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[l] at 2/27/24 2:33pm
Enlarge / Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander is shown shortly before touching down on the Moon. (credit: Intuitive Machines) Steve Altemus beamed with pride on Tuesday morning as he led me into Mission Control for the Odysseus lander, which is currently operating on the Moon and returning valuable scientific data to Earth. A team of about a dozen operators sat behind consoles, attempting to reset a visual processing unit onboard the lunar lander, one of their last, best chances to deploy a small camera that would snap a photo of Odysseus in action. "I just wanted you to see the team," he said. The founder and chief executive of Intuitive Machines, which for a few days this month has been the epicenter of the spaceflight universe after landing the first commercial vehicle on the Moon, invited me to the company's nerve center in Houston to set some things straight.Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Features, Science, Space, Uncategorized, lunar lander, odysseus, space]

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[l] at 2/27/24 2:08pm
Enlarge / The cranial remains of Vittrup Man, who was bludgeoned to death and tossed in a peat bog between 3300-3100 BCE. (credit: Stephen Freiheit via Fischer A., et al./PLoS ONE) In 1915, peat diggers recovered the fragmented skeletal remains of a man with a severely fractured skull in a peat bog near the village of Vittrup in Denmark. The remains were kept in a museum for the next century, but scientists have now conducted an in-depth analysis of the remains using a variety of techniques to learn more about so-called Vittrup Man's life and violent death. They described their findings in a recent paper published in the journal PLoS ONE—including the surprising fact that Vittrup Man grew up in a coastal foraging community along the Scandinavian coast before his murder as an adult in a farming culture in Neolithic Denmark. Vittrup Man is one of numerous "bog bodies" unearthed from peat bogs in northwestern Europe. These are human cadavers that have been naturally preserved, and frequently mummified, by the unique chemistry of the bogs. As peat ages it releases humic acid, which has a pH level similar to vinegar. The bog bodies are basically pickled, and decomposition is dramatically slowed because of the anaerobic conditions of the bog. The best-preserved bog bodies are those that were put there during the winter or early spring when the water is very cold—less than 4° Celsius (39° F), i.e., too cold for bacteria to thrive—because the bog acids were able to saturate the tissues before decay could begin. Peat has been a common fuel source since the Iron Age, and there are records of peat diggers coming across bog bodies dating back to 1640 in Germany. Bog bodies became of interest to antiquarians in the 19th century and archaeologists in the 20th century. One of the most famous examples is Tollund Man, a bog body found in the 1950s and dating back to the 5th century BCE. Tollund Man was so exquisitely mummified that he was originally mistaken for a recent murder victim, although only the head was preserved for posterity; the rest of the body was allowed to desiccate, given the less advanced state of preservation techniques in the 1950s.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, anthropology, Archaeology, Biology, bog bodies, forensic archaeology, Vitrup man]

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[l] at 2/27/24 1:42pm
Enlarge / Boeing's Starliner crew module for the upcoming Crew Flight Test was mated with the spacecraft's service module last year in Florida. (credit: Boeing/Deborah Circelli) We've heard this before, but Boeing appears to be a couple of months from finally launching astronauts into orbit aboard the commercial CST-100 Starliner crew capsule. It was about two months prior to this mission's previous launch date last July when Boeing and NASA officials decided to put a hold on launch preparations. During their final reviews to certify Starliner for flight nearly a year ago, engineers discovered two technical issues that somehow escaped detection for years. One of these issues involved parts of Starliner's parachute deployment system that did not meet required safety specifications. The other was a revelation that Boeing installed flammable tape wrapped around wiring bundles throughout the spacecraft, creating a potential fire hazard. These were the latest in a line of technical problems that have plagued the Starliner program, delaying the new spacecraft's first test flight with astronauts from 2017 until this year.Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, Boeing, Commercial space, human spaceflight, international space station, NASA, starliner]

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[l] at 2/27/24 5:00am
Enlarge / Varda's reentry capsule soon after landing at the Utah Test and Training Range. (credit: Varda Space Industries) Varda Space Industries is finally able to celebrate. For nearly eight months, the in-space manufacturing company's first mission was essentially stranded in low-Earth orbit, but not because of any technical malfunction or a restriction imposed by the laws of physics. Instead, the spacecraft couldn't return to Earth until Varda and three government entities—the US military, the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and the FAA's Air Traffic Organization—all got on the same page. This was far more complicated than anyone envisioned, and Varda had to bypass landing opportunities in July and September because it couldn't secure governmental approvals. Finally, earlier this month, the FAA approved a commercial reentry license for Varda's space capsule, which was somewhat larger than a mini-fridge, to fall back into the atmosphere and parachute to a landing in the remote Utah desert southwest of Salt Lake City. Varda's landing zone was at the Utah Test and Training Range, a sprawling military facility primarily used for weapons testing.Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Features, Science, Space, Commercial space, hypersonic, Utah, Varda]

