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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Biological Computer: Stanford Researchers Discover Genetic Transistors That Turn Cells Into Computers

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 1, 2013

By Aaron Sankin

r-BIOLOGICAL-COMPUTERS-large570Researchers at Stanford University announced this week that they’ve created genetic receptors that can act as a sort of “biological computer,” potentially revolutionizing how diseases are treated.

In a paper published in the journal “Science” on Friday, the team described their system of genetic transistors, which can be inserted into living cells and turned on and off if certain conditions are met. The researchers hope these transistors could eventually be built into microscopic living computers. Said computers would be able to accomplish tasks like telling if a certain toxin is present inside a cell, seeing how many times a cancerous cell has divided or determining precisely how an administered drug interacts with each individual cell.

Once the transistor determines the conditions are met, it could then be used to make the cell, and many other cells around it, do a specific thing–like telling cancerous cells to destroy themselves.

“We’re going to be able to put computers into any living cell you want,” lead researcher at the Stanford School of Engineering Drew Endy explained to the San Jose Mercury News. “We’re not going to replace the silicon computers. We’re not going to replace your phone or your laptop. But we’re going to get computing working in places where silicon would never work.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Meteorite hits Russian Urals: Fireball explosion wreaks havoc, up to 1,200 injured (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 16, 2013

Friday’s meteorite which struck Chelyabinsk carried a mass of around 40 tonnes, possibly making it the largest recorded object to hit the Earth since Tunguska. It was around 15 meters across when it entered the atmosphere, according to one expert.

“It was a very, very, powerful event,” astronomer at the University of Ontario, Margaret Campbell-Brown, told Nature.com.

But despite its size, it wasn’t the meteorite’s landing that caused the damage.

“The sonic boom was just immense, and it was the boom that caused the destruction – not the actual landing of the meteorite. It was the amazing explosion in the atmosphere as it broke the sound barrier that caused the problem,”Professor of Planetary Science at The Open University, Monica Grady, told RT.

The meteorite – which left more than 1,200 people injured – was undetected until it hit the atmosphere.

“I’m not aware of anyone who saw this coming,” Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Operations Centre in Germany, said.

And the question of whether anyone has the ability to do so still remains unclear.  Read the rest of this entry »

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What Is Skepticism, Anyway?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 3, 2013

By Michael Shermer

As the publisher of Skeptic magazine I am often asked what I mean by skepticism, and if I’m skeptical of everything or if I actually believe anything. Skepticism is not a position that you stake out ahead of time and stick to no matter what.

Consider global warming: Are you a global warming skeptic? Or are you skeptical of the global warming skeptics? In this case, I used to be a global warming skeptic, but now I’m skeptical of the global warming skeptics, which makes me a global warming believer based on the facts as I understand them at the moment. The “at the moment” part is what makes conclusions in science and skepticism provisional.

Thus, science and skepticism are synonymous, and in both cases it’s okay to change your mind if the evidence changes. It all comes down to this question: What are the facts in support or against a particular claim?

There is also a popular notion that skeptics are closed-minded. Some even call us cynics. In principle, skeptics are neither closed-minded nor cynical. We are curious but cautious. Read the rest of this entry »

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Space alert: Hazardous asteroid nears Earth

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 10, 2013

alert-hazardous-nears-asteroid.nAll eyes are set at the skies as a big hazardous asteroid is nearing Earth. According to scientists there is an actual possibility that the 300-meter-wide Apophis will eventually strike our planet, but the catastrophe is not imminent.

On Wednesday the dangerous space traveler is passing Earth at 14 million km – the distance which raises no concerns. Apophis near approach, which may have been observed around 00:00 GMT, was traced by Slooh Space Camera.

The asteroid is planning a series of come backs of which the one in 2036 is said to be most threatening.

Named after the Ancient Egyptian evil demon, Apophis was discovered in 2004. The initial estimations indicated the probability that in 2029 the asteroid would strike Earth. However, additional calculations lessened this possibility and postponed it till 2036.

According to NASA scientists in 2029 Apophis may pass through a gravitational keyhole which would change his orbit causing imminent collision with Earth in 2036.

Russian scientists are planning to plant the asteroid with a radio beacon to trace its orbit and the risks Apophis pose to our planet. But the mission will only take place after 2020. Read the rest of this entry »

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Superhumans, supercities and supercomputers: US intelligence’s vision of 2030

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 13, 2012

2030Things are about to get a little weird. This according to the National Intelligence Council, at least, a US-based coalition of spy agencies that has just released its predictions for what’s in store for the Earth in 2030.

