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Showing posts from March, 2016

A gorilla named Susie illustrates genome similarities with humans

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A gorilla named Susie is helping provide fresh insight into the genetic similarities and differences between people and these endangered apes that are among our closest living relatives. Scientists on Thursday unveiled an upgraded version of the gorilla genome based on DNA from Susie, an 11-year-old Western lowland gorilla at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, that fills in many gaps present in the first gorilla genetic map published in 2012. The new research revealed that gorillas and humans are slightly more closely related genetically than previously recognized, with the genomes diverging by just 1.6 percent.


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A gorilla named Susie illustrates genome similarities with humans

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A gorilla named Susie is helping provide fresh insight into the genetic similarities and differences between people and these endangered apes that are among our closest living relatives. Scientists on Thursday unveiled an upgraded version of the gorilla genome based on DNA from Susie, an 11-year-old Western lowland gorilla at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, that fills in many gaps present in the first gorilla genetic map published in 2012. The new research revealed that gorillas and humans are slightly more closely related genetically than previously recognized, with the genomes diverging by just 1.6 percent.


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Probe of ULA rocket engine early cutoff focuses on fuel system

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The Russian-made rocket motor that catapulted a United Launch Alliance booster toward orbit last week shut down six seconds early apparently because of a fuel system problem, the company said on Thursday, in its first explanation of the issue. The ULA Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 22 carrying an Orbital ATK cargo ship bound for the International Space Station. The rocket’s Russian-made RD-180 engine shut down about six seconds early, but the booster’s second-stage motor compensated for the shortfall by firing longer, ULA said in a statement.

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A gorilla named Susie illustrates genome similarities with humans

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A gorilla named Susie is helping provide fresh insight into the genetic similarities and differences between people and these endangered apes that are among our closest living relatives. Scientists on Thursday unveiled an upgraded version of the gorilla genome based on DNA from Susie, an 11-year-old Western lowland gorilla at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, that fills in many gaps present in the first gorilla genetic map published in 2012. The new research revealed that gorillas and humans are slightly more closely related genetically than previously recognized, with the genomes diverging by just 1.6 percent.


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Expedition Unknown: Saving Marine Mammals Is a Daunting Task (Op-Ed)

Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.


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'Abortion Pill' Gets New Label: 5 Things to Know About Mifepristone

The Food and Drug Administration has approved changes to the label for mifepristone, also known as "the abortion pill," the agency said this week. The new label says that the drug (sold under the brand name Mifeprex) can be taken later in pregnancy and at a lower dose than what was recommended on the old label. "These laws compelled health care providers to use an outdated, inferior and less effective regimen," Planned Parenthood said in a statement, weighing in on the FDA's new rule.

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Marijuana Addiction Linked to Genetics

People with certain genetic markers may be at higher risk for marijuana dependence, a new study suggests. Researchers found a link between three genetic markers and symptoms of marijuana dependence, a condition in which people can't stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of their lives, such as their relationships or their jobs. What's more, the study showed some overlap between the genetic risk factors for marijuana dependence and the genetic risk factors for depression, suggesting a possible reason why these two conditions often occur together, the researchers said.

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Zika Misperceptions: Many in US Unaware of Key Facts

Many people in the U.S. are not aware of key facts about the Zika virus, according to the results of a new poll. Researchers found that, for example, in households that included a woman who was either pregnant or considering getting pregnant in the next year, 1 in 4 people were not aware of the link between the Zika virus during pregnancy and microcephaly, a birth defect that causes an abnormally small brain and head. "We have a key window before the mosquito season gears up in communities within the United States mainland to correct misperceptions about Zika virus so that pregnant women and their partners may take appropriate measures to protect their families," Gillian SteelFisher, director of the poll and a health policy research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement.

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Could this megacopter carry people?

By Jim Drury Students who have a remote-controlled multicopter drone that set a Guinness World Record for the heaviest payload ever lifted by such a vehicle say they hope to get permission to fly a person in its structure.     The University of Oslo team built the large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), over an 18 month period. It contains 13 propellers and eight hexacopters powered by a total of 48 motors that reside on a frame built from aluminum and plywood.     Last October it broke the world record by lifting a payload of 61 kilograms (134lb 7.6oz) into the air and holding it there for 37 seconds, elevated to a height of at least one meter at all times.     The record attempt was far from easy, with the drone unable to lift its initial payload of 73 kilograms and having to reduce its weight.

