August 5, 2009

Kubrick’s monolith on Mars

Posted in Astronomy, Cosmology, Evolution, Mars Mission, Mystery, Nature, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Universe at 10:58 am by deadlikeme

Monolith-2001

Lunar Explorer Italia has recently published a photo of what seems to resemble a monolith on Mars. It was taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter last July.

And according to Buzz Aldrin there is also a monolith on Mars’ moon Phobos.

Was there once intelligent life on Mars or are these monoliths just natural rocks and boulders, like the infamous human face photographed by the Viking 1 probe in 1976?

marsface

Read the Dailymail.co.uk article for more information.

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March 18, 2009

T-Rex of the ocean

Posted in Animals, Biology, Dinosaurs, Evolution, Nature, Oceanography, Paleontology, Science tagged at 1:52 pm by deadlikeme

predatorx2

“Predator X” is a 50ft sea creature that hunted the seas 150 million years ago.

An international team of paleontologists have found the partial skull of this new species of pliosaurs on the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. According to the researchers it had a bite force of 33,000 pounds. This is more than 10x that of any animal living today (and at least 2x that of a T-Rex).

A 2-hour documentary on the expedition will be shown on the History Channel on March 29.

New York Times

Museum of Natural History Oslo

March 19, 2008

Waterbeds make cows udderly happy

Posted in Animals, Biology, Fun, Humor, Life, Nature at 2:43 pm by deadlikeme

cowinbed.jpgOhio farmer Bill Timmons installed waterbeds for his cows. It cost him nearly $40.000, but apparently it pays off.

Daily milk production has gone up more than 20% in only two weeks. Timmons’ explanation: “You take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

Visit Fox News for more.

Interested in buying one of those beds for your cows? Just go to Advanced Comfort Technology, Inc.

December 23, 2007

Tinker Bell in the sky

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Nature, Science, Universe at 10:48 am by deadlikeme

tinkerbell.jpgA rare case of a triple merger of galaxies bears a resemblance with J.M.Barrie’s Tinker Bell.

Through near-infrared VLT (Very Large Telescope) observations it was possible to identify the triple merger nature of the galaxy known as ESO 593-IG 008 (or IRAS 19115-2124). It was previously merely known as an interacting pair of galaxies at a distance of 650 million light-years.

The object was dubbed “The Bird”, but it also bears a resemblance with the fairy Tinker Bell from James Matthew Barrie’s novel Peter Pan. 

The “wings” itself extend more than 100,000 light years, the size of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

ESO Press release

December 18, 2007

Basic Math: Monkeys vs. College Students

Posted in Animals, Anthropology, Biology, Evolution, Nature, Science at 10:33 am by deadlikeme

donkey.jpgTwo macaque monkeys were pitted against 14 college students from Duke University in a Math on the fly test.

Elizabeth Brannon and Jessica Cantlon just published their results in the journal PLoS Biology, that show that the two female monkeys Boxer and Feinstein aren’t too far behind college students when it comes to mental math.

The task was to mentally add two sets of dots that were flashed for only half a second (500 ms) on a computer screen. The monkeys and the college students were then asked to pick the correct answer from two choices on a different screen.

addition.jpg

Both, monkeys and students typically answered within 1 second. Watch a short video of the test here (Quicktime movie).

Even though the students did score better (95% vs. 75%) one can’t deny that the monkeys performance are significantly better than chance.

We humans start learning math in kindergarden, so it’s not surprising that we are better than monkeys, who where never taught math in school.

Language is very important in the evolution of math in humans. It not only allows us to do something as basic as counting, but also all the more advanced calculations necessary for today’s science and technology. Without language our mathematical skills would be similar to those of the monkeys.

PLos Biology Article

November 2, 2007

Super Mouse created in lab: Superhero or Supervillain?

Posted in Animals, Biology, Comics, Evolution, Genetics, Nature, Science, Science Fiction, Technology at 8:13 pm by deadlikeme

supermouse.jpgThese mice are super fast, super fit, super long living and super sexy. But they also seem to be super aggresive.

