Thursday, August 31, 2017
Int-Ball is a bit larger than a softball, can float and maneuver by itself but also be controlled remotely, can take high resolution images and videos, and is not related to Hello Kitty. Int-Ball was delivered to the ISS in early June and is designed to allow ground-control to increase the monitoring of ISS equipment and activities while decreasing time demands on human astronauts. Int-Ball moves by turning on small internal fans and sees with a camera located between its two dark eyes.
•The recorded images and videos can be checked in real time by flight controllers and researchers on the ground, and then be fed back to the onboard crew.
•The camera adopts existing drone technology and its exterior and inner structures were all manufactured by 3D-printing.
Info via APOD & JAXAhttps://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170725.html
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojFNo19HYSo
Sometimes, the sky mimics the ground. Taken in 2017 May from the Atacama Desert in Chile, the foreground of the featured image encompasses the dipping edge of the caldera of an extinct volcano. Poetically echoing the dip below is the arch of our Milky Way Galaxy above.
Many famous icons dot this southern nighttime vista, including the center of our Milky Way Galaxy on the far left, the bright orange star Antares also on the left, the constellation of the Southern Cross near the top of the arch, and the red-glowing Gum Nebula on the far right.
Just above the horizon and splitting two distant volcanic peaks near the image center is the Large Magellanic Cloud -- the largest satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.
Image & info via APODhttps://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html
Image Credit & Copyright: Carlos Eduardo Fairbairn http://www.astrobin.com/users/kiko.fairbairn/
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Harvey's menacing eye, as the hurricane slammed the Texas coast was captured by the GOES satellite.
Analysis of Hurricane Harvey's tremendous rainfall was created using eight days of satellite data.
The result has been widespread, massive flooding across the region and brings back memories of Tropical Storm Allison, which dropped up to 40 inches of rain in Texas back in 2001 and caused devasting flooding in the Houston area.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted at 1 p.m. CDT on Aug. 28, "Harvey is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 15 to 25 inches through Friday over the upper Texas coast and into southwestern Louisiana. Isolated storm totals may reach 50 inches over the upper Texas coast, including the Houston/Galveston metropolitan area. These rains are currently producing catastrophic and life-threatening flooding over large portions of southeastern Texas."
Get informed & DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAVEL IN THE AFFECTED AREAS IF YOU ARE IN A SAFE PLACE, AND DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOODED ROADWAYS http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES
A national research network led by UNC School of Medicine’s Joseph Piven, MD, found that many toddlers diagnosed with autism at two years of age had a substantially greater amount of extra-axial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at six and 12 months of age, before diagnosis is possible. They also found that the more CSF at six months – as measured through MRIs – the more severe the autism symptoms were at two years of age.
“The CSF is easy to see on standard MRIs and points to a potential biomarker of autism before symptoms appear years later,” said Piven, co-senior author of the study, the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, and director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). “We also think this finding provides a potential therapeutic target for a subset of people with autism.”
The findings, published in Biological Psychiatry, point to faulty CSF flow as one of the possible causes of autism for a large subset of people.
“We know that CSF is very important for brain health, and our data suggest that in this large subset of kids, the fluid is not flowing properly,” said Mark Shen, PhD, CIDD postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study. “We don’t expect there’s a single mechanism that explains the cause of the condition for every child. But we think improper CSF flow could be one important mechanism.”
Source and further reading:http://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2017/march/infant-mris-show-autism-linked-to-increased-cerebrospinal-fluid
Right: MRI of a baby at 6 months who was diagnosed with autism at 2 years. The dark space between the brain folds and skull indicate increased amounts of cerebrospinal fluid.
Left: MRI of a baby who was not diagnosed with autism at age 2.
