Nell Greenfieldboyce http://nhpr.org en Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin' http://nhpr.org/post/scientists-spot-planet-looks-earths-cousin Scientists who have been hunting for another Earth beyond our solar system have come across a planet that's remarkably similar to our world.<p>It's almost the same size as Earth, and it orbits in its star's "Goldilocks zone" — where temperatures are not too hot, not too cold, and maybe just right for life.<p>But a lot about this planet is going to remain a mystery, because it's 500 light-years away.<p>Researchers detected the planet while poring over data collected by <a href="http://kepler.nasa.gov/">NASA's Kepler Space Telescope</a>. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:02:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 46943 at http://nhpr.org Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin' Climate Change Adjustments Must Be Fast And Major, U.N. Panel Says http://nhpr.org/post/climate-change-adjustments-must-be-fast-and-large-un-panel-says A new report from the United Nations' panel on climate change says major action is needed, and fast, if policymakers want to limit global warming to acceptable levels.<p>There's an international target to control climate change: keeping the global temperature rise to just 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The <a href="http://mitigation2014.org/">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a> now says it's technically possible to meet that goal. Sun, 13 Apr 2014 13:40:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 46676 at http://nhpr.org Climate Change Adjustments Must Be Fast And Major, U.N. Panel Says Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious http://nhpr.org/post/scientists-publish-recipe-making-bird-flu-more-contagious The Dutch virologist accused of engineering a dangerous superflu a few years ago is back with more contentious research.<p>In 2011, <a href="http://www.erasmusmc.nl/MScMM/faculty/CVs/fouchier_cv?lang=en">Ron Fouchier</a> and his team at Erasmus Medical Center took the H5N1 flu virus and made it more contagious. Now the team has published another study with more details on the exact genetic changes needed to do the trick.<p>The <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/146924995/h5n1">H5N1</a> bird flu is known to have sickened 650 people worldwide, and of those, 386 died. Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:06:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 46545 at http://nhpr.org Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious Smithsonian's Air And Space Museum To Get $30 Million Spiffier http://nhpr.org/post/smithsonians-air-and-space-museum-get-30-million-spiffier Throngs of museum-goers mill through the grand entrance hall of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., every day, gawking at such treasures as the Apollo 11 capsule that carried Neil Armstrong's crew to the moon and back, as well as Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:45:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 46145 at http://nhpr.org Smithsonian's Air And Space Museum To Get $30 Million Spiffier Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel http://nhpr.org/post/ethicists-tell-nasa-how-weigh-hazards-space-travel NASA is hoping to soon venture out farther into space than ever before. Wed, 02 Apr 2014 15:23:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 46062 at http://nhpr.org Ethicists Tell NASA How To Weigh Hazards Of Space Travel New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits http://nhpr.org/post/new-dwarf-planet-found-solar-systems-outer-limits Scientists have spotted a new dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system. It's a kind of pink ice ball that's way out there, far beyond Pluto.<p>Astronomers used to think this region of space was a no man's land. But the <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/dwarf-planet-stretches-solar-system-s-edge-1.14921#/ref-link-1">new findings</a> suggest that it holds many small worlds — and there are even hints of an unseen planet bigger than Earth.<p>"We used to think there's just not much out there. Wed, 26 Mar 2014 19:01:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 45670 at http://nhpr.org New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium http://nhpr.org/post/if-yellowstone-could-talk-it-might-squeak-blame-helium A huge amount of ancient helium is rising up from the rocks beneath Yellowstone National Park — about enough to fill up a Goodyear blimp every week.<p>The gas comes from a vast store of helium that's accumulated in the Earth's crust for hundreds of millions of years, scientists report in the journal <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7488/full/nature12992.html">Nature</a> this week.<p>The helium is being released because in the past couple of million years — very recently, in geologic time — that old part of the crust has been feeling the heat from a huge volcano that is now s Wed, 19 Feb 2014 20:39:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 43817 at http://nhpr.org If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research http://nhpr.org/post/drugmakers-and-nih-band-together-speed-research The National Institutes of Health is teaming up with major drug companies in a new effort to identify disease-related molecules and biological processes that could lead to future medicines.<p>The public-private partnership is called <a href="http://www.nih.gov/science/amp/index.htm">AMP</a>, for the "Accelerating Medicines Partnership," and it will focus first on Alzheimer's disease, Type 2 diabetes, and two autoimmune disorders: rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.