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Octopus mom protects her eggs for an astonishing 4-1/2 years
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If someone were to create an award for "mother of the year" in the animal kingdom, a remarkably dedicated eight-limbed mom from the dark and frigid depths of the Pacific Ocean might be a strong contender. Scientists on Wednesday described how the female of an octopus species that dwells almost a mile below the sea surface spends about 4-1/2 years brooding her eggs, protecting them vigilantly until they hatch while forgoing any food for herself. It is the longest known egg-brooding period for any animal, they wrote in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. ...
Lead in teeth holds secrets of person's origins, research shows
By Barbara Liston ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - The lead in human teeth holds clues about where a person grew up and can help criminal investigators and archaeologists working with old or decomposed corpses, according to a University of Florida researcher. Because lead ore deposits around the world differ, and as young people's teeth absorb traces of the metal in the environment, the region where a person grew up can be distinguished through lead analysis of a tooth, said geologist George Kamenov. "If you were born in Europe and then came to the U.S., yes, I will be able to see that," Kamenov said. In addition to aiding authorities in identifying bodies, the analysis can help archaeologists locate human remains on an historical timeline, he said.
Airbus, Safran name Alain Charmeau to run space joint venture
Airbus Group and Safran on Wednesday named Alain Charmeau as the head of a new venture designed to reorganize Europe's space launch activities. The two companies said in June they had agreed to create a 50-50 joint venture in space launchers, combining Airbus's launch systems with Safran's propulsion systems. The venture is expected eventually to incorporate the marketing teams for Europe's Ariane space rocket, currently in the European consortium Arianespace, and some design teams from French and German space agencies. It is the first concrete step toward consolidation after Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders called for a shake-up to preserve Europe's commercial access to space in the face of new competition.
NASA's Mars rover sets off-Earth, off-road distance record
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NASA's decade-old Mars rover Opportunity has set a new off-Earth, off-road distance record, logging just over 25 miles (40 km) on the surface of the Red Planet to surpass the benchmark set in 1973 by a Russian probe on the moon. Opportunity, which arrived on Mars in January 2004, a few weeks after its now-defunct rover twin Spirit, was built to drive only about a single kilometer but has continued to operate far beyond its design capabilities. On Sunday, the robot rover advanced another 157 feet (48 meters) as it continued along the rim of a Martian crater, putting Opportunity's total odometer at 25.01 miles (40.25 km), according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California. By comparison, the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover drove about 24.2 miles (39 km) in less than five months after landing on Earth's moon on Jan. 15, 1973, JPL said.
Researchers practice living on Mars - without leaving Earth
For the most part, expedition leader Casey Stedman and his five crewmates have stayed inside their 1,000-square foot (93-square meter) solar-powered dome, venturing out only for simulated spacewalks and doing so only when fully attired in mock spacesuits. "I haven?t seen a tree, smelled the rain, heard a bird, or felt wind on my skin in four months,? Stedman wrote in a blog on Instagram. Stedman is a U.S. Air Force Reserve officer, graduate student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide. ?We are simulating a long-duration mission on Mars, with a focus on crew psychology in isolation,? the crew said during an online interview with Reddit on Sunday.
What Tiny Drones Can Learn from Hummingbirds
Improving the design of the world's tiniest drones could start with taking a closer look at one of nature's smallest and most efficient flyers, the hummingbird. In a new study, researchers at Stanford University's Bio-Inspired Research and Design (BIRD) lab compared the flight of 12 different species of hummingbird with that of a Black Hornet Nano, one of the world's smallest drones. "The hummingbird is such an exceptional bird. It's got so much power," said lead study researcher David Lentink, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford.
Odd Cause of Gaping Siberian Holes Possibly Found
In mid-July, reindeer herders stumbled across a crater that was approximately 260 feet (80 meters) wide, on the Yamal Peninsula, whose name means "end of the world," The Siberian Times reported. Russian scientists have launched an investigation to find out more. "My personal opinion is it's some type of sinkhole," said Vladimir Romanovsky, a geophysicist who studies permafrost at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The water likely came from melting permafrost or ice, said Romanovsky, who has spoken with the Russian scientists investigating the site.
Otzi 'The Iceman' Had Heart Disease Genes
Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved mummy discovered in the Alps, may have had a genetic predisposition to heart disease, new research suggests. The new finding may explain why the man ? who lived 5,300 years ago, stayed active and certainly didn't smoke or wolf down processed food in front of the TV ? nevertheless had hardened arteries when he was felled by an arrow and bled to death on an alpine glacier. "We were very surprised that he had a very strong disposition for cardiovascular disease," said study co-author Albert Zink, a paleopathologist at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano in Italy. Past research has revealed that Ötzi likely suffered from joint pain, Lyme disease and tooth decay, and computed tomography (CT) scanning revealed calcium buildups, a sign of atherosclerosis, in his arteries.
