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Showing posts from September 12, 2016

Jeff Bezos unveils new rocket to compete with SpaceX

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Jeff Bezos on Monday unveiled a heavy-lift reusable rocket expected to compete against Elon Musk’s SpaceX and other companies for commercial satellite launches before the end of the decade. Bezos’ Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin space company is designing two versions of the rocket, named New Glenn, a nod to John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth and the last surviving member of NASA’s original Mercury Seven astronauts. “New Glenn is designed to launch commercial satellites and to fly humans into space,” Bezos, also the founder and chief executive of Amazon.com Inc , said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Monday.


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Who Knew? Cats Like to Work for Their Food

News flash to cat owners: Your indoor kitty is probably profoundly bored and unchallenged by its bottomless food bowl. Food puzzles are contraptions that make cats work for their food. The puzzles can be as simple as putting dry food in a closed and empty yogurt container and cutting a hole in the side, so that the cat has to bat around the container to get the food to fall out, the researchers said.


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1 Long Neck, 4 Species: New Giraffe Diversity Revealed

A new study reveals there's more to the animals' species diversity than once suspected. The study researchers collected and analyzed DNA from skin samples representing 190 giraffes from across Africa, the first such analysis to include data from all nine formerly accepted subspecies. The 18th-century naturalist Carolus Linnaeus provided the first scientific description of a giraffe in "Systema Naturae" in 1758, using a Nubian giraffe — one of the now-defunct subspecies — as a model.


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Are 'Fairy Circles' Just the 'Ghosts' of Termite Nests?

The discovery of fairy circles in Australia earlier this year has hardly put to rest the controversy over how these mysterious structures form. While some have argued that the geometric patterns are the work of termites, others have postulated that the circles form naturally as vegetation self-organizes in competition for scarce water and other nutrients. Previously, these patches had been observed only in southeastern Africa, mostly Namibia, but in March, a group of researchers announced that they had identified fairy circles in satellite images and during fieldwork in Western Australia.


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Using Pot While Pregnant Not Tied to Birth Risks

Smoking marijuana during pregnancy doesn't appear to increase the risk of preterm birth or other harmful birth outcomes, a new review study suggests. The researchers did initially find a link between smoking marijuana during pregnancy and an increased risk of having a preterm or low-birth-weight baby. In other words, the risk of having either a preterm birth or a baby with a low birth weight was due to tobacco smoking, and marijuana use by itself was not linked to these outcomes, the researchers said.

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Chicken Pox Virus Spreads Through School Bus

A small outbreak of chicken pox was traced back to a single school bus in Michigan, and highlights the importance giving kids the chicken pox vaccine, according to a new report. Health officials in rural Muskegon County, Michigan, were alerted to a suspected case of the chicken pox in an 8-year-old last December after the child was sent home from school, according to the report of the outbreak from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published today (Sept. 8). The link among the cases appeared to be the school bus that all four children rode to and from school each day, according to the report.

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New iPhone Lacks Headphone Jack: Are Bluetooth Headphones Safe?

Apple's new iPhone 7 will not have a headphone jack, and so people who want to avoid holding their phones up to their ears must now rely on Bluetooth ear buds. It turns out that there is no evidence that Bluetooth does any harm. In addition, there are no plausible physics mechanisms by which Bluetooth could cause damage to a person's cells, said John Moulder, a professor emeritus and radiation biologist at Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

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Apple of My Eye: Handheld Device Tells You If Fruit Is Ripe

Scientists at MIT have developed a handheld device that can evaluate how ripe an apple is by measuring the glow of chlorophyll in the fruit's skin under ultraviolet light. "There's a tremendous amount of wastage," said Anshuman Das, a postdoctoral researcher in MIT's Media Lab and lead author of a new paper describing the invention. One solution could be to analyze apples using a spectrometer, which measures the brightness of light at specific wavelengths.


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10 Percent of the World's Wilderness Has Been Lost Since 1990s

Wilderness areas around the world have experienced catastrophic declines over the last two decades, with one-tenth of global wilderness lost since the 1990s, according to a new study. Since 1993, researchers found that a cumulative wilderness area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon has been stripped and destroyed. The shrinking wilderness is due, in part, to human activity such as mining, logging, agriculture, and oil and gas exploration.


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New Tech Could Read Books Without Opening Them

The new system relies on how different chemicals absorb different frequencies of terahertz radiation to varying degrees, the scientists said. It might even be possible for spies to use this technology to peer through envelopes.


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The Science Behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 7's Battery Fires

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is suffering the same fate as countless hoverboards — there are reports that some phones have been bursting into flames, prompting Samsung is issue a recall and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to strongly discourage passengers from carrying the device on planes, news sources report. The answer has to do with its lithium-ion battery, a common power source that isn't just used in cellphones but also in computers, power tools and toys. Lithium, the third element on the period table, is a silver-white metal that can catch fire when exposed to oxygen or water, Lloyd Gordon, the chief electrical safety officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told Live Science last year.


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Stunning Before and After Space Pics Reveal Massive Ice Avalanche

One of the world's largest, and most mysterious ice avalanches was recently visualized in stunning pictures from space. When the ice and rock settled, the avalanche debris spanned 4 square miles (10 square km) and was 98 feet (30 m) thick. The massive avalanche killed nine people, 350 sheep and 110 yaks that lived in the village of Dungru.


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Dark Matter Just Got Murkier

The most recent contribution to our knowledge of dark matter was made by the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) collaboration. It is designed to occasionally detect the vaporous wind of dark matter that is thought to waft through the solar system. Dark matter is an answer to a nearly century-old problem.


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The Heat Is On: Search Begins for 'Alien' Life Beneath Earth

The public can also take part in an online contest to guess the hottest temperature at which life can exist. On Sept. 12, scientists are heading out for a 60-day quest aboard the state-of-the-art Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu to the Nankai Trough, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) off the coast of Japan. The ocean is about 2.9 miles (4.7 km) deep there, and the expedition will drill down 0.75 miles (1.2 km) beneath the seafloor to collect samples.


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