Shark-detecting buoy
Researches at an Australian tech firm have recently come up with a potential solution called the Clever buoy, designed to emit sonar signals from a buoy anchored to the seabed by a box. The buoy uses a processor to analyze the returning sonar signals. The crazy part is that researchers have designed the technology so that it is capable of recognizing shark-shaped objects.

cleverbuoy shark detecting image www.sciencearticlesonline (3)

cleverbuoy shark detecting image www.sciencearticlesonline (2)

cleverbuoy shark detecting image www.sciencearticlesonline (1)

SHARK DETECTION SENSOR SYSTEM HAS BEEN DEVELOPED

Henry Sapiecha

WHEN IS AN APE A HUMAN AND VICE VERSA

According to the journal called Nature, fossils are being questioned in regards to its authenticity – especially those thought to be related to humans especially during the past 10 years. It is not believed that these fossils were actually great apes.

When the question arose, thought processes & assumptions were made. The studies that were focused on in particular were the studies of 3 previously discovered fossils. One was known as “Ardi” which was discovered in Ethiopia. All three discoveries were claimed to be humanoid in features, but the likely hood of them being just apes is now a distinct possibility.

 Anthropologists: Apes May Not Necessarily Be Human Ancestors
Was “Ardi” a human or an ape?

In papers written by Bernard Wood and his colleague Harrison, it was determined that nothing can be certain on what was previously thought about fossils that have been discovered. Many of the techniques used by palaeontologists are not complete and cannot give the accurate findings. The paper also discusses that Wood and Harrison looked more towards the physical features of many different species. Another example they researched about was the relationship between the wings of a bird and the wings of a bat.

This simple explanation of physical feature relationships was supposed to teach the archaeological community that you cannot only look at physical features of fossils to determine their origins and relationships. Just because they share the same features, does not meant they are in any way related.

The best way to explain this would be to take the example of Ramapithecus. This was a creature believed to be closely related to humans only because there were some similarities in the skull and jaw features. It was later discovered that this fossil was nothing more than a relation to an orangutan.

Wood and Harrison simply want archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists in the world to know that you might need to look seriously and a little deeper than just the surface of many fossils they might eventually come across.

ADHESIVE FROM MUSSELL MATERIAL HOLDS SOME ANSWERS

Mussels are remarkable creatures, not only in how good they taste steamed and buttered, but also in their ability to cling to rocks that are pounded by ocean waves. Their tenacious grip comes courtesy of byssal holdfast fibers that are secreted by the mussels themselves. Last year, scientists from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces analyzed these fibers in an effort to determine how they were able to maintain their brute strength, while also giving slightly to avoid snapping. This week, scientists from the University of Chicago announced that they have been able to replicate the fibers, producing an adhesive that could be used on underwater machinery, as a surgical adhesive, or as a bonding agent for implants.

Conventional adhesives typically involve a trade-off between strength and brittleness – they give, but can be ripped, or are hard, but can be snapped. Such substances are linked by covalent bonds, which are held together by two atoms sharing two or more electrons. U Chicago’s synthetic mussel adhesive, however, is linked by metals. This allows it to exhibit both strength and flexibility, as the bonds automatically self-heal if broken, without adding any energy to the system.

One of the keys to the material is a long-chain polymer, developed at Northwestern University. It takes the form of a green solution when combined with metal salts at low pH, but becomes a sticky red gel when mixed with sodium hydroxide to change its pH from high acidity to high alkalinity. This gel can repair tears to itself within minutes. Its stiffness and strength can be tweaked both by altering its pH, or by using different types of metal ions when creating it. The scientists are now trying to determine what other factors might affect its properties.

Besides offering an optimum combination of strength and give, the adhesive should also be environmentally-friendly, as it’s made from natural ingredients. A patent is currently pending.

“Our aspiration is to learn some new design principles from nature that we haven’t yet actually been using in man-made materials that we can then apply to make man-made materials even better,” said Chicago postdoctoral scholar Niels Holten-Andersen.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Fruit fly research could lead

to simpler and more

robust computer network systems

By Grant Banks

21:30 January 17, 2011


Over the years science has gleaned an enormous amount of knowledge from the humble fruit fly. Drosophila melanogaster was used to provide the post-Mendelian foundations for our understanding of genetics and has also been used extensively in neuroscience research. The latest fruit fly-inspired innovation could simplify how wireless sensor networks communicate and stands to have wider applications for computing.

