Surge in wildlife killings is wiping out giraffes

Surge in wildlife killings is wiping out giraffes

Surge in wildlife killings is wiping out giraffes By Jane QiuJun. 22, 2017 , 9:00 AM
SAMBURU NATIONAL PARK, KENYA—For conservationists stationed in politically volatile regions, life can be harrowing. Last October, John Doherty had to take refuge under his desk here for nearly 2 hours as armed herders, angry at grazing restrictions, attacked a nearby ranger headquarters. He could hear shouting and frenzied footsteps outside and bullets smacking into his office wall. “I was wondering whether I should call my family to tell them I love them,” says the zoologist, of Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom.
In recent months, drought and overgrazing in northern Kenya have sent thousands of herders and their livestock into national parks and other protected areas, intensifying tensions over land and grazing. Violence has taken the lives of several rangers, and a surge in wildlife killings is devastating populations of one of East Africa's most majestic beasts: giraffes. ..

Where Will You Be? Two Months Until Total Solar Eclipse Crosses Entire US

Where Will You Be? Two Months Until Total Solar Eclipse Crosses Entire US

© NASA. Much of the continental US will be treated to a full solar eclipse on August 21, beginning in Oregon and slanting across the country in a gentle descending arc through the heartland to South Carolina, where the moon's shadow will head to sea and cool the waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean. During the seven-and-a-half minutes of darkness, the moon will fully obscure the sun and the sky will darken as the temperature quickly drops, winds momentarily pick up, some stars and planets become visible, and animals behave strangely.
If the weather holds in your chosen spot, you will be able to observe the 70-mile wide path of the moon as it traverses the US, beginning at 10:15 a.m. PDT (1715 GMT) in northern Oregon, and ending at 2:49 p.m. EDT (1849 GMT) in southern South Carolina.
Total solar eclipses, common in various uninhabited regions of the Earth including over the ocean, happen almost every year, but one that traverses the entire North American continent is a rarity, a..

Tropical Storm Cindy Already Deadly Ahead of Landfall on US Gulf Coast (PHOTOS)

Cindy is expected to bring a deluge of wind and rain onto the Gulf Coast and the American south. Tornadoes are also expected to form. Seventeen million people have been placed under tropical storm warnings.
Quite a photo right here. #TropicalStormCindy pic.twitter.com/T7PP71dAM4
— St. John B. Smith (@stjbs) June 21, 2017 Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency and has deployed the National Guard, armed with amphibious vehicles and helicopters, into flood-prone areas. “All arms of the state's emergency preparedness and response apparatus are taking Tropical Storm Cindy seriously, and we are calling on all Louisianans throughout the state to do so as well,” Edwards said in a statement.
Another look at a tornado over Ocean City area this morning due to #TropicalStormCindy #TSCindy #OCSO. No reports of any injuries 🌪️⛈️ pic.twitter.com/UrSHC3HV1t
— OkaloosaSheriff (@OCSOALERTS) June 21, 2017 ​Alabama Governor Kay Ivey echoed her colleague, while Texas..

Why eggs have such weird shapes, doubly domesticated cats, and science balloons on the rise

Why eggs have such weird shapes, doubly domesticated cats, and science balloons on the rise

MasaMima/iStockPhoto
This week we have stories on the new capabilities of science balloons, connections between deforestation and drug trafficking in Central America, and new insights into the role ancient Egypt had in taming cats with Online News Editor David Grimm.
Sarah Crespi talks to Mary Caswell Stoddard about why bird eggs come in so many shapes and sizes.
Listen to previous podcasts.
[Image:; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

A surprisingly simple explanation for the shape of bird eggs

A surprisingly simple explanation for the shape of bird eggs

A surprisingly simple explanation for the shape of bird eggs By Elizabeth PennisiJun. 22, 2017 , 2:00 PM
A sandpiper’s egg is shaped like a teardrop, an owl’s like a golf ball, and a hummingbird’s like a jelly bean. Now, for the first time, scientists have a convincing explanation for this stunning diversity: The shape of a bird’s egg depends on how much its species flies.
“It’s nice to see a complete story of egg shape,” says Mark Hauber, a behavioral ecologist at Hunter College in New York City who was not involved in the work. “[It’s] an instant classic article.”
Princeton University evolutionary biologist Mary Stoddard has long been fascinated that eggs are so diverse, even though they all basically do one thing—nourish and protect the developing chick. Fortunately, over the past century, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley, California, has amassed thousands of egg shells from 1400 species and put digital photos of them online.
Stoddard and her colleagues wrote a compu..

Commercial balloons in the stratosphere could monitor hurricanes and scan for solar storms

Commercial balloons in the stratosphere could monitor hurricanes and scan for solar storms

Video of Science balloons in the stratosphere could monitor hurricanes and scan for solar storms Commercial balloons in the stratosphere could monitor hurricanes and scan for solar storms By Adam MannJun. 22, 2017 , 2:00 PM
The layers of polyethylene, as thin as plastic sandwich bags, sit neatly folded in a wooden box at the headquarters of World View Enterprises in Tucson, Arizona. It seems the stuff of shower curtains, not spaceflight. But once inflated with helium, the plastic envelope will swell into a teardrop-shaped balloon spanning the length of a blue whale, able to soar more than 30 kilometers up into the stratosphere. There, above 99% of the atmosphere, it will offer sweeping panoramas of Earth or clear views into space.
If all goes to plan, this week, World View workers will unfurl the balloon in the chilly, predawn air, laying it carefully on a protective tarp at a desert site about 40 kilometers south of Tucson. As the sun rises, a helium truck will fill it with the gas ..

China Establishes Database to Forecast Rainbows

Zhaosu, which is surrounded by mountains on three sides, receives a significant amount of precipitation. As a result, the frequency of rainbows in the county is much higher than in other regions. Indeed, according to meteorological statistics, rainbows appear as many as 160 times in Zhaosu from May to August each year.
Precise weather forecasts require sufficient data and reliable analysis, said Zhou Mingwei, head of the local meteorological department. However, preliminary estimates can be made through the collection of meteorological data, offering an approximate forecast of the weather phenomenon.
The local meteorological department has established observation stations and solicited public information to enlarge its database, improving the precision of its forecasts. Data collected includes at least a dozen indices, such as the location of rainbows, their duration, and the temperature and wind speed at the time of their appearance.
The establishment of the database will not only ..

Butterfly Invasion in Siberia (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

The Black-veined White is a large butterfly which often goes by the more scientific name Aporia crataegus. It has rounded white wings with clear black veins and usually feeds on fruits of the wild bird cherry and apples. The species is common in Europe, Asia and North America, but is extinct in Great Britain and northern Scandinavia, migratory in the Netherlands and retreating from France.
Публикация от Anzh (Proselkova) Druzhinina (@anzhorik) Июн 7 2017 в 6:29 PDT
Countless numbers of Aporia crataegi have invaded Siberian cities. Amused citizens are taking hundreds of photos and videos, depicting huge colonies of insects.
Публикация от Pavel Sikov (@pavelsikov) Июн 6 2017 в 9:21 PDT
Публикация от Юленька Надеждина (@y_u_l_i_a98) Июн 15 2017 в 7:16 PDT
However, experts don't see any anomalies in it.
“In the summer of 2016, the number of butterflies was significantly smaller. This year, there are a lot of them, and the next year, there will be even more,” Vladimir Romanenko, ..

Mysterious Glowing Sea Creatures Infest US West Coast Despite Colder Water

Mysterious Glowing Sea Creatures Infest US West Coast Despite Colder Water

© REUTERS/ Courtesy of WikiLeaksKristian Rouz — Scientists have encountered a bizarre phenomenon in the waters along the US West Coast they are working on finding an explanation for. Despite lower water temperatures in the first half of this year, glowing tropical sea animals called pyrosomes, or “fire bodies”, have appeared in enormous quantities off the coast of Oregon and Alaska, primarily, which might have serious consequences for the sea life in the region. Millions of glowing cucumber-shaped pyrosomes, planktonic sea creatures that can reach up to 60 cm, or two feet, in length, have infested the waters of the US West Coast, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. It is unclear what caused such massive reproduction of this species this year, as the waters of the Pacific Ocean near the US have cooled in the past six months due to colder weather after two years of warmer water.
The pyrosomes are typically found in the waters of Ivory Coast, the Mediterra..

