This is science news–I do my best to stay away from articles that are overly political. If I post something that turns out to be wrong, please let me know! Contact me using the form on the home page.

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Heat and Ashes: The Untold Story of the Apollo 1 Fire

MOTHERBOARD–Fifty years ago, Henry Rogers stepped off an elevator into an inferno.

A quality control inspector at NASA, Rogers had been working during a routine launch simulation test for Apollo 1, the first manned Apollo mission, at Cape Canaveral in Florida. But while he was in the elevator, a fire had broken out in the spacecraft cabin. By the time Rogers stepped out into the white room—the area of the shuttle tower that connects with the cabin—flames were erupting and black smoke filled the room.

“He could have gotten back on the elevator and escaped to safety, knowing the dangers involved, but he didn’t hesitate,” the late Stephen Clemmons, a spacecraft mechanical technician who was also there that night, wrote in a 2004 essay. “Instead he made his way through the smoke and fire and began to help any way he could. He had not been trained on how to get the hatches off, but he tried.” Read more at

Physicists unveil new form of matter—time crystals

PHYS.ORG–Normal crystals, likes diamond, are an atomic lattice that repeats in space, but physicists recently suggested making materials that repeat in time. Last year, UC Berkeley’s Norman Yao sketched out the phases surrounding a time crystal and what to measure in order to confirm that this new material is actually a stable phase of matter. This stimulated two teams to build a time crystal, the first examples of a non-equilibrium form of matter.

To most people, crystals mean diamond bling, semiprecious gems or perhaps the jagged amethyst or quartz crystals beloved by collectors.

To Norman Yao, these inert crystals are the tip of the iceberg.

If crystals have an atomic structure that repeats in space, like the carbon lattice of a diamond, why can’t crystals also have a structure that repeats in time? That is, a time crystal? Read more at

Hydrogen Squeezed Into a Metal, Possibly Solid, Harvard Physicists Say

NY TIMES–Squeezed between two pieces of diamond, hydrogen has been transformed into a metallic form believed to exist inside giant planets like Jupiter, scientists reported on Thursday.

“You can see it becomes a lustrous, shiny material, which is what you expect for a metal,” said Isaac F. Silvera, a professor of physics at Harvard.

If some theoretical predictions turn out to be true, the new state of hydrogen could even be a solid metal that is metastable — remaining solid even after the crushing pressure is removed — and a superconductor, able to conduct electricity without resistance, Dr. Silvera said. Read more at

Dead Air: The Talk Show Guest Who Died on Dick Cavett’s Stage

MENTALFLOSS–During his first few years on the air, talk show host Dick Cavett might have imagined his worst moment as a broadcaster would remain the night when actors Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and John Cassavetes showed up for a taping drunk and incoherent. Things got so bad that at one point Cavett walked off his own show.

That was September 18, 1970. Less than a year later, Cavett would outdo himself. Interviewing New York Post columnist Pete Hamill, Cavett and his guest stopped momentarily to regard the odd behavior of the man sitting a few feet away. Jerome Rodale, who had just spent 30 minutes talking to Cavett about the organic food lifestyle he promoted, was snoring loudly.

That was funny only during the brief time it took for Cavett to realize Rodale’s color was pallid and that his head was slumped listlessly against his shoulder. Moments after the 72-year-old had declared he “never felt better in my life,” Rodale was dead, having expired in full view of ABC’s cameras. Read more at

NASA just made all the scientific research it funds available for free

SCIENCEALERT.COM–NASA just announced that any published research funded by the space agency will now be available at no cost, launching a new public web portal that anybody can access.

The free online archive comes in response to a new NASA policy, which requires that any NASA-funded research articles in peer-reviewed journals be publicly accessible within one year of publication. Read more at

5 Teams Left in $30 Million Private Moon Race

And then there were five.

SPACE.COM–Five privately funded teams have secured verified launch contracts to blast their robotic spacecraft toward the moon, keeping them eligible for the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), contest organizers announced today (Jan. 24).

The remaining teams are Florida-based Moon Express, Israel’s SpaceIL, India’s Team Indus, Hakuto of Japan and the international outfit Synergy Moon. Eleven other teams had been in the running, but they failed to lock up a verified launch deal by the deadline of Dec. 31, 2016. Read more at

These genetically modified cyborg dragonflies could perform ‘guided pollination’

TECHCRUNCH.COM–We are now in a day and age where cyborg insects no longer even raise an eyebrow. Hell, you can order kits! But this particular cyborg insect is especially interesting: a dragonfly that has been modified inside and out to follow the path programmed into a solar-powered electronic backpack the size of a fingernail.

Previous experiments in this area have generally taken one of two approaches. One is to create a higher-level drive in the organism to move in a given direction otherwise in its own fashion — the other is to activate the movements directly by tapping into the muscles or neural interfaces in the legs themselves. In the first case, the insect can get used to those urges and eventually ignore them; in the second, efficient natural movement is replaced with clumsy artificial stumbling. Read more at

Plans Are Underway for a “March for Science”

SNOPES–Inspired by the success of Women’s Marches held worldwide in support of women’s rights and other causes, and in light of numerous moves apparently aimed at silencing, minimizing, defunding, or discrediting the work of scientists during President Trump’s first week in office, numerous groups and individuals have proposed holding a “March for Science” or “Scientists’ March on Washington”.

As reported by the Washington Post, the idea went viral almost immediately after it was conceived:

In short order, the march had a Facebook page (whose membership swelled [overnight] from 200 people to more than 150,000 by ]the following afternoon]), a Twitter handle, a web site, two co-chairs, [postdoc Jonathan] Berman and science writer and public health researcher Caroline Weinberg, and a Google form through which interested researchers could sign up to help.


NASA Science Continues As Usual

LIVESCIENCE.COM–News reports have suggested that the Trump administration is placing communication “gags” on science agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but at the country’s space agency, things seem to be “business as usual.”

That’s according to a statement made at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Seattle this week. According to industry watchdog SpaceNews, the director of NASA’s Earth science division, Michael Freilich said: “Nobody has told us to change anything we are doing. Keep doing your work, keep making advances, keep building credibility.” Read more at

Physicists Have Figured Out How to Create Matter and Antimatter Using Light

FUTURISM.COM–A team of researchers from the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP RAS) has just announced that they managed to calculate how to create matter and antimatter using lasers. This means that, by focusing high-powered laser pulses, we may soon be able to create matter and antimatter using light.

To break this down a bit, light is made of high-energy photons. When high-energy photons go through strong electric fields, they lose enough radiation that they become gamma rays and create electron-positron pairs, thus creating a new state of matter. Read more at

Childhood Suicides Are More Often Linked to A.D.D. Than to Depression

NOVANEXT–Children don’t usually have the words to communicate even the darkest of thoughts.

