Warning: Use of undefined constant _COOKIE - assumed '_COOKIE' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/scifare.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/sahifa/framework/functions/theme-functions.php on line 1684

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/customer/www/scifare.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/sahifa/framework/functions/theme-functions.php:1684) in /home/customer/www/scifare.com/public_html/wp-includes/feed-rss2.php on line 8
Lee Flohr – Science Fare Media https://scifare.com Science News - Upgraded Wed, 18 Mar 2020 17:26:16 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://scifare.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/ico.png Lee Flohr – Science Fare Media https://scifare.com 32 32 Everyone needs to take a deep breath, we’re going to beat COVID-19 it’s not going to beat us https://scifare.com/editotrial/article/everyone-needs-to-take-a-deep-breath-were-going-to-be-covid-19-its-not-going-to-beat-us/ Wed, 18 Mar 2020 17:18:45 +0000 https://scifare.com/?p=400 Who knew catharsis by Instagram was a thing? Who knew this picture – of any of the millions on the photo-sharing platform – could both accurately take the temperature of the current situation and explain the immense value of journalism, at a time like this? It’s clear to me what the cartoon implies, but the …

The post Everyone needs to take a deep breath, we’re going to beat COVID-19 it’s not going to beat us appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Who knew catharsis by Instagram was a thing?

Who knew this picture – of any of the millions on the photo-sharing platform – could both accurately take the temperature of the current situation and explain the immense value of journalism, at a time like this?

It’s clear to me what the cartoon implies, but the journalist in me has questions. How was that house set ablaze?

What if, it turns out, it was struck by lightning?

Are you telling me that as you watched your neighbours house burn, you drew a cartoon mocking them? Why would you do that instead of a grabbing a hose and then drawing a picture of you helping your neighbour? Even if you stayed home – out of an abundance of caution – you didn’t, at least call 911?

If you called 911, why would you be so inhumane?

This is why we have run on toilet paper. This is also why we need journalism.

That’s why out of an abundance of caution is dangerous.

Out of an abundance of caution I’m packing a gun to go get groceries?!

This is ludacris.

It’s time we move from panic because it’s easy and move to thoughtful reactions that leaving you feeling like you should be offering a roll of TP to your friend because you know wiping your ass with paper towel is a recipe for burning your asshole.

That’s the type of journalism I want to publish at SciFare.com and I hope every newsroom in the world feels the same.  Take a breath – thanks for that Stephanie Ruhle.

We’re in a pandemic. Save your self righteousness.

The post Everyone needs to take a deep breath, we’re going to beat COVID-19 it’s not going to beat us appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Canadian Universities allegedly attacked by Iranian hackers https://scifare.com/technology-news/article/canadian-universities-allegedly-attacked-by-iranian-hackers/ Fri, 23 Mar 2018 18:48:07 +0000 https://scifare.com/?p=392 Canadian universities were among those believed to be hacked by a group associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp. The United States Department of Justice said more than C$4-billion worth of intellectual property and data was stolen from American Universities alone. Nine affiliates of the Tehran-based Mabna Institute have been charged by the Trump administration …

The post Canadian Universities allegedly attacked by Iranian hackers appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Canadian universities were among those believed to be hacked by a group associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp.

The United States Department of Justice said more than C$4-billion worth of intellectual property and data was stolen from American Universities alone.

Nine affiliates of the Tehran-based Mabna Institute have been charged by the Trump administration for, allegedly, targeting more than 100,000 accounts belonging to academics, around the world.

In a statement to Science Fare Media, Canada’s Communications Security Establishment said they’ve reached the same conclusions as their American counterparts, but continue to investigate.

“CSE continues to conduct our own assessment with regard to Canadian impacts.”

The post Canadian Universities allegedly attacked by Iranian hackers appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
World’s oldest evidence of winemaking unearthed in the Republic of Georgia https://scifare.com/science-news/article/worlds-oldest-evidence-of-winemaking-unearthed-in-the-republic-of-georgia/ Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:50:09 +0000 https://scifare.com/?p=383 The post World’s oldest evidence of winemaking unearthed in the Republic of Georgia appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
The post World’s oldest evidence of winemaking unearthed in the Republic of Georgia appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Kilonova blast revealed in unprecedented detail https://scifare.com/uncategorized/article/kilonova-blast-revealed-in-unprecedented-detail/ Tue, 24 Oct 2017 05:29:19 +0000 https://scifare.com/?p=229 The astronomical fender-bender predicted to be the source of all the gold and bling-like elements has been analyzed in unprecedented detail, by an international team of researchers. Kilonova explosion caught on camera by Hubble    

The post Kilonova blast revealed in unprecedented detail appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
The astronomical fender-bender predicted to be the source of all the gold and bling-like elements has been analyzed in unprecedented detail, by an international team of researchers.

