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- Elon Musk outlines Mars colonization plan
By Irene Klotz GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters) - SpaceX is developing a massive rocket and capsule to transport large numbers of people and cargo to Mars with the ultimate goal of colonizing the planet, company chief and tech billionaire Elon Musk said on Tuesday. Musk outlined his plans for the Mars rocket, capable of carrying 100 passengers plus cargo per voyage, even as SpaceX is still investigating why a different rocket carrying a $200 million Israeli satellite blew up on a launch pad in Florida earlier this month. "You can't create a self sustaining civilization if the ticket price is $10 billion per person," he said during a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Guadalajara.
- Hubble spots evidence of water plumes on Jupiter's moon Europa
Astronomers on Monday said they have spotted evidence of water vapor plumes rising from Jupiter's moon Europa, a finding that might make it easier to learn whether life exists in the warm, salty ocean hidden beneath its icy surface. The apparent plumes detected by the Hubble Space Telescope shoot about 125 miles (200 km) above Europa's surface before, presumably, raining material back down onto the moon's surface, NASA said. Europa, considered one of the most promising candidates for life in the solar system beyond Earth, boasts a global ocean with twice as much water as in all of Earth's seas hidden under a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness.
- Scientists find new fat clues in faeces By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Britain have found a new link between the diversity of bacteria in human poo - the human fecal microbiome - and levels of harmful types of body fat. In research that may help explain why excessive weight problems and obesity tend to run in families, the scientists said high levels of visceral fat - which is linked to risks of chronic disease - were linked to having a relatively small range of bacteria in faeces. People with a high diversity of bacteria in their faeces had lower levels of visceral fat, according to the study published on Monday in the journal Genome Biology.
- SpaceX blast investigation suggests breach in oxygen tank's helium system
By Irene Klotz DALLAS (Reuters) - A SpaceX rocket that burst into flames on its launch pad ate the beginning of this month likely suffered a large breach in its upper-stage helium system, the company said on Friday. SpaceX, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, was fueling a Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad in Florida on Sept. 1 in preparation for a routine test-firing when a bright fireball suddenly emerged around the rocket's upper stage. "At this stage of the investigation, preliminary review of the data and debris suggests that a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank took place," SpaceX said in a statement posted on its website.
- Work on sex life of rats, life as a badger honored at Ig Nobel Prizes
By Scott Malone CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - Scientific research into how polyester pants affect the sex life of rats, what it's like for a human to live like a badger and how different the world looks when viewed through your legs was honored at this year's Ig Nobel spoof awards. The group also took a dig at Volkswagen AG, lauding it in chemistry for engineering its vehicles to produce fewer emissions "whenever the cars are being tested." The prizes will be awarded for a 26th straight year at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Thursday by a group of actual Nobel Prize winners, and are intended to honor accomplishments in science and humanities that make one laugh, then think. "The prizes are for something pretty unusual," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, and host of the awards.
- Leprosy Found in California Child: How Doctors Diagnosed It
Leprosy has been confirmed in one of two California schoolchildren suspected to have the disease, according to CBS Los Angeles. Health officials were first notified in early September about the two possible cases of leprosy, now usually called Hansen's disease. The diagnosis was confirmed at the National Hansen's Disease Laboratory Research Program (NHDP) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
- In Shift, Most Americans Now Say President Should Release All Medical Records A majority of Americans now say that a U.S. president should release all of his or her medical information. The poll, which was conducted by Gallup last week, found that a slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, said that a president should release all medical information that might affect that person's ability to serve in office, whereas 46 percent said that a president should have the right to keep those medical records private. The new poll results are a change from the results in 2004, when just 38 percent of Americans said that a president should release all of his or her medical information, and 61 percent said that a president should be able to keep those records private, according to Gallup.
- Drug Overdose Cluster in Canada Tied to Opioid-Laced Cocaine
More than 40 people in a Canadian city were treated for an opioid overdose this summer after they smoked crack cocaine that had been contaminated with an opioid drug related to fentanyl, according to a new report. In mid-July, a hospital in the city of Surrey, British Columbia, experienced a large spike in patients needing treatment for an opioid overdose — about 11 patients per day needed treatment, up from the usual four patients per day. Most of the patients had become unconscious after smoking what they thought was crack cocaine, the report said.
- Spaceflight Is Entering a New Golden Age, Says Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos
Early Monday (Nov. 23), the private spaceflight company Blue Origin made a major stride in the pursuit of fully reusable rockets, when it launched an uncrewed vehicle into space and then soft-landed the rocket booster on the ground. "It was one of the greatest moments of my life," said Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin's founder, speaking about the landing in a press briefing yesterday (Nov. 24). "And my teammates here at Blue Origin, I could see felt the same way.
