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 Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Wyoming (list from Politics1.com).
This week's featured story comes from JPL.
NASA Curiosity Team Pinpoints Site for First Drive
August 17, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. -- The scientists and engineers of NASA's Curiosity rover mission have selected the first driving destination for their one-ton, six-wheeled mobile Mars laboratory. The target area, named Glenelg, is a natural intersection of three kinds of terrain. The choice was described by Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology during a media teleconference on Aug. 17.
"With such a great landing spot in Gale Crater, we literally had every degree of the compass to choose from for our first drive," Grotzinger said. "We had a bunch of strong contenders. It is the kind of dilemma planetary scientists dream of, but you can only go one place for the first drilling for a rock sample on Mars. That first drilling will be a huge moment in the history of Mars exploration."
The trek to Glenelg will send the rover 1,300 feet (400 meters) east-southeast of its landing site. One of the three types of terrain intersecting at Glenelg is layered bedrock, which is attractive as the first drilling target.
More stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
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by tapu dali
NBC News on MSN: Researcher working on desert-grown rice
A University of Arizona researcher is working to create rice that will grow in desert conditions, as well as other drought resistant crops. KVOA's Danielle Lerner reports.
NASA Television on YouTube: President Praises Curiosity Team on This Week @NASA
Phoning from aboard Air Force One, President Obama congratulated the Mars Science Laboratory team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for its successful landing of the Curiosity rover on the Red Planet. Also, sun's decadal survey; Orion testing; and more!
NASA Televison on YouTube: ScienceCasts: Where Will Curiosity Go First?
Curiosity is safe on Mars and ready to roll. In this video from Science@NASA, project scientist John Grotzinger discusses where the rover might go first.
NASA Television on YouTube: We're NASA and We Know It (Mars Curiosity) Satire
Detroit News on YouTube: Marco Andretti cruises in a Chevy Volt
Indy Car race car driver Marco Andretti cruises in the Chevy Volt with Detroit News auto critic Doug Guthrie.
I had to get a Dream Cruise
story in here somehow.
University of Arizona: UA Astronomers Help Identify Biggest, Brightest Galaxy Cluster
The discovery may confirm a long-held theory about the birth of stars at the core of galaxy clusters.
By Jennifer Chu, MIT, and Daniel Stolte, UA University Communications
August 16, 2012
University of Arizona astronomers have helped identify the brightest and most rapidly star-forming galaxy cluster to date, as part of a multi-institution team led by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The cluster lies 7 billion light years away and dwarfs most known clusters, churning out a dazzling 740 new stars per year in its center. The Phoenix cluster, named after the constellation in which it resides, is among the most massive and most luminous in the universe.
As vast as the Milky Way may seem, our sprawling galaxy is but a speck next to the largest structures in the universe: galaxy clusters – collections of hundreds to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity. At the heart of most galaxy clusters sit massive old galaxies, within which only a few new stars are born each year.
JPL: Dawn Engineers Assess Reaction Wheel
UPDATE (posted at 5:30 p.m. PDT on Aug. 15, 2012): The Dawn flight team returned the spacecraft to its normal mode of operations on Tuesday, Aug. 14, and is revising the Vesta departure plan. Ion thrusting will resume on Friday, Aug. 17, and escape from Vesta is now expected to occur on Sept. 5. All of Dawn's reaction wheels remain powered off. The spacecraft will continue to use its attitude control thrusters for spacecraft pointing from now through the journey to Ceres. Arrival at Ceres is still expected to occur early in 2015. The reaction wheels will be exercised periodically during cruise.The Dawn team is identifying opportunities to do more troubleshooting on the wheel that developed excessive friction last week.
JPL: Orbiter Views NASA's New Mars Rover in Color
August 14, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. -- The first color image taken from orbit showing NASA's rover Curiosity on Mars includes details of the layered bedrock on the floor of Gale Crater that the rover is beginning to investigate.
Operators of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter added the color view to earlier observations of Curiosity descending on its parachute, and one day after landing.
"The rover appears as double bright spot plus shadows from this perspective, looking at its shadowed side, set in the middle of the blast pattern from the descent stage," said HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen, of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "This image was acquired from an angle looking 30 degrees westward of straight down. We plan to get one in a few days looking more directly down, showing the rover in more detail and completing a stereo pair."
Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech Advances Potential Commercial Space Flight System
August 14, 2012
Last spring private industry successfully sent a spacecraft carrying cargo to the International Space Station. Now the race is on to see which company will be the first to make commercial human spaceflight a reality.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is one of three companies that will receive hundreds of millions of dollars to further develop its commercial human spacecraft system, NASA announced earlier this month.
SNC has turned to Georgia Tech for expertise on how to ensure the smoothest possible re-entry for its spacecraft, the Dream Chaser, which is reminiscent of NASA’s space shuttle.
BBC: Neanderthal breeding idea doubted
By Jonathan Ball BBC News
Similarities between the DNA of modern people and Neanderthals are more likely to have arisen from shared ancestry than interbreeding, a study reports.
