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, and energy stories from universities in the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, and Wisconsin.
This week's featured story comes from the L.A. Times and NASA Television on YouTube.
NASA astronauts open SpaceX capsule hatch and begin unloading cargo
By W.J. Hennigan
May 26, 2012, 3:36 a.m.
Less than 24 hours after a historic docking, astronauts aboard the International Space Station clambered into SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft and began unloading supplies that were packed inside.
Wearing oxygen masks as a precaution, the astronauts opened the hatch, slid the door open, and took delivery of the 1,014 pounds of food, water and clothing aboard Dragon.
"Like the smell of a brand new car," said NASA astronaut Don Pettit, after going inside.
Live coverage of the hatch opening, which included some of the first video footage from inside the cone-shaped Dragon, started Saturday shortly before 3 a.m PDT on the Hawthorne company's website and NASA TV.
Speaking of NASA TV...
Enter The Dragon on This Week @NASA
The crew of the International Space Station opened the hatch of the recently berthed SpaceX Dragon capsule, the first commercial craft to fly to the ISS. Also, Venus Transit, Fallen Heroes, Carbon-Sensing Sherpa, and more.
More stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Watch this space!
Getting to Know Your Solar System (14): Phobos & Deimos
Forward vs. Backward: SpaceX vs. Heartland
This week in science: Catch a Dragon by the tail
Houston Chronicle: Hospitals prepare for a plus-size future
Hospitals, clinics making changes to accommodate heavier patients, reduce the risk of injury to staff
By Jeannie Kever
Updated 11:42 p.m., Sunday, May 20, 2012
Stretchers that can transport 500-pound patients. Wheelchairs designed for people who weigh 700 pounds. Toilets made to support half a ton.
Hospitals and clinics are preparing for a future in which almost half of the population will be obese.
"Obesity is just rampant," said Trudy Ivins, bariatric program director at Memorial Hermann-Memorial City, who has helped the hospital incorporate furniture and equipment for heavier patients and their families throughout its facilities.
The annual cost for obesity-related illnesses is estimated at $190 billion, but that doesn't count the price tag for plus-size furniture and equipment, which can cost 50 percent more than conventional equipment. Economists say those expenses ultimately will be passed on to everyone in the form of higher medical bills.
Arizona State University: In the Shadow of the Moon
What does a solar eclipse look like from the Moon? The LROC NAC captured four images of the Earth, two on each of two successive orbits, during this solar eclipse. In these images you can see the Moon's shadow passing over the Earth over a period of about two hours.
YouTube: SpaceX Dragon COTS 3 Rendezvous Grapple Berthing Timelapse
Note: there is no sound with this video.
New Scientist (UK): Astrophile: The outermost ocean in the solar system
by Jeff Hecht
17:15 25 May 2012
The Voyager 2 spacecraft flew past Triton in 1989, sending back images of the moon's frozen surface. They revealed signs of cryovolcanism – the eruption of subsurface liquids which quickly freeze when exposed to the cold of the outer solar system. As such, Triton joins a short list of worlds in the solar system known to be geologically active.
Its surface ice is unique, too: largely composed of nitrogen, with some cantaloupe-textured terrain, and a polar cap of frozen methane.
But with a name like Triton – the messenger of the big sea in Greek mythology – this moon should really carry one more feature: is there an ocean hiding beneath its icy veneer? A new model suggests there could be. Understanding why requires a quick look at Triton's unique history.
io9: There’s more water on Jupiter’s moon Europa than there is on Earth
By Robert T. Gonzalez
May 24, 2012 1:30 PM
Remember that image from a few weeks back that showed Earth with all its water gathered up in a sphere beside it? Well here's that image again, only this time, it also features Jupiter's moon Europa, along with all of its water. Notice anything interesting?
Based on data acquired by NASA's Galileo satellite, astronomers think the global oceans sloshing around beneath Europa's icy exterior are likely 2—3 times more voluminous than the oceans here on Earth. Not 2—3 times more proportionally, 2—3 times more in total volume.
Yeah. That "little" moon is packing quite the supply of H2O — and with it, scientists think, a significant chance of harboring life.
NASA: NASA Funded Research Shows Existence of Reduced Carbon on Mars
May 24, 2012
WASHINGTON -- NASA-funded research on Mars meteorites that landed on Earth shows strong evidence that very large molecules containing carbon, which is a key ingredient for the building blocks of life, can originate on the Red Planet. These macromolecules are not of biological origin, but they are indicators that complex carbon chemistry has taken place on Mars.
Researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington who found reduced carbon molecules now have better insight into the chemical processes taking place on Mars. Reduced carbon is carbon that is bonded to hydrogen or itself. Their findings also may assist in future quests for evidence of life on the Red Planet. The findings are published in Thursday's online edition of Science Express.
"These findings show that the storage of reduced carbon molecules on Mars occurred throughout the planet's history and might have been similar to processes that occurred on the ancient Earth," said Andrew Steele, lead author of the paper and researcher from Carnegie. "Understanding the genesis of these non-biological, carbon-containing macromolecules on Mars is crucial for developing future missions to detect evidence of life on our neighboring planet."
Texas Tech University: Astronaut Launches into Texas Tech Doctorate Program
Joseph Acaba currently is on a four-month tour of duty aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft.
Written by Leslie Cranford
May 15, 2012
The College of Education at Texas Tech announced a NASA astronaut has been accepted to its doctoral program in education.
