Anatolian fungi found to provide possible cancer treatment

A study led by Muğla University has claimed that certain kinds of fungi from Anatolia may have a curing effect on lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Certain kinds Anatolian fungi are claimed to have curing effects on cancer and Alzheimer's. AA Photo.
Certain kinds Anatolian fungi are claimed to have curing effects on cancer and Alzheimer's. AA Photo.

Associate Professor Mehmet Duru said the study was focused on testing types of non-poisonous Anatolian fungi for possibly treating certain types of cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Duru said the results have been significant.

“We have discovered that under lab conditions, the matters with which we have been testing completely destroyed lung cancer cells and were much more effective than any other existing cancer medications,” said Duru.

The fungi types at hand were also stated to have an effect on slowing down the progress of Alzeimer’s disease.

It was reported that while these results have made the scientists happy, turning them into available medication was not an option until sufficient testing on animals was conducted. Nevertheless, the results will be published for the International Cancer Convention in October.

Sunday, October 2, 2011
MUĞLA – Anatolia News Agency

U.S. closes atom smasher, passes baton to Europe

Many top U.S. physicists will continue research at a remote operation center that Fermilab has set up for scientists to monitor experiments at CERN.


The powering down of Fermilab’s Tevatron particle accelerator on Friday marked the end of a quarter-century of U.S. dominance in high-energy particle physics.

The Tevatron, which accelerates and collides protons and antiprotons in a four-mile-long underground ring, has been replaced by the Large Hadron Collider under the French-Swiss border, which began operating in March 2010.

Physicists at the U.S. lab will now turn to smaller, more focused projects — such as building the most intense proton beam — as they pass the high-energy physics baton to the European Organization for Nuclear Research’s (CERN) bigger, better atom smasher.

“Nothing lasts forever at the edge of science,” said Pier Oddone, director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois. “We need to move on to those aspects of physics where we can put our mark.”

Oddone said Europe has outspent the United States by a factor of three, and the United States now has to be very clever and define very carefully how it uses its resources.

“I think we can maintain a leadership position in the world. We are going to not be where we were 30 years ago where we led in every domain of particle physics, but we are going to lead in a narrower domain,” he said in a telephone interview.

The highest-profile project on that front is an effort to confirm the startling discovery last week at CERN of particles that move faster than the speed of light.

It now falls to scientists at Fermilab to confirm or disprove that as part of its MINOS experiment (Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search).

That will use Fermilab’s Main Injector to hurl an intense beam of neutrinos 455 miles through the Earth to the Soudan Mine in northern Minnesota.

If it can be verified, it will turn modern physics on its head.

Moving to Europe

In its near 26-year run, the Tevatron has taught many lessons about how to build and manage an accelerator of its size and complexity, and these have played a major role in the construction of the 16.7-mile LHC ring at CERN.

“We built this machine to discover how the world is put together,” Oddone said.

“It was a very daring machine in its time.”

Tevatron’s shining achievement was the discovery in 1995 of the top quark, the heaviest elementary particle known to exist.

Though it is as heavy as an atom of gold, the top quark’s mass is crammed into an area far smaller than a single proton.

“Many machines were built around the world with the mission of discovering the top quark. It was only at the highest energy here that we found it,” Oddone said.

The building of the Tevatron made contributions to the U.S. economy by bolstering the fledgling industry for superconducting cable to meet the Tevatron’s need for 150,000 pounds (68,000 kg) of superconducting wire.

And while scientists largely believe the machine has outlived its useful life, lack of funding was the final blow for the Tevatron after the U.S. Department of Energy decided not to spend the $35 million needed to extend the Tevatron’s operation through 2014.

As a result, many top U.S. physicists will continue research at a remote operation center that Fermilab has set up for scientists to monitor experiments at CERN.

Others will relocate to Europe.

“We are whores to the machines. We will go to wherever the machines are to do our science,” said Rob Roser, co-spokesman for CDF, one of the two detectors that used the Tevatron.

“I personally will move to Europe to work on the next machine because we haven’t finished answering the questions we’re after, and I still find them very interesting and compelling. We’ve made good progress, but we are not done yet.”

While the Tevatron will no longer be running experiments, Fermilab scientists have not given up hope of making a major contribution to finding the Higgs boson — thought to be the agent which turned mass into solid matter soon after the Big Bang that created the universe 13.7 billion years ago.

Fermilab engineers and physicists have been furiously smashing particles together in the past several months, recreating the primal chaos of flying matter a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

The hope is that they will have accumulated enough data before the Tevatron shutdown to establish if the elusive Higgs boson exists in its long-predicted form.

