Ad by The Cutting Edge News

The Cutting Edge

Wednesday August 16 2017 reaching 1.4 million monthly
Ad by The Cutting Edge News

The Edge of Medicine

Scientists Explore Stem Cells to Treat Diabetic Blindness

February 22nd 2013


Millions of diabetics around the world are threatened with vision loss, a secondary effect of their disease, but researchers are exploring whether stem cells can be used to treat or prevent this diabetic complication.

Juvenile and adult-onset diabetes result when the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels goes awry. When the condition becomes chronic, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, damage the kidneys and affect blood flow to the limbs, sometimes requiring amputations.

The disease also affects the eyes, according to Alan Stitt of Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. Chronically high blood sugar levels can cause a condition called diabetic retinopathy, in which the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, become blocked or leak. “They then can actually no longer carry the oxygen and the nutrients that the retina requires," Stitt says. "And the retina becomes increasingly dysfunctional as a result of these blood vessels not functioning properly.” If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to partial or total blindness. Read more ..

The Edge of Physics

Force is the Key to Granular State-Shifting

February 21st 2013

hourglass sand

Ever wonder why sand can both run through an hourglass like a liquid and be solid enough to support buildings? It’s because granular materials – like sand or dirt – can change their behavior, or state. Researchers from North Carolina State University have found that the forces individual grains exert on one another are what most affect that transition.

Physicists have explored the changing behavior of granular materials by comparing it to what happens in thermodynamic systems. In a thermodynamic system, you can change the state of a material – like water – from a liquid to a gas by adding energy (heat) to the system. One of the most fundamental and important observations about temperature, however, is that it has the ability to equilibrate: a hot cup of tea eventually cools to match the temperature of the room.

Physicists thought they could use thermodynamics’ underlying ideas to explain the changes in granular materials, but didn’t know whether granular materials had properties which might equilibrate in a similar way. In other words, instead of temperature being the change agent in a granular system, it might be a property related to the amount of free space, or the forces on the particles. But no one had really tested which of the two might exhibit this property of equilibration.

NC State physicist Karen Daniels and former graduate student James Puckett devised a way to do just that. Puckett used two different types of plastic “granules” with different properties that floated atop a layer of air on a small table. Puckett and Daniels wanted to see what would bring the two types of particles into equilibrium with one another. In order to make their measurements, they used a plastic material that indicated a change in force by a change in brightness. Read more ..

The Medical Edge

The Nose That Can Smell Cancer Goes Commercial

February 20th 2013

Baby Boomer

Israeli professor’s revolutionary disease-detection device is on the road to changing how early, and how easily, lung cancer is diagnosed. An Israeli invention that can detect lung cancer from exhaled breath will be commercialized in a joint venture between the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Alpha Szenszor, a Boston-based manufacturer of carbon nanotube sensing equipment. 

Technion Prof. Hossam Haick has been working on what he calls “Na-Nose” (the “na” is for “nanotechnology”) since 2007, and the device has been proven in numerous international clinical trials to differentiate between different types and classifications of cancer with up to 95 percent accuracy.

Patients breathe into a tube; the Na-Nose analyzes the more than 1,000 different gases that are contained in the breath to identify those that may indicate that something’s wrong. It works by binding gases to specific nano-materials, a technique formally known as volatile organic compound (VOC) detection. Read more ..

The Genetic Edge

Mutation for Thick Hair Emerged 30 Thousand Years Ago

February 19th 2013

Thick Hair Man

The first animal model of recent human evolution reveals that a single mutation produced several traits common in East Asian peoples, from thicker hair to denser sweat glands, an international team of researchers report.

The team, led by researchers from Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, Fudan University and University College London, also modeled the spread of the gene mutation across Asia and North America, concluding that it most likely arose about 30,000 years ago in what is today central China.

Featured in the Cell, Professor Mark Thomas of the UCL Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, commented, "There are three parts to this study." Thomas was one of the authors of the paper.  Read more ..

Edge of Space

There is Water but No Cheese on the Moon

February 19th 2013

Moon rock Apollo 15
'Genesis Rock': unbrecciated anorthosite from the Apollo 15 moon mission.

Traces of water have been detected within the crystalline structure of mineral samples from the lunar highland upper crust obtained during the Apollo missions, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues.

The lunar highlands are thought to represent the original crust, crystallized from a magma ocean on a mostly molten early moon. The new findings indicate that the early moon was wet and that water there was not substantially lost during the moon's formation. The results seem to contradict the predominant lunar formation theory — that the moon was formed from debris generated during a giant impact between Earth and another planetary body, approximately the size of Mars, according to U-M's Youxue Zhang and his colleagues.

