5 oct. 2006

Quantum information teleported from light to matter

Beaming people in Star Trek fashion is still in the realms of science fiction but physicists in Denmark have teleported information from light to matter bringing quantum communication and computing closer to reality.

Until now scientists have teleported similar objects such as light or single atoms over short distances from one spot to another in a split second.

But Professor Eugene Polzik and his team at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University in Denmark have made a breakthrough by using both light and matter.

"It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium," Polzik explained in an interview on Wednesday.

The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further.

"Teleportation between two single atoms had been done two years ago by two teams but this was done at a distance of a fraction of a millimeter," Polzik, of the Danish National Research Foundation Center for Quantum Optics, explained.

"Our method allows teleportation to be taken over longer distances because it involves light as the carrier of entanglement," he added.

Quantum entanglement involves entwining two or more particles without physical contact.

Although teleportation is associated with the science-fiction series Star Trek, no one is likely to be beamed anywhere soon.

But the achievement of Polzik's team, in collaboration with the theorist Ignacio Cirac of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, marks an advancement in the field of quantum information and computers, which could transmit and process information in a way that was impossible before.

"It is really about teleporting information from one site to another site. Quantum information is different from classical information in the sense that it cannot be measured. It has much higher information capacity and it cannot be eavesdropped on. The transmission of quantum information can be made unconditionally secure," said Polzik whose research is reported in the journal Nature.

Quantum computing requires manipulation of information contained in the quantum states, which include physical properties such as energy, motion and magnetic field, of the atoms.

"Creating entanglement is a very important step but there are two more steps at least to perform teleportation. We have succeeded in making all three steps -- that is entanglement, quantum measurement and quantum feedback," he added.

25 jul. 2006

Device uses waves to "print" on water surface



Researchers at Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen), working in conjunction with professor Shigeru Naito of Osaka University, have developed a device that uses waves to draw text and pictures on the surface of water.

The device, called AMOEBA (Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin), consists of 50 water wave generators encircling a cylindrical tank 1.6 meters in diameter and 30 cm deep (about the size of a backyard kiddie pool). The wave generators move up and down in controlled motions to simultaneously produce a number of cylindrical waves that act as pixels. The pixels, which measure 10 cm in diameter and 4 cm in height, are combined to form lines and shapes. AMOEBA is capable of spelling out the entire roman alphabet, as well as some simple kanji characters. Each letter or picture remains on the water surface only for a moment, but they can be produced in succession on the surface every 3 seconds.

Researchers at Akishima Laboratories have developed similar devices in the past that used waves to draw pictures on the surface of water, but those devices had trouble producing letters with straight lines (such as the letter K). Additionally, it took the previous devices up to 15 minutes of data input time to produce each letter.

The newly developed technology uses improved calculation methods for controlling the wave generators, relying on formulas known as Bessel functions. In addition to being able to draw letters consisting of straight lines, the input time has been drastically reduced to between 15 and 30 seconds for each letter.

Akishima Laboratories expects the technology to be incorporated into amusement devices that combine acoustics, lighting and fountain technology, which they hope to see installed at theme parks and hotels.


30 jun. 2006

Operation to remove light bulb from inmate's anus

Fateh Mohammad, a prison inmate in Pakistan, says he woke up last weekend with a glass light bulb in his anus.

On Wednesday night, doctors brought Mohammad's misery to an end after a one-and-a-half hour operation to remove the object.

"Thanks Allah, now I feel comfort. Today, I had my breakfast. I was just drinking water, nothing else," Mohammad, a grey-beared man in his mid-40s, told Reuters from a hospital bed in the southern central city of Multan.

"We had to take it out intact," said Dr. Farrukh Aftab at Nishtar Hospital. "Had it been broken inside, it would be a very very complicated situation."

Mohammad, who is serving a four-year sentence for making liquor, prohibited for Muslims, said he was shocked when he was first told the cause of his discomfort. He swears he didn't know the bulb was there.

"When I woke up I felt a pain in my lower abdomen, but later in hospital, they told me this," Mohammad said.

"I don't know who did this to me. Police or other prisoners."

The doctor treating Mohammad said he'd never encountered anything like it before, and doubted the felon's story that someone had drugged him and inserted the bulb while he was comatose.

28 jun. 2006

JP Brown's Serious LEGO

Woman in auctions herself with her Ferrari

A woman living in Germany is auctioning off her red Ferrari Enzo sports car and including a little extra in the package -- herself.

