Rare Chinese Mountain Cat

Posted on September 30, 2007  Comments (7)

rare photo of Chinese mountain cat in the wild.jpg

Rare Chinese Cat Captured on Film

Triggered by body heat, a remote camera recently captured this image of the elusive Chinese mountain cat at about 12,300 feet (3,750 meters) on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in China’s Sichuan Province. A total of eight images of the feline represent the first time the mountain cat has been photographed in the wild, said Jim Sanderson, a cat specialist with the Wildlife Conservation Network who led the team that snapped the rare shots. A paper about the cat will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Science.

“There’s no interest in its conservation because it’s poorly known, but now perhaps this will change.”

I am biased by my love of cats but I hope this helps conservation efforts.

Related: Origins of the Domestic CatBornean Clouded LeopardFar Eastern Leopard, the Rarest Big CatMaking the Cat the PhotographerJaguars Back in the Southwest USAWild Tiger Survival at Risk

Finding Protease Inhibitors

Posted on September 28, 2007  Comments (2)

Can’t Cut This by Kathleen M. Wong, ScienceMatters@Berkeley:

When a malaria parasite lands in your blood, one of the first things it does is whip out its scissors. As fast as it can, this protozoan snips the hemoglobin in red blood cells to get the nutrients it needs to survive. Of course, the microbe behind this deadly disease doesn’t actually deploy stainless-steel blades. Instead, it uses an array of biochemical scissors known as proteases.

Proteases are enzymes that snip proteins. They recognize certain strings of amino acids on a substrate protein, bind to this area, then break a nearby chemical bond. Proteases can destroy proteins by snipping them in half, as in malaria. They can also activate proteins by lopping off atoms covering a reactive site.

This versatility has made proteases critical to all manner of organisms, from viruses to plants to humans. Over the past 10 years, protease inhibitor drugs have become indispensable in the fight against AIDS, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But finding protease inhibitors is no picnic. Humans manufacture tens of thousands of proteins; figuring out which of these a protease targets is extremely challenging and time consuming.

Instead of mixing liquid chemicals and painstakingly purifying them again at each step, he attaches his precursor molecules to polystyrene beads resembling sand grains.

Robotics Engineering Degree

Posted on September 26, 2007  Comments (1)

Robotics Engineering Degree at Worcester Polytechnic Institute:

WPI has established the nation’s first undergraduate Robotics Engineering degree program to teach people like you. This unique, innovative program was built from the ground-up with future Robotics professionals in mind. In this program, you’ll develop a proficiency for mechanical, electrical and computer engineering which will teach you to build the robot’s body. You’ll also become proficient in computer science, which will help you control the robot’s behavior.

In this program, you will be building robots during your first year of study. You will not find this hands-on approach to Robotics anywhere else but WPI.

Students graduating from the Robotics Engineering program will have many options for future employment across a wide range of industries including national defense and security, elder care, automation of household tasks, customized manufacturing, and interactive entertainment. New England is home to a strong and growing Robotics industry. Massachusetts alone boasts over 150 companies, institutions and research labs in the Robotics sector, employing more than 1,500 people.

Interesting. via: eContent. Related: Toyota RobotsTour the Carnegie Mellon Robotics LabApplied Engineering EducationBest Research University Rankings – 2007

Internships Pair Students with Executives

Posted on September 25, 2007  Comments (0)

photo of Zhen Xia Florence Hudson

Preparing to Lead: Internships pair students with executives

Mechanical and aerospace engineering major Zhen Xia is accustomed to solving problems that have cut-and-dried solutions, but an internship at IBM this past summer taught him how to approach problems that don’t have one right answer.

As part of a new internship program, Xia spent three months working with senior marketing executives at the IBM corporate offices in Somers, N.Y. From analyzing the brand’s image to establishing a business case for a new product launch, he found himself in the midst of the complicated intricacies of the business world.

“Unlike technical problem-solving where everything is black and white, problem-solving in business deals heavily with people and customers who have many different viewpoints,” Xia said. “In business, there are various shades of gray, which make things exciting and interesting.”

Related: science internshipsengineering internshipsGoogle Summer of Code 2007The Naval Research Enterprise Intern Program

$1 Million Grant for National Engineering Education Initiative

Posted on September 23, 2007  Comments (0)

Motorola Supports National Engineering Education Initiative with $1 Million Grant

The Motorola Foundation today announced $1 million in support of the National Academy Foundation’s (NAF) Academy of Engineering initiative, which will help create 110 academies in high schools across the country to inspire young people to study science and engineering. In collaboration with Project Lead the Way and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, NAF’s Academy of Engineering initiative will ultimately prepare students for careers in engineering to meet a growing market demand.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs requiring science, engineering, or technical training will increase 24 percent to 6.3 million between 2004 and 2014, creating greater demand for critical thinkers fluent in technology. Yet over the past decade, the NAF has seen declining enrollment and graduation rates in post-secondary engineering programs that can be largely attributed to fewer high school students showing an interest in engineering and technology.

Related: k-12 Engineering EducationMiddle School Engineers$40 Million for Engineering Education in BostonLead the Way in Clevelandposts on science and engineering primary education

Publishers Continue to Fight Open Access to Science

Posted on September 21, 2007  Comments (6)

Publishers prepare for war over open access

On one side are the advocates of open-access journals – publications that make academic papers freely available and recoup costs by charging authors to publish. The model seems increasingly successful. New open-access journals are springing up weekly and could gain support if the US acts on plans make all its publicly funded health research freely available via a government archive.

Lined up against them are the academic publishers. The idea of open-access journals is frightening for an industry whose profits are based on subscription charges.

Dezenhall’s strategy includes linking open access with government censorship and junk science – ideas that to me seem quite bizarre and misleading. Last month, however, the AAP launched a lobby group called the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine (PRISM), which uses many of the arguments that Dezenhall suggested.

It is sad to see journals that were founded to promote science so flawed in their thinking today. As I said last month in Science Journal Publishers Stay Stupid: “It is time for the scientific community to give up on these journals and start looking to move to work with new organizations that will encourage scientific communication and advancement (PLoSarXiv.orgOpen Access Engineering Journals) and leave those that seek to keep outdated practices to go out of business.” Organizations can’t ignore principles when choosing tactics. Tactics that might be ok in other situations, should not be acceptable to scientists publishing scientific information. When journals move to harm science to preserve their outdated business practices they deserve to lose the respect of scientists.

Related: Finding Open Scientific PapersOpen Access Journal WarsAnger at Anti-Open Access PROpen Access Article Advantage

Wired NextFest 2007 – Cool Webcasts

Posted on September 21, 2007  Comments (2)

Above: The humanoid robot REEM-A walk among people at Wired Nextfest 2007. Cool webcasts from Wired NextFest 2007 in Los Angeles:

Human-Carrying Walking Robot
Multi-Touch Collaboration Screen – There are two very wide (around 16 foot wide) LCD screen. You can drag and move object like the scene in the Minority Report.
Wired NextFest Highlights – Shot by Mark Hefflinger and edited by Graham Kolbeins for Digital Media Wire
Wired Nextfest Executive Director Discusses Tech Future
Hanson Robotics talks Zeno

Highlights of the 2006 Wired NextFest Expo in New York City

Related: Humanoid Robot (HRP-3 Promet Mk-II)Robo-SalamanderNorthwest FIRST Robotics Competition

How Does That Happen? Science Provides the Answer

Posted on September 20, 2007  Comments (2)

Frozen Images

In January I dropped some bricks into my pond, which is a metre deep. In March the pond froze over and an image of the bricks appeared like a hologram in the ice (see Photo – follow link above). What caused this?

The rough surface of the bricks, particularly around the edges and corners, provides nucleation sites for dissolved gases. Gas molecules collect preferentially around the edges of the bricks, eventually producing bubbles. As these reach a critical size they break away and float straight upwards in the still water. Because there is a layer of ice on the surface, the bubbles become trapped and frozen into it. As the ice layer thickens and bubbles continue to rise from the brick, the 3D shape develops. The rate of bubbling was probably very slow, as was the rate of freezing, so the very detailed effect was able to form.

Cool science answer. Related: Sarah, aged 3, Learns About Soap10 Science Facts You Should Know

CMU Professor Gives His Last Lesson on Life

Posted on September 20, 2007  Comments (5)

photo of Randy Pausch

CMU professor gives his last lesson on life by Mark Roth:

“If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you,” said Dr. Pausch, a 46-year-old computer science professor who has incurable pancreatic cancer. It’s not that he’s in denial about the fact that he only has months to live, he told the 400 listeners packed into McConomy Auditorium on the campus, and the hundreds more listening to a live Web cast.

In his 10 years at Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Pausch helped found the Entertainment Technology Center, which one video game executive yesterday called the premier institution in the world for training students in video game and other interactive technology. He also established an annual virtual reality contest that has become a campuswide sensation, and helped start the Alice program, an animation-based curriculum for teaching high school and college students how to have fun while learning computer programming.

It was the virtual reality work, in which participants wear a headset that puts them in an artificial digital environment, that earned him and his Carnegie Mellon students a chance to go on the U.S. Air Force plane known as the “vomit comet,” which creates moments of weightlessness, and which the students promised to model with VR technology.

“A recent CT scan showed that there are 10 tumors in my liver, and my spleen is also peppered with small tumors. The doctors say that it is one of the most aggressive recurrences they have ever seen.”

“I find that I am completely positive,” he wrote. “The only times I cry are when I think about the kids — and it’s not so much the ‘Gee, I’ll miss seeing their first bicycle ride’ type of stuff as it is a sense of unfulfilled duty — that I will not be there to help raise them, and that I have left a very heavy burden for my wife.”

An inspirational story. For me personally, it reminds me of my father: Bill Hunter who honestly believed, as he was stricken with cancer, he was luckier than most people that have ever lived. He was able to do many things that no-one, not even Kings, could have dreamed of even a hundred years before. I can’t manage such an outlook most of the time, but I do try and keep that spirit alive in me at times. William G. Hunter: An Innovator and Catalyst for Quality Improvement by George Box.

Related: Video of the lectureRandy PauschHelping people have better livesThe Importance of Management Improvement

Scores Ill in Peru after Meteor Strike

Posted on September 19, 2007  Comments (2)

Scores ill in Peru ‘meteor crash’

Some 600 people in Peru have required treatment after an object from space – said to be a meteorite – plummeted to Earth in a remote area, officials say. They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down over the weekend near the town of Carancas in the Andes.

People who have visited scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases. A team of scientists is on its way to the site to collect samples and verify whether it was indeed a meteorite.

The object then hit the ground, leaving a 30m (98ft) wide and 6m (20ft) deep crater. The crater spewed what officials described as fetid, noxious gases. The gases are believed to have affected the health of about 600 people who visited the site.

Related: Meteorite, Older than the Sun, Found in CanadaMeteorite Lands in New Jersey BathroomNASA Tests Robots at Meteor CraterDoubts About Meteorite-Induced SicknessMeteorite causes a stir in Peru

Blocking Bacteria From Passing Genes to Other Bacteria

Posted on September 18, 2007  Comments (1)

Scientists are working on many fronts to keep deadly bacteria in check

Bacteria that cause cholera and bubonic plague turn from harmless to deadly with the flip of a genetic switch. Jam the switch and you might prevent infection, said Vladimir Svetlov, a microbiology research associate at Ohio State University and one of a group of scientists who defined the structure of a protein that appears to be the key. The discovery is one of many this year to identify structures and chemicals crucial to disease. All of this work could lead to new medicines.

At the same time, germs we once fought off with antibiotics are fighting back, forcing governments and health organizations worldwide to spend billions of dollars to find new remedies.

Redinbo is part of a team that recently discovered that two osteoporosis drugs block a key site on E. coli bacteria, preventing it from passing antibiotic resistance genes to other E. coli.

By their nature, bacteria exchange pieces of their DNA with neighboring bacteria, leading to new forms that are virulent or resistant — or both. “This is not minor evolution,” said Irina Artsimovitch, associate professor of microbiology at Ohio State. “This is a huge genome exchange.”

Very cool stuff. Related: Antibiotic resistance: How do antibiotics kill bacteria?Disrupting the Replication of BacteriaAntibiotics Too Often Prescribed for Sinus WoesAttacking Bacterial Walls