22 December 2014

Ebola Epidemic Continues in Africa, Despite Progress in Some Places

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has undergone a dramatic change in the past several months, U.S. health officials said today (Dec. 22). There has been "real progress" in the fight against the deadly viral disease, but eliminating Ebola will require much more work, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters. "The response is inspiring, but the challenges are sobering," said Frieden, who just returned from a trip to the region of West Africa affected by the outbreak. In Guinea, officials with Doctors Without Borders said they'd seen "the scariest thing I've heard," Frieden said: For the first time since the outbreak began, there were not enough beds for sick patients in treatment centers in the capital city of Conakry.

22 December 2014

Cosmic Art of Edward Belbruno Inspires Science and Spaceflight

Cosmic Art of Edward Belbruno Inspires Science and SpaceflightAs a scientist, Edward Belbruno has spent a career dreaming up trajectories across the solar system that allow spacecraft to buzz close by planets and change speed without using fuel. Belbruno's cosmic paintings are currently on display at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) Gallery 61 in New York City. Many of the works are inspired by, or are inspiration for, Belbruno's professional work in cosmology, spaceflight science and mathematics.

22 December 2014

Ursid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight: How to See It

Ursid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight: How to See ItThe Ursid meteor shower peaks tonight, and it should be a great show. When skywatchers think of meteor showers during the month of December, the Geminid shower (which peaked earlier this month) usually comes to mind. Even if you can't see tonight's meteor shower due to light pollution or bad weather, you can still catch the Ursids online thanks to the Slooh Community Observatory.

22 December 2014

Déjà Vu All Over Again: This Man Relived Every New Moment

Trapped in a time loop: That's how one man felt because of his recurring déjà vu episodes. Unlike the vague, fleeting sensation most people experience in déjà vu, his episodes were persistent and long. "Rather than simply the unsettling feelings of familiarity which are normally associated with déjà vu, he complained that it felt like he was actually retrieving previous experiences from memory, not just finding them familiar," the researchers said. What made the case even more peculiar was that the man didn't suffer from any of the neurological conditions previously reported in people who experience frequent déjà vu episodes.

22 December 2014

'Illusion Coatings' Are Like Futuristic Camouflage

'Illusion Coatings' Are Like Futuristic CamouflageThis means "the act of cloaking would prevent an enclosed antenna or sensor from communicating with the outside world," lead study author Zhi Hao Jiang, an electrical engineer at Pennsylvania State, said in a statement. These were covered with patterns of copper stripes that interacted with the composite material to scatter radio waves in a very precise way. Depending on the copper patterns used, the researchers could make a copper antenna or sensor look like silicon or Teflon when it was scanned by radio waves. "The coatings we invented can still allow for the electromagnetic communication between the coated object and the outside world," said study co-author Douglas Werner, an electrical engineer at Pennsylvania State University.

19 December 2014

Europe recommends approval for first stem-cell therapy

LONDON (Reuters) - European regulators have recommended approval of the first medicine containing stem cells to treat a rare condition caused by burns to the eye. The European Medicines Agency said on Friday that Holoclar, from privately held Italian company Chiesi, had been given a green light for moderate to severe limbal stem cell deficiency due to physical or chemical burns. Left untreated, the condition can result in blindness. Holoclar is a living tissue product made from a biopsy taken from a small undamaged area of the patient’s cornea and grown in the laboratory using cell culture. ...

18 December 2014

Disgraced Japan researcher fails to replicate 'game changing' stem cell results

Haruko Obokata, a researcher at semi-governmental research institute RIKEN, lowers her eyes during a news conference in OsakaBy Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - A disgraced Japanese researcher has failed to replicate results hailed as a potential breakthrough in stem-cell treatment and efforts to do so will be abandoned, officials at her research institute said on Friday. The scandal involving the research, which detailed simple ways to reprogram mature cells back to an embryonic-like state, eventually led to the retraction of papers published in the influential journal Nature and tarnished the reputation of Japanese scientific research. ...

18 December 2014

Songbirds fly coop long before tornadoes arrive in Tennessee

Henry Streby holds a male golden-winged warbler and the geolocator that the bird carried in the Cumberland Mountains of TennesseeBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - You might want to be careful about who you call a birdbrain. Some of our feathered friends exhibit powers of perception that put humans to shame. Scientists said on Thursday that little songbirds known as golden-winged warblers fled their nesting grounds in Tennessee up to two days before the arrival of a fierce storm system that unleashed 84 tornadoes in southern U.S. states in April. The researchers said the birds were apparently alerted to the danger by sounds at frequencies below the range of human hearing. ...

18 December 2014

SpaceX delays planned cargo run to space station to early January

Falcon 9 rocket is launched by Space Exploration Technologies on its fourth cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in FloridaCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies is delaying the planned launch on Friday of an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA, to early January, officials said on Thursday. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida had been planned for 1:22 p.m. EST, but an undisclosed technical issue with the rocket prompted SpaceX, as the company is known, to postpone the flight until Jan 6. The problem surfaced during routine prelaunch test firing of the rocket’s engines, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said. ...

17 December 2014

India tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market

By Aditya Kalra NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's space agency successfully tested on Thursday its most powerful satellite launch vehicle that can put heavier payloads into space, and, it hopes, win India a bigger slice of the $300 billion global space industry. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) also checked the working of an unmanned crew module on the vehicle, which could give the agency the option of manned missions. ...

