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Grandma was right! Arthritic joints can detect changes in weather

bones
© Getty Images
Wrists are a common place people claim to feel pain related to weather changes.
When I was younger, my grandma would occasionally issue solemn prophesies for rain. These declarations would come after she'd spent a few minutes rubbing her arthritic wrists. With a pensive gaze, she'd credit the prediction to her aching joints.

I was reminded of this yesterday. I'd been working on my laptop when my ankle, titanium-braced from an old break, started throbbing. I thought nothing of it until I stepped outside, and into a surprise rainstorm. I'd always been skeptical of grandma's arthritic omens, but limping down the sidewalk in the wake of my own revelation gave me reason to reconsider. Could science have an answer for why some people seem to feel the weather in their bones?
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Study finds brain abnormalities in chronic fatigue patients

© Radiological Society of North America
This reconstructed MR image shows the right arcuate (blue tracks and arrows) and ILFs (yellow tracks and arrows) in a single representative subject. These two tracks are overlaid on their respective track profiles. The track profile is colored according to the T score of track-based FA, showing that the maximal increase in FA is in the anterior arcuate and ILFs. The red, blue, and green spheres correspond to size and locations of increased cortical thickness from Figure 1 in the right occipital, precentral, and middle temporal regions, respectively. The green arrows also point to the middle temporal region of increased thickness.
An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators has found distinct differences between the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and those of healthy people.

The findings could lead to more definitive diagnoses of the syndrome and may also point to an underlying mechanism in the disease process.

It's not uncommon for CFS patients to face several mischaracterizations of their condition, or even suspicions of hypochondria, before receiving a diagnosis of CFS. The abnormalities identified in the study, to be published Oct. 29 in Radiology, may help to resolve those ambiguities, said lead author Michael Zeineh, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiology.

"Using a trio of sophisticated imaging methodologies, we found that CFS patients' brains diverge from those of healthy subjects in at least three distinct ways," Zeineh said.

CFS affects between 1 million and 4 million individuals in the United States and millions more worldwide. Coming up with a more precise number of cases is tough because it's difficult to actually diagnose the disease. While all CFS patients share a common symptom - crushing, unremitting fatigue that persists for six months or longer - the additional symptoms can vary from one patient to the next, and they often overlap with those of other conditions.
Light Saber

Scientists engineer toxin-secreting stem cells to treat brain tumors

© Credit: Khalid Shah, MS, PhD, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Encapsulated toxin-producing stem cells (blue) help kill brain tumor cells in the tumor resection cavity (green).
Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to use stem cells in the fight against brain cancer. A team led by neuroscientist Khalid Shah, MS, PhD, who recently demonstrated the value of stem cells loaded with cancer-killing herpes viruses, now has a way to genetically engineer stem cells so that they can produce and secrete tumor-killing toxins.

In the AlphaMed Press journal Stem Cells, Shah's team shows how the toxin-secreting stem cells can be used to eradicate cancer cells remaining in mouse brains after their main tumor has been removed. The stem cells are placed at the site encapsulated in a biodegradable gel. This method solves the delivery issue that probably led to the failure of recent clinical trials aimed at delivering purified cancer-killing toxins into patients' brains. Shah and his team are currently pursuing FDA approval to bring this and other stem cell approaches developed by them to clinical trials.

"Cancer-killing toxins have been used with great success in a variety of blood cancers, but they don't work as well in solid tumors because the cancers aren't as accessible and the toxins have a short half-life," said Shah, who directs the Molecular Neurotherapy and Imaging Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Arrow Down

Google wants to flood your body with tiny magnets to search for disease

Nano Particles
© The Verge
Google's ambition to cure death is beginning to take shape in a new product from its Google X division. Andrew Conrad, the head of the company's life sciences division, today announced the details of an effort that would use nanotechnology to identify signs of disease.

The project would employ tiny magnetic nanoparticles, said to be one-thousandth the width of a red blood cell, to bind themselves to various molecules and identify them as trouble spots.

Google's nanotechnology project, which would also involve a wearable magnetic device that tracks the particles, is said to be at least five years off, according to an accompanying report in the Wall Street Journal.

The company is still figuring out how many nanoparticles are necessary to identify markers of disease, and scientists will have to develop coatings for the particles that will let them bind to targeted cells. One idea is to deliver the nanoparticles via a pill that you would swallow.
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Mongolian dinosaur with spiky helmet shows Gobi Desert was hotspot for ankylosaur diversity

© Danielle Dufault
Life restoration of Zaraapelta nomadis
The Gobi Desert of Late Cretaceous Mongolia was the place to be if you were one of the armoured dinosaurs called ankylosaurs. Besides the badlands of southern Alberta, the Gobi Desert has the highest number of ankylosaur species that lived together at the same time - and now a new family member has just been identified.

The new species, Zaraapelta nomadis, was discovered in 2000 by a team led by Phil Currie, and is named today in a paper by Victoria Arbour, Demchig Badamgarav and Philip Currie published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. The name Zaraapelta is a combination of the Mongolian and Greek works for "hedgehog" and "shield" in reference to its spiky appearance, and nomadis in honour of the Mongolian company Nomadic Expeditions, which has facilitated paleontological fieldwork in the Gobi Desert for almost two decades.

Zaraapelta is known from a well-preserved skull that is missing the front of the snout. Like some of the other ankylosaurs from the Gobi Desert, the top of its skull was bumpy and spiky. Zaraapelta is even more ostentatious than the other Mongolian ankylosaurs, with an elaborate pattern of bumps and grooves behind the eye. At the back of its skull there are distinctive horns with a prominent ridge along the top. The skull is part of the collections of the Mongolian Paleontological Center in Ulaanbaatar.
Laptop

DNA can carry current, a promising step toward molecular electronics

DNA
© Thinkstock
DNA could work as molecular circuit boards for extremely small, nano-sized electronics.
The promise of molecular electronics gets hoisted up the flagpole periodically, but now an international team of researchers based out of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem claim to have made a breakthrough with DNA molecules that they believe may be the most significant development in the last decade of molecular electronics research.