That is according to research carried out at the University of Cambridge and published this week in PNAS journal.
Previously, it had been suggested that shared parts of the genomes of these two populations were the result of interbreeding.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Arizona:
Division of Labor: Key to Evolution of Multicellular Life?
The cost of switching from one task to another, rather than increased efficiency through specialization, could be the driving force behind the evolution of division of labor, suggests a new study involving digital organisms.
By Danielle Whittaker, Michigan State University, and Daniel Stolte, UA University Communications
August 8, 2012
Dividing tasks among different individuals can be a more efficient way to get things done, whether you are an ant, a honeybee or a human.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PDF) suggests that this efficiency may also explain a key transition in evolutionary history: from single-celled to multi-celled organisms.
The scientists found the cost of switching between different tasks gives rise to the evolution of division of labor in digital organisms. In human economies, these costs could be the mental shift or the travel time required to change from one activity to another.
Northern Arizona University: Researchers look back to see sharks over Flagstaff
August 17, 2012
While the Discovery Channel wraps up its 25th anniversary edition of Shark Week, a little something happened away from the TV images of great whites wreaking havoc on the waves.
In the academic world, at least, Shark Week made a pass through Flagstaff this year, which might come as a surprise to those who have noticed a distinct lack of ocean in northern Arizona.
But that wasn’t always the case. A while back—say, about 270 million years or so, during a time known as the Middle Permian, scientists tell us—this neck of the woods was actually under water. And the water was home to sharks.
Northern Arizona University: Incentives slow rainforest destruction, researcher says
August 13, 2012
Tropical rainforests are the biggest defense against global warming, absorbing 50 percent more carbon than other kinds of forests. Yet they are disappearing at a rate of about 11 million hectares a year.
Yeon-Su Kim, a Northern Arizona University ecological economic professor, is researching how economic incentives may slow the destruction of these important carbon-storing ecosystems and decrease the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
“We have a way of helping rainforest communities while slowing the process of global warming,” she said.
Arizona State University: Study: Healthy seafood comes from sustainable fish
Posted: August 2, 2012
When ordering seafood, the options are many and so are some of the things you might consider in what you order. Is your fish healthy? Is it safe? Is it harvested responsibly?
While there are many services and rankings offered to help you decide – there’s even an iPhone app – a group of researchers have found a simple rule of thumb applies.
“If the fish is sustainable, then it is likely to be healthy to eat too,” said Leah Gerber, an associate professor and senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University.
Arizona Daily Star: 100 days of science: Doctor developed better technique to save cardiac arrest victims
Tom Beal Arizona Daily Star
August 09, 2012 12:00 am
Thanks to Gordon Ewy, more people with sudden cardiac arrest are "Stayin' Alive" these days.
Ewy (pronounced A-Vee), long-term chief of cardiology at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine, introduced a new form of CPR to the world, one in which chest compressions alone are used.
The technique avoids the need to blow into a patient's mouth, making it more likely that bystanders will attempt it - and it has been shown to save lives and avoid brain damage.
University of Wyoming: UW Professor’s Cancer Gene Research Highlighted in GENETICS Magazine
August 10, 2012
A University of Wyoming researcher has discovered what could be an important insight in reversing cancer-associated properties of cells caused by genetic mutations in humans. And he did it using worms.
David Fay, a UW professor of molecular biology, studied a strain of nematode worm (Caenorhabditis elegans, which are transparent and approximately 1 millimeter in length) that carries a gene mutation similar to one that is inactive in many human cancers. Dubbed “LIN-35,” this gene in worms is similar to the “pRb” protein gene in humans, he says.
Fay, along with his doctoral student, Stanley Polley, identified these genes by systematically inhibiting most of the genes in the worm genome. Through this process of elimination, the two discovered that defects caused by mutations in the LIN-35 genes could be reversed by inactivating a small number of other worm genes.
“If these genes were inactivated in a human with cancer, it could potentially reverse their (cancer cell) tumor potential or cancer-associated traits,” Fay says.
Nature: Climate change shaped ancient burial rituals
Development of Chinchorro mummification practices coincided with a population boom, researchers say.
13 August 2012
A relatively wet climatic period may have triggered the development 7000 years ago of complex culture in hunter-gatherer communities in the Atacama Desert, including the earliest known examples of ritual mummification.
Bands of hunter-gatherers lived along the Atacama coastline from 11000 BC to 500 BC, but the Chinchorro began mummifying their dead only around 5000 BC. An early Archaic burial (dated 9000-8000 BC) that uses similar funerary symbols to the later mummy burials suggests that mummification was a local development, rather than being introduced from elsewhere. Now, researchers posit that cultural innovations, including the cult of mummification, were spurred by environmental change.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Alaska, Fairbanks: Urban farming pays off in Fairbanks
Pink slime? There is no chance Deanna Thornell (aka Dr. Dee) will find that icky substance in her ground beef.
