SAVE THE DATE: EIT ICT Labs Partner Event 2015

SAVE THE DATE - the EIT ICT Labs Partner Event 2015 - focus on results, impact and Call 2016! EIT ICT Labs Partner Event 2015 will be held in Trento, Italy on April 15-16 with Action Line Preparation Workshops on [...]
SAVE THE DATE - the EIT ICT Labs Partner Event 2015 - focus on results, impact and Call 2016! EIT ICT Labs Partner Event 2015 will be held in Trento, Italy on April 15-16 with Action Line Preparation Workshops on April 17. The theme of the Partner Event 2015 is "Sustain our Vision" and the programme will focus on the achievements and impact of EIT ICT Labs as well as the Call 2016. Look forward to an engaging and productive event that will cover presentations on the state of affairs, the call process and guidelines, inspirational talks, start-up success stories, workshops and great networking opportunities. The number of participants is limited to 400 people.
EIT ICT Labs aims to ensure participation of all those who wish to attend. However, each event has a limited capacity, and to guarantee a fair balance amongst nodes and partners, EIT ICT Labs may have to restrict attendance.

Priority will be given to those with clear connection to the Call 2016.
Invitations and more information will come in January 2015. EIT ICT Labs.
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First Detailed Microscopy Evidence of Bacteria at the Lower Size Limit of Life

This cryo-electron tomography image reveals the internal structure of an ultra-small bacteria cell like never before. The cell has a very dense interior compartment and a complex cell wall. The darker spots at each end of the cell are most likely ribosomes. The image was obtained from a 3-D reconstruction. The scale bar is 100 nanometers. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)
This cryo-electron tomography image reveals the internal structure of an ultra-small bacteria cell like never before. The cell has a very dense interior compartment and a complex cell wall. The darker spots at each end of the cell are [...]
This cryo-electron tomography image reveals the internal structure of an ultra-small bacteria cell like never before. The cell has a very dense interior compartment and a complex cell wall. The darker spots at each end of the cell are most likely ribosomes. The image was obtained from a 3-D reconstruction.
The scale bar is 100 nanometers.

(Credit: Berkeley Lab) Scientists have captured the first detailed microscopy images of ultra-small bacteria that are believed to be about as small as life can get. The research was led by scientists from the U. S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley.
The existence of ultra-small bacteria has been debated for two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive electron microscopy and DNA-based description of the microbes until now. The cells have an average volume of 0.

009 cubic microns (one micron is one millionth of a meter).
About 150 of these bacteria could fit inside an Escherichia coli cell and more than 150,000 cells could fit onto the tip of a human hair. The scientists report their findings Friday, Feb. 27, in the journal Nature Communications.
The diverse bacteria were found in groundwater and are thought to be quite common.

They’re also quite odd, which isn’t a surprise given the cells are close to and in some cases smaller than several estimates for the lower size limit of life. This is the smallest a cell can be and still accommodate enough material to sustain life.
The bacterial cells have densely packed spirals that are probably DNA, a very small number of ribosomes, hair-like appendages, and a stripped-down metabolism that likely requires them to rely on other bacteria for many of life’s necessities. The bacteria are from three microbial phyla that are poorly understood. Learning more about the organisms from these phyla could shed light on the role of microbes in the planet’s climate, our food and water supply, and other key processes.
A lifeline to other cells? Cryo-transmission electron microscopy captured numerous hairlike appendages radiating from the surface of this ultra-small bacteria cell. The scientists theorize the pili-like structures enable the cell to connect with other microbes and obtain life-giving resources. The scale bar is 100 nanometers.

(Credit: Berkeley Lab) “These newly described ultra-small bacteria are an example of a subset of the microbial life on earth that we know almost nothing about,” says Jill Banfield, a Senior Faculty Scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and a UC Berkeley professor in the departments of Earth and Planetary Science and Environmental Science, Policy and Management. “They’re enigmatic. These bacteria are detected in many environments and they probably play important roles in microbial communities and ecosystems. But we don’t yet fully understand what these ultra-small bacteria do,” says Banfield.
Banfield is a co-corresponding author of the Nature Communications paper with Birgit Luef, a former postdoctoral researcher in Banfield’s group who is now at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. “There isn’t a consensus over how small a free-living organism can be, and what the space optimization strategies may be for a cell at the lower size limit for life.

