By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A cargo ship owned by Space Exploration Technologies arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday, with a delivery of supplies and science experiments for the crew and a pair of legs for the experimental humanoid robot aboard that one day may be used in a spacewalk. Station commander Koichi Wakata used the outpost's 58-foot (18-meter) robotic crane to snare the Dragon capsule from orbit at 7:14 a.m. (1114 GMT), ending its 36-hour journey. "The Easter Dragon is knocking at the door," astronaut Randy Bresnik radioed to the crew from Mission Control in Houston. Space Exploration, known as SpaceX, had planned to launch its Dragon cargo ship in March, but was delayed by technical problems, including a two-week hold to replace a damaged U.S. Air Force radar tracking system.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This may be the role reversal to end all role reversals. That's why I was really surprised to see the structure," entomologist Kazunori Yoshizawa of Japan's Hokkaido University said by email. Yoshizawa said that although sex-role reversal has been documented in several different types of animals, these insects are the sole example in which the "intromittent organ" - the male sex organ - is reversed, Yoshizawa said. Yoshizawa said the females of Neotrogla can hold male mates coercively using their gynosome.
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men. The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved "therapeutic cloning" of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease. But nuclear transfer is also the first step in reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate of someone - a technique that has sparked controversy since the 1997 announcement that it was used to create Dolly, the clone of a ewe.
The discovery, announced on Thursday, is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin. The star's outermost planet, designated Kepler-186f, receives about one-third the radiation from its parent star as Earth gets from the sun, meaning that high noon on this world would be roughly akin to Earth an hour before sunset, said astronomer Thomas Barclay, with NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "This planet is an Earth cousin, not an Earth twin," said Barclay, who is among a team of scientists reporting on the discovery in the journal Science this week. NASA launched its Kepler space telescope in 2009 to search about 150,000 target stars for signs of any planets passing by, or transiting, relative to the telescope's point of view.
While scientists aren't yet sure of the exact recipe, they think radiation-blasted ice powered the chemical reactions that produced vitamin B3, or niacin, early in the solar system's history. "Vitamin B3 is essential to metabolism and likely very ancient in origin," lead study author Karen Smith of Pennsylvania State University said in a statement. The meteorite's vitamin B3 levels ranged from 30 to 600 parts per billion, the study reports. The amount of vitamin B3 in the meteorites was linked to how much their parent asteroids were altered by water, Smith said.
Across the western United States, wildfires grew bigger and more frequent in the past 30 years, according to a new study that blames climate change and drought for the worsening flames. "It's not just something that is localized to forest or grasslands or deserts," said lead study author Phil Dennison, a geographer at the University of Utah. These fire trends are very consistent with everything we know about how climate change should impact fire in the West," Dennison told Live Science. The number of fires jumped by seven per year since 1984, and fires burned an additional 90,000 acres (36,000 hectares) each year, according to the study, published online April 4 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
It's not exactly the Easter bunny, but a commercial Dragon cargo ship built by SpaceX made an Easter delivery to the International Space Station Sunday (April 20) to deliver tons supplies, and possibly even some treats, for the astronauts on board. The robotic Dragon spacecraft arrived at space station Sunday morning, floating within reach of the orbiting laboratory's robotic arm. Station astronauts used the arm to capture the Dragon spacecraft as both spacecraft sailed 260 miles (418 kilometers) above Egypt and the Nile River. "Great work catching the Dragon," NASA astronaut Jack Fischer radioed the station crew Mission Control in Houston.
The discovery, announced on Thursday, is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin. The star’s outermost planet, designated Kepler-186f, receives about one-third the radiation from its parent star as Earth gets from the sun, meaning that high noon on this world would be roughly akin to Earth an hour before sunset, said astronomer Thomas Barclay, with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “This planet is an Earth cousin, not an Earth twin,” said Barclay, who is among a team of scientists reporting on the discovery in the journal Science this week. NASA launched its Kepler space telescope in 2009 to search about 150,000 target stars for signs of any planets passing by, or transiting, relative to the telescope’s point of view.
For the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-sized alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an "Earth cousin" that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life. The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. "One of the things we've been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Tom Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research, told Space.com.
If you really want to learn how babies are made, you need to know about Juno and Izumo. Fertilization takes place when an egg cell and a sperm cell recognize one another and fuse to form an embryo. Researchers said on Wednesday they have identified a protein on the egg cell's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of a sperm cell, allowing the two cells to join. This protein, dubbed Juno in honor of the ancient Roman goddess of fertility and marriage, and its counterpart in sperm, named Izumo after a Japanese marriage shrine, are essential for reproduction in mammals including people, they said.
This month, you can fly along the Gulf of Mexico seafloor and explore a strange ecosystem fueled by chemicals instead of sunlight, all from your computer. The journey to the deep sea comes courtesy of a remotely operated vehicle and camera sled that will send back live video to the Okeanos Explorer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's research vessel. Scientists aboard the Okeanos are exploring the Gulf of Mexico's deep underwater habitats, which include mud volcanoes, methane seeps, brine pools, submarine canyons and shipwrecks. On the first dive, which occurred Saturday (April 12), researchers discovered oil and gas bubbles seeping from the seafloor near a large brine pool — very salty water ponded on the seafloor.
