Tech News

SpaceX fires up 11 engines as it prepares massive rocket for orbital test

Science - Posted On:2022-11-29 17:45:00 Source: arstechnica

On Tuesday, SpaceX test-fired its Super Heavy rocket for about 12 seconds, making it the longest duration firing of the massive booster so far. The test, which ignited 11 of the 33 Raptor rocket engines, came as SpaceX continues working toward an orbital launch attempt of this Super Heavy first stage and its Starship upper stage.

Earlier this month, SpaceX fired 14 Raptor engines on this booster for a few seconds, so Tuesday's test did not set a new record regarding the number of engines tested. However, this "long duration" firing is the longest period of time that so many Raptor engines have been fired at once.

So what happens now? The path to orbit for SpaceX and its Starship launch system is unclear. Previously, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the next step was to fire a subset of Super Heavy's engines for about 20 seconds to test autogenous pressurization. This method of pressurizing fuel tanks uses gases generated on board the rocket rather than a separately loaded, inert gas such as helium.

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Behavior-changing parasite moves wolves to the head of the pack

Science - Posted On:2022-11-29 14:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous protozoan parasite that can infect any warm-blooded species. In lab studies, infection with T. gondii has been shown to increase dopamine and testosterone levels along with risk-taking behaviors in hosts including rodents, chimps, and hyenas. Oh, and humans.

But its effects have not really been studied in the wild, so some researchers decided to assess how infection impacts gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park. They found that “the odds that a seropositive [infected] wolf becomes a pack leader is more than 46 times higher than a seronegative wolf becoming a pack leader.”

Serum samples have been taken from the wolf packs in Yellowstone since 1995. These scientists assayed samples from 229 individual wolves taken over the years—116 males, 112 females, and one hermaphrodite—to try to correlate the presence of antibodies against the parasite with demographic factors and specific behaviors. (The relationship between antibodies and infection is complicated, given that the parasite can persist at low levels indefinitely after infections.)

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China Launches Astronauts To Newly Completed Space Station

science - Posted On:2022-11-29 13:15:00 Source: slashdot

Tall as a 20-story building, a rocket carrying the Shenzhou 15 mission roared into the night sky of the Gobi Desert on Tuesday, carrying three astronauts toward a rendezvous with China's just-completed space station. From a report: The rocket launch was a split-screen event for China, the latest in a long series of technological achievements for the country, even as many of its citizens have been angrily lashing out in the streets against stringent pandemic controls.The air shook as the huge white rocket leaped into a starry, bitterly cold night sky shortly before the setting of a waxing crescent moon. The expedition to the new space station is a milestone for China's rapidly advancing space program. It is the first time a team of three astronauts already aboard the Tiangong outpost will be met by a crew arriving from Earth. The Chinese space station will now be continuously occupied, like the International Space Station, another marker laid down by China in its race to catch up with the United States and surpass it as the dominant power in space. With a sustained presence in low-Earth orbit aboard Tiangong, Chinese space officials are preparing to put astronauts on the moon, which NASA also intends to revisit before the end of the decade as part of its Artemis program. "It will not take a long time; we can achieve the goal of manned moon landing," Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's crewed space program, said in an interview at the launch center. China has been developing a lunar lander, he added, without giving a date when it might be used. The launch of Shenzhou 15 comes less than two weeks after NASA finally launched its Artemis I mission following many delays. That flight has put its uncrewed Orion capsule into orbit around the moon. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Traces of ancient hurricanes on the seafloor are a warning for coastal areas

Science - Posted On:2022-11-29 11:00:00 Source: arstechnica

If you look back at the history of Atlantic hurricanes since the late 1800s, it might seem hurricane frequency is on the rise.

The year 2020 had the most tropical cyclones in the Atlantic, with 31, and 2021 had the third-highest, after 2005. The past decade saw five of the six most destructive Atlantic hurricanes in modern history.

