Of Molecules and Men

first_img(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Atoms and molecules are tiny but can have a big influence on the habitability of planets and astrobiologists’ theories about them.Hydroxyl ions (one oxygen and one hydrogen) are highly reactive ions formed by the breakdown of ozone by the sun.  Science Daily reported that others are formed at night by a different process.  This process was not observed till scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found a short-lived intermediate.  Hydroxyl ions act as the “atmosphere’s detergent,” the article says, taking the initial steps in the breakdown of hydrocarbons and other pollutants.Water is, of course, the ultimate prerequisite for life in the minds of most astrobiologists – so much so, that they think “life” whenever they find ice (see hydrobioscopy).  The latest story being told about stars and our early solar system is that water is older than the sun.  Scientists at the Carnegie Institute of Washington, reported Live Science, did not actually observe water before the sun.  They just figured with their models that it had to be, or else the ratios of heavy water (containing deuterium instead of hydrogen) wouldn’t work.“The implications of our study are that interstellar water-ice remarkably survived the incredibly violent process of stellar birth to then be incorporated into planetary bodies“study lead author Ilse Cleeves, an astronomy Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, told Space.com….“A significant fraction of Earth’s water is likely incredibly old, so old that it predates the Earth itself,” Cleeves said. “For me, uncovering these kinds of direct links between our daily experience and the galaxy at large is fascinating and puts a wonderful perspective on our place in the universe.“Polonium-209 is an atomic isotope, not a molecule.  It made news recently by getting a new age.  The old half-life was 102 years.  That has been increased by 25%, PhysOrg says, to 125.6 years.  “The difficulty in measuring the particular Po-209 half-life arises from its scarcity in pure form, the long length of its half-life, and the specific types of radiation involved in its decay.”  Po-209 has long been used as a tracer for geophysical processes.  What effect might this change have?  “Because sediment cores are used for determining human impact on the environment over the past century, the new measurement could impact these studies as well as other environmental measurements and biological assays.”  The article did not discuss whether this revision would impact half-life measurements of longer-lived isotopes used in radiometric dating.Cellulose is a molecule that is stronger, ounce-for-ounce, than steel, Science Daily says.  It is also the most abundant organic compound on earth—a primary component of wood and plant stems that keeps plants upright.  It is also indigestible except by bacteria.  Purdue University scientists recently determined the structure of the enzyme, cellulose synthase, that makes cellulose.  This knowledge might help bioengineers “make new kinds of natural products to replace those we now make from oil.”Isopropyl cyanide has been found in space, Cornell University announced.  What does that imply?  It’s big news for astrobiologists, who feel that it shows that branched molecules can form naturally.  Many amino acids have branching parts.  “The branched carbon structure of isopropyl cyanide is a common feature in molecules that are needed for life — such as amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins,” the press release says.  “This new discovery lends weight to the idea that biologically crucial molecules, like amino acids that are commonly found in meteorites, are produced early in the process of star formation — even before planets such as Earth are formed.”  The BBC News really pushed the life angle in its coverage.Elementary, my star flotsam:  How do stars make the elements?  Arizona State wants to know.  It has its own version of Genesis:In the beginning, all was hydrogen – and helium, plus a bit of lithium. Three elements in all. Today’s universe, however, has nearly a hundred naturally occurring elements, with thousands of variants (isotopes), and more likely to come.ASU will be joining with other universities to figure out how elements are made by supernovae and “chemical evolution” after the big bang (for problems with getting lithium from the big bang, see the 9/15/14 entry) .  According to current theories of nucleosynthesis, stars “crank out carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all those good things that make you and me.”  This has been common thought for decades.  “While the broad outline is clear, details are a lot murkier,” ASU astrophysicist Frank Timmes admits.  We also don’t know how the first stars made of hydrogen and helium did it, because “all those stars are gone”.  Our sun is made of elements that didn’t exist in the big bang, he explains, so our sun must be the end product of “many, many previous generations of stars”.  How many?Timmes explains, “A typical massive star, in round numbers, lives about a million years. The Big Bang occurred about 7 billion years before the sun formed. I need a thousand generations of massive stars to get us to a billion years, so I need on the order of 10,000 generations of massive stars to get one with the sun’s composition.”The whole theory relies on models of supernovas.  Those are observable, but the underlying mechanisms and the processes of nucleosynthesis are not.  “In a loose, hand-waving sense, we know that stars explode, of course, but exactly how it happens isn’t well-known or understood.”If you can keep your head with observable science when all the experts about you run are losing theirs with hand-waving models based on evolutionary assumptions leading to just-so stories, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!last_img read more

