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Ethiopian fossils represent new member of human family tree

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jaw and teeth fossils found on the silty clay surface of Ethiopia's Afar region represent a previously unknown member of humankind's family tree that lived 3.3 to 3.5 million years ago alongside the famous human ancestor "Lucy," scientists say. The fossils shed new light on a key period in the human lineage's evolution before the emergence of our genus Homo

Cold case: scientists encounter prehistoric murder mystery

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This 430,000-year-old case may be the world's oldest murder mystery. Scientists on Wednesday said a fossilized skull discovered deep inside a Spanish cave shows telltale signs of homicide: two fractures inflicted by the same weapon. The skull, belonging to a primitive member of the Neanderthal lineage, was found in an apparent funerary site down a shaft in t

U.S. Air Force certifies SpaceX for national security launches

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday said it has certified privately held SpaceX to launch U.S. military and spy satellites, ending a monopoly held by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, since its creation in 2006. The decision follows two years of discussions, reviews and legal disputes between the U.S. Air Force and Spac

White House: ethics of human genome editing needs further review

The White House said on Tuesday the ethical issues associated with gene-editing on the human genome need further study by the scientific community and should not be pursued until issues are resolved. "The administration believes that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time," John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and

What's hot? Life sciences challenge tech in global innovation

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - The life sciences industry is increasingly taking over from the tech sector in driving global innovation, according to a Thomson Reuters analysis of global patents. With more patents applied for or granted in 2014 than in any other year in history, humankind has never been more inventive, whether in designing driverless cars, discovering new drugs for cancer or

Tattoos Can Cause Serious Adverse Reactions

About 1 in 10 people who get tattoos experiences problems with the tattoo, including infection, itching, swelling and redness, according to a small study in the June issue of the journal Contact Dermatitis. Many people in the study had complications that lingered for years after the tattoo was inked, the researchers said. Leger began noticing that a surprising number of patients were coming into

India Heat Wave Death Toll May Be Vastly Underestimated

A heat wave scorching India this week has already killed at least 1,000 people, according to Indian authorities, but that number may be a huge underestimate, one researcher says. It's possible that thousands more have died as a result of the blistering conditions but that their deaths might not have been attributed to the heat wave, said Dr. Gulrez Shah Azhar, a community health researcher and pol

Devastating Floods in Texas, Oklahoma Driven by El Niño

Severe floods in Texas and Oklahoma are causing devastation after multiple storm systems battered a formerly drought-stricken area, according to experts. Heavy rainfalls began on Saturday (May 23) and soaked the region through the weekend, leading to nearly record-breaking rains in some southern areas of Texas and Oklahoma. At least 10 people have been reported dead across Oklahoma and Texas, an

LightSail Solar Sail Test Flight Stalled by Software Glitch

A tiny solar-sailing spacecraft has gone silent in Earth orbit, apparently victimized by a software glitch. LightSail, a CubeSat designed and built by the nonprofit Planetary Society, stopped beaming data home on Friday (May 22), just two days after it blasted off along with the United States Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane. "LightSail is likley now frozen, not unlike the way a desktop com

Pluto-bound Spacecraft Bringing Dwarf Planet into Focus (Photos)

New photos taken by a spacecraft zooming toward Pluto reveal more intriguing details of the dwarf planet's complex and varied surface. NASA's New Horizons probe, which will make the first-ever flyby of Pluto on July 14, captured the images with its long-range camera from May 8 through May 12, when the spacecraft was a bit less than 50 million miles (80 million kilometers) from the dwarf planet.

For Kremlin, a charity teaching science to kids is viewed as suspect

By Denis Pinchuk MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian law designed to stop civil society groups trying to stir rebellion against President Vladimir Putin's rule is having unforeseen side effects: it threatens to close down a foundation that helps gifted school children study science. Russia's Justice Ministry has added the Dynasty charitable foundation to a register of organizations designated "foreign

California scientists test Ecstasy as anxiety-reducer for gravely ill

By Emmett Berg SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California scientists are testing whether the illegal psychoactive drug commonly known as Ecstasy could help alleviate anxiety for terminally ill patients, the trial's principal funder said on Tuesday. At least a dozen subjects with life-threatening diseases like cancer, and who are expected to live at least 9 months, will participate in the double-blind

New Journal Tackles the Science of Weightlessness

The same organization that publishes Nature, a prestigious journal that commonly reports major space discoveries, has launched a new journal devoted to microgravity research. Called npj Microgravity, the new open-access journal is available online and is now looking for submissions. The journal is being published as a collaboration between the Nature Publishing Group and the Biodesign Institute

White House: ethics of human genome editing needs further review

The White House said on Tuesday the ethical issues associated with gene-editing on the human genome need further study by the scientific community and should not be pursued until issues are resolved. "The administration believes that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time," John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science an

Study: Europeans to suffer more ragweed with global warming

WASHINGTON (AP) — Global warming will bring much more sneezing and wheezing to Europe by mid-century, a new study says.

