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Melting of Arctic sea ice providing food for creatures: scientists say

Wed, 04/05/2017 - 03:39

Melting of sea ice in the Arctic region is providing more and more food for a range of creatures in the region, a new research revealed.

In a recent study, researchers found massive blooms of phytoplankton growing under the Arctic Sea. Experts have linked the blooms to increasing global temperatures and melting of ice. However, they also find that the development is ensuring more food for local creatures/

Heidi Louise Sorensen explained that melted ponds create a little ecosystem beneath the surface of water. Algae and other microorganisms provide food for several marine creatures, which live at or near the seabed.

Speaking on the topic, Sorensen added, “Given that larger and larger area of melt ponds is being formed in the Arctic, we can expect the release of more and more food for creatures in the polar sea.”

Sorensen, a Ph.D. student at the University of South Denmark, and other researchers from Aarhus University, made the discovery after studying the growing phenomenon of the melting of sea ice and melt ponds in the region.

Typically, phytoplankton can not grow under the ice as ice blocks sunlight from reaching the water below. But, increasing global temperatures have caused an unprecedented melting of ice in the Arctic Sea, allowing sunlight to enter the water below and massive blooms of phytoplankton to grow.

General: Environment

Online images depict Galaxy S8 Plus prototypes with dual camera setups

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 03:55

A short video and a couple of images swirling around the web are depicting a number of Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus prototypes with dual camera setups.

The leaked video and images apparently corroborating some older reports that suggested that the Korean manufacturer had plans to integrate two main lenses into the rear of its newest flagship smartphone.

Those previous reports, which began appearing in late August, were promptly dismissed by several industry insiders who eventually ended up being correct as both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones were launched with single-lens main camera setups.

Nevertheless, the video and images depicting numerous Galaxy S8 Plus prototypes featuring dual camera setups continue to swirl the web. However, the handsets shown in the images are not particularly as eye-catching as the official devises look like.

Unlike conventional camera systems, dual camera setups allow original equipment makers to enhance on the imaging capabilities of their devices without fitting a smartphone with a large camera bump. Some smartphone makers like Huawei and LG are already utilizing this technology.

Technology: TechnologyCompanies: Samsung

Astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks spacewalking record for women

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 06:11

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson recently set a new spacewalking record for women in space as she along with a fellow astronaut ventured outside the International Space Station (ISS) for the second time within a week.

Whitson and Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough set out at 7:29 a.m. EDT and spent more than 7 hours working outside the space station.

They outfitted a recently relocated docking module to ready it for arrival of commercial crew spacecraft in 2018. The pair upgraded a computer relay box, connected power & data cables to Pressurized Mating Adapter 3, and covered the lately vacated CBM port PMA-3.

Despite the success of the mission, the spacewalk was not all triumphs as the pair accidentally lost some apparatus in the vacuum of space.

Four hours and 23 minutes into the spacewalk, Whitson broke the record for cumulative time spent by any woman in spacewalking. She broke the previously set record of NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who spent a total of 50 hours and 40 minutes in spacewalking.

After completing her most recent spacewalk, Whitson shattered that record, racking up 53 hours and 22 minutes in total.

Companies: NASAGeneral: Science NewsPeople: Peggy Whitson

Fang blenny fish’s venom may help develop new painkillers

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 04:31

A new study by a team of Australian and British scientists has suggested that tiny fanged fish called blennies’ unusual venom could be used to produce new painkillers.

The fang blenny has two huge canines jutting out of the lower jaw. Members of this species use their venom to put off attackers; and not to kill their preys.

Associate Prof. Bryan Fry of University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences Venom Evolution Lab led a team of researchers who conducted a series of experiments on lab mice and found that the venom is painless.

The venom of the fearless 1.5-3- inch swimmers just numbs potential predators; rather than triggering pain in their bodies.

Sharing their findings, the researchers reported, “The fish injects other fish with opioid peptides that act like heroin or morphine, inhibiting pain rather than causing it. The venom causes the bitten fish to become slower in movement and dizzy by acting on their opioid receptors.”

The findings of the new study were detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Current Biology.

General: Science NewsResearchRegion: Australia

NASA’s Juno probe sends back stunning images of Jupiter

Sat, 04/01/2017 - 04:04

Renowned U.S. space agency NASA has released some really stunning new images of Jupiter that were captured and sent back to Earth by its space probe Juno.

