Tasmanian devils are evolving genetic resistance to a contagious and deadly cancer that's been pushing the endangered species to the brink of extinction, an international team of scientists has found. Devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), a nearly 100 percent fatal cancer first detected 20 years ago, has wiped out an estimated 80 percent of the Australian marsupials, according to a news release from Washington State University. Because Tasmanian devils often display aggression by biting each other's faces, DFTD -- one of only three known transmissible cancers -- is easily spread among the animals, WSU said.
SpaceX has a taker for the first flight of one of its recycled rockets. The Luxembourg-based company SES — a longtime SpaceX launch customer — said Tuesday it will send its next communications satellite up on a previously flown Falcon rocket. It will be the first true reuse of a rocket previously used for an orbital mission. The launch will take place sometime this fall from Cape Canaveral. "Thanks for the longstanding faith in SpaceX," SpaceX chief Elon Musk said via Twitter. "We very much look forward to doing this milestone flight with you." The chief technology officer at SES, Martin Halliwell, said SpaceX's testing for the upcoming mission gives his company "full confidence." SES was the
Standing beneath the forest-green peaks of the Sierra Nevada, President Barack Obama drew a connection Wednesday between conservation efforts and stopping global warming, describing the two environmental challenges as inseparably linked. Obama used the first stop on a two-day conservation tour to try to showcase how federal and local governments can effectively team up to address a local environmental concern like iconic Lake Tahoe, which straddles California and Nevada.
Sit. Roll over. Fetch. Do dogs really know what people are saying? A study published this week in the journal Science suggests dogs can understand both the words that humans speak and the way they are intoned. That would mean the basic brain chemistry needed to process language may be much older than the human species, and is likely present in other animals. A team of researchers from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary trained dogs to lie still in a functional MRI brain scanner. They then looked at the parts of the dogs' brains that lit up when they heard various words in different intonations. The dogs heard some words of praise, and words that were meaningless, in both praising and neutral
Yesterday, the internet lost its mind over the news that Russian astronomers had detected a spike in radio signals, apparently from the vicinity of a sunlike star known as HD 164595. The star is just 94 light years away and is known to have one Neptune-like planet. The media quickly speculated about aliens: "Not a Drill: SETI Is Investigating a Possible Extraterrestrial Signal From Deep Space," noted the Observer. "If the signal is truly from an alien world, it’s one far more advanced than ours." Twitter ran wild with the news. Scientists, however, are far more skeptical. Astronomers detect curious radio signals like these fairly often. They typically turn out to be nothing. Sometimes the signal
LOS ANGELES – The famous human ancestor known as Lucy walked the Earth, but it was her tree climbing that might have led to her demise, a new study suggests. An analysis of her partial skeleton reveals breaks in her right arm, left shoulder, right ankle and left knee — injuries that researchers say resulted from falling from a high perch such as a tree. Lucy likely died quickly, said John Kappelman, an anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin, who published the findings Monday in the journal Nature. "I don't think she suffered," Kappelman said. But several other researchers, including Lucy's discoverer, disagree. They contend most of the cracks in Lucy's bones are well documented
Live-stream the annular solar eclipse right here. Starting around 7:30 am local time (Universal time 2:30 am), the eclipse will pass over the countries of Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Mozambique, and then hop over to the island nation of Madagascar. The longest eclipse will occur in Tanzania, peaking around 12:06 pm local time (9:06 am Universal time).
The U.S. Army plans to start operating a $4.5 billion plant next week that will destroy the nation's largest remaining stockpile of mustard agent, complying with an international treaty that bans chemical weapons, officials said Wednesday. The largely automated plant at the military's Pueblo Chemical Depot in southern Colorado will begin destroying about 780,000 chemical-filled artillery shells soon after this weekend, said Greg Mohrman, site manager for the plant. Robots will dismantle the shells, and the plant will use water and bacteria to neutralize the mustard agent, which can maim or kill by damaging skin, the eyes and airways.
A blue fire tornado sounds like it could be an alarming natural disaster, but this phenomenon could actually offer a way to burn fuel with reduced carbon emissions, a new study finds. A fire tornado, or fire whirl, can occur during urban and wildland fires, threatening life, property and the surrounding environment. Traditional, yellow fire whirls gain their color from radiating soot particles, according to study co-author Elaine Oran, a professor of engineering at the University of Maryland.
Dolores Seiler, who just turned 85 years old this June, is currently on the waiting list to take a journey to space. Seiler has signed up for her trip through World View Enterprises, a balloon-based space-tourism company that will start taking passengers to space in a capsule that is attached to a 40-million-cubic-foot helium balloon (approximately the size of an NFL football field). The company is still in the process of finalizing its system before it officially launches, which could be sometime in 2018, according to Andrew Antonio, director of marketing at World View.
The European Space Agency says a tiny particle has knocked a gaping hole in a solar panel on one of its Earth observation satellites. The agency said Wednesday that the Copernicus Sentinel-1A satellite was hit by an unknown particle just a few millimeters big on Aug. 23. Engineers determined that the hole is about 40 centimeters (16 inches) in diameter. The European Space Agency says the loss of power caused by the strike is "relatively small" and so far the damage hasn't affected the satellite's routine operations. The incident highlights the danger that both natural and man-made debris poses to satellites and other spacecraft orbiting Earth. Sentinel-1A was launched in 2014. It uses radar to
In a groundbreaking new study, scientists in Hungary found that dogs may actually understand what we’re saying to them. Researchers found that dogs can understand two things: the meaning of words and the pitch of how those words are said.
