g:science

In the 1800s, medical journals started recording instances of people’s teeth straight-up exploding. To read the accounts, it’s no wonder that Dr. King Schultz went into bounty hunting. Shooting bad guys must have seemed like a relaxing hobby compared to wondering if his patients’ teeth were going to shrapnelize themselves into his face.

The first recorded case occurred in 1817 with a reverend who, after days of suffering untold agony from toothache, experienced: “… all at once a sharp crack, like a pistol shot, bursting his tooth to fragments, [which] gave him instant relief. At this moment he turned to his wife, and said, ‘My pain is all gone.’ He went to bed, and slept soundly all that day and most of the succeeding night; after which he was rational and well.”

This was the template for every case of exploding tooth syndrome (as we’re now calling it). Victims would suffer from a tremendous toothache, followed by their mouth detonating from the inside out like baby aliens were inside. In 1830, a Mrs. Letita D reported an aching tooth “terminating by bursting with report,” while a dentist in 1871 reported an occurrence of ETS so violent that the patient was knocked to the floor and deafened. Several similar cases later, however, and the condition vanished, never to be seen again.

Exploding Teeth: 6 Scary Diseases That Were Lost To History

Remember the ice bucket challenge? It just funded an ALS breakthrough

Originally posted by huffingtonpost

The ALS Association says money raised by viral charity challenge, dismissed as ‘slacktivism’ by many, has helped identify a new gene associated with the disease

It is often easy to dismiss viral charity campaigns as “slacktivism”, which lacks in real-world impact (we never did catch the warlord Joseph Kony, after all) but a breakthrough discovery bankrolled by 2014’s ALS ice bucket challenge may give the lie to that cynicism.

The ice bucket challenge was a phenomenon in the summer of 2014 in which people dunked a bucket of iced water over their heads in order to solicit donations before nominating others to do the same.

The campaign raised more than $100m in a 30-day period, and was able to fully fund a number of research projects. One of these was Project MinE, a large data-driven initiative funded by the ALS Association through ice bucket challenge donations, as well as donations from the organization’s Georgia and New York chapters. The project’s researchers announced on Monday that they have identified a new gene associated with the disease, which experts say could lead to new treatment possibilities.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurological disorder in which the motor neurons that control muscle function slowly die. The disease can be either sporadic or inherited, and in either case there is currently no cure.

“It’s very exciting because it shows everyone who contributed to the ice bucket challenge that their donation had an impact on the research,” said Brian Frederick, executive vice-president of communications and development at the ALS Association. The newly discovered gene, NEK1, is only associated with 3% of ALS cases, but it is present in both inherited and sporadic forms of the disease, which researchers say gives them a new target for the development of possible treatments. Project MinE has been working to sequence the genomes of 15,000 people with the disease, and the discovery, which was described in a paper published on Monday in the journal Nature Genetics, involved more than 80 researchers in 11 countries.

The discovery was significant, Frederick said, “because it helps us understand what’s triggering this and can help us better find a treatment,” though he added that “it’s still very early in our understanding of this particular gene, and we still have a ways to go with understanding ALS generally.”

gizmodo.com
Amazing Spider Silk Continues to Surprise Scientists
As described in a new paper in Nature Materials, spider silk can block certain quasiparticles of sound (called “phonons”), depending on their frequency, the same way semiconductors can block certain electrons.
By Jennifer Ouellette

We already know that spider silk is something of a wonder material, but scientists are still discovering more awesome things that it can do. An international team of researchers has found that spider silk shares a useful property with semiconductors—except rather than exploiting this to manipulate electrons, it can be used to manipulate sound and heat.

As described in a new paper in Nature Materials, spider silk can block certain quasiparticles of sound (called “phonons”), depending on their frequency, the same way semiconductors can block certain electrons. “There’s a range of frequencies that are not allowed to propagate,” co-author Edwin Thomas of Rice University said in a statement. “If you broadcast sound at a particular frequency, it won’t go into the material.”

