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Science and Technology News, Science Articles | Discover Magazine

Science news, articles, current events and future views on technology, space, environment, health, and medicine.

From Popular Anesthetic to Antidepressant, Ketamine Isn't the Drug You Think It Is  

An hour before we spoke, Darragh O'Carroll, an emergency room physician from Hawaii, had just given an elderly patient a sedating shot of ketamine. The man had pneumonia and was acting confused and fidgety, making him hard to treat. "Not only it was a pain control for him when I was putting needles into his neck, but it also kept him still," O'Carroll says. "And with very minimal risk of lowering his blood pressure." Ketamine's use as an anesthetic — and not as a party...

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2019-03-22 20:31:48

DARPA's Newest Drone Submarine Detection Device: Snapping Shrimp  

Stick your head underwater near a reef and you may hear the sound of bacon frying. The tempting sound comes from the near-comically oversized claws of snapping shrimp — they slam shut fast enough to create bubbles of air that disappear with a loud pop. The crackling of countless shrimp clacking together is mixed with fish grunts, whale and dolphin calls and other sounds underwater to create what's called the oceanic soundscape. It's the kind of biological white noise you might fall asleep...

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2019-03-22 16:27:04

NASA is Sending a Helicopter to Mars  

When the Mars 2020 rover lands on the Red Planet in early 2021, it will carry with it a small helicopter, the first human craft to fly on another planet. Until now, Mars has hosted orbiters, landers, and rovers, but no flying machines. The Mars helicopter is meant only as a technology demonstration. If it doesn't work, the Mars 2020 mission will still succeed. If it does, it will have opened up entirely new avenues for exploring other worlds. Into the Wild Red Yonder While helicopters ar...

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2019-03-22 10:48:44

FDA Approves Ketamine Derivative as Depression Treatment for First Time  

Treatment-resistant depression affects 1 in 3 of the estimated 16.2 million adults in the U.S. who have suffered at least one major depressive episode. For them, two or more therapies have failed and the risk of suicide is much greater. It's a grim prognosis. There are few therapies for depression that resists treatment, which is why the FDA granted this new drug application Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy status. On March 5, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment...

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2019-03-22 01:06:24

This Woman Can Smell Parkinson's. It Might Help Lead To Earlier Treatment  

Parkinson's disease stinks. Figuratively. But according to new research, it literally stinks too — to those who have a heightened sense of smell. Thanks to the help of one of these "super-smellers," a team of scientists has identified subtle volatile compounds produced by Parkinson's sufferers. These compounds could be used to make much easier, and earlier, diagnostics for the disease. According to the CDC, Parkinson's is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after ...

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2019-03-21 21:40:29

Boeing's Starliner Test Flight Delayed by Three Months, Sources Say  

The schedule for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft has slipped again, and the company will no longer launch an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station in April, Reuters has reported. The flight is being pushed back to August. Starliner is Boeing's entry for NASA's Commercial Crew Program to ferry both cargo and people to the ISS and back. The company's spaceship is a competitor with SpaceX's Crew Dragon, which successfully docked with the ISS earlier this month - a...

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2019-03-21 17:29:02

Frozen Testes Restore Fertility In Monkeys, Offering Hope To Childhood Cancer Survivors  

Childhood cancers rob kids of their youth. The treatment often saves lives but steals their opportunity to have kids of their own. About 30 percent of childhood cancer survivors become permanently infertile thanks to chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Now researchers show they can restore fertility to sterile male monkeys that received chemotherapy as youngsters by cryopreserving immature testicular tissue. A young female monkey conceived from the preserved tissue is proof the approac...

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2019-03-21 15:46:49

Space Station Astronauts Prep for Two Spacewalks in One Week  

On March 22, two astronauts will take the first spacewalk of Expedition 59 in order to upgrade aging batteries on the International Space Station. The astronauts will be Nick Hague and Anne McClain, and it will be the first spacewalk for both of them. Next week, on March 29, McClain will venture into space again, joined by Christina Koch. This will mark the first all-female spacewalk, a historic event. Koch and Hague joined the space station just last week. For Hague, this was a delay

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2019-03-21 15:18:26

People Follow a Universal Pattern When Switching Between Cell Phone Apps  

One of the best parts of traveling is getting to see how, despite differences in culture and geography, we're all fundamentally alike. "People are the same everywhere," Morrissey tells us — we laugh, we cry, we find cute things cute. And, it now seems, we also juggle the apps on our smartphones the same way. That's the finding of an international team of computer scientists and neuroscientists, published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Despite differences in ...

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2019-03-21 09:39:15

Researchers Say They May Have Found the Cause of SIDS and Other Sudden Death Syndromes  

Every parent's worst fear is not being able to keep their child safe. And a mysterious condition known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is enough to keep any new parent awake at night. What's so troubling about SIDS is that no one really understands why a seemingly healthy baby goes to sleep and never wakes up. But a new review paper suggests that SIDS and other forms of sudden death syndromes — which impact people of all ages and seem to strike without warning or cause — ma...

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2019-03-21 09:29:14

It's Not Just Humans: Sun Bears Also Communicate by Mimicking Facial Expressions  

"A smile is infectious," so goes the cheesy saying. But there's actually some validity there. It's long been known that people, often unintentionally, mimic the facial expressions of those around them. This communication technique was thought to only exist in humans and gorillas, but new research is challenging that idea. A recent study in sun bears, which are the smallest (and possibly cutest) species of bear in the world, shows that they, too, mimic the expressions of their peer...

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2019-03-21 04:29:41

Scientists Find That Anesthetics Can Weaken Traumatic Memories  

Some memories can leave us scarred for life. For example, the memory of a dog attack may leave even the most canine-loving person terrified of every pooch they come across. Fortunately, traumatic memories may not be permanent. In a new study, researchers have discovered that a general anesthetic can weaken emotionally disturbing memories. The find means a routine anesthetic could potentially treat psychiatric disorders such as phobias and anxiety. "This is proof of principle," said...

