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April Lyrids meteor shower to reach peak in a matter of hours

© Kenneth Brandon - Dark Sky Chaser

The annual Lyrid meteor shower will reach its peak on Friday – here’s what you need to know.

The shower’s peak is expected to burst into the sky a few hours before dawn on Friday April 22nd. It usually lasts for less than 24 hours.

This year, spectators may struggle to see the shower through the bright glare of the full moon that happens to fall at virtually the same hour on April 2016.

Source and more info plus videos at  RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Scientists May Soon Be Unable To Speak Freely About Their Research

photo credit: As Canada moves forwards, the U.K. takes a step back. lakov Kalinin/Shutterstock

Science is, by its very nature, objective. It uses data, backed up by demonstrable, empirical evidence, to try and explain as much of life, the universe, and everything as possible. The facts are often willfully distorted by politicians, though, particularly when it comes to man-made climate change and, on occasion, vaccines.

Sometimes, however, the facts are completely suppressed by political agencies. This was most recently and publically demonstrated in Canada under the Harper administration, when researchers funded by the state were banned from talking freely to the media. Even when they could speak out, their responses were highly moderated and censored by the government. Now, a similar thing may be about to happen in the U.K.

As reported by the Guardian, many British scientists will soon be legally blocked from speaking out on key issues affecting the nation, from genetic modification and stem cell research to dietary dangers and, yes, climate change. In a depressing state of affairs, the British government is about to adopt the very same Canadian-style gagging system just as the newly-installed Trudeau government there has repealed it.

“This is extremely worrying,” William Sutherland, a professor of zoology at the University of Cambridge, told the Guardian. “If they go ahead with this new anti-lobbying clause, then we will have many more poor decisions being made by government for the simple reason that it will have starved itself of proper scientific advice.”

Fracking researchers, if government-funded, may not be allowed to effectively speak out on any negative effects they may uncover. Calin Tatu/Shutterstock

As of May, researchers that received grants from the government – which covers a broad range of topics, and a vast number of academic institutions – will not be allowed to use the results of their research to lobby politicians for change. The aim of the edict, proposed by the Cabinet Office, is to stop non-governmental organizations trying to affect legislative change. Senior scientists and research groups see this, quite rightly, as a straightforward assault on academic freedom.

The now-scrapped Canadian system was primarily aimed at federally funded scientists working in fossil fuel extraction industries. It’s clear that not only are fossil fuels dooming the planet through dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, but their extraction is contributing tonnes of toxins to worsening air pollution. Fracking, a relatively new form of natural gas extraction, is proving particularly controversial.

Of course, stopping scientists talking about the negative effects of these industries will exacerbate climate change, while improving the short-term economic prospects of those industries. At the time, the Canadian government was keen to ignore the former and focus on the latter. With fracking on the increase in the U.K. thanks to its government support, this new gagging order will no doubt have the same effect.

Although the Cabinet Office said that it might consider waivers for certain researchers, allowing them to speak out on certain issues, nothing has come of it so far. Fiona Fox, head of the Science Media Centre, said that if passed, this clause will “be a victory for ignorance and a blow for the evidence-based policy that our politicians claim to want.”

Science is, at heart, a search for truth – it cannot, by nature, be gagged and still operate properly. If you are worried by this, get in touch with the government or sign this petition.

Source: IFLScience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories Can Be Inherited, and Scientists May Have Just Figured out How

IN BRIEF

Our life experiences may be passed on to our children and our children’s children – and now scientists report that they have discovered that this inheritance can be turned on or off.

WHAT IS EPIGENETICS?

Epigenetics is the study of inherited changes in gene expression…changes that are inherited, but they are not inherent to our DNA. For instance, life experiences, which aren’t directly coded in human DNA, can actually be passed on to children. Studies have shown that survivors of traumatic events may have effects in subsequent generations.

The question, of course, is how are these genetic “memories” passed on?

This is the question that a Tel Aviv University (TAU) was seeking to answer when they reportedly discovered the exact mechanism that makes it possible to turn the transference of environmental influences on or off.

Their research was recently published in the journal Cell, and was led by Dr. Oded Rechavi along with a team of faculty members from TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience.

UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANISM

Image Credit: Leah Houri-Ze’evi et al./Cell

According to their study, epigenetic responses that are inherited follow an active process as it gets passed on through generations.

“We previously showed that worms inherited small RNAs following the starvation and viral infections of their parents. These small RNAs helped prepare their offspring for similar hardships,” Dr. Rechavi said. He goes on the explain the research, noting “We also identified a mechanism that amplified heritable small RNAs across generations, so the response was not diluted. We found that enzymes called RdRPs are required for re-creating new small RNAs to keep the response going in subsequent generations.”

From there, scientists were able to determine that specific genes, which they dubbed Modified Transgenerational Epigenetic Kinetics (MOTEK) are also involved in turning epigenetic transmission on and off. Switching on/off are based on the feedback interaction between RNAs (which are inherited) and the MOTEK genes that are necessary to producing and transmitting the RNA through each generation.

