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Daily Bulletin for 05/16/2017


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05/16/2017
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Dinosaur Asteroid Hit the Worst Possible Place

BBC News

Scientists who drilled into the impact crater associated with the demise of the dinosaurs summarise their findings so far in a BBC Two documentary on Monday.The researchers recovered rocks from under the Gulf of Mexico that were hit by an asteroid 66 million years ago.

How to Build a Lunar Gas Station

Gary Li, The Conversation

Forty-five years have passed since humans last set foot on an extraterrestrial body. Now, the moon is back at the center of efforts not only to explore space, but to create a permanent, independent space-faring society.Planning expeditions to Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor is no longer just a NASA effort, though the U.S. space agency has plans for a moon-orbiting space station that would serve as a staging ground for Mars missions in the early 2030s.

Physicists Sketch Plans for New Tractor Beam

Robyn Arianrhod, Cosmos

A team of physicists have outlined a means of making tractor beams to push and pull objects at a distance using matter waves, those strange analogues of light waves that underlie quantum mechanics.Tractor beams, staple tools of science fiction for remotely pulling in space shuttles and yanking away incoming space debris, have been edging into reality in recent years.

Naked Singularity Might Evade Cosmic Sensor

Emily Conover, ScienceNews

Certain stealthy spacetime curiosities might be less hidden than thought, potentially exposing themselves to observers in some curved universes.These oddities, known as singularities, are points in space where the standard laws of physics break down. Found at the centers of black holes, singularities are generally expected to be hidden from view, shielding the universe from their problematic properties.

Is the FDA Embracing Quackery?

David Gorski, Science-Based Medicine

Last week, I wrote about acupuncture last week, specifically how acupuncturists are unhappy that the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides guidelines for recommended treatments for diseases and conditions, does not recommend acupuncture for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis but does recommend arthroscopic washouts and debridement, for which the evidence is weak.

Can Prairie Dogs Talk?

Ferris Jabr, New York Times Magazine

Con Slobodchikoff and I approached the mountain meadow slowly, obliquely, softening our footfalls and conversing in whispers. It didn’t make much difference. Once we were within 50 feet of the clearing’s edge, the alarm sounded: short, shrill notes in rapid sequence, like rounds of sonic bullets.

Solar and Batteries Double Cost of Electricity

Science 2.0

Solar power is all the rage, at least for government officials who don’t understand physics but do spend a lot of time with environmental (and solar panel) lobbyists.Even in a small country like Belgium, solar can’t even meet half of energy needs. In order for it to meet energy needs would require batteries, and that means doubling the cost for the public. If it were implemented in a large country like America, the cost would be astronomical, and that’s without adding new transmission lines equivalent to every paved road in the U.S.

Earth’s Giant Internal ‘Lava Lamp’ May Flip Poles

Paula Koelemeijer, LS

If you could travel back in time 41,000 years to the last ice age, your compass would point south instead of north. That’s because for a period of a few hundred years, the Earth’s magnetic field was reversed. These reversals have happpened repeatedly over the planet’s history, sometimes lasting hundreds of thousands of years. We know this from the way it affects the formation of magnetic minerals, that we can now study on the Earth’s surface.

Alarmist CO2 Headlines Create Confusion

Tom Yulsman, Discover

Back in late April, there was a spate of hyperventilating headlines and news reports about the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.This one in particular, from Think Progress, should have made its author so light-headed that she passed out…

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Still Doesn’t Exist

Ross Pomeroy, RCScience

Three years ago, I reported on a relatively unheralded nutrition study. Although the research had been missed or passed over by the mainstream press, I had a feeling this study would attract widespread attention. Unlike most other nutrition studies, this one was exceedingly rigorous. Moreover, its findings ran counter to prevailing wisdom and market trends.

The Glitch That Nearly Killed Curiosity

Mike Wall, Space.com

The Mars rover Curiosity’s groundbreaking mission came within an hour of ending just six months after touchdown, according to a report that aired last night (May 14) on the TV news show “60 Minutes.” In February 2013, a memory problem with Curiosity’s main computer, also known as the pilot, forced mission team members to switch to the identical backup computer, or co-pilot. The swap worked, and the car-size robot resumed full science operations a few weeks later.

Who Was the First Cassini to Explore Saturn?

Tom Siegfried, Science News

As the Cassini spacecraft plunges toward its death on Saturn, the world’s knowledge of the famous ringed planet continues to accumulate. Thanks to years of observations by the versatile probe, astronomers now know Saturn as intimately as macaroni knows cheese. But still hardly anyone outside the world of astronomy knows anything about Cassini and I don’t mean the spacecraft, but the guy it was named for.Gian Domenico Cassini was an Italian astronomer, born in Perinaldo in 1625, around the time that Galileo was battling the church over Copernicus’ revelation that the Earth orbits the sun….

