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  • SpaceX capsule splashes down in Pacific with space station cargo

    The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm at the International Space Station in this NASA handout photoBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A Space Exploration Technologies Dragon cargo capsule made a parachute splashdown into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, wrapping up a five-week stay at the International Space Station. The capsule blasted off on April 14 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and arrived at the orbiting outpost three days later with more than 4,300 pounds (1,950 kg) of food, supplies and science experiments for the live-aboard crew. It was repacked with 3,100 pounds of science samples and other equipment and released back into orbit at 7:04 a.m. EDT (1104 GMT) on Thursday for a return trip to Earth, a NASA TV broadcast showed.


  • Bowwow wow! Dog domestication much older than previously known

    The lower jawbone of the Taimyr Wolf that lived approximately 27,000 to 40,000 years agoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Genetic information from a 35,000-year-old wolf bone found below a frozen cliff in Siberia is shedding new light on humankind's long relationship with dogs, showing canine domestication may have occurred earlier than previously thought. Scientists said on Thursday they pieced together the genome of the wolf that lived on Russia's Taimyr Peninsula and found that it belonged to a population that likely represented the most recent common ancestor between dogs and wolves. Using this genetic information, they estimated that dog domestication occurred between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago.


  • Scientists want you to know plankton is not just whale food

    Handout of scientists aboard the Tara Oceans vessel use plankton nets to strain microbes from seawaterBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists on Thursday unveiled the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of the world's ocean plankton, the tiny organisms that serve as food for marine creatures such as the blue whale, but also provide half the oxygen we breathe. Plankton include microscopic plants and animals, fish larvae, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that drift in the oceans. "Plankton are much more than just food for the whales," said Chris Bowler, a research director at France's National Center for Scientific Research, and one of the scientists involved in the study published in the journal Science.


  • Lockheed-Boeing rocket venture needs commercial orders to survive By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Launch Alliance, a 50-50 joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, on Thursday said it would go out of business unless it won commercial and civil satellite launch orders to offset an expected slump in U.S. military and spy launches. ULA President Tory Bruno said the company must attract those kind of orders to remain a "viable economic entity" so it is scrambling to restructure and develop a new rocket that in seven or eight years could launch satellites twice as fast at half the current cost. Formed by the two largest U.S. weapons makers in 2006, ULA has long been the sole company able to launch U.S. military and intelligence satellites into orbit.
  • Mind-controlled prosthetic limbs allow precise, smooth movement

    Patient Erik Sorto takes a drink in this handout photoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than a decade after becoming paralyzed from the neck down, Erik Sorto has been unable to perform even the simplest of daily tasks. "That was the ultimate goal: to drink a beer by myself," said Sorto, a 34-year-old from Los Angeles who became a quadriplegic after a 2002 gunshot wound. Things may be looking up for Sorto and others with similar disabilities.


  • Memorial Day Meals: Expert Tips for Packing a Healthy Picnic Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of summer and perhaps the unofficial start of the outdoor eating season. Picnics are appealing, especially to people in colder climates who don't get many chances to eat outside in nice weather and enjoy a slow, relaxing meal, and they could also bring back childhood memories, said Sara Haas, a dietitian and chef in Chicago and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. So pack up the red-checkered tablecloth, coolers and picnic basket, and bring along family and friends.
  • Squid 'Sees' with Its Skin (No Eyes Needed) Squid, cuttlefish and octopuses are masters of camouflage, capable of changing their skin colors and patterns in the blink of an eye. Two new studies, published this week in the Journal of Experimental Biology, find that cephalopod skin is chock-full of light-sensing cells typically found in eyes that help them "see." The cells likely send signals to alter skin coloration without involving the central nervous system, the researchers said. "It may be that the patterning is just generated directly on the spot, just by the cells," said Tom Cronin, a biologist at the University of Maryland and an author of one of the studies.
  • Record-Breaking Energy Unleashed in Largest Atom Smasher

    Record-Breaking Energy Unleashed in Largest Atom SmasherThe world's largest atom smasher is really cranking now: Protons zipped around the giant underground ring at near light-speed and collided head on, releasing record-breaking energies. The beauty of the fallout from these powerful particle smash-ups can be seen in images released yesterday (May 21) by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which oversees the 17-mile-long (27 kilometers) Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This week during a test run, the protons sped into each other with energies of 13 tera-electronvolts (TeV), or double the collider's previous power.


