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Science + Technology

Sharks can live to be at least 272 years old in the Arctic seas, and scientists say one recently caught shark may have lived as long as 512 years. That's according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science that says Greenland sharks can live longer than any other known animal advanced enough to have a backbone. Until now, the record-holder for the oldest vertebrate was the bowhead whale, known to have lived up to 211 years. The Greenland shark, a massive carnivore that can be more...

Astronomers think they've discovered a new planet in our solar system. Now all they have to do is find it. Nobody's actually seen the new planet. The reason astronomers think it's out there is the strange behavior of some smallish objects in the Kuiper Belt , a collection of celestial objects orbiting in the outer reaches of the solar system. "The seven most distant of these objects, when they go really far away, they all go in the same direction," says Mike Brown , professor of planetary...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5A6ehNcrmw "The wave" has been a popular diversion among spectators at stadium sporting events since at least the early 1980s, and over the years this pastime has caught the attention of physicists. Illes Farkas , with the statistical and biological physics group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, first began pondering the phenomenon in 2001. "It was summer," he recalls. "It was really hot," and some kind of sports competition was in town. He saw...

A computer may soon be able to offer highly personalized treatment suggestions for cancer patients based on the specifics of their cases and the full sweep of the most relevant scientific research. IBM and the New York Genome Center, a consortium of medical research institutions in New York City, are collaborating on a project to speed up cancer diagnoses and treatment. The work, which got underway in 2013, is exploring the use of computers to help analyze a wide range of genetic information...

Computer programs often reflect the biases of their very human creators. That's been well established. The question now is: How can we fix that problem? Adam Kalai thinks we should start with the bits of code that teach computers how to process language. He's a researcher for Microsoft and his latest project — a joint effort with Boston University — has focused on something called a word embedding . "It's kind of like a dictionary for a computer," he explains. Essentially, word embeddings are...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MK-AXjpI2w Researchers in Brazil who are trying to help people with spine injuries gain mobility have made a surprising discovery: Injured people doing brain training while interacting with robot-like machines were able to regain some sensation and movement. The findings , published in Scientific Reports (one of the Nature journals), suggest that damaged spinal tissue in some people with paraplegia can be retrained to a certain extent — somewhat the way certain...

Sometimes things seem to happen for a reason. Some people call these events happy coincidences, others call them the work of God, or of many gods, while yet others see them as manifestations of one's karma. I prefer the happy-coincidence choice, finding supernatural maneuvering a far-fetched hypothesis. In fact, the whole notion of a supernatural influence doesn't quite make sense, at least from a scientific perspective. After all, an "influence" denotes a physical occurrence or an event. And...

One year ago — on Aug. 5, 2015 — an EPA crew at the Gold King Mine in southwest Colorado accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of orange water filled with mercury and arsenic. The toxic spill flowed into the Animas River, eventually running into New Mexico's San Juan River and into Lake Powell. So far, disaster response and water quality monitoring have cost the EPA about $29 million — and the problem isn't over yet. Water laced with heavy metals continues to gush out of the mine, says...

The federal government announced plans Thursday to lift a moratorium on funding of certain controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human. The National Institutes of Health is proposing a new policy to permit scientists to get federal money to make embryos, known as chimeras, under certain carefully monitored conditions. The NIH imposed a moratorium on funding these experiments in September because they could raise ethical concerns . One...

Russia is fighting a mysterious anthrax outbreak in a remote corner of Siberia. Dozens of people have been hospitalized; one child has died. The government airlifted some families out because more than 2,000 reindeer have been infected. Officials don't know exactly how the outbreak started, but the current hypothesis is almost unbelievable: A heat wave has thawed the frozen soil there and with it, a reindeer carcass infected with anthrax decades ago. Some scientists think this incident could...

In this fictitious world, all it takes is just a small vial of silvery fluid. Its illegal: very, very illegal. But if you can find it, just one vial is enough. Drink that down and soon the nano-scale molecular machines will work their way past the blood-brain barrier and begin coating the surfaces of your neurons. As the programmable "nanites" map the connections of neural network, in Ramez Naam's Nexus , you'll enter the calibration phase and be tripping out like a high-tech Timothy Leary....