"Because these are some of the oldest rocks from the moon, the water is inferred to have been in the moon when it formed," Zhang said. "That is somewhat difficult to explain with the current popular moon-formation model, in which the moon formed by collecting the hot ejecta as the result of a super-giant impact of a martian-size body with the proto-Earth. Read more ..

Ancient Days

China's Endangered Terracotta Warriors

February 19th 2013

Chinese terracotta warriors

The preservation of immovable historic relics displayed in large open spaces like China's world-renowned Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses requires air curtains and other modifications to recreate the primitive environment from which archaeologists excavated the relics.

That's the conclusion of a study of environmental control measures for archaeology museums in the People's Republic of China. Their study appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology.

ZhaoLin Gu and colleagues point out that environmental factors have deteriorated many of the more than 1,500 unearthed relics in China's Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, for instance, and in other museums involving large open spaces. Read more ..

The Edge of Farming

Modern Farming Methods Endanger Tasty Central American Coffee Crop

February 18th 2013

Coffee rust
Coffee tree mildly infected by coffee rust. Credit: John Vandermeer

A shift away from traditional coffee-growing techniques may be increasing the severity of an outbreak of 'coffee rust' fungus that has swept through plantations in Central America and Mexico, according to a University of Michigan ecologist who studies the disease. The current outbreak of coffee rust is the worst seen in Central America and Mexico since the fungal disease arrived in the region more than 40 years ago. Guatemala recently joined Honduras and Costa Rica in declaring national emergencies over the disease.

The Guatemalan president said the outbreak could cut coffee production by 40 percent in his country for the 2013-2014 growing season. Because Central America supplies 14 percent of the world's coffee, the outbreak could drive up the price of a cup of coffee. University of Michigan ecologist John Vandermeer has operated research plots at an organic coffee plantation in southern Chiapas, Mexico, for about 15 years. Vandermeer and colleague Ivette Perfecto of the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment study the complex web of interactions between resident organisms there, including various insects, fungi, birds and bats. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

Clues to the Mysterious Origin of Cosmic Rays

February 17th 2013


In the year 1006 a new star was seen in the southern skies and widely recorded around the world. It was many times brighter than the planet Venus and may even have rivaled the brightness of the Moon. It was so bright at maximum that it cast shadows and it was visible during the day. More recently astronomers have identified the site of this supernova and named it SN 1006. They have also found a glowing and expanding ring of material in the southern constellation of Lupus (The Wolf) that constitutes the remains of the vast explosion.

It has long been suspected that such supernova remnants may also be where some cosmic rays — very high energy particles originating outside the Solar System and travelling at close to the speed of light — are formed. But until now the details of how this might happen have been a long-standing mystery. Read more ..

Inside Washington

Russian Meteor Strikes Squarely on Washington Lobbyists

February 16th 2013

Meteor Russia

Might lobbyists one day save the world from killer space rocks?

Don't count on it. But a few cosmos-minded special interests have spent tens of thousands of dollars in recent years prodding the federal government to better track potentially deadly near-earth asteroids, U.S. Senate records indicate. Such activity — easily dismissed as the stuff of space nerds and doomsayers — could now accelerate, as a meteor explosion today over central Russia injured hundreds of people and has already reopened debate about government's role in predicting or averting an even greater calamity.

In 2008, the California Space Authority sent a lobbyist to Washington, D.C., in part to promote passage of HR 4917, a bill sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., that would "establish an Office of Potentially Hazardous Near-Earth Object Preparedness" and "prepare the United States for readiness to avoid and to mitigate collisions with potentially hazardous near-Earth objects in collaboration with other agencies through the identification of situation-and-decision-analysis factors and the selection of procedures and systems." Read more ..

The Edge of Health

Anti-Biotic Resistant Genes in Farm Animals Raise Concerns for Human Health

February 16th 2013

Click to select Image

The increasing production and use of antibiotics, about half of which is used in animal production, contributes to the growing number of antibiotic resistance genes, or ARGs. This effectively reducing antibiotics’ ability to fend off diseases in animals and humans. A study in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that China – the world’s largest producer and consumer of antibiotics – and many other countries don’t monitor the powerful medicine’s usage or impact on the environment.

On Chinese commercial pig farms, researchers found 149 unique ARGs, some at levels 192 to 28,000 times higher than the control samples, said James Tiedje, Michigan State University Distinguished Professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and of plant, soil and microbial sciences, and one of the co-authors. “Our research took place in China, but it reflects what’s happening in many places around the world,” said Tiedje, part of the research team led by Yong-Guan Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “The World Organization for Animal Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been advocating for improved regulation of veterinary antibiotic use because those genes don’t stay local.” Read more ..

