‘Standing on a sea cliff howling at the moon.’
Posts tagged as: clever
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Sunday, November 29, 2009
‘An Italian doctor has been getting dramatic results with a new type of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, which affects up to 2.5 million people worldwide. In an initial study, Dr. Paolo Zamboni took 65 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, performed a simple operation to unblock restricted bloodflow out of the brain – and two years after the surgery, 73% of the patients had no symptoms. Dr. Zamboni’s thinking could turn the current understanding of MS on its head, and offer many sufferers a complete cure. [..]
It’s generally accepted that there’s no cure for MS, only treatments that mitigate the symptoms – but a new way of looking at the disease has opened the door to a simple treatment that is causing radical improvements in a small sample of sufferers.
Italian Dr. Paolo Zamboni has put forward the idea that many types of MS are actually caused by a blockage of the pathways that remove excess iron from the brain – and by simply clearing out a couple of major veins to reopen the blood flow, the root cause of the disease can be eliminated.’
Friday, August 28, 2009
‘Using an atomic-force microscope, scientists at IBM Research in Zurich have for the first time made an atomic-scale resolution image of a single molecule, the hydrocarbon pentacene.
Atomic-force microscopy works by scanning a surface with a tiny cantilever whose tip comes to a sharp nanoscale point. As it scans, the cantilever bounces up and down, and data from these movements is compiled to generate a picture of that surface. These microscopes can be used to “see” features much smaller than those visible under light microscopes, whose resolution is limited by the properties of light itself. Atomic-force microscopy literally has atom-scale resolution.
Still, until now, it hasn’t been possible to use it to look with atomic resolution at single molecules. On such a scale, the electrical properties of the molecule under investigation normally interfere with the activity of the scanning tip. Researchers at IBM Research in Zurich overcame this problem by first using the microscope tip to pick up a single molecule of carbon monoxide. This drastically improved the resolution of the microscope, which the IBM scientists used to make an image of pentacene. They arrived at carbon monoxide as a contrast-enhancing addition after trying many chemicals.’
Monday, November 17, 2008
‘A manhunt is under way in western Germany for a convicted drug dealer who escaped by mailing himself out of jail.
The 42-year-old Turkish citizen – who was serving a seven-year sentence – had been making stationery with other prisoners destined for the shops.
At the end of his shift, the inmate climbed into a cardboard box and was taken out of prison by express courier. His whereabouts are still unknown.
The chief warden of the jail told the BBC this was an embarrassing incident.’
Friday, October 24, 2008
‘Scotch tape is not only see-through, it can also see through, for the product can be used to take X-rays, bemused scientists say.
Peeling tape from a roll of Scotch releases tiny bursts of X-rays that are powerful enough to take images of bones in fingers and hands, researchers have found.
The unusual discovery was made by a University of California at Los Angeles team, intrigued after hearing that Soviet scientists in the 1950s found that sticky tape, when separated at the right speed, released pulses in the X-ray part of the energy spectrum.
Reporting in Thursday’s issue of the British-based science journal Nature, the investigators used a motorised peeling machine to unwind a standard roll (25.4 metres in length by 19 mm) of Photo Safe 3M Scotch tape at a speed of three centimetres (1.18 inches) a second.’
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
‘The Large Hadron Collider fired its first beam around the machine’s full track at 10:28 AM local time (1:36 AM Pacific time).
No actual atoms were smashed today — that won’t start for weeks — and no results are expected for months, at the earliest. Still, like first light in a telescope, the first beam in the particle accelerator is a landmark moment for a program that has spanned more than 20 years and involved tens of thousands of scientists.
“What has been shown today is that technically it all works,” said Jos Engelen, chief science officer for CERN, the European scientific research agency directing the efforts, in a live webcast from Geneva.’
Saturday, August 16, 2008
‘Meet Gordon, probably the world’s first robot controlled exclusively by living brain tissue.
Created from cultured rat neurons, Gordon’s primitive grey matter was designed at the UK’s University of Reading by scientists who unveiled the neuron-powered machine yesterday.
Their groundbreaking experiments explore the vanishing boundary between natural and artificial intelligence, and could shed light on the basic building blocks of memory and learning, a lead researcher said.
“The purpose is to figure out how memories are stored in a biological brain,” said Kevin Warwick, a professor at the University of Reading and one of the robot’s principle architects.’
Friday, August 15, 2008
This week, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—the world’s most powerful particle accelerator—began test runs, sending a stream of protons around a quarter of its 27-kilometer circumference. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (known as CERN), in Geneva, Switzerland, where the LHC is housed, says the tests are part of the preparations for the machine’s projected 10 September start-up date.
