23 May 2015

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See Jupiter and the Moon in Night Sky Spectacle Tonight

See Jupiter and the Moon in Night Sky Spectacle TonightThere, about half way up from the south-southwest horizon to the overhead point, you'll see an eye-catching sight for the Memorial Day weekend: Jupiter and the moon in a celestial display. Tonight, a rather wide crescent moon, 34-percent illuminated will be visible against the darkening sky and hovering about 3 degrees almost directly above this lunar sliver will be a brilliant silvery white "star." But this isn't a star, but the planet identified with the supreme sky-god, Jupiter. To judge how far apart Jupiter and the moon will appear in the sky, remember that your clenched fist, correctly held, will measure 10 degrees of the night sky.


23 May 2015 1:06pm GMT

Squid 'Sees' with Its Skin (No Eyes Needed)

Squid, cuttlefish and octopuses are masters of camouflage, capable of changing their skin colors and patterns in the blink of an eye. Two new studies, published this week in the Journal of Experimental Biology, find that cephalopod skin is chock-full of light-sensing cells typically found in eyes that help them "see." The cells likely send signals to alter skin coloration without involving the central nervous system, the researchers said. "It may be that the patterning is just generated directly on the spot, just by the cells," said Tom Cronin, a biologist at the University of Maryland and an author of one of the studies.

23 May 2015 12:24pm GMT

Record-Breaking Energy Unleashed in Largest Atom Smasher

Record-Breaking Energy Unleashed in Largest Atom SmasherThe world's largest atom smasher is really cranking now: Protons zipped around the giant underground ring at near light-speed and collided head on, releasing record-breaking energies. The beauty of the fallout from these powerful particle smash-ups can be seen in images released yesterday (May 21) by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which oversees the 17-mile-long (27 kilometers) Large Hadron Collider (LHC). This week during a test run, the protons sped into each other with energies of 13 tera-electronvolts (TeV), or double the collider's previous power.


23 May 2015 12:02pm GMT

22 May 2015

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What Are Those Bright Spots on Ceres? Go Vote!

What Are Those Bright Spots on Ceres? Go Vote!The puzzling white spots on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres are definitely reflecting sunlight, scientists said, but the cause of the marks remains a mystery. The newest batch of images from the Dawn spacecraft, which began orbiting Ceres on March 6, was released May 15. With the release of these new images, NASA has asked the public to submit a guess for what is creating the spots: volcanos, geysers, rocks, ice, salt deposits, or "other." As of this writing, 37 percent of people who took NASA's poll for what the white spots might be said "other." Alien colonies, perhaps?


22 May 2015 6:33pm GMT

Dino-Chicken Gets One Step Closer

Dino-Chicken Gets One Step CloserTalk of a "chickenosaurus" lit up the science world last week when researchers announced they had modified the beak of a chicken embryo to resemble the snout of its dinosaur ancestors. "From a quantitative point of view, we're 50 percent there," said Jack Horner, a professor of paleontology at Montana State University and a curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies. By understanding how and when to modify certain molecular mechanisms, countless changes could be within reach.


22 May 2015 4:22pm GMT

Prosecutors: Professor offered China data on US-made device

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The chairman of Temple University's physics department schemed to provide U.S. technology secrets to China in exchange for prestigious appointments for himself, federal authorities said in charging him with four counts of wire fraud.

22 May 2015 4:16pm GMT

SpaceX capsule splashes down in Pacific with space station cargo

The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm at the International Space Station in this NASA handout photoBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A Space Exploration Technologies Dragon cargo capsule made a parachute splashdown into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, wrapping up a five-week stay at the International Space Station. The capsule blasted off on April 14 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and arrived at the orbiting outpost three days later with more than 4,300 pounds (1,950 kg) of food, supplies and science experiments for the live-aboard crew. It was repacked with 3,100 pounds of science samples and other equipment and released back into orbit at 7:04 a.m. EDT (1104 GMT) on Thursday for a return trip to Earth, a NASA TV broadcast showed.


22 May 2015 3:15pm GMT

Feds: Temple professor offered China data on US-made device

The chairman of Temple University's physics department was arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to provide U.S. technology secrets to China in exchange for prestigious appointments. Xi Xiaoxing, ...

