Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for August 8th, 2011

‘Bacterial nanowires’ could revolutionise bioelectronics

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

Lead microbiologist Derek Lovley says the bacterial filaments, known as microbial nanowires, can move charges as efficiently as synthetic organic metallic nanostructures – and over remarkable distances, thousands of times the bacterium’s length.

“The ability of protein filaments to conduct electrons in this way is a paradigm shift in biology and has ramifications for our understanding of natural microbial processes as well as practical implications for environmental clean-up and the development of renewable energy sources,” says Lovley.

The discovery could lead to a range of new conducting nanomaterials that are living, naturally occurring, nontoxic, easier to produce and cheaper than man-made technologies. They could even allow the use ofelectronics in water and moist environments.

The bacterial nanowires are tunable in a way not seen before, the UMass Amherst researchers found. It’s possible to manipulate theirconducting properties by simply changing the temperature or regulating gene expression to create a new strain, for example.

And by introducing a third electrode, a biofilm can act like a biological transistor, able to be switched on or off by applying a voltage.

Another advantage Geobacter offers, says the team, is its ability to produce natural materials that are more eco-friendly and cheaper than man-made versions, many of which require rare elements.

Says Lovley, “We’re basically making electronics out of vinegar. It can’t get much cheaper or more ‘green’ than that.”

via ‘Bacterial nanowires’ could revolutionise bioelectronics | TG Daily.

Posted in Biology, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Learning to Cope With a Mind’s Taunting Voices

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

The job was gone, the gun was loaded, and a voice was saying, “You’re a waste, give up now, do it now.”

It was a command, not a suggestion, and what mattered at that moment — a winter evening in 2000 — was not where the voice was coming from, but how assured it was, how persuasive.

Losing his first decent job ever seemed like too much for Joe Holt to live with. It was time.

“All I remember then is a knock on the bedroom door and my wife, Patsy, she sits down on the bed and hugs me, and I’m holding the gun in my left hand, down here, out of sight,” said Mr. Holt, 50, a computer consultant and entrepreneur who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

“She says, ‘Joe, I know you feel like quitting, but what if tomorrow is the day you get what you want?’ And walks out. I sat there staring at that gun for an hour at least, and finally decided — never again. It can never be an option. Patsy deserves for me to be trying.”

In recent years, researchers have begun talking about mental health care in the same way addiction specialists speak of recovery — the lifelong journey of self-treatment and discipline that guides substance abuse programs. The idea remains controversial: managing a severe mental illness is more complicated than simply avoiding certain behaviors. The journey has more mazes, fewer road signs.

Yet people like Joe Holt are traveling it and succeeding. Most rely on some medical help, but each has had to build core skills from the ground up, through trial and repeated error. Now more and more of them are risking exposure to tell their stories publicly.

“If you’re going to focus on recovery, you might want to ask those who’ve actually recovered what it is they’re doing,” said Frederick J. Frese III, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine who has written about his own struggles with schizophrenia.

“Certainly, traditional medicine has not worked very well for many of us,” Dr. Frese went on. “That’s why we’ve had to learn so many survival tricks on our own.”

First among Mr. Holt’s many resources is his wife, who has been an effective at-home therapist — in part, paradoxically, because she does not consider mental illness an adequate excuse to shirk responsibilities. …

via Learning to Cope With a Mind’s Taunting Voices – NYTimes.com.

Posted in Mind, Survival | Leave a Comment »

Do you see what I see?

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

Yellow and blue illusionProof that colors are all in our mind: The grey tiles on the left look blue, and the grey tiles on the right look yellow

Roses are red, violets are blue – or are they? The colours you see may not always be the same as the colours someone else sees… as we see colour through our brains, not our eyes. Neuroscientist Beau Lotto explains.

Colour is one of our simplest sensations… even jellyfish detect light and they do not have a brain. And yet to explain lightness, and colour more generally, is to explain how and why we see what we do.

The first thing to remember is that colour does not actually exist… at least not in any literal sense. Apples and fire engines are not red, the sky and sea are not blue, and no person is objectively “black” or “white”.

What exists is light. Light is real.

You can measure it, hold it and count it (well … sort-of). But colour is not light. Colour is wholly manufactured by your brain.

How do we know this? Because one light can take on any colour… in our mind.

Here’s another example. If you look at the cubes to the right, notice the four grey tiles on the top surface of the left cube and the seven grey tiles on the equivalent surface of the right cube.

Once you’ve convinced yourself that these tiles are all physically the same colour (because they are), look at the next image down.

What’s amazing is that now the grey tiles on the left look blue, whereas the same grey tiles on the right look yellow. The yellow and blue tiles of the two cubes share the same light, and yet look very different. …

via BBC News – Do you see what I see?.