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Headless Bard? Shakespeare's Skull Pilfered by Grave Robbers

William Shakespeare — arguably the greatest playwright of all time — is missing his head, scientists have discovered. Archaeologists recently scanned the famed writer's grave with ground-penetrating radar. Instead, Shakespeare's body is wrapped in cloth and buried inside a shallow grave less than 3 feet (1 meter) deep, the researchers said.


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305-Million-Year-Old 'Almost Spider' Unlocks Arachnid History

The arachnid, locked in iron carbonate for 305 million years, reveals the stepwise evolution of arachnids into spiders. "It's not quite a spider, but it's very close to being one," said study researcher Russell Garwood, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Arachnids are an ancient group with murky origins, Garwood told Live Science.


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Did Hobbits Live Alongside Modern Humans?

The extinct human lineage nicknamed "the hobbit" for its miniature body may have vanished soon before or soon after modern humans arrived on the hobbits' island home, rather than living alongside modern humans for thousands of years as was previously thought, researchers say. By using new techniques to date hobbit skeletons and the sediment where they were buried, researchers determined that the "hobbit" species, Homo floresiensis, likely vanished earlier than prior estimates had suggested. "Homo floresiensis reminds us that human diversity was far greater in the past than it is today," said study co-lead author Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist at Lakehead University in Ontario.


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Chinese AI team plans to challenge Google's AlphaGo: state media

A team from China plans to challenge Google's AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence (AI) program that beat a world-class player in the ancient board game Go, the state-owned Shanghai Securities News reported on Thursday. Scientists from the China Computer Go team will issue a challenge to AlphaGo by the end of 2016, said attendees at an event in Beijing organized by the Chinese Go Association and the Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence, according to the report. The event was 'The Forum for Understanding the AlphaGo War between Man and Machine and Chinese Artificial Intelligence', Shanghai Securities News reported on its website.


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Diminutive 'Hobbit' people vanished earlier than previously known

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The extinct human species dubbed the "Hobbit" vanished from its home on the Indonesian island of Flores far earlier than previously thought, according to scientists who suspect our species may have had a hand in these diminutive people's demise. Researchers on Wednesday said they recalculated the age of bones of the species, named Homo floresiensis, found inside a Flores cave, and determined it disappeared about 50,000 years ago rather than 12,000 years ago as previously estimated. The Hobbit's discovery in 2003 created a scientific sensation.


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'Unicorns' Lumbered Across Siberia 29,000 Years Ago

Large, four-legged beasts, each with a single horn growing from its head, once ambled across part of western Siberia, in what is now Kazakhstan. Sometimes referred to as "unicorns" because of their single horns, these animals were originally thought to have gone extinct 350,000 years ago. A 1923 publication by paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn estimated the creatures to be larger than any of the modern rhino species.


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Experts Doubt Claims of 'Hidden Chambers' in King Tut's Tomb

Radar experts are casting doubt on claims that King Tutankhamun's tomb contains hidden, undiscovered chambers — and they're calling for more data to be released. At a March 17 newsconference, officials at Egypt's antiquities ministry released radar data that they said showed the presence of hidden cavities inside the tomb of King Tut. The scans, carried out by Japanese radar technologist Hirokatsu Watanabe, "suggest the presence of two empty spaces or cavities beyond the decorated North and West walls of the burial chamber," they said in a statement.


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Man-Made Earthquake Hotspot Revealed: Oklahoma

The chances of a damaging earthquake occurring in parts of Oklahoma and some neighboring states are just as likely as they are in temblor-heavy California, according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Man-made activities related to oil and gas production are creating the shaky conditions in a region of the central and eastern U.S., the USGS seismologists say. USGS scientists just released their first map that includes earthquake risks from both natural and human-induced causes for the coming year.


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U.S. firms target investment in Israeli cannabis R&D

By Maayan Lubell TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Already a pioneer in high-tech and cutting-edge agriculture, Israel is starting to attract American companies looking to bring medical marijuana know-how to a booming market back home. Since 2014, U.S. firms have invested about $50 million in licensing Israeli medical marijuana patents, cannabis agro-tech startups and firms developing delivery devices such as inhalers, said Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN, a private cannabis research hub. "I expect it to grow to $100 million in the coming year," Kaye said at iCAN's CannaTech conference in Tel Aviv this month, one of the largest gatherings of medical marijuana experts.


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Sanofi poaches AstraZeneca scientist as new research head

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi has poached one of AstraZeneca's top scientists to be its new research head in another high-profile departure for the British drugmaker. Sanofi said on Tuesday that Yong-Jun Liu had been appointed as head of research with effect from April 1, reporting to Elias Zerhouni, the group's president of global research and development. Liu, a specialist in immunology with more than 250 published articles in leading academic journals, currently heads up research at AstraZeneca's MedImmune biotechnology division, a position he has held since 2014.


