As part of Donald Trump's cabinet pick, Myron Ebell, who is a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a prominent climate change skeptic, will lead the Environmental Protection Agency's administration.
While Ebell has had no formal scientific education, and makes no claim to be a scientist, his view is that if public decisions are to be made according to scientific findings, than they should be discussed democratically by all people, not just scientists. Unfortunately, in the realms of science, public opinion doesn't matter much unless you're discussing the ethics of a scientific matter.
Appointing Ebell doesn't mean the environment is under threat, as suggested by the disenfranchised, New York Times. The discussion on global w [ ... ]
The world’s longest glass-bottomed bridge in China's Hunan Province, which opened just over two weeks ago has been closed to the public. The Brave Men’s Bridge is 984 feet long, and spans a 590-foot deep crevasse. People attempting to make the terrifying walk across resorted to closing their eyes, crawling, and holding on to the rope guide for dear life.
According to officials, the bridge is attracting too many tourist, deeming it unsafe. The glass floor is made up of a 24 millimeter (approximately one inch) thick glass, and there’s nothing but air below.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just awarded Virginal Galactic their first operating license, allowing them to start using their SpaceShipTwo craft for commercial use - as soon as certain guidelines are met. This means that the company - owned by billionaire Richard Branson - will soon be able to shuttle paying passengers into space.
Other than making the flights legal, the license dictates the conditions required before Virgin Galactic can actually let any passengers on board SpaceShipTwo, which will be carried by White Knight Two (below) roughly 99 kilometres (62 miles) into the sky.
Once everything is squared away with the FAA, SpaceShipTwo - a spacecraft designed to hold two pilots and six passengers - will hitch a ride w [ ... ]
Stan Larkin (pictured on the right), who's now 25, was diagnosed with familial cardiomyopathy. This form of disease results in the heart having difficulty pumping enough blood through the body. Faced with a lack of compatible heart donors, Stan underwent an operation in 2014 to remove his failing heart and replace it with an external total artificial heart, dubbed the Freedom portable driver.
This battery-powered device uses compressed air to pump blood around the body in the same way a heart does, and as the name suggests, it is portable and only weighs 6 kilograms (13 pounds). The device does an incredible job at keeping the patient in a healthy condition while a donor heart becomes available, but it isn’t considered a long-term option. [ ... ]
Back in January, I reported that the periodic table would be getting an update because four new elements were discovered - finally, the new names have been penciled in. Nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson will grace the blocks assigned to atomic numbers 113, 115, 117, and 118, said the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) today.
Nihonium, discovered by a Japanese team, means “the land of the rising sun,” while moscovium and tennessine are named after places near the labs where they were discovered (Moscow and Tennessee, of course). And oganesson recognizes the work of Russian chemist Yuri Oganessian. By tradition, the right to suggest a name for an element is granted to its discoverer, although IUPAC has [ ... ]
Mary Ann Franco, now 70 years old, lost here eyesight in 1995 when a car accident damaged her spine. More than two decades after the initial injury, she fell in her home and injured her neck, sending her to the hospital once again to seek treatment for pain in her arm and back. After doctors decided to perform surgery on her back to alleviate her pain, they happened to cure her blindness. It is suspected that her first injury caused a lack of blood flow to the brain that controls eyesight, and this operation restored it. Interestingly, Franco has been colour blind since birth, but the operation seems to have fixed that problem, too.
The spinal cords running down our spines carry a bundle of nerve tissue and other cells from the base of the b [ ... ]
Infant swaddling, an old practice that has recently gained popularity in the United States, may be linked to increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A new review of 760 SIDS cases in the journal Pediatrics found that infants who were swaddled - wrapped in light cloth with only the head exposed - were about a third more likely to die from SIDS. The risk was higher among infants sleeping on their stomachs or sides, positions already known to be more dangerous for sleeping babies. SIDS risk among swaddled infants was also higher for children older than 6 months, suggesting that swaddling should be stopped when babies are able to start rolling over. The researchers cautioned that these results should be taken with a grain of salt [ ... ]
This week in Science, researchers led by genome sequencing pioneer Craig Venter report engineering a bacterium to have the smallest genome - and the fewest genes - of any freely living organism. Known as Syn 3.0, the new organism has a genome whittled down to the bare essentials needed to survive and reproduce, just 473 genes. However, the function of 149 of Syn 3.0's 473 genes remain unknown.
As Syn 3.0's name suggests, it’s not the first synthetic life made by Venter. In 2010, Venter's team reported that they had synthesized the sole chromosome of Mycoplasma mycoides - a bacterium with a relatively small genome - and transplanted it into a separate mycoplasma called M. capricolum, from which they had previously extracted the DNA. After s [ ... ]
According to a new study published in Cell Metabolism, mice who spent their free time on a running wheel were better able to shrink tumors (a 50 percent reduction in tumor size) compared to their less active counterparts. Researchers found that the surge of adrenaline ( epinephrine) that comes with a high-intensity workout helped to move cancer-killing immune (NK) cells toward lung, liver, or skin tumors implanted into the mice.
While the research is hopeful for patients looking for inexpensive ways to manage their cancer, more needs to be learned about the effects of exercise on metastasis and longevity, as well as if the observations hold true in humans. Scientists also wants to explore the combined impact of anti-cancer treatments and ex [ ... ]
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft completed the first of three final flybys of Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus. On October 14, Cassini passed within 1838 kilometers (1142 miles) of Enceladus, providing unprecedented views of the moon’s north polar region. What's more, researchers predict that is contains a global ocean lying beneath its icy crust. Researchers found the magnitude of the moon's very slight wobble, as it orbits Saturn, can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior, meaning a global ocean must be present.
Scientists have discovered evidence that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice, but rather is rooted in a person’s biology. While specific genes have not been found, a male twin study reveals that homosexuality may be caused by chemical modifications that alter gene activity. As the fetus develops, certain genes get turned on or off depending the chemicals the fetus is exposed to. These chemicals don't necessarily have to be chemicals ingested or inhaled by the mother, but could be an imbalance in a hormone, such as testosterone. As adults, genes can also activate and deactivated based on our environment. More research is needed, but scientists stress that these findings shouldn’t be used to produce tests for homosexuality or a misguid [ ... ]
Since its discovery in 2010, researchers have been trying to solve the mystery of dark streaks that appear and disappear seasonally on the planet's surface (shown above). Scientists are now claiming that this phenomenon, known as the recurring slope lineae, is caused by a bath of saltwater. What is still unknown, however, is where the water is coming from, or if the chemistry is even right for supporting life.
These tropical arachnids known as selenopid spiders (pictured above) possess the rare ability to steer themselves in the air and jump between trees - an unexpected talent for spiders, which have no history of flight.
Researchers theorize that this behavior may have evolved because tree trunks are a far better place for a tree-dwelling spider than the forest floor, an unfamiliar territory crawling with creatures looking for a meal. [ ... ]
According to a new report published out of the UK, E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes. When supported by a smoking cessation service, they help most smokers to quit tobacco altogether. They have also concluded that there is "no evidence" that they offer young people a gateway into smoking.
In fact, the review suggests that e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates in the U.K., as 2.6 million adults are now thought to be using the product. They also found that almost all of these adults are ex-smokers, providing evidence that many people are not starting to use the devices after having never smoked in the first place, and instead are using them to either quit or cut down on tobacco. [ ... ]