As a result, some children aged 5 to 11 take their own lives. It’s a rare and often overlooked phenomenon—and one that scientists are only just beginning to understand. A study published today in the journal Pediatrics reveals that attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.), not depression, may be the most common mental health diagnosis among children who die by suicide. By contrast, the researchers found that two-thirds of the 606 early adolescents studied (aged 12 to 14) had suffered from depression. Read more at

MIT and IBM team up to create AI that sees, hears, and gets it – like humans

CSMONITOR.COM–It’s easy to take for granted the complex mental tasks human beings are constantly performing.

When we watch a baseball game, we can easily distinguish the pitcher from the mound he stands on, describe how he winds up before he flings the ball towards the plate, and even predict if the next pitch will be a hanging curveball or 100-mph fastball.

There isn’t yet a machine that can comprehend such tasks that are simple to us.

IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge hope to change that. The two organizations announced a partnership Tuesday for machines to see, hear, and interpret like humans do. The IBM-MIT Laboratory for Brain-inspired Multimedia Machine Comprehension, BM3C, for short, is a multi-year collaboration, said IBM in a news release. Read more at

How Some Cancers Choose Fat Over Sugar For Fuel

LABROOTS.COM–Cancer has an insatiable appetite for the body’s nutrients. Most of the time, sugar is its preferred source of energy, but in some rare instances, cancer appears to favor fat over sugar. And now, scientists at the Harvard Medical School are beginning to understand exactly how this happens. The results have the potential to broaden therapies against these fat-loving cancer types.

Most tumors rely on glucose and other sugar forms as their main fuel for growth. Only when the sugar supply runs low does cancer turn to fat instead. But for a few cancers, scientists were perplexed at how cancer cells were able to use fat instead of sugar. Fat-loving cancers include acute myeloid leukemia and prostate cancer – two of the more common cancer types that can’t be starved by cutting the glucose supply. Read more at

New Method to Extract a Brain Tumor Through the Ear

LABROOTS.COM–Brain cancer surgery is an especially dicey operation when it involves removing a piece of the skull and exposing the brain. For years, there was no other alternative. But in a landmark operation, doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern demonstrated that there is, indeed, a less invasive option by extracting the brain tumor from the ear, using endoscopic techniques.

Vertigo-inducing tumors, known formally as acoustic neuromas, are often located in temporal lobe of the brain, near the ear. As the tumor grows, patients often experience problems with hearing, dizziness, and balance issues – similar to the worst ear infection you can imagine that can’t be treated with simple antibiotics. Fortunately, these tumors are rare and usually benign, although they have been known to kill if left untreated. Read more at

DNA is Shielded From X-Rays by ‘Water Bear’ Protein

LABROOTS.COM–Researchers have discovered a surprising new characteristic of one of Earth’s most unusual creatures, the water bear or tardigrades. This microscopic animal has been called the most indestructible on the planet. A protein that is unique to it shocked researchers when it protected human cells from the harmful effects of radiation.

The protein, called Dsup for damage suppressor, was added to human cells growing in culture. When those cells were exposed to powerful radiation, they experienced half the decay that cells normally would (when not cultivated with Dsup).

“We were really surprised,” commented Takuma Hashimoto, a biologist at the University of Tokyo who designed the experiments and was the lead author of the new work, published in Nature Communications. Read more at

The Monty Hall Problem, explained

KOTTKE.ORG–The Monty Hall Problem is one of those things that demonstrates just how powerful a pull common sense has on the human reasoning process. The problem itself is easily stated: there are three doors and behind one of them there is a prize and behind the other two, nothing. You choose a door in hopes of finding the prize and then one of the other two doors is opened to reveal nothing. You are offered the opportunity to switch your guess to the other door. Do you take it?

Common sense tells you that switching wouldn’t make any difference. There are two remaining doors, the prize is randomly behind one of them, why would switching yield any benefit? But as the video explains and this simulation shows, counterintuition prevails: you should switch every time. Read more at

Hacker-Proof Code Confirmed

QUANTA MAGAZINE–In the summer of 2015 a team of hackers attempted to take control of an unmanned military helicopter known as Little Bird. The helicopter, which is similar to the piloted version long-favored for U.S. special operations missions, was stationed at a Boeing facility in Arizona. The hackers had a head start: At the time they began the operation, they already had access to one part of the drone’s computer system. From there, all they needed to do was hack into Little Bird’s onboard flight-control computer, and the drone was theirs.

When the project started, a “Red Team” of hackers could have taken over the helicopter almost as easily as it could break into your home Wi-Fi. But in the intervening months, engineers from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had implemented a new kind of security mechanism — a software system that couldn’t be commandeered. Key parts of Little Bird’s computer system were unhackable with existing technology, its code as trustworthy as a mathematical proof. Even though the Red Team was given six weeks with the drone and more access to its computing network than genuine bad actors could ever expect to attain, they failed to crack Little Bird’s defenses. Read more at

Sorry David Attenborough, we didn’t evolve from ‘aquatic apes’ – here’s why

THECONVERSATION.COM–Occasionally in science there are theories that refuse to die despite the overwhelming evidence against them. The “aquatic ape hypothesis” is one of these, now championed by Sir David Attenborough in his recent BBC Radio 4 series The Waterside Ape.

The hypothesis suggests that everything from walking upright to our lack of hair, from holding our breath to eating shellfish could be because an aquatic phase in our ancestry. Since the theory was first suggested more than 55 years ago, huge advances have been made in the study of human evolution and our story is much more interesting and complicated than suggested by the catch-all aquatic ape hypothesis. Read more at

Genesis project – a plan to seed life on other planets

COSMOS MAGAZINE–Spreading life to the farthest reaches of space sounds like science fiction straight out of Star Trek, but the technology needed for this kind of exploit is just decades away, according to a theoretical physicist.

Claudius Gros from Germany’s Goethe University describes the Genesis project, which involves a fleet of autonomous robots that drop microbes onto suitable exoplanets in the hope they survive and flourish, in Astrophysics and Space Science.

Since the first exoplanet discoveries were confirmed in 1992, the catalogue has skyrocketed to more than 3,500, according to the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Read more at

New Hand Grenade Design For U.S. Army In The Works

POPULAR SCIENCE–A grenade is a short fuse and a bad day in a small package. The hand-tossed bombs have origins dating back centuries, with more modern types first seeing use in World War I. In the ensuing century since, non-lethal and less-lethal grenade technology improved greatly, with loud and bright “flash-bang” grenades seeing military and police use. For grenades with the explicit goal of killing, World War II saw both fragmentation grenades, which explode shrapnel into people, and concussion grenades, which kill through powerful shock waves and are designed for clearing bunkers. The United States hasn’t fielded a concussion grenade in over 40 years, since the “MK3A2 concussion grenade was taken out of service in 1975 due to an asbestos hazard.”

