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ChannelYahoo News - Latest News & Headlines    
RSS File: https://news.yahoo.com/rss/science
Description: The latest news and headlines from Yahoo! News. Get breaking news stories and in-depth coverage with videos and photos.
  • Spacewalking astronauts repairing cosmic ray detector      Fri, 22 Nov 2019 07:15:57 -0500

    Spacewalking astronauts repairing cosmic ray detectorSpacewalking astronauts ventured out for the second week in a row Friday to repair a cosmic ray detector, this time actually cutting into the $2 billion instrument. The International Space Station’s Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan needed to slice through eight stainless steel tubes, using hardware store-type bolt cutters. NASA likens the repair work to heart bypass surgery.


    Spacewalking astronauts repairing cosmic ray detectorSpacewalking astronauts ventured out for the second week in a row Friday to repair a cosmic ray detector, this time actually cutting into the $2 billion instrument. The International Space Station’s Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan needed to slice through eight stainless steel tubes, using hardware store-type bolt cutters. NASA likens the repair work to heart bypass surgery.


     

  • Over 80% of adolescents worldwide don’t get enough exercise, putting health at risk: Study      Fri, 22 Nov 2019 05:51:00 -0500

    Over 80% of adolescents worldwide don’t get enough exercise, putting health at risk: StudyA vast majority of adolescents around the world are not participating in enough exercise, putting their current and future health at risk, according to a new study. The study, conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization and published in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday, found that more than 80 percent of children aged 11 to 17 worldwide did not meet current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day. The United States had one of the biggest gaps between girls and boys, with over 80% of girls surveyed failing to engage in sufficient physical activity, compared to 64% of boys.


    Over 80% of adolescents worldwide don’t get enough exercise, putting health at risk: StudyA vast majority of adolescents around the world are not participating in enough exercise, putting their current and future health at risk, according to a new study. The study, conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization and published in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday, found that more than 80 percent of children aged 11 to 17 worldwide did not meet current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day. The United States had one of the biggest gaps between girls and boys, with over 80% of girls surveyed failing to engage in sufficient physical activity, compared to 64% of boys.


     

  • Boeing’s Starliner space taxi — and Rosie the Rocketeer — meet up with their rocket      Thu, 21 Nov 2019 15:30:48 -0500

    Boeing’s Starliner space taxi — and Rosie the Rocketeer — meet up with their rocketBoeing's CST-100 Starliner space taxi was moved to its Florida launch complex and set atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket today in preparation for next month's uncrewed test mission to the International Space Station. Why it matters: NASA is paying billions of dollars to Boeing for the development of Starliner as a commercial transport to carry astronauts to and from the station. The effort is years behind its original schedule, and it's cost more than originally planned, but Boeing's Dec. 17 test flight to and from the station is the last major hurdle before Starliner begins carrying people —… Read More


    Boeing’s Starliner space taxi — and Rosie the Rocketeer — meet up with their rocketBoeing's CST-100 Starliner space taxi was moved to its Florida launch complex and set atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket today in preparation for next month's uncrewed test mission to the International Space Station. Why it matters: NASA is paying billions of dollars to Boeing for the development of Starliner as a commercial transport to carry astronauts to and from the station. The effort is years behind its original schedule, and it's cost more than originally planned, but Boeing's Dec. 17 test flight to and from the station is the last major hurdle before Starliner begins carrying people —… Read More


     

  • Study suggests AI’s disruptive effect on jobs will hit higher on economic and education scales      Wed, 20 Nov 2019 17:56:12 -0500

    Study suggests AI’s disruptive effect on jobs will hit higher on economic and education scalesWhen experts talk about the disruptive effects of artificial intelligence, they tend to focus on low-paid laborers — but a newly published study suggests higher-paid, more highly educated workers will be increasingly exposed to job challenges. The study puts Seattle toward the top of the list for AI-related job disruption. The analysis, which draws on work by researchers at Stanford University and the Brookings Institution, makes use of a novel technique that connects AI-related patents with the job descriptions for different professions. Stanford researcher Michael Webb extracted entries from the tens of millions of patents in a Google database, as… Read More


    Study suggests AI’s disruptive effect on jobs will hit higher on economic and education scalesWhen experts talk about the disruptive effects of artificial intelligence, they tend to focus on low-paid laborers — but a newly published study suggests higher-paid, more highly educated workers will be increasingly exposed to job challenges. The study puts Seattle toward the top of the list for AI-related job disruption. The analysis, which draws on work by researchers at Stanford University and the Brookings Institution, makes use of a novel technique that connects AI-related patents with the job descriptions for different professions. Stanford researcher Michael Webb extracted entries from the tens of millions of patents in a Google database, as… Read More


     

  • NASA says much-anticipated meteor outburst could be a bust for the West Coast      Wed, 20 Nov 2019 13:57:53 -0500

    NASA says much-anticipated meteor outburst could be a bust for the West CoastSkywatchers say parts of the world could see a brief, brilliant meteor outburst known as the Alpha Monocerotids on Thursday night, but NASA notes that it'll be at the wrong time for the U.S. West Coast. Why it's a big deal: The meteor shower — which takes its name from the brightest star in the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn — is a rare beast. It yields significant shooting stars only when Earth's orbit runs through a particular patch of space, as it did in 1985 and 1995. This time around, meteor scientists Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen say the best-placed… Read More


    NASA says much-anticipated meteor outburst could be a bust for the West CoastSkywatchers say parts of the world could see a brief, brilliant meteor outburst known as the Alpha Monocerotids on Thursday night, but NASA notes that it'll be at the wrong time for the U.S. West Coast. Why it's a big deal: The meteor shower — which takes its name from the brightest star in the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn — is a rare beast. It yields significant shooting stars only when Earth's orbit runs through a particular patch of space, as it did in 1985 and 1995. This time around, meteor scientists Peter Jenniskens and Esko Lyytinen say the best-placed… Read More


     

  • Scientists detected the brightest light in the universe for the first time, following a mysterious explosion in space      Wed, 20 Nov 2019 13:00:00 -0500

    Scientists detected the brightest light in the universe for the first time, following a mysterious explosion in spaceAstronomers had 50 seconds to turn their telescopes toward a violent explosion in a galaxy 4 billion light-years away.


    Scientists detected the brightest light in the universe for the first time, following a mysterious explosion in spaceAstronomers had 50 seconds to turn their telescopes toward a violent explosion in a galaxy 4 billion light-years away.


     

  • NASA just detected water vapor on a moon of Jupiter — yet another clue that Europa's hidden ocean could hold alien life      Wed, 20 Nov 2019 07:15:00 -0500

    NASA just detected water vapor on a moon of Jupiter — yet another clue that Europa's hidden ocean could hold alien lifeAlien life could be hidden in the salty ocean below Europa's surface. An upcoming NASA spacecraft will hunt for more clues.


    NASA just detected water vapor on a moon of Jupiter — yet another clue that Europa's hidden ocean could hold alien lifeAlien life could be hidden in the salty ocean below Europa's surface. An upcoming NASA spacecraft will hunt for more clues.


     

  • How the Seattle area became a hotspot for satellite builders — and what comes next      Tue, 19 Nov 2019 19:23:47 -0500

    How the Seattle area became a hotspot for satellite builders — and what comes nextSeattle may not be the best place to put a launch pad, but the region is turning into one of the most prolific satellite production centers in the United States. "How many of you know that Washington state is actually one of the world's leading satellite manufacturers?" Roger Myers, a longtime aerospace executive who is currently president-elect of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, asked during a session of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region's Economic Leadership Forum on Monday. In terms of sheer mass and revenue, Colorado-based Lockheed Martin and Boeing's satellite operation in California still have bragging rights. But… Read More


    How the Seattle area became a hotspot for satellite builders — and what comes nextSeattle may not be the best place to put a launch pad, but the region is turning into one of the most prolific satellite production centers in the United States. "How many of you know that Washington state is actually one of the world's leading satellite manufacturers?" Roger Myers, a longtime aerospace executive who is currently president-elect of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, asked during a session of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region's Economic Leadership Forum on Monday. In terms of sheer mass and revenue, Colorado-based Lockheed Martin and Boeing's satellite operation in California still have bragging rights. But… Read More


     

  • A handful of new telescopes are about to transform the hunt for alien life and our understanding of the universe itself      Tue, 19 Nov 2019 08:43:00 -0500

    A handful of new telescopes are about to transform the hunt for alien life and our understanding of the universe itselfNASA and other space agencies are building telescopes that will study dark matter, measure the universe's expansion, and look for signs of alien life.


    A handful of new telescopes are about to transform the hunt for alien life and our understanding of the universe itselfNASA and other space agencies are building telescopes that will study dark matter, measure the universe's expansion, and look for signs of alien life.


     

  • NASA adds five companies, including Blue Origin and SpaceX, to moon delivery list      Mon, 18 Nov 2019 19:54:47 -0500

    NASA adds five companies, including Blue Origin and SpaceX, to moon delivery listAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture is among five companies that have just been cleared to deliver payloads to the moon for NASA. So is Elon Musk's SpaceX, which is offering its Starship super-rocket for lunar trips. Sierra Nevada Corp., Ceres Robotics and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems round out today's list, joining nine other commercial teams that were put into NASA's "catalog" for lunar delivery services a year ago. NASA has already picked two of those teams, headed by Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, to put science experiments on the moon in 2021. The next delivery orders in what NASA… Read More


    NASA adds five companies, including Blue Origin and SpaceX, to moon delivery listAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture is among five companies that have just been cleared to deliver payloads to the moon for NASA. So is Elon Musk's SpaceX, which is offering its Starship super-rocket for lunar trips. Sierra Nevada Corp., Ceres Robotics and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems round out today's list, joining nine other commercial teams that were put into NASA's "catalog" for lunar delivery services a year ago. NASA has already picked two of those teams, headed by Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, to put science experiments on the moon in 2021. The next delivery orders in what NASA… Read More


     

  • Hibernation Works for Bears. Could It Work for Us, Too?      Sat, 16 Nov 2019 10:17:48 -0500

    Hibernation Works for Bears. Could It Work for Us, Too?There are three major seasons in the life of a bear: the active season, beginning in May; a period of intense eating, in late September, and hibernation, from January into spring.Physiologically, the hibernation period is the strangest, and the most compelling, to researchers. When a bear hibernates, its metabolic rate and heart rate drop significantly. It does not defecate or urinate. The amount of nitrogen in its blood rises sharply, without damaging the kidneys or liver. The animal becomes resistant to insulin but doesn't suffer from fluctuations in its blood sugar levels.A human experiencing those conditions -- every year for several months at a time -- could easily end up with diabetes, obesity, bone loss, atrophied muscles or worse. But each spring the bear emerges no worse for wear, albeit a little groggy."Even when they are very fat, it's a healthy obesity," said Brian Barnes, who studies black bear hibernation in Alaska. "They don't suffer from the same kinds of pathologies that occur in people."Why not? A group of researchers at Washington State University published a study in Communications Biology in September that sought to better understand what goes on in the cells of hibernating grizzly bears. The university is home to the WSU Bear Center, the only grizzly bear research center in the United States; it houses 11 bears that were either raised in captivity or relocated to the center after being identified as problem bears in the wild.Researchers took samples from the liver, fat and muscle of six captive grizzly bears at three times during the year. In the lab, a team of researchers analyzed the DNA to understand the changes that occur in the cells over the course of the year."The effect of hibernation on each tissue is different," said Joanna Kelley, an evolutionary biologist at Washington State University and one of the paper's authors. "Hibernation is not just as simple as hibernating and not hibernating. There are transitional things happening throughout the year."The team found that the bears' fatty tissues changed the most during hibernation, whereas the muscle tissue hardly changed at all. The muscle cells remained active through the hibernation period, which might help explain why those tissues do not atrophy.Most surprising to Heiko Jansen, the study's lead author, was that the bears' fat contained a large number of genes that change their level of expression over the course of the year. "It's in the thousands," he said. In contrast, when dwarf lemurs in Madagascar hibernate, only a few hundred genes in their fat tissues change their level of expression seasonally."Hibernation isn't a one-size-fits-all phenomenon," Jansen said. "Different genes are utilized by different species."In the early days of hibernation studies, researchers were on the lookout for a physiological trigger, something singular and obvious that set the process in motion -- something, perhaps, that scientists could isolate and "inject into a non-hibernating animal, and have them fall over and go to sleep," said Charles Robbins, director of the WSU Bear Center. "Now we realize that there are an enormous number of genes changing."Other animals hibernate, too, like mountain pygmy possums in Australia, thirteen-lined ground squirrels in North American grasslands, and various species of bat. Their activity has long been of interest to researchers, who are eager to learn how a state of suspended animation might be applied to human health.Matt Andrews, a molecular biologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studied the biology of hibernating ground squirrels and later helped develop a treatment for hemorrhagic shock. In the early 2000s, during the military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Andrews learned that victims of roadside bombings were at high risk of death from blood loss. Such incidents are survivable if the patient has access to a tourniquet and transfusion, but in remote areas the victims could not reach help quickly enough.Andrews noticed that hibernating squirrels use melatonin, a potent antioxidant, to protect the cells when blood flow increases after months of inactivity. His team put together a cocktail of melatonin and ketones that might be injected into a person experiencing hemorrhagic shock, to reduce damage to tissues when blood supply returns. The treatment so far has passed tests with rats and pigs, and the team has met with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to plan future clinical trials.The physiology of hibernation might also be applicable to organ transplants. A waiting kidney or liver can be preserved in cold solutions for 24 hours, but after that it can't be used; a heart or a lung is only viable for four to six hours."Transplantations have to be very well planned out, and there's no such thing as organ banks," Andrews said. Individuals in need must wait for a donation. But if organs could be induced to enter something like hibernation, with a lower metabolic rate, that might allow organ donation banks to exist.Hibernation could also be handy during extraterrestrial travel. With current-day propulsion technology, a round trip to Mars takes about 2 1/2 years -- and a lot of food, air, water and medical supplies for the astronauts. Induced torpor might be just what humans need to get us permanently off our Earthbound behinds."We're a long way from that," Jansen said. "But we know we can manipulate the energetic profiles of a cell in cell cultures."Hibernation may yet be something that humans learn to master, fully or in part. In the meantime, wildlife researchers are keen to emphasize how important hibernation is to the survival of the animals that can already do it. "We are all better off having these animals in the wild," Jansen said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


