History, Science

Alan Turing’s notebook sold for $1m in New York auction

A scientific notebook compiled by World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing has sold for $1m in New York.

It is one of very few manuscripts from the head of the team that cracked the Germans’ Enigma code.

The handwritten notes, dating from 1942 when he worked at Bletchley Park, were entrusted to mathematician Robin Gandy after Turing’s death.

The notebook was sold at Bonhams for $1,025,000 (£700,850) to an unnamed buyer — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Technology

Aluminum battery from Stanford offers safe alternative to conventional batteries

Stanford University scientists have invented the first high-performance aluminum battery that’s fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive. Researchers say the new technology offers a safe alternative to many commercial batteries in wide use today.

We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames, said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.

Dai and his colleagues describe their novel aluminum-ion battery in An ultrafast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery, which will be published in the April 6 advance online edition of the journal Nature.

Aluminum has long been an attractive material for batteries, mainly because of its low cost, low flammability and high-charge storage capacity. For decades, researchers have tried unsuccessfully to develop a commercially viable aluminum-ion battery.  A key challenge has been finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

How far down would you have to dig before you came to the centre of the Earth? And what would you find along the way? BBC Future descends into the depths

Science

Homeopathy not effective for any medical condition: review

After a years-long review of hundreds of studies, Australia’s top medical research agency has concluded that homeopathy is essentially useless for treating any medical condition.

Researchers with the National Health and Medical Research Council conducted a review of published studies on homeopathy and report that they could not find any good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy works any better than a placebo or sugar pill.

Homeopathy is a centuries-old form of alternative medicine that has been dismissed as pseudoscience by many sceptics. It’s based on a premise that like cures like. Practitioners believe that herbs and extracts that cause symptoms such as headaches in healthy people will also cure headaches if they are given in highly diluted forms.

Although several studies have shown that homeopathic remedies have no detectable amounts of the original substance left, homeopaths believe the tinctures retain a memory of the original substance and are thus effective.

The Australian researchers involved in this review sifted through 1,800 research papers from around the world on homeopathy, finding only 225 that were large enough to be worthy of more thorough inspection.

They say they found no reliable evidence that any homeopathic treatment led to health improvements that were any better than a placebo.

And the researchers say the studies that did find homeopathic remedies effective were either so poorly designed, or so poorly conducted, that they were too flawed to be considered reliable — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

The Horrible Things That Happen If You Don’t Get Enough Sodium

In the 1930s, it was generally accepted that the body needed sodium to function, but no one had studied what broke down when the sodium in a person’s diet was removed. One researcher researcher and four volunteers decided to find out. It was awful.

The body’s need for salt wasn’t hard to establish. Anyone with a tongue noticed that the sweat and tears which came out of the body tasted the same as the little crystals leftover when sea water evaporated. Later research confirmed that it’s the sodium that makes sodium chloride so necessary to us, but, well into the twentieth century, no one quite knew what would happen when sodium levels dropped. Doctor Robert McCance wasn’t about to let that kind of ignorance persist. He recruited four volunteers and desalinated them — via io9

Science, Wildlife

How do dogs see with their noses? / Alexandra Horowitz

You may have heard the expression that dogs see with their noses. But these creature’s amazing nasal architecture actually reveals a whole world beyond what we can see. Alexandra Horowitz illustrates how the dog’s nose can smell the past, the future and even things that can’t be seen at all.

Lesson by Alexandra Horowitz, animation by Província Studio — via Youtube

Health, Science

Peanut allergies: Australian study into probiotics offers hope for possible cure

Australian scientists say a particular strain of probiotics could offer a possible cure for people with potentially fatal peanut allergies.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne gave 60 children who are allergic to peanuts either a probiotic along with a small dose of peanut protein or a placebo.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Mimi Tang said more than 80 per cent of children who received the protein and probiotic were able to tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms at the end of the trial.

This is 20 times higher than the natural rate of resolution for peanut allergy, she said.

Twenty-three of the 28 children who received the probiotic with the peanut protein were able to eat peanuts after the study.

The effect lasted for two to five weeks after treatment.