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12 Supereruptions Pockmark Path of Yellowstone Hotspot

Up to 12 massive volcanic blasts occurred between 8 million and 12 million years ago in Idaho's Snake River Plain, leading up to today's Yellowstone supervolcano, new research reveals. 


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Colon Cancer Found in 18th-Century Hungarian Mummy

Tissue samples from a Hungarian mummy have revealed that people in the early 17th and 18th centuries suffered from colon cancer, long before the modern plagues of obesity, physical inactivity and processed food were established as causes of the disease, according to new research. In a new study of 18th-century Hungarian mummies, scientists found that the genetic predisposition to colon cancer predates modern impacts on health. One of the mummies in the study carried a mutation in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene, which physicians now know raises the risk of colon cancer, said lead study author Michal Feldman, a research assistant formerly at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

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Old Vaccine, New Tricks: Revive Early Pertussis Shot, Study Says

Newer isn't always better — some researchers are proposing to bring back an older version of the whooping cough vaccine, because multiple studies show that today's version doesn't protect as well as the earlier kind. In a new study, researchers suggest vaccinating children with one dose of the older whooping cough vaccine — called the whole-cell pertussis vaccine — and then giving them four doses of the current whooping cough vaccine in early childhood. Using a mathematical model, the researchers found that this "combined" vaccination strategy could reduce the rate of whooping cough infections by up to 95 percent, and save millions of dollars in health care costs.

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Women Could Lower Fracture Risk with Mediterranean Diet

Older women who eat a diet full of produce, fish and nuts, may have a slightly lower risk of hip fractures, a new study finds. The researchers found that the risk of hip fracture among the women in the study who adhered most closely to this kind of diet, sometimes called the Mediterranean diet, was very slightly reduced. The finding is important mainly because it shows that following the Mediterranean diet and other related diets, which do not emphasize the intake of dairy foods,is not linked with a higher risk of hip fractures, said Dr. Bernhard Haring, who led the study and is a physician at the University of Wu?rzburg in Germany.

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This Negative Facial Expression Is 'Universal'

The facial expression indicating disagreement is universal, researchers say. A furrowed brow, lifted chin and pressed-together lips — a mix of anger, disgust and contempt — are used to show negative moral judgment among speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin and American Sign Language (ASL), according to a new study published in the May issue of the journal Cognition. In ASL, speakers sometimes use this "not face" alone, without any other negative sign, to indicate disagreement in a sentence.


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Sanofi poaches AstraZeneca scientist as new research head

French drugmaker Sanofi has poached one of AstraZeneca's top scientists to be its new research head in another high-profile departure for the British drugmaker. Sanofi said on Tuesday that Yong-Jun Liu had been appointed as head of research with effect from April 1, reporting to Elias Zerhouni, the group's president of global research and development. Liu, a specialist in immunology with more than 250 published articles in leading academic journals, currently heads up research at AstraZeneca's MedImmune biotechnology division, a position he has held since 2014.


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Arctic Sea Ice Is at Near Record Lows, NASA Says

The ice covering the Arctic is at near record lows this year, and this icy deficit may impact weather around the world, NASA reports. Every March, the Arctic's sea ice reaches its maximum cover, both in area and thickness, before it recedes to its yearly minimum in September. Live Science spoke with NASA scientist Walt Meier yesterday (March 25) to learn more about the low sea-ice level and what it means for the rest of the planet.


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U.S. scientists develop mouse model to test Zika vaccines, drugs

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. scientists have identified a genetically modified strain of mice that develop Zika, an important tool needed for testing vaccines and medicines to treat the virus that is rapidly spreading across the Americas and the Caribbean. "We are going to do experiments to see if we can produce sexual transmission" in these mice, said Scott Weaver, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who worked on the study published on Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Weaver said the Zika mouse model will provide a critical tool to allow companies and scientists to test vaccines and antiviral drugs against Zika, which has been linked with thousands of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect marked by unusually small head size and possible developmental problems.


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U.S. scientists develop mouse model to test Zika vaccines, drugs

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. scientists have identified a genetically modified strain of mice that develop Zika, an important tool needed for testing vaccines and medicines to treat the virus that is rapidly spreading across the Americas and the Caribbean. "We are going to do experiments to see if we can produce sexual transmission" in these mice, said Scott Weaver, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who worked on the study published on Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Weaver said the Zika mouse model will provide a critical tool to allow companies and scientists to test vaccines and antiviral drugs against Zika, which has been linked with thousands of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect marked by unusually small head size and possible developmental problems.