Then a year like 2022 comes along, with no major hurricane landfalls until Fiona and Ian struck in late September. The Atlantic hurricane season, which ends November 30, has had eight hurricanes and 14 named storms. It’s a reminder that small sample sizes can be misleading when assessing trends in hurricane behavior. There is so much natural variability in hurricane behavior year to year and even decade to decade that we need to look much further back in time for the real trends to come clear.

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China links COVID outbreak to man’s jog through a park; Scientists skeptical

Science - Posted On:2022-11-29 09:15:01 Source: arstechnica

In the early morning of August 16, a 41-year-old man in China's southwest-central municipality of Chongqing got up and went for a jog along a lake in a local outdoor park—something that should have been a pleasant, if not unremarkable, outing. But what really happened during that 35-minute jaunt has now sparked international alarm and debate, with some scientists doubtful of China's startling account.

According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the unmasked man infected 33 unmasked park visitors and two unmasked park workers with the coronavirus omicron subvariant BA.2.76 during his short run. The agency claimed transmission occurred in fleeting outdoor encounters as he trotted past people on a four-meter-wide foot path. Many others were infected without any close encounter. Twenty of the 33 infected park goers became infected by simply visiting outdoor areas of the park the jogger had previously passed through, including an entrance gate. The two infected workers, meanwhile, quickly passed the infection on to four other colleagues, bringing the jogger's park outbreak total to 39.

To support these unusual conclusions, the CCDC cited case interviews, park surveillance footage, and SARS-CoV-2 genetic data, which reportedly linked the cases but is notably absent from the report.

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Orion flies far beyond the Moon, returns an instantly iconic photo

Science - Posted On:2022-11-29 09:15:01 Source: arstechnica

NASA's Orion spacecraft reached the farthest outbound point in its journey from Earth on Monday, a distance of more than 430,000 km from humanity's home world. This is nearly double the distance between Earth and the Moon and is farther than the Apollo capsule traveled during NASA's lunar missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

From this vantage point, on Monday, a camera attached to the solar panels on board Orion's service module snapped photos of the Moon and, just beyond, the Earth. These were lovely, lonely, and evocative images.

"The imagery was crazy," said the Artemis I mission's lead flight director, Rick LaBrode. "It’s really hard to articulate what the feeling is. It’s really amazing to be here, and see that."

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Artemis: NASA's Orion Capsule Breaks Distance Record

science - Posted On:2022-11-29 05:15:01 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The US space agency's Orion capsule has reached a key milestone on its demonstration mission around the Moon. On Monday, it moved some 430,000km (270,000 miles) beyond the Earth -- the furthest any spacecraft designed to carry humans has travelled. The ship is uncrewed on this occasion, but if it completes the current flight without incident, astronauts will be on the next outing in two years' time. [...] The previous record for the most distant point reached by a human-rated spacecraft was set by the Apollo-13 mission in April 1970. It went out to 400,171km (248,655 miles) from Earth as its crew fought to navigate their way home following an explosion in their capsule's service module. Monday's milestone marks the middle point of the mission. "This halfway point teaches us to number our days so that we can get a heart of wisdom," said Mike Sarafin, Nasa's Artemis mission manager. "The halfway point affords us an opportunity to step back and then look at what our margins are and where we could be a little smarter to buy down risk and understand the spacecraft's performance for crewed flight on the very next mission." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Japanese Researchers Faked Data In Spaceflight Simulation