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2019-03-20 18:01:31

This 'Cannonball' Pulsar is Racing at Escape Speed Across the Milky Way  

Astronomers discovered a pulsar, a kind of zombie star, racing across the galaxy so quickly that it could get from the Earth to the moon in six minutes flat. The dead star has a tail pointing back toward the remnant of a supernova that exploded 10,000 years ago. Astronomers suspected this might have provided the kick that sent the pulsar speeding off, but had to wait for 10 years of telescope data to make their case convincing. A pulsar is the rapidly spinning neutron star left over a...

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2019-03-20 16:28:03

An Important Group of European Hunter-Gatherers Taught Themselves To Farm  

Some 12,000 years ago, the land was exceptionally fertile curving up from the Nile River basin across Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, down into the Tigris River Valley. The area's earliest settlers grew wheat, barely and lentils. Some kept pigs and sheep. Farming soon replaced hunting and foraging as a way of life there. The region became known as the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of agriculture. This pastoral lifestyle eventually spread across Europe from a place called Anatolia, which sit...

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2019-03-20 14:32:48

How Did Dinosaurs Hear The World? Alligators Give Us Clues  

How did dinosaurs hear? Researchers now have an idea thanks to alligators. In a new study, researchers have discovered that American alligators process sounds the same way that barn owls and chickens do. And because birds and reptiles last shared a common ancestor nearly 250 million years ago, the finding means the shared hearing strategy originated before dinosaurs existed. "We know so little about dinosaurs," Catherine Carr, a biologist at the University of Maryland in College Park, who

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2019-03-20 09:39:19

Israeli Moon Lander to Touch Down Near Apollo Landing Sites Next Month  

Beresheet, the first privately launched moon lander, has a site selected -- and it's in a fairly familiar locale. Scientists at Israeli spaceflight company SpaceIL, working with Jim Head of Brown University -- who also worked on the Apollo missions -- chose Mare Serenitatis as the landing spot for their historic moon landing. It's free of large rocks and craters, obstacles that can prove hazardous or even fatal to landers, something that also appealed to a very different set of moon mi...

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2019-03-20 09:14:16

Independent Discussion Sections?  

Scientific papers should have two Discussion sections - one written by the authors, and the other by an independent researcher. According to a new paper from Michael S. Avidan, John P. A. Ioannidis and George A. Mashour, this "second discussant" system could help ensure more balanced and objective inference in science. The authors begin by noting that while the reproducibility crisis has focussed attention on the Methods and Results sections of papers, Discussion sections are not free

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2019-03-20 08:16:30

NASA's First Mars Rover Actually Explored An Ancient Sea  

Mars may be a dry, cold planet today, but it was once a warmer, wetter one. NASA's Opportunity rover was the first rover to find solid evidence of water on Mars — but years before Opportunity's discoveries, NASA's first Martian rover mission spent its time exploring an ancient spillway that once connected Mars' northern ocean to an inland sea. Mars Pathfinder landed 22 years ago, on July 4, 1997. The mission's 23-pound (10.6 kilograms) rover, Sojourner, was the first rover to ...

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2019-03-19 20:15:24

OSIRIS-REx Caught its Asteroid Ejecting Strange, High-Speed Bursts of Particles  

Right now, there are two missions exploring asteroids in our solar system. NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission is revealing surprises at its asteroid home called Bennu. It arrived there not long after Japan's similar Hayabusa2 sample-return mission reached asteroid Ryugu. So far, NASA's mission is finding similarities with Ryugu, as well as big differences, scientists announced on Tuesday. Both asteroids are more rugged and rocky than anticipated. But Bennu also revealed surprising flurrie...

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2019-03-19 19:47:20

Ancient Human Ancestors May Have Grown Big Brains Scavenging Bone Marrow  

(Inside Science) -- In the late 1970s, anthropologists popularized the now familiar scenario that our very early ancestors were scavengers rather than hunters. These ancestors, the australopithecines, lived on the African savanna between 2 million and 4 million years ago. Most researchers think that instead of actively hunting large game, the australopithecines likely consumed whatever edible portions were left on the carcasses of large animals killed by carnivores such as wild dogs, hyenas, l

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2019-03-19 19:47:17

Satellite imagery reveals the stunning scope of historic flooding inundating the Midwest  

Flooding characterized by the National Weather Service as "major to historic and catastrophic" is continuing across parts of the central plains and Upper Midwest. The flooding has come in the wake of last week's "bomb cyclone," which dumped heavy rain atop snowpack with high water content. The resulting runoff has triggered record-setting flooding throughout the Missouri and Mississippi river basins. As I'm writing this on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 19, more than 8 million p...

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2019-03-19 19:14:30

Hayabusa2 Results Hint Asteroid Ryugu Was Broken Off Larger Space Rock  

The Japanese Space Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 spacecraft swooped down and collected a first sample from the asteroid Ryugu on February 22. And now JAXA is ready to make an even more dramatic sample collection in April when it uses explosives to shoot an impactor at the space rock to create an artificial crater. Hayabusa2 won't leave Ryugu until the end of 2019, and it's expected to make it home to Earth with the samples at the end of 2020. In the meantime, scientists are learning...

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2019-03-19 06:25:14

SNAPSHOT: Hip Hop Makes Cheese Taste Better, Finds a Strange Swiss Experiment  

"Cheese in Surround Sound" is the name of a fun culinary arts experiment that wrapped up last week in Switzerland. Wheels of cheese have been bathing in sound as they ripen over the past seven months to answer a strange question: "Do sound waves affect the metabolic processes in ripening cheese to the extent that a sono-chemical impact on taste and flavor can be detected." The answer so far seems to be ... probably. The cheese wheels were continuously exposed to low, me...

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2019-03-19 06:09:53

A Quasar-Powered Storm Pours From the Teacup Galaxy  

Your nighttime cup of chamomile might help you go to sleep, but this turbulent teacup is far from soothing. Sitting inside a galaxy known as the "Teacup," nicknamed after its distinct silhouette, lies a storm that's causing quite the stir. Powered by a supermassive black hole, astronomers thought the commotion inside this distant galaxy was rapidly dying down, but recent data published in the Astrophysical Journal says otherwise. The uproar is happening within the bright mass at ...