Kilonova explosion caught on camera by Hubble

 

 

The post Kilonova blast revealed in unprecedented detail appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Telescope groundbreaking set to be a real blast https://scifare.com/science-news/article/telescope-groundbreaking-set-to-be-a-real-blast/ Thu, 19 Jun 2014 20:40:53 +0000 https://scifare.com/2014/06/19/telescope-groundbreaking-set-to-be-a-real-blast/ Construction of the world’s largest ground based telescope kicked off with a real lame bang. Just before 2:00pm EST, the European Southern Observatory blew the top off Cerro Armazones, a 3,000-metre-high peak in the Chilean Andes. The site will eventually house the European Extremely Large Telescope and will have a primary mirror that’s 39 metres …

The post Telescope groundbreaking set to be a real blast appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Construction of the world’s largest ground based telescope kicked off with a real lame bang.

Just before 2:00pm EST, the European Southern Observatory blew the top off Cerro Armazones, a 3,000-metre-high peak in the Chilean Andes.

The site will eventually house the European Extremely Large Telescope and will have a primary mirror that’s 39 metres across.

The post Telescope groundbreaking set to be a real blast appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine kicks off Nobel Week https://scifare.com/science-news/article/nobel-prize-in-physiology-or-medicine-kicks-off-nobel-week/ Mon, 07 Oct 2013 14:24:02 +0000 https://scifare.com/2013/10/07/nobel-prize-in-physiology-or-medicine-kicks-off-nobel-week/ The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.” The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas …

The post Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine kicks off Nobel Week appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.”

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.”

“These beautiful discoveries have importance for the understanding of the human body and obviously implications for diseases in various organs such as the nervous system, diabetes and immune disorders,” Jan-Inge Henter, professor of clinical child oncology at the Karolinska Institute, said.

More to come.

 

The post Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine kicks off Nobel Week appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Kilonova explosion caught on camera by Hubble https://scifare.com/science-news/article/kilonova-explosion-caught-on-camera-by-hubble/ Thu, 15 Aug 2013 21:41:12 +0000 https://scifare.com/2013/08/15/kilonova-explosion-caught-on-camera-by-hubble/ Roughly 4 billion light years away in the constellation, Leo, the explosive remnant of a stellar collision between two neutron stars – predicted to be the source of all the gold and platinum in our universe – may have been caught on camera by an international team of researchers. The explosive remnant of a stellar …

The post Kilonova explosion caught on camera by Hubble appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Roughly 4 billion light years away in the constellation, Leo, the explosive remnant of a stellar collision between two neutron stars – predicted to be the source of all the gold and platinum in our universe – may have been caught on camera by an international team of researchers.

The explosive remnant of a stellar collision between two neutron stars – predicted to be the source of all the gold and platinum in our universe – may have been caught on camera by an international team of researchers.

The smoking gun was spotted by astronomers – who call it a kilonova because it’s about a thousand times brighter than an exploding white dwarf star – roughly 4 billion light years away in the constellation, Leo.

“We know for sure that neutron stars are going to merge every now and again, but what we weren’t sure of, is whether they’d actually produce all these heavy elements in the process,”  Nial Tanvir, study co-author and astronomer at the U.K.’s University of Leicester, told SciFare.com.

Snapped by Hubble in the near-infrared – beyond the red colours we can see with our eyes and most telescopes – researchers said the fainter, supernova-like explosion may be from the decay of radioactive elements that were created, just a few days earlier, during the astronomical fender-bender.

“If this infrared transient we see is as it appears to be, it has all the right properties for being made up of these heavy, radioactive elements,” Tanvir said.

Gold and platinum are just two of many rapid-process elements that may have been cast out into the cosmos.  Behind the radioactive glow and the kilonova, could be a trove of gold that some researchers estimate to be roughly equivalent to ten times the mass of our moon!

Having a smoking gun may help us better understand the roots all the r-process elements in our periodic table too – a large chunk of elements after iron are predicted to form this way.

