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Showing posts from May, 2016

Hurricane 2016 Forecast: A 'Near-Normal' 10 to 16 Storms

Hurricane season officially kicks off tomorrow (June 1), and forecasters expect the Atlantic Ocean will spawn a near-average number of hurricanes in 2016. "Near-normal may sound relaxed and encouraging, but we could be in for more activity than we've seen in recent years," warned Kathryn Sullivan, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Officials with NOAA issued the forecast at a news conference Friday (May 27) in Suitland, Maryland.


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Highest-Altitude Prehistoric Rock Art Revealed

New digital scans reveal the highest-elevation prehistoric rock paintings ever discovered, in living color. The scans were made in the Abri Faravel, a small rock overhang in the southern French Alps. In 2010, researchers found paintings decorating the ceiling of the rock shelter, consisting of parallel lines as well as what look like two animals facing each other.


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In Hot Water: Thousands of Public Pools Fail Health Inspections

As temperatures climb this summer, public pools and water parks certainly look like a refreshing way to beat the heat. Before you dive in, you should probably check with the facility about its inspection status, health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn. According to a study published online May 20 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, thousands of venues in the U.S. where people swim or wade in treated water — public pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds and parks — had to be closed in 2013 due to health and safety violations.

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The Science of Parenting: Who's the Best Judge of Moms and Dads?

For psychologists studying family dynamics and child development, the new finding that disagreements can be meaningful is important, said study researcher Thomas Schofield, a psychologist at Iowa State University. In any relationship, people don't always see eye-to-eye, Schofield told Live Science. "We were assuming that only the information that shows up across every single [observer] is to be trusted, but that's not really how we behave in real life," Schofield said.

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Why Is Mount Everest So Deadly?

In April, climbing season for Mount Everest opened after two years of disasters shuttered the mountain earlier than usual. The other three deaths were climbers, all suspected of having altitude sickness. So what makes Mount Everest such a dangerous place?


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Later, Gator: 'Monster' Nile Crocodiles May Be Invading Florida

Florida's native alligators and crocodiles could be facing some new competition — from a bigger and meaner member of their own crocodilian family. Nile crocodiles — American crocodiles' larger, more aggressive cousins from the African continent — have been identified in the wild in southern Florida for the first time, according to a new study. The scientists caught three young crocodiles — one of which was captured on the porch of a Miami home — and, through genetic analysis of tissue samples, confirmed that they were invasive Nile crocodiles, connecting them to crocodile populations in South Africa.

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Short-Snouted Sea Monsters Evolved Rapidly After Wipeout

The discovery of a short-snouted, oceangoing reptile with a whip-like tail suggests that some marine reptiles evolved quickly (geologically speaking) after a mass extinction 250 million years ago, a new study finds. The finding turns an old theory on its head, showing that early marine reptiles didn't evolve slowly after the end-Permian extinction. The extinction wiped out about 96 percent of all marine species, largely due to climate change, volcanic eruptions and rising sea levels, the researchers said.


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Extreme weather increasing level of toxins in food, scientists warn

By Kagondu Njagi NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As they struggle to deal with more extreme weather, a range of food crops are generating more of chemical compounds that can cause health problems for people and livestock who eat them, scientists have warned. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that crops such as wheat and maize are generating more potential toxins as a reaction to protect themselves from extreme weather.


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Extreme weather increasing level of toxins in food, scientists warn

By Kagondu Njagi NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As they struggle to deal with more extreme weather, a range of food crops are generating more of chemical compounds that can cause health problems for people and livestock who eat them, scientists have warned. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that crops such as wheat and maize are generating more potential toxins as a reaction to protect themselves from extreme weather.


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Antarctic seas defy global warming thanks to chill from the deep

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - A persistent chill in the ocean off Antarctica that defies the global warming blamed for melting Arctic ice at the other end of the planet is caused by cold waters welling up from the depths after hundreds of years, scientists said on Monday. The Southern Ocean off Antarctica may be among the last places on Earth to feel the impact of man-made climate change, with a lag of centuries to affect waters emerging from up to 5,000 meters (16,000 ft) deep, the U.S. study said. Many people who doubt mainstream scientific findings that human use of fossil fuels is warming the planet often point to the paradox of expanding winter sea ice off Antarctica in recent decades and a rapid shrinking of ice in the Arctic.