The Race for Smart Grid

Quantum Cryptography Put to Work for Electric Grid Security

February 15th 2013

Cryptographic Code Generator

Recently a Los Alamos National Laboratory quantum cryptography (QC) team successfully completed the first-ever demonstration of securing control data for electric grids using quantum cryptography.

The demonstration was performed in the electric grid test bed that is part of the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) project at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) that was set up under the Department of Energy’s Cyber Security for Energy Delivery Systems program in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

Novel methods for controlling the electric grid are needed to accommodate new energy sources such as renewables whose availability can fluctuate on short time scales. This requires transmission of data to and from control centers; but for grid-control use, data must be both trustworthy and delivered without delays. The simultaneous requirements of strong authentication and low latency are difficult to meet with standard cryptographic techniques. New technologies that further strengthen existing cybersecurity protections are needed. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

New Thinking About Cell Phone Safety

February 14th 2013

SAR Test Result Sample

The verdict is still not in, yet there are no shortages of claims on every side debating the possibility that radiation that emanates from handheld mobile phones cause cellular damage.

There is no evidence that demonstrates cancer rates have gone up since the advent of the cell phone. Some researchers and medical professionals are comfortable resting on their laurels, dismissing the possibility of cancer and waving off any problems with cell phone use. Yet, others are not so quick to jump at offering a stamp of approval, claiming that cancer is not the only ailment we should be looking out for.

At a symposium convened at the City University of New York Graduate Center in New York City on Monday, February 11th to announce what is deemed as a breakthrough in science and research, Doctor Nancy Mueller of the Institute of Neurological Care in Englewood New Jersey suggested that the damage that cell phones may cause is yet unknown, and that ailments such as seizures, memory loss, and perhaps even nervous system disorders may be heightened by long-term exposure. She said that especially in children, where the brain is in its development stages, we should do what we can do to protect them and limit their exposure to cell phone emissions. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

U.S. Report Urges Deeper Look into Breast Cancer's Environmental Links

February 13th 2013


A new federal advisory panel report makes a forceful case for more research into environmental causes of breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 227,000 women, killed 40,000 and cost more than $17 billion to treat in the United States last year.

Compiled by the congressionally mandated Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee, the report notes that most cases of breast cancer “occur in people with no family history,” suggesting that “environmental factors — broadly defined — must play a major role in the etiology of the disease.”

Yet only a fraction of federal research funding has gone toward examining links between breast cancer and ubiquitous chemicals such as the plastic hardening agent bisphenol A; the herbicide atrazine; and dioxin, a byproduct of plastics manufacturing and burning, says the report, prepared for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and released today. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

An Old Drug Shows the Way to Treat Diabetes and Obesity

February 12th 2013

Click to select Image

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute have found that amlexanox, an off-patent drug currently prescribed for the treatment of asthma and other uses, also reverses obesity, diabetes and fatty liver in mice.

The findings from the lab of Alan Saltiel, the Mary Sue Coleman director of the Life Sciences Institute, and appear online at the journal Nature Medicine.

"One of the reasons that diets are so ineffective in producing weight loss for some people is that their bodies adjust to the reduced calories by also reducing their metabolism, so that they are 'defending' their body weight," Saltiel said. "Amlexanox seems to tweak the metabolic response to excessive calorie storage in mice." Different formulations of amlexanox are currently prescribed to treat asthma in Japan and canker sores in the United States. Saltiel is teaming up with clinical-trial specialists at U-M to test whether amlexanox will be useful for treating obesity and diabetes in humans. He is also working with medicinal chemists at U-M to develop a new compound based on the drug that optimizes its formula. Read more ..

The Edge of Climate Change

Global Warming Releases Carbon-Laden Gas from Arctic Permafrost

February 12th 2013


Ancient carbon trapped in Arctic permafrost is extremely sensitive to sunlight and, if exposed to the surface when long-frozen soils melt and collapse, can release climate-warming carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere much faster than previously thought. Former University of Michigan graduate student Katy Keller with a hand on eroded and melting permafrost near Toolik Lake, Alaska. The gully erosion seen here is a type of thermokarst failure, formed when ice-rich, permanently frozen soils are warmed and thawed.

