Fri, 31 Oct 2014 20:24:03 -0400

Wreckage from Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is shown in this still image captured from KNBC video footage from Mojave CaliforniaBy Alex Dobuzinskis MOJAVE Calif. (Reuters) - A passenger spaceship being developed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company crashed during a test flight on Friday near the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, killing one pilot and seriously injuring the other, officials said. The crash of the suborbital vehicle, undergoing its first powered test flight since January over the Mojave Desert, 95 miles (150 km) north of Los Angeles, came days after another private space company, Orbital Sciences Corp, lost a rocket in an explosion moments after liftoff in Virginia. ...


Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:26:26 -0400

An unmanned Antares rocket is seen exploding seconds after lift off from a commercial launch pad in this still image from NASA video at Wallops IslandBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - As Orbital Sciences picks up the pieces, literally and figuratively, after its high-profile rocket launch explosion, accident investigators are looking closely at a potential first-stage engine problem. Technical data relayed from Orbital’s Antares rocket before and after Tuesday’s liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia, show everything was fine until the rocket’s ascent stopped 15 seconds into the flight, the company said in a status report issued late Thursday. ...


Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:23:38 -0400

NASA handout photo of an aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities in Wallops Island, VirginiaBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - Heeding a lesson from history, designers of a new generation of U.S. rockets will include escape systems to give crew members a fighting chance of surviving launch accidents such as the one that felled an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket on Tuesday. The U.S. space agency NASA bypassed escape systems for the now-retired space shuttle fleet, believing the spaceships to be far safer than they turned out to be. The illusion was shattered on Jan. ...


Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:26:40 -0400
By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The crash of an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket is a "wake-up call" to the U.S. space community about the need to develop a new U.S. rocket engine, the head of Boeing Co's defense division said on Thursday. Chris Chadwick, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said the failure of the rocket on Tuesday was a "sad and tragic" reminder that the space business was complex and difficult, but he did not expect a lasting setback to the overall industry. The incident underscored growing concerns about U.S. ...
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:59:47 -0400

Handout photo of an Eastern red-spotted newt at the Jefferson National Forest in VirginiaBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A skin-eating fungus that infiltrated Europe through the global wildlife trade is threatening to inflict massive losses on the continent's native salamanders including extinction of whole species and could do the same in North America, scientists say. An international research team said on Thursday the fungus, first detected in Europe last year, has killed salamanders in the Netherlands and Belgium and is expected soon to reach other European nations. They said it is closely related to another fungus that already has wiped out some amphibian species. ...


Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:05:06 -0400

Rare Look Inside Tiny Mouth Wins 'Small World' Photo ContestIn a photo contest that honors all things small, it's tough to beat a shot of a rotifer: A view into the mouth of one of the tiniest animals on the planet won the top prize in this year's Nikon Small World competition. Rotifers rank among tardigrades as the smallest creatures in the animal kingdom. The winning photo, captured by Rogelio Moreno, a programmer and self-taught microscopist from Panama, shows the open mouth of a rotifer surrounded by a heart-shaped corona, or a crown of cilia that sweep water into its maw. Moreno watched the rotifer for hours, waiting for the right opportunity to snap a shot of the constantly moving creature at the moment it opened its mouth, according to Nikon.


Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:19:42 -0400

Brraaiins! How Zombies Overran Pop CultureUnlike Dracula or Frankenstein, these Halloween monsters aren't based on a literary resource. In fact, the modern conception of a zombie dates back to 1968, in a movie that doesn't so much as use the word: George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead." "He didn't call them zombies, and he didn't think about them as zombies," said Ozzy Inguanzo, a screenwriter and author of "Zombies on Film: The Definitive Story of Undead Cinema" (Rizzoli, 2014). Since then, the walking undead have wormed their way into video games, comic books — and even the classics (witness 2009's novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).


Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:08:41 -0400
Autumn is a time for leaf peeping, jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie. The bright orange globes are the quintessential symbols of the season, and spooky jack-o'-lanterns have become a staple of Halloween celebrations everywhere. Pumpkins are perhaps the oldest domesticated plants on Earth, with archaeological and botanical evidence suggesting that people cultivated pumpkins as far back as 10,000 B.C., said Cindy Ott, an American studies professor at Saint Louis University in Missouri, and the author of "Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon," (University of Washington Press, 2012).
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:48:39 -0400

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes in Test Flight: 1 Dead, 1 InjuredVirgin Galactic's suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo crashed today (Oct. 31) in California during a rocket-powered test flight that resulted in the death of one pilot and injuries to the other one. SpaceShipTwo "suffered a serious anomaly" just after its rocket motor ignited for the test flight, leading to the crash of the spacecraft and death of one pilot. The pilots were with the Mojave, California-based aerospace company Scaled Composites, which built and is testing SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic. "Space is hard, and today was a tough day," Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said during a news conference today.


Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:10:53 -0400

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Spacecraft Crashes During Test FlightVirgin Galactic's suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo suffered a serious malfunction during a rocket-powered test flight over Mojave, California, today (Oct. 31) resulting in the loss of the spacecraft. The SpaceShipTwo passenger spacecraft experienced an unspecified anomaly after igniting its rocket motor shortly after the vehicle separated from its carrier plane WhiteKnightTwo. "Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today," Virgin Galactic officials said in a statement on Twitter today.


Fri, 31 Oct 2014 07:14:02 -0400

Racist Costumes to Egging Hazards: The Science of HalloweenHalloween isn't just an occasion to put on zombie makeup and binge-eat candy. From an analysis of racist costumes to an assessment of the hazards of egg throwing, here are a few strange chapters from the annals of Halloween science. They made her watch clips from "The Ring," "The Shining," "The Silence of the Lambs" and other horror movies.


Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:56:09 -0400
By Daniel Wallis (Reuters) - An Arizona school board has voted to remove information about contraception methods from a biology textbook after a conservative majority decided it fell afoul of a state law that says materials should give a preference to childbirth or adoption over abortion. The members of the Gilbert Public Schools board, which covers at least 38 schools and 39,000 students mostly in Chandler and Mesa, voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to excise two pages from "Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections. ...
Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:47:53 -0400

RIP, Drain Brain: Science Experiments Lost in Antares Rocket ExplosionWhen a private rocket exploded just after launch Tuesday (Oct. 28), science experiments developed by students, professional researchers and private companies went up in smoke. The private spaceflight company Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket was expected to launch the company's unmanned cargo-carrying Cygnus spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday evening. "We do want to express our disappointment that we were not able to fulfill our obligation to the International Space Station program and deliver this load of cargo, especially to the researchers who had science on board and the people that were counting on the various hardware and components that were going to the station," Orbital Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson said during a news conference after the rocket failure.


Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:33:00 -0400

NASA's Asteroid-Capture Mission Won't Help Astronauts Reach Mars: ScientistNASA's bold asteroid-capture mission is an expensive distraction that does little to advance the agency's overarching goal of getting humans to Mars, one prominent researcher argues. For the past 18 months, NASA has been working on a plan to drag an entire near-Earth asteroid, or a boulder plucked from a large space rock, into lunar orbit using a robotic probe. NASA officials say this "Asteroid Redirect Mission," or ARM, will help develop the technologies and know-how required to send astronauts to Mars, which the space agency hopes to accomplish by the mid-2030s. "The principal reason that ARM makes no sense is that it is a misstep off the path to Mars," Binzel told Space.com.


Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:32:22 -0400

Tiny Human Stomachs Grown in LabThey may be small, but new lab-grown miniature human stomachs could one day help researchers better understand how the stomach develops, as well as the diseases that can strike it. Using human stem cells and a series of chemical switches, researchers grew stomachs measuring 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) in diameter, in lab dishes, according to a report published today (Oct. 29) in the journal Nature. "It was really remarkable to us how much it looked like a stomach," said researcher Jim Wells, a professor of developmental biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Growing a miniature stomach had its hurdles.


Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:57:01 -0400
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservationists said on Tuesday they have brought giant tortoises found on the Galapagos island of Espanola back from the brink of extinction, gaining a foothold strong enough to allow humans to leave the reptiles alone. The tortoises can care for themselves," said James Gibbs, a vertebrate conservation biology professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry who led the study. Located in the Pacific about 600 miles (1,000 km) west of Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago is home to an array of unusual creatures that helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection following his 1835 visit. Española giant Galapagos tortoises, their scientific name is Chelonoidis hoodensis, measure 3 feet (1 meter) long with a saddle-backed shell.
Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:10:56 -0400

'Interstellar' Science: The Movie's Black Hole Explained (Video)"Interstellar" may be a work of fiction, but the upcoming film gives viewers an amazingly accurate view of a black hole, its creators say. Renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, an "Interstellar" executive producer, worked closely with the movie's visual-effects crew to come up with an unprecedentedly realistic portrait of "Gargantua," the monstrous black hole at the movie's core. "Neither wormholes nor black holes have been depicted in any Hollywood movie in the way that they actually would appear," Thorne said in a new explainer video produced by Wired magazine, which you can watch above. "I saw this disk wrap up over the black hole, and under the black hole," he said.


Mon, 27 Oct 2014 06:15:05 -0400
Is the federal government spending hundreds of thousands of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to gamble with monkeys and teach tiny sea creatures how to synchronize-swim? "Wastebook does not question whether the studies are within the realm of basic science but rather if they are groundbreaking enough to warrant taxpayer funding over other priority research, such as Ebola or ALS, or incurring increased debt," a spokesperson from Coburn's office told Live Science in an email.
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:04:10 -0400
Rotten eggs, horse urine, formaldehyde, bitter almonds, alcohol, vinegar and a hint of sweet ether.
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:16:46 -0400
Photographs of actress Renée Zellweger at the Elle magazine's Women in Hollywood awards this week, showing her dramatically different appearance, have sparked the Internet's interest. The 45-year-old actress looked almost unrecognizable to fans who know her best from her earlier movies such as "Jerry Maguire" and "Bridget Jones's Diary." But two cosmetic surgeons told Live Science that Zellweger's transformation could be the result of relatively minor procedures, as well as weight loss and normal aging. Zellweger looks so different because her most distinctive features are the ones that changed dramatically, said both Dr. Michael C. Edwards, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and Dr. Stuart Linder, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. "That's what made her Renee Zellweger," Edwards told Live Science.
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 20:03:47 -0400
University of Hawaii scientists plan to embark on a final expedition to deep waters off Oahu to study how chemical weapons dumped in the ocean decades ago are affecting seawater, marine life and sediment. ...
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:30:15 -0400

Woman walks past icons for Apple Apps at San Francisco retail storeBy Natasha Baker TORONTO (Reuters) - Parents eager to get their children away from television and video screens can turn to new apps that get youngsters to learn while playing in the real world. New iPad and iPhone apps for children by companies such as Osmo and Tiggly are designed to help children learn spatial, language, counting and physics concepts while playing with tangible objects. Tangram, Words and Newton from California-based Osmo let children manipulate objects in the real world and to interact with games on the screen. ...


Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:44:10 -0400

Record Bid! Early Apple Computer Sells for Nearly $1 MillionA working Apple-1 computer, a window from the Manhattan Project's bomb-development site and a letter from Charles Darwin discussing the details of barnacle sex will go on sale this month at an auction of rare scientific artifacts. A viewing window from the Manhattan Project — valued at around $200,000 — is another big-ticket item at the auction. The Manhattan Project was a secret government operation during World War II designed to develop the world's first atomic bomb, and included many famous scientists like J. Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. A collection of astronomer George Willis Ritchey's deep-space photographs, books and telescope blueprints is also on sale.


Mon, 20 Oct 2014 02:04:50 -0400
By Kathy Finn NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Perhaps no other city in the United States is as well-suited as New Orleans to wed a scientific discussion of environment with a celebration of the occult. That's exactly what unfolded on Saturday at "Anba Dlo," an annual New Orleans festival where prominent scientists joined with practitioners of the voodoo religion to look for answers to the challenges of dealing with water. In "The Big Easy," a low-lying Louisiana city devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and threatened by the BP oil spill of 2010, water is a subject nearly impossible to ignore. ...
Sat, 18 Oct 2014 08:57:20 -0400

Goliath Encounter: Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in RainforestPiotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat.


Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:50:45 -0400
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. officials have asked three advanced biology laboratories to submit plans for producing the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which ran out after it was given to a handful of medical workers who contracted the disease in West Africa, government and lab officials said on Friday. The "task order" issued on Thursday by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) asks that detailed plans, including budgets and timetables, be submitted by Nov. 10. ...
Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:47:56 -0400

Long holds up a copy of a magazine with an Ebola headline as public health officials testify before a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, in WashingtonBy Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. officials have asked three advanced biology laboratories to submit plans for producing the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which ran out after it was given to a handful of medical workers who contracted the disease in West Africa, government and lab officials said on Friday. The "task order" issued on Thursday by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) asks that detailed plans, including budgets and timetables, be submitted by Nov. 10. ...


Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:28:30 -0400

Comet's Mars Flyby Sunday Has Scientists AbuzzA comet's close shave with Mars this weekend could reveal some key insights about the Red Planet and the solar system's early days, researchers say. "On Oct. 19, we're going to observe an event that happens maybe once every million years," Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division, said in a news conference earlier this month. Siding Spring, whose core is 0.5 to 5 miles (0.8 to 8 km) wide, likely formed somewhere between Jupiter and Neptune about 4.6 billion years ago — just a few million years after the solar system began coming together. Many of the objects in the region where the comet was born were incorporated into newly forming planets, but a different fate awaited Siding Spring, researchers said: It apparently had a close encounter with one of these planets and was booted out into the Oort Cloud, a frigid comet repository at the very outer reaches of the solar system.


Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:15:07 -0400

Undated NASA handout picture of North Korea (the dark area) and South Korea as seen from the International Space StationBy Emma Anderson BERLIN (Reuters) - Scientists from around the world met this week to decide whether to call time on the Holocene epoch after 11,700 years and begin a new geological age called the Anthropocene - to reflect humankind's deep impact on the planet. For decades, researchers have asked whether humanity's impact on the Earth's surface and atmosphere mean we have entered the Anthropocene - or new human era. ...


Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:45:51 -0400

25 Years After Loma Prieta, Earthquake Science Is TransformedThe Oct. 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake was America's first widely-shared natural disaster. The TV crews at San Francisco's Candlestick Park soon turned their cameras on the ravaged city, and frightening images poured in of people trapped in crumpled freeways, burning buildings and toppled storefronts. The magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake, centered below the Santa Cruz Mountains, shook much of central California. The resulting damage ultimately revitalized San Francisco, with a new waterfront replacing the demolished Embarcadero Freeway and a $30 billion investment from public and private organizations for redevelopment and seismic upgrades.


Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:52:11 -0400
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - Saturn’s battered moon Mimas may have a thin global ocean buried miles beneath its icy surface, raising the prospect of another "life-friendly" habitat in the solar system, scientists said on Thursday. An underground ocean is one of two explanations for why the 400-mile (250-km) diameter moon wobbles as it orbits around Saturn, scientists using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft said. The other possibility is that Mimas has an oblong or rugby ball-shaped core. Follow-up measurements should provide more answers, the scientists said. ...
Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:16:12 -0400
By Kathryn Doyle NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Hapless lovers are not the only ones who get lost down there: even sexologists can’t agree on what’s what, and where, among women's female parts. At least, that’s according to a father-daughter team of researchers in Italy, Drs. Vincenzo and Giulia Puppo. In a new review October 6 in Clinical Anatomy, Vincenzo, of the Italian Center of Sexology in Bologna, and Giulia, a biologist at the University of Florence, point out some problems with some of newer anatomical and physiological terms researchers have been using since the mid-1990s. ...
Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:26:55 -0400

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2011 file photo, a natural gas well operated by Northeast Natural Energy is seen in Morgantown, W.Va. Cheap and plentiful natural gas isn’t quite a bridge to a brighter energy future as claimed and won’t slow global warming, a new study projects. Abundant natural gas in the United States has been displacing coal, which produces more of the chief global warming gas carbon dioxide. But the new international study says an expansion of natural gas use by 2050 would also keep other energy-producing technologies like wind, solar and nuclear, from being used more. And those technologies are even better than natural gas for avoiding global warming. (AP Photo/David Smith)WASHINGTON (AP) — Cheap and plentiful natural gas isn't quite a bridge to a brighter energy future as claimed and won't slow global warming, a new study projects.