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[l] at 2/26/24 4:53pm
Enlarge / Starship launches on its second flight on November 18, 2023. (credit: SpaceX) A little more than three months after the most recent launch of a Starship vehicle, which ended with both the booster and upper stage being lost in flight, the Federal Aviation Administration has closed its investigation of the mishap. "SpaceX identified, and the FAA accepts, the root causes and 17 corrective actions documented in SpaceX’s mishap report," the federal agency said in a statement issued Monday. "Prior to the next launch, SpaceX must implement all corrective actions and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements." SpaceX must still submit additional information to the FAA, which is responsible for the safety of people and property on the ground, before the agency completes its review of an application to launch Starship for a third time. The administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration, Kelvin Coleman, said last week that early- to mid-March is a reasonable timeline for the regulatory process to conclude.Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, space, spacex, starship]

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[l] at 2/26/24 4:09pm
Enlarge / A shopper looks at a meat display on June 20, 2022 at the Market 32 Supermarket in South Burlington, Vermont. Niacin can be found in foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, fortified cereals and breads, brown rice, nuts, legumes, and bananas. (credit: Getty | Robert Nickelsberg) In the early 20th century, the deadliest nutrient-related disease in US history ravaged the American South. Pellagra, a disease caused by a deficiency in niacin and/or tryptophan, is marked by the four "D's": diarrhea, dermatitis that leads to gruesome skin plaques, dementia, and death. At its peak during the Great Depression, pellagra killed nearly 7,000 Southerners a year. Between 1906 and 1940, researchers estimate that the epidemic struck roughly 3 million Americans, killing around 100,000. The deadly epidemic led to voluntary—and eventually mandatory—fortification of wheat and other cereals with niacin (aka Vitamin B3). By the middle of the century, pellagra nearly vanished from the US. But, decades later, the public health triumph may be backfiring. With Americans' diets more reliant than ever on processed, niacin-fortified foods, the average niacin intake in the US is now nearing what's considered the tolerable upper limit of the nutrient, according to a federal health survey. And an extensive study recently published in Nature Medicine suggests that those excess amounts of niacin may be exacerbating cardiovascular disease, increasing risks of heart attacks, strokes, and death. The study, led by Stanley Hazen, chair of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, connected high blood levels of a breakdown product of niacin—and to a lesser extent, tryptophan—to an elevated risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). And this elevated risk appears to be independent of known risk factors for those events, such as high cholesterol.Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Health, Science, cardiovascular disease, cleveland clinic, Genetics, heart attack, inflammation, metabolites, niacin, stroke, vitamin b3]

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[l] at 2/26/24 11:45am
Enlarge / NASA's LRO found Odysseus on the Moon. (credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University) Time is running out for the historic Odysseus lander that made a soft touchdown on the Moon last Thursday evening. In an update posted on Monday morning, the company that built the spacecraft, Intuitive Machines, said, "[W]e believe flight controllers will continue to communicate with Odysseus until Tuesday morning." This is because the lander, which is tipped over on its side, will only be able to collect solar energy for a limited period of time. Originally, the company had hoped to operate its privately developed lunar lander on the surface for a week or longer. But now, that will no longer be possible due to the limited ability of Odysseus to gather solar energy and remain powered on. As the Sun dips closer to the horizon, and with the two-week-long lunar night coming, the spacecraft will, effectively, freeze to death.Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, Odysseus lander]

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[l] at 2/26/24 7:33am
Enlarge / An image of Ingenuity captured by Perseverance's SuperCam RMI instrument. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/Simeon Schmauß) It has now been several weeks since NASA's tenacious helicopter on Mars, Ingenuity, made its final flight above the red planet. This happened last month. On January 6, Ingenuity flew 40 feet (12 meters) skyward but then made an unplanned early landing after just 35 seconds. Twelve days later operators intended to troubleshoot the vehicle with a quick up-and-down test. Data from the vehicle indicated that it ascended to 40 feet again during this test, but then communications were ominously lost at the end of the flight. On January 20 NASA reestablished communications with the helicopter, but the space agency declared an end to its flying days after an image of the vehicle's shadow showed that at least one of its blades had sustained minor damage. This capped an end to a remarkable mission during which Ingenuity exceeded all expectations.Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, ingenuity, Mars, space]