That’s because the local veterinarian and her partners are raising their own beef in a feedlot on Peger Road. A long-time supporter of 4-H programs, Thornell sees this as a natural extension of her helping students raise animals. She has long let 4-H’ers use her place for turkeys and geese and when her son was in FFA he raised steers.
“Anyone can do this,” she said. “I look at the big picture of America and what would happen in an emergency. It’s common sense to raise your own food.”
Arizona State University: Antimicrobials from personal care products found in rivers, lakes
Posted: August 16, 2012
In our zest for cleanliness, have we permanently muddied our nation’s waters?
A science team from Arizona State University, in collaboration with federal partners, has completed the first statewide analysis of freshwater bodies in Minnesota, finding widespread evidence of the presence of active ingredients of personal care products in Minnesota lakes, streams and rivers.
These products are a billion dollar industry and can be found in antimicrobial soaps, disinfectants, and sanitizers to scrub our hands and clean countertops. Hundreds of antimicrobial products are sold in the United States, many marketed with efficacy claims that remain elusive due to the short duration of the average consumer’s handwashing practices. The fate of these products can be traced from home use to sewers to wastewater treatment plants to eventually, downstream bodies of water.
Arizona State University: Modeling reveals significant climatic impacts of megapolitan expansion
Posted: August 13, 2012
According to the United Nations’ 2011 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, global urban population is expected to gain more than 2.5 billion new inhabitants through 2050. Such sharp increases in the number of urban dwellers will require considerable conversion of natural to urban landscapes, resulting in newly developing and expanding megapolitan areas.
Could climate impacts arising from built environment growth pose additional concerns for urban residents also expected to deal with impacts resulting from global climate change?
In the first study of its kind, attempting to quantify the impact of rapidly expanding megapolitan areas on regional climate, a team of researchers from Arizona State University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research has showed that local maximum summertime warming resulting from projected expansion of the urban Sun Corridor could approach 4 degrees Celsius.
This finding, reported in the journal Nature Climate Change, establishes that this factor can be as important as warming that results from increased levels of greenhouse gases.
Oklahoma State University: OSU professors to present technology to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 14:41
A pair of chemical engineering professors from Oklahoma State University will present their waterless sanitation technology to Bill & Melinda Gates and members of their foundation this week as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Fair. Hosted at the foundation’s offices in Seattle, Wash., the fair will feature the work of 40 grantees and other partners from the foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program. The fair aims to inspire collaboration around a shared mission of delivering a reinvented toilet for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to safe and affordable sanitation.
OSU professors Gary Foutch and AJ Johannes received funding from the Gates Foundation for their technology concept just over a year ago. They have since developed a small-scale device that can effectively disinfect and dewater feces and other solid wastes. The device would result in less surface and ground water contamination and reduce the associated spread of diseases. Other benefits include odor reduction and less attraction to insects.
“These are the type of creative ideas that Oklahoma State University not only embraces but encourages. We are very proud of Dr. Foutch and Dr. Johannes and their efforts to truly make the world a better place, which truly embodies the mission of a land-grant institution like OSU,” said OSU President Burns Hargis.
Museum of London Archaeology: Cataclysmic volcano wreaked havoc on medieval Britain
6 August 2012
The results of the largest archaeological investigation ever to have taken place in London are to be published by MOLA. Some 10,500 human skeletons dating from the 12th century to the 1500s were discovered by archaeologists a decade ago. It has taken ten years to analyse the results of this colossal discovery. Amongst the orderly burials were a number of mass burial pits that had scientists baffled.
Through radiocarbon dating, the mass burials were accurately dated but the timings didn’t marry with devastating events know to have taken place in the medieval period, like the Black Death or the Great Famine. Osteologist Don Walker set about solving the mystery. He turned to contemporary documentary sources, in which he found mention of ‘heavy rains’¹, ‘there was a failure of the crops; upon which failure, a famine ensued…many thousand persons perished’².
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Arizona State University: Close to 1,000 earthquakes shook Ariz. in 3-year period, study shows
Posted: August 14, 2012
Earthquakes are among the most destructive and common of geologic phenomena. Several million earthquakes are estimated to occur worldwide each year, with the vast majority being too small to feel but their motions can be measured by arrays of seismometers.
Historically, most of Arizona has experienced low levels of recorded seismicity, with infrequent moderate and large earthquakes in the state. Comprehensive analyses of seismicity within Arizona have not been previously possible due to a lack of seismic stations in most regions, contributing to the perception that widespread earthquakes in Arizona are rare.
Debunking that myth, a new study published by researchers from Arizona State University found nearly 1,000 earthquakes rattling the state over a three-year period.
CNN: Meet Elvis: The virtual border official who knows if you're lying
By Tim Hume, CNN
updated 6:54 AM EDT, Wed August 15, 2012
A lie-detecting virtual border official nicknamed "Elvis" is the latest high-tech approach to securing borders in the United States.
Developed by University of Arizona researchers in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the computer is known as the Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time -- or AVATAR -- kiosk.
