Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for May 26th, 2011

Cancer cells accelerate aging and inflammation in the body to drive tumor growth

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have shed new light on the longstanding conundrum about what makes a tumor grow—and how to make it stop. Interestingly, cancer cells accelerate the aging of nearby connective tissue cells to cause inflammation, which ultimately provides “fuel” for the tumor to grow and even metastasize.

This revealing symbiotic process, which is similar to how muscle and brain cells communicate with the body, could prove useful for developing new drugs to prevent and treat cancers. In this simple model, our bodies provide nourishment for the cancer cells, via chronic inflammation.

“People think that inflammation drives cancer, but they never understood the mechanism,” said Michael P. Lisanti, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and a member of the Kimmel Cancer Center. “What we found is that cancer cells are accelerating aging and inflammation, which is making high-energy nutrients to feed cancer cells.”

In normal aging, DNA is damaged and the body begins to deteriorate because of oxidative stress. “We are all slowly rusting, like the Tin-man in the Wizard of Oz,” Dr. Lisanti said. “And there is a very similar process going on in the tumor’s local environment.” Interestingly, cancer cells induce “oxidative stress,” the rusting process, in normal connective tissue, in order to extract vital nutrients.

Dr. Lisanti and his team previously discovered that cancer cells induce this type of stress response (autophagy) in nearby cells, to feed themselves and grow. However, the mechanism by which the cancer cells induce this stress and, more importantly, the relationship between the connective tissue and how this “energy” is transferred was unclear.

“Nobody fully understands the link between aging and cancer,” said Dr. Lisanti, who used pre-clinical models, as well as tumors from breast cancer patients, to study these mechanisms. “What we see now is that as you age, your whole body becomes more sensitive to this parasitic cancer mechanism, and the cancer cells selectively accelerate the aging process via inflammation in the connective tissue.”

This helps explain why cancers exist in people of all ages, but susceptibility increases as you age. If aggressive enough, cancer cells can induce accelerated aging in the tumor, regardless of age, to speed up the process. …

“If lethal cancer is a disease of “accelerated aging” in the tumor’s connective tissue, then cancer patients may benefit from therapy with strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatory drugs,” said Dr. Lisanti. “Antioxidant therapy will “cut off the fuel supply” for cancer cells.” Antioxidants also have a natural anti-inflammatory action.

via Cancer cells accelerate aging and inflammation in the body to drive tumor growth.

Flaxseed oil. Every day.

Flax seeds and the oil contain 58% Alpha-Linolenic Acid (LNA or ALA) and is the most essential choice for supplementation. It is a powerfully anti-inflammatory food substance. – link

Posted in Biology, Health | Leave a Comment »

Fossil of giant ancient sea predator discovered

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

Paleontologists have discovered that a group of remarkable ancient sea creatures existed for much longer and grew to much larger sizes than previously thought, thanks to extraordinarily well-preserved fossils discovered in Morocco.

The creatures, known as anomalocaridids, were already thought to be the largest animals of the Cambrian period, known for the “Cambrian Explosion” that saw the sudden appearance of all the major animal groups and the establishment of complex ecosystems about 540 to 500 million years ago. Fossils from this period suggested these marine predators grew to be about two feet long. Until now, scientists also thought these strange invertebrates — which had long spiny head limbs presumably used to snag worms and other prey, and a circlet of plates around the mouth — died out at the end of the Cambrian.

Now a team led by former Yale researcher Peter Van Roy (now at Ghent University in Belgium) and Derek Briggs, director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, has discovered a giant fossilized anomalocaridid that measures one meter (more than three feet) in length. The anomalocaridid fossils reveal a series of blade like filaments in each segment across the animal’s back, which scientists think might have functioned as gills.

In addition, the creature dates back to the Ordovician period, a time of intense biodiversification that followed the Cambrian, meaning these animals existed for 30 million years longer than previously realized.

