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Science & Futurism
* "Scientists eye creating synthetic human genomes in lab" (2016-06-04, rt.com) [archive.is/8RlLT]
* "Scientists add letters to DNA alphabet to create ‘semisynthetic’ life" (2017-01-25, rt.com) [archive.is/9FvJ8]: Scientists have created a new “unnatural” organism by expanding the letters in the genetic alphabet. Unlike previous attempts, this bacteria-based lifeform turned out to be more “life-like.”
The genetic alphabet encodes the biological information of all types of life on Earth. It is made up of four letters that form two base pairs - the DNA double helix.
However, a team of scientists from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California have created a lab organism that has been modified to add two more letters, giving it a genetic code of six letters.
The team, whose work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal [archive.is/It5qc], have shown that their single-celled organism can hold on indefinitely to the synthetic base pair as it divides.
"We've made this semisynthetic organism more life-like," senior author of the study Professor Floyd Romesberg said in a statement [archive.is/kV42e].
At the moment, the new technology cannot be put to very much use. Romesberg likened the new “flawed” organism to an infant. It had some learning to do before it was ready for real life. But it is hoped that it could be used to create new kinds of single-celled organisms that could lead to the discovery of new drugs.
The “unnatural base pair” letters were first created by Romesberg and his colleague two years ago. They were demonstrated in modified E. coli bacteria that had them integrated into their genetic code.
However, the E. coli eventually lost those letters, unable to keep their code indefinitely as they divided. This limited the ways the organism could use the additional information possessed in their DNA. That left Romesberg and his team with more work to be do.
“Your genome isn’t just stable for a day,” he explained. “Your genome has to be stable for the scale of your lifetime. If the semisynthetic organism is going to really be an organism, it has to be able to stably maintain that information.”
They achieved that by creating a special system in the bacteria that rejected any genetic sequence that didn't include the X or Y letters. In doing so, the scientists appear to have proven that the very fundamental processes of life can be altered.
"We can now get the light of life to stay on,” Romesberg said. “That suggests that all of life's processes can be subject to manipulation."
* "Spanish scientists create a 3D bioprinter to print human skin" (2017-01-23, uc3m.es) [archive.is/0Vm9P], summary: Scientists from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), CIEMAT (Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research), Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, in collaboration with the firm BioDan Group, have presented a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin. This skin is adequate for transplanting to patients or for use in research or the testing of cosmetic, chemical, and pharmaceutical products.
* "Animal Farm: Scientists create first pig-human hybrid" (2017-01-26, rt.com) [archive.is/kQGJu]
* "Scientists develop ‘world’s most powerful’ laser" (2017-01-25, rt.com) [archive.is/figcu]
* "Dress that’s 200 times stronger than steel changes color to track heart rate" (2017-01-26, rt.com) [archive.is/mwsoH], attached video [youtube.com/watch?v=CTDMrB8ZL14]
* "New class of materials could revolutionize biomedical, alternative energy industries" (2017-01-25, University of Missouri-Colombia) [archive.is/ePUvm]
* "For this metal, electricity flows, but not the heat; Law-breaking property in vanadium dioxide could lead to applications in thermoelectrics, window coatings" (2017-01-26, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) [archive.is/tJgpu]
* "Advance in high-pressure physics: Harvard scientists announce they've created metallic hydrogen, which has been just a theory" (2017-01-27, news.harvard.edu) [archive.is/xqQTI]
* "Hydrogen turned into metal in stunning act of alchemy that could revolutionise technology and spaceflight ; ‘It’s the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you’re looking at it, you’re looking at something that’s never existed before’ " (2017-01-26, independent.co.uk) [archive.is/ugj5m]
* "Hydrogen Has Been Turned To Metal, And It's About To Change The World" (2017-01-26, yahoo.com) [archive.is/RHaHu]
* "Scientists unveil new form of matter: time crystals" (2017-01-26, news.berkeley.edu) [archive.is/dPqho]
* "Time Crystals Are Now A Thing" (2017-01-27, iflscience.com) [archive.is/PUEXV] [begin excerpt]: Scientists have developed "time crystals", and while the name sounds like something from Doctor Who, they are very real, although they have nothing to do with time travel.
In the same way that a regular crystal has a structure that repeats regularly in space, time crystals have a structure that repeats itself in time. In a paper published in Physical Review Letter, American researchers led by UC Berkeley's Norman Yao discuss how to make and measure the properties of time crystals.
