Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[This Is How Politicians Put Grenades In 'Vote-A-Rama']]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 20:57:00 -0500
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In a Senate "vote-a-rama," each member gets to toss out amendments specially designed to trip up the opposing party. Think of these like grenades. The amendments are tossed into the other party's bunker and blow up a year later, just in time for re-election.

<![CDATA[Iran Says It Launched A Rocket That Can Put A Satellite Into Orbit]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 19:26:00 -0500
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Iranian state media says the country has successfully launched a rocket into space.

Iran has been slowly building its space program since 2003. The rocket launched Thursday is reportedly capable of carrying a satellite into orbit. 

The move is concerning to some. A U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center report warns the space program could just be a test bed for intercontinental ballistic missile technologies.

According to the United States Institute of Peace, the two programs do run on similar technology.

While the space program doesn't violate the 2015 nuclear deal made between the U.S. and Iran, some feel it violates the spirit of the deal.

SEE MORE: US Sanctions Might Affect More Than Russia, Iran And North Korea

That deal prevents Iran from creating atomic weapons-grade plutonium and uranium. In exchange, oil and financial sanctions would be lifted.

And a U.S. State Department spokeswoman says the launch does violate a United Nations Security Council resolution.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal and said Iran couldn't pursue missiles capable of delivering nuclear payloads.

This launch comes two days after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve new sanctions against Iran. The New York Times reports this launch was in response to that vote.

<![CDATA[Utilities Might've Known About Climate Change As Early As 1968]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 16:27:00 -0500
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A new report from the Energy and Policy Institute shows scientists told utility companies as early as the late '60s that fossil fuels were warming the planet. But the report claims companies then tried to hide that information.

In 1968, a top science adviser to former President Lyndon B. Johnson presented research to industry groups showing how carbon dioxide emissions could have "major consequences on the climate."

After that presentation, about 50 utilities released a comprehensive outline for 30 years of climate research. One goal was to investigate how producing greenhouse gases would affect the environment.

During the next 30 years, many researchers concluded that climate change "may significantly affect the electric utility industry."

But the report says utilities took a "two-faced approach." The companies eventually said global warming was real but kept funding lobbies fighting greenhouse-gas regulations and debating the extent of the warming problem.

SEE MORE: Al Gore Has A Message For The Next Generation's Climate Action

The Energy and Policy Institute noted CO2 emissions from the electric utility industry have declined since the mid-2000s but that they're still higher than they were in the late '80s.

And this is just the latest discovery of companies withholding information about climate change. Los Angeles Times says Exxon Mobil knew about the crisis by the end of the '70s. And The Correspondent uncovered an educational film Shell made in 1991 that says the reality of climate change was "endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists."

<![CDATA[Surgical Glue Inspired By Slug Slime Could Mend Your Broken Heart]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:10:00 -0500
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Even with modern sealing techniques like sutures and staples, closing wounds can be challenging for surgeons, as repairs can cause infection, irritation and scarring.

But researchers think they may have developed a safer alternative — a new type of surgical glue inspired by slug mucus.

To test their adhesive, the scientists applied it to a hole in a pig heart. The sealant conformed to the wound and stopped all bleeding. It also bonded strongly to skin, cartilage and arteries.

SEE MORE: This Frog's Slime Could Help Kill The Flu Virus

Until recently, adhesives were found to be weaker than sutures and only used as alternatives if sutures and staples weren't enough to fully close a wound. But they're getting better.

A 2013 study found one type of adhesive worked just as well as sutures. And in 2016, clinical trials began for a glue that was found to effectively adhere to a human heart when surgeons shined a light on it.

<![CDATA[Some Are Debating If You Should Finish Your Antibiotics Prescription]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:05:00 -0500
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Some medical professionals argue it might be safer to stop your antibiotic treatments early, but that's still debated and goes against the advice of the World Health Organization.

In the past, doctors have probably told you to take your full course. If your doctor puts you on a five-day treatment plan — even if you feel better on Day 3 — you're usually told to take all five doses.

The fear is if you don't, some bacteria may survive and become immune to the antibiotic.

But a new report argues taking medications longer than you need can actually make developing antibiotic resistance more likely.

The article, which isn't peer-reviewed, says there's no evidence "that stopping antibiotic treatment early increases a patient's risk of resistant infection."

So instead of taking the entire medication, the authors advise to stop when you feel better.

SEE MORE: Here's Why Antibiotic Resistance Has Become A Problem

They argue the WHO's advice doesn't factor in the antibiotics you've taken before and that how you react to the drug can affect the ideal length of your treatment.

Some medical experts are praising the advice in the article. But others recommend to approach it with caution.

Some told the Guardian when your symptoms go away, it doesn't always mean the infection is completely gone.

<![CDATA[The Milky Way Might Have Borrowed Matter From Other Galaxies]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 20:00:00 -0500
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Astrophysicists theorize that after the Big Bang, galaxies like the Milky Way formed from collapsing clouds of gas. But new research suggests we might have borrowed building materials from galactic neighbors.

A team of scientists argues our galaxy acquired matter via intergalactic transfer. The scientists created simulations that show early supernova explosions would have created galactic winds powerful enough to carry atoms from one galaxy to another.

SEE MORE: What Existed Before The Big Bang?

They found as much as half of the matter in the Milky Way could have come from distant galaxies — meaning we might even be made of extragalactic matter.

The findings offer a new possible mode of galaxy formation, but simulations aren't definitive. The team said it plans to test its predictions using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories.

<![CDATA[More States Are Moving To Raise The Legal Smoking Age To 21]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 08:55:00 -0500
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More and more states are working on new laws to bump the smoking age up to 21.

Lawmakers in several places — including TexasMaineMichigan and Nebraska — have taken steps to raise the minimum age for buying conventional tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

Three states already made it official — Hawaii, California and, most recently, New Jersey.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. The agency says tobacco kills more than 480,000 people every year.

SEE MORE: The CDC Says The Way Movies Are Rated Could Affect Teen Smoking

Health advocates hope a higher smoking age will help deter teenagers from picking up the dangerous habit in the first place.

Opponents argue it infringes on the rights of young people who are considered responsible enough to vote and serve in the military.

And convenience store owners worry sales of other products will decrease if fewer customers are coming in to buy cigarettes.

<![CDATA[Democrats Want To Ban A Pesticide Linked To Brain Damage In Kids]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 18:48:00 -0500
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Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday to ban a pesticide that's linked to brain abnormalities in children.

It's called chlorpyrifos, and it's widely used on fruits and vegetables. The Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency suggested a ban on the product when it found its residue exceeded "the safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act."

But Scott Pruitt, the new EPA administrator under President Donald Trump, shut down a petition to ban the chemical in March.

SEE MORE: EPA Administrator Pushes For Fewer Scientists On Advisory Panels

Pruitt says evidence about damage chlorpyrifos causes is weak, and the product would be expensive to replace.

The EPA has been restricting the pesticide's use for years. In 2000, it was banned from household ant and cockroach killers.

Environmental groups in California, the state where it's most widely used, have tried to bypass federal decisions and enact a state ban. 

And seven states sued the EPA in June in response to Pruitt's decision. 

Those efforts are likely to face strong opposition from the Trump administration, which has worked to reverse several other Obama-era environmental regulations.

<![CDATA[Europe's Renewable Energy Is Facing Extreme Power Fluctuations]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 18:25:00 -0500
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European countries recently set some records in sustainable energy production. Wind power helped Scotland harness enough energy to power 3 million homes, and the U.K. generated more than half of its total power from renewables for the first time in history.

But we still have a lot to learn about renewable energy. A new study says the way Europe set up its energy system could cause huge power swings because the countries didn't think about the big picture when choosing where to build generators.

Take turbines, for instance. Europe's are largely concentrated around the North Sea, and by the end of 2016, those turbines made about 75 percent of its offshore wind power.

SEE MORE: The UK Broke A Bunch Of Renewable Energy Records This Week

But renewable energy technology rely on weather, so in windless seasons, turbines like those can stop working, and electricity production can drop by as much as 100 gigawatts — or roughly 100 nuclear power plants.

The study's authors offer a simple solution: Europe should use its varying weather patterns to its advantage. They suggest countries work together to build turbines in areas currently making very little use of wind power, like in the Mediterranean or in Scandinavia.

By coordinating more closely and spreading the turbines out, those dramatic swings in power generation could be slashed by 80 percent. The researchers also noted solar panels could be used regionally to make up for the lost wind power.

<![CDATA[Sperm Count Is Declining In Western Men, And Scientists Don't Know Why]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 12:09:00 -0500
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A new study reports significant declines in sperm count among men from Western countries — and scientists aren't sure why.

The researchers found in the past few decades, total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand declined by almost 60 percent, while sperm concentration dropped 52 percent.

Declines in sperm count have been reported since 1992, but previous studies were criticized for small sample numbers and conflicting results. This new study takes a broader approach, looking at more than 7,000 studies from 1973 to 2011.

SEE MORE: This 3-D Printed Ovary Might Help Restore Fertility

"These findings have wide implications for public health," said Dr. Hagai Levine, head of the environmental health track at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Sperm count is the best measure of male fertility. Furthermore, recent evidence shows that low sperm count also predicts morbidity and mortality."

But it's unclear what's driving the decline. Mayo Clinic says infections or hormone imbalances can affect sperm count but says environment and lifestyle can, too. This includes anything from chemical exposure to drug use and obesity.

<![CDATA[CTE Found In The Brains Of 110 Former NFL Players]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 12:05:00 -0500
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In a new study, researchers diagnosed 110 of 111 NFL players postmortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, aka CTE. The disease is linked to repeated head trauma.

This is the latest study in a series from Boston University, all of which had similar results. The studies can't predict how many NFL players might get CTE, but they do suggest the risk might go up the longer a person plays football.

The findings come as the NFL faces some high-profile court proceedings related to the disease. The first two claims of the NFL's billion-dollar concussion settlement were announced in June. By that time, more than 14,500 players registered to receive benefits.

And later that month, a federal appeals court ruled league administrators ignored evidence of a retired player's CTE when considering his eligibility for disability payments.

SEE MORE: The NFL Will Spend Another $100M To Protect Players From Concussions

The NFL said the player's claim "relied on no evidence at all." However, court documents showed he used testimony from several physicians establishing he'd endured over 69,000 full-speed hits.

It's unclear if the study will affect proceedings, but the research team has helped change the NFL's mind before. One of the league's top health and safety officers cited a 2015 study when acknowledging the link between CTE and football.

<![CDATA[Al Gore Has A Message For The Next Generation's Climate Action]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:58:00 -0500
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In an exclusive interview with Newsy while promoting his new film, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," Al Gore talked about the next generation of climate action. 

SEE MORE: Al Gore Talks Climate Change And Middle America (Full Interview)

"Remember that there is strength in numbers," Gore said. "Even though big money still calls a lot of the shots in politics in the U.S., now people still hold the ultimate power if they organize, remember that there is strength in numbers, and if they bring their passion to the process and let these candidates know that you care about this. And depending on what they do, you'll either be for them or you'll defeat them and do everything you can to make sure they're not in office anymore."

<![CDATA[Al Gore Talks Climate Change And Middle America (Full Interview)]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:52:00 -0500
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Zach Toombs: Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for sitting down with us.

Former Vice President Al Gore: Thank you.

Zach: Your new film is "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," and the ending is kind of bittersweet because Donald Trump, a skeptic of the science behind climate change in the White House, who’s pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord. I guess an obvious question is: Why do you seem so optimistic right now?

Gore: Well, I was pretty concerned when he made the speech, but immediately afterwards I was relieved and gratified when the whole rest of the world redoubled its commitment to the Paris agreement. Then, here in the U.S., so many governors and mayors and business leaders stepped up and said, "we’re going to fill the gap, we’re still in Paris, we’re going to meet these commitments of the U.S. regardless of what President Trump does." In addition, the technology and business trends are pretty powerful now. They are moving to reduce the costs of renewable electricity in a very dramatic way. And so, economics is now playing a big role in driving the change that we need. 

Zach: In the film you visit Georgetown, Texas. I visited Georgetown, Texas, and spoke to Mayor Dale Ross a couple years ago for a report. And it surprised me, one of the first things they said was: “We don’t want people to think we are a bunch of Al Gore tree huggers.”

Gore: Yeah, I know!

Zach: So, that’s something you are liable to hear in parts of the country. How do you change these perceptions? How do you cross these political lines?

Gore: Well what’s changing the perception is the cost of renewable electricity. And Dale Ross and his team have done an outstanding job. He happens to be a CPA, so he ran the numbers. The numbers were really persuasive. They’re saving money now by switching to renewables. And another point: Batteries are starting to come down in cost dramatically now, too. That’s going to make a world of difference because then you can use the electricity from the sun, even when the sun’s not shining. And you can use all of that electricity the wind generates at night during the day. A lot of the business analysts are now predicting that the addition of affordable batteries to renewable electricity generation is a complete game changer. 

Zach: New surveys show us — new data from Yale University and others — show us that most Americans do believe that climate change will hurt Americans in their lifetime, but most don’t believe that it will impact them personally. And that’s especially true in middle America. How do you — what do you say to people, especially between the coasts, who say "it’s not going to impact me"?

Gore: Well, it is impacting people, and I think it’s already convincing many people who might not feel comfortable using the phrase "global warming." They still are getting the feeling that, wait, wait a minute here, something big is going on and it’s not good. In my hometown of Nashville not many years ago, we had a once-in-a-thousand-year rainfall and thousands of my neighbors lost their homes and businesses and had no flood insurance because the areas flooded had never, ever flooded before in living memory. That kind of thing is happening in a lot of places. You mentioned Texas. Houston, in one 12-month period, had two once-in-500-year floods and one once-in-a-thousand-year downpour in the same year. The U.S. as a whole, we’ve had 11 once-in-a-thousand-year events in the last 7 years. This is now having a real impact on people’s thinking. And I think that it’s really wearing down the resistance to the recognition that we really have to change.

Zach: Ranchers and farmers can talk about the effects of drought, something that the Dakotas are going through right now and a lot of parts of the country. 