The 26-year-old has invited bids on Internet auction site ebay starting at 1.25 million euros (860 thousand pounds). She said she was rich herself, liked her car and was looking for a man who could foot the bill for such a luxury.

"Only a millionaire could afford such a car," said the woman, who gave her name as Leila and said she once worked as a singer in Syria. "I want a man who doesn't like me just for my money."

Leila said she would meet with interested bidders but would need to see the bidder's passport and proof of capital. No bids have been made yet in the auction which ends in a week.

9 may. 2006

Vatican astronomer denounces Creationism as "paganism"

The Vatican Astronomer has denounced Creationism and the idea that the universe was created in seven days as "superstition" and "paganism" at a speech at the Glasgow Science Centre. He also called Papal Infallability a "PR disaster."

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a "kind of paganism" because it harked back to the days of "nature gods" who were responsible for natural events.

Brother Consolmagno argued that the Christian God was a supernatural one, a belief that had led the clergy in the past to become involved in science to seek natural reasons for phenomena such as thunder and lightning, which had been previously attributed to vengeful gods. "Knowledge is dangerous, but so is ignorance. That's why science and religion need to talk to each other," he said.

"Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism - it's turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do."

3 may. 2006

X-Men may be closer than you think

Small damages to sequences in the human genome are causing evolutionary changes in our DNA, according to a group of Japanese geneticists.

Their recent findings prove that a common form of DNA damage caused by oxidation (called 8-oxoG) is a primary cause of mutagenesis, damage to DNA during the genome replication process that causes mutations in the resulting DNA molecules.

Succinctly, the human race is genetically mutating, and we now may know how and why--at least in part.

Japanese geneticist Yusaku Nakabeppu of Kyushu University and his team released their findings Monday in Genome Research.

"Our findings suggest that 8-oxoG is one of the main causes of frequent recombinations and SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in the human genome, which largely contribute to the genomic diversity in human beings," the researchers concluded in their Genome Research journal article.

DNA is made up of four nucleobases: adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. Combinations of these four bases make up the human genome. Among the four bases, guanine is the nucleotide most susceptible to oxidation, and the most common oxidation product of guanine is known as 8-oxoG (8-oxoguanine). It is this prevalent substance that is thought to cause SNPs.

SNPs are subtle changes in chemical pairings found in the DNA sequence. SNPs and frequent recombination of code result in genetic mutation.

These changes in chemical pairings sometimes cluster in one area of the DNA sequence but, until recently, scientists were unsure of why. Nakabeppu and his team have found a causal link between 8-oxoG and clusters of sequence variations in the human genome.

While the specific environmental factors causing the mutation were not part of the research, the study established that the change is not happening in a closed system. The scientists agree with previous studies that have seen exposure to ionizing radiation and other environmental causes as genetic threats, according to their article.

Previously, SNPs were thought to be natural occurrences caused by internal byproduct releases from chemical reactions.

The Japanese researchers used genetic material from two healthy men and two healthy women (all unrelated genetically) in the study.

Scientific American originally disclosed Genome Research's release of the findings.

6 mar. 2006

Detectan en la constelación de Pegaso una colisión intergaláctica | elmundo.es



El telescopio terrestre de Calar Alto, en Almería, y el observatorio espacial 'Spitzer' de la NASA han detectado la colisión de cinco galaxias en la constelación Pegaso, informó el Laboratorio de Propulsión a Chorro (JPL) de la agencia aeroespacial de EEUU.

La enorme onda expansiva de la colisión, a unos 300 millones de años luz de la Tierra y mucho más grande que nuestra Vía Láctea, fue detectada por el telescopio de Calar Alto mediante luz visible y consiste principalmente de hidrógeno candente.

El Observatorio Astronómico hispano-alemán de Calar Alto, en la sierra de los Filabres, cuenta con cuatro telescopios y desde que fue inaugurado en 1980 ha participado en importantes proyectos y es considerado el más importante en la Europa continental.

Un comunicado del JPL indicó que, por su parte, el 'Spitzer' utilizó para las observaciones su espectrógrafo infrarrojo, un instrumento que separa la luz en sus elementos básicos.

Añadió que las imágenes proporcionadas por el observatorio espacial mostraron en el llamado 'Quinteto de Esteban', formado por las cinco galaxias, una explosión "increíblemente turbulenta" de gases formados por moléculas de hidrógeno.

