NASA Uses Its First Recycled SpaceX Rocket For a Re-Supply Mission

science - Posted On:2017-12-16 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Post: SpaceX racked up another first on Friday, launching a recycled rocket with a recycled capsule on a grocery run for NASA. The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off with a just-in-time-for-Christmas delivery for the International Space Station, taking flight again after a six-month turnaround. On board was a Dragon supply ship, also a second-time flier. It was NASA's first use of a reused Falcon rocket and only the second of a previously flown Dragon. Within 10 minutes of liftoff, the first-stage booster was back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, standing upright on the giant X at SpaceX's landing zone. That's where it landed back in June following its first launch. Double sonic booms thundered across the area. At SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, cheers erupted outside the company's glassed-in Mission Control, where chief executive Elon Musk joined his employees. The Dragon reaches the space station Sunday. The capsule last visited the 250-mile-high outpost in 2015. This time, the capsule is hauling nearly 5,000 pounds of goods, including 40 mice for a muscle-wasting study, a first-of-its-kind impact sensor for measuring space debris as minuscule as a grain of sand and barley seeds for a germination experiment by Budweiser, already angling to serve the first beer on Mars. Also onboard were several hundred Star Wars mission patches created by a partnership between Lucasfilm and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (the non-profit organization managing the ISS National Lab). Space.com reports that Elon Musk named the Falcon X after the original Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Local Roots: Farm-in-a-box coming to a distribution center near you

Science - Posted On:2017-12-16 12:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Eric and Matt could not be more earnest in their quest to feed the world.

These two fresh-faced LA boys founded Local Roots four years ago. Their first purchases were broken-down, 40-foot shipping containers—this is apparently easy to do, since it is cheaper for shipping companies to just churn out new ones rather than fix broken ones. Local Roots then upcycles them into modular, shippable, customizable farms, each of which can grow as much produce as five acres of farmland. The idea is to supplement, not supplant, outdoor agriculture. And Ars got a look at one of these "farms" when it was set up in New York City recently.

Every aspect of the TerraFarm, as the repurposed shipping containers have been dubbed, has been designed and optimized. The gently pulsing LED lights are purplish—apparently, that’s what lettuce likes—and the solution in which the plants are grown is clean and clear. The "farm" is bright and vibrant, and it smells great in there.

Read More

California: Here’s how to handle unfounded fears of cell phone cancer

Science - Posted On:2017-12-16 10:44:56 Source: arstechnica

The California Department of Public Health officially issued a guidance Friday on how to reduce exposure to radio-frequency energy released by cell phones—despite a lack of solid scientific data suggesting that such exposure poses any harm.

The guidance follows the Department’s legal defeat earlier this year surrounding the release of such a guidance.

In 2014, public health researcher Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, sued the department after it refused to release the guidance to him. The Department said at the time that its guidance was merely an unapproved, incomplete draft that was not ready for public release and could needlessly raise alarm. In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle at the time, the Department further explained that it had shelved the guidance years ago in accordance with the latest stance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the time—and to this day—the CDC says that there is no definitive data on the subject and that “more research is needed before we know if using cell phones causes health effects.”

Read More

The Science That's Never Been Cited

science - Posted On:2017-12-15 22:44:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Nature: One widely repeated estimate, reported in a controversial article in Science in 1990, suggests that more than half of all academic articles remain uncited five years after their publication. Scientists genuinely fret about this issue, says Jevin West, an information scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies large-scale patterns in research literature. After all, citations are widely recognized as a standard measure of academic influence: a marker that work not only has been read, but also has proved useful to later studies. Researchers worry that high rates of uncitedness point to a heap of useless or irrelevant research. In reality, uncited research isn't always useless. What's more, there isn't really that much of it, says Vincent Lariviere, an information scientist at the University of Montreal in Canada. To get a better handle on this dark and forgotten corner of published research, Nature dug into the figures to find out how many papers actually do go uncited (explore the full data set and methods). It is impossible to know for sure, because citation databases are incomplete. But it's clear that, at least for the core group of 12,000 or so journals in the Web of Science -- a large database owned by Clarivate Analytics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- zero-citation papers are much less prevalent than is widely believed. Web of Science records suggest that fewer than 10% of scientific articles are likely to remain uncited. But the true figure is probably even lower, because large numbers of papers that the database records as uncited have actually been cited somewhere by someone. "The new figures [...] suggest that in most disciplines, the proportion of papers attracting zero citations levels off between five and ten year after publication, although the proportion is different in each discipline," the report adds. "Of all biomedical-sciences papers published in 2006, just 4% are uncited today; in chemistry, that number is 8% and in physics, it is closer to 11%. In engineering and technology, the uncitedness rate of the 2006 cohort of Web of Science-indexed papers is 24%, much higher than in the natural sciences." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

