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September 6, 2006, 4:56 AM CT

Antarctica getting warmer

Antarctica getting warmer
Despite recent indications that Antarctica cooled considerably during the 1990s, new research suggests that the world's iciest continent has been getting gradually warmer for the last 150 years, a trend not identifiable in the short meteorological records and masked at the end of the 20th century by large temperature variations.

Numerous ice cores collected from five areas allowed scientists to reconstruct a temperature record that shows average Antarctic temperatures have risen about two-tenths of a degree Celsius, or about one-third of a degree Fahrenheit, in 150 years. That might not sound like much, but the overall increase includes a recorded temperature decline of nearly 1 degree in the 1990s, said David Schneider, a University of Washington postdoctoral researcher in Earth and space sciences.

"Even if you account for the cooling in the '90s, we still see that two-tenths of a degree increase from the middle of the 1800s to the end of the 20th century," said Schneider, the lead author of a paper detailing the work published Aug. 30 in Geophysical Research Letters.

The main reason that Antarctica appears to have cooled during the 1990s is that a natural phenomenon called the Antarctic Oscillation, or Southern Annular Mode, was largely in its positive phase during that time. The Antarctic Oscillation is so named because atmospheric pressure in far southern latitudes randomly oscillates between positive and negative phases. During the positive phase, a vortex of wind is tightly focused on the polar region and prevents warmer air from mixing with the frigid polar air, which keeps Antarctica colder.........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source


September 5, 2006, 9:48 PM CT

New Kind Of Cosmic Explosion

New Kind Of Cosmic Explosion
For the first time a star has been observed in real-time as it goes supernova a mind bogglingly powerful explosion as the star ends its life, the resulting cosmic eruption briefly outshining an entire galaxy. UK scientists, in collaboration with international colleagues, used NASA's Swift satellite and a combination of orbiting and ground-based observatories to catch a supernova in the act of exploding. The results, including an associated and intriguing Gamma Ray Burst [GRB], appear in 31 recent issue of Nature.

The event began on the 18th February, 2006, in a star forming galaxy about 440 million light-years away toward the constellation Aries. At that time it was immediately realised that this was an unusual gamma-ray burst, about 25 times closer and 100 times longer than a typical gamma-ray burst. The burst lasted for almost 40 minutes as opposed to a typical GRB of a few milliseconds to tens of seconds. Because the burst was so long Swift was able to observe the bulk of the explosion with all three of its instruments: the Burst Alert Telescope, which detected the burst and relayed the location to ground observatories within 20 seconds; the X-ray telescope [XRT] and Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope [UVOT], which provide high-resolution imagery and spectra across a broad range of wavelengths.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 5, 2006, 7:22 PM CT

Gold Nanoparticles Are Hot Stuff

Gold Nanoparticles Are Hot Stuff
Gold nanoparticles are highly efficient and sensitive "handles" for biological molecules being manipulated and tracked by lasers, but they also can heat up fast-by tens of degrees in just a few nanoseconds-which could either damage the molecules or help study them, as per researchers at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado at Boulder.

Biophysicists often study nanoscale and even picoscale mechanics by using lasers to both apply force to and track the position of fragile biomolecules such as DNA or protein by manipulating a tiny sphere-typically polystyrene-attached to the molecule. The JILA team would like to find new microsphere materials that can be trapped by laser radiation pressure more efficiently, which would enable faster measurements and detection of smaller motions at the same laser power. As described in the Aug. 15 issue of Optics Letters,* the JILA team demonstrated that 100-nanometer-wide gold beads, as expected because of their metallic nature, can be trapped and detected six times more easily than polystyrene particles of a similar size.

However, the researchers also observed that gold absorbs light and heats up quickly, by a remarkable 266 degrees (Celsius) per watt of laser power, at the wavelength most often used in optical traps. Unless very low laser power is used, the heat could damage the molecules under study. Thus, gold beads would not be useful for temperature-sensitive experiments or applying force to molecules. But the heating effect could be useful in raising local temperatures in certain experiments, such as heating a protein just enough to allow researchers to watch it unfold, the paper suggests.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


September 4, 2006, 10:11 PM CT

SMART-1 swan song

SMART-1 swan song
Right up to its final orbits, SMART-1 continued delivering valuable data, extending the mission's legacy as a technology and scientific success. Researchers and engineers met today at ESOC to review mission achievements including final AMIE camera images.

