Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 10
 on: Today at 05:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Animals line up for their annual weigh-in at London Zoo - video


The animals at ZSL London Zoo stepped onto the scales on Wednesday for their annual weigh-in. With more than 17,000 animals in the city’s zoo the task is a way of keeping track of every animal’s health and wellbeing. With different behaviours, personalities and traits to take into consideration, zookeepers use tactics to entice the animals to stand up and be measured; using targets to guide the emperor tamarins on to their scales and tempting penguins with fish

Click to watch:
<iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 on: Today at 05:26 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
National Dog Day: readers' pictures


To celebrate how much we love dogs here is a selection of the best photos sent in by you

• You can see more photos - or add your own - on GuardianWitness:

Click to see all these incredible pictures:

 on: Today at 05:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Freeze, it's the police! Lost penguin tries to evade capture – video


A lost Humboldt penguin wandering the busy streets of Nuevo Chimbote, a town in northern Peru, is rescued by police on Saturday night. In a bid to evade capture, the penguin, nicknamed Pingui, gives officers the runaround – and a few pecks – but eventually comes quietly. At the station, it was given a hearty fish supper before being taken to a penguin habitat to recover

Click to watch:
<iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 on: Today at 05:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Panda cub dies despite Washington zoo's efforts to save it

Smaller of two cubs born to Mei Xiang had been bottle- and tube-fed
Surviving cub appears strong and behaving normally

Guardian staff and agencies
Wednesday 26 August 2015 20.36 BST

One of two panda cubs born last weekend at Washington’s National Zoo has died, zoo officials said.

Animal keepers on Tuesday stepped in to give extra care to the smaller of the newborn cubs after mom Mei Xiang began to focus her attention on the larger of the twins. Keepers tried bottle- and tube-feeding the smaller cub when Mei Xiang began to refuse it care.

The zoo said the remaining cub appears to be strong and behaving normally.

The smaller cub weighed 86 grams (3 ounces) at birth, and the larger cub weighed 138 grams. According to the zoo, bear cubs have the smallest infant-to-mother size ratio of any placental mammals at about 1 to 700. Panda mother Mei Xiang currently weighs about 238lb (108kg).

If both cubs had survived, they would have been the 17-year-old panda’s third and fourth surviving offspring.

This isn’t the first time that Mei Xiang has lost a cub. A stillborn cub was born in 2013. And in 2012, Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub that died after just six days. She has two other surviving cubs born in 2005 and 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

 on: Today at 05:14 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Stem cells survive simulated return to Earth on space capsule

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit
Aug 27 2015

Even though the prototype capsule carrying them experienced problems with its attempted simulated landing, a cargo of adult stem cells survived a fall back to Earth during a drop test designed as part of an initiative to study how space affects the biological units.

According to, the capsule being used to transport the stem cells experienced issues related to the deployment of its parachute during the simulating landing. The cause of the failure is being investigated, but officials said that it is not related to the design of the parachute.

The RED-4U capsule was created by Atlanta-based Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) to fly to the International Space Station and return science experiments to Earth, Dominic DePasquale, the company’s CEO, explained to the website on Tuesday. As part of this latest experiment, it had been carrying a cargo of adult stem cells provided by the Mayo Clinic.

Stem cells may grow more quickly in space

Those stem cells, which are capable of developing into any type of cell, are reportedly “thriving” despite the parachute deployment problem, said. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) gave the clinic a $30,000 grant to develop new techniques for growing stem cells in space, but thus far, no launch date has been announced.

DePasquale told that there is “evidence... from prior testing” that stem cells “will grow up to 10 times faster in space and have higher purity and other advantages as well.” The goal of this latest TVA flight test, which was funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, was to demonstrate low-cost communications array and electronics systems.

While the current test involved a balloon from Near Space Corp., which carried the RED-4U capsule to a height of about 20 miles (32 kilometers) before descending on a simulated return-from-space trajectory, TVA plans to fly the capsule into space in the near future. The next step involves ground testing and an additional round of parachute trials, said.

TVA, which was founded in 2012, is also testing a new flight protocol technology which allows airplanes to receive “situational awareness” about other flights. This system is known as ADS-B, and DePasqaule said that it will minimize the need for ground support tracing. It will be used by the Federal Aviation Administration to supplement and possibly replace traditional radar.

 on: Today at 05:12 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
August 26, 2015

US scientists may have just discovered a cancer cell’s ‘off’ switch

by Brett Smith
Red Orbit

Cancer cells are essentially normal cells that grow abnormally, and a team of scientists from the Mayo Clinic has found a way to reprogram cancer cells so they revert back to standard, healthy cells – according to a new report in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

In the study, researchers showed that aggressive breast, lung, and bladder cancer cells can revert to healthy benign cells by rebuilding the function keeping them from thriving excessively and building damaging growths.

