21 October 2014

Hawaii scientists return to ocean for weapon study

University of Hawaii scientists plan to embark on a final expedition to deep waters off Oahu to study how chemical weapons dumped in the ocean decades ago are affecting seawater, marine life and sediment. ...

21 October 2014

Nurse Nina Pham's Condition Is Improved

Nina Pham, the first Dallas nurse to contract Ebola, has had her health status upgraded from "fair" to "good," according to a statement released on Tuesday evening by the National Institutes of Health. Pham was transfered last Thursday to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she had contracted the disease. In late September, Pham helped care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

21 October 2014

How a Liberian Rubber Plant Prevented Ebola Spread

The rate of Ebola cases in one part of Liberia, where a certain rubber tree plantation operates, is far lower than in other parts of the country, suggesting that the strategies the company uses to reduce transmission of the virus could be useful elsewhere, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The company, Firestone Liberia, Inc., has operated the planation since 1926, and the company-run hospital provides health services to plant's employees and their family members, a total of about 80,000 people. Between Aug. 1 and Sept. 23, there were 71 Ebola cases in the Firestone community, a rate of 0.09 percent, which is much lower than the rate of 0.23 percent in the rest of Margibi County, Liberia, where Firestone is located. "I went to see the Firestone hospital in Liberia at the end of August," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement.

21 October 2014

NASA Mars Probes See Rare Comet Flyby (Photos)

NASA Mars Probes See Rare Comet Flyby (Photos)A NASA probe orbiting Mars and a rover on the planet's surface have beamed back some amazing views of a comet that made an extremely close pass by the Red Planet on Sunday (Oct. 19). The space agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Opportunity rover took some incredible images of Comet Siding Spring (also called C/2013 A1) as the icy object zoomed past the Red Planet over the weekend.  MRO's new photos show the comet's nucleus shining just 86,000 miles (138,000 kilometers) from the orbiter. The orbiter's images are "the highest-resolution views ever acquired of a comet coming from the Oort Cloud at the fringes of the solar system," NASA officials said in a statement.


21 October 2014

Dr. Oz's 'Magic Weight-Loss Cure' Loses Remaining Support

Dr. Oz's 'Magic Weight-Loss Cure' Loses Remaining SupportGreen coffee bean extract, which Dr. Mehmet Oz promoted on his show as a "magic weight-loss cure," had one scientific study backing up the extract's purported effects. When asked specifically about the green coffee bean extract, Oz cited a study that found people who took the supplements did lose weight. The green coffee bean manufacturer, Applied Food Sciences Inc., agreed to pay a $3.5 million settlement after the Federal Trade Commission charged the company with using the results of the flawed study to make baseless claims, the agency announced in September. According to the FTC, the Texas-based company paid researchers in India to conduct a clinical trial on overweight people, to test whether their dietary supplement that contained green coffee extract actually held weight-loss benefits.


21 October 2014

Greek archaeologists unearth head of sphinx in Macedonian tomb

ATHENS (Reuters) - Archaeologists unearthed the missing head of one of the two sphinxes found guarding the entrance of an ancient tomb in Greece's northeast, as the diggers made their way into the monument's inner chambers, the culture ministry said on Tuesday. The tomb on the Amphipolis site, about 100 km (65 miles) from Greece's second-biggest city Thessaloniki, has been hailed by archaeologists as a major discovery from the era of Alexander the Great. They say it appears to be the largest ancient tomb to have been discovered in Greece. ...

21 October 2014

Orionid Meteor Shower: See Halley's Comet Crumbs Online Tonight

Orionid Meteor Shower: See Halley's Comet Crumbs Online TonightSome skywatchers captured incredible views of the Orionid meteor shower earlier this week, but even if you can't catch the peaking shower outside tonight (Oct. 21), you can still see it live online. You can watch the broadcast — which will feature views from telescopes in the Canary Islands and Arizona — live directly through Slooh (http://live.slooh.com/) starting at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 Oct. 22 GMT). "The Orionids are usually the year’s third-richest meteor shower," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. Astrophotographers around the world have already been burning the midnight oil to capture Orionid meteors on camera.


21 October 2014

23andMe, MyHeritage partner to combine DNA and family trees

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Personal genetics company 23andMe and Israel's MyHeritage said on Tuesday they would collaborate to enable people to discover their heritage based on genetic ancestry and documented family history. California-based 23andMe, which is backed by Google, is a pioneer in the sale of home genetic tests and has more than 750,000 clients. It sells a $99 DNA test, from which it provides its customers ancestry-related genetic reports. MyHeritage helps families find their history with family tree tools and a library of more than 5.5 billion historical records. ...

20 October 2014

Cell transplant helps paralyzed man walk with frame

Paralysed Man Walks Again After Cell TransplantBy Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - A Bulgarian man who was paralyzed from the chest down in a knife attack can now walk with the aid of a frame after receiving pioneering transplant treatment using cells from his nose. The technique, described as a breakthrough by a study in the journal Cell Transplantation, involved transplanting what are known as olfactory ensheathing cells into the patient's spinal cord and constructing a "nerve bridge" between two stumps of the damaged spinal column. "We believe... ...


20 October 2014

New apps bring kids' playtime back to real world

Woman walks past icons for Apple Apps at San Francisco retail storeBy Natasha Baker TORONTO (Reuters) - Parents eager to get their children away from television and video screens can turn to new apps that get youngsters to learn while playing in the real world. New iPad and iPhone apps for children by companies such as Osmo and Tiggly are designed to help children learn spatial, language, counting and physics concepts while playing with tangible objects. Tangram, Words and Newton from California-based Osmo let children manipulate objects in the real world and to interact with games on the screen. ...


