Dec 4, 2010

Snow leads to 'ultimate pub lock-in'

Two guests and five workers have been stuck at the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorks, since the area's first snowfall on Nov 26, in what is being called "the ultimate lock-in".
With snow drifts outside the pub up to 16 feet deep, vehicles have also been buried, meaning escape has proved impossible from the 16th-century freehouse, which at an elevation of 1,325ft advertises itself as the country's fourth-highest pub.
Katie Underwood, 18, who has been a waitress at the Lion Inn for four years, said: "The novelty is definitely starting to wear off."

Paul Crossland, the pub's co-owner, put a warning on the Lion Inn's website urging customers not to attempt to reach the building. Stranded workers managed to email photographs from inside the pub.

Mr Crossland has been unable to travel the short distance from his nearby home, and council snowploughs have repeatedly failed to reach the inn.

Spirits have remained high despite the sub-zero temperatures, largely because the seven trapped occupants are sharing the huge bar that would usually cater for 150 people a night.

Miss Underwood said: "Most of the windows in here are blocked up, but we've got a door open at the back to get some air when we need to.

"All of the snow had compacted together against the walls of the pub because it had drifted so much.
"The boys that are here have been skiing on trays down the massive slopes. Now they're all out trying to dig their cars out of the deep snow."

She added: "It's been absolutely freezing, but we've been lucky that it's a pub and B&B that we're trapped in.
"We've got plenty of coal for our fire which has been great, and there's rooms upstairs so we have somewhere to sleep, and plenty of food."

Chefs Danny Butterworth, 18, and Stuart Dalton, 25, and bar staff Jo Bell, 20, and Robert Sunley, 22, are snowed in at the Lion, along with a couple from Sheffield who were holidaying in the area.

The occupants were not expecting the thaw to have arrived by Saturday night - their ninth - and have passed the evenings playing board games.

Staff have also taken the time to do maintenance work and other odd jobs.

Read more at The Telegraph

Dec 3, 2010

World’s hottest pepper is ‘hot enough to strip paint’

Fiery food mavens seeking to one-up each other now have to gear up for a whole new test of culinary bravado: the world's hottest chili pepper.

Yes, the Naga Viper, the latest claimant to the world's-hottest-pepper crown, outdistances its predecessor, the Bhut Jolokia, or  "ghost chili," by more than 300,000 points on the famous Scoville scale of tongue-scorching chili hotness. Researchers at Warwick University testing the Naga Viper found that it measures 1,359,000 on the Scoville scale, which rates heat by tracking the presence of a chemical compound. In comparison, most varieties of jalapeño peppers measure in the 2,500 to 5,000 range -- milder than the Naga Viper by a factor of 270.

You might think the Naga Viper would hail from some part of the world with a strong demand for spicy food, such as India or Mexico. But the new pepper is actually the handiwork of Gerald Fowler, a British chili farmer and pub owner, who crossed three of the hottest peppers known to man -- including the Bhut Jolokia -- to create his Frankenstein-monster chili.

"It's painful to eat," Fowler told the Daily Mail. "It's hot enough to strip paint." Indeed, the Daily Mail reports that defense researchers are already investigating the pepper's potential uses as a weapon.

But Fowler -- who makes customers sign a waiver declaring that they're of sound mind and body before trying a Naga Viper-based curry -- insists that consuming the fiery chili does the body good.

Read more at Yahoo! News

NASA Finds New Life

“NASA has discovered a new life form, a bacteria called GFAJ-1 that is unlike anything currently living in planet Earth. It’s capable of using arsenic to build its DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes. This changes everything.

NASA is saying that this is “life as we do not know it”. The reason is that all life on Earth is made of six components: Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

That was true until today. In a surprising revelation, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon and her team have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today, working differently than the rest of the organisms in the planet. Instead of using phosphorus, the newly discovered microorganism—called GFAJ-1 and found in Mono Lake, California—uses the poisonous arsenic for its building blocks. Arsenic is an element poisonous to every other living creature in the planet except for a few specialized microscopic creatures.

According to Wolfe Simon, they knew that “some microbes can breathe arsenic, but what we’ve found is a microbe doing something new—building parts of itself out of arsenic.” The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding organisms in other planets that don’t have to be like planet Earth. Like NASA’s Ed Weiler says: “The definition of life has just expanded.”"

