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 The only science news thread you'll ever need

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PostSubject: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:12 pm

Scientists succeed in mimicking the way spiders spin their super-strength webs


Peter Parker's world comes a little closer in the laboratory of the team of researchers mentioned in the article above...

What it could be good for ...
Quote :
By Steve Connor, Science Editor [of the UK Independent]
Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The dream of producing spider silk in industrial quantities has come a step closer to reality after scientists managed to mimic the way silk protein is spun naturally into fibres that are potentially stronger than steel
Researchers have been trying to make artificial spider silk for decades because of its unusual and potentially lucrative properties. In addition to its extreme tensile strength, spider silk is highly elastic, and has the added advantage of being biodegradable. In the past, engineers have suggested a variety of potential uses of the silk, from bullet-proof vests and lightweight material for parachutes, to extremely strong ropes and fishing nets that will decompose quickly if lost at sea.

But the main sphere of interest is in medicine...

How they did it ...
Quote :
The team used two types of proteins found in spider silk and manufactured in bacteria that had been genetically engineered with the relevant spider genes. It was the first time that a group had manufactured "kilogram quantities" of the two main silk proteins, Professor Bausch said.

Despite determined efforts over the past 20 years, scientists have failed to produce artificial fibres that match the unique properties of spider silk. One of the problems is being able to make the long protein molecules used in the fibres, while the other difficulty is being able to mimic the complex changes that take place during the spinning process.

Spiders store the silk proteins in a watery solution. Orb spiders, which spin aerial webs for catching flying insects, can convert that solution into the solid fibres of a thread within the fraction of a second it takes them to spin out a dragline.

Professor Bausch said that the artificial spinning duct he and his colleagues have created brings together the unfolded proteins dissolved in the storage solution. That is done by squeezing them through a smaller and smaller hole until they emerge as a folded, insoluble sheet of proteins which form the solid fibre of silk.

The bad news ...
Quote :
However, the German team's study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, does not provide details of the physical or mechanical properties of the resulting fibres, which has led other scientists to criticise the research.

"It is another little step towards producing spider silk but it is not the breakthrough because the fibres produced have no good qualities," said Oxford University's Professor Fritz Vollrath, one of the leading experts in the field.

"If they made a fibre with good properties, then I would say the proof was in the pudding and they had cracked it. But they cannot make fibres that are strong and match the properties of real spider silk."

Lesson
There exists in nature machinery far far beyond our understanding and far far beyond our ability to replicate in the lab but what treasures we would have if only we could. And this machinery operates every day peacefully, silently in your hedge or ceiling or under your bed so don't kill it or something worse could happen than rain. Wink

Coming soon: How seagulls take the salt out of salt water.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:14 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
There exists in nature machinery far far beyond our understanding and far far beyond our ability to replicate in the lab but what treasures we would have if only we could. And this machinery operates every day peacefully, silently in your hedge or ceiling or under your bed so don't kill it or something worse could happen than rain. Wink
There is apparantly no natural equivilant to the wheel. So don't talk to me about nature, they'd have us all dragging sleighs around.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:42 pm

Nature has no use for a wheel.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:45 pm

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
Nature has no use for a wheel.
Yeah, well I do. Who's winning the war eh? Us or nature? I rest my case.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:38 pm

I remember once they had attempted to genetically engineer goats to produce spider silk. Apparently udders and websacs have similar evolutionary origins. That must have fallen apart, as soon as the goats start climbing walls and eating the curtains. Bad enough eating the bloody washing off the line.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:53 pm

905 wrote:
EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
Nature has no use for a wheel.
Yeah, well I do. Who's winning the war eh? Us or nature? I rest my case.

Nature always wins eventually, even without wheels.
In fact, having wheels is clearly weakening our position. Maybe Nature figured that out already and so dispensed with them ?
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:01 pm

Shit job but somebody has to do it.


A class of a wheel you might agree. As a Kerryman recently said to me, it wasn't the invention of the wheel that changed the world, it was the invention of the axle. Cute hoors Wink
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PostSubject: Extremophiles: Living creatures discovered 1.6 km beneath seabed   Tue May 27, 2008 8:51 pm

I thought it was a great little piece in the Guardian(link)

Quote :
They are among the toughest creatures known to science, and species like them could make up two thirds of all the living material on the planet.

Researchers have discovered living microbes in rock 1.6 km under the sea bed, which itself has 4.5 km of seawater above it. The bacteria-like creatures, which were found in sediment cores extracted by a ship off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada, are able to survive extreme pressure and temperatures of up to 100C. The previous record for life was 842 m underground.

The creatures are single-celled organisms called archaea which are able to thrive in an ecosystem where sunlight never penetrates. The researchers who discovered them are unsure exactly how they do this, but one possibility is that they effectively eat oil.