  • See Jupiter and the Moon in Night Sky Spectacle Tonight

    See Jupiter and the Moon in Night Sky Spectacle TonightThere, about half way up from the south-southwest horizon to the overhead point, you’ll see an eye-catching sight for the Memorial Day weekend: Jupiter and the moon in a celestial display. Tonight, a rather wide crescent moon, 34-percent illuminated will be visible against the darkening sky and hovering about 3 degrees almost directly above this lunar sliver will be a brilliant silvery white "star." But this isn't a star, but the planet identified with the supreme sky-god, Jupiter. To judge how far apart Jupiter and the moon will appear in the sky, remember that your clenched fist, correctly held, will measure 10 degrees of the night sky.


  • What Are Those Bright Spots on Ceres? Go Vote!

    What Are Those Bright Spots on Ceres? Go Vote!The puzzling white spots on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres are definitely reflecting sunlight, scientists said, but the cause of the marks remains a mystery. The newest batch of images from the Dawn spacecraft, which began orbiting Ceres on March 6, was released May 15. With the release of these new images, NASA has asked the public to submit a guess for what is creating the spots: volcanos, geysers, rocks, ice, salt deposits, or "other." As of this writing, 37 percent of people who took NASA's poll for what the white spots might be said "other." Alien colonies, perhaps?


  • Prosecutors: Professor offered China data on US-made device PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The chairman of Temple University's physics department schemed to provide U.S. technology secrets to China in exchange for prestigious appointments for himself, federal authorities said in charging him with four counts of wire fraud.
  • Feds: Temple professor offered China data on US-made device The chairman of Temple University's physics department was arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to provide U.S. technology secrets to China in exchange for prestigious appointments. Xi Xiaoxing, ...
  • Ancient Wolf DNA Could Solve Dog Origin Mystery

    Ancient Wolf DNA Could Solve Dog Origin MysteryGenetic evidence from an ancient wolf bone discovered lying on the tundra in Siberia's Taimyr Peninsula reveals that wolves and dogs split from their common ancestor at least 27,000 years ago. "Although separation isn't the same as domestication, this opens up the possibility that domestication occurred much earlier than we thought before," said lead study author Pontus Skoglund, who studies ancient DNA at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute in Massachusetts. "Siberian huskies have a portion of their genome that traces back exclusively to this ancient Siberian wolf," Skoglund told Live Science.


  • Bowwow wow! Dog domestication much older than previously known

    The lower jawbone of the Taimyr Wolf that lived approximately 27,000 to 40,000 years agoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Genetic information from a 35,000-year-old wolf bone found below a frozen cliff in Siberia is shedding new light on humankind's long relationship with dogs, showing canine domestication may have occurred earlier than previously thought. Scientists said on Thursday they pieced together the genome of the wolf that lived on Russia's Taimyr Peninsula and found that it belonged to a population that likely represented the most recent common ancestor between dogs and wolves. Using this genetic information, they estimated that dog domestication occurred between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago.


  • Scientists reveal Washington state's first dinosaur SEATTLE (AP) — Scientists say they've discovered Washington state's first dinosaur fossil, an announcement that marks a unique find for the state and a rare moment for North America's Pacific coast.
  • Professor seeks retraction of Science article he co-authored NEW YORK (AP) — Citing irregularities on the part of his colleague, a prominent Columbia University professor has asked Science magazine to retract a study he co-authored last year about the ability of openly gay canvassers to shift voters' views toward support for same-sex marriage.
  • Dolphin die-off in Gulf of Mexico spurred by BP oil spill: scientists

    Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries photo of a stranded dead dolphin that came ashore in 2012By Letitia Stein TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A record dolphin die-off in the northern Gulf of Mexico was caused by the largest oil spill in U.S. history, researchers said on Wednesday, citing a new study that found many of the dolphins died with rare lesions linked to petroleum exposure. Scientists said the study of dead dolphins tissue rounded out the research into a spike of dolphin deaths in the region affected by BP Plc's oil spill that was caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Millions of barrels of crude oil spewed into Gulf waters, and a dolphin die-off was subsequently seen around coastal Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