Read more at Gizmodo

Man eats nothing but potatoes for two months

“Chris Voight, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission, set himself the task of cutting out all other foodstuffs for 60 days to prove the nutritional value of the starchy vegetable. His challenge was an attempt to prove to the US Government that the potato should remain a part of the school lunch programme, amid claims from the US Institute of Medicine that it should be replaced by other vegetables. For 60 days, the 45-year-old denied himself all foods except potatoes, seasoning such as salt and pepper, and a little oil to cook them in.

As he ended his trial at midnight on Monday, Mr Voight, denied that the experiment had damaged his health, claiming it had helped him lose 21 pounds and lower his cholesterol. He told the Today programme: “I absolutely feel great. I’ve always had lots of good energy on this diet, I’ve had no strange side effects, I sleep well at night. I just had my last medical exam today and it came back fabulous.” Such a diet may be enough to put most people off potatoes for life, but in his interview, recorded hours before the end of his diet, Mr Voight said the experience hadn’t deterred him in the slightest. He said: “Actually I plan on eating potatoes tomorrow, it’s just I’m planning on putting something on them and eating something with them, not just potatoes any more. “I want some salsa on some nice beef tacos with some grilled potatoes and maybe some ice cream and some milk.”

The only negative health impact Mr Voight would admit to suffering during his potato marathon was a deficiency in some fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A and E, but he added: “Luckily I was a little overweight so there was a natural store of a lot of those in me already.” He accepted, however, that eating nothing but potatoes was not a “sustainable diet”.”

Read more at The Telegraph

Weatherwatch: Snowflakes

“The first snowflakes of the season have arrived for many of us, and what beauties they are. Back in 1611 Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer, tore himself away from the stars for a while and admired snowflakes instead, noticing that almost every snowflake had six sides. He postulated that this was because it was the most efficient way for frozen moisture to pack together.

Despite not knowing about the existence of atoms and molecules, Kepler was thinking along the right lines. We now know that water molecules determine the shape of a snowflake, with the oxygen atoms usually arranging themselves in hexagonal layers. The average snowflake contains as many as 180bn molecules of water.

But not every snowflake has six sides. Thanks to “Snowflake Bentley” (Wilson A Bentley), who lived in Vermont in the US at the turn of the 19th century, we know that snowflakes can take on many shapes. He was the first to photograph a single snowflake crystal, and in his lifetime he took over 5,000 photos of snowflakes, categorising them into 80 types, including needles, columns and a wide variety of hexagonal forms.

As a result of his work, meteorologists were able to show that shape is determined by the weather conditions inside the cloud. Six pointed star snowflakes tend to form in the upper part of clouds, where temperatures are coldest. Lower in the cloud, where it is warmer, columns, needles and hexagonal plates can form too.”

Read more at The Guardian

Dec 2, 2010

Earth's Extreme Life Knows No Bounds

While Arsenic was not their first choice for a meal, the bactiera that Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon collected from the mud in Mono Lake not only managed to survive when cultured only on the toxic ingredient, they used the chemical as a cellular building block. In their natural environment these bacteria normally chow down on phosphorus salts.

For most organisms the similarity between phosphorus and arsenic leads to cellular death: the body mistakenly accepts arsenic, but then the chemical doesn't live up to the phosphorus standards and the biochemical cycle shuts down.

In the last decade, astrobiologists working at Mono Lake and other arsenic-laden environments have identified a growing list of bugs that can use arsenic as an energy source, but until now none had demonstrated the ability to live off the stuff. In the microbial world, this discovery is akin to finding a fish that can live happily in a bottle of Diet Coke.

The test pushes the boundaries for what life is capable of on Earth and how to define it. But it is perhaps not unexpected. Astrobiologists know there is much about life we don't know or understand, and that's what makes each new way of thinking about life so exciting.

The surprise discovery of ecosystems at hydrothermal vents in 1977, led to the search for extreme life across the planet. And the conclusion is life on Earth, anyway, is everywhere.