If the particle does exist, scientists say it is running out of places to hide.

“We have cornered the Higgs into this particular space. By the time we analyze all the data, if it is not there, we will be able to say it is not there,” Oddone said.

If the answer is no, scientists around the globe will have to rethink the 40-year-old Standard Model of particle physics which describes how they believe the cosmos works.

But if it is found, it will be up to the larger collider at CERN to confirm it.




02 October 2011 Sunday

China tries to become a space power

China successfully launched an experimental craft on Thursday paving the way for its first space station amid a blaze of national pride, bringing the growing Asian power closer to matching the U.S. and Russia with a long-term manned outpost in space.

A rocket carrying the country’s first space laboratory module lifts off on Thursday.
A rocket carrying the country’s first space laboratory module lifts off on Thursday.

The box car-sized Tiangong-1 module was shot into space from the Jiuquan launch center on the edge of the Gobi Desert aboard a Long March 2FT1 rocket. It is to move into an orbit 350 kilometers above the Earth and conduct surveys of Chinese farmland using special cameras, along with experiments involving growing crystals in zero gravity.

China then plans to launch an unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft to practice remote-controlled docking maneuvers with the module, possibly within the next few weeks. Two more missions, at least one of them manned, are to meet up with it next year for further practice, with astronauts staying for up to one month. The 8.5-ton module, whose name translates as “Heavenly Palace-1,” is to stay aloft for two years, after which two other experimental modules are to be launched for additional tests before the actual station is launched in three sections between 2020 and 2022.


Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff

Friday, September 30, 2011


U.S. president honors Turkish scientist with award

Ninety-four researchers, including Ozcan, were granted this year’s awards.

U.S. President Barack Obama honored on Monday a Turkish scientist with Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.

Associate Professor Aydogan Ozcan of the University of California (UCLA) who is currently leading the Bio- and Nano-Photonics Laboratory at the Electrical Engineering Department was one of the recipients of the award.

The awards, established by former President Bill Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

Ninety-four researchers, including Ozcan, were granted this year’s awards.

Ozcan received the award for his contributions to development of innovative optic technologies and handling of health needs of people in underdeveloped countries, and his support and guidance to minority students who are getting insufficient service, and his optic science services.

The Presidential early career awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy.

Sixteen Federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.

Speaking to AA correspondent, Aydogan Ozcan said he was pleased to receive that award and he got awards from the U.S. federal government with his recent projects at his research group at UCLA.

Aydogan Ozcan received his Ph.D. degree at Stanford University Electrical Engineering Department in 2005. After a short post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University, he is appointed as a Research Faculty Member at Harvard Medical School, Wellman Center for Photomedicine in 2006. Dr. Ozcan joined UCLA in the summer of 2007, where he is currently an Associate Professor leading the Bio- and Nano-Photonics Laboratory at the Electrical Engineering Department.

Dr. Ozcan holds 17 issued patents and another 12 pending patent applications for his inventions in nanoscopy, wide-field imaging, lensless imaging, nonlinear optics, fiber optics, and optical coherence tomography. Dr. Ozcan is also the author of one book and the co-author of more than 150 peer reviewed research articles in major scientific journals and conferences.

Prof. Ozcan was also selected as one of the top 10 innovators by the U.S. Department of State, USAID, NASA, and NIKE, Inc. as part of the LAUNCH: Health Forum organized in October 2010. Dr. Ozcan is a Senior Member of IEEE, and a member of LEOS, EMBS, OSA, SPIE and BMES.



27 September 2011 Tuesday

Turkish software firm develops humanoid robot

Turkish software firm develops humanoid robot
Turkish software firm develops humanoid robot

A software firm operating in the central Anatolian Konya province has developed Turkey’s first fully domestic humanoid robot.

The robot, product of a two-year intense R&D process, can respond to questions, fulfill voice commands, make mathematical calculations, imitate human muscular system and movements, and recognize shapes and colors, Konya-based AkinSoft company’s chairman told AA on Sunday.

Chairman Ozgur Akin said his company had been conducting R&D studies on robotics technologies since 2009.

Akin said that the recently-developed humanoid robot named “Akinci-1” had been designed in line with the human muscular system so that it could move like a human being.

Akinci-1 has been manufactured using fully domestic materials and its production has so far cost nearly one million Turkish liras (570,000 USD), Akin noted.

The chairman also said that his company had made a 5-year plan that envisaged a 10 million TL (5.7 million USD) investment for 5 years for Akinci-1.