University of Michigan ecologist and aquatic biogeochemist George Kling and his colleagues studied places in Arctic Alaska where permafrost is melting and is causing the overlying land surface to collapse, forming erosional holes and landslides and exposing long-buried soils to sunlight.

They found that sunlight increases bacterial conversion of exposed soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas by at least 40 percent compared to carbon that remains in the dark. The team, led by Rose Cory of the University of North Carolina, reported its findings in an article to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Until now, we didn't really know how reactive this ancient permafrost carbon would be — whether it would be converted into heat-trapping gases quickly or not," said Kling, a professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. EEB graduate student Jason Dobkowski is a co-author of the paper. Read more ..

The Edge of Medicine

New Genes for Short-Sightedness Identified

February 10th 2013


An international team of scientists led by King's College London has discovered 24 new genes that cause refractive errors and myopia (short-sightedness).

Myopia is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment worldwide, and currently there is no cure. These findings, published today in the journal Nature Genetics, reveal genetic causes of the trait, which could lead to finding better treatments or ways of preventing the condition in the future.

Thirty per cent of Western populations and up to 80 per cent of Asian people suffer from myopia. During visual development in childhood and adolescence the eye grows in length, but in myopes it grows too long, and light entering the eye is then focused in front of the retina rather than on it. This results in a blurred image. This refractive error can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery. However, the eye remains longer, the retina is thinner, and this may lead to retinal detachment, glaucoma or macular degeneration, especially with higher degrees of myopia. Myopia is highly heritable, although up to now, little was known about the genetic background. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

NASA: Asteroid to Pass Very Near Earth

February 9th 2013

Phoebe from Cassini

Astronomers around the world are preparing for a record-breaking asteroid flyby February 15. Measuring 45 meters in diameter and weighing an estimated 130,000 metric tons, Asteroid 2012 DA14 is considered small by scientists who track the solar system's rocky debris, but it will zip past our planet so closely that it will be even nearer to us than our orbiting weather and communications satellites.

It is the closest-ever-predicted approach for an object this size. Experts emphasize there is no reason for concern. "There's no danger to the planet at all," Lindley Johnson of NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program in Washington told VOA. "We know the orbit quite well now."

Johnson said Asteroid 2012 DA14 will come as close as 27,700 kilometers - about one-tenth the distance between the Earth and the Moon. "Close flybys of asteroids happen quite frequently," explained Johnson, who said more than 20 asteroids have come between the Earth and the Moon in the past year. "But they're usually very small-sized objects - maybe only a few meters in size."  Read more ..

Electronic Edge

Improved 'Peacock' Technology Locks in Color for High-Res Displays

February 8th 2013

peacock display

In a peacock’s iridescent tail, precisely arranged hairline grooves reflect light of certain wavelengths, resulting in brilliant color that looks different depending on the movement of the animal or the observer. Imitating this system – minus the rainbow effect – has been a leading approach to developing advanced color reflective displays. University of Michigan researchers have taken a step toward that goal. Iridescence, or sheen that shifts color depending on your viewing angle, is pretty in peacock feathers. But it's been a nuisance for engineers trying to mimic the birds' unique color mechanism to make high-resolution, reflective, color display screens.

Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have found a way to lock in so-called structural color, which is made with texture rather than chemicals. A paper on the work is published online in the current edition of the Nature journal Scientific Reports. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

Forcasting a Supernova Explosion

February 6th 2013

Chandra super nova

Type II supernovae are formed when massive stars collapse, initiating giant explosions. It is thought that stars emit a burst of mass as a precursor to the supernova explosion. If this process were better understood, it could be used to predict and study supernova events in their earliest stages. New observations from a team of astronomers including Carnegie's Mansi Kasliwal show a remarkable mass-loss event about a month before the explosion of a type IIn supernova. Their work is published on February 7 in Nature.

Several models for the supernova-creation process predict pre-explosion outbursts, but it has been difficult for scientists to directly observe this process. Observations of emission lines radiating out form type IIn supernovae are thought to represent interactions between the mass ejected during and prior to the star's explosion

The Palomar Transient Factory team, led by Eran Ofek of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, observed an energetic outburst from a supernova called SN2010mc that radiated at least 6x1040th joules of energy and released about 2x1028th kilograms (one hundredth of a solar mass). This mass-loss was observed 40 days before the supernova exploded. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

A Spellchecker on Speed

February 6th 2013


Want going out in Friday?’ Make sure you’ve typed it right with high flying new Israeli software. Ginger understands language context enough to make sure you write what you intend to.

