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SpaceX booster accidentally falls into ocean after rough conditions

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:27

On Thursday, SpaceX landed three of its booster rockets in one very impressive feat.While the two side boosters landed safely on the ground at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the center core landed out in the Atlantic Ocean on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship.SEE ALSO: SpaceX landed three of its boosters for the first time, and yep, it was impressiveThat meant SpaceX had to go and retrieve the booster, but sadly, rough conditions on the seas resulted in the booster accidentally falling into the ocean, as reported by The Verge.> Falcon Heavy's center core has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship! pic.twitter.com/pNqwMWr50d> > -- SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 11, 2019"Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX's recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral," SpaceX said in a statement to the outlet."As conditions worsened with eight to ten foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright. While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence. We do not expect future missions to be impacted."SpaceX has a robot which is used to secure the boosters after they've landed on the droneship, but it isn't compatible with the Falcon Heavy center core, as reported by Florida Today.The company is expected to upgrade both the robot and the center core for future missions, so hopefully there won't be a repeat of the transit issues which transpired this time.


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Teen climate activist warns EU that it's time to panic

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:17

BRUSSELS (AP) — Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg says time is running out to halt climate change and she's urging European politicians "to panic."


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'Holy Stairs' Opened for 1st Time in Nearly 300 Years. But Did Jesus Really Climb Them?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:10

Over the past week, several news outlets have reported that the "Holy Stairs" -- said to have been climbed by Jesus on his way to face trial -- have been restored and reopened in Rome.Yes, the stairs are restored, the wooden casing covering them has been removed for the first time in nearly 300 years, and they will remain open until June 9. But experts told Live Science that it's highly unlikely Jesus actually climbed these stairs.The Holy Stairs (also known as the Scala Sancta or Scala Santa) consist of 28 marble steps that, according to legend, are from the praetorium in Jerusalem. That was a palace used by Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea who presided over the trial of Jesus that ended in Jesus being crucified. Legend has it that Jesus walked up the steps on his way to trial and that Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine (who reigned from the year 306 to 337), brought the stairs to Rome after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]For centuries, it has been a tradition that visitors who wish to climb up the stairs do so on their knees. For the last 300 years, the marble steps have been covered with wood to protect them; however, the wood was removed during the restoration, allowing the stairs to be seen for the first time in April. Why Jesus probably didn't climb the stairsArchaeologists and historians contacted by Live Science said that the stairs are probably not from the palace used by Pontius Pilate."From a scientific standpoint, I put the likelihood that these steps came from Pilate's palace in Jerusalem at about zero," said Jodi Magness, an archaeologist and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Other experts noted some of the historical discrepancies that make this Jesus claim highly unlikely. [Proof of Jesus Christ? 6 Pieces of Evidence Debated]"Since very little marble was used in [Israel-Palestine] prior to the second century, there is very little chance, I am afraid, that the staircase is authentic," said Orit Peleg-Barkat, a lecturer at the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology in Jerusalem.And the timeline doesn't really work."Pilate's palace was destroyed with the rest of Jerusalem by the Romans in [the year] 70 and razed to the ground," long before Helena visited the Holy Land, Magness said. Also Pilate's palace would have originally been built by King Herod and neither Herod, nor anyone else in his kingdom, used marble for construction."Marble is not found anywhere in Palestine and was almost never used in construction, certainly not in Herod's time -- or before 70 for that matter," Magness added.Analysis of the surviving palaces and other structures built by King Herod shows that "local materials covered with plaster or stucco in imitation of marble" were used, Magness said. "Even Herod's recently discovered mausoleum at Herodium is constructed of local white stone, not marble," Magness said. The Holy Stairs, on the other hand, "are clearly genuine marble, presumably from somewhere in the Aegean [Sea region]-- I assume that scientific analyses could determine the source," Magness said.Patrick Geary, a professor of medieval history at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, said that "there is no reason to believe -- other than faith -- that these steps were from the Roman praetorium in Jerusalem." Geary has done an extensive amount of research and writing on medieval relics, including those linked to the historical Jesus. The legend that describes Helena bringing the stairs to Jerusalem also claims that she found a piece of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, Geary said.Julia Smith, a professor of medieval history at the University of Oxford who has also researched medieval relics, agreed that the stairs are likely not those used by Jesus. "In popular legend, the steps were part of Pilate's palace in Jerusalem and then brought to Rome by Helena. It is precisely that -- a legend."Smith said that the stairs may have been an attempt to create a replica. "There are many aspects of the topography of Jerusalem which were replicated in Rome by being mapped onto existing structures in the city, and in my view, the Scala Sancta is one of them."While Jesus probably did not use these steps, "the tradition and not the archaeological truth is what matters" to many people, Peleg-Barkat said. * 10 Fascinating Biblical-Era Discoveries * 7 Biblical Artifacts That Will Probably Never Be Found * The Holy Land: 7 Amazing Archaeological FindsOriginally published on Live Science.