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2019-03-19 02:24:49

First Confirmed Piece of a Denisovan Skull Discovered  

A chunk of a Denisovan skull has been identified for the first time — a dramatic contribution to the handful of known samples from one of the most obscure branches of the hominin family tree. Paleoanthropologist Bence Viola from the University of Toronto will discuss the as-yet-unpublished discovery at the upcoming meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Cleveland, Ohio, at the end of March. Very little is known about the Denisovans, an extinct branch of homin...

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2019-03-19 01:28:16

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket May Launch Its First Commercial Flight Soon  

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket may fly again as soon as April 7, if the reporting of CNBC proves accurate. The news outlet cites anonymous sources in its story, and SpaceX so far hasn't confirmed the launch. The rocket's first and last flight was in February 2018, when it successfully launched Elon Musk's Tesla roadster into space. Falcon Heavy's next mission would fly a communications satellite into space for Arabsat, a Saudi Arabian company. It would launch from SpaceX's usual si...

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2019-03-18 18:34:21

Turkish Meteorite Turns Out to be a Free Sample from Asteroid Vesta  

Twenty-two million years ago, something crashed into the asteroid Vesta, carving out a large crater and throwing the debris high into space. In 2015, a three-foot meteor streaked through the sky above Turkey before fragmenting into pieces and falling near a village called Sariçiçek. Scientists who studied a whopping 343 pieces of the recovered meteorite now think it originated in that long-ago collision on Vesta. Connecting the Pieces Vesta is the second-largest object in the asteroid be...

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2019-03-18 08:49:57

What Are Tholins? The Mysterious Substance That Turned Ultima Thule Red  

On New Year's Day, NASA's New Horizons probe streaked by a tiny world dubbed MU69, or Ultima Thule, the farthest object humankind has studied up close. With most of the data still on the spacecraft waiting to be transmitted, scientists are still getting to know this distant body. We know that it's composed of two chunks of rock loosely stuck together. We know that it doesn't have moons or rings that New Horizons might have careened into on its close pass. And we know Ultima Thule is r...

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2019-03-18 07:40:27

Humans Can Sense Earth's Magnetic Field, Brain Imaging Study Says  

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world. Scientists have tried to investigate whether humans belong on the list of magnetically sensitive organisms. For decades, there's been a back-and-forth between positive reports and failures to demonstrate the trait in people, with seemingly endless controversy. The mixed results in people may be due to the fact that vi...

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2019-03-18 05:49:24

CBD Is In Jelly Beans, Pet Food and Shampoo. But Many Benefits Are Untested  

CBD, or cannabidiol, has exploded onto the market in recent years. Sometime in the past decade, this purportedly medicinal marijuana extract went from being an obscure stoner oil to the wellness product du jour, flooding from holistic markets to the mainstream. Analysts at the investment bank Cowen Inc. predict the industry will balloon to $16 billion by 2025. In comparison, CBD sales totaled less than $1 billion last year, though that's no small feat for a field that didn't exist a fe...

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2019-03-18 02:15:02

Are Atheists Genetically Damaged?  

I just came across a paper with an interesting title: The Mutant Says in His Heart, "There Is No God". The conclusions of this work are even more interesting. According to the authors, Edward Dutton et al., humans evolved to be religious and atheism is caused (in part) by mutational damage to our normal, religious DNA. Atheists, in other words, are genetic degenerates. Despite the talk of mutations, there is no genetics in this paper. No atheist genomes were sequenced and found...

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2019-03-16 16:20:23

With the Mars InSight Lander Stuck, NASA Tries to Hack a Fix With Earthly Clones  

Last month, NASA's Mars InSight lander started digging into the Red Planet. Its HP3 (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package) instrument was designed to burrow and measure Mars from underground, uncovering new geological evidence about how heat flows through the Martian soil. The part of this instrument that actually burrows into the ground is known as the mole. It was meant to penetrate up to 16 feet deep. But it stopped just hours after it starting digging. The mole only made it ab...

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2019-03-16 05:49:27

NASA Just Released One Final Panorama From the Mars Opportunity Rover  

Last June, space exploration enthusiasts from across the world collectively held their breath as a global dust storm enveloped Mars. They did so not because our view of the Red Planet's surface was obscured, but instead because a go-kart-sized rover named Opportunity, which had been roaming the Red Planet for nearly 15 years, fell silent as the storm intensified. After eight months of fruitless attempts to resurrect "Oppy," which was only slated for a mission lasting 90 days, on February 13,

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2019-03-16 05:09:57

Meet Chesley Bonestell, The Most Important Space Artist You've Probably Never Heard Of  

Over the last half century, spacecraft have visited every planet and their major moons, as well as two dwarf planets and more than a dozen asteroids and comets. Thanks to high-res images, we know these worlds intimately and can appreciate what makes each of them unique. These days, fewer than 3 in 10 Americans are old enough to recall a time when our neighboring worlds were indistinct dots in even the most powerful telescopes. And yet, even before there were spacecraft to show us, in the

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2019-03-16 04:37:42

Major Ice Ages May Be Caused By Tectonic Collisions  

At geological time scales, what really controls the climate isn't the atmosphere, it's the ground. Most of Earth's carbon dioxide is held underground, in reservoirs of natural gas and oil, but also in the rocks themselves. As the planet's tectonic plates slide and churn against one another, they bury carbon deep beneath the surface while exposing fresh rock that will soak up more carbon over time. That carbon can be liberated in large volcanic events, causing mass extinctions. But the pro

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2019-03-16 04:23:31

When Did Humans Start to Get Old?  

Age 116, Kane Tanaka of Japan was recently crowned the oldest person on Earth. She's six years shy of the longest human life on record: 122 years and 164 days reached by a French woman, Jeanne Louise Calment, before her death in 1997. While turning 100 can get you a shout out on the Today show, there's nothing newsworthy about surviving into your 70s. That's just expected based on life expectancy. In the United States, on average, newborn males live to 76 years and females to 81, a...