The strain of probiotic used in the study was Lactobacillus rhamnosus — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

New hope for rape kit testing advocates

Five years after more than 11,000 unprocessed rape kits — some dating back to the 1980s — were discovered in a police warehouse in Detroit, cities across the US are working to eliminate their own huge backlogs of untested evidence. Thousands of sexual assault cases are beginning to be resolved.

When Detroit prosecutors and state police toured a large storage warehouse in 2009, they made a startling discovery — more a huge cache of untested rape kits, each representing a report to the police and a lengthy hospital visit to collect evidence.

Armed with a large grant by the National Institute of Justice, prosecutors and Detroit police have now completed testing of 2,000 of those kits and are in the process of testing another 8,000.

The testing, as of October, had produced more than 750 DNA matches to a national database managed by the FBI known as Codis.

Investigations of these matches continue, but so far the Wayne County prosecutor’s office — which includes Detroit — has produced warrants for 23 alleged rapists and convicted 14 of them, with three awaiting trial.

The office, run by the county’s top prosecutor, Kym Worthy, has also identified 188 serial rapists from the processed kits who have committed crimes in 27 other states — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

On Monday this week The Conversation published a story under the headline What’s killing Tassie devils if it isn’t contagious cancer? The article suggested evidence that the Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a transmissible cancer is inconclusive and instead, environmental chemicals could be to blame. This misrepresents the state of the science.

All the latest research points to the fact that the deadly DFTD is a transmissible cancer that originated in a female Tasmanian devil. A single cell in this devil (patient zero) developed into a cancer cell.

This is nothing unusual as cancers, whether they are devil or human, originate from a single cell. This single cell divided uncontrollably to produce a tumour (mass of cells).

DFTD developed mechanisms to avoid being killed by the devil’s immune system. Again, nothing unusual — cancer cells usually develop such strategies.

What is unusual about DFTD, though, is that it is transmitted between devils. The same cancer cells from patient zero have spread throughout most of the Tasmanian devil population, killing every devil infected — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Photo: Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrissi) – Flickr/roger smith

Science

Physicists build reversible tractor beam

Laser physicists have built a tractor beam that can repel and attract objects, using a hollow laser beam that is bright around the edges and dark in its centre.

It is the first long-distance optical tractor beam and moved particles one fifth of a millimetre in diameter a distance of up to 20 centimetres, around 100 times further than previous experiments.

“Demonstration of a large scale laser beam like this is a kind of holy grail for laser physicists,” said Professor Wieslaw Krolikowski, from the Research School of Physics and Engineering.

The new technique is versatile because it requires only a single laser beam. It could be used, for example, in controlling atmospheric pollution or for the retrieval of tiny, delicate or dangerous particles for sampling.

The researchers can also imagine the effect being scaled up.

The work is published in Nature Photonics — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

The 2014 Ig Nobel Awards

PHYSICS PRIZE [JAPAN]: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor.

REFERENCE: Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin, Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, Tribology Online 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 147-151.

NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE [CHINA, CANADA]: Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.

REFERENCE: Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia, Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, Kang Lee, Cortex, vol. 53, April 2014, Pages 60–77. The authors are at School of Computer and Information Technology, Beijing Jiaotong University, Xidian University, the Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, and the University of Toronto, Canada.

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UK, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.

REFERENCE: Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits, Peter K Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538-541.

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, JAPAN, USA, INDIA]: Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlí?ek and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.

REFERENCE: Changes in personality profile of young women with latent toxoplasmosis, Jaroslav Flegr and Jan Havlicek, Folia Parasitologica, vol. 46, 1999, pp. 22-28.

REFERENCE: Decreased level of psychobiological factor novelty seeking and lower intelligence in men latently infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii Dopamine, a missing link between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis?, Jaroslav Flegr, Marek Preiss, Ji??? Klose, Jan Havl???ek, Martina Vitáková, and Petr Kodym, Biological Psychology, vol. 63, 2003, pp. 253–268.

REFERENCE: Describing the Relationship between Cat Bites and Human Depression Using Data from an Electronic Health Record, David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 2013, e70585.

BIOLOGY PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, GERMANY, ZAMBIA]: Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika N?mcová, Jana Adámková, Kate?ina Benediktová, Jaroslav ?ervený and Hynek Burda, for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines.

REFERENCE: Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field, Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika N?mcová, Jana Adámková, Kate?ina Benediktová, Jaroslav ?ervený and Hynek Burda, Frontiers in Zoology, 10:80, 27 December 2013.

