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“Dietary fiber was selectively turning off part of our immune system, while turning on another, completely unrelated part of our immune system,“ Marsland concluded. The aspects of the immune system that cause inflammation were being dialed down, reducing damage to lung cells, just as occurs for allergies and asthma in the presence of SCFAs. On the other hand, Marsland reported in Immunity, the T-cells that kill cells infected by pathogens became far more active, providing a powerful viral defense.
Aurélien Trompette, Eva S. Gollwitzer, Céline Pattaroni, Isabel C. Lopez-Mejia, Erika Riva, Julie Pernot, Niki Ubags, Lluis Fajas, Laurent P. Nicod, Benjamin J. Marsland. Dietary Fiber Confers Protection against Flu by Shaping Ly6c − Patrolling Monocyte Hematopoiesis and CD8 T Cell Metabolism. Immunity, 2018; 48 (5): 992 DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2018.04.022
A comparison of the response to a low-fiber diet, and one rich in soluble fiber in the context of influenza infection. Trompette et al/Immunity
Science Launching to Station Looks Forward and Back
Some of the earliest human explorers used mechanical tools called sextants to navigate vast oceans and discover new lands. Today, high-tech tools navigate microscopic DNA to discover previously unidentified organisms. Scientists aboard the International Space Station soon will have both types of tools at their disposal.
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to launch its ninth contracted cargo resupply mission to the space station no earlier than May 21. Sending crucial science, supplies and cargo to the crew of six humans living and working on the orbiting laboratory.
Our Gemini missions conducted the first sextant sightings from a spacecraft, and designers built a sextant into Apollo vehicles as a lost-communications navigation backup. The Sextant Navigation investigation tests use of a hand-held sextant for emergency navigation on missions in deep space as humans begin to travel farther from Earth.
Jim Lovell (far left) demonstrated on Apollo 8 that sextant navigation could return a space vehicle home.
The remoteness and constrained resources of living in space require simple but effective processes and procedures to monitor the presence of microbial life, some of which might be harmful. Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) advances the use of sequencing processes to identify microbes aboard the space station that current methods cannot detect and to assess mutations in the microbial genome that may be due to spaceflight.
Genes in Space 3 performed in-flight identification of bacteria on the station for the first time. BEST takes that one step farther, identifying unknown microbial organisms using a process that sequences directly from a sample with minimal preparation, rather than with the traditional technique that requires growing a culture from the sample.
Adding these new processes to the proven technology opens new avenues for inflight research, such as how microorganisms on the station change or adapt to spaceflight.
The investigation’s sequencing components provide important information on the station’s microbial occupants, including which organisms are present and how they respond to the spaceflight environment – insight that could help protect humans during future space exploration. Knowledge gained from BEST could also provide new ways to monitor the presence of microbes in remote locations on Earth.
Moving on to science at a scale even smaller than a microbe, the new Cold Atom Lab (CAL) facility could help answer some big questions in modern physics.
CAL creates a temperature ten billion (Yup. BILLION) times colder than the vacuum of space, then uses lasers and magnetic forces to slow down atoms until they are almost motionless. CAL makes it possible to observe these ultra-cold atoms for much longer in the microgravity environment on the space station than would be possible on the ground.
Results of this research could potentially lead to a number of improved technologies, including sensors, quantum computers and atomic clocks used in spacecraft navigation.
A partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Space Application Services (SpaceAps), The International Commercial Experiment, or ICE Cubes Service, uses a sliding framework permanently installed on the space station and “plug-and-play” Experiment Cubes.
The Experiment Cubes are easy to install and remove, come in different sizes and can be built with commercial off-the-shelf components, significantly reducing the cost and time to develop experiments.
ICE Cubes removes barriers that limit access to space, providing more people access to flight opportunities. Potential fields of research range from pharmaceutical development to experiments on stem cells, radiation, and microbiology, fluid sciences, and more.
For daily nerd outs, follow @ISS_Research on Twitter!
Watch the Launch + More!
What’s On Board Briefing
Join scientists and researchers as they discuss some of the investigations that will be delivered to the station on Saturday, May 19 at 1 p.m. EDT at nasa.gov/live. Have questions? Use #askNASA
CubeSat Facebook Live
The International Space Station is often used to deploy small satellites, a low-cost way to test technology and science techniques in space. On board this time, for deployment later this summer, are three CubeSats that will help us monitor rain and snow, study weather and detect and filter radio frequency interference (RFI).
Join us on Facebook Live on Saturday, May 19 at 3:30 p.m. EDT on the NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility page to hear from experts and ask them your questions about these small satellites.
Tune in live at nasa.gov/live as mission managers provide an overview and status of launch operations at 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 20. Have questions? Use #askNASA
Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.
Lead Pollution Recorded in Deep Greenland Ice Shows Rise and Fall of Ancient Civilizations
Physicists Measure Pressure Distribution inside Proton
Pirate Blackbeard’s Newly Recovered Cannon to be Shared with Public
GREENVILLE, N.C. — Just in from the Atlantic Ocean, the 23rd cannon recovered from the Queen Anne’s Revenge wreck site will be one of the stars of the free Open House at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab in Greenville Nov. 15, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The 4 foot cannon and other artifacts recovered during the Oct. 6-27 expedition will be displayed. It’s an ideal opportunity for those fascinated by pirates, archaeology and interested in conservation. No registration is required.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge was the flagship of the famous pirate known as Blackbeard, or Edward Teach, whose ship ran aground and sank off Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina in 1718. Read more.
I have had this on my mind for days, someone please help:
Why are dogs dogs?
I mean, how do we see a pug and then a husky and understand that both are dogs? I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a picture of a breed of dog I hadn’t seen before and wondered what animal it was.