Governor’s rule evokes mixed feelings in Kashmir Valley

first_imgThis is the eighth time since 1977 that Jammu and Kashmir is coming under Governor’s rule. The palpable unease on the Valley’s streets is turning into ominous silence, as people fear a surge in violence. There are some, however, who celebrate the demise of the 40-month long “unholy” alliance between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP.There was thin pedestrian movement in the tourist hotspot Boulevard in Srinagar that saw a separatists-backed shutdown on Thursday, the first since Governor N.N. Vohra took over the reins 24 hours ago.‘Bad omen for tourism’A shikara [small boat] owner, Siraj-ud-Din Malla, at Ghat No. 9, terms the sudden end to the PDP-BJP rule a “bad omen” for the tourism sector. “This development has already scared away tourists. There was no apparent reason for the BJP to pull out. The political instability is bound to add fuel to the fire in a situation like ours,” he said.Muhammad Yaqoob, a retired government school headmaster, sees the present Governor’s rule different from those in the last two decades, especially between 2002 and 2016. “The four Governor’s rule J&K saw in the past two decades was an outcome of political exigency and not security failure. This time, however, it is an admission that the PDP-BJP rule has failed to contain the situation in Kashmir. Growing protests and increasing local militant activity have left Delhi with few options. It seems violence is bound to surge,” said Mr. Yaqoob.He likened the present Governor’s rule to the one in 1990. An out-of-control situation triggered by the resignation of National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah as Chief Minister that year saw longest ever Governor’s rule in the State. It lasted six years and 264 days.“I wonder if any election, to Parliament or Assembly, will be possible this year. The people are agitated and militants are holed up in the upper reaches. If violence surges, development and education will take a hit,” fears Mr.Yaqoob.‘It’s people’s victory’But on the other side, there are many like Javeed Ahmad, a downtown shopkeeper, who sees the end to the PDP-BJP rule as a victory of the people. “The PDP-BJP regime had been unacceptable here from day one. It’s fall was hastened the people’s resistance to their agenda and designs,” he said.Meanwhile, police officials believe the fall of the government will defuse the anger to a large extent in the Valley, especially in south Kashmir.last_img read more

Olympic runner Caster Semenya loses fight over testosterone rules

first_imgThe IAAF argued that high, naturally occurring levels of testosterone in athletes like Semenya with “intersex” characteristics that don’t conform to standard definitions of male and female give them an unfair competitive advantage, and it decreed a maximum level for females.The court decision could open the way for similar rules in other women’s sports where size, speed and power make a difference, such as weightlifting, boxing, swimming, rugby, field hockey and soccer.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsSemenya — a 28-year-old South African whose sculpted biceps and super-fast, blow-away-the-competition times have led others to question her accomplishments — declared she will not be deterred.“I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically,” Semenya said in a statement. “For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.” MOST READ The two-time Olympic champion in the 800 meters will have to lower her testosterone levels by such means as birth control pills or prostate cancer drugs if she wants to defend her world title in September in Doha, Qatar. Semenya is expected to race in the 800 on Friday at a track meet in Doha in what will be the last world-class event before the new rules apply.Testosterone strengthens muscle tone and bone mass. Because of that, it is against the rules for athletes to use testosterone supplements. Some women have what is known as hyperandrogenism, meaning they have natural levels that are unusually high.The IAAF rules require women to reduce their levels below 5 nanomoles per liter of blood. According to the IAAF, most females, including elite athletes, have levels of testosterone circulating naturally in their bodies of 0.12 to 1.79 nanomoles per liter, while men have levels that can be dozens or even hundreds of times higher — typically 7.7 to 29.4.Semenya’s level is considered private medical information and has not been disclosed.The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee decried the ruling, saying, “We maintain that the rules are ill-thought and will be a source of distress for the targeted female athletes.”ADVERTISEMENT Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games PLAY LIST 03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Hontiveros presses for security audit of national power grid DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew View comments LATEST STORIES Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue FILE – In this Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 file photo Britain’s Lynsey Sharp, United States’ Charlene Lipsey, South Africa’s Caster Semenya and Switzerland’s Selina Buechel race for the line in a Women’s 800m semifinal during the World Athletics Championships in London. Caster Semenya will find out Wednesday, May 1, 2019 if she has won her appeal against IAAF rules to curb female runners’ high natural levels of testosterone. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)GENEVA — The sports world’s highest court ruled Wednesday that Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya and other female runners like her with unusually high testosterone must take medication to reduce their levels of the male sex hormone if they want to compete in certain events — a landmark decision with far-reaching ramifications for other women’s sports.In a 2-1 ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld proposed rules issued by track’s governing body, the IAAF, saying that they are discriminatory but that “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means” of “preserving the integrity of female athletics.”ADVERTISEMENT Semenya was legally recognized at birth as female, but her speed and muscular body have led others to cast doubt on the integrity of her track achievements throughout her career. As a teenager in 2009, she won her first world title in Berlin. Hours before the race, the IAAF asked her to undergo a gender verification test.She is not the only female athlete with high natural levels of testosterone but has become an unwilling face of the issue. Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has been publicly identified as having high testosterone. Two weeks ago, Olympic silver medalist and Semenya rival Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi confirmed she has hyperandrogenism too.Referring to the rule, Niyonsaba said: “For me, it’s about discrimination. It doesn’t make sense. I didn’t choose to be born like this. What am I? I’m created by God.”At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Semenya and Chand competed, and other athletes implied that other runners, including medalists in the 800 meters, also had elevated levels.“I think that we need separate events for them and for us,” Nataliia Lupu of Ukraine said after running against Semenya. “You can see that it’s easy for them.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Panelo: Duterte ‘angry’ with SEA Games hosting hassles Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Philippine Arena Interchange inaugurated Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Maria Sharapova withdraws from Italian Open with lingering shoulder injury “This decision marks a massive turning point as it now redefines what a female athlete in particular is,” said Natalie du Toit, head of the organization’s athletes commission, adding: “Knowing Caster and the hard work she has put into her sport, we support all her endeavors, and we are all behind her.”The IAAF went into the case arguing that female runners with high testosterone have an unfair advantage in events from 400 meters to the mile. However, the court suggested that the IAAF apply the rules only up to the 800 because the evidence was not clear that women with hyperandrogenism have an edge in the 1,500 meters and above.Under the rule, female athletes whose medical profiles previously showed high testosterone will be subject to blood tests to prove they have complied.An appeal to Switzerland’s Supreme Court is possible. But judges rarely overturn decisions of the world sports court.Ross Tucker, a sports science consultant who testified on Semenya’s behalf and boasts of a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, said the scientific evidence is insufficient to justify the rules. He said that as a result of the court decision, other sports will essentially copy the IAAF’s regulations.“For them, every fear and concern they had that they will be in the spotlight for introducing similar rules will be gone,” he said. “Other sports will be super happy because the pressure’s off to develop their own regulations.”He said the ruling moves the world of sports closer to developing its own definition of gender, based on hormone levels.“‘Sporting sex’ has been introduced,” he said. “That is where the decision does have far-reaching effects.”John Brewer, a professor of applied sports science at the Buckinghamshire New University in Britain who supports the IAAF rule, said such regulations could end up being adopted not just by individual sports but by team sports such as rugby, soccer and field hockey.Hormone-blocking drugs can increase the risk of blood clots, thinning bones, fractures and heart problems.last_img read more

