus will host an event during which leaders from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will call upon all institutions of higher learning to adopt similar policies and make their campuses tobacco-free.
Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be present at the U-M School of Public Health to announce a national initiative to eliminate tobacco use on college campuses. Koh will be joined by President Mary Sue Coleman and tobacco policy experts and educational leaders from the across the country.
"We are witnessing a public health evolution to make smoking history and protect people from tobacco dependence so that they have a fighting chance to enjoy their full potential for health," Koh said. "Implementing this initiative will bring us closer to a world where tobacco-related illness is uncommon and lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the country, is rare. The work starts now — join us in the movement to create tobacco free campuses for all."
Wayne State University: Wayne State employee appointed to state commission on aging
September 5, 2012
LANSING, Mich. – Patricia Rencher, community education coordinator for the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, has been appointed to the Commission on Services to the Aging by Gov. Rick Snyder. “This is the apex of nearly nine years of helping my dad age at home and my mom reside well in a nursing home,” said Rencher, who has a master’s degree in public policy and a graduate certificate in gerontology from Wayne State. Her work at the Institute of Gerontology, combined with personal caregiving experience, gives her a well-rounded understanding of Michigan’s core aging issues. “Now I can use what I know to inform the state legislature on the needs of older adults,” she said.
The 15-member board advises the governor and legislature on the coordination and administration of state programs and changes to federal and state programs related to aging. Gov. Snyder expressed confidence that, “The varied backgrounds and years of extensive experiences these outstanding individuals bring will effectively support the continued mission and service of the commission.”
University of Delaware: Scholars Research Day
UD undergraduate students showcase summer biomedical research
8:46 a.m., Sept. 5, 2012
University of Delaware undergraduate student interns in the Delaware IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (Delaware INBRE) program showcased a summer of research efforts during a special event Aug. 20.
Their work was shared during the Christiana Care Health System (CCHS) Value Institute’s Scholars Research Day and Luncheon, which was held in the John H. Ammon Medical Education Center on the Christiana Hospital campus.
Thomas Bauer, M.D., Christiana Care’s co-principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health’s Delaware INBRE, said the Value Institute’s summer research program is an opportunity to educate the next generation of scientists working together in the medical and academic communities.
University of Rhode Island: URI students visit Japan to study tsunami aftermath
KINGSTON, R.I. – August 31, 2012
A group of University of Rhode Island students and faculty spent 10 days in Iwate Prefecture, Japan this month learning first-hand about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and working on class projects aimed at helping the communities recover.
The three-credit class, taught by three URI professors along with professors and students from the University of Tokyo, is the result of a memorandum of understanding signed in May by the two universities to offer summer courses on coastal management. The course location will alternate each year between Rhode Island and Japan.
“The course was designed to provide an interdisciplinary and international perspective on coastal management issues,” explained Rob Thompson, URI professor of marine affairs, who taught the course for free along with Tim George, professor of history, and Hirotsugu Uchida, assistant professor of natural resource economics. “While Japan’s building codes for earthquakes performed exceedingly well, their massive system of tsunami walls failed catastrophically. Now they’re faced with difficult decisions about what to rebuild, where to rebuild and how to rebuild.”
Science Writing and Reporting
WBUR: Worms And Germs: Their Absence May Explain Ills From Allergies To Asthma
By Carey Goldberg
September 7, 2012
First he hooked me with the hookworms. Who knew there was a whole underground network of people who, in hopes of curing allergies or Crohns disease, go to great lengths — such as stomping about in outhouse offal — to get themselves infected with nasty parasites?
Then he arrested me with the alopecia. I’d glanced at the author photo on the jacket, and something looked a bit off: He wasn’t just completely bald, he also lacked eyebrows and eyelashes. On page 2, he explained that he had alopecia universalis, an auto-immune disease that left virtually no hair on his entire body.
But what kept me reading all through vacation — and really, I’d rather not spend my leisure time with whipworms and “orofecal” bacteria — is that in his new book, An Epidemic Of Absence, author Moises Velasquez-Manoff turned my head around. Ah, the pleasing sound of mental gears grinding as the paradigm shifts!
Science is Cool
University of Massachusetts Medical School: Beauty and the brain merge in art exhibit
Vivian Budnik interprets neurologic structures in pen and ink
By Sandra Gray
September 6, 2012
Through drawings in ink and works in other media, neuroscientist Vivian Budnik, PhD, portrays the beauty of the microscopic structures of the brain that she studies as professor and vice chair of neurobiology. A selection of Dr. Budnik’s drawings comprises the next Artist in Residence exhibit at the Medical School’s Lamar Soutter Library. “Brainscapes” opens Monday, Sept. 10, and will be on display through Oct. 29.
Reflecting on how her artistic and scientific talents intersected, Budnik wrote in her artist’s statement, “The attraction was not only to inquiry and discovery, but also to the aesthetics of living things, particularly of neurons.”