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Showing posts from August, 2016

World's 1st Plague Pandemic Bacteria Gets New Genetic Analysis

With a single tooth from an ancient human skeleton found in Germany, scientists have now created the most complete genetic picture yet of the bacteria that caused the world's first plague pandemic. The new genetic analysis reveals that three of the genes of this bacteria likely contributed more to the spread of the plague than previously thought. In addition, the researchers found mutations that were unique to the strain of Yersinia pestis that caused the Justinianic Plague.


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New Drug Clears Abnormal Brain Proteins Tied to Alzheimer's

In people with Alzheimer's disease, a new investigational drug can dramatically reduce the amount of amyloid beta plaque, the tangled clumps of proteins that form in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, according to a new early study of the drug. "We believe that's a hint of efficacy," study co-author Dr. Alfred Sandrock, a neurologist and an executive vice president at Biogen, said during a news briefing. "We believe that needs to be confirmed with further studies." Biogen is the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company that funded the trial and applied to patent the drug.


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Parents' Mental Health Linked to Violence in Kids

Kids who have a parent who has been diagnosed with certain psychiatric disorders may be at increased risk for attempting suicide or committing a violent offense, a new study of people in Denmark suggests. The parents in the study had a wide spectrum of psychiatric problems, ranging from anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression to schizophrenia, substance abuse and suicide attempts. Of all the psychiatric conditions among the parents in the study, the strongest associations were seen in mothers and fathers who had a history of abusing marijuana, antisocial personality disorder or a prior attempted suicide.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome May Leave a 'Chemical Signature' in the Blood

People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) can wait years before being diagnosed with the condition, and there is no single test for it. If this chemical signature is confirmed by future studies, it may help with the diagnosis of CFS, the researchers said. What's more, further study of these molecules may aid in future treatments.

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3.7-Billion-Year-Old Rock May Hold Earth's Oldest Fossils

Tiny ripples of sediment on ancient seafloor, captured inside a 3.7-billion-year-old rock in Greenland, may be the oldest fossils of living organisms ever found on Earth, according to a new study. The research, led by Allen Nutman, head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong in Australia, described the discovery of what look like tiny waves, 0.4 to 1.5 inches (1 to 4 centimeters) high, frozen in a cross section of the surface of an outcrop of rock in the Isua Greenstone Belt in southwestern Greenland, a formation made up of what geologists regard as the oldest rocks on the Earth's surface. The researchers said the ripples are the fossilized remains of cone-shaped stromatolites, layered mounds of sediment and carbonates that build up around colonies of microbes that grow on the floor of shallow seas or lakes.


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'Alien' Signal Had Earthly Cause, Russian Scientists Say

Sorry, ET fans: The mysterious signal detected by a Russian radio telescope last year probably had an Earthly cause. This past weekend, reports emerged that, in May 2015, a team of astronomers using Russia's huge RATAN-600 telescope had spotted an intriguing radio signal coming from the vicinity of the star HD 164595, which lies about 94 light-years from Earth. The signal was consistent with something an alien civilization might produce, astronomers said — but they stressed that there was probably a more prosaic explanation.


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Scientists find 3.7 billion-year-old fossil, oldest yet

Scientists have found what they think is the oldest fossil on Earth, a remnant of life from 3.7 billion years ago when Earth's skies were orange and its oceans green.


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Oldest fossils found in Greenland, from time Earth was like Mars

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - The earliest fossil evidence of life on Earth has been found in rocks 3.7 billion years old in Greenland, raising chances of life on Mars aeons ago when both planets were similarly desolate, scientists said on Wednesday. The experts found tiny humps, between one and 4 cm (0.4 and 1.6 inches) tall, in rocks at Isua in south-west Greenland that they said were fossilized groups of microbes similar to ones now found in seas from Bermuda to Australia.

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Adorable American Pika Is Disappearing Due to Climate Change

The American pika, a pint-size rabbit relative, is feeling the heat: Hotter summers induced by climate change are threatening these cute creatures' habitats throughout the western United States. A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that whole populations of the tiny mammal are disappearing due to climate change. After studying the cute critters from 2012 to 2015, the USGS found that the pikas' range was shrinking in southern Utah, northeastern California and the Great Basin, the latter of which covers most of Nevada as well as parts of Utah, Oregon, Idaho and California.


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Salute! Stunning Microphotos Capture Boozy Beauty in Italian Cocktails

The images are created (without Photoshop) by Italian geologist Bernardo Cesare, who has long used light microscopes and polarizing filters to study the mineral structures in rocks. Now, Cesare has turned to photographing alcoholic drinks, capturing the sugars that crystalize as drops of the drink dry. Live Science talked with Cesare about snapping micro-photos of his mother-in-law's homemade limoncello and why rocks will always be his favorite subject.


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Egyptian Mummy's Face Recreated with 3D Printing

An Egyptian mummy's head and face have been reconstructed with forensic science and 3D printing, offering scientists a tantalizing glimpse of the individual's life and death. The mummified head was discovered by accident in the collections of the University of Melbourne in Australia. A museum curator happened upon the remains during an audit and, concerned about the state of the specimen, sent it for a computed tomography(CT) scan.


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New Pterosaur Species with Intact Skull Uncovered in Patagonia

A new species of pterosaur named for its "ancient brain" has been found in Patagonia. "Allkaruen, from the middle lower Jurassic limit, shows an intermediate state in the brain evolution of pterosaurs and their adaptations to the aerial environment," study researcher Diego Pol, a paleontologist at the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Argentina, said in a statement. The new pterosaur was found in a bone bed that contains many pterosaur remains.


