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NASA's Plan To Block Light From Distant Stars To Find 'Earth 2.0'

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the starshader-glides-in-front-of-a-star dept.

Space 92

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Over the last five years, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has found dozens of potentially habitable planets. The only problem is that we can't actually see them, because the glare from those planets' stars makes it impossible to image them directly. A new, audacious plan to completely block out the light from those stars, however, could change all of that. The plan calls for a satellite to be sent out several tens of thousands of miles from Earth. The satellite will unfold a huge, flower-shaped metal shade that will literally block the light of some far-out star to the point where a space telescope, which will directly communicate with Starshade, will be able to image whatever planets are orbiting it directly. It's called Starshade, and, given the name, it works exactly how you might expect it to. If you look directly at the sun, you're not going to be able to see anything in the sky around it. Hold up something between your eyes and the sun to block it, however, and you'll be able to see much better."

Spanish Conquest May Have Altered Peru's Shoreline

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the accidental-retaining-wall dept.

Earth 94

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The Spanish conquest of the Inca had a profound effect on Peru's indigenous people, but a new study reveals that it also had an unexpected impact on the land itself. Before the Spaniards arrived, inhabitants of the arid northern Peruvian coast clad massive sand dune-like ridges with an accidental form of 'armor': millions of discarded mollusk shells, which protected the ridges from erosion for nearly 4700 years and produced a vast corrugated landscape that is visible from space. This incidental landscape protection came to a swift end, however, after diseases brought by Spanish colonists decimated the local population and after colonial officials resettled the survivors inland. Without humans to create the protective covering, newly formed beach ridges simply eroded and vanished."

Mysterious Disease May Be Carried by the Wind

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the blowing-in-the-wind dept.

Japan 72

bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes "Kawasaki disease is a mysterious condition that results in alarming rashes, inflammation and sometimes early death. It sickens 12,000 children a year in Japan and is suspected to arrive there and elsewhere by the wind. Now, researchers have narrowed the source to croplands in northern China and offered some possible explanations as to its cause."

As NASA Seeks Next Mission, Russia Holds the Trump Card

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the catbird-seat dept.

NASA 250

Geoffrey.landis (926948) writes "After the space shuttle retired in 2011, Russia has hiked the price of a trip to the International Space Station, to $71 million per seat. Less well recognized is the disparity in station crews. Before the shuttle stopped flying, an equal number of American and Russian crew members lived on board. But afterwards the bear began squeezing. For every two NASA astronauts that have flown to the station, three Russians have gone. Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this?"

ESA's Cryosat Mission Sees Antarctic Ice Losses Double

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.

Earth 162

An anonymous reader writes in with news that seems to confirm the alarming reports last week about Antarctic ice melting. "The new assessment comes from Europe's Cryosat spacecraft, which has a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet. The melt loss from the White Continent is sufficient to push up global sea levels by around 0.43mm per year. Scientists report the data in the journal Geophysical Research Letters (abstract). The new study incorporates three years of measurements from 2010 to 2013, and updates a synthesis of observations made by other satellites over the period 2005 to 2010. Cryosat has been using its altimeter to trace changes in the height of the ice sheet — as it gains mass through snowfall, and loses mass through melting."

NASA Looks To Volcanic Rocks As Target For Next Mars Rover

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the get-cracking dept.

Mars 33

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "At a 3-day workshop, planetary scientists advocated for igneous rock–bearing landing sites as high-priority targets for NASA's next Mars rover mission, scheduled to launch in 2020. The $1.5 billion rover, a near-copy of the Curiosity rover, will collect about 30 samples of rock and soil for eventual return to Earth. Mineralized fracture zones at such sties may have been home at one time hydrothermal systems, with hot, fluid-filled fractures. Hydrothermal sites on Earth harbor ecosystems with extremophilic microbes."

Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the give-me-my-holodeck dept.

