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Showing posts from December 15, 2016

Dwarf planet Ceres is flush with ice, NASA studies show

By Irene Klotz SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The dwarf planet Ceres, an enigmatic rocky body inhabiting the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is rich with ice just beneath its dark surface, scientists said on Thursday in research that may shed light on the early history of the solar system. NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting Ceres, the largest of thousands of rocky bodies located in the main asteroid belt, since March 2015 following 14-month study of Vesta, the second-largest object in the asteroid belt. The studies show that Ceres is about 10 percent water, now frozen into ice, according to physicist Thomas Prettyman of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, one of the researchers.


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Dwarf planet Ceres is flush with ice, NASA studies show

By Irene Klotz SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The dwarf planet Ceres, an enigmatic rocky body inhabiting the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is rich with ice just beneath its dark surface, scientists said on Thursday in research that may shed light on the early history of the solar system. NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting Ceres, the largest of thousands of rocky bodies located in the main asteroid belt, since March 2015 following 14-month study of Vesta, the second-largest object in the asteroid belt. The studies show that Ceres is about 10 percent water, now frozen into ice, according to physicist Thomas Prettyman of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, one of the researchers.

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Global warming's fingerprints seen in 24 weird weather cases

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new scientific report finds man-made climate change played some role in two dozen extreme weather events last year but not in a few other weird weather instances around the world.


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Jingle Bytes? Artificial Intelligence Writes a Christmas Song

You might find yourself wishing for a silent night after you hear the first Christmas carol written by artificial intelligence. The new tune makes its holiday season debut courtesy of a team of computer scientists in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. The researchers fed 100 hours of pop songs to a type of artificial intelligence (AI) known as a recurrent neural network, which learns and performs by building connections between input data, much like the human brain does.


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Cold War-Era Satellites Spy on Himalayan Glaciers

The Cold War may have ended decades ago, but spy satellites' data from that era are now being used for a new mission: tracking environmental change in the Himalayas. Using declassified spy satellite data, researchers have created 3D images of glaciers across the Himalayas, scientists said. The new 3D maps revealed how the Himalayas' glaciers have behaved in a changing climate.


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Earth's Biggest Diamonds May Form in Strange 'Metal Pools'

The world's largest, most valuable diamonds may be born in pockets of liquid metal located deep within the Earth, a new study finds. This discovery suggests that pockets of liquid metal peppered throughout Earth's mantle layer, between the planet's crust and core, may play a key role in how carbon and other elements key to life cycle between the Earth's interior and the planet's surface, the researchers said.


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Climate scientists adjust as Trump builds team of oil allies

By Peter Henderson SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Climate scientists worried that President-elect Donald Trump will slash their budgets and sideline their research are entering survival mode, trimming the words "climate change" from study proposals, emphasizing business applications of their work, and safeguarding data that shows global warming is real. The early reactions, gathered by Reuters in more than a dozen interviews, may foretell a broader shift in the U.S. climate science community, which had enjoyed solid political and financial support under President Barack Obama but could be isolated under a new administration skeptical of climate change and committed to expanding oil drilling and coal mining. "I think it is maybe really necessary to refocus what you are doing and how you are labeling it," said Andreas Prein, a scientist at the federally funded National Center for Atmospheric Research, who previously had changed the term "climate change" in a pro…

Climate scientists adjust as Trump builds team of oil allies

By Peter Henderson SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Climate scientists worried that President-elect Donald Trump will slash their budgets and sideline their research are entering survival mode, trimming the words "climate change" from study proposals, emphasizing business applications of their work, and safeguarding data that shows global warming is real.     The early reactions, gathered by Reuters in more than a dozen interviews, may foretell a broader shift in the U.S. climate science community, which had enjoyed solid political and financial support under President Barack Obama but could be isolated under a new administration skeptical of climate change and committed to expanding oil drilling and coal mining. "I think it is maybe really necessary to refocus what you are doing and how you are labeling it," said Andreas Prein, a scientist at the federally funded National Center for Atmospheric Research, who previously had changed the term "climate change" in a…

Tiny Starfish Larva Mesmerizes in Award-Winning Video

A time-lapse video showing the hypnotic flow of water swirling around a minuscule starfish larva earned first place in the 2016 Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition.