There are millions of protein factories in every cell. Surprise, they’re not all the same

There are millions of protein factories in every cell. Surprise, they’re not all the same

There are millions of protein factories in every cell. Surprise, they’re not all the same By Mitch LeslieJun. 21, 2017 , 11:00 AM
The plant that built your computer isn't churning out cars and toys as well. But many researchers think cells' crucial protein factories, organelles known as ribosomes, are interchangeable, each one able to make any of the body's proteins. Now, a provocative study suggests that some ribosomes, like modern factories, specialize to manufacture only certain products. Such tailored ribosomes could provide a cell with another way to control which proteins it generates. They could also help explain the puzzling symptoms of certain diseases, which might arise when particular ribosomes are defective.
Biologists have long debated whether ribosomes specialize, and some remain unconvinced by the new work. But other researchers say they are sold on the finding, which relied on sophisticated analytical techniques. “This is really an important step in red..

New haul of distant worlds casts doubt on Planet Nine

New haul of distant worlds casts doubt on Planet Nine

New haul of distant worlds casts doubt on Planet Nine By Joshua SokolJun. 21, 2017 , 9:00 AM
In early 2016, astronomers made a stunning claim: A giant planet was patrolling the farthest reaches of our solar system. Planet Nine, as they called it, was too far away to see directly. So its existence was inferred from the way its gravity had herded six distant icy worlds into clustered orbits.
Since then, the case for Planet Nine has been bolstered by other evidence, such as a peculiar tilt to the sun’s spin axis, along with a few more of these strange objects, which have elongated orbits of more than 4000 years and never come closer to the sun than Neptune. Now, a survey has found four more of these extreme bodies. The problem: They don’t display the tell-tale clustering. That’s a substantial blow for Planet Nine enthusiasts.
“We find no evidence of the orbit clustering needed for the Planet Nine hypothesis in our fully independent survey,” says Cory Shankman, an astronomer at the Univ..

This paleontologist races the bulldozers to track down China’s dinosaurs

This paleontologist races the bulldozers to track down China’s dinosaurs

This paleontologist races the bulldozers to track down China’s dinosaurs By Kathleen McLaughlinJun. 21, 2017 , 9:00 AM
Just after daybreak, a three-vehicle caravan arrives at the edge of a lake by this remote village on the coast of China's Yellow Sea, not far from Confucius's birthplace. The occupants pile out; grab chisels, brooms, and chalk; and, after a quick survey of the area, start carving through a layer of hard-packed dirt. The stone beneath is curiously pockmarked. The team meticulously marks, measures, and photographs each crater and depression, all the while brushing off questions from villagers befuddled by the interest in this barren, untillable plot of land.
The diggers don't want to reveal that they are paleontologists, lest word spread that the land holds potentially valuable dinosaur tracks. The architect of that strategy of silence, and the leader of the dig, is Xing Lida, a buoyantly boyish paleontologist from the China University of Geosciences in ..

‘Bright night’ glowing sky mystery solved

‘Bright night’ glowing sky mystery solved By Sid PerkinsJun. 21, 2017 , 3:45 PM
On rare occasions, the nighttime sky at Earth’s temperate latitudes becomes bright enough, even on moonless nights, for people to read a book. These mysterious events— termed “bright nights” and reported for centuries—aren’t related to the glows of aurorae. Instead, a new study suggests, the phenomena occur when four types of slow-moving, high-altitude atmospheric waves merge over a small region and, in turn, temporarily drive a 10-fold-or-stronger brightening of an ever-present glow in the upper atmosphere (green layer in the image above). That airglow arises when individual gas atoms—previously created when ultraviolet light blasted gas molecules apart—later recombine, the researchers explain. Analyzing measurements of high-altitude airglow gathered by a satellite in 1992 and 1996 (years of maximum and minimum solar flare activity, respectively), the scientists found 11 cases where airglow, in theory, br..

Any Day Now: Antarctic Ice Shelf to Break Off ‘Very’ Soon

Any Day Now: Antarctic Ice Shelf to Break Off ‘Very’ Soon

When the crack was first observed in mid-2016, it was a tiny silver. But in November, it started to grow with impressive rapidity. It was thought to be all-but-certain than an iceberg consisting of 9 to 13 percent of the 19,000 square mile ice shelf's mass would form in 2017.
After a few months of inactivity, the crack accelerated once more, growing more than 10 miles in less than a week. Only 8 miles separate the 125-mile long crack from the edge of the shelf.
© AP Photo/ John Sonntag The 1,900 square miles will be the third largest iceberg ever recorded when it breaks up, but it isn't likely to last for more than a few years before breaking apart and sinking into the ocean.
UK-based Project MIDAS (Melt on Ice Shelf Dynamics and Stability) has been leading the monitoring of Larsen C. “The rift tip appears also to have turned significantly towards the ice front, indicating that the time of calving is probably very close,” wrote Dr. Adrian Luckman, a professor of glaciology..

Yellowstone Supervolcano Shaken by Hundreds of Earthquakes

Yellowstone Supervolcano Shaken by Hundreds of Earthquakes

While pointing to an underground movement of magma, or a simple tectonic fault slip, the earthquakes, although numerous, are not being treated by experts as an immediate threat.
© Photo: Igor Shpilenok Yellowstone National Park, one of the most popular outdoor vacation destinations in the US, sits atop what is referred to by geoscientists as the Yellowstone Caldera, a vast underground volcano covering some 1500 square miles.
The most recent large-scale eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera occurred some 640,000 years ago, and shot an estimated 240 cubic miles of volcanic ash into Earth's atmosphere.
The most recent earthquake swarm, which began on June 15, topped out with a magnitude 4.5 within the park boundaries.
Geoscientists observe that earthquake swarms, while indicative of underground activity, are not an accurate predictor of an imminent volcanic eruption.
US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists, while acknowledging that an eventual eruption is likely, observe that the c..

These female frogs are the first of their kind to croon to their guys

These female frogs are the first of their kind to croon to their guys By Karl GruberJun. 21, 2017 , 3:00 AM
Birds, fish, and even humans have shattered barriers when it comes to mating rituals, from which partner initiates the courting to which one picks up the check at a fancy restaurant. But things are a bit simpler for frogs, as males and females stick to clearly defined roles: Males serenade the females, and females pick their favorite males to mate. Now, a new study suggests that the smooth guardian frog of Borneo (Limnonectes palavanensis) is an exception to that rule. During the mating season, the female frogs sing to the males in an attempt to win them over—a reversal of the normal process. In fact, if you see a single frog surrounded by a bunch of serenading croakers, called a “lek,” it’s most likely a lucky male being courted by a chorus of females. Males occasionally belt out “advertisement calls” to let females know that they are available. After mating, it’s the males who..

Artificial intelligence can predict which congressional bills will pass

Artificial intelligence can predict which congressional bills will pass

Artificial intelligence can predict which congressional bills will pass By Matthew HutsonJun. 21, 2017 , 2:30 PM
The health care bill winding its way through the U.S. Senate is just one of thousands of pieces of legislation Congress will consider this year, most doomed to failure. Indeed, only about 4% of these bills become law. So which ones are worth paying attention to? A new artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm could help. Using just the text of a bill plus about a dozen other variables, it can determine the chance that a bill will become law with great precision.
Other algorithms have predicted whether a bill will survive a congressional committee, or whether the Senate or House of Representatives will vote to approve it—all with varying degrees of success. But John Nay, a computer scientist and co-founder of Skopos Labs, a Nashville-based AI company focused on studying policymaking, wanted to take things one step further. He wanted to predict whether an introduced bill would ..

Curiosity rover decides—by itself—what to investigate on Mars

Curiosity rover decides—by itself—what to investigate on Mars By Matthew HutsonJun. 21, 2017 , 2:00 PM
NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012, in part to analyze rocks to see whether the Red Planet was ever habitable (or inhabited). But now the robot has gone off script, picking out its own targets for analysis—precisely as planned. Directing a robot’s every move from another planet isn’t easy. Communication with programmers can be delayed by hours, thanks to issues with bandwidth and the alignment of relay satellites and antennas. So Curiosity was programmed to fill communications gaps by aiming its ChemCam—which shoots objects with a laser to analyze the resulting particles—at mostly random targets. Last year, NASA scientists found a better solution. They uploaded a piece of software called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) adapted from the older Opportunity rover. Curiosity can now scan each new location and use artificial intelligence to find pr..

