Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for February 1st, 2010

Growing cartilage — no easy task

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

http://www.eorthopod.com/images/ContentImages/arthritis/arthritis_general/arthritis_general_arthritis.jpgNew nanoscopic material enables cartilage to do what it doesn’t do naturally

Northwestern University researchers are the first to design a bioactive nanomaterial that promotes the growth of new cartilage in vivo and without the use of expensive growth factors. Minimally invasive, the therapy activates the bone marrow stem cells and produces natural cartilage. No conventional therapy can do this.

The results will be published online the week of Feb. 1 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“Unlike bone, cartilage does not grow back, and therefore clinical strategies to regenerate this tissue are of great interest,” said Samuel I. Stupp, senior author, Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and Medicine, and director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. Countless people — amateur athletes, professional athletes and people whose joints have just worn out — learn this all too well when they bring their bad knees, shoulders and elbows to an orthopaedic surgeon.

Damaged cartilage can lead to joint pain and loss of physical function and eventually to osteoarthritis, a disorder with an estimated economic impact approaching $65 billion in the United States. With an aging and increasingly active population, this figure is expected to grow.

“Cartilage does not regenerate in adults. Once you are fully grown you have all the cartilage you’ll ever have,” said first author Ramille N. Shah, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Shah is also a resident faculty member at the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine.

Type II collagen is the major protein in articular cartilage, the smooth, white connective tissue that covers the ends of bones where they come together to form joints.

“Our material of nanoscopic fibers stimulates stem cells present in bone marrow to produce cartilage containing type II collagen and repair the damaged joint,” Shah said. “A procedure called microfracture is the most common technique currently used by doctors, but it tends to produce a cartilage having predominantly type I collagen which is more like scar tissue.”

The Northwestern gel is injected as a liquid to the area of the damaged joint, where it then self-assembles and forms a solid. This extracellular matrix, which mimics what cells usually see, binds by molecular design one of the most important growth factors for the repair and regeneration of cartilage. By keeping the growth factor concentrated and localized, the cartilage cells have the opportunity to regenerate.

Together with Nirav A. Shah, a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon and former orthopaedic resident at Northwestern, the researchers implanted their nanofiber gel in an animal model with cartilage defects.

The animals were treated with microfracture, where tiny holes are made in the bone beneath the damaged cartilage to create a new blood supply to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. The researchers tested various combinations: microfracture alone; microfracture and the nanofiber gel with growth factor added; and microfracture and the nanofiber gel without growth factor added.

They found their technique produced much better results than the microfracture procedure alone and, more importantly, found that addition of the expensive growth factor was not required to get the best results. Instead, because of the molecular design of the gel material, growth factor already present in the body is enough to regenerate cartilage.

The matrix only needed to be present for a month to produce cartilage growth. The matrix, based on self-assembling molecules known as peptide amphiphiles, biodegrades into nutrients and is replaced by natural cartilage.

EurekAlert! Public News List.

Posted in Biology, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Computer model demonstrates that white roofs may successfully cool cities

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

painting white roofsPainting the roofs of buildings white has the potential to significantly cool cities and mitigate some impacts of global warming, a new study indicates. The new NCAR-led research suggests there may be merit to an idea advanced by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu that white roofs can be an important tool to help society adjust to climate change.

But the study team, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), cautions that there are still many hurdles between the concept and actual use of white roofs to counteract rising temperatures.

“Our research demonstrates that white roofs, at least in theory, can be an effective method for reducing urban heat,” says NCAR scientist Keith Oleson, the lead author of the study. “It remains to be seen if it’s actually feasible for cities to paint their roofs white, but the idea certainly warrants further investigation.”

The study is slated for publication later this winter in Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor.

Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they are warmer than outlying rural areas. Asphalt roads, tar roofs, and other artificial surfaces absorb heat from the Sun, creating an urban heat island effect that can raise temperatures on average by 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1-3 degrees Celsius) or more compared to rural areas. White roofs would reflect some of that heat back into space and cool temperatures, much as wearing a white shirt on a sunny day can be cooler than wearing a dark shirt.

The study team used a newly developed computer model to simulate the amount of solar radiation that is absorbed or reflected by urban surfaces. The model simulations, which provide scientists with an idealized view of different types of cities around the world, indicate that, if every roof were entirely painted white, the urban heat island effect could be reduced by 33 percent. This would cool the world’s cities by an average of about 0.7 degrees F, with the cooling influence particularly pronounced during the day, especially in summer.

The authors emphasize that their research should be viewed as a hypothetical look at typical city landscapes rather than the actual rooftops of any one city. In the real world, the cooling impact might be somewhat less because dust and weathering would cause the white paint to darken over time and parts of roofs would remain unpainted because of openings such as heating and cooling vents.

In addition, white roofs would have the effect of cooling temperatures within buildings. …

via Computer model demonstrates that white roofs may successfully cool cities | UCAR.

Posted in Alt Energy | 2 Comments »

Stem cells rescue nerve cells by direct contact

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

http://www.topnews.in/health/files/brainCell-die.jpgScientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have shown how transplanted stem cells can connect with and rescue threatened neurons and brain tissue. The results point the way to new possible treatments for brain damage and neurodegenerative diseases.

A possible strategy for treating neurodegenerative diseases is to transplant stem cells into the brain that prevent existing nerve cells from dying. The method has proved successful in different models, but the mechanisms behind it are still unknown. According to one hypothesis, the stem cells mature into fully-mature neurons that communicate with the threatened brain tissue; according to another, the stem cells secrete various growth factors that affect the host neurons.

The new report, co-authored by several international research groups and lead by Karolinska Institutet, shows that stem cells transplanted into damaged or threatened nerve tissue quickly establish direct channels, called gap junctions, to the nerve cells. Stem cells actively bring diseased neurons back from the brink via cross-talk through gap junctions, the connections between cells that allow molecular signals to pass back and forth. The study found that the nerve cells were prevented from dying only when these gap junctions were formed. The results were obtained from mice and human stem cells in cultivated brain tissue, and from a series of rodent models for human neurodegenerative diseases and acute brain injuries.

“Many different molecules can be transported through gap junctions,” says Eric Herlenius, who led the study. “This means that a new door to the possible future treatment of neuronal damage has been opened, both figuratively and literally.”

via Stem cells rescue nerve cells by direct contact.

Posted in Biology | 1 Comment »

Small satellite will study mysterious terrestrial gamma-ray flashes

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

NASA scientists are about to launch the first dedicated survy of gamma-ray flashes, events in the Earth’s atomsphere which have been a mystery for more than 15 years.

Known as terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs, these phenomena seem to have a connection with lightning.

They’re called Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes, or TGFs, and very little is known about them. They seem to have a connection with lightning, but TGFs themselves are something entirely different.

Right: An artist’s concept of TGFs. Credit: NASA/Robert Kilgore [more]

“In fact,” says Doug Rowland of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “before the 1990s nobody knew they even existed. And yet they’re the most potent natural particle accelerators on Earth.”

Individual particles in a TGF acquire a huge amount of energy, sometimes in excess of 20 mega-electron volts (MeV). In contrast, the colorful auroras that light up the skies at high latitudes are powered by particles with less than one thousandth as much energy.

At this stage, there are more questions about TGFs than answers. What causes these high-energy flashes? Do they help trigger lightning–or does lightning trigger them? Could they be responsible for some of the high-energy particles in the Van Allen radiation belts, which can damage satellites? To investigate, Rowland and his colleagues at GSFC, Siena College, Universities Space Research Association, and the Hawk Institute for Space Sciences are planning to launch a tiny, football-sized satellite called Firefly in 2010 or 2011. Because of its small size, Firefly will cost less than $1 million — about 100 times cheaper than what satellite missions normally cost. Part of the cost savings comes from launching Firefly under the National Science Foundation’s CubeSat program, which launches small satellites as “stowaways” aboard rockets carrying larger satellites into space, rather than requiring dedicated rocket launches.

If successful, Firefly will return the first simultaneous measurements of TGFs and lightning. Most of what’s known about TGFs to date has been learned from missions meant to observe gamma rays coming from deep space, such as NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which discovered TGFs in 1994. As it stared out into space, Compton caught fleeting glimpses of gamma rays out of the corner of its eye, so to speak. The powerful flashes were coming–surprise!–from Earth’s atmosphere.

Subsequent data from Compton and other space telescopes have provided a tantalizingly incomplete picture of how TGFs occur:

In the skies above a thunderstorm, powerful electric fields generated by the storm stretch upward for many miles into the upper atmosphere. These electric fields accelerate free electrons, whisking them to speeds approaching the speed of light. When these ultra-high speed electrons collide with molecules in the air, the collisions release high-energy gamma rays as well as more electrons, setting up a cascade of collisions and perhaps more TGFs.

Right: Doug Rowland, principal investigator for Firefly stands next to the a life-sized model of the tiny satellite. Credit: NASA/Pat Izzo

To the eye, a TGF probably wouldn’t look like much. Unlike lightning, most of a TGF’s energy is released as invisible gamma rays, not visible light. They don’t produce colorful bursts of light like sprites and other lightning-related phenomena. Nevertheless, these unseen eruptions could help explain why brilliant lightning strikes occur.

A longstanding mystery about lightning is how a strike gets started. Scientists know that the turbulence inside a thundercloud separates electric charge, building up enormous voltages. But the voltage needed to ionize air and generate a spark is about 10 times greater than the voltage typically found inside storm clouds.

“We know how the clouds charge up,” Rowland says, “we just don’t know how they discharge. That is the mystery.”

TGFs could provide that spark. By generating a quick burst of electron flow, TGFs might help lightning strikes get started, Rowland suggests. “Perhaps this phenomenon is why we have lightning,” he says.

- nasa.gov (Author: Patrick Barry)

Interesting how NASA and COSMOS magazine have a special relationship. It seems they can both put out essentially the same article when one person at COSMOS is the editor of a NASA article. Comare this COSMOS article: Tiny ‘Firefly’ satellite to study terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, Monday, 1 February 2010, by Tony Phillips  and Firefly Mission to Study Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes – Nasa.gov (attributed to author Patrick Barry) written a few days before on 01.29.2010. Pretty much the same wording. I guess they both wrote the article so they can both use it, once for the US government and once for an Australian for-profit magazine. Neat set up.


Posted in Earth, Radiation, Space, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Unexplained: all cows, everywhere, simultaneously face north (or south) while eating

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

… Have you ever noticed anything peculiar about cows when they eat? No? Well, neither did anyone else until some German scientists started looking at satellite photos of cows using the high tech wonder-software known as “Google Earth.” It turns out that all cows, everywhere, simultaneously face north (or south) while eating.

Scientists have a pretty good idea how they do this; like most every other animal on Earth that isn’t a human, cows (and deer and sheep) can detect the planet’s magnetic fields, so well in fact that power lines [screw] up their feeding. The big question is why in hell do they bother?

via 6 Creepy Animal Behaviors That Science Can’t Explain | Cracked.com.

Have you ever noticed that herds of grazing animals all face the same way?

Images from Google Earth have confirmed that cattle tend to align their bodies in a north-south direction.

Wild deer also display this behaviour – a phenomenon that has apparently gone unnoticed by herdsmen and hunters for thousands of years.

In the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, scientists say the Earth’s magnetic fields may influence the behaviour of these animals.

The Earth can be viewed as a huge magnet, with magnetic north and south situated close to the geographical poles.

Many species – including birds and salmon – are known to use the Earth’s magnetic fields in migration, rather like a natural GPS.

A few studies have shown that some mammals – including bats – also use a “magnetic compass” to help their sense of direction.

Dr Sabine Begall, from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, has mainly studied the magnetic sense of mole rats – African animals that live in underground tunnels.

“We were wondering if larger animals also have this magnetic sense,” she told BBC News. …

Professor John Phillips, a sensory biologist from Virginia Tech University, US, commented that this sixth magnetic sense might be “virtually ubiquitous in the animal kingdom”. – bbc

Posted in Biology, Strange | 6 Comments »

Jason Mraz wins first two GRAMMY awards

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

Jason Mraz wins first two GrammysLamb of God and Trey Songz didn’t get to bring home the gold, but Mechanicsville’s Jason Mraz was a mini Grammy darling, claiming two of music’s most prestigious prizes.

Mraz, who lives in San Diego, won his first-ever trophies for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Make it Mine” and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Lucky,” his duet with Colbie Caillat, during the Grammy pre-show yesterday.

“We’re elated,” said Mraz’s mom, June Tomes, who watched the pre-show online in Richmond. “To win both his categories, it’s amazing. He’s worked very hard.”

Mraz, who was not present at the early portion of the show, attended the evening ceremony with his father, Tom, who also lives in Mechanicsville.

- richmondtimesdispatch

Posted in - Video, Music | Leave a Comment »

U.S. deploys land and sea-based missile shield in the Gulf to deter attack from Iran

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

missile shieldThe U.S. has retaliated to what it sees as Iran’s growing missile threat by deploying a land and sea-based missile shield to protect American allies in the Gulf, officials said.

Barack Obama is dispatching land-based Patriot defensive missile installations in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain, as well as keeping two U.S. Navy ships with missile defence systems in and around the Mediterranean.

Officials said the move is aimed at deterring an attack by Iran, but it is likely to dramatically increase tensions between the U.S. and Iran after negotiations failed to persuade Tehran to open its nuclear installations to international controls.

A senior administration official told the New York Times: ‘Our first goal is to deter the Iranians. A second is to reassure the Arab states, so they don’t feel they have to go nuclear themselves.

‘But there is certainly an element of calming the Israelis as well.’

General David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command responsible for military operations across the Middle East, said this month that eight Patriot missile batteries had been stationed in four Gulf countries, which he did not identify.

The build-up began under the Bush administration, but has expanded under President Obama, who is pushing for a new round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear enrichment programme.

Officials said the expansion was meant to increase the protection for U.S. forces and key allies in the Gulf.

Washington is also concerned with the threat of action from Israel, which has said it will not let Tehran come close to building a nuclear missile if diplomacy fails.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month the Pentagon must have military options ready to counter Iran should Mr Obama call for them. …

via U.S. deploys land and sea-based missile shield in the Gulf to deter attack from Iran | Mail Online.

Posted in Politics, War | Leave a Comment »

Ten American Christians arrested in Haiti trying to take 33 orphans out of the country

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

Haiti arrestsArrested: Eight of the accused, including leader Laura Silsby, second from right, at police headquarters in Port-au-Prince

Ten Americans have been arrested after allegedly trying to smuggle 33 children out of earthquake-stricken Haiti.

The Baptist church group claimed they were on a mission to rescue orphans of the disaster.

But last night the Haitian authorities accused the group of child trafficking and ‘abduction’.

They said the five men and five women had no paperwork authorising them to take the children, who are aged between two months and 12 years, across the border into the Dominican Republic.

The group, from the Idaho-based charity New Life Children’s Refuge, were stopped at Malpasse, Haiti’s main border crossing, after police conducted a search of their bus.

Officers said they were arrested because they did not have proof that the youngsters – many of whom were sick and dehydrated – were orphans.

And they pointed out that although the leader of the detained group claimed to be taking the children to an orphanage, the building is still in the planning stages.

Prime Minister of Haiti Max Bellerive said yesterday he was outraged by the group’s ‘illegal trafficking of children’ in a country long afflicted by the problem.

But some parents say they would part with their children if it would mean a better life.

Adonis Helman, 44, one of some 20 Haitian parents interviewed at a tent camp yesterday said: ‘Some parents I know have already given their children to foreigners.’

‘I’ve been thinking how I will choose which one I may give – probably my youngest.’

The arrests will renew concerns about child abduction, which has blighted Haiti for years. Even before the 7.0 earthquake struck on January 12, killing as many as 200,000, around 2,000 youngsters were believed to be being taken from the streets each year.

Aid groups say 500,000 children have either been made homeless or are in orphanages following the quake, and that rumours of child trafficking are circulating. In response, Haiti’s government has imposed strict controls on adoptions amid fears traffickers could exploit the current chaos.

Although hundreds of children have been flown to the U.S. to meet new parents, most were already in the process of being adopted before the disaster.

The 33 children, aged between 2 months to 12 years, have been taken to an orphanage run by Austrian-based SOS Children’s Villages, which is trying to find their parents or close relatives.

A spokesman said: ‘One child, an eight-year-old, said she thought she was going to some sort of summer camp in the Dominican Republic.

‘She was crying, and saying, “I am not an orphan. I still have my parents”.’

via Ten American Christians arrested in Haiti trying to take 33 orphans out of the country | Mail Online.

Probably the work of Satan. Yup, just as I suspected:

In Idaho, the Rev. Clint Henry denied that his Central Valley Baptist Church had anything to do with child trafficking and said he didn’t believe such reports. He urged his tearful congregation to pray to God to “help them as they seek to resist the accusations of Satan and the lies that he would want them to believe and the fears that he would want to plant into their heart.” – cbsnews

But seriously, it will be interesting to hear their side of the story.

Posted in Crime, Religion, Strange, Survival | Leave a Comment »

HAARP has deleted its records from 2010-1-11

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

A very unusual deletion can be observed in the archived data of HAARP instrument readings from the day before the Haiti earthquake.

Perhaps it is a matter of time until it will get fixed with a simple copy-paste operation, but I have made screen shots of it).

Set the date in “Chart Archives” below the today’s graph to 2001/Jan/11 in the window below the graph and see for your selves. It is the only instance of such an occurrence I have discovered by looking through other historical dates. Perhaps some other deletions have already been fixed, I can think of date like May 12th 2008 or December 26th 2004.

via HAARP has deleted its records from 2010-1-11.

Posted in Earth, Strange, Technology | 3 Comments »

New “Destroyer” Dinosaur Found, Was T. Rex Relative

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2010

The skull of a new tyrannosaur.A 29-foot-long (9-meter-long) “destroyer” dinosaur once reigned over the Wild West, according to a new study of a fossil T. rex relative found in New Mexico.

Two nearly complete skeletons of the new species, Bistahieversor sealeyi—eversor means “destroyer” in Latin—were discovered in the desolate badlands of New Mexico’s Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness.

A “teenager’s” skeleton was found between 1989 and 1990, and an adult was unearthed in 1998, researchers say. The fossils had been on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History until recently, so scientists hadn’t previously had a chance to study the remains.

Discovering that B. sealeyi is a primitive Tyrannosaurus rex relative—and, like T. rex, part of a group called the tyrannosauroids—is a “big deal,” said study co-author Thomas Carr, director of the Carthage College Institute of Paleontology in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“In and of itself, a relatively complete dinosaur from 75 million years ago in New Mexico is not common,” he said. But “it’s doubly rare to have a predator like this.”

(See pictures of bizarre dinosaurs.)

Dinosaur Development

Scant tyrannosauroid teeth and scraps of bone had previously been found in the Southwest. But they all had come from tyrannosauroid species known to live in the northern Rocky Mountain region.

But B. sealeyi is a completely new species, found nowhere else—proving that the Southwest had its own top predator stalking the tropical forests and rivers of the late Cretaceous period.

When Carr first heard a new tyrannosauroid fossil had been found, “I was very excited, because I knew that if it was complete, we would actually finally know tyrannosauroids were living in the Southwest,” he said.

What’s more, finding the teenaged B. sealeyi skeleton and partial skull gives the scientists “a really unique snapshot of the biological development of this particular dinosaur,” he said.

For instance, the team found that a hole above the adult’s eyes—one of many air sacs common in tyrannosaur skulls—was not present in the young dinosaur’s skeleton.

This suggests that the hole developed in adulthood, he said, although scientists aren’t sure what the hole’s function might have been.

B. sealeyi also had a deep snout like T. rex, though the two species are not closely related, Carr said.

via New “Destroyer” Dinosaur Found, Was T. Rex Relative.

Perhaps T. Rex was a shape shifter and this was one of its forms.

Posted in Archaeology, Biology | Leave a Comment »

 
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