Episode 25

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Victoria University of Wellington. Spacecraft aims to expose violent hearts of galaxies. NASA/JPL-Caltech A deployable mast will allow the NuSTAR space telescope to image high-energy X-rays.

Spacecraft aims to expose violent hearts of galaxies

Who would have thought that a ringside seat at some of the Universe’s most extreme events could come cheap? But by the standards of space-based astronomy, the NuSTAR telescope that NASA plans to launch as early as this month has a modest budget, US$165 million. Parasite goes bananas before s*x. That got your attention, didn’t it?

parasite goes bananas before s*x

It certainly got mine when I was scanning the Science alert news page a wee while ago. The parasite in question is Plasmodium, the single-celled organism that causes malaria. (I’ve written about Plasmodium before as it has a rather interesting evolutionary history.) And the research in question was published in the Journal of Cell Science – annoyingly, my institution’s subscription excludes the most recent six months’ worth of papers, so I could only read the Science alert release. It’s an interesting story. Glow sushi! When I first heard of this (and thanks to the lovely Alan Huett for the heads up), I immediately thought it was due to the common bioluminescent bacteria often found on fish and which can show themselves if said fish is left too long before eating.

Glow sushi!

It turns out to be sushi made using genetically modified fluorescent zebrafish (GloFish®). Sold in the USA by Yorktown Technologies, GloFish® available are currently available in five colours (Starfire Red®, Electric Green®, Sunburst Orange®, Cosmic Blueâ„¢ and Galactic Purpleâ„¢). They were developed by incorporating genes for fluorescent proteins, originally derived from jellyfish or sea coral, into zebrafsh embryos. While Yorktown advise that, as with other ornamental fish, GloFish® are not intended for human consumption, Cooking with GloFish offers suggestions* on how to prepare such delicacies as “stop and glow nigirizushi” and “kryptonite roll”.

Gaming the system. In an earlier post I noted the emergence of game playing to solve real world problems.

Gaming the system

As you may expect, Silicon Valley is establishing companies to do this. One is Innovation Games. They are already working with some large multinational companies to help improve strategy and determine which products to focus on, as well as using games for more mundane things like figure out how to prioritise. Smallest periodic table fits on the side of human hair (w/ Video) Scientists at The University of Nottingham have written what they believe is the world's smallest periodic table -- on the side of a human hair.

Smallest periodic table fits on the side of human hair (w/ Video)

The table is so small that a million of them could be replicated on a typical post-it note. Experts from the University’s Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre used a sophisticated combination of ion beam writer and electron microscope to carve the symbol of all 118 elements into the strand of hair taken from the head of Professor Martyn Poliakoff, an expert in Green Chemistry.

You can see how it was done: Professor Poliakoff said: “Although the application was lighthearted I felt that it enabled us to show people how such nano writing is done. My Feedly. Fund Science and Explore the World with Renowned Researchers - Petridish.

Boffins render fibre obsolete. High performance access to file storage.

Boffins render fibre obsolete

How IBM's Deep Thunder delivers "hyper-local" forecasts 3-1/2 days out. Predicting the weather accurately is a hard enough computing problem.

How IBM's Deep Thunder delivers "hyper-local" forecasts 3-1/2 days out

Predicting the weather for a specific location down to a square kilometer—and how it will affect the people and infrastructure there—is a problem of a much different sort. And it's that sort of "hyper-local" forecasting that IBM’s Deep Thunder aims to provide. Unlike the long-term strategic weather forecasts that many companies rely on to plan business, Deep Thunder is focused on much more short-term forecasts, predicting everything from where flooding and downed power lines will likely occur to where winds will be too high for parade balloons up to 84 hours into the future. IBM executives hope Deep Thunder, which has been in development since 1996, will become a must-have tool for local governments, utility companies, and other organizations with weather-sensitive needs. So far, major utilities and other commercial customers aren't biting. Models upon models.

Scientists Have Identified a Completely New Human Species from China. World's Smallest Race Car Sets Record for Fastest Nanoscale 3D Printing. Posted by Ray | 13 Mar 2012 | Comments (0) As ever, 3D printing is at the threshold of cultural consciousness, almost-but-not-quite the next major innovation in consumer technology.

World's Smallest Race Car Sets Record for Fastest Nanoscale 3D Printing

While hardware remains a bit too niche for the average user, plenty of brilliant DIYers and hackers have been developing new tools and applications for 3D printing technology, typically with the goal of making bigger, more colorful tchotchkes. Genetic testing? We’ve got an app for that. Mysterious hog farm explosions stump scientists. A strange new growth has emerged from the manure pits of midwestern hog farms.

Mysterious hog farm explosions stump scientists

The results are literally explosive. Since 2009, six farms have blown up after methane trapped in an unidentified, pit-topping foam caught a spark. In the afflicted region, the foam is found in roughly 1 in 4 hog farms.