Used SpaceX Rocket Launches Satellite, Then Lands in Historic 1st Reflight – By Irene Klotz, SPACE.com on March 31, 2017


Elon Musk says reusing expensive orbit-class boosters will mean “a huge revolution in spaceflight”

Credit: SpaceX Flickr 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared off a seaside launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center here today (March 30) on an unprecedented second mission to deliver a spacecraft into orbit, proving the booster’s reusability.

The two-stage, 23-story-tall rocket lifted off at 6:27 p.m. EDT (2227 GMT) in the second launch in two weeks for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is ramping up its flight rate following an accident in September.

Perched on top of the rocket, which sported a new upper stage and payload fairing, was the 11,645-lb. (5,282 kilograms) SES-10 communications satellite, which is intended to provide TV, internet and other services to customers in Latin America. [In Photos: SpaceX Launches, Lands 1st Reused Falcon 9 Rocket]

“This is a really, really exciting step forward,” Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer of Luxembourg-based SES, said before launch. “I think the whole industry is looking.”

Article continues:

NASA Tracks Global Carbon Dioxide – By Brian Kahn and Climate Central | November 13, 2015


The space agency is trying to balance the planet’s carbon budget using satellite monitoring

Carbon dioxide, or CO2 for short. It’s simple gas that makes up a small part of our planet’s atmosphere. And yet it’s at the root of one of the biggest problems of the 21st century (that would be climate change, for the record).

Carbon dioxide is a simple gas that makes up a small part of our planet’s atmosphere. ©iStock.com

Carbon dioxide is a simple gas that makes up a small part of our planet’s atmosphere.
©iStock.com

NASA scientists have been keeping an eye on the movement of CO2 across land, air and sea in an effort to zero in on the changes in store for our planet.

CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are the highest they’ve been in 400,000 years. Despite the commitments to try and rein in carbon pollution, there’s still little sign human emissions will slow anytime in the near future, let alone drop to zero.

That has the world on track to cross the symbolic atmospheric CO2 threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm) permanently this year or early next year. And it also means that the climate will continue to change leading to warmer temperatures, higher and more acidic oceans, and shifts in extreme weather.

Yet CO2 and corresponding impacts would be a lot higher if it weren’t for plants, like giant sequoias to microscopic plankton, that absorb about half of all human CO2emissions in a given year. That’s why NASA is interested in monitoring the world’s greenery or what they’ve termed the “other half” of the carbon equation.

CO2 from wood burning and urban sources.
Credit: NASA

Factors such as El Niño, drought and warm weather in the Arctic all affect how much CO2 is taken up by the natural world. Scientists are beginning to understand those, but what they’re even more curious about is how human-influenced warming could further change plants’ ability to absorb CO2.

Article continues:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nasa-tracks-global-carbon-dioxide/

 

VICE News Wants To Hear From You About Climate Change – Vice News Published on Nov 13, 2015


Ninety-seven percent of qualified scientists say that the earth is getting hotter and human activity is to blame. Data shows that the global mean temperature is now 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. If humanity continues this course, we can expect more frequent and more intense extreme weather events, rising seas, and an unprecedented impact on humanity.

World leaders will be meeting in Paris later this month to try to come up with a international climate agreement. While the overwhelming majority of the world’s economies have laid out plans to cut their carbon emissions, they’re still short of the goal the United Nations has set for holding the line on global warming.

Ahead of the conference, VICE News wants to hear your thoughts on climate change.
-What do you think should be done to address climate change?
-What changes can individuals make to make a difference? How do you think individual actions can make a difference?
-What message do you want to send to world leaders?

Send us a Skype video message with your thoughts. Here’s how: http://bit.ly/1Nvt08k

Academics land £2m prizes at Zuckerberg-backed ‘science Oscars’ – Ian Sample Sunday 8 November 2015 21.00 EST


British researcher John Hardy among those to win a Breakthrough prize at ceremony hosted by Seth MacFarlane in the US

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner

Science is starting to pay big for a small minority who land major prizes. At a ceremony in California on Sunday night, six researchers became substantially wealthier when they were handed Breakthrough prizes, set up by the Russian billionaire Yuri Milner along with some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley.

Among those honoured were Karl Deisseroth of Stanford University and Edward Boyden of MIT for developing a procedure called optogenetics – a means of turning neurons on and off using light. They took home $3m (£2m) apiece for winning the Breakthrough prize in life sciences.

The same prize winnings went to John Hardy, who studies Alzheimer’s disease at University College London; Helen Hobbs, of the University of Texas South-western medical centre, for discovering gene variants linked to cholesterol; Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig for reading Neanderthal and other ancient genomes; and Ian Agol, a mathematician at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, for his work on problems that language cannot easily convey: virtual Hakenvirtual fibering conjectures and tameness.

A group of 1,300 researchers won the Breakthrough prize in fundamental physics, but the $3m will be shared among five team leaders whose experiments confirmed that ghostly subatomic particles called neutrinos have mass. The same landmark discovery won the Nobel prize in physics this year.

In keeping with Milner’s aim of raising scientists to rock star status in the eyes of the public, the Breakthrough prizes – sometimes called the Oscars of science – were handed out at a ceremony at Hangar One in Silicon Valley hosted by Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy.

Pharrell Williams was down to perform, with Russell Crowe, Hilary Swank and Lily Collins among the guest presenters. The plan for the evening, with a theme of “life in the universe”, included a live video link to the Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly on the International Space Station.

The prizes, totalling $21.9m this year – taking the total handed out to more than $160m since they were established in 2012 – are backed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his partner, Priscilla Chan, Google’s Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki of 23andme, and Jack Ma of Alibaba.com and his wife, Cathy Zhang. Unlike Nobel prizes, the Breakthrough prizes are explicitly directed at researchers who are still active in their fields.

