Since it's so dark down there, it's not surprising that bioluminescence using several distinct chemical mechanisms has evolved many times in the sea among a large number of only distantly related beasties.
In 2005, warm "El Niño" water encouraged the growth of bioluminescent dinoflagellates (Lingulodinium polyedrum) along the Southern California coast shown here lighting breaking waves at midnight on our local Carlsbad CA beach. Under the right conditions, the dinoflagellates, more commonly known as plankton, become so numerous that the water takes on a muddy reddish color, hence the name "Red Tide."
Bioluminescence is not the same as "fluorescence," which is energy from a light source that is absorbed and re-emitted. Bioluminescence energy is supplied by a chemical reaction between at least two chemicals—one that produces the light (called a "luciferin") and the one that drives or catalyzes the reaction (called a "luciferase").
Almost all marine bioluminescence is blue in color becuase it's more easily transmitted in blue water. A notable exception to this "rule" is Malacosteid family of fishes (known as Loosejaws), which produce red light and are able to see this light when other organisms can not.
If you have oily skin, use heavy cosmetics, and don't wash thoroughly you'll be home to a herd of these little beasts. But all of us carry a few Demodicids, no matter how good your hygiene.
An individual female may lay up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, and as the not-so-cuddly mites grow, they become tightly packed. When mature, they leave home, mate, and find a new follicle in which to lay their eggs. The whole cycle takes between 14 to 18 days.
Still, Demodex are harmless and don't transmit diseases, although if you allow big colonies to grow they can cause itching and skin problems.
While what goes up must come down, as they say, but what goes in does not necessarily have to come out. You'll be glad to know these guy's digestive system works so good they don't poop...they don't even have an anal opening. In fact, they help keep our home clean by munching the millions of skin cells we shed each day. (About 80 percent of the material seen floating in a sunbeam is actually skin flakes.)
Just try not to think about the fact that your pillow is home to 10,000 to 400,000 of their little buddies called Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus - flesh-eating pillow mites. Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings--they do poop.
Macau's average take per table is five times the average for Las Vegas thanks to higher stakes. In Vegas, you'll find $1 tables, but in Macau the betting starts at HK$100 (US$12.85). The real action, however, isn't in the HK$300 blackjack or dice games, but VIP baccarat in plush, private rooms. High rollers, known as whales, account for about 80% of Macau's gambling revenue.
Las Vegas high rollers Steve Wynn (Wynn Resorts) and Sheldon Adelson (Sands) are gambling billions on Macau too. Adelson opened a $240 million downtown Sands in May 2004, giving Macau its initial look at Las Vegas glitz. In 2007 he'll open the $2 billion Venetian Macao, complete with an eastern version of the strip built on landfill between two outlying islands.
What happens in Macau stays in Macau? Yup, the Chinese government takes a 35% tax on casino profits.
"Our results show that we can store more faces than other objects in our visual short-term memory," the study's author said. "We believe this happens because of the special way faces are stored in memory. "How much you can fit in a bag depends on how well you pack it. In the same way, our expertise in 'packaging' faces means that we can remember more of them."
Study participants studied up to five faces on a screen. A single face was later presented and participants decided if this was a face that was part of the original display. For a comparison, the process was repeated with other objects, like watches or cars. It turned out that participants were much better identifying correct faces than other objects.
The researchers believe that our experience with faces explains this advantage. This theory is supported by the fact that the advantage was only obtained for faces encoded in the upright orientation, with which we are most familiar. Faces that were viewed upside-down were not remembered any better than other objects.
It's easy to understand why a special ability to remember faces would evolve in social animals like humans. "I know you! You're a friend, or enemy, or ..."
Now if only we had evolved the ability to remember where we put the car keys!
Most of the blood vessels in the human body are microscopic capillaries. They're short but there are a lot of them - about 40 billion. So, even though they're small, they're so numerous they constitute the majority of the body's 100,000 miles of vessels.
To propel blood on this long journey the heart pumps about 4,000 beats an hour; 100,000 beats a day; 30 million times a year; and 2.5 billion times in a 70 year lifetime. In that period it would have pumped about 1 million barrels of blood - that's enough to fill more than 3 super tankers. Whew!