Gore: Yeah, the same extra heat that’s trapped by the man-made global warming pollution and causes these big downpours also sucks the moisture out of the first several inches of the soil and makes the droughts set in more quickly, last longer, and cut deeper. This is really a problem. And where you have dried out land and vegetation, the fires are bigger and more frequent. Today there are 24 large fires in the U.S., most of them in the west, and that’s becoming commonplace. The fire season in California has increased 105 days out of the year. This is the kind of thing that people are getting very concerned about. Every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation. And even if the newscaster doesn’t connect the dots, people are connecting the dots on their own. 

Zach: So 10 years ago there were some Republicans who were campaigning on combating man-made climate change. How do you think we’ve gone from that to so many people in Congress denying that the problem even exists? 

Gore: Yeah, you know, John McCain — God bless him, wish him a speedy recovery as everyone does — when he was the Republican nominee for president in 2008, he was all for a cap and trade system and made eloquent speeches about the need to solve the climate crisis. Then in early 2009, the Tea Party cranked up, and the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and others started funding climate denial at a much higher level. And I think that caused a lot of resistance for a while, during the Great Recession especially. But I think now people are seeing through that. They know they took the playbook from the tobacco industry, and they don’t like it. I think now we are finally beginning to gain altitude and start solving the problem more effectively. 

Zach: Let’s talk about jobs just briefly. Wind and solar: What potential do you see for job growth in those industries, and what do you think the country has to gain economically? 

Gore: Well, it’s pretty interesting. The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar jobs are now growing in the U.S. 17 times faster than other jobs. It’s a real bright spot. And the single fastest growing occupation is wind turbine technician. Predicted to be that way for at least the next 10 years. So, not only in the U.S. but in other countries, the most dynamic new job growth is coming in renewable energy and other parts of the sustainability revolution. And if we get serious about retrofitting buildings to reduce emissions, then that will be millions of jobs in every community, and they can’t be outsourced. 

Zach: And what’s your message to young people in the U.S. who might feel locked out of the political process around climate change right now?

Gore: I always encourage young people to get involved in the political process. It looks harder than it really is. Now in the age of social media it’s pretty easy to send a message to your elected representatives and the candidates for office. But remember that there is strength in numbers. Even though big money still calls a lot of the shots in politics in the U.S. now, people still hold the ultimate power if they organize, remember that there is strength in numbers, and if they bring their passion to the process and let these candidates know that you care about this. And depending on what they do, you’ll either be for them or you’ll defeat them and do everything you can to make sure they’re not in office anymore. 

Zach: Do you think we need to take politics out of discussions about climate change? You know, I speak to a lot of people from red states across the country about climate change, and often they are seeing the impacts, but maybe they are not connecting the dots in the way you talked about. 

Gore: Yeah, I think that, first of all, politics represents one of the ways we make decisions together in this country. But I certainly believe that the partisan nature of politics needs to definitely be taken out of the climate issue. It didn't used to be part of it. It used to be a bipartisan issue. I hope we can get back to that. We are now seeing an increase in the number of Republican members of Congress who’ve switched their position. Miami, the Republican mayor of Miami, recently said politics has no business in the climate. This is a serious crisis we need to solve it in a bipartisan way. 

Zach: Well thank you, Mr. Vice President. I appreciate your time.

Gore: Thank you, absolutely. 

<![CDATA[5 Percent Fewer Measles Vaccinations Could Mean Triple The Infections]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 21:01:00 -0500
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A new study found that a small decline in children's measles vaccinations could cause a major increase in annual infections — and that could cost health care facilities millions of dollars.

Researchers estimate that just a 5 percent decrease in the number of vaccinated kids ages 2-11 could result in the number of annual measles cases tripling to around 150.

And that would force public health institutions to spend an additional $2.1 million caring for the sick.

SEE MORE: Measles Has Officially Been Eliminated In The Americas

The study was prompted by a decline in the rate of U.S. measles vaccinations, likely due to a belief that the shots can cause autism. There's no credible evidence to support that belief.

The author of the study emphasized to The Guardian that "the scientific evidence is very clear, abundantly clear, that these vaccines are safe — there is no relationship with autism."

According to that study, if measles vaccination rates ever fall below 90 percent, it will threaten "herd immunity." That's when people who aren't vaccinated are still somewhat protected from the disease because so many others are.

<![CDATA[The World Lost A Huge Chunk Of Its Forests In 2015]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 21:00:00 -0500
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The world lost around 49 million acres of forest in 2015, according to new data from Global Forest Watch.

A lot of those losses happened in the tropics, especially in Papua New Guinea and West Africa.

West Africa is especially vulnerable to deforestation due to its palm oil plantations. Sierra Leone saw a 12-fold increase in deforestation compared to 2001.

And Papua New Guinea saw a 70 percent increase in tree cover loss because of palm oil plantations and logging.

SEE MORE: How Do You Stop Deforestation? Pay People Not To Cut Down Trees

Palm oil is used in everything from food to lipstick to biodiesel fuel.

But it wasn't just the tropics that saw massive deforestation. Canada, the U.S. and Russia lost the most forest cover in 2015.

The causes are a bit different though. Logging, wildfires and pests were the main causes in those three countries.

The report did have some good news: Tree cover loss in Colombia slowed in 2015. But that trend might already be reversing.

<![CDATA[The Moon Is A Lot Wetter Than Scientists Originally Thought]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 19:18:00 -0500
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Lurking deep below the moon's surface is something few expected to find: water. And there's more of it than we thought, according to a new study.

Which could be good news for future space exploration. Water is heavy and getting it into orbit takes a lot of power.

But if we could reach the water deposits on the moon, we'd need to haul less of it into space, making future lunar missions, or even colonies, that much more possible.

Previously, scientists had only found water near the polar regions of the moon, but this study found it all over the place.

SEE MORE: How This Company Plans To Mine The Moon's Resources By 2020

So far, it looks like the water is located in old volcanic material, but there just might be ice hanging out in the moon's mantle, too.

And if that's the case, water has likely been on the moon since early in its formation. 

<![CDATA[A Nonprofit Needs Your Help To Restore A Historic NASA Command Center]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 14:27:00 -0500
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When Neil Armstrong said, "One small step for man...," he was radioing back to the Apollo Mission Control Center. 

Scientists working in that center planned, coordinated and led decades of missions that revolutionized spaceflight and explored the moon. 

But that room is in disrepair, and Space Center Houston wants to bring it back to its condition at the time of the 1969 moon landing. 

Everything from monitors and switches to ashtrays and coffee cups will be restored or replicated. 

But the nonprofit estimates it needs $5 million to make the project a success. 

Space Center Houston created a Kickstarter campaign to raise $250,000 by mid-August, when it hopes to start renovations. 

So far, it seems on pace to meet its mark. As of July 24, donations had reached roughly $180,000. 

SEE MORE: NASA Is Letting You See What It's Like To Fly Over Pluto

And the city of Webster, Texas, has already pledged $3.5 million.

However, one group that likely won't be donating much is NASA itself. 

Though the command center is on NASA property, the nonprofit says NASA doesn't have enough in its budget to contribute. The CEO told CNN, "They're future focused."

<![CDATA[Buying Happiness Might Be As Simple As Paying For Spare Time]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 14:06:00 -0500
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They say money can't buy happiness — but maybe people just haven't been spending it the right way. A new study suggests your cash is best spent on free time.

In a survey of more than 6,000 adults, researchers found those who spent money on time-saving services, like cleaners and landscapers, reported greater life satisfaction, no matter their income.

SEE MORE: Happiness Might Sometimes Be Bad For Your Heart

But some researchers would say spending money on experiences is the way to go. One study found even the anticipation of the experience brings more happiness than buying a material item.

And other scientists argue paying it forward brings the most satisfaction. For example, one Harvard University study found happy people give more and that the more people give, the happier they are.

<![CDATA[A Bikini Competition Aims To Reinvent What It Means To Get Older]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:12:00 -0500
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All contestants in a bikini competition in China are older than 55.

The organizers of the contest want people to know getting older is no big deal.

China has one of the fastest-growing elderly populations in the world. And a Pew Research Center survey found 67 percent of Chinese said aging was a problem there.

SEE MORE: You Might Be Aging, But That Doesn't Mean Your Brain Stops Growing

But at the bikini contest, no one seems too concerned — especially the more than 400 participants.

"[We] should let the elderly live a healthy life rather than live in illness. Time of long-term care [for the elderly] — which worries our family, society and the government most and which is the biggest responsibility for them — is shortened through healthy and active pursuits," said Fang Jiake of Hetong Elderly Welfare Association.

Various awards are up for grabs. The judges rate participants' stage presence, smiles and gestures.

This is the third annual competition. This year, the oldest contestant is a 78-year-old cancer survivor.

"I'm very honored. I can participate in a bikini [contest] at this age. For me it means [I'm] mentally happy and physically healthy," competitor Ma Jing said.

<![CDATA[These Plants Don't Photosynthesize; They Eat Other Plants]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:04:00 -0500
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Plants need plenty of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to grow. But some would rather skip photosynthesis and eat their neighbors instead.

Researchers recently discovered a new species of parasitic plant in Japan — Sciaphila sugimotoi. Parasitic plants in general are often hard to find, as they tend to be small and only go above ground for short flowering periods.

Unlike most plants that make their own food, these non-photosynthesizing plants have special organs that puncture the host plant's tissues and extract water and nutrients.

SEE MORE: How Do You Stop Deforestation? Pay People Not To Cut Down Trees

And they only thrive in healthy, stable environments, so some scientists say the plants can tell us about the health of certain ecosystems.

But these plants are parasites. Although some only take what they need, others can cause severe damage to their hosts, especially agricultural crops.

<![CDATA[First In Vitro Embryos Could Save The Northern White Rhino]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 08:40:00 -0500
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An international team of researchers is hoping to use in vitro fertilization to save a subspecies of rhinos.

The northern white rhino is on the brink of extinction: There are only three left in the world.

SEE MORE: African Rhino Poaching Increases For The Sixth Year In A Row

Officials at Longleat Zoo in the U.K. have harvested nine eggs from three of their southern white rhinos. They plan to fertilize them with sperm from the last northern white male and create hybrid offspring.

That way, if efforts to breed a full-blooded northern white rhino fail, at least half of its DNA will live on. And if the procedure goes well, eggs will be taken from the last female northern white rhinos, fertilized and planted in female hosts to create purebreds.

Saving the rhinos is a race against time. Sudan, the last male, is nearing the end of his life. Officials tell NPR he's 43 years old, which is about 95 in human years. And the two last females have fertility issues.

 A "Tinder profile" was created for Sudan to raise money for the procedure. It read: "I don't mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me." 

Poaching is partly to blame for the rhinos' diminishing numbers. In some places, a pound of rhino horn is worth tens of thousands of dollars on the black market.

Officials hope to begin harvesting eggs from the last living female northern white rhinos by the end of this year.

<![CDATA[Justice Pulls Kids' Makeup From Shelves Following Asbestos Allegations]]> Sun, 23 Jul 2017 15:28:00 -0500
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Justice stores have pulled makeup marketed for kids over claims that it contained dangerous chemicals.

A report from North Carolina's WTVD alleged that the company's Just Shine Shimmer Powder contained potentially deadly levels of asbestos — a mineral that, when inhaled, is known to cause lung cancer.

But Justice did its own investigation and says WTVD's findings are "simply inaccurate."

SEE MORE: Some FDA-Approved Drugs Have Safety Problems After They're OK'd

The report highlights a bigger concern with the cosmetics industry: how it's regulated.

In the U.S., cosmetics don't have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration before hitting the market. Instead, companies are responsible for issues involving product safety.

The FDA also can't order recalls on unsafe products, though it can request that a company pull its products from shelves.

A bill aimed at giving the FDA more power to police cosmetics has been in Congress since 2015, though it hasn't gotten very far.

More issues have surfaced with cosmetics in recent years. A recent report found from 2015 to 2016, there was a 63 percent increase in cosmetic recalls globally.

<![CDATA[Salvador Dalí's Mustache Stunned Forensic Experts]]> Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:55:00 -0500
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Spanish painter Salvador Dalí is known for both his surrealist artwork and his gravity-defying facial hair. And apparently, his mustache is still in pristine condition — even though he died in 1989.

Dalí's body was recently exhumed at the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Spain. That's thanks to a court ruling in a paternity suit filed by a woman who says she's Dalí's daughter.

SEE MORE: Here's Why Russia Had To Exhume Its Last Czar

Dalí never fathered any children that we know of. He had a rather unique relationship with his wife, Gala: She stayed in a castle in Catalonia, and Dalí could only visit if she sent him a written invitation. 

Museum officials heavily criticized the order to exhume Dalí's body. They say there's little evidence the 61-year-old woman is his daughter, and that DNA tests should have been conducted on the woman's living relatives first.

Forensics experts took hair, teeth, nail and bone samples for the DNA test. If it turns out Dalí did father the woman, she would be entitled to part of his estate.

The painter's fortune was valued in the hundreds of millions at the time of his death. But with no recognized heir, he willed his riches to Spain.

<![CDATA[Trump Taps Former Talk Show Host To Be USDA's Lead Scientist]]> Sat, 22 Jul 2017 10:21:00 -0500
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Six months into his term, President Donald Trump is still filling out his Cabinet. And some are questioning one of his latest picks' qualifications.

Trump tapped Sam Clovis as undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. He's a 25-year Air Force veteran and former radio talk show host who served as Trump's campaign co-chair and TV surrogate.

Clovis also served as Rick Perry's campaign chairman. After Perry dropped out of the 2016 election, Clovis served as an adviser to the Trump campaign and the Trump White House.

But Clovis doesn't have any agricultural experience, which might disqualify him from being the lead scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

2008 law says the undersecretary should be picked "from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics."

SEE MORE: Trump Nominates A Familiar Name To Be The Vatican Ambassador

Clovis was an economics professor, and the White House touted his military experience. But he doesn't seem to fit the bill of a distinguished scientist with significant agricultural experience.

The Union of Concerned Scientists took issue with the nomination. It said Clovis was "an unacceptable and illegal choice for this important role."

It also questioned Clovis' scientific acumen — he has doubted climate change in the past, calling some of the studies that suggest human activity are causing Earth to heat up "junk science."

Those concerns could lead to resistance in Clovis' Senate hearing. But that's been a familiar theme as the Trump administration has struggled to fill important roles within the government.

There are 570 key positions that need to be approved by the Senate. As of July 21, The Washington Post found more than 350 had no nominee and only 49 had been confirmed.