The experiment will hurtle two hair-thin beams of hundreds of trillions of protons around a ring-shaped accelerator at 99.99 percent the speed of light, knocking the beams together 11 000 times each second. According to CERN LHC accelerator physicist Rüdiger Schmidt, who is in charge of machine protection systems, each unimpeded beam is capable of melting a 500-kilogram block of copper.
Even the slightest malfunction could lead to a catastrophic accident, so CERN has spent nearly two decades devising an interlocking system of fail-safes. One of these is a method of safely purging a proton beam, which has a higher chance of becoming unstable the longer it is whipped around the circular accelerator. Every 10 hours the accelerator gets fresh beams. But first the old ones are dumped into specially designed absorbers called beam dump blocks.’
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
‘A baby dying from kidney failure was saved when her doctor designed and built her a dialysis machine from scratch in his garage.
Millie Kelly was too small for conventional NHS machines, so Dr Malcolm Coulthard and a colleague constructed a scaled-down version.
Two years later, her mother Rebecca says she is “fit as a fiddle”. [..]
Rebecca, from Middlesbrough, said: “It was a green metal box with a few paint marks on it with quite a few wires coming out of it into my daughter – it didn’t look like a normal NHS one.
“But it was the only hope for her – even when she got hooked up to the dialysis machine, they said that every hour was a bonus.
“She’s fine now, a normal two-year-old – I just can’t thank him enough for saving my baby’s life.”‘
Saturday, August 2, 2008
‘Surgeons have performed the world’s first double arm transplant.
The 16-hour operation was carried out last Friday on a farm worker who lost both arms in an accident.
The 54-year-old man was given the arms of a teenage boy who is believed to have died in a road crash. [..]
The patient, who lost his arms in a threshing machine six years ago, is said to be recovering well from the surgery. Doctors said he regained consciousness on Sunday and smiled at his wife. [..]
He said it was difficult to forecast the psychological effect on the man of having the arms of a youth 35 years his junior.’
Friday, July 18, 2008
‘Thomas Hickman drove through New Mexico, police say, until his Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo ran out of gas. Then the 55-year-old North Richland Hills man walked into a field, tied helium balloons to a gun, covered his mouth with duct tape, and shot himself in the back of the head, according to New Mexico State Police.
That determination is a far leap from what authorities first suspected when Mr. Hickman’s body was discovered March 15 near Santa Rosa, N.M., about 100 miles east of Albuquerque. Authorities initially thought the Red Lobster executive had been kidnapped and slain.
But investigators came to the conclusion that Mr. Hickman committed suicide. The first clue was the bundle of white helium balloons, with the gun still attached, found snagged on bushes and cactus near Mr. Hickman’s body.’
Thursday, July 3, 2008
‘Investigators funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research are conducting research under the name of “ghost-imaging,” where a visual image of an object is created by means of light that has never interacted with the object.
The new technology may result in a more versatile use of field sensors, and have space applications. [..]
Ghost-imaging is similar to taking a flash-lit photo of an object using a normal camera. The image forms from photons that come out of the flash, bounce off the object, and then are focused through the lens onto photo-reactive film or a charge-coupled array.
“But, in this case, the image is not formed from light that hits the object and bounces back,” Dr. Shih said. “The camera collects photons from the light sources that did not hit the object, but are paired through a quantum effect with others that did. An image of the toy begins to appear after approximately a thousand pairs of photons are recorded.’
‘Researchers at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands have developed a technique for generating atom clusters made from silver and other metals. Surprisingly enough, these so-called super atoms (clusters of 13 silver atoms, for example) behave in the same way as individual atoms and have opened up a whole new branch of chemistry. A full account can be read in the new edition of TU Delft magazine Delft Outlook.
If a silver thread is heated to around 900 degrees Celsius, it will generate vapour made up of silver atoms. The floating atoms stick to each other in groups. Small lumps of silver comprising for example 9, 13 and 55 atoms appear to be energetically stable and are therefore present in the silver mist more frequently that one might assume. Prof. Andreas Schmidt-Ott and Dr. Christian Peineke of TU Delft managed to collect these super atoms and make them suitable for more detailed chemical experiments.’
Saturday, June 28, 2008
‘”Flabbergasted” NASA scientists said on Thursday that Martian soil appeared to contain the requirements to support life, although more work would be needed to prove it.
Scientists working on the Phoenix Mars Lander mission, which has already found ice on the planet, said preliminary analysis by the lander’s instruments on a sample of soil scooped up by the spacecraft’s robotic arm had shown it to be much more alkaline than expected.
“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past present or future,” Sam Kounaves, the lead investigator for the wet chemistry laboratory on Phoenix, told journalists.