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Mercury Mystery Solved: Scientists Decode Planet's Weird Surface

Using data from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft — which orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015 — scientists at the Johnson Space Center took a closer look at how a mix of young and old terrain could develop. "We think that planets start hot and almost completely melt," Asmaa Boujibar, NASA postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study, said in the statement. The researchers simulated what Mercury's interior might be like to try to work out the cause of the vast differences seen on the planet's surface.


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SpaceX signs first customer for used Falcon rocket

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Elon Musk's SpaceX has signed its first customer to use a previously flown rocket, with launch planned for later this year, the companies said on Tuesday. The launch for Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES SA will mark the first commercial reuse of a Falcon 9 rocket, which is crucial to efforts by technology entrepreneur Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp to reduce the cost of space launches. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell previously said the company was targeting a 30 percent discount for launches aboard previously flown rockets, which would bring the price down to about $43 million per flight, a fraction of what competitors charge.


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Curious radio signal stirs talk of extraterrestrials

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A curious radio signal picked up by a Russian telescope is probably not a transmission from an extraterrestrial civilization, but astronomers in California are taking a second look anyway, the SETI Institute said on Tuesday. A group of Russian astronomers last year detected what appeared to be a non-naturally occurring radio signal in the general location of a star system 94 light-years from Earth.

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How Does Listeria Get into Veggies?

About 30,000 cases of precut vegetables are being recalled in many Southeastern states because they could be contaminated with Listeria. This week, the food manufacturer Country Fresh announced a recall of several of its vegetable products — including precut onions, mushrooms and peppers — after one of its products being sold in a Georgia grocery store tested positive for Listeria bacteria. The recall affects products sold at a number of grocery stores — including Walmart, Harris Teeter and Winn-Dixie — in nine Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia).

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The Perks of Being a Twin May Include a Longer Life

Researchers found that identical twins in Denmark tended to live longer than fraternal twins in that country, while both types of twins typically outlived men and women in Denmark who were not twins. The researchers said they suspect that the longevity boost in twins results from the social bonds between the two siblings, Sharrow said. The scientists looked at data on more than 2,900 same-sex pairs of twins who were born in Denmark between 1870 and 1900, limited to pairs in which both twins had survived to at least the age of 10.

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Watch Out for Wasps: Insect Sting Causes Man's Stroke

People's reactions to getting stung by a bee or wasp can range from a feeling bit of pain to a suffering a deadly allergy reaction — and now a recent report of one man's case highlights a particularly rare complication of a sting: having a stroke. A stroke occurs when a part of a person's brain is starved of blood, typically because of a blood clot or a leaky blood vessel. Dr. Michael DeGeorgia, who treated the man, told Live Science that he had never before seen a case where a stroke was caused by a wasp sting.

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Is a Blue Fire Tornado the Future of Oil Spill Cleanup?

A blue fire tornado sounds like it could be an alarming natural disaster, but this phenomenon could actually offer a way to burn fuel with reduced carbon emissions, a new study finds. A fire tornado, or fire whirl, can occur during urban and wildland fires, threatening life, property and the surrounding environment. Traditional, yellow fire whirls gain their color from radiating soot particles, according to study co-author Elaine Oran, a professor of engineering at the University of Maryland.


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Mercury Mystery Solved: Scientist Decode Planet's Weird Surface

Using data from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft — which orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015 — scientists at the Johnson Space Center took a closer look at how a mix of young and old terrain could develop. "We think that planets start hot and almost completely melt," Asmaa Boujibar, NASA postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study, said in the statement. The researchers simulated what Mercury's interior might be like to try to work out the cause of the vast differences seen on the planet's surface.


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Kenya close to ending drought crises, says local scientist award winner

By Katy Migiro NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Kenya is on its way to breaking the devastating cycle of drought, poverty and hunger over the next decade, a leading scientist said as he was named winner of a prestigious award. Kenyan scientist Andrew Mude won the 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application on Tuesday for developing livestock insurance, using state-of-the-art technologies, for herders in East Africa's drylands. "I am confident that with insurance and the related complementary services, the boom and bust cycle will come to an end," said Mude, principal economist at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

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Kenya close to ending drought crises, says local scientist award winner

By Katy Migiro NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Kenya is on its way to breaking the devastating cycle of drought, poverty and hunger over the next decade, a leading scientist said as he was named winner of a prestigious award. Kenyan scientist Andrew Mude won the 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application on Tuesday for developing livestock insurance, using state-of-the-art technologies, for herders in East Africa's drylands. "I am confident that with insurance and the related complementary services, the boom and bust cycle will come to an end," said Mude, principal economist at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).


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Kenya close to ending drought crises, says local scientist award winner

By Katy Migiro NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Kenya is on its way to breaking the devastating cycle of drought, poverty and hunger over the next decade, a leading scientist said as he was named winner of a prestigious award. Kenyan scientist Andrew Mude won the 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application on Tuesday for developing livestock insurance, using state-of-the-art technologies, for herders in East Africa's drylands. "I am confident that with insurance and the related complementary services, the boom and bust cycle will come to an end," said Mude, principal economist at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

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Anthony Weiner: Do Cheaters Always Do It Again?