Even without poachers, Central Africa's forest elephants would need almost a century to get their numbers back up to 2002 levels, said a study Wednesday that pried into the elusive creatures' slow-breeding ways. Roaming the tropical forests of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo, the tusker sub-species is thought to have numbered about one to two million at its peak, study co-author George Wittemyer of Colorado State University told AFP. Forest elephants are smaller than savannah elephants -- the other, much better studied, African sub-species.
Based on breathless news reports from many prominent media outlets that should know better, this week’s biggest non-story in science is the discovery of a possible radio signal from talkative aliens elsewhere in the Milky Way. It all started innocently enough, with a carefully worded blog post this past Saturday from the respected science journalist Paul Gilster. Gilster wrote about a message he had received from some SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers who reported a curiously powerful 3-second burst of radio waves from a star less than 100 light-years away. The researchers, led by Nikolai Bursov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, couldn't rule out the possibility that the signal was artificial, and were intrigued enough that they called for “permanent monitoring” of the star.
Deere & Co. was sued by U.S. antitrust officials seeking to block the company’s purchase of Monsanto Co.’s Precision Planting LLC equipment business, a deal the government says would eliminate competition and raise costs for farmers. Deere’s acquisition would combine the only two significant U.S. providers of high-speed precision planting systems used by farms, giving the company control of close to 90 percent of the U.S. market, the Justice Department said Wednesday in a complaint filed in federal court in Chicago. Deere, the world’s largest maker of agricultural machinery, agreed to buy the Monsanto unit in November for $190 million, according to the complaint, as it works to make its machines
About 30,000 cases of precut vegetables are being recalled in many Southeastern states because they could be contaminated with Listeria. This week, the food manufacturer Country Fresh announced a recall of several of its vegetable products — including precut onions, mushrooms and peppers — after one of its products being sold in a Georgia grocery store tested positive for Listeria bacteria. The recall affects products sold at a number of grocery stores — including Walmart, Harris Teeter and Winn-Dixie — in nine Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia).
The undersea search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may have missed the wreckage, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, leading the search, admitted Tuesday to The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast can also reveal the Dutch company providing one of the search vessels, Fugro, admitted as far back as June that there were gaps in sonar coverage of the ocean floor that needed further investigation. As a result, a search that has so far cost $180 million and that was expected to end this summer could now be extended into next year. This will be encouraging news for the families of the passengers and crew on the flight who feared that the search was being prematurely curtailed. The ATSB says that a
Buenos Aires – A group of scientists found a fossilized skull believed to be that of the oldest pterosaur or flying reptile from the early Jurassic period at the bottom of a lake in Argentina's Patagonia region. The heretofore unknown species has been named "Allkauren koi." "We can say that they were reptiles ... completely adapted to flight. The bones of the cranium are pneumatic and ... they have no air cavities. This pterosaur in particular had teeth and a beak, a species with an elongated snout," Ariana Carabajal, an expert in neuropaleontology who was part of the scientific team, told EFE on Tuesday. Allkauren koi - in the Tehuelche language of the Indians who historically lived in the
Researchers working with the Royal Australian Navy have discovered an extensive reef system behind the famous Great Barrier Reef, mapping a huge network of donut-shaped features that measure between 650 and 984 feet across. The formations are called bioherms, and were made by a type of algae called halimeda. Shaped like donuts, the structures can be as deep as 33 feet in their center. “We’ve known about these geological structures in the northern Great Barrier Reef since the 1970s and 80s, but never before has the true nature of their shape, size and vast scale been revealed,” Robin Beaman, a researcher with James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, said in a statement. Beaman is also a
Joe Sutter, the man who led development of Boeing's 747 jumbo jet, has died aged 95. Boeing's commercial aircraft boss Ray Conner said Sutter was "an inspiration" not just to Boeing but "to the entire aerospace industry". The 747, which ushered in the long-haul travel era, first flew in 1969 before making its commercial debut in 1970. It only lost its status as the biggest passenger aircraft in 2007 with the launch of the Airbus A380. Sutter was in charge of the engineering team that developed the 747 in the mid-1960s. He and his team became known as "the Incredibles" for producing the world's largest aeroplane in just 29 months. Cautious beginnings Ironically, Boeing did not initially expect
Stargazers in south and central Africa will be treated to a spectacular solar eclipse Thursday when the Moon wanders into view to make the Sun appear as a "ring of fire", astronomers say. The phenomenon, known as an annular solar eclipse, happens when there is a near-perfect alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun.
Once implemented, Ohio's law initially required physicians administering mifepristone to follow outdated protocols for the abortion drug, originally known as RU-486. The FDA revised its protocol in March, allowing Ohio providers to update their practice. Supporters of the Ohio law had argued it would help protect women's health by mandating a federally approved protocol.
Picture Lucy, the 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis, who is the most famous ancestor in our hominid family. Seeking shelter from her many predators, the diminutive primate scurries up a tree for the night. Although she walks on two feet as we do, which sets her apart from earlier hominids, she has strong shoulders for climbing. But tonight, something goes wrong. She loses her grip, slips and tumbles down. Her last living act is a familiar one: She reaches out with her hands to break her fall before hitting the unforgiving earth. Bones shattered, she dies alone. Some researchers say they now know how Lucy died: by falling out of a tree. But the study has brought out fierce debate
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