Sub Glacial Lakes & Updates | SciByte 33

Sub Glacial Lakes & Updates | SciByte 33

We have a Rockin’ Roller coaster of a show as we take a look at sub-glacial lakes and updates on Alzheimer’s, balloons arsenic life the future of NASA’s space exploration, spacecraft updates, viewer feedback and take a peek back into history..

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Show Notes:

Sub Glacial Lakes

  • *Sub Glacial Lakes? *
  • The idea of lakes hidden under Antarctic ice was first put forward by Russian scientist Prince Pyotr Kropotkin
  • Russian geographer noted the likely location of the lake
  • It wasn’t until 1994 that Russian and British scientists got
    sonar and satellite imagining to reveal one of the world’s largest undisclosed fresh water reservoirs
  • These kind of lakes would be kept from freezing into a solid block by the mammoth crust of ice across it that acts like a blanket, keeping in heat generated by geothermal energy underneath.
  • * Meet Lake Vostok *
  • Lake Vostok is 160 miles [250 kilometers] long and 30 miles [50 km] across at its widest point, similar in area to Lake Ontario
  • Making Lake Vostok the largest of nearly 400 sub glacial lakes in Antarctica
  • Hidden under ice for millions of years beneath an almost impenetrable layer of ice if will provide a unique closed ecosystem captured in time below four kilometers of ice
  • According to Russian scientists the quantity of oxygen there exceeds that on other parts of our planet by 10 to 20 times
  • * The opposition *
  • There have been fears of any expedition reaching and possible contaminating the lakes
  • The Russian team has been using 60 metric tons (66 tons) of lubricants and antifreeze used in the drilling
  • There were many fears and concerns that those lubricating fluids could contaminate the pristine lake
  • The Russian team had waited for several years to receive international approval for it’s drilling technology before proceeding and was doing its best “to try really hard to do it right” and avoid contamination
  • * The Russian Journey *
  • Lake Vostok is about 800 mi [1,300 km] southeast of the South Pole in the central part of the continent.
  • At –126 F [–89C] and more than 11,000ft [3.300m] above sea level surface conditions mean that there is a limited window of opportunity to work each year
  • After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica the head of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute likened ii to the race to the moon
  • In February 2011 after drilling 3720 meters last February, time ran out for the team and the project was stymied just 29.5 meters from its destination as winter set in.
  • With the Antarctic summer season nearing it’s end this year, some reports had the team going silent for a week
  • Then the news started trickling in that they had achieved breakthrough
  • They knew they had breakthrough when about 50 cubit ft [1.5 cubic m] of kerosene and freon poured up to the surface tanks from the bore-shaft, proof that the lake water streamed up from underneath, froze and then blocked the hole, sealing off the chance that any toxic chemicals could contaminate.
  • Scientists will return during the next Antarctic summer season, in December, to remove the frozen sample for analysis
  • * Other Expeditions *
  • American and British teams are drilling to reach their own smaller and younger sub glacial Antarctic lakes
  • British scientists that hopes to retrieve samples next year from another sub glacial lake, Lake Ellsworth in West Antarctica
  • Americans scientists are drilling at Lake Whillans, west of the South Pole
  • Another U.S. team is seeking to reach the river-fed Whillans Ice Stream, also in West Antarctica
  • * Of Note *
  • Russian ice cores retrieved so far have suggested the presence of heat-loving microorganisms called thermophiles, suggesting hot geothermal vents like those in the ocean may exist at the bottom of the lake
  • If a life form could exist here, it could also exist in similar environments such as Jupiter’s satellite, Europa.
  • In the future, Russian researchers plan to explore the lake using an underwater robot equipped with video cameras that would collect water samples and sediments from the bottom of the lake, a project still awaiting the approval of the Antarctic Treaty organization.
  • Multimedia
  • IMAGE : National Science Foundation IMAGE : The Subglacial Lake Vostok System @ NASA.gov @http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/170956main_SubglacialLakesVostok_lg.jpg
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Ancient Antarctic Ice Sampled In Lake Vostok Drill @ UniverseToday.com
  • In scientific coup, Russians reach Antarctic lake @ PhysOrg.com
  • Russians Drill Into Subglacial Antarctic Lake Vostok @ ScienceMagazine.org

