Science

Newest oil spill flow rate: 35,000 to 60,000 barrels daily

The runaway Deepwater Horizon well is pouring 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration said Tuesday. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, however, warned that the estimate is still preliminary, and that it might be revised upward. | 06/15/10 17:38:15 By - Renee Schoof

Plan to burn excess oil from BP well raises health questions

Plans to burn hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil from BP's blown-out well are raising new questions about the health and safety of the thousands of workers on rigs and vessels near the spill site. | 06/11/10 18:53:00 By - Renee Schoof and Marisa Taylor

What Congress was told June 10 about BP Gulf oil leak

This is an e-mail summary of a conference call Thursday among members of Congress, congressional staff and Obama administration officials about the BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. | 06/10/10 19:32:51 By -

Cousteau: U.S. oil spill response reflects 'soul of this country'

Nearly 18 months ago, Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of the ecologist Jacques Cousteau and himself a renowned student of the seas, warned a congressional committee that the U.S. wasn't prepared to respond to potentially devastating oil spills. On Wednesday, he returned to Capitol Hill for a post-BP spill briefing with his worst nightmares realized. | 06/09/10 20:23:00 By - Andrew Seidman

Adm. Thad Allen's Wednesday briefing on the BP Gulf oil leak

This is the transcript of Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen's briefing Wednesday in Washington. The transcript was provided by the White House. | 06/09/10 17:51:25 By -

Transcript of Adm. Thad Allen's Tuesday BP oil leak briefing

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the National Incident Commander for the Deepwater BP Oil Spill response, and Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, briefed reporters Tuesday. This transcript was provided by the White House. | 06/08/10 19:02:25 By -

FDA shakeup advised to safeguard food supply

The Food and Drug Administration needs an overhaul, beefed-up enforcement authority and a new focus on spotting threats to the nation's food supply before serious outbreaks occur, according to a report released Tuesday. | 06/08/10 17:35:00 By - Tony Pugh

Oil layers below Gulf's surface may be cleanup challenge

Researchers have confirmed that oil is floating as deep as 3,300 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a finding that Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen suggested Tuesday will pose a cleanup challenge. "We have not generally done subsurface response," Allen said. "In my personal experience, I have not dealt with it." | 06/08/10 14:55:06 By - Jennifer Lebovich and James A. Jones Jr.

What Congress was told June 7 about the BP Gulf oil spill

This is an e-mail summary of a conference call held Monday afternoon with members of Congress, congressional staff members, and representatives of key government agencies to discuss the BP oil spill. | 06/07/10 20:30:00 By -

USDA begins survey of honeybee colonies in California, 12 other states

Concerned Agriculture Department officials on Monday announced the start of an ambitious survey of honeybee colonies in California and a dozen other states. | 06/07/10 17:50:56 By - Michael Doyle

With oil spill in patches, Coast Guard cuts use of dispersants

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday that the Gulf oil spill has broken into "hundreds or thousands" of oil patches, forcing federal officials to adapt their plans to keep up. He also made clear that the amount of oil flowing from the Deepwater Horizon well is far greater than previously acknowledged. | 06/07/10 14:11:03 By - Steven Thomma

Rig's manager says BP tried to skip test, changed drilling plan

Testifying before a federal inquiry in Louisiana, the Deepwater Horizonís offshore installation manager said that BP wanted to replace heavy drilling mud with lighter seawater without performing a negative-pressure test. He said the plan came from BP's Houston headquarters without federal approval. | 05/27/10 19:51:30 By - Joseph Goodman

BP not named to task force that will figure Gulf oil spill's size

The decision not to place a representative of BP on a new task force to determine how much oil is leaking from a damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico comes after a month in which Obama administration officials have stressed BP's preeminent role in the cleanup. The task force, however, does include an engineering professor who told Congress earlier this week that the spill is maybe 19 times larger than originally thought. | 05/21/10 18:52:02 By - Renee Schoof

Academy of Sciences defends climate-change research, conclusions

The National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific body, issued a strong defense of the science of climate change Wednesday and called for a long-lasting national policy to limit its effects. | 05/19/10 16:43:00 By - Renee Schoof

Tar balls, new forecast raise fears oil spill reaching Florida

Park rangers discovered 20 "tar balls'' on a Key West shore and spotted oil residue farther west in the Dry Tortugas Tuesday, stirring fear that the first sign of the massive BP oil spill had washed up on a Florida shore. | 05/18/10 13:40:28 By - Douglas Hanks and Carol Rosenberg

Robot subs deployed in search for oil under gulf's surface

The robots, measuring about six feet long and with little wings, have in the past been used to search for red tide, but now will be hunting for oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill. | 05/18/10 08:55:07 By - Sara Kennedy

Gulf oil spill still out to sea, but odor has reached shore

Areas of Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Gulfport reported pervasive petroleum smells Tuesday. It was described variously as a burned-plastic odor, odd waxy smell and the smell of diesel exhaust. It's to be expected, officials said, with all that crude oil in the Gulf. | 05/11/10 22:36:59 By - Karen Nelson

Engineers stymied on how to stop surging Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Nineteen days after oil started spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, experts appeared Sunday to have no certain plan for sealing anytime soon a runaway well 5,000 feet below the gulf's surface. Engineers were still deciding which scenario might temporarily stanch the flow, amid fears it could go on for another three months. | 05/09/10 19:53:00 By - Jennifer Lebovich, Michael Newsome and Laura Isensee

Gulf oil spill setback: Dome didn't work as planned

BILOXI, Miss. — Efforts to cap a leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a major setback Saturday, after ice-like crystals clogged the inside of a massive dome meant to contain an 18-day-long spill. | 05/08/10 18:59:00 By - Donna Melton and Patricia Mazzei

Gulf oil spill: BP has a long record of legal, ethical violations

The causes of the disastrous blowout and gas explosion on BP's leased Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico are a long way from being determined. Yet already BP's actions are facing unprecedented scrutiny. No wonder. The company's been in legal and ethical trouble for years. | 05/08/10 16:35:00 By - Richard Mauer and Anna M. Tinsley

Gulf oil spill setback: Dome doesn't work as planned

A mammoth white containment dome placed over a leaking oil well 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico was moved away from the well Saturday after ice-like crystals clogged the massive steel-and-concrete box. "I wouldn't say it failed yet," said BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles. "What I would say is what we attempted to do last night didn't work." But Suttles also said he didn't know how the problem could be fixed. | 05/08/10 16:13:27 By - Patricia Mazzei and Donna Melton

Researchers worry about oil dispersants' impact, too

In the scramble to keep oil off wetlands and beaches in the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum has sprayed and pumped so much chemical dispersant into the water that its supplies by Thursday were running out as the first oil began to come ashore. | 05/06/10 17:32:00 By - Renee Schoof and Anita Lee

Doctor fights perception that lung cancer has to be fatal

Since January, a California surgeon has been using technology that allows doctors to find lung cancer tumors before they grow. Currently, only one in six cases of lung cancer are caught in the earliest, most curable stage, according to the Lung Cancer Alliance. The group says the disease kills more Americans every day than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. | 05/02/10 16:37:30 By - Bobby Caina Calvan

Cement job at underwater well probed as possible cause

Officials haven't said what they think caused the April 20 explosion that led to the sinking two days later of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. But industry speculation points to a process where cement is used to seal cracks in the ocean floor surrounding the tubing through which crude oil flows. | 04/30/10 19:38:11 By - Kevin G. Hall

After 10-year battle, first U.S. offshore wind farm approved

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday approved the nation's first offshore wind farm, the 130-turbine Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, Mass., and said that the power of strong winds over the Atlantic Ocean would be an important part of the U.S. drive to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The project has been hung up for nearly a decade as opponents objected to its cost and its impact on views. | 04/28/10 18:50:00 By - Renee Schoof

