Category: Top Posts

Marie Curie: Iconic Scientist, Nobel Prize Winner…War Hero?

By Timothy J. Jorgensen, Georgetown University | October 11, 2017 2:32 pm
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Marie Curie in one of her mobile X-ray units in October 1917. (Credit: Eve Curie)

Ask people to name the most famous historical woman of science and their answer will likely be: Madame Marie Curie. Push further and ask what she did, and they might say it was something related to radioactivity. (She actually discovered the radioisotopes radium and polonium.) Some might also know that she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. (She actually won two.)

But few will know she was also a major hero of World War I. In fact, a visitor to her Paris laboratory in October of 1917 – 100 years ago this month – would not have found either her or her radium on the premises. Her radium was in hiding and she was at war. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: medical technology

We Almost Gave Up On Building Artificial Brains

By John Wenz | October 11, 2017 11:37 am

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Today artificial neural networks are making art, writing speeches, identifying faces and even driving cars. It feels as if we’re riding the wave of a novel technological era, but the current rise in neural networks is actually a renaissance of sorts.

It may be hard to believe, but artificial intelligence researchers were already beginning to see the promise in neural networks during World War II in their mathematical models. But by the 1970s, the field was ready to give up on them entirely. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts

Acupuncture Works by ‘Re-Wiring’ the Brain, Evidence Suggests

By Vitaly Napadow | October 6, 2017 11:13 am
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(Credit: Shutterstock)

Acupuncture is a form of traditional medical therapy that originated in China several thousand years ago. It was developed at a time bereft of tools such as genetic testing or even a modern understanding of anatomy, so medical philosophers did the best they could with what was available – herbs, animal products and rudimentary needles. In the process, perhaps, they stumbled on an effective medical approach.

In the past century, some modernization has taken place. For instance, acupuncture has been paired with electrical currents, allowing for stimulation to be more continuous and to penetrate deeper into the body. This approach was termed electro-acupuncture and represents a convergence between the ancient practice of acupuncture therapy and modern forays into targeted electrostimulation delivered to the skin or nerves. Such approaches have attracted the attention of the pharmaceutical industry and are part of a growing class of neuromodulatory therapies. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts

Brazil’s Moon Tree Warrior

By Andrew Jenner | October 2, 2017 3:46 pm
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Vilso Cembranel tends to the moon tree he saved from the brink of death. (Credit: Andrew Jenner)

On a warm, windy August day in 1981, a crowd gathered at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa for the final event of the soybean fair that’s held every other year in the small city in southern Brazil.

Schools had let out so local students could attend, along with curious fairgoers and a collection of bigwigs whose rank rose all the way up to João Figueiredo, then the president of Brazil. Speeches were made, the national anthem played, and then, around 1 p.m., a small tree was planted to symbolize a new ecological consciousness that was stirring in the heart of Brazilian farm country.

“The moment the tree was planted, all the city’s church bells started ringing,” recalls Nilso Guidolin, president of the 1981 soybean fair. “It was a joyful moment.” And it was a very special tree: a Sequoia sempervirens, or California redwood, grown from a seed that had traveled to the moon. After being planted with much fanfare, this symbolic tree was forgotten, neglected and abused over the following years. It almost died. It needed a hero. Read More

An Orbital Moon Station Is Our Gateway to Mars

By David Rothery, The Open University | September 29, 2017 4:04 pm
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Full moon photographed from Earth. (Credit: Gregory H. Revera/wikimedia, CC BY-SA)

The dream of a human habitat in orbit about the moon came a step closer on Sept. 27, when NASA and the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) signed up to a common vision for future human exploration. The project, a follow-up to the International Space Station (ISS), involves a facility placed in orbit somewhere between the Earth and the moon – a region known as cis-lunar space. Seen as a stepping-stone on the way to deeper space exploration, it has been dubbed the Deep Space Gateway, DSG. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

Eat Less, Age Less?