This is not the first time computing systems have been compared to biological systems. Learning from a comparison between Linux and E.coli and using fly’s eyes to help develop faster visual receivers for robots are just two examples. This time round researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have discovered a highly efficient system of organizing cells in the fruit fly’s nervous system develops that stands to have applications in computer networking.

Without communication with surrounding cells or prior knowledge of what these other cells are doing the fly’s developing nervous system is able to organize itself so that a small number become leader cells or sensory organ precursor cells (SOP), while the rest become ordinary nerve cells. The SOPs which connect to adjoining nerve cells do not connect with other SOPs, but instead to the ends of the nervous system that are attached to tiny hairs for interacting with the outside world. What is extraordinary about how this hierarchy of cells organizes itself is the fact that the right number and combination of SOP cells and nerve cells form without the need for complicated information exchange.

The fly’s nervous system uses a probabilistic method to select the cells that will become SOPs. The cells have no information about how they are connected to each other but as various cells self-select themselves as SOPs, they send out chemical signals to neighboring cells that inhibit those cells from also becoming SOPs. This process continues for three hours, until all of the cells are either SOPs or are neighbors to an SOP, and the fly emerges from the pupal stage.

Ziv Bar-Joseph, associate professor of machine learning and computational biology at CMU and author of the report noted that the probability that any cell will self-select increases not as a function of connections, as with a maximal independent set (MIS) algorithm used in computer networking, but as a function of time. The researchers believe that computer networks could be developed using this innovative system creating networks which are much simpler and more robust.

“It is such a simple and intuitive solution, I can’t believe we did not think of this 25 years ago,” said co-author Noga Alon, a mathematician and computer scientist at Tel Aviv University and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.

Bar-Joseph, Alon and their co-authors – Yehuda Afek of Tel Aviv University and Naama Barkai, Eran Hornstein and Omer Barad of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel – developed a new distributed computing algorithm using their findings. The resulting network was shown to have qualities that are well suited for networks in which the number and position of the nodes is not completely certain including wireless sensor networks, such as environmental monitoring, or where sensors are dispersed. They also believe this could be used in systems for controlling swarms of robots.

“The run time was slightly greater than current approaches, but the biological approach is efficient and more robust because it doesn’t require so many assumptions,” Bar-Joseph said. “This makes the solution applicable to many more applications.”

The research was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

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Researchers attempting to clone

a mammoth by 2017

By Tannith Cattermole

17:33 January 23, 2011


The last known mammoth lived around 4,500 years ago, but if scientists in Japan are successful then we might be able to meet one soon! Research to resurrect these awesome creatures was shelved when cell nuclei taken from a sample from Siberia were found to be too badly damaged, however a scientific breakthrough in Kobe successfully cloned a mouse from sixteen year old deep frozen tissue, and the research began again in earnest …

Mammoths are a species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, and closely related to modern elephants today. As anyone who’s been awed and amazed by a mammoth skeleton would know, some had long-curved tusks, and in colder regions, long shaggy hair. The last known mammoths died out 4,500 years ago, but in 1997 researchers at Kyoto University began to try and extract DNA from the tissue of a preserved mammoth carcass found in the Siberian permafrost.

Their efforts were thwarted however by damage caused by ice crystals that rendered the cells unviable. The breakthrough came in 2008 when scientist Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, developed a new technique, and successfully managed to clone a mouse from tissue that had been deep frozen for sixteen years.

Now emeritus professor Akira Iritani and his team at Kyoto University are making preparations to fulfill their goal of cloning a live mammoth. They successfully extracted mammoth egg cell nuclei without damage, and used elephant egg cells to fill the gaps.

“Now the technical problems have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

In the summer, Iritani will travel to Siberia to search for good mammoth samples. There are an estimated 150 million mammoth remains in Russia’s Siberian permafrost, some whole frozen specimens, others in pieces of bone, tusk, tissue and wool. If he is unsuccessful he will apply to Russian scientists to give him a sample.

If a mammoth embryo is successfully cloned then it will be transplanted into a surrogate African elephant, the mammoth’s closest living relative. Then will follow a gestation period of 22 months, the longest of any land animal.