science - Posted On:2022-11-28 22:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) says a team of researchers fabricated the results of an experiment, led by one of its astronauts, that sought to simulate daily life on board the International Space Station (ISS). JAXA stated that it would subject astronaut Satoshi Furukawa to disciplinary action over data tampering, Japanese media reported. The experiment in question, conducted between 2016 and 2017, involved 40 participants who were confined to closed environments to simulate what astronauts experience during spaceflight. The participants spent about two weeks at a facility in Tsukuba, a city northeast of Tokyo, after which time their stress levels and mental well-being were to be assessed by the overseeing researchers. Or at least, that was the plan. Instead, the two researchers responsible for conducting the interviews fabricated the data, compiling psychological assessments without actually having done the interviews and rewriting the diagnosis of the participants, according to NHK World-Japan. The researchers also claimed that three of them had conducted the interviews, when in fact it was just the two. JAXA began investigating the results of the research in November 2020 upon noticing that something wasn't quite right with the data, and subsequently suspending the 190 million yen ($1.4 million) experiment. The researchers involved claimed that they were too busy to dedicate enough time towards the data gathering for the experiment, according to to JAXA vice president Hiroshi Sasaki and as reported in Kyoto News. The Japanese space agency will reprimand 58-year-old astronaut Furukawa, who was overseeing the experiment as project supervisor. However, since Furukawa was not personally involved in fabricating the data, his upcoming mission to the ISS in 2023 will not be affected. JAXA also stated that it would look into returning the grant it had received from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for the experiment. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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What’s the best design for splash-free urinal? Physics now has the answer

Science - Posted On:2022-11-28 14:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Scientists at the University of Waterloo have determined the optimal design for a splash-free urinal: a tall, slender porcelain structure with curves reminiscent of a nautilus shell, playfully dubbed the "Nauti-loo." That's good news for men tired of having urine splash onto their pants and shoes—and for the poor souls who have to regularly clean up all the splatter. Bonus: It's quite an aesthetically appealing design, giving this workhorse of the public restroom a touch of class.

“The idea originated exactly where you think it did,” Waterloo's Zhao Pan told New Scientist. “I think most of us have been a little inattentive at our post and looked down to find we were wearing speckled pants. Nobody likes having pee everywhere, so why not just create a urinal where splatter is extremely unlikely?” His graduate student, Kaveeshan Thurairajah, presented the results of this research during last week's American Physical Society (APS) meeting on fluid dynamics in Indianapolis.

It's not the first time scientists have attempted to address this issue. Pan is a former graduate student of Tadd Truscott, a mechanical engineer who founded the so-called "Splash Lab" at Utah State University. In 2013, the Splash Lab (then at Brigham Young University) offered a few handy tips on how men could avoid staining their khaki pants with urine splashback while relieving themselves in restrooms. "Sitting on the toilet is the best technique, since there’s less distance for the pee to cover on its journey to the bowl," I wrote previously at Gizmodo. "If you opt for the classic standing technique, the scientists advised standing as close to the urinal as possible, and trying to direct the stream at a downward angle toward the back of the urinal."

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We’ve reached the end of a bizarre Atlantic hurricane season

Science - Posted On:2022-11-28 11:45:00 Source: arstechnica

The Atlantic hurricane season officially ends on Wednesday, bringing to a close the six-month period when the vast majority of tropical activity occurs in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

Prior to the season, forecasters generally expected a busier-than-normal season. However, six months later, overall activity this year has come in slightly below normal. One of the more scientifically rigorous measurements of seasonal activity—based on the length and intensity of storms—is Accumulated Cyclone Energy. This year's value, 95, is about three-quarters of the normal value of 126.

That bland statistic belies the fact that this was an odd season. After three weak early-season storms, the Atlantic basin produced zero named storms between July 3 and August 31. This was the first time since 1941 that the Atlantic had no named storm activity during this period. Then, a light came on. Four hurricanes formed in September, along with three more in November. This brought seasonal activity to near-normal levels.

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Scientists Say Webb Telescope's New Exoplanet Data is 'a Game Changer'

