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New Research Provides Evidence of Strong Early Magnetic Field Around Earth

Slashdot - Science - Hace 7 horas 39 mins
New research from the University of Rochester provides evidence that the magnetic field that first formed around Earth was even stronger than scientists previously believed. The research, published in the journal PNAS, will help scientists draw conclusions about the sustainability of Earth's magnetic shield and whether or not there are other planets in the solar system with the conditions necessary to harbor life. Phys.Org reports: Using new paleomagnetic, electron microscope, geochemical, and paleointensity data, the researchers dated and analyzed zircon crystals -- the oldest known terrestrial materials -- collected from sites in Australia. The zircons, which are about two-tenths of a millimeter, contain even smaller magnetic particles that lock in the magnetization of the earth at the time the zircons were formed. Previous research by [John Tarduno, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Dean of Research for Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at Rochester] found that Earth's magnetic field is at least 4.2 billion years old and has existed for nearly as long as the planet. Earth's inner core, on the other hand, is a relatively recent addition: it formed only about 565 million years ago, according to research published by Tarduno and his colleagues earlier this year. While the researchers initially believed Earth's early magnetic field had a weak intensity, the new zircon data suggests a stronger field. But, because the inner core had not yet formed, the strong field that originally developed 4 billion years ago must have been powered by a different mechanism. "We think that mechanism is chemical precipitation of magnesium oxide within Earth," Tarduno says. The magnesium oxide was likely dissolved by extreme heat related to the giant impact that formed Earth's moon. As the inside of Earth cooled, magnesium oxide could precipitate out, driving convection and the geodynamo. The researchers believe inner Earth eventually exhausted the magnesium oxide source to the point that the magnetic field almost completely collapsed 565 million years ago. But the formation of the inner core provided a new source to power the geodynamo and the planetary magnetic shield Earth has today.

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A Newly-Discovered Part of Our Immune System Could Be Harnessed To Treat All Cancers, Say Scientists.

Slashdot - Science - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 21:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The Cardiff University team discovered a method of killing prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests. The findings, published in Nature Immunology, have not been tested in patients, but the researchers say they have "enormous potential." Our immune system is our body's natural defense against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells. The scientists were looking for "unconventional" and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumors. What they found was a T-cell inside people's blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated. The difference is this one could attack a wide range of cancers. T-cells have "receptors" on their surface that allow them to "see" at a chemical level. The Cardiff team discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells. Crucially, it left normal tissues untouched. Exactly how it does this is still being explored. This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body. It is thought MR1 is flagging the distorted metabolism going on inside a cancerous cell to the immune system. Treatment would include extracting T-cells from a blood sample of a cancer patient and then genetically modifying them so they were reprogrammed to make the cancer-finding receptor. The upgraded cells would be grown in vast quantities in the lab and then put back into the patient.

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Ultrafast Camera Takes 1 Trillion Frames Per Second of Transparent Objects, Phenomena

Slashdot - Science - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 18:50
After developing the world's fastest camera a little over a year ago, Caltech's Lihong Wang decided that wasn't good enough and started working on an even faster device. A new paper published in the journal Science Advances details a new camera from Wang that can take up to 1 trillion pictures per second of transparent objects. Phys.Org reports: The camera technology, which Wang calls phase-sensitive compressed ultrafast photography (pCUP), can take video not just of transparent objects but also of more ephemeral things like shockwaves and possibly even of the signals that travel through neurons. Wang explains that his new imaging system combines the high-speed photography system he previously developed with an old technology, phase-contrast microscopy, that was designed to allow better imaging of objects that are mostly transparent such as cells, which are mostly water. The fast-imaging portion of the system consists of something Wang calls lossless encoding compressed ultrafast technology (LLE-CUP). Unlike most other ultrafast video-imaging technologies that take a series of images in succession while repeating the events, the LLE-CUP system takes a single shot, capturing all the motion that occurs during the time that shot takes to complete. Since it is much quicker to take a single shot than multiple shots, LLE-CUP is capable of capturing motion, such as the movement of light itself, that is far too fast to be imaged by more typical camera technology. In the new paper, Wang and his fellow researchers demonstrate the capabilities of pCUP by imaging the spread of a shockwave through water and of a laser pulse traveling through a piece of crystalline material.