<![CDATA[Humans Suck At Recycling; That's Why This Robot Exists]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:15:00 -0500
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Humans aren't very good at recycling, so one company is building a robot to do it for us. 

The robot, nicknamed "Clarke" and developed by AMP Robotics, will use artificial intelligence to automatically recognize and sort food and beverage cartons. Clarke currently has a pickup rate of 60 cartons per minute, which will help divert recyclable waste from going into landfills. 

AMP Robotics has also programmed Clarke to identify contaminants in recycling facilities. Doing so prevents the degradation of recyclables, which is a major issue in the recycling industry. 

SEE MORE: How Tiny Caterpillars Could Help Solve A Huge Environmental Issue

For the future, Clarke can also learn to recognize other materials like plastic, and everything it learns can be transferred to robots at other material recovery facilities. Developers hope this will be a cost-effective way to sort recyclables. 

That's good news for the planet. In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency said the U.S. landfilled almost 140 million tons of municipal solid waste. And a more recent report from The Recycling Partnership estimates U.S. households throw away over 800 pounds of recyclables annually that could otherwise be placed in a recycling center. 

AMP Robotics and other recycling groups hope that artificial intelligence will help this issue — at least on the end of recycling facilities. Though Clarke is the first AI-powered robot waste sorter in the U.S., the technology has already been tested in Finland and Spain, and experts are optimistic the technology will expand the recycling industry.

<![CDATA[Cecil The Lion's Son Xanda Met The Same Fate As His Father]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 16:48:00 -0500
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Two years ago, there was massive public outcry after a trophy-hunter killed a lion named Cecil. Now, Cecil's son Xanda has met the same fate.

Oxford University, which had been tracking the big cat, said hunters shot and killed Xanda outside Hwange National Park. The killing appears to be legal since Zimbabwe allows trophy hunting in certain areas.

SEE MORE: Zimbabwe Drops Charges Against Man Who Killed Cecil The Lion

Xanda was in an area that doesn't protect lions. Activists tried to get a 5-kilometer protective area around the park, but the effort failed.

A scientist tracking Xanda said the lion's death likely won't do any damage to his pride because "the lion population is pretty healthy, but it would probably be better if it didn't happen."

<![CDATA[US Cities Are Finding Thousands Of Used Needles Discarded In Public]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:19:00 -0500
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As heroin use in the United States rises, one unforeseen consequence has littered public places — needles.

In San Francisco, where there are an estimated 22,000 intravenous drug users, the public works department collected over 13,000 used needles off the streets in March. That's 10,000 more than they found during the same period last year.

South of the city, a community group in Santa Cruz found nearly 12,000 needles in four years. In Portland, Oregon, over 16,000 used needles were collected in 2016 — nearly twice as many as in 2015.

And on the East Coast, about $10 million dollars was spent in Philadelphia to clean up tens of thousands of used syringes in 2016. 

A team in Boston said it has collected about 20,000 needles in two years.

SEE MORE: Heroin-Related Causes Are Killing More Americans Than Gun Homicides

In addition to cleanup efforts, some cities are installing kiosks where users can take their needles. Some places have collected thousands.

Although cleanup efforts and needle boxes are two methods for addressing the issue, the epidemic is relatively new, and officials are still grappling with how to address it.

<![CDATA[Humans Could Be Radically Changing Rainfall Patterns Worldwide]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:57:00 -0500
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Burning fossil fuels could be affecting the climate, but maybe not in the way you're thinking.

According to a new study, humans could be completely shifting rainfall patterns worldwide.

It's not just greenhouse gases being produced when you drive your car or when a power plant burns coal. There's also tiny aerosolized particles of fossil fuels being created.

And those particles are interacting with clouds and producing major changes in atmospheric circulation. 

This hypothesis helps explain why the rain belt that circles the globe around the tropics has been shifting southward.

SEE MORE: One US Region Is Expected To Take The Brunt Of Climate Change Costs

That shift is believed to be the main cause of severe droughts in Africa and South America.

The scientists say climate models that don't account for aerosolized fossil fuel particles have trouble explaining why rainfall patterns continue to change.

The people most affected by these changes are likely to be those in the tropics, not the northern hemisphere where most of the aerosols are produced.

<![CDATA[Astronauts And Google Team Up To Let You Explore A Space Station]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 18:24:00 -0500
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Have you ever wanted to visit the International Space Station but just can't seem to get into the astronaut program? 

Well, now you can at least take a virtual trip. Google Street View will let you explore the ISS from the comfort of your desk. 

The ISS is made up of 15 modules, and Google will let you explore all of them. 

And if something catches your eye, there are handy buttons you can press to learn more about some items.

It's the first time annotations have appeared on the Street View platform, but it's not hard to imagine Google doing something similar for earthbound landmarks, too.

SEE MORE: NASA Is Letting You See What It's Like To Fly Over Pluto

When Google has done off-road projects in the past, it's used special 360-degree cameras that capture nearly everything at once.

But getting those into space is a bit difficult. So astronauts used cameras already on board the ISS.

Things aboard the space station can get pretty busy, so the whole process took about four months.

<![CDATA[How Do You Stop Deforestation? Pay People Not To Cut Down Trees]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:12:00 -0500
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Money can't grow on trees, but some people are getting cash by leaving their trees alone.

Deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of global carbon emissions — with 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere every year.

To help offset these emissions and slow deforestation, researchers offered landowners in Uganda about $28 per year for each hectare of forest left unperturbed.

SEE MORE: India Might Set Another Record For Most Trees Planted In 24 Hours

Planting trees and mitigating deforestation might be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce global carbon emissions, especially in low-income countries. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their wood.

And even though some people took the money and cut their forests anyway, the program was considered an overall success.

But some researchers argue additional trees won't help the overall problem of climate change. Trees have a dark color, which could mean more trees would absorb more of the sun's energy, actually increasing global temperatures.

<![CDATA[Annoying Eye Floaters Are More Helpful Than You Think]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:23:00 -0500
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If you look at a blank wall, you might see shadowy, stringy specks floating around the edge of your vision. Those annoying squiggles are eye floaters, and yes, we all get them.

Floaters are part of the vitreous gel between the eye's lens and retina. The dark shapes are created when sections of the vitreous pull fine fibers away from the retina.

It's a common sign of aging, though other things like infection, inflammation and hemorrhaging can also cause eye floaters.

SEE MORE: Scientists Are Growing Working Eyes Where Eyes Shouldn't Grow

And they're nothing new. Some researchers even argue ancient Egyptians used depictions of eye floaters in their art and interpreted them as mythical or spiritual phenomena. Nowadays, they're just considered a nuisance.

Fortunately, they're relatively harmless. But a sudden increase in eye floaters could affect your vision or indicate something is wrong with your eyes — like a retinal detachment.

Laser treatment or surgery can remove some of them, but the annoying shadows naturally become less noticeable when they settle to the bottom of the eye. All you need to do is learn to ignore them in the meantime.

<![CDATA[NCAA Tigers Are Teaming Up To Protect Tigers In The Wild]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 19:44:00 -0500
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Tigers have had a lot of success in college athletics, including Clemson's 2017 football national championship.

But real tigers in the wild aren't doing so well. The big cats are considered endangered, and World Wildlife Fund says there may be fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild.

So Clemson, Auburn, Louisiana State and Missouri, spurred on by their tiger mascots, are teaming up to help the big cats by forming the U.S. Tiger University Consortium.

Because let's face it — it would probably be a lot less fun to cheer for the Tigers if there weren't any real tigers left.

SEE MORE: Tiger Cub Discovery Gives Researchers Hope For This Endangered Species

dean at Clemson said: "These universities share the tiger mascot and benefit from that majestic symbol of strength, dignity and beauty, so they share a moral responsibility to apply all of our resources to save the animal that inspires that symbol."

The schools hope that, through research and advocacy, the consortium can double the number of tigers living in the wild by 2022.

<![CDATA[The Search For MH370 May Lead To Different Discoveries]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 14:21:00 -0500
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Scientists say the failed search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may actually lead to other breakthroughs. 

For roughly three years, crews scanned 46,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean as they searched for the aircraft. 

That data led to some of the most detailed maps of ocean floors yet, and Geoscience Australia released its work to the public on Wednesday. 

The agency noted before the search, it only had satellite data for that part of the ocean. It really only gave depth — not the features beneath the surface. 

Underwater sonar data revealed chains of volcanoesfracture zones and 7,000-foot-tall mountains

The hunt for MH370 ultimately proved too difficult. One spotter compared the task to looking for a needle in a haystack if the haystack was constantly shifting.

SEE MORE: Mars May Have Been Really Watery And Could Have Had A Giant Ocean

After spending a combined $150 million, Australia, Malaysia and China suspended their search this year. 

But Geoscience Australia hopes releasing its data will lead to discoveries across different fields.  

It's estimated only 10 to 15 percent of the world's oceans have been mapped to the same degree as the search area for MH370. 

And for all the exploration we've done in space, more than half of our own planet is still more or less unknown

<![CDATA[A Congressman Asked Scientists If Mars Had Ancient Alien Civilizations]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 10:59:00 -0500
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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is vice chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He asked a group of planetary scientists a question about Mars on Tuesday.

"You have indicated that Mars was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?" Rohrabacher asked.

The response was pretty clear.

"Mars was different billions of years ago, not thousands of years ago. And there's no evidence that I'm aware of that ..." a professor of geochemistry replied.

"Would you rule that out, that — see there's some people — well, anyway," Rohrabacher said.

"I would say that is extremely unlikely," the scientist said.

NASA has yet to find evidence of life on Mars. And while all hope isn't lost, the agency says any life on the red planet would probably be microscopic.

SEE MORE: NASA Is Letting You See What It's Like To Fly Over Pluto

Rohrabacher's talk of Martians got the most media attention. But he also offered some other concerns about a manned mission to Mars.

"I think the moon is close by. And whatever we can actually get benefit out of going back there, we should before you take the next step," Rohrabacher said.

It's been 45 years since a human walked on the moon, and NASA notes it still has a lot of unanswered questions about it. As for Mars, the agency wants to put astronauts on the red planet by 2030.

<![CDATA[Over 140 Dogs Were Rescued From A Meat Farm In South Korea]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:05:00 -0500
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Humane Society International has recovered 149 dogs and puppies that were going to be eaten during South Korea's Bok Nal days.

Bok Nal days mark South Korea's three hottest days of summer, according to the lunar calendar. As part of the tradition, dog meat is used to make a soup that is believed to cool the blood down.  

Cats can also be included.

South Korea's government doesn't keep records of how many dogs are killed each year during Bok Nal days, but animal rights groups estimate it's over a million.

SEE MORE: 84 Great Danes Rescued From 'Squalid' Puppy Mill

Humane Society International has permanently closed nine dog meat farms in South Korea since 2014. The group says the owner of this farm contacted them asking for help shutting it down.

The dog meat trade is becoming less popular in South Korea and other Asian countries

South Korea's three Bok Nal days are in July and August. Humane Society International says it's trying to get the government to end the dog meat industry as a whole.

The 149 rescued dogs will be brought to animal shelters in the United States.

<![CDATA[T. Rex Was Probably Much Slower Than You Thought]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 07:49:00 -0500
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Despite what Hollywood has taught us, it turns out T. rex was actually kind of slow.

That's according to the University of Manchester researchers who studied the dinosaur's gait and skeletal structure. They say anything above a brisk walk could have crushed the T. rex's leg bones under its 7-ton weight.

They created a computer model of the dinosaur and had it run at different speeds to determine what would happen.

The model estimates a T. rex would probably top out at speeds of around 12 miles per hour. So, what's with all the media depictions of a speedy T. rex?

SEE MORE: New Theory Turns 130 Years Of Dinosaur Doctrine On Its Head

Obviously a faster, more agile predator makes for a better movie villain. But researchers say a real T. rex would have opted for much slower, less athletic pursuits.

It's not just Hollywood misdirection. Past theories held that the T. rex's long legs would enable it to reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour.

This is just the latest research to support a growing belief that T. rex was probably much slower than previously thought.

<![CDATA[California Climate Proposal Passes In A Rare Bipartisan Effort]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:29:00 -0500
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California Gov. Jerry Brown is celebrating a win in his ongoing quest to fight climate change. 

SEE MORE: California Has Its Own Travel Ban, And It's Expanding

In a rare move lately, both Democratic and Republican state legislators agreed to extend a proposal to lower carbon emissions by 2030. The previous deal would have expired in three years. 

California law says the state needs to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent from 1990 levels in that time frame. The state's Environmental Protection Agency called it "the most ambitious target in North America." 

The proposal extends the state's cap-and-trade system, which caps statewide emissions of greenhouse gases at a certain level. Within that limit, businesses can buy and trade permits to emit those gases.

Over time the cap is lowered, so businesses are either forced to be more efficient or shell out more money. The revenue from selling the permits earns the state billions of dollars, which helps to fund additional efforts to fight climate change. 

The extension faced bipartisan backlash at first. Some Democrats and environmentalists said it wasn't tough enough on polluting companies, while some Republicans worried it could cause energy prices to rise.

But Brown made concessions to both sides, including creating an amendment that gives Republicans more control over permit revenue.

And as a move to win over Democrats, an amendment to the bill to tighten regulations on air pollution also passed. 

Brown has been very vocal about fighting climate change and opposing President Trump on the issue. He signed a climate deal with China after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.  

And Brown is expected to attend a climate summit in Germany later this year. 

<![CDATA[Scientists Want To Fight Some Chemical Weapons With Space Crystals]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:43:00 -0500
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The National Institutes of Health is looking to fight deadly toxins with a new approach — space crystals. It's not as bizarre as it sounds.

There's a good chance you've never heard of organophosphates. They're a type of chemical that blocks a muscle-relaxing enzyme. That causes a person's muscles to stiffen, potentially leading to paralysis and even death.

Organophosphates are often used in chemical weapons, like the sarin gas the Syrian government reportedly used on its own people back in April, killing more than 80 and injuring dozens more.

SEE MORE: Congress Could Be Launching A New Branch Of The Military — Into Space

Scientists want to grow crystals that could potentially reverse the chemical's effects on muscles. But that's been tough to do because Earth's gravity is too strong for the crystals to develop. 