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2019-03-16 04:09:46

Ancient Remains Shed Light On The Iberian Peninsula's Complicated History  

The Iberian Peninsula of modern day Spain and Portugal has long held one of human history's lingering mysteries. Now, two new studies covering nearly 20,000 years have outlined the region's transformative genetic influence. "It shows how tremendously powerful such transect through time studies are," said Wolfgang Haak, an anthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, who led one of the two works. "Both studies should rather be ...

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2019-03-16 03:48:22

Antarctica's Aging McMurdo Station is Getting a Major Overhaul  

After more than 60 years, McMurdo Station, Antarctica's main research center, is set to begin its first major infrastructure update. In February, the National Science Foundation got the green light to start construction on the so-called Antarctica Infrastructure Modernization for Science, or AIMS, project. As first reported by Antarctic Sun, the continent's NSF-funded newspaper, the project will consolidate the sprawling research station's some 100 buildings into just six primary str...

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2019-03-16 03:42:20

The 'F' and 'V' Sounds Might Only Be A Few Thousand Years Old  

More than 7,000 languages are spoken around the world today, each with unique words and phrases. But linguists have usually assumed that the sonic palette humans have used to produce these languages hasn't changed much over time But a new study, published today in the journal Science, suggests otherwise. After analyzing languages from across the globe, a team of researchers found that sounds like "v" and "f" are relatively new, emerging just a few thousand years ago. These new so...

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2019-03-16 03:37:32

Genetics May Explain Why Birth Control Doesn't Always Work For Some Women  

No form of birth control is 100 percent effective. Now, a new study provides an explanation for why a small number of women who use hormonal contraceptive methods still become pregnant, even if they use them correctly. A new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology explains that some women have an uncommon genetic difference that makes hormonal contraception less effective for them. In the paper, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine say that around...

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2019-03-16 03:35:39

NASA's Orion Crew Capsule May Launch on a Commercial Rocket  

For years, NASA has been working on their massive Space Launch System (SLS), a next-generation heavy lift rocket that could launch cargo and astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit for the first time since the Apollo Program. They've been developing it in tandem with Orion, a crew capsule that would carry those astronauts into Earth orbit and beyond. Orion's next big test flight, called EM-1, an uncrewed mission into lunar orbit, is currently scheduled for June 2020. But in a Senate commi...

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2019-03-16 03:29:56

Otters Leave Behind Their Own Archaeological Record  

Oh, otters. The adorable weasel-puppies of the water. They famously hold paws while they're sleeping so they don't drift apart, which is about as cute as you can get. But these little marine mammals are also quite crafty. They're often observed cracking open a tasty meal of mussels, crab or clams with the help of rocks. And a new paper out today in Scientific Reports says otters' handy use of rocks can leave an archeological record. There are a few ways otters get to the meat of t...

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2019-03-16 02:50:01

Astronomers Spot a Speeding Star Being Ejected From Our Milky Way Galaxy  

The Milky Way Galaxy contains billions of stars. Though the vast majority of these are bound to the galaxy by gravity, astronomers have found a few tens of stars that are not orbiting but instead fleeing our galaxy at extreme speeds. These hypervelocity stars have intrigued researchers for years, and now a new mysterious player has entered the game. LAMOST-HVS, the closest of these fast-moving stars to our sun, has an origin story markedly different from the way we believed these stars get t

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2019-03-16 02:36:09

Astronauts Set for 3:14 p.m. EDT Launch to the International Space Station  

Three new crewmembers will join the International Space Station this week, launching today in a Soyuz vessel from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:14 p.m. EDT. The two NASA astronauts, Nick Hague and Christina Koch, will fly with Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on a Soyuz spacecraft and dock with ISS after a six-hour flight. They will join NASA's Anne McClain, Roscosmos' Oleg Kononenko, and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques, who have been in space since December, ...

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2019-03-16 02:01:54

Drugs' Inactive Ingredients Aren't Often Listed, Can Cause Harm, Study Says  

When your doctor prescribes a medication, they take care not to give you something that might cause harm. But, many drugs have a hidden danger for people with allergies or other sensitivities. The inactive ingredients, non-drug components of a medication, can contain compounds that cause harm. And, says a new study, many doctors don't even know what those ingredients are. It's not really a doctor's job to know the exact formulation of every medication they give out, of course, especially

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2019-03-13 18:21:17

Top Scientists Call for Moratorium Blocking Gene-Edited Babies; Critics Want Action  

More than a dozen top scientists from seven countries are calling for world governments to adopt a moratorium on what scientists call heritable genome editing. They're on a mission to make sure the world doesn't see any more gene-edited babies -- not till we're good and ready -- and they've got a plan to stop it. The group penned a commentary published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The effort was led by Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute and a professor at both MIT an...

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2019-03-13 15:38:08

The High Plains bomb cyclone has exploded — a report from ground zero  

As I'm writing this at 11:30 a.m. on March 13, 2019, winds are gusting above 45 miles per hour, snow is blowing horizontally outside my patio window, and the lights in my home are flickering. I hope that I manage to get this story posted before the electricity goes out... Winter Storm Ulmer is intensifying over the High Plains and going through a process known as "bombogenesis." You can see its evolution today in the animation above, consisting of infrared imagery from the GOES-16 weath...

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2019-03-13 15:09:35

Raising the Steaks: How One City in the Netherlands Wants to Feed the World  

There are 7.5 billion of us and counting. Dutch researchers are working to feed us all sustainably — without any meat

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2019-03-13 13:11:03

Ancient People Came From All Across England to Party at Stonehenge  

Some things, it appears, never change. Death and taxes are certainties, the poor we will always have with us, and of course war… war never changes. But, according to a study today in the open-access journal Science Advances, similarly untouchable is the status of Stonehenge and its ilk as tourist destinations — and our love for partying it up with pork. The study, by a team of British archaeologists and geologists, analyzed the chemical components of pig remains at sites near the famo...

