Saturday, December 26, 2009

FASTEST RAIL LINK STARTS IN CHINA

China on Saturday started operation on its fastest rail link in the world with a high-speed train connecting the modern cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 350 kilometres an hour.
The super-high-speed train reduces the 1,069 km journey linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, to a three hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven-and-a-half hours, Xinhua news agency said.

Test runs for the rail link began earlier in December during which it recorded a maximum speed of 394.2 km per hour and the operations officially began today, said Xu Fangliang, general engineer in charge of designing the link, according to Xinhua.

By comparison, the average for high-speed trains in Japan was 243 kilometres per hour while in France it was 277 kilometres per hour, he said. The network uses technology developed in co-operation with foreign firms such as Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom.

The work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand country's high-speed network, Xinhua added.

China unveiled its first high-speed line at the time of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

EARTH’S NORTH MAGNETIC POLE RACING TOWARDS RUSSIA DUE TO CORE FLUX


A new research has determined that Earth's north magnetic pole is racing toward Russia at almost 40 miles (64 kilometers) a year due to magnetic changes in the planet's core.

The core is too deep for scientists to directly detect its magnetic field. But researchers can infer the field's movements by tracking how Earth's magnetic field has been changing at the surface and in space. According to a report in National Geographic News, newly analyzed data suggest that there's a region of rapidly changing magnetism on the core's surface, possibly being created by a mysterious "plume" of magnetism arising from deeper in the core.

"It's this region that could be pulling the magnetic pole away from its long-time location in northern Canada," said Arnaud Chulliat, a geophysicist at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France.

Magnetic north, which is the place where compass needles actually point, is near but not exactly in the same place as the geographic North Pole.

Right now, magnetic north is close to Canada's Ellesmere Island.

Navigators have used magnetic north for centuries to orient themselves when they are far from recognizable landmarks.

Although global positioning systems have largely replaced such traditional techniques, many people still find compasses useful for getting around underwater and underground where GPS satellites can't communicate.

The magnetic north pole had moved little from the time scientists first located it in 1831.

Then in 1904, the pole began shifting northeastward at a steady pace of about 9 miles (15 kilometers) a year.

In 1989 it sped up again, and in 2007 scientists confirmed that the pole is now galloping toward Siberia at 34 to 37 miles (55 to 60 kilometers) a year.

A rapidly shifting magnetic pole means that magnetic-field maps need to be updated more often to allow compass users to make the crucial adjustment from magnetic north to true North.

Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid rock.

This creates a "dynamo" that drives our magnetic field. Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north.

Although the new research seems to back up this idea, Chulliat is skeptical whether magnetic north will eventually cross into Russia.

"It's too difficult to forecast," Chulliat said.

GO EASY ON GLUCOSE TO LIVE LONG


Reducing caloric intake, specifically in the form of glucose, can extend the life of human cells and speed the death of pre-cancerous cells, a new study has found.

This discovery by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham could help lead to drugs and treatments that slow human aging and prevent cancer.

"Our hope is that the discovery that reduced calories extends the lifespan of normal human cells will lead to further discoveries of the causes for these effects in different cell types and facilitate the development of novel approaches to extend the lifespan of humans," said Trygve Tollefsbol, a researcher involved in the work from the Center for Aging and Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"We would also hope for these studies to lead to improved prevention of cancer as well as many other age-related diseases through controlling calorie intake of specific cell types," Tollefsbol added.

To make this discovery, Tollefsbol and colleagues used normal human lung cells and precancerous human lung cells that were at the beginning stages of cancer formation.

Both sets of cells were grown in the laboratory and received either normal or reduced levels of glucose (sugar).

As the cells grew over a period of a few weeks, the researchers monitored their ability to divide, and kept track of how many cells survived over this period.

They found that the normal cells lived longer, and many of the precancerous cells died, when given less glucose.

Gene activity was also measured under these same conditions. The reduced glucose caused normal cells to have a higher activity of the gene that dictates the level of telomerase, an enzyme that extends their lifespan and lower activity of a gene that slows their growth.

Epigenetic effects (effects not due to gene mutations) were found to be a major cause in changing the activity of these genes as they reacted to decreased glucose levels.
The study has been published online in The FASEB Journal.

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