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Showing posts from September 15, 2016

SpaceX says accident probe will not slow space taxi effort

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - SpaceX on Thursday said efforts to develop and certify a space taxi for NASA are not being slowed by an investigation into a launch pad fire that destroyed its rocket and a $200 million Israeli communications satellite. Boeing Co and SpaceX, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, are building spaceships to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, a $100 billion laboratory that flies 250 miles (400 km) above Earth. NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is looking to turn over crew transport to SpaceX and Boeing before the end of 2018, breaking a Russian monopoly.


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People Can Consciously Control Mental Activity Using Brain Scans

People who can "see" their brain activity can change it, after just one or two neurofeedback sessions, new research shows. The new technique could one day be used as an inexpensive treatment for people with anxiety, traumatic stress or other mental health conditions, said study co-author Dr. Talma Hendler, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the Tel Aviv Center for Brain Functions in Israel. "I see it as a very good tool for children and for people who we don't want to give medication," Hendler told Live Science.


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Alcohol's Toll on the Heart: Bigger, Not Better

Drinking alcohol, even in moderate amounts, may increase the size of the heart's left atrium, a new study finds. The left atrium is one of the two upper chambers of the heart, along with the right atrium. When it is enlarged, a person is at risk for developing a type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, which can, in turn, lead to other problems, including stroke.

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Toxins at Home? Dust May Harbor Harmful Chemicals

A little dust may seem harmless, but scientists have identified a number of potentially hazardous chemicals in the dust found in households, according to a new review study. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has already banned some phthalates from children's products, and the Food and Drug Administration is currently considering a petition to ban phthalates from food packaging, the researchers said.

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China launches second experimental space lab module

China launched its second experimental space laboratory on Thursday, part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022. Advancing China's space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power, and apart from its civilian ambitions, Beijing has tested anti-satellite missiles. China insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. Defense Department has highlighted its increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed to prevent adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis.


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Endangered Hawaiian crow shows a knack for tool use

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An endangered crow species from Hawaii that already is extinct in the wild displays remarkable proficiency in using small sticks and other objects to wrangle a meal, joining a small and elite group of animals that use tools. Scientists said on Wednesday that in a series of experiments the crow, known by its indigenous Hawaiian name 'Alala, used objects as tools with dexterity to get at hard-to-reach meat, sometimes modifying them by shortening too-long sticks or making tools from raw plant material. "Tool use is exceedingly rare in the animal kingdom," evolutionary ecologist Christian Rutz of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, who led the study published in the journal Nature, said in an email.


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Scientists decipher color of 'super cute' bristly dinosaur

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists guided by small structures preserved in fossilized skin have deciphered the color and camouflage pattern of a little dinosaur with a parrot-like beak and bristles on its tail that roamed thick forests in China about 120 million years ago. Psittacosaurus was mainly brown but with a paler underside of the tail and belly, a pattern called countershading that may have helped the 5-foot-long (1.5-meter) bipedal plant-eater go unnoticed by hungry predators, the scientists said on Thursday. The color pattern suggested Psittacosaurus (pronounced sit-TAK-ah-sawr-us) lived in a forest environment with diffuse light from a dense canopy of trees, the researchers said.


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Scientists decipher color of 'super cute' bristly dinosaur

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists guided by small structures preserved in fossilized skin have deciphered the color and camouflage pattern of a little dinosaur with a parrot-like beak and bristles on its tail that roamed thick forests in China about 120 million years ago. Psittacosaurus was mainly brown but with a paler underside of the tail and belly, a pattern called countershading that may have helped the 5-foot-long (1.5-meter) bipedal plant-eater go unnoticed by hungry predators, the scientists said on Thursday. The color pattern suggested Psittacosaurus (pronounced sit-TAK-ah-sawr-us) lived in a forest environment with diffuse light from a dense canopy of trees, the researchers said.

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2nd Tool-Using Crow Species Found

The critically endangered Hawaiian crow can use sticks to deftly fish for food that is out of reach, according to a new study. "The Hawaiian crows are incredibly good at using tools," said lead study author Christian Rutz, a biologist at the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom. Until now, New Caledonian crows had been the only corvid (a group that includes crows, ravens and rooks) species known to use tools.


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Doomed 16th-Century Warship Yields Secrets with New 3D Models

In 1545, when the English warship Mary Rose capsized as it led an attack on a French invasion fleet, it sank so quickly that most of the 400 crew and soldiers on board drowned. "Obviously, the carpenter on a wooden warship is a very important person," said Nick Owen, a biomechanist at Swansea University in the United Kingdom and one of the leaders of the study. Owen's research includes using techniques from sports science to study the remains of the Mary Rose crew.


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Glider Will Attempt Record-Breaking Flight to Edge of Space

In a spot in South America known for its powerful winds, scientists and engineers are gearing up to attempt a record-breaking feat: to fly a human-carrying glider to the edge of space. The expedition, known as Perlan Mission II, aims to take the glider up to an elevation of 90,000 feet (27,000 meters). To reach such great heights, the glider was built to take advantage of an atmospheric phenomenon called stratospheric mountain waves.


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This Stingray Chews Its Food

Stingrays from the Amazon River chew up their insect meals, just as mammals might, using complex jaw motions to shred the tough outer shells of juvenile beetles and dragonflies, researchers have found. This finding could shed light on the evolution of chewing, a behavior thought to have helped mammals take advantage of new diets when these animals diversified after the end of the age of dinosaurs, about 65 million years ago. In fact, for a very long time, scientists thought that only mammals practiced chewing.


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Rare Gold Coin with Nero's Face Discovered in Jerusalem

Archaeologists have discovered an "exceptional" gold coin emblazoned with the Roman Emperor Nero's face at a site in Jerusalem. The coin dates to around A.D. 60, shortly before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70, sacking the city and tearing down the Second Temple, an important holy site for Judaism. "The coin is exceptional," archaeologist Shimon Gibson said in a statement, "because this is the first time that a coin of this kind has turned up in Jerusalem in a scientific dig.


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Oldest Indigo-Dyed Fabric Ever Is Discovered in Peru

The oldest indigo-dyed fabric ever found has been discovered in Peru, pushing back the use of this blue coloring to at least 6,200 years ago. The discovery in Peru, however, shines a spotlight on the Americas, which are less-discussed in terms of firsts, said study researcher Jeffrey Splitstoser, an archaeologist and textile expert at The George Washington University. The dyed fabric pieces are small scraps made of woven cotton.


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Earth Vulnerable to Major Asteroid Strike, White House Science Chief Says

The world is still vulnerable to a potentially catastrophic asteroid strike, according to President Barack Obama's chief science adviser. NASA has made substantial progress in finding the asteroids that pose the biggest threat to Earth, but there's still a lot of work to do, said John Holdren, director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. "We are not fully prepared, but we are on a trajectory to get much more so," Holdren said today (Sept. 14) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, during a discussion of the agency's planned Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).


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