When good brain cells go bad

Astrocytes are the cells in the brain whose job it is to protect, nurture, rewire and even build new neurons. Your brain thinks with neurons, but it maintains itself with astrocytes. But new research suggests that astrocytes get ugly when things go bad.

Scientists at Stanford University have discovered that when astrocytes are activated by traumatic brain injuries or by diseases like Alzheimer’s, they go from protectors to attackers. They kill thousands of neurons around them in a running rampage that this research suggests is the primary vehicle for the long-term effects of TBI and Alzheimer’s.

Next stop, Europa? NASA researchers develop life-detecting process for water worlds

Applying techniques that have been available since the 1980’s, NASA researchers have come up with a novel and highly-scaleable new way to search for life on worlds with a lot of water. The process is known as capillary electrophoresis, and its primary purpose is to separate organic chemicals in the same way that a centrifuge might. By separating biologically-relevant amino acids from other naturally occurring organic chemicals, this process provides a very quick and easily-automated process to search for life in water. That means a water rover could easily search where humans cannot.

Great. But is there a water world anywhere nearby for which we can use this test? Why, yes! Europa is one of the 36 or so moons of Jupiter and has long-since been suspected of possibly harboring life. The planet is covered in a vast ocean, frozen at the surface. But that ice on the surface is rippled with cracks that scientists suspect may be from submerged volcanic activity.

Water. Heat. Active geology. These are all ingredients to life here on Earth. Might Europa include even more ingredients we don’t yet see?

Jeff Merkley becomes first sitting Senator to endorse Bernie Sanders

Being a sitting Senator, that means he’s also one of the vaunted Super Delegates. While praising Hillary Clinton for her work supporting equality, Senator Merkley notes that, “We need urgency. We need big ideas. We need to rethink the status quo.”

Merkley is a junior Senator from Oregon who came to the Senate in 2008 on the coattails of the highly-popular President Barack Obama.

Syracuse Craig’s List post purports to out a kidnapper.

File this under “Extreme Grain of Salt.” A posting dated Thursday, March 31st shows a picture of a man the poster says kidnapped his girlfriend until the poster was able to wrestle his girlfriend out of the van. Three questions:

  1. How the hell did the victim get a kidnapper to go to the exact gas station her boyfriend works at?
  2. Was any of this – including the supposed tape – ever reported to police? Because they don’t need this kind of help.
  3. Who, during this harrowing experience, took the picture?

Thousands of jihadis need to invest in LifeLock, now.

Whoops! Identity theft is a bitch under the best of circumstances. But when your modus operandi is shooting YouTube videos spouting hate-filled rhetoric while wearing a black mask? Just. the worst.

A former jihadi who decided to go straight took a thumb drive with him when he did so. And exposing that information to the world, he exposed the entrance forms of thousands of jihadis.

Entrance forms for ISIS? Preen all you like, jihadis. But you can’t pretend not to value American culture while at the same time, swallowing the drab pablum of our suffocating corporate policy without an ounce of irony.

Grab a Whopper and take a number like the rest of us.