Our research is a significant step in characterizing the size, shape, and internal structure of ultra-small cells,” says Luef.
The scientists set out to study bacteria from phyla that lack cultivated representatives. Some of these bacteria have very small genomes, so the scientists surmised the bacteria themselves might also be very small. To concentrate these cells in a sample, they filtered groundwater collected at Rifle, Colorado through successively smaller filters, down to 0.
2 microns, which is the size used to sterilize water.

The resulting samples were anything but sterile. They were enriched with incredibly tiny microbes, which were flash frozen to -272 degrees Celsius in a first-of-its-kind portable version of a device called a cryo plunger.
This ensured the microbes weren’t damaged in their journey from the field to the lab. The frozen samples were transported to Berkeley Lab, where Luef, with the help of Luis Comolli of Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, characterized the cells’ size and internal structure using 2-D and 3-D cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. The images also revealed dividing cells, indicating the bacteria were healthy and not starved to an abnormally small size.
The bacteria’s genomes were sequenced at the Joint Genome Institute, a DOE Office of Science User Facility located in Walnut Creek, California, under the guidance of Susannah Tringe. The genomes were about one million base pairs in length. In addition, metagenomic and other DNA-based analyses of the samples were conducted at UC Berkeley, which found a diverse range of bacteria from WWE3, OP11, and OD1 phyla.
This combination of innovative fieldwork and state-of-the-art microscopy and genomic analysis yielded the most complete description of ultra-small bacteria to date.

Among their findings: Some of the bacteria have thread-like appendages, called pili, which could serve as “life support” connections to other microbes. The genomic data indicates the bacteria lack many basic functions, so they likely rely on a community of microbes for critical resources. The scientists also discovered just how much there is yet to learn about ultra-small life. “We don’t know the function of half the genes we found in the organisms from these three phyla,” says Banfield.
The scientists also used the Advanced Light Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Berkeley Lab, where Hoi-Ying Holman of the Earth Sciences Division helped determine the majority of the cells in the samples were bacteria, not Archaea. The research is a significant contribution to what’s known about ultra-small organisms.

Recently, scientists estimated the cell volume of a marine bacterium at 0.
013 cubic microns, but they used a technique that didn’t directly measure the cell diameter. There are also prior electron microscopy images of a lineage of Archaea with cell volumes as small as 0. 009 cubic microns, similar to these bacteria, including results from some of the same researchers.
Together, the findings highlight the existence of small cells with unusual and fairly restricted metabolic capacities from two of the three major branches of the tree of life.

The research was supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.  ### Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe.
Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U. S.
Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www. lbl.
gov. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

For more information, please visit the Office of Science website at science.
energy. gov/.

Additional information:  The paper, “Diverse uncultivated ultra-small bacterial cells in groundwater,” is published in Nature Communications on Feb. 27, 2015. The post First Detailed Microscopy Evidence of Bacteria at the Lower Size Limit of Life appeared first on News Center.
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Bluebird moms can make competitive sons

male mountain bluebirds
Female bluebirds can produce more or less competitive sons by influencing the amounts of hormones in their eggs, say biologists. “Mothers are uniquely positioned to be a bridge between current environmental conditions and the traits of their offspring,” says [...]
Female bluebirds can produce more or less competitive sons by influencing the amounts of hormones in their eggs, say biologists. “Mothers are uniquely positioned to be a bridge between current environmental conditions and the traits of their offspring,” says Renée Duckworth, an assistant professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology in the University of Arizona College of Science. “This is one of those rare cases where we can see how these local behavioral interactions, which can be exceptionally variable, can lead to highly predictable ecological patterns on a large scale. ” While scientists have long known that females of many animal species provide their offspring with much more than their genes—nutrients, hormones, and other valuable ingredients for life—few examples have been documented in which the maternal contribution to offspring generation directly shapes their environment and interactions with other species on a large, landscape-wide level.
The study, published in Science, provides the first detailed understanding of how environmental conditions can directly influence behavioral patterns across generations, behaviors that in turn lead to one species replacing another in ecological communities. “We want to know how understanding the lower-level mechanisms help you make sense of higher-level patterns as you go from the small scale of individuals interacting to the large scale of entire populations and landscapes,” says Duckworth, who leads a research group that addresses how interactions among individuals scale up to affect broader ecological processes.

