Nell Greenfieldboyce http://hppr.org en Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin' http://hppr.org/post/scientists-spot-planet-looks-earths-cousin Scientists who have been hunting for another Earth beyond our solar system have come across a planet that's remarkably similar to our world.<p>It's almost the same size as Earth, and it orbits in its star's "Goldilocks zone" — where temperatures are not too hot, not too cold, and maybe just right for life.<p>But a lot about this planet is going to remain a mystery, because it's 500 light-years away.<p>Researchers detected the planet while poring over data collected by <a href="http://kepler.nasa.gov/">NASA's Kepler Space Telescope</a>. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:02:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 30600 at http://hppr.org Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin' Climate Change Adjustments Must Be Fast And Major, U.N. Panel Says http://hppr.org/post/climate-change-adjustments-must-be-fast-and-large-un-panel-says A new report from the United Nations' panel on climate change says major action is needed, and fast, if policymakers want to limit global warming to acceptable levels.<p>There's an international target to control climate change: keeping the global temperature rise to just 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The <a href="http://mitigation2014.org/">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a> now says it's technically possible to meet that goal. Sun, 13 Apr 2014 13:40:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 30407 at http://hppr.org Climate Change Adjustments Must Be Fast And Major, U.N. Panel Says Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious http://hppr.org/post/scientists-publish-recipe-making-bird-flu-more-contagious The Dutch virologist accused of engineering a dangerous superflu a few years ago is back with more contentious research.<p>In 2011, <a href="http://www.erasmusmc.nl/MScMM/faculty/CVs/fouchier_cv?lang=en">Ron Fouchier</a> and his team at Erasmus Medical Center took the H5N1 flu virus and made it more contagious. Now the team has published another study with more details on the exact genetic changes needed to do the trick.<p>The <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/146924995/h5n1">H5N1</a> bird flu is known to have sickened 650 people worldwide, and of those, 386 died. Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:06:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 30293 at http://hppr.org Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious Smithsonian's Air And Space Museum To Get $30 Million Spiffier http://hppr.org/post/smithsonians-air-and-space-museum-get-30-million-spiffier Throngs of museum-goers mill through the grand entrance hall of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., every day, gawking at such treasures as the Apollo 11 capsule that carried Neil Armstrong's crew to the moon and back, as well as Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:45:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 29985 at http://hppr.org Smithsonian's Air And Space Museum To Get $30 Million Spiffier Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel http://hppr.org/post/ethicists-tell-nasa-how-weigh-hazards-space-travel NASA is hoping to soon venture out farther into space than ever before. Wed, 02 Apr 2014 15:23:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 29927 at http://hppr.org Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits http://hppr.org/post/new-dwarf-planet-found-solar-systems-outer-limits Scientists have spotted a new dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system. It's a kind of pink ice ball that's way out there, far beyond Pluto.<p>Astronomers used to think this region of space was a no man's land. But the <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/dwarf-planet-stretches-solar-system-s-edge-1.14921#/ref-link-1">new findings</a> suggest that it holds many small worlds — and there are even hints of an unseen planet bigger than Earth.<p>"We used to think there's just not much out there. Wed, 26 Mar 2014 19:01:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 29633 at http://hppr.org New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits Space Thief Or Hero? One Man's Quest To Reawaken An Old Friend http://hppr.org/post/space-thief-or-hero-one-mans-quest-reawaken-old-friend More than 30 years ago, Robert Farquhar stole a spacecraft.<p>Now he's trying to give it back.<p>The green satellite, covered with solar panels, is hurtling back toward the general vicinity of Earth, after nearly three decades of traveling in a large, looping orbit around the sun.<p>If Farquhar, a former mission design specialist for NASA, gets his way, the agency will command the spacecraft to fire its thrusters, veer close to the moon, and slip back into the spot where it was intended to be when it was launched in 1978 — and where it was when Farquhar and his accomplices "borrowed" it.<p>Bac Tue, 18 Mar 2014 09:02:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 29240 at http://hppr.org Space Thief Or Hero? One Man's Quest To Reawaken An Old Friend At 4.4 Billion Years Old, Oz Crystals Confirmed As World's Oldest http://hppr.org/post/44-billion-years-old-oz-crystals-confirmed-worlds-oldest Scientists have used a powerful new technique to prove that some tiny crystals found in Western Australia are indeed the oldest known materials formed on Earth.<p>Back in 2001, scientists reported that one of the zircon crystals was about 4.4 billion years old — so old that not everyone believed it.