January 07, 2012

Orion Spacecraft Goes for a Dive

Last Friday, a mock-up of the Orion spacecraft was put into the worst landing scenarios a spacecraft can have while ascending down back to earth.
What the test encompassed is parachutes being deployed at an impact pitch of 42 degrees, which is a very high impact for something like that. The capsule got to around 47 MPH before it hit the water, flipped over, and reached the Stable 2 position. The video of the test can be seen below from a few view points. Enjoy!

January 06, 2012

SETI Detects First Signal

But it's sadly not what we think it is. SETI has detected it's first signal from none other than ourselves. While they were focusing the planets that Kepler has found which have earth-like features, the transmission that SETI received was nothing more than terrestrial radio frequency interference, or RFI for short.

Now, this isn't ALL bad news, because what this has helped do was prepare scientists at SETI to understand and know just what a radio interference from another planet might be like. Hopefully, in the future they will have more experience in knowing whether a signal was, sadly, from our own planet or from another one in the great beyond.

January 05, 2012

We've created Chimera Monkeys!

The first ever chimeric monkeys have been created at the Oregon National Primate Research Center by combining more than one embryo. Actually, they combined up to six! Now, they didn't combine more than one species of monkey. In fact, all the embryos were Rhesus monkey embryos, but that doesn't make this news story any less amazing.

The three monkey that were born, twins and a singleton, have up to 6 distinct genomes in them! The monkeys seem to be very healthy and have no birth defects, and considering how risky this controversial experiment was (which has never been done in primates before) this is good news.

Now, you might be wondering why we needed to create chimeric monkeys, and that's because we wanted to know whether or not stem cells that are injected into the body would turn into tissues. The answer? Not exactly. Chimeric monkeys were only created when they merged young embryos together, and not when stem cells were injected into an early-stage embryo.

This is bad news for us humans as well, because this means that we would face problems when trying to grow new tissues in humans from stem cells. Now of course, there are those that are against any type of stem cell research and are glad to know that this can't happen or else we'll have chimeric people walking around (even though we already do. Chimeric people can be formed when two early embryos in a mothers womb merge together. A video below will show you the cute little monkeys, although I suggest turning up your volume because I had trouble hearing what the scientists were saying.
Roku and Hex from OHSU News on Vimeo.

January 04, 2012

The Atra-Hasis

Now, we all know that Mormons believe that God used to be a man, and the ascended to godhood. Therefore, God had  parents, grandparents, grand-grandparents, and so on.

This belief was obviously not only held by Mormons, but a good example of someone else who did were the ancient Babylonians. In one Babylonian poem called Atra-Hasis, where there is the following line: "inuma ilu awilu" which means "when Gods were once men". The myth generally talked about how Gods and men were created, the tasks they did, and other things. The poem also reveals similar characteristics between men and Gods. It was also believed that men were made out of clay and the blood of a God of knowledge. Therefore, ancient Babylonians believed that they had the sacred gift of knowledge from the God, as long as an undying spirit.