'Star Wars' Fans Feel the Force at New Jersey's Liberty Science Center

'Star Wars' Fans Feel the Force at New Jersey's Liberty Science Center"Star Wars" remixes and tribute songs filled the air as crowds of dressed-up fans and their parents (and children) packed into the learning center in New Jersey Friday to kick off "Science, Sabers and Star Wars," a celebration of the movies' world. Once there, they can train to be a Jedi, design a droid, blast rockets at the Death Star, meet R2-D2, and even see arcs of electricity pulsate to the beat in a "Star Wars"-themed Tesla Coil show — all activities aimed at teaching a bit of science with the movies' help. "We're able to marry something people like anyway — and, of course, that's their enthusiasm for 'Star Wars' — with actually going a bit into the science behind it," Paul Hoffman, Liberty Science Center president and CEO, told Space.com.

Posted on 13 February 2016 | 9:37 am

Gravitational Waves: What Their Discovery Means for Science and Humanity

Gravitational Waves: What Their Discovery Means for Science and HumanityPeople around the world cheered yesterday morning (Feb. 11) when scientists announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space-time whose existence was first proposed by Albert Einstein, in 1916. The waves came from two black holes circling each other, closer and closer, until they finally collided. The recently upgraded Large Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) captured the signal on Sept. 14, 2015.

Posted on 13 February 2016 | 9:35 am

App shakes up earthquake science by turning users into sensors

By Sebastien Malo NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Smartphones could become the makeshift quake detectors of the future, thanks to a new app launched Friday designed to track tremors and potentially save the lives of its users. Its inventors say the app, released by the University of California, Berkeley, could give early warning of a quake to populations without their own seismological instruments. "MyShake cannot replace traditional seismic networks like those run by the U.S. Geological Survey," said Richard Allen, leader of the app project and director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

Posted on 12 February 2016 | 8:29 pm

Defeating Zika: The Big Questions Researchers Are Trying to Answer

Defeating Zika: The Big Questions Researchers Are Trying to AnswerAt least a dozen research groups are now working on developing a Zika virus vaccine, according the World Health Organization (WHO). More-immediate questions will need to be addressed in order for scientists and health officials to diagnose and contain the virus in the meantime, and to determine whether Zika is linked to microcephaly — a disorder in which babies are born with smaller-than-average heads — and Guillaine-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder. Live Science has rounded up some of the biggest questions about this mysterious virus, and talked to experts to get the low-down on the latest science that might provide answers.

Posted on 12 February 2016 | 11:42 am

Low B12 Seen in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia

The brains of the elderly and younger people with autism and schizophrenia may share a common link: Both have low levels of vitamin B12, researchers say. The facts that blood levels of B12 do not always mirror brain levels of the vitamin, and that brain levels decrease more over the years than blood levels, may imply that various types of neurological diseases — such as old-age dementia and the disorders of autism and schizophrenia — could be related to poor uptake of vitamin B12 from the blood into the brain, the scientists said.

Posted on 12 February 2016 | 11:41 am

High Numbers: Are More People Really Smoking Pot?

Marijuana use may not be rising as quickly as thought — more people may simply be willing to admit to it, new research suggests. The widespread relaxation of marijuana laws in the U.S. may have reduced the stigma of smoking pot, the researchers reported today (Feb. 10) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The new study comes on the heels of an October 2015 study, in which researchers said they found that marijuana use had more than doubled in the U.S. over the decade between 2003 and 2013, and that the percentage of people who have a "marijuana use disorder" had also skyrocketed.

Posted on 12 February 2016 | 11:41 am

Neanderthal-Human Trysts May Be Linked to Modern Depression, Heart Disease

Ancient trysts between Neanderthals and modern humans may have influenced modern risks for depression, heart attacks, nicotine addiction, obesity and other health problems, researchers said. The Neanderthals were once the closest relatives of modern humans. "This raises several fascinating questions like, 'What effect does the Neanderthal DNA that remains in modern humans have on our biology?'" said study senior author John Capra, an evolutionary geneticist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Posted on 12 February 2016 | 8:31 am

Scientists stop calling out to comet lander as hope fades

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2014 file photo a model of Rosetta lander Philae stands on a model of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, at the European Space Agency ESA in Darmstadt, Germany. European scientists said Friday Feb. 12, 2016 they have stopped sending commands to the Philae space probe, which became the first to touch down on a comet more than a year ago. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)BERLIN (AP) — European scientists said Friday that they have stopped sending commands to the Philae space probe, which became the first to touch down on a comet more than a year ago.

Posted on 12 February 2016 | 6:14 am

Scientists bid comet lander Philae farewell after radio silence

Accomazzo SOM of ESOC reacts after successful landing of Philae lander on comet 67P/ Churyumov-GerasimenkoBy Maria Sheahan FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European scientists have given up hope of restoring contact with space probe Philae, which successfully landed on a comet in a pinpoint operation only to lose power because its solar-driven batteries were in the shade. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) said on Friday it suspects Philae is now covered in dust and too cold to operate. "Unfortunately, the probability of Philae re-establishing contact with our team at the DLR Lander Control Center is almost zero, and we will no longer be sending any commands," Stephan Ulamec, Philae Project Manager of the DLR, said in a statement.

Posted on 12 February 2016 | 5:22 am

Einstein's right again: Scientists detect ripples in gravity

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was just a tiny, almost imperceptible "chirp," but it simultaneously opened humanity's ears to the music of the cosmos and proved Einstein right again.

Posted on 11 February 2016 | 7:07 pm