22 May 2015 2:23pm GMT

21 May 2015

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Lockheed-Boeing rocket venture needs commercial orders to survive

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Launch Alliance, a 50-50 joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, on Thursday said it would go out of business unless it won commercial and civil satellite launch orders to offset an expected slump in U.S. military and spy launches. ULA President Tory Bruno said the company must attract those kind of orders to remain a "viable economic entity" so it is scrambling to restructure and develop a new rocket that in seven or eight years could launch satellites twice as fast at half the current cost. Formed by the two largest U.S. weapons makers in 2006, ULA has long been the sole company able to launch U.S. military and intelligence satellites into orbit.

21 May 2015 8:54pm GMT

Scientists want you to know plankton is not just whale food

Handout of scientists aboard the Tara Oceans vessel use plankton nets to strain microbes from seawaterBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists on Thursday unveiled the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of the world's ocean plankton, the tiny organisms that serve as food for marine creatures such as the blue whale, but also provide half the oxygen we breathe. Plankton include microscopic plants and animals, fish larvae, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that drift in the oceans. "Plankton are much more than just food for the whales," said Chris Bowler, a research director at France's National Center for Scientific Research, and one of the scientists involved in the study published in the journal Science.


21 May 2015 7:05pm GMT

Mind-controlled prosthetic limbs allow precise, smooth movement

Patient Erik Sorto takes a drink in this handout photoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than a decade after becoming paralyzed from the neck down, Erik Sorto has been unable to perform even the simplest of daily tasks. "That was the ultimate goal: to drink a beer by myself," said Sorto, a 34-year-old from Los Angeles who became a quadriplegic after a 2002 gunshot wound. Things may be looking up for Sorto and others with similar disabilities.


21 May 2015 6:58pm GMT

Ancient Wolf DNA Could Solve Dog Origin Mystery

Ancient Wolf DNA Could Solve Dog Origin MysteryGenetic evidence from an ancient wolf bone discovered lying on the tundra in Siberia's Taimyr Peninsula reveals that wolves and dogs split from their common ancestor at least 27,000 years ago. "Although separation isn't the same as domestication, this opens up the possibility that domestication occurred much earlier than we thought before," said lead study author Pontus Skoglund, who studies ancient DNA at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute in Massachusetts. "Siberian huskies have a portion of their genome that traces back exclusively to this ancient Siberian wolf," Skoglund told Live Science.


21 May 2015 6:11pm GMT

Bowwow wow! Dog domestication much older than previously known

The lower jawbone of the Taimyr Wolf that lived approximately 27,000 to 40,000 years agoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Genetic information from a 35,000-year-old wolf bone found below a frozen cliff in Siberia is shedding new light on humankind's long relationship with dogs, showing canine domestication may have occurred earlier than previously thought. Scientists said on Thursday they pieced together the genome of the wolf that lived on Russia's Taimyr Peninsula and found that it belonged to a population that likely represented the most recent common ancestor between dogs and wolves. Using this genetic information, they estimated that dog domestication occurred between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago.


21 May 2015 4:09pm GMT

Bowwow wow! Dog domestication much older than previously known

The lower jawbone of the Taimyr Wolf that lived approximately 27,000 to 40,000 years agoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Genetic information from a 35,000-year-old wolf bone found below a frozen cliff in Siberia is shedding new light on humankind's long relationship with dogs, showing canine domestication may have occurred earlier than previously thought. Scientists said on Thursday they pieced together the genome of the wolf that lived on Russia's Taimyr Peninsula and found that it belonged to a population that likely represented the most recent common ancestor between dogs and wolves. Using this genetic information, they estimated that dog domestication occurred between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago.


21 May 2015 4:09pm GMT

20 May 2015

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Scientists reveal Washington state's first dinosaur

SEATTLE (AP) - Scientists say they've discovered Washington state's first dinosaur fossil, an announcement that marks a unique find for the state and a rare moment for North America's Pacific coast.

20 May 2015 9:07pm GMT

Professor seeks retraction of Science article he co-authored

NEW YORK (AP) - Citing irregularities on the part of his colleague, a prominent Columbia University professor has asked Science magazine to retract a study he co-authored last year about the ability of openly gay canvassers to shift voters' views toward support for same-sex marriage.

20 May 2015 7:08pm GMT