Author name: Michael Ricciardi

Michael Ricciardi is a well-published writer of science/nature/technology articles as well as essays, poetry and short fiction. Michael has interviewed dozen of scientists from many scientific fields, including Brain Greene, Paul Steinhardt, Arthur Shapiro, and Nobel Laureate Ilya Progogine (deceased). Michael was trained as a naturalist and taught natural science on Cape Cod, Mass. from 1986-1991. His first arts grant was for production of the environmental (video) documentary 'The Jones River - A Natural History', 1987-88 (Kingston, Mass.). Michael is an award winning, internationally screened video artist. Two of his more recent short videos; 'A Time of Water Bountiful' and 'My Name is HAM' (an "imagined memoir" about the first chimp in space), and several other short videos, can be viewed on his website (http://www.chaosmosis.net). He is also the author of the ebook 'Zombies, E.T's, and The Super Entity - A Selection of Most Stimulating Articles' and for Kindle: Artful Survival ~ Creative Options for Chaotic Times

Federal Court Decision Rules In First Lawsuit To Involve A Planet

Juliana v. U.S. Government And the winners are … today’s children (the plaintiffs) … and future generations (the ultimate winners). According to legal observers, it’s the first lawsuit to “involve a planet” …. But faithful readers of Planetsave will likely see that this legal case and argument is/was inevitable (and perhaps the ulterior reason that […]

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World’s Most Powerful Particle Collider to Restart in March 2015 – What Can We Expect?

[Updated/corrected, April 22, 2015] The world’s most powerful particle accelerator — the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — is scheduled to restart in March of 2015, after a two year hiatus for repairs and upgrades (and data analysis). The machine is located at CERN (in Switzerland) the largest and most prestigious high energy physics laboratory in

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Beyond SETI – Time to Start Calling The Cosmos?

Most every one has heard of SETI — the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence — and most also know that, so far, the scientists that operate the powerful telescopes and computers that analyze potential signals from civilizations beyond Earth have come up empty-handed — with the possible exception of the so-called ‘Wow! signal’ (detected only once,

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Science Inspires Art – ‘The Brain’ Exhibition Opens in NYC [Photo Feature]

ย Radial Development by Robert Fathauer – 2014 – ceramic sculpture (one of 42 selected works for The Brain exhibition) From functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and 3D Brain Maps to Cognitive (Neural Network) Models and ‘Neuromorphic’ Computer Chips…Brain Science is all the rage these days amongst scientific researchers and the world-wide science press. And certainly,

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'Super Cells – Building With Biology' – The Hope (And Hype) of Bio-Design [Book Review]

Part ‘history of’, part โ€˜how toโ€™, and a goodย portion hype, Super Cells ~ย Building With Biology, by Nina Tandon and Mitchell Joachim, is a fascinating, inspiring, and not-infrequently self-promoting/congratulating celebration of the โ€œcollision of Biology, Design and Digital Fabrication.” The book heralds a new movement referred to asย bio-design (or biodesign) in which diverse designers appropriate the

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Quantum Entanglement Experiment Proves 'Non-Locality' For First Time, Will Permit Multi-Party Quantum Communication

Quantum entanglement — what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” — involves a peculiarly strong correlation betweenย two particles (typically, polarized photons) such that measuringย a property of one particle simultaneously determines the property of the second particle — even when those two particles are separated by great distances (theoretically, even when the particles are at

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Apocalypse News Roundup: Corn Declines, A Killer New Virus, NASA Forecasts 'Irreversible Collapse' & Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse [VIDEO]

Greetings faithful readers… Well, March is turning out to be a fine month for apocalyptica of seemingly every sort…So, as your faithful reporter of all things cataclysmic and eschatological (well, I try), I give youย this friendly round-up of end-full news items for your reading pleasure, with brief commentary. To wit: Maize Can’t Take the Blaze

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NASA Space Telescope Captures ‘Clearest Glimpse’ Of Our Milky Way Galaxy Ever Produced [VIDEO]

GLIMPSE360 – It was a decade in the making…over 2.5 million “snapshots” collected over a total of 172 observation days…it’s The Milky Way Galaxy like you’ve never seen it before, courtesy of the astronomical science teams at JPL and Cal Tech and the mighty imaging power (20 gigapixels) of the Spitzer Space Telescope. The GLIMPSE