Speakers of English as a second language are painfully aware of the intricacies and nuances of their adopted tongue. “Want going out in Friday?” might make perfect sense to the non-native speaker but is utterly incorrect. Technology can help: Spellcheckers do a passable job at the basics and Microsoft Word understands how to match tense and suggest active versus passive construction.

But how about this text message: “Hey dude, let’s go grab a bear tonight.” The sender presumably intended to kick back with a few beers. However, “bear” is a perfectly fine word to a spellchecker.

Enter Ginger Proofreader from Israel’s Ginger Software, a new web and mobile product that understands language context well enough to make sure you’ve written what you intended to. Ginger works its magic through a deep connection to linguistics, semantics and the “wisdom of the crowds.” Read more ..

Electronic Edge

Green Method Creates Silicon Crystals just like Sugar Water makes Rock Candy

February 5th 2013

Silicon crystals from liquid metal

A new way of making crystalline silicon, developed by University of Michigan researchers, could make this crucial ingredient of computers and solar cells much cheaper and greener.

Silicon dioxide, or sand, makes up about 40 percent of the earth's crust, but the industrial method for converting sand into crystalline silicon is expensive and has a major environmental impact due to the extreme processing conditions.

"The crystalline silicon in modern electronics is currently made through a series of energy-intensive chemical reactions with temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit that produces a lot of carbon dioxide," said Stephen Maldonado, professor of chemistry and applied physics. Read more ..

Ancient Times

Neaderthals of Spain Didn't Co-Exist with Modern Homo sapiens

February 5th 2013

Neanderthal child mannequin

The theory that the last Neanderthals – Homo neanderthalensis– persisted in southern Iberia at the same time that modern humans –Homo sapiens sapiens– advanced in the northern part of the peninsula, has been widely accepted by the scientific community during the last twenty years. An international study, in which researchers of the Spanish National Distance Education University (UNED) participate, questions this hypothesis.

"It is improbable that the last Neanderthals of central and southern Iberia would have persisted until such a late date, approximately 30,000 years ago, as we thought before the new dates appeared," assured Jesús F. Jordá, researcher of the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology of the UNED and co-author of the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Future Smart Devices Will Extend Our Senses

February 3rd 2013

Smart phone

Imagine shopping for clothes online and being able to run your hand across the screen on your computer or smartphone to feel the fabrics. That kind of simulation technology could be available within the next five years. “We’re talking about reinventing the way computers operate and you interact with them as humans,” says IBM Vice President Bernie Meyerson.

Extending our sense of touch is one of five innovatons IBM believes will change the world in the next five years, according to the company's annual "Five in Five" list. Smart machines will also soon be able to listen to the environment and highlight the sounds we care about most. For instance, an advanced speech recognition system will tell new parents why their baby is crying.

“Your child is hungry, versus ill, versus lonely," Meyerson says. "This kind of thing is not possible today, but with a sophisticated enough system, it’s actually possible.”

In the near future, personal computers will be able to do more than recognize images and visual data. Their built-in cameras will be able to analyze features such as colors, and understand the meaning of visual media, such as knowing how to sort family photos. Read more ..

Ancient America

Comet Impact Did Not Kill off Ancient American Clovis Culture

February 2nd 2013

comet strike earth edge

Rebutting a speculative hypothesis that comet explosions changed Earth's climate sufficiently to end the Clovis culture in North America about 13,000 years ago, Sandia lead author Mark Boslough and researchers from 14 academic institutions assert that other explanations must be found for the apparent disappearance.

"There's no plausible mechanism to get airbursts over an entire continent," said Boslough, a physicist. "For this and other reasons, we conclude that the impact hypothesis is, unfortunately, bogus." In a December 2012 American Geophysical Union monograph, the researchers point out that no appropriately sized impact craters from that time period have been discovered, nor have any unambiguously "shocked" materials been found. Read more ..

The Edge of Healthcare

Bioelectric Signals Can Be Used To Detect Early Cancer

February 2nd 2013

Tumor in Tadpole Embryo

Biologists at Tufts University School of Arts and Sciences have discovered a bioelectric signal that can identify cells that are likely to develop into tumors. The researchers also found that they could lower the incidence of cancerous cells by manipulating the electrical charge across cells' membranes.

"The news here is that we've established a bioelectric basis for the early detection of cancer," says Brook Chernet. Michael Levin,director of the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, notes, "We've shown that electric events tell the cells what to do. The voltage changes are not merely a sign of cancer. They control and direct whether the cancer occurs or not." Read more ..