Now, the Army wants a new grenade that can either be concussion or fragmentation. Last week, in a post on Medium, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (ARDEC) announced features of the in-development Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade. Read more at

A Faster Internet: Terabit Networking Was Just Successfully Tested

FUTURISM.COM–Fiber optic technology, since it was first introduced, has been synonymous to faster internet connections. The technology, which uses optical fiber instead of copper wires, has proven itself more efficient and effective, particularly for long-distance and high-volume applications.

Unfortunately, despite years of research and advancement in the field, creating the infrastructure to make this technology more accessible still proved to be difficult given the complexity and cost of the fiber optic system. So while the possibility of terabit speed fiber optic technology is just around the corner, the reality of it being rolled out for commercial use is a little more difficult.

Perhaps the newest tests from Nokia Bell Labs, Deustche Telekom T-Labs, and Technical University of Munich will mark new possibilities of bringing this exciting upgrade into widespread use. Read more at

The Strange Second Life of String Theory

THE ATLANTIC–String theory strutted onto the scene some 30 years ago as perfection itself, a promise of elegant simplicity that would solve knotty problems in fundamental physics—including the notoriously intractable mismatch between Einstein’s smoothly warped space-time and the inherently jittery, quantized bits of stuff that made up everything in it.

It seemed, to paraphrase Michael Faraday, much too wonderful not to be true: Simply replace infinitely small particles with tiny (but finite) vibrating loops of string. The vibrations would sing out quarks, electrons, gluons, and photons, as well as their extended families, producing in harmony every ingredient needed to cook up the knowable world. Avoiding the infinitely small meant avoiding a variety of catastrophes. For one, quantum uncertainty couldn’t rip space-time to shreds. At last, it seemed, here was a workable theory of quantum gravity. Read more at

DNA Sequencing in Space Could Protect Astronaut Health

SPACE.COM–NASA astronauts are opening new doors in the worlds of science and medicine by sequencing DNA in all sorts of extreme environments, including, for the first time, the microgravity of the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut and biologist Kate Rubins has sequenced DNA in space, marking the first time this has been done. She used a miniature device called MinION, which the SpaceX Dragon capsule delivered to the space station on July 20. Read more at

Plead Guilty on Your Mobile: UK MoJ Wants Defendants to Enter Plea Online

SPUTNIKNEWS.COM–The Ministry of Justice is planning on allowing defendants to plead guilty online. This will include people who are charged with fare dodging on public transport, as well as those who refuse to pay their TV license.

According to plans unveiled by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), defendants will be allowed to plead guilty from the comfort of their own phone. Lord Chancellor Liz Truss MP, the Lord Chief Justice Thomas of Cwmgiedd, as well as Senior President of Tribunals Lord Justice Ryder, revealed the new idea in a jointly issued paper released last week, and said that they wanted the justice system to start taking advantage of the brand spanking new technologies, such as the Internet. Read more at

Quantum Teleportation Enters the Real World

DISCOVER MAGAZINE–Two separate teams of scientists have taken quantum teleportation from the lab into the real world.

Researchers working in Calgary, Canada and Hefei, China, used existing fiber optics networks to transmit small units of information across cities via quantum entanglement — Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance.”

According to quantum mechanics, some objects, like photons or electrons, can be entangled. This means that no matter how far apart they are, what happens to one will affect the other instantaneously. To Einstein, this seemed ridiculous, because it entailed information moving faster than the speed of light, something he deemed impossible. But, numerous experiments have shown that entanglement does indeed exist. The challenge was putting it to use. Read more at

Physicists Are Close to Producing Metallic Hydrogen, And It Could Change Everything

FUTURISM.COM–The simplest and most common element, first in the periodic table, shouldn’t be difficult to crack, right? “What could be more simple than an assembly of electrons and protons?” asks Neil Aschcroft, a theoretical physicist at Cornell University. Yet, its supposed metallic form is quite the opposite. Apparently, the physics of hydrogen becomes more complex at high pressures. A sort of mega-evolution.

Hydrogen is naturally at a gaseous state, at room temperature and under atmospheric pressure. But hydrogen becomes solid, given enough of a forceful squeeze or at low temperatures. It also can transform into a liquid, if heat is added while squeezing. What is more confounding is the supposed ability of hydrogen, theoretically, to transform into metal if more extreme conditions are applied. Read more at

Frog-hunting bats have ‘cocktail party effect’ workaround

SCIENCENEWS.ORG–An experiment with fake frogs shows how certain bats adjust their hunting technique to compensate for unnatural noises.

Humankind is loud, and research already suggests that birds alter their singing in urban noise. Now tests show that bats listening for the frogs they hunt switch from mostly quiet eavesdropping to pinging echolocating when artificial sounds mask the frog calls. That way, the bats can detect the motion of the frogs’ vocal sac poofing out with each call, researchers report in the Sept. 16 Science. Read more at

Pluto is emitting X-rays, and it’s challenging our understanding of the Solar System

SCIENCEALERT.COM–Astronomers working with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have witnessed everyone’s favourite dwarf planet, Pluto, emitting X-rays, and it’s the first time an object in the Kuiper Belt has been found to do so.

This strange discovery could help researchers understand more about Pluto’s atmosphere, as well as the atmospheres of other objects at the very edges of our Solar System.

“We’ve just detected, for the first time, X-rays coming from an object in our Kuiper Belt, and learned that Pluto is interacting with the solar wind in an unexpected and energetic fashion,” said team leader Carey Lisse, from Johns Hopkins University. Read more at

Scientists caught black holes swallowing stars — and burping energy back up

WASHINGTON POST–Supermassive black holes are voracious beasts. Their tremendous gravitational pull sucks in everything that gets too close, including stars.

For the first time, astronomers have clearly observed at infrared wavelengths what happens after a black hole eats a star: it burps back up a brilliant flare of light that echoes through space.

Two studies published this week — one by scientists at NASA, the other by researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China — describe these “tidal disruption flares” using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), a space telescope that has photographed the entire sky in infrared light. Read more at

TSRI Study Suggests Disordered Protein ‘Shape Shifts’ to Avoid Crowding

LABROOTS.COM–Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have brought physics and biology together to further understand how cells’ crowded surfaces induce complex protein behavior.

