EU scientists have found that the new car coolant at the centre of a dispute that has pitched regulators against Germany and its luxury carmaker Daimler does not pose any serious safety risks, the European Commission said on Friday. The Commission, the EU executive, has launched legal proceedings against Germany over Daimler's refusal to stop using an old-style coolant that has global warming potential more than 1,000 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. The suggested substitute, which has roughly the same impact as carbon dioxide, is the R1234yf coolant developed by U.S. conglomerate Honeywell in partnership with Dupont.
By Steven Scheer JERUSALEM (Reuters) - It's only the size of a dishwasher and weighs as much as giant panda, but its inventors are hoping this spacecraft will go where no other Israeli vessel has gone before - to the moon. Working on a shoestring budget, the Israeli scientists and engineers building the shuttle - temporarily named "Sparrow" - believe it will land on the moon by the end of 2015, a feat only the United States, Russia and China have managed so far. The landing will be the toughest task in the Sparrow's mission, not least because of the moon's many mountains and craters, said Yariv Bash, an electronic engineer and the founder of SpaceIL, the group building the spacecraft. The $20 million prize will go to the first team to land a spacecraft on the moon, make it jump 500 meters and transmit images and video back to earth.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Patsy Cline's classic country song "I Fall to Pieces," has nothing on this one. The rocky asteroid, named P/2013 R3, was one of the innumerable objects populating the crowded asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, roughly three times further away from the sun than Earth. This time, however, scientists first noticed the dramatic events using ground-based telescopes in Arizona and Hawaii and then got a better look using the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. "After looking at the asteroid belt for a couple of hundred years - the first one was discovered in 1801 - to find a new thing like this is really exciting," David Jewitt, a UCLA astronomer who led the research, said in a telephone interview.
One of Oklahoma's biggest man-made earthquakes, caused by fracking-linked wastewater injection, triggered an earthquake cascade that led to the damaging magnitude-5.7 Prague quake that struck on Nov. 6, 2011, a new study confirms. The findings suggest that even small man-made earthquakes, such as those of just a magnitude 1 or magnitude 2, can trigger damaging quakes, said study co-author Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. The Prague earthquake was the largest of thousands of quakes that rattled Oklahoma in late 2011. The 2011 quakes struck along the Wilzetta fault, a fault zone near Prague.
One of four business jets converted to train NASA astronauts to land the space shuttle is on final approach to the Alabama home of Space Camp, pending the result of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's first crowd-funding campaign. Currently on the ground at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, all that stands between the STA and its installment in the center's Shuttle Park are the funds needed to prepare its display. "The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation, along with the help of some amazing Space Camp alumni, are aiming to raise $70,000 for this project, the total cost of which is $192,000," Trevor Daniels, spokesman for the effort, said in a video posted on the "Land the STA" Indiegogo page. At higher pledge levels, donors receive flight suits, behind-the-scenes tours of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, lifetime memberships at the museum or even reservations to attend adult/family Space Camp.
Famous astronomer Carl Sagan brought the wonders of the universe to people living on the planet he dubbed the "pale blue dot." Although Sagan died in 1996 due to complications from a rare bone-marrow disease when he was 62, his influence on the public still lives on today. His groundbreaking miniseries, "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage," used visual effects and down-to-earth commentary to bring science into people's homes. Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the "Cosmos" reboot uses Sagan's unique brand of education to bring his message of science literacy to a new generation of viewers.
For years, Carl Sagan brought science into homes around the United States with his TV shows and books. Some of the most famous scientists working today had life-changing experiences with Sagan, and other people who never met him still felt his influence from the media he created. Scientists and other people who were touched by Carl Sagan's life and work shared some memories of the famous scientist: "I was just a 17-year-old kid from the Bronx with dreams of becoming a scientist, and somehow, the world's most famous astronomer found time to invite me to Ithaca in upstate New York and spend a Saturday with him," Tyson said during the first episode of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," a reboot of Sagan's "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage." "I remember that snowy day like it was yesterday." [See Carl Sagan's legacy in photos]
From the ancient Egyptian astronomer Hypatia to modern-day astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, physicists throughout history are getting the artist's treatment in a new set of illustrations honoring the thinkers' contributions to science. Dr. Prateek Lala, a physician based in Canada, has recently crafted playful images using the names of famous scientists to show, in logo form, what they gave to theoretical physics. Called "science typographies" or "logotypes," some of the more striking images include Isaac Newton's apple and Edwin Hubble with the Hubble Space Telescope that eventually flew his name into space. Lala started making his images in 2013 after speaking with a friend about the ways in which people learn, and how to get everyone interested in scientific research.
"Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," is a relaunch of Carl Sagan's classic "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage." The new Cosmos series premieres Sunday (March 9), and the creators of the show, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, hope that it will reach a wide audience like the Sagan's "Cosmos" did during its run in 1980. "We wanted to reach everyone because we believed that this knowledge is a birthright," Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow and a co-writer of the new show, said of the first "Cosmos" series during a webcast here at the Hayden Planetarium Tuesday (March 4). "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" uses animation and virtual effects — including a unique spaceship which Tyson travels on — to create an immersive TV experience.
By Julie Steenhuysen LA JOLLA, California (Reuters) - When President Bill Clinton announced in 2000 that Craig Venter and Dr. Francis Collins of the National Human Genome Research Institute had succeeded in mapping the human genome, he solemnly declared that the discovery would "revolutionize" the treatment of virtually all human disease. The expectation was that this single reference map of the 3 billion base pairs of DNA -- the human genetic code -- would quickly unlock the secrets of Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer and other scourges of human health. As it turns out, Clinton's forecast was not unlike President George Bush's "mission accomplished" speech in the early days of the Iraq war, said Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Translational Science Institute, which is running a meeting On the Future of Genomic Medicine here March 6-7.
Jonathan Allen is a professor in the Department of Biology at the College of William & Mary. His teaching, as well as his research, is directed at marine invertebrates and he participates in the William & Mary Marine Science minor. I am a scientist, and therefore not the kind of person who goes down the rabbit-hole looking to self-diagnose a rare disease, but there I was, night-surfing internet health sites trying to figure out what was behind the strange rough spot in my mouth. I began to wonder if some kind of parasite might explain the wandering rough patch in my mouth.
By Steven Scheer JERUSALEM (Reuters) - It's only the size of a dishwasher and weighs as much as giant panda, but its inventors are hoping this spacecraft will go where no other Israeli vessel has gone before - to the moon. Working on a shoestring budget, the Israeli scientists and engineers building the shuttle - temporarily named "Sparrow" - believe it will land on the moon by the end of 2015, a feat only the United States, Russia and China have managed so far. The landing will be the toughest task in the Sparrow's mission, not least because of the moon's many mountains and craters, said Yariv Bash, an electronic engineer and the founder of SpaceIL, the group building the spacecraft. The $20 million prize will go to the first team to land a spacecraft on the moon, make it jump 500 metres and transmit images and video back to earth.
A 9-month-old baby who was born in California with the HIV virus that leads to AIDS may have been cured as a result of treatments that doctors began just four hours after her birth, medical researchers said on Wednesday. That child is the second case, following an earlier instance in Mississippi, in which doctors may have brought HIV in a newborn into remission by administering antiretroviral drugs in the first hours of life, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrics specialist with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, at a medical conference in Boston. "The child ... has become HIV-negative," Persaud said, referring to the 9-month-old baby born outside Los Angeles, who is being treated at Miller Children's Hospital. That child is still receiving a three-drug cocktail of anti-AIDS treatments, while the child born in Mississippi, now 3-1/2 years old, ceased receiving antiretroviral treatments two years ago.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In Europe 150 million years ago, this dude was the biggest, baddest bully in town. Two scientists in Portugal announced on Wednesday that they have identified the largest carnivorous dinosaur ever found in Europe, a 33-foot-long (10-meter-long) brute called Torvosaurus gurneyi that was the scourge of its domain in the Jurassic Period. "It was indeed better not to cross the way of this large, carnivorous dinosaur," said paleontologist Christophe Hendrickx of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinhã in Portugal.
NEW YORK — How much did Charles Darwin's personal anxieties influence his work on the theory of evolution? Dr. Gail Saltz, an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, and David Kohn, founder and director of the Darwin Manuscripts Project at the American Museum of Natural History, discussed these and other intimately personal questions about Darwin on Monday (March 3) here at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.
