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- Hunt for ancient royal tomb in Mexico takes mercurial twist
By David Alire Garcia TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico (Reuters) - A Mexican archeologist hunting for a royal tomb in a deep, dark tunnel beneath a towering pre-Aztec pyramid has made a discovery that may have brought him a step closer: liquid mercury. In the bowels of Teotihuacan, a mysterious ancient city that was once the largest in the Americas, Sergio Gomez this month found "large quantities" of the silvery metal in a chamber at the end of a sacred tunnel sealed for nearly 1,800 years. "It's something that completely surprised us," Gomez said at the entrance to the tunnel below Teotihuacan's Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent, about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City. Some archeologists believe the toxic element could herald what would be the first ruler's tomb ever found in Teotihuacan, a contemporary of several ancient Maya cities, but so shrouded in mystery that its inhabitants still have no name.
- Hot times at Yellowstone: huge magma chamber found deeply buried
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deep beneath Yellowstone National Park, one of the world's most dynamic volcanic systems, lies an enormous, previously unknown reservoir of hot, partly molten rock big enough to fill up the Grand Canyon 11 times, scientists say. Researchers on Thursday said they used a technique called seismic tomography to a produce for the first time a complete picture of the volcanic "plumbing system" at Yellowstone, from the Earth's mantle up to the surface. Scientists already knew of a large magma chamber under Yellowstone that fed the eruptions 2 million, 1.2 million and 640,000 years ago. "The existence of the second magma chamber does not make it any more or less likely that a large volcanic eruption at Yellowstone will occur.
- Celladon says heart treatment fails in trial Celladon Corp said its heart failure gene therapy Mydicar failed to meet its primary and secondary endpoints in an important trial. "We are surprised and very disappointed that Mydicar failed to meet the endpoints in the CUPID2 trial, and we are rigorously analyzing the data in an attempt to better understand the observed outcome," Celladon's chief executive, Krisztina Zsebo, said in a statement on Sunday. According to the company, the gene therapy failed to show a significant treatment effect when compared to placebo.
- F1 technology moves into the supermarket fridge Formula One's cutting-edge aerodynamic technology is moving into the supermarket chill cabinet. Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Formula One team, said on Friday they had partnered with start-up Aerofoil Energy to develop a device that will save money and energy by keeping more cold air inside open-fronted refrigerators. Williams said their aerofoil system, modeled with computation fluid dynamics and tested at their F1 factory in central England, can be attached onto each shelf to redirect the air flow. Sainsbury's, Britain's second largest supermarket chain with 1,100 stores, is among retailers testing the product.
- First experiment 'editing' human embryos ignites ethical furor By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Biologists in China reported carrying out the first experiment to alter the DNA of human embryos, igniting an outcry from scientists who warn against altering the human genome in a way that could last for generations. The study from China appeared last weekend in an obscure online journal called Protein & Cell. In an interview published on Wednesday on the news site of the journal Nature, lead author Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou said both Nature and Science rejected the paper, partly for ethical reasons. "There have been persistent rumors" of this kind of research taking place in China, said Edward Lanphier, chief executive of California-based Sangamo BioSciences Inc and part of a group of scientists who called last month for a global moratorium on such experiments.
- Man-Made Earthquakes Rising in US, New Maps Show
New earthquake hazard maps signal a watershed moment: They show that fracking's byproducts are clearly to blame for swarms of earthquakes plaguing several states. The maps highlight 17 hotspots where communities face a significantly increased risk of earthquakes, and the accompanying report links the earthquakes to wastewater injection wells. Previous maps did not include earthquakes that are induced by human activities. "We consider induced seismicity to be primarily triggered by the disposal of wastewater into deep wells," said Mark Petersen, chief of the National Seismic Hazard Project for the U.S. Geological Survey, which released the maps on April 23.
- Big Butts Can Lie: Bootylicious Baboons May Not Be Most Fertile
The swollen red bottom of a female baboon has long been thought to be an irresistible come-hither signal for males. "Our study suggests that, at least in part, males follow a rule along the lines of 'later is better,' rather than 'bigger is better,'" Courtney Fitzpatrick, a postdoctoral scientist at Duke University's National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and one of the researchers on the new study, said in a statement.
