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  • Primate fate: Chinese fossils illuminate key evolutionary period

    The left lower jaw of Yunnanadapis folivorus, one of six new fossil primate species found in southern China, is pictured in this handout photoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A treasure trove of fossils of six furry critters that inhabited the trees of southern China 34 million years ago is providing a deeper understanding of a pivotal moment in the evolution of primates, the group that eventually gave rise to people. Scientists on Thursday announced the discovery of the remains of six previously unknown extinct primate species: four similar to Madagascar's lemurs, one similar to the nocturnal insect- and lizard-eating tarsiers of the Philippines and Indonesia, and one monkey-like primate. The primate lineage that led to monkeys, apes and people, called anthropoids, originated in Asia, with their earliest fossils dating from 45 million years ago.


  • Scientists win $3 million for detecting Einstein's waves

    File photo of Dr. Thorne of Caltech listening during news conference on detection of gravitational waves, in WashingtonBy Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - Researchers who helped detect gravitational waves for the first time, confirming part of Albert Einstein's theory in a landmark moment in scientific history, will share a $3 million Special Breakthrough Prize, according to the prize's selection committee. The Breakthrough Prizes for scientific achievements were created by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner along with several technology pioneers, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. In February, a team from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced a pair of giant laser detectors had measured the tiny ripples in space and time first theorized by Einstein a century ago, capping a decades-long quest.


  • For first time, scientists grow two-week-old human embryos in lab By Kate Kelland LONDON(Reuters) - Scientists have for the first time grown human embryos outside of the mother for almost two full weeks into development, giving unique insight into what they say is the most mysterious stage of early human life. Scientists had previously only been able to study human embryos as a culture in a lab dish until the seventh day of development when they had to implant them into the mother's uterus to survive and develop further. "This it the most enigmatic and mysterious stage of human development," said Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, a University of Cambridge professor who co-led the work.
  • Solar-powered plane lands in Arizona on round-the-world flight

    Pilots Borschberg and Piccard react after landing Solar Impulse 2 on the San Francisco to Phoenix leg of what they hope will be the first round-the-world solar-powered flight, in PhoenixBy Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solar-powered airplane midway through a historic bid to circle the globe completed the 10th leg of its journey on Monday, landing in Arizona after a 16-hour flight from California, the project team said. The Swiss team flying the aircraft in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies hopes eventually to complete its circumnavigation in Abu Dhabi, where the journey began in March 2015. The spindly, single-seat experimental aircraft, dubbed Solar Impulse 2, arrived in Phoenix shortly before 9 p.m., following a flight from San Francisco that took it over the Mojave Desert.


  • Newly discovered planets may boost search for life beyond Earth

    Handout of an artist's impression of the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 and its three planetsBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The discovery of three planets that circle a small, dim star could bolster the chances of finding life beyond Earth, astronomers said on Monday. The Earth-sized planets are orbiting their parent star, located in the constellation Aquarius relatively close to Earth at 40 light years away, at a distance that provides the right amount of heat for there to be liquid water on their surface, a condition scientists believe may be critical for fostering life. The discovery marked the first time that planets were found orbiting a common type of star known as an ultra-cool dwarf, the scientists said.


  • Mysterious Braided Hair May Belong to Medieval Saint

    Mysterious Braided Hair May Belong to Medieval SaintJamie Cameron, an archaeological research assistant at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, first visited Romsey Abbey, near the city of Southampton, on a school field trip when he was 7 years old. The Relics Cluster — dubbed the "Da Vinci Code Unit" by British newspapers, after the popular novel by author Dan Brown — is an interdisciplinary group of scientists that specializes in testing sacred objects and religious relics.


  • World's Tiniest Engines Could Power Microscopic Robots

    World's Tiniest Engines Could Power Microscopic Robots"There have been many small machines, but they operate incredibly slowly — taking many seconds or minutes to move a single arm, for instance — and with very low forces," said Jeremy Baumberg, director of the University of Cambridge's NanoPhotonics Centre and senior author of the new study. "For a nanomachine floating in water, swimming is like us swimming in a pool of treacle [a blend of molasses, sugar and corn syrup] — very, very viscous — so you need very large forces to move," Baumberg told Live Science. When the engine is cooled, the gel takes on water and expands, and the gold nanoparticles are strongly and quickly pushed apart, like a spring, the researchers explained.


