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+ - China is keen to send its own mission to Mars in the wake of India's Mangalyaan->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "The recent arrival into Mars orbit of both NASA’s MAVEN and India’s Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Mission has not escaped the notice of China, according to a Thursday story in Xinhua. The achievement of its Asian rival has especially proven galling to the Chinese. China has yet to successfully send a space probe beyond the moon. The development has elicited calls in Beijing to accelerate China’s Mars program.

China currently plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020 and, perhaps, do a Mars sample return mission in 2030. However, it feels that India, which China regards as its rival in an Asian space race, has stolen a march and has left the Chinese behind. China is now keen to try to play catchup with its own Mars mission.

One of the hold ups for a Chinese interplanetary exploration program is the delays surrounding the development of the Long March 5 rocket, which will be roughly the equivalent of the America Delta IV in its capabilities. The Chinese launch vehicle has slipped to at least 2015 because of the technological challenges it faces. The Long March 5 is also needed to launch the 20 ton modules of the Chinese space station, currently planned for later this decade."

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+ - Dying brain cells cue new brain cells to grow in songbird

Submitted by vinces99
vinces99 (2792707) writes "Brain cells that multiply to help birds sing their best during breeding season are known to die back naturally later in the year. For the first time researchers have described the series of events that cues new neuron growth each spring, and it all appears to start with a signal from the expiring cells the previous fall that primes the brain to start producing stem cells.

If scientists can further tap into the process and understand how those signals work, it might lead to ways to exploit these signals and encourage replacement of cells in human brains that have lost neurons naturally because of aging, severe depression or Alzheimer’s disease, said Tracy Larson, a University of Washington doctoral student in biology. She’s lead author of a paper in the Sept. 23 Journal of Neuroscience on brain cell birth that follows natural brain cell death.

Neuroscientists have long known that new neurons are generated in the adult brains of many animals, but the birth of new neurons – or neurogenesis – appears to be limited in mammals and humans, especially where new neurons are generated after there’s been a blow to the head, stroke or some other physical loss of brain cells, Larson said. That process, referred to as “regenerative” neurogenesis, has been studied in mammals since the 1990s. This is the first published study to examine the brain’s ability to replace cells that have been lost naturally, Larson said."

+ - Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Diagnosed with high blood pressure? If so, you were probably told to moderate or avoid the use salt in your food. Well, a new study (abstract found that salt is not associated with systolic blood pressure after controlling for other factors. The study found that BMI, age, and alcohol consumption all strongly influenced blood pressure, and concluded that maintaining a healthy body weight was the best way to counteract it. The publication of this research follows a CDC report from Tuesday decrying the amount of salt in children's diets — a report that lists high blood pressure as one of its main concerns. The debate on this issue is far from over, and it'll take years to sort out all the contradictory evidence."
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+ - Universal Big Bang Lithium Deficit Confirmed

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "New observations of the star cluster Messier 54 show that it is just as deficient in lithium as our own galaxy, furthering a mystery about the element's big bang origins. "Most of the light chemical element lithium now present in the Universe was produced during the Big Bang, along with hydrogen and helium, but in much smaller quantities. Astronomers can calculate quite accurately how much lithium they expect to find in the early Universe, and from this work out how much they should see in old stars. But the numbers don’t match — there is about three times less lithium in stars than expected. This mystery remains unsolved, despite several decades of work.""

+ - Cuba calculates cost of 54yr US embargo at $1.1tn

Submitted by ltorvalds11
ltorvalds11 (3774511) writes "Cuba says its economy is suffering a “systematic worsening” due to a US embargo, the consequences of which Havana places at $1.1 trillion since Washington imposed the sanctions in 1960, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against gold.
“There is not, and there has not been in the world, such a terrorizing and vile violation of human rights of an entire people than the blockade that the US government has been leading against Cuba for 55 years,” Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno told reporters.
He also blamed the embargo for the difficulties in accessing internet on the island, saying that the United States creates an obstacle for companies providing broadband services in Cuba. Additionally, he said that the area is one of the "most sensitive" to the embargo, with economic losses estimated at $34.2 million. It is also the sector that has fallen "victim of all kinds of attacks" by the US, as violations of the Cuban radio or electronic space “promote destabilization" of Cuban society, the report notes.
The damage to Cuban foreign trade between April 2013 and June 2014 amounted to $3.9 billion, the report said. Without the embargo, Cuba could have earned $205.8 million selling products such as rum and cigars to US consumers.
Barack Obama last week signed the one-year extension of the embargo on Cuba, based on the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, created to restrict trade with countries hostile to the US."

+ - Electric Stimulation Could Help You Control Your Dreams->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new study suggests that mild current applied to the scalp while sleeping can help people become aware of, and even control, their dreams—a phenomenon called lucid dreaming. Researchers recruited 27 men and women to spend several nights in a German sleep lab. After the volunteers had plunged into REM sleep, a state in which people are unable to move and the most vividly recalled dreams occur, researchers applied electrical current to their skulls near the forehead and temples. This boosted neural activity in the frontotemporal cortex, a brain region associated with conscious self-awareness, which normally gets tamped down during REM. Researchers then woke the participants and asked them to detail any dreams they could remember. People who had received 40 Hz of current were lucid in more than 70% of their reported dreams. The researchers suggest that the technique could potentially be used to help people who suffer from chronic nightmares."
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+ - NASA proposes "water world theory" for origin of life

Submitted by William Robinson
William Robinson (875390) writes "A new study from researchers at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has proposed the "water world" theory as the answer to our evolution, which describes how electrical energy naturally produced at the sea floor might have given rise to life. While the scientists had already proposed this hypothesis called "submarine alkaline hydrothermal emergence of life" the new report assembles decades of field, laboratory and theoretical research into a grand, unified picture."

