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Tire makers race to turn dandelions into rubber
By Ludwig Burger MUENSTER Germany (Reuters) - Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport. The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires. Her research team is competing with others across the world to breed a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan whose taproot yields a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. Global tire makers such as industry leader Bridgestone Corp and No.4 player Continental AG believe they are in for rich pickings and are backing such research to the tune of millions of dollars.
Spacewalking cosmonauts launch satellite, set up studies
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. - A pair of Russian cosmonauts began their work week on Monday floating outside the International Space Station to toss out a small satellite for a university in Peru, install science experiments and tackle some housekeeping chores. First out of the hatch was cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who stood on a ladder outside the station's Pirs airlock to release a 2.2-pound (1-kg), 4-inch (10-cm) cube-shaped satellite built by students at the National University of Engineering in Lima, Peru. Video broadcast on NASA Television showed the satellite, called Chasqui-1, tumbling away from the back of the station as it sailed about 260 miles (418 km) above the southern Pacific Ocean. Artemyev was then joined by spacewalker Alexander Skvortsov to install a European package of experiments to the outside of the Russian Zvezda module.
Specks of star dust likely first from beyond solar system
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - A NASA spacecraft dispatched 15 years ago to collect samples from a comet also snared what scientists suspect are the first dust specks from interstellar space. The Stardust robotic spacecraft was launched in 1999 to fly by a comet and collect samples from Comet Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt 2") and parachute them back to Earth in 2006. Before reaching the comet, the spacecraft also twice opened a collection tray to fish for particles that may have come into the solar system from interstellar space. ...
'Mission Blue' film charts scientist's quest to save oceans
By Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the Galapagos Islands to Australia's Coral Sea and a marine park off the coast of Mexico, the documentary "Mission Blue" navigates the journey of renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle as she travels the globe to save the planet's threatened seas. With stunning underwater footage, the film that airs on Friday on the online streaming service Netflix and in selected U.S. theaters, shows the devastating impact of pollution, overfishing and climate change on the oceans through the eyes of the renowned scientist, explorer and author who has been charting it for decades. "I really wanted to make people aware of this woman and her life because she is such an incredible person and has dedicated so much of her life toward the ocean," Fisher Stevens, 50, who co-directed the film with Robert Nixon, said in an interview. Stevens, an actor and producer of the 2010 Oscar-winning dolphin-hunting documentary "The Cove," met Earle, 78, while filming her trip to the Galapagos Islands with scientists, explorers and policy makers more than four years ago.
Rise of the machines? Tiny robot horde swarms to form shapes
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They look vaguely like miniature hockey pucks skittering along on three pin-like metal legs, but a swarm of small robots called Kilobots at a laboratory at Harvard University is making a little bit of history for automatons everywhere. They use vibration motors to slide across a surface on their three legs.
Flu Shot Recommended for All Pregnant Women
Pregnant women should get the flu shot, regardless of how far along they are in their pregnancies, according to updated guidelines released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The new guidelines by ACOG also state that vaccination is important for women who are trying to become pregnant. Preventing the flu is an essential element of care during preconception, as well as during pregnancy and after delivery, according to a statement from ACOG. "The flu virus is highly infectious and can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women, as it can cause pneumonia, premature labor and other complications," said Dr. Laura Riley, chair of ACOG's Immunization Expert Work Group, which developed the new guidelines.
Like a Virgin: Chaste Men Sexually Confused After Marriage
Men who make virginity pledges get strong social support to abstain from sex before the wedding night, but that backing disappears soon after they tie the knot, new research suggests. As a result, male virginity pledgers can be somewhat confused and lost when it comes to sex after marriage, said study researcher Sarah Diefendorf, a sociology doctoral candidate at the University of Washington in Seattle. "They spend the first 20-something years of their lives being told that sex is wrong," Diefendorf told Live Science. Small, focused groups who make virginity pledges have a better track record of keeping that promise, Diefendorf said.
Kids' Drawings May Paint a Picture of Later Intelligence
Their ability to draw a picture of a child may be linked to their intelligence at age 14, a new study suggests. The study, which involved more than 7,700 pairs of identical and nonidentical twins, found that genes play a role in the link between early drawing ability and later measures of intelligence. "The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly," Dr. Rosalind Arden, a professor of psychiatry at King's College London, in the U.K., and lead author of the study published yesterday (Aug. 18) in the journal Psychological Science, said in a statement. "There are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life."