Palestinian girls invent 'seeing' walking stick for blind

When Palestinian teenager Aseel Abu Leil looked around her hometown of Nablus for inspiration for the world's largest science fair, she couldn't help but note the obvious. "We are not known for peaceful science here," the 14-year-old said. | 04/27/10 17:32:00 By - Sheera Frenkel

Looks make the CEO, according to Duke study

Becoming a corporate CEO is supposed to involve hard work, long hours and business acumen. It also often requires a solid jaw line and small, piercing eyes, according to a new research study from three finance professors at Duke University. | 04/27/10 07:34:17 By - David Bracken

Researchers: Adult stem cells show more promise than thought

A year after President Barack Obama eased restrictions on research into embryonic stem cells and pledged billions in new stimulus money for it, researchers are coming to believe they can get results almost as good from adult stem cells taken from the patient's own bone marrow or belly fat, and even full-fledged adult cells from muscle tissue or skin. | 04/24/10 19:38:43 By - Fred Tasker

Rare transplant: Man gets new liver, another man gets old one

Richard Gross was sure that his defective liver would kill him by Christmas. Today, three weeks after a liver transplant, the Wichitan hopes for a long, healthy life. So does the man who got Gross' liver in the first "domino" transplant ever done in Kansas. Fewer than 70 domino liver transplants have been done in the U.S., according to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, where Gross' transplant took place. | 04/20/10 16:41:30 By - Karen Shideler

Report calls for mandatory reduction of salt in food

After more than 40 years of failed efforts to reduce salt in processed and restaurant food voluntarily, a new report calls on the Food and Drug Administration to establish mandatory standards that gradually reduce sodium content in the nation's food supply. | 04/20/10 14:03:00 By - Tony Pugh

What's in a name? Large Hadron Collider could reveal our origins

Some scientists regard the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile-long ring-shaped tunnel 300 feet under the Swiss-French border, as a "time machine'' that may let them study the origins of the universe. | 04/14/10 16:06:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Uninsured ignore heart attack symptoms, study finds

Warning signs of a heart attack should be hard to ignore. But that's just what many people try to do if they have little or no health insurance, a new study finds. Uninsured people — and even people who have insurance but have trouble paying medical bills — wait significantly longer to go to a hospital for heart attacks than insured people who don't have major financial concerns about their health care. | 04/14/10 07:15:09 By - Alan Bavley

Florida's Space Coast bracing for NASA shuttle program's demise

Last week's launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery means there are only three more shuttle missions scheduled before the program is shut down. And that has produced something of an existential crisis along Florida's Space Coast, which has seen its economy evolve with the space race. Space Florida, the state's aerospace economic development agency, estimates the shuttle shutdown will cost the state 9,160 direct and some 23,000 direct and indirect jobs. | 04/12/10 06:55:55 By - Jim Wyss

Lack of indoor plumbing contributes to pneumonia strain in Alaska villages

A new Centers for Disease Control study shows a strong link between a lack of indoor plumbing and high rates of potentially life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis among children in Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. | 04/12/10 06:37:27 By - Kyle Hopkins

Sitting doctors get higher marks in bedside manners, research finds

It's a common patient grievance: If only my doctor would take the time to listen to me and explain things. Maybe all your doctor has to do to remedy that complaint is to sit down. Patients gave their doctor significantly higher marks for satisfaction and thought they had spent more time with him when he sat — rather than stood — by their bedsides, researchers at the University of Kansas Hospital found. | 04/08/10 07:09:10 By - Alan Bavley

Alaska biologist is doing groundbreaking contaminants research

Frank von Hippel's lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage looks more like the section of the pet store where they sell guppies than a place where groundbreaking research on the endocrine system is taking place. Von Hippel, an evolutionary biologist, has been pursuing nationally regarded research on the endocrine system of the three-spined stickleback, a three-inch fish that could hold in its biology keys to how ingested chemical contaminants are affecting people. | 03/30/10 06:40:39 By - Megan Holland

Feds thinking outside the box to plug intelligence gaps

Three recent events — the foiled Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, the Dec. 30 assassination of seven CIA officers and contractors by a Jordanian double agent in Afghanistan and the difficulties that U.S. Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan, have encountered — all have something in common: inadequate intelligence. To lower the odds of similar troubles in the future, the government has launched a swarm of spooky, out-of-the-box research projects known collectively as the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity | 03/29/10 15:31:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Texas man stumbles upon 96-million-year-old bird fossils

Amateur paleontologist Kris Howe, 34, was just doing what he learned as a 5-year-old from his father, a fossil collector. But his recent discovery is being hailed as one of the most significant in years. Howe happened upon four bones that two Dallas scientists say are the oldest bird fossils found in North America. | 03/24/10 14:55:15 By - Jay Board

Stem cell research at Duke gets boost from $10.2 million gift

An internationally known pioneer in using umbilical cord stem cells will research novel cerebral palsy treatments thanks to a $10.2 million gift to Duke University. The money from the Robertson Foundation will establish a Translational Cell Therapy Center at Duke for cell-based treatments, notably the work of Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg. It is the latest large donation from private sources to advance medical research at local universities. | 03/19/10 07:20:43 By - Sarah Avery

N.C. State professor's work is saving lives in war zones

On the morning of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, men and women all over the country decided to join the military. What Michael Steer decided that day probably saved the lives of some of them. Steer, an N.C. State professor of electrical and computer engineering, and a naturalized citizen from Australia, was meeting with Army researchers when the attack came. He says he immediately knew that he wanted to fight terrorism by drawing on his years of research on the interactions between energy fields and electronic devices. | 03/12/10 07:26:46 By - Jay Price

Womens' obesity risks lowered with daily drinks, study finds

A new study tracking 20,000 American women through middle age found those who had two or more drinks a day gained less weight than their non-drinking counterparts. The study is published in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. | 03/09/10 06:54:06 By - Anna Tong

Advocates fight for cell phone radiation warning labels

Mindy Brown is on a crusade to warn people about radiation from cell phones. Brown has no doubt that cell-phone radiation triggers cancerous brain tumors. Brown's activism is raising awareness about a controversial issue that has been percolating for years but is now heating up as lawmakers debate whether it's time to act. The scientific community is divided over health effects of the low levels of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the phones. The cell-phone industry maintains the phones are safe. In the end, researchers say, the safety debate likely will go on for years, while more and more people use the phones. | 03/08/10 11:24:03 By - Barbara Anderson

The funnel cloud that reminded America to fear tornados

As the 1980s ended, meteorologists and weather researchers were asking whether Tornado Alley, the land between the Rockies and the Appalachians where funnel clouds appear, was a thing of the past. That all changed on March 13, 1990. | 03/07/10 13:50:57 By - Stan Finger

String of earthquakes is coincidental, experts say

First a massive earthquake in Haiti, then a bigger one in Chile. And now a quake hits southeast Missouri and people 150 miles away feel it. Time to panic? No, but people are understandably jittery about earthquakes these days. | 03/04/10 07:07:09 By - Matt Campbell

Study: Marijuana provides pain relief

Smoking pot can soothe tingling or burning pain — but you don't need to get high to find relief. Those are preliminary findings of an $8.7 million California study, the first major research conducted on the effects of marijuana in two decades. The findings, released Wednesday in a report to the Legislature, are sure to drive debate over public policy governing California's burgeoning medical marijuana market. | 02/18/10 06:58:15 By - Peter Hecht

Peru nets water from fog

Millions of Peruvians live without running water, paying six times the norm for deliveries to cover rudimentary washing and cooking needs, but in the hills surrounding Lima, residents are harvesting water from the fog. | 02/12/10 07:10:51 By - Sophie Kevany

Cattle vaccine offers hope for curbing risk of E. coli infections

Cargill is trying out the vaccine on 100,000 animals that will start heading to slaughter in May. For now, the company is bearing its cost even as the medicine undergoes more scientific trials under the gaze of a Kansas State University researcher. Whatís unsettled is whether the cost — at between $3 and $10 per cow — will be paid by packers, feedyard operators, ranchers or none of the above. | 02/08/10 07:03:44 By - Scott Canon