Tough competition To find answers, the team studied populations of western bluebirds and mountain bluebirds, two closely related species that compete for nesting cavities in patches of forest recently ravaged by wildfires.
Because bluebirds depend on those habitats as their prime nesting grounds, members of both species are in intense competition with each other and also with birds of other species looking to colonize the same spaces. Mountain and western bluebirds compete for nest cavities in post-fire forests—a successional habitat that lasts for roughly 20 bluebird generations. Bluebirds must be able to continually recolonize newly available post-fire habitat to survive.

This leads to cycles of species replacement: Mountain bluebirds are more dispersive and find new habitat first, whereas western bluebirds are more aggressive and can displace other species once they show up. Once western bluebirds displace mountain bluebirds, they go through a rapid decline in aggressive behavior until the cycle is reset by fire. “We had some evidence there was a maternal effect that influenced variation in aggression of offspring that we observed,” Duckworth says. “We knew that if a son develops in eggs laid earlier, he is more aggressive compared to sons hatching from later eggs.
But we didn’t know why birth order influences aggression, and why mothers produce sons early or late. ” Stealing nest cavities Duckworth and her colleagues suspected that the mothers’ response to different resource environments was driving these cycles in the post-fire habitats, but they needed to collect data from the individual all the way up to the population level at multiple populations across different stages of species replacement.

To determine how nest cavity resources influenced the maternal effects, the researchers separated the territories into two groups: one that had only a single nest cavity up for grabs, and randomly selected other territories, which they provided with additional nest boxes. They then recorded how the females behaved, as other bluebirds, wrens, or tree swallows, the most dominant competitor, beleaguered them. During such competitive interactions, the researchers also measured hormonal allocation of these females into their developing eggs and the effects such allocation had on behavior of resulting offspring. “If the bluebird females had only one cavity, they had to continuously fend off the other competitive species,” Duckworth says.
“But if they have a lot of nest cavities on their territory, they don’t fight as often because other species don’t try to steal their primary nest cavity as much. ” Establishing these behavioral differences was key to understanding how information about changes in resource availability could be transmitted to offspring.

‘Stay-at-home’ sons Duckworth and her team studied hundreds of nests across populations that were at different stages during the population cycle and studied what maternal effects were at work at each stage.
The scientists then combined that data with a long-term study done over 11 years and measured hormone allocation in the naturally varying bluebird populations. They discovered that when western bluebirds experienced a lot of competition, they allocated more androgens to their clutches. As a result, sons hatching from these eggs were more aggressive and more likely to disperse farther and colonize new areas.
Once there, they establish large territories and drive out resident populations of mountain bluebirds.

On the other hand, if the females experienced very little competition, they allocated low levels of androgens to eggs, producing “stay-at-home” sons that were less aggressive and more likely to obtain a territory near their parents’ nest. “The older a population, the more crowded it gets,” Duckworth says.
“This translates to smaller territory size, and that’s OK if you have your relatives next to you, but not if you’re facing fierce competition from strangers. ” In the greater scheme of things, Duckworth’s research has implications that go far beyond the world of ecological interactions. “There is mounting evidence from medical research that the environment to which a pregnant mother is exposed can determine the stress response of the offspring for rest of its life,” says Duckworth.
“We are excited to start looking at eco-evolutionary dynamics in this system, which is how changes in behavior are driven by rapid evolutionary changes or demographic effects,” she says. “There is a heritable variation in and natural selection on aggression in this system, and our goal is to see how maternal effects play into the mix and to tease apart the relative importance of all of these in long-term evolution. ” Source: University of Arizona The post Bluebird moms can make competitive sons appeared first on Futurity.
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Unlocking the Key to Immunological Memory in Bacteria

