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Showing posts from October 8, 2015

Science won't stop until it beats AIDS, says HIV pioneer

By Kate Kelland PARIS (Reuters) - More than 30 years after she identified one of the most pernicious viruses to infect humankind, Francoise Barre Sinoussi, who shared a Nobel prize for discovering HIV, is hanging up her lab coat and retiring. While a cure for AIDS may or may not be found in her lifetime, the 68-year-old says, achieving "remission" - where infected patients control HIV in their bodies and, crucially, can come off treatment for years - is definitely within reach.


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ZomBee Watch helps scientists track honeybee killer

HURLEY, N.Y. (AP) — While scientists have documented cases of tiny flies infesting honeybees, causing the bees to lurch and stagger around like zombies before they die, researchers don't know the scope of the problem.


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SpaceX raps ULA bid to get U.S. waiver for Russian engines

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has slammed a bid by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, to get a waiver from a U.S. ban on Russian rocket engines for military use. Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Motors and chief executive of SpaceX, told Defense Secretary Ash Carter that federal law already allowed ULA to use "a substantial number" of engines.


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Experts caution on study citing method to predict sexual orientation

U.S. researchers on Thursday said they had found a way to predict male sexual orientation based on molecular markers that control DNA function, but genetics experts warned that the research has important limitations and will not provide definitive answers to a potential biological basis for sexual preference. Findings from the study, which has yet to be published or reviewed in detail by other scientists, were presented at a meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Baltimore.

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Surprise! Pluto Has Blue Skies (Photo)

The more scientists learn about Pluto, the more interesting the dwarf planet gets. During its historic flyby of Pluto this past July, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft discovered towering ice mountains and vast glaciers on the frigid body. "Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt?" New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement today (Oct. 8).


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'The Martian' Misses Out on a Faster Way to Mars (Op-Ed)

Edward Belbruno is a mathematician and an artist. Full of cliff-hangers, where you don't know what's going to happen from one moment to the next, the book depicts astronaut Mark Watney, mistakenly left for dead as his fellow crewmembers hastily escape a storm on Mars. Unfortunately, NASA can't just send a resupply mission right away to give Watney needed the food, water, air and other basic supplies he desperately needs for survival.


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Ancient Ethiopian man's genome illuminates ancestry of Africans

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - DNA extracted from the skull of a man buried 4,500 years ago in an Ethiopian cave is providing new clarity on the ancestry of modern Africans as well as shedding light on an influx of people from the ancient Middle East into the Horn of Africa. Until now, genome sequencing efforts on ancient people have focused on remains from cooler, drier climes that tend to better preserve DNA. The cave, sitting 6,440 feet (1,963 meters) above sea level in southwestern Ethiopia's Gamo highlands, was discovered in 2011, University of Cambridge geneticist Andrea Manica said.


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NASA Mars rover finds clear evidence for ancient, long-lived lakes

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Three years after landing in a giant Martian crater, NASA's Curiosity rover has found what scientists call proof that the basin had repeatedly filled with water, bolstering chances for life on Mars, a study published on Thursday showed. The research offered the most comprehensive picture of how Gale Crater, an ancient, 87-mile (140-km) wide impact basin, formed and left a 3-mile (5-km) mound of sediment standing on the crater floor. Early in its mission, Curiosity discovered the gravel remnants of streams and deposits from a shallow lake.


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Ancient Mars Had Long-Lasting Lakes, Boosting Chances for Life

Ancient Mars harbored long-lasting lakes, boosting the odds that life could have existed on the Red Planet billions of years ago, a new study suggests. A series of freshwater lakes within Mars' 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater likely persisted for hundreds or thousands of years at a time, and perhaps even longer, according to the new study, which is based on observations made by NASA's 1-ton Curiosity rover. While these individual lakes were apparently transient, drying out and filling up repeatedly over time, the overall lake-and-stream system inside Gale Crater existed for a quite a long time, researchers said.


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Core Finding: Earth's Frozen Center Formed a Billion Years Ago

What's more, the new findings suggest that Earth's magnetic field, which is powered by the swirling flow of liquid iron surrounding the inner core, could continue going strong for quite a while, said study co-author Andy Biggin, a paleomagnetism researcher at the University of Liverpool in England. "The theoretical model which best fits our data indicates that the core is losing heat more slowly than at any point in the last 4.5 billion years and that this flow of energy should keep the Earth's magnetic field going for another billion years or more," Biggin said in a statement. For much of those early years, Earth was a blob of molten rock, but over time, the surface cooled and formed a crust that floated on the Earth's liquid core.

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Ancient Ethiopian man's genome illuminates ancestry of Africans

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - DNA extracted from the skull of a man buried 4,500 years ago in an Ethiopian cave is providing new clarity on the ancestry of modern Africans as well as shedding light on an influx of people from the ancient Middle East into the Horn of Africa. Until now, genome sequencing efforts on ancient people have focused on remains from cooler, drier climes that tend to better preserve DNA. The cave, sitting 6,440 feet (1,963 meters) above sea level in southwestern Ethiopia's Gamo highlands, was discovered in 2011, University of Cambridge geneticist Andrea Manica said.

