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Showing posts from December 14, 2016

Undersea mystery: seahorse genetic secrets unveiled

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have unlocked some of the genetic secrets of the weird and wondrous seahorse including its exotic eccentricity of male pregnancy. Researchers said on Wednesday they sequenced the genome of a seahorse species for the first time and identified the genetic underpinning for certain peculiarities in this equine-looking fish group that inhabits coastal waters around the world. Seahorses boast a host of oddities.


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SpaceX's 1st Mars Mission Won't Carry NASA Science Gear

NASA doesn't plan to put any science instruments aboard SpaceX's first Mars mission, which could launch as early as 2018, agency officials said. NASA wants to wait until SpaceX proves it can pull off a soft landing on the Red Planet before committing millions of dollars' worth of equipment to the spaceflight company's "Red Dragon" effort, said Jim Green, head of the agency's Planetary Science Division. "Landing on Mars is hard," Green said during a talk Tuesday (Dec. 13) here at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).


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62-Foot Wave Off Iceland Smashes World Record

A monstrous swell in the North Atlantic that rose up as high as a six-story building is now the world's tallest wave measured by a buoy, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The wave crashed down the morning of Feb. 4, 2013, in the watery expanse between Iceland and the United Kingdom, at approximately 59 degrees N, 11 degrees W. It occurred after a strong cold front passed through the area, producing winds of up to 50.4 mph (43.8 knots), the WMO reported. The North Atlantic is a prime setting for smashing big-wave records.


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'Lucy' Species May Have Been Polygynous

The ancient relative of humanity dubbed "Lucy" may have been one of a harem of gals who mated with a single male, according to research that suggests her species was polygynous. Among the earliest known relatives of humanity whose skeletons were made for walking upright was Australopithecus afarensis, the species that included the famed 3.2-million-year-old Lucy. To learn more about Lucy's species, researchers investigated the area of Laetoli in northern Tanzania, which previously yielded the earliest known footprints belonging to hominins— humans and related species dating back to the split from the chimpanzee lineage.


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Hundreds of Scientists Rally to Protect Climate Science

For a few hours at least, throngs of scientists stepped out from behind their PowerPoint slides about sea ice extent and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to make a more political statement. The scientists, who were attending the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, rallied here in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday (Dec. 13) to support climate science and to reject government meddling with scientific facts. "I know you're here because you understand just how essential science and evidence are to our democracy," Peter Frumhoff, the science and policy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the crowd of more than 200 geologists, climate scientists and Earth scientists.


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Forget Selfie Sticks: This Drone Captures Photos and Videos in Midair

Instead of extending your arm or using a selfie stick to snap shots of you and your crew, you could use a new pocket-size drone — dubbed the "AirSelfie" — to help you remotely capture aerial photos and videos. The AirSelfie is the brainchild of Italian entrepreneur Edoardo Stroppiana, who came up with the idea in 2014. "AirSelfie is specifically designed and produced for people who used to think drone cameras are extremely complicated to use — too expensive and bulky," Stroppiana said.


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Ice Watch: Glacier Survey Reveals How Glaciers Creep and Crawl

With imagery and data from Landsat 8, an Earth-monitoring satellite, scientists at NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are tracking the speed of glaciers' movement and melt. The so-called Global Land Ice Velocity Extraction (GoLIVE) project uses observations from Landsat 8, as well as historical data from older Landsat satellites. "Not only are we able to map the glacier chunks where there are large crevices and high-contrast features, but [we can] also [map] the surface of the ice sheet even where it's smooth, down to these snow-dune features," Scambos said here Monday (Dec. 12) in a news briefing at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.


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Science Gets Raw: Film Festival Celebrates Science Communication, Exploration, Giant Robots

The premiere of a new film about the first colonists to travel to Mars is about to start, and when you must look up 3 feet (about 1 meter) to sheepishly nod to a giant robot, you do what you're told. The event is the brainchild of Keri Kukral, the force behind the Raw Science website. Held on the lot of the 21st Century Fox movie studio, it is not so much a film festival as a celebration of innovation in science communication.


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Exclusive: If Trump skews science, researchers must raise the alarm - Obama official

By Patrick Rucker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists must confront climate change deniers and speak up if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump tries to sideline climate research, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is due to say on Wednesday. "If you see science being ignored or compromised, speak up," Jewell will tell a meeting of earth and space scientists in San Francisco, according to a draft of the speech seen by Reuters. Trump has called climate change a hoax and sought to fill his cabinet with oil industry allies like Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Energy Department nominee.


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NASA troubleshooting problem with Mars rover drill

By Irene Klotz SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has halted its trek up a mountain filled with potentially habitable niches for life while engineers troubleshoot a problem with one of its key instruments, scientists said on Tuesday. Curiosity landed on Mars four years ago to determine if the planet most like Earth in the solar system ever had the ingredients for life. To answer the question, Curiosity has been drilling into rocks and chemically analyzing the samples.


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Exclusive: If Trump skews science, researchers must raise the alarm - Obama official

By Patrick Rucker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists must confront climate change deniers and speak up if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump tries to sideline climate research, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is due to say on Wednesday. "If you see science being ignored or compromised, speak up," Jewell will tell a meeting of earth and space scientists in San Francisco, according to a draft of the speech seen by Reuters. Trump has called climate change a hoax and sought to fill his cabinet with oil industry allies like Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Energy Department nominee.


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Exclusive - If Trump skews science, researchers must raise the alarm: Obama official

By Patrick Rucker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists must confront climate change deniers and speak up if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump tries to sideline climate research, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is due to say on Wednesday. "If you see science being ignored or compromised, speak up," Jewell will tell a meeting of earth and space scientists in San Francisco, according to a draft of the speech seen by Reuters. Trump has called climate change a hoax and sought to fill his cabinet with oil industry allies like Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Energy Department nominee.


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