Their findings suggest that a disordered protein, called alpha-synuclein, partially escapes from the cell membrane when it runs out of space.

“This study provides new insight into the complex structural physics of three-component protein interactions in biology,” said TSRI Associate Professor Ashok Deniz, who led the new study, which was designated as a “hot paper” by the journal Angewandte Chemie. Read more at

Gravitational Waves May Be Produced Sooner Than We Thought

LABROOTS.COM–Gravitational waves are still a rather new discovery to most astronomers, so trying to understand them by studying computer models based off of what we already know has led to all sorts of even newer discoveries.

Although gravitational waves were predicted in Einstein’s theory of relativity over a century ago, they hadn’t actually been observed until recently, when LIGO revealed they had captured evidence of gravitational waves.

They are exactly what they sound like: waves of gravity that occur from conflicting gravitational forces. Read more at

Dog-Sized Dinosaur Had Ideal Camouflage For Forests

POPULAR SCIENCE–We usually think of dinosaurs as standing out, but about 100 million years ago, Psittacosaurus, a dog-sized cousin of Triceratops with a parrot-like beak was blending into the background as much as possible.

In a new study published today in Current Biology, researchers reconstructed the colors and shading of a Psittacosaurus by studying a fossil specimen that had skin preserved so well that researchers were able to decipher color patterns on the fossil. Read more at

Astronomers might have just caught a glimpse of a black hole being born

SCIENCEALERT.COM–For the first time ever, a team of astronomers might have witnessed the birth of a black hole, roughly 20 million light-years from Earth.

While researchers have long thought that black holes form when supergiant stars collapse, new data from the Hubble Space Telescope might finally confirm this hypothesis. Read more at

A ‘conversation’ between two dolphins has been recorded for first time

SCIENCEALERT.COM–For the first time, researchers have recorded two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins having a ‘conversation’ with each other, and their communication appears to be far more sophisticated than we thought.

While scientists have known for years that dolphins use a very complex language to communicate amongst themselves, the new findings suggest that they might be able to string together five-word sentences, and could even use a form of ‘grammar’ to influence meaning. Read more at

Was that climate change? Scientists are getting faster at linking extreme weather to warming

THEGUARDIAN.COM–Is it still true to say you can’t point to any single extreme weather event and claim you can’t link it to human-caused climate change?

Plenty of people seem to think this is still the case. But a rapidly evolving field of climate science suggests that it’s not.

Take Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for example, who was touring Tasmania after the devastating flooding there in June. Read more at

Fluoride in water doesn’t lower IQ or cause cancer, says health agency

THEGUARDIAN.COM–Australia’s chief health and medical research agency says fluoride in drinking water does not lower a person’s IQ, cause cancer or cause any other negative health effects.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) analysis of more than 60 years of scientific research and 3,000 studies has backed adding fluoride to public drinking supplies as a safe and effective measure for preventing tooth decay.

The review shows there are no health effects or harm under the levels used in Australia, the NHMRC chief executive, Prof Anne Kelso, said. Read more at

How can understanding epigenetic tags be used to treat cancer?

LABROOTS.COM–Errors in DNA methylation are often found to be causative in different types of cancer, but scientists still do not know what molecular mishaps are at the root of the problem. In a new study from the Van Andel Research Institute, the inheritance of methyl tags among generations of dividing cells might hold the answer.

“What we didn’t realize before this study is that [key players orchestrating DNA methylation] all work together in an elegant way,” said senior author Scott Rothbart, PhD.

Rothbart and the team from the Van Andel Research Institute are focused on the potential to develop new drug therapies for cancer and other pathologies that result from errors in DNA methylation. In their current study, a collaboration with UNC Chapel Hill, University of Washington, University of Toronto, they zero in on the role of a specific protein: UHRF1. Read more at

Newborn Gut Bacteria Determine Allergies & Asthma Later in Life

LABROOTS.COM–The first month of a newborn’s life is so critical to a lifetime of health that this period has a name: neonate. In a new collaboration between the University of California San Francisco and the Henry Ford Health System, scientists made clear just how important a healthy microbiome is for neonates and the future of their allergy and asthma status.

“Currently, children are typically six or seven years old when they are diagnosed with asthma, which has no cure and has to be managed through medication,” explained co-senior author Susan Lynch, PhD from UCSF. “If we are to prevent disease development, we need to intervene early.”

The key to detecting asthma in individuals as neonates, the current study’s findings suggest, is through the neonatal microbiome. Read more at

Leprosy Suspected in 2 California Kids: How Could They Contract It?

LIVESCIENCE.COM–Two schoolchildren in California are suspected of having leprosy, but where might they have caught the disease?

This week, officials in Riverside Country (which is near Los Angeles) said they are investigating the suspected cases of leprosy, now usually called Hansen’s disease, at an elementary school in the area. Nursing staff at the school first notified officials about the possible infections on Sept. 2, but it will take several weeks to confirm them, according to the Los Angeles Times. Read more at

Q&A: Why a Rested Brain Is More Creative

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN–In his engaging new book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, to be published this December by Basic Books, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues that respite is an essential component of both productivity and creativity. Pang, a senior consultant at Strategic Business Insights and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, draws on biographical accounts of famous artists and scientists and a trove of psychological studies to make his case, exploring the benefits of sleep, naps, play, sabbaticals and exercise. Contributing editor Ferris Jabr, who wrote “Give Me a Break” for our special workplace package in this issue, spoke with Pang to learn more about the importance of giving rest and relaxation the respect it deserves. Read more at

Acid/Alkaline Theory of Disease Is Nonsense

QUACKWATCH.ORG–Have you seen advertisements for products such as coral calcium or alkaline water that are supposed to neutralize acid in your bloodstream? Taking calcium or drinking alkaline water does not affect blood acidity. Anyone who tells you that certain foods or supplements make your stomach or blood acidic does not understand nutrition.

You should not believe that it matters whether foods are acidic or alkaline, because no foods change the acidity of anything in your body except your urine. Your stomach is so acidic that no food can change its acidity. Citrus fruits, vinegar, and vitamins such as ascorbic acid or folic acid do not change the acidity of your stomach or your bloodstream. An entire bottle of calcium pills or antacids would not change the acidity of your stomach for more than a few minutes.

All foods that leave your stomach are acidic. Then they enter your intestines where secretions from your pancreas neutralize the stomach acids. So no matter what you eat, the food in stomach is acidic and the food in the intestines is alkaline. Read more at

Myth busted: dumped pills aren’t main source of drugs in sewage

NEWSCIENTIST.COM–The next time you pick up a prescription, you might notice a message on the label exhorting you not to flush leftover pills down the toilet. This advice reflects the official belief in some countries, including that dumping medicines down the toilet is the number one source of pharmaceutical contamination in waste water. The trouble is, it’s not true.

