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Showing posts from September 18, 2015

6 Months in Space, Astronaut Scott Kelly Misses Food, Outdoors and Loved Ones

Halfway through his almost yearlong mission, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spoke via satellite to an audience gathered at the National Press Club here about the things he is looking forward to, both for the remainder of his mission and once he returns to Earth. "I feel good overall," Kelly told the club's president, John Hughes, who emceed the event on on Monday (Sept. 14). Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko arrived at the space station on March 27, after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, with both planning to stay onboard for nearly a year.


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A Manned Mission to Mars Is Closer to Reality Than Ever: NASA Chief

NASA is closer to putting boots on Mars than it's ever been before, the space agency's chief says. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former space shuttle commander, said he envisioned becoming the first person to explore Mars when he checked in for astronaut training at Houston's Johnson Space Center in 1980. Back then, a crewed Red Planet mission was believed to be 30 years away, Bolden said.


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New Listeria Outbreak Tied to Soft Cheeses

Two dozen people in nine states have been sickened with the serious foodborne illness listeriosis, likely from eating soft cheeses that were contaminated with bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the patients were infected with one of five rare strains of the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, the CDC said. Of these, 21 people needed to be hospitalized, and one person died, the CDC said.

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Apollo Lunar Module Lands in Smithsonian 'Milestones of Flight' Gallery

An Apollo Lunar Module, the vehicle that ferried astronauts to and from the surface of the moon, was moved into the National Air and Space Museum's "Boeing Milestones of Flight" Hall this week in preparation for its conservation, modification and display debuting with the hall's re-opening in July 2016. "The Lunar Module [LM] will act as a striking welcome to visitors as they enter the museum and [will] represent the 'milestone' of America's first moon landing in July 1969," Smithsonian officials said in a statement. The second of the lunar modules to be built, LM-2 was intended for an uncrewed test flight into Earth orbit in 1968.


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The Crescent and the Ring: Moon Meets Saturn Tonight!

If the weather is clear in your area this evening, you'll have an opportunity to see two of the most popular objects to view through a telescope: the moon and Saturn. About an hour after sunset, roughly one-quarter of the way up in the southwest sky will be a crescent moon, just over one-quarter (27 percent) illuminated by the sun. And if you look about 1.5 degrees to the lower left of the moon, you'll see a bright "star" shining with a steady, yellow-white glow.


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Spacing Out Vaccines? No Evidence Supports Candidates' Ideas

There is no evidence that supports spacing out childhood vaccines — which two Republican candidates for president suggested in last night's presidential debate — instead of following the recommended schedule, experts say. "I am totally in favor of vaccines, but I want smaller doses over a longer period of time," Donald Trump, one of the candidates for president, said at the debate. Candidate and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson responded by saying, "We have extremely well-documented proof that there is no autism associated with vaccinations," he said.

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Eating Healthy Foods May Lower Depression Risk

Following a diet rich in produce and low in processed meats — even if you don't do it perfectly — may be helpful in preventing depression, according to a large new study. To lower the risk of depression, "People can eat everything, but everything in moderation," as long as they try to eat lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish, and avoid fast food and processed meats, said study author Almudena Sanchez-Villegas of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. At the start of the study, researchers asked 15,000 Spanish university graduates who had never had depression what they normally ate.

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Fish Jaw in the Eye: Beachgoer Leaves with Odd Malady

The 52-year-old man went swimming at a beach on the Red Sea, an inlet of the Indian Ocean that sits between Africa and Asia. Later, the man developed a swollen and droopy eyelid that didn't go away even a month later, according to the report. Dr. Wolf A. Lagrèze, of the Department of Ophthalmology at Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg in Germany, who treated the patient, said he was "absolutely" surprised to find these foreign structures in the man's eye.

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2015 Ig Nobel Prizes: From Egg-y Science to Penis Bee Stings

These are just two of the (real) scientific findings celebrated tonight (Sept. 17) at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, an annual event held here at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre. This year, 10 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded to scientists from all over the world, many of whom traveled to Cambridge to accept the prizes in person. Also present this evening were several Nobel Prize laureates, who helped hand out the awards and participated in a very silly opera.


