Science & Technology

Cloud Precipitation

Magic mushrooms? Scientist find that fungi can make it rain

It can be thoroughly refreshing to step out of the busy "A to B" lifestyle and simply admire the world around us. Nature operates like a complex map of biodiversity and natural laws — so complex, in fact, that after thousands of years mankind is still struggling to understand how it all works. But this great mystery and the insatiable human desire for understanding makes new findings in the natural world all the more joyous.

Mushrooms are often associated with two things: psychedelic experiences and pizza toppings. However, Plos One published a study last week implying that mushrooms may have a direct link to rainfall.


Study from Boston University finds brain has internal 'odometer' and 'stopwatch'

© Nature/Reuters
The brain has its own 'odometer' and 'stopwatch' neurons, a new research by Boston University scientists says. These findings could help battle mental and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease.

The study involves rats running on treadmill, and focuses on specific neurons called grid cells which support navigation in time and space, even without visual landmarks and the optic flow.

Until now, there was no direct evidence demonstrating that the grid cells help the brain determine the distance and time passed.

To prove the contrary, researchers put rats on treadmills and recorded the activity of grid cells, keeping either distance or duration of running unchanged, and only varying the speed.

As a result, 92% of grid cells in rats emitted signals at specific moments: for instance, one cell would fire 8 seconds into the run, not taking into account speed or distance covered, and another cell would emit a signal every 400 cm, not depending on speed or duration of the run.

50 percent of the cells were affected by distance, another half by time, and around 40 percent by both factors.


NASA announces new key findings on Mars' lack of atmosphere

© NASA Goddard / YouTube
In the latest in a series of announcements about Mars, NASA delivered new findings on the Red Planet's atmosphere over a live stream on Thursday. The agency has said that Mars was once was warm and wet, but had its atmosphere stripped away by solar wind.

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft began orbiting Mars for the purpose of examining its atmosphere in unprecedented detail. At 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, NASA launched a live stream in which they revealed new findings from MAVEN and took questions from social media and by phone call.

The scientists revealed that solar winds created climate change at the red planet leading to "the erosion of Mars' atmosphere."

MAVEN has been orbiting Mars since 2014, and it was designed to understand the changes in climate, according to Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Principal Investigator.


Corruption of science: Nearly all scientific papers controlled by same six corporations

When children grow up dreaming of becoming scientists they have the purest of aspirations and if they were left to pursue their own studies they would be able to accomplish the unimaginable. Unfortunately, to become a member of the scientific community one has to jump through many bureaucratic hoops until they are eventually inducted into an establishment which is tightly regulated and directed by warmongers and control freak aristocrats.

People spend half of their lives taking classes, passing tests and filling out applications in hopes that one day they can become a scientist and cure a disease. After years of struggling to make the cut they realize that there is no funding for their charitable projects and if they dare step outside of the established guidelines they will be exiled from the scientific community.

Additionally, even when legitimate studies are done, they hardly ever reach the public or get taken seriously because most of the publishers that are considered "reputable" are controlled by just a few corporations that heavily censor the information that gets released.

A recent study conducted by Professor Vincent Lariviere from the University of Montreal's School of Library and Information Science, and a number of other researchers, found that nearly all major scientific papers are controlled by the same six corporations.

"Overall, the major publishers control more than half of the market of scientific papers both in the natural and medical sciences and in the social sciences and humanities. Furthermore, these large commercial publishers have huge sales, with profit margins of nearly 40%. While it is true that publishers have historically played a vital role in the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the print era, it is questionable whether they are still necessary in today's digital era," Lariviere said.

Comment: See also: The Corruption of Science in America


Scientists discover distant sunless planet with molten iron clouds

© MPIAV.Ch.Quetz/University of Edinburgh/PA
An artist's impression of PSO J318.5-22, a sunless wandering object 75 light years away from Earth
The technique used to discover the clouds could one day be used to predict the chances of life existing on distant Earth-like planets

Thick clouds made of droplets of molten iron have been discovered on a bizarre sunless planet 75 light years from Earth.

The planet-like object, which was discovered in 2013 and given the catchy name PSO J318.5-22, was already considered one of the stranger bodies in the sky because it does not appear to orbit around a star.

Now, after the latest discovery by astronomers from the University of Edinburgh, the strange planet has become even stranger.

Using a telescope in Chile, the astronomers discovered that the lonely world is covered in layers of cloud, which are made up of molten iron and super-hot dust.

Comment: For more on PSO J318.5-22 see: Lonely planet without a star discovered wandering our galaxy


How toxic are 3D printers?

Parts produced by some commercial 3D printers are toxic to certain fish embryos, researchers at the University of California, Riverside have found. Their results have raised questions about how to dispose of parts and waste materials from 3D printers.

Said William Grover, an assistant professor of bioengineering in the Bourns College of Engineering:
"These 3D printers are like tiny factories in a box. We regulate factories. We would never bring one into our home. Yet, we are starting to bring these 3D printers into our homes like they are toasters."


Atheism on the rise in U.S. as more believing Jesus Christ is a myth and never existed

Buddy Christ
The idea of organized religion is one that is certainly beginning to weaken in the United States, and it's happening for a number of reasons. Some are just not into the organization and don't have strong enough beliefs to keep up with the practice. Others are turning to atheism, as they're really starting to think that Jesus Christ never existed and is simply a myth.

According to the Pew Research Center, a new survey of more than 35,000 adults in America finds that there have been moderately declining numbers in recent years of those who say they believe in God, pray on a daily basis, or go to church regularly.


2 + 2 = 4

Delaying kindergarten enrollment dramatically reduces ADHD in children, studies show

© Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
Delaying kindergarten enrollment for one year shows significant mental health benefits for children, according to a recent study. Researchers found that a one-year delay in enrolling a child in kindergarten dramatically reduces inattention and hyperactivity at age seven.

Researchers found that children who were held back from kindergarten for as little as one year showed a 73 percent reduction in inattentiveness and hyperactivity compared to children sent the year earlier, according to this new study on kindergarten and mental health.

Comet 2

New Comet: C/2015 V2 (JOHNSON)

CBET nr. 4161, issued on 2015, November 05, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~17.1) by J. A. Johnson on CCD images obtained with the Catalina Sky Survey's 0.68-m Schmidt telescope on Nov. 3.5 UT. The new comet has been designated C/2015 V2 (JOHNSON).

I performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 12 unfiltered exposures, 120 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2015, November 04.4 from H06 (iTelescope network - New Mexico) through a 0.43-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer, shows that this object is a comet: compact coma nearly 10 arcsec in diameter elongated toward PA 230.

My confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)
© Remanzacco Observatory

Magic Wand

Antimatter not so different after all

© Brookhaven National Laboratory
Scientists working at Brookhaven National Laboratory, including physicists at Rice University, have announced the first measurements of the attractive force between antiprotons. The discovery gives physicists new ways to look at the forces that bind matter and antimatter.
Due to the diligence of a Rice University student and his calculations, humanity now knows a little more about the universe.

Kefeng Xin, a graduate student at Rice, is one of a handful of primary authors who revealed evidence this week that the attractive force between antiprotons is similar to that between protons -- and measured it.

Specifically, the team measured two important parameters: the scattering length and the effective range of interaction between two antiprotons. This gave scientists a fundamental new way to understand the force that holds together the nuclei in antimatter and how this compares to matter.

"This is about the subtle difference in the way matter and antimatter interact with each other," said Rice physicist Frank Geurts.