In the wake of the news that former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner was caught (once again) sexting with a woman who is not his wife, the country let out a collective sigh. But Weiner's case is unusual, because his behavior looks more like a sexual compulsion or addiction, said Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington and co-author of "The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples," (Harmony, 2013). "It's about this kind of thrill that he gets showing his body to some anonymous woman, and you call it an addiction or a compulsion when they can't stop it even in the face of catastrophic consequences," Schwartz told Live Science.

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Video: Adorable Baby Panda Loves Rolling Around

A young panda was caught on camera having a ball, rolling around in the grass at the Gengda Wolong Panda Center in China. The baby panda, named Hua Rong, can be seen somersaulting and rolling around its habitat at the Panda Center, located in the heart of the Wolong Nature Reserve — home to wild giant pandas. Hua Rong's playtime was captured on the Panda Center's live panda cam, part of EXPLORE.org's international network of live nature cameras.


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More Than 300 Reindeer Killed By Lightning: Here's Why

More than 300 wild reindeer were killed after being struck by lightning in Norway, in what government officials say was an unusually deadly event. It's not uncommon for wildlife to be killed by lightning strikes, but what made this storm so deadly? Most lightning deaths that occur in groups are due to the ground current, John Jensenius, a lightning safety expert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Verge.


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Will You Make More Money If You Attend a Top-Tier School?

College tuitions are becoming prohibitively expensive for many people, with Harvard University now costing almost $61,000 a year for tuition, room, board and fees. Given the high price tag, is it worth it to graduate from a highly selective school versus a less expensive, lower-tier one? The answer is, yes, "selectivity matters a lot," at least for most majors, according to two researchers.

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More Parents Are Refusing Vaccinations, But Their Reasons Are Changing

Pediatricians should continue to talk to parents who have concerns about vaccines to try to increase immunization rates, said study co-author Dr. Catherine Hough-Telford, a pediatrician at the University of Alabama. In the study, researchers surveyed 627 pediatricians in 2013 and asked them whether their patients' parents had ever refused a vaccination, or had asked to delay a vaccination. The researchers found that in 2013, 87 percent of pediatricians surveyed said they encountered vaccine refusals from parents of their patients, up from 75 percent of pediatricians who said the same in 2006.

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EpiPen Alternatives Exist, and They May be Cheaper

The soaring price of the EpiPen has garnered controversy recently, but there are alternatives to this well-known allergy treatment device. The EpiPen belongs to a class of medical devices known as epinephrine auto-injectors, which allow people to quickly inject a precise dose of the drug epinephrine. The devices are used to treat anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can be triggered, in people who have the corresponding allergies, by foods, insect stings, medications and certain other substances.

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Mystery Solved: How Lyme Disease Bacteria Spread Around the Body

When you're bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the microbes travel through your bloodstream and can eventually spread to the heart, joints and nervous system. But exactly how these bacteria move inside human blood vessels to spread throughout the body has remained largely a mystery, until now.


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Proxima b: Lasers Might One Day Power Ship to Closest Alien Planet

The discovery of a potentially Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our sun, has ignited interest in whether the alien world could support life — and if so, how humans might one day launch a space probe to the newfound planet.


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Scientists exit Hawaii dome after yearlong Mars simulation

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Six scientists have completed a yearlong Mars simulation in Hawaii, where they lived in a dome in near isolation.


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Scientists hope new varieties can start Africa rice revolution

By Isaiah Esipisu NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The first hybrid rice varieties developed in sub-Saharan Africa are yielding up to four times more than other improved varieties, say scientists, who are using web-based tools to identify the right climate conditions to maximise harvests. The 15 hybrids, bred in Kenya and Tanzania, are also tolerant to diseases and the high temperatures found in Kenya's western Lake Region and coastal areas. Local farmers have always depended on imported hybrid rice varieties, particularly from Asia, which sometimes do not adapt well to conditions in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Dead Sea Transforms Deathly Dress Into Gorgeous Salt-Encrusted Jewel

A gorgeous new exhibit reveals just how salty the Dead Sea is. Artist Sigalit Landau submerged a 1920s-style long, black dress in Israel's Dead Sea for two months in 2014. Landau has been inspired by the Dead Sea's unique environment for past artwork, including salt-crystal-encrusted lamps, a salty hangman's noose and a crystalline island made of shoes, according to the artist's website.


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Venus and Jupiter Imagined: From Galileo to Science Fiction

Venus and Jupiter will appear so close together in the sky this Saturday (Aug. 27) that, from some locations, the two planets will appear to almost touch. Venus and Jupiter were the first two planets to be systematically observed with telescopes. C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, told Space.com.


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Buried Tectonic Plate Reveals Hidden Dinosaur-Era Sea

Using images constructed from earthquake data, geoscientists have developed a method for resurrecting a "slab graveyard" of tectonic plate segments buried deep within the Earth, unfolding the deformed rock into what it may have looked like up to 52 million years ago. This helped the researchers identify the previously unknown East Asian Sea Plate, where an ancient sea once existed in the region shortly after dinosaurs went extinct. The Pacific, Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates frame several smaller plates, including the Philippine Sea Plate, which researchers say has been migrating northwest since its formation roughly 55 million years ago.


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Deaths from Fentanyl, Drug That Killed Prince, Rise Sharply

Overdose deaths from the opioid painkiller fentanyl — the same drug that killed singer-songwriter Prince in April — have increased sharply in a number of U.S. states, according to a new report. From 2013 to 2014, eight U.S. states — Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland and North Carolina — had large increases in overdose deaths tied to synthetic opioids. During that same time, the number of drug products that tested positive for fentanyl after being seized by law enforcement officers increased by more than 10 times in the eight states, rising from 293 to 3,340.