Joseph Acaba launched May 14 for a four-month tour of duty aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft as part of the team for Mission 31/32 to the International Space Station. He also has been accepted to Texas Tech’s new Blended Delivery Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with Specialization in Science Education for the cohort starting this fall.
Texas A&M University: Researchers aim to assemble the tree of life for all 2 million named species
The resulting tree will be digital, downloadable, continuously updated
By: Robin Ann Smith, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
May 25, 2012
A new initiative aims to build a grand tree of life that brings together everything scientists know about how all living things are related, from the tiniest bacteria to the tallest tree.
Dr. Tiffani Williams (pictured), associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, is part of the project. williams
Scientists have been building evolutionary trees for more than 150 years, ever since Charles Darwin drew the first sketches in his notebook. But despite significant progress in fleshing out the major branches of the tree of life, today there is still no central place where researchers can go to browse and download the entire tree.
"Where can you go to see their collective results in one resource? The surprising thing is you can't — at least not yet," said Dr. Karen Cranston of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent).
But now, thanks to a three-year, $5.76 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, a team of scientists and developers from ten universities aims to make that a reality.
Sci-News.com: New Genus of Velvet Spider Named after Lou Reed
May 23, 2012
An international team of biologists has discovered a new genus of velvet spider and named it after Lou Reed, an American rock musician and songwriter.
They found that one particularly enigmatic species belongs to a new genus. In recognition of the fact that this velvet spider lives underground, the new genus has been named Loureedia in a whimsical salute to the musician who began his distinguished career leading the 60s rock band “The Velvet Underground.”
Sci-News.com: Extremely Rare Sumatran Striped Rabbit Captured on Camera
May 25, 2012
Using camera traps, wildlife researchers have captured photographs of one of the rarest animals on Earth, the Sumatran striped rabbit.
This rare rabbit, Nesolagus netscheri, was first photographed in Kerinci Seblat National Park in 1998 and has rarely been seen since. The new pictures and other observations of the rabbit are reported in the current issue of the journal Oryx.
“Whether the rabbit does occur undetected in other parks is not certain, but the importance of protecting these two known strongholds of the species is critical,” said lead author Jennifer McCarthy, a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Sci-News.com: Researchers Identify New Sensory Organ in Whales
May 24, 2012
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a new sensory organ in rorqual whales that coordinates its signature lunge-feeding behavior – and may help explain their enormous size.
Rorqual whales are a subgroup of baleen whales – including blue, fin, minke and humpback whales. They are characterized by a special, accordion-like blubber layer that goes from the snout to the navel. The blubber expands up to several times its resting length to allow the whales to engulf large quantities of prey-laden water, which is then expelled through the baleen to filter krill and fish.
A new study published in Nature reports the discovery of an organ at the tip of the whale’s chin, lodged in the ligamentous tissue that connects their two jaws.
University of Kentucky: New Study Shows How Nanotechnology Can Help Detect Disease Earlier
By Allyson Perry
LEXINGTON, KY. (May 21, 2012) — A new study led by University of Kentucky researchers shows a new way to precisely detect a single chemical at extremely low concentrations and high contamination.
The ability to detect a chemical at a low concentration and high contamination is especially important for environmental surveillance, homeland security, athlete drug monitoring, toxin/drug screening, and earlier disease diagnosis.
In the case of disease diagnosis, the production of an unusual metabolic product is a feature of disease, but in early stages, the concentration of this product is very low. Single molecule detection will facilitate the early detection of disease such as cancer, so as to facilitate earlier treatment.
University of Wisconsin: Clinical Trial: More Evidence that Cancer Drug Treats Macular Degeneration
May 22, 2012
Madison, Wisconsin - The second year of data from a nationwide, federally funded trial continues to show that the cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) is an effective and economical treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) study, published recently in the Journal of Ophthalmology, built on the one-year results that came out a year ago. They both showed that bevacizumab and the 40 times more expensive Lucentis (ranibizumab) are equally good treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration.
"This is more good news for patients," said Dr. Suresh Chandra, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "We also found that patients who were treated monthly did a little bit better than those who received the medication 'as needed.'"
University of Wisconsin: Sleep Apnea Associated with Higher Mortality from Cancer
May 21, 2012
Madison, Wisconsin, and San Francisco - Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), commonly known as sleep apnea, is associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality, according to a new study.
While previous studies have associated SDB with increased risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, and early death, this is the first human study to link apnea with higher rate of cancer mortality.
Lead author Dr. F. Javier Nieto, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says the study showed a nearly five times higher incidence of cancer deaths in patients with severe SDB compared to those without the disorder, a result that echoes previous findings in animal studies.
Galveston County Daily News: Genetic susceptibility to mesothelioma
By Norbert Herzog and David Niesel
University of Texas Medical Center
Published May 22, 2012
Today, a simple blood test can tell whether someone carries the genetic mutation for breast, colon and possibly even lung cancer. This is possible because years of research have allowed scientists to identify genes responsible for tumor development.
Among the most recent discoveries is the genetic mutation behind mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that forms in the lining of the chest and abdomen. About 3,000 people die of mesothelioma every year, nearly half within one year of diagnosis.
The main cause of this cancer is asbestos, a fibrous material that gets inhaled into the lungs. The National Institutes of Health estimates 11 million people were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1978, but symptoms typically don’t show up for 25 to 50 years, so the number of mesothelioma cases won’t peak until about 2020.
