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Smooth Sailing for White House Science Office, Ocean Nominees

first_imgAn uneventful hearing this morning for John Holdren, nominated to run the White House science and technology office and Jane Lubchenco, slated to be administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency. Lubchenco said her science priorities include ending overfishing, “getting the satellite program back on track,” and setting up a National Climate Service. Each was also a priority for her predecessor, Conrad Lautenbacher. Holdren made little news, although he announced his intention to fill the four associate director posts that existed during the Clinton Administration before his predecessor, John Marburger, eliminated positions covering the environment, and national security, and international affairs. He also promised to “reinvigorate” the National Science and Technology Council, an interagency coordinating body that he said has “languished” under the Bush Administration.There was a minor skirmish with Senator David Vitter (R–LA) over a series of papers Holdren had written or cowritten, dating back to 1971, making dire projection on environmental issues. In one case, a 26-year-old Holdren wrote that “eco-catastrophe seems almost certain.” Vitter wondered whether the statement was “an irresponsible prediction,” but Holdren parried, suggesting instead that he was simply calling attention to mounting ecological worries. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Who Lubchenco’s boss will be at the Department of Commerce is suddenly in question. In an unexpected development, Commerce secretary nominee Judd Gregg today pulled out of the nomination process citing irreconcilable differences with President Obama.last_img read more

bjrfjbid

Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Flu

first_imgThe novel H1N1 swine flu virus looks like it’s going to hang out in the United States all summer, epidemiologist Dan Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at a press conference today. “Influenza season normally has ended by now, however the novel H1N1 continues in the United States,” said Jernigan. “We’re anticipating that we will see the novel H1N1 continue with activity probably all the way into our flu season in the fall and winter.” CDC testing now shows that 89% of the influenza virus still circulating in the United States is the novel H1N1 strain. Jernigan said the northeastern part of the country continues to see increased numbers of swine flu cases, and it may be related to the cooler climate in that region and influenza’s penchant for lower temperatures. He said in the areas hardest hit by the virus, it appears to infect about 7% of the populations. “Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of cases that have occurred in the U.S.,” he said. The press conference also focused on a study about the virus in healthcare workers coming out tomorrow in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study closely examines 26 of these cases and finds that half likely were acquired in a healthcare setting. “Probably the single most important thing is that infectious patients be identified at the front door,” said Michael Bell, the CDC’s associate director of infection control. He said healthcare workers also have to be reminded to take time off if they have flu-like symptoms. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Many cases of swine flu now are occurring in summer camps, and the CDC has posted on its Web site a “guidance” that describes how best to prevent the spread of the virus in those settings. In particular, any children or staff who develop a case of influenza-like illness before camp starts are asked not to attend for at least seven days after their illness began.last_img read more

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China Cracks Down on Dubious Internet Addiction Therapy

first_imgBEIJING—The Chinese government has banned the controversial application of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for so-called Internet addiction.Although there is no meeting of the minds on whether Internet addiction is a genuine disorder, Chinese researchers have sought to put diagnosis and treatment on a more solid footing. Casting a shadow over legitimate clinical practice and research, a clinic in Shandong Province in eastern China had gained notoriety for applying electric shocks to unanesthetized teenagers whose parents had admitted them to the clinic against their will.In an 8 July policy letter to Shandong’s health department, China’s health ministry ordered Shandong Province to cease such a clinical application of ECT. The ministry explained that it had convened an expert board, which concluded that ECT “does not show any clear safety and validity to treat Internet addiction” because of a “lack of scientific support from clinical studies and evidence-based trials.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The health ministry did not rule out future use of ECT for Internet addiction and left the door open to clinical trials on “associated therapies” as long as such trials are free of charge for subjects and obtain informed consent.last_img read more

jositkoa

Podcast: Vacuum Tubes, Fish Forensics, and the Benefits of Stress

first_imgHow are fish forensics helping to combat illegal fishing? Can stress be good for us? And are vacuum tubes making a comeback? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Kerry Klein. (Listen to the full Science podcast and more podcasts.)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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Journal Apologizes for Retracting XMRV Paper Without Contacting Author

