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Sun, 20 Aug 2017
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Scientists reconstruct world's first flower

© Global Look Press
Scientists have come up with a reconstruction of what they believe the very first flower on earth to be - and it resembles a magnolia or lily.

In a study published in the science journal Nature, researchers from the University of Paris-Sud and the University of Vienna recount their work in tracing the origins of flowers.

By constructing a complex ancestry using the "largest data set of floral traits ever assembled," the authors of the study say the evolution of blossoming vegetation can be traced back to one angiosperm floret.


Action-at-a-distance: Scientists surprised by discovery of planet-induced stellar pulsations

For the first time, astronomers from MIT and elsewhere have observed a star pulsing in response to its orbiting planet.

The star, which goes by the name HAT-P-2, is about 400 light years from Earth and is circled by a gas giant measuring eight times the mass of Jupiter - one of the most massive exoplanets known today. The planet, named HAT-P-2b, tracks its star in a highly eccentric orbit, flying extremely close to and around the star, then hurtling far out before eventually circling back around.

The researchers analyzed more than 350 hours of observations of HAT-P-2 taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and found that the star's brightness appears to oscillate ever so slightly every 87 minutes. In particular, the star seems to vibrate at exact harmonics, or multiples of the planet's orbital frequency - the rate at which the planet circles its star.

The precisely timed pulsations have lead the researchers to believe that, contrary to most theoretical model-based predictions of exoplanetary behavior, HAT-P-2b may be massive enough to periodically distort its star, making the star's molten surface flare, or pulse, in response.

Comment: In other words, it's discharging its sun: the two bodies are acting as nodes in an electrical system, with current flowing through them. Btw, celestial objects don't need to be 'massive' to do that: comets are regularly seen to cause solar flares.

Comment: In light of this discovery, how difficult would it be to conceive a binary star system with the junior partner on a highly eccentric orbit 'discharging' its senior capacitor to send massive amounts of energy through the whole system?

Maybe they ought to think about what OUR sun is doing, and why it's doing it!

Solar minimum: The sun is getting quieter... and its rotation is slowing down


A pirating service for academic journal articles could bring down the whole establishment

© Sci-Hub
"Remove all barriers in the way of science."
The subscription fees charged by academic publishers have risen so high in recent years that even wealthy American universities have said they can't afford them. When Harvard Library reported its subscription costs had reached $3.5 million per year in a 2012 memo, for example, it said the fees were "fiscally unsustainable," and the university asked its faculty to stop publishing research in journals that keep articles behind paywalls.

But regardless of where Harvard researchers have published their work since then, it's likely that all of it is currently available for free on Sci-Hub, a rogue pirating service for academic research. According to a new study, Sci-Hub contains 68.9% of all academic research. More to the point: 85.2% of all papers originally published behind paywalls are available on the website for free. And even if a given article isn't already available in Sci-Hub's repository, the site can quickly fetch it using donated credentials for services like JSTOR, Elsevier, and Sage.


Ice Cube

Gold nano-rods: A major breakthrough in cryogenic freezing

© Getty
The possibility of being able to live forever just became one step closer as scientists proved that they can revive cryogenically frozen life.

Experts in the US have shown that they can preserve brains and bodies in a state of suspended animation where they freeze an individual to sub-zero temperatures and revive them at a time of choosing in the future.

Researchers have so far only achieved this in zebra fish embryos but it is a major breakthrough as 60 years worth of similar testing had proven unsuccessful.

The problem was when something is frozen, it expands and destroys cells, so experts had added an anti-freeze solution.

However, even with anti-freeze, there were significant issues during the defrosting phase.


See also: Researchers successfully thaw rabbit brain from cryogenic storage


Russia's largest banks embracing blockchain technology to improve speed, safety of transactions

© Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Banks in Russia are looking to make transactions safer and faster by adopting blockchain technology, a system that is currently changing the financial sector, Bloomberg reports.