“Modeling isn’t tremendously convincing that supernovae will produce large amounts of r-process elements and these neutron star binary mergers have always been seen as an alternative possibility,” Tanvir said. “The difficulty is deciding whether or not they really will produce kilonovae.”

Before they could capture a glimpse of a kilonova though, researchers needed to detect a short-duration gamma-ray burst.

Lasting, at most, a couple of seconds, the intense flashes are some of the earliest hints of a collision between super-dense stellar objects, like two neutron stars – researchers call them compact binary mergers.  In theory, a neutron star colliding with a smaller black hole could produce a similar result too.

“It’s ripping out chunks of neutron star material and flinging them out,” Tanvir said.  “That’s what gives rise to the kilonova.”

On 3 June 2013, a gamma-ray burst that’s predicted to have been about 100 billion times brighter than the kilonova was detected by the Swift telescope and sent out to researchers – an instrument on NASA’s Wind spacecraft also detected it and several ground-based telescopes tracked it in the following days.

The race to characterize the explosion officially launched.

In theory, the kilonova should rise in intensity a couple days after the gamma-ray burst – known technically as GRB 130603b – and glow at its peak for about a week, before plummeting dramatically.

Just ten days later on 13 June 2013, the first round of images were captured by Hubble and by 3 July 2013 they had a second round in both the optical and infrared spectrum.

“That allowed us to confirm that it really was transient light we were seeing and not just some structure in the galaxy,” Tanvir said.

When researchers measured the near-infrared light captured by Hubble in the second epoch’s images and compared it to the near-infrared light in the first, what may be the first evidence of that transient, kilonova, emerged – you can see their analysis in the first sequence of the video.  The kilonova is in the circle.

What was clearly visible in mid-June had faded away by early July.

When they repeated their analysis with images from the visible spectrum of light, they couldn’t see the blast that’s estimated to be as much as 75,000 light years across.  By comparison the Milky Way is 100,000 light years from end-to-end!

“That suggested that whatever it was that we were seeing in the infrared really was dark in the optical, Tanvir said.  “That was important, essentially, because it effectively ruled out the possibility that this light could be the afterglow of the gamma-ray burst.”

Long-duration gamma ray bursts – the earliest signals associated with supernova blasts – are known to have a lingering afterglow and its absence essentially laid the foundation necessary for crowning the blast a kilonova.

“All of the evidence we’ve gathered in the last eight years, from Swift, has kind of pushed little bits and bobs of evidence in support of that idea, but without the crucial breakthrough,” Tanvir said. “I hope this is the crucial breakthrough.”

Detecting a kilonova has some very practical applications, for some of tomorrow’s big experiments – it’s not just a catastrophic explosion that generates an unimaginable amount of gold and other bling-like elements.

“In the future, we’ll be able to use Kilonovae as the optical counterpart of gravitational wave sources,” Tanvir said.  “Without the electromagnetic information, you really only have half the story on gravitational wave sources.”

Two advanced gravitational wave detectors are being set up – one in the United States, the other in Italy – and they essentially measure the catastrophic, ripple-like waves also predicted to be some of the earliest hints of a cataclysmic stellar interaction that bursts in all directions.

Gamma-ray bursts are great, but they’re launched into space with laser-like precision, so if Swift isn’t in the direction to detect it, researchers learn nothing.  Like the gravitational waves predicted to exist by Einstein, the kilonova blasts out in all directions, making it easier to spot than a gamma-ray burst.

“Although they’re much fainter and harder to spot, at least we should be able to see them isotropically,” Tanvir said.

The discovery was first published in the journal, Nature, but it was research that’s so hot, it’s not even off the press yet that pointed them in the proper direction.

In a manuscript submitted to The Astrophysical Journal, a duo of astrophysicists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, predicted the flash that followed the celestial pileup might be detected in the near-infrared, instead of the visible range of light.

“There had been suggestions that it would eject this radioactive material and maybe we’d be able to see it, but people didn’t really know what it would look like,” Daniel Kasen, The Astrophysical Journal study co-author and assistant professor of astronomy and physics at Berkeley, told SciFare.com.

In addition to predicting the blast would be red, they also developed models that Tanvir and his team used to help understand the images that Hubble snapped.

That’s because the research was made publicly available at an online database called ArXiv.org – the X stands for the Greek letter Chi – and essentially allowed the community to confirm the result before it even checked out of the peer-review process.

“It’s an interesting feeling to think it may be something that’s not just in my head or on my computer,” Kasen, who also prefers blingnova as a name for the explosion, said.  “It’s something that’s actually happening in the real world.”

