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Showing posts from November 16, 2015

Genetic sleuthing helps sort out ancestry of modern Europeans

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - DNA extracted from a skull and a molar tooth of ancient human remains discovered in the southern Caucasus region of Georgia is helping sort out the multifaceted ancestry of modern Europeans. Scientists said on Monday they sequenced the genomes of two individuals, one from 13,300 years ago and the other from 9,700 years ago, and found they represented a previously unknown lineage that contributed significantly to the genetics of almost all modern Europeans. At the time, Europe was populated by Neanderthals.


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Going batty: secrets behind upside-down flight landings revealed

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It is an aerial maneuver far beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated modern aircraft: landing upside down on a ceiling. Brown University scientists observed two species: Seba's short-tailed bat and the lesser dog-faced fruit bat. "Flying animals all maneuver constantly as they negotiate a three-dimensional environment," Brown biology and engineering professor Sharon Swartz said.


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Going batty: secrets behind upside-down flight landings revealed

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It is an aerial maneuver far beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated modern aircraft: landing upside down on a ceiling. Brown University scientists observed two species: Seba's short-tailed bat and the lesser dog-faced fruit bat. "Flying animals all maneuver constantly as they negotiate a three-dimensional environment," Brown biology and engineering professor Sharon Swartz said.


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Lockheed-Boeing venture says will not bid for U.S. GPS satellite launch

United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, on Monday said it would not bid for the next U.S. Air Force global positioning system (GPS) satellite launch, effectively ceding the competition to privately held SpaceX. ULA, the monopoly provider of such launches since its creation in 2006, said it was unable to submit a compliant bid because of the way the competition was structured, and because it lacked Russian-built RD-180 engines for its Atlas 5 rocket. The Pentagon last month declined to issue a waiver from a U.S. law that last year banned use of the Russian engines for military and spy satellite launches.

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UNESCO Celebrates 70th Anniversary with High-Tech Light Show

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year with some very high-tech decorations. Today (Nov. 16), a slew of superpowerful projectors will turn the many facades of the organization's headquarters in Paris into a giant digital photo album. The live projection show will literally reflect the accomplishments that the multinational agency has achieved over the past seven decades, displaying never-before-seen photos from the UNESCO archives.


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Face Transplants Move Forward with Most Extensive Operation Yet

The man recently underwent the most extensive facial transplant done to date, said the doctors who treated him. "The amount of tissue that was transplanted [in this surgery] had not been transplanted before," Rodriguez said. Prior to this surgery, Rodriguez told the patient, Patrick Hardison, that the surgery had a 50/50 chance of success, Rodriguez said.


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El Niño Expected to Strengthen, Bring Wild Weather Across US

El Niño is likely to strengthen by the end of the year, potentially bringing more precipitation than usual to much of the United States. This year's El Niño is among the strongest since 1950, according to meteorologists. Already, the atmospheric pattern is among the top three since that time, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).


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Famous Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week

One of the year's most anticipated meteor showers peaks this week. The Leonid meteor shower will reach its maximum overnight Tuesday into Wednesday (Nov. 17 to Nov. 18), giving skywatchers the chance to see some brilliant "shooting stars." However, though the Leonids have put on some amazing displays in the past, this year's show will likely be on the subdued side. The Leonids are so named because the meteors appear to originate from the constellation Leo (the Lion).


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Space Tech Meets Earth-Based Industry in SpaceCom Conference

Leaders and innovators of the commercial space industry will descend on Houston this week for a meeting aimed at demonstrating how technologies developed in space can help build business on Earth. The first annual Space Commerce Conference and Exposition (SpaceCom) will "showcase the real, viable links between space technology and Houston's major industries," according to a statement released by the event organizers. The five industries targeted by the conference organizers are advanced manufacturing, communications, energy, medical and transportation.


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Pluto Goes Psychedelic in Brilliant New Photo

Pluto's the prettiest dwarf planet at the party in this new, brilliantly colored image recently released by NASA. Researchers used a process called principal component analysis to create the false-colored photo of Pluto, which highlights the subtle color differences among the different regions, NASA officials said in a statement. The original image was captured by the Ralph/MVIC color camera on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft as it passed within about 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) from Pluto during its flyby in July.