“It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well. … It is very exciting for us.”‘
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
‘I’m sitting in a fast-food restaurant outside Boston that, because of a nondisclosure agreement I had to sign, I am not allowed to name. I’m waiting to visit Apollo Diamond, a company about as secretive as a Soviet-era spy agency. Its address isn’t published. The public relations staff wouldn’t give me directions. Instead, an Apollo representative picks me up at this exurban strip mall and drives me in her black luxury car whose make I am not allowed to name along roads that I am not allowed to describe as twisty, not that they necessarily were.
“This is a virtual diamond mine,” says Apollo CEO Bryant Linares when I arrive at the company’s secret location, where diamonds are made. “If we were in Africa, we’d have barbed wire, security guards and watch towers. We can’t do that in Massachusetts.” Apollo’s directors worry about theft, corporate spies and their own safety. When Linares was at a diamond conference a few years ago, he says, a man he declines to describe slipped behind him as he was walking out of a hotel meeting room and said someone from a natural diamond company just might put a bullet in his head. “It was a scary moment,” Linares recalls.’
Monday, June 23, 2008
‘For more than 400 years, astronomers have studied the sun from afar. Now NASA has decided to go there.
“We are going to visit a living, breathing star for the first time,” says program scientist Lika Guhathakurta of NASA Headquarters. “This is an unexplored region of the solar system and the possibilities for discovery are off the charts.”
The name of the mission is Solar Probe+ (pronounced “Solar Probe plus”). It’s a heat-resistant spacecraft designed to plunge deep into the sun’s atmosphere where it can sample solar wind and magnetism first hand. Launch could happen as early as 2015. By the time the mission ends 7 years later, planners believe Solar Probe+ will solve two great mysteries of astrophysics and make many new discoveries along the way.
[..] “To solve these mysteries, Solar Probe+ will actually enter the corona,” says Guhathakurta. “That’s where the action is.”‘
Saturday, June 21, 2008
‘NASA spent $420 million to send the Phoenix Lander to Mars last year. Festooned with state-of-the-art detection equipment, the rover’s task was to scour the red surface in search of elusive Martian ice. And today, the NASA mission finally did uncover some extraterrestrial frost, and it did it with its simplest tool, a shovel.
The rover was digging a trench nicknamed Dodo-Goldilocks with its robotic arm when it hit some hard, refelective material. The scientists back on Earth who control Phoenix halted the digging, and spent the next couple of days taking photographs of the hole, trying to figure out what they were looking at in the ditch. Was the whitish material a kind of salt? But over those days of photography and scrutiny, something interesting happened to the marble-sized chunks. They evaporated. Long entombed beneath the iron-oxide surface of the red planet, the substance turns out to be part of a frozen layer of water just below the ground covered by Phoenix.’
Thursday, June 19, 2008
‘Optical illusions are to be painted onto city streets in the United States in an effort to slow traffic.
The images will appear as 3D barriers to oncoming motorists, although the road is completely flat.
The fake speed humps are being installed at 100 junctions around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as part of a campaign against aggressive driving.
“The goal is to change the mindset,” said Philadelphia’s chief traffic engineer Charles Denny.
“The driver sees this in the roadway, and they think that it’s some protrusion up out of the roadway, and not a perfectly flat surface. So they slow down before they drive over it.”‘
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
‘A major evolutionary innovation has unfurled right in front of researchers’ eyes. It’s the first time evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait.
And because the species in question is a bacterium, scientists have been able to replay history to show how this evolutionary novelty grew from the accumulation of unpredictable, chance events. [..]
But sometime around the 31,500th generation, something dramatic happened in just one of the populations – the bacteria suddenly acquired the ability to metabolise citrate, a second nutrient in their culture medium that E. coli normally cannot use.
Indeed, the inability to use citrate is one of the traits by which bacteriologists distinguish E. coli from other species. The citrate-using mutants increased in population size and diversity.’
‘Under the gleam of blinding lamps, engulfed by banks of angrily frothing flasks, Makoto Watanabe is plotting a slimy, lurid-green revolution. He has spent his life in search of a species of algae that efficiently “sweats” crude oil, and has finally found it.
Now, exploiting the previously unrecognised power of pondlife, Professor Watanabe dreams of transforming Japan from a voracious energy importer into an oil-exporting nation to rival any member of Opec. [..]
Professor Watanabe’s vision arises from the extraordinary properties of the Botryococcus braunii algae: give the microscopic green strands enough light – and plenty of carbon dioxide – and they excrete oil. The tiny globules of oil that form on the surface of the algae can be easily harvested and then refined using the same “cracking” technologies with which the oil industry now converts crude into everything from jet fuel to plastics.’
‘The most complex, “mind-boggling” crop circle ever to be seen in Britain has been discovered in a barley field in Wiltshire.
