Satellite launch to test Einstein's idea on space and time delayed

A European satellite launch to find ripples in space that can be caused by merging black holes has been delayed due to a technical problem with its Vega rocket, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Tuesday. The European-built spacecraft, known as LISA Pathfinder, was due to be launched from French Guiana at 0415 GMT on Wednesday. Such delays due to technical issues or poor weather are not unusual.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 12:47 pm

The Science Behind the Power of Giving (Op-Ed)

The Science Behind the Power of Giving (Op-Ed)Jenny Santi is a philanthropy advisor to some of the world's most generous philanthropists and celebrity activists, and was the head of philanthropy services (Southeast Asia) for the world's largest wealth manager. A Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, Santi is a frequent commentator on the topic and has been quoted in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, on Channel NewsAsia, and on BBC World News. The morning of Dec. 26, 2004, Czech model Petra Nemcova, then age 25, and her fiancé, photographer Simon Atlee, 33, were vacationing in the resort town of Khao Lak, Thailand.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 11:53 am

Scientists debate boundaries, ethics of human gene editing

In this photo provided by UC Berkeley Public Affairs, taken June 20, 2014, Jennifer Doudna, right, and her lab manager, Kai Hong, work in her laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. Designer babies or an end to intractable illnesses: A revolutionary technology is letting scientists learn to rewrite the genetic code, aiming to alter DNA in ways that, among other things, could erase disease-causing genes. How far should these experiments try to go _ fix only the sick, or make changes that future generations could inherit? (Cailey Cotner/UC Berkeley via AP)WASHINGTON (AP) — Alternating the promise of cures for intractable diseases with anxiety about designer babies and eugenics, hundreds of scientists and ethicists from around the world began debating the boundaries of a revolutionary technology to edit the human genetic code.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 11:47 am

Your Brain Is a Mosaic of Male and Female

There is no such thing as a "male brain" or a "female brain," new research finds. Instead, men and women's brains are an unpredictable mishmash of malelike and femalelike features, the study concludes. "Our study demonstrates that although there are sex/gender differences in brain structure, brains do not fall into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females, nor are they aligned along a 'male brain–female brain' continuum," the study researchers wrote today (Nov. 30) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 10:41 am

'Last-Resort' Antibiotics Fail Against New Superbugs

'Last-Resort' Antibiotics Fail Against New SuperbugsSome bacteria have finally breached the last wall of humans' antibiotic stronghold, according to a new study from China. In the study, researchers found a gene in one strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that protects these bacteria against one of the antibiotics considered to be a last resort. The results are "extremely worrying," study author Jian-Hua Liu, a professor at South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, said in a statement.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 10:04 am

New from the biotech store: an improved gene editing tool

Scientists have developed an improved gene editing tool that significantly reduces potentially dangerous "off-target" edits, promising an even more precise and efficient system for manipulating human DNA. Tuesday's news that U.S. researchers have re-engineered the so-called CRISPR-Cas9 system to slash editing errors comes as experts meet in Washington for a three-day summit to discuss the ethical and policy issues surrounding the field.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 9:44 am

European satellite to test method to find ripples in space, time

The sun is about to come up over the South Pacific Ocean as seen from the International Space StationFrom a vantage point 93 million miles (1.5 million km) from Earth, the European-built spacecraft, known as LISA Pathfinder, is expected to break ground in the search for the ripples, known as gravitational waves, caused by fast-moving, massive celestial objects such as merging black holes. Black holes are so dense with matter that not even photons of light can escape the powerful gravitational effects. God knows what we will learn," said European Space Agency deputy mission scientist Oliver Jennrich.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 9:39 am

Cobwebs Hold Genetic Secrets About Spiders and Their Prey

Cobwebs Hold Genetic Secrets About Spiders and Their PreyYou may want to think twice before vacuuming up any pesky cobwebs you find around your home — these messy spider lairs may contain valuable information (valuable to scientists, that is). Knowing exactly which species of spider built a web in a certain area, as well as knowing what that spider feasted on, is important information for researchers in a variety of fields — from conservation ecology to pest management, said study lead author Charles C.Y. Xu, a graduate student in the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme (MEME) in evolutionary biology, a joint program hosted by four European universities and Harvard University in the United States. "There's a variety of different methods to study [spiders]," Xu told Live Science.

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 3:02 pm

Hypersonic rocket engine could revolutionize space flight

By Matthew Stock Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines are developing a new aerospace engine class that combines both jet and rocket technologies. The company recently announced a strategic investment from BAE Systems of 20.6 million pounds ($31.4 million USD), in addition to a grant funding of 60 million pounds ($.4 million USD) from the British government, to accelerate the development of their unique SABRE engine. SABRE, which stands for Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine, is designed to enable aircraft to operate from a standstill on the runway to hypersonic flight in the atmosphere, and then transition to rocket mode for spaceflight.

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 10:20 am

Japanese scientists create touchable holograms

A group of Japanese scientists have created touchable holograms, three dimensional virtual objects that can be manipulated by human hand. Using femtosecond laser technology the researchers developed 'Fairy Lights, a system that can fire high frequency laser pulses that last one millionth of one billionth of a second. The pulses respond to human touch, so that - when interrupted - the hologram's pixels can be manipulated in mid-air.

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 7:07 am