Will we find more crazy yokes under the water now that we're drilling for oil in odd places? Sorry that this is in Japanese but what exactly is throwing that stuff out of the water?
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PostSubject: Why women really do love bastards ?   Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:06 am

from the London Indo today:

Why women really do love self-obsessed psychopaths-link

Quote :
Bad boys, it seems, really do get all the girls. Women might claim they want caring, thoughtful types but scientists have discovered what they really want – self-obsessed, lying psychopaths.
Very Happy

So, if you want to spread your genes around, some eggheads believe that you'll have less of a chance of doing it if you're a Good Guy ..

Quote :
A study has found that men with the "dark triad" of traits – narcissism, thrill- seeking and deceitfulness – are likely to have a larger number of sexual affairs. Peter Jonason, of New Mexico University in Las Cruces, believes that these traits may have an innate, genetic component that explains why some men seem unable to stop themselves behaving badly.

The dark triad of traits are the self-obsession of narcissism, the impulsive, thrill-seeking and callous behaviour of psychopaths and the deceitful and exploitative nature of Machiavellianism. "We have some evidence these traits may represent a successful evolutionary strategy," Dr Jonason told New Scientist magazine.
Dark triad of self-obsession, psychopathology and deceit... So we should ditch the good behaviour and lie, exploit and threaten to kill women in order to get them into the sack Shocked

-
Quote :
Many famous men – from James Dean to Pete Doherty – could be said to show elements of the dark triad of traits, but perhaps the best fictional example is James Bond. "He's clearly disagreeable, very extrovert and likes trying new things – including killing people and new women," Dr Jonason said.

How did the eggheads find out this invaluable piece of information which could prove more effective than the litres of eau de toilette I've been using not to mention the diction lessons, hair transplants and adoption of pain in the arse beliefs like New Ageism and vegetarianism, in order to appear sophisticated and interesting ?

Quote :
The study subjected 200 college students to personality tests designed to rank them in terms of the dark triad. They were also asked about their sexual relationships, including their attitude towards brief affairs.

Dr Jonason said those with the highest rating in terms of the dark triad tended to have more partners and a greater desire for short-term affairs.
With this rigorous and positively definitive scientific exploration they came to the reason why women love these types of men:

Quote :
The dark triad approach is one way of maximising a man's reproductive potential by having sex with many females, while not bothering to stick around to help with the children. "The strategy seems to have worked. We still have these traits," Dr Jonason said.

David Schmitt, of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, surveyed 35,000 people in 57 countries and found a similar link. "It is universal across cultures," he said.
I think I used the word 'reason' wrongly there. They gave no explanation for this crackpot theory which seems to be true - is there one ?
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:22 am

Audy - ye're thinking too much here and when it comes to women and whole dating,mating scenario, thinking too much is absolutely lethal for men - ye're trying to apply logic where none exists - trust me on this one.

There is a massive difference between what women say they want and what they actually want and that of course is provisonal in that they actually know what they want ( they actually know their own minds - a rare occurence - and Im talking about the romantic sphere here only before the good ladies here blow a fuse or twenty!) - they cant actually describe what they want - but they'll know it when they see it! - Hey dont knock it - the entire edifice of western consumerism and the world economy as we know it is totally based around womens indecision and need for choice!

Im sure there is some rational to the above article - good guys sleep alone was a famous line from the nineties - and its pretty accurate - women are attracted to independent confident men who couldn't give a toss about what others think about them - they are hotwired biologically for it when it comes to a shag - possibly thinking that his genes would be good for their offspring in that they might acquire these attributes to help them get on in a dog eat dog world - which is basically 90% of humanities existence so far. However the same attributes would not be useful in a partner which would be needed to bring up, provide for and care for the offspring - thus a quick affair to ensure impregnation with Mr Rough before moving on to Mr Nice Guy to do the family gig with - not sure if that makes sense - buts thats my take on it anyway.

Just know that I can score almost at will with supertanker of whisky on board, when Im in Mr Hyde mode when Im probably totally obnoxcious, talking for Ireland and when I really couldnt give a shit whether she wants to stay or go - funny that - Then again it works both ways - anybody I score with in this condition - ok - I'd jump her bones in a nano second - but theres no way in hell I'll be bringing her home to meet Mammy!

Ah Women - put on earth to completely wreck your head! - actually they're not that bad and normally pretty sound creatures except for this amazing capacity they have to rip your guts out and feed them to crows every now and again.

Audy - dont worry about getting too metrosexual - that only happens in the movies - its a cliche - but be yourself and be confident - woman can smell insecurity and indecision like a shark can smell blood in the water 5 miles away - tho theres no harm in being hygenic and having being toilet trained and generally doing a bit of self improvement - Just be confident and cool - Gawd I sound like one of those American lifecoach peoples.