Este tipo de moléculas, a diferencia del hidrógeno atómico, se desprenden de su energía a través de vibraciones detectadas en el espectro infrarrojo.

"Este gas de enorme expansión es el hidrógeno molecular más turbulento que se haya detectado jamás", indicó el JPL, que no aclaró cuándo ocurrió el descubrimiento.

Añadió que los astrónomos quedaron sorprendidos no sólo por la turbulencia del gas, sino también por la enorme fuerza de la emisión.

27 feb. 2006

Descubren en El Cairo un templo con estatuas del faraón Ramses II

Un equipo de arqueólogos egipcios ha descubierto en un barrio de El Cairo los vestigios de un templo de la época del Imperio Medio y Nuevo que estaba decorado con estatuas del faraón Ramsés II (1304 a.C-1237 a.C).

El templo, que fue hallado en el populoso barrio de Ein Shams, forma parte del conjunto de templos que fueron dedicados al culto del Sol en la zona, según informaron fuentes del Consejo Supremo de Antigüedades (CSA).

"En el lugar se encontraron tres estatuas con las facciones del faraón Ramsés II, entre ellas una esculpida en granito rosa, con un peso de entre cinco y seis toneladas y una altura de tres a cuatro metros", dijo Rida Suleimán, uno de los expertos del CSA.

Suleimán indicó que las otras dos esculturas de Ramsés II corresponden a un busto, también en granito rosado, de 2,5 toneladas de peso, y una estatua sedente esculpida en piedra arenisca, en cuya espalda se grabaron jeroglíficos.

La cuarta pieza, esculpida en granito rosa y que pesa entre una y dos toneladas, representa al faraón Sesostris I, perteneciente a la XII dinastía del Imperio Medio, que gobernó Egipto entre los años 2040 y 1777 antes de Cristo, agregó Suleiman.

El experto del CSA informó de que también se descubrió un conjunto de pequeñas figuras en piedra caliza que datan del rey Amenofis IV, de su esposa Nefertiti, y su suegra Titi, que datan de la XVII dinastía.

Donde ahora se encuentra Ein Shams, se hallaba el santuario de "Un", el centro de culto solar más importante del dios solar Ra en la era predinástica. "También "Un" se destacó porque sus sacerdotes inventaron el primer calendario solar, y porque acogió la primera universidad del mundo que enseñó la ciencia de la astronomía.

23 feb. 2006

Hubble Confirms Two New Moons of Pluto


Astronomers using NASA´s Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the presence of two new moons around the distant planet Pluto. The moons were first discovered with Hubble´s Advanced Camera for Surveys in May 2005, but the science team probed even deeper into the Pluto system on Feb. 15, 2006 to look for additional satellites and to characterize the orbits of the moons. In addition to verifying the reality of the moons, the observations also rule out the possibility of other satellites of roughly similar size orbiting Pluto inside the orbits of the two moons. The moons, provisionally designated S/2005 P 1 and S/2005 P 2, are approximately 40,000 and 30,000 miles away from Pluto, respectively. In the Hubble image, Pluto is in the center and Charon is just below it. P 1 is to the right and just below Charon. P 2 is to the right of Pluto and Charon. Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory), A. Stern (Southwest Research Institute) and the HST Pluto Companion Search
Team

Anxiously awaited follow-up observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the presence of two new moons around the distant planet Pluto. The moons were first discovered by Hubble in May 2005, but the science team probed even deeper into the Pluto system last week to look for additional satellites and to characterize the orbits of the moons.

Though the team had little doubt the moons are real, they were happy to see the moons show up very close to the locations predicted from the earlier Hubble observations. The initial discovery is being reported today in this week's edition of the British science journal Nature.

The confirmation reinforces the emerging view that the Kuiper Belt, a swarm of icy bodies encircling the solar system beyond Neptune, may be more complex and dynamic than astronomers once thought. Pluto resides inside the Kuiper Belt and is about 3 billion miles from the Sun. Pluto was discovered in 1930.

The moons' orbits are in the same plane as the orbit of the much larger satellite Charon (discovered in 1978). This likely means the moons were not captured, but instead were born, along with Charon, in what is commonly theorized to have been a titanic collision between two Pluto-sized objects over 4 billion years ago.