Science 223

An anonymous reader writes "Imperial College London physicists have discovered how to create matter from light — a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorized 80 years ago. From the article: 'A pair of researchers predicted a method for turning light into matter 80 years ago, and now a new team of scientists are proposing a technique that could make that method happen in the purest way yet. The proposed method involves colliding two photons — the massless particles of light — that have extremely high energies to transform them into two particles with mass, and researchers in the past have been able to prove that it works. But in replicating that old method, known as Breit–Wheeler pair production, they had to introduce particles that did have mass into the process. Imperial College London researchers, however, say that it's now possible to create a collider that only includes photons.'"

James Cameron and Eric Schmidt's SOI Grieve Loss of Nereus ROV

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the so-long-farewell dept.

Science 72

theodp (442580) writes "Wealthy guys love extreme submarines, observed Billionaire in 2012. And the Washington Post reported that deep sea exploration is getting to be a rich man's game in 2013. The NY Times also covered the privatization of American science earlier this year. So, it's not too surprising to see the [Google Chair Eric] Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) post filmmaker James Cameron's eulogy-of-sorts for the loss of the Nereus ROV, the hybrid remotely operated vehicle that's believed to have imploded under 16,000 PSI of pressure at a depth of 9,990 meters as it explored the Kermadec Trench. 'I feel like I've lost a friend,' wrote Cameron. 'I always dreamed of making a joint dive with Nereus and [Cameron's] Deepsea Challenger at hadal depth.' Also feeling Cameron's pain is SOI, which used the Nereus to explore the Mid-Cayman Rise in 2013 and had plans to use the $6 million HROV again to explore the Mariana Trench in two missions later this year. SOI is currently working with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to build the world's most advanced deep-diving robotic vehicle for use on SOI's ship R/V Falkor, which Wendy Schmidt indicated provides ship time that enables researchers to tap into available funding."

Radioactivity Cleanup At Hanford Nuclear Reservation, 25 Years On

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the get-scrubbing dept.

Earth 123

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington was supposed to be entering its final stages by now. The reality is far from that. The cleanup was to be managed under the 'Tri-Party Agreement', signed on May 15, 1989, which was supposed to facilitate cooperation between the agencies involved. Today, underfunded and overwhelmed by technical problems, the effort is decades behind schedule. Adding to the frustrations for stakeholders and watchdogs is a bureaucratic slipperiness on the part of the Federal Department of Energy. As one watchdog put it, 'We are constantly frustrated by how easily the Department of Energy slips out of agreements in the Tri-Party Agreement.'"

Studies: Wildfires Worse Due To Global Warming

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.

Earth 379

An anonymous reader writes "According to scientists we can look forward to more devastating wildfires like the ones scorching Southern California because of global warming. "The fires in California and here in Arizona are a clear example of what happens as the Earth warms, particularly as the West warms, and the warming caused by humans is making fire season longer and longer with each decade," said University of Arizona geoscientist Jonathan Overpeck. "It's certainly an example of what we'll see more of in the future.""

SpaceX Cargo Capsule Leaves Space Station For Home

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the home-sweet-home dept.

Space 56

An anonymous reader writes "The commercial cargo ship Dragon left the International Space Station, and is heading home with nearly two tons of science experiments and old equipment. From the article: 'The unpiloted Dragon departed the International Space Station at 9:26 a.m. EDT to begin a trip expected to culminate just after 3 p.m. with a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, about 300 miles west of Baja California. NASA astronaut and station commander Steve Swanson controlled a 58-foot robotic arm that pulled the Dragon from its Harmony node port at 8 a.m., then released the capsule into space 266 miles over the ocean south of Australia.'"

Static Electricity Defies Simple Explanation

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the mr.-wizard-lied-to-me dept.

Science 86

sciencehabit writes: "If you've ever wiggled a balloon against your hair, you know that rubbing together two different materials can generate static electricity. But rubbing bits of the same material can create static, too. Now, researchers have shot down a decades-old idea of how that same-stuff static comes about (study). '[The researchers] mixed grains of insulating zirconium dioxide-silicate with diameters of 251 micrometers and 326 micrometers and dropped them through a horizontal electric field, which pushed positively charged particles one way and negatively charged particles the other. They tracked tens of thousands of particles—by dropping an $85,000 high-speed camera alongside them. Sure enough, the smaller ones tended to be charged negatively and the larger ones positively, each accumulating 2 million charges on average. Then the researchers probed whether those charges could come from electrons already trapped on the grains' surfaces. They gently heated fresh grains to liberate the trapped electrons and let them "relax" back into less energetic states. As an electron undergoes such a transition, it emits a photon. So by counting photons, the researchers could tally the trapped electrons. "It's pretty amazing to me that they count every electron on a particle," Shinbrot says. The tally showed that the beads start out with far too few trapped electrons to explain the static buildup, Jaeger says.'"

