That last picture almost looks like a render... it doesn't even look real.
An astronaut on board the International Space Station has photographed a rare sight: the aurora australis (southern lights) as seen from space.
This image of the southern lights was captured aboard the International Space Station (ISS) at an altitude of 217 miles. Aurorae usually appear slightly lower--some 50 - 100 miles above the surface of the Earth.
While the phenomenon is usually visible closer to the North and South Poles, geomagnetic storms can push the auroras closer to the equator. NASA believes this particular storm to have been caused by a coronal mass ejection from the Sun on May 24.
In the image below, the mostly-green aurora is visible above a thick cloud cover. The bent blue band is the horizon of Earth's upper atmosphere.
The image below, which shows the aurora australis from the ground, was taken in 2005 at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
That last picture almost looks like a render... it doesn't even look real.
re: Aurora Borealis: I live above the artic circle and it doesn't look real in RL either. I've seen it so many times and I am always gobsmacked at how beautiful and wonderful it is. I wish I had a great camera so I could take pictures.
God particle signal is simulated as sound
Scientists have simulated the sounds set to be made by sub-atomic particles such as the Higgs boson when they are produced at the Large Hadron Collider.
Their aim is to develop a means for physicists at Cern to "listen to the data" and pick out the Higgs particle if and when they finally detect it.
There is something unsettling about the very concept of the higgs boson for me, its verging on the point of being a particle particle, which sounds almost nonsensical at first, leading to allsorts of logical problems.
Extreme DIY: Building a homemade nuclear reactor in NYC:
Reeking in Berkeley now!
Titan arum (corpse flower) blooms in Berkeley
Twelve days ago garden director Paul Licht suspected he might have another bloom approaching when the plant, dubbed Maladora, began to swell around its base.
Then at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Maladora slowly began unfurling her hideous rotting-meat-scented petals.
This is such an amazing sentence. It could almost be from a Twilight fan fic.Maladora slowly began unfurling her hideous rotting-meat-scented petals.
We have one of those. It's much smaller of course. It really does smell like death, once a year.
Scientists Make Immune Cells in Mice That Fight Off HIV
FRIDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Research in mice suggests that scientists may have a new lead on using gene therapy against the virus that causes AIDS.
The researchers tinkered with human stem cells and then inserted them into mice where they multiplied into immune system cells that provided protection against infection with HIV, according to a study released online July 2 in Nature Biotechnology.
The results are unlike typical research in animals because the mice have been "humanized": They have human immune systems and resisted a human disease. Still, until research is conducted on humans, there's no way to know if the treatment will work in people. And it may be years until that happens.
But there are high hopes. "It's a one-shot treatment if it works," noted study co-author Paula Cannon, associate professor of molecular microbiology at the University of Southern California.
In gene therapy, doctors try to coax the human body into doing something differently by tweaking its genetic structure. To treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, scientists have been experimenting with using gene therapy to boost the immune system.
In the new study, researchers engineered human stem cells -- cells that create other cells -- to lock a kind of "door" that allows HIV to enter.
The door, a "receptor" on immune cells linked to a gene known as CCR5, is disabled in a very small percentage of people, and those people appear to be virtually immune to HIV.
"That's like nature telling us how to cure AIDS," Cannon reasoned. The idea of the experimental treatment is "to engineer a patient's own cells so they'd be resistant to HIV" in much the same way.
The researchers did this by "cutting" a gene in the stem cells. These genetically manipulated cells did try and repair the injury, Cannon noted, but they didn't do a good job and HIV's way in was essentially disabled.
The researchers inserted these tweaked stem cells into the humanized mice and other mice, then tried to infect them with HIV.
According to the scientists, the genetically engineered stem cells went on to create mature immune system cells, such as T-cells, in the humanized mice. After a couple of weeks, these new immune cells appeared to provide protection against HIV. The cells grew greatly in number, offering fewer targets for the virus to attack.
Meanwhile, the virus made its usual successful attack on other mice that had not undergone the procedure.
Rowena Johnston, vice president of research with the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) in New York City, said gene therapy is starting to show "real promise," and this study reveals a new side of its potential.