In order to unmask the blast, they needed to figure out how a radioactive cloud of heavy elements might behave after a compact binary merger between two cosmic objects that are about one-and-a-half times the size of our sun.

“There’s really nothing else like it that we can observe,” Kasen said.  “You expect it to have some glow, but what colour and on what timescale, is hard to say.”

Then, researchers had to figure out how the light created from the blast might interact with a radioactive dust cloud.

“We were kind of surprised to find that it was a lot different than anyone had suspected it would be,” Kasen said.  “It was a lot different than any other supernova or typical astrophysics gas, because it’s got all of these heavy elements.”

The researchers said nearly all the light outside the near-infrared may be masked by an extreme version of the process that creates red sunsets.  In the same way that dust in the atmosphere only allows red colours through, bling-like dust may also be blocking and reflecting the light away from Hubble.

Hubble’s now got a perfect record for finding the origins of gamma-ray bursts.  In a 1999 paper that was also published in Nature, it was used to link long-duration gamma-ray bursts to supernovae.  Joshua Bloom was part of that discovery, wasn’t involved in any of the new research and called it all impressive.

“It will give people a pretty good sense that at least some short gamma ray bursts come from the merger of compact objects,” Bloom, who’s also a professor of astronomy at Berkeley, told SciFare.com.

“The big question is when – if ever – will we get another good short burst, to be able to get a good spectrum?”

It’s sort of like the explosion’s barcode.  When they scan it, they’ll see a list of elements in the dust and can compare them to those predicted by theory.  The chance to capture a supernova spectrum took five years, but Bloom hopes nature is more prompt this time.

“Nobody really agrees what they’ll look like, but they’ll certainly look different than supernovae,” he said.

That may also explain why scientists – including Bloom and two astronomers who just studied GRB 130603b – couldn’t find the blast that followed GRB 080503.  After Swift detected it on 3 May 2008, some of the world’s best observatories were poised to capture it, in all its glory and came up short.

“We didn’t find any theory that allowed us to appeal to this as the simplest interpretation,” Bloom said. “The conclusion of that paper was that it was a weird afterglow.”

If history is any indication of what might happen in the future, it probably won’t come during regular working hours either – fortunately technology has made it easier to respond to an overnight event.

Today, Bloom has programmed a computer to respond to Swift events and in turn, it points a telescope in Arizona at the burst – he also has graduate students on the frontline.  That’s because most telescope data is distributed to the field all at once and he said that makes publishing results ultracompetitive.

“I remember buying a whole bunch of pagers for my group at Caltech in 1997,” Bloom said.

As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that in a different manuscript accepted to be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters – but not yet published – a team of Harvard astronomers are also staking a claim as its discoverers.

“My feeling is that we were the first ones to say there is a source there and it is indicative of this kilonova process,” Edo Berger, study co-author and associate professor of astronomy and natural sciences at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Harvard University, told SciFare.com.

“It’s nice to see the group led by Tanvir is essentially reaching the same conclusion.”

This is where it gets uncomfortable.  After Swift detected the gamma-ray burst, it was Tanvir and his colleagues who submitted the application for time-sensitive, director’s discretionary time with Hubble.  You can read a portion of the application here.

Once the first set of images were snapped and released, Tanvir and his group announced they had obtained them using the same instant messaging service that Swift used to first notify the community.  You can read it here.

What’s noticeably absent is the word kilonova, but the researchers do mention finding a source and that Hubble’s slated to snap a second image of it – long-duration gamma-ray bursts are known to have an afterglow.  If it faded away, they said it would rule out an afterglow and pave the way for a kilonova.

Less than eight hours later, the Harvard group had scooped the Hubble data and posted their own analysis of the first photo – you can read it here.   By 17 June 2013 they had submitted it, along with data from their set of ground-based telescopes, to the journal and published their results on ArXiv.org.

“When this group initially reported the first observations, they said there’s nothing there,” Berger said.  “We looked at the data and said that source cannot be anything other than the counterpart to this gamma-ray burst.”

“Because of that discrepancy, we essentially said we need to write this up and publish it,” Berger added.

Both teams had data from ground-based telescopes that had given them insight into the short-lived afterglow they measured in the visible light – a small blast was observed, but quickly faded and never got that bright.

Because the Hubble image didn’t fall anywhere near the afterglow measurements though, the Harvard group ruled it out.

