Cancer Kill Switch

Cancer kill switch

Cancer kill switch

What if you could just flick a switch and turn off cancer? It seems like something you would see in a sci-fi flick, but scientists are working towards a future where that could be a reality. At the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, a group of researchers have made a discovery that could be a kill switch for cancer. They have found a way to reprogram mutating cancer cells back to normal, healthy cells.

Panos Anastasiadis, PhD, head of the Department of Cancer Biology at the Mayo Clinic, and his team were studying the role of adhesion proteins in cells. Anastasiadis’ primary focus was on the p120 catenin protein and long held hypothesis on it being a major player in the suppressor of tumors. The team found that p120, along with another adhesion protein, E-cadherin, actually promoted cancer growth. “That led us to believe that these molecules have two faces — a good one, maintaining the normal behavior of the cells, and a bad one that drives tumorigenesis.”

In that research, however, Anastasiadis made a remarkable discovery, “an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer.” That would be a partner to the P120 protein, dubbed PLEKHA7. When introduced to tumors, PLEKHA7 was able to “turn off” the cancerous cells’ ability to replicate and return it to a benign state. It stopped the cancer in its tracks.

How it all works is pretty straightforward. Normal, healthy cells are regulated by a sort of biological microprocessor known as microRNAs, which tell the cells to stop replicating when they have reproduced enough. Cancer is caused by a cell’s inability to stop replicating itself, and eventually grows into a cluster of cells that we know as a tumor. Anastasiadis’ team found that PLEKHA7 was an important factor in halting the replication of cells, but that it wasn’t present in the cancerous cells. By reintroducing PLEKHA7, what were once raging cancerous cells returned to normal.

This was done by injecting PLEKHA7 directly into the cells, under a controlled lab test. Anastasiadis said they still need to work on “better delivery options,” as these tests were done on human cells in a lab. They did find success, however, in stopping the growth in two very aggressive forms of cancer: breast and bladder. While this isn’t being tested on humans yet, it represents a huge step forward in understanding the nature of cancer and we can cure it.



14-Million Year Old Vehicle Tracks

 14-Million-Year-Old Vehicle Tracks

14-Million-Year-Old Vehicle Tracks

According to a statement from a Russian geologist: these traces were left by vehicles that belonged to an advanced ancient civilization that inhabited our planet 14 million years ago.

We all know that numerous religious texts speak of giants that roamed the Earth in the distant past.

Even though experts in different fields have different opinions about this possibility, there are others who believe that Ancient Giants did exist and that we can find many traces of their existence today.

Geologist Alexander Koltypin believes that the mysterious markings that extend along the Phrygian Valley, in central Turkey, were made by an intelligent race between 12 and 14 million years ago
“We can assume that ancient vehicles with “wheels” were driven into the soft ground, perhaps a wet surface,” said the geologist.

“Because of the great weight of these vehicles, they left behind very deep grooves which eventually petrified and turned into evidence.”

Geologists are familiar with such phenomena as they have found petrified footprints of dinosaurs that were preserved in the same way.

Together with three colleagues, Dr. Koltypin, director of the Natural Science Scientific Research Centre at Moscow’s International Independent Ecological-Political University, traveled to the site in Anatolia, Turkey where these markings can be found.

Upon returning from his trip, he described the observed as ‘petrified tracking ruts in rocky tuffaceous [made from compacted volcanic ash deposits’.

Dr Koltypin said: ‘All these rocky fields were covered with the ruts left some millions of years ago… we are not talking about human beings.’

‘We are dealing with some kind of cars or all-terrain vehicles. The pairs of ruts are crossing each other from time to time and some ruts are more deep than the others,’ he added.

According to Dr Koltypin, these tracers were left behind by vehicles 14 million years ago. These mysterious ruts are between 12 to 14 million years old.

‘The methodology of specifying the age of volcanic rocks is very well-studied and worked out,’ he said.

Dr Koltypin is one of few experts that actually believes that science needs to change their approach on different matters. He believes that there are many archaeologists who avoid touching this matter since it would ruin all classic theories.

‘As a geologist, I can certainly tell you that unknown antediluvian [pre-Biblical] all-terrain vehicles drove around Central Turkey some 12-to-14 million years ago.’ said Dr. Koltypin.

He said: ‘I think we are seeing the signs of the civilisation which existed before the classic creation of this world. Maybe the creatures of that pre-civilisation were not like modern human beings.’

