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Showing posts from April, 2016

Astronomers find a tailless comet, first of its kind

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronomers have found a first-of-its-kind tailless comet whose composition may offer clues into long-standing questions about the solar system's formation and evolution, according to research published on Friday in the journal Science Advances. The so-called "Manx" comet, named after a breed of cats without tails, was made of rocky materials that are normally found near Earth. Most comets are made of ice and other frozen compounds and were formed in solar system's frigid far reaches.


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Africa's giant eye in the sky proving worth its SALT

By Wendell Roelf SUTHERLAND, South Africa (Reuters) - South Africa’s SALT telescope has helped detect the first white dwarf pulsar, the latest co-discovery that has astronomers eager to use the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere to unlock the galaxy's secrets. Quick reaction times, as well as being significantly cheaper than similar European or American facilities in producing the science are key competitive advantages, said a senior astronomer at the SALT consortium during a media visit. “SALT is now living up to expectations, producing high-quality science data that probe the far reaches of the universe,” said Ted Williams, a director at the South African Astronomical Observatory managing the site.


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Simulating Mars exploration, British astronaut guides rover from space

British astronaut Tim Peake drove a rover on Mars on Friday -- or at least pretended to by test-driving the exploration vehicle on earth remotely from space. From the International Space Station (ISS) some 250 miles above earth, the European Space Agency astronaut guided rover prototype "Bridget" around a cave set up in an area simulating Mars's sandy and rocky surface in Stevenage, England. The experiment was part of the Multi-Purpose End-To-End Robotic Operation Network (METERON) program looking at how astronauts can work robots from space.


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Astronomers find a tailless comet, first of its kind

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronomers have found a first-of-its-kind tailless comet whose composition may offer clues into long-standing questions about the solar system's formation and evolution, according to research published on Friday in the journal Science Advances. The so-called "Manx" comet, named after a breed of cats without tails, was made of rocky materials that are normally found near Earth. Most comets are made of ice and other frozen compounds and were formed in solar system's frigid far reaches.

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Pop went the weasel and down went the Large Hadron Collider

GENEVA (AP) — It's one of the physics world's most complex machines, and it has been immobilized — temporarily — by a weasel.


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Spanking Makes Kids More Defiant, Studies Suggest

In fact, kids who were spanked were more likely to defy their parents, have mental health problems and be anti-social, the research finds. "Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors," Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. A 2014 UNICEF study found that about 80 percent of parents spank their children worldwide.


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'Lost' Medieval Music Performed for First Time in 1,000 Years

The language of music is universal, but can be lost over time. After a 20-year reconstruction effort, a researcher and a performer of medieval music have brought "lost" songs from the Middle Ages back to life. The "Songs of Consolation" were recently performed at the University of Cambridgein the United Kingdom.


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Power Up with Pee: New Fuel Cell Could Generate Cheap Electricity

Researchers have developed a way to create affordable and renewable electricity with a fuel cell that runs on urine. The new device relies on natural biological processes of so-called electric bacteria, essentially living cells that eat and breathe electricity. "These electric bacteria are a fascinating type of bacteria that are capable of transferring electrons generated by the breaking down of organic compounds extra-cellularly," said study co-author Mirella Di Lorenzo, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath, in the United Kingdom.


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Did Opioids Kill Prince? Why It's So Easy to Overdose

Exactly what caused Prince's sudden death last week is still unknown, but there have been reports that prescription painkillers were found with the singer-songwriter when he died. Experts say there are a number of ways in which prescription opioids can be lethal, particularly if they are taken in combination with other drugs, or if someone starts using the drugs again after a period of sobriety. What's more, people are often not aware of just how easy it can be to overdose on these drugs, said Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York.

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Teens Who Do Jell-O Shots More Likely to Binge Drink

About 20 percent of underage drinkers in the United States consume alcoholic Jell-O shots, and these youth are also more likely to engage in binge drinking and other risky behaviors, a new study finds. On average, Jell-O shot users consumed 31 alcoholic drinks per month, compared with 19 alcoholic drinks among nonusers. About 73 percent of Jell-O shot users were binge drinkers, meaning they consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a row, compared with 48 percent of nonusers.

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Having More Friends May Mean Feeling Less Pain

People in the study who had larger social networks appeared to have a higher tolerance for pain, according to the findings, which were published today (April 28) in the journal Scientific Reports. In the study, the researchers wanted to see if people with larger social networks had higher levels of chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins are linked to feelings of pleasure, as well as reduced feelings of pain.

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China aims for manned moon landing by 2036

China wants to put astronauts on the moon by 2036, a senior space official said, the latest goal in China's ambitious lunar exploration program. China in 2003 became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States. It has touted its plans for moon exploration and in late 2013 completed the first lunar "soft landing" since 1976 with the Chang'e-3 craft and its Jade Rabbit rover.


