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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in cubbi's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
11:58 pm
Oh, hey, this still exists


Oh, hey, this thing still exists..

You can occasionally see me post things on facebook these days: https://www.facebook.com/cubbi and that's as much as I can do; I've been busy, and the precious minutes I have to myself each day are mostly spent on editing http://cppreference.com or working on the house.

(btw, my C++ career got me pretty far; I'm now working with Bjarne)

Saturday, November 30th, 2013
12:58 pm
I was the 10th Lion King
Had a dream last night where I was the 10th actor to play Simba, which was apparently a life-threatening business to be in, but it got me a nice big apartment with an escape route. Also, my bodyguards were getting killed off within a month, so I never had to pay them.
Saturday, February 9th, 2013
9:29 am
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
11:11 pm
Still too busy to use the Internet much.. have another kitten
Hey, it's 2013! I still can't find time to hang out online much.

Our baby kitten has grown a little (he's 8 months or so now)
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
11:16 pm
what's up
I have been neglecting LJ.. but it's not LJ's fault, I'm mostly gone from the face of the Internet, thanks to the much busier job I have now (since february). Financial industry is intense!

I am not a cold-hearted trader (tried that though, promising but not my cup of tea) I am in it for the community and for the company of other top C++ programmers. Several members of the C++ committee work here. Next week Stroustrup is visiting with a couple lectures.

I dunno what else.. Have a kitten -- I have three now.

Friday, August 24th, 2012
12:32 am
June 2012 in science: from gigapixel camera to fossilized mating
I still want to catch up by the time the Nobels come around.. so, here's what happened in June, after we said good-bye to Ray Bradbury:


High-speed galloping of the cheetah was compared to the greyhound, turns out the cats increase stride frequency as they accelerated, but the dogs don't.

A gigapixel camera was made and somehow earned an article in Nature. The camera weighs over 200 lb, but takes awesome pictures.

In more engineering innovation, a tabletop X-ray laser was made, which might even soon be within lab budgets.

A cure for Ebola was created, that works (on monkeys) when administered 24 hours after infection (previous cures only work if administered within minutes of the infection).

Thanks to Cassini, we're now almost certain that Titan has a global underground ocean. And they used the Love numbers to prove it.

The first example of ring species in plants was found, which exists in St. Croix as two species, but forms a continuous range of interbreeding populations around the Caribbean. Collecting those samples must have been nice.

The first 500 Terabytes of the complete mouse brain circuitry (at mesoscopic level) were relased, here, on Long Island.

Speaking of brain, direct link was proven between ontogenic columns (strings of sister neurons left behind by neuronal progenitors migrating from the center of the brain to its surface) and functional columns (radial brain structures that process related sensory information).

Complete atomic structure of a T3SS needle, the structure through which harmful bacteria inject effector proteins into host cells, causing everything from dysentery to bubonic plague, was resolved.

Speaking of atomic structures, atomic resolution electron tomography went 3D, using Fourier analysis of exit waves.

What else.. Bonobo genome was sequenced, I think it's the last one for the apes.

The interaction of high-speed raindrops and free-flying mosquitos was finally studied. Despite the raindrops being 50 times heavier, the mosquitos simply fly through them, without absorbing momentum.

Several 47-million year old pairs of mating turtles were found in Germany, the first ever prehistoric mating preserved in stone.

Poor human mothers produce fatter milk for their daughters, while rich moms produce fatter milk for their sons... in the areas where men have multiple wives.

Current Mood: geeky
Saturday, August 11th, 2012
1:27 pm
May 2012 in science: from mind-controlled robots to coffee spilling
Continuing my delayed science news reviews, let's see what happened back in May, besides the flight of the Dragon capsule.


Olympicene was designed and created
(see also
wikipedia)

Mind-control interface for the quadruplegics made news - they can control robotic arms now.

The article that suggests that wavefunctions are reality, which I mentioned earlier when it hit the news in November, was finally published.

We learned that two positively charged metal balls attract each other, if they are sufficiently close.

Proof-of-concept nanoscale vaccum tubes were shown to work 10 times faster than the best transistors, and, of course, they are radiation resistant, like all vacuum tubes.