“We’re not sure where this urban myth came from,” says Patrick Phillips at the US Geological Survey (USGS) in Troy, New York. Phillips’s latest work, together with Christine Vatovec at the University of Vermont and colleagues, seems to well and truly bust the myth. It also reveals some surprising sewer epidemiology. Read more at

New Catalyst Could Split Water Cheaply

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN–The mysterious workings of a new catalyst could help produce fuels from water and improve fuel cells, scientists say.

Splitting water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen elements is an important starting point for the development of clean renewable fuels. Producing hydrogen from water could also become a method to store excess renewable energy. Read more at

Get Ready. A Three-Wheeled Electric Car Will be Available In The U.S. By 2017

FUTURISM.COM–It kind of looks like a monster. Just look at those light-up bug eyes.

Don’t be frightened, though. It’s just SAM. The SAM is a three-wheeled electric car popular in Poland. Now though, Eastern Europeans are exporting them to America. Tesla may currently rule the electric vehicle field in the U.S., but that could be changing soon.

These weird looking compact EVs have folding gull-wing doors, a steel chassis, and a fully recyclable polyethylene body. Under the hood, the SAM is powered by a lithium-polymer battery pack that has a five-hour charging time using a regular outlet. That charge will last the EV 80 to 100 km (50 to 62 miles), and it has a top speed of 90 kmh (56 mph). Read more at

Three Nations Create Giant Reserves for Ocean Life

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC–Concern over a worldwide decline in marine life prompted the presidents of Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica to announce agreements Friday to increase protection of some of the most biodiverse ocean waters.

The agreements bring the marine reserves off the three nations to 83,600 square miles. Ecuador and Costa Rica also agreed to delineate the boundaries of their national waters, exchanging nautical charts in a step toward protecting the underwater “highways” used by sharks, sea turtles, and other migrating marine life. Read more at

First Dolphins Killed in Japan’s Notorious Annual Hunt

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC–Twenty dolphins were slaughtered on Friday in the southwestern Japanese town of Taiji, marking the beginning of the cove’s infamous annual dolphin hunt, according to local media, Agence France-Presse reports.

The hunt has attracted global condemnation since 2009, when it was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, which depicted how fishermen round up some 1,000 dolphins a year to sell to marine parks or kill for meat. The slaughter turns the cove red with blood. In 2015, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums banned the buying and selling of dolphins from the controversial hunt, after protests and pressure from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a global industry organization. Read more at

Even the Most Remote Islands Harbor Human Messes

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN–To reach Nihoa, an uninhabited 171-acre piece of land in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, scientists must take a 30-hour boat ride, leap ashore from an inflatable dinghy amid violent waves and then scale a cliff. Until recently, the critically endangered millerbird lived nowhere else on earth but Nihoa. But in 2011 and 2012 Sheldon Plentovich led a team that brought 50 of the tiny songbirds on a three-day voyage to Laysan, a sister island where introduced rabbits had driven a different millerbird subspecies to extinction roughly a century ago. At one point, “I thought [a few of] the birds were going to drown,” says Plentovich, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) biologist and former professional kiteboarder. “But somehow we were able to pull it off.” As documented in July in Biological Conservation, the Laysan population has since swelled to about 164, providing a bulwark should disaster ever strike Nihoa’s birds. Read more at

The Science of Star Trek

NASA.GOV–Is Star Trek really a science show, or just a lot of “gee, whiz” nonsensical sci-fi? Could people really do the fantastic things they did on the original Star Trek: The Original Series and later programs in, or are they all just hi-tech fantasy for people who can’t face reality? Will the real world come to resemble the world of unlimited power for people to travel about the galaxy in luxurious, gigantic ships to meet exotic alien beings as equals?

Original producer Gene Roddenberry and the later writers of the show started with science we know and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d it to fit a framework of amazing inventions that support action-filled and entertaining stories. Roddenberry knew some basic astronomy. He knew that space ships unable to go faster than light would take decades to reach the stars, and that would be too boring for a one-hour show per week. So he put warp drives into the show — propelling ships by distorting the space-time continuum that Einstein conceived. With warp drive the ships could reach far stars in hours or days, and the stories would fit human epic adventures, not stretch out for lifetimes. Roddenberry tried to keep the stars realistically far, yet imagine human beings with the power to reach them. Roddenberry and other writers added magic like the transporter and medical miracles and the holodeck, but they put these in as equipment, as powerful tools built by human engineers in a future of human progress. They uplifted our vision of what might be possible, and that’s one reason the shows have been so popular. Read more at

The Science Sticklers Who Kept Star Trek in Line

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN–In the early days of television, small-screen science fiction generally ignored the laws of nature, technology and common sense. Take the 1960s TV series Lost in Space. In one early segment a comet’s heat somehow threatens to fry a couple of members of the spacefaring Robinson family. Pretty far-fetched, considering that comets are made of ice, rock and dust.

Even quality shows like The Twilight Zone made gaffes, as in the 1962 episode “The Little People,” which postulated humanoids hundreds of feet high. Unfortunately, as a body’s height is squared, its volume is cubed. So these fictional life-forms would in reality collapse under their own weight.

Then, in 1966, came Star Trek, setting the new gold standard of scientific plausibility in TV entertainment. This year the cult series celebrates the 50th anniversary of its September 8 premiere. Read more at

U.S. Cracking Down on “Brain Training” Games

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN–The brain-training giant Lumosity is recalibrating its strategy and facing new challenges as it reels from a federal crackdown on bold health claims about its digital games.

The company behind the Lumosity brand, Lumos Labs, has dramatically cut back on TV advertising. It is facing sharp questions about its much-touted research, which found that users enjoyed a bump in IQ. And there are signs that the growth of Lumosity’s once impressive mobile app business may have stalled. Read more at

The Oldest Stars May Be A Lot Younger Than We Thought

POPULAR SCIENCE–The Universe’s earliest days just got a tiny bit closer, as scientists observing the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite found that the first stars to form were born later than previously thought.

Fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background—leftover radiation from when everything recombined after the Big Bang—reveal data on our whole Universe’s history and composition, but the period when just stars first started to form, called the “epoch of reionisation,” has long been up for debate. Read more at

Catfished by a Catfish: 1 in 5 Seafood Samples Are Frauds, Report Finds

Seafood lovers, are you getting “catfished” at the dinner table?