ART PRIZE [ITALY]: Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam.

REFERENCE: Aesthetic value of paintings affects pain thresholds, Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 17, no. 4, 2008, pp. 1152-1162.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [ITALY]: ISTAT — the Italian government’s National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.

REFERENCE: Cambia il Sistema europeo dei conti nazionali e regionali – Sec2010, ISTAT, 2014.

REFERENCE: European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010), Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013.

MEDICINE PRIZE [USA, INDIA]: Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, for treating uncontrollable nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork.

REFERENCE: Nasal Packing With Strips of Cured Pork as Treatment for Uncontrollable Epistaxis in a Patient with Glanzmann Thrombasthenia, Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology, vol. 120, no. 11, November 2011, pp. 732-36.

ARCTIC SCIENCE PRIZE [NORWAY, GERMANY]: Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.

REFERENCE: Response Behaviors of Svalbard Reindeer towards Humans and Humans Disguised as Polar Bears on Edgeøya, Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, vol. 44, no. 4, 2012, pp. 483-9.

NUTRITION PRIZE [SPAIN]: Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, and Margarita Garriga, for their study titled Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages.

REFERENCE: Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages, Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, Margarita Garriga, Food Microbiology, vol. 38, 2014, pp. 303-311 — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

Artificial Spleen Removes Ebola, HIV Viruses and Toxins From Blood Using Magnets

New Bioinspired Approach to Sepsis Therapy from Wyss Institute on Vimeo

Harvard scientists have invented a new artificial spleen that is able to clear toxins, fungi and deadly pathogens such as Ebola from human blood, which could potentially save millions of lives.

Blood can be infected by many different types of organ infections as well as contaminated medical instruments such as IV lines and catheters.

When antibiotics are used to kill them, dying viruses release toxins in the blood that begin to multiply quickly, causing sepsis, a life-threatening condition whereby the immune system overreacts, causing blood clotting, organ damage and inflammation.

It can take days to identify which pathogen is responsible for infecting the blood but most of the time, the cause is not identified, while the onset of sepsis can be hours to days. Broad-spectrum antibiotics with sometimes devastating side effects are used and currently over eight million people die from the condition worldwide annually.

Even with the best current treatments, sepsis patients are dying in intensive care units at least 30% of the time, said Dr Mike Super, senior staff scientist at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, which led the research. We need a new approach.

To overcome this, researchers have invented a biospleen, a device similar to a dialysis machine that makes use of magnetic nanobeads measuring 128 nanometres in diameter (one-five hundredths the width of a single human hair) coated with mannose-binding lectin (MBL), a type of genetically engineered human blood protein.

The study, An Extracorporeal Blood-Cleansing Device For Sepsis Therapy, has been published in the journal Nature Medicine — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

New digital map reveals stunning hidden archaeology of Stonehenge

Photo: Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project

A host of previously unknown archaeological monuments have been discovered around Stonehenge as part of an unprecedented digital mapping project that will transform our knowledge of this iconic landscape — including remarkable new findings on the world’s largest super henge, Durrington Walls.

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, led by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, is the largest project of its kind.

Remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys have discovered hundreds of new features which now form part of the most detailed archaeological digital map of the Stonehenge landscape ever produced. The startling results of the survey, unveiled in full at the British Science Festival, include 17 previously unknown ritual monuments dating to the period when Stonehenge achieved its iconic shape. Dozens of burial mounds have been mapped in minute detail, including a long barrow (a burial mound dating to before Stonehenge) which revealed a massive timber building, probably used for the ritual inhumation of the dead following a complicated sequence of exposure and excarnation (defleshing), and which was finally covered by an earthen mound.

The project has also revealed exciting new — and completely unexpected — information on previously known monuments. Among the most significant relate to the Durrington Walls super henge, situated a short distance from Stonehenge. This immense ritual monument, probably the largest of its type in the world, has a circumference of more than 1.5 kilometres (0.93 miles).

