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Showing posts from October 24, 2016

U.S. scientist dies in snowmobile plunge in Antarctica

(Reuters) - A U.S.-based scientist was killed in Antarctica when the snowmobile he was driving plunged into a crevasse on Saturday, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) said in a statement on Monday. Gordon Hamilton, 50, a University of Maine professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, and a researcher with the Climate Change Institute, fell 100 feet (30.48 metres) into the crevasse, the NSF statement said. Hamilton was part of a team camped in a heavily crevassed area known as the Shear Zone, around 25 miles (40.23 km) south of McMurdo Station, the largest of the three U.S. research stations in Antarctica.

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Embryo Fish Face, Cow Dung & Beetle Feet Win Small World Photo Contest

In your face! A 4-day-old zebrafish embryo's dour mug nabbed the top prize in the annual Nikon Small World photo competition, which showcases often-unseen wonders of the natural world that can be viewed only through a microscope. Nikon Small World revealed the first-place photo today (Oct. 19) on Instagram — a first for the contest — at @NikonInstruments. Captured by senior research scientist Oscar Ruiz, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the image reveals incredible detail in the embryo's face.


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Ancient 'Frankenstein' Bug Mixed Grasshopper, Wasp & Roach Parts

Scientists have recently discovered a mysterious, 100-million-year-old insect trapped in amber — and as far as anyone knows, it is unlike any other insect that has ever lived on Earth. "When I first looked at this insect, I had no idea what it was," study co-author George Poinar Jr., a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, said in a statement. Scientists working in the region have found hundreds of other well-preserved creatures trapped in amber, all from the Cretaceous Period.


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Scientists Untangle Chemistry of Frankincense to Develop 'Perfume'

"They are contained in extremely low amounts" — less than 100 parts per million in the essential oil for the most potent molecule, study leader Nicolas Baldovini, a chemist at the Institute de Chimie de Nice in France, wrote in an email to Live Science. The scent comes from the resin of gum trees of the genus Boswellia, and it was burned as incense in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. The oldest archaeological evidence for frankincense use dates back to the late fourth millennium B.C. Frankincense is also mentioned repeatedly in the Bible: The Queen of Sheba brings it to King Solomon, and the three Magi gift some of it to baby Jesus.


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Found: Fossil Crocodile with a Mammal's Smile

Chew on this: A partial skull and jaw of a small crocodile relative that lived 100 million years ago has teeth that are more like a mammal's than a crocodilian's, according to a new study. While crocodiles' toothy grins typically feature only cone-shaped teeth, this ancient crocodile relative from Morocco had more complex teeth, with specialized shapes that had pits surrounded by multiple pointed ends known as cusps. The conical tooth shape in modern crocodiles is perfectly suited for the way the reptiles feed — tearing off large chunks of meat and swallowing them whole.


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Venomous Snake Bites on the Rise in Kids

Between 2000 and 2013, there were more than 18,000 reports of snakebites in children in the U.S., the researchers wrote in their study, which was published Oct. 20 in the journal Pediatrics. About half the snakebites that were reported were from venomous snakes, according to the study. Bites from cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) accounted for 6 percent of bites, while 3 percent came from coral snakes and 1 percent came from exotic venomous snakes, the researchers found.


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Healthy Viewing: New Screen Time Guidelines for Kids

Parents who are unsure of the answer can turn to a new set of guidelines put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The new recommendations outline how much time kids — ranging from infants to adolescents — can spend watching TV and engaging with other media that involves using a screen. "Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk or sleep," Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the new recommendations, said in a statement.


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Oxygen Shift May Be Key to Resetting Biological Clock

A small shift in the oxygen levels in the air could act as a "reset" button for the biological clock, according to a new study in mice. Mice in the study that were exposed to a brief dip in the levels of oxygen in the air that they were breathing adjusted more quickly to a new circadian rhythm than mice that received steady levels of oxygen, the researchers found. In other words, the dip in oxygen levels seemed to help the animals adjust to the mouse equivalent of jet lag, according to the study, which was published today (Oct. 20) in the journal Cell Metabolism.


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Should Marijuana Be Legal? 60 Percent of Americans Now Say Yes

As the question of whether marijuana should be legal comes up for a vote in several U.S. states in this upcoming election, support for legal pot is at its highest in nearly 50 years, according to a new poll. The poll, from Gallup, found that 60 percent of Americans now say that using marijuana should be legal. The year 2013 marked the first time that more than 50 percent of Americans polled said that they supported legalizing marijuana — the same year that Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, Gallup said.


