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The Unwritten Rules of Journalism

from Science

In the same way that many children naively assume adults are infallible, I grew up with the fantasy that anything in print must be true. This created some logical conundrums in the supermarket checkout aisle, where I'd see the Weekly World News and wonder, "But if aliens haven't abducted Elvis, how can they print it?"

I mean, if journalists don't hold themselves to standards of accuracy, why would they take the trouble to print an Errata column for the few minutiae they happened to miss? "In last week's issue," such a column would say, "we mistakenly identified the smiling man in the photograph as Nathan Daniels of Ballwin, Missouri. In fact, while he is indeed Nathan Daniels of Ballwin, Missouri, what we called a smile is more of a tempered grin. We sincerely regret the error."

If that's the kind of error a newspaper regrets--and sincerely, no less--surely the major facts behind any story are watertight.

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Giant Solar Plane Completes Spain-Morocco Flight

from BBC News Online

A solar-powered plane has landed in Morocco after flying from Spain, completing the second leg of its pioneering journey. Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the Solar Impulse in Rabat--19 hours after taking off from Madrid.

The plane--the size of a jumbo jet--was powered by 12,000 solar cells turning four electrical motors. The 2,500km-trip (1,550 miles), begun in Switzerland in May, is described as a rehearsal for a world tour in 2014.

Made of carbon fibre, the plane is the size of an Airbus A340 but only weighs as much as an average family car, according to its creators.

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IceCube Catches High-Energy Neutrino Oscillations

from Nature News

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a telescope at the South Pole that detects the subatomic particles known as neutrinos, has measured the highest-energy neutrino oscillations yet.

IceCube was designed primarily to study neutrinos streaming from astrophysical objects such as supernovae and ?-ray bursts. But the detection of neutrino oscillations--the transformation of one type of neutrino into another--represents new scientific territory for the experiment, an area that falls under the umbrella of particle physics.

This is our first step into particle physics," says Andreas Gross, a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, who led the oscillation analysis. While the results are relatively unsurprising, IceCube researchers say they may eventually be able to contribute to an explicit understanding of the neutrino mass hierarchy, or which of the three known neutrino types, or 'flavours', is the heaviest and which is the lightest.

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Venus Starts Its Rare Sun Transit

from BBC News Online

Planet Venus is putting on a show for skywatchers, moving across the face of the Sun as viewed from Earth. The transit is a very rare astronomical event that will not be seen again for another 105 years. Observers in North and Central America, and the northern-most parts of South America saw the transit begin just before local sunset.

The far northwest of America, the Arctic, the western Pacific, and east Asia will witness the entire passage. The UK and Europe, the Middle East, and eastern African must wait for local sunrise to see the closing stages of the transit.

Some of the best early pictures of the event were provided by the US space agency's (NASA) Solar Dynamics Observatory, which studies the Sun from a position 36,000km above the Earth. Scientists are observing the transit to test ideas that will help them probe Earth-like planets elsewhere in the galaxy, and to learn more about Venus itself and its complex atmosphere.

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Shakespeare's Curtain Theatre Unearthed in East London

from the Guardian (UK)

Well preserved remains of Shakespeare's original "wooden O" stage, the Curtain theatre where Henry V and Romeo and Juliet were first performed, have been discovered in a yard in east London.

The Curtain theatre in Shoreditch preceded the Globe on the Thames as Shakespeare's first venue, showcasing several of his most famous plays. But it was dismantled in the 17th century and its precise location lost.

Now part of the gravelled yard in Shoreditch where the groundlings stood, ate, gossiped and watched the plays, and foundation walls on which the tiers of wooden galleries were built have been uncovered in what was open ground for 500 years while the surrounding district became one of the most densely built in London.

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South Korea Surrenders to Creationist Demands

from Nature News

Mention creationism, and many scientists think of the United States, where efforts to limit the teaching of evolution have made headway in a couple of states. But the successes are modest compared with those in South Korea, where the anti-evolution sentiment seems to be winning its battle with mainstream science.

