Only 25 percent of those who went to see “Into Darkness” were under 25 years of age. That’s considerably less than the 35 percent that the previous film attracted, and it’s far more older-skewing than the first-weekend audiences for Disney’s “Iron Man 3,” which was 45 percent under 25, 27 percent families and 21 percent teens. “It didn’t grab the attention of young moviegoers, and you’re not going to get your movie over $100 million with just older folks,” Exhibitor Relations vice-president and senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap. “It’s tough to figure, because with Abrams doing it, it’s really not your father’s ‘Star Trek.’ But it needs to find that young audience in a hurry.” And there’s the rub. The young audience that “Star Trek” will try to connect with its second weekend is the same demographic that “The Hangover III,” which Warner Bros. opens Thursday, is targeting. And it’s the same one that Universal’s “Fast & Furious 6,” which opens Friday, is going after. Fox’s animated family film “Epic” opens this weekend, too, and “Iron Man 3” isn’t going anywhere.
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. has announced the recipients of the 2012 Nebula Awards®. The Nebula Awards® are voted on and presented by the active members of SFWA for outstanding science fiction and fantasy published in 2012. The awards were announced at the Nebula Awards® Banquet held at in San Jose, CA, May 16-20. The Recipients of the 2012 Nebula Awards: NOVEL: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK) NOVELLA: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon) NOVELLETTE: “Close Encounters” by Andy Duncan (The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories) SHORT STORY: “Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12) RAY BRADBURY AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DRAMATIC PRESENTATION: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin (director), Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (writers), (Journeyman/Cinereach/Court 13/Fox Searchlight) ANDRE NORTON AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY BOOK: Fair Coin, E.C. Myers (Pyr) 2012 DAMON KNIGHT GRAND MASTER AWARD: Gene Wolfe SOLSTICE AWARD: Carl Sagan and Ginjer Buchanan KEVIN O’DONNELL JR. SERVICE TO SFWA AWARD: Michael H. Payne ABOUT SFWA The Nebula Awards are voted on and pre
QUOTE: The NASA mission that has changed our view of the probability of life in the Universe is in jeopardy. The Kepler has shown that planets are common throughout the Milky Way and the billions of galaxies in the cosmos. NASA officials announced Wednesday, May 15, that the Kepler space telescope – the agency’s primary instrument for detecting planets beyond our solar system – had suffered a critical failure and could soon be shut down permanently.Stanford professor and former NASA official explains how NASA might revive the Kepler space telescopeS, Scott Hubbard, a consulting professor of aeronautics and astronautics, helped guide the Kepler mission when he served as director of NASA Ames Research Center. He explains how NASA might bring the planet-hunting spacecraft back online. The Kepler spacecraft’s photo-detector array registers more than 100,000 stars at a time, Hubbard said, and in order to detect exoplanets (planets orbiting stars outside our solar system), the telescope must remain extremely steady so that the stars do not wander across the optics. A series of four gyroscope-like reaction wheels whir within the telescope to hold its gaze. At least three must be functioning to keep Kepler stable. One failed about a year ago and was shut off, and NASA scientists announced Wednesday, May 15, that a second wheel was no longer operating and that Kepler had paused operations. In a conversation with Stanford News Service, Hubbard explained the possible ways that NASA could bring the spacecraft back online, and what planet hunters will do next if that’s not possible. It will be very sad if it can’t go on any longer, but the taxpayers did get their money’s worth. Kepler has, so far, detected more than 2,700 candidate exoplanets orbiting distant stars, including many Earth-size planets that are within their star’s habitable zone, where water could exist in liquid form.
