Thursday, May 31, 2007

Co-Discoverer of DNA Gets Personal Genome Map

Dr. James Watson, the co-discoverer of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has a lot to celebrate about because he's finally been "awarded" his own personal genome map. Its was the first time someone has received one and he says he knew he was risking possible anxiety when he saw it. But Watson, 79, said that he is more worried about the war in Iraq than coming face to face with his own predisposition to illnesses. His genome map actually maps out potential sicknesses due to his genetic makeup. The maps shows he is prone to cancer. He admitted that he has had skin cancer before and that his sister had breast cancer.

The project cost a million dollars and lasted for two months. However, Jonathan Rothberg, chairman of 454 Life Sciences, says the price for the service could drop to $1,000 for common people who would want to incorporate such a map in their medical care. In the near future, people may opt to have one for the betterment of disease treatment.

Where are you in the algorithm of friendship? Find out! Click here or on the image to order your own fine Big Bang Theory Friendship Algorithm T-Shirt

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Commercial Compressed Air Cars Break Wind

Make way for cars that run on air! Compressed air cars are now in commercial production in India. The Air Car, as developed by former Formula One engineer Guy Nègre, will be built by Tata Motors, India's largest automobile manufacturer. Instead of the combustion of fuel, the Air Car uses compressed air to move the cars pistons which turn the wheels. It can go for 125 miles at 68mph on a full load of air from a gasoline station's air compressor hose. The filling time is only a few minutes. A full tank costs only about $2.00.

The Air Car is basically still an electric vehicle. It only uses the compressed air to store electrical energy without the batteries. In effect, the compressed air stores the potential energy that used to be provided by storage batteries. What's wonderful about it is that it has no need for an electric motor. Thus, it is quiet and runs clean. Hybrid compressed air and gasoline cars are predicted to have a range far enough to enable cross-country trips. Now that would surely give fossil fuel dealers a run for their money!

Thermoacoustic Stove Cooks, Makes Ice and Electricity

Imagine a portable stove that not only cooks but makes ice and generates electricity as well. Would you want one? Well this kind of stove already exists and it is especially designed for use in developing countries like in Africa where there is a need for viable livelihood for the people. The stove, called SCORE for "Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity," it is expected to improve the quality of life of millions of people who sustain themselves by cooking with wood.

The new stove works through thermoacoustic technology. It works by producing sound waves from heated, pressurized gas and then converts them to electricity which can be harnessed through a socket. The process makes the stove hum, but the sound inside the pipes is actually louder than a hundred jet planes taking off.

Professor Choudhury Mahmoud Hasan of the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in Dhaka says "In Bangladesh, people could use the electricity to power lights, radio or educational equipment, for example, computers."

To make ice, the air is sent through a different part of the stove, where the sound waves cause the air to expand and to cool enough to produce ice. It takes about two hours of stove use to give ice that will keep the container cold for 24 hours.
For details on how the stove works, click here.

Microsoft's Surface Computer Surfaces

Microsoft has unveiled its tabletop screen computer that you operate by touching the screen and moving things around much like what Tom Cruise does in the movie Minority Report. Only this time, the interface is not floating in three dimensions in front of the user. It practically lies on a table and reminds you of a plasma television screen (or a fancy CRT monitor) lying on its back.

Codenamed "Milan" during development, the computer is called "Surface" and you can see why in the picture. It is a full Vista operating system computer and has been in development for five years. Cool as it looks, it may not find it's way to your homes too soon. It's way to expensive for that at between $5,000 and $10,000. Developers say it may find roles in commercial applications for companies that may be interested. Would you buy it if it becomes ready for your home or office?

Farmer Selling Mammoth Bones

John Hebior of Milwaukee, Wisconsin wants to sell mammoth bones found in his property back in the early nineties. It is one of the largest mammoth skeleton ever found and is estimated to be about 12,500 years old. It is currently stored in his basement in crates and tubs.