  • Scientists to submit GM mustard report to government

    A farmer casts urea on her mustard field in the northern Indian city of AllahabadBy Krishna N. Das and Rupam Jain Nair NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian scientists have completed final trials of a genetically modified (GM) variety of mustard and will submit a report to the government in a month, hoping to win over stiff opposition to make it the country's first commercial transgenic food crop. A powerful farmers group close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is one of the biggest critics of GM crops and wants the government to stop all field trials saying they "will destroy the entire agrarian economy". Allowing GM crops is critical to Modi's goal of boosting farm productivity in India, where urbanization is devouring arable land and population growth will mean there are 1.5 billion mouths to feed by 2030 - more even than China.


  • Scientists watching Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano for new eruption (Reuters) - Scientists are closely watching a volcano on Hawaii's Big Island for a possible eruption after volatile changes in the level of a lake of lava on its summit and a series of earthquakes, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Monday. Observers said there was a chance of an eruption in the Southwest Rift Zone of the Kilauea Volcano, one of the most active in the world, accompanied by more earthquakes, according to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. "The overall evolution of unrest in Kilauea’s summit area and upper rift zones in the coming weeks to months is uncertain," the Hawaii Volcano Observatory said in a statement.
  • 'Home-brew' morphine from brewer's yeast now possible - study By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Home-brewing could soon take on a more dangerous twist: Scientists have engineered brewer's yeast to synthesize opioids such as codeine and morphine from a common sugar, an international team reported on Monday. "It is going to be possible to 'home-brew' opiates in the near future," Christopher Voight of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the research, told reporters. The process described in Nature Chemical Biology is inefficient, requiring 300 liters of genetically engineered yeast to produce a single 30 milligram dose of morphine. For centuries, morphine and other opioids have been the go-to drugs for pain relief.
  • U.S. science leaders to tackle ethics of gene-editing technology

    A DNA double helix in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute to ReutersThe leading U.S. scientific organization, responding to concerns expressed by scientists and ethicists, has launched an ambitious initiative to recommend guidelines for new genetic technology that has the potential to create "designer babies." The technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, allows scientists to edit virtually any gene they target. The technique has taken biology by storm, igniting fierce patent battles between start-up companies and universities that say it could prove as profitable and revolutionary as recombinant DNA technology, which was developed in the 1970s and 1980s and launched the biotechnology industry. In response, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and its Institute of Medicine will convene an international summit this fall where researchers and other experts will "explore the scientific, ethical, and policy issues associated with human gene-editing research," the academies said in a statement. In addition, NAS - an honorary body that was chartered by Congress in 1863 and performs studies for the federal government and others - will appoint a multidisciplinary, international committee to study the scientific basis and the ethical, legal, and social implications of human gene editing.


  • Oil CEO Hamm sought ouster of scientists looking at quakes: Bloomberg

    Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, speaks during the IHS CERAWeek 2015 energy conference in HoustonOilman Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc., told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that scientists studying links between oil drilling and earthquakes should be dismissed, Bloomberg News reported on Friday. Bloomberg, citing emails obtained through a public records request, said Hamm indicated he wanted to see some scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, which is based at the university, let go. Scientists have said the reinjection of drilling and fracking wastewater into disposal walls could be tied to earthquakes. Bloomberg said a university spokeswoman denied any interference from Hamm, who has been a donor to the university.


  • Strange Signal from Space May Solve One of Science's Greatest Mysteries

    Strange Signal from Space May Solve One of Science's Greatest MysteriesA clue to one of the biggest questions in cosmology — why regular matter, rather than antimatter, survived to fill the universe — may have been found in data from a NASA space telescope. A new study suggests that gamma-rays (high-energy light) detected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope show signs of the existence of a magnetic field that originated mere nanoseconds after the Big Bang. In addition, the researchers on the new study speculate that the magnetic field carries evidence of the fact that there is far more matter than antimatter in our universe. The detection of the signal in the Fermi data is currently too weak to be claimed as a "discovery," and no other solid evidence of an early-universe magnetic field exists.