<p>"There have been challenges, because nothing in science goes without being questioned. Mon, 24 Feb 2014 08:27:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 28344 at http://hppr.org At 4.4 Billion Years Old, Oz Crystals Confirmed As World's Oldest Robot Construction Workers Take Their Cues From Termites http://hppr.org/post/robot-construction-workers-take-their-cues-termites Termites can build huge, elaborate mounds that rise up from the ground like insect skyscrapers; scientists have now created little robots that act like termites to build a made-to-order structure.<p>"Termites are the real masters of construction in the insect world," says <a href="http://people.seas.harvard.edu/~jkwerfel/">Justin Werfel</a> of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 19:06:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 27952 at http://hppr.org Robot Construction Workers Take Their Cues From Termites Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research http://hppr.org/post/drugmakers-and-nih-band-together-speed-research The National Institutes of Health is teaming up with major drug companies in a new effort to identify disease-related molecules and biological processes that could lead to future medicines.<p>The public-private partnership is called <a href="http://www.nih.gov/science/amp/index.htm">AMP</a>, for the "Accelerating Medicines Partnership," and it will focus first on Alzheimer's disease, Type 2 diabetes, and two autoimmune disorders: rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.<p>This is a five-year, $230 million venture. NIH is splitting the cost with industry. Tue, 04 Feb 2014 20:30:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 27571 at http://hppr.org Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth http://hppr.org/post/ancient-plagues-dna-revived-1500-year-old-tooth Scientists have reconstructed the genetic code of a strain of bacteria that caused one of the most deadly pandemics in history nearly 1,500 years ago.<p>They did it by finding the skeletons of people killed by the plague and extracting DNA from traces of blood inside their teeth.<p>This plague struck in the year 541, under the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, so it's usually called the <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22767313">Justinian plague</a>. The emperor actually got sick himself but recovered. Wed, 29 Jan 2014 07:59:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 27306 at http://hppr.org Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth Grand Canyon May Be Older (And Younger) Than You Think http://hppr.org/post/grand-canyon-may-be-older-and-younger-you-think In recent years geologists have hotly debated the age of the Grand Canyon. Some think it's young (just 6 million years old), while others argue that it dates back 70 million years — to the days of dinosaurs.<p>Now one group says the Grand Canyon is neither young nor old. Instead, these geologists say, it's both.<p>In the journal <em>Nature Geoscience</em>, <a href="http://epswww.unm.edu/facstaff/kek1/">Karl Karlstrom</a>, of the University of New Mexico, and some colleagues describe a new creation story for the Grand Canyon. Mon, 27 Jan 2014 08:33:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 27214 at http://hppr.org Grand Canyon May Be Older (And Younger) Than You Think There She Blew! Volcanic Evidence Of The World's First Map http://hppr.org/post/there-she-blew-volcanic-evidence-worlds-first-map A new study of volcanic rocks suggests that an ancient mural may indeed depict an erupting volcano, adding new weight to a theory that this image is a contender for the world's oldest known landscape painting or map.<p>The mural was found at a vast archaeological site in central Turkey known as <a href="http://www.catalhoyuk.com/">Catalhoyuk</a>. This Neolithic town goes back 9,000 years and was a huge settlement for a time when people were first transitioning from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies. Thu, 09 Jan 2014 09:30:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 26546 at http://hppr.org There She Blew! Volcanic Evidence Of The World's First Map Bon Voyage, Voyager: Old Friends Take Stock http://hppr.org/post/bon-voyage-voyager-old-friends-take-stock For the scientists who have emotionally traveled with NASA's Voyager mission for decades, 2013 will be remembered as the year they knew Voyager 1 had finally become the first explorer from Earth to enter the mysterious realm of interstellar space.<p>Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, both blasted off in 1977, more than 35 years ago. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter, then Saturn — and then on toward the unknown region that lies between stars.<p><a href="http://cassini-mimi.jhuapl.edu/SMK_BriefBiography_19-051.htm">Tom Krimigis</a>, 75, works at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab. Tue, 31 Dec 2013 08:26:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 26202 at http://hppr.org Bon Voyage, Voyager: Old Friends Take Stock Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo http://hppr.org/post/screening-newborns-disease-can-leave-families-limbo For Matthew and Brianne Wojtesta, it all started about a week after the birth of their daughter Vera. Matthew was picking up his son from kindergarten when he got a phone call.<p>It was their pediatrician, with some shocking news. Vera had been flagged by New York's <a href="http://www.wadsworth.org/newborn/krabbe.htm">newborn screening program</a> as possibly having a potentially deadly disease, and would need to go see a neurologist the next day.