“The anomalocaridids are one of the most iconic groups of Cambrian animals,” Briggs said. “These giant invertebrate predators and scavengers have come to symbolize the unfamiliar morphologies displayed by organisms that branched off early from lineages leading to modern marine animals, and then went extinct. Now we know that they died out much more recently than we thought.”

via Fossil of giant ancient sea predator discovered.

I’ll never look at shoes the same way.

Posted in Archaeology, Biology | Leave a Comment »

Brilliant but solitary superstar discovered in nearby galaxy

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

An international team of astronomers [1] has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to carefully study the star VFTS 682 [2] in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small neighbouring galaxy to the Milky Way. By analysing the star’s light, using the FLAMES instrument on the VLT, they have found that it is about 150 times the mass of the Sun. Stars like these have so far only been found in the crowded centres of star clusters, but VFTS 682 lies on its own.

“We were very surprised to find such a massive star on its own, and not in a rich star cluster,” notes Joachim Bestenlehner, the lead author of the new study and a student at Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. “Its origin is mysterious.”

This star was spotted earlier in a survey of the most brilliant stars in and around the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It lies in a stellar nursery: a huge region of gas, dust and young stars that is the most active star-forming region in the Local Group of galaxies [3]. At first glance VFTS 682 was thought to be hot, young and bright, but unremarkable. But the new study using the VLT has found that much of the star’s energy is being absorbed and scattered by dust clouds before it gets to Earth — it is actually more luminous than previously thought and among the brightest stars known. …

via Brilliant but solitary superstar discovered in nearby galaxy.

Damn, what a big fat lonely star. I feel mysteriously sad for it.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Pope Benedict shuts down monastary over Dancing Nun

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

The Pope has shut down a 500-year-old monastery in Rome that became famous for a lap dancer turned nun and had been visited by Madonna.

Vatican officials launched an inquiry into the monastery after reports that the nuns were dancing around the altar during church services reached Pope Benedict XVI.

The monastery, which was hit with claims of “liturgical abuse,” had reportedly racked up large debts.

“An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk,” said Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman.

One of the nuns, Sister Anna Nobili, spent many years working as an exotic dancer in Italian nightclubs. Nobili said she changed her life after a religious experience while visiting the shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, a place of pilgrimage for Catholics, in 2002.

She kept dancing after becoming a nun, performing what she called “The Holy Dance” in front of senior Catholic leaders, including Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican’s Cultural Department.

Sister Nobili, who referred to herself as a “ballerina for God,” also became a YouTube sensation for videos of her dancing.

via Pope Benedict | Dancing Nun | Rome Monastery.

The church is threatened by female bodies… male bodies, no problem.

Exhibit A:

Posted in Religion | Leave a Comment »

Rendezvous with an asteroid

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

A newly announced NASA mission to collect a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth will include an instrument built at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). The ASU instrument will analyze long-wavelength infrared light emitted from the asteroid to map the minerals on its surface. The device is a modified version of the highly successful miniature infrared spectrometers carried on Spirit and Opportunity, NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers.

The new asteroid sample-return mission is called OSIRIS-REx, an acronym standing for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, and Regolith EXplorer. The Principal Investigator for the mission is Michael Drake of the University of Arizona in Tucson, and the mission is part of NASA’s New Frontiers program.

The mission’s goals are to return a sample of rocks, soil, and dust from a pristine carbonaceous asteroid, map the asteroid’s global properties down to submillimeter scales, characterize this class of asteroid for comparison with meteorites, and measure a subtle effect of sunlight that can alter the orbits of asteroids.

“The OSIRIS-REx mission is an important milestone for planetary science in the state of Arizona,” says Kip Hodges, director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. “I am very excited at the prospects of building closer research collaborations with our friends and colleagues at the University of Arizona.” …

via Rendezvous with an asteroid | ASU News.

An asteroid can be a gold mine richer than any on earth. Eventually they could get to the point where the missions pay for themselves.

…mining one fairly small asteroid like Eros would revolutionise the availability of many raw materials on Earth.

