A wild idea to combat global warming suggests creating an artificial ring of small particles or spacecrafts around Earth to shade the tropics and moderate climate extremes. There would be side effects, proponents admit. An effective sunlight-scattering particle ring would illuminate our night sky as much as the full Moon, for example. And the price tag would knock the socks off even a big-budget agency like NASA.
Microtubules are active protein polymers critical to the structure and function of cells and the process of cell division. In a living cell their growing ends constantly elongate and retreat in a thrashing frenzy of polymerization and depolymerization, like the writhing snakes of Medusa's hair. Known prosaically as "dynamic instability," this ongoing rapid growth and shrinkage is key to the diverse workings of microtubules in the cell.
By the time you finish reading this sentence, you'll be 25 miles closer to the planet Mars. Earth is racing toward Mars at a speed of 23,500 mph, which means the red planet is getting bigger and brighter by the minute. In October, when the two planets are closest together, Mars will outshine everything in the night sky except Venus and the Moon. (You're another 50 miles closer: keep reading!)
Using high-tech engineering principles, an MIT/Harvard team has developed a low-tech solution to the problem of how to build homes in tsunami-prone areas. The team recently produced an architectural model for a Sri Lankan house that essentially would allow a powerful ocean wave to go through the house, instead of knocking it flat.
A new Doppler radar instrument that can scan tornadoes every five to 10 seconds is prowling the Great Plains this spring in search of its first close-up twister. Newly enhanced for season-long thunderstorm tracking, the radar promises the most complete picture to date of tornado evolution, allowing for better tornado prediction in the future.
If the song "It's a Small World" has ever driven you bananas, then you've got an idea where this story is going. We've all had tunes stuck in our heads. Some of them remind us of childhood friends, places or events. A new study backs the obvious notion that a song can evoke strong memories. It also reveals that you don't even have to hear a song for the past to come flooding back. In fact, most people have an amazing ability to effectively hear songs that aren't even being played.
Finally researchers have come up with a reason other than pure laziness for why teenagers can't shower and brush their teeth or unload the dishwasher and wipe down the counter. Blame it on "cognitive limitations." Their brains can't multitask as well as those of the taskmasters. Trust, however, that they'll grow out of it. The part of the brain responsible for multitasking continues to develop until late adolescence, with cells making connections even after some children are old enough to drive, according to a new study.
CLIMATE change researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream - the mighty ocean current that keeps Britain and Europe from freezing. They have found that one of the "engines" driving the Gulf Stream - the sinking of supercooled water in the Greenland Sea - has weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength.
Current computers consist of metal, plastic, wires and transistors. In the latest generation of computers, biological molecules replace all the components. One advantage of these biomolecular computers over current computers is their ability to simultaneously carry out an enormous number of complex operations. A new version of a biomolecular computer – composed entirely of DNA molecules and enzymes – can perform as many as a billion different programs simultaneously.
Taking a new approach to the painstaking assembly of nanometer-sized machines, a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has successfully used single bacterial cells to make tiny bio-electronic circuits. The work is important because it has the potential to make building the atomic-scale machines of the nanotechnologist far easier. It also may be the basis for a new class of biological sensors capable of near-instantaneous detection of dangerous biological agents such as anthrax.
Europe’s Mars Express spacecraft is casting new light on the past and present status of the red planet, wowing scientists with an impressive set of distinctive observations. Europe’s first and on-going mission to Mars has spotted signs of very recent volcanic activity along with the vestiges of glaciers and gigantic waterfalls. Given these and other findings from the Mars orbiting spacecraft, it is not unreasonable to suggest that life on Mars not only emerged but could have survived to the present in underground niches.
It looks like an empty patch of space, but astronomers say it holds
a galaxy that contains no stars. If Robert Minchin of Cardiff University
in Wales and his colleagues are right, they have found the first member
of a population of galaxies that theorists have proposed but observers
had never seen.
A fossil of a diminutive
human nicknamed "the Hobbit" likely
represents a previously unrecognized species of early humans, according
to the results of a detailed comparison of the fossil's brain case
with those of humans, apes and other human ancestors. Australian and
Indonesian archaeologists began to unearth the Hobbit in 2003 in a
cave on the Indonesian island of Flores.