Richard Hanson and his team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland conducted a standard genetic modification to a single metabolism gene to study the biochemistry at play in metabolism. To their own surprise they created a breed of super mice.

They can run non-stop for five hours at a speed of 20 metres per minute. They are 10 times more active than ordinary mice. They do eat twice as much though, but without getting fat. They also live longer, have more sex and can breed well into old age. But one downside is, they are very aggressive.

The first super mouse was created four years ago by injecting a highly active form of a gene for an enzyme called Phosphonenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (PEPCK-C) into a mouse embryo. The results of the studies are puplished in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

By the way, the gene that got manipulated in the mice is also present in humans. Super athlets, super soldiers… super villains? Que sera sera, the future’s not ours to see.

Read more at The Independant

October 6, 2007

World’s first artificial life form?

Posted in Biology, Education, Evolution, Life, Nature, News, Science at 5:48 pm by deadlikeme

protolife.jpgInstead of merely manipulating existing DNA, Craig Venter and his team have built a DNA from scratch, a synthetic chromosome called Mycoplasma laboratorium.

Using lab-made chemicals, a team of 20 scientists (led by Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith) has stitched together a chromosome that is 381 genes long and contains 580,000 base pairs of genetic code.

Once transplanted into a living bacterial cell it is expected to take control of the cell and in effect become a new life form.

Artificial DNA? Bio-ethicist Pat Mooney thinks Mr. Venter is creating a

chassis on which you could build almost anything. It could be a contribution to humanity such as new drugs or a huge threat to humanity such as bio-weapons

Visit The Guardian for more information. 

September 3, 2007

Mysterious fireball spotted off New Jersey shore

Posted in Astronomy, Mystery, Nature, Science at 7:41 am by deadlikeme

fireball.jpgLast Saturday night a fireball was seen droping from the sky into the Atlantic ocean, somewhere off the New Jersey shore. The unidentified object was first spotted by people on Normandy Beach, but apparently it could even be spotted from as far away as Fire Island and South Carolina.

The coast guard dispatched cutters and helicopters, but found nothing. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has no knowledge of missing planes.

A rare Aurigid meteor shower took place that day. The earth crossed the dust trail of comet Kiess. But the peak of that meteor shower was during the morning hours and was only observable on the west coast.

New York Post

September 1, 2007

Gigantic spider web discovered

Posted in Animals, Biology, Mystery, Nature, Science at 3:13 pm by deadlikeme

spiderweb.jpg

An enormous spider web, twice the size of a football field, has been found in Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas.

No it’s not the work of Shelob, but rather the joined effort of millions of smaller spiders. The web covers 180m of trees, shrubs and hiking trail. Once fairy-tale white, the web has now turned brown, due to the many mosquitos caught in it.

It hasn’t been determined yet what kind of spiders are responsible for this, but Donna Garde, superintendant of the park, welcomes entomologists who want to take a look at it.

But this unusual attraction won’t last long, because with the arrival of autumn the spiders will start dying off.

BBC article

August 24, 2007

Hole in the Universe

Posted in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Education, Nature, News, Science, Universe at 8:40 am by deadlikeme

hole.jpgAstronomers of the University of Minnesota found a surprisingly big hole in the universe.

Holes or voids in the universe are not really news, but this one dwarfs them all. It measures nearly a billion light-years across (our galaxy, the Milky Way, is about 100,000 light-years in diameter).

Lawrence Rudnick, Shea Brown and Liliya Williams drew their conclusions by studying data from the NVSS (NRAO VLA Sky Survey). The region had previously been dubbed as the “WMAP cold spot”. WMAP is a satellite, launched by NASA in 2001 to measure the Cosmic Microwave Background. The cold spot was discovered in 2004.

Lawrence Rudnick:

Although our surprising results need independent confirmation, the slightly colder temperature of the CMB [cosmic microwave background] in this region appears to be caused by a huge hole devoid of nearly all matter roughly 6 to 10 billion light-years from Earth.

Visit the Physorg.com article for more,

or read Rudnick and Co’s Extragalactic Radio Sources and the WMAP Cold spot paper

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