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ewmayer 2009-07-22 23:14

Official "Science News" Thread
Post interesting science news links (which may not warrant their own thread) here. For instance, the following astronomical story, brought to you by DeBeers:

[url=]Diamond star thrills astronomers[/url]: [i]Twinkling in the sky is a diamond star of 10 billion trillion trillion carats, astronomers have discovered.[/i]

Spherical Cow 2009-07-24 20:56


Here's an article about the recent photos of the Apollo landing sites- At the Apollo 14 site, you can actually see the astronaut's tracks out to the science experiment set-up location.


Batalov 2009-07-24 23:03

A German farmer who lost both arms in an accident is able to raise his arms a year after a groundbreaking transplant operation. The 55-year-old patient hopes to get back on a tractor - and a motorcycle - soon.


ewmayer 2009-07-27 19:49

[url=]Chile’s Antibiotics Use on Salmon Farms Dwarfs That of a Top Rival’s[/url]: [i]Chile used almost 350 times more antibiotics in its farmed salmon in 2008 than Norway, its chief competitor and the largest salmon producer in the world, according to official data from both countries.[/i]

How incredibly irresponsible of them. Make sure to ask where that salmon is from next time you're contemplating ordering one.

Jeff Gilchrist 2009-07-30 14:56

[QUOTE=ewmayer;183021]How incredibly irresponsible of them. Make sure to ask where that salmon is from next time you're contemplating ordering one.[/QUOTE]

On a similar note, sounds like big-agro business in the US is going to try and squash a new measure to limit antibiotic use for non-medical purposes in livestock:

Spherical Cow 2009-08-11 14:28

The Mars rover Opportunity found another meteorite on Mars- big one, too.


(That's more than I've found in my entire life...)


ewmayer 2009-08-14 20:21

Drug Compound That Kills Cancer Stem Cells Found
[url=]Drug Compound That Kills Cancer Stem Cells Identified[/url]: [i]A drug that can selectively target and kill the stem cells that drive the growth of tumors has been identified for the first time by scientists who searched more than 16,000 compounds to find it.[/i]
[quote]Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Broad Institute looked for compounds that could destroy the stem cells, which often resist conventional cancer treatment. One, salinomycin, cut the number of stem cells at least 100 times more than did Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Taxol, a common chemotherapy medicine, according to a report on the findings published today in the journal Cell.

The researchers will conduct further testing of salinomycin in animals to assess its potential to treat humans, said Piyush Gupta, a researcher at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Broad Institute and co-author of the study. While the outcome of that research is unknown, he said, the work has strengthened a theory that stem cells fuel cancer and may have created a way to find effective drugs.

“We now have a method that researchers anywhere in the world can use to find agents that can kill cancer stem cells and potentially treat cancer,” Gupta said today in a telephone interview.

Stem cells appear to fuel the growth of several kinds of cancer including breast, lung and brain tumors, according to studies done in recent years. The cells are resistant to standard cancer therapy, so finding a way to thwart them is important, said Judy Lieberman, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School who researches cancer stem cells.

[b]Tumor-Initiating Cells[/b]

Research by Jenny Chang at the Baylor College of Medicine has shown that after breast-cancer patients received chemotherapy and hormone treatments, the remaining tumors had a greater percentage of malignancy-initiating cells, the cancer stem cells, than before.

The researchers at MIT and Broad grew cancer cells from breast tumors in a way that increased the number of stem cells. They then used rapid screening techniques to test 16,000 commercially available chemical compounds. They identified 32 candidates before settling on salinomycin as the most potent.

They also tested the compound in mice in two ways. First, they exposed breast cancer stem cells in laboratory dishes to salinomycin and Taxol and tallied how many cells they would need to inject in a mouse to trigger a tumor. It took many more of the salinomycin-treated cells to spur cancer, showing that the compound was inhibiting cancer development, Gupta said.

Second, they induced tumors in mice and treated them with the two drugs. While both drugs exerted “significant anti-tumor effects,” the mice treated with Taxol had a greater proportion of cancer stem cells left in the remaining tumor. Taxol enriched the population of cancer stem cells and salinomycin reduced it, Gupta said.

