Archive | History

Giant, Distant Galaxy Cluster Found

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 14 (UPI) — U.S. astronomers say they’ve discovered the biggest galaxy cluster ever seen, a massive grouping of hundreds of galaxies 7 billion light-years from Earth.

Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics found the cluster using the South Pole Telescope, a Harvard release said.

“This galaxy cluster wins the heavyweight title. It’s among the most massive clusters ever found at this distance,” said Mark Brodwin, a Smithsonian astronomer at the center.

Because it’s 7 billion light-years distant, we’re seeing it as it was 7 billion years ago when the universe was only half its present age and our solar system didn’t exist yet, researchers say.

“This cluster is full of ‘old’ galaxies, meaning that it had to come together very early in the universe’s history — within the first 2 billion years,” Brodwin said.

The Harvard-Smithsonian team said it expects to find many more giant galaxy clusters once the South Pole Telescope survey is completed.

“After many years of effort, these early successes are very exciting. The full SPT survey, to be completed next year, will rewrite the book on the most massive clusters in the early universe,” Brodwin said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other, Solar0 Comments

U.N. Hails Eradication of a Cattle Disease

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 14 (UPI) — For the first time in history, human efforts will have wiped out an animal disease in the wild, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says.

The infectious viral disease rinderpest will soon be officially eradicated in an ambitious worldwide effort, a U.N. release said Thursday.

Smallpox is the only other disease successfully eradicated by human efforts, the FAO said.

Rinderpest, from the German for “cattle plague,” does not directly affect humans, but the swift, massive losses of cattle and other hoofed animals it causes has wreaked havoc on agriculture for thousands of years, resulting in famine and economic destruction.

At one point its spread extended from Scandinavia to the Cape of Good Hope and from Africa’s Atlantic shore to the Philippine archipelago.

Outbreaks have also been reported in Brazil and Australia.

The last known outbreak of rinderpest occurred in Kenya in 2001.

FAO headed a global effort to study the plague to help farmers and others recognize and control the disease, start vaccination campaigns and ultimately eradicate it.

“The control and elimination of rinderpest has always been a priority for the organization since its early days in its mission to defeat hunger and strengthen global food security,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other0 Comments

Record Long-distance Dinosaur Flights?

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 12 (UPI) — Ancient flying dinosaurs may have been able to fly for 10,000 miles non-stop on wings stretching up to 30 feet, a U.S. scientist says.

The fliers belonged to four species some researchers call supergiant pterosaurs, flying reptiles such as Quetzalcoatlus northropi from Texas, ScienceNews.org reported.

First appearing 70 million years ago, they were about as tall as a modern giraffe and flew on membrane wings.

These supergiants were “big by pterosaur standards,” biomechanist Michael Habib of Chatham University in Pittsburgh said. “They are truly gruesomely huge by bird and bat standards.”

If scientists are correctly estimating their body masses and wing dimensions based on fossils, and if they could catch thermals and glide as birds do, “it would make them the longest single-trip-distance fliers in the Earth’s history,” Habib said.

Other researchers such as David Unwin, a pterosaur researcher at the University of Leicester in England, aren’t so sure but he said “we didn’t fall on the floor laughing” upon hearing of the idea.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Birds, History, Other, Reptiles0 Comments

Commercial Spaceship in First Flight Test

MOJAVE, Calif., Oct. 11 (UPI) — A commercial suborbital spaceship made its first solo glide test from 45,000 feet to a landing at California’s Mojave Air Space Port, its developer said.

The Virgin Galactic space vehicle VSS Enterprise has had four previous flights attached to its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship, but the Sunday glide test was it first solo outing, Discovery News reported.

“This was one of the most exciting days in the whole history of Virgin,” company founder Richard Branson said in a statement.

“For the first time since we seriously began the project in 2004, I watched the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port and it was a great moment,” Branson said.

With the glide flight completed, spaceship builder Scaled Composites says it will begin rocket-powered flights next year and test flights in space in late 2011 or early 2012.

Virgin Galactic is selling rides on the six-passenger, two-pilot ship for $200,000 and has received $50 million in deposits from 370 customers so far.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other0 Comments

15 Percent of Middle-age Women Depressed

NEW YORK, Oct. 9 (UPI) — Fifteen percent of U.S. women between the ages of 45 and 64 experience frequent depression, a U.S. researcher says.

Katherine Muller, director of Psychological Training at Montefiore Medical Center, says recent research suggests the odds of being diagnosed with depression peak for women at age 44.

“When you’re tense, levels of stress hormone cortisol go up,” Muller tells Women’s Day. “Cortisol affects the balance of mood chemicals in the brain in such a way that you’re more susceptible to depression.”

At this stage of a woman’s life she is usually experiencing transitions and wholesale changes including having children leave for college, doubts about relationships, juggling careers, marriage, aging parents and over analyzing and concerns about “life so far,” Muller says.

“Genetics is a major risk factor for developing a psychiatric disorder” so people with a family history should pay special attention to their behavior, Muller advises.

However, depression is very treatable and getting help in a combination of therapy and medications is a crucial step, Muller adds.

The November issue of Woman’s Day, on newsstands Monday, offers a comprehensive report on the rise of midlife depression in women.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Chemicals, History, Other0 Comments

Fossil Challenges View of Dinosaurs

TORONTO, Oct. 7 (UPI) — Dinosaurs did not spread throughout the world by fiercely overpowering other species but by a more stealthy and patient advance, North American scientists say.

