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Octopus mom protects her eggs for an astonishing 4-1/2 years
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If someone were to create an award for "mother of the year" in the animal kingdom, a remarkably dedicated eight-limbed mom from the dark and frigid depths of the Pacific Ocean might be a strong contender. Scientists on Wednesday described how the female of an octopus species that dwells almost a mile below the sea surface spends about 4-1/2 years brooding her eggs, protecting them vigilantly until they hatch while forgoing any food for herself. It is the longest known egg-brooding period for any animal, they wrote in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. ...
How do you make a bird? Shrink a dinosaur for 50 million years
An international team of scientists on Thursday described an extraordinary evolutionary process that unfolded over a period of 50 million years in which a lineage of carnivorous dinosaurs shrank steadily and acquired numerous traits that led to the first appearance of birds. The researchers, using techniques developed by molecular biologists to reconstruct virus evolution, examined 1,500 anatomical traits in 120 different dinosaurs from the theropod group. "Our study measured the rate of evolution of different groups of theropod dinosaurs," said lead researcher Michael Lee, a paleontologist at the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum.
Fly Fido to the moon in space send off for deceased pets
By Amanda Orr HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas company is offering a unique send off for beloved pets by placing a portion of their cremated remains in a capsule and blasting them off into space. Celestis Inc, which has provided memorial space flights for human remains since 1997, will launch its first commercial pet memorial spaceflight in October 2014 with the remains of a blue merle Australian shepherd, named Apollo, the company said. The space send-off options go up to $12,500, which allows the pet’s remains to be launched into deep space or to visit the moon. "Our pet service flights are an idea that’s been a long time coming," Celestis Chief Executive Charles Chafer said.
Lead in teeth holds secrets of person's origins, research shows
By Barbara Liston ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - The lead in human teeth holds clues about where a person grew up and can help criminal investigators and archaeologists working with old or decomposed corpses, according to a University of Florida researcher. Because lead ore deposits around the world differ, and as young people's teeth absorb traces of the metal in the environment, the region where a person grew up can be distinguished through lead analysis of a tooth, said geologist George Kamenov. "If you were born in Europe and then came to the U.S., yes, I will be able to see that," Kamenov said. In addition to aiding authorities in identifying bodies, the analysis can help archaeologists locate human remains on an historical timeline, he said.
Airbus, Safran name Alain Charmeau to run space joint venture
Airbus Group and Safran on Wednesday named Alain Charmeau as the head of a new venture designed to reorganize Europe's space launch activities. The two companies said in June they had agreed to create a 50-50 joint venture in space launchers, combining Airbus's launch systems with Safran's propulsion systems. The venture is expected eventually to incorporate the marketing teams for Europe's Ariane space rocket, currently in the European consortium Arianespace, and some design teams from French and German space agencies. It is the first concrete step toward consolidation after Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders called for a shake-up to preserve Europe's commercial access to space in the face of new competition.
Why Millions of 'Sailing' Creatures Are Invading West Coast Beaches
An invasion is afoot along beaches from Oregon to California: Millions of glassy purple, jellyfish-like sea creatures that look like sailboats have been washing ashore.
Blood Test Could Predict Oral Cancer Recurrence
A new blood and saliva test that looks for traces of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can predict whether some people with oral cancers will have their cancer come back, early research suggests. It helps to know as soon as possible that cancer has returned, because tumors that are caught early are easier to treat. In the study, the researchers analyzed blood and saliva samples from 93 people with head and neck cancers; The researchers looked for fragments of DNA from HPV-16, a strain of the virus that is strongly linked with head and neck cancer.
See Which Cities Attract the World's Greatest Minds
Be born in Boston and move to New York City. Using a database of more than 2,000 years of notable names, stretching back to King David of Israel and Judah in 1069 B.C., researchers tracked the rise and fall of cultural centers in Europe and North America over hundreds of years. They found that Paris was a magnet for talent, drawing 70 percent of France's notables over the centuries, and that Germany has long consisted of multiple, smaller, cultural centers competing for brains and creativity. "This paper is the first step," study researcher Maximilian Schich, an art historian at the University of Texas at Dallas, told Live Science.
'Impossible' Space Engine May Actually Work, NASA Test Suggests
It's really starting to look as if an "impossible" space propulsion technology actually works. Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston have found that a microwave thruster system that requires no propellant does indeed generate a small amount of thrust, Wired UK reported Thursday (July 31). "Test results indicate that the RF [radio frequency] resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and, therefore, is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma," the NASA team wrote in their study, which they presented Wednesday (July 30) at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland. The roots of the propulsion system tested by the NASA team trace back to a British researcher named Roger Shawyer, who claims that his "EmDrive" generates thrust by rocketing microwaves around in a chamber.
See the Moon in Motion in August's Night Sky
For observers in the Northern Hemisphere, these objects are (from right to left) the star Spica in the constellation Virgo, the planet Mars and the planet Saturn. Tonight (Aug. 1): The five-day-old crescent moon appears just to the right of Spica.
Transparent Bodies: Mice Go See-Through For Science
"Although the idea of tissue clearing has been around for a century, to our knowledge, this is the first study to perform whole-body clearing, as opposed to first extracting and then clearing organs outside the adult body," study researcher Viviana Gradinaru, a neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, said in a statement. Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+.
