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Bad Guys

Scientist fired for daring to report soft tissue found on dinosaur fossil

© ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
A Triceratops greets visitors at the 14,000 square foot Dinosaur Hall permanent exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
Attorneys for a California State University, Northridge scientist who was terminated from his job after discovering soft tissue on a triceratops fossil have filed a lawsuit against the university.

While at the Hell Creek Formation excavation site in Montana, researcher Mark Armitage discovered what he believed to be the largest triceratops horn ever unearthed at the site, according to attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute.

Upon examination of the horn under a high-powered microscope back at CSUN, Dacus says Armitage was "fascinated" to find soft tissue on the sample - a discovery Bacus said stunned members of the school's biology department and even some students "because it indicates that dinosaurs roamed the earth only thousands of years in the past rather than going extinct 60 million years ago."
Question

Welcome to quantum wonderland: Neutron 'Cheshire cats' created

© Credit: © Disney
The Cheshire Cat in "Alice in Wonderland" had a smile that could disconnect from its body.
The Cheshire Cat of the classic children's book "Alice in Wonderland" had a smile that could disconnect from its body. And now, in the spirit of Lewis Carroll, scientists have created quantum Cheshire Cats in the form of neutrons separated from their magnetism.

This new finding suggests that future experiments could split other properties of particles from each other, such as their charge and mass, helping to solve mysteries regarding the fundamental bits of matter that make up the universe.

In the strange wonderland of quantum physics, the particles that make up everything can behave in bizarre ways. For instance, a particle can apparently exist in two or more places at once or spin two opposite directions at the same time, a property known as superposition. [The 9 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]
Network

Hypocrite Google wants it's privacy! Media outlets fighting to keep lawsuit documents in public domain

google
© inconnu
Back in May, Google settled a giant class action suit over its mining of Gmail user data. Now it faces another fight: Major media outlets fighting to convince the judge to keep public the documents generated during the case.

Google's attorneys argue that there is no reason to make the documents public, given that the court refused to certify the class and the case didn't proceed. Meanwhile representatives for a ragtag band of media companies - referred to in court docs as "The Media Intervenors," which is a great name for a band - argue that the public has a right to know details of the case: "Under the First Amendment and the federal common law, the press and the public have a presumptive right of access to court proceedings and documents."

In a case management conference scheduled for tomorrow, Judge Lucy Koh (who Pando readers will remember as the judge presiding over the Techtopus wage fixing suit) will decided whether to seal the documents.
Beaker

FBI too quick to condemn: Decades old botched forensic lab evidence may affect thousands of convictions

forensic lab
© Reuters / Mike Brown
Nearly every criminal case the FBI and US Justice Department has reviewed during a major investigation that began in 2012 regarding an FBI lab unit has involved flawed forensic testimony, The Washington Post reported.

The review - originally spurred by a Post report in 2012 over flawed forensic testimony by Federal Bureau of Investigation lab technicians that may have led to convictions of hundreds of innocent people - was cut short last August when its findings "troubled the bureau," according to the Post. The review was ordered by the Justice Department (DOJ) to resume this month, government officials said.

Most of the defendants in cases that involved possibly-botched testimony over microscopic hair matches were never told that their case was part of the review, which includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s. In these cases, the FBI's hair and fiber unit claimed it found a match to crime-scene samples prior to the age of DNA testing of hair.

The FBI reviewed around 160 cases before halting the investigation 11 months ago, officials said. The probe resumed once the DOJ inspector general lambasted the FBI for the delay in this investigation and another involving the same forensic unit.
Music

Earworms: Why songs get stuck in your head

music
© unknown
Whether yours is "Call Me Maybe," "Who Let the Dogs Out," "Mickey," or something equally infectious, at one time or another, you've probably had a fragment from a catchy (or obnoxious) tune stuck in your head.

Where Do Sticky Songs Come From?

Due to the involuntary nature of songs getting stuck in people's heads, it is notoriously difficult to study. As such, the exact mechanism in the brain that causes this phenomenon isn't yet fully understood. At a higher level, some scientists see humanity's ancient practice of passing down knowledge through song as a possible source for this tendency.
Saturn

Scientists discover 101 geysers erupting at Saturn's intriguing icy moon Enceladus

Enceladus’ geyser basin
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
This dramatic view looks across the region of Enceladus’ geyser basin and down on the ends of the Baghdad and Damascus fractures that face Saturn. The image, which looks approximately in the direction of Saturn, was taken from a more elevated viewpoint than other Cassini survey images of this area of the moon’s south pole.
Scientists analyzing the reams of data from NASA's Cassini orbiter at Saturn have discovered 101 geysers erupting from the intriguing icy moon Enceladus and that the spewing material of liquid water likely originates from an underground sea located beneath the tiny moons ice shell, according to newly published research.

