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Showing posts from October 7, 2015

Scientists call for urgent trials to judge flu drugs for pandemics

By Kate Kelland LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - - Scientists still don't know if two commonly-used flu drugs -- Roche's Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza -- really work in seasonal or pandemic flu outbreaks and say robust clinical trials are urgently needed to find out. While such medicines are stockpiled by governments around the world and were widely used in the 2009/2010 H1N1 "swine flu" pandemic, no randomised trials were conducted then, so evidence is scant on how effective that approach was. Publishing a report on the use of such antiviral drugs - known as neuraminidase inhibitors - against flu, experts co-led by Wellcome Trust director Jeremy Farrar said this had been a huge wasted opportunity and one that should not happen again.


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Sizzling Longevity: World's Oldest Person Eats Bacon Daily

Could it be that a few slices of bacon a day keep the doctor away? The world's oldest living person, Susannah Mushatt Jones of Brooklyn, New York, recently said that she eats a serving of bacon every day. Jones, who turned 116 on July 6 and was crowned the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records that month, confessed her bacon habit in an interview published this week on the New York Post's site Page Six.

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Girl Develops Acute Hepatitis After Drinking Unusual Green Tea

A mysterious green tea drink likely caused a healthy teenage girl in the U.K. to develop an acute case of hepatitis, according to a new report of the girl's case. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin, and is often a sign of liver problems. "I had only lost a couple of pounds, but then started having horrible pains in my joints, and felt very dizzy and sick," the girl said, writing in the "patient perspective" section of the case report.

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Breast-Feeding Mothers Gain Support in Hospitals

Breast-feeding mothers are now getting more support from hospitals, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2013, over half of the hospitals in the United States were meeting at least five of 10 common recommendations for hospitals to support breast-feeding, up from 29 percent of hospitals that met that many recommendations in 2007. Breast-feeding is the most effective way for babies to get the best nutrition, and hospitals play a major role in supporting moms who want to breast-feed, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said at a news conference today (Oct. 6).

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Nobel discoveries on DNA repair now fueling cancer drug research

When deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) repair mechanisms fail, they predispose people to cancer. Modrich, Tomas Lindahl and Aziz Sancar won the prize for "mechanistic studies of DNA repair." Their work mapped how cells repair DNA to prevent damaging errors from appearing in genetic information. Subsequent work by Dr. Bert Vogelstein of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Richard Kolodner, then at Harvard Medical School and currently at the University of California, San Diego, showed mismatch repair defects are the chief cause of the most common inherited form of colorectal cancer, affecting 15 percent of colon cancer patients.


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Supercharged Auroras May Be Visible Across Northern US Tonight

A geomagnetic storm kicked up by high-speed solar wind should amplify the northern lights tonight — making them potentially visible as low as Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon as the storm intensifies, space weather experts say. According to an Oct. 7 alert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, the storm will range from strong to extreme, reaching a G3 or greater on NOAA's scale and a K-index of 7 or greater. If you live in the potential visibility area, the best way to see the northern lights is to be well away from city lights in an area with extremely dark skies.


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El Niño brings welcome rains to Chile's farmers, ski resorts

By Rosalba O'Brien SANTIAGO (Reuters) - After eight years of drought which left fields parched and ski resorts dry, a burst of wet weather, likely triggered by the El Niño phenomenon, has been welcomed in central Chile. August and September in Chile have both seen higher amounts of rain than average for the Southern Hemisphere spring, with capital Santiago's normally blue skies replaced with a grey pall and brown lawns turning a vibrant green. There is growing consensus among global weather forecasters that this year is seeing a strong El Niño, a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific that can lead to hot, dry weather in Asia and rains in South America.


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US Spysat Launch Early Thursday to Carry Fleet of Tiny Cubesats: Watch Live

An American spy satellite will blast off early Thursday morning (Oct. 8), taking 13 tiny "cubesats" along for the ride, and you can watch all the action live.


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The Moon Goes Visiting: Bright Views in This Week’s Early Morning Sky

Just before dawn, you'll be able to view four bright planets. Venus, as usual, is the brightest of the bunch, with Jupiter close behind. Mars and Mercury are more challenging, and you may need binoculars to spot them.


