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nasa prepares to launch parker solar probe, a mission to touch the sun

early on an august morning, the sky near cape canaveral, florida, will light up with the launch of parker solar probe. no earlier than aug. 6, 2018, a united launch alliance delta iv heavy will thunder to space carrying the car-sized spacecraft, which will study the sun closer than any human-made object ever has. on july 20, 2018, nicky fox, parker solar probe's project scientist at the johns hopkins university applied physics lab in laurel, maryland, and alex young, associate director for science in the heliophysics science division at nasa's goddard space flight center in greenbelt, maryland, introduced parker solar probe's science goals and the technology behind them at a televised press conference from nasa's kennedy space center in ...




texas a&m study: sahara dust may make you cough, but it's a storm killer

the bad news: dust from the sahara desert in africa - totaling a staggering 2 to 9 trillion pounds worldwide - has been almost a biblical plague on texas and much of the southern united states in recent weeks. the good news: the same dust appears to be a severe storm killer. research from a team of scientists led by texas a&m university has studied saharan dust and their work is published in the current issue of the journal of climate of ams (american meteorological society). texas a&m's bowen pan, tim logan, and renyi zhang in the department of atmospheric sciences analyzed recent nasa satellite images and computer models and said the saharan dust is composed of sand and other mineral particles that are swept up in air curre...




sf state study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins

when it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle -- nature or nurture -- more important? researchers at san francisco state university, csu fullerton and cal poly, pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying a pair of identical 52-year-old twins who had taken radically different fitness paths over three decades. "one of the twins became a truck driver and one started running," said assistant professor of kinesiology jimmy bagley. the runner became an ironman triathlete and track coach while the other remained relatively sedentary over the last 30 years. the study results, just published in the european journal of applied physiology, demonstrate the impact exercise can have on health over time.bagley explains that because i...




world's fastest man-made spinning object could help study quantum mechanics

image: tongcang li and jonghoon ahn have levitated a nanoparticle in vacuum and driven it to rotate at high speed, which they hope will help them study the properties of vacuum... view more credit: purdue university/vincent walterresearchers have created the fastest man-made rotor in the world, which they believe will help them study quantum mechanics. at more than 60 billion revolutions per minute, this machine is more than 100,000 times faster than a high-speed dental drill. "this study has many applications, including material science," said tongcang li, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and electrical and computer engineering, at purdue university. "we can study the extreme conditions different materials c...




scientists reverse aging-associated skin wrinkles and hair loss in a mouse model

image: the mouse in the center photo shows aging-associated skin wrinkles and hair loss after two months of mitochondrial dna depletion. that same mouse, right, shows reversal of wrinkles and hair... view more credit: uabbirmingham, ala. - wrinkled skin and hair loss are hallmarks of aging. what if they could be reversed?keshav singh, ph.d., and colleagues have done just that, in a mouse model developed at the university of alabama at birmingham. when a mutation leading to mitochondrial dysfunction is induced, the mouse develops wrinkled skin and extensive, visible hair loss in a matter of weeks. when the mitochondrial function is restored by turning off the gene responsible for mitochondrial dysfunction, the mouse returns to smooth ski...




the need for speed: why malaria parasites are faster than human immune cells

image: mosquitoes (left) inject malaria parasites (top middle) into skin. the parasites move very rapidly (bottom middle left) using a protein that is very similar to the one our cells (lower... view more credit: heidelberg university hospital/ hits/ zmbhmalaria parasites of the genus plasmodium move ten times faster through the skin than immune cells, whose job it is to capture such pathogens. heidelberg scientists have now found a reason why the parasite is faster than its counterpart. they did this by studying actin, a protein that is important to the structure and movement of cells and that is built differently in parasites and mammals. the findings of ross douglas and his colleagues at the centre for infectious diseases (department ...




