27 Jan 2015

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Rocket-Powered Car Aims to Break Land Speed Record

Rocket-Powered Car Aims to Break Land Speed RecordThe so-called Bloodhound car is designed to go superfast. "You may walk into the workshop and see the chassis sitting on the bed where we're building it, but that's not all we've got," Elvin told Live Science. Bloodhound will sniff out the current land speed record of 763 mph (1,227 km/h), held by Thrust SSC, a United Kingdom-based team that was led by Richard Noble, the current leader of the Bloodhound project. If all goes according to plan, Bloodhound will do runway testing in the United Kingdom at speeds of up to 200 mph (322 km/h) in the summer.

27 Jan 2015 1:15pm GMT

La Niña Events May Spike with Climate Change

The extremely strong La Niña events that can shake up global weather patterns may soon hit nearly twice as often as they did previously, due to global warming, researchers say in a new study. Results showed that extreme La Niña events may soon strike about every 13 years, as opposed to about every 23 years, as they do now. The findings do not suggest a regular schedule of extreme La Niña events every 13 years, said lead study author Wenju Cai, a climate scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Aspendale, Australia. La Niña, which is Spanish for "little girl," involves unusually cool waters in a belt 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) long across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

27 Jan 2015 12:52pm GMT

Why Monster Storm 'Juno' Will Be So Snowy

Why Monster Storm 'Juno' Will Be So SnowyEast Coast folks: Stock up on munchies, get those prescriptions filled and get ready to hunker down for the next day or two. A huge nor'easter, dubbed Juno, is expected to batter the East Coast starting tonight (Jan. 26). In addition, winds will gust up to 60 to 70 miles per hour (96 to 113 km/h) in some places along the coast, making this a dangerous blizzard, said Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center.

27 Jan 2015 12:48pm GMT

Scientists ask if Ebola immunises as well as kills

Ebola survivor Alimamy Kanu poses for a picture at Devil Hole"The virus may be bumping into people it can't infect any more." Latest World Health Organization data show new cases of infection in West Africa's unprecedented Ebola epidemic dropping dramatically in Guinea, Sierra Leone and particularly in Liberia. Most experts are sure the main driver is better control measures reducing direct contact with contagious patients and corpses, but there may also be other factors at work. So-called herd immunity is a feature of many infectious diseases and can, in some cases, dampen an outbreak if enough people get asymptomatic, or "sub-clinical" cases and acquire protective antibodies. After a while, the virus - be it flu, measles, polio - can't find non-immune people to be its hosts. But some specialists with wide experience of disease outbreaks are highly sceptical about whether this phenomenon happens in Ebola, or whether it could affect an epidemic. "There is some suggestion there may be cases that are less severe... and there may even be some that are asymptomatic," said David Heymann, an infectious disease expert and head of global health security at Chatham House. "But herd immunity is just the wrong term.

27 Jan 2015 9:14am GMT

Scientists ask if Ebola immunizes as well as kills

A health worker disinfects a road in the Paynesville neighborhood of MonroviaBy Kate Kelland and Emma Farge LONDON/DAKAR (Reuters) - A recent sharp drop in new Ebola infections in West Africa is prompting scientists to wonder whether the virus may be silently immunizing some people at the same time as brutally killing their neighbors. So-called "asymptomatic" Ebola cases - in which someone is exposed to the virus, develops antibodies, but doesn't get sick or suffer symptoms - are hotly disputed among scientists, with some saying their existence is little more than a pipe dream. "We wonder whether 'herd immunity' is secretly coming up - when you get a critical mass of people who are protected, because if they are asymptomatic they are then immune," Philippe Maughan, senior operations administrator for the humanitarian branch of the European Commission, told Reuters. "The virus may be bumping into people it can't infect any more." Latest World Health Organization data show new cases of infection in West Africa's unprecedented Ebola epidemic dropping dramatically in Guinea, Sierra Leone and particularly in Liberia.

27 Jan 2015 8:44am GMT

Monster Winter Storm Spotted from Space (Photo, Video)

Monster Winter Storm Spotted from Space (Photo, Video)New satellite imagery shows the monster winter storm now battering the northeastern United States with snow as it gathered strength for what may be an epic snowfall. The monster storm's claws are definitely out in the photos, which were captured from Saturday through Monday (Jan. 24 to Jan. 26) by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration's (NOAA) GOES-East spacecraft and combined into a new movie that shows the storm's development and movement. The new imagery overlays cloud data gathered by GOES-East in visible and infrared light with true-color photos of land and sea captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua and Terra Earth-observing satellites. The image-processing work was done at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where the joint NASA/NOAA GOES Project is based.

27 Jan 2015 12:46am GMT

26 Jan 2015

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Private Space Taxis on Track to Fly in 2017

Private Space Taxis on Track to Fly in 2017The private spaceflight companies Boeing and SpaceX are on track to start launching NASA astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017, representatives of both firms said Monday (Jan. 26). In September 2014, SpaceX and Boeing were awarded contracts under NASA's commercial crew program to help them start flying astronauts on missions to the space station from U.S. soil in the next few years. SpaceX and Boeing are planning to launch a series of tests of their spaceships - capsules called Dragon V2 and the CST-100, respectively - from this year through 2017.