University of Tokyo scientist hit by anonymous allegations fights back

University of Tokyo scientist hit by anonymous allegations fights back

University of Tokyo scientist hit by anonymous allegations fights back By Dennis NormileJun. 21, 2017 , 1:00 PM
Last September, anonymous allegations of questionable data and images in 22 papers by six prominent groups at the prestigious University of Tokyo prompted the school to set up an investigating committee. Now, even before the panel completes its investigation, one of the accused researchers has mounted a staunch defense of his work, with a point-by-point rebuttal of the allegations and an apology for mistakes confirmed in several of the questioned papers.
“We believe that none of the errors affect the main conclusions of any of the reports,” Yoshinori Watanabe, who studies chromosome dynamics, writes in a statement posted in a Dropbox on 17 June. He adds that he is discussing with journals whether corrections or retractions to the affected papers would be “most appropriate.” He writes that at least one journal has already accepted a “short corrigendum.”
The allegations of ..

Bats really do harbor more dangerous viruses than other species

Bats really do harbor more dangerous viruses than other species

Bats really do harbor more dangerous viruses than other species By Kai KupferschmidtJun. 21, 2017 , 1:00 PM
Is there something special about bats? The question has been hotly debated among researchers studying the origins of deadly viruses. Marburg, Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome: They have all been linked to bats, leading some scientists to argue that something about the mysterious mammals makes them especially likely to harbor viruses dangerous to humans. “Bats are special,” is their motto. But others argue that the bat order is very well-studied and very big—one in five mammalian species is a bat—biasing results.
That debate may finally be over. A broad look at all viruses known to infect mammals suggests that bats are, indeed, more likely to carry unknown pathogens that can wreak havoc on humans. Surprisingly, the study comes from researchers who until now were bat doubters. “As a scientist, you accept the results of your own study—even if they prove you wrong!” says di..

When will Alexa, Google Assistant, and other ‘chatbots’ finally talk to us like real people?

When will Alexa, Google Assistant, and other ‘chatbots’ finally talk to us like real people?

When will Alexa, Google Assistant, and other ‘chatbots’ finally talk to us like real people? By Matthew HutsonJun. 20, 2017 , 12:45 PM
Nearly every tech company worth its silicon now has a virtual assistant: Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Assistant, among others. What do these digital helpers—known as chatbots—have in store for us? Science talked with Alexander Rudnicky, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who studies human-machine conversations, about what chatbots can and can’t do, how they learn from us, and whether we can prevent them from adopting our worst behaviors. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Let’s start with a pretty basic question. What is a chatbot?
A: Originally, they were dialogue systems that could have some sort of purposeful interaction with a human through text or speech. In the research community, the term “chat” has come to refer to non–goal-directed interacti..

Europe backs missions to search for Earth-like planets, deep space cataclysms

Europe backs missions to search for Earth-like planets, deep space cataclysms

Europe backs missions to search for Earth-like planets, deep space cataclysms By Daniel CleryJun. 20, 2017 , 5:15 PM
The European Space Agency (ESA) today gave the green light to two missions: one to find places just like home; the other to detect the biggest cataclysms in the history of the universe.
ESA’s Science Program Committee approved advancing Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) to construction. In 2026, it will begin scouring the skies for alternative Earths, terrestrial planets at a distance from sunlike stars that are comfortable for life.
At the same time, the committee placed the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) onto ESA’s roster of missions, and planners can now begin its detailed design. In 2034, LISA is scheduled to begin detecting gravitational waves in space; ripples that originate in the universe-shaking explosions produced when galaxies collide and the supermassive black holes at their cores spiral together and merge.
“We feel good,” sa..

Computer chip mimics human brain, with light beams for neurons

Computer chip mimics human brain, with light beams for neurons

Computer chip mimics human brain, with light beams for neurons By Matthew HutsonJun. 20, 2017 , 4:00 PM
Artificial neural networks, computer algorithms that take inspiration from the human brain, have demonstrated fancy feats such as detecting lies, recognizing faces, and predicting heart attacks. But most computers can’t run them efficiently. Now, a team of engineers has designed a computer chip that uses beams of light to mimic neurons. Such “optical neural networks” could make any application of so-called deep learning—from virtual assistants to language translators—many times faster and more efficient.
“It works brilliantly,” says Daniel Brunner, a physicist at the FEMTO-ST Institute in Besançon, France, who was not involved in the work. “But I think the really interesting things are yet to come.”
Most computers work by using a series of transistors, gates that allow electricity to pass or not pass. But decades ago, physicists realized that light might make certain processes mor..

EPA axes 38 more science advisers, cancels panel meetings

EPA axes 38 more science advisers, cancels panel meetings

EPA axes 38 more science advisers, cancels panel meetings By Sean Reilly, E&E NewsJun. 20, 2017 , 1:30 PM
Originally published by E&E News
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt continues to clean house at a key advisory committee, signaling plans to drop several dozen current members of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), according to an email yesterday from a senior agency official.
All board members whose three-year appointments expire in August will not get renewals, Robert Kavlock, acting head of EPA's Office of Research and Development, said in the email, which was obtained by E&E News.
Because of the need to reconstitute the board, EPA is also canceling all subcommittee meetings planned for late summer and fall, Kavlock said.
“We are hopeful that an updated BOSC Executive Committee and the five subcommittees can resume their work in 2018 and continue providing ORD with thoughtful recommendations and comments,” he wrote in urging de..

Ancient Egyptians may have given cats the personality to conquer the world

Ancient Egyptians may have given cats the personality to conquer the world

Ancient Egyptians may have given cats the personality to conquer the world By David GrimmJun. 19, 2017 , 11:00 AM
Around 1950 B.C.E., someone painted an unusual creature on the back wall of a limestone tomb some 250 kilometers south of Cairo. With its long front legs, upright tail, and triangular head staring down an approaching field rat, it is unmistakably a domestic cat—the first appearance in the art of ancient Egypt. In the centuries that followed, cats became a fixture of Egyptian paintings and sculptures, and were even immortalized as mummies, as they rose in status from rodent killer to pet to god. Historians took all this as evidence that the ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate the feline. That is, until 2004, when researchers discovered a 9500-year-old cat buried with a human on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, revealing that cats had been living with people thousands of years before Egypt even existed.
A new study could put Egypt back in the limelight. A gen..

Q&A: Why a top mathematician has joined Emmanuel Macron’s revolution

Q&A: Why a top mathematician has joined Emmanuel Macron’s revolution

Q&A: Why a top mathematician has joined Emmanuel Macron’s revolution By Elisabeth PainJun. 19, 2017 , 4:45 PM
French President Emmanuel Macron has promised his country a revolution—and after a comfortable victory in the parliamentary elections, he is well-positioned to deliver. Macron’s brand-new centrist and reformist party, La République En Marche!, won 308 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly yesterday. Almost half of his delegates are women; most have never been active in politics.
What the upset will mean for French science is unclear. Macron has promised to raise the country’s research spending from 2.2% of gross domestic product to 3% and give universities more autonomy. He aims to make France a world leader in climate and environmental science and has promised €30 million to help attract foreign scientists using a website named “Make Our Planet Great Again.” Most French scientists were relieved that Macron defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen last month, but reform..

Kepler telescope catalogs hundreds of new alien worlds, some potentially habitable

Kepler telescope catalogs hundreds of new alien worlds, some potentially habitable

Kepler telescope catalogs hundreds of new alien worlds, some potentially habitable By Daniel CleryJun. 19, 2017 , 4:45 PM
The galaxy is full of worlds like ours. That’s the lesson from Kepler, NASA’s prodigious exoplanet-hunting mission, which has found another 219 potential new exoplanets, bringing its total to 4034, according to a final analysis of its main 4-year search and published in a final catalog released today. Of the new candidates, 10 are near in size to Earth and sit in the habitable zone of their stars—the range of orbits in which liquid water could exist on their surfaces. Those new additions bring the total number of potentially habitable planets detected by Kepler to 49.
And that’s just in the corner of the sky that Kepler stared at. This now-complete catalog will help astronomers assess just how common Earth-like planets are in our galaxy overall. “I’m really excited to see what people will do with this catalog,” Susan Mullally, a Kepler research scientist at the SE..

