Science & Technology


Memory Can Be Manipulated Scientists Claim


Scientists have learned to exert control over memory. Biochemists at New York University have discovered that fading memory can be restored or on the contrary, memory can be erased by injecting a certain molecule into the brain.

The wonder-molecule, protein kinase M-zeta (PKM-zeta), regulates the efficiency of bindings between nerve tissues. Our memory depends on these bindings, says the director of the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity, Pavel Balaban.

"How memory originates? Nerve cells start binding each other in a different way, and new possibilities appear at the level of network to response in a different way to the same stimuli. All this is determined by the bindings between cells, Pavel Balaban said.

Speed Demon Creates a Shock

Survey Explorer
© NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this image of the star Alpha Camelopardalis, or Alpha Cam, in astronomer-speak, speeding through the sky like a motorcyclist zipping through rush-hour traffic. The big red arc is a bow shock, similar to the wake in front of the bow of a ship in water.
Just as some drivers obey the speed limit while others treat every road as if it were the Autobahn, some stars move through space faster than others. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this image of the star Alpha Camelopardalis, or Alpha Cam, in astronomer-speak, speeding through the sky like a motorcyclist zipping through rush-hour traffic. The supergiant star Alpha Cam is the bright star in the middle of this image, surrounded on one side by an arc-shaped cloud of dust and gas -- a bow shock -- which is colored red in this infrared view.

Such fast-moving stars are called runaway stars. The distance and speed of Alpha Cam is somewhat uncertain. It is probably somewhere between 1,600 and 6,900 light-years away and moving at an astonishing rate of somewhere between 680 and 4,200 kilometers per second (between 1.5 and 9.4 million mph). It turns out that WISE is particularly adept at imaging bow shocks from runaway stars. Previous examples can be seen around Zeta Ophiuchi , AE Aurigae, and Menkhib. But Alpha Cam revs things up into a different gear. To put its speed into perspective, if Alpha Cam were a car driving across the United States at 4,200 kilometers per second, it would take less than one second to travel from San Francisco to New York City!

US: Dade Cops Waiting To Get Crime Fighting Drone Airborne

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Miami-Dade's newest crime fighting tool is a literal 'eye in the sky'.

The Micro Air Vehicle, or MAV for short, is a small radio controlled drone aircraft equipped with a portable camera system. Miami-Dade Sgt. Andrew Cohen said drone will be used to gather real time information in situations which may be too dangerous for officers.

"If an SRT (Special Response Team) has to go into an area they don't know what's there, we don't know what is in the backyard," said Cohen, "They want to know if there are dogs in the backyard, if there is a shed, things that could be a threat to us."

The MAV is used by the military to scan dangerous areas before troops are sent in. Miami-Dade police used a $50,000 grant to buy one, but not everyone is happy with the purchase.

"What happens when they fly over backyards and they see something without a warrant that they want to take against," said ACLU Executive Director Howard Simon.

Study explains why soggy skin gets wrinkly but does not dissolve

water wrinkle skin
© Wikipedia
Study explains why soggy skin gets wrinkly but does not dissolve
A new study by mathematicians in Australia has explained how skin remains stable in water and does not dissolve, and why it wrinkles and remains a strong barrier even after absorbing large quantities of water.

Myfanwy Evans, a mathematician at the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University in Canberra, and her colleagues developed a stringy skin model to try to explain how the network of keratin fibers in the skin is arranged. Keratin is a fibrous protein also found in the nails and hair. Scientists already knew the keratin networks were important, but until now no one was certain of their structure.

After a period in water the outer layer of the skin (the stratum corneum) expands, producing prune-like wrinkles. Earlier researchers suggested the stratum corneum expands as it absorbs water, but no one had yet explained why skin doesn't fall apart when it has expanded.

Keratin is known to prevent evaporation from the skin and to absorb water to help keep the skin hydrated. The stratum corneum layer also gives the skin its stretchy properties and the ability to spring back.

Discovery provides connection to Earth-shattering event

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Bright Jupiter has dominated the evening sky for months. Jupiter is an impressive planet - it's 11 times wider than Earth - and its influence reaches farther than you might guess.

Now that winter is nearing its end, Jupiter has descended far down the western sky. Look for it low in the west about an hour after sunset as twilight fades. Tomorrow the thin crescent moon will shine to its right, as shown here. In the following days the thickening crescent moon will climb higher above it in the twilight.

Jupiter has more mass than all the other planets, asteroids, comets, and everything else in the solar system combined. So it throws a lot of weight around. Its moving gravitational field sometimes tugs asteroids out of their accustomed paths or sends wayward comets into Earth-approaching loops. When the sun and planets were new and still jockeying for position 4.6 billion years ago, Jupiter undoubtedly helped to arrange the whole solar system.

And to a small extent, it is still doing so.

As Jupiter sinks low in the west these evenings, its influence is holding together a swarm of asteroids located far away from it, very high in the southwestern part of the sky. Jupiter also shapes a second, similar asteroid swarm on its opposite side, very far below the horizon toward the northwest.

