Dr. Simos’ presentation on Tesla was eye-opening as well as mathematically and theoretically rigorous in showing that some of Tesla’s ideas that were dismissed over a century ago are now seen in a different light. This due to looking back and showing that the ideas, far advanced for the time, are now shown to comply with Maxwell’s equations and do not violate any classical laws of mathematics or physics as once thought.The presentation was based on what we understand as classical, mainstream physics to help us understand what Tesla was talking about with his brilliant theories. Dr. Simos showed that certain far-reaching assertions or experimental observations made by Tesla were within fundamental laws.
Tesla was a scientist of electromagnetic theory according to Maxwell’s equations; fluid mechanics exemplified by his energy bladeless turbine concept in 1892; resonance, Tesla stated, as “Everything oscillates” in the earth-ultimately, a few years later, a complete set of resonance curves was calculated and the earth’s two eigenvalues were determined (See the book Advances in Geophysics edited by Helmut Erich Landsberg). Resonance was Tesla’s key to efficient transmission and reception of radio signals.
Dr. Simos also discussed the narrow areas of inconsistencies in Maxwell’s equations which manage to describe most governing principles but is not the “Holy Grail” of electromagnetics. There exist discontinuous or singular solutions which are not allowed in Maxwell’s mathematics—Absence of point-wise concentrated charges and avoidance of singular solutions do exist as we have found out in modern science.
We now accept wireless energy transmission as a capacitive effect. Tesla envisioned a capacitor on a grand scale. While in Colorado Springs he tested large discharges that returned un-diminished. He had created a singularity. In today’s electromagnetics we know that there are transversal waves (Hertzian) and Longitudinal waves (Vortex rings). He was exciting modes, not waves. Applying a high voltage discharge here and across the globe there was an instant effect from it. Tesla used to say “ride” the modes; that is, pick up the “ride” with energy already there.
He had found that a resonant frequency of 8 Hz was made by the earth and the ionosphere spherical capacitor effect. In 1952 Schumann said that 8 Hz was the self-oscillation of the earth and ionosphere—–50 years later!
Tesla aimed to use the strata 80 km above which was the ionosphere to transmit an electrical energy across the globe from Shoreham, Long Island to Ireland. He was not sure how to send power to so high an altitude, but conceived a plasma-type conductor that might do it. We use that effect today at the National Laboratories around the world.
Electrostatic induction is a capacitive coupling effect. He would have an energy-sucking antenna in Ireland and send the plasma wave from Shoreham up his tower into the ionosphere and it would travel across the ionosphere as if it were a current traveling the easiest path to return to its source back down a tower in Ireland and into the earth closing the circuit back to the Shoreham tower!
MIT’s “Witricity” is proving the Tesla theory! It is on a larger scale than anyone ever dreamed, but still not to the extent that Tesla envisioned it—-give science a little more time and another of Tesla’s theories may be proved.
MIT’s demonstration of wireless power transfer showed a 60 watt light bulb being illuminated from a power source over 2 meters away
More important than simply proving they could illuminate a light bulb, the experiment validated their theoretical models of how electric power is wirelessly transferred as a function of the geometry, distance, and electrical properties of the devices used.
Posted by Informant_News on Sunday, May 06, 2012 @ 19:36:30 MDT (1848 reads) (Read More... | 4529 bytes more | Tech | Score: 4.4)
"Researchers from universities in Los Angeles, California, Tempe, Arizona and Siena, Italy have published a paper in the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences (IJASS) citing the results of their work with data obtained by NASA's Viking mission."
"There's a tiny moon orbiting beyond Saturn's rings that's full of promise, and maybe -- just maybe -- microbes. In a series of tantalizingly close flybys to the moon, named "Enceladus," NASA's Cassini spacecraft has revealed watery jets erupting from what may be a vast underground sea. These jets, which spew through cracks in the moon's icy shell, could lead back to a habitable zone that is uniquely accessible in all the solar system."
I am a biologist. Back in the day I ran many NASA peer review panels for exobiology research and helped plan NASA's initial astrobiology program. I run astrobiology.com and would absolutely love this story to be true i.e. microbes raining on Enceladus but ... its not true - at least no one has proved it. Dr. Porco's guesses are imaginative and inspired and are not without some strong supporting data but they are just guesses - and Cassini does not have any way to prove that there is anything alive in these plumes. So yes, "let's go back".
As for Gil Levin's Viking research, a quick check will show that this journal is mostly run by Korean scientists and seems to have little stated expertise when it comes to astrobiology or exobiology (at least none that I can determine). Levin regularly publishes re-written papers that all point back to a claim that he has been making for decades i.e. that his experiment on the Viking landers found life on Mars - or at least some solid evidence of its possible existence. Who knows, Mars is a much different world than we thought it was back in the 1970s. Again, I'd be ecstatic if his claims turn out to be true but no one really agrees with him.
Why am I being such a wet blanket? At a time when climate change deniers are criticizing NASA for the way it selects and interprets its science, one would think that the agency would at least exercise a little more caution in putting things on its official websites that either jump to conclusions, or prompt the reader to do so. Indeed, I cannot find a simple policy that the agency adheres to in this regard. Not to have a clear policy that is enforced simply makes it harder for NASA to refute some of the attacks that others throw against it.
After last year's fiasco with the 'life in meteorites' paper claims by NASA MSFC's Richard Hoover, you'd think SMD and the Astrobiology Institute would be paying a little closer attention to this matter. I have sent comments to NASA's astrobiology folks but no one bothers to respond.
Posted by Informant_News on Friday, April 27, 2012 @ 18:53:59 MDT (1463 reads) (Read More... | 15546 bytes more | Misc | Score: 4.25)
Tech: Bionic eyes to be tested on humans next year
By Andrew Webster
Researchers in Australia plan to begin testing a bionic eye prototype on human patients in 2013. The new device is being developed by Bionic Vision Australia, and is aimed at helping patients with genetic eye conditions see large objects like buildings and cars. It includes an implanted chip that uses 98 separate electrodes to stimulate the patient's retina so that they can "perceive vision."
"I THINK TO CREATE A BIONIC EYE IS EQUIVALENT TO TRYING TO CREATE A TELEVISION AS COMPARED TO A RADIO."
