Science News

acosmichippo

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#1
Thought we could use a thread for general (real) science news.

First Double-Leg Transplant Performed in Spain

The world's first double leg transplant was performed in Spain this week.

On Sunday, Pedro Cavadas and around 50 of his colleagues at La Fe Hospital in Valencia surgically transplanted two donated legs to the as-yet-unidentified man who lost his own lower limbs in an accident.

The 13-hour surgery will have involved carefuly re-attaching blood vessels and dragging nerve vessels close together. "All nerves are joined under a microscope," says Nadey Hakim, surgical director of the transplant unit at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London. "You pull them together and hope they grow in the right direction."

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acosmichippo

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#3
So apparently All Non-Africans are Part Neandertal.

If your heritage is non-African, you are part Neanderthal, according to a new study in the July issue ofMolecular Biology and Evolution. Discovery News has been reporting on human/Neanderthal interbreeding for some time now, so this latest research confirms earlier findings.

Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal's Department of Pediatrics and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center conducted the study with his colleagues. They determined some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals, but only in people of non-African heritage.

"This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred," Labuda was quoted as saying in a press release. His team believes most, if not all, of the interbreeding took place in the Middle East, while modern humans were migrating out of Africa and spreading to other regions.

The ancestors of Neanderthals left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago. They evolved over the millennia mostly in what are now France, Spain, Germany and Russia. They went extinct, or were simply absorbed into the modern human population, about 30,000 years ago.

Neanderthals possessed the gene for langauge and had sophisticated music, art and tool craftsmanship skills, so they must have not been all that unattractive to modern humans at the time.

"In addition, because our methods were totally independent of Neanderthal material, we can also conclude that previous results were not influenced by contaminating artifacts," Labuda said.
 

acosmichippo

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#4

acosmichippo

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#7
Randi Challenges Top “Psychics” After Nightline Episode

LOS ANGELES—The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has just directed its Million Dollar Challenge toward the celebrity "psychic mediums" featured on last night’s episode of ABC’s Primetime Nightline: Beyond Belief.[1]

“James Van Praagh and Allison DuBois have turned the huckster art of ‘cold reading’ into a multi-million-dollar industry, preying on families’ deepest fears and regrets,” said James Randi, founder of the JREF and a renowned magician and skeptic who also appeared in the episode. “They should be embarrassed by the transparent performances they revealed to the world on last night’s show.”

The JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge Director, Banachek, also featured in the episode, said, “We’re issuing a challenge to these fakers: for once, show that you can get this supposedly supernatural knowledge without cheating. If one of you can demonstrate your ‘psychic’ abilities on randomly chosen strangers—not celebrities—under mutually-agreed conditions, without relying on known cold-reading techniques such as fishing around with vague questions, and without just using Google—we will donate our million dollars to you or to the charity of your choice.”

What Happened?
In last night’s episode on “Psychic Powers,” self-proclaimed psychic medium James Van Praagh performed a reading on Good Morning America anchor Josh Elliott. Elliott initially appeared surprised by Van Praagh’s accuracy before finally revealing that “every talking point of the reading” seemed to have been lifted from a two-year-old interview with Elliott[2] that was available through a simple internet search. When Van Praagh was asked to repeat his performance on the spot with an ABC producer, he declined to try, claiming he had become too tired.

In a later scene, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reality-show actor Allison DuBois, also billed as the inspiration for the TV drama Medium, performed a similar reading on ABC News correspondent David Wright. Self-proclaimed medium Rebecca Rosen also performed a reading, and both readings focused on Wright’s family and his late mother. Wright was surprised by their accuracy and said they revealed “details that don’t pop up on Google.” Yet, shortly after the show aired, a Twitter user posted a link to a New York Times wedding announcement[3] that contained the relevant details about the Wright family.

How They Do It
“Cold reading” is a set of techniques used by mentalists and so-called psychics in which personal information is elicited from a person, often through vague or leading questions, and then repeated back to the person in order to persuade them that the performer has supernatural access to that information.[4] Another mentalism technique, called “hot reading,” involves obtaining information on a person in advance by surreptitious means. Both techniques are commonly used to create the illusion of psychic powers where none exist.
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[1] http://abc.go.com/watch/primetime-nightline-beyond-belief/SH55131205/VD55140044/psychic-power
[2] http://thebiglead.com/index.php/2009/06/19/a-qa-with-espns-josh-elliott/
[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/30/fashion/weddings/30bran.html
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_reading
should be an easy million bucks, right?
 

acosmichippo

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#9
Thorium lasers: The thoroughly plausible idea for nuclear cars

Some proposed technological innovations seem so far out that they are easy to reject out of hand. But sometimes, a new idea has a kernel of plausibility. Such is the case with a new project to develop a thorium laser power generation system that its creator says could provide electricity for the grid, stand-alone power applications and even cars.

Charles Stevens, an inventor and entrepreneur, recently revealed that his Massachusetts-based R&D firm, Laser Power Systems (LPS), is working on a turbine/electric generator system that is powered by “an accelerator-driven thorium-based laser.” The thorium laser does not produce a beam of coherent light like conventional lasers, but instead merely heats up and gives off energy.

Thorium, a silvery-white metal, is a mildly radioactive element (with an atomic weight of 90) that is as abundant as lead. It is present in large quantities in India and is a much-touted stand in for uranium in nuclear reactors because its fission is not self-sustaining, a type of reaction called “sub-critical.”

The idea has energized the small but active thorium community, which holds that it is the answer to our clean energy needs because it could, effectively, power a car forever. The new technology “would be totally emissions-free,” Stevens said, “with no need for recharging.”

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acosmichippo

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#19
I'd like to see Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges try to make a BAD movie.