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Yahoo! News: Science 

Commercial space rides for U.S. astronauts to save millions: NASA

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - The U.S. space program should save more than $12 million a seat flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station on commercial space taxis rather than aboard Russian capsules, the NASA program manager said on Monday. In September, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration awarded contracts worth up to a combined $6.8 billion to

Scientists ask if Ebola immunizes as well as kills

By Kate Kelland and Emma Farge LONDON/DAKAR (Reuters) - A recent sharp drop in new Ebola infections in West Africa is prompting scientists to wonder whether the virus may be silently immunizing some people at the same time as brutally killing their neighbors. So-called "asymptomatic" Ebola cases - in which someone is exposed to the virus, develops antibodies, but doesn't get sick or suffer symptom

University of Wisconsin closes laboratory, ending cat experiments

A University of Wisconsin research laboratory that attracted controversy for using live cats in experiments is closing this year, the school said. The University of Wisconsin at Madison said its Department of Neuroscience will no longer conduct experiments related to "sound localization" because Tom Yin, the department interim chair and chief researcher, is retiring at age 70. People for the Ethic

The upper hand: study points to early tool use by human ancestors

Scientists said on Thursday an analysis of fossil hand bones of the species Australopithecus africanus that lived in southern Africa about 3 million to 2 million years ago indicated this human forerunner could use its hands in ways very much like modern people. "Forceful precision grips have been linked specifically to stone tool use and tool making, and so it is possible that Australopithecus a

Giant asteroid set to buzz Earth, poses no threat

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - An asteroid measuring about a third of a mile (half a kilometer) in diameter will make a relatively close, but harmless pass by Earth Monday night, NASA said. The asteroid will pass about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth, roughly three times farther away than the moon. "While it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, i

Pediatricians Oppose Medical Marijuana, with Some Exceptions

Although a number of states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational reasons in recent years, a leading group of U.S. pediatricians says it opposes such legalization, over concerns that these laws could be harmful to children. However, the group says that in some cases, some of the chemical compounds contained in marijuana could be used to treat children with debilitating diseases. Alt

Here's What to Eat to Lower Inflammation

Ginger, nuts, fatty fish and whole grains are just some of the many foods that have been touted to have anti-inflammatory properties. It turns out that experts agree that eating a diet rich in such foods may in fact help lower the levels of inflammation in the body. In a new, small study, published this month in the Nutrition Journal, researchers found that men who consumed flaxseed for 42 days ex

Surprise, It's SpongeBob! X-Ray Shows What Toddler Swallowed

SpongeBob SquarePants was recently spotted in an unusual place. In a recent medical case, doctors saw the image of SpongeBob, the sea-dwelling character of children's cartoons, while looking at an X-ray of a 16-month-old boy. The toddler in Saudi Arabia had been brought to a hospital because he appeared to have swallowed an object. It turned out that the hapless SpongeBob was a pendant that belo

Monster Winter Storm Spotted from Space (Photo, Video)

New satellite imagery shows the monster winter storm now battering the northeastern United States with snow as it gathered strength for what may be an epic snowfall. The monster storm's claws are definitely out in the photos, which were captured from Saturday through Monday (Jan. 24 to Jan. 26) by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration's (NOAA) GOES-East spacecraft and combined

Private Space Taxis on Track to Fly in 2017

The private spaceflight companies Boeing and SpaceX are on track to start launching NASA astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017, representatives of both firms said Monday (Jan. 26). In September 2014, SpaceX and Boeing were awarded contracts under NASA's commercial crew program to help them start flying astronauts on missions to the space station from U.S. soil in the next few yea

Scientists ask if Ebola immunises as well as kills

"The virus may be bumping into people it can't infect any more." Latest World Health Organization data show new cases of infection in West Africa's unprecedented Ebola epidemic dropping dramatically in Guinea, Sierra Leone and particularly in Liberia. Most experts are sure the main driver is better control measures reducing direct contact with contagious patients and corpses, but there may also

Venomous Cone Snails Weaponize Insulin to Stun Prey

At least two species of cone snailhave turned insulin into an underwater weapon, a new study finds. When these stealthy aquatic snails approach their prey, they release insulin, a hormone that can cause blood sugar levels to plummet. The sudden influx of insulin can enter their gills and get into their bloodstream. "The snail has a very large mouth, and it kind of catches the fish within the lar

Football Physics: Why Deflated Balls Are Easier to Catch

After an inspection revealed that some of the footballs used during Sunday's NFL playoff game were slightly deflated, many people are asking whether the balls gave the New England Patriots an unfair advantage over the Indianapolis Colts. Last Sunday (Jan. 18), the Patriots landed a spot at the Super Bowl after beating the Colts 45 to 7. A ball that is less inflated is easier to deform and grip, sa

In a first, sea otter pup conceived in wild born in California lab

A baby sea otter has made history as the first pup born in captivity to a mother impregnated in the wild, and is healthy and developing normally, researchers in California said on Friday. The bundle of joy was born in November at the Long Marine Laboratory on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, said Nicole Thometz, a researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Bi

Art embraces science in new British play 'Oppenheimer'

LONDON (AP) — Suddenly, science is sexy. With Benedict Cumberbatch nominated for multiple trophies as Alan Turing and Eddie Redmayne turning heads as Stephen Hawking, young British actors playing scientists are all the rage this awards season.