“The optical emission, early on, faded so rapidly that there was no way it could be the afterglow,” Berger said.  “If we extrapolate the initial decline rate to the time of the HST observations, our predicted brightness of the source is about 25 or 30 times fainter than what’s observed.”

Rather than wait for an image in July – once the kilonova had faded away – the Harvard team wanted Hubble to snap more images sooner.

“The second observation was done so late in the game that there would be no detection,” Berger said.  “We actually wrote to the director of the space telescope and asked for additional observations before this very late observation in early July.”

Because the first round of images were made publicly available, they were fair game – so, although it’s an odd situation, there was no wrongdoing in using the data that another team had requested.  Complimentary analyses are even welcomed by the scientific community.

As soon as they’re ready, researchers who study ancient DNA post the genomes online so that everyone can start working on them.  The first journal results that glean information from them are reserved for the group that first posted it though.  No similar agreement exists in astronomy – so it’s all fair game.

“When these kinds of requests for observations go in, essentially, they make the data immediately public to the community, so it gets analyzed in the most robust way,” Berger said.

That may not always be the case.  At the request of Tanvir and his team, the second round of Hubble images were released to them first and to the rest of the community a month later.

“For the second epoch, we made the case that it was important to allow time for a careful analysis,” Tanvir said. “So, that request was granted.”

Just hours after the second round of pictures were made available to the community on 3 August 2013, the Harvard team had uploaded an updated version of the manuscript to ArXiv.org that included both sets of Hubble images.

The thumbnail and cover image were courtesy: Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital, Inc.

The post Kilonova explosion caught on camera by Hubble appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Giant plant-eating dinosaur skulls help researchers understand mega-mingling in the fossil record https://scifare.com/science-news/article/giant-plant-eating-dinosaur-skulls-help-researchers-understand-mega-mingling-in-the-fossil-record/ Wed, 17 Jul 2013 21:19:42 +0000 https://scifare.com/2013/07/17/giant-plant-eating-dinosaur-skulls-help-researchers-understand-mega-mingling-in-the-fossil-record/ The skulls from some of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs to be unearthed at Dinosaur Park may help researchers understand how so many of the mega-sized creatures thrived alongside each other. The skulls from some of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs to roam through Alberta may help researchers understand how so many of the mega-sized creatures were …

The post Giant plant-eating dinosaur skulls help researchers understand mega-mingling in the fossil record appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
The skulls from some of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs to be unearthed at Dinosaur Park may help researchers understand how so many of the mega-sized creatures thrived alongside each other.

The skulls from some of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs to roam through Alberta may help researchers understand how so many of the mega-sized creatures were able to thrive alongside each other – in the 1.5 million years that it was frequented, nearly 20 different species have been unearthed.

Measuring more than 80 skulls, from 12 different megaherbivore groups that once called the region home – roughly 75-million years ago during the Late Cretaceous – the Canadian team found adaptations that allowed them to munch on dinner, without encroaching on their neighbors’.

“These dinosaurs were able to co-exist together because they practiced a strategy called niche partitioning,” Jordan Mallon, study co-author and post-doctoral fellow at the Canadian Museum of Nature, told SciFare.com.  “They ate different foods, so they avoided competing with each other.”

At any given time, at least six of the giant dinosaurs roamed the region that would eventually become the world famous, Dinosaur Park Formation.  Broadly, they fall into three families – ankylosaurs, ceratopsids and hadrosaurs – with, on average, two of each living together at any one time.

We may never know what the giant dinosaurs dined on – weighing in at more than 1,000 kilograms, it was probably a lot though – but researchers said their differences all hint at ways they’ve adapted to getting the most out of their meal. They all got there a little differently too.

Between the two types of armour-coated, tank-like ankylosaurs – distinguished from each other by the presence of a club on the end of their tail – researchers found differences in the jaws the clubless nodosaurids that may have enhanced their ability to chew, relative to the clubbed ankylosaurids.

“They’re positioning their jaw-closing muscles further away from their jaw joint and that increases the mechanical efficiency of the system,” Mallon said.  “For every unit of force their muscles are exerting, they’re getting out a higher percentage of force at the bite point than an ankylosaurid.”

The researchers said that having a more efficient jaw may have allowed the nodosaurids to break down and digest tougher plant material than their clubbed relatives.

When the researchers took a look at the two types of ceratopsids – they can be divided, broadly, based on whether or not they’ve got horns above their eyes – they found differences in the thickness of their snouts.