By Julie Steenhuysen LA JOLLA, California (Reuters) - Craig Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome over a decade ago and created synthetic life in 2010, is now on a quest to treat age-related disease. Venter, 67, has teamed up with stem cell pioneer Dr. Robert Hariri and X Prize Foundation founder Dr. Peter Diamandis to form Human Longevity Inc, a company that will use both genomics and stem cell therapies to find treatments that allow aging adults to stay healthy and functional for as long as possible. "We're creating the largest data set of its kind, ever," Venter said in an interview in his offices at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California, where he and his co-founders gathered after announcing the new venture on Tuesday. The startup company has $70 million in private backing and has already purchased two ultrafast HiSeq X Ten gene sequencing systems from Illumina Inc, a leading manufacturer of DNA sequencing machines, with the option to buy three more.
WASHINGTON — NASA's 2015 budget would remain essentially flat at $17.5 billion under a White House spending proposal unveiled today (March 4) that would hold the line on the agency's biggest space programs while laying the groundwork for major new astrophysics and planetary science missions. However, a large airborne infrared telescope known as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) would be grounded unless NASA's partner on the project, the German Aerospace Center, steps up its contribution, a senior agency official said ahead of the budget rollout. The 2015 NASA budget request seeks about 1 percent less for NASA than what Congress approved for 2014 in an omnibus spending bill signed in January, but $600 million more than what the agency received in 2013, when automatic budget cuts known as sequestration were in full effect. As part of the roughly $5 billion Science budget the administration proposed for 2015 — about $180 million less than the 2014 appropriation — NASA's Astrophysics division would get $607 million, $14 million of which would be for preliminary work on the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope: a dark-energy and exoplanet observatory that would utilize one of the two 2.4-meter telescopes donated to NASA by the National Reconnaissance Office in 2012.
On July 4, 2012, scientists around the world waited with bated breath for the announcement that the long-awaited Higgs boson particle had been discovered. The finding — the result of the biggest and most expensive experiment in history — was set to either confirm reigning models of particle physics, or reveal gaps in scientists' understanding of the universe. A new documentary follows six scientists during the launch of the machine that made the discovery possible, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a gigantic particle accelerator at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), in Switzerland, as they attempt to recreate the earliest moments of the universe. "I knew this big event was coming, and I wanted it recorded," said producer David Kaplan, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. "I knew it was going to be extremely dramatic scientifically, and also emotionally, for all of my colleagues," Kaplan told Live Science.
Scientists in South Africa have mapped the evolution of an antibody that kills different strains of the HIV virus, which might yield a vaccine for the incurable disease, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said on Monday. The scientists have been studying one woman's response to HIV infection from stored samples of her blood and isolated the antibodies that she developed, said Lynn Morris, head of the virology unit at the NICD. The study, by a consortium of scientists from the NICD, local universities and the U.S. Vaccine Research Centre of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was published in the journal Nature. Humans respond to HIV by producing antibodies to fight the virus.
The first microscope that uses the eerie trick of quantum entanglement to increase its sensitivity has been developed by Japanese researchers. The new tool relies on a weird principle of quantum mechanics, in which two particles can become entangled so that even when separated by large distances, say light-years, they are intimately connected. Physics guru Albert Einstein once famously called it "spooky action at a distance." This unique property is already being looked at as a potential mechanism for quantum information technologies, such as quantum cryptography and quantum computation.
A shift from briny to fresh in Antarctica's ocean waters in recent decades could explain the shutdown of the Southern Ocean's coldest, deepest currents, a new study finds. The cold currents, called the Antarctic Bottom Water, are chilly, salty rivers that flow from the underwater edge of the Antarctic continent north toward the equator, keeping to the bottom of the seafloor. Previous studies have found this deep, dense water is disappearing, though researchers aren't sure if the shrinkage is part of a long-term trend linked to global warming, or a natural cycle. The new study suggests that Antarctica's changing climate is to blame for the shrinking Antarctica Bottom Water.
Editor's Note: This article was updated at 3:20 p.m. ET: Scientists have sequenced the genome of the pepper plant, revealing the genes responsible for pepper's spiciness. The new genome, detailed today (March 3) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could pave the way for even more mouth-numbingly hot peppers. "The findings will provide foundation for further developing molecular makers and [incite] research on related pepper agronomy traits, and help breeders accelerate the research of new breeds by molecular biology techniques," said study co-author Cheng Qin, a researcher at Sichuan Agricultural University in China.