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Antarctic seas defy global warming thanks to chill from the deep

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - A persistent chill in the ocean off Antarctica that defies the global warming blamed for melting Arctic ice at the other end of the planet is caused by cold waters welling up from the depths after hundreds of years, scientists said on Monday. The Southern Ocean off Antarctica may be among the last places on Earth to feel the impact of man-made climate change, with a lag of centuries to affect waters emerging from up to 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) deep, the U.S. study said. Many people who doubt mainstream scientific findings that human use of fossil fuels is warming the planet often point to the paradox of expanding winter sea ice off Antarctica in recent decades and a rapid shrinking of ice in the Arctic.


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As much as 35 percent of northern and central Great Barrier Reef dead or dying - scientists

By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Mass bleaching has destroyed as much as 35 percent of the coral on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, Australian scientists said on Monday, a major blow to the World Heritage Site that attracts about A$5 billion ($3.59 billion) in tourism each year. Australian scientists said in March just seven percent of the entire Great Barrier Reef had avoided any damage as a result of bleaching, and they held grave fears particularly for coral on the northern reef. After further aerial surveys and dives to access the damage across 84 reefs in the region, Australian scientists said the impact of the bleaching is more severe than they had expected.


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As much as 35 percent of northern and central Great Barrier Reef dead or dying: scientists

By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Mass bleaching has destroyed as much as 35 percent of the coral on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, Australian scientists said on Monday, a major blow to the World Heritage Site that attracts about A$5 billion ($3.59 billion) in tourism each year. Australian scientists said in March just seven percent of the entire Great Barrier Reef had avoided any damage as a result of bleaching, and they held grave fears particularly for coral on the northern reef. After further aerial surveys and dives to access the damage across 84 reefs in the region, Australian scientists said the impact of the bleaching is more severe than they had expected.


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New incentives needed to develop antibiotics to fight superbugs

By Bill Berkrot NEW YORK (Reuters) - Drugmakers are renewing efforts to develop medicines to fight emerging antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but creating new classes of drugs on the scale needed is unlikely to happen without new financial incentives to make the effort worth the investment, companies and industry experts said. "The return on investment based on the current commercial model is not really commensurate with the amount of effort you have to put into it," said David Payne, who heads GlaxoSmithKline PLC's antibiotics drug group. Other pharmaceutical companies expressed a similar sentiment.


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Prototype space station module begins inflating on NASA's second try

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Saturday slowly inflated an experimental fabric module that may provide a less expensive and safer option for housing crews during long stays in space, a NASA TV broadcast showed. An initial attempt to unfurl the module on Thursday failed, most likely because of friction within the module's layers of fabric, foam and reinforced outer covering, NASA said. “It’s a learning process,” said NASA mission commentator Dan Huot.


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Neanderthals Likely Built These 176,000-Year-Old Underground Ring Structures

About 40,000 years before the appearance of modern man in Europe, Neanderthals in southwestern France were venturing deep into the earth, building some of the earliest complex structures and using fire. That's according to new research that more precisely dated bizarre cave structures built from stalagmites, or mineral formations that grow upward from the floor of a cave. Scientists discovered about 400 stalagmites and stalagmite sections that were collected and stacked into nearly circular formations about 1,100 feet (336 meters) from the entrance of Bruniquel Cave, which was discovered in 1990.


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Scientists disagree over Zika risk at Brazil's Olympics

One day after a top U.S. health official declared there was no public health reason to cancel or delay this summer's Olympics in Brazil, more than 150 scientists on Friday called for just that, saying the risk of infection from the Zika virus is too high. The scientists, many of them bioethicists, who signed an open letter published online to Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. The letter urged that the Games, due to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, be moved to another location or delayed.


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Scientists disagree over Zika risk at Brazil's Olympics

(Adds comment from a letter author, details) LONDON, May 27 (Reuters) - One day after a top U.S. health official declared there was no public health reason to cancel or delay this summer's Olympics in Brazil, more than 150 scientists on Friday called for just that, saying the risk of infection from the Zika virus is too high. The scientists, many of them bioethicists, who signed an open letter published online to Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. The letter urged that the Games, due to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, be moved to another location or delayed.