NY TIMES–It’s very possible. One in five seafood samples tested worldwide turn out to be completely different from what the menu or packaging says, according to a report on seafood fraud released Wednesday by the ocean conservation group Oceana. Of the more than 25,000 seafood samples the group analyzed, 20 percent were incorrectly labeled. Read more at

Earth’s carbon points to planetary smashup

PHYS.ORG–Research by Rice University Earth scientists suggests that virtually all of Earth’s life-giving carbon could have come from a collision about 4.4 billion years ago between Earth and an embryonic planet similar to Mercury. In a new study this week in Nature Geoscience, Rice petrologist Rajdeep Dasgupta and colleagues offer a new answer to a long-debated geological question: How did carbon-based life develop on Earth, given that most of the planet’s carbon should have either boiled away in the planet’s earliest days or become locked in Earth’s core?

“The challenge is to explain the origin of the volatile elements like carbon that remain outside the core in the mantle portion of our planet,” said Dasgupta, who co-authored the study with lead author and Rice postdoctoral researcher Yuan Li, Rice research scientist Kyusei Tsuno and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute colleagues Brian Monteleone and Nobumichi Shimizu. Read more at

Good sex may threaten older men’s heart health

LABROOTS.COM–Having sex frequently—and enjoying it—may put older men at higher risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. For older women, however, good sex may actually lower the risk of hypertension.

The findings are from the first large-scale study of how sex affects heart health in later life. The research appears online in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. “These findings challenge the widely held assumption that sex brings uniform health benefits to everyone,” says Hui Liu, an associate professor of sociology at Michigan State University. Read more at

Industrial air pollution leaves magnetic waste in the brain

SCIENCE MAGAZINE–If you live in an urban environment, chances are you’ve got nanomagnets on the brain—literally. New research suggests that most magnetite found in the human brain, a magnetic iron oxide compound, comes from industrial air pollution. And because unusually high concentrations of magnetite are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the findings raise the specter of an alarming new environmental risk factor for this and other neurodegenerative diseases. Still, other scientists caution that the link remains speculative.

For decades, scientists have known the brain harbors magnetic particles, but most assumed that they derived naturally from the iron used in normal brain function. About 25 years ago, geophysicist Joe Kirschvink at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena detected biologically formed magnetite particles in human brains, lending evidence to their natural origin. Read more at

Supersymmetry’s absence at LHC puzzles physicists

SCIENCENEWS.ORG–A beautiful but unproved theory of particle physics is withering in the harsh light of data.

For decades, many particle physicists have devoted themselves to the beloved theory, known as supersymmetry. But it’s beginning to seem that the zoo of new particles that the theory predicts —the heavier cousins of known particles — may live only in physicists’ imaginations. Or if such particles, known as superpartners, do exist, they’re not what physicists expected. Read more at

Blood samples from 9-year-olds can predict bipolar symptoms

NEWSCIENTIST.COM–High levels of inflammation as a child may predict a higher risk of manic behaviour in later life, a finding that could lead to new ways of treating conditions like bipolar disorder.

Hypomania involves spells of hyperactivity and is often a symptom of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder and some kinds of psychosis. People experiencing hypomania may take more risks, feel more confident and become impatient with others. After spells like this, they may “crash”, needing to sleep for long periods and sometimes remembering little about the previous few days. Read more at

Digitizing The Oceans In Real Time: The National Science Foundation has built a global observatory under the sea

POPULAR SCIENCE–Over the summer, while the rest of us were getting tan (via lasers, of course, as is PopSci’s style), the National Science Foundation’s USS Sikuliaq took a 39-day Vision 16 cruise. It wasn’t exactly a typical cruise.

Rather than kicking back, the crew was busy surveying the cables that feed a network of observatories collecting open-access marine and climate data, called the Ocean Observatory Initiative–the newest chess piece in the NSF’s campaign to stitch together a massive data collection network. Read more at

Move over Nessie: Scottish sea monster uncovered in national museum

YAHOO NEWS–The fossil of a toothy, dolphin-like predator which prowled the oceans in the Jurassic era, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, has been uncovered in a Scottish museum where it lay buried for 50 years, scientists said Monday.

First discovered in 1966, the specimen has at last been freed from its prehistoric sarcophagus to reveal a chunky, four-metre-long (13 feet) deep-sea killer — its pointed mouth bristling with hundreds of cone-shaped teeth. Read more at

Cutting Edge Technique Explains Vitamin A Transport

LABROOTS.COM–A new microscopy technique has allowed researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) to take direct images of one of the smallest proteins ever to be seen through a microscope. The role of the protein, STRA6, is to transport Vitamin A into the interior of cells.

Vitamin A has roles in the production of light receptors for the eye as well as the normal development of the fetus and placenta. It is critical for mammals. “Being able to visualize this protein, and understand how it works to move Vitamin A, is a really fantastic leap,” commented one co-authors of the Science paper, David J. Weber, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UM SOM. “And there is so much more we can do with this technique. It’s exciting.” Read more at

Billion-light-year galactic wall may be largest object in cosmos

NEWSCIENTIST.COM–Here’s the latest reminder that space is really, really big. At a cool billion light years across, a distant complex of galaxy superclusters may be the largest structure yet found in the cosmos.

Individual galaxies like our own Milky Way are bound together by gravity into clusters, and these clusters clump into superclusters. These can in turn link together into long lines of galaxies called walls. On the grandest scales, the universe resembles a cosmic web of matter surrounding empty voids – and these walls are the thickest threads.

In the nearby universe, we know of the Sloan Great Wall, and in 2014, the Milky Way was found to be part of a supercluster system called Laniakea. Both are enormous. But the newly spotted BOSS Great Wall, with a total mass perhaps 10,000 times as great as the Milky Way, is two-thirds bigger again than either of them. Read more at

The Impossible Propulsion Drive Is Heading to Space

POPULAR MECHANICS–The EmDrive, a hypothetical miracle propulsion system for outer space, has been sparking heated arguments for years. Now, Guido Fetta plans to settle the argument about reactionless space drives for once and for all by sending one into space to prove that it really generates thrust without exhaust. Even if mainstream scientists say this is impossible.

Fetta is CEO of Cannae Inc, and inventor of the Cannae Drive. His creation is related to the EmDrive first demonstrated by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 2003. Both are closed systems filled with microwaves with no exhaust, yet which the inventors claim do produce thrust. There is no accepted theory of how this might work. Shawyer claims that relativistic effects produce different radiation pressures at the two ends of the drive, leading to a net force. Fetta pursues a similar idea involving Lorentz (electromagnetic) forces. NASA researchers have suggested that the drive is actually pushing against “quantum vacuum virtual plasma” of particles that shift in and out of existence. Read more at

Top Safety Official Doesn’t Trust Automakers to Teach Ethics to Self-Driving Cars

MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW–Rapid progress on autonomous driving has led to concerns that future vehicles will have to make ethical choices, for example whether to swerve to avoid a crash if it would cause serious harm to people outside the vehicle.

Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, is one of them. He told MIT Technology Review that federal regulations will be required to set the basic morals of autonomous vehicles, as well as safety standards for how reliable they must be. Read more at

Antibacterial soap soon to disappear

USA TODAY–Antibacterial soaps will soon disappear from store shelves under orders from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which said Friday that they provide no benefits over regular soap.

Products with 19 antibacterial ingredients — the most popular of which are triclosan and triclocarban — must be reformulated or removed from stores within a year, the FDA announced Friday. Read more at

3.7-billion-year-old fossils may be the oldest signs of life on Earth

WASHINGTON POST–Scientists probing a newly exposed, formerly snow-covered outcropping in Greenland claim they have discovered the oldest fossils ever seen, the remnants of microbial mats that lived 3.7 billion years ago.

It’s a stunning announcement in a scientific field that is always contentious. But if confirmed, this would push the established fossil record more than 200 million years deeper into the Earth’s early history, and provide support for the view that life appeared very soon after the Earth formed and may be commonplace throughout the universe. Read more at

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket just exploded at Cape Canaveral, destroying Facebook’s satellite

According to numerous eyewitness reports, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket just exploded during a test on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral. This rocket was set to launch on Saturday, Sept. 3 on a mission to deliver Facebook’s first satellite to orbit.

This rocket was scheduled to launch the Amos-6 communication satellite, which among other functions included the capabilities for Facebook to spot-beam broadband for Facebook’s initiative. Facebook and France-based satellite provider Eutelsat spent $95 million for a five-year lease on the satellite’s Ka-band communication array. Read more at

‘Marijuana Tampon’ Might Be the End of Your Period Cramps

Period cramps suck and can turn some women’s menstruation into a monthly encounter with severe and intense pain. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, at least half of all women who get their periods experience one or two days of cramping, and while women try lots of ways to relieve the issue, from Midol to acupuncture and beyond, not everything works for everyone, making almost any new proposed solution worth investigation. Enter Foria Relief, a THC-infused suppository that’s come to be known as the “weed tampon.” The company says it won’t get you—or your vagina—high, but it might be the cure for what menstrually ails you. Read more at

Environmental Innovations: Edible Cutlery Replaces Plastics

LABROOTS.COM–Hungry after you’ve already eaten the last spoonful? Eat the spoon! According to City Lab, 40 billion utensils per year are thrown out in the US after just one use; in India, it’s 120 billion. Most of these utensils are plastic, non-biodegradable plastics that sit for a thousand years in landfills waiting to decompose, or worse, form trash islands in the ocean. Such one-time use plastics are anything but sustainable and perpetuate “a mindset of disposability.”

That’s where Narayana Peesapaty’s idea for edible cutlery came from. A groundwater researcher and agriculture consultant based in Hyderabad, India, he’d grown frustrated with seeing mounds of plastic wares pile up in his country’s landfills, so he founded Bakeys to create the next frontier of sustainability. Read more at

New Alzheimer’s drug shows promise in small trial

SCIENCENEWS.ORG–An experimental drug swept sticky plaques from the brains of a small number of people with Alzheimer’s disease over the course of a year. And preliminary results hint that this cleanup may have staved off mental decline.

News about the new drug, an antibody called aducanumab, led to excitement as it trickled out of recent scientific meetings. A paper published online August 31 in Nature offers a more comprehensive look at the drug’s effects. Read more at

Tasmanian devils evolve resistance to contagious cancer

SCIENCENEWS.ORG–A few Tasmanian devils have started a resistance movement against a contagious cancer that has depleted their numbers.

Since devil facial tumor disease was first discovered in 1996, it has wiped out about 80 percent of the Tasmanian devil population. In some places, up to 95 percent of devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) have succumbed to facial tumors, spread when devils bite each other. Scientists had believed the tumor to be universally fatal. But a new study finds that a small number of devils carry genetic variants that help them survive the disease — at least long enough to reproduce, researchers report August 30 in Nature Communications. The finding could be important for the survival of the species. Read more at

If Kids Hate You, It’s Probably Because You’re Ugly (Says Science)

YOURTANGO.COM–The truth hurts. Do you ever wonder why kids are immediately attached to some people, whereas for others, they take one look at their face and end up crying hysterically? When it comes to honesty and frankness about what they’re thinking, most kids don’t hold back when it comes to their thoughts.

Elite Daily reported that a psychological study may have the answer as to why kids like and trust some people, and despise others. Depending on how kids react to you, this may either be good news or bad news. Read more at

How to Use the Feynman Technique to Identify Pseudoscience

BIGTHINK.COM–In late 2015, a study made headlines worldwide by bluntly demonstrating the human capacity to be misled by “pseudo-profound bullshit” from the likes of Deepak Chopra, infamous for making profound sounding yet entirely meaningless statements by abusing scientific language.

This is all well and good, but how are we supposed to know that we are being misled when we read a quote about quantum theory from someone like Chopra, if we don’t know the first thing about quantum mechanics? Read more at

Scientists discover a ‘dark’ Milky Way: Massive galaxy consists almost entirely of dark matter

PHYS.ORG–Using the world’s most powerful telescopes, an international team of astronomers has found a massive galaxy that consists almost entirely of dark matter. The galaxy, Dragonfly 44, is located in the nearby Coma constellation and had been overlooked until last year because of its unusual composition: It is a diffuse “blob” about the size of the Milky Way, but with far fewer stars.

“Very soon after its discovery, we realized this galaxy had to be more than meets the eye. It has so few stars that it would quickly be ripped apart unless something was holding it together,” said Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, lead author of a paper in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Read more at

Venus once possibly habitable, study suggests

Venus might have once been prime real estate. New computer simulations suggest that the hellish planet next door could have been habitable in the not-too-distant past, with moderate temperatures, plenty of seaside locales and even a few spots for skiing.

Modern Venus is harsh: sulfuric acid rain, crushing atmospheric pressure and a surface temperature around 460° Celsius. But if Venus maintained its glacial rotation rate for much of its history — one day lasts roughly 116 Earth days — then the average temperature could have been around 15° C as recently as 715 million years ago. The findings were published online August 11 in Geophysical Research Letters. Read more at

Visits to Proxima Centauri’s planet are probably millennia away

SCIENCENEWS.ORG–If you’d like to vacation at the newly found planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, you might want to reconsider. It’s nearby astronomically — a mere 4.2 light-years away — but still too far away for any plausible transportation technology to reach within the current millennium.