Yet, for years, scientists have been puzzled as to why only a small fraction of people exposed to asbestos develops mesothelioma. Scientists at the NIH might have just discovered the reason. They’ve identified a gene that, if mutated, predisposes people to mesothelioma and melanoma of the eye.
University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio: Revised ARDS definition sets out levels of severity
Goal is to detect most serious cases of deadly lung disease earlier
SAN ANTONIO (May 21, 2012) — An international task force today unveiled a revised definition of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a disease first recognized during the Vietnam War in casualties with limb injuries who had trouble breathing.
The new definition includes a distinction between the most serious cases of ARDS and cases that are less advanced, said Antonio Anzueto, M.D., of UT Medicine San Antonio, a pulmonologist who served on the ARDS Definition Task Force. The guidelines are based on evidence from data of more than 4,000 patients with ARDS, including 200 from San Antonio.
The guidelines, called the Berlin Definition, are described in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This paper represents a more vigilant approach to identification and diagnosis of ARDS, which doesn’t necessarily begin in the lungs, Dr. Anzueto said. “This new stratification of severity will make clinicians aware the process is starting and interventions have to be applied almost immediately to prevent the disease from progressing,” he said.
University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio: Behavioral support from peers, staff lowers patients’ blood pressure
SAN ANTONIO (May 21, 2012) — Behavioral support from peers and primary care office staff can help patients improve their blood pressure control by as much as starting a new drug, a new study found. Barbara J. Turner, M.D., M.S.Ed., M.A., M.A.C.P., of UT Medicine San Antonio, is the senior author.
The randomized, controlled trial examined whether six months of intervention — behavioral support from peers and primary care office staff — could benefit African-American patients who had poor control of systolic pressure despite one to two years of prescriptions and office visits. Systolic pressure is the force of the blood against vessels as the heart contracts.
“These patients had previously failed to have their blood pressure controlled despite physicians continuing to intensity their medications, so we decided that adding more medicine just wasn’t going to work,” Dr. Turner said. “You start to think, what other things could I do for this person rather than just pills?”
MD Anderson Cancer Center: Skp2 activates cancer-promoting, glucose-processing Akt
E3 ligase’s role makes it target for defeating Herceptin resistance, stifling cancer’s preferred diet
MD Anderson News Release 05/25/2012
HER2 and its epidermal growth factor receptor cousins mobilize a specialized protein to activate a major player in cancer development and sugar metabolism, scientists report in the May 25 issue of Cell.
This chain of events, the scientists found, promotes Herceptin resistance in breast cancer and activation of glucose metabolism (glycolysis), which cancer cells primarily rely on to fuel their growth and survive.
Their research focused on Skp2 E3 ligase, a protein that binds to and tags other proteins with molecules called ubiquitins, in this case to activate the Akt kinase.
“We discovered a novel function of Skp2 E3 ligase that makes it an important player in cancer development and also identified a crucial role for it as a regulator of the glycolysis pathway,” said senior author Hui-Kuan Lin, Ph.D., associate professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.
Texas A&M University: Automation in medical records could save lives
By Kristin MacKenzie '13 • May 22nd, 2012 • Category: Research Notes
Medical errors account for 98,000 deaths each year in the U.S., according to a 1999 report published by The Institute of Medicine (IOM). In a more recent report, the IOM claims medical errors harm 1.5 million people and cost $3.5 billion every year. Interestingly, the report claims that medical errors are not due to incompetent people, but to bad systems that include the processes and methods used to carry out various functions.
These staggering numbers and facts have caught the attention of many researchers, including Ram Janakiraman, assistant professor of marketing at Mays Business School, Shelley and Joe Tortorice ’70 Faculty Research Fellow and Mays Teaching Fellow.
Texas Tech University: Researchers Find Antibiotic Residues, One a Suspected Carcinogen, in Shrimp Samples
Texas Tech conducted the study for ABC's ‘World News with Diane Sawyer.’
Written by John Davis
May 21, 2012
After testing farm-raised shrimp samples of international origin for ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer,” researchers at Texas Tech found evidence of antibiotics – one a suspected human carcinogen – in seafood imported into the United States and purchased from grocery store shelves.
Ron Kendall, director of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech, said researchers tested only the muscle tissues consumed by people. When concluded, they found that about 10 percent of the 30 samples tested contained evidence of three antibiotics.
Though the sample sizes were small, he said finding antibiotic residues at all is cause for concern. Todd Anderson, a professor of environmental toxicology, and instrument manager QingSong Cai conducted the shrimp analyses.
Texas Tech University: Researchers Still Play Big Role in Storm Shelter Development
A variety of shelters are now available, and they all seek one thing: Texas Tech's seal of approval.
Written by Karin Slyker
May 22, 2012
A flower grows from a crack in the concrete slab where a home once stood in Joplin, Mo. One year ago, an EF-5 tornado chewed through the town killing 161 people. Today, there are many new homes under construction, peppered with makeshift memorials where families lost loved ones.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Joplin tornado was one of among 1,688 confirmed that wrought havoc on the U.S. in 2011. It was the deadliest season since 1925.
Houston Chronicle: Sure has been dry recently. Are we setting the stage for another drought?
