Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editor annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, health, energy, and the environment.
This weekend is an astronomical double feature, as yesterday was the summer solstice and tonight is the supermoon. NASA Explorer has the following video about Supermoon 2013.
Dr. Michelle Thaller answers questions about what a Supermoon is and talks about how NASA is studying the moon with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.Ker Than of National Geographic News has more about both yesterday's solstice and tonight's supermoon in Summer Solstice 2013: Why It's the First Day of Summer.
This year's summer solstice will be followed by the year's largest supermoon.More stories after the jump.
Summer officially begins this week as the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year. For Americans, summer will begin either on Thursday or Friday—depending on which time zone you live in.
That's because the timing of the summer solstice depends on when the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator, and that varies from year to year.
This year's summer solstice falls on Friday, June 21, at 1:04 a.m. ET, but it will start on Thursday night for places in North America west of the Central Time Zone.
This year's summer solstice also stands out because it will be followed shortly after by the largest "supermoon" of the year. In the early hours of Sunday, June 23, the moon will officially reach its full phase and will be the closest to Earth that it will be all year.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Ux2: LED Lightbulbs Finally Ready for Prime Time!
Tech Feed: Grow Your Own Edible Insects?!
A few weeks ago, we told you how t3D-Printed food may be made from insect parts. Annie explains how now, you can grow your own edible insects right in your kitchen with Lepsis.
This is unsustainable.
No chemicals actually poured into the ocean or anywhere else in the making of this video. OBVIOUSLY DON'T EVER DO THIS.
BuzzFeed: 7 Extinct Animals That Were Rediscovered
They once were lost, but now they're found.
Orcas are no threat to humans in the wild, but in captivity, they have killed.
Discovery News: What Heros and Psychopaths Have In Common
Heros and psychopaths-- they're two groups of people that should have nothing in common. But as Laci shows us, they've actually got more in common than you'd imagine possible.
Discovery News: Most Detailed Map of the Brain Ever!
Scientists are getting a better than ever look inside the human brain. Sure they've had fMRI's for a while and they're great, but it's nothing when compared to what's coming out of Europe's Big Brain Project. Anthony shows us this unprecedented peek inside the human head.
Discovery News: World War Z: The Real Plan for Apocalypse
Say the world was actually taken over by vicious zombies, World War Z style. What would an actual government response to an apocalypse look like? Anthony fights his way through imaginary an undead army to find out.
Discovery News: Cities Are Like Stars
People living in big cities have a lot in common with... the inside of a star? Sounds crazy, but it actually makes sense. Anthony explains this radical new way to look at life in the world's busiest cities.
NASA Television: Asteroid Grand Challenge on This Week @NASA
During an asteroid initiative industry and partner day at NASA Headquarters, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced a Grand Challenge focused on finding and mitigating all asteroid threats to human populations. Grand Challenges, an important element of the President's Strategy for American Innovation, are ambitious goals on a national or global scale that capture the imagination and demand advances in innovation, science and technology. Also, J-2X Engine Gimbal Test, Countdown to IRIS Mission, Armstrong Ceremony, Advancing Liquid Air Technology, GPM's Solar Wings, 2013 W.E.S.T. Summit and more!
NASA Television: 2013 Astronaut Class on This Week @NASA
During a Google+ Hangout NASA announced its newest class of astronaut trainees. The eight candidates selected to the 2013 astronaut class were chosen from a pool of 63-hundred applications -- the second largest NASA has ever received. In August, the group will begin a wide array of technical training at Johnson Space Center, other NASA centers and space agencies around the world.
Also, Science Day on The Hill, Technology Day, Dry Ice Movement on Mars, Sample Return Robot Challenge, Engineering Leaders Graduate, I'm an Engineer! and more!
NASA Television: ScienceCasts: Arctic Permafrost
Arctic permafrost soils contain more accumulated carbon than all the human fossil-fuel emissions since 1850 combined. Warming Arctic permafrost, poised to release its own gases into the atmosphere, could be the "sleeping giant" of climate change.
