Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for April 21st, 2011

Gut Bacteria Divide People Into 3 Types, Scientists Report

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

In the early 1900s, scientists discovered that each person belonged to one of four blood types. Now they have discovered a new way to classify humanity: by bacteria. Each human being is host to thousands of different species of microbes. Yet a group of scientists now report just three distinct ecosystems in the guts of people they have studied.

Blood type, meet bug type.

“It’s an important advance,” said Rob Knight, a biologist at the University of Colorado, who was not involved in the research. “It’s the first indication that human gut ecosystems may fall into distinct types.”

The researchers, led by Peer Bork of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, found no link between what they called enterotypes and the ethnic background of the European, American and Japanese subjects they studied.

Nor could they find a connection to sex, weight, health or age. They are now exploring other explanations. One possibility is that the guts, or intestines, of infants are randomly colonized by different pioneering species of microbes.

The microbes alter the gut so that only certain species can follow them.

Whatever the cause of the different enterotypes, they may end up having discrete effects on people’s health. Gut microbes aid in food digestion and synthesize vitamins, using enzymes our own cells cannot make. …

Dr. Bork and his colleagues have found that each of the types makes a unique balance of these enzymes. Enterotype 1 produces more enzymes for making vitamin B7 (also known as biotin), for example, and Enterotype 2 more enzymes for vitamin B1 (thiamine).

The discovery of the blood types A, B, AB and O had a major effect on how doctors practice medicine. They could limit the chances that a patient’s body would reject a blood transfusion by making sure the donated blood was of a matching type. The discovery of enterotypes could someday lead to medical applications of its own, but they would be far down the road.

“Some things are pretty obvious already,” Dr. Bork said. Doctors might be able to tailor diets or drug prescriptions to suit people’s enterotypes, for example.

Or, he speculated, doctors might be able to use enterotypes to find alternatives to antibiotics, which are becoming increasingly ineffective. Instead of trying to wipe out disease-causing bacteria that have disrupted the ecological balance of the gut, they could try to provide reinforcements for the good bacteria. “You’d try to restore the type you had before,” he said.  …

via Gut Bacteria Divide People Into 3 Types, Scientists Report – NYTimes.com.

I don’t think you can change your blood type, but couldn’t you change your bug type just by taking probiotic bacteria?

Posted in Biology, Health | Leave a Comment »

Professor notices Abe Lincoln’s signature on a picture hanging in his office

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

http://images.sciencedaily.com/2011/04/110419162638-large.jpgWhen Western Illinois University’s University Television (UTV) Associate Director Roger Kent looked a bit closer at a picture that had been hanging in his office for a few years, he noticed what looked like a signature belonging to the nation’s 16th president. Curiosity got the better of him, so he contacted a Lincoln authority: the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

And Kent’s hunch proved to be right: the framed portrait included a piece of paper signed by Abe Lincoln.

Many years ago, when the University Union Lincoln Room changed its decor, UTV acquired a number of Lincoln artifacts to be used as props for set design. One of the framed portraits was stored in the prop room for three years until Kent “rescued” it to decorate his Memorial Hall office.

“This piece has been hanging on my office wall for two years, and one day, something just made me really look at it. That’s when I noticed a handwritten note bearing the Lincoln signature in a small window in the portrait,” Kent said. “I sent a message with a scanned image to Library Curator Dr. James Cornelius, who at first glance said the note appeared to be authentic.”

Last month, Kent drove 90 miles to Springfield for Cornelius to examine the note in person. It was there that Cornelius and other archivists verified that the note was authentic, with an estimated value of $15,000-$20,000. Cornelius’ staff created a high resolution scan to include in their official database, but turned the note back over to Kent. …

via Professor notices Abe Lincoln’s signature on a picture hanging in his office.

Posted in History, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Did the early universe have one dimension? Scientists outline test for theory

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

Did the early universe have just one spatial dimension?

That’s the mind-boggling concept at the heart of a theory that University at Buffalo physicist Dejan Stojkovic and colleagues proposed in 2010.