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World's Rarest Giant Turtle Loses Last Known Female, All But Guaranteeing Extinction

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:09

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is considered the most critically endangered turtle in the world, with only four known individuals left on Earth. On Saturday (April 13), that population fell to three, as the species' last known female died in a zoo in Suzhou, China, according to the BBC.The captive turtle was more than 90 years old and died shortly after an attempt to artificially inseminate her, the BBC reported. No complications from the insemination procedure (which was the turtle's fifth) were reported, and the cause of death is being investigated.The rare turtle is survived by one male, who also lives in the Suzhou Zoo and is believed to be about 100 years old. Scientists had been trying to breed the pair for years, a 2018 New Yorker article reported, but were unsuccessful due, in part, to the male's damaged penis.The world's final two known R. swinhoei turtles live in separate ponds in Vietnam. Their genders are unknown. The species used to be widespread in the fresh waters of China and Vietnam, according to the New Yorker, but have dwindled to near-extinction due to hunting and habitat loss.This is a sadly common story. According to a 2018 report from the Zoological Society of London, turtles and tortoises account for 29 of the world's 100 most endangered reptiles, "despite representing only 3.3% of reptilian species richness."True to their names, Yangtze giant softshell turtles can be huge, growing to more than 360 lbs. (163 kg), the New Yorker reported. * The 5 Most Mysterious Animal Die-Offs * 10 Species You Can Kiss Goodbye * Amazing Journey: World-Traveling Sea Turtle Goes HomeOriginally published on Live Science.


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Physicists Think You Could Be Rescued from a Black Hole — But Don't Risk It