A team of astronomers, led by Hal Weaver of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., made the new observations on Feb. 15, 2006, with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

The team used the sharp vision of the ACS to do a targeted search of the region around and inside the orbits of the twin moons. In addition to confirming the reality of the new moons, the observations also rule out the possibility of other satellites of roughly similar size orbiting Pluto inside the orbits of the two moons. The moons, provisionally designated S/2005 P 1 and S/2005 P 2, are approximately 40,000 and 30,000 miles away from Pluto, respectively.

Astronomers believe that the formation of the Pluto system is similar to that of our Earth and Moon. In both cases a comparable-sized body slammed into the parent planet. Simulations show that debris from the collision would go into an orbit around the planet and coalesce to form one or more satellites. Investigating how Pluto ended up with three moons while the Earth has only one should yield valuable insights into the processes by which satellite systems form around planets.

The team will use Hubble again on March 2 to study the new moons. They hope the follow-up observations will provide information on the moons' color, as well as their size and shape, which could yield further clues about the formation and evolution of the Pluto system.

In the Hubble image, Pluto is in the center and Charon is just below it. P 1 is to the right and just below Charon. P 2 is to the right of Pluto and Charon.

14 feb. 2006

Un físico de EEUU presentará hoy la solución a la ecuación del campo gravitatorio de Einstein

La comunidad científica está expectante ante el anuncio del físico Franklin Felber, quien promete que presentará hoy una nueva solución exacta a la ecuación de campo gravitatorio formulada por Albert Einstein hace 90 años.

Felber, un físico estadounidense con 30 años de carrera en las Fuerzas Armadas, dijo que revelará su solución a las 19.00 GMT ante centenares de científicos que asisten en Albuquerque (Nuevo México) al Foro de Tecnología Espacial y Aplicaciones.

La solución a la que ha llegado Felber es la primera que resuelve incógnitas creadas por masas que se mueven a una velocidad cercana a la de la luz, de 300.000 kilómetros por segundo.

Según los científicos que han hecho la revisión crítica de la solución de Felber, su descubrimiento resuelve dos de los mayores problemas del viaje espacial a altas velocidades.

Por un lado, la identificación de una fuente de energía capaz de producir la aceleración y, por otro, la gestión de las presiones sobre humanos y equipos durante la aceleración.

La ecuación de campos de Einstein es una ecuación diferencial en la teoría general de la relatividad, que describe cómo la materia y la energía cambian la geometría del espacio-tiempo. Esta geometría curva se interpreta como el campo gravitatorio de la fuente de materia.

Entre los factores de la ecuación de Einstein se incluyen la conservación de energía e impulso, la no linealidad de las ecuaciones de campo y el principio de correspondencia. Esta ecuación de campo de la Teoría General de la Relatividad de Einstein jamás se ha resuelto antes para calcular el campo gravitatorio de una masa que se mueva a una velocidad cercana a la de la luz.

"La investigación de Felber representa una revolución en la mecánica del vuelo espacial, ya que ofrece una modalidad totalmente nueva para el envío de naves espaciales", afirmó Eric Davis, del Instituto de Estudios Avanzados de Austin (EEUU).

"Su pensamiento, realmente único y que se ha probado de forma rigurosa, representa un enorme paso adelante para hacer que sean posibles los viajes espaciales a velocidades próximas a la de la luz, de manera mucho menos costosa", añadió. Davis es uno de los científicos que hizo la revisión crítica de la propuesta de Felber.

La investigación de Felber indica que cualquier masa que se mueva más rápido que un 57,7% de la velocidad de la luz -esto es, que se traslade a más de 173.100 kilómetros por segundo- repelerá gravitatoriamente otras masas que estén dentro de un "haz de antigravedad" frente a la masa en movimiento.

Cuanto más se aproxime la velocidad de esa masa a la velocidad de la luz, más fuerte será su "haz antigravedad", agrega el estudio. Los cálculos de Felber muestran asimismo cómo se puede usar la repulsión de un cuerpo que viaja por el espacio para obtener la enorme energía necesaria para acelerar enormes cargas, de forma rápida y con poca presión.

Según los científicos que ya conocen la respuesta de Felber a la ecuación de campo de Einstein, la aceleración de una carga de una tonelada al 90% de la velocidad de la luz requiere una energía equivalente a 30.000 millones de toneladas de dinamita.

En el "haz antigravedad" de una estrella que se desplaza rápidamente por el espacio, una carga podría usar la enorme fuerza antigravedad de la masa de la estrella.

7 feb. 2006

Eden

A team of international scientists say they have found a "lost world" in an Indonesian jungle, home to dozens of new species of animals and plants.

