Science news

Space camp has kids reaching for the stars – and Mars – despite Nasa struggles

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-07-25 12:00

Experts say the US has hit a low point in its storied space history, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of children from spending their summers learning about the cosmos – and hoping, perhaps, to be among the first on the red planet

Recent evidence, at least, would seem to suggest that space camp – that all-American rite of passage for generations of young math wizards, science geeks and wannabe astronauts – ought to have disappeared into a black hole by now.

Nasa doesn’t launch humans into orbit any more, the US government’s investment in its own space agency is as low as it has ever been, and the last rocket sent from Cape Canaveral with supplies for the international space station exploded into a fireball last month just seconds after liftoff.

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Pluto images reveal luminous haze around planet - video

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-07-25 11:48
Nasa reveals the latest images of Pluto collected by its New Horizons mission. The images include what scientists described as the first image of the dwarf planet's atmosphere, believed to be composed of layers of haze. The image shows the atmosphere of Pluto backlit by the sun when the New Horizons spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometres) away Continue reading...

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Pluto's flowing ice and mysterious red haze highlight 'a scientific wonderland'

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 22:39

Nasa scientists discover ‘a pattern that indicates the flow of viscous ice’ similar to glaciers on Earth and say the atmosphere may be on the verge of collapse

New photos of Pluto released by Nasa reveal flows of nitrogen ice filling up craters, an atmosphere that could be on the verge of collapse, and a mysterious reddish haze extending 100 miles above the surface.

Scientists of the space agency’s historic New Horizons mission on Friday announced the discoveries with visible delight, with lead investigator Alan Stern declaring the Pluto system a “scientific wonderland”.

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Nasa unveils simulated flyover of Pluto’s icy plains – video

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 21:21
Beautiful simulated flyover of two regions on Pluto, north-western Sputnik Planum and Hillary Montes. Nasa's New Horizon team on Friday released new photographs and described new details sent back to Earth from the spacecraft

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Nasa releases new photographs from Pluto fly-by – in pictures

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 19:08

Nasa’s New Horizons team on Friday revealed new images and discussed the latest results from the spacecraft’s historic flight through the Pluto system. Earlier in the day they released a new image of the dwarf planet in full ‘false’ color

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Leading climate scientist: Future is bleaker than we thought

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-07-24 19:03
Will this century bring massive sea -level rises and powerful superstorms? The world's most renowned climate scientist thinks so – although others disagree

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Resistant bacteria don’t just evade drugs – they are fitter too

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-07-24 17:43
When bacteria acquire antibiotic-resistance genes they become better at surviving in the body, challenging the dogma that resistance comes with a cost

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Pluto is stunning in latest color close-up from Nasa

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 16:36

Images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft have been combined with color data to paint a new and surprising portrait of the dwarf planet, Nasa announced on Friday

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What would happen if a massive comet crashed into the sun?

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-07-24 15:26
Most comets that brush past the sun end with a whimper, but if a big one plunges into the sun it could go out with a bang

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In so many words: Don’t kill small-life before Red World trip

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-07-24 14:00
One of the reasons for sending space-people to the Red World is to look for small-life there

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First malaria vaccine given green light by European regulators

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 13:59

European Medicines Agency recommends RTS,S, or Mosquirix, developed by GSK and backed by Gates Foundation, for use in young children in Africa

The world’s first malaria vaccine has been given the green light by European regulators and could protect millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa from the life-threatening disease.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended that RTS,S, or Mosquirix, should be licensed for use in young children in Africa who are at risk of the mosquito-borne disease. The shot has been developed by Britain’s biggest drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and part-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It has taken 30 years to develop vaccine, at a cost of more than $565m (£364m) to date.

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'Gay genes': science is on the right track, we're born this way. Let’s deal with it.

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 12:17

A recent article argued that sexuality is down to choice, not genetics. But the scientific evidence says otherwise, and points to a strong biological origin

In a recent Guardian article , Simon Copland argued that it is very unlikely people are born gay (or presumably any other sexual orientation). Scientific evidence says otherwise. It points strongly to a biological origin for our sexualities. Finding evidence for a biological basis should not scare us or undermine gay, lesbian and bisexual (LGB) rights (the studies I refer to do not include transgendered individuals, so I’ll confine my comments to lesbian, gay and bisexual people). I would argue that understanding our fundamental biological nature should make us more vigorous in promoting LGB rights.