Edge of Entomology

Cracking a Mystery of the Ravenous Gypsy Moth

February 1st 2013

gypsy moth caterpillar

Working beneath the towering oaks and maples on the University of Michigan's central campus Diag, undergraduate researchers and their faculty adviser helped explain an observation that had puzzled insect ecologists who study voracious leaf-munching gypsy moth caterpillars. The caterpillars, which defoliate and sometimes kill stands of trees in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast, are especially fond of oaks, but sugar maple trees appear to be relatively resistant to the European pest.

Biologists wondered whether the caterpillars shun sugar maples in part because their leaves are less nutritious than the leaves of other trees. To find out, U-M biochemist Ray Barbehenn and several of his undergraduate research assistants compared the protein quality of red oak and sugar maple leaves from trees on the Diag. Read more ..

Ancient America

DNA Evidence Offers Clues to Pre-Aztec Culture of Mexico

January 31st 2013

Aztec calendar

For centuries, the fate of the original Otomí inhabitants of Xaltocan, the capital of a pre-Aztec Mexican city-state, has remained unknown. Researchers have long wondered whether they assimilated with the Aztecs or abandoned the town altogether.

According to new anthropological research from The University of Texas at Austin, Wichita State University and Washington State University, the answers may lie in DNA. Following this line of evidence, the researchers theorize that some original Otomies, possibly elite rulers, may have fled the town. Their exodus may have led to the reorganization of the original residents within Xaltocan, or to the influx of new residents, who may have intermarried with the Otomí population. Read more ..

Ancient Times

Newly Discovered Fossil Evidence challenges Bird Evolution Theory

January 29th 2013

Eosinopteryx dinosaur  - Royal Belgian Ins of Natural Sci.
Eosinopteryx (Credit: Royal Belgian Ins. of Natural Science)

The discovery of a new bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic period challenges widely accepted theories on the origin of flight. Co-authored by Dr Gareth Dyke, Senior Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Southampton, the paper describes a new feathered dinosaur about 30 cm in length which pre-dates bird-like dinosaurs that birds were long thought to have evolved from.

Over many years, it has become accepted among palaeontologists that birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs called theropods from the Early Cretaceous period of Earth’s history, around 120-130 million years ago. Recent discoveries of feathered dinosaurs from the older Middle-Late Jurassic period have reinforced this theory. Read more ..

Microbiology Edge

Tricking Iron-Eating Bacteria into Breathing Electrons Instead

January 29th 2013

rust iron oxide wikipedia

Scientists have developed a way to grow iron-oxidizing bacteria using electricity instead of iron, an advance that will allow them to better study the organisms and could one day be used to turn electricity into fuel. The study will be published on January 29 in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

The method, called electrochemical cultivation, supplies these bacteria with a steady supply of electrons that the bacteria use to respire, or "breathe". It opens the possibility that one day electricity generated from renewable sources like wind or solar could be funneled to iron oxidizing bacteria that combine it with carbon dioxide to create biofuels, capturing the energy as a useful, storable substance.

"It's a new way to cultivate a microorganism that's been very difficult to study. But the fact that these organisms can synthesize everything they need using only electricity makes us very interested in their abilities," says Daniel Bond of the BioTechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, who co-authored the paper with Zarath Summers and Jeffrey Gralnick. Read more ..

The Edge of Medicine

Artificial Pancreas: The Way of The Future for Treating Type 1 Diabetes

January 28th 2013


Researchers, led by endocrinologist Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, were the first to conduct a trial comparing a dual-hormone artificial pancreas with conventional diabetes treatment using an insulin pump and showed improved glucose levels and lower risks of hypoglycemia. Their results can have a great impact on the treatment of type 1 diabetes by accelerating the development of the external artificial pancreas.

The artificial pancreas is an automated system that simulates the normal pancreas by continuously adapting insulin delivery based on changes in glucose levels. The dual-hormone artificial pancreas tested at the IRCM controls glucose levels by automatically delivering insulin and glucagon, if necessary, based on continuous glucose monitor (CGM) readings and guided by an advanced algorithm.

“We found that the artificial pancreas improved glucose control by 15 per cent and significantly reduced the risk of hypoglycemia as compared with conventional insulin pump therapy,” explains engineer Ahmad Haidar, first author of the study and doctoral student in Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret’s research unit at the IRCM and at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University. "The artificial pancreas also resulted in an 8-fold reduction of the overall risk of hypoglycemia, and a 20-fold reduction of the risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia." Read more ..

The Nanotechnology Edge

Potential Benefits and Threats of Nanotechnology Research

January 27th 2013

Human Eye by Suren Manvelyan

Every day scientists learn more about how the world works at the smallest scales. While this knowledge has the potential to help others, it's possible that the same discoveries can also be used in ways that cause widespread harm.