By Mark Barna | September 29, 2017 1:52 pm
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(Credit: Shutterstock)

Eating is one of the great pleasures of life. But eating too much places people at risk for chronic illnesses and shortens life expectancy. Seven of 10 Americans are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Being overweight is so common, people don’t recognize when they’ve crossed the belt line; only 36 percent of overweight/obese people think they weigh too much, says a recent Gallup poll.

People want to feel healthy and most want to live a long time. But practically speaking, the price may be too high. It means pushing away that extra plate of food, and perhaps more. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

How Vulnerable Are Societies to Collapse?

By Jim O'Donnell | September 28, 2017 12:28 pm
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Research findings on three early Native American cultures from the southwestern United States show how each responded to environmental challenges in different ways that dramatically altered their people’s futures. (David Williams/SAPIENS)

Along the cottonwood-lined rivers of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, the Mimbres people did something unique: By the year 1000, these farmers were producing stunning ceramics decorated with naturalistic images of fish, people, and rabbits, as well as magical creatures and elaborate geometric patterns. And then, rather abruptly, they stopped.

After roughly a century of higher than normal rainfall, the area the Mimbres inhabited suffered a powerful drought, as indicated by the archaeological record. Big game—already scarce—became even less abundant, and it became harder to grow the beans, corn and squash that the Mimbres relied on. By about 1150 the Mimbres were no longer making their signature pottery. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, Top Posts

Earth’s Oldest Rocks Are Revealing Life’s Origins, Fueling Controversy

By Eric Betz | September 27, 2017 12:35 pm
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A NASA image depicts what planet Earth may have looked like some 4 billion years ago when it was getting pummeled with space rocks. (Credit: NASA)

Earth’s first life evolved in hell.

The earliest lifeforms emerged at least 3.95 billion years ago, at a time when a near constant barrage of comets and asteroids were bombarding our still solidifying planet. That’s the implication of new research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

A group of Japanese scientists journeyed into a remote stretch of northern Labrador, Canada, where they chiseled samples from some of Earth’s oldest rocks. They braved bugs, bad weather and polar bears; they returned with what could be evidence for some of the oldest life on Earth. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts

A Steady Diet of TV Could Be Key for Deep Space Travelers

By Jan Van den Bulk, University of Michigan | September 26, 2017 12:14 pm
Astronaut Scott Kelly hosted a Super Bowl 50 party on the International Space Station, but no one came. (Credit: Scott Kelly)

Astronaut Scott Kelly hosted a Super Bowl 50 party on the International Space Station, but no one came. (Credit: Scott Kelly)

No one knows for sure what a long-range space journey will be like for the people on board. Nobody in the history of our species has ever had to deal with the “Earth-out-of-view” phenomenon, for instance. How will it feel to live in close quarters with a small group, with no escape hatch? How will space travelers deal with the prospect of not seeing family or friends for years, or even ever again? How will they occupy themselves for years with nothing much to do?

Researchers do know some things from observing astronauts who’ve stayed in space stations revolving around Earth for long periods of time, people who spent a lot of time shut off from the outside world in isolated regions (such as on polar expeditions) and from experiments with simulated Mars missions. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

Lake Michigan Itself Is the Greatest Asian Carp Deterrent

By Eric Betz | September 22, 2017 3:31 pm
Asian carp jump from the water at the mouth of the Wabash River in Ohio. (Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Todd Davis)

Asian carp jump from the water at the mouth of the Wabash River in Ohio. (Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Todd Davis)

For years, people have been freaking out that Asian carp are about to invade the Great Lakes.

That concern seemed more real than ever this summer after an Illinois fisherman caught a carp in June less than 10 miles from Lake Michigan — beyond the barriers designed to keep them out.

These voracious fish have already decimated Midwestern rivers. They’re filter feeders who feast on plankton — the tiny plants and critters that prop up foodchains. And they eat lots of them. Adult Asian carp eat pounds of the stuff every day. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Top Posts
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