30 October 2014

Google's Cancer-Detecting Nanoparticles: Are There Drawbacks?

Google is developing nanoparticles that the company hopes will catch early signs of diseases such as cancer, but are there potential drawbacks to the technology? The microscopic particles would be designed to bind to certain dangerous cells or molecules, such as cancer cells, or plaques in blood vessels that have the potential to cause heart attacks, according to BBC News. A person would swallow a pill containing the nanoparticles, and the tiny particles would travel through the body, looking for signs of disease. Then, because the particles are magnetic, a person could wear a magnetic wristband that would attract the particles, and allow the device to interpret information from the particles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

30 October 2014

Colon Cleansing: 7 Myths Busted

Although ads for colon cleansing products and services suggest they help strengthen the immune system, enhance well-being and aid weight loss through "detoxification," there isn't much science to back up these claims. "I have yet to see a well-designed study on colon cleansing in a reputable medical journal to support its health claims," said Dr. Ranit Mishori, an associate professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

30 October 2014

Earth's Water Existed 135 Million Years Earlier than Thought

Earth's Water Existed 135 Million Years Earlier than ThoughtThe new findings suggest that there was water in the inner solar system 135 million years earlier than previous evidence had shown. "Our findings show the earliest evidence of water in the inner solar system," said Adam Sarafian, a Ph.D. student at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and lead author of the new study. The smoking gun appears inside meteorites that once belonged to the asteroid Vesta, one of the largest members of the asteroid belt that sits between Jupiter and Mars. More than 4.5 billion years ago — or about 15 million years after solid bodies began to form around the young sun — water existed in the outer, cooler parts of the solar system, previous studies have shown.

30 October 2014

Magma 'Pancakes' May Have Fueled Toba Supervolcano

Magma 'Pancakes' May Have Fueled Toba SupervolcanoThe most catastrophic volcanic eruption in the last 2 million years may owe its superpower to stacks of hot molten rock layered like the jelly filling inside a sky-high wedding cake. The magma layers, called sills, start about 4 miles (7 kilometers) below Indonesia's Toba volcano. The discovery suggests the volcano is fed by sills stacked underground between older rock layers, instead of a shallow magma pool such as those typically drawn in volcano cartoons, the researchers said. The study, published today (Oct. 30) in the journal Science, could help explain how supervolcanoes store enormous quantities of magma before their terrifying blasts.

30 October 2014

Skin-eating Asian fungus imperils world's salamanders

Handout photo of an Eastern red-spotted newt at the Jefferson National Forest in VirginiaBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A skin-eating fungus that infiltrated Europe through the global wildlife trade is threatening to inflict massive losses on the continent's native salamanders including extinction of whole species and could do the same in North America, scientists say. An international research team said on Thursday the fungus, first detected in Europe last year, has killed salamanders in the Netherlands and Belgium and is expected soon to reach other European nations. They said it is closely related to another fungus that already has wiped out some amphibian species. ...

30 October 2014

Arizona school board votes to remove pages from biology textbook

By Daniel Wallis (Reuters) - An Arizona school board has voted to remove information about contraception methods from a biology textbook after a conservative majority decided it fell afoul of a state law that says materials should give a preference to childbirth or adoption over abortion. The members of the Gilbert Public Schools board, which covers at least 38 schools and 39,000 students mostly in Chandler and Mesa, voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to excise two pages from "Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections. ...

30 October 2014

Individual genetic differences may affect Ebola survival: study

Health workers pray at an Ebola treatment center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in Monrovia, Liberia, on October 27, 2014By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists have been puzzling for years over why some people survive Ebola while many others perish. A new study provides strong evidence that individual genetic differences play a major role in whether people die from the disease. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle reported their findings on Thursday in the journal Science. ...

30 October 2014

NASA Surveys Damage from Antares Rocket Explosion (Photos)

NASA Surveys Damage from Antares Rocket Explosion (Photos)NASA and the private spaceflight company Orbital Sciences Corp. have started surveying the damage left behind after Orbital's Antares rocket exploded on Tuesday evening (Oct. 28). While the fiery Antares rocket explosion did not destroy the launch pad or fuel tanks at the launch complex at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, "some repairs will be necessary," according to Orbital representatives. NASA officials have found that some support buildings at Wallops have blown-out windows and doors, and a sounding rocket launcher and other buildings near the pad have severe damage. The initial assessment also showed that the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods at the pad sustained the most damage, according to NASA.

29 October 2014

Probe of Virginia rocket blast begins; space station supplied

NASA handout photo of an aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities in Wallops Island, VirginiaBy Ian Simpson and Irene Klotz WALLOPS Va./CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - Authorities on Wednesday started investigating what caused an unmanned U.S. supply rocket to explode in a fireball moments after liftoff from a Virginia launch pad, destroying cargo and equipment bound for the International Space Station. The 14-story Antares rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, blasted off from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island at 6:22 p.m. (2222 GMT) on Tuesday but burst into flames moments later. ...