A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx. The move has alarmed biologists, who say that they were not consulted. "The ministry just sent the petition out to the publishing companies and let them judge," says Dayk Jang, an evolutionary scientist at Seoul National University.

The campaign was led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR), which aims to delete the "error" of evolution from textbooks to "correct" students' views of the world, according to the society's website. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers.

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Antiaging Protein Helps Set Daily Rhythms

from Science News

WASHINGTON -- A protein famous for slowing aging and increasing life span also acts as a metronome, helping coordinate metabolism and the body's daily rhythms.

SIRT1, one of a group of proteins called sirtuins, plays roles in many cellular processes, including aging. Researchers hope that activating the protein with drugs such as resveratrol can extend life span and improve health for people, as it does in animal studies.

Now, researchers at MIT have evidence that SIRT1 may not only help determine long-term health and longevity, but it also has a hand in setting the body's daily or "circadian" clock. The finding, reported May 31 at the Metabolism, Diet and Disease meeting, could be important for understanding how metabolism and life span are linked.

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Craig Venter's Bugs Might Save the World

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

In the menagerie of Craig Venter's imagination, tiny bugs will save the world. They will be custom bugs, designer bugs -- bugs that only Venter can create. He will mix them up in his private laboratory from bits and pieces of DNA, and then he will release them into the air and the water, into smokestacks and oil spills, hospitals and factories and your house.

Each of the bugs will have a mission. Some will be designed to devour things, like pollution. Others will generate food and fuel. There will be bugs to fight global warming, bugs to clean up toxic waste, bugs to manufacture medicine and diagnose disease, and they will all be driven to complete these tasks by the very fibers of their synthetic DNA.

Right now, Venter is thinking of a bug. He is thinking of a bug that could swim in a pond and soak up sunlight and urinate automotive fuel. He is thinking of a bug that could live in a factory and gobble exhaust and fart fresh air. He may not appear to be thinking about these things. He may not appear to be thinking at all. He may appear to be riding his German motorcycle through the California mountains, cutting the inside corners so close that his kneepads skim the pavement. This is how Venter thinks. He also enjoys thinking on the deck of his 95-foot sailboat, halfway across the Pacific Ocean in a gale, and while snorkeling naked in the Sargasso Sea surrounded by Portuguese men-of-war. When Venter was growing up in San Francisco, he would ride his bicycle to the airport and race passenger jets down the runway. As a Navy corpsman in Vietnam, he spent leisurely afternoons tootling up the coast in a dinghy, under a hail of enemy fire.

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What's Different About the Brains of People With Autism?

from NPR

Like a lot of people with autism, Jeff Hudale has a brain that's really good at some things. "I have an unusual aptitude for numbers, namely math computations," he says.

Hudale can do triple-digit multiplication in his head. That sort of ability helped him get a degree in engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. But he says his brain struggles with other subjects like literature and philosophy.

...What Hudale has done for the past 25 years is help scientists understand autism--by letting them study his brain.

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A Geneticist's Research Turns Personal

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Human genome sequencing is already helping researchers find new treatments for illness. Now an unusual case study suggests that the benefits of sequencing may be enhanced in combination with detailed blood tests.

The case involves Michael Snyder, a geneticist who was both the lead author and the subject of a study on genomics reported in the journal Cell. The study began with the sequencing of Dr. Snyder's genome, which showed that he was at high risk for Type 2 diabetes. Then the research team did extensive blood tests every two months or more, keeping track of 40,000 molecules in Dr. Snyder's cells. About midway into the 14-month study, analyses showed that Dr. Snyder had indeed developed diabetes.

"My genome did predict I was at risk," he said, "and because I was watching out, I detected the illness pretty early." The research team monitored the molecular changes closely as the disease developed. The illness was treated successfully while in its early stages, long before it might have been if Dr. Snyder had relied on a conventional visit to the doctor.

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World Cancer Incidence Will Grow 75% by 2030, WHO Says

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

As health authorities make increasing headway in treating infectious diseases in the developing world, they may be trading one problem for another. As people in those countries live longer, they become more likely to develop chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. A new report by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) suggests that the incidence of cancer worldwide will grow by 75% by the year 2030, nearly doubling in some of the developing countries. Those increases will put a much larger burden on the poorly developed healthcare systems in such countries because care of cancer is much more expensive than care for infectious diseases.