Biologists have "found life in hot black smokers at bottom of the sea, life in geysers, blind fish in caves, bacteria that live in the cooling ponds of nuclear reactors that have self-repairing dna; you have all of these extremeophiles but no one knows how life formed," says Malcolm Fridlund, astrophysicist with the European Space Agencey in Moordwijk, Holland. "We don’t know if life formed under tough conditions or under benign conidtions and then evolved to fill-in every niche."

These bacteria demonstrate that life is adaptable, and does not need to rely solely on the six elements that are traditionally consider necessary for life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus. If we can add arsenic to that list anything is possible.

Read more at Discovery News

Noah's Ark and Tower of Babel to be built at Kentucky amusement park

The planned complex is also expected to feature a walled city, a replica of the Tower of Babel and a recreation of a first-century Middle Eastern village.
There will also be a 500-capacity theatre, an aviary, and a "journey through biblical history" section.
The park is expected to open in 2014 and draw 1.6 million visitors a year.

It is likely to be built on an 800-acre site about 40 miles from an existing Creation Museum, near Cincinnati, Ohio, US.

Read more at The Telegraph

How to create temperatures below absolute zero

“ABSOLUTE zero sounds like an unbreachable limit beyond which it is impossible to explore. In fact there is a weird realm of negative temperatures that not only exists in theory, but has also proved accessible in practice. An improved way of getting there, outlined last week, could reveal new states of matter.

Temperature is defined by how the addition or removal of energy affects the amount of disorder, or entropy, in a system. For systems at familiar, positive temperatures, adding energy increases disorder: heating up an ice crystal makes it melt into a more disordered liquid, for example. Keep removing energy, and you will get closer and closer to zero on the absolute or kelvin scale (-273.15 °C), where the system’s energy and entropy are at a minimum.

Negative-temperature systems have the opposite behaviour. Adding energy reduces their disorder, and hence their temperature. But they are not cold in the conventional sense that heat will flow into them from systems at positive temperatures. In fact, systems with negative absolute temperatures contain more atoms in high-energy states than is possible even at the hottest positive temperatures, so heat should always flow from them to systems above zero kelvin.

Creating negative-temperature systems to see what other “bizarro world” properties they might have is tricky. It is certainly not done by cooling an object down to absolute zero. It is, however, possible to leap straight from positive to negative absolute temperatures.”

Read more at New Scientist

‘Trillions’ of Earths orbit red stars in older galaxies

“Astronomers say the Universe may contain three times the number of stars as is currently thought.

Their assessment is based on new observations showing other galaxies may have very different structures to our Milky Way galaxy.

The researchers tell the journal Nature that more stars probably means many more planets as well – perhaps “trillions” of Earth-like worlds.

The Yale University-led study used the Keck telescope in Hawaii.

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There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars”

Professor Pieter Van Dokkum
Yale University
It found that galaxies older than ours contain 20 times more red dwarf stars than more recent ones.

Red dwarfs are smaller and dimmer than our own Sun; it is only recently that telescopes have been powerful enough to detect them.

According to Yale’s Professor Pieter van Dokkum, who led the research, the discovery also increases the estimate for the number of planets in the Universe and therefore greatly increases the likelihood of life existing elsewhere in the cosmos.

“There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars,” he said. “Red dwarfs are typically more than 10 billion years old and so have been around long enough for complex life to evolve on planets around them. It’s one reason why people are interested in this type of star.”"

Read more at BBC News

Dec 1, 2010

Partial reversal of aging achieved in mice

“Harvard scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have for the first time partially reversed age-related degeneration in mice, resulting in new growth of the brain and testes, improved fertility, and the return of a lost cognitive function. In a report posted online by the journal Nature in advance of print publication, researchers led by Ronald A. DePinho, a Harvard Medical School (HMS) professor of genetics, said they achieved the milestone in aging science by engineering mice with a controllable telomerase gene. The telomerase enzyme maintains the protective caps called telomeres that shield the ends of chromosomes.

As humans age, low levels of telomerase are associated with progressive erosion of telomeres, which may then contribute to tissue degeneration and functional decline in the elderly. By creating mice with a telomerase switch, the researchers were able to generate prematurely aged mice. The switch allowed the scientists to find out whether reactivating telomerase in the animals would restore telomeres and mitigate the signs and symptoms of aging. The work showed a dramatic reversal of many aspects of aging, including reversal of brain disease and infertility.