Biggest Dinosaur Yet Discovered

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-boat dept.

News 113

An anonymous reader quote the BBC: "Fossilised bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth have been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say. Based on its huge thigh bones, it was 40m (130ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall. Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and seven tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus. Scientists believe it is a new species of titanosaur — an enormous herbivore dating from the Late Cretaceous period. A local farm worker first stumbled on the remains in the desert near La Flecha, about 250km (135 miles) west of Trelew, Patagonia."

Discrete Logarithm Problem Partly Solved -- Time To Drop Some Crypto Methods?

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the now-let's-be-paranoid-that-the-NSA-solved-it-years-ago dept.

Math 114

An anonymous reader points out this Science Daily report: "Researchers ... have solved one aspect of the discrete logarithm problem. This is considered to be one of the 'holy grails' of algorithmic number theory, on which the security of many cryptographic systems used today is based. They have devised a new algorithm that calls into question the security of one variant of this problem, which has been closely studied since 1976. The result ... discredits several cryptographic systems that until now were assumed to provide sufficient security safeguards. Although this work is still theoretical, it is likely to have repercussions especially on the cryptographic applications of smart cards, RFID chips , etc."

Measles Virus Puts Woman's Cancer Into Remission

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the fighting-fire-with-slightly-cooler-fire dept.

Medicine 74

clm1970 sends news that researchers from Mayo Clinic have successfully put a patient's cancer into remission using a modified measles virus. The researchers are quick to note that further trials are needed to determine whether these results are repeatable. Here are the two academic papers. "Multiple myeloma in a 49-year-old woman seemed to disappear after she received an extremely high-dose injection of a measles virus engineered to kill the cancer cells. Multiple myeloma affects immune cells called plasma cells, which concentrate in the soft tissue, or marrow, inside bones. A second woman also with multiple myeloma began responding to the therapy, but her cancer eventually returned. Four other patients who received the high-dose therapy had no response. .. [Dr. Stephen Russell] and colleagues believe the two women who showed some response had few or no circulating measles antibodies, which might eliminate the engineered virus before it has a chance to kill the cancer cells. The therapy will now enter a mid-stage trial to see whether more patients with low circulating antibodies respond to high-doses of the virus, he said."

NASA's Broken Planet-hunter Spacecraft Given Second Life

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the right-on dept.

Space 55

coondoggie writes "NASA today said it would fund the technology fixes required to make its inoperative Kepler space telescope active again and able to hunt for new planets and galaxies. Kepler, you may recall, was rendered inoperable after the second of four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft for extended periods of time, failed last year, ending data collection for the original mission. The spacecraft required three working wheels to maintain the precision pointing necessary to detect the signal of small Earth-sized exoplanets."

Climate Journal Publishes Referees' Report In Response To "Witch-Hunt" Claims

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the see-here-are-the-reasons dept.

Earth 330

Sockatume (732728) writes "The resignation of Prof. Lennart Bengtsson from an anti-global-warming think tank has triggered widespread outrage in the British tabloids, with the University of Bristol Professor blaming his departure on a 'witch-hunt' environment amongst climate scientists and the rejection of one of his papers. The UK's Times quotes a passage from the reviewer comments in support of this, in which it is claimed that the paper was rejected for being 'unhelpful to their cause.' In response, that journal's publisher has taken the rare step of publishing the referees' report in full. The report describes Bengtsson's paper as a 'simplistic comparison of ranges from AR4, AR5, and Otto et al [data sets], combined with the statement they they are inconsistent,' 'where no consistency was to be expected in the first place' and therefore is not publishable research. The referee adds a number of possible areas of discussion which would allow Bengtsson to make the same data into a publishable paper, but warns that publishing it in its current state 'opens the door for oversimplified claims of errors and worse from the climate sceptics media.'"