Gamma-ray lenses were created, opening a new field of optics (it was thought impossible to bend a gamma ray like that)

Another graphene-inspired material was made, silicene - a single layer of silicon (you'd think semiconductor researches would have done that earlier)

The old Mars rover found that organic matter has been produced on that planet for ages, with no help from life.

The Dawn spacecraft analyzed the asteroid Vesta and confirmed that it is indeed a protoplanet, with mantle and core and all.

Plutonium-239 was finally observed by NMR

The speed and direction of 15,000 stars in Andromeda galaxy were measured, and it's now definite that it will collide with our galaxy 4 billion years from now.

Undersea microbes were found in 86-million year old sediment that live so slow, it takes them thousands of years to go through a single metabolic turnover. This was far beyond anybody's idea of the lowest level of energy required to sustain life.

The molecular mechanism behind the effects of castor oil on both GI tract and the uterus was discovered.

Ink pigment survived in a 162-year old fossilized ink sac from a Jurassic cephalopod.

Some viruses are piezoelectric when crystallized, enough viral power was generated to run an LCD display .

A jellyfish in Baltic Sea lives and reproduces entirely at larval stage, never becoming adult.

A starfish that walks bilaterally was found (that is, on two legs).

The stone-throwing chimp (who, in 2010, sparked debates on whether he was showing planning and forethought when gathering and arranging the stones overnight to hurl at zoo visitors in the day) came up with a new trick - he now hides the stones close at hand so that the visitors can approach thinking he's empty-handed.

Blond hair evolved in humans twice: the second time was in the Solomon Islands, where 10% of population has blond afros, previously attributed to diet or european influence.

Old people smell exists (despite Penn and Teller's debunking), but is actually more pleasant than young people smell

Boosting the hypothesis that contageous yawning is an empathic social behavior, domestic dogs yawn when they hear humans yawn, if the humans are not strangers.

Dinosaur farts may have produced enough methane to heat up the world.

Math and physics of a pile of office staples was studied in detail. The optimal length-to-width ratio to delay collapse is 0.4.

Math and physics of the spilling coffee was studied as well. Turns out, cofee mug sizes just happen to resonate at the frequencies that match those of a person's leg movements during walking.

Current Mood: geeky
Thursday, July 26th, 2012
12:00 am
April 2012 in science: from light bending to optimal sag
uh-oh, it's almost august.. will I catch up in time for the Nobels?

So, here's what happened in April 2012, besides James Cameron, Ross Perot, and Larry Page starting up the asteroid mining company.


The orbiton, the third, and the most elusive component of the electron, was finally detected (did you know electrons break up into holons, spinons, and orbitons under certain conditions? Those are quasiparticles, but still cool)

Equally cool, the Airy function for slight light bending was shown to be just an approximation and a true solution of Maxwell's equations for self-bending light was found, while another lab empirically found the same solution and created light packets that travel in circles.

Speaking of light, room temperature single-photon emitter was created, based on diamond diode.

Also, prototype quantum network was able to transmit a single qubit over a 60-meter fiberoptic cable, using a single messaging photon.

In ancient history, turns out the late heavy bombardment didn't end abruptly at 3.8Bya as previously thought, and continued for another 2B years, well into the early life (split of bacteria from archaea and the rise of cyanobacteria)

In biology, the hunt for magnetoreception in birds is still going on, this time the location for the organ is the inner ear (eyes and beaks were weakly dominant hypotheses)

Over ten million genetically-modified mosquitos were released in the city of Juazeiro, Brazil (some locals were "worried" to see that), to override the local population and reduce the spread of dengue, and the early results were good.

Manipulation of memory during the reconsolidation phase (discovered just two years ago), already used in a variety of cool ways, was used to help drug addicts forget how to take drugs.

The near-dogma that facial expressions are biological was shaken by the study that showed that the six Darwin's emotions are actually Western European emotions, and the asians don't recognize them in the faces.

In practical news, superhydrophobic coating for cotton fabric was created, more hydrophobic than car wax or Teflon, and unchanged after 95 hours of organic solvents, acids, and bases, and 50 washing machine cycles.

Tight-rope walking was mathematically studied, resulting in the optimal sag formula.

A bizarre single-strand RNA-DNA hybrid virus was discovered in a volcanic hot spring.

The demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica has eyes, even thought it has no nervous system, and they use cryptochromes rather than opsins

In rare geology news, people who build their houses from tuff (specifically, Neapolitan yellow tuff) might be in for a surprise in the event of fire: it falls apart.

In chemistry news, one lab got itself a Nature paper for printing labware on a 3D printers from quick-setting bathroom sealant.

In anti-science news, Tennessee, inspired by Louisiana, made it legal for public schools to teach creationism and climate change denial.

Also, DNA screening of traditional chinese medicine shows what toxic and critically endangered species go into its making, and just how much the ingredients differ from what's on the label.

Current Mood: geeky
Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
4:37 pm
March 2012 in science: from enthalpy of forgetting to snail batteries
Just as everyone is talking about Higgs, here's another one of my hopelessly delayed news reviews...


Animals (snails in this article, but roaches and beetles were done too) with implanted biofuel cells produce electricity. They go about their life, but they have electrodes sticking out, which you can connect to and draw power.

Experiment proved that forgetting (destruction of information) carries a thermodynamic penalty, which puts Maxwell's demon back into its grave after it was brought to life by information-to-energy conversion experiments two years ago.

Heard enough of graphene? Enter graphyne, another 2D conductive allotrope of carbon, with triple bonds and "amazing" [sic] electronic properties..

Careful analysis of scattered light makes it possible to see, in 3D, around the corners.

The 2012 Abel Prize went to Endre Szemerédi, a professor at Rutgers, for many cool theorems deep at the base of graph theory, number theory, theoretical computer science, and the like. Too bad his optimal sorting network is impractical.

The accepted Moon formation theory gets questioned due to titanium isotope ratio, which is exactly like Earth's (theory says 40% of Moon's mass came from Theia which hit the infant Earth)

Neat way to store hydrogen for fuel needs: with the right catalyst, it can reversibly combine with CO2 to form formic acid.

Many carnivore animals lost their ability to taste sugars, independently. Also, sea lions and bottlenose dolphins can't taste umami (they don't need to taste the meat, they swallow food whole).

Since 1996, Tasmanian devils are suffering from transmissible face cancer that spreads through biting (and they *love* biting faces), which has now been sequenced and studied.

Embrionic diapause, the ability to postpone embrio growth after fertilization if the conditions aren't right, may be common to all mammals (rather than 2% as previously thought), including humans.

Proof-of-concept first-ever neutrino communication experiment was successfuly conducted. It took two hours to send the 8 characters of the word 'neutrino' through 210 meters of solid rock.

The atomic nucleus has a neutron skin, and the thickness of that skin was measured.

The palm trees of Australian outback, assumed to be remnants of the lush past, are invasive species, brought in by the humans 15-30k years ago.

Male fruit flies are more likely to choose to eat alcoholic food if they have been sexually rejected by females.

During famine, humans, like other animals, give birth to more girls than boys.

A single dose of LSD can prevent alcoholism

Marijuana-triggered memory lapses happen because it activates astroglial cells, which were previously thought to be supportive material only.

An autonomous robot was launched in the ocean to record fish farts.

Current Mood: geeky
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
11:48 pm
I grew up on Martian Chronicles
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
Будет ласковый дождь, будет запах земли.
Щебет юрких стрижей от зари до зари,
И ночные рулады лягушек в прудах.
И цветение слив в белопенных садах;
Огнегрудый комочек слетит на забор,
И малиновки трель выткет звонкий узор.
И никто, и никто не вспомянет войну
Пережито-забыто, ворошить ни к чему
И ни птица, ни ива слезы не прольёт,
Если сгинет с Земли человеческий род
И весна… и Весна встретит новый рассвет
Не заметив, что нас уже нет.


Current Mood: nostalgic
Thursday, May 24th, 2012
11:43 pm
February 2012 in science
Lake Vostok, the largest of Antarctica's buried lakes, was reached, after 22 years of drilling, at 3,769.3 meters down, narrowly (in terms of years) beating UK and US, each drilling to their own 15-million year old lake.

Speaking of ice, Tyrolean Iceman's genome was sequenced. He had severe arteriosclerosis despite leading the healthy hunter-gatherer lifestyle. He also had Lyme.