Seniors aren't getting vital vaccinations, study finds

States require that children have all their immunizations before they can enroll in school. Veterinarians send reminder cards to pet owners when Fido or Tabby is due for a shot. No such safety net exists for adults, however, and especially for the elderly, who are particularly susceptible to many diseases that vaccines can prevent, according to a new report about the low rate of adult immunization. | 02/04/10 18:39:00 By - David Goldstein

Despite millions in tax credits, wind energy firms aren't hiring

Despite the Obama administration's efforts to create jobs making wind turbines in America, some companies say that sluggish demand for wind energy is holding them back. | 02/04/10 17:53:00 By - Renee Schoof

Scientists say Haiti could be hit by another earthquake soon

The chance of another big earthquake in Haiti in the near future is great enough that people in Port-au-Prince should sleep in tents, geologists said Monday. The probability of an aftershock of magnitude 7 or greater in Haiti in the next 30 days is 3 percent, the probability of one magnitude 6 or greater is 25 percent, and of one magnitude 5 or greater is about 90 percent, according to a report by the United States Geological Survey. | 02/02/10 07:05:55 By - Fred Tasker

A 7.0 quake in South Carolina? Not impossible, scientists say

An earthquake of the magnitude that struck Haiti three weeks ago is not an impossibility for South Carolina, seismologists say. The state experiences between 20 to 30 earthquakes a year, three to eight of which are strong enough to be felt, according to geologists. | 02/01/10 22:39:13 By - Patrick Donohue

In a first step, nations pledge to fix global warming

China, India, the U.S. and the rest of the world's biggest polluters turned in their official pledges to reduce emissions, a move that gives global climate protection a start, the United Nations announced on Monday. | 02/01/10 17:52:00 By - Renee Schoof

Cement, glass firms agree to add pollution controls

For the first time in the history of the Clean Air Act, the federal government has reached settlements that will require a glassmaker and a cement company to add pollution controls at all their plants across the country. | 01/21/10 18:25:00 By - Renee Schoof

Are blue whales changing their pitch to find love?

Something curious is going on with the songs of blue whales in oceans all over the world. The whales are singing their same old songs, but year by year they're all shifting the frequency lower. | 01/20/10 18:02:00 By - Renee Schoof

Geologists: Haiti earthquake was matter of when, not if

For years, geologists had been predicting an earthquake in Haiti — possibly as powerful as magnitude 7.2. The problem was they couldn't say when. | 01/14/10 18:46:00 By - Fred Tasker

As storms intensify, Washington coast to get full radar coverage

A new state-of-the-art radar system on the Washington coast will make it easier for meteorologists to track heavy weather coming off the Pacific Ocean, as some scientists say the intensity of winter storms and waves pounding the Northwest shore is increasing. | 01/10/10 00:01:00 By - Les Blumenthal

Dust: Tiny particles with a big impact

Dust is everywhere, burrowing under beds, piling up on windowsills, clogging guns and machinery, irritating eyes, noses and lungs. It soars thousands of miles over continents and oceans, sometimes obliterating the sky. Now scientists are beginning to have new respect for the way dust alters the environment and affects the health of people, animals and plants. | 12/30/09 14:45:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

A plethora of numbers traces a decade of change

At the beginning of the decade, the median average household income in the United States was $44,900, and Bill Gates, running Microsoft, then America's most valuable business, was worth an estimated $85 billion. As the first decade ends, the median average income, adjusted for inflation, is down to $38,924 and Gates' inflation-adjusted net worth is just $38.5 billion. Exxon Mobil has supplanted Microsoft as the country's most valuable company. | 12/29/09 15:48:00 By -

Florida avocado growers fear spread of exotic Asian beetle

The redbay ambrosia beetle has been discovered in Florida's Martin County afer sweeping through the Carolinas and Georgia. Smaller than Lincoln's nose on a penny, the beetle carries a fungus that kills trees in the laurel family. There's no cure for the fungus. | 12/25/09 23:14:02 By - Niala Boodhoo

Studies indicate CT scans might cause cancer

Two studies in the United States have found that radiation from computed tomographic (CT) scanners may cause cancer long after patient exposure. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that CT scans emit higher levels of radiation than was thought at first. A separate study done by the National Cancer Institute estimated that radiation from more than 70 million CT scans performed in the United States in 2007 will ultimately cause about 29,000 cases of cancer, and a possible 15,000 deaths. | 12/22/09 11:41:18 By - Carol Reiter

Ancient bird had venomous fangs, researchers report

The discovery in China of the remains of a turkey-sized creature with venomous fangs will shake up the science of bird history, said one of the researchers. The fangs suggest the discovery of the first known poisonous bird. | 12/21/09 18:14:38 By - Roy Wenzl

Winter's arrived, which in Alaska means spring is coming

Between the winter solstice and Jan. 1, Anchorage will pick up one minute more of daylight every day as the sun sets later. On Jan. 2, dawn will begin coming earlier as well, meaning that while the rest of the United States has just seen winter arrive, Alaskans are seeing spring on the horizon. | 12/21/09 14:10:30 By - Rosemary Shinohara

Arctic research pushes scientists to extremes

If you want to know how polar bears are doing, it's not enough to spy on them with satellite telemetry and other technology. You have to go where they live. To get some answers, they traveled to a part of the world few get to see, and far fewer get to see from beneath the sea ice. Or would want to. | 12/21/09 06:33:56 By - Debra McKinney

Wounded airman's surgery holds hope for diabetes patients

In what medical officials say is a first, the bullet-scarred pancreas from a service member who was shot in Afghanistan was flown from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington to the University of Miami, where insulin-producing cells were salvaged from the organ and flown back to be dropped into the man's liver. | 12/15/09 18:56:00 By - Fred Tasker and Lesley Clark

Report: Swine flu shows we're not ready for emergencies

The swine flu outbreak has exposed holes in the nation's emergency-preparedness network, according to a report issued Tuesday on how well states can handle a public health disaster. | 12/15/09 14:50:00 By - David Goldstein

Sick of swine flu? Toxic algae could be the next big threat

With a new theory surfacing that toxic algae rather than asteroids killed the dinosaurs, scientists are still trying to unravel the mystery of what caused a massive algae bloom off the Northwest Coast that left thousands of seabirds dead and may have sickened some surfers and kayakers. | 12/13/09 00:01:00 By - Les Blumenthal

Senators hope compromise will gain votes for climate bill

Senators working on a compromise climate bill unveiled the basics of their plan for the first time on Thursday, including encouragement for new nuclear power plants, a continued use of coal and a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target that's lower than what the Senate had been considering. | 12/10/09 19:20:00 By - Renee Schoof

Real debate or just hot air? A primer on 'climategate'

People who argue that global warming is bogus say that the controversy over leaked e-mails by climate scientists proves that they're right. Their argument boils down to a claim that the 2007 international review of climate science is a fraud. | 12/10/09 17:02:00 By - Renee Schoof

Miracle light: Can lasers solve the energy crisis?