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Aloha, You Old Bat: Extinct Critter Doubles Hawaii's Land Mammal Species

Hawaii just doubled the number of known land mammal species that are native to the islands, thanks to the discovery of a number of fossils representing a tiny bat named Synemporion keana. Found in 13 cave sites over five islands — Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii —the fossils described in a new study represent at least 110 individuals and reveal a bat that was notably different from the only other land mammal species that is endemic to Hawaii — the Hawaiian hoary bat. Many of S. keana's bones were found in the same locations as hoary bat fossils, suggesting to scientists that the bats shared habitats.


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Season of Birth Genetically Linked to Allergy Risk

People born in the fall and winter seem to have an increased risk of certain allergic diseases such as asthma, studies have shown, and now scientists may have found one reason why. In a new study of people in England, researchers found that certain markers on the DNA are linked to the seasons in which people are born, and these markers also seem to mediate people's risk of allergic diseases. The results suggest that some environmental factor that varies from one season to another may also drive the changes in these markers, the researchers said.

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Alaska Volcano Erupts, Spewing Ash 20,000 Feet into the Air

A snow- and ice-covered volcano located in Alaska's Aleutian Islands erupted Sunday (March 27), spewing a cloud of ash about 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) into the sky, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported. The area also had elevated seismic activity at 3:53 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In response, the Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the volcano alert level to "warning," and the aviation color code to "red," meaning that an eruption is imminent or underway and putting high levels of ash into the atmosphere.


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WWII-Era Bell from Sunken Japanese Submarine Recovered

A bronze bell from a sunken World War II-era Japanese submarine was recently recovered off the coast of Oahu, in Hawaii. The bell was retrieved from the underwater remains of the I-400, an Imperial Japanese Navy mega submarine that was captured and intentionally sunk by U.S. forces in 1946. The massive vessel was one of the Japanese Navy's Sen Toku-class submarines.


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Affordable Hypersonic Jets Could Be High-Flying Reality by 2023

Hypersonic aircraft and weapons that can fly more than five times the speed of sound may seem like a futuristic fantasy, but defense giant Lockheed Martin says it is committed to making these ultrafast innovations a reality. In fact, Lockheed Martin is doubling down on hypersonic aerospace technologies, Lockheed officials said recently at the company's Media Day. "Lockheed Martin continues to invest in propulsion technologies and advanced materials needed for hypersonic speeds," Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed Martin president and CEO, said in a statement on March 15.


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New Ultrathin Solar Cells Are Light Enough to Sit on a Soap Bubble

Scientists have created the thinnest, lightest solar power cells yet — so lightweight that they can be draped on top of a soap bubble without popping it. Solar cells, technically known as photovoltaic cells, directly convert energy from light into electricity. The new solar cells are as small as 1.3 microns thick.


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Eating More 'Healthy Fats' May Lower Diabetes Risk

Replacing some of the meat and cheese in your diet with vegetable oils or nuts could help slow the progression of diabetes in some people, according to a small new study. People with "prediabetes" have levels of blood sugar, or glucose, that are higher than normal but not high enough to warrant being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes, and 29.1 million had diabetes, with the vast majority of the cases being type 2, according to the American Diabetes Association.

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Sesame Street's Elmo and Raya Warn Kids About Zika

Two chipper Sesame Street Muppets are lending their cheerful voices to a serious topic in a pair of public-service announcements intended to raise awareness of the Zika virus among children and families. The two 30-second videos were created by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the children's television show Sesame Street. The recordings are meant to engage young viewers in South and Central America and the Caribbean, where the Zika virus is spreading.


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More Injuries from Bison at Yellowstone: Are Selfies to Blame?

Yellowstone National Park has seen a rise in people getting injured by bison lately, and attempts to take selfies may be to blame for at least some of these injuries, according to a new report. In three of the cases, people were injured when a bison tossed them into the air, and in the other two cases, a bison injured the individual with its horns. All of the injuries occurred when people got too close to the bison.

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Can Apple's 'Night Shift' Really Help You Sleep Better?

A new iPhone feature called "Night Shift" automatically adjusts the screen’s colors to warmer hues after sunset, on the premise that this change could help people sleep better. Night Shift is now available as part of Apple's latest mobile operating system update, iOS 9.3, which was released Monday (March 21). The feature uses the iPhone or iPad's clock and geolocation services to determine when sunset is happening in your area, and then automatically adjusts the screen's colors to redder, or warmer, colors, Apple says.


