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Showing posts from June 2, 2016

Astronomers say universe expanding faster than predicted

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The universe is expanding faster than previously believed, a surprising discovery that could test part of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, a pillar of cosmology that has withstood challenges for a century. The discovery that the universe is expanding 5 percent to 9 percent faster than predicted, announced in joint news releases by NASA and the European Space Agency, also stirs hypotheses about what fills the 95 percent of the cosmos that emits no light and no radiation, scientists said on Thursday. "Maybe the universe is tricking us," said Alex Filippenko, a University of California, Berkeley astronomer and co-author of an upcoming paper about the discovery.


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Scientists propose project to build synthetic human genome

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of 25 scientists on Thursday proposed an ambitious project to create a synthetic human genome, or genetic blueprint, in an endeavour that is bound to raise concerns over the extent to which human life can or should be engineered. A synthetic human genome potentially could make it possible to create humans who lack biological parents - raising the spectre, for instance, of made-to-order human beings with special genetic enhancements. The project aims to build such a synthetic genome and test it in cells in the laboratory within 10 years.


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Surprise! The Universe Is Expanding Faster Than Scientists Thought

The universe is expanding 5 to 9 percent faster than astronomers had thought, a new study suggests. "This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don't emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter and dark radiation," study leader Adam Riess, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said in a statement. Riess — who shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery that the universe's expansion is accelerating — and his colleagues used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to study 2,400 Cepheid stars and 300 Type Ia supernovas.


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Clean fuel from 'bionic leaf' could ease pressure on farmland: scientists

By Chris Arsenault RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new clean technology to turn sunlight into liquid fuel could drastically shrink the need for large plantations to grow crops for biofuels, while combating climate change, Harvard University researchers said on Thursday. Dubbed "bionic leaf 2.0", the technology uses solar panels to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, the scientists said in a study published in the journal Science. Once separated, hydrogen is moved into a chamber where it is consumed by bacteria, and with help from a special metal catalyst and carbon dioxide, the process generates liquid fuel.

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Tasmanian devil returns to San Diego Zoo after pacemaker surgery

A Tasmanian devil named Nick is back in his exhibit area at the San Diego Zoo after receiving a pacemaker to make his heartbeat normal. In January, zoo veterinarians discovered that Nick suffered from an abnormally slow heartbeat and his cardiologist decided that surgery was in order. Nick is only the second of his species on record ever to be implanted with a pacemaker, according to staff at the San Diego Zoo.  “His heartbeats were too slow and now the pacemaker is going to actually take over (pacing) his heart and is going to determine when to pace fast or slow depending on his activity,” said Dr. Joao Orvalho, a cardiologist at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Center in San Diego.

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How dogs became man's best friend - twice over

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Ancient humans made dogs their best friend not once but twice, by domesticating two separate populations of wolves thousands of miles apart in Europe and Asia. It was widely believed dogs were tamed just once, with some experts claiming this happened in Europe and others favoring central Asia or China. "Our data suggests that dogs were domesticated twice, on both sides of the Old World," said Laurent Frantz, a geneticist at the University of Oxford, whose work was published in the journal Science.


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Scientists propose project to build synthetic human genome

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of scientists on Thursday proposed an ambitious project to create a synthetic human genome, or genetic blueprint, in an endeavor that is bound to raise concerns over the extent to which human life can or should be engineered. The project, which arose from a meeting of scientists last month at Harvard University, aims to build such a synthetic genome and test it in cells in the laboratory within 10 years. A synthetic human genome could make it possible to create humans who lack biological parents.

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Flour Recall: Do You Really Need to Throw It Out?

General Mills is recalling 10 million pounds of flour that may be linked with an outbreak of E. coli. "I wouldn't want to have it in my home," said Benjamin Chapman, an associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. General Mills announced on Tuesday (May 31) that the company is working with health officials to investigate the cause of a new E. coli outbreak that has sickened 38 people in 20 states, including 10 people who had to be hospitalized.

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What the New Superbug Means for the US

Experts say a Pennsylvania woman's recent case of an antibiotic-resistant infection shows the urgency for new antibiotics. In the case, the E. coli bacteria causing the 49-year-old woman's urinary tract infection were found in lab testing to be resistant to an antibiotic called colistin. Doctors consider colistin a "last resort" drug — it can have serious side effects, such as kidney damage, so it is used only when other antibiotics do not work.

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Rare Gene Mutation Linked with High MS Risk

People with a rare genetic mutation are very likely to develop a severe form of multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study finds. The findings mark the first time researchers have discovered a genetic mutation that is so strongly tied to the chronic, nerve-damaging disease. This genetic mutation is not common — it appears in only about 1 in every 1,000 MS patients, the researchers said.

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Researchers find 39 unreported sources of major pollution - NASA

(Reuters) - Researchers in the United States and Canada have located 39 unreported sources of major pollution using a new satellite-based method, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. The unreported sources of toxic sulfur dioxide emissions are clusters of coal-burning power plants, smelters and oil and gas operations in the Middle East, Mexico and Russia that were found in an analysis of satellite data from 2005 to 2014, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday. The analysis also found that the satellite-based estimates of the emissions were two or three times higher than those reported from known sources in those regions, NASA said.


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Archaeologists vs. robbers in Israel's race to find ancient scrolls

By Ari Rabinovitch TZEELIM VALLEY, Israel (Reuters) - The disposable paper face masks offer little protection from the clouds of dust that fill the cliffside cave where Israeli archaeologists are wrapping up the largest excavation in the Judean desert of the past half-century. The three-week excavation was the first part of a national campaign to recover as many artefacts as possible, particularly scrolls, left behind by Jewish rebels who hid in the desert some 2,000 years ago, before they are snatched up by antiquity robbers. Now Israel wants to uncover whatever may remain in the desert hideouts before it is destroyed or ends up on the black market.


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Genes of slain Cincinnati gorilla to live on

After shooting dead a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo to save a 3-year-old boy, zoo officials said they had collected a sample of his sperm, raising hopes among distraught fans that Harambe could sire offspring even in death. "Currently, it's not anything we would use for reproduction," Kristen Lukas, who heads the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Gorilla Species Survival Plan, said on Wednesday.


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