two nasa satellites confirm tropical cyclone ampil's heaviest rainfall shift

two nasa satellites observed tropical storm ampil in six and a half hours and found the storm's heaviest rainfall occurring in a band of thunderstorms shifted from north to south of the center. nasa's gpm satellite passed over the storm first and nasa's aqua satellite made the second pass.tropical storm ampil was moving toward the northwest with winds of about 50 knots (57.5 mph) when the global precipitation measurement mission or gpm core observatory satellite flew above on july 20, 2018 at 2:56 a.m. edt (0656 utc).data received by the gpm core satellite's microwave imager (gmi) and dual-frequency precipitation radar (dpr) instruments were used in an analysis of ampil's precipitation. gmi and dpr showed that the northern side of the t...




eagle-eyed machine learning algorithm outdoes human experts

image: radiation-damaged materials resemble a cratered lunar surface, and machine learning can now help with nuclear reactor design by finding a specific variety of defect faster and more accurately than expert... view more credit: kevin fieldsmadison, wis. -- artificial intelligence is now so smart that silicon brains frequently outthink people.computers operate self-driving cars, pick friends' faces out of photos on facebook, and are learning to take on jobs typically entrusted only to human experts.researchers from the university of wisconsin-madison and oak ridge national laboratory have trained computers to quickly and consistently detect and analyze microscopic radiation damage to materials under consideration for nuclear reactor...




spie journal announces public access to largest multi-lesion medical imaging dataset

image: the ground-truth and two enlarged lymph nodes are correctly detected, even though the lymph nodes are not annotated in the dataset. view more credit: @spiebellingham, washington, usa and cardiff, uk - a paper published today in the journal of medical imaging - "deeplesion: automated mining of large-scale lesion annotations and universal lesion detection with deep learning," - announced the open availability of the largest ct lesion-image database accessible to the public. such data are the foundations for the training sets of machine-learning algorithms; until now, large-scale annotated radiological image datasets, essential for the development of deep learning approaches, have not been publicly available.deeplesion, developed by...




a peek into the interplay between sleep and wakefulness

image: wakefullness state and sleep state. view more credit: university of tsukubasleep is an autonomic process and is not always under our direct, voluntary control. awake or asleep, we are basically under the regulation of two biological processes: sleep homeostasis, commonly known as 'sleep pressure', and the circadian rhythm, otherwise known as the 'body clock'. these two processes work in harmony to promote good consolidated sleep at night.the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (vlpo) in the brain plays a critical role in falling--and staying--asleep, while the lateral posterior part of the hypothalamus contains neurons (brain cells) that play a role in the maintenance of staying awake, including orexin neurons in the lateral hypoth...




speed up solving complex problems: be lazy and only work crucial tasks

a new approach to 'lazy grounding' is set to make a viable and attractive solution for many fields of industry and large multi-nationals dealing with complex systems. antonius weinzierl of aalto university and bart bogaerts from ku leuven have just presented their paper at one of the most renowned scientific conferences on artificial intelligence, jcai-ecai-18 in stockholm.for tasks with hundreds of parameters and thousands of possible combinations, solutions have long required time and effort. for example, when a freight train engine breaks down, the train operator is left with the challenge of finding a replacement engine that can pull the train's weight and is compatible with all kinds of requirements, like the track's signaling syste...




wave energy converters are not geared towards the increase in energy over the last century

image: this is an oyster wave energy converter, used for the study. view more credit: alain ulazia. upv/ehuwave energy converters are specifically designed to produce the maximum output at the location where they are going to be placed, in other words, to ensure that they generate as much electricity as possible from the movement of the waves around them. the design and adaptation is made on the basis of historical data, past wave height and period. "however, the timescale taken into consideration tends to be quite short and, what is more, the year is regarded as typical in this period. so the converters are adjusted on the basis of how they are expected to behave during that typical year," explained alain ulazia, lecturer at the upv/e...




secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

the study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke - causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year. exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth, congenital malformations, low birth-weight and respiratory illnesses. however, little is known about the extent of secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy.the team from york looked at the number of pregnancies alongside smoking exposure data in 30 developing countries from 2008 to 2013.the analysis revealed that in armenia, indonesia, jordan, bangladesh and nepal more than 50% of pregnant women reported exposure to household secondhand smoke. the authors believe this led to over 10,000 still births in in...