“We are planning to present these robots to the market in 2015. They can be used in various sectors, for instance, they can replace sales assistants in supermarkets or guides in airports,” Akin said.

Sunday, 04 september.

Ankara: AA

Turkey seeks new nuke partner to ‘finnish’ talks

Turkey will consider talks with countries other than Japan for a nuclear power plant to be built in Sinop, a ministry official says. A Finnish expert confirms nuclear operators from Finland might also be intersted

According to Finnish official, TVO, which runs a nuclear power plant in Finland’s Olkiluoto Island, is a possible candidate to operate a to-be-built nuclear plant in Turkey. AFP photo

Turkey has lost time with its negotiations with Japan on the plans to build a nuclear power plant in Sinop, and it has decided to negotiate with other countries as well, an Energy Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News. Finnish nuclear operators are also among the possible candidates.

“We have lost time while negotiating with Japan,” the ministry’s press undersecretary, Ali Eskigün, told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview on Wednesday. The ministry decided Tuesday to start negotiations with other countries for the nuclear plants planned to be built in the country, he added. “Japan agrees to construct the nuclear power plant, but they want another company to be its operator.”

Meanwhile, the country is also considering Finnish companies for a partnership to conclude an agreement for operating a nuclear power station planned to be built in the Black Sea province of Sinop, as Japan’s TEPCO withdrew from the plant bidding on Aug.4.

A Finnish official mentions names of two companies as possible candidates to operate the plant.

“Teollisuuden Voima Oyj [TVO] and Fortum Oyj might be among the possible candidates,” Risto Isaksson, head of the Public Communication at Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, or STUK, told the Daily News in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told Reuters on Monday, “If we could not reach an agreement with Japan, then we might consider China and Finland.” After Japan, Canada and France, for the first time Finland has been ranked among possible candidates to operate the plant to be built in Sinop.

Turkey is interested in “offers from Finnish companies” as well as other possible candidates from other countries, said Eskigün. “The important thing is for Finnish companies to be interested in [Turkey’s nuclear energy plans], rather than Turkey be interested in them.”

No comment

“I’m sure you understand that as a stock exchange listed company, Fortum does not comment on the question,” Helena Aatinen, Fortum’s vice president for Corporate Relations & International Affairs, said in an e-mail response to the Daily News on Wednesday.

Fortum Oyj operates in 14 countries including Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. In Finland, it has two nuclear power plants at Lovissa.

“I do not think any of the [Finnish] companies would be the right candidate for such a major task,” Haluk Direşkeneli, an Ankara-based energy analyst, told the Daily News in a phone interview on Tuesday.

However, a Finnish energy expert disagreed. “There is no doubt that Finland has the know-how and experience in operating nuclear power plants.” Juha Naukkarinen, a energy expert at Energiateollisuus, told the Daily News in a phone interview on Wednesday. “There has not been any minor accident or leakage in our plants.”

TVO Oyj, the other possible candidate for Turkey’s nuclear energy plans in Sinop, currently runs two nuclear power plant units at Olkiluoto plants in the Finnish province of Eurajoki, producing more than 16 percent of all the electricity consumed in the country

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Gökhan Kurtaran
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world’s ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

“The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water,” said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.” Bradford leads one of the teams that made the discovery. His team’s research is partially funded by NASA and appears in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

A quasar is powered by an enormous black hole that steadily consumes a surrounding disk of gas and dust. As it eats, the quasar spews out huge amounts of energy. Both groups of astronomers studied a particular quasar called APM 08279+5255, which harbors a black hole 20 billion times more massive than the sun and produces as much energy as a thousand trillion suns.

Astronomers expected water vapor to be present even in the early, distant universe, but had not detected it this far away before. There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.

Water vapor is an important trace gas that reveals the nature of the quasar. In this particular quasar, the water vapor is distributed around the black hole in a gaseous region spanning hundreds of light-years in size (a light-year is about six trillion miles). Its presence indicates that the quasar is bathing the gas in X-rays and infrared radiation, and that the gas is unusually warm and dense by astronomical standards. Although the gas is at a chilly minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius) and is 300 trillion times less dense than Earth’s atmosphere, it’s still five times hotter and 10 to 100 times denser than what’s typical in galaxies like the Milky Way.

Measurements of the water vapor and of other molecules, such as carbon monoxide, suggest there is enough gas to feed the black hole until it grows to about six times its size. Whether this will happen is not clear, the astronomers say, since some of the gas may end up condensing into stars or might be ejected from the quasar.

