[syndicated profile] arstechnica_science_feed

Posted by Eric Berger

Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (credit: SpaceX)

Chances are, if you're a SpaceX employee, you've had a busy weekend. On Friday, the company successfully launched its second "used" Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now, two days later, the company will attempt to launch a new Falcon 9 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:24pm ET.

This is a fairly conventional launch for SpaceX except for one novelty, revealed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday night. After lifting 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to return to a droneship with a new, more durable set of grid fins, which help to stabilize the rocket as it descends back to Earth.

During prior missions these grid fins, manufactured from aluminum with added thermal protection, have caught fire due to atmospheric heating. To address this problem the company has forged new grid fins from titanium. "Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins," Musk tweeted. "Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding." The new fins are a bit heavier, but are designed for multiple re-uses as SpaceX seeks to more toward rapid reuse of its first stage booster.

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Great Orme Tramway, Llandudno

Jun. 25th, 2017 03:52 pm
loganberrybunny: Beware of Trains sign (Beware of Trains)
[personal profile] loganberrybunny

And at last I remember to post a photo from my Llandudno trip over a week ago! This is the Great Orme Tramway, the historic cable-hauled system that runs (surprisingly enough) up the Great Orme on the western side of the town's bay. It is, I believe, the only remaining street-running cable-hauled tramway in Europe outside Portugal. The cars are still the originals from 1902; I'm sitting in the back of one as it travels upward, and we've just crossed with No. 5 going in the opposite direction.

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Great Orme Tramway, Llandudno, June 2017

[syndicated profile] arstechnica_science_feed

Posted by Beth Mole

Enlarge / This Priest-Lange Reflectometer helps measure colors. It was inspired to help end a feud about the "yellowness" of margarine.

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—Visiting the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is always immeasurably fun. The agency’s headquarters—a green and sprawling 234-hectare campus, just a jaunt from Washington, DC—is studded with scientific wonders. There’s the building in which scientists repeatedly build other little buildings and then try to destroy them in blazing infernos. There’s the net-zero energy house. There’s a decades-old wall just for studying how different types of stone ages. And there’s the bunch of laboratories 12 meters below the ground on a structurally isolated floor that is cushioned by pneumatic air-springs which prevent any geological jostling from disturbing super-sensitive scientific instruments and the assembly of atomic structures. Last but not least are the scads of scientific gadgets, doodads, and data that scientists use to measure, study, and standardize our natural and manufactured world.

On a recent sweltering day in June, I headed to the administration building. It might sound boring, but this building houses the agency’s rich archive and museum of NIST treasures. Since that agency was founded in 1901—then called the National Bureau of Standards—NIST has amassed a collection of scientific instruments, objects, and historic artifacts unlike any other.

Perhaps the largest and most striking piece sits in the building’s lobby: a warped steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center. It’s overwhelmingly tall and as emotionally heavy as one might expect. But it’s also very curved. The once perfectly straight beam was sent to NIST so the agency’s scientists could help figure out why it lost its shape. It’s common for NIST to receive bits and pieces of national tragedies to understand and prevent them; the agency also has a critical piece of the Silver Bridge, which collapsed during rush hour in 1967, killing 46.

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[syndicated profile] sciencedaily_feed
Plastic with a thousand faces: A single piece of Nafion foil makes it possible to produce a broad palette of complex 3-D structures. Researchers now describe how they use simple chemical 'programming' to induce the foil to fold itself using origami and kirigami principles. These folds can be repeatedly 'erased' and the foil can be 'reprogrammed'.
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Posted by David Kravets

Alexandra Elbakyan.

Alexandra Elbakyan. (credit: Alexandra Elbakyan)

The operator of a searchable piracy site for scientific research papers has been ordered to pay $15 million as fallout from a US copyright infringement lawsuit brought by one of the world's leading scientific publishers, New York-based Elsevier.

