March 26, 2012 |
Sometimes evolution gives and sometimes it takes away. Cats have lost their ability to taste sweets, and dolphins lost the sensors needed to pick up bitter or sweet flavors. From studying their DNA, scientists conclude that the common ancestor we share with these fellow mammals could taste all five of the major flavor types - sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and the more recently discovered savory flavor known as umami. But after we diverged, many lost some of their tasting ability.
March 8, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Earth's magnetic field is about to be shaken like a snow globe by the largest solar storm in five years. After hurtling through space for a day and a half, a massive cloud of charged particles is due to arrive early Thursday and could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks, and GPS services, especially in northern areas. But the same blast could also paint colorful auroras farther from the poles than normal. Scientists say the storm, which started with a massive solar flare earlier in the week, is growing as it races outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble.
February 5, 2012 |
Wind-turbine manufacturer Gamesa, a Spanish company with U.S. headquarters in Langhorne, is working with the Department of Energy to transform wind-power technology, making it cheaper and more reliable. Gamesa has sent a turbine to the department's National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado, where scientists will load it with sensors to verify how much power is produced at certain wind speeds and otherwise check the accuracy of computer models used to design the equipment. With all the instrumentation, one might compare the turbine to a heart patient, except "this is more like an athlete," said Jeroen van Dam, senior engineer at the lab. By better understanding how the turbine works, engineers can design closer to the limits, he said.
January 18, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - They came from Mars, not in peace, but in pieces. Scientists have confirmed that 15 pounds of rock collected recently in Morocco fell to Earth from Mars during a meteorite shower in July. It was only the fifth time that scientists chemically confirmed Martian meteorites that people had witnessed falling. The fireball was spotted in the sky six months ago, but the rocks were not discovered on the ground in North Africa until the end of December. The find is an important opportunity for scientists trying to learn about Mars' potential for life.
January 12, 2012 |
TEHRAN, Iran - It seemed a clockwork killing: Motorcycle riders flashed by and attached a magnetic bomb onto a car carrying a nuclear scientist working at Iran's main uranium-enrichment facility. By the time the blast tore apart the silver Peugeot, the bike was blocks away, weaving through Tehran traffic after what Iran calls the latest strike in an escalating covert war. The attack - which instantly killed the scientist and fatally wounded his driver Wednesday - was at least the fourth targeted hit against a member of Iran's nuclear brain trust in two years.
January 9, 2012 |
Every politician running for office has been singing the praises of innovation, that force on which the future of America itself depends. If only we could unleash innovation, they say, jobs and prosperity would gush forth. If only it were as easy as they make it sound. Eastman Kodak Co. was plenty innovative in its day, but it's what the iconic company did (or didn't do) with those great ideas that has brought it to its current cash-poor state. In fact, encouraging innovation and making the U.S. economy more competitive is quite complicated and "does not lend itself to sound bites," said Stephen S. Tang , president and chief executive officer of the University City Science Center in West Philadelphia.
December 13, 2011 |
After days of rumor and anticipation, physicists Tuesday morning will share the first results from the biggest and most expensive scientific apparatus ever built - the 17-mile Large Hadron Collider on the French-Swiss border. University of Pennsylvania physicist Brig Williams said he expected the announcement would involve hints - but not a full-fledged discovery - of an invisible and short-lived particle called the Higgs, or Higgs boson. That particle is the missing piece in the current picture of matter and the forces that govern it. "There's a general consensus that they're getting very close and it's getting very interesting," Williams said.
December 4, 2011 |
DURBAN, South Africa - Brighten clouds with sea water? Spray aerosols high in the stratosphere? Paint roofs white and plant light-colored crops? How about positioning "sun shades" over the Earth? At a time of deep concern over global warming, a group of scientists, philosophers and legal scholars examined whether human intervention could artificially cool the Earth - and what would happen if it did. A report released late Thursday in London and discussed Friday at the U.N. climate conference in South Africa said that - in theory - reflecting a small amount of sunlight back into space before it struck the Earth's surface would have an immediate and dramatic effect.
November 23, 2011 |
BASEBALL players and owners signed an agreement for a new labor contract yesterday, a deal that makes baseball the first North American professional major league to start blood testing on human growth hormone and expands the playoffs to 10 teams by 2013. The 5-year deal collective bargaining agreement makes changes owners hope will increase competitive balance. An initial positive test for HGH would result in a 50-game suspension, the same as a first positive urine test for a performance-enhancing substance.