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Showing posts from September 24, 2015

Craig Venter's company in deal for whole exome tests at new low cost

A company formed by genome pioneer Craig Venter will offer clients of a South Africa-based insurance company whole exome sequencing - sequencing all protein-making genes in the human genome - at a price that marks yet another dramatic decline in the cost of gene sequencing, the two companies said on Tuesday. Venter's company, Human Longevity Inc, will provide the tests at a cost of $250 each through a special incentive program offered by Discovery Ltd, an insurer with clients in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Venter, the U.S. scientist who raced the U.S. government to map the human genome 15 years ago for a cost of $100,000, said the $250 price point per whole exome marks a new low in the price of gene sequencing.


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Red Planet Meets Blue Star: Mars Teams with Regulus Friday Morning

The Red Planet was behind the sun this summer, on the opposite side of the solar system from Earth. The Red Planet appeared to gradually shift eastward against the zodiacal constellations throughout August, past the "twin stars" Pollux and Castor in the constellation Gemini, and then through the famous Beehive Star Cluster of Cancer, the Crab.


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Study: Global warming, evolution are clipping bees' tongues

WASHINGTON (AP) — Global warming and evolution are reshaping the bodies of some American bumblebees, a new study finds.


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Double Black Holes May Warp Spacetime - But Quietly

A new paper searching for signs of these space-time ripples — known as gravitational waves — came up empty, suggesting that theorists need to rethink their models of these monster pairs. The new work affects searches for gravitational waves using pulsars — dead stars that appear to create regular pulses of light, not unlike a lighthouse. Gravitational waves were originally predicted by Albert Einstein, but no one has ever found direct evidence they exist.


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Paralyzed Man Walks Again Using Brain-Wave System

A 26-year-old man who was paralyzed in both legs has regained the ability to walk using a system controlled by his brain waves, along with a harness to help support his body weight, a new study says. Using this system, the patient, who had been paralyzed for five years after a spinal cord injury, was able to walk about 12 feet (3.66 meters). "Even after years of paralysis, the brain can still generate robust brain waves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking," study co-author Dr. An Do, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement.

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3 Square Meals? People Don't Eat Like That, App Reveals

The average time between the first bite of breakfast and the last bite of dinner (or an evening snack, or drinks at the bar) was 14 hours and 45 minutes, Panda and his team report today (Sept. 24) in the journal Cell Metabolism. This is promising news because it suggests an easy way to improve weight and health — people could limit their food consumption to a smaller window, Panda said. Other researchers had said that those findings probably didn't apply to humans, based on the idea that humans mainly eat three meals within a time period of less than 12 hours, Panda said.

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Holy Dream Team? The Most Notorious Catholic Saints

Yesterday (Sept. 23), Pope Francis canonized Junipero Serra, the man who first brought Catholicism to California. The move has sparked controversy because Serra was tied to a system that decimated the population of Native Americans. What ultimately gained these individuals entrance to sainthood, Catholic theology says, was not a spotless life but rather a singular focus on getting closer to God, Craughwell said.


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Biggest Moon Myths for the 'Supermoon' Total Lunar Eclipse

Sunday's rare "supermoon" total lunar eclipse has prompted greater discussion of the moon — and those discussions sometimes involve persistent lunar myths. Other myths are more conspiracy-oriented, such as the idea that the Apollo moon landings were faked. The discussion may give you something to think about Sunday evening (Sept. 27) while watching the first supermoon lunar eclipse — so named because it will occur when the moon appears abnormally large and bright in the sky — since 1982, and the last until 2033.


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India's 1st Mars Mission Celebrates One Year at Red Planet

India's first-ever Mars probe is now one year into its historic mission, and it's still going strong. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft, also known as Mangalyaan, arrived at the Red Planet on the night of Sept. 23, 2014 (Sept. 24 GMT and Indian Standard Time), just two days after NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe (MAVEN) reached Mars orbit. Mangalyaan, which means "Mars craft" in Sanskrit, was the first interplanetary probe ever launched by India, and its $73 million mission is primarily a technology demonstration, officials with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have said.


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Cheers! Wild Yeast Could Yield New Kinds of Beer

These wild microbes could also lead to new and faster ways of brewing traditional varieties of beer, the scientists added. There are hundreds of species of these microbes, and many of them include a wide variety of strains. "A lot of wild yeast used to be used in the making of beer — typically, the yeast inhabiting the breweries," said John Sheppard, a bioprocessing researcher at North Carolina State University.

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Boxing Mantis Shrimp Prefer Flurry of Hits Over Knockout Punches

Mantis shrimp are notorious for their clublike front limbs, which they use to kill prey. Researchers from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, engineered fights over an artificial burrow between mantis shrimp of roughly the same size from the species Neogonodactylus bredini. Surprisingly, the scientists found that victorious mantis shrimps weren't necessarily the ones with the most powerful punch.

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Pope Francis Visit: What Catholics Think of Their Church

Pope Francis, now on his historic first visit to the United States, is encountering a Catholic population that is part of a universal church with very American challenges. From the devout grandma in a lacey veil who never misses Mass, to the young gay man who struggles with church teaching on homosexuality, American Catholics are about as diverse as the country itself, said Mary Ellen Konieczny, a sociology professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. This population can be sharply divided on social issues.


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Eavesdropping on Aliens: Why Edward Snowden Got E.T. Wrong

Edward Snowden, the former contractor who leaked National Security Agency secrets publicly in 2013, is now getting attention for an odd subject: aliens. In a podcast interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Snowden suggested that alien communications might be encrypted so well that humans trying to eavesdrop on extraterrestrials would have no idea they were hearing anything but noise. There's only a small window in the development of communication in which unencrypted messages are the norm, Snowden said.


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Spectacular Solar Eclipse View Wins Astronomy Photographer of the Year Prize

The winning images from the Royal Observatory Greenwich's Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition were announced last week, and the list is an awe-inspiring collection of celestial awesomeness. The contest's overall winner, titled "Eclipse Totality Over Sassendalen," captures the 2015 solar eclipse, taken on an icy plane in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. When describing this year's winning solar eclipse image, contest judge Melanie Vandenbrouck said, "It is one of those heart-stoppingly beautiful shots for which you feel grateful to the photographer for sharing such an exceptional moment.


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Mars' Mysterious Dark Streaks Spur Exploration Debate

These "recurring slope lineae" (RSL), which have been spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) at low and middle latitudes on the Red Planet, fade during cooler months but come back again annually at nearly the same locations over multiple Martian years. More than 200 researchers and engineers participated in that meeting, sifting through data and imagery in an effort to narrow down potential landing sites for NASA’s next Mars rover, which is scheduled to launch in 2020. Evidence is mounting that RSL are the mark of some kind of volatile substance, and a leading theory posits that they are caused by the flow of salt-laden liquid water.


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Brain-computer link enables paralyzed California man to walk

By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A brain-to-computer technology that can translate thoughts into leg movements has enabled a man paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal cord injury to become the first such patient to walk without the use of robotics, doctors in Southern California reported on Wednesday. The slow, halting first steps of the 28-year-old paraplegic were documented in a preliminary study published in the British-based Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, along with a YouTube video. The feat was accomplished using a system allowing the brain to bypass the injured spinal cord and instead send messages through a computer algorithm to electrodes placed around the patient's knees to trigger controlled leg muscle movements.


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