Speaking of arteries, Alex, the world's smartest parrot, died of hardened arteries halfway through the experiment where he had shown that he can recognize and add arabic numerals to the sum of 8.

The US government decided to return to allowing (and funding) new nuclear power plants, for the first time since 1978, but nobody wants to build them (except one company with two new reactors).

Majorana fermions, which are their own antiparticles, may have been detected.

Semptember's faster-then-light neutrinos, on the other hand, turned out to be a timing error, after all.

Venus is slowing down pretty fast: the day there in 2007 was 6.5 minutes slower than in 1991.

Iron selenide becomes superconductive at high pressure through a new kind of phase transition.

In cool biology news, functional cancer-killing nanorobots were made using DNA origami.

Also, GPCRs can be docked sideways, by lipids, from within the membrane.

30,000 year old plants from the mammoth steppe ecosystem were brought back to life from permafrost.

In 50 - 200 million years in the future, we're going to have a new supercontinent, Amasia, centered on the North Pole, following the neat pattern of orthoversion (each supercontinent forms 90 degrees from the last one)

Squids fly not just to avoid predators, it's also easier than swimming.

A hot spring archaeon in Kamchatka was caught in the act of diverging into two species.

One atom-thick sheet of silica glass was created by mistake, while working on graphene.

It appears the hobbits (Homo floresiensis) were not modern human cretins after all.

A researcher who happened to be collecting whale poop during 9/11 discovered just how much chronic stress the whales are under because of all the underwater noise from distant ships.

Little boys with big chins have small index fingers.

Men think that the women in red are interested in sex.

And finally, The Ponytail Equation was created, as part of the general theory on the distribution of human hair in a bundle.

Current Mood: geeky
Sunday, May 6th, 2012
5:44 pm
Science in January 2012: from shrooms to worm-eating plants
Wow, I'm still so much behind... Can't wait to post about the physics of spilling coffee, but it was in May.. so, back to January:

The effects of psychedelic mushrooms on humans were studied with fMRI: they actually shut down parts of the brain, not increase brain activity as many people imagined. Those parts just happen to regulate the flow of information through the brain.

The online game FoldIt, a crowdsourced biochemistry experiment which already solved a few real folding problems, now gave us a first win in the area of novel protein design.

The only known non-artificial example of a quasicrystal (crystal with the "impossible" 5-fold symmetry, awarded 2011 Nobel Prize), was found, and it was extraterrestrial.

Tranquillityite, the last of the moon minerals that has been missing on Earth, was finally found, in small amounts in Australia.

Russian probe sent to return soil samples from Phobos failed to leave Earth's orbit and crashed in the Pacific.

In math news, there are no 16-clue Sudoku puzzles

The human pupils contract not just when we are looking at a bright object, but also when we think we are looking at a bright object, meaning this is not your textbook reflex.

The individual words a person hears can be reconstructed directly from brain activity.

IBM demonstrated that data storage is possible using antiferromagnetism

In ever-graphic biology, boa constrictors stop squeezing their victims when they feel their heart stop

The little dance performed by dung beetles on top of their balls of poop is really to correct navigational errors.

New world's smallest vertebrate is a 7.7 mm frog from New Guinea, beating the former record-holding 7.9 mm fish from Indonesia.

A predatory plant was found that grows sticky underground leaves that trap and digest worms.

Fat tissue stem cells were successfully used to restore cut-up and scarred rat penises

There is a fungus that eats lead.

Planarians (and possibly other flatworms) have no centrosomes, fundamental parts of all (other) animal cells.

The ever-ridiculous AIDS-denialists managed to get a paper published, same one that was withdrawn three years earlier, causing two editors to resign.

Current Mood: geeky
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
12:57 am
There's no seltzer in Michigan
Something we learned during last weekend spent in a Detroit suburb, at Furry Connection North: the word "seltzer" is completely unknown in that state. The one waitress who knew it said "you must be from New York".

Also, waze has replaced google maps as my main navigational app.
Thursday, March 29th, 2012
11:08 pm
December 2011 in science: from buttercups lighting up your chin to emu bits
I know I'm slow, new job and all, but still, let's see what kind of news marked the end of 2011

Hummingbirds generate lift on upstroke (not just downstroke), as suggested back in 1939 but never proven until december.