How should schools best prepare kids to live and work in the second half of the 21st century? In previous eras, the job of school was simple: Teach them math and reading skills. Have them learn some basic facts about the world. Today the challenge is a lot different. Most people all over the world, even in the poorest countries, have much easier access to a calculator, a dictionary and great swaths of knowledge in their pockets. And technology isn't just expanding access to knowledge. It's...

When agricultural extension agent Tom Barber drives the country roads of eastern Arkansas this summer, his trained eye can spot the damage: soybean leaves contorted into cup-like shapes. He's seeing it in field after field. Similar damage is turning up in Tennessee and in the "boot-heel" region of Missouri. Tens of thousands of acres are affected. This is no natural phenomenon of weather or disease. It's almost certainly the result of a crime. The disfigured leaves are evidence that a...

Mapping The Seen And Unseen

Jul 29, 2016

The invisible and unseen has always fascinated us humans. Mapping both literal and metaphorical has always been about our quest for knowing. As an astrophysicist, my research work involves mapping dark matter, the elusive substance that accounts for about a quarter of our universe. This is, though, not the first attempt to map the unknown. The deep fascination with the mysterious, and the impulse to seek and locate ourselves in the cosmic context, seems to be imprinted in our DNA and psyches....

Can Diabetes Alert Dogs Help Sniff Out Low Blood Sugar?

Jul 29, 2016

For people with diabetes who take insulin, the risk of losing consciousness from low blood sugar is a constant fear. Devices called continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) can alert wearers to dropping levels, but not everyone has access to them. And even among those who do, some prefer a furrier and friendlier alert option: a service dog with special training to alert owners when their blood sugar reaches dangerously low levels. These dogs are trained in a variety of ways, and although they...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqyKrvk0aZo Researchers have found a curious purple orb near California's Channel Islands – and it's left them stumped. To our untrained eye, it looks a little like a really dazzling Christmas ornament. Alternatively, Smithsonian compared it to an unhatched Pokemon. During the recent expedition, unnamed scientists from the Nautilus exploration vessel are recording and chatting about what they're seeing when they come across the mysterious, beautiful blob. Watch...

'Clone Sisters' Of Dolly The Sheep Are Alive And Kicking

Jul 26, 2016

About four years ago, Kevin Sinclair inherited an army of clones. Very fluffy clones. "Daisy, Debbie, Denise and Diana," says Sinclair , a developmental biologist at the University of Nottingham in England. The sheep are just four of 13 clones Sinclair shepherds, but they're the most famous because of their relation to Dolly, the sheep that made headlines two decades ago as the first successfully cloned mammal. " 'Sister clones' probably best describes them," Sinclair says. "They actually...

This is a year of politics. That means everyone has opinions about where the world should be headed and how we should get there. No matter how weird this political season has been, however, there remains a key difference between opinions and facts. That difference comes into the starkest relief when people must face their own inconsistencies in reconciling the two domains. And nowhere is the gap between opinions and facts more apparent than the subject of climate change. As a recent action by...

The trip had mechanical setbacks, and the plane's average speed would be legal on many American streets. But when the Solar Impulse aircraft touched down in Abu Dhabi in the early morning darkness Tuesday, it successfully completed a round-the-world voyage using only solar power. Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg took turns flying the single-seat aircraft that began its trip on March 9 of 2015, flying more than 26,700 miles in a total of 17 stages (23 days) as they soared...

The Uppermost Aristocracy of the Hoverfly Society

Jul 23, 2016

You may have seen a hoverfly before. You also may have mistaken it for something else — a bee, or a wasp. They are masters of mimicry, imitating more dangerous insects to avoid predators. Fredrik Sjöberg is not fooled by these disguises. He's spent the last thirty years hunting for hoverflies, and can distinguish between species based on tiny differences in antennae color or wing shape. Sjöberg is an amateur entomologist, but a committed one. "You want to know something that no one else knows...

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