A new survey reveals that this had an early phase when the monument was flanked with a row of massive posts or stones, perhaps up to three metres high and up to 60 in number — some of which may still survive beneath the massive banks surrounding the monument. Only revealed by the cutting-edge technology used in the project, the survey has added yet another dimension to this vast and enigmatic structure — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

‘Crap’ Australian parents raising a generation of spoilt brats by not setting boundaries, psychologist warns

A prominent Australian psychologist has warned Australia is currently raising a generation of spoilt brats, because their parents are crap and never say no.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg believes today’s parents have a lot to answer for, and there may be serious long-term consequences for Australia.

Dr Carr-Gregg attributes the rise of poorly-behaved children to five major parenting problems.

The first [problem] is that there are too many parents being doormats for their kids. They have got what I call a vitamin N deficiency, which is a failure to say no.

It’s incredibly important that parents set limits and boundaries and I don’t know that that’s happening at the moment.

Dr Carr-Gregg identified the helicopter parent as another model of crap parenting he was targeting in his work.

The high-strung, control-freak parents that want to smother their kids with so much love and attention and monitoring and supervision that they never, ever develop any self-reliance and can’t solve their own problems later on — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

‘Dingo Simon’ builds sanctuary in fight to save species from extinction in wild

A Queensland disability pensioner with a love of dingoes has begun a personal crusade to save the animals from extinction in the wild.

Simon Stretton is battling biosecurity regulations and opposition from farmers as he tries to create a reservoir of purebred dingo genes to preserve wild populations.

Mr Stretton, who calls himself Dingo Simon, has started his own sanctuary at Durong in the state’s South Burnett region.

What I’m trying to do is save dingoes from extinction, basically, due to interbreeding from the wild dogs [and] also from the State Government’s excessive use of 1080 baiting, he said.

The dingo is considered to be a pest in Queensland — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

I thought long and hard about how we could incorporate a hands-on activity for mummification. Someone suggested we mummify a chicken, but I opted not to do that mainly because it sounds nasty, but also because we don’t eat meat and therefore don’t buy it. Then I heard about a project in which you can mummify fruits or veggies. Sounded a bit more like my kind of thing, but ultimately I really I wanted to do something that had more to do with the ritual aspect of mummification. So, we decided to mummify Barbie! — via Kids Activities Blog

Science

What makes tattoos permanent? / Claudia Aguirre

The earliest recorded tattoo was found on a Peruvian mummy in 6,000 BC. That’s some old ink! And considering humans lose roughly 40,000 skin cells per hour, how do these markings last? Claudia Aguirre details the different methods, machines and macrophages (you’ll see) that go into making tattoos stand the test of time.

Lesson by Claudia Aguirre, animation by TOGETHER — via Youtube

Entertainment, Science

BSSCo. Antimatter reverses the process by which subatomic energy organises into material form. Suggested for use in the dissolution of all material structures, including human and non-human bodies, all forms in nature, buildings, material planets, unwanted hair, paperwork.

Each serving of Antimatter does not provide the recommended daily allowance of anything. AntiFat, AntiSodium, and AntiProtein content have not been evaluated by the FDA. If you reside in an Anti-Universe, Antimatter will not work as indicated.

Antimatter is not a form of Invisibility. Do not attempt to use it as one!

Warning: Ordering in the same shipment as Matter is a waste of 20 bucks — via BSSCo

Health, Science

No more fillings as dentists reveal new tooth decay treatment

Scientists have developed a new pain-free filling that allows cavities to be repaired without drilling or injections.

The tooth-rebuilding technique developed at King’s College London does away with fillings and instead encourages teeth to repair themselves.

Tooth decay is normally removed by drilling, after which the cavity is filled with a material such as amalgam or composite resin.

The new treatment, called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), accelerates the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals into the damaged tooth.

A two-step process first prepares the damaged area of enamel, then uses a tiny electric current to push minerals into the repair site. It could be available within three years — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics, Science

‘I am a conservationist’ – is Abbott the only person who believes that?

In February 2012, as leader of the Greens, I made a courtesy call on Tony Abbott. He had just pipped Malcolm Turnbull in a party room vote for the leadership of the opposition. He looked straight at me and said, I am an environmentalist! I did not roll my eyes or argue. I had heard the like before. The CEO of Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission, after flooding Lake Pedder and at the height of the controversy over damming the Franklin River, maintained that he was an environmentalist. So have a string of other dam-builders, loggers and gougers of the Earth.

