Archive | Maps

Study Zeroes in on Genes 'at Work'

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 9 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’re using human gene maps not just to show their location but also which ones interact with each other to help cells thrive.

Scientists at UCLA say their findings will help researchers understand which genes work together as cells grow, function and then die, a university release said Monday.

Humans have about 20,000 different genes that initiate and control all bodily processes, from moving blood through the veins to stimulating the immune system to attack a cold virus.

Not all genes in a cell are active during the processes, but some are almost always engaged in either one-on-one reactions or creating networks involving dozens of genes.

Previous research had mapped interactions between proteins, which are set in motion by genes, but not the genes themselves. Researchers say this is an important step in understanding the role each gene plays in triggering a process or function in the body.

The new findings go beyond just understanding where a gene is located, based on DNA sequencing — that is, the order in which they reside in a cell.

“Current genetic maps show the order of genes and where they physically reside, like a street map of homes,” Desmond Smith, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA, said. “We took it one step further and were able to map which genes interact when they leave their homes and go to work.”

“By looking at a gene’s network of ‘friends and co-workers,’ we can tell a lot about its role and purpose,” said researcher Andy Lin, a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA.

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.

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Study: Rainforest Ecosystems at Risk

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 6 (UPI) — Up to 80 percent of the world’s rainforests could be destroyed by climate change by the next century, a study of ecosystems says.

A report by the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology in California says that by 2100 the world’s rainforests, home to half of all the plant and animal species on Earth, will undergo profound changes, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Climate change and deforestation could force species to move, adapt or die, the study said.

“For those areas of the globe projected to suffer most from climate change,” research leader Greg Asner said, “land managers could focus their efforts on reducing the pressure from deforestation, thereby helping species adjust to climate change, or enhancing their ability to move in time to keep pace with it.”

Asner and his team studied global deforestation and logging maps from satellite imagery and data from 16 climate-change projections worldwide.

By 2100, this could have an impact on two-thirds of the rainforests in Central and South America and about 70 percent in Africa, they say.

Projections based on this data show only somewhere between a fifth and a half of tropical rainforest plants and animals we know today may remain by 2100, the study says.

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.

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NASA Probe Closing in on Mercury

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A NASA probe heading for Mercury is already making valuable observations although still months away from entering an orbit about the planet, scientists say.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s MESSENGER mission will establish an orbit around Mercury next March to start creating the most detailed maps ever made of the planet, SPACE.com reports.

As it heads toward orbit after three flybys of the planet, the probe has already beamed back views of the cratered world providing a fresh look into its volcanic past.

“Mercury is not what we thought it was even 2 1/2 years ago,” principal mission investigator Sean Solomon said.

MESSENGER is the first spacecraft to examine Mercury up close since NASA’s Mariner 10 mission in the mid-1970s.

In addition to new global maps, scientists hope the mission will reveal new clues to how Mercury was formed and how it evolved.

“We’re trying to learn how a planet very near its host star differs from others that are more far out and more massive,” Solomon said. “Exploring the inner part of our solar system is to understand our place in the solar system.”

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.

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NASA Proble Closing in on Mercury

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — A NASA probe heading for Mercury is already making valuable observations although still months away from entering an orbit about the planet, scientists say.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s MESSENGER mission will establish an orbit around Mercury next March to start creating the most detailed maps ever made of the planet, SPACE.com reports.

As it heads toward orbit after three flybys of the planet, the probe has already beamed back views of the cratered world providing a fresh look into its volcanic past.

“Mercury is not what we thought it was even 2 1/2 years ago,” principal mission investigator Sean Solomon said.

MESSENGER is the first spacecraft to examine Mercury up close since NASA’s Mariner 10 mission in the mid-1970s.

In addition to new global maps, scientists hope the mission will reveal new clues to how Mercury was formed and how it evolved.

“We’re trying to learn how a planet very near its host star differs from others that are more far out and more massive,” Solomon said. “Exploring the inner part of our solar system is to understand our place in the solar system.”

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.

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Heeding the Lessons of Hurricane Katrina

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) — Insurance experts at a U.S. non-profit group advise homeowners to heed the lessons of the Gulf Coast encounter with Hurricane Katrina five years ago.

The experts at the Insurance Information Institute in Washington say those who heed the lessons of the storm stand the best chance of getting their lives back after a disaster.

The lessons include:

– Checking out flood insurance, usually not covered under a standard homeowners policy, at www.floodsmart.gov.

– Creating a home inventory to determine how much insurance to purchase and, if there are losses, to speed up claims processing and possibly provide documentation for tax purposes. The Institute offers free Web-based software at www.knowyourstuff.org.

– Keeping wind and water out. Investing in storm shutters, reinforced garage doors and secure roof shingles. Seal any openings. Attach, brace gable end walls and roof sheathing.

– Having an evacuation plan ready. Keep maps, phone numbers and addresses handy and think about what else to take, such as medicines, documents, clothing and food.

– Take the 10-Minute Challenge, that is, pack and get out of the house in just 10 minutes.

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.

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Survey of Arctic Routes Seen As Critical

WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) — A warming arctic climate could open up faster and more efficient sea travel routes but bring a risk of maritime “traffic jams,” experts say.

With the arctic sea ice at its lowest level in thousands of years, many shippers are looking to the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska as a new route, but more ships traversing northern passageways could choke oceangoing traffic, LiveScience.com reported Thursday.

