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Showing posts from November 25, 2015

Scientists seek to harvest electricity from algae in green-energy effort

By Chris Arsenault TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists are making progress in harnessing electricity from algae in what could be a breakthrough in green-energy technology to combat climate change, although mass-market applications are years away, new research suggests. The technology utilizes the process of photosynthesis by algae, one of the most common microorganisms on earth, according to a Concordia University engineering professor leading the research. Algae naturally creates electrons during photosynthesis, and metal probes stuck into the plant can capture that energy and transfer it into electricity for batteries, he said on Wednesday.

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Infections with Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus Can Cause Brain Inflammation, Death

Catching the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya usually leads to fever and severe pain, but a new study shows it may also lead to inflammation in the brain, and even death in some people. In the study, researchers looked at an epidemic of the virus on Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, that lasted from 2005 to 2006 and sickened 300,000 people. As a result of their infections, 24 people developed encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, and four of these people died from their infection.

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Liberia Suffers New Ebola Death, Despite Being 'Ebola-Free'

The death of a 15-year-old boy from Ebola in Liberia — a country that has been declared free of the disease twice — raises the question of why cases are still popping up in the country, experts say. Although infectious disease experts expect to see new cases crop up shortly after a country is declared Ebola-free — often because of cases that weren't accounted for — in this case, Liberia had gone several months without any new Ebola cases, Adalja said. Liberia was first declared Ebola-free in May, but then a new case was confirmed in July.

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'The Good Dinosaur': Could Humans and Dinos Coexist?

What if the dinosaur-killing asteroid never slammed into Earth and the paleo-beasts weren't vanquished from our planet 66 million years ago? The movie maker's answer — that a young Apatosaurus would meet and befriend a cave boy — is cute, but totally off the mark, several paleontologists told Live Science. "It's completely impossible," said Thomas Williamson, curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, referring to dinosaurs ever being alive alongside humans — something that could never happen if the dinosaurs were to survive.


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The Thanksgiving Sky: The Moon Meets a Bright Star at Dawn

As the moon moves around the Earth in its monthly orbit, it often passes in front of background stars. Such events are called "lunar occultations" and one will happen Thursday at dawn in a Thanksgiving lunar treat.


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Massive Rocks May Explain Moon's Mysterious Tilt

The mysterious tilt of the moon's orbit is due to gravitational tugs it received from giant, close-passing rocks that eventually slammed into the Earth, new research suggests. The leading explanation for the moon's origin is that a Mars-size rock called Theia struck the newborn Earth about 4.5 billion years ago, and the moon coalesced from the disk of debris that resulted from this crash. However, the moon's current orbit is tilted about 5 degrees with respect to Earth.


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Thanksgiving in Space: What Astronauts Eat On Turkey Day (Video)

Astronauts give thanks and preview their "traditional" space meal in a video greeting from the International Space Station just in time for Thanksgiving. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly, who is nearing the end of his one-year mission, and Kjell Lindgren took a moment to celebrate the season in a video preview of their Thanksgiving dinner, where they discussed what they're thankful for and grabbed a few quick bites of their zero-gravity feast. The two NASA astronauts, along with Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, will get the day off from their 250-mile-high (400 kilometers) research on Thursday, and will share their Thanksgiving meal with the others aboard the space station: Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko, Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Volkov.


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Full Moon Rises Tonight in Pre-Thanksgiving Lunar Show

The full moon tonight (Nov. 25) moon will be at its best tonight at 5:44 p.m. EST (2244 GMT), but to the average skywatcher, the moon can appear full in the day before and the day after the actual event. November's full moon is traditionally known among Native Americans as the Full Beaver Moon. The name Beaver Moon dates back to the Algonquin tribes and early U.S. colonists, apparently because November was the best month to set traps for the small, industrious mammal to gather warm furs for the winter, according to our skywatching columnist Joe Rao.


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'Inside Einstein's Mind': New TV Show Explores Journey to Relativity

Chances are high that the name Albert Einstein popped into your head. Now, on the 100th anniversary of what is arguably Einstein's greatest accomplishment — the publication of his theory of general relativity — PBS and Nova are celebrating his work and giving viewers insights into the man behind the theory. "Inside Einstein's Mind" guides viewers through the life and thought processes that led Einstein to publish his theory.


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Hypergiant Star's Weight Loss Secrets Revealed (Video)

Massive stars that are close to the end expand dramatically into enormous red giants, and the gargantuan red hypergiant VY Canis Majoris, located around 3,800 light-years from Earth, is one of the biggest. A new video of VY Canis Majoris here offers a zoomed-in view on the hypergiant. New observations from the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chilecaught VY Canis Majoris in greater detail than ever before as the giant star shed mass.