Quite a few embellish this absurdity by calling themselves the true or real environmentalists. Even the Japanese whale killers fire their grenade-tipped harpoons in the name of environmental science.

US president George Bush senior flew to the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 claiming to be the environmental president. One US cartoonist had him being greeted there by three other male heads-of-state with I’m Little Red Riding Hood, I’m Miss Muffet and I’m Goldilocks!.

John Howard went no further than to claim that he was greenish, but Tony Abbott is staking his claim to be the environmental prime minister. In Washington last week he repeated his self-assessment — I am a conservationist — to bewildered journalists — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

Why Is Canada’s Wolf Population Splitting Into Two Groups?

Photo Credit: Chris Darimont/Raincoast Conservation Project

Chester Starr of the Heiltsuk First Nation knows that the wolves of British Columbia come in two varieties: timber wolves on the mainland and coastal wolves on the islands. Genetic research has finally confirmed what Starr’s tribe has always known.

It was Starr’s traditional ecological knowledge that initially inspired Polish Academy of Sciences researcher Astrid V Stronen and University of Calgary scientist Erin Navid to take a closer look at British Columbia’s wolves. They wanted to see whether the Heiltsuk Nation’s folk knowledge was reflected in the wolves’ genes.

The puzzling thing is that wolves are capable of moving over vast geographical distances. They can easily travel more than 70 kilometers per day without even breaking a sweat. They can cross valleys and mountains, and can swim across rivers and even small channels of sea. Yet Stronen, Navid, and colleagues found stark genetic distinctions among wolf groups in an area just 2000 square kilometers.

Why are there such clear genetic groupings among wolf groups who ought to be able to intermix?

According to the researchers, it’s all about what they eat. Despite the tiny distances between the mainland and the islands — sometimes less than 1500 meters of water — there are tremendous ecological distinctions. The mainland is rugged and is home to tons of wildlife, while the islands are less mountainous and host fewer species. On the mainland, grizzly bears compete with wolves, but on islands, wolves are the top dogs. On the mainland, wolves can feast on moose and mountain goats. On the islands, wolves rely on marine resources, like fish, for 85% of their diets — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

45kg of Magnetic Putty / Vat19

We’ve been selling Magnetic Thinking Putty for years and have always been astounded by the burning questions we’ve received for this ever-popular item. So, we decided to do some experimentation utilising a 100-pound ball of Magnetic Thinking Putty and a ridiculously strong magnet — via Youtube

Science

Blasting bushfires with explosives / UNSW

UNSW researchers are a step closer to proving whether explosives — rather than water — can be used to extinguish an out-of-control bushfire.

Dr Graham Doig, of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, is conducting the research, which extends a long-standing technique used to put out oil well fires.

The process is not dissimilar to blowing out a candle: it relies on a blast of air to knock a flame off its fuel source.

Doig travelled to the Energetic Materials Research Testing Center — a high-explosives and bomb test site in a remote part of New Mexico — in January this year to scale up tests he originally conducted at UNSW’s heat transfer and aerodynamics laboratory.

The New Mexico tests used a four-metre steel blast tube — which contained a cardboard cylinder wrapped in detonation cord — to produce a concentrated shockwave and rush of air. This was directed at a metre-high flame fuelled by a propane burner.

The sudden change in pressure across the shockwave, and then the impulse of the airflow behind it pushed the flame straight off the fuel source. As soon as the flame doesn’t have access to fuel any more, it stops burning.

Doig hopes the concept can now be scaled up to fight out-of-control forest and bushfires burning in remote parts of the world — via Youtube

Health, Science

Homoeopathy: National Health and Medical Research Council says Australians ‘wasting money’ with the alternative therapy

Australians have been told they are wasting their money on homoeopathy, with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) reporting there is no reliable evidence homeopathic remedies are effective in treating health conditions.

The finding, which has been documented in a draft information paper, has been welcomed by some in the medical research community, who argue patients should not pay money for unproven folk remedies.

Doctor Nick Zeps, who was part of the working group that developed the paper, says the evidence that was gathered in the review would suggest that there is no reliable evidence in many instances that homoeopathy has an effect that is different from a placebo.

If it’s no better than a placebo, then objectively you could say that they [patients] were wasting their money, he said.

The finding has been supported by Emeritus Professor of medicine at the University of New South Wales, John Dwyer.