These asteroids are locked in a special relationship with the planet due to an odd combination of its gravity and the sun's. The swarms share Jupiter's orbit but precede it and follow it by about a sixth of a circle. Each swarm, Jupiter, and the sun form an equilateral triangle.

This is no surprise. As long ago as the 1770s, the mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange figured out that a moving planet ought to create gravitational "low spots'' 60 degrees ahead of it and behind it in its orbit, where loose objects might collect.

Fossils of Horse Teeth Indicate 'You Are What You Eat'

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Tehran - Findings of a new study said that fossil records verify a long-standing theory that horses evolved through natural selection.

The groundbreaking research was conducted by two anatomy professors at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYCOM) of New York Institute of Technology.

Working with colleagues from Massachusetts and Spain, Matthew Mihlbachler, Ph.D., and Nikos Solounias, Ph.D. arrived at the conclusion after examining the teeth of 6,500 fossil horses representing 222 different populations of more than 70 extinct horse species. The records, spanning the past 55 million years, indicate a "critical" lag time between the evolution of horse teeth and dietary changes resulting from climate change.

The breakthrough findings were published in the March 4 issue of the journal Science.

"One of the advantages of studying extinct creatures like prehistoric horses is we can look at how animals responded to their environments over millions of years -- something that biologists who study living species cannot do," Mihlbachler said, adding that the biggest surprise of the study was that while some of the extinct populations they examined had extremely abrasive diets, much of the time, it seemed horses had it surprisingly easy. This suggests that "strong natural selection" for different types of teeth only happened occasionally during brief intervals in horse history.

Survivor in the Human Genome

Somehow, the notion that humans don't have any pheromone receptor genes came to be conventional wisdom in the scientific community. And that notion may turn out to be true. But this week a team of researchers announces that the human genome contains at least one gene that closely resembles a family of mouse pheromone receptors - genes that are primarily involved in detecting odorless chemicals such as pheromones. These chemicals are the signals of a 'second' olfactory system in many species: the release of pheromones by one individual, for example, can trigger sexual behavior in another individual. The proposed human pheromone receptor is expressed in the main system of smell in humans, according to the researchers.
"We took a molecular approach and asked whether any aspects of a pheromonal system are preserved in the human genome," says Peter Mombaerts, of The Rockefeller University in New York. Two years ago, his laboratory identified eight human DNA sequences that share distinct structural elements with mouse pheromone receptors. Seven of the sequences proved not to be functional genes. One sequence, however, encodes a receptor protein found in epithelial tissue in the nasal cavity. The findings appear in the September issue of Nature Genetics.
For decades, studies have found physiological evidence of pheromonal effects in humans, most notably the synchronization of menstrual cycles of some women who live together.

Remains found on Didcot housing estate

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The horse skeleton found by the archaeologists.
Remains dating back thousands of years have been uncovered on the site of Didcot's Great Western Park housing development.

Archaeologists have uncovered a host of fascinating artefacts during a dig on the site as work begins on the 3,300-home development.

Builders Taylor Wimpey said "significant historical findings" have been made at the site, west of the town, over the past month by staff from Oxford Archaeology.

The oldest artefacts are a Neolithic flint arrowhead, used by early hunters, and a bowl thought to be for ceremonial purposes.

Ten roundhouses have been discovered, thought to be part of a late Bronze Age and Iron Age hillcrest settlement at the site,.
Bizarro Earth

Adders, toads and lizards are disappearing from UK

Rept Amph Dissap
© Chris Dresh
Will basking adders become a think of the past?
The native adder is effectively disappearing from our landscape, a study has revealed.

The first nationwide survey of UK amphibian and reptiles has found that Britain's most widespread snake, the adder, is in decline.

Slow worms, common lizards and grass snakes are also becoming less widespread, as are the common toad, common frog and the great crested newt.

The only species found to be increasing its range is the palmate newt.

These startling trends come from a report produced by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Trust, which has been gathering data on 12 species since 2007.

The trust's National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) has presented its interim findings, which cover the first half of the six-year survey period from 2007 to 2012.

The full survey aims to establish baselines for widespread species - figures against which future status changes can be assessed.

Chickens are capable of feeling empathy, scientists believe

Chickens Empathy
© Richard Watt
Under commercial conditions, chickens regularly encounter other birds showing signs of pain and distress
The discovery has important implications for the welfare of farm and laboratory animals, say researchers.

Empathy, long thought to be a defining human trait, causes one individual to be affected by the emotional state of another.

Feelings are ''mirrored'' in the observer, leading to a shared experience of being happy, sad or distressed.

The research demonstrated that hens possess a fundamental capacity to empathise, at least with their own chicks.

Scientists chose hens and chicks for the study because it is thought empathy probably evolved to aid parental care.

A number of controlled procedures were carried out which involved ruffling the feathers of chicks and mother hens with an air puff.

When chicks were exposed to puffs of air, they showed signs of distress that were mirrored by their mothers. The hens' heart rate increased, their eye temperature lowered - a recognised stress sign - and they became increasingly alert. Levels of preening were reduced, and the hens made more clucking noises directed at their chicks.