1 August 2014

Transparent Bodies: Mice Go See-Through For Science

Transparent Bodies: Mice Go See-Through For Science"Although the idea of tissue clearing has been around for a century, to our knowledge, this is the first study to perform whole-body clearing, as opposed to first extracting and then clearing organs outside the adult body," study researcher Viviana Gradinaru, a neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, said in a statement. Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+.


1 August 2014

Like Facebook, OKCupid Experimented with Users

Like Facebook, OKCupid Experimented with UsersFacebook is still doing damage control in the wake of public outrage after the social media website admitted to toying with some of its users' emotions as part of a science experiment. On Monday (July 28), in an unapologetic blog post titled "We Experiment On Human Beings!" co-founder and president of OKCupid Christian Rudder seemed to back up Facebook's stance on turning its users into guinea pigs, writing, "If you use the Internet, you're the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. In the first experiment, OKCupid hid all the photos from its website for seven hours, Rudder explained. In another experiment to find out how much pictures mattered, OKCupid analysts examined how crucial the actual text of someone's profile was compared with their physical attractiveness.


1 August 2014

Toot Sweet! Brit Fires 16-Foot Fart Machine at France

Toot Sweet! Brit Fires 16-Foot Fart Machine at FranceAn English plumber welded an enormous fart machine, drove it to the White Cliffs of Dover and blasted it at France. "Did you hear anything or did you not?" he asked after calling a woman across the English Channel in Calais, France, on July 24, according to a YouTube video of the fart machine. Colin Furze has a reputation for constructing eccentric creations, including the world's fastest baby stroller last year after the birth of his son.


1 August 2014

NASA Urged to Accelerate 3D Printing on Space Station

NASA Urged to Accelerate 3D Printing on Space StationNASA must move quickly to research 3D printing aboard the International Space Station, which likely has just six to 10 years of operational life left, a new report urges. While praising NASA's efforts and focus on in-space manufacturing — a 3D printeris scheduled to launch to the station next month, for example — the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) report stressed that the agency should organize its various centers to identify priority projects for use on the station. "The ISS isn't going to be around forever, and it's the one place where we can actually do [in-space] experimentation," Robert Latiff, a retired U.S. Air Force major general with a Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering and materials science, told Space.com. Latiff chaired the committee that wrote the NRC report, which was released July 18.


1 August 2014

Record-Breaking Cosmic 'Magnifying Glass' Found by Hubble Telescope

Hubble Ultra Deep FieldIn a surprising discovery, astronomers have found a faraway galaxy that doubles as a cosmic "magnifying glass." At 9.6 billion light-years away, it could be the most distant such object known to science, NASA announced today (July 31). Spotted in observations from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy is big enough to magnify an even more distant galaxy 10.7 billion light-years away, thanks to a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. When peeking into the early universe, astronomers don't expect to find a lensing galaxy neatly stacked in front of another, smaller galaxy in the background, lead researcher Kim-Vy Tran of Texas A&M University in College Station said in a NASA statement. Tran used the analogy of looking through an actual magnifying glass to explain: "Imagine holding a magnifying glass close to you and then moving it much farther away.


31 July 2014

Fly Fido to the moon in space send off for deceased pets

People stand and look at the moon one day ahead of the Supermoon phenomenon from a bridge over 42nd St. in the Manhattan borough of New YorkBy Amanda Orr HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas company is offering a unique send off for beloved pets by placing a portion of their cremated remains in a capsule and blasting them off into space. Celestis Inc, which has provided memorial space flights for human remains since 1997, will launch its first commercial pet memorial spaceflight in October 2014 with the remains of a blue merle Australian shepherd, named Apollo, the company said. The space send-off options go up to $12,500, which allows the pet’s remains to be launched into deep space or to visit the moon. "Our pet service flights are an idea that’s been a long time coming," Celestis Chief Executive Charles Chafer said.


31 July 2014

Vintage NASA Spacecraft to Tackle Interplanetary Science

Vintage NASA Spacecraft to Tackle Interplanetary ScienceA private team is priming a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft to perform new science as it travels through interplanetary space after attempts to move the probe into a position closer to Earth failed. "We're disappointed we couldn't put it in the L-1 orbit, but we had a lot of scientists saying we're more interested in interplanetary space," Keith Cowing, co-leader of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, told Space.com.