It all began in 1976 when Hebior's son found a big bone in the field. They didn't think much about it until 1993 when a neighbor's property yielded a mammoth skeleton. One thing led to another and soon enough, Hebior's land was being excavated by archaeologist David Overstreet of Marquette University. He didn't find the rest of the bones found earlier but he did find the other mammoth skeleton which is now considered to be one of the most complete in the world.

Hebior says he wants to use the money from the sale of the bones to fund the college education of his grandchildren. He says it could be worth between a hundred and five hundred thousand dollars. He's currently considering a bid from the Milwaukee Public Museum but he hopes to sell it on ebay if that doesn't work out. Yeah, that might work!

Pictured above is a mammoth skeleton in the Pratt Museum of Natural History in Amherst, Massachusetts.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

3 Species Lost Every Hour Says U.N.

On the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22, 2007, scientists gave reports on the threats that creatures on earth face due to human activities. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (left) says that "Biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate."

Environmentalists agree that what's happening today is the worst extinction since the time of the dinosaurs. He adds that "Extinction rates are rising by a factor of up to 1,000 above natural rates. Every hour, three species disappear. Every day, up to 150 species are lost. Every year, between 18,000 and 55,000 species become extinct." He says humans are to blame.

The coyote pictured above, for instance, are now found to be entering human habitation centers because of it's dwindling habitat. One even casually entered a sandwich shop in New York and sat on a comfy chair, unmindful of the customers,who cautiously filed out before the authorities came to get it out and back into the wilderness. The Florida garter snake pictured a few posts earlier may have the same story to tell.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sony Makes TV That's Paper-Thin and Bendable

Yes, you're not seeing things, this handheld device is really a television set that has a monitor that is as thin as a sheet of plastic and bends! It is a first by Sony, although there are no plans yet on using the technology on commercial products. How about you? What would you use it for?

Exoplanets Discovered Last Year Number Twenty Eight

The number of exoplanets (planets outside the solar system orbiting other stars) discovered last year have totalled twenty eight. They are among 37 of the new objects identified in 2006, seven of which are brown dwarf stars, or stars that failed to ignite. Jason Wright of the University of California says "We added 12 percent to the total in the last year, and we're very proud of that." The increasing number of exoplanets have shown that many types exist. Shown is a comparison of planets of the Upsilon Andromedae system and planets of the inner solar system of the Sun.

Human Encroachment into Wildreness Causes Wildlife to Encroach into Ours

This is a Garter snake which was discovered by artist/animator Roland Mechael Ilagan on his bike at his home in Florida. Scientists speculate that as the natural habitats of wild animals decrease, we may find more of them visiting our homes and even intermingling with with us whether we're aware of it or not. This snake is sending us the message that we should try to understand. As we encroach more into the dwindling wilderness, the wildlife that live there have no choice but to encroach into ours in search of food and shelter. We should be the caretakers of the wilderness and live in harmony with it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Great Lakes Rocked by Comet Explosion

There is a new theory about why animals like the woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats disappeared and how the Clovis people of North America met their end about 12,900 years ago. Scientists say that they have found evidence that a comet blew up over the Great Lakes of North America during that time. Geologist James Kennett says the evidence comes in the form of a thin layer of sediment that is present throughout the area. This has been found to contain microscopic spheres of carbon and metals, bits of diamond, helium 3 and iridium, which is rare on earth but plentiful in extraterrestrial bodies like asteroids and comets. Kennett adds that the impact coincides with a period of cooling known as the Younger Dryas. At least 17 species are known to have become extinct around the time of the impact but more evidence is needed (like an impact crater) to prove that a cometary explosion was responsible. Strangely, there is a huge gap between the habitation period of the Clovis people in the Great Lakes and the later Native Americans of the region. Pictured above is comet Hale-Bopp taken by Jose Fernando Barral Caballero over Mexico. On the left is Tom McClelland and the reconstructed skull of Kennewick Man which he made with anthropologist Jim Chatters. Kennewick Man is thought to be one of the Clovis people that died out.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Join Discover Magazine's Cover Design Contest

Are you between third and eighth grade, artistic, and interested in science and technology? If you are, then you may want to join DISCOVER magazine's nationwide contest to design an image for the cover of its October issue, “The State of Science in America.” The winning entry will be chosen by DISCOVER’s editorial team and will be one that "best captures the wonderment and possibilities of science." The winner and finalists will be profiled in that issue and on the magazine’s home page. The deadline for submission is Wednesday, June 20, 2007. Click here to read the rules.

