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'Dinosaur disco' footprints reveal lifestyle of Jurassic giants
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - On a platform of rock jutting into the Atlantic on Scotland's Isle of Skye, hundreds of newly discovered dinosaur tracks are changing the way scientists view the lifestyle of some of the largest creatures ever to walk the Earth. Scientists on Tuesday said they found the vast collection of Jurassic Period footprints, some reaching 28 inches (70 cm) in diameter, made when dinosaurs called sauropods waded through shallow water in a brackish lagoon 170 million years ago. "There were clearly lots of sauropods moving all around this lagoon.
European satellite to test method to find ripples in space, time
From a vantage point 93 million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth, the European-built spacecraft, known as LISA Pathfinder, is expected to break ground in the search for the ripples, known as gravitational waves, caused by fast-moving, massive celestial objects such as merging black holes. Black holes are so dense with matter that not even photons of light can escape the powerful gravitational effects. God knows what we will learn," said European Space Agency deputy mission scientist Oliver Jennrich.
New from the biotech store: an improved gene editing tool
Scientists have developed an improved gene editing tool that significantly reduces potentially dangerous "off-target" edits, promising an even more precise and efficient system for manipulating human DNA. Tuesday's news that U.S. researchers have re-engineered the so-called CRISPR-Cas9 system to slash editing errors comes as experts meet in Washington for a three-day summit to discuss the ethical and policy issues surrounding the field.
China plans to launch carbon-tracking satellites into space
China plans to launch satellites to monitor its greenhouse gas emissions as the country, estimated to be the world's top carbon emitter, steps up its efforts to cut such emissions, official news agency Xinhua said on Monday. News of the plan comes as more than 150 world leaders arrived in Paris for climate change talks and Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama said they would work together towards striking a deal that moves towards a low-carbon global economy. According to the Xinhau report, the country's first two carbon-monitoring satellites will be ready by next May after four years of development led by Changchun Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics and Physics, part of China's Academy of Sciences.
Satellite launch to test Einstein's idea on space and time delayed
A European satellite launch to find ripples in space that can be caused by merging black holes has been delayed due to a technical problem with its Vega rocket, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Tuesday. The European-built spacecraft, known as LISA Pathfinder, was due to be launched from French Guiana at 0415 GMT on Wednesday. Such delays due to technical issues or poor weather are not unusual.
Amid Controversy, Japanese Whaling Ships Return to Antarctic Ocean
Japan sent two whaling ships back to Antarctica's Southern Ocean today (Dec. 1) after a one-year hiatus, resuming seasonal whale hunts that have come under increasing scrutiny and censure from the international community. Under a revised whaling plan, Japan proposes to kill 333 minke whales this year for research purposes — significantly fewer than past years' annual kill limit of 935 whales. Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), which oversees the country's whaling program, stated on its website that researchers will study the whales' fish consumption and measure their competition with fisheries, creating ecosystem models for managing marine resources.
The Science Behind the Power of Giving (Op-Ed)
Jenny Santi is a philanthropy advisor to some of the world's most generous philanthropists and celebrity activists, and was the head of philanthropy services (Southeast Asia) for the world's largest wealth manager. A Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, Santi is a frequent commentator on the topic and has been quoted in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, on Channel NewsAsia, and on BBC World News. The morning of Dec. 26, 2004, Czech model Petra Nemcova, then age 25, and her fiancé, photographer Simon Atlee, 33, were vacationing in the resort town of Khao Lak, Thailand.
Your Brain Is a Mosaic of Male and Female
There is no such thing as a "male brain" or a "female brain," new research finds. Instead, men and women's brains are an unpredictable mishmash of malelike and femalelike features, the study concludes. "Our study demonstrates that although there are sex/gender differences in brain structure, brains do not fall into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females, nor are they aligned along a 'male brain–female brain' continuum," the study researchers wrote today (Nov. 30) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Spaceflight Is Entering a New Golden Age, Says Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos
Early Monday (Nov. 23), the private spaceflight company Blue Origin made a major stride in the pursuit of fully reusable rockets, when it launched an uncrewed vehicle into space and then soft-landed the rocket booster on the ground. "It was one of the greatest moments of my life," said Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin's founder, speaking about the landing in a press briefing yesterday (Nov. 24). "And my teammates here at Blue Origin, I could see felt the same way.
Turkey and Football: How Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving in Space
Thanksgiving in space will be a lot like the holiday down here on the ground — minus the gravity, of course. Like most Americans, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren have Thanksgiving (Nov. 26) off, and they'll spend the day aboard the International Space Station (ISS) watching football and enjoying a turkey-centric feast, agency officials said. Kelly and Lindgren gave viewers a look at that feast in a special Thanksgiving video this week, breaking out bags of smoked turkey, rehydratable corn, candied yams and potatoes au gratin.
