nojayuk writes: There's another launcher delivering cargo to the ISS apart from US and Russian vehicles, and it's Japanese. The fifth Koutonori (White Stork) cargo vehicle was successfully launched today at from pad 2 of the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at Tanegashima south of Tokyo at 11:50:49 UTC, carrying over 5 tonnes of food, spare parts and scientific equipment to the ISS in a pressurised cabin and an external racking system. This is the fifth successful launch in a row for the Japanese H2B launcher. The Koutonoris have carried over 20 tonnes of cargo in total to the ISS, more than double the amount of SpaceX's six successful CRS resupply flights.
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schwit1 writes: A major scientific publisher has retracted 64 articles in 10 journals after discovering that the so-called independent peer reviewers for these articles were fabricated by the authors themselves. From the article: "The cull comes after similar discoveries of 'fake peer review' by several other major publishers, including London-based BioMed Central, an arm of Springer, which began retracting 43 articles in March citing 'reviews from fabricated reviewers'. The practice can occur when researchers submitting a paper for publication suggest reviewers, but supply contact details for them that actually route requests for review back to the researchers themselves." Overall, this indicates an incredible amount of sloppiness and laziness in the peer-review field. In total, more than a 100 papers have been retracted, simply because the journals relied on the authors to provide them contact information for their reviewers, never bothering to contact them directly.
MarkWhittington writes: The Associated Press noted the passing of former Rep. Louis Stokes at the age of 90. Since Stokes was an African American Democrat first elected in 1968, most of the accolades touch on his effect on the civil rights struggle and his lifelong fight against racism. However, as George Abbey, former NASA Director of the Johnson Spaceflight Center and current Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute of Rice University pointed out on his Facebook Page, Stokes can be rightly be said to be the man who saved the International Space Station and perhaps human space flight in America.
jones_supa writes: Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Samsung have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, the electrolyte. The new findings are based on the idea that a solid electrolyte, rather than liquid, could greatly improve both device lifetime and safety, while also providing a significant boost in power density. The new type of electrolyte would also cope better in cold temperatures. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials in a paper by MIT postdoc Yan Wang, visiting professor of materials science and engineering Gerbrand Ceder, and five others.
Tarek Loubani is an emergency medicine physician who works as a consultant doctor in the emergency departments in London, Canada and Shifa Hospital in Gaza. He is also an assistant professor at the Department of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario. Tarek has been working in Gaza for the past 5 years, where he made news recently by creating a 3D-printable, 30-cent stethoscope that is better than the world's best $200 equivalent. The need to develop free and open medical devices due to the lack of medical supplies resulting from the blockade, inspired Loubani who hopes the stethoscope is just the beginning of replacing expensive proprietary medical tools. Tarek has agreed to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
An anonymous reader writes: Junk DNA (or noncoding DNA) is a term for section of a DNA strand that doesn't actually do much. Huge tracts of the human genome consist of junk DNA, and researchers are now finding that it may be more useful than previously thought. "For most of the last 40 years, scientists thought that [gene duplication] was the primary way new genes were born — they simply arose from copies of existing genes. The old version went on doing its job, and the new copy became free to evolve novel functions. Certain genes, however, seem to defy that origin story. They have no known relatives, and they bear no resemblance to any other gene. ... But in the past few years, a once-heretical explanation has quickly gained momentum — that many of these orphans arose out of so-called junk DNA."
schwit1 writes: A team of researchers from Ohio State University claim to have grown a human brain in their lab that approximates the brain of a five-week-old fetus. They say the tiny brain is not conscious, but it could be used to test drugs and study diseases, but scientific peers urge caution. "The brain, which is about the size of a pencil eraser, is engineered from adult human skin cells and is the most complete human brain model yet developed, [the researchers say]. ... Anand and his colleagues claim to have reproduced 99% of the brain’s diverse cell types and genes. They say their brain also contains a spinal cord, signalling circuitry and even a retina." The team's data has not yet been peer reviewed.
