Nell Greenfieldboyce http://kplu.org en Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin' http://kplu.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 19:03:59 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 16113 at http://kplu.org Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin' Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious http://kplu.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 20:22:21 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 15902 at http://kplu.org Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel http://kplu.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 17:13:11 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 15604 at http://kplu.org Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits http://kplu.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 19:30:58 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 15342 at http://kplu.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://kplu.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 17:35:46 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 14991 at http://kplu.org Space Thief Or Hero? One Man's Quest To Reawaken An Old Friend If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium http://kplu.org/post/if-yellowstone-could-talk-it-might-squeak-blame-helium A huge amount of ancient helium is rising up from the rocks beneath Yellowstone National Park — about enough to fill up a Goodyear blimp every week.<p>The gas comes from a vast store of helium that's accumulated in the Earth's crust for hundreds of millions of years, scientists report in the journal <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7488/full/nature12992.html">Nature</a> this week.<p>The helium is being released because in the past couple of million years — very recently, in geologic time — that old part of the crust has been feeling the heat from a huge volcano that is now s Wed, 19 Feb 2014 21:52:23 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 13835 at http://kplu.org If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research http://kplu.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 20:48:44 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 13226 at http://kplu.org Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research Grand Canyon May Be Older (And Younger) Than You Think http://kplu.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 17:31:03 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 12919 at http://kplu.org Grand Canyon May Be Older (And Younger) Than You Think In Search For Habitable Planets, Why Stop At 'Earth-Like'? http://kplu.org/post/search-habitable-planets-why-stop-earth In their hunt for potentially habitable planets around distant stars, scientists have been so focused on finding Earth-like planets that they're ignoring the possibility that other kinds of planets might be even friendlier to life, a new report says.<p>So-called superhabitable worlds wouldn't necessarily look like Earth but would nonetheless have conditions that are more suitable for life to emerge and evolve, according to the <a href="http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ast.2013.1088">study</a> published this month in the journal <em>Astrobiology</em>.<p>"In my point of view, astrono Thu, 16 Jan 2014 20:41:53 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 12659 at http://kplu.org In Search For Habitable Planets, Why Stop At 'Earth-Like'? Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo http://kplu.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 18:12:47 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 12022 at http://kplu.org Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin http://kplu.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 22:27:11 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 10370 at http://kplu.org Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin Even Antarctica Feels Effects Of The Government Shutdown http://kplu.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 22:11:19 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 10321 at http://kplu.org Even Antarctica Feels Effects Of The Government Shutdown Sand From Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk To Workers http://kplu.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. Fri, 29 Mar 2013 17:18:15 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 8214 at http://kplu.org Sand From Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk To Workers When fetuses yawn in the womb http://kplu.org/post/when-fetuses-yawn-womb Why people yawn is a mystery. Wed, 21 Nov 2012 23:11:56 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 7185 at http://kplu.org When fetuses yawn in the womb Move Over, Parrot: Elephant Mimics Trainer At Zoo http://kplu.org/post/hello-elephant-mimics-human-speech-zoo Scientists say an Asian elephant at a South Korean zoo can imitate human speech, saying five Korean words that are readily understood by people who speak the language.<p>The male elephant, named Koshik, invented an unusual method of sound production that involves putting his trunk in his mouth and manipulating his vocal tract.<p>"This is not the kind of sound that Asian elephants normally make, and it's a dead-on match of the speech of his trainers," says Tecumseh Fitch of the University of Vienna in Austria.<p>Many birds are excellent vocal mimics, but this isn't common among mammals.<p>Human Fri, 02 Nov 2012 04:38:32 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 6932 at http://kplu.org Move Over, Parrot: Elephant Mimics Trainer At Zoo