Science news

Asteroid 2004 BL86 set for close encounter with Earth in January

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-01-19 13:42

Measuring a third of a mile across, the asteroid should reach a point three times distance from Earth to the moon, says Nasa

An asteroid a third of a mile across will pass close by Earth on 26 January.

Codenamed 2004 BL86, the asteroid is expected to reach a point about 745,000 miles from our planet, or three times the distance to the moon.

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How do you buy a dinosaur?

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-01-19 11:55

Professor Paul Barrett, head of fossil vertebrates and anthropology at London’s Natural History Museum, reveals the story of how the museum obtained a rare Stegosaurus skeleton for research and display

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Ecstasy and tragedy: how to prevent recreational drug deaths – podcast

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-01-19 11:44
Four recent deaths in the UK have been linked to a batch of 'Superman' ecstasy pills. Should public facilities for testing drugs without fear of prosecution be made available? Continue reading...






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Two planets as big as Earth ‘could be on edge of solar system’

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-01-19 09:43

Scientists say belt of space rocks known as ‘extreme trans-Neptunian objects’ appear to be influenced by gravitational pull

At least two as-yet undiscovered planets as big as Earth or larger may be hiding in the outer fringes of the solar system, scientists believe.

The secret worlds are thought to exist beyond the orbits of Neptune, the furthest true planet from the Sun, and the even more distant tiny “dwarf planet” Pluto.

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Forget grown-ups: apps can let kids teach themselves

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-01-19 08:00
The man running the Global Learning X Prize contest explains why it is offering $15 million to develop tablet software that teaches kids basic literacy






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Epic cosmic radio burst finally seen in real time

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-01-19 08:00
They're over in a flash, but a mega-powerful radio burst has finally been spotted in real time, rather than in old data, giving clues to their mysterious origin






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Blue Monday: is it really the most depressing day of the year?

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-01-19 07:00

It’s Blue Monday again. The most depressing day of the year. But is it really? REALLY? No, no it isn’t. But this doesn’t seem to make any difference, people still keep bringing it up

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Eureka relived: Gunpowder blasts from the past

New Scientist - news - Sun, 2015-01-18 16:00
Gunpowder was a favourite toy of early scientific experimenters. So we were keen to see the enigmatic explosive in action in a replica 17th-century test rig (full text available to subscribers)






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Flu vaccines: a mixture of hard science and good fortune

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-18 10:00
Every year, infectious-disease experts from around the US pick the influenza strains to target. Then, they wait and hope

In early March, Robert Daum and other US-based infectious-disease experts will gather in a Silver Spring, Maryland, hotel to choose the influenza strains that vaccine makers should target for the 2015-16 flu season.

It’s an annual guessing game of sorts, one backed by data but also plagued with uncertainty. And when the guesses don’t match the reality, as happened this past year, it can mean a dismal and deadly flu season.

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Why the modern world is bad for your brain

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-18 08:30

In an era of email, text messages, Facebook and Twitter, we’re all required to do several things at once. But this constant multitasking is taking its toll. Here neuroscientist Daniel J Levitin explains how our addiction to technology is making us less efficient

Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence. Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.

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Daniel J Levitin Q&A: ‘We’ve created more information in the past few years than in all of human history before us’

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-18 08:30

The author of The Organized Mind explains how naps, calendars and periods away from the internet can all help focus our mind

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How Britain’s second world war spirit benefited science

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-18 00:05
A new exhibition illustrates the progress that was made in science during Churchill’s time as prime minister Continue reading...






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Are scientists wrong to talk about ‘luck’?

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-18 00:04

The strong reaction to recent press reports about cancer risk have highlighted our deep-seated need for reason

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Eureka relived: Alchemy that's more than magic

New Scientist - news - Sat, 2015-01-17 16:00
Recreating the convoluted preparations of alchemists reveals a world of painstaking chemical experimentation beyond funny robes and pointed hats (full text available to subscribers)






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A Selfish turn around CERN

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-17 15:42

Author Will Self orbits the 27km circumference of the CERN Large Hadron Collider, and turns the French countyside into Dulston, albeit with occasional flashes of fun

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Formation-flying satellites link up to create giant virtual telescope in orbit

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-17 13:09
European Space Agency’s Proba-3 project to unlock mysteries of the sun, using small precision spacecraft, could be used to study distant stars and planets in search for evidence of alien life

It is a groundbreaking mission that will sweep robotic spacecraft around the Earth in displays of global formation flying. High-precision guidance systems and delicate rocket thrusters will enable the project’s two satellites to move in synchrony. And if all goes to plan, European engineers will have created an extraordinary device in orbit.

The European Space Agency (Esa) project is breathtaking in its ambition and depends on a level of precision never before achieved in orbit. By flying two or more small satellites in very tight formation, virtual telescopes of incredible power and sensitivity will help astronomers to observe Earth-like planets in orbit around distant stars. These worlds could then be studied to determine if they could support extraterrestrial life.

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Shelf Life: Six ways to prepare a coelacanth

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-17 12:54

How do you preserve a fish so researchers can study it for hundreds of years into the future? This video shows six different methods used by the American Museum of Natural history to preserve its coelacanth specimens for research.

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Polar bears migrate north as rising temperatures hasten Arctic ice melt

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-17 10:00
New study of DNA suggests generations of bears are ‘moving towards areas with more persistent year-round sea ice’ Continue reading...






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Beagle 2 spacecraft found intact on surface of Mars after 11 years

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-17 09:36

British Beagle 2 probe had not been seen or heard from since December 2003 and had been presumed destroyed

So near and yet so far. New images show that the UK’s Beagle 2 successfully landed on the surface of Mars in 2003 but failed to fully deploy its solar panels. Without these, it could not communicate with Earth and scientists lost contact.

The discovery images come from the HiRISE camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They show a bright shape that looks like the lander with some of its solar panels deployed.

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Prescription painkillers' overuse has become 'silent epidemic', US warns

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-01-16 19:21
  • NIH finds little evidence to justify opioid drugs’ use against chronic pain
  • 46 Americans die from prescription painkiller overdoses daily: CDC doctor
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