May 31, 2013

Ambitious Cloning Projects

A Siberian expedition found a well-preserved woolly mammoth. When scientists investigated, blood came running out.
 The mammoth-rebuilding project is
improved by a recent discovery of the Russian scientists, who uncovered a fairly fresh new mammoth.
A paleontological expedition team from the Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North, North-Eastern Federal University, and the Russian Geographical Society went  to the  Novosibirsk archipelago in Siberia. There, the researchers discovered a female mammoth in a remarkable  state of preservation.
"The fragments of muscle tissues, which we've found out of the body, have a natural red color of fresh meat," declared the expedition leader Semyon Grigoriev. "The reason for such preservation is that the lower part of the body was underlying in pure ice, and the upper part was found in the middle of tundra", he added.

The scientists gathered blood samples to get the first tests.  "The blood is very dark, it was found in ice cavities bellow the belly and when we broke these cavities with a poll pick, the blood came running out," Grigoriev declared.

Australian scientists broke new ground in embryonic cloning by reviving a dead frog species. They used eggs from a distant cousin.
The Rheobatrachus silus frogs have been extinct since 1983. This  Australian kind of creatures used to swallow  the own eggs and then to release the young from the mouth.
During five years , the Australian researchers have  conducted their experiments using somatic-cell nuclear transfer, a technique for creating a cloned embryo called the Lazarus Project. They took donor eggs from a related frog to replace those nuclei with dead nuclei from the extinct frog. Some of the eggs then started to grow.
. The embryos didn't make it past a few days, but they  gave the scientists a fresh cache of living cells for future cloning experiments.
"We are watching Lazarus arise from the dead, step by exciting step," declared the leader of the Lazarus Project team, Professor Mike Archer of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. The scientists from the University of Newcastle are  participating in this project, too.
The extinct frog's cell nuclei being gathered from tissues collected in the 1970s have been kept in a deep freeze until now.
 "We're increasingly confident that the hurdles ahead are technological and not biological and that we will succeed. Importantly, we've demonstrated already the great promise this technology has as a conservation tool when hundreds of the world's amphibian species are in catastrophic decline," Archer declared.

The scientists in New Zealand found that DNA decays far quicker than previously considered, making be impossible to salvage the usable genetic material belonging to the dead dinosaurs.

The DNA fact-finding project involved a team of palaeogeneticists. They tested 158 leg bones belonging to three species of the extinct giant moa birds ranging from 600 to 8,000 years old.
After running many comparisons between the age of the various bones and DNA degradation within each specimen, the scientists estimated that DNA's half-life works out to about 521 years after being kept in a swamp with an average temperature of 13.1 Celsius (55 Fahrenheit). Even a more ideal preservation temperature of minus 5 Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) would only result in readable DNA from specimens up to 1.5 million years old, meaning there is no possible way we can see a 65-million-year-old T-Rex waving its tiny arms about in this time frame.

DNA breaks down for a variety of reasons, including degradation from external influences such as temperature, water, soil chemistry, and so on. After half a millennium, the researchers assume that DNA continues to degrade as the nucleotide bonds within break in half. Each 521-year segment serves as another chapter of nucleotide structure breakdown and carries on until the bonds no longer exist. However, science has yet to determine the breakdown speed of DNA in environments that are more supportive of preservation, such as permafrost.
Morten Allentoft at the University of Copenhagen and Michael Bunce at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, worked with a large team on the findings, which were published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B science journal.

The Big Asteroid That is Zipping by Earth This Week is not Alone ,Because It Has a Traveling Companion

The big asteroid -- 1.7 miles long -- that is zipping by Earth this week is not alone , because it has a traveling companion. NASA radar images  , which are just released, show the asteroid  called  "QE2 '' and its previously undiscovered moon orbiting it. They technically make a binary asteroid system. The small asteroid circling the big one is estimated to be about 2,000 feet wide.
NASA declared that about 16 percent of larger (over 655 feet) near-Earth asteroids are binary or triple systems.
The closest approach of the space rockin' duo will take place on Friday, May 31 at 1:59 p.m. PT, when the system will get  close to us almost 3.6 million miles  ( 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon). The end of May passing of 1998 QE2 will be its closest visit for the next 200 years.
"Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features," declared radar astronomer Lance Benner from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.
Despite flying by nearly 4 million miles away, the  230-foot wide antenna (telescope), belonging to Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California's Mojave Desert, can zoom in very closely to 1998 QE2 in order to detect details 12 feet across.
 "We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid's distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise", declared Benner.
  The Carlo Zapponi's visual graph is called Bolides , and it puts the meteor strikes in a chronological view to get a historical perspective on the number of dazzling space rocks having fallen through our skies in recent times.
Inspired by the Greek word bolis (missile), Bolides features data from a range of historical meteor records, ranging from MetBase to London's Natural History Museum catalog of meteorites, and displays the data in a special way to explore them.
 There are more than 34,842 recordings of meteorites from the year 861. Zapponi graph only shows the 1,045 meteorites that couldn't be discredited or doubted.
 1933 was the year of 16 confirmed meteor strikes on Earth, and 1947 was the year , when the mega Sikhote-Alin meteor struck Russia.
Immediately after a large meteor hit Russia on February, and injured about 1,000 people, President Obama's administration announced that the U.S. would work on the asteroid tracking technology to avoid other severe Earth collisions.
Charles  Bolden spoke at the Human to Mars Summit in Washington, D.C. on Monday, and declared that a robotic spacecraft mission currently being planned will "prepare efforts to prevent an asteroid from colliding with devastating force into our planet."( U.S. News & World Report).
 The U.S. space agency wants to lasso a small asteroid and to tow it close  to our planet to be visited by the astronauts. They  will be able to collect samples and to conduct research that could one day assist in a mission to Mars or save Earth from a catastrophic collision.

