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October 17, 2006, 10:07 PM CT

Ecosystem Of Vanishing Lake

Ecosystem Of Vanishing Lake Montana State University chemical engineering professor Brent Peyton
In the salt flats near a slowly vanishing lake, a team of researchers have found never-before-seen bacterium that could clean up some of humanity's pollution.

In three scientific papers currently being written, Brent Peyton, a Montana State University chemical engineering professor, his students, and collaborators are describing the unique qualities of Halomonas campisalis, a bacterium Peyton discovered in 1995 near Soap Lake, Wash.

At the time of discovery, Peyton worked for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash., one of nine U.S. Department of Energy labs. The laboratory wanted to develop a treatment to remove nitrate contaminants from alkaline and saline radioactive wastewater. Such a treatment could also be used to clean-up wastewater from fertilizer and explosive manufacturing plants, which is 10 to 15-times saltier than the ocean and laden with polluting nitrates.

Peyton hoped the salty ecosystem of Soap Lake might be home to a bacterium that could live in such high-salt waters and also find nitrates appetizing.

Soap Lake is one of only 11 known meromictic lakes in the United States. The water in meromictic lakes separates into layers of differing mineral concentrations. The upper layer of Soap Lake is a little less than half the saltiness of the ocean, but more than 100-times saltier than river water. The bottom layer is more than twice as salty as the ocean and more than 700-times saltier than river water. These two layers are thought to have remained unmixed in any significant way for the past 2,000 to 10,000 years. The conditions of Soap Lake are considered so extraordinary the National Science Foundation designated it a "microbial observatory".........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source

October 17, 2006, 10:01 PM CT

First New Mammal Found In Europe In 100 Years

First New Mammal Found In Europe In 100 Years
Meet the Cypriot mouse-the first new mammal species to be discovered in Europe in more than a century.

The scientists who announced the find yesterday think the previously unknown creature is confined to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus (map of Cyprus).

The mouse differs from other European mice by having a bigger head, bigger ears, bigger eyes, and bigger teeth, says its discoverer, French zoologist Thomas Cucchi.

Cucchi, who is based at Durham University in England, noticed the small gray rodent while studying mice teeth from the Stone Age and comparing them with those of species still living on Cyprus. Genetic tests later confirmed it as a new species, now named Mus cypriacus.........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source

October 16, 2006, 9:30 PM CT

New Details of Mars, Young and Old

New Details of Mars, Young and Old Diverse materials and morphologies in the region south of Mawrth Vallis on Mars
During its first week of observations from low orbit, NASA's newest Mars spacecraft is already revealing new clues about both recent and ancient environments on the red planet.

Scientists hope the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will answer questions about the history and distribution of Mars' water by combining data from the orbiter's high-resolution camera, imaging spectrometer, context camera, ground-penetrating radar, atmospheric sounder, global color camera, radio and accelerometers.

Between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6, science instruments on the spacecraft viewed dozens of sites that reflect different episodes in Mars' history. The diverse sites provide a good test for the capabilities of the spacecraft instruments. The orbiter will begin its primary science mission phase in early November when Mars re-emerges from passing nearly behind the sun.

The instruments are seeing details in the shapes and icy composition of geologically young layering near the Martian north pole. Other views offer details of a mid-latitude valley whose upper layers have been eroded away, revealing an underlying clay layer that formed a few billion years ago, when wet conditions produced the clay. Observations of a southern-hemisphere crater show fine-scale details of more recent gullies, adding evidence that they were carved by flowing water.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 15, 2006, 8:55 PM CT

Software To Calculate Heart Attack Risk

Software To Calculate Heart Attack Risk
Pioneering computer software is helping doctors to decide how best to treat patients admitted to hospital with suspected heart attacks.

An international consortium of researchers, led by the University of Edinburgh, has developed a programme that enables doctors to swiftly assess the severity of a patient's condition. The new 'risk calculator' is already being used in British hospitals.