    Hibernation Works for Bears. Could It Work for Us, Too?There are three major seasons in the life of a bear: the active season, beginning in May; a period of intense eating, in late September, and hibernation, from January into spring.Physiologically, the hibernation period is the strangest, and the most compelling, to researchers. When a bear hibernates, its metabolic rate and heart rate drop significantly. It does not defecate or urinate. The amount of nitrogen in its blood rises sharply, without damaging the kidneys or liver. The animal becomes resistant to insulin but doesn't suffer from fluctuations in its blood sugar levels.A human experiencing those conditions -- every year for several months at a time -- could easily end up with diabetes, obesity, bone loss, atrophied muscles or worse. But each spring the bear emerges no worse for wear, albeit a little groggy."Even when they are very fat, it's a healthy obesity," said Brian Barnes, who studies black bear hibernation in Alaska. "They don't suffer from the same kinds of pathologies that occur in people."Why not? A group of researchers at Washington State University published a study in Communications Biology in September that sought to better understand what goes on in the cells of hibernating grizzly bears. The university is home to the WSU Bear Center, the only grizzly bear research center in the United States; it houses 11 bears that were either raised in captivity or relocated to the center after being identified as problem bears in the wild.Researchers took samples from the liver, fat and muscle of six captive grizzly bears at three times during the year. In the lab, a team of researchers analyzed the DNA to understand the changes that occur in the cells over the course of the year."The effect of hibernation on each tissue is different," said Joanna Kelley, an evolutionary biologist at Washington State University and one of the paper's authors. "Hibernation is not just as simple as hibernating and not hibernating. There are transitional things happening throughout the year."The team found that the bears' fatty tissues changed the most during hibernation, whereas the muscle tissue hardly changed at all. The muscle cells remained active through the hibernation period, which might help explain why those tissues do not atrophy.Most surprising to Heiko Jansen, the study's lead author, was that the bears' fat contained a large number of genes that change their level of expression over the course of the year. "It's in the thousands," he said. In contrast, when dwarf lemurs in Madagascar hibernate, only a few hundred genes in their fat tissues change their level of expression seasonally."Hibernation isn't a one-size-fits-all phenomenon," Jansen said. "Different genes are utilized by different species."In the early days of hibernation studies, researchers were on the lookout for a physiological trigger, something singular and obvious that set the process in motion -- something, perhaps, that scientists could isolate and "inject into a non-hibernating animal, and have them fall over and go to sleep," said Charles Robbins, director of the WSU Bear Center. "Now we realize that there are an enormous number of genes changing."Other animals hibernate, too, like mountain pygmy possums in Australia, thirteen-lined ground squirrels in North American grasslands, and various species of bat. Their activity has long been of interest to researchers, who are eager to learn how a state of suspended animation might be applied to human health.Matt Andrews, a molecular biologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studied the biology of hibernating ground squirrels and later helped develop a treatment for hemorrhagic shock. In the early 2000s, during the military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Andrews learned that victims of roadside bombings were at high risk of death from blood loss. Such incidents are survivable if the patient has access to a tourniquet and transfusion, but in remote areas the victims could not reach help quickly enough.Andrews noticed that hibernating squirrels use melatonin, a potent antioxidant, to protect the cells when blood flow increases after months of inactivity. His team put together a cocktail of melatonin and ketones that might be injected into a person experiencing hemorrhagic shock, to reduce damage to tissues when blood supply returns. The treatment so far has passed tests with rats and pigs, and the team has met with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to plan future clinical trials.The physiology of hibernation might also be applicable to organ transplants. A waiting kidney or liver can be preserved in cold solutions for 24 hours, but after that it can't be used; a heart or a lung is only viable for four to six hours."Transplantations have to be very well planned out, and there's no such thing as organ banks," Andrews said. Individuals in need must wait for a donation. But if organs could be induced to enter something like hibernation, with a lower metabolic rate, that might allow organ donation banks to exist.Hibernation could also be handy during extraterrestrial travel. With current-day propulsion technology, a round trip to Mars takes about 2 1/2 years -- and a lot of food, air, water and medical supplies for the astronauts. Induced torpor might be just what humans need to get us permanently off our Earthbound behinds."We're a long way from that," Jansen said. "But we know we can manipulate the energetic profiles of a cell in cell cultures."Hibernation may yet be something that humans learn to master, fully or in part. In the meantime, wildlife researchers are keen to emphasize how important hibernation is to the survival of the animals that can already do it. "We are all better off having these animals in the wild," Jansen said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


     

  • A Black Hole Threw a Star Out of the Milky Way Galaxy      Sat, 16 Nov 2019 10:02:01 -0500

    A Black Hole Threw a Star Out of the Milky Way GalaxyThere are fastballs, and then there are cosmic fastballs. Now it seems that the strongest arm in our galaxy might belong to a supermassive black hole that lives smack in the middle of the Milky Way.Astronomers recently discovered a star whizzing out of the center of our galaxy at the seriously blinding speed of 4 million mph. The star, which goes by the typically inscrutable name S5-HVS1, is currently about 29,000 light-years from Earth, streaking through the Grus, or Crane, constellation in the southern sky. It is headed for the darkest, loneliest depths of intergalactic space.The runaway star was spotted by an international team of astronomers led by Ting Li of the Carnegie Observatories. They were using a telescope in Australia for a study known as the Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey -- the S5. The star is about twice as massive as our own sun and ten times more luminous, according to Li.Drawing on data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft, which has charted the positions and motions of some 1.3 billion stars in the Milky Way, the astronomers traced the streaking star back to the galactic center. That is the home of a black hole known as Sagittarius A*, a gravitational monster with the mass of 4 million suns.The astronomers hypothesize that the runaway star was once part of a double-star system that came too close to the black hole. One of the pair fell in, and the other was sling-shotted away at hyperspeed. The process, a three-body gravitational dance, was first predicted by Jack Hills, a theorist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in 1988.The dance with S5-HVS1 unfolded about 5 million years ago, according to Li and her team, which included Sergey Koposov of Carnegie Mellon University, lead author of a paper describing the results published Tuesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.The astronomers estimate that in about 100 million years the star will have exited the Milky Way entirely. It is yet another example of nature's ability to mix things up -- tossing comets from faraway stars into our solar system, and flinging ice, rock and who knows what else between the planets on asteroids.Out there, drifting among the other galaxies of the Local Group, far from the crowded circumstances of its birth, the star called S5-HVS1 will exhaust its thermonuclear fuel in about 2 billion years, blow up and die, alone. Like some people going off to college, say, some stars leave home and never come back.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


    A Black Hole Threw a Star Out of the Milky Way GalaxyThere are fastballs, and then there are cosmic fastballs. Now it seems that the strongest arm in our galaxy might belong to a supermassive black hole that lives smack in the middle of the Milky Way.Astronomers recently discovered a star whizzing out of the center of our galaxy at the seriously blinding speed of 4 million mph. The star, which goes by the typically inscrutable name S5-HVS1, is currently about 29,000 light-years from Earth, streaking through the Grus, or Crane, constellation in the southern sky. It is headed for the darkest, loneliest depths of intergalactic space.The runaway star was spotted by an international team of astronomers led by Ting Li of the Carnegie Observatories. They were using a telescope in Australia for a study known as the Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey -- the S5. The star is about twice as massive as our own sun and ten times more luminous, according to Li.Drawing on data from the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft, which has charted the positions and motions of some 1.3 billion stars in the Milky Way, the astronomers traced the streaking star back to the galactic center. That is the home of a black hole known as Sagittarius A*, a gravitational monster with the mass of 4 million suns.The astronomers hypothesize that the runaway star was once part of a double-star system that came too close to the black hole. One of the pair fell in, and the other was sling-shotted away at hyperspeed. The process, a three-body gravitational dance, was first predicted by Jack Hills, a theorist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in 1988.The dance with S5-HVS1 unfolded about 5 million years ago, according to Li and her team, which included Sergey Koposov of Carnegie Mellon University, lead author of a paper describing the results published Tuesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.The astronomers estimate that in about 100 million years the star will have exited the Milky Way entirely. It is yet another example of nature's ability to mix things up -- tossing comets from faraway stars into our solar system, and flinging ice, rock and who knows what else between the planets on asteroids.Out there, drifting among the other galaxies of the Local Group, far from the crowded circumstances of its birth, the star called S5-HVS1 will exhaust its thermonuclear fuel in about 2 billion years, blow up and die, alone. Like some people going off to college, say, some stars leave home and never come back.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


     

  • SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites could make astronomy on Earth 'impossible' and create a space-junk nightmare, some scientists warn      Sat, 16 Nov 2019 08:31:00 -0500

    SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites could make astronomy on Earth 'impossible' and create a space-junk nightmare, some scientists warnSpaceX recently launched 60 Starlink satellites as part of its plan to blanket Earth in high-speed internet. But scientists foresee some problems.


    SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites could make astronomy on Earth 'impossible' and create a space-junk nightmare, some scientists warnSpaceX recently launched 60 Starlink satellites as part of its plan to blanket Earth in high-speed internet. But scientists foresee some problems.


     

  • A Bay Area startup is working to make 'air meat' using protein-producing microbes discovered by NASA      Sat, 16 Nov 2019 08:19:00 -0500

    A Bay Area startup is working to make 'air meat' using protein-producing microbes discovered by NASANASA discovered that a class of microbes can turn CO2 into protein the same way plants do. The resulting powder could replace soy or pea protein.


    A Bay Area startup is working to make 'air meat' using protein-producing microbes discovered by NASANASA discovered that a class of microbes can turn CO2 into protein the same way plants do. The resulting powder could replace soy or pea protein.


     

  • NASA watchdog report sharpens debate over cost of SpaceX vs. Boeing spaceships      Fri, 15 Nov 2019 15:06:19 -0500

    NASA watchdog report sharpens debate over cost of SpaceX vs. Boeing spaceshipsBoeing is in line to get paid substantially more per seat than SpaceX for astronaut trips to the International Space Station, in part because it negotiated an increase in what was meant to be a fixed-cost contract, NASA's Office of the Inspector General says in a watchdog report. The 53-page report, issued Thursday, estimates the per-seat cost for flights on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule at $90 million, which would be more than the $84 million or so that NASA has been paying the Russians for rides on their Soyuz spacecraft. In contrast, the price for a seat on a SpaceX… Read More


    NASA watchdog report sharpens debate over cost of SpaceX vs. Boeing spaceshipsBoeing is in line to get paid substantially more per seat than SpaceX for astronaut trips to the International Space Station, in part because it negotiated an increase in what was meant to be a fixed-cost contract, NASA's Office of the Inspector General says in a watchdog report. The 53-page report, issued Thursday, estimates the per-seat cost for flights on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule at $90 million, which would be more than the $84 million or so that NASA has been paying the Russians for rides on their Soyuz spacecraft. In contrast, the price for a seat on a SpaceX… Read More


     

  • More than 50% of insects have disappeared since 1970, an ecologist warns — even more evidence of an 'insect apocalypse'      Thu, 14 Nov 2019 12:21:00 -0500

    More than 50% of insects have disappeared since 1970, an ecologist warns — even more evidence of an 'insect apocalypse'A new report reveals that 50% or more of insects have disappeared since 1970 due to habitat loss and pesticide use.


