Tag Archives: discovery

WHAT WHAT?

YEAH BUDDY!

YES!!!

I’ve been advocating for exploring the oceans of other worlds for years. And I’ve written fictional stories about it. Very, very good to see them preparing.

 

In a sneak peek of a possible future mission to Saturn’s moon Titan, NASA has showcased their vision of a robotic submersible that could explore the moon’s vast lakes of liquid methane and ethane.

VIDEO: Can a Moon be Older Than its Planet?

Studying Titan is thought to be looking back in time at an embryonic Earth, only a lot colder. Titan is the only moon in the solar system to have a significant atmosphere and this atmosphere is known to possess its own methane cycle, like Earth’s water cycle. Methane exists in a liquid state, raining down on a landscape laced with hydrocarbons, forming rivers, valleys and seas.

Several seas have been extensively studied by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during multiple flybys, some of which average a few meters deep, whereas others have depths of over 200 meters (660 feet) — the maximum depth at which Cassini’s radar instrument can penetrate.

So, if scientists are to properly explore Titan, they must find a way to dive into these seas to reveal their secrets.

ANALYSIS: Cassini Watches Clouds Blow Over Titan’s Sea

At this year’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium, a Titan submarine concept was showcased by NASA Glenn’s COMPASS Team and researchers from Applied Research Lab.

Envisaged as a possible mission to Titan’s largest sea, Kracken Mare, the autonomous submersible would be designed to make a 90 day, 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) voyage exploring the depths of this vast and very alien marine environment. As it would spend long periods under the methane sea’s surface, it would have to be powered by a radioisotope generator; a source that converts the heat produced by radioactive pellets into electricity, much like missions that are currently exploring space, like Cassini and Mars rover Curiosity.

Communicating with Earth would not be possible when the vehicle is submerged, so it would need to make regular ascents to the surface to transmit science data.

ANALYSIS: Cassini Spies Wind-Rippled Sea on Titan

But Kracken Mare is not a tranquil lake fit for gentle sailing — it is known to have choppy waves and there is evidence of tides, all contributing to the challenge. Many of the engineering challenges have already been encountered when designing terrestrial submarines — robotic and crewed — but as these seas will be extremely cold (estimated to be close to the freezing point of methane, 90 Kelvin or -298 degrees Fahrenheit), a special piston-driven propulsion system will need to be developed and a nitrogen will be needed as ballast, for example.

This study is just that, a study, but the possibility of sending a submersible robot to another world would be as unprecedented as it is awesome.

Although it’s not clear at this early stage what the mission science would focus on, it would be interesting to sample the chemicals at different depths of Kracken Mare.

ANALYSIS: Titan’s ‘Magic Island’ Appeared Mysteriously From the Depths

“Measurement of the trace organic components of the sea, which perhaps may exhibit prebiotic chemical evolution, will be an important objective, and a benthic sampler (a robotic grabber to sample sediment) would acquire and analyze sediment from the seabed,” the authors write (PDF). “These measurements, and seafloor morphology via sidescan sonar, may shed light on the historical cycles of filling and drying of Titan’s seas. Models suggest Titan’s active hydrological cycle may cause the north part of Kraken to be ‘fresher’ (more methane-rich) than the south, and the submarine’s long traverse will explore these composition variations.”

A decade after the European Huygens probe landed on the surface of Titan imaging the moon’s eerily foggy atmosphere, there have been few plans to go back to this tantalizing world. It would be incredible if, in the next few decades, we could send a mission back to Titan to directly sample what is at the bottom of its seas, exploring a region where the molecules for life’s chemistry may be found in abundance.

ADAPTIVE CRISPR

Comments? Good, or bad?

Or both?

Bioengineers develop tool for reprogramming genetic code

3 hours ago by Bjorn Carey
Bioengineers develop tool for reprogramming genetic code
Stanford bioengineers have developed a new tool that allows them to preferentially activate or deactivate genes in living cells. Credit: vitstudio/Shutterstock
Biology relies upon the precise activation of specific genes to work properly. If that sequence gets out of whack, or one gene turns on only partially, the outcome can often lead to a disease.

Now, bioengineers at Stanford and other universities have developed a sort of programmable genetic code that allows them to preferentially activate or deactivate genes in living cells. The work is published in the current issue of Cell, and could help usher in a new generation of gene therapies.

The technique is an adaptation of CRISPR, itself a relatively new genetic tool that makes use of a natural defense mechanism that bacteria evolved over millions of years to slice up infectious virus DNA.

Standard CRISPR consists of two components: a short RNA that matches a particular spot in the genome, and a protein called Cas9 that snips the DNA in that location. For the purposes of gene editing, scientists can control where the protein snips the genome, insert a new gene into the cut and patch it back together.

Inserting new , however, is just one way to influence how the genome is expressed. Another involves telling the cell how much or how little to activate a particular gene, thus controlling how much protein a cell produces from that gene and altering its behavior.

It’s this action that Lei Stanley Qi, an assistant professor of bioengineering and of chemical and systems biology at Stanford, and his colleagues aim to manipulate.

