Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a long-term autoimmune disease that may affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs. An autoimmune disease means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of neurons (nerve cells) in the corpus striatum of a foetal brain. Each neuron consists of a cell body (red) surrounded by many extensions called dendrites. Dendrites collect information from other neurons or from sensory cells. Each neuron also has one process called an axon, which passes information to other neurons. The corpus striatum, which forms part of the basal ganglia deep in the cerebral hemispheres, is involved in the control of posture and movement.
Image Source: Science Photo Library.
6 Weird Facts About Gravity
Gravity: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone
Here on Earth, we take gravity so for granted that it took an apple falling from a tree to trigger Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation. But gravity, which draws objects together in proportion to their mass, is about much more than fallen fruit. Read on for some of the strangest facts about this universal force.
1. It’s all in your head
Gravity may be pretty consistent on Earth, but our perception of it isn’t. According to research published in April 2011 in the journal PLoS ONE, people are better at judging how objects fall when they’re sitting upright versus lying on their sides.
The finding means that our perception of gravity may be less based on visual cues of gravity’s real direction and more rooted in the orientation of the body. The findings may lead to new strategies to help astronauts deal with microgravity in space.
2. Coming down to Earth is tough
Speaking of astronauts, their experience has shown that a switch to weightlessness and back can be tough on the body. In the absence of gravity, muscles atrophy and bones likewise lose bone mass. According to NASA, astronauts can lose 1 percent of their bone mass per month in space.
When astronauts come back to Earth, their bodies and minds need time to recover. Blood pressure, which has equalized throughout the body in space, has to return to an Earthly pattern in which the heart must work hard to keep the brain nourished with blood. Occasionally, astronauts struggle with that adjustment. In 2006, astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper collapsed at a welcome-home ceremony the day after returning from a Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station.
The mental readjustment can be just as tricky. In 1973, Skylab 2 astronaut Jack Lousma told Time magazine that he’d accidentally smashed a bottle of aftershave in his first days back from a month-long sojourn in space. He’d let go of the bottle in mid-air, forgetting that it would crash to the ground rather than just float there
3. For weight loss, try Pluto
Pluto may no longer be a planet, but it’s still a good bet for lightening up. A 150-pound (68 kilogram) person would weigh no more than 10 pounds (4.5 kg) on the dwarf planet. The planet with the most crushing gravity, on the other hand, is Jupiter, where the same person would weigh more than 354 pounds (160.5 kg).
The planet humans are most likely to visit, Mars, would also leave explorers feeling light-footed. Mars’ gravitational pull is only 38 percent that of Earth’s, meaning a 150-pound person would feel like they weigh about 57 pounds (26 kg).
4. Gravity is lumpy
Even on Earth, gravity isn’t entirely even. Because the globe isn’t a perfect sphere, its mass is distributed unevenly. And uneven mass means slightly uneven gravity.
One mysterious gravitational anomaly is in the Hudson Bay of Canada (shown above). This area has lower gravity than other regions, and a 2007 study finds that now-melted glaciers are to blame.
The ice that once cloaked the area during the last ice age has long since melted, but the Earth hasn’t entirely snapped back from the burden. Since gravity over an area is proportional to the mass atop that region, and the glacier’s imprint pushed aside some of the Earth’s mass, gravity is a bit less strong in the ice sheet’s imprint. The slight deformation of the crust explains 25 percent to 45 percent of the unusually low gravity; the rest may be explained by a downward drag caused the motion of magma in Earth’s mantle (the layer just beneath the crust), researchers reported in the journal Science.
5. Without gravity, some bugs get tougher
Bad news for space cadets: Some bacteria become nastier in space. A 2007 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that salmonella, the bacteria that commonly causes food poisoning, becomes three times more virulent in microgravity. Something about the lack of gravity changed the activity of at least 167 salmonella genes and 73 of its proteins. Mice fed the gravity-free salmonella got sick faster after consuming less of the bacteria.
In other words, Michael Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain” had it wrong: The danger of infection in space may not come from space bugs. It’s more likely our own bugs grown stronger would strike us.
