Science & Technology


Scientists discover a whole new state of matter - 'Jahn-Teller metals'

© Photo: Julian Litzel/Wiki
This bizarre-looking, otherworldly material represents a new state of matter.

Referred to as a 'Jahn-Teller metal,' it could offer breakthroughs in the science of superconductivity.

The beautiful, hovering, crystalline material shown above is not a rare alien element. Rather, it represents a newly discovered state of matter entirely, reports Motherboard.

Most people are familiar with some of the common states of matter: solids, liquids and gases. Scientists also recognize a fourth state of matter - plasma - that is commonly observable here on Earth, as well as a host of other states that can only be created in the lab, such as Bose - Einstein condensates and neutron-degenerate matter.

Jahn-Teller metals can now be added to this list, a state which appears to have the properties of an insulator, superconductor, metal and magnet all wrapped into one. It's the material's superconductivity which might be the most interesting trait, however. It has the potential to achieve superconductivity at a relatively high critical temperature ("high" as in -135 degrees Celsius as opposed to the sub -243.2 degrees Celsius required by many ordinary metallic superconductors), which is significant for the science of superconductivity.

Superconductors conduct electricity without resistance, so they have the potential to revolutionize how we use and produce energy. But these technologies become far more feasible if developed using high-temperature superconductivity.


Part yeast, part human, scientists create a new fungus

Making yeast more "human."
A living yeast that is part human and part fungus has been engineered by scientists in a feat that shows how, despite a billion years of evolution separating humans from yeast, the two species share hundreds of genes in common.

Those genes remain, in part, from the last common ancestor of humans and yeast.

"Cells use a common set of parts and those parts, even after a billion years of independent evolution, are swappable," Edward Marcotte, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin, said in a press release.

University of Texas creates fungal strain out of human and yeast DNA.
"It's a beautiful demonstration of the common heritage of all living things — to be able to take DNA from a human and replace the matching DNA in a yeast cell and have it successfully support the life of the cell."

That's just what Marcotte and his colleagues did, as they describe in their study published in the journal Science. Although yeast (such as the Baker's yeast that might be in your refrigerator now) consists of a single cell and humans have trillions of cells organized into complex systems, multiple genes are shared between the two.

Comment: The biological "Swap Meet!"


Humans could download brains on to a computer and live forever

© Photo: (c) alengo
Once computer engineers have worked out how to make a circuit board as complex as the human mind we will be able to download ourselves onto computers.
Humans could download their brain on to a computer and live forever inside a machine, a Cambridge neuroscientist has claimed.

Dr Hannah Critchlow said that if a computer could be built to recreate the 100 trillion connections in the brain their it would be possible to exist inside a programme.

Dr Critchlow, who spoke at the Hay Festival on 'busting brain myths' said that although the brain was enormously complex, it worked like a large circuit board and scientists were beginning to understand the function of each part.

Asked if it would be possible one day to download consciousness onto a machine, she said: "If you had a computer that could make those 100 trillion circuit connections then that circuit is what makes us us, and so, yes, it would be possible.

"People could probably live inside a machine. Potentially, I think it is definitely a possibility.

Dr Critchlow also said it was a myth that humans only used 10 per cent of their brains, and said that the fallacy had been fostered by Alibert Einstein who said he had discovered the Theory of Relativity because his brain was working at a higher level than most people's.

The case of American railroad foreman Phineas Gage also helped perpetuate the myth after a blasting accident left a metal pole embedded deeply in his skull.


Humans 'will become God-like cyborgs within 200 years'

© Photo: PA

Within 200 years the wealthiest humans will become cyborgs, part man part machine.
Wealthy humans are likely become cyborgs within 200 years as they gradually merge with technology like computers and smart phones, a historian has claimed.

Yuval Noah Harari, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the amalgamation of man and machine will be the 'biggest evolution in biology' since the emergence of life four billion years ago.

Prof Harari, who has written a landmark book charting the history of humanity, said mankind would evolve to become like gods with the power over death, and be as different from humans of today as we are from chimpanzees.

He argued that humans as a race were driven by dissatisfaction and that we would not be able to resist the temptation to 'upgrade' ourselves, whether by genetic engineering or technology.

"We are programmed to be dissatisfied, " said Prof Harari. "Even when humans gain pleasure and achievements it is not enough. They want more and more.

"I think it is likely in the next 200 years or so homo sapiens will upgrade themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through biological manipulation or genetic engineering or by the creation of cyborgs, part organic part non-organic.

"It will be the greatest evolution in biology since the appearance of life. Nothing really has changed in four billion years biologically speaking. But we will be as different from today's humans as chimps are now from us."


Investigation underway: Russian rocket launch costs increase after recent failure

© RT
According to the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, recent loss of the Proton-M rocket will push up launch costs and affect the overall number of contracts.

Comment: Russian Proton-M rocket launches are on hold since the latest failure of this booster that was destroyed on May 16 over East Siberia. (source)

"No doubt, the latest failure will affect the number of orders that we expected to sign in the near future because insurance costs will grow. Naturally, this will affect the overall price of a launch," Andrei Kalinovsky told the Rossiya-24 TV.

