October 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm #47407October 29, 2016 at 5:48 pm #47408
link below to part of talk on counter-directional winds at poles of Saturn might be relevant.
ROctober 30, 2016 at 2:02 pm #47410
Interesting. David Wilcock and others have speculated that the process of planetary rebirth and accompanying physical earth changes are part of a larger process that encompasses the entire solar system. He documents a number of such anomalous developments throughout the solar system. Is it related? I don’t know!
http://divinecosmos.com/index.php/start-here/books-free-online/20-the-divine-cosmos/102-the-divine-cosmos-chapter-08-the-transformation-of-the-solar-systemNovember 18, 2016 at 4:28 am #47412
Simulated reality is the hypothesis that reality could be simulatedfor example by computer simulationto a degree indistinguishable from “true” reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from “true” reality. There has been much debate over this topic, ranging from philosophical discourse to practical applications in computing.
Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object in space other than Earth where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.
In his 2006 book, Programming the Universe, Lloyd contends that the universe itself is one big quantum computer producing what we see around us, and ourselves, as it runs a cosmic program. According to Lloyd, once we understand the laws of physics completely, we will be able to use small-scale quantum computing to understand the universe completely as well.
Bizarre creatures that go years without water. Others that can survive the vacuum of open space. Some of the most unusual organisms found on Earth provide insights for Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch to predict what life could be like elsewhere in the universe.
NASA’s discovery last month of 500 new planets near the constellations Lyra and Cygnus, in the Milky Way Galaxy, touched off a storm of speculation about alien life. In a recent article in the journal Life, Schulze-Makuch draws upon what is known about Earth’s most extreme lifeforms and the environments of Mars and Titan, Saturn’s moon, to paint a clearer picture of what life on other planets could be like. His work was supported by the European Research Council.
“If you don’t explore the various options of what life may be like in the universe, you won’t know what to look for when you go out to find it,” said Schulze-Makuch, a professor in the WSU School of the Environment.
“We do not propose that these organisms exist but like to point out that their existence would be consistent with physical and chemical laws, as well as biology,” he said.
For example, on Earth, a species of beetle called bombardier excretes an explosive mix of hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals to ward off predators.
“On other planets, under gravity conditions similar to those present on Mars, a bombardier beetle-like alien could excrete a similar reaction to propel itself as much as 300 meters into the air,” Schulze-Makuch said.
While explorers to Mars might find creatures similar to those on Earth, life on a Titan-like planet would require a completely novel biochemistry. Such a discovery would be a landmark scientific achievement with profound implications.
Earth life, with its unique biochemical toolset, could feasibly survive on a Mars-like planet with a few novel adaptations.
First, organisms would need a way to get water in an environment that is akin to a drier and much colder version of Chile’s Atacama Desert. A possible adaptation would be to use a water-hydrogen peroxide mixture rather than water as an intracellular liquid, Schulze-Makuch said.
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural antifreeze that would help microorganisms survive frigid Martian winters. It is also hygroscopic, meaning it naturally attracts water molecules from the atmosphere.
During the daytime, plant-like microorganisms on a Martian-like surface could photosynthesize hydrogen peroxide. At night, when the atmosphere is relatively humid, they could use their stored hydrogen peroxide to scavenge water from the atmosphere, similar to how microbial communities in the Atacama use the moisture that salt brine extracts from the air to stay alive.
Schulze-Makuch speculates that a larger, more complex alien creature, maybe resembling Earth’s bombardier beetle, could use these microorganisms as a source of food and water. To move from one isolated patch of life-sustaining microorganisms to another, it could use rocket propulsion.
Due to its greater distance from the Sun, Titan is much colder than Earth. Its surface temperature is on average -290 degrees F. Additionally, there is no liquid water on the surface nor carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The two chemical components are essential for life as we know it.