science - Posted On:2022-11-27 11:45:00 Source: slashdot

"The powerful Webb telescope doesn't need to take pretty pictures to revolutionize our grasp of the cosmos," notes Mashable. It's "a game changer," says one of the researchers. They're part of what the Webb telescope's web site calls "an international team numbering in the hundreds" that "independently analysed data from four of the Webb telescope's finely calibrated instrument modes." And their ground-breaking first results? The James Webb Space Telescope "just scored another first: a molecular and chemical portrait of a distant world's skies." The European Space Agency's page for the telescope explains why revealing a "broad swath of the infrared spectrum and a panoply of chemical fingerprints" is so groundbreaking: While Webb and other space telescopes, including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, have previously revealed isolated ingredients of this heated planet's atmosphere, the new readings provide a full menu of atoms, molecules, and even signs of active chemistry and clouds.... The telescope's array of highly sensitive instruments was trained on the atmosphere of WASP-39 b, a "hot Saturn" (a planet about as massive as Saturn but in an orbit tighter than Mercury) orbiting a star some 700 light-years away.... Webb's exquisitely sensitive instruments have provided a profile of WASP-39 b's atmospheric constituents and identified a plethora of contents, including water, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, sodium and potassium. Earlier Mashable explained that the researchers "wait for planets to travel in front of their bright stars. This starlight passes through the exoplanet's atmosphere, then through space, and ultimately into instruments called spectrographs aboard Webb... essentially hi-tech prisms, which separate the light into a rainbow of colors. Here's the big trick: Certain molecules, like water, in the atmosphere absorb specific types, or colors, of light." From the Webb Telescope's site: The findings bode well for the capability of Webb's instruments to conduct the broad range of investigations of exoplanets — planets around other stars — hoped for by the science community. That includes probing the atmospheres of smaller, rocky planets like those in the TRAPPIST-1 system.... Among the unprecedented revelations is the first detection in an exoplanet atmosphere of sulphur dioxide, a molecule produced from chemical reactions triggered by high-energy light from the planet's parent star.... "This is the first time we have seen concrete evidence of photochemistry — chemical reactions initiated by energetic stellar light — on exoplanets," said Shang-Min Tsai, a researcher at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and lead author of the paper explaining the origin of sulphur dioxide in WASP-39 b's atmosphere. "I see this as a really promising outlook for advancing our understanding of exoplanet atmospheres...." This led to another first: scientists applying computer models of photochemistry to data that require such physics to be fully explained. The resulting improvements in modelling will help build the technological know-how needed to interpret potential signs of habitability in the future.... The planet's proximity to its host star — eight times closer than Mercury is to our Sun — also makes it a laboratory for studying the effects of radiation from host stars on exoplanets. Better knowledge of the star-planet connection should bring a deeper understanding of how these processes affect the diversity of planets observed in the galaxy. Other atmospheric constituents detected by the Webb telescope include sodium (Na), potassium (K), and water vapour (H2O), confirming previous space- and ground-based telescope observations as well as finding additional fingerprints of water, at these longer wavelengths, that haven't been seen before. Webb also saw carbon dioxide (CO2) at higher resolution, providing twice as much data as reported from its previous observations.... By precisely revealing the details of an exoplanet atmosphere, the Webb telescope's instruments performed well beyond scientists' expectations — and promise a new phase of exploration of the broad variety of exoplanets in the galaxy. "We are going to be able to see the big picture of exoplanet atmospheres," said Laura Flagg, a researcher at Cornell University and a member of the international team. "It is incredibly exciting to know that everything is going to be rewritten. That is one of the best parts of being a scientist." Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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CNN: NASA Discovery Reveals There May Have Been Life on Mars

science - Posted On:2022-11-27 00:45:00 Source: slashdot

"News from Mars," CNN reported Friday. "Not just that water was there, perhaps millions of years ago, but also these organic compounds." In an interview with the head of Earth Sciences collections at the UK's Natural History Musem, CNN asked the million-dollar question. "How much more likely, if you believe so, that that makes it that there was life on Mars at some time." A: So what we've found with data that's come back from the Rover and has been studied over the last few months is that we see igneous rocks -- so these are rocks that have been formed through volcanic processes -- which have also been affected by the action of liquid water. And that's really really interesting and exciting, because liquid water is one of the key ingredients you need for life to start. So if you've got the chances of life ever being on Mars, you'd need to have somewhere that had liquid water for at least a period of time. And we've got good evidence for that. Now that's combined with the fact that we're seeing, using instruments like SHERLOCK, which is an instrument that I'm involved with, also the presence of organic molecules. And organic molecules are chemical molecules made of the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sometimes bits of sulfur, sometimes bits of phosphorous, and maybe some added-up things. And those are really really important, because you need organic molecules for life to start. And the other thing that's really interesting about organic molecules is they can actually be sort of fossil chemical evidence of potential past life. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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SpaceX Launches Tomato Seeds, Other Supplies to Space Station

