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- Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin joins Florida university
By Irene Klotz MELBOURNE, Fla. (Reuters) - Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the first Americans to land on the moon, will spearhead a new research institute in Florida aimed at paving a path toward Mars exploration and settlement, officials said on Thursday. The Buzz Aldrin Space Institute will be based at the Florida Institute of Technology, also known as Florida Tech, located about 40 miles (64 km) south of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Melbourne. Aldrin, 85, wants to expand his long-term space exploration program that includes human spaceflight, robotics and science initiatives.
- Pentagon teams up with Apple, Boeing to develop wearable tech
By David Alexander MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter awarded $75 million on Friday to help a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane. Carter said funding for the Obama administration's newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing , Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
- Scientists solve mystery of polar bear Knut's death
Knut, the star polar bear who was hand-reared at Berlin zoo after his mother rejected him, had a type of auto-immune inflation of the brain that is found in humans, scientists said on Thursday. Knut, who was just four when he drowned at the zoo in 2011, was reared by his keeper Thomas Doerflein. Knut had an epileptic fit and drowned in a pool in his enclosure.
- German scientists find rare dinosaur tracks By Josie Le Blond BERLIN (Reuters) - German scientists have found an unusually long trail of footprints from a 30-tonne dinosaur in an abandoned quarry in Lower Saxony, a discovery they think could be around 145 million years old. "It's very unusual how long the trail is and what great condition it's in," excavation leader Benjamin Englich told Reuters at the site, referring to 90 uninterrupted footprints stretching over 50 meters. Englich said the elephant-like tracks were stomped into the ground sometime between 135 and 145 million years ago by a sauropod - a class of heavy dinosaurs with long necks and tails.
- Massive Aztec human skull rack found in Mexico City
Archeologists have discovered a massive ceremonial skull rack from the heyday of the Aztec empire in the heart of Mexico City, a find that could shed new light on how its rulers projected power by human sacrifice, the team said on Thursday. The skull rack, known as a tzompantli in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, was used to display the bleached white craniums of sacrificed warriors from rival kingdoms, likely killed by priests atop towering temples that once stood nearby. Dug up behind the capital's colonial-era cathedral, the as yet partially uncovered skull rack was likely built between 1485 and 1502 and may have been about 112 feet (34 meters) long and 12 meters (40 foot) wide, lead archeologist Raul Barrera said.
- Elusive Sea Creature with Hairy, Slimy Shell Spotted After 31 Years
The Allonautilus scrobiculatus, a species of mollusk in the same family as the nautilus, was spotted off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific in early August, the scientists said. The Allonautilus' shell has been known to science since the 1700s. The Allonautilus is so rare likely because it is completely reliant on scavenging to survive, Ward said.
- Human Eye's Blind Spot Can Shrink with Training The blind spot of the human eye can be shrunk with certain eye-training exercises, thus improving a person's vision slightly, a small new study suggests. In the study of 10 people, researchers found that the blind spot — the tiny region of a person's visual field that matches up with the area in the eye that has no receptors for light, and hence cannot detect any image — can shrink 10 percent, with special training. That amount of change "is quite an improvement, but people wouldn't notice, as we are typically unaware of our blind spots," said study author Paul Miller, of the University of Queensland in Australia.
- Sexual Harassment in the Animal Kingdom? How Female Guppies Escape
Animal-behavior scientists discovered that female fish who were most bothered by this type of sexual harassment started to swim in a different, more efficient way. Researchers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Exeter, both in the United Kingdom, tested the effects of this harassment on Poecilia reticulata guppies. "In the wild, especially during the dry season, [guppies] can be trapped together in small pools for months," said study lead author Shaun Killen, a biologist at the University of Glasgow.
