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Woman Dies of Superbug Resistant to All Antibiotics

15 January 2017 - 10:11am
Helen Branswell, Stat
If it sometimes seems like the idea of antibiotic resistance, though unsettling, is more theoretical than real, please read on.Public health officials from Nevada are reporting on a case of a woman who died in Reno in September from an incurable infection. Testing showed the superbug that had spread throughout her system could fend off 26 different antibiotics.
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An Explanation for the "Alien Megastructure" Star

15 January 2017 - 10:11am
Matt Williams, Universe Today
Back in October of 2015, astronomers shook the world when they reported how the Kepler mission had noticed a strange and sudden drop in brightness coming from KIC 8462852 (aka. Tabby's Star). This was followed by additional studies that showed how the star appeared to be consistently dimming over time. All of this led to a flurry of speculation, with possibilities ranging from large asteroids and a debris disc to an alien megastructure.
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Why Are Humans So Much Smarter?

15 January 2017 - 10:11am
Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Air & Space Magazine
At a symposium on Expanding Views on the Emergence of the Biosphere, held in Tokyo this week, British paleontologist Simon Conway Morris gave a talk on the connection between animals' mental abilities and possible intelligent extraterrestrial life. Based on the abstract of his talk, I wish I'd been there, because he raises some provocative points.
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Why Peter Thiel Fears Star Trek

15 January 2017 - 10:10am
Manu Saadia, The New Yorker
A spectre haunts Peter Thiel: the spectre of Star Trek. Earlier this week, in a cheeky exchange with the Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Thiel dove headlong into one of science fiction's most venerable debates. Asked by Dowd whether he was a bigger fan of Star Wars or Star Trek, Thiel replied that, as a capitalist, he preferred the former.
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The Speed of Universe Expansion Still Eludes Us

13 January 2017 - 5:30am
Ethan Siegel, SWaB!

Once we discovered that the Universe was expanding, the next scientific step was to determine what the rate of expansion was. Despite the fact that it's been more than 80 years, we still don't have agreement on how fast that rate actually is. By looking at the largest cosmic scales and the oldest signals -- the leftover radiation from the Big Bang and the largest-scale galaxy correlations -- we get one number for the rate: 67 km/s/Mpc. But if we look at individual stars, galaxies, supernovae and other direct indicators, we get another number: 74 km/s/Mpc. The uncertainties are very small: 1...
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The Challenges of Transmitting Power Over Long Distances

13 January 2017 - 5:20am
The Economist
THE winds of the Oklahoma panhandle have a bad reputation. In the 1930s they whipped its over-tilled topsoil up into the billowing black blizzards of the Dust Bowl. The winds drove people, Steinbeck's dispossessed, away from their livelihoods and west, to California.Today, the panhandle's steady winds are a force for creation, not destruction. Wind turbines can generate electricity from them at rock-bottom prices. Unfortunately, the local electrical grid does not serve enough people to match this potential supply. The towns and cities which could use it are far away.
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CVS Unveils Low-Cost EpiPen Alternative

13 January 2017 - 5:17am
Beth Mole, Ars Technica

Pharmaceutical giant CVS announced Thursday that it has partnered with Impax Laboratories to sell a generic epinephrine auto-injector for $109.99 for a two-packa dramatic cut from Mylan's Epipen two-pack prices, which list for more than $600 as a brand name and $300 as a generic.The lower-cost auto-injector, a generic form of Adrenaclick, is available starting today nationwide in the company's more than 9,600 pharmacies. Its price resembles that of EpiPen's before Mylan bought the rights to the life-saving devices back in 2007 and raised the price repeatedly, sparking outcry.
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Did Life on Earth Start Soon After the Planet Formed?

13 January 2017 - 4:49am
Daily Galaxy
Twenty years ago, this would have been heretical; finding evidence of life 3.8 billion years ago was shocking, said Mark Harrison, co-author of the research and a professor of geochemistry at UCLA. Life on Earth may have started almost instantaneously, added co-author Harrison, a member of the National Academy of Sciences. With the right ingredients, life seems to form very quickly.The research suggests life in the universe could be abundant, Harrison said. On Earth, simple life appears to have formed quickly, but it likely took many millions of years for very simple life to...
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Collapsing Gas Clouds Created Enormous Black Holes?

13 January 2017 - 4:45am
Joshua Sokol, SM
Here's a thought experiment that has unsettled astrophysicists: Start the clock at the beginning of time. Form a black hole in the usual way, through the collapse of a massive star. To make it grow, force-feed it with gas, which will resist being devoured by heating up and dispersing as it nears the black hole's maw. Try to grow a black hole fast enough to explain the ones that existed in the real universe when it was just a billion years old: monsters a billion times the mass of the sun that drive the powerful beacons called quasars.
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How Bacterial Biofilm Regulates Multiple Species

13 January 2017 - 4:39am
Amy Middleton, CM

Think bacteria aren't sophisticated? Think again. New research shows these microorganisms can send messages to potential new recruits in an effort to strengthen their communities known as biofilms.These signals from within the biofilm can influence the behaviour of nearby bacteria even those of different species recruiting them to come and join the ranks.We've discovered that bacterial biofilm communities can actively modulate the motile behaviour of diverse bacterial species through electrical signals, says University of California, San Diego molecular biologist Grol...
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Specialized Neurons Control Bat Navigation

13 January 2017 - 4:31am
Alison Abbott, Nature News
Bats have brain cells that keep track of their angle and distance to a target, researchers have discovered. The neurons, called vector cells', are a key piece of the mammalian's brain complex navigation system and something that neuroscientists have been seeking for years.Our brain's navigation system has many types of cells, but a lot of them seem designed to keep track of where we are. Researchers know of place' cells, for example, which fire when animals are in a particular location, and head direction' cells that fire in response to changes in the direction the head is...
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