Designed to map our solar system’s biggest planet’s poles and atmosphere, Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit in July 2016 after a 5-year journey, and it has been probing the planet since then.

Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute, said that the new images look like paintings of Van Gogh.

Speaking on the topic, Bolton said, “I kind of expected some of this, because a long time ago, Voyager took pictures, and other spacecraft that have gone near Jupiter have taken some images, but they’re usually global ones and boy, when you get close and you see these swirls, they look like art.”

The new images show stunning clouds above the surface of Jupiter that are produced by the planet’s incredibly complex atmospheric dynamics, including winds and turbulence.

Juno has already orbited the largest planet of our solar system five times since it arrival on in early July last year, and its most recent closest flyby of the planet occurred on 27th of March.

General: Science NewsCompanies: NASA

Sea lamprey’s sex is determined by its growth rate

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 03:00

Sex of sea lampreys, a parasitic species of fish, is determined by its growth rate as members of this species could become male or female depending on how rapidly they grow, a new study revealed.

A team of researchers led by USGS scientist Nick Johnson took a closer look at sea lampreys’ growth rate, and found that the sex of sea lamprey isn’t determined at birth; rather it is determined by the pace of their growth.

Slower rate of their growth during the larval phase boosts their chances of becoming male while more conductive surroundings for their growth results boosts their changes of becoming female.

The researchers stressed they were surprised to find that sea lampreys are the first creatures that have been found undergoing sex determination in this strange way.

Speaking on the topic, Johnson said, “We were startled when we discovered that these data may also reveal how sex is determined because mechanisms of sex determination in lamprey are considered a holy grail for researchers.”

The researchers expressed hope that the results of the new study could help scientists develop novel technologies to disrupt or modify gender in sea lampreys, providing new ways to control this invasive predator.

General: Science NewsResearch

Researchers find magnetized waves rippling across Sun

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 03:11

The National Center for Atmospheric Research’s High Altitude Observatory has announced that the same gigantic, magnetized waves that ripple through the atmosphere of Earth have just been found rippling across the Sun too.

The so-called Rossby or planetary waves typically occur far above the surface of Earth, influencing weather patterns and jet streams. It is the first time that these waves have been discovered across the Sun.

Scientists believe that the discovery of the waves across the sun could explain why solar storms and flares have been so hard for them to predict. Solar storms could become a big issue in future as they can damage satellites in space and power grids on the surface.

Lead researcher Scott McIntosh said in a statement, “The discovery of magnetised Rossby waves on the Sun offers the tantalising possibility that we can predict space weather much further in advance.”

The discovery of the gigantic, magnetized waves rippling across the Sun was detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Nature Astronomy.

General: Science NewsResearch

NASA announces new mission to measure interstellar cosmic material

Wed, 03/29/2017 - 03:31

U.S. space agency NASA has announced a new mission to measure cosmic material in between stars to help astronomers determine the life cycle of interstellar gas in the Milky Way.

Led by Christopher Walker of the University of Arizona, a team of scientists will fly an Ultra-long Duration Balloon equipped with a telescope and carbon, oxygen & nitrogen emission line detectors.

The Galactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO) mission will provide the first –of-its-kind complete study of all phases of life cycle in our galaxy.

It will provide scientists with a spectral and spiral resolution of information, which will help scientists unravel the intricacy of the interstellar medium.

Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics division in the Washington-based Science Mission Directorate, said, “GUSTO will provide the first complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle.”

A panel of NASA scientists reviewed a couple of mission concept studies picked from the eight proposals submitted in 2014, and the panel has now determined that GUSTO has the best potential for providing excellent science research with a viable development plan.

Companies: NASAGeneral: Science NewsRegion: United States

Uber suspends self-driving testing program in Arizona

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 03:46

In wake of a car crash involving one of its autonomous cars, Uber has officially suspended its self-driving testing program in the U.S. state of Arizona.

An image posted on Twitter showed a self-driving Uber Volvo car half-capsized on one of its sides. Dents and smashed windows of the vehicle indicated that it was a high-impact accident iin Tempe, Arizona.

