Science & Technology


Medical ethicist outs scientific community for widespread 'plagiarism, fraud, and predatory publishing'

© Minh Uong/The New York Times
The scientific community is facing a 'pollution problem' in academic publishing, one that poses a serious threat to the "trustworthiness, utility, and value of science and medicine," according to one of the country's leading medical ethicists.

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, director of the Division of Medical Ethics in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, shares these and other observations in a commentary publishing April 3 in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

"The pollution of science and medicine by plagiarism, fraud, and predatory publishing is corroding the reliability of research," writes Dr. Caplan. "Yet neither the leadership nor those who rely on the truth of science and medicine are sounding the alarm loudly or moving to fix the problem with appropriate energy."

Comment: Science is beyond corrupt; it's rarely even science at all. Check out:
  • Report: How corporations undermine science with fake bloggers and bribes
  • Corrupt science: Cancer research of 10 years useless, fradulent studies, says Mayo Clinic
  • Incompetent research or corrupt science?


Frenemies? Russia and US agree to joint space projects: New space station and mission to Mars

Artist concept shows the Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) Space Systems Dream Chaser spacecraft attached to the International Space Station.
In a landmark decision, Russian space agency Roscosmos and its US counterpart NASA have agreed to build a new space station after the current International Space Station (ISS) expires. The operation of the ISS was prolonged until 2024.

"We have agreed that Roscosmos and NASA will be working together on the program of a future space station," Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov said during a news conference on Saturday.

The talks were held at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The two agencies will be unifying their standards and systems of manned space programs, according to Komarov. "This is very important to future missions and stations."

The ISS life cycle was to expire in 2020. "Under the ISS program the door will be open to other participants," Komarov told reporters.

The next goal for the two agencies is a joint mission to Mars, NASA chief Charles Bolden told journalists.

Roscosmos and NASA are working with each other and other partners on a global roadmap of space exploration, Bolden said. "Our area of cooperation will be Mars. We are discussing how best to use the resources, the finance, we are setting time frames and distributing efforts in order to avoid duplication."

Comment: If NASA "doesn't want" the government to finance low-orbit missions, they - and the government - must have reached an agreement with private companies, notably Virgin Galactic and SpaceX. Governments now seem to be more interested in controlling the lucrative travel destinations: space stations, the Moon and Mars.

Cheap mass transportation - like airlines today - will be left to private companies, since that area isn't so profitable. It appears that governments will have their hands full with mining, extracting resources from the Moon and Mars.

Magic Wand

Russian scientists invent bio-cement that will regenerate human bone tissue

© Flickr/ Adrian Barnes
Doctors are set to scan damaged bones and 3D-print the missing parts, which will later transform into the recipient's own tissue.

The scientists of the Russian National Research Nuclear University developed a technique to convert animal bones into material that can substitute the damaged parts of human bones, the institution's press service said in a statement.

The new substance is based on biological hydroxyapatite - a white powder that resembles cement when mixed with a biological polymer. It is soft and flexible like plasticine when kneaded but hardens after being placed on the damaged bone.

With time, the organism dissolves this "cement" replacing it with its own bone tissue. As the substance is derived from animal bones, it preserves biological activity, which is an essential advantage and a significant ground for successful regeneration.


Third 'Blood Moon' rises: Total lunar eclipse over the Western U.S.

© Reuters/Aly Song
The moon will pass through the Earth's shadow and turn blood-red in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, in a brief total eclipse best visible from the western part of the US.

It will be the third in a series of four total lunar eclipses, or a "tetrad," that began in mid-April last year. The second occurred in October 2014, and the last will be on September 28 this year. Tetrads are very rare: only seven more are expected by the year 2100.

Saturday's eclipse will also be the shortest in a century, with the moon spending just four minutes and 43 seconds completely in Earth's shadow. However, the time it will take for the moon to become completely occluded will be abnormally long, a whole 102 minutes, writes This is because the moon will have just reached apogee, its farthest point from the Earth.


Curiosity drives infant learning, Hopkins research shows

Want to make your baby smarter?

New research by the Johns Hopkins University has found that it may be as simple as throwing some surprises his or her way.

All babies are born with some natural smarts, but youngsters learn more about the world when this innate intelligence is challenged, cognitive psychologists Aimee E. Stahl and Lisa Feigenson discovered in a study that will be published Friday in the journal Science.

Comment: Babies raised in bilingual homes learn new words differently than infants learning one language


Electric cars are not so 'green' after all

Driving an electric car might not be as good for the environment as once thought, according to a report.