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Why Areas with More Men Have Higher Marriage Rates

The research showed that counties in the U.S. with more men than women generally had higher rates of marriage, fewer births outside marriage and fewer single female heads of household — all of which are generally signs of greater family stability, according to the researchers. "There's this numerical expectation that, as men increase in numbers, that means that there are fewer women available, so men are less likely to get married," said Ryan Schacht, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in anthropology at the University of Utah. In the study, the researchers looked at U.S. Census data from 2,800 counties in all 50 states, focusing on the relationship between each county's gender ratio (the number of men relative to women) and certain markers of family stability that researchers commonly use in research like this, such as marriage rates and the percentage of households with children who were headed by single women.

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Who's Really Happier: Young People or Older People?

Older adults may not be as physically healthy or mentally sharp as younger and middle-age adults, but they have higher psychological well-being than these other age groups, according to a new survey of people living in San Diego County, California. In the study, the researchers evaluated three key factors in adults across their life spans: their physical health, cognitive health and mental health. The researchers also found that young adults in their 20s and 30s had the lowest scores on measures of psychological well-being of all of the age groups in the study, which included people ages 21 to 99, according to the findings, published in the August issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

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Science-Proven Way to Reduce Teen Drinking

"Family rules may be a useful complement to community rules and policies" in the effort to prevent underage drinking, said Mark Wolfson, the study's lead researcher and a professor of social sciences and health policy at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina. The researchers found that the teenagers whose parents had clear rules against underage drinking were 35 percent less likely to have attended a party where there was alcohol in the past 30 days, compared with teens whose parents did not have crystal-clear rules. Future research should examine whether parents can be coached in developing effective and appropriate rules for their children, Wolfson said.

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Riskiest Hurricane Day Approaches

Hurricane season may have officially started on June 1, but the riskiest part of the season is only just beginning, said scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tropical cyclones typically spike during an eight-week period that lasts from mid-August through the middle of October, NOAA scientists said in a statement on Aug. 22. This "peak season" includes 78 percent of tropical storm days, 87 percent of days with Category 1 and 2 hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and a dizzying 96 percent of the major hurricane days (Category 3, 4 and 5), the NOAA said.


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Trousers, Heal Thyself: Squids Make Self-Fixing Clothes Possible

It's generally not a good idea to smear squid parts all over your outfit, but one day, clothes could fix their own rips with the help of coatings made of squid proteins, according to a new study. This research might lead to more than just everyday self-healing clothes. Rips and tears in shirts or jeans are usually no big deal — you can either repair the clothes or simply throw them away — but damage to items such as hazmat suits or biomedical implants can be a matter of life or death.


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Lost WWII Ships Explored in Underwater Expedition

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working with several nonprofit and private partners to explore the twin wrecks of the freighter SS Bluefieldsand the German U-boat U-576. The German submarine attacked and sank the Bluefields on July 15, 1942, and was then itself sunk by bombs from U.S. Navy air cover and the deck gun of another merchant ship in the convoy, the Unicoi. All hands were evacuated from the Bluefields and survived.


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'Stranger Things': How Realistic Are Parallel Worlds?

The hit new series "Stranger Things" is more than just the 1980s throwback we've all been waiting for. In fact, the kids soon realize that the spooky occurrences may actually be stemming from interactions with an alternate world. While a sinister parallel universe like the one on the show "Stranger Things" may not be hovering over our own, the basic idea of an alternate world echoes concepts of multiverses that theoretical physicists have proposed for decades, experts say.

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SpaceX Dragon heads back to Earth with station science, gear

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A SpaceX Dragon capsule headed back to Earth on Friday with a load of science experiments and gear from the International Space Station.


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In Babies, Zika Can Linger for Months, Brazilian Case Suggests

A baby in Brazil who became infected with Zika in the womb still had the virus in his body for months after he was born, according to a new report of the case. The baby's mother, who lived in S√£o Paulo, showed symptoms of Zika when she was 26 weeks pregnant, according to the report, published today (Aug. 24) in the New England Journal of Medicine. This congenital condition can be caused by the Zika virus if a woman is infected during pregnancy.

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How Do EpiPens Work?

The price of EpiPens has increased more than 400 percent since 2007. People who need to keep them on hand — often because they may need the emergency drug in case they have a life-threatening allergic reaction — brought the price increase to light, and eventually it reached Congress: In a letter to Mylan, the company that makes EpiPens, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa has now asked the company to explain its pricing. But how do EpiPens work?

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America's No. 1 Killer Is Changing

Cancer has passed heart disease as the leading cause of death in nearly half of U.S. states, according to a new report. In 2014, cancer was the leading cause of death in 22 states, including many in the West and Northeast. In the rest of the 28 states, heart disease remained the leading cause of death in 2014.

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Soft, Rubbery 'Octobot' Can Move Without Batteries

The researchers say soft robots can adapt more easily to some environments than rigid machines, and this research could lead to autonomous robots that can sense their surroundings and interact with people. As the fuel gives off oxygen, pressure from the gas builds up in the controller and eventually causes some valves to open and others to close, inflating chambers in half the robot's arms and forcing them to move.