According to Dr. Koltypin and many other archaeologists and experts which have adopted new ways of thinking these ancient “car tracks” are one of the best preserved pieces of evidence which undoubtedly prove the existence of highly advanced ancient civilizations that inhabited our planet in the distant past.

Many researchers believe that there are several pieces of evidence pointing towards the existence of highly advanced ancient civilizations that existed on Earth millions of years ago.

“There was no comprehensible system for the tracks but the distance between each pair of tracks ‘is always the same,” added Dr Koltypin.

‘The maximum depth of a rut is about three feet (one metre). On the sides of ruts there can be seen horizontal scratches, it looks like they were left by the ends of the axles used for ancient wheels.

‘We found many ruts with such scratches,’ he said.

Is it possible that Dr Koltypin is right? And is it possible that mainstream scientists have ignored these giant pieces of evidence in hopes of preserving their classic and old thinking methods?

Is it possible that mainstream experts are afraid of adopting a new approach to ancient history?

There are many who believe that with a classic approach, science is becoming less objective.



Google turns your clothes into touchscreens

Google plans on turning your clothes into touchscreens

Google plans on turning your clothes into touchscreens

Last week Google unveiled a wealth of new innovations and initiatives at its annual I/O developer conference, and one of the big reveals was Project Jacquard. It’s part of the Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) division and it’s the company’s plan for the future of clothing: touch-sensitive materials that you can interact with in the same way as your smartphone display.

Project Jacquard uses touch-sensitive, metallic yarns that are weaved in with normal material – cotton, silk or polyester – to give it the kind of capabilities that you don’t usually find outside of science fiction movies. The yarn is connected to a small receiver and controller the size of a button, with the idea that one day you might be able to tap your lapel to switch on the washing machine, or flick your cuff to change the volume on your smart television set.

One of the demos that Google showed off at I/O 2015 was a touch-enabled outfit controlling a set of Philips Hue lights. A quick tap on the clothing turned the lights on and off, while swiping left and right changed the colour, and swiping up and down adjusted the brightness. You wouldn’t have to take your phone out of your jeans pocket to do all this – the pocket itself would act as the controller.

Monitoring capabilities can be included too, so your pillow could track your breathing or your t-shirt could monitor your heart rate without the need for any other equipment. Google is expecting to work with a number of different partners on the technology in the future, and already has an agreement in place with denim manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co in the US.

What makes the technology so exciting is its invisibility. There’s no need to wear a clunky headset or a smart wristwatch to get connected – it’s essentially the ultimate in wearables. Project Jacquard is still at the early stages, but a lot of progress has been made in a short space of time, and Google thinks the interactive yarn will have an important role to play in our sartorial future.

“The complementary components are engineered to be as discreet as possible,” explains the official Project Jacquard page. “We developed innovative techniques to attach the conductive yarns to connectors and tiny circuits, no larger than the button on a jacket. These miniaturised electronics capture touch interactions, and various gestures can be inferred using machine-learning algorithms.”

The smart clothing is stretchable and washable, and Google says it’s up to the designer whether the special yarn is highlighted on the material or kept completely invisible. It can be restricted to a certain patch of clothing or spread over the whole garment.

Jacquard, by the way, is a type of loom used in the 19th century. Google says that the new touch-enabled clothing can be made at scale using equipment that already exists, so when it’s ready for the mass market it can be cheaply and easily produced.

Ultimately, we could see all kinds of smart clothing, furnishings and textiles that look identical to the ‘dumb’ versions that came before them. Google doesn’t have a timescale for launching Project Jacquard out into the world just yet, but you can sign up for updates at the project page.



Head transplants could be a reality by 2017

Head Transplant

Head Transplant



Transplanting a human head onto a donor body may sound like the stuff of science fiction comics, but not to Italian doctor Sergio Canavero. He has not only published a paper describing the operation in detail, but also believes that the surgery could be a reality as early as 2017.

Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, initially highlighted the idea in 2013, stating his belief that the technology to successfully join two severed spinal cords existed. Since then he’s worked out the details, describing the operation in his recent paper, as the Gemini spinal cord fusion protocol (GEMINI GCF).

To carry out the transplant, a state of hypothermia is first induced in both the head to be transplanted and the donor body, to help the cells stay alive without oxygen. Surgeons would then cut into the neck tissue of both bodies and connect the blood vessels with tubes. The next step is to cut the spinal cords as neatly as possible with minimal trauma.