- Lice Shouldn't Keep Kids from School, Doctors Say Head lice are annoying, but they don't actually make people sick, and children with the condition should not be kept away from school, according to new guidelines from a leading group of pediatricians. The guidelines, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that although head lice can cause itching, they are not known to spread disease, and the insects are not very likely to spread from one child to another within a classroom. For this reason, "no healthy child should be excluded from school or allowed to miss school time because of head lice or nits," the guidelines say. In addition, screening kids at schools for head lice does not reduce the occurrence of the condition in classrooms over time, so routine screenings at schools should be discouraged, the AAP says.
- Stargazer Enjoys Venus View from Giant's Causeway in Ireland (Photo)
A stargazer enjoys a dazzling view of the planet Venus in this spectacular photo taken above the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Astrophotographer Miguel Claro took this image between the Giant's Causeway, near Bushmills, in northeast coast of Northen Ireland on March 20. In the image, one can see Venus and a visible corona phenomenon. Venus is surrounded by a water droplet diffraction corona.
- NASA Mulls Spy Agency's Telescopes for Dark-Energy Mission
NASA is considering requesting money in next year's budget to eventually start using two space telescopes it received from the United States' spy satellite agency, a senior official told Space.com. NASA received the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in 2012. The telescopes are being eyed for use in a potential space mission called WFIRST-AFTA (the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets), which could launch as early as 2024 if it gets the final go-ahead. WFIRST-AFTA's science goals include learning more about the mysterious dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.
- Scientist Hawking tells upset fans Malik may be in parallel One Direction
(Reuters) - What is the cosmological effect of singer Zayn Malik leaving the best-selling boy band One Direction and consequently disappointing millions of teenage girls around the world? The advice of British cosmologist Stephen Hawking to heartbroken fans is to follow theoretical physics, because Malik may well still be a member of the pop group in another universe. "My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay attention to the study of theoretical physics because, one day, there may well be proof of multiple universes.
- Decline in U.S. science spending threatens economy, security: MIT By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warning of an "innovation deficit," scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say declining government spending on basic research is holding back potentially life-saving advances in 15 fields, from robotics and fusion energy to Alzheimer's disease and agriculture. Science funding is "the lowest it has been since the Second World War as a fraction of the federal budget," said MIT physicist Marc Kastner, who led the committee that wrote "The Future Postponed" report, issued on Monday. Federal spending on research as a share of total government outlays has fallen from nearly 10 percent in 1968, during the space program, to 3 percent in 2015.
- New avian flu viruses send U.S. scientists scrambling
By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Three highly pathogenic avian flu viruses that have infected poultry and wild birds in the U.S. Midwest appear unlikely to present a significant risk to humans. The H parts, which are highly pathogenic in poultry, originated in Asia, and the N parts come from North American, low pathogenic, avian flu viruses, said Dr. Rubin Donis, an associate director for policy and preparedness in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza division.
- Human Embryo Editing Is Incredibly Risky, Experts Say With the news that Chinese scientists have attempted to modify the genes of human embryos, many scientists have called for a halt to such technology, saying the techniques are too risky to use in human embryos. In a study published Saturday (April 18) in the journal Protein & Cell, Chinese scientists reported that they had used a genetic engineering technique called CRISPR to cut out a faulty gene and replace it with a healthy one in human embryos. "This paper is a complete confirmation of the issues that were raised about the readiness of the CRISPR platform to be applied in therapeutic genome editing," said Edward Lanphier, president and CEO of Sangamo BioSciences, a company that works on genome editing in adult cells but not embryonic cells. Lanphier, along with other scientists, published a commentary in March in the journal Nature, calling for a moratorium on such research.
- Giant Easter Island 'Hats' Rolled Into Place, Study Says The distinctive headgear worn by some of the famous Easter Island statues may have been rolled up ramps to reach those high perches, a new study suggests. A simple analysis of the physics suggests that rolling the headwear — bulky cylindrical shapes that look like Russian fur hats — would have been a relatively easy matter, said study co-author Sean Hixon, an undergraduate student in archaeology and geology at the University of Oregon, who presented his findings here on April 16 at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archeology. Since Europeans arrived at the location in the 1700s, people have wondered how the residents of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, off the coast of Chile, raised their majestic statues. Others have argued that the native islanders chopped down the island's forests to roll the stone behemoths across the landscape, leading to environmental devastation and the collapse of the Easter Island civilization.