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[l] at 2/26/24 6:00am
Enlarge / Webb has observed the best evidence yet for emission from a neutron star at the site of Supernova 1987A. (credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, et. al.) Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light, a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We'll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we're going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder. Good morning. It's February 26, and today's image highlights the core of a (relatively) nearby supernova. In the astronomy community, SN 1987A has somewhat legendary status. The first observable light from this exploding star in the Large Magellanic Cloud reached Earth in February, almost 37 years ago to the day. It was the first supernova that astronomers were able to observe and study with modern telescopes. It was still discussed in reverent terms a few years later when I was an undergraduate student studying astronomy at the University of Texas.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, daily telescope]

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[l] at 2/23/24 4:05pm
Enlarge / Empty cubicles For some, having to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic was stressful. Parents balanced job duties while caring for children. Some struggled to set up a home office and adjust to new tools, like video conferencing. Lonely workdays at home added to social isolation. The line between work and life blurred. For others, working from home was a boon—comfort, convenience, flexibility, no commuting or rush-hour traffic, no office-environment distractions. When the acute aspects of the pandemic receded, some who at first struggled began to settle into a work-from-home (WFH) groove and appreciated the newfound flexibility. Then, bosses began calling their employees back to the office. Many made the argument that the return-to-office (RTO) policies and mandates were better for their companies; workers are more productive at the office, and face-to-face interactions promote collaboration, many suggested. But there's little data to support that argument. Pandemic-era productivity is tricky to interpret, given that the crisis disrupted every aspect of life. Research from before the pandemic generally suggested remote work improves worker performance—though it often included workers who volunteered to WFH, potentially biasing the finding.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, bosses, COVID-19, pandemic, return-to-office, S&P 500, work from home, workers]

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[l] at 2/23/24 1:24pm
Enlarge / Chinguetti slice at the National Museum of Natural History. A larger meteorite reported in 1916 hasn't been spotted since. (credit: Claire H./CC BY-SA 2.0) In 1916, a French consular official reported finding a giant "iron hill" deep in the Sahara desert, roughly 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Chinguetti, Mauritania—purportedly a meteorite (technically a mesosiderite) some 40 meters (130 feet) tall and 100 meters (330 feet) long. He brought back a small fragment, but the meteorite hasn't been found again since, despite the efforts of multiple expeditions, calling its very existence into question. Three British researchers have conducted their own analysis and proposed a means of determining once and for all whether the Chinguetti meteorite really exists, detailing their findings in a new preprint posted to the physics arXiv. They contend that they have narrowed down the likely locations where the meteorite might be buried under high sand dunes and are currently awaiting access to data from a magnetometer survey of the region in hopes of either finding the mysterious missing meteorite or confirming that it likely never existed. Captain Gaston Ripert was in charge of the Chinguetti camel corps. One day he overheard a conversation among the chameliers (camel drivers) about an unusual iron hill in the desert. He convinced a local chief to guide him there one night, taking Ripert on a 10-hour camel ride along a "disorienting" route, making a few detours along the way. He may even have been literally blindfolded, depending on how one interprets the French phrase en aveugle, which can mean either "blind" (i.e. without a compass) or "blindfolded." The 4-kilogram fragment Ripert collected was later analyzed by noted geologist Alfred Lacroix, who considered it a significant discovery. But when others failed to locate the larger Chinguetti meteorite, people started to doubt Ripert's story.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, astrophysics, Chinguetti meteorite, geophysics, meteorites, Physics, science]