science - Posted On:2022-11-26 21:45:00 Source: slashdot

About an hour ago SpaceX began tweeting video highlights of their latest launch — a NASA-commissioned resupply mission for the International Space Station. - "Liftoff!" - "Falcon 9's first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship" - "Dragon separation confirmed; autonomous docking to the Space Station on Sunday, November 27 at ~7:30 a.m. ET" You can watch the whole launch on SpaceX's web site. But CNN explains that SpaceX "has launched more than two dozen resupply missions to the space station over the past decade as part of a multibillion-dollar deal with NASA. This launch comes amid SpaceX's busiest year to date, with more than 50 operations so far, including two astronaut missions." And yet this one carries something unique. (And it's not just the Thanksgiving-themed treats and solar arrays to boost the space station's power...) Nutrients are a key component of maintaining good health in space. But fresh produce is in short supply on the space station compared with the prepackaged meals astronauts eat during their six-month stays in low-Earth orbit. "It is fairly important to our exploration goals at NASA to be able to sustain the crew with not only nutrition but also to look at various types of plants as sources for nutrients that we would be hard-pressed to sustain on the long trips between distant destinations like Mars and so forth," said Kirt Costello, chief scientist at NASA's International Space Station Program and a deputy manager of the ISS Research Integration Office. Astronauts have grown and tasted different types of lettuce, radishes and chiles on the International Space Station. Now, the crew members can add some dwarf tomatoes — specifically, Red Robin tomatoes — to their list of space-grown salad ingredients. The experiment is part of an effort to provide continuous fresh food production in space.... The space tomatoes will be grown inside small bags called plant pillows installed in the Vegetable Production System, known as the Veggie growth chamber, on the space station. The astronauts will frequently water and nurture the plants.... The hardware is still in development for larger crop production on the space station and eventually other planets, but scientists are already planning what plants might grow best on the moon and Mars. Earlier this year, a team successfully grew plants in lunar soil that included samples collected during the Apollo missions. "Tomatoes are going to be a great crop for the moon," Massa said. "They're very nutritious, very delicious, and we think the astronauts will be really excited to grow them there." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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SpaceX Launches Dragon Cargo Ship (and Lands Falcon 9 Rocket) For ISS Resupply Mission

science - Posted On:2022-11-26 15:45:00 Source: slashdot

About an hour ago SpaceX began tweeting video highlights of their latest launch — a NASA-commissioned resupply mission for the International Space Station. - "Liftoff!" - "Falcon 9's first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship" - "Dragon separation confirmed; autonomous docking to the Space Station on Sunday, November 27 at ~7:30 a.m. ET" You can watch the whole launch on SpaceX's web site. But CNN explains that SpaceX "has launched more than two dozen resupply missions to the space station over the past decade as part of a multibillion-dollar deal with NASA. This launch comes amid SpaceX's busiest year to date, with more than 50 operations so far, including two astronaut missions." And yet this one carries something unique. (And it's not just the Thanksgiving-themed treats and solar arrays to boost the space station's power...) Nutrients are a key component of maintaining good health in space. But fresh produce is in short supply on the space station compared with the prepackaged meals astronauts eat during their six-month stays in low-Earth orbit. "It is fairly important to our exploration goals at NASA to be able to sustain the crew with not only nutrition but also to look at various types of plants as sources for nutrients that we would be hard-pressed to sustain on the long trips between distant destinations like Mars and so forth," said Kirt Costello, chief scientist at NASA's International Space Station Program and a deputy manager of the ISS Research Integration Office. Astronauts have grown and tasted different types of lettuce, radishes and chiles on the International Space Station. Now, the crew members can add some dwarf tomatoes — specifically, Red Robin tomatoes — to their list of space-grown salad ingredients. The experiment is part of an effort to provide continuous fresh food production in space.... The space tomatoes will be grown inside small bags called plant pillows installed in the Vegetable Production System, known as the Veggie growth chamber, on the space station. The astronauts will frequently water and nurture the plants.... The hardware is still in development for larger crop production on the space station and eventually other planets, but scientists are already planning what plants might grow best on the moon and Mars. Earlier this year, a team successfully grew plants in lunar soil that included samples collected during the Apollo missions. "Tomatoes are going to be a great crop for the moon," Massa said. "They're very nutritious, very delicious, and we think the astronauts will be really excited to grow them there." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The evolution of whales from land to sea

