In 1997, Jeanne Louise Calment of France died at the age of 122, making her the oldest documented human to have ever lived. People who live to be 100 years or older are rare, and only about 1 in 600,000 people in industrialized nations live that long. But is there something genetically unique about centenarians that enables them to age gracefully and relatively disease-free? According to the results of a long-term study at Boston University School of Medicine, the answer is yes.
Schwarzenegger's Terminator memorably thrashed and crawled onward towards its victims even after its robotic limbs had been mutilated by explosions and crashes. Now, a German research team is trying to bring that ability to the robots of today, looking at how three-legged dogs move in order to design robots that can recover from injury or damage.
In February 2009, NASA launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a research spacecraft that crashed into the ocean shortly after launch. The project, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was designed to map the distribution of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere. In February 2013, NASA has announced, it will launch its Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) spacecraft.
On June 21, NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its lowest dip ever into the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The spacecraft's 71st flyby of Titan took it to within 547 miles of Titan's surface in an effort to assess whether Titan has its own magnetic field, which is important to understanding the moon's interior and composition. The low-altitude flyby put Cassini in a region almost completely shielded from Saturn's magnetic field, which makes it possible to detect a magnetic signature coming from Titan itself.
Imagine a telescope array that exceeds the height of the Empire State Building, the Chicago Sears Tower, and Shanghai's World Financial Center combined. That's what astronomers are piecing together about a mile beneath the ice at the South Pole. But this telescope isn't aimed at the sky -- it points to the center of the Earth.
A long-term study by Italian researchers shows that stem cells can help restore vision in eyes that have been blinded by burns. Moreover, the restored vision remained stable over 10 years.
Patients whose eyes have suffered heat or chemical burns typically experience severe damage to the cornea -- the thin, transparent front of the eye that refracts light and contributes most of the eye's focusing ability. The Italian technique uses stem cells taken from the limbus, the border between the cornea and the white of the eye, to cultivate a graft of healthy cells in a lab.
Scientists who research natural hazards walk a precarious line when it comes to predicting disasters. They're often criticized for over-hyping the situation and disrupting residents' lives. But if they fail to predict a catastrophic event, they're accused of failing to give the public adequate warning. It's a classic case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't."
"Damned if you don't" is the situation that seven of Italy's top seismologists now find themselves in -- the scientists face manslaughter charges for failing to predict the April 2009 earthquake that struck the town of L'Aquila in central Italy.
A team of NASA researchers has successfully completed the first demonstration of a prototype tsunami prediction system. Using global and regional real-time data from hundreds of GPS sites, the new system can quickly assess large earthquakes and accurately predict the size of resulting tsunamis.
The new system, developed by Y. Tony Song and his colleagues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, uses GPS data from NASA's Global Differential GPS (GDGPS) and information about continental slope (where the ocean floor descends from the edge of the continent to the ocean bottom) to estimate the energy transferred to the ocean by an undersea earthquake.
On Saturday, June 5, in the remote southeast Utah desert, a team of engineering students from Oregon State University emerged as the champion of the fourth annual University Rover Challenge (URC).
Competition events began on Friday morning, June 4, at two adjacent sites near the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah. The "sample return mission" involved investigating sites that might have microbial life and bringing back a sample. At the second site, the "equipment servicing task" required rovers to flip switches, push buttons, and insert plugs into outlets.
Anyone who questions the ability of rover vehicles to explore other worlds need only look at Spirit and Opportunity—the Mars Exploration Rovers that have already outlived their expected lifespan on Mars by more than five years. And college students from seven universities are hoping to make their own discoveries about designing the next generation of rovers.