25 October 2014

Huge Solar Flare Erupts from Biggest Sunspot in 24 Years (Photos)

Huge Solar Flare Erupts from Biggest Sunspot in 24 Years (Photos)The solar flare occurred Friday afternoon, reaching its peak at 5:41 p.m. EDT (2141 GMT), and triggered a strong radio blackout at the time, according to the U.S. NASA's sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory captured stunning video of the huge solar flare. The flare erupted from a giant active sunspot known as AR 12192 and was classified as an X3.1-class solar storm — one of the most powerful types of solar storms on the sun — but it is not the first time the sunspot has made its presence known. "This is the fourth substantial flare from this active region since Oct. 19," NASA spokesperson Karen Fox wrote in a status update. 


25 October 2014

Google executive sets new stratosphere skydive world record

Handout of still image taken from video shows Google's vice president Alan Eustace returning to earth after a record-breaking skydive over New Mexico(Reuters) - A skydiving Google executive is safely back on Earth after jumping out of a giant balloon floating in the stratosphere more than 25 miles (40 km) above New Mexico, a feat that broke the sound barrier and shattered a world altitude record. Alan Eustace, a senior vice president at the Mountain View, California-based company, was lifted up 135,890 feet (41,419 meters) by an enormous balloon shortly before dawn on Friday, the Paragon Space Development Corp said. ...


25 October 2014

Splashdown! SpaceX's Dragon Cargo Spaceship Returns to Earth

Splashdown! SpaceX's Dragon Cargo Spaceship Returns to EarthA private SpaceX Dragon capsule dropped into the Pacific Ocean today (Oct. 25), returning almost 2 tons of cargo and science experiments to Earth from the International Space Station. The unmanned Dragon was released from the space station at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT). Its parachute-guided splashdown west of Baja California, which was confirmed around 3:38 p.m. EDT (1938 GMT), marked an end to SpaceX's fourth of 12 unmanned delivery missions to the space station for NASA under a $1.6 billion contract. Dragon had been attached to the orbiting lab for a little more than month.


25 October 2014

SpaceX Dragon capsule splashes down in Pacific Ocean

With the Earth in the background the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2.(Reuters) - A Space Exploration Technologies Dragon cargo ship ended a monthlong stay at the International Space Station on Saturday and splashed down on schedule in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico. Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore, astronauts with U.S. space agency NASA, used the station’s robotic crane to release the capsule, built and operated by California-based SpaceX, as the company is known, at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT) as the two vehicles soared 260 miles (418 km) over the northwest coast of Australia. “Dragon is free,” mission commentator Rob Navias said during a live broadcast on NASA TV. ...


25 October 2014

No Proof That 'Brain Training' Games Work, Some Experts Say

Sixty-nine scientists from around the world issued a statement this week, saying that there's no compelling scientific evidence supporting the claims that playing brain games may actually help people enhance their mental powers or overcome the effects of aging on the brain. The scientists didn't indicate which brain-training products are making misleading claims and which aren't. California-based Happy Neuron has nearly 11 million users and offers brain training programs to stimulate the main five cognitive functions, including memory, attention, language, and logical thinking. Rosetta Stone's Fit Brains offers games, designed by neuroscientists to help train crucial brain skills, the company says.

25 October 2014

This Family Doesn't Sweat: Here's Why

People with a rare disorder called anhidrosis cannot produce sweat, and now a new study finds that the condition may be caused by a mutation in a single gene. Researchers studied a Pakistani family with several children who could not sweat. The researchers' analysis of the family members' genomes revealed that a genetic mutation may have caused the condition in this family. The mutation was in a gene, called ITPR2, that controls a basic cellular process in sweat glands, according to the researchers, led by Katsuhiko Mikoshiba, a molecular cell biologist at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan, and Niklas Dahl, a genetics researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden.

24 October 2014

Man Recovers From Ebola in Germany After Routine Intensive Care

Man Recovers From Ebola in Germany After Routine Intensive CareOne man who contracted Ebola and even had further complications of the infection has now recovered after receiving routine intensive care at a hospital in Germany. The man's case suggests that even if patients do not have access to experimental Ebola drugs, health care workers can still help them recover from the disease, the doctors who treated him wrote in their report of the case. When it comes to treating Ebola patients, "It's supportive care, supportive care, supportive care," Schaffner told Live Science.


23 October 2014

Easter Island's ancient inhabitants weren't so lonely after all

20070422-AMX-TRAVEL_WLT-EASTERISLAND_1_MBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They lived on a remote dot of land in the middle of the Pacific, 2,300 miles (3,700 km) west of South America and 1,100 miles (1,770 km) from the closest island, erecting huge stone figures that still stare enigmatically from the hillsides. But the ancient Polynesian people who populated Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, were not as isolated as long believed. ...


23 October 2014

Old, cold and bold: Ice Age people dwelled high in Peru's Andes

Cunchaicha rock shelter in Peruvian AndesBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a bleak, treeless landscape high in the southern Peruvian Andes, bands of intrepid Ice Age people hunkered down in rudimentary dwellings and withstood frigid weather, thin air and other hardships. Scientists on Thursday described the world's highest known Ice Age settlements, two archaeological sites about 2.8 miles (4.5 km) above sea level and about 12,000 years old packed with artifacts including a rock shelter, stone tools, animal bones, food remnants and primitive artwork. ...


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

Fixing 'Ebolanomics' in pursuit of vaccines and drugs

Scientists at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg prepare an experimental Ebola vaccine for shipment to the World Health OrganizationBy Kate Kelland and Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - As researchers from Africa to China to America race to develop vaccines and treatments to fight Ebola, health experts are grappling with the economics of a disease that until this year had been off the drug industry's radar. Whether or not effective drugs come in time to turn around the world's worst epidemic of the virus ravaging three West African countries, the world will want stockpiles to protect against inevitable future outbreaks, experts say. ...


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. ...


20 October 2014

Incredible Science and Historical Artifacts Up for Auction

Record Bid! Early Apple Computer Sells for Nearly $1 MillionA 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. ...

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.