A recent article on CBC reveals a shocking discovery that could change the world that we know today. Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois found a new particle that is different from the ones that we are familiar with. This new particle was discovered through the help of the Tevatron particle accelerator. The accelerator data showed an unusually high peak, which after analysis, was determined to be a new particle.
The collision detector found at Fermilab
Particle accelerators try to discover or uncover particles by accelerating them in a chamber. The particles are accelerated near the speed of light, and through these high-speed collisions, scientists hope to gain data that might reveal new particles. The unusual high peak from the accelerator’s data led to the creation of a new particle, called the W boson, and two cones of particles, called hadronic jets.
The new particle created ripples in the scientific community due to the fact that they do not conform to the structure predicted by the Standard Model. Physicists are boggled by this, and this new particle could in fact lead to more research. However, the scientists at Fermilab are cautious with their findings. They are still waiting for results from Large Hadron Collider and see if the scientists there could reproduce the peak using identical parameters. Also, they are trying to eliminate the fact that this peak could have been achieved by accident – that this wasn’t a ‘fluke.’
If the same results are achieved, the world as we know it might be a little bit more different.
When someone brings up the idea that life as we know it originated from space, it is easy to think they are crazy. However, instead of thinking of lanky-green aliens, would this idea seem so far fetched if they were talking about micro-organisms? There is a hypothesis called panspermia which hypothesizes that life originated elsewhere in space and migrated to Earth. This alien life would have arrived from another planet on a meteorite.
Comet Hale-Bopp courtesy kevindooley Flickr
There are three important stages a micro-organism would have to survive for a succussful journey. Must first survive take off, then space travel and finally survive the impact upon landing. There have been studies to evaluate the likelihood of surviving any of these phases.
Gerda Horneck from the German Aerospace Center stated in a paper which evaluated spore survival during space travel that, “There are certain areas at the rim of the impact crater, called the spallation zone, where by reflection of the shock wave the temperatures do not exceed 100 degrees Celsius.” This means that it’s cool enough for some spores to survive ejection from a planet.
Rocco Mancinelli of the SETI Institute with his colleagues have published a review on bacteria surviving space journey. Their study supports that microbes could survive a trip through space. Micro-organisms hitching a ride on a meteorite can get protection from the dangerous UV radiation if they are below the surface.
A study published in 2001 explored the likelihood of bacterial spores surviving the landing impact. This study found that spores could survive impact scenarios that are similar to those that meteorites experience.
Micro-organism arriving from Mars seems the most likely since it is a relatively short journey. First it must be proven that there is or was life on Mars, a group of researchers from MIT are hoping to test Mars’ surface for microbes. If microbes are found, the next step would be to do DNA/RNA sequencing on them. With these tests we may be able to prove that our neighbouring planet may actually be our mother planet.
Microbes courtesy CdePaz Flickr
One thing to be careful of is Earth microbes could contaminate tests being done on the surface of Mars. All the research has been done on `Earthling microbes`, so we know that they can survive a journey away from Earth.
There is no definite answer to how life as we know it began on Earth. I found this research interesting because I never heard of this idea before. After looking at the papers concerning bacteria surviving space travel, I don’t think this idea is far fetched. I think it is a rather simple explanation to how Earth became inhabited. If Martian microbes could be sequenced and a connection was found between them and any organisms genome here on Earth, that would be incredible. I think it would be hard for many people to accept this idea because it makes our origins even more mysterious.
Posted in Issues in Science, New and innovative science, Public Engagement, Science in the News, Uncategorized
Tagged aliens, Common Ancestor, DNA sequencing, Mars, martians, meteorite, microbes, NASA, panspermia, research, science news, space, Space Exploration
With the Canadian election race in full swing, some people know exactly who they are going to vote for, and others are unsure. Each of us have our own biases and opinions about the big issues like healthcare, defense, and the economy.
