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Science News
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Exclusive: First gene therapy drug sets million-euro price record

An operator installs a chromatography column to purify the gene therapy drug Glybera at Dutch biotech company uniQure in AmsterdamBy Ludwig Burger and Ben Hirschler FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) - The Western world's first gene therapy drug is set to go on sale in Germany with a 1.1 million euro ($1.4 million) price tag, a new record for a medicine to treat a rare disease. The sky-high cost of Glybera, from Dutch biotech firm UniQure and its unlisted Italian marketing partner Chiesi, shows how single curative therapies to fix faulty genes may upend the conventional pharmaceutical business model. ...

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:52:59 -0500
Europe's space-based, laser-powered data highway passes early test

By Maria Sheahan FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A European satellite beamed images to earth using new laser-based communications technology on Friday, opening the way for uninterrupted and near instantaneous viewing of natural disasters being sent to governments and relief agencies. The images were a test of a 450 million euro ($562 million) space data highway being constructed. Called European Data Relay Satellite (EDRS), it will allow faster and more secure transmission of large amounts of data, such as pictures and radar images, to and from earth. ...

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:56:50 -0500
Earthlings to send 90,000 hellos to Mars

90,000 Messages Will Be Beamed to Mars FridayBy Irene Klotz (Reuters) - Radio telescopes on Earth will beam 90,000 messages to Mars on Friday to commemorate the launch 50 years ago of the first robotic probe to visit the planet. A U.S. space funding company called Uwingu organized the extraterrestrial shout-out to mark the 50th anniversary of NASAs Mariner 4 mission and to raise funds for its other projects. Uwingus Beam Me To Mars initiative invited interested participants to send digital radio-wave transmissions of their names, messages and pictures to Mars for fees ranging from $5 to $99. ...

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:48:02 -0500
Ultra-strong graphene's weak spot could be key to fuel cells

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - In a discovery that experts say could revolutionize fuel cell technology, scientists in Britain have found that graphene, the world's thinnest, strongest and most impermeable material, can allow protons to pass through it. The researchers, led by the Nobel prize winner and discoverer of graphene Andre Geim of Manchester University, said their finding also raised the possibility that, in future, graphene membranes could be used to "sieve" hydrogen gas from the atmosphere to then generate electricity. ...

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:18:24 -0500
Gut check: how vultures dine on rotting flesh, and like it

File of vultures feasting on a road kill as commuters pass by real estate for sale in Great FallsBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They snack on danger and dine on death, merrily munching on rotting flesh that would certainly sicken or kill any person and most other animals. But how do vultures do it? These feathery scavengers have one of the toughest guts on the planet, that is how. Scientists said on Tuesday that their analysis of two species of North American vultures showed that the birds possess a ferociously acidic digestive system and intestines loaded with two fiendish kinds of bacteria. ...

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 07:50:58 -0500
Beer-Bottle Physics Could Help Explain Deadly Eruptions

The science of a bar prank that causes beer bottles to overflow with foam could help explain lethal eruptions of gases, researchers say. A better understanding of this effect could also help researchers to model what could happen if carbon dioxide is accidentally released from containment systems that are designed to keep the global-warming gas from escaping into the atmosphere, scientists added. The prank known as "beer tapping" involves hitting the top of a newly opened beer bottle. One of us did the trick, and we started to figure out possible explanations," said lead study author Javier Rodrguez-Rodrguez, a fluid mechanician at Carlos III University of Madrid in Spain.

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:36:12 -0500
Does Intermittent Fasting Have Benefits? Science Suggests Yes

Instead of eating three square meals a day, an eating schedule that involves "intermittent fasting" could help fight not just obesity but many related diseases of modern life, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's, researchers say. In fact, the most common eating pattern in modern societies of three meals daily, plus snacks, is abnormal from the perspective of human evolution, an international group of researchers wrote in an article published online Nov. 17 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More and more research shows that intermittent fasting could have benefits, they said. "Fasting alone is more powerful in preventing and reversing some diseases than drugs," said Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor of regulatory biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, and one of the co-authors of the article.

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 12:34:53 -0500
Workers at Biblical Copper Mines Ate Quite Well

Workers at Biblical Copper Mines Ate Quite WellMetalworkers who did skilled labor at biblical-era copper mines in modern-day Israel were rewarded for their efforts with well-rounded meals, new research suggests. The metalworkers' diet included good cuts of sheep and goat, as well as pistachios, grapes and fish brought to the middle of the desert from the Mediterranean, according to an analysis of ancient leftovers at "Slaves' Hill," a mining camp in Israel's Timna Valley. "Somebody took care that these people were eating well," said Erez Ben-Yosef, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University.

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:27:05 -0500
Find Cool, Red Stars in the Night Sky This Thanksgiving

Find Cool, Red Stars in the Night Sky This ThanksgivingOther old cool stars, like Betelgeuse in the upper-left corner of Orion, are noticeably orange or red. So, while it might seem counterintuitive at first, red stars are actually relatively cooler, and blue stars are incredibly hot. The major exception is Betelgeuse, a very old star classified as a red supergiant. As a result, Betelgeuse has very low density and a very tenuous atmosphere.

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 07:21:07 -0500
Sesame Street Muppets Counting Down to NASA Orion Launch

Sesame Street Muppets Counting Down to NASA Orion LaunchElmo, Cookie Monster and the other popular muppets from "Sesame Street" have joined forces with NASA to count down to the launch of the first Orion spacecraft, scheduled for Dec. 4. Beginning Tuesday (Nov. 25) and over the next ten days, NASA and "Sesame Street" will share online comic strips, videos and graphics of the Muppet characters interacting with the Orion space capsule in an effort to educate a new generation of space explorers about the Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) and NASA's future journey to Mars. "9 days to go before NASA's Orion launch!" wrote Sesame Street on Twitter on Tuesday, captioning a cartoon of The Count counting heat shield tiles. The muppet-led Orion countdown is part of a collaboration between NASA and the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the television show.

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:09:00 -0500
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