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Showing posts from September 7, 2016

Scientists find deadly scrub typhus bacteria in South America

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scrub typhus, a deadly disease common in southeast Asia and spread by microscopic biting mites known as chiggers, has now taken hold in a part of South America and may have become endemic there, scientists said on Wednesday. The tropical disease, which kills at least 140,000 people a year in the Asia-Pacific region, has been confirmed in a cluster of cases on a large island off Chile, some 12,000 kilometres from its usual haunts on the other side of the Pacific. Scrub typhus has been known of for years and the bacteria that causes it was first identified in Japan in 1930.

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Scientists use undersea drones to help predict hurricanes

As Hermine worked its way up the East Coast, scientists deployed several underwater drones they say will help them better understand what sustains and strengthens hurricanes and tropical storms — and ultimately ...


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Scientists find deadly scrub typhus bacteria in South America

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scrub typhus, a deadly disease common in southeast Asia and spread by microscopic biting mites known as chiggers, has now taken hold in a part of South America and may have become endemic there, scientists said on Wednesday. The tropical disease, which kills at least 140,000 people a year in the Asia-Pacific region, has been confirmed in a cluster of cases on a large island off Chile, some 12,000 kilometres from its usual haunts on the other side of the Pacific. Scrub typhus has been known of for years and the bacteria that causes it was first identified in Japan in 1930.

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Touching an Asteroid: The Science Behind NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, launching tomorrow (Sept. 8), will explore the asteroid Bennu, searching for traces of the material that helped to build the sun and the early planets. Eventually, the spacecraft will return to Earth with a sample of the asteroid for scientists to analyze in exquisite depth. "Sample return is really at the forefront of scientific exploration," OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta said at a press conference yesterday (Sept. 6).


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NOAA: Global warming increased odds for Louisiana downpour

WASHINGTON (AP) — Man-made climate change about doubled the chances for the type of heavy downpours that caused devastating Louisiana floods last month, a new federal study finds.


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Gluten-Free Diets Surge in Popularity, Yet Celiac Rates Remain Stable

Researchers found that between 2009 and 2014, the percentage of people in the U.S. with celiac disease remained steady, while the percentage of Americans without the condition who stick to a gluten-free diet rose steadily over the same period. Celiac disease is a disorder in which people can't digest gluten normally. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

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Pediatricians Issue New Flu Shot Recommendations for Kids

Children ages 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine by an injection this flu season, and should not get the nasal flu spray because it doesn't provide enough protection against the virus, according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine did not protect children against certain strains of the flu virus that were among the most prominent strains during the past three flu seasons, the researchers said. For example, studies showed that, among children ages 2 to 17 who had received the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine, the vaccine was only 3 percent effective during the 2015-2016 flu season, whereas the injected vaccine was 63 percent effective.

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Driven to Drink: Brain Enzyme Linked to Alcohol Dependency

The ability to resist drinking alcohol when the urge strikes may partly rely on a certain enzyme in the brain, and alcohol use and dependency may reduce the levels of this enzyme, a new study in rats finds. In the new study, researchers discovered that restricting the brain's production of an enzyme — called Prdm2 and found in the brain's frontal lobes — disrupted rats' impulse control. Although scientists have long suspected that brain activity in the frontal lobes was connected to alcohol dependency, this is the first evidence of a specific chemical process that could be linked to overconsumption of alcohol, and to alcohol use when an individual is stressed, the researchers said.


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Nix Homework to Help Students? What the Science Says

A Texas teacher's note to parents about her newly implemented "no formal homework policy" in her second-grade class went viral last week, opening up the floodgates for parents, teachers and school administrators to weigh in on this controversial topic. In the note, teacher Brandy Young told parents that her students' only homework would be work that they did not finish during the school day. Instead of having kids spend time on homework, parents should "spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success," Young said.

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New 'Gel' May Be Step Toward Clothing That Computes

A gel-like material that can carry out pattern recognition could be a major step toward "materials that compute," with possible applications for "smart" clothing or sensing skins for robots, according to a new study. Recent advances in both materials and computer science have prompted researchers to look beyond standard silicon-based electronics and exploit the inherent properties of materials to create systems where the material itself is the computer. Now, a team from the University of Pittsburgh has designed a material that can solve pattern-recognition problems using changes in the oscillations of a chemically powered gel that pulsates like a heart.


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Double Eclipse! Earth and Moon Cross in Front of Sun (Photo)

A NASA satellite captured a far-out view last week when the moon and the Earth passed in front of the sun simultaneously. The double eclipse was captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a satellite designed to monitor the sun and its atmosphere. The SDO is in geosynchronous orbit above a ground station in New Mexico, to which the satellite transmits its data.


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Giant Panda Is No Longer Endangered Species

The giant panda, commonly a symbol for conservation, is no longer considered an endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A nationwide census in 2014 found 1,864 giant pandas in the wild in China, excluding cubs — an increase from 1,596 in 2004, according to the IUCN.


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World's Largest Gorilla Species at Risk of Extinction

The population of the world's largest ape has collapsed over the last two decades. Officials from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced Sunday (Sept. 4) that they're raising the threatened status of the Grauer's gorilla from "endangered" to "critically endangered," the highest category before extinction. "Critical endangered status will raise the profile of this gorilla subspecies and bring attention to its plight," Andrew Plumptre, the lead author of the new listing, said in a statement.


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Superheroes for Science: Marvel Comic Book Covers Promote STEAM Fields

Marvel Entertainment is kicking off the new school year with a special release of new comic book covers that promote science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) while featuring five of its favorite, classic superhero characters. The comics will hit the shelves of comic book shops in November. Marvel's STEAM variants include re-creations of its classic characters and superheroes. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur appear on the science cover peering at the cosmos through a dino head-mounted telescope, adding a fun new twist to the Golden Age original, Moon Girl, which was first published in 1947.


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NASA asteroid probe may find clues to origins of life on Earth

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A U.S. space probe was cleared for launch on Thursday to collect and return samples from an asteroid in hopes of learning more about the origins of life on Earth and perhaps elsewhere in the solar system, NASA said on Tuesday. A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket was scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to dispatch the robot explorer Osiris-Rex on a seven-year mission. United Launch Alliance is a partnership of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing.


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