Do you want the Big Answer or the Small Answers cos I have a feeling this is about to get Intense
Oooh okay are YOU gonna answer this, hang on I need to get some snacks and make sure the phone is off.
The short answer is “because they’re statistically unlikely to be anything else.”
The long question is “given the extreme diversity of morphology in dogs, with many subsets of ‘dogs’ bearing no visual resemblance to each other, how am I able to intuit that they belong to the ‘dog’ set just by looking?”
The reason that this is a Good Big Question is because we are broadly used to categorising Things as related based on resemblances. Then everyone realized about genes and evolution and so on, and so now we have Fun Facts like “elephants are ACTUALLY closely related to rock hyraxes!! Even though they look nothing alike!!”
These Fun Facts are appealing because they’re not intuitive.
So why is dog-sorting intuitive?
Well, because if you eliminate all the other possibilities, most dogs are dogs.
To process Things - whether animals, words, situations or experiences - our brains categorise the most important things about them, and then compare these to our memory banks. If we’ve experienced the same thing before - whether first-hand or through a story - then we know what’s happening, and we proceed accordingly.
If the New Thing is completely New, then the brain pings up a bunch of question marks, shunts into a different track, counts up all the Similar Traits, and assigns it a provisional category based on its similarity to other Things. We then experience the Thing, exploring it further, and gaining new knowledge. Our brain then categorises the New Thing based on the knowledge and traits. That is how humans experience the universe. We do our best, and we generally do it well.
This is the basis of stereotyping. It underlies some of our worst behaviours (racism), some of our most challenging problems (trauma), helps us survive (stories) and sharing the ability with things that don’t have it leads to some of our most whimsical creations (artificial intelligence.)
In fact, one reason that humans are so wonderfully successful is that we can effectively gain knowledge from experiences without having experienced them personally! You don’t have to eat all the berries to find the poisonous ones. You can just remember stories and descriptions of berries, and compare those to the ones you’ve just discovered. You can benefit from memories that aren’t your own!
On the other hand, if you had a terribly traumatic experience involving, say, an eagle, then your brain will try to protect you in every way possible from a similar experience. If you collect too many traumatic experiences with eagles, then your brain will not enjoy eagle-shaped New Things. In fact, if New Things match up to too many eagle-like categories, such as
* Specific!! Squawking noise!!
* The hot Glare of the Yellow Eye
* CLAWS VERY BAD VERY BAD
Then the brain may shunt the train of thought back into trauma, and the person will actually experience the New Thing as trauma. Even if the New Thing was something apparently unrelated, like being generally pointy, or having a hot glare. (This is an overly simplistic explanation of how triggers work, but it’s the one most accessible to people.)
So the answer rests in how we categorise dogs, and what “dog” means to humans. Human brains associate dogs with universal categories, such as
* four legs
* Meat Eater
* Soft friend
* An Snout,
* BORK BORK
Anything we have previously experienced and learned as A Dog gets added to the memory bank. Sometimes it brings new categories along with it. So a lifetime’s experience results in excellent dog-intuition.
And anything we experience with, say, a 90% match is officially a Dog.
Brains are super-good at eliminating things, too. So while the concept of physical doggo-ness is pretty nebulous, and has to include greyhounds and Pekingese and mastiffs, we know that even if an animal LOOKS like a bear, if the other categories don’t match up in context (bears are not usually soft friends, they don’t Bork Bork, they don’t have long tails to wag) then it is statistically more likely to be a Doggo. If it occupies a dog-shaped space then it is usually a dog.
So if you see someone dragging a fluffy whatnot along on a string, you will go,
* Mop?? (Unlikely - seems to be self-propelled.)
* Alien? (Unlikely - no real alien ever experienced.)
* Threat? (Vastly unlikely in context.)
* Rabbit? (No. Rabbits hop, and this appears to scurry.) (Brains are very keen on categorising movement patterns. This is why lurching zombies and bad CGI are so uncomfortable to experience, brains just go “INCORRECT!! That is WRONG!” Without consciously knowing why. Anyway, very few animals move like domestic dogs!)
* Very fluffy cat? (Maybe - but not quite. Shares many characteristics, though!)
* Eldritch horror? (No, it is obviously a soft friend of unknown type)
* Robotic toy? (Unlikely - too complex and convincing.)
* alert: amusing animal detected!!! This is a good animal!! This is pleasing!! It may be appropriate to laugh at this animal, because we have just realized that it is probably a …
* DOG!!!! Soft friend, alive, walks on leash. It had a low doggo-ness quotient! and a confusing Snout, but it is NOT those other Known Things, and it occupies a dog-shaped space!
* Hahahaha!!! It is extra funny and appealing, because it made us guess!!!! We love playing that game.
* Best doggo.
* PING! NEW CATEGORIES ADDED TO “Doggo” set: mopness, floof, confusing Snout.
And that’s why most dogs are dogs. You’re so good at identifying dog-shaped spaces that they can’t be anything else!
This is sooo CUTE!
I love this!
@elodieunderglass thank you for teaching me a New Thing™️
You’re very welcome!
Technically the cognitive process of quantifying Doggo-ness is called a schema. But I wrote it a while ago, on mobile, at about 4 am, while nursing a newborn baby with the other arm, and I’m frankly astonished that I was able to continue a single train of thought for that long, let alone remembering Actual Names For Things (That Have Names.) I strongly encourage you to learn more about schemata if you are interested in this sort of thing!
Somewhere in all of this is the secret to AI Singularity!
Q:Why do cuttlefish have W-shaped pupils? What purpose does that particular shape serve?
Star Wanders Too Close to a Black Hole : This artist’s rendering shows the tidal disruption event named ASASSN-14li, where a star wandering too close to a 3-million-solar-mass black hole was torn apart. The debris gathered into an accretion disk around the black hole. (via NASA)