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Nearing the anniversary of John McCain's death, July 17 is designated Glioblastoma Awareness Day

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:29

Nearly a year after the death of longtime senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, authorities are calling attention to the disease that claimed his life. Last month, the U.S. Senate designated July 17 as Glioblastoma Awareness Day, under a resolution introduced by McCain's former Senate colleague and longtime friendLindsey Graham. The bipartisan resolution was supported by co-sponsors Mitch McConnell, Elizabeth Warren, Kyrsten Sinema, Martha McSally and Ed Markey, according to the National Brain Tumor Society, which championed the bipartisan effort.

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The Multibillion-Dollar Race for Gene Therapy Manufacturing Is On

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:22

Gene therapy developers might steal all of the headlines, but manufacturing is likely to be the more lucrative investing opportunity -- for both companies and investors.

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Pentagon asked to investigate whether ticks were experimented on as biological weapons

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:08

The Pentagon has been asked to examine whether ticks and other insects were experimented on as potential biological weapons, after a US politician demanded the US military give answers. Chris Smith, a Republican congressman for New Jersey, tabled a vote – passed last week – which compels the Pentagon inspector general to investigate. Mr Smith asked that the Pentagon report back on "whether the department of defence experimented with ticks and other insects regarding its use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975." He wanted to know who ordered the programme, whether there was ever an accidental release of diseased ticks, and whether the programme has contributed to the increase of Lyme disease. "My amendment tasks the DOD inspector general to ask the hard questions and report back," he said. Ticks can carry Lyme disease - an emerging disease complex which is easily cured when caught early, but remains difficult to detect in its later forms Mr Smith said that he was inspired to add the amendment to the annual defence bill by "a number of books and articles suggesting that significant research had been done at US government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland and Plum Island, New York to turn ticks and other insects into bioweapons." Some theorists have suggested that bioweapon specialists packed ticks with pathogens that could cause severe disabilities, disease and death among potential enemies to the US. Experts have dismissed the idea as a conspiracy theory. But Mr Smith, co-chair of the House Lyme disease caucus, has been a strong advocate for further research into the disease. Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by state health departments. The disease, spread by ticks, appears to be on the rise: in 1997 there were 12,800 confirmed cases, rising to 29,500 in 2017 – the most recent year for which data is available. Earlier this year Mr Smith introduced the "Ticks: Identify, Control, and Knockout Act'' (TICK Act), a bill to come up with a national strategy to fight Lyme disease. If passed, the measure would authorize an additional $180 million to boost funding for Lyme disease research, prevention and treatment programmes. The CDC currently spends about $11 million on Lyme disease research. Mr Smith's tick amendment is not certain to make it into the final defence spending measure. Both the House and Senate have passed their own versions, and representatives from both the House and Senate will meet in conference committee to reconcile the two bills.

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Elon Musk Wants To Wire Your Brain

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:58

Last year Tesla CEO Elon Musk was given a lucrative new compensation plan, with the catch being that he would only get his bonus if he helped the company reach some pretty high financial goals. The thinking was this package was meant to keep our IRL Tony Stark focused on, like, cars and stuff instead of trying to colonize mars or something. But Elon gonna Elon, and so of course he now wants to help connect your brain directly to the internet. Sure. What? Musk has invested $100 million in Neuralink, a neuroscience company that recently unveiled a “sewing machine-like” robot that can implant ultrathin threads deep into the brain. This would, potentially, allow for ultra-swift communication between humans and machines, and would let the brain process vast amounts of information. Though everyone admits that we’re a long way from everyone living in a William Gibson novel, Neuralink, which likens the process to getting Lasik surgery, hopes to begin testing on humans next year. Mechanical Animals As odd as this sounds, Neuralink might be onto something, as they did a demonstration in which a linked up laboratory rat read information from 1,500 electrodes — 15 times greater than current systems embedded in humans. But scientists cautioned that results from laboratory animals might not translate into human success. In Other News There’s never a dull moment at Tesla, apparently. The company finally achieved its longtime goal of lowering the price of its best-selling Model 3, while also quietly phasing out versions. Speaking of Model 3, news broke today that in the effort to ramp up production of the popular model, some employees say they resorted to using electrical tape to quickly repair cracks and worked through extreme heat, cold and wild-fire smoke. A spokesperson for Tesla denied the charges. -Michael Tedder Photo: Mike Blake / REUTERS

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The Latest: Hawaii officials arrest telescope protesters

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:52

Hawaii officials say police are arresting protesters who are blocking a road to prevent construction of a giant telescope on a mountain that some Native Hawaiians consider sacred. Police arrived to Mauna Kea on Wednesday and started taking away about 30 elders, who are ready and willing to be arrested. Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta says hundreds of protesters had planned to clear the road to allow the elders to be taken away.

