Category: Science

Jupiter extra close, extra bright this week

BY MARCIA DUNN CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Jupiter is extra close and extra bright this week, and that means some amazing, new close-ups. The Hubble Space Telescope zoomed in on the solar system giant Monday, and NASA released the pictures Thursday. Jupiter was a relatively close 415 million miles (668 million kilometers) away. The planet’s Great Red Spot is especially vivid. It’s a storm big enough to swallow Earth, but is mysteriously shrinking. Hubble’s ongoing observations may help explain why. Also visible in the photos is Red Spot Jr. On Friday, Jupiter will be in opposition. That’s when...

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Stone Age cannibals: Hunting each other not worth the hassle

BY MALCOLM RITTER NEW YORK (AP) — You know those snacks that are OK if they’re handy, but not worth the bother if you have to go track them down? Our Stone Age forerunners may have felt the same way about eating each other. Neanderthals and prehistoric members of our own species occasionally practiced cannibalism and explaining that is a scientific challenge. Generally, it has been attributed to factors like starvation, violence between groups or ceremonial practices following a death. Now a new study suggests they were probably not hunting each other just for food. That’s because “we are...

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The 1st Brexit was literal: Study shows Britain’s original split from Europe

BY FRANK JORDANS BERLIN (AP) — It was a literal Brexit – Britain’s geographical separation from mainland Europe – which newly published research reveals to have been caused by a period of slow erosion, then a cataclysmic split. Using unprecedented undersea measurements, scientists have reconstructed the geological process that carved the strait separating Britain from the European mainland, now known as the English Channel. The split foreshadowed, and arguably contributed to, Britain’s recent political break with the continent by creating an island that was difficult to access and developed alongside, but separated from Europe. Shakespeare, in "Richard II," hymned...

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Rye Genome Sequenced For the First Time by German Researchers

BERLIN (AP) — Scientists in Germany have for the first time mapped the entire genome of rye, a cereal known for its hardy properties. Eva Bauer, a plant researcher at the Technical University of Munich and lead author of the study, says rye has received less attention than wheat, barley and maize, which are more widely cultivated. This meant there was less funding from industry to sequence the rye genome, which is about 2½ times the size of the human genome. Bauer said Monday that rye’s ability to cope with droughts, poor soil and resist frost – which makes...

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Spacewalkers lose piece of shielding, use patch instead

BY MARCIA DUNN CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Spacewalking astronauts carried out an impromptu patch job outside the International Space Station on Thursday, after losing a vital piece of cloth shielding when it floated away. As the drama unfolded, Peggy Whitson set a record for the most spacewalks by a woman – eight – and the most accumulated time spent spacewalking – just over 53 hours. The bundled-up shield somehow came loose as Whitson and Shane Kimbrough worked to install micrometeorite protection over a spot left exposed when a new docking port was relocated. Mission Control monitored the shield...

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