No one knows how much a robot mission to mine an asteroid would cost but I am willing to bet it would be the best return on an investment since Leonardo da Vinci bought a sketch pad or Paul McCartney a guitar.
via Gold rush in space?

Posted in Money, Space | Leave a Comment »

Discovery: An Electron is Stunningly Spherical

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

Part of the laser system used for measuring the shape of the electron.

The electron was hailed by British scientists Thursday as the roundest natural object in the universe.

Researchers from Imperial College London conducted a decade-long laser experiment on the subatomic particle and discovered that it differs from a perfect sphere by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001 of a centimeter — so that “if the electron were magnified to the size of the solar system, it would still appear s

pherical within the width of a human hair.”

“I don’t know of any naturally-occurring object that is rounder and has been measured to the same level of accuracy,” said research leader Dr. Jony Hudson, writing in the journal Nature.

The breakthrough on the shape and structure of one of the fundamental building blocks of atoms could advance research on why more matter than antimatter exists in the universe.

The electron was previously considered to have a distorted shape — causing the subatomic particle and its antimatter opposite, the positron, to behave in different ways — but that theory now seems unlikely.

“As we’ve found that so far as we can tell, the electron is round, this rules out some of the possible explanations for the fate of antimatter,” Hudson said.

Professor Edward Hinds, another member of the research team, added that “physicists just do not know what happened to all the antimatter, but this research can help us to confirm or rule out some of the possible explanations.” …

via Antimatter Breakthrough — Electron is Stunningly Spherical, Scientists Discover – FoxNews.com.

Posted in Physics | 3 Comments »

Astronomers Create Most Complete 3-D Map of Universe Ever

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

Astronomers have created the most complete 3-D map of our local universe, revealing new details about our place in the cosmos.

The map shows all visible structures out to about 380 million light-years, which includes about 45,000 of our neighboring galaxies (the diameter of the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across). [See the new 3-D universe map image.]

“I think it speaks to our desire to understand our place in the universe,” said Karen Masters of the University of Portsmouth in England, during a press conference today. “I wouldn’t be happy if we didn’t have a complete map of the Earth. It’s nice to have a complete map of where we live.”

The map was assembled using data from the Two-Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS) Redshift Survey (2MRS), which took 10 years to scan the complete night sky in near-infrared light. The survey used two ground-based telescopes, the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, Ariz., and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

Near-infrared light, which is of a longer wavelength than visible light, can penetrate the opaque clouds of dust common in galaxies. This allowed the 2MRS survey to extend its “eyes” closer to the plane of the Milky Way galaxy than has been possible in previous studies, because that area is heavily obscured by dust.

“This covers 95 percent of the sky,” Masters said. “In the

infrared, we’re less affected by the gunk in the milky way so we’re able to see down closer to the plane of the galaxy.” [Video: Seeing Dark Matter in 3-D]

Masters presented the new map here today at the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The 3-D aspect of the map comes from the fact that researchers measured the cosmic objects’ redshift, which denotes how much its light has been shifted toward the red end of the color spectrum. This happens because of the so-called Doppler effect, which causes the wavelength of light to be stretched when the light’s source is moving away from us.

via Astronomers Create Most Complete 3-D Map of Universe Ever – FoxNews.com.

I’d like that entire 3D model to play with on my computer. I’d like to be able to zoom around the universe and look at big fat stars from various angles. I’d pay $3 for that, right now.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Lion steals photographer’s video camera, films a bit

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

Photographer Roger de la Harpe was in South Africa’s Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve taking pictures for a book about the endangered African lion, when he spotted three lionesses on the path ahead.

Placing a small digital video camera on the ground, he retreated to a safe distance.

As planned, the lions approached the camera. However, instead of walking by, an inquisitive lioness gave the device a thorough examination, sniffing and licking the casing before picking it up her mouth and padding off with her trophy.

After 30 years working in South Africa’s national parks, the 57-year-old, was stunned by the behaviour.

“It was the last thing I expected her to do,” he said.

Incredibly, the camera lens remains unobstructed recording a prey’s view of the grasslands from the lioness’s mouth.

