30 Mar 2015
30 Mar 2015 4:20pm GMT
The idea of bringing extinct animals back to life continues to reside in the realm of science fiction. Harvard geneticist George Church and his colleagues used a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to insert mammoth genes for small ears, subcutaneous fat, and hair length and color into the DNA of elephant skin cells. Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) have been extinct for millennia, with the last of the species dying out about 3,600 years ago. But we won't be seeing woolly mammoths prancing around anytime soon, "because there is more work to do," Church told U.K.'s The Times, according to Popular Science.
30 Mar 2015 3:19pm GMT
By Alisa Tang BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The world's vegetation has expanded, adding nearly 4 billion tonnes of carbon to plants above ground in the decade since 2003, thanks to tree-planting in China, forest regrowth in former Soviet states and more lush savannas due to higher rainfall. It is present in the atmosphere primarily as carbon dioxide (CO2) - the main climate-changing gas - and stored as carbon in trees. Through photosynthesis, trees convert carbon dioxide into the food they need to grow, locking the carbon in their wood. The 4-billion-tonne increase is minuscule compared to the 60 billion tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and cement production over the same period, said Yi Liu, the study's lead author and a scientist at the University of New South Wales.
30 Mar 2015 3:02pm GMT
Geckos can hang by their toe hairs, scamper up walls and regrow their tails. Geckos are amazing creatures with a toolbox full of tricks that science is continuing to uncover. How do dirty geckos take a bath? Geckos are covered with hundreds of thousands of tiny, hairlike spines that trap pockets of air to help repel water, according to the study, published in the April issue of the Journal of The Royal Society Interface.
30 Mar 2015 2:58pm GMT
The search for alien life doesn't end within the boundaries of our solar system.Scientists are now search for moons orbiting alien planets that might play host to extraterrestrial life. A new project called the Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler (HEK) is the first systematic search for exomoons, or moons that circle planets outside our solar system.HEK astronomers, led by David Kipping at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, simulate billions of possible star-planet-moon arrangements using NASA's Pleiades Supercomputer. So far, the team has surveyed 56 of about 400 Kepler planet candidates that could have an exomoon. The Pleiades Supercomputer, which performs over 3 quadrillion calculations per second, knocks that number down to 30,000 processing hours per object and should complete the project in two years.
30 Mar 2015 10:40am GMT
30 Mar 2015 10:34am GMT
29 Mar 2015
Using a single particle of light, scientists have for the first time linked together thousands of atoms in a bizarre state known as quantum entanglement, where the behavior of the atoms would stay connected even if they were at opposite ends of the universe. The behavior of all the known particles can be explained using quantum physics. A key feature of quantum physics is that the world becomes a fuzzy, surreal place at its very smallest levels. One consequence of quantum physics is quantum entanglement, wherein multiple particles can essentially influence each other simultaneously regardless of distance.
29 Mar 2015 6:19pm GMT
28 Mar 2015
An environmental activist group has filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking new rules that would enhance job protection for government scientists whose research questions the safety of farm chemicals. The action filed on Thursday by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an advocacy group for local, state and federal researchers, came less than a week after a World Health Organization group found the active ingredient in Roundup, the world's best selling weed killer, is "probably carcinogenic to humans." Roundup is made by Monsanto Co. The petition to the USDA presses the agency to adopt policies to prevent "political suppression or alteration of studies and to lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations of scientific misconduct." According to the petition, some scientists working for the federal government are finding their research restricted or censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests.
28 Mar 2015 2:54am GMT
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, sending a U.S.-Russia crew to the International Space Station for a year-long flight, a NASA Television broadcast showed. Four Soviet-era cosmonauts lived on the now-defunct Mir space station for a year or longer, but the missions, which concluded in 1999, did not have the sophisticated medical equipment that will be used during International Space Station investigations, NASA said.
28 Mar 2015 2:47am GMT
27 Mar 2015
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fossil site in the Canadian Rockies that provides a wondrous peek into life on Earth more than half a billion years ago has offered up the remains of an intriguing sea creature, a four-eyed arthropod predator that wielded a pair of spiky claws. Scientists said on Friday they unearthed nicely preserved fossils in British Columbia of the 508 million-year-old animal, named Yawunik kootenayi, that looked like a big shrimp with a bad attitude and was one of the largest predators of its time. The fossil beds in Kootenay National Park where it was found were in a previously unexplored area of the Burgess Shale rock formation that for more than a century has yielded exceptional remains from the Cambrian Period, when many of the major animal groups first appeared. Yawunik, whose name honors a mythical sea monster in the native Ktunaxa people's creation story, was a primitive arthropod, the highly successful group that includes shrimps, lobsters, crabs, insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes.