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Off-Shore Wind Farms Can 'Tame' Hurricane Winds, Surges, Stanford Study Finds [VIDEO]

ย  Climate scientists have been predicting more intense seasonal temperature variations and storms forย several years now and recent winter ice storms in the deep south of the US, as well as ‘super storm’ Sandy, seem to lend much credence to this forecasting. And although this past hurricane season was less than spectacular — discounting Sandy,

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New Encryption Technique Promises To Keep Your Genetic Data Secure – For Now

Our genetic codes — the string of nucleotide “letters” that comprise our genomes — contain information about which diseases we may be susceptible to, or, what health conditions we have a predisposition for. However, this information is not absolute; having a gene or series of gene mutations that are biomarkers for a given disease, or

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Tech Imitates Life: An Electric Fish-Inspired Robot Will Monitor Oil Spills, Ecosystems [VIDEO]

[Reporting from the annual Science/AAAS meeting in Chicago, Illinois] Lacking proper fins and functional eyes, the electric knifefish (of the order Gymnotiformes; one of over a hundred freshwater species native to South America) has a remarkable ability to rapidly maneuver — and find its food — in the most cluttered and murkiest of waters. For

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See 63 Years of Climate Change In 15 Seconds [NASA Animation]

Despite what some in the “mainstream” media assert, there is no “debate about global warming” — not amongst informed scientists, anyways. Scientists knowledgeable about climate change debate only the finer details, such as: how much CO2 increase will double surface temperature (known as the Climate Sensitivity Equilibrium), or, the role of aerosols in slowing or

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New & Extremely Rare Species of River Dolphin Discovered in Brazil

Imagine: You are a zoologist on a research expedition, exploring the remote riverine ecosystems in some of the remotest parts of the Brazilian Amazon river basin…You have heard rumors from the local tribes people of a large, strange, long-nosed creature that inhabits the waters here (it’s bad luck to kill a such a creature)…You know

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Planet Earth Won't Die Out As 'Soon' As Previously Thought, New Models Predict

Barring some unstoppable and unforeseen geo-cataclysm such as a large asteroid impact, scientists who construct models of our planet’s distant future had previously posited a date of about 300 – 600 million years from now when an inexorable loss of water due to an expanding solar radius and consequent “run-away” greenhouse effect robs our planet

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Astronomers Capture First Image of 'Cosmic Web' That Holds Galaxies Together

Just a few years ago, indirect evidence, or “signatures”, of gigantic cosmic “tendrils”, or filaments, was discovered lurking around distant multi-galactic formations. Vast in scale but invisible, such filamentous structures apparently account for much of the missing matter required to keep galaxies intact (and prevent them from dispersing randomly throughout the cosmos). These intricately branching

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New Industrial Catalysts Developed – Promising 'Greener', Cheaper, Safer Drugs And Perfumes

Chemists at the University of Toronto have developed a new class of eco-friendly metal catalysts for use in a variety of industries that can viably replace the rare and expensive metals currently in use. Metal catalysts are necessary to produce the basic chemical structures (e.g., amines and alcohols) which are the basis of everything from

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Cancer Cells And Immune Cells Can Merge In Some Cases, New Study Confirms

A recent study to disprove the idea that some cancer and immune cells can merge and form a new, more potent cancer cell, actually ended up proving the validity of the theory — scattered evidence for which has been accumulating for quite some time. Biologist Alain Silk and colleagues from the Oregon Health and Science

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A 'Rigged' Game Of Monopoly Reveals How Feeling Wealthy Changes Our Behavior [TED VIDEO]

I remember playing various board games as a kid with my family and friends…games like parcheesi, The Game of Life, and Monopoly. And of all the games we played, it was that last game on my list that I liked the least (although I would be initially enthusiastic about playing it). Even though I was

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Up In Arms – Our Milky Way Galaxy Found to Have More 'Arms' Than Previously Thought

A team of astronomers and astrophysicists has identified over 120 groups of “young, massive stars” located in well-known star-forming regions of our galaxy and found that they map faithfully onto a four arm model of our galaxy, strongly indicating that The Milky Way galaxy has four spiral arms, instead of two as previously thought. Aided

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In First, Physicists Demonstrate Complex Quantum Phenomenon On The Macro-Scale Using Plastic Film [VIDEO]