The Shrinking Giant Red Spot of Jupiter

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the getting-small dept.

Space 160

schwit1 (797399) writes "Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot — a swirling storm feature larger than Earth — is shrinking. This downsizing, which is changing the shape of the spot from an oval into a circle, has been known about since the 1930s, but now these striking new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images capture the spot at a smaller size than ever before."

DogeCoin To the Moon Via a Google Lunar X PRIZE Team

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the cheaper-than-a-superbowl-ad dept.

Moon 35

anzha (138288) writes "After sponsoring a NASCAR racer, DogeCoin's community has wondered, 'What next?' The answer is literally 'To The Moon!' RevUp Render is sponsoring a DogeCoin promoting micro rover challenge, the Lunar Iditarod. The micro rovers, called DogeSleds, are the size of an smart phone and will be first qualified and then raced here on Earth. The top three competitors will be placed on a Google Lunar X PRIZE team's lunar lander to conduct a short, nine meter race on the moon itself. Registration opens on May 21st and closes July 31st for the first race. The first quarterly race will take place September 5th through September 7th. The event will be public and in the San Francisco Bay Area. All teams, international and American, are welcome, but be forewarned, all fees are in...dogecoin!"

The Physics of Hot Pockets

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the when-you-absolutely-have-to-eat dept.

Idle 222

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "You've all had the experience: you're all excited to microwave your favorite snack. So you pull it out of the freezer, you throw it in, and you let it rip. A minute or two later, you pull it out, and there it is: boiling on the outside, frozen in the middle. Finally, a physicist answers the eternal question: why do microwaved foods remain frozen on the inside when they reach scalding temperatures on the outskirts? Starts With A Bang explains the whole phenomenon. Bonus for the crisping sleeve explanation!"

How Predictable Is Evolution?

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the step-by-step dept.

Science 209

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If the clock rewound, would organisms evolve the same way they did before? Humble stick insects may hold the answer to that long-running question in biology. Through studies of these bugs, whose bodies match the leaves the insects live on, researchers have found that although groups of the bug have evolved similar appearances, they achieved that mostly via different changes in their DNA. 'I think it says that repeatability of evolution is very low,' says Andrew Hendry, an evolutionary biologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who was not involved with the work."

IBM Discovers New Class of Polymers

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the brand-new dept.

IBM 90

Charliemopps (1157495) writes "IBM Research has published a new paper to the journal Science which describes a newly discovered class of Industrial Polymers that promise to revolutionize the fields of transportation, aerospace, and microelectronics. These materials resist cracking, have strength higher than that of bone, the ability to self-heal, and are completely recyclable. 'Codenamed Titan and Hydro, both of which came from the same reaction. One is rigid; it could become part of the next generation of computers. The other is a gel, so it it could be included in water-soluble nail polish.'"

Air Force Prepares to Dismantle HAARP

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the so-long-farewell dept.

United States 178

First time accepted submitter registrations_suck (1075251) writes in with news about the dismantling of the HAARP project. The U.S. Air Force gave official notice to Congress Wednesday that it intends to dismantle the $300 million High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona this summer. The shutdown of HAARP, a project created by the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he wielded great control over the U.S. defense budget, will start after a final research experiment takes place in mid-June, the Air Force said in a letter to Congress Tuesday. While the University of Alaska has expressed interest in taking over the research site, which is off the Tok Cutoff, in an area where black spruce was cleared a quarter-century ago for the Air Force Backscatter radar project that was never completed. But the school has not volunteered to pay $5 million a year to run HAARP. Responding to questions from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski during a Senate hearing Wednesday, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, said this is 'not an area that we have any need for in the future' and it would not be a good use of Air Force research funds to keep HAARP going. 'We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do,' he said. 'To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed.' Comments of that sort have given rise to endless conspiracy theories, portraying HAARP as a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes."