We *just* discovered that elephants have six toes. The sixth toe was dismissed 300 years ago as weird cartilage, but it is real, supports weight, has joints, and is built the same way as the panda's thumb.

The 2009 paper linking the XRMV virus to cronic fatigue syndrome was fully retracted.

In a rare math article in Science, new correlation analysis was developed, which is awesome at finding bizarre but true trivia that applies to a hundred cases out of ten million.

The old Voyager spacecrafts are still discovering new stuff, or, in this case, experimentally proving an old hypothesis about star-forming regions.

There's a dense gas cloud three times the mass of the Earth that's rapidly moving straight into the otherwise quiet Saggitarus A* supermassive black hole, it's expected to hit it in 2013

Also in astronomy, have you heard about the bar at the center of our galaxy?

In other news, The U.S. Presidents don't age faster than other humans.

Rats free each other from cages.

Pigeons can count as well as primates.

And something I never knew about, buttercups light up human chins and there's some interesting physics behind that effect.

Also, the long-standing question of how do ostriches achieve erection was finally solved: it's a lymphatic burst, like in ducks, and nothing like the reptilian and mammalian blood-based setup. If you want pics, Nature News has a close-up.

Current Mood: geeky
Saturday, March 24th, 2012
3:51 pm
mini-update
I changed jobs a month ago. After many years of resistance, I was finally sucked into Manhattan. I'm enjoying the flurry of activity quite a bit, but it's leaving me with even less free time.

I did carve out a few days for the road trip to Atlanta for FWA 2012 last weekend, that was actually pretty good. I always thought it was a full thousand miles from my house, turns out it was only 942.

East Midtown is really nice to walk around at lunch time, and it's only 10 minutes by subway to Times Square (unfortunately, both Toys'R'Us and Dave'n'Busters DDRs are in not-so-good shape)

and now, back to replacing more drywall in the house...

Current Mood: busy
Monday, January 30th, 2012
10:39 pm
November 2011 in science: from metallic hydrogen to jump rope
falling behind falling behind falling behind!

Metallic lattice was created with density less than air, able to spring back after 50% compression.

Metallic hydrogen, predicted long ago, was finally created in a lab. On a diamond anvil.

Also in material science, MoS2 became the second single-layer material after graphene stabilized by 3D ripples.

In physics, the faster-than-light neutrinos from September, widely doubted in October, were re-measured, taking into account some criticisms, and reproduced. I'm not looking ahead at what happened to this since november, don't give me spoilers.

Wavefunctions, the ubiquitous mathematical functions that describe quantum systems, might themselves be real, physical objects.

More in quantum physics, the 1988 conjecture "a-theorem" not only withstood the test of time, but, it appears, was quietly proved this year.

Astronomers found some pristine gas only containing the products of Big Bang.

Foam with perfectly optimal packing of bubbles (Weaire-Phelan foam), calculated in 1994, was shown to exist in real life.

In addition, new detailed studies of the physics and math of turning pigeons, swirling wine, flowing ink, jumping frogs, and the aerodynamics of jumping rope were all published last November.

Organic chemistry turns to trial and error serendipity for cool new reactions.

Powered flight does not evolve from gliding, at least not in bats.

Humans become unemotional after sleeping.

Also, modern humans have trouble with their teeth because the switch to farming changed the shape of the jaw.

Cows do not line themselves up along Earth's magnetic field, despite previous reports.

The legendary Sunstone of the Vikings, the device that locates the Sun on an overcast day, may have been discovered and shown to work.

Current Mood: bouncy
Friday, December 16th, 2011
2:29 pm
October 2011 in science: from Nobels to hacked laws of physics
just two months behind! So what happened in October? The 7 billionth human and the Nobel Prize announcements, of course!




But besides that..

For the first time, skin cells were taken from a person with a genetic disease (of the liver), converted to stem cells, the genetic defect was corrected, and healthy liver-like cells were produced (getting an exact lookalike of any cell type from an iPS is the last bit that hasn't been done yet).

Speaking of medical sci-fi turning real a medical implant power source was made that can run on both blood glucose and mechanical motion.

First evidence found for seasonal migrations among non-avian dinosaurs -- I guess they were migratory before they were birds?

More details on what exactly is the job of adult-generated neurons (I hope you all know by now that brain cells regenerate)

The way to turn off the annoying side-effect of morphine, itchiness, was discovered (did you know it had that side-effect?)

The secret of how the giant pandas are able to digest and sustain themselves on bamboo (their digestive system is carnivorous!), was identified. They still digest less of it than a human would.

Hydrogen isotope ratio of water in Kuiper belt comets suggests that they may have been the source of water on Earth.

The "probiotic" yoghurts loaded with live bacteria have no noticable effect on gut bacteria in twin studies and only a subtle effect in force-fed mice.

Also in debunking news, the independent climate research, curated, monitored, and endorsed by some global warming denialists, turned up identical to the previous analyses, upsetting the deniers.

Commercial quantum cryprography systems, considered to be impossible to break due to laws of physics, were successfully broken using fake quantum entanglement. Can we say laws of physics, hacked? (also, I love the "Plug-and-play Eve" from that article)

Current Mood: geeky
Friday, December 9th, 2011
1:47 pm
September 2011 in science: from bottle-loving beetles to social network for your gut
Will I ever be up to date again on these reviews? Time will tell. For now, here's what caught my eye in september

The 2011 Ig Nobel awards were announced, honoring the ground-breaking discoveries:


The biggest news story of September was of course the seemingly superluminal neutrinos, but besides that:


Dinosaur feathers were found preserved in amber, so now we know exactly what they looked like.

Speeaking of fossils, something octaradial from 580 Mya is shaking up the ancient metazoan philogeny.

Also, a prehistoric preschool finger painting classroom was apparently discovered, from 13k years ago.

Now that there is a spacecraft orbiting Mercury, turns out it's pretty interesting. Too bad NASA hates Venus.

While on astronomy, gravitational redshifting (another GR prediction) was tested on 8000 galaxies. It works.

Part of yeast genome was artificially re-engineered to include a "scrambling system", which lets us delete and rearrange genes on the fly.

The Nile crocodile is actually two unrelated species -- and the researchers who found that out got to do DNA sequencing of crocodile mummies.

The stomach ulcer bacterium H.pylori purposefully destroys the DNA of host cells it contacts, which is one reason why it is a cancer risk.

Speaking of DNA, it's actually as elastic as Nylon.

The bacteria that feeds on uranium in contaminated groundwater, is able to reduce it without coming in direct contact and poisoning itself, using special pili.

The blind cavefish P.andruzzii, which lives in total darkness, has a circadian clock, but it's 47 hours rather than 24.

For the first time, a viral gene was identified that manipulates host behavior, in the mind-altering virus that convinces the infected foliage-eating caterpillar to crawl up on a tree branch. (once there, it melts its body so it drips the virus on the foliage)

A microscope was developed so small that it can be implanted in mouse brains to study them during natural activity.

Speaking of brains, four basic tastes: bitter, salty, sweet, and umami, are each processed by a different part of the brain. Sour couldn't be found.

When teleported (or when stepping into the wrong floor out of an elevator), it takes at least 125 ms for the brain to sort out the confusion because of how place memories work.

Like in other species, human males who spend time with their kids, lose testosterone.

There is now a social network website for people who want their gut bacteria sequenced. You can find friends with similar microbes and "directly share experiences".

If you got this far, here's a glowing kitten for you! (from this research)

Current Mood: geeky
Friday, November 4th, 2011
4:17 pm
August 2011 in science: from antimatter around us to kamikaze E.coli
I know it's already november, but I will catch up!


There was some cool stuff in astronomy, but first, in chemistry news, Molecular orbitals are now visible with a microscope, the same CO-functionalized STM which showed us individual bonds in pentacene and inspired me to start reading (and sharing) science news.

Also, ever-bizarre graphene generates electricity when acidic water flows on top of it.

In biggest astronomy news, samples of the first extraterrestrial body since the Moon arrived to Earth from asteroid 25143 Itokawa. They look like chondrite meteorites, except for anomalous space weathering speed, anomalous heat in the past, and other odd features.

Speaking of the Moon, early Earth may have had two, which merged to give the deeply asymmetric (did you know?) moon we have now.

A belt of antiprotons was discovered around Earth, the most abundant source of antimatter anywhere, so far.

Also, two ultracool brown dwarfs were found only five parsecs away. And yes, "ultracool" is an astronomical term.

Speaking of ultracool, there is a planet made of diamond orbiting some pulsar at a very close orbit.

To fuel the nightmares of general population, killer exploding E.coli was bioengineered: once it senses that the dangerous human pathogen P. aeruginosa is nearby, it fills its own body with a toxin, and bursts, killing 99% of the enemy.

Speaking of pathogens, Salmonella was found to use an unnatural aminoacid, (R)-β-lysine, in one of its vital proteins.

Speaking of unnatural aminoacids, the first mulricellular organism, much abused worm C.elegans, was genetically modified to produce them - the guys who made it just *had* to give their worms evil "cherry red" glow.

Oldest fossil ever discovered, 3.4 billion year old remains of sulfur-powered bacteria, looks way more plausible than the older Apex Chert formations, held as the oldest fossil since the 1980s, which were only shown to be inorganic earlier this year.

African crested rat gnaws on a poisonous tree and drenches highly-specialized porous hairs on its flanks with the spit. Anyone who wants to mouth the rat finds those flanks offered, unprotected. It's the first placental mammal ever found to use acquired toxicity (besides humans, african hunters put the same tree sap on arrowheads to kill elephants)

Mealybugs have gut bacteria that have even smaller bacteria inside them, and can only survive together. Both bacteria lost so much of their genome, the innermost one is almost an organelle.

When a pregnant mouse is starving, the placenta digests its own tissues and recycles the raw materials to feed the fetus during critical stages of brain development.

Hyenas can count, just like primates and lions. Complex social life makes anyone good at math, right?

The gene was identified that is responsible for people without fingerprints -- there are only four families known on Earth where this mutation is present. And yes, once in a while they try to visit the USA.

Current Mood: geeky
Friday, October 21st, 2011
4:47 pm
July 2011 in science: disappearing diamonds and soda can acoustics
I've been spending too much time with C++ on and off work, gotta remember my roots. Let's see if I can catch up on the past few months of random bits of science news that I thought were interesting! Here's what I was supposed to post about on august 1st:

Venerable Archaeopteryx is no longer the first bird, its feathers and other superficially avialan features evolved a bit earlier than what is now considered the first birds.

No less venerable turtles, long thought to be older than diapsids (snakes/lizards/birds), were shown to have actually been diapsids all along: they simply lost the characteristic skull holes at one point.

For 150 years botanists thought leaf initiation is autonomous. Turns out they were wrong, it is actually light-initiated.

Good old carbon can still pack a surprise without being shaped into a fullerene, nanotube, or graphene. Turns out that diamonds quietly evaporate in UV light, mechanism unknown.

Lucky Stanford biologist Kobilka (or, technically, his postdoc) got an X-ray structure of an activated GPCR protein (specifically, β2AR)

A genetics lab in Boston did something cool: they removed every single TAG codon from E.coli DNA, replacing it with functionally identical TAA, so that in their new E.coli strain,, TAG can code for an artificial amino acid

In astronomy, Earth's first Trojan asteroid was discovered, just like the ones orbiting the Sun behind and ahead of Jupiter, Neptune, and Mars. It has a pretty funky orbit.

It seems possible that Milky Way's central supermassive black hole consumed a small satellite galaxy, with its own central black hole, just 10 million years ago, this would explain a few unusual features of our galaxy.

In physics, turns out a 7 by 7 array of Coca Cola cans makes an awesome acoustic lens.

A flexible, transparent Li-ion battery was created, we might have completely see-through electronics one day.

Electroception, a common sense among fish, was discovered in a mammal for the first time, the guiana dolphin. Their electrosensing organs are vibrissal crypts - spots on the beak where their ancestors had whiskers.

Speaking of dolphins, Shark Bay dolphins in Australia wear sponges on their beaks and teach the young how to do it.

The people who live in the north have bigger heads.

When playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, humans tie more often than chance if they can see each other, despite trying to win, suggesting that their automatic imitation effect is not voluntary.

Current Mood: geeky
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