The set-up involves a camera built-in to a pair of glasses, which captures images and then transfers them to an external device (attached by a wire) for processing. The data is then sent to the implant, which stimulates the retina, before the information finally reaches the vision processing centers in the brain. Called the "wide-view device," the implant isn't the only prototype the team is working on — a more accurate "high-acuity device," which could help patients recognize faces and even read large print, is expected to go into testing in 2014.
James Cameron back on surface after deepest ocean dive
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News, Guam
James Cameron: "It's a heck of a ride, you're just screaming down and screaming back up"
Hollywood director James Cameron has returned to the surface after plunging nearly 11km (seven miles) down to the deepest place in the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific.
He made the solo descent in a submarine called Deepsea Challenger, taking over two hours to reach the bottom.
He spent more than four hours exploring the ocean floor, before a speedy ascent back to the surface.
His craft was kitted out with cameras so he could film the deep in 3D.
"It was absolutely the most remote, isolated place on the planet," Mr Cameron told BBC News.
"I really feel like in one day I've been to another planet and come back."
This is only the second manned expedition to the ocean's deepest depths - the first took place in 1960 when US Navy Lt Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard spent about 20 minutes on the ocean floor in a bathyscaphe called the Trieste.
Lt Walsh, who is now in his 80s, joined Mr Cameron and his team of engineers out at sea for the dive.
"It did bring back a lot of memories, just being out there and remembering what we did there," he told BBC News. "It was really grand."
Mr Cameron has spent the past few years working in secret with his team of engineers to design and build the craft, which weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 7m (23ft) long.
He describes it as a "vertical torpedo" that slices through the water allowing him a speedy descent.
The extraordinary attention to detail prevented him from suffering from too much nervousness.
"I can't say that I wasn't apprehensive in the last few days and even the weeks leading up to this, but there's another part of my mind that really understands the engineering and knows why we did everything the way we did," he said.
"Any apprehension I had I left at the hatch. When I went into the sub, I was all pilot at that point."
Ocean trench: Scroll 11,000m down
The tiny compartment that the film-maker sits in is made from thick steel, which is able to resist the 1,000 atmospheres of pressure he experienced at full ocean depth.
The rest of the vertical column is made from a material called syntactic foam - a solid made mostly of hollow "microballoons" - giving it enough buoyancy to float back up.
The sub has so many lights and cameras that it is like an underwater TV studio - with Mr Cameron able to direct and film the action from within. He intends to release a documentary.
It also has robotic arms, allowing him to collect samples of rocks and soils, and a team of researchers are working alongside the director to identify any new species. He says that science is key to his mission.
But the first task was to get to the inky depths - which despite untold hours of training, still surprised Mr Cameron.
"My reference frame was going to the Titanic 10 or 12 years ago, and thinking that was the deepest place I could ever imagine," he recalled.
"On this dive I blazed past Titanic depth at 12,000 ft and was only a third of the way down, and the numbers keep going up and up and up on the depth gauge.
"You just kind of look at them with a sense of disbelief, and you wonder if the bottom is ever going to be there."
At the bottom, Mr Cameron encountered incredibly fine silt, which he had to be careful not to disturb. He said he spotted a few small, as-yet unidentified life forms but found the depths to be a "sterile, almost desert-like place".
While manned exploration had until now seen a 52-year hiatus, scientists have used two robotic unmanned vehicles to explore the Mariana Trench: Japan's Kaiko made a dive there in 1995 and the US-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's vessel Nereus explored the deep in 2008.
Other teams, such as Scotland's Oceanlab, have also been dropping simple landers loaded with bait and cameras into the deepest ocean.
While places like the Mariana Trench were once thought to be of little interest, there has been a recent resurgence of scientific interest in the deep.
Scientists are finding life that can resist the colossal pressures, from deep-sea fish to shrimp-like scavengers called amphipods, some of which can reach 30cm (1ft) long.
They are also trying to understand the role that deep seas trenches play in earthquakes - these cracks in the sea floor are formed at the boundary of two tectonic plates and some believe the push and pull taking place deep underwater could be the cause of major earthquakes, such as the 2011 quake that resulted in such devastation in Japan.
But some scientists question whether manned exploration provides the best platform for scientific research.
Dr Alan Jamieson, from Oceanlab, said: "I think what James Cameron has done is a really good achievement in terms of human endeavour and technology.
"But my feeling is that manned submersibles like this are limited in scientific capabilities when compared to other systems, mostly due to the fact there is someone in it. Remote or autonomous systems can collect a far greater volume of useful scientific data for far less money."
Mr Cameron says he does not want this dive to the deep to be a one-off, and wants to use it as a platform for ocean exploration.
His craft may also soon be joined by other manned submersibles vying to reach the ocean's deepest depths.
One of these crafts, the DeepFlight Challenger, belongs to former real estate investor Chris Welsh, and is backed by Virgin's Richard Branson. It is about to begin its water trials.
Its design is based on a plane, and Mr Welsh says he will be "flying" down to the deepest ocean.
Google's Eric Schmidt has helped to finance another sub being built by a US marine technology company called Doer Marine. They want this sub to carry two to three people, and are placing a heavy emphasis on science.
And Triton submarines, a Florida-based submersible company, intends to build a sub with a giant glass sphere at its centrepiece to take tourists down to the deepest ocean for $250,000 a ticket.
Posted by Informant_News on Monday, March 26, 2012 @ 15:22:37 MDT (1796 reads) (Read More... | 7309 bytes more | Global News | Score: 4.25)
Global News: Mysterious Objects at the Edge of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
The human eye is crucial to astronomy. Without the ability to see, the luminous universe of stars, planets and galaxies would be closed to us, unknown forever. Nevertheless, astronomers cannot shake their fascination with the invisible.
Outside the realm of human vision is an entire electromagnetic spectrum of wonders. Each type of light--from radio waves to gamma-rays--reveals something unique about the universe. Some wavelengths are best for studying black holes; others reveal newborn stars and planets; while others illuminate the earliest years of cosmic history.
NASA has many telescopes "working the wavelengths" up and down the electromagnetic spectrum. One of them, the Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope orbiting Earth, has just crossed a new electromagnetic frontier.
A new ScienceCast video takes viewers on a trip to the edge of the electromagnetic spectrum, where mysterious objects are puzzling astronomers. Play video below.