first_imgIn another unusual twist in the tumultuous history of XMRV, the journal PLoS Pathogens has apologized to a corresponding author for retracting the first paper on the virus without contacting him beforehand. In a statement posted on PLoS Blogs on Friday, Editor-in-Chief Kasturi Haldar acknowledged that the 2006 paper should not have been pulled without consulting Robert Silverman of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, one of two corresponding authors. But Haldar defended the editorial decision to retract the paper, which has been the subject of an intense online debate for the past week. PLoS Pathogens retracted the paper, which reported the discovery of XMRV and its putative link to prostate cancer, on 18 September after a new study, co-authored by Silverman and published in PLoS ONE, had shown that the 2006 findings were the result of an accidental lab contamination. Silverman says he was “completely blindsided” by the retraction; he felt a correction would have been enough because the discovery of XMRV as a new virus still stands and other papers have corrected the erroneous link to prostate cancer. PLoS Pathogens says it did notify the other corresponding author, Joseph DeRisi of the University of California, San Francisco—with whom editors had corresponded during the submission and review of the paper — about the impending retraction in a 27 August e-mail; when DeRisi didn’t reply, the editors retracted on their own. Since then, “We have apologized for not contacting the second corresponding author,” Haldar’s statement says. “Our expectation was that the first would discharge responsibilities to all remaining authors. We have since corresponded with all authors.” Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) On Saturday, DeRisi posted a response to the retraction, in which he said he agreed with it. But whether he received the 27 August e-mail, and if so, why he failed to respond or to alert his co-authors, remains unclear. (DeRisi did not respond to multiple emails and voice messages from ScienceInsider.) Silverman says he cannot comment on DeRisi’s inaction; “Suffice it to say we have not been in contact for a long time,” he says. As to the journal’s apology, “I accept it, and I really appreciate it,” he says. Retraction guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) say that editors should negotiate with authors on how to phrase a retraction, but not whether a journal should contact all of the authors, or what it should do when they don’t respond to an e-mail. The XMRV paper may well lead to more specific guidelines in the future, says COPE Chair Virginia Barbour, who’s also PLoS medicine editorial director. Meanwhile, a vigorous debate has erupted on whether the paper by DeRisi and Silverman needed to be retracted in the first place. Readers of PLoS Blogs and the Web site Retraction Watch have argued that there is no need to retract papers with honest mistakes in them, and that the word retraction carries the connotation of scientific misconduct. Haldar stands by the decision to retract, on which “six senior PLoS Pathogens editors unanimously agreed,” given that its key findings were wrong. But in a post following her statement, Barbour acknowledges that there is “a clear need to have a discussion about how to annotate the literature post publication,” and invites readers to chime in. “Specifically, it is clear that somehow ‘retraction’ implies ‘malfeasance’ and although we at PLOS don’t share that view, we understand that it is others’ perception,” Barbour writes.last_img read more

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Satellites Could Predict Hazards of Glacial Lake Outbursts

