Today in research: other Nobel winners, the usefulness of nose things, an “alternative” vaccination schedule and the odd sounds captured during a meteor shower..
How the other Nobel winners reacted to the news today. Thebittersweet report of scientist Ralph Steinman dying only three days before being awarded with the Nobel prize in medicine–and its status (it will still be awarded posthumously)–dominated the headlines about the Nobel announcement. But Steinman was only one of three scientists honored for immune system advances. Bloomberg News caught up with honoree Dr. Bruce A. Beutler of the Scripps Research Institute, who reacted this way: “I woke up in the middle of the night, and glanced at my cell phone, and the first thing I saw was a message line that just said the words ‘Nobel Prize,’” he said. ‘Needless to say, I grabbed it and started looking at messages. Wow.” French scientist Dr. Jules Hoffman was quite humbled in a conversation with the AP saying, “I wasn’t sure this domain merited a Nobel.” [Bloomberg News, Associated Press]
Tiny nose things may prove to be helpful in autopsies. This is a bit of morbid research news, but scientists appear to have figured out another way to accurately assess when a person has died. Curiously, it’s because “tiny finger-like projections lining the nose continue to beat after death,”New Scientist reported, parsing the findings of a researcher from the University of Bari in Italy. What are deemed “nasal cilia” are said to “provide an additional tool to help decide time of death, especially if it was within the previous 24 hours.” [New Scientist]
Sometimes an ‘alternative’ vaccination schedule means no vaccination schedule. Another example of just how pervasive the now-retracted 1998 Lancet study purporting an autism-vaccine link may still be. About 1 in 10 parents cited in a new study relayed by Reuters refused “some vaccines or delaying vaccines until kids were older–mostly because parents thought that ‘seemed safer.’” The researchers “worry that more parents may be refusing vaccines in the future, raising the risk that diseases like measles and whooping cough will spread in schools and communities.” [Reuters]
A lot of new galaxies will be presumably named in 2013. That’s when the newly-opened €1 billion internationally operated Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA) observatory situated in the clear-skyed mountains above the Chilean Andes will be fully up and running, The Guardian reports (a pretty impressive, and very dramatically scored video of the construction of the site is available here). And when it gets going, look out: “when it is fully operational in 2013, the observatory will find a previously unseen galaxy every three minutes.” [The Guardian]
The odd whistles and whirrs of a meteor shower.Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait points to this video posted by astronaut Ron Garan and explains what things we’re hearing in the meteor shower audio below from the “U.S. Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas during the Perseid meteor shower.” The little scrapes and soft noises accompany photos of the shower, which are described by Plait this way: ”The initial ‘whoosh’ is from the meteor itself, and the dying whistling sound is from the ionized gas it leaves behind, which slowly recombines and fades.” [Bad Astronomy]