Validating the crash, a spokesperson for the company said that Uber officially halted its self-driving testing program in Arizona as well as pushed pause on Pittsburgh operations until it finishes a probe into the incident.

It is the latest setback for a company that is already facing a range of controversies as the company is already reeling under allegations of sexual harassment and technology theft, in addition to soaring financial losses.

Google’s parent firm Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo has filed a lawsuit against Uber, claiming it is using its stolen technology in its self-driving cars. It claims that former Google executive Anthony Levandowski stole the technology and left the company to start his own business called Otto, which was later acquired by Uber.

Waymo requested the court to issue an injunction against Otto as well as Uber. A hearing on the injunction motion is scheduled for 27th of April this year.

Business: Auto SectorCompanies: UberRegion: United StatesTechnology: Technology News

Hundreds of millions of people to switch off lights to mark Earth Hour

Mon, 03/27/2017 - 03:28

People around the globe are being urged to switch off their lights for an hour on Saturday night to mark Earth Hour and support action on climate change.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the organizer of the event, claims it is going to be the world’s largest voluntary action as hundreds of millions of people in some 7,000 cities in more than 170 nations will turn off lights to mark Earth Hour.

Colin Butfield, director of campaigns at WWF, said that action would show global unity to tackle the issue of climate change, which is impacting us here and now.

Speaking on the topic, Butfield added, “We are seeing it across the globe, from the Great Barrier Reef suffering mass bleaching for an unprecedented second year in a row, to more severe weather in Britain.”

Blackpool Tower, Brighton Pier, Cardiff’s Senedd Building, Falkirk’s Kelpies sculpture and Edinburgh Castle are among the participants. The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben will also switch off their lights to back the global action on climate change.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sydney Opera House, New York’s Empire State Building, the Egyptian Pyramids, Tokyo Tower, and the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, will keep their lights switched off between 8.30pm and 9.30pm to mark Earth Hour.

General: Science NewsRegion: New York

‘Bad luck’ mutations boost cancer risk more than one’s behavior: research

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 03:32

A new research has suggested that genetic mutations that develop into cancer are caused by simple random errors occurring during replacement of cells, indicating that ‘bad luck’ mutations boost cancer risk more than one’s behavior.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at Johns Hopkins University, found that 66 per cent of the genetic mutations developing into cancer are caused by simple random errors that take place when cells replace themselves.

On the other hand, environmental factors were found to be contributing only 29 per cent of mutations. The remaining 5 per cent of mutations are inherited.

Dr. Vogelstein said in a statement, “Every time a perfectly normal cell divides, as you all know, it makes several mistakes — mutations. Now most of the time, these mutations don't do any harm … Occasionally, one of these random miscopies will occur in a cancer-driving gene. That’s bad luck.”

The research described how dumb luck plays a bigger role than environmental, lifestyle as well as hereditary factors in causing the deadly disease.

The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the journal Science.

General: Science NewsResearch

Arctic sea ice dips to record low for winter

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 03:14

Giving a strong signal of a global warming, the Colorado-based National Snow & Ice Data Center has announced that extent of floating ice in the Arctic region hit a new low for winter.

Arctic Sea ice hit this year a record low wintertime maximum extent of 5.57 million square miles. That is nearly 35,000 square miles below 2015’s record low.

Sea ice floating around Antarctica also slipped to its lowest extent at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In February 2017, the combined sea ice extent in the two regions was at its record low since 1979.

Satellite images suggested that total polar sea ice covered nearly 16.21 million square kilometers, which is 2 million sq. km. less than the average global minimum extent recorded between 1981 and 2010.

Sea ice scientist Walt Meier of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said, “It is tempting to say that the record low we are seeing this year is global warming finally catching up with Antarctica.”

Most scientists say increasing carbon emissions are responsible for the global warming that is being blamed for melting ice at the poles. However, President Donald Trump and other Republicans don’t believe so.

Companies: NASAGeneral: Science NewsRegion: United States

Urinating, pouring alcohol on jellyfish sting can make things worse: study

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 03:21

Urinating and pouring alcohol on a jellyfish sting are some of the most commonly suggested home remedies. But, a new study has cautioned that such remedies can actually make things worse for the victim.

Urine contains urea that helps with tentacle removal, but it is too diluted to help the victim. The salt in the pee can trigger more nematocysts, giving a burning sensation to the skin. Moreover, peeing on someone or in someone’s presence is quite embarrassing for everyone involved.