The severed head would then be placed on the donor body and the two spinal cords encouraged to fuse together with a sealant called polyethylene glycol, which Canavero notes in his paper, has “the power to literally fuse together severed axons or seal injured leaky neurons.”

After suturing the blood vessels and the skin, the patient is kept in a comatose state for three to four weeks to discourage movement and give both spinal stumps time to fuse. The fusion point will also be electrically stimulated to encourage neural connections and accelerate the growth of a functional neural bridge. The patient will additionally be put on a regime of anti-rejection medications.

According to Canavero, with rehabilitation the patient should be able to speak in their own voice and walk within a year’s time. The goal is to help people who are paralyzed, or whose bodies are otherwise riddled with degenerative diseases and other complications. While the procedure sounds extremely complex and disturbing on multiple levels, Canvero tells us he’s already conducting interviews with volunteers who’ve stepped forward.

“Many are dystrophic,” Canavero says “These people are in horrible pain.”

The most well-known example of a head transplant was when Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon, transplanted the head of one rhesus monkey onto another in 1970. The spinal cords, however, were not connected to each other, leaving the monkey unable to control its body. It subsequently died after the donor body rejected the head.

Current technology and recent advances hold out more promise. Canavero plans to garner support for the project, when he presents it at the American Academy of neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons conference in Annapolis, Maryland, later this year. Understandably his proposal has generated incredible controversy, with experts questioning the specifics and ethics of the procedure, even going as far as calling it bad science.



Aged brains and muscles in mice made younger

 More progress with GDF 11, anti-aging protein:

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger:

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger:

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have shown that a protein they previously demonstrated can make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young health mice, similarly improves brain and skeletal muscle function in aging mice.


Professors Amy Wagers and Lee Rubin, of Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), report that injections of a protein known as GDF11, which is found in humans as well as mice, improved the exercise capability of mice equivalent in age to that of about a 70-year-old human, and also improved the function of the olfactory region of the brains of the older mice — they could detect smell as younger mice do.

Rubin and Wagers each said that, baring unexpected developments, they expect to have GDF11 in initial human clinical trials within three to five years. Postdoctoral fellow Lida Katsimpardi is the lead author on the Rubin group’s paper, and postdocs Manisha Sinha and Young Jang are the lead authors on the paper from the Wagers group.

Both studies examined the effect of GDF11 in two ways. First, by using what is called a parabiotic system, in which two mice are surgically joined and the blood of the younger mouse circulates through the older mouse. And second, by injecting the older mice with GDF11, which in an earlier study by Wagers and Richard Lee, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital who is also an author on the two papers released today, was shown to be sufficient to reverse characteristics of aging in the heart.

Doug Melton, co-chair of HSCRB and co-director of HSCI, reacted to the two papers by saying that he couldn’t “recall a more exciting finding to come from stem cell science and clever experiments. This should give us all hope for a healthier future. We all wonder why we were stronger and mentally more agile when young, and these two unusually exciting papers actually point to a possible answer: the higher levels of the protein GDF11 we have when young. There seems to be little question that, at least in animals, GDF11 has an amazing capacity to restore aging muscle and brain function,” he said.

Melton, Harvard’s Xander University Professor continued, saying that the ongoing collaboration between Wagers, a stem cell biologist whose focus has been on muscle, Rubin, whose focus is on neurodegenerative diseases and using patient generated stem cells as targets for drug discover, and Lee, a practicing cardiologist and researcher, “is a perfect example of the power of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute as an engine of truly collaborative efforts and discovery, bringing together people with big, unique ideas and expertise in different biological areas.”

As Melton noted, GDF11 is naturally found in much higher concentration in young mice than in older mice, and raising its levels in the older mice has improved the function of every organ system thus far studied.

Wagers first began using the parabiotic system in mice 14 years ago as a post doctoral fellow at Stanford University, when she and colleagues Thomas Rando, of Stanford, Irina Conboy, of UC Berkley, and Irving Weissman, of Stanford, observed that the blood of young mice circulating in old mice seemed to have some rejuvenating effects on muscle repair after injury.