If life does exist on Titan or a Titan-like planet elsewhere in the universe, it uses something other than water as an intracellular liquid. One possibility is a liquid hydrocarbon like methane or ethane. Non-water based lifeforms could feasibly live in the liquid methane and ethane lakes and seas that make up a large portion of Titan’s surface, just as organisms on Earth live in water, Schulze-Makuch said.
Such hypothetical creatures would take in hydrogen in place of oxygen and react it with high energy acetylene in the atmosphere to produce methane instead of carbon dioxide.
Due to their frigid environment, these organisms would have huge (by Earth standards) and very slowly metabolizing cells. The slow rate of metabolism would mean evolution and aging would occur much slower than on Earth, possibly raising the life span of individual organisms significantly.
“On Earth, we have only scratched the surface of the physiological options various organisms have. But what we do know is astounding,” Schulze-Makuch said. “The possibilities of life elsewhere in the universe are even more staggering.
“Only the discovery of extraterrestrial life and a second biosphere will allow us to test these hypotheses,” he said,November 18, 2016 at 4:50 am #47414
The evil demon, also known as evil genius, and occasionally as malicious demon or genius malignus, is a concept in Cartesian philosophy. In his 1641 Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes hypothesized the existence of an evil demon, a personification who is “as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me.” The evil demon presents a complete illusion of an external world, including other minds, to Descartes’ senses, where there is no such external world in existence. The evil demon also presents to Descartes’ senses a complete illusion of his own body, including all bodily sensations. Some Cartesian scholars opine that the demon is also omnipotent, and thus capable of altering mathematics and the fundamentals of logic, though omnipotence of the evil demon would be contrary to Descartes’ hypothesis, as he rebuked accusations of the evil demon having omnipotence.
New research from a team led by Carnegie’s Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the cosmos.
Minerals form from novel combinations of elements. These combinations can be facilitated by both geological activity, including volcanoes, plate tectonics, and water-rock interactions, and biological activity, such as chemical reactions with oxygen and organic material.
Nearly a decade ago, Hazen developed the idea that the diversity explosion of planet’s minerals from the dozen present at the birth of our Solar System to the nearly 5,000 types existing today arose primarily from the rise of life. More than two-thirds of known minerals can be linked directly or indirectly to biological activity, according to Hazen. Much of this is due to the rise of bacterial photosynthesis, which dramatically increased the atmospheric oxygen concentration about 2.4 billion years ago.
In a suite of four related, recently published papers, Hazen and his teamEd Grew, Bob Downs, Joshua Golden, Grethe Hystad, and Alex Pirestook the mineral evolution concept one step further. They used both statistical models of ecosystem research and extensive analysis of mineralogical databases to explore questions of probability involving mineral distribution.
They discovered that the probability that a mineral “species” (defined by its unique combination of chemical composition and crystal structure) exists at only one locality is about 22 percent, whereas the probability that it is found at 10 or fewer locations is about 65 percent. Most mineral species are quite rare, in fact, found in 5 or fewer localities.
“Minerals follow the same kind of frequency of distribution as words in a book,” Hazen explained. “For example, the most-used words in a book are extremely common such as ‘and,’ ‘the,’ and ‘a.’ Rare words define the diversity of a book’s vocabulary. The same is true for minerals on Earth. Rare minerals define our planet’s mineralogical diversity.”
Further statistical analysis of mineral distribution and diversity suggested thousands of plausible rare minerals either still await discovery or occurred at some point in Earth’s history, only to be subsequently lost by burial, erosion, or subduction back into the mantle. The team predicted that 1,563 minerals exist on Earth today, but have yet to be discovered and described.
The distribution of these “missing” minerals is not uniform, however.
Several circumstances influence the likelihood of a mineral having previously been discovered. This includes physical characteristics, such as color. White minerals are less likely to have been noticed, for example. Other factors include the quality of crystallization, solubility in water, and stability near the surface of the planet.
As such, Hazen and his colleagues predicted that nearly 35 percent of sodium minerals remain undiscovered, because more than half of them are white, poorly crystallized, or water soluble. By contrast, fewer than 20 percent of copper, magnesium, and copper minerals have not been discovered.