*— NEWS BYTE— *

Another exciting step against Alzheimer’s

  • * Last time on SciByte*
  • SciByte 24 | Habitable Planets & Chimps
    (Dec 07, 2011)
  • The low down
  • Studies have identifies a link between the primary genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and a potential therapy to address it.
  • Humans have three forms of ApoE: ApoE2, ApoE3, and ApoE4. Possession of the ApoE4 gene greatly increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It has been seen that the main cholesterol carrier in the brain, Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), facilitates the clearance of the amyloid beta proteins
  • New hope is now coming from a drug that has been used to treat T-cell lymphoma often after other treatments have failed for more then a decade
  • Significance
  • The study mentioned before was using a synthetic liver x-receptor to remove amyloid beta from the brain.
  • Bexarotene acts by stimulating retinoid X receptors (RXR), which control how much ApoE is produced and seems to be reprogramming the brain’s immune cells to “eat” or phagocytose the amyloid deposits.
  • Researchers were struck by the speed with which bexarotene improved memory deficits and behavior even as it also acted to reverse the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Just hours after treatment levels started falling, with 25% clearing after 24 hours, more than half within 72 hours and 75% after 14 days.
  • Even more impressive, the effect lasted as long as three days.
  • * Of Note*
  • The next step is to ascertain if it acts similarly in humans.
  • Since this drug has already been approved by the FDA and has a good safety and side-effect profile it likely to move into human trials much quicker than a new drug would.
  • Correct dosing presents another challenge as giving bexarotene over several doses appeared to be less effective than giving it once.
  • One reason may be that the drug degrades itself within the body.
  • Multimedia
  • IMAGE : A mouse brain with A-beta plaques (red) and after 3 days of treatment @ Sciencenews.org
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • FDA-approved drug rapidly clears amyloid from the brain, reverses Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice
  • Cancer drug may have Alzheimer’s benefits

Baloons iiin spaaaace

  • * Last time on SciByte*
  • SciByte 31 | Feedback & Space Lego’s
    (jAN 31, 2012)
  • The low down
  • The Canadian teens were inspired by a similar near-space photography experiment by a pair of MIT students, who captured impressive views of the stratosphere with a digital camera attached to a helium balloon that 16 miles [25 kilometers]
  • Significance
  • MIT has been sending out acceptance letters to students in tubes, and the school challenged the potential newcomers to “hack” them in creative ways.
  • One ecstatic studens who had worked on balloon experiments before and is a Ham Radio operator in her spare time, came up with the idea to turn her tube into a high-altitude balloon experiment.
  • * Of Note*
  • The canister was equipped with tracking devices and an onboard camera,.
  • It reached a maximum altitude of approximately 17.2 miles [27.7 kilometers]
  • She predicted the path very accurately using a software algorithm to predict the wind patterns based on current weather information from regional airports
  • It only 75 miles east of its launch site after a two-hour flight
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube VIDEO :MIT’16 EA Tube goes to Near Space!
  • Show Excerpt of YouTube VIDEO :
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Ecstatic Student Launches MIT Acceptance Letter Near Edge of Space

Arsenic life forms?

  • * Last time on J@N*
  • J@N | World Changing Fail
  • The low down+ They found microbes in a lake HERE ON EARTH that have arsenic in their protein structure in the place of phosphorous.
  • This is akin to the science-fiction theory that lifeforms could thrive replacing carbon with silicon
  • Scientists attempting to duplicate the finding have come up empty-handed
  • Significance
  • One problem was that the original team didn’t do certain experiments, such as attaching a radioactive tag to the arsenate and locating exactly where it turned up in GFAJ–1’s DNA.
  • The microbe in question clearly thrives in the presence of the usually toxic substance, there is no evidence that the bacterium requires arsenic to live or incorporates the element in its DNA
  • The original team did note that there sample could have been contaminated by a little phosphate.
  • When the new team did so, GFAJ–1 grew in densities similar to those reported before
  • * Of Note*
  • The researcher who lead the original team has reported much of her work on her research blog as it was being conducted, said the samples did contain trace amounts of arsenate.
  • Any microbe that can tolerate a bit of arsenic here or there without any serious effects would incorpersate some arsenate
  • The original researcher won’t comment further until the details of the new paper are published in a peer reviewed paper.
  • She also said that the original paper never actually claimed that arsenate was being incorporated in GFAJ–1’s DNA, and that other had ‘jumped to that conclusion’
  • This is again an issue that some of the scientific community the point discussion is essentially over, while others sill still wait for further results to clarify the issue.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Arsenic-based life finding fails follow-up @ sciencenews.org
  • Is This New Study the Nail in the Coffin of “Arsenic Life”? @ popsci.com

The future of space

SPACECRAFT UPDATE – Curiosity Rover

*— VIEWER FEEDBACK — *

6 Myths Everyone Believes about Space (Thanks to Movies) | Cracked.com

  • Angela, from the FauxShow

  • Asteroid Belts Are Deadly

  • In the media : Many times in movies or television shows the characters are dodging and weaving through colliding rocks of death.

