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The tree, which was estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, toppled over last weekend, after a vicious winter storm rolled through the Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Arnold, California.
“The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen! This iconic and still living tree – the tunnel tree – enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it, “park volunteer Jim Allday announced on January 9.
Pioneer Cabin stood a remarkable 45.7 metres (150 feet) tall, and was just one of many giant sequoias to call the park home. Source: California’s iconic ‘tunnel tree’ has finally fallen
An Ames room is a distorted room that is used to create an optical illusion. Probably influenced by the writings of Hermann Helmholtz, it was invented by American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. in 1934, and constructed in the following year.
An Ames room is constructed so that from the front it appears to be an ordinary cubic-shaped room, with a back wall and two side walls parallel to each other and perpendicular to the horizontally level floor and ceiling. However, this is a trick of perspective and the true shape of the room is trapezoidal: the walls are slanted and the ceiling and floor are at an incline, and the right corner is much closer to the front-positioned observer than the left corner (or vice versa). (See overhead view diagram)
As a result of the optical illusion, a person standing in one corner appears to the observer to be a giant, while a person standing in the other corner appears to be a dwarf. The illusion is so convincing that a person walking back and forth from the left corner to the right corner appears to grow or shrink.
Studies have shown that the illusion can be created without using walls and a ceiling; it is sufficient to create an apparent horizon (which in reality will not be horizontal) against an appropriate background, and the eye relies on the apparent relative height of an object above that horizon. via Opitical Spy
A gibbon living in the tropical forests of south west China is a new species of primate, scientists have concluded. The animal has been studied for some time, but new research confirms it is different from all other gibbons.
It has been named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon – partly because the Chinese characters of its scientific name mean “Heaven’s movement” but also because the scientists are fans of Star Wars.
The study is published in the American Journal of Primatology.Dr Sam Turvey, from the Zoological Society of London, who was part of the team studying the apes, told BBC News: “In this area, so many species have declined or gone extinct because of habitat loss, hunting and general human overpopulation. “So it’s an absolute privilege to see something as special and as rare as a gibbon in a canopy in a Chinese rainforest, and especially when it turns out that the gibbons are actually a new species previously unrecognised by science.” Source: BC News
Researchers have brought electrides into the nanoregime by synthesizing the first 2D electride material. Electrides are ionic compounds, which are made of negative and positive ions. But in electrides, the negative “ions” are simply electrons, with no nucleus. The electrons are very close to each other and very loosely bound, causing them to act as an electron gas. This electron gas gives electrides certain electrical properties, such as a high electrical mobility and rapid electrical transport, that are very attractive for electronics applications.
The researchers, led by Scott C. Warren, an assistant professor of applied physical sciences and chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have published a paper on the demonstration of the 2D electride in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
“Layered electrides have very exciting electronic properties—for example, a conductivity much greater than that of graphene,” Warren told Phys.org. “In the crystal structure of a layered electride, a cloud of electrons is spread out into a flat two-angstrom-thick plane between slabs of atoms. The electrons can conduct through that flat cloud with few interactions with nearby atoms, allowing them to move very quickly.”
Potential applications include transparent conductors, battery electrodes, electron emitters, and catalysts for chemical synthesis.
“The potential application that excites us the most is in advanced batteries, which is the focus of our current collaboration with the Honda Research Institute,” Warren said. “There are other exciting potential applications too, for example as transparent conductive films. From an academic perspective, this work opens up synthetic routes to study 2D electrides experimentally and to test potential applications that we haven’t even considered yet.”
Edited from: Scientists create first 2-D electride
…A team led by Stéphane Dorbolo from the University of Liége in Belgium decided to get to the bottom of these crazy things once and for all.Using some cameras, a nickel bead, a magnet, and Petri dish popsicles, the researchers simulated what happens when a sheet of ice floating on water starts to melt, as it would on a frozen river as the weather warms up.