Posted in Biology, Mind | 1 Comment »

Dow Skids 600, Worst Day Since Credit Crisis

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

Stocks took a sharp nosedive in another choppy day Monday to finish at session lows as investors fled from risky assets following S&P’s downgrade of U.S.’s credit rating last week in addition to ongoing economic jitters.

via CNBC

Wall Street had its worst day since the 2008 financial crisis, as fearful investors reacted to the United States losing its coveted AAA credit rating.

All three major U.S. stock indexes sank between 5% and 7%, pushing the Dow below 11,000 for the first time since last November.

U.S. stocks have fallen 15% during the past two weeks.

Though observers said S&P’s downgrade shouldn’t matter all that much, the market wasn’t buying it.

“Investors are having one reaction to the downgrade: sell first and ask questions later,” said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation with ING Investment Management.

Even if investors dismissed the downgrade, they’d still have to contend with the European debt crisis and rising fears of a new U.S. recession.

Those are the factors that led to a drop of more than 6% last week, the worst since the financial crisis of 2008.

via Market Report – Aug. 8, 2011 – CNNMoney.

The US is unlikely to see its long-term credit rating return to AAA any time soon, ratings agency S&P has said.

Its comments came as it downgraded the state-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because of their “direct reliance on the US government”.

It also lowered ratings for clearing houses and other institutions linked to long-term US debt from AAA to AA+.

Late on Friday, the agency downgraded the US’s top-notch AAA rating for the first time in its history.

But US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner criticised the decision.

“I think S&P has shown really terrible judgement and they’ve handled themselves very poorly, and they’ve shown a stunning lack of knowledge about basic US fiscal math,” Mr Geithner told NBC on Sunday.

“I think they drew exactly the wrong conclusion.”

via BBC

Posted in Money | 1 Comment »

Fish farm breakthrough that could save the bluefin

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

The highly-prized bluefin tuna is now endangered as a result of over-fishing The prospect of farming the endangered bluefin tuna from eggs to fully mature adults has come a step closer with the first natural mass spawning of the species in captivity.

A brood stock of bluefin tuna, used in highly-prized sashimi, have produced millions of eggs that have hatched into larvae at a research facility on Croatia’s Adriatic coast operated by a US fish-farming company.

Umami Sustainable Seafood of San Diego said it was the first time that bluefin tuna in captivity had reproduced naturally without being treated artificially with hormones. It may soon be possible to rear bluefin tuna entirely on fish farms without taking them from the wild, the company said.

Umami already “farms” bluefin tuna by capturing young fish in the wild and raising them to adults in pens.

“Although we still have a lot of work left to do in achieving our ultimate goal of developing economically viable processes of raising fish from fry, these results prove that our experience, and our understanding of the species, is paying off,” said Oli Valur Steindorsson, Umami’s chief executive.

via Fish farm breakthrough that could save the bluefin – Nature, Environment – The Independent.

Posted in Biology, Food, Survival | Leave a Comment »

Scots experts decode biological clock and predict menopause – Scotsman.com News

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

SCOTTISH academics have found a new method that may help women to beat the biological clock by predicting how long they have left to have a baby.

A team of researchers from St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh has found how levels of a hormone, which can reveal how many eggs a woman has remaining, change throughout her reproductive life.

The discovery will allow women to compare their own hormone levels with the average for their age to see whether they should be concerned about their future fertility. Tests will indicate whether they are likely to have an early or later menopause, meaning they know whether they have to try for a baby sooner rather than later.

The process will also help young women who have had treatment for diseases such as cancer, which may have affected their fertility, to find out whether their hormone levels have been affected.

Gauging female fertility has become more important, as more women are choosing to have children later, even though their reproductive lifespan is limited. … the Scottish academics gathered together all previous data plus their own new findings on the Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH), which is produced by growing, egg-producing ovarian follicles.

They set out to map how levels of AMH vary at different points in the lives of healthy women by studying data from 3,200 women. They were able to deduce how a woman’s AMH level compares with the average for her age as a result.

Findings could indicate whether they are likely to have an earlier menopause and should not delay trying to conceive, or whether their fertile life will end later.

The study found that AMH levels peaked at the age of 24 but had almost halved by the time women were in their mid-30s and were almost nonexistent by their late 40s.

via Scots experts decode biological clock and predict menopause – Scotsman.com News.

Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is a member of the transforming growth factor ß family of growth and differentiation factors. In the ovary, AMH has an inhibitory effect on primordial follicle recruitment as well as on the responsiveness of growing follicles to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The ovary-specific expression pattern in granulosa cells of growing non-selected follicles makes AMH an ideal marker for the size of the ovarian follicle pool (Wikipedia).

via women-health-info

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »

Guy steals $21 million of lunar rocks to have ‘sex on the moon’

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

We don’t know how we missed this story, but a few years ago, a NASA intern was convicted of moon rock theft—specifically, he stole moon rocks so he could have sex with his girlfriend on them.