  • New Print-Out Lasers Are So Cheap They're Disposable

    New Print-Out Lasers Are So Cheap They're DisposableUsing inkjet printers, scientists have made laser devices cheap enough to be thrown out after a single use. Lasers create their high-energy beams using a so-called gain medium, which takes advantage of the interactions between the electrons of its atoms and incoming photons to amplify light to high intensities. Typically, the gain medium is made from inorganic materials such as glasses, crystals or gallium-based semiconductors, but in recent years, researchers have investigated using organic carbon-based dyes instead.


  • Spaceflight Is Entering a New Golden Age, Says Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos

    Spaceflight Is Entering a New Golden Age, Says Blue Origin Founder Jeff BezosEarly 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

    Turkey and Football: How Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving in SpaceThanksgiving 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.


  • Governments should study worst-case global warming scenarios, former U.N. official says By Sebastien Malo PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A United Nations panel of scientists seeking ways for nations to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius should not dissuade governments from concentrating on bleaker scenarios of higher temperatures as well, its former chief said on Wednesday. Nations should be considering the potential impact of temperature rises of much as 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit), said Robert Watson, former head of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The U.N. panel was assigned to find ways to limit global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) after a 195-nation climate change summit in Paris in December.
  • Land titles for farmers help cut Brazil's forest loss: scientist By Chris Arsenault RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Brazil should speed up its program to grant small farmers formal land ownership to slow down the rate of logging and deforestation, a leading scientist said. Farmers on small holdings are responsible for about 30 percent of the logging and destruction of Brazil's vast forests, up from about 23 percent 10 years ago, said Daniel Nepstad, executive director of the California-based Earth Innovation Institute. "A lack of clear land title pushes small farmers to opt for cattle (rearing) instead of more intensive (food) production" said Nepstad, a specialist with 30 years of experience tracking Amazon deforestation told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
  • Science Explains Why Your Mom Calls You by Your Brother's Name Such "misnamings," or when a person calls someone else by the wrong name, occur frequently, according to the study. When people call someone by the wrong name, they tend to call that person by the name of someone in the same social group, the researchers found.
  • Pop went the weasel and down went the Large Hadron Collider

    FILE - A May 31, 2007 file photo shows a view of the Large Hadron Collider in its tunnel at the European Particle Physics Laboratory, CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. It's one of the physics world's most complex machines, and it has been immobilized — temporarily — by a weasel. Spokesman Arnaud Marsollier says the world's largest atom smasher, the LHC, at CERN, has suspended operations because a weasel invaded a transformer that helps power the machine and set off an electrical outage on Thursday night, April 28, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP, File)GENEVA (AP) — It's one of the physics world's most complex machines, and it has been immobilized — temporarily — by a weasel.


  • Do Australian Dragons Dream? Sleep Discovery Surprises Scientists

    Do Australian Dragons Dream? Sleep Discovery Surprises ScientistsMaybe, according to new research that finds rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep in a lizard, the Australian dragon, for the first time. REM sleep is characterized by brain waves that look similar to waking brain activity. In mammals, the large muscles of the body are immobile, but the eyes twitch randomly during REM sleep.


  • Scientists Find New Way to Tan or Lighten Skin Scientists have uncovered how human skin cells control pigmentation — a discovery that could lead to safer ways to tan or lighten the skin. Researchers found that skin color can be regulated by estrogen and progesterone, two of the main female sex hormones. Although this much was known to a limited degree, the new research revealed two cellular receptors that appear to control this process in skin cells called melanocytes.
  • Half Australia's Great Barrier Reef northern coral 'dead or dying': scientists

    A tourist boat floats above an area called the 'Coral Gardens' located off Lady Elliot Island and north-east from the town of Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia(This April 20 story has been corrected in headline and first paragraph to show that 50 percent of northern coral is dead or dying, not entire reef) By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists said on Wednesday that just seven percent of the Great Barrier Reef, which attracts around A$5 billion ($3.90 billion) in tourism every year, has been untouched by mass bleaching that is likely to destroy half of the northern coral. Although the impact has been exacerbated by one of the strongest El Nino weather systems in nearly 20 years, scientists believe climate change is the underlying cause. In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it's like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once," said Professor Terry Hughes, conveyor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, which conducted aerial surveys of the World Heritage site.