The new study also warned that scraping away the tentacles is not a good idea as pressure can trigger the nematocysts. Alcohol can make them fire off even more, while other DIY remedies like baking soda and shaving cream have no effect on the stingers.

Lead researcher Prof. Angel Yanagihara of University of Hawaii, said, “Anyone … encounter authoritative web articles claiming the best thing to do is rinse the area with seawater, scrape away any remaining tentacles, and then treat the sting with ice. Not only did they find out some didn’t work, research showed some actions actually worsened stings.”

However, vinegar works as it prevents the nematocysts from firing off. Thus, if a jelly fish stings you, you should pour some concentrated vinegar on the affected area.

The new study, conducted to test the validity of the home remedies, was detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Toxins.

General: Science NewsRegion: Hawaii

Whales’ ‘super groups’ mystify researchers

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 04:05

Marine biologists are struggling to figure out why humpback whales, typically solitary creatures, are hanging out in densely packed “super groups” off the coast of South Africa.

Experts said humpback whales typically hang out in groups of up to 20, but they are suddenly hanging out in group of up to 200, and they are focused on feeding.

Lead researcher Ken Findlay said, “When you’re in a small boat with 200 humpback whales around you — they’re 14-meter animals — and you’ve got whales popping up all around you, it’s a really incredible experience.”

Precise reason for the whales’ this recent novel behavior pattern remains speculative. However, some experts believe that it could be because of swelling numbers of humpback whales in the region in addition to abundance of prey.

The findings are based on observations conducted during October and November, which are spring-summer months in South Africa, in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

The researchers from South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs reported their findings in the latest edition of the PLOS One journal.

General: Science NewsResearchRegion: South Africa

Sprint, U.S. Cellular kick off preorders for LG G6

Sun, 03/19/2017 - 04:08

After Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and AT&T, telecommunication services providers Sprint and U.S. Cellular have also kicked off preorders for the LG G6 on their respective networks.

Sprint is offering the LG G6 for $29.50 per month, stretched more than two years. However, customers can also pay the total amount of $708 outright. The handset’s shipping will start on April 7, 2017.

Sprint CTO John Saw said in a statement, “The debut of LG G6 is an important step forward in building the global HPUE ecosystem with progress being made in record time after the standardization of the technology in December.”

Announcing preorders for the LG G6, Sprint also made a lucrative offer by offering a Google Home speaker for nothing. In addition, Sprint announced its decision to give buyers a 49-inch LG 1080p HDTV free of cost.

U.S. Cellular has also started accepting preorders for the LG G6, with shipments slated for April 7. It is offering the Google Home speaker worth $129 for free. However, it isn’t offering a free TV.

The above-mentioned offers are valid for a limited time period and can only be availed through online registration fro the new handset.

Companies: LGSprintTechnology: TechnologyPeople: John Saw

It mayn’t be easy to colonize Mars: Buzz Aldrin

Sat, 03/18/2017 - 03:59

Former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was a part of the Apollo 11 Moon mission in July 1969, has cautioned that Elon Musk-led SpaceX’s ambitious plan to send humans to Mars to colonize the Red Planet may not be easy.

In September last year, Musk revealed plans to travel to Mars and colonize the neighboring planet. He outlined the spaceships and rockets needed to send humans to the Red Planet. However, the plans fall short of information on how the first humans on Mars will be able to stay there.

Aldrin said that Musk’s has a myopic view because instead of focusing on what humans will do upon their arrival on the Red Planet, he is focusing on the travel.

The 87-year-old former astronaut said, “We know how to get to Mars. We are going to build a big rocket, put a dragon on top, and go land on Mars … You have got to live in something. You have to prepare for all of that. We don't have to get people there until we need to do the delicate [work].”

Some experts have suggested an intermediate step. The idea is to use Mars’ moon Phobos as a place to land on first and make final preparations for reaching the surface of the Red Planet.

Aldrin isn’t the first to raise questions on Musk’s plan to colonize the Red Planet. Previously, NASA scientists echoed similar concerns as survival on the Red Planet will largely be hinged on how efficiently humans will be able to adapt to the planet’s harsh environment.

