We are being drawn towards the unknown

November 8, 2008 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
clipped from news.nationalgeographic.com

On the outskirts of creation, unknown, unseen “structures” are tugging on our universe like cosmic magnets, a controversial new study says.

Everything in the known universe is said to be racing toward the massive clumps of matter at more than 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) an hour—a movement the researchers have dubbed dark flow.

The presence of the extra-universal matter suggests that our universe is part of something bigger—a multiverse—and that whatever is out there is very different from the universe we know, according to study leader Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The theory could rewrite the laws of physics. Current models say the known, or visible, universe—which extends as far as light could have traveled since the big bang—is essentially the same as the rest of space-time (the three dimensions of space plus time).

Social Interactions Can Alter Gene Expression In Brain, And Vice Versa

November 8, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
A critical insight came in 1992, in a study of songbirds led by David Clayton. He and his colleagues found that expression of a specific gene increases in the forebrain of a zebra finch or canary just after it hears a new song from a male of the same species. This gene, egr1, codes for a protein that itself regulates the expression of other genes.
clipped from www.sciencedaily.com

Our DNA determines a lot about who we are and how we play with others, but recent studies of social animals (birds and bees, among others) show that the interaction between genes and behavior is more of a two-way street than most of us realize.
Genes in the brain are malleable, turning on or off in response to internal and external cues. While genetic variation influences brain function and social behavior, the authors write, social information also alters gene expression in the brain to influence behavior.
Thanks to the newly sequenced genomes of several social animals, including honey bees and zebra finches, and new technologies such as microarrays (which allow researchers to glimpse the activity of thousands of genes at a time) neuroscientists are gradually coming to understand that “there is a dynamic relationship between genes and behavior,”
“Behavior is not etched in the DNA.”

Ancient Cave’s Clues To Chinese History

November 8, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
clipped from www.cbsnews.com
A stalagmite rising from the floor of a cave in China is providing clues to the end of several dynasties in Chinese history.
Slowly built from the minerals in dripping water over 1,810 years, chemicals in the stone tell a tale of strong and weak cycles of the monsoon, the life-giving rains that water crops to feed millions of people.
Dry periods coincided with the demise of the Tang, Yuan and Ming dynasties, researchers report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.
There were decade-long fluctuations between A.D. 190 and 530, the end of the Han Dynasty and most of the Era of Disunity, the researchers said. From 530 to 850 the monsoon declined, covering the end of the Era of Disunity, the Sui Dynasty and most of the Tang Dynasty.
According to the researchers, the 9th-century dry period contributed to the decline of the Tang Dynasty and the Mayans in Mesoamerica. It also may have contributed to the lack of unity during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, they said.

Day One

November 8, 2008 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
Obama faces a Cold War threat and a warning from Israel

Gordon Brown became one of the first world leaders to congratulate Obama in a ten-minute telephone call last night. Aides said they discussed Obama’s plans for a phased withdrawal from Iraq and his commitment to boost forces in Afghanistan.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House, President Bush said he would be meeting Mr Obama next week and is making ‘unprecedented efforts’ to make a smooth transition during his final 74 days in office.

As if the instant foreign policy tests were not enough, Mr Obama was also facing more economic problems with the Dow Jones Index dropping for a second successive day.

Wall Street greeted his election win by plunging nearly 500 points on Wednesday and it was down again by 274 points in afternoon trading.

clipped from www.dailymail.co.uk

The U.S. President-elect faced a triple threat with Russia, Israel and Afghanistan all threatening to test his mettle.

Locked away in his Chicago home, Mr Obama received his first national security intelligence briefing yesterday as he wrestled with appointments for his Cabinet.

Straight to work: President-elect Obama faces a looming international crisis

Barack Obama

He ventured out twice, once to visit his local gym and then his downtown offices.

Each time he was escorted by a convoy of black vehicles carrying heavily armed secret service agents.

Barack Obama

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was first to lay down a challenge to America’s new leader - by increasing tension in a stand off reminiscent of the Cold War.

On watch: A secret service agent in a convoy that took Obama to the gym

Obama security

In the frame for Mr Obama’s cabinet: John Kerry (left) and Bill Richardson

Senator John Kerry

Bill Richardson

Hello, goodbye: President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush outside the White House, after addressing his staff on the transition

George W.Bush and Laura Bush
Chief of Staff

Mr Obama has offered the role of Chief of Staff to controversial Rahm Emanuel in his first selection for the new administration
Rahm Emanuel

Do we get wiser with age?

November 8, 2008 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
“Is age a prerequisite for wisdom, though? We all know a few elderly people who lack wisdom, while we may know few young people that have wisdom in spades. People certainly aren’t always at peak brainpower in old age; after all, when wrinkles begin appearing on the face, it usually means that wrinkles have started disappearing on the brain. The brain shrinks slightly with age, and aging leads to a normal decline in cognitive function that may eventually bloom into dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease”.
clipped from health.howstuffworks.com

Do we really get wiser with age?

Do we really get wiser with age?

Do wrinkles on the face tell you anything about wrinkles on the brain? It’s commonly believed that that grandpa has more knowledge than his young whippersnapper of a grandkid. Does the theory hold up?

clipped from health.howstuffworks.com
While philosophers and religious traditions have provided readings on the nature of wisdom for centuries, the concept didn’t become a subject of scientific study until 1950. That’s when psychoanalyst Erik Erikson created an eight-stage theory of the human life cycle. In each stage, a person faces an internal struggle that develops different aspects of personality.
For example, an infant’s struggle is the battle between trust and mistrust; when infants feel they can trust those around them, they develop a sense of hope
last stage, old age, people grapple with the balance between their personal sense of integrity and defeat in the face of death and physical disintegration. If integrity wins out, then the result, according to Erikson, is wisdom.

Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamonds

November 8, 2008 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Lifescape | 1 Comment
Whoever thought that science was a dry subject might change their mind after learning about a new discovery in which tequila is turned into diamonds. A team of Mexican scientists found that the heated vapor from 80-proof (40% alcohol) tequila blanco, when deposited on a silicon or stainless steel substrate, can form diamond films.
clipped from phunkyou.com

Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamondstequilas.jpg

A team of Mexican scientists found that the heated vapor from 80-proof (40% alcohol) tequila blanco, when deposited on a silicon or stainless steel substrate, can form diamond films.
The key to the surprising discovery is tequila’s ratio of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, which lies within the “diamond growth region.” The resulting diamond films could have inexpensive commercial applications as electrical insulators, say researchers Javier Morales, Luis Miguel Aptiga, and Vctor Manuel Castao from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Morales is also with Nuevo Lens Autonomous University).

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