The NIC released on Monday “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,” an 140-page report that brings together the best brains within the intelligence sector to find out what we might expect a few decades down the road. Given the current rate of growth in technology and medicine, the marvels considered in the NIC report shouldn’t come as all too surprising. Only 18 years down the road, however, the ideas being pitched by the people behind the report might not be as much science fiction as soon-to-be-reality. It also might very well be predictive policy making.

“We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures,” Council Chairman Christopher Kojm writes in the report.

With the next few years ripe for experiment, the future is “malleable,” Kojm suggests, making no time like the present to start perfecting space-age advances once thought to be out of this world. On the contrary, though, the NIC seems to think cyborg civilians and instant super-cities are thing of the not-so-distant future.

“Our effort is to encourage decision-makers, whether in government or outside, to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding,” the Council writes. That influence might be a bit impressive for some, though, as it includes suggestions for the world of tomorrow that will be necessary to advance them human race in order to make use of dwindling resources as populations expand around the globe. Read the rest of this entry »

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WATCH: After Sex, She Eats His Face

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 24, 2012

By 

If you thought the sex scenes in the popular erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” were wild, you should have a look at praying mantises going at it. Sex for these little creatures is not only kinky, but also gruesome.

Believe it or not, sexual cannibalism (when one partner kills and eats the other during copulation) is common among spiders as well as mantises. Need to see it to believe it? Just check out the first episode of biologist Dr. Carin Bondar‘s new web series titled “Wild Sex.”

“We hit topics hard, and not just for the quirk factor, but because there is a lot of cool science behind so many strange mating rituals,” Bondar told Scientific Americanabout the new show. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Immortal’ Cells: Is It Biologically Possible For Humans To Live Forever? (VIDEO)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 20, 2012

By 

Given the chance, would you want to live forever? In the Epic of Gilgamesh, written over 4,000 years ago, a Sumerian king seeks eternal life. And 500 years ago, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon came to the Americas searching for the fountain of youth. Every generation, a new ploy for outsmarting the reaper emerges–always futile, always in vain. But is the key to immortality within reach? Some people think that technology will help us cure diseases, build new organs, and essentially reprogram our bodies’ faulty software. Futurist Ray Kurzweil calculates that 20 years is all it’ll take for this exponential boom in computing power to help us live forever. But other scientists are more skeptical. They say that to understand immortality, we must understand our own DNA.

Watch the video above and click the link below to learn more about our quest for immortality and how, in some ways, we have already achieved it. Sound off in the comments section below, and as always, talk nerdy to me!

Hi everyone. Cara Santa Maria here. Given the chance, would you want to live forever? In the Epic of Gilgamesh, written over 4,000 years ago, a Sumerian king seeks eternal life. And 500 years ago, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon came to the Americas searching for the fountain of youth. Every generation, a new ploy for outsmarting the reaper emerges–always futile, always in vain. But is the key to immortality within reach? Some people think that technology will help us cure diseases, build new organs, and essentially reprogram our bodies’ faulty software. Futurist Ray Kurzweil calculates that 20 years is all it’ll take for this exponential boom in computing power to help us live forever. But other scientists are more skeptical. They say that to understand immortality, we must understand our own DNA. Read the rest of this entry »

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Did Climate Change Kill the Mayans?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 10, 2012

By 

There are a lot of things that didn’t kill the Mayans: asteroid strikes, planet-wide quakes, global cataclysms prophesied by  shamans and etched into ancient calendars. What did wipe them out was likely something that is far less mystical, and indeed is entirely familiar to modern civilizations: climate change. If you want a look at what we could face in the decades and  centuries ahead, look at what one of the world’s greatest cultures suffered a millennium ago. That’s the conclusion of a  newly released study and what it lacks in Hollywood-friendly drama, it makes up in sound — and scary — science.

The arc of the Mayan rise and fall is well known: The civilization first took hold in 1,800 BC, in the Central American region that now includes and surrounds Guatemala. It grew slowly until about 250 A.D. At that point, a great expansion of the culture — known to archaeologists as the Classic Period —  began and continued to 900 A.D., yielding the architectural, political and textual artifacts that have so mesmerized scientists. But a decline began around 800 A.D. and led to a final collapse about 300 years later.