<p>Like every state, New York requires that newborns get a small heel prick so that a few drops of blood can be sent to a lab for testing. Mon, 23 Dec 2013 08:46:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 25923 at http://hppr.org Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo Polar Bear Researcher Gets $100,000 In Settlement With Feds http://hppr.org/post/polar-bear-researcher-gets-100000-settlement-feds A scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears raised alarms about climate change has received $100,000 to settle a whistle-blower complaint against an agency of the Department of the Interior.<p>Under the settlement, wildlife researcher Charles Monnett retired from his job at the federal <a href="http://www.boem.gov/">Bureau of Ocean Energy Management</a> on Nov. 15, and the agency agreed to remove a letter of reprimand that officials had placed in his file.<p>"Well, it's over, in the sense that my relationship with the department and the federal government is over," says Monnett. Wed, 04 Dec 2013 05:03:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 25117 at http://hppr.org Polar Bear Researcher Gets $100,000 In Settlement With Feds Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops http://hppr.org/post/bacterial-competition-lab-shows-evolution-never-stops Evolution is relentless process that seems to keep going and going, even when creatures live in a stable, unchanging world.<p>That's the latest surprise from a unique experiment that's been underway for more than a quarter-century.<p>Evolution is so important for biology, medicine and a general understanding of our world that scientists want to understand it as fully as possible. That's why, in 1988, biologist <a href="http://myxo.css.msu.edu/BioSketch.html">Richard Lenski</a> took a dozen glass flasks and added identical bacteria to each of them. Thu, 14 Nov 2013 19:44:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 24342 at http://hppr.org Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops Old Dogs, New Data: Canines May Have Been Domesticated In Europe http://hppr.org/post/old-dogs-new-data-canines-may-have-been-domesticated-europe Scientists have used some new tricks and old dogs to show that thousands of years ago, wolves may have first become man's best friend in Europe.<p>Researchers extracted DNA from ancient wolf or dog fossils and compared it with DNA from modern dog breeds and wolves. Until recently, labs didn't have the kind of genetic tools they'd need to work with such old dog DNA and do this kind of detailed comparison.<p>One surprise is that most domestic dogs are more closely related to ancient wolves than modern wolves. Thu, 14 Nov 2013 19:02:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 24321 at http://hppr.org Old Dogs, New Data: Canines May Have Been Domesticated In Europe Galaxy Quest: Just How Many Earth-Like Planets Are Out There? http://hppr.org/post/galaxy-quest-just-how-many-earth-planets-are-out-there A team of planet hunters estimates that about 22 percent of the sun-like stars in our galaxy may have planets about the size of Earth that are bathed in similar amounts of sunlight — and potentially habitable.<p>That's the conclusion of a new analysis of observations taken by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009 to hunt for potentially habitable Earth-like planets around other stars.<p>Kepler's goal was to find out if planets like Earth were cosmic rarities or a common occurrence. Tue, 05 Nov 2013 08:01:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 23880 at http://hppr.org Galaxy Quest: Just How Many Earth-Like Planets Are Out There? The Tail's The Tell: Dog Wags Can Mean Friend Or Foe http://hppr.org/post/tails-tell-dog-wags-can-mean-friend-or-foe Dogs can pick up emotional cues from another dog by watching the direction of its wagging tail, a new study suggests.<p>In a series of lab experiments, dogs got anxious when they saw an image of a dog wagging its tail to its left side. But when they saw a dog wagging its tail to its right side, they stayed relaxed.<p>This isn't the first time scientists have shown that the direction of a wagging tail can be linked to doggy emotions. Fri, 01 Nov 2013 07:19:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 23727 at http://hppr.org The Tail's The Tell: Dog Wags Can Mean Friend Or Foe Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin http://hppr.org/post/why-scientists-held-back-details-unique-botulinum-toxin Scientists have discovered the first new form of botulinum toxin in over 40 years, but they're taking the unusual step of keeping key details about it secret.<p>That's because <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/botulism.html">botulinum toxin</a> is one of the most poisonous substances known. Wed, 09 Oct 2013 21:52:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 22745 at http://hppr.org Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin Shutdown Forces Antarctic Research Into 'Caretaker Status' http://hppr.org/post/shutdown-forces-antarctic-research-caretaker-status Earlier this week we told you that scientists who do research in Antarctica have been on pins and needles, worried that the government shutdown <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/10/07/230170093/even-antarctica-feels-the-effects-of-the-government-shutdown">would effectively cancel all of their planned field work</a> this year.<p>Well, those scientists just got the news they didn't want to hear.