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2019-03-13 12:54:54

Scientists Used IBM's Quantum Computer to Reverse Time, Possibly Breaking a Law of Physics  

The universe is getting messy. Like a glass shattering to pieces or a single wave crashing onto the shore, the universe's messiness can only move in one direction - toward more chaos and disorder. But scientists think that, at least for a single electron or the simplest quantum computer, they may be able to turn back time, and restore order to chaos. This doesn't mean we'll be visiting with dinosaurs or Napoleon any time soon, but for physicists, the idea that time can run backward at al...

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2019-03-13 09:10:37

These New Technologies Could Make Interstellar Travel Real  

Long considered science fiction, leaving the solar system and speeding amid the stars may soon be within reach.

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2019-03-13 05:07:30

50 Years Later, NASA Just Handed Scientists Untouched Apollo Moon Rocks  

For nearly half a century, three small rocks have sat quietly, waiting for a world that could appreciate them. The astronauts who picked up these rocks on the moon's surface didn't know them to be any more special than the hundreds of pounds of other rocks they collected. But NASA, confident that science would advance, preserved them in their pristine state, hoping to discover new things not available with 1970s technology. And now, the future has arrived. NASA has selected nine teams f...

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2019-03-12 15:37:58

Climate Change Is Driving Marine Species North, Changing California's Coast  

Just north of San Francisco, Bodega Bay cuts a crescent moon shoreline into the California coast. Toward the end of summer in 2014, the water temperature of the bay skyrocketed. In one of the most intense marine heatwaves on record, warm water persisted for nearly seven months. Now researchers say that the marine heatwaves that roasted Northern California's coastline for two years also moved a record amount of marine life north. And these marine animal relocations forecast what California...

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2019-03-12 09:54:17

Astronomers Spot Massive Twin Stars Nestled Close Together  

Researchers have found two massive young stars nestled closer together than anything astronomers have seen so far. By studying PDS 27 and its companion, located about 8,000 light-years from Earth, astronomers hope to learn more about how stars like this form and evolve. Something like half the stars in our galaxy orbit in pairs, triplets or even quadruple star systems. And scientists suspect that nearly all of them may form in multiples before splitting apart as they age. This is because

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2019-03-12 01:13:01

Can Men Tell When Women are Ovulating? Decades of Creepy Experiments Still Can't Prove It  

For most animals, sex time is obvious. During the fertile phase of their reproductive cycles, females go into heat. They act, smell and look different, sending an unambiguous signal to males: "Come impregnate me." But what about humans? Women have sex throughout their menstrual cycles, and don't show conspicuous outward changes around ovulation — the time of month when pregnancy can occur. Yet many researchers think there are subtle clues that a lady is in her fertile window. N...

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2019-03-11 15:16:15

Few Remaining Paths Lead to a Tolerable Amount of Climate Change  

Climate change is riddled with questions that have uncertain answers. How fast will Earth's population grow? When will renewables become affordable enough to take over? How much carbon dioxide can the oceans suck up? But even with these uncertainties, researchers in a new study say it's clearer than ever that the actions society chooses to take today will dictate the climate for future generations. "They make clear our choices — in a world of uncertainties — our choices are t...

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2019-03-11 12:52:41

NASA Budget Proposal Funds Mars Sample Return, Slashes Other Missions  

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday to talk about the proposed NASA budget for 2020. While Bridenstine referred to the Trump administration's proposed NASA budget as "strong," and emphasized that funding for spaceflight exploration is high, the budget proposal also strikes funding from some missions. And, in total, it allocates $500 million less than what Congress appropriated for NASA last year. Congress, not the executive branch,...

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2019-03-11 10:28:59

Many Families With High Breast Cancer Risk Await a Genetic Explanation  

For decades, Piri Welcsh has had professional and personal stakes in understanding the genetics of breast cancer. In the 1990s, the molecular geneticist participated in an international race to clone BRCA1, the first gene linked to breast cancer risk, and she works to this day in the lab of pioneering breast cancer geneticist Mary-Claire King at the University of Washington. And then there's Welcsh's own family. Her grandmother died of breast cancer, her mother is a breast cancer...

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2019-03-11 09:59:44

The Curious Foreign Accent Syndrome  

"Foreign Accent Syndrome" (FAS) is a rare disorder in which patients start to speak with a foreign or regional tone. This striking condition is often associated with brain damage, such as stroke. Presumably, the lesion affects the neural pathways by which the brain controls the tongue and vocal cords, thus producing a strange sounding speech. Yet there may be more to FAS than meets the eye (or ear). According to a new paper in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, many o

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2019-03-09 06:20:52

You Should Take Care of Your Lungs, They're Beautifully Complex  

Lungs are remarkable organs that continuously achieve amazing feats, which they do so well that we take them for granted, except when their function is diminished. It all happens in a space inside your chest, divided in two and reduced by the presence of the heart, the great vessels and the esophagus. With Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg having recently returned to the court after surgery for lung cancer, I have been asked a lot of questions about the lungs, as I am a professor

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2019-03-08 12:31:56

What Happens When Galaxies Collide?  

Galactic smash-ups can reignite or destroy galaxies — but which will it be? Astronomers using space- and ground-based telescopes to peer inside the mergers of nearby galaxies are hoping to learn more about these events and what they mean for the history and future of our universe. Mergers: Good or Bad? Galaxy mergers have built our universe into the place it is today. Over time, smaller galaxies crash into each other, creating larger, more complex structures. But what exactly happens dur...

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2019-03-08 06:41:43

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Splashed Down Back On Earth, Safely Completing Its Mission  

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule departed the International Space Station early Friday morning and began a series of thruster burns that steered the ship back toward Earth, where it safely splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean not long after 7:30 a.m. EST. The craft had been attached to the space station since Sunday, when it made its first docking under its own power after a successful Saturday launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket. This final phase of the Demo-1 mission was perhaps the biggest tes...

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2019-03-08 04:34:06

Crew Dragon Still Faces Crucial Tests Before NASA Certifies it Safe for Astronauts  

Now that SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule has successfully landed back on Earth and completed its first full test flight, dubbed Demo-1, Elon Musk's rocket company must quickly turn its gaze to the next tests on its journey to put humans in space. SpaceX launched early on March 2, docked with the International Space Station, and returned home Friday morning, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m. EST. While SpaceX has flown many missions to the ISS with its cargo Dragon vehicle...

