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Historic flyby of Pluto on track despite probe glitch, NASA says

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA said on Monday it expects the New Horizons spacecraft to be back in service on Tuesday after a computer crash over the weekend threatened its upcoming historic flyby of Pluto. Nearing the end of a 9-1/2-year journey to the solar system's unexplored outer reaches, New Horizons shut down radio communications with Earth for a nail-biting 81 minut

The future of travel? A tube called Hyperloop

This was originally the brainchild of billionaire U.S. entrepreneur Elon Musk, who envisioned being able to whisk passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under half an hour. Two years after unveiling plans for a futuristic, high-speed Hyperloop transportation system, Musk has now announced plans for building a test track in southern California and a competition for prototype pods. Seve

Cause of Falcon rocket accident still eludes SpaceX, CEO says

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - SpaceX is still homing in on why its Falcon 9 rocket exploded after liftoff last week, unable to resolve conflicting data radioed back to the ground before the explosion, CEO Elon Musk said on Tuesday. SpaceX plans to take its findings to the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees U.S. commercial launches, NASA and some customers to see if an

Teaching old dogs new tricks with 'smart harness'

(This July 6 story is refiled to correct name in paragraph 12) North Carolina State University researchers have developed new technology designed to improve communication between dogs and humans. Researchers at North Carolina State University are combining their love for dogs with their love of technology. A joint project between the computer science and electrical and computer engineering departm

Solar-powered plane lands in Hawaii, pilot sets nonstop record

(Reuters) - A Swiss man attempting to circumnavigate the globe with an aircraft powered only by the sun's energy landed in Hawaii on Friday, after a record-breaking five-day nonstop solo flight across the Pacific Ocean from Japan. The Solar Impulse 2 is the first aircraft to fly day and night without any fuel. Pilot Andre Borschberg's 120-hour voyage shattered the 76-hour record for nonstop flig

Painkiller Abuse Tied to Skyrocketing Heroin Use in US

People who are addicted to opioids are 40 times more likely than others to abuse heroin, making the abuse of prescription opioid painkillers the strongest risk factor for heroin use, according to a new report. "Heroin use is increasing at an alarming rate in many parts of society, driven by both the prescription opioid epidemic and cheaper, more available heroin," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of

When Did Women Start to Outlive Men?

It's well known that women live longer than men do, but this wasn't always the case: A new study finds that differences between men and women's life expectancies began to emerge in the late 1800s. They found that over this time period, death rates decreased among both men and women. For example, among people born before 1840, death rates were about the same for men and women of a given age.

Low Testosterone May Raise Depression Risk

Men with lower levels of testosterone may be at increased risk of depression, a new study finds. Researchers found that more than half of the men in the study who had lower levels of testosterone had a diagnosis of depression, or showed symptoms of the condition, while a quarter of participants were taking medication for the disease. The vast majority of male participants in the new George Washing

From Sputnik to Spock: Crowdsourced Names for Pluto Map Submitted

Researchers working on NASA's New Horizons mission have submitted for official approval a long list of crowdsourced names that will help fill out the first-ever maps of Pluto and its five moons. New Horizons team members submitted names generated by the "Our Pluto" campaign to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) today (July 7), one week before the probe makes history's first flyby of the

'Direct From Pluto': Science Channel to Air New Horizons' Flyby Images

With less than nine days to go in its nine-year journey to Pluto, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is on the verge of delivering the first up-close images of the mysterious dwarf planet. And when those historic images arrive on Earth, they are set to star in a new hour-long special, "Direct from Pluto: The First Encounter," premiering on the Science Channel on Wednesday, July 15, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

US scientists: Warm oceans cause concern of coral bleaching

HONOLULU (AP) — Abnormally warm ocean temperatures are creating conditions that threaten to kill coral across the equatorial Pacific, north Pacific and western Atlantic oceans, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.

Pluto's Odd Dark Spots Continue to Puzzle Scientists (Photos)

The images reveal a great deal of variation and complexity across Pluto's surface — including the four large dark patches near the equator first spotted by New Horizons late last month. "This object is unlike any other that we have observed," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said during a news briefing today (July 6). New H

Low-Flying Science: How 2 Pilots Pulled Off Amazing Stunt

We've come a long way since Kitty Hawk. A pair of British pilots recently pulled off a daring aviation stunt, becoming the first to fly two planes in formation through a building.

