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Fish

Search for secret to everlasting life may be found in 'immortal' jellyfish


For many beach-goers, jellyfish are a nuisance that blights the seashore. But some scientists believe they could hold the key to immortality.
For centuries, man has been on a quest to find the elixir to eternal life. Alchemists struggled fruitlessly to create the legendary philosopher's stone, a mythical substance capable of turning base metals into precious gold and said to hold the key to immortality.

But perhaps they were going about it the wrong way. Instead of searching for answers on land, maybe they should have been looking to the sea.

In the seaside town of Shirahama, in Japan, one man thinks he knows what holds the key to everlasting life: jellyfish.
Moon

The Moon smells: Apollo astronauts describe the odoriferous nature of lunar dirt

© NASA
Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin kicks up moon dust during a moonwalk on NASA"s historic first manned lunar landing mission in July 1969.
The moon has a distinctive smell. Ask any Apollo moonwalker about the odoriferous nature of the lunar dirt and you'll get the same answer.

With NASA's six Apollo lunar landing missions between 1969 and the end of 1972, a total of 12 astronauts kicked up the powdery dirt of the moon, becoming an elite group later to be tagged as the "dusty dozen."

From the modest 2.5 hour "moonwalk" of Apollo 11 to the forays totaling just over 22 hours outside a spacecraft on Apollo 17, NASA's Apollo landing crews could not escape tracking lunar material inside their moon lander homes.

Decades later, moonwalkers and lunar scientists are still trying to appreciate exactly what the moon's aroma brings to the astronaut's nose.

That fresh lunar regolith smell

"All I can say is that everyone's instant impression of the smell was that of spent gunpowder, not that it was 'metallic' or 'acrid'. Spent gunpowder smell probably was much more implanted in our memories than other comparable odors," said Apollo 17's Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, a scientist-astronaut who walked the moon's surface in December of 1972.
Fireball 2

If half of all species go extinct, will humans be next?

© Unknown
How many animal species do you think go extinct every year? Last week I conducted a highly unscientific polling of around 20 of my Facebook and Google Chat contacts, asking that same question. I'm not trying to brag, but I have some really smart friends, many of them with degrees in biology. Typical answers ranged from about 17 to a seemingly ludicrous 400. They were all wrong though - off by orders of magnitude*. In July, a summary article of nearly 80 papers, published in Science, stated that, "Of a conservatively estimated 5 million to 9 million animal species on the planet, we are likely losing ~11,000 to 58,000 species annually."

If that finding is true, then every year, between .12% and 1.16% of all the animals on Earth vanish. Rodolfo Dirzo, the lead researcher on the Science study from Stanford University, points out that we've already lost 40% of the Earth's invertebrate species in the last 40 to 50 years. Almost half the animals without skeletons have gone extinct within half a human lifetime. The wide range of these estimates reflects our own uncertainty on this subject, but even our low-end assessments are alarming.

Bugs and worms are gross, though; who cares if there are fewer spiders in my house now than in the arachnid-infested '60s? Unfortunately the future looks just as bleak for mammals. Dirzo says that if current trends hold, "in 200 years, 50% of the [mammal] species are going to be driven to the very edge of extinction."

Comment: It won't be so easy to ignore. Cyclic cometary bombardments have wiped out this planet before:

Forget About Global Warming: We're One Step From Extinction!

Fireballs reported since June 1, 2014:



Sun

'Soul of the sun' revealed - deep neutrinos detected for the first time

solar neutrinos detected
© borex.lngs.infn.it
Scientists have for the first time detected the solar neutrino particles forged in the sun's heart that are eventually emitted into the galaxy as light.

More than 100 international scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst worked together using the Borexino detector in Italy to make the discovery, which provides humans with a peak into the process of nuclear fusion that is responsible for bathing the Earth with light. The findings were first reported in the latest issue of the Nature journal.

Although it only takes eight minutes for light from the sun to hit Earth, there is a substantially longer process that takes place before that can happen. After the solar neutrinos are formed in the sun's core, another 100,000 years must pass before they make their way to the star's surface and shoot out at the speed of light.

"The first step in the dominant fusion process in the sun starts when two protons in its core fuse into a deuteron, creating a [proton-proton] neutrino," wrote Nola Redd at Space.com. "Other neutrinos are created in subsequent steps of the process, several of which have been detected, but the first-step neutrinos remained elusive."

