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Spacewalkers to replace failed computer outside space station
Two U.S. astronauts floated outside the International Space Station on Wednesday to replace a failed computer that serves as a backup to critical control systems, including the outpost's solar panel wings. Flight engineers Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson left the station's Quest airlock just after 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) for what was expected to be a 2-1/2-hour spacewalk. They carried with them a spare computer to be installed in the central section of the station's exterior power truss. "It looks like a great day to take a walk in space," Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen radioed to the crew from NASA's Mission Control in Houston.
Risk of asteroid hitting Earth higher than thought, study shows
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The chance of a city-killing asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed, a non-profit group building an asteroid-hunting telescope said on Tuesday. A global network that listens for nuclear weapons detonations detected 26 asteroids that exploded in Earth's atmosphere from 2000 to 2013, data collected by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization shows. "There is a popular misconception that asteroid impacts are extraordinarily rare ... that's incorrect," said former astronaut Ed Lu, who now heads the California-based B612 Foundation. The foundation on Tuesday released a video visualization of the asteroid strikes in an attempt to raise public awareness of the threat.
Study in Europe eclipses notion home in the sun equals happiness
Sun seekers who leave northern Europe for warmer climes are marginally less happy than those left behind, a study found. A sample of more than 300 migrants from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain who resettled in Mediterranean countries found that they were slightly less satisfied with life than a much larger sample of 56,000 people living in northern countries. The sun lovers scored 7.3 out of a possible 10 on average on a "happiness" scale while the stay-at-homes came in at an average of 7.5 percent, according to the study released on Wednesday by Dr David Bartram, a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at England's University of Leicester. "The key finding from the analysis is that people from northern Europe who migrated to southern Europe are less happy than the stayers in northern Europe," Bartram said.
First U.S. drone research center will focus on soil studies: FAA
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first of six U.S. test sites chosen to perform unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research will start flight operations during the week of May 5, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday. The site in North Dakota will begin using a Draganflyer X4ES small UAS, with the initial goal to agricultural research including checking soil quality and the status of crops. (Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
Meteor lights up night sky in northern Russia
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russians with smartphones and dashboard cameras captured footage of a meteor that flashed across the night sky near the Arctic Circle over the weekend. There were no reports of damage but the ball of fire raised eyebrows after a meteorite crashed to Earth near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, shattering windows, damaging buildings and injuring more than 1,200 people. ...
Not So Harmless? Pot Linked to Heart Problems
Pot may not have a chilling-out, calming effect on everyone ? evidence is emerging that for some people, smoking marijuana could increase the risk of heart problems, doctors say. In a new study, researchers used data from a database called the French Addictovigilance Network, gathered from 2006 to 2010. Of the nearly 2,000 reported complications related to marijuana, the researchers found that 2 percent, or 35 cases, involved heart problems. These cases included 20 people who suffered a heart attack, and nine who died.
The Costs of Fresh Water in a Changing World (Op-Ed)
Lynn Wilson is academic department chair for public administration at Kaplan University, a science journalist and an academic author. She is also the founder and CEO of the SeaTrust Institute, a delegate and organizational NGO Focal Point for the UNFCCC and other United Nations regimes, a reviewer for IPCC AR5 and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and an active researcher with projects in Africa and the Pacific Island states. Water scarcity was, until recently, considered by most of the developed world to be like James Hilton's "Lost Horizon": "Far away, at the very limit of distance." Communities are attempting to "drought-proof" themselves through a combination of desalinization technologies, water recovery and reuse programs, and public private partnerships (PPPs).
Not Just for Sex: Why the Y Chromosome Hasn't Vanished
Men have lost most of the genes originally included on the Y chromosome during evolution, but those genes essential for survival have persevered, new research finds. Many of the remaining Y chromosome genes appear to have little if any role in determining gender or producing sperm, but rather are active throughout the body and may contribute to differences between men and women with certain diseases, researchers said. They are special, not lucky," said study author Daniel Bellott, a research scientist at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, in Cambridge, Mass. "We think that these genes are very important for male development, and are essential for male viability." The X chromosome kept 98 percent of its genes, but the Y chromosome went through genetic decay, shedding all but 3 percent of its genes.