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For Stargazers' Delight, Uranus and Neptune: The Most Distant Planets

It's officially autumn, and time once again to seek out the two most distant planets of our solar system, Uranus and Neptune. Uranus, in fact, can be seen with just your unaided eyes under a dark, clear sky — if you know where to look. Interestingly, although the planet Uranus can be glimpsed with the unaided eye under favorable conditions, its presence was unknown until March 13, 1781, when William Herschel discovered it by accident using a 6-inch reflecting telescope.


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Brain trauma widespread among high school football players, researchers say

More than half of the players participating in the trials showed signs of altered neurological function and dramatic changes to the wiring and biochemistry of their brains, according to a series of studies published by the Purdue Neurotrauma Group. Some of them heal and some of them don't by the time they start playing their next season and that was the thing that really got us nervous," he added.  The researchers placed sensors on the athletes to record impact forces and coupled that data with brain scans and cognitive tests to track neurological function over the course of the trial.

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Ruffling the feathers: scientists formulate bird family tree

The evolutionary relationships among the world's 10,000 bird species have been tough to decipher. But scientists on Wednesday unveiled the most comprehensive account of the avian family tree ever formulated, detailing how modern bird groups are connected based on genome-wide data from 198 living bird species.    They focused in particular on understanding the group called Neoaves, encompassing more than 90 percent of all birds, the exceptions being large flightless birds like ostriches and a group including ducks and chickens. "It means that all of these aquatic birds may have evolved from a single common ancestor, as opposed to evolving an aquatic ecology multiple times independently," Cornell University ornithologist Jacob Berv said. "So the common ancestor of the woodpecker and the chickadee in your garden was a vicious, hawk-like meat-eater," Prum said.

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Ruffling the feathers: scientists formulate bird family tree

The evolutionary relationships among the world's 10,000 bird species have been tough to decipher. But scientists on Wednesday unveiled the most comprehensive account of the avian family tree ever formulated, detailing how modern bird groups are connected based on genome-wide data from 198 living bird species.    They focused in particular on understanding the group called Neoaves, encompassing more than 90 percent of all birds, the exceptions being large flightless birds like ostriches and a group including ducks and chickens. "It means that all of these aquatic birds may have evolved from a single common ancestor, as opposed to evolving an aquatic ecology multiple times independently," Cornell University ornithologist Jacob Berv said. "So the common ancestor of the woodpecker and the chickadee in your garden was a vicious, hawk-like meat-eater," Prum said.


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These Mysterious Blazing-Fast Ripples Racing Around a Star Defy Explanation

Scientists were looking for planets forming in the large disk of dust surrounding a young star when they encountered a surprise: fast-moving, wavelike arches racing across the disk like ripples in water. The team first spotted the five structures in data from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile while searching for lumps and bumps that might indicate planets forming around the young star. When the researchers looked back at images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2010 and 2011, they managed to spot the same features — but in new locations. A new video of the mysterious ripples, describes the strange features as seen by ESO scientists.


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Sneezing Monkeys & 'Walking' Fish: Fascinating New Species Discovered

A monkey that sneezes whenever it rains, a fish that can survive out of water for four days and a venomous pit viper that is as lovely to look at as a piece of jewelry: These are just a few of the hundreds of new species discovered over the past few years in the diverse but highly threatened region of the east Himalayas. An average of 34 new plant and animal species have been discovered annually in the region for the past six years, according to a newly released report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "I am excited that the region — home to a staggering number of species including some of the most charismatic fauna — continues to surprise the world with the nature and pace of species discovery," Ravi Singh, CEO of WWF-India and chair of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative, said in a statement.


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Trio Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Finding DNA Fixers

This year's Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to three scientists whose research helps to explain how human beings continue to thrive despite an invisible disadvantage — their totally unstable DNA. Each of the three recipients of the prestigious award — Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar —  has researched a different way that cells repair damaged DNA to safeguard genetic information.

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Israeli team signs first launch deal in Google moon race

By Ari Rabinovitch JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli team competing in a race to the moon sponsored by Google has signed a with California-based SpaceX for a rocket launch, putting it at the front of the pack and on target for blast-off in late 2017, officials said on Wednesday. With the deadline to win a $20 million first-place prize just two years off, pressure is mounting on the 16 rivals from around the world hoping to complete a privately funded moon landing. "This is the official milestone that the race is on ... They've lit the fuse, as it were, for their competitive effort." The key hurdle was finding an affordable ride to outer space without government funding, said Eran Privman, CEO of SpaceIL.