It uses sensors to screen passengers for unusual physiological responses to questioning -- which can indicate a subject is lying.
"What we're looking for is changes in human physiology," said Doug Derrick, a member of the University of Arizona team behind the project.
University of Arizona: UA Psychiatrist Gives Tips on How to Banish Bullying
Back-to-school season is a good time to talk to your kids about bullying, says Dr. John Leipsic, UA assistant clinical professor of child psychiatry.
Arizona Health Sciences Center
August 13, 2012
Back-to-school season gives parents and kids a lot to think about – new classroom supplies, goodies for sack lunches, the all-important first-day outfit. It’s also a good time for parents to talk to their children about the kind of social interactions they might encounter at school, says Dr. John Leipsic, assistant clinical professor of child psychiatry at the University of Arizona.
Leipsic, a father of three school-age girls and director of pediatric psychiatric consultation services at The University of Arizona Medical Center, recently shared some tips for parents on how to talk to their kids about one of the most age-old problems on the playground – bullying.
University of Arizona: UA Research: Sleep Deprivation Can Influence Professional Behavior
In a recent paper, Aleksander Ellis of the UA Eller College of Management and a colleague demonstrate that lack of sleep can cause deviant behavior at work.
By Lia Samson, Eller College of Management
August 7, 2012
Early 2011 saw a spate of reports in the media about air traffic controllers sleeping on the job as a result of sleep deprivation. The potential harm from this behavior is obvious, but what about the average office job? Can sleep deprivation cause counterproductive, or even unethical, behavior in organizations?
“Over the past decade, Americans have been getting less and less sleep, and estimates are that this trend will continue,” said Professor of Management and Organizations Aleksander Ellis, the Charles and Candice Nelson Fellow. “In fact, in certain industries, lack of sleep is worn as a badge of honor.”
In a recent paper published in the Academy of Management Journal, Ellis and co-author Michael Christian of Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill demonstrate that lack of sleep can cause deviant behavior.
Arizona State University: Study: Racial socialization reduces effects of racial discrimination on crime
Posted: August 16, 2012
A new study, published in this month’s American Sociological Review, showed how experiencing racial discrimination increases the risk of crime among young African-American males. More importantly, results found that those risks are reduced by adaptive parenting practices in African American families known as racial socialization.
“A number of previous studies have shown that racial discrimination may increase the risk of offending among African-Americans, especially males,” said Callie Burt, an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. “And so in this study we were interested in understanding ‘how does this happen?’”
Burt and a team of researchers followed 700 African-American families who were originally located in Iowa or Georgia over an eight-year period. The caregivers and their children were interviewed every two years starting when they were in the fifth grade.
“What we were interested in looking at is how different situations – how kinds of interactions – differ between African-Americans and whites?” Burt said. “And in particular we focused on one thing that African-Americans experienced that Whites do not – and that’s interpersonal racial discrimination.”
LiveScience: Severed Hands Discovered in Ancient Egypt Palace
Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 10 August 2012 Time: 09:32 AM ET
A team of archaeologists excavating a palace in the ancient city of Avaris, in Egypt, has made a gruesome discovery.
The archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of 16 human hands buried in four pits. Two of the pits, located in front of what is believed to be a throne room, hold one hand each. Two other pits, constructed at a slightly later time in an outer space of the palace, contain the 14 remaining hands.
They are all right hands; there are no lefts.
"Most of the hands are quite large and some of them are very large," Manfred Bietak, project and field director of the excavations, told LiveScience.
LiveScience: Remains of Hundreds of Ancient Warriors Found in Bog
For almost two months so far, excavators in Denmark have been uncovering the remains of hundreds of warriors who died violently about 2,000 years ago.
The evidence of violence is clear at the site, which is now a bog. Excavators reported today (Aug. 14) that they have uncovered damaged human bones, including a fractured skull and a thigh bone that was hacked in half, along with axes, spears, clubs and shields.
Over the years, human bones have turned up periodically in the area. This summer's excavation follows on work done in 2008 and 2009, when archaeologists found single, scattered bones lying under about 6.6 feet (2 meters) of peat on an old lake bed in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø in East Jutland, Denmark.
York Press: Roman mosaic found during Toft Green sewer work
By Kate Liptrot, email@example.com
ENGINEERS repairing a York sewer found more than they bargained for when they uncovered a Roman mosaic floor.
A 120-metre section of damaged Victorian sewer in Toft Green was in the process of being replaced when workers spotted the mosaic tiles.
Work immediately stopped and a team of archaeologists stepped in to carry out a detailed study of the site, confirming that engineers had stumbled upon a Roman mosaic floor, dating back to the 3rd to 4th Centuries AD.
After two weeks of excavations the floor has been painstakingly removed.
Richard Fraser, archaeologist at Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA), said: “Once the tell-tale signs of the Roman tiles began to appear, Yorkshire Water stopped work so that we could fully excavate the site and record the remains.