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NASA to make second attempt at inflating space station test module

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will try again on Saturday to inflate a novel experimental habitat after the fabric module failed to unfurl as planned earlier this week, NASA officials said on Friday. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, was unpacked 10 months later than expected due to launch delays, manufacturer Bigelow Aerospace told reporters on a conference call. The impact was likely most serious on the outer layers, said Lisa Kauke, BEAM deputy program manager at Bigelow.


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Snorkeling Paradise Inside a Volcano Named Best US Beach

Hanauma Bay's new title represents the third in a streak of winners from the island of Oahu in the annual "Best Beaches" rankings, which are put together annually by Stephen Leatherman, a coastal researcher at Florida International University also known as "Dr. Beach." Leatherman ranks the top 10 public beaches around the United States based on factors ranging from sand softness and wind speeds to wave height and pollution. "Frankly, the United States is blessed with hundreds of wonderful beaches," Leatherman told Live Science.


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Rosetta spacecraft finds key building blocks for life in a comet

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Scientists for the first time have directly detected key organic compounds in a comet, bolstering the notion that these celestial objects delivered such chemical building blocks for life long ago to Earth and throughout the solar system. The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft made several detections of the amino acid glycine, used by living organisms to make proteins, in the cloud of gas and dust surrounding Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, scientists said on Friday. Glycine previously was indirectly detected in samples returned to Earth in 2006 from another comet, Wild 2.

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Can Stomach Botox Injections Help People Lose Weight?

Doctors are considering a new use for Botox: The drug may help obese people lose weight, according to early research. In addition, researchers in earlier studies assumed that Botox, which relaxes muscles, would help people lose weight because it would slow down the rate that the stomach empties itself.

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Vaping Could Make Medical Pot Healthier

A new type of smoking called "cannavaping" — using e-cigarettes for vaping cannabis — may help people use marijuana for medical reasons, according to a small, early study. Smoking conventional marijuana cigarettes may lead a person to inhale high amounts of the toxic contaminants that are released when marijuana is burned, the researchers said. In contrast, cannavaping might provide a way to avoid inhaling high levels of these contaminants, the researchers said.

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Dead or Alive, Schrödinger's Cat Can Be in 2 Boxes at Once

Bizarrely behaving light particles show that the famous Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, meant to reveal the strange nature of subatomic particles, can get even weirder than physicists thought. "We are showing an analogy to Schrödinger's cat that is made out of an electromagnetic field that is confined in two cavities," said study lead author Chen Wang, a physicist at Yale University. The findings could have implications for cracking unsolvable mathematicalproblems using quantum computing, which relies on the ability of subatomic particles to be in multiple states at once, Wang said.


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Radar images reveal Mars is coming out of an ice age

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - An analysis of radar images that peered inside the polar ice caps of Mars shows that Earth's neighbor is coming out of an ice age that is part of an ongoing cycle of climate change, scientists said on Thursday. The Martian ice began its retreat about 370,000 years ago, marking the end of the last ice age, according to the research published in the journal Science. Using images taken by satellites orbiting Mars, the researchers determined that about 20,872 cubic miles (87,000 cubic km) of ice has accumulated at its poles since the end of the ice age, mostly in the northern polar cap.


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Brightest laser blows up water in cinematic and scientific first

Scientists have recorded the first ever microscopic movies of water being vaporized by the world's brightest X-ray laser. As each individual X-ray pulse hit the water, a single image was recorded, timed from five billionths of a second to one ten-thousandth of a second after the pulse.

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Why Some Flies Have Mega Sperm

Tiny fruit flies have record-breaking sperm cells. Researchers have long known that the peculiarities of the female fruit fly's reproductive tract are responsible for these enormous sperm, which take a huge amount of energy to produce. Female fruit flies have a sperm-storage organ in which they hold sperm from multiple matings.


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School-Bus-Size Giant Squid May Be Lurking Deep in the Sea

Steeped in mystery, the elusive, deep-sea-dwelling giant squid, with eyes the size of basketballs, may be larger than it has gotten credit for. Specimens recognizable as giant squid (Architeuthis dux) have been found washed up onshore since at least 1639. Ever since giant squid were discovered, there has been considerable speculation as to how large they can get.