  • Science of 'the Dress': Why We Confuse White & Gold with Blue & Black It's been well-documented that people can see shapes and colors differently, but "the dress" is perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of a difference in color perception, the researchers said. People who saw the dress as a white-gold color probably assumed it was lit by daylight, so their brains ignored shorter, bluer wavelengths.
  • Cleveland Clinic partners with Venter's firm for sequencing study

    Vials of blood samples are seen during a blood donation drive for medical staff at a hospital in FuzhouBy Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Genome pioneer J. Craig Venter's company has signed a broad collaboration agreement with the Cleveland Clinic to sequence and analyze de-identified blood samples from the health system's patients, the two parties said on Thursday. The two organizations will apply whole genome, cancer and microbiome sequencing with the goal of discovering new disease genes and disease pathways associated with heart disease. The deal is the latest in a string for Venter's La Jolla, California-based Human Longevity Inc (HLI), a start-up formed in March 2014 with the goal of sequencing 1 million genomes by 2020.In January, Venter's company signed a multi-year deal to sequence and analyze tens of thousands of genomes for Roche's Genentech unit in a deal aimed at identifying new drug targets and biomarkers. In a recent interview, Venter said his company was in talks with eight other entities for similar arrangements.


  • How DNA sequencing is transforming the hunt for new drugs

    Technician Mike Lattari prepares a flow cell slide for loading onto a genetic sequencing machine at a Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. laboratory at the biotechnology company's headquarters in TarrytownThe efforts will help researchers identify rare genetic mutations by scanning large databases of volunteers who agree to have their DNA sequenced and to provide access to detailed medical records. It is made possible by the dramatically lower cost of genetic sequencing - it took government-funded scientists $3 billion and 13 years to sequence the first human genome by 2003. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, which signed a deal with Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System in January 2014 to sequence partial genomes of some 250,000 volunteers, is already claiming discoveries based on the new approach. Company executives told Reuters they have used data from the first 35,000 volunteers to confirm the promise of 250 genes on a list of targets for drugs aimed at common medical conditions, including high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.


  • Factbox: How companies are mining patient DNA, data for drugs Until recently, whole genome sequencing - technology that allows researchers to map all of an individual's 20,500 genes - was prohibitively expensive, costing about $20,000 just five years ago. Genentech is also working with privately-held 23andMe to generate whole genome sequencing data for about 3,000 people with Parkinson's disease to identify new treatments for the degenerative neurological condition.
  • Insight: How DNA sequencing is transforming the hunt for new drugs

    Senior scientist Claude Murat uses liquid nitrogen to extract DNA from a sample of truffle at a laboratory of the INRA in Champenoux near NancyThe efforts will help researchers identify rare genetic mutations by scanning large databases of volunteers who agree to have their DNA sequenced and to provide access to detailed medical records. It is made possible by the dramatically lower cost of genetic sequencing - it took government-funded scientists $3 billion and 13 years to sequence the first human genome by 2003. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, which signed a deal with Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System in January 2014 to sequence partial genomes of some 250,000 volunteers, is already claiming discoveries based on the new approach. Company executives told Reuters they have used data from the first 35,000 volunteers to confirm the promise of 250 genes on a list of targets for drugs aimed at common medical conditions, including high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.


  • FBI hair analysis problems reveal limits of forensic science

    In this photo taken April 30, 2015, Kirk Odom speaks to The Associated Press at his home in southeast in Washington, Thursday, April 30, 2015. Odom was convicted of a 1981 rape and robbery after a woman identified him as her attacker and an FBI specialist testified that hair on her nightgown was consistent with hair on Odom’s head. But DNA testing some 30 years later affirmed what Odom long had maintained: The hair wasn’t his, nor was the semen left on a pillowcase and robe. A felony conviction that imprisoned him for decades was overturned in 2012 by a judge who declared it a “grave miscarriage of justice.” (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)WASHINGTON (AP) — Kirk Odom was convicted of a 1981 rape and robbery after a woman identified him as her attacker and an FBI specialist testified that hair on her nightgown was similar to hair on Odom's head.


  • Endangered Elephants Could Find Savior in Chinese Chat Sites (Op-Ed)

    Endangered Elephants Could Find Savior in Chinese Chat Sites (Op-Ed)Aili Kang is director of the China Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), where she has worked for 16 years. In 2008, Kang received the Global Young Conservationist Award from the Society of Conservation Biology. Kang contributed this article, as part of a series from WCS on women in conservation, to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Though I'm a trained scientist, social media is my platform, and that platform can have a significant impact on conservation.


