science

March 10, 2019

The SpaceX commercial astronaut capsule has splashed down successfully in the Atlantic Ocean, marking a significant step in Nasa’s quest to resume manned space flight from the US. Footage of the landing shows the capsule hitting the water gently under four billowing red and white parachutes. A boat, the GO Searcher, was waiting to recover the capsule, which splashed down about 280 miles (450 km) from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

March 07, 2019

Two new academic papers, one published in The Astronomical Journal and the other in Physics Reports, present new evidence that a large, as yet undiscovered planet is lurking in the outer solar system. Both papers coincide with the three-year anniversary of an announcement by astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, both of Caltech, of their theory that a large, distant planet is responsible for the unique clustering of several Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) far beyond Neptune and Pluto. Specifically, these KBOs are in orbits perpendicular to the plane of the solar system.

March 07, 2019

An Albert Einstein "puzzle" has been solved thanks to a missing manuscript page emerging in a trove of his writings newly acquired by Jerusalem's Hebrew University, officials announced Wednesday. The handwritten page, part of an appendix to a 1930 paper on the Nobel winner's efforts towards a unified field theory, was discovered among the 110-page trove the university's Albert Einstein archives received some two weeks ago.

March 01, 2019

NASA has some good news, the world is a greener place today than it was 20 years ago. What prompted the change? Well, it appears China and India can take the majority of the credit. In contrast to the perception of China and India's willingness to overexploit land, water and resources for economic gain, the countries are responsible for the largest greening of the planet in the past two decades. The two most populous countries have implemented ambitious tree planting programs and scaled up their implementation and technology around agriculture.

February 27, 2019

China has been leaning on American know-how to build a sprawling surveillance program in Xinjiang province, according to the New York Times. Scientists working with Chinese police have been using equipment from Thermo Fisher, a supplier of biotechnology tools in Massachusetts. They also shared genetic survey data with Kenneth Kidd, a geneticist at Yale University. The genetic data was being used to be able to determine, from a blood sample, if someone had Uighur ancestry. Chinese scientists even filed a patent on the idea.

February 25, 2019

We still have no idea what 20 per cent of protein-coding genes are for. What’s more, we have stopped making progress, according to a study looking at what we know about yeast and human proteins. “Basically we really don’t have a clue,” says team leader Valerie Wood at the University of Cambridge.

February 24, 2019

23andMe hasn’t said if the move is designed to retain control over its data or in response to concerns about user privacy. The company had plans several years ago to launch an app store, according to two people familiar with the matter, but opted not to move forward with the project because of challenges with vetting third-party developers. At-home DNA testing companies have been at the center of a privacy firestorm in recent months.

February 24, 2019

A U.S. biotech company will no longer allow China to purchase equipment believed to have been used to help the ruling Communist Party create a DNA database of the country’s Uighur minority. China in recent years has been able to ramp up its controversial monitoring and detaining of the ethnic group mostly situation in the Xinjiang province with the "help of Americans", according to a New York Times report.

February 22, 2019

Droegemeier's message was aspirational, pledging to combat sexual harassment in science without giving any details and to ease federal regulations on research. He made passing mention of climate change, which many researchers see as the most pressing science-based issue of our time. And he said the key to future scientific preeminence isn't increased federal funding, but stronger collaborations among government, industry, academia, and private foundations.

February 21, 2019

Machine-learning techniques used by thousands of scientists to analyse data are producing results that are misleading and often completely wrong. Dr Genevera Allen from Rice University in Houston said that the increased use of such systems was contributing to a “crisis in science”. She warned scientists that if they didn’t improve their techniques they would be wasting both time and money. Her research was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

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