    More than 50% of insects have disappeared since 1970, an ecologist warns — even more evidence of an 'insect apocalypse'A new report reveals that 50% or more of insects have disappeared since 1970 due to habitat loss and pesticide use.


     

  • A troubling new study shows that legalizing marijuana is linked with an increase in problematic pot use among teens      Wed, 13 Nov 2019 21:38:52 -0500

    A troubling new study shows that legalizing marijuana is linked with an increase in problematic pot use among teensRecreational marijuana is legal in 11 states, and some Democratic presidential candidates have said the drug should become legal nationwide.


    A troubling new study shows that legalizing marijuana is linked with an increase in problematic pot use among teensRecreational marijuana is legal in 11 states, and some Democratic presidential candidates have said the drug should become legal nationwide.


     

  • SpaceX executes ground-based test firing for Crew Dragon’s launch escape system      Wed, 13 Nov 2019 18:22:31 -0500

    SpaceX executes ground-based test firing for Crew Dragon’s launch escape systemSpaceX went the distance today with a static-fire test of its Crew Dragon space taxi's launch escape system — the same type of test that ended in a costly explosion when it was conducted in April. A photo released after the firing shows the Crew Dragon's SuperDraco thrusters blazing away on the test stand at SpaceX's Florida facility. The full-duration firing brings the company one step closer to flying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station next year. "SpaceX and NASA teams are now reviewing test data and working toward an in-flight demonstration of Crew Dragon's launch escape system," SpaceX… Read More


    SpaceX executes ground-based test firing for Crew Dragon’s launch escape systemSpaceX went the distance today with a static-fire test of its Crew Dragon space taxi's launch escape system — the same type of test that ended in a costly explosion when it was conducted in April. A photo released after the firing shows the Crew Dragon's SuperDraco thrusters blazing away on the test stand at SpaceX's Florida facility. The full-duration firing brings the company one step closer to flying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station next year. "SpaceX and NASA teams are now reviewing test data and working toward an in-flight demonstration of Crew Dragon's launch escape system," SpaceX… Read More


     

  • ‘Ultima Thule’ no more: New Horizons’ space snowman is named Arrokoth      Tue, 12 Nov 2019 13:55:35 -0500

    ‘Ultima Thule’ no more: New Horizons’ space snowman is named ArrokothThe snowman-shaped object that NASA's New Horizons probe flew past nearly a year ago on the solar system's icy fringe now has a Native American name: Arrokoth, a word that means "sky" in the Powhatan/Algonquian language. Arrokoth replaces earlier labels for the Kuiper Belt object, including the numerical designation 2014 MU69 and the nickname Ultima Thule, which turned out to be rather controversial. Members of the New Horizons science team announced today that their proposed name has won approval by the International Astronomical Union and its Minor Planet Center. Before making the proposal, the scientists won the consent of elders… Read More


    ‘Ultima Thule’ no more: New Horizons’ space snowman is named ArrokothThe snowman-shaped object that NASA's New Horizons probe flew past nearly a year ago on the solar system's icy fringe now has a Native American name: Arrokoth, a word that means "sky" in the Powhatan/Algonquian language. Arrokoth replaces earlier labels for the Kuiper Belt object, including the numerical designation 2014 MU69 and the nickname Ultima Thule, which turned out to be rather controversial. Members of the New Horizons science team announced today that their proposed name has won approval by the International Astronomical Union and its Minor Planet Center. Before making the proposal, the scientists won the consent of elders… Read More


     

  • Hurricanes on the scale of Katrina and Harvey are now 3 times more likely than a century ago: 'We cannot hope to combat storms'      Mon, 11 Nov 2019 15:01:00 -0500

    Hurricanes on the scale of Katrina and Harvey are now 3 times more likely than a century ago: 'We cannot hope to combat storms'A new study reveals that extremely damaging hurricanes are becoming more frequent relative to moderate storms, likely due to climate change.


    Hurricanes on the scale of Katrina and Harvey are now 3 times more likely than a century ago: 'We cannot hope to combat storms'A new study reveals that extremely damaging hurricanes are becoming more frequent relative to moderate storms, likely due to climate change.


     

  • Mercury is traveling across the sun for the last time until 2032. Here's how to watch the rare transit.      Mon, 11 Nov 2019 11:41:00 -0500

    Mercury is traveling across the sun for the last time until 2032. Here's how to watch the rare transit.The Mercury transit won't appear in space again until 2032. But if you want to watch the event, don't look at the sun without protection.


    Mercury is traveling across the sun for the last time until 2032. Here's how to watch the rare transit.The Mercury transit won't appear in space again until 2032. But if you want to watch the event, don't look at the sun without protection.


     

  • Officials believe vitamin E oil is playing a pivotal role in the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses, after 39 deaths      Fri, 08 Nov 2019 13:05:00 -0500

    Officials believe vitamin E oil is playing a pivotal role in the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses, after 39 deathsInvestigators said vitamin E acetate, an ingredient found in canola, soy, and corn oil, appears to be playing a pivotal role in the spate of vaping-related lung illnesses during a call with reporters on Friday.


    Officials believe vitamin E oil is playing a pivotal role in the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses, after 39 deathsInvestigators said vitamin E acetate, an ingredient found in canola, soy, and corn oil, appears to be playing a pivotal role in the spate of vaping-related lung illnesses during a call with reporters on Friday.


     

  • When the Andromeda galaxy crashes into the Milky Way, this is what it could look like from Earth      Fri, 08 Nov 2019 08:57:00 -0500

    When the Andromeda galaxy crashes into the Milky Way, this is what it could look like from EarthThe Milky Way is on track to collide with the Andromeda galaxy in about 4 billion years. NASA images reveal what the night sky might look like.


    When the Andromeda galaxy crashes into the Milky Way, this is what it could look like from EarthThe Milky Way is on track to collide with the Andromeda galaxy in about 4 billion years. NASA images reveal what the night sky might look like.


     

  • Boeing traces problem with Starliner parachute system to an unsecured pin      Thu, 07 Nov 2019 16:38:48 -0500

    Boeing traces problem with Starliner parachute system to an unsecured pinFor want of a pin, the use of a spaceship's parachute was lost. That may be a simplistic way to explain why one of the three parachutes on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space taxi failed to open. It does, however, serve as a cautionary tale about the one obvious glitch in Monday's pad abort test of the Starliner, a craft that's due to start transporting NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station next year. Overall, the test was judged a success: The uncrewed Starliner fired the rocket engines on its launch abort system, slowed its descent with the aid… Read More


    Boeing traces problem with Starliner parachute system to an unsecured pinFor want of a pin, the use of a spaceship's parachute was lost. That may be a simplistic way to explain why one of the three parachutes on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space taxi failed to open. It does, however, serve as a cautionary tale about the one obvious glitch in Monday's pad abort test of the Starliner, a craft that's due to start transporting NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station next year. Overall, the test was judged a success: The uncrewed Starliner fired the rocket engines on its launch abort system, slowed its descent with the aid… Read More


     

  • Photos from space reveal what climate change looks like, from melting Arctic ice to rampant California fires      Thu, 07 Nov 2019 14:53:00 -0500

    Photos from space reveal what climate change looks like, from melting Arctic ice to rampant California firesExtreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires are linked to climate change. Such phenomena can be seen from space.


    Photos from space reveal what climate change looks like, from melting Arctic ice to rampant California firesExtreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires are linked to climate change. Such phenomena can be seen from space.


     

  • NASA cracks open a sample of moon soil that’s been shut away for four decades      Wed, 06 Nov 2019 18:39:11 -0500

    NASA cracks open a sample of moon soil that’s been shut away for four decadesFor the first time in more than 40 years, NASA has opened up a pristine sample of moon dirt and rocks that was collected during the Apollo missions. Scientists hope that a close analysis of the material from a 2-foot-long, nearly 2-inch-wide core sample will help astronauts get ready for a new series of Artemis moon missions in the 2020s. When Apollo's moonwalkers collected samples of lunar soil and rock, also known as regolith, some of those samples were tucked away at NASA's Johnson Space Center with the expectation that analytical tools would improve over the course of the decades… Read More


    NASA cracks open a sample of moon soil that’s been shut away for four decadesFor the first time in more than 40 years, NASA has opened up a pristine sample of moon dirt and rocks that was collected during the Apollo missions. Scientists hope that a close analysis of the material from a 2-foot-long, nearly 2-inch-wide core sample will help astronauts get ready for a new series of Artemis moon missions in the 2020s. When Apollo's moonwalkers collected samples of lunar soil and rock, also known as regolith, some of those samples were tucked away at NASA's Johnson Space Center with the expectation that analytical tools would improve over the course of the decades… Read More


     

  • 2019’s Allen Distinguished Investigators will focus on the mysteries of our cells      Wed, 06 Nov 2019 13:58:39 -0500

    2019’s Allen Distinguished Investigators will focus on the mysteries of our cellsThe Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of Seattle's Allen Institute, is making a total of $7.5 million in awards to its latest class of five biomedical researchers. The themes for this year's Allen Distinguished Investigators focus on stem cell therapies and single-cell interactions in their native environments. “The field of stem cell biology has the potential to change how we treat diseases by helping precision medicine, and there’s so much we still don’t understand about the interplay between cells in living tissues or organs,” Kathy Richmond, director of the Frontiers Group, said today in a news release. "Our… Read More


    2019’s Allen Distinguished Investigators will focus on the mysteries of our cellsThe Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of Seattle's Allen Institute, is making a total of $7.5 million in awards to its latest class of five biomedical researchers. The themes for this year's Allen Distinguished Investigators focus on stem cell therapies and single-cell interactions in their native environments. “The field of stem cell biology has the potential to change how we treat diseases by helping precision medicine, and there’s so much we still don’t understand about the interplay between cells in living tissues or organs,” Kathy Richmond, director of the Frontiers Group, said today in a news release. "Our… Read More


     

  • Spaceflight and Rocket Lab will put a Japanese shooting-star satellite into orbit      Wed, 06 Nov 2019 00:11:31 -0500

    Spaceflight and Rocket Lab will put a Japanese shooting-star satellite into orbitSeattle-based Spaceflight says it's handling the pre-launch logistics for a Japanese satellite that's designed to spray artificial shooting stars into the sky. Tokyo-based ALE's spacecraft is just one of seven satellites due to be sent into orbit from New Zealand as early as Nov. 25, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle. It'll be the 10th Electron launch, earning the nickname "Running Out of Fingers." It'll also be the first launch to test the guidance and navigation hardware as well as the sensors that Rocket Lab will eventually use to help make the Electron's first stage recoverable. No recovery will… Read More


    Spaceflight and Rocket Lab will put a Japanese shooting-star satellite into orbitSeattle-based Spaceflight says it's handling the pre-launch logistics for a Japanese satellite that's designed to spray artificial shooting stars into the sky. Tokyo-based ALE's spacecraft is just one of seven satellites due to be sent into orbit from New Zealand as early as Nov. 25, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle. It'll be the 10th Electron launch, earning the nickname "Running Out of Fingers." It'll also be the first launch to test the guidance and navigation hardware as well as the sensors that Rocket Lab will eventually use to help make the Electron's first stage recoverable. No recovery will… Read More


     

  • Boeing proposes lunar lander for NASA crews, rivaling Blue Origin (and SpaceX?)      Tue, 05 Nov 2019 21:26:46 -0500

    Boeing proposes lunar lander for NASA crews, rivaling Blue Origin (and SpaceX?)Boeing says it has submitted its proposal for a lunar lander capable of putting astronauts on the moon by as early as 2024, joining a competition that includes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture and most likely SpaceX as well. Today marked the deadline for submissions. NASA says it's aiming to select at least two proposed landing systems by January for further development. Two separate teams could be selected to build landers for moon missions in 2024 and 2025. NASA envisions a system that includes a transfer vehicle to ferry a lander from a lunar-orbiting Gateway outpost to… Read More


    Boeing proposes lunar lander for NASA crews, rivaling Blue Origin (and SpaceX?)Boeing says it has submitted its proposal for a lunar lander capable of putting astronauts on the moon by as early as 2024, joining a competition that includes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture and most likely SpaceX as well. Today marked the deadline for submissions. NASA says it's aiming to select at least two proposed landing systems by January for further development. Two separate teams could be selected to build landers for moon missions in 2024 and 2025. NASA envisions a system that includes a transfer vehicle to ferry a lander from a lunar-orbiting Gateway outpost to… Read More


     

  • Why Didn't She Get Alzheimer's? The Answer Could Hold a Key to Fighting the Disease      Tue, 05 Nov 2019 07:59:35 -0500

