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Disgraced Japan researcher fails to replicate 'game changing' stem cell results

Haruko Obokata, a researcher at semi-governmental research institute RIKEN, lowers her eyes during a news conference in OsakaBy Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - A disgraced Japanese researcher has failed to replicate results hailed as a potential breakthrough in stem-cell treatment and efforts to do so will be abandoned, officials at her research institute said on Friday. The scandal involving the research, which detailed simple ways to reprogram mature cells back to an embryonic-like state, eventually led to the retraction of papers published in the influential journal Nature and tarnished the reputation of Japanese scientific research. ...


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Europe recommends approval for first stem-cell therapy

LONDON (Reuters) - European regulators have recommended approval of the first medicine containing stem cells to treat a rare condition caused by burns to the eye. The European Medicines Agency said on Friday that Holoclar, from privately held Italian company Chiesi, had been given a green light for moderate to severe limbal stem cell deficiency due to physical or chemical burns. Left untreated, the condition can result in blindness. Holoclar is a living tissue product made from a biopsy taken from a small undamaged area of the patient’s cornea and grown in the laboratory using cell culture. ...

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Songbirds fly coop long before tornadoes arrive in Tennessee

Henry Streby holds a male golden-winged warbler and the geolocator that the bird carried in the Cumberland Mountains of TennesseeBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - You might want to be careful about who you call a birdbrain. Some of our feathered friends exhibit powers of perception that put humans to shame. Scientists said on Thursday that little songbirds known as golden-winged warblers fled their nesting grounds in Tennessee up to two days before the arrival of a fierce storm system that unleashed 84 tornadoes in southern U.S. states in April. The researchers said the birds were apparently alerted to the danger by sounds at frequencies below the range of human hearing. ...


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SpaceX delays planned cargo run to space station to early January

Falcon 9 rocket is launched by Space Exploration Technologies on its fourth cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in FloridaCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies is delaying the planned launch on Friday of an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA, to early January, officials said on Thursday. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida had been planned for 1:22 p.m. EST, but an undisclosed technical issue with the rocket prompted SpaceX, as the company is known, to postpone the flight until Jan 6. The problem surfaced during routine prelaunch test firing of the rocket’s engines, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said. ...


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India tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market

By Aditya Kalra NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's space agency successfully tested on Thursday its most powerful satellite launch vehicle that can put heavier payloads into space, and, it hopes, win India a bigger slice of the $300 billion global space industry. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) also checked the working of an unmanned crew module on the vehicle, which could give the agency the option of manned missions. ...

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NASA Satellite's 1st CO2 Maps of Earth Revealed

NASA Satellite's 1st CO2 Maps of Earth RevealedThis past summer, NASA launched its first satellite devoted to measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that is driving global warming. Today (Dec. 18), scientists with the space agency unveiled the first carbon maps obtained by the spacecraft, named the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2. OCO-2 only started collecting its first scientifically useful information at the end of September, but the initial results "are quite amazing," said Annmarie Eldering, OCO-2 deputy project scientist, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. In a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Eldering and her colleagues showed a map of the globe that uses about 600,000 data points taken by OCO-2 from Oct. 1 through Nov. 17.


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What was the Worst #ScienceFail of 2014? (Op-Ed)

What was the Worst #ScienceFail of 2014? (Op-Ed)Aaron Huertas is a science communications officer at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), where he helps scientists represent their work to the public and policymakers. Scientific research is often difficult, tedious and can take years to come to fruition. Unfortunately, too many politicians and institutions reject or distort scientific conclusions they don't like. We all lose when political spin runs roughshod over evidence scientists have uncovered regarding risks to our health and well-being.


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Keeping Up with the Greens: Neighbors Can Spur Conservation (Op-Ed)

Keeping Up with the Greens: Neighbors Can Spur Conservation (Op-Ed)Marlene Cimons writes for Climate Nexus, a nonprofit that aims to tell the climate story in innovative ways that raise awareness of, dispel misinformation about and showcase solutions to climate change and energy issues in the United States. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. Mindful of the growing dangers of climate change, I always strive to be an environmentally conscientious consumer. So, understandably, I was more than a little upset to learn that I was a flop at energy savings compared to my neighbors. This revelation came through a series of home energy reports from the utility company that services my weekend house 170 miles away in western Maryland.