Influencing the genome

In the new work, the researchers describe how they have designed the CRISPR molecule to include a second piece of information on the RNA, instructing the molecule to either increase (upregulate) or decrease (downregulate) a target gene’s activity, or turn it on/off entirely.

Additionally, they designed it so that it could affect two different genes at once. In a cell, the order or degree in which are activated can produce different metabolic products.

“It’s like driving a car. You control the wheel to control direction, and the engine to control the speed, and how you balance the two determines how the car moves,” Qi said. “We can do the same thing in the cell by up- or downregulating genes, and produce different outcomes.”

As a proof of principle, the scientists used the technique to take control of a yeast metabolic pathway, turning genes on and off in various orders to produce four different end products. They then tested it on two mammalian genes that are important in cell mobility, and were able to control the cell’s direction and how fast it moved.

 

Future therapies

The ability to control genes is an attractive approach in designing genetic therapies for complex diseases that involve multiple genes, Qi said, and the new system may overcome several of the challenges of existing experimental therapies.

“Our technique allows us to directly control multiple specific and pathways in the genome without expressing new transgenes or uncontrolled behaviors, such as producing too much of a protein, or doing so in the wrong cells,” Qi said. “We could eventually synthesize tens of thousands of RNA molecules to control the genome over a whole organism.”

Next, Qi plans to test the technique in mice and refine the delivery method. Currently the scientists use a virus to insert the molecule into a cell, but he would eventually like to simply inject the molecules into an organism’s blood.

“That is what is so exciting about working at Stanford, because the School of Medicine’s immunology group is just around the corner, and working with them will help us address how to do this without triggering an immune response,” said Qi, who is a member of the interdisciplinary Stanford ChEM-H institute. “I’m optimistic because everything about this system comes naturally from , and should be compatible with any organism.”

Explore further: ‘CRISPR’ science: Newer genome editing tool shows promise in engineering human stem cells

THE FIVE PRINCIPLES

Over the past four to five days I have discovered (both through experimentation and by healing animal patients) some very important medical principles which make the successful treatment of certain kinds of injuries and diseases much easier and much more effective. Also these principles make it far less likely that any form of treatment will in any way promote infection, interfere with the healing process, produce malignant counter or side effects, cause relapse, slow recovery, or prevent full recovery. Methods of the application of these principles vary according to the specific conditions surrounding the patient (age, general state of health, weight, etc.) and the individual nature of the case itself but the principles are valid in and of themselves.

I say discover, actually I have rediscovered (for I knew most of these principles already but either did not practice them fully or in the necessary manner or did not until recently realize their true import) or refined the principles I’m going to name, and I’m also sure the ancients and many medieval doctors knew them as well.

Additionally I should add the caveat that some of these principals are really for medical applications devoid of access to modern medical facilities and sometimes due to the fact of the lack of proper medicines – either because the patient and doctor/medic are isolated and cannot reach such facilities, because such facilities are not available in a given area, or because the patient lies on the borderline between being able to treat themselves or at home and needing to be hospitalized, but the injury or illness has not quite yet progressed to the point of an emergency hospitalization.

All of these Principles are going into my Book of Medicine as currently defined below, however as I improve upon my techniques and make further discoveries I will refine these definitions as necessary. Also I have a couple of ideas regarding inventions to best apply some of these principles but I’ll discuss those inventions at a later date after I’ve had a chance to work upon them.
1 THE PRINCIPLE OF HIBERNATION – The patient should be encouraged to or force himself to go into a state of self-induced hibernation or a coma-like state (even if this state must persist for many hours or even days or weeks) until the patent has reached the state that a sufficient point of verifiable recovery has been achieved or there are definite signs of self-sustaining improvement. The only treatment that should be administered or self-administered during this hibernation state should be small amounts of water with nutrients and electrolytes (liquid metaergogenics).

2 THE PRINCIPLE OF REVERSE APPLICATION – If the patient is unable or unwilling to eat then all necessary and beneficial nutrients and electrolytes should be introduced through liquids and via liquid consumption. If the patient is unwilling to drink then all necessary and beneficial nutrients and electrolytes should be introduced through whatever food is consumed and the food should be soaked in beneficial liquids and water and moisturized or reduced to a semi-liquid paste. These two principles are especially good and useful in cases where it is not possible to administer an IV .

3 THE PRINCIPLE OF APPLIED STASIS OR NON-INTERFERENCE – There are times when a patient has received a severe, traumatic, or at least serious injury or illness, and aside from keeping the patient warm and clean no attempt should be made to treat the patient at all other than the periodic administering of small amounts of food and/or drink (see principle of Reverse Application and the principle of Fasting) and instead they should encouraged to rest and to sleep (see principle of Hibernation). Only after a patient shows signs of the recovery of strength and of a tendency to recover should the patient be treated in a more normal manner to speed recovery.

