Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Just the Facts?: SETI Resumes Search -- Handheld Medical Diagnosis -- Death By Piranha


SETI back on track

After being shut down for over six months due to financial problems, The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) is once again searching other planetary systems for radio signals, looking for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Some of the first targets in SETI’s renewed search will be a selection of recently discovered exoplanet candidates by NASA’s Kepler mission.

“This is a superb opportunity for SETI observations,” said Dr. Jill Tarter, the Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute. “For the first time, we can point our telescopes at stars, and know that those stars actually host planetary systems – including at least one that begins to approximate an Earth analog in the habitable zone around its host star. That’s the type of world that might be home to a civilization capable of building radio transmitters.”

What other studies will SETI be performing with the array, and how were they able to restart the Allen Telescope Array?

This past April, SETI was forced to place the ATA into hibernation mode, due to budget cuts of SETI’s former partner, U.C Berkeley. Since Berkeley operated Hat Creek Observatory where the ATA is located, their withdrawal from the program left SETI without a way to operate the ATA.

SETI has since acquired new funding to operate the ATA and can now resume observations where they left off – examining planetary candidates detected by the Kepler mission. The planetary candidates SETI will examine first will be those that are thought to be in their star’s habitable zone (the range of orbital distance from a planet’s host star which may allow for surface water). Many astrobiologists theorize that liquid water is essential for life to exist on a planet.

“In SETI, as with all research, preconceived notions such as habitable zones could be barriers to discovery.” Tarter added. “So, with sufficient future funding from our donors, it’s our intention to examine all of the planetary systems found by Kepler.”

SETI will spend the next two years observing the planetary systems detected by Kepler in the naturally-quiet 1 to 10 GHz terrestrial microwave window. Part of what makes this comprehensive study possible is that the ATA can provide ready access to tens of millions of channels at any one time.

Resuming ATA operations was made possible due to tremendous public support via SETI’s www.SETIStars.org web site. In addition to the funds raised by the public, the United States Air Force has also provided funding to SETI in order to assess the ATA’s capabilities for space situational awareness.

Tarter notes, “Kepler’s success has created an amazing opportunity to focus SETI research. While discovery of new exoplanets via Kepler is backed with government monies, the search for evidence that some of these worlds might be home to intelligence falls to SETI alone. And our SETI exploration depends entirely on private donations, for which we are deeply grateful to our donors.”

“The year-in and year-out fundraising challenge we tackle in order to conduct SETI research is an absolute human and organizational struggle,” said Tom Pierson, CEO of the SETI Institute, “yet it is well worth the hard work to help Jill’s team address what is one of humanity’s most profound research questions.” - universetoday


Contact [Blu-ray] - Jodie Foster


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....more from Matt Moneymaker

BTW, I would bet a whole lot of money that Justin Smeja is lying and did not shoot a bigfoot at all. In my opinion his story is totally ludicrous, if you know the details he initially described.

He claimed he found the pieces of hide after returning to the area of the “shooting” after a snow storm. He says he didn’t know if the hide was related to what he claimed he shot. To me that sounds like he’s structuring the story so he can remain blameless when the hide is shown to be from a known animal. On top of that, he mentioned that he’s got a freezer full of dead coyote parts (he hunts those too). I do suspect he cut a piece of hide from one of those dead coyotes and provided that to the people who bought into his shooting story. Here’s the red flag for that: Some folks I know spent a lot of time questioning the dude in person … One of them says that when he heard Ketchum “confirmed” that his samples came from a sasquatch, he said he thought SHE was a hustler … which seemed strange to the person he said that to. It doesn’t puzzle me at all. He would have good reason to say that if he knew the hide came from a coyote. And that’s exactly what it looked like. I saw a photo of the hide piece. I was a roughly rectangular piece of fur and skin which looked like it was cut from a larger hide. The piece in question looked like it came from the belly of a coyote. Supposedly Meldrum also said it looked like it could have come from a coyote.