A new article in the journal Nanomedicine, born out of a Federal Bureau of Investigation workshop held at the University of Notre Dame in September 2012, tackles this complex "dual-use" aspect of nanotechnology research.

"The rapid pace of breakthroughs in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and other fields, holds the promise of great improvements in areas such as medical diagnosis and treatment" says Kathleen Eggleson, a research scientist in Notre Dame's Center for Nano Science and Technology and the author of the study. "But the risk of misuse of these breakthroughs rises along with the potential benefit. This is the essence of the 'dual-use dilemma.'"

The report examines the potential for nano-sized particles (which are measured in billionths of a meter) to breach the blood-brain barrier, the tightly knit layers of cells that afford the brain the highest level of protection—from microorganisms, harmful molecules, etc.—in the human body. Some neuroscientists are purposefully engineering nanoparticles that can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) so as to deliver medicines in a targeted and controlled way directly to diseased parts of the brain. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

NASA Spots Solar Braids

January 27th 2013

Red Giant engulfs one of its planets

Five or 10 minutes is not a long time when it comes to a NASA mission, but it was long enough for NASA's High Resolution Coronal Imager, or Hi-C, telescope to capture the sharpest images ever taken of the sun's scorching atmosphere.
The sun's surface is about 5,000 degrees Celsius, but its atmosphere can be millions of degrees hotter.  Scientists, including Hi-C mission principal investigator Jonathan Cirtain, are working to figure out what energy source is heating the solar atmosphere.  
"This high temperature atmosphere is where space weather is initiated and where energetic events like flares and coronal mass ejections can originate," Cirtain told reporters during a NASA teleconference.  "So understanding the energy supply for the corona has implications across the stellar structure and heliophysics, in general." NASA launched a suborbital rocket carrying the telescope last July.  Hi-C snapped 165 images of an active region in the sun's corona, and the telescope could see features in the solar atmosphere that were only 150-kilometers across.

The Ancient Edge

Roman-Era Skeleton shows Ovarian Tumor with Teeth

January 26th 2013

Roman era ovarian tumor with teeth

A team of researchers led by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Spain, has found the first ancient remains of a calcified ovarian teratoma, in the pelvis of the skeleton of a woman from the Roman era. The find confirms the presence in antiquity of this type of tumour - formed by the remains of tissues or organs, which are difficult to locate during the examination of ancient remains. Inside the small round mass, four teeth and a small piece of bone were found.

Teratomas are usually benign and contain remains of organic material, such as hair, teeth, bones and other tissues. There are no references in the literature to ovarian teratomas in ancient remains like those found in this study, led by the researcher Núria Armentano of the Biological Anthropology Unit of the UAB and published in the International Journal of Paleopathology. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

Chameleon Star Baffles Astronomers

January 26th 2013

gaseous ring on star

Pulsars — tiny spinning stars, heavier than the sun and smaller than a city — have puzzled scientists since they were discovered in 1967. Now, new observations by an international team, including University of Vermont astrophysicist Joanna Rankin, make these bizarre stars even more puzzling. The scientists identified a pulsar that is able to dramatically change the way in which it shines. In just a few seconds, the star can quiet its radio waves while at the same time it makes its X-ray emissions much brighter. The research “challenges all proposed pulsar emission theories,” the team writes in the Jan. 25 edition of the journal Science and reopens a decades-old debate about how these stars work.

Unexpected X-rays
Like the universe’s most powerful lighthouses, pulsars shine beams of radio waves and other radiation for trillions of miles. As these highly magnetized neutron stars rapidly rotate, a pair of beams sweeps by, appearing as flashes or pulses in telescopes on Earth. Read more ..

The Edge of Climate Change

Greenland Ice Cores Offer Preview Climate Change

January 25th 2013


Ice cores drilled in the Greenland ice sheet, recounting the history of the last great warming period more than 120,000 years ago, are giving scientists their clearest insight to a world that was warmer than today.

In a paper published today in the journal Nature, scientists have used a 2,540 metre long Greenland ice core to reach back to the Eemian period 115-130 thousand years ago and reconstruct the Greenland temperature and ice sheet extent back through the last interglacial. This period is likely to be comparable in several ways to climatic conditions in the future, especially the mean global surface temperature, but without anthropogenic or human influence on the atmospheric composition.

The Eemian period is referred to as the last interglacial, when warm temperatures continued for several thousand years due mainly to the earth's orbit allowing more energy to be received from the sun. The world today is considered to be in an interglacial period and that has lasted 11,000 years, and called the Holocene. Read more ..