- Turkey and Football: How Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving in Space
Thanksgiving in space will be a lot like the holiday down here on the ground — minus the gravity, of course. Like most Americans, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren have Thanksgiving (Nov. 26) off, and they'll spend the day aboard the International Space Station (ISS) watching football and enjoying a turkey-centric feast, agency officials said. Kelly and Lindgren gave viewers a look at that feast in a special Thanksgiving video this week, breaking out bags of smoked turkey, rehydratable corn, candied yams and potatoes au gratin.
- Scientists find new fat clues in faeces By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Britain have found a new link between the diversity of bacteria in human poo - the human faecal microbiome - and levels of harmful types of body fat. In research that may help explain why excessive weight problems and obesity tend to run in families, the scientists said high levels of visceral fat - which is linked to risks of chronic disease - were linked to having a relatively small range of bacteria in faeces. People with a high diversity of bacteria in their faeces had lower levels of visceral fat, according to the study published on Monday in the journal Genome Biology.
- The Science of Boredom Although boredom is as familiar a feeling as excitement or fear, science has only begun to understand what makes people bored. Recently, six scientists who emerged after living for a year in isolation on the Mauna Loa volcano as part of the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) experiment, which simulated the isolation that future space travelers might experience traveling to and living on Mars, said that boredom was their biggest challenge. Boredom "has been understudied until fairly recently, but it’s [worth studying] because human experience has consequences for how we interact with each our and our environment," said James Danckert, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo in Ontario in an interview with Live Science.
- Scientists Look Back in Time at 'Golden Age' of Star Formation
Researchers have looked at a famous sliver of sky with new eyes, revealing clues about galaxies' star-forming potential over time and verifying the early "golden age" of rapid star formation. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an enormous radio telescope in Chile, an international team of astronomers has pinpointed star-forming gas interspersed among the ancient galaxies of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field — a region first observed in detail by the Hubble Space Telescope. Although researchers have examined the region at radio wavelengths before, this is the most detailed and sharpest view, and it lets researchers see how star-forming potential has changed over the universe's life span.
- Brangelina Breakup: What Social Science Says About Divorce
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fans were left reeling Tuesday morning after news broke that the couple is getting divorced. According to the Associated Press, in the divorce papers she filed, Jolie Pitt cited "irreconcilable differences," a vague term that could apply to any number of reasons. The most common cause for divorce, however, comes down to communication differences, said Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah.
- Rattlesnake Ancestor Was Venom Factory The ancestor of today's rattlesnakes was a serpent to be feared: It had genes to make venoms that would target the blood, the muscle and the nervous system. The eastern diamondback and the western diamondback both have venom that damages muscles, while the Mojave rattlesnake's toxins target the nerves. "This wholesale loss is unusual," study researcher Sean Carroll, a professor of molecular biology and genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said in a statement.
- Improbable Science Reigns at the Ig Nobel Prize Awards
This offbeat yearly event — celebrating somewhat strange scientific studies from around the world — is the brainchild of Marc Abrahams, editor of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). The presentation is officially identified as both the 26th and the first of its kind because "every year is a new beginning," Abrahams told Live Science in an email. The ceremony will be webcast live on Live Science starting at 5:40 p.m. ET.
- Climate change could cross key threshold in a decade - scientists By Laurie Goering OXFORD, England (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week. Last December, 195 nations agreed to try to hold world temperature rise to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- More than 300 scientists warn over Trump's climate change stance
By Ian Simpson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hundreds of top scientists warned on Tuesday against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's vow to pull the United States out of the Paris climate-warming accord if elected in November. The 375 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel Prize winners, said in an open letter that a U.S. abandonment of the agreement would make it far harder to develop global strategies to lessen the impact of global warming. "Thus it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord," the letter said.
- Just going on vacation may change gene activity By Kathryn Doyle (Reuters Health) - In a new study comparing a meditation retreat with just relaxing in the same locale, both options improved stress regulation, immune function and other cellular markers in the blood. For those who continued meditating, benefits were seen even 10 months later. “Vacation in a relaxing, resort-like environment takes you away from your day-to-day grind, which may be high stress in which your body is in a more defensive-like posture, with pressures to meet deadlines, dealing with angry customers, ‘battling’ with colleagues for resources to accomplish your mission or whatever,” said senior author Dr. Eric Schadt, founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai in New York.