Now that these neutrinos have been detected, though, scientists are hoping to learn even more about the sun's energy-forming processes.
"[The neutrinos] are the most direct confirmation that nuclear fusion is the source of energy [for the sun]," said Wick Haxton of University of California, Berkeley, to the website.


Comment: Hopefully this research will shed more light on the sun's role in climate change.

Recycle

Rainforest fungus capable of eating plastic pollution

© pmf.sc.gov.br
One of the biggest problems facing the earth, plastic pollution, could soon meet its match if students at Yale University are able to breed a recently discovered plastic-eating fungus on a large scale.

Plastic pollution, exemplified by the giant floating island of trash the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean, is highly detrimental to the world's ecosystem because it breaks down extremely slow. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, plastic doesn't actually biodegrade:
"Plastics do not biodegrade, although, under the influence of solar UV radiations, plastics do degrade and fragment into small particles, termed microplastics."
This presents humans with a challenge that must soon be met, considering much of our plastic trash ends up in the ocean where it breaks down into toxic microplastics, winding up in sea life. Not only is this dangerous to the sea life, but it's also dangerous to people because we end up consuming these very fish which we are poisoning with our trash.
Telephone

How nerve cells communicate with each other over long distances: Travelling by resonance

© Gunnar Grah/BrainLinks-BrainTools
Resonance in the activity of nerve cells (left) allows activity within the brain to travel over large distances, e.g. from the back of the head to the front during the processing of visual stimuli.
How nerve cells within the brain communicate with each other over long distances has puzzled scientists for decades. The way networks of neurons connect and how individual cells react to incoming pulses in principle makes communication over large distances impossible. Scientists from Germany and France provide now a possible answer how the brain can function nonetheless: by exploiting the powers of resonance.

As Gerald Hahn, Alejandro F. Bujan and colleagues describe in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, the ability of networks of neurons to resonate can amplify oscillations in the activity of nerve cells, allowing signals to travel much farther than in the absence of resonance. The team from the cluster of excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools and the Bernstein Center at the University of Freiburg and the UNIC department of the French Centre national de la recherche scientifique in Gif-sur-Yvette created a computer model of networks of nerve cells and analyzed its properties for signal propagation.
Info

"Spooky" quantum entanglement reveals invisible objects

Cat outline etchings
© Gabriela Barreto Lemos
These cat outline etchings are normally invisible to the wavelength of light that made the pictures.
Like twins separated at birth who are later reunited, two laser beams revealed invisible objects in a display of their weird quantum connection, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The images, of tiny cats and a trident, are an advance for quantum optics, an emerging physics discipline built on surprising interactions among subatomic particles that Einstein famously called "spooky."

A conventional camera captures light that bounces back from an object. But in the experiment reported in the journal Nature, light particles, or photons, that never strike an object are the ones that produce its picture.

"Even other physicists say 'you can't do that' at first, but that is quantum behavior for you, very strange," says Gabriela Barreto Lemos of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna, Austria, who led the study.

A 2009 University of Glasgow experiment with a divided laser beam first demonstrated such "ghost imaging." But experts say the new technique, which uses two laser beams of different colors, offers new visualization advantages.

The two laser beams are "entangled" in quantum physics terms, meaning their photons share characteristics even when far apart. So broadly speaking, altering one alters the other.

"What they've done is a very clever trick. In some ways it is magical," says quantum optics expert Paul Lett of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, who was not part of the experiment team. "There is not new physics here, though, but a neat demonstration of physics."
Info

No descendants are left from the first Eskimos

Qajaa
© Claus Andreasen
This photos shows Qajaa, a grass-covered deep-frozen midden in West Greenland with remains from Early Paleo-Eskimo cultures.
Ancient human DNA is shedding light on the peopling of the Arctic region of the Americas, revealing that the first people there did not leave any genetic descendants in the New World, unlike previously thought.

The study's researchers suggest the first group of people in the New World Arctic may have lived in near-isolation for more than 4,000 years because of a mindset that eschewed adopting new ideas. It remains a mystery why they ultimately died off, they added.

The first people in the Arctic of the Americas may have arrived about 6,000 years ago, crossing the Bering Strait from Siberia. The area was the last region of the New World that humans populated due to its harsh and frigid nature.

But the details of how the New World Arctic was peopled remain a mystery because the region's vast size and remoteness make it difficult to conduct research there. For example, it was unclear whether the Inuit people living there today and the cultures that preceded them were genetically the same people, or independent groups.