New Yorks Spitzer Wins Three ASME Awards

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO—New York magazine’s stunning visual takedown of disgraced governor Eliot Spitzer won three awards given by American Society of Magazine Editors and announced here Monday at the American Magazine Conference.The March 24 cover won cover of the year, best news cover and best coverline for its minimal, arrow-aided “Brain.” The regional also won an award for best leisure interest cover for its photo illustration of Barack Obama and John McCain sharing in a beach-side “fist-bump.”Texas Monthly also won two awards, capturing best celebrity cover and personal service cover for its June issue, “Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas.” New York’s fashion spin-off, Look, and Vanity Fair shared the award for best fashion cover.The New Yorker won the ASME award for best concept cover for its “Eustace Tillarobama” illustration.Click here to view ASME’s cover image gallery.last_img read more

Wilmington Public Schools Receives 750000 Grant To Improve The Health Of Its Students

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Public Schools recently received a substantial grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to expand its health services in an effort to improve student attendance and boost academic achievement.Wilmington was awarded a four-year Comprehensive School Health Services Grant at $75,000 annually. The grant comes with three, 2-year options to renew, meaning Wilmington excepts to receive $750,000 in funding.The grant process was competitive. Wilmington’s grant amount was based on student enrollment, community need, and the level of programming that schools committed to in their grant applications. Wilmington was one of 123 public school districts in the state to receive the grant.The grant writing committee recently appeared in front of the Wilmington School Committee to share the good news. The Committee consisted of Director of Nursing Services Doreen Crowe; Assistant Superintendent Brian Reagan; Coordinator of Behavioral Health & Social Emotional Support Christine Murray; Health & Physical Education Liaison Laura Stinson; Athletic Director Tim Alberts; ESL Director Susan MacDonald; and Middle School Nurse Janice Bacon.Crowe explained how the funding will positively impact health services to students in Wilmington.A part-time social worker (.4 FTE) will be hired at the high school to support its new Bridge Program, which assists students who have been absent from school for an extended period of time due to a health issue to successfully return to the classroom.A part-time care coordinator (.4 FTE) will be hired to help coordinating care to students with mental and physical health needs.In addition to program support and professional development, the district will use funds to improve and expand its health curriculum.As a result of the grant, Athletic Director Tim Alberts noted that health education will now be offered at the PreK and Kindergarten levels, and new nutrition education materials will be purchased at the elementary level.The district hopes these measures – and several others outlined – will help decrease chronic absenteeism and childhood obesity amongst its students, while increasing individualized health care plans and services to its students with mental and behavioral health conditions.“All the evidence points to the fact that children can’t learn if they are not healthy,” said Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders in a recent press release announcing the grant recipients. “This funding will support our efforts to keep students healthy, in school, and prepared to learn.”Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSCHOOL COMMITTEE To Discuss New School Year, New Administrators & New Goals At August 28 MeetingIn “Education”Wilmington Public Schools Receives $13,000 Grant To Combat Vaping At High School & Middle SchoolIn “Community”SCHOOL COMMITTEE NEWS: Homework, Bullying, Vaping, Grants, Gymnastics & More To Be Discussed At June 12 MeetingIn “Education”last_img read more