Further expanding the link between geological and biological evolution, Hazen’s team applied the biological concepts of chance and necessity to mineral evolution. In biology, this idea means that natural selection occurs because of a random “chance” mutation in the genetic material of a living organism that becomes, if it confers reproductive advantage, a “necessary” adaptation.
But in this instance, Hazen’s team asked how the diversity and distribution of Earth’s minerals came into existence and the likelihood that it could be replicated elsewhere. What they found is that if we could turn back the clock and “re-play” Earth’s history, it is probable that many of the minerals formed and discovered in this alternate version of our planet would be different from those we know today.
“This means that despite the physical, chemical, and biological factors that control most of our planet’s mineral diversity, Earth’s mineralogy is unique in the cosmos,” Hazen said.
The four papers are published in Canadian Mineralogist, Mathematical Geoscience, American Mineralogist, and Earth and Planetary Science Letters.November 22, 2016 at 11:48 am #47416
December 14, 2015 by Hannah L. Robbins
They say we can’t escape our pastno matter how much we change, we still have the memory of what came before; the same can be said of our cells.
Adult cells, such as skin or blood cells, have a cellular “memory,” or record of how the cell changes as it develops from an uncommitted embryonic cell into a specialized adult cell. Now, Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in collaboration with scientists from the Research Institutes of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) and Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna have identified genes that when suppressed effectively erase a cell’s memory, making the cell more susceptible to reprogramming and, consequently, making the process of reprogramming quicker and more efficient.
The study was recently published in Nature.
“We began this work because we wanted to know why a skin cell is a skin cell, and why does it not change its identity the next day, or the next month, or a year later?” said co-senior author Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD, an HSCI Principal Faculty member at MGH and Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and a world expert in cellular reprogramming.
Every cell in the human body has the same genome, or DNA blueprint, explained Hochedlinger, and it is how those genes are turned on and off during development that determines what kind of adult cell each will become. By manipulating those genes and introducing new factors, scientists can unlock dormant parts of an adult cell’s genome and reprogram it into another cell type.
However, “a skin cell knows it is a skin cell,” said IMBA’s Josef Penninger, even after scientists reprogram those skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) – a process that would ideally require a cell to “forget” its identity before assuming a new one. Cellular memory is often conserved, acting as a roadblock to reprogramming. “We wanted to find out which factors stabilize this memory and what mechanism prevents iPS cells from forming,” Penninger said.
To identify potential factors, the team established a genetic library targeting known chromatin regulatorsgenes that control the packaging and bookmarking of DNA, and are involved in creating cellular memory.
Hochedlinger and Sihem Cheloufi, co-first author and a postdoc in Hochedlinger’s lab, designed a screening approach that tested each of these factors.
Of the 615 factors screened, the researchers identified four chromatin regulators, three of which had not yet been described, as potential roadblocks to reprogramming. In comparison to the three to four fold increase seen by suppressing previously known roadblock factors, inhibiting the newly described CAF1 (chromatin assembly factor 1) made the process 50 to 200 fold more efficient. Moreover, in the absence of CAF1 reprogramming turned out to be much faster: While the process normally takes nine days, the researchers could detect the first iPS cell after four days.
“The CAF1 complex ensures that during DNA replication and cell division daughter cells keep their memory, which is encoded on the histones that the DNA is wrapped around,” said Ulrich Elling, a co-first author from IMBA. “When we block CAF-1, daughter cells fail to wrap their DNA the same way, lose this information and covert into blank sheets of paper. In this state, they respond more sensitively to signals from the outside, meaning we can manipulate them much more easily.”
By suppressing CAF-1 the researchers were also able to facilitate the conversion of one type of adult cell directly into another, skipping the intermediary step of forming iPS cells, via a process called direct reprogramming, or transdifferentiation. Thus, CAF-1 appears to act as a general guardian of cell identity whose depletion facilitates both the interconversion of one adult cell type to another as well as the conversion of specialized cells into iPS cells.