  • Advanced Alien Civilizations Still Science Fiction — For Now

    Advanced Alien Civilizations Still Science Fiction — For NowA wide-ranging search of faraway galaxies has turned up no obvious signs of advanced alien civilizations. A team of scientists dug through observations made by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft, hunting for telltale heat signatures coming from 100,000 galaxies— a strategy suggested by theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson back in the 1960s. "Whether an advanced spacefaring civilization uses the large amounts of energy from its galaxy's stars to power computers, spaceflight, communication or something we can't yet imagine, fundamental thermodynamics tells us that this energy must be radiated away as heat in the midinfrared wavelengths," study co-author Jason Wright, of Pennsylvania State University, said in a statement. The team found no smoking guns during this pilot study, known as the Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies Survey (G-HAT).


  • Snapshot of a Storm: Scientists Capture 1st 'Image' of Thunder

    Snapshot of a Storm: Scientists Capture 1st 'Image' of ThunderLightning strikes Earth more than 4 million times every day, but the physics behind these electric bolts and their accompanying thunder is still poorly understood. Scientists at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas, generated artificial lightning by launching a tiny rocket trailing a grounded copper wire into the clouds. "The initial constructed images looked like a colorful piece of modern art that you could hang over your fireplace," said Maher A. Dayeh, a research scientist in the Space Science Department at SwRI.


  • Amazing Images of Proteins May Help Scientists Design Drugs

    Amazing Images of Proteins May Help Scientists Design DrugsThis unprecedented view of the molecular world may help researchers design drugs and understand how medications interact with the environment in the human body, the researchers said in their report on the technique, published online today (May 7) in the journal Science Express. "This represents a new era in imaging of proteins in humans with immense implications for drug design," Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.


  • Giant Whales' Mouths Have Unique Nerves: They Stretch

    Giant Whales' Mouths Have Unique Nerves: They StretchResearchers discovered the surprisingly elastic nerves after collecting samples from a commercial whaling station in Iceland. "This discovery was totally unexpected and unlike other nerve structures we've seen in vertebrates, which are of a more fixed length," said Wayne Vogl, a professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Rorqual whales represent the largest group among baleen whales, tipping the scales at 40 to 80 tons.


  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's Science Talk Show Gets 2nd Season

    Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's Science Talk Show Gets 2nd SeasonNeil deGrasse Tyson's late-night, science-themed talk show, "StarTalk," has been renewed for a second season by the National Geographic Channel.


  • Autism Truths and Myths: The State of the Science (Op-Ed)

    Autism Truths and Myths: The State of the Science (Op-Ed)Francesca Happé is president of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) and director of the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London. Autism is everywhere. Characters with autism, especially high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome, abound in TV shows, films and novels. You can barely look at a newspaper, magazine or newsfeed without finding something about autism: a new "miracle cure," a claim that "the gene for autism" has been discovered, or talk of scientists creating autistic mice.


  • Some Native Hawaiians see telescope as science learning boon

    FILE - This undated file artist rendering made available by the TMT Observatory Corporation shows the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope, planned to be built atop Mauna Kea, a large dormant volcano in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. Some opponents of the construction of one of the world's largest telescopes describe fighting the telescope as an “awakening,” an issue Native Hawaiians can band together against. But their reasons vary, from preventing Mauna Kea’s desecration to preserving culture to curbing development. (TMT Observatory Corporation via AP, File) NO SALESHONOLULU (AP) — Before going up to Mauna Kea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island, Heather Kaluna makes an offering to Poliahu, the snow goddess of the mountain. She holds it sacred, as do other Native Hawaiians.


  • The Future Envisioned at Museum of Science Fiction (Op-Ed)

    The Future Envisioned at Museum of Science Fiction (Op-Ed)David Brin is an American scientist and award-winning author of science fiction. Brin is also an advisory board member to the Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, D.C. Greg Viggiano is the executive director for the museum. The Museum of Science Fiction's first home will be a modular preview museum, which will open in late 2015 in nearby Arlington, Va., and remain in place until the creation of the full-scale museum facility is completed about four years later.