“As arctic sea ice recedes, economic activity in the region is going to expand dramatically,” said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sent a survey ship to the region to detect navigational dangers in critical arctic waters that have not been charted for more than 50 years.

“We have seen a substantial increase in activity in the region, and ships are operating with woefully outdated charts,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said.

Referring to the NOAA survey, Murkowski said, “While this is a good start, we still need more resources to adequately map this region.”

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has identified 38,000 square nautical miles as survey priorities but says mapping the prioritized areas of the arctic seafloor could take more than 25 years.

“Today we have better maps of the moon than of our own oceans,” Capt. David Neander, commanding officer of the NOAA survey ship, 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.

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Posted Images Could Put Some at Risk

BERKELEY, Calif., July 20 (UPI) — Photos and videos uploaded to Web sites may be revealing more information than their posters intended, experts say, leading to real-world vulnerabilities.

Such postings can carry detailed information about where and when the images were recorded, leaving people’s homes or businesses open to “cybercasing” and possible criminal attacks in the real world, an International Computer Science Institute release said Tuesday.

Location information is automatically embedded in images by higher-end digital cameras and smart phones, researchers say, and can be cross-referenced with publicly available information such as Google Maps Street View to find addresses.

Researchers were able to identify the home addresses of people placing ads on Craigslist even when those posting photos had elected to hide their real names and addresses when placing ads on the site.

Searching online videos posted over several consecutive days by the same users, researchers found videos posted from more than a thousand miles apart and were able to identify a resident of a California city who was on vacation in the Caribbean, along with other users whose empty homes might be vulnerable to burglary.

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.

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Space Probe Gets 'suit' of Armor

WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) — A spacecraft bound for Jupiter will get a suit of armor to protect it from the fiercest radiation any space probe has ever encountered, NASA officials say.

The unmanned Juno space probe will face a treacherous environment with more radiation than around any other planet and will need an armored shield around its sensitive electronics, NASA said in a release Monday.

“Juno is basically an armored tank going to Jupiter,” Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator, said. “Without its protective shield, or radiation vault, Juno’s brain would get fried on the very first pass near Jupiter.”

An invisible force field filled with high-energy particles coming off Jupiter and its moons is energized by the planet’s super-fast rotation, NASA said.

“For the 15 months Juno orbits Jupiter, the spacecraft will have to withstand the equivalent of more than 100 million dental X-rays,” said Bill McAlpine at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “In the same way human beings need to protect their organs during an X-ray exam, we have to protect Juno’s brain and heart.”

The six-sided radiation shield is made of titanium. Lead, an effective shield against radiation, would be too soft to survive vibrations forces and stresses during the projected August 2011 launch, scientists decided.

While vault is not designed to completely prevent Jupiter’s radiation from hitting the system, it will dramatically slow down the aging effect radiation has on electronics for the duration of the mission, scientists said.

Juno’s goal is to understand the origin and evolution of the gas giant planet, making maps of the gravity, magnetic fields, and atmospheric composition of Jupiter from a unique polar orbit, NASA 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.

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Satellite Images of Earth a Hot Commodity

WASHINGTON, July 1 (UPI) — Satellite images of Earth, once the domain of spy satellites, are entering the commercial arena in a “new kind of space race,” U.S. observers say.

Two U.S. companies, DigitalGlobe in Colorado and GeoEye in Virginia, are feeding an ever-growing appetite for views of what’s happening around the world, USA Today reported Thursday.

“It is a new kind of space race,” says DigitalGlobe CEO Jill Smith. “We are looking at ways to make space images as ubiquitous as possible.”

“We are hiring like crazy,” says GeoEye CEO Matthew O’Connell. “This is a great time to be in the space-imaging business.”

The companies are finding eager customers in government planners and private developers for the images provided by their satellites, direct descendants of U.S. spy satellites.

Essentially telescopes in orbit, the satellites orbit from pole to pole every hour and a half, passing over every point on the Earth every three days, capturing images requested by customers.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 orbits 480 miles up and provides images with a resolution no smaller than a half-meter (about 19.5 inches), a legal limit imposed by the federal government. At that resolution, the company says, a lawn chair would be visible from 480 miles up.

From views of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and volcanoes to Google Earth and Google Maps, space images now define our era, says space historian Margaret Weitekamp of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington.

“We have expectations of connection and information that didn’t exist a decade ago because of this,” Weitekamp says.

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.

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Fourth of July Most Dangerous Driving Day

MINNEAPOLIS, June 30 (UPI) — The vast majority of U.S. adults say winter is the most dangerous time for driving but the Fourth of July weekend is the deadliest time, a survey indicates.

The survey by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Excellence in Rural Safety found 83 percent of Americans consider winter to be the most dangerous season to be driving on rural roadways, while 8 percent say summer, 4 percent say spring and 4 percent say fall.

“Americans’ sense of seasonal driving risk is skewed,” research director Tom Horan says in a statement. “We are wary of winter driving, but let our guard down during summer holidays, when fatalities are most likely to occur.”

Rural roads are particularly perilous — 57 percent of highway deaths occur on rural roads — because the lighter traffic and pleasant scenery can lull drivers into a false sense of security, Horan says.

To help drivers plan safer trips, the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety created SafeRoadMaps, a Google Maps-based system that allows visitors to saferoadmaps.org to enter a Zip code, municipality name or street address and see a map or satellite image all of the road fatalities that have occurred in the chosen area over the past eight years.

The survey of 1,205 registered voters has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

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.

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