Next year will mark the 50th birthday of the laser, one of the most productive and widely used mega-inventions of the last century. Scientists hope that 2010 also will see the launch of laser technology's greatest challenge: creating an inexhaustible supply of clean, carbon-free energy. | 12/09/09 17:09:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

How lasers work

A laser is a device that creates an intense beam of light and focuses it tightly in one direction. The difference between regular light and laser light is like the difference between a water sprinkler and a fire hose. | 12/09/09 17:02:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

EPA finds greenhouse gases pose dangers, plans regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that global warming pollution endangered the health and welfare of Americans and must be reduced, a move that seemed timed to signal that the U.S. is serious about joining an international bid to reduce the risks of damaging climate change. | 12/07/09 18:47:00 By - Renee Schoof

Proposed emissions cuts aren't enough, U.N. says

Promises by the U.S. and other industrialized countries to cut the emissions causing global warming are insufficient to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the United Nations climate chief said Wednesday. | 12/02/09 19:21:00 By - Renee Schoof

Mysterious bee killer is breaking out in hives

Last winter, 29 percent of U.S. bee hives were lost to the mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. The disorder, first noticed in 2005, as a variety of suspected causes: pesticides, varroa mites, viruses, stress from shipping hives long distances to pollinate crops — or some combination. | 12/02/09 15:37:53 By - Bill Hanna

Adult stem cells may help repair hearts, study finds

Adult stem cells might help repair hearts damaged by heart attack — in part by becoming heart cells themselves. That was the finding of a new study, released Monday, that points to a promising new treatment for heart-attack patients that could reduce mortality and lessen the need for heart transplants. Adult stem cells also could help heal livers, kidneys, pancreases and other organs. | 12/01/09 07:01:55 By - Fred Tasker

Stakes are high as doubt is cast on forensic lab techniques

Firearms analysis has helped convict Texas defendants for decades. Othersí crimes were purportedly exposed by dog sniffing, hairs at crime scenes, latent fingerprints and gunpowder flakes. Now itís up to the state commission tasked with investigating crime labs to move forward on a charge that will draw intense scrutiny to such analyses. | 11/29/09 09:21:08 By - Yamil Berard

Penn State professor has timing down to a science

Our daily life is a sequence of actions that we time precisely. But, until now, how we keep track of time has been a mystery. | 11/29/09 09:04:09 By - Natalya Stanko

Health care bill includes generic path for biologic drugs

After decades of suffering as her body gnarled and stiffened from rheumatoid arthritis, Bonnie Cramer began taking a new drug around 2002. The morning after she took it for the first time, Cramer climbed out of bed without help. | 11/29/09 00:01:00 By - Barbara Barrett

EPA proposes sulfur dioxide limits for first time since 1971

The Environmental Protection Agency is continuing its crackdown on coal pollution with a new plan to cut sulfur dioxide — a move that would clean up the air for millions of Americans and bring some relief to people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases. | 11/24/09 17:03:00 By - Renee Schoof

World awaits U.S. plan to help curb global warming

The outcome of the upcoming global climate negotiations in Denmark could hinge on whether the United States offers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain amount in the next decade. | 11/22/09 16:17:39 By - Renee Schoof

U.S. losing its lead in space, experts warn Congress

America's once clear dominance in space is eroding as other nations, including China, Iran and North Korea, step up their activities, a panel of experts told the House subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Thursday. | 11/19/09 16:40:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Scientists: Despite rumors, the world won't end in 2012

As moviegoers across the nation watched the end of the world with the opening of "2012" last week, news of Earth's demise spread quickly across the Web. Scientists, fed up with the misleading prophecies, quickly set the record straight with their own series of articles and a YouTube video. | 11/19/09 14:44:00 By - Kiran Sood

Genome advances promise personalized medical treatment

A whirlwind of activity is under way to apply the findings of the $3 billion Human Genome Project to improve health care in the United States and around the world. | 11/16/09 15:48:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

New chewing gum may help soldiers fight 'trench mouth'

With the help of a gum chomping machine and years of careful chemistry, University of Kentucky researchers have developed a chewing gum that can help replace toothpaste and a toothbrush, thus improving the health of soldiers in the field as well as children in poor countries. | 11/11/09 17:39:00 By - Mary Meehan

U.N. leader urges Senate to speed up climate effort

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met with Senate Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday and urged them to save international climate talks next month by speeding up work on a climate and energy bill. | 11/10/09 19:31:00 By - Renee Schoof

You're being followed: Scientists track movement of living things

Almost 24 centuries after the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote his book, "On the Movement of Animals," modern scientists are still struggling to understand how, why, when and where living creatures move. | 11/09/09 15:05:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Ad seeking co-eds for sex-toy study roils Duke (study's full)

The ads, which were posted around campus and on a research study Web site, sought female students at least 18 years old to "view sex toys and engage in sexually explicit conversation with other female Duke students." The study is being undertaken by a behavioral economist and student health workers. | 11/06/09 15:10:33 By - Anne Blythe

Couple's book tackles evangelicals' questions on climate change

As an evangelical Christian living in Texas, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe found that many conservatives had questions about climate change based on things they'd heard on talk radio. So Hayhoe and her husband decided to answer the questions in a new book from religious publisher FaithWords, "A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-based Decisions." | 11/06/09 14:31:00 By - Renee Schoof

Like built-in GPS, brain maps help you find your way home

Lost? Not sure how to get home? Trying to find your way through the mall or an airport? Help is on the way, thanks to a stack of brain cells, or neurons, inside your head. They're mostly on the left side in males, on the right in females. | 10/30/09 00:44:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Farmers fight climate bill, but warming spells trouble for them

Farm state senators and others soon will get a taste of what their colleagues from Missouri already have piled high on their desks: thousands of letters from farmers urging them to vote against the climate and energy bill. | 10/29/09 14:45:00 By - Renee Schoof and David Goldstein

Energy secretary: Science demands action on climate

WASHINGTON -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday laid out the scientific risks of inaction on global warming and went straight to his main point — the climate and energy bill starting its way through the Senate could help drive what he called "energy opportunity." | 10/27/09 18:19:00 By - Renee Schoof

Like hungry teen, life on Earth had big growth spurts

Twice in the Earth's history, living creatures underwent astonishing growth spurts, and each time, new organisms emerged that were a million times larger than anything that had existed before. | 10/26/09 15:34:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Controversial study suggests vast magma pool under Washington state

A vast pool of molten rock in the continental crust that underlies southwestern Washington state could supply magma to three active volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains -- Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams -- according to a new study that's causing a stir among scientists. | 10/26/09 06:00:00 By - Les Blumenthal

Astronomers seek to explore the cosmic Dark Ages

No place seems safe from the prying eyes of inquisitive astronomers. They've traced the evolution of the universe back to the "Big Bang," the theoretical birth of the cosmos 13.7 billion years ago, but there's still a long stretch of time -- about 800 million years -- that's been hidden from view. | 10/13/09 16:29:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Study: H1N1 flu deadliest to young, healthy people

Patients with the H1N1 swine flu virus who become severely ill and those who die tend to be relatively young adults without underlying medical conditions, according to a new Canadian study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. | 10/12/09 16:07:51 By - Fred Tasker

BPA chemical exposure linked to aggressive behavior in girls

Pre-birth exposure to a chemical widely used in plastics appears to be linked to more aggressive behavior in little girls, according to research published Tuesday by a scientist at UNC-Chapel Hill. The findings, which are preliminary and call for more study, are the first to connect behavior problems in humans with the chemical bisphenolA, which is a key component of plastic bottles, the liners inside canned goods and medical devices. | 10/07/09 07:34:28 By - Sarah Avery

Scientists seek to manage dopamine's good and bad sides

The good, the bad and the ugly: That's a quick summary of the effects of dopamine, a natural brain chemical that's linked to pleasure, addiction and disease. | 10/06/09 15:18:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. to announce flu tracking initiative

Swine flu hot spots and seasonal flu outbreaks will trigger a quicker and more coordinated public health response through a national initiative involving North Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. The medical software company is expected to announce this morning its Flu Pandemic Initiative with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. | 10/06/09 07:13:55 By - Mark Davis

California native wins Nobel Prize in medicine

Carol Greider, a scientist who grew up in Davis California and graduated from Davis Senior High School in 1979, was among three researchers who on Monday shared the Nobel Prize in medicine. Greider, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, won for her discovery in 1984 of telomerase an enzyme that regulates the length of chromosome ends and governs the division and death of cells in the human body. | 10/06/09 06:43:23 By - Hudson Sangree

Meet 'Ardi,' the newest oldest human ancestor

Move over, Lucy. A 4-foot- tall female nicknamed Ardi, who lived 4.4 million years ago in Africa, has replaced you as the earliest best known ancestor of the human species. | 10/01/09 16:47:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Stimulus funds to give scientific research a boost in N.C.