Most cells in your body are gradually substituted with new cells through the course of cell division. During this complicated sequence, hundreds of factors must be set up correctly. When they do, the last step is to tell the cell to stop splitting. In cancer cells, the last step is skipped, resulting in a tumor.

Mayo Clinic scientists discovered that the last step is controlled by biological processors known as microRNAs. These tell the cell to make a protein known as PLEKHA7 which, in just the correct amount, prevents cell division.

“This is an unexpected finding,” Chris Bakal, a specialist at the Institute for Cancer Research in London, recently told The Telegraph. “Normal cells touch each other and form junctions, then they shut down proliferation. If there is a way to turn that [process] back on, it would be a way to stop tumors from growing.”

Thus far it has only been screened on human cells in the lab, but the scientists are optimistic that the process could eventually be utilized to aim for tumors so that cancer might be “switched off” without resorting to harsh chemotherapy or surgery.

 on: Today at 05:10 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
August 26, 2015

Are private space stations, companies on Mars in our future?

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

Space travel is one of those rare endeavors where people from all over the world seem to join together without thought of individual accolades or personal gain of any sort. But could that all be about to change?

On Monday, ran a pair of related stories, one of which suggested that there was a “strong” possibility that the first commercial space stations will be built within the next decade, and another indicating that officials with the Mars One project are attempting to solicit funding from billionaires, possibly in exchange for naming rights to the proposed colony.

As the website explained, the transition over to commercial space stations is one that is being directly overseen by NASA, as the US space agency looks to transition away from government operated facilities such as the International Space Station in the future. Instead of building new orbiting bases after the ISS is retired in 2024, it is turning to the private sector to do so.

Commercial firms are already using the space station for experiments, research, and to launch tiny probes known as cubesats, and once private industry begins creating platforms for additional types of activities, NASA will completely offload those tasks to third parties, the agency said. It has no plans to become “an anchor tenant” to a commercial space station, said.

Mars One mission counting on billionaire benefactor?

Meanwhile, a separate story published by the website explained that the Netherlands-based Mars One project is looking for some financial assistance as it tries to establish a permanent colony on the Red Planet. As such, it is hoping to hear from a wealthy investor interested in sponsoring the nonprofit’s endeavors by contributing in exchange for naming rights to the settlement.

Mars One “is so ambitious and – I think 'crazy' is the right word – that we might actually get a phone call from a billionaire who says, 'I want to make this happen,” co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp told “I want the first city on Mars to be called Gatesville or Slim City,” a reference to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu.

Lansdorp made those comments earlier this month at the 18th annual International MarsSociety Convention in Washington DC. The organization’s plans, starting with the launching of a lander and an orbiting communications satellite in 2020 and culminating with a manned mission to set up the colony in 2027, will cost an estimated $6 billion – possibly even more, experts argue.

Furthermore, the long-term goal is to launch new four-person crews to Mars every two years to build up the extraterrestrial settlement, at an estimated cost of about $4 billion per voyage to the Red Planet. Add in inflation, and MIT graduate students Andrew Owen and Sydney Do said that they believed that the costs would become unsustainable over time.

To help cover the cost of the mission, Lansdorp has floated the idea of recruiting a billionaire to contribute to the campaign. While he emphasized that Mars One isn’t simply waiting around for a white knight with a blank check to show up, he told that it would be a “positive surprise” to have a benefactor sponsoring the project.

 on: Today at 05:08 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
August 26, 2015

Mutilated toucan gets 3D-printed prosthetic beak

by Brett Smith
Red Orbit

For the first time ever, scientists have successfully used 3-D printing technology to replace the upper part of a toucan’s beak, which had broken off while she was being smuggled.

After being rescued from a Brazilian wildlife fair in Rio de Janeiro, the female toucan, named Tieta, was eventually fitted with a plastic prosthetic, which was coated with nail polish and sealed with a castor-oil polymer.

Taciana Sherlock from the Brazilian wild animal control organization, Ibama, said when the toucan was recovered in March, it was undernourished and missing part of its beak. Sherlock said just before the surgery, Tieta was making use of the lower part of the beak to toss food into the air and attempt to grab it, being successful just once in every three tries.

Prosthetic designer Gustavo Cleinman, from Rio de Janeiro's Federal University, said the biggest challenge in designing tieta’s beak was to creating a light and resilient form. To do so, Cleinman modeled his prosthesis on the beak of a dead animal.

One thankful, happy toucan

Roched Seba, a director at the surgery-coordinating Instituto Vida Livre, told BBC News it took three days for the bird to realize its entire beak was back.

"We were feeding her fruit and she was ignoring the new beak. But when we gave her live animals, like maggots and cockroaches, she ate normally immediately,” Seba said. "I believe she had that kind of food when she was free, before losing the beak. So it activated a core memory."