That's where the International Space Station comes in. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Lab sent samples of the enzyme into space to see if the microgravity conditions will let the crystals flourish.

The antidote's effects could save hundreds of thousands of lives. A 2008 study estimated 200,000 people die from organophosphate poisoning every year, mostly through self-poisoning in the developing world. 

This research could give rural hospitals a more effective treatment strategy.

Organophosphates are also found in some pesticides. Anti-pesticide activists say they could reduce neurological abilities in children in the U.S., and there have been several cases of people in developing countries dying due to accidental acute exposure.

<![CDATA[How We Could Make Mars A Livable Planet]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:12:00 -0500
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Before we can colonize Mars, the dry, desolate planet needs to be able to support life. Some scientists think that can be accomplished through terraforming — changing the planet's surface and climate to be human-friendly. 

It might not be as difficult as it sounds. The planet's nutrient-rich soilcarbon monoxide energy sources and liquid water are key ingredients for life. Some researchers suggest all we really need to do is heat it up.

Carl Sagan proposed seeding Mars' polar ice caps with dark plants to absorb the sun's light and radiation. This could heat the planet and melt the polar caps, giving way to flowing liquid water on the Martian surface.

Aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin and planetary scientist Chris McKay suggested using orbital mirrors positioned near Mars' south pole to warm the surface.

SEE MORE: Mars' Toxic Surface May Prevent Humans From Living There

One team of researchers wants to hurl an ammonia-rich asteroid at Mars. Ammonia is a powerful greenhouse gas that might help raise the planet's global temperatures.

And Elon Musk suggested detonating nuclear explosives just above the planet to heat it up.

But the heat will only stay put if Mars' current atmosphere becomes more robust. Some scientists proposed building greenhouse gas-producing factories, which could thicken the atmosphere.

However, not all scientists agree terraforming Mars is a good idea. They argue that there might be some undetected microbial life that could be driven to extinction if we manipulate the planet's atmosphere and structure.

Other researchers argue we don't know enough about Mars yet to know the planet wouldn't just experience a "runaway greenhouse effect" like Venus and become too hot to support life.

So it's still too early to start pumping greenhouse gases into Mars and melt its ice caps. But given that NASA and some private industry partners have their sights set on Mars, humans are headed for the planet regardless.

<![CDATA[Some Spiders Mimic Ants To Avoid Being Devoured]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:05:00 -0500
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Some spiders defend themselves with venom. Others simply hide in plain sight.

Researchers studied how jumping spiders use mimicry to disguise themselves as ants. While most animals mimic by altering their physical appearance, spiders do it by changing how they move.

That's because spiders are a more sought-after food than ants. But many of their predators — like some toads, lizards and wasps — have slow visual systems, so these spiders will move like ants to throw off attackers.

SEE MORE: There's Nothing Itsy Bitsy About The Number Of Bugs Spiders Eat

The arachnids' motions are pretty sophisticated, too. They will replicate winding movements like ants do when they're following pheromone trails.

They can even sell their act while standing still. When predators are around, they'll pick up their front two legs and wave them like antennae.

<![CDATA[Reef Fish Make Riskier Choices If They've Been Exposed To Oil]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 13:26:00 -0500
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This may not come as a shock, but baby fish and oil spills don't mix.

A team of researchers put a type of crude oil into a simulated environment with six different species of coral reef fish, and it turns out even the slightest exposure can cause young fish to make life-threatening decisions.

Fish exposed to the oil were worse at escaping from predators, lacked normal survival instincts and chose habitats that didn't provide much protection or camoflauge. 

The oil also contributed to the stunted growth of the baby fish and increased the chances of death in the 24 hours after exposure.  

SEE MORE: Turtles On The Great Barrier Reef Have Human Medication In Their Blood

The findings could mean a lot when it comes to long-term reef health. Some fish help get rid of algae that blocks corals from growing and are key to a healthy ecosystem.

Plus, coral reefs around the world are already at risk from human activities like drilling and industrial runoff.

<![CDATA[NASA Is Letting You See What It's Like To Fly Over Pluto]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:17:00 -0500
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Two years ago, NASA took its first close-up images of Pluto. Now, the space agency is giving us a new view of the distant dwarf planet. 

Using actual images and data from the New Horizons craft, NASA created stunning videos of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. 

The videos highlight Pluto's incredible surface features, complete with craters, mountains and canyons.

NASA isn't done with New Horizons yet. It's still mining Pluto's data, and the craft is already on its next mission –– flying by an object nearly a billion miles beyond the dwarf planet.  

SEE MORE: NASA's 'DART' Program Could Prevent Asteroids From Hitting Earth

In January 2019, it's set to reach 2014 MU69 — a long name for a small object in the Kuiper Belt. 

Because the Kuiper Belt gets so little light from the sun, NASA believes MU69 is a frozen snapshot of what that part of the solar system was like when it was born 4.6 billion years ago. 

<![CDATA[The Senate Is Now Going To Vote On A Clean Repeal Of Obamacare]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 09:11:00 -0500
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Senate Republicans are changing course. They're now hoping to repeal Obamacare without having a replacement lined up.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the decision Monday night after several Republican senators said they would not support the revised GOP health bill. 

The bill needed at least 50 votes to pass, but a lack of support from Sens. Susan Collins, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Jerry Moran effectively killed it. 

Collins opposes the bill because of its cuts to Medicaid. Lee, Moran and Paul won't support it because they say it doesn't fully get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

SEE MORE: Repealing Obamacare: What It Could Cost And What It Could Save

The Senate tried a clean repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2015. Then-President Barack Obama vetoed it.

President Donald Trump tweeted his support for a repeal, saying Republicans should work on a new plan starting "from a clean slate."

McConnell said the repeal-only effort would include a two-year delay to ease the transition. He plans to amend the House's health care bill and hopes to hold a vote in the coming days. 

<![CDATA[This Cute New Space Drone May Take Over Some Astronaut Duties]]> Mon, 17 Jul 2017 21:03:00 -0500
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There's a new camera drone at the International Space Station, and it isn't just adorable — it's useful, too.

It's called the "Int-Ball." At 15 centimeters in diameter, it was created in part to take over photography responsibilities from astronauts.

Right now, 10 percent of their time is spent taking pictures and recording video of their work and equipment.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, just released pictures and video taken by the Int-Ball for the first time. It was delivered to the space station using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early June.

This is JAXA’s first outer space drone that can record video. The camera sits right between the bright spheres that look a lot like big blue eyes.

SEE MORE: How This Company Plans To Mine The Moon's Resources By 2020

It can move in any direction, creating images from every angle. It's remote controlled by users back on Earth and records in real time.

That means researchers on Earth can check the work and experiments of the crew in space as they're happening.

The ball is still being tested, but the creators hope it will serve as a catalyst for future experiments.

<![CDATA[How Much Should You Trust Your DNA Test?]]> Mon, 17 Jul 2017 17:27:00 -0500
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For the past 10 years or so, direct-to-consumer genetic tests have made determining your ancestry and predisposition to some diseases as easy as mailing a cotton swab of spit to a lab. But how reliable are they?

In some cases, it's hard to say what counts as accurate because the science isn't very precise to begin with. Ethnicity isn't determined by a specific gene, so the results actually show users where similar DNA has been found around the globe.

And for the few companies that do show their math, like, their sample sizes are relatively small. They divide the world into 26 genetic regions and use only 115 samples to determine what's representative of a specific region.

Other companies don't even publish how they get their results, making it hard to check their work. Each also relies on its own unique algorithms, so consumers could get different results depending on the company they choose.

SEE MORE: What DNA Testing Can Tell You, From Serious To Silly

That's why many personal genome service kits include disclaimers, like "for recreational purposes."

Regulating the industry hasn't been easy, either. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration sent 23andMe a warning letter for failing to assure its product was "analytically or clinically validated" for diagnosing some diseases. It wasn't until 2017 when the company got some approval from the agency.

So, if you think you're in the market for a DNA test, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest meeting with a doctor.

<![CDATA[Macron Is Hopeful He'll Convince Trump To Rejoin Paris Accord]]> Sun, 16 Jul 2017 13:44:00 -0500
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French President Emmanuel Macron is hopeful he can convince President Donald Trump to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

Trump traveled to Paris last week to meet with Macron and celebrate Bastille Day, a French national holiday.

Macron told a local news outlet they talked about the accord and that Trump "listened" to him. He said: "He understood the reason for my position, notably the link between climate change and terrorism."

The two presidents reportedly spoke in detail about what it would take for the U.S. return to the agreement. Macron says Trump said he would "try to find a solution in the coming months."

Trump left the Paris climate accord because he said he believes it will hurt American factory and coal mining jobs. He called the deal "unfair," but has not yet revealed what a "fair" agreement would look like.

SEE MORE: Trump Is Trying To Shore Up A Shaky Relationship With France's Macron

He has expressed his willingness to consider a "better deal." He said he would "begin negotiations to re-enter" the agreement right after he announced he would withdraw.

But the United Nations said the agreement “cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single party.”

France, Germany and Italy released a joint statement opposing negotiations. And an official from the Maldives called it impractical.

While official renegotiations appear doubtful, the UN says its members are willing to "engage in dialogue" with the U.S. Meanwhile, Macron remains hopeful. In a speech made shortly after Trump announced he was withdrawing from the agreement, Macron told the U.S.: "France believes in you."

<![CDATA[Scientists Want To Release 20 Million Male Mosquitoes Here]]> Sun, 16 Jul 2017 09:11:00 -0500
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Scientists in Fresno, California, have a plan to reduce the mosquito population: by dumping a million of them into the environment — every week.

It may sound outrageous, but there's science behind it. The field study is called Debug Fresno. Fresno County partnered with MosquitoMate and Google sister company Verily to breed millions of male mosquitoes.

Now, male mosquitoes can't bite. And these bugs have been treated with a specific kind of bacteria, Wolbachia, that makes them sterile.

SEE MORE: There's Nothing Itsy Bitsy About The Number Of Bugs Spiders Eat

So over time, the population will naturally decrease. That's good news, because the species of mosquito being used — Aedes aegypti — is an invasive species that can carry and transmit Zika and other diseases.

The study will take place over a 20-week period. It will be the largest of its kind, with 25 times more mosquitoes than last year's pilot release in Fresno County.

<![CDATA[Congress Is Working To Get Horses From Stables Onto Dinner Tables]]> Sat, 15 Jul 2017 15:31:00 -0500
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Congress has a lot on its plate right now. One thing it could be adding is horse meat.

The House Appropriations Committee narrowly voted to lift a measure that acts as a de facto ban on horse slaughter that was part of a spending bill signed by President Trump in May.

Horse meat isn't specifically banned, but the Department of Agriculture can't fund horse meat inspections. That means meat processing plants can't legally butcher them.

SEE MORE: Despite Ban Rumors, The Yulin Dog Meat Festival Is Still Happening

Thanks to statues of war heroes and images of stoic cowboys, horses are inextricably linked with American identity. Historically, horse meat is something immigrants to America wanted to leave behind.

Those could be some of the reasons why there's not a demand for horse in America.

But in other parts of the world, it's a delicacy. Japan, several European countries and even Canada have no problem taking horses from stable to table.

It's likely too early to worry about horse meat coming back in style. The measure still needs to pass the full House. Even if it does, there's another bill with broad bipartisan support that could shield horses from foreign and domestic slaughterhouses.

<![CDATA[Over $200 Million Cut From Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs]]> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 17:46:00 -0500
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has cut about $214 million in federal funds for teen pregnancy prevention programs.

The Center for Investigative Reporting notes more than 80 programs have had their funding pulled by the Trump administration. Many of those programs focused on providing contraceptive access to teens.

In 2015, these programs were promised federal funding for five-year projects. Scientists involved say they won't have enough funds to analyze data collected from the previous years of research.

The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. has dropped significantly since 2011, but it's still high among industrialized countries. It's estimated that 1 in 4 girls in the U.S. will become pregnant before age 20.

The Obama administration supported funding toward sex education programs. But the Trump administration seems to be more interested in abstinence-only education instead.

SEE MORE: How Will President-Elect Donald Trump Affect Access To Birth Control?

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has strongly opposed government-mandated protection for birth control access and welcomed an executive order challenging that mandate.

<![CDATA[9 In 10 Health Care Organizations Might've Faced A Data Breach]]> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 14:12:00 -0500
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Nearly 90 percent of health care organizations in a new study have dealt with a data breach in the past two years. About half of those saw at least five attacks in the same period.

That study suggests these breaches are becoming more common and more expensive. Researchers estimate hacks could cost the health care industry up to $6.2 billion.

When hackers attack a hospital, they're usually either looking for patients' billing, insurance and payment details, or they're holding the hospital's data for a ransom.

And those criminal attacks, like the ransomware hack of England's National Health Service, were the most common cause of the breaches.

SEE MORE: Hackers Targeted A Bunch Of Trump Properties — Again

Despite increases in spending on technology and security budgets, about half of health care organizations in the study say they "have little or no confidence that they can detect all patient data loss or theft."

Researchers said even with the large number of hacks in the study, a majority were small and concerned fewer than 500 records per breach.

<![CDATA[Republicans Still Lack Support For The Revised Senate Health Care Bill]]> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 13:44:00 -0500
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The Senate's revised health care bill reportedly isn't gaining enough traction within the Republican party.

Many moderate Republicans aren't on board with the revisions because of the prospective cuts being made to Medicaid — no different from the version of the bill put out in June.

Those cuts are still projected to be almost $800 billion over the next 10 years.

But other parts of the bill were a sticking point, too. 

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who originally didn't support the bill, added an amendment that would let insurance companies sell cheaper plans that don't meet Obamacare requirements, as long as they offer a plan that does. 

This means healthy individuals wouldn't have to buy Obamacare plans, sending costs upward for people with pre-existing conditions who can't afford other plans.

And while the revised bill's biggest sell might be the $45 billion that would go toward substance abuse treatment, some experts believe the massive cuts to Medicaid would close off other programs that treat drug addiction.

SEE MORE: What GOP Opposition To Senate Health Care Bill Means For Its Passage

Republican Sens. Rand Paul, Susan Collins and John McCain have all signaled opposition to the bill's revision. Several more GOP senators appeared to be on the fence.