Time crystals were first obtained a few months ago. Researchers from the Univesity of Maryland constructed a chain of 10 ytterbium atoms and hit them with two lasers several times to keep them out of equilibrium. They found that the chain settled into a stable repetitive pattern, although the material itself remained out of equilibrium. This study marked the beginning of a new class of materials that can't just settle down in some motionless equilibrium like a diamond.
"Wouldn't it be super weird if you jiggled Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a different period?" Yao said in a statement. "But that is the essence of the time crystal. You have some periodic driver that has a period 'T', but the system somehow synchronizes so that you observe the system oscillating with a period that is larger than 'T'." [end excerpt]
* "Discrete Time Crystals: Rigidity, Criticality, and Realizations" (2017-01-18, journals.aps.org) [archive.is/IBbqg]
* "Making A.I. Systems that See the World as Humans Do; Model performs at human levels on standard intelligence test" (2017-01-19, mccormick.northwestern.edu) [archive.is/9xCQD]
* "Google awards $1.5m to research into robots that learn by doing" (2017-01-29, rt.com) [archive.is/QyJ6n]
* " ‘Historic’ win for AI as machine destroys top poker players" (2017-01-31, rt.com) [archive.is/nZssB]
* "First step towards photonic quantum network" (2017-01-25, phys.org) [archive.is/UpS9t]
* "Study of electron movement on helium may impact the future of quantum computing" (2017-01-25, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University) [archive.is/NysWB]
* "CREATING ATOMIC SCALE NANORIBBONS; A recent study conducted by researchers at the Beckman Institute and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has demonstrated the first important step toward integrating atomically precise graphene nanoribbons (APGNRs) onto nonmetallic substrates" (2017-01-19, beckman.illinois.edu) [archive.is/2eZLM], photo:
* "A new approach to 3-D holographic displays greatly improves the image quality; With the addition of holographic diffusers or frosted glasses to wavefront modulators, KAIST researchers offer a simple and practical solution to significantly enhance the performance of 3D dynamic holographic displays by 2,600 times" (2017-01-27, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, kaist.ac.kr) [archive.is/pf9kC]
* "Snap, Digest, Respire: Scientists show how the Venus flytrap uses its prey’s nitrogen compounds to extract energy" (2017-01-20, pr.uni-freiburg.de) [archive.is/R66Jc]
* "Visit Scenic Pluto: NASA Puts Out Landing Simulation Video; If Pluto’s temperatures of -240°C, frozen nitrogen surface, and 7.5-billion kilometer travel distance do not turn you off from taking your next vacation there, then NASA’s new video simulating a landing on the dwarf planet may be of interest to you" (2017-01-25, sputniknews.com) [archive.is/GzG5g]
* "Detecting alien life: NASA unveils test for organisms on distant planets" (2017-01-27, rt.com) [archive.is/jZKop]
* "Study reveals substantial evidence of holographic universe" (2017-01-30, phys.org) [archive.is/Z0uQ3]
* "Life’s just one big… hologram? New study suggests we live in a 2D universe" (2017-01-30, rt.com) [archive.is/ZqLnM]
* "Archaeologists Say Jersey Was Neanderthal Vacation Hot Spot; Archaeologists exploring the island of Jersey, off the coast of Normandy, France, have discovered that Neanderthals were regular guests at La Cotte de St Brelade, despite a vastly-changing climate and an altering landscape" (2017-01-25, sputniknews.com) [archive.is/4I9BW]
* " 'Attraction centers' to rise instead of trees in Hevsel Gardens; The 8 thousand year old green heaven in the Mardin Gate, Kırklar Gate and Yenikapı triangle next to the Tigris River will be destroyed for unearned income" (2017-01-27, anfenglish.com) [is.gd/2OYLWy], photo [archive.is/2YnBE], [begin excerpt]:
Hevsel Gardens, on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List since 2015, has been declared as a “Special Project Site” on December 28 in accordance with the (ğ) clause of the 1st paragraph of the 2nd article of the Statutory Decree numbered 644, and the 9th article of the Construction Zoning Law numbered 3194, and the approval of the Ministry of the Environment and Urbanization. Although the project must be made public and published officially, there has not been any official statement on the project since, leaving history and ecology under threat.
Located on a field of 10 thousand m2, Hevsel Gardens carry the signs of Hittite, Hurri-Mitanni, Assyrian, Arami, Urartu, Scythian, Medes, Persian, Macedonian, Parthian, Armenian, Roman, Sassanian, Byzantinian, Emevi, Abbasid, Sheikh, Hamdani, Mervani, Seljuk, Inals, Nisans, Artuqi, Ayyubid, Mongol, Aqqoyunlu, Safavid and Ottoman civilizations and have been used as the granary of the city since ancient times.
