If you headed outside this Labor Day weekend, besides seeing that second blue moon of the month, just look up at the sky, would you believe that about half of those stars you see are actually two stars or more, the kind of double star system that's quite common? And this week, astronomers reported on the discovery of a planetary system orbiting such a binary star, two planets orbiting two suns. It's called Kepler-47 after the Kepler planet-hunting mission that spotted it.
On March 16, 1966, a potentially fatal problem gripped the Gemini 8 space capsule. Orbiting high above the Earth, it began spinning out of control. Spiraling towards unconsciousness and, perhaps, death, Neil Armstrong shut down the malfunctioning thrusters and wrestled Gemini back to stability. This was neither the first nor the last time that Neil Armstrong had escaped disaster. As an Naval pilot in Korea, he managed to guide a bullet-ridden aircraft, missing three feet of wing, back to friendly territory.
Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 2:04 pm
How a cucumber creates its curling tendril has stumped scientists for centuries, including Charles Darwin and Asa Gray. With the help of time-lapse photography and prosthetic tendril fabricated in the lab, physicist Sharon Gerbode, biologist Joshua Puzey and colleagues figured out why tendrils twist, according to a new study in Science.
Scientists in Germany have been able to get enough DNA from a fossilized pinky to produce a high-quality DNA sequence of the pinky's owner.
"It's a really amazing-quality genome," says David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston. "It's as good as modern human genome sequences, from a lot of ways of measuring it."
The pinky belonged to a girl who lived tens of thousands of years ago. Scientists aren't sure about the exact age. She is a member of an extinct group of humans called Denisovans. The name comes from Denisova cave in Siberia, where the pinky was found.
Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 11:58 am
Do vegetarians and vegans think they are better than the rest of us? Judging from personal experience, a good number of people who aren't vegetarian or vegan would offer a resounding "Yes" to this question.
Those individuals who publicly tout eating no meat, especially when their stated reason has to do with caring about animals, are thought to be telegraphing a message of superiority: My dietary choices make me a better person than you.
Two Missouri farmers have been infected with a brand-new tick-borne virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the Heartland virus.
The men recovered but suffered serious illness that required hospital care and weeks of convalescence. Symptoms included fever, severe fatigue, headache and nausea. Their platelet counts plummeted, but even though platelets are necessary for blood clotting, the men didn't suffer abnormal bleeding.
Isaac might not be in the same league as Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, but the latest storm to batter Louisiana's Gulf Coast is punching above its weight class in more ways than one, scientists say.