NASA Television: ScienceCasts: Strange Flames on the International Space Station
Researchers experimenting with flames onboard the International Space Station have produced a strange, cool-burning form of fire that could help improve the efficiency of auto engines.
Two massive galaxies in the process of a violent merger were snapped by the Hubble space telescope in a formation that looks uncannily like a penguin guarding its egg.
Space.com: Newfound Star System Is Third-Closest to Sun
by Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 05:10 PM ET
Scientists have discovered the closest star system to the sun found in nearly a century.
With a dim duo of "failed stars" known as brown dwarfs at its center, the new neighbor is the third-nearest to our solar system overall, and it could be a good place to look for exoplanets, researchers say.
"The distance to this brown dwarf pair is 6.5 light-years — so close that Earth's television transmissions from 2006 are now arriving there," Kevin Luhman, a researcher at Penn State's Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, said in a statement. "It will be an excellent hunting ground for planets because it is very close to Earth, which makes it a lot easier to see any planets orbiting either of the brown dwarfs."
Space.com: NASA Moon Probe Celebrates 4th Birthday on Supermoon Sunday
by Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior Writer
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 04:55 PM ET
A sharp-eyed NASA spacecraft celebrates four years of circling the moon this Sunday (June 23), just in time for the "supermoon."
Since arriving in orbit on June 23, 2009, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has given scientists a much deeper understanding of Earth's nearest neighbor, mission team members said.
"Not only has LRO delivered all the information that is needed for future human and robotic explorers, but it has also revealed that the moon is a more complex and dynamic world than we had ever expected," Rich Vondrak, LRO deputy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement.
Space.com: Amazing Satellite Photos Show Earth's Plant Life from Space
by Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 07:00 AM ET
Scientists have pieced together a year's worth of photos from the powerful Earth-watching Suomi NPP satellite to create the most detailed look ever of our world's plant life as seen from space.
The amazing maps of Earth's vegetation highlight areas where plant life is the densest and barest, while leaving out the 75 percent of the planet that is covered in blue oceans and seas.
The darkest green places represent lush vegetation and the pale sections show terrain where plant life is sparse due to deserts, rocks, snow or urban sprawl.
L.A. Times: May global temperature ties as third warmest on record
By Bettina Boxall
June 21, 2013, 6:15 a.m.
Last month was among the hottest Mays in the 134-year global record, tying with 1998 and 2005 as the third warmest.
According to an analysis released Thursday by the National Climatic Data Center, May’s combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces was 1.19°F above the 20th century average of 58.6°F.
LiveScience: Belief in Global Warming Drops After Cold Winter
Megan Gannon, News Editor
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 12:21 PM ET
After an especially cold winter across much of the United States, the American public was slightly less convinced that the planet is heating up, a new survey shows.
A majority of Americans, or 63 percent, still believe there is solid evidence that global warming is real, according to the latest poll from the National Surveys on Energy and Environment (NSEE). That number is down, however, from 67 percent who said the same in the fall.
"The fairly cold winter and slow arriving spring weather this year appears to have contributed to a slight decline in the number of Americans that think global warming is happening," said Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg Institute, which conducts the NSEE in partnership with the University of Michigan.
LiveScience: Bacteria Nest Like Russian Dolls Inside Bugs
Tanya Lewis, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 12:00 PM ET
Mealybugs are home to bacteria that nest inside other bacteria, like microscopic Russian dolls, a new study finds. The curious symbiotic relationship offers insight into the complex interplay between animals and microbes, the study researchers say.
Mealybugs, scaly insects found in warm, moist places, get their nutrients from plant sap. But to turn the sap into a form of food they can use, the bugs rely on bacteria. The bacterium Moranella endobia lives inside the bacterium Tremblaya princeps, which lives inside the mealybug. This is the first three-tiered living system ever observed in animals, the researchers say.
Tremblaya bacteria have a very tiny genome, which is missing many essential genes, yet somehow the bacterium survives. "We wanted to untangle the role of Moranella and the mealybug in the functioning of Tremblaya," study researcher John McCutcheon of the University of Montana said in a statement.
