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“Cured” woman is HIV-free for 12 years without taking drugs

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-07-20 19:00
An 18-year-old born with HIV has no detectable level of the virus in her blood – even though she stopped taking antiretroviral drugs before she was 6









Categories: Science news

Museum seeks to save Neil Armstrong's spacesuit with $500,000 Kickstarter

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 17:11

National Air and Space Museum’s first crowdfunding campaign launched Monday to conserve Armstrong’s deteriorating suit so it can go on display

The US National Air and Space Museum has launched its first crowdfunding campaign to raise money to conserve the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore on the moon.

The campaign, which launched on Monday, coincided with the 46th anniversary of Armstrong’s moonwalk. The museum hopes to raise $500,000 on Kickstarter – the online crowdfunding platform – to help safeguard the spacesuit, digitize it with 3D scanning, and build a climate-controlled display case

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Categories: Science news

Archerfish up their game to outgun rivals stealing their catch

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-07-20 17:00
Their accurate water jets rarely fail to down prey above water, but archerfish had to sharpen up to outdo their more numerous rivals under the surface









Categories: Science news

Are we alone? SF is as sure a guide as any

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 16:37

Any truth humans can find ‘out there’ remains speculative, and science and fiction are both still telling stories

Are we alone? There are so many possible ways to begin to answer this question. The backstory on the Fermi Paradox – why we haven’t encountered aliens yet – reads like science fiction. Certainly, the scenarios it sets out are all consigned to the realm of storytelling for now, and even the most logical theories may turn out to be wildly inaccurate. For this reason, the science and fiction of alien contact have much in common, with speculation on the subject sometimes more useful than empirical approaches.

The idea of an intertwining between science and fiction on this subject has historical underpinnings. Early scientific papers in the west by the likes of Francis Bacon and Johannes Kepler took the form of “contes philosophiques” or “philosophical tales”, in which the fictional framework of an imaginary or dream journey surrounded some sort of scientific speculation. In the late 1800s, some scientists even presented their findings in the form of poetry.

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Arctic sea ice volume showed strong recovery in 2013

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 16:00

Cooler temperatures revived sea ice levels suggesting a rapid recovery was possible if global warming was curbed, scientists say

Ice in the Arctic staged a surprise revival in 2013, bucking the long-term trend of decline, according to the first analysis of the entire ice cap’s volume. The revival was the result of cooler temperatures that year and suggests that, if global warming was curbed, the Arctic might recover more rapidly than previously thought.

The shrinking Arctic ice cap is one of the best known impacts of climate change. The indication that it could be reversible is rare good news for a region where climate change has driven up temperatures far faster than the global average.

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Stephen Hawking backs quest to find alien lifeforms – video

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 15:12
Stephen Hawking on Monday helps launch an intensive search for alien life. The project, Breakthrough Listen, backed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, will allow telescopes to eavesdrop on planets that orbit the million stars closest to Earth and 100 nearest galaxies. 'Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours,' says Hawking, speaking at the London launch Continue reading...









Categories: Science news

Philae lander has fallen silent, Rosetta scientists say

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 14:14

Lander which became first to touch down on a comet is not responding to commands, raising fears it may have moved again

The Philae comet lander has fallen silent, European scientists have said, raising fears it has moved again on its new home millions of miles from Earth.

The fridge-sized robotic lab, which landed on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, last made contact on 9 July and efforts to reach it again have so far failed, experts working for the historic European Space Agency project said on Monday.

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Let's listen out for alien life – and remember we might not understand it

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 13:40

As the Breakthrough Initiative starts scanning far galaxies for radio waves, it is important to remember intelligent life may take a very different form from us

Space probes have explored the main bodies of our solar system, revealing varied and distinctive worlds – but worlds unpropitious for life. There may once have been living organisms on Mars (and there may be life on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn) but there are no “Martians” of the kind familiar from science fiction.

Within our solar system, Earth is the only Goldilocks planet – not too hot and not too cold for water to exist. But the prospects of finding advanced life brighten a billion-fold when we extend our horizons to the other stars – far beyond the range of any probe we can construct today. The most exciting recent breakthrough in astronomy has been the realisation that most stars are orbited by retinues of planets, just like our sun is. And that there are literally billions of Earth-like planets in our Milky Way galaxy.

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$100m project uses world’s best radio telescopes to find aliens

New Scientist - news - Mon, 2015-07-20 12:40
A Russian billionaire has teamed up with a host of famous names, including Stephen Hawking, to listen for aliens in the million nearest star systems









Categories: Science news

Did you solve it? Let's engineer a country with more girls than boys

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 12:00

What family planning solutions did you come up with to maximise the proportion of girls in the population?

Hello again. This morning I set you this problem:

The government – which wants to increase the ratio of girls to boys – introduces a law for all couples that states:

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Categories: Science news

How to solve the family planning puzzle – video

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 12:00
This puzzle was all about working out the proportion of girls to boys if a fictional government created a policy to change the ratio of the population. Did you solve it? Did you work out a humane answer?

Click here to see a written version of the solution Continue reading...









Categories: Science news

Can you solve it? The family planning puzzle – video

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 07:05
Alex Bellos ponders how a fictional government planning to increase the proportion of girls to boys would implement a family planning policy – and what would happen if it did. Can you work out how this could be done mathematically ... and humanely? Test your brain power with imaginary Bart and Lisa Simpsons

Click here for a text version of this puzzle

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Categories: Science news

Can you solve it? How can you engineer a country with more girls than boys?