  • In reality : Asteroids are actually not at all that packed together. Scientists at NASA have said that the odds of one of their probes traveling through the asteroid belt colliding with as asteroid were less than one in a billion. Some calculations provide an average of 400,000 square miles for each asteroid.

  • Black Holes Are Cosmic Vacuum Cleaners

  • In the media : They eat planets, and in general are trying to eat everything in the universe.

  • In reality : If we replaces our sun with a black hole of the same mass? … It would get colder. Something the mass of the sun, even a black hole, can not exert any more gravitational force.

  • The Sun Is Yellow

  • In the media : Get your crayons, draw the sun … hope you grabbed yellow …

  • In reality : The sun, at a warm 6,000K, has to be white. It’s the Earths atmosphere bends the light that keeps yellow crayons in business. The pictures we get from space are color enhanced based often based on composition, approximations or color filters.

  • Meteorites Are Hot

  • In the media : Oh no! A huge ball of flaming rock with a huge trail of smoke is headed for … fill in city/building/location here

  • In reality : In space they are about 3K, and have been so for billions and billions of years. They spend a few minutes in our atmosphere, and generally land lukewarm. What about the bright light you see when they are coming down? As the meteor comes down it is pushing the air in front of it away, the compression heats the air to the point where the air catches on fire.

  • People Explode in the Vacuum of Space

  • In the media : In space no can hear you scream … or explode … or at least have your eyes try to pop out.

  • In reality : Our skin actually does a pretty good job of protecting us. If you were in space your skin would keep you from exploding, and your blood would continue too pump until space absorbed enough of your body heat. Breathing is the real issue, and lung trauma. You will still die in space, but nothing as exciting as the movies would like you to believe

  • There Is a Permanent Dark Side of the Moon

  • In the media : In the dark wastelands of the dark side of the moon, which we never see ancient alien technology can remain frozen forever …

  • In reality : The moon may be in a tidally locked orbit so that we only see one side. There is a far side of the moon, that we never wee, it does the light of day .. or space. Simply speaking when there is a solar ecplise the moon blocks the sun from view, and is only one side of the moon ever faces us, the far side of the moon is completely bathed in the light of the sun.

  • Further Reading / In the News

  • 6 Myths Everyone Believes about Space (Thanks to Movies) | Cracked.com

  • New Horizons Crosses The Asteroid Belt @ SpaceDaily.com

  • List of named asteroid’s

SCIENCE CALENDER

Looking back

  • Feb 16, 1923 : 89 years ago : Tutankhamen says Hello World : Archaeologist Howard Carter opened the sealed doorway to the sepulchral chamber of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Thebes, Egypt. A group of invited visitors and officials was present, including Lord Carnarvon, the aristocratic Englishman who had funded the excavation. On 18 Feb 1923, the Queen of the Belgians and numerous visitors attended an official opening. The following day, the press was admitted. The pharoah reigned around 1350 B.C. The famous “Yes, wonderful things” quote came when they breached the tomb and peered in the door the November before
  • Feb 21, 1953 : 59 years ago : Deoxyribose Nulclei what? : Francis Crick and James Watson reached their conclusion about the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. They made their first announcement on Feb 28, and their paper, A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, was published in the 25 Apr 1953 issue of journal Nature.
  • Feb 18, 1977: 35 years ago : The Enterprise takes a test drive : The first space shuttle orbiter prototype, the Enterprise, was flight tested for two hours in “inert captive mode,” attached to the top of a 747 jumbo jet. The flight was the first of five captive flights in the nine-month-long Approach and Landing Test testing program (Feb-Nov 1977) at the Dryden Flight Research Facility. The orbiter was originally to be known as Constitution (to honour the U.S. Constitution’s Bicentennial). However, a write-in campaign by fans of the TV show Star Trek convinced the White House to name the vehicle Enterprise. PIC : Inert Flying Mode
    Historical topics from TodayInSci.com

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