Bacteria and archaea “remember” viral infections by inserting short spacer sequences (toe-tagged) stolen from the invading DNAs between repeat elements (gray) of the host’s genomic CRISPR loci. (Graphic by Megan Riel-Mehan)
Bacteria and archaea “remember” viral infections by inserting short spacer sequences (toe-tagged) of genetic information stolen from the invader between repeat elements (gray) of the host’s genomic CRISPR loci. (Graphic by Megan Riel-Mehan) A powerful genome editing tool may [...]
Bacteria and archaea “remember” viral infections by inserting short spacer sequences (toe-tagged) of genetic information stolen from the invader between repeat elements (gray) of the host’s genomic CRISPR loci. (Graphic by Megan Riel-Mehan) A powerful genome editing tool may soon become even more powerful. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have unlocked the key to how bacteria are able to “steal” genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system. “We’ve shown that bacteria need only two proteins to facilitate this process, Cas1 and Cas2,” says Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division.
“Our findings could provide an alternative way of introducing needed genetic information into a human cell or correcting a problem in an existing genome. ” Doudna, who also holds appointments with the University of California (UC) Berkeley’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Department of Chemistry, and is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), is the corresponding author of a paper in Nature that describes the research.

The paper is titled “Integrase-mediated spacer acquisition during CRISPR–Cas adaptive immunity.
” The lead author is James Nuñez, a member of Doudna’s UC Berkeley research group. Other authors are Amy Lee and Alan Engelman. Bacteria face a never-ending onslaught from viruses and invading strands of nucleic acid known as plasmids.
To survive this onslaught, bacteria and archaea deploy a variety of defense mechanisms, including an adaptive-type immune system that revolves around a unit of DNA known as CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

A CRISPR unit of DNA is made up of “repeat” elements, base-pair sequences ranging from 30 to 60 nucleotides in length, separated by “spacer” elements, variable sequences that are also from 30 to 60 nucleotides in length. Through the combination of CRISPR and squads of CRISPR-associated – “Cas” – proteins, bacteria are able to utilize small customized RNA molecules to silence critical portions of a foreign invader’s genetic message and acquire immunity from similar invasions in the future by “remembering” prior infections.
Doudna and her research group have been pioneers in unraveling the mysteries behind the CRISPR-based immunological memory of bacteria. Jennifer Doudna and James Nuñez led a study that revealed how bacteria “steal” genetic information from foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt) “We’ve learned that bacteria can acquire critical pieces of genetic information from foreign invaders and insert this information into the CRISPR loci within their own genome as new spacers,” Nuñez says.
“These foreign-derived spacers basically function as a memory bank. ” Until now, however, it was not known how spacers are stolen from the foreign invader’s genome and transferred into the CRISPR loci of the host. Working with the bacteria E.
coli and using high-through­put sequencing of spacers inserted in vitro, Doudna, Nuñez and their colleagues found that the memorizing proteins – Cas1 and Cas2 – recognize repeating sequences in CRISPR loci and target these sites for the spacer insertion process. “Repeat sequences in a host bacterium’s CRISPR locus form DNA cruciform (cross-shaped) structures that recruit Cas1 and Cas2 to the site for the insertion of spacer sequences,” Nuñez says.

“The cruciform structures tell Cas1 and Cas2 precisely where to place the spacer sequences from a foreign invader, a virus or a plasmid.
When the process is completed, the host bacterium is now immune to future infections from that same type of virus or plasmid. ” Doudna and her group believe that it may be possible in the future to program Cas1 and Cas2 proteins with a DNA sequence that carries desired information, i. e.
, codes for a specific protein, then insert this DNA into the appropriate site in the genome of a human cell using additional Cas1 and Cas2 proteins.

