2017-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2017-11-22 15:26:07 UTC
2017-11-23 07:58:51 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have built and delivered a high-resolution X-ray spectrometer for the largest and most powerful laser facility in the world. The diagnostic, installed on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will analyze and record data from high-energy density experiments created by firing NIF's 192 lasers at tiny pellets of fuel. Such experiments are relevant to projects that include the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program, which maintains the U.S. nuclear deterrent without full-scale testing, and to inertial confinement fusion, an alternative to the magnetic confinement fusion that PPPL studies.
PPPL has used spectrometers for decades to analyze the electromagnetic spectrum of plasma, the hot fourth state of matter in which electrons have separated from atomic nuclei, inside doughnut-shaped fusion devices known as tokamaks.
These devices heat the particles and confine them in magnetic fields, causing the nuclei to fuse and produce fusion energy. By contrast, NIF's high-powered lasers cause fusion by heating the exterior of the fuel pellet. As the exterior vaporizes, pressure extends inward towards the pellet's core, crushing hydrogen atoms together until they fuse and release their energy.
NIF tested and confirmed that the spectrometer was operating as expected on September 28. During the experiment, the device accurately measured the electron temperature and density of a fuel capsule during the fusion process.
"Measuring these conditions is key to achieving ignition of a self-sustaining fusion process on NIF," said PPPL physicist Lan Gao, who helped design and build the device. "Everything worked out very nicely. The signal level we got was just like what we predicted."
Spirits may make you feel angry, sexy or tearful, while red wine or beer may make you feel relaxed, say researchers.
They questioned nearly 30,000 people aged 18-34 from 21 different countries for the study in the journal BMJ Open.
All the respondents drank beer, wine and spirits, and many said each type of alcohol had a different effect on them.
While having a few drinks can be enjoyable, researchers hope their findings will help highlight the dangers of dependent drinking.
We have to discuss this, if only because it may explain Ethanol-Fueled's posts.
In the scientific version of her obituary, Dolly the Sheep was reported to have suffered from severe arthritis in her knees. The finding and Dolly's early death from an infection led many researchers to think that cloning might cause animals to age prematurely.
But new X-rays of Dolly's skeleton and those of other cloned sheep and Dolly's naturally conceived daughter Bonnie indicate that the world's first cloned mammal had the joints of normal sheep of her age. Just like other sheep, Dolly had a little bit of arthritis in her hips, knees and elbows [open, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-15902-8] [DX], developmental biologist Kevin Sinclair of the University of Nottingham in England and colleagues report November 23 in Scientific Reports.
The researchers decided to reexamine Dolly's remains after finding that her cloned "sisters" have aged normally and didn't have massive arthritis (SN: 8/20/16, p. 6). No formal records of Dolly's original arthritis exams were kept, so Sinclair and colleagues got Dolly and Bonnie's skeletons and those of two other cloned sheep, Megan and Morag, from the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh. Megan and Bonnie were both older than Dolly at the time of their deaths and had more bone damage than Dolly did. Morag died younger and had less damage.
How many times has the story of Dolly's death at the ripe age of 6 (with a supposed genetic starting age of 6 due to shorter telomeres) been used as a bludgeon against cloning?
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Spontaneous contractions of the digestive tract play an important role in almost all animals, and ensure healthy bowel functions. From simple invertebrates to humans, there are consistently similar patterns of movement, through which rhythmic contractions of the muscles facilitate the transport and mixing of the bowel contents.
These contractions, known as peristalsis, are essential for the digestive process. With various diseases of the digestive tract, such as severe inflammatory bowel diseases in humans, there are disruptions to the normal peristalsis.
To date, very little research has explored the factors underlying the control of these contractions. Now, for the first time, a research team from the Cell and Developmental Biology (Bosch AG) working group at the Zoological Institute at Kiel University (CAU) has been able to prove that the bacterial colonisation of the intestine plays an important role in controlling peristaltic functions.
The scientists published their results yesterday - derived from the example of freshwater polyps Hydra - in the latest issue of Scientific Reports.
Andrea P. Murillo-Rincón, Alexander Klimovich, Eileen Pemöller, Jan Taubenheim, Benedikt Mortzfeld, René Augustin & Thomas C.G. Bosch (2017): "Spontaneous body contractions are modulated by the microbiome of Hydra". Scientific Reports, Published on 21.11.2017, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-16191-x
Fatty acids released into the air from cooking may contribute to the formation of clouds that cool the climate, say scientists. Fatty acid molecules comprise about 10% of fine particulates over London, and such particles help seed clouds. But researchers dismiss the idea that cooking fats could be used as a geo-engineering tool to reduce warming. Instead, the research is designed to help reduce uncertainties about the role of cooking fats on climate.
Researchers believe the fatty molecules arrange themselves into complex 3-D structures in atmospheric droplets. These aerosols persist for longer than normal and can seed the formation of clouds which experts say can have a cooling effect on the climate. The authors say the study will shed new light on the long term role of aerosols on temperatures. Atmospheric aerosols are one of the areas of climate science where there are considerable uncertainties.