LiveScience: Tough Love: Male Spiders Die for Sex
Tanya Lewis, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 18 June 2013 Time: 07:01 PM ET
An eight-legged love tragedy may go something like this: The male spider approaches the female, who is four times his size. She scuttles away, but he creeps closer and closer. Finally, he takes hold of her with his spindly legs, climbs aboard and inserts his "penis" into her genital opening and discharges a jet of sperm. Then — quite abruptly — his legs curl underneath his body, he hangs motionless from his lover, and his heart stops beating.
The male dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus) mates with just one female, and the act results in spontaneous death and genital disfiguration for the male, new research finds. The bride then makes a meal of her mate.
This gruesome tale isn't the first case of sexual cannibalism, in which one spider (usually the female) eats its mate after copulation. But unlike spider species in which the female kills the male,the male fishing spider appears to expire from internal causes.
Inside Science News Service via LiveScience: Fish Diseases Threaten Food Supply In Warm Climates
Tegan Wendland, ISNS Contributor
Date: 17 June 2013 Time: 06:05 PM ET
A rise in fish farms has meant cheap, fast-growing protein to feed the world's growing human population. But a new study suggests that countries located at lower latitudes – many of which rely heavily on fish farming – may be most at risk for fish disease outbreaks. The tropical environments in countries near the equator are ripe for breeding waterborne pathogens.
Aquaculture, the technical term for the farming of aquatic plants and animals, is the fastest-growing agricultural industry in the world. The term refers to farming in all sorts of water environments, including ponds, rivers, lakes and controlled areas in the ocean. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 90 percent of these fish farms are located in developing countries, which often have warm, tropical environments, conducive to raising fish year-round.
A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Applied Ecology, however, shows that operations near the equator are also more prone to dangerous and rapid disease outbreaks that could wipe out entire stocks of fish.
LiveScience: Thirdhand Smoke Damages Human Cells
Bahar Gholipour, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 02:35 PM ET
Thirdhand smoke, the residue from cigarette smoke that lingers on surfaces and in dust long after the cigarette is out and the smoke has cleared, may damage human cells, a new study finds.
The researchers used two standard laboratory tests to assess the toxicity of thirdhand smoke. They showed that a compound found in smoke residue, called tobacco-specific nitrosamine, significantly damages DNA in human cells.
"This is the very first study to show that thirdhand smoke is mutagenic and causes DNA damage, which is considered as one of the first steps toward cancer," said study researcher Lara Gundel, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
LiveScience: Chicken in Teen Diet May Ward Off Colon Cancer
Bahar Gholipour, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 01:01 PM ET
Eating chicken during high school may reduce the risk of a precancerous condition that may develop into colon cancer, a new study finds.
In a study of nearly 20,000 women, those who ate more chicken during their teen years had lower risks of developing colorectal adenomas, which are benign tumors that may progress into colon cancer.
The researchers didn't find a direct relationship between red meat intake and adenomas, but the results showed that replacing one serving per day of red meat with one serving of poultry or fish may reduce the risks of rectal and advanced adenomas by about 40 percent.
LiveScience: New Electronics Can Withstand Bodily Fluids
Tanya Lewis, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 05:41 PM ET
Electronics and bodily fluids don't mix well. But new technology enables electronic devices to function in direct contact with tissues inside the body. The technology could allow scientists to make sensors that detect the early stages of organ transplant rejection, or create artificial nerves, researchers say.
Of course, many electronic devices already reside in the body — pacemakers, for example. But their electronics don't come in direct contact with bodily fluids because they are enclosed in hermetically sealed stainless steel and sprayed with chemicals that inhibit the body's immune response (which would otherwise reject them).
"What we're doing here is [developing] electronics working in concert with the body," study researcher Paul Berger, an electrical and computer engineer at Ohio State University in Columbus, told LiveScience. One of these is a protein sensor that "could be a sort of canary in a coal mine for transplant rejection," Berger said.