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This Pig-Nosed Rat with Vampire Teeth Will Haunt Your Dreams

It has a nose like a cute little piglet's, ears that only a mother could love and teeth that would make Dracula run in fear: This odd-looking rodent captured researchers' attention when they discovered it back in 2013, but now they've described it as a new species. The elusive animal, aptly named the hog-nosed rat (Hyorhinomys stuempkei), inhabits the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. In 2013, researchers studying the island's other rat species caught two of these pig-snouted rodents inside traps.


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US Spy Satellite Launches Into Space Along with 13 Tiny Cubesats

8:49 a.m. local California time), lofting the secret NROL-55 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that operates the United States' spy satellites. Nine of the tiny spacecraft were sponsored by the NRO, while NASA sponsored the other four. "That was a great launch and I'm very excited," Andres Martinez, program manager for NASA's Small Spacecraft Technology Program, said just after liftoff during NASA's live launch commentary.


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Migraines May Begin Deep in the Brain

Blocking a single neurotransmitter in the brain may stop the firing of the nerves that are linked with migraine headaches, a new study in animals suggests. In experiments, researchers looked at the effects of two vasodilators — which are medicines that cause blood vessels to widen, increasing blood flow — on certain receptors in rats' brain cells. They found that when they administered one of these vasodilators, nicknamed PACAP, directly into the rats' brains, a cluster of neurons in the center of the head called the trigeminovascular system started firing more than normal, mimicking the symptoms of a migraine in the animals.

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Antioxidant Supplements May Accelerate Melanoma Spread

Antioxidants are often touted for their potential cancer-fighting abilities, but now researchers say the compounds may actually speed up the spread of the potentially deadly skin cancer melanoma, according to a new study done in mice and in cultured human cancer cells. The compounds are widely consumed by both healthy people and people with cancer for their supposed ability to prevent and fight cancer, the researchers said. But research on the anti-cancer benefits of antioxidants has yielded mixed results, with some studies showing that taking antioxidants may actually increase cancer risk, they said.


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Atlas rocket blasts off with U.S. spy satellite and 13 mini: satellites

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from California on Thursday to put a classified spy satellite and 13 tiny experimental spacecraft into orbit for the U.S. government. The rocket, built and flown by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, lifted off from a seaside launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 8:49 a.m. EST, a live ULA webcast showed. The rocket’s primary cargo, owned by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), was not disclosed.

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Supersonic Planes 'Paint' Gorgeous Shock Waves in the Sky (Photos)

A new technique has captured images of the sonic waves that form when planes break the sound barrier. The new images could one day help engineers design quieter supersonic planes by identifying the regions where a shock wave produces the most noise.


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Prolific Comet Hunter David Levy Donates Astronomy Logs

A prolific comet hunter has donated almost 60 years' worth — and counting! — of historic observation logs to be pored over by the public. Only one of David Levy's 18,500 recorded skywatching sessions contains the time he first spotted what would be named Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which later played a part in the first solar system collision humanity ever witnessed as it tore apart and barreled into Jupiter. Now, he's donated all 25 of those logs to the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri — the world's largest independently funded library devoted to science, engineering and technology — and promises more to come, just as soon as he writes them.


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Hacking the Cosmos: Event Hopes to Solve Complex Data Challenges

Last week, astronomers, astrophysicists, data scientists and programmers came together at New York University to try to solve some of astronomy's toughest problems — in just five days. To deal with the huge complexity of data and simulation in astronomy today, many researchers are turning to data scientists and programmers for inspiration — or becoming programmers themselves. "Many of the projects [that] people are working on didn't exist before, let's say, a week ago," said Phil Marshall, a staff scientist at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University in California and one of Astro Hack Week's organizers.


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Extinct Hippolike Creature Was Prehistoric Vacuum Cleaner

Fossils of the newfound species — found on the Aleutian Islands' Unalaska, the location of the popular reality TV show "Deadliest Catch" — show that it had a long snout and tusks. Its unique tooth and jaw structure indicates it was a vegetarian, said study co-author Louis Jacobs, a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas. "They were marine mammals, but they were not completely marine, like whales," Jacobs said in a video about his research.


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Beating parasites wins three scientists Nobel prize for medicine

By Simon Johnson and Ben Hirschler STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Reuters) - Three scientists from Japan, China and Ireland whose discoveries led to the development of potent new drugs against parasitic diseases including malaria and elephantiasis won the Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday. Irish-born William Campbell and Japan's Satoshi Omura won half of the prize for discovering avermectin, a derivative of which has been used to treat hundreds of millions of people with river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis. China's Tu Youyou was awarded the other half of the prize for discovering artemisinin, a drug that has slashed malaria deaths and has become the mainstay of fighting the mosquito-borne disease.

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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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Bariatric Surgery May Increase Risk of Self-Harm

People who undergo bariatric surgery to help them lose weight may face an increased risk of self-harming behaviors in the two to three years following the surgery, a new study from Canada reports. In the study, researchers looked at more than 8,800 people who'd had weight-loss surgery, monitoring them for three years before their surgery and three years after their operation. There were 62 reports of self-harm in the three years prior to people's surgeries, compared with 96 reports of self-harm in the three-year period after these people had weight-loss surgery — an increase of 54 percent.

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Online Ads Could Help Deliver Important Health Messages

Those pesky ads that show up in Internet searches might have a new use — to deliver public health messages that aim to prevent cancer, a new study suggests. In the study, researchers used the online advertising service Google Ads to create advertisements aimed at preventing skin cancer linked to indoor tanning. The ads contained warnings about the harms of tanning beds, and directed people who clicked on them to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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