Real Bat Plane Mulled by US Air Force

The US Air Force is planning on making bat planes. Yes, these future guardians of the sky will have technology based on the physical attributes of bats. They plan to make compact and maneuverable aerial vehicles. Engineer Kenneth Breuer and biologist Sharon Swartz have teamed up in the project to take high-resolution 3D videos of flying bats in a wind chamber to see how they slip through air. The scientists discovered that bats can be far nimbler and maneuverable than birds or insects. This is most likely because "a bat’s wings are thin and have flexible membranes interwoven with highly articulated muscles and joints that adjust both lift and drag in many ways." The study would justify Batman's preference for bat-designs on his jet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Batman's Climbing Gadget Now Real in the Flying Belt

You know how Batman goes up the side of a building so quickly, it's almost as if he's flying? Yes, he uses this gadget that fires a high-tensile line which he uses to reel himself up quickly. It's from the imagination of movie writers, but now it has become real with the invention of the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender. It is a toaster-size battery-driven device that is powerful enough to allow someone to rappel up a wall at 10 feet per second!

The inventors, Nate Ball, Tim Fofonoff, Bryan Schmid, Dan Walker, came up with the invention in 2004 as part of an annual military-gear-invention contest at MIT called the Soldier Design Competition. The gadget weighs 20-pounds and has a motorized rope-winding mechanism that holds the rope. “Until recently, it just wouldn’t have been small enough,” Fofonoff says. The team had the help of a company that produces high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Fofonoff says their invention has a greater power-to-weight ratio than a Dodge Viper.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Replica of Noah's Ark Being Buit on Mt. Ararat

The environmental group, Greenpeace, is building a replica of Noah's Ark on Mt Ararat, the place where, according to the Bible, the big boat ran aground after the Great Flood began to subside. Greenpeace said it was to deliver the message that global warming is endangering the planet, which would get flooded if greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons are not controlled. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere that causes ice in the polar regions to melt, potentially increasing sea levels and flooding coastal regions of landmasses.

The picture shows horses carrying wooden planks to the mountain.

Coincidentally, there are now two Noah movies coming soon. One is a sequel to Bruce Almighty and the other is a serious take on the Biblical character's life. For more on these, go the the archives of Hots Up.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spirit Finds Evidence of Ancient Water on Mars

The Mars Rover Spirit has found plenty of silica in a patch of soil it had sampled and analyzed. Pictured is the spot in Gusev crater where it took the sample. Scientists say that only flowing water could have deposited that much silica in the soil. Leading researcher, Steve Squyres of Cornell University, says it is a remarkable discovery which makes one wonder what else is out there.

This is not the first time that Spirit had found evidence of water in the crater. The sulfur-rich soil, water-altered minerals, and explosive volcanism also point to water in the past. The researchers hope that evidence of water on Mars will also lead to traces of life.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Migratory Birds Flock to Polluted Reservoir

For an unexplained reason, thousands of migratory birds are attracted to the Cerron Grande hydroelectric Reservoir in El Salvador. The mystery deepens when one realizes that that particular artificial body of water collects 3,800 metric tons of sewage, excrement, and industrial waste every year. It has plenty of heavy metals like chromium and lead. About 150,00 sea birds from more than 130 species have made the reservoir home. El Salvador environment ministry ornithologist Ricardo Ibarra says the birds may be attracted by crawling with insects that appear around the edge of the lake in the dry season. Scientists are worried that the birds may be harmed by the pollution when they forage for food.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This Blobfish Will Boggle Your Mind!