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Scientists: Underground stone rings made by Neanderthals

BERLIN (AP) — Two mysterious stone rings found deep inside a French cave were probably built by Neanderthals about 176,500 years ago, proving that the ancient cousins of humans were capable of more complex behavior than previously thought, scientists say.


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Expandable space habitat fails to inflate in NASA's first test

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA called off an attempt to inflate an experimental habitat attached to the International Space Station after the fabric module failed to expand as planned on Thursday. Station crew member Jeff Williams spent more than two hours opening a valve to allow spurts of air to inflate the 3,100-pound (1,400 kg) module, the first expandable habitat to be tested with astronauts in space. “We’ll hope for better luck tomorrow,” astronaut Jessica Meir radioed to Williams from Mission Control in Houston.


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Gluten-Free Diets Are Not Necessarily Healthier, Doctors Warn

Some kids are following a gluten-free diet even though they do not have a medical condition that requires avoiding gluten, and this is worrying some doctors. In fact, they can be higher in calories, and may not be enriched with vitamins and minerals that are important for children, said study co-author Dr. Eyad Almallouhi, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Many people think that a gluten-free diet is healthier than the usual diet, which is not always true," said Almallouhi, who presented the findings here Sunday (May 22) at Digestive Disease Week, a scientific meeting focused on digestive diseases.

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These 7 Foods Cause the Most Pet Deaths

In a new review of studies, two animal health researchers in Italy drew up a list of the foods that are the most common culprits in pet poisonings worldwide. "Several foods that are perfectly suitable for human consumption can be toxic to dogs and cats," the researchers wrote in their review, published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Sometimes, owners give these harmful foods to their dogs and cats, but a lot of times, pets accidentally ingest these foods, which happen to be commonplace in homes.

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Woman Sprouts Thousands of Tiny Moles, and Doctors Aren't Sure Why

Indeed, the sheer number of moles was "unprecedented," said Dr. Hensin Tsao, a dermatologist who treated the woman and the senior author of the case report. Although an explosion of moles — called eruptive nevi — is uncommon, it's not unheard of, Tsao told Live Science.

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Missing for 72 Years: WWII Aircraft Finally Located in Pacific

An American, World War II-era aircraft that had been missing in action (MIA) since July 1944 was recently located in the waters surrounding the Pacific Island nation of Palau. The TBM-1C Avenger is one of several dozen U.S. aircraft scattered in the coral reefs or concealed within dense mangrove forests along Palau's island chain. This latest find adds to the growing list of wrecks discovered by Project Recover, an effort dedicated to the ongoing search for MIA aircraft and associated Americans since World War II.


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Blazing-Fast Hypersonic Jet on Track for 2018 Launch

A hypersonic jet engine that could be used to fly people from Sydney to London in just 2 hours is on track to make its first flight in 2018, according to the Australian scientists and engineers working on the project. Last week, the researchers conducted an experimental rocket launch at the Woomera Test Range, located about 310 miles (500 kilometers) northwest of Adelaide, in the South Australian outback. A test vehicle, designed to gather data about hypersonic flight in the upper atmosphere, launched from Woomera to an altitude of 173 miles (278 km) and reached its target speed of Mach 7.5 — seven and a half times the speed of sound, or about 5,700 mph (9,200 km/h).


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From hardy pigs to super-crops, gene editing poses new EU dilemma

It poses a thorny problem for European policymakers wary of new molecular manipulation in agriculture after a quarter century of conflict over genetically modified food. In a research lab in Norwich, 100 miles northeast of London, Wendy Harwood is making exact DNA tweaks in barley plants to produce better-germinating grain, with higher yield and quality. "We've never been able to go in and make such a precise change as we can now with gene editing," said the John Innes Centre scientist.


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Biotech Regeneron replaces Intel as sponsor of Science Talent Search

By Ransdell Pierson NEW YORK (Reuters) - Biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc on Thursday became the title sponsor of the most prestigious U.S. science competition for high school students, taking the baton from chipmaker Intel Corp. Regeneron pledged $100 million to support the Science Talent Search and related programs through 2026, and doubled awards for the top 300 scientists and their schools, to $2,000 each. Regeneron's two top executives competed in the annual event during the 1970s and went on to build one of the world's biggest biotech companies, with cutting-edge drugs for fighting macular degeneration, cancer and cholesterol. The fast-growing biotech company will take over as named sponsor from Intel, whose chips were helping build the personal computer industry in 1998 when it took over as sponsor from Westinghouse.