"Fermi is picking up crazy-energetic photons," says Dave Thompson, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "And it's detecting so many of them we've been able to produce the first all-sky map of the very high energy universe."
“This is what the sky looks like near the very edge of the electromagnetic spectrum, between 10 billion and 100 billion electron volts.”
The light we see with human eyes consists of photons with energies in the range 2 to 3 electron volts. The gamma-rays Fermi detects are billions of times more energetic, from 20 million to more than 300 billion electron volts. These gamma-ray photons are so energetic, they cannot be guided by the mirrors and lenses found in ordinary telescopes. Instead Fermi uses a sensor that is more like a Geiger counter than a telescope. If we could wear Fermi's gamma ray "glasses," we'd witness powerful bullets of energy – individual gamma rays – from cosmic phenomena such as supermassive black holes and hypernova explosions. The sky would be a frenzy of activity.
Before Fermi was launched in June 2008, there were only four known celestial sources of photons in this energy range. "In 3 years Fermi has found almost 500 more,” says Thompson.
What lies within this new realm?
"Mystery, for one thing," says Thompson. "About a third of the new sources can't be clearly linked to any of the known types of objects that produce gamma rays. We have no idea what they are."
The rest have one thing in common: prodigious energy.
An artist's concept of giant 'Fermi bubbles' emerging from the heart of the Milky Way.
"Among them are super massive black holes called blazars; the seething remnants of supernova explosions; and rapidly rotating neutron stars called pulsars.”
And some of the gamma rays seem to come from the 'Fermi bubbles' – giant structures emanating from the Milky Way's center and spanning some 20,000 light years above and below the galactic plane.
Exactly how these bubbles formed is another mystery.
Now that the first sky map is complete, Fermi is working on another, more sensitive and detailed survey.
"In the next few years, Fermi should reveal something new about all of these phenomena, what makes them tick, and why they generate such 'unearthly' levels of energy," says David Paneque, a leader in this work from the Max Planck Institute in Germany.
For now, though, there are more unknowns than knowns about "Fermi's world."
The Citroen EGGO concept by Damnjan Mitic is the electric coupe powered by 4 motors built in to each wheel that can be supplemented with power from a solar panel roof. "The egg shaped provides a compact, strong structure & glass, scissor-style doors ensure total visibility of the area around the vehicle. ATV-like suspension makes for a comfy, adjustable, & weather-ready driving experience." Very unusual and fresh concept!
Posted by Informant_News on Saturday, March 24, 2012 @ 18:48:17 MDT (1922 reads) (Read More... | 1030 bytes more | Tech | Score: 4.75)
Tech: Big Brother can now single you out in a crowd
Blending into the background may become a thing of the past. A new Japanese security camera has the ability to search millions of faces with one click. An image captured on the Orwellian invention can also search other databases to track people.
Representatives from device’s creators Hitachi say the camera uses image-recognition software in combination with algorithms that group similar faces together to create a thumbnail photo of a person.
Where before authorities would have spent hours trawling through CCTV footage, an individual can now be found in the blink of an eye. The camera can search a staggering 36 million faces in less than a second for a match of the thumbnail photo.
Furthermore, once the image is saved it can be used to search other databases for a match.
Despite the technology’s undeniable potential for surveillance purposes, it does have a few limitations. Namely, it can only scan faces within a 30 degree angle of the camera and the images must be 40x40 pixels in size.
“We think this system is suitable for customers that have a relatively large-scale surveillance system, such as railways, power companies, law enforcement, and large stores,” says Hitachi.
The camera is expected in appear on the market next year and provides governments with a tremendous scope for keeping tabs on their citizens.
Information is freely and widely available on the internet, so it seems the challenge is no longer the acquisition of data, but processing it.
In this respect the camera is reminiscent of the FBI’s new initiative that will allow them to automatically filter information from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The system, reportedly under development, highlights key information and threats and displays it in a map format.
The information gathered through social networking internet sites will then be amalgamated with additional data such as US domestic and worldwide terror intelligence, US embassies and military installations and video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras.
Robonaut technology coming to the factory floor or space station soon
General Motors and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries.
The Human Grasp Assist device, known internally in both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, resulted from GM and NASA's Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which launched the first human-like robot into space in 2011. R2 is a permanent resident of the International Space Station.
When engineers, researchers and scientists from GM and NASA began collaborating on R2 in 2007, one of the design requirements was for the robot to operate tools designed for humans, alongside astronauts in outer space and factory workers on Earth. The team achieved an unprecedented level of hand dexterity on R2 by using leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand.
Research shows that continuously gripping a tool can cause fatigue in hand muscles within a few minutes. Initial testing of the Robo-Glove indicates the wearer can hold a grip longer and more comfortably.
"When fully developed, the Robo-Glove has the potential to reduce the amount of force that an auto worker would need to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions," said Dana Komin, GM's manufacturing engineering director, Global Automation Strategy and Execution. "In so doing, it is expected to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury."
For example, an astronaut working in a pressurized suit outside the space station or an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15-20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation but with the robotic glove only five-to-10 pounds of force might need to be applied.
"The prototype glove offers my space suit team a promising opportunity to explore new ideas, and challenges our traditional thinking of what extravehicular activity hand dexterity could be," said Trish Petete, division chief, Crew and Thermal Systems Division, NASA Johnson Space Center.
Inspired by the finger actuation system of R2, actuators are embedded into the upper portion of the glove to provide grasping support to human fingers. The pressure sensors, similar to the sensors that give R2 its sense of touch are incorporated into the fingertips of the glove to detect when the user is grasping a tool. When the user grasps the tool, the synthetic tendons automatically retract, pulling the fingers into a gripping position and holding them there until the sensor is released. GM and NASA have submitted 46 patent applications for R2, including 21 for R2's hand and four for the Robo-Glove alone.
The first prototype of the glove was completed in March 2011 with a second generation arriving three months later. The fabric for the glove was produced by Oceaneering Space Systems, the same company that provided R2's "skin."
The current prototypes weigh about two pounds and include the control electronics, actuators and a small display for programming and diagnostics. An off-the-shelf lithium-ion power-tool battery with a belt-clip is used to power the system. A third-generation prototype that will use repackaged components to reduce the size and weight of the system is nearing completion.
