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Showing posts from March 8, 2016

Clouds over Indonesia obscure total eclipse of the sun for many

By Darren Whiteside and Kanupriya Kapoor PALEMBANG, Indonesia (Reuters) - A solar eclipse enthralled Indonesia on Wednesday but clouds spoiled the view for many skywatchers in the east of the archipelago, the only part of the country that had the opportunity to see it in totality. In Palembang city on the western island of Sumatra where the total eclipse should have been visible, cloudy skies and smog obscured the view for many of the thousands of people who gathered outside shortly after daybreak. "It was very annoying that we couldn’t see the sun properly,” said David Pratama, 18, as jeers of disappointment rose up in the crowd around him as the sun moved behind the moon.


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Bezos' space company aims for passenger flights in 2018

Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin expects to begin crewed test flights of its reusable suborbital New Shepard vehicle next year and begin flying paying passengers in 2018, Bezos told reporters on Tuesday. Bezos’ remarks, made during the first ever media tour of the Blue Origin manufacturing facility, marked the first time the billionaire founder of Amazon.com had put a target date on the start of the commercial space flights Blue Origin is developing. Blue Origin’s first reusable rocket was lost in a test flight in April 2015, though the capsule parachuted safely back to the ground.


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Mysterious extinction of prehistoric marine reptiles explained

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the enduring mysteries of paleontology, the demise of a highly successful group of dolphin-like marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs that flourished in Earth's seas for more than 150 million years, may finally have been solved. Scientists on Tuesday attributed their extinction 94 million years ago to the combination of global warming and their own failure to evolve swiftly enough. The research, the most comprehensive analysis to date of their disappearance, undercut previous notions that ichthyosaurs had been in decline for tens of millions of years and had been out-competed by other predators such as the fearsome ocean-going lizards called mosasaurs that were just arriving on the scene.


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The World's Most Innovative Research Institutions

Topping the list is France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), for its research into areas including renewable power, public health, and information security. On a country-by-country basis, the United States leads the list, with six organizations ranked (France and Japan each have four, and Germany has three).

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A Demon Ate the Sun: How Solar Eclipses Inspired Superstition

The first and only total solar eclipse of 2016 will roll across the sky this week. Total solar eclipses — when the moon's shadow blocks the sun entirely — are spectacular events, highly anticipated by astronomers, astrophotographers and casual spectators alike. Throughout history, cultures around the world sought to provide context and explanation for eclipses, and like the eclipses themselves, the legends attached to the events were dramatic. This week's total solar eclipse will be visible from Indonesia and from the North Pacific Ocean early on Wednesday (March 9) local time, (late Tuesday, March 8, EST).


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Slippery Asteroid Surprises Scientists With Early Earth Flyby

An asteroid zoomed past Earth at a safe distance Monday (March 7), a day earlier than scientists had predicted. The near-Earth asteroid 2013 TX68 flew by our planet at 8:42 a.m. EST (1342 GMT) Monday at a distance of 2.54 million miles (4.09 million kilometers), according to researchers at the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who pegged the object's diameter at between 56 and 177 feet (17 to 54 meters). This threat would likely come via serious climate effects, with the impact from such an object potentially throwing up enough dust and soot (from resulting fires) to plunge Earth into a mini ice age for several years.


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Microbial Manifesto: The Global Push to Understand the Microbiome (Kavli Roundtable)

Read more perspective pieces on the Kavli Expert Voices landing page. With a unified focus, researchers hope to learn how microbiomes could not only cure infectious diseases and reduce antibiotic drug resistance, but also reclaim exhausted farmland, cut fertilizer and pesticide use, and produce new fuels and carbon-based chemicals. Such analyses show that microbial communities can be incredibly diverse , including hundreds of thousands of different microbial species, all interacting with one another.

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Bionic fingertip gives sense of touch to amputee

By Matthew Stock A bionic fingertip has given an amputee the sensation of rough or smooth textures via electrodes implanted into nerves in his upper arm. Scientists from EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and SSSA (Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy) successfully allowed amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen to receive this sophisticated tactile information in real-time. The research, published in science journal eLife, says Sørensen is the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes surgically implanted above his stump.

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Mysterious 'Area 6' Landing Strip in Nevada Desert Baffles Experts

A mysterious, mile-long landing strip in the remote Nevada desert could be the home base for testing sensors on a top-secret fleet of drones, security experts speculate. The asphalt landing strip is in Area 6 of the Yucca Flat test site, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) northeast of the infamous Area 51 that has long been the subject of conspiracy theories. In Area 6, a handful of hangars with clamshell doors are clustered at one end of the airstrip, images from Google Earth reveal.


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A 35-Inch Waist and Your Health: What's the Link?

In reaction to model Ashley Graham gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated's latest swimsuit issue, former Sports Illustrated cover girl and supermodel Cheryl Tiegs sounded not so positive about women with larger waistlines. "I don't like it that we're talking about full-figured women, because it's glamorizing them, and your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches]," Tiegs said in an interview with E! on the red carpet of the 13th Annual Global Green USA pre-Oscar party. Celebrity feuds aside, Tiegs' reaction left many people curious about whether a 35-inch waist is a true marker of health.

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Orbital eyes first customer for in-space satellite servicing

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Orbital ATK Inc on Monday said it hopes to announce within the next six to eight weeks its first contract for a new "in space" service aimed at extending the life and uses of aging commercial satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Tom Wilson, vice president of strategy and business development at Orbital ATK, said the company had invested tens of millions of dollars in the new capability, but gave no specific amount. Wilson said each year about 70 satellites of the 380 communications satellites in orbit could potentially need servicing as they reached the end of the propellant that allows them to maintain their position in space.


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