“The idea is that if [there’s] a taller snout, that might have been a means for resisting bending stress while the animal’s chewing,” Mallon said.

With a thicker snout than the chasmosaurines – they’re the ceratopsids that have horns above their eyes – the rhino horn-like centrosaurines may have been able to deal with the stress of eating tougher plants, in the same way that a short, thick beam is more resistant to breaking than a long, thin one.

For the duck-billed hadrosaurs, researchers said differences in the size of the lambeosaurine skulls – beyond the hollow headgear that separates them from their hadrosaurine relatives – may have allowed the tallest megaherbivores to each carve out their own niche.

“If you have two species and one is larger than the other by a factor of 1.3, you can facilitate resource partitioning based on size alone,” Mallon said.  “The larger size allowed them to basically overtake a new niche.”

Technically known as the Hutchinsonian ratio, it’s a recurring number in biology that’s allowed numerous researchers to better understand how two very similar creatures can thrive alongside each other, without the modifications to the shape of their skulls like the ankylosaurs and ceratopsids.

“It might have allowed the hadrosaurines to subsist on a more fibrous diet,” he added.

That’s because everything else about the hadrosaurines would be 1.3 times larger too. With larger muscles they’d have a larger bite force and with a larger digestive tract, they’d have more time to digest less desirable food.

When all these creatures were alive, a shallow sea split North America in half lengthwise and covered most of the continent between Alberta and Ontario, so understanding how they all thrived alongside each other in a relatively small amount of space is interesting to Paul Barrett.

The researcher at the Natural History Museum in London said he’s been waiting to see the analysis for some time.

“This work shows convincingly that plant-eating dinosaurs living in the same environments had differences in skull shape and presumed feeding behaviour,” Barrett, who’s also the Co-Senior Editor of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, told SciFare.com. “That allowed them to exploit the available vegetation in distinct ways.”

“Although this has been suggested before, this is one of the few studies to examine this in detail and quantitatively,” Barrett added.

The research was published in the journal, PLOS One.

The post Giant plant-eating dinosaur skulls help researchers understand mega-mingling in the fossil record appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Functioning livers created using human stem cells https://scifare.com/health-news/article/functioning-livers-created-using-human-stem-cells/ Tue, 09 Jul 2013 00:02:32 +0000 https://scifare.com/2013/07/08/functioning-livers-created-using-human-stem-cells/ A team of Japanese researchers have created the first functioning liver-like organ using human stem cells. For the first time ever, a team of Japanese researchers have grown a functional, liver-like organ using human stem cells. Known technically as a liver bud – because it formed much like the organ would in a developing embryo …

The post Functioning livers created using human stem cells appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
A team of Japanese researchers have created the first functioning liver-like organ using human stem cells.

For the first time ever, a team of Japanese researchers have grown a functional, liver-like organ using human stem cells.

Known technically as a liver bud – because it formed much like the organ would in a developing embryo – researchers said the proof of concept study may blossom into a framework for generating a variety of replacement organs.

“We simply mimicked the initial process of liver development,” Dr. Takanori Takebe, study co-author and stem cell scientist at the Yokohama City University, told SciFare.com.  “Then, we successfully developed the three-dimensional tissue from liver cells.”

Using stem cells first created from human skin tissue – known technically as induced pluripotent stem cells – researchers created the hepatocyte cells responsible for carrying out the liver’s business.

The same cells that line the inside of our blood vessels and a second type of stem cell, known as mesenchymal stem cells, were then extracted from an umbilical cord – both are known to provide a framework for a variety of functional cells – and researchers grew them alongside the hepatocytes.

“In normal development, they interact with vascular cells and mesenchymal stem cells to move from the two dimensional sheet, to form a three dimensional mass,” Dr. Takebe said.

The video at the top of the page shows the three cell types, self-organizing into the three-dimensional tissue.

After they self-assembled into a liver bud roughly four-millimeter across – that’s about as big as a Tic Tac – researchers transplanted them into a mouse and within two days, had hooked up to the creature’s blood vessels.

“Vascularization is very important, not only for the perfusion of blood flow to supply nutrients and oxygen, but also for the maturation into a functional organ,” Dr. Takebe said. “They support, directly, the functional maturation of hepatic cells and other kinds of functional cells.”

After being transplanted into the brains and abdomens of mice – transplanting it into the brain just made it easier for researchers to watch the organ mature – the liver buds continued to grow, started producing liver-specific enzymes and even started producing liver-specific metabolites.