Let’s get some facts and perspective on the issue. Evidence from independent research groups who studied twins shows that genetic factors explain about 25-30% of the differences between people in sexual orientation (heterosexual, gay, lesbian, and bisexual). Twin studies are a first look into the genetics of a trait and tell us that there are such things as “genes for sexual orientation” (I hate the phrase “gay gene”). Three gene finding studies showed that gay brothers share genetic markers on the X chromosome; the most recent study also found shared markers on chromosome 8. This latest research overcomes the problems of three prior studies which did not find the same results.

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Archaeologists find possible evidence of earliest human agriculture

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 10:14

Study of plant remains on shores of Sea of Galilee show crop cultivation may have developed 23,000 years ago

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered dramatic evidence of what they believe are the earliest known attempts at agriculture, 11,000 years before the generally recognised advent of organised cultivation.

The study examined more than 150,000 examples of plant remains recovered from an unusually well preserved hunter-gatherer settlement on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.

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Neil Young releases documentary attacking Monsanto

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 09:46

Singer puts out Seeding Fear on the same day as the House of Representatives passes bill to block compulsory labelling of GM foods

Neil Young has released a short film that continues his campaign to draw attention to the alleged misdemeanours of the agrochemical corporation Monsanto. Seeding Fear is a 10-minute documentary telling the story of a farmer who defied Monsanto in courtand lost – after having been accused of using the company’s copyrighted GM soya beans. He was one of a number of farmers sued by the huge corporation for copyright infringement.

Related: Neil Young + Promise of the Real: The Monsanto Years review – on angry, brilliant form

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Co's Digital Flora | Amy Coats

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 08:34

After a leading botanist was killed by the Philippine Army, his work lives on in the science of citizens

On 15 November 2010, botanist Leonardo L Co was shot and killed by the Philippine army while doing fieldwork on the island of Leyte.

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The Skriker: global warming, eco-fairytales, and science on the stage | Amy C Chambers

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 08:19

Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake’s interpretation of Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker retains its environmental relevance, but can it inspire audiences into political action?

Caryl Churchill’s postmodern play The Skriker is just about to begin its final week of a sold-out run at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and its environmentalist message is as worryingly relevant today as when it premièred at the National Theatre twenty-one years ago. This has been a summer of headlines about record-breaking temperatures; according to scientists the Earth as a whole has experienced its hottest June and the hottest first half of the year since records began. The current climate crisis is entwined with a lengthy history of industrialisation, reckless ecological practices, and the environmental movement has been blighted by financial crisis, austerity, and a political and corporate denial of this global catastrophe. Global warming and climate change are unavoidable issues that permeate news media and increasingly fictional media.

‘It’s a clarion call …Maybe it will make people look at what we’re doing on a global scale and how wrong it is.’ – Maxine Peake

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Monsanto's new $1bn herbicide shows our bias towards hi-tech solutions

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 08:00

From superfoods to GM crops – every week presents a new technological solution to save the world, distracting us from the simpler, sustainable options

Every week brings news of the latest world-saving technological breakthrough, from electric cars to superfoods and energy miracles. Global agrochemical firm Monsanto just announced a $1bn investment in its new herbicide, dicamba, part of Roundup Ready Xtend, its system for genetically engineered crops such as soya beans and cotton.

But, as we consider which paths to go down to solve the world’s food, energy, climate and health problems, are we spellbound by hi-tech answers over less glamorous, but potentially better, low-tech approaches?

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Earth 2.0: Nasa says scientists have found 'closest twin' outside solar system

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 07:42

Using four years’ worth of data from the Kepler space telescope, researchers announce the new exoplanet along with 12 possible ‘habitable’ others

Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered “the closest twin to Earth” outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday.

Working off four years’ worth of data from the Kepler space telescope, researchers from Nasa, the Seti Institute and several universities announced the new exoplanet along with 12 possible “habitable” other exoplanets and 500 new candidates in total.

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The search for extraterrestrial intelligence - podcast

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 07:30
The most intensive ever search for alien life

This week it was revealed that astronomers are about to start the most intensive ever search for alien life. The Breakthrough Listen project will scan stars in 100 galaxies for radio and optical signatures that indicate someone, or something, is out there.

Until now, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence - or SETI - has been met with an eerie silence. What makes scientists so convinced it's worthwhile looking for alien life?

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Portuguese scientists discover why pendulum clocks swing together

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-07-24 06:07

Pair of physicists bust a 350-year-old conundrum in a report that proposes a transfer of energy through a sound pulse causes clocks to synchronise

Almost 350 years ago, Dutch inventor and scientist Christiaan Huygens observed that two pendulum clocks hanging from a wall would synchronise their swing over time.

What causes the phenomenon has led to much scientific head-scratching over the centuries, but no consensus to date.

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