27 November 2014

Earthlings to send 90,000 hellos to Mars

90,000 Messages Will Be Beamed to Mars FridayBy Irene Klotz (Reuters) - Radio telescopes on Earth will beam 90,000 messages to Mars on Friday to commemorate the launch 50 years ago of the first robotic probe to visit the planet. A U.S. space funding company called Uwingu organized the extraterrestrial shout-out to mark the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Mariner 4 mission and to raise funds for its other projects. Uwingu’s “Beam Me To Mars” initiative invited interested participants to send digital radio-wave transmissions of their names, messages and pictures to Mars for fees ranging from $5 to $99. ...


27 November 2014

6 Potential Dangers of Juice Cleanses and Liquid Diets

For example, people doing the Master Cleanse drink six to 12 glasses daily of a mixture of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and water, for 10 days. But are these so-called detox diets of liquefied fruits and vegetables or lemonade-flavored drinks helpful, or just plain hype? The premise of doing juice cleanses and other types of liquid detox regimens is false, said Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis. There are detoxifying enzymes in the liver that break down alcohol and other drugs, and the kidneys handle water-soluble toxins, Applegate said.

27 November 2014

Space Rock Sheds Light on Mysterious Mineral on Earth

A rock from space is giving scientists the first glimpse of a mineral long thought to be the most abundant mineral on Earth, but which researchers lacked a natural sample of until now. This discovery could shed light on the structure and dynamics of the inner Earth, as well as the early history of the solar system, according to the new paper. "The search for this mineral in meteorites has been going on for decades — it was just a matter of finding the right method for detecting it," said lead study author Oliver Tschauner, a mineralogist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The mineral is a high-density version of magnesium iron silicate.

27 November 2014

New 'Super-Repellent' Material Could Protect Medical Implants

Scientists have created the most non-stick surfaces yet, using microscopic liquid-repellent structures instead of plastic coatings such as Teflon. Most liquid-repellent surfaces use plastic coatings.

27 November 2014

Sesame Street Muppets Counting Down to NASA Orion Launch

Sesame Street Muppets Counting Down to NASA Orion LaunchElmo, Cookie Monster and the other popular muppets from "Sesame Street" have joined forces with NASA to count down to the launch of the first Orion spacecraft, scheduled for Dec. 4. Beginning Tuesday (Nov. 25) and over the next ten days, NASA and "Sesame Street" will share online comic strips, videos and graphics of the Muppet characters interacting with the Orion space capsule in an effort to educate a new generation of space explorers about the Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) and NASA's future journey to Mars. "9 days to go before NASA's Orion launch!" wrote Sesame Street on Twitter on Tuesday, captioning a cartoon of The Count counting heat shield tiles. The muppet-led Orion countdown is part of a collaboration between NASA and the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the television show.


27 November 2014

Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving in Space (Video)

Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving in Space (Video)This Thursday (Nov. 27) will be full of feast, family and friends as people celebrate Thanksgiving — both on Earth and on the International Space Station (ISS). The orbiting lab's American astronauts — commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore and flight engineer Terry Virts — and Italian-born flight engineer Samantha Cristoforetti will take Thursday off from their normal duties to celebrate the holiday. Orbiting about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth, Wilmore took a moment to send a Thanksgiving greeting for everyone on the ground.


26 November 2014

Ultra-strong graphene's weak spot could be key to fuel cells

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - In a discovery that experts say could revolutionize fuel cell technology, scientists in Britain have found that graphene, the world's thinnest, strongest and most impermeable material, can allow protons to pass through it. The researchers, led by the Nobel prize winner and discoverer of graphene Andre Geim of Manchester University, said their finding also raised the possibility that, in future, graphene membranes could be used to "sieve" hydrogen gas from the atmosphere to then generate electricity. ...

26 November 2014

Exclusive: First gene therapy drug sets million-euro price record

An operator installs a chromatography column to purify the gene therapy drug Glybera at Dutch biotech company uniQure in AmsterdamBy Ludwig Burger and Ben Hirschler FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) - The Western world's first gene therapy drug is set to go on sale in Germany with a 1.1 million euro ($1.4 million) price tag, a new record for a medicine to treat a rare disease. The sky-high cost of Glybera, from Dutch biotech firm UniQure and its unlisted Italian marketing partner Chiesi, shows how single curative therapies to fix faulty genes may upend the conventional pharmaceutical business model. ...


26 November 2014

Gut check: how vultures dine on rotting flesh, and like it

File of vultures feasting on a road kill as commuters pass by real estate for sale in Great FallsBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They snack on danger and dine on death, merrily munching on rotting flesh that would certainly sicken or kill any person and most other animals. But how do vultures do it? These feathery scavengers have one of the toughest guts on the planet, that is how. Scientists said on Tuesday that their analysis of two species of North American vultures showed that the birds possess a ferociously acidic digestive system and intestines loaded with two fiendish kinds of bacteria. ...


26 November 2014

Thanksgiving Science: Why Gratitude Is Good for You

Thanksgiving may be the only major American holiday focused on giving thanks for all of life's blessings, but gratitude isn't just a good excuse for chowing down on turkey and pumpkin pie; it's also a way to promote good health and well-being, experts say.