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India government panel clears GM mustard but hurdles remain: sources

By Mayank Bhardwaj and Krishna N. Das NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A government panel has cleared commercial use of what would be India's first genetically modified (GM) food crop, but the political establishment will still have to give final approvals amid wide-spread public opposition to the technology. Technical clearance for indigenously developed GM mustard seeds was given on Aug. 11 by the panel of government and independent experts following multiple reviews of crop trial data generated over almost a decade, said two sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The decision to go ahead is likely to be made public soon by the environment ministry's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, and is expected eventually to move to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's desk via Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave.


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Scientists hope new test could help contain meningitis outbreaks

By Umberto Bacchi LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A test has been developed that could help diagnose bacterial infections including meningitis in minutes, but it could take several years before a cheap testing device is available to developing countries, scientists said on Wednesday. The new test could save lives, allow treatment of disease - which is difficult to diagnose - to start much sooner and reduce the risk of life-changing after effects, an international team of researchers led by Imperial College London said. "We would very much hope this could become something cheap enough to be applied even in resource poor regions," Imperial College Professor Michael Levin told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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Scientists find Earth-like planet circling sun's nearest neighbor

The relative proximity of the planet, known as Proxima b, gives scientists a better chance to eventually capture an image of it, to help them establish whether it has an atmosphere and water, which is believed to be necessary for life. Future studies may reveal if any atmosphere contains tell-tale chemicals of biological life, such as methane, according to a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Nature. The planet, located about 4.2 light-years from Earth, or 25 trillion miles (40 trillion km), is the closest of some 3,500 planets that have been discovered beyond the solar system since 1995, according to the paper.


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Italy Earthquake: Complex Geology Drives Frequent Shaking

Powerful earthquakes like the 6.2-magnitude temblor that rocked central Italy early this morning (Aug. 24) are surprisingly common in the region, geologists say. The shaking was caused by movement in the Tyrrhenian Basin, a seismically active area beneath the Mediterranean Sea. Here, the ground is actually spreading apart, said Julie Dutton, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.


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Scientists find Earth-like planet circling sun's nearest neighbour

Scientists have discovered a planet that appears to be similar to Earth circling the star closest to the sun, potentially a major step in the quest to find out if life exists elsewhere in the universe, research published on Wednesday showed. The relative proximity of the planet, known as Proxima b, gives scientists a better chance to eventually capture an image of it, to help them establish whether it has an atmosphere and water, which is believed to be necessary for life. Future studies may reveal if any atmosphere contains tell-tale chemicals of biological life, such as methane, according to a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.


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Scientists find Earth-like planet circling sun's nearest neighbor

Scientists have discovered a planet that appears to be similar to Earth circling the star closest to the sun, potentially a major step in the quest to find out if life exists elsewhere in the universe, research published on Wednesday showed. The relative proximity of the planet, known as Proxima b, gives scientists a better chance to eventually capture an image of it, to help them establish whether it has an atmosphere and water, which is believed to be necessary for life. Future studies may reveal if any atmosphere contains tell-tale chemicals of biological life, such as methane, according to a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

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It's Splitsville: Divorce May Be Seasonal, Study Finds

The rates of divorce filings may peak twice a year, a new study from one state suggests. In a 14-year study of divorce filings in Washington state, researchers found that the rates of such filings consistently peaked in March and August. "People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past," study co-author Julie Brines, an associate sociology professor at the University of Washington, said in a statement.

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Mental Toll of Bad Jobs Lasts Decades

If your job causes stress and anxiety in your life, it may seem obvious that it may be bad for your health. A new study shows that people who had low levels of job satisfaction in their 20s and 30s may have an increased risk of mental health problems in their 40s. "We found that there is a cumulative effect of job satisfaction on health that appears as early as your 40s," lead author Jonathan Dirlam, a doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University, said in a statement.

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Man Swallows 40 Knives: What's Behind His Weird Craving

A man's craving for metal that led him to swallow 40 knives may sound bizarre, but such strange cravings can be symptoms of an eating disorder in which people ingest anything from dirt to talcum powder. The 42-year-old man in India said he had consumed the knives over a 2-month period, according to CNN. Some of the knives were folded up when the man ingested them, but some were unfolded, and extended to about 7 inches (18 centimeters) long.

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Not So Sweet: New Sugar Limits for Kids Announced

Kids in the United States are sweet on sugar, but a major health organization is issuing new guidelines to curb children's consumption of sugary foods and beverages. In the first of three new recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA), a panel of health and nutrition experts suggested that children ages 2 to 18 consume no more than 6 teaspoons (30 milliliters) of added sugar a day, according to the organization's statement published today (Aug. 22) in the journal Circulation. "There is little room in a child's diet for added sugars, because they need calories from vegetables, fruits, protein sources, whole grains and dairy to grow up healthy," said Dr. Miriam Vos, the chairperson of the committee that wrote the scientific statement, and an associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

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Male Termites Pair Up When Females Are Scarce

When male termites are single, and no female mates can be found, the guys tend to form homosexual couples in order to survive, a new study finds. Genetic analysis of the subsequent offspring showed that one of the invading males was able to successfully mate with the female.


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Hate Parallel Parking? New 'RearVision' Camera and App Can Help

The new backup camera for cars, dubbed RearVision, is powered by solar energy and uses Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect with your phone. The device also will be the first backup camera to update itself automatically to get better over time, according to Pearl Automation, the Silicon Valley-based company developing the gadget. Backup cameras are designed to help drivers see behind their car as they back up.


