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bananas

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Member since: Tue Nov 9, 2004, 11:55 PM
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Journal Archives

SpaceX live webcast is up, launch at 3:25 pm Eastern

http://www.spacex.com/webcast/

Triggering Resilience to Depression

Source: The Scientist

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have reversed depression-like behaviors in mice in an unexpected way. Rather than silencing the hyperactive neurons that triggered the rodents’ symptoms, the team boosted their activity even further. This triggered a compensatory, self-tuning response that brought the neurons’ firing—and the rodents’ behaviors—back to normal.

“There’s a saying in Chinese: If you push something to an extreme, the only way it can go is in the opposite direction,” said Ming-Hu Han, who led the study, published today (April 17) in Science. Although his team needs to confirm their results in humans, Han added, “it could give us new avenues for treating depression that are conceptually very different to the classical therapeutic strategy.” Rather than identifying the cause of an illness and reversing it, it may be possible to push those causes even harder and get the body to right itself.

<snip>

Han’s team has effectively discovered the neurological version of a psychological phenomenon—resilience. “It makes us re-evaluate what it means to be resilient,” said Michelle Mazei-Robison from Michigan State University, who was not involved in the work. “We didn’t think of it as a continuum, where you almost have to push through the pathological response to bring things back into balance, rather than just having some sort of compensation. It’s a new twist, and very novel.”

<snip>

“It’s an exciting breakthrough with vast translational potential,” said Kay Tye from MIT in an e-mail. “Pushing the system one way could actually trigger the brain’s own homeostatic plasticity to push back. This could be a critical factor in the functionality of existing therapies, as well.” For example, lamotrigine is sometimes used to treat people with bipolar disorder who go through bouts of depression. “We never knew how it worked, but our study gives us an idea,” said Han.

<snip>

Read more: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/39734/title/Triggering-Resilience-to-Depression/

NASA: new Kepler discovery, webcast 11am PST, followed by SETI webcast at 3pm PST

http://www.seti.org/seti-institute/news/join-us-two-exciting-kepler-events-thursday-april-17-11am-pst-and-3pm-pst

Join us for Two Exciting Kepler Events - Thursday April 17, at 11AM PST and 3PM PST
April 15, 2014



@3:00 PM PST, Join SETI Institute for an interview with Elisa Quintana

Streamed live on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/events/c28n72o49oio93890f7t6sre53k

We are excited to interview SETI Institute research scientist Elisa Quintana following a NASA press conference discussing her recent work. Tom Barclay, research scientist at Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and Jason Rowe, research scientist at SETI Institute, will also join the conversion hosted by special guest Jill Tarter.

@11:00 AM PST, NASA Hosts Media Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discovery

NASA will host a news teleconference at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday, April 17, to announce a new discovery made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

The journal Science has embargoed the findings until the time of the news conference.

The briefing participants are:

-- Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration program scientist, NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington

-- Elisa Quintana, research scientist, SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

-- Tom Barclay, research scientist, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames

-- Victoria Meadows, professor of astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle, and principal investigator for the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, a team in the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Ames

Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone -- the range of distance from a star in which the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might sustain liquid water. The telescope has since detected planets and planet candidates spanning a wide range of sizes and orbital distances, including those in the habitable zone. These findings have led to a better understanding of our place in the galaxy.

The public is invited to listen to the teleconference live on UStream at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-arc and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

Audio of the teleconference also will be streamed live at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

Questions can be submitted on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.

A link to relevant graphics will be posted at the start of the teleconference on NASA's Kepler site:http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

U.S. GHG Emissions at Lowest Level in 20 Years

Source: Climate Central



U.S. greenhouse gas emissions declined 3.4 percent in 2012 from 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Those emissions are down 10 percent from what they were in 2005, the EPA said, and are at their lowest levels since 1994.

Most of the decline came from reductions in energy consumption, increased fuel efficiency of cars and other types of transportation, and a shift to natural gas from coal in fueling power plants, the EPA said in a statement.

<snip>

Carbon dioxide accounted for more than 80 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions, methane for nearly 9 percent, nitrous oxide for just more than 6 percent and other gases for smaller percentages. Most of the carbon dioxide came from the combustion of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, while methane came mostly from livestock, decomposition of waste in landfills and natural gas systems.