- Whooping Cough Outbreaks Traced to Change in Vaccine
The recent outbreaks of whooping cough in the United States may be due, in part, to a change made two decades ago to vaccine ingredients, a new study finds. In 2012, the United States had about 48,000 cases of whooping cough (also called pertussis) — the most cases since 1955. They used an enormous data set from a variety of sources on whooping cough cases in the U.S. from 1950 to 2009. They found that a change in vaccine ingredients was the best explanation for the recent whooping cough outbreaks, according to the study, published today (April 23) in the journal PLOS ONE Computational Biology.
- Scientists convinced of tie between earthquakes and drilling
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With the evidence coming in from one study after another, scientists are now more certain than ever that oil and gas drilling is causing hundreds upon hundreds of earthquakes across the U.S.
- First experiment 'editing' human embryos ignites ethical furore By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Biologists in China reported carrying out the first experiment to alter the DNA of human embryos, igniting an outcry from scientists who warn against altering the human genome in a way that could last for generations. The study from China appeared last weekend in an obscure online journal called Protein & Cell. In an interview published on Wednesday on the news site of the journal Nature, lead author Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou said both Nature and Science rejected the paper, partly for ethical reasons. "There have been persistent rumours" of this kind of research taking place in China, said Edward Lanphier, chief executive of California-based Sangamo BioSciences Inc and part of a group of scientists who called last month for a global moratorium on such experiments.
- Scientists: Over 143M Americans live in quake-prone areas
- Deals in dark helped bitcoin take off, says chief scientist
By Jemima Kelly LONDON (Reuters) - Without dealings in the "grey areas" of the global economy, bitcoin might not have grown to be worth the $3 billion (1.99 billion pounds) it is today, according to Gavin Andresen, the closest thing the digital currency has to a CEO. Andresen, a self-confessed "all-around geek", is chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, a non-profit group he helped set up three years ago to support and promote the digital currency. Andresen acknowledged it has been used in the United States for online gambling, which was effectively outlawed there until December 2011, with banks barred from transmitting bets. "Without those uses maybe it would have taken longer (for bitcoin to get to where it is)," he told Reuters over coffee at a conference organised by the Bitcoin Foundation in London, where a push into financial technology is making the city a hub for the virtual currency.. In its early days, "the Internet was for porn.
- Oklahoma scientists say earthquakes linked to oil and gas work Oklahoma geologists have documented strong links between increased seismic activity in the state and the injection into the ground of wastewater from oil and gas production, a state agency said on Tuesday. Oklahoma is recording 2-1/2 earthquakes daily of a magnitude 3 or greater, a seismicity rate 600 times greater than observed before 2008, the report by the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) said. It is "very likely that the majority of the earthquakes" are triggered by wastewater injection activities tied to the oil and gas industry, the OGS said. Prior to 2008, Oklahoma averaged less than two a year.
- Scientists to share real-time genetic data on deadly MERS, Ebola
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Genetic sequence data on two of the deadliest yet most poorly understood viruses are to be made available to researchers worldwide in real time as scientists seek to speed up understanding of Ebola and MERS infections. "The collective expertise of the world's infectious disease experts is more powerful than any single lab, and the best way of tapping into this...is to make data freely available as soon as possible," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity which is funding the work. The gene sequences, already available for MERS cases and soon to come in the case of Ebola, will be posted on the website virological.org for anyone to see, access and use. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral disease which first emerged in humans in 2012 and has been spreading in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries since then.
- 'StarTalk,' NatGeo Channel's 1st Late-Night Science Talk Show, Debuts Tonight
NEW YORK — "StarTalk," the first-ever science-themed late-night talk show — hosted by superstar scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson — premieres tonight (April 20) on the National Geographic Channel, and viewers can expect a fantastically space-centric viewing experience. Based on Tyson's long-running radio show of the same name, "StarTalk" is a combination of science, comedy and pop culture. Last week, at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York (where portions of the show are filmed), a small group of invitees had the chance to watch the first of the series' 10 episodes. "'StarTalk' is a three-strand braid, between science, humor and pop culture," Tyson said at the event.