New discovery pushes star Kepler-90’s menagerie to eight planets

Science - Posted On:2017-12-15 16:00:00 Source: arstechnica

If you have an emotional attachment to our Solar System’s distinctions, you may want to look away. We’ve found another star system with eight planets, tying our own mark. Oh, and a Google machine-learning algorithm is responsible for the discovery.

This is one of two new exoplanets scraped from the massive archive of data from the Kepler space telescope by NASA’s Andrew Vanderburg and Christopher Shallue of the Google AI team. Planets detected by Kepler show up as slight dips in the brightness of a star—the result of the planet passing in front and blocking some of the light. Some planets are more obvious than others, and the goal here was to turn the algorithm loose on digging through past measurements for weak signals that had been missed.

Like all machine learning systems, this one was fed measurements from previously identified exoplanets to work out what differentiates real signals from coincidental blips. The researchers say the system emerged with the ability to correctly identify false positives about 96 percent of the time.

Read More

NASA is trying to make the Space Launch System rocket more affordable

Science - Posted On:2017-12-15 15:45:00 Source: arstechnica

NASA has said that one of the strengths of its Space Launch System rocket is that the massive booster, in part, uses legacy hardware. These proven technologies, such as the space shuttle's main engines and the side-mounted rocket boosters, provide the agency with confidence that when it finally flies, the SLS will be reliable.

However, one problem with legacy hardware, built by traditional contractors such as Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne, is that it's expensive. And while NASA has not released per-flight estimates of the expendable SLS rocket's cost, conservative estimates peg it at $1.5 to $2.5 billion per launch. The cost is so high that it effectively precludes more than one to two SLS launches per year.

The space agency recognizes this problem with its rocket, and in the past it has solicited ideas on how best to cut the production and operations costs for its SLS rocket. Now, the agency appears to be actively considering alternative hardware, including the use of potentially lower-cost engines from a new space rocket company, Blue Origin.

Read More

World Health Organization clashes with DEA on marijuana compound CBD

Science - Posted On:2017-12-15 11:45:01 Source: arstechnica

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has long held that the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, cannabidiol, is a schedule I drug. That is, a drug that has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. But according to a preliminary report embraced by the World Health Organization this week, the DEA’s long-held stance is tripping.

In a preliminary report last month, the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence concluded—and WHO agreed—that clinical and pre-clinical studies of CBD show no evidence of a potential for users to abuse the drug or suffer any harms. Moreover, the experts found plenty of inklings that CBD has medical benefits, particularly for treating epilepsy. In its conclusion, the ECDD declared that the current data “does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol.”

The ECDD’s report is just a first glance, however. The committee, which is generally tasked with assessing which drugs should be internationally controlled (scheduled) and how, will take a more extensive look in May of 2018. Then, it will review cannabis overall, as well as other cannabis compounds.

Read More

Contact Lens Startup Hubble Sold Lenses With a Fake Prescription From a Made-up Doctor

science - Posted On:2017-12-15 11:45:00 Source: slashdot

Alison Griswold, reporting for Quartz: The Hubble contacts sitting in front of me are everything the ads promised: two weeks' worth of soft, daily lenses in robin's-egg-blue packaging. They arrived promptly, one week after I placed an order on Hubble's website, and three days after the company notified me the contacts had shipped. The lenses were packed in cream-colored boxes and came with a five-step guide, illustrated in different shades of pastel. There's only one problem: I don't wear contacts, and I ordered these using a fake prescription from a made-up doctor. Hubble was founded in May 2016 as a direct-to-consumer contact lens brand -- the Warby Parker of contacts, if you will. The company aims to make buying contact lenses as cheap and easy as shopping on Amazon. It has fast become a star of New York's startup scene, raising more than $30 million from investors that include Founders Fund and Greycroft Partners. Its valuation tops $200 million. Since the service officially launched in November 2016, Hubble claims to have sold $20 million worth of lens subscriptions, and says it's growing 20% month over month. Hubble expanded to Canada in August and plans to be in the UK as early as January. Quick service, cheap contacts, and whimsical branding have made Hubble a speedy success. But in its rush to disrupt the consumer experience, Hubble also appears to be playing fast and loose with some basic consumer protections. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