In view of all that hard work, "have a heart" and treat that life-giving pump well. It sure has done a heck of a job for you.
A coin from 32 BC showing the couple's likenesses was recently found in a collection of the Society of Antiquaries in England. They're shown on either side of a silver coin about the size of a penny.
To refresh your memory, Cleopatra was the last ruler of Egypt before its conquest by the Romans in 30 BC. For 2,000 years she's been portrayed in art, plays and movies as a beautiful temptress and Mark Anthony, her Roman paramour, has been depicted as a dashing figure.
“Actually, Roman writers tell us that Cleopatra was intelligent and charismatic, and that she had a seductive voice but, tellingly, they do not mention her beauty," said Allison Jones of the Antiquities Society.
Because the coin was from Cleopatra's time, it's probably an accurate likeness. Besides, who would fake a "puss" like that?
The bursts occur in all directions of the sky and last from a few milliseconds to a few hundred seconds. So far scientists do not know what causes them, but suspect the birth of a black hole.
Some very massive stars (at least 30 times more massive than the Sun) can collapse into black holes several million years after they form. The energy released in the formation of the black hole emerges out of the collapsed star in the form of a gamma ray burst—the "collapsar" model.
If the asteroids land in the Pacific Ocean (likely, if for no other reason than the Pacific is so large) it could create a huge tsunami that would wreak havoc on Pacific islands and the West Coast of the US. Venezuela and Siberia are possible impact zones for Apophis too.
Previous near-earth asteroids have created a furor in the press, because such an impact could be devastating. But so far the scare has always been unfounded. Still, the day will come. NASA currently lists 127 asteroids that may hit Earth, and soon the number may be in the thousands as our search for them improves.
During the past 10 years, a concerted search effort by astronomers has led to the detection of an estimated 90% of the huge asteroids that could threaten Earth with devastation on a global scale—such as the one that killed off the dinosaurs. In the coming decade, a next-generation search is likely to uncover most of the remaining global hazards, and perhaps thousands of smaller asteroids that could cause damage on a regional scale—such as the 800-foot-wide Apophis, that could "merely" threaten millions of lives.
About 90 percent of the world's fresh water is locked in the thick ice cap that covers Antarctica.
If it all melts it could cause a 20-foot increase in world sea levels. Even a 39-inch sea level rise could cause havoc in coastal and low-lying areas around the globe, according to a World Bank study released this week.
One lake that measured roughly 19 miles by 6 miles caused a 30 foot change in elevation of the snow at the surface when it drained over a period of about 30 months.
A normal piece of paper has two sides. You can prove that by coloring it two different colors. Also, if you want to trace a line around it you have to go over an edge - another proof that it has two sides. But just twist it and rejoin it, you have an object with one side - not two. That's a Mobius strip. Like this:
Very weird. Not only can't you color it two different colors but you can trace a line all the way around it without lifting the pencil. (Just imagine the yellow car towing a pencil.) Try that with a regular sheet of paper. How is it possible? Like I said, it has only one side!
Engineers often take advantage of this property when designing drive belts or conveyor belts. If you put a twist in the belt you double the surface area and so it wears out half as fast. Or, thinking of it another way, you don't have the problem of wear on one side or the other because there is only one side! In fact B.F. Goodrich Co. patented the Mobius Twist for conveyor belts.
Check it out for yourself with a strip of paper and some tape. Then make yourself a buck by betting a friend that you can make one side of a piece of paper disappear from the universe!
The greenhouse effect helps regulate the temperature of our planet. It is essential for life on Earth. Without it we'd all be Popsicles. The temperature of the Earth would be about 32 degrees below freezing -- zero degrees Fahrenheit!
What is the greenhouse effect? Heat from the sun is absorbed by water vapor, carbon dioxide and trace gases. These heated gases then radiate heat back to the planet's surface.
The term, "greenhouse effect" is misleading because a real greenhouse does not behave like the atmosphere. A greenhouse warms like a blanket, suppressing the exchange of air between the inside and outside. As noted, this isn't how the atmosphere keeps the Earth warm. The atmosphere doesn't suppress heat exchange, it helps it.