Last year she and Richard Lee published a paper in which they reported that when exposed to the blood of young mice, the enlarged, weakened hearts of older mice returned to a more youthful size, and their function improved. And then working with a Colorado firm, the pair reported that GDF11 was the factor in the blood apparently responsible for the rejuvenating effect. That finding has raised hopes that GDF11 may prove, in some form, to be a possible treatment for diastolic heart failure, a fatal condition in the elderly that now is irreversible, and fatal.

“From the previous work it could have seemed that GD11 was heart specific,” said Wagers, “but this shows that it is active in multiple organs and cell types… Prior studies of skeletal muscle and the parabiotic effect really focused on regenerative biology. Muscle was damaged and assayed on how well it could recover,” Wagers explained.

She continued: “The additional piece is that while prior studies of young blood factors have shown that we achieve restoration of muscle stem cell function and they repair the muscle better, in this study, we also saw repair of DNA damage associated with aging, and we got it in association with recovery of function, and we saw improvements in unmanipulated muscle. Based on other studies, we think that the accumulation DNA damage in muscle stem cells might be reflect an inability of the cells to properly differentiate to make mature muscle cells, which is needed for adequate muscle repair.

Wagers noted that there is still a great deal to be learned about the mechanics of aging in muscle, and its repair. “I don’t think we fully understand how this happening or why. We might say that the damage is modification to the genetic material; the genome does have breaks in it. But whether it’s damaging, or a necessary part of repair, we don’t know yet.”

Rubin, whose primary research focus is on developing treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, particularly in children, said that that when his group began its GDF11 experiments, “we knew that in the old mouse things were bad in the brain, there is a reduced amount of neurogenesis (the development of neurons), and it’s well known that cognition goes down. It wasn’t obvious to me that those things that can be repaired in peripheral tissue could be fixed in the brain.”

Rubin said that post doctoral fellow Lida Katsimpardi, the lead author on his group’s paper, was taught the parabiotic experimental technique by Wagers, but conducted the Rubin group’s experiments independently of the Wagers group, and “she saw an increase in neural stem cells, and saw increased development of blood vessels in the brain.” Rubin said that 3D reconstruction of the brain, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the mouse brain showed “more new blood vessels and more blood flow,” both of which are normally associated with younger, healthier brain tissue.” Younger mice, Rubin said, “have a keen sense of olfactory discrimination,” they can sense fine differences in odor. “When we tested the young mice, they avoided the smell of mint; the old mice didn’t. But the old mice exposed to the blood of the young mice, and those treated with GDF11 did.

“We think an effect of GDF 11 is the improved vascularity and blood flow, associated with increased neurogenesis,” Rubin said. “This should have other more widespread effect on other areas of the brain. We do think that, at least in principal, there will be a way to reverse some of the decline of aging with a single protein. It could be that a molecule like GDF 11, or GDF 11 itself, could” reverse the damage of aging.

“It isn’t out of question that GDF11,” or a drug developed from it, “might be worthwhile in Alzheimer’s Disease,” Rubin said. “You might be able to separate out the issues of treating the plaque and tangles associated with the disease, and the decline in cognition, and perhaps improve cognition.” Wagers said that the two research groups are in discussions with a venture capital group to obtain funding to “be able to do the additional pre-clinical work” necessary before moving GDF 11 into human trials.

“I would wager that the results of this work, together with the other work, will translate into a clinical trial and a treatment,” said the stem cell biologist. “but of course that’s just a wager.”

“We think an effect of GDF 11 is the improved vascularity and blood flow, which is associated with increased neurogenesis,” Rubin said. “However, the increased blood flow should have more widespread effects on brain function. We do think that, at least in principle, there will be a way to reverse some of the cognitive decline that takes place during aging, perhaps even with a single protein. It could be that a molecule like GDF 11, or GDF 11 itself, could” reverse the damage of aging.

“It isn’t out of question that GDF11,” or a drug developed from it, “might be capable of slowing some of the cognitive defects associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, a disorder whose main risk factor is aging itself,” Rubin said. It is even possible that this could occur without directly changing the “plaque and tangle burden” that are the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. Thus, a future treatment for this disease might be a combination of a therapeutic that reduces plaques and tangles, such as an antibody directed against the β-amyloid peptide, with a potential cognition enhancer like GDF-11.