World Health Organization clashes with DEA on marijuana compound, CBD

Science - Posted On:2017-12-15 11:30:00 Source: arstechnica

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has long held that the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, cannabidiol, is a schedule I drug. That is, a drug that has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. But according to a preliminary report embraced by the World Health Organization this week, the DEA’s long held stance is tripping.

In a preliminary report last month, the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence concluded—and WHO agreed—that clinical and pre-clinical studies of CBD show no evidence of a potential for users to abuse the drug or suffer any harms. Moreover, the experts found plenty of inklings that CBD has medical benefits, particularly for treating epilepsy. In its conclusion, the ECDD declared that the current data “does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol.”

The ECDD’s report is just a first glance, however. The committee, which is generally tasked with assessing which drugs should be internationally controlled (scheduled) and how, will take a more extensive look in May of 2018. Then, it will review cannabis overall, as well as other cannabis compounds.

Read More

SpaceX has now successfully landed 20 rockets [Updated]

Science - Posted On:2017-12-15 11:15:00 Source: arstechnica

11am ET Update: Friday's launch went off without a hitch, with the Falcon 9 booster sending a Dragon spacecraft into a good orbit to reach the International Space Station. Then, the first stage safely—if a bit sooty—made a near perfect landing back on Earth. This marks the company's 20th successful landing overall, and 16th in a row.

Original post: SpaceX will attempt to send a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on Friday morning, with an instantaneous launch window that opens at 10:36am ET. There are some clouds at the launch site, but overall weather conditions appear favorable for a liftoff today.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether the technical problems with the launch have been solved. Originally targeted for Tuesday, SpaceX delayed a day to Wednesday for additional pre-launch ground systems checks. Then the company delayed until Friday because it had detected "particles" in the fuel system of the rocket's second stage. As a result, it needed to conduct "full inspections and cleanings."

Read More

WHO Report: Data on marijuana compound does “not justify” DEA scheduling

Science - Posted On:2017-12-15 10:59:56 Source: arstechnica

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has long held that the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, cannabidiol, is a schedule I drug. That is, a drug that has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. But according to a preliminary report embraced by the World Health Organization this week, the DEA’s long held stance is tripping.

In a preliminary report last month, the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence concluded—and WHO agreed—that clinical and pre-clinical studies of CBD show no evidence of a potential for users to abuse the drug or suffer any harms. Moreover, the experts found plenty of inklings that CBD has medical benefits, particularly for treating epilepsy. In its conclusion, the ECDD declared that the current data “does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol.”

The ECDD’s report is just a first glance, however. The committee, which is generally tasked with assessing which drugs should be internationally controlled (scheduled) and how, will take a more extensive look in May of 2018. Then, it will review cannabis overall, as well as other cannabis compounds.

Read More

Watch live: SpaceX goes for its 17th launch of 2017

Science - Posted On:2017-12-15 09:14:57 Source: arstechnica

SpaceX will attempt to send a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on Friday morning, with an instantaneous launch window that opens at 10:36am ET. There are some clouds at the launch site, but overall weather conditions appear favorable for a liftoff today.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether the technical problems with the launch have been solved. Originally targeted for Tuesday, SpaceX delayed a day to Wednesday for additional pre-launch ground systems checks. Then the company delayed until Friday because it had detected "particles" in the fuel system of the rocket's second stage. As a result, it needed to conduct "full inspections and cleanings."

The rocket did go vertical on Space Launch Complex-40 early on Friday, increasing confidence that a flight will occur today. The Dragon spacecraft atop the rocket will carry 4,800 pounds of crew supplies and payloads, as well as more than 250 science and research payloads. About eight minutes after launch, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1.