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2019-03-08 04:07:01

In Greenland, Retreating Snow is Making Ancient Ice Melt Faster  

Greenland is a giant ice sheet covered in snow. Its snowline — the border where snow cover and bare ice abut — migrates with the seasons, sliding to lower elevations in the winter and shifting up in the summer. Now researchers find that not only does the snowline move much more dramatically than they thought, but it also accelerates melting of the ice sheet. That's a problem because the Greenland ice sheet is melting into the ocean and contributing to global sea level rise. The new ...

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2019-03-07 15:50:09

Hubble and Gaia Measure the Weight of Our Milky Way Galaxy  

Measuring the total mass of our home galaxy is a tough puzzle. It's difficult to see it all at once, buried as we are within one of its spiral arms. And there's a huge portion of the Milky Way we can never see, since it's made up of dark matter, which doesn't emit light at all. So to get an accurate number, researchers need to weigh both the visible and invisible material that makes up the galaxy. Now scientists have done just that, using new data from the Hubble Space Telescope c...

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2019-03-07 11:47:30

Ancient Mass Child Sacrifice Discovered in Peru May Be World's Largest  

The remains of nearly 140 children dating to the year 1450 have been unearthed along the northern coast of Peru. Archaeologists say the burial is the site of the largest known mass child sacrifice in the world. The children — as well as the remains of more than 200 young llamas — were found in a mass grave located on a cliff just a thousand feet from the Pacific Ocean in the small, present-day fishing community of La Libertad near Trujillo. Archaeologists say the children and llamas...

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2019-03-07 11:23:30

Fake Lion Poop and Predator Sounds Re-instill Fear In African Antelope  

In the savannah woodlands of Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park stalks an animal that resembles a cross between a goat and a deer. The antelopes known as bushbuck sport the white speckles, russet coats, and large eyes and ears of deer, but stand just two to three feet tall with a pair of dark, twisting horns that grow straight out of males' heads. These secretive, forest-dwelling ungulates take cover from leopards, hyenas and wild dogs in the protection of trees and a network of escape...

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2019-03-07 08:51:13

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Returns Tomorrow, Testing the Future of Human Spaceflight  

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule will depart the International Space Station and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean early tomorrow morning. It has been paired with the space station since Sunday, when it made its first docking under its own power after a successful Saturday launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket. This final phase of the Demo-1 mission will continue studying Crew Dragon's new build. That includes testing an upgraded parachute system to land the craft more gently than its cargo vers...

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2019-03-07 05:33:11

Destroying an Incoming Asteroid is Even Harder Than Scientists Thought  

You've likely heard by now that the movie Armageddon got it all wrong — it's just not feasible to blow up an asteroid heading toward Earth with a bomb or few. But how unrealistic is it, really? New research set for publication March 15 in the planetary science journal Icarus is sending any hope humanity might have had to nuke an incoming asteroid threat even further into the realm of impossibility. Breaking up asteroids, it turns out, is really, really hard to do. The new study was...

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2019-03-07 03:07:13

Physicists Suggest Hunting 'Dark Matter Fossils' Deep Underground  

In the elusive hunt for dark matter, some researchers are looking underground. The mysterious, unseen substance makes up more than 85 percent of the material in our universe. And since dark matter doesn't interact much with normal matter (that's what makes it "dark"), scientists usually rely on extremely large detectors to maximize their chances of observing a signal. But the physical hunt for dark matter is relatively new, so these experiments have only been running for a few years. ...

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2019-03-06 14:43:43

Inner Ear Discovery Helps Explain How Sound Waves Become Brain Signals  

Scientists at Rockefeller University claim they've pinpointed a protein in the ear that acts as a sort of molecular gatekeeper, helping convert soundwaves into the electrical signals that our brains interpret as sound. The finding, though incremental, helps establish a more detailed understanding of how hearing works. Down the Inner-Ear Rabbit Hole But first, some basics. Deep inside the ear, through your ear canal and past your ear drum, lies the inner ear. Here, there's an ...

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2019-03-06 12:36:24

There's A Good Reason for Why We 'Uh' and 'Um' When We Talk  

Our Um's and Uh's Aren't Totally Useless Ever catch yourself saying "uhhh" too many times? Many people vow to cut back on relying on such verbal crutches once they realize they're using them, but they're not just filler. It seems they act as a cue of sorts for your conversational partners. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics found that listeners actively track when a speaker says "uh" to help predict what kind of word might follow. The Power of U...

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2019-03-06 11:40:50

Scientists Still Stumped By The Evolution of Human Breasts  

"How about breasts?" The question came from a jock-y guy in one of my graduate school classes on human evolution. Far from offensive, the query was appropriate and astute. My classmates and I nodded approval, and the professor added it to a growing list on the board. We were brainstorming features that distinguish our species, Homo sapiens, from other primates. That list includes human peculiarities like big brains, upright walking, language, furless bodies ... and permanently enl...

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2019-03-06 10:59:42

A Map to Planet Nine: Hunting Our Solar System's Most Distant Worlds  

Last December, a trio of astronomers set the record for the most distant object ever discovered in the solar system. Because the small world is located about three times farther from the sun than Pluto, the researchers dubbed it Farout. Now, not to be outdone (even by themselves), the same group of boundary pushers have announced the discovery of an even more far-flung object. And since the new find sits a couple billion miles farther out than Farout, the team has fittingly nicknamed it Farf

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2019-03-06 08:55:45

A Better Solar Panel Through Buckets of Water, Rocks  

Rare is the tech story whose main development is decidedly low-tech - but not impossible. Rather than a fancy atomic clock or rat cyborgs, for instance, this tech story deals with buckets of rocks and water. Well, solar panels too, but that's not the cool new part. Today, at a meeting of the American Physical Society, Colgate University physicist Beth Parks described a new way to wring even more energy from a solar panel — a major development for people with no access to reliable po...