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[l] at 2/23/24 1:24pm
Enlarge / Chinguetti slice at the National Museum of Natural History. A larger meteorite reported in 1916 hasn't been spotted since. (credit: Claire H./CC BY-SA 2.0) In 1916, a French consular official reported finding a giant "iron hill" deep in the Sahara desert, roughly 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Chinguetti, Mauritania—purportedly a meteorite (technically a mesosiderite) some 40 meters (130 feet) tall and 100 meters (330 feet) long. He brought back a small fragment, but the meteorite hasn't been found again since, despite the efforts of multiple expeditions, calling its very existence into question. Three British researchers have conducted their own analysis and proposed a means of determining once and for all whether the Chinguetti meteorite really exists, detailing their findings in a new preprint posted to the physics arXiv. They contend that they have narrowed down the likely locations where the meteorite might be buried under high sand dunes and are currently awaiting access to data from a magnetometer survey of the region in hopes of either finding the mysterious missing meteorite or confirming that it likely never existed. Captain Gaston Ripert was in charge of the Chinguetti camel corps. One day he overheard a conversation among the chameliers (camel drivers) about an unusual iron hill in the desert. He convinced a local chief to guide him there one night, taking Ripert on a 10-hour camel ride along a "disorienting" route, making a few detours along the way. He may even have been literally blindfolded, depending on how one interprets the French phrase en aveugle, which can mean either "blind" (i.e. without a compass) or "blindfolded." The 4-kilogram fragment Ripert collected was later analyzed by noted geologist Alfred Lacroix, who considered it a significant discovery. But when others failed to locate the larger Chinguetti meteorite, people started to doubt Ripert's story.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, astrophysics, Chinguetti meteorite, geophysics, meteorites, Physics, science]

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[l] at 2/23/24 11:16am
Enlarge / Mining operations start right at the edge of Bulqizë, Albania. (credit: Wikimedia Commons) “The search for geologic hydrogen today is where the search for oil was back in the 19th century—we’re just starting to understand how this works,” said Frédéric-Victor Donzé, a geologist at Université Grenoble Alpes. Donzé is part of a team of geoscientists studying a site at Bulqizë in Albania where miners at one of the world’s largest chromite mines may have accidentally drilled into a hydrogen reservoir. The question Donzé and his team want to tackle is whether hydrogen has a parallel geological system with huge subsurface reservoirs that could be extracted the way we extract oil. “Bulqizë is a reference case. For the first time, we have real data. We have a proof,” Donzé said. Greenish energy source Water is the only byproduct of burning hydrogen, which makes it a potential go-to green energy source. The problem is that the vast majority of the 96 million tons of hydrogen we make each year comes from processing methane, and that does release greenhouse gases. Lots of them. “There are green ways to produce hydrogen, but the cost of processing methane is lower. This is why we are looking for alternatives,” Donzé said.Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Energy, green energy, hydrogen, sustainability]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/23/24 11:16am
Enlarge / Mining operations start right at the edge of Bulqizë, Albania. (credit: Wikimedia Commons) “The search for geologic hydrogen today is where the search for oil was back in the 19th century—we’re just starting to understand how this works,” said Frédéric-Victor Donzé, a geologist at Université Grenoble Alpes. Donzé is part of a team of geoscientists studying a site at Bulqizë in Albania where miners at one of the world’s largest chromite mines may have accidentally drilled into a hydrogen reservoir. The question Donzé and his team want to tackle is whether hydrogen has a parallel geological system with huge subsurface reservoirs that could be extracted the way we extract oil. “Bulqizë is a reference case. For the first time, we have real data. We have a proof,” Donzé said. Greenish energy source Water is the only byproduct of burning hydrogen, which makes it a potential go-to green energy source. The problem is that the vast majority of the 96 million tons of hydrogen we make each year comes from processing methane, and that does release greenhouse gases. Lots of them. “There are green ways to produce hydrogen, but the cost of processing methane is lower. This is why we are looking for alternatives,” Donzé said.Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Energy, green energy, hydrogen, sustainability]

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[l] at 2/23/24 5:00am
Enlarge / The first stage of United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket was lifted onto its launch platform this week in preparation for an April liftoff with two NASA astronauts on Boeing's Starliner Crew Flight Test. (credit: United Launch Alliance) Welcome to Edition 6.32 of the Rocket Report! I'm writing the report again this week as Eric Berger is in Washington, DC, to receive a well-earned honor, the 2024 Excellence in Commercial Space Journalism Award from the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Cape Canaveral is the world's busiest spaceport, and this week, three leading US launch companies were active there. SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket, and a few miles away, Blue Origin raised a New Glenn rocket on its launch pad for long-awaited ground testing. Nearby, United Launch Alliance began assembling an Atlas V rocket for the first crew launch of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft in April. 2024 is shaping up to be a truly exciting year for the spaceflight community. As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets, as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar. Astroscale inspector satellite launched by Rocket Lab. Astroscale, a well-capitalized Japanese startup, has launched a small satellite to do something that has never been done in space, Ars reports. This new spacecraft, delivered into orbit on February 18 by Rocket Lab, will approach a defunct upper stage from a Japanese H-IIA rocket that has been circling Earth for more than 15 years. Over the next few months, the satellite will try to move within arm's reach of the rocket, taking pictures and performing complicated maneuvers to move around the bus-size H-IIA upper stage as it moves around the planet at nearly 5 miles per second (7.6 km/s).Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, ariane 6, Astroscale, blue origin, Boeing, Commercial space, rocket report, spacex, starliner, starship]

