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Boeing, SpaceX win contracts to build 'space taxis' for NASA

By Irene Klotz and Andrea Shalal CAPE CANAVERAL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - NASA will partner with Boeing and SpaceX to build commercially owned and operated "space taxis" to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, ending U.S. dependence on Russia for rides, officials said on Tuesday. The U.S. space agency also considered a bid by privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp, but opted to award long-t

SpaceX must meet high standard to get rocket certified : U.S. officials

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior U.S. Air Force officials on Tuesday said they favored competition for military rocket launches, but the Air Force needed to stick to its high standards in certifying the Falcon 9 rocket, built by privately-held Space Exploration Technologies. SpaceX is working through a detailed certification process with the Air Force for its Falcon 9 satellite so

Forensics suggest Richard III killed by two blows to bare head

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Britain have given blow-by-blow details of King Richard III's death at the Battle of Bosworth more than 500 years ago and say two of many blows to his bare head could have killed him very swiftly. Their analysis of the remains of the last English monarch to die in battle suggest he was attacked by one or more people, and that nine of 11 blows, cle

U.S. air force seeks funding for space surveillance satellites

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force plans to request initial funding for three surveillance satellites to track objects in space as part of its fiscal 2016 budget request, a top Air Force general said Tuesday. General John Hyten, head of Air Force Space Command, told the annual Air Force Association conference the satellites would be a relatively inexpensive follow-on to the

Urine test for cervical cancer virus offers alternative to smear

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - A simple urine test for the virus that causes cervical cancer could offer a less invasive and more acceptable alternative to the conventional cervical smear test, researchers said on Tuesday. In a study comparing the accuracy of urine sample testing with smear testing conducted by a doctor, scientists from Britain and Spain found the results were good and said us

King Richard III's Final Moments Were Quick & Brutal

Richard III's last moments were likely quick but terrifying, according to a new study of the death wounds of the last king of England to die in battle. But Richard III's last moments were the stuff of legend alone, as the king's body was lost until September 2012, when archaeologists excavated it from under a parking lot in Leicester, England. Now, a very delayed postmortem examination reveals t

Ebola Outbreak 'Spiraling Out of Control,' President Obama Says

If the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is not stopped now, the deadly virus could infect hundreds of thousands of people in the region, which would have profound global consequences, President Barack Obama said today (Sept. 16). "Here's the hard truth: In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before. It's spreading faster and exponentially," Obama said in a news co

US Waistlines Gained an Inch This Decade

The average waistline of people in the United States has expanded more than an inch in one decade, a new study finds. The researchers looked at nearly 33,000 adults and the circumference of their waists, which is a measure of abdominal fat. The results showed that in 2012, the average waistline was 38.8 inches (98.5 cm), up from 37.6 inches (95.5 cm) in 1999. The new findings contrast with previou

NASA Picks SpaceX, Boeing to Fly US Astronauts on Private Spaceships

American astronauts will soon have new homegrown rides into space. After a four-year competition, NASA has tapped the commerical spaceflight companies SpaceX and Boeing to launch astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. If all goes according to plan, the two companies will reduce or end NASA's dependence on Russia for its orbital taxi service. Russia's Soyuz has been NASA's only c

NASA to Make Major Private Space Taxi Announcement Today: Watch Live

NASA will make a major announcement on the future of U.S. Space agency officials will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), and could unveil the selection of one or more private space taxis by aerospace companies to move forward on the path toward providing astronaut transportation services to International Space Station for NASA. You can watch NASA's commercial crew announcement liv

Scientists' colossal squid exam a kraken good show

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — It was a calm morning in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea, during the season when the sun never sets, when Capt. John Bennett and his crew hauled up a creature with tentacles like fire hoses and eyes like dinner plates from a mile below the surface.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have agreed to pay nearly $146,000 to settle civil claims that they misused money from a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, federal officials said Tuesday.

Saturn's Weird Fast-Changing Ring Baffles Scientists

One of Saturn's iconic rings looks much different today than it did just a few decades ago, and scientists aren't sure why. NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft spotted many bright clumps in Saturn's F ring when they flew by the gas giant in the early 1980s. "Saturn's F ring looks fundamentally different from the time of Voyager to the Cassini era," study lead author Robert French, of the SETI (Search

NASA Defends Science Plan for Mars Rover Curiosity

NASA is staunchly defending the science plans for its flagship Mars rover Curiosity in the wake of a recent senior-level review that at times harshly criticized the mission's science operations. Curiosity had been driving toward the mountain since it landed on Mars in 2012. NASA officials lauded the success so far of Curiosity's $2.5 billion mission. Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary scien

Strong Solar Flares This Week a Rare Double Whammy, Scientists Say

Two powerful solar storms arriving at Earth today have captured the public's attention for their potential to spark amazing auroras, but scientists say there's another reason to watch. The solar double whammy is actually somewhat rare.