Hardy, nicknamed Scruffy by his former colleagues – he was once crowned the worst dressed scientist in the field at a major neuroscience conference – won the prize for his discovery of genetic mutations that give rise to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and for inspiring new treatments for preventing the disease.

He said he was having bacon and eggs in his kitchen one Saturday morning when Mahlon DeLong, a US neurologist from the prize committee, called with the news of his win. “I was speechless. It was a 15-minute call that changed my life. I had to have another cup of coffee,” he said.

Hardy is the most cited Alzheimer’s researcher in Britain, and may be the most storied too. He once rang up a $1,000 bill at an Osaka karaoke bar, drinking whiskey and singing Yellow Submarine, while in the city for a conference. One tale has him travelling with a colleague and mistakenly picking up the wrong suitcase before retiring to bed. The next day, Hardy appeared in the other man’s clothes. “He said he just thought his wife had bought him some new clothes,” a former colleague, Karen Duff, told the journal Nature Medicine in 2004.

He made a major breakthrough in 1990 at Imperial College London when his team found mutations that helped to explain how amyloid plaques form in the brain. Later, he showed that tangles of a protein called tau appeared to happen as the disease progressed. It was part of a strategy to understand the order in which Alzheimer’s takes hold.

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/nov/09/academics-land-2m-prizes-mark-zuckerberg-breakthrough-prize-science-oscars

 

Should Human Stem Cells Be Used To Make Partly Human Chimeras? – Rob Stein NOVEMBER 06, 2015 3:39 AM ET


Human stem cells, in this case made from adult skin cells, can give rise to any sort of human cell. Some scientists would like to insert such cells into nonhuman, animal embryos, in hopes of one day growing human organs for transplantation.

Human stem cells, in this case made from adult skin cells, can give rise to any sort of human cell. Some scientists would like to insert such cells into nonhuman, animal embryos, in hopes of one day growing human organs for transplantation. Science Source

Human stem cells, in this case made from adult skin cells, can give rise to any sort of human cell. Some scientists would like to insert such cells into nonhuman, animal embryos, in hopes of one day growing human organs for transplantation.

Science Source

An intense debate has flared over whether the federal government should fund research that creates partly human creatures using human stem cells.

The National Institutes of Health declared a moratorium in late September on funding this kind of research. NIH officials said they needed to assess the science and to evaluate the ethical and moral questions it raises. As part of that assessment, the NIH is holding a daylong workshop Friday.

Meanwhile, some prominent scientists worry the NIH moratorium is hindering a highly promising field of research at a crucial moment. Such concerns prompted several researchers this week, writing in the journal Science, to call on the NIH to lift the moratorium.

“The shadow of negativity cast around this research is going to have a major negative impact on any progress going forward,” says Sean Wu, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, who helped write the article.

The moratorium was prompted by an increasing number of requests to fund these experiments, says Carrie Wolinetz, the NIH’s associate director for science policy. In the experiments, scientists propose to insert human stem cells into very early embryos from other animals, creating dual-species chimeras.

Article continues:

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/06/454693391/should-human-stem-cells-be-used-to-make-partly-human-chimeras

 

Explore the Beauty of Space With the NASA Photo Archives – TAYLOR GLASCOCK. 11.02.15. 3:02 PM


It is impossible to look at photos of space and not feel awe. A picture of Earth as seen from the moon, the rings of Saturn, or a nebula can only fill a viewer with wonder. Such images are where science and art meet, teaching us more about the cosmos even as they leave us pondering our place in the universe.

Some of the best space photography has been compiled in Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA. The images, taken by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, Herschel Space Observatory, and other equipment, offer a stunning look at the vast realm beyond our planet. Writer Nirmala Nataraj and scientist Bill Nye hope the book inspires as well as informs.

“Photos are one of the primary ways we learn to process phenomena that are inexplicable and vast,” Nataraj says. “When we find ourselves bumping up against the ceiling of our imagination, photos of space help us recapture a sense of wonder, possibility, and curiosity about the nature of the cosmos.”

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2015/11/explore-the-beauty-of-space-with-the-nasa-photo-archives/

No More Pencils, No More Books – By Will Oremus OCT. 25 2015 8:26 PM


Artificially intelligent software is replacing the textbook—and reshaping American education.

Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo

Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo

Eighteen students file into a brightly lit classroom. Arrayed around its perimeter are 18 computers. The students take their seats, log in to their machines, and silently begin working. At a desk in the back, the instructor’s screen displays a series of spreadsheets and data visualizations to help her track each student’s progress in real time.

This isn’t a Vulcan finishing school or a scene from some Back to the Futuresequel. It’s Sheela Whelan’s pre-algebra class at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York.

The students in Whelan’s class are all using the same program, called ALEKS. But peek over their shoulders and you’ll see that each student is working on a different sort of problem. A young woman near the corner of the room is plugging her way through a basic linear equation. The young man to her left is trying to wrap his mind around a story problem involving fractions. Nearby, a more advanced student is simplifying equations that involve both variables and fractions.

At first glance, each student appears to be at a different point in the course. And that’s true, in one sense. But it’s more accurate to say that the course is literally different for each student.

Just a third of the way through the semester, a few of the most advanced students are nearly ready for the final exam. Others lag far behind. They’re all responsible for mastering the same concepts and skills. But the order in which they tackle them, and the pace at which they do so, is up to the artificially intelligent software that’s guiding them through the material and assessing their performance at every turn.

 

Article continues:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2015/10/adaptive_learning_software_is_replacing_textbooks_and_upending_american.html