<p>Today, officials at the U.S. Antarctic Program <a href="http://www.usap.gov/usapgov/">posted a statement online</a> saying they are moving to "caretaker" status at the three U.S. Tue, 08 Oct 2013 20:27:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 22683 at http://hppr.org Shutdown Forces Antarctic Research Into 'Caretaker Status' Even Antarctica Feels Effects Of The Government Shutdown http://hppr.org/post/even-antarctica-feels-effects-government-shutdown It looks like even Antarctica isn't far away enough to avoid getting caught up in the government shutdown.<p>That's because it's currently springtime there, and scientists who study this remote, rugged continent are poised to take advantage of the few months when there's enough daylight and it's warm enough to work. Mon, 07 Oct 2013 21:56:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 22638 at http://hppr.org Even Antarctica Feels Effects Of The Government Shutdown Want To Read Others' Thoughts? Try Reading Literary Fiction http://hppr.org/post/want-read-others-thoughts-try-reading-literary-fiction Your ability to "read" the thoughts and feelings of others could be affected by the kind of fiction you read.<p>That's the conclusion of a <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/10/02/science.1239918.abstract">study</a> in the journal <em>Science</em> that gave tests of social perception to people who were randomly assigned to read excerpts from literary fiction, popular fiction or nonfiction.<p>On average, people who read parts of more literary books like <em>The Round House</em> by Louise Erdrich did better on those tests than people who read either nothing, read nonfiction or Fri, 04 Oct 2013 21:24:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 22534 at http://hppr.org Want To Read Others' Thoughts? Try Reading Literary Fiction From Therapy Dogs To New Patients, Federal Shutdown Hits NIH http://hppr.org/post/therapy-dogs-new-patients-shutdown-affects-nih Abbey Whetzel has a 12-year-old son named Sam who has been at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland for over a month. He has leukemia that is no longer treatable. And in this difficult time, one source of joy has been the therapy dogs that come to visit the sick kids.<p>"They can only come once a week, but it's the highlight of Sam's week," says Whetzel. But this week, she says, her son got some bad news. "They came and stopped in, and told Sam that the therapy dog wouldn't be coming because of the government shutdown."<p>"He was disappointed," Whetzel says. Thu, 03 Oct 2013 09:17:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 22449 at http://hppr.org From Therapy Dogs To New Patients, Federal Shutdown Hits NIH Sand From Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk To Workers http://hppr.org/post/sand-fracking-could-pose-lung-disease-risk-workers When workplace safety expert Eric Esswein got a chance to see fracking in action not too long ago, what he noticed was all the dust.<p>It was coming off big machines used to haul around huge loads of sand. The sand is a critical part of the hydraulic fracturing method of oil and gas extraction. After workers drill down into rock, they create fractures in that rock by pumping in a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. Thu, 28 Mar 2013 21:12:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 14079 at http://hppr.org Sand From Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk To Workers Feds Set New Rules For Controversial Bird Flu Research http://hppr.org/post/feds-set-new-rules-controversial-bird-flu-research Government-funded scientists here in the U.S. are a step closer to being able to resume some controversial experiments with lab-altered bird flu viruses.<p>Researchers in the Netherlands restarted their experiments a week ago, after scientists around the world <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/01/23/170072436/scientists-put-an-end-to-moratorium-on-bird-flu-research">declared</a> an end in January to a year-long voluntary moratorium. Fri, 22 Feb 2013 00:16:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 12648 at http://hppr.org Feds Set New Rules For Controversial Bird Flu Research Close Shave: Asteroid To Buzz Earth Next Week http://hppr.org/post/close-shave-asteroid-buzz-earth-next-week An asteroid the size of an office building will zoom close by Earth next week, but it's not on a collision course, NASA says.<p>Still, some people think this near-miss should serve as a wake-up call.<p>"It's a warning shot across our bow that we are flying around the solar system in a shooting gallery," says Ed Lu, a former astronaut and head of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting humanity from asteroids.<p>The asteroid known as 2012 DA14 was first spotted last year by astronomers in Spain. Fri, 08 Feb 2013 08:35:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 12079 at http://hppr.org Close Shave: Asteroid To Buzz Earth Next Week Silica Rule Changes Delayed While Workers Face Health Risks http://hppr.org/post/silica-rule-changes-delayed-while-workers-face-health-risks <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHwvKKQ5WtI</p> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 08:31:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 12031 at http://hppr.org Silica Rule Changes Delayed While Workers Face Health Risks Scientists Put An End To Moratorium On Bird Flu Research http://hppr.org/post/scientists-put-end-moratorium-bird-flu-research Controversial experiments on bird flu could resume within weeks because leading influenza researchers around the world have finally called a halt to an unusual moratorium that has lasted more than a year.<p>The voluntary pause in the research started back in January 2012. Wed, 23 Jan 2013 20:35:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 11448 at http://hppr.org Scientists Put An End To Moratorium On Bird Flu Research