Still, President Donald Trump seems eager to sign any bill that lands on his desk to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

He tweeted: "Republicans Senators are working hard to get their failed ObamaCare replacement approved" and "After all of these years of suffering thru ObamaCare, Republican Senators must come through as they have promised!"

The bill needs at least 50 votes and a vice presidential tie breaker to pass. But even if it does, it would face another hurdle.

The House passed its own repeal-and-replace health care bill back in May. If it fails to pass a Senate version of the bill, both chambers would have to work out a compromise.   

<![CDATA[Tardigrades Might Be The Sole Survivors Of The Apocalypse]]> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 09:06:00 -0500
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Nearly three-quarters of all life on Earth was wiped out 65 million years ago, and if the math is accurate, we're due for another mass extinction in a few million years. It's hard to predict whether humans will be around, much less make it through doomsday, but scientists think one thing will survive: the tardigrade.

The eight-legged micro-animals can live without food and water for decades and endure extreme temperatures. They've survived the frozen vacuum of space and even can bring themselves back to life.

Now, researchers argue this resilient species could survive doomsday scenarios caused by astrophysical events, like an asteroid impact. Yes, it might wreck the planet, but an asteroid strike probably wouldn't boil away all the oceans, and so, tardigrades could hang on.

SEE MORE: Scientists Can't Agree If We're Really In A Mass Extinction

Other species — like humans — aren't as durable. Even subtle changes to our environment can have a drastic effect on our health

So when that next mass extinction happens, it might be up to tardigrades to ensure life goes on.

<![CDATA[How This Company Plans To Mine The Moon's Resources By 2020]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 21:23:00 -0500
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A private company wants to mine the moon for resources, and it just announced how it's going to do it.

Moon Express plans to build a fleet of robots called the MX Robotic Explorers to travel to the moon's south pole. And it plans to do it by 2020. 

Moon Express is facing off against four other private companies in the Google Lunar X Prize international competition, a $20 million race to launch a successful privately funded moon mission.

Moon Express' eventual goal is to mine the moon for valuable resources like aluminum, platinum, gold and perhaps the most important resource — water. 

In addition to other uses, like hydration, water on the moon could provide a stellar source of hydrogen and oxygen — two essential components of spaceflight. That might make the moon a potential fueling station for space missions in the future. 

SEE MORE: Elon Musk Thinks He Has A Way To Make Colonizing Mars Cheaper

Helium-3 is also on the moon. The Washington Post reports the clean energy source "could produce enough clean fuel to power entire industries, if not the entire planet." 

If the company pulls it off, this will be the first nongovernment-funded mission of its kind. In fact, regulations for non-NASA planet exploration don't officially exist.

Moon Express plans to have its first robot finished by the end of this year.  

<![CDATA[Climate Change Could Make Air Travel Even More Frustrating]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 18:57:00 -0500
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Flying can already be pretty frustrating, but climate change could make air travel even more of a headache.

New research estimates that by 2060, 10-30 percent of yearly flights will need to reduce their weight by an average of about 700 pounds. 

That's probably going to mean bumping a few passengers from flights when temperatures get too hot. 

Higher air temperatures already make it hard for planes to fly — like the heat wave that grounded planes in Phoenix in June.

That's because hotter air generates less lift pushing up on a plane. That means planes have to carry less weight to get off the ground.

SEE MORE: One US Region Is Expected To Take The Brunt Of Climate Change Costs

There are ways airplane designers could help head off some of the impacts of climate change, but they'd need to start taking midcentury heat into account for air travel to effectively adapt. Changes in runway size, aircraft design and engine performance are all possible ways to ease the effects of climate change on air travel.

And as the thermometer continues to rise, those weight restrictions will likely cost airlines a decent amount of money. To make up the difference, they might have to pass those costs along to passengers. 

<![CDATA[The Senate GOP Has Released A Revised Health Care Bill]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:51:00 -0500
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The Senate GOP health care bill revisions are out — here's what looks different.

The new bill allots $70 billion more that's aimed at reducing out-of-pocket costs. That money, which will go toward things like cost-sharing and health savings accounts, is in addition to the $112 billion in the original bill.

Health savings accounts saw a big change. For the first time, people would be able to use their HSA to help pay for insurance premiums.

The bill would also increase the amount of money people can contribute to their HSAs annually.

Another change — people who choose plans with a low premium and high deductible, known as catastrophic plans, will be eligible for tax credits. 

The bill also sets aside almost $45 billion through 2026 to help treat those with mental illness or substance abuse problems.

SEE MORE: More Than 400 Charged In Historic US Health Care Fraud Takedown

The new bill still eliminates the individual mandate. As for Medicaid, it keeps the block grant funding option for states and ends the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansions at the end of 2019.

The revisions are aimed at pleasing lawmakers across the board. The bill needs at least 50 votes and a vice presidential tiebreaker to pass; the last version was opposed by every Senate Democrat and even a few Senate Republicans.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill is expected to be released Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to hold a vote sometime next week.

<![CDATA[Finding The Brain Circuits That Turn Mice Into Winners]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:48:00 -0500
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Researchers working with mice found a brain circuit that seems to lead to "alpha mice." Activating these neurons increased a mouse's chance of making rivals yield — and might help explain how natural pecking orders and other hierarchies form.

Scientists had mice butt heads in a tube and measured their brain activity while they pushed or retreated.

When researchers suppressed specific neurons, mice were less likely to push or resist and more likely to retreat. When researchers used light to continuously stimulate the neurons, mice won a lot, even against opponents they lost to.

And when researchers stopped using the light boost, the dominance effect persisted. If a mouse got enough assisted wins, they kept winning on their own.

SEE MORE: Fight On Or Give Up? It Comes Down To 1 Brain Circuit

Scientists have known about this "winner effect" for years. Animals that triumph in a social dispute are more likely to win future showdowns. This helps the fittest individuals survive: If you win a fight over food, for example, your odds of snagging the best perch also improve.

Identifying the brain circuity associated with the winner effect might help us see how personality traits like stubbornness or competitiveness show up in the brain. Researchers suggest it might help us treat personality disorders in the future.

<![CDATA[How Do Isaac Asimov's Laws Of Robotics Hold Up 75 Years Later?]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:40:00 -0500
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Imagine sitting in a self-driving car that's about to crash into a crowd. The car has to choose between hitting everyone or running off the road, putting your life at risk. So how does it make that decision?

For simple bots, Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" might help. But, for more complex machines, researchers aren't so sure the 75-year-old set of rules will work.

According to Asimov's laws, robots can't injure humans or allow them to be harmed; they have to obey orders humans give them; and they must protect themselves. But there's a caveat. If the laws conflict, the earlier law takes precedent.

Single-function robots — something with a straightforward job, like a Roomba — could in theory follow those laws. But with some of the robots engineers are working on, like the U.S. military's robot army, it gets complicated.

Robots may not function properly — even if they're built to follow the laws. In one experiment, for example, researchers programmed a robot to save another bot if it got too close to a "danger zone."

SEE MORE: This Robotic Exoskeleton Helps You Stay On Your Feet

Saving one robot was easy, but when two were in danger, the rescue bot got confused. In about 40 percent of trials, it couldn't decide which to save and did nothing.

So while Asimov's laws might help retain some order between humans and robots, it doesn't seem like our future will line up with his mostly subservient robots — at least for now.

<![CDATA[Our Sun Is Nothing Special — But That's A Good Thing]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 13:36:00 -0500
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It turns out, our sun is nothing special. Although it's the only star known to host a habitable planet, some astronomers say our sun is just ordinary.

It's a typical yellow dwarf, or solar-type star — one of many in the universe. According to a new study, the sun's magnetic cycle is similar to that of other nearby solar-type stars.

Some scientists argue our star exhibits certain characteristics that do make it unique. It's more massive and has a slightly different chemical composition than other solar types. And while others like it tend to have multiple stars in their planetary systems, our sun is by itself. Astronomers have found only a few other stars in the universe like ours.

SEE MORE: Our Sun May Have A Long-Lost Twin — Scientists Named It 'Nemesis'

But if the sun is special, some researchers argue Earth-like life might be just as unique. There might still be life or signs of life on other celestial objects, but it would look different from the life we know.

For example, plants on a planet orbiting a dimmer, cooler star than ours would appear darker to our eyes since they would need to soak up more light. And there might be less liquid water on the surface of a planet orbiting a hotter star.

But if the sun is as ordinary as the new study claims, our search for alien life might show us something a bit more familiar.

<![CDATA[Ravens Have The Rare Ability To Plan Ahead — Almost Like Humans]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 13:33:00 -0500
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Corvids — like ravens and crows — are some of the smartest birds around. They can remember where they've stored food, they can recognize themselves in mirrors and some of them can even use tools.

Now, new tests seem to show that ravens can even plan for future events and delay their own gratification — something scientists initially thought only chimpanzees and humans could do.

Researchers in Sweden trained ravens to use a tool to open a box for a treat or to barter tokens for food. The birds would even keep their tools and tokens overnight if they knew they could trade them for a treat in the morning.

SEE MORE: Crows Learn To Use Tools When There Aren't Woodpeckers In The Way

And when researchers gave the ravens a choice between an immediate reward and waiting to trade their token or box-opening tool for a bigger payoff later, they found the birds were usually willing to wait.

These new tests suggest ravens have self-control on par with some great apes — and they're even potentially smarter than some of them when it comes to bartering tokens for food.

What's more, the researchers think corvids evolved their forward-thinking abilities all on their own: They haven't shared a common ancestor with great apes for more than 300 million years.

<![CDATA[More Than 400 Charged In Historic US Health Care Fraud Takedown]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 10:55:00 -0500
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday more than 400 people have been charged in what he says is the largest health care fraud takedown in U.S. history.

"We are sending a clear message to criminals across this country: We will find you, we will bring you to justice and you will pay a very high price for what you have done," Sessions said.

Sessions told reporters those suspects include 115 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

All together, the defendants are accused of drumming up more than $1.3 billion in fraudulent transactions.

SEE MORE: The FDA Wants This Opioid Drug Off The Market

And authorities say the crimes of over 120 of the suspects included prescribing and distributing opioids or other dangerous narcotics.

Sessions says more than 1,000 state, local and federal law enforcement agents were involved in the crackdown.

<![CDATA[The Newest, Up-Close Photos Of Jupiter's Great Red Spot]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 09:03:00 -0500
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As NASA explores the mysteries of Jupiter, it's released its closest images yet of the planet's Great Red Spot.

We already know that spot is actually a storm wider than Earth. But scientists are still trying to figure out how deep the storm is, how it works and what makes it look red.

The Juno spacecraft captured images of the spot July 10.

NASA scientists are currently mining the pictures for data. But in the meantime, NASA's released its raw images to citizen scientists, who've edited the images so they show more detail.

SEE MORE: How Hidden Stars Can Mess Up Our Search For Other Habitable Planets

Juno's next close flyby is expected in September. Besides the mysteries of the Great Red Spot, NASA's looking into Jupiter's atmosphere, magnetic field and how the planet formed.

NASA says we can't understand Earth's origin until we truly understand Jupiter's.

<![CDATA[How To Freeze The Decline Of Earth's Endangered Species]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 07:52:00 -0500
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Fish populations are rapidly declining due to overfishing and climate change. But some scientists think certain species can be saved by cryopreserving embryos.

Researchers already do that with mammals, but preserving fish, reptile and amphibian embryos poses a unique problem. They're relatively large and divided into multiple compartments, so it's difficult to cool and warm the embryos without damaging them.

Now, scientists have successfully frozen and reanimated zebrafish embryos for the first time using a special cryoprotectant. The researchers said as fish populations shrink, this could help establish banks of frozen fish embryos to one day replenish the oceans.

Cryopreservation has been used to save the sperm, eggs and embryos of many species, including humans and domestic and wild animals. Some scientists argue establishing "biodiversity banks" might help preserve the world's genetic diversity and save threatened or endangered species.

SEE MORE: Scientists Can't Agree If We're Really In A Mass Extinction

One group, for example, is looking to cryopreserve domestic livestock to combat a decline in their biodiversity. Another successfully preserved the eggs of some lions, tigers and other endangered cat species.

Scientists even figured out how to preserve endangered and rare plant species in "seed banks" like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

But cryopreservation isn't fool-proof; some embryos in the fish study died. We need better techniques to make sure more embryos survive the deep freeze.

<![CDATA[A Total Solar Eclipse Is Coming, And The US Has Prime Seats]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 20:40:00 -0500
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The next total solar eclipse is Aug. 21.

The moon will come between the sun and the earth, completely blocking the sun. 

This is pretty rare. The last time a total eclipse could be seen from the contiguous U.S. was in 1979.

SEE MORE: Just How Popular Is August's Total Solar Eclipse Going To Be?

The path of the upcoming eclipse starts in Oregon and ends in South Carolina. 

Staring directly at the sun is never a good idea. Unless the sun's totally blocked out, always wear eye protection when viewing an eclipse.

After August, the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. can be seen in 2024.

<![CDATA[Babies Are Cute — But They Might Not Be Environmentally Friendly]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 19:10:00 -0500
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Babies: They're adorable, but they aren't the best for the environment.

A new analysis published in Environmental Research Letters says having one less kid is over 24 times more effective at cutting carbon emissions than the second best option — getting rid of your car.

Having one less child would cut an individual's carbon emissions by 58 metric tons per year of their life. To put that in perspective, living car-free would reduce someone's emissions by 2.4 metric tons per year.

It's the single best way for individuals to fight climate change, but it's not one that gets talked about often.

SEE MORE: One US Region Is Expected To Take The Brunt Of Climate Change Costs

The paper says the U.S. and other developed nations tend to recommend less effective actions that only have a low-to-moderate impact on emissions — things like recycling or upgrading your lightbulbs.

The researchers involved don't think people should abandon those smaller efforts. They just want governments to address the larger factors, too.

President Trump recently pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to reduce emissions worldwide and prevent the most damaging effects of global warming.

Although thousands of mayors worldwide, including 130 from the U.S., are still committed to the goals of the Paris accord, it may be a good time to focus on individual efforts to reduce global warming. 

The research team knows the idea of limiting offspring can be unpopular. One member said: “We recognize these are deeply personal choices. But we can’t ignore the climate effect our lifestyle actually has. It is our job as scientists to honestly report the data."

The U.S. emits the highest amount of carbon per person in the world, and the second highest as a country, behind China.

