Science Art: Giant Animals: Modern and Extinct (detail), by Mary McLain

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These are prehistoric animals compared to their modern relatives and, for scale, a human. A human who’s interested in what they’re like… except when…

Look out! HELL PIG!

There are plenty more of the majestic giants (and some terrifying ones) at NPR’s Skunk Bear tumblog.

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Science Art: Jupiter's Rings by LORRI, 2007.

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The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).

This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …

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SONG: Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)

SONG: “Thirty-Five Minutes (from Earth)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”

ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).

So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…

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Science Art: Doree, Zeus, Faber by Edward Donovan


Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.

I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):

John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…

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Science Art: Her Majesty's Cochins; Imported in 1843, published 1904.

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These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.

This picture is from The Asiatics; Brahmas, Cochins and Langshans, all varieties, their origin; peculiarities of shape and color; egg production; their ma…

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Science Art: Soaking Up the Rays of a Sun-Like Star, by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, 2015.

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This is an artist’s impression of a planet just discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission that’s gotten the folks at SETI all excited.

It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…

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My great-grandmother was stressed when she was pregnant AND IT FREAKS ME OUT!

8 August 2014 // 0 Comments

Science Daily has yet more research on the heritability of stress, with research that shows the effects of stress on one pregnant mom can last four generations: A first generation of rats were subjected to stress late in pregnancy. The following two generations were then split into two groups that were either stressed or not stressed. The daughters of stressed rats had shorter pregnancies than the daughters of those who had not been. Remarkably, the grand-daughters of stressed rats had shorter pregnancies, even if their mothers had not been stressed. As well as shorter pregnancies, the rats whose grandmothers and mothers experienced stress displayed higher glucose levels than the control group. In addition, rats whose grandmothers or mothers who were stressed weighed less. Gerlinde Metz [of Canada’s University of Lethbridge], senior author of the article, says: “We show that stress across generations becomes powerful enough to shorten pregnancy length in rats and induce hallmark features […]

The cool bedroom weight-loss plan.

1 August 2014 // 0 Comments

VCU researchers have found a cool way to boost your body’s supply of (metabolism-raising) brown fat cells – by turning down your air conditioning: Researchers found that mild, prolonged cold exposure – in the range commonly achieved in climate-controlled buildings – is sufficient to expand brown adipose tissue mass and activity, while exposure to warm temperatures result in suppression of this tissue. Brown adipose tissue is a specialized form of fat tissue that produces heat by burning energy to maintain an organism’s core temperature. In the study, published last month in the journal Diabetes, researchers studied the effects of long-term exposure to mild cold on fat cells in five healthy, lean male volunteers. They spent a total of four consecutive months sleeping in the temperature-controlled rooms at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Center. They were able to perform normal activities during the day. During the first month, the overnight temperature was “neutral” at […]

Fish are saving the planet.

9 June 2014 // 0 Comments

Aquaman may have had more going for him than he gets credit for. Scientific American reveals the amazing power fish have to reverse global warming: By assigning a dollar value to carbon stored in ocean ecosystems, two recent scientific reports are attempting to make nations reconsider the true worth of their fishing activities. The first, a new assessment backed by the Global Ocean Commission, roughly estimates that fish and other aquatic life in the high seas absorb enough carbon dioxide to avert $74 billion to $222 billion in climate damage per year. A second recently published study found that each year, deep-sea fish swimming off the United Kingdom’s and Ireland’s shores capture and store a quantity of carbon emissions worth €8 million to €14 million on the European carbon market, or up to $20 million. … The first study, led by the University of Southampton in the U.K. and the Marine Institute of Ireland, sheds […]

Young blood renews old brains.

5 May 2014 // 0 Comments

PhysOrg reveals a new discovery in vampire science – that infusion of blood from young mice makes old mice brains youthful again: …[T]hey also conducted a critical experiment that was far from sophisticated, said Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, the senior author of the study and a professor of neurology and neurological sciences [at Stanford]. The scientists simply compared older mice’s performance on standard laboratory tests of spatial memory after these mice had received infusions of plasma (the cell-free part of blood) from young versus old mice, or no plasma at all. “This could have been done 20 years ago,” said Wyss-Coray, who is also senior research career scientist at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. “You don’t need to know anything about how the brain works. You just give an old mouse young blood and see if the animal is smarter than before. It’s just that nobody did it.” … When the investigators compared […]

We can get embryonic stem cells… by cloning adults.

