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Seeing a supernovae within hours of the explosion
For the first time ever, scientists have gathered direct evidence of a rare Wolf-Rayet star being linked to a specific type of stellar explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Peter Nugent of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they caught this star – a whopping 360 million light years away – just a few hours after it exploded.
Hear more about this discovery →
See more spectacular images of Supernovas

Seeing a supernovae within hours of the explosion

For the first time ever, scientists have gathered direct evidence of a rare Wolf-Rayet star being linked to a specific type of stellar explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Peter Nugent of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they caught this star – a whopping 360 million light years away – just a few hours after it exploded.

Hear more about this discovery →

See more spectacular images of Supernovas

(via the-actual-universe)

Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?

by Anna Fels

The idea of putting a mind-altering drug in the drinking water is the stuff of sci-fi, terrorist plots and totalitarian governments. Considering the outcry that occurred when putting fluoride in the water was first proposed, one can only imagine the furor that would ensue if such a thing were ever suggested.

The debate, however, is moot. It’s a done deal. Mother Nature has already put a psychotropic drug in the drinking water, and that drug is lithium. Although this fact has been largely ignored for over half a century, it appears to have important medical implications.

See more images of Lithium Metal

Lithium is a naturally occurring element, not a molecule like most medications, and it is present in the United States, depending on the geographic area, at concentrations that can range widely, from undetectable to around .170 milligrams per liter. This amount is less than a thousandth of the minimum daily dose given for bipolar disorders and for depression that doesn’t respond to antidepressants. Although it seems strange that the microscopic amounts of lithium found in groundwater could have any substantial medical impact, the more scientists look for such effects, the more they seem to discover. Evidence is slowly accumulating that relatively tiny doses of lithium can have beneficial effects. They appear to decrease suicide rates significantly and may even promote brain health and improve mood.

Yet despite the studies demonstrating the benefits of relatively high natural lithium levels present in the drinking water of certain communities, few seem to be aware of its potential. Intermittently, stories appear in the scientific journals and media, but they seem to have little traction in the medical community or with the general public.

When I recently attended a psychopharmacology course in which these lithium studies were reviewed, virtually none of the psychiatrists present had been aware of them.

The scientific story of lithium’s role in normal development and health began unfolding in the 1970s. Studies at that time found that animals that consumed diets with minimal lithium had higher mortality rates, as well as abnormalities of reproduction and behavior.

Read the entire article

Images © Science Source

Solar Storms Sending Biggest Threats to Earth Today and Tomorrow

by Brian K. Sullivan

Airlines have rerouted some flights and global positioning system and radio transmissions may be degraded through tomorrow as two solar eruptions strike Earth and affect its magnetic field.

The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center is tracking two coronal mass ejections, “huge expulsions of magnetic field and plasma” that shot out of an area near the center of the sun’s disc.

See images of Coronal Mass Ejections

“Essentially the sun just shot out a magnet and it is about to interact with another magnet, Earth’s magnet,” William Murtagh, program coordinator of the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center, said yesterday. When the ejections reach Earth, they will touch off geomagnetic storms that are forecast to last at least until tomorrow.

The first wave of the two-part event arrived last night and the second one was detected at 12:09 p.m. New York time, the center said. A G2 geomagnetic storm was forecast for later today and a stronger G3 storm tomorrow. The last G3 storm to strike the Earth was June 29, 2013, the center said.

Geomagnetic storms, like hurricanes, are classified on a five-step scale with G1 being the weakest and G5 the strongest.

Radiation associated with the passages of the waves has been raised to an S2 level, which means passengers in high-flying aircraft at higher latitudes “may experience small, increased radiation exposures.”

United Airlines Inc. has rerouted a “few” flights from the U.S. to Asia that traverse the North Pole because of the storms, said Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for United Continental Holdings Inc.

See beautiful images of the Northern Lights

Some satellites may have minor problems, although Earth should be spared the most crippling impacts of these kinds of events, which can include disruptions to electric grids and radiation strong enough to cause polar flights to change routes, said Thomas Berger, the center’s director. People away from city lights may see a brilliant display in the northern sky.

