Mon, 22 Sep 2014 06:39:14 -0400

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in SriharikotaBy Aditya Kalra NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian scientists successfully tested the main engine of a spacecraft bound for Mars on Monday and performed a course correction that puts the low-cost project on track to enter the red planet's orbit. The $74-million mission will attempt to enter orbit around Mars early on Wednesday. If successful, it will be the first time a mission has entered Mars' orbit on its first attempt, enhancing India's position in the global space race. "Main liquid engine test firing successful ... ...

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:42:28 -0400
By Jim Forsyth SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Privately owned SpaceX started construction in south Texas on Monday for what the company said will be the first private commercial orbital launch facility in the world. Space Exploration Technologies Corp, the company's formal name, last year entered the commercial satellite launch market. It broke ground at the site near Brownsville, not far from the Mexican border. The Hawthorne, California-based company, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, also flies cargo to the International Space Station under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. ...
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 06:06:00 -0400
By Alwyn Scott and Jeffrey Dastin NEW YORK (Reuters) - Aireon LLC, a provider of satellite-based aircraft monitoring, said on Monday it will offer its tracking data for free to help authorities search for future missing planes. The system will go live in 2017, when its parent company Iridium Communications Inc finishes installing 66 next-generation satellites plus spares that will provide real-time data to air traffic control centers. ...
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 03:10:58 -0400

Falcon 9 rocket is launched by Space Exploration Technologies on its fourth cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in FloridaBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday to deliver a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA. The 208-foot (63-meter) tall booster, built and launched by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, bolted off its seaside launch pad at 1:52 a.m. EDT/0552 GMT, slicing the night-time sky with a bright plume of light as it headed into orbit. ...

Sun, 21 Sep 2014 23:19:15 -0400

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is seen in this undated artist's conceptBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - A NASA robotic spacecraft fired its braking rockets on Sunday, ending a 10-month journey to put itself into orbit around Mars and begin a hunt for the planet’s lost water. After traveling 442 million miles (71 million km), the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft fired its six rocket thrusters, trimming its speed from 12,800 mph (20,600 kph) to 10,000 mph (16,093 kph). ...

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:04:11 -0400
Although the white coats that doctors wear have been scrutinized for their authoritarian look, the open-in-the-back gowns that hospital patients wear, and the effect these gowns have on patients' dignity and state-of-mind while in the hospital, have gone largely unexamined. "There are a number of ways in which the hospital system traumatizes patients, and one of those is that we take away the patients' clothes and put them in a somewhat depersonalizing, unisex blue gown, when that's not completely necessary," Dr. Todd Lee, an assistant professor of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, told Live Science.
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:30:32 -0400

Tiny Implants Could Give Humans Self-Healing SuperpowersA new military-sponsored program aims to develop a tiny device that can be implanted in the body, where it will use electrical impulses to monitor the body's organs, healing these crucial parts when they become infected or injured. Known as Electrical Prescriptions, or ElectRx, the program could reduce dependence on pharmaceutical drugs and offer a new way to treat illnesses, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. "The technology DARPA plans to develop through the ElectRx program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness," Doug Weber, program manager for DARPA's biological technologies office, said in a statement. The implant that DARPA hopes to develop is something akin to a tiny, intelligent pacemaker, Weber said.

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:18:46 -0400

Scientists Lead Huge Climate Change March in NYCNEW YORK — Lab-coat-clad and picket-sign-wielding scientists were on the frontlines of the People's Climate Change march yesterday (Sept. 21) along with hordes of students and others concerned about the planet's changing climate.

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:41:44 -0400

Jaw-dropping Aurora View Wins 2014 Astronomy Photo ContestA bright green aurora reflects off a glacial lake against the backdrop of a snow-covered mountain range in an incredible photo that took home first prize in an astrophotography competition. Representatives of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, have awarded James Woodend — the photographer behind the stunning aurora image — the overall prize in the observatory's Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest for 2014.

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:47:52 -0400

NASA Hails Mars Probe's 'Flawless' Arrival at Red PlanetNASA's newest Mars spacecraft is safely in orbit around the Red Planet, and the probe's handlers couldn't be happier. The MAVEN spacecraft arrived at Mars late Sunday (Sept. 21) after a picture-perfect orbital insertion burn that slowed the probe down enough to be captured by the Red Planet's gravity in a feat that had mission team members cheering with excitement and relief. "Wow! What a night," MAVEN project manager David Mitchell, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said Sunday during a press briefing after the probe reached the Red Planet. "You get one shot with Mars orbit insertion, and MAVEN nailed it tonight." [See images from the MAVEN mission]

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 07:23:22 -0400

Hints of Mysterious Dark Matter Revealed by Cosmic RaysA particle detector floating 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth has analyzed 41 billion cosmic-ray particles, and the data have revealed new insights into the mysterious and invisible dark matter that physicists believe makes up 27 percent of the universe. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) detector aboard the International Space Station already gathered evidence of dark matter last year, but the new results are the most precise measurements of cosmic-ray particles yet. They include 50 percent more data, and have revealed new insights into the origin of the particles found in cosmic rays, Samuel Ting, a professor of physics at MIT and an AMS spokesman, said during a live webcast at the CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) lab in Switzerland yesterday (Sept. 18). Physicists theorized the existence of invisible, and so far undetectable, dark matter as a way to explain why galaxies and celestial bodies don't just unravel and fly apart.