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'Slow Motion' Earthquake Put New Zealand at Risk for Another Temblor

The magnitude-7.8 Kaikoura earthquakethat rattled New Zealand last month may have set up the country for another major quake underneath its capital of Wellington. In the next year, there is a nearly 5 percent chance that a magnitude-7.8 or greater earthquake will strike the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island, Bill Fry, a seismologist and tectonophysicist with GNS Science, a geoscience consultancy service, said Tuesday (Dec. 13) here at the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) annual meeting. The Alpine Fault runs along 370 miles (600 km) of the country's South Island, before splitting into a complicated network of four smaller strike-slip faults (where plates slide past each other), called the Marlborough Fault System, according to GNS Science.


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Asparagus Pee? Why Only Some People Smell It

Some people can smell the characteristic odor that asparagus gives to their urine, while others cannot. Now, a study reveals more than 800 new reasons why this strange phenomenon happens. Lorelei Mucci, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,and her colleaguescame up with the idea for the study at a 2010 scientific conference where their dinner included asparagus.


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Older But Wiser: Why Risky Behavior Declines with Age

Older folks tend not to engage as much in risky behavior as teenagers and young adults do. Researchers at Yale and New York University found that adults in the study who were less inclined to take risks had less gray matter in a brain region called the right posterior parietal cortex, which ― you guessed it! ― is involved in decisions that entail risk.


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Launch of mini-satellites gives forecasters eye into hurricanes

Eight small satellites, designed to improve hurricane forecasts by detecting the wind speeds within storms, blasted off on Thursday aboard an air-launched Pegasus rocket, a NASA TV broadcast showed. From a vantage point 317 miles (510 km) above Earth, the satellites will use radio signals from the Global Positioning System network to measure wind speeds as storms churn over the ocean. Current weather satellites cannot penetrate heavy rain to measure the winds inside a hurricane's core.

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Leading Causes of Death in US Vary Greatly by Region

The reasons why higher death rates vary across geographic areas are not completely clear, but the authors suggested some ideas. For example, the higher death rates from cardiovascular diseases might have something to do with higher rates of obesity in these areas, said study co-author Christopher J. L. Murray, a professor of Global Health at the University of Washington.


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No Need to Delay Getting Pregnant After Miscarriage, Study Suggests

A new study suggests that becoming pregnant again soon after a miscarriage is no more risky for the mom or the fetus than waiting six months to conceive. The new research contradicts the current World Health Organization advice on the subject, which suggests that a six-month wait might be beneficial for the baby. "Women who get pregnant after less than six months between the pregnancy and the loss should not be worried about adverse pregnancy outcomes, and if nothing else actually they should be encouraged," said Enrique Schisterman, a senior investigator in epidemiology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


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New Test Could Improve Diagnosis of Rare, Fatal Brain Disorder

A rare and fatal brain disorder called sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be challenging to identify, with patients needing to undergo a number of tests before a diagnosis can be made. In the study involving dozens of patients, the test, known as RT-QuIC testing, was 100 percent accurate in identifying patients with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), as well as 100 percent accurate at excluding patients who didn't have the disease, when the researchers followed a two-step process of testing. "Our results suggest that the application of RT-QuIC testing will improve the accuracy and speed of sporadic CJD diagnosis," compared with current methods of testing, the researchers, from the University of Verona, wrote in the Dec. 12 issue of the journal JAMA Neurology.


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Atacama Desert May Have Been Marshland When First Settlers Arrived

The driest desert on Earth may have once been a patchwork of lakes and marshlands that supported the first settlers of South America as they populated the continent, new research suggests. The new findings suggest that the bone-dry Atacama Desert, which now looks almost as devoid of life as the surface of Mars, may have once been an important stopping point in the colonization of the Americas. Although the Atacama Desert, although it is a barrier nowadays,  it wasn't at the time early people were settling the Americas, Marco Pfeiffer, a doctoral candidate in soil science at the University of California at Berkeley, said here at a news conference today (Dec. 14) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.


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