This is a Blobfish (Psychrolutes phrictus). Poor guy. I'd frown too, if I looked like it. Seriously, this is a Pacific fish that lives in the Bering Sea to the waters south of California.

Bruce Wayne's Fave Fish Poses for Camera

This strange undersea creature is a Bat fish. It uses this pose to intimidate or create fear in other creatures which may harm or try to eat it. Sounds familiar? But, does it really look like a bat?

For movie news, go to:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dark Matter Ring in Galaxy Cluster Photographed

For the first time in history, scientists may have solid visual proof of the existence of dark matter, which supposedly makes up a large percentage of the universe, and which, it has been theorized, can reverse the expansion process and may cause the cosmos to collapse in on itself. The galaxy cluster pictured here was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and is five billion light years away. The distinct ring of dark matter measures 2.6 million light years across. NASAs James Jee says, "Although the invisible matter has been found before in other galaxy clusters, it has never been detected to be so largely separated from the hot gas and the galaxies that make up galaxy clusters." Jee also works at the Johns Hopkins University. "Nature is doing an experiment for us that we can't do in a lab, and it agrees with our theoretical models," said team member Holland Ford. The astronomers said they made the discovery accidentally while mapping the distribution of dark matter within the ZwC10024+1652 cluster in August 2006.

Antarctica Ice the Size of California Melted in 2005

Scientists have reported that ice in Antarctica, roughly equal to the size of California, had melted in 2005, adding to fears that sea levels will rise and the salinity of the oceans would be drastically altered enough to affect life on Earth. The report is based on satellite data from NASA's QuikScat which detected snowmelt using radar. Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado in Boulder says "Antarctica has shown little to no warming in the recent past with the exception of the Antarctic Peninsula. But now, large regions are showing the first signs of the impacts of warming as interpreted by this satellite analysis."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Methane Engines for Spaceships Designed

The photo shows a methane engine for future spacecraft being tested in the Mojave desert. If successful, this will be the first time that methane will be used as fuel for space travel. One advantage of using methane fuel is that it is plentiful in the solar system and may be harvested from one planetary object to another as a spacecraft voyages. Upon leaving Earth, the spacecraft would not have to carry heavy fuel, which would lower the costs of a mission. Project manager Terri Tramel of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) says several efforts are underway, including a LOX/methane main engine design by KT Engineering.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Carina Nebula HST Photo Is Like Art

This is the Hubble Space Telescope's (HST) wide angle photo of the Carina nebula. It is reminiscent of impressionist, even abstract art. Can you name an artist with a style similar to what's depicted in this picture?

Spirit Finds Evidence of Volcano Explosion on Mars

The Mars robot, Spirit, has returned photographs of the Martian ground that seems to be evidence of a big volcanic explosion at the Home Plate area, a plateau of layered bedrock. Steve Squyres of Cornell University says "there is strong evidence that those layers are from a volcanic explosion. He says that the area near Home Plate is dominated by basaltic rocks. "When basalt erupts, it often does so as very fluid lava, rather than erupting explosively. One way for basaltic lava to cause an explosion is for it to come into contact with water---it's the pressure from the steam that causes it to go boom." This new finding gives more proof that water once flowed on Mars. The arrow in the picture points to a 4cm "bomb sag." Mars is a planet that has been considered to be geologically sterile for a long time.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Museum Pays for Live Cockroaches

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is paying people 25 cents for every live cockroach brought to them. Yes, it now makes "cents" to catch cockroaches! Curator Nancy Greig says the cockroaches will be for a live exhibit of the insects. She says "they are as clean as the area in which they live, and catching them is a great activity for kids." Well, at least for some kids who will definitely grow up to be like a CSI.

If you want to catch some, have a container ready. Cockroaches usually come out at night when everyone's asleep.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Stunning Photos of Jupiter Taken by New Horizons

The New Horizons spacecraft recently sent back photos of Jupiter that are more for art than for science. Still, they awe scientists and artists alike. The first one is a photo of one of Jupiter's Galilean moons, Europa, rising above the clouds of Jupiter. The next one is a detailed photo of "Little Red," the spot that now comes second in popularity from the Great Red. It was first photographed by Filipino amateur Christopher Go after it was created from the fusion of smaller spots. The discovery was later confirmed by experts.

