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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editor annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.

Between now and the general election, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections for federal or state office this year plus stories from all research universities in major cities having municipal elections.  That written, tonight's edition features the science, space, health, environment, and energy stories from universities in the states of Alabama, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia (list from The Green Papers), and the cities of Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, and New York.

This week's featured stories come from Boston University and Wayne State University.

POV: Opposition to Obamacare Is Maddening
Ignore the critics: here’s what the law really does
By Stephen Davidson

Predictably, this week’s rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) received attention high in volume and intensity. While the administration signs up uninsured Americans flooding the health insurance exchanges, the government is shuttered thanks to a deadlock over opponents’ efforts to repeal the act, or failing that, to starve the implementation process for funds.

As one who has written about health policy for many years, I find the opposition to be nothing less than maddening. Some, like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), are just nasty and cynical. As the New York Times’ Gail Collins points out, he wants to kill the act because it is bound to be popular, and therefore, hard to take away from people later on. Others continue to spew falsehoods about the law. Either they have not taken the time to inform themselves of the facts or they just don’t care what the facts are. It is maddening because the issues are serious, they affect us all, and those guys treat it like a game in which the only prize is a government job for themselves in the national legislature, where, historically at least, the object was to pass legislation.

While the law is hard to master because it is long and has many parts, most of the ideas are pretty simple and have been around for a long time. What follows is an attempt to set the record straight on the assumption that not everyone is taken in by the cacophony from the far-right chorus.

Wayne State University experts available to comment about federal government shutdown
October 1, 2013

The nation is in the midst of a partial government shutdown as a dispute over the Affordable Care Act continues on Capitol Hill. Congress and the Senate appear to be far apart in passing a spending bill that would end the shutdown.

Experts say most Americans will not feel the effects of a short-term shutdown, as most essential government operations will continue to function. However, a longer-term shutdown may negatively affect the economy and government services.

More stories after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories

Watch this space!

Green diary rescue: acidic oceans, bio-coal, agro-ecology, Rep. Shimkus on carbon regulations
by Meteor Blades

Brown Vetoes Paralysis Research Bill
by diverdonreed

Shutdown kills scientific research
by AbbeFaria

Regarding the Quantum Physics Breakthrough Geometry - The Flower of Life
by Grannyflats

This week in science: Promises, promises
by DarkSyde

The ENTIRE US Antarctic research program could be another casualty of the shutdown
by Hopeful Skeptic

What "essential" means to NASA
by jamess

Over the next 3 days, the US will see a hurricane, a tornado outbreak, and a blizzard.
by weatherdude


Lund University (Sweden): Ancient massacre being discovered by archaeologists, Lund University, Sweden

An ancient fort on the island of Öland, Sweden, was once the scene of a terrible massacre. Now, 1500 years later, excavations done by archaeologists from Lund University reveal what happened.
Also see the story under Science Crime Scenes.

Hat/tip to annetteboardman for this video.

University of Virginia: Emily Drake discusses New Postpartum Testing

Nursing professor Emily Drake's character lends a touch of humor to a serious condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of women after childbirth.

Virginia Tech: Drones used to explore atmosphere

David G. Schmale III, an associate professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, conducts research using drones — also called unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs — to explore microbial life in the atmosphere.

Schmale and colleagues have used research drones to track the movement of dangerous microorganisms that surf atmospheric waves. These atmospheric waves collect, mix, and shuffle microorganisms across cities, states, and even countries.

This research has deepened our understanding of the flow of life in the atmosphere, and has contributed unique tools for scientific exploration in the burgeoning field of aeroecology.

Virginia Tech: Biomass Bounty

When processed correctly, wood chips, corn stocks, and manure can be used as fuel to create electricity. The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials is researching how best to convert waste from forestry and agriculture into power.

Virginia Tech: Google Car visits VTTI

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has partnered with Google and General Motors to perform research on self-driving vehicles. In early September, a Google Car equipped with this technology visited the VTTI Smart Road. Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Rep. Morgan Griffith were on hand for the event.

Virginia Tech: Robot seeks a brain

Meet Team ViGIR -- short for Virginia-Germany Interdisciplinary Robotics -- one of two Virginia Tech College of Engineering-based teams competing in the multi-year Robotics Challenge, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Defense dedicated to high-tech research.

ViGIR is a collaboration between College of Engineering spin-off company TORC Robotics -- based at Virginia Tech's Corporate Research Center -- the Department of Computer Science's Center for Human-Computer Interaction, and German-based Technische Universitat Darmstadt, a longtime student-exchange partner with the College of Engineering.

The team is building new software and control tools for Atlas, a high-tech robot built by Boston Dynamics, as part of the challenge with the end-goal of creating rescue robots that can easily maneuver disaster scenes and save lives. This robot has been named Florian after the patron saint of firefighters (among other professions).

