Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 24 Jul 2016
The World for People who Think

Science & Technology


Mysterious dark streaks on Mars support theory that it has significant amounts of near-surface water

© NASA / Reuters
NASA has examined thousands of "dark streaks" on Mars which might have formed due to liquid water, ice or vapor. The results of the study give "additional support for the notion that significant amounts of near-surface water can be found on Mars today."

The agency posted a series of photographs obtained from the Valles Marineris region near Mars' equator which depict numerous dark lines found around the planet's canyons.

According to the scientists, the mysterious streaks might be indications of the presence of either frozen or liquid water, or vapor.

Comment: Further reading:


U of Alaska Fairbanks: New investigation of 9/11's WTC7

© www.popularmechanics.com
WTC7, questions remain.

Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey, Chair of the University of Alaska Fairbanks' (UAF) Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, is conducting a study into the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11, 2001.

Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey [...] and two PH.D. research assistants are partnering with the non-profit Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth for an engineering study known as "World Trade Center Building 7 Evaluation." The researchers are using finite element modeling to evaluate the possible causes of World Trade Center Building 7's collapse.

Although questions still remain about how the two planes that hit the Twin Towers could cause the total collapse of the high-rise buildings, many 9/11 researchers now focus on the mysterious collapse of building 7. A number of 9/11 family members point to the collapse of WTC7 as a possible crack in the official story that could spark a new national conversation on the events of that day.

WTC7 was not hit by a plane that day; however, it collapsed at 5:20 p.m. according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the official cause for the collapse was office fires. A growing number of family members, activists, architects and engineers question the official theory for collapse and are seeking a new investigation into WTC7. Dr. Hulsey and the WTC7 Evaluation project hope to answer some of the remaining questions. The project is a two-year study that is being crowd-funded through Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

Dr. Hulsey has invited professionals from the fields of structural engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, architecture, building design and construction, physics, math, and science, as well as everyday citizens, to get involved. "Over the next year, with a team of PhD students, I will be rebuilding World Trade Center building 7, using the same drawings that were used to build it originally we will reconstruct it digitally," said Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey. "NIST says the building fell down due to office fires. Our investigation will evaluate the probability that this was the cause of the collapse."

Comment: The questions regarding 9/11, including WTC7, have never abated and rightfully so. The official narrative has never been fully accepted nor the results been put to rest. Bravo to Dr. Hulsey and his team for taking on this important investigation. Transparent and definitive findings would truly be a refreshing change for the USA.

Recommended reading: 9/11: The Ultimate Truth, by Laura Knight-Jadczyk, Joe Quinn


A fifth force: Fact or fiction?

© Jurik Peter / Shutterstock.com
Has a Hungarian lab really found evidence of a fifth force of nature?
Science and the internet have an uneasy relationship: Science tends to move forward through a careful and tedious evaluation of data and theory, and the process can take years to complete. In contrast, the internet community generally has the attention span of Dory, the absent-minded fish of "Finding Nemo"(and now "Finding Dory") — a meme here, a celebrity picture there — oh, look ... a funny cat video.

Thus people who are interested in serious science should be extremely cautious when they read an online story that purports to be a paradigm-shifting scientific discovery. A recent example is one suggesting that a new force of nature might have been discovered. If true, that would mean that we have to rewrite the textbooks.

As a physicist, I'd like to shed a disciplined scientific light on the claim.

A fifth force

So what has been claimed?

Comment: Further reading:


Scientists using a new gene-editing technique have removed HIV from human immune cells

They've managed to shut down HIV replication permanently.

Using the much-touted CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing method, scientists have demonstrated how they can edit HIV out of human immune cell DNA, and in doing so, can prevent the reinfection of unedited cells too.

If you haven't heard of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique before, get ready to hear a whole lot more about it in 2016, because it's set to revolutionize how we investigate and treat the root causes of genetic disease.

It allows scientists to narrow in on a specific gene, and cut-and-paste parts of the DNA to change its function.