<snip>

Read more: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/u.s.-greenhouse-gas-emissions-decline-in-2012-17313

Carter urges Obama, Kerry to reject Keystone XL

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Former President Jimmy Carter joined fellow Nobel laureates Wednesday in opposing Keystone XL, insisting that approving the pipeline would trigger "more climate upheaval" around the globe.

In an open letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Carter and the nine other Nobel Peace Prize winners bluntly warned the leaders: "Your decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will define your climate legacy."

The missive, published as an advertisement in Politico, represents the first time Carter has taken a position on the $5.4 billion project and makes him the first former president to come out against the pipeline.

<snip>

Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Carter-urges-Obama-Kerry-to-reject-Keystone-XL-5408500.php

Scientists unmask a piece in the puzzle of how the inheritance of traumas is mediated

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-04-scientists-unmask-piece-puzzle-inheritance.html

Scientists unmask a piece in the puzzle of how the inheritance of traumas is mediated


The consequences of traumatic experiences can be passed on from one generation to the next.
Credit: Isabelle Mansuy / UZH / ETH Zurich


The phenomenon has long been known in psychology: traumatic experiences can induce behavioural disorders that are passed down from one generation to the next. It is only recently that scientists have begun to understand the physiological processes underlying hereditary trauma. "There are diseases such as bipolar disorder, that run in families but can't be traced back to a particular gene", explains Isabelle Mansuy, professor at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. With her research group at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich, she has been studying the molecular processes involved in non-genetic inheritance of behavioural symptoms induced by traumatic experiences in early life.

<snip>

Small RNAs with a huge impact

The researchers studied the number and kind of microRNAs expressed by adult mice exposed to traumatic conditions in early life and compared them with non-traumatized mice. They discovered that traumatic stress alters the amount of several microRNAs in the blood, brain and sperm – while some microRNAs were produced in excess, others were lower than in the corresponding tissues or cells of control animals. These alterations resulted in misregulation of cellular processes normally controlled by these microRNAs.

After traumatic experiences, the mice behaved markedly differently: they partly lost their natural aversion to open spaces and bright light and had depressive-like behaviours. These behavioural symptoms were also transferred to the next generation via sperm, even though the offspring were not exposed to any traumatic stress themselves.

Even passed on to the third generation

The metabolism of the offspring of stressed mice was also impaired: their insulin and blood-sugar levels were lower than in the offspring of non-traumatized parents. "We were able to demonstrate for the first time that traumatic experiences affect metabolism in the long-term and that these changes are hereditary", says Mansuy. The effects on metabolism and behaviour even persisted in the third generation.

<snip>

Generation mPower ex-CEO to get $910,000 severance payment

Source: Charlotte Business Journal

Former Generation mPower CEO Chris Mowry will receive $910,000 in severance as part of a retention agreement he signed with The Babcock & Wilcox Co. late last year as it looked for a buyer for a majority share of the mPower joint venture.

That is in addition to an equity award of $800,000 he received when he signed the agreement. And a number of long-term incentives will vest following his termination this week as a part of B&W’s restructuring of Generation mPower.

The restructuring means significantly less spending this year on development of the 180-megawatt mPower small nuclear reactor and plans to push back development three to five years to the mid-2020s.

Layoffs coming

It will also mean layoffs at the joint venture — 90 percent owned by Charlotte-based B&W (NYSE:BWC) and 10 percent owned by Bechtel Corp. Generation mPower does not know how deep those cuts are likely to be until it works out a new plan for developing the proposed reactor with the U.S. Department of Energy, which has agreed to invest up to $226 million in it, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, which has agreed to install the first of the reactors.

<snip>

Read more: http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/energy/2014/04/generation-mpower-exceo-seeing-910-000-severance.html?page=all




Book review: 'Why Science Does Not Disprove God' by Amir D. Aczel

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-why-science-does-not-disprove-god-by-amir-d-aczel/2014/04/10/4ee476ec-a49e-11e3-a5fa-55f0c77bf39c_story.html

Book review: ‘Why Science Does Not Disprove God’ by Amir D. Aczel

By Alan Lightman, Published: April 10

Alan Lightman is a physicist, novelist and professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT. His latest book is “The Accidental Universe.”