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The Latest: Nobel winner hopes to inspire science in Turkey

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Latest developments in the announcements of the Nobel Prizes (all times local):


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Extinct Tree-Climbing Human Walked with a Swagger

A recently unearthed extinct human species — perhaps the most primitive ever discovered — had hands and feet adapted for a life both on the ground and in the trees, researchers say. Although modern humans are the only human species alive today, other human species once walked the Earth. The most recently discovered human species, Homo naledi, had a brain about the size of an orange, but it nevertheless possessed enough of a mind to perform ritual burials of its dead.


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Nobel prize for solving puzzle of ghostly neutrino particles

By Simon Johnson and Ben Hirschler STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Reuters) - A Japanese and a Canadian scientist won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics on Tuesday for discovering that elusive subatomic particles called neutrinos have mass, opening a new window onto the fundamental nature of the universe. Neutrinos are the second most bountiful particles after photons, which carry light, with trillions of them streaming through our bodies every second, but their true nature has been poorly understood. Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald's breakthrough was the discovery of a phenomenon called neutrino oscillation that has upended scientific thinking and promises to change understanding about the history and future fate of the cosmos.

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Private Moon Race Heats Up with 1st Verified Launch Deal

A team from Israel called SpaceIL has signed a contract to launch its robotic lunar lander toward the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the second half of 2017. SpaceIL is therefore a strong contender to win the $20 million top prize in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), contest organizers said. "We are proud to officially confirm receipt and verification of SpaceIL's launch contract, positioning them as the first and only Google Lunar X Prize team to demonstrate this important achievement thus far," X Prize Vice Chairman and President Bob Weiss said in a statement.


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Glowing Clouds from NASA Launch Tonight Visible from US East Coast: Watch Live

A NASA suborbital rocket launch Wednesday evening (Oct. 7) is expected to produce glowing clouds high above Earth, and you can watch all the eye-catching action live online. Weather permitting, a Black Brant IX sounding rocket is scheduled to blast off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) Wednesday and deploy colorful clouds of barium and strontium that will be visible to observers throughout the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. The main goal of Wednesday's launch is to test the performance of the two-stage Black Brant IX, which will be flying with a reformulated motor, NASA officials said.


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Rocker Grace Potter Mixes Space, Science and Music on Instagram (Video)

Space.com sat down with Potter prior to her performance at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Saturday (Oct. 3) to discuss her cosmic influences, which shined through not only in our interview but on stage as well. "That's what it's all about!" Potter told the audience. Other Potter posts reference the recent 25th anniversary of the launch of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the Large Hadron Collider and more.


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DNA scientists win 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Sweden's Tomas Lindahl, American Paul Modrich and Turkish-born Aziz Sancar won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for work on mapping how cells repair damaged DNA, giving insight into cancer treatments, the award-giving body said on Wednesday. "Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer treatments," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement awarding the 8 million Swedish crowns ($969,000) Thousands of spontaneous changes to a cell's genome occur on a daily basis while radiation, free radicals and carcinogenic substances can also damage DNA. To keep genetic materials from disintegrating, a range of molecular systems monitor and repair DNA, in processes that the three award-winning scientists all helped map out, opening the door to applications such as new cancer treatments.


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DNA scientists win 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Sweden's Tomas Lindahl, American Paul Modrich and Turkish-born Aziz Sancar won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for work on mapping how cells repair damaged DNA, giving insight into cancer treatments, the award-giving body said on Wednesday. "Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer treatments," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement awarding the 8 million Swedish crowns ($969,000) Thousands of spontaneous changes to a cell's genome occur on a daily basis while radiation, free radicals and carcinogenic substances can also damage DNA. To keep genetic materials from disintegrating, a range of molecular systems monitor and repair DNA, in processes that the three award-winning scientists all helped map out, opening the door to applications such as new cancer treatments.


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DNA scientists win 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Sweden's Tomas Lindahl, the U.S.-based Paul Modrich and Turkish-born Aziz Sancar won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for work on mapping how cells repair damaged DNA, the award-giving body said on Wednesday. "Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer treatments," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement awarding the 8 million Swedish crowns ($969,000) Chemistry was the third of this year's Nobel prizes. The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.

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