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Showing posts from December 2, 2015

Weird prehistoric beast conjures up images of 'Star Wars' queen

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - What does a strange giraffe-like animal with three horns atop its head and a set of fangs that roamed Europe about 15 million years ago have in common with a pretty young queen from the "Star Wars" movies? Plenty, according to the scientists who on Wednesday announced the discovery in Spain's Cuenca province of beautifully preserved fossils of this creature. They gave it the scientific name Xenokeryx amidalae, meaning "strange horn of Amidala," referring to the "Star Wars" character Queen Amidala, played by actress Natalie Portman. ...


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Too early to use gene editing in embryos: scientist

By Julie Steenhuysen WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the scientists who discovered powerful tools for altering genes is not convinced the case has been made for using the technology on human sperm, eggs and embryos. "The tools are not ready," biologist Emmanuelle Charpentier said in an interview on Wednesday during a global meeting on the technology. Changes made in the genes of human reproductive cells, known as germline cells, would be passed along to future generations.

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Too early to use gene editing in embryos - scientist

By Julie Steenhuysen WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the scientists who discovered powerful tools for altering genes is not convinced the case has been made for using the technology on human sperm, eggs and embryos. "The tools are not ready," biologist Emmanuelle Charpentier said in an interview on Wednesday during a global meeting on the technology. Changes made in the genes of human reproductive cells, known as germline cells, would be passed along to future generations.


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Modern science detects disease in 400-year-old embalmed hearts

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the ruins of a medieval convent in the French city of Rennes, archaeologists discovered five heart-shaped urns made of lead, each containing an embalmed human heart. It turns out three of them bore tell-tale signs of a heart disease very common today. "Every heart was different and revealed its share of surprises," anthropologist Rozenn Colleter of the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research said on Wednesday.


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Europe's prototype gravity wave detector reset for Thursday launch

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The launch of a prototype satellite to look for ripples in space and across time is back on track for Thursday following a day’s delay to review a potential technical concern with Europe’s Vega rocket, officials said on Wednesday. The spacecraft, known as LISA Pathfinder, is scheduled for liftoff at 0404 GMT from the European Space Agency’s launch site at Kourou, French Guiana. The rocket is designed to deliver the 1,900 kg (4,200-pound) satellite into an orbit 1.5 million km (930,000 miles ) from Earth.

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Cygnus Spacecraft Hauling Science to Space Station on Return-to-Flight Mission

The first launch of the private Cygnus cargo spacecraft since an October 2014 rocket explosion aims to deliver a wealth of science equipment and experiments to the International Space Station. The uncrewed Cygnus, which is built by the aerospace company Orbital ATK, is scheduled to blast off Thursday (Dec. 3) at 5:55 p.m. EST (2255 GMT) atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. You can watch the broadcast of the launch here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.


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Safe Sleeping Is Just 1 Part of Preventing SIDS

A safe sleeping environment is crucial for preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but it is not the only factor that determines the risk of the syndrome in babies, according to a new study. The rates of SIDS in the United States have decreased dramatically since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics first recommended placing babies on their backs to sleep, instead of on their tummies, and since the importance of reducing suffocation hazards, such as soft bedding in cribs, has been recognized, the researchers said. "I work with a lot of parents whose children have died from SIDS, and the general climate is one where, because of the success of controlling the sleep environment, the parents often feel that they are responsible for the deaths of their children," said study author Dr. Richard Goldstein, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

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World's Oldest Peach Pits Reveal Juicy Secrets

The world's oldest peach fossils have been discovered in southwestern China, according to a new report. "If you imagine the smallest commercial peach today, that's what these would look like," Peter Wilf, a professor of paleobotany at Pennsylvania State University, said in a statement. In 2010, Wilf's colleague Tao Su, an associate professor at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden in China's Yunnan province, collected eight peach fossils that were exposed during the construction of a new road near the North Terminal Bus Station in Kunming, the capital of the province.


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Doctors Could 3D-Print Micro-Organs with New Technique

Gone are the days when 3D printers merely built plastic trinkets — scientists say 3D-printed structures loaded with embryonic stem cells could one day help doctors print out micro-organs for transplant patients. Embryonic stem cells, obtained from human embryos, can develop into any kind of cell in the body, such as brain tissue, heart cells or bone. Scientists typically experiment with embryonic stem cells by dosing them with biological cues that guide them toward developing into specific tissue types — a process called differentiation.


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One for the road: Breakthrough claimed with pot-booze breathalyzer

An Oakland company working with scientists from the University of California at Berkeley is claiming a breakthrough in the race to develop an instant roadside marijuana breathalyzer. Hound Labs Inc, whose device is also uniquely designed to double up as an alcohol breathalyzer, is among a handful of companies and researchers hoping to capitalize on increasingly relaxed marijuana laws in the United States. Hound Labs said on Wednesday it had found an accurate way to measure THC - the psychoactive component in cannabis - within one or two blows.

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Global soil loss a rising threat to food production: scientists

By Chris Arsenault TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - One third of the world's arable land has been lost to soil erosion or pollution in the last 40 years, and preserving topsoil is crucial for feeding a growing population, scientists said in research published during climate change talks in Paris. It takes about 500 years to generate 2.5 cm (one inch) of topsoil under normal agricultural conditions, and soil loss has accelerated as demand for food rises, biologists from Britain's Sheffield University said in a report published on Wednesday. "Soil is lost rapidly but replaced over millennia, and this represents one of the greatest global threats to agriculture," Sheffield University biology Professor Duncan Cameron said in a statement with the report.

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Oh Snap: Trap-Jaw Ants Jump with Their Legs, Too

Trap-jaw ants are known for using their powerful jaws to launch themselves into the air, somersaulting several times their own body length to evade predators. Scientists recently discovered a trap-jaw species that leaps with its legs, a behavior that is extremely rare in ants and previously unknown in the trap-jaw family. Magdalena Sorger of North Carolina State University and author of the study describing this unusual behavior, was collecting trap-jaw ants in Borneo with a field assistant in 2012, when they noticed something "extremely strange," she told Live Science.


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Huge Geometric Shapes in Middle East May Be Prehistoric

Thousands of stone structures that form geometric patterns in the Middle East are coming into clearer view, with archaeologists finding two wheel-shaped patterns date back some 8,500 years. And some of these giant designs located in Jordan's Azraq Oasis seem to have an astronomical significance, built to align with the sunrise on the winter solstice.


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An Ancient Nessie? Long-Neck Dinos Once Prowled Scottish Lagoon

Hundreds of dinosaur footprints and handprints dating to 170 million years ago adorn the shore on the Isle of Skye, making it the largest dinosaur site ever discovered in Scotland, a new study finds. The discovery proves that dinosaurs — likely long-necked, four-legged, herbivorous sauropods — splashed around Scotland during the Middle Jurassic period, the researchers said. "These footprints were made in a lagoon, which is a pretty interesting environment for dinosaurs," said study lead researcher Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh.


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Scientists, ethicists tackle gene editing's ethics, promise

WASHINGTON (AP) — A hot new tool to edit the human genetic code has a big wow factor: the promise of long-sought cures for intractable diseases. But depending on how it's used, that same tool could also alter human heredity.


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Growing push to expose more students to computer science

Moving her finger over the laptop trackpad, 6-year-old Lauren Meek drags and drops a block of code to build a set of instructions. She clicks the "run" button and watches as the character moves ...


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