Courtesy Mark RyanRemember when your cornea- that clear front cover on your eye - had only 5 layers of tissue: the corneal epithelium, Bowman's layer, the corneal stroma, Descemet's membrane, and the corneal endothelium? Well, those days are over. Scientists have just discovered a sixth layer, and christened it: Dua's layer.
It was identified by a team of researchers led by Harminder Dua, professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Nottingham so he got to put his name on it.
Although only 15 microns thick, Dua's layer is extremely durable and is located between the corneal stroma and Descemt's membrane near the back of the cornea. It's thought that several corneal diseases could be due to damage to or absence of the Dua's layer.
"From a clinical perspective, there are many diseases that affect the back of the cornea which clinicians across the world are already beginning to relate to the presence, absence or tear in this layer.“ --- Professor Harminder Dua
The discovery was published in the journal Ophthalmology and could greatly improve surgical success rates for corneal grafts and transplants.
The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that individual human genes can not be patented because they occur naturally and aren't patent eligible. Gene sequences, however, according to the court ruling, could be patented. Read more at The Scientist magazine website.
Courtesy AAxanderThe International Space Station, the pride of low Earth orbit, lives up to its name for the most part—work there is the joint effort of a fifteen-nation partnership. So it’s not just NASA up there, there’s also the Russian Federal Space Agency, and, uh … probably some other things too. (JK. The Japanese, European, and Canadian space agencies are all involved.)
When the partnership built this cool orbiting clubhouse, however, they hung a sign above the rope ladder, reading “No guRlz aLoud!!!” Except instead of “gurlz” it said “China,” and presumably the spelling was a little better. Also, there was no sign or rope ladder, because that would be ridiculous. But the sentiment remained: China is not part of the ISS partnership, because Congress has banned NASA from any contact, collaborations or partnerships with China, because of concerns over technology transfer.
In response, China has gone ahead with a space station program of their own. China has plans to build a full size space station in the not too distant future, but for the time being, they already have an orbiting module—sort of a mini space station. The module, “Tiangong-1,” has actually been in service for almost two years already, and China launched a three-person “taikonaut” crew to practice docking with the module yesterday. This will be China’s fifth manned mission to Tiangong-1, and it includes the second woman from China to travel into space.
What do y’all think? Exciting news? Would we be better off collaborating with China in space? Or are you all for a little competition? What’s the coolest name: astronaut, cosmonaut, or taikonaut? Let everyone know in the comments!
Courtesy Mark RyanAccording to the World Wildlife Federation there are now literally more tigers in captivity in the United States than exist in the wild. That's about 5000 captive tigers versus 3200 wild ones. You might think, well sure, that's not surprising, there are a lot of zoos in America. But tigers held in zoos aren't even included in the estimate. The WWF is referring to tigers as exotic pets, held in American backyards, urban apartments, sideshows, truck stops and private breeding farms.
The "Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 1998" is new legislation introduced on May 15, 2013. The bill would prohibit private possession and breeding of not only tigers but also lions, cheetahs, cougars, leopards and other large, dangerous cats that could threaten public safety. The bill would not affect public zoos or wildlife sanctuaries, and would allow current private owners to keep their cats provided they register them with the US Department of Agriculture.
The Minnesota Arboretum has a very cool webcam aimed at an osprey nest on its grounds. You can access it here. The osprey couple is taking turns sitting on the two eggs and protecting them from nefarious mischief. When those chicks hatch, they'll be hungry, consuming 1-3 pounds of food each day rounded up by their parents.
I love these kinds of videos! These images and data gleaned in 2012 from satellites orbiting the Earth are both fantastic and beautiful. Enjoy!
NASA's Visualization Explorer page
Our great-ape cousins such as chimpanzees have feet that are very flexible in their middle region due to something called the midtarsal break that allows their feet to bend in the middle, enabling them to grasp at branches for easier climbing through trees. So when a chimp lifts his foot off the ground, it just flops about - there's nothing to hold the bones together. Most humans, on the other hand (or should I say foot?), have the same joint but have ligaments that stretch across it making the foot more rigid and stable for upright walking. Australopithecus sediba, a human ancestor that lived 2 million years ago, has a foot structure that is more ape-like than human, so somewhere along the line our feet evolved probably to accommodate our bipedalism.
The study was done by Jeremy DeSilva, a functional morphologist from Boston University, whose main interest is the evolution of the human foot and ankle. In this recent study, museum visitors were requested to walk barefoot across a mechanized carpet while DeSilva's team observed their gaits and the structure of their feet as they walked.
The surprising results showed that 8 percent of the nearly 400 participants possessed a flexible midtarsal break in their foot, and displayed a pressure signature in their footprint that looked like that found in the footprints of non-human primates. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that those subjects who had the unusual foot-joint structure weren't even aware of it until DeSilva revealed it to them.
The study was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
So I saw a news report last night about this new recreational activity, flyboarding. All you need is a jet-ski and about $10,000 in specialized gear to soar above the water just like Iron Man, except without the iron. The video above is very cool. This link here explains the specific physics at work that makes this be so cool. When you get all this stuff and figure it out, invite me over. I wanna try this!!!