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Tue, 17 Oct 2017
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Certain faiths are more likely to turn to religion for answers to scientific questions

When it comes to seeking answers to questions about science, evangelical and black Protestants and Mormons are more likely than the general population to turn to religion, according to a new study by researchers from Rice University's Religion and Public Life Program, the University of Nevada-Reno and West Virginia University.

The study, which is slated to appear in an upcoming edition of the journal Public Understanding of Science, is the first to measure whether people would actively consult a religious authority or source of information with a question about science, said lead researcher Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, a professor of sociology at Rice and director of Rice's Religion and Public Life Program.

"Our findings suggest that religion does not necessarily push individuals away from science sources, but religion might lead people to turn to religious sources in addition to scientific sources," Ecklund said.

The study, "Scientists and Religious Leaders Compete for Cultural Authority of Science," is based on a survey of 10,241 Americans who provided information about their confidence and interest in science, their religious characteristics and their political ideology. The sample included a wide range of people, including all religious groups as well as the nonreligious.

Comment: Considering the amount of religion masquerading as science is it any wonder people are confused?
© unknown

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New report warns: More than 30,000 scientific studies could be wrong due to widespread cell contamination dating back 60 years

Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands found that contaminated cells that have been used in research labs for decades might have influenced the results of more than 30,000 scientific papers.
More than 30,000 scientific papers could be flawed by contaminated cells, a study has found.

The report from Radboud University in the Netherlands revealed that 451 cell cultures used in thousands of experiments are contaminated.

Researchers are warning that these experiments could have led to authorities erroneously approving scores of ineffective treatments.

Some of the contaminated cells' origins date back to 1951, and they have been used in laboratories for upwards of six decades.


The 'Krack' hack attack: Security flaw puts every WiFi network at risk

The Krack Attack is the first flaw found in the WPA Wi-Fi encryption technique in 14 years
Every Wi-Fi connection is potentially vulnerable to an unprecedented security flaw that allows hackers to snoop on internet traffic, researchers have revealed.

The vulnerability is the first to be found in the modern encryption techniques that have been used to secure Wi-Fi networks for the last 14 years.

In theory, it allows an attacker within range of a Wi-Fi network to inject computer viruses into internet networks, and read communications like passwords, credit card numbers and photos sent over the internet.

The so-called "Krack" attack has been described as a "fundamental flaw" in wireless security techniques by experts. Apple, Android and Windows software are all susceptible to some version of the vulnerability, which is not fixed by changing Wi-Fi passwords. Tech companies have issued or are developing updates to fix it.

"It seems to affect all Wi-Fi networks, it's a fundamental flaw in the underlying protocol, even if you've done everything right [your security] is broken," said Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey's Centre for Cyber Security.

"[It means] you can't trust your network, you can't assume that what's going between your PC and router is secure."

Arrow Up

NASA: Ion thruster breaks power, propulsion records

© Global Look Press
How to get to Mars...
NASA's newest ion thruster has broken previous records of generating maximum power and propulsion in its latest test, suggesting the technology may become the future of deep space exploration.

The X3 thruster is being developed by researchers at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the US Air Force and NASA. The group has been working on the technology since 2009. They first developed a two-channel thruster, the X2, before the more powerful X3 was created.

The X3 thruster team said it broke records of generating maximum power output during recent testing at the Glenn Research Center of NASA in Ohio. Project lead Alec Gallimore said the thruster generated 5.4 N of thrust, the highest value of thrust recorded using a plasma thruster.

"We have shown that X3 can operate at over 100 kW of power," Gallimore told Space.com. "It operated at a huge range of power from 5 kW to 102 kW, with electrical current of up to 260 amperes. It generated 5.4 Newtons of thrust, which is the highest level of thrust achieved by any plasma thruster to date."

The X3 thruster is a Hall thruster, a type of system that uses a stream of ions to propel a spacecraft and expels plasma (a cloud of charged particles) to generate thrust. This allows for greater speeds than a traditional chemical propulsion rocket, and greater efficiency, as they require less propellant and can go about 10 times further on the same amount of fuel. "You can think of electric propulsion as having 10 times the miles per gallon compared to chemical propulsion," Gallimore said.


Scientists witness of gravitational waves and light from colliding of two neutron stars

© NSF LIGO Sonoma State University / A. Simonnet
A rendering of a neutron star merger
The team of scientists from the LIGO and Virgo observatories have confirmed they witnessed both gravitational waves and light coming from the collision of two neutron stars, definitively proving Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

Hundreds of scientists from 70 observatories on all seven continents - as well as an additional seven space-based laboratories - combined their resources and expertise to analyze the signal detected on August 17 this year.

"As these neutron stars spiraled together, they emitted gravitational waves that were detectable for about 100 seconds; when they collided, a flash of light in the form of gamma rays was emitted and seen on Earth about two seconds after the gravitational waves," the researchers wrote in a press release.

The scientific community, using some of the most sensitive machines ever built by humankind, managed to determine that the two dense, dead stars were 200 miles apart before they merged just 100 seconds later, producing ripples in the fabric of space time.