Companies: NASAGeneral: Science NewsPeople: Elon Musk

Russian FSB agents reportedly facilitated 2014 Yahoo hacking attack

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 03:20

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has indicted that two Russian FSB agents played a key role in the 2014 Yahoo hacking attack which compromised hundreds of millions of Yahoo email accounts.

Russian agents Igor Sushchin and Dmitry Dokuchaev reportedly paid hackers to hack into Yahoo’s cyber security and gain access to accounts containing personal and sensitive information about the owners, including their birth dates, contacts and other email accounts.

Apart from paying the hackers, the two Russian agents also facilitated and protected them during the hack as well as directed them what to do.

News of Russian agents’ involvement in the case emerged as part of the indictment that started making rounds yesterday when the DOJ would reportedly be handing down the charges.

One of the hackers named in the indictment is Alexsey Belan, one the FBI’s Cyber Most Wanted cyber criminals. A Canadian hacker identified as Karim Baratov was taken into custody just yesterday.

Belan has escaped to Russia as the U.S. doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Russia. American authorities may never be able to arrest three Russian defendants who have been named in the case. However, it is possible that these defendants could face charges if Russian authorities agree to cooperate with the U.S.

Companies: YahooTechnology: InternetTechnologyRegion: Russia

Newly discovered planetary system named after famous beer brand

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 03:37

The discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby star dubbed TRAPPIST-1 isn’t new. However, many people remain unaware of the fact that new planetary system has been named after the discoverers’ favorite beer.

Trappist has been associated with the popular brand of monastic beer that stemmed from Belgium many centuries ago. The scientists not only named the star after the beer but also nicknamed the planets orbiting it.

Each of the TRAPPIST-1 star’s seven exoplanets, the planets outside our own solar planet, has been named something coinciding with a Trappist brewery, such as Orval, Rochefort and Westvleteren.

Many scientists believe that the seven Earth-sized exoplanets many have life-supporting conditions, and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could help determine that.

Hannah Wakeford, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said, “These are the best Earth-sized planets for the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize, perhaps for its whole lifetime. The Webb telescope will increase the information we have about these planets immensely.”

Scheduled to be launched in 2018, the (JWST) will likely be able to detect methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen or water on the exoplanets, helping scientists to determine if the distant worlds really have life-supporting conditions.

General: Science NewsCompanies: NASA

Scientists solve mystery of early supermassive black holes

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 03:13

The birth of early supermassive black holes has been puzzling astronomers since they were first detected more than a decade ago. However, a new study claims that scientists may finally be a step closer to solving the mystery.

The earliest supermassive black holes, with mass around a billion times of the Sun, came into existence just 800,000 years after the so-called Big Bang. But, scientists say it should take millions of years for such voids to accumulate that much mass.

Thus, astronomers remained perplexed over how these black holes grew so quickly. A team of scientists from Ireland’s Dublin City University, the US’ Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Finland’s University of Helsinki, found in the new study that it might be due to radiation.

The scientists found that clumping of gas to form dense pockets of material in a galaxy marks the first stage of star formation. But this process is hindered by radiation, which makes the birth of new stars impossible.

Lead study author John Regan, a researcher from Dublin City University, added, “Understanding how supermassive black holes form tells us how galaxies, including our own, form and evolve, and ultimately, tells us more about the universe in which we live.”

The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the Nature Astronomy.

General: Science NewsRegion: Columbia

Pruitt’s comments put him at odds with majority of climate scientists

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 03:21

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s controversial comments have put him at odds with the majority of scientists and even many of his predecessors at the federal agency.

While a big majority of scientists have been blaming human activities like burning of fossil fuels for the global warming and climate change, Pruitt said in a TV show that there is not robust evidence showing a link between human activities and climate change. He also argued that there is a need to continue the debate as well as continue the analysis.

His controversial comments triggered an immediate pushback from the scientific community as well as environment groups. Some of his predecessors at the agency also criticized him.

Gina McCarthy, the agency’s most recent chief, said, “The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs. When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.”

Phone calls from angry constituents to Pruitt’s main line, 202-564-4700, hit so high volume by the recently past Friday that EPA officials were reportedly forced to create an impromptu call center. However, agency officials declined to confirm the creation of the impromptu call center.

General: Science NewsCompanies: NASAEPA


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