Star Power: Spring's Night Sky Dazzles with Constellations Aplenty
Part of the reason these constellations will be disappearing can be traced to the Earth's rotation. Contrary to popular belief, our planet does not turn on its axis once in 24 hours.
One-Year Crew Begins Epic Trip on International Space Station
Three new crewmembers just arrived at the International Space Station, and two of them won't be leaving for about one year. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are expected to spend about 342 days living and working on the International Space Station — marking the orbiting outpost's first yearlong space mission. Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka also joined Kornienko and Kelly on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that docked with the space station at 8:33 p.m. EDT (0033 GMT). Padalka will stay on the space station for about six months, the usual amount of time people live on the space laboratory.
Environmental group seeks greater protection for USDA scientists
An environmental activist group has filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking new rules that would enhance job protection for government scientists whose research questions the safety of farm chemicals. The action filed on Thursday by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an advocacy group for local, state and federal researchers, came less than a week after a World Health Organization group found the active ingredient in Roundup, the world's best selling weed killer, is "probably carcinogenic to humans." Roundup is made by Monsanto Co. The petition to the USDA presses the agency to adopt policies to prevent "political suppression or alteration of studies and to lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations of scientific misconduct." According to the petition, some scientists working for the federal government are finding their research restricted or censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests.
U.S.-Russian crew reaches space station for year-long stay
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, sending a U.S.-Russia crew to the International Space Station for a year-long flight, a NASA Television broadcast showed. Four Soviet-era cosmonauts lived on the now-defunct Mir space station for a year or longer, but the missions, which concluded in 1999, did not have the sophisticated medical equipment that will be used during International Space Station investigations, NASA said.
Primordial sea creature with spiky claws unearthed in Canada
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fossil site in the Canadian Rockies that provides a wondrous peek into life on Earth more than half a billion years ago has offered up the remains of an intriguing sea creature, a four-eyed arthropod predator that wielded a pair of spiky claws. Scientists said on Friday they unearthed nicely preserved fossils in British Columbia of the 508 million-year-old animal, named Yawunik kootenayi, that looked like a big shrimp with a bad attitude and was one of the largest predators of its time. The fossil beds in Kootenay National Park where it was found were in a previously unexplored area of the Burgess Shale rock formation that for more than a century has yielded exceptional remains from the Cambrian Period, when many of the major animal groups first appeared. Yawunik, whose name honors a mythical sea monster in the native Ktunaxa people's creation story, was a primitive arthropod, the highly successful group that includes shrimps, lobsters, crabs, insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes.
Ancient 4-Eyed Predator Wielded Wicked Toothy Claws
It is the first new species reported from a stunning fossil find in Marble Canyon in British Columbia's Kootenay National Park. The Marble Canyon fossil beds, located in 2012, rival the iconic Burgess Shale for their diversity of soft-bodied fossils and exquisite preservation, scientists said. Yawunik is one of the most abundant species at the Marble Canyon site, and so, as a predator, likely held a key position in the food chain, said lead study author Cédric Aria, a graduate student in paleontology at the University of Toronto in Canada. The animal was named Yawunik kootenayi after the Ktunaxa people who have long inhabited the Kootenay area where the Marble Canyon locality was found.
Grants help level the playing field for young moms in science
By Randi Belisomo (Reuters Health) - Thanks to a generous benefactor, young mothers doing laboratory research at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston can receive major grants to keep them from falling behind while they raise their children. Since 1993, the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards at MGH have helped junior female faculty with young children keep pace with their male peers, who don’t face the same challenges to research productivity that women do during their child-rearing years. Every year, five women are awarded $100,000 Claflin grants - named for benefactor Jane D. Claflin - to fund a research assistant for two years.
Valeo's self-driving car systems learn from Safran drones
By Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume PARIS (Reuters) - French auto parts maker Valeo plans to draw on drone software and other military technologies from partner Safran to offer self-driving vehicle platforms to carmakers by the end of the decade. While demonstrating an autonomous car and other prototype systems jointly developed with Safran, the French defense and aerospace group, Valeo said on Friday the first applications may reach carmaker clients within three years. "We realized very quickly that we had much more in common than we'd expected," Valeo innovation chief Guillaume Devauchelle told Reuters. "It turns out that an autonomous vehicle is really a terrestrial drone." Cars that complete whole journeys without human input are still many years away, but creeping automation is well underway, with models already on sale that can pilot themselves through slow traffic and hit the brakes when a pedestrian steps out.
Deadly Oklahoma Twister Ends Slow Start to Tornado Season
A damaging tornado touched down outside Tulsa, Oklahoma, last night (March 25). A small twister was also reported in Moore, the Oklahoma City suburb that has been repeatedly ravaged by deadly twisters this decade. The two weak tornadoes ended a long dry streak for the 2015 tornado season. For only the second time since the 1950s — when good record keeping began — the first three weeks of March were tornado-free throughout the United States, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Proving Einstein Wrong with 'Spooky' Quantum Experiment
Quantum mechanics is one of the best-tested theories in science, and it's one of the few where physicists get to do experiments proving that Einstein was wrong. That's what a team at Griffith University and the University of Tokyo in Japan did this week, showing that a weird phenomenon — in which the measurement of a particle actually affects its location — is real. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, Albert Einstein said he couldn't support this idea, which he called "spooky action at a distance," in which a particle can be in two places at once and it's not until one measures the state of that particle that it takes a definite position, seemingly with no signal transmitted to it and at a speed faster than light. When the particle takes its definite position, physicists refer to this as its wave function collapsing.