Woolly mammoth arrives in Japan from Russia

A 39,000-year-old frozen woolly mammoth is unpacked on Tuesday in Yokohama, Japan, where it is to be exhibited. The mammoth, nicknamed Yuka, was discovered three years ago with relatively intact body and fur in Russias Sakha Republic. She is believed to have died when she was 10 years old. Woolly mammoths became extinct around 4,000 years ago

Media companies, the Yomiuri Shimbun, Nippon Television Network Corporation, BS Nittere and a ticketing company, Pia, sponsored the exhibit.

It is the first chance for the public to see a carcass whose body, but more importantly, fur is relatively intact.

‘With this, we can dig deeper into the reasons why extinct species became extinct and apply the lessons learnt to the human race which might be facing its own dangers of extinction. I think it can help us learn to reflect more deeply about our own existence,’ mammoth expert Norihisa Inuzuka told Reuters.

Yuka is missing her organs and debate continues regarding when they were removed and where they are now.

Scientists have put the mammoth at the top of the list of extinct animals to revive and have cloning attempts began in the 90s.

The exhibition lasts from July 13 and wraps up on September 16, 2013.



Japan is the place to be to catch a rare annular eclipse and Venus transit this summer

If you’re in the right place, a couple of rare astronomical events in the coming weeks — an annular eclipse and a transit of Venus — may make it worthwhile to buy a pair of eclipse glasses.

Tokyo last experienced an annular eclipse — when the edge of the sun appears as a bright ring around the moon — 173 years ago, in September 1839. The next isn’t due for hundreds of years.

Weather permitting, residents of much of Japan, including Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, can treat themselves to the sight early on the morning of May 21.

Read the rest of the story: Tokyo to be treated to rare annular eclipse, Venus transit.

The Big One: New Sea Sediment Samples to tell of past ‘Tohoku quakes’

Previous earthquakes that rivalled the March 2011 Tohoku tremor in size may be recorded in sediment samples just recovered from the seafloor off Japan.

A German-led scientific cruise obtained the cores from 16 different locations, some of them at a water depth of 7.5km.

The sediments hint at three major disturbances on the ocean bed that could be the result of the submarine landslides often seen with big quakes.

The researchers are currently trying to identify and date the events.

Read the rest of the story: Japan sea sediments tell of past ‘Tohoku quakes’.

Japanese astronomers find most distant galaxy cluster

Japanese astronomers said Wednesday they had found a cluster of galaxies 12.72 billion light-years away from Earth, which they claim is the most distant cluster ever discovered.

Using a powerful telescope based in Hawaii, the team peered back through time to a point just one billion years after the Big Bang, the birth of the universe.

“This shows a galaxy cluster already existed in the early stages of the universe when it was still less than one billion years into its history of 13.7 billion years,” the team of astronomers said in a press release.

Read the rest of the story: Japan astronomers find most distant galaxy cluster.


Japan quake may have caused plate shift

Global positioning system data indicated a seismic shift occurred from the March 11 earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan, research indicates.

The 9-magnitude earthquake that shook Japan eased strain from the Japanese trench that had accumulated over hundreds of years, said the report published Wednesday on Nature’s Web site.

The findings support the importance of GPS observations when assessing future earthquake potential, the authors said.

Read the rest of the story: Japan quake may have caused plate shift.

Billions of Planets Drift Alone, Far From Parent Stars

Astronomers said Wednesday that space was littered with hundreds of billions of planets that had been ejected from the planetary systems that gave them birth and either were going their own lonely ways or were only distantly bound to stars at least 10 times as far away as the Sun is from the Earth.

There are two Jupiter-mass planets floating around for each of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, according to measurements and calculations by an international group of astronomers led by Takahiro Sumi, of Osaka University in Japan, and reported in the journal Nature.

Read the rest of the story: Billions of Planets Drift Alone, Far From Parent Stars – NYTimes.com.


Instruments capture Japan quake movement

Japan’s 11 March mega-quake shifted the ocean floor sideways by more than 20m (65ft), according one instrument placed on the seabed off the nation’s coast.

This direct measurement exceeds the displacement suggested by some models built only from data gathered on land.

The figure was recorded by the Japan Coast Guard which maintains underwater geodetic equipment along the fault responsible for the giant tremor.

An upwards movement of 3m (10ft) was registered by the same instrument.

Read the rest of the story: Instruments saw Japan quake lurch.

Japan earthquake: Radon gas heated up Atmosphere ‘rapidly’ days before disaster

The atmosphere directly above the fault zone which produced Japan’s recent devastating earthquake heated up significantly in the days before the disaster, a study has shown.

Before the March 11 earthquake, the total electron content in a part of the upper atmosphere, called the ionosphere, increased dramatically over the earthquake’s epicentre, reaching a maximum three days before the quake struck.

It is believed that in the days before an earthquake, the stresses on geological faults in the Earth’s crust causes the release of large amounts of radon gas.

Read the rest of the story: Japan earthquake: Atmosphere above epicentre heated up ‘rapidly’ days before disaster.

Hayabusa Asteroid Samples Reveal Evidence of heat 4.6 billion yrs ago

Particles brought back by Japan’s Hayabusa unmanned space probe, which returned to Earth from the asteroid Itokawa last June, show signs that the material constituting the asteroid may have been formed in high temperatures at the time the solar system was created 4.6 billion years ago, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said in a preliminary analysis report Thursday.

The agency also said organic substances, which could help explain the origins of life, have not been found in the samples.

JAXA has been examining the particles in cooperation with scientists across the country, with the hope of shedding light on the origin of the solar system, as Itokawa is said to have maintained its form from the time the solar system was created.

Read the rest of the story: Evidence of heat 4.6 billion yrs ago found in asteroid samples+.

Japan’s high-cost of medical treatment

When NHK’s in-depth news program, "Closeup Gendai," addresses a pressing social issue, it usually offers possible solutions articulated by experts. Two weeks ago, however, the show covered a problem that seems to have no solution. The subject of the opening segment was a middle-aged man who was diagnosed with leukemia 10 years ago. His doctor estimated he had four or five years left to live. Then the anti-cancer drug Glivec was approved by the health ministry. Glivec attacks cancerous cells without destroying healthy cells. It is not a cure, but rather a treatment that prevents the leukemia from worsening.

Glivec is expensive. One pill costs ¥3,128, and a patient needs to take four a day. That adds up to over ¥4.5 million a year. Since Glivec is covered by national health insurance, the patient would pay 30 percent, or around ¥1.35 million a year, but the government also subsidizes approved treatment that is deemed too expensive for some people. Under this kogaku iryo seido (high-cost medical system), the man’s out-of-pocket payments for Glivec was reduced to ¥500,000 a year.

Read the rest of the story: The bitter pill of Japan’s high-cost medical treatment.