The formation, measuring 150ft in diameter, is apparently a coded image representing the first 10 digits, 3.141592654, of pi.
It is has appeared in a field near Barbury Castle, an iron-age hill fort above Wroughton, Wilts, and has been described by astrophysicists as “mind-boggling”.
Michael Reed, an astrophysicist, said: “The tenth digit has even been correctly rounded up. The little dot near the centre is the decimal point. [..]’
Monday, June 16, 2008
‘t may sound unusual, but Macie Hope McCartney was born twice. The baby, who is now one month old, was returned to the womb after surgery, only to have a second arrival 2 months later, reports the MSNBC news channel.
Keri McCartney was 23 weeks into pregnancy when an ultrasound scan revealed the foetus had a noncancerous tumour. It was the size of a grapefruit – and almost as big as the foetus itself.
Normally a tumour like this remains small and can be treated after birth, but this was not the case for little Macie Hope. It grew rapidly and was threatening the baby’s life as it was stealing nourishment from the foetus. Surgery was the only option.
Doctors put Keri into deep anesthesia to completely relax her womb and extracted about 80 percent of Macie Hope’s body – leaving only the head and upper body in the womb. Then they quickly removed the tumour and put the foetus back, since exposure to air could provoke a cardiac arrest. This part of the four-hour-long procedure lasted about 20 minutes.’
Thursday, June 12, 2008
‘Long-tailed macaques eat mostly fruit — but when resources are scarce, they’ve been known to get creative with their cuisine. When living near humans, they raid gardens and learn to beg for food. Sometimes they even steal food from inside houses.
Now, for the first time, scientists have observed long-tailed macaques fishing with their bare hands. [..]
The macaques’ eyes scanned the water. After about three minutes, one of the macaques reached into the river. With her bare hands, she pulled out a fish and quickly ate it. Other macaques watched her — and one even tried unsuccessfully to catch a fish herself.
“Clearly it may raise the question of whether there is some sort of learning going on,” says Meijaard. “If perhaps a couple of generations back, one primate caught a fish and it was subsequently copied.”’
Saturday, June 7, 2008
‘A dying man who literally gambled on his own life plans to spend his bookie’s winnings on booze, fags and death-defying theme park rides!
“Well, why not?” said pragmatic Jon Matthews who has been living on borrowed time ever since he was diagnosed with an untreatable asbestos-linked cancer more than two years ago. [..]
He walked into Fenny Stratford’s William Hill Bookmakers last September and told surprised staff he wanted to take out a £100 bet against the doctors’ prediction that he’d dead by Christmas.
“I thought it would be a bit of fun and I thought it would give me an incentive to battle this horrible illness and survive a bit longer. The people at William Hill checked all the facts and gave me odds of 50-1.”‘
Friday, June 6, 2008
‘A peace campaigner from Newtown will tomorrow ask Reading magistrates for a warrant to arrest George W Bush.
Peter Burt, of Biko Court, is taking his case to court to try to get the American president arrested for war crimes.
Mr Burt, of Reading Peace Group, plans to outline the offences that ‘Dubya’, left, has committed and the international laws that he has broken, including the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of Afghanistan and the abduction, illegal detention and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
He said: “The historians of the future will mention the name Bush in the same breath as the names of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and other great criminals who have committed the most appalling crimes that humanity has known.
“I will be asking Reading magistrates to stand up for international law by issuing an arrest warrant so that George Bush can be held to account for his crimes in the International Criminal Court.”‘
Thursday, June 5, 2008
‘German nursing homes are using a novel strategy to stop Alzheimer’s patients from wandering off: phantom bus stops.
The idea was first tried at Benrath Senior Centre in Düsseldorf, which pitched an exact replica of a standard stop outside, with one small difference: buses do not use it. [..]
“It sounds funny but it helps,” said Franz-Josef Goebel, the chairman of the “Old Lions” association.
“Our members are 84 years old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works, but the long-term memory is still active.
“They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.”
The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.
“We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later and invite them in for a coffee,” said Richard Neureither, Benrath’s director. “Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave.”‘
Sunday, June 1, 2008
‘[..] Largent fulfilled the pop-culture dream that was popularized in such movies as Office Space and Superman 3 – stealing a large sum of money, $50,000 to be exact, a few pennies at a time.
Largent used a massive fraud scheme to trick Google Checkout and online brokers like E-trade and Schwab to send him the sum, a few cents at a time. The fraud was made possible by a common practice relatively unknown to the general public. When users open up accounts with these sites, the site sends a tiny payment from a few cents to a few dollars to the user. The payment is meant to verify that the user has access to the account and that it’s active.
By opening 58,000 such accounts, Largent funneled money through the channels into a few private bank accounts. Largent raked in $8,000 from Google’s Checkout alone.’