HEAVEN ON EARTH: HOSER -
The name of Hevsel Gardens, which has been an inspiration to many legends and songs with its beauty and fertility, is said to have evolved from Hoser (dense woods). According to a legend, Prophet Mohammed sees the a dense wood during his ascension and says that “This must be the heaven”. Another legend suggests that Esfel (one held in contempt) is the origin of the word Hevsel. Accordingly, forty thousand people in Nusaybin fleeing form Iranian forces seek refuge in Amed but are forced to settle somewhere far away from the city. These people were referred to as Esfel, and are seen as those that cultivated the land and created the gardens.
MORE THAN 180 BIRD SPECIES LIVE IN HEVSEL GARDENS -
More than 180 bird species including sand martins, little egrets, corn buntings, ortolans, magpies, owlets, kingfishers, eagle owls and red falcons, in addition to other species such as otters, hedgehogs, red foxes, wild boars, squirrels, lizards, snakes, toads and Euphrates turtles -that only live between Euphrates and Tigris rivers and lay their eggs on the banks of the Euphrates- live in Hevsel which is listed as an Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). [end excerpt]
* "Jungle explorers contract rare flesh-eating disease among ruins of ancient lost 'City of the Monkey God' ; Ciudad Blanca abandoned by residents in 16th century when they thought it was cursed" (2017-01-12, independent.co.uk) [archive.is/KuZCM]:
The team, including best-selling novelist Douglas Preston, were exploring the previously untouched ruins of Ciudad Blanca, also known as the ‘City of the Monkey God’, which were fully excavated last year in the middle of the jungle.
The ruins have been dated between 1,000 and 1,500 AD, and are thought to contain many valuable artefacts buried beneath thick foliage. A new laser mapping technology was used to analyse the jungle floor in search of ruined settlements.
Archaeologists believe Ciudad Blanca was deserted by its residents in the 16th century because they thought it was ‘cursed’ by disease. The area was conquered by Spanish explorers in 1520 who had heard the city contained great wealth, and brought diseases with them.
The team took a cameraman along with them and survived multiple attacks from venomous snakes during the course of their dangerous expedition.
They said they had particular trouble cutting their way through the dense trees of the Mosquitia rain forest, on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua, and stumbled on some ruins by chance.
However they concluded that the site could not be excavated at that time, and waited for intervention by the Honduran government.
Upon their return Mr Preston and his colleagues discovered they had contracted a virulent strain of Leishmaniasis, a disease transferred by sand flies which can eat through the face, and needed urgent hospital treatment. All members of the crew survived the disease unscathed.
“The parasite migrates to the mucous membranes of your mouth and your nose, and basically eats them away,” Mr Preston told CBS News. “Your nose falls off, your lips fall off, and eventually your face becomes a gigantic, open sore. It’s just too dangerous. Getting in and out of the jungle is dangerous.” [end excerpt]
- Multiple rare artefacts have been dug out of the ruins of Ciudad Blanca since they were first unearthed last year
- The mysterious Ciudad Blanca has been buried beneath the jungle canopy for centuries, out of the reach of explorers
* "Study: Pueblo architects understand advanced geometry; 'The genius of the site's architects cannot be underestimated,' said researcher Sherry Towers" (2017-01-23, UPI Newswire) [archive.is/MA4Bn], photo caption: Aerial surveys of ancient Pueblo sites in Colorado revealed the presence of sophisticated geometric shapes, such as the "golden rectangle," with mathematically perfect proportions.
* "Elves and Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts" (2016-01-18, blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts) [archive.is/ozkU7], photo caption: Charms mentioning elves, Bald’s Leechbook, England (Winchester?), 1st half of 10th century, Royal MS 12 D XVII, f. 106r
* "Paging Men in Black: NASA Cuts Live Feed After Object Appears on ISS Camera; A mysterious object appeared on the NASA live video feed from the International Space Station (ISS), prompting some alien hunters to declare it a UFO" (2017-01-26, sputniknews.com) [archive.is/BV4Hp], photo caption: A strange object appeared on the ISS live feed for about 25 seconds.
* "Did NASA really pull space station footage over UFO sighting?" (2017-01-31, rt.com) [archive.is/NXhpp]
* " ‘Brain-sticky’ trait of LSD may be key to treating depression, schizophrenia – research" (2017-01-28, rt.com) [archive.is/cLPAq]
* "Court rules over pile of manure so massive it could be seen from space" (2017-01-30, rt.com) [archive.is/hyKSK]
* "Bizarre underwater ‘bag’ creature could be missing evolutionary link - study" (2017-01-30, rt.com) [archive.is/WoNAw]