I think there’s no question … that people are relatively easily hoodwinked into thinking that these preparations might be effective, he said — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

Fraser Island dingo advocates hope new classification promises more protection

Advocates on Fraser Island off south-east Queensland say the classification of dingoes as a distinct native species will allow the animals to be better protected.

University of Sydney research has led to authorities classifying the dingo as a distinct Australian animal.

Malcolm Kilpatrick from Save Fraser Island Dingoes says it will allow purebred dingoes to be distinguished from dingo dogs.

He says purebreds need to be conserved as they play an important role in the Fraser Island ecosystem.

When you take an apex predator out of any ecological circle you’ve got a major disaster on your hands — that the next one up is going to step up and take the position of the animal that’s gone, he said.

On the mainland whether it’s a coyote or a fox or anything like that, it can be a real problem because they spare nothing.

Mr Kilpatrick says the classification will allow better dingo protection — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Fusion v Fission / NASA + GLaDOS

When a science-mad AI system (voiced by GLaDOS actress Ellen McLain) is installed at NASA, two hapless computer technicians learn the process behind nuclear fusion in the Sun, and how it differs from fission.

This video was produced by the education & public outreach department of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, focusing on STEM education. It addresses content included in the Next Generation Science Standards, PS1.C: Nuclear Processes

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Centre at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Centre at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA — via Youtube

Craft, Science

Now you have the power to create your own element! One of the greatest features of our Periodic Table cutting board design is the ability to personalise the 118th element Ununoctium. You may use this power to create an element named specifically for a person you know, or to commemorate a special occasion such as a graduation or wedding anniversary. Our Periodic Table of the Elements cutting board makes the perfect gift for science students and teachers, or anyone who just likes a little chemistry in the kitchen — via Etsy

Science

Spectroscopic Discrimination of Shit from Shinola

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research; by Thomas H. Painter, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Center for the Study of Earth from Space (CSES), University of Colorado at Boulder, USA Michael E Schaepman, Centre for Geo-Information, Wagenigen University, The Netherlands Wolf Schweizer, Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland Jason Brazile, Remote Sensing Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland

We conducted an experiment to determine whether people can tell shit from Shinola.

Shinola is a brand of shoe polish once manufactured in the United States. Today we care about Shinola only because it is part of the slang expression doesn’t know shit from Shinola, meaning is completely ignorant. Shinola is posited for comparison with shit because the two substances have a similar dark brown color and smeary consistency.

The expression now has a special degree of irony. Most people truly do not know shit from Shinola — because they have never heard of Shinola — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

New river dolphin species discovered in Amazon for first time in 100 years

Scientists have discovered a new species of dolphin in the Amazon River system for the first time in almost 100 years – and say it should immediately be given endangered status.

Experts from the Federal University of Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil found that a small group of river dolphins, also known as botos, in the Araguaia basin were separated from other populations by only a narrow canal and series of rapids.

Upon closer inspection and after DNA testing, Tomas Hrbek and his team discovered that the group was in fact a distinct species, which they suggest naming the Araguaian boto.

Publishing their research in the journal Plos One, the scientists said the Araguaian boto was most likely separated from other dolphin species more than two million years ago, and that a series of morphological and genetic differences represent strong evidence that individuals from the Araguaia River represent a distinct biological group — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

A fox has been tracked more than 40 miles (70km) away from its home range, breaking the previous British record.

The fox was named Fleet by University of Brighton researchers and fitted with a satellite tagged collar.

Scientists were surprised to record Fleet walking a total of 195 miles (315km) as he headed into the Sussex countryside from his home in the city — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Draff to dram: water cleanser created in chance study of whisky byproduct

A project to remove arsenic from groundwater in Bangladesh began by accident, when Dr Leigh Cassidy from Aberdeen University was working on technology to treat industrially contaminated water in the UK.

Cassidy, who was working on her Phd, thought draff, the residue of barley husks that is a byproduct of using grain in brewing alcohol products such as whisky, would act as a cleansing agent. The idea was brusquely dismissed by one colleague.

I was told ‘don’t be stupid it will never work’, Cassidy says. But someone else said to go ahead.

