The Phantom City

Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: Science (page 1 of 4)

More evidence of the coming Mouse Revolution

Testing to see if glial progenitor cells — the early form of neurons and glia in the brain — can be integrated into human brains that are missing these vital building blocks, scientists have injected human progenitor cells into mouse brains.

The human progenitor cells went to the correct locations and performed the correct function in the mouse brains…but then this happened:

The human progenitor cells are larger, more complex, and have more staying power than mouse progenitor cells in the brains of mice. Which means that over time, the brains of mice injected with these cells are becoming more…human. Goldman’s collaborator (and spouse) Maiken Nedergaard and her team at the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, also at U Rochester, has tested these mice to see if their humanised brains make them smarter. The hu-mice do seem to condition more quickly, and show signs at the molecular level of differences in synaptic connections that suggest they might be cognitively different.

Anyone else shuddering at the concept of “hu-mice?”

Courtesy of In The Field, at Nature.com

Hey, kid, what’s your blood type?

New Scientist mentions a study where old mice are rejuvenated by being conjoined with young mice and sharing their blood supply.

Have we learned nothing from science fiction and horror? If there’s one lesson to be taken from hundreds of stories, it’s that creating a Fountain of Youth by harvesting from the young always turns out to be a bad idea. πŸ˜‰

Awesome

The Earth and Moon, as seen from Mars orbit.

The Earth and Moon from Mars

Link courtesy of Boing Boing.

3 AM Curfew?

Jamaal Tinsley — point guard for the Indiana Pacers and apparently a bad person to party with — and his entourage were shot at after leaving a club around 3:30 AM, possibly with a .223 assault rifle. ESPN paraphrases Pacers’ coach Jim O’Brien with “Tinsley made an error in judgment by being out so late.”

Wow, so the real problem is that after around 3 AM, the streets of downtown Indianapolis are crawling with gunmen looking for cars to shoot? He would have been fine if he went home earlier? Dang, now I’m really glad we didn’t move there. πŸ™‚

In other sports news, ex-Falcons QB Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in jail for dogfighting. According to the AP, Falcons owner Arthur Blank called the sentencing “another step in his legal journey.” I guess the next step is finding a prison girlfriend? Or maybe it’ll be like My Name is Earl, and he’ll solve prison problems while getting certificates for time off?

Coincidentally — maybe — today’s featured article on Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org, at least) is the Brown Dog affair.

Original Brown Dog Statue

Too much pedestal, not enough dog.

India: The New Australia?

Watching nature shows as a kid, one of the things I found most interesting is that apparently every form of life in Australia is dangerous. Sharks, snakes, spiders…even koalas, with their deceptively cute looks and long claws…everything moving can kill you. (Well, except for Michael “Aussie” Southam from ESPN’s Madden Nation. Then again, he could just be lulling his prey into a false sense of security.) My Australian doctor has a poster of the alphabet made up of her native land’s animals; I like to think of it as My First Deadly Alphabet.

India should have had the same reputation with me. After all, there are cobras, tigers, and crocodiles. However, I never thought of it as particularly scary until I read these stories:

First, the deputy mayor of Delhi has been killed by monkeys. Roving packs of wild rhesus monkeys have become more dangerous over time due to their adaptation to the urban environment. The solution? Release “larger, more ferocious langur monkeys” to go after the smaller monkeys. I foresee absolutely no problems there.

Second, a news service is carrying the story of a tree in southern India that eats cows. I’m not saying it exists. I’m just saying you can’t trust the trees either.

So, to recap, if you try to get away from the cobras, tigers, and crocodiles, and you get near a tree, it might try to eat you. If you stay in an urban environment, you are easy prey for roving packs of monkeys being chased by larger roving packs of larger monkeys. Yep, India is now my new Australia.

Links courtesy of Boing Boing, which has some of the best news ever.

Right vs. Left Brain

Interesting test for whether you use more of your right brain or your left. If you see the dancer spinning clockwise, you’re using the right brain; counter-clockwise, the left. Not sure how accurate it is, but it’s a weird effect.

When I load the page, I can’t help but see her going clockwise. If I just watch the picture move, it stays clockwise. However, about the moment I noticed that the dancer appeared to be…ah…more anatomically correct than you would expect a computer-generated silhouette to be, she flipped counter-clockwise. It takes a bit, but for me looking directly at any detail in the image flips the motion to counter-clockwise. That might actually make sense, given the descriptions of right vs. left brain they use.

Link courtesy of Too Many Topics, Too Many Time, which has a different trigger for flipping the rotation.

And, just for today:

I iz on ur couch  messin with ur percextions.

I’m never going to Texas again

So many spiders….

Actually, maybe they’ll stop the killer bees.

Update: Oh, great. The giant web is the result of different species of spiders mysteriously collaborating. Isn’t that the start of a horror film?

Maybe it’s a giant space sponge?

Oops, I broke the planet.

The largest planet we know of outside of our solar system is 1.7 times the size of Jupiter, but it has the density of balsa wood. Or maybe it’s a giant diamond latticework with lots of empty space? πŸ˜‰

Update: Or maybe it’s a big clump of space dirt?

A Star, Shedding

Astronomers have found a star, zipping through the galaxy at 291,000 miles per hour, creating a tail much like those of comets. This tail, however, is 13 light-years long.

Mira

No commentary, except to note that the universe is a wonderfully strange place. That, and it’s good we can see the tail. Otherwise, it would be coming right at us. πŸ˜‰

Link courtesy of Boing Boing.

Friday Felis Silvestris Lybica Blogging

Scientists have found that all domestic house cats owe their genetic heritage to the Near Eastern wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica. A quote from the story:

Some 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Near East, an audacious wild cat crept into one of the crude villages of early human settlers, the first to domesticate wheat and barley. There she felt safe from her many predators in the region, such as hyenas and larger cats, and the rodents that infested the settlers’ homes and granaries were sufficient prey for her…Seeing she was earning her keep, the settlers tolerated her, and their children greeted her kittens with delight.

And then the children ran out with an angry mother cat attached to them. πŸ˜‰

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