- Scientists: 3 wolves remain at Isle Royale National Park
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The gray wolves of Isle Royale National Park, which scientists have studied closely for more than half a century along with the moose on which they feed, are on the verge of disappearing as the most recent census showed that only three remain, scientists said Friday.
- Scientists create self-powering camera By Elly Park New York, NEW YORK - Scientists at Columbia University in New York have successfully built a camera that is capable of producing images using power harvested from the surrounding incident light. The prototype self-powering camera takes an image each second, and in a well-lit scene it can operate indefinitely. The team is led by Shree Nayar, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering, "What we have designed here is an image sensor with pixels, with this new design that can not only capture pictures but also generate power from the pixels, in order to capture the images themselves. In modern cameras photo diodes, tiny devices inside each pixels of the image sensor, measure the amount of light that falls onto it, and Nayar said he noticed that the process is similar to photo diodes used inside solar panels to harvest energy. "It turns out exactly the photo diode is also used in solar cells which are used in solar panels to harvest energy from light, except that they are being used in a slightly different circuit.
- Physicists try to make sense of a dark matter puzzle from space
Clamped to the International Space Station, the 7.5-tonne Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) intercepts particles from outer space, looking for evidence of "dark matter", which has never been seen but is thought to be five times as abundant in the universe as visible matter. We are taking 1,000 pictures per second," said Stefan Schael, a professor at RWTH Aachen University. The space camera gives a new perspective on results gathered on earth at the CERN physics research centre's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva. "At the LHC we have found exactly what we were predicting.
- Mercury-orbiting U.S. spacecraft heading for a crash landing
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A NASA spacecraft that made surprising discoveries of ice and other materials on Mercury will make a crash landing into the planet around April 30, scientists said on Thursday. The Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or Messenger, probe has been circling the innermost planet of the solar system for more than four years, the first close-up studies of Mercury since NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft made three flybys in the mid-1970s. “The spacecraft will pass behind the planet, out of view from the Earth, and will just not emerge again,” said Daniel O’Shaughnessy, systems engineer with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which operates the spacecraft. The impact at 8,724 miles per hour (14,040 km per hour) will leave a fresh crater, roughly 52 feet (16 meters) in diameter, that should serve as an interesting reference point for a follow-on European spacecraft called BepiColombo, which is due to arrive in 2024.
- Of Mice and Synthetic Muscle: Big Science On SpaceX Dragon Spaceship
SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule is hauling a lot of science gear up to the International Space Station, including experiments for the orbiting outpost's first one-year crew. The unmanned Dragon launched into space Tuesday (April 14) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It is due to arrive at the space station at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) Friday, April 17. Some of this equipment will help NASA examine the nature of eye problems that have plagued several astronauts on long-term missions.
- U.S. study calls into question tests that sequence tumor genes By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - New cancer tests that sequence only a patient's tumor and not normal tissue could result in a significant number of false positive results, potentially leading doctors to prescribe treatments that might not work, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The tests take advantage of new treatments that target changes in the DNA of tumor cells that are important for their survival. The issue is that few of these tests look at DNA from healthy cells to compare which mutations patients were born with and which are unique to the cancer, said Dr. Victor Velculescu of Johns Hopkins and a principal in Personal Genome Diagnostics, a company co-founded by the researchers.
- AstraZeneca science is on the move, one year on from Pfizer bid By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Having seen off a hostile $118 billion bid launched a year ago by U.S. rival Pfizer, Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca is on the move -- quite literally. Chief Executive Pascal Soriot is making AstraZeneca more nimble as hopes build for its cancer pipeline, but he still has his work cut out to keep 2015 earnings above the floor needed to protect his bonus. Investors must balance the short-term challenges posed by a massive "cliff" of patent expiries for older drugs against AstraZeneca's long-term promise that sales can reach $45 billion in 2023 from $26 billion last year. So far, Frenchman Soriot has played his hand well, given the inevitable disappointment among some shareholders at the rejection of Pfizer's final 55 pound-a-share offer last year.
- Giant Atom Smasher Revs up: Physicists Reveal What They're Looking For
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile-long (27 kilometers) underground ring in Geneva, Switzerland, revved up again last week at double its previous power. The humongous particle collider will now begin searching for elusive subatomic particles at 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV). The first run of the LHC had a single overarching goal: finding the Higgs boson, the particle that explains how other particles get their mass. Scientists know there is more out there than can be explained by the Standard Model, the reigning physics paradigm describing subatomic particles.