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Condoms Filled with Chili Powder and Firecrackers Teach Elephants to Stay Away

Conservationists are filling condoms with chili powder and firecrackers … to keep elephants away. This scare tactic, part of a multistep alarm system, has been developed to protect farmland and villages from elephants, without harming the animals. Honeyguide Foundation, with support from The Nature Conservancy, has been training villagers to use the alarm system, and though unconventional, the chili condoms have already shown promise.


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1st Look at World War II-Era Aircraft Carrier Sunk in the Pacific

More than 60 years after a World War II-era aircraft carrier sunk to the bottom of the sea, the word "Independence" could still be made out on its surface. By exploring the wreck with robotic subs, scientists are getting their first look at this decades-old ship, which was a target during atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in the 1940s. The exploration is already revealing secrets: Scientists operating the underwater robot discovered a fighter plane within the sunken aircraft carrier that, according to records, should not have been there.


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Hoax or Secret Code? Copies of Unreadable Manuscript to Be Published

Armchair cryptographers, rejoice: A Spanish publisher plans to release replicas of the Voynich Manuscript, a book that no one knows how to read. Discovered by an antique bookseller in 1912 by the name of Wilfrid Voynich, the 600-year-old Voynich Manuscript is housed today in Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. According to AFP, a publisher called Siloe based in Burgos, Spain, will produce 898 copies of the Voynich manuscript, replicating every detail down to the pages'stains and tears.


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China shows first images of Mars rover, aims for 2020 mission

China has showed off its first images of a rover it plans to sent to Mars in mid-2020, which is designed to explore the planet surface for three months, state media said, the latest aim of China's ambitious space 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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Here's How Many US Mothers Breastfeed

The percentage of U.S. mothers who breast-feed their newborns continues to rise, but many stop breast-feeding before their infant is 6 months old, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, 81.1 percent of U.S. mothers said they started out breast-feeding their baby. Breast-feeding rates were highest in Utah, where 94.4 percent of mothers said they breast-fed their newborns in 2013.

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Deadly Case of 'Bagpipe Lung' Highlights Danger of Fungal Infections

One man's fatal lung infection highlights a rare danger that musicians may face: getting sick from fungi growing within their instruments, according to a recent report of the case. The 61-year-old man developed what his doctors in England described as "bagpipe lung," and died just a month after he was hospitalized for his infection, according to the case report, published today (Aug. 22) in the journal Thorax. The man had previously been diagnosed with a lung condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, in 2009, the doctors who treated him wrote.

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Sea Anemone Proteins Could Help Fix Damaged Hearing

When it comes to creatures with keen hearing ability, sea anemones are not at the top of the list. In mammals, including humans, sound is translated from vibrations in the air into nerve signals that can be sent to the brain by highly specialized cells called hair cells. Damage to these hair cells, which can be caused by exposure to loud noise, can result in hearing loss, and mammals are not able to repair hair cells once they are harmed.

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The Maya Were Tracking the Planets Long Before Copernicus

An ancient Mayan text captured the moment when a royal astronomer made a scientific discovery about the movement of Venus across the night sky.


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Breadwinner Men May Have More Money, But Poorer Health

Men who earn more money than their wives may be rolling in the bucks, but they tend to have poor health and heightened anxiety, new research shows. Researchers analyzed surveys from 9,000 young married men and women in the United States taken annually over a 15-year period, and evaluated each participant's response on income, health and psychological wellness. The findings suggest that men who are primary breadwinners — and who, in essence, fulfill the culturally held expectation that husbands should bring home more money than their wives — are actually worse off than men who earn salaries that are more equal to those of their wives.


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This Tree Started Growing During the Viking Age

Europe's oldest officially dated tree has been uncovered in Greece, and despite living more than a millennium (and counting!), it doesn't look a day over 200. The tree, dubbed "Adonis" by the scientists who discovered it, is a Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) that took root in A.D. 941, high in the Pindus mountains of Greece. "It is quite remarkable that this large, complex and impressive organism has survived so long in such an inhospitable environment, in a land that has been civilized for over 3,000 years," Paul J. Krusic, a dendrochronologist at Stockholm University in Sweden, and the leader of the expedition that found the tree, said in a statement.


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Alien Megastructure? 'Tabby's Star' Continues to Baffle Scientists

Nearly a year after first making headlines around the world, "Tabby's star" is still guarding its secrets. In September 2015, a team led by Yale University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian announced that a star about 1,500 light-years from Earth called KIC 8462852 had dimmed oddly and dramatically several times over the past few years. Boyajian and her colleagues suggested that a cloud of fragmented comets or planetary building blocks might be responsible, but other researchers noted that the signal was also consistent with a possible "alien megastructure" — perhaps a giant swarm of energy-collecting solar panels known as a Dyson sphere.


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What are the origins of life? There's a rocket for that

By Ben Gruber CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA scientists are putting the finishing touches on a spacecraft designed to rendezvous with Asteroid Bennu in 2018 to find clues about the origins of life. "We are days away from encapsulating into our rocket faring and lifting this spacecraft on to the Atlas V vehicle and beginning the journey to Bennu and back," Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of the mission told Reuters at the Kennedy Space Center. The $1 billion mission, known as OSIRIS-REx, is scheduled for launch on Sept. 8, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


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Eat your food packaging, don't bin it - scientists

By Alex Whiting ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists are developing an edible form of packaging which they hope will preserve food more effectively and more sustainably than plastic film, helping to cut both food and plastic waste. The packaging film is made of a milk protein called casein, scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. The film looks similar to plastic wrapping, but is up to 500 times better at protecting food from oxygen, as well as being biodegradable and sustainable, the researchers said at the meeting in Pennsylvania, which runs until Thursday.