31 July 2014

Hungarian scientists aim for prototype of cancer surgery device

Inventor of the Intelligent Knife Zoltan Takats speaks to the media at St Mary's Hospital in LondonBy Krisztina Than BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian scientists are aiming for the first prototype of a new device in two years that will help surgeons distinguish between healthy tissue and tumours in a split-second as they operate and remove cancerous tissue precisely. Hungarian chemist Zoltan Takats started to work on the technology in 2002 in the United States and from 2004 onwards at the Budapest Semmelweis Medical University in cooperation with the Imperial College London, where he works now. Last week, U.S.-based Waters Corporation acquired the technology - called Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) - from Hungarian start-up firm MediMass Ltd. Waters said in a July 22 statement on its website that the technology could be used to create the "Intelligent Knife" or "iKnife," a device "in the conceptual stages of development that could potentially be used for real-time diagnostics in surgery".


30 July 2014

Lead in teeth holds secrets of person's origins, research shows

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - The lead in human teeth holds clues about where a person grew up and can help criminal investigators and archaeologists working with old or decomposed corpses, according to a University of Florida researcher. Because lead ore deposits around the world differ, and as young people's teeth absorb traces of the metal in the environment, the region where a person grew up can be distinguished through lead analysis of a tooth, said geologist George Kamenov. "If you were born in Europe and then came to the U.S., yes, I will be able to see that," Kamenov said. In addition to aiding authorities in identifying bodies, the analysis can help archaeologists locate human remains on an historical timeline, he said.

30 July 2014

Octopus mom protects her eggs for an astonishing 4-1/2 years

Handout of a deep-sea octopus is shown on the ledge near the bottom of Monterey CanyonBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If someone were to create an award for "mother of the year" in the animal kingdom, a remarkably dedicated eight-limbed mom from the dark and frigid depths of the Pacific Ocean might be a strong contender. Scientists on Wednesday described how the female of an octopus species that dwells almost a mile below the sea surface spends about 4-1/2 years brooding her eggs, protecting them vigilantly until they hatch while forgoing any food for herself. It is the longest known egg-brooding period for any animal, they wrote in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. ...


30 July 2014

Airbus, Safran name Alain Charmeau to run space joint venture

A view of the Safran Composites, their new research center dedicated to next-generation aerospace materials in Itteville near ParisAirbus Group and Safran on Wednesday named Alain Charmeau as the head of a new venture designed to reorganize Europe's space launch activities. The two companies said in June they had agreed to create a 50-50 joint venture in space launchers, combining Airbus's launch systems with Safran's propulsion systems. The venture is expected eventually to incorporate the marketing teams for Europe's Ariane space rocket, currently in the European consortium Arianespace, and some design teams from French and German space agencies. It is the first concrete step toward consolidation after Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders called for a shake-up to preserve Europe's commercial access to space in the face of new competition.


30 July 2014

Scientists Closing in on Theory of Consciousness

The 17th century French philosopher René Descartes proposed the notion of "cogito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"), the idea that the mere act of thinking about one's existence proves there is someone there to do the thinking. "The only thing you know is, 'I am conscious.' Any theory has to start with that," said Christof Koch, a neuroscientist and the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Neuroscience in Seattle. In the last few decades, neuroscientists have begun to attack the problem of understanding consciousness from an evidence-based perspective. In fact, Koch and Francis Crick, the molecular biologist who famously helped discover the double-helix structure of DNA, had previously hypothesized that this region might integrate information across different parts of the brain, like the conductor of a symphony.

29 July 2014

No Fukushima radiation in tests off U.S. West Coast: scientists

By Courtney Sherwood PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Tests of water off the U.S. West Coast have found no signs of radiation from Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, although low levels of radiation are ultimately expected to reach the U.S. shore, scientists said on Tuesday. Results obtained this week in tests of water gathered by an Oregon conservation group and tested by East Coast scientists came in as expected with no Fukushima-linked radiation, and five more tests are planned at six-month intervals to see if radiation levels will climb. "We've seen radiation halfway across the Pacific, north of Hawaii, but in U.S. waters there has been none, yet," Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Ken Buesseler said. Tests of some fish species, which can race across the ocean more quickly than slow-moving currents, have shown higher levels of radiation, although radiation levels in sea life off the U.S. shore are still safe, Buesseler said.