+ - What Caused the Oso Washington Mudslide ?

Submitted by bird
bird (12361) writes "This (rather longwinded) YouTube video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?...
of a guy running Google Earth on a Windows box does a pretty good job of presenting a (rather damning) theory of the genesis of the recent landslide in Oso. In short, there was ill-advised logging just above the slide site. Rather excellent for a guy in his basement with access to the same publicly-accessible data and tools that all of us have. Rather."

+ - Astronomers claim dark matter found

Submitted by wbr1
wbr1 (2538558) writes ""A team of astronomers led by Tansu Daylan (Harvard University), claims that excessive gamma-rays deteceted from the center of the galaxy by the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope are not from pulsars, but dark matter. More specifically, if the theory that dark matter is made up of massive particles and anti-particles, their collision should produce gamma-ray burst signatures similar to those seen.

"If our interpretation is correct, this signal would constitute the discovery of an entirely new particle that makes up the majority of the mass found in the universe," says coauthor Dan Hooper (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory). "I can't find words that are strong enough to capture the significance of such a discovery."

But others remain skeptical. " 'Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence,' as we said about the B-mode signal recently," says expert Kevork Abazajian (University of California, Irvine), referring to the discovery of inflation's fingerprint on the cosmic microwave background announced last week.
Article: http://www.skyandtelescope.com... ewsblog/Have-we-Spotted-Dark-Matter-in-the-Milky-Way-251964551.html
Paper on arxiv: http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:140...""

+ - A new classified report indicates where Malaysian flight 370 may have gone. 1

Submitted by Retired Spy
Retired Spy (1662229) writes "According to CNN and a classified report:

Investigators now say that, according to automated electronic connections attempts by the ACARS data reporting system of Malaysia Flight 370, the airplane flew far to the west, in an entirely different direction than it should have been heading as per its original flight-planned route, which was to the north.

What I would like to know; is this information based on satellite connect, disconnect, handoff times?"

+ - NASA-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse?

Submitted by Snirt
Snirt (1908938) writes " A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.""

+ - SIxth-Sense tech may be close to reality->

Submitted by tonytally
tonytally (2856861) writes "Back in '09, there was an exciting video on TED.com by Pranav Mistri, a brilliant guy who combined several technologies, with a wearable camera and projector that would form a "sixth sense" to do magical stuff; but it has seemed to take ages for it to (ever?) come to fruition. There is now a web page that seems to show what hardware can be used (for about $350 US, they say) and open source software."
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+ - Is Earth Weighed Down by Dark Matter?-> 1

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "There may be a giant ring of dark matter invisibly encircling the Earth, increasing its mass and pulling much harder on orbiting satellites than anything invisible should pull, according to preliminary research from a scientist specializing the physics of GPS signaling and satellite engineering. The dark-matter belt around the Earth could represent the beginning of a radically new understanding of how dark matter works and how it affects the human universe, or it could be something perfectly valid but less exciting despite having been written up by New Scientist and spreading to the rest of the geek universe on the basis of a single oral presentation of preliminary research at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December. The presentation came from telecom- and GPS satellite expert Ben Harris, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Texas- Arlington, who based his conclusion on nine months’ worth of data that could indicate Earth’s gravity was pulling harder on its ring of geostationary GPS satellites than the accepted mass of the Earth would normally allow. Since planets can’t gain weight over the holidays like the rest of us, Harris’ conclusion was that something else was adding to the mass and gravitational power of Earth – something that would have to be pretty massive but almost completely undetectable, which would sound crazy if predominant theories about the composition of the universe didn’t assume 80 percent of it was made up of invisible dark matter. Harris calculated that the increase in gravity could have come from dark matter, but would have had to be an unexpectedly thick collection of it – one ringing the earth in a band 120 miles thick and 45,000 miles wide. Making elaborate claims in oral presentations, without nailing down all the variables that could keep a set of results from being twisted into something more interesting than the truth is a red flag for any scientific presentation, let alone one making audacious claims about the way dark matter behaves or weight of the Earth, according to an exasperated counterargument from Matthew R. Francis, who earned a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Rutgers in 2005, held visiting and assistant professorships at several Northeastern universities and whose science writing has appeared in Ars Technica, The New Yorker, Nautilus, BBC Future and others including his own science blog at Galileo’s Pendulum."
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+ - Life On Earth Has Been Pushed Back Another 300 Million Years->

Submitted by Daniel_Stuckey
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "An international team has uncovered evidence that microbes were living in complex communities 3.5 billion years ago, pushing back the geological record of such structures—and by extension, the origins of life itself—by almost 300 million years.

According to University of Western Australia researcher David Wacey, one of the researchers and authors of the study, they uncovered “microbially induced sedimentary structures” (MISS) in a body of rock called Dresser Formation, which are evidence of an early ecosystem of non-nucleated, single cell organisms."

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