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Storms Generate Thunder, Lightning and…Antimatter?

Posted: November 22, 2017, 6:00 pm |
In the skies above Japan, scientists have detected lightning triggering nuclear reactions. These new findings are clear evidence that thunderstorms are a natural source of radioactive isotopes on Earth.

Thunderstorms are natural particle accelerators, capable of hurling electrons outward at nearly the speed of light. When these electrons strike atoms, they can generate gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light.

Previous research suggested that gamma rays from lightning can have a va

PTSD: An Overlooked Consequence of a Cancer Diagnosis

Posted: November 21, 2017, 10:13 pm |
Roughly one in five cancer patients struggle with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of diagnosis and treatment.

A recent study from Malaysia indicates that PTSD is a fairly common result of the long and difficult process of living with and treating cancer. Though most commonly associated with soldiers returning from war, PTSD can result from many different forms of trauma. The disorder can sometimes go unnoticed, or be misdiagnosed, causing those suffering to endure p

Photo feature: a lenticularly gorgeous sunset along the Front Range of Colorado

Posted: November 21, 2017, 9:29 pm |
The cloud formations in the photograph above, and those to follow, may look otherworldly, and maybe even a bit ominous. But they are perfectly benign (except when they herald an approaching storm), and are well known to meteorologists.

The scientific name for these cloud formations is “altocumulus standing lenticularus.’ But from here on out, I’ll just refer to them lenticular clouds.

If you’ve never seen lenticular clouds like these before, whether in pictures or in person, you might

The Opioid Epidemic Hits Some Generations Harder Than Others

Posted: November 21, 2017, 9:00 pm |
As the opioid epidemic rages in the U.S., the number of overdose deaths has nearly quadrupled since 1999. And according to a new study, baby boomers and millennials are at significantly higher risk.

Researchers from Columbia University analyzed drug overdose deaths in the United States between 1999-2014, the most recent year for which data was available. (The team selected 1999 as the start date due to changes in drug classification that would have made reconciling pre- and post-1999 da

High-Ranking Male Primates Keep Wafting Their Sex Stink at Females, Who Hate It

Posted: November 21, 2017, 8:31 pm |
Researchers call it “stink flirting.” A male ring-tailed lemur rubs his signature scent onto his long, fluffy tail, then waves it over his head in the direction of a nearby female. Males seem to intend this gesture as a sexual overture. But it often gets them into fights—with lemurs of both sexes. In fact, scientists aren’t sure stink flirting helps male lemurs at all.

Smell is an important communication tool for ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta). Both males and females have scent glan

A new weather satellite roars into orbit, promising faster and better forecasts of extreme weather like hurricanes

Posted: November 21, 2017, 12:36 am |
The NOAA-20 satellite was to be the first of four, but the Trump Administration has sought to delay and massively cut the program

In the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 18th, a Delta  II rocket roared to life and propelled the newest U.S. weather satellite into orbit on a column of fire that lit up the nighttime sky of coastal California.

The NOAA-20 satellite is now circling the globe 14 times a day, orbiting from pole to pole at about 520 miles above the surface. It is equipped w

First-Known Interstellar Object Looks…Pretty Weird

Posted: November 20, 2017, 8:27 pm |
Scientists now have an idea of what the first recorded extra-solar asteroid looked like.

The hunk of rock of that whipped through the solar system in October looks like no other asteroid we’ve seen before, they say, long and thin like a javelin and colored red from millions of years of accumulated radiation exposure. The coloration wasn’t surprising, but the shape was, say astronomers from the European Southern Observatory. Most objects astronomers observe in our solar system are roughly

Tesla’s Electric Semi Shows Promise—But Will it Deliver?

Posted: November 17, 2017, 10:12 pm |
Elon Musk finally revealed the Tesla Semi, an electric big-rig he professes will outstrip the diesel fleets that have dominated American freight for decades.

The Tesla CEO flaunted his latest creation and its “BAMF performance”—it’s a technical term, he says—at an unveiling ceremony Thursday night in Hawthorne, CA. He outlined the semi’s specs, which include parlor tricks like going from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds and potentially industry-upending figures for driving range and cost of operatio

We Should Toss That $450M da Vinci into a Particle Accelerator

Posted: November 17, 2017, 9:57 pm |
A portrait of the world’s most recognizable person, Jesus Christ, painted by an icon whose renown doesn’t trail too far behind, Leonardo da Vinci, on Wednesday sold at auction for $450.3 million, setting a new record for artistic largesse.