Source: Corina Marinescu
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
A cochlear implant is an electric device designed to counter the loss of hearing linked to an inner ear deficiency, either congenital or acquired. First used as experimental devices in the 1970s, they have become commonplace since the 1990s. They provide many deaf people with a significantly improved ability for oral understanding and thus a considerable boost to their quality of life. However, despite the technological advances, there are still some 5 to 10% of adult patients who have become deaf for whom this technique remains stubbornly ineffective. Why? In order to find an answer to this question crucial for clinical practice, Diane Lazard, an ear, nose and throat surgeon at the Institut Vernes (Paris) and Anne-Lise Giraud, neuroscientist in the UNIGE’s Faculty of Medicine, have sought to identify which brain factors might be linked to the success or failure of implants.
The two scientists have studied how the brain of a deaf person manages to represent the sound of the spoken word and its capacity of re-using these representations after a cochlear implant. Anne-Lise Giraud explained: ‘The test went like this. We presented some visual stimuli to the subjects, in the form of written word, and asked them to determine whether two words, without the same orthographic ending, rhymed or not - for instance wait and gate. Subjects would then have to recourse to their memory of sounds and, using functional neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques, we observed the neural networks in action.’ Whereas the researchers were expecting that the subjects would be slower and less accurate that those in a control group of people without any hearing difficulty, to their surprise they found that certain deaf people completed the task quicker and more accurately than their normo-hearing counterparts.
For ‘Super-readers’, who appear to be able to handle written words quicker than those with no hearing impediment, the brain has opted to replace orality by written exchanges and has restructured itself accordingly. The brain circuits used by such ‘super-readers’, and which are situated in the right hemisphere, are organized differently and thus cochlear implants give poor results. The other deaf people, those who carried out the task at the same speed as the control subjects, remain anchored to orality and therefore gain more benefit from cochlear implants. Unlike the ‘super-readers’, the latter manage to master lip-reading as deafness encroaches, and therefore maintain a central phonological organization very similar to that of normo-hearing people, which uses the left hemisphere of the brain. There are therefore two categories of subjects whose brain circuits function very differently.
This research points to the essential role played by the interactions between the auditory and visual systems in the success or failure of cochlear implants. Their outcome will indeed depend on this cortical reorganization. For ‘super-readers’, the fact of having adapted to deafness by developing certain “supra-natural” visual capabilities constitutes a handicap for the use of implants. Is it possible to go back in time? ‘It’s difficult to say at the moment,’ says Diane Lazard, ‘but the idea is also to be able to spot in advance the people who will have a propensity for the written stimulus and to offer them active means for remaining with orality, particularly with auditory prostheses and speech therapy used much earlier than is currently practiced.’
But as Anne-Lise Giraud explains, ‘Equally we do not know why certain people quite unconsciously choose one direction rather than the other, but predisposition surely plays a part, because we all learn to integrate auditory and visual information by the time we are three. Certain people manage this better than others and, with deaf people, those who integrate the audio-visual elements best will probably have a tendency to remain more aligned with orality.’ Such results also explain why it is so important to be able to equip congenitally-deaf children during their first few months, i.e. before the onset of the reorganization of the visual and auditory brain circuits, a process which may compromise their ability to access orality.
Up, red : right occipito-temporal coupling during deafness, indicating a poor cochlear implant prognosis.
Below, blue : right occipito-tempora uncoupling after deafness, indicating a good cochlear implant outcome (adapted from Strelnikov et al. 2013). Credit: UNIGE – Institut Vernes, Paris.
Source: Corina Marinescu
From ground-based telescopes, the so-called "ant nebula" (Menzel 3, or Mz 3) resembles the head and thorax of a garden-variety ant. This dramatic NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, showing 10 times more detail, reveals the "ant's" body as a pair of fiery lobes protruding from a dying, Sun-like star.
The Hubble images directly challenge old ideas about the last stages in the lives of stars. By observing Sun-like stars as they approach their deaths, the Hubble Heritage image of Mz 3 - along with pictures of other planetary nebulae - shows that our Sun's fate probably will be more interesting, complex, and striking than astronomers imagined just a few years ago.
NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)