first_imgA small glacier lake known as Nagma Pokhari sits nestled in a valley near Mount Everest in Nepal, surrounded by steep walls of sediment that hold the icy waters in place. Back in June 1980, one of Nagma Pokhari’s dams failed—and the resulting floodwaters inundated and destroyed farms and houses for more than 70 kilometers downstream.In a warming world, the threat of such “glacial lake outburst floods” is becoming increasingly urgent. As glaciers in most parts of the Himalayas melt, floods caused by the bursting of rapidly expanding glacial lakes pose an increasing risk to mountain communities. Predicting which lakes will burst and how much damage they might cause to downstream settlements is a challenge. But a new study finds that a simple satellite index based on the surrounding topography can provide a way to identify which lakes are most at risk of causing a damaging flood to those communities.“There is an urgent need for a reliable way to target potentially dangerous lakes,” says Pradeep Mool, a remote-sensing expert at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)There are ways to monitor when the dam of a glacial lake might break: Scientists track the lake’s depth, the geological composition and geometry of its dam, and other factors, such as melting rate and steepness of adjacent glaciers. But with more than 20,000 glacier lakes in the Himalayas, most in remote areas and difficult to access, “it’s impossible to manually monitor them all,” says Koji Fujita, a glaciologist at Nagoya University in Japan, who has been working in Nepal and Bhutan for decades.Another way to assess a lake’s overall danger to downslope communities is to estimate how much floodwater might pour out of it, should a dam burst, Fujita says. He and colleagues thought that the answer to the floodwater question might also lie in the lakes’ moraines—piles of sediments bulldozed by glaciers into high ridges that act as dams. Using now-declassified data from a 1970s- to 1980s-era U.S. spy satellite called Hexagon KH-9, the team estimated changes in the elevations of five moraine dams of lakes that have burst between 1984 and 1994.In all five cases, the moraine dam was flushed out and lowered by the outburst of water, the team found, and the dam’s slope continued to decrease during the flood. The process continued until the slope was about 10o, which the researchers suspect might be a critical threshold for a flood to end, they report in a study in press in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences. Changes in the slope of moraine dams are thus “one of the most important parameters when deciding which lakes are dangerous,” Fujita says.Using a modern version of the Hexagon satellite called the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), the team screened 2276 large glacial lakes in the Himalayas and found that 49 of them have potential flood volumes of over 10 million cubic meters, which are generally considered to be major floods. Most of these lakes are in the eastern Himalayas, where glacier lakes are expanding more rapidly than those in other parts of the mountain range mostly due to rising temperatures and decreasing snowfall during the summer monsoon as a result of climate change.The technique, Fujita says, could be used in the initial screening of thousands of large glacial lakes in the Himalayas and continuous monitoring of topographical changes around the lakes as they expand and new moraine dams develop.“It’s a valuable study with important implications for assessing potential hazards of glacial lakes,” says Tobias Bolch, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. This is the first time that a satellite index is verified by past glacier lake floods, he says. Bolch stresses, however, that elevation estimates from either Hexagon or ASTER are “notoriously tricky” and, therefore, should be confirmed with field investigations.The new satellite index provides an additional criterion for assessing risks of glacier lake floods, Mool says. Fujita’s list of dangerous glacial lakes, however, is quite different from the one made by ICIMOD in 2001. For instance, 23 of the 44 dangerous lakes identified by ICIMOD do not have steep moraine dams, and only five of them have a potential flood volume over 10 million cubic meters.Mool says that ICIMOD took a more integrated, albeit qualitative, approach while making its assessment—taking into account factors such as the distance between the lake and the glacier, the stability of moraine dams, potential landslides, and downstream population and infrastructure. “It’s good to have a quantitative measure,” he says. “But glacier environment is very complicated and no single index is enough.”last_img read more

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Video: Spring-loaded jaws rocket ants to safety

first_imgThe spring-loaded mouth of the trap-jaw ant (genus Odontomachus) is one of the fastest moving body parts in all the animal kingdom. The insects use them to protect their nests, spreading their mandibles apart and then snapping them together at speeds up to 230 km per hour and hurling invading species into the air. Now, researchers report that the ants can also use their jaws to hurl themselves into the air to escape predators, giving them a significantly better chance for survival. The team placed single trap-jaw ants into plastic cups filled with 4 cm of sand and a 1-cm-long burrowing insect with large jaws—known as an antlion—at the bottom. During their larval stage, the antlions burrow in fine sand, forming a pit above them. The steep and unstable walls of the pit can prove challenging to climb for unfortunate ants who venture too close—a problem compounded by the fact that the antlion will throw sand at their prey before pulling them beneath the surface. As seen in the video above, many ants did execute successful jumps by striking their jaws against the ground and blasting themselves into the air before being captured by the antlions. Out of 117 trials, the trap-jaw ants jumped their way to safety about 15% of the time and doubled their odds of survival by doing so, the team reports today in PLOS ONE. Not all jumps resulted in escape; some propelled the ant farther down the pit to their demise. For the ants, it seems, the best defense started out as a good offense.(Video credit: Larabee FJ, Suarez AV (2015) Mandible-Powered Escape Jumps in Trap-Jaw Ants Increase Survival Rates during Predator-Prey Encounters. PLOS ONE 10(5): e0124871)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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Video: Parrots are only animal besides humans to use a grinding tool