Im done!


Last edited by Edo on Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:31 am

Edo that's brilliant ! you'd make a fortune as a life coach ! I was going to try to lose 5 or 6 stone over the summer but in the light of this - if they like me mean they won't give fuck if I'm not lean Very Happy

I feel totally saved of all that hassle! I'm never gonna wash again Mad
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:38 am

Actually Audy - its only a barstool theory of mine - nothing more Very Happy

Go ahead and lose the weight for if you need (ie if you're not extracting the urine as I strongly suspect!!) - for yourself not for anybody else

And as regards the hygiene - you'll have buy her a shitload of redbulls and vodkas to overcome that hurdle Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:43 am

Yeah I'm extracing the urine a bit with the stones and deoderant, kinda.

Seriously that's a fine explanation though edo - they didn't refer to it there in the piece but nature is red in tooth and claw however civilised we appear or however fast you can write php code or C# or however sophisticated you appear to be; women, not very deep down, are looking for the Jason Bourne in a man ..

Do you think homosexuality could be response to this apparent cheating of the mind by the biology ? Women don't really love you after all, they just love that you can kill others more successfully than your rivals. At least with man love you know they don't want you for that ..
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:59 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Yeah I'm extracing the urine a bit with the stones and deoderant, kinda.

Seriously that's a fine explanation though edo - they didn't refer to it there in the piece but nature is red in tooth and claw however civilised we appear or however fast you can write php code or C# or however sophisticated you appear to be; women, not very deep down, are looking for the Jason Bourne in a man ..

Do you think homosexuality could be response to this apparent cheating of the mind by the biology ? Women don't really love you after all, they just love that you can kill others more successfully than your rivals. At least with man love you know they don't want you for that ..

I'll have to ponder that one for a while Audy - quick answer now would be our biological ancestry is never far from the surface - in both males and females - it cuts both ways - Men notice women first for their physical attributes (any man who says it was her personality that first got his attention better have a fire extinguisher on hand aimed at his rear end - tho those physical attributes and their attraction are in the eye of the beholder and are not universally uniform - and besides why do women spend such much money and time on appearance if it wasn't important?) which is directly linked to her ability to produce and feed healthy offspring - our incredible ever speeding up technological progress in recent centuries as made a lot of this redundant but we are still hotwired to reach to those primative impulses -the interesting thing is what will happen when we start to outgrow our physical shells etc etc - will come back to that later - absolutely bolloxed after taking down posters tonite so Im gonna hit the sack.

The Homosexual thing? - being a hetro myself - TBH it isnt something I've given a lot of thought too - but it does raise an interesting question alright.

Bon nuits mes amis et adieu
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:14 am

How does Lucrezia Borgia fit in to this hypothesis? She seemed able to dispatch efficiently without male help?
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:47 am

Women have contradictory needs and wants: I once read a survey result that said that the ultimate female fantasy was to be ravished by a gentle schoolmaster in a cornfield.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:34 am

cactus flower wrote:
Women have contradictory needs and wants: I once read a survey result that said that the ultimate female fantasy was to be ravished by a gentle schoolmaster in a cornfield.

My god that is horrendous. In a cornfield !! Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:57 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Women have contradictory needs and wants: I once read a survey result that said that the ultimate female fantasy was to be ravished by a gentle schoolmaster in a cornfield.

Ewww!!! That's disturbing!
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:10 pm

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Women have contradictory needs and wants: I once read a survey result that said that the ultimate female fantasy was to be ravished by a gentle schoolmaster in a cornfield.

My god that is horrendous. In a cornfield !! Shocked

Did somebody say schoolmaster?
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Sun Jul 27, 2008 5:05 am

The annual Microsoft Photography Competition has some mighty photos of or images of the beauty that can exist in engineering. Have a look

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/gallery/2008/jul/23/engineering.photography?picture=335923878

- I think the music one (#3) is tantalizingly fascinating, showing us evidence of what music might look like to a computer. The nano-tech images are fascinating too of course.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:30 am

Anyone seen this already ? - HP wants to put nanotech sensors all over the planet in order to fix it ..

HP's plan to fix ailing planet
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7520706.stm

Quote :
Hewlett Packard is up to two years away from starting to build a "central nervous system for the Earth", known as CeNSE.

Apparently they, or specifically Dr. Stan Williams, doesn't want to fill the world with sensors in order to detect defective parts of your car, fridge or local nuclear power station but parts of the planet itself ...

Quote :
And just as a doctor would use a barrage of tests to find out what ails a patient, so Dr Williams believes he and HP can do the same in finding out what is going wrong with our environment and offering solutions to problems before they turn into disasters.