Dr. Freddie Bray of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and his colleagues used data from IARC's GLOBOCAN database to compile estimates of cancer incidence and mortality in 2008 in 184 countries. They determined how various types of cancer relate to the standard of living in each country--as determined by the Human Development Index--then projected how the rates would change as living standards improved. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Lancet Oncology.

The team found that cancers typically associated with infections--such as cervical, stomach and liver cancer and Kaposi's sarcoma--are declining in the developing countries as infections become better controlled. But the cancers that are most common in the most developed countries--including lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer--are increasing at a faster rate. In 2008, almost 40% of the number of cancers worldwide occurred in countries with the highest standard of living, even though those regions account for just 15% of the world's population. As living standards increase elsewhere, the number of such cancers will continue to grow, the authors said. In countries with medium standards of living, such as South Africa, China and India, the cancer rate will grow by 78% by 2030, the team predicted. In countries that currently have the lowest standards of living, the rate will grow by 93%.

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It's Still a Dog's Life, But When Did It Begin?

from the San Francisco Chronicle

As scientific puzzles go, the origin of dogs may not be as important as the origin of the universe. But it strikes closer to home, and it almost seems harder to answer.

Cosmologists seem to have settled on the idea that 13.7 billion years ago the universe appeared with a bang (the big one) from nothing--albeit a kind of nothing that included the laws of physics. They assure us that although we may not be able to comprehend the numbers, this is what happened.

With dogs, there is no such agreement. A consensus seems to have been reached on only one point, which is that the ancestors of dogs were wolves. Beyond that, there are varying claims, particularly about dates and places. Dogs were domesticated, various scientists argue, between 15,000 and 100,000 years ago, in Asia or Africa or multiple times in multiple places.

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Paper Strikes Back: Defending Books, Mail and Dollar Bills

from Scientific American

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Crumple it, drench it, lock it in a hot attic or a damp cellar but paper can come back to life.

It is doing so now, after taking a battering from environmentalists, the Internet and a glum economy. Paper partisans are pushing back, defending greenbacks as preferable to dollar coins, physical mail as hacker-proof and turning-page books as more permanent than digital formats.

Even some environmental objections to paper have turned around as companies work with green groups to foster recycling and grow sustainable forests.

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President Prunes Forest Reforms

from Nature News

Brazil's vast forests lost some legal protections last week, but less than environmentalists had feared. On 28 May, President Dilma Rousseff vetoed a dozen sections of the revamped forest code passed a month earlier by the lower house of Brazil's National Congress.

Although Rousseff denied environmentalists' push for a full veto, she removed many of the bill's contentious provisions, including one that would have effectively granted an amnesty for any illegal deforestation conducted before July 2008. She also issued an executive order to fill in the gaps created by her veto. Rousseff and her ministers defended their decision as a realistic compromise that promotes agriculture but also protects the environment. Many expect further legislative wrangling as Congress reviews the new language in the coming months.

The revised code still requires that landowners maintain a proportion of their land as forest, ranging from 20% for those in coastal regions to 80% in the Amazon. Rousseff restored obligations for landowners to recover forests that were cut down illegally, although she created exemptions that could relieve numerous small properties of this obligation.

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Fruitfly Development, Cell by Cell

from Nature News

In an advance that could transform our understanding of the complex cellular dynamics underlying development of animals, researchers have developed a method to track individual cells in a developing fly embryo in real time. Two papers published on the Nature Methods website today describe similar versions of the microscopic technique.

Understanding how an embryo develops from two parental germ cells into an organism with an organized, communicating and interactive group of systems is a difficult task. To date, most studies have only been able to track pieces of that development in animals such as the zebrafish Danio rerio or the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. A more comprehensive understanding of the whole process and what drives it could inform research on diseases such as cancer, and help in the development of regenerative stem-cell therapies.

