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Showing posts from September 3, 2015

Key radar fails on $1 billion NASA environmental satellite

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A key instrument on a $1 billion NASA satellite has failed, reducing scientists' ability to capture data to measure the moisture in Earth's soil in order to improve flood forecasting and monitor climate change, officials said on Thursday. A second instrument remains operational aboard the 2,100-pound (950-kg) Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite, though its level of detail is far more limited. The satellite's high-powered radar system, capable of collecting data in swaths of land as small as about 2 miles (3 km) across, failed in July after less than three months in operation, NASA said.


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Confirmed: Wing Part Is From Missing Malaysian Flight

French authorities confirmed today (Sept. 3) that a piece of debris that washed up on an island in the Indian Ocean in July came from the Malaysia Airlines plane that mysteriously disappeared last year. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 seemingly vanished without a trace on March 8, 2014, and the airplane part that washed ashore is the first piece of physical evidence recovered from the flight. In August, a week after the wing part washed ashore on the French island of Réunion, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the part belonged to the missing aircraft.

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Explosive news: Plants can fight back against TNT pollution - researchers

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have discovered why TNT is so toxic to plants and intend to use this knowledge to tackle the problem of cleaning up the many sites worldwide contaminated by the commonly used explosive. Researchers on Thursday said they have pinpointed an enzyme in plants that reacts with TNT, which is present in the soil at contaminated sites, and damages plant cells. TNT pollution can devastate vegetation and leave land desolate.


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The Science of Adorable: What It Takes to Win #CuteOff

Science Twitter has gone full squee. "I don't generally think of fish as cute, but there were some alarmingly cute fish," said Anne Hilborn, a doctoral student and cheetah researcher at Virginia Tech who helped launch the hashtag. Based on the types of animals posted — and previous scientific research on adorableness — here are seven features that could help an animal win a cuteness contest.


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Scientists turn to aspirin to turbo-charge cancer immunotherapy

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Giving cheap aspirin to cancer patients may turbo-charge the effectiveness of expensive new medicines that help their immune systems fight tumours, experiments on mice suggest. Immunotherapy promises to revolutionise cancer care by offering a better, longer-lasting response with fewer adverse side effects than conventional treatment, but the new drugs do not work well in all cases. One reason is that cancer cells often produce large amounts of the molecule prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which turns down the immune system's normal attack response to tumour cells, according to scientists at London's new Francis Crick Institute.

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Scientists turn to aspirin to turbo-charge cancer immunotherapy

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Giving cheap aspirin to cancer patients may turbo-charge the effectiveness of expensive new medicines that help their immune systems fight tumors, experiments on mice suggest. Immunotherapy promises to revolutionize cancer care by offering a better, longer-lasting response with fewer adverse side effects than conventional treatment, but the new drugs do not work well in all cases. One reason is that cancer cells often produce large amounts of the molecule prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which turns down the immune system's normal attack response to tumor cells, according to scientists at London's new Francis Crick Institute.

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20 kilometer high space elevator tower planned

By Jim Drury Ambitious plans to build a twenty kilometer (12.4 miles) tall space elevator tower have been announced by a Canadian space technology firm. Although this distance is a mere fraction of that reached in space missions, Thoth Technology says its ThothX Tower will make a major cost reduction in space flights by helping navigate the difficult first 50 kilometers (31 miles) of travel that traditionally requires rockets. Despite first being proposed more than a century ago, the idea of a space elevator has always appeared fanciful.

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Robot mother builds and improves its own children

By Matthew and Stock Scientists from the University of Cambridge have built a mother robot that independently builds its own children and then tests their performance to inform the design of the next generation. By analyzing the data it collects from observing the child, the mother robot ensures that preferential traits are passed down to the next iteration, while letting weaknesses fall by the wayside.     "We developed a robot that creates robots.

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Tatooine-Like Planets with 2 Suns Need Perfect Ingredients to Form

"It may seem surprising given the disk is less massive, but if you're moving far from the central star a lot of the disk material is around you, while the central binary is concentrated toward the center," Kedron Silsbee, a graduate student at Princeton University, said at the recent Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science Symposium at Pennsylvania State University. Working with Roman Rafikov, also of Princeton, Silsbee modeled planetary formation in close binaries. "It turns out the disk can actually be the dominant component," Silsbee said.


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'Floating Spoon' on Mars Is Just a Weird Rock, But Still Awesome

A so-called "floating spoon" on Mars spotted by NASA's Curiosity rover is cooking up a storm on the Internet, but it's actually a cool rock formation sculpted over time by the Martian winds, officials with the space agency say. The uncannily spoon-shaped rock was photographed by Curiosity on Sunday (Aug. 30) during the rover's 1,089th day on Mars, and word of the rock spread online in the days that followed. In the Curiosity photo, a handle shape juts out from an outcrop and ends in a rounded tip much like a spoon.


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Why Is Powdered Caffeine Dangerous?

Powdered caffeine products are much more potent than caffeine-containing beverages like coffee, and they're dangerous because it is easy for people to consume a lethal amount of powdered caffeine, the FDA said. Just 1 teaspoon of the caffeine powder contains about the same amount of caffeine as 28 cups of regular coffee, the FDA said. "Powdered caffeine is very concentrated," said Henry Spiller, director of Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

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Spinal Manipulation Relieves Back Pain … for Some

Manipulating the spine can help people with lower back pain — but it doesn't work for everyone, according to a new study. Spinal manipulation, or applying force to the joints of the spine, is a technique commonly used by chiropractors and physical therapists, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. "The big finding is that both sides have been right all along," said Greg Kawchuk, a professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta and co-author of the study.

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Jimmy Carter: I Want the 'Last Guinea Worm to Die Before I Do'

When former U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced earlier this month that he had melanoma, he also took the opportunity to slam another health issue: the Guinea worm. At the Aug. 20 news conference, Carter said that, even as he receives treatment for his cancer, he still wants to hear updates on the world's last few remaining cases of Guinea worm, a parasite that spreads through contaminated water and causes a devastating disease, leaving people incapacitated for months. "I would like the last Guinea worm to die before I do," said Carter, who will turn 91 on Oct. 1.


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