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After Zika Infection, People Should Wait Months to Conceive Children, CDC Says

People who have been infected with Zika virus should wait at least several months before they attempt to conceive a child, according to new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women who are diagnosed with Zika or who experience symptoms of the disease after possible exposure to Zika should wait at least eight weeks after their symptoms started before trying to become pregnant, the CDC said. For men, the recommended wait is much longer: Those who have been infected with Zika or who have symptoms of it should wait at least six months before attempting to conceive a child, the agency said.

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You're Surrounded: New Tech Unleashing 3D Audio

David Pedigo is the senior director of learning & emerging trends at CEDIA. With movies like "Mockingjay: Part 2," "Sicario" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," we're becoming genuinely immersed in the action of these films through a new approach to audio.


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6 of the World's Best Cities to Be a Scientific Genius

More than a backdrop to innovation, certain cities in the United States and around the world have emerged as active innovation centers, where forward-thinking public and private-sector investment is focused on attracting scientists and other innovators to live and work in the region. Do you live in a global innovation hub?

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With the Right 'Words,' Science Can Pull Anyone In (Op-Ed)

Paul Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University and the chief scientist at COSI Science Center. Sutter is also host of the podcasts Ask a Spaceman and RealSpace, and the YouTube series Space In Your Face. The language that physicists and astronomers use to describe the natural world around us and the vast cosmos above us is just that — mathematics.


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Isaac Newton's Recipe for Magical 'Philosopher's Stone' Rediscovered

One of Isaac Newton's 17th-century alchemy manuscripts, buried in a private collection for decades, reveals his recipe for a material thought to be a step toward concocting the magical philosopher's stone. The "philosopher's stone" was a mythical substance that alchemists believed had magical properties and could even help humans achieve immortality. The manuscript turned up at an auction at Bonhams in Pasadena, California, on Feb. 16, where the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in Philadelphia bought it.

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Tiny Artificial Life: Lab-Made Bacterium Sports Smallest Genome Yet

An artificial bacterial genome with the smallest number of genes needed for life has been created in a lab, opening the way for creating synthetic organisms with customized sets of genes aimed at specific tasks, such as eating oil. The newly created bacterium, which can metabolize nutrients and self-replicate (divide and reproduce), brings the team one step closer to building custom artificial life with particular functionalities, they said. The artificial bacterium has only 473 genes, compared with the thousands that exist in wild bacteria.


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Couples' Caffeine Use Linked to Higher Risk of Miscarriage

Couples who wish to get pregnant may want to avoid caffeine because it's associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests. But women's caffeine consumption wasn't the only factor: Among couples in which the male partner drank more than two caffeinated beverages daily before conception, there was a 73 percent higher risk of a miscarriage, according to the study.

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Heart Attack Patients Are Getting Younger, and Sicker

People who experience the most severe type of heart attack have become younger and more obese in the past two decades, according to a new study. This group is also increasingly more likely to smoke, and to have high blood pressure and diabetes, all of which are preventable risk factors for a heart attack, the researchers found. "On the whole, the medical community has done an outstanding job of improving treatments for heart disease, but this study shows that we have to do better on the prevention side," study co-author Dr. Samir Kapadia, an interventional cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement.

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Zika Virus Was in Brazil a Year Before It Was Detected

The Zika virus was likely circulating in Brazil for more than a year before it was detected, according to a new genetic analysis of a small number of Zika samples from Brazil. Airline data from that time show an upsurge in the number of people traveling to the country, particularly from areas where Zika was circulating. The findings suggest that, contrary to previous speculations, fans who attended the FIFA World Cup or a championship canoe race, held in Brazil in 2014, aren't to blame for bringing the virus into the country.

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Women with Oral HPV Also Usually Have Vaginal HPV

Infections with the human papillomavirus (HPV) in the mouth or throat are not common, but a new study finds that about three-quarters of women who do have an oral HPV infection also have a vaginal HPV infection. The study also found that women who'd had two or more oral sex partners in the past year were three times more likely to have both oral and vaginal infections with the same strain of HPV (called a concordant infection) than women who'd had no oral sex partners in the past year. The findings support the "genital-oral transmission theory," the researchers said, in which an HPV infection of the genitals is transmitted to the mouth or throat through oral sex.

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Exercise May Stave Off Cognitive Decline

Older people who exercise may experience a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who don't exercise, according to a new study. The people in the study who did not exercise at all or who exercised very little experienced a decline in their memory and thinking skills equal to 10 extra years of cognitive aging compared with the people who were more physically active. "More and more evidence is suggesting that exercise is good for the brain, and in this observational study, we found that people who were more active declined less on certain tests than people who were less active," said study co-author Dr. Clinton B. Wright, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Miami in Florida.