It’s known as a band gap, and it’s what lets scientists effectively “tune” materials with this property for specific applications. Photonic crystals—opals are a naturally occurring example—do this for light waves. Phononic crystals do the same for sound, but this is the first time anyone has found such a band gap in this kind of material.

Continue Reading.

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The SOMBRERO GALAXY is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the Virgo constellation. It is located 28 million light years from Earth.

It has a very bright nucleus and an unusually large bulge. The nucleus of a galaxy is located in the center, and the bulge is the “halo” of material/stars that are found around the nucleus. The shape of the bulge and the nucleus give the appearance of a sombrero.

There is a supermassive black hole located in the nucleus of this galaxy. Looking at the measured nearby galaxies, the Sombrero Galaxy has the largest black hole at its center. It is said that the mass of the black hole is 1 billion times the mass of the Sun.

Got any questions/facts about the Sombrero Galaxy? Send me a message and we can talk about it! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s galaxy!

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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is such a crazy, turbulent storm (the largest known storm in the universe) that it creates sound waves that travel hundreds of miles up and actually heat the planet’s upper atmosphere.

I repeat: sound waves are heating Jupiter’s atmosphere. The area above the Spot is a thousand degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the surrounding atmosphere.

Here’s the journal paper. Here’s our story.

Image credit: Space Telescope Science Institute/NASA

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s diameter to its circumference, in the same way nuclear fission is a way of powering TVs to watch America’s Got Talent: an appallingly simple effect of a reality-defining truth. Pi isn’t a number, it’s a startup constant of spacetime. Take a line in one dimension, rotate it around another, and the resulting ratio of lengths is a precise number. The existence of space has a numerical signature. It’s called a transcendental number, because even attempting to think about how much it means is more mind-expanding than all the drugs.

Calculating pi has become the computer scientist equivalent of tuning muscle cars: we don’t actually need more digits for anything useful, because the basics do everything we actually need it for, but we’ve spent years stacking up air-cooled hardware just because. In 1985 it was calculated to 17 million digits. Srinivasa Ramanujan found the formula used. Around 1910.

It wasn’t the only such formula, but was incredibly useful because it converged exponentially compared to other algorithms, making it ideal for computers. Interesting note: at the time there was no such thing as computers. Srinivasa Ramanujan had pre-empted processors by decades.

5 Math Equations That Change the Way You See the World

theguardian.com
Remember the ice bucket challenge? It just funded an ALS breakthrough
ALS association says money raised by the viral charity challenge, dismissed as ‘slacktivism’ by many, has helped identify a new gene associated with the disease
By Nicky Woolf

I am so overwhelmed by this. That there is a research project solely dedicated to finding a genetic cause for ALS and ultimately a cure is amazing. It’s amazing but also so bittersweet, the average lifespan of an ALS patient is 3-5 years from diagnosis after all so pretty much no one partaking in the study currently is going to see any results in their lifetime. But knowing that it might help someone else in the future is reason enough. 

Again, I cannot express enough how grateful I am to everyone who took part in the challenge two summers ago and I know there are many, many others who feel the same. I only wish my dad would have seen this, it would have made him happy I think. 

cbc.ca
Dolly's aging heirs offer good news about cloned animals
Dolly herself died young after developing osteoarthritis, infection; but her clones are healthy

The heirs of Dolly the sheep are enjoying a healthy old age, proving cloned animals can live normal lives and offering reassurance to scientists hoping to use cloned cells in medicine.

Dolly, cloning’s poster child, was born in Scotland in 1996. She died prematurely in 2003, aged six, after developing osteoarthritis and a lung infection, raising concerns that cloned animals may age more quickly than normal offspring.

Now researchers have allayed those fears by reporting that 13 cloned sheep, including four genomic copies of Dolly, are still in good shape at between seven and nine years of age, or the equivalent of 60 to 70 in human years.

“Overall, the results are suggesting that these animals are remarkably healthy,” said Kevin Sinclair of the University of
Nottingham, whose team reported their findings in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.

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