Cellular Compound May Increase Lifespan Without the Need For Strict Dieting

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the do-you-want-to-live-forever? dept.

Biotech 66

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Every day, our cells manufacture small amounts of a molecule that, in higher doses, might be the key to leading a longer, healthier life. A team of researchers has found that this molecule boosts the lifespan of worms by more than 50%, raising the possibility that it will increase human longevity. Dietary supplements that contain the molecule and allegedly build muscle are already on the market. The study drops a barbell on their use, however, by suggesting that the molecule may actually thwart muscle growth."

Humans Causing California's Mountains To Grow

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the not-just-for-evil-masterminds-anymore dept.

Earth 36

New submitter Megan Sever writes: "This is a cool story about anthropogenic effects of water withdrawal moving mountains — literally. According to new research published today (abstract) and reported in EARTH Magazine, humans have been causing the Sierra Nevada mountains to rise. By withdrawing water for irrigation and other purposes, we have inadvertently removed water from the mountains, allowing them to uplift. The research shows a seasonal and annual cycle."

Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the fifth-dimensional-hyper-worm dept.

Space 293

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "There is growing evidence that the center of the Milky Way contains a mysterious object some 4 million times more massive than the Sun. Many astronomers believe that this object, called Sagittarius A*, is a supermassive black hole that was crucial in the galaxy's birth and formation. The thinking is that about 100 million years after the Big Bang, this supermassive object attracted the gas and dust that eventually became the Milky Way. But there is a problem with this theory--100 million years is not long enough for a black hole to grow so big. The alternative explanation is that Sagittarius A* is a wormhole that connects the Milky Way to another region of the universe or even a another multiverse. Cosmologists have long known that wormholes could have formed in the instants after the Big Bang and that these objects would have been preserved during inflation to appear today as supermassive objects hidden behind an event horizon, like black holes. It's easy to imagine that it would be impossible to tell these objects apart. But astronomers have now worked out that wormholes are smaller than black holes and so bend light from an object orbiting close to them, such as a plasma cloud, in a unique way that reveals their presence. They've even simulated what such a wormhole will look like. No telescope is yet capable of resolving images like these but that is set to change too. An infrared instrument called GRAVITY is currently being prepared for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer in Chile and should be in a position to spot the signature of a wormhole, if it is there, in the next few years."

Interviews: Ask Former Director of JPL Edward Stone About Space Exploration

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.

NASA 58

Edward Stone is a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology who has served as project scientist for the Voyager program from 1972 to the present. Since the launch of the two Voyager spacecraft in 1977, Stone has coordinated the efforts of 11 teams of scientists in their investigations of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. He served as director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1991 to 2001. Highlights of his career include: Galileo's five-year orbital mission to Jupiter, the launch of Cassini to Saturn, the launch of Mars Global Surveyor and a new generation of Earth science satellites such as TOPEX/Poseidon and SeaWinds, and the successful Mars Pathfinder landing in 1997. Dr. Stone has agreed to sit down with us and answer any questions you may have about his time at JPL and space exploration. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Momentous Big Bang Findings Questioned

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the science-is-self-correcting dept.

Space 154

sciencehabit writes "The biggest discovery in cosmology in a decade could turn out to be an experimental artifact, according to a report by a physics blogger. The blogger says the BICEP group — the team behind the huge announcement of the moments after the Big Bang a few weeks back — had subtracted the wrong Planck measurement of foreground radiation in deriving its famous evidence for gravitational waves. As a result, the calculation is invalid and the so-called evidence inconclusive. Intriguingly, the BICEP team has yet to flat-out deny this."

DIY Lab Tests Getting More Capable

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the pass-me-the-medical-tricorder dept.

Biotech 85

the_newsbeagle writes "People who are into the quantified health trend can already measure and chart a wide variety of metrics — steps taken, calories burned, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, etc can all be tracked using new gadgets. Now a new device called Cue lets people track their biochemical stats, too. Cue offers five DIY lab tests, automates the testing procedure, and sends the results to the user's smartphone. It lets guys check their testosterone levels, ladies check their fertility status, and also offers tests for the flu virus, vitamin D levels, and an inflammation-marker protein. Apparently more tests are expected down the line."