While human applications remain in the future, the strategy might one day be used to treat conditions such as rare genetic premature aging syndromes in which shortened telomeres play an important role, said DePinho, senior author of the report and the director of Dana-Farber’s Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science. “Whether this would impact on normal aging is a more difficult question,” he added. “But it is notable that telomere loss is associated with age-associated disorders and thus restoration of telomeres could alleviate such decline.” The first author is Mariela Jaskelioff, a research fellow in medicine in DePinho’s laboratory.”

Read more at Harvard Science

Dinosaurs and David Attenborough at the Natural History Museum

“One moment you’re being guided through the basics of evolution by the comforting presence of Sir David Attenborough, the next, a dinosaur prances across the empty space in front of you.

The magic is augmented reality, a technology that blends CGI graphics and a live video stream. The Natural History Museum is claiming it as a first for any museum.

The new interactive film Who Do You Think You Really Are? opens to the public today and takes the audience on a journey back through their evolutionary past. As well as the animated Coelophysis, other stars of the show include Homo erectus strolling along a virtual catwalk, and an intricate tree of life with roots sprawling from the lighting rig to the floor.

Each seat in the Attenborough Studio is fitted with its own handheld touchscreen computer. A specially built kid-proof orange iPad if you like – robust enough to be dropped on the floor several times a day.

These “windows into the past” allow you to rotate a human skull, compare strands of DNA and play with an elephant’s milk tooth. They even take your picture, which is then instantly splashed on the screens around the auditorium. As if that weren’t enough, you can tap in your email address to continue the quest to find out how closely related we are to bananas back at home or in the classroom.

“We wanted to use a whole arsenal of media and technologies,” says Alisa Barry, executive producer of the film, “We have peppered the studio with infra-red. This allows the camera in the handheld computers to track movements and position the animation correctly.”

It’s always a challenge to keep teenagers entertained and focused for 45 minutes, so how did they react to the first screening? “They loved it,” says Barry. “They laughed in the right places, but were also very quiet, even telling each other to shhhhhh at some points. I’m very relieved!”

Sir David may the best science teacher you could ever hope to have, but even he can’t stop teenagers bursting into fits of giggles at the mere mention of Homo erectus.”

Read more at The Guardian

Without a guide humans walk in circles

“Scientists have confirmed the popular belief that without anything to guide them humans really do walk in circles. It suggests we shouldn’t trust our senses when lost. The research, originally commissioned by a popular science TV program in Germany, is published in the journal Current Biology.

Psychologist and author Dr Jan Souman, of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, says it’s well known that people can walk in a straight line if they are in a known environment. “But I was trying to simulate what happens when you get lost and try to find your way out,” he says. Souman conducted his experiments in a forest in Germany and parts of the Sahara Desert in Tunisia.

Volunteers were dropped off, in either the desert or forest, and shown which direction to walk towards, he says. ‘They walked for about four hours.” Souman says those people walking in the forest, on a day when the sun was visible, were able to use it as a guide. “They walked basically perfectly straight,” he says. But when the sun disappeared, Souman says, the volunteers walked in circles.

Souman says in the desert volunteers walking when the sun was visible didn’t walk in a straight line, but instead veered slightly to the left or right. “This is probably because in the desert there is nothing to give you a reference.” He says at night, without the assistance of the moon, the volunteers didn’t walk in exact circles either. “One guy turned completely back around on himself so he was going the opposite way he started.”"

Read more at ABC

Nov 30, 2010

Journey to the edge of the universe

National Geographic presents the first accurate non-stop voyage from Earth to the edge of the Universe using a single, unbroken shot through the use of spectacular CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) technology. Building on images taken from the Hubble telescope, Journey to the Edge of the Universe explores the science and history behind the distant celestial bodies in the solar system.

This spectacular, epic voyage across the cosmos, takes us from the Earth, past the Moon and our neighboring planets, out of our Solar System, to the nearest stars, nebulae and galaxies and beyond – right to the edge of the Universe itself. When you finish this video, you will walk away from it with an awareness that you never had before, of the unseen astronomically massive universe that we float around on like a spec of dust in the ocean.

This video takes you on a journey through the universe as if you are watching a Sci Fi adventure. Yet you constantly have to remind yourself that what you’re seeing is really out there.