    Why Didn't She Get Alzheimer's? The Answer Could Hold a Key to Fighting the DiseaseThe woman's genetic profile showed she would develop Alzheimer's by the time she turned 50.A member of the world's largest family to suffer from Alzheimer's, she, like generations of her relatives, was born with a gene mutation that causes people to begin having memory and thinking problems in their 40s and deteriorate rapidly toward death around age 60.But remarkably, she experienced no cognitive decline at all until her 70s, nearly three decades later than expected.How did that happen? New research provides an answer, one that experts say could change the scientific understanding of Alzheimer's disease and inspire new ideas about how to prevent and treat it.In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers say the woman, whose name they withheld to protect her privacy, has another mutation that has protected her from dementia even though her brain has developed a major neurological feature of Alzheimer's disease.This ultra rare mutation appears to help stave off the disease by minimizing the binding of a particular sugar compound to an important gene. That finding suggests that treatments could be developed to give other people that same protective mechanism."I'm very excited to see this new study come out -- the impact is dramatic," said Dr. Yadong Huang, a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes, who was not involved in the research. "For both research and therapeutic development, this new finding is very important."A drug or gene therapy would not be available any time soon because scientists first need to replicate the protective mechanism found in this one patient by testing it in laboratory animals and human brain cells.Still, this case comes at a time when the Alzheimer's field is craving new approaches after billions of dollars have been spent on developing and testing treatments and some 200 drug trials have failed. It has been more than 15 years since the last treatment for dementia was approved, and the few drugs available do not work very well for very long.The woman is entering her late 70s now and lives in Medellin, the epicenter for an extended Colombian family of about 6,000 people whose members have been plagued with dementia for centuries, a condition they called "La Bobera" -- "the foolishness" -- and attributed to superstitious causes.Decades ago, a Colombian neurologist, Dr. Francisco Lopera, began painstakingly collecting the family's birth and death records in Medellin and remote Andes mountain villages. He documented the sprawling family tree and took dangerous risks in guerrilla and drug-trafficking territory to cajole relatives of people who died with dementia into giving him their brains for analysis.Through this work, Lopera, whose brain bank at the University of Antioquia now contains 300 brains, helped discover that their Alzheimer's was caused by a mutation on a gene called Presenilin 1.While this type of hereditary early-onset dementia accounts for only a small proportion of the roughly 30 million people worldwide with Alzheimer's, it is important because unlike most forms of Alzheimer's, the Colombian version has been traced to a specific cause and a consistent pattern. So Lopera and a team of American scientists have spent years studying the family, searching for answers both to help the Colombians and to address the mounting epidemic of the more typical old-age Alzheimer's disease.When they found that the woman had the Presenilin 1 mutation, but had not yet even developed a pre-Alzheimer's condition called mild cognitive impairment, the scientists were mystified."We have a single person who is resilient to Alzheimer's disease when she should be at high risk," said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix and a leader of the research team.The woman was flown to Boston, where some of the researchers are based, for brain scans and other tests. Those results were puzzling, said Yakeel Quiroz, a Colombian neuropsychologist who directs the familial dementia neuroimaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.The woman's brain was laden with the foremost hallmark of Alzheimer's: plaques of amyloid protein."The highest levels of amyloid that we have seen so far," said Quiroz, adding that the excessive amyloid probably accumulated because the woman has lived much longer than other family members with the Alzheimer's-causing mutation.But the woman had few other neurological signs of the disease -- not much of a protein called tau, which forms tangles in Alzheimer's brains, and little neurodegeneration or brain atrophy."Her brain was functioning really well," said Quiroz, who, like Reiman, is a senior author of the study. "Compared to people who are 45 or 50, she's actually better."She said the woman, who raised four children, had only one year of formal education and could barely read or write, so it was unlikely her cognitive protection came from educational stimulation."She has a secret in her biology," Lopera said. "This case is a big window to discover new approaches."Quiroz consulted Dr. Joseph Arboleda-Velasquez, who, like her, is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School (he is also Quiroz's husband). Arboleda-Velasquez, a cell biologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, conducted extensive genetic testing and sequencing, determining that the woman has an extremely rare mutation on a gene called APOE.APOE is important in general-population Alzheimer's. One variant, APOE4, present in about 14% of people, greatly increases risk and is present in 40% of people with Alzheimer's. People with another variant, APOE2, occurring in about 7% of the population, are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, while those with the most common variant, APOE3, are in the middle.The Colombian woman has two copies of APOE3, but both copies have a mutation called Christchurch (for the New Zealand city where it was discovered). The Christchurch mutation is extremely rare, but several years ago, Reiman's daughter Rebecca, a technologist, helped determine that a handful of Colombian family members have that mutation on one of their APOE genes. They developed Alzheimer's as early as their relatives, though -- unlike the woman with mutations on both APOE genes."The fact that she had two copies, not just one, really kind of sealed the deal," Arboleda-Velasquez said.The woman's mutation is in an area of the APOE gene that binds with a sugar-protein compound called heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), which is involved in spreading tau in Alzheimer's disease.In laboratory experiments, the researchers found that the less a variant of APOE binds to HSPG, the less it is linked to Alzheimer's. With the Christchurch mutation, there was barely any binding.That, said Arboleda-Velasquez, "was the piece that completed the puzzle because, 'Oh, this is how the mutation has such a strong effect.'"Researchers were also able to develop a compound that, in laboratory dish experiments, mimicked the action of the mutation, suggesting it's possible to make drugs that prevent APOE from binding to HSPG.Dr. Guojun Bu, who studies APOE, said that while the findings involved a single case and more research is needed, the implications could be profound."When you have delayed onset of Alzheimer's by three decades, you say wow," said Bu, chairman of the neuroscience department at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, who was not involved in the study.He said the research suggests that instead of drugs attacking amyloid or tau, which have failed in many clinical trials, a medication or gene therapy targeting APOE could be promising.Reiman, who led another newly published study showing that APOE has a bigger impact on a person's risk of getting Alzheimer's than previously thought, said potential treatments could try to reduce or even silence APOE activity in the brain. People born without APOE appear to have no cognitive problems, but they do have very high cholesterol that requires treatment.Huang, who wrote a commentary about the study and is affiliated with two companies focusing on potential APOE-related treatments, said the findings also challenge a leading Alzheimer's theory about the role of amyloid.Since the woman had huge amounts of amyloid but few other Alzheimer's indicators, "it actually illustrates, to my knowledge for the first time, a very clear dissociation of amyloid accumulation from tau pathology, neurodegeneration and even cognitive decline," he said.Lopera said the woman is just beginning to develop dementia, and he recently disclosed her genetic profile to her four adult children, who each have only one copy of the Christchurch mutation.The researchers are also evaluating a few other members of the Colombian family, who appear to also have some resistance to Alzheimer's. They are not as old as the woman, and they do not have the Christchurch mutation, but the team hopes to find other genetic factors from studying them and examine whether those factors operate along the same or different biological pathways, Reiman said."We've learned that at least one individual can live for very long having the cause of Alzheimer's, and she's resistant to it," Arboleda-Velasquez said. "What this patient is teaching is there could be a pathway for correcting the disease."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


    Why Didn't She Get Alzheimer's? The Answer Could Hold a Key to Fighting the DiseaseThe woman's genetic profile showed she would develop Alzheimer's by the time she turned 50.A member of the world's largest family to suffer from Alzheimer's, she, like generations of her relatives, was born with a gene mutation that causes people to begin having memory and thinking problems in their 40s and deteriorate rapidly toward death around age 60.But remarkably, she experienced no cognitive decline at all until her 70s, nearly three decades later than expected.How did that happen? New research provides an answer, one that experts say could change the scientific understanding of Alzheimer's disease and inspire new ideas about how to prevent and treat it.In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers say the woman, whose name they withheld to protect her privacy, has another mutation that has protected her from dementia even though her brain has developed a major neurological feature of Alzheimer's disease.This ultra rare mutation appears to help stave off the disease by minimizing the binding of a particular sugar compound to an important gene. That finding suggests that treatments could be developed to give other people that same protective mechanism."I'm very excited to see this new study come out -- the impact is dramatic," said Dr. Yadong Huang, a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes, who was not involved in the research. "For both research and therapeutic development, this new finding is very important."A drug or gene therapy would not be available any time soon because scientists first need to replicate the protective mechanism found in this one patient by testing it in laboratory animals and human brain cells.Still, this case comes at a time when the Alzheimer's field is craving new approaches after billions of dollars have been spent on developing and testing treatments and some 200 drug trials have failed. It has been more than 15 years since the last treatment for dementia was approved, and the few drugs available do not work very well for very long.The woman is entering her late 70s now and lives in Medellin, the epicenter for an extended Colombian family of about 6,000 people whose members have been plagued with dementia for centuries, a condition they called "La Bobera" -- "the foolishness" -- and attributed to superstitious causes.Decades ago, a Colombian neurologist, Dr. Francisco Lopera, began painstakingly collecting the family's birth and death records in Medellin and remote Andes mountain villages. He documented the sprawling family tree and took dangerous risks in guerrilla and drug-trafficking territory to cajole relatives of people who died with dementia into giving him their brains for analysis.Through this work, Lopera, whose brain bank at the University of Antioquia now contains 300 brains, helped discover that their Alzheimer's was caused by a mutation on a gene called Presenilin 1.While this type of hereditary early-onset dementia accounts for only a small proportion of the roughly 30 million people worldwide with Alzheimer's, it is important because unlike most forms of Alzheimer's, the Colombian version has been traced to a specific cause and a consistent pattern. So Lopera and a team of American scientists have spent years studying the family, searching for answers both to help the Colombians and to address the mounting epidemic of the more typical old-age Alzheimer's disease.When they found that the woman had the Presenilin 1 mutation, but had not yet even developed a pre-Alzheimer's condition called mild cognitive impairment, the scientists were mystified."We have a single person who is resilient to Alzheimer's disease when she should be at high risk," said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix and a leader of the research team.The woman was flown to Boston, where some of the researchers are based, for brain scans and other tests. Those results were puzzling, said Yakeel Quiroz, a Colombian neuropsychologist who directs the familial dementia neuroimaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.The woman's brain was laden with the foremost hallmark of Alzheimer's: plaques of amyloid protein."The highest levels of amyloid that we have seen so far," said Quiroz, adding that the excessive amyloid probably accumulated because the woman has lived much longer than other family members with the Alzheimer's-causing mutation.But the woman had few other neurological signs of the disease -- not much of a protein called tau, which forms tangles in Alzheimer's brains, and little neurodegeneration or brain atrophy."Her brain was functioning really well," said Quiroz, who, like Reiman, is a senior author of the study. "Compared to people who are 45 or 50, she's actually better."She said the woman, who raised four children, had only one year of formal education and could barely read or write, so it was unlikely her cognitive protection came from educational stimulation."She has a secret in her biology," Lopera said. "This case is a big window to discover new approaches."Quiroz consulted Dr. Joseph Arboleda-Velasquez, who, like her, is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School (he is also Quiroz's husband). Arboleda-Velasquez, a cell biologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, conducted extensive genetic testing and sequencing, determining that the woman has an extremely rare mutation on a gene called APOE.APOE is important in general-population Alzheimer's. One variant, APOE4, present in about 14% of people, greatly increases risk and is present in 40% of people with Alzheimer's. People with another variant, APOE2, occurring in about 7% of the population, are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, while those with the most common variant, APOE3, are in the middle.The Colombian woman has two copies of APOE3, but both copies have a mutation called Christchurch (for the New Zealand city where it was discovered). The Christchurch mutation is extremely rare, but several years ago, Reiman's daughter Rebecca, a technologist, helped determine that a handful of Colombian family members have that mutation on one of their APOE genes. They developed Alzheimer's as early as their relatives, though -- unlike the woman with mutations on both APOE genes."The fact that she had two copies, not just one, really kind of sealed the deal," Arboleda-Velasquez said.The woman's mutation is in an area of the APOE gene that binds with a sugar-protein compound called heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), which is involved in spreading tau in Alzheimer's disease.In laboratory experiments, the researchers found that the less a variant of APOE binds to HSPG, the less it is linked to Alzheimer's. With the Christchurch mutation, there was barely any binding.That, said Arboleda-Velasquez, "was the piece that completed the puzzle because, 'Oh, this is how the mutation has such a strong effect.'"Researchers were also able to develop a compound that, in laboratory dish experiments, mimicked the action of the mutation, suggesting it's possible to make drugs that prevent APOE from binding to HSPG.Dr. Guojun Bu, who studies APOE, said that while the findings involved a single case and more research is needed, the implications could be profound."When you have delayed onset of Alzheimer's by three decades, you say wow," said Bu, chairman of the neuroscience department at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, who was not involved in the study.He said the research suggests that instead of drugs attacking amyloid or tau, which have failed in many clinical trials, a medication or gene therapy targeting APOE could be promising.Reiman, who led another newly published study showing that APOE has a bigger impact on a person's risk of getting Alzheimer's than previously thought, said potential treatments could try to reduce or even silence APOE activity in the brain. People born without APOE appear to have no cognitive problems, but they do have very high cholesterol that requires treatment.Huang, who wrote a commentary about the study and is affiliated with two companies focusing on potential APOE-related treatments, said the findings also challenge a leading Alzheimer's theory about the role of amyloid.Since the woman had huge amounts of amyloid but few other Alzheimer's indicators, "it actually illustrates, to my knowledge for the first time, a very clear dissociation of amyloid accumulation from tau pathology, neurodegeneration and even cognitive decline," he said.Lopera said the woman is just beginning to develop dementia, and he recently disclosed her genetic profile to her four adult children, who each have only one copy of the Christchurch mutation.The researchers are also evaluating a few other members of the Colombian family, who appear to also have some resistance to Alzheimer's. They are not as old as the woman, and they do not have the Christchurch mutation, but the team hopes to find other genetic factors from studying them and examine whether those factors operate along the same or different biological pathways, Reiman said."We've learned that at least one individual can live for very long having the cause of Alzheimer's, and she's resistant to it," Arboleda-Velasquez said. "What this patient is teaching is there could be a pathway for correcting the disease."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


     

  • NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft beamed back unprecedented data from interstellar space. It indicates a mysterious extra layer outside our solar system.      Mon, 04 Nov 2019 17:21:00 -0500

    NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft beamed back unprecedented data from interstellar space. It indicates a mysterious extra layer outside our solar system.Voyager 2 sent data about the edge of the solar system back to Earth. NASA scientists say it presents a new puzzle about what's beyond the heliopause.


    NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft beamed back unprecedented data from interstellar space. It indicates a mysterious extra layer outside our solar system.Voyager 2 sent data about the edge of the solar system back to Earth. NASA scientists say it presents a new puzzle about what's beyond the heliopause.


     

  • NASA is ‘thrilled’ with pad abort test for Boeing’s Starliner space taxi despite parachute glitch      Mon, 04 Nov 2019 13:50:07 -0500

    NASA is ‘thrilled’ with pad abort test for Boeing’s Starliner space taxi despite parachute glitchBoeing cleared a key milestone for launching NASA astronauts on its CST-100 Starliner space taxi today by executing an end-to-end test of its rocket-powered launch abort system — a test that did what it needed to do even though one of the craft's three parachutes didn't open. Data from the pad abort test at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico will be fully analyzed in advance of an uncrewed Starliner mission to the International Space Station and back, currently scheduled for a Dec. 17 launch, Boeing and NASA said. “Tests like this one are crucial to… Read More


    NASA is ‘thrilled’ with pad abort test for Boeing’s Starliner space taxi despite parachute glitchBoeing cleared a key milestone for launching NASA astronauts on its CST-100 Starliner space taxi today by executing an end-to-end test of its rocket-powered launch abort system — a test that did what it needed to do even though one of the craft's three parachutes didn't open. Data from the pad abort test at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico will be fully analyzed in advance of an uncrewed Starliner mission to the International Space Station and back, currently scheduled for a Dec. 17 launch, Boeing and NASA said. “Tests like this one are crucial to… Read More


     

  • Cygnus cargo ship heads to space station with satellite built by students in Seattle      Sat, 02 Nov 2019 10:06:47 -0400

    Cygnus cargo ship heads to space station with satellite built by students in SeattleNorthrop Grumman launched a robotic Cygnus cargo capsule to the International Space Station today, marking one giant leap for a small satellite built by students at the University of Washington and Seattle's Raisbeck Aviation High School. The 7-pound HuskySat-1 was among 8,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and scientific payloads packed aboard the Cygnus for liftoff atop Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket at 9:59 a.m. ET (6:59 a.m. PT) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast. Hundreds of onlookers cheered as the rocket rose into sunny skies after a trouble-free countdown. "Good launch all the way around," launch conductor Adam… Read More


    Cygnus cargo ship heads to space station with satellite built by students in SeattleNorthrop Grumman launched a robotic Cygnus cargo capsule to the International Space Station today, marking one giant leap for a small satellite built by students at the University of Washington and Seattle's Raisbeck Aviation High School. The 7-pound HuskySat-1 was among 8,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and scientific payloads packed aboard the Cygnus for liftoff atop Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket at 9:59 a.m. ET (6:59 a.m. PT) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast. Hundreds of onlookers cheered as the rocket rose into sunny skies after a trouble-free countdown. "Good launch all the way around," launch conductor Adam… Read More


     

  • Happy Halloween from Hubble Telescope: Otherworldly ‘eyes’ glow in ghostly galaxy      Thu, 31 Oct 2019 13:48:25 -0400

    Happy Halloween from Hubble Telescope: Otherworldly ‘eyes’ glow in ghostly galaxyNow here's something really scary for Halloween: Imagine two galaxies slamming into each other and creating a monstrous wraith with ghostly glowing eyes. It's not that far of a stretch. The Hubble Space Telescope captured just such an image, for a team of astronomers based at the University of Washington. The visible-light picture, taken in June by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows a galactic smash-up that took place about 700 million light-years away in the constellation Microscopium. The cosmic collision is known as Arp-Madore 2026-424 or AM 2026-424, because it's noted that way in the Arp-Madore Catalogue of Southern… Read More


    Happy Halloween from Hubble Telescope: Otherworldly ‘eyes’ glow in ghostly galaxyNow here's something really scary for Halloween: Imagine two galaxies slamming into each other and creating a monstrous wraith with ghostly glowing eyes. It's not that far of a stretch. The Hubble Space Telescope captured just such an image, for a team of astronomers based at the University of Washington. The visible-light picture, taken in June by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows a galactic smash-up that took place about 700 million light-years away in the constellation Microscopium. The cosmic collision is known as Arp-Madore 2026-424 or AM 2026-424, because it's noted that way in the Arp-Madore Catalogue of Southern… Read More


     

  • Scientists track the arms race that’s playing out between bacteria in your gut      Wed, 30 Oct 2019 23:44:03 -0400

    Scientists track the arms race that’s playing out between bacteria in your gutThe balance of bacteria in your gut can make the difference between sickness and health — and now scientists report that different species of bacteria share immunity genes to protect themselves against each other's toxins and maintain their balance of power. In effect, closely related species of bacteria acquire each other's defense systems to fend off threats from alien invaders. The findings appear in a paper published today in the journal Nature. The senior authors are Joseph Mougous, a microbiology professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine; and Elhanan Borenstein, a former UW Medicine geneticist who now works… Read More


    Scientists track the arms race that’s playing out between bacteria in your gutThe balance of bacteria in your gut can make the difference between sickness and health — and now scientists report that different species of bacteria share immunity genes to protect themselves against each other's toxins and maintain their balance of power. In effect, closely related species of bacteria acquire each other's defense systems to fend off threats from alien invaders. The findings appear in a paper published today in the journal Nature. The senior authors are Joseph Mougous, a microbiology professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine; and Elhanan Borenstein, a former UW Medicine geneticist who now works… Read More


     

  • Thousands of animals around the world are at risk of extinction. But not jellyfish — they're thriving in warm, polluted water.      Wed, 30 Oct 2019 18:17:00 -0400

    Thousands of animals around the world are at risk of extinction. But not jellyfish — they're thriving in warm, polluted water.Half a million of Earth's species may soon be vulnerable to extinction, according to the UN. Jellyfish, however, are proliferating in warmer waters.


    Thousands of animals around the world are at risk of extinction. But not jellyfish — they're thriving in warm, polluted water.Half a million of Earth's species may soon be vulnerable to extinction, according to the UN. Jellyfish, however, are proliferating in warmer waters.


     

  • Allen Institute maps out a high-resolution ‘org chart’ for connections in the brain      Wed, 30 Oct 2019 14:00:39 -0400

    Allen Institute maps out a high-resolution ‘org chart’ for connections in the brainResearchers at Seattle's Allen Institute say a new and improved map of the mouse brain reveals not only how different regions are connected, but how those connections are ordered in a hierarchical way. They add that the mapping techniques behind their study, which was published today by the journal Nature, could shed light on how diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or schizophrenia tangle up connections in the human brain. The map produced by the study is technically known as a medium-scale "connectome." It's been variously compared to a wiring diagram, organizational chart or subway map for the brain. An initial version… Read More


    Allen Institute maps out a high-resolution ‘org chart’ for connections in the brainResearchers at Seattle's Allen Institute say a new and improved map of the mouse brain reveals not only how different regions are connected, but how those connections are ordered in a hierarchical way. They add that the mapping techniques behind their study, which was published today by the journal Nature, could shed light on how diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or schizophrenia tangle up connections in the human brain. The map produced by the study is technically known as a medium-scale "connectome." It's been variously compared to a wiring diagram, organizational chart or subway map for the brain. An initial version… Read More


     

  • Far more people are threatened by rising seas than scientists realized, a study shows: 'The magnitude of the numbers speaks for itself'      Tue, 29 Oct 2019 12:00:00 -0400

    Far more people are threatened by rising seas than scientists realized, a study shows: 'The magnitude of the numbers speaks for itself'A new study suggests that far more people could experience the consequences of coastal flooding than earlier estimates suggested.


    Far more people are threatened by rising seas than scientists realized, a study shows: 'The magnitude of the numbers speaks for itself'A new study suggests that far more people could experience the consequences of coastal flooding than earlier estimates suggested.


     

  • New TB Vaccine Could Save Millions of Lives, Study Suggests      Tue, 29 Oct 2019 08:11:00 -0400

    New TB Vaccine Could Save Millions of Lives, Study SuggestsIn what may be a watershed moment in the fight against tuberculosis, the world's most lethal infectious disease, an experimental new vaccine has protected about half the people who got it, scientists reported Tuesday.While a 50% success rate is hardly ideal -- the measles vaccine, by contrast, is about 98% protective -- about 10 million people get tuberculosis each year, and 1.6 million die of it. Even a partly effective vaccine may save millions of lives.A year ago, when preliminary trial results of the new vaccine were released, the World Health Organization called it "a major scientific breakthrough."Researchers not involved in the vaccine's development were enthusiastic about the latest results, but said it needed to be studied in more people and in different populations."The vaccine looks promising, and likely better than our century-old BCG vaccine," said Dr. Mario C. Raviglione, a global health expert at the University of Milan who headed the WHO's global tuberculosis program from 2003 to 2017.BCG, which is not used in the United States, protects infants against some types of tuberculosis, but does not protect adolescents or adults against the form that attacks the lungs, which is the most common type.Tuberculosis patients suffer fevers and night sweats, lose weight, cough up blood and, if left treated, ultimately die. Five years ago, tuberculosis surpassed AIDS as the deadliest infectious disease worldwide.The new vaccine, made by GSK and now known as M72/AS01E, was tested in about 3,300 adults in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia. All of them already had latent tuberculosis -- a silent infection that might or might not progress to active tuberculosis.Of those who got two doses of the GSK vaccine, only 13 developed active tuberculosis during three years of follow-up, according to the new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. By contrast, 26 of those who got a placebo progressed to active tuberculosis.Dr. Nazir Ismail, chief of tuberculosis research at South Africa's National Institute of Communicable Diseases, called the vaccine's 50% effectiveness "reasonably good."Giving two shots one month apart, he pointed out, is simpler than current prevention practice, which requires that patients take protective antibiotics every day for a month.Also, using antibiotics for prevention increases the risk that antibiotic-resistant TB will appear, while a vaccine does not.Because so many people die of tuberculosis, Dr. Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership that buys vaccines for poor countries, said his agency would "certainly give the vaccine a hard look."Gavi already supports some vaccines that are only partly effective, he noted. For example, some vaccines for human papillomavirus, or HPV, stop only 70% of the strains of the cancer-causing virus, and a new malaria vaccine being field-tested in Africa is only 39% effective.An important question raised by the study, researchers said, is who should receive the vaccine.Tuberculosis rates vary enormously not just between countries, but even from neighborhood to neighborhood. The disease thrives in people who live in crowded conditions, inhaling one another's germs, and the bacterium dies quickly in sunlight.Tuberculosis can be transmitted even through something as simple as a cough on a crowded bus. But the people at the highest risk include family members of patients with active tuberculosis, the doctors and nurses caring for them and, in countries where tuberculosis is common, people living or working in crowded conditions, such as prisoners and miners.But in any country, people are also at risk of infection if they have HIV, are severely malnourished, are taking immune-suppressive cancer chemotherapy or organ-transplant drugs, have diabetes or are on dialysis.The new study, however, tested the vaccine only in people who were HIV-negative and whose blood tests showed they had latent tuberculosis.But at least a quarter of the world's population would come up positive for latent tuberculosis on a blood or skin test. The result means only that they have been exposed to tuberculosis germs some time in the past."We have no idea if they have been infected last month or 20 years ago," Raviglione said. Those infected long ago may have already have cleared their bodies of the infection.Most people who are ever going to develop active tuberculosis do so within two years of their first infection. Therefore, some prominent researchers argue that latency tests greatly exaggerate the number of people at risk.As a result, relying on them would cause many more people to be vaccinated than could benefit.Dr. Lalita Ramakrishnan, a tuberculosis expert at the University of Cambridge in Britain, noted that participants in the vaccine study were less likely to develop active tuberculosis in the first year than in the second.That result -- the opposite of what would normally be expected, she said -- implied that the careful screening done by the GSK team for the clinical trial, which included taking medical histories and sputum samples, must have weeded out people with early-stage tuberculosis.To pick people who would benefit most from the vaccine under normal circumstances, she argued, a more accurate diagnostic test must be developed.Alternatively, the vaccine could be restricted to people at obvious high risk, such as nurses in tuberculosis wards -- but that would miss too many potential beneficiaries.In the future, experts said, the GSK vaccine should be tested on people with HIV and on people in other countries, because susceptibility to tuberculosis appears to vary widely.The authors agreed, saying, "These results need confirmation in larger and longer studies conducted in a broader range of populations."Those groups should include people who did not test positive for latent tuberculosis, and people of varying ages and races.It is not known whether genetic differences make some people more susceptible to tuberculosis, or whether the bacteria circulating in various countries vary in infectiousness.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