The geysers are composed of tiny icy particles, water vapor and trace amounts of simple organic molecules. They were first sighted in Cassini imagery snapped during flyby's of the 310-mile-wide (500 kilometers wide) moon back in 2005 and immediately thrust Enceladus forward as a potential abode for alien life beyond Earth and prime scientific inquisition.

Liquid water, organic molecules and an energy source are the key requirements for life as we know it.
Magnet

Physicists unlock the magnetic nature of high-temperature superconductivity

© Credit: Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services
This is UIC physicist Dirk Morr, who worked with researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory, says the findings were the result of 'the close collaboration of theory and experiment.'
Physicists have identified the "quantum glue" that underlies a promising type of superconductivity -- a crucial step towards the creation of energy superhighways that conduct electricity without current loss.

The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a collaboration between theoretical physicists led by Dirk Morr, professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and experimentalists led by Seamus J.C. Davis of Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The earliest superconducting materials required operating temperatures near absolute zero, or −459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. Newer unconventional or "high-temperature" superconductors function at slightly elevated temperatures and seemed to work differently from the first materials. Scientists hoped this difference hinted at the possibility of superconductors that could work at room temperature and be used to create energy superhighways.

Comment: For information on the Electric Universe model and much more related phenomena, read Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new book.

Magnify

Corruption of science: Breakthrough research that turns out to be fraudulent

stem cells

One case involving stem cells occurred in the past year with Haruko Obokata, a young cell biologist at the Riken research institute in Japan
It is in the nature of scientists to argue over the evidence for or against any important breakthrough. Sometimes announcements made in good faith do not stand up to detailed scrutiny, namely the replication of the research by other experts.

On other occasions, scientists can be duped by the misconduct of their own colleagues prepared to cherry-pick favourable data to suit their conclusions, or, even worse, to fabricate data and commit outright scientific fraud - the most heinous crime in science.

One of the best examples of fraudulent research in recent years was the work on the cloning of human embryos by the South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-Suk of Seoul National University who announced in two scientific studies published in 2004 and 2005 that he had isolated human embryonic stem cells.

It turned out that he had faked many of the results and that he had engaged in dubious ethical practices in obtaining the human eggs needed for the research. He was eventually charged and found guilty of embezzlement and bioethical violations.

Comment: Unfortunately these cases are becoming all too common:

The Corruption of Science: Pressure for positive results puts science under threat, study shows
Corrupt Science: Cancer Research of 10 Years Useless: Fraudulent Studies, Says Mayo Clinic
Research Integrity? What a Joke! A New Code of Conduct for Researchers
Psychopaths in Academia: Report finds massive research fraud at Dutch universities
Netherlands: Tilburg Professor Faked Data in at Least 30 Academic Publications
FDA secretly retests 100 drugs after testing company admits work was all fraudulent

Magnify

Revealed: First glimpse of Higgs Bosons at work

© Credit: sakkmesterke/Shutterstock.com
An extremely rare collision of massive subatomic particles could reveal the nuts and bolts of how the subatomic particles called Higgs bosons impart mass to other particles.

The Higgs boson particle, which was detected for the first time in 2012, is essentially tossed around like a ball between two force-carrying particles known as W-bosons when they scatter, or bounce off of one another, a new data analysis revealed.

The data comes from the ATLAS experiment, the same proton-collision experiment that revealed the Higgs boson, at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mille-long (27 kilometers) underground atom smasher on the border of Switzerland and France.

By studying how much the Higgs sticks to the W-bosons during this scattering process, the team could learn new details about how strongly the elusive Higgs bosoninteracts with the field that gives all particles their mass.

"We are basically observing the Higgs boson at work to see whether it does its job the way we expect it to," said study co-author Marc-André Pleier, a physicist with the ATLAS project, and a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. [Beyond Higgs: 5 Elusive Particles That May Lurk in the Universe]
Beaker

Genetic fragments of MERS virus detected in air in camel barn

© Globalbiodefense.com
Genetic fragments of the deadly MERS virus were detected in the air of a barn where an infected camel was kept, a new study says.

The findings show the need for further studies to determine if Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) can be transmitted through the air, the researchers said.

Researchers collected air samples over three consecutive days from a camel barn owned by a 43-year-old male MERS patient who lived south of the town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The man later died. One of the camels in the barn was later confirmed to have MERS.

The air samples contained genetic fragments of MERS that were identical to those detected in the infected camel and its owner, according to the study in the July 22 issue of the journal mBio.

The findings show the need for "further investigations and measures to prevent possible airborne transmission of this deadly virus," lead author Esam Azhar, said in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology. Azhar is the head of the Special Infectious Agents Unit at King Fahd Medical Research Center and associate professor of medical virology at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, according to the news release.
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