Jewelry That Harvests Energy From Your Veins

October 21, 2014 | by Kristy Hamilton

photo credit: Courtesy of Naomi Kizhner

Naomi Kizhner, an industrial designer and graduate student from Hadassah College in Jerusalem, has designed jewelry that theoretically extracts energy from the wearers own body. The ‘speculative’ jewelry is embedded into the person’s veins and uses their blood to turn small wheels inside the device.

Courtesy of Naomi Kizhner

As Naomi notes, the jewelry is not meant to be a practical energy source, but a discussion piece “about how far will we go to in order to ‘feed’ our addiction in the world of declining resources.”

The project is called ‘Energy Addicts’ and consists of three pieces of jewelry: The Blinker, The E-Pulse Conductor, and The Blood Bridge. On her website, she says “The work delves into a world in which there is a significant decline, which forces humanity to seek all the more forcefully for alternative ways of cultivating power. The suggested solution to the dilemma is based on the idea of biological wealth, harvesting energy directly from the body.”

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Earth’s magnetic field could flip in our lifetime

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Earth’s magnetic poles could flip sooner than originally expected. (UC Berkeley)

A pilot looking down at her plane controls and realizing magnetic north is hovering somewhere over Antarctica may sound like a scene from a science-fiction movie, but new research suggests the idea isn’t so far-fetched in the relatively near future.

A magnetic field shift is old news. Around 800,000 years ago, magnetic north hovered over Antarctica and reindeer lived in magnetic south. The poles have flipped several times throughout Earth’s history. Scientists have estimated that a flip cycle starts with the magnetic field weakening over the span of a few thousand years, then the poles flip and the field springs back up to full strength again. However, a new study shows that the last time the Earth’s poles flipped, it only took 100 years for the reversal to happen.

The Earth’s magnetic field is in a weakening stage right now. Data collected this summer by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite suggests the field is weakening 10 times faster than scientists originally thought. They predicted a flip could come within the next couple thousand years. It turns out that might be a very liberal estimate, scientists now say. [Infographic: Explore Earth's Atmosphere Top to Bottom]

“We don’t know whether the next reversal will occur as suddenly as this [previous] one did, but we also don’t know that it won’t,” Paul Renne, director of the Geochronology Center at the University of California, Berkeley,said in a statement.

Geologists still are not sure what causes the planet’s magnetic field to flip direction. Earth’s iron core acts like a giant magnet and generates the magnetic field that envelops the planet. This helps protect against blasts of radiation that erupt from the sun and sometimes hurtle toward Earth. A weakening magnetic field could interrupt power grids and radio communication, and douse the planet in unusually high levels of radiation.

While the ESA satellite studied the magnetic field from above, Renne and a team of researchers studied it from below. The researchers dug through ancient lake sediments exposed at the base of the Apennine Mountains in Italy. Ash layers from long-ago volcanic eruptions are mixed into the sediment. The ash is made of magnetically sensitive minerals that hold traces of Earth’s magnetic field lines, and the researchers were able to measure the direction the field was pointing.

Renne and colleagues then used a technique called argon-argon dating which works because radioactive potassium-40 decays into argon-40 at a known rate to determine the age of the rock sediment. The layers built up over a 10,000-year period, and the researchers could pinpoint where the poles flipped in the rock layers. The last flip happened around 786,000 years ago.

Sudden swap

The sediment layers also showed the magnetic field was unstable for about 6,000 years before the abrupt flip-flop. The period of instability included two low points in the field’s strength, each of which lasted about 2,000 years.

Geologists don’t know where the magnetic field is now in that reversal timescale or if this flip will even follow the same pattern as the last. The bottom line is that no one is sure when it’s coming.

“We don’t really know whether the next reversal is going to resemble the last one, so it’s impossible to say whether we’re just seeing the first of possibly several excursions (slight movements), or a true reversal,” Renne told Live Science in an email.

Magnetic doomsday?

While a pole flip could cause a few technical issues, there’s no need to panic. Scientists have combed the geological timeline for any evidence of catastrophes that might be related to a magnetic flip. They haven’t found any.

The only havoc that a reversal would wreak is interference in the global electric grid. No direct evidence remains of past catastrophes triggered by a magnetic flip.