- Matt Moneymaker

Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science - Jeff Meldrum

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...just spit on your iPhone

Handheld gadgets could one day diagnose infections at the push of a button by using the supersensitive touchscreens in today's smartphones.

Many believe that in the future collecting samples of saliva, urine or blood could be performed using a cheap, USB-stick-sized throwaway device called a lab-on-a-chip. The user would inject a droplet of the fluid in the chip, and micropumps inside it would send the fluid to internal vessels containing reagents that extract target disease biomarker molecules. The whole device would then be sent to a lab for analysis.

But Hyun Gyu Park and Byoung Yeon Won at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology in Daejeon think touchscreens could improve the process by letting your phone replace the lab work. Park suggests the lab-on-a-chip could present a tiny droplet of the sample to be pressed against a phone's touchscreen for analysis, where an app would work out whether you have food poisoning, strep throat or flu, for example.

The idea depends on a method the pair have devised to harness the way a touchscreen senses a fingertip's ability to store electric charge - known as its capacitance. The capacitive sensitivity of touchscreens is far higher than what is needed to sense our fingers as we play games or tap out tweets. "Since these touchscreens can detect very small capacitance changes we thought they could serve as highly sensitive detection platforms for disease biomarkers," says Park.

So the pair began proof-of-concept tests to see if the touchscreens in our pockets could play a role in diagnosing our ailments. First they took three solutions containing differing concentrations of DNA from the bacteria that causes chlamydia and applied droplets from each to an iPhone-sized multitouch display. They found that the output from the screen's array of crisscrossed touch-sensing electrodes could distinguish between the capacitances caused by each concentration using droplets of only 10 microlitres (Angewandte Chemie International Edition, DOI: 10.1002/anie201105986).

The technology is not yet able to identify individual pathogens but Park sees the display's ability to differentiate between concentrations as a first step towards this.

However, before the idea can be rolled out the built-in software on touchscreens that eliminates false-touch signals caused by moisture or sweat would need modifying. Park also plans to develop a film that can be stuck on a touchscreen to which the biomarkers will attach. "Nobody wants direct application of bio-samples onto their phone," he says.

"This is potentially possible," says Harpal Minhas, editor of the journal Lab On A Chip. "But any changes to current production-line touchscreens would need to demonstrate huge financial benefits before they are implemented." And DNA sequencing, rather than concentration measurement, is more likely to be necessary for disease diagnosis, he adds. - newscientist

The Complete Manual of Things That Might Kill You: A Guide to Self-Diagnosis for Hypochondriacs

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Teenager 'dies jumping into piranha-infested river'

The 18-year-old man was drunk when he jumped out of a canoe in the Bolivian town of Rosario del Yata, 400 miles (640 kilometres) north of the capital of La Paz, police official Daniel Cayaya said.

The man bled to death after the attack, which occurred last Thursday, Mr Cayaya said. First word of the incident emerged on Tuesday, when it was reported by the local Erbol radio station.

Police suspect that the man had committed suicide because he was a fisherman in the region who knew the Yata river well.

Despite their fearsome reputation, fatal attacks by piranhas on humans are rare.

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'CHICAGO PHANTOM' - FLYING HUMANOID SIGHTINGS
Have you had a sighting of a flying humanoid or huge bat-like creature in the Chicago, Illinois metro area or nearby? The entity has also been referred to as the 'Chicago Phantom', 'Chicago Mothman', 'Chicago Owlman' & 'Chicago Man-Bat.' Please feel free to contact me at lonstrickler@phantomsandmonsters.com - your anonymity is guaranteed. Our investigative group is conducting a serious examination of his phenomenon. We are merely seeking the truth and wish to determine what eyewitnesses have been encountering. Your cooperation is truly appreciated. You can call me directly at 410-241-5974 as well. Thanks...Lon Strickler #ChicagoPhantom

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