The scientists analyzed DNA from bone, teeth and hair samples collected from the remains of 169 ancient humans from Arctic Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. They also sequenced the complete genomes of seven modern-day people from the region for comparison.

Previous research suggested people in the New World Arctic could be divided into two distinct groups - the Paleo-Eskimos, who showed up first, and the Neo-Eskimos, who got there nearly 4,000 years later.
Bomb

Kaboom! Experimental US hypersonic weapon explodes four seconds after test launch in Alaska

© Unknown
The test was aborted by the Pentagon to 'ensure public safety'
An experimental hypersonic weapon developed to reach targets anywhere in the world within an hour has been destroyed by the US military four seconds after its launch for "public safety". The test in Alaska in the early hours of Monday morning was aborted after controllers detected a problem with the system, the Pentagon said, and the launcher is believed to have detonated before the missile was deployed.

Witnesses watched the rocket lift off at around 12.30am local time, before quickly turning nose-down and exploding, KMXT radio reported. Scott Wight, who photographed the explosion from Cape Greville in Chiniak, about 12 miles from the launch site, described the explosion as quite loud and frightening, with a fire afterwards that burned brightly.

The weapon travels at several times the speed of sound and can reach speeds in excess of 3,500 miles-an-hour, or Mach 5. It is part of a programme aiming to create a missile able to hit anywhere on Earth within an hour of getting data and the permission to launch.

Comment: US tax dollars hard at work finding new and innovative ways to kill people.

Blue Planet

Pacific 'ring of fire' tectonic plate changing: Calculations challenge assumptions about rigid lithosphere

© Credit: Corné Kreemer and Richard Gordon
A map produced by scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Rice University shows predicted velocities for sectors of the Pacific tectonic plate relative to points near the Pacific-Antarctic ridge, which lies in the South Pacific ocean. The researchers show the Pacific plate is contracting as younger sections of the lithosphere cool.
The tectonic plate that dominates the Pacific "Ring of Fire" is not as rigid as many scientists assume, according to researchers at Rice University and the University of Nevada.

Rice geophysicist Richard Gordon and his colleague, Corné Kreemer, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, have determined that cooling of the lithosphere - the outermost layer of Earth - makes some sections of the Pacific plate contract horizontally at faster rates than others and cause the plate to deform.

Gordon said the effect detailed this month in Geology is most pronounced in the youngest parts of the lithosphere - about 2 million years old or less - that make up some the Pacific Ocean's floor. They predict the rate of contraction to be 10 times faster than older parts of the plate that were created about 20 million years ago and 80 times faster than very old parts of the plate that were created about 160 million years ago.

The tectonic plates that cover Earth's surface, including both land and seafloor, are in constant motion; they imperceptibly surf the viscous mantle below. Over time, the plates scrape against and collide into each other, forming mountains, trenches and other geological features.

On the local scale, these movements cover only inches per year and are hard to see. The same goes for deformations of the type described in the new paper, but when summed over an area the size of the Pacific plate, they become statistically significant, Gordon said.

The new calculations showed the Pacific plate is pulling away from the North American plate a little more - approximately 2 millimeters a year - than the rigid-plate theory would account for, he said. Overall, the plate is moving northwest about 50 millimeters a year.

"The central assumption in plate tectonics is that the plates are rigid, but the studies that my colleagues and I have been doing for the past few decades show that this central assumption is merely an approximation - that is, the plates are not rigid," Gordon said. "Our latest contribution is to specify or predict the nature and rate of deformation over the entire Pacific plate."

© Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
Rice University geophysicist Richard Gordon led a study that determined the Pacific tectonic plate is not as rigid as scientists have assumed.

Comment: There are other important factors to consider when studying tectonic plate movements, to increase our understanding of the subsequent seismic and volcanic activity, and also the formation of sinkholes (all of which are increasing at an alarming rate!), such as:

1. The slowdown of the Earth's rotation - causing mechanical stress on the crust.
2. Crustal slippage - the difference in rotation between the crust and mantle.
3. Reduction of the surface/core electric field.
4. Electromagnetism.

These factors, the Electric Universe theory, and much more are fully explained in Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection.

It is looking increasingly likely that electrical discharges may be causing recent strange phenomena, such as these glowing lights over the 'ring of fire' perhaps caused by the ignition of leaking methane which may also be contributing to the discovery of thousands of dead fish which is becoming more common and unusual whale behaviour. 'Signs of the times' indeed!

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