27 Mar 2015 11:42pm GMT
By Randi Belisomo (Reuters Health) - Thanks to a generous benefactor, young mothers doing laboratory research at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston can receive major grants to keep them from falling behind while they raise their children. Since 1993, the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards at MGH have helped junior female faculty with young children keep pace with their male peers, who don't face the same challenges to research productivity that women do during their child-rearing years. Every year, five women are awarded $100,000 Claflin grants - named for benefactor Jane D. Claflin - to fund a research assistant for two years.
27 Mar 2015 4:19pm GMT
By Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume PARIS (Reuters) - French auto parts maker Valeo plans to draw on drone software and other military technologies from partner Safran to offer self-driving vehicle platforms to carmakers by the end of the decade. While demonstrating an autonomous car and other prototype systems jointly developed with Safran, the French defense and aerospace group, Valeo said on Friday the first applications may reach carmaker clients within three years. "We realized very quickly that we had much more in common than we'd expected," Valeo innovation chief Guillaume Devauchelle told Reuters. "It turns out that an autonomous vehicle is really a terrestrial drone." Cars that complete whole journeys without human input are still many years away, but creeping automation is well underway, with models already on sale that can pilot themselves through slow traffic and hit the brakes when a pedestrian steps out.
27 Mar 2015 2:55pm GMT
26 Mar 2015
By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force overstepped its bounds as it worked to certify privately held SpaceX to launch military satellites, undermining the benefit of working with a commercial provider, an independent review showed on Thursday. The report cited a "stark disconnect" between the Air Force and SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies, about the purpose of the certification process and recommended changes. Air Force Secretary Deborah James ordered the review after the service missed a December deadline for certifying SpaceX to compete for some launches now carried out solely by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. The Pentagon is eager to certify SpaceX as a second launch provider, given mounting concerns in Congress about ULA's use of a Russian-built engine to power its Atlas 5 rocket.
26 Mar 2015 8:02pm GMT
A World Health Organization group's controversial finding that the world's most popular herbicide "probably is carcinogenic to humans" was based on a thorough scientific review and is a key marker in ongoing evaluations of the product, the scientist who led the study said Thursday. There was sufficient evidence in animals, limited evidence in humans and strong supporting evidence showing DNA mutations ... and damaged chromosomes," Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute, said in an interview. Blair chaired the 17-member working group of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which rocked the agricultural industry on March 20 by classifying glyphosate as "probably" cancer-causing. Monsanto Co , which has built a $15 billion company on sales of glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and crops genetically engineered to tolerate being sprayed with Roundup, has demanded a retraction and explanation from WHO.
26 Mar 2015 6:11pm GMT
By Francesco Guarascio BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is set to send two navigation satellites into orbit on Friday aboard a Russian rocket, in its first launch since a botched deployment in August that cost several million euros to fix. The Galileo project to set up an EU alternative to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) is obliged to use the Russian Soyuz system until a development of Arianespace's European Ariane 5 rocket is ready around the end of the year, despite strained relations with Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine. An official at the European Commission, which oversees the program, said the EU executive was tendering for insurance cover for future satellites and had set up an insurance scheme for the launches. The two launched in August have since been nudged into viable orbits and are fit for use, a spokesman for the European Space Agency said.
26 Mar 2015 6:08pm GMT
25 Mar 2015
The remains of Richard III may be locked away in a coffin to be reburied this week, but the 15th-century king's genome is still offering scientists a chance to unravel royal mysteries. "Having worked in the world of genetic genealogy for years, this is not at all surprising to me," said Turi King, a geneticist at the University of Leicester. In the general population, false paternities occur in about 1 percent to 2 percent of births, King said. They found a match between Richard's mitochondrial DNA (which is passed down only through the mother) and the mitochondrial DNA from two living female-line descendants of Richard's sister Anne of York: Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig.
25 Mar 2015 10:46pm GMT