By Eric Berger
May 24, 2012
The city of Houston got a nice burst of rainfall two weeks ago. Since that time most of the region has gotten about one-quarter of an inch of rain.
At the same time temperatures have risen to near 90 degrees or above for the greater Houston area, a plateau we’ve reached for good with the virtual onset of summer.
The bottom line is that the ground is thirsty, and there’s no sign of significant rain in the immediate forecast.
Are we set up for another dry spell, then?
Houston Chronicle: NOAA issues forecast, calls for ‘near-normal’ Atlantic hurricane season
By Eric Berger
May 24, 2012
This morning NOAA issued its hurricane outlook for the 2012 season, suggesting a near-normal hurricane season is most likely.
Federal hurricane scientists predict:
9-15 Named Storms,
1-3 Major Hurricanes
The median number of named storms — that’s tropical storms and hurricanes — that have formed during Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1980 is 12, with 6.5 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.
The reasons for the near-normal prediction are pretty straightforward: sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, in contrast to most recent years, are relatively cool in some regions where tropical storms develop, and there’s the potential for the development of El Niño later in the season.
I'd bet on the high side of those predictions, especially for named storms, as we are already on the second storm on both coasts, Bud
in the Pacific and Beryl
in the Atlantic.
Discovery News via MSNBC: Quake reveals day of Jesus' crucifixion, researchers believe
They say analysis of Dead Sea seismic activity points to Friday, April 3, in year 33
By Jennifer Viegas
Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.
The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”
To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.
Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Wisconsin: Geology student drills into Tohoku quake source
by Jill Sakai
May 22, 2012
For the past eight weeks, geoscience graduate student Tamara Jeppson has traded her usual commute, from her Madison apartment to Weeks Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, for a single flight of stairs.
The stairs take her from her small cabin aboard the Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu to the laboratory where she spends her days analyzing geophysical data from the underwater fault zone responsible for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami.
Jeppson is one of 34 scientists in the Japan Trench Fast Drilling Project, which is drilling into the fault in search of clues to the conditions that led up to and ultimately triggered the 9.0 quake.
University of Texas at Austin: The University of Texas Researchers Win Grant to Develop Drug to Treat Addiction
May 24, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas — Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are teaming up to develop medication to treat alcoholism and drug addiction that could target individual genes or brain signaling systems.
They have received a $3.3 million, five-year grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for the project.
"The goal is to take some very new directions for developing medications for alcohol dependence and drug addiction," said R. Adron Harris, the project's principal investigator and director of the university's Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research. "Addiction is one of the most prevalent health problems in the country, and there are very few medications for treating it."
University of Texas at Austin: Exposure to Environmental Contaminants Today Can Influence Behavior Generations Later
May 22, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas — Exposure to chemicals has the ability to influence behavior of offspring several generations after the initial exposure, according to a new study published by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Washington State University.
The findings, published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, put a new twist on the notions of nature and nurture, with broad implications for how certain behavioral tendencies, including responses to stress, might be inherited.
The researchers — David Crews at The University of Texas at Austin, Michael Skinner at Washington State and colleagues — exposed gestating female rats to vinclozolin, a popular fruit and vegetable fungicide. The fungicide does not directly alter DNA but does causes changes in elements that regulate genes. This “epigenetic change” can be passed down to subsequent generations.
The researchers put the rats’ third generation of offspring through a variety of behavioral tests and found they were more anxious, more sensitive to stress, and had greater activity in stress-related regions of the brain than descendants of unexposed rats.
Sci-News.com: Earliest Musical Instruments Date Back 42000 Years
Oxford and Tübingen scientists have identified what they believe are the world’s oldest known musical instruments.
May 25, 2012
In their paper in the Journal of Human Evolution, the scientists report new results of radiocarbon dating for animal bones, excavated in the same archaeological layers as the musical instruments and early art, at Geißenklösterle Cave in the Swabian Jura of southern Germany.
The musical instruments take the form of flutes made from the bird bones and mammoth ivory. The animal bones bear cuts and marks from human hunting and eating. They were excavated at a key site, which is widely believed to have been occupied by some of first modern humans to arrive in Europe.
The researchers suggest that the Aurignacian, a culture linked with early modern humans and dating to the Upper Paleolithic period, began at the site between 42,000 and 43,000 years ago.
Gulf Times (Qatar): Qatar site finding may yield clues to Gulf’s history
A joint initiative between the Qatar Museums Authority and the University of Birmingham, the current season’s excavations recently completed with the next season to start in October.
By Bonnie James
Deputy News Editor
Exploration of two middens (refuse heaps) at Qatar’s prominent archaeological site of Wadi Debayan, with human occupation dating back to about 7,500 years ago, could unravel the story of the Gulf region itself.
Wadi Debayan, situated on the northwestern side of Qatar to the south of the site of Al Zubara and the Rá’s ‘Ushayriq peninsula, is being explored as part of the Remote Sensing and Qatar National Historical Environment Record (QNHER) Project.
A joint initiative between the Qatar Museums Authority and the University of Birmingham, the current season’s excavations recently completed with the next season to start in October.
Popular Archaeology: Ancient Clay Tablets Recovered from 9/11 Attack Restored and Translated
May 21, 2012
They were stored in the basement of the Customs House at 6 World Trade Center in New York City when the building was destroyed by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The ancient, 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablets, 302 in all, were looted from a site in southern Iraq sometime before the attacks. They had been confiscated by U.S. customs while they were in the process of being smuggled into Newark, N.J. and then placed temporarily in the basement of the Trade Center.
