03 May, 2012 – This Week in Science


Clathrate Carbon Prison, Insect Glands, Pigeon Compass, The Staring Point, Stem Cell Suicide, Shelterin The Telomeres, Sedimentary Time travel, Art Faces, And Much More…

Disclaimer, Disclaimer, Disclaimer!!!
The following hour of programming was conceived in the big bang
It has been under construction since before the pyramids were built
Contains information that pre-dates the sun
and yet will consist solely of things revealed in the past week
If this makes your head spin, don’t panic, this is perfectly normal for a
creature that lives on a planet that is spinning
in a solar system that is spinning
in a galaxy spinning
spinning in our atoms too
atoms spinning since before the first day began
spinning now and into the future and beyond that too
and all of it spinning around a single solitary hour of programming
in attempt to give the cosmic flow of time and space
some form of manageable conceptual context
This Week in Science… coming up next

Clathrates for sequestration
Clathrates, solid structures that form around methane pockets, could be a new source of energy. We could even sequester CO2 inside once the methane is removed. Sounds like a win-win!

Insect Glands
Glands found in insects recently gave scientists clues to the functions of glands in mammals, even us humans. The gene responsible for infertility due to lack of gland expression in fruit flies is so similar to the same gene that causes infertility in mice when absent, that inserting the mouse gene into the fly genome made the flies fertile again. Despite millions of years of evolution, our building blocks are shockingly interchangeable!

Blair’s Animal Corner: Pigeons and their homing abilities – take two.
After the recent debunkery of the conventional understanding of pigeons’ homing abilities, scientists have been itching to find out the real “GPS” found inside a bird. New research shows that certain neurons in pigeons’ brains respond to changes in their surrounding magnetic field that could help them sense their heading and location. Will this theory hold, or will pigeons and their homing abilities be a mystery to us forever?

The Staring Point
What’chu lookin’ at? Scientists thought that there was a tipping point for staring: a threshold at which enough people staring at something would lead nearly everyone else to follow suit. New research suggests there isn’t a tipping point at all. Apparently the pack mentality does not apply to ogling…

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Stem Cell Suicide
Embryonic stem cells will commit suicide if they become damaged and are a danger to the developing embryo. A protein called Bax will be called into action if the stem cell becomes damaged, and the cell will be destroyed in less than 5 hours.

Shelterin and telomere protection
Telomeres, the ends of your chromosomes, are what keep us from aging and dying, so they’re kind of important. Shelterin is a cap on our telomeres that protects us from telomere degradation; scientists recently did some research on these important chromosome protectors. When the cap is removed, the DNA has six different repair mechanisms that can place the precious genes in jeopardy. Understanding these threats will help us to prevent them.

Clear Lake’s Sediments: Among the World’s Oldest.
These sediments go back as far as 500,000 years. The core drilling project by UC Berkeley is part of a research effort to see how flora and fauna has changed and responded to changing climate. From this information scientists can predict what we can expect in the near future, if climate change continues at it’s current rapid gait.

Facial Recognition in Art?
Three UC Riverside academics have won a $25,000 grant to apply facial recognition technology to art. This could be applied in many ways, including identifying previously unknown subjects in ancient artwork.

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