Two U.S. astronauts floated outside the International Space Station on Wednesday to replace a failed computer that serves as a backup to critical control systems, including the outpost's solar panel wings. Flight engineers Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson left the station's Quest airlock just after 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) for what was expected to be a 2-1/2-hour spacewalk. They carried with them a spare computer to be installed in the central section of the station's exterior power truss. "It looks like a great day to take a walk in space," Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen radioed to the crew from NASA's Mission Control in Houston.
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The chance of a city-killing asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed, a non-profit group building an asteroid-hunting telescope said on Tuesday. A global network that listens for nuclear weapons detonations detected 26 asteroids that exploded in Earth's atmosphere from 2000 to 2013, data collected by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization shows. "There is a popular misconception that asteroid impacts are extraordinarily rare ... that's incorrect," said former astronaut Ed Lu, who now heads the California-based B612 Foundation. The foundation on Tuesday released a video visualization of the asteroid strikes in an attempt to raise public awareness of the threat.
Sun seekers who leave northern Europe for warmer climes are marginally less happy than those left behind, a study found. A sample of more than 300 migrants from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain who resettled in Mediterranean countries found that they were slightly less satisfied with life than a much larger sample of 56,000 people living in northern countries. The sun lovers scored 7.3 out of a possible 10 on average on a "happiness" scale while the stay-at-homes came in at an average of 7.5 percent, according to the study released on Wednesday by Dr David Bartram, a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at England's University of Leicester. "The key finding from the analysis is that people from northern Europe who migrated to southern Europe are less happy than the stayers in northern Europe," Bartram said.
While moonwalker Buzz Aldrin thinks that a mission sending humans to an asteroid is a good idea, the Apollo astronaut isn't so happy with NASA's current plan to use a robot to shrink-wrap a space rock and park it near the moon. The space agency's asteroid plan centers on launching a robotic mission that aims to capture an asteroid — or a smaller boulder from a space rock — and deliver it to an orbit around the moon where astronauts can visit and sample it sometime in the 2020s. Aldrin would rather see NASA launch astronauts on a mission to an asteroid still in deep space. Under Aldrin's model, NASA would send an astronaut crew to an asteroid using the space agency's Space Launch System rocket and Orion space capsule.
A pair of NASA astronauts replaced a dead backup computer on the International Space Station during a short spacewalk Wednesday (April 23) to restore a critical computer system back to full strength. NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson made quick work of their repair during the spacewalk, removing the faulty station computer and installing a spare less than an hour after floating outside the orbiting laboratory at 9:56 a.m. EDT (1356 GMT). "It looks like a good day for you guys to take a walk in space," Mission Control radioed the astronauts as the spacewalk began. Mastracchio and Swanson replaced a computer known in NASA parlance as a Multiplexer-Demultiplexer, or MDM.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists are monitoring an iceberg roughly six times the size of Manhattan - one of the largest now in existence - that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean. NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said on Wednesday the iceberg covers about 255 square miles (660 square km) and is up to a third of a mile (500 meters) thick. Known as B31, the iceberg separated from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier last November, Brunt added. "It's one that's large enough that it warrants monitoring," Brunt said in a telephone interview, noting that U.S. government organizations including the National Ice Center keep an eye on dozens of icebergs at any given time.
By Jennifer Chaussee BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools. Kashkari's proposal would waive tuition for students pursuing a four-year degree in any science, technology, electronics, or math subject in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings after graduation. It came as Kashkari, trailing a distant third in recent polls behind incumbent Jerry Brown and Republican Tea Party favorite Tim Donnelly, is struggling to add momentum to his campaign before the June primary.
Shaun Lovejoy is a professor of physics at McGill University and president of the Nonlinear Processes Division of the European Geosciences Union. Last year, the Quebec Skeptics Society threw down the gauntlet: "If anthropogenic global warming is as strong as scientists claim, then why do they need supercomputers to demonstrate it?" My immediate response was, "They don't." Indeed, in 1896 — before the warming was perceptible — the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius, toiling for a year, predicted that doubling carbon dioxide (CO2) levels would increase global temperatures by 5 to 6 degrees Celsius, which turns out to be close to modern estimates. Yet the skeptics' question resonated: Global Circulation Models (GCM's) dominate climate research to such an extent that (even scientists!) can be forgiven for thinking these computer-driven models are essential. So I took up the challenge, and my answer appears in the research described in a paper recently published in the journal Climate Dynamics.
Graphene, single-atom-thick sheets of pure carbon, is lighter than steel but many times stronger, with better electrical conductivity than copper. One day graphene could support flexible electronics, solid lubricants and even a space elevator. But before that happens the stuff must be mass-produced, and a team led by Jonathan Coleman, a professor of chemical physics at Ireland's Trinity College in Dublin, thinks they've found a way to do it. They put graphite (from which graphene is derived) into a solution and stirred it with rotors moving at thousands of revolutions per minute — which worked even with an ordinary blender.
A gorgeous species of orchid in Panama has a new name — it was named after the family of the researcher who discovered the flower. The orchid, which belongs to the Lophiaris genus, was named Lophiaris silverarum after Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father, who discovered the plant about eight years ago while they were hiking in a mountainous area of central Panama. "I have always liked orchids, since I was a kid," said Silvera, who grew up surrounded by orchids because her parents own a commercial orchid business in Panama. "That got me into studying biology," Silvera said.
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.
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.)