Here’s the full documentary below:

The surreal treehoppers

Martin Kemp describes Keller’s work:

“Keller was trained as a kunstschmied, an ‘art blacksmith’. From 1930 until his early death he was employed by the Berlin Museum für Naturkunde (Museum of Natural History), painstakingly labouring over his recreations of insects and their larvae. Each took a year to complete. Keller worked first in plasticine, from which he cast a model in plaster. This plaster reference model he then recast in papier maché. Some details he added, cast in wax, with wings and bristles in celluloid and galalith (an early plastic material used in jewellery). Finally he coloured the surfaces, sometimes with additional gilding. The levels of patience and manual control Keller exercised were incredible. His fly, for example, boasts 2,653 bristles.

. . . Keller was a sculptor of monumental one-off portraits. Each model is a masterpiece, with no effort spared. It is difficult to see how such a skilled artisan could survive in today’s museums, with their emphasis on cost analysis. Keller’s exacting models may be things of the past, yet they are far from obsolete. Like the great habitat dioramas, they exercise a magnetic attraction.

The first thing a biologist does on seeing a model like this is think, “This can’t be real,” and resorts to some Googling. Sure enough, it’s a real insect. Here are two photos:”

Read more at Why Evolution Is True

3D printing offers ability to print physical objects

“As Christmas fast approaches, millions will opt to spare themselves the crowded high street and instead settle down in front of the computer and do their shopping there. Yet buying online has always had one key disadvantage: you have to wait. Not only that, but the inability to touch a product, try it on, feel how heavy it is or do anything else you would do on your typical high street excursion prevents online shopping being the perfect experience. But technology is now coming online that could allow you to receive your goods straight away. As the cost of 3D printing hardware begins to drop, bespoke, printable products may be about to hit the market.

Freedom of Creation is a design and research company exploring the capabilities of what, in the industry, is known as rapid prototyping. Janne Kyttanen is the company’s founder and creative director. “Imagine the potential of this for the fashion industry,” he told Digital Planet on the BBC World Service. “I can measure your body, in 3D, and I can make you perfectly fitting garments in the future without any sewing and stitching, making the needle and the thread obsolete.” His company is now producing products for companies including Asics, Tommy Hilfiger and Hyundai.

Away from the fashion world, 3D printing has many applications for the developing world. The ability to produce specially designed objects from a computer offers exciting possibilities for making vital tools in poorer, hard to reach areas. One scheme that is looking to capitalise in the technology is RepRap, short for Replicating Rapid Prototyping, which offers a cheap way of replicating objects – including the printer itself. “It’s a 3D printer that prints out a kit of parts for another 3D printer,” explained Dr Adrian Bowyer from the University of Bath.”

Read more at BBC News

100 Recycled Bicycles = 1 Weird Christmas Tree

“Most Christmas trees are already green, but this environmentally friendly holiday display in Sydney takes the concept to a new level: It’s made of bicycles that were destined for the recycling yard.

The bicycle tree, dubbed the “Tree-Cycle,” is made of 100 old bikes donated by a local recycling company. The bike frames were spray-painted tree green, while the tires were given a multi-colored makeover to make them look like holiday lights.

And if you thought you spent a lot of time putting up your tree, consider this: It took eight weeks to build the 23-foot-tall Tree-Cycle, which is on display at The Rocks, one of the city’s prime tourist and shopping districts.

Even the “star” at the top of the tree is made of bicycle parts — look closely, and you’ll see it’s really just a series of front forks and tires sticking out in each direction.

It’s at least the third year in a row that the Rocks has featured a tree made of recycled or recyclable objects.

Last year’s Christmas centerpiece was made of bottles, while the 2008 effort was a tree-shaped pile of chairs.”

Read more at AOL News

Nov 29, 2010

Same Face May Look Male or Female, Depending on Where It Appears in a Person’s Field of View

“Neuroscientists at MIT and Harvard have made the surprising discovery that the brain sees some faces as male when they appear in one area of a person’s field of view, but female when they appear in a different location.