They suggested that the early universe — which exploded from a single point and was very, very small at first — was one-dimensional (like a straight line) before expanding to include two dimensions (like a plane) and then three (like the world in which we live today).

The theory, if valid, would address important problems in particle physics.

Now, in a new paper in Physical Review Letters, Stojkovic and Loyola Marymount University physicist Jonas Mureika describe a test that could prove or disprove the “vanishing dimensions” hypothesis.

Because it takes time for light and other waves to travel to Earth, telescopes peering out into space can, essentially, look back into time as they probe the universe’s outer reaches.

Gravitational waves can’t exist in one- or two-dimensional space. So Stojkovic and Mureika have reasoned that the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a planned international gravitational observatory, should not detect any gravitational waves emanating from the lower-dimensional epochs of the early universe. …

Because the planned deployment of LISA is still years away, it may be a long time before Stojkovic and his colleagues are able to test their ideas this way.

However, some experimental evidence already points to the possible existence of lower-dimensional space.

Specifically, scientists have observed that the main energy flux of cosmic ray particles with energies exceeding 1 teraelectron volt — the kind of high energy associated with the very early universe — are aligned along a two-dimensional plane.

If high energies do correspond with lower-dimensional space, as the “vanishing dimensions” theory proposes, researchers working with the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator in Europe should see planar scattering at such energies.

Stojkovic says the observation of such events would be “a very exciting, independent test of our proposed ideas.” …

via Primordial weirdness: Did the early universe have one dimension? Scientists outline test for theory.

Posted in Physics | 1 Comment »

Gigantic New SuperOrganism with ‘Social Intelligence’ is Devouring the Titanic

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

6a00d8341bf7f753ef014e60e949cb970c-800wi6a00d8341bf7f753ef01538dd4be7e970b-500wiIn 2000, Roy Cullimore, a microbial ecologist and Charles Pellegrino, scientist and author of Ghosts of the Titanic discovered that the Titanic –which sank in the Atlantic Ocean 97 years ago — was being devoured by a monster microbial industrial complex of extremophiles as alien we might expect to find on Jupiter’s ocean-bound Europa. What they discovered is the largest, strangest cooperative microorganism on Earth.

Scientists believe that this strange super-organism is using a common microbial language that could be either chemical or electrical -a phenomenon called “quorum sensing” by which whole communities “sense” each other’s presence and activities aiding and abetting the organization, cooperation, and growth.

The microbes are consuming the wreck’s metal, creating mats of rust bigger than a dozen four-story brownstones that are creeping slowly along the hull harvesting iron from the rivets and burrowing into layers of steel plating. The creatures also leave behind “rusticles,” 30-foot icicle-like deposits of rust dangling from the sides of the ship’s bow. Structurally, rusticles contain channels to allow water to flow through, and they seem to be built up in a ring structure similar to the growth rings of a tree. They are very delicate and can easily disintegrate into fine powder on even the slightest touch.

These live mats and rusticles form a communicating super-organism funneling iron-rich fluids, sulfur, and electrical charges through the collective of archea, fungi, and bacteria that thrives in the icy dark, low oxygen waters. Using DNA technology, researchers discovered that the rusticles were formed by a combination of 27 different strains of bacteria. Among the bacteria feasting on the Titanic, there was a brand new member of the salt-loving Halomonas genus. …

via Gigantic New SuperOrganism with ‘Social Intelligence’ is Devouring the Titanic (Today’s Most Popular).