In a first for Physics, scientists working at IBM Research have successfully demonstrated Bose-Einstein condensation — a complex quantum phenomenon in which multiple particles suddenly begin acting in unison — using a photo-luminescent polymer. What’s more, the phenomenon was demonstrated on the macroscale, and, at room temperature. The Bose-Einstein Condensate – When Many Act As

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New Lawsuits Seek to Grant Chimps And Highly Self-Aware Animals ‘Legal Persons’ Status

[UPDATED: Jan. 14, 2015; see UPDATE NOTE below] On Monday morning, December 2, an animal rights group called the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a lawsuit in the Supreme court of New York. The goal of the lawsuit — the first of three planned —ย  is to persuade the court that chimpanzees (and other highly

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Comet ISON Speeds Towards The Sun – Path May Spell Its Doom [VIDEO]

[UPDATED: Dec. 5, 2013 –ย  see note, below] This thrilling, deep space video of comet ISON (aka the newest ‘comet of the Century’) passing Earth and Mercury on its way towards the Sun (see below) comes to us courtesy of the Heliospheric Imager on-board NASA’s STEREO probe. The time frame of the comet’s path captured

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New 'Extreme' Form of Bacteria Found In NASA, ESA Clean Rooms

A completely new bacterial life form that appears to inhabit only space agency ‘clean rooms’ has been classified after more than three years of investigation and analysis. Microbial lifeforms that can survive and even thrive in extreme environments — known as extremophiles — have become the focus of much research in recent years. Such extreme-adapted

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Denisovan Hominins Interbred With An Unknown Early Human Species, New DNA Analysis Shows

The human family tree just got a little more crowded. A recent DNA analysis of the Denisovan (Denisova hominins) genome has revealed the presence of unusual genetic sequences not found in Neanderthal or any other known early hominin species — indicating the possible existence of a new unknown ancestor in the human family tree. In

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MIT Group Creates Amazing Interactive 'Touch' Display Technology [VIDEO]

Making Data ‘Tangible’: It’s called inFORM and it comes from MIT’s Tangible Media Group…and it’s got to be one of the coolest and most amazing interactive display technologies I’ve seen in, well, almost forever… According to the group’s website, ‘The Tangible Media Group, led by Professor Hiroshi Ishii, explores the Tangible Bits vision to seamlessly

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NASA To Launch Mars Probe 'MAVEN' – Will Be Carrying Haiku Poetry [POEMS]

On Monday, November 18, the launch window for NASA’s latest space probe mission will open and — weather permitting — an Atlas V rocket will lift off from Kennedy Space Center carrying MAVEN: Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution Mission (Ok, so it’s not a perfect acronym), which will collect Martian atmospheric data and perform other

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Citizen Astronaut Richard Garriott Proclaims A 'New Golden Age of Human Space Flight' [VIDEO]

When it comes to citizen space travel, Richard Garriottย de Cayeux doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk (or space walk?)…um…Let’s just say he knows of that which he speaks. A genuine “citizen astronaut”, Richard is the 6th private citizen to travel into space (above that critical altitude of 62 or so miles), and,

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The Zombies Among Us – Exploring The Resurgent Popularity of Zombies In Modern Culture

There are real zombies, or “sleep walkers”, in this world…the voodoo victims of hoodoo drug-induced slavery, normally restricted to the tribal cultures of Western Africa and the West Indies (following the introduction of African slaves to the New World)…and, presumably, their numbers are diminishing due to the great social disapproval of the practice and its

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Australian Expedition Discovers 'Lost World' – Three Never-Before-Seen Vertebrates Found [PHOTOS]

It would seem to be a rare thing indeed: an expedition to a remote mountain range results in the discovery of an ecological ‘lost world’…but that’s exactly what happened to biologist Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University (Queensland), along with a National Geographic film crew, after being dropped by helicopter onto the remote mountain range

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The Private Mission To Save Planet Earth (From Asteroids)

Our Solar system is a potentially world-altering place when it comes to asteroid impacts; planetary scientists continue to find plentiful evidence of multiple and massive asteroid impacts on other planets and the various moons that orbit them…And, of course, there is evidence of “extinction level” impacts occurring in the distant past here on Earth. Such

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How Poverty Impairs Mental Functioning And Promotes Risky Decision-Making