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Private Moon-Drilling Mission Raises Over $1 Million via Crowdfunding

Private Moon-Drilling Mission Raises Over $1 Million via CrowdfundingAn ambitious private space exploration project that aims to land a moon-drilling probe on the lunar surface by 2024 now has the money it needs, thanks to a crowdfunding effort that raised more than $1 million for the mission. The novel Lunar Mission One project surpassed its fundraising goal of nearly 600,000 English pounds (about $945,000) this week on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Lunar Missions Ltd., the United Kingdom-based company funding the project, hopes the mission will advance understanding of how the moon formed and provide useful insights for future moon missions. The Lunar Mission One project is designed to land a probe on the moon that is capable of drilling at least 65 feet (20 meters) below the lunar surface, and hopefully reach a target depth of 328 feet (100 m) inside the moon.


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Curiosity Rover's Critics are Missing the Point (Op-Ed)

Curiosity Rover's Critics are Missing the Point (Op-Ed)Marc Kaufman has written about science and international affairs for more than three decades, primarily for The Washington Postand The Philadelphia Inquirer.Kaufman's latest book is "Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission" (National Geographic, 2014).Kaufman contributed this essay to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. To the worldwide legion of enthusiasts following the trek of the Curiosity rover across Mars, the announcement last week that Gale Crater had featured lakes and rivers for potentially tens of millions of years was another important moment in the evolving story of Mars as a once-habitable planet. It's a story line that Curiosity has aggressively developed and now owns, and it is arguably the biggest story in space exploration today. Yet when project scientist John Grotzinger described the team's newest findings, there was a defensiveness of sorts.


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Voyager 1 Rides 'Tsunami Wave' in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 Rides 'Tsunami Wave' in Interstellar SpaceIt turns out that sailing through interstellar space isn't so peaceful. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft — the only object made by humans to reach interstellar space — might still be caught what scientists have described as a cosmic "tsunami wave," a shock wave that first hit the probe in February, according to new research. You can hear the eerie interstellar vibrations in a video, courtesy of NASA. "Most people would have thought the interstellar medium would have been smooth and quiet," study researcher Don Gurnett, professor of physics at the University of Iowa, and the principal investigator of Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument, said in a statement from NASA.


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Back to the future: Scientists want 'rewilded' crops to boost agriculture

By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists should "re-wild" food crops by inserting lost genetic properties of ancient, edible plants in order to boost agricultural output for a growing population, a new study said. Important properties of wild plants, including varieties of wheat and rice, have been unintentionally lost during thousands of years of breeding. When humans first domesticated wheat around 7500 BC, farmers chose to use seeds based on a few selected traits, particularly their yields. ...

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NASA Probe Piecing Together How Mars' Atmosphere Escapes to Space

NASA Probe Piecing Together How Mars' Atmosphere Escapes to SpaceA NASA spacecraft that recently arrived in orbit around Mars is already helping to solve a Martian mystery. Scientists are using the space agency's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft to gather more data about how Mars' atmosphere bled molecules out into space over time. The agency released early results from the probe today (Dec. 15), showing how the continuous stream of particles emanating from the sun, called the solar wind, bury more deeply into the Martian atmosphere than scientists had previously thought. "Over the course of the full mission, we'll be able to fill in this picture and really understand the processes by which the atmosphere changed over time," Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, said in a statement.


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Why Birds Don't Have Teeth

Why Birds Don't Have TeethThe common ancestor of all living birds sported a set of pearly whites 116 million years ago, a new study finds. In the study, researchers looked at the mutated remains of tooth genes in modern birds to figure out when birds developed "edentulism" — an absence of teeth. Ancient birds have left only a fragmented fossil record, but studying the genes of modern birds can help clarify how the bird lineage has changed over time. "DNA from the crypt is a powerful tool for unlocking secrets of evolutionary history," Mark Springer, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside and one of the study's lead researchers, said in a statement.