Dr Williams suggested that, instead of wielding a stethoscope, HP would use trillions of sensors to monitor the health of the Earth and use the information to head off natural calamities such as large scale flooding or wildfires.

The ubiquitous sensors would mimic human senses such as touch, smell, hearing, sight and taste.

Where are all these trillions of sensors going to go ? and how will they know about bacteria and storms and all that? The article says that HP have been developing this technology since 1995

Quote :
"Nanotech isn't a new market or industry, it's an enabling technology that improves many types of products," said Jurron Bradley, a senior analyst at Lux Research.

"You find it in coatings boosting the efficiency of auto engines, in protecting electronic devices and making cholesterol-reducing drugs more effective.

"These innovations aren't always visible to consumers, but they improve products and boost margins. That's why nanomaterials' use is only going to keep growing."

Dr Williams said that HP almost had a product ready to put in the hands of the customers.

It came after 13 years of hard work, he said.

But industry and business will be the first to use it they say

Quote :
Predict failures

The most obvious type of industry that this technology will appeal to, he said, was the chemical and energy sector.

"These industries have huge assets and large plants," he said. "Today they do a lot of manual oversight, but all too often the first indication that something is wrong is some sort of catastrophic failure and there is no warning.

"With the set of sensors we have available today, because they aren't very good and are very expensive, the most they can do is sense temperature and pressure and then look at what comes out the end pipe to see if it's the right stuff or not.

"If it isn't, you have a huge economic problem and sometimes an ecological problem and a health problem."

Dr Williams claimed HP's nanotech sensors would be able to avert this.

"They can be deployed all over the chemical plant or oil refinery in the same way a human body has nerves to collect information... so you have a very high-value real-time situation of what is going on in the system," he said.

"So if a bearing on a pump starts to have problems, you know about it long before it actually fails because the sensors tell you what is happening. Today you can predict failures before they occur and allow them to be fixed during routine maintenance."

What if these things breed and get intelligence and breed more and eat everything ?

Quote :
For HP's central nervous system to become a reality, Dr Williams said the world had to be covered with sensors.

"We can and should be able to make these sensors by the billions and eventually even trillions using these highly integrated manufacturing processes that have been developed for the computer chip industry and the electronics industry," he said.

Not a mention of the dangers of this in the article but maybe there aren't any dangers. It sounds like they would like to know a lot about a lot of things - might be useful but might be very intrusive too.
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:29 pm

Coincidence that I was just thinking about how poor we are at recognising that an earthquake is going, even in the wealthiest parts of the planet.

http://www.breakingnews.ie/World/mhqlkfgbsngb/

Diagnostics for the globe sound like a great idea: governments should be doing this and not leaving it to HP.
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PostSubject: The Bees Are Dying   Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:13 am



Scary stuff - the bees are disappearing in the UK according to the Guardian. Well, their numbers are down 30% since last year - a dramatic fall in comparison to other bad years where a 5-10% drop happened according to this article

Last year, 2007, the bees stayed in their hives instead of coming out into the rain and this resulted in lower pollination and an opportunity for anti-bee pathogens to breed in their hives, killing off the bees themselves.

Quote :
The government recognises that the UK's honeybee hives - run by 44,000 mostly amateur beekeepers - contribute around £165m a year to the economy by pollinating many fruits and vegetables. "30% fewer honeybee colonies could therefore cost the economy some £50m and put at risk the government's crusade for the public to eat five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day," Lovett warned.

The Honey Association warned last month that English honey will run out by Christmas and no more will be available until summer 2009. It blames the shortage on fewer honeybees and farmers devoting more fields to wheat, which has soared in price but does not produce nectar.

I could live without honey but could we live without bees?

Quote :
Farming minister, Lord Rooker, has predicted the demise of the honeybee within a decade. Last November, he told parliament: "We do not deny that honeybee health is at risk. Frankly, if nothing is done about it, the honeybee population could be wiped out in 10 years."

Yet the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spends just £1.3m on bee health each year- less than one per cent of the bees' value to the economy - with an additional £200,000 for research

One crowd is calling for £8 million to be used over 5 years to pursue research into preserving them as well as research. What can they do against the rain? Build bigger houses for them? Employ hive-cleaners?

No bees = no pollination of flowers = Auditors flower photos worth $$$$$$
(any way we can get rid of em quicker?)
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:17 am

Can we have more bees, less wasps please?
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PostSubject: Re: The only science news thread you'll ever need   Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:20 am

The decline of the bee really is alarming. I think a lot of people don't realise how important bees are to plant life. Many plants rely on bees for pollination.
According to wikipedia....
Quote :
It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees, especially the domesticated Western honey bee.
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