Saving Kepler! —The Mission That Changed Our View of the Probability of Life in the Universe
QUOTE: Suited and masked, in the secure environment of a biosafety level 3 containment lab at St Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, Jim Allay and Mike Tillman are lifting culture plates above their heads, peering towards the fluorescent lighting. They’re looking for robust “plaques” – clumps of chicken embryo kidney cells infected with an engineered flu virus. The stakes could scarcely be higher. This virus is a vaccine strain carrying genes from the H7N9 bird flu that has killed more than 30 people in China. If H7N9 acquires the mutations it needs to pass from person to person, the “seed strain” that the St Jude team is racing to produce could be the main line of defence against a flu pandemic that would threaten millions of people. Just a handful of labs are set up to do this work. Two other labs in the UK and US have recently created initial seed strains. It is vital to give manufacturers a choice of vaccine strains so they can select one that grows well and provokes a strong immune response and then scale it up for full production. “There’s a lot of pressure to get this done,” says Richard Webby, the affable head of the WHO Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals at St Jude. Clad in sterile overalls and a hairnet, I peer through two sets of locked doors into the BSL-3 lab as Allay and Tillman get down to work. Soon, they’ve identified four suitable plaques, each of which will inoculate about 40 fertilised chicken eggs. The whole process began in April, when Webby’s team ordered synthetic DNA to match the RNA genes for haemagglutinin and
NEW SHOWS!!! QUOTE: The network is betting heavily on genre fare to open up its week, with rookies Sleepy Hollow from Star Trek producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and Almost Human from J.J. Abrams and Fringe’s J.H. Wyman, taking Monday slots. PHOTOS: Fox’s 2013-14 Season: ‘Rake,’ ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ ‘Almost Human’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ On the comedy side, Tuesdays are getting some retooling with Fox leading the 8 p.m. hour with a pair of guy-centric half-hours Dads from Seth MacFarlane and Brooklyn Nine-Nine starring Andy Samberg, followed by the female-based New Girl and The Mindy Project. Following the network’s annual baseball coverage, another hour of comedies will be slotted for Fridays, with returning series Raising Hope serving as a launch pad for freshman offering Enlisted. (To watch trailers for NBC’s new shows, including Blacklist, Ironside, The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World, go here.) Check out the trailers below:
QUOTE: The honey bee is very common, highly social and important to humanity because it makes honey and pollinates our food crops. Without this important bee, many people would go hungry. Young honey bee “workers” spend much of their time in the colony taking care of baby bees. Older bees work outside on jobs such as collecting food. In these worker honey bees, a substance called juvenile hormone is not involved in egg laying. Instead, it determines when the bees stop working inside and start working outside. Somewhere along the evolutionary history of these bees, juvenile hormone stopped doing one job, and started doing a different job, says Dr. Adam Siegel, a Fulbright postdoctoral research fellow in the Hebrew University lab of Dr. Guy Bloch. Fulbright is the US government’s most prestigious and widely-known academic exchange program. The US–Israel Educational Foundation is responsible for the management of Israeli participation in the program. Scientists are interested in juvenile hormone. One way to work on this question is to study the hormone in a bee that demonstrates some characteristics of solitary bees and some characteristics of highly social bees. The bumble bee is a perfect bee for this type of study, as they live in groups and have an egg-laying queen bee and worker bees. But the groups are small compared to honey bee groups, and worker bees have very similar bodies to the queen bee. The workers will also start laying eggs as the colony gets old. Additionally, the worker bees have a much less organized system of division of labor. Worker bees will switch from inside jobs to outside jobs and back again throughout their lives. Like the honey bee, the bumble bee is also a very important pollinator of food crops. Very little is known about what juvenile hormone does in these bees, which demonstrate an intermediate level of social behavior. The Bloch lab team are working to figure out what some of the functions of the hormone are in the bumble bee. “This will help us to understand how this important hormone has taken on new functions in social systems,” said Siegel. In addition, this work has very important implications for people. Many pest insects also use the hormone to produce eggs. Because the hormone has to be present at very specific concentrations to work correctly, farmers can spray pesticides on plants that include chemicals that work in the same way as the hormone. These pesticides overload the hormone system in the pest insects and stop them from laying eggs. In honey bees, these hormone-like chemicals will not stop the bees