Comment: While gene editing is 'set to revolutionize how we investigate and treat the root causes of genetic disease' there are concerns about the 'other applications' of this type of technology: The overlooked threats of gene editing
Perhaps no technology yet has been poised to change the world so profoundly. All life on Earth, every living organism, now stands the possibility of potentially being "edited" on the most basic genetic level, enhancing or degrading it, but forever changing it.

Gene editing or "gene therapy" performed on children or adults changes the genetic makeup of targeted cells after which and upon dividing, impart this new genetic material on each subsequent new cell. This is why treatments for diseases using gene therapy often are successful with only a single shot. The "treatment" self-replicates perpetually within the patient's body. Everything from leukemia to congenial genetic defects have been overcome in clinical trials using this method.

The Biggest Threats: The Jab and Slow Kill

Talk of gene editing usually revolves around its use to treat diseases and produce super-crops and livestock to "save the world." But as history has shown us, any technology is but a double-edged sword. Whatever good it is capable of, it is proportionally capable of just as much bad.

The first and foremost danger of human gene editing in particular is its use in weaponized vaccines. Such fears are founded upon what was revealed by the United Nations during the apartheid government in South Africa where a government program named "Project Coast" actually endeavored to produce vaccines that were race-specific in hopes of sterilizing or killing off its black population...

Another danger is "slow kill." This would be the process of using gene editing to affect individuals directly or through a genetically modified food supply subtly, infecting or killing off targeted demographic groups over a longer period of time. The advantage of this method would be the ambiguity surrounding what was causing upticks in "cancer" and other maladies brought on by degraded immune systems and overall health.


Greenland glacier hides primeval river system

© Cooper et al, 2016
A secret network of rivers was recently discovered beneath the Jakobsvahn Isbrae glacier in Greenland. The primeval river network is mostly dry, but water may still flow through the riverbeds along the margins of the ice, researchers believe.
A network of ancient rivers lies frozen in time beneath one of Greenland's largest glaciers, new research reveals.

The subglacial river network, which threads through much of Greenland's landmass and looks, from above, like the tiny nerve fibers radiating from a brain cell, may have influenced the fast-moving Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier over the past few million years.

"The channels seem to be instrumental in controlling the location and form of the Jakobshavn ice stream — and seem to show a clear influence on the onset of fast flow in this region," study co-author Michael Cooper, a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, told Live Science. "Without the channels present underneath, the glacier may not exist in its current location or orientation."

Comment: "Climate change" is not a satisfying answer to the rate at which this glacier is melting. Why isn't there more talk about the volcanic system in the Greenland area?


Plants can sense electric fields! And here's how

© Graphic: Dirk Becker
The functional potassium channel TPC1 consists of two identical subunits (left in the picture). Potassium ions (blue spheres) are guided through the canal pore when calcium ions that bind to the channel protein (green spheres) and changes in the electric field (flashes) actuate the voltage sensors (red cylinders). When the channel opens, an electrical signal (red current trace) is triggered and cells of the sample plant Arabidopsis thaliana depicted here exchange information.

An international group of researchers has pinpointed the sensor plants use to sense electric fields. A beneficial side effect: Their work could contribute to the understanding of how the Ebola virus enters human cells.

The cells of plants, animals and humans all use electrical signals to communicate with each other. Nerve cells use them to activated muscles. But leaves, too, send electrical signals to other parts of the plant, for example, when they were injured and are threatened by hungry insects.

"We have been asking ourselves for many years what molecular components plants use to exchange information among each other and how they sense the changes in electric voltage," says Professor Rainer Hedrich, Head of the Chair for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Würzburg.


Scientists discover that humans have a "magnetic 6th sense" to detect something we can't see

It's called magnetoreception, and it refers to the ability to perceive magnetic fields. Several animals use it to find their way over long distances by aligning themselves with the Earth's magnetic field. Sea turtles. honeybees, spiny lobsters, dolphins, migratory birds, and more all have a magnetic compass which allows them to use the information that's coded into magnetic fields. We know little beyond that, however. How they use them, how they sense them, and what information they are getting from them remains up for speculation. For all we know, these magnetic fields could be used for much more than navigation for certain species.

