2011 – November – Week 3

Scientists solve mystery of the eye

(PhysOrg.com) — Scientists have a good overall understanding of human vision: when light enters our eyes, it is focused by the lens and strikes the retina in the back of the eye. The light causes some of the millions of photoreceptor cells that line the retina to undergo a chemical change, which send a message through the optic nerve fiber to the brain, which creates a picture. However, there are still a few unresolved questions in the details of the vision process, one of which is why the eye evolved to use a certain light-absorbing chromophore called 11-cis-retinal instead of one of its isomers (i.e., molecules with the same atoms but in different arrangements), such as 7-cis, 9-cis, or 13-cis.



Busted Russian Mars probe could go to Moon instead

Lost Russian probe Phobos-Grunt could give up its trek to Mars and instead head to the Moon if communication isn’t established in the next few days.

Space agency Roscosmos has given engineers until 21 November to contact the spacecraft, which is somewhere in orbit around Earth, because a flight to the Red Planet’s moon Phobos will not be possible after that date.



Hard Drive Prices Soar as Supply is Affected Due to Thailand Floods

Thailand, the beautiful South Asian country known for its tourist attractions, has been devastated by a series of floods that have lasted more than three months. More than four hundred lives have been lost, and 2.3 million people have been affected. The financial impact is estimated to be in excess of 5.1 billion USD. Last month, some of Thailand’s biggest industrial estates including Nava Nakorn, Bang-Pa-in, Hi-Tech, Factory Land, Rojana, and Saha Rattana Nakorn were flooded. Among the companies impacted were Western Digital, Toshiba, and Seagate. So far, Seagate’s factories haven’t been directly affected; however, the Dublin based storage giant is suffering from component shortages.



Tech giants slam piracy bill

As our own copyright law starts baring its teeth, tech giants including Google, Facebook and eBay have joined forces in the US to oppose a piracy bill they say threatens law-abiding US citizens.



Columbia grads design solar-pillow lights for global village

(PhysOrg.com) — World populations who live without electricity including those in disaster-stricken areas in the wake of floods, earthquakes, and other calamities are who two Columbia University graduates want to help. That is why they have launched their campaign to deliver their solar-rechargeable lamp that packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight, waterproof lantern.



NASA Probe Data Show Evidence of Liquid Water on Icy Europa

Data from a NASA planetary mission have provided scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water, equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa.



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