‘Invisible’ Metamaterial

‘Invisible’ Material Can Now Fool Your Eyes

‘Invisible’ Material Can Now Fool Your Eyes


Tech journalists and military dreamers have talked about real-life invisibility cloaks for a while, and with good reason. With their specialized structures, so-called “metamaterials” can bend light around objects, making ‘em disappear.  Metamaterials warp things like infrared light or terahertz waves, neither of which we can see in the first place. In other words, we could still make out the “invisible” object with our own two eyes. Or at least, that used to be the case. Physicists at the University of St. Andrews appear to have made a breakthrough, however. They’ve created a metamaterial that really does work in the “optical range,” the scientists note in the New Journal of Physics. Not only did Andrea Di Falco and his research partners put together a metamaterial that could bend visible light. They built it in a way that could lead to larger-scale manufacturing — and real-world applications. Not just cloaks, but lenses made out of metamaterials that can zoom to the micron level, making it possible to spot germs, chemical agents and even DNA, using basically a pair of binoculars. “It clearly isn’t an invisibility cloak yet — but it’s the right step toward that,” Ortwin Hess, a physicist at Imperial College London, tells the BBC. “A huge step forward in very many ways.” Typically, metamaterials are built on top of rigid, brittle substrates like silicon. But that limits their size, and the wavelengths at which they work. Di Falco’s group instead made materials out of a superthin layer of flexible polymer, since “a ‘real’ cloaking device would have to be deformable and extend over a large area,” they write. If Di Falco and his partners can stack enough of these materials together — and show they can work while folded.

DNA finally photographed


DNA directly photographed for the first time:

DNA directly photographed for the first time

DNA directly photographed for the first time

Fifty-nine years after James Watson and Francis Crick deduced the double-helix structure of DNA, a scientist has captured the first direct photograph of the twisted ladder that props up life. Enzo Di Fabrizio, a physics professor at Magna Graecia University in Catanzaro, Italy, snapped the picture using an electron microscope. Previously, scientists had only seen DNA’s structure indirectly. The double-corkscrew form was first discovered using a technique called X-ray crystallography, in which a material’s shape is reconstructed based on how X-rays bounce after they collide with it.

A bundle of DNA is supported by two silicon pillars.

DNA’s double-helix structure is on display for the first time in this electron microscope photograph of a small bundle of DNA strands.

But Di Fabrizio and his colleagues developed a plan to bring DNA out of hiding. They built a nanoscopic landscape of extremely water-repellant silicon pillars. When they added a solution that contained strands of DNA into this scene, the water quickly evaporated and left behind cords of bare DNA that stretched like tightropes between the tiny mesas. They then shone beams of electrons through holes in the silicon bed, and captured high-resolution images of the illuminated molecules. Di Fabrizio’s images actually show a thread of several interwoven DNA molecules, as opposed to just two coupled strands. This is because the energy of the electrons used would be enough to destroy an isolated double helix, or a single strand from a double helix. But with the use of more sensitive equipment and lower energy electrons, Di Fabrizio thinks that snapshots of individual double helices will soon be possible, New Scientist reports. Molecules of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, store the genetic instructions that govern all living organisms’ growth and function. Di Fabrizio’s innovation will allow scientists to vividly observe interactions between DNA and some of life’s other essential ingredients, such as RNA (r ibonucleic acid ). The results of Di Fabrizio’s work were published in the journal NanoLetters.

MIT discovers a new kind of magnetism

MIT discovers a new state of matter, a new kind of magnetism:

MIT discovers a new state of matter, a new kind of magnetism

MIT discovers a new state of matter, a new kind of magnetism

Researchers at MIT have discovered a new state of matter with a new kind of magnetism. This new state, called a quantum spin liquid (QSL), could lead to significant advances in data storage. QSLs also exhibit a quantum phenomenon called long-range entanglement, which could lead to new types of communications systems, and more. Generally, when we talk about magnetism’s role in the realm of technology, there are just two types: Ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism. Ferromagnetism has been known about for centuries, and is the underlying force behind your compass’s spinning needle or the permanent bar magnets you played with at school. In ferromagnets, the spin (i.e. charge) of every electron is aligned in the same direction, causing two distinct poles. In antiferromagnets, neighboring electrons point in the opposite direction, causing the object to have zero net magnetism (pictured below). In combination with ferromagnets, antiferromagnets are used to create spin valves: the magnetic sensors used in hard drive heads.