Virginia Tech: Edible plants

Virginia Tech's campus is lush and verdant, but did you know that some of those campus plants have edible fruits and nuts? Lele Kimball, a graduate student in the Urban Forestry program, created a map for those who are interested in tasting truly local produce. Be sure to take a guidebook if you decide to try some of these natural delicacies.

Climate/Environment (Special Video Section)

NASA Explorer: IPCC Projections of Temperature and Precipitation in the 21st Century

New data visualizations from the NASA Center for Climate Simulation and NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio show how climate models -- those used in the new report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- estimate how temperature and precipitation patterns could change throughout the 21st century.
For the IPCC's Physical Science Basis and Summary for Policymakers reports, scientists referenced an international climate modeling effort to study how the Earth might respond to four different scenarios of how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would be emitted into the atmosphere throughout the 21st century.

The Summary for Policymakers, the first official piece of the group's Fifth Assessment Report, was released Fri., Sept. 27.

That modeling effort, called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), includes dozens of climate models from institutions around the world, including from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

To produce visualizations that show temperature and precipitation changes similar to those included in the IPCC report, the NASA Center for Climate Simulation calculated mean model results for each of the four emissions scenarios. The final products are visual representations how much temperature and precipitation patterns would change through 2100 compared to the historical average from the end of the 20th century. The changes shown compare the model projections to the average temperature and precipitation benchmarks observed from 1971-2000. This baseline is different from the IPCC report, which uses a 1986-2005 baseline. Because the reference period from 1986-2005 was slightly warmer than 1971-2000, the visualizations are slightly different than those in the report, even though the same model data is used.

NASA Explorer: Ask a Climate Scientist: Food Production.

Will climate change drastically reduce our food production, or will it change what we produce?

This question from Twitter was posed to Goddard Space Flight Center's Molly Brown as part of NASA's Ask A Climate Scientist campaign, #askclimate

NASA Explorer: Ask a Climate Scientist: CO2 and Temperature.

Is there any merit to the studies that show that historical CO2 levels lag behind temperature, and not lead them?

Yes, there's merit to those studies, says Peter Hildebrand, Director of the Earth Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, responding to a question from Twitter...

In the pre-industrial age, the CO2 response to temperature was that the temperature would go up and CO2 would go up. Or if the temperature went down, CO2 would go down. Because when the temperature rose, the whole biosphere revved up and emitted CO2. So we understand that process.

In the post-industrial age, the opposite is true. Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is leading to increased temperature. So two different things happened, one pre-industrial, where temperature was driving the CO2, and post-industrial, where CO2 was driving temperature. Which means a completely different physical-biological process is going on.

Astronomy/Space (Special Video Section)

NASA Television: Three New ISS Residents on This Week @NASA

The International Space Station has three new residents. Expedition 37/38 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov, Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy and NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins arrived six hours after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They'll spend a portion of their five-and-a-half months in space with station Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg of NASA and Luca Parmitano who've been on the station since late May. Also, Heartbeat Finder, Orion Simulations, SLS Model Tested, Lander Prototype, Seeing Shockwaves, a very special NASA Anniversary and more!

Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: Amateur Astonomers See Comet ISON Approaching the Sun

Comet ISON is still more than two months away from its spectacular close encounter with the sun. Already, the brightening comet has become a good target for backyard telescopes in the pre-dawn sky.

JPL/NASA: What's Up for October 2013

Juno flies by Earth Oct 9, Observe The Moon Night Oct 12, and glimpse the Moons far side.
And that's it from NASA on YouTube until the end of the U.S. government shutdown.


Auburn University: Auburn University Museum of Natural History to open doors to public
October 3, 2013

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – For the first time, the Auburn University Museum of Natural History is opening its doors to the public. On homecoming Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to noon, the museum will host an open house, offering the community a unique opportunity to meet the curators and explore the more than 1 million specimens found in the museum’s eight collections. Giveaways and live-animal demonstrations will be included in the event, which will take place on campus at the new Biodiversity Learning Center, located between Rouse Life Sciences Building and M. White Smith Hall.

The Biodiversity Learning Center is the new home for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, which features collections of specimens representing the rich history of Alabama, the Southeast and beyond. Sponsored by the College of Sciences and Mathematics, the museum is used primarily by Auburn University professors and students and well as researchers from around the world conducting biodiversity research. Periodically, museum curators will extend the collections beyond campus and provide specimens to outside researchers and K-12 outreach programs. However, the museum is not ordinarily open to the public.

“The new Biodiversity Learning Center is a state-of-the-art collections facility that allows, for the first time, all of Auburn’s natural history collections to be housed under a single roof. The new building provides much needed space for the growth of collections and will greatly enhance our ability to share the collections with the public and further serve the needs of Auburn’s land-grant mission of education and outreach,” said Jason Bond, director of the Museum of Natural History. “We are incredibly proud of our museum collections and the Biodiversity Learning Center, and we hope everyone will be able to take advantage of this great opportunity to see more of what Auburn University has to offer.”