- LEGO to Launch: Astronaut from Denmark Taking Danish Toys to Space Station
Denmark's first astronaut is launching to the International Space Station with a Danish toy that is famous worldwide. Andreas Mogensen will fly to the space station with LEGO minifigures bearing the official logo of his mission for the European Space Agency (ESA). "ESA and LEGO Education have partnered together for this mission," Mogensen wrote as part of an AMA, or "Ask Me Anything," on the website Reddit in reply to a question submitted by collectSPACE.
- Yearlong Mock Mars Mission Will Test Mental Toll of Isolation
In the confines of a 36-foot-wide (11 meters) and 20-foot-high (6 m) solar-powered dome in a remote location on the island of Hawaii, the six team members will have to live together for 365 days. "We hope that this upcoming mission will build on our current understanding of the social and psychological factors involved in long-duration space exploration," Kim Binsted, principal investigator for HI-SEAS, said in a statement from the University of Hawaii.
- New guidelines for cancer doctors aim to make sense of gene tests
By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has issued guidelines on how cancer doctors should approach the use of new genetic tests that screen for multiple cancer genes at the same time, including counseling patients about genes whose contribution to cancer is still poorly understood. The guidelines aim to educate doctors about the risks and benefits of new genetic tests, argue for regulation to assure quality and call for more equitable reimbursement of the cost of the tests from private and public insurers. The falling price of genome sequencing has made it possible for cancer doctors to cheaply test for a wide variety of mutated genes that could guide treatment or predict a person's risk for cancer.
- Kerry, Obama to raise global warming issues in Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Scientists are "overwhelmingly unified" in concluding that humans are contributing to global climate change, Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday night, and the public is slowly getting the full picture.
- Global warming carving changes into Alaska in fire and ice
- 'Science of Mom': Author Sifts Through Childrearing Facts & Fictions Some new moms might feel as if they need to be scientists to understand what's best for their babies: Vaccinate on schedule or not? Sink $20 into one of those CDs promising to turn my baby into a genius? Alice Callahan, who earned a Ph.D. in nutritional biology and went to do research on fetal physiology before she had her first child in 2010, decided to tackle motherhood in a way that was most natural to her: as a scientist.
- Panda Bros: Twin Cubs Were Fraternal Brothers, Tests Show
Twin pandas born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo would have been fraternal brothers, if the firstborn cub hadn't died just five days after making its debut on Earth. Tests on the pandas' DNA showed that both cubs were male, according to researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's (SCBI) Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics. Furthermore, a paternity analysis showed that Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN) fathered the twins, the zoo said.
- Scientists, tribe study shrinking Washington state glacier
MOUNT BAKER, Wash. (AP) — Mauri Pelto digs his crampons into the steep icy slope on Mount Baker in Washington state and watches as streams of water cascade off the thick mass of bare, bluish ice. Every 20 yards, the water carves vertical channels in the face of the glacier as it rushes downstream.
- Scientists Send Kombucha to Space in Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Kombucha, a fizzy, fermented tea and trendy new favorite of hipsters and health nuts everywhere, has reached stellar heights as part of an experiment on the International Space Station. Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) have placed the same bacteria and yeasts used to make Kombucha tea on the outside of the orbiting laboratory to see how the organisms fare in the unprotected environment of space. The Kombucha experiment is one in a series of "Expose" studies run by ESA to find out if multicellular biofilms — a community of microorganisms that can stick together on a surface — can survive in the unshielded environment above Earth's atmosphere.
- Leading stem cell scientist cleared of misconduct charges
- FDA wants food companies to hand over their pathogens
By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Investigations into foodborne illness are being radically transformed by whole genome sequencing, which federal officials say is enabling them to identify the source of an outbreak far more quickly and prevent additional cases. Previously, samples from sick patients were sent to state and federal labs, where disease detectives ran tests to see if the infections were caused by the same bug. When enough matches emerged, typically a dozen or so, epidemiologists interviewed sick people, looking for a common food that was causing the outbreak.
