Science & Technology


Giant marine life found in Antarctica

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Scientists who conducted the most comprehensive survey to date of New Zealand's Antarctic waters were surprised by the size of some specimens found, including jellyfish with 12-foot tentacles and 2-foot-wide starfish.

A 2,000-mile journey through the Ross Sea that ended Thursday has also potentially turned up several new species, including as many as eight new mollusks.

Giant starfish
©(AP Photo/NZ IPY-CAML, John Mitchell)
In this undated photo supplied by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or NIWA, Benthic team members Sadie Mills, left, NIWA curatorial technician and Niki Davey, NIWA marine ecologist hold giant Macroptychaster sea star (starfish) measuring up to 60 cm across in Antarctic waters. Scientists found that some marine life doesn't come small in Antarctic waters, with giant-sized specimens surprising researchers during a survey of New Zealand's Antarctic seas that ended this week.

Money: It's More Than An Incentive According To University Of Minnesota Researcher

ScienceDaily (Nov. 17, 2006) - Why are some people more self-sufficient than others? Why are some people more willing to volunteer or help out than others? What makes some people seem stand-offish, while others move right in and help?
Research conducted by Kathleen Vohs, assistant professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, demonstrates that money -- more specifically, people's exposure to the concept of money -- can start to answer these questions. The research is published in the Nov. 17 issue of Science.

Comment: Bottom line: capitalism makes people less altruistic. Why are we not surprised?


First study hints at insights to come from genes unique to humans

Among the approximately 23,000 genes found in human DNA, scientists currently estimate that there may be as few as 50 to 100 that have no counterparts in other species. Expand that comparison to include the primate family known as hominoids, and there may be several hundred unique genes.

Despite the distinctive contributions these genes likely make to our species, little is known about the roles they play. Now scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have produced the first detailed analysis of the cellular functions of a hominoid-only gene, TBC1D3. They affirmed earlier evidence linking the gene to cancer, showing that TBC1D3's protein can keep cellular growth factors active and helps turn on RAS, a protein that is active in a third of all human cancers.

Fossil sheds light on the history of sex

A long, thin rope-like creature standing erect on the sea floor up to 570 million years ago has been identified as the first animal on Earth to have had sex.

Sex for the creature would have been "functional rather than a social affair"
Magic Hat

Boomerang returns, even in space

In an unprecedented experiment, a Japanese astronaut has thrown a boomerang in space and confirmed it flies back, much like on Earth.

Scientists discover signs of ancient life on Mars

For the first time, satellite imagery reveals thick Martian salt deposits scattered across the planet's southern surface, which one planetary scientist claims could be sites of ancient life.

The mats of sodium chloride - the same taste-enhancing mineral found on your kitchen table - serve as more evidence of Mars' watery past, and researchers think the briney pools that made them could have been hospitable to life.

New Strategy To Prevent Genetically Altered Rice From Uncontrolled Spreading

A method of creating selective terminable transgenic rice was reported by the scientists of Zhejiang University. Unintended spreading of transgenic rice by pollen and seed dispersal is a major concern for planting transgenic rice, especially transgenic rice expressing pharmaceutical or industrial proteins.

transgenic rice
©Chaoyang Lin et al. PLoS
Field trial for selective termination of the transgenic rice. The transgenic plants and the conventional control rice plants were sprayed with Bentazon. The picture was taken 7 days after the spray. The surviving plants were rice plants not carrying the transgene.

'Nanominerals' Influence Earth Systems From Ocean To Atmosphere To Biosphere

The ubiquity of tiny particles of minerals--mineral nanoparticles--in oceans and rivers, atmosphere and soils, and in living cells are providing scientists with new ways of understanding Earth's workings. Our planet's physical, chemical, and biological processes are influenced or driven by the properties of these minerals.

mineral nanoparticles
©Saumyaditya Bose, Virginia Tech
A bacteria cell living in a no-oxygen environment "breathes" using mineral nanoparticles.

Lyme Disease Can Be Prevented With New Shot, Study Suggests

Lyme disease is the blight of countryside users but it may be prevented with a single injection, according to research published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

Deer tick
Deer ticks often carry Lyme disease.

Robot Fetches Objects With Just A Point And A Click

Robots are fluent in their native language of 1 and 0 absolutes but struggle to grasp the nuances and imprecise nature of human language. While scientists are making slow, incremental progress in their quest to create a robot that responds to speech, gestures and body language, a more straightforward method of communication may help robots find their way into homes sooner.

©Georgia Institute of Technology
Charlie Kemp, director of the Healthcare Robotics Center at Georgia Tech and Emory University, accepts a towel from El-E, a robot designed to aid users with mobility impairment with everyday tasks.