Current light-sheet microscopy techniques involve illuminating one side of the sample. Either one side of a developing organism is imaged continuously, or two sides are viewed alternately, with the resultant data reconstructed to form a three-dimensional view. However, viewing from one side at a time means that the cells cannot be tracked as they migrate from top to bottom, and rotating the sample to view both sides takes so much time that when the next image is taken the cells have changed, so that they no longer line up.

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How a Mosquito Survives a Raindrop Hit

from Science News

A raindrop hitting a mosquito in flight is like a midair collision between a human and a bus. Except that the mosquito survives.

New experiments show how the insect's light weight works in its favor, says engineer David Hu of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. In essence, the (relatively) huge, fast drop doesn't transfer much of its momentum to a little wisp of an insect. Instead the falling droplet sweeps the insect along on the downward plunge. As Hu puts it, the mosquito "just rides the drop."

The trick is breaking away from that drop before it and the insect splash into the ground. Mosquitoes that separate themselves in time easily survive a raindrop strike, Hu and his colleagues report online the week of June 4 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Therapeutic Antibody Pioneers Get Spain's Top Science Prize

from ScienceInsider

BARCELONA, SPAIN -- British biochemist Gregory Winter and U.S. chemist Richard A. Lerner are this year's winners of Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research. The two researchers are jointly honored "for their decisive contributions to the field of immunology and, in particular, for obtaining antibodies of major therapeutic value," the Prince of Asturias Foundation announced yesterday.

Winter is former deputy director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, U.K., and founder of several biotechnology companies; he was appointed Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge in December 2011.

Lerner is the Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, which he led for 25 years, and is a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology. The two scientists have pioneered the treatment of degenerative diseases and tumors with specifically designed antibodies, according to the jury, which was unanimous.

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Fewer Bacteria Found in Women's Offices

Men's offices have 10 to 20 percent more bacteria than women's offices, and offices in New York City house more bacteria than those in San Francisco. These are among the findings of a new study that looked at bacteria in more than 90 offices in three cities--San Francisco, New York and Tucson--on chairs, desktops, phones, computer mice and keyboards.

In other biomedical news, a technique for "washing" lungs before they are transplanted could increase the number of organs suitable for donation, according to medical researchers. A trial led by Newcastle University in England is trying to improve the quality of lungs by pumping nutrients and oxygen through them.

An overabundance of connective tissue devastates organs such as the liver, heart, and lungs. A new study suggests that fragments of a promising cancer drug can rein in fibrosis, which is currently untreatable.

Clinical trials for breast cancer drugs are focused on shrinking existing tumors, not preventing cancer spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, this emphasis is stifling the discovery of chemicals that could prevent metastasis--costing money and patient lives.

A federal task force cautioned last week that women who are past menopause and healthy should not take hormone replacement therapy in hopes of warding off dementia, bone fractures or heart disease.

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Zookeepers Pressed to Decide Which Species to Save

Zoos are having to make tough choices about which endangered animals to try to save. The reality is that they can't save them all.

In other environmental news, geologist Erik Klemetti says that the crystals in volcanic rocks hold the key to understanding the evolution of magma at volcanoes. Two new studies examine Mount St. Helens and Long Valley using these tools to unlock the unseen history of the volcanoes.

In North Carolina, a state-appointed science panel has reported that a 1-meter rise in sea level along the coast is likely by 2100. The calculation was intended to help the state plan for rising water that could threaten 2,000 square miles. Critics say the report could thwart economic development on just as large a scale.

Across the United States, the coal industry is under siege, threatened by new regulations from Washington, environmentalists fortified by money from Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York City, and natural gas companies intent on capturing much of the nation's energy market. Last year, when the operator of the Big Sandy plant announced that it would be switching from coal to cleaner, cheaper natural gas, local people took it as the worst betrayal imaginable.

Scientists have detected radioactivity in fish that have migrated into California waters from the ocean off Japan, where radiation contaminated the sea after explosions tore through the Fukushima nuclear reactors last year. Radioactive cesium was detected in samples of highly prized Pacific bluefin tuna, but it is well below levels considered unsafe for humans, the scientists say.