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[l] at 2/22/24 6:23pm
Enlarge / Odysseus passes over the near side of the Moon following lunar orbit insertion on February 21. (credit: Intuitive Machines) For the first time in more than half a century, a US-built spacecraft has made a soft landing on the Moon. There was high drama and plenty of intrigue on Thursday evening as Intuitive Machines attempted to land its Odysseus spacecraft in a small crater not all that far from the south pole of the Moon. About 20 minutes after touchdown, NASA declared success, but some questions remained about the health of the lander and its orientation. Why? Because while Odysseus was phoning home, its signal was weak. But after what the spacecraft and its developer, Houston-based Intuitive Machines, went through earlier on Thursday, it was a miracle that Odysseus made it at all.Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, intuitive machines, Odysseus lander, space]

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[l] at 2/22/24 4:59pm
Enlarge / Dave Limp, Blue Origin's new CEO, and founder Jeff Bezos observe the New Glenn rocket on its launch pad Wednesday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. (credit: Jeff Bezos via Instagram) Anyone who has tracked the development of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket has been waiting for signs of progress from the usually secretive space company. On Wednesday, engineers rolled a full-scale New Glenn rocket, partially made up of flight hardware, to a launch pad in Florida for ground testing. The first New Glenn launch is almost certainly at least six months away, and it may not even happen this year. In the last few years, observers inside and outside the space industry have become accustomed to the nearly annual ritual of another New Glenn launch delay. New Glenn's inaugural flight has been delayed from 2020 until 2021, then 2022, and for now, is slated for later this year. But it feels different now. Blue Origin is obviously moving closer to finally launching a rocket into orbit.Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, blue origin, cape canaveral, Commercial space, Jeff Bezos, launch, new glenn]

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[l] at 2/22/24 10:17am
The lads from Edgar Wright's 2013 sci-fi comedy World's End know when to start drinking and get "totally and utterly carparked." (credit: Universal Pictures) British comedian Michael McIntyre has a standard bit in his standup routines concerning the many (many!) slang terms posh British people use to describe being drunk. These include "wellied," "trousered," and "ratarsed," to name a few. McIntyre's bit rests on his assertion that pretty much any English word can be modified into a so-called "drunkonym," bolstered by a few handy examples: "I was utterly gazeboed," or "I am going to get totally and utterly carparked." It's a clever riff that sparked the interest of two German linguists. Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer of Chemnitz University of Technology and Peter Uhrig of FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg decided to draw on their expertise to test McIntyre's claim that any word in the English language could be modified to mean "being in a state of high inebriation." Given their prevalence, "It is highly surprising that drunkonyms are still under-researched from a linguistic perspective," the authors wrote in their new paper published in the Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association. Bonus: the authors included an extensive appendix of 546 English synonyms for "drunk," drawn from various sources, which makes for entertaining reading. There is a long tradition of coming up with colorful expressions for drunkenness in the English language, with the Oxford English Dictionary listing a usage as early as 1382: "merry," meaning "boisterous or cheerful due to alcohol; slight drunk, tipsy." Another OED entry from 1630 lists "blinde" (as in blind drunk) as a drunkonym. Even Benjamin Franklin got into the act with his 1737 Drinker's Dictionary, listing 288 words and phrases for denoting drunkenness. By 1975, there were more than 353 synonyms for "drunk" listed in that year's edition of the Dictionary of American Slang. By 1981, linguist Harry Levine noted 900 terms used as drunkonyms.Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, collostructions, drunkonyms, human cognition, language, Linguistics, science, slang]