Scholars now know that the tablets resided in an archive near the city of Nippur, the religious capital of Sumeria, and 145 of them constitute records of a relatively high-ranking agricultural official named 'Aradmu', a fact that came to light when Benjamin Studevent-Hickman, a lecturer on Assyriology in Harvard’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, dedicated months translating the cuneiform characters on the tablets.
The Media Line: Huge Canaanite Jewelry Hoard Unearthed in Megiddo
Written by Arieh O’Sullivan
Published Monday, May 21, 2012
Archaeologists digging at Tel Megiddo in northern Israel have unearthed what turns out to be one of the largest troves of Canaanite treasures ever found, buried in rubble from destruction 3,100 years ago.
The treasure was hidden inside a clay vessel that had been unearthed in the summer of 2010. The pot had been filled with dirt and sent for testing. It was only recently that the dirt was examined in a restoration laboratory and the treasure revealed to their great surprise.
The hoard includes a collection of gold and silver jewelry, beads, a ring and a pair of unique gold earrings with molded ibexes and wild goats that was likely made in Egypt.
The Scotsman (UK): Rare Canna stone’s a blessing and a curse
By EMMA COWING
Published on Sunday 20 May 2012 00:00
AN ANCIENT “cursing stone” used by Christian pilgrims more than a thousand years ago to bring harm to their enemies has been discovered on Canna.
The round stone with an early Christian cross engraved on it, also known as a “bullaun” stone, is believed to be the first of its type to be found in Scotland, and was discovered by chance in an old graveyard on the island.
More commonly found in Ireland, the stones were used by ancient Christian pilgrims, who would turn them either while praying or when laying a curse, and were often to be found on sacred pilgrim routes. Traditionally, the pilgrim would turn the stone clockwise, wearing a depression or hole in a bigger “socket” stone underneath.
Life's Little Mysteries via LiveScience: Do the Easter Island Heads Really Have Bodies?
Natalie Wolchover, Life's Little Mysteries Staff Writer
Date: 25 May 2012 Time: 11:00 AM ET
An email containing photos of a startling excavation project has inundated inboxes in recent weeks. According to the email, the mysterious Easter Island statues — hundreds of huge, ancient carved stone heads that guard the hilly Pacific island landscape — actually have bodies. The email says archaeologists are now unearthing the statues' bodies, which were gradually buried by 500-plus years of erosion.
But are the surprising images, and the excavation project they depict, actually real? Are the famous Easter Island heads really full-bodied figures?
Diver Magazine Online (UK): Elizabethan wreck for Stoney
24 May 2012
Leicestershire’s Stoney Cove is to gain the wreckage of a 16th century armed merchantman as a diving attraction and archaeological training ground.
The remains were salved from London’s River Thames in 2004 and transported to Horsea Island lake in Hampshire, were they were stored before the decision to move them to Leicestershire.
There are, says the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS), “five huge sections” which are to be sunk at Stoney on 1 June in a depth of just 6m.
West Cork Times (Ireland): Schull shipwreck had nutty cargo
May 24, 2012
by Louise Roseingrave
UNDERWATER archaeologists are investigating the wreck of a wooden merchant ship that carried a cargo of coconuts discovered during pipe works in Schull Harbour.
The ship, believed to date back to the 16th century, is buried in the seabed in 10m of water just off the shoreline.
Contracted underwater archaeologist Julianna O’Donoghue suspended pipe laying works on the multi-million Schull Wastewater Treatment plant when machines struck and partly damaged the wreck last week.
London SE1 (UK): Bodies excavated during Thameslink works to be reburied
London SE1 website team
Friday 25 May 2012
A funeral service for an 'unknown parishioner' will take place in Southwark Cathedral next month to represent all the bodies that were found during excavations as part Network Rail's Thameslink viaduct project around Borough Market.
The remains of over 330 people, mostly dating from the early 19th century, were removed from the site of the former St Saviour's Almshouse Burial Ground in Park Street.
The remains will be reburied in a special plot in the new Kemnal Park Cemetery near Chislehurst. The new grave was blessed by the Dean of Southwark early on Thursday morning.
The body of the 'unknown parishioner' will be placed under a monument in the plot which will commemorate all those reburied there.
The Portsmouth News (UK): Mysterious shipwreck identified by researchers
Friday 25 May 2012 07:50
A MYSTERIOUS shipwreck that lay at the bottom of the Solent for 160 years has been identified by archaeologists.
The wreck, which lies on the Horse Tail Sands in the eastern Solent, was first discovered by fishermen when they caught their nets on it in 2003.
Now, after eight years of painstaking research, experts say the wreck is that of the Flower of Ugie, a 19th century wooden cargo ship that sank on December 27, 1852, following a great storm in the English Channel.
Yonhap News (South Korea): Remains of S. Korean soldiers killed in N. Korea return home for 1st time
SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- The remains of South Korean soldiers killed in North Korea during the Korean War returned home on Friday via the U.S., marking the first such repatriation of South Korean war dead since the 1953 armistice.
