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Floodway opening a blessing for Louisiana refineries

KROTZ SPRINGS, Louisiana (Reuters) – The opening of a key spillway to relieve flooding along the Mississippi River could create logistical headaches for big Gulf Coast refiners, but will likely spare the lion’s share of the area’s refining capacity from flooding danger. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Saturday…

Scientists find ‘master switch’ to controlling human fat

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have found that a gene linked to diabetes and cholesterol is a “master switch” that controls other genes found in fat in the body, and say it should help in the search for treatments for obesity-related diseases. In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the British researchers…

Astronauts board Endeavour for next-to-last shuttle flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AFP) – Astronauts boarded the space shuttle Endeavour on Monday as it prepared to blast off toward International Space Station on the penultimate flight for the US shuttle program. The 8:56 am (1256 GMT) launch is expected to draw as many as 500,000 onlookers to the area…

Experimental AIDS vaccine showing promise in monkeys

CHICAGO/LONDON (Reuters) – An experimental vaccine helped monkeys with a form of the AIDS virus control the infection for more than a year, suggesting it may lead to a vaccine for people, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. They said the vaccine works by priming the immune system to quickly attack…

Are humans reshaping Earth?

LONDON (AFP) – If alien geologists were to visit our planet 10 million years from now, would they discern a distinct human fingerprint in Earth’s accumulating layers of rock and sediment? Will homo sapiens, in other words, define a geological period in the way dinosaurs — and their vanishing act…

Space shuttle Endeavour begins countdown

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — Countdown has begun for the final flight of the Endeavour, scheduled to lift off Monday on the American space program’s second to last mission to the International Space Station. Astronauts will deliver a potent physics experiment to probe the origins of the universe during the 16-day…

Astronomers start search for alien signals from 86 planets

WASHINGTON — A massive radio telescope in rural West Virginia has begun listening for signs of alien life on 86 possible Earth-like planets, US astronomers said Friday. The giant dish began this week pointing toward each of the 86 planets — culled from a list of 1,235 possible planets identified…

Swiss solar powered airplane launches first international flight

PAYERNE, Switzerland (AFP) – Pioneering Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse, which holds a 26-hour record for flight duration, took off from Switzerland on Friday on its first international flight to Belgium. The experimental emissions-free aircraft is expected to take about 12 hours to complete the journey to Brussels Airport, the…

Breakthrough study finds drug therapy curbs HIV transmission

WASHINGTON — People with HIV who take antiretroviral drugs before their health declines have a 96 percent lower risk of transmitting the virus to their partners, a breakthrough global study released Thursday said. The large study that covered mainly heterosexual couples in Africa, India and the Americas was hailed by…

Scientists find startling new method for measuring male fertility

Scientists are suggesting that a man’s fertility may correlate to his “anogenital distance”, i.e., the span between his scrotum and his anus. A study from Baylor College of Medicine found that in animals, genital size and development are closely linked to anogenital distance and is shorter in males whose testicular…

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