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[l] at 2/22/24 9:09am
Enlarge / SpaceX's second Starship rocket is seen on the launch pad at its Starbase facility in South Texas. (credit: SpaceX) As SpaceX nears its first Starship launch of 2024—possibly as soon as within three weeks—from its Starbase facility in South Texas, the company is pressing regulators to increase its cadence of flights. During a press availability this week, the administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration, Kelvin Coleman, said the agency is working with the company to try to facilitate the Starship launch-licensing process. "They're looking at a pretty aggressive launch schedule this year," he said. "They're looking at, I believe, at least nine launches this year. That's a lot of launches. If you're doing modifications and doing them one by one, that's a lot of work. We've been talking to SpaceX constantly around the clock, coming together and trying to figure out how do we do this. We're invested with the company, and so we'll work with them to get them back going as soon as they can."Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, FAA, space, spacex, starship]

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[l] at 2/21/24 6:28pm
Enlarge / Space Perspective's first test capsule, Excelsior, has a diameter of approximately 16 feet (4.9 meters). (credit: Space Perspective) Space Perspective could begin test flights of its privately owned capsule suspended under a high-altitude balloon within the next couple of months, the company's co-founder told Ars this week. Florida-based Space Perspective released photos of its first completed test capsule Tuesday. The company will use this pressurized capsule, called Excelsior, for a series of test flights this year over the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Cape Canaveral. Taber MacCallum, Space Perspective's co-founder and chief technology officer, said employees have also finished fabricating the giant balloon that will lift the test capsule into the upper atmosphere for the first test flight. The final piece of the puzzle is a ship, named Marine Spaceport Voyager, that Space Perspective will use to launch the balloon and capsule. This vessel is due to depart an outfitting facility in Louisiana in the next few weeks for a trip to Port Canaveral, Florida, where Space Perspective will load aboard the capsule and balloon. Then, perhaps in four to six weeks, ground teams will be ready for the system's first test flight, according to MacCallum.Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, balloon, Commercial space, space perspective]

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[l] at 2/21/24 4:41pm
Enlarge / Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo speaks during a press conference at Neo City Academy in Kissimmee, Florida. (credit: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) A sixth student at Florida's Manatee Bay Elementary School outside of Fort Lauderdale has a confirmed case of measles, health officials announced late Tuesday. However, health officials are not telling unvaccinated students who were potentially exposed to quarantine. The school has a low vaccination rate, suggesting that the extremely contagious virus could spark a yet larger outbreak. But in a letter sent to parents late Tuesday, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo—known for spreading anti-vaccine rhetoric and vaccine misinformation—indicated that unvaccinated students can skip the normally recommended quarantine period. The letter, signed by Ladapo, noted that people with measles can be contagious from four days before the rash develops through four days after the rash appears. And while symptoms often develop between 8 to 14 days after exposure, the disease can take 21 days to appear. As such, the normal quarantine period for exposed and unvaccinated people, who are highly susceptible to measles, is 21 days.Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Health, Science, anti-vaccine, Florida, Ladapo, measles, MMR, vaccines]

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[l] at 2/21/24 3:56pm
Enlarge / Nitrogen tanks holding tens of thousands of frozen embryos and eggs sit in the embryology lab at New Hope Fertility Center in New York City on December 20, 2017. (credit: Getty | Carolyn Van Houten) The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) health system is halting in vitro fertilization treatment in the wake of a ruling by the state's Supreme Court on Friday that deemed frozen embryos to be "children." The ruling opens up anyone who destroys embryos to liability in a wrongful death lawsuit, according to multiple media reports. The announcement—the first facility to report halting IVF services—is the much-feared outcome of Friday's ruling, which was widely decried by reproductive health advocates. "We are saddened that this will impact our patients' attempt to have a baby through IVF, but we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments," UAB said a statement to media. The statement noted that egg retrieval would continue but that egg fertilization and embryo development are now paused.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Health, Science, Alabama, assisted reproductive technology, children, embryo, fertility, frozen embryo, IVF]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/20/24 1:15pm
Enlarge / January 17, 2024, Berlin: In the cell laboratory at the Fertility Center Berlin, an electron microscope is used to fertilize an egg cell. (credit: Getty | Jens Kalaene) The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday ruled that frozen embryos are "children," entitled to full personhood rights, and anyone who destroys them could be liable in a wrongful death case. The first-of-its-kind ruling throws into question the future use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) involving in vitro fertilization for patients in Alabama—and beyond. For this technology, people who want children but face challenges to conceiving can create embryos in clinical settings, which may or may not go on to be implanted in a uterus. In the Alabama case, a hospital patient wandered through an unlocked door, removed frozen, preserved embryos from subzero storage and, suffering an ice burn, dropped the embryos, destroying them. Affected IVF patients filed wrongful-death lawsuits against the IVF clinic under the state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The case was initially dismissed in a lower court, which ruled the embryos did not meet the definition of a child. But the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that "it applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation." In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker cited his religious beliefs and quoted the Bible to support the stance.Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Alabama, Alabama Supreme Court, art, embryos, fertlized egg, IVF, reproductive health]