Researchers in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina won a massive infusion of $145 million in federal stimulus money Wednesday for scientific projects large and small ó including an ambitious effort to seek cancer treatments by unraveling the complex genetics of tumors. | 10/01/09 07:26:25 By - Sarah Avery and David Bracken

Utilities quit group over its opposition to climate change bill

Exelon, the nation's biggest operator of nuclear power plants, said Monday that it's quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the business group's lobbying against climate and energy legislation. Last week, two other large energy companies, Pacific Gas and Electric and PNM Resources, also quit the Chamber over objections to its stance on climate change. | 09/28/09 18:49:00 By - Renee Schoof

Experts: Careless work of Texas medical examiners costly

Over the years, Texas medical examiners have misidentified bodies, botched examinations and had to do a double take on cases of individuals later exonerated by law enforcement. That has opened the door for innocent men and women to go to prison and killers to go free. The slapdash work of some medical examiners could also allow public health threats, wrongful deaths and preventable medical errors to go undetected, experts warn. | 09/27/09 20:14:38 By - Yamil Berrad

He witnessed hurricane as kid; now, he brings you the weather

Twenty years ago this month when Hurricane Hugo struck the Carolinas, Scott Williams, who loved the weather, decided he would be a meteorologist. Hugo blasted from the coast up through York County, creating havoc that wasn't lost on a young man at Sylvia Circle Elementary. Today he's on the Weather Channel. | 09/27/09 15:29:25 By - Andrew Dys

Human trials of HIV vaccine aim to replace drug 'cocktails'

As an HIV vaccine breakthrough in Thailand stirs interest and hope, a pioneering AIDS researcher at the University of Miami Medical School says she is preparing to start human trials for a new vaccine. If successful, the vaccine could replace the two- and three-drug "cocktails" of antiretroviral drugs now used to improve and prolong the lives of people with HIV. | 09/24/09 21:02:10 By - Fred Tasker

Alaska senator's effort to block EPA on carbon emissions fails

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wanted to limit for a year the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories and other stationary sources of pollution. Murkowski objected to the agency's using the Clean Air Act to limit emissions, as required by a 2007 Supreme Court ruling. | 09/24/09 17:58:12 By - Erika Bolstad

Sebelius: Swine flu vaccine will be available in October

The first doses of vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus will be available the first week of October, federal officials said Thursday, with millions more shipped every week after that. | 09/24/09 16:32:00 By - Steven Thomma

Answer to U.S. search for clean coal may lie in China

As the United States begins spending $3.4 billion in stimulus money to seek a commercially viable way to capture carbon dioxide from coal burning and bury it underground, some energy experts say that doing some of the work as a joint project in China would cut costs and time. | 09/24/09 16:39:00 By - Renee Schoof

Researchers unravel brain's wiring to understand memory

Neuroscientists are performing cutting-edge experiments in the latest efforts to understand the mysteries of how the brain learns, remembers and forgets. The work is shedding new light on how the brain handles memory storage, loss, fear, addiction and aging. Some explore the role of sleep — even a brief nap — in consolidating long-term memories. | 09/22/09 15:19:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

A tooth for an eye? Woman can see again after rare surgery

Sharron Thornton says she was shocked when Dr. Victor Perez told her what he wanted to do: "Who in the world would take a tooth out of your mouth and put it in your eye?" she asked. Now, after nine years of seeing only shadows, Thornton can recognize faces and read a newspaper. | 09/17/09 15:25:41 By - Fred Tasker

'Crazy' ants take over Texas, leaving path of destruction

Crazy ants, so named because they move in all directions rather than in a straight line, first surfaced in Houston seven years ago. Now the ants have been seen in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, alarming researchers who say the ants are so voracious they force other wildlife to flee. | 09/09/09 16:49:00 By - Bill Hanna

Money woes likely to hobble NASA's planned moon mission

NASA, with its history of landing men on the moon and producing Mars rovers that last far longer than they were designed to, helped cement America's reputation as the world's technological leader. But a series of money woes threaten its hopes of remaining the globe's leader in space exploration. There's not enough money for a new moon landing and science missions are running way over budget. | 09/03/09 16:35:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Study finds more evidence rapid Arctic warming isn't natural

The Arctic was cooling for 1,900 years because of a natural change in Earth's orbit, according to a study published Thursday in Science magazine. The orbit hasn't changed, adding evidence that warming is caused by burning fossil fuels, the study concludes. | 09/03/09 14:17:00 By - Renee Schoof

Study: Florida's HIV-AIDS rates among men are increasing

HIV/AIDS among Florida's men has reached critical levels, according to a new state report, and the highest rate in any racial/ethnic groups was in Miami-Dade County. | 09/03/09 06:58:10 By - Fred Tasker

Site of 1960s California commune becomes archeological dig

An old Marin County California commune where the Grateful Dead and other bands used to romp is being excavated and items catalogued by state park archaeologists at Olompali State Historic Park. Among the artifacts: the classic hippie beads, a marijuana "roach clip," fragments of tie-dyed clothes, and a reel-to-reel tape. | 09/02/09 06:46:45 By - Susan Ferriss

Do TV medical shows provoke higher health costs?

Pushing medical practice to the extreme may be the cost of keeping viewers hooked on Fox's hit show, which dramatizes the diagnoses of rare maladies. However, for patients treated in Mercer County, N.J., where "House's" mythical hospital is, that sequence of tests probably would tally charges of more than $9,200, according to New Choice Health, a Web site that compares hospital charges, and MTBC, a physician billing company. | 09/01/09 16:58:00 By - Christopher Weaver

Miami customs agents find S. African insect never before seen in U.S.

The discovery of the bug comes at a time when invasive whiteflies and red bay ambrosia beetles are threatening South Florida's landscaping and avocado farming industry, but entomologists are saying there isn't enough information about the South African visitor to know whether the bug's presence could be damaging. | 08/30/09 04:09:10 By - David Smiley

Germ phobes can't win: We're all host to trillions of microbes

Scientists are beginning a large-scale effort to identify and analyze the vast majority of cells in or on your body that aren't of human origin. Only about 10 percent of the trillions of cells that make up a person are truly human, researchers say. The other 90 percent are bacteria, viruses and other microbes. | 08/27/09 14:53:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Staghorn, elkhorn coral reefs rebounding in Florida Keys

After the discovery of a "farm-raised" coral spawn, Florida researchers have hopes of reversing the decline of two reef-building species. | 08/24/09 07:10:29 By - Curtis Morgan

Alaska's Rat Island apparently rid of its namesake pest

After two centuries of an epic infestation, Alaska's Rat Island finally may merit a name change. The island, part of a national wildlife refuge in the sprawling Aleutian chain, appears to be pest-free for the first time since rats overran it after a Japanese sailing ship wrecked there in the late 1700s. | 08/24/09 06:00:00 By - Erika Bolstad

Health officials to students: Stay home if you have the flu

Hoping to stop swine flu in its tracks this fall, U.S. health officials on Thursday advised university students, faculty and staff to "self-isolate" themselves in their dorm rooms or off-campus homes if they develop flu-like symptoms. College students are a high-risk group for the 2009 H1N1 virus, which has spread to at least 168 countries after emerging in Mexico this spring. The latest data from the World Health Organization reports at least 182,166 confirmed cases and 1,799 deaths worldwide. | 08/20/09 18:46:00 By - Tony Pugh

Drop in world temperatures fuels global warming debate

Has Earth's fever broken? Official government measurements show that the world's temperature has cooled a bit since reaching its most recent peak in 1998. That's given global warming skeptics new ammunition to attack the prevailing theory of climate change. | 08/19/09 16:03:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

