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Showing posts from September 23, 2016

SpaceX blast investigation suggests breach in oxygen tank's helium system

By Irene Klotz DALLAS (Reuters) - A SpaceX rocket that burst into flames on its launch pad early this month likely suffered a large breach in its upper-stage helium tank, the company said on Friday. SpaceX, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, was fuelling a Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad in Florida on Sept. 1 in preparation for a routine test-firing when a bright fireball suddenly emerged around the rocket's upper stage. "At this stage of the investigation, preliminary review of the data and debris suggests that a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank took place," SpaceX said in a statement posted on its website.


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Associating Colors with Letters: Clues to Synesthesia

People with an unusual condition called synesthesia, which makes them experience a "mixing" of their senses, may automatically form stronger mental links between the sound of a word and the image that word conjures up in their mind, according to a small new study. For example, a person with synesthesia might always perceive the letter "Y" as blue or yellow, even when that individual sees it in black print. "There's been a debate about synesthesia," study co-author Dr. Krish Sathian, a neurologist at Emory University, said in a statement.

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A Look at Holiday Weight Gain in 3 Countries

Holiday weight gain isn't unique to the United States: A new analysis finds that people in Germany and Japan also pack on pounds during festive seasons. In the study, which was published today (Sept. 21) in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers gave wireless digital scales to nearly 3,000 participants in Germany, Japan and the United States. People in all three countries gained weight, on average, around Christmas, according to the study.

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Eggo Waffle Recall: How To Find Listeria

Kellogg announced on Monday that it is recalling approximately 10,000 cases of Eggo Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat Waffles due to possible contamination with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. There are several ways that bacteria such as Listeria can get into food products, said Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist and an associate professor at North Carolina State University. One way is if the bacteria make their way into the food-processing plant, Chapman said.

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Men with Vasectomies Can Still Spread Zika Via Sex, Report Suggests

A man in Spain may have passed the Zika virus to his wife through sex, even though he'd previously had a vasectomy, according to a new report of the case. The 53-year-old man and his 51-year-old wife had gone on vacation to the Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean in early February this year, the report said. In men who've undergone a vasectomy, sperm from the testes cannot make their way into semen.

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Fat Flora? Gut Bacteria Differ in Obese Kids

Obese children have a different population of microorganisms living in their intestinal tracts, compared with lean children, researchers have found. The study is the first to find a connection between the gut microbiota and fat distribution in children. The gut microorganisms in obese children are similar to those seen in previous studies of obese adults, providing evidence that bacteria play a role in excess weight gain starting at an an early age.

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The Science of Boredom

Although boredom is as familiar a feeling as excitement or fear, science has only begun to understand what makes people bored. Recently, six scientists who emerged after living for a year in isolation on the Mauna Loa volcano as part of the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) experiment, which simulated the isolation that future space travelers might experience traveling to and living on Mars, said that boredom was their biggest challenge. Boredom "has been understudied until fairly recently, but it’s [worth studying] because human experience has consequences for how we interact with each our and our environment," said James Danckert, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo in Ontario in an interview with Live Science.

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Earth's Atmospheric Oxygen Levels Continue Long Slide

Atmospheric oxygen levels have declined over the past 1 million years, although not nearly enough to trigger any major problems for life on Earth, a new study finds. Atmospheric oxygen levels are fundamentally linked to the evolution of life on Earth, as well as changes in geochemical cycles related to climate variations. As such, scientists have long sought to reconstruct how atmospheric oxygen levels fluctuated in the past, and what might control these shifts.


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Chromium-6 in Tap Water: Why the 'Erin Brockovich' Chemical Is Dangerous

Nearly 200 million Americans across all 50 states have been exposed through their tap water to higher-than-recommended levels of chromium-6, a cancer-causing chemical, according to a new report. Chromium-6 was made famous in the 2000 biographical film "Erin Brockovich," starring Julia Roberts as the titular activist. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the two most common forms of chromium found in water are trivalent chromium (chromium-3) and hexavalent chromium (chromium-6).

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Male Widow Spiders Survive Sex by Mounting Immature Virgins

Scientists recently discovered that widow spider males Latrodectus hasselti and Latrodectus geometricus prefer to mate with females that are not yet sexually mature but which still have internal structures that are capable of storing sperm, which the males access by piercing the female's exoskeleton. Sexual cannibalism is common in widow spiders, but males mating with immature females to avoid being cannibalized is behavior that was previously unheard of, the researchers wrote in a new study. Study co-author Maydianne C. B. Andrade, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, has studied widow spiders for nearly two decades, but had never observed this behavior until recently.


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