According to Joe Kirschvink, the geophysicist at the California Institute of Technology who is currently testing humans for a magnetic sense, "it's part of our evolutionary history. Magnetoreception may be the primal sense."


Robots to replace soldiers in future, says Russian military's tech chief

© Sergey Mamontov / Sputnik
Future warfare will see sophisticated combat robots fighting on land, in the air, at sea and in outer space, the head of Russia's military hi-tech body has said, adding that the days of conventional soldiers on the battlefield are numbered.

Comment: Comment: See also:
Robot security guards now equipped with self-defense instincts


Planet with 3 suns discovered

© ESO/L. Calçada
This artist's impression shows a view of the triple star system HD 131399 from close to the giant planet orbiting in the system. The planet is known as HD 131399Ab and appears at the lower-left of the picture.Located about 340 light years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), HD 131399Ab is about 16 million years old, making it also one of the youngest exoplanets discovered to date, and one of very few directly imaged planets. With a temperature of around 580 degrees Celsius and having an estimated mass of four Jupiter masses, it is also one of the coldest and least massive directly imaged exoplanets.
If you thought Luke Skywalker's home planet, Tatooine, was a strange world with its two suns in the sky, imagine this: a planet where you'd either experience constant daylight or enjoy triple sunrises and sunsets each day, depending on the seasons, which happen to last longer than human lifetimes.

Such a world has been discovered by a team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, using direct imaging. The planet, HD 131399Ab, is unlike any other known world - on by far the widest known orbit within a multi-star system. The discovery will be published online by the journal Science on Thursday, 7 July, 2016.

Located about 340 light years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus, HD 131399Ab is believed to be about 16 million years old, making it one of the youngest exoplanets discovered to date, and one of very few directly imaged planets. With a temperature of 850 Kelvin (about 1,070 degrees Fahrenheit or 580 degrees Celsius) and weighing in at an estimated four Jupiter masses, it is also one of the coldest and least massive directly imaged exoplanets.

"HD 131399Ab is one of the few exoplanets that have been directly imaged, and it's the first one in such an interesting dynamical configuration," said Daniel Apai, an assistant professor of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences who leads a research group dedicated to finding and observing exoplanets at the UA.


Lost Japanese spacecraft shares groundbreaking view of Perseus galaxy group

© SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
This image illustrates how supermassive black holes at the center of galaxy clusters could heat intergalactic gas, preventing it from cooling and forming stars. The black hole inflates bubbles (dark areas) of ultrahot, ionized gas, called plasma. The bubbles, which reach tens of thousands of light-years into space, drag gas (blue clouds) from the cluster center, which explains the long streaks of gas, or filaments, seen in optical images. In the outer regions, the bubbles cause turbulence, which heats the gas. The hot gas emits bright X-rays detected by X-ray satellites.
Like a confectioner trying to reach the right consistency in a sweet concoction, a supermassive black hole is vigorously stirring the gas within a collection of galaxies to keep star formation at a minimum. The new finding, revealed by the doomed spacecraft Hitomi, may help solve the question of why so few stars form within collections of hundreds or thousands of galaxies.

Hitomi measured the motion of gas in the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster with unprecedented precision, as much as 50 times better than previous instruments, said Andrew Fabian, a professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge in England. The black hole, by stirring the gas, keeps the material from cooling down and forming new stars.

Without that mixing activity from the black hole, "the central galaxy would be much brighter and have a much higher stellar mass," Fabian told Space.com by email. Fabian is chairperson of part of Hitomi's science working group, an international collaboration headed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). That group published the results of the only science completed by the HItomi spacecraft before it disintegrated in orbit last April.

Comment: Further reading: