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Showing posts from September 17, 2015

Now you see it, now you don't: invisibility cloak nears reality

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A cloak of invisibility may be common in science fiction but it is not so easy in the real world. Scientists said on Thursday they have successfully tested an ultra-thin invisibility cloak made of microscopic rectangular gold blocks that, like skin, conform to the shape of an object and can render it undetectable with visible light. The researchers said while their experiments involved cloaking a miniscule object they believe the technology could be made to conceal larger objects, with military and other possible applications.


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Studies on kissing, the word 'huh?' among Ig Nobel award winners

By Richard Valdmanis BOSTON (Reuters) - Researchers who studied the consequences of intense kissing, the global use of the word "huh?" and how badly bee stings hurt on different parts of the body were among the winners of this year's Ig Nobel prizes for comical scientific achievements. The annual prizes, meant to entertain and encourage global research and innovation, are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpart to the Nobel Prizes, which will be announced next month.

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Arctic advantage - genetic traits help Inuit in harsh conditions

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Inuit, a group of people who make the Arctic their home, have benefited from a handy set of genetic adaptations that help them survive in some of Earth's harshest conditions. Scientists on Thursday said a study of the genomes of Inuit from Greenland revealed unique genetic variants related to fat metabolism that ward off cardiovascular disease that otherwise could be caused by a diet traditionally high in fat from blubbery seals and whales. "Our study is perhaps the most extreme example to date of a genetic adaptation to a specific diet," said computational biology professor Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Copenhagen.


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Arctic advantage: genetic traits help Inuit in harsh conditions

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Inuit, a group of people who make the Arctic their home, have benefited from a handy set of genetic adaptations that help them survive in some of Earth's harshest conditions. Scientists on Thursday said a study of the genomes of Inuit from Greenland revealed unique genetic variants related to fat metabolism that ward off cardiovascular disease that otherwise could be caused by a diet traditionally high in fat from blubbery seals and whales. "Our study is perhaps the most extreme example to date of a genetic adaptation to a specific diet," said computational biology professor Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Copenhagen.


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New Flu Shot Addresses Last Year's Shortcomings

This season's flu vaccine will contain the strain of influenza virus that was predominant during last year's worse-than-usual flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last season, a particular strain of H3N2 flu virus — known as the "Switzerland variant" — circulated widely and was poorly matched to the H3N2 strain found in the vaccine, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said at a news conference today (Sept. 17). Last year was a bad year for the flu, and the United States saw the highest hospitalization rates ever documented for people age 65 and older, Frieden said.

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Confusion and Fear of Ebola Delayed Treatment for Some Kids

Nearly 100 children in the United States were suspected of having Ebola last year, and although none of them actually had the deadly disease, these kids sometimes experienced delays in care because medical staff were concerned about being exposed to Ebola, according to a new report. Although it's true that health care professionals are at increased risk for Ebola when they care for patients with the disease, there should be a way for them to provide the proper care for patients suspected of having Ebola while still being aware of the risks, the researchers said. "Public health and health care providers in the United States, while maintaining a high level of vigilance for Ebola among ill pediatric patients, should be prepared to provide child-focused care that includes timely diagnosis and treatment of common pediatric illnesses," the report said.

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Sunset on Pluto: Breathtaking NASA Photo Shows Mountains, Wispy Atmosphere

The photo, which New Horizons took during its epic July 14 flyby of Pluto, captures a dramatic sunset view. Towering ice mountains cast long shadows, and more than a dozen layers of the dwarf planet's wispy atmosphere are clearly visible. "This image really makes you feel you are there, at Pluto, surveying the landscape for yourself," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement today (Sept. 17).


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Ultrathin 'Invisibility Cloak' Can Match Any Background

Now, researchers have built an ultrathin "invisibility cloak" that gets around this problem, by turning objects into perfect, flat mirrors. Led by Xiang Zhang, director of materials science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the group constructed a thin film consisting of a 50-nanometer-thick layer of magnesium fluoride topped by a varying pattern of tiny, brick-shaped gold antennas, each 30 nanometers thick. Shining a light, with a wavelength of 730 nanometers, or near-infrared, they found that it reflected back almost perfectly.


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NASA could have cut costs after botched Orbital launch: watchdog

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA missed opportunities to save millions of dollars following Orbital ATK’s failed cargo run to the International Space Station two years ago, the agency’s top watchdog said on Thursday. The NASA Office of Inspector General also questioned Orbital’s plan to resume deliveries to the space station, a permanently staffed, $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.  Orbital is buying rides for its next two Cygnus cargo capsules from United Launch Alliance (ULA), a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Orbital’s first mission using ULA’s Atlas rocket is slated for December, with the second to follow in early 2016.

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Nichelle Nichols, African-American Astronauts Honored at Gala

DENVER — "Beyond and beyond and beyond," sings Nichelle Nichols. Nichols' voice hits the back of the hangar housing the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Nichols accepted the Ed Dwight Jr. award here on Aug. 29 at the Shades of Blue Gala — but not for her role on "Star Trek" as Lt. Uhura, fifth in command aboard the Starship USS Enterprise.


