Yale Students Capture Rare Footage of Asteroid

Two Yale University students used the WIYN 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory to capture a series of still images of asteroid 2002 NY40 on August 15-16, two nights before it made a close flyby of Earth. The still images were made into a cool digital movie that shows the asteroid streaking across the sky over a period of two hours. According to an AP story the students were supposed to looking at some binary stars when they decided to look at the asteroid instead.”

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Ear Hair Cause of Temporary Deafness

Minute bundles of hair cells in the inner ear are entirely replaced every 48 hours, US research shows. The finding could explain the average two-day duration of temporary hearing loss caused by exposure to loud music or drilling.

The team studied the sensory component of the ear hair cells of rats – tiny bundles of microscopic antennae, called stereocilia. They discovered that the stereocilia were being continually regenerated from tip to base, and were totally replaced within two days.

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World’s Largest Tropical Forest Park Created

Brazil has announced the establishment of the Tumucumaque National Park in the north of the country – the largest tropical forest park in the world.

The park covers a remote and mountainous area of the Amazon. At 39,000 square kilometres it is double the size of Wales, and marginally bigger than the current record holder – the Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.

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Eye Tracking Input Technology

New software could allow computer users with disabilities or busy hands to write nearly twice as fast, more accurately and more comfortably than before. The software could also speed up writing on palm-tops and typing in Japanese and Chinese, its developers say.

The package, called Dasher, “exploits our eyes’ natural ability to navigate and spot familiar patterns”, says one of its inventors, computer scientist David MacKay of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, UK.

An eye-tracking device lets users select letters from a screen. Dasher calculates the probability of one letter coming after another. It then presents the letters required as if contained on infinitely expanding bookshelves.

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Couple Cloning Baby Speaks Out: “God Really Wants Us to Do This”

The couple, who go by the names Bill and Kathy in public, have tried to have a baby since they married in 1993. They tried everything from fertility drugs to in-vitro fertilization with no success, so turned to Kentucky-based embryologist Panos Zavos to clone a child.

In a secret laboratory, doctors will soon take some of Kathy’s tissue and harvest DNA. They’ll insert the DNA into an egg from a younger donor and implant the result in a surrogate mother.

While some religious figures have condemned cloning — as well as abortion and embryonic stem cell treatments, two more procedures Bill and Kathy are comfortable with should there be a problem with the fetus — the possibly soon-to-be parents believe God is on their side.

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Atlas V’s Launch a Success

The next generation expendable heavy lifting rocket, the Atlas 5, lifted off today from Cape Canaveral Air Station. The American rocket, built by Lockheed Martin, sporting Russian RD-180 engines carried the Eutelsat Hotbird 6 telecommunications satellite into orbit. This next generation heavy lifter can out-lift any rocket built since the Saturn V ‘Moon rocket’, including the shuttle.” Spaceflightnow has extensive coverage.

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Caloric Restriction can Prevent Alzheimer’s

People genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s can reduce their risk of developing the disease by reducing their caloric intake.

So suggests a study published today in The Archives of Neurology.

For the study, “Caloric Intake and the Risk of Alzheimer Disease,” researchers examined 980 people over 65 who were involved in a long-term aging project. While none showed dementia symptoms at the beginning of the study, 242 developed Alzheimer’s after four years.

Among these, 68% had a gene, apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 allele, associated with Alzheimer’s that’s believed to facilitate plaque buildup in the brain.

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Space Elevator Conference

A common feature of science fiction, the space elevator is now getting serious attention from academics, research institutions and private companies seeking to profit from its creation.

The First International Space Elevator Conference, held in Seattle August 12 to 13, demonstrated just how far the concept has come. Experts in fields ranging from bridge-building to aerospace law attended, and some predicted that a space elevator will exist by the end of the next decade.

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Flipping Molecular Switch Creates More High-endurance Muscles

With a single molecular switch, scientists increased muscle endurance in mice a degree currently only achievable through high-intensity training.

In treated mice, easily fatigued “fast twitch” muscle fibers (Type II) became high-endurance “slow twitch” fibers (Type I).

The switch responsible is a gene called PGC-1, and the results of the study, published in the August 15 issue of the journal Nature, could spur the development of treatments that give weak patients muscular endurance.
More here.
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Gates Doesn’t Expect He’ll Live to See Artificial Intelligence

“Not in my lifetime,” Bill Gates said in an interview yesterday when asked when we’ll have artificial intelligence. “We don’t understand the basic operations of the brain enough. There’s a certain algorithmic breakthrough that’s not there.”

While some AI enthusiasts, such as inventor Ray Kurzweil, believe that we’ll have human-level processing power in $1,000 machines by 2020, Gates believes the brain is too complicated to be compared to the simple circuitry of computer chips.

“It’s not a numeric notion. You can’t say, give me another several factors of two and it will happen,” he said.

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