Vintage NASA Spacecraft to Tackle Interplanetary Science
A private team is priming a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft to perform new science as it travels through interplanetary space after attempts to move the probe into a position closer to Earth failed. "We're disappointed we couldn't put it in the L-1 orbit, but we had a lot of scientists saying we're more interested in interplanetary space," Keith Cowing, co-leader of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, told Space.com.
Hungarian scientists aim for prototype of cancer surgery device
By Krisztina Than BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian scientists are aiming for the first prototype of a new device in two years that will help surgeons distinguish between healthy tissue and tumours in a split-second as they operate and remove cancerous tissue precisely. Hungarian chemist Zoltan Takats started to work on the technology in 2002 in the United States and from 2004 onwards at the Budapest Semmelweis Medical University in cooperation with the Imperial College London, where he works now. Last week, U.S.-based Waters Corporation acquired the technology - called Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) - from Hungarian start-up firm MediMass Ltd. Waters said in a July 22 statement on its website that the technology could be used to create the "Intelligent Knife" or "iKnife," a device "in the conceptual stages of development that could potentially be used for real-time diagnostics in surgery".
Scientists Closing in on Theory of Consciousness
The 17th century French philosopher René Descartes proposed the notion of "cogito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"), the idea that the mere act of thinking about one's existence proves there is someone there to do the thinking. "The only thing you know is, 'I am conscious.' Any theory has to start with that," said Christof Koch, a neuroscientist and the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Neuroscience in Seattle. In the last few decades, neuroscientists have begun to attack the problem of understanding consciousness from an evidence-based perspective. In fact, Koch and Francis Crick, the molecular biologist who famously helped discover the double-helix structure of DNA, had previously hypothesized that this region might integrate information across different parts of the brain, like the conductor of a symphony.
No Fukushima radiation in tests off U.S. West Coast: scientists
By Courtney Sherwood PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Tests of water off the U.S. West Coast have found no signs of radiation from Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, although low levels of radiation are ultimately expected to reach the U.S. shore, scientists said on Tuesday. Results obtained this week in tests of water gathered by an Oregon conservation group and tested by East Coast scientists came in as expected with no Fukushima-linked radiation, and five more tests are planned at six-month intervals to see if radiation levels will climb. "We've seen radiation halfway across the Pacific, north of Hawaii, but in U.S. waters there has been none, yet," Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Ken Buesseler said. Tests of some fish species, which can race across the ocean more quickly than slow-moving currents, have shown higher levels of radiation, although radiation levels in sea life off the U.S. shore are still safe, Buesseler said.
Quantum Wonderland: Neutron 'Cheshire Cats' Created
The Cheshire Cat of the classic children's book "Alice in Wonderland" had a smile that could disconnect from its body. For instance, a particle can apparently exist in two or more places at once or spin two opposite directions at the same time, a property known as superposition. Theoretical physicists last year predicted that the peculiar nature of quantum physics might allow the properties of particles to exist in two or more places simultaneously. This mimics the story of the Cheshire Cat, in which Alice notes, "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin … but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"
Is Your Life Story Written in Your Poop?
In a new experiment, researchers studied gut and saliva bacteria in two people over a year, to investigate how microbial communities in people's bodies, called their microbiota, changed over time. The study participants provided stool and saliva samples nearly every day during the study period, and chronicled their daily health and behavior, including their diet, exercise, bowel movements and mood, using a diary app. The ratio then returned to normal when the study participant returned home, according to the study, led by Lawrence David, an assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In the other study participant, an intestinal infection with Salmonella, resulted in the permanent decline of most gut bacterial types, which were replaced by genetically-similar species, according to the study published today (July 24) in the journal Genome Biology.
Scientists to excavate Wyoming cave with trove of Ice Age fossils
Scientists will begin excavation early next week of an ancient Wyoming sinkhole containing a rare bounty of fossil remains of prehistoric animals, such as mammoths and dire wolves, preserved in unusually good condition, researchers said on Thursday. The two-week dig, set to begin next Monday under the direction of Des Moines University paleontologist Julie Meachen, marks the first exploration of Natural Trap Cave in north-central Wyoming since its initial discovery in the 1970s.
People Use Just 8.2% of Their DNA, Study Finds
More than a decade has passed since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the international collaboration to map all of the "letters" in our DNA. The huge effort led to revolutionary genomic discoveries, but more than 10 years later, it's still unclear what percentage of the human genome is actually doing something important. The results are higher than previous estimates of 3 to 5 percent, and significantly lower than the 80 percent reported in 2012 by the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project (ENCODE), a public research project led by the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute to study the role of the 3 billion total letters in human DNA. The differences may stem from the nuanced definition of "functional DNA," said the study's co-lead researcher Chris Ponting, a professor of genomics at the University of Oxford in England.
Happy Birthday, Landsat: Space Science Project Turns 42
The Landsat 1 satellite, a joint project of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, flew into orbit on July 23, 1972, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The camera was designed to be the primary observation instrument, according to NASA, but scientists soon discovered that the scanner was sending back far better data. In 1976, scientists combing through Landsat images found a tiny scrap of land never seen before. To verify the island's existence, Canadian Hydrographic Service hydrologist Frank Hall took a helicopter to the island.