30 Sep 2014

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Neil Armstrong Biopics Take Small Steps Toward TV and Big Screen

Neil Armstrong Biopics Take Small Steps Toward TV and Big ScreenThe life story of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, has taken not one, but two small steps towards landing on both the big and small screens. A newly-acclaimed director and a television network have each reportedly turned their attention to Neil Armstrong, the late Apollo 11 moonwalker, as the inspiration for a feature-length film and TV miniseries, respectively. Damien Chazelle, who directed the upcoming jazz drama "Whiplash," is in talks to direct "First Man," a biopic about Armstrong for Universal Studios. Meanwhile, the TV network TNT has dusted off its plans for "One Giant Leap," an almost 10-year-old project to adapt Armstrong's life as a four-hour miniseries.

30 Sep 2014 5:32pm GMT

Weird 'Island' on Saturn Moon Titan Puzzles Scientists (Video, Photos)

Weird 'Island' on Saturn Moon Titan Puzzles Scientists (Video, Photos)Saturn's huge moon Titan just got a little more mysterious. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has spotted an odd islandlike feature in Ligeia Mare, one of Titan's largest hydrocarbon seas. "Science loves a mystery, and with this enigmatic feature, we have a thrilling example of ongoing change on Titan," Cassini radar team deputy leader Stephen Wall, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. Cassini team members are confident it's real rather than an artifact or data flaw, NASA officials said.

30 Sep 2014 5:32pm GMT

Climate Change Influenced Extreme Heat in 2013, Report Finds

Climate Change Influenced Extreme Heat in 2013, Report FindsTwenty-two separate research teams analyzed 16 of last year's extreme weather events, including the California drought and devastating flooding in Colorado, to determine whether climate change - primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels - made any of the events more likely or severe. Scientists found clear fingerprints of climate change on all five of the heat waves analyzed in the report, which was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Three separate research teams looked at the 2013 California drought, for example, but they didn't find conclusive evidence for the influence of human-caused climate change. Climate change made it more likely for a "ridge" of high pressure to linger over the western United States, keeping storms and rain away from California in 2013, one paper found.

30 Sep 2014 5:17pm GMT

Tiny Sea Monkeys Create Giant Ocean Currents

Tiny Sea Monkeys Create Giant Ocean CurrentsEvery evening, sunset signals the start of dinner for billions of wiggling sea monkeys living in the ocean. As these sea monkeys - which are not actually monkeys but a type of shrimp - swarm to the surface in one large, culminating force, they may contribute as much power to ocean currents as the wind and tides do, a new study reports. Even though they're small, sea monkeys - given the playful name because their tail resembles a monkey's tail, but also known as brine shrimp (Artemia salina) - may contribute about a trillion watts, or a terawatt, of power to the surrounding ocean, churning the seas with the same power as the tides, the researchers said. Devotees can watch a group of brine shrimp hatch, grow and mate within weeks.

30 Sep 2014 3:53pm GMT

How Often Does Enterovirus D68 Cause Paralysis?

Several children in Denver have developed limb weakness or paralysis after contracting respiratory illness, and four of the children have tested positive for enterovirus D68, the virus that has now sickened more than 400 people in 40 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is not yet completely clear whether enterovirus D68 caused these children's neurological symptoms. Health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday (Sept. 26) that they are investigating the matter and searching for similar cases in other states that may have gone unreported. "It's at the top of our list, but those investigations are still continuing, and I think we have not yet determined conclusively that D68 is the cause," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.[7 Devastating Infectious Diseases]

30 Sep 2014 2:51pm GMT

China launches media campaign to back genetically modified crops

By Dominique Patton BEIJING (Reuters) - China's government has kicked off a media campaign in support of genetically modified crops, as it battles a wave of negative publicity over a technology it hopes will play a major role in boosting its food security. The agriculture ministry earlier this week announced it would try to educate the public on GMO via TV, newspapers and the Internet. It hopes to stifle anti-GMO sentiment that has gathered momentum in the wake of incidents such as reports that genetically-modified rice had been illegally sold at a supermarket in the center of the country. ...

30 Sep 2014 11:19am GMT

Higgs Boson to the World Wide Web: 7 Big Discoveries Made at CERN

Higgs Boson to the World Wide Web: 7 Big Discoveries Made at CERNThe world's biggest atom smasher, where monumental discoveries such as the detection of the once-elusive Higgs boson particle and the creation of antimatter have occurred, is celebrating its 60th anniversary today (Sept. 29). The physics world erupted in excitement in July 2012, when scientists using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN announced they had detected a particle that looked to be the so-called Higgs boson. In the 1960s, British physicist Peter Higgs hypothesized the existence of a field through which all particles would be dragged - like marbles moving through molasses - giving the particles mass. This particle became known as the Higgs boson.