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Enigmatic French cave structures show off Neanderthal skills

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mysterious ring-shaped structures fashioned about 176,000 years ago by Neanderthals using broken stalagmites deep inside a cave in southwestern France indicate that our closest extinct relatives were more adept than previously known. Scientists on Wednesday described six rock structures discovered about 1,100 feet (336 meters) inside Bruniquel Cave in France's Aveyron region. The scientists attributed the work to Neanderthals, who thrived in Europe at the time but vanished roughly 40,000 years ago, after our species Homo sapiens, which first appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago, trekked into Europe.


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Swallow This Robot: Foldable Droid Could Mend Stomachs

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has proposed a new, minimally invasive way of using biocompatible and biodegradable miniature robots to carry out tasks inside the human body. The researchers have already demonstrated origami-inspired robots capable of swimming, climbing and carrying a load twice their weight, but creating an ingestible device that can operate inside a stomach presented a whole new set of challenges, said Shuhei Miyashita, who was part of the MIT team that developed the robot but is now a lecturer of intelligent robotics at the University of York in the United Kingdom. "The toughest problem we had to solve was that of getting the robot to work in such an unpredictable environment," Miyashita told Live Science.


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Physicist Kip Thorne Talks Black Holes at the Genius Gala Awards

Four innovators received awards at the fifth annual Genius Gala at Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, turning Friday night here into a geekfest. The brilliant recipients included paleontologist Jack Horner, astrophysicist Kip Thorne, architect Frank Gehry and social psychologist Ellen Langer from Harvard University. During his acceptance speech, Thorne said he felt "like a fraud" and that he's "not a genius." Thorne honored the colleagues he worked with while discovering gravitational waves this past September.


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Light Behaving Badly: Strange Beams Reveal Hitch in Quantum Mechanics

A hidden property of corkscrew, spiraled beams of light could put a hitch in quantum mechanics. The photons, or light particles, inside these light-based Möbius strips spin with a momentum previously thought to be impossible. The findings could shake up some of the assumptions in quantum mechanics, the rules that govern the menagerie of tiny subatomic particles.

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Confirmed: The Soil Under Your Feet Is Teeming with Life

That's the message of a new atlas describing the biodiversity of soil, to be released tomorrow (May 25) at the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. Soil even has its own microbiome containing at least a million bacterial species. Only about a quarter of worm species, 6 percent of fungi and less than 2 percent of soil bacteria have been studied and categorized.


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How Short Bursts of Activity Can Get You Fit

If you think you don't have time to exercise, there's good news: Short bouts of activity — as brief as a few minutes each — may still have health benefits, as long as they add up to 30 minutes a day total, recent research suggests. Traditionally, experts have recommended that people exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time, at a moderate pace. Since people have trouble remembering very short activities, it was hard to study whether smaller amounts of exercise could improve your health, said Brad Cardinal, a kinesiology professor at Oregon State University.

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Income Inequality: Is There a Grooming Gap?

The researchers found that overall, men and women who were considered more attractive earned more money than their less-attractive counterparts, according to the study, published online last month in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. For women, those who were well-groomed women actually had higher incomes than poorly groomed women, regardless of their "natural" level of attractiveness, the researchers found.

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'Poop Transplant' Changes Play Out Over Several Months, Study Finds

Patients who undergo a "poop transplant" to treat severe diarrhea often see their symptoms get better within days, but their gut bacteria continue to undergo dramatic changes for at least three months afterward, a new study finds. Researchers analyzed the gut bacteria of eight patients who had Clostridium difficile, a difficult-to-treat bacterial infection that can be life-threatening. After several earlier treatments for their infection didn't work, all of the patients underwent a procedure called fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), in which fecal matter from a healthy donor is delivered into a patient's colon, in order to restore a better balance of bacteria within the gut.