Strangely enough, the ice sheet started rotating, even though the team hadn’t added any eddies to the model. Turns out, the spinning is actually down to some crazy properties in the water itself – not the currents it forms in a flowing river.
As Ryan F. Mandelbaum explains for Gizmodo, water happens to be at its densest at exactly 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) – and that’s important. “In their experiments, the scientists measured the flow of the water beneath the ice, and found that the icy disc cooled the water surrounding it,” says Mandelbaum. “When surrounding water hit the 39.2 degrees point, it sank and formed a vortex. This vortex of water whirls the ice floating atop it.”
But while the paper, published in Physical Review E last April, finally explains the spinning, it doesn’t explain how the disc ends up in such a perfectly round shape. It could be that shards of ice are collected up by the vortex and added to the disc to form the circle shape, or maybe the circle shape develops gradually – the disc smoothes itself out over hundreds and thousands of rotations. Edited from:– ScienceAlert
Whether it’s from a surgical procedure, clumsy shaving, or that traumatic biking incident that happened when you were five, just about everyone has a scar they wish would just fade away. And while there’s not a whole lot that can be done for scars that are already there, researchers have figured out how to make fresh wounds heal as normal, regenerated skin, instead of the usual scar tissue – something that was previously thought to be impossible in mammals.
“Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring,” said one of the team, George Cotsarelis, chair of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. “The secret is to regenerate hair follicles first. After that, the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles.”
If you’ve ever wondered why scar tissue looks so different from regular skin, it’s because scar tissue doesn’t contain any fat cells or hair follicles. The type of skin that regenerates over a small, superficial cut is filled with fat cells called adipocytes, just like the skin you were born with, which means the two will eventually blend into each other once the wound has healed. But scar tissue is made up almost entirely of cells called myofibroblasts, and doesn’t contain any fat cells at all. So instead of blending into the surrounding skin once the wound has fully healed, it looks completely different – permanently.
The same goes for ageing skin – as we age, we lose our adipocytes, which leads to discolouration and deep, irreversible wrinkles.But scientists have discovered that existing myofibroblasts can actually be converted into adipocytes, which suggests that as a wound is healing, scar tissue could be converted to regenerated skin instead – something that scientists thought could only be possible in fish and amphibians. Source: Scientists have figured out how to make wounds heal without scars
Identifying cancer based on blood samples can be surprisingly challenging. Often, doctors add chemicals to a sample that can make the cancerous cells visible, but that makes the sample impossible to use in other tests. Other techniques identify cancerous cells based on their abnormal structure, but those take more time (those cells are often rare in a given sample) and can misidentify healthy misshapen cells as cancerous.
Now researchers at University of California Los Angeles have developed a technique that combines a special microscope with an artificial intelligence algorithm to non-destructively identify cancer in a sample. Not only can that reduce the time and energy needed to diagnose cancer (and, thus, allow doctors to treat it more quickly), but could also be an asset for the field of precision medicine. The researchers published a paper about their technique recently in the journal Scientific Reports.
The microscope is called a photonic time stretch microscope, which uses nanosecond-long pulses of light broken into lines to capture images of hundreds of thousands of cells per second. Those images are fed into a computer program, which categorizes 16 of the cells’ different physical features, such as diameter, circularity, and how much light they absorb.
Using a set of images that had already been analyzed, the researchers used deep learning to train a computer program to identify cancerous cells. After several rounds of tests, the researchers found that their system was at least 17 percent better than existing analytical tools. The researchers believe their method could lead to more data-driven cancer diagnoses, according to a press release.
Deep learning has already been used to help diagnose diseases by analyzing patients’ genes. Since this technique can identify cancerous cells that scientists might not otherwise have caught, it could also help researchers better understand the mutations that drive cancer, helping them create new treatments for them as well. Source: Popular Science
Isn’t it beautiful? This is an illustrated logarithmic scale conception of the observable Universe with the Solar System at the centre.