The Obama administration intends to put the U.S. Astronauts on a near-Earth asteroid by 2025, and perhaps, to follow up such missions with manned Mars flights in the following decade. Seventy-eight million dollars have officially been set aside in the next fiscal year budget for NASA to start the development of the asteroid capture plan.

 NASA's science mission directorate associate administrator John Grunsfeld  talked about the importance of the lasso mission of the Human to Mars Summit on Monday, as U.S. News & World Report declared.
Grunsfeld also said  that NASA has '' a pretty good theory that single-planet species don't survive ". "We don't want to test it, but we have some evidence of that happening 65 million years ago [when an asteroid killed much of Earth's life]. That will happen again someday ... we want to have the capability [to leave the planet] in case of the threat of large scale destruction on Earth",he added.

On Wednesday, the Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (Osiris-Rex) passed a key confirmation review , approving the development phase of the spacecraft , according to NASA.

 NASA also has chosen and named the first asteroid it will visit and sample. The asteroid  known as Bennu was previously called 1999 RQ36, but it was renamed as part of a contest involving suggestions from thousands of school children.
NASA declared that Bennu could hold clues to the origin of the solar system. NASA hopes that the new spacecraft can rendezvous with Bennu at 2018 . Osiris Rex wants to collect a minimum of 2 ounces (60 grams) of surface material to be returned to Earth by 2023.
The space agency said the mission to Bennu can be a key part of a larger mission of capturing and relocating an entire asteroid for some further studies.

May 29, 2013

Judges Had Crowned Ontario's Denise Garrido, 26, the New Miss Universe Canada, but They Had Made a Mistake in Tabulating the Scores ....

 On Saturday night, the judges had crowned Ontario's Denise Garrido, 26, the new Miss Universe Canada out of 57 contestants, but on Sunday morning, they admitted that they had made a mistake in tabulating the scores . The new crowned beauty was Riza Santos, 26, of Calgary.

 The 2013 pageant was held at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto.

 A follow-up post corrected the mistake, making a new list of the "final results" , and Riza became the queen.

Just 24 hours after being a winner, Garrido met Sunday with the pageant director Denis Davila, who stripped her of her sash, crown, trophy and the chance to represent the country at Miss Universe in the United States ,on December,this year.

Garrido said , “My heart sank,” declared the Star.

Davila told her that a “typo” occurred when transferring the judges’ handwritten scores into a computer program that helps to decide the winner.
 "During the validation of the computerized scoring results (which occurs the following day), a typo was discovered in the top 5 entries, which significantly impacted the final results of the competition. This is the first instance of this type of error in the 11 years that Beauties of Canada (BOC) have produced the Miss Universe Canada pageant."

After the validation of the computerized scoring results, Garrido heard that she had not finished the first but the fourth, being the third runner-up to  Santos, 26, of Calgary, Riza has to collect her crown in Toronto.

Organizers said that a typo had led to the wrong contestant being named the winner of the Miss Universe Canada pageant.

Usually, after judges score the contestants, someone inputs the results into a computer. Andrew Lopez, a spokesman for Miss Universe Canada, said that since 10 years, the lawyer Nick Macos of Black Sutherland LLP had been inputting the results, but he was not available this year. Thus, it was  left to an inexperienced pageant employee to transfer the scores; it was he who made the error.

“Every single person who does the calculation needs to be third party,” said Loza-Alvarado, a former production director and producer. “If not, it puts you in a very compromising situation.”

Davila,  the pageant director , could not be reached to explain  why another person not connected to Miss Universe Canada could not  calculate the scores.

A third-party audit demanded the list of the handwritten scores wanting to to compare it with the computer results. Lopez could not confirm who carried out the audit, but declared that the person inputting the scores the night of the pageant is not required to be independent. He also declined to comment on Loza-Alvarado’s dismissal.

Marwa Ishow, a contestant in the 2013 pageant, declared that Garrido deserved to win and the “typo” fiasco has left her and other competitors uneasy.

“How we do we know that everything else wasn’t wrong?” said Ishow, 22. “The whole pageant seems like it was staged.”

 "I've grown a lot from this experience," Garrido  told Yahoo! Shine in a phone interview. "It was a challenge at the time and was shocking to me...but it could be a great story for women everywhere.''

Last year's Miss Universe Canada pageant was also the center of controversy when transgendered contestant Jenna Talackova was barred from entering the final event. The reason was that she wasn't "born a woman." The decision was reversed some days later after public outcry.

This year, some fans, especially those from Garrido's hometown of Bradford, Ontario, couldn't accept the turnaround.

“I will always have the memory of being the 24-hour queen,” declared Garrido,. She is now too old to compete in this kind of competitions any longer.

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