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Repairs to keep ULA rocket grounded until summer, company says

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - United Launch Alliance's workhorse Atlas 5 rocket will remain grounded until this summer while engineers fix a problem that triggered an early engine shutdown during its last flight, the space venture said on Friday. The Atlas 5 rocket that blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 22 successfully delivered an Orbital ATK cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA. United Launch Alliance, or ULA, is a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co.. Engineers have traced the problem to a fuel control valve in the RD-180 engine that reduced the amount of kerosene delivered during the boost phase of the flight, ULA said in a statement.


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Do Australian Dragons Dream? Sleep Discovery Surprises Scientists

Maybe, according to new research that finds rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep in a lizard, the Australian dragon, for the first time. REM sleep is characterized by brain waves that look similar to waking brain activity. In mammals, the large muscles of the body are immobile, but the eyes twitch randomly during REM sleep.


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Slumber party: reptiles, like us, have REM sleep and may dream

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Research in a German laboratory involving five lizards called Australian bearded dragons indicates that these reptiles may dream and could prompt a fundamental reassessment of the evolution of sleep. Scientists said on Thursday they have documented for the first time that reptiles, like people, experience rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep and another sleep stage called slow-wave sleep. Because REM sleep is when dreaming occurs in people, the findings suggest that these lizards dream, too.


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SpaceX undercut ULA rocket launch pricing by 40 percent: U.S. Air Force

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force will save 40 percent by buying a GPS satellite launch from Elon Musk’s SpaceX compared with what United Launch Alliance has been charging, the head of the Space and Missile Systems Center said on Thursday. The Air Force on Wednesday awarded SpaceX an $83 million contract to launch the satellite, breaking the monopoly that ULA partners Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co had held on military space launches for more than a decade. The disclosure of the cost gap between SpaceX and ULA highlights the challenge the latter will face in competing for future launch business.


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Fit in 60 Seconds? 1-Minute Workout May Be Good Enough

People who say they don't have time to exercise may be out of excuses: A new study finds that just 1 minute of sprinting, along with 9 minutes of light exercise, leads to similar improvements in health and fitness as a 50-minute workout at a moderate pace. Such exercise may be an option for people who want to boost their fitness, but don't have a whole lot of time to commit to regular exercise, the study suggests. "Most people cite 'lack of time' as the main reason for not being active", study co-author Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, said in a statement.

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'Mindfulness' May Keep Depression from Coming Back

People in the study who received this type of therapy, called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), were 31 percent less likely to experience a relapse of depression beyond the first year compared with those who did not receive this type of therapy, according to the findings, which were published today (April 27) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. MBCT combines two approaches for keeping depression symptoms at bay: the practice of mindfulness, or being aware of your emotions, and cognitive therapy, which involves identifying unhealthy thought patterns and developing constructive ways to approach them, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Ultimately, MBCT may work to prevent depression because it teaches people the "skills to stay well," the researchers wrote in the study, which was led by Willem Kuyken, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford in England.

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Unlucky 7? Emergency Surgery Usually Means These Operations

Just seven common operations account for the vast majority of emergency surgeries performed in the U.S., a new study finds. Those seven surgeries made up 80 percent of all emergency surgical procedures, according to the study. The researchers focused on a broad category of operations called general surgery, which includes a wide-range of surgeries, many of which are performed on the abdomen.

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Scientists Find New Way to Tan or Lighten Skin

Scientists have uncovered how human skin cells control pigmentation — a discovery that could lead to safer ways to tan or lighten the skin. Researchers found that skin color can be regulated by estrogen and progesterone, two of the main female sex hormones. Although this much was known to a limited degree, the new research revealed two cellular receptors that appear to control this process in skin cells called melanocytes.

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In risks to bees, study finds not all neonicotinoids are equal

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - A group of chemical insecticides known as neonicotinoids that have been banned in Europe due to fears about potential harm to bees have been found in new research to have very differential risks for bumblebees. Scientists who conducted the research said their findings showed that at least one neonicotinoid in the banned group - clothianidin – may have been unfairly named as among the offenders. This insecticide did not show the same detrimental effects on bee colonies as the others, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, the researchers found.


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Acting Sorry: Why Johnny Depp Owed Australia an Apology

Johnny Depp's latest most-watched (and highly critiqued) performance is just a little more personal than his typical thespian challenges. In a video shared on YouTube on April 17 by Australian officials, Depp appeared with his wife, actress Amber Heard, offering words of apology for violating the country's biosecurity regulations last year. Heard had illegally brought the couple's two pet Yorkshire terriers into Australia on April 21, 2015, without an import permit and without first subjecting them to a mandated quarantine — a requirement for all cats and dogs introduced into the country.