from pollinating crops. However, says Siegel, “we do not know what effects juvenile hormone has on bumble bee pollination. Like honey bees, bumble bees are a very important crop pollinator. They are especially useful in greenhouses, because unlike honey bees, bumble bees can work in an enclosed space.” Israel has a strong agricultural tradition, but limited land available for growing crops, he says. “Many Israeli farmers use greenhouses to maximize the use of limited available agricultural land. Our experiments on juvenile hormone effects on bumble bee behavior will tell us if these pesticides are safe to use with bumble bee pollinators, or if they will hurt the foraging bumble bees. This will help farmers in israel and around the world,” the Fulbright scholar concludes. VATERITE MYSTERY SOLVED Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists have solved a century-old mystery involving an unstable atomic arrangement of the chemical compound calcium carbonate. Called “vaterite,” the compound forms crystals that are composed of two different atomic structures, they discovered and wrote in a recent issue of the prestigious journal Science. Boaz Pokroy, an assistant professor in the materials science and engineering department, and his doctoral student Lee Kabalah-Amitai, explain that the compound of calcium carbonate and oxygen is the most abundant mineral in nature and appears in different forms that vary in
May 10, 2013 – a day that will live in TV infamy. For those keeping track at home, a staggering 16 shows were on the receiving end of pink slips this past Friday. Add Thursday’s death toll to that equation and the number climbs to 22 in just 48 hours. RELATED | Complete 2013 Renewal Scorecard: What Got Cancelled? What’s Returning? And while several cancellations were viewed as mercy killings, many of them were greeted with shock, awe and disgust. Which got us wondering — which recent plug-pulling depressed you the most? Scroll down, vote in our poll, and then justify your pick in the comments section.
While there is, on average, only one supernova per galaxy per century, there is something on the order of 100 billion galaxies in the observable Universe. Taking 10 billion years for the age of the Universe (it’s actually 13.7 billion, but stars didn’t form for the first few hundred million), Dr. Richard Mushotzky of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, derived a figure of 1 billion supernovae per year, or 30 supernovae per second in the observable Universe. Now, scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have discovered the first proven biological evidence of a nearby supernova explosion on earth, finding hints of supernova iron in bacteria microfossils. Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence Origin and Structure of the Universe at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), found a radioactive iron isotope in fossils of iron-loving bacteria that they trace back to a supernova in our cosmic neighborhood. This is the first proven biological signature of a starburst on our earth. The age determination of the deep-drill core from the Pacific Ocean showed that the supernova must have occurred about 2.2 million years ago, roughly around the time when the modern human developed. Most of the chemical elements have their origin in core collapse supernovae. When a star ends its life in a gigantic starburst, it throws most of its mass
First Biological Evidence of a Supernova Explosion Found on Earth
QUOTE: There’s so much data available on the internet that even government cyberspies need a little help now and then to sift through it all. So to assist them, the National Security Agency produced a book to help its spies uncover intelligence hiding on the web. The 643-page tome, called Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research (.pdf), was just released by the NSA following a FOIA request filed in April by MuckRock, a site that charges fees to process public records for activists and others. The book was published by the Center for Digital Content of the National Security Agency, and is filled with advice for using search engines, the Internet Archive and other online tools. But the most interesting is the chapter titled “Google Hacking.” Say you’re a cyberspy for the NSA and you want sensitive inside information on companies in South Africa. What do you do? Search for confidential Excel spreadsheets the company inadvertently posted online by typing “filetype:xls site:za confidential” into Google, the book notes. Want to find spreadsheets full of passwords in Russia? Type “filetype:xls site:ru login.” Even on websites written in non-English languages the terms “login,” “userid,” and “password” are generally written in English, the authors helpfully point out. Misconfigured web servers “that list the contents of directories not intended to be on the web often offer a rich load of information to Google hackers,” the authors write, then offer a command to exploit these vulnerabilities — intitle: “index of” site:kr password. “Nothing I am going to describe to you is illegal, nor does it in any way involve accessing unauthorized data,” the authors assert in their book. Instead it “involves using publicly available search engines to access publicly available information that almost certainly was not intended for public distribution.” You know, sort of like the “hacking” for which Andrew “weev” Aurenheimer was recently sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for obtaining publicly accessible information from AT&T’s website. Stealing intelligence on the internet that others don’t want you to have might not be illegal, but it does come with other risks, the authors note: “It is critical that you handle all Microsoft file types on