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[l] at 2/20/24 11:59am
Enlarge (credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser) Quasars initially confused astronomers when they were discovered. First identified as sources of radio-frequency radiation, later observations showed that the objects had optical counterparts that looked like stars. But the spectrum of these ostensible stars showed lots of emissions at wavelengths that didn't seem to correspond to any atoms we knew about. Eventually, we figured out these were spectral lines of normal atoms but heavily redshifted by immense distances. This means that to appear like stars at these distances, these objects had to be brighter than an entire galaxy. Eventually, we discovered that quasars are the light produced by an actively feeding supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy. But finding new examples has remained difficult because, in most images, they continue to look just like stars—you still need to obtain a spectrum and figure out their distance to know you're looking at a quasar. Because of that, there might be some unusual quasars we've ignored because we didn't realize they were quasars. That's the case with an object named J0529−4351, which turned out to be the brightest quasar we've ever observed.Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, accretion disk, astronomy, astrophysics, black hole, quasar, supermassive black hole]

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[l] at 2/20/24 10:08am
Enlarge / Oil painting by Victor Eustaphieff of Charles Darwin in his study at Down House. One of the many bookcases that made up his extensive personal library is reflected in the mirror. (credit: State Darwin Museum, Moscow) Famed naturalist Charles Darwin amassed an impressive personal library over the course of his life, much of which was preserved and cataloged upon his death in 1882. But many other items were lost, including more ephemeral items like unbound volumes, pamphlets, journals, clippings, and so forth, often only vaguely referenced in Darwin's own records. For the last 18 years, the Darwin Online project has painstakingly scoured all manner of archival records to reassemble a complete catalog of Darwin's personal library virtually. The project released its complete 300-page online catalog—consisting of 7,400 titles across 13,000 volumes, with links to electronic copies of the works—to mark Darwin's 215th birthday on February 12. “This unprecedentedly detailed view of Darwin’s complete library allows one to appreciate more than ever that he was not an isolated figure working alone but an expert of his time building on the sophisticated science and studies and other knowledge of thousands of people," project leader John van Wyhe of the National University of Singapore said. "Indeed, the size and range of works in the library makes manifest the extraordinary extent of Darwin’s research into the work of others.”Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, charles darwin, darwin online, History, history of science, virtual library]

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[l] at 2/20/24 8:31am
Enlarge / This artist's illustration released by Astroscale shows the ADRAS-J spacecraft (left) approaching the defunct upper stage from a Japanese H-IIA rocket. (credit: Astroscale) Astroscale, a well-capitalized Japanese startup, is preparing a small satellite to do something that has never been done in space. This new spacecraft, delivered into orbit Sunday by Rocket Lab, will approach a defunct upper stage from a Japanese H-IIA rocket that has been circling Earth for more than 15 years. Over the next few months, the satellite will try to move within arm's reach of the rocket, taking pictures and performing complicated maneuvers to move around the bus-size H-IIA upper stage as it moves around the planet at nearly 5 miles per second (7.6 km/s). These maneuvers are complex, but they're nothing new for spacecraft visiting the International Space Station. Military satellites from the United States, Russia, and China also have capabilities for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO), but as far as we know, these spacecraft have only maneuvered in ultra-close range around so-called "cooperative" objects designed to receive them.Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, Astroscale, Commercial space, electron, Japan, new zealand, rocket lab, space debris]

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[l] at 2/20/24 7:25am
Enlarge / Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Roscosmos Space Corporation Chief Yuri Borisov peruse an exhibit while visiting the Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia last October. (credit: Contributor/Getty Images) Russia's Duma, the lower house of the nation's federal legislature, passed a new law earlier this month that directs the Roscosmos State Corporation to make purchases through a closed bidding process. According to the Interfax news agency, the legislation expands the list of corporations, including Roscosmos subsidiaries and other "legal entities," that must participate in the government contract procurement processes via a closed bidding process. Passage of the amendment by the Duma, which is dominated by President Vladimir Putin's "United Russia" political party, signals that it will almost certainly become the law of the land. Based on the Russian news report, translated for Ars by Rob Mitchell, the idea for the law came from Roscosmos, the sprawling corporation that operates the majority of the country's civil and military space programs.Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, roscosmos]