Russia Bans US Use of Its Rocket Engines For Military Launches

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the escalating-the-situation-by-not-allowing-escalation dept.

Space 522

schwit1 sends word that Russia will now ban U.S. military satellite launches using Russian-made rockets. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, this is retaliation for U.S. sanctions on high-tech items, put in place because of the dispute in the Ukraine. Rogozin also threatened to block U.S. plans to keep using the International Space Station beyond its 2020 mission end date. That's not all: 'Rogozin also said Russia will suspend the operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russia from June and seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the United States for Russia's own system, Glonass. He threatened the permanent closure of the GPS sites in Russia if that is not agreed by September.'

What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze?

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the should-have-discovered-coal-earlier dept.

Earth 258

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Things were looking up for Earth about 12,800 years ago. The last Ice Age was coming to an end, mammoths and other large mammals romped around North America, and humans were beginning to settle down and cultivate wild plants. Then, suddenly, the planet plunged into a deep freeze, returning to near-glacial temperatures for more than a millennium before getting warm again. The mammoths disappeared at about the same time, as did a major Native American culture that thrived on hunting them. A persistent band of researchers has blamed this apparent disaster on the impact of a comet or asteroid, but a new study concludes that the real explanation for the chill, at least, may lie strictly with Earth-bound events."

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.

Earth 784

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday. The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis."

Virgin Galactic Passengers May Just Miss Going into Space

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the close-but-no-cigar dept.

Space 203

DavidGilbert99 (2607235) writes "According to the customer contract those signing up for a $240,000 flight on Virgin Galactic's spaceship the company will bring you 'at least 50 miles' above sea level. The problem is that the internationally accepted boundary for outer space is 62 miles above sea level — known as the Karman Line. Virgin is trying to get around the issue by claiming it is using a definition of space used by NASA — in the 1960s."

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Loses Deep Sea Vehicle

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the davy-jones's-locker dept.

Science 93

First time accepted submitter Mr D from 63 (3395377) writes in with news about a WHOI vehicle that has been feared lost. "On Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 2 p.m. local time (10 p.m. Friday EDT), the hybrid remotely operated vehicle Nereus was confirmed lost at 9,990 meters (6.2 miles) depth in the Kermadec Trench northeast of New Zealand. The unmanned vehicle was working as part of a mission to explore the ocean's hadal region from 6,000 to nearly 11,000 meters deep. Scientists say a portion of it likely imploded under pressure as great as 16,000 pounds per square inch."

Astronomers Identify the Sun's Long-Lost Sister

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the star-family dept.

Space 69

An anonymous reader writes "A team of researchers led by astronomer Ivan Ramirez of the University of Texas — Austin has identified the first 'sibling' of the sun, a star almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star. 'Astronomers had been observing the star for almost two decades without realizing it's the long-lost sister of the Sun. No doubt we have catalogued other solar siblings whose common heritage has yet to be discovered. Indeed, the UT team, lead by astronomer Ivan Ramirez, is confident that the identification of HD 162826 is just the beginning. "We want to know where we were born," Ramirez said in a statement. "If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the Sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here."'"

Harvard Study Links Neonicotinoid Pesticide To Colony Collapse Disorder

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-bees? dept.

Earth 217

walterbyrd (182728) writes in with news about a new study from Harvard School of Public Health that links two widely used neonicotinoids to Colony Collapse Disorder. "Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or the widespread population loss of honeybees, may have been caused by the use of neonicotinoids, according to a new study out of Harvard University. Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine. They were first developed for agricultural use in the 1980's by petroleum giant Shell. The pesticides were refined by Bayer the following decade. Two of these chemicals are now believed to be the cause of CCD, according to the new study from the School of Public Health at the university. This study replicated their own research performed in 2012."

Electric Stimulation Could Help You Control Your Dreams

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the lets-get-lucid dept.

