A very expensive satellite's first several months in space are going very wrong. The cooling system that the multi-billion-dollar device needs in order to properly observe the atmosphere failed to start, leaving the satellite partly blind. Named GOES-17, the glitchy orbiter is a brand-new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite. It's the second in an $11 billion family of four high-resolution, state-of-the-art weather satellites that NOAA developed to replace the aging previous generation of geostationary skywatchers: GOES-13, GOES-14 and GOES-15. (GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.) Each of the four satellites in this family has the power to observe Earth's atmosphere in unprecedented detail, with the potential to improve storm forecasting and other risk assessments. GOES-17's twin, GOES-16, was launched in 2016 and is already operational, its imagers trained on a region extending from the Americas to the west coast of Africa. … [Read more...] about Why Is NOAA’s Brand-New, Billion-Dollar Weather Satellite Going Blind?
Long before the keto diet became trendy, it was used to treat seizures in people with epilepsy. But the exact reason why this very-low-carb diet helps with seizures has puzzled researchers for decades. Now, a new study in mice suggests that gut bacteria may play an important role in the keto diet's anti-seizure effects. The study found that, in mice, the keto diet alters gut bacteria and that, if the animal's gut bacteria are removed, the diet no longer protects against seizures. What's more, when the researchers took specific gut bacteria that were found in higher levels in mice on the keto diet and then transplanted these bacteria into the guts of other mice, the new bacteria protected them from seizures, even without the keto diet. [5 Ways Gut Bacteria Affect Your Health] "Findings from our study reveal that treating mice chronically with specific bacteria that were enriched by the ketogenic diet protected them from seizures," study senior author Elaine Hsiao, an assistant … [Read more...] about How the Keto Diet Helps Prevent Seizures: Gut Bacteria May Be Key
Brace yourself for the 2018 hurricane season — it's going to be more active than usual, though less intense than last year's. Today (May 24), experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued their forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. The 2018 season is anticipated to be slightly more active than usual, with a 75 percent chance of an above-normal or near-normal season, NOAA representatives announced at a press conference. [Hurricane Season 2018: How Long It Lasts and What to Expect] During the upcoming season, there is a 70 percent chance of 10 to 16 named storms developing, with winds of 39 mph (63 km/h) or higher. Of those named storms, five to 9 could achieve hurricane strength, with winds of at least 74 mph (119 km/h) or higher, and one to four storms could develop into major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5, with winds reaching at least 111 mph, or 179 km/h), according to NOAA. One of the … [Read more...] about Active Hurricane Season Ahead, NOAA Says
Evolution may soon have a severely diminished role in Arizona science classrooms if proposed changes to the state's educational standards are approved. According to a report by Capitol Media Services published in the Arizona Daily Star, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas has proposed to largely eliminate mentions of the word "evolution" from the state's educational standards, instead replacing them with phrases like "change over time," "biological diversity" and "change in genetic composition." The few explicit mentions of evolution left in the state code would acknowledge the process as a "theory," the Star reported. "Evolution is a theory in many ways," Douglas told Capitol Media Services. "That's what our children should understand." Evolution — the process by which heritable traits change in animal populations over successive generations — is a widely-accepted scientific fact backed by extensive fossil evidence. More than … [Read more...] about Can You Teach Evolution Without Saying the Word? Arizona Is About to Find Out.
When science-fiction worlds introduce robots that look and behave like people, sooner or later those worlds' inhabitants confront the question of robot self-awareness. If a machine is built to truly mimic a human, its "brain" must be complex enough not only to process information as ours does, but also to achieve certain types of abstract thinking that make us human. This includes recognition of our "selves" and our place in the world, a state known as consciousness. One example of a sci-fi struggle to define AI consciousness is AMC's "Humans." At this point in the series, human-like machines called Synths have become self-aware; as they band together in communities to live independent lives and define who they are, they must also battle for acceptance and survival against the hostile humans who created and used them. But what exactly might "consciousness" mean for artificial intelligence (AI) in the real world, and how close is AI to reaching that goal? [Intelligent Machines to … [Read more...] about Will AI Ever Become Conscious?
Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) think they can fight the scourge of tick-borne diseases by encouraging people to douse their clothes in a chemical called permethrin. In a new study, published today (May 24) in the Journal of Medical Entomology, researchers showed that permethrin-treated clothes can seriously mess up a tick's stride. Stick some adult ticks on a pair of regular pants tilted at a 45-degree angle, and 100 percent of them will still be clinging on 5 minutes later. Stick adult ticks on a pair of tilted pants treated with permethrin, though, and 42.5 percent will tumble off entirely. Even those that remain get seriously messed up. The researchers found that only 25 percent of the ticks were moving normally even 24 hours after exposure. "All tested tick species and life stages experienced irritation, the 'hot-foot' effect, after coming into contact with permethrin-treated clothing," Lars Eisen, a CDC entomologist who … [Read more...] about Clothes Treated with ‘Hot Feet’ Coating Could Keep Ticks Away
Eerie blue flames flared from the ground on Hawaii's Big Island on Tuesday night (May 22), marking a rarely seen phenomenon that can arise during volcanic eruptions. When red-hot lava buries plants and shrubs, the burning vegetation produces methane, a colorless gas that burns blue, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). When methane is heated, it can seep into voids below the surface — in this case, the cracks on Kahukai Street in the residential area of Leilani Estates. Heated methane can explode, but when it was ignited on Tuesday night, its blue flames simply burned out of the fractures in the road, several feet away from the lava, the USGS reported. [Photos: Fiery Lava from Kilauea Volcano Erupts on Hawaii's Big Island] "It's very dramatic. It's very eerie," Jim Kauahikaua, a USGS scientist, told the Associated Press. This is only the second time in his career that he's seen blue flames during an eruption, Kauahikaua said. About 2,000 people have evacuated from … [Read more...] about Why Eerie Blue Flames Just Erupted from Hawaiian Volcano
Warnings of a Russian hypersonic weapon that the U.S. can't defend against may have had you running for the bomb shelter last week. But what, exactly, is this weapon, and how does it work? Russian President Vladimir Putin first announced the hypersonic weapon, code-named Avangard, in a speech in March. Last week, U.S. intelligence sources told CNBC that the weapon had been successfully tested a number of times and could be operational by 2020. The Russians have released few concrete details about the weapon, but from the information available, it appears the weapon is a so-called hypersonic glide vehicle, said Thomas Juliano, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in hypersonic flight. Putin has claimed that the vehicle is capable of reaching speeds of Mach 20 — or 20 times the speed of sound — and could evade current U.S. missile defense systems. Worryingly, the vehicle can supposedly carry a nuclear warhead, … [Read more...] about Here’s What We Know About Russia’s Hypersonic Waverider Weapon
The HIV virus, which causes AIDS, has long been known to target and disable cells of the immune system, which are responsible for fighting off invading microorganisms and for suppressing malignant cancers. More recently, researchers also learned HIV not only targets immune cells in the bloodstream but also in the brain and spinal cord and that HIV can lie dormant in a person's body for many years. My mentor, Dr. Habibeh Khoshbouei, has been working on this problem and learned that one consequence of HIV in the brain is that age-related diseases develop much earlier. This includes neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, as well as an increased susceptibility to drug addiction. Our lab wanted to learn why. HIV effects persist despite treatment For more than 20 years, powerful drug combinations of antiretroviral drugs have been available to treat people with HIV infection, and these agents have dramatically raised life expectancy for HIV-infected … [Read more...] about HIV Can Lie Dormant in the Brain. Here’s What That Means.
Veteran NASA photographer Bill Ingalls is no stranger to rocket launches, but even he seemed surprised when one of his remote cameras melted in a fire sparked by a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch Tuesday but — wait for it — still managed to snap photos of the liftoff. "Well, one remote cam outside the pad perimeter was found to be a bit toast(y)," Ingalls wrote on Facebook after the launch, "and yes – it made pix until [its] demise." The "toasty" camera was a Canon DSLR that Ingalls placed about a quarter mile (1,320 feet, or 402 meters) from SpaceX's pad, called Space Launch Complex 4E, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was one of six remote cameras that the photographer set up to chronicle the launch of NASA's twin GRACE-FO satellites on Tuesday (May 22). Five commercial Iridium Next communications satellites also rode the Falcon 9 into orbit. [See more awesome photos of SpaceX's GRACE-FO launch] The camera melted in a brush fire triggered by the Falcon 9 … [Read more...] about This NASA Camera Melted During a SpaceX Rocket Launch, But the Photos Survived!