“It turns out that bacteria and archaea have been using Cas1 and Cas2 proteins in their immunization process for millions of years,” says Nuñez. “Our next task is to figure out the rules behind the process and how to apply them to human cells.
” This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Additional Information For more information about Jennifer Doudna and her research group go here The post Unlocking the Key to Immunological Memory in Bacteria appeared first on News Center.
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Brain scans show extroverts come in 2 types

man laughs
When scientists scanned the brains of two types of extroverts—”people persons” and “go-getters”—they found similarities, but also distinct differences in their brain anatomy. “These are people just sharing with you how they tend to experience the world and what’s important [...]
When scientists scanned the brains of two types of extroverts—”people persons” and “go-getters”—they found similarities, but also distinct differences in their brain anatomy. “These are people just sharing with you how they tend to experience the world and what’s important to them,” says Tara White, assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences in the Brown University School of Public Health and corresponding author of the new study. “The fact that that’s validated in the brain is really exciting. There’s a deep reality there.
” The report, published in Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, is based on structural MRI scans of 83 men and women ranging in age from 18 to 54. That makes it the first study to produce evidence of the physical similarities and differences between extrovert types in the brain across adulthood.

One other study had made such observations only in seniors.
“This is the first glimpse of a benchmark of what the healthy adult brain looks like with these traits,” says White. Extroversion on the inside In this study, subjects were first screened for mental and physical health and then were given standard personality tests that measured scores of both kinds of extroversion. Psychologists call the people persons “affiliative” and the go-getters “agentic”.
The subjects then underwent MRI scans designed to detect the volume of gray matter in different regions of their brain.

From the psychological literature on extroversion, White and lead author Erica Grodin, a graduate student, knew they wanted to look in regions of interest such as the medial orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in making choices based on reward. They also cast a broader net of analysis across the whole brain using a technique called voxel-based morphometry.
The results As expected, they found that higher degrees of either kind of extroversion significantly correlated with higher gray matter volumes in the right and left medial orbitofrontal cortex, even after controlling for possible confounding factors such as age.

But among the people with higher agentic extroversion scores, they also found several other regions that had significantly larger gray matter volumes: the parahippocampal gyrus (involved in learning and memory for reward); the precentral gyrus, cingulate gyrus, and caudate (involved in the cognitive control of behavior and the initiation, planning, and execution of voluntary movement toward goals); and, among the men in the study, the nucleus accumbens (involved in incentive reward). So while both kinds of extroverts had higher volumes in one key brain region, agentic extroverts also had higher volumes in several other areas. White and Grodin found many of those other areas through the VBM analysis of the whole brain. The authors caution that the study shows only an association, not whether or how larger volumes result in the personality traits.
It also does not explain when larger volumes develop—for example, whether people are born with or acquire the larger volumes associated with either extroversion tendency. But with further research, the new data could help scientists to better understand changes in emotionality over time.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research, the Foundation for Alcohol Research, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded the work.

Source: Brown University The post Brain scans show extroverts come in 2 types appeared first on Futurity.
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How tiny wires trap a ‘tornado’

Wider use of superconductors may hinge on stopping the nanoscopic mischief that electron vortices cause when they skitter from side to side across a conducting material, spoiling the zero-resistance current.  (Credit:
Wires only a billionth as thick as a human hair may help keep the “super” in superconductivity. Superconductors are materials that, at low temperatures, can carry electric current without the wasteful loss of energy caused by resistance. But this [...]
Wires only a billionth as thick as a human hair may help keep the “super” in superconductivity. Superconductors are materials that, at low temperatures, can carry electric current without the wasteful loss of energy caused by resistance. But this useful ability can be crippled or lost when electrons swirl into tiny tornado-like formations called vortices. Magnetic fields, such as those produced by electric motors, can cause these disruptive mini-twisters.
Physicists have now figured out how to trap troublesome vortices within extremely short, ultra-thin nanowires, keeping supercurrents flowing. The discovery is reported in the journal Physical Review Letters.