<p>This is a five-year, $230 million venture. NIH is splitting the cost with industry. Tue, 04 Feb 2014 20:30:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 42989 at http://nhpr.org Drugmakers And NIH Band Together To Speed Up Research Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth http://nhpr.org/post/ancient-plagues-dna-revived-1500-year-old-tooth Scientists have reconstructed the genetic code of a strain of bacteria that caused one of the most deadly pandemics in history nearly 1,500 years ago.<p>They did it by finding the skeletons of people killed by the plague and extracting DNA from traces of blood inside their teeth.<p>This plague struck in the year 541, under the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, so it's usually called the <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22767313">Justinian plague</a>. The emperor actually got sick himself but recovered. Wed, 29 Jan 2014 07:59:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 42613 at http://nhpr.org Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth In Search For Habitable Planets, Why Stop At 'Earth-Like'? http://nhpr.org/post/search-habitable-planets-why-stop-earth In their hunt for potentially habitable planets around distant stars, scientists have been so focused on finding Earth-like planets that they're ignoring the possibility that other kinds of planets might be even friendlier to life, a new report says.<p>So-called superhabitable worlds wouldn't necessarily look like Earth but would nonetheless have conditions that are more suitable for life to emerge and evolve, according to the <a href="http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ast.2013.1088">study</a> published this month in the journal <em>Astrobiology</em>.<p>"In my point of view, astrono Thu, 16 Jan 2014 20:35:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 41973 at http://nhpr.org In Search For Habitable Planets, Why Stop At 'Earth-Like'? Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo http://nhpr.org/post/screening-newborns-disease-can-leave-families-limbo For Matthew and Brianne Wojtesta, it all started about a week after the birth of their daughter Vera. Matthew was picking up his son from kindergarten when he got a phone call.<p>It was their pediatrician, with some shocking news. Vera had been flagged by New York's <a href="http://www.wadsworth.org/newborn/krabbe.htm">newborn screening program</a> as possibly having a potentially deadly disease, and would need to go see a neurologist the next day.<p>Like every state, New York requires that newborns get a small heel prick so that a few drops of blood can be sent to a lab for testing. Mon, 23 Dec 2013 08:46:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 40621 at http://nhpr.org Screening Newborns For Disease Can Leave Families In Limbo Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops http://nhpr.org/post/bacterial-competition-lab-shows-evolution-never-stops Evolution is relentless process that seems to keep going and going, even when creatures live in a stable, unchanging world.<p>That's the latest surprise from a unique experiment that's been underway for more than a quarter-century.<p>Evolution is so important for biology, medicine and a general understanding of our world that scientists want to understand it as fully as possible. That's why, in 1988, biologist <a href="http://myxo.css.msu.edu/BioSketch.html">Richard Lenski</a> took a dozen glass flasks and added identical bacteria to each of them. Thu, 14 Nov 2013 19:44:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 38570 at http://nhpr.org Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops Old Dogs, New Data: Canines May Have Been Domesticated In Europe http://nhpr.org/post/old-dogs-new-data-canines-may-have-been-domesticated-europe Scientists have used some new tricks and old dogs to show that thousands of years ago, wolves may have first become man's best friend in Europe.<p>Researchers extracted DNA from ancient wolf or dog fossils and compared it with DNA from modern dog breeds and wolves. Until recently, labs didn't have the kind of genetic tools they'd need to work with such old dog DNA and do this kind of detailed comparison.<p>One surprise is that most domestic dogs are more closely related to ancient wolves than modern wolves. Thu, 14 Nov 2013 19:35:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 38542 at http://nhpr.org Old Dogs, New Data: Canines May Have Been Domesticated In Europe Galaxy Quest: Just How Many Earth-Like Planets Are Out There? http://nhpr.org/post/galaxy-quest-just-how-many-earth-planets-are-out-there A team of planet hunters estimates that about 22 percent of the sun-like stars in our galaxy may have planets about the size of Earth that are bathed in similar amounts of sunlight — and potentially habitable.<p>That's the conclusion of a new analysis of observations taken by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009 to hunt for potentially habitable Earth-like planets around other stars.<p>Kepler's goal was to find out if planets like Earth were cosmic rarities or a common occurrence. Tue, 05 Nov 2013 08:01:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 37961 at http://nhpr.org Galaxy Quest: Just How Many Earth-Like Planets Are Out There? Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin http://nhpr.org/post/why-scientists-held-back-details-unique-botulinum-toxin Scientists have discovered the first new form of botulinum toxin in over 40 years, but they're taking the unusual step of keeping key details about it secret.<p>That's because <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/botulism.html">botulinum toxin</a> is one of the most poisonous substances known. Wed, 09 Oct 2013 21:52:00 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 36492 at http://nhpr.org Why Scientists Held Back Details On A Unique Botulinum Toxin