- Amazing 'Red Lightning' Photographed from Space
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured two rare photographs of red sprites from above on Aug. 10. Red sprites are strange luminous phenomena that occur alongside more familiar lightning strikes. "They're very exciting to look at, they create these fabulous visual images, but there is a lot that we still don't understand about them," said Ryan Haaland, a professor of physics at Fort Lewis College in Colorado who is involved in an ongoing project studying sprites.
- Japan delivers whiskey to space station_ for science
- Why Does Comet 67P Sing? Scientists Think They Know
The sound waves picked up by Rosetta are moving through the comet's magnetic field. In space, no one can hear you scream — that's because on Earth, sound waves move through the air, and there is no atmosphere in space. In empty space, there is no atmosphere, so the sound waves don't have a material to travel through.
- Science will prevail in doping firestorm - WADA chief
By Nick Mulvenney BEIJING (Reuters) - Science will ultimately put out the doping firestorm that has engulfed athletics in the run-up to the world championships, Craig Reedie, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said on Friday. The governing body of athletics, the IAAF, has been in crisis since data from thousands of blood samples was leaked to two media organisations this month. Three weeks of further leaks and allegations that the IAAF has been soft on dopers have overshadowed the run-up to its biennial showpiece, which opens in Beijing with the men's marathon on Saturday.
- Why Magnetars Should Freak You Out
Paul Sutter is a research fellow at the Astronomical Observatory of Trieste and a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics. They're easy enough to make — if you're a massive star.
- Can You Trust Wikipedia on Science? That kind of flux isn't unusual: Wikipedia pages on hot-button issues such as global warming and evolution may change much more frequently than pages on less controversial subjects, according to a new study. The findings raise the question: Which science pages on Wikipedia can be trusted? Wikipedia relies on the wisdom of the crowds, allowing anyone to create or edit any Wiki page while others go in and tweak, update or delete revisions.
- Wormhole Created in Lab Makes Invisible Magnetic Field
Ripped from the pages of a sci-fi novel, physicists have crafted a wormhole that tunnels a magnetic field through space. "This device can transmit the magnetic field from one point in space to another point, through a path that is magnetically invisible," said study co-author Jordi Prat-Camps, a doctoral candidate in physics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. The idea of a wormhole comes from Albert Einstein's theories.
- July was hottest month recorded worldwide: U.S. scientists
July was the warmest month ever on record worldwide and 2015 has been so far the hottest year, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday, just over three months to go before world leaders seek to reach a climate agreement in Paris. In its monthly global climate report released online on Thursday, NOAA said many countries and the world's oceans experienced heatwaves, with the Earth's oceans temperature also hitting record highs last month. This July was the all-time highest monthly temperature in the records that date back to 1880, at 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit (16.61 degree Celsius), according to NOAA.
- Detecting Ripples in Space-Time, with a Little Help from Einstein
Marco Cavaglia is an assistant professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Mississippi and a member of the LIGO team. "Since Newton's first law of motion associates change of speed and direction to a force, the planet's response to the space-time curvature produced by the sun may be interpreted by an observer as a force: gravity.
- 'Base Jumping' Spider Soars from Rainforest Treetops
In addition to these arachnids, lots of small insects (including many species of ants and bristletails) are known to engage in similar behavior — leaping from the tippy tops of trees with total confidence, even though they don't have wings to help them along, said Stephen Yanoviak, an associate professor of biology at the University of Louisville and lead author of the new study. Selenops, often called "flatties" because of their exceedingly thin bodies, blend in well in tropical forest environments, the researchers said. Then, they took the spiders high up into the forest canopy and turned the cups upside down.
- Fire blazes at Paris science museum; 2 firefighters injured
- Scientists call for new review of herbicide, cite 'flawed' U.S. regulations U.S. regulators have relied on flawed and outdated research to allow expanded use of an herbicide linked to cancer, and new assessments should be urgently conducted, according to a column published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. There are two key factors that necessitate regulatory action to protect human health, according to the column: a sharp increase in herbicide applied to widely planted genetically modified (GMO) crops used in food, and a recent World Health Organization (WHO) determination that the most commonly used herbicide, known as glyphosate, is probably a human carcinogen. The opinion piece was written by Dr. Philip Landrigan, a Harvard-educated pediatrician and epidemiologist who is Dean for Global Health at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and Chuck Benbrook, an adjunct professor at Washington State University's crops and soil science department.
