Random Linkage 07/11/09
'Yesterday, the Japanese space agency announced the public release of the data from the primary mission of the Kaguya (a.k.a. SELENE) lunar orbiter. The release covers the period from December 21, 2007 to October 31, 2008, and includes data from all of the science instruments (which excludes the HD camera, not a science instrument). This release formally opens up the data for use by all scientists and enthusiasts around the world, not just the Kaguya science team, and will be a rich resource for lunar scientists.'
Speed Limit To The Pace Of Evolution, Biologists Say
'Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a theoretical model that informs the understanding of evolution and determines how quickly an organism will evolve using a catalogue of "evolutionary speed limits." The model provides quantitative predictions for the speed of evolution on various "fitness landscapes," the dynamic and varied conditions under which bacteria, viruses and even humans adapt.'
Mass extinction blamed on fiery fountains of coal
'FOSSIL fuels have a new crime to live down. A frenzy of hydrocarbon burning at the end of the Permian period may have led to the most devastating mass extinction Earth has ever seen, as explosive encounters between magma and coal released more carbon dioxide in the course of a few years than in all of human history.'
Neutered HIV Virus Delivers Treatment to Fatally Ill Boys
'Researchers may have taken a step towards curing the rare, inherited brain disease made famous by the movie Lorenzo’s Oil–and also towards ushering a new era of gene therapy. To help two young boys suffering from the disease, researchers tried an experimental treatment using a deactivated version of the HIV virus. The virus delivered working copies of a gene to stem cells from the patients’ bone marrows. The HIV virus, stripped of genetic material that makes it toxic, integrates permanently into the DNA of cells it enters, scientists said. That means the modified gene remains in the blood-forming stem cells for the life of the patient.'