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Thu, 19 Jan 2017
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Science & Technology


New Human-Safe Glowing Nanoparticles Spot Tumors, Release Drugs

© Luo Gu
A new nanoparticle, created at the University of California and tested on live animals can illuminate cancerous tissues and biodegrades with no lasting detrimental effects.

Nanoparticles are an incredibly promising treatment option when it comes to many life-threatening diseases such as cancer. The small size and often organic composition of nanoparticles allows them to bind and enter cells, delivering drugs or marking diseased tissues. However, a serious downside of nanoparticles is that many have been initially shown be quite toxic, possibly being more dangerous than asbestos to the human body.

At the University of California, San Diego, they're well aware of the toxicity dangers of nanotechnology, so they designed their latest cancer fighting particle with safety in mind. Michael Sailor, a chemistry professor at the university and leader of the study describes, "It is the first luminescent nanoparticle that was purposely designed to minimize toxic side effects. This new design meets a growing need for non-toxic alternatives that have a chance to make it into the clinic to treat human patients."

Professor Sailor's lab tested numerous luminescent nanoparticles, only to find that many of them were far too toxic for injection into humans. Typically, glowing nanoparticles use toxic organic chemicals or tiny structures called quantum dots, which can leave potentially harmful heavy metals.


CO2-tracking satellite crashes after lift-off

© NASA/Robert Hargreaves Jr/VAFB
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory's protective fairing - shown here as it was about to be fitted to the spacecraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California - failed to separate a few minutes after lift-off. That prevented the satellite from reaching orbit and caused it to crash into the ocean.

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory crashed into the Pacific just off the coast of Antarctica shortly after it lifted off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Tuesday.

Just minutes after the OCO launched at 0155 PST (0955 GMT) on a Taurus XL rocket, its protective fairing, which shields the spacecraft during launch and atmospheric ascent, failed to separate and fall away as planned. As a result of its added weight, the satellite did not reach its orbit and crashed into the ocean.

NASA says a mishap investigation board will look into the cause of the failure.

The OCO was intended to be the first satellite to monitor precisely where and when carbon dioxide is being emitted and where and when it is being absorbed.

Humans currently emit 8.5 billion tonnes of carbon each year, mostly as carbon dioxide. But not all of that ends up in the atmosphere.

Evil Rays

UK nanny state to pipe 2-bit government-approved internet into 'every home'

Lord Carter has been defending his report into the state of digital Britain and in particular his decision to set a 2Mbps (megabits per second) baseline speed for UK broadband.

His interim report was published at the end of January and has drawn criticism.

The decision to offer a minimum of 2Mbps was necessary to kickstart the movement of government services online, said Lord Carter.

It was "not an option" to leave people out of the digital revolution, he said.

No Entry

Google users hit by mail blackout

Business and consumer users of Google's popular e-mail service were hit by a blackout on Tuesday.

The service went offline at 0930 GMT and began to return for many users after four hours, one of the longest downtimes ever suffered by Google.

More than 113 million people use Google mail worldwide, according to comScore.

Google said it apologised for the inconvenience the e-mail blackout had caused its users.

"We know how important GMail is to our users so we take this very seriously," it added.

Magic Wand

Ancients art of water divining used to find burst pipes

The ancient art of water divining is being practised by an engineer with a utility company to find burst pipes.

Steve Robinson, 47, who works for United Utilities, generally uses radio waves to determine the location of a leak.


Turbulence May Promote the Birth of Massive Stars

On long, dark winter nights, the constellation of Orion the Hunter dominates the sky. Within the Hunter's sword, the Orion Nebula swaddles a cluster of newborn stars called the Trapezium. These stars are young but powerful, each one shining with the brilliance of 100,000 Suns. They are also massive, containing 15 to 30 times as much material as the Sun.

Where did the Trapezium stars come from? The question is not as simple as it seems. When it comes to the theory of how massive stars form, the devil is in the details.

We know the basics: a cloud of cosmic gas draws itself together, growing denser and hotter until nuclear fusion ignites. But how does massive star formation begin? What determines how many stars form from a single cloud? New data from the Submillimeter Array (SMA), a joint project of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, is helping to answer these questions.


Scotland: Mystery of 'second Crown Jewels' solved

They are "Scotland's other Crown Jewels", a mysterious collection of wooden carvings which have baffled historians for years.

But the true meaning behind the Stirling Heads has been unveiled, thanks to a 500-year-old sketch of Julius Caesar.

Carved between 1530 and 1544 for the court of James V, the works depict the king, his wife, Mary of Guise, other important characters from his retinue and previous monarchs.

They were once a centrepiece of the Royal Palace at Stirling Castle, but those that have survived are being kept in storage in Edinburgh while replicas are made for inclusion in a £12m restoration of the palace.


US: Amateur astronomer finds meteorites near Waco

© News8Austin
Now there's proof that what many saw fly through the sky was a meteorite.
It's hard to forget the image of a fireball in the sky caught on tape in broad daylight during last Sunday's Austin Marathon. Speculation ended as to what the fireball really was when experts determined that it was a meteor.

Now there's actual physical proof that it was a meteor. Amateur astronomer Doug Dawn and his team say they were able to find meteorites. Dawn's team analyzed the video footage shot by News 8 photographer Eddie Garcia. Dawn said there was a lot of information available in the film and it helped with calculations of where the material was coming from.

Rob Matson is an expert in Los Angeles who helped narrow the likely location of the meteorite's landfall. Dawn and his team already had radar data and immediately made their way out to the countryside in the Waco area.

Bizarro Earth

Another Meteor Impact Coincides with Large-Scale Volcanic Eruptions

© Unknown
The remnants of a large volcanic eruption in the Faroe Islands. These eruptions can go on for millions of years.
Scientists have long debated the cause of the dinosaurs' extinction about 65 million years ago.

Around this time a giant meteorite struck the Gulf of Mexico. But the extinction also seems to coincide with massive and long-lasting volcanic eruptions in India known as the Deccan Traps. So which event was responsible? And are these phenomena linked?

New research now shows that this combination of meteorite impact and large-scale volcanic activity - known as flood basalt eruptions - is not unique.

An international team of researchers looked at a 30-million-year-old meteorite crater in Belarus called Logoisk. They found that this too coincided with volcanic eruptions further south which covered Yemen and Ethiopia with basalt rock.


Dozens of Mummies Unearthed from Ancient Egyptian Burial Ground

The Supreme Council of Antiquities, part of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, has announced the discovery of an intact wooden and limestone sarcophagi housing dozens of mummies inside the Sixth-Dynasty tomb of Sennedjem in the Saqqara necropolis.

Members of the public were given the first glimpse of the latest discovery of ancient Egyptian treasure to be found in Saqqara on Wednesday.

SCA Secretary-General Zahi Hawass revealed that two weeks ago, during a routine excavation work at the mastaba of the Sixth-Dynasty lector-priest Sennedjem, their archaeologists stumbled upon a cache of mummies of the 26th Dynasty, Egypt''s last independent Kingdom before it was overrun by a succession of foreign conquerors.