Posted in Archaeology, Cryptozoology, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Oil Crisis Just Got Real: Sinopec (Read China) Cuts Off Oil Exports

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

As if a dollar in freefall was not enough, surging oil is about to hit the turbo boost, decimating what is left of the US (and global) consumer. Xinhua, via Energy Daily, brings this stunner: ” Chinese oil giant Sinopec has stopped exporting oil products to maintain domestic supplies amid disruption concerns caused by Middle East unrest and Japan’s earthquake, a report said Wednesday. The state-run Xinhua news agency did not say how long the suspension would last but it reported that the firm had said it also would take steps to step up output “to maintain domestic market supplies of refined oil products”. Oh but don’t worry, those good Saudi folks are seeing a massive drop in demand… for their Kool aid perhaps. “Sinopec would ensure supplies met the “basic needs” of the southern Chinese special regions of Hong Kong and Macao, but they also should expect an unspecified drop in supply, Xinhua quoted an unnamed company official as saying.” …

via Oil Crisis Just Got Real: Sinopec (Read China) Cuts Off Oil Exports | zero hedge.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »

Scientists observe single gene activity in living cells

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have for the first time observed the activity of a single gene in living cells. In an unprecedented study, published in the April 22 online edition of Science, Einstein scientists were able to follow, in real time, the process of gene transcription, which occurs when a gene converts its DNA information into molecules of messenger RNA (mRNA) that go on to make the protein coded by the gene.

Robert Singer, Ph.D., co-director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center at Einstein and professor and co-chair of anatomy and structural biology, is senior author of the paper. The study’s lead author is Daniel Larson, Ph.D., previously a member of Dr. Singer’s lab and now an investigator at the National Cancer Institute and head of the institute’s Systems Biology of Gene Expression Section.

Using florescent proteins, the researchers were able to follow mRNA activity by inserting DNA sequences into a gene in live yeast cells. RNA made from these sequences bound a modified green fluorescent protein; expression of the entire gene resulted in mRNA molecules that were visible with fluorescent light. Gene transcription is a key step in synthesizing proteins, which govern the body’s structure and function and underlie many diseases when present in mutated form or in aberrant amounts.

The study involved monitoring the activity of RNA polymerase—the enzyme that constructs mRNA molecules by linking single nucleotides together into a molecular chain. The researchers were able to directly observe and measure the key steps involved in transcription: initiation (triggered when proteins called transcription factors bind to the promoter region of the gene), elongation (the progressive lengthening of mRNA as RNA polymerase adds more nucleotides to it) and termination (when mRNA breaks free from its DNA template, eventually migrating from the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm to serve as a blueprint for protein construction).

“The view of transcription in yeast that emerges from this study is that its initiation seems to be a random event that depends on the success of transcription factors searching through the yeast nucleus looking for a particular gene’s promoter region,” said Dr. Singer. “By contrast, once initiation occurs, RNA polymerase recruits individual nucleotides for the growing mRNA molecule in an efficient and predictable manner.”

“Understanding how gene expression is regulated in a single-celled organism such as yeast is a first step in understanding the same processes in humans, which have a vastly larger and more complex genome,” said Dr. Larson. “But fundamentally, the same molecular laws governing transcription factors will still apply.”

via Scientists observe single gene activity in living cells.

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »

US deploys armed drones over Libya

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

US Predator drone (file image)Armed US Predator drones are carrying out missions over Libya, Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.

Mr Gates said their use had been authorised by President Barack Obama and would give “precision capability” to the military operation.

US drones are already used to target militants along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Libyan rebels have been battling Col Gaddafi’s troops since February but have recently made little headway.

“President Obama has said that where we have some unique capabilities, he is willing to use those,” Mr Gates told a news conference.

He said two armed, unmanned Predators were being made available to Nato as needed, and marked a “modest contribution” to the military operations.

Mr Gates denied that the drone deployment was evidence of “mission creep” in Libya and said there were still no plans to put US “boots on the ground” in Libya.

“There’s no wiggle room in that,” he said.

via BBC News – US deploys armed drones over Libya.

Posted in Politics, War | Leave a Comment »

The loaf is out there: How frozen Siberian ‘alien’ really was BROWN BREAD

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

Students Timur Hilall, 18, and Kirill Vlasov, 19, have admitted their 'find' of an alien in the Siberian woods was just a stuntThe students behind the discovery of an alien’s body at a UFO ‘crash site’ have admitted that it was a ‘crummy’ hoax made out of stale bread.