Times and Star: Roman altar found on Maryport dig site
Last updated at 20:43, Thursday, 09 August 2012
A complete Roman altar, the first to be uncovered since 1870, has been found on Camp Farm in Maryport.
The altar, discovered by Beckfoot volunteer John Murray, has lain buried for uo to 1,600 years.
Tony Wilmott, site director of the Maryport excavation, said that it was the most exciting find he had known in 42 years as an archaeologist and 25 years working on Hadrian’s Wall.
He said: “I bought a bottle of whisky at the Birdoswald dig 25 years ago and offered it to the first person to find something like this.
“This time, the whisky went to John Murray.”
The Scotsman: Monastery where Christian saint was martyred is uncovered on Eigg
By ALISTAIR MUNRO
Published on Tuesday 14 August 2012 00:43
An ARCHAEOLOGICAL dig on a Scottish island has unearthed the remains of what is thought to be a monastery founded by one of the country’s first Christian saints.
St Donnan brought Christianity to many places in the West Highlands in the seventh century before settling on Eigg.
According to local folklore, he became a martyr after he was killed by Norsemen, along with 50 monks, while giving Mass on Easter Sunday in the year 617.
Boston Globe: Digging into Plymouth’s slave history
In April, a team of excavators, led by archaeologist Craig Chartier, examined the Plymouth property formerly owned by Colonel George Watson, who had slaves.
By Constance Lindner
August 16, 2012
A fragment of a tamarind jar, an unglazed piece of reddish-brown ceramics, and a gray Native American pestle are some of the discoveries that could bring a new distinction to this most historic of historic American towns.
An excavation this summer in a small shed and nearby grounds on North Street has yielded more than 30,000 artifacts dating back 1,000 years. But the prized finds have been the bits and pieces that “might point to an African origin and [dwellers’] desire to maintain a physical, spiritual, and ental connection with their origins,’’ said archeologist Craig Chartier.
Peninsula Daily News: Legendary 'creation site' discovered by Lower Elwha Klallam tribe
By LEAH LEACH
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Lower Elwha Klallam people stood at their sacred creation site last month for the first time in nearly a century, the tribe announced last week.
“It isn't a myth,” Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles said Thursday about the site the group visited in early July.
“It's a reality, what our elders have been saying all along. It's there.”
In addition, the park service also reported finding a site in a nearby location that documents human use as far back as 8,000 years ago, establishing it as one of the oldest known archaeological sites on the Olympic Peninsula.
The creation site is a rock with two deep depressions that was covered by water behind the Elwha Dam after it was built in 1913.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
Georgia Tech: Wet Mammals Shake Dry in Milliseconds
August 16, 2012
If you’ve ever bathed a dog, you know firsthand how quickly a drenched pup can shake water off.
Now researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found that furry mammals can shake themselves 70 percent dry in just a fraction of a second.
David Hu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biology at Georgia Tech, and mechanical engineering graduate student Andrew Dickerson, who led the project, used high-speed videography and fur particle tracking to characterize the shakes of 33 different animals – 16 species and five dog breeds – at Zoo Atlanta. The research was published in the Journal of Royal Society Interface.
Understanding the physics of the wet dog shake could help engineers recreate the optimal oscillation frequency and use it to improve the efficiency of washing machines, dryers, painting devices, spin coaters and other machines.
Georgia Tech: Cathepsin Cannibalism: Enzymes Attack One Another Instead of Harming Proteins
August 13, 2012
Researchers for the first time have shown that members of a family of enzymes known as cathepsins – which are implicated in many disease processes – may attack one another instead of the bodily proteins they normally degrade. Dubbed “cathepsin cannibalism,” the phenomenon may help explain problems with drugs that have been developed to inhibit the effects of these powerful proteases.
Cathepsins are involved in disease processes as varied as cancer metastasis, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and arthritis. Because cathepsins have harmful effects on critical proteins such as collagen and elastin, pharmaceutical companies have been developing drugs to inhibit activity of the enzymes, but so far these compounds have had too many side effects to be useful and have failed clinical trials.
Using a combination of modeling and experiments, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have shown that one type of cathepsin preferentially attacks another, reducing the enzyme’s degradation of collagen. The work could affect not only the development of drugs to inhibit cathepsin activity, but could also lead to a better understanding of how the enzymes work together.
University of Alaska, Fairbanks: Workshop to examine cargo airship feasibility in Alaska
The University of Alaska Fairbanks and NASA will gather roughly 100 business executives, researchers and government officials in Anchorage next week for the second annual Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop.
The workshop, which will run Aug. 22-24 at UAA, will examine how airships could transform Alaska’s commercial transportation system.
“Airship technologies have the potential to move fuel, construction equipment, and supplies to villages and projects in rural Alaska when ice roads, river ships and barges can’t do the job,” said. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, the event’s keynote speaker. “Airships could have a significant effect on economics and life in the bush and the ultimate feasibility of energy and natural resource projects around the state.”
