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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. ...


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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. ...


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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. ...


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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. ...

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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. ...

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.

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'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.


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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.

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Swiss scientists determine comet's 'perfume'

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

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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.

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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. ...

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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. ...


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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.


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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. ...

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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.


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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. ...

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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. ...


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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.


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Are we there yet? Scientists prepare for change of epoch

Undated NASA handout picture of North Korea (the dark area) and South Korea as seen from the International Space StationBy Emma Anderson BERLIN (Reuters) - Scientists from around the world met this week to decide whether to call time on the Holocene epoch after 11,700 years and begin a new geological age called the Anthropocene - to reflect humankind's deep impact on the planet. For decades, researchers have asked whether humanity's impact on the Earth's surface and atmosphere mean we have entered the Anthropocene - or new human era. ...


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25 Years After Loma Prieta, Earthquake Science Is Transformed

25 Years After Loma Prieta, Earthquake Science Is TransformedThe Oct. 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake was America's first widely-shared natural disaster. The TV crews at San Francisco's Candlestick Park soon turned their cameras on the ravaged city, and frightening images poured in of people trapped in crumpled freeways, burning buildings and toppled storefronts. The magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake, centered below the Santa Cruz Mountains, shook much of central California. The resulting damage ultimately revitalized San Francisco, with a new waterfront replacing the demolished Embarcadero Freeway and a $30 billion investment from public and private organizations for redevelopment and seismic upgrades.


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Saturn moon may have 'life-friendly' underground ocean - scientists

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - Saturn’s battered moon Mimas may have a thin global ocean buried miles beneath its icy surface, raising the prospect of another "life-friendly" habitat in the solar system, scientists said on Thursday. An underground ocean is one of two explanations for why the 400-mile (250-km) diameter moon wobbles as it orbits around Saturn, scientists using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft said. The other possibility is that Mimas has an oblong or rugby ball-shaped core. Follow-up measurements should provide more answers, the scientists said. ...

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Female orgasm: battleground of science?

By Kathryn Doyle NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Hapless lovers are not the only ones who get lost down there: even sexologists can’t agree on what’s what, and where, among women's female parts. At least, that’s according to a father-daughter team of researchers in Italy, Drs. Vincenzo and Giulia Puppo. In a new review October 6 in Clinical Anatomy, Vincenzo, of the Italian Center of Sexology in Bologna, and Giulia, a biologist at the University of Florence, point out some problems with some of newer anatomical and physiological terms researchers have been using since the mid-1990s. ...

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Study: Natural gas surge won't slow global warming

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2011 file photo, a natural gas well operated by Northeast Natural Energy is seen in Morgantown, W.Va. Cheap and plentiful natural gas isn’t quite a bridge to a brighter energy future as claimed and won’t slow global warming, a new study projects. Abundant natural gas in the United States has been displacing coal, which produces more of the chief global warming gas carbon dioxide. But the new international study says an expansion of natural gas use by 2050 would also keep other energy-producing technologies like wind, solar and nuclear, from being used more. And those technologies are even better than natural gas for avoiding global warming. (AP Photo/David Smith)WASHINGTON (AP) — Cheap and plentiful natural gas isn't quite a bridge to a brighter energy future as claimed and won't slow global warming, a new study projects.


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New Exotic Particle Could Help Explain What Holds Matter Together

New Exotic Particle Could Help Explain What Holds Matter TogetherA new exotic particle has been hiding out amidst the gobs of data collected by the world's largest atom smasher, physicists have discovered. The new particle, called Ds3*, is a meson — a type of unstable particle  made of one quark and one antiquark. They're held together by the strong interaction, or strong force, that is one of the four fundamental forces in nature. To find the new particle, Tim Gershon, a professor of physics at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, and his team used the Dalitz plot analysis.


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New Tech Helps Pilots Navigate Dangerous Volcanic Ash Plumes

New Tech Helps Pilots Navigate Dangerous Volcanic Ash PlumesNew technology to detect volcanic ash that threatens airplanes could help prevent a repeat of the air traffic chaos that followed a 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland. With satellites, scientists can detect tiny ash particles, but predicting where aircraft can safely fly is still a major hurdle. "The key issue for us is to develop an integrated monitoring and response system for future volcanic crises that can be used to respond quickly in the event of the formation of an ash cloud from Iceland," Hans Schlager, head of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the German Aerospace Center, said in a statement. Ash particles are jagged and sharp.


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Rattlesnake repertoire boosts snake-like robot's skills

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - How do you make a better snake robot? You study snakes, of course. Researchers on Thursday said they conducted experiments to learn precisely how sidewinder rattlesnakes are able to climb sandy hills, then applied the reptiles' repertoire to an existing snake robot so it could do the same thing. The study, published in the journal Science, is an example of how scientists are applying knowledge of biology to improve technology. ...

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Scientists find lung cancer can lie hidden for 20 years

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Lung cancer can lie dormant for more than 20 years before turning deadly, helping explain why a disease that kills more than 1.5 million a year worldwide is so persistent and difficult to treat, scientists said on Thursday. Two papers detailing the evolution of lung cancer reveal how after an initial disease-causing genetic fault -- often due to smoking -- tumour cells quietly develop numerous new mutations, making different parts of the same tumour genetically unique. ...

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Bright Idea: How Blue LEDs Changed the World

Bright Idea: How Blue LEDs Changed the WorldThis year's Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three Japanese scientists for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), a technology that has touched society in innumerable ways and enabled technologies that Americans take for granted every day. "Blue LEDs made possible the white-light LEDs you can buy in a hardware store and put in your house," said H. Frederick Dylla, executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland. Without blue LEDs, the world wouldn't have backlit smartphones, TV and computer LCD screens, Blu-ray players, many forms of lighting and countless other technological marvels. Blue LEDs, in combination with red and green LEDs (which had been discovered previously), make it possible to produce white light.


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How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Cosmic-Ray Detector

How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Cosmic-Ray DetectorIt's called the Distributed Electronic Cosmic-Ray Observatory (DECO), and unlike the huge, multimillion-dollar particle detectors housed in labs, DECO allows smartphone owners to turn their phone into a pocket-size cosmic-ray particle detector by downloading two apps and sticking a piece of duct tape over the camera lens to block out light particles. "The apps basically transform the phone into a high-energy particle detector," Justin Vandenbroucke, a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and creator of the apps, said in a statement. Cosmic rays are still a mystery to astrophysicists. Waves of cosmic rays are constantly breaking against the Earth's atmosphere.


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Scientists see severe coral bleaching near Oahu

Anne Rosinski, of the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources, center, shows reporters survey results of coral bleaching at a news conference at Heeia Small Boat Harbor in Kaneohe, Hawaii on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, while Frazer McGilvray, left, administrator of the division, and Kim Hum, right, of The Nature Conservancy, watch. Scientists say they’re seeing evidence of coral bleaching caused by higher-than-normal temperatures. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)KANEOHE, Hawaii (AP) — While people in Hawaii have been sweating out a lack of trade winds, corals underwater are also suffering.


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Light bulb moment: Low-energy LED wins Nobel prize

Meijo University professor Akasaki is presented with a bouquet of flowers during a news conference at Meijo University in NagoyaBy Niklas Pollard and Ben Hirschler STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Reuters) - An American and two Japanese scientists won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics on Tuesday for inventing a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source, leading to the creation of modern LED light bulbs. Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and Japanese-born U.S. citizen Shuji Nakamura won the prize for developing the blue light-emitting diode (LED) -- the missing piece that now allows manufacturers to produce white-light lamps. ...






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