Bradford’s team made their observations starting in 2008, using an instrument called “Z-Spec” at the California Institute of Technology’s Submillimeter Observatory, a 33-foot (10-meter) telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Follow-up observations were made with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA), an array of radio dishes in the Inyo Mountains of Southern California.

The second group, led by Dariusz Lis, senior research associate in physics at Caltech and deputy director of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, used the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps to find water. In 2010, Lis’s team serendipitously detected water in APM 8279+5255, observing one spectral signature. Bradford’s team was able to get more information about the water, including its enormous mass, because they detected several spectral signatures of the water.

Other authors on the Bradford paper, “The water vapor spectrum of APM 08279+5255,” include Hien Nguyen, Jamie Bock, Jonas Zmuidzinas and Bret Naylor of JPL; Alberto Bolatto of the University of Maryland, College Park; Phillip Maloney, Jason Glenn and Julia Kamenetzky of the University of Colorado, Boulder; James Aguirre, Roxana Lupu and Kimberly Scott of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Hideo Matsuhara of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Japan; and Eric Murphy of the Carnegie Institute of Science, Pasadena.

Funding for Z-Spec was provided by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Research Corporation and the partner institutions.



Pentagon seeks ways of interstellar travel

The research agency in the U.S. Defense Department that helped foster the Internet wants someone to dream up a way to send people to a star.

The winner will get half a million dollars for the idea. This month 150 competitors answered the federal government’s initial call for private sector cosmic ideas. Officials say some big names are among those interested. The plan is to make interstellar travel possible in about a century.

The Defense Department is known for big spending and big ideas. It devised a space-based missile defense system in the 1980s known as “Star Wars.” Its new trademarked 100-year Starship Study concept comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency is spending a total of $1 million on the project. After presentations are made at a conference in Orlando, Florida, DARPA will decide in November who gets the money.

The grant would be “seed money” to help someone start thinking about the idea and then get it off the ground in the private sector, David Neyland, director of DARPA’s tactical technology office, said in a Thursday teleconference.

This is not about going to a nearby planet, like Mars. And it is not about using robotic probes, which does not interest the Defense Department, Neyland said.

But even the nearest star beyond our sun is 25 trillion miles (40 trillion kilometers) away. The fastest rocket man has built would take more than 4,000 years to get there. This is not just about thinking new rocket methods, Neyland said. It iss also about coping with extended life in space, raising issues of medicine, agriculture, ethics and self-reliance, he said.

Among those who showed an interest in the project earlier this year is millionaire scientist Craig Venter, one of those who mapped the human genome and is now working on artificial life and alternative fuels.

“We want to capture the imagination of folks,” Neyland said.

Not everyone agrees with spending money this way. Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said, “When you look at the universe – pun intended – of things we have to spend money on, this has to be pretty down on the priority list.”


Turkish researchers make nanotechnology breakthrough

HDN image

A group of Turkish researchers at an Ankara university have manufactured the longest and thinnest nanowires ever produced, by employing a novel method to shrink matter 10-million fold.

The invention, discovered at Bilkent University’s National Nanotechnology Research Center, or UNAM, is set to appear on the cover of Nature Material magazine’s July edition.

“At this moment, we may not even be able to predict what things will be produced [in the future] using this method,” said Associate Professor Mehmet Bayýndýr who led the research team.

The new method could provide advancements in many fields, including the production of more effective cells for solar panels, DVD’s with massively enhanced capacity, electronics and other novel applications that could be used in medical imaging technologies, according to the Anatolia news agency.

The research team was trying to obtain a patent for their invention, as well as preparing to apply to the Guinness Book of Records for producing the world’s longest and thinnest semiconductor nanowire.

The new technique includes a new thermal size-reduction process to produce indefinitely long nanowire and nanotube arrays with various materials, Bayýndýr said Friday.

“We are enjoying [the fact that] we are getting higher amounts of projects than scientists in developed countries, despite the global economic crisis,” he said.

The project was funded by the Scientific and Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBITAK, the Turkish Academy of Sciences, or TÜBA, and the State Planning Organization, or the DPT.


Israel’s new underground weapon

An underground tunnel in Gaza used for supplying the local population with supplies.

The Israeli Army has developed a new tool in its seemingly Sisyphean struggle against the hundreds of underground tunnels used for smuggling weapons from Sinai into Gaza, or as subterranean staging grounds for cross-border strikes into Israel.

A collaborative effort between the Army’s special technology division and EMI, a local explosive materials manufacturer, the system – known here as Emulsion – injects into the ground a blend of commercial-grade liquid explosives, each of which remains nonsensitive to mishandling or even improvised bomb attack until blended and deployed.