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:23:18 -0400

This Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 photo shows the exterior of the Lalo Delgado school campus in Denver. Four students were injured, one seriously, when a teacher was pouring methanol onto a table top and igniting it during a chemistry class demonstration last Monday. Educators and investigators say some teachers lack the training required by law and don't know about standard safety measures that can dramatically lower the inherent dangers of hands-on experiments they say are vital to science education. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)DENVER (AP) — A dazzling show of fire and color can make science come alive for young students, but it can also inflict serious and painful injuries, as flash fires in Nevada and Colorado showed this month.

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 07:37:04 -0400

MSF health workers prepare at ELWA's isolation camp during the visit of Senior U.N. System Coordinator for Ebola David Nabarro, at the camp in MonroviaBy Kate Kelland LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - The Ebola virus raging through West Africa is mutating rapidly as it tears a deadly path through cities, towns and villages, but the genetic changes are for now not giving it the ability to spread more easily. Concern that the virus could gain capability to transmit through the air - creating a nightmare scenario of the disease being able to spread like a flu pandemic, killing millions - was fueled by a top infectious disease expert in the United States. ...

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 22:05:04 -0400

Ig Nobel Prizes 2014: Jesus Toast, Dog Poop and Raucous ScienceThe brilliant minds behind research studies about how Earth's magnetic field affects pooping dogs and why people see Jesus in toast were honored tonight (Sept. 18) during one of the most purposefully ridiculous ceremonies in all of science: the Ig Nobel Prizes. Each year, the Ig Nobel Prizes (a parody of the somewhat more famous Nobel Prizes) are awarded to scientists whose research "makes people laugh and then think." Improbable Research, the organization that awards the prizes, runs the annual ceremony here at Harvard University's Sanders Theater. "The achievements speak for themselves all too eloquently," Master of Ceremonies Marc Abrahams said during tonight's Ig Nobel presentations. For example, this year's prize in Arctic science went to a group of researchers who dressed up like polar bears to see how reindeer in Norway would react compared with their reactions to humans.

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:01:25 -0400
By Bill Cotterell TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) - A group of 42 scientists from Florida universities submitted a joint letter on Thursday urging Governor Rick Scott and other state leaders to participate in a summit this fall to seek solutions for climate change. The group plans to host a conference of state and national policymakers and scientists Oct. 6 in Tampa, along with engineers and entrepreneurs who have "job-creating solutions." Scott, who is a Republican, has come under fire from environmentalists for not taking stronger action over sea level rise and climate change. ...
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:07:35 -0400

Celebrating Silly Science at the Ig Nobels: How to Watch Live TonightScience lovers with a sense of humor take note: it's time for the annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:56:02 -0400

Celebrating Silly Science at the Ig Nobels: How to Watch Live TonightYou can see for yourself on Thursday (Sept. 18) at the 24th annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, an event that honors the hilarious (and sometimes ridiculous) side of scientific research and discovery. Much like its slightly more famous counterpart, the Nobel Prize, the Ig Nobel Prize is bestowed upon those who have recently made significant contributions in such fields as chemistry, physics and biology. "The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think," according to a statement from Improbable Research, the organization behind the award ceremony. Ten Ig Nobels are awarded each year at Harvard's Sanders Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and this year's ceremony will be webcast live on Live Science.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:20:10 -0400
By Daniel Wallis (Reuters) - U.S. government researchers working with divers and sonar equipment have located the wrecks of what they dubbed "forgotten ghost ships" in waters just outside San Francisco's Golden Gate strait. The discoveries by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists follow a two-year project to find, identify and better understand some of the estimated 300 wrecks in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area. ...
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:03:21 -0400
In the 1998 movie "Armageddon," an asteroid the size of Texas threatens to collide with Earth in 18 days. To save the planet from destruction, a ragtag team of deep-sea oil drillers volunteers to divert the massive space rock by burying a nuclear bomb beneath its surface and blasting it into two pieces that will fly past Earth. But despite its entertainment value, the film is fantastically inaccurate, said astronomer Phil Plait, who writes the "Bad Astronomy" blog on During his talk, Plait showed a clip from "Armageddon" in which Bruce Willis' character struggles to detonate the bomb, by hand, before the asteroid smacks into Earth and destroys all life.
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 07:07:28 -0400

