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Published: Thursday, April 13, 2017 @ 6:53 PM
One of Saturn’s small, white moons has the perfect conditions for life in its icy crust-covered ocean.
The Cassini spacecraft, in a fly-by of the moon Enceladus, discovered some of the building blocks for life in plumes of vapor and particles erupting through cracks in the moon’s crust, according to a report from Cassini mission researchers in the journal “Science.”
The vapor or gas contains hydrogen, one of the essential components of life.
“A form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn's moon Enceladus,” a NASA spokesperson said in a news release.
Space agency scientists believe there could be microbial life around hot spots in the moon’s ocean, just like on Earth, where hydrothermal chemical reactions occur deep in the ocean when cold water interacts with molten rocks.
Life on Earth needs three main ingredients to exist and flourish: liquid water, a source of energy for metabolism and the right chemicals, primarily carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur.
“This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,” NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said.
”These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA's science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not.”
In addition, Hubble Space Telescope researchers reported in The Astrophysical Journal Letters that they’ve spotted the same vapor jets erupting from Jupiter’s large, icy moon Europa, which also has a liquid ocean beneath its icy crust.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 2:08 AM
Asteroid 2002 AJ129 – which at 0.7 miles is wider than the tallest building in the U.S. (New York's One World Trade Center) stacked on top of itself – is predicted to miss our planet, according to Metro. However, it will pass relatively close in terms of outer space.
NASA classifies any space object surpassing 459 feet wide and passing within 4,660,000 miles of Earth as "hazardous," according to a 2013 report on the space agency's website. There are about 1,000 such known space objects monitored by NASA.
This asteroid is more than eight times wider than the minimum (3,696 feet) and will pass within just over half the minimum distance (2,615,128 miles) to our planet.
For a reference point, the moon orbits Earth at a distance of about 238,855 miles.
Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 11:35 AM
— The holiday season is officially over, and many are now looking at their New Year’s resolutions, which may include maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
To get a head start, some are participating in Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol. But how effective is it?
Researchers from the University of Sussex conducted a study, published in Health Psychology, to find out.
They examined more than 850 individuals who gave Dry January a try. They then followed up with a questionnaire one month later and another six months later.
After analyzing the results, they found that after six months, participants said they drank less and were not getting drunk as much.
In fact, 72 percent of the subjects had maintained lower levels of harmful drinking and 4 percent were still not drinking after six months.
After just one month, about 62 percent reported having better sleep, 62 percent said they had more energy and 49 percent experienced weight loss.
The changes were also seen for those who did not make it to the end of the challenge. “Even if participants took part but didn’t successfully complete the 31 days, it generally led to a significant decrease across all the measures of alcohol intake,” Richard de Visser said in a statement.
The scientists believe their findings prove the challenge can be used to help reduce drinking long-term, added Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, a U.K. charity to combat alcohol harm.
“This research,” she said, “is the proof of how, with the help, advice and support we offer throughout the month, our model can really change behaviour and reduce drinking.”
Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 5:03 PM
— Memory loss and confusion are common symptoms of dementia. Now scientists are linking canola oil to the disease in a new report.
Researchers from Temple University recently conducted an experiment, published in Scientific Reports, to determine how the common cooking oil may have an effect on the brain.
To do so, they examined mice that were six months old, dividing them into two groups. One was fed a normal diet, while the other had “a diet supplemented with the equivalent of about two tablespoons of canola oil,” the authors explained.
After observing the animals for 12 months, they weighed them. They found that the mice on the canola oil diet weighed significantly more than those on a regular diet.
They then assessed their working memory, short-term memory and learning ability by administering maze tests. They discovered the mice that had consumed canola oil suffered damage to their working memory. The canola oil-treated mice had reduced levels of amyloid beta 1-40, a protein that serves a beneficial role in the brain.
“As a result of decreased amyloid beta 1-40, animals on the canola oil diet further showed increased formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, with neurons engulfed in amyloid beta 1-42,” the authors said. “The damage was accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of contacts between neurons, indicative of extensive synapse injury. Synapses, the areas where neurons come into contact with one another, play a central role in memory formation and retrieval.”
Their findings suggest canola oil is not beneficial to the brain, especially when it is consumed over long periods of time. Researchers now hope to further their studies to find out exactly how much canola oil can produce changes in the brain and if it can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” lead researcher Domenico Pratico said. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”
Published: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
— Glitter's sparkly days may be over, if scientists get their way.
Because glitter is a microplastic, it poses a potential ecological hazard, scientists told The Independent. The threat is particularly serious to marine animals, who have suffered fatal consequences from consuming plastic that makes its way into the ocean.
Glitter is not just found on cards and decorative items, but also in makeup.