Science & Technology


Repressed Memory: Case for the research paper and wishful thinking

Are some experiences so horrific that the human brain seals them away, only to recall them years later? The concept of "repressed memory," known by the diagnostic term dissociative amnesia, has long fueled controversy in psychiatry. During the 1980s, claims of childhood sexual abuse based on recovered memories led to a spate of highly publicized court cases. A number of the supposed victims retracted their allegations in the early 1990s, admitting that they had been swayed by therapeutic techniques. Yet the scientific validity of dissociative amnesia has remained contested ground.

Comment: Anyone up for a challenge?


Human Memories of the Doomsday Comet

For several weeks in the fall of 2007, amateur astronomers and sky watchers around the world were entranced by the mysterious, energetic display of Comet Holmes 17P. The Internet still abounds with exotic theories about the comet's nature -- some have claimed it is the "Blue Kachina" foretold in Hopi Prophecy, others assert that the secret government shot it with a nuclear missile, and still others say its nucleus is acquiring mass and turning into a PLANET.

Garish and unfounded speculations aside, it is interesting that Comet Holmes, while providing a remarkable cometary "light show" and inciting great interest, never appeared to the naked eye as more than a tiny, luminous "fluff ball" of light. Certainly, without the aid of telescopes and space satellites, its unremarkable glow amongst a vast network of stars and planets would not have captured the average person's attention. Nor would anyone observing it have had any reason to feel terror.

Yemen: Over thousand rare ancient archaeological pieces found in Tehama

Excavation operations at the area of Khamis Bani Sa'ad in Tehama district of Hodeidah province have discovered over a thousand of rare archaeological pieces dating back to 300 thousand years BC.

A French expert said that some pieces indicated that the area's inhabitants had been fishermen not farmers as they are now, but the most important discovery is a horse tooth and what is amazing here is that this kind of horses dose not live currently in this area but in the Middle Asia.

Over thousand rare ancient archaeological pieces found in Tehama
Evil Rays

Towards Cloaking Visible Light: Three-dimensional Metamaterials For The Optical Wavelength Range

Last year researchers from Duke University stunned the world when they announced a cloaking device for the microwave range. This device made use of metamaterials that had a negative refractive index for electromagnetic radiation. The metamaterials were carefully designed split-ring resonators with a structure size much smaller than the wavelength. Only 10 stacked layers of metamaterials were necessary to achieve the desired invisibility effect.

©Stuttgart University/ MPI
3D metamaterials. Gold nano split ring resonators are stacked.

Astrobiology Top 10: Brought Back to Life

Astrobiology Magazine is looking back over 2007, highlighting the Top 10 astrobiology stories of the year. At number 8 is the recovery of DNA from ancient microorganisms. The DNA showed an "exponential decline" after 1.1 million years, indicating how long DNA could be preserved in rocks in cold places. Such knowledge could help astrobiologists in their quest to understand early life on Earth and to look for life in cold places like Mars and Europa. (This story was originally published on August 15, 2007.)

Explosives On A Chip: Unique Structure Enables New Generation Of Military Micro-detonators

Tiny copper structures with pores at both the nanometer and micron size scales could play a key role in the next generation of detonators used to improve the reliability, reduce the size and lower the cost of certain military munitions.

©Gary Meek
Copper structure shown here is a precursor material for explosive compounds used in military detonators. The copper structure can be formed on chips, then converted to an explosive compound. The compound is being used to improve US Navy detonator devices.

Developed by a team of scientists from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and the Indian Head Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the highly-uniform copper structures will be incorporated into integrated circuits -- then chemically converted to millimeter-diameter explosives. Because they can be integrated into standard microelectronics fabrication processes, the copper materials will enable micro-electromechanical (MEMS) fuzes for military munitions to be mass-produced like computer chips.

Mysterious Cosmic Powerhouses Explored

By working in synergy with a ground-based telescope array, the joint Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)/NASA Suzaku X-ray observatory is shedding new light on some of the most energetic objects in our galaxy, but objects that remain shrouded in mystery.

These cosmic powerhouses pour out vast amounts of energy, and they accelerate particles to almost the speed of light. But very little is known about these sources because they were discovered only recently. "Understanding these objects is one of the most intriguing problems in astrophysics," says Takayasu Anada of the Institute for Space and Astronautical Science in Kanagawa, Japan. Anada is lead author of a paper presented last week at a Suzaku science conference in San Diego, Calif.

Suzaku resolved an X-ray source (left) that was also seen in gamma rays by the H.E.S.S. array (right). The object, HESS J1614-518, is accelerating protons to nearly the speed of light (Credit: JAXA/H.E.S.S.)
Eye 1

New method enables scientists to see smells

Animals and insects communicate through an invisible world of scents. By exploiting infrared technology, researchers at Rockefeller University just made that world visible. With the ability to see smells, these scientists now show that when fly larvae detect smells with both olfactory organs they find their way toward a scented target more accurately than when they detect them with one.

The Quest for a New Class of Superconductors

Fifty years after the Nobel-prize winning explanation of how superconductors work, a research team from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Edinburgh, and Cambridge University are suggesting another mechanism for the still-mysterious phenomenon.
Alarm Clock

Near-Earth Asteroid Fly-By to Occur Jan. 29

Mark your calendar: On Jan. 29, 2008, one night before a Tunguska-class (50m-wide) asteroid threatens to strike Mars, an even larger asteroid will fly past our own planet.