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Americans Are Eating Healthier, Study Finds

Americans are eating a modestly healthier diet now than they were a decade ago, but the gap in diet quality between the rich and the poor has widened, a new study finds. In an opinion article published with the new findings, Dr. Takehiro Sugiyama, of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and Dr. Martin F. Shapiro, of the University of California, Los Angeles, proposed solutions that they said could help reduce the diet quality gap between the rich and the poor.

Posted on 1 September 2014 | 5:18 pm

Labor Day in Space: A Weightless Holiday for US Astronauts

Labor Day in Space: A Weightless Holiday for US AstronautsRight now, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson commands the International Space Station with fellow American Reid Wiseman serving as a flight engineer. The pair forms one-third of the space station's six-man Expedition 40 crew, with three Russian cosmonauts and European Space Agency astronaut rounding out the crew. "The entire six-man crew of Expedition 40 will have an off-duty day with only their exercise and one or two maintenance activities scheduled," NASA spokesman Daniel Huot told Space.com in an email. Swanson and Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev from the Russian Space Agency are due to return to Earth on Sept. 10, while Wiseman, Maxim Suraev from the Russian Space Agency and Alexander Gerst from ESA will remain in orbit until November.


Posted on 1 September 2014 | 9:16 am

Iceland Volcano Blasts Back to Life

Iceland Volcano Blasts Back to LifeThe crack feeding the lava flow has also expanded to the north and south, and is now almost 1 mile (1.5 km) long. The volcanic activity kicked off Aug. 16, when thousands of small earthquakes underneath the Bardarbunga volcano signaled fresh magma (molten rock) was burrowing underground. On Aug. 29, the dike punched through to the surface in the Holuhraun lava field, an older lava flow that erupted in 1797. Askja volcano is located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Bardarbunga.


Posted on 31 August 2014 | 3:35 pm

Ebola Outbreak: Do Hazmat Suits Protect Workers, or Just Scare Everyone?

Ebola-preventing Exercise Gets Held In ZhangjiajieFor health care workers and researchers, wearing pressurized, full-body suits around Ebola patients may be counterproductive to treating the disease, say three Spanish researchers in a new letter published in the journal The Lancet. Health agencies often require that health care workers caring for Ebola patients wear hazardous material (hazmat) suits that protect against airborne diseases. Ebola is transmitted through contact with infected patients’ secretions (such as blood, vomit or feces), and such contact can be prevented by wearing gloves and masks, the researchers wrote. It may also send the message that such protection against the virus is being preferentially given to health care workers and is out of reach to the general public, they wrote in their article.


Posted on 30 August 2014 | 4:26 pm

Labor Day Weekend Stargazing: See Moon, Mars and Saturn Meet Up

Labor Day Weekend Stargazing: See Moon, Mars and Saturn Meet UpThe yellowish-white object to the moon's right is the planet Saturn, while the one below and slightly to the moon's left is Mars. In April, Mars was 57.6 million miles (92.7 million kilometers) away from Earth, the Red Planet's closest pass with Earth for the year.


Posted on 30 August 2014 | 10:36 am

Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks

By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California's Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the study, saw the rare phenomenon first-hand last December while standing with his cousin, engineer James Norris, at the spot.

Posted on 28 August 2014 | 8:52 pm

Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone Began at a Funeral

Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone Began at a FuneralAn extensive look at the genome of the Ebola virus reveals its behavior, when it arrived in West Africa and how it spread in the region to cause the largest-ever recorded Ebola outbreak. Researchers sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes from 78 patients in Sierra Leone, one of the countries affected by the outbreak that started in the neighboring Guinea, and found that the virus' genome changes quickly, including parts of the genome that are crucial for diagnostic tests to work. "We've uncovered more than 300 genetic clues about what sets this outbreak apart from previous outbreaks," co-author Stephen Gire of Harvard said in a statement. The researchers studied the viruses isolated from the blood of these patients, as well as subsequent Ebola patients, to identify the genetic characteristics of the Ebola virus responsible for this outbreak.


Posted on 28 August 2014 | 8:36 pm

Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks

Handout shows a trail left by a rock implanted with a motion-activated GPS unit in the so-called Racetrack Playa of California's Death ValleyBy Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California's Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the study, saw the rare phenomenon first-hand last December while standing with his cousin, engineer James Norris, at the spot.


Posted on 28 August 2014 | 7:52 pm

'Jeopardy!'-Winning Computer Now Crunching Data for Science

'Jeopardy!'-Winning Computer Now Crunching Data for ScienceWatch out, Sherlock, there's a new Dr. Watson in town. IBM's Watson, the computer that famously won the quiz show 'Jeopardy!', is now helping researchers make scientific discoveries. The new system, known as the Watson Discovery Advisor, could accelerate the scientific process by sifting through massive amounts of information and visualizing patterns in the data. But unlike when Watson was on 'Jeopardy!,' its new role as Discovery Advisor is "not about getting to an answer, but [rather] gaining insight into a large body of information," Merkel told Live Science.


Posted on 28 August 2014 | 7:23 pm

Brutal Winter? Almanac Could Be Wrong, Scientists Say

The United States is in for another long, cold winter, according to the newest edition of the Farmers' Almanac. This winter will see "below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation," the Almanac reads. But the predictions included in the Farmers' Almanac are just that: predictions. While NOAA's official three-month outlook for the coming winter months isn't due out until around mid-October, Artusa said that meteorologists are not seeing the climate conditions that would indicate what the Almanac refers to as a "record breaking winter."

Posted on 28 August 2014 | 10:57 am