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Daily Archives: February 13, 2012
René François Ghislain Magritte (21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images. His work challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality. Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, in 1898, the eldest son of Léopold Magritte, who was a tailor and textile merchant, and Régina (née Bertinchamps), a milliner until her marriage. Little is known about Magritte’s early life. He began lessons in drawing in 1910. On 12 March 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in … Continue reading
28 years ago yesterday, NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless left the relative safety of Challenger’s payload bay and went untethered into orbit around Earth, venturing farther than anyone ever before. The historic photo above was taken when McCandless was 320 feet from the orbiter — about the length of an American football field, or just shy of the width of the International Space Station. The free-flying endeavor was possible because of McCandless’ nitrogen-powered jet-propelled backpack, called a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). It … Continue reading
While most proposals for future space exploration involve trips to the Moon or Mars, we don’t actually have to land anywhere to break new ground. This plan would establish an outpost further from Earth than any human has ever gone. The idea, which NASA is currently trying to develop into a full-fledged plan, would involve setting up a “human-tended outpost” at one of the Lagrangian points. Also known as libration points, these are locations in the Earth-Moon system where the gravitational … Continue reading
Researchers at the Salk Institute have discovered a startling feature of early brain development that helps to explain how complex neuron wiring patterns are programmed using just a handful of critical genes. The findings, published in Cell, may help scientists develop new therapies for neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and provide insight into certain cancers. The Salk researchers discovered that only a few proteins on the leading edge of a motor neuron’s axon — its outgoing electrical … Continue reading
Although the process of mitotic cell division has been studied intensely for more than 50 years, Whitehead Institute researchers have only now solved the mystery of how cells correctly align their chromosomes during symmetric mitosis. To solve a mystery, sometimes a great detective need only study the clues in front of him. Like Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Tomomi Kiyomitsu used his keen powers of observation to solve a puzzle that had mystified researchers for … Continue reading