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Is 'Cat Litter' Parasite Making You a Rageaholic?

Uncontrollable, explosive bouts of anger such a road rage might be the result of an earlier brain infection from the toxoplasmosis parasite, an organism found in cat feces, a new study finds. In the study of more than 350 adults, those with a psychiatric disorder called Intermittent Explosive Disorder, or IED, were twice as likely to have been infected by the toxoplasmosis parasite compared with healthy individuals with no psychiatric diagnosis. The study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that toxoplasmosis — usually a mild or nonsymptomatic infection from a protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma gondii — may somehow alter people's brain chemistry to cause long-term behavior problems.

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Debris Belongs to Doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, Experts Say

Two pieces of plane debris discovered in Mozambique very likely belong to the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing two years ago en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the Australian government announced today (March 24). The Malaysian investigation team for MH370 reported that the pieces, which were discovered Feb. 27, are consistent with panels from a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, said Darren Chester, the Australian minister for infrastructure and transport. "The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370," Chester said in a statement.


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Print Your Hike! 3D Keepsakes Memorialize Mountain Conquests

Hikers who have conquered some of the most challenging trails and want to show off these accomplishments can now memorialize their impressive feats in stunning 3D-printed sculptures made from their GPS tracks. Nice Trails, a project started by Oscar Ardaiz, a computer science Ph.D. candidate based in Barcelona, Spain, creates models, or "trophies," that visualize GPS-tracked hiking trails, cycling trails or other mountainous routes in three dimensions. A user can simply upload and save a GPS track to the project's website, and Nice Trails will create a 3D-printed replica of the path and the surrounding terrain.


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Dracula Science: How Long Does It Take for a Vampire to Drain Blood?

A team of university students recently combined vampire lore with the study of fluid dynamics — the physics of how liquid behaves — to find out. Their findings, timed to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the classic vampire film "Dracula" (1931), were published online in the 2015 issue of the University of Leicester's Journal of Physics Special Topics. The student researchers considered how long a vampire could sip from a human host — easily accessed by a bite to the neck — before blood loss would trigger changes in heart rate, based on average blood pressure and the velocity of blood flow in the external carotid artery, the main avenue for blood traveling away from the heart.


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Live Sumatran Rhino Captured in Indonesia

A live Sumatran rhinoceros has been captured in the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, a region where these critically endangered animals were thought to be extinct. A single camera-trap image and telltale footprints found in 2013 had previously revealed that Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) still survived in Kalimantan, which makes up the southern 73 percent of Borneo. Conservation groups estimate that fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos are left in the wild, most of which live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, located west of Borneo.


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Mystery of Long-Lost Navy Tugboat Is Solved

The disappearance of the U.S. Navy tugboat USS Conestoga 95 years ago has stymied experts for nearly a century. The tugboat and its crew of 56 officers and sailors were last seen on March 25, 1921, when the Conestoga departed Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California on its way to American Samoa. But yesterday (March 23), the location of the Conestoga finally came to light.


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Stripped-down synthetic organism sheds light on nature of life

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists on Thursday announced the creation of a synthetic organism stripped down to the bare essentials with the fewest genes needed to survive and multiply, a feat at the microscopic level that may provide big insights on the very nature of life. Genome research pioneer J. Craig Venter called the bacterial cell his research team designed and constructed the "most simple of all organisms." While the human genome possesses more than 20,000 genes, the new organism gets by with only 473.


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Genetic study tracks start of Zika's invasion of Americas back to 2013

The Zika virus currently sweeping through the Americas looks to have hitched a ride on a plane into Brazil in 2013 and begun its invasion of the continent from there, scientists said on Thursday. In the first genome analysis of the current Zika epidemic, which has been linked in Brazil to cases of birth defects known as microcephaly, researchers said the virus' introduction to the Americas almost three years ago coincided with a 50 percent rise in air passengers from Zika-affected areas. The strain of the virus circulating in the current outbreak is most closely related to one from French Polynesia, the scientists said, although it is also possible that Zika was introduced separately to the Americas and French Polynesia from South East Asia.


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World's Largest Aircraft Readies for Takeoff

The world's largest aircraft, some 65 feet (20 meters) longer than the world's biggest passenger airliner, is just about ready to leave its hangar near London and take to the skies.


