2 March 2015

Harvard prevention trial studies tau, Alzheimer's other protein

By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Alzheimer's researchers at Harvard for the first time are scanning the brains of healthy patients for the presence of a hallmark protein called tau, which forms toxic tangles of nerve fibers associated with the fatal disease. The new scans are part of a large clinical trial called Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer's or A4, the first designed to identify and treat patients in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's, before memory loss begins. Patients accepted into the A4 trial already have deposits of beta amyloid, the other protein associated with Alzheimer's. The addition of the tau scan will allow scientists to get a much clearer picture of the events that lead to Alzheimer's. The disease affects 5 million Americans, and 16 million are projected to be afflicted by 2050. Dr. Reisa Sperling of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who is leading the 1,000-patient trial, said tau is commonly found in small amounts in healthy people over age 70, but it is generally confined to an area of the brain called the medial temporal lobe.

2 March 2015

Hit the Sack! People Who Get a Good Night's Sleep Are Happier

This chart shows the sleeping patterns of the world’s most successful people compared with normal working adultsHappiness and a good night's sleep seem to go hand in hand, a new poll suggests.


2 March 2015

3 to 5 Cups of Coffee a Day May Lower Risk of Heart Attacks

The effects of coffee consumption on cardiovascular health have led to much debateGood news for people who drink coffee every day: Consuming a moderate amount of coffee could lower the risk of clogged arteries that can lead to a heart attack, a new study finds. The study of healthy young adults in Korea found that, compared with people who didn't drink coffee, those who drank three to five cups of java per day had a lower risk of having calcium deposits in their coronary arteries, which is an indicator of heart disease. The study participants who drank three to four cups had the lowest risk of developing clogged arteries seen in the study, said Dr. Eliseo Guallar, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, and co-author of the study published today (March 2) in the journal Heart. "But the risk went down with just one cup per day," compared with the risk of people who drank no coffee, Guallar added.


2 March 2015

Curt Michel, Scientist-Astronaut Who Left NASA After Losing the Moon, Dies at 80

Curt Michel, Scientist-Astronaut Who Left NASA After Losing the Moon, Dies at 80Curt Michel, an astrophysicist who was among NASA's first scientist-astronauts but who resigned when it became clear he would not fly to the moon, died on Feb. 23. Curt Michel's death was reported on Friday (Feb. 27) by Rice University in Houston, where served as a faculty member before and after his time with NASA. "Although he retired in 2000 after 37 years at Rice, Michel continued to keep an office on campus, where he pursued his studies of solar winds [and] radio pulsars," stated the university in a press release. Michel was an assistant professor for space science at Rice when he was selected with NASA's fourth group of astronauts in June 1965.


2 March 2015

Dwarf Planet Ceres to Be Revealed in 'Stunning Detail' by NASA Probe

Dwarf Planet Ceres to Be Revealed in 'Stunning Detail' by NASA ProbeA NASA probe will arrive at Ceres Friday morning to begin unraveling the many mysteries of the dwarf planet — including the puzzling bright spots that blaze on its cratered surface. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is scheduled to slip into orbit around Ceres — the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT) on Friday, March 6, wrapping up a deep-space chase that lasted two-and-a-half years. If all goes according to plan, Dawn will become the first spacecraft ever to orbit a dwarf planet, as well as the first to circle two celestial objects beyond the Earth-moon system. "It's clear that discoveries lie ahead, and Ceres will be revealed in stunning detail, just like Vesta," Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator Carol Raymond, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said during a news conference today (March 2).


2 March 2015

Against the Science, Meat Pushes Back into U.S. Diet (Op-Ed)

Dr. Michael Greger is the director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issue the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans," which are intended to encourage individuals to eat a healthful diet. The advisory council's report, just published for the 2015 guidelines, is cause for celebration on many fronts. The nutrition experts who created it seemed to be less susceptible to industry influence, and their report could lead to the most evidence-based dietary guidelines the nation has ever adopted.