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How Your Ancestry Influences the Inflammation in Your Body

When ancient humans interbred with Neanderthals, they inherited DNA that may influence modern Europeans' immune systems to this day, a new study suggests. The research found that inflammation and other immune responses work differently in Africans than they do in Europeans, in part because Europeans have inherited some of their genetic information from Neanderthals, which were at one time the closest living relatives of modern humans. The study showed that people of African ancestry may have a stronger inflammatory response to certain infections than people of European ancestry.


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No Highs or Lows: Marijuana Use Holds Steady in Teens, Young Adults

In states that have passed medical marijuana laws, pot use among adolescents and young adults has remained steady over the past decade, a new study finds. In the study, researchers compared the rates of teens and young adults in these states who reported using marijuana before medical marijuana laws were passed, with the rates afterward. Marijuana use in adults ages 26 and up, however, did increase after the passage of medical marijuana laws, according to the study, which was published online Oct. 11 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.


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Meet Snooty: The World's Oldest Manatee Living in Captivity

Sixty-eight may not seem that old, but for Snooty the manatee, it's a world record. Snooty is now the world's oldest manatee living in captivity, the Guinness World Records recently announced. The sea cow was brought to South Florida Museum as an 11-month-old calf in 1949.


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Did UNESCO Deny That the Temple Mount Had Jewish Temples?

If you believe what has been touted by several news outlets over the past week, UNESCO seems to have given short shrift to the Temple Mount, the most holy site in Jerusalem. During that time, media outlets all over the world have published stories saying that UNESCO (U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), an agency of the UN that deals with cultural heritage issues, has denied that the Temple Mount was ever the home of Jewish temples. The situation stems from an Oct. 12 resolution that was passed by UNESCO's executive board, comprising representatives from 58 states.


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Eels Consume Their Own Bones to Survive Migration

To survive an arduous swim thousands of miles long without eating anything on the way, European eels apparently lose a significant amount of bone in a way that keeps them alive and moving, a new study finds. This finding could yield insights that will help scientists prevent or reverse human bone loss, the researchers said. In order to spawn, European eels (Anguilla anguilla) undertake a 3,000-mile-long (5,000 kilometers) migration from European freshwaters across the Atlantic Ocean to the Sargasso Sea, located between the Azores Islands and the Caribbean Sea.


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Beautiful Earth Visualization Shows the World's Weather in Motion

A stunning, blue-and-green visualization of the globe allows viewers to see the world's wind and weather patterns as forecast by supercomputers around the world. The striking animation, called "earth," was designed by computer programmer Cameron Beccario, an engineering manager at the computer coding company Indeed Tokyo in Japan. For instance, the model uses the National Centers for Environmental Prediction's Global Forecast System, which uses supercomputers to run a model that predicts weather four times a day.


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Britain Will Pardon Thousands of Gay and Bisexual Men

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. E.T.


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Snakes Used to Have Legs and Arms … Until These Mutations Happened

The ancestors of today's slithery snakes once sported full-fledged arms and legs, but genetic mutations caused the reptiles to lose all four of their limbs about 150 million years ago, according to two new studies. The findings are welcome news to herpetologists, who have long wondered what genetic changes caused snakes to lose their arms and legs, the researchers said. Both studies showed that mutations in a stretch of snake DNA called ZRS (the Zone of Polarizing Activity Regulatory Sequence) were responsible for the limb-altering change.


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Why Are Thousands of 'Scrotum Frogs' Dying Off in South America?

More than 10,000 endangered frogs and other water-dwelling animals living near a lake in South America were found mysteriously dead this month, according to reports from Peru’s wildlife and forestry service Serfor, leaving many people to wonder what could have caused this bizarre die-off. The Titicaca water frog (Telmatobius culeus), also known as the "scrotum frog" for its loose skin, is one of the most critically endangered frogs in the world. This evolutionary adaptation also makes the frog highly sensitive to changes in its habitat, such as environmental contamination, according to Tom Weaver, curator of reptiles and fish at the Denver Zoo.


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How a DDoS Cyberattack Caused Widespread Internet Outage

If you were trying to catch up on the latest news or check out what was trending on Twitter this morning, you might have received a message that said that your browser couldn't connect to the server. Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and even news sites such as CNN experienced a widespread outage early today due to a so-called DDoS cyberattack that affected many users on the East Coast of the United States, according to several news outlets. The culprit behind the outage is what's known as a distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS, which was mounted against a company called Dyn DNS.


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