Scientists have warned against using stratospheric aerosol injection to attempt to geoengineer the climate:
Blasting aerosols into the atmosphere to fight climate change could have the unfortunate side effect of creating drought and more hurricanes, according to new research.
Some scientists believe that sending a plane to spray sulfate aerosols into the sky will help cool down the Earth. But drastic moves might lead to unintended consequences, according to scientists who ran a model to see how spraying the sulfate would affect our climate. The model simulates how an annual spray of aerosols in both hemispheres would affect the climate between 2020 and 2070 — and it found that there could be negative consequences in both regions. The results were published today in the journal Nature Communications [open, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01606-0] [DX].
Fried turkey, anyone?
Complex three-dimensional self-assembly in proxies for atmospheric aerosols (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01918-1) (DX)
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Excess carbon dioxide, emitted by burning fossil fuels like coal and petroleum, is one of the most important factors in driving global warming. While the world is focused on controlling global warming by limiting these emissions, less attention has been paid to the capacity of vegetation and soils to take up and store carbon.
One of the most popular approaches to carbon storage is protecting tropical rainforests. If a rainforest is cut down, the carbon stored in the trunks and leaves will be released to the atmosphere. But plants in alpine communities in Norway also have a role to play in storing—or releasing—carbon dioxide.
"We don't think about how much carbon is actually stored right in our own backyard," says Mia Vedel Sørensen, a PhD candidate at NTNU's Department of Biology who is studying carbon storage in shrub vegetation in the Dovre mountains, in mid-Norway.
Sørensen compared three types of vegetation that are typical of the Norwegian mountains:
- Shrubs (willows)
- Heath (crowberry and heather)
"I wanted to figure out how much carbon these three vegetation types store and release. My hypothesis was that shrubs store more carbon than heath and meadow vegetation because shrubs have more biomass, and thus have higher rates of photosynthesis," she said.
But it turned out to be the opposite: Shrubs, even though they are tallest, actually store the least carbon.
"It surprised me that meadows actually store a lot more carbon than shrubs. The carbon in meadows is stored mostly below the ground, next to the roots," she said
The amount of carbon stored in heath vegetation is greater than in shrub vegetation, but less than in meadows, she said.
The Argentine navy says an event consistent with an explosion was recorded near where a submarine disappeared last week with 44 crew on board. An "abnormal, singular, short, violent, non-nuclear event" had been detected in the south Atlantic, a spokesman said. The information came from an Austria-based anti-nuclear test watchdog, Capt Balbi said. It follows a report of a loud noise in the same area.
The ARA San Juan disappeared last Wednesday. More than a dozen countries including Russia and the US have sent assistance.
The new information was provided to the Argentine navy on Thursday by the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Capt Balbi said. In a statement, the CTBTO said two of its hydro-acoustic stations had detected a signal from an "underwater impulsive event".
Archivist David Rosenthal asks on his blog, Has Web Advertising Jumped The Shark?.
He points out that there are four big problems with Web advertising as it currently exists: The bad guys love it, the readers hate it, the webmasters hate it too, and the advertisers find that it wastes money. He then goes into detail on each point and concludes that not only does everyone involved hate the system, but that it is causing actual harm to society.
Male Australian humpback dolphins have been observed presenting sponges to female dolphins:
Researchers from The University of Western Australia have captured a rare sexual display: evidence of male humpback dolphins presenting females with large marine sponges in an apparent effort to mate.
Scientists from UWA's School of Biological Sciences, the University of Zurich and Murdoch University conducted a decade of boat-based research on coastal dolphins across north-western Australia.
They documented adult male Australian humpback dolphins presenting large marine sponges to females, as well as performing visual and acoustic displays. It's the first time the behaviour has been documented in this species.
Their first observation was between a male and female dolphin and her calf. The male dolphin dived down to remove a large marine sponge fixed to the seafloor, balanced it on his beak and pushed it toward the female.
Multi-modal sexual displays in Australian humpback dolphins (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-13898-9) (DX)
For many years, major U.S. institutions ranging from the Pentagon to the 9/11 Commission have been pushing the line that Iran secretly cooperated with Al Qaeda both before and after the 9/11 terror attacks. But the evidence for those claims remained either secret or sketchy, and always highly questionable.
In early November, however, the mainstream media claimed to have its "smoking gun"—a CIA document written by an unidentified Al Qaeda official and released in conjunction with 47,000 never-before-seen documents seized from Osama bin Laden's house in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
[..] But none of those media reports were based on any careful reading of the document's contents. The 19-page Arabic-language document, which was translated in full for TAC, doesn't support the media narrative of new evidence of Iran-Al Qaeda cooperation, either before or after 9/11, at all. It provides no evidence whatsoever of tangible Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda. On the contrary, it confirms previous evidence that Iranian authorities quickly rounded up those Al Qaeda operatives living in the country when they were able to track them down, and held them in isolation to prevent any further contact with Al Qaeda units outside Iran.