New York University: Researchers identify traffic cop for meiosis--with implications for fertility and birth defects
October 1, 2013

Researchers at New York University and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have identified the mechanism that plays “traffic cop” in meiosis—the process of cell division required in reproduction. Their findings, which appear in the journal eLife, shed new light on fertility and may lead to greater understanding of the factors that lead to birth defects.

“We have isolated a checkpoint that is necessary for a genome’s viability and for normal development,” said Andreas Hochwagen, an assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Biology, who co-authored the paper with Hannah Blitzblau, a researcher at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. “Without this restraining mechanism, chromosomes can end up irreversibly broken during meiosis.

Rutgers University: Rutgers Scientists Discover Molecules that Show Promise for New Anti-Flu Medicines
Chemicals block ability of flu virus to replicate in cells; goal is to develop medicines that fight much-feared pandemic influenza outbreaks
By Carl Blesch
Friday, October 4, 2013

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – A new way to attack flu viruses is taking shape in laboratories at Rutgers University, where scientists have identified chemical agents that block the virus’s ability to replicate itself in cell culture.

These novel compounds show promise for a new class of antiviral medicines to fight much-feared pandemic influenzas such as the looming “bird flu” threats caused by the H5N1 influenza A virus and the new H7N9 virus responsible for a 2013 outbreak in China.

Timely production of a vaccine is difficult when a pandemic flu strikes.  A viable alternative is to treat with drugs.

Rutgers University: Doctoral Research on Fruit Flies Seeks Answers to Cell Signaling Problems
Friday, October 4, 2013

CAMDEN — In a research lab on the Rutgers–Camden campus, Matt Niepielko reaches for a vial containing about 50 fruit flies and begins to observe them. The tiny species may seem insignificant — or annoying, if they’re floating around your kitchen — but in this room, each fly plays an important role in our understanding of genetics.

Niepielko, a doctoral student in computational and integrative biology at Rutgers–Camden, is using the flies to answer questions about a cell signaling pathway that can cause cancer when something goes wrong.
The EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) is a highly conserved regulator of tissue development across all animals, including humans. In other words, “it catches chemical signals from other cells,” Niepielko says.

“The EGFR is like a baseball glove that will catch the signal, and the signal directs the cell to divide,” he says. “If a cell gets the wrong information, it could become overactive or underactive.”

Boston University: MED Prof Earns Drucker Award
Brian Jack redesigned hospital discharge procedures
By Leslie Friday

The problem first came to Brian Jack’s attention 10 years ago. The School of Medicine professor and chair of family medicine noticed that patients at Boston Medical Center (BMC), like patients at most hospitals, were leaving without a good understanding of how to care for themselves in the short term. Jack started to track the amount of time that nurses and doctors spent with patients before sending them home. The average was five minutes.

“Patients in the hospital are not at the top of their cognitive game,” says Jack, explaining that sick, feverish, or sleep-deprived people are unlikely to comprehend first-time instructions about prescriptions or at-home care procedures.

Jack and his team found that nearly a third of patients experienced a medical setback after going home, and that one in five returned to the hospital within 30 days. That’s when the team started brainstorming solutions and identified 11 areas that must be covered during each discharge—steps like making appointments for follow-up care, identifying and creating a plan for prescriptions, and educating patients about their diagnoses. That list formed the foundation of Project RED (Reengineered Discharge), a practice that has been shown to lower the rate of returns to the hospital in the month after discharge by 30 percent.

University of Cincinnati: Biomarker, Potential Targeted Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer Discovered
October 4, 2013

CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati researchers have discovered a biomarker, known as phosphatidylserine (PS), for pancreatic cancer that could be effectively targeted, creating a potential therapy for a condition that has a small survival rate.

These findings, being published in the Oct. 4, 2013, online edition of PLOS ONE, also show that the use of a biotherapy consisting of a lysosomal protein, known as saposin C (SapC), and a phospholipid, known as dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS), can be combined into tiny cavities, or nanovesicles, to target and kill pancreatic cancer cells.

Lysosomes are membrane-enclosed organelles that contain enzymes capable of breaking down all types of biological components; phospholipids are a major components of all cell membranes and form lipid bilayers—or cell membranes.

University of Massachusetts: UMass Amherst Polymer Scientists are Pioneering Wearable Biosensors for Personalized Health Care
October 3, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. – Chances are good that when medical device manufacturers offer a wearable biosensing patch that will allow a nurse to monitor a patient’s blood sugar or insulin level remotely, for example, it was designed and the prototype built by polymer scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by Jim Watkins.

Watkins, who directs the National Science Foundation’s Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing (CHM) at UMass Amherst, says its research has helped to establish that such devices are feasible, and projects beginning this month at the new Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM) should soon lead to prototypes being developed and tested for commercialization.
“The first generation of these devices is coming out now, but they’re not there yet in terms of size, wearability, efficiency of data transmission and other important factors,” Watkins notes. “They need to be small, a bandage-sized patch rather than a helmet, in order to be useful for a physician monitoring a patient’s blood glucose or oxygen levels remotely. It all comes down to making a very small, light, flexible smart device that is relatively inexpensive to manufacture. We are getting close to that.”