"It's as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," said Bruce Beehler, co-leader of the team.

The scientists claim to have discovered 20 frog species, four butterfly species and at least five new types of palms.

But their discoveries will have to be reviewed by peers before being officially classified as new species.

The team - from the US, Indonesia and Australia - surveyed a region near the Foja Mountains in Papua province in eastern Indonesia, which covers an area of more than a million hectares (two million acres) of forest.

"There was not a single trail, no sign of civilisation, no sign of even local communities ever having been there," Mr Beehler told the Associated Press.

He said that even two local tribesmen, who accompanied the scientists, were astonished at the area's isolation.

"As far as they knew, neither of their clans had ever been to the area," Mr Beehler said.

Unafraid of humans

One of the team's most remarkable discoveries was a honey-eater bird with a bright orange patch on its face - the first new bird species to be sighted in the area for more than 60 years.

Map
They also found a Golden-Mantled Tree Kangaroo, which was previously thought to have been hunted to near-extinction, and took the first known photographs of the Berlepsch's Six-Wired Bird of Paradise, first described by hunters in the 19th Century.

Mr Beehler said some of the creatures the team came into contact with were remarkably unafraid of humans.

Two Long-Beaked Echidnas, primitive egg-laying mammals, even allowed scientists to pick them up and bring them back to their camp to be studied, he added.

The December 2005 expedition was organised by the US-based organisation Conservation International, together with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

The team admit that in their month-long trip, they did not have enough time to survey the area completely.

"We just scratched the surface," Mr Beehler told reporters. "Anyone who goes there will come back with a mystery."

Mr Beehler himself hopes to return later this year.

30 ene. 2006

La cubierta de las naves espaciales podrá auto-repararse

Dentro de poco los paseos espaciales en los que vemos a los astronautas reparando las cubiertas de sus transbordadores serán historia, con lo que molaba verlos con sus trajes y esas herramientas tan chulas.

Pues han sido científicos de Bristol, Inglaterra, los que les han chafado el plan. Acaban de concluír el estudio de una cubierta especial para las aeronaves que tiene un funcionamiento similar a la piel humana, ya que podrá regenerarse en caso de que se vea desgarrada por algún incidente.

Al parecer, este material estaría compuesto de cientos de pequeños filamentos huecos de cristal, de unas 60 micras de anchura. El interior de la mitad de ellos estaría rellenado de un polímero o resina que, en caso de rotura, reaccionaría con un potente agente químico del que estarían rellenos la otra mitad de los filamentos.

Éstos están diseñados para romperse con facilidad en caso de que la cubierta sufra algún daño, de manera que el posible agujero se viera reparado casi instantáneamente, dando tiempo así a una posterior reparación más exhaustiva si fuera necesaria.

26 ene. 2006

Descubren un planeta en el centro de la Vía Láctea similar a la Tierra

Un equipo formado por 73 astrónomos de 12 países diferentes ha descubierto un planeta similar a la Tierra a unos 20.000 millones de años luz, cerca del centro de la Vía Láctea. Según los científicos, se trata de un lugar con una atmósfera similar a la terráquea, aunque mucho más frío, un lugar idóneo para investigar la posible existencia de vida extraterrestre.

Según una investigación que publica esta semana la revista Nature, y en la que han participado astrónomos de universidades como Princeton o Saint Andrews, entre otras, el planeta "OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb" tiene una masa cinco veces mayor a la de la Tierra y orbita alrededor de una estrella que es cinco veces más pequeña que el Sol.

Se trata de un lugar rocoso, congelado -con una temperatura en la superficie de unos 220 grados bajo cero, similar a la de Plutón-, probablemente con océanos subterráneos de agua congelada y está localizado a unos 20.000 años luz de la Tierra, en plena constelación de Sagitario, aproximadamente en el centro de la Vía Láctea.

A pesar de que los científicos no creen que en este planeta haya ene stos momentos vida -por las bajas temperaturas- sí ven una esperanza a que la utilización de esta tecnología permita encontrar pequeños planetas incisibles hasta ahora a las lentes humanas y que puedan tener "zonas habitables", sobre toro orbitando alrededor de estrellas cuyas temperaturas podrían permitir que hubiera agua líquida en sus superficies.

El profesor Keith Horne, de la Universidad de St. Andrews, que ha colaborado en estos estudios, dijo que el próximo objetivo es encontrar más, con el fin de establecer si abundan o no planetas habitables, similares a la Tierra. "Si abundan, el próximo paso será la búsqueda de vida en esos planetas", afirmó Horne.