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Ancient Hyenas Ate Human Relatives Half a Million Years Ago

Tooth marks on the leg bone of a hominin, an ancient human relative, suggest that the poor soul had a gristly end, a new study finds. The tooth marks and fractures on the roughly 500,000-year-old femur indicate that a large carnivore, likely an extinct hyena, chewed on the bone, the researchers said. It's not surprising that a large, carnivorous predator would hunt down a hominin, said study lead researcher Camille Daujeard, a researcher in the Department of Prehistory at the National Museum of Natural History in France.


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Earth Gets Greener as Globe Gets Hotter

The excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has created a greener planet, a new NASA study shows. The radical greening "has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system," lead author Zaichun Zhu, a researcher from Peking University in Beijing, said in a statement. Green leafy flora make up 32 percent of Earth's surface area.


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Why Pregnant Women Are More Prone to Yeast Infections

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether a medication used for treating yeast infections may pose risks if women take it during pregnancy. Today, the agency announced that it is reviewing the results of a recent study from Denmark that found a link between the medication, called oral fluconazole (brand name Diflucan) and an increased risk of miscarriages. The study, published Jan. 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that pregnant women who took oral fluconazole were 48 percent more likely to have a miscarriage than women who didn't take the drug.

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Half Australia's Great Barrier Reef northern coral 'dead or dying': scientists

(This April 20 story has been corrected in headline and first paragraph to show that 50 percent of northern coral is dead or dying not entire reef) By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists said on Wednesday that just seven percent of the Great Barrier Reef, which attracts around A$5 billion ($3.90 billion) in tourism every year, has been untouched by mass bleaching that is likely to destroy half of the northern coral. In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it's like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once," said Professor Terry Hughes, conveyor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, which conducted aerial surveys of the World Heritage site. "Our estimate at the moment is that close to 50 percent of the coral is already dead or dying," Hughes told Reuters.


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Russia launches inaugural rocket from new spaceport at second attempt

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia launched its inaugural rocket from a new cosmodrome on Thursday, a day after a technical glitch thwarted the much-publicized event in a sign of continued crisis in the nation's space industry. An unmanned Soyuz rocket carrying three satellites roared off from the launch pad at Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur Region near China's border at 0501 Moscow time (0201 GMT), Russian news agencies reported. ...


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SpaceX breaks Boeing-Lockheed monopoly on military space launches

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday awarded billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX an $83 million contract to launch a GPS satellite, breaking the monopoly that Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co have held on military space launches for more than a decade. The Global Positioning System satellite will be launched in May 2018 from Florida, Air Force officials said. It ends the exclusive relationship between the military and United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.


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SpaceX breaks Boeing-Lockheed monopoly on military space launches

The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday awarded billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX an $83 million contract to launch a GPS satellite, breaking the monopoly that Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co have had on military space launches for more than a decade. The Global Positioning System satellite will be launched in May 2018, Air Force officials said. It breaks the monopoly on launching military space and national security payloads held by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.


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Mysterious 'Haloes' on Pluto Puzzle Scientists

The discovery of strange halo-like craters on Pluto has raised a new mystery about how the odd scars formed on the icy world. Pluto's "halo" craters are clearly visible in a new image from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which made the first-ever flyby of the dwarf planet in July 2015. In the image, a black-and-white view reveals dozens of ringed craters (NASA describes these formations as "haloed") strewn across the dark landscape of Vega Terra, a region in the far western reaches of the hemisphere photographed by New Horizons during its flyby.


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SpaceX targets 2018 for first Mars mission

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - SpaceX plans to send an unmanned Dragon spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018, the company said on Wednesday, a first step in achieving founder Elon Musk’s goal to fly people to another planet. The program, known as Red Dragon, is intended to develop the technologies needed for human transportation to Mars, a long-term goal for Musk's privately held Space Exploration Technologies, as well as the U.S. space agency NASA. "Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system," Musk posted on Twitter.


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Mars Comes to Earth: Scientists 'Visit' Red Planet with Augmented Reality

NASA is aiming to send astronauts to Mars sometime in the 2030s, but a new technology could help scientists explore the surface of the Red Planet — from its sprawling craters to its enormous volcanoes — from right here on Earth. Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, partnered with Microsoft to develop software that uses the tech giant's HoloLens headsets to allow scientists to virtually explore and conduct scientific research on Mars. The HoloLens is an augmented reality platform that "allows us to overlay imagery on top of the world and integrate it into that world as I'm looking at it," Tony Valderrama, a software engineer at JPL, said Sunday (April 24) in a demonstration of the technology here at the Smithsonian magazine's "Future Is Here" festival.