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Elusive Marbled Cats Secretly Photographed in Borneo

A secret photo shoot deep in the forests of Malaysian Borneo is helping researchers determine just how many marbled cats — rare, tree-climbing felines — live in the region, according to a new study. To get a better idea of the cats' stomping grounds, the researchers placed camera traps in eight forests and two palm oil plantations in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, they said. "We show that marbled cats can still survive in logged forests," said study lead researcher Andrew Hearn, a doctoral candidate at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.


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Sunken Pirate Ship from Explorer Vasco da Gama's Fleet Discovered

Marine archaeologists think they've discovered a lost Portuguese ship from explorer Vasco da Gama's fleet off the coast of present-day Oman, more than 500 years after it sank in a deadly storm. A team led by David Mearns, of the U.K.-based Blue Water Recoveries, first located the shipwreck in 1998 using archives and historical documents as a guide. After recent underwater excavations and careful analysis of more than 2,800 artifacts, including cannonballs and rare coins, the researchers are now fairly certain they have found the nau Esmeralda, the doomed ship commanded by da Gama's uncle.


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Oslo trash incinerator in carbon capture trial

The world's first experiment to capture carbon dioxide from the fumes of burning rubbish is nearing completion in Oslo.     The trial at the Norwegian capital's main waste incinerator began in January in a groundbreaking bid to develop technology to enlist the world's trash in slowing global warming.     The test at the Klemetsrud incinerator, which burns household and industrial waste, is a step beyond most efforts to capture and bury greenhouse gases at coal-fired power plants or factories using fossil fuels.     So far, high costs have plagued technology for carbon capture and storage. Last December, almost 200 nations agreed a deal in Paris to fight climate change in a new spur for technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.     Johnny Stuen, technical director of the Klemetsrud waste-to-energy incinerator, said the plant already generates heat to warm buildings in the city.

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Mood lighting for stress-free chickens

By Matthew Stock A new energy efficient lighting system for poultry farms uses bulbs with a light spectrum specially adjusted for chicken retinas. According to John Matcham from Greengage Lighting Ltd., the chicken's superior eyesight isn't taken into account by traditional lighting that is better suited for human sight.

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Hidden Text in England's Oldest Printed Bible Revealed

Long-hidden annotations in a Henry VIII-era Bible reveal the messy, gradual process of the Protestant Reformation. The handwritten notes were just discovered in a Latin Bible published in 1535 by Henry VIII's printer. The version with the annotations is in the Lambeth Palace Library in London.


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Moderate Drinking Has No Health Benefits, Large Review of Studies Concludes

Researchers reviewed 87 studies that found a link between moderate drinking and longevity, and they found major problems with way the studies were designed. "From a scientific standpoint, the relationship between alcohol consumption and health is obviously very important, and is a very controversial area," Dr. Tim Naimi, a physician and researcher at Boston Medical Center and co-author of the new review, told Live Science.

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Mindfulness Meditation May Reduce Low Back Pain

People with chronic low back pain may benefit from meditating, a new study finds. In the study, a group of people with chronic low back pain participated in an eight-week program called mindfulness-based stress reduction, which involved using meditation to increase their awareness of the present moment, and their acceptance of difficult thoughts and feelings, including their pain. About six months after the start of the study, the people who participated in the meditation program were more likely to experience at least a 30 percent improvement in their ability to carry out daily activities, compared with the people who received only standard treatments for low back pain, such as medication.


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'Japanese Diet' Linked to Longer Life

Eating the traditional Japanese diet may lead to a longer life, a new study finds. Adults in Japan who closely followed that country's government-recommended dietary guidelines had a 15 percent lower risk of dying during a 15-year time period, as compared to people who didn't follow the guidelines, according to the new study. In particular, those people who most closely followed the dietary guidelines were 22 percent less likely to die of stroke during the time period, according to the study, published today (March 22) in The BMJ.

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Wireless mice leave billions at risk of computer hack: cyber security firm

By Ben Gruber San Francisco, CA (Reuters) - Marc Newlin and Balint Seeber are checking how far apart they can be while still being able to hack into each other's computers. It turns out its pretty far - 180 meters - the length of a city block in San Francisco.  The pair work for Bastille, a startup cyber security company that has uncovered a flaw they say leaves millions of networks and billions of computers vulnerable to attack.  Wireless mice from companies like HP, Lenovo, Amazon and Dell use unencrypted signals to communicate with computers.  "They haven't encrypted the mouse traffic, that makes it possible for the attacker to send unencrypted traffic to the dongle pretending to be a keyboard and have it result as keystrokes on your computer.