In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series before any human steps foot on Earth’s nearest exoplanetary neighbor (known as Proxima b). Unless P. Centaurian aliens arrive soon with a “To Serve Man” cookbook, your chances of visiting Proxima b before you die are about the same as sainthood for Ted Bundy. By the time anybody from here goes there, years will have five digits. Read more at

Paleontologists Discover Huge, Nearly Complete T. Rex Skull

HISTORY.COM–Two volunteer paleontologists have discovered one of the largest, best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons while working at a site in northern Montana. One of only 15 complete T. Rex skulls to be found, it arrived at Seattle’s Burke Museum earlier this week.

The skeleton was discovered at Montana’s Hell Creek Formation, a site that has produced a number of significant fossil finds in the past, including those of mammals, fish, reptiles and nearly a dozen additional dinosaur specimens. Luke Tufts and Jason Love, two volunteers from Seattle’s Burke Museum of National History and Culture, made the latest find on the final day of a dig in 2015, when they spotted the remains sticking out from a hillside. Scientists estimate they’ve recovered at least 20 percent of the T. rex’s skeleton, including portions of its pelvis, lower jaw and vertebrae, and believe future excavations at the site, planned for next summer, will yield additional finds. Read more at

Your Food Could Soon Come Packaged In Milk

POPULAR SCIENCE–Every time you open a package of processed cheese, you’re left with a useless sleeve of plastic with bits of cheese all over it. Where does it go? Straight to the garbage. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking to change all this with a new form of packaging, and it all stems from a pretty surprising place: milk. Yes, the very same milk you pour on your cereal in the morning or mix with chocolate syrup for a refreshing treat. More specifically, a milk protein called casein is the driver, which could be used in the future to develop a form of edible packaging that’s 500 times better at keeping food fresh than plastic. Plus, you could just eat it once you remove it from your meal. Read more at

16 fascinating science stories eclipsed by Donald Trump and the Olympics

WASHINGTON POST–U.S. presidential election years can feel like lost years for people who are interested in science. And the election-year summer Olympics only make it worse. Science doesn’t operate on four-year cycles — it just marches on, with discoveries, incremental advances, improved techniques, retractions, revisions, and an occasional scandal or “Eureka!” moment. But these days almost nobody is paying attention.

The only time science regularly gets worldwide notice is in October, when the Nobel Prizes are announced — the best week of the year. But that’s just a blip compared to the sustained and passionate attention people pay to presidential elections, this year more than ever. Read more at

Biologists are close to reinventing the genetic code of life

SCIENCE MAGAZINE–The term “life hacking” usually refers to clever tweaks that make your life more productive. But this week in Science, a team of scientists comes a step closer to the literal meaning: hacking the machinery of life itself. They have designed—though not completely assembled—a synthetic Escherichia coli genome that could use a protein-coding scheme different from the one employed by all known life. Requiring a staggering 62,000 DNA changes, the finished genome would be the most complicated genetic engineering feat so far. E. coli running this rewritten genome could become a new workhorse for laboratory experiments and a factory for new industrial chemicals, its creators predict. Read more at

Wormholes could finally unite two of history’s biggest physics theories

MIC.COM–New research may have found a solution to one of the biggest problems in physics.

Scientists have been trying for decades to reconcile Einstein’s theory of general relativity (the physics that govern large objects) and quantum mechanics (the physics that govern very small objects). Even though both theories are great at describing things in their own realm, the math doesn’t work out when you try to combine them.

Now scientists think that wormholes might be the solution, and they even have an equation to combine the two theories: ER = EPR. Read more at

Going Vegan Isn’t the Most Sustainable Option for Humanity

PBS–If you’ve decided to go vegan because you think it’s better for the planet, that might be true—but only to an extent.

A group of researchers has published a study in the journal Elementa in which they describe various biophysical simulation models that compare 10 eating patterns: the vegan diet, two vegetarian diets (one that includes dairy, the other dairy and eggs), four omnivorous diets (with varying degrees of vegetarian influence), one low in fats and sugars, and one similar to modern American dietary patterns. Read more at

Scientists Have Created Nanorobots That Can Travel Down the Bloodstream and Precisely Target Cancerous Tumors

SCIENCE NEWS JOURNAL–A new cancer research breakthrough has recently been developed thanks to researchers from McGill University, Université de Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal. The new nanorobots can travel down the bloodstream to administer drugs precisely by targeting a tumor’s cancer cells. This is the best way to inject medication since the integrity of the healthy tissues and organs won’t be jeopardized. This means that the dosage of the drug could be reduced, which is significant because the drug is very toxic for humans.

According to Professor Sylvain Martel, director and the head of the research team at Polytechnique Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory and the holder of the Medical Nanorobotics Canada Research Chair, these nanorobotic agents hold no less than 100 million bacteria, which are flagellated and self-propelled. These bacteria are full of drugs and take a direct path from the injection site to the part of the body that needs to be cured. The propelling force of the drug is strong enough to enter the tumors deeply and to travel efficiently. Read more at

This object may open up new solar system mysteries

ASTRONOMY.COM–There are plenty of weird objects in our solar system, but the newly discovered trans-Neptunian object (TNO) Niku might be one of the weirdest.

It’s not the composition of Niku that makes it strange. It seems to be a chunk of ice about 124 miles (200 km) in diameter, placing it at the lower threshhold of objects that might be considered dwarf planets. There are plenty of objects its size and its composition out in the Kuiper Belt and beyond. Read more at

Tethered drone could fly ‘forever’

REUTERS–An unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by engineers from the University of Southampton uses a powered tether to provide unlimited flight time for drones. The developers say it could offer a more cost-effective solution for aerial monitoring and surveillance than other options on the market.

The tethered drone system was a collaboration between the team from Southampton and security firm Cardinal Security, based in Essex, who wanted to build a low-cost observation platform for both military and civilian security operations. Read more at

Paralysis partly reversed using brain-machine interface training

REUTERS–Paraplegic patients recovered partial control and feeling in their limbs after training to use a variety of brain-machine interface technologies, according to new research published on Thursday in the journal “Scientific Reports.”

The researchers followed eight patients paralyzed by spinal cord injuries as they adapted to the use of the technologies, which convert brain activity into electric signals that power devices such as exoskeletons and robotic arms.  Read more at

Physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

PHYS.ORG–Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according to a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters by theoretical physicists at the University of California, Irvine.

“If true, it’s revolutionary,” said Jonathan Feng, professor of physics & astronomy. “For decades, we’ve known of four fundamental forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe, with consequences for the unification of forces and dark matter.”
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