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Glass Half Empty? Why You May Be Less Optimistic Than You Think

The studies that have suggested that people tend to be inherently optimistic may have had flawed methods of measuring this so-called "optimism bias," the researchers said. Optimism bias, for example, is thought to occur in people who are told their statistical chance of experiencing a bad life event such as cancer. "Previous studies, which have used flawed methodologies to claim that people are optimistic across all situations and that this bias is 'normal,' are now in serious doubt," Adam Harris, a psychologist at University College London and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

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'RNA World': Scientists Inch Closer to Recreating Primordial Life

Scientists studying the origin of life think that the first molecules to replicate themselves — the very first living things — lived in what is called "RNA world." The RNA world hypothesis says that before there was DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, there was RNA (ribonucleic acid) serving as a kind of primitive genetic material and simple enzymes. This is simpler than the protein-based chemistry that governs life today, in which the genetic material and enzymes are separate. In the new study, David Horning and Gerald Joyce, both at The Scripps Institute in La Jolla, California, mixed a cocktail of water, RNA and an enzyme called ribozyme.


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Smartphone-Connected Contact Lenses Give New Meaning to 'Eye Phone'

Apps allow you to link your smartphone to anything from your shoes, to your jewelry, to your doorbell — and soon, you may be able to add your contact lenses to that list. Engineers at the University of Washington have developed an innovative way of communicating that would allow medical aids such as contact lenses and brain implants to send signals to smartphones. The new tech, called "interscatter communication," works by converting Bluetooth signals into Wi-Fi signals, the engineers wrote in a paper that will be presented Aug. 22 at the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Data Communication conference in Brazil.

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500-Year-Old Hidden Images Revealed in Mexican 'Manuscript'

Storytelling images on a deer-hide "manuscript" from Mexico have been seen for the first time in 500 years, thanks to sophisticated scanning technology that penetrated layers of chalk and plaster. This "codex," a type of book-like text, originated in the part of Mexico that is now Oaxaca, and is one of only 20 surviving codices that were made in the Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans. Other Mexican codices recovered from this period contained colorful pictographs — images that represent words or phrases — which have been translated as descriptions of alliances, wars, rituals and genealogies, according to the study authors.


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Eat your food packaging, don't bin it - scientists

By Alex Whiting ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists are developing an edible form of packaging which they hope will preserve food more effectively and more sustainably than plastic film, helping to cut both food and plastic waste. The packaging film is made of a milk protein called casein, scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. The film looks similar to plastic wrapping, but is up to 500 times better at protecting food from oxygen, as well as being biodegradable and sustainable, the researchers said at the meeting in Pennsylvania, which runs until Thursday.

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Scotland's Ancient Stone Circles Built to Align with Solstice Sun

Scientists have statistically proven that two 5,000-year-old stone circles located on islands in Scotland have a series of astronomical alignments that ancient builders intentionally created. The circles also align with the moon during a "major lunar standstill," an event that happens once every 18.6 years. During a major lunar standstill (the next one will occur in 2025), the moon can move through the sky at points that appear very high or very lowon the horizon.


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Earth's Oldest Oceanic Crust Uncovered in Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean Sea is home to what could be the world's oldest oceanic crust, an undisturbed section of Earth's outermost shell that scientists say is about 340 million years old. Most oceanic crust is less than 200 million years old, because it is typically recycled back into the Earth's mantle at subduction zones (where two tectonic plates collide). In the new study, researchers used magnetic sensing equipment to profile areasof the eastern Mediterranean.

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Lochte's Lies: How Science Explains Fibbers

Nearly a week after Ryan Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it seems the men are admitting their story seriously bent the truth. The 12-time Olympic medalist also said he regretted taking focus away from those still competing in the Olympics, and thanked Brazil for hosting. In the swimmers' original version of events, Lochte and three fellow swimmers said their taxi was pulled over and they were robbed at gunpoint early in the morning of Aug. 14.

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Are Black Holes Truly Black? Lab Test Supports Stephen Hawking's Theory

If Hawking radiation comes from astrophysical black holes (not just those created in a lab), it would mean these objects are not entirely dark. It could also help scientists solve a paradox posed by black holes, and perhaps shed light on one of the most significant problems facing modern physics. According to Steinhauer, earlier calculations by cosmologist Stephen Hawking (who came up with the theory that bears his name) combined the theories of quantum physics and gravity.


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Differences in Brain Activity May Determine How Smart You Are

Your brain activity differs depending on whether you're working on a task, or at rest — and just how much that activity differs may be linked to how smart you are, a new study finds. Researchers found that people who displayed similar brain activity while at rest compared to while they were completing a mental task performed those tasks more efficiently than people whose brain activity differed more between their resting state and when they were working on a task. In the study, the researchers analyzed a series of brain scans on 100 healthy adults who had participated in the Human Connectome Project, an ongoing neuroscience effort that involves researchers at many U.S. institutions, including the University of Southern California and Harvard University.

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Catastrophic Louisiana Flooding Measured from Space

Intense rainfall is causing widespread and disastrous flooding in parts of Louisiana, and new measurements from a NASA satellite illustrate just how much precipitation has accumulated in this region of the Southern United States. Rain totals in southern Louisiana were at least 600 percent over normal levels over a seven-day period, according to the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center of the U.S National Weather Service. Data collected from the Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), a product of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, offers essential rainfall observations for NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and five other national and international partners.