The Mayan arc was  hardly smooth and steady, and there were periods of turbulence and decline even during the golden era. The great settlement of El Mirador, which once might have been home to 100,000 people, collapsed around 300 A.D, for example. From the fifth to eights centuries A.D., there was an explosion of the rich tablet texts that provided so many insights into how the Mayans lived and worked. Suddenly, however,  starting in 775 A.D., the number of texts began to plunge by as much as 50%, a bellwether of a culture that was declining too.

(MoreHow the Drought of 2012 Will Make Your Food More Expensive)

There have been a lot of theories for what accounted for such cycles, with climate among the most-mentioned. The better the year-to-year weather — with plenty of rainfall and reasonably steady and predictable temperatures — the better crops do, and the more the culture and economy can expand. The texts have hinted at declines in productivity, perhaps climate-related, coinciding with generations of unrest, but there was never a precise way to confirm those writings. Analysis of lake sediments can yield a reliable reading of the levels of sulfur, oxygen isotopes and other atmospheric markers at various points in history, which reveal a lot about rainfall and other critical variables. But the Mayans themselves often unwittingly disturbed those sediments, with deforestation — including wide-scale burnings — and fishing. Read the rest of this entry »

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God Will Be Back Tomorrow (Really)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 2, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, Author, ‘Spiritual Solutions’; founder, The Chopra Foundation

Can a secular age return to an age of faith? No. Despite the hopes of people who still follow traditional religions, the modern age is too entrenched in its values to ever regain faith as it was once known. The issue isn’t church attendance, which has been declining in every developed country for decades. Nor is it fundamentalism, which is like a family squabble among believers. The core issue that has led to the decline of religion has to do with reality itself.

In the modern age, reality has been defined by science, and wherever science goes, so will God. Many people assume that God has no chance of returning, that science has permanently vanquished the reality defined by religion. But the story is more complicated than that. Let me look at the picture in the broadest terms. What would it take to make the universe a living thing? What would it take to make it human once again, a secure home for us instead of a cold, meaningless place? What would it take to give God a future?

As disconnected as these questions may seem, the deeper one looks, all three issues – a living universe, a human universe, and a universe that holds a place for God – start to merge. If they actually do merge, our view of reality will radically shift. There have been great physicists who were deeply religious, such as Sir Isaac Newton, or who had a religious feeling when confronting the universe, such as Albert Einstein, but God isn’t the right place to start with these huge issues. No matter who or what created the universe, it’s here now, and we have to relate to it.

How? One of the oldest ideas, which can be found in every culture, holds that Nature is a mirror. We relate to it by seeing ourselves, but not passively. Messages are constantly going back and forth about birth and death about constant change and the bond between our life and Nature itself. To the ancients, a natural disaster – fire, flood, earthquake – showed that the gods were angry. If the gods were appeased, the harvest was good and the sun shone. It was unquestioned that the universe meant something, and usually it meant that a loving deity had created a special place for his children.

It’s astonishing how quickly a timeless worldview was utterly destroyed by science. Now we relate to a completely mechanistic universe devoid of purpose, one that operates through random chance perfectly meshed with evolution operating through random genetic mutations. The mirror has shattered. We no longer see ourselves in it, because there’s nothing meaningful to see, no purpose, no Creator. Even more absurd is the notion that Nature is sending us messages – from the collision of quarks to the collision of galaxies, nothing is happening “out there” to reflect human existence. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Consciousness-Based Science

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 13, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University, and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)

The greatest mystery of existence is existence itself. There is the existence of the universe and there is the existence of the awareness of existence of the universe. Were it not for this awareness, even if the universe existed as an external reality, we would not be aware of its existence, so it would for all practical purpose not exist. Traditional science assumes, for the most part, that an objective observer independent reality exists; the universe, stars, galaxies, sun, moon and earth would still be there if no one was looking. However, modern quantum theory, the most successful of all scientific creations of the human mind, disagrees. The properties of a particle, quantum theory tells us, do not even exist until an observation takes place. Quantum theory disagrees with traditional, Newtonian physics. Most scientists, although respecting quantum theory, do not follow its implications. The result is a kind of schizophrenia between what scientists believe and what they practice. When we examine this hypothesis of traditional science, we find it more a metaphysical assumption than a scientific assertion.