Doctors using the new system take key data from patients at their bedside, and input it into the specially-devised programme. Key facts - such as a patient's age, medical history and blood pressure - are recorded by doctors, as well as information derived from on-the-spot blood samples and kidney tests.

The new patient's statistical profile is then input into a computer and matched with data derived from thousands of other coronary cases. Using the outcomes of these prior cases as a guide, the computer will not only give an accurate assessment of the new patient's conditions, but also recommend possible therapy. Significantly, it will be able to predict the likelihood the patient suffering a heart attack, and even their chances of dying in the next months.

Chest pain accounts for more than a quarter of all emergency medical admissions in the United Kingdom. Spotting high risk heart patients quickly can be difficult, but Professor Keith Fox, of the University of Edinburgh, says the new tool will help: "Identifying those with threatened heart attack from the very a number of patients with chest pain is a real clinical challenge, but critically important in guiding emergency and subsequent patient care. Higher risk patients need more intensive medical and interventional therapy".........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

October 15, 2006, 8:41 PM CT

Complex Meteorology At Venus

Complex Meteorology At Venus

In its relentless probing of Venus's atmosphere, ESA's Venus Express keeps revealing new details of the Venusian cloud system. Meteorology at Venus is a complex matter, researchers say.

New night-side infrared images gathered by the Ultraviolet, Visible and Near-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIRTIS) in July 2006, clearly show new details of a complex cloud system.

The first (false colour) view - the composite of three infrared images acquired by VIRTIS, was taken on 22 July when the spacecraft was flying around the apocentre of its orbit (point of maximum distance from the planet surface) at about 65 000 kilometres altitude. Venus was in the night side.

Using its capability to observe at 1.7-micrometre wavelenght, VIRTIS could probe at about 15-20 kilometres altitude, below the thick cloud deck situated at about 60 kilometres from the surface. The thermal radiation coming from the oven-hot surface of Venus is represented by the intensity of the colours: the brighter the colour (towards white), the more radiation comes from the surface, so the less cloudy the region in the line of sight between the view and the spacecraft is.

The edge of the images, taken at a time interval of about 30 minutes from each other, do not precisely match. This is due to the fact that clouds on Venus move very rapidly and constantly vary their shape. Venus's atmosphere is certainly the most dynamic among the terrestrial planets that have one, taking only four days to completely rotate around the planet.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

October 15, 2006, 8:19 PM CT

Internet Users May Be Taking Phishing Bait

Internet Users May Be Taking Phishing Bait
A higher-than-expected percentage of Internet users are likely to fall victim to scam artists masquerading as trusted service providers, report researchers at the Indiana University School of Informatics.

"Designing Ethical Phishing Experiments: A study of (ROT13) rOnl query features," published online, simulated phishing tactics used to elicit online information from eBay customers. The online auction giant was selected because of its popularity among millions of users-and because it is one of the most popular targets of phishing scams.

The study, one of the first of its kind, reveals that phishers may be netting responses from as much as 14 percent of the targeted populations per attack, as opposed to 3 percent per year.

Phishers send e-mail to Internet users, spoofing legitimate and well-known enterprises such as eBay, financial institutions and even government agencies in an attempt to dupe people into surrendering private information. Users are asked to click on a link where they are taken to a site appearing to be legitimate. Once there, they are asked to correct or update personal information such as bank, credit card and Social Security accounts numbers.

Surveys by the Gartner Group report that about 3 percent of adult Americans are successfully targeted by phishing attacks each year, an amount that might be conservative given that many are reluctant to report they have been victimized, or may even be unaware of it. Other surveys may result in overestimates of the risks because of misunderstanding of what constitutes identity theft.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

October 12, 2006, 9:59 PM CT

Closer To Holy Grail Of Modern Chemistry

Closer To Holy Grail Of Modern Chemistry
University of Chicago chemist David Mazziotti has developed a new method for determining the behavior of electrons in atoms and molecules, a key ingredient in predicting chemical properties and reactions. He presented the details of his method in the Oct. 6 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

"In his new paper, David Mazziotti has made a major advance in fundamental theory," said Nobel laureate Dudley Herschbach, the Frank Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University. "It will surely find wide application".

