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Showing posts from December 3, 2015

Risk of Stillbirth Raised by Weight Gain Between Pregnancies

Weight gain between pregnancies may increase the risk of stillbirth or infant death, a new study from Sweden suggests. The researchers analyzed information from more than 450,000 women who had two pregnancies between 1992 and 2012. Women whose body mass index (BMI) increased by more than 4 points between pregnancies were about 50 percent more likely to have stillbirths in their second pregnancies than women whose weight was stable between pregnancies.

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Too Much TV Really Is Bad for Your Brain

The people in the study who watched more than 3 hours of TV per day on average over the next 25 years were more likely to perform poorly on certain cognitive tests, compared with people who watched little TV, the researchers found. The results suggest that engaging in physical activity, as opposed to sitting and watching TV, is important for brain health, said study author Tina D. Hoang, of the Northern California Institute for Research and Education at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco. In the study, the researchers asked the participants every five years how many hours per day they spent watching TV on average during the past year.

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Gene summit organizers urge caution on human gene editing

By Julie Steenhuysen WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists and ethicists gathered at an international summit in Washington said it would be "irresponsible" to use gene editing technology in human embryos for therapeutic purposes, such as to correct genetic diseases, until safety and efficacy issues are resolved. The statement on Thursday comes amid a growing debate over the use of powerful new gene editing tools in human eggs, sperm and embryos, which have the power to change the DNA of unborn children. The group's guidance follows calls for various bans on use of the technology known as CRISPR-Cas9, which has quickly become the preferred method of gene editing in research labs because of its ease of use compared with older techniques.

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Federal Gun Research Still Stalled

Just hours before a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, left 14 dead Wednesday (Dec. 3), the group Doctors for America, which advocates for changes in the health care system, petitioned Congress to end the federal ban on gun violence research. It may have been a confusing request for many Americans — after all, President Barack Obama ordered an immediate end to the ban after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Shouldn't the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) be using federal funds to study the problem by now?

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Habitat loss seen as rising threat to world's migratory birds

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Habitat destruction along routes taken by the world's migratory birds poses an increasing peril to these long-distance fliers, with a vast majority crossing terrain that nations are inadequately protecting, according to scientists. The researchers said on Thursday they tracked the migratory routes, stopover locations, breeding grounds and wintering locations of 1,451 migratory species and assessed about 450,000 protected areas like national parks and other reserves. "This is important because migratory species cover vast distances and rely on an intact series of habitats in which they can rest and feed on their long journeys," said conservation scientist Richard Fuller of the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and the University of Queensland.


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Hawaii court revokes permit for telescope project on volcano

Issuing the permit to construct a 180-foot high, $1.4 billion astronomical observatory on the Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island did not comply with case law, statutes or the state constitution, court documents showed. It also violated the protections of native Hawaiian customs and traditions. In November, the court temporarily blocked construction of the telescope, a collaboration between China, India, Canada, Japan and the United States, after a challenge by Native Hawaiians and environmentalists who said the project would damage sacred lands.

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Plastics Recycling is Working: Here's Why (Op-Ed)

Steve Alexander is executive director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, Steve Russell is vice president of the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division and Steve Sikra is section head for corporate R&D at The Procter & Gamble Company. The authors contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Take plastic bottles: In 2014, U.S. consumers recycled a record high of more than 3 billion pounds of plastic bottles — generating an estimated $730 million in revenue from selling bales of plastic material — and the recycling rate climbed to an all-time high of 32 percent .

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To See Deep into Space, Start Deep Underground (Op-Ed)

Constance Walter is the communications director for the Sanford Underground Research Facility. She explores the stars vicariously through the physics experiments running nearly a mile underground in the former Homestake Gold Mine. She contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.


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Orbital heading back to International Space Station on hired rocket

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A year after its Antares rocket exploded during launch, Orbital ATK is poised to resume cargo runs to the International Space Station, this time using a hired ride from United Launch Alliance, a Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co joint venture. Liftoff of the ULA Atlas 5 rocket is slated for 5:55 p.m. EST (2255 GMT) on Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. "This is step one in the return-to-flight plan," said Mike Pinkston, Orbital’s Antares program manager.