- DNA Sequencing in Space Could Protect Astronaut Health
NASA astronauts are opening new doors in the worlds of science and medicine by sequencing DNA in all sorts of extreme environments, including, for the first time, the microgravity of the International Space Station. NASA astronaut and biologist Kate Rubins has sequenced DNA in space, marking the first time this has been done. "Welcome to systems biology in space," Rubins said in a statement after the first few DNA molecules had been sequenced successfully.
- Japan's Hinode Sun Observatory Celebrates 10 Years of Solar Science
Japan's Hinode sun-observing satellite has delivered spectacular imagery and invaluable measurements of the sun since it launched into space 10 years ago on Sept. 23, 2006. Hinode is part of an international mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in collaboration with NASA and other partners. Over the course of a decade, the spacecraft has provided remarkable views of violent solar flares, eruptions, transits across the sun and much more.
- Entangled Particles Reveal Even Spookier Action Than Thought
This finding comes from a close look at quantum entanglement, in which two particles that are "entangled" affect each other even when separated by a large distance. Now, researchers have found that even if they were to scrap this theory, allowing entangled particles to communicate with each other faster than the speed of light or even instantaneously, that couldn't explain the odd behavior. "What that tells us is that we have to look a little bit deeper," said study co-author Martin Ringbauer, a doctoral candidate in physics at the University of Queensland in Australia.
- Scientists decipher color of 'super cute' bristly dinosaur
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists guided by small structures preserved in fossilized skin have deciphered the color and camouflage pattern of a little dinosaur with a parrot-like beak and bristles on its tail that roamed thick forests in China about 120 million years ago. Psittacosaurus was mainly brown but with a paler underside of the tail and belly, a pattern called countershading that may have helped the 5-foot-long (1.5-meter) bipedal plant-eater go unnoticed by hungry predators, the scientists said on Thursday. The color pattern suggested Psittacosaurus (pronounced sit-TAK-ah-sawr-us) lived in a forest environment with diffuse light from a dense canopy of trees, the researchers said.
- Earth Vulnerable to Major Asteroid Strike, White House Science Chief Says
The world is still vulnerable to a potentially catastrophic asteroid strike, according to President Barack Obama's chief science adviser. NASA has made substantial progress in finding the asteroids that pose the biggest threat to Earth, but there's still a lot of work to do, said John Holdren, director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. "We are not fully prepared, but we are on a trajectory to get much more so," Holdren said today (Sept. 14) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, during a discussion of the agency's planned Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).
- Polar bears vs scientists: Russians get emergency supplies MOSCOW (AP) — It's been polar bears versus Russian scientists on a remote island in the Arctic.
- 'Unusual' Bee Species Drills Apartment-Style Nests Out of Rock
The species, dubbed Anthophora pueblo, has been found in Utah, in southwest Colorado and in Death Valley in California, where it pocks vertical sandstone rock faces with tiny holes. "The bee is very unusual," study researcher Michael Orr, a doctoral student in biology at Utah State University, told Live Science. The first hint of Anthophora peublo's existence dates back to the early 1980s, when entomologist Frank Parker — an author on the current study and the former head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Bee Lab in Utah — discovered bees nesting in holes dug into sandstone in Utah's San Rafael Desert.
- Changing Face of Science: The Psychology of Face Transplants It's a harrowing experience just a few dozen people have endured: losing their faces to horrific injuries and then, against all odds, receiving new ones, through face transplant surgeries. The first of these patients, Isabelle Dinoire, has died, her doctors confirmed this week. Dinoire lost her life in April to cancer, perhaps related to the anti-rejection drugs that transplant recipients must take to prevent their immune systems from attacking their new tissue, news outlets reported.
- Study details sugar industry attempt to shape science
NEW YORK (AP) — The sugar industry began funding research that cast doubt on sugar's role in heart disease — in part by pointing the finger at fat — as early as the 1960s, according to an analysis of newly uncovered documents.
- New iPhone Lacks Headphone Jack: Are Bluetooth Headphones Safe? Apple's new iPhone 7 will not have a headphone jack, and so people who want to avoid holding their phones up to their ears must now rely on Bluetooth ear buds. It turns out that there is no evidence that Bluetooth does any harm. In addition, there are no plausible physics mechanisms by which Bluetooth could cause damage to a person's cells, said John Moulder, a professor emeritus and radiation biologist at Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
- The Science Behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 7's Battery Fires
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is suffering the same fate as countless hoverboards — there are reports that some phones have been bursting into flames, prompting Samsung is issue a recall and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to strongly discourage passengers from carrying the device on planes, news sources report. The answer has to do with its lithium-ion battery, a common power source that isn't just used in cellphones but also in computers, power tools and toys. Lithium, the third element on the period table, is a silver-white metal that can catch fire when exposed to oxygen or water, Lloyd Gordon, the chief electrical safety officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told Live Science last year.