29 July 2014

NASA's Mars rover sets off-Earth, off-road distance record

Handout photo of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover OpportunityBy Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NASA's decade-old Mars rover Opportunity has set a new off-Earth, off-road distance record, logging just over 25 miles (40 km) on the surface of the Red Planet to surpass the benchmark set in 1973 by a Russian probe on the moon. Opportunity, which arrived on Mars in January 2004, a few weeks after its now-defunct rover twin Spirit, was built to drive only about a single kilometer but has continued to operate far beyond its design capabilities. On Sunday, the robot rover advanced another 157 feet (48 meters) as it continued along the rim of a Martian crater, putting Opportunity's total odometer at 25.01 miles (40.25 km), according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California. By comparison, the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover drove about 24.2 miles (39 km) in less than five months after landing on Earth's moon on Jan. 15, 1973, JPL said.


29 July 2014

Quantum Wonderland: Neutron 'Cheshire Cats' Created

Quantum Wonderland: Neutron 'Cheshire Cats' CreatedThe Cheshire Cat of the classic children's book "Alice in Wonderland" had a smile that could disconnect from its body. For instance, a particle can apparently exist in two or more places at once or spin two opposite directions at the same time, a property known as superposition. Theoretical physicists last year predicted that the peculiar nature of quantum physics might allow the properties of particles to exist in two or more places simultaneously. This mimics the story of the Cheshire Cat, in which Alice notes, "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin … but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"


28 July 2014

Is Your Life Story Written in Your Poop?

In a new experiment, researchers studied gut and saliva bacteria in two people over a year, to investigate how microbial communities in people's bodies, called their microbiota, changed over time. The study participants provided stool and saliva samples nearly every day during the study period, and chronicled their daily health and behavior, including their diet, exercise, bowel movements and mood, using a diary app. The ratio then returned to normal when the study participant returned home, according to the study, led by Lawrence David, an assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In the other study participant, an intestinal infection with Salmonella, resulted in the permanent decline of most gut bacterial types, which were replaced by genetically-similar species, according to the study published today (July 24) in the journal Genome Biology.

24 July 2014

Scientists to excavate Wyoming cave with trove of Ice Age fossils

Scientists will begin excavation early next week of an ancient Wyoming sinkhole containing a rare bounty of fossil remains of prehistoric animals, such as mammoths and dire wolves, preserved in unusually good condition, researchers said on Thursday.    The two-week dig, set to begin next Monday under the direction of Des Moines University paleontologist Julie Meachen, marks the first exploration of Natural Trap Cave in north-central Wyoming since its initial discovery in the 1970s.

24 July 2014

People Use Just 8.2% of Their DNA, Study Finds

More than a decade has passed since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the international collaboration to map all of the "letters" in our DNA. The huge effort led to revolutionary genomic discoveries, but more than 10 years later, it's still unclear what percentage of the human genome is actually doing something important. The results are higher than previous estimates of 3 to 5 percent, and significantly lower than the 80 percent reported in 2012 by the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project (ENCODE), a public research project led by the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute to study the role of the 3 billion total letters in human DNA. The differences may stem from the nuanced definition of "functional DNA," said the study's co-lead researcher Chris Ponting, a professor of genomics at the University of Oxford in England.

23 July 2014

Happy Birthday, Landsat: Space Science Project Turns 42

Happy Birthday, Landsat: Space Science Project Turns 42The Landsat 1 satellite, a joint project of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, flew into orbit on July 23, 1972, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The camera was designed to be the primary observation instrument, according to NASA, but scientists soon discovered that the scanner was sending back far better data. In 1976, scientists combing through Landsat images found a tiny scrap of land never seen before. To verify the island's existence, Canadian Hydrographic Service hydrologist Frank Hall took a helicopter to the island.


23 July 2014

U.S. scientists to map interior of Mount St. Helens volcano

Aerial view of Mt St Helens as it spews steam and ash.By Victoria Cavaliere SEATTLE (Reuters) - A series of explosions set off by a team of scientists were expected to rattle Washington state's Mount St. Helens on Wednesday as researchers map the interior of the volcano, whose 1980 eruption was the deadliest in U.S. history. Mount St. Helens, about 95 miles (150 km) south of Seattle and 50 miles (80 km) north of Portland, erupted in an explosion of hot ash in May 1980, spewing debris over a wide area, killing 57 people and causing more than a billion dollars in damage. Scientists from across the United States are trying to get a better handle on the magma stores and internal workings of the 8,300-foot (2,530-meter) volcano to improve warning systems prior to eruption. "Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes in the Cascade Range threaten urban centers from Vancouver to Portland," lead scientist Alan Levander of Rice University in Houston said in a statement.