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Probe of Virginia rocket blast begins; space station supplied
By Ian Simpson and Irene Klotz WALLOPS Va./CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - Authorities on Wednesday started investigating what caused an unmanned U.S. supply rocket to explode in a fireball moments after liftoff from a Virginia launch pad, destroying cargo and equipment bound for the International Space Station. The 14-story Antares rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, blasted off from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island at 6:22 p.m. (2222 GMT) on Tuesday but burst into flames moments later. ...
Unmanned U.S. Atlas rocket blasts off with GPS satellite
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - An unmanned Atlas rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Wednesday to deliver a Global Positioning System navigation satellite into orbit for the U.S. Air Force. The 189-foot-tall (58-meter) rocket, built and launched by a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, lifted off at 1:21 p.m.. Perched on top of the rocket was a $245 million Boeing-built GPS satellite, the eighth in the military’s new Block 2F series. ...
Giant tortoises rally from near extinction on Galapagos island
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservationists said on Tuesday they have brought giant tortoises found on the Galapagos island of Espanola back from the brink of extinction, gaining a foothold strong enough to allow humans to leave the reptiles alone. Numbering just 15 some five decades ago, the tortoises, which can live as long as two centuries, now number about 1,000 and can sustain themselves, according to a study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. "We saved a species from the brink of extinction and now can step back out of the process. ...
Google executive sets new stratosphere skydive world record
(Reuters) - A skydiving Google executive is safely back on Earth after jumping out of a giant balloon floating in the stratosphere more than 25 miles (40 km) above New Mexico, a feat that broke the sound barrier and shattered a world altitude record. Alan Eustace, a senior vice president at the Mountain View, California-based company, was lifted up 135,890 feet (41,419 meters) by an enormous balloon shortly before dawn on Friday, the Paragon Space Development Corp said. ...
SpaceX Dragon capsule splashes down in Pacific Ocean
(Reuters) - A Space Exploration Technologies Dragon cargo ship ended a monthlong stay at the International Space Station on Saturday and splashed down on schedule in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico. Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore, astronauts with U.S. space agency NASA, used the station’s robotic crane to release the capsule, built and operated by California-based SpaceX, as the company is known, at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT) as the two vehicles soared 260 miles (418 km) over the northwest coast of Australia. “Dragon is free,” mission commentator Rob Navias said during a live broadcast on NASA TV. ...
5 Grotesque Dishes for Halloween
One idea for a Halloween dinner party could involve asking your guests to dress up in gothic gowns, and decking out your house to look like Dracula's castle. Although these dishes are not usually prepared for any specific rituals or holidays, cultures from around the world have invented the recipes — perhaps grotesque, but still tasty — out of what seems to be a rather dark imagination, making them quite suitable for Halloween. Pressed duck is one traditional dish, but it is far from delicate.
Ghost Busters! Night-Vision Camera Touted As Paranormal Tracker
Just in time for the scariest night of the year, networking and communications company D-Link announced it is offering customers free refurbished cameras equipped with motion detectors and night-vision capabilities — perfect for keeping an eye out for things that go bump in the night. These Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, which let users monitor footage in real time from a mobile device, will be given away to those "looking to capture paranormal activity this Halloween season," according to company representatives. But to get a free camera, you'll first have to prove your chops as a ghost buster. "When we ask customers what they're monitoring with our Wi-Fi cameras, we're always surprised to hear how many are looking to capture the paranormal," Daniel Kelley, vice president of marketing for D-Link, said in a statement.
Military Sets New Record for World's Fastest Microchip
A new Guinness World Record has been set for the fastest microchip ever made, officials announced Tuesday (Oct. 28). The new chip, or integrated circuit, is a type of "amplifier" for signals, and operates at 1 trillion cycles per second, or 1 terahertz. "Today, we get to celebrate, with our partner and our performer Northrup Grumman, an exciting record from Guinness for some work that [has been] done," DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar said at a news conference here at the agency's headquarters yesterday. The applications of terahertz processing include communication networks with much greater capacity, high-resolution imaging systems and spectrometers that could detect toxic chemicals or explosives, DARPA officials said.
Doomed Antares Rocket Powered by Refurbished Soviet Engines
The private American rocket that exploded shortly after liftoff Tuesday evening (Oct. 28) was powered partly by an engine built to get cosmonauts to the moon in the 1960s. Orbital Sciences Corp.'s two-stage Antares rocket crashed in a fiery heap just seconds after launching from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday, ending an attempted cargo run to the International Space Station just seconds after it began. Antares' first stage uses two AJ26 engines, which are refurbished variants of the NK-33 built by the Soviet Union for its ill-fated N-1 moon rocket during the height of the space race. In 2012, for example, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said Antares "honestly sounds like the punch line to a joke."
Antares Rocket Explosion: Space Station Astronauts React
Astronauts on the International Space Station watched as a private rocket carrying supplies for the orbiting outpost exploded just after launch. NASA's Reid Wiseman and Barry "Butch" Wilmore and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst sent down some of their thoughts about the Oct. 28 explosion of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket carrying the company's Cygnus spacecraft. The unmanned Cygnus probe was expected to deliver a batch of fresh supplies to the space station crewmembers. "Last night we were watching it live, NASA uplinked the launch live," Wilmore said during an interview with WCYB TV today (Oct. 29).
