sorry sir, we don’t have the facilities for a cat scan, but we can certainly get you a lab report
When you flip bats upside down they become exceptionally sassy dancers.
Salmon have serious swimming skills—some travel thousands of miles to return to their original homes to breed. But even though they can jump as high as 12 feet in the air, they can’t manage to get over massive concrete dams that we have built to block their journeys back to their homes. Now one new idea could give them a boost. The plan involves whisking the fish through a long vacuum tube at speeds up to 22 miles per hour and then shooting them out the other end like a cannon.
Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport.
The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires.
"People just think of it as a horrible weed and ask how can you get enough material for tires from just a small root," she said.
Her research team is competing with others across the world to breed a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan whose taproot yields a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it.
Global tire makers such as industry leader Bridgestone Corp (5108.T) and No.4 player Continental AG (CONG.DE) believe they are in for rich pickings and are backing such research to the tune of millions of dollars.
Early signs are good. A small-scale trial by a U.S. research team found the dandelions delivered per-hectare rubber yields on a par with the best rubber-tree plantations in tropical Asia.
So within a decade, rather than being a backyard bane like their wild cousins, the new flowers might be seen in neat rows in hundreds of thousands of acres across Europe and the United States, where they can grow even in poor soil.
And they could have some interesting modifications. For instance, German researchers have bred the plants to grow to up to a foot (30 cm) in height, dwarfing many of their backyard cousins. They are also developing the dandelions with upright rather than flat-growing leaves - just so harvesting machines have something to grab on to.
A new study of 9- and 10-year-olds finds that those who are more aerobically fit have more fibrous and compact white-matter tracts in the brain than their peers who are less fit. “White matter” describes the bundles of axons that carry nerve signals from one brain region to another. More compact white matter is associated with faster and more efficient nerve activity.
The team reports its findings in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
“Previous studies suggest that children with higher levels of aerobic fitness show greater brain volumes in gray-matter brain regions important for memory and learning,” said University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Laura Chaddock-Heyman, who conducted the study with kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman and psychology professor and Beckman Institute director Arthur Kramer. “Now for the first time we explored how aerobic fitness relates to white matter in children’s brains.”
The team used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI, also called diffusion MRI) to look at five white-matter tracts in the brains of the 24 participants. This method analyzes water diffusion into tissues. For white matter, less water diffusion means the tissue is more fibrous and compact, both desirable traits.
The researchers controlled for several variables – such as social and economic status, the timing of puberty, IQ, or a diagnosis of ADHD or other learning disabilities – that might have contributed to the reported fitness differences in the brain.
The analysis revealed significant fitness-related differences in the integrity of several white-matter tracts in the brain: the corpus callosum, which connects the brain’s left and right hemispheres; the superior longitudinal fasciculus, a pair of structures that connect the frontal and parietal lobes; and the superior corona radiata, which connect the cerebral cortex to the brain stem.
“All of these tracts have been found to play a role in attention and memory,” Chaddock-Heyman said.
The team did not test for cognitive differences in the children in this study, but previous work has demonstrated a link between improved aerobic fitness and gains in cognitive function on specific tasks and in academic settings.
“Previous studies in our lab have reported a relationship between fitness and white-matter integrity in older adults,” Kramer said. “Therefore, it appears that fitness may have beneficial effects on white matter throughout the lifespan.”
To take the findings further, the team is now two years into a five-year randomized, controlled trial to determine whether white-matter tract integrity improves in children who begin a new physical fitness routine and maintain it over time. The researchers are looking for changes in aerobic fitness, brain structure and function, and genetic regulation.
“Prior work from our laboratories has demonstrated both short- and long-term differences in the relation of aerobic fitness to brain health and cognition,” Hillman said. “However, our current randomized, controlled trial should provide the most comprehensive assessment of this relationship to date.”
The new findings add to the evidence that aerobic exercise changes the brain in ways that improve cognitive function, Chaddock-Heyman said.
“This study extends our previous work and suggests that white-matter structure may be one additional mechanism by which higher-fit children outperform their lower-fit peers on cognitive tasks and in the classroom,” she said.
A Leidenfrost droplet impregnated with hydrophilic beads hovers on a thin film of its own vapor. The Leidenfrost effect occurs when a liquid touches a solid surface much, much hotter than its boiling point. Instead of boiling entirely away, part of the liquid vaporizes and the remaining liquid survives for extended periods while the vapor layer insulates it from the hot surface. Hydrophilic beads inserted into Leidenfrost water droplets initially sink and are completely enveloped by the liquid. But, as the drop evaporates, the beads self-organize, forming a monolayer that coats the surface of the drop. The outer surface of the beads drys out, trapping the beads and causing the evaporation rate to slow because less liquid is exposed. (Photo credit: L. Maquet et al.; research paper - pdf)
I love this.Everyone should read this. Yes it was from a comedy but it’s so true. Don’t be so dead-set in your ways. Science is always changing.
hiimjosephfink said: Why does mint feel cold and chiles feel hot?
