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Toon: Test for Admins

Saving the Feynman van

“The game I play is a very interesting one,” says Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman in a low-resolution video posted to YouTube. “It’s imagination in a tight straitjacket.”

Feynman is describing his job as a theoretical physicist: to lay out what humanity knows about how the world works, and to search the spaces in between for what we might have missed.

The video shows more than Feynman's way with words. It shows his approachability. One of the greatest minds that particle physics has ever known stands barefoot, lecturing in a distinct Queens, New York, accent for an audience lounging casually on the floor at the new-age Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.

In a way, Feynman remains approachable to this day for all of the snippets of his personality left behind in books, letters and recordings of formal and informal lectures and interviews.

Recently, a more concrete bit of Feynman history came out of retirement: A small team has brought back to life the so-called “Feynman van.”



First 'heavy mouse' leads to first lab-grown tissue mapped from atomic life

Scientists have created a 'heavy' mouse, the world's first animal enriched with heavy but non-radioactive isotopes - enabling them to capture in unprecedented detail the molecular structure of natural tissue by reading the magnetism inherent in the isotopes.

This data has been used to grow biological tissue in the lab practically identical to native tissue, which can be manipulated and analysed in ways impossible for natural samples. Researchers say the approach has huge potential for scientific and medical breakthroughs: lab-grown tissue could be used to replace heart valves, for example.

In fact, with their earliest research on the new in vitro tissue, the team have discovered that poly(ADP ribose) (PAR) – a molecule believed to only exist inside a cell for the purpose of repairing DNA – not only travels outside cells but may trigger bone mineralization.

"It was crazy to see PAR behaving in this way; it took six months of detailed analysis and many more experiments to convince ourselves," said Dr Melinda Duer from Cambridge's Department of Chemistry, who led the study, published today in the journal Science.


The shrinking of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot — a swirling storm feature larger than Earth — is shrinking. This downsizing, which is changing the shape of the spot from an oval into a circle, has been known about since the 1930s, but now these striking new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images capture the spot at a smaller size than ever before.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a churning anticyclonic storm . It shows up in images of the giant planet as a conspicuous deep red eye embedded in swirling layers of pale yellow, orange and white. Winds inside this Jovian storm rage at immense speeds, reaching several hundreds of kilometres per hour.

Historic observations as far back as the late 1800s gauged this turbulent spot to span about 41 000 kilometres at its widest point — wide enough to fit three Earths comfortably side by side. In 1979 and 1980 the NASA Voyager fly-bys measured the spot at a shrunken 23 335 kilometres across. Now, Hubble has spied this feature to be smaller than ever before.

"Recent Hubble Space Telescope observations confirm that the spot is now just under 16 500 kilometres across, the smallest diameter we've ever measured," said Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA.


Labs Are Told to Start Including a Neglected Variable: Females

For decades, scientists have embarked on the long journey toward a medical breakthrough by first experimenting on laboratory animals. Mice or rats, pigs or dogs, they were usually male: Researchers avoided using female animals for fear that their reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations would confound the results of delicately calibrated experiments.

That laboratory tradition has had enormous consequences for women. Name a new drug or treatment, and odds are researchers know far more about its effect on men than on women. From sleeping pills to statins, women have been blindsided by side effects and dosage miscalculations that were not discovered until after the product hit the market.

Now the National Institutes of Health says that this routine gender bias in basic research must end.

In a commentary published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the N.I.H., and Dr. Janine A. Clayton, director of the institutes’ Office of Research on Women’s Health, warned scientists that they must begin testing their theories in female lab animals and in female tissues and cells.

The N.I.H. has already taken researchers to task for their failure to include adequate numbers of women in clinical trials. The new announcement is an acknowledgment that this gender disparity begins much earlier in the research process.



Thursday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest









Thursday Toon Roundup 2- Breaking the Ice

Thursday Toon Roundup 1- Brain Damage

GOP Congressman Wants To Block Elon Musk From Competing In Space

By Greg Autry — Mr. Autry, an adjunct professor with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School of Business, USC.

“Paring down the number of competitors will help things along greatly because the funding won’t be split.”

Query: To which Party and State would might you attribute the above market-bashing quote? California Democrat? Independent from Vermont? Surprisingly, this socialist missive comes from the staff of a Conservative Texas Republican.

Supporting the elimination of competition – that notorious creator of delay and inefficiency – from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Robert La Branche, senior legislative assistant to Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), uttered these comments to the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee last week. Of course, what Mr. La Branche and his Congressional boss would really like to eliminate is that most inconvenient of competitors, the entrepreneur. And the very worst manifestation of entrepreneurial pestilence is, of course, California’s notorious Elon Musk.

Not content with attacking the sanctity of America’s highly regarded car dealers via direct sales of his annoyingly successful Tesla electric vehicle, Mr. Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies is now threatening to undermine the renowned efficiency of America’s Military-Industrial-Complex. A series of successful lunches SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule have left the traditional vendors looking overpriced and unambitious. Meanwhile, the DragonRider, a manned vehicle based on their proven design, is scheduled for testing of its crew escape system in a few months and could be ready to loft humans into space next year. This competitive approach puts unfair pressure on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), a multi-billion dollar state-owned rework of the space shuttle that is many years from flying anywhere. What’s a conservative congressperson to do?

If NASA were compelled to “downselect” Commercial Crew to a single vendor, Washington power politics would clearly favor Boeing’s CST-100 capsule, a luxurious spacecraft, that while it has never flown, is on track for some unmanned flights to the ISS in about three years. This leisurely development schedule puts no pressure on SLS. While it is surely coincidently that both the SLS and CST-100 programs are headquartered in Houston, we are lucky to have Messrs. La Branche and Culberson standing between us and the utter chaos of free market competition.



Tom The Dancing Bug Toon- Ye Olde Internets, Part II

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