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Russia's Putin orders space program shake-up after launch delayed

By Christian Lowe MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told his space officials to raise their game on Wednesday after he flew thousands of kilometers to watch the inaugural launch of a rocket from a new spaceport, only for it to be called off. A prestige project for Putin, it is intended to phase out Russia's reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome, in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, for launching its rockets into space. "Without any doubt we will have to draw conclusions," a stern-looking Putin told a meeting of space industry officials at the cosmodrome, in Russia's remote Amur region near the border with China.


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Hairy-Legged 'Chewbacca Beetle' Discovered in New Guinea

The towering and shaggy Wookiee character Chewbacca from the "Star Wars" movies has a new namesake — a tiny weevil recently discovered in New Guinea. Though the insect is significantly smaller and much less hairy than everyone's favorite "walking carpet," dense scales on the weevil's legs and head reminded the scientists of Chewbacca's fur, prompting their name choice. Trigonopterus chewbacca is one of four new weevil species identified on the island of New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago in New Guinea.


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Whodunit? Mystery Lines Show Up in Satellite Image of Caspian Sea

From 438 miles (705 kilometers) up, the floor of the north Caspian Sea looks like someone's just scoured it with a Brillo Pad. Don't get out the tinfoil hat yet: NASA scientists say these mystery lines are the work of sea ice. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ocean scientists noticed the image this month, shortly after it was acquired by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite, according to NASA's Earth Observatory.


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Time to Change Your Sheets? Bedbugs Have Favorite Colors

Do bedbugs prefer their hiding places to be a certain color? Researchers conducted a series of tests in a lab to see if bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) would favor different-colored harborages, or places where pests seek shelter. The scientists found that bedbugs strongly prefer red and black, and typically avoid colors like green and yellow.

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Glitch postpones first space flight from Russia's new launch-pad

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A technical fault forced Russia's space agency on Wednesday to postpone at the last minute the inaugural launch of a rocket into space from its new Vostochny launch-pad, Russian media reported. An unmanned Soyuz rocket carrying three satellites had been scheduled to fire off into orbit from the Vostochny site, which was built to end Russia's reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome in neighboring Kazakhstan. ...


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4,000 Sickened in Spain: How Does a Virus Get into Bottled Water?

Thousands of people in Spain were recently sickened with a virus spreading from an unlikely source: bottled water. The illnesses were linked to contaminated office water coolers that were distributed to hundreds of companies in the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona. Norovirus is a common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks, and it can also contaminate drinking water, such as water from private wells, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Obesity Rates in US Kids Still Rising, Study Says

Despite reports that childhood obesity may be declining in some parts of the United States, a new study suggests that childhood obesity is still on the rise nationwide. In particular, there has been an increase in the percentage of children with severe obesity, the study found. From 2013 to 2014, 6.3 percent of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35, which is considered to be severely obese.

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Concentration counts in mind controlled drone race

It was a test of concentration and brainwaves for students at the University of Florida during what was billed as the first mind controlled drone race. Sixteen competitors wearing special headsets measuring the electrical activity of their brains used their powers of concentration to send their drones down a 10-yard (meter) course to the finish line. The students used brain-computer interface (BCI)  which enables a person to use brainwaves to control a computer or other device.

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Heads up: intact skull sheds light on big, long-necked dinosaurs

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A beautifully preserved fossil skull unearthed in Argentina is giving scientists unparalleled insight into the sensory capabilities and behavior of a group of dinosaurs that were the largest land animals in Earth's history. Scientists announced on Tuesday the discovery of the skull as well as neck bones of a newly identified dinosaur called Sarmientosaurus that roamed Patagonia 95 million years ago. CT scans of the skull revealed its brain structure and provided close understanding of its hearing, sight and feeding behavior.


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Researchers use light to battle cancer

By Ben Gruber BOSTON (Reuters) - In an intriguing approach to the fight against cancer, researchers for the first time have used light to prevent and reverse tumors using a technique called optogenetics to manipulate electrical signaling in cells. Scientists at Tufts University performed optogenetics experiments on frogs, often used in basic research into cancer because of the biological similarities in their tumors to those in mammals, to test whether this method already used in brain and nervous system research could be applied to cancer. "We call this whole research program cracking the bioelectric code," said biologist Michael Levin, who heads the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology.

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Battling cancer with light

Researchers have for the first time used a technique called optogenetics to prevent and reverse cancer by manipulating electrical signals in cells. Lead author on the study Brook Chernet injected frog embryos with two types of genes, an oncogene to predispose them to cancer and another gene to produce light sensitive "ion channels" in tumor-type cells. Ion channels are passageways into and out of the cell that open in response to certain signals.