Antiferromagnetic ordering

In the case of quantum spin liquids, the material is a solid crystal — but the internal magnetic state is constantly in flux. The magnetic orientations of the electrons (their magnetic moment) fluctuate as they interact with other nearby electrons. “But there is a strong interaction between them, and due to quantum effects, they don’t lock in place,” says Young Lee, senior author of the research. It is these strong interactions that apparently allow for long-range quantum entanglement. The existence of QSLs has been theorized since 1987, but until now no one has succeeded in actually finding one. In MIT’s case, the researchers spent 10 months growing a tiny sliver of herbertsmithite (pictured above) — a material that was suspected to be a QSL, but which had never been properly investigated. (Bonus points if you can guess who herbertsmithite is named after.) Using neutron scattering — firing a beam of neutrons at a material to analyze its structure — the researchers found that the herbertsmithite was indeed a QSL. Moving forward, Lee says that the discovery of QSLs could lead to advances in data storage (new forms of magnetic storage) and communications (long-range entanglement). Lee also seems to think that QSLs could lead us towards higher-temperature superconductors — i.e. materials that superconduct under relatively normal conditions, rather than -200C. Really, though, the most exciting thing about quantum spin liquids is that they’re completely new, and thus we ultimately have no idea how they might eventually affect our world. “We have to get a more comprehensive understanding of the big picture,” Lee says. “There is no theory that describes everything that we’re seeing.”

Polar bears traced to a single Irish ancestor

All polar bears descended from one grizzly:

All polar bears descended from one grizzly

All polar bears descended from one grizzly

THE ARCTIC’S DWINDLING POPULATION of polar bears all descend from a single mamma brown bear which lived 20,000 to 50,000 years ago in present-day Ireland, new research suggests. DNA samples from the great white carnivores – taken from across their entire range in Russia, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Alaska – revealed that every individual’s lineage could be traced back to this Irish forebear. The analysis of genetic material inherited only through females also showed brown and polar bears mated periodically over the last 100,000 years. This raises the possibility that such cross-species mingling – thought by some scientists to be an additional threat to polar bears already struggling to cope with climate change – played a positive role in their recent evolution, the researchers say. “Hybridisation could certainly result in the loss of unique genetic sequences, which could push them toward extinction,” says Beth Shapiro, a professor at Pennsylvania State University and lead researcher for the study. “But scientists should reconsider conservation efforts focused not just on polar bears but also on hybrids, since hybrids may play an underappreciated role in the survival of certain species.” Previous research had traced the earliest female brown bear ancestor for modern polar bears back 14,000 years to the Alaskan ABC islands. The new findings, published on Thursday in the journal Current Biology not only change the location but push back the date an additional 6000 to 36,000 years. Only by comparing the more recent maternal genetic lineage with core DNA formed by both male and female parents were researchers able to pinpoint the brown bear ancestor. “The nuclear DNA goes back much further, and probably emerges from a common ancestor with brown bears earlier than 500,000 years ago,” explains Beth. “It is exactly this difference – between the very recent common ancestor along the maternal line and the much older common ancestor in the other genomic DNA – that makes it possible to infer that all living polar bears are descended from a brown bear that lived more recently,” she said. In order to discern this pattern, there had to have been occasional mating after the two species split, she says. Because they evolved in separate environments, neither species could survive long in the other’s ecological niche due to different body shapes, metabolism, and hunting habits. Polar bears, for example, are expert swimmers, whereas brown bears are more adept at climbing. There are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


The New Moore’s Law

A New and Improved Moore’s Law:

A New and Improved Moore's Law

A New and Improved Moore’s Law

Researchers have, for the first time, shown that the energy efficiency of computers doubles roughly every 18 months. The conclusion, backed up by six decades of data, mirrors Moore’s law, the observation from Intel founder Gordon Moore that computer processing power doubles about every 18 months. But the power-consumption trend might have even greater relevance than Moore’s law as battery-powered devices—phones, tablets, and sensors—proliferate. “The idea is that at a fixed computing load, the amount of battery you need will fall by a factor of two every year and a half,” says Jonathan Koomey, consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and lead author of the study. More mobile computing and sensing applications become possible, Koomey says, as energy efficiency continues its steady improvement. The research, conducted in collaboration with Intel and Microsoft, examined peak power consumption of electronic computing devices since the construction of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) in 1946. The first general purpose computer, the ENIAC was used to calculate artillery firing tables for the U.S. Army, and it could perform a few hundred calculations per second. It used vacuum tubes rather than transistors, took up 1,800 square feet, and consumed 150 kilowatts of power. Even before the advent of discrete transistors, Koomey says, energy efficiency doubled every 18 months. “This is a fundamental characteristic of information technology that uses electrons for switching,” he says. “It’s not just a function of the components on a chip.” The sort of engineering considerations that go into improving computer performance—reducing component size, capacitance, and the communication time between them, among other things—also improves energy efficiency, Koomey says. In July, Koomey released a report that showed, among other findings, that the electricity used in data centers worldwide increased by about 56 percent from 2005 to 2010—a much lower rate than the doubling that was observed from 2000 to 2005. While better energy efficiency played a part in this change, the total electricity used in data centers was less than the forecast for 2010 in part because fewer new servers were installed than expected due to technologies such as virtualization, which allowed existing systems to run more programs simultaneously. Koomey notes that data center computers rarely run at peak power. Most computers are, in fact, “terribly underutilized,” he says. The information technology world has gradually been shifting its focus from computing capabilities to better energy efficiency, especially as people become more accustomed to using smart phones, laptops, tablets, and other battery-powered devices. Since the Intel Core microarchitecture was introduced in 2006, the company has experienced “a sea change in terms of focus on power consumption,” says Lorie Wigle, general manager of the eco-technology program at Intel. “Historically, we have focused on performance and battery life, and increasingly, we’re seeing those two things come together,” she says. “Everyone’s familiar with Moore’s law and the remarkable improvements in the power of computers, and that’s obviously important,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, professor of the Sloan School of Management at MIT. But people are paying more attention to the battery life of their electronics as well as how fast they can run. “I think that’s more and more the dimension that matters to consumers,” Brynjolfsson says. “And in a sense, ‘Koomey’s law,’ this trend of power consumption, is beginning to eclipse Moore’s law for what matters to consumers in a lot of applications.” To Koomey, the most interesting aspect of the trend is thinking about the possibilities for computing. The theoretical limits are still so far away, he says. In 1985, the physicist Richard Feynman analyzed the electricity needs for computers and estimated that efficiency could theoretically improve by a factor of 100 billion before it hit a limit, excluding new technologies such as quantum computing. Since then, efficiency improvements have been about 40,000. “There’s so far to go,” says Koomey. “It’s only limited by our cleverness, not the physics.”

Frankenstein monster mummy found

 Science baffled by frankenstien monster mommies:
 Science baffled by frankenstein monster mummies

Science baffled by frankenstein monster mummies

Yes you just read that right, there are indeed mummies being discovered off the coast of Scotland that are made up of the body parts (or at least the bones) of multiple humans, making them the living embodiment of the classic Frankenstein monster. It’s not often that one finds a body buried with a jawbone that’s taken from a different body than the skull that its attached to, and the scientists that are working with the bodies that’ve been discovered this past month have certainly never come across cases as strange as these before. It is along the West Coast of South Uist, an island in the Hebrides that has given up a couple of corpses with remains as old of 3,5000 years old. These mummified bodies suggest that the first residents of the island of South Uist were not without their strange activities in the body burial sector – strange by today’s standards, anyway. It was researchers led by archaeologist Michael Parker-Pearson of the University of Sheffield that turned up this find, they digging near a more modern graveyard by the name of Cladh Hallan. The team was excavating a set of three roundhouses from a village which was occupied from approximately 2200 BC to 800 BC, each of the skeletons being recovered in a fetal position. These bodies appeared to have been preserved in peat bogs for what must have been a year or longer, then placed in the grave sites having been relatively well preserved by the high acidity and low oxygen of the area. These skeletons were found, strangely enough, to be made up of several bodies, each of them giving up the correct bit to create one human skeleton. These single full bodies had such oddities, of course, as arthritis on the vertebrae of the neck but not on the rest of the spine, a skull with no teeth on the upper jaw while the bottom had none, and at least three different sets of bones having been used at different times in all. One body showed bones with parts showing several hundred years time between them. Parker-Pearson spoke with LiveScience on the subject, speaking on the importance of the find:

“Altogether, these results have completely changed our ideas about treatment of the dead in prehistoric Britain. Other archaeologists are now identifying similar examples now that the breakthrough has been made — beforehand, it was just unthinkable.” – Parker-Pearson

Archaeologist Terry Brown of the University of Manchester has done DNA tests on analysis of one of the bodies dubbed female and has found that the lower jaw, thigh bone, and arm bone all came from different people, none of them maternally related.