Arizona State University: Engineering grad's skills help set stage for growth of children's care home
Posted: August 8, 2012
A private children’s residential care home in Mesa, Ariz., that has been serving its local community for almost 60 years will be better prepared to expand, thanks in part to the expertise of a recent Arizona State University engineering graduate.
During his final semester of study this past spring to earn a professional science master’s degree in the Solar Energy Engineering and Commercialization program, Sage Lopez helped the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home take steps to develop a cost-saving renewable-energy system.
To meet growing needs, the home plans to expand infrastructure on its 110-acre ranch – from 40 buildings and capacity to serve about 70 children to more than 65 buildings with capacity to house and care for as many as 250 youngsters. But rising electricity costs had been looming as a threat to the viability of such an extensive expansion.
Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy
The Aspen Times: Experts urge protection of Pitkin County archaeological site
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
PITKIN COUNTY — A rural Pitkin County site where archaeological artifacts have spurred a land-use debate appears to contain remnants of stone tools and associated debris spanning more than 8,000 years of use, according to a consultant who viewed the site early this month.
The Albuquerque, N.M.-based Archaeological Conservancy has drafted a management plan for the site that is now in the hands of the property's owners and Pitkin County staffers. Its recommendations regarding security at the site, access and accommodating research will be the subject of discussions with the landowners, according to Dale Will, county open space and trails director.
Swiss Info: Switzerland’s past faces an uncertain future
by Scott Capper, swissinfo.ch
Archaeology in Switzerland has been held up as a shining example in other countries, but its future is threatened by a lack of coordination and legislation defining how it should be funded.
Chevenez in canton Jura: it’s here that a well-known watchmaker is building a new factory on a tight schedule. It’s also here that the initial spadework revealed what could be a major archeological site.
Al Ahram: Cairo Airport Authorities foil smuggling attempt
The Antiquities Seizures Unit at Cairo International Airport foils an attempt to smuggle a collection of Graeco-Roman artefacts
Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 16 Aug 2012
An attempt to smuggle 11 Graeco-Roman artefacts out of Cairo International Airport was foiled on Thursday when the Tourism and Antiquities Police arrested an Egyptian man at the customs section. The man claimed to be carrying replicas from Khan El-Khalili bazars. The pieces he was carried were reportedly stolen from an as yet unidentified archaeological site in Egypt.
Agence France Presse via Google: Pakistan's million dollar archaeological smugglers
By Khurram Shahzad (AFP) – Aug 8, 2012
CHARSADDA, Pakistan — When a Pakistani family dispute over land degenerated into cold-blooded murder, Zaman Khan was quickly in over his head.
As cousins killed cousins, he borrowed more than $18,500 to buy guns, ammunition and guards. But soon debtors were demanding repayment, leaving him so depressed he contemplated suicide.
Then a friend came up with an idea.
He took Khan to a site in northwest Pakistan which dates back to the ancient Gandhara civilisation where they dug up 18 pieces of statue, selling them to market traders for two million rupees ($20,700).
After two more visits, Khan -- AFP has changed the names of all those involved in the trade -- had found enough statues, coins and ornaments to not only settle his debts but also bankroll his long-running feud.
Agence France Presse via The Herald Sun: Archaeologists leave artefacts underground to protect them from the Taliban
August 13, 2012 12:43AM
"IT'S there," says an archaeologist pointing to the ground, where fragments of a Buddha statue from the ancient Gandhara civilisation have been covered up to stop them being stolen or vandalised.
Just months before the US-led invasion in 2001, the Taliban regime shocked the world by destroying two giant, 1500-year-old Buddhas in the rocky Bamiyan valley, branding them un-Islamic.
More than 10 years on Western experts say Afghanistan's ancient Buddhist and early Islamic heritage is little safer.
Al Ahram: Archaeologist: Early Egyptian Islamic site, Istabl Antar, in dire danger
Istabl Antar archaeological site is on the verge of disappearing due to lack of proper protection, warns archaeologist who has spent 20 years working on the site
Roland-Pierre Gayraud, Sunday 12 Aug 2012
In response to damage done recently to the Istabl Antar archaeological site in Old Cairo, particularly the area where the French Archeological Institute for Oriental Studies in Cairo (IFAO) has been carrying out excavation work since 1985, Roland-Pierre Gayraud, archaeologist and researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), wrote the following column for Ahram Online.
The Istabl Antar excavations have been conducted within the remit of the scientific activities of the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo (IFAO) where I initiated the field of Islamic archaeology.
Today, this site, which I have managed to preserve in the face of illegal urbanisation over more than a quarter of a century, is on the verge of disappearing, due to the lack of proper protection and total disrespect of law. In what follows, I give you a short description of the remains that are on the point of being destroyed. They deserve to be protected and preserved, simply because they are unique in the history of Islamic Egypt, and even in the Islamic world.