True altruism seen in chimpanzees, giving clues to evolution of human cooperation

True altruism seen in chimpanzees, giving clues to evolution of human cooperation

True altruism seen in chimpanzees, giving clues to evolution of human cooperation By Michael PriceJun. 19, 2017 , 3:00 PM
Whether it’s giving to charity or helping a stranger with directions, we often assist others even when there’s no benefit to us or our family members. Signs of such true altruism have been spotted in some animals, but have been difficult to pin down in our closest evolutionary relatives. Now, in a pair of studies, researchers show that chimpanzees will give up a treat in order to help out an unrelated chimp, and that chimps in the wild go out on risky patrols in order to protect even nonkin at home. The work may give clues to how such cooperation—the foundation of human civilization—evolved in humans.
“Both studies provide powerful evidence for forms of cooperation in our closest relatives that have been difficult to demonstrate in other animals besides humans,” says Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who was n..

Every year, thousands of drowned wildebeest feed this African ecosystem

Every year, thousands of drowned wildebeest feed this African ecosystem

Video of Every year, thousands of drowned wildebeest feed this African ecosystem Every year, thousands of drowned wildebeest feed this African ecosystem By Elizabeth PennisiJun. 19, 2017 , 3:00 PM
It’s one of the iconic sights of Africa: hundreds of thousands of wildebeest thundering across the Serengeti in an annual mass migration. But when the animals come to the Mara River, the scene can turn deadly. Unable to scramble up steep banks, thousands drown in a mass panic or get picked off by crocodiles. It turns out, however, that what’s bad for the wildebeest is good for the ecosystem, say Amanda Subalusky and Emma Rosi, ecologists at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York.
For the past 6 years, Subalusky and her husband, Christopher Dutton, also at the Cary Institute, have studied the scale and effects of this mass carnage. They have taken stock of the pileup of carcasses, surveyed the parade of scavengers assisting in their decomposition, and tracked where nu..

Digital reconstruction of ancient chromosomes reveals surprises about mammalian evolution

Digital reconstruction of ancient chromosomes reveals surprises about mammalian evolution

Digital reconstruction of ancient chromosomes reveals surprises about mammalian evolution By Elizabeth PennisiJun. 19, 2017 , 3:00 PM
Humans have 46 chromosomes. Dogs have 78. And a small South American rodent called the red viscacha has a whopping 104. Geneticists have marveled at the chromosomal diversity among mammals for decades, and now, they may know how it happened. A new digital reconstruction of the chromosomes of the ancestor of all placental mammals reveals that these tightly packed structures of DNA and proteins have become scrambled over time—a finding that may help pinpoint possible problem sites in our genomes that underlie cancer and other disease.
The work “helps us to understand how chromosomes have changed over time, which chromosome rearrangements may have led to the formation of new species, and what might be driving chromosomal rearrangements,” says Janine Deakin, a geneticist at the University of Canberra who was not involved with the work. “This was a very ele..

DOE head says carbon dioxide not primary cause of climate change

DOE head says carbon dioxide not primary cause of climate change

DOE head says carbon dioxide not primary cause of climate change By Christa Marshall, E&E NewsJun. 19, 2017 , 2:00 PM
Originally published by E&E News
Energy Secretary Rick Perry this morning said carbon dioxide is not the primary driver of climate change, stirring the global warming debate ahead of his appearance on Capitol Hill this week.
On CNBC's “Squawk Box,” Perry was asked if he believes CO2 is the main factor driving fluctuating Earth and climate temperatures. He said “no,” adding that he thinks “most likely” the ocean waters and the environment are the main drivers.
“It shouldn't be a debate about is the climate change changing, is man having an effect on it. Yeah, we are,” Perry said. “The question should be … just how much and what are the policy changes that we need to make to affect that.”
He went on to challenge critics of skeptics. It's quite “all right” to be a skeptic about some of these issues, if one is going to be a “wise, intellectually engage..

Buzz Kill: Trump’s Paris Agreement Withdrawal Could Harm Coffee

Buzz Kill: Trump’s Paris Agreement Withdrawal Could Harm Coffee

The current pace of temperature change is set to cut the amount of coffee-arable land in half by halfway through the century, according to a recent Forbes article. The risks associated with growing the little precious beans are set to intensify already—and if temperatures change even more as a result of Trump’s move, the landscape for coffee growers looks increasingly grim.
Coffee is one of the most desired drinks in the world. Some 400 billion cups of joe are consumed annually, according to Roast and Post. But the plant’s beans can only be cultivated under certain circumstances.
Coffee plants won’t bloom if there’s frost, which is why it only grows in places near the equator. A new pest called the coffee borer has infiltrated crop fields and shows no signs of going away.
More dramatic natural events, such as drought, further threaten the mostly-poor farmers’ plants. Alternatively, excess rain can cause further woes for the mini caffeine powerhouses.
© Photo: ÇapaMag twitter Even ..

China’s Air Quality Worsens, Again, in May

China’s Air Quality Worsens, Again, in May

Some 338 prefecture-level-and-above cities around China enjoyed good air quality for 70.5 percent of the month, down 12.4 percentage points from a year earlier, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement.
The average density of fine particulate matter PM2.5 in those cities stayed unchanged from last May at 38 micrograms per cubic meter, but the density of PM10 jumped 12.7 percent year on year to 89 micrograms per cubic meter, according to the ministry.
Youtube/CNET In early May, the country's northern areas witnessed the most severe sandstorm so far this year, which affected more than 10 provincial-level regions including Beijing, and covered an area of 1.63 million square kilometers.
Due to the sandstorm, 13 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, saw the amount of days with good air quality drop by 23.5 percentage points to 39 percent in May. The density of PM2.5 and PM10 surged 14.9 percent and 59.4 percent, respectively, from a year ago, the ministry..

Russian Scientists Know How to Deal With Oil Spill Consequences

Russian Scientists Know How to Deal With Oil Spill Consequences

© Photo: ESO/M. Kornmesser The novel biosorbent eliminates oil contamination from soil after pipeline and transport company accidents. One cubic meter of the substance absorbs 1 ton of oil, which makes its capacity 7-10 times higher than that of similar sorbents, the university's press service stated. While under natural conditions the contaminated soil needs decades to recover, the new porous polymer adsorbent helps to decompose oil and oil products into carbon dioxide and water during just one season. The secret of this “magical” sorbent is in microorganisms extracted from polluted soils which are capable of decomposing oil to non-toxic compounds.
Another advantage of the Siberian scientists' sorbent is that, unlike its analogs, the substance doesn't need to be collected and recycled afterward.
Now, the team of scientists is modifying the sorbent to make its application easier. They also plan to use tree bark or sawdust in its production, which will help to solve the..

Catch of the Day: Archaeologists Find Centuries-Old Artifacts in Moscow…Again

Catch of the Day: Archaeologists Find Centuries-Old Artifacts in Moscow…Again

© Sputnik/ Maksim BlinovThe silicic cutter discovered on Sretenka Street is a tool with a sharpened edge. The well-preserved cutter belongs to the Neolithic era (5th-3rd millennium BC); it was one of the most common tools at the time, used by ancient people to treat bones, skin, horns and certain types of stone. According to a statement posted on the official website of the city mayor's office, the cutter is considered to be one of the oldest finds discovered under the “My Street” improvement program so far.
Публикация от Надежда Толмачева (@nadezhdatolmacheva) Июн 16 2017 в 5:43 PDT
Archaeological monitoring is conducted on all construction sites of the “My Street” improvement program launched in 2014. Over a thousand artifacts have been recovered in previous years during this program, and this year, hundreds of various discoveries have been recorded.
“For archaeologists, this ancient find is very important. It confirms our theory that these areas [in Moscow] were inhabited an..