However, if the magnetic field weakens enough or temporarily disappears during the flip, then the Earth could be hit with dangerous amounts of solar radiation and cosmic rays. The exposure could mean that more people develop cancer, Renne said, though there’s no scientific proof this could happen.

Renne said more research is needed to understand the possible consequences of a shifting magnetic pole.

The new study will be published in the November issue of the Geophysical Journal International.

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World’s Largest Spider Found – Ack!

Goliath encounter: Puppy-sized spider surprises scientist in rainforest

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The South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) is the world’s largest spider, according to Guinness World Records. Its legs can reach up to one foot and it can weight up to 6 oz.. (Piotr Naskrecki)

Piotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat.

“When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing,” said Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

A moment later, he realized he was looking not at a brown, furry mammal, but an enormous, puppy-size spider.

Known as the South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi), the colossal arachnid is the world’s largest spider, according to Guinness World Records. Itsleg span can reach up to a foot (30 centimeters), or about the size of “a child’s forearm,” with a body the size of “a large fist,” Naskrecki told Live Science. And the spider can weigh more than 6 oz., about as much as a young puppy, the scientist wrote on his blog. [See Photos of the Goliath Birdeater Spider]

Some sources say the giant huntsman spider, which has a larger leg span, is bigger than the birdeater. But the huntsman is much more delicate than the hefty birdeater comparing the two would be “like comparing a giraffe to an elephant,” Naskrecki said.

The birdeater’s enormity is evident from the sounds it makes. “Its feet have hardened tips and claws that produce a very distinct, clicking sound, not unlike that of a horse’s hooves hitting the ground,” he wrote, but “not as loud.”

Prickly hairs and 2-inch fangs

When Naskrecki approached the imposing creature in the rainforest, it would rub its hind legs against its abdomen. At first, the scientist thought the behavior was “cute,” he said, but then he realized the spider was sending out a cloud of hairs with microscopic barbs on them. When these hairs get in the eyes or other mucous membranes, they are “extremely painful and itchy,” and can stay there for days, he said. [Creepy-Crawly Gallery: See Spooky Photos of Spiders]

But its prickly hairs aren’t the birdeater’s only line of defense; it also sports a pair of 2-inch-long  fangs. Although the spider’s bite is venomous, it’s not deadly to humans. But it would still be extremely painful, “like driving a nail through your hand,” Naskrecki said.

And the eight-legged beast has a third defense mechanism up its hairy sleeve. The hairs on the front of the spider’s body have tiny hooks and barbs that make a hissing sound when they rub against each other, “sort of like pulling Velcro apart,” Naskrecki said.

Yet despite all that, the spider doesn’t pose a threat to humans. Even if it bites you, “a chicken can probably do more damage,” Naskrecki said.

Bird eater or mostly harmless?

Despite its name, the birdeater doesn’t usually eat birds, although it is certainly capable of killing small mammals. “They will essentially attack anything that they encounter,” Naskrecki said.

The spider hunts in leaf litter on the ground at night, so the chances of it encountering a bird are very small, he said. However, if it found a nest, it could easily kill the parents and the chicks, he said, adding that the spider species has also been known to puncture and drink bird eggs.

The spider will eat frogs and insects, but its main prey is actually earthworms, which come out at night when it’s humid. “Earthworms are very nutritious,” Naskrecki said.

Birdeaters are not very common spiders. “I’ve been working in the tropics in South America for many, many years, and in the last 10 to 15 years, I only ran across the spider three times,” Naskrecki.

After catching the specimen he found in Guyana, which was female, Naskrecki took her back to his lab to study. She’s now deposited in a museum.

 

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Cute Dog Pics for Your Monday Blues!

Nothing helps Monday blues like cute doggies…

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‘Love’ hormone oxytocin regulates female sexual behavior, study suggests

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Previous research shows that the hormone oxytocin stimulates social behavior in humans, but a study published Thursday in the journal Cell suggests the hormone plays an especially strong role in regulating female sexual behavior.

Scientists at The Rockefeller University in New York City genetically modified female mice so that they no longer had an oxytocin response in the prefrontal cortex. As a result, the females no longer approached male mice for mating during the sexually receptive stage of their estrous cycle. In fact, with reduced oxytocin, the female mice showed about as much interest in males as they did in a LEGO block.

The researchers manipulated only a small amount of the neurons— less than 1 percent in the prefrontal cortex, an area known to trigger behavior in mammals, lead author Miho Nakajima, a graduate student at The Rockefeller University, told FoxNews.com.

