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Tire makers race to turn dandelions into rubber
By Ludwig Burger MUENSTER Germany (Reuters) - Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport. The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires. Her research team is competing with others across the world to breed a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan whose taproot yields a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. Global tire makers such as industry leader Bridgestone Corp and No.4 player Continental AG believe they are in for rich pickings and are backing such research to the tune of millions of dollars.
Spacewalking cosmonauts launch satellite, set up studies
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. - A pair of Russian cosmonauts began their work week on Monday floating outside the International Space Station to toss out a small satellite for a university in Peru, install science experiments and tackle some housekeeping chores. First out of the hatch was cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who stood on a ladder outside the station's Pirs airlock to release a 2.2-pound (1-kg), 4-inch (10-cm) cube-shaped satellite built by students at the National University of Engineering in Lima, Peru. Video broadcast on NASA Television showed the satellite, called Chasqui-1, tumbling away from the back of the station as it sailed about 260 miles (418 km) above the southern Pacific Ocean. Artemyev was then joined by spacewalker Alexander Skvortsov to install a European package of experiments to the outside of the Russian Zvezda module.
Specks of star dust likely first from beyond solar system
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - A NASA spacecraft dispatched 15 years ago to collect samples from a comet also snared what scientists suspect are the first dust specks from interstellar space. The Stardust robotic spacecraft was launched in 1999 to fly by a comet and collect samples from Comet Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt 2")and parachute them back to Earth in 2006. Before reaching the comet, the spacecraft also twice opened a collection tray to fish forparticles that may have come into the solar system from interstellar space. ...
'Mission Blue' film charts scientist's quest to save oceans
By Patricia Reaney NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the Galapagos Islands to Australia's Coral Sea and a marine park off the coast of Mexico, the documentary "Mission Blue" navigates the journey of renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle as she travels the globe to save the planet's threatened seas. With stunning underwater footage, the film that airs on Friday on the online streaming service Netflix and in selected U.S. theaters, shows the devastating impact of pollution, overfishing and climate change on the oceans through the eyes of the renowned scientist, explorer and author who has been charting it for decades. "I really wanted to make people aware of this woman and her life because she is such an incredible person and has dedicated so much of her life toward the ocean," Fisher Stevens, 50, who co-directed the film with Robert Nixon, said in an interview. Stevens, an actor and producer of the 2010 Oscar-winning dolphin-hunting documentary "The Cove," met Earle, 78, while filming her trip to the Galapagos Islands with scientists, explorers and policy makers more than four years ago.
Rise of the machines? Tiny robot horde swarms to form shapes
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They look vaguely like miniature hockey pucks skittering along on three pin-like metal legs, but a swarm of small robots called Kilobots at a laboratory at Harvard University is making a little bit of history for automatons everywhere. They use vibration motors to slide across a surface on their three legs.
Zombie Fungus Makes 'Sniper's Alley' Around Ant Colonies
Goodbye, Glasses: Future Smartphone Screens Could Correct Vision
It works in conjunction with a software program to correct the viewer's focal distance the range at which the eye can bring objects into focus. People with visual impairments, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, have trouble with focal distance, said Gordon Wetzstein, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab who helped develop the new display technology. The screen cover features a pattern of tiny pinholes that alters the light emanating from the iPod's screen, Wetzstein explained. The technology is similar to what is used to create glasses-free 3D effects, and is based on principles that are nearly 100 years old, Wetzstein said.
How Do Monster Black Holes Form? New Find May Provide 'Missing Link'
Black holes are some of the strangest objects in the universe, and they typically fall into one of two size extremes: "small" ones that are dozens of times more massive than the sun and other "supermassive" black holes that are billions of times larger than our nearest star. A recent discovery of an intermediate-mass black hole in the nearby galaxy Messier 82 (M82) offers the best evidence yet that a class of medium-size black holes exists. The finding may provide a missing link that could explain how supermassive black holes which are found at the centers of most, if not all, galaxies come to be, researchers say. A black hole is a region of space where the gravitational field is so strong that neither matter nor light can escape.
Star Cluster, Nebula Glow Red in Amazing New Photos
The European Southern Observatory released the photo of the star cluster NGC 3603 and NGC 3576 nebula shining in the southern Milky Way today (Aug. 20). While the two cosmic objects are separated by about 10,000 light-years, they appear to glow with similar brightness in the new photo taken by ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The nebula can be seen on the right side of the image, with the NGC 3603 star cluster located about 20,000 light-years from Earth on the left. NGC 3576 is about 9,000 light-years closer to Earth than the star cluster, according to ESO.
'Beam Me to Mars' Lets You Send Martian Messages to Fund Space Exploration
The space-funding company Uwingu launched its "Beam Me to Mars" project today (Aug. 19), inviting people to contribute, for a fee, to a "digital shout-out" that will send messages from Earth to the Red Planet on Nov. 28 the 50th anniversary of Mars exploration. The first successful Mars mission, NASA's Mariner 4, launched on Nov. 28, 1964. "Beam Me to Mars" celebrates that landmark effort in a new and original way, Uwingu representatives said. "We want it to inspire people," said Uwingu CEO Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and former NASA science chief.