“We have found a way to control individual vortices to improve the performance of superconducting wires,” says Nina Markovic, associate professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University.
From MRI scanners to cell phones Maintaining resistance-free current in superconductors is important because these materials play a key role in devices such MRI medical scanners, particle accelerators, photon detectors and the radio frequency filters used in cell phone systems. Superconductors are expected to become critical components in future quantum computers, which will be able to do more complex calculations than current machines. Wider use of superconductors may hinge on stopping the nanoscopic mischief that electron vortices cause when they skitter from side to side across a conducting material, spoiling the zero-resistance current.
Markovic says other researchers have tried to keep vortices from disrupting a supercurrent by “pinning” the twisters to impurities in the conducting material, which renders them unable to move.

“Edges can also pin the vortices, but it is more difficult to pin the vortices in the bulk middle area of the material, farther away from the edges,” she adds.

“To overcome this problem, we made a superconducting sample that consists mostly of edges: a very narrow aluminum nanowire. ” These nanowires, Markovic says, are flat strips about one-billionth as wide as a human hair and only about 50 to 100 times longer than their width. Each nanowire forms a one-way highway that allows pairs of electrons to zip ahead at a supercurrent pace. Because of the material’s ultra-thin design, “only one short vortex row can fit within the nanowires,” Markovic says.
“Because there is an edge on each side of them, the vortices are trapped in place and the supercurrent can just slip around them, maintaining the resistance-free speed. ” The  National Science Foundation supported the work.

Source: Johns Hopkins University The post How tiny wires trap a ‘tornado’ appeared first on Futurity.
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Image of the Week: The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Dark Bathroom (Tub), Corinne May Botz, 2004. Image courtesy of the artist
Dark Bathroom (Tub), Corinne May Botz, 2004. Image courtesy of Corinne Botz and Benrubi Gallery. This unsettling image of a doll meeting her untimely end, carries a deadly serious purpose. It is a close up portrait of one the [...]
Dark Bathroom (Tub), Corinne May Botz, 2004. Image courtesy of Corinne Botz and Benrubi Gallery. This unsettling image of a doll meeting her untimely end, carries a deadly serious purpose. It is a close up portrait of one the twenty miniature crime scenes created by American heiress and criminologist Frances Glessner Lee in the 1940s and 50s.
Termed ‘The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death’, each of these macabre dollhouse scenes was based on a composite of actual crimes. Their purpose was to train police investigators in a more methodical approach when observing and collecting evidence, while encouraging better interaction between law enforcement and the medical community.

The Nutshells are still used for police training in Baltimore today.
Our featured image this week was created by artist and author Corinne May Botz, who spent several years photographing the Nutshells and researching the work and life of Glessner Lee. She was particularly fascinated by the ways in which these meticulously crafted crime scenes, created by a self-taught, wealthy socialite, subvert the notion of the home as a safe haven, especially for their (mostly female) victims. Her photographs magnify Glessner Lee’s miniature worlds of domestic violence to an unnervingly human scale.

A selection of Corinne May Botz’s compelling photographs are on display, alongside one of Glessner Lee’s original Nutshell studies, as part of Wellcome Collection’s new (and free!) exhibition ‘Forensics: The anatomy of crime’, which opened this week. Filed under: Wellcome Collection, Wellcome Featured Image Tagged: Crime, forensics, Photography, Wellcome Collection .
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Hubble Images a Dusty Galaxy, Home to an Exploding Star

The galaxy pictured here is NGC 4424, located in the constellation of Virgo. It is not visible with the naked eye but has been captured here with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Although it may not be obvious from this [...]
The galaxy pictured here is NGC 4424, located in the constellation of Virgo. It is not visible with the naked eye but has been captured here with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Although it may not be obvious from this image, NGC 4424 is in fact a spiral galaxy. In this image it is seen more or less edge on, but from above, you would be able to see the arms of the galaxy wrapping around its center to give the characteristic spiral form.
In 2012, astronomers observed a supernova in NGC 4424 — a violent explosion marking the end of a star’s life. During a supernova explosion, a single star can often outshine an entire galaxy.

