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04/27/2017
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Traced to Gut Bacteria

Rachael Rettner, LS

People with chronic fatigue syndrome may have imbalances in their gut bacteria, a new study suggests.The study found that people with chronic fatigue syndrome had higher levels of certain gut bacteria and lower levels of others compared to healthy people who didn’t have the condition.The researchers then checked to see if these imbalances also characterized the subset of patients in the study who had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an intestinal disorder that is common in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Why Bill Nye’s Show Won’t “Save the World”

The Conversation

Netflix’s new talk show, Bill Nye Saves the World, debuted the night before people around the world joined together to demonstrate and March for Science. Many have lauded the timing and relevance of the show, featuring the famous Science Guy as its host, because it aims to myth-bust and debunk anti-scientific claims in an alternative-fact era.

Some Animals Can Survive Being Eaten

Sandrine Ceurstemont, BBC Earth

It was probably the trip of a lifetime. In 2012, biologists on an expedition to East Timor in southeast Asia spotted a brahminy blind snake wriggling out of somewhere quite unexpected: the rear end of a common Asian toad.Mark O’Shea from the University of Wolverhampton in the UK and his colleagues witnessed the unusual event by chance after finding the pair under a rock. It is the first account of prey surviving digestion by a toad and of an animal as big as a blind snake emerging from a digestive tract alive.

NASA: 80 Million Dollars Wasted on Spacesuit Design

Eric Berger, Ars Tech

When NASA began developing a rocket and spacecraft to return humans to the Moon a decade ago as part of the Constellation Program, the space agency started to think about the kinds of spacesuits astronauts would need in deep space and on the lunar surface. After this consideration, NASA awarded a $148 million contract to Oceaneering International, Inc. in 2009 to develop and produce such a spacesuit.However, President Obama canceled the Constellation program just a year later, in early 2010. Later that year, senior officials at the Johnson Space Center recommended canceling the Constellation…

Microlensing Reveals Frigid, Earth-Sized Exoplanet

John Wenz, Astronomy

Things are cold on OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, but to astronomers, its discovery is red hot. That’s because it is the smallest planet ever detected through gravitational microlensing, a quirk of physics that briefly makes distant objects appear brighter when a massive object passes between it and Earth.NASA made the announcement of its discovery today. (A preprint of the paper is available here.) Using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, the team led by Ian Bond of Massey University found the Earth-size world at a distance from its parent star similar to that of Earth. Don’t pack up your bags…

Cassini Dives Between Saturn and Its Rings

Bill Chappell, NPR

If all goes to plan, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will beam new images of Saturn and its rings to Earth early Thursday, sharing data collected Wednesday from its first dive through the gap between the planet and its striped belt of ice and rock particles.Today’s dive also marks the start of the final phase in the craft’s 13-year visit to Saturn. Days ago, it used the gravity of Saturn’s moon Titan to bend its path toward its eventual destruction on the planet.

The Secret Power of the Cell’s Trash Bin

Esther Landhuis, Quanta

At a conference in Maine during the summer of 2008, the biochemist David Sabatini stood before an audience of his peers, prepared to dazzle them with a preview of unpublished results emerging from his lab at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The presentation did not go over well. His group was studying mTOR, a cellular enzyme he and colleagues had discovered more than a decade earlier. Among other things, they had tried to find out where mTOR aggregates inside cells, since this seemed likely to help explain the enzyme’s remarkable but mysterious…

Clever Chemistry Can Protect Coral Reefs

Josh Bloom, ACSH

How many of these tropical fish can you name? If you’re an avid snorkeler or scuba diver, probably all of them (1). Seeing them in their natural habitat – a coral reef – is an amazing experience. But, the fish that you might see in salt water aquariums (usually not these) may have gotten there in a way that is also amazing, but not in a good way.