Twelve sets of remains, two of which have been positively identified, were among 226 sets recovered in the northern part of North Korea by a U.S. excavation team between 2000 and 2004, before Washington halted the joint recovery mission with Pyongyang due to concerns over the safety and security of its workers.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
University of Arkansas: Optoelectronics Research Lab Receives Grant for High-Resolution Microscope
Tool will help researchers continue work on new solar materials
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Optoelectronics Research Lab in the College of Engineering looks at things like no other lab on campus. The lab uses high-tech instruments to investigate new nanomaterials capable of harnessing the powerful energy of the sun. Electrical engineering professor Omar Manasreh, who runs the lab, will now be able to add a new piece of equipment for researchers: a micro-photoluminescence/Raman high-resolution microscope. The purchase is possible thanks to a grant of $200,000 from the Department of Defense and an additional $50,000 from the University of Arkansas.
The new lab instrument will be used to help characterize and test semiconductor nanocrystals, metallic nanoparticles and various, semiconductor nanostructures known as quantum dots. Once a material’s properties are determined, its applications and potential uses can be developed.
The applications go beyond power generation for spacecraft. The materials investigated may be used in spray paint for military vehicles and solar arrays used on Earth. As with all things related to the military and space program, there likely will be spinoff technologies that will become a part of everyday lives, similar to the way that technology for global-positioning systems developed into commercial products.
University of Arkansas: RFID Research Center Moving Into New Home
Dedicated building doubles space for seven-year-old center
Monday, May 21, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas RFID Research Center is moving into a new home of its own.
The facility at 1637 Fred Hanna Drive in Fayetteville will be the third location for the research center since it was founded in 2005 as part of the Information Technology Research Institute in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. This is the first building to be entirely dedicated to the center.
“With the explosion of the radio frequency identification industry in the past year, we’ve seen a corresponding increase here in research activity, technology interest and educational needs,” said Justin Patton, the research center’s managing director. “Having a larger facility of our own we can fully meet RFID demands and be ready for several other technologies on the near horizon.”
Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is the use of a wireless system to transmit data from tags on products to a receiver for the purpose of identifying and tracking the product through the supply chain.
University of Kentucky: Chemistry Professor Awarded Grant From National Science Foundation
By Sarah Geegan
Published: May 25, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 25, 2012) — Chemistry Professor Yinan Wei recently received a $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a study expected to generate some of the first ever data in her subject matter.
The proposal, titled "Protein Activity and Oligomer Stability in Cell Membrane," will focus on questions surrounding how proteins oligomerize in cell membrane, or in other words, how membrane-spanning proteins that function in units containing more than one subunit, assemble in nature.
"The selective permeability of cell membranes, which is essential for all life forms that we know, is conferred by membrane proteins," Wei said. "Approximately 80 percent of membrane proteins with known structures exist as oligomers when crystallized, indicating a large portion of proteins function as oligomers in cell membrane.
University of Wisconsin: High-speed method to aid search for solar energy storage catalysts
by Terry Devitt
May 25, 2012
Eons ago, nature solved the problem of converting solar energy to fuels by inventing the process of photosynthesis.
Plants convert sunlight to chemical energy in the form of biomass, while releasing oxygen as an environmentally benign byproduct. Devising a similar process by which solar energy could be captured and stored for use in vehicles or at night is a major focus of modern solar energy research.
“It is widely recognized that solar energy is the most abundant source of energy on the planet,” explains University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry professor Shannon Stahl. “Although solar panels can convert sunlight to electricity, the sun isn't always shining.”
Thus, finding an efficient way to store solar energy is a major goal for science and society. Efforts today are focused on electrolysis reactions that use sunlight to convert water, carbon dioxide, or other abundant feedstocks into chemicals that can be stored for use any time.
University of Texas at El Paso: New Charging Stations Spark UTEP’s Green Efforts
By Daniel Perez
Published on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 15:07
UTEP News Service
The University of Texas at El Paso took a giant green step toward environmental sustainability when it opened 10 electric vehicle charging stations on campus for students, staff, faculty and visitors.
Four stations are at the Sun Bowl Parking Garage and the Mike Loya Academic Services Building, and the other two are inside the Schuster Parking Garage. They were installed last month and commissioned for service last week, University officials said.
“We’re moving forward with sustainability,” said Paul Stresow, director of UTEP’s Parking and Transportation Services. “Several other campuses in the UT System are doing this, but we’re at the crest of the wave in change and technology, which is where we should be as a University.”
Texas Tech University: Rawls College Adds Energy Commerce as Area of Study
The academic program is considered by industry and universities alike, to be the best in the country
Written by Leslie Cranford
May 25, 2012
The energy commerce program at Texas Tech just got a promotion. The program, housed in the Rawls College of Business, is now an official area of study, the Area of Energy Commerce.
“The Rawls energy commerce (EC) program is considered, by industry and universities alike, to be the premier program in the country,” said Debbie Laverie, senior associate dean.
The bump from program to area reflects the fact that the complexity of the industry has expanded far beyond the petroleum land management focus of previous years, said Terry McInturff, area coordinator.
“While oil and gas operations still are our backbone and many of our graduates do become in-house landmen, we are also educating students to enter the industry as energy lenders, gas marketers, commodity traders, energy accountants and alternative energy consultants – the list of opportunities is virtually endless,” McInturff said.
Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy
Agence France Presse via Vancouver Desi (Canada): Italy busts eBay looted artefacts ring
Published on May 18, 2012 by DesiWireFeed
Rome, May 18, 2012 (AFP) – Italian police on Friday said they were investigating 70 people for trading thousands of looted archaeological artefacts including ancient coins and vases on Internet auction site eBay.