  • Scientists say oilfield wastewater spills release toxins

    FILE - In this July 10, 2014 file photo a worker builds up a berm against a massive saltwater spill from an underground pipeline on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation near Mandaree, N.D. Scientists say wastewater spills from oil development in western North Dakota are releasing toxins into soils and waterways. In a report published Wednesday, April 27, 2016, Duke University researchers say they detected high levels of lead, ammonium and other contaminants in surface waters affected by recent wastewater spills in the Bakken oilfield region. (AP Photo/Tyler Bell, File)Brine spills from oil development in western North Dakota are releasing toxins into soils and waterways, sometimes at levels exceeding federal water quality standards, scientists reported Wednesday.


  • Mysterious 'Haloes' on Pluto Puzzle Scientists

    Mysterious 'Haloes' on Pluto Puzzle ScientistsThe discovery of strange halo-like craters on Pluto has raised a new mystery about how the odd scars formed on the icy world. Pluto's "halo" craters are clearly visible in a new image from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which made the first-ever flyby of the dwarf planet in July 2015. In the image, a black-and-white view reveals dozens of ringed craters (NASA describes these formations as "haloed") strewn across the dark landscape of Vega Terra, a region in the far western reaches of the hemisphere photographed by New Horizons during its flyby.


  • Mars Comes to Earth: Scientists 'Visit' Red Planet with Augmented Reality

    Mars Comes to Earth: Scientists 'Visit' Red Planet with Augmented RealityNASA is aiming to send astronauts to Mars sometime in the 2030s, but a new technology could help scientists explore the surface of the Red Planet — from its sprawling craters to its enormous volcanoes — from right here on Earth. Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, partnered with Microsoft to develop software that uses the tech giant's HoloLens headsets to allow scientists to virtually explore and conduct scientific research on Mars. The HoloLens is an augmented reality platform that "allows us to overlay imagery on top of the world and integrate it into that world as I'm looking at it," Tony Valderrama, a software engineer at JPL, said Sunday (April 24) in a demonstration of the technology here at the Smithsonian magazine's "Future Is Here" festival.


  • Researchers use light to battle cancer By Ben Gruber BOSTON (Reuters) - In an intriguing approach to the fight against cancer, researchers for the first time have used light to prevent and reverse tumors using a technique called optogenetics to manipulate electrical signaling in cells. Scientists at Tufts University performed optogenetics experiments on frogs, often used in basic research into cancer because of the biological similarities in their tumors to those in mammals, to test whether this method already used in brain and nervous system research could be applied to cancer. "We call this whole research program cracking the bioelectric code," said biologist Michael Levin, who heads the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology.
  • Lap Dinos? Gigantic Sauropods Started Out Chihuahua-Size

    Lap Dinos? Gigantic Sauropods Started Out Chihuahua-SizeNow, the discovery of the animal's fossilized bones suggests that the family of ginormous dinosaurs that this titanosaur belonged to started out small — each about the size of a Chihuahua — and were precocial, a new study finds. "Baby Rapetosaurus gives us our first in-depth look at a sauropod within just a few weeks of hatching," said study lead researcher Kristina Curry Rogers, an associate professor of biology and geology at Macalester College in Minnesota. "That's where I found them several years ago, when I was searching for bones of ancient crocodiles and turtles," Curry Rogers told Live Science in an email.


  • Robot monk blends science and Buddhism at Chinese temple

    Master Xianfan looks at robot monk Xian'er as he demonstrates the robot's conversation function during a photo opportunity in Longquan Buddhist temple on the outskirts of BeijingBy Joseph Campbell BEIJING (Reuters) - A Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing has decided to ditch traditional ways and use technology to attract followers. Longquan temple says it has developed a robot monk that can chant Buddhist mantras, move via voice command, and hold a simple conversation. Named Xian'er, the 2-foot tall robot resembles a cartoon-like novice monk in yellow robes with a shaven head, holding a touch screen on his chest.