At a press event held today at ESA's Spacecraft Operations Centre (ESOC), SMART-1 engineers, operations experts and researchers are presenting data and preliminary results obtained by the spacecraft previous to its impact on the Moon at 07:42 CEST, 3 September 2006.

Perhaps the most sentimental image sequence was taken by AMIE just four days before impact, on 29 August at 21:00 CEST (19:00 UT), when the camera was pointed back towards the Earth to capture, in the best tradition of a number of prior lunar missions, a view of our home planet. The sequence of images is centred over Brazil at approximately 44.9º West and 19.2º South (North is to the left). The Kourou area in French Guiana, from where SMART-1 was launched in 2003, is also visible.

Remarkably, this movie sequence shows the Moon passing in front of the Earth, beautifully underlining the close gravitational relationship between the Earth and its natural satellite.

Final orbits offered new imaging opportunities

During SMART-1's final orbits on 1 and 2 September, the spacecraft was passing at extremely low altitude over the Moon's surface, which was in darkness, prompting researchers to take advantage of this unique observational situation by pointing the AMIE camera laterally toward the Moon's limb (horizon). The camera gathered images of the thin dust envelope surrounding the Moon, which will be analysed by researchers in the future.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 3, 2006, 7:04 AM CT

Atlantis would be Launched on Sept 6

Atlantis would be Launched on Sept 6 Space Shuttle Atlantis, September 8, 2000
John F. Kennedy Space Center, State of Florida, USA
The six Atlantis crew members flew Saturday morning from their home base in Houston to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they will begin final launch preparations for mission STS-115.

The countdown officially begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, at the T-43 hour mark, which includes over 30 hours of built-in hold time prior to a targeted 12:29 p.m. EDT launch on Wednesday. The launch time is the middle point in the launch window that extends for 10 minutes.

Atlantis' Crew and Mission

The STS-115 crew consists of Commander Brent W. Jett Jr., Pilot Christopher J. Ferguson and Mission Specialists Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joseph R. Tanner, Daniel C. Burbank and Steven G. MacLean, who represents the Canadian Space Agency.

With this mission, NASA is ready to get back to building the International Space Station, marking the first time in almost four years that a space station component has been added to the orbiting outpost. That also means the shuttle program is coming up on some of the most challenging space missions ever.

During their three spacewalks, crew members of Atlantis will install the P3/P4 integrated truss and a second set of solar arrays on the space station, doubling the station's current ability to generate power from sunlight and adding 17.5 tons to its mass.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


September 3, 2006, 5:45 AM CT

The Mysterious Nanocosmos

The Mysterious Nanocosmos Both figures above show the filaments in a human nerve cell; left with a common confocal microscope, right with a STED microscope
There is an amazing and mysterious nanocosmos out there largely unexplored. How viruses infect a cell, how nerve cells transport signals or how proteins work - the nanocosmos of nature remains hidden to the human eye. However, in order to still be able to perceive the seemingly invisible, we need to enlarge the object - for example, with a fluorescence microscope. Fluorescent markers are attached to proteins and other biomolecules so that scientists can observe the marker. For a long time, low resolution prevented a deeper look into the function of proteins - single proteins with their dimension of 2-20 nanometers diameter were, until now, just too small.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen have now achieved a resolution of up to 15nm with their STED microscope (Stimulated Emission Depletion). Their fluorescence microscope is thereby twelve times sharper than a conventional one. Already in April, the team of scientists lead by Professor Stefan Hell achieved a detail sharpness of up to 60 nanometers in cells.