When the researchers challenged the transplanted organ to process drugs that mouse livers normally can’t, they did that too.  They even extended the life of mice without a functioning liver.

“That means the human liver buds have matured into the functional liver tissues to perform the drug metabolism,” Dr. Takebe said.  “This is a very important function of liver tissue.”

Mimicking a developing embryo comes with its own challenges, researchers said – it’s also a tribute to the importance of basic research.

Since a Tic Tac-sized liver isn’t practical for an adult suffering from liver disease, they’re looking at ways to decrease their size – so they can be delivered with minimal invasion – and increase the amount transplanted, so they can expedite a process that usually takes several months.

“We have to produce significant amounts of liver buds in vitro, at a reasonable cost, including safety assessments,” Dr. Takebe said.

The current experiments only lasted a couple months, so understanding how they might perform in longer term conditions is also important.

In the near term, they may be particularly handy for researchers interested in using them for safety assessments though.  Because they metabolize compounds like a human liver, researchers may be able to use them to test the toxicity of new drugs.

Because the organ bud process isn’t unique to the liver, the possibility of exploiting the technique to generate other organs, like a pancreas or kidney, may be possible too.

“We are now assessing the application to other organs and so far, are getting good results,” Dr. Takebe said.

Chad Cowan is a stem cell researcher at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Boston.  He said the new experiments were both elegant and simple – and almost unbelievable.

“We’ve been striving to even make single cell types like motor neurons, liver cells or even a blood cell,” Cowan told SciFare.com.  “This goes far beyond an individual cell – it’s a collection of cells that function together.”

His lab’s particularly interested in elucidating the underlying mechanisms that coaxed the individual cells to self-assemble into a functioning organ.  He’s also interested in how it affected their maturation.

“Since we know that self-assembly resulted in more mature cells, we might be able to better understand how to make them truly functional, like an adult cell type,” Cowan said.

The research and more videos were published in the journal, Nature.

Images on the front page and the video were provided by: Dr. Takanori Takebe

The post Functioning livers created using human stem cells appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
Commander Hadfield helps researchers unravel mysteries of space travel https://scifare.com/science-news/article/commander-hadfield-helps-researchers-unravel-mysteries-of-space-travel/ Fri, 14 Jun 2013 21:59:40 +0000 https://scifare.com/2013/06/14/commander-hadfield-helps-researchers-unravel-mysteries-of-space-travel/ While Commander Hadfield’s body readjusts to life on Earth, researchers from Canada and France are studying him so they can better understand the changes that astronauts’ bodies experience while in space. When Commander Chris Hadfield spoke to the world, he talked about the journey his body’s taking – along with the team of doctors helping …

The post Commander Hadfield helps researchers unravel mysteries of space travel appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>
While Commander Hadfield’s body readjusts to life on Earth, researchers from Canada and France are studying him so they can better understand the changes that astronauts’ bodies experience while in space.

When Commander Chris Hadfield spoke to the world, he talked about the journey his body’s taking – along with the team of doctors helping him – while it readjusts to life on terra firma.

He also talked about being poked and prodded by an international team of researchers hoping to better understand the changes astronauts undergo while in orbit.

“I’m a full size, human lab rat and there’s no other way to make this transition happen on Earth,” Commander Hadfield said. “It’s just a gift of weightlessness.”

Some of the other gifts of weightlessness are more subtle to the astronauts and the University of Waterloo’s Richard Hughson, is just one of the researchers trying to understand them.

He’s studying Commander Hadfield – along with eight other astronauts, four of each gender – to see how long duration spaceflight might affect the health of their blood vessels.

“Because they’re so physically inactive, it might accelerate the aging-like process of the arteries,” Hughson told SciFare.com.

Other researchers have found that narrowing and hardening of the arteries may be occurring in animal experiments that simulate the long term effects of spaceflight.  So, Hughson and his team are using ultrasound technology to monitor how their blood vessels might be changing.

They’re also collecting blood and tracking more than 30 signals to look for potential hints.

“Those blood samples are looking for specific markers that might be related to the arterial stiffness,” Hughson said.

Full results aren’t expected for some time – the last of the astronauts, Karen Nyberg, won’t be back until the end of 2013 and some of Commander Hadfield’s blood samples are still on the ISS too – but Hughson said four of them have blood samples that are already yielding some interesting results.

“We’ve seen that a couple of these markers change very consistently in all four,” Hughson said.