“We have now a systematic way to look for compounds that selectively kill cancer stem cells,” Gupta said. “We’ve taken a lot of the serendipity out of the equation.”[/quote]

Spherical Cow 2009-08-17 21:47

First detection of an amino acid in a comet- The craft Stardust brought back glycine from Comet Wild 2.



cheesehead 2009-08-18 06:07

Closing the X-File on the Tunguska mystery!
Something I missed at the end of June:

[B]Closing the X-File on the Tunguska mystery![/B]

Thrust for a NASA space shuttle liftoff comes from (a) solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and (b) the shuttle's main engines burning fuel (H[sub]2[/sub]) and oxidizer (O[sub]2[/sub]) from that big tank. Once the SRBs drop off at an altitude of about 45 km (28 miles), the exhaust left in the shuttle's plume is just water vapor.
[/SIZE] It has been repeatedly observed that this high-altitude injection of many tons of water vapor leads to the formation of noctilucent clouds as far away as the north and south polar regions. (Yes, the shuttle's water exhaust winds up at high altitudes as far as the Arctic and Antarctic, within a few days.)

But why doesn't it disperse so widely that too little reaches the polar regions to form noticeable clouds?

It turns out that giant mesospheric eddies formed with this water vapor can rapidly travel thousands of miles before dispersing. [I]This[/I] is the key to overcoming a previous objection to the theory that the Tunguska object was a mostly-ice comet.

It had been thought there was no mechanism for transporting large amounts of water vapor thousands of miles (such as Tunguska -> London) within a day. "Bright nights" started over northern Europe on July 1, 1908, just one day after the Tunguska explosion.

A research team from Cornell U. put together the shuttle observations, eddy findings and historic records of the "bright nights" over northern Europe and Great Britain for several days immediately following the Tunguska event. Conclusion: the Tunguska event was probably an ice comet explosion that injected massive amounts of water vapor into the mesosphere, causing thick noctilucent clouds to form and light up northern European nights for a while.

"1908 Tunguska Event Caused by Comet, New Research Reveals"


[quote]The 1908 Tunguska event has always been mysterious and intriguing because no one has been able to fully explain the explosion that leveled 830 square miles of Siberian forest. But the latest research has concluded that the Tunguska explosion was almost certainly caused by a comet entering the [URL=""]Earth[/URL]’s atmosphere. And how researcher Michael Kelly from Cornell University came to that conclusion is quite interesting: He analyzed the space shuttle's exhaust plume and noctilucent clouds.

. . .

“There is a mean transport of this material for tens of thousands of kilometers in a very short time, and there is no model that predicts that,” Kelley said. “It’s totally new and unexpected physics.”

This “new” physics, the researchers contend, is tied up in counter-rotating eddies with extreme energy. Once the water vapor got caught up in these eddies, the water traveled very quickly — close to 300 feet per second.[/quote]"Space Shuttle Exhaust Provides Clues to the Mysterious Tunguska Event"


Fantastic! I love it when astronomically-related mysteries are solved!

BTW ... chalk up an actual, though indirect, science result to the space shuttle. What else would have injected such massive amounts of water vapor at that height, so as to allow discovery of the Fast Eddies? :-)

Fellow X-File fans: sorry about that.

ewmayer 2009-08-18 18:15

Mystery of Mozart's Death Solved at Last?
[url=]Study: Mozart "Was killed by superbug like MSRA"[/url]
[quote]The composer's untimely death at the age of 35 has remained a mystery ever since he passed away in the early hours of 5 December 1791.

Rumours immediately began circulating that he had been poisoned, while theories over the centuries have included renal failure and tuberculosis.

Now a group of Dutch researchers has suggested that he died from a bacterial infection spread by soldiers which was rife in Vienna at the time.

By studying the city's death register, they found that the three most common causes of death among men of his age were tuberculosis, severe weight loss and a condition called 'oedema' or 'dropsy' – an accumulation of fluids causing the body to swell up.

Mozart's symptoms match the last of the three, according to Dr Richard Zeger, from the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, who said it could have been caused by a bacterial infection.

He said: "I think you can compare this to a superbug like MRSA or C.difficile."

Eyewitnesses who saw Mozart days before he died, including his sister-in-law Sophie Haibel, said he was covered in a rash – consistent with a bacterial infection – and severely swollen – consistent with oedema or dropsy.

The outbreak probably started in a military hospital with poor hygiene, before spreading to the wider community, according to their research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

At the time Vienna was full of soldiers from the Austro-Turkish war who had been struck down by disease. [/quote]
[i]My Comment:[/i] The "Great Mass in C-Diff Major?" (Tasteless, I know).

cheesehead 2009-08-19 05:10

Because-it-doesn't-know-the-words Department
"Earth Hums, and It's 'Loudest' in Europe, Americas"


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