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Science

Tiny robot finds an asteroid that’s freakishly free of dust

Enlarge / Ryugu’s rubble-pile surface, taken by MASCOT shortly before it hit and started bouncing. JAXA For the last few months, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft has been engaged in various acts of interplanetary aggression, shooting the asteroid Ryugu in order to blast free material for a return to Earth. But Hayabusa2’s visit has also featured various …

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Physicists discover hidden text in what was thought to be blank Egyptian papyri

Enlarge / Physicists at the BESSY-II synchrotron radiation facility in Germany used multiple methods to reveal hidden text in supposedly blank patches on ancient papyri from Elephantine Island in Egypt. Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin A team of German scientists has used a combination of cutting-edge physics techniques to virtually “unfold” an ancient Egyptian papyrus, part of an …

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Researchers are creepily close to predicting when you’re going to die

Enlarge / Samples of donated blood in Vacutainer test tubes. Getty | Universal Images Group If death is in the cards, it may also be in your blood. Measurements of 14 metabolic substances in blood were pretty good at predicting whether people were likely to die in the next five to 10 years. The data …

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One could fly to Mars in this spacious habitat and not go crazy

Under a NASA contract, Sierra Nevada has built a prototype habitat module for the Lunar Gateway. Sierra Nevada Corp. Here, the expandable module is shown with an additional cargo storage area. Sierra Nevada Corp. This thing is big when fully inflated. Sierra Nevada Corp. The single module has the same volume as about one-third of …

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Your heatwave could be worse because of a drought somewhere else

Enlarge / Temperatures during the third week of July, 2019. NASA Earth Observatory Long-lived heatwaves in the mid-latitudes are typically the result of an atmospheric pattern known as a “blocking high.” In a blocking high, the jet stream bends in a north-pointing ridge (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), creating an area of high atmospheric pressure …

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Vaping linked to 94 mysterious cases of severe lung disease in 14 states

Enlarge / A person smokes a Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarette. Getty | Bloomberg The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Saturday that it’s investigating a puzzling burst of severe lung-disease cases linked to e-cigarette product use or “vaping.” Between June 28 and August 15, health officials have counted 94 probable cases of severe lung …

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I put myself through hell as an IPCC convening lead author, but it was worth it

Enlarge / A view of the building of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), hosting the 50th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on August 8, 2019 in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images In my day job, I am a scientist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland studying things such as how agriculture …

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Wind power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas

Enlarge NREL This week, the US Department of Energy released a report that looks back on the state of wind power in the US by running the numbers on 2018. The analysis shows that wind hardware prices are dropping, even as new turbine designs are increasing the typical power generated by each turbine. As a …

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NASA chief alienates Senators needed to fund the Moon program

Enlarge / NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks in front of a large hydrogen tank Friday at Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA When Jim Bridenstine became administrator of NASA 16 months ago, critics questioned his willingness to defend NASA’s climate science portfolio and his ability to move beyond the partisan politics that characterized his nearly three …

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Check out the gory, cringy images the FDA wants to put on cigarettes

Enlarge / Sick kids, chest scars, and bloody urine are just some of the new warnings. FDA The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday revealed 13 repulsive warnings it proposes adding to cigarette advertisements and packaging. The graphic warnings are intended to deter smoking. They include short statements and “photo-realistic color images depicting some of …

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