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Topics - JonF

Did I miss something? AFAICT there's no link to zombie TR in Chrome or Opera on my Android tablet.

Did I miss something?
Random sequences are an abundant source of bioactive RNAs or peptides

t is generally assumed that new genes arise through duplication and/or recombination of existing genes. The probability that a new functional gene could arise out of random non-coding DNA is so far considered to be negligible, as it seems unlikely that such an RNA or protein sequence could have an initial function that influences the fitness of an organism. Here, we have tested this question systematically, by expressing clones with random sequences in Escherichia coli and subjecting them to competitive growth. Contrary to expectations, we find that random sequences with bioactivity are not rare. In our experiments we find that up to 25% of the evaluated clones enhance the growth rate of their cells and up to 52% inhibit growth. Testing of individual clones in competition assays confirms their activity and provides an indication that their activity could be exerted by either the transcribed RNA or the translated peptide. This suggests that transcribed and translated random parts of the genome could indeed have a high potential to become functional. The results also suggest that random sequences may become an effective new source of molecules for studying cellular functions, as well as for pharmacological activity screening.
Trying to log in from another computer:


Fascinating article on LIGO, especially how they verified isolation. And they assigned some of the team (in addition to their regular duties) to inject false signals to see if they would be recognized as false. One almost made it to announcement.
Seriously Loud Sonic Shrimp Named After Prog Rockers Pink Floyd

The shrimp uses its claw to create a sonic blast so loud it stuns its prey. In fact, it's one of the loudest sounds in the ocean, louder than a gun shot. It snaps its claw at such a speed it creates a high-pressure cavitation bubble that, when it collapses, produces a sonic blast that can reach 210 decibels - powerful enough to stun and even kill its prey. For a split-second, the imploding bubble also generates temperatures of 4,400°C (7,950°F), which is nearly as hot as the surface of the Sun.

It was the shrimp's pink hue and talent for noise that helped give it its moniker. "I have been listening to Floyd since The Wall was released in 1979, when I was 14 years old," explained zoologist and Pink Floyd fan Dr Sammy de Grave, from Oxford University's Museum of Natural History, in a statement. "I've seen them play live several times since, including the Hyde Park reunion gig for Live8 in 2005. The description of this new species of pistol shrimp was the perfect opportunity to finally give a nod to my favorite band
Science / LIGO finds 'em!!
Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein's Prediction

The gravitational waves were detected on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (09:51 UTC) by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and MIT. The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy) and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.

Based on the observed signals, LIGO scientists estimate that the black holes for this event were about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, and the event took place 1.3 billion years ago. About 3 times the mass of the sun was converted into gravitational waves in a fraction of a second--with a peak power output about 50 times that of the whole visible universe. By looking at the time of arrival of the signals--the detector in Livingston recorded the event 7 milliseconds before the detector in Hanford--scientists can say that the source was located in the Southern Hemisphere.
With a list of dissenters, almost none of which are qualified to have an opinion:

Just who are these 300 'scientists' telling Trump to burn the climate?

If you read the headlines, it might have seemed impressive: "300 Scientists Tell Trump to Leave UN Climate Agreement." Wow, 300 scientists. That's a lot right? Actually, it's a pitiful list.

First of all, hardly anyone on the list was a climate scientist; many were not even natural scientists. It is almost as though anyone with a college degree (and there are about 21 million enrolled in higher education programs just in the USA) was qualified to sign that letter.

Okay but what about the signers of the letter? Surely they are experts in the field? Not so much. It was very difficult to find the list of signers online however I was able to acquire it with some help. See for yourself - Google "300 scientists letter climate change" in the past week. You will see many stories in the press, but try finding the actual letter or the list of names. The version I obtained was dated February 23, 2017 which helps narrow your searching. In an era of Dr. Google, it is unbelievable that the letter itself was not made more available.
Science / Far Side inspired paleontologists

"Thagomizer" is now widely used for the particular arrangement of spikes on some dinosaur's tails.

The Thagomizer
H/t Roy at TWeb.

Beyond Materialism: Biology for the 21st Century

Hughes Hall

a college in the University of Cambridge
Observations that unequivocally link seismicity and wastewater injection are scarce. Here we show that wastewater injection in eastern Texas causes uplift, detectable in radar interferometric data up to >8 kilometers from the wells. Using measurements of uplift, reported injection data, and a poroelastic model, we computed the crustal strain and pore pressure. We infer that an increase of >1 megapascal in pore pressure in rocks with low compressibility triggers earthquakes, including the 4.8-moment magnitude event that occurred on 17 May 2012, the largest earthquake recorded in eastern Texas. Seismic activity increased even while injection rates declined, owing to diffusion of pore pressure from earlier periods with higher injection rates. Induced seismicity potential is suppressed where tight confining formations prevent pore pressure from propagating into crystalline basement rocks.

Surface uplift and time-dependent seismic hazard due to fluid injection in eastern Texas
Science / Could be a real way to help...
1st electricity-free AC developed from recycled bottles:

More than 28,000 people live in a tiny area called Daulatdia in Bangladesh. They are cramped in small huts with no running water and temperatures outside and inside can rise above 113º . Something had to be done, so they've come up with the first electricity-free air conditioning.

Think it'll really work? Could it be something like a Hilsch flow-vortex tube?
Study of stalagmites in caves in China reveals 640,000 years of Asian monsoon history:

A team of researchers with members from China, the U.S., Austria and Singapore has used their analysis of stalagmites in a cave deep in central China to map over 640,000 years of monsoons in Asia. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes their analysis of the cave formations, what they found and how they were able to use what they learned to better understand other world events over the same time period. Nele Meckler with University of Bergen in Norway provides a more in-depth description of the work done by the team in a News & Views article in the same journal issue.


Oxygen isotope records from Chinese caves characterize changes in both the Asian monsoon and global climate. Here, using our new speleothem data, we extend the Chinese record to cover the full uranium/thorium dating range, that is, the past 640,000 years. The record's length and temporal precision allow us to test the idea that insolation changes caused by the Earth's precession drove the terminations of each of the last seven ice ages as well as the millennia-long intervals of reduced monsoon rainfall associated with each of the terminations. On the basis of our record's timing, the terminations are separated by four or five precession cycles, supporting the idea that the '100,000-year' ice age cycle is an average of discrete numbers of precession cycles. Furthermore, the suborbital component of monsoon rainfall variability exhibits power in both the precession and obliquity bands, and is nearly in anti-phase with summer boreal insolation. These observations indicate that insolation, in part, sets the pace of the occurrence of millennial-scale events, including those associated with terminations and 'unfinished terminations'.

Fairly often, maybe 20% of the time, when I click "Post" I'm told I've already posted the message.

Clicking the "Back" button returns me to the previous page with a blank editor window, and the message is not posted.

If I can remember to Control-A Control-C it's not a major problem, just annoying.  If I click "Post" a few seconds later it usually posts.
To replace People who have that bookmarked wouldn't know this is here. 
The Soap Opera / Post time display
The offset specified in Settings is not applied to the index page, but is everywhere else.