Climate Change Affects Shark Swimming in Strange WaySharks exposed to ocean water acidified by too much carbon dioxide alter their behavior, swimming in longer spurts than sharks in typical ocean water, particularly during their nighttime wanderings. The new findings, published today (Sept. 16) in the journal Biology Letters, are troubling, given that one effect of the human consumption of fossil fuels is to make ocean water more acidic. "Usually when you expose a fish to some kind of environmental stressor, they usually acclimate to that stressor, and that makes them less vulnerable to that stressor," said study researcher Fredrik Jutfelt, an animal physiologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. "But here, it seemed like this high CO2 [carbon dioxide] continued to be a stressor to these sharks for quite a long time." [On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks (Photos)]

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 22:50:48 -0400

colossal squidWELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — It was a calm morning in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea, during the season when the sun never sets, when Capt. John Bennett and his crew hauled up a creature with tentacles like fire hoses and eyes like dinner plates from a mile below the surface.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:34:45 -0400
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have agreed to pay nearly $146,000 to settle civil claims that they misused money from a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, federal officials said Tuesday.
Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:28:06 -0400

Astronomy Detectives Reveal Origin of Monet's 'Impression' PaintingAstronomical clues could pinpoint the day Claude Monet painted "Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise)," the art piece that lent its name to the Impressionist art movement. Based on the celestial detective work of Donald Olson, a Texas State University astronomer and physics professor, curators think they've identified the moment that Monet attempted to capture from his hotel room in the city of Le Havre, France: Nov. 13, 1872, 7:35 a.m.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:59:05 -0400

Saturn's Weird Fast-Changing Ring Baffles ScientistsOne of Saturn's iconic rings looks much different today than it did just a few decades ago, and scientists aren't sure why. NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft spotted many bright clumps in Saturn's F ring when they flew by the gas giant in the early 1980s. "Saturn's F ring looks fundamentally different from the time of Voyager to the Cassini era," study lead author Robert French, of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, said in a statement. French and his team have a hypothesis that could explain what's going on, and it's tied to the number of Saturn "moonlets" found near the F ring over the decades.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:57:35 -0400

US Military's Meteor Explosion Data Can Help Scientists Protect EarthAir Force and NASA have ironed out problems that prevented scientists from obtaining a steady stream of military tracking data on meteor explosions within Earth's atmosphere. Meteor detonations within Earth's atmosphere can be seen by U.S. Using this government data, in early 2013, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) launched a new website to share the details of meteor explosion events. Due to budget cuts and personnel reductions, NASA's military partner was no longer able to carry out the work.

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 06:21:22 -0400

NASA Defends Science Plan for Mars Rover CuriosityNASA is staunchly defending the science plans for its flagship Mars rover Curiosity in the wake of a recent senior-level review that at times harshly criticized the mission's science operations. Curiosity had been driving toward the mountain since it landed on Mars in 2012. NASA officials lauded the success so far of Curiosity's $2.5 billion mission. Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science, was quick to point out Curiosity's early success, citing the rover's discovery that Mars was once a habitable world in the ancient past — a key mission goal.

Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:00:03 -0400

Strong Solar Flares This Week a Rare Double Whammy, Scientists SayTwo powerful solar storms arriving at Earth today have captured the public's attention for their potential to spark amazing auroras, but scientists say there's another reason to watch. The solar double whammy is actually somewhat rare.

Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:05:34 -0400
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - British and Japanese scientists have managed to "reset" human stem cells to their earliest state, opening up a new realm of research into the start of human development and potentially life-saving regenerative medicines. In work described by one independent expert as "a major step forward", the scientists said they had successfully rebooted pluripotent stem cells so they were equivalent to those of a 7 to 10-day old embryo, before it implants in the womb. By studying the reset cells, they said they hoped they would now be able to learn more about embryo development, and how it can go wrong and cause miscarriage and developmental disorders. "These cells may represent the real starting point for formation of tissues in the human embryo," said Austin Smith, director of the Britain's Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, who co-led the research published in the journal Cell on Thursday.
Wed, 10 Sep 2014 21:49:34 -0400
WASHINGTON (AP) — A strong solar flare is blasting its way to Earth, but the worst of its power looks like it will barely skim above the planet and not cause many problems.
Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:33:46 -0400

This undated image provided by NASA shows the ozone layer over the years, Sept. 17, 1979, top left, Oct. 7, 1989, top right, Oct. 9, 2006, lower left, and Oct. 1, 2010, lower right. Earth protective but fragile ozone layer is finally starting to rebound, says a United Nations panel of scientists. Scientists hail this as rare environmental good news, demonstrating that when the world comes together it can stop a brewing ecological crisis. (AP Photo/NASA)WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth's protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported Wednesday in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet.

Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:39:04 -0400

File photo of a white-handed gibbon swings on a rope at 'Tiergarten Schoenbrunn' Zoo in ViennaBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gibbons - the small, long-armed tree swingers that inhabit the dense tropical forests of Southeast Asia - have become the last of the planet's apes to have their genetic secrets revealed. "We now have whole genome sequences for all the great apes and, with this work, also the small apes - gibbons," said Jeffrey Rogers, a primate genetics researcher at the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "This provides new information and insight into the history of the human genome, in evolutionary terms," added Rogers, who participated in the study published in the journal Nature. Among the great apes, the chimpanzee genome was published in 2005, followed by the orangutan in 2011 and the gorilla and the bonobo in 2012.

Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:54:16 -0400

Zombie Fungus Enslaves Only Its Favorite Ant BrainsInstead, the microorganism is somehow able to recognize the brains of different ant species, and releases its mind-controlling chemical cocktail only when in its preferred host, new research shows. "Behavioral manipulation is such a complex [characteristic] that it only occurs when there's a very close coevolution between pathogen and host," said Charissa de Bekker, a molecular biologist at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the new study, published in August in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. "The theory is that every species of ant has its own species of fungi that it gets infected by," de Bekker told Live Science.

Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:49:49 -0400

New Particle Detector Could Reveal Universe's Missing AntimatterA new ultra-precise particle detector is being developed to investigate the bizarre properties and behaviors of tiny elementary particles that seem to defy the laws of traditional physics. Department of Energy recently awarded $1.2 million to a team of physicists from Indiana University's Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter to build the new particle detector. The Standard Model is thought to be the golden rule of particle physics. In particular, physicists think the Belle II detector could reveal more about the uneven distribution of matter and antimatter in the universe.

Mon, 08 Sep 2014 15:36:36 -0400

Stephen Hawking Says 'God Particle' Could Wipe Out the UniverseStephen Hawking bet Gordon Kane $100 that physicists would not discover the Higgs boson. After losing that bet when physicists detected the particle in 2012, Hawking lamented the discovery, saying it made physics less interesting. Now, in the preface to a new collection of essays and lectures called "Starmus," the famous theoretical physicist is warning that the particle could one day be responsible for the destruction of the known universe.

Sat, 06 Sep 2014 20:31:43 -0400
LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — Noel Hinners, a former chief scientist for NASA who helped plan the scientific exploration of the moon for the Apollo program and later oversaw projects such as the Mars Surveyor Program, has died.
Sat, 06 Sep 2014 09:48:36 -0400
Not all caffeine is created equal. Researchers recently sequenced the genome of the coffee plant and found the caffeine in your morning cup evolved independently from caffeine found in other plants.
Fri, 05 Sep 2014 20:57:41 -0400

Oversized Alien-Like 'Shrimp' Caught Off Florida Is ID'edIt's not every day that an ordinary fishing trip turns into an encounter with an oversized alien-like sea creature, but that's what happened recently to one Florida fisherman. Steve Bargeron was fishing off a dock in Fort Pierce, Florida, last week when a couple fishing nearby pulled up what Bargeron jokingly described as an "alien creature." The couple wasn't interested in keeping the strange, lobster-like animal, which was flopping its tail wildly, Bargeron told Live Science. But Bargeron's close encounter with this strange-looking specimen isn't really that strange after all, according to Roy Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Caldwell said he saw the photos online and instantly recognized the creature as a mantis shrimp, or stomatopod, a marine crustacean commonly found in the waters off Florida.

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 19:21:05 -0400

FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2014 file photo, bricks and debris surround the Alexandria Square building in Napa, Calif., following an earthquake Sunday. Emerging data on last month’s Northern California earthquake is explaining why the city of Napa suffered so much of the damage. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Emerging data on last month's 6.0 magnitude earthquake shows it directed most of its force north toward Napa and the Napa Valley, hitting hard enough to move one side of the West Napa Fault north by 18 inches, the head of the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Science Center said Thursday.

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 18:39:18 -0400

File photo of coffee beans being packed for export in MedanBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If you prefer your genetic research to be rich, bold, flavorful, steaming hot and with a bit of a kick, try a mug full of this: Scientists have deciphered the coffee genome and found genetic secrets that may make your cup of joe even better in the future. An international team of researchers on Thursday unveiled the newly sequenced genome of the coffee plant. They pinpointed genetic attributes that could help in the development of new coffee varieties better able to endure drought, disease and pests, with the added benefit of enhancing flavor and caffeine levels. It accounts for about 30 percent of the world's coffee production and is common in instant coffee.

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