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Black Hole Sucks Down Star Stuff at 30 Percent Speed of Light

Posted: September 24, 2018, 9:30 pm |
After falling past the event horizon — the point of no return — nothing can escape a black hole. While the depths of black holes may forever remain a mystery, astronomers can observe the regions around them. In a paper published September 3 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of researchers reported, for the first time, spotting a clump of matter falling directly into a distant black hole at nearly one-third the speed of light.

The observations, which come fro

Paraplegics Walk Again Using Electronic Implant

Posted: September 24, 2018, 6:48 pm |
Three paraplegic patients can walk again thanks to an intense rehabilitation program with a device that sends electricity down the spine, researchers report Monday in two separate studies.

A snowmobile accident nearly 4 years earlier had paralyzed the then 26-year-old Jered Chinnock from the middle of his back down. He couldn’t move or feel anything below his sixth thoracic vertebrae — a spinal segment in the middle of the rib cage — where he had broken his back. Now, he can voluntarily m

Not So Fast

Posted: September 24, 2018, 10:00 am |
Scientists disagree on how to eat for your best life. Dieting may never be the same.

Researchers Have Finally Found Human Skeletal Stem Cells

Posted: September 21, 2018, 10:56 pm |
If only we could regrow our broken bones like Harry Potter, Skele-gro style. Or, at the very least, heal up like a limb-regenerating newt. Alas, we humans possess no such abilities. Though our bodies can mend broken bones, the older we get, the shoddier that patch job gets. As for cartilage — the crucial cushioning that keeps our bones from rubbing together — once that’s gone, it’s gone for good.

But a new discovery by researchers could change that outlook. A team from Stanford University

Neanderthal Brains: Bigger, Not Necessarily Better

Posted: September 21, 2018, 10:30 pm |
Neanderthals had bigger brains than people today.

In any textbook on human evolution, you’ll find that fact, often accompanied by measurements of endocranial volume, the space inside a skull. On average, this value is about 1410 cm3 (~6 cups) for Neanderthals and 1350 cm3 (5.7 cups) for recent humans.

So does that quarter-cup of brain matter, matter? Were Neanderthals smarter than our kind?

While brain size is important, cognitive abilities are influenced by numerous factors includi

What is Dark Matter? Even the Best Theories Are Crumbling

Posted: September 21, 2018, 10:00 pm |
Dark matter research is unsettling. Scientists were unnerved when they first noticed that galaxies don’t rotate by the same physics as a spinning plate. The stars at a galaxy’s edge rotate faster than expected. And their motion can only be explained by a lot of invisible matter that we can’t see.

That was exciting more than unsettling when the field was new and ideas were plentiful and had yet to be proven wrong. Researchers consolidated the possibilities into two main camps, complete wit

TESS, NASA’s Next-Gen Planet Hunter, is Already Delivering

Posted: September 21, 2018, 7:00 pm |
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched April 18, headed for an orbit that takes it out to about the distance of the Moon at its apogee. Just a few weeks later, it began science operations and a list of 50 exoplanet candidates rolled in, with researchers now expecting at least six of those first candidates to be eventually confirmed as bona-fide planets.

The above image represents TESS’ “first light” science image, starting in the first of 26 sectors it will ultimatel

Opioid Epidemic Part Of Decades-Long Rise in Drug Overdoses

Posted: September 20, 2018, 8:00 pm |
Drug overdoses kill close to 200 people everyday in the United States. And while opioids are a major contributor to those deaths today, a new analysis of nearly 600,000 accidental drug overdose deaths between 1979 and 2016 reveals the current crisis is part of a much larger trend.

“We think of [the current epidemic] starting in the ’90s, but that was gas on the flame,” said Robert Pack, a public health expert at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, who was not involved in the

Sharing is Caring? Actually, it’s Just Contagious

Posted: September 20, 2018, 3:00 pm |
Once upon a time (er, yesterday), we might have thought a character trait like generosity was something deeply ingrained by life experiences or even decided by a person’s genes.

But research today in Current Biology suggests that a person’s propensity to share is highly dependent on one thing: how much the people around them – currently – are sharing.

A person’s generosity as recent as last year has no correlation to their generosity now.

Scientists learned this while studying coop

Gambling Monkeys Shed Light on Risky Behavior

Posted: September 20, 2018, 3:00 pm |
Researchers have identified a key brain area associated with high-risk behavior, thanks to two monkeys they trained to gamble.

Before the rhesus monkeys could start gambling, they had to learn the researchers’ system of cues. Squares of different colors signaled how big the payout – a drink of water or juice – would be.

“They know which (color) gives which amount,” says Veit Stuphorn, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University. “In the wild, th

Watch This Creepy Robo-Skin Turn a Stuffed Animal Into a Robot

Posted: September 19, 2018, 6:30 pm |

Every single episode of MacGyver would have been ruined had he gotten his hands on a few patches of a new robotic skin developed by researchers at Yale University.