The current study was conducted on worms, but understanding the principles behind the process of passing on epigenetic information will ultimately lend itself to a more comprehensive theory of heredity, especially for humans.

How Mind-Controlling Parasites Can Get Inside Your Head

April 2, 2016 | by Alex Ford

photo credit: Shutterstock

Imagine that pesky tabby cat has been pooing in your backyard again. Unbeknown to you, it has transferred some of the parasite spores it was carrying onto your herb garden. Unintentionally, while preparing a tasty salad, you forget to wash your hands and infect yourself with the Toxoplasma gondii spores. For months you display no symptoms, then after six months you are driving your car more aggressively, taking chances in road junctions and generally filled with more road rage as you angrily gesticulate with fellow drivers. Could all this be linked to that tasty salad?

T. gondii is a fascinating protozoan parasite which, like many similar organisms, needs to move between several different host species in order to fully develop and reproduce. As such, it appears to have evolved clever methods to make transmission between hosts more likely. For example, studies have found that once rats – intermediate hosts – are infected they display less caution towards cats – the final stage hosts – and so the parasite is more likely to be passed on.

An increasing number of studies suggest humans known to be infected with these parasites could be more susceptible to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, aggression and evenincreased suicide. Studies have even suggested you are two to three times more likely tohave a car crash if your blood tests positive for the parasite. This is particularly striking when it has been predicted that 30%-50% of the worldwide population may carry the parasite.

Not so cute when you know what they’re carrying. Shutterstock

Chicken or egg?

Very often criticisms of these studies come down to a chicken and egg question. Correlation doesn’t necessary mean causality. Are those aggressive, fast-driving people or those with behavioural conditions more likely to catch the parasites, or does the parasite cause these behavioural traits? Many of the studies were done retrospectively rather than looking at someone’s behaviour before and after they became infected with the parasites. So for now, we can’t say for sure whether your road rage really was linked to your salad.

What we do know is that there are plenty of examples in wildlife where parasites can manipulate the sex, growth, maturation, habitat and behaviour of their hosts. Hair worms, for instance, complete their lifecycle in a river or stream and appear to make their hosts – crickets – attracted to water.

full story at IFLScience

 

 

 

 

Study suggests the impact of global warming will be quicker and more catastrophic than envisioned, writes Chris Mooney.

If the scientists' study is right, sights like that in Lake Argentina, where chunks of ice broke off the Perito Moreno Glacier this month, could become more common. Photo / AP

Climate scientists’ global warning

By Chris Mooney

Study suggests the impact of global warming will be quicker and more catastrophic than envisioned, writes Chris Mooney.
If the scientists' study is right, sights like that in Lake Argentina, where chunks of ice broke off the Perito Moreno Glacier this month, could become more common. Photo / AP
If the scientists’ study is right, sights like that in Lake Argentina, where chunks of ice broke off the Perito Moreno Glacier this month, could become more common. Photo / AP

An influential group of scientists led by James Hansen, the former Nasa scientist often credited with having drawn the first major attention to climate change in 1988 congressional testimony, has published a dire climate study that suggests the impact of global warming will be quicker and more catastrophic than generally envisioned.

The research invokes collapsing ice sheets, violent megastorms and even the hurling of boulders by giant waves in its quest to suggest that even 2C of global warming above pre-industrial levels would be far too much. Hansen has called it the most important work he has ever done.

The sweeping paper, 52 pages in length and with 19 authors, draws on evidence from ancient climate change or “paleo-climatology”, as well as climate experiments using computer models and some modern observations. Calling it a “paper” really isn’t quite right – it’s actually a synthesis of a wide range of old and new evidence.

“I think almost everybody who’s really familiar with both paleo and modern is now very concerned that we are approaching, if we have not passed, the points at which we have locked in really big changes for young people and future generations,” Hansen said.

The research, appearing on Wednesday in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, has had a long and controversial path to life, having first appeared as a “discussion paper” in the same journal, subject to live, online peer review – a novel but increasingly influential form of scientific publishing. Hansen first told the press about the research last year, before this process was completed, leading to criticism from some journalists and also fellow scientists that he might be jumping the gun.

What ensued was a high-profile debate, both because of the dramatic claims and Hansen’s formidable reputation. And his numerous co-authors, including Greenland and Antarctic ice experts and a leader of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, were nothing to be sniffed at.

After record downloads for the study and an intense public review process, a revised version of the paper has now been accepted, according to both Hansen and Barbara Ferreira, media and communications manager for the European Geophysical Union, which publishes Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Indeed, the article is now freely readable on the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics website.

full story at nzherald.co.nz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl Who Says She Is Tracked is Called Crazy Until Her Doctor Sees THESE X-Rays

Girl Who Says She Is Tracked is Called Crazy Until Doctor Found THIS Inside of Her

 A doctor, who for safety concerns is going by the pseudonym “Dr. A,” spoke to NPR to reveal a horrific story of human tracking and the horrible crime of sex trafficking that takes place in the United States every day.