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[l] at 2/19/24 4:14pm
Face of boy after three days with measles rash. (credit: CDC) Florida health officials on Sunday announced an investigation into a cluster of measles cases at an elementary school in the Fort Lauderdale area with a low vaccination rate, a scenario health experts fear will become more and more common amid slipping vaccination rates nationwide. On Friday, Broward County Public School reported a confirmed case of measles in a student at Manatee Bay Elementary School in the city of Weston. A local CBS affiliate reported that the case was in a third-grade student who had not recently traveled. On Saturday, the school system announced that three additional cases at the same school had been reported, bringing the current reported total to four cases. On Sunday, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County (DOH-Broward) released a health advisory about the cases and announced it was opening an investigation to track contacts at risk of infection.Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Health, Science, CDC, Florida, Infectious disease, measles, Transmission, vaccination rate, virus]

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[l] at 2/19/24 3:53pm
Enlarge / A new lens-free and compact system for facial recognition scans a bust of Michelangelo’s David and reconstructs the image using less power than existing 3D-surface imaging systems. (credit: W-C Hsu et al., Nano Letters, 2024) Facial recognition is a common feature for unlocking smartphones and gaming systems, among other uses. But the technology currently relies upon bulky projectors and lenses, hindering its broader application. Scientists have now developed a new facial recognition system that employs flatter, simpler optics that also require less energy, according to a recent paper published in the journal Nano Letters. The team tested their prototype system with a 3D replica of Michelangelo's famous David sculpture and found it recognized the face as well as existing smartphone facial recognition can. The current commercial 3D imaging systems in smartphones (like Apple's iPhone) extract depth information via structured light. A dot projector uses a laser to project a pseudorandom beam pattern onto the face of the person looking at a locked screen. It does so thanks to several other built-in components: a collimator, light guide, and special lenses (known as diffractive optical elements, or DOEs) that break the laser beam apart into an array of some 32,000 infrared dots. The camera can then interpret that projected beam pattern to confirm the person's identity. Packing in all those optical components like lasers makes commercial dot projectors rather bulky, so it can be harder to integrate for some applications such as robotics and augmented reality, as well as the next generation of facial recognition technology. They also consume significant power. So Wen-Chen Hsu, of National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University and the Hon Hai Research Institute in Taiwan, and colleagues turned to ultrathin optical components known as metasurfaces for a potential solution. These metasurfaces can replace bulkier components for modulating light and have proven popular for depth sensors, endoscopes, tomography. and augmented reality systems, among other emerging applications.Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, 3D surface imaging, facial recognition, nanotechnology, optics]

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[l] at 2/15/24 10:01pm
Enlarge / Discovered in 1931, Tridentinosaurus antiquus has now been found to be, in part, a forgery. (credit: Valentina Rossi) For more than 90 years, scientists have puzzled over an unusual 280 million-year-old reptilian fossil discovered in the Italian Alps. It's unusual because the skeleton is surrounded by a dark outline, long believed to be rarely preserved soft tissue. Alas, a fresh analysis employing a suite of cutting-edge techniques concluded that the dark outline is actually just bone-black paint. The fossil is a fake, according to a new paper published in the journal Paleontology. An Italian engineer and museum employee named Gualtiero Adami found the fossil near the village of Piné. The fossil was a small lizard-like creature with a long neck and five-digit limbs. He turned it over to the local museum, and later that year, geologist Giorgio del Piaz announced the discovery of a new genus, dubbed Tridentinosaurus antiquus. The dark-colored body outline was presumed to be the remains of carbonized skin or flesh; fossilized plant material with carbonized leaf and shoot fragments were found in the same geographical area. The specimen wasn't officially described scientifically until 1959 when Piero Leonardi declared it to be part of the Protorosauria group. He thought it was especially significant for understanding early reptile evolution because of the preservation of presumed soft tissue surrounding the skeletal remains. Some suggested that T. antiquus had been killed by a pyroclastic surge during a volcanic eruption, which would explain the carbonized skin since the intense heat would have burnt the outer layers almost instantly. It is also the oldest body fossil found in the Alps, at some 280 million years old.Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Archaeology, forgeries, fossils, geology, paleontology, science, Tridentinosaurus antiquus]

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