Friends Timur Hilall, 18, and Kirill Vlasov, 19, shot the video that showed the alien’s mangled remains frozen in snow in Irkutsk, Siberia.

The pair were questioned by police over their ‘extraterrestrial discovery’ but admitted to their stunt.

But not before their creation became an internet sensation, drawing almost 700,000 hits on YouTube.

Their find was deemed serious enough for the Kremlin to get involved and a spokesman from the Russian interior ministry confirmed the hoax.

‘We found the alien in one of the student’s homes,’ he said.

‘It was lying under his bed and an examination of it revealed it had been made of bread crumbs which were covered in chicken skin.’

Prosecutors are now considering whether or not the pair have committed any crimes.

Sergei Zvedzin, a police spokesman, said: ‘What are we going to do with them? We have not yet decided.

‘We will be looking to see if a crime has been committed in connection with the use of animal skin. If they have committed an offence they will have to pay for it.’

Their bogus claims appeared after locals reported seeing an alien spaceship crash in the area last month.

Local UFO expert, Alex Komanov, from the Russion UFO Research Centre, dismissed the find saying: ‘The body is interesting. The texture is similar to a real bological entity.

‘However, the creature has no clothes and I am sure that intelligent beings would be dressed in something like a space suit or coveralls.’

However, conspiracy theorists have already started accusing the government of a cover up. One said: ‘We know what we saw. Powerful people in the military just don’t want us to see this.’

via The loaf is out there: How frozen Siberian ‘alien’ really was BROWN BREAD | Mail Online.

Posted in Aliens | 1 Comment »

Carbon monoxide found in Pluto’s air

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

After nearly two decades of searching, astronomers have detected carbon monoxide in Pluto’s thin atmosphere, as they expected. But they didn’t expect to find so much of it. Pluto’s dramatic seasonal changes serve as further evidence that the dwarf planet is one surprising little bugger.

“Everything about Pluto is surprising,” Jane Greaves, an astronomer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, told me. Greaves presented the new results today at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Wales.

Five years ago, Pluto was at the center of a controversy over the definition of planethood — which resulted in the creation of the dwarf-planet category, a new class of celestial objects. More recent observations have pointed up still more peculiarities about Pluto. For example, scientists have found that the faraway world’s surface features are changing, that its atmosphere contains clouds, and that it might even harbor a pool of liquid beneath its icy shell.

Pluto’s thin atmosphere, which was previously known to contain nitrogen and methane, is thought to freeze out and rise up as the world traces its eccentric orbit around the sun. Traces of frozen carbon monoxide have been detected on Pluto’s surface, which led astronomers to assume that carbon monoxide gas should be found in the atmosphere as well.

via Cosmic Log – Carbon monoxide found in Pluto’s air.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

1/2 foot long fossilised spider ‘biggest on record’

Posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2011

Fossil spiderThe legs would have spanned up to 15cm, front to back (scale-bar: 5mm)

Scientists say a fossilised spider from the Inner Mongolian region of China is the biggest yet found.

The female, which lived about 165 million years ago, belongs to a collection of spiders well known today – the golden orb weavers.

These creatures make webs from a very tough and distinctively golden silk.

The researchers tell the journal Biology Letters that Nephila jurassica, as they have called their specimen, would have had a leg span of some 15cm.

“She is the largest known fossil spider,” said Professor Paul Selden from the University of Kansas, US.

“Her body is not the biggest, but if you add in her long legs then she’s the largest,” he told BBC News.

Today’s Nephila species are found around the globe in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Until this new fossil turned up in Inner Mongolia, the most ancient example from this grouping, or genus, was about 35 million years old.

So, this discovery pushes the existence of the Nephila back to the Jurassic Period, making them the longest ranging spider genus known.

No-one can say for sure how this particular arachnid met her end, but she may have succumbed to a natural catastrophe.

The spider was encased in volcanic ash at the bottom of what would have been a lake.

via BBC News – Fossilised spider ‘biggest on record’.

Posted in Archaeology, Biology | Leave a Comment »


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