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Showing posts from February 12, 2016

App shakes up earthquake science by turning users into sensors

By Sebastien Malo NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Smartphones could become the makeshift quake detectors of the future, thanks to a new app launched Friday designed to track tremors and potentially save the lives of its users. Its inventors say the app, released by the University of California, Berkeley, could give early warning of a quake to populations without their own seismological instruments. "MyShake cannot replace traditional seismic networks like those run by the U.S. Geological Survey," said Richard Allen, leader of the app project and director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

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Defeating Zika: The Big Questions Researchers Are Trying to Answer

At least a dozen research groups are now working on developing a Zika virus vaccine, according the World Health Organization (WHO). More-immediate questions will need to be addressed in order for scientists and health officials to diagnose and contain the virus in the meantime, and to determine whether Zika is linked to microcephaly — a disorder in which babies are born with smaller-than-average heads — and Guillaine-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder. Live Science has rounded up some of the biggest questions about this mysterious virus, and talked to experts to get the low-down on the latest science that might provide answers.


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Low B12 Seen in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia

The brains of the elderly and younger people with autism and schizophrenia may share a common link: Both have low levels of vitamin B12, researchers say. The facts that blood levels of B12 do not always mirror brain levels of the vitamin, and that brain levels decrease more over the years than blood levels, may imply that various types of neurological diseases — such as old-age dementia and the disorders of autism and schizophrenia — could be related to poor uptake of vitamin B12 from the blood into the brain, the scientists said.

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High Numbers: Are More People Really Smoking Pot?

Marijuana use may not be rising as quickly as thought — more people may simply be willing to admit to it, new research suggests. The widespread relaxation of marijuana laws in the U.S. may have reduced the stigma of smoking pot, the researchers reported today (Feb. 10) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The new study comes on the heels of an October 2015 study, in which researchers said they found that marijuana use had more than doubled in the U.S. over the decade between 2003 and 2013, and that the percentage of people who have a "marijuana use disorder" had also skyrocketed.

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95 Burmese Pythons (and Counting) Captured in Everglades

The Burmese python has worn out its welcome, and its time is nigh. For the second time since 2013, Florida wildlife officials are inviting people near and far to search for Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) in the Everglades. Depending on where they spot the invasive species, participants can either capture or kill the snakes, which are generally about 6 feet (almost 2 meters) in length, said Carli Segelson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).


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Neanderthal-Human Trysts May Be Linked to Modern Depression, Heart Disease

Ancient trysts between Neanderthals and modern humans may have influenced modern risks for depression, heart attacks, nicotine addiction, obesity and other health problems, researchers said. The Neanderthals were once the closest relatives of modern humans. "This raises several fascinating questions like, 'What effect does the Neanderthal DNA that remains in modern humans have on our biology?'" said study senior author John Capra, an evolutionary geneticist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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Stunning New Image Shows Gravitational Waves As Two Black Holes Merge

A gorgeous new image released by NASA reveals the momentous first detection of gravitational waves rippling through space-time. "We have detected gravitational waves," David Reitze, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, said today in a news briefing. The telltale signs of relativity in action showed up as a teensy blip in the data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory — a set of two separate detectors in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.


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Scientists bid comet lander Philae farewell after radio silence

By Maria Sheahan FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European scientists have given up hope of restoring contact with space probe Philae, which successfully landed on a comet in a pinpoint operation only to lose power because its solar-driven batteries were in the shade. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) said on Friday it suspects Philae is now covered in dust and too cold to operate. "Unfortunately, the probability of Philae re-establishing contact with our team at the DLR Lander Control Center is almost zero, and we will no longer be sending any commands," Stephan Ulamec, Philae Project Manager of the DLR, said in a statement.


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Scientists stop calling out to comet lander as hope fades

BERLIN (AP) — European scientists say they have stopped sending commands to the Philae space probe, which became the first to touch down on a comet more than a year ago.


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