University of Alabama, Birmingham: Study says hormone therapy for menopausal women should be restricted by dose, time
By Tyler Greer
Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Hormone therapy should only be used for a short period of time near the time of menopause for women experiencing hot flashes and not as therapy for chronic disease prevention, according to findings released today by the Women’s Health Initiative in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

hese findings are the latest results to emerge from the WHI’s 15-year, multi-million dollar endeavor that is one of the largest prevention studies of its kind in the United States, said Cora E. Lewis, M.D., professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Preventive Medicine, principal investigator for the WHI at UAB and co-author of the research paper.

“Menopausal hormone therapy continues in clinical use, but questions remain regarding its risks and benefits for chronic disease prevention,” Lewis said. “Our data, which is a comprehensive, integrated overview of findings from the two WHI hormone therapy trials with extended post-intervention follow-up, continues to suggest that long-term hormone therapy is not the appropriate treatment. Small doses, used for a finite window, should be the appropriate practice for treatment of menopausal symptoms.”


Virginia Tech: Covert operations: Your brain digitally remastered for clarity of thought

ROANOKE, Va., Sept. 30, 2013 – The sweep of a needle across the grooves of a worn vinyl record carries distinct sounds: hisses, scratches, even the echo of skips. For many years, though, those yearning to hear Frank Sinatra sing “Fly Me to the Moon” have been able to listen to his light baritone with technical clarity, courtesy of the increased signal-to-noise ratio of digital remasterings.

Now, with advances in neurofeedback techniques, the signal-to-noise ratio of the brain activity underlying our thoughts can be remastered as well, according to the recent discovery of a research team led by Stephen LaConte, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

LaConte and his colleagues specialize in real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging, a relatively new technology that can convert thought into action by transferring noninvasive measurements of human brain activity into control signals that drive physical devices and computer displays in real time. Crucially, for the ultimate goal of treating disorders of the brain, this rudimentary form of mind reading enables neurofeedback.


Forbes: Robotic Snakes Slither Their Way Into Ancient Archaeology

To paraphrase REM, the ancient Egyptians were all too familiar with the “horrible asp.”

But not even the most clairvoyant pharaohs could have imagined their kingdoms invaded by robotic snakes.

LiveScience: Incredible Technology: How Today's Archaeologists Kick Indiana Jones' Butt
Tanya Lewis, LiveScience Staff Writer  

The notion of an archaeologist may bring to mind a khakis-wearing Indiana Jones on hands and knees excavating artifacts with a tiny brush. But nowadays, archaeologists have a lot more sophisticated tools at their fingertips and no less adventure.

National Geographic News: Hard Times Followed Booms for Europe's Ancient Farmers
Radiocarbon dating points to centuries-long population cycles.
Dan Vergano

Feast or famine was the rule for Europe's first farmers, archaeologists report. A population bust followed boom times in early agriculture from France to Ireland, a catalog of radiocarbon dates reveals.

Farming first moved into Europe from Greece around 8,500 years ago, spreading to Ireland and northern Europe over the next several thousand years. The switch from hunting and gathering to farming was a giant step forward for humanity, but the results from early Europe point to tough times for early farmers.

The Daily Mail (UK): Archaeologists discover 5,000-year-old leopard trap in Israel desert, identical to ones used today

  • The trap was found in the Negev region of southern Israel
  • It lured leopards inside with a chunk of meat before slamming shut
  • Researchers originally thought it was only 1,600 years old
  • But radiation tests showed it had been there for five millennia
  • This means ancient farmers in the area were more sophisticated than previously thought
By Kieran Corcoran
It may look like an unremarkable pile of rocks in the middle of an inhospitable Israeli desert.

But archaeologists have discovered that this primitive structure is in fact a 5,000-year-old trap used to capture leopards.

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Ancient city of Iasos rises out of the ashes
MUGLA - Dogan News Agency

Mugla’s ancient city of Iasos is effectively rising from the ashes of the Thera volcano thanks to new discoveries. Italian archaeologists, who have been working in the area for half a century, have found crucial data about the region’s history

Archaeologists working on Iasos on Turkey’s Aegean coast have recently discovered that the ancient city was buried under a mountain of ash caused by the explosion of Mt. Thera on Santorini 3,600 years ago.

Excavation works have also revealed a sewage system that was in place in the 4,000-year-old city and tunnels to the city’s theater.

Al-Ahram (Egypt): Life-size statue of king Ramses II found in Sharkiya
Newly unearthed statue of king Ramsess II in Tel-Basta suggests that Nile Delta town was home to great nineteenth dynasty temple
Nevine El-Aref
Thursday 3 Oct 2013

A German-Egyptian excavation mission in the Nile Delta town of Tel-Basta unearthed today a life-size statue of the nineteenth dynasty king Ramses II carved in red granite.

