NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager’s historic footage of Triton has been “restored” and used to construct the best-ever global color map of that strange moon. The video may be watched here. The map, produced by Paul Schenk, a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, has also been used to make a movie recreating that historic Voyager encounter, which took place 25 years ago, on August 25, 1989.
The new Triton map has a resolution of 1,970 feet (600 meters) per pixel. The colors have been enhanced to bring out contrast but are a close approximation to Triton’s natural colors. Voyager’s “eyes” saw in colors slightly different from human eyes, and this map was produced using orange, green and blue filter images.
Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble of this power plant echoes across the ancient steppe, and its acrid stench travels dozens of miles away.
This is the first of more than 60 coal-to-gas plants China wants to build, mostly in remote parts of the country where ethnic minorities have farmed and herded for centuries. Fired up in December, the multibillion-dollar plant bombards millions of tons of coal with water and heat to produce methane, which is piped to Beijing to generate electricity.
It’s part of a controversial energy revolution China hopes will help it churn out desperately needed natural gas and electricity while cleaning up the toxic skies above the country’s eastern cities. However, the plants will also release vast amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, even as the world struggles to curb greenhouse gas emissions and stave off global warming.
An Oklahoma oral surgeon, whose filthy clinics led to the testing of thousands of patients for HIV and hepatitis, permanently surrendered his professional license today.
Scott Harrington’s two Tulsa-area clinics have been closed since March 2013, when state health officials urged about 7,000 of his current and former patients to get tested for the diseases because of unsanitary conditions discovered there.
Citizen scientists are saving the lives of people living in the shadow of deadly volcanoes according to new research from the Univ. of East Anglia.
A report, published today in the Journal of Applied Volcanology, reveals the success of a volunteer group set up to safeguard communities around the “Throat of Fire” Tungurahua volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. More than 600 million people live close to active volcanoes worldwide. The research shows that living safely in these dangerous areas can depend on effective communication and collaboration between volcanologists, risk managers and vulnerable communities.
Pomegranate Drug May Stem Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s
The onset of Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed and some of its symptoms curbed by a natural compound that is found in pomegranate. Also, the painful inflammation that accompanies illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s disease could be reduced, according to the findings of a two-year project headed by Univ. of Huddersfield scientist Olumayokun Olajide, who specializes in the anti-inflammatory properties of natural products.
Now, a new phase of research can explore the development of drugs that will stem the development of dementias such as Alzheimer’s, which affects some 800,000 people in the UK, with 163,000 new cases a year being diagnosed. Globally, there are at least 44.4 million dementia sufferers, with the numbers expected to soar.
Lab water purification systems play a crucial role in everyday work. Here are some pointers for selecting the perfect purification system for your lab.
A lab’s water purification system typically goes unnoticed, working behind the scenes to provide lab members with good quality water, rarely receiving a great deal of attention. However, considering that high quality water is an essential component of multiple lab applications—from autoclave feeds and buffer preparation to molecular biology and cell culture work—it is perhaps the very thing that should be carefully considered by all lab members. Knowing that water impurities can drastically impact sensitive techniques such as chromatography and spectrometry, as well as disrupt the multitude of enzymatic reactions relied upon in molecular biology, a lack of attention to this topic can quickly lead to poor data.
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientist Robert Gourdie developed a wound-healing peptide while researching how electrical signals trigger heartbeats. He never imagined that the peptide, ACT1, would prove to heal venous leg ulcers twice as quickly as the current standard of care.
The results of this phase 2, multicenter, randomized clinical trial, conducted by FirstString Research Inc., were recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
An experiment at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has revealed a well-organized 3-D grid of quantum “tornadoes” inside microscopic droplets of super-cooled liquid helium. This is the first time this formation has been seen at such a tiny scale.
The findings by an international research team provide new insight on the strange nanoscale traits of a so-called “superfluid” state of liquid helium. When chilled to extremes, liquid helium behaves according to the rules of quantum mechanics that apply to matter at the smallest scales and defy the laws of classical physics. This superfluid state is one of just a few examples of quantum behavior on a large scale that makes the behavior easier to see and study.
Society’s energy supply problems could be solved in the future using a model adopted from nature. During photosynthesis, plants, algae and some species of bacteria produce sugars and other energy-rich substances (i.e. fuels) using solar energy. A team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion is currently developing experimental methods to ascertain how this process occur in nature.
The scientists are investigating a particularly important cofactor involved in photosysthesis, a manganese-calcium complex, which uses solar energy to split water into molecular oxygen. They have determined the exact structure of this complex at a crucial stage in this chemical reaction. This has led to a detailed suggestion as to how molecular oxygen, O2, is formed at this metal complex. Through these new insights into photosynthesis, the scientists have provided a blueprint for synthetic systems that could store sunlight energy in chemical energy carriers.
In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.
Now, scientists at Stanford Univ. have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis. The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.
Sunlight Controls Fate of Permafrost’s Released Carbon
Just how much Arctic permafrost will thaw in the future and how fast heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be released from those warming soils is a topic of lively debate among climate scientists.
To answer those questions, scientists need to understand the mechanisms that control the conversion of organic soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas. Until now, researchers believed that bacteria were largely responsible.
In the near future, the package that you ordered online may be deposited at your doorstep by a drone: Last December, online retailer Amazon announced plans to explore drone-based delivery, suggesting that fleets of flying robots might serve as autonomous messengers that shuttle packages to customers within 30 minutes of an order.
To ensure safe, timely, and accurate delivery, drones would need to deal with a degree of uncertainty in responding to factors such as high winds, sensor measurement errors, or drops in fuel. But such “what-if” planning typically requires massive computation, which can be difficult to perform on the fly.
New research suggests a one-two punch could help battle polio in some of the world’s most remote and strife-torn regions. Giving a single vaccine shot to children who’ve already swallowed drops of an oral polio vaccine greatly boosted their immunity.
The World Health Organization officials said the combination strategy already is starting to be used in mass vaccination campaigns in some hard-hit areas and is being introduced for routine immunizations in developing countries, too.
A team of researchers at Louisiana Tech Univ. has developed an innovative method for using affordable, consumer-grade 3-D printers and materials to fabricate custom medical implants that can contain antibacterial and chemotherapeutic compounds for targeted drug delivery.
The team comprised of doctoral students and research faculty from Louisiana Tech’s biomedical engineering and nanosystems engineering programs collaborated to create filament extruders that can make medical-quality 3-D printing filaments. Creating these filaments, which have specialized properties for drug delivery, is a new concept that can result in smart drug delivering medical implants or catheters.
Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is because of a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia Univ. Medical Center (CUMC). Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions. The study was published in Neuron.
A drug that restores normal synaptic pruning can improve autistic-like behaviors in mice, the researchers found, even when the drug is given after the behaviors have appeared.