29 April 2014 // 0 Comments

Nature introduces yet another ethical wrinkle into the production of stem cells, with new techniques to create cell-generating embryos from adult cells: On 17 April, researchers led by Young Gie Chung and Dong Ryul Lee at the CHA University in Seoul reported in Cell Stem Cell that they had cloned embryonic stem-cell (ES cell) lines made using nuclei from two healthy men, aged 35 and 752. And in a paper published on Nature‘s website today, a team led by regenerative medicine specialist Dieter Egli at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute describes ES cells derived from a cloned embryo containing the DNA from a 32-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes. The researchers also succeeded in differentiating these ES cells into insulin-producing cells. … At present, studies to test potential cell therapies derived from ES cells are more likely to gain regulatory approval than those testing therapies derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, […]

Aging-reversing remedy ready for human trials. It already works on mice.

1 April 2014 // 0 Comments

The Las Vegas Guardian Liberty Voice is turning back the hands of time with the latest study that promises to reverse aging: The study was published in the peer reviewed science journal Cell after researchers from both the U.S and Australia made the breakthrough discovery. Lead researcher David Sinclair of the University of New South Wales says he is hopeful that the outcome can be reproduced in human trials. A successful result in people would mean not just a slowing down of aging but a measurable reversal. The study showed that after administering a certain compound to the mice, muscle degeneration and diseases caused by aging were reversed. Sinclair says the study results exceeded his expectations, explaining: I’ve been studying aging at the molecular level now for nearly 20 years and I didn’t think I’d see a day when ageing could be reversed. I thought we’d be lucky to slow it down a little bit. […]

Slime logic. Who needs silicon chips?

28 March 2014 // 0 Comments

Science Daily has a lively take on computing, with new circuits made of living slime molds: Andrew Adamatzky (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK) and Theresa Schubert (Bauhaus-University Weimar, Germany) have constructed logical circuits that exploit networks of interconnected slime mold tubes to process information. One is more likely to find the slime mold Physarum polycephalum living somewhere dark and damp rather than in a computer science lab. In its “plasmodium” or vegetative state, the organism spans its environment with a network of tubes that absorb nutrients. The tubes also allow the organism to respond to light and changing environmental conditions that trigger the release of reproductive spores. In earlier work, the team demonstrated that such a tube network could absorb and transport different colored dyes. They then fed it edible nutrients — oat flakes — to attract tube growth and common salt to repel them, so that they could grow a network […]

Should you really eat that lobster? On invertebrates and pain…

28 February 2014 // 0 Comments

New Scientist takes a surprisingly nuanced look at the way things like oysters and shrimp might actually be responding to trauma. They’re not all the same. Research shows that, as much as we want a guilt-free crab boil, invertebrates do feel pain… some of them: Unlike crustaceans, insects seem to have no pain-related behaviours. If an insect’s leg is damaged, for example, it does not groom or try to protect the limb afterwards. Even in extreme cases, insects show no evidence of pain. Imagine a praying mantis eating a locust, says Smid. With its abdomen opened up, the locust will still feed even while being fed on itself.

Mother’s milk made to order.

17 February 2014 // 0 Comments

Breastfeeding, the Australian Broadcasting Corp tells us, is a little more bespoke than one might expect: “Mothers are producing different biological recipes for sons and daughters,” says Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University. Studies in humans, monkeys and other mammals have found a variety of differences in both the content and the quantity of milk produced. One common theme: baby boys often get milk that is richer in fat or protein — and thus energy — while baby girls often get more milk. … It’s not yet clear why human mothers produce such different milk for their babies, says Hinde. There is evidence, however, that the stage is set while the baby is still in utero. Hinde published a study last week that showed that the sex of the foetus influences the milk production of cows long after they are separated from their calves &emdash; typically within hours of the birth. The study […]

Everybody ages… well, except when they don’t. Meet the Peter Pans.