- China to surpass U.S. as top cause of modern global warming
By Alister, Doyle,, Environment and Correspondent OSLO, April 13 (Reuters) - China is poised to overtake the United States as the main cause of man-made global warming since 1990, the benchmark year for U.N.-led action, in a historic shift that may raise pressure on Beijing to act. China's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, when governments were becoming aware of climate change, will outstrip those of the United States in 2015 or 2016, according to separate estimates by experts in Norway and the United States. "A few years ago China's per capita emissions were low, its historical responsibility was low.
- NASA Probe Circles Mars for 1,000th Time
NASA's Mars-studying MAVEN spacecraft notched a spaceflight milestone this week — its 1,000th orbit of the Red Planet. MAVEN (short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) arrived at the Red Planet in September 2014 and began its yearlong study of the Martian atmosphere on Nov. 16. The 1,000th orbit was completed on Monday (April 6), NASA officials said. "The spacecraft and instruments continue to work well, and we're building up a picture of the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere, of the processes that control its behavior and of how loss of gas to space occurs," MAVEN principal investigator Bruce Jakosky, from the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, said in a statement.
- NASA Scientists Cook Up Building Blocks of Life in Lab
Many of the chemical ingredients necessary for life as we know it were available on the early Earth, and should be present on exoplanets as well, new research suggests. Researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center in California generated three key components of RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in the lab, by exposing commonly occurring ring-shaped molecules of carbon and nitrogen to radiation under spacelike conditions. "Nobody really understands how life got started on Earth," Scott Sandford, a space science researcher at Ames, said in a statement. The rings hold carbon atoms, but the presence of nitrogen makes pyrimidine less stable than other carbon-rich compounds, researchers said.
- Richard Feynman's Lessons from Ants, Dinosaurs and His Dad (Video) David Gerlach is the Executive Producer of Blank on Blank and he contributed this article and video to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. He proposed the parton model in the field of particle physics. Starting in 1966, science historian Charles Weiner interviewed Richard Feynman as part of an extensive oral history project at the American Institute of Physics. "Richard Feynman on What It Means" is part of The Experimenters series, from the creators of Blank on Blank.
- Genetic study finds severe inbreeding in mountain gorillas
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The most extensive genetic analysis of mountain gorillas ever conducted has found the critically endangered apes burdened with severe inbreeding and at risk of extinction but the researchers still see reasons for optimism about their survival. "We found extremely high levels of inbreeding," said geneticist Chris Tyler-Smith of Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. The study in the journal Science revealed a substantial loss of genetic diversity from inbreeding caused by mating with close relatives due to small population size, with mountain gorillas inheriting identical segments from both parents in about a third of their genome. "Mountain gorillas are critically endangered and at risk of extinction, and our study reveals that as well as suffering a dramatic collapse in numbers during the last century, they had already experienced a long decline going back many thousands of years," University of Cambridge geneticist Aylwyn Scally said.
- Scientists seek source of giant methane mass over Southwest
DENVER (AP) — Scientists are working to pinpoint the source of a giant mass of methane hanging over the southwestern U.S., which a study found to be the country's largest concentration of the greenhouse gas.
- Tornado Alert in Central US: The Science of Severe Storms
A wide swath of the central United States is at risk of thunderstorms and possible tornadoes over the next couple of days, according to the National Weather Service. Greg Cardin, a warning co-ordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, warned that the complexity of the current forecast means predictions could change quickly. "It's a tough, tough forecast, not just for today but also for tomorrow," Cardin told Live Science.
- Signs of Alien Life Will Be Found by 2025, NASA's Chief Scientist Predicts
Humanity is on the verge of discovering alien life, high-ranking NASA scientists say. "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said Tuesday (April 7) during a panel discussion that focused on the space agency's efforts to search for habitable worlds and alien life. Former astronaut John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, shared Stofan's optimism, predicting that signs of life will be found relatively soon both in our own solar system and beyond. "I think we're one generation away in our solar system, whether it's on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star," Grunsfeld said during Tuesday's event.