- Are Smart Mini Sensors the Next Big Thing? (Op-Ed) Dror Sharon is co-founder and CEO of Consumer Physics, developer of the SCiO palm-size molecular sensor. An electrical engineer, Sharon has previously served in leadership positions at two VC-backed hardware and optics startups and was an early stage technology investor. This Op-Ed is part of a series provided by the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers, class of 2015.
- Illumina partners with private equity firm on gene JV: sources Gene-sequencing giant Illumina Inc, private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC and venture capital firm Sutter Hill Ventures have agreed to invest $100 million to seed a new consumer-facing human genome platform called Helix, according to people familiar with the deal. San Francisco-based Helix aims to provide a new kind of environment that will sequence, store and analyze individuals' genetic data and provide a marketplace of services through various partners, allowing people to explore their geneology or understand their risk for inherited disease. To accomplish that, Helix plans to create one of the world's largest next-generation DNA sequencing labs and make the data accessible on a secure and protected database.
- Scientists researching brain disorders create super-clever mice By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have genetically modified mice to be super-intelligent and found they are also less anxious, a discovery that may help the search for treatments for disorders such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers from Britain and Canada found that altering a single gene to block the phosphodiesterase-4B (PDE4B) enzyme, which is found in many organs including the brain, made mice cleverer and at the same time less fearful. "Our work using mice has identified phosphodiesterase-4B as a promising target for potential new treatments," said Steve Clapcote, a lecturer in pharmacology at Britain's Leeds University, who led the study.
- Scientists use bioengineered yeast instead of poppies to make opioids
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have invented a speedy method to make potent painkilling opioids using bioengineered baker's yeast instead of poppies, but need to fine-tune the process to make it commercially viable, according to a study published on Thursday. The new method, if it can be made more efficient, could significantly change the multibillion-dollar pain medication manufacturing business, but raises concerns about aggravating the growing problem of opioid abuse. The scientists said they altered the yeast's genetic make-up in a way that coaxed the cells to convert sugar into two opioids - hydrocodone and thebaine - in three to five days.
- Tennis Ball-Size Octopuses Suction Each Other During Sex
The larger Pacific striped octopus, or LPSO for short, engages in a variety of odd behaviors — from startling prey into its outstretched arms with a sneaky tapping motion to suctioning onto its partner during mating. Though scientists first observed the species in the 1970s, LPSOs have remained relatively unstudied until recently, said Roy Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, whose study outlining the LPSO's odd tendencies was published today (Aug. 12) in the journal PLOS One.
- Comet lander still silent, scientists shift focus to drilling
BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European scientists have revised their plans for the comet lander Philae and are now focussing on getting images and drill samples if communications are restored. After coming to rest in the shadows when it landed on a comet in November, Philae woke up in June, delighting scientists from the European Space Agency, who came up with plans for several experiments they wanted to run before working up to the most risky one - drilling into the surface. "The problem is not power, but communications," Aurelie Moussi from space agency CNES said in a webcast on Thursday.
- Armed and dangerous: octopus genetic secrets unveiled By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have unlocked the genetic secrets of one of Earth's underwater wonders - the octopus - whose eight sucker-studded arms bestow an otherworldly appearance and large brain place it among the smartest invertebrates. Researchers on Wednesday unveiled the first complete genome of an octopus or any species of cephalopod, the class of mollusks also including squid, cuttlefish and nautiluses. "Octopuses and other cephalopods are indeed remarkable creatures," said University of Chicago biology graduate student Caroline Albertin, who helped lead the study published in the journal Nature.