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Showing posts from January 14, 2016

Scientists spot brightest supernova yet, outshines Milky Way

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Astronomers have discovered the brightest star explosion ever, a super supernova that easily outshines our entire Milky Way.


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NASA adds commercial mini-shuttle to station supply fleet

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA hired a third company to fly cargo to the International Space Station, adding an innovative space plane built by Sierra Nevada Corp to the commercial fleet, the U.S. space agency said on Thursday. Privately owned Sierra Nevada will join incumbents Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, and Orbital ATK in ferrying supplies to the space station beginning in late 2019, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. NASA estimates it will need about four cargo runs per year, but expects to spend “significantly” less than $14 billion overall, station program manager Kirk Shireman told reporters on a conference call.


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Ancient people conquered the Arctic at least 45,000 years ago

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The frozen carcass of a woolly mammoth found in Siberia with unmistakable signs of spear wounds is providing evidence that people inhabited Arctic regions thousands of years earlier than previously known. Russian scientists on Thursday said the male mammoth excavated from a bluff on Yenisei Bay on the Arctic Ocean was killed by hunters 45,000 years ago, providing the earliest indication of the presence of humans in the Arctic.


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NASA adds commercial mini-shuttle to space station supply fleet

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA hired a third company to fly cargo to the International Space Station, adding an innovative space plane built by Sierra Nevada Corp to the fleet, the U.S. space agency said on Thursday. Privately owned Sierra Nevada will join incumbents Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital ATK in ferrying supplies to the space station beginning in late 2019. Terms of the contracts were not immediately disclosed, but NASA previously said it intended to spend about $1 billion to $1.4 billion on the program annually.

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Growing vegetables via smartphone

By Ben Gruber LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - Growing your own produce just got really easy. This is a farm cube - a fully enclosed ecosystem capable of growing vegetables indoors.   "In this one (Farm Cube), the one cycle, around six weeks, 200 pieces or 100 pieces depending on different vegetables," said Jack Ting, CEO of Taipei-based OPCOM, developers of the automated farming technology.   Seedlings are loaded into the cube. Not home and worried about your farm cube?

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Stephen Hawking: Black Holes Have 'Hair'

Black holes may sport a luxurious head of "hair" made up of ghostly, zero-energy particles, says a new hypothesis proposed by Stephen Hawking and other physicists. The new paper, which was published online Jan. 5 in the preprint journal arXiv, proposes that at least some of the information devoured by a black hole is stored in these electric hairs. Still, the new proposal doesn't prove that all the information that enters a black hole is preserved.


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In an Oil Boom, Reason to Mourn 55 Mph Speed Limit (Op-Ed)

In December, U.S. lawmakers voted to end the nation's decades-long ban on the export of crude oil, which was passed to limit American dependence on foreign oil. The embargo drove up the price of oil. With the aim of achieving energy independence, the U.S. Congress banned the export of crude oil and created the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency supply of petroleum to weather shocks in the oil market.

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Without Basic Knowledge, Innovation Fails (Op-Ed)

Vikram Jandhyala is the vice provost for innovation at the University of Washington. Understanding how innovation actually happens is one of the most intricate, and important, intellectual conversations occurring in technology circles, and it's clear that basic knowledge — long ignored — plays a central role. Basic knowledge can come from the social sciences, health sciences, policy studies, law, social work, anthropology, and critically, business and finance.


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Ebola Outbreak Declared Over in West Africa

West Africa is now free of Ebola, marking an end to the devastating epidemic that plagued the region for two years. The three hardest-hit countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — have not had any new Ebola cases for at least 42 days, according to a statement from the World Health Organization released today (Jan. 14). Health officials typically wait 42 days to declare a country Ebola-free, because this is twice as long as the 21-day incubation period of the virus (the time it takes for a person infected with the virus to show symptoms).