"We are continuously looking for ways to improve safety and productivity on the shop floor," Komin said. "Our goal is to bring this technology to the shop floor in the near future."
NASA and GM have a long, rich history of partnering on key technologies, starting in the 1960s with the development of the navigation systems for the Apollo missions. GM also played a vital role in the development of the Lunar Rover Vehicle, the first vehicle used on the moon.
The Human Grasp Assist, based on the robotic hand of General Motors' and NASA's Robonaut 2, is designed to allow the wearer to hold a grip longer and more comfortably. The glove, still in prototype stage, is expected to be used in space and applied to manufacturing plant use on Earth.
The Human Grasp Assist, based on the robotic hand of GM and NASA's Robonaut 2, uses leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand. The glove, still in prototype stage, is expected to be used in space and applied to manufacturing plant use on Earth.
About General Motors
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM's brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com. About NASA Johnson Space Center
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. Since February 2006, NASA's mission statement has been to "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research." The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is the NASA's center for human spaceflight training, research and flight control in Houston, Texas, USA. Johnson Space Center is home to the United States astronaut corps and is responsible for training astronauts from both the U.S. and its international partners.
Posted by Informant_News on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 16:50:06 MDT (1658 reads) (Read More... | 6841 bytes more | Tech | Score: 4)
Tech: Half-Price Solar Panels Thanks to An Ion Cannon
Twin Creeks Technologies is a new startup that says it has sliced the price of producing solar panels in half—using an ion cannon. According to the company, it can produce solar cells for about 40 cents per watt compared to the 80 cents it costs now.
Producing solar panels is expensive in part because it's costly and wasteful to produce the super-thin silicon wafers which make up solar cells. As Technology Review reports:
The conventional way to make the crystalline silicon wafers-which account for the bulk of solar cells-involves cutting blocks or cylinders of silicon into 200-micrometer-thick wafers, a process that turns about half of the silicon into waste. The industry uses 200-micrometer wafers because wafers much thinner than that are brittle and tend to break on the manufacturing line. But in theory, they could be as thin as 20 to 30 micrometers and still be just as efficient, or more efficient, at converting sunlight into electricity.
That's where the ion cannon comes in. Twin Creeks uses a huge Hyperion particle accelerator to slice the wafers. According to Twin Creeks the Hyperion is ten times more powerful than any other ion cannon used in commercial industry. This allows the company to produce solar cells near the theoretical minimum width. Not only does this mean Twin Creeks is using less silicon per wafer, but the ion cannon's precision means there's almost no waste produced in the process.
Twin Creeks has secured $93 million to build its solar factory so hopefully these cheap solar cells will be hitting the market—and making solar power far more feasible than it has been in the past—soon. [Technology Review via Extreme Tech]
Image via Technology Review
Posted by Informant_News on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 10:04:24 MDT (1427 reads) (Read More... | 8561 bytes more | Tech | Score: 4.25)
Misc: LSD may help alcoholics give up drinking, says study
WASHINGTON: The mind-altering hallucinogenic drug LSD could help alcoholics give up drinking, a new study has claimed.
Researchers in Norway, who analysed six previous studies of alcoholism treatment performed in the 1960s, found that LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) had a "significant beneficial effect" on alcohol abuse, which lasted several months after the drug was taken. One of the most powerful hallucinogens ever identified, the drug appears to work by blocking a chemical in the brain called serotonin that controls functions like perception, behaviour, hunger and mood.
In the studies, which involved over 530 heavy drinkers and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, two-thirds of the alcoholic were given LSD while others given comparison treatments . It was found that 59% of the LSD users avoided relapsing into alcohol abuse, compared with 38% of the others. This effect was maintained six months after taking the hallucinogen, but it disappeared after a year.
Those taking LSD also reported higher levels of abstinence, the researchers said.
"LSD worked in an entirely different way than any current psychiatric drugs," study author Teri Krebs of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology was quoted as saying by LiveScience . "Many patients said they had gained a new appreciation for their alcohol problem and new motivation to address it."
"Alcoholism is serious and often deadly. We need new treatment options," co-researcher Pal-Orjan Johansen said, suggesting that given the evidence for a beneficial effect of the drug, "it is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked".
Richard Ries, an addiction psychiatrist at the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry cautioned that little is known about LSD's effects.
Posted by Informant_News on Sunday, March 11, 2012 @ 19:14:25 MDT (11181 reads) (Read More... | 2326 bytes more | Misc | Score: 3.8)
The historical development of ground based astronomical telescopes leads us to expect that space-based astronomical telescopes will need to be operational for many decades. The exchange of scientific instruments in space will be a prerequisite for the long lasting scientific success of such missions. Operationally, the possibility to repair or replace key spacecraft components in space will be mandatory.
We argue that these requirements can be fulfilled with robotic missions and see the development of the required engineering as the main challenge. Ground based operations, scientifically and technically, will require a low operational budget of the running costs. These can be achieved through enhanced autonomy of the spacecraft and mission independent concepts for the support of the software. This concept can be applied to areas where the mirror capabilities do not constrain the lifetime of the mission.
N. Schartel Comments: 4 pages, accepted in February 2012 for publication in AN Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM) arXiv:1202.4884 [pdf, ps, other]
Posted by Informant_News on Thursday, February 23, 2012 @ 14:16:54 MST (1686 reads) (Read More... | 4379 bytes more | Tech | Score: 4.5)
By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News, Vancouver
Government experts tracked a new ozone hole,
but were not allowed to give interviews
The Canadian government has been accused of "muzzling" its scientists.
Speakers at a major science meeting being held in Canada said communication of vital research on health and environment issues is being suppressed.
But one Canadian government department approached by the BBC said it held the communication of science as a priority.
Prof Thomas Pedersen, a senior scientist at the University of Victoria, said he believed there was a political motive in some cases.
"The Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) is keen to keep control of the message, I think to ensure that the government won't be embarrassed by scientific findings of its scientists that run counter to sound environmental stewardship," he said.
"I suspect the federal government would prefer that its scientists don't discuss research that points out just how serious the climate change challenge is."
The Canadian government recently withdrew from the Kyoto protocol to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The allegation of "muzzling" came up at a session of the AAAS meeting to discuss the impact of a media protocol introduced by the Conservative government shortly after it was elected in 2008.
