Links ‘n Things Monday (3/18/13)

I walked outside this morning to take the dog out and it was snowing. It’s March 18th and we still haven’t had a 50 degree day here in Chicago this month! Arg. I’m sick of winter. Last year by this time we’d had a few 80 degree days already. OK, enough of my complaining. Big week for science stuff – Higgs Boson news, space news, mummy news…all pretty exciting stuff. Enjoy!

1.) Here’s the article about the study that has been done on mummified humans showing that people 1500-2000 years ago had arterial calcium deposits suggesting that they suffered from clogged arteries. This is a blow to the theory that the “modern” diet is to blame for a high incidence of heart disease in the U.S. (and other developed countries). As the article points out, this doesn’t mean you should go and eat a bunch of junk-food – but it does suggest that other factors (such as aging) may play a larger role in heart disease that diet does. My personal comment on this article is to say that while it’s easy to blame diet on some of the ills of modern society, it’s worth nothing that the life expectancy of people today are quite a bit higher than it was in ancient Egyptian times: http://www.livescience.com/27778-mummies-clogged-arteries-universal.html

2.) If you’re a space-junkie, chances are you’ve already seen this – but last week SpaceX tested their “Grasshopper” rocket successfully (for the 4th time). Imagine every sci-fi movie you’ve ever seen and how they all depict spacecraft taking off an landing vertically…well, Grasshopper does just that, except that it’s a rocket. SpaceX is doing a lot of cool things lately including the successful docking of a SpaceX craft with the International Space Station last week. Here’s a video of the rocket test: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/03/second-spacex-launch-hovers/

3.) There are people who are vastly more in-tune with YouTube than I am, but last week I came across a set of videos that I thought were out-of-this-world cool – somewhat literally. Captain Chris Hadfield, a Canadian currently living on and commanding the International Space Station (ISS), has become somewhat of an internet sensation lately, posting videos about regular every-day life on the Space Station. Here are a few videos – super cool stuff, I just love hearing his explanations of simple stuff in Space. Video 1 Video 2 Video 3

4.) A few months ago, in our monthly e-newsletter, I reviewed a book I had read called “The Emperor of all Maladies” which was essentially a biography on cancer and cancer treatment. Well, here is real-life, cutting-edge cancer research that is bearing fruit. Plexxikon announced in January that tests on a new drug that treats a deadly form of skin cancer were more effective than chemo therapy treatments of the same condition. The full results of the study will be released later this year: http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco/2011/01/19/plexxikon-roche-drug-extends-lives-in-patients-with-deadly-skin-cancer/

5.) Interesting article on the ChemicalProcessing.com website about the algae boom in the U.S. One company that is in this space that the article didn’t mention is a company called Aurora Algae based out of California. They have a research facility here in the U.S. and an algae farm in Australia. Pretty interesting field: http://www.chemicalprocessing.com/articles/2013/algae-cultivation-technologies-begin-to-bloom/

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