Buzz Aldrin Wants NASA Astronauts to Visit Asteroid in Deep Space
While moonwalker Buzz Aldrin thinks that a mission sending humans to an asteroid is a good idea, the Apollo astronaut isn't so happy with NASA's current plan to use a robot to shrink-wrap a space rock and park it near the moon. The space agency's asteroid plan centers on launching a robotic mission that aims to capture an asteroid ? or a smaller boulder from a space rock ? and deliver it to an orbit around the moon where astronauts can visit and sample it sometime in the 2020s. Aldrin would rather see NASA launch astronauts on a mission to an asteroid still in deep space. Under Aldrin's model, NASA would send an astronaut crew to an asteroid using the space agency's Space Launch System rocket and Orion space capsule.
Spacewalking Astronauts Replace Dead Computer on Space Station
A pair of NASA astronauts replaced a dead backup computer on the International Space Station during a short spacewalk Wednesday (April 23) to restore a critical computer system back to full strength. NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson made quick work of their repair during the spacewalk, removing the faulty station computer and installing a spare less than an hour after floating outside the orbiting laboratory at 9:56 a.m. EDT (1356 GMT). "It looks like a good day for you guys to take a walk in space," Mission Control radioed the astronauts as the spacewalk began. Mastracchio and Swanson replaced a computer known in NASA parlance as a Multiplexer-Demultiplexer, or MDM.
Drop in population of Gulf of Maine baby lobsters puzzles scientists
The number of baby lobsters in the Gulf of Maine has dropped by half since 2007, a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists as the population of adult lobsters remains near a record high, contributing to robust catches. Scientists note that baby lobsters take eight years to reach harvestable size, meaning the dip could yet be felt by the state's 4,200 lobstermen, who last year hauled in a record catch worth $365 million, representing nearly 70 percent of Maine's total seafood harvest. Despite the record hauls, scientists, including University of Maine researcher Rick Wahle, who founded the baby lobster study in 1989, contend over-fishing is not likely the culprit. The lobster industry, they note, is among the country's most closely regulated.
Nano Webs Could Counterfeit-Proof Credit Cards
South Korean researchers have developed tiny tags made of silver nanowires that are randomly scattered, then form a unique pattern ? just like the one-of-a-kind designs in each spider web. The research is "an important and inspiring idea to use nanotechnology for anti-counterfeiting," said Zhao Qin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., who was not involved in the study. For years, researchers have sought ways to fight counterfeiting, with many methods currently under development in labs around the globe. The group from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), however, has proposed a much simpler method, described in the March 20 issue of the journal Nanotechnology from the Institute of Physics.
Scientists watch enormous Antarctic iceberg drift
WASHINGTON (AP) ? Scientists are watching an iceberg bigger than the island of Guam as it slowly moves away from an Antarctic glacier.
Scientists monitor huge iceberg that broke off from Antarctica
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists are monitoring an iceberg roughly six times the size of Manhattan - one of the largest now in existence - that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean. NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said on Wednesday the iceberg covers about 255 square miles (660 square km) and is up to a third of a mile (500 meters) thick. Known as B31, the iceberg separated from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier last November, Brunt added. "It's one that's large enough that it warrants monitoring," Brunt said in a telephone interview, noting that U.S. government organizations including the National Ice Center keep an eye on dozens of icebergs at any given time.
California GOP hopeful wants free college for science, math students
By Jennifer Chaussee BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools. Kashkari's proposal would waive tuition for students pursuing a four-year degree in any science, technology, electronics, or math subject in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings after graduation. It came as Kashkari, trailing a distant third in recent polls behind incumbent Jerry Brown and Republican Tea Party favorite Tim Donnelly, is struggling to add momentum to his campaign before the June primary.
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