Saturn's Moon Titan Sheds Light on Hazy Alien Planets
By peering into the haze of Saturn's huge moon Titan, scientists could learn more about how the atmospheres of alien worlds behave. The scientists used data collected from 2006 to 2011 by the Cassini spacecraft in the Saturn system to examine Titan's hazy atmosphere and learn more about how it works. Just as scientists try to understand the properties of stars by analyzing the light they emit, scientists study alien worlds by observing what happens to light as it passes through those planets' atmospheres. Scientists wait until the exoplanet passes, or transits, in front of its star, then gather the light with a telescope and use a prism to separate the light into its individual wavelengths, in the process gathering information about the planet's atmosphere, including its temperature, structure and overall composition.
Vintage NASA Probe Out of Gas, But Still Alive, Private Team Says
Attempts to move a 36-year-old NASA probe closer to Earth have failed, but only because the vintage spacecraft is simply out of gas, according to the team of volunteer engineers now controlling the spacecraft. The spacecraft, called the International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3), has run out of vital nitrogen gas needed to pressurize its propulsion system, according the private team of engineers. "Thirty-six years and more than 30 billion miles have taken its toll on the spacecraft's propulsion system," they added. Without the pressurant (the nitrogen gas), it just won't work."
Should You Trust Health Apps on Your Phone?
Personal health is becoming increasingly mobile, and there are now thousands of apps aiming to address everything from lifestyle issues to chronic diseases. Medical devices are generally regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and although the FDA reviews some apps, experts say the agency's power and efforts aren't nearly enough to cover the 97,000 and counting health apps out there that are transforming consumer health. "The FDA is woefully understaffed and under-resourced to oversee these things, particularly given the number of the thousands of apps that are [most likely] under FDA's jurisdiction," said health law expert Nathan Cortez, an associate professor of law at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas. In an editorial published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday (July 24), Cortez and his colleagues argued that health and medical apps hold the promise of improving health, reducing medical errors, avoiding costly interventions, and broadening access to care.
Roasting? 7 Scientific Ways to Beat the Heat
"Humans have a tremendous ability to acclimatize to heat stress," says Michael Sawka, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, who studies how humans adapt to extreme conditions. "Training induces a lot of the characteristics that you typically see in somebody that is actually heat-acclimated," said Heather Wright, a research officer in the Flight Research Lab at the National Research Council Canada in Ottawa, who studies the effect of heat and other stresses on the body. A workout is like a mini-session of heat stress, she said. "With heat acclimation as well as with training, your resting core temperature decreases," Wright said.
Sexy Thoughts: The Mind Is Key in Female Orgasm
The researchers also found that the women in the study who regularly reached orgasm during sex reported having more erotic thoughts when they were having intercourse than those who did not have orgasms regularly during sex. The researchers did not expect that the cognitive aspect of orgasm in women would be as important as the results suggested, said study author Pascal De Sutter, a professor at the department of sexology and family science at the University of Louvain in Belgium. "It seems that women have no problem" focusing on erotic fantasies when they are on their own, De Sutter told Live Science. And concerns about their looks and weight may also distract some women, De Sutter said.
Quantum Wonderland: Neutron 'Cheshire Cats' Created
The Cheshire Cat of the classic children's book "Alice in Wonderland" had a smile that could disconnect from its body. For instance, a particle can apparently exist in two or more places at once or spin two opposite directions at the same time, a property known as superposition. Theoretical physicists last year predicted that the peculiar nature of quantum physics might allow the properties of particles to exist in two or more places simultaneously. This mimics the story of the Cheshire Cat, in which Alice notes, "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin … but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"
Rocket blasts off with U.S. ‘neighborhood watch’ spy satellites
An unmanned Delta 4 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Monday with a pair of U.S. military satellites designed to keep watch on other countries’ spacecraft. The 206-foot (63-meter) tall rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, lifted off at 7:28 p.m. EDT and blazed through partly cloudy skies as it headed into orbit, a United Launch Alliance live webcast showed. Launch of two satellites for the U.S. Air Force’s recently declassified Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, had been slated for July 23, but was delayed one day to resolve a technical issue with ground support equipment and then three more times by poor weather. Once in orbit, the GSSAP satellites, built by Orbital Sciences Corp, will drift above and below a 22,300-mile (35,970-km) high zone that houses most of the world's communications satellites and other spacecraft.
Is Your Life Story Written in Your Poop?
In a new experiment, researchers studied gut and saliva bacteria in two people over a year, to investigate how microbial communities in people's bodies, called their microbiota, changed over time. The study participants provided stool and saliva samples nearly every day during the study period, and chronicled their daily health and behavior, including their diet, exercise, bowel movements and mood, using a diary app. The ratio then returned to normal when the study participant returned home, according to the study, led by Lawrence David, an assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In the other study participant, an intestinal infection with Salmonella, resulted in the permanent decline of most gut bacterial types, which were replaced by genetically-similar species, according to the study published today (July 24) in the journal Genome Biology.
Evidence suggests babies in womb start learning earlier than thought: study
"It really pushed the envelope" in terms of how early babies begin to learn, lead researcher Charlene Krueger, associate professor at the University of Florida's College of Nursing, said on Thursday. Krueger had the women repeat three times out loud a set 15-second nursery rhyme, and do it twice a day for six weeks. The fetuses’ heart rates were monitored at 32, 33 and 34 weeks as they listened to a recording of a female stranger recite the rhyme. By the 34th week, Krueger said, the heart rates of the tested fetuses showed an overall slight decline while listening to the recording, compared with a control group of fetuses whose heart rates slightly accelerated while listening to a recording of a new nursery rhyme.
Bayer says Nexavar fails in breast cancer study
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German drugmaker Bayer said a Phase III trial of cancer drug Nexavar in patients with advanced breast cancer did not meet its primary endpoint of delaying the progression of the disease. The study, called Resilience, evaluated Nexavar in combination with chemotherapeutic agent capecitabine, in women with HER2-negative breast cancer. Oral drug Nexavar, which Bayer is developing jointly with Amgen, is approved for use against certain types of liver, kidney and thyroid cancer. Study details are expected to be presented at an upcoming scientific conference. ...