25 November 2014

One for every leg: scientists map centipede genome

"Bug Chef" David Gordon holds a Vietnamese centipede during his 4th annual "Bug-A-Thon" event at Ripley's Believe It or Not museum in HollywoodLONDON (Reuters) - An international team of more than 100 researchers has mapped the genome of the centipede and found that, while it easily outpaces humans on number of legs, it falls short when it comes to genes. Sequencing the genome of Strigamia maritima, a northern European centipede, the 106-strong team found it has around 15,000 genes - some 7,000 fewer than a human. ...


25 November 2014

'Interstellar' Science: Is Wormhole Travel Possible?

'Interstellar' Science: Is Wormhole Travel Possible?Wormholes are theoretical tunnels through the fabric of space-time that could potentially allow rapid travel between widely separated points — from one galaxy to another, for example, as depicted in Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar," which opened in theaters around the world earlier this month. The novel came out in 1985, while the movie (which also stars Matthew McConaughey, apparently a wormhole connoisseur) was released in 1997.


25 November 2014

Cosmic Case of Missing Stars Baffles Scientists

Cosmic Case of Missing Stars Baffles ScientistsA massive population of stars is missing, and scientists are stumped as to where it could be. New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope challenge a previous theory for the apparent disappearance of a massive number of stars. Because some star clusters around our Milky Way galaxy have fewer stars than observations suggest they should, astronomers suspected many of these stars were ejected from their clusters to ultimately find new homes in the Milky Way. "If these kicked-out stars were there, we would see them — but we don't!" Frank Grundahl of Aarhus University in Denmark, a co-author on the paper, said in a statement. The finding draws into question whether the missing stars were ever present at all, in globular clusters around Fornax or the Milky Way.


24 November 2014

Nobel Medal for DNA discovery could fetch $3.5 million at auction

By Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Nobel Prize gold medal awarded to American scientist Dr. James Watson, a co-discoverer of DNA, is expected to sell for up to $3.5 million at auction next month in New York, Christie's said on Monday. Watson, along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, unraveled the double-helix structure and function of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in England in 1953 in a discovery that heralded the modern era of biology. The medal, the first to be offered by a living recipient, will go under the hammer on Dec. 4, with a pre-sale estimate of $2.5 million to $3. ...

23 November 2014

Multi-national crew reaches space station

ISS crew Shkaplerov matches palm with his daughter Kira from a bus window before the launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket at the Baikonur cosmodromeBy Irene Klotz (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan on Sunday to deliver three new crew members to the International Space Station, including Italy's first female astronaut. A Soyuz capsule carrying incoming station commander Terry Virts from U.S. space agency NASA, Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov from the Russian Federal Space Agency and first-time flier Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency lifted off at 2101 GMT (4.01 p.m. EST) Sunday. ...


21 November 2014

Small Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global Warming

Small Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global WarmingSmall volcanic eruptions account for part of the global warming slowdown since 2000, a new study suggests. Until now, the climate impacts of small volcanic blasts were overlooked because their planet-cooling particles cluster below the reach of satellites, scientists reported Oct. 31 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The stratosphere is the second layer of Earth's atmosphere, above the one in which humans live (the troposphere). Closer to the polar regions, the boundary drops to about 6 miles (10 km), said lead study author David Ridley, an atmospheric scientist at MIT.


20 November 2014

Obama plugs science, math education at ceremony

President Barack Obama holds up a compact flash memory card as an example of technology innovations during his remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, before awarding the National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation. The awards are the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday that 19 scientists, researchers and innovators who received the country's highest honor for their life-changing work embody the spirit of the nation and its "sense that we push against limits and that we're not afraid to ask questions."


20 November 2014

Parallel Worlds Could Explain Wacky Quantum Physics

Parallel Worlds Could Explain Wacky Quantum PhysicsThe idea that an infinite number of parallel worlds could exist alongside our own is hard to wrap the mind around, but a version of this so-called Many Worlds theory could provide an answer to the controversial idea of quantum mechanics and its many different interpretations. Bill Poirier, a professor of physics at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, proposed a theory that not only assumes parallel worlds exist, but also says their interaction can explain all the quantum mechanics "weirdness" in the observable universe. Poirier first published the idea four years ago, but other physicists have recently started building on the idea and have demonstrated that it is mathematically possible. Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that describes the rules that govern the universe on the microscopic scale.


19 November 2014

CERN scientists discover 2 new subatomic particles

GENEVA (AP) — Scientists at the world's largest smasher said Wednesday they have discovered two new subatomic particles never seen before that could widen our understanding of the universe.

18 November 2014

Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)

Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)With the goal of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, nonprofit SpaceIL is competing for the Google Lunar XPrize: a modern race to the moon. First, instead of developing a rover to drive 500 m like most other teams, SpaceIL engineers are pursuing a "hop" — using the spacecraft's propulsion system first to land, and second to take off again and land 500 m away. Second, we are using the mission not only to stimulate technological advancement, but also to investigate the lunar magnetic field: To that aim, SpaceIL will be carrying a scientific experiment that will advance humanity's shared understanding of the moon. Although magnetized rocks were discovered decades ago, and astronauts returned some samples to Earth for research, the origin of the magnetic field presents an enigma — and an opportunity.