Read More

Astronomers Have Come Up With a Better Way To Weigh Millions of Solitary Stars

science - Posted On:2017-12-15 02:14:58 Source: slashdot

Science_afficionado writes: By measuring the flicker pattern of light from distant stars, astronomers have developed a new and improved method for measuring the masses of millions of solitary stars, especially those hosting exoplanets. Stevenson Professor of Physics and Astronomy Keivan Stassun says, "First, we use the total light from the star and its parallax to infer its diameter. Next, we analyze the way in which the light from the star flickers, which provides us with a measure of its surface gravity. Then we combine the two to get the star's total mass." Stassun and his colleagues describe the method and demonstrate its accuracy using 675 stars of known mass in an article titled "Empirical, accurate masses and radii of single stars with TESS and GAIA" accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal. David Salisbury via Vanderbilt University explains the other methods of determining the mass of distant stars, and why they aren't always the most accurate: "Traditionally, the most accurate method for determining the mass of distant stars is to measure the orbits of double star systems, called binaries. Newton's laws of motion allow astronomers to calculate the masses of both stars by measuring their orbits with considerable accuracy. However, fewer than half of the star systems in the galaxy are binaries, and binaries make up only about one-fifth of red dwarf stars that have become prized hunting grounds for exoplanets, so astronomers have come up with a variety of other methods for estimating the masses of solitary stars. The photometric method that classifies stars by color and brightness is the most general, but it isn't very accurate. Asteroseismology, which measures light fluctuations caused by sound pulses that travel through a star's interior, is highly accurate but only works on several thousand of the closest, brightest stars." Stassun says his method "can measure the mass of a large number of stars with an accuracy of 10 to 25 percent," which is "far more accurate than is possible with other available methods, and importantly it can be applied to solitary stars so we aren't limited to binaries." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Noninvasive Radiation Therapy Halts Deadly Heart Rhythm

science - Posted On:2017-12-14 20:59:58 Source: slashdot

schwit1 shares a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): The patients were gravely ill, their hearts scarred by infections or heart attacks. In each, the electrical system that maintains a regular heartbeat had been short-circuited. They suffered frequent bursts of rapid heartbeats, which can end in sudden death. The condition kills an estimated 325,000 Americans each year, the most common cause of death in this country. And these people had exhausted all conventional treatments. So researchers at Washington University in St. Louis offered the patients something experimental: short bursts of radiation aimed at their hearts in an effort to obliterate the cells that were causing the electrical malfunctions. Results in the first five patients were published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the experiment seems to have worked -- offering hope to similar patients everywhere who have had no alternatives except a heart transplant. The treatment requires weeks to take full effect, so it cannot be used for cardiac patients who need immediate help. And the method must be studied in larger groups of patients over longer times, an effort that has already begun. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Space Is Not a Void

science - Posted On:2017-12-14 13:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares an article: When President Kennedy announced the Apollo Program, he famously argued that we should go to the moon because it is hard. Solving the technical challenges of space travel is a kind of civilizational achievement on its own, like resolving an interplanetary Rubik's Cube. The argument worked, perhaps all too well. As soon as we landed on the moon, humanity's expansion into the cosmos slowed and then stopped (not counting robots). If you were to draw a graph charting the farthest distance a human being has ever been from the surface of Earth, the peak was in 1970 with Apollo 13. With the successful moon landings, we solved all of the fundamental challenges involved in launching humans into orbit and bringing them back safely. The people watching those early feats of exploration imagined we would soon be sending astronauts to Mars and beyond, but something has held us back. Not know-how, or even money, but a certain lack of imagination. Getting to space isn't the hard part -- the hard part is figuring out why we're there. Sure, we can celebrate the human spirit and the first person to do this or that, but that kind of achievement never moves beyond the symbolic. It doesn't build industries, establish settlements and scientific research stations, or scale up solutions from expensive one-offs to mass production. Furthermore, as five decades of failing to go farther than our own moon have demonstrated, that kind of symbolism can't even sustain itself, much less energize new activity. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Just 20 percent of e-waste is being recycled

Science - Posted On:2017-12-13 18:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Opting to handle your bills online keeps a lot of paper out of the bin, but the devices you use to go online eventually die anyway. If this “e-waste” ends up in a landfill, the energy and materials that went into manufacturing and delivering those devices are lost. And besides being unsustainable, disposal can expose people to hazardous metals and compounds.