The findings challenge a longstanding tenet of neuroscience — that how the brain sees an object should not depend on where the object is located relative to the observer, says Arash Afraz, a postdoctoral associate at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and lead author of a new paper on the work. “It’s the kind of thing you would not predict — that you would look at two identical faces and think they look different,” says Afraz. He and two colleagues from Harvard, Patrick Cavanagh and Maryam Vaziri Pashkam, described their findings in the Nov. 24 online edition of the journal Current Biology.

In the real world, the brain’s inconsistency in assigning gender to faces isn’t noticeable, because there are so many other clues: hair and clothing, for example. But when people view computer-generated faces, stripped of all other gender-identifying features, a pattern of biases, based on location of the face, emerges. The researchers showed subjects a random series of faces, ranging along a spectrum of very male to very female, and asked them to classify the faces by gender. For the more androgynous faces, subjects rated the same faces as male or female, depending on where they appeared.

Study participants were told to fix their gaze at the center of the screen, as faces were flashed elsewhere on the screen for 50 milliseconds each. Assuming that the subjects sat about 22 inches from the monitor, the faces appeared to be about three-quarters of an inch tall. The patterns of male and female biases were different for different people. That is, some people judged androgynous faces as female every time they appeared in the upper right corner, while others judged faces in that same location as male. Subjects also showed biases when judging the age of faces, but the pattern for age bias was independent from the pattern for gender bias in each individual.”

Read more at Science Daily

Stealing the Mystic Lamb – The story of the world’s most coveted masterpiece

Many of you may be forgiven for thinking that the above image is actually a sculpture, well you’d be wrong. It’s painted by an artist known as Jan van Eyck and is considered by many to be one of the most important paintings in history. The awe inspiring lighting, composition and photorealism of this piece isn’t just incredible for it’s life like qualities. It is in fact because it was painted nearly 600 years ago and since then has had a dark history that can’t be rivalled by many other works.

So other than the craftsmanship and age of the piece – why is this painting so important? Well, The Ghent Altarpiece is the most frequently stolen artwork of all time. Since its completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has disappeared, been looted in three different wars, been burned, dismembered, copied, forged, smuggled, illegally sold, censored, attacked by iconoclasts, hidden castle vaults and secret salt mines, hunted by Nazis and Napoleon, prized by The Louvre and a Prussian king, damaged by conservators, returned as war reparations, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by Austrian double-agents, and stolen a total of thirteen times.

Stealing the Mystic Lamb is the incredible tale behind the deception, fraud and scammers who throughout history have done whatever they feel necessary to obtain it.

Available at Amazon now.

Nov 28, 2010

A Card Trick Leads To A New Mathematical Bound On Data Compression

“A complicated card trick that deals with the colors of the cards and a binary De Bruijn cycle has helped a mathematician reach a new bound on data compression. Magic and math, more friendly than you’d think!

Here’s how the trick works: You hand your friend a deck of cards and ask them to draw six cards (in order) and name the colors. With that sequence of colors, you can immediately name the exact cards that have been drawn. How? Because each color sequence is unique and appears only once throughout the deck (after pre-arranging it to be so), so if you have an insane memory, you’ll know which cards correspond to the sequence.

According to Travis Gagie from the University of Chile in Santiago, the trick is closely related to data compression:

“Gagie achieves this new [mathematical] bound by considering a related trick. Instead of pre-arranging the cards, you shuffle the pack and then ask your friend to draw seven cards. He or she then lists the cards’ colours, replaces them in the pack and cuts the deck. You then examine the deck and say which cards were drawn. This time you’re relying on probability to get the right answer. “It is not hard to show that the probability of two septuples of cards having the same colours in the same order is at most 1/128,”
This turns out to be closely related to various problems of data compression and leads to a lower bound than has been found by any other means.”"

Read more at Gizmodo

Gold Nanoparticles Could Transform Trees Into Street Lights

“Street lights are an important part of our urban infrastructure — they light our way home and make the roads safe at night. But what if we could create natural street lights that don’t need electricity to power them? A group of scientists in Taiwan recently discovered that placing gold nanoparticles within the leaves of trees, causes them to give off a luminous reddish glow. The idea of using trees to replace street lights is an ingenious one – not only would it save on electricity costs and cut CO2 emissions, but it could also greatly reduce light pollution in major cities.