11 December 2013 // 0 Comments

Nature uncovers the secret lives of creatures that never grow old: A comparison of standardized demographic patterns across 46 species, published today in Nature, suggests that the vast diversity of ‘ageing strategies’ among them challenges the notion that evolution inevitably leads to senescence, or deterioration of mortality and fertility, with age, says Owen Jones, a biologist at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, who led the study. “By taking a grand view and doing a survey across species, we found plenty of violations of this underpinning theory,” says Jones. To compare fertility and mortality patterns, the authors assembled published life-history data sets for 11 mammals, 12 other vertebrates, 10 invertebrates, 12 vascular plants and a green alga, and standardized the trajectories — dividing mortality rates at each point in the lifespan by the average mortality rate. They found no association between the length of life and the degree of senescence. Of the 24 species […]

Death is slow. Slower than we thought.

27 August 2013 // 0 Comments

Discovery takes a long look at a slow death… watching life leave cell by cell… bit by bit: David Gems from the Institute of Health Aging at University College London, who led the study, explained: “We’ve identified a chemical pathway of self-destruction that propagates cell death in worms, which we see as this glowing blue fluorescence traveling through the body. It’s like a blue grim reaper, tracking death as it spreads throughout the organism until all life is extinguished.” … Scientists now cannot revive every single cell in a body, once it’s aged out of commission. But if the worm study is any indication, researchers might be able to stop the calcium signaling biochemical spread of death under other non-aging-related circumstances. So there’s hope.

SONG: “Regenerative Medicine”

24 August 2013 // 0 Comments

SONG: “Regenerative Medicine” [Download] (To download: double right-click & “Save As”) ARTIST: grant. SOURCE: Based on “Decellularized Mouse Heart Beats Again After Regenerating With Human Heart Precursor Cells,” Science Daily, 13 August 2013, as used in the post “A regenerated heartbeat.” ABSTRACT: Maybe I should count this one as late, but I’m still awake and when I woke up, it was the 23rd, and there was a heck of a lot going on today, so this is today and not tomorrow and dammit, this thing is on time. (I’m still one penitential cover in the hole… I haven’t forgotten.) Anyway, this is a post-rock song, done under the influence of equal parts Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Gethan Dick (see the Honorary Troubadours list for more on her). Hearts! That were so dead they weren’t even there – and look! BACK TO LIFE! That’s pretty whoooah. There’s a double bass in here, and a didjeridu […]

A regenerated heartbeat

14 August 2013 // 1 Comment

Science Daily reports on a rebuilt heart – a mouse heart remade with human stem cells – that they’ve gotten to start beating: For the first time, a mouse heart was able to contract and beat again after its own cells were stripped and replaced with human heart precursor cells, said scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. … For the project, the research team first “decellularized,” or removed all the cells, from a mouse heart, a process that takes about 10 hours using a variety of agents. Then, they repopulated the remaining heart framework, or scaffold, with multipotential cardiovascular progenitor (MCP) cells. These replacement cells were produced by reverse engineering fibroblast cells from a small skin biopsy to make induced pluripotent stem cells and then treating the iPS cells with special growth factors to further induce differentiation. “This process makes MCPs, which are precursor cells that can further differentiate into three kinds […]

(Can’t beat this headline) “How to regrow your head.”

6 August 2013 // 0 Comments

Nature has the details on what it takes to come back from a decapitation: Knocking out a single gene can switch on a worm’s ability to regenerate parts of its body, even enabling it to grow a new head. The fact that such a simple manipulation can restore healing abilities provides new insight into how the stem cells involved in this process are marshalled in animals. … Scientists already knew that the Wnt genes are expressed in a gradient along the worms’ bodies — from high at the tail to low at the head — and suspected that the genes were involved in directing stem cells during healing. In the latest studies, researchers wanted to find out if a lack of Wnt gene expression was responsible for the poorer regenerative abilities in particular worm species. … To explain the disparity, Jochen Rink, a molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and […]

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