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:09

DENVER -- Researchers have developed a new, unspeakably dangerous, and incredibly slow method of crossing the universe. It involves wormholes linking special black holes that probably don't exist. And it might explain what's really going on when physicists quantum-teleport information from one point to another -- from the perspective of the teleported bit of information.Daniel Jafferis, a Harvard University physicist, described the proposed method at a talk April 13 here at a meeting of the American Physical Society. This method, he told his assembled colleagues, involves two black holes that are entangled so that they are connected across space and time. What's a wormhole?Their idea solves a long-standing problem: When something enters a wormhole, it requires negative energy to exit the other side. (Under normal circumstances, the shape of space-time at a wormhole's exit make it impossible to pass through. But a substance with negative energy could, in theory, overcome that obstacle.) But nothing in the physics of gravity and space-time -- the physics that describes wormholes -- allows for those sorts of negative-energy pulses. So wormholes are impossible to actually pass through."It's just a connection in space, but, if you try to get through it, it collapses too quickly so you can't get through it," Jafferis told Live Science after his talk. [9 Ideas About Black Holes That Will Blow Your Mind]This older model of wormhole dates back to a paper by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen, published in Physical Review in 1935. The two physicists realized that, under certain circumstances, relativity would dictate that space-time would curve so extremely that a sort of tunnel (or "bridge") would form linking two separate points.The physicists wrote the paper in part to exclude the possibility of black holes in the universe. But in the decades since, as physicists came to realize that black holes do exist, the standard image of a wormhole became a tunnel where the two openings appear as black holes. However, according to this idea, such as tunnel would likely never exist naturally in the universe, and if it did exist would disappear before anything passed through it. In the 1980s, the physicist Kip Thorne wrote that something might be able to pass through this wormhole if some sort of negative energy were applied to hold the wormhole open. Quantum entanglementJafferis, along with the Harvard physicist Ping Gao and the Stanford physicist Aron Wall, have developed a way to apply a version of negative energy that relies on an idea from a very different area of physics, called entanglement.Entanglement comes from quantum mechanics, not relativity. Back in 1935, Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen published another paper in Physical Review showing that under the rules of quantum mechanics particles can become "correlated" with one another, such that the behavior of one particle directly impacts the behavior of another. [The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics]Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen thought this proved something was wrong with their ideas of quantum mechanics, because it would allow information to move faster than the speed of light between the two particles. Now, physicists know that entanglement is real, and quantum teleportation is an almost routine part of physics research.Here's how quantum teleportation works: Entangle two light particles, A and B. Then, give B to your friend to take into another room. Next, bash a third photon, C, against photon A. That entangles A and C, and breaks the entanglement between A and B. You can then measure the combined state of A and C -- which is different from the original states of A, B or C -- and communicate the results of the combined particles to your friend in the next room.Without knowing the state of B, your friend can then use that limited information to manipulate B to produce the state particle C had at the start of the process. If she measures B, she'll learn the original state of C, without anyone telling her. Information about particle C functionally teleported from one room to the next.This is useful, because it can act as a kind of uncrackable code for sending messages from one point to the next.And entanglement isn't just a property of individual particles. Larger objects can become entangled too, though perfect entanglement between them is much harder. Entangled black holes can transport youBack in 1935, the physicists writing these papers had no inkling that wormholes and entanglement were connected, Jafferis said. But in 2013, physicists Juan Maldacena and Leonard Susskind published a paper in the journal Progress in Physics linking the two ideas. Two perfectly entangled black holes, they argued, would act as a wormhole between their two points in space. They called the idea "ER=EPR," because it linked the Einstein-Rosen paper with the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paper.Asked if two fully entangled black holes might really exist in the universe, Jafferis said, "No, no, certainly not."It's not that the situation is physically impossible. It's just too precise and huge for our messy universe to produce. Producing two perfectly entangled black holes would be like winning the lottery, only zillions upon zillions of times less likely.And if they did exist, he said, they'd lose their perfect correlation the moment some third object interacted with one of them.But if, somehow, such a pair were to exist, somehow, somewhere, then Jafferis, Gao and Wall's method might work.Their approach, first published in The Journal of High Energy Physics in December 2017, goes like this: Toss your friend into one of the entangled black holes. Then, measure the so-called Hawking radiation coming off the black hole, which encodes some information about that black hole's state. Then, bring that information over to the second black hole and use it to manipulate the second black hole. (This can be as simple as dumping a bunch of Hawking radiation from the first black hole into the second.) In theory, your friend should pop out of the second black hole exactly as she entered the first.From his perspective, Jafferis said, she would have dived into a wormhole. And as she approached the singularity at its neck, she would have experienced a "pulse" of negative energy that would have propelled her out the other side. [What Would Happen If You Fell into a Black Hole?]The method isn't particularly useful, Jafferis said, because it would always be slower than just physically moving the distance between the two black holes. But it does suggest something about the universe.From the perspective of a bit of information passing between entangled particles, Jafferis said, something similar might be going on. At the scale of individual quantum objects, he said, it doesn't really make sense to talk about space-time curving to produce a wormhole. But involve a few more particles in the mix for a slightly more complex bit of quantum teleportation, and suddenly the wormhole model makes a lot of sense. There's strong evidence here, he said, that the two phenomena are linked.It also strongly suggests, he said, that information lost to a black hole might go somewhere where it could one day be retrieved.If you fall into a black hole tomorrow, he said, all hope isn't lost. A sufficiently advanced civilization might be able to zoom around the universe, collecting all the Hawking radiation emitted from the black hole as it slowly evaporated over eons, and compressing that radiation into a new black hole, entangled with the original across time. Once that new black hole emerged, it might be possible to retrieve you from it.Theoretical research into this method of moving between black holes, Jafferis said, is ongoing. But the goal is more to understand fundamental physics than perform black hole rescues. So, perhaps it's best not to risk it. * The 11 Biggest Unanswered Questions About Dark Matter * Stephen Hawking's Most Far-Out Ideas About Black Holes * 11 Fascinating Facts About Our Milky Way GalaxyOriginally published on Live Science.