Canadian and U.S. researchers say a previously unknown species of dinosaur discovered in Arizona suggests dinosaurs were opportunists, taking advantage of a natural catastrophe that wiped out their competitors, a University of Toronto release said.

One of the five great mass extinction events in Earth’s history happened at the end of the Triassic Period — about 200 million years ago — wiping out many of the potential competitors to dinosaurs.

Evidence from the newly identified dinosaur, named Sarahsaurus, and two other early dinosaur species suggests each migrated into North America from South America in separate waves long after the extinction and that no such dinosaurs migrated there before the extinction.

“Until recently, we’ve viewed dinosaurs as very successful animals that out-competed other species wherever they went,” Robert R. Reisz, professor of biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, says. “But this study puts dinosaurs in a very different light — that they were more opportunistic creatures that moved into North America only when a mass extinction event made eco-space available to them.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other0 Comments

BRCA Mutation Lessens Recurrence Risk

HOUSTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) — Women with both “triple negative breast cancer” and the BRCA mutation have lower risk of recurrence of cancer, U.S. researchers found.

Triple negative disease breast cancer, which accounts for about 15 percent of all breast cancers, is aggressive, less responsive to standard treatment and associated with poorer patient prognosis. BRCA — BReast CAncer — gene mutations may make a person more susceptible to developing breast cancer.

Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found patients with triple negative breast cancer who also have mutations in the BRCA gene appeared to have a lower risk of recurrence — compared to those with the same disease without the BRCA mutation.

First author Dr. Ana Gonzalez-Angulo noted the incidence of BRCA mutations in the triple negative breast cancer population was higher than expected.

“Perhaps we need to lower our threshold for patients with triple negative breast cancer for genetic counseling and to assess for mutation status — especially those under age 50 — despite not having the significant family history as others,” Gonzalez-Angulo said in a statement

Gonzalez-Angulo and colleagues looked at data for 77 women with triple negative disease — 19.5 percent of whom were found to have BRCA mutations.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the Breast Cancer Symposium in December.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other0 Comments

Intervention to Prevent PTSD in Children

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 6 (UPI) — One in five children may get post-traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic event such as a car crash, an assault or other violence, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Steven Berkowitz of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, says the study involved 106 children ages 7-17 and a caregiver randomly assigned to receive the four-session Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention. Others received a four-session supportive comparison intervention.

The intervention began with an initial baseline assessment to measure the children’s trauma history and preliminary visits with caregivers.

After two additional sessions, the clinician, caregiver and child decide on a homework assignment to practice certain coping skills.

“This is the first preventative intervention to improve outcomes in children who have experienced a potentially traumatic event, and the first to reduce the onset of PTSD in kids,” Berkowitz says in a statement. “If this study is replicated and validated in future studies, this intervention could be used nationally to help children successfully recover from a traumatic event without progressing to PTSD.”

The study is published online in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other0 Comments

Software Can 'proof-read' Wikipedia

IOWA CITY, Iowa, Sept. 23 (UPI) — A new tool may help fight malicious editing that introduces incorrect or misleading information in online sites such as Wikipedia, U.S. researchers say.

University of Iowa researchers are developing a software tool that can detect potential vandalism and improve the accuracy of Wikipedia entries, a university release says.

The tool is an algorithm that looks at new edits to a page and compares them to existing words in the rest of the entry, and then alerts an editor or page manager if it senses a problem.

There are existing tools that spot obscenities or vulgarities, or major edits, such as deletions of entire sections, or significant edits throughout a document. But those tools are built manually, with prohibited words and phrases entered by hand, so they’re time-consuming and easy to evade, the UI researchers say.

Their automatic statistical language model algorithm works by finding words or vocabulary patterns that it can’t find elsewhere in the entry at any time since it was first written.

For instance, when someone wrote “Pete loves PANCAKES” into the Wikipedia entry for Abraham Lincoln, the algorithm recognized the graffiti as potential vandalism after scanning the rest of the entry.

“It determines the probability of each word appearing, and because the word ‘pancakes’ didn’t turn up anywhere else in the history of Lincoln’s entry, the algorithm saw it as something new and possible graffiti,” said Si-Chi Chin, a graduate student in UI’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other0 Comments

Study: Cities 'evolved' Disease Resistance

LONDON, Sept. 23 (UPI) — A genetic variant that protects against diseases such as tuberculosis is more prevalent in populations with long histories of city living, scientists say.

University College London researchers have found that in areas with a long history of urban settlements, today’s inhabitants are more likely to possess the genetic variant that provides resistance to infection, a university release said.

In ancient cities, poor sanitation and high population densities would have provided an ideal breeding ground for the spread of disease.

Natural selection should mean humans would have developed resistance to disease in longstanding urbanized populations over time.

UCL researchers tested the theory by analyzing DNA samples from 17 different human populations living across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Past exposure to pathogens in urban environments led to disease resistance spreading through populations, with ancestors passing their gene variant resistance to their descendants, they say.

“The results show that the protective variant is found in nearly everyone from the Middle East to India and in parts of Europe where cities have been around for thousands of years” UCL Professor Mark Thomas says.

It’s a perfect example of human evolution, another researcher says.

“This seems to be an elegant example of evolution in action,” biologist Ian Barns says. “It flags up the importance of a very recent aspect of our evolution as a species, the development of cities as a selective force.

“It could also help to explain some of the differences we observe in disease resistance around the world,” Barnes said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in History, Other0 Comments

No Posts in Category
Advertisement