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ISS crew to embark on two spacewalks in August

LOS ANGELES — Four International Space Station crew members will embark on two spacewalks to install new equipment and replace defective installations, the US space agency NASA said Tuesday. Russia’s Gennady Padalka and Yury Malenchenko will carry out a six-hour spacewalk on August 20, the lead flight director for the…

Dutch gynecologist finds golden ratio in uteruses

The golden ratio is a scientific nugget that that has, for at least two thousand years, belonged as much to mysticism as to mathematics. It is just a number – 1.618 – but to its devotees the ratio expresses aesthetic perfection, and can be found wherever there is beauty. For…

Study: Americans fatter in the South

Fried chicken, fried okra and other fried cliches of US southern cuisine may be making their mark: a new study Tuesday shows that rates of obesity are highest in the US south. Just about one of every three adults in Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia and Alabama is considered obese, based…

Report: Fukushima disaster ’caused mutant butterflies’

Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies from near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, scientists said Tuesday, raising fears radiation could affect other species. Around 12 percent of pale grass blue butterflies that were exposed to nuclear fallout as larvae immediately after the tsunami-sparked disaster had abnormalities,…

Study casts doubt on human-Neanderthal interbreeding theory

When scientists discovered a few years ago that modern humans shared swaths of DNA with long-extinct Neanderthals, their best explanation was that at some point the two species must have interbred. Now a study by scientists at the University of Cambridge has questioned this conclusion, hypothesising instead that the DNA…

Obama to NASA experts: ‘Let me know if you find Martians’

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — US President Barack Obama on Monday ribbed scientists behind NASA’s roving robot Curiosity, instructing them to let him know right away if they found life on Mars. “If in fact, you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away,” Obama joked, as…

Europe braces as mosquitos venture north due to climate change

Behind air-tight doors in a lab in a southern French city, scientists in protective coveralls wage war against a fingernail-sized danger. Lurking in net cages is their foe: the Asian tiger mosquito, capable of spreading dengue fever and other tropical diseases in temperate Europe. First spotted in Albania in 1979,…

Obama tells NASA: ‘I thought about getting a mohawk myself’

During a Monday call to congratulate NASA for successfully landing the Curiosity rover on Mars, President Barack Obama acknowledged the “special mohawk guy” in the control room who had taken the Internet by storm. As the world watched the rover landing last week, NASA flight engineer Bobak Ferdowsi became an…

U.S. wind industry has capacity to power 13 million homes

The US wind energy industry is now providing enough capacity to power 13 million homes, equivalent to all of Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Alabama, and Connecticut combined. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) used the annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas last week to confirm that the sector…

Report: El Niño exacerbates Southeast Asia fire deaths

Forest and land fires in Southeast Asia kill an additional 15,000 people annually when the El Niño weather phenomenon grips the region, scientists have estimated. The deaths are caused by higher particle pollution and higher local levels of ozone, both of which are stressors for the lungs and heart, they…

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