By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) – The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell overall by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday. The conservation group’s Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humankind’s demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover. …
Apple has finally released its much-anticipated health app, but some are asking why the app has no feature for tracking a woman’s menstrual cycle. The app can track not only the usual suspects, such as daily calories consumed and number of steps taken, but also oodles of other health-related data, including users’ blood alcohol content, body fat percentage, respiratory rate and intake of sodium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, iodine, chromium and many other nutrients. Apps for monitoring menstrual cycle do exist. So why doesn’t Apple’s HealthKit have these features? …read more
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) – Normally it takes years to prove a new vaccine is both safe and effective before it can be used in the field. But with hundreds of people dying a day in the worst ever outbreak of Ebola, there is no time to wait. In an effort to save lives, health authorities are determined to roll out potential vaccines within months, dispensing with some of the usual testing, and raising unprecedented ethical and practical questions. “Nobody knows yet how we will do it. …
The finding could lead to a new class of drugs to treat depression, researchers say. That downer feeling involves the finely tuned, simultaneous firing of two different neurotransmitters in the brain. It is the ratio of the two neurotransmitters — one enhancing and one dampening positive feelings — that determines where on the disappointment spectrum you’ll fall, from “oh well” to “total bummer.” The scientists call this dual firing of neurotransmitters, which sets off the human sense of disappointment, a “dimmer switch” — essentially the neurochemical underpinnings for calling the proverbial glass of water half empty or half full. …read more
NASA has developed apps to track shooting stars and iPhone games to hunt comets, but its latest app is an educational project aimed at teaching kids all about rocket launches. The agency’s Launch Services Program (LSP) released the new free app called “LSP Activity Book” available for iPad and Android users. Kids can learn about the mission planning process and the precise measurements behind creating the right kind of launch vehicle. LSP prepares NASA’s unmanned spacecraft for launch.
By Caurie Putnam ROCHESTER N.Y. (Reuters) – Watch out Harry Potter, you are not the only wizard with an invisibility cloak. Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered a way to hide large objects from sight using inexpensive and readily available lenses, a technology that seems to have sprung from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter fantasy series. Cloaking is the process by which an object becomes hidden from view, while everything else around the cloaked object appears undisturbed. …
India has joined the Mars club. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) probe was captured by the Red Planet’s gravity around 10:11 p.m. EDT Tuesday (Sept. 23; 0211 GMT and 7:41 a.m. Indian Standard Time on Wednesday, Sept. 24), making India’s space agency just the fourth entity — after the United States, the European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union — to successfully place a spacecraft in Mars orbit. MOM’s historic arrival at Mars comes just two days after NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft reached the Red Planet, which now hosts five operational orbiters as well as two working surface craft — NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers.
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s low-cost mission to Mars successfully entered the red planet’s orbit on Wednesday, crowning India as the first country to complete the trip at its maiden attempt. The success of the Mars Orbiter Mission, lauded for its low price tag of $74 million, will boost India’s five-decade-old space programme that newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to expand with better infrastructure and technology. … …read more
Although the white coats that doctors wear have been scrutinized for their authoritarian look, the open-in-the-back gowns that hospital patients wear, and the effect these gowns have on patients’ dignity and state-of-mind while in the hospital, have gone largely unexamined. “There are a number of ways in which the hospital system traumatizes patients, and one of those is that we take away the patients’ clothes and put them in a somewhat depersonalizing, unisex blue gown, when that’s not completely necessary,” Dr. Todd Lee, an assistant professor of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, told Live Science. …read more
A particle detector floating 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth has analyzed 41 billion cosmic-ray particles, and the data have revealed new insights into the mysterious and invisible dark matter that physicists believe makes up 27 percent of the universe. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) detector aboard the International Space Station already gathered evidence of dark matter last year, but the new results are the most precise measurements of cosmic-ray particles yet. They include 50 percent more data, and have revealed new insights into the origin of the particles found in cosmic rays, Samuel Ting, a professor of physics at MIT and an AMS spokesman, said during a live webcast at the CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) lab in Switzerland yesterday (Sept. 18). Physicists theorized the existence of invisible, and so far undetectable, dark matter as a way to explain why galaxies and celestial bodies don’t just unravel and fly apart.
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