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Paralyzed Man Can 'Feel' Again with Brain-Connected Prosthetic Hand

A prosthetic hand that is connected directly to the brain successfully enabled a paralyzed man to "feel" again, according to researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The 28-year-old male, who suffered a spinal cord injury and has been paralyzed for more than a decade, was able to control a robotic hand with his brain and reported being able to sense physical sensations. DARPA researchers attached electrodes to the man's sensory cortex — the area of the brain responsible for identifying tactile sensations, such as pressure.


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It's a Monster! Apes Remember Scary Movie Scenes

Many scientists have tried to piece together how memories work in animals, especially chimpanzees and other apes. In a new study, scientists from Kyoto University in Japan wanted to examine whether a group of chimpanzees and bonobos (a close chimp relative) could not only remember past events, but also anticipate what would happen next. "We really wanted to make [the apes] remember a novel event," said study co-author Fumihiro Kano, a comparative psychologist at Kyoto University.

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UK scientists seek permission to edit the genes of human embryos

British scientists have applied for permission to edit the genes of human embryos in a series of experiments aimed at finding out more about the earliest stages of human development. Just months after Chinese scientists caused an international furor by saying they had genetically modified human embryos, a scientist at London's Francis Crick Institute has asked the British government's fertility regulator for a license to carry out similar experiments. The researcher, a stem cell scientist called Kathy Niakan, stressed she has no intention of genetically altering embryos for use in human reproduction, but is seeking to deepen scientific understanding of how a healthy human embryo develops.

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UK scientists seek permission to edit the genes of human embryos

British scientists have applied for permission to edit the genes of human embryos in a series of experiments aimed at finding out more about the earliest stages of human development. Just months after Chinese scientists caused an international furore by saying they had genetically modified human embryos, a scientist at London's Francis Crick Institute has asked the British government's fertility regulator for a licence to carry out similar experiments. The researcher, a stem cell scientist called Kathy Niakan, stressed she has no intention of genetically altering embryos for use in human reproduction, but is seeking to deepen scientific understanding of how a healthy human embryo develops.

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Future Mars Explorers Could Live in Habitats That Build Themselves

That's the vision of the Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments (SHEE) project, which is developing domiciles that could be useful both here on Earth and on alien worlds such as Mars. SHEE is the product of a research idea initiated by architect Ondrej Doule, who detailed the concept Aug. 31 here at a session on space habitats at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' (AIAA) Space 2015 meeting. Over the past few years, a consortium of five European countries has been working to design the European Union's first autonomously deployed space and terrestrial habitat.


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Supermoon Lunar Eclipse: How Science Explains the Epic Night Sky Event

This month's highly anticipated "supermoon eclipse" may be a magical treat for skywatchers, but there's nothing supernatural about the event. On Sept. 27, skywatchers throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, western Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean region will witness a total eclipse that happens to occur when the moon looks abnormally large and bright in Earth's sky. It will be the first supermoon eclipse since 1982, and the last until 2033.


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This Summer's Arctic Sea Ice Is 4th Lowest on Record

This year's minimum sea-ice extent in the Arctic was the fourth lowest since satellite observations began, NASA announced yesterday (Sept. 15). "This year is the fourth lowest, and yet we haven't seen any major weather event or persistent weather pattern in the Arctic this summer that helped push the extent lower as often happens," Walt Meier, a sea-ice scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. Arctic sea ice has been in decline since at least the 1970s due to climate change, and recent research reveals the thinning is accelerating.


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Panda Protections Save Other Species, Too

Thanks, pandas! Conservation areas set aside to protect China's national treasure also help to save many of China's other one-of-a-kind species, new research reveals. But the laserlike focus on pandas has left some gaps in protections for other animals, according to the new study. "Loving pandas is the right thing to do," but China should be savvy in adding new panda protections in order to save as many species as possible, said study researcher Binbin Li, a doctoral student at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment.


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