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2019-03-06 03:32:03

Are Insects Going Extinct? The Debate Obscures the Real Dangers They Face  

Insects, the most abundant and diverse animals on Earth, are facing a crisis of epic proportions, according to a growing body of research and a rash of alarmist media reports that have followed. If left unchecked, some scientists say, recent population declines could one day lead to a world without insects. "The Insect Apocalypse Is Here," New York Times Magazine avowed in an in-depth story examining the trend, while other outlets have warned of an impending "ecological Armageddon...

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2019-03-06 01:52:19

'Broken Heart Syndrome' Actually Begins In Our Brains  

Emotions might come from the brain, but they often hit us in the heart. That's particularly true for grief, especially the shattering, life-altering kind; the tsunami of anguish that follows a loved ones' death can feel like a physical force inhabiting our chests. In some cases, a broken heart can even transcend metaphor, as with the rarely-seen Takotsubo Syndrome, also known as Broken Heart Syndrome. Sudden onslaughts of intense emotion can in some cases rapidly weaken the heart's musc...

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2019-03-05 17:33:21

Uncovering Earth's Orbital History Buried in Ancient Rock Deposits  

Our solar system is a chaotic place - literally. Rewinding orbital possibilities quickly becomes too complex and too numerous for astronomers to calculate. That means we only know the orbital movements of Earth and the other planets over the past 60 million years or so. To look further back, scientists are pulling core samples from deep under Earth's surface to examine long-ago climate change and learn about how the planets moved hundreds of millions of years ago. Scientists used...

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2019-03-05 15:41:26

Humanity's Footprint is Encroaching on Antarctica  

Scattered on the coasts of Antarctica's empty and icy expanse are research stations that resemble villages. The largest of them is McMurdo Station, a research hamlet that houses scientists studying the continent's glaciers, climate and biological life as well as artists, writers and support staff. As the logistics hub for the U.S. Antarctic program, McMurdo has a landing strip and 85 buildings including a radio shack, firehouse and power plant in addition to the dormitories and bars. S...

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2019-03-05 08:57:06

Before We Colonize the Moon, We Must Learn to Mine There  

If you were transported to the moon this very instant, you would surely and rapidly die. That's because there's no atmosphere, the surface temperature varies from a roasting 130 degrees Celsius (266 F) to a bone-chilling minus 170 C (minus 274 F). If the lack of air or horrific heat or cold don't kill you then micrometeorite bombardment or solar radiation will. By all accounts, the moon is not a hospitable place to be. Yet if human beings are to explore the moon and, potentially, li...

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2019-03-05 06:04:34

For Just The Second Time, an HIV Patient is in Remission After Stem Cell Transplant  

A patient who lived with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for more than a decade is now free of the disease, researchers report today in the journal Nature. The retreat of the infection is only the second time such a case has been reported. In both instances, the patients received a bone marrow transplant to treat cancer. The scientists say the treatment strategy is not practical as a standard approach for the millions currently living with the illness. They also caution that it is too ear

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2019-03-05 04:20:10

People Staring At Screens Still Interested In Natural Wonders  

In today's world, it might seem like people aren't connected to nature at all, instead opting to spend their time with modern conveniences like the world wide web. But new research shows that across the globe, people are still paying attention to what's outside their window — and we can tell by looking at patterns in their Wikipedia pageviews. Scientists, led by conservation biologist-turned-data scientist John Mittermeier at the University of Oxford, looked at 2 billion pageviews...

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2019-03-05 02:01:50

An Ancient Stellar Flyby Could Have Put Planet Nine into its Distant Orbit  

New observations of a distant exoplanet and its solar system offer proof of a long-standing astronomical theory: passing stars can perturb planetary systems and change planets' orbits - for better or worse. Depending on how they pass by, stars can nudge planets into more stable orbits or give them a kick that sends out of the system entirely. And new evidence implies that these kinds of encounters may explain the paths of strange objects in our own solar system, like Omuamua or Plan...

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2019-03-04 15:56:35

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Successfully Docked with the ISS, Will Return to Earth Friday  

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule successfully completed its first docking with the International Space Station on Sunday morning, following a successful launch Saturday morning. This marks the first time SpaceX has ever docked with ISS under its own power. The Crew Dragon docking went smooth, allaying safety concerns. New Connections Previously, the Dragon cargo capsule has merely flown close before being grabbed by a robotic arm under the control of ISS crewmembers. This was SpaceX's firs...

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2019-03-04 12:35:21

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Successfully Launched Into Orbit, Marking a Major Milestone For Private Spaceflight  

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule successfully reached outer space at around 2 a.m. EST Saturday morning. Repeated cheers rang out from the crowds at the Kennedy Space Center launch-site as the capsule passed each flight stage. If the rest of the flight goes well over the next six days, and NASA certifies the capsule is safe, Elon Musk's rocket company could begin launching astronauts into orbit this summer. That would mark the first time a private company has launched a human into orbit. ...

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2019-03-02 04:28:24

These Singing Mice Take Turns During Duets, Offering Insights into Human Speech  

High in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, a distinct chirping sound ripples across the landscape. This high-pitched staccato refrain trills not from birds, but mice. Now researchers have found that the tiny rodents making these sounds, known as Alston's singing mice, take turns belting out their tunes much in the same way people take turns when they talk to each other. The discovery could shed light on communication problems in human speech. Some 10 percent of the Americans suffer from a ...

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2019-03-01 19:45:04

NASA's Bold Apollo 9 Plans Made the Moon Landing Possible  

Apollo 9 launched 50 years ago, on March 3, 1969, and it might be the most important but least celebrated of the early Apollo missions. In fact, it was so important to NASA's ultimate lunar landing goal that the space agency had a series of contingency missions in place to ensure it could get as much data as possible if something went wrong. Apollo 9's mission wasn't necessarily glamorous. Commander Jim McDivitt, Command Module Pilot (CMP) Dave Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP...