The protocol requires that all interview requests for scientists employed by the government must first be cleared by officials. A decision as to whether to allow the interview can take several days, which can prevent government scientists commenting on breaking news stories.
Sources say that requests are often refused and when interviews are granted, government media relations officials can and do ask for written questions to be submitted in advance and elect to sit in on the interview.
Andrew Weaver, an environmental scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, described the protocol as "Orwellian"
The protocol states: "Just as we have one department we should have one voice. Interviews sometimes present surprises to ministers and senior management. Media relations will work with staff on how best to deal with the call (an interview request from a journalist). This should include asking the programme expert to respond with approved lines."
Professor Weaver said that information is so tightly controlled that the public is "left in the dark".
"The only information they are given is that which the government wants, which will then allow a supporting of a particular agenda," he said.
The leak was obtained and reported three years ago by Margaret Munro, who is a science writer for Postmedia News, based in Vancouver. Speaking at the AAAS meeting, she said its effect was to suppress scientific debate on issues of public interest.
"The more controversial the story, the less likely you are to talk to the scientists. They (government media relations staff) just stonewall. If they don't like the question you don't get an answer."
Ms Munro cited several examples of what she described as the "muzzling" of scientists by the government.
Research on falling salmon stocks was published in a leading journal
The most notorious case is of that of Dr Kristi Miller, who is head of molecular genetics for the Department for Fisheries and Oceans. Dr Miller had been investigating why salmon populations in western Canada were declining.
The investigation, which was published in one of the leading scientific journals in the world, Science, seemed to suggest that fish might have been exposed to a virus associated with cancer.
The suggestion raised many questions, including whether the virus might have been imported by the local aquaculture industry.
The journal felt this to be an important study and put out a press release, which it sent out to thousands of journalists across the world. Dr Miller was named as the principal contact.
However, the government declined all requests to interview Dr Miller. It said it was because she was due to give evidence to a judicial inquiry on the issue of falling fish stocks.
According to Ms Munro, because reporters were denied the opportunity to question Dr Miller about her work, important public policy issues went unanswered.
"You have a government that is micromanaging the message, obsessively. The Privy Council Office (which works for the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper) seems to vet everything that goes out to the media," she said.
A spokeswoman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada told BBC News: "The Department works daily to ensure it provides the public with timely, accurate, objective and complete information about our policies, programmes, services and initiatives, in accordance with the Federal Government's Communications Policy.
"In 2011, Fisheries and Oceans publicly issued 286 science advisory reports documenting our research on Canada's fisheries; our scientists respond to approximately 380 science-based media calls every year."
Fisheries and Oceans Canada declined a request by the BBC to interview Kristi Miller for this article. Dr Miller told us she would have been willing to be interviewed had her department given her permission.
The AAAS meeting's discussion on muzzling is organised by freelance science reporter Binh An Vu Van. She says fellow journalists across Canada are finding it "harder and harder" to get access to government scientists.
Ms Vu Van claims that as well as "clear-cut cases of muzzling", such as the one involving Dr Miller, media relations officers use more subtle methods. She said that when she requests an interview, she has to enter into prolonged email correspondence to speak to a scientist she knows is ready and willing to be interviewed, often to be declined or offered another scientist she does not want to interview.
"It's so hard to get hold of scientists that a lot of my colleagues have given up," she explained.
Ms Munro cited another example of research published in another leading scientific journal, Nature, that was published last October.
An international team including several scientists from the government agency, Environment Canada, set out details of a hole that appeared in the ozone layer above the Arctic.
Ms Munro said she had called one of the scientists involved who she had dealt with several times in the past. He agreed to speak to her, but said that he had been told that her request had to be put to government media relations officials in Ottawa.
"So I phoned up Ottawa and they just said no you can't talk to the guy. A couple of weeks later, he was available but by then the story had been done. So they take them out of the news cycle," she said.
Ms Munro also claims that journalists were denied access to scientists working for the government agency Health Canada last year, when there was concern about radiation levels reaching the country's western coast from Japan following the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Ultimately, journalists obtained the information they sought from European agencies.
The Postmedia News journalist obtained documents relating to interview requests using Canada's equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act. She said the documents show interview requests move up what she describes as an "increasingly thick layer of media managers, media strategists, deputy ministers, then go up to the Privy Council Office, which decides 'yes' or 'no'".
"The government has never explained what the process is. They just imposed these changes and they expected us to sit back and take it," she explained.
Professor Andrew Weaver believes that the media protocol is being used by the Canadian government to "instruct scientists to deliver a certain message, thereby taking the heat out of controversial topics".
He added: "You can't have an informed discussion if the science isn't allowed to be communicated. Public relations message number one is that you have to set the conversation. You don't want to have a conversation on someone else's terms. And this is now being applied to science on discussions about oil sands, climate and salmon."
HOUSTON -- Officials with the Conrad Foundation today announced the names of 15 high school teams from across the country and the Isle of Man that will compete in the final round of the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge. The annual competition, presented by Lockheed Martin Corporation and PepsiCo, challenges high school student teams around the globe to combine innovation and entrepreneurship along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to create commercially-viable products to solve global and local challenges.
"Our Spirit of Innovation Challenge encourages students to design the future by focusing on some of the world's most pressing issues," said Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation. "Once again with this year's competition, the students have amazed us with their concepts to solve 21st Century Challenges. I like to call them the Innovation Generation. By combining STEM education with innovation and entrepreneurship, these high school students will be the innovative workforce of tomorrow."
Finalist teams will present their product concepts at the Innovation Summit, March 29-31, to a panel of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs, government officials and world-renowned scientists at NASA Ames Research Center in Northern California. Products will be evaluated for technical content and marketplace viability.
Prior to the Summit, from March 12 to March 23, the public will have the opportunity to select the People's Choice Award winner by viewing finalist team videos and voting on their favorite innovative product. To review each team and their projects, visit http://www.conradawards.org/pages/finalists.
This year's competition challenged students to develop new ideas in the areas of aerospace exploration, clean energy, and health and nutrition. The finalist teams in each category include:
Aerospace Exploration: creating an innovative product for use in the aerospace industry - vehicles, spacesuits, planetary exploration, satellites, space medicine, Earth observation and more.
