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I'm tapping the housefly's genome to fight disease

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-01-12 08:00
The common housefly spreads hundreds of diseases, but unravelling its genome should help us make the world healthier, says entomologist Jeffrey Scott






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Starwatch: The path of Comet Lovejoy

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-01-12 05:30

A month ago I promised an update on the progress and appearance of Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy as it climbed to the right of Orion in our evening sky. The comet has not disappointed and, although not an impressive naked-eye object, it is probably now at its best. It shone near magnitude 4.5 as it swept closest to the Earth (70 million km) on 7 January and is unlikely to dim much before the month’s end.

Even in last week’s moonlight, it was obvious in binoculars, appearing as a round smudge up to half as wide as the Moon. There is a brighter core around the nucleus and a hint of tail slanting north-eastwards away from the Sun. With the Moon now out of the way, the comet shoul certainly be visible to the unaided eye if we have a decent dark sky and the tail may be less of a challenge. Lovejoy’s greenish colour, obvious in photographs, comes from molecules of cyanogen and diatomic carbon as they fluoresce in the ultraviolet light from the Sun.

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Fossil from Skye is new species of marine predator, scientists say

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-01-12 00:00

Found in 1959, these ancient ichthyosaur bones have now been recognised as a different type from any previously discovered

A handful of ancient bones found on the Isle of Skye more than 50 years ago belonged to a new species of marine predator, scientists have discovered.

The prehistoric reptile – the first ichthyosaur from Scotland to be described in the scientific literature – measured nearly 14m from snout to tail.

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Forget the fads: The easy way to control your eating

New Scientist - news - Sun, 2015-01-11 20:00
Small tweaks to your kitchen, where you sit and where you keep food can have big effects on what and how much you eat, says psychologist Brian Wansink (full text available to subscribers)






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Starwatch: comet Lovejoy becomes visible to the naked eye

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-11 16:20
The comet’s greenish colour is from molecules of cyanogen and diatomic carbon as they fluoresce in the sun’s ultraviolet light Continue reading...






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Food for Mars

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-11 10:30

Team ‘Seed’ wins chance to send a type of cress on board unmanned mission to Mars to investigate growing sustainable food source

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Live for ever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life ‘well beyond 120’

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-11 08:59

Fixing the ‘problem’ of ageing is the mission of Silicon Valley, where billions is pouring into biotech firms working to ‘hack the code’ of life – despite concerns about the social implications

In Palo Alto in the heart of Silicon Valley, hedge fund manager Joon Yun is doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation. According to US social security data, he says, the probability of a 25-year-old dying before their 26th birthday is 0.1%. If we could keep that risk constant throughout life instead of it rising due to age-related disease, the average person would – statistically speaking – live 1,000 years. Yun finds the prospect tantalising and even believable. Late last year he launched a $1m prize challenging scientists to “hack the code of life” and push human lifespan past its apparent maximum of about 120 years (the longest known/confirmed lifespan was 122 years).

Yun believes it is possible to “solve ageing” and get people to live, healthily, more or less indefinitely. His Palo Alto Longevity Prize, which 15 scientific teams have so far entered, will be awarded in the first instance for restoring vitality and extending lifespan in mice by 50%. But Yun has deep pockets and expects to put up more money for progressively greater feats. He says this is a moral rather than personal quest. Our lives and society are troubled by growing numbers of loved ones lost to age-related disease and suffering extended periods of decrepitude, which is costing economies. Yun has an impressive list of nearly 50 advisers, including scientists from some of America’s top universities.

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Earthquakes, tsunamis and a naked tribe. It’s Chile – and not just the Galápagos – that inspired Darwin

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-01-11 07:00

Reports of the botanist’s round-the-world voyage are dominated by his findings in the Galápagos. The much longer time he spent in Chile and what he saw there have been overlooked – until today

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SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral - video

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-10 14:04
The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket launched by SpaceX lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday morning. An unmanned Dragon spacecraft packed with food and equipment for the International Space Station is expected to reach the station on Monday. However, the larger mission to land the rocket used in the launch on a barge out at sea was a failure Continue reading...






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This is not a measurement

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-10 12:11

The birth of an idea” solicits vignettes where scientists describe a special moment in their professional lives, or the genesis of an idea which they still cherish. Contributors include Stephen Hawking, colleagues from the Large Hadron Collider, and many from other areas of science. I was asked to contribute too, so here it is

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SpaceX Falcon 9: private space company’s floating barge mission fails

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-10 11:29

Rocket fails to land safely at sea, in mission to slash cost of space travel

A historic first attempt to land a reusable rocket on a floating barge – in what would have been a major leap forward in slashing the cost of space travel – has failed.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket was launched by private space company SpaceX from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4.47am EST (9.47am GMT) after a previous attempt on Tuesday was aborted a minute before take-off because of technical problems.

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SpaceX rocket crashes in first attempted boat landing

New Scientist - news - Sat, 2015-01-10 11:26
"Close, but no cigar this time," tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after his firm's Falcon 9 rocket was destroyed as it attempted to land on a barge at sea






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Panda-mania

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-01-10 09:49

Helping you observe “Caturday” and to help you get into the proper mood for the weekend, I must share some short videos of pandas doing what I wish I could do right now: enjoy the snow.

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SpaceX to make second attempt to land reusable rocket on floating barge

Guardian Science - Fri, 2015-01-09 18:28
Firm hopes first stage of rocket Falcon 9 will land intact, paving way for cheaper privately operated space missions Continue reading...






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Uber-tidy bees defend their hives from disease

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-09 18:16
The cleaning behaviour of bees can protect hives from the harmful varroa mite and diseases it spreads – and selective breeding could spread these good habits






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Huge circle in Antarctic ice hints at meteorite impact

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-09 18:08
A 2-kilometre-wide circle of deformed ice discovered in Antarctica may be a site of a large meteorite impact from 2004






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Ghostly forms tell how typhoons touch ocean life

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-09 17:45
For the first time, underwater photos capture ocean life in action during a typhoon






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Today on New Scientist

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-09 17:30
All the latest on newscientist.com: Milky Way mapping, female ejaculation, forensic holodeck, unbeatable poker software and more






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Female ejaculation comes in two forms, scientists find

New Scientist - news - Fri, 2015-01-09 17:20
Sometimes referred to as squirting, and banned in UK porn, no one knew what the fluid some women produce at orgasm was composed of until now






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