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2019-03-01 19:24:18

How Plate Tectonics Could Make Harsh Alien Planets More Friendly to Life  

(Inside Science) -- Shifting, slipping and colliding tectonic plates played an essential role in the emergence and evolution of life on Earth. Such tectonic activity generated volcanoes that spewed carbon dioxide and other gases into the air. Rain brought the gases down to Earth, where they were pushed underground again by moving plates. For billions of years the cycle has regulated the climate and stabilized the temperature, which helped enable life to arise. Plate tectonics like what's

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2019-03-01 16:07:15

The Cheater's Guide to Interstellar Travel: A Conversation with Slava Turyshev  

Science fiction is a genre committed to the concept of "run before you can walk." Long before anyone knew whether heavier-than-air flight was possible, writers were imagining travel to other planets. By the time interplanetary space probes were a reality in the 1960s, the storytellers had long since moved on to thinking interstellar. Today, two or three generations of happy nerds have grown up in a world saturated with science fiction TV shows and movies featuring the word "star" in their

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2019-03-01 02:59:15

I Left a Piece of My Heart on the Dusty Sands of Mars  

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." The quote is so familiar that most people have no idea where it originally comes from (I'll admit, I had to look it up myself to be sure: It is Mediation XVII from John Donne's Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.) In recent years, though, the words have taken on new meaning, at least for those of us who are devoted to astronomical exploration. Any spa

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2019-03-01 02:33:59

SpaceX Ready to Launch First Dragon Crew Capsule Early Tomorrow  

SpaceX's Dragon Crew Capsule is set to launch from Cape Canaveral in a pivotal test flight for human-crewed missions that could happen as soon as this summer. The only passengers for this mission are a mannequin and some cargo for the International Space Station. It will dock on Sunday, stay for five days, and then depart before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean on March 8. This flight is a milestone for NASA and for SpaceX. NASA has been without a domestic carrier for their astro...

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2019-03-01 02:11:41

Craters on Pluto and Charon Show Kuiper Belt Lacks Small Bodies  

When New Horizons flew past Pluto and its moon Charon in 2015, it took a lot of pictures. From studying those images, scientists have recently realized that while both bodies are covered in craters, almost none of those craters are small, meaning there may not be many small bodies around to smash into them. This changes astronomers' views of the Kuiper Belt, the region of small - but apparently not too small - rocky and icy bodies of which Pluto is a part.   No Tiny Craters Astronom...

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2019-02-28 16:31:21

Dogs and Their Owners Share Similar Personality Traits  

You may have heard that dogs and their owners really do look alike. Now, new research has shown that owners and their pups often share personality traits, too. A paper, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, says a dog's personality reflects the personality of its owner. It also explains that dogs experience personality changes similar to how humans do over the course of their lives. Two researchers from Michigan State University surveyed the owners of 1,600 dogs, co...

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2019-02-28 09:58:44

For the Elderly, Too Much TV Could Hurt Their Memory  

Everything old is new again in TV-land, as it so often is. Last week we learned that kids still watch more television than anything else, and this week a new study comes out confirming what many of us have long suspected: too much TV can rot your mind — if you're over 50. It's like the 80s never left! Now, to be fair, it's all couched in the careful language of science, so technically it's a decline in verbal memory that is associated with watching a specific amount of TV over tim...

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2019-02-28 07:42:06

Earthbound NASA Rover Uncovers Clues to Finding Life on Mars  

A NASA rover deployed to Chile's Atacama desert has discovered microbes in one of the most Mars-like environments on Earth. It could prove helpful in the search for life on Red Planet. The life that the rover found was adapted to extremely salty environments, much like those on Mars. Scientists also say the life was patchy, which they expected and called a basic rule of ecology. That's because nutrients and water tend to accumulate in pools. But finding that this also holds true in extr...

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2019-02-28 06:41:16

No, You Probably Can't Make up for Lost Sleep on the Weekends  

There are only so many hours in the day, and when work or school sucks up eight of them, it can be hard to squeeze in time for family, friends, exercise or binging Netflix. As a result, we often don't get those eight hours of precious sleep during the week. But catching some extra z's on the weekend can make up for it, right? Wrong, say researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. In a recent study, they found that catching up on sleep during the weekend doesn't counteract the...

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2019-02-28 05:15:13

Scientists Injected Nanoparticles Into Mice's Eyes to Give Them Infrared Vision  

It's easy to forget it, but much of the world is invisible to us. I don't mean that in the sense of things being really tiny, or in any metaphorical way. No, most of the world is literally invisible. That's because what we call visible light is actually a tiny sliver of the much greater electromagnetic spectrum. The rainbow we see sits in the middle of a vast continuum of wavelengths, including everything from high energy gamma and ultraviolet radiation to much lower infrared and radio w...

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2019-02-28 04:53:33

Life is a Highway (of Flying Space Rocks)  

It has been a great week for humans banging on things around the solar system. Japan's Hayabusa2 probe touched down and grabbed a sample of asteroid Ryugu; NASA's InSight is hammering into the surface of Mars; and a private Israeli spacecraft named Beresheet is heading toward an April landing on the Moon. But we are just beginners at the game. Nature has been banging and moving things around in the solar system for billions of years--and doing it with impressive efficiency. Case in point:

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2019-02-28 04:46:22

A Femur's Journey Into Putty: The Hidden World of Bone Transplants  

A 17th-century Russian nobleman named Butterlijn had a bone to pick with his surgeon. Butterlijn, the story goes, had been struck in the head with a sword, and his surgeon repaired the injury by transplanting a piece of dog bone into Butterlijn's skull. He survived, only to be excommunicated by his church because he was deemed no longer fully human. Butterlijn demanded that the surgeon take the dog bone back out; when the surgeon tried, he found that Butterlijn's skull had regrown around...

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2019-02-28 02:45:33

Why It's Been Snowing in the West, Even When Temps Were Above Freezing  

The last time Jim Murphy saw snow in Los Angeles, he was 11 years old. It was December, 1968 — a week or so before holiday break — and the already unruly class was stirred into a frenzy when one sixth grader spotted the flurries outside. "Of course, everyone ran out of the classroom," Murphy recalls. "The teacher had no control." Northridge, where Murphy grew up, is a neighborhood of Los Angeles that sits at about 800 feet above sea level. Snow is more common there than in...

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2019-02-27 19:01:21

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