Cobwebs Hold Genetic Secrets About Spiders and Their Prey
You may want to think twice before vacuuming up any pesky cobwebs you find around your home — these messy spider lairs may contain valuable information (valuable to scientists, that is). Knowing exactly which species of spider built a web in a certain area, as well as knowing what that spider feasted on, is important information for researchers in a variety of fields — from conservation ecology to pest management, said study lead author Charles C.Y. Xu, a graduate student in the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme (MEME) in evolutionary biology, a joint program hosted by four European universities and Harvard University in the United States. "There's a variety of different methods to study [spiders]," Xu told Live Science.
Japanese scientists create touchable holograms
A group of Japanese scientists have created touchable holograms, three dimensional virtual objects that can be manipulated by human hand. Using femtosecond laser technology the researchers developed 'Fairy Lights, a system that can fire high frequency laser pulses that last one millionth of one billionth of a second. The pulses respond to human touch, so that - when interrupted - the hologram's pixels can be manipulated in mid-air.
Scientists seek to harvest electricity from algae in green-energy effort
By Chris Arsenault TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists are making progress in harnessing electricity from algae in what could be a breakthrough in green-energy technology to combat climate change, although mass-market applications are years away, new research suggests. The technology utilizes the process of photosynthesis by algae, one of the most common microorganisms on earth, according to a Concordia University engineering professor leading the research. Algae naturally creates electrons during photosynthesis, and metal probes stuck into the plant can capture that energy and transfer it into electricity for batteries, he said on Wednesday.
Better batteries to beat global warming: A race against time
WASHINGTON (AP) — One of the key technologies that could help wean the globe off fossil fuel is probably at your fingertips or in your pocket right now: the battery.
Gecko's amazing wall-walking talent is all in the genes
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Geckos boast one of the most impressive talents of any animal: the ability to scamper up a smooth wall or across a ceiling with ease. Scientists on Tuesday said they have sequenced the genome of the gecko species Gekko japonicus, or Schlegel's Japanese gecko, and found the genetic underpinning of the lizard's gravity-defying feat. The scientists found in Gekko japonicus an expansion in the genes related to beta-keratin, accounting for the gecko's ability to generate its setae.
Scientists create mosquito strain with malaria-blocking genes
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists aiming to take the bite out of malaria have produced a strain of mosquitoes carrying genes that block its transmission, with the idea that they could breed with other members of their species in the wild and produce offspring that cannot spread the disease. The researchers said on Monday they used gene-editing, a genetic engineering technique in which DNA can be inserted, replaced or deleted from a genome, on a species called Anopheles stephensi that spreads malaria in urban India. Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes.
Scientists on quest for friction-free oil
By Matthew Stock Scientists from BP are applying molecular science in their laboratories to make the perfect oil blend to reduce engine friction and increase efficiency. According to the company, friction caused by various metal-to-metal contact points is a major problem for car engines; costing the UK economy an estimated 24 billion pounds (36.2 billion USD) each year through lost efficiency and damage through wear and tear. The only barrier between the high-force contacts of engine surfaces is a thin layer of lubricant, but they are coming under increasing pressure from modern engines. ...
These Ancient Monster Galaxies Have Scientists Perplexed
New research has revealed 574 massive, ancient galaxies lurking in the night sky, and their existence so close to the time of the Big Bang calls into question scientists' best understanding of how large galaxies form. A new video released Wednesday (Nov. 18) from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) reveals the ancient galaxies' locations. "We are talking about massive galaxies, twice as massive as the Milky Way today," said Karina Caputi, an astronomer at University of Groningen in the Netherlands and lead author on the new work.
Why NASA Europa Probe Will Study Jupiter Moon's Dust
BOULDER, Colo. — "Think about it as pieces of a puzzle," Zoltan Sternovsky said. NASA plans to launch a robotic Europa flyby mission in the early 2020s to address this question, and Sternovsky is part of a team developing one of the spacecraft's nine instruments — the Surface Dust Mass Analyzer (SUDA), which will determine the composition of materials ejected from the surface of the frigid moon. "Each instrument on the Europa mission is going to assess one piece of this puzzle," Sternovsky said here Nov. 4 at the university's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, following a presentation by SUDA principal investigator Sascha Kempf, who's also based at UC Boulder.
The Science of Sugar: Is Corn Syrup the Same?
Scientists are still debating whether there is a real difference between the effects on a person's health of high-fructose corn syrup and those of sugar, even as the issue features in an ongoing lawsuit. The suits stem from an earlier lawsuit that sugar refiners brought in 2011 against the corn trade group, claiming that the group's description of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as "corn sugar" and "natural" in an ad campaign was false. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that corn syrup could not be called sugar.