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Why Processed Foods May Promote Gut Inflammation

Certain food additives may interfere with your gut bacteria, causing changes that boost inflammation in the intestines and potentially promote the development of some chronic diseases, a new study suggests. In the study, researchers looked at ingredients called emulsifiers, which are added to many processed foods, including ice cream and peanut butter, to improve those foods' texture and extend their shelf life. The scientists added two emulsifiers called carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) and polysorbate-80 (P80), to a simulation of normal gut contents.

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5,000-Year-Old Chinese Beer Recipe Had Secret Ingredient

Barley might have been the "secret ingredient" in a 5,000-year-old beer recipe that has been reconstructed from residues on prehistoric pots from China, according to new archaeological research. Scientists conducted tests on ancient pottery jars and funnels found at the Mijiaya archaeological site in China's Shaanxi province.


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Ugliest to Most Rock 'n' Roll: Top Newfound Species Named

With such a large number of species discovered each year, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has put together a list of the "Top 10 New Species," celebrating species named in the previous year, since 2008. In the absence of a global species registry, the annual list is a reflection the Earth’s diverse species population, said Quentin Wheeler, ESF president and founder of the school's International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE). "We want to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis," Wheeler told Live Science.


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Insoles That Buzz Your Feet Could Improve Balance

Insoles that electrically stimulate the feet with random vibrations that are too gentle to feel can affect a person's stride, and may boost stability, offering a potential new way to decrease the risk of falls and injury from balance loss, a new study finds. Study participants undergoing strenuous activity while wearing such insoles adjusted their strides in a way that typically improves balance, the research found. The insoles work using a process called "stochastic resonance" (SR), a method for amplifying a weak signal by adding "white noise" across a spectrum of frequencies.


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Shark Bay Bloodbath: 70 Sharks Devour a Humpback Whale

On May 20, tourists on an Australian cruise witnessed an incredible but gruesome sight: approximately 70 tiger sharks tearing apart the carcass of a humpback whale in Shark Bay. The tour company, Eco Abrolhos, encountered the bloody scene during the fourth day of a 14-day cruise, as the group traveled near Steep Point, Dirk Hartog Island, according to a post on the company's Facebook page.


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Cuttlefish, Squid and Relatives Thrive in Warming Oceans

Warming oceans are bad news for a number of marine species, but cephalopods — the many-armed mollusk group that includes octopus, squid and cuttlefish — are doing just fine. Scientists gathered data from cephalopod fisheries around the world, examining how catch rates — the number of cephalopods captured or sampled at one time — changed for 35 species between 1953 and 2013. The researchers found steady increases in diverse cephalopod populations living in a variety of ocean depths and environments, suggesting that changing ocean conditions may actually be beneficial to cephalopods worldwide.


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Yes, It Is Rocket Science: Middle School Team Wins Rocket Competition

A team of middle-school students from Washington state will represent the United States at an international rocketry contest in Europe, after taking home the top prize at the 2016 Team America Rocketry Challenge National Finals on May 16. Hailing from Bellevue, Washington, the Space Potatoes rocketry team from Odle Middle School beat out 789 other groups of students from all over the United States. Students Mikaela Ikeda, Larry Jing, Karl Deerkop, Srivatshan Sakthinarayanan and Stephanie Han will share more than $20,000 in scholarships and funds for their school.


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Mysterious Mass Graves Hold Prisoners of Bloody 17th-Century Battle

Three years ago, archaeologists at Durham University began excavating a site on campus for a proposed addition to the school's library, but work was unexpectedly halted when the researchers uncovered remnants of two mass graves. The estimated 1,700 skeletons, found underground at the southern tip of Durham University's Palace Green Library, were likely Scottish soldiers who had been taken prisoner after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, the archaeologists said. The prisoners were captured by Oliver Cromwell, the controversial English leader who waged a successful military campaign against the Royalists in a 17th-century civil war, toppling the monarchy and culminating in the execution of King Charles I in 1649.


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VR at Cannes: How Will Virtual Reality Change Film?

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival, which began May 11 and runs until May 22 in Cannes, France, featured a festival first: screenings of virtual reality (VR) short films and presentations in a pavilion dedicated exclusively to VR. Famed director Steven Spielberg said he's skeptical about VR's effectiveness as a storytelling tool, and questioned whether it should be seriously considered as a means for developing and presenting visual narratives.