Researchers who study poverty have long-recognized that those who live in poverty frequently behave in less capable ways and engage in risky behaviors that both produce additional problems and also exacerbate their poverty status. Previous research on people living in long-term poverty (Shah et al, 2012, others) have shown fairly conclusively that lack of financial

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New Simulation Based On Popular Game Shows How Warfare 'Built' Early Civilizations

In our modern era, we can find ample evidence of the role of war in destroying societies, but historically, the opposite appears to be the case — war was instrumental in organizing early civilizations. Supporting evidence for this comes from an intriguing new model based upon the popular computer game Civilisation in which competing tribes

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A 'Wow Moment' For Planetary Science – Study Confirms Presence of Water In Mars Dirt

In a major achievement for planetary scientists, a study of soil samples collected and analyzed by the Mars rover Curiosity has confirmed the presence of water in the Martian dirt. The study — one of five using the new Mars data and published today in the journal Science — shows that the Red Planet’s soil

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New NASA Map Shows Where You Are Most Likely To Die From Air Pollution

Each year millions of premature deaths world-wide result from various forms of air pollution. According to a new atmospheric pollution model designed by earth scientist Jason West of the University of North Carolina (data from which informs the NASA map shown above), some 2.1 million deaths per year result from just one particular form of

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Dung Beetle Navigation, Mouse Heart Patient Opera, and Shrew Swallowing Among The 2013 'Ig Nobel' Prizes [VIDEO]

Coming a bit late this year, Improbable Research officially announced its 2013 list of Ig Nobel Prize winners on September 12 in its typically raucous fashion. Awarded annually for the past 23 years (with each new year being its “First Annual”), the Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded to ” achievements that first make people LAUGH

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BlobFish Declared ‘World’s Ugliest Animal’ To Aid Conservation Efforts

When it comes to conservation of rare and endangered animals, conservation groups and institutions tend to favor the more handsome species as emblems of their causes. This is understandable, we like looking at cute animals (and babies). Arguably, this “cuteness factor” is what makes us care about saving and protecting such creatures. But would we

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Element Crucial For Life On Earth Probably Came From Mars, New Study Finds

Owing to the fact that it is far easier for a chunk of Mars to travel to Earth than the other way around,ย  it is likely that certain elements necessary to catalyze the formation of biological molecules (like RNA and DNA) cameย  from our neighboring Red Planet. The vehicle for this interplanetary catalytic “seeding” was

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Swedish Engineers Invent 'Nano Gas' That 'Instantly Neutralizes' Carbon Pollution

The old saying “fighting fire with fire” may be true or not depending upon the situation, but if someone told you the best way to fight (carbon-based) gas is with another gas, you might raise a skeptical eyebrow or two. But that’s exactly what a Swedish engineering company is claiming: successful capture of carbon from

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Magnetic Stimulation of The Brain Used To 'Define Consciousness'

While our best brain theorists and cognitive philosophers still debate the exact nature of (and “threshold” for) consciousness, this same disagreement drives the need to define consciousness by doctors and neuroscientists treating or studying brain-damaged patients.ย  New research out of the University of Milan using a brain stimulation technique has derived an ‘index’ for measuring

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The Newest Theory To Explain The African 'Fairy Circle' Mystery – The Debate Continues

Earlier this year, a paper published in the journal Science (and reported here on PS) claimed to explain the long-standing puzzle of the African ‘Fairy Circles’ — the strange circular patches of barren, reddish- earth ringed by tall grasses that range in size from a few to several yards in diameter. The circles, which appear

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Cosmic 'Cold Spot' Challenges Inflation Model Of The Early Universe

This past spring, the most detailed mapping of the early universe was released to the public. Certain anomalous features of this map have attracted the intense scrutiny of astrophysicist and cosmologists. In particular, there appears to be a massive “cold spot” in the data distribution whereas the current Inflationary Model of the universe says there

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Researchers Develop 'Early Warning' Probe for Alzheimer's Disease – Advance May Lead To A Cure

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a hybrid nanoparticle-antibody probe that functions as an “early warning system” for detecting Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Neuroscientist William Klein and nanotechnologist Vinayak Dravid combined an engineeredย  antibody (an immune molecule that binds strongly with an antigen or pathogenic molecule) with iron-oxide nanoparticles to create a probe that — in

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