Apart from a story here and there about a new e-waste recycling project, it’s hard to get an idea of just how much e-waste is getting tossed around the world. A new report from the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union helps paint a picture by providing some global statistics.

Altogether, the report estimates that nearly 45 million tons of electronics were thrown out in 2016—and only about 20 percent of it is known to have been recycled. The report puts the value of the raw materials in that 45 million tons of e-waste at about $55 billion ($9 billion from smartphones alone), but most of that waste isn’t being recovered.

Read More

SB WUZ HERE: Surgeon pleads guilty to burning initials into patients’ organs

Science - Posted On:2017-12-13 16:45:00 Source: arstechnica

It’s usually OK to be proud of your work and lend your name to it. But most people would draw a line at signing their initials into the flesh of internal organs.

Bramhall previously worked at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital where he gained fame for a dramatic liver transplant in 2010. Bramhall transplanted a liver following the fiery crash-landing of the plane that was transporting the donor liver to Birmingham. Though the pilots were injured, the liver was intact and salvaged from the burning wreckage. The transplant spared the life of Dr. Bramhall's desperately ill patient.

Read More

The Environmental Cost of Internet Porn

science - Posted On:2017-12-13 16:30:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report (condensed for space): Online streaming is a win for the environment. Streaming music eliminates all that physical material -- CDs, jewel cases, cellophane, shipping boxes, fuel -- and can reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 40 percent or more. Scientists who analyze the environmental impact of the internet tout the benefits of this "dematerialization," observing that energy use and carbon-dioxide emissions will drop as media increasingly can be delivered over the internet. But this theory might have a major exception: porn. Since the turn of the century, the pornography industry has experienced two intense hikes in popularity. In the early 2000s, broadband enabled higher download speeds. Then, in 2008, the advent of so-called tube sites allowed users to watch clips for free, like people watch videos on YouTube. Adam Grayson, the chief financial officer of the adult company Evil Angel, calls the latter hike "the great mushroom-cloud porn explosion of 2008." Precise numbers don't exist to quantify specifics, but the impression across the industry is that viewership is way, way up. Pornhub, the world's most popular porn site, provides some of the only accessible data on its yearly web-traffic report. The first Year In Review post in 2013 tabulated that 14.7 billion people visited the site. By 2016, the number of visitors had almost doubled, to 23 billion, and those visitors watched more than 4.59 billion hours of porn. And Pornhub is just one site. Using a formula that Netflix published on its blog in 2015, Nathan Ensmenger, a professor at Indiana University who is writing a book about the environmental history of the computer, calculates that if Pornhub streams video as efficiently as Netflix (0.0013 kWh per streaming hour), it used 5.967 million kWh in 2016. For comparison, that's about the same amount of energy 11,000 light bulbs would use if left on for a year. And operating with Netflix's efficiency would be a best-case scenario for the porn site, Ensmenger believes. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Universities Spend Millions on Accessing Results of Publicly Funded Research

science - Posted On:2017-12-13 15:14:59 Source: slashdot

Mark C. Wilson, a senior lecturer at Department of Computer Science, University of Auckland, writing for The Conversation: University research is generally funded from the public purse. The results, however, are published in peer-reviewed academic journals, many of which charge subscription fees. I had to use freedom of information laws to determine how much universities in New Zealand spend on journal subscriptions to give researchers and students access to the latest research -- and I found they paid almost US$15 million last year to just four publishers. There are additional costs, too. Paywalls on research hold up scientific progress and limit the public(TM)s access to the latest information. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

After 14 months, a new and improved New Shepard flies again

Science - Posted On:2017-12-13 07:29:58 Source: arstechnica

When Blue Origin last flew its New Shepard system, the spacecraft intentionally triggered its abort system 45 seconds after launch. As the spacecraft blasted away from the booster, its escape motor slammed the rocket with 70,000 pounds of off-axis force and hot exhaust. Nevertheless, both the spacecraft and rocket returned safely to the West Texas launch site for a successful test flight.

In the 14 months since that abort-test flight, Blue Origin has been working on an upgraded version of the rocket—to improve its capacity for rapid, low-cost reusability—and the capsule in which six passengers will eventually ride to space inside. For example, the test capsule used during flights in late 2015 and 2016, had painted-on windows. The new variant has actual windows, which at 3.6 feet tall may be the largest of any spacecraft has flown into space.

Read More