* Flex; Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Va.
* Frontier Space Industries; Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, Va.
* Infinity; West Salem High School, West Salem, Wis.
* Moonwalking Manakins; Cinco Ranch High School, Katy, Texas
* Stellar Strips; North Carolina School of Science and Math, Durham, N.C.
Clean Energy: creating an innovative product to address energy efficiency; energy storage; solar, geothermal and wind energy; biomass fuels; and renewable energy solutions to improve everyday life.
* Bright Ideas!; Sustainability Workshop, Philadelphia, Pa.
* Humatics; Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, Calif.
* Maverick Robots; Eastern Technical High School, Baltimore, Md.
* Operation Gulliver International; Gulliver Preparatory, Miami, Fla.
* The Bros; North Carolina School of Science and Math, Durham, N.C.
Health and Nutrition: creating solutions that address growing more nutritious food with less water and land; creating better eating habits amongst youth; and encouraging healthy lifestyles through products and innovations.
* Allergy Watch; Whitehorse High School, Montezuma Creek, Utah
* Ballet, Autism, and Mirror Neurons; Milken Community High School, Los Angeles, Calif.
* FOOGLE; St. Ninians High School, Douglas, Isle of Man
* Lettuce help you grow!; Abraham Lincoln High School, Philadelphia, Pa.
* Team H2O; St. Francis Academy, Baltimore, Md.
Each category's winning team will be recognized as Pete Conrad Scholars and will receive a Next Step Grant of $5,000 to continue product development.
About The Conrad Foundation
The Conrad Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to transforming the current methods of teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in high schools. Its Spirit of Innovation Challenge is free to all who wish to participate and reaches all socio-economic levels. The Foundation is the only organization of its kind to combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship to inspire solutions for achieving global sustainability. For more information, visit www.conradawards.org.
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Kim Nahas, Griffin Communications Group
(281) 335-0200 (office)
Posted by Informant_News on Friday, February 17, 2012 @ 13:39:07 MST (1546 reads) (Read More... | 15089 bytes more | Space News | Score: 5)
Global News: Microbial oasis discovered beneath the Atacama Desert
Microbes grow in salt crystals below the Atacama Desert. Credit: Parro et al. /CAB/SINC
Two metres below the surface of the Atacama Desert there is an 'oasis' of microorganisms. Researchers from the Center of Astrobiology (Spain) and the Catholic University of the North in Chile have found it in hypersaline substrates thanks to SOLID, a detector for signs of life which could be used in environments similar to subsoil on Mars.
Life is bustling under the driest desert on Earth. A Spanish-Chilean team of scientists have found bacteria and archaea (primitive microorganisms) living two metres below the hypersaline substrates in the Atacama Desert in Chile, according to the journal Astrobiology.
"We have named it a 'microbial oasis' because we found microorganisms developing in a habitat that was rich in halite (rock salt) and other highly hygroscopic compounds (anhydrite and perchlorate) that absorb water" explained Victor Parro, researcher from the Center of Astrobiology (INTA-CSIC, Spain) and coordinator of the study.
Furthermore, the substrates where the microbes live favour deliquescence, which means they can attract the limited moisture in the air, condensing it on the surface of the salt crystals. Thin films of water that are a few microns thick are thereby formed.
In this environment, the underground microorganisms grow with everything they need to live: food and water. The species are not very different from others in similar hypersaline environments, but the peculiar thing is that they were discovered at a depth of between 2 and 3 metres, without any oxygen or sunlight.
To carry out this investigation, scientists used an instrument called SOLID (Signs of Life Detector), which was developed by the research team with the aim of using it for future missions on Mars.
The core of SOLID is a biochip –called LDChip– which includes up to 450 antibodies to identify biological material, such as sugar, DNA and protein. Samples can be taken, incubated and processed automatically and the results can be observed in an image with shiny points that show the presence of certain compounds and microorganisms.
Using this technique, the researchers in collaboration with Catholic University of the North in Chile have confirmed the presence of underground archaea and bacteria in the desert. They also took samples from a depth of up to 5 metres and took them to the laboratory, where not only were they able to photograph the microorganisms with the electron microscope, but also 'brought them into life' when supplied with water.
Lessons for Mars
"If there are similar microbes on Mars or remains in similar conditions to the ones we have found in Atacama, we could detect them with instruments like SOLID" Parro highlighted.
The researcher explained that saline deposits have been found on the red planet, therefore it is possible to think that there maybe hypersaline environments in its subsoil. "The high concentration of salt has a double effect: it absorbs water between the crystals and lowers the freezing point, so that they can have thin films of water (in brine) at temperatures several degrees below zero, up to minus 20 C."
The high salt level and lack of water help preserve biological molecules, so that it was possible to find biological products in materials of this type, even though there were no live microorganisms since millions of years ago.
Some experts are proposing radical ideas to save us from disastrous climate change. But would they work? Professors John Latham and Stephen Salter have designed a fleet of yachts that would pump fine particles of sea-water into clouds, thickening them to reflect more of the Sun's rays. Here, Professor Latham talks about the proposal.
It was in 1946 that scientists first began trying to manipulate clouds.
They found that by firing tiny particles of silver iodide into rain-bearing clouds, they could induce rainfall.
Our idea of a fleet of "cloudseeders", however, was largely born from a remark made by my son Mike, decades ago.
We were on a mountainside in North Wales, looking west towards Ireland.
He asked why clouds were shiny at the top but dark at the bottom.
I explained how they were mirrors for incoming sunlight.
Fine droplets of sea-water - about a 10,000th of a centimetre in size - would be sprayed from cylinders
He pondered for a while, then grinned: "Soggy mirrors, Dad," he said.
The idea my colleagues and I are pursuing is to increase the amount of sunlight reflected back into space from the tops of thin, low-level clouds (marine stratocumuli, which cover about a quarter of the world's oceanic surface), thereby producing a cooling effect.
Calculations show that if we can increase the reflectivity by about 3%, the cooling will balance the global warming caused by increased CO2 in the atmosphere (resulting from the burning of fossil fuels).
In order to deploy our scheme and produce adequate cooling, we would need to spray sea-water droplets continuously over a significant fraction of the world's oceanic surface, at a total rate of around 50 cubic metres per second.