The award doesn't mean the six-year-old Sci-Hub site is shuttering, though, despite being ordered to do so. The site has been engaged in a game of domain Whac-a-Mole ever since the case was filed in New York federal court nearly two years ago. And it doesn't mean that the millions of dollars in damages will get paid, either. The developer of the Pirate Bay-like site for academic research—Alexandra Elbakyan of Russia—has repeatedly said she wouldn't pay any award. She didn't participate in the court proceedings, either. US District Judge Robert Sweet issued a default judgement (PDF) against the site this week, but Sci-Hub remains online.

Elsevier markets itself as a leading provider of science, medical, and health "information solutions." The infringing activity is of its subscription database called "ScienceDirect." Elsevier claims ScienceDirect is "home to almost one-quarter of the world's peer-reviewed, full-text scientific, technical, and medical content."

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Toxins produced by three different species of fungus growing indoors on wallpaper may become aerosolized, and easily inhaled. The findings likely have implications for 'sick building syndrome.
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Researchers are getting more out of the sweat they've put into their work on a wearable diagnostic tool that measures three diabetes-related compounds in microscopic amounts of perspiration. In a study, the team describes their wearable diagnostic biosensor that can detect three interconnected compounds - cortisol, glucose and interleukin-6 - in perspired sweat for up to a week without loss of signal integrity.
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An anti-epileptic drug has been tested for its potential impact on the brain activity of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. The team documented changes in patients' EEGs that suggest the drug could have a beneficial effect.
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Posted by Beth Mole

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Chris Ryan)

Alphabet Inc.'s Google has now added personal medical records to the list of things it’s willing to remove from search results upon request.

Starting this week, individuals can ask Google to delete from search results “confidential, personal medical records of private people” that have been posted without consent. The quiet move, reported by Bloomberg, adds medical records to the short list of things that Google polices, including revenge porn, sites containing content that violates copyright laws, and those with personal financial information, including credit card numbers.

The policy change appears aptly timed. Earlier this month, a congressionally mandated task force—The Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force report—reported that all aspects of health IT security are in critical condition. And last month, the WannaCry ransomware worm affected 65 hospitals in the UK.

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[syndicated profile] sciencedaily_feed
Magnetic materials can be functionalized through a thoroughly unlikely method, report researchers: by adding amounts of the virtually non-magnetic element scandium to a gadolinium-germanium alloy.

Genes, ozone, and autism

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:55 pm
[syndicated profile] sciencedaily_feed
Exposure to ozone in the environment puts individuals with high levels of genetic variation at an even higher risk for developing autism than would be expected just by adding the two risk factors together, a new analysis shows. The study is the first to look at the combined effects of genome-wide genetic change and environmental risk factors for autism.
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Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off — suggests new research.
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Going for a walk outside, reading, listening to music — these and other enjoyable activities can reduce blood pressure for elderly caregivers of spouses with Alzheimer’s disease, suggests a study.
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A new research project starts this July after receiving a grant of over £450,000 from the Leverhulme Trust to explore the migrations of humans out of Africa.
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The recent measles outbreak in Minnesota has been a sobering reminder of how highly concentrated populations of vaccination skeptics can elevate an entire community's risk of infection. Around the edges of every headline-grabbing outbreak, there's a vast range of opinions being circulated about the risks and benefits of early childhood immunization. The vaccination debate maintains a constant presence on social media platforms. These varied viewpoints caught the attention of scientists who are conducting a three-year study on the ways online interactions influence our beliefs.
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When performed in tandem, two molecular biology laboratory tests distinguish, with near certainty, pancreatic lesions that mimic early signs of cancer but are completely benign. The lesions almost never progress to cancer, so patients may be spared unnecessary pancreatic cancer screenings or operations. The two-test combination is the only one to date that can accurately and specifically identify these benign pancreatic lesions.
[syndicated profile] sciencedaily_feed
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks. The guidelines are based on a scientific review by an international team of experts.
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Water bottles replicated in the traditional method used by Native Californian Indians reveal that the manufacturing process may have been detrimental to the health of these people.


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