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Branson to meet Virgin Galactic space team after crash

By Alex Dobuzinskis MOJAVE Calif. (Reuters) - Richard Branson is set to meet his Virgin Galactic space team in California's Mojave Desert on Saturday following the crash of a passenger spaceship being developed by his company that killed one pilot and seriously injured the other. The entrepreneur has pledged to keep up the drive for space travel, saying on the company's web site: "Space is hard

U.S. rocket explosion investigation suspects main engine failure

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - As Orbital Sciences picks up the pieces, literally and figuratively, after its high-profile rocket launch explosion, accident investigators are looking closely at a potential first-stage engine problem. Technical data relayed from Orbital’s Antares rocket before and after Tuesday’s liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia, show everything was fine unti

New U.S. rockets include crew launch-escape systems

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - Heeding a lesson from history, designers of a new generation of U.S. rockets will include escape systems to give crew members a fighting chance of surviving launch accidents such as the one that felled an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket on Tuesday. The U.S. space agency NASA bypassed escape systems for the now-retired space shuttle fleet, be

Boeing exec says NASA crash underscores need for new U.S. engine

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The crash of an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket is a "wake-up call" to the U.S. space community about the need to develop a new U.S. rocket engine, the head of Boeing Co's defense division said on Thursday. Chris Chadwick, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said the failure of the rocket on Tuesday was a "sad and tragic" reminder

Skin-eating Asian fungus imperils world's salamanders

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A skin-eating fungus that infiltrated Europe through the global wildlife trade is threatening to inflict massive losses on the continent's native salamanders including extinction of whole species and could do the same in North America, scientists say. An international research team said on Thursday the fungus, first detected in Europe last year, has killed s

Rare Look Inside Tiny Mouth Wins 'Small World' Photo Contest

In a photo contest that honors all things small, it's tough to beat a shot of a rotifer: A view into the mouth of one of the tiniest animals on the planet won the top prize in this year's Nikon Small World competition. Rotifers rank among tardigrades as the smallest creatures in the animal kingdom. The winning photo, captured by Rogelio Moreno, a programmer and self-taught microscopist from Pana

Brraaiins! How Zombies Overran Pop Culture

Unlike Dracula or Frankenstein, these Halloween monsters aren't based on a literary resource. In fact, the modern conception of a zombie dates back to 1968, in a movie that doesn't so much as use the word: George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead." "He didn't call them zombies, and he didn't think about them as zombies," said Ozzy Inguanzo, a screenwriter and author of "Zombies on Film: The Def

Great Pumpkin! 9 Fun Facts About the Halloween Gourd

Autumn is a time for leaf peeping, jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie. The bright orange globes are the quintessential symbols of the season, and spooky jack-o'-lanterns have become a staple of Halloween celebrations everywhere. Pumpkins are perhaps the oldest domesticated plants on Earth, with archaeological and botanical evidence suggesting that people cultivated pumpkins as far back as 10,000 B.C

Chinese Moon Probe Returns to Earth

A Chinese moon probe came screaming back to Earth Friday (Oct. 31), just as many folks were heading out to go trick-or-treating.

Virgin Galactic Spaceship Crash Caps Terrible Week for Commercial Spaceflight

The bad news began on Tuesday (Oct. 28), when Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket exploded just seconds after blasting off on an unmanned cargo mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Then, on Friday (Oct. 31), Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight; Virginia-based Orbital Sciences holds a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to make eight robotic cargo runs to t

Racist Costumes to Egging Hazards: The Science of Halloween

Halloween isn't just an occasion to put on zombie makeup and binge-eat candy. From an analysis of racist costumes to an assessment of the hazards of egg throwing, here are a few strange chapters from the annals of Halloween science. They made her watch clips from "The Ring," "The Shining," "The Silence of the Lambs" and other horror movies.

Arizona school board votes to remove pages from biology textbook

By Daniel Wallis (Reuters) - An Arizona school board has voted to remove information about contraception methods from a biology textbook after a conservative majority decided it fell afoul of a state law that says materials should give a preference to childbirth or adoption over abortion. The members of the Gilbert Public Schools board, which covers at least 38 schools and 39,000 students mostly i

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 Fac

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

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 Natur

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 (S

'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 w

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

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

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. Tangra

Incredible Science and Historical Artifacts Up for Auction

A working Apple-1 computer, a window from the Manhattan Project's bomb-development site and a letter from Charles Darwin discussing the details of barnacle sex will go on sale this month at an auction of rare scientific artifacts. A viewing window from the Manhattan Project — valued at around $200,000 — is another big-ticket item at the auction. The Manhattan Project was a secret government oper

Science meets voodoo in a New Orleans festival of water

By Kathy Finn NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Perhaps no other city in the United States is as well-suited as New Orleans to wed a scientific discussion of environment with a celebration of the occult. That's exactly what unfolded on Saturday at "Anba Dlo," an annual New Orleans festival where prominent scientists joined with practitioners of the voodoo religion to look for answers to the challenges of de

Goliath Encounter: Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in Rainforest

Piotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat.

Exclusive: U.S. requests production plans for Ebola drug ZMapp

By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. officials have asked three advanced biology laboratories to submit plans for producing the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which ran out after it was given to a handful of medical workers who contracted the disease in West Africa, government and lab officials said on Friday. The "task order" issued on Thursday by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Develo

U.S. requests production plans for Ebola drug ZMapp

By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. officials have asked three advanced biology laboratories to submit plans for producing the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which ran out after it was given to a handful of medical workers who contracted the disease in West Africa, government and lab officials said on Friday. The "task order" issued on Thursday by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Deve

Comet's Mars Flyby Sunday Has Scientists Abuzz

A comet's close shave with Mars this weekend could reveal some key insights about the Red Planet and the solar system's early days, researchers say. "On Oct. 19, we're going to observe an event that happens maybe once every million years," Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division, said in a news conference earlier this month. Siding Spring, whose core is 0.5 to 5 miles (0.8 to 8

Are we there yet? Scientists prepare for change of epoch

By Emma Anderson BERLIN (Reuters) - Scientists from around the world met this week to decide whether to call time on the Holocene epoch after 11,700 years and begin a new geological age called the Anthropocene - to reflect humankind's deep impact on the planet. For decades, researchers have asked whether humanity's impact on the Earth's surface and atmosphere mean we have entered the Anthropocen

25 Years After Loma Prieta, Earthquake Science Is Transformed

The Oct. 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake was America's first widely-shared natural disaster. The TV crews at San Francisco's Candlestick Park soon turned their cameras on the ravaged city, and frightening images poured in of people trapped in crumpled freeways, burning buildings and toppled storefronts. The magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake, centered below the Santa Cruz Mountains, shook muc


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