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Facebook and Organ Donations

With demand for healthy organs for transplantation growing worldwide, Facebook has become a popular channel for people soliciting kidneys, livers and other potentially lifesaving organs. Earlier this month the social network began offering members the ability to identify themselves as organ donors on their Facebook pages and to locate state organ-donation registries if they would like to become donors.

In other news, Nature News reported that a loose coalition of eco-anarchist groups is increasingly launching violent attacks on scientists, including the non-fatal shooting of a nuclear-engineering executive on May 7 in Genoa, Italy.

The $1 million Shaw Prizes were announced last week for the discovery of trans-Neptune bodies, breakthroughs in understanding protein folding and pioneering work in a mathematical technique known as deformation quantization.

The New York Times explored the role of speculation in science through two recent publications -- about the misty depths of canine and human history.

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Did Developmental Timing Give Birds an Edge?

A new study suggests that retained juvenile traits may have helped birds outlive dinosaurs through a process known as paedomorphosis.

In other news of the ancient past, a study of more than 300 Neolithic skeletons suggests evidence of "hereditary inequality" among farmers 7,000 years ago. Archaeologists from Cardiff University led a team who studied the skeletons from across Europe. They say evidence suggests that farmers buried with tools had access to better land than those buried without.

The slow eastward migration of monsoons across the Asian continent initially supported the formation of the Harappan civilization in the Indus valley by allowing production of large agricultural surpluses, then decimated the civilization as water supplies for farming dried up, researchers reported last week.

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SpaceX Dragon Splashdown 'Like Seeing Your Kid Come Home'

The privately launched SpaceX Dragon supply ship returned to Earth last week, ending a revolutionary nine-day voyage to the International Space Station with an old-fashioned splashdown in the Pacific. The unmanned capsule parachuted into the ocean about 500 miles off Mexico's Baja California.

In other space news, astronomers have developed a new technique for calculating the masses and ages of old stars based on the masses of the white dwarfs they have become.

The Guardian recounted how the transit of Venus in the 18th century allowed astronomers to measure accurately the size of the solar system for the first time.

And two Colorado companies are working to create a less-costly vehicle to send into the stratosphere. StarLight--a two-stage system with a planelike vehicle suspended below a massive gas-filled balloon--could be the answer to a longtime challenge.

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Science at the Top of the News for May 29-June 1

A new study suggesting that climate skepticism is not necessarily rooted in science illiteracy was the most-viewed item last week by subscribers to Science in the News Daily. Other popular stories focused on why stout bubbles sink and some surprising new theories about the center of the Earth. Subscribe for free daily updates.

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Mysterious Radiation Burst Recorded in Tree Rings

from Nature News

Just over 1,200 years ago, the planet was hit by an extremely intense burst of high-energy radiation of unknown cause, scientists studying tree-ring data have found.

The radiation burst, which seems to have hit between AD 774 and AD 775, was detected by looking at the amounts of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in tree rings that formed during the AD 775 growing season in the Northern Hemisphere. The increase in 14C levels is so clear that the scientists, led by Fusa Miyake, a cosmic-ray physicist from Nagoya University in Japan, conclude that the atmospheric level of 14C must have jumped by 1.2% over the course of no longer than a year, about 20 times more than the normal rate of variation. Their study is published online in Nature today [June 3].

"The work looks pretty solid," says Daniel Baker, a space physicist at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado. "Some very energetic event occurred in about ad 775."

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Race to Map Africa's Forgotten Glaciers Before They Melt Away

from the Guardian (UK)

Ptolemy thought they were the source of the Nile and called them the Mountains of the Moon because of the perpetual mists that covered them; Stanley claimed to be the first non-African to see their icecap; and the many thousands of subsistence farmers who today live on the slopes of the fabled Rwenzori mountains in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo fear that warming temperatures are devastating their harvests.

While 20,000 people a year scale Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, just a handful of trekkers tackle the lower, 5,100m Rwenzori summits and witness the spectacular plant forms that grow in some of the wettest conditions on Earth. The result is that little is known about the condition of the many tropical glaciers that descend off the three peaks of mounts Baker, Speke and Africa's third highest peak, Mount Stanley.