  • AstraZeneca taps gene pioneer Venter for huge drug-hunting sweep

    Genetic researcher Craig Venter is shown with a multiple camera exposure in his office in La JollaBy Ben Hirschler CAMBRIDGE, England (Reuters) - AstraZeneca , working with genome pioneer Craig Venter, is launching a massive gene hunt in the most comprehensive bet yet by a pharmaceutical firm on the potential of genetic variations to unlock routes to new medicines. The initiative, announced on Friday, involves sequencing up to 2 million human genomes - the complete set of genetic code that acts as the software of life - including 500,000 DNA samples collected by AstraZeneca in global clinical trials. Financial details of the 10-year project were not disclosed but Mene Pangalos, head of early drug development, said the company would be investing "hundreds of millions of dollars".


  • Some Science Coming from Japan's Ailing Hitomi Satellite

    Some Science Coming from Japan's Ailing Hitomi SatelliteJapan's troubled Hitomi satellite managed to collect some science data before going silent last month, scientists said. Officials haven't heard from the Hitomi X-ray astronomy satellite since late March, about six weeks after the satellite's launch, and the craft appears to have broken into several pieces. "I am aware of the situation right now with Hitomi," Hornschemeier said here Sunday (April 17), during a session at the American Physical Society's April Meeting.


  • Moon Mosaics: Groundbreaking Science Images of Stunning Lunar Science (Op-Ed)

    Moon Mosaics: Groundbreaking Science Images of Stunning Lunar Science (Op-Ed)Mark Robinson is a professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, LROC principal investigator, and a science team member on a number of missions including NEAR, CONTOUR, MESSENGER and Mars 2020. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was conceived and designed a decade ago to support a human return to the moon. In late 2004 after a competitive process, NASA selected seven science instruments for the LRO, including the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, commonly known as LROC (pronounced EL-rock).


  • Half Australia's Great Barrier Reef coral 'dead or dying': scientists

    A tourist boat floats above an area called the 'Coral Gardens' located off Lady Elliot Island and north-east from the town of Bundaberg in Queensland, AustraliaBy Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists said on Wednesday that just seven percent of the Great Barrier Reef, which attracts around A$5 billion ($3.90 billion) in tourism every year, has been untouched by mass bleaching that is likely to destroy half the coral. Mildly bleached coral can recover if the temperature drops, otherwise it may die. Although the impact has been exacerbated by one of the strongest El Nino weather systems in nearly 20 years, scientists believe climate change is the underlying cause.


  • Does The Full Moon Make Kids Hyper? Here’s What Science Says Kids really do sleep less when there's a full moon, but only by a few minutes, according to a new study that included children from a dozen countries. What's more, the study failed to find a link between the occurrence of the full moon and kids' activity levels, debunking the myth that kids are more hyper during a full moon. The study "provides solid evidence … that the associations between moon phases and children's sleep duration/activity behaviors are not meaningful from a public health standpoint," the researchers, from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada, wrote in the March 24 issue of the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics.
  • Impaled polar bear sculpture highlights global warming threat

    Sculpture is “Unbearable” are seen at front of Christiansborg Palace, seat of the Danish Parliament, in CopenhagenA sculpture of an impaled polar bear went on display on Friday in front of the Danish parliament to highlight the impact of global warming. The seven-meter high metal sculpture named "Unbearable" depicts a graph of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere sky-rocketing into the belly of a polar bear, gutting its abdomen and almost penetrating the back of the beast. Polar bears are among the animal species most threatened by the increase in global temperatures.


  • Skin Condition Linked to Risk of Aneurysm

    Skin Condition Linked to Risk of AneurysmThe effects of psoriasis go far deeper than the skin: The condition may raise a person's risk of a potentially deadly aneurysm, a new study from Denmark finds. People in the study who had psoriasis — an inflammatory skin condition that causes red, scaly patches of skin — also had a greater risk of having an abdominal aortic aneurysm, according to the study, published today (April 14) in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a relatively rare condition that occurs when the aorta, the large blood vessel that carries blood to the abdomen, becomes enlarged.