Picture from Google Images
A group of scientists from the University College London just published a study in Current Biology that may show why “liberals are open to new experiences and can cope with conflicting information,” and why “conservatives are more sensitive to threat or anxiety in the face of uncertainty. ” (Quotes from Sciencedaily.com)
The team of researchers looked at the different sizes of these two structures called the anterior cingulate cortex and the amygdala (click the name to find out more information about each structure from Wikipedia). This team suspected that there might be a structural difference in the brain that accounts for these differences. And this is indeed what they found. People with larger anterior cingulate cortexes tended to have more liberal views. Whereas people with larger amygdalas tended to have conservative views.
But there is not enough evidence to conclude that only these structures account for the political differences. There were too many uncontrollable factors to take into account, such as life experience, family history, also what kind of environment the subject was raised in. And people also have the ability to change their views over time.
Ryota Kanai of the University College London concluded in the article that “It’s very unlikely that actual political orientation is directly encoded in these brain regions,” and “more work is needed to determine how these brain structures mediate the formation of political attitude.”
Picture from Google Images
Vote Compass is a free online survey where just click the answers that are closest to your opinions and it will tell you which political party you are closest to. I think it’s pretty cool, to check it out click on Vote Compass to go there now.
DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Posted in Biological Sciences, Fun!, General, New and innovative science, Physical Sciences, Science in the News, Uncategorized
Tagged brain, canada, conservative, liberal, parties, political, politics, structure, view
Now that the class has finished their interviews and has begun to assemble their footage, depending on how they conducted their interview it’s likely that some surprises may appear in the editing room. I know from personal experience now that it is difficult being a professional cinematographer. Fitting the subject into the frame of the shot just right and following their movement is not as easy as one would think.
But what if you had a camera that could do all this by itself and you merely had to press record? Zdenek Kalal, a PhD student at the University of Surrey in England, has just finished research that could make this a reality. He has developed a real time tracking program that unlike previous visual identification systems learns over time. That is, it can learn what the subject in question looks like at various angles and distances and actually gets more accurate over time. Affectionately named Predator, it promises to be the next generation of visual recognition technology.
The below video from the creator Mr. Kalal himself shows the program in action and provides an excellent introduction to the technology. Incidentally he also provides a fine example of how to effectively present research to the public.
As Mr. Kalal explains, the possible uses for the device go beyond simple facial recognition, although in the context of this class that would certainly be the most welcome. How simple would it be to tell Predator what to focus on, and then let a motorized camera automatically track your subject while you are free to carry out the interview unencumbered. Even in the context of large studio films I would not be surprised to learn that directors are eager to experiment with it. In the realm of science there are also several possibilities. The example noted in the video centres around animal research. The use visual recognition software could revolutionalize the field of wildlife biology. Studies of much larger scale could be completed by using cameras mounted in strategic locations, rather than relying on scientists heading out into the field to do manual observations.
Here is a link to the original press release from the University of Surrey, whose creation process is yet another area of science that we are now familiar with thanks to Science 300.
Source:Chemical and Engineering News
Cancer treatment research is ever evolving and according to an article in Voice of America it seems like nanodiamonds maybe the result of all this new research. Nanodiamonds are tiny particles of carbon that are just a couple of nanometers in size and there are hopes that they will make cancer drugs more effective and decrease the use of chemotherapy.
According to Dean Ho at the Northwestern University, nanodiamonds attract water which allows it to bind to anti-cancer drugs. This is a very important property because generally tumors reject the drugs, but when they are attached to nanodiamonds they do not. In fact, they were better able to retain the drug for a longer period of time. Based on the studies conducted on mice, the use of nanodiamonds has shown to be more effective with fewer side effects. They were also able to administer the drugs at an elevated level without causing any harm to the mice while successfully reducing the tumors to their smallest size.
However, nanodiamonds are not just restricted to the use of cancer treatment. It can be used in other areas of medicine. For example, Dean Ho and his team found it very useful when used in conjunction with therapeutic drugs such as insulin which is used in wound-healing applications.
A lot more studies need to be done before this test can be tested on humans, but the fact that these nanodiamonds are made from the “byproducts of industrial explosions such as mining” means this technology will not cost much more than regular cancer treatment, which will come as good news for future society.
Check this out!