The Brazilian team said the prosthesis will allow Tieta to eat by herself and access glands that help keep her body feathers waterproof. The bird will also be able to feed any chicks she might have in the future.

Sherlock said Tieta will not be released into the wild. "She wouldn't be able to live an independent life, even in captivity," Sherlock said.

Ibama said it wants to send Tieta to an academic zoo to produce awareness around animal trafficking, but the Brazilian organization has yet to settle on one. Wherever Tieta is sent, she will be joined by a male toucan, also rescued from animal smugglers and sent to Ibama.

The scientists hope Tieta and the male toucan will ultimately mate, with their chicks potentially being released into the wild.

 on: Today at 05:06 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
August 26, 2015

Colliding satellites formed Saturn’s craziest ring

by Shayne Jacopian
Red Orbit

Scientists at Kobe University in Japan may have found what caused at least one of Saturn’s rings to come into being.

Research published in the journal Nature Geoscience reveals that Saturn’s F Ring, the outermost and thinnest of the planet’s several rings, is most likely the result of a collision of two small satellites occurring during the last stage of the planet’s satellite formation, CNET reports.

Professor Ohtsuki Keiji and doctoral student Hyodo Ryuki explain that Saturn’s rings used to be made up of much smaller particles in a far greater quantity. Over time, they began to accrete and form larger pieces of rock near the outer edges of the rings.

The researchers discovered that the F Ring was created when two large satellites at the outer edge of the planet’s rings collided, with debris creating the thin and sparse outermost ring and the dense cores of the satellites forming the moons Prometheus and Pandora.

"Through this study, we were able to show that the current rings of Saturn reflect the formation and evolution processes of the planet's satellite system," Ryuki said.

"As plans are underway in and outside of Japan to explore the satellite system of Jupiter and the satellites of Mars, we will continue to unravel the origin of satellite systems, which is key to understanding the formation process of planetary systems," Keiji added.

 on: Today at 05:05 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
August 26, 2015

Bees fitted with tiny Intel backpacks fight population collapse

by Eric Hopton
Red Orbit

Aussie bees are getting their own mini, custom-built version of black box flight recorders, fitted in tiny backpacks. The high-tech insects are leading the fight to save the world’s honey bees from “colony collapse disorder” (CCD). When CCD hits, a healthy hive can become nothing more than a bee graveyard within a day.

It’s a buzz – thousands of Intel chipped honey hunters

To understand this bee problem we need data, and advanced micro-technology is being deployed in the search in the form of tiny bee backpacks loaded with mini sensors.

Down in Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is leading the Global Initiative for Honey bee Health, an international collaboration of researchers, beekeepers, farmers, industry, and technology companies.

The CSIRO researchers are manually fitting micro-sensors to thousands of bees. The sensors are like a vehicle e-tag system, with strategically placed receivers identifying individual bees and recording their movements in and around their hives.

“The tiny technology allows researchers to analyze the effects of stress factors including disease, pesticides, air pollution, water contamination, diet and extreme weather on the movements of bees and their ability to pollinate. We’re also investigating what key factors, or combination of factors, lead to bee deaths on mass,” said Professor Paulo de Souza, CSIRO Science Leader.

Intel has provided its Edison wearables computing platform to CSIRO. According to ZDNet, the sensor/receiver system uses an Intel Atom processor with 1GB of memory, 5GB of storage, dual-band wireless Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The expensive kit has already been fitted to 10,000 bees along with receivers in the hives.

According to the BBC, the tiny sensors weigh just 5.4 milligrams and use a vibration-charged battery. They record a bee’s time away from the hive, the distance it travels, and exposure to pesticides, air pollution and water contamination. They also capture data on diet and weather.

Changes in bee behavior can indicate stress factors or environmental changes. “By modeling bee movement researchers can help identify the causes of stress in order to protect the important pollinating work honey bees do and identify any disease or other biosecurity risks,” CSIRO said.

Keeping the “destructor” at bay

Australia is ideal for this study. So far, it is the only country to escape the ravages of the predatory Varroa “destructor” mite, which has wiped out bee colonies around the planet.

“This puts Australia in a good position to act as a control group for research on this major issue that could one day become our problem too,” said Dr. Cunningham, CSIRO Pollination Researcher.

Australia may be Varroa-free for now, but any invasion would be catastrophic. The country’s horticulture and agricultural industries rely mainly on un-managed feral honey bees for much of their crop pollination.

“Our managed bee pollination services would be hard-pressed to meet the extra demand required to replace the key role un-managed honey bees play so, the outcome would likely be a drop in crop production and a rise in prices of popular food staples like fruit and veggies,” Dr. Cunningham said.

“The time is now for a tightly-focused, well-coordinated national and international effort, using the same shared technology and research protocols, to help solve the problems facing honey bees worldwide before it is too late,” Professor de Souza said.

Scientists in Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, and the UK have already joined the initiative.

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 10