How can we assert that an observer-independent reality exists if the assertion itself is dependent on the existence of a conscious observer? This raises the additional dilemma of who or what is the observer and where is this observer located? When scientists in general describe empirical facts and formulate scientific theories, they forget that neither facts nor theories are an insight into the true nature of fundamental reality apart from any observer. What we consider to be empirical facts are entirely dependent on observation, in agreement with quantum theory. The scientific observer in this case is an activity of the universe called Homo sapiens usually with a Ph.D. in physics. However, many scientists have never really asked the question “Who am I?”

Most neuroscientists who still don’t believe that quantum theory has anything to do with the brain would assert that “I,” the conscious observer, is solely an epiphenomenon of the brain, that consciousness is produced by the brain, just as gastric juices are produced by the stomach and bile is produced by the gall bladder. The problem with this of course, is that any neuroscientist worth his/her tenure will tell you that there is no satisfactory theory in neuroscience that explains how neurochemistry translates into conscious experience. How do electrochemical phenomena in the brain create the appreciation of the beauty of a red rose, the taste of garlic, the smell of onions, the feeling of love, compassion, joy, insight, intuition, imagination, creativity, free will, or awareness of existence of self and the universe? There is no physicalist theory based on classical physics to explain these subjective experiences. Nor is there any obvious means for coming up with one.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Hacking Your Memory: Could Total Recall Really Happen?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 6, 2012

Columbia Pictures

COLUMBIA PICTURES

Do we really need a remake of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi thriller Total Recall? No, but Hollywood is giving us one anyway, this time with Colin Farrell in the place of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the memory-challenged Douglas Quaid.

At the center of both movies is a company called Rekall that can implant fake memories and erase real ones with the help of a bulky, futuristic-looking machine. The original movie doesn’t explain how this happens, but that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating — something that carries extra weight when the fan is a professor specializing in both neuroscience and engineering.

“Here’s my crazy, mad scientist idea,” says Dr. Charles Higgins, a neuromorphic engineer at the University of Arizona. “If you’re going to program memories all over the brain without doing anything invasive like opening up the skull and sticking all kinds of probes in, maybe what they injected was nanorobots — lots of them, maybe millions or billions of them.

“Those go to preprogrammed locations all over the brain and the big machine we see in the movie is there to interact with the nanorobots, to tell them how to change synapses all over the brain in order to correspond with whatever the fake memory is going to be.”

(MORE: Five Miniature Robots Designed to Travel Inside Humans)

We already know that people can be influenced to remember things that never happened, as in the famous “Lost in the Mall” experiment conducted by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus in which people were told four anecdotes that were supposedly from their childhood. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cosmic Rays Still Mysterious 100 Years After Their Discovery

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 3, 2012

Cosmic Ray Mystery

Little is know about the ultra high-energy cosmic rays that penetrate that regularly the atmosphere. Recent ‘IceCube’ results challenge one of the leading theories, that they come from gamma ray bursts.

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// ]]>By: SPACE.com Staff Published: 08/01/2012 02:23 PM EDT on SPACE.com

Cosmic rays continue to puzzle scientists a century after the fast-moving particles were discovered.

Austrian scientist Victor Hess first cottoned on to the existence of cosmic rays after a high-altitude balloon flight on Aug. 7, 1912. In the 100 years since, researchers have learned a lot about these highly energetic particles, which constantly bombard Earth from outer space. But important questions remain, including where exactly they come from.

Scientists got on the trail of cosmic rays in the 1780s, when French physicist Charles-Augustin de Coulomb noticed that an electrically charged sphere spontaneously lost its charge. This seemed strange, because at the time scientists believed air to be an insulator rather than a conductor.

Further experiments demonstrated, however, that air becomes a conductor when its molecules are ionized — given a net positive or negative electrical charge — by interaction with charged particles or X-rays. [Video: Monster Stars Spit Cosmic Rays]

The source of these particles baffled scientists, as experiments showed that objects were losing their charge even when shielded by large chunks of lead, which blocks X-rays and other radioactive sources.

That’s where Hess’ landmark 1912 balloon flight comes in. At an altitude of 17,400 feet (5,300 meters), he measured ionizing radiation levels about three times greater than those seen on the ground. Hess concluded that this radiation is penetrating Earth’s atmosphere from outer space, an insight that earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936.

// // Hess had discovered cosmic rays, charged subatomic particles that streak through space at nearly the speed of light. They’re thought to be atomic nuclei from the entire range of naturally occurring elements, though the vast majority appear to be protons (hydrogen nuclei).

