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Posts posted by SciTechPress

  1. 'Humanlike' ways of thinking evolved 1.8 million years ago, suggests new study:


    By using highly advanced brain imaging technology to observe modern humans crafting ancient tools, an Indiana University neuroarchaeologist has found evidence that human-like ways of thinking may have emerged as early as 1.8 million years ago.

    The results, reported May 8 in the journal Nature Human Behavior, place the appearance of human-like cognition at the emergence of Homo erectus, an early apelike species of human first found in Africa whose evolution predates Neanderthals by nearly 600,000 years.

    “This is a significant result because it’s commonly thought our most modern forms of cognition only appeared very recently in terms of human evolutionary history,” said Shelby S. Putt, a postdoctoral researcher with The Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, who is first author on the study. “But these results suggest the transition from apelike to humanlike ways of thinking and behaving arose surprisingly early.”

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    via ScitechPress.org

  2. Boom! Supersonic Passenger Jet Coming by 2020:


    Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic has just partnered with startup Boom Technology to build a supersonic aircraft, Boom Technology announced. The plane would zip through the skies faster than the Concorde jet or any other commercial aircraft today, Boom Technology said.

    Aircraft that fly faster than the speed of sound were first developed in the mid-20th century. But regulations and technical challenges halted innovation and expansion of the concept, said Boom Technology, which has headquarters in Denver. The aviation startup said it aims to change that by developing a modern, supersonic passenger jet that travels at Mach 2.2. That’s twice the speed of sound, or 1,451 mph (2,335 km/h). The Concorde, a now-retired supersonic passenger jet, flew at speeds of up to about 1,350 mph (2,180 km/h).

    Boom also aims to set a new speed record for civil aircraft, according to a blog post by Blake Scholl, CEO and founder of Boom.

    At Mach 2.2, passengers could travel between New York City and London in 3 hours and 15 minutes, the company said. The supersonic jet could fly between San Francisco and Tokyo in 5.5 hours, or between Sydney and Los Angeles in 6 hours and 45 minutes.

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    via ScitechPress.org

  3. tumblr_opnr305JVR1rlxtnvo1_500.jpg


    Microscopic soil creatures could orchestrate massive tree migrations

    Warming temperatures are prompting some tree species in the Rocky Mountains to “migrate” to higher elevations in order to survive.                                

    Researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have discovered that tiny below-ground organisms play a role in this phenomenon—and could be used to encourage tree migration in order to preserve heat-sensitive species. Their work shows how these invisible biotic communities create “soil highways” for young trees, meaning they could determine how quickly species march uphill, if at all.

    The newfound role of the soil microbiome—the collection of microscopic bacteria, fungi and archaea that interact with plant roots—represents a turning point for research aimed at understanding and predicting where important tree species will reside in the future.

    Just as human microbiome research is rapidly changing our perspectives on human health and behavior, the interactions between trees and their soil microbiomes may dramatically change how we think about the health and behavior of forests.

    The study was recently published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

    Michael E. Van Nuland et al. Divergent plant–soil feedbacks could alter future elevation ranges and ecosystem dynamics, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0150


    via ScitechPress.org

  4. Drone Hunters: Anti-UAV rifle released in China

    As China increases restrictions on unauthorised drone flights over public safety fears, Bei Dou Open Lab showcased their innovative counter drone technology to crack down illegal drone flights. The new anti-drone system is powered by smartphones and can be safely used at large, public gatherings. It tracks down drones with a simulated GPS signal and guides them safely to the ground.

    via ScitechPress.org

  5. This Never Before Seen Spider Looks Like a Leaf:


    For Matjaz Kuntner, it was just another evening trek through southwestern China’s Yunnan rain forest—until his headlamp illuminated a strand of spider silk.

    That’s not so surprising on its own. But what attracted the arachnologist’s attention is the silk appeared to attach a leaf to a tree branch. After looking closer, Kuntner realized one of these leaves was actually a spider.

    “If there’s a web, there’s a spider,” says Kuntner, of the Smithsonian Institution and the Evolutionary Zoology Laboratory in Slovenia.

    The arachnid uses its silk to attach leaves to tree branches, and then hides among the branches, according to a new study in the Journal of Arachnology. The researchers still aren’t sure why the spider does this, but they believe it’s likely to hide from predators or sneak up on prey…


    via ScitechPress.org

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    it understood there was water in there…and exactly how to get the water out….it just couldn’t do it alone…hot damn they are fucking smart

    This crow would have grown up in that area, watching people with bottles. It would have observed them opening the cap, and the water flowing out. Crows are incredibly intelligent, and this further proves the fact that it connected that without that lid water would be available.

    via ScitechPress.org

  7. tumblr_onztcsvCco1suvpd0o2_500.jpg


    What Does A Black Hole Look Like? 

