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Showing posts from December 21, 2016

China launches carbon-tracking satellite into space: Xinhua

China launched a satellite to monitor its greenhouse gas emissions early on Thursday, the latest step in efforts to cut its carbon footprint, the official Xinhua news agency said. The launch follows the United States joining China in formally ratifying the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions. It also comes as large sections of northern China have been shrouded in near-record levels of air pollution for most of the past week, disrupting flights, closing factories and schools, and forcing authorities to issue red alerts.


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Gravitational Wave, Proxima b Scientists Nab Year-End Awards

Two of the 10 most important scientists of 2016 are space researchers, according to the prestigious journal Nature. In February, LIGO spokeswoman Gonzalez and the rest of the team announced the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time first predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity a century ago.


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The Longest Night: Do We Sleep Better on the Solstice?

There's a long night coming, literally — the winter solstice comes on Wednesday (Dec. 21), making it the shortest day and longest night of the year. "I would say that, yes, the changing day length [over the year] does influence sleep," said Brant Hasler, a sleep expert and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. "[It's] probably not enough to notice a day-to-day difference with regard to the winter solstice and the days before and after, but certainly in comparison to the summer solstice," Hasler told Live Science.


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Mysterious 'Ghost Shark' Found for 1st Time in Northern Hemisphere

An elusive "ghost shark" has come out of hiding, as video has captured footage of the fish — whose face looks as if it were stitched together in a Frankenstein-like manner — for the first time in the Northern Hemisphere. "It's a bizarre-looking fish with a pointed snout," said Lonny Lundsten, a senior research technician at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in California. The rare, deep-sea fish — called a "ghost shark" for its appearance, but also known as the pointy-nosed blue ratfish — made its video debut after researchers recorded the animal via remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) off the coasts of Hawaii and California.


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Bizarre Antimatter Emits Same Light As Regular Matter

For the first time, physicists have shown that atoms of antimatter appear to give off the same kind of light that atoms of regular matter do when illuminated with lasers, a new study finds. More precise measurements of this emitted light could unearth clues that might finally help solve the mystery of why there is so much less antimatter than normal matter in the universe, researchers say. A gram of antimatter annihilating a gram of matter would release about twice the energy as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.


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Sci-Fi Gets Science Right: 'Passengers' Nails the Physics

The new science fiction film "Passengers" takes viewers on a journey to the future, when glitzy interstellar starships can transport thousands of hibernating passengers to planets in neighboring star systems. "Passengers" is the story of two space travelers (played by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) on an interstellar spaceship who wake up from an induced state of hibernation, or stasis, 90 years ahead of schedule. While the story is set way ahead of the current time and features technology that either doesn't exist yet or seems entirely out of reach, the makers of "Passengers" clearly took their science seriously.


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Artificial leaf copies nature to manufacture medicine

Dutch scientists have developed an artificial leaf that can act as a mini-factory for producing drugs, an advance that could allow medicines to be produced anywhere there is sunlight. The work taps into the ability of plants to use sunlight to feed themselves through photosynthesis, something industrial chemists have struggled to replicate because sunshine usually generates too little energy to fuel chemical reactions. The leaf-inspired micro factory mimics nature's efficiency at harvesting solar radiation by using new materials called luminescent solar concentrators with very thin channels through which liquid is pumped, exposing molecules to sunlight.


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Obama Bans Arctic Drilling Ahead of Trump Inauguration

The Obama administration on Tuesday put vast swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans off limits to oil and gas drilling to protect marine life, address climate change and safeguard the areas from development after President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January. At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will designate all Arctic Ocean waters under Canadian control as indefinitely off limits to future offshore oil and gas development. The Obama administration is leaving 2.8 million acres of the Beaufort Sea open to drilling.


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Israel's Spacecom buys Boeing satellite for $161 million, to launch in 2019

Israeli satellite operator Space Communications said on Wednesday it would launch a new telecommunications satellite in 2019 after losing a prior one in an explosion. Spacecom said it was buying a satellite from Boeing Satellite Systems International for $161 million. The new satellite, Amos-17, is aimed at expanding and strengthening Spacecom's coverage of growing satellite service markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, it said.

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