Medicine 138

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new study suggests that mild current applied to the scalp while sleeping can help people become aware of, and even control, their dreams—a phenomenon called lucid dreaming. Researchers recruited 27 men and women to spend several nights in a German sleep lab. After the volunteers had plunged into REM sleep, a state in which people are unable to move and the most vividly recalled dreams occur, researchers applied electrical current to their skulls near the forehead and temples. This boosted neural activity in the frontotemporal cortex, a brain region associated with conscious self-awareness, which normally gets tamped down during REM. Researchers then woke the participants and asked them to detail any dreams they could remember. People who had received 40 Hz of current were lucid in more than 70% of their reported dreams. The researchers suggest that the technique could potentially be used to help people who suffer from chronic nightmares."

Scientists Discover Nickel-Eating Plant Species

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the what's-for-dessert? dept.

Science 57

An anonymous reader writes "A new species of metal-eating plant has been discovered in the Philippines, and the plant loves to eat nickel. From the article: 'Scientists from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños have discovered Rinorea niccolifera, a plant species that accumulates up to 18,000 ppm of the metal in its leaves without poisoning itself, according to Edwino Fernando, lead author of the report and professor, said in a statement. Fernando and his team say that the hyper-accumulation of nickel is a very rare phenomenon, with only about 0.5 percent to 1 percent of plant species native to environments with nickel-rich soil.'"

Norwegian Infectious Disease Specialists Have New Theory On HIV In Africa

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the snail-problem dept.

Medicine 118

mdsolar (1045926) writes in about a Norwegian team who believe they have an explanation about the unique distribution of HIV in Africa. "While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one. In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa's rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation. It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year. The Norwegian team believes that African women are more vulnerable to H.I.V. because of a chronic, undiagnosed parasitic disease: genital schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis), often nicknamed 'schisto.' The disease, also known as bilharzia and snail fever, is caused by parasitic worms picked up in infested river water. It is marked by fragile sores in the far reaches of the vaginal canal that may serve as entry points for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Eyrun F. Kjetland, who leads the Otimati team, says that it is more common than syphilis or herpes, which can also open the way for H.I.V."

Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the in-the-case-of-science-v-politics dept.

Education 661

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Time Magazine reports that Wyoming, the nation's top coal-producing state, has become the first state to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a set of science standards developed by leading scientists and science educators from 26 states and built on a framework developed by the National Academy of Sciences. The Wyoming science standards revision committee made up entirely of Wyoming educators unanimously recommended adoption of these standards to the state Board of Education not once but twice and twelve states have already adopted the standards since they were released in April 2013. But opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn't be taught in a state that ranks first among all states in coal production, fifth in natural gas production and eighth in crude oil production deriving much of its school funding from the energy industry.

Amy Edmonds, of the Wyoming Liberty Group, says teaching 'one view of what is not settled science about global warming' is just one of a number of problems with the standards. 'I think Wyoming can do far better.' Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has called federal efforts to curtail greenhouse emissions a 'war on coal' and has said that he's skeptical about man-made climate change. Supporters of the NGSS say science standards for Wyoming schools haven't been updated since 2003 and are six years overdue. 'If you want the best science education for your children and grandchildren and you don't want any group to speak for you, then make yourselves heard loud and clear,' says Cate Cabot. 'Otherwise you will watch the best interests of Wyoming students get washed away in the hysteria of a small anti-science minority driven by a national right wing group – and political manipulation.'"

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the if-they-could-just-stop-texting-i'd-be-happy dept.

Transportation 490

Lasrick writes: "Joseph Stromberg at Vox makes a good case for changing traffic rules for bicyclists so that the 'Idaho stop' is legal. The Idaho stop allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs, and has created a safer ride for both cyclists and pedestrians. 'Public health researcher Jason Meggs found that after Idaho started allowing bikers to do this in 1982, injuries resulting from bicycle accidents dropped. When he compared recent census data from Boise to Bakersfield and Sacramento, California — relatively similar-sized cities with comparable percentages of bikers, topographies, precipitation patterns, and street layouts — he found that Boise had 30.5 percent fewer accidents per bike commuter than Sacramento and 150 percent fewer than Bakersfield.' Oregon was considering a similar law in 2009, and they made a nice video illustrating the Idaho Stop that is embedded in this article."