    New TB Vaccine Could Save Millions of Lives, Study SuggestsIn what may be a watershed moment in the fight against tuberculosis, the world's most lethal infectious disease, an experimental new vaccine has protected about half the people who got it, scientists reported Tuesday.While a 50% success rate is hardly ideal -- the measles vaccine, by contrast, is about 98% protective -- about 10 million people get tuberculosis each year, and 1.6 million die of it. Even a partly effective vaccine may save millions of lives.A year ago, when preliminary trial results of the new vaccine were released, the World Health Organization called it "a major scientific breakthrough."Researchers not involved in the vaccine's development were enthusiastic about the latest results, but said it needed to be studied in more people and in different populations."The vaccine looks promising, and likely better than our century-old BCG vaccine," said Dr. Mario C. Raviglione, a global health expert at the University of Milan who headed the WHO's global tuberculosis program from 2003 to 2017.BCG, which is not used in the United States, protects infants against some types of tuberculosis, but does not protect adolescents or adults against the form that attacks the lungs, which is the most common type.Tuberculosis patients suffer fevers and night sweats, lose weight, cough up blood and, if left treated, ultimately die. Five years ago, tuberculosis surpassed AIDS as the deadliest infectious disease worldwide.The new vaccine, made by GSK and now known as M72/AS01E, was tested in about 3,300 adults in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia. All of them already had latent tuberculosis -- a silent infection that might or might not progress to active tuberculosis.Of those who got two doses of the GSK vaccine, only 13 developed active tuberculosis during three years of follow-up, according to the new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. By contrast, 26 of those who got a placebo progressed to active tuberculosis.Dr. Nazir Ismail, chief of tuberculosis research at South Africa's National Institute of Communicable Diseases, called the vaccine's 50% effectiveness "reasonably good."Giving two shots one month apart, he pointed out, is simpler than current prevention practice, which requires that patients take protective antibiotics every day for a month.Also, using antibiotics for prevention increases the risk that antibiotic-resistant TB will appear, while a vaccine does not.Because so many people die of tuberculosis, Dr. Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership that buys vaccines for poor countries, said his agency would "certainly give the vaccine a hard look."Gavi already supports some vaccines that are only partly effective, he noted. For example, some vaccines for human papillomavirus, or HPV, stop only 70% of the strains of the cancer-causing virus, and a new malaria vaccine being field-tested in Africa is only 39% effective.An important question raised by the study, researchers said, is who should receive the vaccine.Tuberculosis rates vary enormously not just between countries, but even from neighborhood to neighborhood. The disease thrives in people who live in crowded conditions, inhaling one another's germs, and the bacterium dies quickly in sunlight.Tuberculosis can be transmitted even through something as simple as a cough on a crowded bus. But the people at the highest risk include family members of patients with active tuberculosis, the doctors and nurses caring for them and, in countries where tuberculosis is common, people living or working in crowded conditions, such as prisoners and miners.But in any country, people are also at risk of infection if they have HIV, are severely malnourished, are taking immune-suppressive cancer chemotherapy or organ-transplant drugs, have diabetes or are on dialysis.The new study, however, tested the vaccine only in people who were HIV-negative and whose blood tests showed they had latent tuberculosis.But at least a quarter of the world's population would come up positive for latent tuberculosis on a blood or skin test. The result means only that they have been exposed to tuberculosis germs some time in the past."We have no idea if they have been infected last month or 20 years ago," Raviglione said. Those infected long ago may have already have cleared their bodies of the infection.Most people who are ever going to develop active tuberculosis do so within two years of their first infection. Therefore, some prominent researchers argue that latency tests greatly exaggerate the number of people at risk.As a result, relying on them would cause many more people to be vaccinated than could benefit.Dr. Lalita Ramakrishnan, a tuberculosis expert at the University of Cambridge in Britain, noted that participants in the vaccine study were less likely to develop active tuberculosis in the first year than in the second.That result -- the opposite of what would normally be expected, she said -- implied that the careful screening done by the GSK team for the clinical trial, which included taking medical histories and sputum samples, must have weeded out people with early-stage tuberculosis.To pick people who would benefit most from the vaccine under normal circumstances, she argued, a more accurate diagnostic test must be developed.Alternatively, the vaccine could be restricted to people at obvious high risk, such as nurses in tuberculosis wards -- but that would miss too many potential beneficiaries.In the future, experts said, the GSK vaccine should be tested on people with HIV and on people in other countries, because susceptibility to tuberculosis appears to vary widely.The authors agreed, saying, "These results need confirmation in larger and longer studies conducted in a broader range of populations."Those groups should include people who did not test positive for latent tuberculosis, and people of varying ages and races.It is not known whether genetic differences make some people more susceptible to tuberculosis, or whether the bacteria circulating in various countries vary in infectiousness.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


     

  • First Mode joins Arizona State’s team to flesh out a plan for a marathon moon rover      Mon, 28 Oct 2019 13:58:56 -0400

    First Mode joins Arizona State’s team to flesh out a plan for a marathon moon roverSeattle-based First Mode is working with Arizona State University and other partners to draw up a concept for a rover that could travel more than 1,100 miles across the moon's surface over a four-year period. NASA is funding the concept study, which is due next June. The rover, dubbed Intrepid, would travel farther than any previous rover in NASA's history to check out more than 100 sites for signs of lunar water ice.  Intrepid would also map radiation, solar wind and the chemical makeup of lunar soil. The mission's proposed landing site is in the region of the moon's Reiner… Read More


    First Mode joins Arizona State’s team to flesh out a plan for a marathon moon roverSeattle-based First Mode is working with Arizona State University and other partners to draw up a concept for a rover that could travel more than 1,100 miles across the moon's surface over a four-year period. NASA is funding the concept study, which is due next June. The rover, dubbed Intrepid, would travel farther than any previous rover in NASA's history to check out more than 100 sites for signs of lunar water ice.  Intrepid would also map radiation, solar wind and the chemical makeup of lunar soil. The mission's proposed landing site is in the region of the moon's Reiner… Read More


     

  • Every person alive today descended from a woman who lived in modern-day Botswana about 200,000 years ago, a new study finds      Mon, 28 Oct 2019 12:38:00 -0400

    Every person alive today descended from a woman who lived in modern-day Botswana about 200,000 years ago, a new study findsModern humans emerged in Africa around 200,000 years ago. Now, a research team has figured out where on the continent our ancestors originated.


    Every person alive today descended from a woman who lived in modern-day Botswana about 200,000 years ago, a new study findsModern humans emerged in Africa around 200,000 years ago. Now, a research team has figured out where on the continent our ancestors originated.


     

  • Lessons from 15-year rover mission: Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids      Sun, 27 Oct 2019 23:52:40 -0400

    Lessons from 15-year rover mission: Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kidsSTATE COLLEGE, Pa. — For 15 years, planetary scientist Steve Squyres' life revolved around Mars, with good reason. He was the principal investigator for one of the longest-running NASA missions on the surface of another world, executed by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity. If anyone has a sense of the lay of the land on the Red Planet, it'd be Squyres. So what does he think of the idea of setting up permanent cities on Mars? "My take on this one is no, I don't think so," Squyres said here today at Penn State University during the ScienceWriters 2019… Read More


    Lessons from 15-year rover mission: Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kidsSTATE COLLEGE, Pa. — For 15 years, planetary scientist Steve Squyres' life revolved around Mars, with good reason. He was the principal investigator for one of the longest-running NASA missions on the surface of another world, executed by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity. If anyone has a sense of the lay of the land on the Red Planet, it'd be Squyres. So what does he think of the idea of setting up permanent cities on Mars? "My take on this one is no, I don't think so," Squyres said here today at Penn State University during the ScienceWriters 2019… Read More


     

  • An engineer has devised a way to stop Arctic ice from melting by scattering millions of tiny glass beads to reflect sunlight away      Sat, 26 Oct 2019 15:04:52 -0400

    An engineer has devised a way to stop Arctic ice from melting by scattering millions of tiny glass beads to reflect sunlight awayThe Arctic is melting faster than ever. One nonprofit wants to blanket parts of glaciers in glass beads to reflect sunlight and slow the thaw.


    An engineer has devised a way to stop Arctic ice from melting by scattering millions of tiny glass beads to reflect sunlight awayThe Arctic is melting faster than ever. One nonprofit wants to blanket parts of glaciers in glass beads to reflect sunlight and slow the thaw.


     

  • The universe is expanding faster than scientists thought, a study confirms — a 'crisis in cosmology' that could require a 'new physics'      Sat, 26 Oct 2019 08:11:00 -0400

    The universe is expanding faster than scientists thought, a study confirms — a 'crisis in cosmology' that could require a 'new physics'NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and new mirror technology confirmed a mystery that could lead to a "new physics," one astrophysicist said.


    The universe is expanding faster than scientists thought, a study confirms — a 'crisis in cosmology' that could require a 'new physics'NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and new mirror technology confirmed a mystery that could lead to a "new physics," one astrophysicist said.


     

  • A Forecast for a Warming World: Learn to Live With Fire      Fri, 25 Oct 2019 15:15:29 -0400