What it shows is that the Al Qaeda operatives were led to believe Iran was friendly to their cause and were quite taken by surprise when their people were arrested in two waves in late 2002. It suggests that Iran had played them, gaining the fighters' trust while maximizing intelligence regarding Al Qaeda's presence in Iran.
Full article is well worth reading, a great deal of detail is provided.
Evidence for liquid water on the surface of Mars may have actually been evidence of sand movement:
One of [Alfred] McEwen's most important finds [on Mars] came in 2011, with the discovery of recurring slope lineae (RSL), thousands of temporary streaks along steep slopes, mostly near the equator, that gradually grow and darken as spring turns to summer, as if fed by seeps of water. They soon became cited as the best evidence for liquid water on the surface of Mars today—and also one of the best places to search for microbial life.
But McEwen has now dowsed some of the excitement ignited by his initial finding. In a study published online this month in Nature Geoscience, he and his colleagues analyzed 151 of the streaks, finding that they only occur on slopes steeper than 27° and always peter out when the angle drops below that [DOI: 10.1038/s41561-017-0012-5] [DX]. The researchers interpret this as a sign that the RSL are not formed by water—which would flow down shallower slopes—but rather are dry flows of sand and dust seeking their natural angle of repose.
But there's still hope for life on Mars... or beneath it:
Q: Do you think of Mars as a hospitable place?
A: It's inconceivable to me that there aren't places where there's liquid water today within Mars. If there was ever life on Mars—that originated somewhere—why wouldn't there still be life today in these underground pockets? The surface, on the other hand, is a very harsh environment for life.
Q: Should the search for life be focused on Mars? Or should NASA and other agencies be exploring the ocean worlds that orbit Jupiter and Saturn?
A: I'm heavily involved in one mission—the Europa Clipper. Extant life there is much more likely today than on the surface of Mars. On the other hand, they're further away, and Europa in particular is in a harsh radiation environment. I think we should do both.
Also at The Verge.
Plague was present in Europe during the late Stone Age, according to a study of ancient remains. Writing in Current Biology journal, researchers suggest the deadly bacterium entered Europe with a mass migration of people from further east. They screened more than 500 ancient skeletal samples and recovered the full genomes of plague bacteria from six individuals. These six variously date to between Late Neolithic and Bronze Age times.
The plague-positive samples come from Russia, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia and Croatia. "The two samples from Russia and Croatia are among the oldest plague-positive samples published. They are contemporary with [a] previously published sample from the Altai region [in Siberia]," co-author Alexander Herbig from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, told BBC News.
The Stone Age Plague and Its Persistence in Eurasia (DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.025) (DX)
El Reg reports
Tired of continual price hikes on your broadband deal? Then why not move to Iran? According to a study released today, it has the cheapest broadband (if you're willing to ignore political and social problems).
The survey conducted by cable.co.uk and BDRC Continental ranked 196 countries on their monthly prices for a broadband connection, using 3,351 consumer packages tracked over eight weeks (ending October 12) to calculate the average.
At $5.37 (£4.05) a month, Iran beats second placed Ukraine at $5.52 a month, with both significantly cheaper than Russia at $9.82 a month.
Burkina Faso is last at 196th place, costing users $954.54 (£720.77) per month. Papua New Guinea is 195th, but much better at $597.20 (£450.95), then Namibia at $431.99 (£326.20). The UK comes in 62nd place, averaging £30.54 a month($40.44).
We learned last week that Belgium's gambling authority was investigating loot crates in Star Wars Battlefront II over concerns that they constitute gambling. Now, the decision is in, and the answer is a resounding yes, according to Dutch-language publication VTM Nieuws. The commission claims that purchasable add-on boxes, the contents of which are randomized, mix "money and addiction" and thus are a form of gambling.
Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens added: "Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child." The commission will now reportedly work through the European Union's process to execute a total ban. We've reached out to Belgium's Gaming Commission for more details on its next steps and the legal implications of the ruling.
The country isn't alone in its stance on loot boxes. Just hours ago, Rep. Chris Lee (D) from Hawaii denounced EA's "predatory behavior" in a speech uploaded to YouTube (first spotted by Kotaku). In the clip, Lee also talks of the detrimental affect micro-transactions have on children, with specific reference to Battlefront II, which he describes as a a "Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money".
Press 'F' to pay respects.
There are plenty of gardeners that talk to their plants in the belief that it helps them grow. While plants aren't likely to be eavesdropping on our conversations anytime soon, they could be gathering different types of intelligence if a new DARPA program bears fruit. The agency is pursuing research into genetically modifying plants to turn them into self-sustaining surveillance sensors.
The aim of the program is to genetically modify certain plants so that specific response mechanisms are triggered when they are presented with specific stimuli. It is suggested that existing hardware can be used to remotely monitor these responses so the plants could essentially be used as organic sensors. As such, the program won't seek to develop new hardware for this purpose, but rely on existing technologies that can already measure such things as a plants' temperature, chemical composition and reflectance.
If this tech is successful, we'll need Aeon Flux.