Around 250 women from 32 countries came together at Manchester University on Saturday to talk technology. Students and early career researchers mixed with experts from industry and academia, all in the name of promoting and encouraging women in the field of computer science. "It was an inspiring event, covering topics from politics to cyber security," Caroline Jay, a lecturer in computer science at the university, said. "It was great to hear from current leaders in the field, but also to meet so many motivated young women, all of whom are intent on changing the future of computing."
NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope may be down, but it's far from out. Though a glitch ended Kepler's original operations last May, the mission continues to discover distant worlds, adding a whopping 715 new exoplanets to the tally on Wednesday (Feb. 26). "Kepler is the gift that keeps on giving," Sara Seager, a professor of physics and planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told reporters Wednesday during a NASA press conference that announced the 715 newfound worlds. And the finds should keep rolling in from the $600 million Kepler mission, which launched in March 2009.
Remember that scene in "Aliens" where Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley dons a Power Loader exoskeleton to do battle with the evil alien queen? Marine biologists and engineers have now developed a massive Exosuit weighing 530 lbs. (240 kilograms) designed for ocean depths down to 1,000 feet (305 meters) — another extreme environment where no one can hear you scream. The one-of-a-kind Exosuit, on display at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) now through March 5, measures 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall and is made of hard metal and other materials.
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent OSLO (Reuters) - A slowdown in the pace of global warming so far this century is likely to be only a pause in a longer-term trend of rising temperatures, the science academies of the United States and Britain said on Thursday. Since an exceptionally warm 1998, there has been "a short-term slowdown in the warming of Earth's surface," Britain's Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said in a report. But, they said, that "does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases." The warming slowdown has emboldened those who question the evidence about climate change and ask whether a shift in investments towards renewable energies such as wind and solar power, advocated by many experts, is really needed. A build-up of greenhouse gases from human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, is warming the atmosphere and the oceans, raising sea levels and melting Arctic ice, the report said, supporting the long-held view of a U.N. panel of climate scientists.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the field of quantum physics, you could call this a droplet in the bucket. Physicists in Germany and the United States said on Wednesday they have discovered an exotic new type of particle that they call a quantum droplet, or dropleton. Writing in the journal Nature, they said it behaves a bit like a liquid droplet and described it as a quasiparticle - an amalgamation of smaller types of particles. The discovery, they added, could be useful in the development of nanotechnology, including the design of optoelectronic devices.
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent OSLO (Reuters) - Hot weather extremes have increased around the world in the past 15 years despite a slowdown in the overall pace of global warming, a study showed on Wednesday. Heat extremes are among the damaging impacts of climate change as they can raise death rates, especially among the elderly, damage food crops and strain everything from water to energy supplies. "Observational data show a continued increase of hot extremes over land during the so-called global warming hiatus," scientists in Switzerland, Australia and Canada wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change. This hiatus has heartened those who doubt that governments need to make big, urgent investments to shift from fossil fuels towards renewable energies.
The planned Museum of Science Fiction will be partnering with the Science Channel to provide sponsorship and content for the new venture, the museum announced today (Feb. 25). The Science Channel will be the museum's exclusive media sponsor, providing video content and promotional support for exhibits, having a physical presence in the museum and collaborating on joint events in Washington, D.C., where the museum will be located. "We are delighted by the prospect of working with the Science Channel to help the Museum of Science Fiction fuel a cycle of imagination to reality, and to continue driving interest in our plan to create a new attraction for the Washington area," Greg Viggiano, executive director for the Museum of Science Fiction, said in a statement. The Science Channel's leaders are equally excited about the partnership.
Scientists have found traces of an ultra-rare process to form top quarks, the particles that make up protons and neutrons. And that process seems to operate just as predicted by the Standard Model, the long-standing, yet incomplete, model that describes the subatomic particles that make up the universe. Though the new results don't rule out other physics theories to explain the existence of dark matter and energy, they do suggest scientists have to look elsewhere for any hint of as-yet unknown physics. In 1995, scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., discovered the top quark, the heaviest subatomic particle known.
Scientists have found traces of an ultra-rare process to form top quarks, one of the particles that make up protons and neutrons. And that process seems to operate just as predicted by the Standard Model, the long-standing, yet incomplete, model that describes the subatomic particles that make up the universe. Though the new results don't rule out other physics theories to explain the existence of dark matter and energy, they do suggest scientists have to look elsewhere for any hint of as-yet unknown physics. In 1995, scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., discovered the top quark, the heaviest subatomic particle known.