Use These Secret NSA Google Search Tips to Become Your Own Spy Agency | Threat Level | Wired.com
QUOTE: In the middle of the South Atlantic, there’s a patch of sea almost devoid of life. There are no birds, few fish, not even much plankton. But researchers report that they’ve found buried treasure under the empty waters: ancient DNA hidden in the muck of the sea floor, which lies 5000 meters below the waves. The DNA, from tiny, one-celled sea creatures that lived up to 32,500 years ago, is the first to be recovered from the abyssal plains, the deep-sea bottoms that cover huge stretches of Earth. In a separate finding published this week, another research team reports teasing out plankton DNA that’s up to 11,400 years old from the floor of the much shallower Black Sea. The researchers say that the ability to retrieve such old DNA from such large stretches of the planet’s surface could help reveal everything from ancient climate to the evolutionary ecology of the seas. “We have been able to show that the deep sea is the largest long-time archive of DNA, and a major window to study past biodiversity,” writes Pedro Martinez Arbizu, a deep-sea biologist of the German Centre for Marine Biodiversity Research in Wilhelmshaven and an author of the paper on South Atlantic DNA in an e-mail. The new studies are “very exciting,” says micropaleontologist Bridget Wade
Ancient DNA Found Hidden Below Sea Floor | Wired Science | Wired.com
QUOTE: If you’ve ever cringed when your parents said “groovy,” you’ll know that spoken language can have a brief shelf life. But frequently used words can persist for generations, even millennia, and similar sounds and meanings often turn up in very different languages. The existence of these shared words, or cognates, has led some linguists to suggest that seemingly unrelated language families can be traced back to a common ancestor. Now, a new statistical approach suggests that peoples from Alaska to Europe may share a linguistic forebear dating as far back as the end of the Ice Age, about 15,000 years ago. “Historical linguists study language evolution using cognates the way biologists use genes,” explains Mark Pagel, an evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. For example, although about 50% of French and English words derive from a common ancestor (like “mere” and “mother,” for example), with English and German the rate is closer to 70%—indicating that while all three languages are related, English and German have a more recent common ancestor. In the same vein, while humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas have common genes, the fact that humans share almost 99% of their DNA with chimps suggests that these two primate lineages split apart more recently. Because words don’t have DNA, researchers use cognates found in different languages today to reconstruct the ancestral “protowords.” Historical linguists have observed that over time, the sounds of words tend to change in regular patterns. For example, the p sound frequently changes to f, and the t sound to th—suggesting that the Latin word pater is, well, the father of the English word father. Linguists use these known rules to work backward in time, making a best guess at how the protoword sounded. They also track the rate at which words change. Using these phylogenetic principles, some researchers have dated many common words as far back as 9000 years ago. The ancestral language known as Proto-Indo-European, for example, gave rise to languages including Hindi, Russian, French, English, and Gaelic
QUOTE: By Andrew M. Seaman NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Mothers who are mildly iodine deficient are more likely to have children who perform poorly in spelling, grammar and literacy, according to a new study from Australia. Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy is known to cause serious mental disabilities in children, but researchers examined the test scores of nine year olds whose mothers were only slightly iodine deficient during pregnancy and found the kids performed between 6 percent and 10 percent worse than peers born to mothers with sufficient iodine. “This is to show in areas where there is even mild deficiency it can have long-term impacts on children,” said Kristen Hynes, the study’s lead author from the University of Tasmania in Sandy Bay. Throughout life, everyone needs iodine to make thyroid hormones, but it’s also crucial that pregnant women get enough of the element to support their children’s brain development. Past research has found that women who are severely iodine deficient give birth to children with motor, cognitive and auditory defects, Hynes’ team writes in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Little is known, however, about what impact a mother’s mild iodine deficiency might have on her child.