Only a handful of authentic da Vinci paintings exist today, and Salvator Mundi is the only one that could still be purchased by a deep-pocketed collector. Christie’s Auction House billed the work as “The Last da Vinci,” “the holy grail of our business.”

Darwin Was Right About Bird Vomit

Posted: November 17, 2017, 6:00 pm |
Charles Darwin was a busy man.

When he wasn’t advancing his groundbreaking theory of evolution by natural selection, he could be found carefully analyzing the contents of bird vomit and droppings. No, this wasn’t an obscure hobby. He was getting his hands dirty to stack up more evidence to support one of his many hypotheses.

He suspected that some birds had an unusual way of transporting plants to new locations. “Freshwater fish, I find, eat seeds of many land and water plants; fish ar

A First Attempt to Edit Genes Inside the Body

Posted: November 15, 2017, 10:50 pm |
For the first time, doctors have attempted to edit a man’s genes inside his body.

The patient is 44-year-old Brian Madeux, who suffers from a rare genetic disease that has left him progressively more debilitated over the course of his life. His liver can’t produce an enzyme necessary for breaking down a type of carbohydrate, something researchers hope to repair with a gene-editing technique called zinc-finger nucleases (ZFN).
Gene Repair
Through an IV, billions of copies of a harmless v

Even Pills Are Going Digital

Posted: November 15, 2017, 10:38 pm |
Not following medicine as prescribed can be costly — like $100 billion to $289 billion, as reported by The Atlantic in 2012. Not only that, but it can also harm patients and set back their treatment.

But a new digital pill could change that.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday approved the first pill in the United States that comes loaded with a digital ingestion tracking system. After taking one of these new pills, the IEM sensor communicates to a patch worn by the pati

Watch CRISPR Do Its Thing

Posted: November 15, 2017, 10:14 pm |
Forget about the generic stock art that shows scissors cutting chunks of DNA, because researchers have recorded actual video of CRISPR in action.

CRISPR is a powerful gene-editing tool that allows researchers to cut and paste snippets of DNA to make targeted changes to a living organism’s genome. It’s a method that’s fast and easy, and it has ushered in a new era of customized life.

Scientists have used the technique to breed mosquitoes that resistant to the malaria virus, develop trea

Signatures of Alzheimer’s Disease Discovered in Dolphins

Posted: November 15, 2017, 7:17 pm |
A team of scientists in the United Kingdom and the U.S. recently reported the discovery of pathological signs of Alzheimer’s disease in dolphins, animals whose brains are similar in many ways to those of humans.

This is the first time that these signs – neurofibrillary tangles and two kinds of protein clusters called plaques – have been discovered together in marine mammals. As neuroscience researchers, we believe this discovery has added significance because of the similarities between d

Organic Farming Could Feed the World, But…

Posted: November 15, 2017, 5:38 pm |
The United Nations estimates the global population will reach more than 9 billion by 2050, and, by some estimates, agricultural output will have to increase by 50 percent to feed all of those mouths. So is it possible to do it organically?

Modern farming methods focus on maximizing crop yields with the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which put off a surplus of nitrogen that turns into greenhouse gases or finds it’s way into waterways. Advances in industrial farming methods ar

Is Life Locked in Ice on Mars?

Posted: November 15, 2017, 5:26 pm |
Missions from above and on the surface have been searching for life on Mars for years. But there’s an important question worth asking, amidst this vital search: If life once thrived there, how long could even extreme microorganisms survive in Mars’ current harsh conditions? And where might they best survive?

A group of researchers from Lomonosov Moscow State University has just released their answer to those questions. 

The paper, published in the journal Extremophiles, focused on natu

With Just $1,000, Anyone Can Track Your Every Move

Posted: November 13, 2017, 9:32 pm |
By now, most of us are probably used to the idea that large corporations track our preferences and activities every time we go online. It’s the price we pay for the custom, convenient experiences we seek on the internet. But tracking your activity online isn’t exclusive to high-flying FAANG companies. For a modest sum, anyone can use the similar tracking tools to essentially spy on another person’s activities.

To illustrate the ease of web-based voyeurism, researchers from the University

The Peanut Plague

Posted: November 10, 2017, 12:00 pm |
A toxic fungus infects crops eaten across the developing world. Scientists are engineering a solution.

A Massive Volcano Beneath Europe Is Stirring

Posted: October 11, 2017, 10:00 am |
And millions of lives may be at risk.

Will We Save the Rhino?

Posted: October 10, 2017, 10:00 am |
A global, decade-long poaching epidemic has conservationists wondering how long the animals will survive.