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A New Bot-ticelli? Robot Painters Show Off Works at Competition

Participants in the first annual Robot Art competition showed just how far our silicon counterparts have come in creating great artwork. "The results of this competition show a significant step in the advancement of robotics and artificial intelligence to create beauty. The Robot Art competition drew 70 different competitors, and each of their paintings had a unique look and style.


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Calling All Kids! President Obama Wants Your Science and Tech Ideas

Inspired by the recommendation of a 9-year-old inventor during the White House Science Fair in April, President Barack Obama has put out a call to kids across the United States to share their thoughts on science, technology and innovation. Both in and out of classrooms, kids know firsthand how to inspire students in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. "Whether you care about tackling climate change, finding a cure to cancer, using technology to help make people's lives better or getting a human to Mars, we can't wait to get your input!" John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote in a White House blog post yesterday (May 19) to announce the initiative.

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The Science of Intuition: How to Measure 'Hunches' and 'Gut Feelings'

Whether you call it a "gut feeling," an "inner voice" or a "sixth sense," intuition can play a real part in people's decision making, a new study suggests. For the first time, researchers devised a technique to measure intuition. After using this method, they found evidence that people can use their intuition to make faster, more accurate and more confident decisions, according to the findings, published online in April in the journal Psychological Science.

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Slimy hagfish inspire 'super hydrogels'

By Matthew Stock The unusual secretions of the Atlantic hagfish are being studied by scientists who want to harness the viscous and elastic properties of the creature's slime for human use.     When attacked or threatened by a predator the marine creature defends itself by secreting a milky-white substance from its glands. This instantly reacts with the seawater around it to form a mass of slime that clogs the mouth and gills of the would-be attacker.     But this slime has special properties that could benefit mankind, according to scientists from ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal institute of Technology).     Hagfish slime is an extremely diluted hydrogel, consisting of over 99.99 percent water.

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Strange Microbe Lacks Cell's 'Powerhouse'

A microbe that lives in the guts of chinchilla is missing mitochondria, the energy-generating cell organelle once thought crucial to the function of eukaryotes. Eukaryotes are cells with membrane-bound organelles, including a nucleus, a feature that makes them different from prokaryotes (which include bacteria and archaea). One of these membrane-bound organelles is the mitochondria.


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Swirling, Spinning Clouds Seen from Space

Whimsical cloud vortices dot the sky in a new satellite image of an island volcano. The island is in the Indian Ocean and belongs to Australia. At 9,006 feet (2,745 meters), Mawson Peak is the island's highest point, according to NASA's Earth Observatory, which released the image May 8.


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Ancient 'Mad Libs' Papyri Contain Evil Spells of Sex and Subjugation

Ancient, magical spells of love, subjugation and sex: It may sound like a "Game of Thrones" episode, but these evildoings are also found on two recently deciphered papyri from Egypt dating to around 1,700 years ago. One spell invokes the gods to "burn the heart" of a woman until she loves the spell caster, said Franco Maltomini of the University of Udine in Italy, who translated the two spells. The spells are written in Greek, a language widely used in Egypt at the time.


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Space Shuttle External Tank Completes Road Trip to CA Science Center

LOS ANGELES — The space shuttle Endeavour now has its external tank. The massive orange-brown fuel tank, NASA's last remaining example of its type, built for flight but never used, arrived at the California Science Centeron Saturday evening (May 21), completing a nearly one-day road trip through the streets of Los Angeles. The external tank, together with the orbiter Endeavour — which was delivered to the Science Center in a similar, but longer parade in October 2012 — and a pair of solid rocket boosters still to come, will form the world's only vertical display of a fully-authentic space shuttle launch vehicle.


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Solar plane lands in Dayton, Ohio on latest leg of round-the-world flight

An experimental airplane powered solely by energy from the sun landed in Ohio on Saturday night on the latest leg of its historic bid by pilots and developers to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel. "People told the Wright Brothers & us what we wanted to achieve was impossible," said Bertrand Piccard after landing. "They were wrong!" The locale was of special significance to the pilots, as the home base to aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright.


