Aspirin May Help Prevent Skin Cancer

By Ben Thomas | December 18, 2014 11:03 am


We all know the risks of with spending too much time in the sun. Ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of skin cancer, which is why we – or at least, the more cautious among us – put on sunscreen before we set off on an extended outing.

But it turns out there’s another preventative measure that can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer, one you may already be taking. A new study reports that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include such common drugs as ibuprofen and aspirin, can reduce a person’s likelihood of a certain type of skin cancer by 18 percent.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: cancer

Methane on Mars Could Signal Alien Life

By Carl Engelking | December 17, 2014 3:07 pm
The Mars Curiosity rover detected a spike of methane on the Red Planet. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The Mars Curiosity rover detected a spike of methane on the Red Planet. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Is there life on Mars?

That eternal question almost seems cliché in space exploration circles, but, nonetheless, we’re still waiting with bated breath for an answer. While it’s not time to exhale just yet, NASA’s Curiosity rover has sniffed out methane in Mars’ atmosphere. And that means that something, whether living or not, is actively creating the gas on Mars. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: mars, space exploration

Microbes on Pubic Hair Could Help Solve Sexual Crimes

By Carl Engelking | December 16, 2014 2:17 pm


Forensic specialists may have a new tool to catch perpetrators of sexual assault  and it is courtesy of the microbiome.

The microbiome, the community of bacteria and viruses that live on and inside the human body, has been a fruitful area of recent research. For instance, studies have linked our helpful army of microbes with our likelihood of obesity and our ability to metabolize certain sugars. The recent Human Microbiome Project categorized thousands of different strains of bacteria that live on us. And now, researchers believe, the microbes on pubic hair could help solve sexual crimes.

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NASA Proves It’s “All About That Space”

By Carl Engelking | December 12, 2014 12:05 pm

NASA took a big first step toward sending humans to deep space last week, and now they’re proving rocket scientists can dance. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

Rosetta: Earth’s Water Didn’t Come from Comets

By Carl Engelking | December 11, 2014 1:29 pm

Comet 67P as seen by the Rosetta probe. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Europe’s Rosetta mission has only been in orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for a few months but it’s already shed light on one of the central questions it was launched, ten years ago, to answer: Where did Earth’s water come from?

Based on evidence of the comet’s water, Rosetta scientists announced this week that it adds evidence that, contrary to prevailing theory, comets didn’t supply Earth with its water. The new findings instead suggest that asteroids were the likely bearers of life-giving H2O on our planet. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Oldest Horned Dinosaur in North American Discovered

By Carl Engelking | December 10, 2014 1:00 pm

An artist’s reconstruction of Aquilops in its environment in ancient Montana. (Copyright Brian Engh, courtesy of Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology)

Big things sometimes come in small packages, and that was certainly the case for a recent fossil finding in the United States.

Paleontologists working in southern Montana unearthed a 3-inch beaked skull with pointed cheeks, which they believe is the oldest definitive evidence of a horned dinosaur in North America. Though small, the skull helps fill gaps in the evolutionary history of horned creatures on this continent.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: dinosaurs, paleontology

Fish Perfume Themselves With Coral as Smell-Camouflage

By Bethany Hubbard | December 10, 2014 11:18 am

harlequin filefish

Evolution has produced some masterful solutions for animals to avoid predation. Look no further than the camouflage abilities of the dead leaf butterfly, the flower mantis, or the freaky vanishing octopus for proof.

But, a new study takes trickery to a whole new level. Researchers have discovered that the tropical harlequin filefish camouflages its scent by eating the coral it lives on, so as to blend into the olfactory background. It’s the first time a vertebrate animal has been found to practice such smell-deception.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Passes Its First Test

By Carl Engelking | December 4, 2014 6:00 am

Orion awaits its test flight on the launchpad. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett


Update (Friday, Dec. 5): At 11:29 a.m. Eastern Time NASA’s experimental Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, and in the process ushered in a new era of space exploration in the United States.

After launching at 7:05 a.m., the unmanned Orion spacecraft raced 3,630 miles above the Earth’s surface and into the Van Allen belt — a radiation cloud shrouding the planet. The entire journey lasted just over 4 hours, and Orion reentered the atmosphere reaching a speed of 20,000 miles per hour before deploying a series of parachutes to ensure a soft landing.

It’s the highest any human-grade spacecraft has traveled in over four decades. Although Orion took radiation measurements in the Van Allen belt, the mission’s biggest success is that everything worked to near perfection. That’s a big win for NASA, since Orion is the craft that could someday taxi humans to an asteroid or even Mars.

Update (Thursday, Dec. 4): The first step toward sending humans to Mars will have to wait another day. NASA on Thursday announced that it had scrapped the launch of Orion, which was originally scheduled for 7:05 a.m. Eastern Time Thursday. Wind gusts and a valve issue forced the agency to postpone. The next possible launch window will open at 7:05 a.m. Friday. 

NASA wants to get back in the business of sending astronauts into deep space, including Mars. Today will be a big test for fulfilling those aspirations.

At 7:05 a.m. Eastern Time, NASA launched the first test flight of its Orion spacecraft — the chariot that could taxi astronauts to the Red Planet and beyond by the late 2030s. On its unmanned inaugural journey, scientists hope to learn more about the craft’s safety systems and durability. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration

This Electricity-Free Air Conditioner Sends Heat Into Space

By Carl Engelking | December 2, 2014 3:07 pm


During the dog days of summer, the monthly utility bill for an air-conditioned home can induce more perspiration than the temperature does. But could we cut the cord and cool our homes without using electricity or water?

Aaswath Raman and his colleagues at Stanford University say that we can. Raman’s team has created an experimental material that sends excess heat into outer space — no fans, refrigerants or compressors needed.

With 15 percent of electricity in U.S. buildings dedicated to keeping things cool, Raman’s cooling method could someday put a real dent in energy consumption on a global scale.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Technology
MORE ABOUT: energy, nanotechnology

Unlike Humans, Monkeys Aren’t Fooled By Expensive Brands

By Ben Thomas | December 2, 2014 3:00 pm

wine shopping

You’ve just won a free bottle of wine! Would you like a $10 bottle or a $100 bottle? Which one do you think will taste better?

The answers to these questions seem glaringly obvious to us – but to our primate cousins, “more expensive” doesn’t mean “better.” That’s what a team of researchers led by Yale psychologist Laurie Santos discovered when they sent a group of monkeys on a shopping spree.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

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