Mice Born from Freeze-dried Space Sperm Are Doing OK

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 22, 2017 2:00 pm
The "space pups" made from freeze-dried sperm flown aboard the ISS. (Credit: Teruhiko Wakayama et al.)

The “space pups” made from freeze-dried sperm flown aboard the ISS. (Credit: Teruhiko Wakayama et al.)

Before they were born, these mice were astronauts. Or, rather, the sperm that would go on to deliver half of their genetic material were.

For nine months, mouse sperm was kept aboard the International Space Station, freeze-dried to preserve it. Brought back to Earth, the sperm was rehydrated, introduced to an egg and allowed to divide for about 20 days. The resulting mouse pups carry the distinction of having traveled perhaps the farthest distance ever on their way to being born. Read More

A Peculiar Star Is Doing Peculiar Things, Again

By John Wenz | May 19, 2017 2:29 pm
KIC_8462852_in_IR_and_UV

Infrared: IPAC/NASA Ultraviolet: STScI (NASA)

There’s a star 1,300 light years away that has exhibited some of the strangest behavior ever seen: something dims 20 percent of its light, something that is beyond the size of a planet. It’s called KIC 8462852, but most people shorthand it Tabby’s Star, or Boyajian’s Star for its discoverer, Tabitha Boyajian.

Here’s the thing, though. Absolutely nobody knows why it’s dimming that much. It could be a massive fleet of comets or the debris of a planet. But it’s not giving off much infrared excess, which is a sort of “heat glow” from reflected starlight. And now, it seems to be dimming again, either helping or complicating the search for a solution.

Boyajian and co-investigator Jason Wright first put out the alert, hoping to garner observations from telescopes worldwide. They’re hoping at least one of telescope can grab spectra from the star to see what is causing the dimming.

So far the dimming is at 2-3 percent, meaning the transit of … something is just starting. Tabby’s Star has a dedicated telescope waiting to find such an event, so the big observation period could yield further clues to what’s occurring.

Ok, it’s time we tell you: some people think it’s aliens. The hypothesis, put forth by Wright, states that in the absence of a good hypothesis, all avenues must be explored, and that includes giant Dyson Swarm machines harnessing the power of the star. Gathering the spectra could help rule that out or bolster the case for that “all other avenues exhausted” scenario.

Here’s the thing, too: you can get in on the action. Amateur astronomers use smaller scopes to track the star, which is bigger and older than the Sun. It’s at around 12th magnitude in the direction of Cygnus. So get out there tonight and hunt for some aliens.

 

This article originally appeared in Astronomy.com

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: stars

Cold War-era Nuclear Tests Created Belts of Charged Particles Around the Earth

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 18, 2017 2:33 pm
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Up until 1963, both the U.S. and Soviet governments conducted over 500 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. They blew up these weapons anywhere from 16 miles above Earth to 250, well into space. The resulting fallout is estimated to have raised levels of thyroid cancer across the country, and could one day even serve as a marker for the Anthropocene—the age of humans. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Technology, top posts

The Power of Office Rituals

By Mark Barna | May 18, 2017 12:40 pm
office-ritual

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Anthropologists have long studied how rituals bind practitioners together. From African tribes moving rhythmically around a fire to the scripted kneeling and standing by Catholics during Sunday mass, participants deepen group identity through ritual.

But ritual also spills over into business and social situations. “The great thing about ritual is that anywhere humans are, a ritual will be there,” says Nicholas Hobson, a psychology and neuroscience researcher at the University of Toronto. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Is Antarctica Gaining or Losing Ice? Nature May Have Just Settled The Debate

By Eric Betz | May 16, 2017 12:57 pm
West Antarctica is rapidly melting, while some parts of East Antarctica have seen increased snowfall. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

West Antarctica is rapidly melting, while some parts of East Antarctica have seen increased snowfall. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

For years, scientists have debated whether heavy inland snowfall on the vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet — Earth’s largest — balances out the rapid melting in West Antarctica.