first_imgOf the more than 300 parrot species, only four have been seen using tools. In the wild, hyacinth macaws break open nuts with leaves and sticks, and black palm cockatoos drum on trees with rocks and empty nut shells. And in captive laboratory settings, keas use sticks to rake in nuts that are out of reach, and Goffin’s cockatoos do the same with wood tools they manufacture. Now, researchers have added another species to this short list: the greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) of Madagascar. The scientists made their discovery while video recording the behaviors of 10 of the birds housed together in an aviary at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom. From March to mid-April 2013, prior to the breeding season, five of the birds occasionally picked up pebbles or date pits from the floor of the enclosure and used these to scrape inside cockle shells, or to break off bits of the shells. The shells are part of a mix of soil, wood chips, and pebbles, and are there as a source of calcium for the birds. By grinding the pebbles or pits inside the shells (as shown in the video), the birds made a calcium powder—the first time that any animal, other than humans, has been seen using a grinding tool, the scientists report online today in Biology Letters. The parrots ate the calcium powder and the bits they broke off the shells. Many female songbirds consume calcium from shells before the breeding season, because they cannot store the chemical in their skeletons but need it to produce eggs. But four of the five greater vasa parrots that used the tools and ingested the calcium were males. The scientists suspect that because these male parrots regurgitate food to feed the females during courtship, copulation, and incubation, they may be providing the calcium to their mates indirectly. Chickens are known to better retain calcium if it’s given to them either ground or as small particles, so it may be that the male greater vasa parrots are grinding and breaking the seashells to also provide their females with high-quality calcium.(Video credit: Megan Lambert)Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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Japan loses contact with its new x-ray space observatory

first_imgFor the time being, says Andrew Fabian of the Institute of Astronomy at the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge, chairperson of Hitomi’s science working group, reports that the satellite is permanently lost are “groundless speculation.”X-ray astronomers were eagerly awaiting observations from Hitomi, because it is the first major x-ray observatory launched since 1999. An earlier attempt by Japan to launch such a spacecraft failed in 2000 and a 2005 follow-up lost a key instrument after a few weeks because of technical failure. Hitomi also carries a soft x-ray spectrometer that has 30 times the resolution of previous instruments and is expected to revolutionize the field. X-ray astronomer Ken Pounds of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom says “if lost it would be a tragedy for our Japanese colleagues and a significant disappointment for U.S. collaborators working on the microcalorimeter.” Japan’s space agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is desperately trying to re-establish communications with its recently launched Hitomi x-ray observatory (formerly known as ASTRO-H) following a loss of contact on 26 March. Hitomi is a groundbreaking telescope that will be able to image emissions from black holes, the swirl of hot gas in galaxy clusters, and supernova remnants through high-energy photons—including x-rays and gamma rays—with unprecedented accuracy. It was launched 17 February and was still being commissioned, but at the start of operations on Saturday it failed to respond as normal.   The U.S.-based Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), which tracks orbiting objects with radar, reported on 27 March seeing five separate objects at Hitomi’s location. But JAXA spokesperson Azusa Yabe says that the agency had received short signals from Hitomi after JSpOC reported its possible breakup.Ground-based amateur satellite watchers also reported seeing Hitomi in a slow spin. Chisato Ikuta, deputy director of Institute of Space and Astronautical Science/JAXA’s press office in Kanagawa, says “these may help us to understand the status of Hitomi. However, we still do not know the present status of Hitomi, because we have not communicated with the satellite yet.” Yabe adds that as long as the spacecraft’s solar array is getting enough power, Hitomi should be able to communicate with Earth even if spinning. “We are still trying to recover communication with ‘Hitomi,’ and trying to find out the status and causes of this communication failure,” Yabe says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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Rover reveals puzzling sand dunes on Mars