17 December 2014

Voyager 1 Rides 'Tsunami Wave' in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 Rides 'Tsunami Wave' in Interstellar SpaceIt turns out that sailing through interstellar space isn't so peaceful. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft — the only object made by humans to reach interstellar space — might still be caught what scientists have described as a cosmic "tsunami wave," a shock wave that first hit the probe in February, according to new research. You can hear the eerie interstellar vibrations in a video, courtesy of NASA. "Most people would have thought the interstellar medium would have been smooth and quiet," study researcher Don Gurnett, professor of physics at the University of Iowa, and the principal investigator of Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument, said in a statement from NASA.

16 December 2014

Back to the future: Scientists want 'rewilded' crops to boost agriculture

By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists should "re-wild" food crops by inserting lost genetic properties of ancient, edible plants in order to boost agricultural output for a growing population, a new study said. Important properties of wild plants, including varieties of wheat and rice, have been unintentionally lost during thousands of years of breeding. When humans first domesticated wheat around 7500 BC, farmers chose to use seeds based on a few selected traits, particularly their yields. ...

16 December 2014

NASA Probe Piecing Together How Mars' Atmosphere Escapes to Space

NASA Probe Piecing Together How Mars' Atmosphere Escapes to SpaceA NASA spacecraft that recently arrived in orbit around Mars is already helping to solve a Martian mystery. Scientists are using the space agency's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft to gather more data about how Mars' atmosphere bled molecules out into space over time. The agency released early results from the probe today (Dec. 15), showing how the continuous stream of particles emanating from the sun, called the solar wind, bury more deeply into the Martian atmosphere than scientists had previously thought. "Over the course of the full mission, we'll be able to fill in this picture and really understand the processes by which the atmosphere changed over time," Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, said in a statement.

12 December 2014

Why Birds Don't Have Teeth

Why Birds Don't Have TeethThe common ancestor of all living birds sported a set of pearly whites 116 million years ago, a new study finds. In the study, researchers looked at the mutated remains of tooth genes in modern birds to figure out when birds developed "edentulism" — an absence of teeth. Ancient birds have left only a fragmented fossil record, but studying the genes of modern birds can help clarify how the bird lineage has changed over time. "DNA from the crypt is a powerful tool for unlocking secrets of evolutionary history," Mark Springer, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside and one of the study's lead researchers, said in a statement.

11 December 2014

Actor Seth Green Designs Mission Patch for Space Station Science

Actor Seth Green Designs Mission Patch for Space Station ScienceLooking at the latest mission patch bound for the International Space Station, you would never know it was designed by actor Seth Green.

11 December 2014

Scientists work to conserve 2,500-year-old mummy

FILE- In this Dec. 5, 2014, photo, the mummified body of Minirdis, a 14-year-old Egyptian boy and his exposed toes lie in his opened coffin after J.P. Brown and his team of curators at the Field Museum opened the coffin for the first time in Chicago. The team opened the coffin of the 2,500-year-old mummy to perform conservation work before it becomes part of a traveling exhibition. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)CHICAGO (AP) — Conservation work has started at Chicago's Field Museum on the 2,500-year-old mummy of a 14-year-old Egyptian boy.

10 December 2014

Scientists create 'feel fuller' food ingredient

LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists have developed an ingredient that makes foods more filling, and say initial tests in overweight people showed that it helped prevent them gaining more weight. The ingredient, developed by researchers at London's Imperial College and at the University of Glasgow, contains propionate, a natural substance that stimulates the gut to release hormones that act on the brain to reduce hunger. ...

10 December 2014

U.N.'s Ban says no 'time for tinkering' on global warming action

Leaders pose for the media during the High Level Segment of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in LimaBy Valerie Volcovici and Mitra Taj LIMA (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing deep concern about slow action to combat climate change, told governments at U.N. talks in Lima on Tuesday there was no "time for tinkering" and urged a radical shift to greener economies. Ban said there was still a chance of limiting global warming to an internationally agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to help avert floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels. ...

10 December 2014

Guiding African Wildlife Through Global Warming

Guiding African Wildlife Through Global WarmingJessica Arriens is a public affairs specialist for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. The Congo basin is an unruly ribbon of tropical forest, more than a million square miles spanning six countries in Central Africa, running inward along the equator from the continent's western coast. In Central Africa, those forces include deforestation, climate change, hunting and more. The region is "so enriched with life," says Mary "Katy" Gonder, a Drexel University biologist and one of the lead researchers on the Central African Biodiversity Alliance (CABA).

10 December 2014

Rhino species to die unless science can help

In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, keeper Mohamed Doyo walks with female northern white rhino Fatu as she is let out of her pen to graze, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The keepers of three of the last six northern white rhinos on Earth said Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 that it is highly unlikely the three will ever reproduce naturally, with recent medical examinations of them showing the species is doomed to extinction, unless science can help. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)OL PEJETA, Kenya (AP) — The task was never going to be easy: Fly four highly endangered rhinos from a Czech Republic zoo to East Africa, drive them to the savannah grasses of Mount Kenya and hope that the natural environment helps produce a calf, staving off extinction.