Lull Found in Mars’ History of Heavy Bombardment

Mike Wall, Space.com

Mars enjoyed about 400 million years of relative peace between two giant-impact epochs long ago, a new study suggests. Researchers determined that there were likely no gigantic impacts on the Red Planet between about 4.5 billion years ago and the “Late Heavy Bombardment” (LHB) era, which is thought to have lasted from 4.1 billion to 3.8 billion years ago. “The new results reveal that Mars’ impact history closely parallels the bombardment histories we’ve inferred for the moon, the asteroid belt, and the planet Mercury,” study lead author Bill Bottke, of the Southwest Research Institute and…

Robot Prints World’s Largest ‘Botmade’ Building

Matthew Hutson, Science

In just half a day, a new type of robot built an igloo-shaped building half the diameter of the U.S. Capitol domeall by itself. In the future, such autonomous machines could assemble entire towns, create wacky Dr. Seusslike structures, and even prepare the moon for its first human colony.It’s an impressive project, says Matthias Kohler, an architect who studies autonomous construction at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, but was not involved in the work.

The Loophole in the Hedonic Treadmill

Jeanette Bicknell, Nautilus

When Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, in The House of the Dead, that Man is a creature that can get accustomed to anything, he was talking about the cruelties and deprivations of life in Siberian prison camp. But the human tendency to adapt or get accustomed to situations is more profound than even Dostoyevsky may have realized.Imagine a person who, after years of drinking bland, watery beer from a mass-market brewery, finally tastes a really good craft beer. At first she notices the intensity of the flavor. A few more sips and she comes to appreciate the beer’s complexity and the…

Common Drugs May Take Edge Off Dementia

Beth Mole, Ars Tech

Tried, true, and FDA-approved drugs for cancer and depressionalready in medicine cabinetsmay also be long-sought treatments for devastating brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other forms of dementia, according to a new study in Brain, a Journal of Neurology.The research is still in early stages; it only involved mouse and cell experiments, which are frequently not predictive of how things will go in humans. Nevertheless, the preliminary findings are strong, and scientists are optimistic that the drugs could one day help patients with progressive brain disease….

How Did Complex Life Reach the Galapagos Islands?

Ethan Siegel, SWaB!

One glance at the Galapagos Islands, and you’re sure to have your breath taken away. Giant tortoises, flightless birds, marine iguanas, and dandelions the size of trees are among the many incredible living beings you’ll find, unique to this string of islands. The fact that seeds were blown here by the wind, that eggs and creatures either flew, swam, or drifted here, and that ocean life followed the currents to the waters of the Galapagos is the easy part to envision. What’s difficult is to picture how these volcanic islands came to be hospitable to such a diversity of creatures. Thanks to…

Getting a Leg up on the New Canine Family Tree

Erin Ross, Nature News

A new family tree of dogs containing more than 160 breeds reveals the hidden history of man’s best friend, and even shows how studying canine genomes might help with research into human disease.In a study published on 25 April in Cell Reports, scientists examined the genomes of 1,346 dogs to create one of the most diverse maps produced so far tracing the relationship between breeds1. The map shows the types of dog that people crossed to create modern breeds and reveals that canines bred to perform similar functions, such as working and herding dogs, don’t necessarily share the same origins….

Old Stars Learn New Tricks

Alan Duffy, Cosmos Magazine

When textbooks are proven wrong, we scientists can’t help but celebrate. So let’s raise a glass to the white dwarf!We have always dismissed these aged fellows as defunct relics of a sun-sized star. Now one has surprised us. Instead of going off gently into that good night, it is zapping the universe with a spinning beam of radiation. For astrophysicists like me, this is like hearing a retired centenarian has entered the world heavyweight boxing championships and is punching with the best of them.This unexpected behavior was reported in a January issue of Nature Astronomy by David Buckley at…

Mosquito Wingbeats May Aid Fight Against Malaria

Daniel Gross, Mosaic

It’s a warm summer afternoon in the Tanzanian village of Lupiro, and Mikkel Brydegaard is crouching in a brick hut, trying to fix a broken laser. Next to him, on a tall tripod, three telescopes point through a window at a tree in the distance. A laptop rests on an upturned box, waiting to receive a signal.With a working laser, this system is known as lidar like radar, Brydegaard tells me, but using a laser instead of radio waves. The setup is supposed to gather precise data about the movement of malaria mosquitoes. But as the sun starts to set outside, Brydegaard is getting nervous. He…

‘Noisy’ Light Tracks Objects in Fog

Michael Allen, Physics World

A simple, optical technique for tracking obscured or hidden objects has been developed by physicists in the US. The method uses randomized light signals to detect moving objects obscured by fog, cloud or other scattering media. The researchers say the technique could not only be useful for military and civilian surveillance, overcoming the limitations of radar and lidar, but also have biomedical applications.

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