    A Forecast for a Warming World: Learn to Live With FireSAN FRANCISCO -- Facing down 600 wildfires in the past three days alone, emergency workers rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people in Southern California on Thursday as a state utility said one of its major transmission lines broke near the source of the out-of-control Kincade blaze in Northern California.The Kincade fire, the largest this week, tore through steep canyons in the wine country of northern Sonoma County, racing across 16,000 acres within hours of igniting. Wind gusts pushed the fire through forests like blowtorches, leaving firefighters with little opportunity to stop or slow down the walls of flames tromping across wild lands and across highways overnight.And north of Los Angeles, 50,000 people were evacuated as strong winds propelled fires into the canyons of Santa Clarita, threatening many homes.Aerial footage of the Kincade fire showed homes engulfed in flames propelled by high winds that could become even stronger in the coming days.But beyond the destruction, which appeared limited Thursday to several dozen buildings, hundreds of thousands of people were affected, both by the fires and a deliberate blackout meant to prevent them. Schools and businesses closed, and thousands of people evacuated their homes.All this is happening after three straight years of record-breaking fires that researchers say are likely to continue in a warming world and which raise an important question: How to live in an ecosystem that is primed to burn?"I think the perception is that we're supposed to control them. But in a lot of cases we cannot," said John Abatzoglou, an associate professor at the University of Idaho. "And that may allow us to think a little bit differently about how we live with fire. We call it wildfire for reason -- it's not domesticated fire."According to the National Climate Assessment, the government report that summarizes present and future effects of a warming climate on the United States, fire is a growing problem. Climate change will lead to more wildfires nationwide as hotter temperatures dry out plants, making them easier to ignite.The total area burned in a single year by wildfires in the United States has only exceeded 13,900 square miles -- an area larger than the country of Belgium -- four times since the middle of last century. All four times have happened this decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA."There is anger in the community," said Michael Gossman, the deputy county administrator of Sonoma County's office of recovery and resilience, in an interview this year. In 2017 his California county was devastated by the Sonoma Complex fires, which killed 24 and burned more than 170 square miles. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the conditions this week were analogous to those of 2017.Many residents in Northern California faced a twin threat on Thursday: fires, but also the deliberate power outages meant to mitigate the blazes. Both the Kincade fire and a small fire that ignited Thursday morning, the Spring fire, occurred in or near areas where the state utility, Pacific Gas & Electric had turned off the power.The fires "brought out some longer standing institutional issues around equity," Gossman said. Critics say electricity cutoffs disproportionately harm low income people who cannot afford solar and battery backup systems or gas based generators, as well as sick and disabled people who rely on electricity to run lifesaving medical equipment.Although winds in California were forecast to subside later on Thursday, officials warned that the extreme winds and dry conditions that create high risk for fires could return on Sunday. This is why government agencies are preparing themselves to deal with fires that are increasingly seen as inevitable.Prescribed burns, or planned fires, like one set last spring on Brawley Mountain in Georgia in southern Appalachia roughly 100 miles north of Atlanta, are often seen as part of the solution.The idea that fire could itself be used to help fight fire and restore ecosystems first gained institutional acceptance in the South. In 1958 a policy change was made to allow for the first prescribed burn in a national park, at Everglades National Park in Florida.For some time, the practice remained anomalous outside of the South. But within the south, according to Nathan Klaus, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, even private landowners would occasionally set smaller, controlled fires on their property.Before the era of fire suppression, north Georgia around Brawley Mountain used to burn roughly every three to five years, according to Klaus. Those blazes allowed species that could withstand some fire, like the longleaf pine, to proliferate and flourish, shaping local ecosystems.Some of those fires were caused by natural events like lightning; others were caused by human activity. The Forest Service notes that Native Americans used prescribed burns to help with food production. These smaller fires act as a kind of incendiary rake, clearing out grasses, shrubs and other plant matter before they can overgrow to become fuel for bigger, more extreme fires.Dave Martin, who oversees fire and aviation management in the Forest Service's Southern Region, said that a prescribed burn costs about $30 to $35 an acre -- versus spending about $1,000 an acre for putting out a fire. "The cost of suppressing a fire is more than a prescribed burn," he said.It was a combination of forest overgrowth and drought conditions that helped fuel Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains Fires in 2016, which killed at least 14 people. Several fires burned across eight southeastern states that year, the same year Kansas experienced the largest wildfire in its history. The Anderson Creek prairie fire, which also affected Oklahoma, blackened some 625 square miles.The 2016 wildfires also allowed researchers to compare fire intensity between areas that had undergone a prescribed burn and those that had not. The fires in areas that had undergone prescribed were less intense. "It went from a 20- to 30-foot breaking front," Klaus said in reference to the height of the leading edge of the blaze on wild lands that had not burned, "to two to three feet."Reintroducing fire to the land is more complex than lighting a match. You can't burn where people live, for example. But nationwide, housing near wild lands is the fastest growing land-use type in the United States. More people are moving into areas that are more likely to burn, and in some cases they may oppose prescribed burning."Part of doing this work means educating local communities," said Mike Brod, the fire and natural-resources staff officer of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.And there are limits to prescribed burning. If conditions are too wet, a fire will not ignite, but if it is too dry, the fire is hard to contain. Like Goldilocks, for wild land managers the conditions have to be just right. This includes not just the wind's speed, which can affect the spread of a fire, but also its direction.And once the burn starts, its smoke can travel great distances. Smoke from last year's California's wildfires not only threw a haze over much of the state, but transformed sunsets as far away as Washington, D.C. On Thursday, NOAA warned residents of the Bay Area that "shifting winds tomorrow will likely cause the smoke to be directly over much of the region," as a result of the Kincade fire.So during planned burns great pains have to be taken to make sure that the smoke is directed away from population centers. "If the smoke isn't doing what we want it to do, we'll shut it down," said Nick Peters, the acting district fire management officer for the Chattooga River ranger district in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.The particulates in wildfire smoke are similar to the kind of pollution that gets released from burning gasoline or coal. Called PM 2.5, the tiny particles are associated with negative health effects. Out west, the rise of giant wildfires has worsened air pollution enough to erode some of the air-quality gains from the Clean Air Act.Earlier this year NOAA and NASA launched a mission to learn more about wildfire smoke. The program flew planes into Western wildfires and Midwestern agricultural fires throughout the summer and into the fall.A lot of wildfire and climate research is divided into two camps: observational modelers (who run large computer simulations) and researchers (who gather observational data using sophisticated monitors) said Rajan Chakrabarty, an assistant professor at the Washington University in St. Louis. The goal of the mission was to bridge that gap.But flying into a fire is not for the weak bellied. As the plane flies through a blaze, the cabin fills with the smell of smoke evocative of a barbecue or a campfire. And sampling a fire plume often involves the kind of rollicking, stomach churning turbulence that commercial flights go out of their way to avoid.By taking samples during an active fire, scientists hope to understand what is in the smoke, and how the chemical makeup changes over time."This air is getting blown downwind, so it's going to impact areas outside of just where the fire was burning," said Hannah Halliday, a researcher at NASA Langley, who also participated in the mission. "And we have models for how emissions change, but we want to make sure that we have that chemistry right, and the physics right."The hope is that, over the long term, the smoke models will be as sophisticated as weather models, and can let people know well in advance when they will need to prepare for smoke, even if they are relatively far from the site of a fire.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


    A Forecast for a Warming World: Learn to Live With FireSAN FRANCISCO -- Facing down 600 wildfires in the past three days alone, emergency workers rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people in Southern California on Thursday as a state utility said one of its major transmission lines broke near the source of the out-of-control Kincade blaze in Northern California.The Kincade fire, the largest this week, tore through steep canyons in the wine country of northern Sonoma County, racing across 16,000 acres within hours of igniting. Wind gusts pushed the fire through forests like blowtorches, leaving firefighters with little opportunity to stop or slow down the walls of flames tromping across wild lands and across highways overnight.And north of Los Angeles, 50,000 people were evacuated as strong winds propelled fires into the canyons of Santa Clarita, threatening many homes.Aerial footage of the Kincade fire showed homes engulfed in flames propelled by high winds that could become even stronger in the coming days.But beyond the destruction, which appeared limited Thursday to several dozen buildings, hundreds of thousands of people were affected, both by the fires and a deliberate blackout meant to prevent them. Schools and businesses closed, and thousands of people evacuated their homes.All this is happening after three straight years of record-breaking fires that researchers say are likely to continue in a warming world and which raise an important question: How to live in an ecosystem that is primed to burn?"I think the perception is that we're supposed to control them. But in a lot of cases we cannot," said John Abatzoglou, an associate professor at the University of Idaho. "And that may allow us to think a little bit differently about how we live with fire. We call it wildfire for reason -- it's not domesticated fire."According to the National Climate Assessment, the government report that summarizes present and future effects of a warming climate on the United States, fire is a growing problem. Climate change will lead to more wildfires nationwide as hotter temperatures dry out plants, making them easier to ignite.The total area burned in a single year by wildfires in the United States has only exceeded 13,900 square miles -- an area larger than the country of Belgium -- four times since the middle of last century. All four times have happened this decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA."There is anger in the community," said Michael Gossman, the deputy county administrator of Sonoma County's office of recovery and resilience, in an interview this year. In 2017 his California county was devastated by the Sonoma Complex fires, which killed 24 and burned more than 170 square miles. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the conditions this week were analogous to those of 2017.Many residents in Northern California faced a twin threat on Thursday: fires, but also the deliberate power outages meant to mitigate the blazes. Both the Kincade fire and a small fire that ignited Thursday morning, the Spring fire, occurred in or near areas where the state utility, Pacific Gas & Electric had turned off the power.The fires "brought out some longer standing institutional issues around equity," Gossman said. Critics say electricity cutoffs disproportionately harm low income people who cannot afford solar and battery backup systems or gas based generators, as well as sick and disabled people who rely on electricity to run lifesaving medical equipment.Although winds in California were forecast to subside later on Thursday, officials warned that the extreme winds and dry conditions that create high risk for fires could return on Sunday. This is why government agencies are preparing themselves to deal with fires that are increasingly seen as inevitable.Prescribed burns, or planned fires, like one set last spring on Brawley Mountain in Georgia in southern Appalachia roughly 100 miles north of Atlanta, are often seen as part of the solution.The idea that fire could itself be used to help fight fire and restore ecosystems first gained institutional acceptance in the South. In 1958 a policy change was made to allow for the first prescribed burn in a national park, at Everglades National Park in Florida.For some time, the practice remained anomalous outside of the South. But within the south, according to Nathan Klaus, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, even private landowners would occasionally set smaller, controlled fires on their property.Before the era of fire suppression, north Georgia around Brawley Mountain used to burn roughly every three to five years, according to Klaus. Those blazes allowed species that could withstand some fire, like the longleaf pine, to proliferate and flourish, shaping local ecosystems.Some of those fires were caused by natural events like lightning; others were caused by human activity. The Forest Service notes that Native Americans used prescribed burns to help with food production. These smaller fires act as a kind of incendiary rake, clearing out grasses, shrubs and other plant matter before they can overgrow to become fuel for bigger, more extreme fires.Dave Martin, who oversees fire and aviation management in the Forest Service's Southern Region, said that a prescribed burn costs about $30 to $35 an acre -- versus spending about $1,000 an acre for putting out a fire. "The cost of suppressing a fire is more than a prescribed burn," he said.It was a combination of forest overgrowth and drought conditions that helped fuel Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains Fires in 2016, which killed at least 14 people. Several fires burned across eight southeastern states that year, the same year Kansas experienced the largest wildfire in its history. The Anderson Creek prairie fire, which also affected Oklahoma, blackened some 625 square miles.The 2016 wildfires also allowed researchers to compare fire intensity between areas that had undergone a prescribed burn and those that had not. The fires in areas that had undergone prescribed were less intense. "It went from a 20- to 30-foot breaking front," Klaus said in reference to the height of the leading edge of the blaze on wild lands that had not burned, "to two to three feet."Reintroducing fire to the land is more complex than lighting a match. You can't burn where people live, for example. But nationwide, housing near wild lands is the fastest growing land-use type in the United States. More people are moving into areas that are more likely to burn, and in some cases they may oppose prescribed burning."Part of doing this work means educating local communities," said Mike Brod, the fire and natural-resources staff officer of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.And there are limits to prescribed burning. If conditions are too wet, a fire will not ignite, but if it is too dry, the fire is hard to contain. Like Goldilocks, for wild land managers the conditions have to be just right. This includes not just the wind's speed, which can affect the spread of a fire, but also its direction.And once the burn starts, its smoke can travel great distances. Smoke from last year's California's wildfires not only threw a haze over much of the state, but transformed sunsets as far away as Washington, D.C. On Thursday, NOAA warned residents of the Bay Area that "shifting winds tomorrow will likely cause the smoke to be directly over much of the region," as a result of the Kincade fire.So during planned burns great pains have to be taken to make sure that the smoke is directed away from population centers. "If the smoke isn't doing what we want it to do, we'll shut it down," said Nick Peters, the acting district fire management officer for the Chattooga River ranger district in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.The particulates in wildfire smoke are similar to the kind of pollution that gets released from burning gasoline or coal. Called PM 2.5, the tiny particles are associated with negative health effects. Out west, the rise of giant wildfires has worsened air pollution enough to erode some of the air-quality gains from the Clean Air Act.Earlier this year NOAA and NASA launched a mission to learn more about wildfire smoke. The program flew planes into Western wildfires and Midwestern agricultural fires throughout the summer and into the fall.A lot of wildfire and climate research is divided into two camps: observational modelers (who run large computer simulations) and researchers (who gather observational data using sophisticated monitors) said Rajan Chakrabarty, an assistant professor at the Washington University in St. Louis. The goal of the mission was to bridge that gap.But flying into a fire is not for the weak bellied. As the plane flies through a blaze, the cabin fills with the smell of smoke evocative of a barbecue or a campfire. And sampling a fire plume often involves the kind of rollicking, stomach churning turbulence that commercial flights go out of their way to avoid.By taking samples during an active fire, scientists hope to understand what is in the smoke, and how the chemical makeup changes over time."This air is getting blown downwind, so it's going to impact areas outside of just where the fire was burning," said Hannah Halliday, a researcher at NASA Langley, who also participated in the mission. "And we have models for how emissions change, but we want to make sure that we have that chemistry right, and the physics right."The hope is that, over the long term, the smoke models will be as sophisticated as weather models, and can let people know well in advance when they will need to prepare for smoke, even if they are relatively far from the site of a fire.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


     

  • NASA will send VIPER rover to the moon in 2022 to track down south pole’s water ice      Fri, 25 Oct 2019 12:35:09 -0400

    NASA will send VIPER rover to the moon in 2022 to track down south pole’s water iceNASA says it'll send a rover to the moon's south pole by the end of 2022 to answer one of the biggest questions surrounding its Artemis moon program: Just how accessible is the water ice that's mixed in with moon dirt? The mobile robot — whose race car name, VIPER, is actually an acronym standing for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover — would be the first U.S. rover launched to the lunar surface since the moon buggies that went with the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions in 1971 and 1972. "VIPER is going to rove on the south pole… Read More


    NASA will send VIPER rover to the moon in 2022 to track down south pole’s water iceNASA says it'll send a rover to the moon's south pole by the end of 2022 to answer one of the biggest questions surrounding its Artemis moon program: Just how accessible is the water ice that's mixed in with moon dirt? The mobile robot — whose race car name, VIPER, is actually an acronym standing for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover — would be the first U.S. rover launched to the lunar surface since the moon buggies that went with the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions in 1971 and 1972. "VIPER is going to rove on the south pole… Read More