In finding CAF-1, the researchers identified a complex that allows cell memory to be erased and rewritten. “The cells forget who they are, making it easier to trick them into becoming another type of cell,” said Sihem Cheloufi.
CAF-1 may provide a general key to facilitate the “reprogramming” of cells to model disease and test therapeutic agents, IMP’s Johannes Zuber explained. “The best-case scenario,” Zuber said, “is that with this insight, we hold a universal key in our hands that will allow us to model cells at will.”November 23, 2016 at 8:01 am #47418
G¨£ny¨¬ng or y¨¬ng is a Chinese cultural keyword meaning a “correlative resonance” pulsating throughout the purported force field of qi that infuses the cosmos. When the idea of ganying first appeared in Chinese classics from the late Warring States period (475-221 BCE), it referred to a cosmological principle of “stimulus and response” between things of the same kind, analogous with vibratory sympathetic resonance.
Taoist view of humanity is a creative one, and this tracks the creative intellectual edge. Often the ideas here parallel spiritual explorations I’ve made/making energetically – that focus on experience and self-cultivation is the difference between an intellectual and an alchemical or qigong adept. But the two can feed each other.
this is where science is finally trying to catch up with alchemical processes of “gan ying”: coherence created by resonance at a distance. The movement is in the right direction, away from old ideas of mechaniing the process, allowing light/chi to flow in all directions and all timelines at once and using the feedback to choose the most evolutionary timeline in the present movment.
August 27, 2015
Scientists can now watch dynamic biological processes with unprecedented clarity in living cells using new imaging techniques developed by researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus. The new methods dramatically improve on the spatial resolution provided by structured illumination microscopy, one of the best imaging methods for seeing inside living cells.
The vibrant videos produced with the new technology show the movement and interactions of proteins as cells remodel their structural supports or reorganize their membranes to take up molecules from outside the cell. Janelia group leader Eric Betzig, postdoctoral fellow Dong Li and their colleagues have added the two new technologies¡ªboth variations on SIM¡ªto the set of tools available for super-resolution imaging. Super-resolution optical microscopy produces images whose spatial resolution surpasses a theoretical limit imposed by the wavelength of light, offering extraordinary visual detail of structures inside cells. But until now, super-resolution methods have been impractical for use in imaging living cells.
“These methods set a new standard for how far you can push the speed and non-invasiveness of super-resolution imaging,” Betzig says of the techniques his team described in the August 28, 2015, issue of the journal Science. “This will bring super-resolution to live-cell imaging for real.”
In traditional SIM, the sample under the lens is observed while it is illuminated by a pattern of light (more like a bar code than the light from a lamp). Several different light patterns are applied, and the resulting moir¨¦ patterns are captured from several angles each time by a digital camera. Computer software then extracts the information in the moir¨¦ images and translates it into a three-dimensional, high-resolution reconstruction. The final reconstruction has twice the spatial resolution that can be obtained with traditional light microscopy.
Betzig was one of three scientists awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. He says SIM has not received as much attention as other super-resolution methods largely because those other methods offer more dramatic gains in spatial resolution. But he notes that SIM has always offered two advantages over alternative super-resolution methods, including photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), which he developed in 2006 with Janelia colleague Harald Hess.
Both PALM and stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, the other super-resolution technique recognized with the 2014 Nobel Prize, illuminate samples with so much light that fluorescently labeled proteins fade and the sample is quickly damaged, making prolonged imaging impossible. SIM, however, is different. “I fell in love with SIM because of its speed and the fact that it took so much less light than the other methods,” Betzig says.
Betzig began working with SIM shortly after the death in 2011 of one of its pioneers, Mats Gustafsson, who was a group leader at Janelia. Betzig was already convinced that SIM had the potential to generate significant insights into the inner workings of cells, and he suspected that improving the technique’s spatial resolution would go a long way toward increasing its use by biologists.
Gustafsson and graduate student Hesper Rego had achieved higher-resolution SIM with a variation called saturated depletion non-linear SIM, but that method trades improvements in spatial resolution for harsher conditions and a loss of speed. Betzig saw a way around that trade-off.