The statue, at 195cm high and 160cm wide, was found accidently during a routine excavation carried out by the joint mission.  It was discovered in the so-called Great Temple area's eastern side, inside the temple of cat goddess Bastet in Sharkiya's Tel-Basta.

LiveScience: Ancient Kingdom Discovered Beneath Mound in Iraq
By Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor

In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq archaeologists have discovered an ancient city called Idu, hidden beneath a mound.

Cuneiform inscriptions and works of art reveal the palaces that flourished in the city throughout its history thousands of years ago.

Discovery News: Engraved Penises Reveal Birth Date of Italian City
by Rossella Lorenzi
Oct 3, 2013 05:30 PM ET

Archaeologists have uncovered the legendary grotto in which Rome's founders were said to have been nursed by a "she-wolf."

Named Augusta Praetoria Salassorum by the Romans -- who captured it from the local Salassi people in 25 B.C. to control strategic mountain passes -- Aosta boasts several monuments dedicated to Augustus.

The Almagest: Archaeologists solve 200 year old mystery of Roman statue

The identity of a huge stone object that has remained a mystery since it was discovered in Chichester over 200 years ago has been revealed by archaeologists at Bournemouth University.

Dr Miles Russell, a senior lecturer in prehistoric and Roman archaeology at BU and Harry Manley, from the School of Applied Sciences, have used the latest in 3D laser scanning technology to examine the object, known as the Bosham Head.

Culture 24 (UK): Archaeologists discover Roman shop in latest Maryport dig at Hadrian's Wall
By Culture24 Reporter
27 September 2013

Archaeologists, volunteers and trainees working near the Senhouse Roman Museum have revealed the remains of six buildings, including at least one shop, and a Roman road.

Detailed geophysical surveys by Oxford Archaeology North revealed lines of structures likely to be buildings either side of the main street running from the north-east gate of the fort. The dig, overseen by the Hadrian's Wall Trust, has confirmed the survey results.

Stephen Rowland, the project manager for Oxford Archaeology North, said the building that archaeologists had spent most of their time examining “might have been a shop at some point during its use”.

BBC: Roman skulls washed down lost London river
By Melissa Hogenboom Science reporter, BBC News

Archaeologists working with London's Crossrail project have uncovered 20 skulls believed to be from the Roman period.

It is likely the bones were washed from a nearby burial site along one of London's "lost" rivers - the Walbrook.

In the last year archaeologists in London have also found about 10,000 Roman items at a nearby site.

Western Digs: Long-Hidden Sites Discovered in the Southwest May Change Views of Ancient Migrations
Blake de Pastino
Oct 01,2013

A type of site never before described by archaeologists is shedding new light on the prehistory of the American Southwest and may change conventional thinking about the ancient migrations that shaped the region.

The sites, discovered in the southern mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, are remote Apache encampments with some often “disguised” features that have eluded archaeologists for centuries.

And their discovery is surprising not only for their seclusion but also for their age, because some sites appear to date back hundreds of years before Apaches were thought to have migrated to the region.

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Historical inn comes to light

EDIRNE - Dogan News Agency

The remains of the Yemiskapan Inn were found during excavation works in the square in front of Edirne’s Selimiye mosque, considered the masterpiece of Sinan. The excavation area has been extended

Excavation works carried out in the square in front of the Selimiye mosque in the northwestern province of Edirne have revealed the remains of Yemiskapan Khan, which is estimated to date back to 425 years ago. The area of excavations was extended after the finding.

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Still-active cistern beneath Istanbul mosque

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency

Those tired of the waiting line to enter Sultanahmet’s famous Basilica Cistern will soon have another visiting option following the discovery of a still-active cistern beneath Nuruosmaniye Mosque next to the Grand Bazaar.

The 265-year-old cistern was only discovered during renovations to the mosque, according to Foundations Istanbul Provincial Director I.brahim Özekinci.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


Western Digs: Thousands of Dinosaur Tracks Discovered Along Alaska’s Yukon River
Blake de Pastino
Sep 26,2013

An expedition in the remote heart of Alaska has made an unprecedented find for the Last Frontier: thousands of dinosaur tracks, of countless sizes and as-yet unnamed species, all along the rocky shores of the Yukon River.

The unusual tracks aren’t imprints, but rather casts — fossils of sand and other sediment that washed into fresh dinosaur footprints and were left behind when the outer rock eroded away.

Paleontologists with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks who were on the expedition estimate the tracks are 90 million to 100 million years old — far older than any others found in the state — and many seem to belong to dinosaurs never before recorded in the region.