The power required for spraying comes from electricity generated by turbines dragged along by the vessels
Professor Stephen Salter has developed plans for a novel form of spray-droplet production (involving high-velocity propulsion of sea-water droplets), and has designed a wind-powered unmanned vessel which can be remotely guided to regions where cloud seeding is most favourable.
Instead of sails, these vessels use a much more efficient technique to power the yacht - Flettner rotors.
These spinning vertical cylinders mounted on the deck are named after their inventor, Anton Flettner. They also house the spraying system which sprays sea-water droplets from the top of the rotors.
The power required for spraying, communications and so on comes from electricity generated by turbines dragged along by the vessels.
We envisage that about 1,000 such vessels would be required to make the scheme effective.
The ideal solution to the global warming problem is that the burning of fossil fuels be drastically reduced.
The yachts would be best positioned in the southern oceans, where most of the marine stratocumuli are
But our scheme offers the possibility that we could buy time within which catastrophic warming could be staved off while carbon dioxide levels are being reduced to an acceptable degree.
One advantage of our plan is that it is ecologically benign; the only raw material required being sea-water.
The amount of cooling could be controlled, via satellite measurements and a computer model, and if an emergency arose, the system could be switched off, with conditions returning to normal within a few days.
In addition to global temperature stabilisation, we also envisage that the technique could be used to remedy more regional problems, such as the dying of the coral reefs as a result of ocean warming.
Long road ahead
But while it is all very well spraying the clouds, what effect will this have on the world's fragile eco-system, and do we have the right to interfere with the planet in this way?
Professors Latham (L) and Salter (R) want cloud cover but not rain
Before we could justify deploying such a scheme on a global scale we would need to do several things.
We would have to complete the development of the required technology, and conduct a limited-area field experiment in which the reflectivity of seeded clouds is compared with that of adjacent unseeded ones.
We would also have to perform detailed analysis to establish whether there might be serious or harmful meteorological or climatological ramifications (such as reducing rainfall in regions where water is scarce) and, if so, to find a solution for them.
But bearing all this in mind, we have been encouraged by the consistent response we have received to our scheme - for example at a recent Nasa meeting - and it seems likely to be a strong contender in the fight to improve the current global warming problem worldwide.
When the planet is in such a dire situation, I am convinced it is simply irresponsible not to at least examine our options.
Professor John Latham is an atmospheric physicist at the University of Manchester & NCAR, Colorado, US. Professor Stephen Salter is an engineer at the University of Edinburgh.
A proton-proton collision at the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator at CERN laboratory in Geneva that produced more than
100 charged particles. (CERN)
Swiss scientists plan to increase the juice flowing through the world’s largest atom smasher to 8 trillion electron volts, accelerating not just protons but the quest for the most elusive particle in modern science.
By boosting energy through the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) 14 percent -- and breaking a power record set by the LHC itself last year -- the team hopes to further experiments into the microscopic world of particle physics. The ultimate goal: a tiny bit of matter called the Higgs boson, which may or may not even exist.
“By the time the LHC goes into its first long stop at the end of this year, we will either know that a Higgs particle exists or have ruled out the existence of a Standard Model Higgs,” said CERN’s Research Director, Sergio Bertolucci.
The Large Hadron Collider is one of the biggest science experiments in the world; scientists working on it seem to speak their own language. A statement issued by CERN, the scientific body governing work at the collider, stated that “the data target for 2012 is 15 inverse femtobarns for ATLAS and CMS, three times higher than in 2011.”
You don’t say.
That bit of obfuscation is a measure of the number of particle collisions CERN hopes to observe next year. (The term barn was coined in 1942 by Indiana physicists seeking a “catchy unit name for discussing the size of an atomic nucleus of uranium,” explained a story on Stanford University's website.)
Each observation of a collision allows scientists to pore over the fragments of particles that are left over, on a quest for the one smallest bit of all: the Higgs.
The oddly named boson is still just a theory, infinitesimally tiny and thought to be the fundamental building block of matter -- ultimately responsible for giving mass to all things. And though scientists have closed in on the particle, they have yet to conclusively find it.
In December, scientists announced that they had seen tantalizing hints of the Higgs, a signal that allowed them to narrow down the quest to certain bands of energy.
"This is the region where, if you see an excess, there's a hint that something's up," said Guido Tonelli, a spokesman for the CMS experiment, at a seminar discussing the December findings. CMS, or the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, is one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history and part of the LHC.
By juicing the power, scientists hope to continue pursuit of that elusive bit, and plan to pore over that band of energy.
“When we started operating the LHC for physics in 2010, we chose the lowest safe beam energy consistent with the physics we wanted to do,” said Steve Myers, director for accelerators and technology with CERN.
“Two good years of operational experience with beam and many additional measurements made during 2011 give us the confidence to safely move up a notch, and thereby extend the physics reach of the experiments before we go into the LHC’s first long shutdown,” he said.
But even as they closed in on the Higgs -- or if not the mysterious boson, at least something -- Fabiola Gianotti, a scientist who works at the LHC, cautioned that it was too early to draw any conclusions. The signal they detected in December may or may not be the Higgs, in other words.
"I think it would be extremely kind of the Higgs boson to be here," she said at the time. "More studies and more data are needed. The next few months will be very exciting ... I don't know what the conclusions will be."
Posted by Informant_News on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 @ 18:11:50 MST (1656 reads) (Read More... | 4560 bytes more | Tech | Score: 4)
Space News: ESA's new Vega launcher scores success on maiden flight
Vega, ESA's new launch vehicle, is ready to operate alongside the Ariane 5 and Soyuz launchers after a successful qualification flight this morning from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
With Vega extending the family of launchers available at the spaceport, Europe now covers the full range of launch needs, from small science and Earth observation satellites to the largest missions like ESA's supply freighters to the International Space Station.
The first Vega lifted off at 10:00 GMT (11:00 CET, 07:00 local time) from the new launch pad, and conducted a flawless qualification flight.
Vega's light launch capacity accommodates a wide range of satellites - from 300 kg to 2500 kg - into a wide variety of orbits, from equatorial to Sun-synchronous. Its reference mission is 1500 kg into a 700 km-high circular Sun-synchronous orbit.
