Science

11:11am

Tue October 9, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Debate Heats Up About Contentious Bird Flu Research

When a case of the potentially lethal H5N1 bird flu was found in British poultry in 2007, Dutch farmers were told to keep their poultry away from wild birds by closing off outdoor areas with wire mesh.
Ed Oudenaarden AFP/Getty Images

What was supposed to be a 60-day moratorium on certain experiments involving lab-altered bird flu has now lasted more than eight months. And there's no clear end in sight.

Researchers still disagree on how to best manage the risks posed by mutant forms of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu. The altered viruses are contagious between ferrets, which are the lab stand-in for humans. The fear is that these germs could potentially cause a deadly flu pandemic in people if they ever escaped the lab.

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9:28am

Tue October 9, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The City As Infestation

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 7:10 pm

This nighttime photograph taken from the International Space Station shows much of the Atlantic coast of the United States. Parts of two Russian vehicles parked at the orbital outpost can also be seen in the frame.
NASA

For all their variety and variation, cities are, at their root, physical systems. That means, at some fundamental level, they are also expressions of the laws of physics. In physics size matters (or "scale" as we call it). Physicists learn different things about an object by looking at it from different scales. In our first exploration of physics and cities we stayed at the street level. At that scale we saw cities as machines: cars and elevators, pipes and plumbing. Then we went up to the roof. At that scale we saw cities as engines, vast systems for turning energy into work.

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5:57am

Tue October 9, 2012
The Two-Way

French And American Scientists Share Physics Nobel

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 8:07 am

The medal for the Nobel in Physics. According to the Nobel committee, the inscription reads: " 'Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes' loosely translated 'And they who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery.' "
NobelPrize.org

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Serge Haroche of France and David Wineland of the United States for their work on the "fundamental interactions between light particles and matter."

"The Nobel laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

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2:31am

Tue October 9, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

A Lively Mind: Your Brain On Jane Austen

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 10:35 am

Matt Langione, a subject in the study, reads Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. Results from the study suggest that blood flow in the brain differs during leisurely and critical reading activities.
L.A. Cicero Stanford University

At a recent academic conference, Michigan State University professor Natalie Phillips stole a glance around the room. A speaker was talking but the audience was fidgety. Some people were conferring among themselves, or reading notes. One person had dozed off.

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4:41pm

Mon October 8, 2012
Science

Cloning and Stem Cell Discoveries Earn Nobel in Medicine

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 5:38 pm

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced Monday in Sweden to two scientists: John Gurdon of England and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan. The two will share the prize for their landmark work on stem cells. These cells hold great promise for treating human disease but they are also a source of controversy.

9:12am

Mon October 8, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Nobel Winners Unlocked Cells' Unlimited Potential

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 3:28 pm

Shinya Yamanaka from Kyoto University was named the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering how mature, adult cells can be reprogrammed into immature stem cells.
Shizuo Kambayashi Associated Press

The two scientists who won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine discovered that cells in our body have the remarkable ability to reinvent themselves. They found that every cell in the human body, from our skin and bones to our heart and brain, can be coaxed into forming any other cell.

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8:38am

Mon October 8, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Eat Your Heart Out, Columbus: A Sailing Ship That Travels On Sunshine

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 11:29 am

Emmanuel Leutze Wikimedia Commons

Columbus, they say, crossed the Atlantic at a speed of roughly four knots. That's four-plus miles an hour. When the wind gusted, he could hit 9.2 mph. In 1492, that was speedy.

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4:25am

Mon October 8, 2012
Environment

Scientists Watch Antarctica, Arctic Sea-Ice Levels

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 4:35 am

The ice covering the Arctic Ocean was at a record low, in keeping with a sharp warming trend in the far north. At the same time, the amount of the ocean around Antarctica covered by sea ice hit a record high. It's winter in Antarctica when it's summer in the Arctic. But why in a warming world is wintertime ice growing?

4:23am

Mon October 8, 2012
Science

Nobel Prize Season Kicks Off Monday

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 6:50 am

British researcher John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan have won this year's Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology. They won "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent."

6:26pm

Sun October 7, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

An October Anniversary For Our Universe- And A 9000-Year-Old Earth

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 8:50 am

A big anniversary is coming in a little over two weeks, marking the creation of the world — at least as according to James Ussher.

Ussher, a 17th-century Irish bishop and scholar, used the Bible to pinpoint the first day of the world's creation as October 23, 4004 BC. His method is explained here.

If Ussher were alive today, then, he'd be readying to celebrate the world's 6016th birthday.

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