6. Black holes at the center of galaxies
Named because nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational clutches, black holes are some of the most destructive objects in the universe. At the center of our galaxy is a massive black hole with the mass of 3 million suns. Scarier thought? It might be “just resting,” according Kyoto University scientist Tatsuya Inui.
The black hole isn’t really a danger to us Earthlings — it’s both far away and it’s remarkably calm. But sometimes it does put on a show: Inui and colleagues reported in 2008 that the black hole sent out a flare of energy 300 years ago. Another study, released in 2007, found that several thousand years ago, a galactic hiccup sent a small amount of matter the size of Mercury falling into the black hole, leading to another outburst.
The black hole, named Sagittarius A*, is dim compared with other black holes.
“This faintness implies that stars and gas rarely get close enough to the black hole to be in any danger,” Frederick Baganoff, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was involved with the 2007 study, told LiveScience’s sister site SPACE.com. “The huge appetite is there, but it’s not being satisfied.”
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the cancerous cells of a Wilms’ tumour, a type of kidney cancer.
Image Source: Science Photo Library.
GUYS LOOK IT’S CRYSTALLISED WHITE WINE
I LOVE WHITE WINE
1 “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so,” joked Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Scientists aren’t laughing, though. Some speculative new physics theories suggest that time emerges from a more fundamental—and timeless—reality.
2 Try explaining that when you get to work late. The average U.S. city commuter loses 38 hours a year to traffic delays.
3 Wonder why you have to set your clock ahead in March? Daylight Saving Time began as a joke by Benjamin Franklin, who proposed waking people earlier on bright summer mornings so they might work more during the day and thus save candles. It was introduced in the U.K. in 1917 and then spread around the world.
4 Green days. The Department of Energy estimates that electricity demand drops by 0.5 percent during Daylight Saving Time, saving the equivalent of nearly 3 million barrels of oil.
5 By observing how quickly bank tellers made change, pedestrians walked, and postal clerks spoke, psychologists determined that the three fastest-paced U.S. cities are Boston, Buffalo, and New York.
6 The three slowest? Shreveport, Sacramento, and L.A.
7 One second used to be defined as 1/86,400 the length of a day. However, Earth’s rotation isn’t perfectly reliable. Tidal friction from the sun and moon slows our planet and increases the length of a day by 3 milliseconds per century.
8 This means that in the time of the dinosaurs, the day was just 23 hours long.
9 Weather also changes the day. During El Niño events, strong winds can slow Earth’s rotation by a fraction of a millisecond every 24 hours.
10 Modern technology can do better. In 1972 a network of atomic clocks in more than 50 countries was made the final authority on time, so accurate that it takes 31.7 million years to lose about one second.
11 To keep this time in sync with Earth’s slowing rotation, a “leap second” must be added every few years, most recently this past New Year’s Eve.
12 The world’s most accurate clock, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado, measures vibrations of a single atom of mercury. In a billion years it will not lose one second.
13 Until the 1800s, every village lived in its own little time zone, with clocks synchronized to the local solar noon.
14 This caused havoc with the advent of trains and timetables. For a while watches were made that could tell both local time and “railway time.”
15 On November 18, 1883, American railway companies forced the national adoption of standardized time zones.
16 Thinking about how railway time required clocks in different places to be synchronized may have inspiredEinstein to develop his theory of relativity, which unifies space and time.
17 Einstein showed that gravity makes time run more slowly. Thus airplane passengers, flying where Earth’s pull is weaker, age a few extra nanoseconds each flight.
18 According to quantum theory, the shortest moment of time that can exist is known as Planck time, or 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 second.
19 Time has not been around forever. Most scientists believe it was created along with the rest of the universe in the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.
20 There may be an end of time. Three Spanish scientists posit that the observed acceleration of the expanding cosmos is an illusion caused by the slowing of time. According to their math, time may eventually stop, at which point everything will come to a standstill.
Scanning electron micrograph image of cells from a plant xylem.