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William Shatner: 'Star Trek' Tech Is 'Not That Far-Fetched'

William Shatner knows a thing or two about sci-fi tech. The 85-year-old actor is best known for his portrayal of the fictional Captain James Kirk, the courageous and willful leader of the starship Enterprise from the original "Star Trek" TV series. The show, which debuted in 1966, exposed audiences to spaceships, intergalactic space travel and a bevy of high-tech, futuristic gadgets.


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New Wearable Device Is Virtual Ski Coach Inside Your Boot

The Carv insert does not sink under pressure as memory foam does, but it does remember and record where it experiences pressure, with the help of 48 sensors, according to MotionMetrics. The sensors are designed to pick up subtle changes in pressure distribution and to track acceleration, rotation speed and location, said Jamie Grant, CEO of MotionMetrics. The insert is less than a millimeter thick and doesn’t affect the user's ability to ski, according to the company.


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Tesla Coils 'Sing' in Electrifying Performance

ArcAttack creates music using two giant structures called Tesla coils, which were invented by the eccentric genius Nikola Tesla in 1891, as part of his dream to develop a way to transmit electricity around the world without any wires. Now, more than 120 years later, a band that is described by its founding member, Joe DiPrima, as a "mad scientist-slash-rock group," has found an innovative way to use these tower-like structures for entertainment. When they are played, the Tesla coils emit a soft buzz before unleashing long tentacles of electricity.


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He Will Rock You: Decoding Freddie Mercury's Vocal Prowess

As the lead singer of the legendary rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury possessed a voice with the quicksilver qualities of his mercurial last name, soaring to seemingly impossible heights before descending to rumbling depths, and lending a signature drama to Queens' distinctive sound. During the two decades that Mercury led the band, the extent of his impressive vocal abilities were the subject of much speculation, but they were never studied in depth. Using acoustic data from sampled recordings and vocal re-enactments, they evaluated Mercury's speaking and singing voice.


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Blaze guts Delhi museum housing dinosaur fossil

A fire on Tuesday damaged a museum of natural history in the Indian capital that had scores of exhibits of plants and animals, among them a 160-million-year-old dinosaur fossil. More than a hundred firemen battled for about three hours to douse the flames that broke out early on Tuesday on the top floor of the National Museum of Natural History. "The damage is huge," said Rajesh Panwar, deputy chief of the Delhi Fire Service, adding that some part of the museum was being renovated and that its fire fighting system was out of operation.


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Drug Overdose Deaths Increased 70-Fold in These US Counties

Some U.S. counties have seen a 70-fold increase in drug overdose deaths in the last few decades, a new study finds. However, the areas with the highest increases in drug overdose deaths are not always the places with the most drug trafficking, as identified by the government, the study found. This suggests that drugs are passing through some high-trafficking counties without affecting death rates of the people in those regions, but are causing problems in other parts of the country, the researchers said.

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Woman's Paranoia Had an Unusual Cause

The 43-year-old woman in Turkey had become suddenly suspicious of her husband's infidelity, and had started looking through his phone and personal belongings, the doctors who treated her wrote in their report of her case, published in March in the journal BMJ Case Reports. The woman came to see doctors in January 2015, seeking medical help for her paranoia about her husband's behavior, said Dr. C. Onur Noyan, a psychiatrist at NPIstanbul Neuropsychiatry Hospital in Istanbul who treated the woman and was the lead author of the case report. The doctors conducted a detailed psychiatric evaluation and concluded that the woman had experienced a brief psychotic attack, Noyan said.

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Why Some 'Unhealthy' Eating Behaviors Might Not Be That Bad

Dining out or eating canned foods might not actually be so bad for your waistline, a new study from Spain suggests. People who said they ate while watching TV at least two times a week, or didn't plan how much to eat before they sat down to a meal, were more likely to gain weight, compared with people who didn't report engaging in these unhealthy eating behaviors. But many other behaviors that are typically thought of as unhealthy — including eating pre-cooked or canned foods, buying snacks from a vending machine, and eating at fast food restaurants more than once a week — were not linked to weight gain.

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How Jet-Black Metal Converts Sunlight to Steam Power

Steam power, once a major force behind the Industrial Revolution, could be coming back into fashion, after Chinese researchers designed the world's "darkest metal" that converts sunlight to steam at roughly 90 percent efficiency. Despite being made from gold, the so-called "plasmonic absorber" is jet black as it absorbs 99 percent of light in the visible to mid-infrared spectrum. Its designers say this is a dramatic improvement over previous metal absorbers and comparable to the world's darkest material, carbon-nanotube (CNT) arrays.