Our concern isn't that we have a greenhouse effect, but whether it's increasing so much that it is hurting the Earth, our only refuge in the cold universe.
Something flared up in the atomic mechanism of a star’s nucleus and it exploded.
Anyone unlucky enough to be visiting one of the star's planets would have seen their local sun swell, not a little but a lot.
Within a quarter of an hour observers would have been forced to seek useless shelter against global warming like we've never dreamed.
In half an hour all life died—except perhaps for some hardy bacteria that managed to survive a bit longer.
After an hour, the seas and ice boiled; after three, rocks melted and mountains crumbled into valleys and melted into lava.
After ten hours, the entire planet was reduced to vapor. All life, all matter was gone.
Traveling at the speed of light, 7500 years later, that very bright star unexpectedly appeared in the constellation Cassiopeia and was observed by Tycho and the nova was named after him. Shakespeare saw it too, and described it as a "star that's westward from the pole" in Hamlet.
A remnant blue shock wave of twenty million degree Celsius gas is visible today (Hubble photo above). It was all over in a few hours, but the remnants of the explosion continue to expand today, almost 10,000 years later, leaving stellar debris with a temperature of about ten million degrees visible as mottled yellow, green with red fingers of hot gas.
One of the largest engineering facilities in Europe is launching a major project to design post 2025 airliners. And one of the designs is saucer shaped.
They're trying to design a 125 seat airliner that's the most environmental friendly airplane ever conceived.
Besides a huge reduction in emissions (>50% in CO2, and >80% in NO
The designers know some major breakthrough will be required, that's the idea—to come up with innovative ideas that can stiumulate a breakthrough. Initial thinking is to move away from a traditional cylinder-shaped fuselage to bubble or double-bubble flying saucer shapes.
The kinetic-kill impact shattered both objects into thousands of pieces with orbits ranging from 3500 km down to 200 km. The junk threatened all space craft below 2,000 km, including the International Space Station.
To be tracked with today's technology, an object has to be at least 10 cm in diameter. There are an estimated 110,000+ pieces of untracked space debris with diameters more than 1 cm in space, and over 40 million pieces with diameters of more than 1 mm. The debris weighs about 3000 tons and, until this event, was increasing by 2% to 5% every year.
At this rate, nothing will be able to enter earth orbit by 2300 unless the mob decides to get into space trash management too.
Those who work in offices often feel compelled to give chocolates to all their male co-workers, sometimes at significant personal expense.
This chocolate is known as giri-choko, in Japan, from the words giri ("obligation") and choko, a common short version of chokorēto, meaning "chocolate".
By a further marketing effort, a reciprocal day called White Day has emerged. On March 14, men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day.
Many men, however, give only to their girlfriends. Originally, the return gift was supposed to be white chocolate or marshmallows; hence "White Day". However, men have interpreted the name differently and lingerie has become a common gift.
According to an Internet survey, 70 percent of working women said they would be happy if there was no tradition of giving "obligatory chocolates" to their boyfriends or colleagues.
Nearly 60 percent said they felt unhappy as Valentine's Day approached, citing the cost and time it takes to shop for the gifts, which are finely calculated to express just the right emotions toward a boss, a colleague or a true boyfriend.
The custom has grown into a sweet 50 billion yen ($424.6 million) market for Japan's chocolate makers, some of whom rake in 20 to 30 percent of annual profits in a few short weeks.
Don't feel bad if you got this wrong. We heard one of the stars of "Mythbusters" flub this concept. He calls himself an expert, but this makes us wonder -- an expert at what? He was trying to propel a boat with jets of compressed air. It wasn't working too well so he said he was going to point the jet's blasts toward the water so they would have something to push against.
This seems to make sense. But for 500 years we have known it's wrong, thanks to Isaac Newton's discovery of a principle of nature called Third Law of Motion. This describes the fact of nature that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You've experienced this if you have every fired a gun and felt a recoil. The bullet is the action and the push against your shoulder, actually the gun trying to go the opposite direction, is the reaction.
But it doesnt' have anything to do with guns. Exert a force in one direction and there's an opposite force in the other direction. In the case of the rocket, the gas exploding out the back is the action, like the bullet, and the movement of the rocket in the opposite direction is the reaction.