Given enough snowfall, the continent might not yet be contributing to sea level rise. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts

3-D Printed Ovaries Yield New Life

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 16, 2017 10:00 am
The scaffold for the 3-D printed mouse ovary. (Credit: Northwestern University)

The scaffold for the 3-D printed mouse ovary. (Credit: Northwestern University)

Mice with artificial, 3-D printed ovaries have successfully given birth to healthy offspring.

It’s another success for members of the same Northwestern University team that in March reproduced an entire menstrual cycle using organs-on-a-chip. This time, they’ve created ovaries from a type of gelatin hydrogel and infused them with immature egg cells before implanting them in female mice. The ovaries behaved like the natural ones, picking out an egg cell to mature and pass along, allowing the mice to bear healthy offspring. The procedure marks another step toward printing replacements for missing or damaged organs. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

A Handy Way to Solve Crime

By Nayanah Siva | May 12, 2017 12:00 pm
hands

Professor Sue Black demonstrates how the identification technique homes in on vein patterns. (Courtesy: Sue Black)

The thrill of a crime story is the unfolding of “whodunnit,” often against a backdrop of very little evidence. Positively identifying a suspect, even with a photo of her face, is challenging enough. But what if the only evidence available is a grainy image of a suspect’s hand?

Thanks to a group at the University of Dundee in the UK, that’s enough information to positively ID the perp.

The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) can assess vein patterns, scars, nail beds, skin pigmentation and knuckle creases from images of hands to show, with high reliability, that police got the right person in several very serious court cases in the UK. CAHID specializes in human identification, and was also the group that famously reconstructed King Richard III’s face after his body was found in a car park in Leicester in 2012. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: weapons & security

Massive Lava Tidal Waves Churn on Jupiter’s Moon Io

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 11, 2017 2:33 pm
This montage of images shows Jupiter with its volcanic moon Io in the foreground. The images were captured in 2007 during New Horizons' flyby. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Goddard Space Flight Center)

This montage of images shows Jupiter with its volcanic moon Io in the foreground. The images were captured in 2007 during New Horizons’ flyby. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Goddard Space Flight Center)

On Jupiter’s moon Io, a huge lava-filled basin is home to dual tidal waves that regularly sweep across its surface.

The Loki Patera is a lake of molten rock some 8,300 square miles in size with a large island in the center, first imaged by the Voyager spacecraft that flew by Jupiter in 1979. Periodic swings in brightness, imaged both by spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes indicated that something was disturbing the surface on a semi-uniform basis. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics
MORE ABOUT: solar system

After Mosquitos, Moths Are the Next Target For Genetic Engineering

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 10, 2017 4:14 pm
Diamondback moths. (Credit: Oxitec)

Diamondback moths. (Credit: Oxitec)

Though genetically modified crops may steal the spotlight, similarly reprogrammed insects may have just as big an effect on the agricultural industry.

Biotechnology company Oxitec is moving forward with plans to develop genetically engineered diamondback moths in an attempt to reduce populations of the invasive crop pest. Their plan is to release males that will pass on a gene preventing female offspring from reaching maturity and reproducing, which they say will eventually eradicate the moths in North America. Tests have so far been positive, although there are still worries about the prospect of releasing genetically modified organisms into the wild. Read More

Turn Anything into a Touchscreen With ‘Electrick’

By Nathaniel Scharping | May 9, 2017 3:20 pm

giphy (6)

Buttons, who needs ’em?

A new proof-of-concept technology from Carnegie Mellon University turns everyday objects into touch interfaces with an array of electrodes. Walls, guitars, toys and steering wheels come alive with touch sensitivity in their video, and it seems that the possibilities are pretty much endless. What could be next? Grocery store aisles? Whole buildings? Other people? Cell phones? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

D-brief

Briefing you on the must-know news and trending topics in science and technology today.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar
+