New Horizons space probe suffers glitch on approach to Pluto

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA scientists were working on Sunday to revive the New Horizons spacecraft after it suffered a computer malfunction just nine days before it was due to fly past Pluto. On Saturday, an unknown glitch caused New Horizons to switch to a backup computer, which triggered an 81-minute break in radio communications with mission controllers at the Johns

Scientists convinced European heat waves boosted by climate change

By Laurie Goering LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As Germany and Spain sweated and London sweltered through its hottest July day on record this week, scientists said it is "virtually certain" that climate change is increasing the likelihood of such heat waves in Europe. In real-time data analysis released on Friday, a team of international climate scientists from universities, meteorological

Seabirds Smell Their Way Home

By assessing bird flight patterns, a team of scientists has found evidence supporting the idea that seabirds navigate using smell. This is the "first direct evidence that seabirds use odor maps to navigate over vast expanses of visually featureless oceans to locate preferred grounds, and then to return home and pinpoint their breeding colony," said Andrew Reynolds, lead author of the new study d

Federal report: Polar bears in peril due to global warming

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Polar bears are at risk of dying off if humans don't reverse the trend of global warming, a blunt U.S. government report filed Thursday said.

Lawsuit filed against U.S. over protections for rare wolf

(Reuters) - A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday against U.S. wildlife officials arguing that the government's management plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf, one of the most imperiled mammals in North America, does not go far enough. The Western Environmental Law Center filed the suit on behalf of several organizations in a federal Arizona court, alleging the U.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Pluto: Rock Band Styx Visits New Horizons Team

As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft sails away to Pluto, one bunch of musicians is particularly intrigued by its journey: Styx, the rock band that shares a name with Pluto's smallest moon. Members of the iconic rock group recently met with the space probe's NASA team at the mission's headquarters at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland. All of Pluto's moons roc

Plague Evolution: How a Mild Stomach Bug Became a Worldwide Killer

The Black Death — the dreaded plague that killed millions of people during the Middle Ages — only reached pandemic status after the bacteria that cause it acquired two pivotal mutations, a new study finds. With the first of those mutations, ancient strains of plague bacteria (Yersinia pestis) gained the ability to cause pneumonic plague — a respiratory form of the disease that spreads easily whe

Woolly Mammoth Clones Closer Than Ever, Thanks to Genome Sequencing

Scientists are one step closer to bringing a woolly mammoth back to life. A new analysis of the woolly mammoth genome has revealed several adaptations that allowed the furry beasts to thrive in the subzero temperatures of the last ice age, including a metabolism that allowed them to pack on insulating fat, smaller ears that lost less heat and a reduced sensitivity to cold. The findings could ena

How Not to Get Stung by a Portuguese Man-of-War

Like cast members on a distasteful reality show, Portuguese man-of-war "jellyfish" are descending upon the Jersey Shore in increasing numbers. Last week, one of these venomous creatures (which are related to jellyfish) washed up in Harvey Cedars, a town on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Man-of-war fish have stinging cells that are still active and capable of stinging even after the creature is dea

Study: Polar bears could feel global warming's sting by 2025

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — About a third of the world's polar bears could be in imminent danger from greenhouse gas emissions in as soon as a decade, a U.S. government report shows.

Ex-Iowa State scientist gets prison for faking HIV research

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa State University scientist who altered blood samples to make it appear he had achieved a breakthrough toward a potential vaccine against HIV was sentenced Wednesday to more than 4 ½ years in prison for making false statements in research reports.

Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Hawking & the 'Terminator' Talk Science

What scientific questions does Mark Zuckerberg want answered? Stephen Hawking wants to know. In a town hall-style Q&A session held Tuesday (June 30) on Zuckerberg's Facebook profile, the acclaimed British physicist asked the site's co-founder and CEO to share some of the "big questions in science" that he'd like to see answered.

Scientists find new evidence on GSK vaccine link to narcolepsy

By Kate Kelland LONDON, (Reuters) - Scientists investigating why a GlaxoSmithKline flu vaccine triggered narcolepsy in some people say they have the first solid evidence the rare sleep disorder may be a so-called "hit-and-run" autoimmune disease. The researchers were trying to find out why, of two different flu vaccines widely deployed during the 2009/2010 swine flu pandemic, only one -- GSK's Pan

Survey: US political and generation gaps on science issues

WASHINGTON (AP) — Age divides Americans on science issues just as much as political ideology, a new analysis of recent polling shows.

Walking in Nature May Reduce Negativity

Researchers found that the 19 people in the study who took 90-minute walks in a natural setting had lower levels of negative, repetitive thoughts about themselves, compared with another 19 people who took 90-minute walks in an urban setting. Previous research has linked such thoughts, called rumination, to a heightened risk of depression and related conditions. "It was pretty striking that a 90-mi

Mice of Mars: Rodents Pave Way to Red Planet

Such experiments began as far back as the late 1940s in initial tests to see if living things could withstand the extreme g-force of a rocket launch. Mice continue to play a critically important part in space experiments, mainly because the animals make excellent test subjects. Finally, because mice are mammals, they share many common characteristics with humans in terms of genetics, biology and

Scientists crack gene secret that lets poppies make morphine

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have identified a key gene used by poppies to make morphine, paving the way for better methods of producing the medically important drug, potentially without the need for cultivating poppy fields. The latest finding follows recent success in engineering brewer's yeast to synthesize opiates such as morphine and codeine from a common sugar, boosting t


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