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Maintaining or starting exercise in middle age tied to longer life

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:47

Physical activity has long been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. For the current study, researchers assessed activity levels several times over eight years for 14,599 men and women who were between 40 and 80 years old at the outset. During that period, there were 3,148 deaths, including 950 from cardiovascular disease and 1,091 from cancer.

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'Artificial snow' could save stricken Antarctic ice sheet - study

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:41

Governments could stop the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from sliding into the ocean and submerging coastal cities by launching a last-ditch engineering project to blanket its surface with "artificial snow", according to a study released on Wednesday. Scientists believe that global warming has already caused so much melting at the south pole that the giant ice sheet is now on course to disintegrate, which would trigger an eventual global sea level rise of at least three metres (10 feet) over centuries. "We have already awoken the giant at the southern pole," said Anders Levermann, a professor at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, referring to the ice sheet.

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'Artificial snow' could save stricken Antarctic ice sheet - study

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:38

Governments could stop the West Antarctic ice sheet from sliding into the ocean and submerging coastal cities by launching a last-ditch engineering project to blanket its surface with 'artificial snow,' a study found on Wednesday. Scientists believe that global warming has already caused so much melting at the south pole that the giant ice sheet is now on course to disintegrate, which would trigger an eventual global sea level rise of at least three metres over centuries. "We have already awoken the giant at the southern pole," said Anders Levermann, a professor at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, referring to the ice sheet.

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WHO declares Congo Ebola outbreak a public health emergency of international concern

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:34

The World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo an international emergency. An emergency committee of experts convened by the WHO, the global health arm of the United Nations, recommended the decision after meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to reassess whether the current epidemic constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

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Scientists find new way to kill disease-carrying mosquitoes

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:30

Scientists say they nearly eliminated disease-carrying mosquitoes on two islands in China using a new technique. In the experiment, researchers targeted Asian tiger mosquitoes, invasive white-striped bugs that can spread dengue fever, Zika and other diseases. Zapping is meant to sterilize the mosquitoes.

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Can trillion-tonne snow cannons save us from sea-level rise?

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:19

Scientists seeking to avoid catastrophic sea-level rises from the melting West Antarctic ice sheet have come up with a "terrible" solution: use snow cannons to pump trillions of tonnes of ice back on top. The gargantuan ice sheet contains enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by six metres (20 feet). Just one metre of sea-level rise would be enough to displace around 190 million people, and a rise of three metres would imperil megacities across the world, including New York, Shanghai and Tokyo.

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Snow cannons can stabilize melting Antarctic ice shelves, physicists say