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Levitating Sled Sets New World Speed Record

A new magnetic levitating (maglev) sled has blasted its way to a world speed record. The lightning-fast sled is officially the fastest object of its kind, according to the U.S. Air Force. The 2,000-lb. (900 kilograms) sled, which was designed by an Air Force squadron to test the delicate instruments inside weapons systems, broke the world record for speed on March 4, eclipsing its own previous record that had been set just two days earlier.


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Bizarre Ant Life Rafts Have Assigned Seating

It's weird enough that some ant species can work together to build living rafts in the event of a flood. Fire ant species make similar rafts, clinging to one another with their jaws, claws and sticky leg pads.


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Lap Dinos? Gigantic Sauropods Started Out Chihuahua-Size

Now, the discovery of the animal's fossilized bones suggests that the family of ginormous dinosaurs that this titanosaur belonged to started out small — each about the size of a Chihuahua — and were precocial, a new study finds. "Baby Rapetosaurus gives us our first in-depth look at a sauropod within just a few weeks of hatching," said study lead researcher Kristina Curry Rogers, an associate professor of biology and geology at Macalester College in Minnesota. "That's where I found them several years ago, when I was searching for bones of ancient crocodiles and turtles," Curry Rogers told Live Science in an email.


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Astronaut runs marathon in space -- but slower than on earth

(Reuters) - British astronaut Tim Peake became the first man to complete a marathon in space on Sunday, running the classic 26.2 mile distance while strapped to a treadmill aboard the International Space Station. As part of the London Marathon, Britain's biggest mass participation race, the 44-year-old spaceman saw London's roads under his feet in real time on an iPad as, 250 miles below him, more than 37,000 runners simultaneously pounded the streets. Peake covered the distance in three hours 35 minutes 21 seconds, which was a world away from the time recorded by the real race winner, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge, whose 2:03:05 was the second fastest ever recorded.


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Wind energy converter inspired by ancient boats

By Amy Pollock and Mohamed Haddad A bladeless wind energy convertor inspired by the sailing boats of Ancient Carthage is set to breeze past traditional turbines in terms of efficiency, according to its Tunisian developers. A Tunisian start-up has taken inspiration from the sailing boats of Ancient Carthage to develop a bladeless, non-rotating wind energy convertor that is more efficient than traditional turbines as well as safer and quieter, according to the developers. Tunis-based Saphon Energy says the aerodynamic bowl-shaped sail on its turbine is capable of capturing twice as much wind energy over the same swept area as a conventional turbine.

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Healthy Eating Trick: Use Tech to Order Food

In a third experiment, researchers asked students to choose between a Twix and a banana for a snack. When students made their choice out loud, 62 percent chose the Twix. In comparison, when the students chose by pushing a button, 35 percent chose the Twix, and when they wrote down their choice, 43 percent chose the Twix.

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Zap! Sparking the Brain Stimulates Creativity

That spark of creativity you crave might begin with a tiny zap. Results showed an in increase in creative thinking after the zaps, demonstrating for the first time that electrical stimulation can enhance creativity, the researchers said. But before you try the DIY route by licking your finger and sticking it in a socket, the researchers warned that they are in the early stages of understanding how electrical stimulation may enhance thought.

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This Look Makes Candidates More Electable

Researchers found that Americans preferred to vote for candidates who appeared more competent, according to the study, published today (April 21) in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Chinese participants, on the other hand, valued candidates who appeared to have better social skills, the researchers found. It turned out that the appearance of competence, or the ability to complete certain goals, was more important to American participants, while the appearance of "social competence," or the ability to navigate social situations and be sensitive to the needs of others, played a greater role in the decision for Chinese participants.

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Volatile Sakurajima Volcano is a Lightning Laboratory

Jeffrey Johnson, associate professor of geosciences at Boise State University, contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Japan is a country of volcanoes, and Sakurajima is one of its most infamous. Its notoriety stems from its poor behavior in 1914, when powerful explosions and pyroclastic flows forced the evacuation of the small volcanic island.


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For Social Work to Work People Need to Know They Belong (Op-Ed)

Belonging is a psychological lever that has broad consequences for people's interests, motivation, health and happiness, suggests Gregory Walton, a psychologist at Stanford University in California who has published a series of studies on the subject. In social work, it's just as important to help vulnerable clients build meaningful relationships and increase their sense of community as it is to deliver direct services, like food and shelter. When social service agencies fill basic needs for the impoverished, unemployed or lonely, progress is usually measured in meals served, people sheltered or jobs placed.

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108-Year-Old Message in a Bottle Is Oldest Ever Found

The oldest message in a bottle spent 108 years, 4 months and 18 days at sea. This year, Guinness World Records recognized it as the oldest message in a bottle ever found. One of more than 1,000 bottles thrown into the North Sea by marine biologist George Parker Bidder, the bottle was part of a research project on the patterns of ocean currents.