The investigation began when the police found an eBay announcement in 2009 and they tracked down a father and son team of tomb raiders in a village in Calabria in southern Italy who had dug up Byzantine, Greek and Roman burials.
Gulf Daily News (Bahrain): Stolen ancient relics recovered
By Mohammed Al A'al
Friday, May 25, 2012
WORK is underway to return boulders stolen from historical sites in A'ali by saboteurs to set up roadblocks during clashes with police.
Masked youths had cut the barbed wire fence surrounding the village's burial mounds earlier this month, took the boulders and used them to block roads.
Some of the historical boulders have also been broken into smaller pieces when they were removed from the streets by cleaning companies, the GDN earlier reported.
The Culture Ministry has started the process to return them to their original location before the sites get re-fenced to ensure no further trespassing takes place.
7 News (Belize): ATM Cave Closed – Tourist Dropped Camera On Ancient Skull
posted (May 23, 2012)
The Actun Tunichil Muknal cave or ATM - for short, may be the most prized and treasured Mayan site in Belize - and that's because of the spectacular skeletal remains of 15 individuals that can be found there.
They are estimated to be over a thousand years old - and the most precious is the so called Crystal Maiden, the skeletal remains of a young woman.
Not far from Belmopan, it is a popular tourist destination, but a couple weeks ago, during one of the regular tours, one of the tourists got a little careless around one of the skeletons. He dropped his camera, fracturing one of the thousand year old skulls.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
University of Kentucky: Six Research Networks Join Forces to Examine Geographic Differences in Public Health Delivery
By Ann Blackford, Vikki Franklin
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 22, 2012) — A new large-scale research project called MPROVE (Multi-Network Research Practice and Outcome Variation Examination), the first project to bring together the power of six public health practice-based research networks (PBRNs) from across the country, will look at how geography may play a role in the delivery of public health services that promote health and prevent disease and injury in communities.
Each of the six PBRNs has received a $50,000 MPROVE grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to participate in the study being coordinated by the PBRN National Coordinating Center (NCC), housed at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. Each PBRN will collect data on the scope, intensity and quality of local public health services delivered in the areas of communicable disease control, chronic disease prevention, and environmental health protection.
The results of MPROVE will help to identify why some communities receive more or better health services than others – and what health and economic impacts result from these differences. These findings will help public health practitioners and policy officials make better decisions about where best to invest new resources to maximize gains in population health, and where to cut resources during times of depleted funding to minimize the negative impact on people’s health.
Texas A&M University: Combating childhood obesity with healthy choices
Published: May 21, 2012
Researchers are evaluating policy changes to the WIC program, which provides food assistance to low-income families.
America's expanding waistline is not limited to adults. Approximately one in five children are obese too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To combat this problem, the state of Texas has implemented a number of policies that focus on environmental factors contributing to childhood obesity.
University of Wisconsin: Students win policy challenge with ideas on solar energy incentives
May 22, 2012
Two La Follette School students won the U.S. Department of Energy portion of the Startup America Policy Challenge with their proposal about how to make solar energy more affordable.
Sam Harms and Sam Shannon were in Washington, D.C., on May 21 as part of the Startup America Policy Challenge announced by the White House in December 2011. The two second-year students talked with Richard Kauffman, senior advisor to the secretary of energy, and presented their ideas to a panel of industry and government leaders in energy, education and health policy.
“Under our proposal, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would establish a framework to encourage electric utilities to lease solar photovoltaic modules to businesses and homeowners,” Harms says. “Customers would pay a monthly fee to use the electricity produced, which would make renewable power more affordable. Utilities would be able to put any excess onto the grid and apply all generated electricity toward state requirements to use renewable energy.”
Columbus Dispatch: Archaeology useless? Not in educated society
The Daily Beast, the online home of Newsweek magazine, recently posted a list of “the 13 most useless” college majors. Archaeology was listed along with anthropology at No. 9. The compilers of the list used employment opportunities and earnings potential as their criteria for usefulness.
I take issue with the notion that archaeology is useless and find it sad that the important contributions archaeology can make are so undervalued by the contemporary marketplace.
In a timely paper, published online last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archaeologists Michael Smith, Gary Feinman, Robert Drennan, Timothy Earle and Ian Morris make the case that archaeology is a vital social science that provides a uniquely valuable perspective on human history.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Arkansas: George Washington Carver Research Program Celebrates 15th Year
This is the largest class of Carver students to take part in the program at the University of Arkansas.
May 25, 2012
Forty-four undergraduate students from 14 colleges in 8 states arrived in Fayetteville Sunday, May 20, to attend the university’s George Washington Carver summer research program. This is the largest class of Carver students to take part in the program at the University of Arkansas. During the course of the program students will work and learn in university research labs and on research projects, be mentored by faculty and graduate students, learn about attending graduate school, and get to know what life is like on the Fayetteville campus. When they return to their home campuses in July, they will have gained valuable information about graduate school and their potential place in the larger community of their academic discipline.
The Carver program is in its 15th year as a recruitment initiative of the Graduate School and International Education designed to identify superior students of historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, and Hispanic-serving institutions for selected undergraduate internship positions. In celebration of the 15 year milestone the students will not only visit Carver’s birthplace in Diamond MO, but will travel to Tuskegee AL and explore the Tuskegee Institute where Dr. Carver’s research brought him wide publicity and increasing renown.