Saturated depletion enhances the resolution of SIM images by taking advantage of fluorescent protein labels that can be switched on and off with light. To generate an image, all of the fluorescent labels in a protein are switched on, then a wave of light is used to deactivate most of them. After exposure to the deactivating light, only molecules at the darkest regions of the light wave continue to fluoresce. These provide higher frequency information and sharpen the resulting image. An image is captured and the cycle is repeated 25 times or more to generate data for the final image. The principle is very similar to the way super-resolution in achieved in STED or a related method called RESOLFT, Betzig says.
The method is not suited to live imaging, he says, because it takes too long to switch the photoactivatable molecules on and off. What’s more, the repeated light exposure damages cells and their fluorescent labels. “The problem with this approach is that you first turn on all the molecules, then you immediately turn off almost all the molecules. The molecules you’ve turned off don’t contribute anything to the image, but you’ve just fried them twice. You’re stressing the molecules, and it takes a lot of time, which you don’t have, because the cell is moving.”
The solution was simple, Betzig says: “Don’t turn on all of the molecules. There’s no need to do that.” Instead, the new method, called patterned photoactivation non-linear SIM, begins by switching on just a subset of fluorescent labels in a sample with a pattern of light. “The patterning of that gives you some high resolution information already,” he explains. A new pattern of light is used to deactivate molecules, and additional information is read out of their deactivation. The combined effect of those patterns leads to final images with 62-nanometer resolution¡ªbetter than standard SIM and a three-fold improvement over the limits imposed by the wavelength of light.
“We can do it and we can do it fast,” he says. That’s important, he says, because for imaging dynamic processes, an increase in spatial resolution is meaningless without a corresponding increase in speed. “If something in the cell is moving at a micron a second and I have one micron resolution, I can take that image in a second. But if I have 1/10-micron resolution, I have to take the data in a tenth of a second, or else it will smear out,” he explains.
Patterned photoactivation non-linear SIM captures the 25 images that go into a final reconstruction in about one-third of a second. Because it does so efficiently, using low intensity light and gleaning information from every photon emitted from a sample’s fluorescent labels, labels are preserved so that the microscope can image longer, letting scientists watch more action unfold.
The team used patterned photoactivation non-linear SIM to produce videos showing structural proteins break down and reassemble themselves as cells move and change shape, as well as the dynamics of tiny pits on cell surfaces called caveolae.
Betzig’s team also reports in the Science paper that they can boost the spatial resolution of SIM to 84 nanometers by imaging with a commercially available microscope objective with an ultra-high numerical aperture. The aperture restricts light exposure to a very small fraction of a sample, limiting damage to cells and fluorescent molecules, and the method can be used to image multiple colors at the same time, so scientists can simultaneously track several different proteins.
Using the high numerical aperture approach, Betzig’s team was able to watch the movements and interactions of several structural proteins during the formation of focal adhesions, physical links between the interior and exterior of a cell. They also followed the growth and internalization of clathrin-coated pits, structures that facilitate the intake of molecules from outside of the cell. Their quantitative analysis answered several questions about the pits’ distribution and the relationship between pits’ size and lifespan that could not be addressed with previous imaging methods.
Finally, by combining the high numerical-aperture approach with patterned photoactivatable non-linear SIM, Betzig and his colleagues could follow two proteins at a time with higher resolution than the high numerical aperture approach offered on its own.
Betzig’s team is continuing to develop their SIM technologies, and say further improvements are likely. They are also eager to work with biologists to continue to explore potential applications and refine their techniques’ usability.
For now, scientists who want to experiment with the new SIM methods can arrange to do so through Janelia’s Advanced Imaging Center, which provides access to cutting-edge microscopy technology at no cost. Eventually, Betzig says, it should be fairly straightforward to make the SIM technologies accessible and affordable to other labs. “Most of the magic is in the software, not the hardware,” he says.
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