But last month, a micro-expedition led by London-based Danish photographer Klaus Thymann returned from Uganda with the best evidence yet that the 43 glaciers found and named in 1906 are still mostly there, but are in dire condition and can be expected to disappear in a decade or two.

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'Starving' Crown-of-Thorns Starfish in Mass Stranding

from BBC News Online

Hundreds of crown-of-thorns starfish found on a beach in southern Japan in January stranded themselves because they were starving, say researchers. More than 800 were discovered on a 300m stretch of sand on Ishigaki Island.

The starfish population "outbreak" was first identified in 2009, when masses of juveniles were seen feeding on the island's outer coral reef. The coral-eating starfish then took three years to move onto the beach where they perished.

The reason for the starfish population boom is not clear, but the strange behaviour has shown marine scientists what can happen when these slow-moving creatures completely deplete their food source. "The shortage of food, corals, is a probable cause of the stranding," said Go Suzuki from the Fisheries Research Agency, who witnessed the phenomenon from his research station. In a paper, published in the journal Coral Reefs, Mr. Suzuki and colleagues described how an area once covered with up to 60% coral was reduced to 1% by the voracious starfish.

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Amelia Earhart Distress Call Details Emerge

from Discovery News

Dozens of previously dismissed radio signals were actually credible transmissions from Amelia Earhart, according to a new study of the alleged post-loss signals from Earhart's plane. The transmissions started riding the air waves just hours after Earhart sent her last inflight message.

The study, presented on Friday at a three day conference by researchers of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), sheds new light on what may have happened to the legendary aviator 75 years ago. The researchers plan to start a high-tech underwater search for pieces of her aircraft next July.

"Amelia Earhart did not simply vanish on July 2, 1937. Radio distress calls believed to have been sent from the missing plane dominated the headlines and drove much of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy search," Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News.

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Biologists Construct Self-assembling Tiles of DNA

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

Harvard biologists have brought new meaning to the term "fine print" by devising microscopic tiles made of DNA that self-assemble into letters, Chinese characters, emoticons and other shapes.

More than mere doodling, their advance, detailed this week in the journal Nature, could make it easier and cheaper to build tiny DNA devices capable of delivering drugs or aiding the study of biochemistry, scientists said.

"This technique will accelerate the research field of DNA nanotechnology," said Ebbe Sloth Andersen, a researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark who collaborated on an editorial that accompanied the report.

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Milky Way, Andromeda Galaxies Set to Crash--in 4 Billion Years

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The Milky Way is set to collide with its closest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope said Thursday. Galactic residents need not brace for impact just yet, however: The predicted collision would take place in 4 billion years.

Andromeda, officially known as Messier 31, or M31, is located about 2.5 million light-years away from the Milky Way--which would make it our closest fellow spiral galaxy. Spiral galaxies have flat, rotating, disc-shaped bodies with spiral arms anchored by a supermassive black hole at the center.

"Because Andromeda is getting closer to us, astronomers have speculated for a long time whether it might collide with our Milky Way and whether the galaxies might merge together," said Roeland van der Marel, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. "However, to know if this will in fact happen, it's necessary to know not only how Andromeda is moving in our direction, but also what its sideways motion is. Because that will determine whether Andromeda will miss us at a distance--or whether it might be heading straight for us."

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Interrupting Prostate Cancer Treatment Could Shorten Life, Study Finds

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

CHICAGO -- Taking periodic breaks from a commonly used treatment for prostate cancer could shorten men's lives, researchers reported here [the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology] on Saturday.

In a large study, intermittent hormonal therapy proved to be less effective than continuous therapy for certain men with metastatic prostate cancer. The finding is "striking and surprising because it goes against the conventional belief," said Dr. Maha Hussain, professor of medicine and urology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and the lead investigator in the study.

Another study found that Johnson & Johnson's Zytiga, a pill now approved as a last-ditch treatment for prostate cancer, might help a broader group of patients if used somewhat earlier in the course of the disease. Use of Zytiga significantly delayed the worsening of cancer and also appeared to prolong lives, though more time is needed to determine that definitively.

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