26 Jan 2015 10:28pm GMT

University of Wisconsin closes laboratory, ending cat experiments

A University of Wisconsin research laboratory that attracted controversy for using live cats in experiments is closing this year, the school said. The University of Wisconsin at Madison said its Department of Neuroscience will no longer conduct experiments related to "sound localization" because Tom Yin, the department interim chair and chief researcher, is retiring at age 70. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had criticized Yin for experiments the advocacy group said were cruel.

26 Jan 2015 9:12pm GMT

Commercial space rides for U.S. astronauts to save millions: NASA

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station successfully capture the SpaceX Dragon spacecraftBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - The U.S. space program should save more than $12 million a seat flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station on commercial space taxis rather than aboard Russian capsules, the NASA program manager said on Monday. In September, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration awarded contracts worth up to a combined $6.8 billion to Boeing and privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to fly crew to the station, a $100 billion research laboratory about 260 miles above Earth. Since retiring the space shuttles in 2011, the United States has depended on Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, to ferry astronauts to the orbital outpost. NASA expects to pay an average of $58 million a seat when its astronauts begin flying on Boeing's CST-100 and SpaceX's Dragon capsules in 2017, Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew program, told reporters during a news conference in Houston and via conference call.

26 Jan 2015 9:07pm GMT

Giant asteroid set to buzz Earth, poses no threat

Big Asteroid to Zoom by Earth on Jan. 26By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - An asteroid measuring about a third of a mile (half a kilometer) in diameter will make a relatively close, but harmless pass by Earth Monday night, NASA said. The asteroid will pass about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth, roughly three times farther away than the moon. "While it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it's a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more," astronomer Don Yeomans, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said in a statement. The asteroid, which orbits the sun every 1.84 years, was discovered 11 years ago by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research, or LINEAR, telescope in New Mexico.

26 Jan 2015 5:07am GMT

25 Jan 2015

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Venomous Cone Snails Weaponize Insulin to Stun Prey

Venomous Cone Snails Weaponize Insulin to Stun PreyAt least two species of cone snailhave turned insulin into an underwater weapon, a new study finds. When these stealthy aquatic snails approach their prey, they release insulin, a hormone that can cause blood sugar levels to plummet. The sudden influx of insulin can enter their gills and get into their bloodstream. "The snail has a very large mouth, and it kind of catches the fish within the large mouth," said the study's lead researcher, Helena Safavi, a research assistant professor of biology at the University of Utah.

25 Jan 2015 6:10pm GMT

24 Jan 2015

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Football Physics: Why Deflated Balls Are Easier to Catch

After an inspection revealed that some of the footballs used during Sunday's NFL playoff game were slightly deflated, many people are asking whether the balls gave the New England Patriots an unfair advantage over the Indianapolis Colts. Last Sunday (Jan. 18), the Patriots landed a spot at the Super Bowl after beating the Colts 45 to 7. A ball that is less inflated is easier to deform and grip, said Miguel Morales, an associate professor of physics at the University of Washington. "Ideally, the way people are taught to catch it is to put their hands around the nose of the ball," Morales told Live Science.

24 Jan 2015 1:32pm GMT

23 Jan 2015

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In a first, sea otter pup conceived in wild born in California lab

A baby sea otter has made history as the first pup born in captivity to a mother impregnated in the wild, and is healthy and developing normally, researchers in California said on Friday. The bundle of joy was born in November at the Long Marine Laboratory on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, said Nicole Thometz, a researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. To better the otter's chance of survival off the Central California shoreline, researchers are limiting their interaction with the pup, who was not named and whose sex is not known, she said.

23 Jan 2015 11:23pm GMT

The upper hand: study points to early tool use by human ancestors

Belgian animal sculptor Emmanuel Janssens Casteels works on a replica of an Australopithecus in his workshop in PrayssasScientists said on Thursday an analysis of fossil hand bones of the species Australopithecus africanus that lived in southern Africa about 3 million to 2 million years ago indicated this human forerunner could use its hands in ways very much like modern people. "Forceful precision grips have been linked specifically to stone tool use and tool making, and so it is possible that Australopithecus africanus was using stone tools as well," said Tracy Kivell of Britain's University of Kent, who helped lead the study published in the journal Science with fellow University of Kent paleoanthropologist Matthew Skinner. This species appeared roughly a half million years before the first evidence of stone tools. The traditional view of scientists is that a species called Homo habilis that appeared about 2.4 million years ago was the pioneer in stone tool use in the human lineage.

23 Jan 2015 8:53pm GMT

Art embraces science in new British play 'Oppenheimer'

Tom Morton-Smith, playwright of new play 'Oppenheimer' sits on a graphic of a 'bomb', at a rehearsal studio in London, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. The Royal Shakespeare Company is doing Tom Morton-Smith's play about the physicist Robert Oppenheimer, who led the team that developed the first nuclear weapon.. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)LONDON (AP) - Suddenly, science is sexy. With Benedict Cumberbatch nominated for multiple trophies as Alan Turing and Eddie Redmayne turning heads as Stephen Hawking, young British actors playing scientists are all the rage this awards season.

23 Jan 2015 4:32pm GMT

22 Jan 2015

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NASA's New Curiosity Rover Science Chief Takes Charge On Mars

NASA's New Curiosity Rover Science Chief Takes Charge On MarsAshwin Vasavada knows he has some pretty big shoes to fill. Vasavada is the newly appointed project scientist for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, in charge of a team of nearly 500 researchers spread around the globe. He succeeds John Grotzinger, who steered Curiosity to some big finds over the past few years - including the discovery that Mars could have supported microbial life in the ancient past.

22 Jan 2015 12:39pm GMT