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 07:00

It’s a family planning puzzle – can you maximise the proportion of girls in the population?

This week I’ve got babies on my mind because I’m about to become a dad. And thinking about kids has led me to my favourite conundrum about family-planning:

The government – which wants to increase the ratio of girls to boys – introduces a law for all couples that states:

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The SKA's the limit if young Australians will only set their sights on the sciences

Guardian Science - Mon, 2015-07-20 05:01

The Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest telescope, connects Australian research, science and industry – crucial for forging a path to economic prosperity

Last week I visited the Murchison Radio-astronomy observatory in regional Western Australia, the future Australian home of the world’s largest telescope, the Square Kilometre Array or SKA. As a mechanical engineer I was in awe of the scale and vision of the project.

It’s a great example of “moon shot thinking”. In 1961 the US president John Kennedy said he was going to put a man on the moon, but he had no idea how to do it. With the SKA we’re building the world’s largest telescope with no real idea of what we’ll find. The SKA will comprise thousands of antennas that capture radio waves emitted from stars, galaxies, supernovae and black holes. Some of the radio waves will come from objects that are so far away they have since disintegrated. It will effectively provide us with a 3D Google map of the universe.

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Weapons giant Lockheed Martin agrees to buy Black Hawk maker for $8bn

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-07-19 20:11

Lockheed to purchase Sikorsky Aircraft, US military’s largest helicopter supplier, in its biggest buy in two decades – which government will examine closely

Lockheed Martin, the largest US weapons maker, has agreed to buy United Technologies’ Sikorsky Aircraft unit, the maker of Black Hawk helicopters, for more than $8bn, a source familiar with the negotiations said on Sunday.

The two companies plan to announce the deal on Monday before both report second-quarter results on Tuesday, said the source, who was not authorised to speak publicly.

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Categories: Science news

Emirates space mission hopes to launch new era in Middle East

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-07-19 16:39

UAE-designed and built craft will set off in 2020 as part of a project aimed at inspiring a new generation within the region

When asked if he was nervous, 32-year-old Omran Sharaf was unequivocal. “Of course,” he says. “The reputation of the nation depends on this.”

If all goes well, the United Arab Emirates will have a space probe orbiting Mars by 2021 – a first for an Arab world embroiled in endemic conflict. And, as the man leading the Emirates Mars Mission, Sharaf has a lot on his plate. “It’s the first time we go to Mars,” he says. “I have to say, I think the team doesn’t sleep. But it’s something we have to do if we want to progress and move forward. If we can reach Mars, all challenges for the nation should be doable.”

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Categories: Science news

Universal plaque-busting drug could treat various brain diseases

New Scientist - news - Sun, 2015-07-19 14:30
A drug that breaks up different types of brain plaque shows promising results in animals and could prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease









Categories: Science news

Resistance isn’t futile – how to tackle drug-resistant superbugs

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-07-19 07:00

Low profit margins and the difficulty of finding new drugs has led to big pharma shutting down its antibiotics programmes. But now researchers are adopting new approaches to tackle drug-resistant superbugs

Matt Cooper, a medical chemist at the University of Queensland, Australia, puffs out his cheeks and scratches his head. He’s trying to explain why the pipeline for new antibiotics is quite so dry. “The problem,” he says, “is that finding new antibiotics is now really, really hard.”

It’s a worrying concession given how badly we need new drugs. Drug-resistant superbugs already kill hundreds of thousands of people every year and, according to the Antimicrobial Review (AMR) committee chaired by Jim O’Neill (see box), if left unchecked they will kill 10 million of us every year by 2050. That’s more than will be killed by cancer, diarrhoeal disease or road traffic accidents.

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Categories: Science news

Beware the pseudo gene genies

Guardian Science - Sun, 2015-07-19 06:59

After ‘nano’ and ‘quantum’, epigenetics, an important branch of biology, is the latest scientific buzzword to be hijacked by quackery

The legion purveyors of flapdoodle love a real but tricksy scientific concept that they can bolt their pernicious quackery on to. “Quantum” is surely the biggest offender, offering up some mystical scienceyness, none more so than in “quantum healing” – an unfathomable extension of reiki, which, let’s face it, is already graphene-thin flimflam. The annexing of this word from fundamental physics ranges from washing-powder branding to the theory of mind. “Quantum consciousness” is an idea that has generated some serious discussion over the years, but for me slots squarely into the category of “using one thing we don’t understand to explain another”.

Lots of real scientific terms – such as “neuro” or “nano” – get borrowed for a spot of buzzword scienceyness. Epigenetics is a real and important part of biology, but due to predictable quackery, it is threatening to become the new quantum.

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Search for life now extends to outer reaches of solar system

Guardian Science - Sat, 2015-07-18 21:01

The dramatic images of vast ice plains on Pluto beamed to Earth last week prove that it is regions on the edge of the solar system - long thought to be inert wastelands - that are the most exciting for scientists

For a world perched at the outer edge of the solar system, Pluto caused considerable excitement last week when it was revealed to be a place of unexpected dynamic activity. The New Horizons probe – after a 10-year voyage to reach the dwarf planet – was able to show that it contains great plains of ice that could have formed only 100 million years ago, a mere twinkling of a cosmic eye.

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