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'ET Comes Home' for NASA fuel tank's ride to LA site

A giant NASA fuel tank completed its final journey on Saturday, with crowds cheering on its parade along Los Angeles streets to a science center where it will go on display with the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour. The orange tank, weighing 65,000 lb (29,500 kg) and 154 feet (47 meters) in length, is the only one of its kind. The California Science Center called the parade of the fuel tank, which stands about three stories tall when towed on its side by a truck, "ET Comes Home," in a play on the "external tank" name and the 1982 movie "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." The tank, ET-94, arrived at the center after a 16-mile (26-km) journey, the center said on Twitter.


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'ET Comes Home' for NASA fuel tank in street ride to LA museum

A giant orange NASA fuel tank began its final journey on Saturday, along city streets to a Los Angeles science center where it will be displayed with the space shuttle Endeavour. The California Science Center has called the mission "ET Comes Home," in a play on the "external tank" name and the 1982 movie "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." The transport is a sequel of sorts to the 2012 mission to tow Endeavour from the Los Angeles airport to the science center, a project that captivated crowds of onlookers.


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Stolen Christopher Columbus Letter Returned to Italy

He sailed the ocean blue in 1492, and on his journey home in 1493, Christopher Columbus wrote of his voyage in a letter to his patrons, the royal husband-and-wife team Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Now, a stolen copy of the letter that had been donated to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., was returned to its rightful owner, the Italian government, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on May 18. "Preserving records and chronicles of our past, like this letter, is of utmost importance not only to the special agents who investigate these crimes, but to the global community at large," Dan Ragsdale, deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in a statement.


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Stranded, Rarely Seen Beaked Whale Has Strange Fang

The whale, identified as a Hector's beaked whale (Mesoplodon hectori), was found south of Adelaide on Waitpinga beach in February. For the past 25 years, the South Australian Museum has done necropsies (an animal autopsy) on "as many [stranded] whales as it can from its shores," but the museum's researchers didn't expect to find anything unusual when they examined this particular whale — a female juvenile, said Catherine Kemper, a senior research scientist in mammals at the South Australian Museum. Instead, the researchers found an "intriguing" fang, which has never been seen before in a Hector's beaked whale, Kemper told Live Science in an email.


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Developers look to widen repertoire of Pepper, Japan's laughing robot

Japanese developers of a robot are asking the public to come up with ideas for what their waist-high humanoid can do and they are offering a software development kit for programmers to get creative. The fast-selling robot, known as Pepper, can already laugh and serve coffee and is being used as a waiter, salesman and customer service representative in about 500 companies in Japan, including Nestle, Mizuho Bank and Nissan. Now its creators, SoftBank Corp, have started offering a kit, Pepper SDK for Android Studio, that will allow programmers to develop new tasks.


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Skywatchers can see close, bright Mars looming large this month

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in a decade this month, providing sky-watchers with a celestial show from dusk to dawn starting this week, NASA said on Thursday. On Thursday, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a photograph of Mars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope as the planet neared Earth last week. On May 30, Mars and Earth will come than they have been in a decade, NASA said.


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Dinosaur duo sported exotic spikes and horns

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two newly discovered dinosaurs unearthed in the western U.S. states of Montana and Utah are illustrating the exotic appearance some of these beasts developed, with fanciful horns and spikes, toward the end of their reign on Earth. Scientists on Wednesday announced the discovery of fossils of two species that provide new insights into an important group of truck-sized, four-legged, plant-munching, horned dinosaurs that roamed the landscape late in the Cretaceous Period. Both dinosaurs were members of a group called ceratopsians that included the well-known Triceratops, typically possessing parrot-like beaks to crop low-growing herbs and shrubs, a bony neck shield, or frill, and forward-pointing facial horns.


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Dinosaur with 'Bent Sword' Head Spikes Unearthed in Utah

Each curved head spike measured about 4 feet (1.2 meters) long, and though their function isn't clear, they may have been used to attract mates, said study lead author Eric Lund, a graduate student of biological sciences at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. The "horny" finding fills in an important gap in the fossil record of southern Laramidia, an area that included Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico during the Late Cretaceous period, Lund said. Researchers first unearthed pieces of the dinosaur's skull in 2006, and returned to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in southern Utah, for a total of three field seasons to look for more of the remains.


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