Wed, 15 Oct 2014 07:14:05 -0400

New Exotic Particle Could Help Explain What Holds Matter TogetherA new exotic particle has been hiding out amidst the gobs of data collected by the world's largest atom smasher, physicists have discovered. The new particle, called Ds3*, is a meson — a type of unstable particle  made of one quark and one antiquark. They're held together by the strong interaction, or strong force, that is one of the four fundamental forces in nature. To find the new particle, Tim Gershon, a professor of physics at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, and his team used the Dalitz plot analysis.


Tue, 14 Oct 2014 09:38:38 -0400

New Tech Helps Pilots Navigate Dangerous Volcanic Ash PlumesNew technology to detect volcanic ash that threatens airplanes could help prevent a repeat of the air traffic chaos that followed a 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland. With satellites, scientists can detect tiny ash particles, but predicting where aircraft can safely fly is still a major hurdle. "The key issue for us is to develop an integrated monitoring and response system for future volcanic crises that can be used to respond quickly in the event of the formation of an ash cloud from Iceland," Hans Schlager, head of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the German Aerospace Center, said in a statement. Ash particles are jagged and sharp.


Thu, 09 Oct 2014 19:48:03 -0400
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - How do you make a better snake robot? You study snakes, of course. Researchers on Thursday said they conducted experiments to learn precisely how sidewinder rattlesnakes are able to climb sandy hills, then applied the reptiles' repertoire to an existing snake robot so it could do the same thing. The study, published in the journal Science, is an example of how scientists are applying knowledge of biology to improve technology. ...
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:06:17 -0400
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Lung cancer can lie dormant for more than 20 years before turning deadly, helping explain why a disease that kills more than 1.5 million a year worldwide is so persistent and difficult to treat, scientists said on Thursday. Two papers detailing the evolution of lung cancer reveal how after an initial disease-causing genetic fault -- often due to smoking -- tumour cells quietly develop numerous new mutations, making different parts of the same tumour genetically unique. ...
Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:53:46 -0400

Bright Idea: How Blue LEDs Changed the WorldThis year's Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three Japanese scientists for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), a technology that has touched society in innumerable ways and enabled technologies that Americans take for granted every day. "Blue LEDs made possible the white-light LEDs you can buy in a hardware store and put in your house," said H. Frederick Dylla, executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland. Without blue LEDs, the world wouldn't have backlit smartphones, TV and computer LCD screens, Blu-ray players, many forms of lighting and countless other technological marvels. Blue LEDs, in combination with red and green LEDs (which had been discovered previously), make it possible to produce white light.


Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:11:55 -0400

How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Cosmic-Ray DetectorIt's called the Distributed Electronic Cosmic-Ray Observatory (DECO), and unlike the huge, multimillion-dollar particle detectors housed in labs, DECO allows smartphone owners to turn their phone into a pocket-size cosmic-ray particle detector by downloading two apps and sticking a piece of duct tape over the camera lens to block out light particles. "The apps basically transform the phone into a high-energy particle detector," Justin Vandenbroucke, a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and creator of the apps, said in a statement. Cosmic rays are still a mystery to astrophysicists. Waves of cosmic rays are constantly breaking against the Earth's atmosphere.


Tue, 07 Oct 2014 12:22:06 -0400

Anne Rosinski, of the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources, center, shows reporters survey results of coral bleaching at a news conference at Heeia Small Boat Harbor in Kaneohe, Hawaii on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, while Frazer McGilvray, left, administrator of the division, and Kim Hum, right, of The Nature Conservancy, watch. Scientists say they’re seeing evidence of coral bleaching caused by higher-than-normal temperatures. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)KANEOHE, Hawaii (AP) — While people in Hawaii have been sweating out a lack of trade winds, corals underwater are also suffering.