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AWAKE

HERE IS TODAY

awkwardsituationist:

above the clouds, at an altitude between 2,700 and 3,500 metres, with roberto bertero on mount rocciamelone in italy’s susa valley.  said roberto, “a night spent in silence in the mountains at high altitudes, under an infinite starry sky, certainly makes us realize how marvellous it is to be part of something infinitely greater than ourselves.”

(via hilit)

Estonian astrophotographer Raivo Hein captured Moon with Jupiter and its moons!

(Source: sci-universe, via iluminacje)


Friedrich Gilly, Design for the Royal Iron Mill, Berlin, (1797)
The night atmosphere which also pervades over many views of Coalbrookdale, allows for an especially good depiction of fire and smoke. The figurative frieze and the forms in the arch of the tower are only barely perceptible. They are meant less as a pictorial program for the explanation of the building – an unnecessary function, considering the smokestacks – than a kind of “raising up” of the purely functional architectural commission.

Friedrich Gilly, Design for the Royal Iron Mill, Berlin, (1797)

The night atmosphere which also pervades over many views of Coalbrookdale, allows for an especially good depiction of fire and smoke. The figurative frieze and the forms in the arch of the tower are only barely perceptible. They are meant less as a pictorial program for the explanation of the building – an unnecessary function, considering the smokestacks – than a kind of “raising up” of the purely functional architectural commission.

(Source: rudygodinez, via leaddust)

Wu Zetian

Wu Zetian (Wu Tse-tiansimplified Chinese武则天traditional Chinese武則天pinyinWǔ ZétiānWade–GilesWu3 Tse2-t’ien1) (February 17, 624 – December 16, 705),[12] also known as Wu Zhao (Wu ChaoChinese武曌pinyinWǔ Zhào;Wade–GilesWu3 Chao4), Wu Hou (Chinese武后pinyinWǔ HòuWade–GilesWu3 Hou4), in Tang dynasty, Tian Hou (天后), and in English as Empress Consort Wu, or by the deprecated term,[13] ”Empress Wu”, was a Chinese sovereign, who ruled officially under the name of her self-proclaimed “Zhou dynasty”, from 690 to 705. She was the only female emperor in the Chinese feudal dynasties spanning more than 4,000 years. However, she had previous imperial positions under bothEmperor Taizong of Tang and his son Emperor Gaozong of Tang, of the Tang dynasty of China. Wu was a concubine of Emperor Taizong; after his death she married his successor and 9th son, Emperor Gaozong, officially becoming Gaozong’sfuren (variously translated as “empress”, “wife”, or “first consort”) in 655, although having considerable political power previous to this. After Gaozong’s debilitating stroke in 690, Wu Zetian ruled as effective sovereign until 705.[14] She is the only woman to rule China in her own right.

The importance to history of Wu Zetian’s period of political and military leadership includes the major expansion of the Chinese empire, extending it far beyond its previous territorial limits, deep into Central Asia, and the completion of the conquest of the upper Korean Peninsula. Within China, besides the more direct consequences of her struggle to gain and maintain supreme power, Wu’s leadership resulted in important effects in regards to social class in Chinese society and in relation to state support for Taoism, Buddhism, education, and literature. Wu Zetian also had a monumental impact in regard to the statuary of the Longmen Grottoes and the “Wordless Stele” at the Qianling Mausoleum, as well as the construction of some major buildings and bronze castings which no longer survive. Despite these important aspects of her reign, together with the suggestions of modern scholarship as to the long-term effects of some of her innovations in governance, much of the attention to Wu Zetian has been to her gender, as the anomalous female supreme sovereign of a unified Chinese empire, holding during part of her lifetime the title of Huangdi.

Besides her career as a political leader, Wu Zetian also had an active family life. Although family relationships sometimes became problematic, Wu Zetian was the mother of three sons who served stints as emperors, and one of her grandsons became the famous emperor Xuanzong of the restored Tang dynasty, ruling during its “Golden Age”.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Zetian)

Self-Assembling Molecules Offer New Clues on Life’s Possible Origin

A pair of RNA-like molecules can spontaneously assemble into gene-length chains, chemists in the United States and Spain report. Billions of years ago, related molecules may have created a rudimentary form of genetic information that eventually led to the evolution of RNA and life itself, the researchers say. Although it’s likely to be difficult, if not impossible, to prove whether similar proto-RNAs were present at the dawn of life, the researchers are working to see if the proto-RNAs can indeed faithfully encode information and evolve toward RNA.

Origin of life researchers have long thought that RNA, the molecular cousin of the DNA that encodes our genes, may have played a starring role in the initial evolution of life from a soup of organic molecules. RNA has a simpler structure than DNA and is a more adept chemical catalyst. So it would seem that RNA-based life might arise more readily than DNA-based life.

But there are problems with this so-called RNA World hypothesis. For starters, in water, the four chemical components of RNA—the nucleotides abbreviated A, G, C, and U—don’t spontaneously assemble to create sizable molecules. So it remains a mystery how the first long gene-length chains of RNA could have taken shape in Earth’s ancient oceans. This and other conundrums have led many to believe that RNA may itself be the product of early molecular evolution, and that proto-RNAs arose first and eventually gave way to RNA. “RNA is so perfect today that it has to be the product of evolution,” says Nicholas Hud, a chemist at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta.

Researchers have toyed with the idea of proto-RNA for decades and even come up with potential chemical candidates. One such set of proto-RNAs involves two chemicals called cyanuric acid (CA) and triaminopyrimidine (TAP). TAP comes from a family of compounds known as pyrimidines, as do the RNA bases C and U. CA, meanwhile, is a close pyrimidine relative. Previous research had shown that when CA and TAP were put in an organic solvent, groups of three CAs and three TAPs would spontaneously form ringlike structures called rosettes. These rosettes would then stack atop one another to form long chains.

Unfortunately, in water CA and TAP clump together in large ribbons and sheets and quickly fall out of solution, making it hard to conceive of how these proto-RNAs could have stored genetic information in the earliest stages of life.

Now, however, Hud and his colleagues at Georgia Tech and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain, have solved this solvent problem. The researchers gave TAP a short chemical tail, transforming it into a chemical they call TAPAS, as they reported on Friday in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. And that one change encourages it to assemble with CA to form rosettes in water. What is more, the rosettes stack atop one another, forming long genelike chains made up of as many as 18,000 individual TAPAS and CA components—quite a stack of small plates.

"The nice thing [about the current study] is this is a demonstration of self-assembly in water," says Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, an origin of life chemist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California. "That is a step in the right direction."

The next step, Hud says, will be to see whether this two-component assembly can be made to encode information like a primitive gene and to evolve toward the structure of RNA. If so, that still won’t settle the debate as to whether CA and TAPAS gave life its start. But it will suggest one plausible chemical route to life’s origin.

Posted in Chemistry

http://news.sciencemag.org/2013/02/self-assembling-molecules-offer-new-clues-lifes-possible-origin

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