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Sci-Tech Visionaries Gather for 'Future Is Here' Festival

This weekend, hundreds of scientists, tech visionaries and industry leaders will flock to the nation's capital for Smithsonian magazine's "Future Is Here" festival, a three-day event that explores research and innovations at the intersection of science and science fiction. "It's an explosion of creativity — it's really a unique program," said Michael Caruso, editor in chief of Smithsonian magazine, which is hosting the event. "The theme of the whole thing is science meets science fiction.

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Dutch fountain runs on sunshine and air

A Dutch sculpture presented on Earth Day spouts water 6 meters high without using conventional water or power sources in what creators hope will inspire new ways to ease resource shortages in drought-prone climates. The Solar Fountain, which took Dutch inventor Ap Verheggen six years to develop, produces around 2 liters (4.2 pints) of water per day using an ordinary dehumidifier, two 250-watt solar panels and a rechargeable battery pack. "We present the sculpture with technology that's off the shelves," Verheggen said.

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Dinosaur Decline Started Long Before Asteroid Impact

The dinosaurs — the so-called tyrants of the Mesozoic era — weren't exactly thriving during their last few million years on Earth, a new study finds. The new analysis of the dinosaur family tree reveals that dinosaurs were disappearing even before the asteroid hit about 65.5 million years ago. Roughly 24 million years before that impact, dinosaur extinction rates passed speciation rates, meaning that the animals were losing the ability to replace extinct species with new ones, the researchers said.


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Faster Than Light! Incredible Illusion Makes Images 'Time Travel'

Taken together, the results finally prove a century-old prediction made by British scientist and polymath Lord Rayleigh. Lord Rayleigh — the brilliant British physicist who discovered the noble gas argon and explained why the sky is blue — also made a bizarre prediction about sound waves nearly a century ago. Rayleigh reasoned that, because the speed of sound is fixed, an object traveling faster than that while spewing out sound would result in sound waves that would seem to travel in the opposite direction of the object and thus seem to be reversed in time orientation.

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Building for Egypt's First Female Pharaoh Discovered

Ancient stone blocks depicting Queen Hatshepsut have been discovered on Egypt's Elephantine Island, providing insights into the early years of her reign, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities announced this week. On several of the blocks, Queen Hatshepsut was represented as a woman, according to the Ministry, suggesting that the blocks and building it came from were erected during the early part of the first female pharaoh's reign, which lasted from 1473 B.C. to 1458 B.C. Later in her reign, the queen was depicted as a male. Mentions of Queen Hatshepsut were erased and monuments bearing her image were defaced after her death, and her female figure was replaced with images of a male king: her deceased husband Thutmose II. It is believed that her co-ruler and stepson/nephew Thutmose III ordered the change.


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AstraZeneca taps gene pioneer Venter for huge drug-hunting sweep

By Ben Hirschler CAMBRIDGE, England (Reuters) - AstraZeneca , working with genome pioneer Craig Venter, is launching a massive gene hunt in the most comprehensive bet yet by a pharmaceutical firm on the potential of genetic variations to unlock routes to new medicines. The initiative, announced on Friday, involves sequencing up to 2 million human genomes - the complete set of genetic code that acts as the software of life - including 500,000 DNA samples collected by AstraZeneca in global clinical trials. Financial details of the 10-year project were not disclosed but Mene Pangalos, head of early drug development, said the company would be investing "hundreds of millions of dollars".


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Robot monk blends science and Buddhism at Chinese temple

By Joseph Campbell BEIJING (Reuters) - A Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing has decided to ditch traditional ways and use technology to attract followers. Longquan temple says it has developed a robot monk that can chant Buddhist mantras, move via voice command, and hold a simple conversation. Named Xian'er, the 60-cm (2-foot) tall robot resembles a cartoon-like novice monk in yellow robes with a shaven head, holding a touch screen on his chest.


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Huge long-necked dinosaurs had big precocious babies

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The babies of a huge, long-necked dinosaur called Rapetosaurus that lived on the island of Madagascar did not just sit in a nest and look cute. Scientists on Thursday announced the discovery of fossils of a baby Rapetosaurus the size of a big dog that apparently starved to death during a drought several weeks after hatching from its soccer-ball-sized egg. Unlike many animal babies, particularly humans, the hatchling Rapetosaurus had adult proportions, meaning it likely did not need significant parental support and was actively foraging for plants rather than waiting for momma to feed it.


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AstraZeneca taps gene pioneer Venter for huge drug-hunting sweep

By Ben Hirschler CAMBRIDGE, England (Reuters) - AstraZeneca, working with genome pioneer Craig Venter, is launching a massive gene hunt in the most comprehensive bet yet by a pharmaceutical firm on the potential of genetic variations to unlock routes to new medicines. The initiative, announced on Friday, involves sequencing up to 2 million human genomes - the complete set of genetic code that acts as the software of life - including 500,000 DNA samples collected by AstraZeneca in global clinical trials. Financial details of the 10-year project were not disclosed but Mene Pangalos, head of early drug development, said the company would be investing "hundreds of millions of dollars".