"One of the doctrines of gene therapy in the context of HIV has been the assumption that every relevant cell must be transformed," she said. "This research demonstrates that need not be the case."
But could this approach work in humans? The answer to that is yet to come, Cannon said.
"We want to make sure that this works, and a good place to start is in a patient population who already have their stem cells taken out," she said. Cannon and her colleagues would like to test it by piggybacking on a gene therapy treatment in which the stem cells of HIV-positive lymphoma patients are removed, tinkered with and then put back into their bodies.
Cannon doesn't know how much the gene therapy will cost, but one estimate puts the expense of this type of treatment for HIV at $100,000. But if it allows HIV patients to avoid taking drugs for the rest of their lives, she said, it should be cost-effective over time.
Whatever the case, the treatment isn't around the bend. Cannon said it could be four years before research in humans can begin. But another treatment that uses a similar strategy on a type of immune cell is already being tested in people.
Discovery Helps Researchers Close In on HIV Vaccine
(July 8) -- American scientists are touting a major stride toward a vaccine that can ward off HIV, after finding two key proteins that neutralize 91 percent of the virus' 190 strains.
The team of researchers with the National Institutes of Health's Vaccine Research Center hopes the antibody discovery can spur successful work toward a method of preventing HIV, which already afflicts an estimated 33 million people worldwide.
The discovery, published in this week's Science, is courtesy of Donor 45, an unidentified African-American man whose body produced the antibodies, called VRC01 and VRC02.
This image shows the atomic structure of the antibody VRC01 (blue and green) binding to HIV (grey and red). The precise site of VRC01-HIV binding (red) is a subset of the area of viral attachment to the primary immune cells HIV infects.
This image shows the antibody VRCO1, pictured in blue and green, binding to HIV, colored gray and red.
Scientists have already identified the 12 cells in his body that produced the proteins. If they can harness the mechanisms by which the antibodies were made, they might be able to create a vaccine that would spur anybody's body to make the HIV destroyers.
"We're going to be at this for a while," Gary Nabel, director of the center and a leader on this research, told The Wall Street Journal.
The last few years has seen a flurry of effort -- much of it futile -- toward creating a vaccine for HIV, much like those that helped eradicate small pox and polio. Until now, however, single antibodies only appeared to block one or two HIV strains.
Trials on the first promising vaccine, AIDSVAX, were largely a disappointment. In American and Thai trials, the vaccine yielded success rates that varied from statistically insignificant to 30 percent.
In this case, researchers seem to have found a sweet spot on the surface of the human immunodeficiency virus.
"The antibodies attach to a virtually unchanging part of the virus, and this explains why they can neutralize such an extraordinary range of HIV strains," Dr. John Mascola, one of the study's researchers, said in a statement.
Turning these newly discovered antibodies into a useful HIV vaccine remains a tall order. Scientists would need to isolate the specific part of the virus that the antibodies latch onto, then craft a vaccine using that viral snippet to train the body to produce VRC01 and VRC02.
"It's an important step in the right direction of adding a degree of precision to vaccine development," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News. "But there's no way to tell when a vaccine could happen."
Now that scientists have a better understanding of the actual virus, and areas on its surface that appear vulnerable, new tactics in treating HIV/AIDS might also be an area for further research.
"In infected people, we may be looking at it in combination with medication and determine whether you can get more effective control of the virus and suppress it down to low levels," Nabel said. "The hope would be that we could suppress the virus and increase life span and improve quality of life."
^ That really is awesome. I hope that they can zero in on it.
The Afterglow of Creation
More at the IndieYesterday, the European Space Agency released the first image of the entire sky taken by the Planck satellite which was launched last year with the aim of mapping the cosmic microwave background radiation - the afterglow of creation - in every part of the known Universe. The image was produced following the satellite's first full-scan of the entire sky. It will be used to produce the most detailed and precise picture of the background radiation left behind by the fireball of the Big Bang.
Last edited by beanstew; 07-10-2010 at 11:58 AM. Reason: removed weired utf8 entities from cut'n'paste