“It’s all automatic, carries minimal risk to troops and creates maximum, irreparable damage to the tunnels,” said Maj. Isam Abu Tarif, director of the special technology division of Israel’s Ground Forces Command.

Abu Tarif said the recently completed prototype is actually a second-generation system, following less efficient versions deployed in Gaza in the last seven or eight years. The newest Emulsion-2 prototype is self-navigating and programmed for precision deployment of explosive materials and optimum penetration of the destructive mixture.

“Earlier versions didn’t provide optimum destruction, allowing the enemy to dig around the destroyed section,” Abu Tarif said. “With this second-generation system, they’re better off digging a new tunnel.”

First reported in the latest editions of B’yabasha (On the Ground), the official Hebrew-language journal of Israel’s Ground Forces Command, the latest Emulsion prototype is mounted on eight-wheeled armored trucks. Future versions will be smaller, tailored for more challenging operational conditions and designed to be towed into high-threat areas by tank.

Deployment of the latest prototype has allowed the Army to amend its doctrine for more effective, force-protective anti-tunnel combat, Abu Tarif said.

“Under our old doctrine, our forces had to endanger themselves while transporting the explosive materials to the target,” he said. “Then they had to physically get into the tunnel to perform the mission. … And there were cases where soldiers died en route or inside the tunnels.

“But now, the two substances are housed separately and are impervious to accidental or enemy-initiated detonation,” he said. “Emulsion-2 is designed to withstand [a rocket-propelled grenade] attack. And once we neutralize the threat on approach, automation takes over with the injection of materials for optimum effect.”

Finally, Abu Tarif said the Emulsion-2 carries “a huge quantity” of two-component explosive material, allowing specialty units to destroy multiple tunnels in a single deployment to high-threat areas.

“Before, we were limited to the amount of explosives carried in an [armored personnel carrier], but now the carrying capacity is safe and unlimited … and the effect of the liquid explosive blend creates a chain reaction that extends well beyond the target penetration area,” he said.

Overwhelming Threat

Security sources here estimate a network of many hundreds of tunnels of varying levels of sophistication have been built between Gaza and Egypt. While most tunnels are built to sustain Egypt’s thriving smuggling industry for appliances, vehicles, livestock and other commercial goods into Gaza, an alarming number are used to deliver primarily Iranian-supplied missiles, anti-tank rockets, other weaponry and even military instructors into the strip via Sinai.

Another category of tunnels – some nearly a kilometer in length – are built for commando strikes and kidnapping attempts on Israel’s side of the Gaza border. Security sources here peg the number of so-called terror tunnels built to support subterranean combat operations against Israel in the dozens.

In Israel’s Cast Lead incursion into Gaza in late December 2008, the Air Force destroyed 40 smuggling tunnels in the first two days of the 22-day campaign. Since then, the Israeli military claims to have destroyed or heavily damaged 190 tunnels, 150 of them smuggling routes along the Gaza-Egyptian corridor.

Military sources here said another 40 tunnels destroyed in recent years were built to support infiltration operations similar to Hamas’ successful June 2006 attack on an Israeli tank. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in that strategically important strike, while one – Pvt. Gilad Shalit – remains in captivity. Shalit’s plight has traumatized the Israeli public and taunted a string of successive political and military leaders who have failed to secure his release.

“Combating terror tunnels is a top priority,” said Capt. Barak Raz, an Israeli military spokesman. “The orders are maximum readiness to defend our citizens and soldiers from kidnapping attempts and deny the enemy any opportunity for another strategic achievement.”

Avi Dichter, an Israeli lawmaker and former director of the Shin Bet security service, said Egypt’s decision to open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza will not erode the need for persistent and coordinated military and intelligence anti-tunnel operations.

The late May opening of Egypt’s border crossing with Gaza and its 1.5 million residents is a reversal of deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s policy of isolating and neutralizing the militant, Islamist Hamas authority in the Strip. And while Israel must remain watchful of those exiting and re-entering Gaza via Egypt, Dichter said more than 90 percent of illicit smuggling will continue to be conducted via underground tunnels.

“As much as we lament the passing of the Mubarak era, we have to admit that he could have done a hell of a lot more to blunt the arms smuggling industry,” Dichter told a seminar of Israeli military officers May 26.

“For that matter, when we had control of Philadelphi [the corridor linking Sinai to the southern part of Gaza], we, too, missed a lot of activity,” he said. “Bottom line, the tunnel threat is an eternal mission requiring very close cooperation between security forces and all branches of the Israel Defense Forces.”