Author Ben Mezrich, who also wrote The Accidental Network (which was turned into the movie The Social Network), recently published Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History and described the events of the book to CTV.

In brief, a few years ago, Thad Roberts, who was in love with his girlfriend of three weeks, decided to show her a grand, romantic gesture by stealing moon rocks so they could jam the rocks under their motel room mattress and have sex on the moon. Because Roberts interned at NASA, he didn’t have to go far for his moon rocks … but he had to circumvent NASA’s security system, a heist worthy of Ocean’s 11.

Of course, things went wrong for our sexonaut when he decided to sell the moon rocks on the Internet.

“He really wasn’t a criminal,” said Mezrich. “He didn’t think through the after-effects. I asked him dozens of times over the year, ‘How did you think you were going to get away with this?’ And he said it just wasn’t part of the thought process. … He only thought of it as a college prank; he thought, ‘Even if I do get caught, what’s the worst they’ll do to me?”

What “they” did to him was send him to a federal prison for seven and a half years. …

via Guy steals $21 million of lunar rocks to have ‘sex on the moon’ | Blastr.

Posted in Strange | Leave a Comment »

Wind Power Gains as Gear Improves

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

The electric wind turbines built 30 years ago, after the 1970s oil-price shocks increased interest in the industry, often experienced serious problems. Some came apart in bad storms, some did not work well, even in good weather, and still others found insects piling up on the blades, slowing power production. Bird deaths at some early wind farms were alarmingly high.

Challenges remain, but the technology has come a long way in recent years, and wind farm operators have learned plenty of tricks, too, like the importance of shutting down the machines in high winds and the best places to put them to begin with.

The turbines have grown larger, and more effective. One model made today by Vestas, a Danish turbine manufacturer, can produce 300 times as much power as a turbine sold 15 years ago, according to Finn Strom Madsen, the president of technology research and development for Vestas.

But experts say that vast improvements in wind technology still lie ahead — which makes sense for an industry that is about 100 years behind, say, that of the automobile. …

via Wind Power Gains as Gear Improves – NYTimes.com.

Posted in Alt Energy | Leave a Comment »

Impact on special forces of Navy Seals helicopter loss

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

US military Chinook in southern Afghanistan - 29 July 2011Placing the Seals team in a Chinook was a reversal of normal practice

The destruction of a US forces helicopter with 38 people on board demonstrates the degree to which the Coalition campaign in Afghanistan has become dependent on special operations raids.

It also effectively marks the loss of an entire squadron of Seal Team 6, the “Tier 1″ commando unit that killed Osama Bin Laden in May.

Many people involved in the secretive world of special ops were surprised that such a major setback had not taken place before. After all, during 2010, highly trained operators are believed to have mounted between 3,000 and 4,000 raids, almost all of them at night, many against heavy resistance, in terrain than can be extremely dangerous to fly in.

During a recent interview the outgoing commander of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), General David Petraeus, sang the praises of such troops but also suggested that the special ops campaign might be getting too much press attention. But quite apart from the interest generated by the Bin Laden raid, it is evident that these operations play an important part in Nato’s drawdown strategy – one could even say a central part.

via BBC News – Impact on special forces of Navy Seals helicopter loss.

No member of the Bin Laden raid team was among the dead, said a Pentagon official briefed on the casualties who was not authorized to speak publicly while families still were being notified. But he said 22 of the 30 were Navy SEALs, and a significant number were members of SEAL Team 6, the unit that conducted the Bin Laden raid and is made up of just a few hundred of some of the best-trained fighters in the U.S. military.

The loss of so many represents a significant blow to a tightknit group that is involved in some of the most sensitive U.S. counter-terrorism operations around the world.

There was no indication that insurgents knew that many aboard the doomed Chinook were Team 6 members. But the Taliban and its allies are likely to reap an enormous propaganda boost from the deaths. …

Team 6, known officially as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, is overseen by the Joint Special Operations Command, which also supervises the Army‘s Delta Force and other elite units.

Those commandos, working closely with the CIA and other intelligence agencies, have embarked on a significant increase in nighttime raids over the last year in Afghanistan, targeting Taliban leaders, bomb-makers and other key adversaries. It is one of the little-known stories of the Afghan war, because the raids are secret and the results are rarely announced.

Those strikes have been the single most successful tactic employed by the Western military over the last two years, U.S. officials say, significantly damaging the field-command structure of the Taliban and affiliated insurgent groups.

via LA Times

Posted in Politics, War | Leave a Comment »

‪Explosive Eye Witness Account – Tottenham Riots, UK

Posted by Anonymous on August 8, 2011

Riot sparked after police beat 16 year old girl protester seeking answers after police murder young Black father of three in public.

BBC News: Explosive Eye Witness Account – Tottenham Riots, UK‬‏ – YouTube.

Posted in - Video, Crime | Leave a Comment »

 
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