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Holy Drones, Batman! Real-Life 'Batplane' Mimics Flexible Wings

Inspired by the wings that allow bats to pull off such impressive maneuvers, a team of engineers designed new kinds of wing surfaces for drones. At the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, a group led by engineering professor Bharathram Ganapathisubramani designed a flexible, membrane wing for small drones, otherwise known as micro air vehicles (MAVs). MAVs are used for a variety of purposes, including reconnaissance and scientific work.


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Birds Use Alligators As Bodyguards

Birds may use alligators as bodyguards to protect their nests from hungry raccoons and opossums, but gator payment may come at a steep cost — namely, in the form of the birds' chicks that are dropped into the water, researchers say. Previous research found that wading birds — such as storks, herons, egrets, ibises and spoonbills — often choose to nest above alligators. However, there was little research into what, if anything, alligators gained from such arrangements.


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Butchered Bear Pushes Back Human Arrival on Ireland

The slashed kneecap of a bear found deep inside a prehistoric cave suggests human hunters lived in Ireland earlier than had been previously thought, a new study finds. Researchers found the kneecap in Ireland's Alice and Gwendoline Cave, in County Clare, in 1903. Then, in 2010 and 2011, Ruth Carden, an animal osteologist at the National Museum of Ireland, began going through the cave's many bone artifacts.


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#TheInternetNamesAnimals: Do Animals Get the Monikers They Deserve?

Over the past several days, a massive wave of online support propelled the unlikely name "Boaty McBoatface" to the top of a poll proposing monikers for a British polar research vessel.


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Trippy! Psychedelic Zebrafish Reveal How Cells Regenerate

In what looks more like a post-impressionist painting than a scientific achievement, a transgenic zebrafish is revealing how hundreds of its cells regenerate in a bouquet of colors. Scientists genetically programmed every cell on the zebrafish's body surface, including its cornea, scales, fins and barbels, to express a unique combination of green, red and blue fluorescent proteins, according to lead scientist Kenneth D. Poss, a cell biology professor at Duke University. The result: images of a technicolored zebrafish — revealing 70 different hues — that could just as easily hang in an art museum as appear in a scientific journal.


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3-D printer, 'Gecko Grippers' head to space station

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket loaded with supplies and science experiments blasted off from Florida on Tuesday, boosting an Orbital ATK cargo capsule toward the International Space Station. United Launch Alliance is a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Perched on top of the rocket was a Cygnus capsule loaded with nearly 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg) of food, science experiments and equipment including a 3-D printer to build tools for astronauts and non-stick grippers modeled after gecko feet.

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New 3D View of Richard III's Humble Grave Revealed

Richard III's lost skeleton was discovered under a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. In honor of this one-year anniversary, the University of Leicester has released a digital 3D model of Richard III's original grave.


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Beetle's chemical signal tells mate, 'Honey, I'm not in the mood'

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When a female "burying beetle" is focused on caring for babies and not making new ones, she releases a chemical signal to her libidinous mate that says in no uncertain terms, "Honey, I'm not in the mood." Scientists described on Tuesday how these females employ an anti-aphrodisiac chemical known as a pheromone during a three-day period critical for raising offspring to tell the male she is temporary infertile and prevent him from trying to copulate. It provides insight into how animals change their behavior to provide care for their young, in this instance favoring parenting over sexual activity to produce new offspring. "Our study helps to understand animal family life and how it is coordinated between family members," said biologist Sandra Steiger of Germany's University of Ulm, who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.


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High Anxiety Risk in Adolescence Linked to One Gene

Anxiety disorders often emerge in adolescence, when the brain goes through massive changes and new genes are expressed. Now, researchers have found a gene that may be a factor in the general peak of anxiety during this time. They also found that carrying a common version of this gene may protect people from anxiety.

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New Patch Analyzes Sweat to Detect Blood Sugar Levels

A stick-on patch that tracks, and even regulates, blood sugar levels could be used by people with diabetes one day, according to a new study. Unlike finger pricking — the traditional method of monitoring levels of the blood sugar glucose — the new patch detects the levels of glucose in a person's sweat. Research has shown that glucose levels in sweat accurately reflect glucose levels in the blood, the researchers said.

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'Boaty McBoatface' Tops Poll to Name Polar Research Vessel

"Name our ship!" This was the call from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in an online poll soliciting names for a U.K. polar research vessel. The whimsical suggestion captured the public imagination and rocketed the humorous moniker into first place, trouncing even recommendations honoring beloved British icons like Sir Richard Attenborough and recently deceased musician David Bowie. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) currently boasts two polar research vessels — a stately pair of ships named for famed arctic explorers: the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Clark Ross, used primarily for conducting oceanographic research, and the RRS Ernest Shackleton, which transports cargo, passengers and fuel to polar research destinations.


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