After five minutes though, bored with her inedible find, she drops it into the long grass by the side of the track.

As the lions moved away, the photographer’s wife and niece stood watch from the landrover roof while Mr de la Harpe crept back to retrieve the camera.

“It was quite nerve-wracking looking for it,” he said. “The lions were only 75 meters away and the grass was pretty thick so it took quite a bit of searching before I spotted it.”

The gadget, which cost around £300, was left covered in lion saliva but undamaged by the ordeal.

Upon playing back the video, Mr de la Harpe was surprised to see the lion had achieved some well-framed shots of the savannah.

We were most surprised to see the footage,” he said. “It kept on filming all the time it was in the lion’s mouth.” …

via Video: Lion steals photographer’s camera – Telegraph.


infamousgrouse – “Was the camera powered by a Li-ion battery”
sofbtrc – “No – it was plugged in to the manes.”

Posted in Strange | Leave a Comment »

Bacteria-rich hailstones add to ‘bioprecipitation’ idea

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

Pseudomonas syringae bacteriumP syringae bacteria are well-known “catalysts” for ice formation

A study of hailstones has found large numbers of bacteria at their cores.

The find lends credence to the “bio-precipitation” idea, which suggests that bacteria are actively involved in stimulating precipitation.

The bacteria have protein coatings that cause water to freeze at relatively warm temperatures.

Researchers at the American Society for Microbiology meeting suggest bacteria may have evolved to use the water cycle to facilitate their own dispersal.

The micro-organisms that can be found in precipitation such as snow have been studied since the 1960s.

One bacterium that has appeared in many contexts is Pseudomonas syringae, which expresses a protein on its surface that encourages an orderly arrangement of water molecules.

That in turn acts as a “nucleation” site, stimulating the formation of ice at temperatures far higher than those normally required.

So effective is P. syringae at the task that it is used in a commercially-available mixture for snow machines.

In nature, the ice that P. syringae stimulates can damage the walls of plant cells, allowing the bacterium to feed on the cells’ interiors.

Only in recent years, however, has a wider role for the bacterium’s strategy started to become more clear.

In 2008, Brent Christner of Louisiana State University reported finding significant numbers of bacteria in snow found around the world.


Now, Alexander Michaud of Montana State University has added to the idea, having collected hailstones on the university campus following a major hailstorm in 2010.

He analysed the hailstones’ multi-layer structure, finding that while their outer layers had relatively few bacteria, the cores contained high concentrations.

“You have a high concentration of ‘culturable’ bacteria in the centres, on the order of thousands per millilitre of meltwater,” he told the meeting. …

via BBC News – Bacteria-rich hailstones add to ‘bioprecipitation’ idea.

Bet you never want to eat a hailstone again.

Posted in Biology, Earth | Leave a Comment »

Cosmic distance record ‘broken’

Posted by Anonymous on May 26, 2011

GRB 090429B (Nasa/Swift/S.Immler)A cataclysmic explosion of a huge star near the edge of the observable Universe may be the most distant single object yet spied by a telescope.

Scientists believe the blast, which was detected by Nasa’s Swift space observatory, occurred a mere 520 million years after the Big Bang.

This means its light has taken a staggering 13.14 billion years to reach Earth.

Details of the discovery will appear shortly in the Astrophysical Journal.

The event, which was picked up by Swift in April 2009, is referred to by astronomers using the designation GRB 090429B.

The “GRB” stands for “gamma-ray burst” – a sudden pulse of very high-energy light that the telescope is tuned to find on the sky.

These bursts are usually associated with extremely violent processes, such as the end-of-life collapse of giant stars.

“It would have been a huge star, perhaps 30 times the mass of our Sun,” said lead researcher Dr Antonino Cucchiara from the University of California, Berkeley. …

via BBC News – Cosmic distance record ‘broken’.

Only 520 million years further back and we will see the beginning of time…. or god, sitting there in a bathrobe looking back at us.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »


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