Science Magazine: Source of Mysterious Medieval Eruption Identified
1 October 2013 4:45 pm

About 750 years ago, a powerful volcano erupted somewhere on Earth, kicking off a centuries-long cold snap known as the Little Ice Age. Identifying the volcano responsible has been tricky. Now, using geochemical, stratigraphic, and even historical data, a team of scientists has fingered a likely culprit: Indonesia’s Samalas volcano, part of the Rinjani Volcanic Complex on Lombok Island.

The Little Ice Age has been abundantly depicted in contemporary accounts of advancing mountain glaciers that destroyed villages and paintings of ice-skating on frozen Dutch canals or on London’s River Thames, but the date of its actual onset was uncertain. Chilling of the Northern Hemisphere was pronounced: cold summers, incessant rains, floods, and resulting poor harvests, according to medieval records.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


University of Cincinnati: UC's "Team Effuelent" Trumps Competition with Trap Grease, Wins $40,000 Prize
UC's Team Effuelent won the $40,000 top prize of the Odebrecht Award for Sustainability Development Competition with the innovative concept of “Using Trap Grease As the Raw Material for Biodiesel Feedstock Production.”
By: Ashley Duvelius
Date: 10/1/2013 12:00:00 AM

The University of Cincinnati student entrepreneurship team that’s fueling worldwide media attention is at it again. Team Effuelent recently took the $40,000 top prize of the Odebrecht Award for Sustainability Development Competition with their innovative concept of “Using Trap Grease As the Raw Material for Biodiesel Feedstock Production.”

Team Effuelent is led by UC students Ron Gillespie, Carl H. Lindner College of Business industrial management student; Ethan Jacobs, College of Engineering and Applied Science ACCEND student earning his bachelor's degree in civil engineering and also his MBA; and Qingshi Tu, UC doctoral environmental engineering student. The top three winning teams of the 2013 Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development were unveiled Sept. 9, 2013, at the award ceremony in Miami, Fla.

The team’s innovative Waste Grease Extraction process extracts substances such as fats, oils, and greases from the municipal wastewater stream and converts them into a low-cost biodiesel feedstock using processes compatible to the current biodiesel industry.

Not only does the WGE process generate a marketable product of value, it also results in lowered landfill costs for wastewater treatment plants and positively contributes to the environmental, economic, and energy sustainability of the United States.


New York University: Physicist Dvali awarded $1.5 million grant to investigate properties of black holes
October 2, 2013

New York University physicist Georgi Dvali has been awarded a $1.5 million grant by the European Research Council (ERC) to investigate the properties of black holes.

The work will build upon a physical property theorized by Albert Einstein and his colleague Satyendra Nath Bose—a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC), which is a state of matter of a boson, or elementary particle, once it is cooled.

Under the five-year ERC grant, Dvali and his collaborator, Cesar Gomez, a professor at Madrid’s Instituto de Fi´sica Te´orica, will seek to determine if black holes possess matter marked by the properties outlined by Einstein and Bose.

Such a finding would upend our understanding of black holes and, more significantly, potentially alter our conception of gravity and, with it, the space-time model—a fundamental aspect of the laws of physics that govern our Universe.


University of Massachusetts: Chemist Vincent Rotello Named Editor in Chief of Journal, ‘Bioconjugate Chemistry’
September 30, 2013

AMHERST, Mass. ­– The American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, recently named chemist Vincent M. Rotello of the University of Massachusetts Amherst as the next editor in chief of its journal, Bioconjugate Chemistry.

Rotello is the Charles A. Goessmann Professor of Chemistry at UMass Amherst and will take over in January from founding Editor-in-Chief Claude F. Meares, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of California, Davis, who has led the journal since 1990.

Rotello says, “Bioconjugate Chemistry is the one journal poised exactly at the interface of the biological and synthetic worlds, positioning it to contribute to advances in fields including drug delivery, bionanotechnology and synthetic biology. There are a relative few editor-in-chief positions out there in major journals. I feel quite honored by this appointment, because it indicates the respect the society has for my scientific achievements and its confidence in my ability to run such an important enterprise.”

As editor in chief, Rotello will have complete control over the journal, including appointment of associate editors, re-working the article format and developing new social media outlets for communicating research.

Science Crime Scenes

CBC: Kootenay pictographs vandalized with paintball pellets
CBC News Posted: Oct 03, 2013 8:08 AM PT Last Updated: Oct 03, 2013 8:57 AM PT

Government archaeologists are trying to determine how to clean up some vandalism of First Nation rock art after someone apparently blasted paintball pellets at an ancient pictograph near Nelson, B.C.  

Amateur photographer Alistair Fraser first noticed the pictograph that hangs above Kootenay Lake was damaged last week.

NBC News: Archaeologists uncover a scene of horror at 'Swedish Pompeii'
Alan Boyle, Science Editor NBC News

Swedish archaeologists have uncovered what appears to be a 5th-century murder mystery at an island fort that's being compared to Italy's Pompeii ruins.

