First exomoon glimpsed – 1800 light years from Earth

Moonrise

‘Pandora and Endor, eat your hearts out. The first known moon outside of our solar system may have been found, and it seems weirder than we ever could have imagined.

Exomoons have long been predicted to exist – some may even be habitable worlds – but until now, no one had detected any. “This is the first serious candidate from any survey that I am aware of,” says astronomer David Kipping of Harvard University, who was not involved in the discovery.

Unlike the exomoons that feature in the films Avatar and Return of the Jedi, not to mention the moons in our solar system, the new moon and its exoplanet seem to be adrift in the cosmos, far from any star.’ (New Scientist).

Confirmed: Narcolepsy Is An Autoimmune Disease

‘Narcolepsy is a mysterious disorder that involves sudden, uncontrollable sleepiness, among many other symptoms. On one hand, its cause seems straightforward: people slowly lose a special group of neurons that produce hypocretin, a hormone that keeps us awake.

But what kills the neurons?

Many scientists have long suspected that the immune system is responsible. That would make narcolepsy an autoimmune disease–one in which a person’s immune system turns on their own healthy cells.

There’s been a lot of evidence to support this idea, but a team of scientists from Stanford University have finally found what they describe as a “smoking gun”. People with narcolepsy, and only people with narcolepsy, have a special group of immune cells that targets hypocretin. These cells might be attacking the neurons directly, or acting through an intermediary, or something else altogether. Either way, it’s the first clear, direct sign of autoimmunity.

The study also helps to explain some puzzling quirks about narcolepsy, like why the 2009 swine flu pandemic led to a surge of cases in China, or why one particular vaccine against that strain did the same in Europe.’ — Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science).

Your wireless router could be murdering your houseplants

The Daily Dot - Your wireless router could be murdering your houseplants

‘Are you slowly killing your houseplants? Probably! But there might be a reason other than neglect why they’re all yellow and wilty: your Wi-Fi router.

An experiment by a handful of high school students in Denmark has sparked some serious international interest in the scientific community.Five ninth-grade girls at Hjallerup School in North Jutland, Denmark, noticed they had trouble concentrating after sleeping with their mobile phones at their bedsides. They tried to figure out why. The school obviously doesn’t have the equipment to test human brain waves, so the girls decided to do a more rudimentary experiment. They placed six trays of garden cress seeds next to Wi-Fi routers that emitted roughly the same microwave radiation as a mobile phone. Then they placed six more trays of seeds in a separate room without routers. The girls controlled both environments for room temperature, sunlight and water. After 12 days, they found the garden cress seeds in the routerless room had exploded into bushy greenery, while the seeds next to the Wi-Fi routers were brown, shriveled, and even mutated…’ (The Daily Dot).