2 March 2015

U.S. science probe nears unexplored dwarf planet Ceres

NASA's Dawn spacecraft heads toward the dwarf planet CeresBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A NASA science satellite on Friday will wrap up a 7-1/2-year journey to Ceres, an unexplored dwarf planet in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, scientists said on Monday. Ceres, namesake of the Roman goddess of agriculture, is already providing intrigue.


2 March 2015

Syria's civil war linked partly to drought, global warming

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2014 file photo, Lebanese police inspectors, investigates the site of a deadly car bomb that exploded near a gas station, in the predominately Shiite town of Hermel, about 10 miles from the Syrian border in northeast Lebanon. Global warming worsened record droughts in war-torn Syria and peaceful California, contributing to the unrest that has torn the Middle Eastern country apart, two new studies say. In what scientists say is one of the most detailed and strongest connections between violence and human caused climate change, researchers from Columbia University and the University of California Santa Barbara trace Syria’s drought to the collapse of farming to the migration of 1.5 million farmers to the cities to poverty to civil unrest. Syria’s drought started in 2007 and went until at least 2010 _ maybe longer with weather records harder to get in wartime. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla. File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The conflict that has torn Syria apart can be traced, in part, to a record drought worsened by global warming, a new study says.


2 March 2015

Study finds gorilla origins in half of human AIDS virus lineages

File photo of two gorillas in their enclosure at the zoo in Los AngelesBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Revealing new details about the origins of AIDS, scientists said on Monday half the lineages of the main type of human immunodeficiency virus, HIV-1, originated in gorillas in Cameroon before infecting people, probably via bushmeat hunting. HIV-1, which causes AIDS, is composed of four groups, each coming from a separate cross-species transmission of a simian version of the virus from apes to humans. ...


2 March 2015

Lockheed invests in Rocket Lab's U.S. unit to keep pace with innovation

Lockheed Martin Corp said on Monday it had made a strategic investment in the U.S. unit of New Zealand's Rocket Lab, which is building a carbon-composite rocket, the Electron, to launch small satellites into orbit for less than $5 million. Lockheed spokesman Matt Kramer didn't say how big the investment was, but said the company saw potential applications for Rocket Lab's technologies light lift, hypersonic flight technologies and low-cost flight testing. Rocket Lab disclosed Lockheed's investment Monday when it announced that it had completed a Series B financing round led by Bessemer Venture Partners.

2 March 2015

Using Faulty Forensic Science, Courts Fail the Innocent (Op-Ed)

Karen Kafadar is Commonwealth Professor and chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of Virginia and a member of the Forensic Science Standards Board. Anne-Marie Mazza is the director of the Committee on Science, Technology and Law of the National Academy of Sciences. Historically, forensic science has had a huge impact on identifying and confirming suspects in the courtroom, and on the judicial system more generally. Forensic scientists have been an integral part of the judicial process for more than a century.

1 March 2015

Astronauts breeze through spacewalk to rig station for U.S. space taxis

NASA astronaut Terry Virts Flight Engineer of Expedition 42 is seen working to complete a cable routing task while near the forward facing port of the Harmony module on the International Space StationBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - Two U.S. astronauts whipped through a third spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Sunday to rig parking spots for new U.S. space taxis. Station commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore and flight engineer Terry Virts expected to spend about seven hours installing antennas, cables and navigation aides on the station's exterior truss. Instead, the astronauts, who were making their third spacewalk in eight days, were back inside the space station in 5.5 hours. The purpose of the outings was to prepare berthing slips for spaceships being developed by Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.


27 February 2015

White & Gold or Blue & Black? Science of the Mystery Dress

David Williams, a vision scientist at the University of Rochester in New York, has a theory. Light is made up of different wavelengths, which the brain perceives as color.

27 February 2015

Cool Pacific Ocean Slowed Global Warming

Cool Pacific Ocean Slowed Global WarmingThe Pacific Ocean has been a planetary air conditioner for the past two decades, but the relief may soon end, a new study finds. The Pacific and Atlantic oceans undergo decades-long natural oscillations that alter their sea surface temperatures. Over the past 130 years, the tempo of global warming has revved up or slowed down in tune with changing ocean temperatures, researchers reported today (Feb. 26) in the journal Science. The Pacific Ocean wielded its mighty influence starting in 1998, when it interrupted the rapid climb of global temperatures, the study reported.