"Aún no hemos encontrado un verdadero análogo a la Tierra, pero al menos sabemos que planetas pequeños existen y son más calientes o más fríos que la Tierra", explicó el profesor Martin Dominik, también de la Universidad de St. Andrew.

El otro planeta parecido a la Tierra y que está más cerca es "GJ 876", que tiene 7,5 veces más masa que la Tierra, pero es demasiado caluroso para la existencia de vida.

El exoplaneta -denominación que los astrónomos dan a los planetas extrasolares- fue descubierto gracias a la aplicación de una nueva técnica para la detección de planetas, denominada efecto de microlentes gravitacionales. Un planeta que no es visible con ningún telescopio terrestre se delata por su gravedad, que según la Teoría de la Relatividad de Albert Einstein desvía la luz y distorsiona el brillo de una estrella ubicada en el fondo cuando un objeto pasa entre ella y el telescopio.

La Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork (PLANET) es una red de trabajo de pruebas de anomalías de brillo en la que astrofísicos de 12 países buscan este tipo de fenómenos.

Otros tres exoplanetas fueron hallados los años pasados gracias a este método. En total se conocen más de 150 planetas fuera de nuestro Sistema Solar, pero suelen ser mucho más grandes que la Tierra.

12 ene. 2006

Polymer Nanoparticle Kills Tumors

Photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses a light-sensitive chemical known as a photosensitizer to produce cell-killing “reactive oxygen,” has become an important option for the treatment of esophageal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Current photosensitizers, however, produce significant side effects, including sensitivity to the sun, that limits their wider use in treating cancer.

In an attempt to both eliminate those side effects and increase the anticancer activity of photosensitizers, a multi-institutional research team led by Ralph Weissleder, M.D., co-director of the MIT-Harvard Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, has developed a polymer nanoparticle to ferry photosensitizers into cancer cells, where they can then unleash their potent cell-killing effects. The investigators report their work in the journal Nano Letters.

Dr. Weissleder and his colleagues created nanoparticles from a biodegradable polymer known as poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), and used these nanoparticles to encapsulate a photosensitizer designed to aggregate, or clump together, within the nanoparticle. Such aggregation prevents the photosensitizer molecules from being activated by light, rendering them non-toxic while circulating in the bloodstream. But once the nanoparticles are taken up by cancer cells, they fall apart and release the photosensitizer molecules, which then disaggregate. As a result, the photosensitizers become active once more and can kill cancer cells when irradiated with light. When stored in the dark at room temperature, the nanoparticle-photosensitizer formulation is stable for 6 to 12 months.

Experiments using cancer cells grown in culture dishes showed conclusively that the nanoparticle-photosensitizer formulation had little toxicity to cells unless taken up within the cells. The investigators also conducted tests in which they injected this formulation into tumor-bearing mice and then administered light therapy 24 hours later. This experiment confirmed that the nanoparticle-borne photosensitizer accumulated in tumor cells and was capable of killing those cells when exposed to light.

This work, funded in part by the National Cancer Institute, is detailed in a paper titled, “Polymeric nanoparticle preparation that eradicates tumors.” Investigators from the University of Connecticut and the University of Central Florida also participated in this study. An abstract is available through PubMed.

Source: National Cancer Institute

¿Está Dios detrás de la traición de Judas a Cristo?

Por 30 monedas vendió Judas Iscariote a Jesucristo, al que identificó como tal ante los soldados romanos en el jardín de Getsemaní, lo que llevó a su detención y posterior crucifixión, según el relato de la Biblia. Esa delación, considerada por san Lucas como fruto de una “posesión satánica”, podría haber sido simplemente “su papel a la hora de que se cumpliera el plan de Dios”. Así lo afirman los promotores de una campaña, liderada por el religioso Walter Brandmuller, que apuestan por rehabilitar la figura de Judas.

Brandmuller, director del Comité Pontifical de Ciencia Histórica, ha instado a sus colegas del Vaticano a “releer” la historia de Judas. Cuenta con el respaldo del escritor especializado en temas católicos Vittorio Messori, cercano tanto al anterior papa, Juan Pablo II, como al actual, Benedicto XVI; este autor que cree la rehabilitación de Judas “resolvería el problema que entraña la aparente falta de caridad por parte de Jesús hacia uno de sus colaboradores más cercanos”.