Its a good thing rockets don't need to push against somthin' because space is basically filled with nothin' and space exploration would be impossible. Then we'd have to recall all those satellites and spacecraft we've sent up for having succeeded under false pretenses.
In Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, a baby suckles an Englishman aboard a ship. Russian newspaper Pravda reported in 2002 on a 38-year-old man in Sri Lanka who nursed his two daughters through their infancy after his wife died during the birth of her second child.
Medical disruptions involving prolactin, the hormone necessary to produce milk, have resulted in spontaneous lactation in men. Thorazine can cause the overproduction of prolactin, and milk could follow. Lactation is listed as a possible side effect of the heart medication digoxin. A pituitary tumor can also induce milk production.
In a 1995 article for Discover titled "Father's Milk," Pulitzer Prize-winning author and one-time physiologist Jared Diamond notes that nipple stimulation can release prolactin and produce milk.
Males of many different mammalian species have the potential to lactate, although only one, the Dayak fruit bat of Southeast Asia, does it spontaneously.
Up until a certain point in fetal development, boys and girls are indistinguishable. In fact, women retain some remnants of the vas deferens (the canal that sperm follows), and some boys around the age of puberty do develop breasts, but they regress.
In short, men may not have full-fledged breasts, but they certainly can lactate under some circumstances.
The 300-mile-wide crater lies hidden more than a mile beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. And the gravity measurements that reveal its existence suggest that it could date back about 250 million years -- the time of the Permian Triassic Extinction.
This impact was much bigger than the impact that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That crater near Mexico is 6 miles wide, while the Antarctic meteor could have been up to 30 miles wide -- four or five times wider.
This event, that scientists call "The Great Dying" was much worse than the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. No class of life was spared from the devastation. Trees, plants, lizards, proto-mammals, insects, fish, mollusks, and microbes -- all were nearly wiped out. Roughly 9 in 10 marine species and 7 in 10 land species vanished. Life on our planet almost came to an end.
Hmmm, let's see. The two largest extinctions in Earth's history - almost killing off the human race before it had a chance to start - came from the sky. Does anybody else think we should try to develop a way to divert any other "Doomsday" meteors heading our way?
Collecting photons for that long period, the telescope's Advanced Camera For Surveys (ACS) was able to see back to within 5% of the beginning of time, the Big Bang. The youngest galaxies visible in the image (circled) emerged about 800 million years after the Big Bang. Over 10,000 galaxies appear in the Hubble image.
In order to take images of distant, faint objects, Hubble must be extremely steady and point very accurately. The telescope is able to lock onto a target without deviating more than 7/1000th of an arcsecond, or about the width of a human hair seen at a distance of 1 mile. That's the same as keeping a laser pointer steady on a dime that's 200 miles away.
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is called a "pencil beam" survey because the observations encompass a narrow piece of sky. It would take about 50 Ultra Deep Fields to cover an area the size of the Moon. For Hubble to observe the entire sky in the same way, it would take almost 1 million years of uninterrupted observing.
Hubble's keen vision, its resolution, is equivalent to reading the date on a quarter that's a mile away.
The ACS recently experienced an apparent electrical short and probably can't be fixed from the ground or even by the next Shuttle repair mission in September 2008.
To see the Hubble in your night sky go here, for a schedule.
Yes, it's dangerous to go to hospitals. About one in 20 patients experience a hospital-acquired infection each year. That translates into 2 million people – 90,000 of whom die each year.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the risk of getting infected in a hospital has jumped 36 percent in the last 20 years.
Experts say patients treated at major teaching centers are often more likely to pick up an infection because those centers treat a high population of patients who are sicker and weaker.
For instance, a 2001 study at 60 hospitals nationwide showed that a resistant strain of an intestinal bacteria known as VRE was found at 12.6 percent of the teaching hospitals, compared with 5.6 percent of nonteaching hospitals.Here are some tips from the CDC to avoid infection if you are hospitalized.
But in spite of the stem cell's promise of cures for hundreds of thousands of suffers, there exists a great deal of resistance to the work based entirely on unfounded religious grounds.