<![CDATA[Science Puts A GIF Inside Live Bacteria]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 19:06:00 -0500
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A team of scientists has uploaded a GIF into live bacteria, because going viral just isn't enough anymore.

The experiment used the popular gene editing tool CRISPR, which can clip, store and insert DNA sequences in cells. 

Usually those DNA chunks contain information about the cell — but researchers created new sequences that corresponded to pixels on an image of a horse galloping. 

SEE MORE: What DNA Testing Can Tell You, From Serious To Silly

Five frames of that GIF were encoded into living E. coli cells. Researchers then sequenced the genes of those cells and were able to reconstruct the image with 90 percent accuracy.

Writing data in DNA isn't a new concept — Microsoft even bought 10 million strands of DNA last year to investigate if the microscopic, durable strings of info can someday be an efficient data storage solution.

But this is the first time a simple movie has been stored in a living organism. The researchers are hoping that cells can eventually store information about their own growth and development.

Researcher Seth Shipman said: "If a cell could be gathering information and recording it into its own genome, ... a clinician could go in and sequence out the genomic locus that has that information and see what's been going on previously."

<![CDATA[Right-Wing Outlets Say A New Study May Invalidate Climate Policies]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 16:49:00 -0500
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A new Heartland Institute study claims data used by the Environmental Protection Agency to create climate policy was "flawed with politicized adjustments" and should be "invalidated."

The group says since the '80s, global average surface temperature data produced by NOAA and NASA was unfairly adjusted to show a steady increase in temperature.

Right-wing outlets said the study "dropped a bomb" and "could totally dismantle" the idea of humans causing global warming. Breitbart said the findings show "nearly all recent global warming is fabricated."

But scientists think the findings were misconstrued. While agencies do alter their data, it's done to account for errors in how temperatures were recorded over the past 150 years. 

And the revisions aren't the politicized, one-way street the Heartland paper claims. Roughly half of the adjustments have made the warming trend seem less dramatic, not more so.

SEE MORE: One US Region Is Expected To Take The Brunt Of Climate Change Costs

Researchers who independently reviewed the study also said some of its content was "grossly misleading," and that its authors had "very limited understanding" of how temperature records are measured.

But scientists admit that data collection methods aren't perfect. One study showed that since 1998, global warming occurred 140 percent faster than satellites initially showed due to their decaying orbits. 

<![CDATA[How Hidden Stars Can Mess Up Our Search For Other Habitable Planets]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 10:51:00 -0500
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Scientists are hunting for planets that could support life –– specifically ones the same size as Earth.  

But NASA has now realized hidden stars may have caused it to underestimate the size of some candidates it's already found. 

When gauging a planet's dimensions, scientists are looking for light –– and then the lack of it. 

They measure how bright a star is, and then how much light is blocked when a planet crosses our view of that star. The dimmer the readings get, the bigger the planet.  

SEE MORE: ESA Spacecraft Brings Search For Habitable Exoplanets Closer To Home

It's a pretty good system, except when scientists don't realize a planet is actually blocking our view of two stars.

If two stars are lined up back-to-back, but scientists don't know they're both there, they'll underestimate just how much light the planet is blocking — and thus, just how big the planet really is. 

Luckily, it's not a problem for most planetary candidates. But getting close estimates for all planets is still really important. 

Scientists have noted a planet twice the size of Earth or larger likely isn't habitable. 

<![CDATA[One Of The Biggest Icebergs Ever Has Broken Away From Antarctica]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:37:00 -0500
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A massive iceberg the size of Delaware has broken away from Antarctica.

U.K.-based Project Midas confirmed early Wednesday the colossal iceberg finally calved away from the Larsen C ice shelf.

Scientists had been waiting for this to happen for a while. 

Researchers had been monitoring a big crack in the ice shelf for more than a decade.

SEE MORE: Antarctic Surface Ice Melt Could Be A Sign Of Things To Come

That crack grew dramatically at the end of last year. And by January, the 2,000-square-mile section of the ice sheet was hanging on by a thread.

This new iceberg won't make sea levels rise because it was already floating. Think of it like ice floating in a glass of water. The Larsen C ice shelf is attached to Antarctica, but the section that broke away wasn't.

But the Larsen C shelf prevents other glaciers from getting to the ocean. And if the whole thing breaks up, those glaciers could contribute to rising sea levels.

Scientists say the newly split iceberg is one of the biggest ever recorded. Its volume is double that of Lake Erie. 

<![CDATA[Fire Ants Can Build Roiling Ant Towers To Get Around]]> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 18:24:00 -0500
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Ants don't just build complicated nests. They'll use their own bodies to make things, too. Researchers at Georgia Tech University are studying how the insects link together to make ant rafts and ant bridges. Now, they've accidentally found that fire ants can also get around by using themselves to constantly build and rebuild a moving tower.

Researchers filmed fire ants climbing on top of each other and left the cameras rolling. When they watched the sped-up footage, they found the ant structure sinks under its own weight, so the insects constantly renewed the tower until they went where they wanted to go.

They fed ants radioactive food and watched them build towers in an X-ray machine so they could watch the interior of the tower sink as it grew. Ants that got pushed to the bottom eventually disengaged and started climbing again.

Behavior like this serves a purpose: Fire ants in their natural habitat in Brazil have to deal with frequent flooding. Rafts and towers are a way to escape water and relocate to a new home.

SEE MORE: Ants Have Been Running Sophisticated Farms For 30 Million Years

It's worked so well it's kept ants alive for millions of years all over the world — and in Georgia Tech's buildings, where they've been known to escape labs and set up camps under staffers' desks.

And designs based in biology could make our own construction more efficient. Scientists think ant building-techniques — like this replenishing trick — could be useful for self-assembling robots in the future.

<![CDATA[Doctors Without Borders Just Created The Ultimate Rescue Unit]]> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 14:08:00 -0500
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These trailers let medics in conflict areas perform surgery and then drive to the next person in need.

Doctors Without Borders developed the trailer set. It doesn't require wounded patients to travel far. Accessibility and temperature control make it more sanitary than some current options.

Doctors Without Borders says the unit can provide supplies for 100 surgeries.

SEE MORE: Conflicts Aren't Just Dangerous For People; Animals Suffer, Too

The unit has five trailers that can be hauled by truck. Those include an operating theater, a recovery intensive care unit, a sterilization room and stock areas.

Some communities in need of aid can be hard to reach or are cut off by the government.

Currently, there's only one trailer unit like this, which was used in Mosul, Iraq. But the group plans to develop others that would work elsewhere.

<![CDATA[New Study Finds Gender Gap In Physical Activity And Obesity Rates]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 17:31:00 -0500
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There's a gender gap in physical activity levels, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

The study looked at anonymous smartphone data to see how physically active people were all over the world.

Each smartphone has a mini-accelerometer in it. Researchers were able to pull data from them to see how many steps users walked a day. If you used the Azumio Argus app, your data might have contributed to this study.

It found that average daily step counts weren't a great predictor for obesity levels in a given country. Instead, a larger gap between the number of highly active and less active people was more likely to indicate higher obesity rates.

Take Mexico and the United States for example. Both countries had similar daily step counts — 4,692 and 4,774, respectively — but the U.S. had higher activity inequality and thus a higher obesity rate. 

That activity inequality between highly active and more sedentary citizens also translates into an inequality between men's and women's activity levels. 

SEE MORE: Some Teens Might Get As Much Physical Activity As 60-Year-Olds

In countries with higher activity inequality, like the U.S., women are less likely to be active than men. And obesity levels in women in those countries increase faster, too.

Activity levels between genders tend to be more equal in countries where overall activity inequality is lower. In Japan, where there's not a huge disparity between highly active and less active people, men and women have similar activity levels.

The study also found that the cities we live in might affect our activity levels. If a city is more "walkable," its overall activity inequality is likely to be lower, and the city will have fewer obesity issues.

The study's authors say that targeting these inequalities, instead of making more general pushes for activity, could be the best way for health officials to take on obesity.

The study does have its problems. Since it relied on smartphone data, the authors admit that it's potentially biased toward more affluent people, and that bias is worse when looking at data for lower-income countries. But the researchers say they've collected enough data to feel confident their findings are accurate across the socioeconomic spectrum. 

<![CDATA[One US Region Is Expected To Take The Brunt Of Climate Change Costs]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 16:12:00 -0500
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Climate change is expected to take a hefty toll on the planet, but depending on where you live in the U.S., it could also cost a pretty penny.

new climate change study assessed how temperature increases might influence factors like agriculture, labor and crime in every part of the country.

Researchers found that every one degree Celsius increase could cost the U.S. 1.2 percent of its GDP — or over $200 billion.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Is Accelerating Gentrification In Some US Cities

Of all counties in the U.S., those in the American South are projected to be hit with the worst economic costs. Conditions could decrease farm yields and shrink the outdoor workforce. It could also increase electricity costs and rates of violent crime.

For the poorest counties, the combined effects could be like losing up to 20 percent of their incomes on average.

Other regions, like the Pacific Northwest and New England, actually could reap economic benefits from climate change; they'd have longer growing seasons and shorter winters.

<![CDATA[What Will It Take To Create An Artificial Brain?]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 15:17:00 -0500
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In recent years, science has gotten serious about something that used to exist only in fiction: creating an artificial version of the human brain.

The better we understand how the brain works, the more we can learn about treating things like Alzheimer's disease or epilepsy. Our progress there is also leading to new and better computers and giving them the benefits of brainpower. Some futurists even think if we can replicate the brain's structure closely enough, we might stumble onto digital consciousness.

Creating a computerized version of the brain could give us the best of both worlds. Compared to brains, computers are much easier to repair or replace. Compared to computers, the human brain sips just a few watts of power.

And biological brains evolved over millennia to be good at processing a whole bunch of information from their surroundings in real-time; imagine robots with the same balance and dexterity as humans.

SEE MORE: These Mind-Controlled Robots Are Changing Paralyzed Patients' Lives

But replicating those characteristics isn't easy. The cerebral cortex has 150 trillion connections between its neurons, and they're constantly changing how they connect to one another. That's how we learn and form memories. Some researchers think computerized brains will reorganize themselves the same way, which will require special circuit designs.

Researchers in Germany are making steady progress building circuit maps for parts of the brain. Elsewhere, DARPA and IBM are experimenting with nimble, power-sipping chips inspired by the layout of neurons. Labs in the United Kingdom and Germany are building entire neuromorphic computers, arranged the same way our brains are.

But it still takes a supercomputer 40 minutes to simulate one full second of brain activity. Even a whole server room can't yet match the complexity of what's in our own skulls.

And what happens when we do? When a computer is organized and operates like a brain, some philosophers think it might develop its own digital consciousness. But this is hard to predict because we still don't have a solid understanding of how conscious thought works in our own brains.

It would also raise new questions for computer engineering, philosophy and ethics. Some futurists, including Ray Kurzweil, think we might have to answer them within a few decades. Others say the interconnections in the brain are just too complex to ever rebuild.

SEE MORE: You Might Be Aging, But That Doesn't Mean Your Brain Stops Growing

And that future — however it turns out — is better-funded than ever. Brain projects are underway all over the world, from the China Brain Project, to the EU-led Human Brain Project and the BlueBrain Project in Switzerland. In the U.S., the BRAIN Initiative is on track to spend $4.5 billion for research through 2025.

But because there's so much to learn, some scientists don't want to sign on to vast projects. They say the lofty goals and huge budgets are "premature" if we're still exploring the basics of what makes our brains work.

And it's true a fully capable hardware brain in a brain-sized package is still a long way off. But the investment and research is already turning up a steady stream of new science. And with a target as complex as the human brain, we have to start somewhere.

<![CDATA[The CDC Says The Way Movies Are Rated Could Affect Teen Smoking]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 15:12:00 -0500
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to keep kids away from tobacco — but it doesn't think Hollywood did its part in the past few years.

The CDC's reason? The prevalence of tobacco in movies. The overall number of movies featuring tobacco has declined, but the number of scenes in movies that did show it jumped roughly 80 percent from 2015 to 2016.

The CDC looked at data from the top 143 highest-grossing movies of 2016.

It says the more children and teens see smoking on screen, the more likely they are to try it.

SEE MORE: Teenagers Who Vape Are More Likely To Smoke Cigarettes Later On

The study notes tobacco use is now much rarer in G- and PG-rated movies, but the same can't be said for PG-13 movies. Smoking incidents increased in PG-13 movies by 43 percent from 2010 to 2016.

And it's not a one-scene kind of thing. Last year, the average youth-rated film including tobacco showed it 34 times throughout the flick.

One intervention the CDC recommends is making an R rating standard for films that depict tobacco use.

The CDC says a widespread R rating "could potentially reduce the number of teen smokers by 18 percent." 

It says the effect would be similar to raising the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1.50.

But the Motion Picture Association of America has successfully argued in court that a blanket R rating would violate first amendment rights.

<![CDATA[Scientists Can't Agree If We're Really In A Mass Extinction]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 14:16:00 -0500
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In the past half-billion years, life on Earth has been nearly wiped out five times. Now, scientists are debating if we're living in the sixth mass extinction.

In a 2015 study, biologist Paul Ehrlich and his team argued Earth is in an era of mass extinction rivaling the one that killed the dinosaurs. They estimated Earth is losing mammal species 20 to 100 times the rate of past such extinctions and that the rate is only expected to speed up.

"We're losing species at an extraordinarily rapid rate compared to the background rate in which we lost them between the previous five great extinctions," Ehrlich said. "A couple species a year disappearing turns out to be 10 to 100 times as fast as happened in the past."

But some scientists disagree. Stewart Brand, president of the Long Now Foundation, says current rates don't signal a mass extinction because the past five wiped out at least 70 percent of all species in a relatively short time. He says current rates are too slow for us to be in the middle of one.

SEE MORE: Animals Can Be Declared De-Extinct ... But How Does That Work?

Marine conservationist Tundi Agardy said even with the current data on population trends, she thinks it's too early to say if we're in a mass extinction.

And paleontologist Doug Erwin told The Atlantic by the time we know for sure a mass extinction event started, nearly all life on Earth would be gone.

What scientists do agree on is that we're in a time of elevated extinction rates and population loss — and it's mostly humans' fault. Unlike past mass extinctions caused by asteroid strikes or volcanic eruptions, human activity is dwindling species populations, and some are even disappearing for good.

