Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 8:17 am
For a few weeks last year, Michael Tranfaglia and Katie Clapp saw a remarkable change in their son, Andy, who'd been left autistic and intellectually disabled by fragile X syndrome. Andy, who is 25, became more social, more talkative and happier. "He was just doing incredibly well," his father says.
A Wesleyan astronomer has just returned from a conference in Tokyo, Japan, where she discussed research from the ALMA space telescope -- a radio observatory partly funded by the National Science Foundation -- which is just finishing construction.
Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 3:26 pm
Some researchers who study the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome got an early Christmas present: permission to resume experiments that the federal government abruptly halted in October.
Even more striking, women ages 18 to 24 who are in college or trade school are less likely to report such incidents than those who aren't in school, despite the increasing number of sexual assault advocates and counselors on campus in recent years.
Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 8:12 am
An online contest for data scientists has produced a great leap forward in efforts to predict when someone with epilepsy is going to have a seizure. The winning team used data on electrical activity in the brain to develop an algorithm that predicted seizures 82 percent of the time.
Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 2:01 pm
Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.
Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.
Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 12:41 pm
Signs of water currents and sediments are seen in the latest photos NASA's Curiosity rover sent home from Mars, the space agency said Monday. The images suggest "ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes," NASA says.
In the huge Gale Crater where Curiosity has been exploring, the water and sediment flow might have been massive enough to build a mountain — the 3-mile-high Mount Sharp — NASA researchers say. But they acknowledge that they're still working to solve the mystery of how the mountain formed in a crater.
Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 2:38 pm
Update at 9:35 a.m. ET
NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day send astronauts to Mars, is stuck on terra firma for at least another day after the space agency's mission control was unable to satisfactorily resolve a number of issues before a 9:45 a.m. ET launch window closed.
Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 2:03 pm
The search for the massive star explosions called supernovae is about to get a big boost. Astronomers at Caltech in Pasadena are building a new camera that will let them survey the entire night sky in three nights.
The problem with looking for supernovae is you can't really be sure when and where to look for them. Most telescope cameras can only capture a small patch of sky at a time. But the new camera, to be mounted on a telescope at the Palomar Observatory, has a much larger field of view.
If you're looking for life elsewhere in the universe, there's a lot to look at, and computers are pretty good at it. At least, they're good at analyzing the stuff you tell them -- for example, the brightness of stars in our sky.
Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 12:11 pm
The European Space Agency released a new photo Thursday of the Philae lander safely resting in its new home on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as it hurtles through space. The agency's data also show the lander bounced twice before coming to rest.
Researchers in New York and Vermont are still scrambling to understand the disease known as white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungus that has killed millions of bats since it was first identified near Albany, New York in 2006.
Caves in the Adirondacks, the Black River Valley, the Champlain Valley, and Vermont have been especially hard-hit.
Medicare-funded breast cancer screenings jumped 44 percent from $666 million to $962 million from 2001 to 2009, yet those added costs did not improve early detection rates among the 65 and older Medicare population, according to a Yale School of Medicine study published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 5:03 pm
In a darkened lab in the north of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.
"It's like microsurgery," says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.
Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.
Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 11:00 am
Red means stop; green means go. You live in a red or a blue state. You feel green with envy, or you're tickled pink. Colors alert, provoke, attract, divide and unite us.
Thinkers from Plato to Einstein to a new cottage industry of color psychologists have studied the importance of color in our daily lives. But, as Joann and Arielle Eckstut write in their book The Secret Language of Color: "Anyone who claims to be an expert on color is a liar."
Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 12:24 pm
If there's one thing college kids do best, it's thinking creatively. Often operating with limited resources and tight deadlines, they're used to coming up with ingenious solutions to life's everyday problems (usually on little sleep). So it's no surprise that experts are turning to students for help in battling one of this year's most pressing global health issues: the Ebola outbreak.
A new United Nations report is warning that fossil fuels must be entirely phased out by the end of the century in order to avoid dangerous and irreversible damage to the Earth's climate.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" consequences if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut to zero by 2100.
Examples of "irreversible" change include a runaway melt of the Greenland ice cap that would trigger devastating sea-level rise and could swamp coastal cities and disrupt agriculturally critical monsoons.