Según informa el diario británico The Times, varios expertos en el estudio de la Biblia considera que Judas fue “víctima de un libelo teológico que ayudó a crear el antisemitismo”, generando a su alrededor la imagen de un “villano siniestro” dispuesto a la traición a cambio de dinero.

Esta campaña coincide con la futura publicación de un supuesto evangelio según Judas, que aunque no fue escrito por éste si parece reflejar la creencia extendida entre los primeros cristianos (y que ahora gana terreno en el Vaticano) de que, al facilitar la crucifixión de Cristo, Judas estaba permitiendo que se cumpliera el plan de Dios.

Sin embargo, algunas voces dentro del Vaticano han mostrado su preocupación por la rehabilitación de Judas. El teólogo Giovanni D’Ercole ha afirmado que es “peligroso revisar el papel de Judas y ensuciar la narración de los Evangelios con textos apócrifos. Podría generar confusión entre los creyentes”.

4 ene. 2006

Did Jesus exist? Italian court to decide

An Italian court is tackling Jesus -- and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.

The case pits against each other two men in their 70s, who are from the same central Italian town and even went to the same seminary school in their teenage years.

The defendant, Enrico Righi, went on to become a priest writing for the parish newspaper. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, became a vocal atheist who, after years of legal wrangling, is set to get his day in court later this month.

"I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression," Cascioli told Reuters.

Cascioli says Righi, and by extension the whole Church, broke two Italian laws. The first is "Abuso di Credulita Popolare" (Abuse of Popular Belief) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is "Sostituzione di Persona", or impersonation.

"The Church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala," Cascioli claimed, referring to the 1st century Jew who fought against the Roman army.

A court in Viterbo will hear from Righi, who has yet to be indicted, at a January 27 preliminary hearing meant to determine whether the case has enough merit to go forward.

"In my book, The Fable of Christ, I present proof Jesus did not exist as a historic figure. He must now refute this by showing proof of Christ's existence," Cascioli said.

Speaking to Reuters, Righi, 76, sounded frustrated by the case and baffled as to why Cascioli -- who, like him, came from the town of Bagnoregio -- singled him out in his crusade against the Church.

"We're both from Bagnoregio, both of us. We were in seminary together. Then he took a different path and we didn't see each other anymore," Righi said.

"Since I'm a priest, and I write in the parish newspaper, he is now suing me because I 'trick' the people."

Righi claims there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of Jesus, including historical texts.

He also claims that justice is on his side. The judge presiding over the hearing has tried, repeatedly, to dismiss the case -- prompting appeals from Cascioli.

"Cascioli says he didn't exist. And I said that he did," he said. "The judge will to decide if Christ exists or not."

Even Cascioli admits that the odds are against him, especially in Roman Catholic Italy.

"It would take a miracle to win," he joked.

Nasa ve explosión en la Luna

Los científicos de la agencia espacial estadounidense avistaron un destello causado por un meteoro que se estrelló contra el satélite.

La explosión fue igual en energía a lo que generaría una deflagración de cerca de 70 kilos de dinamita y fue vista al borde de lo que se conoce como Mare Imbrium o el Mar de las Lluvias.

El destelló se observó el 7 de noviembre, el meteoro de al parecer 12 centímetros de diámetro, golpeó la superficie lunar a una velocidad de 27 kilómetros por segundo.

El objeto formaba probablemente parte de una lluvia de meteoritos que impactaron a la Tierra entre octubre y noviembre, pero a diferencia de la Tierra, la luna no tiene atmósfera que los intercepte y los vaporice, por lo que explotaron en su superficie.

"Fue una sorpresa", señaló el investigador del Marshall Space Flight Center de la NASA, Rob Suggs, quién registró el impacto.

Suggs estaba probando un telescopio y una cámara de video que se había montado para observar estallidos en el espacio cuando avizoró la explosión lunar.

Mucho por ver

"La gente ya no mira a la Luna más", dijo el doctor Suggs, y agregó, "tendemos a creer que es algo que ya sabemos, pero aún hay conocimiento por adquirir".

El científico de la NASA utilizó un programa de computador comercial para observar el video que registró del evento.

Desde 2001, los astrónomos no se han dedicado mucho a observar y buscar impactos lunares.

Sin embargo, siendo que Nasa piensa visitar el satélite en 2020, la agencia cree que necesita entender qué es lo que sucede una vez ocurren los impactos lunares para proteger a los astronautas.