Strong winds brought a forest fire into this port city of 280,000 over the weekend, NASA's Earth Observatory reports. An instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured this snapshot of smoke from Valparaiso at 11:10 a.m. local time on Sunday (April 13). "One of the things that keeps coming out of my studies is that fire frequency tends to be highest when there's low to medium housing density and when homes are scattered in isolated clusters of development," Alexandra Syphard, an ecologist at the Conservation Biology Institute in La Mesa, Calif., told Live Science in 2013.
Four prominent cosmologists say they were misquoted in a documentary trailer promoting a claim debunked more than 450 years ago: that the Earth is in a privileged spot in the universe. Co-producer Robert Sungenis did not respond to multiple interview requests from Live Science. His trailer received universal ridicule among scientists interviewed for this story, including Lawrence Krauss, who was portrayed in the preview. "I'd be more upset, except the idea is so stupid that in the end, it will just reflect badly on them," said Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University.
The popularity of weird beards and mustaches among young men living in Brooklyn, N.Y., may be more than just a hipster fad. According to a new study, women and men find facial hair most attractive when it is rare. When shown men's faces, men and women study participants consistently rated the faces with beards or stubble as more attractive than clean-shaven faces. But beards were most alluring when facial hair was rare, whereas clean-shaven faces gained in popularity when hairy faces were the norm.
The existence of exotic hadrons — a type of matter that doesn't fit within the traditional model of particle physics — has now been confirmed, scientists say. Researchers working on the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland — where the elusive Higgs boson particle was discovered in 2012 — announced today (April 14) they had confirmed the existence of a new type of hadron, with an unprecedented degree of statistical certainty. "We've confirmed the unambiguous observation of a very exotic state — something that looks like a particle composed of two quarks and two antiquarks," study co-leader Tomasz Skwarnicki, a high-energy physicist at Syracuse University in New York said in a statement. The Standard Model of particle physics allows for two kinds of hadrons.
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent BERLIN (Reuters) - A United Nations report said on Sunday that governments must act faster to keep global warming in check and delays until 2030 could force them to use little-tested technologies to extract greenhouse gases from the air. The study, drawing on work by more than 1,000 experts, said a radical shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power would shave only about 0.06 of a percentage point a year off world economic growth. "It does not cost the world to save the planet," Ottmar Edenhofer, a German scientist who is co-chair of a meeting of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told a news conference in Berlin. The report, endorsed by governments, is meant as the main scientific guide for nations working on a U.N. deal to be agreed in late 2015 to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that have hit repeated highs this century, led by China's industrial growth.
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent BERLIN (Reuters) - A United Nations report said on Sunday that governments must act faster to slow global warming and delays until 2030 could force reliance on little-tested technologies to extract greenhouse gases from the air. The study, drawing on work by more than 1,000 experts, said a radical shift from conventional fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power would shave only about 0.06 percentage point a year off world economic growth. "It does not cost the world to save the planet," Ottmar Edenhofer, a German scientist who is co-chair of a meeting of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told a news conference in Berlin. The report, endorsed by governments, is meant as the main scientific guide for nations working on a U.N. deal to be agreed in late 2015 to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that have hit repeated highs this century, led by China's industrial growth.
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent BERLIN (Reuters) - Faster action is needed to keep global warming to agreed limits and delays until 2030 could force reliance on technologies to extract greenhouse gases from the air, a U.N. report said on Sunday. The study, drawing on the work of more than 1,000 experts, said a shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power was affordable and would shave only about 0.06 percentage point a year off world economic growth. "We have a window of opportunity for the next decade, and maximum the next two decades" to act at moderate costs, said Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of a Berlin meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report, endorsed by governments, is meant as the main scientific guide for nations working on a U.N. deal to be agreed in late 2015 to rein in world greenhouse gas emissions that have hit repeated highs, led by China's industrial growth.
By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Four young women born with abnormal or missing vaginas were implanted with lab-grown versions made from their own cells, the latest success in creating replacement organs that have so far included tracheas, bladders and urethras. Follow-up tests show the new vaginas are indistinguishable from the women's own tissue and have grown in size as the young women, who got the implants as teens, matured. It is not yet clear whether these women can bear children, but because they are menstruating, it suggests their ovaries are working, so it may be possible, said Dr Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina. The feat, which Atala and colleagues in Mexico describe in the journal the Lancet, is the latest demonstration from the growing field of regenerative medicine, a discipline in which doctors take advantage of the body's power to regrow and replace cells.