Layzej writes: Have you ever been skeptical of a climate change story presented by a major media outlet? A new tool holds journalists to account for the veracity of their stories. "Using the Climate Feedback tool, scientists have started to diligently add detailed annotations to online content and have those notes appear alongside the story as it originally appeared. If you're the writer, then it's a bit like getting your homework handed back to you with the margins littered with corrections and red pen. Or smiley faces and gold stars if you've been good." The project has already prompted The Telegraph to publish major corrections to their story that suggested the Earth is headed for a "'mini ice age' within 15 years." The article has been modified in such a way that there is no more statement supporting the original message of an "imminent mini ice age."
astroengine writes: A gorgeous photo, captured from the International Space Station on the night of Aug. 10, 2015, shows an orbital view of thunderstorms over the city lights of southern Mexico as a recumbent Orion rises over Earth's limb. But wait, there's more: along the right edge of the picture a cluster of bright red and purple streamers can be seen rising above a blue-white flash of lightning: it's an enormous red sprite caught on camera! First photographed in 1989, red sprites are very brief flashes of optical activity that are associated with powerful lightning. So-called because of their elusive nature, sprites typically appear as branching red tendrils reaching up above the region of an exceptionally strong lightning flash. These electrical discharges can extend as high as 55 miles (90 kilometers) into the atmosphere, with the brightest region usually around altitudes of 40–45 miles (65–75 km). Sprites don't last very long — 3–10 milliseconds at most — and so to catch one (technically here it's a cluster of them) on camera is a real feat... or, in this case, a great surprise!
Zothecula writes: By altering a single gene to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase (PDE4B), researchers have given mice the opportunity to see what an increase in intelligence is like. "They tended to learn faster, remember events longer and solve complex exercises better than ordinary mice. For example, the “brainy mice” showed a better ability than ordinary mice to recognize another mouse that they had been introduced to the day before (abstract). They were also quicker at learning the location of a hidden escape platform in a test called the Morris water maze. However, the PDE4B-inhibited mice also showed less recall of a fearful event after several days than ordinary mice." While many people would welcome such a treatment, the scientists say their research could lead to new treatments for those with cognitive disorders and age-related cognitive decline.
the_newsbeagle writes: Optogenetics is a fairly new (and fairly awesome) research tool for neuroscientists: By using light to jolt certain neurons into action, they can study how those neurons function in the mouse brain. But getting the light to those neurons has been difficult. Previous systems have required either fiber optic cables that tether the mouse to a computer, or heavy head-mounted receivers. Now Stanford's Ada Poon has invented a tiny and fully implantable system that wirelessly receives the signal to stimulate, and uses a micro-LED to activate the neurons. The device will let researchers study brain function while mice are running around, interacting socially, etc.
iONiUM writes: The Economist has a story about how bad the air quality is in Beijing. Due to public outcry the Chinese government has created almost 1,000 air quality monitoring stations, and the findings aren't good. They report: "Pollution is sky-high everywhere in China. Some 83% of Chinese are exposed to air that, in America, would be deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency either to be unhealthy or unhealthy for sensitive groups. Almost half the population of China experiences levels of PM2.5 that are above America's highest threshold. That is even worse than the satellite data had suggested. Berkeley Earth's scientific director, Richard Muller, says breathing Beijing's air is the equivalent of smoking almost 40 cigarettes a day and calculates that air pollution causes 1.6m deaths a year in China, or 17% of the total. A previous estimate, based on a study of pollution in the Huai river basin (which lies between the Yellow and Yangzi rivers), put the toll at 1.2m deaths a year—still high."
szotz writes: Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp has a bizarre definition of the word "plan". Last week he debated two MIT aerospace engineers who were co-authors on a report that said that astronauts would suffocate on Mars if they tried to grow their own food with existing tech. The question on the table: Is the Mars One plan feasible? And the answer seemed to be "it depends on what your definition of a plan is". The stated plan is to send the first humans to Mars for $6 billion by 2027 (twice delayed already). Lansdorp admits they probably won't stick to that schedule or that budget, but that has nothing to do with whether they're going or not. IEEE Spectrum has a write-up of the debate and a link to the MIT team's presentation. It seems the company's looking for $15 million now to fund--you guessed it--more studies.
