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NASA puts out call for satellite communication services on Mars
News ImageBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - In what may be the ultimate in long-distance telephone service, NASA on Wednesday put out a call for a commercially owned and operated satellite network on Mars. The robotic probes, however, are useless if they cannot relay their results, and the two communication satellites currently in orbit are getting old. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter followed in 2005. The aging of NASAs Mars communications system comes as the United States, Europe, Russia and India mount a fresh wave of science campaigns, including two atmospheric probes slated to arrive at Mars in September and two life-hunting rovers due to launch in 2018 and 2020.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:49:31 -0400
U.S. scientists to map interior of Mount St. Helens volcano
News ImageBy 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.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:23:57 -0400
Paracetamol no better than placebo for low back pain, study finds
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Paracetamol, a painkiller universally recommended to treat people with acute low back pain, does not speed recovery or reduce pain from the condition, according to the results of a large trial published on Thursday. A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that the popular pain medicine was no better than placebo, or dummy, pills for hastening recovery from acute bouts of low back pain or easing pain levels, function, sleep or quality of life. Researchers said the findings challenge the universal endorsement of paracetamol as the first choice painkiller for lower back pain. "We need to reconsider the universal recommendation to provide paracetamol as a first-line treatment," said Christopher Williams, who led the study at the University of Sydney in Australia. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:49:03 -0400
Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy: U.S. study
News ImageDogs are capable of feeling a basic form of jealousy, according to a study published in the PLOS ONE scientific journal. The research, said to be the first experiment on canine jealousy, could redefine the view that the complex emotion of envy is a human construct, said Christine Harris, University of California, San Diego psychologist and an author of the study.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:51:52 -0400
Hacking experts build device to protect cars from cyber attacks
By Jim Finkle (This July 22 story is refiled to include omitted title for Chris Valasek, paragraph 3) BOSTON (Reuters) - Two security experts who a year ago exposed methods for hacking the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape say they have developed technology that would keep automobiles safe from cyber attacks. At last summer's Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, the two researchers, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, described ways to launch dangerous attacks, including manipulating the brakes of the moving Prius and the Ford Escape. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:47:13 -0400
Fukushima Monkeys' Blood Shows Signs of Radiation Exposure
News ImageWild monkeys living in forests of Fukushima the Japanese city that was the site of a nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011 have lower blood cell counts than monkeys from northern Japan, and carry detectable levels of cesium in their bodies, researchers have found. The researchers studied blood changes and signs of radiation exposure in 61 monkeys living 43 miles (70 kilometers) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, about one year after an earthquake and tsunami struck the region in 2011, causing a meltdown of three of the plant's reactors, which released a large amount of radioactive material into the environment. The results showed Fukushima monkeys had lower counts of red and white blood cells, and other blood parts compared with 31 monkeys from Shimokita Penisula in northern Japan. The researchers also found radioactive cesium in the muscles of Fukushima monkeys, ranging from 78 to 1778 becquerels (units of radioactivity representing decay per second) per kilogram, but they didn't find any in Shimokita monkeys.
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:49:23 -0400
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. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:24:22 -0400
Did All Dinosaurs Sport Feathers? Downy Beast Suggests Yes
News ImageSteven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" might need a little more revising a newly discovered dinosaur species offers hints that feathers were much more common among the ancient beasts than once thought. "Here, for the first time, we have found featherlike structures in a dinosaur [that] is far from the lineage leading to birds," said study co-author Pascal Godefroit, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Belgium. Since the mid-1990s, paleontologists in China have been finding feathered dinosaur skeletons from about 20 different groups, but they all belonged to a single lineage, theropods, which includes Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptors. The little dinosaur skeleton was equipped with preserved long filaments resembling downy feathers around its arms and legs.
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:24:13 -0400
Apollo 11's Vintage Tech: The Most Amazing Moon Landing Innovations
News ImageThe computing technology of the average cell phone far exceeds the combined computing power of the two spacecraft that got humans to the moon and home safely. The lunar module, for example, flew only twice with astronauts inside before Apollo 11. There were several modes of transportation that NASA could have chosen to take to the moon. For example, engineers could have launched two big rockets and then docked the various spacecraft and components in Earth orbit.
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:46:13 -0400
Satellites Track Malaysian Airlines MH17 Crash Site from Space (Images)
News ImageSatellite images captured the smoldering wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 that was shot down by a missile on July 17 in eastern Ukraine. The bird's-eye view of the site was imaged byDigitalGlobe, a company based in Colorado that programmed three of its five satellites to track the area after reports of the plane crash came flooding in.[See the top images from the DigitalGlobe contest in 2013] The plane was shot down amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict by a surface-to-air missile fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The attack on the plane has brought global attention to the war in Ukraine.
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:46:05 -0400
Happy Birthday, Landsat: Space Science Project Turns 42
News ImageThe 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.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:55:38 -0400
String Theory: The Physics of Master Guitar Playing
News ImageHow do great guitarists bend a string like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix? "Very good guitarists will manipulate the strings to make the instrument sing," David Robert Grimes, a physicist at Oxford University, in England, who plays guitar and was a member of a band in Dublin, Ireland, said in a statement. The physics of string instrumentsis fairly well understood, but "I wanted to understand what it was about these guitar techniques that allows you to manipulate pitch," Grimes said. Grimes, who normally works on mathematical models of oxygen distribution in radiation therapy for cancer, spent his spare time crafting equations for various guitar techniques, including bending (pushing the strings up or down), tapping (hitting the strings), vibrato (moving the wrist back and forth to change a string's tension) and whammy bar action (a mechanical form of vibrato).
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:24:08 -0400
U.S. scientists urge 'national vision' to curb coastal risks in report
(Reuters) - A group of top scientists has called for a fundamental change to how the United States deals with risks to its Atlantic and Gulf coasts from storms and climate change in a National Research Council report released Wednesday. Urging a "national vision" toward addressing coastal risks, the report comes on the heels of a Reuters analysis published earlier this month showing that coastal flooding along the densely populated Eastern Seaboard of the United States has surged in recent years, with steep financial consequences. The great majority of money - most of it federal dollars -spent on coastal risks goes toward recovery after a disaster rather than on planning for and mitigating against storms, climate change and sea-level rise, the report said. Instead, the federal government should push for a national coastal risk assessment to identify best practices and uniform measures of progress, and move away from the current decentralized approach to coastal management, the report said. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:12:48 -0400
Elephants Can Outsniff Rats and Dogs
News ImageElephants are known for their impressively long trunks, but perhaps less well known is the large number of genes that code for their sense smell. "Rats had the record for the largest number of [these] genes," said the study's lead researcher Yoshiihito Niimura, a researcher of molecular evolution at The University of Tokyo in Japan. The findings support other research on the pachyderm's superior sense of smell. African elephants can smell the difference between two tribes living in Kenya: the Maasai, whose young men prove their virility by spearing elephants, and the Kamba, farmers who usually leave elephants alone, reported a 2007 study published in the journal Current Biology.
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:19:59 -0400
Schizophrenia has many genetic links, study says
By Andrew M. Seaman NEW YORK - More than 100 locations on the human genome may play a role in a persons risk of developing schizophrenia, according to a new study. While the results do not have an immediate effect on those living with the psychiatric disorder, one of the studys authors said they open areas of research that had not seen advances in recent years. "The exciting thing about having little openings is it gives you a place to dig and make big openings, said Steve McCarroll, director of genetics for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. McCarroll is part of the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which published the study in the journal Nature. Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:12:41 -0400
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