Moms’ iodine levels tied to kids’ poor test scores - Yahoo! News
QUOTE: (thx to @richmagahiz ) December 29, 2003: Every few years, scientist Larry Newitt of the Geological Survey of Canada goes hunting. He grabs his gloves, parka, a fancy compass, hops on a plane and flies out over the Canadian arctic. Not much stirs among the scattered islands and sea ice, but Newitt’s prey is there—always moving, shifting, elusive. His quarry is Earth’s north magnetic pole. At the moment it’s located in northern Canada, about 600 km from the nearest town: Resolute Bay, population 300, where a popular T-shirt reads “Resolute Bay isn’t the end of the world, but you can see it from here.” Newitt stops there for snacks and supplies—and refuge when the weather gets bad. “Which is often,” he says. Right: The movement of Earth’s north magnetic pole across the Canadian arctic, 1831—2001. Credit: Geological Survey of Canada. [more] Scientists have long known that the magnetic pole moves. James Ross located the pole for the first time in 1831 after an exhausting arctic journey during which his ship got stuck in the ice for four years. No one returned until the next century. In 1904, Roald Amundsen found the pole again and discovered that it had moved—at least 50 km since the days of Ross. Sign up for EXPRESS SCIENCE NEWS delivery The pole kept going during the 20th century, north at an average speed of 10 km per year, lately accelerating “to 40 km per year,” says N
QUOTE: Mutations on a single gene appear to increase the risk for both an unusual sleep disorder and migraines, a team in Science Translational Medicine. The finding could help explain the links between sleep problems and migraines. It also should make it easier to find new drugs to treat migraines, researchers say. And for one member of the research team, , the discovery represents a personal victory. Bates remembers getting a lot of migraines in elementary school. They would start with nausea and changes in vision, she says. Then came the pain. “Loud sounds and light kind of hurt my eyes and my ears and my head,” she says. Moving or applying any sort of pressure to her skin also hurt. The problem was embarrassing and caused her to miss a lot of school, Bates says. It also was frustrating, she says, because back then, in the 1990s, no one could tell her much about what was causing her migraines or how to stop them. So Bates decided to become a scientist in order to understand “these bizarre, awful migraines.” She earned a doctorate in genetics at Harvard in 2005. Then, a couple of years later, while working in a lab at the University of California, San Francisco, she got a remarkable opportunity. Researchers in Los Angeles had been studying a family with a lot of migraines. The team discovered something really surprising about this family: They were early birds who were usually asleep by 8 p.m. and up by 5 a.m. The scientific name for the condition is “advanced sleep phase.” The researchers were able to trace the family’s sleep disorder to a mutation on a gene that helps control circadian rhythms, says , a neurologist at UCLA. “We then turned our attention to the question of how this gene mutation could be involved in migraine,” he says. The first step was to show that the gene really could cause both sleep problems and migraines. So the team found a second family being studied at UCSF that had a slightly different mutation on the same gene. Sure enough, many members of this family were also early birds who had migraines. The next step was to study mice carrying the mutated gene. And that’s where Emily Bates got a chance to help explain the disorder that had so disrupted her childhood. Bates’ boss at UCSF, , had asked her to study the behavior of mice carrying the mutated gene and to find out whether they were experiencing any symptoms of migraines. There’s no sure way to know if a mouse has a headache, Bates says. So she began looking for some of the other migraine symptoms she knew so well — things like sensitivity to heat and touch — and she found them. “All of the things that we looked at basically said these mice are more susceptible to migraine than a normal mouse,” she says. The mice also had brain changes similar to those seen in people experiencing a migraine. The findings should help explain the elusive link between sleep patterns and migraine, Charles says. “Disruptions of sleep are very well known to be a migraine trigger,” he says. “And many migraine patients will tell you that their migraine attack will only end if they’re able to get to sleep.” The results also