“The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently but now stands at about 30 per cent, I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years.” said Iritani.

There are other considerations however; “If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed [the mammoth] and whether to display it to the public,” Iritani told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. “After the mammoth is born, we’ll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors.”

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HUMMINGBIRD HOVERCRAFT.

A new type of aircraft on the drawing board

Hummingbird wing – future of flight (1:43)

Dec 7 – Robotic hummingbird wings may hold secrets to a new family of aircraft, capable of hovering steadily even in high winds. Scientists from New Mexico State University say experiments reveal promising results.

Manoush Zomorodi reports.

Video View video here

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Smart Tape Like Gecko Feet

Posted on January 30, 2008 by dikidee

gecko feet

Inspired by the gecko feet, University of California, Berkeley have created a new kind of tape.

Conventional adhesive tape sticks when pressed on a surface. A new gecko-inspired synthetic adhesive (GSA) does not stick when it is pressed into a surface, but instead sticks when it slides on the surface. A similar directional adhesion effect allows real geckos to run up walls while rapidly attaching and detaching toes. The gecko-inspired adhesive uses hard plastic microfibers. The plastic is not itself sticky, but the millions of microscopic contacts work together to adhere. The number of contacts automatically increases to handle higher loads. A feature of the hard plastic gecko-inspired adhesive is that no residue is left on surfaces as is left by conventional adhesive tapes.

[Read more …]

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Ambra (Ambergris)


Physeter macrocephalus (P. catodon) (Physeteridae) Sperm Whale, Cachalot
The legendary ambra (Fr. ambergris, grey amber) is a pathological metabolite of the sperm whale, probably arising from injuries in its intestines as a result of certain food intakes. It is abundant in steroid lipids and has a lower density than water. The odorless triterpene alcohol ambrein is one of its main constituents. When the excreted chunks of ambra (lower left photo) are exposed to sunlight and air at the surface of the sea, a number of oxidation products with a pronounced odor are gradually formed, see diagram.
Ultimately the ambra washes ashore along the ocean coasts. Since antiquity it has been highly valued as a sensualizing fixative in perfumery. It is used as a 3 % tincture (in 90 % ethanol) which has matured by standing over a period of time with occasional shaking. However, nowadays it is a rare item on the perfumer’s shelf.
One of the most important ambra odorants is ambrox. Today it is synthesized from the diterpene sclareol, found in the plant Clary Sage. According to Müller and Lamparsky [5], the powerful and elegant odor of ambrox matches the first four tonalities of aged ambergris tincture: 1. wet mossy forest soil, 2. strong tobacco, 3. balsamic sandalwood, 4. warm animal musk (the last two are: 5. seaweed/ocean, 6. faecal). Ambrox of high quality is marketed as
Cetalox ® by Firmenich and as Ambrofix ® by Givaudan. Samples may be purchased from Perfumers World.
An example of a perfume utilizing ambrox is Drakkar Noir (Guy Laroche 1982) [43].
Etymology: Lat. cetus, whale.

P.S.
For a long time biologists have discussed the purpose of the sperm whale’s grotesquely large nose, which is filled with a liquid wax called spermaceti (because of a superfluous similarity to sperm) and measures one third of the body’s length. Biologists from University of Aarhus in Denmark developed a new kind of acoustic sensors to be used in deep-sea measurements along the coast of northern Norway. The results from five year’s study established definitely, in 2002, that the nose of the sperm whale is a gigantic sound generator, used by the animal as an advanced sonar for locating prey in dives of more than 1000 m’s depth. The sound-generating nose weighing close to 10 tonnes creates an extremely narrow beam of sound with the strongest sound pulses in the animal world – in intensity comparable to those measurable half a metre in front of a powerful riffle [182] [183]. The spermaceti-filled cavities in the nose function as a wave guide, see diagram. Spermaceti consists principally of liquified cetyl palmitate (or n-hexadecyl hexadecanoate). In its pure state, cetyl palmitate forms white, waxy crystals with a melting point of 54°C.

about new, artificial ambra deodorants


Several odorants have been developed with an ambra-like odor. A few examples are shown below. However, although effective in their own way, none of them compete with ambrox in power and beauty.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

New Understanding of Bizarre

Extinct Mammal:

Shares Common Ancestor

With Rodents, Primates

Science(Oct. 11, 2010) — University of Florida researchers presenting new fossil evidence of an exceptionally well-preserved 55-million-year-old North American mammal have found it shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans.


The study, scheduled to appear in the Oct. 11 online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, describes the cranial anatomy of the extinct mammal, Labidolemur kayi. High resolution CT scans of the specimens allowed researchers to study minute details in the skull, including bone structures smaller than one-tenth of a millimeter. Similarities in bone features with other mammals show L. kayi‘s living relatives are rodents, rabbits, flying lemurs, tree shrews and primates.

Researchers said the new information will aide future studies to better understand the origin of primates.

“The specimens are among the only skulls of apatemyids known that aren’t squashed completely flat,” said study co-author Jonathan Bloch, an associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “They’re preserved in three dimensions, which allows us to look at the morphology of the bones in a way that we never could before.”

Scientists have disputed the relationships of Apatemyidae, the family that includes L. kayi, for more than a century because of their unusual physical characteristics. With can opener-shaped upper front teeth and two unusually long fingers, apatemyids have been compared to a variety of animals, from opossums to woodpeckers.

“There are only a few examples in the history of mammals where you get such an incredibly odd ecological adaptation,” Bloch said.

Like a woodpecker’s method of feeding, L. kayi used percussive foraging, or tapping on trees, to locate insects. It stood less than a foot tall, was capable of jumping between trees and looked like a squirrel with a couple of really long fingers, similar to the aye-aye, a lemur native to Madagascar, Bloch said.

Apatemyids have been preserved for tens of millions of years and are well known from Europe and North America.

The skeletons analyzed in the publication were recovered from freshwater limestone in the Bighorn Basin by co-author Peter Houde of New Mexico State University. Located just east of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the site is known as one of the best in the world for studying the evolution of mammals during the 10 million years following the extinction of the dinosaurs, Bloch said.

Mary Silcox, first author of the study and a research associate at the Florida Museum, said scans of the specimens began about 10 years ago, during her postdoctoral work at The Pennsylvania State University.

“It’s not like medical CT, it’s actually an industrial CT scanner,” said Silcox, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. “Because this is a small animal, we needed to be able to study it at a very high resolution. The high resolution CT data were a critical part.”

Doug Boyer of Stony Brook University is also a co-author of the study, part of the team’s larger research to understand the relationships of apatemyids to other mammals. Bloch and colleagues are currently writing a detailed analysis of L. kayi‘s skeleton.

John Wible, curator of mammals at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and one of the researchers who reviewed the study, said it provides valuable information for understanding the evolutionary relationships of mammals.

“It is now clear that any assessment of the origins of primates in the future will have to include apatemyids,” Wible said. “Apatemyids are not some freakish dead-end, but significant members of our own history.”

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Killer Disease Decimates

UK Frog Populations

Science (Oct. 8, 2010) — Common frog (Rana temporaria) populations across the UK are suffering dramatic population crashes due to infection from the emerging disease Ranavirus, reveals research published in the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) journal Animal Conservation.


Using data collected from the public by the Frog Mortality Project and Froglife, scientists from ZSL found that, on average, infected frog populations experienced an 81 per cent decline in adult frogs over a 12 year period.

“Our findings show that Ranavirus not only causes one-off mass-mortality events, but is also responsible for long-term population declines. We need to understand more about this virus if we are to minimise the serious threat that it poses to our native amphibians,” says Dr Amber Teacher, lead author from ZSL.

Despite a number of populations suffering from infection year-on-year, other populations bounced-back from mass-mortality events. This suggests that some frogs may have some form of immunity to ranaviral infection.

“The discovery of persistent populations in the face of disease emergence is very encouraging and offers hope for the long-term future of this species” says Lucy Benyon, Froglife. “However, we still need regular information from the public on what is happening in their ponds to continue this essential research.”

In the 80s and 90s, the disease was particularly associated with the southeast of England. In recent years new ‘pockets’ of diseases have turned up in Lancashire, Yorkshire and along the south coast.

“It is very difficult to treat wildlife diseases and so the mystery that we desperately need to solve is how the disease spreads. Understanding more about the ecology of the disease will allow us to offer advice to the public on how to limit the spread of infection, which could also prevent the movement of other frog diseases in the future,” says co-author Dr Trent Garner from ZSL.

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