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Amazon to crunch data for Chilean stargazers amid Latam push

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:02

Amazon will store data and night-sky images gleaned from telescopes in Chile's nearly cloudless Atacama desert, then offer researchers the tools to access them anywhere, said Jeffrey Kratz, General Manager for Public Sector Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Latin American, Caribbean and Canada. "Chile has over 70 percent of telescopes researching ... the night sky, yet 83 percent of the data they cannot keep because they don't have the storage capacity at many of these sites," Kratz told Reuters. "They were frustrated because they weren't able to maximize the amazing research that was going on." Amazon's role as a founding member in the public-private research project, called the Chilean Data Observatory, gives it a key entry into a market where it is seeking to expand.


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Lithium-Ion Batteries Aren't Good Enough for Electric Flight. But Maybe Lithium-Metal Is.

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 07:01

Researchers at a startup devise a new power storage design that far surpasses lithium-ion's limitations.


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Upstart Russian oil firm, with Goldman Sachs backing, bucks industry blues

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 06:03

In the frozen taiga of eastern Siberia, where bears roam in spring after waking from hibernation, an independent Russian oil company is bucking the domestic industry trend by rapidly ramping up its output and expanding operations. Irkutsk Oil Company, known by the Russian acronym INK, has increased its crude production levels 30-fold over the past decade and has negotiated access to a pipeline network that allows it reach the Asian market. The company told Reuters it is planning investments worth $3-$4 billion over the next three years, including developing its gas business by building four processing plants.


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Russian court jails Norwegian for 14 years for espionage

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 05:33

Frode Berg, a 63-year-old retired former guard on the Norwegian-Russian border, was detained in Moscow in December 2017 and tried behind closed doors this month. Berg will not appeal the verdict and plans to request a presidential pardon from Vladimir Putin that would see him freed, according to his lawyer, Ilya Novikov. Norway's Foreign Ministry said it had "noted" the verdict but did not comment on its substance.


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European voters urged to mobilise behind child climate activists

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 05:28

Sweden's teenage activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday urged Europeans to vote in next month's elections on behalf of young people like her who cannot yet cast ballots but demand decisive action against climate change. During a visit to the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, Thunberg, 16, told a press conference that time is running out to stop the ravages of global warming. "I think it is essential to vote in the European Union election," Thunberg said when asked about the May 23-26 elections for a new European Parliament.


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J&J beats estimates on pharma strength, raises sales forecast

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 05:13

The company said it expects adjusted operational sales for the year to rise between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent, compared with its previous forecast of a 2 percent to 3 percent rise. J&J's pharmaceuticals unit, which has been the primary growth driver in recent years, was again a bright spot for the company, accounting for a little more than half of its total revenue in the first quarter. J&J, the first major drugmaker to report first-quarter results, reported a slight rise in quarterly sales to $20.02 billion, above the average estimate of $19.61 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.


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Netflix Results Face New Pressures With Higher Costs, New Rivals

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 04:00

(Bloomberg) -- The stakes have risen for Netflix Inc. since the last time the video-streaming pioneer reported earnings. With more than four new entrants to the Internet TV gauntlet, investors will look to chief executive officer Reed Hastings during the conference call for reassurance.


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Your Headache May Not Be What You Think It Is

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 03:45

Most people don't know the signs or the difference between different types of head pain, according to doctors.


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Here’s a superb reason to ditch your plastic bag addiction

