Wednesday, 13 May 2015

(A) Missing link between prokaryotes and complex cells identified

Eukaryotes—fungi, plants, us—are complex. Our large cells are characterized by their different compartments, many of which are neatly enclosed within a boundary of membrane. These compartments contain complex molecular machines that perform equally complex metabolic tasks: they degrade proteins, they splice RNA molecules, they engulf foreign bodies.

Prokaryotes, on the other hand—one celled organisms like bacteria—are simple, with a notable lack of internal membrane enclosed structures (i.e., nuclei) in their one and only cell. It has been assumed that eukaryotes must have somehow evolved from prokaryotes, but it has not been at all clear how that may have happened.

A clue came in 1977, when another branch type of prokaryotic life was discovered: archaea. They are single-celled organisms that lack nuclei and other structures, just like bacteria. But from an evolutionary standpoint, they are about as distant from bacteria as they are from eukaryotes. As soon as archaea were recognized, people started speculating that eukaryotes may have originated within the archaeal branch of life rather than the bacterial branch, or that eukaryotes and archaea might share a common ancestor.

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Surreal Editorial Illustrations by Simon Prades

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Illustrator and graphic designer Simon Prades (previously) delights in the surreal and dreamlike, where silhouettes of faces open portals to other places and strange visual metaphors for difficult subjects are brought vividly to life. Prades works primarily with non-digital mediums like pen and ink, using Photoshop to cleanup and occasionally animate his work for the web. The German illustrator currently freelances for some of the biggest publications around including the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and elsewhere. Shown here is a selection of work from the last two years, but you can explore a bit more on Behance.

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Solar Dynamics Observatory Sees ‘Cinco de Mayo’ Solar Flare

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured these images of a significant solar flare –

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ORNL reports method that takes quantum sensing to new level

Thermal imaging, microscopy and ultra-trace sensing could take a quantum leap with a technique developed by researchers at

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SpaceX’s crewed Dragon spacecraft is ready for its first real test on May 6

SpaceX has announced that the first major test of its Crew Dragon (aka Dragon V2) is expected to take place tomorrow, May 6, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral.

For the first launch of the Crew Dragon capsule, SpaceX will be performing what's known as a pad abort test, which will test the capsule's launch abort capabilities. While the next test after this one (the in-flight abort test) will launch a Crew Dragon using a full-size Falcon 9 rocket, this first test will see the Crew Dragon take off from the launchpad using its own integrated SuperDraco thrusters. The capsule will ascend to around 1500 meters (4,900 feet) before separating from the trunk section; it will then deploy its parachutes and land about 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) down range in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Crew Dragon's launch abort system is very different from how it's usually done. In the case of Mercury, Apollo, and Soyuz, the launch escape is provided by way of a rocket on top of the capsule, which ignites and pulls the crew away from the main launch vehicle. This system works, but unless the rocket is actually used (and you pray it won't be), it is simply extra weight that has to be jettisoned a few minutes after launch. Crew Dragon's launch abort system consists of eight SuperDraco thrusters that are built into the capsule itself, which is much tidier way of doing things.

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Odyssey: Otherworldly Macro Footage of Ink, Oil and Soap Shot by Ruslan Khasanov

Several years ago, Russian graphic designer Ruslan Khasanov was cooking with oil and soy sauce when he stopped to appreciate the strange relationship between the two fluids as the pooled and mixed in unexpected ways. The observation lead to his creation of Pacific Light, a sort of experimental music video meets science project that captures the up-close interactions of ink, oil, and soap. Khasanov just released a follow-up video—now with glitter!—called Odyssey. Music by Ilya Beshevli.

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Havaianas Does Summer 2015


New York has finally hit beach weather. Brazilian brand Havaianas got summer style fans ready to hit the sand. While the Dream Hotel in NYC's Meatpacking District is a long way from the ocean, hidden on their second floor is a tiny pool and beach club, with sand, cabanas and fresh coconuts to fulfill all of your needs.


Every chic destination I have found ventured near a beach has stocked the gigantic range of these colorful flip flop shoes. South Beach, the Hamptons, Santa Monica, Venice Beach... They make them in every color, print, metallic finish or texture imaginable. You can upgrade them with jewels, you'll find your favorite pop culture icons on them, children and men all have an endless selection to choose from as well.

I challenged a PR rep to actually name how many actual styles were offered if she could. She admitted that it was somewhere around 400-600 styles, but beyond that, she was embarrassed to say she couldn't pin down. The company produces so many looks on a constant basis, that it was impossible to keep track.


My fellow New Yorkers and I were treated to pedicures to coordinate with a pair of summer-ready Havaianas. It was fun watching a bunch of wound up writers awkwardly learn to relax into the beach mentality. As you can see, people could not let go of their laptops and phones, even for a moment.

The appeal of Havaianas over other companies making flip flops is their sense of fun and Brazilian pride. They proudly manufacture in their own country with a commitment to sustainability.  They are major supporters of several organizations like the Ecological Institute and Conservation International.

I love how Havaianas has turned casual beach footwear into a fashion statement for all tastes. They even have a bridal collection for those walking down the aisle in the sand. Thank you Havaianas for being the first brand to give me a taste of summer this year!
 
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Boiling down viscous flow

Drizzling honey on toast can produce mesmerizing, meandering patterns, as the syrupy fluid ripples and coils in a

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LRO Moves Closer to the Lunar Surface

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has completed a maneuver that lowered the spacecraft’s orbit to within 20 kilometers

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