Indian research labs face financial crisis

Indian research labs face financial crisis

Indian research labs face financial crisis By Sanjay KumarJun. 16, 2017 , 11:45 AM
India’s 38 premier scientific laboratories are in a budgetary pinch. A jump in expenditures on salaries, pensions, and perks for government employees, recommended by an advisory commission, is leaving little money for new research in the budget of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), based in New Delhi, which oversees the labs and their 4600 scientists. The increase in personnel expenses comes on top of a 2015 call by the government for CSIR to raise 30% to 50% of its total budget itself by commercializing its technologies.
The stark reality is that “we will be left with no funds to support new research projects,” CSIR Director General Girish Sahni wrote in an email to CSIR lab directors obtained by Science.
The budget constraints are grim. Sahni wrote in his email that after covering the roughly 15% increase in salaries, unspecified boosts to pensions, plus capital expenditures and..

Sunny days add thousands of dollars in daily tips for cab drivers

Sunny days add thousands of dollars in daily tips for cab drivers By Lindzi WesselJun. 16, 2017 , 11:45 AM
Everyone loves a sunny day. But for taxi drivers, there’s now a reason to enjoy them even more: Sunshine drives up cab tips, according to research published this month in PLOS ONE. The study tracked weather and nearly 14 million taxi rides in New York City over a 10-month period and found that a shift from a dark sky to full sunshine was linked to up to a 0.7% increase in tipping. That’s no big deal for one ride, but over dozens of trips a day, it adds up—accounting for an estimated daily increase of $17,466 in cab tips citywide. With taxi trips being a fairly standardized experience (unlike restaurants, which range dramatically in food quality and atmosphere), the researchers argue that taxicabs are a great model for understanding general tipping behavior, a practice that makes up billions of dollars of the U.S. economy. Researchers couldn’t definitively say why sunshine drove u..

Cocaine trafficking is destroying Central America’s forests

Cocaine trafficking is destroying Central America’s forests

Cocaine trafficking is destroying Central America’s forests By Emiliano Rodríguez MegaJun. 16, 2017 , 3:00 AM
Kendra McSweeney knew that something was off. When the geographer at The Ohio State University in Columbus traveled to Honduras’s La Mosquitia region in 2011 to study its indigenous communities, she saw changes to the once lushly forested landscape that shocked her: huge, indiscriminate clearings in the middle of nowhere.
When she asked locals what was going on, they insisted on a sole culprit. “Los narcos.” Drug smugglers who had moved into the region in the mid-2000s—right around the time Mexico’s war on drugs intensified, and almost a decade after McSweeney herself had lived in eastern Honduras. Traffickers in the region had to figure out a way to funnel their money into the legal economy, and land clearing—in the form of cattle ranching, agro-industrial plantations, and timber extraction—was the preferred way to do it.
McSweeney wanted to know more. So she and her collea..

Top stories: Computers that ‘think’ like humans, research chimps that can’t retire, and a protein that can halt the flu

Top stories: Computers that ‘think’ like humans, research chimps that can’t retire, and a protein that can halt the flu

Top stories: Computers that ‘think’ like humans, research chimps that can’t retire, and a protein that can halt the flu By Ryan CrossJun. 16, 2017 , 2:15 PM
Computers are starting to reason like humans
How many parks are near the new home you’re thinking of buying? What’s the best dinner-wine pairing at a restaurant? These everyday questions require relational reasoning, an important component of higher thought that has been difficult for artificial intelligence to master. Now, researchers at Google’s DeepMind have developed a simple algorithm to handle such reasoning—and it has already beaten humans at a complex image comprehension test.
Curiosity and irritation meet Macron’s effort to lure foreign scientists to France
Hours after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to “make our planet great again” by intensifying efforts to combat climate change—and inviting U.S. resea..

Texas has sanctioned unapproved stem cell therapies. Will it change anything?

Texas has sanctioned unapproved stem cell therapies. Will it change anything?

Texas has sanctioned unapproved stem cell therapies. Will it change anything? By Kelly ServickJun. 15, 2017 , 11:15 AM
Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday signed a bill allowing clinics and companies in the state to offer people unproven stem cell interventions without the testing and approval required under federal law. Like the “right to try” laws that have sprung up in more than 30 states, the measure is meant to give desperately ill patients access to experimental treatments without oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In a state where unproven stem cell therapies are already offered widely with little legal backlash, bioethicists and patient advocates wonder whether the state’s official blessing will maintain the status quo, tighten certain protections for patients, or simply embolden clinics already profiting from potentially risky therapies.
“You could make the argument that—if [the new law] was vigorously enforced—it’s going to put some constraints in..

China successfully launches x-ray satellite

China successfully launches x-ray satellite

China successfully launches x-ray satellite By Dennis NormileJun. 15, 2017 , 11:00 AM
China’s first astronomical satellite, an x-ray telescope that will search the sky for black holes, neutron stars, and other extremely energetic phenomena, raced into orbit today after a morning launch from the Gobi Desert.
The 2.5-ton Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), dubbed Insight according to the official Xinhua news agency, was carried aloft by a Long March-4B rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The newest of several x-ray telescope in space, the HXMT will observe some of the most turbulent processes in the universe. The x-rays generated by those events cannot penetrate Earth’s atmosphere; they can only be observed by instruments mounted on high-altitude balloons or satellites. The HXMT carries three x-ray telescopes observing at energies ranging from 20 to 200 kilo-electron volts as well as an instrument to monitor the space environment, according to its designers. While orbi..

Nearly 196,000 Acres of Public Land in US State of Nevada Open to Oil – NGO

Nearly 196,000 Acres of Public Land in US State of Nevada Open to Oil – NGO

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Bureau of Land Management is opening nearly 196,000 acres of public land in the US state of Nevada for fossil fuel development such as fracking, the Center for Biological Diversity said in a press release.
“Despite legal protests from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management is auctioning off 195,732 acres (304 square miles) of public lands in Nevada today for fossil fuel development,” the environmental group stated in the release on Wednesday.
Fracking on public land in northern Nevada will potentially harm the wildlife and aquifers in the area, the release stated.
© AFP 2017/ OLI SCARFFThe US government failed in its environmental analysis to address the “obvious” dangers of auctioning off the public lands to oil companies, Great Basin Resource Watch Director John Hadder stated in the release. On April 26, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the US Department of the Interior to conduct a review of all national monum..

Great paper? Swipe right on the new ‘Tinder for preprints’ app

Great paper? Swipe right on the new ‘Tinder for preprints’ app

Great paper? Swipe right on the new ‘Tinder for preprints’ app By Dalmeet Singh ChawlaJun. 15, 2017 , 5:00 PM
If you’re tired of swiping left and right to approve or reject the faces of other people, try something else: rating scientific papers. A web application inspired by the dating app Tinder lets you make snap judgments about preprints—papers published online before peer review—simply by swiping left, right, up, or down.
Papr brands itself as “Tinder for preprints” and is almost as superficial as the matchmaker: For now, you only get to see abstracts, not the full papers, and you have to rate them in one of four categories: “exciting and probable,” “exciting and questionable,” “boring and probable,” or “boring and questionable.” (On desktop computers, you don’t swipe but drag the abstract.) The endless stream of abstracts comes from the preprint server bioRxiv.
Papr co-creater Jeff Leek, a biostatistician at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Mary..

Despite Trump executive order, social cost of carbon still studied by federal agency

Despite Trump executive order, social cost of carbon still studied by federal agency

Despite Trump executive order, social cost of carbon still studied by federal agency By Hannah Hess, E&E NewsJun. 15, 2017 , 4:30 PM
Originally published by E&E News
Not far from the White House, some of the federal government's most influential number crunchers are still working on the social cost of carbon.
President Trump's executive order on energy independence effectively signaled “pencils down” on federal work to estimate the monetary damage of greenhouse gas emissions, disbanding the interagency working group that calculated the dollar value on the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet and society.
But his order didn't eliminate the metric entirely.
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' Jim Laity, a career staffer who leads the Natural Resources and Environment Branch, said yesterday his office is “actively working on thinking about the guidance” Trump gave in March.
With the Trump agenda focused on regulatory rollback, federal ag..