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Calcium Supplements Linked to Higher Risk of Dementia in Some Women

For older women with certain health conditions, taking calcium supplements may be linked with an increased risk of dementia, according to a new study. Researchers found that women who had previously had a stroke and who regularly took calcium supplements at the start of the study were seven times more likely to develop dementia over the five-year period than women who had had a stroke but who did not take those supplements. Additionally, the researchers found that women who had signs of a disorder that affects blood flow in the brain and who regularly took calcium supplements were twice as likely to develop dementia over five years as women who had signs of this disorder but did not take those supplements.

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Drifting Tectonic Hotspot Overturns Himalayan Theory

In a region that boasts the tallest peak in the eastern Himalayas and a body of water so impressive it has been nicknamed the "Everest of rivers," an enormous canyon has been carved through the rock over the course of millions of years. This imposing landscape is the result of powerful erosion and dramatic tectonic activity, but the interactions between the surface and interior processes in this part of the Himalayas have been the subject of major debate among scientists. Now, a new study provides evidence that a patch of extreme rock-uplift in the eastern Himalayas — the area of greatest tectonic activity — has been slowly migrating northward, drifting rather than remaining anchored to the location of river erosion, as researchers had previously theorized.


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U.S. astronauts prepare station for commercial space taxis

Two NASA astronauts left the International Space Station on Friday for a 6-1/2-hour spacewalk to install a parking spot for upcoming commercial space taxis, which will end U.S. reliance on Russia for rides to the orbiting outpost. Station commander Jeff Williams and flight engineer Kate Rubins floated outside the station's airlock at about 8:15 a.m. EDT (1215 GMT) and headed toward the berthing slip once used by NASA's now-retired space shuttles, a NASA TV broadcast showed. "Great view," said Rubins, who is making her first spacewalk.

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NASA Opens Research Portal for Scientists

NASA has a new web portal highlighting the research funded by the agency, and promises to put all its peer-reviewed studies online in less than a year. The research will be available on PubSpace, an archive maintained by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. There is no charge to register, and the data can be downloaded and analyzed, NASA officials said.


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Flying Cockroaches! Heat Sends Your Favorite Pests Soaring

"Cockroaches, like all insects, are cold-blooded, meaning their activity rate increases with temperature," said Jules Silverman, an entomologist and professor at North Carolina State University, in an interview with Live Science. This also means that the species of cockroach that are able to fly (and most of them are capable) are probably more likely to do so in warmer places, said Silverman. If you think that flying cockroaches are especially horrific, you probably live somewhere with a colder climate and a denser human population.


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Exxon, GT find way to cut carbon emissions for chemicals: Science

Exxon Mobil and Georgia Tech researchers published findings of a breakthrough in the journal Science on Thursday, saying they had devised a way to slash carbon emissions from chemicals manufacturing by using reverse osmosis instead of heat to separate molecules. Reverse osmosis, which has been widely used for decades in desalination plants that turn seawater into drinking water, has long been seen as having applications for the oil and chemicals industry. Now researchers have finally come up with a specially treated polymer that can serve as the semipermeable membrane needed to do reverse osmosis for chemicals manufacturing at room temperature.


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Scientists to probe ways of meeting tough global warming goal

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Scientists on Thursday set the outlines of a report on how to restrict global warming to a limit agreed last year by world leaders - even though the temperature threshold is at risk of being breached already. The U.N.-led study, due to be published in 2018 as a guide for governments, will look into ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to cap the rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Thelma Krug, a Brazilian scientist who led the four-day meeting in Geneva, said it will also cast the fight against climate change as part of a wider struggle to end poverty and ensure sustainable growth.

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16th-Century Shipwrecks Found Amid Rocket Debris Off Florida Coast

It's relatively common to find debris from rocket launches in the waters off Cape Canaveral in Florida, but divers exploring the seabed recently uncovered artifacts from an age of exploration long before America's space program: 22 cannons and a marble monument in what they think are three 16th-century Spanish shipwrecks. The finds include three ornate bronze cannons — two that are 10 feet (3 meters) long and one that is 7 feet (2 m) long — and the marble monument, engraved with the coat of arms of the king of France, which has been identified from the manifest of a 1562 expedition to Florida by the French navigator and colonialist Jean Ribault. Robert Pritchett, chief executive of the Florida-based company Global Marine Exploration, which explored the wrecks in May and June, told Live Science that it was initially thought that the newfound wrecks might include Ribault's two "lost ships," which sank during a storm in 1565, a few years after the voyage from France…

What's Causing Louisiana's Historic Flooding?

Tremendous downpours have inundated parts of Louisiana over the last few days, resulting in disastrous flooding and forcing thousands of people from their homes. An "inland sheared tropical depression" is how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NWS) described the heavy rain event on Friday morning (Aug. 12). The NWS also noted that the moisture content in the atmosphere was close to an all-time record for the area, even higher than observations during some tropical cyclones.


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Ancient Bling: Exquisite Jewelry Found in Tomb of Chinese Woman

Around 1,500 years ago, at a time when China was divided, a woman named Farong was laid to rest wearing fantastic jewelry, which included a necklace of 5,000 beads and "exquisite" earrings, archaeologists report. Her tomb was discovered in 2011 in Datong City, China, by a team of archaeologists with the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology who were surveying the area before a construction project. Farong's tomb was dug into the ground, and her skeleton (which is now in poor condition) was found lying in a coffin archaeologists said.


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