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:03

West Antarctica is an ominous place. In this exceptionally remote region, ice is breaking off into the sea faster than it's naturally replenished by snowfall. Massive icebergs -- recently one five times the size of Manhattan -- have broken off into the ocean more frequently since 2001. This is bad. As West Antartica's ice shelves -- the ends of great glaciers that float over the ocean -- continue snapping off, eventually they'll lose the critical point at which they're grounded to the ocean floor, resulting in their collapse. Critically, these grounded ice shelves act like plugs, holding back West Antarctic ice sheets from flowing unhindered into the ocean. This could trigger some 3 meters of sea level rise. To potentially thwart this future, should an irreversible West Antarctic horror come to pass, environmental physicists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research released research Wednesday suggesting a grandiose geoengineering project. They assessed the strategy of pumping in trillions of tons of ocean water and then using snow cannons to blow massive amounts of artificial snow over the ice shelves. This would, they argue, stabilize the ice and halt the retreat. Yes, it's an intentionally far-fetched idea, and illustrates the profound difficulty of solving such a challenging environmental problem."It shows how huge the problem is," said Anders Levermann, an author of the study and head of the Complexity Science research department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research."We are not necessarily proposing it, but it's an option," Levermann added.Pine Island Glacier calving events between 2002 and 2019.Image: NASA EOSDIS / LANCE and GIBS / WorldviewThe ambitious engineering scheme involves installing around 90 industrial pumping stations to suck water out of the ocean and push that water inland, through freeze-resistant pipes. Using the water, the physicists found that if giant snow cannons created a whopping 7.4 trillion metric tons, or 7,400 gigatonnes, of snowfall, the West Antarctic ice sheets would become stabilized.The basic principle is adding ice (by way of falling artificial snow) to the surface to counteract what's eating away at the ice shelves from below: influxes of relatively warmer ocean waters thinning the undersides of the ice. "We computed it and it works," said Levermann.Polar scientists are still investigating what's driving these warm water influxes and resulting instability in West Antarctica. The culprit very well could be climate change, as warmer waters thin the ice from below, eventually leading to the collapse of ice shelves. "This area of central West Antarctica has been thought to be prone to this kind of collapse, and some (controversial) evidence of its past loss during past warm periods supports the idea that it [ice] could quickly unload from the ice sheet in the warming climate and ocean anticipated for the end of this century and beyond (perhaps sooner, to start)," Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado who had no role in the study, said over email.> The time lapse between begin Oct 2000 and end Mar 2019 highlights the disintegration of the @ThwaitesGlacier Tongue even more.> > -- Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) March 6, 2019The challenges of such a geoengineering project are tremendous. Making that much ice would require pumping some 7.4 trillion tons of water from the ocean. "Or, an Olympic pool for every human being on Earth," noted Scambos. "Moreover, the water for these pools would need to be pumped hundreds of kilometers inland and over 2000 [feet] uphill," he added.SEE ALSO: June was the warmest June ever recorded, but there's a bigger problemThis would require a massive amount of energy, something on the order of "several ten thousand high-end wind turbines," the authors concludes. Acknowledging the near-impossibility of such an endeavor, it would almost certainly be much easier to slash the amount of heat-trapping carbon emissions being emitted in the atmosphere today -- now at rates that are unprecedented in both the geological and historical record. "I think overall the value of the study is to strengthen the case of simply addressing decarbonization -- and it would appear that [the authors] understand this and wanted to discuss the challenge in a frank and objective way," Scambos said. West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier shown on the left.Image: NASABut, should West Antarctica follow current trends and continue to destabilize, such a grand geoengineering plan may one day look more appetizing. Three meters of sea level rise will imperil not just hundreds of millions of coastal dwellers, but vast swathes of vital economic powerhouses, and their invaluable cultural heritages. "What is the value of New York City?" asked Levermann. "What is the value of Hong Kong?"The almost incalculable price estimates for such a geoengineering undertaking are beyond the realm of this study, Levermann noted. But it would mean spending less money on massive coastal walls and fortifications, he noted. And it would also likely act as a subsidy to national economies as countries put contractors and engineers to work, similar to NASA's Apollo program, the New Deal, or U.S. defense spending. "It's not for scientists to decide whether to do it or not," said Levermann. "It's for society to decide." WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?

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Tutankhamun golden coffin under restoration for the first time

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:29

Experts have begun restoration work on the golden-plated coffin of Egypt's boy-king Tutankhamun for the first time since the discovery of the tomb in 1922, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said on Wednesday. The coffin and the treasured collection of Tutankhamun's tomb are expected to be the centrepiece of the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) that Egypt will open next year near the Pyramids of Giza. The ministry said the coffin was transported from southern Egypt to the GEM three days ago "in order to be restored for the first time since the tomb's discovery".

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Facebook Crypto Plan Draws Fresh Fury From House Democrats