30 Sep 2014 5:32am GMT

Stanford scientists say greenhouse gases worsen California drought

The remains of an automobile is pictured on the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir near San Jose, CaliforniaBy Joaquin Palomino SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's catastrophic drought has most likely been made worse by man-made climate change, according to a report released Monday by Stanford University, but scientists are still hesitant to fully blame the lack of rain on climate change. The research, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society as part of a collection of reports on extreme weather events in 2013, is one of the most comprehensive studies linking climate change and California's ongoing drought, which has caused billions of dollars in economic damage. ...

30 Sep 2014 12:47am GMT

Protest over contract award to delay work on NASA space taxi

NASA handout shows the Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser flight vehicle being readied for 60 mph tow tests at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in EdwardsBy Irene Klotz TORONTO (Reuters) - Work on a pair of U.S. commercial spaceships to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station will be delayed after a losing contender protested the NASA awards, agency Administrator Charles Bolden said on Monday. The U.S. space agency awarded contracts worth up to $6.8 billion to Boeing and privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to finish designs, build, test and ultimately fly crews to the station, a $100 billion research laboratory that orbits about 260 miles (418 km) above Earth. The awards, announced on Sept. ...

30 Sep 2014 12:11am GMT

29 Sep 2014

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Global wildlife populations down by half since 1970: WWF

By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell overall by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday. The conservation group's Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humankind's demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover. ...

29 Sep 2014 10:33pm GMT

NASA Exoplanet Mission to Hunt Down Earth-sized Worlds

Set to launch in 2017, NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will monitor more than half a million stars over its two-year mission, with a focus on the smallest, brightest stellar objects. "Bright host stars are the best ones for follow-up studies of their exoplanets to pin down planet masses, and to characterize planet atmospheres," said TESS principal investigator George Ricker, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics, in an email. "TESS should be able to find over 200 Earths and super-Earths - defined as being twice the size of Earth," said Peter Sullivan, a physics doctoral student at MIT. Sullivan, who works with Ricker on TESS, led an analysis of the number of planets TESS would likely find based on the number and types of planets found by NASA's Kepler mission.

29 Sep 2014 8:25pm GMT

Blind Cavefish Froze Its Internal Clock to Save Energy

Blind Cavefish Froze Its Internal Clock to Save EnergyThe blind Mexican tetra or cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) saves energy by forgoing circadian rhythms, according to researchers at Lund University in Sweden. Sometimes referred to as an internal clock, circadian rhythms help many organisms - including animals, plants, fungi and even certain bacteria - coordinate their behavior and physiology with the day-night cycle, according to study researcher Damian Moran, a postdoctoral student in the Lund University department of biology. Circadian rhythm helps ensure these reactions occur in advance of when an organism will most need energy, Moran told Live Science. But unlike most organisms, blind Mexican cavefish don't control their metabolism with a circadian clock, the researchers found.

29 Sep 2014 6:22pm GMT

USC memory scientist Richard Thompson dies at 84

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Richard F. Thompson, the University of Southern California neuroscientist whose experiments with rabbits led to breakthrough discoveries on how memories are physically stored in the brain, has died. He was 84.

29 Sep 2014 5:47pm GMT

'Space Bubbles' May Have Doomed Key Afghan War Mission

'Space Bubbles' May Have Doomed Key Afghan War MissionA Chinook helicopter carrying U.S. Michael Kelly, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL), in Laurel, Maryland, started to put the pieces together after reading a journalist's account of the Battle of Takur Ghar. Since the plasma in this part of the atmosphere is less dense, it rises and burrows into the denser plasma above. This causes giant bubbles of charged particles to form, similar to the way air bubbles rise from a submerged diver.

29 Sep 2014 12:30pm GMT

28 Sep 2014

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Scientists grapple with ethics in rush to release Ebola vaccines

Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute, and Chief Investigator of the trials, holds a phial containing the Ebola vaccine at the Oxford Vaccine Group Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine (CCVTM) in OxfordLONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Normally it takes years to prove a new vaccine is both safe and effective before it can be used in the field. But with hundreds of people dying a day in the worst ever outbreak of Ebola, there is no time to wait. In an effort to save lives, health authorities are determined to roll out potential vaccines within months, dispensing with some of the usual testing, and raising unprecedented ethical and practical questions. "Nobody knows yet how we will do it. ...

28 Sep 2014 1:58pm GMT

27 Sep 2014

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Sierra Nevada challenges NASA 'space taxi' contracts to Boeing, SpaceX

An interior view of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft is seen in an undated NASA handout imageWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) said it had filed a legal challenge to NASA's award of contracts totaling $6.8 billion to Boeing and SpaceX to build commercially owned and operated "space taxis" to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA had considered a bid by privately owned Sierra Nevada, but U.S. officials said on Tuesday the U.S. space agency had opted to award long-time aerospace contractor Boeing and SpaceX with contracts to develop, certify and fly their seven-person capsules. ...

27 Sep 2014 3:26pm GMT