Physician Operates On Server, Costs His Hospital $4.8 Million

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the s'posed-to-bury-your-mistakes dept.

Privacy 143

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jaikumar Vijayan reports at Computerworld that a physician at Columbia University Medical Center (CU) attempted to "deactivate" a personally owned computer from a hospital network segment that contained sensitive patient health information, creating an inadvertent data leak that is going to cost the hospital $4.8 million to settle with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The error left patient status, vital signs, laboratory results, medication information, and other sensitive data on about 6,800 individuals accessible to all via the Web. The breach was discovered after the hospital received a complaint from an individual who discovered personal health information about his deceased partner on the Web. An investigation by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) found that neither Columbia University nor New York Presbyterian Hospital, who operated the network jointly, had implemented adequate security protections, or undertook a risk analysis or audit to identify the location of sensitive patient health information on the joint network. "For more than three years, we have been cooperating with HHS by voluntarily providing information about the incident in question," say the hospitals. "We also have continually strengthened our safeguards to enhance our information systems and processes, and will continue to do so under the terms of the agreement with HHS." HHS has also extracted settlements from several other healthcare entities over the past two years as it beefs up the effort to crack down on HIPAA violations. In April, it reached a $2 million settlement with with Concentra Health Services and QCA Health Plan. Both organizations reported losing laptops containing unencrypted patient data."

Luke Prosthetic Arm Approved By FDA

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the we-have-the-technology dept.

Biotech 59

necro81 writes: "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."

Physicists Turn 8MP Smartphone Camera Into a Quantum Random Number Generator

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the more-than-one-way-to-skin-schrodinger's-cat dept.

Encryption 104

KentuckyFC writes: "Random numbers are the lifeblood of many cryptographic systems and demand for them will only increase in the coming years as techniques such as quantum cryptography become mainstream. But generating genuinely random numbers is a tricky business, not least because it cannot be done with a deterministic process such as a computer program. Now physicists have worked out how to use a smartphone camera to generate random numbers using quantum uncertainties. The approach is based on the fact that the emission of a photon is a quantum process that is always random. So in a given unit of time, a light emitter will produce a number of photons that varies by a random amount. Counting the number of photons gives a straightforward way of generating random numbers. The team points out that the pixels in smartphone cameras are now so sensitive that they can pick up this kind of quantum variation. And since a camera has many pixels working in parallel, a single image can generate large quantities of random digits. The team demonstrates the technique in a proof-of principle experiment using the 8-megapixel camera on a Nokia N9 smartphone while taking images of a green LED. The result is a quantum random number generator capable of producing digits at the rate of 1 megabit per second. That's more than enough for most applications and raises the prospect of credit card transactions and encrypted voice calls from an ordinary smartphone that are secured by the laws of quantum physics."

As Species Decline, So Do the Scientists Who Name Them

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the end-of-the-line dept.

Earth 76

tcd004 (134130) writes "Few sciences are more romantic than taxonomy. Imagine Darwin, perched over a nest of newly-discovered birds in the Galapagos, sketching away with a charcoal in his immortal journals. Yet Taxonomy is a dying science. DNA barcoding, which can identify species from tiny fragments of organic material, and other genetic sciences are pulling students away from the classical studies of anatomy and species classifications. As the biodiversity crisis wipes undiscovered species off the planet, so to go the scientists who count them."

Scientists Create Bacteria With Expanded DNA Code

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the what-could-go-wrong? dept.

Biotech 85

perryizgr8 (1370173) writes "Biologists have managed to create a bacteria with DNA made of the usual A-T, C-G plus an artificial third base pair, thus encoding more data in DNA. From the article: 'The scientists behind the work at the Scripps Research Institute have already formed a company to try to use the technique to develop new antibiotics, vaccines and other products, though a lot more work needs to be done before this is practical. The work also gives some support to the concept that life can exist elsewhere in the universe using genetics different from those on Earth. “This is the first time that you have had a living cell manage an alien genetic alphabet,” said Steven A. Benner, a researcher in the field at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., who was not involved in the new work.'"

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