  • Here's the Best Way to Apologize, According to Science We've all been there — after you've given what seems to you like a heartfelt apology, the other person just doesn't buy it. Well, science is here to help: An effective apology has six key elements, according to a new study. "Apologies really do work, but you should make sure you hit as many of the six key elements as possible," Roy Lewicki, the lead author of the study and a professor emeritus of management and human resources at The Ohio State University, said in a statement.
  • Road Rage Science: Former NFL Player's Death Reveals Why We Lose It

    Road Rage Science: Former NFL Player's Death Reveals Why We Lose ItRoad rage may have played a role in the shooting death of former NFL player Will Smith in New Orleans over the weekend, police have said. Whether or not road rage is implicated, the incident highlights the real threat of what seem to be driver tantrums. And, according to scientists, freak-outs on the road can be considered a mental disorder, or at the very least, may stem from brain abnormalities.


  • DNA analysis could help improve your workout: study By Edward Baran LONDON (Reuters) - A new study suggests that athletes using DNA-matched training improved their performance almost three times more than those on mismatched programs. The study, published in Biology of Sport and conducted at the University of Central Lancashire, reviewed the performance of 28 young sportsmen and 39 young male soccer players over eight weeks. Reigning British Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford has also used the genetically guided information from the training test used in the study, DNAFit, as he prepares to go for gold in Rio.
  • Heat kills: Global warming surge may rout Great Barrier Reef's natural defenses

    File photo of Peter Gash, owner and manager of the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort in the Great Barrier Reef area, snorkelling during an inspection of the reef's conditionBy Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - A heat surge from global warming would overwhelm the natural ability of coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef to survive seasonal temperature changes, in much the way sun bathers would burn if they did not build their tan slowly. A study released on Thursday examined 27 years of temperature data along the world's biggest reef. It found that corals were able to cope with gains in water temperatures when the heat built up step-by-step, rather than abruptly.


  • Heat kills: Global warming surge may rout Great Barrier Reef's natural defences

    Wider Image - Great Barrier Reef At RiskBy Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - A heat surge from global warming would overwhelm the natural ability of coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef to survive seasonal temperature changes, in much the way sun bathers would burn if they did not build their tan slowly. A study released on Thursday examined 27 years of temperature data along the world's biggest reef. It found that corals were able to cope with gains in water temperatures when the heat built up step-by-step, rather than abruptly.


  • U.N. panel to study tough 1.5C limit on global warming

    Smoke billows from chimneys at chemical factory in Tianjin MunicipalityBy Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - The U.N.'s panel of climate scientists agreed on Thursday to study how to limit global warming to the toughest target suggeted by world leaders, saying even small rises in temperatures could be harmful. The panel would look into ways to restrict the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times after a 195-nation summit in Paris agreed in December to try and phase out net greenhouse gas emissions this century. Hoesung Lee, chair of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said there were "serious risks" with even minor rises in temperatures from current levels, for instance to coral reefs and to coasts from rising sea levels.


  • Scientists: Greenland ice sheet is melting freakishly early WASHINGTON (AP) — Greenland's massive ice sheet this week started melting freakishly early thanks to a weather system that brought unseasonably warm temperatures and rain, scientists say.
  • Obama touts robots, US ingenuity at White House Science Fair

    President Barack Obama laughs as he hugs Rebecca Yeung, 11, from Seattle, Wash., next to her sister Kimberly Yeung, 9, as they show him their homemade “spacecraft” that features a photograph of their late cat and is made of archery arrows and wood scraps which they launched into the stratosphere via a helium balloon that records location coordinates, temperature, velocity, and pressure and reports the data back to the them, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, during the 2016 White House Science Fair at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)WASHINGTON (AP) — They came with eco-glue and Lego launchers. Their tag board displays were filled with charts, graphs and research on pollution. There were no little kids with plaster volcanoes in this crowd. But there was a trash-eating robot.