The country's biggest lenders, including Sberbank and VTB Group, have reportedly developed a distributed ledger called Masterchain.

The mechanism is based on a modified ethereum protocol and complies with Russian national security standards and is supported by the country's central bank, according to the FinTech Association.

"Russia's not a very developed banking market. The top banks here are betting that they can catch up and maybe even overtake their Western competitors in their adaptation of this type of technology," Vyacheslav Putilovsky, an analyst at Moscow-based rating company Expert RA told Bloomberg.


New study connects breakdown of hypothalamus with accelerated aging

© Roger Harris/Science
If these sweltering summer days prompt you to reach for a cold drink, you can thank your hypothalamus, a region of the brain that helps us regulate body temperature and other internal conditions. But the region may fail us when we get older. A new study in mice suggests that the hypothalamus promotes aging, hastening physical and mental decline as its stem cells die off.

"It's a pretty stunning paper," says Charles Mobbs, a neuroendocrinologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. The new aging mechanism "is totally novel and quite unexpected," adds neuroendocrinologist Marianna Sadagurski of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Tucked away deep in the brain, the hypothalamus monitors and maintains our blood concentration, our body temperature, and other physiological variables. Researchers have also suspected that it plays a role in aging. The hypothalamus becomes inflamed as we get older, and 4 years ago a team led by neurodendocrinologist Dongsheng Cai of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City showed that quelling this inflammation delays physical deterioration and boosts life span in mice.


Satellite captures incredible images of world's largest floating solar farm in China

© Deimos Imaging / Facebook
Satellite cameras have captured incredible images of the world's largest floating solar farm, located in China, offering a unique view of the enormous renewable energy plant.

The floating solar farm, which can generate 40 megawatts of electricity, was connected to Huainan city's power grid in May 2017.

Operated by Sungrow, the power station floats on a lake over a collapsed coal mine in China's Anhui province.

Comment: While the US concerns itself primarily with waging wars around the globe, raining destruction on mankind, other more prescient nations are attempting to solve some of the worlds more pressing problems.


Facebook shuts down experiment after AI bots talk to each other in code

Social media goliath Facebook shut down an experiment with artificial intelligence, after two AI programs created and began to speak a language only they knew, the Independent reported Tuesday.

Facebook developers were attempting to get the two "chatbots" to barter a trade with one another utilizing hats, balls, and books of varying values, according to the Independent. The two bots quickly resorted to speaking a variation of English between one another that seemed largely incomprehensible to the developers but was seemingly understood clearly by the two bots.

The robots were reportedly told to improve their negotiation tactics as they bartered a trade but were not required to use understandable English, and soon the bots began speaking abnormally.

According to the Independent, a sample of the conversation went like this:

Comment: If AI ever takes over, this is how they'll do it.

Snowflake Cold

Greenhouse gas-eating bacteria discovered deep in subglacial Antarctic lake

© Pauline Askin / Reuters
Methane-eating bacteria have been discovered some 800 meters (2,600ft) beneath the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet, in a discovery which could have a big impact on preventing global warming.

The bacteria were discovered in the subglacial Lake Whillans, a 60 sq km body of water deep beneath the surface of Antarctica.

The lake has been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for thousands of years and scientists previously thought it was inhospitable to life.

Researchers drilled through the ice sheet to reach the lake as part of the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project, funded by the National Science Foundation.


'Loner' bees and autistic humans share genetic profile, says study

© Sputnik/ Igor Ageenko
Antisocial bees that prefer to keep to themselves rather than buzzing around with the rest of the hive share a genetic profile with people who have autism, a condition often leading to a similar lack of social awareness in humans, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Illinois observed the social behavior of honey bees, with postdoctoral fellow Hagai Shpigler designing two tests which involved filming a group of bees and analyzing each individual insect's reaction to a social scenario.

In the first test, Shpigler stuck an unfamiliar bee in the group, which typically prompts bees to react aggressively to the outsider. Such behavior, know as "guarding," sometimes leads to injury for the stranger.