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How scientists redesign DNA codes Click Here to Open in a New Window

How scientists redesign DNA codesScientists are redesigning the genetic code of yeast, aiming to produce strains that operate on custom-made DNA



Transgender Military Ban: 5 Facts That Rebut Trump’s Claims Click Here to Open in a New Window

Transgender Military Ban: 5 Facts That Rebut Trump’s ClaimsPresident Donald Trump said today (July 26) that transgender individuals could not serve in the military. "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow … transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump tweeted. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," he continued in another tweet.



'Pharma Bro' won't stop talking, except to jury in trial Click Here to Open in a New Window

'Pharma Bro' won't stop talking, except to jury in trialNEW YORK (AP) — "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli has kept up his trademark trolling on social media during his securities fraud trial — calling the case "bogus" — but the jury won't hear him defend himself in court.



Nasa plans to build a new plane that could halve flight times Click Here to Open in a New Window

Nasa plans to build a new plane that could halve flight timesFor all its reputation as a miracle of motion at the forefront of all things travel, supersonic aviation is both mired in the past and weighed down by a future laden with question marks. Not since Concorde was removed from service in October 2003 has a commercial airliner flown at beyond the speed of sound. And with the retirement of the great Anglo-French jet, the concept of soaring through the air at faster than 761mph has increasingly become a fragment of yesteryear - a ghost of some golden age that is deemed unlikely to return. Part of the issue with supersonic flying is just how noisy it is. Famously, a plane breaking the sound barrier provokes a "sonic boom" - a cacophonous whip-crack which, if it erupts close enough to the ground, can cause windows to break and complaints to be issued. Concorde was enough of a noise monster that its presence in America was largely unwelcome. secrets of air travel Contrary to perception - and in spite of the popular consensus that the plane was generally a success in its 27 years of active service - supersonic flight over the US is banned, and has been since 1973. British Airways and Air France had to receive special dispensation to fly their baby to Washington DC and New York - and could go no further. Concorde was retired in 2003 Credit: © 2005 Robert Evans/Robert Evans But reports suggest that one of America's biggest pioneers in aviation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), is taking tentative steps towards a second generation of supersonic airliners. According toBloomberg, Nasa may begin work on a fresh supersonic prototype model as early as next month, and is likely to collaborate with manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics - as well as relevant industry innovators like Aerion and Boom Technology - to bring theory into reality. Central to the blueprint will be a plane with a modified shape - subtler, sleeker, and therefore of less impact on the air around it. In theory, this would mean that it could break the sound barrier less brusquely, and at a lesser volume, than its celebrated predecessor. Nasa researchers are quietly confident that tests on their model, conducted in a wind tunnel in June, demonstrate that such an aircraft could cut current standard flight times in half - meaning that the average seven hour duration of a hop between London and New York could be slashed to less than four hours. At a glance | Flight times if Nasa's plane is made reality This radical time difference, along with the lower noise levels, could mean a loosening, or even an abandonment, of the US's strict rules on supersonic aviation in its airspace, and make the whole ultra-fast process more financially viable. Although there were several causes of Concorde's gradual slump from being essential to being obsolete - not least its catastrophic crash at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on July 25 in 2000 - the restrictions on where it could fly undoubtedly hastened its demise. But times are changing, and the planet's growing reliance on air travel will, during the next decade, "drive the demand for broadly available faster air travel,” Peter Coen, project manager for Nasa’s commercial supersonic research team, told Bloomberg. “That’s going to make it possible for companies to offer competitive products in the future.” 15 surprising things you didn't know about long-haul flights How soon, and how softly, are the questions to which most interested parties want solutions - and the second is much easier to answer. At its loudest, Concorde's sonic output was somewhere around 90 dBa (A-weighted decibels). Nasa is aiming to cut this by about a third, to 60-65 dBA - hardly a sudden silence, and still the equivalent of a high-powered car on the motorway - but a significant reduction in the main concern, all the same.  The agency is planning to spend some $390 million (£299 million) on its prototype over the next five years, and has already been liaising with Lockheed Martin on design. "Now you’re getting down to that level where, as far as approval from the general public, it would probably be something that’s acceptable,” says Peter Iosifidis, a design program manager at Lockheed, of that 60-65 dBA figure. The Nasa prototype will reportedly resolve the sonic boom problem by employing a shape which will keep sound waves from merging A sonic boom occurs when a flying object achieves a speed of Mach 1 - which is approximately 761mph at sea level (though this varies at other altitudes). This is the point at which the pressure waves created by a plane's motion can no longer get out of its, or each other's, way. They become compressed, and merge into a single shockwave, which causes the dramatic bang. The Nasa prototype will reportedly resolve this problem by employing a shape which will keep sound waves from merging. Instead, they will be dispersed across various points of the aircraft, resulting in a low hum rather than a single sound explosion. The matter of when air passengers may be able to see the fruits of this research is a little harder to predict. Nasa plans to run live tests on its brainchild as soon as 2022. When, precisely, this will translate into everyday transportation is yet to be seen. But the future is coming - and it's quieter than you think. Concorde: 40 fascinating facts



How Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Could Work For Space Travel Click Here to Open in a New Window

How Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Could Work For Space TravelElon Musk recently proposed the high-speed floating train that’s accelerated by magnets and coasts between destinations.



Mammoth Antarctic iceberg is on the move, while the ice shelf it left behind grieves its loss Click Here to Open in a New Window

Mammoth Antarctic iceberg is on the move, while the ice shelf it left behind grieves its lossThe Delaware-sized iceberg that calved off the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica sometime between July 10 and July 12 is drifting farther from its former home, while breaking into smaller pieces.  More importantly, new cracks are appearing in the ice shelf that could portend the creation of additional icebergs and the possible destabilization of larger parts of the ice sheet, which holds back land-based ice from flowing into the sea and raising sea levels.  Satellite imagery from the Landsat 8 satellite as well as the the camera aboard the European Space Agency's (ESA) Sentinel-1 satellite are helping scientists keep tabs on the gargantuan iceberg despite the shroud of darkness during the Antarctic winter season.  SEE ALSO: One of the largest icebergs ever recorded just broke free of Antarctica Images released by NASA and the ESA show the iceberg's evolution and the beginnings of how the ice shelf is responding to losing such a large piece of itself.  According to NASA, the main iceberg, known as A-68A, continues to move northward, away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf. Meanwhile, it has already lost several small chunks.  Recent satellite photos also show three small icebergs forming to the north of where the main iceberg had been attached to the ice shelf.  #A68 update: New #Sentinel1 time series 6-24 July: the #iceberg continuing to break up and drift further from #LarcenC ice shelf. ️❄️ pic.twitter.com/prV8t03CT9 — ESA EarthObservation (@ESA_EO) July 25, 2017 If it seems like we're paying unusually close attention to this one particular iceberg, despite the multitude of other icebergs and glaciers that exist worldwide, well, it's because we are. To some extent, we're keeping a close eye on the iceberg because we can. Technology, in the form of advanced satellites, is enabling us to do this in ways that were never before possible. But there's another reason why scientists have their sights set on the Larsen C Ice Shelf. The ice shelf is located in the Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the most rapidly warming areas of the globe, and two of its neighbors, Larsen A and Larsen B, have already collapsed due in part to human-caused climate change.  Because of that, there is tremendous scientific interest in seeing how Larsen C responds to losing about 12 percent of its area in a single, trillion-ton iceberg. While the iceberg calving event itself is not likely caused specifically by climate change, it nevertheless threatens to speed up the already quickening pace of ice melt in the region due in large part to global warming.  Series of satellite images showing the breakup of the Larsen C iceberg and forming of new cracks and rifts in its wake.Image: nasaScientists have watched since 2014 as a fissure in the ice carved out a slice of the Larsen C Ice Shelf as if someone were taking a giant X-Acto Knife to the ice. That fissure finally set free the approximately 2,400-square-mile iceberg, which has since shrunk slightly in area as pieces have broken off.  Researchers affiliated with a U.K.-based initiative, known as Project MIDAS, report that a new rift appears to be developing in the ice shelf that could extend to a higher elevation point, known as the Bawden Ice Rise.  That area is considered to be "a crucial point" for stabilizing the ice shelf, and if it were to be weakened in some way it could speed the breakup of the shelf.  WATCH: It's official, 2016 was Earth's warmest year on record



Psychopaths Aren’t Natural Liars—They’re Just Better at Learning How to Do It Click Here to Open in a New Window

Psychopaths Aren’t Natural Liars—They’re Just Better at Learning How to Do ItPsychopaths are traditionally characterized as being manipulative, egotistical and lacking empathy and remorse. People with psychopathic traits often lie—compulsively and convincingly. Why this is, however, is a mystery. Previous research has linked psychopathy with lower functioning in parts of the brain involved in social behavior, personality and decision-making.