Ebola Vaccine Could Be Tested in New Outbreak

Amy Maxmen, Nature

An outbreak of the Ebola virus has emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on 12 May. Congolese authorities have reported nine suspected cases of Ebola infection in the past three weeks; the WHO has confirmed one, and tests are pending on others. Now health officials are considering whether to deploy an experimental Ebola vaccine against the outbreak, for the first time since the WHO gave it preliminary approval in April.The aid group Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders) is discussing a potential…

WHO Candidate Accused of Epidemic Coverups

Donald McNeil, Jr., NYT

A leading candidate to head the World Health Organization was accused this week of covering up three cholera epidemics in his home country, Ethiopia, when he was health minister a charge that could seriously undermine his campaign to run the agency.The accusation against Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was made by a prominent global health expert who is also an informal adviser to Dr. David Nabarro, a rival candidate in the race for W.H.O. director general.

New Tools in the Search for Dark Matter

Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica

Countless experiments around the world are hoping to reap scientific glory for the first detection of dark matter particles. Usually, they do this by watching for dark matter to bump into normal matter or by slamming particles into other particles and hoping for some dark stuff to pop out. But what if the dark matter behaves more like a wave?That’s the intriguing possibility championed by Asimina Arvanitaki, a theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, where she holds the Aristarchus Chair in Theoretical Physicsthe first woman to hold a research chair at…

Probing Quantum Mechanics in Large Scale

Stephen Skolnick, Physics Central

Quantum mechanics, it seems, is where physics breaks from making intuitive sense. In the realm of the infinitesimal, particles can be in two places at once, or display the “spooky” properties of entanglement. But it might not have to be that waya few months ago, the good folks over at Veritasium put out a fantastic video drawing attention to an amazing phenomenon that was only recently discovered: a macroscopic, intuitively friendly system that behaves almost exactly like a quantum-mechanical one. Now, scientists are building on this work, discovering new properties of this system and…

You Shouldn’t Tell People About Your Dreams

Jim Davies, Sci American

I had a friend who tried hard to remember more of her dreams. She’d write them down and then tell people about them. She stopped, though, because it started interfering with her social life. She’d start talking about her dreams and people would leave the room.

Bret Stephens Is Right About Progressives and Science

Rafael Salazar, RCSci

When Bret Stephens, former columnist at the Wall Street Journal before joining the New York Times, wrote his inaugural column on April 28th, he broke the Internet. His argument that global warming and the human influence on it are real and undisputable, but that many other facets of the climate change debate are a matter of probabilities, did not sit well with opposing pundits. Challenging the accepted orthodoxy on climate change, it seems, is verboten.

Wandering Moons Could Become Habitable

D. Schulze-Makuch, Air & Space

In a recent paper, Owen Lehmer of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues examined what would happen if a large, icy moon wandered out of its orbit around a giant gas planet to end up in the inner region of its solar system.

A New Theory for the Female Orgasm

Leah Fessler, Quartz

In his new book, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal WorldAnd Us, Prum, an evolutionary ornithologist at Yale, challenges the dominant narrative among evolutionary biologists: that beauty and sexual ornaments, such as a peacock’s plumage, a deer’s antlers, or the size of a man’s penis, evolve for adaptive reasons.

Why a Human Head Transplant Won’t Happen Soon

Neuroskeptic, Discover

Will the first human head transplant happen soon? According to Sergio Canavero, it will and he’ll be the man to do it.In 2015, Canavero announced his intention to carry out the pioneering operation, with the head being that of a Russian man, Valery Spiridonov, who has a muscle degenerative disease. The source of the donor body was never specified. More recently, Canavero has said that a Chinese patient will be the first to have their head transplanted.

Ancient Burial Chamber Uncovered in Egypt

Eli Rosenberg, New York Times

Archaeological workers in Egypt unearthed an ancient human burial site with at least 17 intact mummies near the Nile Valley city of Minya, according to news agency reports.

Teaching Robots Right From Wrong

Simon Parkin, 1843

More than 400 years ago, according to legend, a rabbi knelt by the banks of the Vltava river in what is now known as the Czech Republic. He pulled handfuls of clay out of the water and carefully patted them into the shape of a man. The Jews of Prague, falsely accused of using the blood of Christians in their rituals, were under attack. The rabbi, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, decided that his community needed a protector stronger than any human. He inscribed the Hebrew word for truth, emet, onto his creation’s forehead and placed a capsule inscribed with a Kabbalistic formula into its mouth….

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