Coral Reefs Suffer Under Climate Stress, But Curbing Pollution Can Help

Coral Reefs Suffer Under Climate Stress, But Curbing Pollution Can Help

CC0 / Pixabay / Kiho Kim, a professor in the department of environmental sciences at American University, and his colleagues have examined the ratio of nitrogen isotopes in the coral on the eastern side of Guam, a US territory that has undergone disturbing ecological changes over the past six decades. The study showed that the damage mostly came from nitrogen derived from sewage dumped by community sewage plants and septic tanks into the Togcha River watershed and flowing downstream to the reefs.
“For our study, we focused on nitrogen, which is commonly used in pollution studies because different sources of nitrogen have distinct ratios of heavy nitrogen (15N) to light nitrogen (14N),” Kim explained in the study, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.
“Fertilizer, for example, has a low ratio of heavy nitrogen to light nitrogen. Sewage, on the other hand, has a higher ratio of heavy nitrogen to light nitrogen. By analyzing the ratio of heavy to light nitrogen in the biol..

Shifting water weight can trigger small earthquakes in California

Shifting water weight can trigger small earthquakes in California

Shifting water weight can trigger small earthquakes in California By Warren CornwallJun. 15, 2017 , 2:45 PM
Water shapes California powerfully, deluging the state with El Niño–generated rainfalls and drying it out with punishing droughts. Now, a new study suggests that water may play yet another role: triggering earthquakes.
Scientists for decades have tried to understand how different natural forces, pressing on Earth’s surface, might help explain changes in earthquake rates, with mixed results. The pulsing of the tides has been one long-standing suspect, but their effect is weak or nonexistent. In the Himalayas, rains from the annual monsoon season have also been found to affect quake frequency. And in California, criss-crossed with faults and at the center of grinding tectonic plates, quake activity seems to increase regularly in the autumn along part of the San Andreas fault—during the driest time of year.
To find out whether precipitation was playing a role, geophysicist Christ..

Slowly retiring chimps, tanning at the cellular level, and plumbing magma’s secrets

Slowly retiring chimps, tanning at the cellular level, and plumbing magma’s secrets

Project Chimps
This week we have stories on why it’s taking so long for research chimps to retire, boosting melanin for a sun-free tan, and tracking a mouse trail to find liars online with Online News Editor David Grimm.
Sarah Crespi talks to Allison Rubin about what we can learn from zircon crystals outside of a volcano about how long hot magma hangs out under a volcano.
Listen to previous podcasts.
[Image:Project Chimps; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

China's quantum satellite achieves 'spooky action' at record distance

China's quantum satellite achieves 'spooky action' at record distance

Video of Quantum satellite China's quantum satellite achieves 'spooky action' at record distance By Gabriel PopkinJun. 15, 2017 , 2:00 PM
Quantum entanglement—physics at its strangest—has moved out of this world and into space. In a study that shows China's growing mastery of both the quantum world and space science, a team of physicists reports that it sent eerily intertwined quantum particles from a satellite to ground stations separated by 1200 kilometers, smashing the previous world record. The result is a stepping stone to ultrasecure communication networks and, eventually, a space-based quantum internet.
“It's a huge, major achievement,” says Thomas Jennewein, a physicist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “They started with this bold idea and managed to do it.”
Entanglement involves putting objects in the peculiar limbo of quantum superposition, in which an object's quantum properties occupy multiple states at once: like Schrödinger's ..

No Tsunami Threat From Magnitude 7 Earthquake Off Mexico Coast

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — A magnitude 7 earthquake registered off the coast of southern Mexico at a depth of 61 miles does not present a tsunami threat, the US National Weather Service (NWS) said Wednesday.
“An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 occurred near the coast of Chiapas, Mexico at 0729 UTC on Wednesday June 14 2017,” the NWS said.
It added, “based on all available data… there is no tsunami threat from this earthquake.”

Spat threatens China’s plans to build world’s largest telescope

Spat threatens China’s plans to build world’s largest telescope By Dennis NormileJun. 14, 2017 , 10:00 AM
China's astronomers are united in wanting a world-class giant optical telescope, one that would serve notice that they are ready to compete on the global stage. But a squabble has opened up over the telescope's design. On one side is an established engineering team, led by a veteran optics expert responsible for the nation's largest existing telescope, that is eager to push ahead with an ambitious design. On the other are astronomers reveling in a grassroots priority-setting exercise—unprecedented for China—who have doubts about the ambitious design and favor something simpler.
Now, a panel of international experts has reviewed the designs and come out squarely in favor of the simpler proposal, according to a copy of the review obtained by Science. But the conclusion has not ended what one Chinese astronomer calls “an epic battle” between the high-ranking engineers..

100,000 Evacuated as Typhoon Merbok Hits South China

100,000 Evacuated as Typhoon Merbok Hits South China

From Monday morning to Tuesday morning, the city reported average precipitation of 81 mm (3.2 inches), with 219 mm (8.6 inches) reported in the region where the typhoon landed, the city's flood control and drought relief headquarters said.
Those evacuated include people who work outdoors and many living in old and at-risk houses and prefabricated structures.
© AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena A total of 2,198 fishing boats returned to ports to take shelter from the storm. In addition, 232 flights were canceled in Shenzhen.
The city has not received reports of casualties and major losses.
As heavy rain continued, the headquarters ordered more measures to guarantee the safety of construction sites, migrant workers, reservoirs, sea dikes and underground space.
© REUTERS/ Dinuka Liyanawatte Typhoon Merbok, the second typhoon of the year, made landfall in Shenzhen at around 11 p.m. Monday, according to the National Meteorological Center.
The typhoon was reduced to a tropical storm af..

Computers are starting to reason like humans

Computers are starting to reason like humans

Computers are starting to reason like humans By Matthew HutsonJun. 14, 2017 , 4:00 PM
How many parks are near the new home you’re thinking of buying? What’s the best dinner-wine pairing at a restaurant? These everyday questions require relational reasoning, an important component of higher thought that has been difficult for artificial intelligence (AI) to master. Now, researchers at Google’s DeepMind have developed a simple algorithm to handle such reasoning—and it has already beaten humans at a complex image comprehension test.
Humans are generally pretty good at relational reasoning, a kind of thinking that uses logic to connect and compare places, sequences, and other entities. But the two main types of AI—statistical and symbolic—have been slow to develop similar capacities. Statistical AI, or machine learning, is great at pattern recognition, but not at using logic. And symbolic AI can reason about relationships using predetermined rules, but it’s not great at learning on the f..

Light-activated bacteria protect rats from heart attacks

Light-activated bacteria protect rats from heart attacks By Michael PriceJun. 14, 2017 , 2:00 PM
When a heart attack strikes, blood stops flowing to parts of the heart, starving the tissue of oxygen and killing cardiac cells. Scientists have long speculated that if they could provide those cells with an emergency supply of oxygen until surgeons restored blood flow with a coronary bypass, some permanent damage to cardiac tissue could be prevented, thereby preserving heart function. A new study with rats suggests an innovative way to do that: infecting the heart with photosynthesizing bacteria that naturally produce oxygen when exposed to light.
The technique was effective at preserving cardiac function in the rodents, yet experts note there are significant obstacles to implementing it as a human therapy. “This is a fascinating, radical idea, and I’m glad it’s being tested,” says Hina Chaudhry, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, “but it’s a long road from small an..

A fetus needs to defend itself against foreign bodies—so how does it avoid attacking its mother?

A fetus needs to defend itself against foreign bodies—so how does it avoid attacking its mother?

A fetus needs to defend itself against foreign bodies—so how does it avoid attacking its mother? By Gretchen VogelJun. 14, 2017 , 1:00 PM
The immune system of a fetus developing in the womb faces a quandary: It has to prepare itself to attack dangerous pathogens after birth, by distinguishing its own cells from those of invaders. But until that time, it needs to avoid attacking the mother, whose cells are also “foreign.” A new study of fetal tissue has revealed one way the developing immune system keeps itself in check: by interrupting the production of a key weapon in the body’s arsenal against invaders.
The new insights might help researchers better understand certain types of miscarriages and a deadly immune response in premature babies. It also could lead to new ways to keep the adult immune system in check when it gets out of balance.
To better understand how the different pieces of the immune system develop, immunologists Florent Ginhoux and Naomi McGovern at the Agency for Sc..

Visit From a Black Stork: Rare Birds Return to Moscow After Century of Absence

Visit From a Black Stork: Rare Birds Return to Moscow After Century of Absence

© AP Photo/ Kent GilbertIn contrast to white storks, black storks are very cautious and prefer to live in remote and hard to reach places, away from humans. The last time this rare species was spotted living and nested in Moscow Region was in the 1920s. Ornithologists didn't reveal the exact location of the nest to keep it away from bumbling bird-watchers which they feared could cause discomfort to the black stork family. Now the birds are being observed in real time.
If a couple of black storks deliver offspring, this forest area may be declared a natural monument of regional significance, according to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Could this new compound give you a suntan—without the sun?