Scientists 'reset' stem cells to study start of human development

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - British and Japanese scientists have managed to "reset" human stem cells to their earliest state, opening up a new realm of research into the start of human development and potentially life-saving regenerative medicines. In work described by one independent expert as "a major step forward", the scientists said they had successfully rebooted pluripotent stem cells

Scientists: Strong solar storm heading to Earth

WASHINGTON (AP) — A strong solar flare is blasting its way to Earth, but the worst of its power looks like it will barely skim above the planet and not cause many problems.

Scientists say the ozone layer is recovering

WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth's protective ozone layer is beginning to recover, largely because of the phase-out since the 1980s of certain chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans, a U.N. scientific panel reported Wednesday in a rare piece of good news about the health of the planet.

Planet of the apes: Gibbons are last ape to have genome revealed

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gibbons - the small, long-armed tree swingers that inhabit the dense tropical forests of Southeast Asia - have become the last of the planet's apes to have their genetic secrets revealed. "We now have whole genome sequences for all the great apes and, with this work, also the small apes - gibbons," said Jeffrey Rogers, a primate genetics researcher at the Hu

Zombie Fungus Enslaves Only Its Favorite Ant Brains

Instead, the microorganism is somehow able to recognize the brains of different ant species, and releases its mind-controlling chemical cocktail only when in its preferred host, new research shows. "Behavioral manipulation is such a complex [characteristic] that it only occurs when there's a very close coevolution between pathogen and host," said Charissa de Bekker, a molecular biologist at Penn

New Particle Detector Could Reveal Universe's Missing Antimatter

A new ultra-precise particle detector is being developed to investigate the bizarre properties and behaviors of tiny elementary particles that seem to defy the laws of traditional physics. Department of Energy recently awarded $1.2 million to a team of physicists from Indiana University's Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter to build the new particle detector. The Standard Model is though

Stephen Hawking Says 'God Particle' Could Wipe Out the Universe

Stephen Hawking bet Gordon Kane $100 that physicists would not discover the Higgs boson. After losing that bet when physicists detected the particle in 2012, Hawking lamented the discovery, saying it made physics less interesting. Now, in the preface to a new collection of essays and lectures called "Starmus," the famous theoretical physicist is warning that the particle could one day be respons

Noel Hinners, former NASA scientist, dies at 78

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — Noel Hinners, a former chief scientist for NASA who helped plan the scientific exploration of the moon for the Apollo program and later oversaw projects such as the Mars Surveyor Program, has died.

Coffee Genome Reveals Why Your Java Smells So Good

Not all caffeine is created equal. Researchers recently sequenced the genome of the coffee plant and found the caffeine in your morning cup evolved independently from caffeine found in other plants.

Oversized Alien-Like 'Shrimp' Caught Off Florida Is ID'ed

It's not every day that an ordinary fishing trip turns into an encounter with an oversized alien-like sea creature, but that's what happened recently to one Florida fisherman. Steve Bargeron was fishing off a dock in Fort Pierce, Florida, last week when a couple fishing nearby pulled up what Bargeron jokingly described as an "alien creature." The couple wasn't interested in keeping the strange,

Scientists: Quake directed its main force at Napa

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Emerging data on last month's 6.0 magnitude earthquake shows it directed most of its force north toward Napa and the Napa Valley, hitting hard enough to move one side of the West Napa Fault north by 18 inches, the head of the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Science Center said Thursday.

A hot cup of genome: Scientists percolate coffee's genetic secrets

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If you prefer your genetic research to be rich, bold, flavorful, steaming hot and with a bit of a kick, try a mug full of this: Scientists have deciphered the coffee genome and found genetic secrets that may make your cup of joe even better in the future. An international team of researchers on Thursday unveiled the newly sequenced genome of the coffee plant

Scientists use E.coli bacteria to create fossil fuel alternative

British and Finnish scientists have found a way of generating renewable propane using a bacterium widely found in the human intestine and say the finding is a step to commercial production of a fuel that could one day be an alternative to fossil fuel reserves. "Although we have only produced tiny amounts so far, the fuel we have produced is ready to be used in an engine straight away," said Patrik

Can a Severed Snake Head Still Kill? It's Possible

"Snakes in general are well known for retaining reflexes after death," said Steven Beaupré, a biology professor at the University of Arkansas. The bite reflex is stronger in venomous snakes than it is in some other carnivores because these snakes use their bite differently than other meat-eaters, Beaupré said.

Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks

By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California's Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the


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