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 03:30

Even in the deepest pit on Earth, at some 35,700 feet beneath the sea, there lies a white plastic bag.  Plastic pollution is now so ubiquitous on the planet that cities, counties, and even states have banned single-use plastic bags. New York is expected to soon ban the rippable, mostly useless sacks.  Yet beyond the blight and recycling woes wrought by society's plastic bag addiction, plastics have an effect that bears heavy weight for the future. Overall, global plastic consumption has quadrupled in the last 40 years, and if the consumption of these fossil fuel-made plastics continues apace, the industry will carry a massive carbon emissions load by 2050.  Specifically, if modern civilization ever manages to cap the planet's total warming at around 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above 19th century levels — which would limit the worst consequences of a globally disrupted climate — the plastics industry would account for a whopping 15 percent of the total amount of carbon society can expel into the atmosphere. In a world where cars, planes, ships, electrical generation, cement-making, and belching cows all contribute sizable carbon emissions, 15 percent from plastics is an oversized, if not ridiculous, contributor.  Scientists wanted to see how, and if, society might avoid such a future reality. In a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, they found that limiting carbon emissions from the plastic industry to 2015 levels requires a colossal societal undertaking involving four strategies: cutting growth in demand for plastics by half, making plastic out of plants rather than oil and gas, generating electricity with renewable energy, and increasing recycling.  "We need an unprecedented scale of effort," said Sangwon Suh, a study coauthor and professor in industrial ecology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Plastic bottles collected at a landfill site. Image: Shutterstock / Augustine Bin Jumat Taken alone, each one of the strategies, even if deployed at extreme levels, cannot solve the plastics' emissions problem, emphasized Suh. They all must be deployed — which is why we should stop using (and creating demand for) unnecessary  plastics.  "Everything is so plastic-oriented," said Mary Ellen Mallia, the director of environmental sustainability at the State University of New York at University of Albany, who had no role in the study. But not all plastics are inherently bad. There's a list of good uses too long to list. They make cars lighter and more efficient, allow us to easily carry around technology, and are used to manufacture emergency medical equipment. "I don’t believe that we should demonize plastics," said Suh. "It's about consumers being aware of the life cycle." SEE ALSO: The Green New Deal: Historians weigh in on the immense scale required to pull it off From their birth to their usual grave in garbage dumps or on the side of the road, plastics today gulp fossil fuels. The start of a plastic's life requires heating up different oils and gases to produce a plastic resin, which can then be used to shape and build different plastic products. Every plastic we use — in our phones, computers, and water bottles — "goes through multiple industrial processes" to create the desired product we want, explained Suh. That means a big carbon emissions load, though extracting fossil fuels from deep in the ground and transporting truckloads of plastics significantly boosts this number.  "Eventually it arrives in our hands," said Suh. "People don’t think about the embedded energy of the products," added Mallia. A pacific green turtle suffocating on a plastic bag. Image: FLPA/REX/Shutterstock Though the slow-grinding gears of the federal government, especially in the U.S., will likely be sluggish to enact significant movement on slashing carbon emissions, reducing demand for useless plastics is a realizable effort for you and me, the common citizen. But that won't be easy, either.  "It's hard because it means changing behavior," said Mallia. But to limit carbon emissions from plastics, it must be done in concert with other big efforts. As Suh modeled in the study, the other three strategies can't solve the problem alone. One option relies on global civilization completely decarbonizinig the plastic industry by 2050 — which means getting nearly all of our energy from renewable sources, rather than using natural gas or other fossil fuels. But that's unlikely to happen. In fact, civilization probably won't even reach the peak of its carbon emissions until 2030.  "Ramping that [renewables] up to 100 percent by 2050 is not realistic, to be honest," said Suh.   Plastic bags caught on a fence in Oxfordshire, Britain. Image: David Hartley / REX / Shutterstock Another option is cranking up plastic recycling so that about half of plastics are reused. Today, around 10 percent of plastics are recycled, noted Suh. So getting to 50 percent is pretty far-fetched, especially when one considers the recent stagnation in recycling. "No significant improvements have been made in the past decade or so," said Suh. How about replacing most oil-derived plastics with bio-based plastics, like from corn or sugarcane? These sorts of plastics are extraordinarily rare today. "Ramping that up is near impossible," said Suh.  The end — and only solution — Suh found is an "aggressive implementation" of all these strategies over the next 30 years. That's because many plastics aren't going away. This is all the more apparent in the developing world, where people want and have the right to the same furnishings and technology that's teeming in the Western world. Plastic demand, then, will grow.  "We have no alternative future that’s obvious to us," Suh admitted.  Yet, one alternative future is rejecting the ample single-use plastics that inundate modern culture, the kind saturating our seas and decorating our roadways. We don't have to use them. WATCH: Meet Katie Bouman, one of the scientists who helped capture the first black hole image      


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A Fuel-Cell Maker Needs a Savior and Nobody Is Raising a Hand

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 03:01

Today, FuelCell has been reduced to a shell of the company it was -- all but crushed by the economics of solar and wind power and outgunned by rivals including Bloom Energy Corp. that offer more flexible and less bulky systems. Last year, its once-biggest investor -- the South Korean steelmaker Posco -- ended a decade-long relationship. FuelCell’s chief operating officer left last week.