"It is tremendously exciting to experience a rare event that transforms our understanding of the workings of the universe,"says France A. Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds LIGO.

Comment: See also: Gravitational Waves: Einstein's Elusive Children


Herbicides & plant pathology: Cornell University study shows glyphosate damages soil-friendly bacteria

Cornell University researchers have found an agricultural conflict: negative consequences of the weed-killing herbicide glyphosate on Pseudomonas, a soil-friendly bacteria, they announced last week.

As farmers battle in their above-ground war on weeds using glyphosate-based herbicides, they may inadvertently create underground casualties - unintentionally attacking the beneficial bacteria that help crops guard against enemy fungus.

Comment: Un-Earthed: Is Monsanto's glyphosate destroying the soil?
It takes approximately 1,000 years for the earth to produce (on its own) a 2.5 inch thick layer of fertile soil. And yet, it may take only a single application of Roundup to irreversibly alter the microbial populations within the soil -- much in the same way that a single round of antibiotics may seriously and irreversibly alter your gut flora for the rest of your life.


Engineers develop a programmable "camouflaging" material

© Roger Hanlon
Sepia apama (giant Australian cuttlefish) expressing its papillae for camouflage purposes.
Woods Hole, Mass.-For the octopus and cuttlefish, instantaneously changing their skin color and pattern to disappear into the environment is just part of their camouflage prowess. These animals can also swiftly and reversibly morph their skin into a textured, 3D surface, giving the animal a ragged outline that mimics seaweed, coral, or other objects it detects and uses for camouflage.

This week, engineers at Cornell University report on their invention of stretchable surfaces with programmable 3D texture morphing, a synthetic "camouflaging skin" inspired by studying and modeling the real thing in octopus and cuttlefish. The engineers, along with collaborator and cephalopod biologist Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, report on their controllable soft actuator in the October 13 issue of Science.

Led by James Pikul and Rob Shepherd, the team's pneumatically activated material takes a cue from the 3D bumps, or papillae, that cephalopods can express in one-fifth of a second for camouflage, and then retract to swim away with minimal hydrodynamic drag. (See video below of live Octopus rebescens expressing its skin papillae.)

"Lots of animals have papillae, but they can't extend and retract them instantaneously as octopus and cuttlefish do," says Hanlon, who is the leading expert on cephalopod dynamic camouflage. "These are soft-bodied molluscs without a shell; their primary defense is their morphing skin."


Observatory in Argentina detects extragalactic cosmic rays reaching Earth, and will help in locating their source

© A. Chantelauze, S. Staffi, L. Bret
Fifty years ago, scientists discovered that the Earth is occasionally hit by cosmic rays of enormous energies. Since then, they have argued about the source of those ultra-high energy cosmic rays - whether they came from our galaxy or outside the Milky Way.

The answer is a galaxy or galaxies far, far away, according to a report published Sept. 22 in Science by the Pierre Auger Collaboration. The internationally run observatory in Argentina, co-founded by the late University of Chicago Nobel laureate James Cronin, has been collecting data on such cosmic rays for a more than a decade.

The collaboration found that the rate of such cosmic particles, whose energies are a million times greater than that of the protons accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider, is about six percent greater from one side of the sky than the other, in a direction where the distribution of galaxies is relatively high.


Largest digital survey of the visible Universe released by Pan-STARRS project astronomers

© Danny Farrow
Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium and Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestial Physics
The world's largest digital survey of the visible Universe, mapping billions of stars and galaxies, has been publicly released.

The data has been made available by the international Pan-STARRS project, which includes scientists from Queen's University Belfast, who have predicted that it will lead to new discoveries about the Universe.

Astronomers and cosmologists used a 1.8-metre telescope at the summit of Haleakalā, on Maui, Hawaii, to repeatedly image three quarters of the visible sky over four years.

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New study suggests last common ancestor of humans and apes was much smaller than previously thought - about the size of a gibbon

Our last common ancestor was swinging through the trees like a gibbon seven million years ago, new research has found. This means it was much smaller and nimbler than previously thought, giving scientists a fresh view of the dawn of human evolution
New research suggests that the last common ancestor of apes-including great apes and humans-was much smaller than previously thought, about the size of a gibbon. The findings, published today in the journal Nature Communications, are fundamental to understanding the evolution of the human family tree.

"Body size directly affects how an animal relates to its environment, and no trait has a wider range of biological implications," said lead author Mark Grabowski, a visiting assistant professor at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany who conducted the work while he was a postdoctoral fellow in the American Museum of Natural History's Division of Anthropology. "However, little is known about the size of the last common ancestor of humans and all living apes. This omission is startling because numerous paleobiological hypotheses depend on body size estimates at and prior to the root of our lineage."

Among living primates, humans are most closely related to apes, which include the lesser apes (gibbons) and the great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans). These "hominoids" emerged and diversified during the Miocene, between about 23 million to 5 million years ago. Because fossils are so scarce, researchers do not know what the last common ancestors of living apes and humans looked like or where they originated.