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Showing posts from September 10, 2015

New Photos of Pluto Show a World More Complex and Beautiful Than Ever

An "over-the-top" complex mix of craters, ice flows, mountains, valleys and apparent dunes coexist on Pluto in the latest amazing images from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. "Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of process that rival anything we've seen in the solar system," New Horizons' principal investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, said in a statement. "If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top — but that's what is actually there." At Space.com, we combined the new Pluto images into an awesome video.


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Scientists shift medicinal properties from one plant to another

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A number of important drugs come from plants, but some medicinal plants are endangered or tricky to grow. Researchers on Thursday said they have identified the genes that enable an endangered Himalayan plant to produce a chemical vital to making a widely used chemotherapy drug, and inserted them into an easily grown laboratory plant that then produced the same chemical. The endangered plant, called the mayapple, produces a precursor chemical to the chemotherapy drug etoposide, which is used in many patients with lung cancer, testicular cancer, brain cancer, lymphoma, leukemia and other cancers.


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New device could save millions from septic shock

By Ben Gruber Boston, Mass. (Reuters) - Prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS are all potentially lethal diseases that affect hundreds of thousands each year. "What's nice about proteins like this fcMBL from the innate immune system is that they bind the sugars which are part of the cell wall of the pathogens.

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Scientists shift medicinal properties from one plant to another

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A number of important drugs come from plants, but some medicinal plants are endangered or tricky to grow. Researchers on Thursday said they have identified the genes that enable an endangered Himalayan plant to produce a chemical vital to making a widely used chemotherapy drug, and inserted them into an easily grown laboratory plant that then produced the same chemical. The endangered plant, called the mayapple, produces a precursor chemical to the chemotherapy drug etoposide, which is used in many patients with lung cancer, testicular cancer, brain cancer, lymphoma, leukemia and other cancers.

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Toyota partners with Stanford, MIT on self-driving car research

By Paul Lienert DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp is collaborating with two top U.S. universities on artificial intelligence and robotics research aimed at ramping up the Japanese automaker's efforts to develop self-driving cars. Toyota said on Friday that it would spend $50 million over the next five years to establish joint research centers at both universities, one in the heart of Silicon Valley and the other outside Boston. Toyota has lagged behind rivals in developing self-driving cars and implementing hands-free driver assistance systems.


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Stephen Colbert Says Elon Musk Is Either a Supervillain or a Superhero

Elon Musk appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" last night (Sept. 9) to talk about dropping nuclear bombs on Mars, the future of rocket travel, and a creepy, snakelike robot for electric-car owners. "Are you sincerely trying to save the world?" Colbert asked Musk early in the interview, which covered a wide range of topics, including Musk's ideas about settling Mars (which he called a "fixer-upper of a planet"), and what he considered the biggest challenge of the 21st century. Musk replied quietly to Colbert's question by saying, "I'm trying to do good things, yeah." Colbert fired back, "You're trying to do good things and you're a billionaire.


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Genetically modified embryos 'essential' for science, experts say

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists should be allowed to genetically modify human embryos because such experiments are essential to deepen understanding of basic biology, an international group of science and ethics experts said on Thursday. A report by the Hinxton Group, a global network of stem cell researchers, bioethicists and science policy and publishing experts, said being able to edit the genetic code of human embryos was of tremendous value to research. It added, however, that allowing genetically modified embryos to be used in clinical settings where they would go on to be born as GM babies was, for now, a step too far.

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Blood Fats May Play a Role in Migraines

Women who get migraines have different levels of certain fats in their blood than women who don't get these headaches, a small new study suggests. If confirmed, the new findings could lead to a blood test that could diagnose patients with migraines, the researchers said. Currently, patients are diagnosed with migraines on the basis of the symptoms they report, said study author Dr. B. Lee Peterlin, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

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These Men Ate 6,000 Calories a Day for Science

The researchers were interested in learning how obesity triggers insulin resistance, a condition in which the body's cells stop responding to the hormone insulin. Because insulin helps blood sugar get inside cells, insulin resistance leads to a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream, and can cause type 2 diabetes. Scientists have a number of theories for why obesity leads to insulin resistance, including that obesity increases fatty acids in the blood, or promotes inflammation.

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Low Heart Rate in Men May Predict Criminal Behavior

Teens who have a low resting heart rate may be at increased risk of committing violent crimes as adults, a new study from Sweden suggests. The researchers divided the men into five groups based on their heart rate. The men's violent crimes included murder, assault, robbery and arson, as well as several other crimes.


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New Human Species with Orange-Size Brain Discovered

A newly discovered extinct human species may be the most primitive unearthed yet, with a brain about the size of an orange. This newfound species from South Africa, named Homo naledi, possessed an unusual mix of features, such as feet adapted for a life on the ground but hands suited for a life in the trees, that may force scientists to rewrite their models about the dawn of humanity. Although modern humans are the only human lineage alive today, other human species once walked the Earth.


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Stunning Web Comic 'Brassens in Space' Takes Readers on Cosmic Journey

Does science kill the poetry of nature, or does it write new volumes of wonder and awe? A French cartoonist who goes by the name Boulet says it's the latter, and he expressed his opinion in a gorgeous Web comic called "Brassens in Space," which you can find here. Boulet's comic takes readers on a journey through the cosmos, pointing out just a few of the awe-inspiring landscapes made visible by science.


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Pluto Probe Starts Beaming Home 'Treasure Trove' of Flyby Data

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has begun beaming home the best data from its epic July Pluto flyby. On July 14, New Horizons became the first probe ever to fly by Pluto, zooming within 7,800 miles (12,550 kilometers) of the dwarf planet's enigmatic surface. New Horizons sent some images and measurements back to its handlers immediately after the encounter, but stored the vast majority onboard for later transmission.


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Key to Survival Found for Sailors Shipwrecked in Alaska in 1813

In 1813, the Russian-American Company frigate Neva wrecked near Kruzof Island, Alaska. Now, archaeologists are uncovering the story of how these sailors lived until rescuers arrived. "The items left behind by survivors provide a unique snapshot-in-time for January 1813, and might help us to understand the adaptations that allowed them to await rescue in a frigid, unfamiliar environment," Dave McMahan, an archaeologist and member of the Sitka Historical Society, who is excavating the site of the Neva survivors' camp near the city of Sitka, said in a statement.


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Bird Mummy's Secret: Why Raptor Was Force-Fed by Ancient Egyptians

A new autopsy reveals that overeating choked and killed this unfortunate raptor from ancient Egypt. Scientists suspect that Egyptians force-fed the bird so they could offer it to the sun god Ra as a votive mummy. Mummification wasn't reserved for people in Egypt.


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Fossil first: ancient human relative may have buried its dead

By Ed Stoddard CRADLE OF HUMANKIND, South Africa (Reuters) - Humanity's claim to uniqueness just suffered another setback: scientists reported on Thursday that a newly discovered ancient species related to humans also appeared to bury its dead. Fossils of the creature were unearthed in a deep cave near the famed sites of Sterkfontein and Swartkrans, treasure troves 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Johannesburg that have yielded pieces of the puzzle of human evolution for decades. "It was right under our nose in the most explored valley of the continent of Africa," said Lee Berger of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand.


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