N.Y. Times: Syrian Conflict Imperils Historical Treasures
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: August 15, 2012
Preservationists and archaeologists are warning that fighting in Syria’s commercial capital, Aleppo — considered the world’s oldest continuously inhabited human settlement — threatens to damage irreparably the stunning architectural and cultural legacy left by 5,000 years of civilizations.
Already the massive iron doors to the city’s immense medieval Citadel have been blown up in a missile attack, said Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund, an organization that works to preserve cultural heritage sites.
Reuters: Pigs and squatters threaten Peru's Nazca lines
By Mitra Taj
LIMA | Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:47pm BST
(Reuters) - Squatters have started raising pigs on the site of Peru's Nazca lines - the giant designs best seen from an airplane that were mysteriously etched into the desert more than 1,500 years ago.
The squatters have destroyed a Nazca-era cemetery and the 50 shacks they have built border Nazca figures, said Blanca Alva, a director at Peru's culture ministry.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
University of Georgia: Researchers combine remote sensing technologies for highly detailed look at coastal change
Writer: Sam Fahmy
August 9, 2012
Athens, Ga. - Shifting sands and tides make it difficult to measure accurately the amount of beach that's available for recreation, development and conservation, but a team of University of Georgia researchers has combined several remote sensing technologies with historical data to create coastal maps with an unsurpassed level of accuracy.
In a study published in the August issue of the journal Tourism Management, they apply their technique to Georgia's Jekyll Island and unveil a new website that allows developers, conservationists and tourists access to maps and data on beach availability, tidal ranges and erosion.
"Policymakers, coastal managers and conservationists can use this information to help make more informed decisions about managing coastal resources," said lead author Byungyun Yang, a recent graduate of the geography doctoral program and current research associate at the UGA Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "Tourists can easily access the same data with their computers or smartphones to help plan their trip to the beach."
University of Alaska, Anchorage: Alaska's first class of physician assistants graduates Aug. 18
Twelve of the 15 are Alaskans; all but one intend to work in Alaska
Aug 15, 2011
A cohort of 15 UAA physician assistant students—“Class 1”—will celebrate the completion of their studies on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 2:30 p.m. at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium.
PAs are not doctors, but are licensed health care professionals that practice medicine with physician supervision. They conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and can write prescriptions in all 50 states.
The need for PAs continues to grow across Alaska due in part to a lack of primary care physicians and surgeons in rural communities. Class 1 will blaze new trails in a state that is dealing with not only a physician shortage, but also health access issues in remote areas that are off Alaska’s road system.
In many cases, a PA may be the only health care provider for hundreds of miles. For this reason, Alaska’s PA students take a veterinary medicine workshop so they are able to provide care to ill or injured animals when no other medical options are available. Oftentimes PAs work autonomously in remote locations but have 24/7 access to their collaborative physician by phone, in addition to monthly site visits.
University of Arizona: UA Micro Air Vehicle Takes First Place in International Competition
By Steve Delgado, College of Engineering
August 15, 2012
A micro air vehicle flown by the team from the University of Arizona won first place in an indoor flight competition during a major international MAV conference.
The UA Micro Air Vehicle Club's micro aircraft, which specialized in autonomous vertical takeoffs and horizontal flight, received the top award during the International Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Flight Competition, or IMAV 2012, in the category of "Indoor Autonomy - Fixed Wing."
The IMAV 2012 competition was in Braunschweig, Germany, in July.
Arizona State University: $3M NSF award to launch alternative energy research, PhD program
Posted: August 17, 2012
A new effort at Arizona State University to educate and train students in renewable and solar energy is receiving backing by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Through its Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, the NSF is providing $3 million to ASU to help develop a doctoral program in energy and to equip students with the skills needed to find solutions to the energy challenges of the future by establishing the IGERT Solar Utilization Network (SUN) program.
“ASU is taking a leadership role regarding research, education and policy issues in renewable energy utilization,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “We are working at the leading edge of transforming our society from a fossil-fuel-focused energy consumer to a sustainable, renewable-energy based consumer.”
Arizona State University: Technology training for teacher candidates earns national award
Posted: August 17, 2012
A team from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has earned national honors for a research paper describing the college’s evolving approach to teaching technology skills to future teachers.
The International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) presented its SIGTE (Special Interest Group of Teacher Educators) Research Paper Award to Teachers College faculty members Teresa S. Foulger, Keith Wetzel and Ray Buss, and academic professional LeeAnn Lindsey, for “Preservice Teacher Education: Benchmarking a Stand-Alone Ed Tech Course in Preparation for Change.” The award was presented at the annual ISTE conference in San Diego in June.
The topic for the “Preservice Teacher Education” paper originated from the major curriculum redesign process under way in Teachers College. Among the changes being implemented in the new iTeachAZ curriculum is the elimination of a stand-alone course focusing on the use of technology in PreK-12 classrooms. Instead, technology is infused into a group of content methods courses for teacher candidates.
Science Writing and Reporting
University of Alaska, Fairbanks: Alaska potato guide published in English and Russian
The University of Idaho Extension recently published the “Alaska Field Guide to Potato Pests and Beneficial Insects in English and Russian.” The guide is an Alaska version of an Idaho guide.