University of Kentucky: UK Holds Wing Design Competition for High School Students
By Kel Hahn, Jenny Wells
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 29, 2012) — Planes designed and built by nine Kentucky high schools took to the air Monday, May 14, in the second Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education (KIAE) Wing Design Competition, held at Lucas Field in Nicholasville, Ky. The event was once again hosted by R.J. Corman Aviation Services and coordinated by the University of Kentucky College of Engineering and NASA Kentucky.
Teams were challenged to design and construct a wing for their remote-controlled aircraft with one notable change from last year's event; in addition to last year's scoring for wing size-to-payload ratio, a new “speed round” required teams to build for speed and strength. Teaching modules on aerodynamics and stability were provided by UK mechanical engineering professors Sean Bailey and Jesse Hoagg.
"The hope is that the students who learned the material from the teaching modules this year will pass it on to new students next year, creating an accumulated body of knowledge that grows as it is handed down year after year," said Hoagg.
University of Kentucky: Western Kentucky High School Students Tour UK Research Labs
By Jenny Wells
Published: May 24, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 24, 2012) — The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and Plugged In: The Northwest Kentucky Energy Initiative recently sponsored an energy research tour in Lexington for high school students from western Kentucky.
A group of 13 students from Henderson County High School and Union County High School visited the CAER labs where they met with researchers and learned about their projects. They also toured Fayette County Public School's Locust Trace AgriScience Farm.
Sarah Mardon, program coordinator for CAER in western Kentucky, organized and led the tour. Mardon is also an adviser for the Henderson County High School Energy Club.
University of Louisville: Portable planetarium will offer ‘out of this world’ experiences
by Cindy Hess, communications and marketing — last modified May 25, 2012 01:36 PM
A portable planetarium that can be set up in 45 minutes and accommodate 20 adults or 30 children will soon begin road shows to area schools and community events.
The University of Louisville unveiled the Owsley Brown II Portable Planetarium at a news conference May 25. When inflated, the dome is 13 feet high and has an internal screen that measures 21 feet across.
The dome has been on the “wish list” of UofL’s College of Education and Human Development for years because administrators believed it an ideal way to generate interest in math and science topics, especially for K-12 students. The portable planetarium and its programs are part of the college’s Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium.
University of Houston: UH Students Collaborating to Create Solar-Powered Outdoor Kitchen
Educational Structure to Complement Community Garden at the Park at Palm Center
May 16, 2012
Houston’s Palm Center (at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Griggs Road) has gone from shopping mecca to modest business center. Now, University of Houston faculty and students are helping transform the area around the southeast Houston staple into a peaceful place for community events and gatherings.
Among the recent projects at the site is a solar-powered outdoor demonstration kitchen that will complement a planned community garden. This versatile structure recently was designed by UH architecture and graphic communications students and is scheduled to be installed by fall.
Solar KitchenThis semester, the students collaborated on this pavilion that will serve as a shaded learning area and can host cooking or food demonstrations. Overseeing this project are Patrick Peters, professor in UH’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, and Cheryl Beckett, professor of graphic communications in the university’s School of Art.
Science Writing and Reporting
University of Wisconsin: Science communication under the microscope
by Terry Devitt
May 21, 2012
The process of science is not complete until the results of research are communicated. For a long time and for many researchers, the act of communicating research was geared primarily to other scientists.
Today, however, there is increasing awareness that communicating to the public — sharing not only results but the context of research — is essential if the scientific community is to successfully engage society.
"We know from decades of media effects research that most of us learn about science, or form attitudes about technologies like stem cell research or nanotechnology, from media," notes Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication and an organizer of the colloquium. "And we don't just learn about the science. We find out how politicians feel about developments in science and how these discoveries and technologies influence our daily lives."
Science is Cool
Lexington Herald-Leader via University of Kentucky: Adapt Grilling Style To Help Avoid Cancer
By Karina Christopher
May 20, 2012
Memorial Day is coming up, and it’s the perfect time of year for cookouts and picnics. However, research shows that the meat we grill and how we grill it might increase our risk of cancer.
Diets high in red meat (including beef, lamb and pork) or processed meat (bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, salami and pepperoni) can greatly increase your risk of colorectal cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, eating 3.5 ounces of processed meat every day increases colorectal cancer risk by 36 percent compared to eating no processed meat. After seven or more ounces, the risk of developing colorectal cancer is 72 percent higher.
Not only does your choice of meat matter, the chemicals found on the outside of meat during grilling might also increase your cancer risk.
University of Wisconsin: Educational games to train middle schoolers’ attention, empathy
by Jill Sakai
May 21, 2012
Two years ago, at a meeting on science and education, Richard Davidson challenged video game manufacturers to develop games that emphasize kindness and compassion instead of violence and aggression.
With a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison professor is now answering his own call. With Kurt Squire, an associate professor in the School of Education and director of the Games Learning Society Initiative, Davidson received a $1.39 million grant this spring to design and rigorously test two educational games to help eighth graders develop beneficial social and emotional skills — empathy, cooperation, mental focus, and self-regulation.
"By the time they reach the eighth grade, virtually every middle-class child in the Western world is playing smartphone apps, video games, computer games," says Davidson, the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at UW-Madison. "Our hope is that we can use some of that time for constructive purposes and take advantage of the natural inclination of children of that age to want to spend time with this kind of technology."