'Beam Me to Mars' Lets You Send Martian Messages to Fund Space Exploration
The space-funding company Uwingu launched its "Beam Me to Mars" project today (Aug. 19), inviting people to contribute, for a fee, to a "digital shout-out" that will send messages from Earth to the Red Planet on Nov. 28 ? the 50th anniversary of Mars exploration. The first successful Mars mission, NASA's Mariner 4, launched on Nov. 28, 1964. "Beam Me to Mars" celebrates that landmark effort in a new and original way, Uwingu representatives said. "We want it to inspire people," said Uwingu CEO Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and former NASA science chief.
Amazing Photos from Space Show Fiery Doom of Private US Cargo Ship
An astronaut and cosmonaut on the International Space Station captured some spectacular views of a private spaceship meeting it fiery end above Earth's surface after completing its mission on Sunday (Aug. 17). European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev snapped some stunning photos of Orbital Sciences' unmanned Cygnus spacecraft as it burned up in Earth's atmosphere following its departure from the station last week. The photos show the robotic ship in pieces after it broke apart while streaking across the sky east of New Zealand at 9:15 a.m. EDT (1315 GMT), according to Orbital Sciences representatives. "From start to finish, we are very pleased with the results of this mission," Mr. Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group said in a statement.
Scientists warn Florida governor of threat from climate change
By Bill Cotterell TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Five climate scientists warned Florida Governor Rick Scott in a meeting on Tuesday that a steadily rising ocean was a major threat to the state's future, urging it to become a leader in developing solar energy and other clean power sources. The Republican governor, who disputed the human impact on climate change in his 2010 campaign, agreed recently to meet with the scientists after his main Democratic challenger for re-election this year, former Governor Charlie Crist, proclaimed himself a firm believer in global warming. ?I?m inherently an optimist,? said David Hastings, a professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College on Florida's west coast. I?m concerned he might not do anything.? The scientists said they hoped Scott would respond to the Obama administration's proposal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 38 percent in Florida by 2030.
Weirdest Worm Ever? Clawed Creature Finds Its Family Tree
When researchers first discovered the fossil worm Hallucigenia in the 1970s, they were so perplexed they identified its head as its tail and its legs as its spines. The finding is surprising because it rewrites the evolutionary history of spiders, insects and crustaceans, said study researcher Javier Ortega-Hernandez, a paleobiologist at the University of Cambridge. Most genetic studies have found that these arthropods are close relatives of today's velvet worms, Ortega-Hernandez said in a statement. "The peculiar claws of Hallucigenia are a smoking gun that solves a long and heated debate in evolutionary biology," said study researcher Martin Smith, an earth scientist at the University of Cambridge.
In CDC bird flu mix-up, U.S. agency cites sloppy science, failed reporting
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. government scientist working with bird flu rushed through lab procedures in order to get to a staff meeting, setting off what could have been a fatal mishap, health officials said on Friday. They said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab worker, who was not identified, allotted only about half the time necessary to carry out the procedures safely, and as a result samples of mild avian flu were tainted with a highly deadly strain and sent from CDC to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CDC released the report of its investigation of the avian flu incident and said disciplinary action is under consideration. CDC did not report the incident until July.
'Mission Blue' film charts scientist's quest to save oceans
By Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the Galapagos Islands to Australia's Coral Sea and a marine park off the coast of Mexico, the documentary "Mission Blue" navigates the journey of renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle as she travels the globe to save the planet's threatened seas. With stunning underwater footage, the film that airs on Friday on the online streaming service Netflix and in selected U.S. theaters, shows the devastating impact of pollution, overfishing and climate change on the oceans through the eyes of the renowned scientist, explorer and author who has been charting it for decades. "I really wanted to make people aware of this woman and her life because she is such an incredible person and has dedicated so much of her life towards the ocean," Fisher Stevens, 50, who co-directed the film with Robert Nixon, said in an interview. Stevens, an actor and producer of the 2010 Oscar-winning dolphin-hunting documentary "The Cove," met Earle, 78, while filming her trip to the Galapagos Islands with scientists, explorers and policy makers more than four years ago.
Lionfish's Terminator-Style Killing Alarms Scientists
Lionfish, an invasive Pacific Ocean species, have been wiping out native fish populations in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean for the past couple of decades. Now, research reveals the "terminator"-style approach to hunting that has likely made them so successful: When other predatory fish quit stalking their prey to look for easier targets, lionfish just keep on killing. "Lionfish seem to be the ultimate invader," study researcher Kurt Ingeman, a doctoral student at Oregon State University, said in a statement. Ingeman, who presented his research at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Sacramento, California, studied populations of the fairy basslet, a common lionfish prey, at reefs in the Bahamas.
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