Could a cure for cancer be hiding in the elephant’s genetic code?
The massive mammals have a much lower incidence of cancer than one would expect, given their size and long life span. It’s a phenomenon popularized by Oxford University epidemiologist Richard Peto, called Peto’s paradox, that larger animals have lower incidences of cancer, despite having exponentially more cells with the potential to mutate. Now, researchers believe they know why, and it could reap dividends for humans. Read More
There are no free rides into space, and NASA is taking every precaution to keep it that way.
NASA Wallops Flight Facility will soon launch a massive weather balloon carrying hardy bacteria into the stratosphere to study microbial freeloaders that might attempt to hitch a ride into space. While the launch has been delayed over the last two weeks due to unfavorable weather, the team anticipates a successful launch next week out of Fort Sumner, New Mexico. If it turns out terrestrial microorganisms can survive in the stratosphere’s extreme conditions, there’s a chance they could spoil the party if we ever discover life on another planet. Read More
A recently discovered rat has a face only a mother could love.
An international team of researchers studying animals in the isolated, mountainous island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, trapped a shrewlike critter with a distinctive pink snout on Mount Dako in 2013. As it turns out, the critter was previously unknown to science, and the team finally introduced the rest of the world to the newly discovered hog-nosed rat, Hyorhinomys stuempkei. Read More
In the last 30 years, the number of people with asthma has risen sharply in Western countries like the U.S. and Canada. Today, it’s the most common pediatric disease in the developed world, affecting over 300 million people worldwide – and now researchers say it may be influenced by four bacteria that live in our intestines.
Asthma is an immune-mediated illness, which means that it happens because something is wrong with the body’s normal immune response, but doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes it. Like other immune-mediated illnesses, asthma is partly genetic, but environmental factors also play a big role in whether someone develops the disease. Read More
The world land speed record is in serious jeopardy.
That’s because the Bloodhound SSC was unveiled to the world in its final form Thursday in London, and this supersonic chariot won’t just break the land speed record, it’s expected to obliterate it. The Bloodhound represents the collaborative efforts of more than 200 global companies as well as eight years of designing and manufacturing. The team’s efforts have yielded a rocket on wheels that could reach a speed of 1,000 miles per hour — shattering the current world record of 763 mph. Read More
Every object in the solar system casts a shadow. Large objects, like Earth, create big shadows that can engulf entire worlds, even if those worlds loom bigger than normal.
On the night of September 27/28, the Full Moon plunges through Earth’s shadow for the second time this year, and this time, it’s the biggest Full Moon of 2015. The resulting total lunar eclipse lasts more than an hour and occurs during the evening across the Americas.
It’s been nearly a decade since this female yellow-bellied water snake came in contact with a male snake, but it hasn’t stopped her from starting a family.
For the second time in as many summers, this snake at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in Missouri managed to give birth sans a male counterpart. These so-called “virgin births” aren’t what you’d call miracles, but they are certainly quite rare to see in snakes. Read More
If you used the word “failure” to describe SpaceX’s unsuccessful attempts to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating drone ship, you should probably play this web game.
SpaceX Falcon 9 Lander is a simple — in concept only — game that challenges you to guide a virtual Falcon 9 rocket onto a landing pad. It sounds easy, but it is maddeningly difficult. True, you aren’t guiding a $60 million hunk of rocketry like the folks at SpaceX, but the game serves as a vivid illustration of the monumental challenge the company has taken on. Read More
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do, unless, of course, you’re a hermaphroditic worm.
The free-living flatworm Macrostomum hystrix prefers to mate with others of its species; but if placed in isolation, the independent worm will do the nasty on its own for the sake of reproduction. Unfortunately, there’s still a price to pay for being a loner: In order to self-inseminate, worms have to inject sperm into their own heads. Read More
This is a science story with a happy ending, but oh boy was the intermission long.
In June 2013 a group of Stanford students attached two cameras and a cell phone to a weather balloon and sent it into the stratosphere. The team was shooting high-altitude video and measuring atmospheric conditions as part of a dissertation project. The launch itself was successful, but something went awry in the final stages, and the balloon’s payload was assumed to be forever lost somewhere in the Arizona desert.
Two years later, their lost experiment was discovered, and the footage is amazing. Read More