This loss matters to us as humans. Researchers say declines like these hinder crucial ecosystem resources, like honeybee pollination, natural pest control and water purification.

<![CDATA[One Ohio Sheriff Says His Deputies Won't Carry Anti-Overdose Drug]]> Sun, 09 Jul 2017 13:30:00 -0500
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An Ohio county sheriff is choosing not to have his deputies carry a drug that can counteract opioid overdoses.

The drug, Narcan, is the first FDA-approved nasal spray designed to be an emergency treatment for overdoses.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said his officers feel unsafe when administering the drug, noting some people become violent toward officers once revived.

He also said paramedics are more equipped to administer Narcan and that they usually get to the scene around the same time as police.

Jones also criticized the cost to taxpayers; Narcan is available to first responders for about $38 per dose.

SEE MORE: The FDA Wants This Opioid Drug Off The Market

According to one advocacy group, dozens of law enforcement agencies around the country carry the potentially life-saving drug, including 66 in Ohio.

Ohio is one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. The state saw more than 4,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths last year, and officials say opioids are largely to blame. 

<![CDATA[When It Comes To Climate Change, It's Just The G-19]]> Sat, 08 Jul 2017 15:08:00 -0500
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Nineteen of the Group of 20 agree on climate change, which set the U.S. apart from the world's other leading economic and developing nations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chaired this year's G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, said she "deplored" U.S. President Donald Trump's move to leave the Paris climate agreement.

SEE MORE: The UN Security Council Is Struggling With Solutions To North Korea

In a declaration from the meeting, the rest of the leaders called the agreement "irreversible." The group notes the U.S. withdrew from the agreement but that the country "affirms its strong commitment" to lowering emissions — as long as the approach supports economic growth and improves "energy security needs."

The declaration also mentions free trade, which goes against Trump's "America First" ideology. The group said it "will keep markets open" and "continue to fight protectionism."

<![CDATA[Congress Could Be Launching A New Branch Of The Military — Into Space]]> Sat, 08 Jul 2017 11:32:00 -0500
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Its current military setup allows the U.S. to be ready for battles in the sea, air and land. But a new bill up for a vote in the House could ensure the military is also ready to fight in space.

The House Armed Services Committee recently approved a bill that would create a new branch of the military: the Space Corps.

It might sound like a video game, but the Space Corps would be trained to fight in space, as well as to keep track of U.S. satellites and foreign cyber threats.

SEE MORE: Congress Could End Post-9/11 Law That Gives Presidents War Authority

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Mike Rogers, said the U.S. needs to keep up with its rivals in space.

"Clearly, we've got some very serious, aggressive behavior by both the Chinese and the Russians in space," Rogers told NPR. "They have realized that that's a great equalizer if they can get good at it, and they're getting good at it fast."

But not everyone is on board. The Air Force is opposed to the idea because it's had an eye on outer space since the 1980s. Its leaders see the establishment of the Space Corps as an unnecessary step.

But the bill was still popular at the committee stage, passing 60-1. If it becomes law, the Space Corps could be the new guardians of the galaxy by New Year's Day 2019.

<![CDATA[Hunter Baits Might Be A Good Chunk Of Bears' Diets]]> Fri, 07 Jul 2017 16:16:00 -0500
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Junk food, like donuts and pizza, is used as bait for bear hunting. It's estimated Maine dumps almost 7 million pounds of it into the woods each year to attract bears.

And the bears have taken a liking to these treats. In northern Wisconsin, black bears rely on hunter bait for over 40 percent of their diet.

Because bears have sensitive noses, they're particularly attracted to pungent food. Hunters will put those foods in and around traps. When the bears show up to eat, they're shot.

The practice is controversial. In Maine, which has the most black bears in the lower 48 states, hunters argue the practice helps control populations.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Is Melting Away Polar Bears' Chance Of Survival

But opponents say it just attracts more bears. Since the beginning of the decade, populations in the state rose from 30,000 to 36,000. And last year, complaints of nuisance bears were the second highest in Maine since 2007.

Maine almost prohibited baiting in 2014, but when it went to a public vote, residents decided not to. It's only 1 of 12 states to allow baiting before the hunting season.

<![CDATA[Sen. Mitch McConnell Seems To Doubt The GOP Vote To Replace Obamacare]]> Fri, 07 Jul 2017 10:15:00 -0500
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged his party might not be able to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Kentucky lawmaker said Thursday if Senate Republicans can't agree on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, they'll have to figure something else out.

It's been an uphill battle to repeal and replace Obamacare. The House had to pull the first GOP health care bill before it even went to a vote.

The second version passed the House in early May.

SEE MORE: The Senate Health Care Bill Looks A Lot Like The House's

Then the Senate drafted its own version of the American Health Care Act behind closed doors. That draft was released in June.

The bill only needs 50 votes; the vice president would break the tie. But zero Democrats are backing it, and a handful of Republican Senators have said they won't support it in its current form — which means, right now, it essentially has no chance of passing.

McConnell's statement pivots from his promise to repeal Obamacare "root and branch." He said if the bill fails, the GOP will have to work with Democrats on legislation that strengthens current insurance markets.

<![CDATA[CDC Sees Drop In Opioid Prescriptions Since 2010 Peak]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 19:57:00 -0500
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There's some good news out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Opioid prescriptions fell for the first time since the epidemic began.

Prescription opioids are used for pain relief and are considered safe when used for a short time, but they're also incredibly addictive. They bind to opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body to reduce pain. 

The amount of opioids prescribed hit its peak in 2010 and fell by 18 percent by 2015.

The CDC only has numbers through 2015, so it's unclear if rates have risen since then. The data also showed that opioid prescription rates in 2015 were triple the 1999 rate.

That means there's still a long way to go. Every year, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. die from opioid-related drug overdoses. An estimated 2 million Americans had an opioid addiction in 2015.

People were also being prescribed the drugs for longer periods of time at higher dosages, giving patients more of a chance to become addicted.

SEE MORE: Ohio Wants To Hold Drug Companies Responsible For Opioid Epidemic

Opioids were once used to treat severe pain, post surgical pain and in end-of-life care. But eventually, the drugs began to be used to treat chronic pain and other ongoing conditions, which caused the number of prescriptions to increase. These put more people at risk for addiction and overdose.

And when prescriptions end, some people move on to stronger illegal drugs. The death rates from heroin and fentanyl have increased a lot faster than death rates from prescription narcotics.

The report is still a reason for some optimism — the new data suggests that at least some doctors have gotten the message to cut down on opioid prescriptions. 

<![CDATA[Kids In France Will Have To Get About 4 Times As Many Shots Now]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:39:00 -0500
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Amid measles outbreaks and drops in vaccinations, the French government is making more vaccines mandatory.

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe recently said young children will have to get eight new vaccines starting next year.

Vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus and polio are already a must in France. Eight more — which state health authorities already recommend — will be added to that list in 2018.

Many French doctors support these mandatory vaccinations. Back in June, 200 doctors and hospital administrators publicly petitioned for the new policy.

SEE MORE: The Future Of Flu Vaccines Doesn't Involve Getting A Shot

In his announcement, the prime minister said, "Diseases that we believed to be eradicated are developing once again." He referenced the European measles outbreak, which has killed 10 children in France since 2008. The World Health Organization says the disease is rapidly spreading throughout Europe because of drops in immunization coverage.

Worldwide, measles killed over 130,000 people in 2015, and the World Health Organization estimates measles vaccinations prevented over 20 million deaths in recent years.

France's new policy follows in the footsteps of Italy's.

In May, Italy's government said children must be vaccinated for 12 diseases before they can enroll in public school. The country's health minister hopes the mandate will send a "strong message to the public" about the importance of vaccines.

<![CDATA[Mars' Toxic Surface May Prevent Humans From Living There]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:36:00 -0500
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Getting to Mars is a risky prospect. Even Elon Musk, who wants to colonize the planet, said "there's no way around" how dangerous getting to Mars will be. 

And even if someone gets there, new research shows the dirt might make the planet uninhabitable. Mars' soil is full of mixtures of chlorine and oxygen called perchlorate. Bacteria use it for energy, but it can become toxic under ultraviolet radiation. And Mars gets a lot of ultraviolet radiation, since its atmosphere is so weak.

SEE MORE: Mars Crater Might Have Once Been A Very Microbe-Friendly Lake

Researchers took a bacteria commonly found on spaceships leaving Earth and bathed it in perchlorate. When they exposed it to UV waves like those on Mars, the cells became completely sterile within 30 seconds.

The findings suggest that toxic Martian dirt is yet another obstacle to growing plants there, although there are ways to neutralize the poison. 

The findings also mean that if we're to find any signs of life currently on Mars, we'll probably have to dig. In 2020, the European Space Agency is planning to do just that with a rover that's capable of digging up to 2 meters under the surface.

<![CDATA[Amelia Earhart's Disappearance Is Still Producing New Theories]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 14:48:00 -0500
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The mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance has endured for 80 years. The U.S. declared her dead in 1939, concluding she had crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

But several theories have since emerged about what exactly happened to the pilot and her navigator, Fred Noonan, during their flight.

Most people point to a number of radio calls Earhart sent to the U.S. Coast Guard near Howland Island, where she was set to refuel. Supporters of this widely accepted theory say she might have crashed in the ocean just short of the island.

But a recently rediscovered photograph allegedly shows Earhart on the Marshall Islands. Researchers claim the photo shows a woman and man who resemble Earhart and Noonan. They say the two were blown hundreds of miles off course but survived a crash landing on the islands.

SEE MORE: Planes Are More Fuel-Efficient, But That Doesn't Mean They're 'Green'

In 1970, a book suggested Earhart survived a Pacific Ocean plane crash and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. The book claimed U.S. forces rescued her during World War II and that she was living in New Jersey under the name Irene Bolam. This theory might have held up — except the real Irene Bolam denied the claims and sued the author and publisher.

And in 2016, a team of researchers claimed human remains found on the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro were Earhart's. They recovered other evidence, including aluminum sheets that might have come from Earhart's plane. The scientists suggested she and Noonan crashed on the island and later died as castaways. But the bones were never confirmed to belong to Earhart.

Without any definitive evidence, all of these theories remain just that. We might never know what really happened to the famed aviator.

<![CDATA[A G-20 Challenge: How Do We Get More Food From Less Water?]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 09:49:00 -0500
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When world leaders meet at G-20 in Germany on Friday and Saturday to discuss global issues, they'll spend some time talking about something everyone on Earth depends on: keeping agriculture sustainable as we use more and more water.

We already use 70 percent of available fresh water for agriculture. In parts of the world, we're using it faster than it's replenished.

By 2050, 9 billion people will need food, which will call for a 50 percent increase in agricultural production — and will use even more water.

G-20's agricultural ministers say we won't be able to feed everyone unless we get more efficient with our water. But even though it's a huge order, there are plenty of ways to go about it.

SEE MORE: Climate, Markets And Mouths: The Problems With Food Supplies

Simple irrigation improvements like canal linings can make farm water use more efficient. Growing crops that need less water or breeding plants for drought resistance also can help.

And in January, G-20's agriculture group committed to building sustainable water policies that reach across government and industry. The more that farmers and policymakers understand about the scope of the challenge, the easier it will be to meet it.

<![CDATA[Rayon May Be Cheap, But The Factories That Make It Are Harmful]]> Wed, 05 Jul 2017 20:07:00 -0500
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International fashion giants are under fire again, and you could be wearing the reason behind it.

An investigation from the Changing Markets Foundation linked major producers of the fabric fiber viscose to air and water pollution, dangerous working conditions and public health concerns.

Viscose is more commonly known in the U.S. as rayon, and the semi-synthetic fabric is mostly used as a cheaper alternative to silk. Producing the fabric isn't necessarily bad for the environment, but activists say unethical practices at viscose plants have led to disastrous consequences. 

The factories that produce viscose are mainly located in Indonesia, China and India — but the fashion brands and companies buying from those factories have global reach.

Fast-fashion companies ASOS, Zara and H&M were just three of many companies contacted by the Changing Markets Foundation in regards to the viscose issue. Though an online petition specifically called out H&M and Zara, it's worth noting they at least responded to concerns.

SEE MORE: It's Time To Talk About Sustainable Fashion

A spokesperson for H&M told BuzzFeed News it was "deeply concerned" by the viscose report, and the company said it would follow up with its suppliers about the allegations. Spokespeople from Inditex, Zara's parent company, said it would do the same. 

H&M is already in the process of finding more sustainable alternatives to viscose, and the fashion company says it takes its environmental ethics seriously. It's part of H&M's mission to be "100%" transparent, fair and renewable. 

<![CDATA[NASA's 'DART' Program Could Prevent Asteroids From Hitting Earth]]> Wed, 05 Jul 2017 16:39:00 -0500
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Incoming asteroids can pose a serious threat if they strike the planet. Now, NASA wants to make sure it can defend against them.

With the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — or "DART" — NASA is planning its first-ever mission to deflect incoming asteroids.

These plans are a part of NASA's Planetary Defense initiatives, which detect and track asteroids and comets that fly dangerously close to our planet. They coordinate with the U.S. government to respond to impending threats.

NASA plans on testing out the DART system on asteroid binary system "Didymos." Scientists say that the two asteroids would be perfect to practice on because results would be easy to see and would leave minimal impact on the asteroids' orbit. The two asteroids are expected to approach Earth in 2022 and 2024.

SEE MORE: Asteroid Day Reminds Us We Haven't Found All The Nearby Space Rocks

DART will work by implanting itself in an incoming asteroid and changing its speed. This "small nudge" is supposed to redirect the asteroid away from our planet and prevent possible impact.

Scientists have discovered over 1,800 potentially dangerous objects near our planet. While most of them are harmless, astronomers want to stay alert. After all, asteroids have already done plenty of damage to our planet.

Four years ago, an asteroid broke over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and its impact was reportedly stronger than a nuclear explosion. Years before in 1908, a similar meteoroid hit Tunguska, Russia.

Scientists saw the Chelyabinsk incident as "a wake-up call" to improve planetary defense.

And experts hope that NASA's DART program is a step in the right direction.

<![CDATA[These Percussive Cockatoos March To The Beat Of Their Own Drum]]> Wed, 05 Jul 2017 16:08:00 -0500
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The animal kingdom is full of great singers, but when it comes to drummers, it's a bit short-staffed.

