New Zealander Nigel Latta Blows Stuff Up

For a little more fun in science, we head to New Zealand, where Nigel Latta blows stuff up. The Science Learning Hub provides links to TV New Zealand, where, with a little proxy magic, you can watch this science aficionado do exactly what the title says he will.

Latta confesses, in pre-show publicity, a love for science and a fascination for many of the big questions it poses. He has two science degrees – a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and a Master of Science in Marine Science – and in this new series, he provides a fun and engaging gateway into the sciences.

EDIT: In case you can’t find a proxy to support viewing the NZTV videos, here’s a YouTube video showing a sample of Nigel’s work:

Budget Problems Could Lead to Berkeley College of Chemistry Shutdown

While emphasizing there are no firm plans in place yet, there is talk at Berkeley of shutting down the College of Chemistry in order to help with budget problems the school is facing. berkeley chemistry photoThere is also a petition by the student body to not do this.

The College of Chemistry was established in 1872. In the 20th century, researchers in the college at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory discovered nine elements now on the periodic table. Today, the college is known as a pioneer in traditional and emerging fields of chemistry.

By Thursday evening, Melville’s petition, which addresses Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, had gained more than 1,800 signatures — more than the College of Chemistry’s undergraduate population.

Photo by martinhfp

The James Webb Space Telescope

This is a massive scientific undertaking. Here’s hoping the lessons learned from the Hubble launch aren’t repeated for this telescope. The telescope will travel a million miles after launch, making repairs significantly more difficult (née impossible). james webb photoEven after it arrives at its destination, the telescope will have to unfold and cool over another month before it is operational and we will know that it will work as expected.

If you want to keep an eye on the Webb, check out NASA’s live camera view of work as it proceeds on the telescope.

Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Learning Tabletop Object Manipulation by Imitation

In what is sure to be a contributing factor in the robot uprising, scientists are attempting to teach robots how to manipulate objects by helping them imitate object manipulation performed by others:

Given external observations of demonstrations on object manipulations, we believe that two underlying problems to address in learning by imitation is 1) segment a given demonstration into skills that can be individually learned and reused, and 2) formulate the correct RL (Reinforcement Learning) problem that only considers the relevant aspects of each skill so that the policy for each skill can be effectively learned. Previous works made certain progress in this direction, but none has taken private information into account.

robotic arm photo

Photo by Dan Ruscoe

Peanut Allergy Prevention Persists Even After a Year of Avoidance

In what is surely good news in regards to peanut allergies, we’re learning that early exposure to peanuts can help prevent later allergic reactions, and this protection persists even after a year of avoiding peanuts.peanut photo

The LEAP-On study was an extension of the ITN’s landmark LEAP Study (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy), which demonstrated that regular peanut consumption begun in early infancy and continued until age 5 reduced the rate of peanut allergy in at-risk infants by 80% compared to non-peanut-consumers. LEAP was the first large, well-controlled study to conclusively show the benefits of early peanut consumption in this population, changing previous notions about peanut allergy prevention.

Photo by EuroMagic

Lider Mapping Oregon’s Williamette River

In the “Science makes art” category of life, f-poster-WillametteStreamChannelswe have this mapping of Oregon’s Williamette River as created from Lidar mapping:

This lidar-derived digital elevation model of the Willamette River displays a 50-foot elevation range, from low elevations (displayed in white) fading to higher elevations (displayed in dark blue). This visually replaces the relatively flat landscape of the valley floor with vivid historical channels, showing the dynamic movements the river has made in recent millennia. This segment of the Willamette River flows past Albany near the bottom of the image northward to the communities of Monmouth and Independence at the top. Near the center, the Luckiamute River flows into the Willamette from the left, and the Santiam River flows in from the right. Lidar imagery by Daniel E. Coe.

Full information on this can be found on The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) web site.

Isopropyl Alcohol Nasal Inhalation for Nausea

I’m rather interested in this trial on Isopropyl Alcohol Nasal Inhalation for Nausea in the emergency department:

Of 84 recruited patients, 80 (95.2%) completed the study. Thirty-seven (46.3%) received nasally inhaled isopropyl alcohol and 43 (53.8%) received nasally inhaled normal saline solution. At 10 minutes postintervention, median nausea verbal numeric response scale score was 3 in the isopropyl alcohol arm versus 6 in the placebo arm, for an effect size of 3 (95% confidence interval 2 to 4).

nausea photo

Photo by Evil Erin

Geckos, Chameleons Preserved in Amber

amber fossils photoA dozen geckos and chameleons have been discovered perfectly preserved in amber from the Cretaceous period:

The lizards, discovered in private amber collections on loan to the American Museum of Natural History and Harvard University, are immaculate and unusually diverse. As such they suggest that major lizard groups were already established at that time. The specimens will now go on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis

Soccer Star Brandi Chastain to Donate Brain to Science

Hoping to help scientists better understand the effects of repeated head trauma, US soccer star Brandi Chastain has stated she will donate her brain to science.

“Hopefully, what can be learned is, can doctors and scientists and neuroscientists look at the brain of someone like me, who has been playing soccer a majority of my life, and really dissect the brain and say, ‘Here’s where we see it beginning?’ Could we then use that information to help say that before the age of 14, it’s not a good idea to head the ball?'” Chastain told USA Today.


Volcanic Explosion Tilted Mars

Billions of years ago, a volcanic explosion occurred on Mars which was so massive it actually tilted the planet:

That volcano—the Tharsis volcanic dome—is 96.3 miles by 77.7 miles. When it exploded all those years ago, it disrupted the mantle and crust of the planet (though not the rest of the interior), shifting the whole outside crust up 25 degrees. When the volcano exploded, it did so with a mass of a “billion billion” metric tons of matter, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons.

This explosion may have also lead ultimately to the liquid water which is now evidenced on the planet’s surface.