The behavior of electrons in atoms and molecules affects many significant chemical reactions that govern everyday phenomena, including the fuel efficiency of combustion engines, the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere, and the design of new medicines. The importance of electrons in these and countless other chemical phenomena have led scientists since the 1950s to seek an efficient way to determine the distribution of electrons in atoms and molecules.

There can be hundreds or even thousands of electrons moving around the nuclei of a molecule--far too many for their distribution in the molecule to be determined exactly even with modern supercomputers. But during the 1950s, scientists realized that they could, in principle, use only a pair of electrons to represent any number of electrons accurately.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

October 12, 2006, 9:37 PM CT

Solio Universal Hybrid Charger

Solio Universal Hybrid Charger
Solio, the Universal "Hybrid" Charger , can charge all of your handheld electronic products, even if you've been relocated to Antarctica. It works by absorbing power from the sun and storing the energy within the Solio's own internal battery (charging Solio's internal battery takes 8-10 hours of direct sunlight). If your igloo comes with a wall socket, you can also plug it in to charge it.

Not only can it charge your cell phone, but also your PDA, digital camera, and game player.

(It includes seven tips and cables, so it's compatibile with most devices.) To give you an idea, one hour of sun will give you enough juice to play your iPod for about an hour. When fully charged it can charge your cell phone twice over.

At the Clinton Global Initiative (which brings together a community of global leaders to 'devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges') soiree in NY, they gave Solio as one of the gifts for its 1,500 participating members. Movers and shakers such as Richard Branson, Tony Blair, The King of Jordan, Bill Gates, George Bush and many more received their own energy sources.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source

October 12, 2006, 9:07 PM CT

Health of Florida's Coral Reef

Health of Florida's Coral Reef

NASA satellite data was used to help monitor the health of Florida's coral reef as part of a field research effort completed this August and September.

The project was the first comprehensive assessment of the resiliency of reefs along the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary is administered by NOAA in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Sanctuary stretches from the Dry Tortugas to the southern boundary of Biscayne National Park. The area north of there has reefs and is part of the Florida Reef Resilience Program, but lies outside the sanctuary. Researchers are trying to determine why some reefs are resilient to environmental changes and impacts. The work may also identify ways to care for reefs worldwide.

At nearly 175 sites, scuba divers recorded the number and species of coral and the extent of bleaching -- corals turn white when tiny algae that live inside them die. Bleaching is a symptom of coral stress, which can be caused by high water temperatures, other environmental stresses, or disease. The project was part of the Florida Reef Resiliency Program, funded by the state of Florida and The Nature Conservancy. It involved volunteers and scientists from several agencies, organizations and universities, including the University of South Florida.........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source

October 12, 2006, 8:16 PM CT

Closer to the Edge of a Black Hole

Closer to the Edge of a Black Hole
NASA scientists and their international partners using the new Japanese Suzaku satellite have collected a startling new set of black hole observations, revealing details of twisted space and warped time never before seen with such precision.

The observations include clocking the speed of a black hole's spin rate and measuring the angle at which matter pours into the void, as well as evidence for a wall of X-ray light pulled back and flattened by gravity.

The findings rely on a special feature in the light emitted close to the black hole, called the "broad iron K line," once doubted by some scientists because of poor resolution in earlier observations, now unambiguously revealed as a true measure of a black hole's crushing gravitational force. This technique can be exploited in future X-ray missions.

"Across the board, we are finding the broad iron K line to be an incredibly robust measure of black hole properties," said Andrew Fabian of Cambridge University, England, who led one of the teams. "We are entering the era of precision black hole measurements".

Fabian is the team leader on Suzaku's black hole spin and light-bending observations. James Reeves of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, led a second team that observed the first accurate measurement of the angle of a disk of material swirling around a black hole.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source

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