Luckily, the sole percussionist in its ranks is still pretty impressive. The palm cockatoo is the only animal besides humans to drum with self-made tools.

The birds fashion sticks and pods into devices that they strike against hollow tree limbs.

And according to a new study, the beats are pretty unique. Eighteen cockatoos produced a total of 131 different drumming sequences.

SEE MORE: Music Keeps The Mind Sharp — Even If You're An Animal In A Zoo

It's probably used for mating. Male cockatoos did nearly 70 percent of their drumming when females were nearby.

But if you want to catch a live performance, you'll need good timing. Researchers observed the birds drumming only about once every four days.

<![CDATA[What Have We Learned In The Year Juno Has Orbited Jupiter?]]> Wed, 05 Jul 2017 15:00:00 -0500
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Happy anniversary to NASA's Juno probe. As of Tuesday night, it's been orbiting Jupiter for exactly one year.

NASA actually launched Juno into space in 2011, but it took five years for the solar-powered craft to reach the largest planet in our solar system.

So what have we learned about Jupiter in the past year?

For one, giant cyclones are swirling around its north and south poles. NASA researchers estimate some of the storms are more than 800 miles wide.

And Juno gave us our first view of the light show near Jupiter's south pole.

SEE MORE: Mysterious 'Nocturnal Sun' (aka 'Bright Night') Is Finally Explained

Although scientists knew Jupiter had a strong magnetic field, they now believe it's about 10 times stronger than Earth's.

Jupiter's core is still a big mystery. Before Juno started orbiting the planet, NASA thought Jupiter either had a dense core or didn't have one at all — that it was just a big ball of gas and dust. But now, researchers think it's a "fuzzy core" that "may even be partially dissolved."

Before it can explore the core further, Juno will fly over Jupiter's "Great Red Spot" on July 10. This giant storm is two times larger than Earth and is at least 300 years old.

Juno's mission is scheduled to last until February 2018 when it will plunge into the planet.

<![CDATA[Here's How To Avoid A Hospital Visit This July 4th]]> Tue, 04 Jul 2017 08:35:00 -0500
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The Fourth of July can be lots of fun. But, it also comes with some serious safety hazards.

Fireworks are dangerous — an average of 250 people a day end up in the emergency room every year around Independence Day. Burns and injuries to hands and fingers are the most common reason.

SEE MORE: How Do Fireworks — Work?

So, here are a few guidelines you should follow: 

— Watch the kids. Don't let them learn the hard way about the dangers of fireworks.

— Avoid professional-grade fireworks. You can tell these apart by the plain brown paper packaging. Professional-grade fireworks pack more punch than Black Cats or Roman candles.

— Keep a source of water nearby in case of a fire. Make sure fireworks are legal wherever you plan on celebrating.

For more firework safety tips, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. 

<![CDATA[Lawsuit Dropped After Grand Canyon Allows Creationist To Collect Rocks]]> Mon, 03 Jul 2017 21:13:00 -0500
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Andrew Snelling disagrees with most other geologists on the origins of the Grand Canyon. But now he'll get the chance to back his claims up with evidence.

For a few years, Snelling has been trying to get permission to collect rocks in the park. But the park denied him a permit, and Snelling says it's because of his religious beliefs.

So, back in May, Snelling sued the federal government. The National Park Service has confirmed it issued a permit for Snelling's trip, and the lawsuit was dropped.

SEE MORE: There Aren't A Lot Of Glaciers Left In Glacier National Park

Snelling's request for a permit didn't mention his beliefs or his association with the young-Earth creationist group Answers in Genesis. It wasn't until after the park service sought the opinions of geologists that they learned of his beliefs.

In a press release, Snelling's lawyer thanked National Park Service officials, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump administration for no longer "blocking access to data based on a researcher’s religious faith."

Snelling also works in the canyon as a tour guide for Canyon Ministries, a group that takes tourists to places they see as evidence of Noah's flood in the canyon.

Snelling will have an uphill battle. There's plenty of scientific evidence that the canyon — and the Earth for that matter — are pretty dang old.

<![CDATA[Court Rules The EPA Can't Delay Obama-Era Methane Regulations]]> Mon, 03 Jul 2017 18:29:00 -0500
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A federal appeals court struck down plans by the Trump administration to delay regulations on oil and natural gas drilling. 

The regulations — put in place by the Obama administration — aim to limit methane pollution from oil and natural gas wells.

The court's decision is a blow to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's goal of environmental deregulation

Last month, Pruitt announced the EPA was going to postpone the Obama-era regulations for two years. Six environmental groups challenged that decision in court and won.

SEE MORE: The EPA Just Took A Big Step Toward Repealing The Clean Water Rule

The main pollutant the regulations are concerned with is methane. Under the rule, oil and natural gas companies were required to monitor and plug any methane leaks they detected. Some companies say they were already trying to reduce methane leaks, but the new rule would make some wells unprofitable. 

The EPA decided to delay enforcement of the new rule because, it argued, the Obama administration didn't give stakeholders a chance to comment on the regulations. But the court didn't think the evidence supported that argument.

Before heading the EPA, Pruitt was the attorney general of Oklahoma and was one of the plaintiffs suing the agency to overturn the methane regulations at the time.

<![CDATA[Traffic Jams Are Pesky, But Scientists Say They Know How To Stop Them]]> Mon, 03 Jul 2017 16:39:00 -0500
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record number of Americans are traveling for Independence Day this year, so watching bumper-to-bumper traffic is probably as inevitable as watching fireworks.

But scientists, who sit in the same traffic as the rest of us, have studied how jams start and what we can do to stop them. They found that all it takes to create a standstill is one driver

For instance, if someone slams on their brakes, drivers immediately behind that vehicle will likely slam on their brakes to avoid an accident. As more drivers slow down, the likelihood of coming to a full stop increases for individuals farther away from the original incident.

SEE MORE: The Test Run For Elon Musk's Traffic-Dodging Tunnels May Make You Sick

One MIT scientist suggested this would be less of a problem if drivers monitored how much space they give to cars in front and behind them. If vehicles have a fixed space, they can move more easily. 

But creating or maintaining that fixed distance gets difficult when spacing gets tight. In one experiment, drivers were asked to drive in a circle at the same speed. It started off smoothly, but when one driver failed to maintain that uniform speed, a backup occurred. 

In the future, autonomous cars could help, as they could be programmed to maintain certain distances from other cars. But until then, give your neighbor a bit of room on the road. You'll get home that much faster.

<![CDATA[India Might Set Another Record For Most Trees Planted In 24 Hours]]> Mon, 03 Jul 2017 15:06:00 -0500
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Volunteers in India claim they've just planted over 66 million trees. If verified, that would break the world record — which the country previously set.

Last year, people in India planted 50 million trees in a single day, the most ever in 24 hours.

Beyond snagging a record, it's a hands-on effort to help the environment.

SEE MORE: Saving Trees Could Also Save The World's Last Tigers

Reforestation is part of India's commitment to the Paris climate deal. The country pledged to boost forest cover to 235 million acres by 2030.

There's no official total yet for the cost of this latest project, but India said it would spend around $6 billion on reforestation.

Although the little seedlings have a new home, now the hurdle is helping them survive. Guinness World Records notes in mass plantings about 40 percent of trees end up dying.

<![CDATA[Roman Cement Is Stronger Thanks To 2,000 Years of Seawater Exposure]]> Mon, 03 Jul 2017 12:01:00 -0500
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Although the Roman Empire fell more than 1,500 years ago, its ancient cement structures — like the Pantheon, Trajan's Markets, piers and breakwaters — remain.

To make concrete, Romans mixed volcanic ash with lime and seawater to create a mortar. From there, they added chunks of volcanic rock.

Geologist Marie Jackson has been studying factors that make Rome's concrete so durable. In 2013, she examined mineral and microscale properties of Roman concrete and found that unlike modern cement concrete, Roman concrete's filler is chemically reactive, making it stronger and more resilient.

SEE MORE: Mummy DNA Might Help End A Decades-Old Debate

Now, she's at least figured out how Roman concrete holds up so well in water. In a new study, Jackson found that seawater filtering through the ancient Roman concrete dissolves parts of the volcanic ash and allows interlocking minerals to grow that strengthen the material. In modern concrete, seawater would make the structure crack.

Jackson is trying to develop a similar concrete using materials readily available in the U.S.

Besides its durability, Roman concrete has also been found to have a smaller carbon footprint than its modern counterpart.

But despite these benefits, Roman concrete probably won't enter the mainstream. It can't support as much weight as the modern stuff and takes a long time to develop resilience.

<![CDATA[PayPal Founder Invests $100,000 To Bring Back The Woolly Mammoth]]> Sun, 02 Jul 2017 09:34:00 -0500
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PayPal founder Peter Thiel is investing $100,000 to bring back the woolly mammoth.

You heard that right. These are the same woolly mammoths that have been extinct for around 4,000 years. So, how — and why — does Thiel expect them to make a comeback?

"De-extinction" efforts aren't actually all that new. Back in 2013, a group called Revive and Restore started working on resurrecting passenger pigeons, which were hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. Scientists say the technology to accomplish de-extinction is within our reach, especially after the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1996.

Some scientists also say "genetically rescuing" animals like the passenger pigeon or woolly mammoth could help preserve and restore our ecosystems, as well as redeem the human race for its destruction.

Environmentalist Nikita Zimov — who used Kickstarter to fund the Mammoth Steppe "Pleistocene Park" — says that reintroducing major grazers like the woolly mammoth to the ecosystem could help prevent global warming.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Could Drive 1 In 6 Species To Extinction By 2100

But not everyone thinks this is such a good idea. 

Paleobiologist and mammoth expert Tori Herridge wrote in an op-ed that cloning woolly mammoths would be "ethically flawed." She points to the fact that any cloning attempts would require multiple elephants to act as surrogates, and since elephants are already endangered, cloning efforts might prove counterproductive.

Arguing to protect endangered animals, Herridge stated: "If we feel like that about the mammoth, just think how our kids might feel about the elephant if we let it become extinct. We really ought to be focusing on that, and doing everything we can to stop it from happening."

Despite the critiques, scientists are still busy at work on the resurrection research. One of the leaders behind the project says that woolly mammoths could be back within the next couple years. 

<![CDATA[President Trump Is Getting Serious About Exploring Space]]> Fri, 30 Jun 2017 20:38:00 -0500
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On Friday, President Trump signed an order recreating the National Space Council.

"We are going to be leading again like we've never led before. We're a nation of pioneers, and the next great American frontier is space," Trump said. 

The council was first created by the Eisenhower administration, but it hasn't existed since 1993. It will be in charge of all U.S. policies and activities concerning outer space.

SEE MORE: What Happens If Proposed Cuts To NASA's Climate Research Are OK'd?

We know Trump wants the U.S. to get to Mars, but it's unclear how he wants to get there. The council could favor helping private space companies like SpaceX or ask NASA to lead the way.

The signing ceremony included lots of NASA officials, but Vice President Mike Pence will be the chairman — and he's previously supported massive cuts to NASA's exploration program. 

But the council might have to wait before it makes that decision. It holds spots for NASA's administrator and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, but neither have been appointed by Trump.

<![CDATA[Tennessee Drops Case Against Teens Accused Of Causing Deadly Wildfire]]> Fri, 30 Jun 2017 17:55:00 -0500
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Aggravated arson charges against two teenagers accused of starting a deadly wildfire in Tennessee have been dropped.

Defense attorneys said the state couldn't prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the two teens were responsible for last year's Gatlinburg fire. They called the case "an unfortunate rush to judgement."

The two unnamed teens, a 17-year-old and 15-year-old, were throwing lit matches on a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Nov. 23. That led to a small brush fire.

SEE MORE: Maybe We Should Just Let Wildfires Burn

But an investigation into the fire found an "unprecedented" wind event several days later was responsible for the spread. There were also other fires in the area, making it impossible to trace which fire caused what damage.

The wildfire killed 14 people, making it the deadliest the state's seen in a century. Nearly 200 more were injured, and 2,400 structures were damaged or destroyed.

The National Park Service is still investigating the fire. While the state has dropped its case against the teens, Newsy's sister station WTVF reports they could still be charged in federal court.

<![CDATA[Seed-Bombing Drones Could Be A Speedy Solution For Reforestation]]> Fri, 30 Jun 2017 16:16:00 -0500
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Scientists estimate Earth is home to more than 3 trillion trees, but they're slowly disappearing by about 15 billion a year. Humans only plant about 9 billion each year.

But some groups are using drones to speed up forestation efforts.

Companies like BioCarbon Engineering use drones with onboard sensors that analyze terrain to find the best planting spots.

SEE MORE: These Drones Could Make A Big Difference In Medical Emergencies

Once they find suitable land, the drones shoot seeds to the ground. BioCarbon Engineering's drones can carry up to 150 seeds at a time, and a pair of operators can seed an estimated 100,000 trees a day.

This makes planting by drone cost-efficient. Startup DroneSeed predicted one of its drones could plant 800 seeds in an hour, which would take a human all day.

<![CDATA[Asteroid Day Reminds Us We Haven't Found All The Nearby Space Rocks]]> Fri, 30 Jun 2017 16:10:00 -0500
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Thinking about how an asteroid could fall on our heads at any time won't help you relax. But the more we know about nearby space rocks, the better we can prepare if they ever do. That's why the United Nations calls June 30 International Asteroid Day.

The date is historic. On June 30, 1908, a meteor exploded over the Tunguska river in Russia and flattened some 800 square miles of trees — the most powerful impact in recorded history.

But there have been worse impacts, and it's just a matter of time until Earth lines up to take a hit from another big rock. Governments across the world say they hope if we can see dangerous asteroids coming, we can launch missions to deflect them.

NASA and other agencies make up the International Asteroid Warning Network, which studies nearby asteroids and reports impact risks to the U.N.

SEE MORE: The Asteroids You Should Keep An Eye On This Year

So far, scientists estimate our satellites and telescopes have found 90 percent of dangerous asteroids bigger than a kilometer in diameter. Now Congress wants NASA to look smaller and find 90 percent of the rocks larger than 140 meters.

That leaves about 10 percent of big rocks unaccounted for. Organizers say this year's Asteroid Day is a celebration of our progress — and a reminder there's more work to do.