20 October 2014

Incredible Science and Historical Artifacts Up for Auction

Incredible Science and Historical Artifacts Up for AuctionA working Apple-1 computer, a window from the Manhattan Project's bomb-development site and a letter from Charles Darwin discussing the details of barnacle sex will go on sale this month at an auction of rare scientific artifacts. A viewing window from the Manhattan Project — valued at around $200,000 — is another big-ticket item at the auction. The Manhattan Project was a secret government operation during World War II designed to develop the world's first atomic bomb, and included many famous scientists like J. Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. A collection of astronomer George Willis Ritchey's deep-space photographs, books and telescope blueprints is also on sale.


19 October 2014

Science meets voodoo in a New Orleans festival of water

By Kathy Finn NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Perhaps no other city in the United States is as well-suited as New Orleans to wed a scientific discussion of environment with a celebration of the occult. That's exactly what unfolded on Saturday at "Anba Dlo," an annual New Orleans festival where prominent scientists joined with practitioners of the voodoo religion to look for answers to the challenges of dealing with water. In "The Big Easy," a low-lying Louisiana city devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and threatened by the BP oil spill of 2010, water is a subject nearly impossible to ignore. ...

19 October 2014

Comet makes rare close pass by Mars as spacecraft watch

Comet C/2013 A1, also known as Siding Spring, is seen as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA's Hubble Space TelescopeBy Irene Klotz NEW YORK (Reuters) - A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system on Sunday made a rare, close pass by Mars where a fleet of robotic science probes were poised for studies. Comet Siding Spring passed just 87,000 miles (140,000 km) from Mars, less than half the distance between Earth and the moon and 10 times closer than any known comet has passed by Earth, NASA said. ...


19 October 2014

Humans should thank ancient Scottish fish fossils for joy of sex

¿Es ésta la primera cópula con penetración de la historia?By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying fossils have discovered that the intimate act of sexual intercourse used by humans was pioneered by ancient armored fishes, called placoderms, about 385 million years ago in Scotland. In an important discovery in the evolutionary history of sexual reproduction, the scientists found that male fossils of the Microbrachius dicki, which belong to a placoderm group, developed bony L-shaped genital limbs called claspers to transfer sperm to females. Females, for their part, developed small paired bones to lock the male organs in place for ...


18 October 2014

Goliath Encounter: Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in Rainforest

Goliath Encounter: Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in RainforestPiotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat.


17 October 2014

Exclusive: U.S. requests production plans for Ebola drug ZMapp

By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. officials have asked three advanced biology laboratories to submit plans for producing the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which ran out after it was given to a handful of medical workers who contracted the disease in West Africa, government and lab officials said on Friday. The "task order" issued on Thursday by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) asks that detailed plans, including budgets and timetables, be submitted by Nov. 10. ...

17 October 2014

U.S. requests production plans for Ebola drug ZMapp

Long holds up a copy of a magazine with an Ebola headline as public health officials testify before a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, in WashingtonBy Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. officials have asked three advanced biology laboratories to submit plans for producing the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which ran out after it was given to a handful of medical workers who contracted the disease in West Africa, government and lab officials said on Friday. The "task order" issued on Thursday by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) asks that detailed plans, including budgets and timetables, be submitted by Nov. 10. ...


17 October 2014

Comet's Mars Flyby Sunday Has Scientists Abuzz

Comet's Mars Flyby Sunday Has Scientists AbuzzA comet's close shave with Mars this weekend could reveal some key insights about the Red Planet and the solar system's early days, researchers say. "On Oct. 19, we're going to observe an event that happens maybe once every million years," Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division, said in a news conference earlier this month. Siding Spring, whose core is 0.5 to 5 miles (0.8 to 8 km) wide, likely formed somewhere between Jupiter and Neptune about 4.6 billion years ago — just a few million years after the solar system began coming together. Many of the objects in the region where the comet was born were incorporated into newly forming planets, but a different fate awaited Siding Spring, researchers said: It apparently had a close encounter with one of these planets and was booted out into the Oort Cloud, a frigid comet repository at the very outer reaches of the solar system.


17 October 2014

Are we there yet? Scientists prepare for change of epoch

Undated NASA handout picture of North Korea (the dark area) and South Korea as seen from the International Space StationBy Emma Anderson BERLIN (Reuters) - Scientists from around the world met this week to decide whether to call time on the Holocene epoch after 11,700 years and begin a new geological age called the Anthropocene - to reflect humankind's deep impact on the planet. For decades, researchers have asked whether humanity's impact on the Earth's surface and atmosphere mean we have entered the Anthropocene - or new human era. ...


17 October 2014

25 Years After Loma Prieta, Earthquake Science Is Transformed

25 Years After Loma Prieta, Earthquake Science Is TransformedThe Oct. 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake was America's first widely-shared natural disaster. The TV crews at San Francisco's Candlestick Park soon turned their cameras on the ravaged city, and frightening images poured in of people trapped in crumpled freeways, burning buildings and toppled storefronts. The magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake, centered below the Santa Cruz Mountains, shook much of central California. The resulting damage ultimately revitalized San Francisco, with a new waterfront replacing the demolished Embarcadero Freeway and a $30 billion investment from public and private organizations for redevelopment and seismic upgrades.