Could this new compound give you a suntan—without the sun?

Could this new compound give you a suntan—without the sun? By Ryan CrossJun. 13, 2017 , 12:15 PM
A new compound promises to give human skin a suntan without the sun. The compound hasn’t yet been tested in clinical trials—just in mice and on patches of human skin leftover from surgeries. But doctors are hopeful it could one day combat skin cancer by keeping people away from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
“Assuming there are no safety concerns, it is clearly a better option than UV exposure,” says Jerod Stapleton, a behavioral scientist at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick who studies indoor tanning and was not involved in the work. “We are talking about millions of young people potentially not using tanning beds each year. … It could be a game-changer for skin cancer prevention.”
The advance has its origins in a strain of “redhead” mice with rust-colored fur. The rodents harbor a variant of a gene called MC1R that gives rise to red hair and fair skin in huma..

Test your smarts on hospital bugs and Jupiter’s storms!

Test your smarts on hospital bugs and Jupiter’s storms! By Catherine MatacicJun. 13, 2017 , 11:30 AM
The Science Quiz tests your knowledge of the biggest science news stories. No matter how much you know, you're still likely to learn something–give it a try!

Report: Energy research agency that Trump wants to kill needs time to prove its worth

Report: Energy research agency that Trump wants to kill needs time to prove its worth

Report: Energy research agency that Trump wants to kill needs time to prove its worth By Christa Marshall, E&E NewsJun. 13, 2017 , 4:15 PM
Originally published by E&E News
A Department of Energy research agency targeted for elimination by the Trump administration “is not failing” and doesn't need reform, according to a report today from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
The assessment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, years in the making, finds that the DOE program is performing well on nearly every metric. Without mentioning President Trump by name, the congressionally mandated report challenges his argument that ARPA-E is unnecessary because the private sector could or should carry out the agency's functions.
Instead, the academies conclude that ARPA-E projects are too high-risk and early-stage initially to attract much private capital.
“The agency is not failing and is not in need of reform. In fact, attempts to reform the ag..

For experimental cancer therapy, a struggle to ensure supply keeps up with demand

For experimental cancer therapy, a struggle to ensure supply keeps up with demand

For experimental cancer therapy, a struggle to ensure supply keeps up with demand By Jennifer Couzin-FrankelJun. 13, 2017 , 3:15 PM
A transformative cancer therapy based on modified immune cells has lured doctors, companies, and patients alike, but many are hitting a frustrating roadblock: generating enough of these chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells to meet surging demand. The situation is fluid, with shortages cropping up in some places and easing in others. Doctors, meanwhile, are grappling with how best to distribute the experimental therapy among very sick patients in clinical trials.
“How do I allocate the resource in a way that’s fairest to everybody and that treats the most patients and potentially saves the most lives?” asks Stephan Grupp, a pediatric oncologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in Pennsylvania. Grupp has offered CAR-T therapy to more than 150 children with late-stage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)—and worries that because of supply ..

Can fake names tease out NIH reviewer bias?

Can fake names tease out NIH reviewer bias?

Can fake names tease out NIH reviewer bias? By Jeffrey MervisJun. 13, 2017 , 2:15 PM
When the label “white male” is attached to a research grant application, do peer reviewers give it a better score?
That’s the question psychologist Patricia Devine of the University of Wisconsin in Madison has spent the past 4 years—and more than $1 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland—trying to answer with an unusual experiment. Devine and her team has substituted fictitious names—those stereotypically borne by whites or blacks, and by men or women—on past NIH grant applications to test whether reviewers are biased by race and gender. The study is one of two NIH-funded projects—the other strips previous applications of all identifying characteristics before subjecting them to a new round of reviews—now underway that were spawned by a 2011 finding that black scientists have a much lower chance of receiving an NIH grant than their white counterparts.
That earlier..

Australian panel calls for clean energy target to cut emissions

Australian panel calls for clean energy target to cut emissions

Australian panel calls for clean energy target to cut emissions By Dennis NormileJun. 13, 2017 , 1:45 PM
A panel led by Australia’s chief scientist has called for the government to set a clean energy target to reduce emissions from electric power plants that would help the country meet its commitments under the Paris climate agreement. Though any goal is seen as a welcome step toward resolving the nation's long-standing emissions policy paralysis, many worry the panel has set the bar too low.
The recommendation comes from a five-member panel led by Alan Finkel, a neuroscientist and former chancellor of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Under the proposed scheme, power plants would receive certificates for producing clean electricity in proportion to how far their carbon emissions fall below a specified threshold. Technologies such as solar and wind would benefit most, but plants using gas and coal—paired with carbon capture and storage—could also earn certificates. Elec..

Quake Destroys Several Houses on Greek Eastern Island of Lesbos in Aegean Sea

Quake Destroys Several Houses on Greek Eastern Island of Lesbos in Aegean Sea

© AP Photo/ Dan JolingATHENS (Sputnik) — According to the Institute of Geodynamics of the National Observatory of Athens, the earthquake occurred between the islands of Lesbos and Chios at 12:28 GMT. A town of Plomari was particularly affected by the earthquake, with several houses destroyed and one person injured, the Sputnik correspondent has learned.
There have been no official reports of casualties caused by the earthquake so far.
#Earthquake #Greece #Plomari #Mytilene Island #Lesbos👉Tremors In #Izmir👉#Turkey & #Greece Attacked With Artificial Earthquakes Constantly‼️ pic.twitter.com/JHQMqGIIdS
— RTOY1777 (@RTOY177) 12 июня 2017 г.

Designer protein halts flu

Designer protein halts flu

Designer protein halts flu By Robert ServiceJun. 12, 2017 , 11:15 AM
There’s a new weapon taking shape in the war on flu, one of the globe’s most dangerous infectious diseases. Scientists have created a designer protein that stops the influenza virus from infecting cells in culture and protects mice from getting sick after being exposed to a heavy dose of the virus. It can also be used as a sensitive diagnostic. And although it isn’t ready as a treatment itself, the protein may point the way to future flu drugs, scientists say.
“It’s impressive,” says James Crowe, an immunologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who was not involved in the study. But because it hasn’t yet been tested in humans, “it [still] has a long way to go,” he says.
Influenza severely sickens 3–5 million people each year, and it kills between 250,000 and 500,000, mostly the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Every year, public health officials survey the three flu subtypes circulating in hum..

German breeders develop ‘open-source’ plant seeds

German breeders develop ‘open-source’ plant seeds

German breeders develop ‘open-source’ plant seeds By Lucas LaursenJun. 12, 2017 , 4:45 PM
There's open-source software, open-source pharma research, and open-source beer. Now, there are open-source seeds, too. Breeders from Göttingen University in Germany and Dottenfelderhof agricultural school in Bad Vilbel, Germany, have released tomato and wheat varieties under an open-source license. Their move follows similar schemes for sharing plant material in India and the United States, but is the first that provides legal protection for the open-source status of future descendants of plant varieties.
The idea behind the open-source license is that scientists and breeders can experiment with seeds—and improve them—unimpeded by legal restrictions. The license “says that you can use the seed in multiple ways but you are not allowed to put a plant variety protection or patent on this seed and all the successive developments of this seed,” says agricultural scientist Johannes Kotschi, who ..

Research on lab chimps is over. Why have so few been retired to sanctuaries?

Research on lab chimps is over. Why have so few been retired to sanctuaries?

Research on lab chimps is over. Why have so few been retired to sanctuaries? By David GrimmJun. 12, 2017 , 1:45 PM
Hercules and Leo are only 11 years old, but they’ve already come close to retiring twice. The two chimpanzees, born and raised at Louisiana’s New Iberia Research Center, became lab animals at the State University of New York in Stony Brook in 2011. There they shared a three-room enclosure, where scientists inserted small electrodes into their muscles to study the evolution of bipedalism. In 2013, they were the subject of an unusual legal gambit. An animal rights group sued to declare the pair legal persons and retire them to a Florida sanctuary, but the effort failed.
Two years later, Hercules and Leo returned to New Iberia, where they mingled with other chimps in outdoor domes with ladders and ropes. But retirement to a sanctuary, where they could climb real trees and have more room to roam, again seemed imminent: The U.S. government had just effectively ended invasive ..