<snip>

Aczel, trained as a mathematician, currently a research fellow in the history of science at Boston University and the author of “Fermat’s Last Theorem,” takes aim at the New Atheists in his intelligent and stimulating book “Why Science Does Not Disprove God.” He attempts to show that the New Atheists’ analyses fall far short of disproving the existence of God. In fact, he accuses these folks of staining the scientific enterprise by bending it to their dark mission. (“The purpose of this book is to defend the integrity of science,” he writes in his introduction.) Yet Aczel has a sly mission of his own. Invoking various physical phenomena that do not (yet) have convincing scientific explanations, he sets out not only to debunk the arguments of the New Atheists but also to gently suggest that the findings of science actually point to the existence of God.

In stockpiling his arguments, Aczel quotes from his interviews with dozens of leading scientists and theologians, and interprets statements in a range of popular writings. The resulting book is part science (interesting but superficial summaries of cosmology, quantum mechanics, evolutionary biology, chaos theory), part history of religion, part philosophy, part spirituality, and a modicum of backbiting and invective. The latter applies to the writings of the New Atheists as well.

<snip to where the reviewer disagrees with the author>

I disagree. It is not the inability of science to explain some physical phenomenon that shows we cannot disprove the existence of a creative power (i.e., God). Science is a work in progress, and phenomena that science cannot explain now may be explained 100 years from now. Before the 18th century, people had no explanation for lightning. The reason that science cannot disprove the existence of God, in my opinion, is that God, as understood by all human religions, exists outside time and space. God is not part of our physical universe (although God may choose to enter the physical universe at times). God is not subject to experimental tests. Either you believe or you don’t believe.

Thus, no matter what scientific evidence is amassed to explain the architecture of atoms, or the ways that neurons exchange chemical and electrical signals to create the sensations in our minds, or the manner in which the universe may have been born out of the quantum foam, science cannot disprove the existence of God — any more than a fish can disprove the existence of trees. Likewise, no matter what gaps exist in current scientific knowledge, no matter what baffling good deeds people do, no matter what divine and spiritual feelings people have, theology cannot prove the existence of God. The most persuasive evidence of God, according to the great philosopher and psychologist William James in his landmark book “The Varieties of Religious Experience” (1902), is not physical or objective or provable. It is the highly personal transcendent experience.

<snip>


Japan may waive maglev train technology license fees in deal with U.S.

Source: Kyodo

The government is considering providing Japanese magnetically levitated train system technology to the United States without license fees, a government source said Sunday.

Tokyo is considering the possibility in order to realize a maglev high-speed train service linking Washington and Baltimore, Maryland, the source said.

Japan has also unofficially offered loans worth about ¥500 billion to help bring about the service, which is expected to require about ¥1 trillion in investments.

The government is making arrangements so that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can offer the technological assistance when he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in Tokyo on April 24, according to the source.

<snip>

Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/13/national/japan-may-waive-maglev-train-technology-license-fees-in-deal-with-u-s/

Planned nuclear waste facility raises fears for Great Lakes

Source: Detroit Free Press

Some materials that would be stored in a proposed underground nuclear waste facility less than a mile from Lake Huron are hundreds of times more radioactive than was told to Canadian government officials considering the site.

That revelation was brought to light by Frank Greening, a nuclear scientist who once worked for Ontario Power Generation, the utility seeking the deep geologic repository to store low- to intermediate-radioactive waste in Kincardine, Ontario, about 111 miles northeast of Port Huron on the Canadian side of Lake Huron.

Greening’s finding, along with a February accident at a similar underground nuclear waste storage facility in New Mexico that left workers on the surface exposed to radiation, has left Canada’s joint review panel asking new questions about the viability of the Kincardine project, and residents up in arms.

The new findings heighten the concerns many have over the nuclear waste facility’s proximity to the Great Lakes, from which 24 million U.S. residents get drinking water and that makes possible Michigan’s $2-billion fishing, $4-billion boating and $18-billion tourism industries.

<snip>

Read more: http://www.freep.com/article/20140413/NEWS06/304130074/Planned-nuclear-waste-facility-raises-fears-Great-Lakes
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