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Actor Seth Green Designs Mission Patch for Space Station Science

Actor Seth Green Designs Mission Patch for Space Station ScienceLooking at the latest mission patch bound for the International Space Station, you would never know it was designed by actor Seth Green.


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Scientists work to conserve 2,500-year-old mummy

FILE- In this Dec. 5, 2014, photo, the mummified body of Minirdis, a 14-year-old Egyptian boy and his exposed toes lie in his opened coffin after J.P. Brown and his team of curators at the Field Museum opened the coffin for the first time in Chicago. The team opened the coffin of the 2,500-year-old mummy to perform conservation work before it becomes part of a traveling exhibition. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)CHICAGO (AP) — Conservation work has started at Chicago's Field Museum on the 2,500-year-old mummy of a 14-year-old Egyptian boy.


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Scientists create 'feel fuller' food ingredient

LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists have developed an ingredient that makes foods more filling, and say initial tests in overweight people showed that it helped prevent them gaining more weight. The ingredient, developed by researchers at London's Imperial College and at the University of Glasgow, contains propionate, a natural substance that stimulates the gut to release hormones that act on the brain to reduce hunger. ...

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U.N.'s Ban says no 'time for tinkering' on global warming action

Leaders pose for the media during the High Level Segment of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in LimaBy Valerie Volcovici and Mitra Taj LIMA (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing deep concern about slow action to combat climate change, told governments at U.N. talks in Lima on Tuesday there was no "time for tinkering" and urged a radical shift to greener economies. Ban said there was still a chance of limiting global warming to an internationally agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to help avert floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels. ...


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Guiding African Wildlife Through Global Warming

Guiding African Wildlife Through Global WarmingJessica Arriens is a public affairs specialist for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. The Congo basin is an unruly ribbon of tropical forest, more than a million square miles spanning six countries in Central Africa, running inward along the equator from the continent's western coast. In Central Africa, those forces include deforestation, climate change, hunting and more. The region is "so enriched with life," says Mary "Katy" Gonder, a Drexel University biologist and one of the lead researchers on the Central African Biodiversity Alliance (CABA).


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Rhino species to die unless science can help

In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, keeper Mohamed Doyo walks with female northern white rhino Fatu as she is let out of her pen to graze, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The keepers of three of the last six northern white rhinos on Earth said Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 that it is highly unlikely the three will ever reproduce naturally, with recent medical examinations of them showing the species is doomed to extinction, unless science can help. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)OL PEJETA, Kenya (AP) — The task was never going to be easy: Fly four highly endangered rhinos from a Czech Republic zoo to East Africa, drive them to the savannah grasses of Mount Kenya and hope that the natural environment helps produce a calf, staving off extinction.


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UN's Ban says no 'time for tinkering' on global warming action

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech during the opening of the High Level Segment of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in LimaBy Valerie Volcovici and Mitra Taj LIMA (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing deep concern about slow action to combat climate change, told governments at U.N. talks in Lima on Tuesday there was no "time for tinkering" and urged a radical shift to greener economies. Ban said there was still a chance of limiting global warming to an internationally agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to help avert floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels. ...


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Math for Drones, Self-Driving Cars Wins Top Student Science Award

Math for Drones, Self-Driving Cars Wins Top Student Science AwardMathematical research that could help drones navigate, and computer models for how trees growsnagged top honors at a national student math and science competition, the event's organizers announced today (Dec. 9). Peter Tian, a senior at The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio, took home the $100,000 grand prize in the individual category for mathematical research on pattern avoidance for multidimensional matrices — a subject with applications for how drones or self-driving cars navigate in 3D environments. Eli Echt-Wilson and Albert Zuo, seniors at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will share the $100,000 grand prize in the team category for research on computational models for tree growth.


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MIT pulls online lectures over harassment claim

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has removed a retired physics professor's lectures from an online learning platform because the school concluded he had sexually harassed a woman, university officials ...