4 THE PRINCIPLE OF FASTING – In certain situations the patient should not be fed at all but should undergo a period of fasting to best facilitate healing. Break the fast when signs of recovery become obvious or if the patient shows signs of weakness or harmful weight loss. Liquid intake should be maintained as normal or increased as necessary.

5. THE PRINCIPLE OF WOUND HOMEOSTASIS – Sometimes a wound (or even a state of illness) is too moist and must be drained, dried, and caused to remain dry (in a general sense, all biological health depends to some degree upon moisture) so as the suppress or prevent serious forms of infection (gangrene, etc.). Sometimes a wound (or even a state of illness) is too dry and requires the introduction of sterile yet beneficial forms of moisture and nutrients introduced through the medium of that moisture. Each particular case will vary according to the circumstances but if there are indications that the injury, wound, or disease state is too moist, then drying methods must be employed, and if there are indications that the injury, wound, or disease state is too dry then moisture must be applied. Then intent is to reach a state of patient homeostasis in which the patient can achieve and remain in an ongoing condition of optimal healing and recovery.

6. THE PRINCIPLE OF SHADOW (OR UNFELT OR UNKNOWN) TREATMENT APPLICATION – I will discuss this principle later after I have had more time to experiment. Initial indications show it to be very effective but the initial methods of application could be much improved I think. This is a new principle to me.

TRIAL AND SENTENCING

Possible Site Of Trial Of Jesus Uncovered By Archaeologists

Posted: 01/05/2015 2:53 pm EST Updated: 4 hours ago

JERUSALEM (RNS) The site where Jesus may have been tried, prior to his crucifixion, is now open to the public for the very first time.

Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the spot is within easy walking distance of the Christian Quarter and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where tradition holds Jesus was buried.

jesus trial
Entrance to Kishle excavation following renovations.

Discovered under an abandoned prison building that is part of the Tower of David Museum grounds, the trial site is one piece of a vast excavation undertaken by archaeologists from 1999 to 2000 but sealed off for the past 14 years largely due to lack of funding.

The excavations include what may be the foundations of the palace of King Herod. It was here, many scholars and archaeologists believe, that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate put Jesus on trial.

jesus trial
View of the middle of three walls that are part of the foundations of King Herod’s Palace.

Archaeologist Amit Re’em of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the palace was built at the end of the first century B.C., according to Josephus, the Jewish historian and Roman citizen of the era.

“It was enormous, with a lot of gold and silver and running water and guest quarters,” he said.

The ruins uncovered by the Antiquities Authority were discovered in the area described by Josephus and included a complex sewage system.

While there is as yet no concrete evidence that the trial took place in the palace, Re’em noted that “from early Christianity until Crusader times the Via Dolorosa” — the route Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion — “passed by Herod’s palace. Only since medieval times did the route change.”

herod
Herodian steps leading down into Kishle.

herod
Herodian steps leading up from Kishle.

BEST OF SCIENCE

Best of Last Week – New explanation for dark matter, a simulation of the universe and the randomness of cancer

21 hours ago by Bob Yirka report
Dawn spacecraft begins approach to dwarf planet Ceres
This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Dawn spacecraft heading toward the dwarf planet Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
(Phys.org)—Despite the celebrations leading up to the New Year last week, progress in science marched on—a paper by molecular geneticist Edward Kipreos, with the University of Georgia, for example, describing a study that found a possible alternative explanation for dark energy made news. He suggested that changing the way people think about time dilation might offer an alternative explanation of the mysterious force that drives the expansion of the universe. Also, a team of physicists at City College of New York published a paper describing their work which involved unveiling new half-light, half-matter quantum particles in very thin semiconductors—which could help pave the way to computing technology based on quantum properties of light. And in an interview with Phys.org, Professor David Pines of the University of California and the Santa Fe Institute described a paper he had published with Dr. Yi-feng Yang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, regarding how a novel experiment-based expression can explain the behavior of unconventional superconductors.

COMSOL Handbook Series

In other news, NASA announced that the Dawn spacecraft began its approach to the dwarf planet Ceres—which is situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt and holds many secrets which will very soon be revealed. An international team of researchers published a paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, describing a simulation of the universe with realistic galaxies they have created—it is called the EAGLE project and they have also released an iPhone app based on one of the simulations.

In an interesting development, a team of researchers at the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa, announced that they believe they have found the cause of death of the enigmatic Mrs. Oscar Wilde—complications from surgery meant to cure her of multiple sclerosis. Also interesting were the findings by a pair of researchers who found that those who take part in violent conflict have more wives and children—at least those in an East African herding tribe who engage in violent raids on neighboring groups.

And finally, if you are one of the millions of people who wonder why they or a loved one have been afflicted, a new study suggests that the “bad luck” of random mutations plays a predominant role in cancer. A team at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center found that roughly two thirds of cancers come about due to mutations that occur in genes that drive cancer that are not due to inherited genes or the environment—it is just the luck of the draw.

Special Note: You may also be interested in checking out ten of the biggest science and technology stories of 2014 on Phys.org or ten of the top medical research discoveries of 2014 on Medical Xpress.