Science - Posted On:2022-11-26 09:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Around 400 million years ago, the ancestor of all four-limbed creatures took its first steps onto dry land. Fast-forward about 350 million years, and a descendant of these early landlubbers did an about-face: It waded back into the water. With time, the back-to-the sea creatures would give rise to animals vastly different from their land-trotting kin: They became the magnificent whales, dolphins, and porpoises that glide through the oceans today.

Going back to being aquatic was a drastic move that would change the animals inside and out, in the space of about 10 million years—an eyeblink in evolutionary terms. Members of this group, now called cetaceans, dropped their hind limbs for powerful flukes and lost nearly all their hair. For decades, their bizarre body plans perplexed paleontologists, who speculated they might have arisen from creatures as varied as marine reptiles, seals, marsupials like kangaroos, and even a now-extinct group of wolf-like carnivores.

“The cetaceans are on the whole the most peculiar and aberrant of mammals,” one scientist wrote in 1945.

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Universal Flu Vaccine May Be Available Within Two Years, Says Scientist

science - Posted On:2022-11-25 14:15:00 Source: slashdot

A universal flu vaccine that protects against all strains of the virus could be available in the next two years, according to a leading scientist. From a report: An experimental vaccine based on the same mRNA technology used in the highly successful Covid jabs was found to protect mice and ferrets against severe influenza, paving the way for clinical trials in humans. Prof John Oxford, a neurologist at Queen Mary University in London, who was not involved in the work, said the vaccine developed at the University of Pennsylvania could be ready for use the winter after next. "I cannot emphasise enough what a breakthrough this paper is," Oxford told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme. "The potential is huge, and I think sometimes we underestimate these big respiratory viruses." Researchers have been working on universal flu vaccines for more than a decade, but the latest breakthrough, published in Science, is seen as a major step towards a jab that could help protect humans from a potentially devastating flu pandemic. Seasonal flu vaccines, which protect against up to four strains of the virus, are updated every year to ensure they are a good match for flu viruses in circulation. The new vaccine is designed to prime the immune system against all 20 subtypes of influenza A and B, potentially arming the body to tackle any flu virus that arises. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Scientists debate the role of a virus in multiple sclerosis

Science - Posted On:2022-11-25 07:30:01 Source: arstechnica

Ryan Grant was in his 20s and serving in the military when he learned that the numbness and tingling in his hands and feet, as well as his unshakeable fatigue, were symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Like nearly a million other people with MS in the United States, Grant had been feeling his immune system attack his central nervous system. The insulation around his nerves was crumbling, weakening the signals between his brain and body.

The disease can have a wide range of symptoms and outcomes. Now 43, Grant has lost the ability to walk, and he has moved into a veterans’ home in Oregon, so that his wife and children don’t have to be his caretakers. He’s all too familiar with the course of the illness and can name risk factors he did and didn’t share with other MS patients, three-quarters of whom are female. But until recently, he hadn’t heard that many scientists now believe the most important factor behind MS is a virus.

For decades, researchers suspected that Epstein-Barr virus, a common childhood infection, is linked to multiple sclerosis. In January, the journal Science pushed that connection into headlines when it published the results of a two-decade study of people who, like Grant, have served in the military. The study’s researchers concluded that EBV infection is “the leading cause” of MS.