NASA's New Curiosity Rover Science Chief Takes Charge On Mars

Ashwin Vasavada knows he has some pretty big shoes to fill. Vasavada is the newly appointed project scientist for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, in charge of a team of nearly 500 researchers spread around the globe. He succeeds John Grotzinger, who steered Curiosity to some big finds over the past few years — including the discovery that Mars could have supported microbial life in the ancient past

The smoke around e-cig science

By Sara Ledwith LONDON (Reuters) - From Apple Pie to Bubbly Bubble Gum, Irish Car Bomb or Martian bar – from Mars!, the flavors of electronic cigarette offer something for every taste.

Lake Tahoe's tiny creatures dying off at dramatic rate: scientist

The smallest critters who occupy the bottom of the cold, clear waters of Lake Tahoe are dying off at an alarming rate and scientists are trying to find the cause to protect the fragile ecosystem of the lake high in the Sierra Nevada range. Scuba divers completed a first-ever circumnavigation of the shallow areas and certain deep spots last fall, collecting data that showed population drops in ei

Scientists create 'genetic firewall' for new forms of life

By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - A year after creating organisms that use a genetic code different from every other living thing, two teams of scientists have achieved another "synthetic biology" milestone: They created bacteria that cannot survive without a specific manmade chemical, potentially overcoming a major obstacle to wider use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The advance, r

Obama calls for major new personalised medicine initiative

President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that his administration wants to launch a new push to use personalized genetic information to help treat diseases like cancer and diabetes. Obama urged Congress in his address to boost research funding to support new investments in "precision medicine." "I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to l

Obama calls for major new personalized medicine initiative

President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that his administration wants to launch a new push to use personalized genetic information to help treat diseases like cancer and diabetes. Obama urged Congress in his address to boost research funding to support new investments in "precision medicine." "I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to

Milky Way 'Bones' Could Reveal Secrets About Our Galaxy

Scientists are finding more evidence of a galactic "skeleton" lurking inside the appendages of the Milky Way, and studying these massive "bones" could help researchers get a better idea of what our galaxy looks like from the outside. At the time, only one such "bone" — known as Nessie — had been identified. Now, new research presented at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society sho

Food diversity under siege from global warming, UN says

By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Climate change threatens the genetic diversity of the world's food supply, and saving crops and animals at risk will be crucial for preserving yields and adapting to wild weather patterns, a U.N. policy paper said on Monday. Certain wild crops - varieties not often cultivated by today's farmers - could prove more resilient to a warming planet

Food diversity under siege from global warming, U.N. says

By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Climate change threatens the genetic diversity of the world's food supply, and saving crops and animals at risk will be crucial for preserving yields and adapting to wild weather patterns, a U.N. policy paper said on Monday. Certain wild crops - varieties not often cultivated by today's farmers - could prove more resilient to a warming planet

Last year was Earth's hottest on record, U.S. scientists say

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Last year was Earth's hottest on record in new evidence that people are disrupting the climate by burning fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the air, two U.S. government agencies said on Friday. The White House said the studies, by the U.S. space agency NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showed climate

Barren Deserts Can Host Complex Ecosystems

Life forms including bacteria, algae, fungi and lichens, as well as plants such as mosses and liverworts, can band together to create biological soil crusts in dry, nutrient-starved environments. "These are incredibly diverse microbial communities with hundreds of different organisms," said Jason Raymond, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State Universit

Can Crowdfunded Astronomy Work? (Op-Ed)

The U.S. budget crises over the last decade have been particularly harsh to physics and astronomy. In 2004, the Hubble Space Telescope was nearly defunded until public outcry ensured its continuing operation. In 2011, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee tried to cancel NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, only for it to be saved by the U.S. Senate at the last moment. That same year, the NASA C

How Congress is Cutting Science Out of Science Policy (Op-Ed)

Celia Wexler is a senior Washington Representative for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), where she focuses on food and drug safety, protections for scientist whistle-blowers and government transparency and accountability. She is the author of "Out of the News: Former Journalists Discuss a Profession in Crisis" (McFarland, 2012). She contributed this a

Scientists raise alarm on China's fishy aqua farms - TRFN

By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Fish farmers in China have been increasingly harvesting wild stocks in order to feed their caged varieties, putting new strains on the world's oceans, said new research from scientists at Stanford University. China is the world's largest producer and consumer of fish, contributing about one third of the global supply. Its production has trip

3,000-Mile Run Across US Has Scientists Following Marathoners

"The core team runners will experience a variety of obstacles throughout the Race Across USA, and our research program is positioned to examine how they respond and how the body and mind adapts," said research director Bryce Carlson, an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He added that significant benefits in heart health can be realized with 10 or


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