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Measles outbreak: Man infects 39 people after travelling from New York to Michigan

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 02:34

Last month, a traveller raising money for charity in Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community drove through the night to Detroit \- his next fundraising stop. He felt sick en route and saw a doctor when he got there. But the doctor, who had never seen measles, misdiagnosed the man's fever and cough as bronchitis.Over the next two weeks, the traveller would become Michigan's Patient Zero, spreading the highly contagious respiratory virus to 39 people as he stayed in private homes, attended synagogue daily and shopped in kosher markets. His case offers a cautionary tale about how easily one of the most infectious pathogens on the planet spreads within close-knit communities - especially those whose members live, work and socialize outside the mainstream."Every one of our cases has had a link to the initial case," said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County, a Detroit suburb where all but one case was reported.In the past five years, 75 percent of measles cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention occurred in various insular communities, among them the Amish in Ohio, the Somali community in Minnesota, Eastern European groups in the Pacific Northwest and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York.In the current outbreak, the New York contagion has spread through Patient Zero and other travellers to predominantly ultra-Orthodox communities in Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York; Oakland County in Michigan, and Baltimore County in Maryland. On Friday, Connecticut officials said an adult contracted measles while visiting Brooklyn in late March. New Jersey officials are investigating possible links between 11 cases in the Ocean County area and those in New York."What's similar about all of these communities is that they live in proximity to each other and spend a lot of their time interacting with each other," said Daniel Salmon, a professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the school's Institute for Vaccine Safety. "That's what matters. Measles doesn't care what your cultural heritage is."Many of these communities are wary of government, avoid television and the Internet, and often rely on their own clinicians for medical care. In such a void, anti-vaccine misinformation has sometimes gained a foothold, deterring parents from fully vaccinating their children.The traveller had come from Israel last November to Brooklyn, the epicentre of a measles outbreak, and stayed for about two months before going on to the Detroit area in early March, said Russell Faust, Oakland County's medical officer. The man, whom Michigan health officials are not identifying, told them he was visiting ultra-Orthodox communities in the United States to raise money for charity.Feverish and coughing after his arrival, he saw a doctor, who prescribed antibiotics.When the man called back to complain of a rash the next day, the doctor thought he was having an allergic reaction. But after the doctor thought more about it, he worried about the possibility of measles and decided to leave a voice message for the health department with the man's cellphone number. Health officials jumped on the case - but couldn't reach the man because of a problem with his cellphone.They turned to Steve McGraw, head of Oakland emergency medical services and longtime member of the Detroit-area Hatzalah, the ultra-Orthodox community's emergency medical response group, an all-volunteer effort with deep ties to many families. Mr McGraw alerted rabbinical leaders, then jumped in his car and drove to the area the traveller was supposed to be staying to look for the man's rental car, a blue sedan, knowing it would stand out among the minivans used by virtually every family.Hatzalah members and rabbinical leaders also mobilised to search for the traveller, who was staying in a neighbourhood guesthouse. When they found him a few hours later, the traveller was stunned. He told Mr McGraw and the rabbi who found him that they had to be wrong since he believed he had had the measles."There is only one disease, and you have it," Mr McGraw recalled saying, as one rabbi translated into Hebrew. "He put his head down and was very emotional. I could tell from the look on his face that he was devastated. He was doing the math in his head," counting all the people he had been in contact with, Mr McGraw said.The traveller, as it turned out, had had hundreds of contacts with community members that health officials needed to trace. He had stayed mostly in private homes in the areas of Oak Park and Southfield. He had visited synagogues three times a day to pray and study and frequented kosher markets and pizza parlours, among 30 locations in one week."This guy was walking around all over the community and contagious," Mr McGraw said. "We knew we had a really significant exposure."Measles virus is so infectious that if an unvaccinated person walks through a room up to two hours after someone with measles has left, there's a 90 percent chance the unvaccinated person will get sick. People can spread measles for four days before and four days after the telltale rash. Because measles is so infectious, at least 96 percent or more of a community need to be vaccinated to prevent risk of outbreak.On 13 March, blood tests confirmed the traveller's measles. The strain matched the genetic fingerprint of the New York City outbreak, Mr McGraw said. The same day, health officials alerted the public.To get information out to the ultra-Orthodox community, health officials used its internal messaging system known as a calling post. Recorded voice messages ring on about 1,200 mobile phones. Mr McGraw recorded a message that rabbinical leaders approved for delivery, the first of several that provided information about the disease and vaccination clinics.Over the next few weeks, Janet Snider, a paediatrician for many ultra-Orthodox families, and Gedalya Cooper, an emergency medicine doctor, both members of the Hatzalah, visited people in their homes to diagnose and test them for measles.The Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit issued an unequivocal statement, saying Jewish law obligated every community member to be "properly and fully vaccinated" according to the CDC. The agency recommends children get two measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) doses, starting with the first dose at age 12 through 15 months and the second dose at age 4 through 6 years."In order to protect and safeguard each and every individual within the larger community, every individual, family and institution must take the necessary precautions against anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated," the statement said.The Hatzalah and rabbinical leaders helped the health department set up three clinics at one synagogue, immunising nearly 1,000 people in one week. As of early April, health officials have given more than 2,100 vaccinations. Vaccine refusal does not appear to be a major factor in the Oakland County cluster, officials said.In Michigan, at least, the close collaboration between health officials and the religious community appears to have controlled the spread of the disease, which can cause severe complications including deafness, pneumonia, brain damage and death.Now, with 555 measles cases in 20 states - the highest in five years - other localities are looking at that model. Hatzalah groups in other parts of the country are reaching out to county officials for advice on boosting vaccination within the ultra-Orthodox community, Mr Faust said.Oakland County had something else going for it: Measles outbreaks typically start with children. But Patient Zero had spent most of his time with adults, and most of the 39 cases are in adults. Many adults who got sick had believed they were immune, as some had been told they had the disease as children or were vaccinated."There are a fair number of non-immunised or under-immunised adults," said Mr Faust, the medical officer. Some of the adults infected also were born before 1957, when most people caught measles and are thought to have natural immunity.Officials said that the risk remains high for those who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated and who travel to communities here or abroad where measles cases are raging.Gaps in vaccination coverage have led to a 20-year high in measles cases in Europe. Major outbreaks also are taking place in parts of the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Japan. More than 1,200 people have died in Madagascar. With spring break and summer vacations approaching, travellers visiting European countries with outbreaks, such as France and Italy, have a much higher chance of bringing infections back to "islands or pockets of vulnerability," said Saad Omer, an infectious disease expert at Emory University."Measles is a very unforgiving disease," he said. "Even if most people are vaccinated, that number may not be high enough."The Washington Post