However, the supernova in NGC 4424, dubbed SN 2012cg, cannot be seen here as the image was taken ten years prior to the explosion.
Along the central region of the galaxy, clouds of dust block the light from distant stars and create dark patches. To the left of NGC 4424 there are two bright objects in the frame. The brightest is another, smaller galaxy known as LEDA 213994 and the object closer to NGC 4424 is an anonymous star in our Milky Way.

European Space Agency Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Gilles Chapdelaine
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The Shuttle Enterprise

In 1976, NASA's space shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities and was greeted by NASA officials and cast members from the 'Star Trek' television series. From left to right they are: NASA Administrator Dr. James D. Fletcher; [...]
In 1976, NASA's space shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities and was greeted by NASA officials and cast members from the 'Star Trek' television series.

From left to right they are: NASA Administrator Dr. James D. Fletcher; DeForest Kelley, who portrayed Dr. "Bones" McCoy on the series; George Takei (Mr.
Sulu); James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott); Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura); Leonard Nimoy (Mr.

Spock); series creator Gene Roddenberry;  U.
S. Rep. Don Fuqua (D.
-Fla.

); and, Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov). NASA is mourning the passing today, Feb.
27, 2015, of actor Leonard Nimoy, most famous for his role as Star Trek's Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock. The sci-fi classic served as an inspiration for many at NASA over the years, and Nimoy joined other cast members at special NASA events and worked to promote NASA missions, as in this 2007 video he narrated before the launch of the Dawn mission to the asteroid belt.
Nimoy also was there for the 1976 rollout of the shuttle Enterprise, named for the show's iconic spacecraft.

Image Credit: NASA
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Reconstructing topsy-turvy paleoclimate of Western U.S. 21,000 years ago

Jessica Oster, front, doing fieldwork in Nevada
Researchers have created the first comprehensive map of the topsy-turvy climate in the Western U.S. 21,000 years ago, when the Southwest was wet and the Northwest was dry, and are using it to test and improve the global climate [...]
Researchers have created the first comprehensive map of the topsy-turvy climate in the Western U. S. 21,000 years ago, when the Southwest was wet and the Northwest was dry, and are using it to test and improve the global climate models that have been developed to predict how precipitation patterns will change in the future.

Full story at http: //news. vanderbilt. edu/2015/02/time-when-climate-was-topsy-turvy-in-western-u-s-aids-climate-prediction-efforts/SourceVanderbilt UniversityThis is an NSF News From the Field item.
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The better to see you with: Prosthetic leg would keep an eye on the path ahead

a robotic prosthetic ankle
Mo Rastgaar is poised to take a giant step forward in the development of a better prosthetic ankle. Full story at http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2015/february/better-see-you-with-prosthetic-leg-would-keep-eye-path-ahead.html Source Michigan Technological University This is an NSF News From the Field item.
Mo Rastgaar is poised to take a giant step forward in the development of a better prosthetic ankle.

Full story at http: //www. mtu. edu/news/stories/2015/february/better-see-you-with-prosthetic-leg-would-keep-eye-path-ahead. htmlSourceMichigan Technological UniversityThis is an NSF News From the Field item.
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High-pressure air fights aircraft noise – compressed air substantially reduces engine noise

The large blades of the fan dominate when looking at an aircraft engine from the front. They are also among the largest producers of in-flight noise. Researchers conducting trials at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have now succeeded in [...]
The large blades of the fan dominate when looking at an aircraft engine from the front. They are also among the largest producers of in-flight noise. Researchers conducting trials at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have now succeeded in demonstrating, for the first time anywhere in the world, that fan noise can be reduced substantially by introducing compressed air.
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Africa’s New Energy Producers

New oil and gas discoveries across Africa have raised hopes among governments and citizens alike of significant investments and revenues that will drive economic growth and development well beyond the energy sector. The recent collapse of oil prices and broader uncertainty [...]
New oil and gas discoveries across Africa have raised hopes among governments and citizens alike of significant investments and revenues that will drive economic growth and development well beyond the energy sector. The recent collapse of oil prices and broader uncertainty in energy markets leaves the timetable for capitalizing on these discoveries uncertain. read more.
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