urgent change needed to regulate the environmental impacts of chemicals

international study has identified the most important questions that researchers must address in order to help protect our planet over the next decade chemicals released by human activity; such as driving cars, using toiletries and using pesticides, are resulting in a loss of biodiversity, increased natural hazards and presenting threats to food, water and energy security research aims to serve as a road map for policy makers, regulators, industry and fundersurgent change is needed to regulate the harmful impact chemicals have on the environment, a new study has revealed.the international study involving scientists from the university of sheffield, has identified the most important questions that researchers must address in order to help pr...




houseplants could one day monitor home health

image: these are perspective images of a conceptual phytosensor (plant) wall. shown left is the lighted room, and shown right is the darkened room under sense-and-report photonic conditions. the glass partition... view more credit: photo (inset, right) by francisco palacios. design renderings by susan g. stewart and rana abudayyeh.knoxville, tenn. - in a perspective published in the july 20 issue of science, neal stewart and his university of tennessee coauthors explore the future of houseplants as aesthetically pleasing and functional sirens of home health.the idea is to genetically engineer house plants to serve as subtle alarms that something is amiss in our home and office environments. stewart, a professor of plant sciences in the u...




doctors rely on more than just data for medical decision making

cambridge, ma -- many technology companies are working on artificial intelligence systems that can analyze medical data to help diagnose or treat health problems. such systems raise the question of whether this kind of technology can perform as well as a human doctor.a new study from mit computer scientists suggests that human doctors provide a dimension that, as yet, artificial intelligence does not. by analyzing doctors' written notes on intensive-care-unit patients, the researchers found that the doctors' "gut feelings" about a particular patient's condition played a significant role in determining how many tests they ordered for the patient."there's something about a doctor's experience, and their years of training and practice, ...




from pollutants to human health: key questions for a better environmental future in europe

image: this initiative wants to shape a new guideline --with a more global and coordinated perspective-- for several social and economic sectors in the field of chemical products and management of... view more credit: university of barcelonawhat are the most aggressive chemical products for the environment? what areas of the planet have more pollutants? can we detect toxic products which are hard to identify? how can we protect biodiversity and natural ecosystems better? degradation of the environment and natural resources, the loss of biodiversity, impacts on health and the crises on food safety are some of the effects of chemical products being thrown into the environment due human activity. now, an international study with the partici...




people love to hate on do-gooders, especially at work

image: this is prof. pat barclay. view more credit: (university of guelph)sometimes, it doesn't pay to be a do-gooder, according to a new university of guelph study.highly cooperative and generous people can attract hatred and social punishment, especially in competitive circumstances, the research found."most of the time we like the cooperators, the good guys. we like it when the bad guys get their comeuppance, and when non-cooperators are punished," said psychology professor pat barclay."but some of the time, cooperators are the ones that get punished. people will hate on the really good guys. this pattern has been found in every culture in which it has been looked at."some people like to bring cooperators down a peg, especially if ...




a molecular key for delaying the progression of multiple sclerosis is found

multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys a structure known as the "myelin sheath", whose integrity is indispensable for the brain and spinal cord to function properly. current treatment of multiple sclerosis is based on modulating the activity of the immune system or preventing its cells from accessing the central nervous system and damaging it. these therapies are effective in the early phases of the disease, but they do not prevent its advance and the progressive functional deterioration.during the progressive phase of the disease it is the microglial cells in the brain that are the main cause of the chronic inflammation responsible for the neurological deterioration. these microglial cells are the brain's se...




how to weigh stars with gravitational lensing

every star in the milky way is in motion. but because of the distances their changes in position, the so-called proper motions, are very small and can only be measured using large telescopes over long time periods. in very rare cases, a foreground star passes a star in the background, at close proximity as seen from earth. light from this background star must cross the gravitational field of the foreground star where, instead of following straight paths, the light rays are bent. this is like a lens, except here the deviation is caused by the space and time distortion around any massive body. this effect was one of the cornerstone predictions of einstein's general theory of relativity and has been verified in solar system tests for decades. ...