"It's more of a frozen moment than you normally see in archaeology," said Helene Wilhelmson, a researcher who specializes in the study of bones at Sweden's Lund University. "It's like Pompeii: Something terrible happened, and everything just stopped."

Peru This Week: Egypt helps Peru recover ancient artifacts
By Rachel Chase
September 30, 2013

Artifacts from Peru and Ecuador were removed illegally, authorities say.

Customs agents in Egypt are lending a hand after discovering contraband archaeological artifacts in packages sent from the United States.

According to El Comercio, customs officials found a number of Peruvian and Ecuadorian artifacts in packages intended to arrive in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. The artifacts, including clay figurines created by the Peruvian Chancay culture (ca. 1000-1475 AD) and terracotta heads made by the Ecuadorian Valdivia culture (ca. 2000 BC), were turned over to antiquities authorities.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Boston University: CAS Archaeologist Finds Near-Perfect Maya Mural
Discovery sheds light on ancient power struggles
By Amy Laskowski

It all started with a dead body. A body with teeth of jade.

Last year, Francisco Estrada-Belli led a team deep in the jungle of the Péten region of Guatemala to the Holmul ruins, a Classic Maya city that was once home to 10,000 people. There, they felt and scraped their way through unlit tunnels dug long ago by looters. Finally, after weeks of digging in withering heat and humidity, they came upon something that made the hardships worth the effort: a previously undisturbed tomb beneath a pyramid staircase.

Inside was the skeleton of an adult male, with two teeth drilled and inlaid with jade, “a distinction of status among Maya elite,” says Estrada-Belli (GRS’98), a College of Arts & Sciences research assistant professor of archaeology, who is teaching this semester at Tulane University. The body was buried with a wooden funerary mask and 28 decorated ceramic vessels. Estrada-Belli says the number of vessels and the jade dental decorations suggest that the person was a member of Holmul’s ruling class.

Returning this summer to investigate the building’s function, the team unearthed a wall carving that reveals a saga about changes in power among battling Maya groups. The mural, says Estrada-Belli, is in near-perfect condition, making it an extremely rare find.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

CBC: Ancient Musqueam village, burial site saved in Vancouver
The Marpole Midden site in South Vancouver has been sold to the Musqueam First Nation
CBC News

The Musqueam First Nation says it has finalized the purchase of land in Vancouver's Marpole area that contains an aboriginal village and burial site that are estimated to be 3,000 years old.

A new condo development was to be built on the privately-owned property until the discovery of human remains halted construction and led to protests last year.

CNN: 2,700-year-old Persian artifact a gift of U.S. diplomacy to Iran?
By Tara Kangarlou and Ben Brumfield, CNN

Washington (CNN) -- A 2,700 year-old silver chalice may be a new token of friendship between the United States and Iran, at least that's the way Iran's cultural heritage chief sees it.

Whatever the case, Mohammad-Ali Najafi was palpably delighted Friday to see the ancient Persian artifact return to its homeland. The ceremonial drinking vessel -- or rhyton -- had gotten snagged in a U.S. customs warehouse for years, held up by bad diplomatic relations.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

New York University: Egan weighs governing costs of "issue ownership" in new book
October 1, 2013

What are the costs of “issue ownership”? When it comes to governing, they include ignoring citizens’ preferences in devising legislation and implementing policies.

In Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics (Cambridge), Patrick Egan, an assistant professor in NYU's Wilf Family Department of Politics, notes that Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment – a long-standing phenomenon called “issue ownership.”

Egan investigates the origins of issue ownership, revealing something unexpected: the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, he finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power.

But this is problematic, Egan posits. One, since the parties tend to be ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians tend to ignore citizens' preferences when crafting policy on these issues, distorting the relationship between these preferences and public policies. Two, issue ownership becomes synonymous with perceived effectiveness, which diminishes lawmakers’ accountability.

“The fact that there is no detectable relationship between parties’ control of government and improvement on the issues the public says they are best able to ‘handle’ leaves few reasons for optimism about accountability,” Egan concludes. “When deciding which party is better able to handle a given issue, Americans appear to equate effort with results.”

Boston University: Federal Court Supports NIH Review of Biolab Safety Risks
BU’s NEIDL moves closer to full operation
By Art Jahnke

In an action that moves BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) closer to full operation, a federal court judge has ruled that a Final Supplementary Risk Assessment prepared by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) adequately analyzes the risks associated with research involving pathogens at BioSafety Level 3 (BSL-3) and BioSafety Level 4 (BSL-4) and that such research can be done safely at the BU Medical Campus site.

That risk assessment, which examined a series of scenarios and potential consequences of procedural failures, including containment system failures and malevolent acts, had been challenged in court by a number of Boston residents and the Conservation Law Foundation. The groups claimed that the risk assessment prepared by the NIH was not adequate and that the NIH decision to approve it was arbitrary and capricious.