first_img NASA (3)/(DIAGRAM) C. BICKEL/SCIENCE The Martian was only a movie, but the blowing sand that drove the plot really does influence Mars today—and is now a source of intrigue for scientists studying the planet. Investigators with NASA’s Curiosity rover are exploring the planet’s dark sand dunes and have discovered structures thought to be unlike any on Earth: ripples spaced about 3 meters apart, intermediate in size between the little ripples and big dunes found on both planets. Scientists aren’t sure how they form, but they think the density of the thin martian atmosphere plays a role in shaping them.“Something in the martian environment is begging for these to form,” says Lori Fenton, a planetary scientist who studies dunes at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and who wasn’t involved in the research. Even before scientists can puzzle out what that is, they hope to use fossilized ripples in rocks that hardened from ancient dunes to glean clues about the thicker atmosphere of early Mars, according to Mathieu Lapotre, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, who presented the work here last week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC).Researchers had seen the large ripples in pictures taken from orbit, “but nobody thought hard enough” about them, Fenton says. In the end it took up-close observations by Curiosity, which is exploring Gale Crater. When the rover neared dark, billowy dunes girding the mountain that it aims to climb, some researchers on the rover’s science team considered them a potentially hazardous obstacle. But others saw an opportunity. “We have not visited an active sand dune field on another planet,” says Bethany Ehlmann, a participating scientist on the rover team at Caltech. “I don’t think it’s conscionable to be 100 meters away and drive by without stopping to take a look.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)So Ehlmann and others pushed for a campaign of pictures, wind measurements, and chemical analyses over several weeks in December 2015 and January (see map, below). The scientists presented their initial results at the LPSC: images of 5-meter-tall dunes that would not look out of place in Namibia. Imprinted on top of the large dunes were typically tiny ripples and the mysterious, larger ones. Other scientists on the Curiosity team are studying the size, chemistry, and color of martian dune sand. On Earth, dunes consist mainly of quartz grains, eroded from the granite that makes up much of the 
continental crust. On Mars, by contrast, dunes are made up mostly of dark, dense minerals like olivine, from volcanic basalt. The dunes get darker with time as finer dust, which contains lighter-colored feldspar minerals, blows away. Ehlmann says studying how the martian wind sorts grains by size and composition will help researchers understand other changes that occur as the sediment turns into stone.But at the LPSC, scientists were most excited by the discovery of the large ripples. In addition to spotting them in the Curiosity images, Lapotre and his colleagues have identified them at dozens of sites all over the planet in images taken from orbit. They found that at higher elevations, where the atmosphere is thinner, the ripples are farther apart. If these ripples can be found in old rocks, Radebaugh says, “you can get a good sense of what the paleoatmosphere was like.”If the large ripples are forming because of atmospheric influences rather than the impact mechanics of hopping sand grains, then, technically, they would be dunes rather than ripples. Lapotre says they seem to be similar to dunes found in riverbeds on Earth. Just as waves on the water’s surface shape the bottom, invisible “boundary layers” in the atmosphere may sculpt ripples on the surface of Mars.Not everyone is convinced that the ripples are a new type of dune. “They could just be big ripples” left over from a windier martian past, says Ralph Lorenz, an APL planetary scientist. But Fenton says Lapotre and colleagues have spotted slip faces—signs of miniavalanches—on the lee sides of some of them. Larger dunes share such slumping features, but small ripples lack them. The new-dune scenario is “plausible,” she says. “I’m happy that somebody has put forward an explanation, because it has bugged me.” On terrestrial beaches and deserts, small sand ripples form centimeters apart. They take shape when wind-borne sand grains hop and strike sand downwind, scattering yet more grains. Once a ripple begins to form, it protects sand on its downwind slope from being dislodged by further impacts. Meanwhile, scattered sand continues to be deposited on the upwind side of the ripple. Larger dunes, which can sit hundreds of meters apart, grow through a different process involving the aerodynamics of the atmosphere. As wind approaches a pile of sand, its streamlines are compressed, whipping up speeds and piling up more sand toward the crest. Eventually, the leading edge becomes too steep and collapses, allowing a new crest to form and the dune to inch along.In the solar system, dunes are found on Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, and perhaps even Pluto. Planetary scientists study them from orbit to infer wind directions—like a “free wind sock,” says Jani Radebaugh, who studies Titan’s dunes at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. They can also use them to infer wind speed. From theoretical models and wind tunnel tests using crushed walnut shells to mimic sand blowing in Mars’s weak gravity, researchers have estimated that wind speeds need to reach about 15 to 20 meters a second for martian dunes to form. Researchers hope to check those numbers by studying a handful of Curiosity’s images of moving dunes snapped on days when the rover also took wind measurements, says Nathan Bridges, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. Since landing in 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover has trundled toward its mountain target, Aeolis Mons (also called Mount Sharp), but it must cross potentially hazardous sand dunes.last_img read more