The latest of seven Proton carrier rocket failures over the past five years occurred on May 16. A Proton-M with a payload of cargo for the International Space Station lost its telemetry contact with the Earth after reaching space and began spinning out of control. A few days later, it fell from an uncontrollable orbit and burned up in the atmosphere.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigative commission to uncover the exact causes of the Proton-M accident. The commission will present recommendations on personal and financial responsibility as well as ways to repair what went wrong.

It was revealed in mid-May that Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center sustained losses nearing $180 million last year due to employee embezzlement and fraud. An investigation into the Moscow-based spacecraft and space-launch systems producer's losses is ongoing.

Comment: Has the Russian space agency been infiltrated by saboteurs? Learn more: What's going on? Russian Proton rocket feared lost after another botched launch


Editor-in-chief of The Lancet: Half of published research is unreliable, if not completely false

In the past few years more professionals have come forward to share a truth that, for many people, proves difficult to swallow. One such authority is Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet - considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.

Dr. Horton recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false.
"The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness." (source)
This is quite disturbing, given the fact that all of these studies (which are industry sponsored) are used to develop drugs/vaccines to supposedly help people, train medical staff, educate medical students and more.

Comment: Fraud and corruption in science is so widespread that it poses a serious threat to the "trustworthiness, utility, and value of science and medicine", according to one of the country's leading medical ethicists. As examples: the FDA colludes with industry by burying the evidence of misconduct in research, scientists report that falsifying or fabricating data, concealing serious violations and plagiarism are common. And corporations routinely put out fraudulent scientific studies with an agenda to establish a fake scientific basis of safety for their products.


Dogs may have been man's best friend for 40,000 years


The DNA evidence, published in Current Biology, also showed that modern-day Siberian Huskies (stock image) and Greenland sled dogs share an unusually large number of genes with the ancient Taimyr wolf
It was thought humans first tamed the ancestors of domestic dogs in the Ice Age, between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.

But a new study has found our canine sidekicks have been our best friend for much longer.

A team of Swedish scientists discovered a divergence in the species may have occurred up to 40,000 years ago based on the genetic analysis of an ancient wolf bone.

To early humans, the first domesticated wolves were hunting companions, fighting animals and beasts of burden.

As they bred the animals, selecting those that best met their needs, the domestic and wild breeds diverged, and the animals' genetic code became less and less similar.


Computerized military suit with suspended armor makes debut

"Toto, we ain't in Kansas anymore." Prototype achieved, revealed at McDill Air Force Base.
A computer-run military suit of the future, with suspended armor, makes its debut at a military convention held at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. Geared to special ops forces, the suit has built-in night vision, computers, a communications system and a suspended metal skeleton that wraps 60% of a soldier's body in armor. It is so heavy, it has a motorized metal skeleton that carries the weight. It is designed to feel zero load on the top of the head via a suspended helmet. This project is being pursued by SOCOM.

Comment: "I am a mechanical man in a mechanical suit with a mechanical mission in a mechanical world..."


Remote galaxy discovered shining with infrared light equal to more than 300 trillion suns

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Dusty 'Sunrise' at Core of Galaxy (Artist's Concept).
A remote galaxy shining brightly with infrared light equal to more than 300 trillion suns has been discovered using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The galaxy, which belongs to a new class of objects recently discovered by WISE -- nicknamed extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs -- is the most luminous galaxy found to date.

"We are looking at a very intense phase of galaxy evolution," said Chao-Wei Tsai of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, lead author of a new report appearing in the 22 May issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "This dazzling light may be from the main growth spurt in the size of the galaxy's black hole"

Professor Andrew Blain, from the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been involved with WISE since its inception in 2001, and has been responsible for examining and validating the data from the WISE telescope. He is a co-author of the new report into this discovery.

The galaxy, known as WISE J224607.57-052635.0, may have a behemoth black hole at its belly, gorging itself on gas.


Ocean's hidden world of plankton revealed in 'enormous database'

© Christian Sardet / Tara Oceans
Planktonic organisms such as these single-celled creatures are found throughout the oceans
The hidden world of the ocean's tiniest organisms has been revealed in a series of papers published in the journal Science.

An international team has been studying samples of plankton collected during a three-year global expedition.

They have so far found 35,000 species of bacteria, 5,000 new viruses and 150,000 single-celled plants and creatures.

They believe that the majority of these are new to science.

Dr Chris Bowler, from the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), in Paris, told BBC News: "We have the most complete description yet of planktonic organisms to date: what's there in terms of viruses, bacteria and protozoa - we finally have a catalogue of what is present globally."

© Noan Le Bescot / Tara Oceans
This tiny crustacean was found in a sample taken in the South Pacific
Planktonic organisms are minute, but together they make up 90% of the mass of all of the marine life in the oceans.

They include viruses, bacteria, single-celled plants and creatures (protozoa).

They form the very base of the food chain, and produce - through photosynthesis - half of the oxygen we breathe.

However, until now, little has been known about this unseen ocean ecosystem.

The Tara expedition, primarily funded by the French fashion designer Agnes B, set out to change that.

© M Ormestad / Kahikai / Tara Oceans
Many of the organisms are new to science
© C Guiguand / Tara Oceans
So far the team has analysed 579 of the 35,000 samples that were collected
An international team of scientists took part in expeditions onboard the Tara schooner between 2009 and 2013.

It sailed 30,000km across the world's oceans, with researchers collecting 35,000 samples, taking them from the very top layers of the ocean down to 1,000m below the waves.

The project has cost about 10m euros.