26 February 2015

'Big Brain' Gene Found in Humans, Not Chimps

'Big Brain' Gene Found in Humans, Not ChimpsA single gene may have paved the way for the rise of human intelligence by dramatically increasing the number of brain cells found in a key brain region. This gene seems to be uniquely human: It is found in modern-day humans, Neanderthals and another branch of extinct humans called Denisovans, but not in chimpanzees. By allowing the brain region called the neocortex to contain many more neurons, the tiny snippet of DNA may have laid the foundation for the human brain's massive expansion. "It is so cool that one tiny gene alone may suffice to affect the phenotype of the stem cells, which contributed the most to the expansion of the neocortex," said study lead author Marta Florio, a doctoral candidate in molecular and cellular biology and genetics at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany.


26 February 2015

Cooler Pacific has slowed global warming, briefly: study

A man and a girl paddle in the Pacific Ocean at sunset in Santa MonicaBy Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - A natural cooling of the Pacific Ocean has contributed to slow global warming in the past decade but the pause is unlikely to last much longer, U.S. scientists said on Thursday. The slowdown in the rate of rising temperatures, from faster gains in the 1980s and 1990s, has puzzled scientists because heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from factories, power plants and cars have hit record highs. Almost 200 nations are due to agree a U.N. deal to slow climate change in Paris in December. Examining temperatures of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans back to 1850, which have natural swings in winds and currents that can last decades, the scientists said a cooler phase in the Pacific in recent years helped explain the warming hiatus.


26 February 2015

Playing physics: Student builds Lego Large Hadron Collider

A particle physics student has used his downtime to build a Lego model of the world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and is now lobbying the toy company to take it to market. Nathan Readioff's design uses existing Lego pieces to replicate all four elements of the LHC -- known as ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb -- and uses cutaway walls to reveal all of the major subsystems. He also wrote step-by-step guides to making the miniatures and has now submitted his models to the Lego Ideas website, where ideas from members of the public that get more than 10,000 votes are considered by Lego for future production.

25 February 2015

Scientists witness carbon dioxide trapping heat in air

In this handout photo,taken in 2011, provided by Jonathan Gero, scientists witness and measured carbon dioxide trapping heat in the sky above, confirming human-caused global warming, using the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer seen here, located in Barrow, Alaska. Scientists witnessed carbon dioxide trapping heat in the atmosphere above the United States, chronicling human-made climate change in action live in the wild. A new study in the journal Nature demonstrates in real-time field measurements what scientists already knew from basic physics, lab tests, numerous simulations, temperature records and dozens of other climatic indicators. It confirms the science of climate change and the amount of heat-trapping previously blamed on carbon dioxide. (AP Photo/Jonathan Gero, University of Wisconsin)WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists have witnessed carbon dioxide trapping heat in the atmosphere above the United States, chronicling human-made climate change in action, live in the wild.


25 February 2015

Scientists discover black hole so big it contradicts growth theory

This artist's concept illustrates a supermassive black holeBy Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Scientists say they have discovered a black hole so big that it challenges the theory about how they grow. Scientists said this black hole was formed about 900 million years after the Big Bang. "Based on previous research, this is the largest black hole found for that period of time," Dr Fuyan Bian, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University (ANU), told Reuters on Wednesday. "Current theory is for a limit to how fast a black hole can grow, but this black hole is too large for that theory." The creation of supermassive black holes remains an open topic of research.


25 February 2015

Case of the Missing 'Failed Star' Has Scientists Stumped (Video)

Case of the Missing 'Failed Star' Has Scientists Stumped (Video)A new alien planet-hunting tool has found no trace of a brown dwarf more than 100 light-years from Earth, despite evidence that the misfit failed star is eclipsing its partner, a team of puzzled astronomers says. European Southern Observatory's (ESO) new SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research) on the Very Large Telescope didn't find a sign of a brown dwarf — sometimes called a "failed star" — near the double star V471 Tauri, despite the fact that scientists were pretty sure they would find one. The scientists used the ESO observations to create a video zoom-in on the strange star system.