Senior study author Nathaniel Heintz, a James and Marilyn Simons professor at The Rockefeller University, said the female mice were still interested in males and other females when oxytocin was reduced, but they didn’t show sexual interest.

“When [female] mice are sexually active, this small population [of neurons] is required for female mice to show interest in the male mice,” Heintz, an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, told FoxNews.com.

Researchers found that the change in interest among the male mice was less pronounced than the females’ response when researchers manipulated their oxytocin levels.

“There’s a functional difference in how male mice and female mice responded,” Heintz said.

Past research has shown that oxytocin plays a strong role in partner and mother-child bonding.

A study previously published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology showed that oxytocin levels skyrocket when people fall in love, and that a higher amount of oxytocin is correlated with longer relationships. Another study, in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, suggested that oxytocin improved communication and lowered cortisol, a stress hormone, in both men and women. Many scientists have consequently nicknamed oxytocin the “love” or “pro-social” hormone.

The study authors said further research should explore what oxytocin does at a molecular level, and which brain areas and what types of cells respond to the hormone. Their study explores how oxytocin behaves in just one context.

Other studies have examined whether oxytocin levels can be modified to enhance the social behaviors of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The mental condition impacts 1 in 68 children, and its hallmark is impaired social interaction.

Heintz said his team’s findings could help advance treatment development for ASD.

A study published last year in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that a single dose of oxytocin can increase brain functions responsible for social interaction in children and adolescents with autism. In their research, Yale University scientists found that brain centers associated with reward and emotional cognition responded more during social tasks when the study participants were giving an oxytocin nasal spray rather than a placebo nasal spray.

“Each study gives us more insight into how this [oxytocin] might be acting in humans,” Heintz said.

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Dozens of police agencies report loss of Pentagon-supplied military weapons

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FILE: Aug. 18, 2014: Police in suburban St. Louis after the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer started rancorous protests in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

Images showing high-powered military rifles in the hands of law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of an unarmed black man focused attention on a controversial Pentagon program that supplies that kind of weaponry to local police departments. Now reports reveal how some of those guns have been lost by law enforcement officials who received the weapons.

Take Huntington Beach, Calif., which was given 23 M-16 rifles and has reported one missing.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program, haven’t received anything since 1999,” Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien told ABC News Friday.

O’Brien told the network the lost weapon could have been melted down, but that’s uncertain.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program.”- Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien

“Probably, [it was] one of those things where we used it for parts and the spare parts probably got discarded at some point — but again, it’s inconclusive,” he said. “But we are pretty confident nobody got into our armory and took it.

The program O’Brien was referencing is the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which gives away surplus military weapons to local police departments. In a report Friday the Cox Washington Bureau said Huntington Beach is one of 145 local law enforcement agencies across the country that has been suspended from the program.  Three states — Alabama, North Carolina and Minnesota — also have been suspended.

Cox named some of the banned agencies.

The Daytona Beach Police Department was suspended after reporting a lost M-16 in January.

“We still have not been able to find it,” Daytona Beach Police spokesman Jimmie Flynt told Cox.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office was banned after someone stole a rifle from an employee’s personal vehicle.

“If I knew where it was, I’d go get it,” Undersheriff Jean Donaldson told Cox. “It’s equipment we can obtain at no cost to our budget, so the taxpayers don’t get taxed twice.”

KARK-TV in Arkansas said three law enforcement agencies in the state have been suspended for losing weapons or having weapons stolen: the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office and the Judsonia Police Department.

James Ray, who oversees the 1033 program in Arkansas, told the station officials are worried the missing weapons could end up in the wrong hands.

“I have no reason to believe that, but if we don’t know where they are then hopefully we can get them back,” he said. “I mean they’ve been reported stolen by the law enforcement agencies….”

“It just appears that the Pentagon’s not minding the store, that once the inventory is gone, it’s out of sight, out of mind—and we can’t afford to have weapons of this type walking around the streets,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Tax Payers for Common Sense, told ABC.

A Pentagon spokesman told the station that 8,000 law enforcement agencies participate in the 1033 program and that 98 percent remain in good standing.

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Star Trek Cosplay for Your Saturday!

This cosplay edition for Saturday I decided to focus on Star Trek.  Enjoy!

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