So, the way we experience…pretty much everything is via proteins and ion channels. Very basically…there are proteins that are designed to sense certain things….the presence of sugar, whether they’ve been struck by light, the concentration of CO2 in the blood. When they sense those things, they open an ion channel changing the electrical charge of the cell, which then get transferred through the nervous system to the brain where that area of the brain is like “Cool…we’ve got sugar…or light…or too much CO2 in the blood.”Well, sometimes these proteins can be fooled. A chemical will, just by chance (or by natural selection) be able to bind with that protein and cause that whole cascade to occur without the real stimulus. This is what happens with menthol in mint and capsaicin in peppers. Those chemicals bind to the cold / hot receptors respectively, fooling your body into thinking that something cold / hot is happening in your mouth. Pretty cool.-Hank
The king cheetah is a rare mutation of the cheetah characterized by a distinct fur pattern. The cause of this alternative coat pattern was found to be a mutation in the gene for transmembrane aminopeptidase Q, the same gene responsible for the striped ‘mackerel’ versus blotchy ‘classic’ patterning seen in tabby cats. The mutation is recessive and must be inherited from both parents for this pattern to appear, which is one reason why it is so rare.
If You Think the Water Crisis Can’t Get Worse, Wait Until the Aquifers Are Drained
We’re pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it’s gone, the real crisis begins.
Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. We are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the western United States and in several dry regions globally, threatening our future.
We are at our best when we can see a threat or challenge ahead. If flood waters are rising, an enemy is rushing at us, or a highway exit appears just ahead of a traffic jam, we see the looming crisis and respond.
We are not as adept when threats—or threatened resources—are invisible. Some of us have trouble realizing why invisible carbon emissions are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and warming the planet. Because the surface of the sea is all we see, it’s difficult to understand that we already have taken most of the large fish from the ocean, diminishing a major source of food. Neither of these crises are visible—they are largely out of sight, out of mind—so it’s difficult to get excited and respond. Disappearing groundwater is another out-of-sight crisis.
Groundwater comes from aquifers—spongelike gravel and sand-filled underground reservoirs—and we see this water only when it flows from springs and wells. In the United States we rely on this hidden—and shrinking—water supply to meet half our needs, and as drought shrinks surface water in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, we rely on groundwater from aquifers even more. Some shallow aquifers recharge from surface water, but deeper aquifers contain ancient water locked in the earth by changes in geology thousands or millions of years ago. These aquifers typically cannot recharge, and once this “fossil” water is gone, it is gone forever—potentially changing how and where we can live and grow food, among other things.
A severe drought in California—now approaching four years long—has depleted snowpacks, rivers, and lakes, and groundwater use has soared to make up the shortfall. A new report from Stanford Universitysays that nearly 60 percent of the state’s water needs are now met by groundwater, up from 40 percent in years when normal amounts of rain and snow fall.
Relying on groundwater to make up for shrinking surface water supplies comes at a rising price, and this hidden water found in California’s Central Valley aquifers is the focus of what amounts to a new gold rush. Well-drillers are working overtime, and as Brian Clark Howard reported here last week, farmers and homeowners short of water now must wait in line more than a year for their new wells.
In most years, aquifers recharge as rainfall and streamflow seep into unpaved ground. But during drought the water table—the depth at which water is found below the surface—drops as water is pumped from the ground faster than it can recharge. As Howard reported, Central Valley wells that used to strike water at 500 feet deep must now be drilled down 1,000 feet or more, at a cost of more than $300,000 for a single well. And as aquifers are depleted, the land also begins to subside, or sink.
Unlike those in other western states, Californians know little about their groundwater supply because well-drilling records are kept secret from public view, and there is no statewide policy limiting groundwater use. State legislators are contemplating a measure that would regulate and limit groundwater use, but even if it passes, compliance plans wouldn’t be required until 2020, and full restrictions wouldn’t kick in until 2040. California property owners now can pump as much water as they want from under the ground they own.
California’s Central Valley isn’t the only place in the U.S. where groundwater supplies are declining. Aquifers in the Colorado River Basin and the southern Great Plains also suffer severe depletion. Studies show that about half the groundwater depletion nationwide is from irrigation. Agriculture is the leading use of water in the U.S. and around the world, and globally irrigated farming takes more than 60 percent of the available freshwater.
read more from Nat Geo
photo one and two by PETER ESSICK
Photo three by GEORGE STEINMETZ