The discovery came about accidentally after the scientists were looking for a way to create high-efficiency lighting similar to LED technology, but without using toxic chemicals such as phosphor powder. Speaking about the development, Professor Shih-Hui Chang said, “Light emitting diode (LED) has replaced traditional light source in many display panels and street lights on the road. A lot of light emitting diode, especially white light emitting diode, uses phosphor powder to stimulate light of different wavelengths. However, phosphor powder is highly toxic and its price is expensive. As a result, Dr. Yen-Hsun Wu had the idea to discover a method that is less toxic to replace phosphor powder. This is a major motivation for him to engage in the research at the first place.”

By implanting the gold nanoparticles into the leaves of the Bacopa caroliniana plants, the scientists were able to induce the chlorophyll in the leaves to produce a red emission. Under a high wavelength of ultraviolet light, the gold nanoparticles were able to produce a blue-violet fluorescence to trigger a red emission in the surrounding chlorophyll.”

Read more at Inhabitat

The cloned animals that caused controversy

Dolly the sheep

The arrival of Dolly signalled a landmark in genetic technology, demonstrating that scientists could reverse cellular time by converting an adult sheep's cell into an embryo, which was then grown into a new sheep.

Her birth prompted a raging debate about the ethics and ramifications of cloning, with one writer claiming that Dolly "looks at you with those intense red eyes – eyes full of hate".

The ethical arguments against animal cloning were strengthened when she was put down in 2003 after contracting lung disease. She had been plagued by health problems and was also suffering from premature arthritis.

Cumulina the mouse
Cumulina was the first of more than 50 identical mice, spanning three generations, which were created at the University of Hawaii in 1998.

She was named Cumulina because she was created from the DNA of cumulus cells, which surround developing eggs in female mice's ovaries.

Cumulina was the first animal cloned from adult cells that survived to adulthood, and produced two healthy litters.

Noah the gaur
Noah the gaur – a southeast Asian species of wild cattle similar to bison – represented the first attempt by scientists to clone an endangered animal.

Scientists in America hoped to take a huge step in the fight to protect endangered species by having a cloned gaur born to an ordinary cow on a farm in Iowa.

However, Noah died soon after he was born in 2001.

CC the cat
CC, or Carbon Copy, was born in 2001, making her the first domestic pet to be cloned.

Scientists hoped that creating a carbon copy of the cat could offer millions of pet owners the chance to resurrect beloved family pets.

However, while Rainbow – the original cat – was a heavily built white cat with brown, tan and gold spots, CC was slender with a white coat and stripes of grey. in addition, the cats had wildly differing personalities – while Rainbow was reserved, CC was playful.

Read more at The Telegraph

34 minutes - the time it takes for new shoes to pinch

Researchers have found that once they have stepped out of the taxi and into a pub or club, they survive just over half an hour before their feet start to

Four in ten said they take a spare pair of pumps 'out of habit' to change into because they know their shoes will rub.
And more than half have ended up walking home bare-foot, while one in ten have abandoned their shoes altogether or borrowed someone else's.

But a survey of 4,000 women revealed a determined one fifth said the prospect of aching feet would not put them off wearing a pair of killer heels.

Erika Gibbins, podiatrist for shoe insert Insolia, said: ''So many women will be able to relate to these findings, as they've been victims of painful shoes, but persevere with them in the name of fashion.

''It's ridiculous that so many nights out are spoilt so quickly by painful shoes and it doesn't have to be this way.
''The fact the nation's women are resorting to taking a second pair of shoes, and walking home barefoot means they need to do something so they can get to enjoy nights out and not worry about their feet.''

The average woman has suffered from foot pain on at least six occasions in the last 12 months.

One in ten have been carried home, while a third have deliberately chosen bars with stools to keep the weight off their feet.

Yet half said they own a pair of killer heels which hurt to wear but put up with the pain because they look great, and three in ten have worn an uncomfortable pair to prove a point to their partner.

The nationwide poll of women aged 18 to 65 found the average woman currently owns 18 pairs, typically spent £35 on each purchase and has a hoard totalling £630.

But eight in ten said they have nine pairs of shoes in their cupboard they have never worn or donned just once or twice

They also have another four pairs they deem 'too uncomfortable to wear'.

That means shoe-addicts have at least £315 worth that have never seen the light of day.

Read more at The Telegraph