A diversion to distract cartel enforcers? Wrap a stick of dynamite in robotic skin and it’ll walk itself around the corner and explode. Snatch keys from the warden’s neck? Stick a few of those skins together to make a robotic arm. Escape from a flying airplane? Well, in that situation he tied a parachute to a conve

Here’s what the devastating flooding from Florence looks like from space

Posted: September 19, 2018, 3:27 pm |
You’ve probably seen imagery shot in the Carolinas showing the devastating flooding that Hurricane Florence left its wake. Now, check out what that flooding looks like from space — in the before-and-after animation above of false-color satellite images.

The images were acquired by NASA’s bus-sized Terra satellite, which circles Earth in a polar orbit 483 above the surface. The before image was captured on August 26th; the after image on September 18th.

Flooded waterways in the post-sto

After 1,000 Years, Astronomers Still Unlocking Secrets of the Crab Nebula

Posted: September 18, 2018, 11:00 pm |
In late spring in the year 1054, a strange light appeared in the sky in what we would now call the constellation Taurus the Bull. It was a new star, where no star had been before. It grew quickly brighter, until by July it outshone everything except the moon. Over the next two years it faded away, becoming a star of normal brightness and eventually disappearing again entirely.

Astronomers in China and Japan recorded its arrival, and other observers around the world surely noticed it as we

The First Earthlings Around the Moon Were Two Soviet Tortoises

Posted: September 18, 2018, 10:00 pm |
Anders. Borman. Lovell. The names of the first three humans to journey around the moon will echo throughout eternity. But these brave Apollo 8 astronauts were actually not the first earthlings to complete the voyage. Two tortoises beat NASA to the moon by a matter of months.

Fifty years ago today, on September 18, 1968, the Soviet Union’s Zond 5 spacecraft circled the moon, ferrying the first living creatures known to have orbited another world. On board were two Russian steppe tortoises

Kilopower Project: Los Alamos’ New Nuclear Reactors Could Power Spacecraft and Moon Bases

Posted: September 17, 2018, 11:00 pm |
The future of space exploration may rest in the hands of a group of Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers. They’ve built the first of a new generation of small nuclear reactors intended to power missions to deep space and even future astronaut bases on the moon and Mars.

Called Kilopower, their project aims to achieve a longstanding dream of the space community: a safe, effective, and powerful nuclear power reactor that can power spacecraft for years.

“I don’t think we can expand

A Chink in the Brain Armor: the NFL, Concussion and Omega-3s

Posted: September 17, 2018, 10:03 pm |
On Twitter, I was pointed to the strange story of Brain Armor®, a nutritional supplement which is supposed to promote brain health.

While there are many supplements that are sold for the same purpose, Brain Armor has a unique claim to fame: it is the official brain health supplement of Pro Football Legends (PFL), the “commercial marketing arm of the NFL Alumni.”

Brain Armor’s links to the NFL Alumni raised eyebrows on Twitter because the NFL has famously been the target of legal ac

Activity – Not Rest – Speeds Recovery After Brain Injury in Mice

Posted: September 17, 2018, 10:00 pm |
Conventional wisdom advocates for rest after suffering an injury. Now researchers have discovered that activity — not rest — helps the brain recover from trauma in mice. The finding suggests that challenging the brain early after damage can speed up healing.

“Lengthy rest periods are supposed to be key to the brain’s healthy recovery, but our study in mice demonstrates that re-engaging the brain immediately after injury can actually be more helpful than resting it,” study lead Randy Bruno

Volcanoes of Mud Erupt From Giant Asteroid Ceres

Posted: September 17, 2018, 3:00 pm |
Nothing is normal on Ceres — least of all its mud volcanoes.

In new research published in Nature Astronomy, a large team of astronomers has laid out a new view of the weirdest world in our solar system. It seems that Ceres has had a busy last few billion years — including random smatterings of volcanism, but of a type seen nowhere else in the solar system.

Ceres is the largest world in the asteroid belt, and is believed to be a remnant proto-planet, or the kind of small worlds that se

The Evolution of Neuroimaging

Posted: September 15, 2018, 1:28 pm |
A fun new paper looks at the changing landscape of neuroimaging research through an analysis of the journals Neuroimage and PNAS. The article comes from UPenn researchers Jordan D. Dworkin, Russell T. Shinohara and Danielle S. Bassett.

Dworkin et al. created a network analysis of keywords from the 8,547 Neuroimage papers that were published between 2008 and 2017. This analysis produces a graph in which the nodes are keywords (topics) and the edges (connections) reflect the tendency for th

Is Time Running Out For NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover?

Posted: September 14, 2018, 9:30 pm |
Since June 10, the 14-year-old Opportunity rover has been silent, presumably sleeping as thick dust clouds blocked the Sun from its solar cells. But now, that sky is clearing, and NASA is implementing a listening plan for the rover through January 2019.

Without power, the rover has likely experienced several faults. Among them, its mission clock may have stopped recording time accurately. To counteract this possibility, the rover’s mission team is both passively waiting for the rover to