A segment on Canada's CBC Radio show "The Current" takes a closer look at the use of electric cars and their actual impact on the earth.

Citing programs that offer incentives to anyone who wants to ditch a gas-powered car for an electric one in Canada, the report says that if everyone switched to the "greener" electric cars, the overall emissions might not be any less than what they are now.

The disconnect lies where the power that fuels electric cars comes from. Electric charging stations are not always green themselves, according to the report, depending on which part of Canada they're in.

Black Cat 2

Blood moon and total lunar eclipse rising over U.S. Easter weekend

© David McNew/Getty Images
Get ready to feast your eyes on an extra special and rare total lunar eclipse Saturday morning that has some Christians worried this Easter weekend.

For the third time in less than a year, the moon will dip into Earth's shadow, turning its bright white globe a deep coppery red in a matter of minutes.

The action begins at 3:16 a.m. PST on the morning of April 4 when the edge of the moon first enters the amber core of Earth's shadow.

For the next hour and 45 minutes, Earth's shadow will move across the lunar disk, ultimately covering the entire moon at 4:58 a.m. PST.

The total phase of the lunar eclipse will only last about 5 minutes, making it the shortest lunar eclipse of the century on the morning of Easter Vigil, traditionally observed as the period between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The eclipse also falls within the first night of Passover, observed by Jews worldwide beginning Friday at sunset.


7-year old California girl gets 3D-printed prosthesis for $50

© Screenshot from video
A young girl has acquired a fresh perspective about wearing a prosthetic limb since she was able to help design the device through 3D technology - and for just $50 dollars.

The day after her blue-and-pink colored 'robohand' rolled off a 3D printer at the Build It Workplace on Tuesday in Orange County, California, Faith Lennox was already pedaling a bicycle around the company's parking lot with apparent ease.

The 3D hand "has made it easier for her to balance," her mother, Nicole Lennox, told AP. "She can distribute her weight more evenly without having to lean so far" when attempting to steer with just one hand.

The company that produced the hand, Build It Workspace, was founded less than a year ago by mechanical engineer Mark Lengsfeld. He told AP he has used 3D printers to create a number of products, "from pumps for oil and gas companies to parts for unmanned aerial vehicles," but this was the first time his company worked with prosthetics.

Lengsfeld admitted to reporters he was nervous about how the hand would work.

"But she did fine with it," he said, laughing.


Human language evolved with a 'Big Bang', study says April 1, 2015

© Thinkstock
Prevailing theories suggest that human language evolved slowly from a series of simple grunts and noises, to a complex spoken language between 75,000 and 100,000 years ago.

But now, according to a new study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers believe the rise of complex language took place relatively rapidly, not as a series of gradual changes as has been described previously.

The Big Bang of language

Some scholars have argued that we first started using a kind of "proto-language" before developing a language that included syntax, or rules that organized word and sentence structures. In the new study, researchers said some words show signs that they descended from a syntax-laden system, not just a collection of simple grunts and sounds.

Study author Shigeru Miyagawa, a linguistics professor at MIT, told redOrbit via email that cognitive developments in the brain allowed for the quick rise of complex language.

"One way to think about this is that the brain, which had been growing ever larger for over a million years, at some point 75,000 to 100,000 years ago, hit a critical point, and all the resources that nature had provided came together in a Big Bang and language emerged pretty much as we know it today," Miyagawa wrote. "It looks counterintuitive given how enormously complex language is, but when one considers that the brain was getting ready for it for more than million years, it isn't too far-fetched."

"This is also around the time that you see other higher-cognitive achievements, such as painted and carved art, refined tools, and sophisticated weapons," he noted.


Blackpoll Warbler's nonstop 1700-mile fly-or-die journey documented by researchers


Blackpoll Warbler
Small creatures can indeed accomplish great feats. A recent research aimed to track the migration route of blackpoll warbler, a small songbird which weighs about 12g - 15g, equivalent to AA batteries.

Researchers from University of Guelph, Acadia University, Bird Studies Canada, the University of Massachusetts, the Vermont Centre for Ecostudies and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute tracked the birds' flight by equipping them with tracking devices. They were attached to birds in Nova Scotia and Vermont in the summer. Researches also put coloured plastic bands for identification when they return. The geo-locators tracked the birds' flight path, but, because of their small size, they were not able to transmit the data remotely.

"We waited for them to return in the spring and then searched the forest to find the blackpolls with geo-locators," said William DeLuca, a research fellow at the University of Massachusetts, who led the Vermont part of the study.