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Ferdinand Magellan set out from Spain in 1519 with hopes of claiming the wealth of the Spice Islands, or Moluccas, for the Spanish. Two years later the explorer claimed the first European contact with a Pacific island culture when he landed on Guam – 1,500 miles north of the Spice Islands.

Was he the worst explorer ever? No, says North Carolina State University archaeologist Dr. Scott Fitzpatrick. Magellan’s historic circumnavigation of the globe was beset by unusual weather conditions, like El Niño, which eased his passage across the Pacific Ocean but sent him over a thousand miles off course.

Yes, El Niño, bane or boon to global warming debaters, depending on which side you are on. Screwing us all up then too.


Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Mark Changizi says that actions like catching a football or easily moving through a room full of people requires something more than quickly responding to a situation — it requires our ability to foresee the future.

It takes our brain nearly one-tenth of a second to translate the light that hits our retina into a visual perception of the world around us. While a neural delay of that magnitude may seem minuscule, imagine trying to catch a ball or wade through a store full of people while always perceiving the very recent (one-tenth of a second prior) past. A ball passing within one meter of you and traveling at one meter per second in reality would be roughly six degrees displaced from where you perceive it, and even the slowest forward-moving person can travel at least ten centimeters in a tenth of a second.


Using newly available data on worldwide cancer incidence, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine have shown a clear association between deficiency in exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UVB), and breast cancer.

UVB exposure triggers photosynthesis of vitamin D3 in the body. This form of vitamin D also is available through diet and supplements.

Approximately 1,150,000 cases and 410,000 deaths from breast cancer occur annually worldwide, including 215,000 new cases and 41,000 deaths in the United States.

Parental concerns in maintaining germ-free homes for their children have led to an ever-increasing demand and the rapid adoption of anti-bacterial soaps and cleaning agents. But the active ingredients of those antiseptic soaps now have come under scrutiny by the EPA and FDA, due to both environmental and human health concerns.

Two closely related antimicrobials, triclosan and triclocarban, are at the center of the debacle. Whereas triclosan (TCS) has long captured the attention of toxicologists due to its structural resemblance to dioxin (the Times Beach and Love Canal poison), triclocarban (TCC) has ski-rocketed in 2004 from an unknown and presumably harmless consumer product additive to one of today’s top ten pharmaceuticals and personal care products most frequently found in the environment and in U.S. drinking water resources.

Hydroxyl is made up of a hydrogen and oxygen atom each. It has been found on another planet for the first time - in the upper reaches of the atmosphere of Venus, some 100 km above the surface - by Venus Express’s Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer, VIRTIS. It is thought to be important for any planet’s atmosphere because it is highly reactive. On Earth it has a key role in purging pollutants from the atmosphere.

The OH “radical” is a very special and reactive molecule, which is unusual in conventional chemistry because of its reactivity. This detection gives scientists an important new tool to unlock the workings of Venus’s dense atmosphere.

The elusive molecule was detected by turning the spacecraft away from the planet and looking along the faintly visible layer of atmosphere surrounding the planet’s disc. The instrument detected the hydroxyl molecules by measuring the amount of infrared light that they give off.


Physicists at Penn State say they have provided a mechanism by which information can be recovered from black holes; objects from which, according to Einstein's theory of general relativity, not even light can escape. The team's findings pave the way toward ending a decades-long debate sparked by renowned physicist Steven Hawking.

In the 1970s, Hawking stated that black holes evaporate by quantum processes; however, he asserted that information, such as the identity of matter that is gobbled up by black holes, is permanently lost. At the time, Hawking's assertion threatened to turn quantum mechanics--the most successful physical theory posited by humankind--on its head, since a fundamental tenet of the theory is that information cannot be lost.

Hawking's idea was generally accepted by physicists until the late 1990s, when many began to doubt the assertion. Even Hawking himself renounced the idea in 2004. Yet no one, until now, has been able to provide a plausible mechanism for how information might escape from a black hole. A team of physicists led by Abhay Ashtekar, Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Physics and director of the Penn State Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, say they have discovered such a mechanism. Broadly, their findings expand space-time beyond its assumed size, thus providing room for information to reappear.