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What Triggered the Big Bang? It's Complicated (Op-Ed)

Paul Sutter is a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP). We've all heard of the Big Bang theory (I'm talking about the cosmological model, not the TV show), but it's important to understand what that theory is and what it's not. Let me take this opportunity to be precisely, abundantly, emphatically, ridiculously, fantastically clear: The Big Bang theory is not a theory of the creation of the universe.


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World's first sonic tractor beam

By Jim Drury British researchers have built the world's first sonic tractor beams that lift and move objects using soundwaves. A team from the universities of Bristol and Sussex, in conjunction with Ultrahaptics, a spin-off set up by Sussex Professor of Informatics, Sriram Subramanian, used high-amplitude soundwaves to generate an acoustic hologram that can pick up and move small objects. The device allows the manipulation of small spherical objects in mid-air by individually controlling 64 miniature loudspeakers to generate the acoustic hologram without physical contact.

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Paleo Campouts Depicted in Cave Etchings

The world's oldest depiction of a campsite may have been unearthed outside a cave in Spain. The findings suggest that the ancient people may have lived in dwellings similar to those of modern-day hunter-gatherers, and could shed light on the lifestyle of these elusive people.


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Why So Blue? Tarantula's Cool Color Is Still a Mystery

Known as photonic nanostructures, the itsy-bitsy structures reflect blue light, turning a creepy-crawly arachnid into something resembling an eight-legged Cookie Monster. Scientists have known about the tarantula'slight-scattering hairs for some time, but a recent study took a closer look at the nanostructures that make so many spiders in the family Theraphosidae appear blue. The study found that the blue-reflecting nanostructures are unlikely to have evolved as a result of sexual selection, which is often responsible for the bright colors that distinguish closely related species.


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Sir Butterfly! New Species Named for David Attenborough

A rare Amazonian butterfly was recently named for a man who has spent much of his time surrounded by these winged critters (as well as a whole host of other animals): Sir David Attenborough. The butterfly's namesake, Sir David Attenborough, is best known as the narrator and host of many popular nature-themed television series, including the BBC's "Life" and "Planet Earth." He's also president of the United Kingdom's Butterfly Conservation, one of the largest insect conservation organizations in the world. Attenborough's black-eyed satyr stands out from its closest relatives because of its atypical wings, which have a peculiar pattern and shape.


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Ancient Tiny Whale Hunted with Pointy Teeth, Oversize Gums

Before baleen whales developed their iconic bristled filter-feeding structures, they relied on their pointy teeth and a suctioning method to nab and gulp down prey, a new study finds. The findings are based on the fossilized remains of a newfound species of early baleen whale. Paleontologists Jim Goedert and Bruce Crowley, both researchers at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle, discovered the fossilized whale off the northern tip of Washington's Olympic Peninsula.


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Clever Cuttlefish 'Freeze' Bioelectric Fields to Avoid Predators

Cuttlefish are known for their ability to change colors, but these clever cephalopods have a problem: Sharks, rays and other predators hunt not only by sight, but by sensing the bioelectric fields emanating from their prey. Now, new research reveals that cuttlefish have a solution to this problem: They turn down their natural electric fields by freezing in place and holding their breath. This freeze response has not been studied as extensively as cephalopod color camouflage, or cuttlefish's response of releasing ink and jetting away from danger, said study researcher Christine Bedore, a biologist at Georgia Southern University.


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Weather satellite startup will launch on Indian rocket

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A Maryland-based startup developing a satellite network to predict weather using radio signals will launch its first two spacecraft on an Indian rocket, the company said on Thursday. Privately owned PlanetiQ signed a contract with Antrix Corp Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, to launch the pair of satellites in late 2016. PlanetiQ plans to build and operate a constellation of 12 miniature satellites that monitor GPS and other navigational radio signals passing through Earth’s atmosphere.

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Vega rocket blasts off with gravity-hunting satellite

A Vega rocket bearing a European prototype satellite blasted into space early on Thursday on a mission to search for ripples in space and across time, a phenomenon predicted but never proven by physicist Albert Einstein 100 years ago. The launch lit up the night sky at the launch site in French Guiana, just north of the Equator in South America, before the rocket disappeared into the clouds, the European Space Agency (ESA) said. The trailblazing Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, spacecraft will spend about six months testing a technique to detect ripples in space and across time.

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