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Drug driving suit mimics taking the wheel stoned

By Jim Drury A simulation suit that mimics the effects on wearer's reactions of taking illegal substances has been developed by scientists to show young drivers the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated by drugs. A kinetic device in the suit's gloves produces a tremor akin to that caused by some illicit drugs. Random flashing lights in the goggles' peripheral area, allied to hallucinogenic-type sounds in the headphones, combine to disorientate drivers.

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Costco Chicken Salad Linked to E. Coli Outbreak in 7 States

An outbreak of E. coli bacteria tied to chicken salad sold at Costco has sickened 19 people in seven states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patients are infected with a strain of E. coli called O157:H7, which produces a harmful toxin called Shiga toxin. Five people have been hospitalized, and two of those people have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be caused by the Shiga toxin.

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A Pill for ISIS Supersoldiers? Not So Fast

ISIS fighters are using an illegal drug known as Captagon, according to news reports. Captagon is actually a combination of two drugs, theophylline and amphetamine, said Nicolas Rasmussen, a professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of New South Wales in Australia. The combination itself is inactive in the body, but when the body breaks it down into the two component parts, each part becomes active, Rasmussen told Live Science.

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7 Tips to Make Thanksgiving More Enjoyable for People with GERD

For many Americans, Thanksgiving revolves around food, family, football and giving thanks. "The primary reason Thanksgiving can be difficult for GERD sufferers is that people tend to overstuff themselves," said Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. People with GERD can get into trouble by eating too much overall, eating too much within a short time and eating bothersome foods that frequently trigger reflux, Wolf said.

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Light-Bending Microchip Could Fire Up Quantum Computers

Although this advance will not enable faster-than-light starships, the light-warping technology behind this innovation could lead to new light-based microchips and help enable powerful quantum computers, researchers said. Exceeding this speed limit should lead to impossible results such as time travel, according to Einstein's theory of relativity.


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Charitable Acts Can Lead to Bad Behavior

After donating to a major fundraiser in the Netherlands, participants in a new study became less interested in behaving in an environmentally friendly manner. People may feel good about themselves after acting charitably, feeling like they have a license to behave a little worse later, said study leader Marijn Meijers, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam. "After you do something moral or laudable, you're more likely to behave a little less laudable," Meijers told Live Science.

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Cause of Mysterious Snake Die-Off Found

The culprit behind a disease that causes raised blisters, crusted-over eyes and snouts, discolored skin patches, and ultimately death in several snake species has been identified. A fungus called Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is responsible for the snake deaths in the American Midwest and East, researchers now say. Researchers had suspected O. ophiodiicola was responsible for snake fungal disease (SFD) because they had found the fungus on snakes that died of SFD in the past.


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Slipping into a Food Coma? Blame Your Gut Microbes

When you push away your plate, loosen your belt and announce, "I couldn't manage another bite!" it may be your gut microbes talking, according to a new study. About 20 minutes after a person eats, E. coli bacteria, which are common in the human gut, produce proteins that scientists have connected to a hormone responsible for appetite suppression response in the brain. This is one of the first studies to explore the mechanisms that connect microbial activity to responses in the human body associated with behavior.


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Meteor Showers on Mercury May Explain Astronomical Puzzle

Mercury can experience meteor showers as Comet Encke periodically peppers the planet's tenuous atmosphere with dust, new research suggests. Compared to Earth's and Mars' atmospheres, Mercury's is much less substantial — made of just clouds of atomic particles formed from surface ejections or the solar wind — but the particles still have an effect on the exosphere, the outer fringe of its atmosphere. The new Mercury finding came after scientists were puzzled by a strange pattern in calcium observed in the thin atmosphere of the crater-filled planet.


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Manned Mission to Mars Must Not Ignore Human Struggles, Expert Stresses

A successful crewed Mars campaign must recognize, and take pains to ameliorate, the psychological and cultural challenges that Red Planet pioneers will face, a prominent space architect says. For example, a manned mission to Mars must take into account sojourning astronauts' lengthy isolation from friends and family, said Marc Cohen, of the California-based company Astrotecture. "Ironically, the same can-do spirit that characterized so many of the successes throughout the space age also blinds the current crop of Mars advocates to the profound challenges of habitability that lie ahead," Cohen said Nov. 4 during a presentation to NASA's Future In-Space Operations working group.


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