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3-million-year-old child skull had no soft spot, researchers say

A three-million-year-old child’s skull uncovered in South Africa has no signs of the kind of soft spot that would be seen in human children with larger brains, a study said Monday. The findings are the latest contribution to long-running debate over whether the Taung Child fossil may have represented the…

Experimental US hypersonic weapon explodes during flight test

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new hypersonic weapon developed by the U.S. military exploded shortly after lift-off from an Alaska test facility during a long-awaited flight test early Monday, the Pentagon said. No one was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after 4 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT) at the Kodiak…

Scientists alarmed at ‘incredible’ rate of ice sheet depletion

The planet’s two largest ice sheets – in Greenland and Antarctica – are now being depleted at an astonishing rate of 120 cubic miles each year. That is the discovery made by scientists using data from CryoSat-2, the European probe that has been measuring the thickness of Earth’s ice sheets…

Two recently launched Galileo satellites are in the wrong orbit

Two European Galileo satellites launched by a Russian-built rocket on Friday from French Guiana have not reached their intended orbit, launch firm Arianespace said Saturday. “Observations taken after the separation of the satellites from the Soyuz VS09 (rocket) for the Galileo Mission show a gap between the orbit achieved and…

Thousand-robot swarm assembles itself into complex shapes — on its own

There is something magical about seeing 1,000 robots move, when humans are not operating any of them. In a new study published in Science, researchers have achieved just that. This swarm of 1,000 robots can assemble themselves into complex shapes without the need for a central brain or a human…

Miami and New York City are ground zero in the battle against the rising seas

Originally published at Climate Central Walking along the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale and admiring the 60-foot yachts docked alongside impressive homes, it’s hard to imagine that this city could suffer the same financial fate as Detroit. But it is almost as hard to imagine how they will avoid a similar…

How science is using the genetics of disease to make drugs better

By Mark Lawler, Queen’s University Belfast Personalised medicine is the ability to tailor therapy to an individual patient so that, as it’s often put, the right treatment is given to the right patient at the right time. But just how personal is it? While the phrase might conjure up images…

New study highlights precarious state of the world’s primary forests

An estimated 95 percent of the primary forests that existed prior to the advent of agriculture have been lost in non-protected areas, according to new research published online Thursday in the Society for Conservation Biology journal Conservation Letters. The paper, which was prepared by an international team……

39 kilotons a year: Mysterious source of ozone-depleting chemical banned since 2009 baffles NASA

A chemical used in dry cleaning and fire extinguishers may have been phased out in recent years but NASA said Wednesday that carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is still being spewed into the atmosphere from an unknown source. The world agreed to stop using CC14 as part of the Vienna Convention on…

Medically-assisted ‘suicide tourism’ to Switzerland on the rise

A total of 172 “suicide tourists” travelled to Switzerland in 2012, double the 2009 number, to die with medical assistance — a practice prohibited in many countries, a study said Thursday. German and UK citizens were the bulk of visitors, and the reasons most often cited were neurological conditions like…

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