Curiosity and irritation meet Macron’s effort to lure foreign scientists to France

Curiosity and irritation meet Macron’s effort to lure foreign scientists to France

Curiosity and irritation meet Macron’s effort to lure foreign scientists to France By Elisabeth PainJun. 10, 2017 , 12:00 PM
Just a few hours after President Donald Trump announced on 1 June that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged in a video to “make our planet great again” by intensifying efforts to combat climate change—and inviting U.S. researchers who might be unhappy with Trump to work in France.
The French government followed up on 8 June by unveiling a website aimed at attracting foreign scientists with 4-year grants worth up to €1.5 million each.
But though some U.S. researchers say the invitation is intriguing, it has irritated some French scientists, who say the move raises concerns about their nation’s commitment to homegrown science. In particular, some French researchers are disappointed that the new Macron government offered grants to foreign researchers before answering their own recent call to sho..

Life in Harmony: ‘It’s Never Been More Important to Connect to Natural World’

Life in Harmony: ‘It’s Never Been More Important to Connect to Natural World’

It's not the first time Tim Flach, the renowned wildlife photographer and winner of numerous international awards, visited Russia. “My father organized some trip around Russia and it would have been 1974. So I've been really fortunate to come here before. And now, it is a different feel, different vibe,” he told Sputnik.
© Sputnik/ Tim was 16 the first time he traveled to Saint Petersburg, and now he admits that it has changed a lot. “You get the sense of modern technologies, particularly in your ecology that you have here. You see new battery systems, cutting-edge robotics, electric vehicles…. The future's really here to be seen,” the photographer shared his impressions from SPIEF 2017.
Flach's newest book, “Endangered,” which comes October 24, 2017, is the result of his extraordinary multiyear project to document the lives of threatened animal species. Traveling around the world, the acclaimed photographer constructed a powerful visual record of remarkable anima..

‘Wow!’ 1977 Signal From Space Finally Explained

‘Wow!’ 1977 Signal From Space Finally Explained

Recorded in 1977, an anomalously powerful 72-second radio signal that burst from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius has puzzled astronomers until now, according to new information set to be published by Antonio Paris, a professor with St. Petersburg College, Florida.
© Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Bedin et al A very strong signal picked up on August 15, 1977, by Ohio State University's “Big Ear” Radio Observatory. It was so strong, and so strange, that the astronomer on duty at the time wrote “Wow!” in red ink on the printout next to the numbered data.
A subsequent search of the sky in the direction from which the Wow! signal originated revealed no known celestial object, and astronomers, astrophysicists, the tabloid press, and everyone in between had a field day theorizing, hypothesizing and just plain guessing as to what the message meant.
Now, after 40 years, a Florida-based teacher believes he has the correct answer, and the peer-reviewed Journal of the Washingt..

‘Moral Vacuum’: North Korea Trolls Trump Over US Leaving Paris Climate Deal

‘Moral Vacuum’: North Korea Trolls Trump Over US Leaving Paris Climate Deal

North Korean state-run media outlet KCNA released a statement Tuesday strongly criticizing Trump for his decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, a 2015 global climate change mitigation agreement signed by the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) and 194 other nations, including the United States.
© REUTERS/ Peter Dejong/Pool KCNA stated that the DPRK strongly supports the Paris Agreement, and referred to Trump and his advisors as displaying “the height of egoism and moral vacuum seeking only their own well-being, even at the cost of the entire planet,” for abandoning the deal.
“The selfish act of the US does not only have grave consequences for the international efforts to protect the environment, but poses great danger to other areas as well,” according to KCNA, cited by Newsweek.
Pyongyang, after signing the Paris Agreement, stated that the nation would declare a “war on deforestation,” and asserted that the country was committed to renewable resources. DP..

Mayors of Pittsburgh, Paris Agree to Abide by Climate Deal Despite US Withdrawal

Mayors of Pittsburgh, Paris Agree to Abide by Climate Deal Despite US Withdrawal

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — During the announcement of his decision to exit the Paris accord last week, Trump stated that he represents the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.
“As Mayor of Pittsburgh, I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wrote in the opinion-editorial piece published in the New York Times.
“As Mayor of Paris, I was elected to represent the citizens of Paris, not Pittsburgh,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wrote.
© REUTERS/ Peter Dejong/PoolThe co-authored text stated the only way to do right by Pittsburghers and Parisians is “to abide by the principles of the Paris [Climate] Agreement, which guarantees the future health and prosperity of both of our cities — and every other city in the world.” On Thursday, Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord. Trump argued the agreement had the potential to hurt the US economy and affect national job growth while unfairly benefiting other nations.
Trump ..

Thyroid Cancer Plagues Fukushima Evacuees, But Officials Deny Radiation to Blame

Thyroid Cancer Plagues Fukushima Evacuees, But Officials Deny Radiation to Blame

This bumps the number of Fukushima residents diagnosed with thyroid cancer up to 152. Although many times higher than the national average, the thyroid cancer rates are “unlikely” to have been increased by the reactor accident, according to vice chair of Fukushima's medical association Hokuto Hoshi.
“Those thyroid cases have been found because we conducted the survey, not because of the radiation,” concurred Akira Ohtsuru, a radiologist who examined many of the patients. “The survey has caused over-diagnosis.”
© AFP 2017/ JIJI PRESS One of those suspected of having cancer is a 4-year-old boy who hadn't even been conceived yet when his parents fled Fukushima.
The prefectural government has been conducting thyroid checkups on evacuees every year since 2013. The number of cases continuously rises every time they do so: five additional cases in 2014 and two additional ones in May 2015. This means more and more evacuees are metastasizing the illness.
Fukushima University rese..

‘Fool Me Once, Shame on You’: An Elephant Never Forgets and Neither Do Ravens

‘Fool Me Once, Shame on You’: An Elephant Never Forgets and Neither Do Ravens

Ravens are already renowned for their intelligence — their intellects rank almost as highly as chimpanzees' and dolphins', making them one of the smartest creatures on Earth.
They have better speech-learning capabilities than parrots, and can mimic a whole host of noises, such as the roar of car engines and the flush of toilets, and the noises made by other animals. They are also the only non-primate that naturally uses non-vocal signaling to communicate, using their beaks and wings to convey soundless messages to their peers — and other animals (although whether they are fully understood by non-ravens remains a mystery).
Often however, ravens use their intelligence for nefarious purposes, such as stealing fish from fishermen, and playing dead next to the carcasses of dead animals to ensure other ravens stay away from their nourishing evening meal.
Moreover, if a raven knows others are watching it hide food, it will pretend to put the food in one place, and then actually h..

Over 1,000 of Japanese Hospitalized Due to Extremely Hot Weather Over Week

TOKYO (Sputnik) — Among those who had suffered from the high temperatures, exceeding 86°F in almost all the country's regions, 17 people need the extensive treatment for three weeks and over.
Now's a beautiful time to visit the parks in Tokyo! It's a nice to visit before rainy season and the subsequent hot weather begins. 🌞🌼 https://t.co/cxq8tAieJS
— LIVE JAPAN (@LIVEJAPANGuide) 2 июня 2017 г. Around 50 percent of those affected are older than 65 years.

US Supreme Court to Hear Police Cellphone Search Lawsuit

US Supreme Court to Hear Police Cellphone Search Lawsuit

The primary issue surrounding the appeal is to ascertain whether police violated a defendant's right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure by not, as is customary in most cases, first obtaining a search warrant, according to Reuters.
© Flickr/ Japanexperterna.se Under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, a person has the right to be “secure” “against unreasonable searches and seizures,” unless “probable cause” can be shown that the person is involved in some way and so relevant to an investigation.
The mundane details of the potentially groundbreaking case revolve around a man arrested for several robberies in the Detroit area in 2011. After gaining access to the suspect's location data through their cell phone carrier, law enforcement was able to tie the suspect to the various locations of the robberies.
The man was convicted and sent to prison but lawyers appealed the case, citing a federal provision called the Stored Communications Act, in which the gove..

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