Snooty, Oldest Manatee in Captivity, Dies at Age 69 Click Here to Open in a New Window

Snooty, Oldest Manatee in Captivity, Dies at Age 69A morning visual check by museum staff revealed that Snooty was missing, and he was later discovered caught in a duct behind the tank he shared with three young manatees, Jeff Rodgers, the museum's provost and chief operating officer, said at a news briefing in Bradenton yesterday (July 23).



APNewsBreak: Man charged in igniting massive Utah wildfire Click Here to Open in a New Window

APNewsBreak: Man charged in igniting massive Utah wildfireSALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A man accused of accidentally sparking a massive Utah wildfire that forced some 1,500 people from their homes last month and cost about $34 million to fight was charged Tuesday.



Trump's EPA enlists controversial think tank to find climate 'experts' to argue with mainstream scientists Click Here to Open in a New Window

Trump's EPA enlists controversial think tank to find climate 'experts' to argue with mainstream scientistsEver since Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt and other Trump administration officials raised the idea of putting climate science up for debate, it's been an open question as to where the participants who doubt mainstream climate science would come from.  Now that is becoming clearer, and the answer is sure to further convince many that this entire exercise is a set up to discredit some of the most basic, rigorously studied climate science conclusions.  SEE ALSO: EPA chief wants his useless climate change 'debate' televised, and I need a drink The Washington Examiner reported on Monday that the EPA has reached out to the controversial Heartland Institute for help in casting the so-called "red team" that would try to poke holes in the evidence presented by mainstream climate scientists.  The Heartland Institute is a free market think tank that has received funding from the oil and gas industry and has spent that money to disseminate information to convince the public that the science linking human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels is flawed.  This fall, the group began mailing 200,000 copies of a report entitled, "Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” to science teachers across the U.S. The report encouraged teachers to tell their students that climate scientists are still debating why the Earth is warming, when in reality the climate science community isn't debating that at all. The group's goal is to get the report in the hands of every single science teacher in the country, according to reporting from PBS's Frontline. The report asserts that even if human activity is contributing to climate change, such a development “would probably not be harmful, because many areas of the world would benefit from or adjust to climate change.” Despite what Heartland's experts might say, the Earth is warming due to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the air.Image: nasa/mashable/bob al-greeneThe Heartland Institute is also the same group that has been holding annual meetings for climate deniers, with the most recent one taking place in Washington, D.C., in March.  During the Obama administration, these were viewed as meetings of a desperate, irrelevant group of people who had virtually no influence on the federal government's agenda on climate and energy.  But now, everything has changed under President Donald Trump. Suddenly Heartland is influential, and its experts are being tapped to advise the government. Heartland's president and CEO Joseph Bast opened the post-election D.C. meeting by saying that, “those of us in the room who have been working on this issue for a decade or longer can finally stand up and say hallelujah and welcome to the party,” Frontline reported. Pruitt's outreach to cast the red team marks the clearest sign yet of Heartland's newfound influence. This is worrisome, because the group has ties to some of today's most ardent, and largely discredited, foes of climate science — and in some cases science in general. "The administration has reached out to Heartland since the early days of Trump’s presidency for advice on energy and environment policy, and we’ve been happy to offer help," said Heartland spokesman Jim Lakely, in an email message.   "As for the “red team” idea, that is also something The Heartland Institute has promoted for years. We are the publishers of the Climate Change Reconsidered series — four (and soon to be five) volumes by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) which examines the peer-reviewed literature in exactly that fashion. NIPCC is a “red team” of scientists that has been in operation since 2008," he said.  "The administration is aware of this work, and the scientists who produced those volumes – more than 3,300 pages with many thousand more citations."  According to Lakely, a climate science "red team" is needed because scientists have not sufficiently examined the causes of global warming — despite decades of studies published on exactly that topic.  "The work of a “red team” is necessary because the IPCC’s mandate was biased from the start. It was not tasked with discovering the causes — natural and anthropogenic — of climate change and the consequences of that change," he said.  "Its mandate was to look at only human effects, which has led to dismissal of natural causes and increasingly alarmist conclusions. A sober examination of all the data by qualified scientists is long overdue, and would be a valuable public service," Lakely said. However, contrary to Lakely's arguments, the scientific process itself, as well as the methods used by organizations like the National Academy of Sciences and the U.N. IPCC, involve extensive scrutiny and peer review. Furthermore, dozens of studies and assessments have been published that have specifically looked at the causes of climate change, including natural variability. Some major climate science reports and most government regulations relying on that science also require public comment periods, which makes the argument that climate scientists have gone unchallenged rather dubious.  Heartland has longstanding ties to well-known climate deniers like Fred Singer, Christopher Monkton, Willie Soon, House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas, Craig Idso, Patrick Michaels, Myron Ebell, William Happer, and others. Many of the speakers at its annual meetings have received funding from the fossil fuel industry, and few if any of them have successfully published studies in scientific journals that deal with climate change issues.  Image: Ed HawkinsSome of them, including Singer, were involved in efforts to convince the public that there was no clear link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer a few decades ago.  It's unclear exactly when a red team/blue team climate debate or series of debates will occur. What is known, however, is the general format of such an exercise.  Such a debate would have a "red team" of experts who would challenge consensus findings from scientific reports, and a "blue team" would then have the opportunity to respond. The productivity of this entire exercise would depend entirely on how such a debate were set up, such as the composition of the teams, the questions examined, the stakes and setting involved, and more. In an interview with Reuters on July 11 Pruitt said that he would like these debates to be televised, thereby raising the stakes for both mainstream climate scientists — who have the backing of thousands of peer reviewed climate studies and the conclusions of virtually every major science academy in the world — as well as climate deniers, who until this point had been relegated to the outer fringes of climate policymaking.  Critics of the debates see them as a way for Pruitt and others who are staunchly opposed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to elevate minority views and make them appear to be just as valid as the consensus conclusions of the vast majority of climate scientists researching the subject.  This concern motivated senior Democrats on the House Science Committee to write to Pruitt on July 21 to express their concerns about the motivations behind the debates.  The letter didn't hold back, either.  "In the face of this overwhelming agreement on the basic fact of human-caused climate change by the world's scientists, your efforts seem to be divorced from reality and reason," the Democrats wrote.  "This only reinforces our skepticism of your motives in engaging in a clearly unnecessary, and quite possibly unscientific, red team-blue team exercise to review climate science." UPDATE: July 26, 2017, 10:49 a.m. EDT Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include comments from the Heartland Institute. WATCH: An iceberg the size of Delaware broke off Antarctica  