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Hospitals Give Tech Giants Access To Detailed Medical Records

Slashdot - Science - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 16:44
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals have granted Microsoft, IBM and Amazon the ability to access identifiable patient information under deals to crunch millions of health records, the latest examples of hospitals' growing influence in the data economy. This breadth of access wasn't always spelled out by hospitals and tech giants when the deals were struck. The scope of data sharing in these and other recently reported agreements reveals a powerful new role that hospitals play -- as brokers to technology companies racing into the $3 trillion health-care sector. Rapid digitization of health records in recent years and privacy laws enabling companies to swap patient data have positioned hospitals as a primary arbiter of how such sensitive data is shared. Microsoft and Providence, a Renton, Wash., hospital system with data for about 20 million patient visits a year, are developing cancer algorithms by using doctor's notes in patient medical records. The notes haven't been stripped of personally identifiable information, according to Providence. And an agreement between IBM and Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston, to jointly develop artificial intelligence allows the hospital to share personally identifiable data for specific requests, people involved in the agreement said -- though so far the hospital hasn't done so and has no current plans to do so, according to hospital and IBM officials. Microsoft executive Peter Lee in July described how his company would use Providence patient data without identifying information for algorithm development. In a December statement, he said patients' personal health data remains in Providence's control and declined to comment further. As for Amazon, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, granted certain AWS employees access to health information that identifies individual patients. "The Hutch, a research institution with ties to hospitals, trained and tested Amazon Web Services software designed to read medical notes," the report says. "An AWS spokeswoman said it doesn't use personally identifiable data protected under federal privacy laws to develop or improve its services."

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China Reports More Than 200 Infections With New Coronavirus From Wuhan

Slashdot - Science - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 15:30
The outbreak of a new virus that began in the Chinese city of Wuhan last month appears to be far from over. Today, Chinese health authorities reported that over 130 new pneumonia cases caused by the virus were identified over the weekend, bringing the total in China alone to 201, including three outside Wuhan. From a report: There has also been a third death from the infection, and South Korea now has reported a case as well -- the third country outside China to do so. Meanwhile, the pattern of spread makes it increasingly unlikely that the virus does not transmit between people, some experts say. "Uncertainty and gaps remain, but it's clear that there is some level of person-to-person transmission," Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust in London, said in a statement today. "The sudden spike in cases is disconcerting, but not entirely unexpected," says Adam Kamradt-Scott, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Sydney. As more people learn about the disease, more will go to doctors, Kamradt-Scott says, even with mild symptoms, whereas previously they might have just stayed home. And doctors are now on the lookout for the new disease. "The result is that you see a sudden surge in cases," he says. But âoeif we continue to see this trend continue over the next week where there are 50 to 100 new cases every day, then that would be cause for further concern."

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People Can Be Identified By the Way They Dance

Slashdot - Science - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 14:50
Might it be possible that someday in the near future, an official might get you to dance around a bit, in order to confirm that you're really you? Perhaps not, but nonetheless, a recent study has determined that people's identities can be matched to their unique style of dancing. From a report: Scientists at Finland's University of Jyvaskyla started out by using motion capture technology to see if test subjects' psychological traits could be ascertained from the way in which they danced -- such traits included their mood, their level of empathy, and how extroverted or neurotic they were. The researchers were also interested in seeing if simply by watching a person dance, it would be possible to determine what sort of music they were dancing to. This only worked about 30 percent of the time. What they unintentionally discovered, however, was that regardless of the type of music, each person has a characteristic style of dancing that can be identified and matched specifically to themselves. Doing so is accomplished utilizing machine learning algorithms, in conjunction with the motion capture tech. In the study, a total of 73 volunteers each danced to eight genres of music â" these included Blues, Country, Dance/Electronica, Jazz, Metal, Pop, Reggae and Rap. The participants received no instructions, other than to "move any way that felt natural."

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CRISPR-edited chickens made resistant to a common virus

New Scientist - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 14:00
CRISPR gene editing has created chickens that resist a common virus. It may be possible to use the same technique to make poultry resistant to bird flu too

Michelin sustainable rubber criticised for deforestation

New Scientist - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 11:09
Michelin and WWF have been criticised over a rubber plantation in Indonesia which villagers say has caused deforestation and destroyed elephant habitat

Setting controlled fires to avoid wildfires

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:34
Despite having proven effective at reducing wildfire risks, prescribed burns have been stymied by perceived and real risks, regulations and resource shortages. A new analysis highlights ways of overcoming those barriers, offering solutions for wildfire-ravaged landscapes.

Wisdom of the crowd? Building better forecasts from suboptimal predictors

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:34
Scientists have shown how to combine the forecasts of a collection of suboptimal 'delay embedding' predictors for time series data. This work may help improve the forecasting of floods, stock market gyrations, spatio-temporal brain dynamics, and ecological resource fluctuations.

Strongly 'handed' squirrels less good at learning

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:34
Squirrels that strongly favor their left or right side are less good at learning, new research suggests.