     

  • Amazon Web Services and NASA team up to stream video from space via the cloud      Thu, 24 Oct 2019 15:50:24 -0400

    Amazon Web Services and NASA team up to stream video from space via the cloudAmazon Web Services and NASA have demonstrated how cloud-based video processing can distribute live streams from space, with a shout-out from the International Space Station. The demonstration took center stage today in Los Angeles at the annual meeting of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, or SMPTE. Barbara Lange, SMPTE's executive director, told GeekWire that the members of her organization have a professional and personal interest in telling the story of space travel through moving images. Previously: Amazon Web Services plays role in NASA’s first ultra-HD live video from space "We want to make sure that that story… Read More


    Amazon Web Services and NASA team up to stream video from space via the cloudAmazon Web Services and NASA have demonstrated how cloud-based video processing can distribute live streams from space, with a shout-out from the International Space Station. The demonstration took center stage today in Los Angeles at the annual meeting of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, or SMPTE. Barbara Lange, SMPTE's executive director, told GeekWire that the members of her organization have a professional and personal interest in telling the story of space travel through moving images. Previously: Amazon Web Services plays role in NASA’s first ultra-HD live video from space "We want to make sure that that story… Read More


     

  • Why Saving the Oceans Is as Vital as Protecting Rain Forests      Thu, 24 Oct 2019 14:54:53 -0400

    Why Saving the Oceans Is as Vital as Protecting Rain ForestsSaving the oceans is key to fighting the climate crisis, according to Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a Brooklyn-born marine biologist and activist who is a rising figure in the climate movement.Johnson, 39, is the founder of Ocean Collectiv, a conservation consultancy, and of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank, and speaks frequently at TED Talks, climate rallies and her salons at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Protecting the ocean is crucial for people at all economic levels, she said, not just bicoastal elites who look down their noses at plastic straws.Q: You have talked a lot about how the oceans are crucial in the fight against climate change. How so?A: When people talk about the destruction of the Amazon, and how forests in general are the lungs of the planet, I always want to jump in and say the ocean is a huge part of that, too.Phytoplankton -- these tiny little plants in the ocean -- produce a huge percentage of the oxygen we breathe, and the population of phytoplankton is declining. That should be a cause for concern for every single person.Q: You hear a lot of talk about plastic straws. Is that issue really a big deal or is it greenwashing?A: Straws are not the biggest problem facing the ocean, but they are an opportunity to think about what else we can do to reduce our impact on the planet.It really cracked me up the other day. I was walking down the street in Fort Greene, the neighborhood where I grew up and where I live now, and I saw this guy looking super-stylish carrying an iced coffee in a plastic to-go coffee cup with a plastic lid, and I turned to look, and he's got a metal straw in the cup.Part of me wanted to just hit it out of his hand and be like, "Dude, you're totally missing the point! If you're going to bring a straw, just bring your own cup!"Q: Some of those straws, I guess, can end up in the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Are there any steps we can take to tackle that?A: I kind of recoil at this question, to be honest, because I feel like this has been done a million times: carry your own water bottle, carry your own grocery bags. But I think there is a harder answer, which is that it does actually require some sacrifice.Like I'll be walking down the street and I want to get a Juice Press because I'm hungry and I didn't bring enough snacks for the day, and I don't. There is an element of: "Don't buy the thing that's in plastic."There's no cute answer, right? Nothing that is disposable can be sustainable.Q: The United Nations says that 93% of commercial fish stocks are being fished at or beyond capacity. What kind of fish should we avoid eating?A: Pending changes which could come at any moment, the U.S. still does a very good job of managing our fish population. So eat U.S. seafood and support your fishermen who are doing it right.And eat lower on the food chain. Instead of tuna, eat sardines and anchovies -- those little ones that are reproducing super-quickly. Because tuna is so far up the food chain, if we were eating the land equivalent of tuna, it would be like eating whatever kind of dragon eats a lion. It's this incredible beast, and we will never be able to have sustainable tuna fishing at scale.Q: Is farmed seafood preferable to wild?A: The sustainability of fish farming is improving, but farmed fish are still often grown in high densities, and so there's a lot of spread of disease and pollution.But ocean farming of shellfish -- oysters, mussels and clams -- and seaweed is super-sustainable, and we should all be eating more of those things because they actually just live off of nutrients in the water and sunlight.In fact, eating shellfish like oysters can be more sustainable than being totally vegan, because it's just such an efficient and low-carbon way to make protein. Shellfish are absorbing carbon as they're making their shells. And seaweed is absorbing tons of CO2, because they're plants.Q: Some people think ocean conservation is an elitist issue for people with beach houses. Why does it matter for people across the economic spectrum?A: It's no coincidence which communities bear the brunt of sea level rise, pollution and strengthened storms. Along the coasts, it's poor communities and communities of color who are most at risk. It's those who already have the fewest resources who are most in danger, not people with vacation homes and yachts. Ocean conservation is a social justice issue.Q: Climate change deniers like to paint conservation as a pet cause for limousine liberals.A: It's so easy to think about the typical environmentalist as this stereotype of a fit white guy stepping out of a Prius, looking out into the mountains wearing a Patagonia jacket. But I've looked into the polling data, and that's completely false.It's young people, and it's people of color, and it's women who disproportionately care about environmental and climate issues, and are most supportive of stronger government policies to address them: 68% of people of color say they are worried about the impacts of climate change, compared to 55% of white people.Q: Do you see the green movement forging stronger ties to the social justice movement?A: I mean, Black Lives Matter has a part of their platform that's about climate and the environment, because it is a justice issue. If you think about the rates of asthma in inner-city communities that are near power plants or exposed to other types of pollution, it's a lot higher.And when we think about immigration, and how a lot of migration is now driven by climate change, whether it's droughts and crop failures or the impacts of storms, that becomes a social justice issue that was triggered by the impacts on communities that did the least to emit the carbon to cause the problem.Q: That's a lot of bad news to take in. What's the biggest reason for hope?A: Nature is super-resilient if we give it a chance, right? If we stop polluting the ocean, it will be less polluted. If we stop overfishing, in most cases, fish populations will recover.The ocean has already absorbed about 30% of the excess CO2 that we've trapped by burning fossil fuels. And the ocean has already absorbed 93% of the heat that we've trapped. And so the ocean is trying its best to buffer us from our worst, right? We need to return the favor.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


    Why Saving the Oceans Is as Vital as Protecting Rain ForestsSaving the oceans is key to fighting the climate crisis, according to Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a Brooklyn-born marine biologist and activist who is a rising figure in the climate movement.Johnson, 39, is the founder of Ocean Collectiv, a conservation consultancy, and of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank, and speaks frequently at TED Talks, climate rallies and her salons at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Protecting the ocean is crucial for people at all economic levels, she said, not just bicoastal elites who look down their noses at plastic straws.Q: You have talked a lot about how the oceans are crucial in the fight against climate change. How so?A: When people talk about the destruction of the Amazon, and how forests in general are the lungs of the planet, I always want to jump in and say the ocean is a huge part of that, too.Phytoplankton -- these tiny little plants in the ocean -- produce a huge percentage of the oxygen we breathe, and the population of phytoplankton is declining. That should be a cause for concern for every single person.Q: You hear a lot of talk about plastic straws. Is that issue really a big deal or is it greenwashing?A: Straws are not the biggest problem facing the ocean, but they are an opportunity to think about what else we can do to reduce our impact on the planet.It really cracked me up the other day. I was walking down the street in Fort Greene, the neighborhood where I grew up and where I live now, and I saw this guy looking super-stylish carrying an iced coffee in a plastic to-go coffee cup with a plastic lid, and I turned to look, and he's got a metal straw in the cup.Part of me wanted to just hit it out of his hand and be like, "Dude, you're totally missing the point! If you're going to bring a straw, just bring your own cup!"Q: Some of those straws, I guess, can end up in the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Are there any steps we can take to tackle that?A: I kind of recoil at this question, to be honest, because I feel like this has been done a million times: carry your own water bottle, carry your own grocery bags. But I think there is a harder answer, which is that it does actually require some sacrifice.Like I'll be walking down the street and I want to get a Juice Press because I'm hungry and I didn't bring enough snacks for the day, and I don't. There is an element of: "Don't buy the thing that's in plastic."There's no cute answer, right? Nothing that is disposable can be sustainable.Q: The United Nations says that 93% of commercial fish stocks are being fished at or beyond capacity. What kind of fish should we avoid eating?A: Pending changes which could come at any moment, the U.S. still does a very good job of managing our fish population. So eat U.S. seafood and support your fishermen who are doing it right.And eat lower on the food chain. Instead of tuna, eat sardines and anchovies -- those little ones that are reproducing super-quickly. Because tuna is so far up the food chain, if we were eating the land equivalent of tuna, it would be like eating whatever kind of dragon eats a lion. It's this incredible beast, and we will never be able to have sustainable tuna fishing at scale.Q: Is farmed seafood preferable to wild?A: The sustainability of fish farming is improving, but farmed fish are still often grown in high densities, and so there's a lot of spread of disease and pollution.But ocean farming of shellfish -- oysters, mussels and clams -- and seaweed is super-sustainable, and we should all be eating more of those things because they actually just live off of nutrients in the water and sunlight.In fact, eating shellfish like oysters can be more sustainable than being totally vegan, because it's just such an efficient and low-carbon way to make protein. Shellfish are absorbing carbon as they're making their shells. And seaweed is absorbing tons of CO2, because they're plants.Q: Some people think ocean conservation is an elitist issue for people with beach houses. Why does it matter for people across the economic spectrum?A: It's no coincidence which communities bear the brunt of sea level rise, pollution and strengthened storms. Along the coasts, it's poor communities and communities of color who are most at risk. It's those who already have the fewest resources who are most in danger, not people with vacation homes and yachts. Ocean conservation is a social justice issue.Q: Climate change deniers like to paint conservation as a pet cause for limousine liberals.A: It's so easy to think about the typical environmentalist as this stereotype of a fit white guy stepping out of a Prius, looking out into the mountains wearing a Patagonia jacket. But I've looked into the polling data, and that's completely false.It's young people, and it's people of color, and it's women who disproportionately care about environmental and climate issues, and are most supportive of stronger government policies to address them: 68% of people of color say they are worried about the impacts of climate change, compared to 55% of white people.Q: Do you see the green movement forging stronger ties to the social justice movement?A: I mean, Black Lives Matter has a part of their platform that's about climate and the environment, because it is a justice issue. If you think about the rates of asthma in inner-city communities that are near power plants or exposed to other types of pollution, it's a lot higher.And when we think about immigration, and how a lot of migration is now driven by climate change, whether it's droughts and crop failures or the impacts of storms, that becomes a social justice issue that was triggered by the impacts on communities that did the least to emit the carbon to cause the problem.Q: That's a lot of bad news to take in. What's the biggest reason for hope?A: Nature is super-resilient if we give it a chance, right? If we stop polluting the ocean, it will be less polluted. If we stop overfishing, in most cases, fish populations will recover.The ocean has already absorbed about 30% of the excess CO2 that we've trapped by burning fossil fuels. And the ocean has already absorbed 93% of the heat that we've trapped. And so the ocean is trying its best to buffer us from our worst, right? We need to return the favor.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


     

  • Suborbital spacefliers will get pinned by the Association of Space Explorers      Wed, 23 Oct 2019 23:59:43 -0400

    Suborbital spacefliers will get pinned by the Association of Space ExplorersWASHINGTON, D.C. — Will the customers who fly on the suborbital spaceships operated by British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin get astronaut wings? That's not in the cards, because those wings are typically reserved for flight crews. But at least they'll get a lapel pin to mark their achievement. The pin, created by the Association of Space Explorers, made its debut today on the lapel of Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic. She was pinned here at the International Astronautical Congress by former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, the association's president. Moses… Read More


    Suborbital spacefliers will get pinned by the Association of Space ExplorersWASHINGTON, D.C. — Will the customers who fly on the suborbital spaceships operated by British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin get astronaut wings? That's not in the cards, because those wings are typically reserved for flight crews. But at least they'll get a lapel pin to mark their achievement. The pin, created by the Association of Space Explorers, made its debut today on the lapel of Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic. She was pinned here at the International Astronautical Congress by former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, the association's president. Moses… Read More


     

  • The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs acidified the ocean in a 'flash,' killing most marine life. The seas could see a similar problem a century from now.      Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:39:00 -0400

    The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs acidified the ocean in a 'flash,' killing most marine life. The seas could see a similar problem a century from now.A new study found that the asteroid impact that led the dinosaurs to go extinct also caused rapid ocean acidification, which killed most sea life.


    The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs acidified the ocean in a 'flash,' killing most marine life. The seas could see a similar problem a century from now.A new study found that the asteroid impact that led the dinosaurs to go extinct also caused rapid ocean acidification, which killed most sea life.


     



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