PDX Wearable Health Lab, is the brainchild of Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD; "an experimenter, maker, mentor and consultant in wearable health technologies, drawing on his lifelong experience in the fields of engineering and medicine." The WearDuino, he says, "is an open source wearable wireless sensor." The prototype fits in a FitBit case because, according to Dr. Leavitt, there are millions of unused ones out there, both surplussed by people who bought Fitbits and then stopped using them, and in the form of aftermarket cases sold to make your Fitbit cuter than when it came from the factory. In any case, WearDuino is still in the prototype stage. Dr. Leavitt plans to look for funding through Crowd Supply, but isn't "there" yet, so if you want to get on board with this health wearables project, you'll want to sign up for their Google Group or follow them on Twitter. You might also want to check out Quantified Self (tag line: "self knowledge through numbers"), and even if you vastly prefer videos to text articles, check out the text transcript ("Show/Hide Transcript") attached to this article, because it contains nearly twice as much information as the video, and goes a little deeper than the video into Dr. Leavitt's reasons for building the WearDuino -- none of which are financial gain, believe it or not.
Keith Henson is an electrical engineer and writer on space engineering, space law, cryonics, and evolutionary psychology. He co-founded the L5 society in 1975, which sought to promote space colonization. In addition to being an outspoken critic and target of the Church of Scientology, Keith has recently been working on the design of an orbiting power satellite (video here). The proposed satellite would collect solar energy, send it to Earth via microwaves, and Henson has a plan on how to launch it cheaply. Keith has agreed to give us some of his time and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
An anonymous reader writes: Police have been under a microscope over the past year for their involvement in some high-profile shootings. We've heard over and over that police need more and better training to keep these incidents from happening, but the truth is that there's no good framework within law enforcement to base their training on actual science. Officers tend to teach from their own experience, and research into techniques for dealing with unpredictable people goes widely unnoticed. "Carl Bell, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has done key work on de-escalation with the mentally ill, said his attempts to introduce techniques to the Chicago police never got anywhere. 'There's no systematic incorporation of research.'" Nobody expects officers to consult an academic journal when they're facing down a hostile suspect, but science needs to be part of conversation we're having.
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists have developed what they're calling the "Drinkable Book," which contains pages that can be torn out and used to effectively filter drinking water. The book has just completed a series of field trials in a few African countries, and it successfully removed more than 99% of the bacteria in water taken from contaminated sources, bringing it in line with U.S. tap water. The book's pages are imprinted with nanoparticles of silver and copper, which sterilize a wide range of microorganisms. The lead researcher says each page can filter about 100 liters of water before needing to be discarded. The team currently makes all the pages by hand, so their next step will be to find a way to automate production.
An anonymous reader writes: By using custom tracking software to monitor the output from a digital pen, MIT researchers say they have found a way to better predict the onset of brain conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. according to MIT: "For several decades, doctors have screened for conditions including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's with the CDT, which asks subjects to draw an analog clock-face showing a specified time, and to copy a pre-drawn clock. But the test has limitations, because its benchmarks rely on doctors' subjective judgments, such as determining whether a clock circle has 'only minor distortion.' CSAIL researchers were particularly struck by the fact that CDT analysis was typically based on the person's final drawing rather than on the process as a whole. Enter the Anoto Live Pen, a digitizing ballpoint pen that measures its position on the paper upwards of 80 times a second, using a camera built into the pen. The pen provides data that are far more precise than can be measured on an ordinary drawing, and captures timing information that allows the system to analyze each and every one of a subject's movements and hesitations."
An anonymous reader writes: The Georgia Aquarium has argued in court that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's denial of its permit to import beluga whales from Russia was arbitrary and capricious. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service says the aquarium failed to meet the requirements of a law meant to protect marine mammals. Both sides accuse the other of twisting the facts, a NOAA lawyer accuses the aquarium trying "to confuse the court," and a lawyer for the aquarium says the government had "cooked the books" on whale population numbers.
An anonymous reader writes: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is celebrating 10 years of service in its mission to study Mars from orbit. Recently it has discovered an ancient lake that might hold the best possible chance of finding life on the Red Planet. "MRO has discovered that Mars' south polar cap holds enough buried carbon-dioxide ice to double the planet's current atmosphere if it warmed. It's caught avalanches and dust storms in action. The spacecraft's longevity has made it possible to study seasonal and longer-term changes over four Martian years," Rich Zurek from Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.