In a 76-page opinion, US District Court Chief Judge Patti Saris found that “the NIH provides sufficient scientific support for its ultimate conclusions that the risks to the public are extremely low to not reasonably foreseeable, and the differences between the Boston location and the suburban and rural sites are not significant. In light of the benefits of placing the biolab in an urban area like Boston, which provides opportunity for expert medical research collaboration, and the low risk of harm to the public, NIH’s decision is rational.”

Science Education

Al-Ahram (Egypt): Tutankhamun's replica tomb to be re-erected in Luxor
Replica tomb to be installed beside former residence of discoverer Howard Carter on Luxor's west bank
Nevine El-Aref

A committee administering Egypt's antiquities decided Tuesday to re-erect a dismantled replica tomb of King Tutankhamun, placing it beside the former residence of discoverer Howard Carter on Luxor's west bank.

Secretary-general of the Ministry of the State of Antiquities (MSA), Mostafa Amin, told Ahram Online that the replica tomb will provide tourists with a better picture of how Carter lived during his excavation work at the Valley of the Kings in the early 1920s.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

New York University: NIH awards grant for new NYU step program created to bolster biomedical research training
NYU School of Medicine and NYU Partner to Provide Expanded Career Development Training and Planning for Graduate Students and Postdocs
October 2, 2013

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a five-year grant to Keith J. Micoli, PhD, postdoctoral program director, NYU School of Medicine, Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, and Carol Shoshkes Reiss, PhD, professor, Department of Biology and Center for Neural Science at NYU, to enhance the training of biomedical graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to prepare them for a wide range of careers.

“We believe that creating a comprehensive training infrastructure and a defined career planning and exploration pathway will result in a more efficient, effective, and satisfying training experience,” said Dr. Micoli. “We will transform the nature of scientific training at NYU from a one-size-fits-all approach into a tailored program that can be broadly applicable across institutions nationally.”

The grant, totaling just under $2 million, is among the first given under NIH’s Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) awards program. It will fund the new NYU Scientific Training Enhancement Program (NYU-STEP), a partnership between NYU School of Medicine and NYU. The program will help prepare approximately 1,100 trainees, including postdoctoral scholars and PhD students, in the sciences for careers that extend beyond university campuses and into the for-profit industry, government, communication, and non-profit corporations.

Rutgers University: As Health Care Professionals Treating HIV/AIDS Dwindle, Rutgers Steps In
Nursing schools receive federal funding to serve urban populations
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NEWARK, NJ – Rutgers will receive new federal funding to train more nurses to care for those living with HIV/AIDS – numbers which could tax the system once the Affordable Health Care Act kicks in and clinicians who have been at the helm of AIDS care retire.

The five-year, $1.5 million grant – one of five similar grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration – is designed to expand the number of nurse practitioners skilled in working with infected and at-risk populations, with an emphasis on care of minority, inner city and urban populations.  Rutgers joins Duke, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Johns Hopkins in capturing nursing grants; SUNY Downstate earned a grant to educate physician assistants.

“People think HIV is no longer an issue,” says Suzanne Willard, associate dean and clinical associate professor at Rutgers College of Nursing who leads the project. “But HIV is still here and people are continuing to be infected.  The stigma is still there.  So much needs to be done."

Science Writing and Reporting

The Huffington Post: TWO Bigfoots? Hiker Shoots Clear Photos Of 'Moving Beasts' In Pennsylvania (PHOTOS)
By Andy Campbell

Bigfoot is making a big stink on the Internet this week.

First, a crack team of veterinarians and scientists regurgitated a press release claiming that they had DNA evidence of Bigfoot's existence. That "evidence" was and likely still is bogus.

But are these photos real?

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

New York Univerity via New York University Research Digest, Fall 2013

Sustainable Fishing, Human Ancestors, and Pulsating Stars!

Science is Cool

The Huffington Post: 6,000-Year-Old Wine Found In Greece; Ancient Samples May Be Oldest Unearthed In Europe
By Meredith Bennett-Smith

Conventional wisdom agrees that a fine wine generally gets better with age -- good news for the 6,200-year-old wine samples unearthed in Greece, huh?

Researchers working at an ongoing dig site in northern Greece recently announced that the final results of residue analysis from ancient ceramics showed evidence of wine dating back to 4200 B.C., according to the Greek Reporter. The excavation, located at a prehistoric settlement known as Dikili Tash, is situated 1.2 miles from the ancient city of Philippi and has been inhabited since 6500 B.C., according to the researchers' website.

The Weather Channel: Climber Finds Treasure Chest of Jewels in the Alps
By Stephanie Valera

A French climber scaling a Mont Blanc glacier in the Alps made the discovery of a lifetime when he uncovered a chest of jewels and precious gems, worth over €246,000 (around $332,000), under ice.

The unidentified 20-year-old alpinist turned over the metal chest containing emeralds, rubies and sapphires -- found in the Bosson Glacier near Chamonix, France earlier this month -- to authorities, according to Sky News.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Oct 05, 2013 at 09:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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