New data: Mega-quake could strike near Seattle

Using sophisticated seismometers and GPS devices, scientists have been able to track minute movements along two massive tectonic plates colliding 25 miles or so underneath Washington state's Puget Sound basin. Their early findings suggest that a mega-earthquake could strike closer to the Seattle-Tacoma area, home to some 3.6 million people, than was thought earlier. | 08/16/09 06:00:00 By - Les Blumenthal

June's record ocean warmth worries fishermen, environmentalists

Ocean surface temperatures around the world were the warmest on record for the month of June, according to federal scientists, though they caution that one month doesn't necessarily imply global warming. | 08/16/09 06:00:00 By - Brendan Doyle

Science meets football: Players swallow electronic monitors

By gulping down a pill containing a battery, thermometer and radio transmitter, 18 University of North Carolina football players on Tuesday began sweating out data that will be used later this season to help determine whether higher body temperatures increase the possibility of concussions. The data also will help coaches better regulate drills during practice and during games in heat that often reaches the high 90s. | 08/12/09 06:52:38 By - Robbi Pickeral

Community health centers vital to any health overhaul

While the health care debate rages on Capitol Hill, the Walker-Jones Health Center in northeast Washington is just a mile away, one of about 1,200 federally qualified community health centers across the country that provide free and reduced-cost care to millions of Americans. | 08/11/09 00:42:00 By - Andrew Villegas

Science called key to economic, energy, health care challenges

Science and technology are key to solving the interconnected challenges of the economy, energy, climate change and health care, President Barack Obama's science advisers said this week. | 08/07/09 16:48:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Study finds 3 Northwest glaciers shrinking faster

Climate change is shrinking three of the nation's most studied glaciers at an accelerated rate, and government scientists say that finding bolsters global concerns about rising sea levels and the availability of fresh drinking water. | 08/06/09 18:54:00 By - Les Blumenthal and Erika Bolstad

Poll: Americans claim that they're not so fat

Despite government data that show a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States over the past 20 years, most Americans don't think they have much of a weight problem, according to a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll. | 08/06/09 15:43:00 By - William Douglas

Blame the EPA: Lead mining threat lingers in a Kansas town

The Environmental Protection Agency has bought out the residents of Picher, Okla., because of the remaining threat from leftover lead tailings and cave-ins from the mining industry that essentially collapsed in 1970. But in Treece, Kan., literally across the street, there's been no similar action. Why? The two towns are in different EPA districts. | 07/30/09 07:04:21 By - Scott Canon

Older people not on priority list for swine flu vaccinations

Pregnant women, children and people who have certain health conditions are considered the most vulnerable to complications from the new flu virus, and they will be given priority for the shots this fall. Older people, who are among the hardest hit for seasonal flu, are not on the list. They appear to have some immunity to the new bug, perhaps from exposures to related H1N1 viruses that circulated before 1957. | 07/30/09 06:45:02 By - Sarah Avery

Summer break: U.S.'s cleanest beaches are in the northeast

The nation's cleanest beach-waters are along the upper half of the Atlantic seaboard, in Virginia, Delaware and New Hampshire, a national environmental group says. At the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana has the most contaminated waters, followed by Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. | 07/29/09 20:39:00 By - James Rosen

FDA: Mercury-based fillings pose no serious health hazard

The Food and Drug Administration's decision that mercury-based dental fillings are safe fulfilled a procedural act Congress first ordered back in 1976 but that had languished as the dental industry, consumer advocates and scientists fought over the safety of "dental amalgams." Consumer groups, which have pushed for a ban on mercury in fillings, promised a court challenge. | 07/28/09 18:30:00 By - Tony Pugh

Florida senators push more funding for hurricane research

Florida's senators on Tuesday renewed a push to boost federal funding for research into predicting, modeling and preventing damage from hurricanes. | 07/28/09 18:06:00 By - Lesley Clark

1969: Man on moon, but pictures had to be hand-delivered

In the pre-Internet days of 1969, Newsweek intern Guy Mendes was to hop a flight from Houston to New York and deliver the moon landing photos to the magazine's headquarters on Madison Avenue in time for them to make it into the next issue. | 07/20/09 17:49:05 By - Karla Ward

Big, mysterious blob floating off Alaska coast? It's algae

A sample of the giant black mystery blob that hunters discovered this month floating in Alaska's Chukchi Sea has been identified. Not bunker oil seeping from an aging, sunken ship. Not a sea monster. It looks to be a stringy batch of algae. | 07/17/09 15:29:00 By - Kyle Hopkins

Prehistoric crocodile found in Texas fossil field

Texas fossil hunters have uncovered more than 50 bones from a prehistoric crocodile skeleton, including its thumb-length teeth, in far north Arlington. | 07/16/09 07:48:29 By - Susan Schrock

Gravity wells could provide 'parking lots' for spaceships

Some NASA folks call them "parking lots" in space. They're unusual locations where gravity loses its pull and a spaceship can loiter, rather like a marble at the bottom of a cup, without using a lot of fuel. Three of them are 930,000 miles outside Earth's orbit. One is between the Earth and the sun, and another is hidden on the far side of the sun. | 07/14/09 15:45:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Dallas hospital to study estrogen's effect on traumatic brain injuries

A single dose of the female hormone estrogen could protect the brain after a traumatic injury, but researchers won't know for sure until they test it on humans. That's what they're doing beginning this week as part of a clinical trial at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. | 07/09/09 07:43:18 By - Jan Jarvis

Former astronaut Bolden vows to restore NASA's glory

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Charles Bolden vowed to help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration regain its luster and romance for young Americans. | 07/08/09 20:05:00 By - James Rosen

New wonder material, one-atom thick, has scientists abuzz

Imagine a carbon sheet that's only one atom thick but is stronger than diamond and conducts electricity 100 times faster than the silicon in computer chips. | 07/08/09 14:47:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Confirmation hearing set for first black to head NASA

Charles Bolden will tell senators Wednesday how he plans to restore U.S. space exploration to its 1960s-era glory days at a confirmation hearing for the first African-American nominated to head NASA. | 07/07/09 17:35:00 By - James Rosen

Swine flu spreading in Southern Hemisphere

As the number of diagnosed cases of swine flu recedes in the Northern Hemisphere, several countries in the Southern Hemisphere are now struggling with how to respond to the H1N1 virus. | 07/01/09 16:25:00 By - Sara Miller Llana

DNA's repair system studied in hopes of better cancer treatments

For a human cell, this is a scary world. Each of the 60 trillion or so cells in the average person's body is damaged tens of thousands, perhaps a million, times a day, scientists say. The results can be deadly. | 07/01/09 15:48:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

EPA list shows dangerous coal ash sites found in 10 states

The Environmental Protection Agency wanted to limit distribution of the list to members of Congress, but agreed to make the list public under pressure from Sen. Barbara Boxer. The list included 44 coal-fired power plant waste sites in 10 states with a high hazard potential, including 12 sites in North Carolina, seven in Kentucky and a large storage pond in Pennsylvania. | 06/29/09 18:52:00 By - Renee Schoof

When shuttle retires, who will deliver in space?

NASA is turning to private space companies to plug a worrisome five-year gap in its ability to boost astronauts into orbit and return them safely to Earth. | 06/26/09 15:26:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Lawmakers, activists battle over mountaintop removal mining

Coal industry advocates and environmentalists converged on Capitol Hill Thursday at a congressional hearing on the impact of mountaintop removal mining on Appalachian streams and rivers. | 06/25/09 19:59:00 By - Halimah Abdullah

Wind energy race on as feds grant first offshore leases

The leases issued Tuesday will allow wind companies to build testing stations on federal land off the New Jersey and Delaware coasts. Research already has shown that the Northeast has relatively shallow water and few strong hurricanes, which make it a good candidate for existing offshore wind technology. | 06/23/09 17:32:00 By - Renee Schoof

Not space junk yet: Mars rovers carry on despite age, ailments

In one of the most remarkable engineering feats of our time, the aging Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still taking orders and sending home pictures more than five years after they were supposed to turn into slabs of space junk. | 06/23/09 14:56:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Energy bill nears vote in House, but what's in it for consumers?