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What Is Life? It's a Tricky, Confusing Question

What Is Life? It's a Tricky, Confusing QuestionHence the operational definition of "life" in the Viking biology experiments was the ability to metabolize in the conditions of the experiment. There are several problems with this operational definition.


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Global warming threat cut slightly, still severe - study

A worker pulls a cart in front of the smoking chimneys of a power plant in HefeiLIMA (Reuters) - Projected global warming this century has slowed but is still at a severe rate after promises by China, the United States and the European Union to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a scientific study showed on Monday. The Climate Action Tracker, produced by an independent group of scientists, said temperatures were set to rise by about 3 degrees Celsius (5.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times by 2100, the lowest since the tracker was set up to monitor promises made by governments in 2009. The study, issued during U.N. talks on global warming in Lima, said the rate was 0. ...


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White House focuses on computer science in schools

President Barack Obama does a "fist bump" with a Adrianna Mitchell during an “Hour of Code” event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, attended by middle-school students from Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)WASHINGTON (AP) — Smartphones and laptops have become essential tools for today's teenagers. But finding out how to make computers work has taken a backseat to other priorities in U.S. schools.


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Scientists re-create what may be life's first spark

This handout photo provided by Svatopluk Civis, taken in 2014, shows the Prague Asterix Laser System in Prague. Scientists in a lab used a powerful laser to re-create what could have been the original spark of life on primordial Earth, possibly ignited by a crashing asteroid. Researchers said they zapped clay and a chemical soup with the laser to simulate the energy of a speeding asteroid smashing into the planet. That cooked up from scratch what can be considered crucial parts of the building blocks of life. They created all four chemical bases that are needed to make RNA, a simpler relative of DNA, the blueprint of life. (AP Photo/Dagmar Civisova)WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists in a lab used a powerful laser to re-create what might have been the original spark of life on Earth.


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Scientists find brain mechanism behind glucose greed

LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists have found a brain mechanism they think may drive our desire for glucose-rich food and say the discovery could one day lead to better treatments for obesity. In experiments using rats, researchers at Imperial College London found a mechanism that appears to sense how much glucose is reaching the brain and prompts animals to seek more if it detects a shortfall. In people, the scientists said, it may play a role in driving our preference for sweet and starchy foods. Glucose, a component of carbohydrates, is the main energy source used by brain cells. ...

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Who Stood Up for Science in 2014? (Op-Ed)

Who Stood Up for Science in 2014? (Op-Ed)Andrew Whelton is an environmental engineer at Purdue University. When Freedom Industries spilled chemicals into West Virginia's Elk River in January, 300,000 people suddenly found themselves without access to safe tap water. Whelton drove his student and faculty team nearly 900 miles to help, and they did so as volunteers, without the promise of funding for their work.


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Putin urges to develop Russian science to fend off sanctions

By Vladimir Soldatkin ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia should make a leap in developing its fundamental science after Western powers limited the country's access to modern technology as part of sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine. The West has introduced sanctions against Russia, ranging from visa bans and asset freezes to restricting its access to foreign drilling technologies, key to Russia's development of untapped Arctic oil and gas deposits. ...

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BlackBerry, NantHealth launch cancer genome browser

The Blackberry sign is pictured in WaterlooBy Euan Rocha TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd and NantHealth, a healthcare-focused data provider, launched a secure cancer genome browser on Sunday, giving doctors the ability to access patients' genetic data on the BlackBerry Passport smartphone. Earlier this year, BlackBerry bought a minority stake in privately held NantHealth. The mobile technology company sees healthcare as one of the niche sectors in which it has an advantage, due to the heightened focus on patient privacy and BlackBerry's vast networks that can manage and secure data on mobile devices. ...


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Biological psychiatric problems garner less empathy

By Ronnie Cohen (Reuters Health) - Given more information about the biology of a mental disorder, doctors and therapists react with less empathy for the patient, a new study finds. The study didn't involve real patients - only short descriptions of fictional cases. Still, it found that psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers expressed less empathy for patients with conditions explained as biological rather than psychological. ...

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Puffed-Up Blowfish Aren't Holding Their Breath

Puffed-Up Blowfish Aren't Holding Their BreathPufferfish can balloon into a spikey sphere within moments of sensing a nearby threat, and while it may seem like these creatures hold their breath as they inflate, they can actually breathe as they puff up. "We were intrigued by previous studies that suggested the pufferfishes hold their breath while inflated, presumably to keep the ingested water in the stomach," said Georgia McGee, who did the research as a marine biology undergraduate at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. The scientists caught eight black-saddled pufferfish (Canthigaster valentini) in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and placed them in sealed tanks. The researchers stimulated the fish by gently suctioning, which caused them to puff up to about four times their normal size.


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Scientists find why male smokers may run even higher health risks

A man smokes in front of a "no smoking" sign outside a shopping mall in ShanghaiBy Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Male smokers are three times more likely than non-smoking men to lose their Y chromosomes, according to research which may explain why men develop and die from many cancers at disproportionate rates compared to women. In a study in the journal Science, researchers at Sweden's Uppsala University found that Y chromosomes, which are important for sex determination and sperm production, more often disappear from blood cells of smokers than those of men who have never smoked or of men who have kicked the habit. ...


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Scientists map genetic diversity of sub-Saharan Africa

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have made the most comprehensive map yet of African genetic variation and say it should help them learn more about the role genes play in diseases such as malaria, haemorrhagic fever and hypertension in populations there. Publishing the findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Deepti Gurdasani of Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said that despite Africa being the world's most genetically diverse region, relatively little is known about potential genetic risks for disease among its populations. ...

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Ignoring indigenous rights in Amazon fuels global warming: study

By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than half the carbon in the Amazon region could be released into the atmosphere unless indigenous land rights are protected, a new study said on Tuesday, as a UN climate conference got under way in Peru. Indigenous territories and protected natural areas across nine South American countries account for more than half the carbon stored in the Amazon, the study published in the journal Carbon Management reported. ...

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Actor challenges scientists: Explain sleep to kids

FILE - In this Friday, April 26, 2013 photo, actor Alan Alda listens during an interview at Stony Brook University, on New York's Long Island. Alda has a new challenge for scientists: Explain sleep to an 11-year-old. He started the annual “Flame Challenge” contest in 2011. It asks scientists to explain complex concepts in ways a child can understand. Scientists have until Feb. 13, 2015 to submit their answers about sleep in writing, video or graphics. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Actor-turned-part-time professor Alan Alda has a new challenge for scientists: Explain sleep to an 11-year-old.


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Actor Alan Alda Challenges Scientists to Explain 'What is Sleep?'

Actor Alan Alda Challenges Scientists to Explain 'What is Sleep?'The question may seem complex, but actor Alan Alda, renowned for his roles on the hit TV shows "M*A*S*H" and "The West Wing," is asking researchers around the world to make the answer simple and understandable to the children, who will judge the entries. "I think that 11-year-old kids are probably all reaching that point in their lives when they want answers to complicated questions, but they want them with clarity," said Alda, a visiting professor in the school of journalism at Stony Brook University, in New York. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, at Stony Brook University, has called on researchers to demystify tricky scientific concepts in what has been dubbed the "Flame Challenge" (since the inaugural challenge in 2011 sought an answer to the question "What is a flame?").


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Invisible Dark Matter May Show Up in GPS Signals

Invisible Dark Matter May Show Up in GPS SignalsGPS satellites are crucial for navigation, but now researchers think this technology could be used for an unexpected purpose: finding traces of enigmatic dark matter that is thought to lurk throughout the universe. Without the extra force of gravity from dark matter, researchers say, galaxies wouldn't be able to hold themselves together. Physicists don't know what dark matter is made of, but some think it's composed of particles that barely interact with the visible world, which is why dark matter is invisible and has been difficult to detect. However, Andrei Derevianko, a professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Maxim Pospelov, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, have proposed that dark matter isn't made of particles at all.


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8 Ways You Can See Einstein's Theory of Relativity in Real Life

Formulated by Albert Einstein in 1905, the theory of relativity is the notion that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. If you take a loop of wire and move it through a magnetic field, you generate an electric current.





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