Read the entire article

Image JA8209 (Solar Eruptions) ©NASA / SDO / Science Source

laboratoryequipment:

Ozone Layer is RecoveringEarth’s protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet.Scientists said the development demonstrates that when the world comes together, it can counteract a brewing ecological crisis. For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/ozone-layer-recovering

laboratoryequipment:

Ozone Layer is Recovering

Earth’s protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet.

Scientists said the development demonstrates that when the world comes together, it can counteract a brewing ecological crisis. For the first time in 35 years, scientists were able to confirm a statistically significant and sustained increase in stratospheric ozone, which shields the planet from solar radiation that causes skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/ozone-layer-recovering

Going…Going…BELCH!

Colorized scanning electron micrographs (SEMs) of a Didinium Nasutum attacking and ingesting a Paramecium. Didinium nasutum is a one-celled, barrel-shaped ciliate characterized by two bands of cilia around its body. This free living carnivorous protist is commonly found in bodies of fresh or brackish water.  It is a voracious predator of its main food source…the much larger unicellular, Paramecium.

See more images of the voracious Didinium

The Didinium attacks using specialized structures called toxicysts to ensnare and paralyze its ciliate prey. The Paramecium ejects its own trichocysts in defense, but to no avail. Once captured, the prey is engulfed through the Didinium’s expandible cytostome. Within a few hours, it is ready to hunt again. In the absence of food, a Didinium will encyst, lying dormant within a protective coating.

All images © Biophoto Associates / Science Source

Now THAT’S Camouflage!

Images BV1913, BV1915 & BV1922 (Leaf Insect)

Leaf insect (Phyllium coelebicum), also called Walking Leaf. Photographed in Malaysia. These insects have extremely flattened, irregularly shaped bodies, wings and legs. They use camouflage to take on the appearance of a leaf. In some species the edge of the leaf insect’s body even has the appearance of bite marks. Leaf insects are among the most successful camouflagers known to exist in the insect world. The Walking sticks of tropical and temperate climates are members of the same order.

© Francesco Tomasinelli / Science Source

FDA Approves Merck’s New Kind Of Cancer Drug

by Peter Luftus

U.S. regulators on Thursday approved a new kind of cancer drug from Merck & Co. that is designed to unleash the body’s immune system against tumors and could generate billions of dollars in sales.

The drug, which Merck plans to sell under the brand name Keytruda, is part of a long-anticipated wave of medicines that could transform cancer treatment and forge a large new market for pharmaceutical companies.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the drug, pembrolizumab, for the treatment of a deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma. The approval followed a swift review of data from a relatively early-stage human trial—an unusual move reflecting the medical community’s keen interest in pembrolizumab.

See images of Melanoma Skin Cancer

The infused drug is a new type of immunotherapy, a category of treatments that harness the immune system to fight cancer. It was approved for people who’ve failed to respond adequately to Yervoy, a Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. immunotherapy that works in a different fashion, and certain other drugs.

See images showing the Programmed Death of Cancer Cells 

Pembrolizumab is the first so-called PD-1 inhibitor to hit the U.S. market. The drugs block a protein called programmed death receptor 1, or PD-1, which acts as a brake on certain immune-system cells to prevent them from attacking healthy tissue. Cancer cells can escape destruction by latching onto PD-1; PD1 inhibitors block this interaction at the site of the tumor, releasing the immune system brake and allowing it to destroy the cancer. Yervoy also lifts a brake on the immune system but does so earlier in the immune-cell activation process, which researchers say may cause more collateral destruction of normal tissue than with PD-1 blockers.

Pembrolizumab and other PD-1-targeting drugs—including those developed by Bristol-Myers and Roche Holding AG—have generated excitement among doctors because they appear to induce relatively high rates of tumor shrinkage and prolong average survival beyond historical norms in clinical studies. Researchers say the side effects associated with the drugs appear to be manageable.

Read the entire article

Images above © Dr. Andrejs Liepins / Science Source

The Wasp And The Cockroach: A Horror Story

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp (Ampulex compressa) is native to South Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands. It is known for its unusual reproductive behavior, which involves stinging a cockroach and using it as a host for its larvae.

See more images of the Emerald Cockroach Wasp

The female wasps of this species stings precisely into specific ganglia of their cockroach prey. It delivers an initial sting to a thoracic ganglion and injects venom to mildly and reversibly paralyze the front legs of its victim. Temporary loss of mobility in the roach facilitates the second venomous sting at a precise spot in the victims’s head ganglia (brain), in the section that controls the escape reflex. As a result of this sting, the roach will first groom extensively, and then become sluggish and fail to show normal escape responses.

The wasp proceeds to chew off half of each of the roach’s antennae. Being too small to carry the roach, the wasp then leads the victim to the wasp’s burrow by pulling one of the roach’s antennae in a manner similar to a leash. Once they reach the burrow, the wasp lays a white egg, about 2 mm long, on the roach’s abdomen. It then exits and proceeds to fill in the burrow entrance with pebbles to keep other predators out.

With its escape reflex disabled, the stung, “zombified” roach will simply rest in the burrow as the wasp’s egg hatches after about three days. The hatched larva lives and feeds for 4–5 days on the roach, then chews its way into its abdomen and proceeds to live as an endoparasitoid. Over a period of eight days, the wasp larva consumes the roach’s internal organs in an order which maximizes the likelihood that the roach will stay alive, at least until the larva enters the pupal stage and forms a cocoon inside the roach’s body. Eventually the fully grown wasp emerges from the roach’s body to begin its adult life. -Wikipedia-

All images above © Emanuele Biggi / FLPA / Science Source  

Candida Albicans: The Delicate Balance

Candida albicans, is a single-celled fungus that is commonly found on the skin and the mucous membranes of the mouth, digestive & respiratory tracts, and the vagina, where it is usually harmless. It is one of those “friendly” inhabitants of our body and even helps to recognize and destroy harmful bacteria.

See more images of Candida Albicans

The growth of C. albicans is usually controlled by the immune system and “friendly” bacteria. If however the number of these bacteria is decreased, either due to the use of antibiotics, a weakened immune system, or other conditions for yeast proliferation occur (a diet high in sugar), C. albicans will shift from a yeast to a mycelial fungal form. It will begin producing rhizoids, root-like structures that penetrate intestinal walls. This allows toxins, undigested food, bacteria, and yeast to enter into the bloodstream. This overgrowth is referred to as Candidiasis, oidiomycosis or simply a yeast infection. This can lead to oral thrush, vaginitis and eventually to systemic and potentially life-threatening diseases.

Buy wall prints or postcards of Candida Fungus

Images above © Science Source

BA2109 (SEM, Fungus, Candida albicans)

BB6519 (Scanning Electron Micrograph of Candida albicans) 

BV6529 (Candida fungus on vaginal cells, SEM)

i-love-dna:

An infographic on ALS.

(via sciencenebula)

Have you heard of the mystery of the sailing stones? It’s not a Hardy Boys novel — it’s the strange phenomenon of rocks leaving zig-zagging tracks across Death Valley.

Well, they solved the mystery at last.

Image: Momatiuk - Eastcott/Corbis / Video: Jim Norris

(via npr)

A final word on insect venoms, with a look at the Schmidt Pain Index, developed by Dr. Justin Schmidt to rank the pain of the various insect stings he experienced in his line of work. Whilst obviously pain is subjective, and you’d expect some variation from person to person, it still makes for an interesting graphic!

Click the image for a larger version

See images of the very painful Bullet Ants

(via mindblowingscience)

The Sun: Beautiful, Life-Giving, Violent!!

This video footage shows an M-class solar flare erupting from the Sun. The flare erupts from a bright spot on the surface, ejecting a huge amount of plasma into the Sun’s atmosphere. Around half of the material falls back onto the Sun’s surface, some falling ballistically, under the influence of gravity, some being captured by the Sun’s magnetic field and channeled towards sunspot regions. When the cooler, darker infalling material hits the Sun’s surface it causes bright explosions. The rest of the material is thrown into space as a coronal mass ejection (CME).

See more video of Coronal Mass Ejections

Although only a medium-strength M-class flare, the mass ejected was among the highest recorded for a CME. This footage was taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on 7th June 2011.

© SDO / NASA / Science Source 

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