How much will it cost the average American household to reduce the U.S. share of global warming pollution and shift to cleaner sources of energy produced at home? If Congress passes a law that puts the country on a path to that outcome, the answer on costs will depend on what kind of consumer protections are part of the new policy. | 06/22/09 15:38:00 By - Renee Schoof

Land Warrior System keeps a networked eyes on battlefield

Technology continues to play an increasingly greater role in modern warfare. The Land Warrior System is real-time network the Army believes should make missions in Iraq and Afghanistan quicker, more efficient and less prone to accidents. | 06/22/09 09:55:50 By - Scott Fontaine

Microsoft chief: In 10 years, computers will know your intent

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer described computer systems that can figure out what you meant to do and devices as flexible as a sheet of paper as the technologies that would change the way we live in the next few years. | 06/19/09 22:23:32 By - Andrew Dunn

Smithsonian interested in S.C. fossil hunter's finds

Linda Funk calls the glass jars of black shark teeth she keeps in her kitchen "gifts from God." And now, a little bit of the collection she plucked from local beaches are part of her gift to the Smithsonian Institute, too. | 06/19/09 07:46:12 By - Liz Mitchell

Fertilizer industry finds its alternative energy: corncobs

A California start-up company is preparing to open a plant that will make fertilizer in the U.S. and reduce fossil fuel emissions from agriculture. The raw ingredient for the same ammonia-based fertilizer farmers have used for decades is something many already have and don't really need: corncobs. | 06/15/09 16:00:00 By - Renee Schoof

Northwest utilities turn to nuclear, 25 years after industry collapsed

A consortium of utilities in the Pacific Northwest once known as "Whoops," synonymous with the collapse of the nuclear power industry, wants back in the game. | 06/14/09 06:00:00 By - Les Blumenthal

Projection: It'll be years before jobs return to much of U.S.

Unlike the labor market collapse that killed millions of U.S. jobs in a matter of months, the nation's return to peak employment will not be nearly as uniform nor as swift. While signs indicate that the worst of the recession may be over, only six metropolitan areas across the country are expected to regain their pre-recession employment levels by the end of 2009, according to projections from IHS Global Insight, a leading economic forecaster. | 06/14/09 06:00:00 By - Tony Pugh

Texas wind farms deploy radar so birds, not feathers, can fly

Wind on the Texas coast is tempting for energy companies. Unlike other parts of Texas — the nation's No. 1 wind energy state — the coast has breezes that blow consistently on summer days, when energy demand peaks. But there's risk, too. | 06/11/09 17:06:00 By - Renee Schoof

New era of gene-based 'personalized medicine' dawning

Since scientists announced six years ago the completion of the Human Genome Project, a historic effort to decipher each of the 3 billion letters in the genetic instruction book for our species, thousands of people have submitted DNA to a wide array of follow-on studies. That's opened a new era of "personalized medicine'' that seeks to tailor therapies to patients based on their unique genetic makeups and medical histories. | 06/10/09 15:44:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

What might help automakers: Junk the gibberish car names

What exactly is a Cadillac DTS or a CTS and how is a Mercedes CLK different from an SLK? More to the point, why do today's carmakers name so many of their products with gibberish seemingly plucked from secure passwords? | 06/10/09 15:11:00 By - Brendan Doyle

U.N. environment chief urges global ban on plastic bags

Single-use plastic bags, a staple of American life, have got to go, the United Nations' top environmental official said Monday. The bags, used primarily to handle produce and groceries, were the second most common form of litter after cigarette butts found during the 2008 International Coastal Cleanup Day. | 06/08/09 18:31:00 By - Grace Chung

Why it's good to be a dreamer: Solutions often come during sleep

A California dream researcher has proven something that wouldn't surprise Mozart or Keith Richards. It's that dreaming is a great way to solve creative problems. | 06/08/09 16:31:00 By - Frank Greve

Famous musicians, inventors and scientists dreamed it up

"I always dream music," Mozart said. 'I know all the music I have composed has come from a dream." And Mozart's one of many profoundly creative dreamers. | 06/08/09 16:31:00 By - Frank Greve

How Congress might tax your health benefits

If you work at a company that reimburses employees for joining a gym, you pay income taxes on the value of that perk. If you get life insurance through work, there's a good chance that you pay taxes on a portion. Health benefits could be next. | 06/08/09 16:22:00 By - Julie Appleby

DNA shows jet that landed in Hudson struck migrating geese

Regulating local birds populations wouldn't have prevented the accident that forced U.S. Airways Flight 1549 to ditch in the Hudson River in January. The birds that brought down the New York-to-Charlotte flight were migrating Canada geese, according to DNA testing on bird remains found in the plane's engines. The resultsw ere released Monday by the Smithsonian. | 06/08/09 11:21:37 By - Barbara Barrett

Washington state health panel could be model for U.S.

When it's judging the value of medical treatments it pays for, Washington state imposes a tough standard, the kind that might save tens of billions of dollars a year if it were applied nationally. | 06/05/09 15:43:00 By - Harris Meyer

Many health insurers have their own assessment panels

As many patients discover, doctors don't have the last word on treatment. Insurers generally deny coverage for anything they think hasn't been proved to work. | 06/05/09 15:43:00 By - Harris Meyer

Deadly bat disease spreading fast, scientists warn Congress

A mysterious disease that's killing tens of thousands of bats in the Northeast is spreading so fast that it could reach California within five years, biologists and officials of the Agriculture and Interior departments told lawmakers Thursday. | 06/04/09 16:51:00 By - Carrie Wells

Technology redefining the meaning of 'disabled'

Devices that allow the blind to 'see' and prosthetic limbs that react to brain signals will be on display in Miami this weekend at the No Barriers Festival, an international gathering of physically limited athletes, wounded soldiers, disabled kids and hopeful parents, and the scientists and doctors who develop the technology that lets them match the able-bodied step for step. | 06/04/09 07:16:07 By - James H. Burnett III

Patenting human genes thwarts research, scientists say

Rapid advances in biology and genetics are raising fresh concerns about the spreading practice of patenting human genes. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents to at least 4,382 human genes, including genes related to Alzheimer's, asthma, cancer, muscular dystrophy and other serious diseases. | 06/03/09 14:39:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Universities prefer women for science jobs, but few apply

Women with advanced degrees in math, science and engineering are more likely than men to be chosen for faculty positions and promotions — when they apply. | 06/02/09 15:27:00 By - Carrie Wells

Obama seeks funding cuts for wave, tidal energy research

The Obama administration has proposed a 25 percent cut in the research and development budget for one of the most promising renewable energy sources in the Northwest — wave and tidal power. | 05/31/09 06:00:00 By - Les Blumenthal

For all the debate about interrogation, little research exists

The heated debate in recent weeks about harsh interrogation treatments at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere highlights what some scientists have been warning the U.S. for years: that almost no research exists to tell interrogators the best way to get information out of suspected terrorists. | 05/30/09 06:00:00 By - Barbara Barrett

New limit advised for weight gain during pregnancy

Telling a pregnant woman to eat for two is bad advice, especially if the mother-to-be is overweight or obese, a blue-ribbon panel of health experts cautioned Thursday. For the first time, the panel advised an upper limit for weight-gain for obese pregnant women — no more than 20 pounds. | 05/28/09 18:59:38 By - Brendan Doyle

Aviation biofuel proves itself in tests, but is there enough?

