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Showing posts from January 29, 2016

Proton rocket blasts off with part of European space 'data highway'

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A Russian Proton rocket blasted off in Kazakhstan on Friday night to put into orbit both the first part of Europe's new space "data highway" and a Eutelsat communications satellite. The 19-story tall Russian-built rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1720 ET (4:20 a.m. local time). The EDRS-A node that it is carrying is the first building block of the European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS), a "big data" highway costing nearly 500 million euros ($545 million) that will harness new laser-based communications technology. ...

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Wearable Sweat Sensors Could Track Your Health

Blood tests allow doctors to peer into the human body to analyze people's health. Sweat is a rich source of chemical data that could help doctors determine what is happening inside the human body, scientists explained in a new study. "Sweat is pretty attractive to target for noninvasive wearable sensors, since it's, of course, very easy to analyze — you don't have to poke the body to get it — and it has a lot of information about one's health in it," said study senior author Ali Javey, an electrical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley.


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Autism App? iPhone Tool Could One Day Spot the Disorder

An app that can study people's facial expressions and emotional responses could one day be helpful in detecting autism signs in children, new research found. The iPhone app, called "Autism & Beyond," was developed by scientists and software developers at Duke University in North Carolina and uses mathematical algorithms to automatically detect people's expressions and emotional cues, based on muscle movements in the face. Children in the study will be presented with a short video clip designed to elicit emotional responses and social interactions.


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Great Wall of White: Epic Snowfall Visible from Space

A massive winter storm that slammed the U.S. East Coast last weekend dumped so much white stuff on the ground that the extensive snow cover was clearly visible from space. The winter storm, dubbed Jonas, dropped snow from Tennessee north to Massachusetts on Jan. 23, leaving millions of Americans shoveling driveways and sidewalks, and digging their cars out.


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Crop Failure and Fading Food Supplies: Climate Change's Lasting Impact (Op-Ed)

Now, scientists have assessed the global scale of food crop disasters for the first time — and the news is not good. Studies from Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Niger have shown that children have increased wasting and stunting rates after a flood or drought, according to the United Nations World Food Programme. For example, children in Niger born during a drought are more than twice as likely to be malnourished between the ages of 1 and 2.

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What Are the Odds? Temperature Records Keep Falling (Op-Ed)

Michael Mann is a distinguished professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and author of "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines" (Columbia, 2013) and the recently updated and expanded "Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change" (DK, 2015). With the official numbers now in 2015 is, by a substantial margin, the new record-holder, the warmest year in recorded history for both the globe and the Northern Hemisphere. One might wonder: Just how likely is it to see such streaks of record-breaking temperatures if not for human-caused warming of the planet?


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Crowdsourcing the Universe: How Citizen Scientists are Driving Discovery (Kavli Roundtable)

Just last November, a citizen science project called Space Warps announced the discovery of 29 new gravitational lenses, regions in the universe where massive objects bend the paths of photons (from galaxies and other light sources) as they travel toward Earth. Automated computer programs have identified most of the 500 gravitational lenses on astronomer’s books. The Kavli Foundation spoke with three researchers, all co-authors of two papers published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (SPACE WARPS – I. Crowdsourcing the discovery of gravitational lenses SPACE WARPS– II. New gravitational lens candidates from the CFHTLS discovered through citizen science) describing the Space Warps findings.


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F-35 Fighter Jet Likely Caused Sonic Booms That Rocked New Jersey

The sonic booms that rattled residents of New Jersey up to Long Island, New York, yesterday may have been the result of fighter jet flight tests at the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland. At 1:24 p.m. EST (18:24:05 UTC) about 2 miles (3 kilometers) north-northeast of Hammonton, New Jersey, and 37 miles (60 km) south of Trenton, New Jersey, a sonic boom was detected at nearby seismometers in the ground. At least nine others were picked up in the following hour and a half along the Eastern Seaboard up to Long Island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).


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Limited Zika Virus Outbreaks 'Likely' in US

It's likely that the United States will face small outbreaks of Zika virus, but widespread transmission of the virus here is not expected, health officials said today. Zika virus is spreading rapidly in Central and South America, and there have been a few cases in the United States among travelers who caught the virus overseas. Although the virus isn't spreading locally in the United States yet, it is possible that it will, because the mosquitoes that transmit the virus are common in some parts of the country, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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Important First-Aid Move: What to Do If a Child Loses Consciousness

If a child passes out, parents can help them by performing a simple first-aid technique known as putting them in "the recovery position," a new study suggests. Children in the study who became unconscious because they fainted or had a seizure — but were still breathing — and were placed in the recovery position were almost 30 percent less likely to be hospitalized compared with children whose parents did not perform this first-aid method, researchers in Europe found. The finding shows that putting kids on their sides during a seizure really does help, and it works to keep kids from needing to be hospitalized, said Dr. David Mandelbaum, a pediatric neurologist at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, who was not involved in the research.

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Decapitated Gladiators Reveal Roman Empire's Genetic Influence

DNA from seven decapitated skeletons thought to be gladiators is helping researchers unravel the gruesome origins of the ancient remains. The new findings suggest that the Roman Empire's genetic impact on Britain may not have been as large as researchers had thought. The headless skeletons were excavated between 2004 and 2005 from a Roman burial site in Driffield Terrace in York, England, the archaeologists said.


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The Real 'X-Files'? CIA Reveals Weirdest UFO Stories

The real-life stories of UFOs would be enough for the fictional "X-Files" FBI agents Mulder and Scully to spend a lifetime investigating. With a nod to the new "X-Files" reboot (which airs on Fox on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET), the Central Intelligence Agency has released a trove of once classified documents on several real-life unidentified flying objects. The space race was on, the Cold War fears had reached a fever pitch, and science-fiction movies like "The Flying Saucer" (1950) catapulted schlocky depictions of aliens and their flying machines into the popular consciousness.

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Octopuses Are Surprisingly Social — and Confrontational, Scientists Find

Octopuses are well-known masters of camouflage and skillful escape artists, but they aren't exactly famous for their social skills. Scientists have long thought that this many-armed denizen of the deep was strictly solitary and didn't interact much with its fellows, reserving its color-shifting ability for intimidating predators — or hiding from them. But a new study reveals that both male and female octopuses frequently communicate with each other in challenging displays that include posturing and changing color.


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Babylonians Tracked Jupiter with Fancy Math, Tablet Reveals

The brown clay tablet, which could fit in the palm of your hand, is scrawled with hasty, highly abbreviated cuneiform characters. "It sounds minute for a layperson, but this geometry is of a very special kind that is not found anywhere else, for instance, in ancient Greek astronomy," Ossendrijver said. The tablet has long been in the collection at the British Museum in London, and it was likely created in Babylon (located in modern-day Iraq) between 350 and 50 B.C. Ossendrijver recently deciphered the text, and he described his discovery in an article that's featured on the cover of the journal Science this week.


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Europe to launch first part of space-based data highway

Europe plans to launch on Friday night the first part of a new space data highway that will pave the way for faster than ever monitoring of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. The EDRS-A node is the first building block of the European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS), a "big data" highway costing nearly 500 million euros ($545 million) that will harness new laser-based communications technology. The EDRS will considerably improve transmission of large amounts of data, such as pictures and radar images, from satellites in orbit to Earth as they will no longer have to wait for a ground station on Earth to come into view.

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