Becoming less active and gaining weight: Downsides of becoming an adult

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:34
Leaving school and getting a job both lead to a drop in the amount of physical activity, while becoming a mother is linked to increased weight gain, conclude two reviews.

Combined prenatal smoking and drinking greatly increases SIDS risk

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:34
Children born to mothers who both drank and smoked beyond the first trimester of pregnancy have a 12-fold increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) compared to those unexposed or only exposed in the first trimester of pregnancy, according to a new study.

Local water availability is permanently reduced after planting forests

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:34
River flow is reduced in areas where forests have been planted and does not recover over time, a new study has shown. Rivers in some regions can completely disappear within a decade. This highlights the need to consider the impact on regional water availability, as well as the wider climate benefit, of tree-planting plans.

On the edge between science and art: Historical biodiversity data from Japanese 'gyotaku'

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:34
Japanese cultural art of 'gyotaku,' which means 'fish impression' or 'fish rubbing,' captures accurate images of fish specimens. It has been used by recreational fishermen and artists since the Edo Period. Distributional data from 261 'Gyotaku' rubbings were extracted for 218 individual specimens, roughly representing regional fish fauna and common fishing targets in Japan through the years.

Dozens of non-oncology drugs can kill cancer cells

Science Daily - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:31
Researchers tested approximately 4,518 drug compounds on 578 human cancer cell lines and found nearly 50 that have previously unrecognized anti-cancer activity. These drugs have been used to treat conditions such as diabetes, inflammation, alcoholism, and even arthritis in dogs. The findings suggest a possible way to accelerate the development of new cancer drugs or repurpose existing drugs to treat cancer.

Our current food system can feed only 3.4 billion people sustainably

New Scientist - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 10:00
We are struggling to feed half the world sustainably – but reorganising where we farm could allow us to feed 10 billion people within sustainability boundaries

Man raised alongside chimps says it should never happen again

New Scientist - Lun, 20/01/2020 - 05:00
Nick Lehane's performance piece, Chimpanzee, in London for the first time, reveals how tragedy stalked the amazing achievement of raising chimps in human families

Scientists Are Generating Oxygen from Simulated Moon Dust

Slashdot - Science - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 14:34
"European researchers are working on a system that can churn out breathable oxygen from simulated samples of moon dust," reports Gizmodo: "Being able to acquire oxygen from resources found on the Moon would obviously be hugely useful for future lunar settlers, both for breathing and in the local production of rocket fuel," explained Beth Lomax, a chemist from the University of Glasgow, in an European Space Agency (ESA) press release. Lomax, along with ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse, are currently plugging away at a prototype that could eventually lead to exactly that: oxygen production from lunar dust. They're currently testing their system at the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), which is based in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Their prototype is working, but adjustments will be required to make it suitable for use on the Moon, such as reducing its operating temperature.... Interestingly, ESTEC is not treating the metals as an unwanted byproduct. The team is currently looking into various ways of exploiting these metals in a lunar environment, such as transforming them into compounds for 3D printing. The European Space Agency points out that samples returned from the lunar surface were made up of 40-45% percent oxygen by weight.

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HBO's New Space Comedy Mocks 'Tech Bros in Charge'

Slashdot - Science - Dom, 19/01/2020 - 13:34
Engadget reports on a new tech-industry-in-space comedy premiering tonight on HBO: If you thought that HBO was done mocking technology companies now that Silicon Valley is done, think again. Avenue 5 is the channel's new sitcom, and one that asks the question: "What if tech bros were in charge of more than just our internet histories?'" The answer, at least according to the first half of the season, is that it won't be pretty -- or safe... The Avenue 5 is a large space liner that, in the words of cinematographer Eben Bolter, is designed after a vulgar space hotel that goes too far and "gets the details wrong". This Titanic-like vessel and its 5,000 passengers are on a routine jaunt through the solar system when a minor disaster strikes, and its course is altered. But this is space, where a small deviation changes the flight time from eight weeks to several years. The ship is owned by Herman Judd (Josh Gad) of the Judd Corporation, a self-regarding business magnate who, in Bolter's mind, has "only ever had one good idea." He's not quite an analog for the Bezoses and Musks you may be thinking of, but more a cracked-mirror version of both. Throughout the show, he attempts to impose his thinking on the crisis as if he was still in California, or wherever Silicon Valley moved after the show's alluded-to Huawei Wars. Early on, Judd is presented with the intractable problem of space physics, and he hopes to fix things as he did on Earth. He says, in the Jobsian tradition, that you can make something happen by making someone say that it can. The fight between visionary optimism and reality is harder when you're surrounded by an infinite vacuum, after all. Avenue 5's point seems to be that you can't simply blue-sky your way out of a crisis when reality keeps getting in the way.

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