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Google's New AI System Could Be 'Machine Learning' Breakthrough

Whether you're trying to translate something into a different language, turn your spoken words into text or sift through thousands of saved photos for that one special snapshot, Google has built a "smarter" artificial intelligence system to help, company representatives announced this week. "TensorFlow is faster, smarter and more flexible than our old system, so it can be adapted much more easily to new products and research," Google representatives said in the company's blog post announcing the new system. The tool is an exciting development for artificial-intelligence enthusiasts and researchers.

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Kids' Drug-Resistant Bacteria Blamed on Farm Antibiotic Use

Children's health is suffering due to the excessive use of antibiotics in farm animals, according to a new report. Kids are becoming infected with bacteria that are resistant to treatment with the same antibiotics that are commonly used in raising farm animals, and it is difficult to treat children who are infected with the drug-resistant bacteria, the report said. "Children can come into contact with these organisms that are resistant, and if that contact results in an infection, then those infections are extremely difficult to treat," said the report's lead author, Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, the American Academy of Pediatrics' immediate past chairman of the executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health.

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Triassic Reptile Skewered Clams with Teeth on Roof of Its Mouth

The two thalattosaurs, discovered by separate groups of scientists, are from different sides of the world — one from central Oregon and the other from China's southwestern Guizhou province. "They're kind of known for being weird," said Eric Metz, a graduate student in the geosciences department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For instance, some thalattosaurs had no teeth, while others, including the new species in Oregon, sported teeth on the roofs of their mouths, which likely helped them crush mollusks, Metz told Live Science.


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Dinos & X-Ray Probes? Photos Show Playful Side of Particle Physics

The photographer, Daniele Fanelli, is one of the finalists in this year's Physics Photowalk, an annual contest hosted by Stanford University, home to the U.S. Department of Energy's high-tech accelerator lab. On Sept. 25, Fanelli joined other photographers on a tour of SLAC, snapping pictures of the laboratory's ultrabright lasers, its nearly 2-mile-long (3.2 kilometers) particle accelerator and its plethora of unusually placed toys and doodads.


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Earthquakes Could Trigger Massive Supervolcano Eruptions, Study Suggests

Supervolcanoes, such as the one dormant under Yellowstone National Park, may erupt when cracks form in the roofs of the chambers holding their molten rock, according to a new study. If scientists want to monitor supervolcanoes to see which ones are likely to erupt, this finding suggests they should look for telltale signs, such as earthquakes and other factors that might crack the magma chambers of these giant volcanoes. Supervolcanoes are capable of eruptions overshadowing anything in recorded human history — ones in the past could spew more than 500 times more magma and ash than Mount St. Helens did in 1980, the researchers said.


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500-Year-Old Church Discovered in Slave Trade Settlement

Deformed by floods and possibly visited by famed naturalist Charles Darwin, the church had been built by Portuguese colonizers in Cidade Velha, the former capital of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa. The historic settlement was recently made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For hundreds of years, Cape Verde was a place where African slaves were held and sold before being sent to Portugal and the Americas.


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Shy Eel Glows Bright Green, Possibly As a 'Sexy Charm'

But now, after hours spent studying the fluorescent proteins of two eels, the researchers have solved the mystery. "It started as a brain protein and then became this fluorescent protein in muscle," said study lead researcher David Gruber, an associate professor of biology at Baruch College in New York City. Once the protein made its switch from a neural to a fluorescent protein, it spread like crazy throughout the eel population.


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Lego Spaceport Set Is Out of This World: Q&A with Its Designers

We finally got our hands on Lego's new Spaceport set, and it was awesome — so we reached out to the kit's designers to hear more about it. After two hours of construction (and a video!), Space.com was impressed by the Spaceport's scale and all the different little parts: a robotic arm bearing a satellite that extended from the shuttle, seating room for two astronaut minifigs, and even a mobile platform to drive the space shuttle out to the Launchpad. We talked with Lego City designer Andrew Butler Coghill and design director Ricco Krog by email to learn about the making of the new sets and what Lego has in store for space fans.


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Got Milky Way? Cows Surprise Skywatcher During Night Sky Photo Shoot

This image of the Milky Way over some friendly cows was taken in New Hampshire on Sept. 11. "In order to get this shot I had to focus stack 2 images, one in order to try to get the cows in focus and another focused at infinity to try to get the Milky Way in the sky," Ippolito added. The Milky Way, our own galaxy containing the solar syatem is a barred spiral galaxy with roughly 400 billion stars.


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