Squid 'Sees' with Its Skin (No Eyes Needed)

Squid, cuttlefish and octopuses are masters of camouflage, capable of changing their skin colors and patterns in the blink of an eye. Two new studies, published this week in the Journal of Experimental Biology, find that cephalopod skin is chock-full of light-sensing cells typically found in eyes that help them "see." The cells likely send signals to alter skin coloration without involving the cen

Prosecutors: Professor offered China data on US-made device

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The chairman of Temple University's physics department schemed to provide U.S. technology secrets to China in exchange for prestigious appointments for himself, federal authorities said in charging him with four counts of wire fraud.

Feds: Temple professor offered China data on US-made device

The chairman of Temple University's physics department was arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to provide U.S. technology secrets to China in exchange for prestigious appointments. Xi Xiaoxing, ...

Scientists want you to know plankton is not just whale food

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists on Thursday unveiled the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of the world's ocean plankton, the tiny organisms that serve as food for marine creatures such as the blue whale, but also provide half the oxygen we breathe. Plankton include microscopic plants and animals, fish larvae, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that drift in th

Ancient Wolf DNA Could Solve Dog Origin Mystery

Genetic evidence from an ancient wolf bone discovered lying on the tundra in Siberia's Taimyr Peninsula reveals that wolves and dogs split from their common ancestor at least 27,000 years ago. "Although separation isn't the same as domestication, this opens up the possibility that domestication occurred much earlier than we thought before," said lead study author Pontus Skoglund, who studies anc

Bowwow wow! Dog domestication much older than previously known

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Genetic information from a 35,000-year-old wolf bone found below a frozen cliff in Siberia is shedding new light on humankind's long relationship with dogs, showing canine domestication may have occurred earlier than previously thought. Scientists said on Thursday they pieced together the genome of the wolf that lived on Russia's Taimyr Peninsula and found t

Scientists reveal Washington state's first dinosaur

SEATTLE (AP) — Scientists say they've discovered Washington state's first dinosaur fossil, an announcement that marks a unique find for the state and a rare moment for North America's Pacific coast.

Professor seeks retraction of Science article he co-authored

NEW YORK (AP) — Citing irregularities on the part of his colleague, a prominent Columbia University professor has asked Science magazine to retract a study he co-authored last year about the ability of openly gay canvassers to shift voters' views toward support for same-sex marriage.

Dolphin die-off in Gulf of Mexico spurred by BP oil spill: scientists

By Letitia Stein TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A record dolphin die-off in the northern Gulf of Mexico was caused by the largest oil spill in U.S. history, researchers said on Wednesday, citing a new study that found many of the dolphins died with rare lesions linked to petroleum exposure. Scientists said the study of dead dolphins tissue rounded out the research into a spike of dolphin deaths in the

Scientists to submit GM mustard report to government

By Krishna N. Das and Rupam Jain Nair NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian scientists have completed final trials of a genetically modified (GM) variety of mustard and will submit a report to the government in a month, hoping to win over stiff opposition to make it the country's first commercial transgenic food crop. A powerful farmers group close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party

Scientists watching Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano for new eruption

(Reuters) - Scientists are closely watching a volcano on Hawaii's Big Island for a possible eruption after volatile changes in the level of a lake of lava on its summit and a series of earthquakes, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Monday. Observers said there was a chance of an eruption in the Southwest Rift Zone of the Kilauea Volcano, one of the most active in the world, accompanied by more ea

'Home-brew' morphine from brewer's yeast now possible - study

By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Home-brewing could soon take on a more dangerous twist: Scientists have engineered brewer's yeast to synthesize opioids such as codeine and morphine from a common sugar, an international team reported on Monday. "It is going to be possible to 'home-brew' opiates in the near future," Christopher Voight of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was not i

U.S. science leaders to tackle ethics of gene-editing technology

The leading U.S. scientific organization, responding to concerns expressed by scientists and ethicists, has launched an ambitious initiative to recommend guidelines for new genetic technology that has the potential to create "designer babies." The technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, allows scientists to edit virtually any gene they target. The technique has taken biology by storm, igniting fierce pa

Oil CEO Hamm sought ouster of scientists looking at quakes: Bloomberg

Oilman Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc., told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that scientists studying links between oil drilling and earthquakes should be dismissed, Bloomberg News reported on Friday. Bloomberg, citing emails obtained through a public records request, said Hamm indicated he wanted to see some scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, which is based at

Strange Signal from Space May Solve One of Science's Greatest Mysteries

A clue to one of the biggest questions in cosmology — why regular matter, rather than antimatter, survived to fill the universe — may have been found in data from a NASA space telescope. A new study suggests that gamma-rays (high-energy light) detected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope show signs of the existence of a magnetic field that originated mere nanoseconds after the Big Bang. In ad


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