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Half of statins patients don't hit 'healthy' cholesterol levels

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 02:12

Millions of patients around the world taking statins to lower the risk of heart disease fail to achieve the recommended levels of cholesterol reduction after two years of treatment, new research said Monday. Statins -- a class of medicines designed to reduce cholesterol linked to heart disease and strokes -- are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States and Britain. The cholesterol-lowering industry is worth billions of dollars, but guidelines over who should take statins are often unclear.


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British police arrest 113 climate change activists after London roads blocked

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 01:55

British police have arrested 113 people after climate change activists blocked some of London's most famous roads including Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Waterloo Bridge in an attempt force the government to do more to tackle climate change. The protests, led by British climate group Extinction Rebellion, brought parts of central London to a standstill on Monday and some stayed overnight for a second day of protest on Tuesday.


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U.S. Navy Wants a 'Robot' Fleet to Fight Russia or China

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 01:40

The U.S. Navy's upcoming force-structure assessment could recommend a huge expansion of the fleet's efforts to acquire robotic warships, all in order to compete with the rapidly-modernizing Chinese and Russian navies.The multi-billion-dollar investment in unmanned surface vessels and submarines that the U.S. sailing branch is proposing as part of its 2020 budget is "an expression of the urgency the Navy is attaching to the situation," said Ronald O’Rourke, a shipbuilding expert with the Congressional Research Service.O'Rourke and other experts spoke at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. on April 15, 2019.At present, the Navy between 2020 and 2024 wants to spend around $4 billion buying 10 large unmanned surface vessels and nine large, unmanned submarines. The Navy's new force-structure assessment, which experts expect the service to release some time in 2019, could call for even more spending on drone vessels.


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