The source of cosmic rays, however, has remained mysterious. Scientists aren’t sure which cosmic phenomena are accelerating the particles to their fantastic speeds.

“The universe is full of natural particle accelerators, as for example in supernova explosions, in binary star systems or in active galactic nuclei,” said Christian Stegmann, head of the German Electron Synchrotron research center (known by its German acronym, DESY) at Zeuthen, in a statement.

“So far, only 150 of these objects are known to us, and we have just an initial physical understanding of these fascinating systems,” Stegmann added.

DESY is helping to organize a symposium to mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of cosmic rays. From Aug. 6-8, scientists from around the world will meet in Bad Saarow in the German state of Brandenburg, where Hess landed his balloon a century ago. They’ll present and discuss the latest research about the ultra-speedy particles — including ideas about how to unlock their long-held secrets. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interactive Panorama: Step Inside the Large Hadron Collider

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 16, 2012

 

A note to viewers: LightBox suggests viewing the panorama in full-screen mode. For visitors on a mobile device or tablet, we recommend utilizing our versions optimized for a fully immersive experience: 

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Above: The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is one of two main detectors at the LHC. It weighs 12,500 tons, measures 69 ft. (21 m) in length and is a key research tool for 2,000 scientists hailing from 37 countries. It was built above ground and lowered into place—a sensible strategy for so massive a piece of hardware. Here it is seen in 2008, just before it was completed. (Panorama by Peter McCready)

There’s something almost ironic about the disparity of scales between the Large Hadron Collider and the subatomic particles it’s built to study. The collider itself measures 17 mi. (27 km) in circumference, sits 380 ft. (116 m) below ground and cost $10 billion to build. Its detectors and magnets alone weigh tens of thousands of tons. As for the particles that are produced by the proton collisions that take place in the LHC tunnels? They are so tiny and evanescent that they flash into and out of existence in just a few trillionths of a second. But you can learn a lot in that flicker of time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Higgs Boson VIDEO: A Metaphor To Explain The Particle, Or Further Confuse You

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 4, 2012


My comment : “Eastern philosophy says that only after 5th level real spiritual world starts and sooner or later science will be up to 5th level. Enlightened person does not speak about God due to practical problems but teach the way to be there. The basic of science is to explain everything with scientific proofs and without scientific proofs science does not want to speak. In the process of enlightenment, nothing to share or explain, but to realize and watch just being there and diminishing themselves. To try or start to explain they lack proof as they can not take other people there easily. I have difficulty to write more than this here.

By Become a fan sciencecara@huffingtonpost.com

Have you noticed all the buzz surrounding the Higgs boson? Do you have any idea what it is or what it means? You’re not alone.

Let me help you brush up just in time for CERN’s big announcement on July 4, 2012. What does the Higgs particle have to do with bombs and giraffes? You’ll have to click to find out. And join the conversation by leaving a comment below. Come on, talk nerdy to me!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT

The video below is a brilliant explanation of the Standard Model by Henry Reich of Minute Physics. You can subscribe to his YouTube channel here.

 Science Milestones To Expect In 2012
         

Higgs Discovery: CERN May Confirm ‘God Particle’  Read the rest of this entry »

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Asteroid Telescope: Scientists Unveil Plan To Protect Earth From Rogue Space Rocks

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 29, 2012

By ALICIA CHANG AP Share on Google+

Asteroid Telescope

LOS ANGELES — Who will protect us from a killer asteroid? A team of ex-NASA astronauts and scientists thinks it’s up to them.

In a bold plan unveiled Thursday, the group wants to launch its own space telescope to spot and track small and mid-sized space rocks capable of wiping out a city or continent. With that information, they could sound early warnings if a rogue asteroid appeared headed toward our planet.

So far, the idea from the B612 Foundation is on paper only.

Such an effort would cost upward of several hundred million dollars, and the group plans to start fundraising. Behind the nonprofit are a space shuttle astronaut, Apollo 9 astronaut, former Mars czar, deep space mission manager along with other non-NASA types.

Asteroids are leftovers from the formation of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. Most reside in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter but some get nudged into Earth’s neighborhood.

NASA and a network of astronomers routinely scan the skies for these near-Earth objects. And they’ve found 90 percent of the biggest threats – asteroids at least two-thirds of a mile across that are considered major killers. Scientists believe it was a 6-mile-wide asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Read the rest of this entry »

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