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FDA Approves Most Expensive Drug Ever, a $3.5 Million-per-Dose Gene Therapy For Hemophilia B

science - Posted On:2022-11-24 18:15:00 Source: slashdot

U.S. health regulators this week approved the first gene therapy for hemophilia, a $3.5 million one-time treatment for the blood-clotting disorder. From a report: The Food and Drug Administration cleared Hemgenix, an IV treatment for adults with hemophilia B, the less common form of the genetic disorder which primarily affects men. Currently, patients receive frequent, expensive IVs of a protein that helps blood clot and prevent bleeding. Drugmaker CSL Behring, based in Pennsylvania, announced the $3.5 million price tag shortly after the FDA approval, saying its drug would ultimately reduce health care costs because patients would have fewer bleeding incidents and need fewer clotting treatments. According to a study cited by the National Library of Medicine, the price makes Hemgenix the most expensive medicine in the world, easily topping Novartis' Zolgensma gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which costs right around $2 million per dose and is also a single-dose medicine. Like most medicines in the U.S., most of the cost of the new treatment will be paid by insurers, not patients, including private plans and government programs. After decades of research, gene therapies have begun reshaping the treatment of cancers and rare inheritable diseases with medicines that can modify or correct mutations embedded in people's genetic code. Hemgenix is the first such treatment for hemophilia and several other drugmakers are working on gene therapies for the more common form of the disorder, hemophilia A. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Oxford scientists crack case of why ketchup splatters from near-empty bottle

Science - Posted On:2022-11-24 14:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Ketchup is one of the most popular condiments in the US, along with mayonnaise, but getting those few last dollops out of the bottle often results in a sudden splattering. "It's annoying, potentially embarrassing, and can ruin clothes, but can we do anything about it?" Callum Cuttle of the University of Oxford said during a press conference earlier this week at an American Physical Society meeting on fluid dynamics in Indianapolis, Indiana. "And more importantly, can understanding this phenomenon help us with any other problems in life?"

The answer to both questions, per Cuttle, is a resounding yes. Along with his Oxford colleague, Chris MacMinn, he conducted a series of experiments to identify the forces at play and develop a theoretical model for ketchup splatter. Among the most interesting findings: squeezing the bottle more slowly and doubling the diameter of the nozzle helps prevent splatter. There is also a critical threshold where the flow of ketchup shifts suddenly from not splattering to splattering. A preprint paper has been posted to arXiv and is currently undergoing peer review.

Isaac Newton identified the properties of what he deemed an "ideal liquid." One of those properties is viscosity, loosely defined as how much friction/resistance there is to flow in a given substance. The friction arises because a flowing liquid is essentially a series of layers sliding past one another. The faster one layer slides over another, the more resistance there is, and the slower one layer slides over another, the less resistance there is.

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ESA Names World's First Disabled Astronaut

science - Posted On:2022-11-24 02:15:00 Source: slashdot

The European Space Agency on Wednesday named the first ever "parastronaut" in a major step towards allowing people with physical disabilities to work and live in space. Reuters reports: The 22-nation agency said it had selected former British Paralympic sprinter John McFall as part of a new generation of 17 recruits picked for astronaut training. He will take part in a feasibility study designed to allow ESA to assess the conditions needed for people with disabilities to take part in future missions. He will join five new career astronauts and 11 reserves in training after ESA replenished its astronaut ranks for the first time since 2009. Following a motorcycle accident that led to his right leg being amputated at the age of 19, McFall went on to win the 100-metres Bronze Medal at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008. The 31-year-old doctor will help ESA engineers design changes in hardware needed to open professional spaceflight to a wider group of qualified candidates, the agency said. "It's been quite a whirlwind experience, given that as an amputee, I'd never thought that being an astronaut was a possibility, so excitement was a huge emotion," McFall said in an interview posted on ESA's website. "I think the message that I would give to future generations is that science is for everyone and space travel hopefully can be for everyone," McFall said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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