Only a few years ago, physicists believed that it was impossible to resolve details that lie closer together than 200 nanometers. This limit is imposed by Abbe's Law, whereby the resolution of a light microscope cannot be more accurate than half of the wavelength of light entering the microscope.........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source


September 2, 2006, 9:23 PM CT

Info From Plant Destroyers

Info From Plant Destroyers
An international team of researchers has published the first two genome sequences from a destructive group of plant pathogens called Phytophthora--a name that literally means "plant destroyer." The more than 80 species of fungus-like Phytophthora (pronounced "fy-TOFF-thor-uh") attack a broad range of plants and together cost the agriculture, forestry and nursery industries hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Even though Phytophthora are similar to fungi, most fungicides are ineffective at controlling them. The information gained from studying the genomic sequences of P. ramorum and P. sojae will help researchers devise strategies to combat not only these two species, but also other disease-causing Phytophtora.

The study appears in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal Science.

Phytophthora sojae, an endemic pathogen of soybeans, is responsible for $1 billion to $2 billion in losses worldwide each year. Phytophthora ramorum is linked to sudden oak death, a disease that has devastated the nursery industry and oak ecosystems in California, Oregon and Washington.More than 1 million native oak and tanoak trees have been lost to the disease.

In addition to soybean and oak, Phytophthora species cause disease in avocado, coconut, papaya, pineapple, potato, strawberry and watermelon, to name a few. The pathogen also destroys an estimated 450,000 tons of cocoa beans with a resulting $400 million loss in chocolate production each year.........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source


September 2, 2006, 9:11 PM CT

High-flying balloons track hurricane formation

High-flying balloons track hurricane formation
The eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean is out of range for U.S. hurricane-hunter aircraft, and forecasters have little skill predicting which systems brewing there will develop into hurricanes, atmospheric scientists say. So, to find out how some of the most dangerous hurricanes form, U.S. and French researchers are launching large, specialized balloons carrying nearly 300 instruments over wide swaths of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean.

The first launch of a balloon with its instruments, called a driftsonde, took place at Zinder, Niger, on Aug. 28. Some seven more driftsondes will be released from Zinder through late September, coinciding with the peak period of hurricane formation over the tropical Atlantic.

"Data from the driftsondes should help characterize the conditions that either foster or suppress hurricane formation," said the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Cliff Jacobs, who oversees support for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo.

Scientists and engineers at NCAR and the French space agency, CNES, developed the driftsondes. The research was funded by NSF, NCAR's primary sponsor, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Each balloon will drift from Africa toward the Caribbean at heights of around 65,000-70,000 feet, where light easterly winds prevail. Twice a day, each balloon will release an instrument known as a dropsonde that falls by parachute, sensing the weather conditions during its 20-minute descent and sending data back to the balloon and then to the researchers by satellite.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 31, 2006, 4:17 PM CT

Fashion Designers via Technology

Fashion Designers via Technology
That's right, Angelo Russica has decided to take fashion design to the web. Using a web-based design school that is dedicated to teaching all aspects of design including the basic skills needed, history of design and the aesthetics of Italian fashion, www.fashioncampus.it is born.

A number of students had apparently complained about the fact that they had spent thousands of dollars learning the trade yet never had a job that correlation to fashion, once they left these schools. Angelo Russica decided to make it a little cheaper and less intrusive by using technology.

Modeling the lessons so that each individual lesson is built upon the prior lesson, you slowly graduate into more expansive knowledge of the industry and Italian design. The lessons require the students to actively participate and encourage a number of different things such as learning to analyze the market and find sources for information sought.

With 7 sections, 27 chapters, 197 pages and more than 170 exercises, they hope to teach with a different mode of getting the knowledge out but still allow the students to acquire the same skill level that is reached in typical schools.

Sounds interesting to me but do they get to digitally display the degree too? I think this is going to become more commonplace as online degrees and colleges start pepping up their courses.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 31, 2006, 4:07 PM CT

Bluetooth Headset X-Sport BTH-11

Bluetooth Headset X-Sport BTH-11
Looks like we have a possible winner of the best Bluetooth Headsets on the market category, the X-Sport BTH-11 made by Teiling Technology is the latest addition to their product line and as per the company, it is the one and only headset in the market with wireless range for approximately 20 to 30 meters, the device also marks the difference by the design that uses a tube to capture the best of your beautiful voice! There are still more interesting attributes, such as a vibration mode and good battery times that go from 15 to 18 hours while using it, or up to 500 hours in standby mode.

The X-Sport BTH-11 is available at i-tech for $89.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


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