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South Africa boosts crop forecast accuracy with satellite imagery

By Ed Stoddard PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa's estimates for key crops such as maize have become increasingly accurate thanks to satellite imagery and as farmers' often biased input has been cut out of the picture, a conference was told on Thursday. South Africa's maize crop has been hard hit this season by a scorching drought, bringing into sharp focus the need for accurate forecasts of the harvest's size to guide government policy and markets. From 1997 to 2002, all of the maize forecasts made by the official Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) underestimated the size of the harvest, said Eugene du Preez, director of privately-held SiQ, which provides the committee with satellite and aerial data, which helps it determine the size of the area planted.


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Longer Legs Linked to Cancer Risk

Colorectal cancer has been linked to a number of risk factors, such as inactivity, smoking and eating a lot of red meat. Now, a new study suggests a slightly more surprising risk factor: long legs. Compared with people who had shorter legs, those with longer legs had a 42 percent higher risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to the new study presented here today (April 19) at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting.

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Aspirin Linked to Lower Brain Cancer Risk

Taking aspirin regularly may reduce a person's risk for a certain type of brain cancer, a new study finds. In the study, researchers found that people who regularly took aspirin had a nearly 34 percent lower risk of a type of brain tumor called a glioma, compared with people who didn't take aspirin regularly. This is not the first study to look at the link between over-the-counter pain relievers and brain cancer risk.

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How the Plants Around Your Home May Affect Your Life Span

Women in the study with the most greenness near their homes — whether it was plants, trees and other vegetation — had a 12 percent lower death rate during the study period, compared with women who had the least amount of vegetation near their homes, the researchers found. "It is important to know that trees and plants provide health benefits in our communities, as well as beauty," Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which funded the study, said in a statement. For the study, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston looked at the level of vegetation around the homes of about 110,000 women who were registered nurses living across the United States, and were participating in a large ongoing research effort called the Nurses' Health Study.

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Flexible Camera Wraps Around Objects to Capture 360-Degree Views

A new camera that looks like a flat sheet of paper is so thin and flexible that it could be wrapped around everyday objects, such as desks, cars, streetlights and even clothing, new research shows.


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This 'Smart' Juicer Is Like a Keurig Machine for Juice

A glass of freshly squeezed juice certainly beats the mass-produced kind you'd buy off a store shelf — after all, it's both tasty and nutritious. Now, a company has developed a new high-tech juicer that can deliver fresh, organic juice with the simple push of a button. The new juice system, made by the company Juicero, operates much like a single-cup coffee brewing system, but for juice.


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Google Celebrates National Park Week with Virtual Views

It's National Park Week, but for anyone who is stuck indoors and can't hit the road, Google is making it easy to virtually visit many of America's treasures. Google Street View and Google Cultural Institute have teamed up to showcase U.S. national parks and historic sites on one easy-to-navigate web page. Users can overlook the Merced River in Yosemite National Park in California, view volcanic cinder cones at Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument and take a virtual hike in the Everglades in Florida, among other virtual adventures.


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Some Science Coming from Japan's Ailing Hitomi Satellite

Japan's troubled Hitomi satellite managed to collect some science data before going silent last month, scientists said. Officials haven't heard from the Hitomi X-ray astronomy satellite since late March, about six weeks after the satellite's launch, and the craft appears to have broken into several pieces. "I am aware of the situation right now with Hitomi," Hornschemeier said here Sunday (April 17), during a session at the American Physical Society's April Meeting.


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China to launch 'core module' for space station around 2018

China will launch a "core module" for its first space station some time around 2018, a senior official told the state-run Xinhua news agency on Thursday, part of the country's plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022. Advancing China's space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power. The "core module" will be called the "Tianhe-1", the Chinese word for galaxy or Milky Way, Wang Zhongyang, spokesman for the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, told Xinhua.

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Monkey mariners made monumental migration 21 million years ago

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Monkeys resembling today's capuchins accomplished the astonishing feat of crossing at least 100 miles (160 km) of open ocean 21 million years ago to get from South America to North America eons before the two continents joined together. Scientists said on Wednesday they reached that conclusion based on the discovery of seven little teeth during excavations involving the Panama Canal's expansion, showing monkeys had reached the North American continent far earlier than previously known. South America at the time was secluded from other continents, with a strange array of mammals evolving in what 20th century American paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson called "splendid isolation." How Panamacebus performed the feat is a bit mysterious.


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