Sunday, June 06, 2010

Selected readings 6/6/10

Interesting reading and news items.

Please leave some comments that indicate which articles you find most interesting or that identify topics you would like to read about, and I will try to include more articles of a similar nature in the future

These items are also bookmarked at my Diigo account.

Einstein (Still) Rules The Universe
The pair of independent studies each used observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to test Einstein's theory of General Relativity, and to study the properties of gravity on cosmic scales. Both demonstrated that Einstein's theory continues to hold true almost a century after it was first published. [, 4/23/10]

Listening for the 'birth cries' of black holes
We're talking about the astronomical stuff of nightmares - gargantuan explosions that rip apart giant stars to create black holes. Artist's impression of jets emerging from a dying starThese events are detected in space every few days thanks to Nasa's Swift observatory. The spacecraft sits above the Earth hunting for gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), the intensely bright but fleeting flashes of very high-energy radiation that can sweep our way from all points in the sky.
[BBC News, 4/20/10]

Hubble's role in search for aliens
The powerful vision of the Hubble Telescope - which turns 20 this week - has expanded our cosmic horizons and brought into sharper focus a new set of mysteries about the universe that is our home. To those whose science is gleaned from the media, astronomy may seem to be on a roll. And it is. [BBC News, 4/22/10]

Revealing the True Solar Corona
A total solar eclipse—the Moon blocking out the entire body of the Sun—actually reveals great detail of the Sun’s structure. When the blinding brilliance of the Sun is obscured, this allows its more tenuous surrounding features—its corona—to come into view. Investigating the corona may seem straightforward, but it requires an understanding beyond seeing, imaging and modeling. [American Scientist, 5/1/10]

Convincing the Public to Accept New Medical Guidelines
A $1.1 billion provision in the federal stimulus package aims to address the issue by providing funds for comparative effectiveness research to find the most effective treatments for common conditions. But these efforts are bound to face resistance when they challenge existing beliefs. As Nieman and countless other researchers have learned, new evidence often meets with dismay or even outrage when it shifts recommendations away from popular practices or debunks widely held beliefs. [Miller-McCune Online, 4/20/10]

Terra Incognita
The essential question is not whether you do or don't believe in a fundamental theory of everything. The essential question is what is a good and promising way to expand what is known. You can believe in flying spaghetti monsters, reincarnation, or a theory of everything: if it helps you with your research, by all means, go ahead, just don't put your believes in the abstract of your paper. [Backreaction, 5/21/10]

Protons not as “strange” as expected
The G-Zero collaboration proposed a precisely tuned survey for ephemeral particles that appear only briefly inside matter. Specifically, they wanted to measure the effect of strange particles in the proton, the sub-atomic particle found deep inside the nucleus of every atom in our universe. [Symmetry Breaking, 4/27/10]

Signs of dark matter may point to mirror matter candidate
Mirror matter would interact very weakly with ordinary matter. For this reason, some physicists have speculated that mirror particles could be candidates for dark matter. Even though mirror matter would produce light, we would not see it, and it would be very difficult to detect. [, 4/27/10]

Earth's Climate Used to Weigh Chances of Alien Life
Greenhouse gases have a bad reputation because of the role they're playing in global warming on Earth today. However, scientists say we also owe our lives to greenhouse gases because they might have allowed life to take hold in the first place. A new study of how these and other climate conditions have affected the origin and evolution of life on Earth could provide clues to understanding how climates on alien planets might affect their potential life. [, 6/3/10]

Evidence grows for tetraquarks
The existence of a new form of matter called a tetraquark has been given further support by the re-analysis of an experiment that has baffled particle physicists for the past two years. [, 4/27/10]

The cancer genome challenge
In the past two years, labs around the world have teamed up to sequence the DNA from thousands of tumours along with healthy cells from the same individuals. Roughly 75 cancer genomes have been sequenced to some extent and published; researchers expect to have several hundred completed sequences by the end of the year. [Nature News, 4/14/10]

Biomarker Studies Could Realize Goal of More Effective and Personalized Cancer Medicine
Biological and genomic studies are showing that most types of cancer are not single diseases, but rather complex disorders with distinct causes. Take breast cancer, for example: "When we say 'breast cancer', we're probably lumping 15 different diseases into that category," says co-author Joseph Nevins.... Subtle differences in the tumors' genomes and genetic expression are what make drugs work in certain patients and not in others. [Scientific American, 4/26/10]

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