Can an Airplane Door Actually Open Mid-Flight? Click Here to Open in a New Window

Can an Airplane Door Actually Open Mid-Flight?Can an Airplane Door Actually Open Mid-Flight?



Science says money does buy happiness, but not in the way you think Click Here to Open in a New Window

Science says money does buy happiness, but not in the way you think

You've probably heard it a million times, but the old adage that "money can't buy happiness" might actually be completely false. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that money really can make you happy, but not by buying yourself gifts or fancy possessions. As it turns out, the easiest way to turn your hard-earned cash into warm and fuzzy feelings is to pay someone else to do something that you normally do yourself. 

After polling over 6,000 individuals in four countries, researchers began crunching the data, comparing responses on overall life satisfaction with money-spending habits and other factors. The team discovered that those who made a habit out of paying others to do jobs for them generally reported a higher level of satisfaction with their lives.

The data was normalized to account for total disposable income of each respondent, including money spent on unnecessary items, and the boost in satisfaction gained by paying others to do tasks like shopping, cooking, or even household repairs stayed constant across the board.

With that data guiding their next steps, the researchers conducted an interest experiment in Vancouver, giving 60 different adults $40 of spending money for two weekends in a row. They were told to spend the money on either a material good or some kind of time-saving service, and then alternate the following weekend. The majority of participants said that paying for a service that saved them time had a greater positive result, including reduced stress.

The science is clear, but the study suggests that most people never consider spending money in this way, opting instead to buy themselves goods rather than paying someone else to do a job for them. A followup poll of 98 adults showed that only two percent would consider spending extra money on services instead of goods.



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