The controversy over the research stems from the techniques used in the creation and usage of stem cells. Some claim that undifferentiated individual pre-embryonic cells are maybe, perhaps, potential human beings—ignoring the plight those thousands of actual human beings who, without stems cell therapy, may become ex-human beings. Others worry the research will lead to reproductive cloning and eventual creation of human beings.
Happily, scientists at the biotechnology firm Advanced Cell Technology have developed a procedure by which a single cell can be lifted from an embryo of only eight cells—without destroying any nascent life—and used to create a new stem cell line.
Two-thirds of Americans advocate stem cell research, so perhaps this new technique will allow critics to calm down so those whose lives could be improved or saved by the development of stem cell-based therapies can finally receive the benefit. But given the irrational basis for the objections that's unlikely. President Bush, for example, stands opposed to using human embryos for any scientific research, period.
Still, this new technique emphasizes the amazing capabilities of those few cells that can become a life, and grants a second chance to someone who may not otherwise go on living. With luck, stems cells will someday be able to do both.
Many variables are involved in the relationship between diet and health, but research is beginning to show that it may be more important to increase the number and amount of healthy foods you eat than it is to reduce less healthy foods.
What's more, heart disease and cancer are significantly increased by viral and bacterial infections, job stress and even sleep loss. Most diet changes produce only small, inconsistent effects. And what may be harmful to one person can be eaten without worry by another.
So quit smoking, exercise, eat and drink whatever you want in moderation. And count your lucky stars if you're female.
But unlike the Mini, the Mars Science Laboratory will have six wheels and cameras mounted on a mast. And it will carry a laser to vaporize rock so it can analyze the composition of the material. (That might be handy in rush-hour traffic!)
It will also be able to collect and crush rock and soil samples and distribute them to on-board test chambers designed to identify organic compounds essential to life. It will also be able to identify gases that may be associated with biological activity.
With recent sign of running water on Mars, it's becoming more and more likely we'll find signs of life there if we look properly. This baby may be the one that finds clear signs of Martians.
Wouldn't a fossil be cool?
At the turn of the century (2000 that is) scientists at Duke University wired a monkey so its thoughts could control a robotic arm. More recently researchers at the University of Tübingen used brain waves to help paralyzed patients move a computer cursor. Now the folks at USC have developed a so-called "neural prosthesis" to mimic biological neurons.
The chip replaced a surgically removed section of a rat's brain and with 90% accuracy it converted incoming nerve signals into the correct output signals.
Maybe someday they'll have a chip that helps you selectively forget?
Ever since the days of Edwin Hubble (late '20s) we've known that most galaxies are moving away from us; and the farther away they are, the faster they're going. We also know now, contrary to previous ideas, the expansion is accelerating—there's no Big Crunch in our future.
But interestingly, as dark energy continues to push everything apart there are distant galaxies that are receding so fast that we'll lose sight of them forever. (No they aren't exceeding the speed of light, they're riding the expanding Universe. And no the Universe isn't expanding "into" anything in the same way there is nothing north of the North Pole.).
As the Universe expands galaxy clusters, galaxies, and eventually stars themselves will have a gravitational influence on pretty much nothing but themselves.
A Fox News poll revealed that 79% of Americans believe in angels. A more recent AP-AOL poll says it's more like 81%. They didn't inquire about fairies or invisible friends.
My grandson certainly has a lot of the characteristics ascribed to angels, especially the parts related to flying. But he's smart enough to go on-line, find the (unfortunately named) Heavens-Above website, find a schedule for the evening satellite traffic, and knows where the azimuth and elevation data tells him to look.
If I know his Dad, he's going to grow up among the ~20% with a firmer grip on reality.
So? Well, there's a theory going 'round that life on Earth actually originated on Mars, and it (they?) came to Earth on meteorites—rocks blasted off the surface of Mars. But opponents of the idea have always argued that the pressures involved in an impact big enough to blast stuff of the surface and into space would have killed any life they carried.
Dieter Stoffler at the Fraunhofer Institute for High Speed Dynamics in Friedburg, Germany put the idea to a test. And he found out that those little rascals, so successful here on Earth could have survived the ride.