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Astronomers spot brightest supernova yet in distant galaxy

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronomers have found a distant supernova, or exploded star, 20 times brighter than the Milky Way galaxy, according to research published on Thursday. The massive supernova is about 3.8 billion light-years away in a galaxy roughly three times the size of the Milky Way, scientists wrote in a report in this week's issue of the journal Science. The cosmic blast was first spotted on June 14, 2015, in an automated search for supernovas conducted by a global network of small telescopes.

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Boo! New dinosaur skeleton will spill out of hall at famed New York museum

By Barbara Goldberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - Even by the standards of New York's American Museum of Natural History - home of an enormous blue whale model that draws visitors from around the world - this is big. A new, 122-foot (37-meter) dinosaur skeleton to be unveiled on Friday is too long to fit in the fossil hall and so its neck and head will poke out toward the elevator banks, offering a surprise greeting when the lift doors open. The dinosaur, so recently discovered it is not yet formally named, is so tall that the cast of its skeleton grazes the museum's 19-foot (6-meter) ceilings, museum spokeswoman Aubrey Miller said on Thursday.


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NASA set to award space station cargo contracts

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A three-way competition to fly cargo to the International Space Station for NASA has ended, and the U.S. space agency is set to announce the winners on Thursday. Incumbents Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital ATK are vying with privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp., which is developing a robotic, reusable miniature space plane known as Dream Chaser. A news conference is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST to unveil the winning bids, NASA said. ...


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Orphaned Baby Chimps Suffer Lasting Social Effects

Being orphaned as a baby may have a bigger impact on chimpanzees than was previously thought, a new study finds. Scientists found that when infant chimpanzees were taken from their parents, the chimps groomed fellow animals considerably less in later life. The researchers already knew that the social behaviors of former lab chimpanzees differ based on the age they were taken away from their mothers, so the scientists wanted to compare these effects with chimps that were orphaned but reared around other animals in a zoo.

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Frogs 'Talk' Using Complex Signals

A recent study of a Brazilian torrent frog, Hylodes japi, shows that this species employs a more nuanced communication system than any other known frog species. In fact, researchers found that the tiny H. japi had a sizable repertoire of calls and displays that was more complex than any seen before in anurans, the animal order that includes frogs and toads. Scientists have long recognized that vocal calls are frogs' chief means of communication, but recent studies detail a growing body of evidence for visual cues used in communication among several frog species, said the study authors.


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Malaysia Aircraft Search Turns Up 1800s Shipwreck

The search for the mission Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared over the Indian Ocean in 2014 has discovered something else: a 19th-century shipwreck. Searchers discovered the shipwreck while combing the Indian Ocean for remnants of Flight MH 370, which vanished without a trace on March 8, 2014. On Jan. 2, the search team sent an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), dubbed the Havila Harmony, to follow up on the anomalous find.


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Mysterious 'Hobbit' Relative May Have Lived on Isolated Island

A mysterious relative of the extinct human species nicknamed the "hobbit" may have once lived on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, new research suggests. The fossils belonged to an unknown hominin, a close relative of modern humans. As such, these potential direct ancestors of hobbits may have descended from Homo erectus, the earliest undisputed ancestor of modern humans.


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'Las Vegas of Ants' Visible on Google Earth

Not far from the Grand Canyon, near a landmark called Vulcan's Throne, the ground is dotted with strange, barren circles, visible from orbit. Physicist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a specialist in image processing and satellite imagery analysis at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, noticed the bizarre polka- dot features while studying the dimensions of the Grand Canyon rim in Google Earth. In a valley near the cinder cone volcano Vulcan's Throne, on the canyon's North Rim, Sparavigna saw dirt circles, irregularly spaced in the scrubby desert vegetation.


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First-Time Moms Are Getting Older in US

The age at which U.S. women have their first baby is going up, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2000 to 2014, the average age of a mother's first birth rose from 24.9 to 26.3, data from the CDC report found. In the report, published today (Jan. 14), the researchers attributed the shift to two main factors: a decrease in the percentage of women having their first birth before age 20, and an increase in the percentage having their first birth over age 30.

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