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Showing posts from May 9, 2016

Earthlings watch as tiny Mercury sails past the sun

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Tiny Mercury, the solar system's innermost planet, sailed across the face of the sun on Monday, a celestial dance that occurs about once every decade as Earth and its smaller neighboring planet align in space. The journey, which astronomers refer to as a "transit," began with what looked to be a small, black dot on the edge of the sun at 7:12 a.m. EDT (1112 GMT), images relayed live on NASA TV showed. ...


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Gorgeous New Mercury Maps Showcase Planet's Striking Features

A stunning digital model of Mercury unveils the planet's striking landscape, while other new maps provide a closer look at the shadowed northern pole and reveal the highest and lowest points on the closest planet to the sun. Built with data from NASA's MESSENGER mission that orbited Mercury for four years, the new maps offer a bounty of scientific insight, while also delivering an incredible view of the planet. "The wealth of these data, greatly enhanced by the extension of MESSENGER's primary one-year orbital mission to more than four years, has already enabled and will continue to enable exciting scientific discoveries about Mercury for decades to come," Susan Ensor, a software engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and manager of the MESSENGER Science Operations Center, said in a statement.


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Scientists peel back the carrot's genetic secrets

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have gotten to the root of the carrot, genetically speaking.    Researchers said on Monday they have sequenced the genome of the carrot, an increasingly important root crop worldwide, identifying genes responsible for traits including the vegetable's abundance of vitamin A, an important nutrient for vision.    The genome may point to ways to improve carrots through breeding, including increasing their nutrients and making them more productive and more resistant to disease, pest and drought, the researchers said.    The vitamin A in carrots arises from their orange pigments, known as carotenoids.


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Scientists peel back the carrot's genetic secrets

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have gotten to the root of the carrot, genetically speaking.    Researchers said on Monday they have sequenced the genome of the carrot, an increasingly important root crop worldwide, identifying genes responsible for traits including the vegetable's abundance of vitamin A, an important nutrient for vision.    The genome may point to ways to improve carrots through breeding, including increasing their nutrients and making them more productive and more resistant to disease, pest and drought, the researchers said.    The vitamin A in carrots arises from their orange pigments, known as carotenoids.


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How Cultural Pressures May Affect Your Sleep Habits

Our biological clocks may not dictate our bedtimes, but they do influence when we wake up in the morning, a new study finds. However, people's wake-up times are still highly dependent on their biological clocks, as opposed to just on their morning responsibilities, such as going to work or school, the researchers said. The new findings show that "bedtime is more under the control of society, and wake time is more under the control of the [biological] clock," Olivia Walch, a graduate student at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the study, told Live Science.

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Bionic Implant Improves Vision for Some Eye Patients

It may sound like something out of "Star Trek": Doctors have implanted a device in patients that has restored some central vision after advanced eye disease left those individuals with only limited peripheral vision. This is the first time that artificial and natural vision has ever been integrated in humans, the U.K.-based research team said. The study was small and preliminary, involving only four patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

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Christina's Diagnosis: Famous Painting Gets New Look

It ranks as one of the most iconic paintings in modern American history: Andrew Wyeth's 1948 "Christina's World" depicting a woman crawling across a bleak, rural landscape with her sights focused on a distant, gray farmhouse. Wyeth's inspiration for the painting was his real-life friend and neighbor, Anna Christina Olson, a lifelong resident of the Cushing, Maine, farm on which she's pictured. Now, after being challenged to diagnose Olson's condition, neurologist Dr. Marc Patterson of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said it was very unlikely that Olson had polio.

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The Universe Has Probably Hosted Many Alien Civilizations: Study

Many other planets throughout the universe probably hosted intelligent life long before Earth did, a new study suggests. The probability of a civilization developing on a potentially habitable alien planet would have to be less than one in 10 billion trillion — or one part in 10 to the 22nd power — for humanity to be the first technologically advanced species the cosmos has ever known, according to the study. "To me, this implies that other intelligent, technology-producing species very likely have evolved before us," said lead author Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester in New York.

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Splat! Paintball Blow Causes Liver Damage in Teen

A game of paintball had an unfortunate ending when a teen in England wound up needing liver surgery after being struck in the abdomen, according to a new report of the young man's case. The injury was the first instance of a person suffering liver damage from playing paintball, the doctors who treated the teen wrote in their report of his case, published May 5 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. Based on the patient's symptoms, the doctors there diagnosed him with appendicitis.

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520-Million-Year-Old Fossil Larva Preserved in 3D

This is the first fossil of its kind to be found at Chengjiang since the site's discovery in 1984, according to Yu Liu, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. In fact, it was the shape of those appendages in the larva fossil that helped the scientists with their identification, Liu told Live Science in an email. "As you may imagine, the chance of finding a fossil is not very high," Liu told Live Science.


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Oldest Crystals on Earth Originated in Asteroid Craters

The oldest pieces of rock on Earth, zircon crystals, may have formed in craters left by asteroid impacts early in the planet's life. Since the Earth itself is just over 4.5 billion years old, these ancient crystals can offer insight into the planet's history. Fifteen years ago, the crystals first made headlines, when research into the rocks' formation revealed the presence of water on Earth's surface soon after the planet formed.


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Head Games: This Male Spider Is an Oral Sex Champ

The Darwin's bark spider exhibited a "rich sexual repertoire," the scientists wrote. It's an essential reproductive technique, typically driven by sexual dimorphism — significant physical differences between the sexes. "Sexual dimorphism — especially size dimorphism in general — is linked to bizarre sexual behaviors," Matjaž Gregori?, the study's lead author, told Live Science in an email.


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Fearsome Dinosaur-Age 'Hammerhead' Reptile Ate … Plants?

Despite its rows and rows of chisel- and needle-like teeth, a newly described prehistoric marine reptile wasn't a fearsome predator but rather an herbivorous giant that acted like a lawnmower for the sea, a new study finds. It's also the earliest herbivorous marine reptile on record by about 8 million years, they said. "I haven't seen anything like it before," said study co-researcher Olivier Rieppel, the Rowe family curator of evolutionary biology at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.


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