Climate Scientists Lie

Climate Scientist Admits To Lying, Leaking Documents:

Scientists Lie

Scientists Lie

Peter Gleick is not just any scientist. He got his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley and won a MacArthur “genius” award. He is also an outspoken proponent of scientific evidence that humans are responsible for climate change.  And earlier this week, he confessed that he had lied to obtain internal documents from the Heartland Institute, a group that questions to what extent climate change is caused by humans.  Gleick’s deception has shaken the science community. Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute, whose funders and policies were described in the documents, is planning legal action.  For Peter Gleick, it’s going to be a personal tragedy. For [the American Geophysical Union], it’s very unfortunate. Situations like this damage our credibility. And that really hurts.  What Gleick admits to is this: He got a document from an anonymous source that appeared to come from the Heartland Institute. Gleick then called the institute using an assumed name. He asked for and received more documents. Then he sent them — anonymously — to bloggers and journalists.  The documents allegedly detailed Heartland’s funding and strategies, including efforts to hire someone to write school curricula questioning mainstream scientific views on climate warming.  Gleick this week wrote in the Huffington Post that he suffered a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics” due to his “frustration” with attacks on climate science from places like Heartland.  Scientists are shocked. “This is a tragedy on so many levels,” says Michael McPhaden, who runs the American Geophysical Union. “For Peter Gleick, it’s going to be a personal tragedy. For AGU, it’s very unfortunate. Situations like this damage our credibility. And that really hurts.”  The AGU, like most mainstream scientific groups, endorses the evidence for man-made climate change. And Gleick ran their task force on scientific ethics until he resigned last week.  “People will look at this and say, ‘Ah, you know, another conspiracy in the climate community.’ Of course, we all know that’s smoke and mirrors. But it does hurt our ability to communicate more broadly about the reality of climate change,” says McPhaden.  Roger Pielke Jr., a climate policy analyst at the University of Colorado, wouldn’t go that far. “For most people it’s very much inside baseball,” he says. “It’s a dispute among people and organizations that are really outside the public eye.”  Pielke adds, however, that like some climate scientists, Gleick lost his cool over attacks on their research.  That kind of invasion of privacy is taken really seriously. It has no place in this debate. I mean what kind of ethical code allows for the invasion of privacy of individuals like that?  “My view is that some folks in the science community have gotten so hung up on the fact that some individuals and groups don’t share their views, that it has become an all-out war over ideas.” Pielke says what was a scientific issue has now been conscripted into the politically driven “culture war,” with climate scientists and environmental groups on one side, and those who distrust and disbelieve them on the other, with little crossover.  Gleick works at the Pacific Institute in California. So far, he’s not speaking publicly. A spokesman for Gleick says Gleick knows his judgment was bad but is glad to see Heartland’s sources of income and political strategy out in the open. Those sources include several foundations associated with conservative political and social causes.  But Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at the University of California, San Diego, says maybe that’s not such a big deal. “The documents that were released last week essentially affirm what we already knew,” she says. “And [the deception] was not necessary because this information is actually available through entirely appropriate means.” In fact, Oreskes has documented ties between climate skeptics and their funders in her book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.  Oreskes says Gleick’s actions don’t diminish the validity of decades of climate research, nor do they reflect the ethics of scientists who do it. “Thousands and thousands of people are working on this issue, and this is one man,” she says.  At the Heartland Institute, President Joseph Bast says some of the internal documents reveal sensitive information about Heartland donors and staff members. “That kind of invasion of privacy is taken really seriously,” Bast says. “It has no place in this debate. I mean, what kind of ethical code allows for the invasion of privacy of individuals like that?”  Bast says one of the documents that Gleick circulated, a two-page “strategy” that casts Heartland in the worst light, is a forgery. He says an internal investigation shows that “that document did not originate in this organization. There’s no trace of that document anywhere in a Heartland office computer.”  Bast points out that some of the institute’s donors specifically ask for anonymity, which has now been breached, not only by Gleick but by websites that have displayed the documents.  And he disagrees with those who say Gleick’s behavior is atypical, claiming he’s typical of people in the climate community who refuse to engage in debate with Heartland.  “Gleick is not an exception. He’s a role model for people on their side,” Bast says.  Bast says the institute plans to pursue criminal and civil action against Gleick and possibly others involved in circulating the documents.