Dr. A said one day a woman came in complaining about being tracked. She was initially written off, since in his hospital wing mentally unfit patients are a dime a dozen, but they decided to give her an x-ray at the spot she said the “tracker” was located anyways. What they found left them speechless:

picb

“Embedded in the right side of her flank is a small metallic object only a little bit larger than a grain of rice,” Dr. A said. “But it’s there. It’s unequivocally there. She has a tracker in her. And no one was speaking for like five seconds — and in a busy ER, that’s saying something.”

It turned out the girl was being prostituted by her boyfriend who had implanted the device to keep track of her in case she ever ran away or disappeared.

These devices are becoming more common in sex trafficking, especially in the US where the money is far better.

News Foxes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Koreans Kick Off Efforts to Clone Extinct Siberian Cave Lions

By: The Siberian Times reporter

Samples taken from cubs frozen in permafrost for at least 12,000 years.

Two infant prehistoric big cats – dating from Pleistocene times – were found in a ‘sensational’ discovery last year, as disclosed by The Siberian Times . The cubs were dug from their icy grave ‘complete with all their body parts: fur, ears, soft tissue and even whiskers’, said Dr. Albert Protopopov, head of the mammoth fauna studies department of the Yakutian Academy of Sciences.

Now cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk, a South Korean scientist who is already pioneering research work to bring the extinct woolly mammoth back to life, is in Yakutsk to obtain samples of one of the cave lion cubs. These laboratory pictures show skin and muscle tissue being extracted from the ancient creature “Dina’s” remains.

These laboratory pictures show skin and muscle tissue being extracted from the ancient creature Dina's remains.

These laboratory pictures show skin and muscle tissue being extracted from the ancient creature Dina's remains.

These laboratory pictures show skin and muscle tissue being extracted from the ancient creature Dina's remains.

These laboratory pictures show skin and muscle tissue being extracted from the ancient creature Dina’s remains. Pictures: Galina Mozolevskaya/YSIA

Dr. Protopopov said: ‘Together with the Mammoth Museum, we took samples for cell research.’ The museum’s experts will study these for the presence of living cells suitable for cloning.

Hwang came to Yakutsk – capital of the Sakha Republic – specifically for this purpose. But there was dispute between the Siberian and Korean scientists over the size of the sample.

The Korean professor wanted a large section, such as part of the skull or a leg but this was opposed by the local experts who are anyway withholding one of the cubs from any research – the better preserved of the pair, called Uyan – confident that more advanced techniques in future years will ensure more is gleaned from it than if research is done now.

read the full story at:Ancient Origins

 

 

Zoom to Mars in 6 weeks with new Russian nuclear-fission engine

© Sputnik

A nuclear power propulsion system could propel a spacecraft to Mars in just over a month, a huge step forward from the current 18 months required. Russia might test a nuclear engine as early as 2018, the head of the Rosatom nuclear corporation revealed.

Another advantage of a nuclear engine is that it enables a spacecraft to maneuver throughout the flight, whereas existing technology only makes a defined trajectory flight possible.

A nuclear power unit makes it possible to reach Mars in a matter of one to one and a half months, providing capability for maneuvering and acceleration,” the head of Rosatom Sergey Kirienko said. “Today’s engines can only reach Mars in a year and a half, without the possibility of return,” Kirienko said.

The nuclear engine project was launched in 2010 and by 2012 an engineering design had been created. The project’s budget is estimated at 20 billion rubles (about $US274 million).

It has been reported that a prototype nuclear drive could start testing by 2018. Traditional rocket engines are believed to have reached the limit of their potential and can’t be used for deep space exploration.

An operable module with a nuclear drive would facilitate space exploration both for close-range expeditions to the Moon and deep-space autonomous robotic missions to the outskirts of the Solar system.

The Topaz-1 space reactor. © A. Solomonov

Using nuclear energy in space was a big deal in the Soviet Union, which launched a nuclear engine project in 1960 and fulfilled it by 1980. An operable engine was tested at the Semipalatinsk nuclear military range.

Between 1970 and 1988, the USSR launched 32 spacecraft equipped with thermoelectric nuclear power plants.

 source  RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When technology makes it possible, our brains will be ready to be teleported across space – study

© Chris Helgren

Teleportation may stay in the realm of science fiction for the foreseeable future, but scientists say that our brains already react favorably to instantaneously being transported across space.

In a study published in the journal Neuron on Thursday, neuroscientists from the University of California, Davis studied how the brain would react if it were to be “beamed up” from one place to another using a virtual simulation.

When volunteers entered a virtual teleportation device ‒ similar to the ones made famous in the Star Trek franchise ‒ researchers found that that their brains gave off certain “rhythmic oscillations” of electric signals like the ones that a rat brain creates when the animal navigates a maze.

Arne Ekstrom, associate professor at the UC Davis’ Centre for Neuroscience, conducted the study to learn more about how people memorizes routes and learn to find our way around.

“There is this rhythmic firing in the brain during navigation and while remembering things, but we don’t know if it is triggered by sensory input or by the learning process,” Ekstrom said in a statement.

full story RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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