New avian flu viruses send U.S. scientists scrambling

A sign warns of the closure of a footpath after an outbreak of bird flu in the village of UphamBy Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) - Three highly pathogenic avian flu viruses that have infected poultry and wild birds in the U.S. Midwest appear unlikely to present a significant risk to humans. The H parts, which are highly pathogenic in poultry, originated in Asia, and the N parts come from North American, low pathogenic, avian flu viruses, said Dr. Rubin Donis, an associate director for policy and preparedness in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza division.

Posted on 25 April 2015 | 7:20 pm

More Than 1,000 Doctors Say Dr. Oz Should Resign

At least 1,000 U.S. doctors say they think Dr. Mehmet Oz should resign from his faculty position at Columbia University in New York, a new poll finds. Earlier this week, 10 doctors sent a letter calling for Oz, host of the popular TV show "The Dr. Oz Show," to be removed from his academic position as a cardiothoracic surgeon at Columbia. The doctors said that Oz has promoted products and made claims that aren't supported by medical evidence.

Posted on 25 April 2015 | 4:35 pm

Awesome Hubble Telescope Pics Pop on Times Square Screens in NYC

Awesome Hubble Telescope Pics Pop on Times Square Screens in NYCAdvertisements hawking clothing, smart phones and theater tickets usually overwhelm New York City's Times Square — but look closely this week and you'll also see exploding stars, whirling galaxies and bubbling nebulas. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, The Toshiba Vision screen in Times Square is displaying awe-inspiring images taken by Hubble, as well as a few snapshots of the telescope itself. This isn't the first time the Toshiba screens have broadcast amazing images from space. In August 2012, the Toshiba Vision screen also broadcast the Mars rover Curiosity's touchdown on the Red Planet.

Posted on 25 April 2015 | 8:14 am

SpaceX's Elon Musk Says Valve Glitch Caused Rocket Landing Crash

SpaceX's Elon Musk Says Valve Glitch Caused Rocket Landing CrashSpaceX's daring reusable-rocket test last week came up just short because of an issue with a "throttle valve," company founder and CEO Elon Musk said. The private spaceflight company tried to bring the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket down for a soft landing on an unmanned "drone ship" in the Atlantic Ocean on April 14, during the successful launch of its robotic Dragon capsule toward the International Space Station on a cargo mission for NASA. SpaceX engineers have figured out what happened, Elon Musk said. "While the rocket does look rather tall & tippy, a stable landing is no problem with proper throttle response," Musk added in another tweet, linking to a 2014 SpaceX video showing the company's prototype Falcon 9 Reusable rocket acing a soft touchdown during a test in Texas.

Posted on 25 April 2015 | 8:14 am

Hubble at 25: Space Telescope's Views Have Changed How We See Earth

Hubble at 25: Space Telescope's Views Have Changed How We See EarthThe Hubble Space Telescope, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in space, has become known for capturing stunning and unprecedented views of the cosmos. Because the telescope can gaze across the solar system and beyond, to alien planets far more distant, Hubble has helped scientists understand how the Earth formed, and has even provided clues about how life came to be, said Frank Summers, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope.

Posted on 25 April 2015 | 7:55 am

Human Embryo Editing Is Incredibly Risky, Experts Say

With the news that Chinese scientists have attempted to modify the genes of human embryos, many scientists have called for a halt to such technology, saying the techniques are too risky to use in human embryos. In a study published Saturday (April 18) in the journal Protein & Cell, Chinese scientists reported that they had used a genetic engineering technique called CRISPR to cut out a faulty gene and replace it with a healthy one in human embryos. "This paper is a complete confirmation of the issues that were raised about the readiness of the CRISPR platform to be applied in therapeutic genome editing," said Edward Lanphier, president and CEO of Sangamo BioSciences, a company that works on genome editing in adult cells but not embryonic cells. Lanphier, along with other scientists, published a commentary in March in the journal Nature, calling for a moratorium on such research.

Posted on 25 April 2015 | 7:20 am

Giant Easter Island 'Hats' Rolled Into Place, Study Says

The distinctive headgear worn by some of the famous Easter Island statues may have been rolled up ramps to reach those high perches, a new study suggests. A simple analysis of the physics suggests that rolling the headwear — bulky cylindrical shapes that look like Russian fur hats — would have been a relatively easy matter, said study co-author Sean Hixon, an undergraduate student in archaeology and geology at the University of Oregon, who presented his findings here on April 16 at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archeology. Since Europeans arrived at the location in the 1700s, people have wondered how the residents of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, off the coast of Chile, raised their majestic statues. Others have argued that the native islanders chopped down the island's forests to roll the stone behemoths across the landscape, leading to environmental devastation and the collapse of the Easter Island civilization.

Posted on 24 April 2015 | 4:06 pm

Hunt for ancient royal tomb in Mexico takes mercurial twist

Handout file photo shows tunnel underneath the Quetzalcoatl temple in the ancient city of TeotihuacanBy David Alire Garcia TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico (Reuters) - A Mexican archeologist hunting for a royal tomb in a deep, dark tunnel beneath a towering pre-Aztec pyramid has made a discovery that may have brought him a step closer: liquid mercury. In the bowels of Teotihuacan, a mysterious ancient city that was once the largest in the Americas, Sergio Gomez this month found "large quantities" of the silvery metal in a chamber at the end of a sacred tunnel sealed for nearly 1,800 years. "It's something that completely surprised us," Gomez said at the entrance to the tunnel below Teotihuacan's Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent, about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City. Some archeologists believe the toxic element could herald what would be the first ruler's tomb ever found in Teotihuacan, a contemporary of several ancient Maya cities, but so shrouded in mystery that its inhabitants still have no name.

Posted on 24 April 2015 | 1:27 pm

F1 technology moves into the supermarket fridge

Formula One's cutting-edge aerodynamic technology is moving into the supermarket chill cabinet. Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Formula One team, said on Friday they had partnered with start-up Aerofoil Energy to develop a device that will save money and energy by keeping more cold air inside open-fronted refrigerators. Williams said their aerofoil system, modeled with computation fluid dynamics and tested at their F1 factory in central England, can be attached onto each shelf to redirect the air flow. Sainsbury's, Britain's second largest supermarket chain with 1,100 stores, is among retailers testing the product.

Posted on 24 April 2015 | 7:40 am

Hot times at Yellowstone: huge magma chamber found deeply buried

Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic hot spring is pictured in this handout photoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deep beneath Yellowstone National Park, one of the world's most dynamic volcanic systems, lies an enormous, previously unknown reservoir of hot, partly molten rock big enough to fill up the Grand Canyon 11 times, scientists say. Researchers on Thursday said they used a technique called seismic tomography to a produce for the first time a complete picture of the volcanic "plumbing system" at Yellowstone, from the Earth's mantle up to the surface. Scientists already knew of a large magma chamber under Yellowstone that fed the eruptions 2 million, 1.2 million and 640,000 years ago. "The existence of the second magma chamber does not make it any more or less likely that a large volcanic eruption at Yellowstone will occur.

Posted on 24 April 2015 | 7:23 am