Lightning Storms Create Noxious Nitric Oxide Gas

Lightning storms do not produce electricity in the air but also noxious nitrous oxide gases such as nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The former is a toxic air pollutant also produced by automobile engines and power plants, and the latter is a poisonous reddish-brown gas with a sharp odor. Scientists have now taken steps to monitor the level of gases produced by lightning storms in an attempt to determine how these affect the climate and Earth's environment in general. William Koshak, a lightning researcher at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, says that "NOx indirectly influences our climate because it partly controls the concentration of ozone (O3) and hydroxyl radicals (OH) in the atmosphere. Ozone is an important greenhouse gas, and OH is a highly reactive molecule that controls the oxidation of several greenhouse gases."

Nitrous oxide is what is commonly known as laughing gas. In the human body, nitric oxide is a precursor trigger to certain biological functions such as sex. Please see a related article after the post below, i.e., Brazilian Spider Bite Can Cure Erectile Dysfunction. You can only imagine what lightning storms do to our body. What's that tingling sensation, you say?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Real Mystery Code of Da Vinci Code Chapel Solved

The Rosslyn chapel in Scotland featured in the controversial movie "The Da Vinci Code" actually has a real mystery code in its intricate art structures. It is all about a hidden musical composition and it was discovered by a father and son team after being hidden for 600 years. Thomas Mitchell is a 75-year-old musician and ex-Royal Air Force code breaker. His son, Stuart, on the other hand, is a composer and pianist. They described the hidden musical piece as "frozen music."

The father-son duo stumbled upon the mystery when they first became intrigued by symbols carved into the chapel's arches, particularly with thirteen angel musicians and 213 carved cubes depicting geometric-type patterns. Years of research led the Mitchells to learn of an ancient musical system called cymatics, or Chladni patterns, which are formed by sound waves at specific pitches. They matched each of the patterns on the carved cubes to a Chladni pitch, and were able finally to unlock the notes of a composition.

It took 27 years for Mitchell to solve the mystery. A world premiere of the medieval music will be played at a concert in the chapel on May 18, 2007. In it, four singers will be accompanied by eight musicians playing the piece on mediaeval instruments. "It's not something you would want to put on in the car and listen to, but it's certainly an interesting piece of music," Mitchell said. "It's got a good mediaeval sound to it."
Because of the popularity of the movie, The Da Vinci Code, the number of tourists who visit Rosslyn has spiked. The trend is expected to continue with the release of the new movie sequel to the previous one directed by Ron Howard. For more movie news, go to:

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Brazilian Spider Bite Can Cure Erectile Dysfunction

It is known that the Brazilian spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) brings not only extreme pain and discomfort when it bites victims (who end up at the hospital). What's telling about each bite is that emergency staff always know if the patient has been bitten by one, particularly male patients. This is because they always have an extreme but uncomfortable erection that lasts for hours after the bite. “The erection is a side effect that everybody who gets stung by this spider will experience along with the pain and discomfort,” said study team member Romulo Leite of the Medical College of Georgia. Now, scientists have isolated the chemical that is responsible for this side effect. Dubbed Tx2-6, it is a string of amino acids called a peptide. The venom has been tested on rats whose erections were measured with a pin and it resulted in significant increases in erection levels.

There was a notable increase in nitric oxide within the cavities in the penis. When the brain senses arousal, neurons produce nitric oxide, which tells the body to produce an erection. A series of chemical reactions then occur which causes blood to rush into the male organ.

The new drug resulting from the Brazilian spider venom may soon rival Viagra in reliability and potency. However, it may still prove expensive. Well, there's always the option of allowing yourself to get bitten by a spider and get hospitalized. It happened to Peter Paker by accident and look at the boost he got! Yes, Mary Jane, you were right to choose Parker! Seriously, drugs should not be used for recreational purposes.
For movie news, go to: