Friday, March 6, 2015 10:15:41 AM CST
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A U.S. space probe slipped into orbit around Ceres, a miniature planet beyond Mars believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system, NASA said on Friday. Launched in 2007, the Dawn spacecraft made a 14-month tour of the asteroid Vesta before steering itself toward Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn shifted its path to allow itself to be captured by Ceres’ gravity at 7:39 a.m. EST, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 3:18:47 PM CST
The star, known as US 708, is traveling at about 746 miles (1,200 km) per second, fast enough to actually leave the Milky Way galaxy in about 25 million years, said astronomer Stephan Geier with Germany-based European Southern Observatory, which operates three telescopes in Chile. US 708 is not the first star astronomers have found that is moving fast enough to escape the galaxy, but it is the only one so far that appears to have been slingshot in a supernova explosion. Before it was sent streaming across the galaxy, US 708 was once a cool giant star, but it was stripped of nearly all of its hydrogen by a closely orbiting partner.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 3:14:13 PM CST
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and a naturally occurring cosmic magnifying lens captured surprising multiple images of the same exploded ancient star, research published on Thursday shows. The four images captured by Hubble were caused by light taking different paths around a massive galaxy cluster located between the exploded star and the Earth-orbiting telescope. By chance, the supernova, which exploded about 9 billion years ago, was aligned with the intervening galaxy cluster being used during a Hubble observation period in 2011. “The supernova team was looking at these image and bam, up popped not one, not two, not three, but four images,” said astronomer Jennifer Lotz, with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 1:17:29 PM CST
British and Chinese scientists say they have developed a new paint that can be applied to clothes, paper, glass and steel to make resilient surfaces that can self-clean even after being scratched or scuffed. In research published in the journal Science on Thursday, the scientists said the paint, made from coated titanium dioxide nanoparticles, is extremely repellent to water but, unlike other waterproof coatings, continues to work even when damaged or exposed to oil. "The biggest challenge for self-cleaning surfaces is finding a way to make them tough enough to withstand everyday damage," said Claire Carmalt, a professor of inorganic chemistry at University College London, who co-led the research.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 11:34:22 AM CST
Slowed-down video footage of a series of praying mantises leaping towards a target has demonstrated the extraordinary precision of the insect while jumping. British scientists Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton studied the insect's jump, which from take-off to landing lasts less than a tenth of a second - faster than the blink of a human eye.
Friday, March 6, 2015 12:53:28 PM CST
The percentage of Americans who consider vaccines crucial for children has declined slightly in the past decade, according to a new survey. And 30 percent of Americans now say they've heard "a great deal" about the disadvantages of vaccines, compared to 15 percent who said that in 2001. The percentage of Americans who say they consider vaccines to be worse than the diseases they prevent has not changed much in 14 years: 9 percent of Americans held this view in 2015, compared with 6 percent in 2001. Only 6 percent of Americans say they think vaccines cause autism, while 41 percent say that vaccines do not cause autism, and 52 percent said they were unsure.
Friday, March 6, 2015 8:03:18 AM CST
The new film "Chappie" features an artificially intelligent robot that becomes sentient and must learn to navigate the competing forces of kindness and corruption in a human world. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, whose previous work includes "District 9" and "Elysium," the film takes place in the South African city of Johannesburg. One of these robots, named "Chappie," receives an upgrade that makes him sentient. Yet, while today's technology isn't quite at the level of that in the film, "We definitely have had major aspects of systems like Chappie already in existence for quite a while," said Wolfgang Fink, a physicist and AI expert at Caltech and the University of Arizona, who did not advise on the film.
Friday, March 6, 2015 6:53:18 AM CST
If hints of soured milk and burnt rubber, or a "goaty" taste sound delightful to you, then brews that were aged for 170 years at the bottom of the Baltic Sea might just be your thing. Scientists recently opened two bottles of beer from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland to get a profile of the 19th century brews. The bottles came from 165 feet (50 meters) below the surface of the Baltic, from the wreckage of a schooner that sank near Finland's Aland Islands in the 1840s. In 2010, divers found 150 bottles of champagne at the wreck, as well as five beer bottles, though one did not survive the journey back to land.
Friday, March 6, 2015 8:52:54 AM CST
The year of the dwarf planet has begun. NASA's Dawn probe arrived at Ceres today (March 6) at about 7:39 a.m. EST (1239 GMT), becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit a dwarf planet. Dawn's observations over the next 16 months should lift the veil on Ceres, which has remained largely mysterious since its 1801 discovery, mission team members say. "It's really going to be exciting to see what this exotic, alien world looks like," Dawn mission director and chief engineer Marc Rayman, who's based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told Space.com in late January.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 11:19:26 PM CST
NASA's Dawn probe is just hours away from making spaceflight history. Dawn is scheduled to slip into orbit around Ceres — the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and Ceres — the closest dwarf planet to Earth — at about 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT) on Friday (March 6). If all goes according to plan, Dawn will become the first spacecraft ever to visit a dwarf planet, and the first to circle two different objects beyond the Earth-moon system.
Friday, March 6, 2015 6:31:32 AM CST
Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful, recently apologized for a statement in which he said being gay is "absolutely" a choice. In an interview on CNN, the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate commented that "a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out they're gay, so did something happen while they were in there?
Wednesday, March 4, 2015 9:21:36 AM CST
In the event of a zombie outbreak, the best way to avoid getting infected is to stay away from populated areas, according to a new study. To figure out the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse, a team of researchers modeled what would happen if an epidemic of the undead were to hit the United States. "We did a full U.S.-scale simulation of 307 million individuals and thousands of outbreaks, to see who ended up infected and who did not," said Alex Alemi, a graduate student in theoretical physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015 8:04:35 AM CST
Wednesday, March 4, 2015 6:56:16 AM CST
This strange behavior is a consequence of quantum mechanics, bizarre rules of physics that govern the behavior of subatomic particles. "This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics — and its paradoxical nature — directly," study co-author Fabrizio Carbone, a researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, said in a statement.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 9:20:03 AM CST
There's something highly reflective on Ceres twinkling at NASA's Dawn spacecraft, and scientists hope to figure out what it is after the probe arrives at the dwarf planet later this week. The bright-spot mystery is just one question Dawn will tackle after it enters orbit around Ceres at about 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT) on Friday (March 6). "Ceres has really surprised us, and the first images have produced some really puzzling features that have got the team, and I think some other people, really excited," Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator Carol Raymond, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said during a news conference Monday (March 2). The two bright spots are close to each other inside a 57-mile-wide (92 kilometers) crater that sits at about 19 degrees north latitude on Ceres, which is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 7:25:26 AM CST
California's severe and ongoing drought is just a taste of the dry years to come, thanks to global warming, a new study finds. "California's warming trend is driving an increase in the risk of drought," said study co-author Daniel Swain, a doctoral student in climate science at Stanford University in California. "Warming in California has made it more probable that when a low precipitation year occurs, it occurs in warm conditions and is more likely to produce severe drought," said lead study author Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford.
Monday, March 2, 2015 4:40:08 PM CST
Curt 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.
Monday, March 2, 2015 4:40:05 PM CST
A new animated TV show from Disney Junior is letting the imaginations of young space fans of tomorrow run wild through the universe, and it's even trying to teach them a little space science along the way. "As a young, impressionable person, stories that have good values to them — never give up, that science and technology can help us and make life better … that you can be part of this whole thing — those are really important stories," John Spencer, one of the "Miles" consultants, said. Spencer, the founder of the Space Tourism Society, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Randii Wessen helped the "Miles from Tomorrowland" team craft the show.
Monday, March 2, 2015 3:50:04 PM CST
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.
Monday, March 2, 2015 3:21:26 PM CST
By 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.
Monday, March 2, 2015 2:54:12 PM CST
Monday, March 2, 2015 10:36:29 AM CST
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.
Friday, February 27, 2015 11:31:13 AM CST
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.
Friday, February 27, 2015 6:09:49 AM CST
The 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.
Thursday, February 26, 2015 1:29:32 PM CST
A 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.
Thursday, February 26, 2015 1:02:07 PM CST
By 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.
Thursday, February 26, 2015 9:32:12 AM CST
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.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 3:19:51 PM CST
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 12:27:35 PM CST
By 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.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 11:44:23 AM CST
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.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 9:32:10 AM CST
With obesity rates continuing to rise around the globe and the majority of Americans now obese or overweight, it's easy to see that we are losing the battle of the bulge. Aside from isolated areas of improvement where people are, in fact, losing weight — in a city here, a neighborhood there — no country has succeeded in reversing its obesity epidemic. In a series of six critical articles covering the health, policy, economics and politics of obesity, scientists lay out what society has been doing wrong and call for a new global action plan to meet what they call the "modest" goal of the World Health Organization: no increase in the prevalence of obesity from now through 2025. "There are clear agreements on what strategies should be implemented and tested to address obesity," said Christina Roberto, an assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and lead author of the first report of the series.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 6:21:32 AM CST
Cosmeticians probably won't agree, but scientists say eyelashes have an optimal length: a third of the width of the eye. "They've been hypothesized to act as sun shades, dust catchers and blink-reflex triggers," said David Hu, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 2:59:00 PM CST
A team of researchers studying insects in Africa has named a newly discovered species of wasp with a distinctive yellow-and-black pattern after Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, the Boston Globe reported on Tuesday. Robert Copeland, a follower of Boston sports and an entomologist at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, told the newspaper that the wasp’s yellow and black colouring resembles a Boston Bruins jersey. The research also was underwritten by the government of Finland, where Rask was born. "This species is named after the acrobatic goaltender for the Finnish national ice hockey team and the Boston Bruins, whose glove hand is as tenacious as the raptorial fore tarsus of this dryinid species," the authors wrote in the paper, which is due to be published in March in the scientific journal Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae. Rask told the newspaper he was unaware of any animals named after him, other than the occasional fan’s pet cat or dog.
Monday, February 23, 2015 9:08:12 PM CST
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - In research that contradicts years of health advice, scientists said on Monday that babies at risk of developing a childhood peanut allergy can avoid it if they are given peanuts regularly during their first 11 months. The study, the first to show that eating certain foods is an effective way of preventing allergy, showed an 80 percent reduction in the prevalence of peanut allergies among high-risk children who ate peanuts frequently from infanthood, compared to those who avoided them. "This is an important clinical development and contravenes previous guidelines," said Gideon Lack, who led the study at King's College London. "New guidelines may be needed to reduce the rate of peanut allergy in our children." Rates of food allergies have been rising in recent decades, and peanut allergy now affects between 1 and 3 percent of children in Western Europe, Australia and the United States.
Monday, February 23, 2015 11:24:44 AM CST
NASA researchers think they understand why comets have a hard, crispy outside and a cold but soft inside — just like fried ice cream. Two NASA spacecraft have interacted with a comet surface, and both found a crunchy exterior and somewhat softer, more porous interior. They think they can explain the process that makes a comet not unlike a flying hunk of fried ice cream. To create amorphous ice, water vapor molecules must be flash-frozen at a temperature of about minus 405 degrees Fahrenheit (243 degrees Celsius).
Monday, February 23, 2015 6:34:45 AM CST
Despite their tuxedo style, when it comes to enjoying food, penguins have poor taste, a new study finds. These flightless birds can't taste the savoriness of fish or the sweetness of fruit, because over the course of evolution, they have lost the ability to taste all but salty and sour flavors. Many birds, such as chickens and finches, lack the receptors for sweet taste, but they can still taste bitter and umami. "Penguinseat fish, so you would guess that they need the umami receptor genes, but for some reason they don't have them," Jianzhi "George" Zhang, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan and co-author of the study published yesterday (Feb. 16) in the journal Current Biology, said in a statement.
Friday, February 20, 2015 3:45:22 PM CST
(In 6th paragraph, corrects to show that four patient were treated for infections at the hospital, not that they developed infections at the hospital) By Toni Clarke WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Google-backed 23andMe won U.S. approval on Thursday to market the first direct-to-consumer genetic test for a mutation that can cause children to inherit Bloom syndrome, a rare disorder that leads to short height, an increased risk of cancer and unusual facial features. The Food and Drug Administration said it plans to issue a notice to exempt this and other carrier screening tests from the need to win FDA review before being sold. "This action creates the least burdensome regulatory path for autosomal recessive carrier screening tests with similar uses to enter the market," the agency said in a statement, referring to genetic mutations carried by two unaffected parents. The FDA previously barred Mountain View, California-based 23andMe from marketing a saliva collection kit and personal genome service designed to identify a range of health risks including cancer and heart disease, saying it had not received marketing clearance.
Friday, February 20, 2015 11:28:30 AM CST
Thursday, February 19, 2015 8:44:06 PM CST
By Toni Clarke WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Google-backed 23andMe won U.S. approval on Thursday to market the first direct-to-consumer genetic test for a mutation that can cause children to inherit Bloom syndrome, a rare disorder that leads to short height, an increased risk of cancer and unusual facial features. The Food and Drug Administration said it plans to issue a notice to exempt this and other carrier screening tests from the need to win FDA review before being sold. "This action creates the least burdensome regulatory path for autosomal recessive carrier screening tests with similar uses to enter the market," the agency said in a statement, referring to genetic mutations carried by two unaffected parents. The FDA previously barred Mountain View, California-based 23andMe from marketing a saliva collection kit and personal genome service designed to identify a range of health risks including cancer and heart disease, saying it had not received marketing clearance.