Encircling the Solar System are the inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri star, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, other nearby galaxies, the cosmic web, cosmic microwave radiation, and invisible plasma produced by the Big Bang at the very edges.
Created by musician and artist Pablo Carlos Budassi, the image is based on logarithmic maps of the Universe put together by Princeton University researchers, as well as images produced by NASA based on observations made by their telescopes and roving spacecraft. The Princeton team, led by astronomers J Richard Gott and Mario Juric, based their logarithmic map of the Universe on data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which over the past 15 years has been using a 2.5-metre, wide-angle optical telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to create the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the Universe ever made, including spectra for more than 3 million astronomical objects. Source: This is what the entire known Universe looks like in a single image
The mesentery, which connects the intestine to the stomach, was previously thought to be made up of lots of separate parts. But Irish surgeon Prof J Calvin Coffey discovered it was one single structure. He said his research, published in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, could lead to a new area of science and better understanding of disease.
There are now 79 organs in the human body, and medical textbook Gray’s Anatomy has been updated to include the mesentery. But more scientific research is now needed to work out exactly what the organ does. Edited from: BBC News
Dr James Fox presents his must-see Pre-Raphaelite houses to visit this summer; from Morris’ iconic Arts and Crafts house, crammed with murals by Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones to an elaborate Victorian manor home to an impressive Pre-Raphaelite collection.
This incredible photo is the crescent Moon, next to a crescent Venus (the Moon is the larger, fainter crescent). The photo was taken back in 2004 in Budapest – so amazing!
Image: Iván Éder
Every person’s DNA contains part of the human story: how our ancestors — lanky, tool-using apes — spread across the planet, colonizing environments as varied as the Himalayas, Arctic and Amazon Basin.
Millions of people have had at least part of their DNA studied, but because they’re mostly urban Westerners and East Asians, the samples repeat the same details of that story. From this data, we’ve known for three decades that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago. To answer when and how humans migrated out of Africa, researchers needed DNA from a wider pool of people.
Three research groups sequenced high-quality genomes of 787 people from over 270 populations. Their findings were published concurrently in Nature in September. Two of the studies drew samples from isolated groups across the globe to maximize linguistic and cultural diversity. The third focused on indigenous people of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
“Genomes from these more remote populations really can tell us a huge amount about human evolutionary history,” says Evelyn Jagoda, a Harvard University evolutionary genetics Ph.D. student and co-author of one of the studies.
Although each team collected and analyzed genomes independently, they came to the same general conclusion: Genetic similarities between peoples of Eurasia, Oceania and the Americas indicate that all non-Africans descend from a small population that left Africa roughly 60,000 years ago.
Older Homo sapiens made it out of Africa, but these populations must have mostly died out. Only one of the three studies detected a trace of their existence: About 2 percent of the genomes of Papuans are probably from these earlier migrants.Researchers hope to use the new data to find population-specific diseases and adaptations. There are still many things to be learned, says Nick Patterson, a Broad Institute computational biologist and a study co-author. “This data is extremely rich.”Source: We Are All Africans
The 2000-year-old Hallaton Helmet is the only Roman helmet ever found in Britain that still has most of its silver-gilt plating attached. …
The helmet was discovered by 71-year-old Ken Wallace, a retired teacher and amateur archaeologist. He and other members of the Hallaton Fieldwork Group had found fragments of Roman pottery on a hill near Hallaton in 2000. He visited the site with a second-hand metal detector late one afternoon and found about 200 coins, which had been buried in a series of small pits dug into the clay. Hallaton_helmet_front_rightHe also found another artifact, which he left in the ground overnight. The following day he returned to examine his discovery and found it that it was a silver ear. He reported the find to Leicestershire’s county archaeologist, who called in the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) to excavate the site.