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Awesome SpaceX Images Show How Its Dragon Spaceship Will Land on Mars

A gallery of gorgeous new images shows a cone-shaped space capsule shooting like a meteor through the atmosphere of Mars, and descending quickly toward the surface before its thrusters set it down gently in the middle of a rocky, uninhabited landscape. The human crew prepares to set food on the Red Planet. The gorgeous gallery was released on the Flickr page of the private Spaceflight company SpaceX, and shows what it might look like if and when the company's Dragon crew capsule makes a trip to the Red Planet.


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Why We Must Build an 'Immune System' to Ward Off Cyber Threats (Op-Ed)

Nicole Eagan is the CEO of Darktrace, a cyber threat defense company that uses technology to detect previously unidentified threats in real time, powered by machine learning and mathematics developed at the University of Cambridge. This op-ed is part of a series provided by the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers, class of 2015. Eagan contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Computer networks have evolved with those needs, becoming more complex and porous.

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SpaceX for the Brain: Neuroscience Needs Business to Lead (Op-Ed)

Kunal Ghosh is CEO of Inscopix, Inc., a neuroscience startup based in Palo Alto, California, developing end-to-end solutions for understanding the brain in action. This op-ed is part of a series provided by the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers, class of 2015.  Ghosh contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. The human brain is the force behind civilization and culture.

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Do 'Brain Training' Games Really Work? (Op-Ed)

Dr. John Swartzberg is an internist and specialist in infectious disease, and chairman of the editorial board of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter and berkeleywellness.com. There's a growing stream of ads and websites hyping the marvels of computer-based cognitive programs and brain games for anxiously aging baby boomers and their parents. So I was happy to hear a few months ago that 70 leading cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists issued a consensus statement expressing skepticism about brain training and how it's being marketed.

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What's The Point? The Real Reason Scientists Study Space (Op-Ed)

Hannah Rae Kerner is chair of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), executive director of the Space Frontier Foundation, and a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University studying machine learning applications for astrophysics and robotic control. Recently, my dad and I were in a Bojangles' restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina.


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Everything's Relative: The Discovery of Space-Time (Podcast)

James Clerk Maxwell had no idea what he was doing. What he may not have realized was that the theory he developed sowed the seeds of a revolution that would sweep away the old Newtonian Order and usher in a new Age of Relativity. Maxwell also had a beard that would make the bartender at your local gastropub jealous.

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Science Gets Wacky: Ig Nobel Awards Return Tonight (How to Watch Live)

The Ig Nobel awards are a sort of half-spoof on the Nobel Prizes, the highly sought-after awards given to scientists and other academics who have made significant advancements in their respective fields. Now in its 25th year, the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony is held every year at the Sanders Theater on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The winners of Ig Nobel prizes in 2014 included a team of Norwegian scientists that studied how reindeer react to a human dressed up like a polar bear (the reindeer totally fell for it and ran away).


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Energy Drinks Tied to Brain Injuries in Teens

Teens who drink energy drinks a lot are more likely to get head injuries than those who don't consume the highly caffeinated beverages, a new study from Canada suggests. Students were asked about their energy drink consumption, as well as whether they had experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), meaning they had sustained a blow to the head that left them unconscious for at least 5 minutes, or resulted in an overnight hospital stay. About 22 percent of students said they had experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in their lifetimes, and 6 percent said they'd had a TBI in the last year.

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Stem Cell Discovery Could Spare Cancer Patients from Nasty Side Effect

People who have head and neck cancer and undergo radiation treatments often suffer from permanent damage to their salivary glands. Each year, a half-million patients worldwide with head and neck cancer undergo radiotherapy. About 40 percent of patients who have such treatments suffer major damage to their salivary glands, resulting in dry-mouth syndrome.

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16 Pyramids Discovered in Ancient Cemetery

They date back around 2,000 years, to a time when a kingdom called "Kush" flourished in Sudan. Derek Welsby, a curator at the British Museum in London, and his team have been excavating at Gematon since 1998, uncovering the 16 pyramids, among many other finds, in that time.


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Some Apollo Moon Samples 'Crumbling to Dust'

Some of the moon soil collected by Apollo astronauts has deteriorated significantly during its four-plus decades on Earth, a new study reports. Scientists found that the median particle size in a set of 20 different Apollo soil samples held in laboratories for research use has decreased by more than half since the samples were first measured 40 years ago. "It might be accurate to state that the Apollo lunar soils are literally crumbling to dust," the scientists, led by Bonnie Cooper of Hanyang University in South Korea, wrote in the new study.


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Flower Power: Giant 'Starshades' Prepped for Exoplanet Hunting

"The unique architecture of the starshade — namely, the size and separation needed — make it difficult to test cheaply," Anthony Harness, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told Space.com. Harness works with Tiffany Glassman and Steve Warwick, of the aerospace company Northrop Grumman, to test starshades on Earth in dry lake beds and on mountaintops. Harness presented some of the test results at the Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science (ERES) Symposium at Pennsylvania State University in April.


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