This isn’t the first time Hughson’s team has studied the long term effects of microgravity on astronauts – that’s the technical term for studying the gifts of weightlessness.

In 2012, they published a study looking at how long term spaceflight might affect their innate ability to regulate blood pressure – many astronauts have talked about the dizzy feeling they experience after they return home from space.

“It was a little bit reduced after spaceflight, so they’ve lost a little bit of the ability to respond to a drop in blood pressure,” Hughson said.

We experience a similar feeling if we stand up too quickly and it’s the response our body has to make after standing up that may have temporarily gone awry in the astronauts.

“That drops the pressure down at the heart level and you get reflexes that kick in to try and bring the blood pressure back up,” Hughson said.

The blood pressure at our head drops – it’s about 30 per cent less than when we’re lying down – because gravity starts pushing the blood towards our feet.  The amount of blood headed to the brain stays fairly constant.

“That’s because the brain’s blood vessels dilate just enough to bring the blood flow back up to where it should be again,” Hughson said.

After we’ve adjusted to life with our head above our heart, the amount of oxygen and nutrients flowing to the brain needs to be maintained.  When the oxygen level decreases, it signals our vessels to dilate – just like it does when we stand up – so the amount of oxygen in our tissues doesn’t drop.

“We think nitric oxide is one of the main contributors to dilation of the brain blood vessels,” Hughson said.

In addition to seeing a temporary drop in the astronauts’ ability to regulate their blood pressure, researchers also found a small decrease in their blood vessels’ ability to dilate in response to an increase in carbon dioxide levels – an increase in carbon dioxide is the same as a decrease in oxygen.

“If you’ve had a reduction in the carbon dioxide response, it might mean that you’ve got a somewhat reduced nitric oxide response,” Hughson said.

How it changes isn’t clear, but the body may be adjusting to another new normal – the oxygen levels onboard the ISS are similar to those on Earth, but the levels of carbon dioxide are about ten times higher, so it may be due to a rebalancing effort too.   The answers may be waiting for them in the blood samples they’re collecting now though.

Animal models of space-like conditions hint at other changes the astronauts may be experiencing while they’re in orbit. In fact, Hughson said his team’s about to submit some research that shows the shape of the astronauts’ blood vessels may be changing in space just like the animal models did.

“Because of that sustained, elevated pressure, the blood vessel walls might get thicker,” Hughson said.

Tracking the subtle changes in their shape is easy when you’re an ultrasound expert like Dr. Philippe Arbeille – the physicist and physician is also part of the team studying the astronauts.

He’s also developing a robot that would allow him to control an onboard ultrasound probe from his office in Tours, France – it’s not as easy for astronauts who only have a basic level of training.

“The major challenge is to collect a good view of the organ,” Dr. Arbeille told SciFare.com.

His team’s off to a good start.  They’ve already developed a version of the robot that allows him to remotely control ultrasound probes that have been set up in rural French communities.

Working with the local physician, the probe is set on the region of interest and from his office at the Université de Tours, Dr. Arbeille makes the fine adjustments via an internet and video connection.

“As soon as he puts the robot on the body, we take control of the robot and take the image,” Dr. Arbeille said.

He said longer range tests in Spain and Romania have also yielded similar, high quality images.

“The objective was to use satellite communication to see if the image, as it travels through the satellite network, is destroyed,” Dr. Arbeille said.

His next goal is to reduce its size and weight – dramatically.  It’s currently about the size of a robot vacuum cleaner and in order for it to fly on the ISS, it needs to shrink to about the size of a tennis ball.

This sort of collateral benefit isn’t unique.  A lot of the changes that an astronaut experiences in space, are similar to challenges faced by people as they age.  Understanding where they converge may help researchers develop better interventions for everyone.

“If we can identify things that are changing in the astronauts, maybe we can come back and focus on those markers in the aging population,” Hughson said.

Hughson said that astronauts are minimizing the bone-density loss they experience in space by taking osteoporosis medication and his team’s just finished using a lot of the same techniques to look at how the aging process changes the shape and function of blood vessels.

“We showed that as the arteries got stiffer, brain blood flow decreased,” Hughson said.

How it all relates isn’t clear, but Hughson said that looking for connections is something that’s always on his mind.

“We’re all interested in keeping everyone as healthy as possible, for as long as possible,” He said.

The post Commander Hadfield helps researchers unravel mysteries of space travel appeared first on Science Fare Media.

]]>