The dig took place in the spring of 2003. Hallaton_helmet_front_leftThe helmet is an example of a three-piece Roman ceremonial cavalry helmet, made of sheet iron covered with silver sheet and partly decorated with gold leaf.Such helmets were worn by Roman auxiliary cavalrymen in displays known as hippika gymnasia and may also have been worn in battle, despite their relative thinness and lavish decoration.Horses and riders wore lavishly decorated clothes, armour and plumes while performing feats of horsemanship and re-enacting historical and legendary battles, such as the wars of the Greeks and Trojans.
Yitang “Tom” Zhang spent the seven years following the completion of his Ph.D. in mathematics floating between Kentucky and Queens, working for a chain of Subway restaurants, and doing odd accounting work. Now he is on a lecture tour that includes stops at Harvard, Columbia, Caltech, and Princeton, is fielding multiple professorship offers, and spends two hours a day dealing with the press. That’s because, in April, Zhang proved a theorem that had eluded mathematicians for a century or more. When we called Zhang to see what he thought of being thrust into the spotlight, we found a shy, modest man, genuinely disinterested in all the fuss.
Mathematicians don’t tend to get famous. That’s probably because it’s hard for the public to grasp what they do. The importance of the light bulb, penicillin, or DNA is easy to understand, and Edison, Fleming, and Crick are household names. The likes of Euler, Riemann, or Dirichlet seem, by comparison, outside of mainstream awareness.
But mathematicians also star in some of the most dramatic stories in science. The lone, unrecognized genius laboring away on a groundbreaking theory over many years is more fiction than fact for most of modern science—but not in mathematics. Andrew Wiles’ 1995 proof of Fermat’s last theorem, which had defied all efforts to prove it for more than 300 years, was made all the more dramatic by the secrecy with which it was conducted. But Wiles was already ensconced in the elite circles of mathematics when he did his work.
Not only did Zhang work in relative secrecy, he was also a complete unknown. He had found work as a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in 1999, eight years after he finished his Ph.D., with the help of connections at his undergraduate institution, Peking University. Then, in April of this year, Zhang announced a proof that cracked open a century-old problem in mathematics, called the twin prime conjecture. “It was like climbing Everest,” says Ayalur Krishnan, a math professor at CUNY’s Kingsborough community college.
Read the whole article here: How Yitang “Tom” Zhang Proved a Theorem That Had Stumped Mathematicians for a Century
Guizhou Province in southwest China is already home to seven of the 10 highest bridges in the country. And the Beipanjiang Bridge, the world’s highest, has just opened to traffic. Clearly with a good head for heights, CCTV’s Liu Yang visited this latest example of how Chinese engineering now ranks among the best in the world.
Enceladus is an Icy moon of Saturn that has geysers at its south pole shooting out liquid water from a lake or ocean below, created by heat from tidal interactions between Saturn’s various moons. These geysers were one of the biggest discoveries of the Cassini spacecraft, now in the last year of its life before it is crashed into Saturn to avoid contaminating the surface of any of these moons with life from Earth. The presence of liquid water already shooting into space makes Enceladus one of the best places in this solar system to hunt for extraterrestrial life – this video clip takes you through the basics of a mission concept that would do exactly that.
Today is the birthday of German astronomer Johannes Kepler, who was born in Weil der Stadt in the Holy Roman Empire in 1571. He received a Lutheran education at the University of Tübingen and originally planned to be a theologian. Then one of his teachers gave him a copy of a book by Nicolaus Copernicus, sparking Kepler’s interest in astronomy. In 1600 Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe invited Kepler to Prague to help amass a precise set of astronomical measurements. Brahe died the following year, and Kepler inheritied his mentor’s data and position as imperial mathematician to the Holy Roman emperor. In 1609 Kepler published Astronomia Nova, which included his first two laws of planetary motion; his third law was published in 1619. Kepler observed a supernova (though he called it a “new star”) and completed the detailed astronomical tables Brahe had been so determined to produce. Kepler also contributed research in optics and vision. Later in the century Isaac Newton would prove his law of universal gravitation by showing that it could produce Kepler’s orbits.