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:13

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. took a beating for a second straight day over its controversial cryptocurrency plans as Democratic lawmakers argued the proposal posed vast privacy and national security risks.At a Wednesday hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Chairwoman Maxine Waters compared Facebook to Wells Fargo & Co. and Equifax Inc., two scandal ridden companies that have come under scrutiny for harming consumers. If Facebook issues its Libra token, she added, the company will “wield immense power that could disrupt” governments and central banks.California’s Waters and other committee Democrats have crafted legislation to bar the company from proceeding with the coin until it can be properly vetted. In his testimony, Facebook executive David Marcus reiterated that the company won’t go ahead ahead with the cryptocurrency until regulators and governments across the world are satisfied. Democrats, however, were unmoved.Still, Marcus found more friends in the House than he did Tuesday in front of the Senate Banking Committee, giving some hope that Facebook could weather the political storm it unleashed a few weeks ago when it announced its Libra plans. One Republican on the financial services panel called the digital money idea brilliant, while others said they worried their Democratic colleagues were trying to stifle progress and thwart vital financial technology.“Washington must go beyond the hype and ensure that it’s not the place where innovation goes to die,” said Representative Patrick McHenry, the panel’s highest-ranking Republican. While saying he was appropriately skeptical of Facebook’s proposal, North Carolina’s McHenry urged lawmakers to move beyond making the company a political whipping boy.@RepMaxineWaters says of Facebook, and its plan to launch Libra Watch LIVE— Beth Ponsot (@bponsot) July 17, 2019 “Change is here. Digital currencies exist,” he said. “And Facebook’s entry in this new world is just confirmation.”Read More: Big Tech Is Taking a Bipartisan Beating All Over WashingtonIt hasn’t been an easy few weeks for Facebook and its cryptocurrency project. Ahead of its Capitol Hill grillings, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to lambaste Libra, while Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the company would have a tough time satisfying a slew of regulatory issues.A parade of senators from both parties criticized Facebook at Tuesday’s Senate Banking hearing, saying the company can’t be trusted to handle consumers’ financial transactions. Much of the day focused on Facebook’s missteps involving privacy breaches and allowing Russian propaganda designed to influence the 2016 presidential election on its platform.Despite the outcry, it would be difficult for Congress to block Facebook’s plans. U.S. lawmakers haven’t passed any significant laws on cryptocurrencies, and no federal agency has established itself as the primary overseer for virtual coins. At least half a dozen regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and parts of the Treasury Department have claimed some turf.Read More: Why Everybody (Almost) Hates Facebook’s Digital CoinIn his House testimony Wednesday, Marcus again said the company knew it was only “at the beginning of this journey” and was eager to get input from governments, central banks and others across the globe. The digital money operations are being headquartered in Switzerland.“We expect the review of Libra to be among the most extensive ever,” he said. “We are fully committed to working with regulators here and around the world.”But his refusal to agree to the moratorium proposed by Democrats, or even a pilot program that would test how Libra functions before a full-scale launch, enraged Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat whose constituency includes many Wall Street bankers. “You’ve breached the trust of users over and over again,” she said, adding that lawmakers should consider halting the project.Under questioning, Marcus alluded to the regulatory gray area that its digital coin could occupy.He told the panel that Facebook doesn’t consider the token to be a security or an exchange-traded fund, meaning it would not be regulated by the SEC. And though he said Libra may be seen as a commodity under current law, its oversight is still an open question. “We believe it is a payment tool,” Marcus said.Read More: Facebook Spurs Washington to Confront Its Crypto DitheringFacebook is currently talking to the Swiss financial regulator as well as the Group of Seven about what rules might apply, he added. Among the issues that are being addressed: privacy concerns, money laundering, terrorism finance and any potential impact on sovereign currencies.Marcus also sought to downplay Facebook’s leading role in the project, noting that it would be just one of dozens of corporations involved. However, he acknowledged that thus far the social media giant was the only company to have spent money or developed the technology for the project.Republicans on the panel generally argued that it was premature for Congress, or regulatory agencies, to clamp down on Libra. The government, they noted, shouldn’t get in the way of private sector progress.“This is absolutely brilliant,” Representative Sean Duffy, a Wisconsin Republican, told Marcus. “I was shocked at how bright it was.”(Adds details on hearing throughout.)To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Bain in Washington at;Robert Schmidt in Washington at rschmidt5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jesse Westbrook at, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Man convicted of rape and murder in the '90s set to be exonerated thanks to genetic genealogy

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 11:10

In the 1990s, Christopher Tapp was sent to prison for the rape and murder of Idaho teen Angie Dodge. Despite his DNA not matching evidence found at the crime scene, he was still convicted based on the theory that multiple people were involved in the crime. On Wednesday, after decades of proclaiming his innocence and claiming his confession was coerced, Tapp may finally be exonerated due to the novel DNA technique of genetic genealogy, which was used to find identify a new suspect in Dodge's murder.

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'Half-Blood' lunar eclipse delights stargazers in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 10:23

Two weeks after the weather gods shone down on South America’s mid-winter total solar eclipse, sky watchers in Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America enjoyed a Half-Blood Moon lunar eclipse Tuesday. Although it wasn't a total lunar eclipse, the moon still turned red to many viewers as Earth’s shadow engulfed it.

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Netflix Earnings Will Show Whether Price Hikes Are Paying Off

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 10:22

(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc.’s earnings should help answer a key question for the streaming giant: whether customers are willing to pay more in an increasingly competitive market.After boosting prices in markets around the world, the company will deliver its second-quarter results on Wednesday afternoon. Analysts don’t expect much growth at home -- they’re predicting a mere 309,240 subscriber additions in the U.S. on average -- but the hope is that the increases and more users overseas will let Netflix sustain the expansion investors have come to expect.“Recent price increases in multiple countries should result in revenue acceleration starting this quarter,” Citigroup Inc. analyst Mark May said in a research note.Wall Street is projecting revenue of $4.93 billion for the period, up 26%. Analysts also will be closely watching the growth in average revenue per user, international profitability, domestic streaming contribution margins and user engagement.Netflix is the dominant paid video streaming service, but it has reason to shore up its position right now. Walt Disney Co., AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal are all racing to deliver their own online services, ushering in a new era of intense competition.Against that backdrop, Netflix is building its presence overseas. The company is expected to report the addition of 4.75 million subscribers internationally in the second quarter, according to analyst data compiled by Bloomberg.Shares in the company have risen 36% this year, nearly double the gain of the S&P 500. But it’s still unclear how many customers globally are willing to pay for its product. Greg Peters, the company’s chief product officer, has hinted at the need for a lower-priced subscription tier for users with less disposable income.Read more: The ‘Stranger Things’ hunt for a billion-dollar franchiseSunTrust analyst Matthew Thornton views investor sentiment as neutral-to-cautious heading into earnings, particularly with the stock down as much as 1.2% intraday. But Netflix’s June content slate should lift some spirits as the bank has seen increased web searches for original series like “When They See Us” and “Black Mirror,” Thornton told clients in a note.Things should get more interesting for Netflix in the second half. On the plus side, the Los Gatos, California-based company will get a boost from new seasons of “Stranger Things” and “Orange Is the New Black.” Earlier this month, “Stranger Things” got off to a record start, with 40 million household accounts watching in the first four days of the new season.But Disney’s highly anticipated $6.99-a-month streaming service, called Disney+, arrives in November. Though no one is expecting a large-scale defection from Netflix to Disney+, it should shake up the industry.What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:The price increases should accelerate 2Q average revenue per unit and revenue gains, even as operating margin isn’t expected to improve until 2H with a 13% target for the full year.-- Geetha Ranganathan, senior media analyst-- Click here for the researchJust the Numbers2Q streaming paid net change estimate +5.06 million (Bloomberg MODL data)2Q U.S. streaming paid net change estimate +309,240 2Q international streaming paid net change estimate +4.75 million2Q revenue est. $4.93 billion (range $4.73 billion to $4.98 billion) 2Q GAAP EPS est. 56c (range 52c to 65c)3Q revenue estimate $5.23 billion (range $4.89 billion to $5.52 billion)3Q GAAP EPS estimate $1.03 (range 63c to $1.39)Data32 buys, nine holds, four sells; average price target $398.57 Implied one-day share move following earnings: 8.2% Shares rose after six of prior 12 earnings announcements GAAP EPS beat estimates in nine of past 12 quarters To see deep estimates in this story NFLX US Equity MODLTimingEarnings release expected 4 p.m. (New York time) July 17Conference call website; also follow along on our live blog(Adds SunTrust commentary in eighth paragraph, updates share move and estimates.)\--With assistance from Karen Lin.To contact the reporter on this story: Kamaron Leach in New York at kleach6@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at, Nick Turner, Rob GolumFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Bleating the traffic: sheep dodge cars in tour around Paris

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 10:06

A flock of sheep that has taken a 140-kilometre (87-mile) tour around Paris, nibbling on grass at historic monuments and housing blocks along the way, ended their 12-day journey on the banks of the river Seine on Wednesday. The trip began in the low-income Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis on July 6 and ended on Wednesday with the 25-strong flock on the left bank of the Seine near the Trocadero gardens in central Paris. It was organised by local authorities to highlight the advantages of urban farming, in collaboration with a group called Urban Shepherds based in Aubervilliers, just north of Paris.

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In the 90's Christopher Tapp was convicted of rape and murder. Today he's set to be exonerated thanks to genetic genealogy

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 09:54

In the 1990s, Christopher Tapp was sent to prison for the rape and murder of Idaho teen Angie Dodge. Despite his DNA not matching evidence found at the crime scene, he was still convicted based on the theory that multiple people were involved in the crime. On Wednesday, after decades of proclaiming his innocence and claiming his confession was coerced, Tapp may finally be exonerated due to the novel DNA technique of genetic genealogy, which was used to find identify a new suspect in Dodge's murder.

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Apollo 11: The things that happened in the hours as astronauts headed for Moon landing

Wed, 07/17/2019 - 09:28

On this day 50 years ago, the Apollo astronauts who were being hailed as heroes didn't have all that much to do. They were a central part of a mission watched around the world, one which would define the century that followed, and which required intensive intelligence and ingenuity beyond our imagining – but at the moment they were engaged in housekeeping and sleeping.Now is the anniversary of perhaps the most unusual part of the Moon mission: that intermediate period after astronauts had completed the all-important liftoff, and as they waited, quietly drifting through space, on their way to the Moon.The launch happened on 16 July, 1969. The landing happened four days later, on 20 July.Between those days were a strange and eerie silence, filled with activities that would be humdrum were they not happening inside of the most ambitious activity ever launched by humankind.As the three astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins – floated serenely through space, they began to think about what would happen at Earth. They were travelling at immense speed which meant that they had left the Earth quicker than many of those who had come along to watch would be able to get out of the parking lots they'd viewed it from."As we proceed outbound, this number will get smaller and smaller until the tug of the Moon's gravity exceeds that of the Earth's and then we will start speeding up again," Collins later said. "It's hard to believe that we are on our way to the Moon, at 1200 miles altitude now, less than three hours after liftoff, and I'll bet the launch-day crowd down at the Cape is still bumper to bumper, straggling back to the motels and bars."Soon after that, they would get to the main work they had to do during the journey, which began early. Collins was assisted by his two colleagues to separate the command module from the third stage of the Saturn rocket, and then spin it around and connect with the lunar module known as Eagle that would be used to descend to the service."This of course was a critical maneuver in the flight plan," Aldrin later said. "If the separation and docking did not work, we would return to Earth."There was also the possibility of an in-space collision and the subsequent decompression of our cabin, so we were still in our spacesuits as Mike separated us from the Saturn third stage. Critical as the maneuver is, I felt no apprehension about it, and if there was the slightest inkling of concern it disappeared quickly as the entire separation and docking proceeded perfectly to completion."The nose of Columbia was now connected to the top of the Eagle and heading for the Moon as we watched the Saturn third stage venting, a propulsive maneuver causing it to move slowly away from us."After that was completed, the really stressful work was over. The astronauts could get to sitting out the journey, waiting until they reached their distant target.By the next day, the astronauts were able to darken the windows with covers that served as curtains, and try and get some sleep as the command module slowly rotated them through space. They'd spend the following days doing chores and talking with Earth.During those intermediate days, there was considerably less activity on board the craft. Nasa's official timeline – which gives detailed information on absolutely everything the crew did – lists only a few activities over the course of the 17th and 18th, as the three astronauts floated through space.On 17 July, for instance, the crew simply conducted three TV transmissions and did one small burn of their engines to correct their course. The day after, there was another TV transmission and a quick journey into the lunar module and back so that it could be inspected ahead of the landing.But the day later, as they approached the Moon and, the atmosphere would change."Day four has a decidedly different feel to it," Collins later said. "Instead of nine hours' sleep, I get seven – and fitful ones at that."Despite our concentrated effort to conserve our energy on the way to the Moon, the pressure is overtaking us (or me at least), and I feel that all of us are aware that the honeymoon is over and we are about to lay our little pink bodies on the line."At this point, everything became much more real: for one, the astronauts could once again see the Moon properly for the first time in nearly a day. They were now in orbit around the Moon, and it was vividly clear."The Moon I have known all my life, that two-dimensional small yellow disk in the sky, has gone away somewhere, to be replaced by the most awesome sphere I have ever seen," said Collins later."To begin with it is huge, completely filling our window. Second, it is three-dimensional. The belly of it bulges out toward us in such a pronounced fashion that I almost feel I can reach out and touch it. To add to the dramatic effect, we can see the stars again. We are in the shadow of the Moon now, and the elusive stars have reappeared."At this point, the work to get ready to touch the lunar surface begins. The astronauts each carry out the checks that would try and ensure that the descent was as safe as possible, and that the lander that would carry them down was as secure as it could possibly be.Collins would spent yet more time on his own, waiting, as Aldrin and Armstrong jumped around the lunar surface. As they did, he waited, floating above the Moon – occasionally disappearing behind it and being plunged into the all-consuming quiet of the far side of the Moon – and waiting for his two colleagues to make their return, before heading back to Earth.

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