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« Science: February 2007 | Main | Science: April 2007 »

Science

Er....China's Sinking

Predictions have been made that Shanghai and other coastal cities will be underwater by 2050 due to rising global temps.

While admitting that global warming is a reality, some Chinese experts have, nevertheless, dismissed the prediction of a flooded Shanghai by folks like Brown as hypothetical.

According to Chen Manchun, a research fellow with the Tianjin-based National Marine Data and Information Service, coastal cities would take measures to guard against this, such as restricting construction projects along the coast and building higher and stronger sea walls to fend off the advancing tides.

But Chen also admitted that based on his team's research, by 2050, the sea level at the Yangtze River Delta, where Shanghai is located, will have risen 20 to 60 centimeters, and that the Bohai Sea region, where Tianjin is situated, will have risen 30 to 60 centimeters.

I still think New Zealand will be the first to go. Better book your trips for it now while it's still floating.


By min | March 30, 2007, 3:15 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Unstable Molecules or Mythril?

Some electrical engineers in Illinois created 'smart' fabric. It's essentially like chainmail, except the chains and links are super super tiny. About 500 micrometers. So the material is very flexible.

Because the rings and links can slide and rotate against each other, the fabric possesses unique mechanical and electrical properties. For example, the electrical resistance changes when the fabric is stretched. These properties could prove useful for the development of smart fabric and wearable electronic devices for pervasive computing.

"The first layer of fabric could consist of silicon islands with embedded circuits or sensors," said Liu, who also is affiliated with the university's Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

"The resulting fabric could generate electricity, detect movement or damage, or serve some other active role," Liu said.
[emphasis mine]

Big deal. I'm constantly generating electricity.


By min | March 30, 2007, 12:00 PM | Comics & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Go, Sperm, Go!

They always told us only 1 sperm could fertilize 1 egg. Well, not this guy's sperm. Two sperm+1egg=semi-identical twins.

The journal Nature says the twins are identical on their mother's side, but share only half their genes on their father's side.

They are the result of two sperm cells fertilising a single egg, which then divided to form two embryos - and each sperm contributed genes to each child.

Each stage is unlikely, and scientists believe the twins are probably unique.

...

These twins, who were conceived normally, only came to the attention of scientists because one was born with sexually ambiguous genitalia.

The child was discovered to be a hermaphrodite, and has both ovarian and testicular tissue, while the other child is anatomically male.

But genetic tests show both are "chimeras", and have some male cells - which have an X and Y chromosome, and female cells - which have two X chromosomes.

The most likely explanation for how they were formed is that two sperm cells - one with an X chromosome and one with a Y chromosome - fused with a single egg.

They're so lucky the egg formed 2 embryos instead of staying a single embryo which would have resulted in a child with extra chromosomes. That's usually disastrous. I suppose if that did happen, it would mostly likely have self-aborted.


By min | March 27, 2007, 10:24 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link



Music Training Makes You A Better Listener

Link

The study, which will appear in the April issue of Nature Neuroscience, is the first to provide concrete evidence that playing a musical instrument significantly enhances the brainstem's sensitivity to speech sounds. This finding has broad implications because it applies to sound encoding skills involved not only in music but also in language.

The findings indicate that experience with music at a young age in effect can "fine-tune" the brain's auditory system. "Increasing music experience appears to benefit all children -- whether musically exceptional or not -- in a wide range of learning activities," says Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and senior author of the study.

...

The research by co-authors Wong, Kraus, Erika Skoe, Nicole Russo and Tasha Dees represents a new way of defining the relationship between the brainstem -- a lower order brain structure thought to be unchangeable and uninvolved in complex processing -- and the neocortex, a higher order brain structure associated with music, language and other complex processing.
...

The findings also are consistent with studies by Kraus and her research team that have revealed anomalies in brainstem sound encoding in some children with learning disabilities which can be improved by auditory training.

Or you could all just learn some Mandarin. Cantonese might be better. It's got twice as many tonal sounds. Too bad Mandarin's the official language.


By min | March 13, 2007, 2:32 PM | Music & Science | Comments (4)| Link



I'm an X-Man, with the power of Godlessness!

PZ Myers


By fnord12 | March 8, 2007, 6:37 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0)| Link



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