Janice Chumley, an Extension research technician from Soldotna, coordinated work on the pocket-sized color field guide, which was developed for commercial potato growers and field workers to assist with identification of pests and for field monitoring.
Information is provided in Russian and English because a significant number of the farm labor force speaks Russian, particularly in Delta Junction and on the Kenai Peninsula.
University of Arizona: New Book Explores Water Along Devil's Highway
Written by an expert cast of UA affiliates, "Last Water on the Devil's Highway: A Cultural and Natural History of Tinajas Altas" is perfect for desert aficionados and armchair explorers wishing to learn more about southwestern Arizona.
By Holly Schaffer, UA Press
August 17, 2012
The University of Arizona Press, in collaboration with the University of Arizona Southwest Center, has announced the release of "Last Water on the Devil’s Highway: A Cultural and Natural History of Tinajas Altas."
Written by an expert cast of UA affiliates and well-known Tucsonans, this book is perfect for desert aficionados and armchair explorers wishing to learn more about the High Tanks, the iconic natural watering holes of southwestern Arizona.
The Devil’s Highway – El Camino del Diablo – crosses hundreds of miles and thousands of years of Arizona and Southwest history. This heritage trail follows a torturous route along the U.S. Mexico border through a lonely landscape of cactus, desert flats, drifting sand dunes, ancient lava flows and searing summer heat.
Arizona State University: Emerging writers, scholars collaborate in science policy fellowship
Posted: August 13, 2012
"To Think, To Write, To Publish" – a project of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO) at Arizona State University – has selected 24 fellows through an international competition to participate in its 18-month training and writing activity.
Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, "To Think, To Write, To Publish" brings together 12 emerging communicator/writers and 12 “next generation” science policy scholars, as well as editors of mainstream publications, to learn creative nonfiction writing – a genre that uses narrative, scene and storytelling – to engage and inform a general readership about the value and advantages of science and innovation policy.
The fellows will get the chance to collaborate on writing projects, and the product of their labors – 12 creative nonfiction essays – will be published and distributed by the literary magazine Creative Nonfiction, a co-sponsor of "To Think, To Write, To Publish."
Arizona State University: Viewing choices through a sustainable lens
Sustainability journal interviews ASU’s George Basile
Posted: August 16, 2012
Sustainability is a human decision – a responsibility that relies on good information and how we choose to use it – according to George Basile, a senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University, who made that point in this month’s cover story in Sustainability: The Journal of Record.
Reframing sustainability as a human decision challenge, rather than “some version of people, planet and profit coming together,” was one of the subjects discussed by Basile in the “On the Record” feature with journal editor Jamie Devereaux.
“Sustainability is something that humans want. We want a future that is sustainable for us, so it is a human construct…. Therefore, humans to a certain extent are in charge of making that happen, or not,” said Basile, a professor of practice at ASU’s School of Sustainability.
Science is Cool
Mayo News: British researcher pitches for Achill-henge
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:17
Structure’s potential for archaeological research is trumpeted
London-based researcher Richard Brock has issued a plea to halt the planned destruction of the controversial Achill-henge on the grounds of its potential as a site for experimental archaeological research.
As previously reported in The Mayo News, Joe McNamara, the man behind the Stonehenge replica, has been ordered to remove it. On July 26, An Bord Pleanála (ABP) ruled that the structure, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the villages of Pollagh and Keel, was not exempted development. The High Court subsequently lifted its stay on an earlier demolition order, which was in place until the ABP made its decision.
However, Richard Brock, a classically-trained musician and computer scientist with a long interest in the archaeology of Stonehenge, is convinced that the acoustic properties of the Achill structure could yield valuable clues to musical archaeologists, and he is appealing for its retention.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Arizona State University: Children draw their feelings about future of water
Posted: August 13, 2012
“The Science of Water Art: A Citizen Science Project” – a collaborative research project that brings together professionals, community members, college students and children to think about the role that water plays in each of our lives – will be on display Sept. 1-30 at ASU’s Deer Valley Rock Art Center.
The project is part of a larger global ethnohydrology study that is starting its fifth year with a look at the role of water, climate change and health in several communities worldwide. The study is sponsored by ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC).
The art facet of this study allows for a look into how climate change and water insecurity are viewed by younger generations, and gives a voice to children so that they may share their outlooks on this vital resource.
University of Vermont: Need an Expert? Try the Crowd
By Joshua E. Brown
In 1714, the British government held a contest. They offered a large cash prize to anyone who could solve the vexing “longitude problem” — how to determine a ship’s east/west position on the open ocean — since none of their naval experts had been able to do so.
Lots of people gave it a try. One of them, a self-educated carpenter named John Harrison, invented the marine chronometer — a rugged and highly precise clock — that did the trick. For the first time, sailors could accurately determine their location at sea.
A centuries-old problem was solved. And, arguably, crowdsourcing was born.