The Edge of Climate Change

Satellites and Cell Towers Yield Climate Clues

January 24th 2013

Hurricane Isabel

An Israeli professor’s recent article in the American Journal of Climate Change is making waves for its suggestion of how to standardize global testing of pollution levels toward a better understanding of how smog affects the weather.

Working with graduate student Olga Shvainshtein and scientist Pavel Kishcha, Prof. Pinhas Alpert of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences pored over eight years’ worth of comprehensive data from three NASA aerosol-monitoring satellites to track pollution trends in 189 large cities, including New York City, Tokyo and Mumbai.

They discovered that Northeast China, India, the Middle East and Central Africa suffered the highest increases in atmospheric pollutant particles between 2002 and 2010, while Europe and northeast and central North America are experiencing the greatest decreases in aerosol concentrations. The air over Houston, Texas; Curitiba, Brazil; and Stockholm, Sweden, is slowly getting cleaner. Read more ..

Edge of Climate Change

Water Source for Millions Endangered by Retreating Andean Glaciers

January 23rd 2013

Andes glacier

Glaciers in the tropical Andes have been retreating at increasing rate since the 1970s, scientists write in the most comprehensive review to date of Andean glacier observations. The researchers blame the melting on rising temperatures as the region has warmed about 0.7°C over the past 50 years (1950-1994). This unprecedented retreat could affect water supply to Andean populations in the near future. These conclusions were published The Cryosphere, an Open Access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

The international team of scientists – uniting researchers from Europe, South America and the US – shows in the new paper that, since the 1970s, glaciers in tropical Andes have been melting at a rate unprecedented in the past 300 years. Read more ..

Edge of Climate Change

American Midwest to Experience Significant Events in Global Climate Change

January 22nd 2013

Minneapolis skyline

Climate change will lead to more frequent and more intense Midwest heat waves while degrading air and water quality and threatening public health. Intense rainstorms and floods will become more common, and existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated. Those are some of the conclusions contained in the Midwest chapter of a draft report released by the U.S. government that assesses the key impacts of climate change on every region in the country and analyzes its likely effects on human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Three University of Michigan researchers were lead convening authors of chapters in the 1,100-plus-page National Climate Assessment, which was written by a team of more than 240 scientists. Read more ..

The Edge of Climate Change

Melt Ponds Cause Arctic Ice to Melt More Rapidly

January 21st 2013


The Arctic sea ice has not only declined over the past decade but has also become distinctly thinner and younger. Researchers are now observing mainly thin, first-year ice floes which are extensively covered with melt ponds in the summer months where once metre-thick, multi-year ice used to float. Sea ice physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have now measured the light transmission through the Arctic sea ice for the first time on a large scale, enabling them to quantify consequences of this change. They come to the conclusion that in places where melt water collects on the ice, far more sunlight and therefore energy is able to penetrate the ice than is the case for white ice without ponds. The consequence is that the ice is absorbing more solar heat, is melting faster, and more light is available for the ecosystems in and below the ice. The researchers have now published these new findings in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.


The Edge of Meicine

Placenta May Be a Source for Human Eggs

January 20th 2013


Israeli researchers report that cells from the placenta may one day be used to produce human eggs for women who do not ovulate. Women who want to become pregnant but do not ovulate – whether because of premature menopause or some other condition – have few choices today aside from using eggs surgically harvested from another woman.

In the future, however, thanks to Israeli research, it may be possible to generate human eggs from amniotic membrane cells taken from the placenta – the protective afterbirth normally discarded after a baby is born. The first-of-its-kind discovery was made by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology doctoral student Ayelet Evron under the mentorship of Dr. Eliezer Shalev, dean of the medical school.

The experiments were carried out with Dr. Shulamit Goldman of Emek Medical Center’s Laboratory for Research in Reproductive Sciences. Amniotic membrane cells arise about eight days after conception. Their job is to preserve the plasticity of an embryo’s cells before they differentiate. Evron and Shalev found that these cells also have the ability to differentiate into ones that express the properties of the germ cells that produce eggs in a woman’s ovaries. Read more ..

See Earlier Stories 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

Copyright © 2007-2017The Cutting Edge News About Us

Warning: Unknown: open(/home/content/87/4373187/tmp/sess_t247j3m0t48gfmhfs31t9n4el2, O_RDWR) failed: No such file or directory (2) in Unknown on line 0

Warning: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct () in Unknown on line 0