- Statins' benefits understated and harms exaggerated, scientists warn By Kate Kelland LONDON, (Reuters) - The benefits of statins - cholesterol-busting drugs that can dramatically reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes - have been underestimated and their harms exaggerated, scientists said on Thursday in a major review of research. In an effort to counter what they said were misleading reports of high levels of side effects, the scientists said in the Lancet medical journal there was a "serious cost to public health" in such claims, which can dissuade people from taking beneficial medicines. "Our review shows that the numbers of people who avoid heart attacks and strokes by taking statin therapy are very much larger than the numbers who have side effects," said Rory Collins, a professor at the Clinical Trial Service Unit at Britain's Oxford University.
- Some like it hot: scientists drill off Japan for sizzling life By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Scientists will start drilling off Japan this month to seek the hottest place where life can survive in a hellish uncharted realm deep below the seabed. The drilling under the Nankai Trough in the Pacific Ocean will be part of a project by 900 experts to map carbon underground, hoping for clues to everything from the origin of life on Earth to the formation of oil and gas. Previously, microbes have been found living at a torrid 121 degrees Celsius (249.8°F) around a volcanic vent on the seabed in the Pacific Ocean off the United States.
- Scientists find deadly scrub typhus bacteria in South America By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scrub typhus, a deadly disease common in southeast Asia and spread by microscopic biting mites known as chiggers, has now taken hold in a part of South America and may have become endemic there, scientists said on Wednesday. The tropical disease, which kills at least 140,000 people a year in the Asia-Pacific region, has been confirmed in a cluster of cases on a large island off Chile, some 12,000 kilometres from its usual haunts on the other side of the Pacific. Scrub typhus has been known of for years and the bacteria that causes it was first identified in Japan in 1930.
- Scientists use undersea drones to help predict hurricanes
As Hermine worked its way up the East Coast, scientists deployed several underwater drones they say will help them better understand what sustains and strengthens hurricanes and tropical storms — and ultimately ...
- Touching an Asteroid: The Science Behind NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission
The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, launching tomorrow (Sept. 8), will explore the asteroid Bennu, searching for traces of the material that helped to build the sun and the early planets. Eventually, the spacecraft will return to Earth with a sample of the asteroid for scientists to analyze in exquisite depth. "Sample return is really at the forefront of scientific exploration," OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta said at a press conference yesterday (Sept. 6).
- NOAA: Global warming increased odds for Louisiana downpour
- Nix Homework to Help Students? What the Science Says A Texas teacher's note to parents about her newly implemented "no formal homework policy" in her second-grade class went viral last week, opening up the floodgates for parents, teachers and school administrators to weigh in on this controversial topic. In the note, teacher Brandy Young told parents that her students' only homework would be work that they did not finish during the school day. Instead of having kids spend time on homework, parents should "spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success," Young said.
- Scientists in the UK discuss sex robots and digital intimacy LONDON (AP) — Sex robots — discuss. That is precisely what scientists and academics are doing at a British conference also covering all-too-modern issues like digital intimacy and older Facebook users.
- Superheroes for Science: Marvel Comic Book Covers Promote STEAM Fields
Marvel Entertainment is kicking off the new school year with a special release of new comic book covers that promote science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) while featuring five of its favorite, classic superhero characters. The comics will hit the shelves of comic book shops in November. Marvel's STEAM variants include re-creations of its classic characters and superheroes. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur appear on the science cover peering at the cosmos through a dino head-mounted telescope, adding a fun new twist to the Golden Age original, Moon Girl, which was first published in 1947.
- Duane Graveline, Scientist-Astronaut Who Resigned from NASA, Dies at 85
Duane Graveline, a medical doctor who was among NASA's first scientist-astronauts, but who resigned after just six months for "personal reasons," died on Monday (Sept. 5). Named in June 1965 as a member of NASA's fourth group of astronauts, Graveline joined five other scientists — Owen Garriott, Ed Gibson, Joe Kerwin, Curt Michel and Harrison Schmitt — as the space agency's first trainees recruited for their academic backgrounds, rather than flight experience. "Duane Graveline, one of the nation's scientist-astronauts, is the first to resign before making a space flight," reported the Associated Press in an article published on August 18, 1965.