    Astronomers are on a quest to find out

    by Sarah Kaplan / Washington Post

    By its very nature, the black hole at the heart of our galaxy is impossible to spot. Its overwhelming gravity allows nothing to escape, not even light. Massive enough to send shivers through space-time itself, yet perfectly invisible, it lurks in the darkness like a monster from a child’s nightmare, felt but unseen.

    It is the stuff of physicists’ wildest dreams.

    “Black holes are basically the most mysterious objects in the cosmos,” said Shep Doeleman, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Even Albert Einstein almost didn’t believe they were real, even though it was his theory of general relativity that helped predict them more than 100 years ago.

    In the century since, scientists have been able to sense black holes through observations of their influence on nearby matter. And with last year’s detection of gravitational waves emitted by two colliding black holes, they’ve also heard them. But no one has ever seen a black hole. The enigmatic objects hide behind an “event horizon” the boundary at which gravity acts like an invisibility cloak, wrapping around light and matter and swallowing them whole. No telescope on Earth is powerful enough to penetrate that abyss.

    At least, no single telescope is. Beginning on Wednesday night (April 5th), a battalion of 120 astronomers working at eight observatories on four continents will mobilize in an unprecedented effort to image the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, a body named Sagittarius A*. By combining observations from points across the globe, they’ll create a virtual observatory the size of Earth itself. The “Event Horizon Telescope,” they call it.

    Read the entire article

    via ScitechPress.org

  8. tumblr_oo0e2xsKQU1rog5d1o1_500.jpg


    How to Make a Motor Neuron

    A team of scientists has uncovered details of the cellular mechanisms that control the direct programming of stem cells into motor neurons. The scientists analyzed changes that occur in the cells over the course of the reprogramming process. They discovered a dynamic, multi-step process in which multiple independent changes eventually converge to change the stem cells into motor neurons.

    “There is a lot of interest in generating motor neurons to study basic developmental processes as well as human diseases like ALS and spinal muscular atrophy,” said Shaun Mahony, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State and one of the lead authors of the paper. “By detailing the mechanisms underlying the direct programing of motor neurons from stem cells, our study not only informs the study of motor neuron development and its associated diseases, but also informs our understanding of the direct programming process and may help with the development of techniques to generate other cell types.”

    The direct programming technique could eventually be used to regenerate missing or damaged cells by converting other cell types into the missing one. The research findings, which appear online in the journal Cell Stem Cell on December 8, 2016, show the challenges facing current cell-replacement technology, but they also outline a potential pathway to the creation of more viable methods.

    “Despite having a great therapeutic potential, direct programming is generally inefficient and doesn’t fully take into account molecular complexity,” said Esteban Mazzoni, an assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Biology and one of the lead authors of the study. “However, our findings point to possible new avenues for enhanced gene-therapy methods.”

    The researchers had shown previously that they can transform mouse embryonic stem cells into motor neurons by expressing three transcription factors – genes that control the expression of other genes – in the stem cells. The transformation takes about two days. In order to better understand the cellular and genetic mechanisms responsible for the transformation, the researchers analyzed how the transcription factors bound to the genome, changes in gene expression, and modifications to chromatin at 6-hour intervals during the transformation.

    “We have a very efficient system in which we can transform stem cells into motor neurons with something like a 90 to 95 percent success rate by adding the cocktail of transcription factors,” said Mahony. “Because of that efficiency, we were able to use our system to tease out the details of what actually happens in the cell during this transformation.”

    “A cell in an embryo develops by passing through several intermediate stages,” noted Uwe Ohler, senior researcher at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin and one of the lead authors of the work. “But in direct programming we don’t have that: we replace the gene transcription network of the cell with a completely new one at once, without the progression through intermediate stages. We asked, what are the timing and kinetics of chromatin changes and transcription events that directly lead to the final cell fate?“

    The research team found surprising complexity – programming of these stem cells into neurons is the result of two independent transcriptional processes that eventually converge. Early on in the process, two of the transcription factors – Isl1 and Lhx3 – work in tandem, binding to the genome and beginning a cascade of events including changes to chromatin structure and gene expression in the cells. The third transcription factor, Ngn2, acts independently making additional changes to gene expression. Later in the transformation process, Isl1 and Lhx3 rely on changes in the cell initiated by Ngn2 to help complete the transformation. In order for direct programming to successfully achieve cellular conversion, it must coordinate the activity of the two processes.

    “Many have found direct programming to be a potentially attractive method as it can be performed either in vitro – outside of a living organism – or in vivo – inside the body and, importantly, at the site of cellular damage,” said Mazzoni. “However, questions remain about its viability to repair cells – especially given the complex nature of the biological process. Looking ahead, we think it’s reasonable to use this newly gained knowledge to, for instance, manipulate cells in the spinal cord to replace the neurons required for voluntary movement that are destroyed by afflictions such as ALS.”

    via ScitechPress.org

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