Vega will thus add to Europe's set of launch services next to the Ariane 5 heavy-lifter and the Soyuz medium-class launcher already in service.
The combination of these three systems operating from French Guiana will also improve the efficiency of Europe's launch infrastructure by sharing its operating costs over a larger number of launches.
"In a little more than three months, Europe has increased the number of launchers it operates from one to three, widening significantly the range of launch services offered by the European operator Arianespace. There is not anymore one single European satellite which cannot be launched by a European launcher service," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA. "It is a great day for ESA, its Member States, in particularly Italy where Vega was born, for European industry and for Arianespace."
Vega launcher development started in 2003. Seven Member States contributed to the programme: Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
"Today is a moment of pride for Europe as well as those around 1000 individuals who have been involved in developing the world's most modern and competitive launcher system for small satellites," said Antonio Fabrizi, ESA's Director of Launchers.
"ESA, with the technical support of the Italian and French space agencies, and about 40 industrial companies coordinated by the prime contractor ELV SpA, have made this enormous challenge a reality in under a decade of development."
Posted by Informant_News on Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 11:49:59 MST (1724 reads) (Read More... | 3598 bytes more | Space News | Score: 4.66)
Scientists pining for a sample return from Mars have a consolation prize -- rocks recently found in Morocco are freshly arrived bits from our neighbor planet.
The rocks not only are rare because they came from Mars -- of the roughly 24,000 meteorites that have been discovered on Earth, only about 34 hail from the red planet, NASA says -- they also just arrived.
Scientists believe they plummented to Earth in a meteorite shower last July. They were recovered in Morocco in December.
The biggest of the 15 rocks weighs more than 2 pounds. They're worth 10 times the price of gold.
Image: Arizona State University snagged a 349-gram sample of the newly found Mars meteorite, called Tissint. Photo: Laurence Garvie/ASU
Posted by Informant_News on Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 09:24:57 MST (1470 reads) (Read More... | 2219 bytes more | Misc | Score: 4)
In the fight against GMO foods many people are coming forward to warn us of all the dangers involved. From Genetically modified corn to genetically altered livestock there is no end to the experimentation that is happening now.
As consumers we are forced to eat these products which have yet to be labeled or have any warnings attached. Farmers are going out of business if they don't do business with Monsanto. The GMO seeds and pollination spreads to non gmo crops and Farmers are sued by Monsanto for using their product with out license.
Other countries like Germany are outright banning GMO foods and big corporation Monsanto.
Practically the only way to get away from eating the poisons that they are putting out is to grow all your own and raise your own livestock. Many have turned to the Vegan way of life but we are still Omnivores and many of us will not adapt to the vegan life style. Some communities are now getting involved and organizing community gardens and farms, as well as co op farms that take a list, or number of clients every year to supply exclusively organic vegetables to their customers.
If you are so inclined do a little research on genetically modified organisms and you might just be astounded by what you find, and what you are feeding your family.
Text by Joseph Held
Posted by Informant_News on Sunday, February 12, 2012 @ 13:32:09 MST (1662 reads) (Read More... | 2198 bytes more | Global News | Score: 5)
Tech: Skin Cancer Drug Rapidly Reverses Alzheimer's Symptoms in Mice
By Christine Hsu
A single senile plaque (red) along with neurites expressing yellow fluorescent protein (green) from the living brain of a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Blood vessels are visible with fluorescence angiography following injection with Texas red dextran (blue). The plaque is approximately 30 µm in diameter and is about 150 µm deep from the brain surface. (Monica Garcia-Alloza/NIBIB)
A skin cancer drug may rapidly reverse pathological, cognitive and memory deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research published on Thursday.
Bexarotene, a drug that is currently used to combat T cell lymphoma, appeared to reverse plaque buildup and improve memory in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease by reducing levels of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that cause mental deficits in Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers said the findings were particularly promising because the drug worked with “unprecedented speed” by reducing soluble amyloid by 25 percent and its buildup in the brain by 50 percent in three days.
The study also found that in older mice with more established amyloid plaques, just seven days of treatment reduced the number of plaques by half.
Apolipoprotein E - or ApoE is a protein that is enhances the breakdown of peptide beta-amyloid clusters that build-up in Alzheimer’s brains, but different people possess different versions of the protein. People with ApoE4 genetic variant are between 10 to 30 times more likely of developing Alzheimer’s by 75 years of age, compared with other not carrying the E4 alleles.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio investigated ways to boost levels of ApoE, the primary genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, to reduce levels of beta-amyloid. Investigators said that after treatment, the mice made significant improvements in nest building, maze performance and remembering electrical shocks.
"This is an unprecedented finding. Previously, the best existing treatment for Alzheimer's disease in mice required several months to reduce plaque in the brain," Researcher Paige Cramer said in a statement.
Experts said that the results were promising, but noted that in the past successful drugs in mice often failed to work in people.
Previously scientists were also excited when an Alzheimer vaccine seemed to kill nerve destroying amyloid protein deposits in animal brains, but failed to show the same effect in human patients.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration have already approved bexarotene for cancer treatment, and scientists said because the skin cancer drug had been approved a decade ago, this would speed up the prospects for human clinical trials of the drug as an Alzheimer’s treatment.
"While it is still too early to make predictions, if these findings can be replicated in additional preclinical studies, and then later in human clinical trials, we may have a powerful new weapon in the battle to halt this disease," noted American Health Assistance Foundation Vice President for Scientific Affairs Guy Eakin.
Targretin, the skin cancer drug chemically as bexarotene, is currently sold by Tokyo-based Eisai Co., and Eisai and New York-based Pfizer Inc. sell Aricept which is the most widely prescribed Alzheimer’s disease drug before cheaper generic copies of the medicine were made available in the U.S. in 2010.
Around 5.1 Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that in 2050, the number of patients affected with the mental disease will double, and scientists have not been able to pinpoint the cause of the condition and there is no cure.
This month has been an especially hopeful month for people and family affected by Alzheimer and dementia diseases. Earlier this week, the Obama administration said that it would increase funding for Alzheimer’s research by $50million to $500 million this year to study the cause of the disease as well as test drugs that may halt its progression. Last week, Alzheimer’s researchers also mapped out how Alzheimer’s disease spreads in the brain and found that abnormal “tau” proteins jump from neuron to neuron.