29 October 2014

RIP, Drain Brain: Science Experiments Lost in Antares Rocket Explosion

RIP, Drain Brain: Science Experiments Lost in Antares Rocket ExplosionWhen a private rocket exploded just after launch Tuesday (Oct. 28), science experiments developed by students, professional researchers and private companies went up in smoke. The private spaceflight company Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket was expected to launch the company's unmanned cargo-carrying Cygnus spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday evening. "We do want to express our disappointment that we were not able to fulfill our obligation to the International Space Station program and deliver this load of cargo, especially to the researchers who had science on board and the people that were counting on the various hardware and components that were going to the station," Orbital Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson said during a news conference after the rocket failure.

29 October 2014

NASA's Asteroid-Capture Mission Won't Help Astronauts Reach Mars: Scientist

NASA's Asteroid-Capture Mission Won't Help Astronauts Reach Mars: ScientistNASA's bold asteroid-capture mission is an expensive distraction that does little to advance the agency's overarching goal of getting humans to Mars, one prominent researcher argues. For the past 18 months, NASA has been working on a plan to drag an entire near-Earth asteroid, or a boulder plucked from a large space rock, into lunar orbit using a robotic probe. NASA officials say this "Asteroid Redirect Mission," or ARM, will help develop the technologies and know-how required to send astronauts to Mars, which the space agency hopes to accomplish by the mid-2030s. "The principal reason that ARM makes no sense is that it is a misstep off the path to Mars," Binzel told Space.com.

29 October 2014

Tiny Human Stomachs Grown in Lab

Tiny Human Stomachs Grown in LabThey may be small, but new lab-grown miniature human stomachs could one day help researchers better understand how the stomach develops, as well as the diseases that can strike it. Using human stem cells and a series of chemical switches, researchers grew stomachs measuring 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) in diameter, in lab dishes, according to a report published today (Oct. 29) in the journal Nature. "It was really remarkable to us how much it looked like a stomach," said researcher Jim Wells, a professor of developmental biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Growing a miniature stomach had its hurdles.

29 October 2014

Unmanned U.S. Atlas rocket blasts off with GPS satellite

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - An unmanned Atlas rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Wednesday to deliver a Global Positioning System navigation satellite into orbit for the U.S. Air Force. The 189-foot-tall (58-meter) rocket, built and launched by a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, lifted off at 1:21 p.m.. Perched on top of the rocket was a $245 million Boeing-built GPS satellite, the eighth in the military’s new Block 2F series. ...

28 October 2014

Giant tortoises rally from near extinction on Galapagos island

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservationists said on Tuesday they have brought giant tortoises found on the Galapagos island of Espanola back from the brink of extinction, gaining a foothold strong enough to allow humans to leave the reptiles alone. The tortoises can care for themselves," said James Gibbs, a vertebrate conservation biology professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry who led the study. Located in the Pacific about 600 miles (1,000 km) west of Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago is home to an array of unusual creatures that helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection following his 1835 visit. Española giant Galapagos tortoises, their scientific name is Chelonoidis hoodensis, measure 3 feet (1 meter) long with a saddle-backed shell.

27 October 2014

'Interstellar' Science: The Movie's Black Hole Explained (Video)

'Interstellar' Science: The Movie's Black Hole Explained (Video)"Interstellar" may be a work of fiction, but the upcoming film gives viewers an amazingly accurate view of a black hole, its creators say. Renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, an "Interstellar" executive producer, worked closely with the movie's visual-effects crew to come up with an unprecedentedly realistic portrait of "Gargantua," the monstrous black hole at the movie's core. "Neither wormholes nor black holes have been depicted in any Hollywood movie in the way that they actually would appear," Thorne said in a new explainer video produced by Wired magazine, which you can watch above. "I saw this disk wrap up over the black hole, and under the black hole," he said.

27 October 2014

US-Funded Research a Waste? Scientists Refute ‘Wastebook’ Criticism

Is the federal government spending hundreds of thousands of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to gamble with monkeys and teach tiny sea creatures how to synchronize-swim? "Wastebook does not question whether the studies are within the realm of basic science but rather if they are groundbreaking enough to warrant taxpayer funding over other priority research, such as Ebola or ALS, or incurring increased debt," a spokesperson from Coburn's office told Live Science in an email.

23 October 2014

Swiss scientists determine comet's 'perfume'

Rotten eggs, horse urine, formaldehyde, bitter almonds, alcohol, vinegar and a hint of sweet ether.

23 October 2014

The Science Behind Renée Zellweger's New Face

Photographs of actress Renée Zellweger at the Elle magazine's Women in Hollywood awards this week, showing her dramatically different appearance, have sparked the Internet's interest. The 45-year-old actress looked almost unrecognizable to fans who know her best from her earlier movies such as "Jerry Maguire" and "Bridget Jones's Diary." But two cosmetic surgeons told Live Science that Zellweger's transformation could be the result of relatively minor procedures, as well as weight loss and normal aging. Zellweger looks so different because her most distinctive features are the ones that changed dramatically, said both Dr. Michael C. Edwards, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and Dr. Stuart Linder, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. "That's what made her Renee Zellweger," Edwards told Live Science.

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. ...

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. ...