RIP, Drain Brain: Science Experiments Lost in Antares Rocket Explosion
When a private rocket exploded just after launch Tuesday (Oct. 28), science experiments developed by students, professional researchers and private companies went up in smoke. The private spaceflight company Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket was expected to launch the company's unmanned cargo-carrying Cygnus spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday evening. "We do want to express our disappointment that we were not able to fulfill our obligation to the International Space Station program and deliver this load of cargo, especially to the researchers who had science on board and the people that were counting on the various hardware and components that were going to the station," Orbital Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson said during a news conference after the rocket failure.
NASA's Asteroid-Capture Mission Won't Help Astronauts Reach Mars: Scientist
NASA's bold asteroid-capture mission is an expensive distraction that does little to advance the agency's overarching goal of getting humans to Mars, one prominent researcher argues. For the past 18 months, NASA has been working on a plan to drag an entire near-Earth asteroid, or a boulder plucked from a large space rock, into lunar orbit using a robotic probe. NASA officials say this "Asteroid Redirect Mission," or ARM, will help develop the technologies and know-how required to send astronauts to Mars, which the space agency hopes to accomplish by the mid-2030s. "The principal reason that ARM makes no sense is that it is a misstep off the path to Mars," Binzel told Space.com.
Tiny Human Stomachs Grown in Lab
They may be small, but new lab-grown miniature human stomachs could one day help researchers better understand how the stomach develops, as well as the diseases that can strike it. Using human stem cells and a series of chemical switches, researchers grew stomachs measuring 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) in diameter, in lab dishes, according to a report published today (Oct. 29) in the journal Nature. "It was really remarkable to us how much it looked like a stomach," said researcher Jim Wells, a professor of developmental biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Growing a miniature stomach had its hurdles.
Giant tortoises rally from near extinction on Galapagos island
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservationists said on Tuesday they have brought giant tortoises found on the Galapagos island of Espanola back from the brink of extinction, gaining a foothold strong enough to allow humans to leave the reptiles alone. The tortoises can care for themselves," said James Gibbs, a vertebrate conservation biology professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry who led the study. Located in the Pacific about 600 miles (1,000 km) west of Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago is home to an array of unusual creatures that helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection following his 1835 visit. Española giant Galapagos tortoises, their scientific name is Chelonoidis hoodensis, measure 3 feet (1 meter) long with a saddle-backed shell.
'Interstellar' Science: The Movie's Black Hole Explained (Video)
"Interstellar" may be a work of fiction, but the upcoming film gives viewers an amazingly accurate view of a black hole, its creators say. Renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, an "Interstellar" executive producer, worked closely with the movie's visual-effects crew to come up with an unprecedentedly realistic portrait of "Gargantua," the monstrous black hole at the movie's core. "Neither wormholes nor black holes have been depicted in any Hollywood movie in the way that they actually would appear," Thorne said in a new explainer video produced by Wired magazine, which you can watch above. "I saw this disk wrap up over the black hole, and under the black hole," he said.
US-Funded Research a Waste? Scientists Refute ‘Wastebook’ Criticism
Is the federal government spending hundreds of thousands of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to gamble with monkeys and teach tiny sea creatures how to synchronize-swim? "Wastebook does not question whether the studies are within the realm of basic science but rather if they are groundbreaking enough to warrant taxpayer funding over other priority research, such as Ebola or ALS, or incurring increased debt," a spokesperson from Coburn's office told Live Science in an email.
Swiss scientists determine comet's 'perfume'
Rotten eggs, horse urine, formaldehyde, bitter almonds, alcohol, vinegar and a hint of sweet ether.
The Science Behind Renée Zellweger's New Face
Photographs of actress Renée Zellweger at the Elle magazine's Women in Hollywood awards this week, showing her dramatically different appearance, have sparked the Internet's interest. The 45-year-old actress looked almost unrecognizable to fans who know her best from her earlier movies such as "Jerry Maguire" and "Bridget Jones's Diary." But two cosmetic surgeons told Live Science that Zellweger's transformation could be the result of relatively minor procedures, as well as weight loss and normal aging. Zellweger looks so different because her most distinctive features are the ones that changed dramatically, said both Dr. Michael C. Edwards, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and Dr. Stuart Linder, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. "That's what made her Renee Zellweger," Edwards told Live Science.
Hawaii scientists return to ocean for weapon study
University of Hawaii scientists plan to embark on a final expedition to deep waters off Oahu to study how chemical weapons dumped in the ocean decades ago are affecting seawater, marine life and sediment. ...
New apps bring kids' playtime back to real world
By Natasha Baker TORONTO (Reuters) - Parents eager to get their children away from television and video screens can turn to new apps that get youngsters to learn while playing in the real world. New iPad and iPhone apps for children by companies such as Osmo and Tiggly are designed to help children learn spatial, language, counting and physics concepts while playing with tangible objects. Tangram, Words and Newton from California-based Osmo let children manipulate objects in the real world and to interact with games on the screen. ...