Building Blocks

May 7, 2015 // 0 Comments

By The Daily Galaxy DNA is synonymous with life, but where did it originate? One way to answer this question is to try to recreate the conditions that formed DNA’s molecular precursors. These precursors are carbon ring structures with embedded nitrogen atoms, key components of nucleobases, which themselves are building blocks of the double helix. Now, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) and the University of Hawaii atManoa have shown for the first time that cosmic hot spots, such as those near stars, could be excellent environments for the creation of these nitrogen-containing molecular rings.In a new paper in the Astrophysical Journal, the team describes the experiment in which they recreate conditions around carbon-rich, dying stars to find formation pathways of the important molecules. “This is the first time anyone’s looked at a hot reaction like this,” says Musahid Ahmed, scientist in the Chemical Sciences [...]

Cosmic Threat

May 4, 2015 // 0 Comments

By the Daily Galaxy What happens to an astronaut’s brain during a mission to Mars? Nothing good. It’s besieged by destructive particles that can forever impair cognition, according to a UC Irvine radiation oncology study. Charles Limoli and colleagues found that exposure to highly energetic charged particles – much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights – cause significant damage to the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairments. “This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on atwo- to three-year round trip to Mars,” saidLimoli, a professor of radiation oncology in UCI’s School of Medicine. “Performance decrements, memory deficits, and loss of awareness and focus during spaceflight may affect mission-critical activities, and exposure to these particles may have long-term adverse consequences to cognition throughout life.”For the study, rodents were [...]

Dinosaur Killer

May 3, 2015 // 0 Comments

By the Daily Galaxy The asteroid that slammed into the ocean off Mexico 66 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs probably rang the Earth like a bell, triggering volcanic eruptions around the globe that may have contributed to the devastation, according to a team of University of California, Berkeley, geophysicists. Specifically, the researchers argue that the impact likely triggered most of the immense eruptions of lava in India known as the Deccan Traps, explaining the “uncomfortably close” coincidence between the Deccan Traps eruptions and the impact, which has always cast doubt on the theory that the asteroid was the sole cause of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.”If you try to explain why the largest impact we know of in the last billion years happened within 100,000 years of these massive lava flows at Deccan … the chances of that occurring at random are minuscule,” said team leader Mark Richards, UC Berkeley professor of earth and [...]

Photon Collisons

May 1, 2015 // 0 Comments

By The Daily Galaxy No significant signs of new physics with the present data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, but it takes only 1 significant deviation in the data to change everything. First collisions of protons at the world’s largest science experiment are expected to start the first or second week of June, according to a senior research scientist with CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. “It will be about another six weeks to commission the machine, and many things can still happen on the way,” said physicist Albert DeRoeck, a staff member at CERN and a professor at the University of Antwerp, Belgium and UC Davis, California. DeRoeck is a leading scientist on CMS, one of the Large Hadron Collider’s key experiments.The LHC in early April was restarted for its second three-year run after a two-year pause to upgrade the machine to operate at higher energies. At higher energy, physicists worldwide expect to see new discoveries about the laws [...]

Calorie Miscounts

April 30, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Philip J. Hilts Photo A close view of a calorimeter, the key to the calorie-measuring system created in the late 1800s.Credit Science Museum/Getty Images The method most commonly used to assess the number of calories in foods is flawed, overestimating the energy provided to the body by proteins, nuts and foods high in fiber by as much as 25 percent, some nutrition experts say. “The amount of calories a person gets from protein and fiber are overstated,” said Geoffrey Livesey, the head of Independent Nutrition Logic, a nutrition consulting company in Britain, and a nutrition consultant to the United Nations. “This is especially misleading for those on a high-protein, high-fiber diet, or for diabetics” who must limit their intake of carbohydrates. Well Quiz The New Logic of Calorie-Counting Can you determine which of these foods provide fewer calories than originally counted? An adult aiming to take in 2,000 calories a day on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet may actually [...]

Source Found

April 29, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Becky Oskin Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are the most arid places on Earth, but underneath their icy soils lies a vast and ancient network of salty, liquid water filled with life, a new study finds. The Dry Valleys are almost entirely ice-free, except for a few isolated glaciers. The only surface water is a handful of small lakes. Inside the canyons, the climate is extremely dry, cold and windy; researchers have stumbled upon mummified seals in these gorges that are thousands of years old. Yet there is life in this extreme landscape. For instance, bacteria living under Taylor Glacier stain its snout a deep blood red. The rust-colored brine, called Blood Falls, pours into Lake Bonney in the southernmost of the three largest Dry Valleys. The dramatic colors offer shocking relief to senses overwhelmed by the glaring white ice and dull brown rocks. Now, for the first time, scientists have traced the water underneath Taylor Glacier to learn more about the mysterious Blood Falls. In [...]