Cassidy did indeed go ahead, modifying the draff with a secret ingredient, transforming it into a cleansing agent. She is now credited as the inventor of the appropriately named Dram — she admits to trying to think of a clever name. Dram is short for device for the remediation and attenuation of multiple pollutants. Instead of using draff in Bangladesh, Dram will use local ingredients such as coconut shells or rice husks to act as the organic filter media that traps the arsenic.

The arsenic crisis in Bangladesh is considered by the World Health Organisation to be the largest mass poisoning of a population in human history. About 77 million people are at risk of arsenic poisoning despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in addressing the problem. One in five deaths in Bangladesh are due to arsenic poisoning — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Food, Science

The team at Information is Beautiful have visualised the scientific evidence — or lack thereof — behind what they dub Snake Oil Superfoods, breaking down hard data in an infinitely clickable format. Each of the coloured bubbles on the page corresponds to a specific food, but also a specific claim; so, some edibles make multiple appearances on way opposite ends of the spectrum — via Gizmodo

Science

Tequila plant agave could produce cost-effective biofuel for farmers

The agave plant has long been used to make tequila, the drink often blamed for a big night, but it could now help produce a cost-effective biofuel for Australian farmers.

The plants are being grown at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton for a science project.

Scientists say the plants are hardy so they are well suited for drought conditions.

Associate Professor Nanjappa Ashwath says the stem of the plant is used to make alcohol but the discarded leaves could be used to make biofuel.

People have been using the stem for a long time, for decades, and nobody has used the leaves to produce bioethanol, he said.

It can take five to seven years for the plants to be ready for harvesting tequila, but researchers in Rockhampton hope the leaves will be harvested all year round to make bio ethanol — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

CSIRO 3D-prints blue titanium dragon for Brisbane girl Sophie

A seven-year-old girl who wrote to the CSIRO asking for a dragon has had her dream come true.

The CSIRO has created a blue 3D titanium dragon and sent it to Sophie’s home in Brisbane.

Seven-year-old Sophie wrote to the CSIRO after her father told her about the work of the scientists there.

Would it be possible if you can make me a dragon? Sophie wrote.

I would call it Toothless if it was a girl and if it is a boy I would call it Stuart.

The CSIRO posted the letter online, telling Sophie they were looking into it.

But the letter went viral, appearing on international news sites and prompting a flood of interest, including from financial institutions who wanted to bankroll the dragon.

Even Hollywood animation studio DreamWorks got in on the act.

They said they knew how to train dragons and they wanted to speak with Sophie.

Our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire-breathing variety, the CSIRO said.

And for this, Australia, we are sorry.

The result was the birth of the CSIRO’s first dragon at the additive manufacturing facility Lab 22 in Melbourne — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

This Clear, Flexible Electronic Circuit Can Fit on the Surface of a Contact Lens

Over the past few years, electronics have evolved way past the silicon wafer. Researchers have developed functional circuits that can meld with human tissue and dissolve when sprayed with water, and stretchable batteries that could soon power wearable gadgets.

Now, a group of Swiss scientists has revealed the latest in innovative electronics: a flexible, transparent circuit that is tiny and thin enough to fit on the surface of a contact lens.

The researchers put their new device on a contact lens as a proof-of-concept in a paper published today in Nature Communications—an electronically-enabled lens, they suggest, could be useful in monitoring the intraocular pressure of people with glaucoma, for instance—but they envision the circuitry someday being implanted in all sorts of biological contexts — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Health, Science

This image is a balloon race. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble. You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supplements. These is because some supplements affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supplement another bubble — via Information Is Beautiful

Science

Terrible Twos Who Stay Terrible

To understand the violent criminal, says Richard E Tremblay, imagine a 2-year-old boy doing the things that make the terrible twos terrible — grabbing, kicking, pushing, punching, biting.

Now imagine him doing all this with the body and resources of an 18-year-old.

You have just pictured both a perfectly normal toddler and a typical violent criminal as Dr Tremblay, a developmental psychologist at University College Dublin in Ireland, sees them — the toddler as a creature who reflexively uses physical aggression to get what he wants; the criminal as the rare person who has never learned to do otherwise.

In other words, dangerous criminals don’t turn violent. They just stay that way.

These findings have been replicated in multiple large studies by several researchers on several continents — via redwolf.newsvine.com