Vintage NASA Spacecraft to Tackle Interplanetary Science
A private team is priming a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft to perform new science as it travels through interplanetary space after attempts to move the probe into a position closer to Earth failed. "We're disappointed we couldn't put it in the L-1 orbit, but we had a lot of scientists saying we're more interested in interplanetary space," Keith Cowing, co-leader of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, told Space.com.
The Future of Moon Exploration, Lunar Colonies and Humanity
The motives that drove teams to send these robotic emissaries to the moon might be different ? ranging from inspiring a country to starting a sustainable, commercial endeavor ? but they have all flown the more than 200,000 miles (321,000 kilometers) to the moon, riding on a wave of commercial hopes that rest on the lunar surface. "For the X Prize, we're going to carry multiple X Prize teams with us to the surface," said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic, a team competing for the Google Lunar X Prize private moon race.
Hungarian scientists aim for prototype of cancer surgery device
By Krisztina Than BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian scientists are aiming for the first prototype of a new device in two years that will help surgeons distinguish between healthy tissue and tumours in a split-second as they operate and remove cancerous tissue precisely. Hungarian chemist Zoltan Takats started to work on the technology in 2002 in the United States and from 2004 onwards at the Budapest Semmelweis Medical University in cooperation with the Imperial College London, where he works now. Last week, U.S.-based Waters Corporation acquired the technology - called Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) - from Hungarian start-up firm MediMass Ltd. Waters said in a July 22 statement on its website that the technology could be used to create the "Intelligent Knife" or "iKnife," a device "in the conceptual stages of development that could potentially be used for real-time diagnostics in surgery".
Scientists Closing in on Theory of Consciousness
The 17th century French philosopher René Descartes proposed the notion of "cogito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"), the idea that the mere act of thinking about one's existence proves there is someone there to do the thinking. "The only thing you know is, 'I am conscious.' Any theory has to start with that," said Christof Koch, a neuroscientist and the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Neuroscience in Seattle. In the last few decades, neuroscientists have begun to attack the problem of understanding consciousness from an evidence-based perspective. In fact, Koch and Francis Crick, the molecular biologist who famously helped discover the double-helix structure of DNA, had previously hypothesized that this region might integrate information across different parts of the brain, like the conductor of a symphony.
No Fukushima radiation in tests off U.S. West Coast: scientists
By Courtney Sherwood PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Tests of water off the U.S. West Coast have found no signs of radiation from Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, although low levels of radiation are ultimately expected to reach the U.S. shore, scientists said on Tuesday. Results obtained this week in tests of water gathered by an Oregon conservation group and tested by East Coast scientists came in as expected with no Fukushima-linked radiation, and five more tests are planned at six-month intervals to see if radiation levels will climb. "We've seen radiation halfway across the Pacific, north of Hawaii, but in U.S. waters there has been none, yet," Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Ken Buesseler said. Tests of some fish species, which can race across the ocean more quickly than slow-moving currents, have shown higher levels of radiation, although radiation levels in sea life off the U.S. shore are still safe, Buesseler said.
Quantum Wonderland: Neutron 'Cheshire Cats' Created
The Cheshire Cat of the classic children's book "Alice in Wonderland" had a smile that could disconnect from its body. For instance, a particle can apparently exist in two or more places at once or spin two opposite directions at the same time, a property known as superposition. Theoretical physicists last year predicted that the peculiar nature of quantum physics might allow the properties of particles to exist in two or more places simultaneously. This mimics the story of the Cheshire Cat, in which Alice notes, "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin ? but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"
Is Your Life Story Written in Your Poop?
In a new experiment, researchers studied gut and saliva bacteria in two people over a year, to investigate how microbial communities in people's bodies, called their microbiota, changed over time. The study participants provided stool and saliva samples nearly every day during the study period, and chronicled their daily health and behavior, including their diet, exercise, bowel movements and mood, using a diary app. The ratio then returned to normal when the study participant returned home, according to the study, led by Lawrence David, an assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In the other study participant, an intestinal infection with Salmonella, resulted in the permanent decline of most gut bacterial types, which were replaced by genetically-similar species, according to the study published today (July 24) in the journal Genome Biology.
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