In research published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a international group of researchers hailing from Cyprus, Denmark, Italy, Spain and the United States has demonstrated that electric current can be transmitted through long DNA molecules. They believe that this demonstration could lead to the development of DNA-based electronic circuits.

Much research has focused on making DNA circuits. For instance, scientists have explored schemes in which DNA would serve as a kind of circuit board or scaffold for precisely assembling electronic components at resolutions as small as 6 nanometers. But so far it's all been without much success.

DNA was thought to be a promising basis for molecular circuits, because of its ability to self-assemble into various structures. But a big stumbling block has been that no one has been able to measure reliably or quantitatively the flow of current through the molecule.
Map

Citizen science network produces accurate maps of atmospheric dust particles

iSPEX map

iSPEX map compiled from all iSPEX measurements performed in the Netherlands on July 8, 2013, between 14:00 and 21:00. Each blue dot represents one of the 6007 measurements that were submitted on that day. At each location on the map, the 50 nearest iSPEX measurements were averaged and converted to Aerosol Optical Thickness, a measure for the total amount of atmospheric particles. This map can be compared to the AOT data from the MODIS Aqua satellite, which flew over the Netherlands at 16:12 local time. The relatively high AOT values were caused by smoke clouds from forest fires in North America, which were blown over the Netherlands at an altitude of 2-4 km. In the course of the day, winds from the North brought clearer air to the northern provinces.
Measurements by thousands of citizen scientists in the Netherlands using their smartphones and the iSPEX add-on are delivering accurate data on dust particles in the atmosphere that add valuable information to professional measurements. The iSPEX team, led by Frans Snik of Leiden University, analyzed all measurements from three days in 2013 and combined them into unique maps of dust particles above the Netherlands. The results match and sometimes even exceed those of ground-based measurement networks and satellite instruments.

The iSPEX maps achieve a spatial resolution as small as 2 kilometers whereas satellite data are much courser. They also fill in blind spots of established ground-based atmospheric measurement networks. The scientific article that presents these first results of the iSPEX project is being published today in Geophysical Research Letters.

The iSPEX team developed a new atmospheric measurement method in the form of a low-cost add-on for smartphone cameras. The iSPEX app instructs participants to scan the blue sky while the phone's built-in camera takes pictures through the add-on. The photos record both the spectrum and the linear polarization of the sunlight that is scattered by suspended dust particles, and thus contain information about the properties of these particles. While such properties are difficult to measure, much better knowledge on atmospheric particles is needed to understand their effects on health, climate and air traffic.
Black Cat 2

Spontaneous gravity-related wave function collapse can suppress acoustic Schrodinger 'cat states'

Schrödinger's cat
© Credit: Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0
Schrödinger's cat: a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.
Schrödinger's famous thought experiment in which a cat hidden in a box can be both dead and alive at the same time demonstrates the concept of superposition on the macroscopic scale. However, the existence of such "cat states" (or simply "Cats") would be problematic in reality, as cat states not only go against common sense, but also pose problems for understanding gravity and space-time.

"Different people emphasize different concerns about Cats," Lajos Diósi, a physicist the Wigner Research Center for Physics in Budapest, Hungary, told Phys.org. "Some people emphasize different ones at different times. So, allow me to pick up two arguments. Penrose (in my words): A Cat implies superposition of macroscopically different space-times, making physical time elusive. Myself: If we measure a Cat state a la von Neumann (why not?), then the collapse will macroscopically violate many conservation laws."

To address such problems, Diósi has expanded upon a model in which gravity-related spontaneous wave function collapses can suppress Schrödinger cat states, forcing them to take on only one value. Diósi's paper on suppressing cat states is published in a recent issue of the New Journal of Physics.
Bug

Watch your email attachments: Microsoft office bug lets hackers take over computers

Microsoft
© AFP Photo/Sam Yeh
A dangerous new security vulnerability has been discovered in Microsoft's Office software, threatening to hijack users of virtually every existing version of Windows.

The bug in question affects programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel - and could allow an intruder to gain access to and control over a user's entire computer.

Already, Microsoft has discovered that hackers are using the bug to hack computers through PowerPoint. Windows users should be wary of opening PowerPoint files sent via email unless they completely trust the original source, the company wrote in an online security advisory. Even in cases involving trusted sources, it has advised to not open the files received unexpectedly.
Robot

Real life Transformer introduced at Tokyo expo

The J-deite Quarter
© Screen Capture
If you are a Transformer fan who dreams of someday owning your own transforming robot, Project J-deite will soon make your dream a reality.

The project, which is a collaborative effort between Japan's Brave Robotics, Asratec and Takara Tommy, is the brain child of Kenji Ishida, founder of Brave Robotics.

Ishida's passion for robotics began at the age of 14 and by the time he was 21, he had built his first bi-pedal walking robot. Now, he and his team have developed the J-deite Quarter, a humanoid bi-pedal robot made out of 3D-printed parts.

Introduced last week at the Digital Content Expo in Tokyo, attendees and the media got a glimpse of what J-deite Quarter can do.

The transforming robot stands 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) tall and can walk at a rate of 1 kilometer per hour (0.62 mph). Geek.com reports it takes J-deite Quarter approximately 30 seconds to transform from a walking robot to car mode. Once in car mode, it can travel up to ten kilometers per hour (6.2 mph).
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