Scientists who examined a controversial fragment of papyrus written in Egyptian Coptic in which Jesus speaks of his wife concluded in papers published on Thursday that the papyrus and ink are probably ancient and not a modern forgery. The existence of the fragment, known as the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife," was made public at an academic conference in 2012. It is seen by some as a glimpse of how ancient Christians thought while decried by others, including the Vatican, as an absurd fake. Scientific studies performed over the last two years at various universities suggest both the ink and the papyrus are probably no newer than the 9th century and that the language and writing style are authentic for the period.
Brian Dyak is president, CEO and co-founder of the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) and executive producer of EICnetwork.tv. While most of us remember his familiar character from our youthful classroom activities and childhood television favorites, Nye, a former mechanical engineer, continues to capture our hearts and minds with his insights into the science and technology world. In his interview, Nye asks us to ponder how "everything you can touch and see, everything, came out of someone's head." Science and technology affects and changes the world every day. His curiosity ultimately led him on a path to become a mechanical engineer for Boeing — before he won a Steve Martin look-alike contest and entered into comedy, to later be followed by his career promoting science and technology.
"We're trying to create some new knowledge," said Sam Avery, an aerospace engineering undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego, who is leading a team of flyers to NASA's Johnson Space Center. "[On Earth] the convective flow basically speeds up the combustion process and makes it so that you can't get an actual burning rate for your fuel," Avery told Space.com. In two separate flights as part of NASA's competitive Microgravity University Program, Avery's team is going to be measuring the burn rate of four different biofuels: butanol, ethanol, E85 and kerosene. Avery's supply was donated by a local gas station in California.)
Bringing astrophysics to the masses is difficult at the best of times, but how do you communicate such complex science to students in underserved groups, such as those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing? One research team has developed a unique approach: Use dance and stunning backdrops to teach the mathematics and physics of merging black holes. Manuela Campanelli, is director of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation (CCRG) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where she and her colleagues study how black holes merge. Through a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Campanelli and her team have built an astrophysics and dance public engagement program, AstroDance, around their original research and a smaller, but popular, demonstration they presented during the Light in Winter Festival in Ithaca, N.Y.
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has reached its next study area and is now scoping out rocks that it will take an up-close look at over the next few weeks. The Curiosity rover snapped new photos of Mars after driving 98 feet (30 meters) on Wednesday (April 2) and topping a small hill that affords a good view of the surrounding area, which NASA scientists have dubbed "the Kimberley," officials said. "This is the spot on the map we've been headed for, on a little rise that gives us a great view for context imaging of the outcrops at the Kimberley," Melissa Rice of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the science team lead for Curiosity's work at the site, said in a statement. Four different types of rock intersect at the Kimberley, providing Curiosity with a wealth of material to study.
Millions of fans of the HBO series "Game of Thrones" are girding themselves for the April 6 premiere of the wildly popular show's fourth season. Amid palace intrigue, gruesome assassinations, dark religious rituals, bloody battle scenes, fire-breathing dragons and enough lusty sexual escapades to shame a Roman orgy, there's plenty to keep viewers hooked on the series, based on George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" books. And when that happens in "Game of Thrones," there's usually someone on hand to offer them milk of the poppy, a painkiller that can, in high doses, lead to unconsciousness.
Yellowstone National Park assured guests and the public on Thursday that a super-volcano under the park was not expected to erupt anytime soon, despite an alarmist video that claimed bison had been seen fleeing to avoid such a calamity. Yellowstone officials, who fielded dozens of calls and emails since the video went viral this week following an earthquake in the park, said the video actually shows bison galloping down a paved road that leads deeper into the park. Contrary to online reports, it's a natural occurrence and not the end of the world," park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said. Assurances by Yellowstone officials and government geologists that the ancient super-volcano beneath the park is not due to explode for eons have apparently done little to quell fears among the thousands who have viewed recent video postings of the thundering herd.
By Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster is unlikely to lead to a rise in the number of people developing cancer like after Chernobyl in 1986, even though the most exposed children may face an increased risk, U.N. scientists said on Wednesday. In a major study, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said it did not expect "significant changes" in future cancer rates that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the reactor meltdowns. However, some children - estimated at fewer than 1,000 - might have received doses that could affect the risk of developing thyroid cancer later in life, UNSCEAR said, making clear that the probability of that happening was still low. UNSCEAR chair Carl-Magnus Larsson said there was a theoretical increased risk among the most exposed children as regards to this type of cancer, which is a rare disease among the young.
By Sharon Begley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A year to the day after U.S. President Barack Obama announced a $100 million "BRAIN Initiative" to accelerate discoveries in how gray matter thinks, feels, remembers, and sometimes succumbs to devastating diseases, scientists on Wednesday said they had achieved a key milestone toward that goal. Writing in the journal Nature, they unveiled the mouse 'connectome,' a map showing the sinuous connections that neurons make throughout the mouse brain as they form functional circuits. The mouse connectome "provides the most detailed analysis of brain circuitry currently available for any mammalian brain," said neuroscientist David Van Essen of Washington University in St. Louis, co-leader of the human connectome project, which aims to do that for Homo sapiens. "It is truly a landmark study." A connectome is essentially a wiring diagram.