Initial flight tests have found that jet fuel made partly of camelina, algae or other bio-feed stocks can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes by more than 50 percent, doesn't affect performance and presents no technical or safety problems, a top Boeing official said Thursday. | 05/28/09 16:54:00 By - Les Blumenthal

Beating, dripping pig heart: It's gross, but it saves lives

The sight of a dripping-fresh, human-sized heart, it turns out, is both repulsive and attractive. Especially when it's suspended in the open among an elaborate array of tubes, pumps and valves. And when it's pulsing as though alive. | 05/28/09 15:11:00 By - Jay Price

Kansas girl names 'Curiosity,' NASA's new Mars rover

When the new Mars rover blasts off for the red planet later this year, the launch will carry special significance for a 12-year-old Lenexa girl. The name it will bear — "Curiosity" — was provided by Clara Ma, a sixth-grader at Sunflower Elementary School. | 05/27/09 16:59:27 By - Jim Sullinger

The good news on damaged ecosystems: Some recover fast

That's the conclusion of a study published Wednesday by two ecologists who studied such disasters as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and deforestation in the Amazon River basin. The upbeat findings should spur more restoration efforts, the study's authors conclude. | 05/27/09 15:52:00 By - Frank Greve

Some GPS satellites could fail before replacements arrive

GPS satellites originally scheduled to head skyward in 2006 in a $7 billion-plus program aimed at keeping the system going are awaiting launch in 2010. The delay means pieces of the high-altitude network could start falling out of service as early as next year. Such decay in the system could ultimately foul everything from the accuracy of U.S. bombs to the reliability of your neighborhood cash machine. | 05/27/09 07:18:22 By - Scott Canon

Finally, space station gets to fulfill its science mission

On Wednesday, three astronauts — a Russian, a Canadian and a Belgian — are to ride a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan up to the nearly completed space station, the first long-term human habitat in space. They're due to arrive Friday morning. When they join the three others already on board, it'll be the first time the space station has had a full crew complement. | 05/26/09 15:40:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Miami park plan would keep ancient Indian artifact hidden

The Miami Circle is a 2,000-year-old Native American site that taxpayers shelled out $27 million to buy 10 years ago. Now a frugal plan would create a low-key park around the ancient landmark. But the circle itself would remain hidden because no one has a plan or the money to display it. | 05/26/09 15:59:25 By - Andres Viglucci

Obama works with Graham on new detainee policy

South Carolina Republican senator says Obama should reconsider plan to transfer some suspected terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to maximum security prisons in the United States. | 05/23/09 17:56:37 By - James Rosen

Obama gives NASA's new pilot a challenging flight plan

Charles Bolden's task as NASA's new chief will be more difficult and complex than merely restoring the space agency's glory days of the 1960s. | 05/23/09 17:38:00 By - James Rosen

Medical evidence on marijuana blows both ways

When the arguments for legalization of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use, are put forth, solid medical science often gets clouded in an ideological haze. | 05/22/09 14:12:49 By - Sam McManis

U.S. Forest Service closes caves over bat-killing disease

Stay out of caves. That's the message from the U.S. Forest Service, and even caver organizations, as bats continue to die from a mysterious disease called white-nose syndrome. On Thursday, the Forest Service closed all caves in national forests in the southeast for a year. | 05/22/09 12:53:32 By - Andy Mead

Earthquake fault much larger, more dangerous than thought

An earthquake fault previously believed to be limited to an area south of Washington state's Whidbey Island actually stretches 250 to 300 miles, from Victoria, B.C., to Yakima, Wash., crossing the Cascade Mountains and capable of producing a major earthquake, new research shows. | 05/21/09 17:43:00 By - Les Blumenthal

Obama, Bolden discuss future of NASA

President Barack Obama met Tuesday with former astronaut Charles Bolden to discuss his increasingly likely nomination as NASA chief and explore the former Marine Corp. general's vision for the beleaguered space agency. | 05/19/09 19:36:29 By - James Rosen

It's nature's law: When people arrive, animals vanish

It seems to be a law of nature that when people come, animals go. It happened in the past, and it's happening again now. | 05/19/09 15:53:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Kentucky professor to examine scrolls buried by Vesuvius

On Aug. 24, 79 A.D., Italy's Mount Vesuvius exploded, burying the Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii under tons of super-heated ash, rock and debris in one of the most famous volcanic eruptions in history. Somehow, hundreds of papyrus scrolls survived in a villa at Herculaneum. University of Kentucky professor Brent Seales will use an X-Ray CT scanning system to collect interior images of the scrolls' rolled-up pages. | 05/19/09 07:36:41 By - Jim Warren

Chile investigating rash of penguin, flamingo and sardine deaths

Chilean scientists are investigating three mysterious ecological disasters that have caused the deaths of hundreds of penguins, millions of sardines and about 2,000 baby flamingos in the past few months. | 05/19/09 07:03:34 By - Gideon Long

Zombie fire ants wander in Texas — until heads fall off

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it's all too real. Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound. Eventually their heads fall off, and they die. The strange part is that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&Mís AgriLife Extension Service say making "zombies" out of fire ants is a good thing. | 05/12/09 07:43:43 By - Bill Hanna

N.C. budget cuts threaten tick studies

A small pool of money to study tick-borne illnesses in North Carolina and educate people about avoiding tick bites is threatened by budget cuts, leading advocates to question the state's commitment to curbing the infections. | 05/11/09 07:31:00 By - Sarah Avery

With flu fizzling, health experts rethink school closures

With more data suggesting the swine flu outbreak may not be as deadly as first feared, U.S. health officials are reconsidering their earlier advice on when schools should be closed over health concerns about the virus. | 05/04/09 18:14:00 By - Tony Pugh

Europe is about to take an astronomical lead over U.S.

The world's astronomers are about to get a trio of powerful new eyes on the sky that can see better and farther than existing space telescopes. | 05/04/09 15:30:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

Swine flu will likely subside during summer

Here's the good news: The swine flu that is busy spreading across the globe may soon be headed for a summer vacation. The bad news: There's a distinct possibility it could return with a vengeance in the fall. | 05/04/09 07:27:27 By - Alan Bavley

All we do now to save salmon could mean nothing

No matter what actions the world takes to reduce greenhouse gases, river temperatures in more than half of the lower-elevation watersheds may exceed 70 degrees by 2040 - too hot for salmon. | 05/03/09 10:17:55 By - Rocky Barker

Inspectors find safety problems at nuclear weapons complex

Contractors at one of the nation's major nuclear weapons complexes repeatedly used substandard construction materials and components that, could've caused a major radioactive spill, a recently completed internal government probe has found. One of the materials used at the Savannah River Site on the South Carolina-Georgia border failed to meet federal safety standards and "could have resulted in a spill of up to 15,000 gallons of high-level radioactive waste," the Energy Department's inspector general found. | 05/02/09 23:00:00 By - James Rosen

Researchers can't agree on severity of swine flu outbreak

More than a month into the swine flu outbreak that has now affected 13 countries, medical experts are wondering aloud whether the contagious disease will ever become the deadly pandemic that everyone fears. With at least 143 infections now confirmed in 23 states, the H1N1 virus continues to spread via person-to-person transmission. But they overwhelmingly have been mild. | 05/01/09 19:33:00 By - Tony Pugh

Scientists trace ancestry of swine flu virus to 1998 outbreak

The new H1N1 influenza virus that continues to spread through the U.S. has ancestry in a swine flu outbreak that first struck a North Carolina hog farm more than 10 years ago, according to scientists studying the strain's genetic makeup. | 05/01/09 18:19:00 By - Barbara Barrett

Company warned officials of flu 18 days before alert was issued

A Washington state biosurveillance firm raised the first warning about a possible outbreak of swine flu in Mexico more than two weeks before the World Health Organization offered its initial alert about a public health emergency of international concern. | 04/30/09 18:53:00 By - Les Blumenthal

World health officials urge governments to prepare for pandemic

The global threat from the swine flu outbreak reached its highest level yet on Wednesday as the World Health Organization urged government, business and health officials to start planning in earnest for a pandemic, which now appears unavoidable. | 04/29/09 18:58:00 By - Tony Pugh

Q&A: The facts and fiction about swine flu

Here are some questions and answers about the science of swine flu — the H1N1 virus that's sweeping the world. | 04/29/09 15:45:00 By - Robert S. Boyd

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