LiveScience: Flu Vaccine Prevented 13 Million Illnesses Over 6 Years
Rachael Rettner, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 05:01 PM ET
Seasonal flu shots have prevented about 13.6 million cases of illness over the last six years, according to new estimates from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The researchers analyzed information from each flu season between 2006 and 2011, including the number of flu illnesses and flu hospitalizations, as well as how well the vaccine worked and the total number of people who were vaccinated each year.
The analysis also revealed that flu vaccines prevented an estimated 5.8 million doctors' visits and 112,900 flu-related hospitalizations.
Inside Science News Service via LiveScience: Which Comes First -- Optimism Or Good Health?
Cassy Krueger, ISNS Contributor
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 07:53 PM ET
Boosting optimism, defined as the general expectation that the future will be favorable, could provide new ways to improve health, some researchers believe. But scientists remain unsure if optimism precedes health improvements, or vice versa.
Julia Boehm, a psychologist at Harvard University, and her colleagues performed what she describes as one of the first studies to investigate a measurable link between psychological and physiological health.
To test the correlation, researchers focused on the association between optimism and antioxidant concentration in the body. Antioxidants can help combat disease by neutralizing unstable molecules called free radicals.
LiveScience: Fiber-Optic Pen May Help Scientists Understand Dyslexia
Laura Poppick, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 01:06 PM ET
A new fiber-optic pen may help reveal the unique brain patterns in people with writing and reading disabilities, such as dyslexia.
Engineers at the University of Washington created the device by hollowing out a ballpoint pen and sticking two optical fibers through the center. One fiber emits light onto a writing pad that is customized with a continuous color gradient, while the second fiber transmits the light back to a color sensor in a nearby computer. By identifying changes in color as the pen moves across the pad, the computer records the path of the pen in a real-time movie.
"We need an absolute measure of where they are," said Frederick Reitz, an engineer involved in the project. "So we couldn't just use a checkerboard to determine relative motions. We really need to know where on the pad they put the pen down."
LiveScience: Eternal Sunshine of the Bionic Mind: Prosthesis Could Restore MemoryTanya Lewis, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 09:35 AM ET
NEW YORK — In the film "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," the characters undergo a scientific procedure to erase their memory. But what if instead of erasing memory, you could restore it? One neuroscientist aims to do just that.
Theodore Berger of the University of Southern California is developing a prosthesis to restore memory, by replacing a circuit in the brain's hippocampus. Berger described the device at the Global Future 2045 International Congress, held here June 15-16. Already successful in rats and monkeys, the prosthesis is now being tested in humans.
L.A. Times: Ruins of hidden Maya city, Chactun, discovered in Mexico
By Amina Khan
June 21, 2013, 7:12 p.m.
Deep in the jungles of Mexico, scientists have discovered a Maya city, complete with signs of pyramids, remnants of palace buildings and ball courts. This hidden archeological gem, named Chactún (which means “red stone” or “great stone”) was described by the country’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.
“It’s a total gap in the archeological map of the Maya area,” Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Sprajc, who led the team, said in a taped interview in Spanish.
Though the site, which dates between AD 600 and 900, remained undocumented amid the more than 80 other Maya sites that have been discovered in the area since 1996, it covers roughly 54 acres in the southeast of Campeche.
National Science Foundation via LiveScience: Stalagmites & Hieroglyphs: Investigating the Maya Demise
Jacqueline Conciatore, National Science Foundation
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 04:30 PM ET
You think you have interesting work, and indeed you may, but chances are it doesn't involve hieroglyphs, fieldwork at a Belize geological site, a 2,000-year-old stalagmite or coordinating a team of diverse experts across oceans to help solve a centuries-old mystery that may hold important lessons for us today.
But if this work, which is that of environmental archaeologist Douglas Kennett, sounds a little bit like Indiana Jones, it is in fact, often a slog. For his late 2012 published research related to the role of climate in the collapse of the Classic Maya (300 to 1000 C.E.), his team extracted and analyzed thousands of samples from a 2,000-year-old stalagmite.
"It was intensive, intensive work," says the Penn State professor. "In my lab there were students drilling samples 20 to 30 hours a week for a year."
LiveScience: 'Lost' Medieval City Discovered Beneath Cambodian Jungle
Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor
Date: 18 June 2013 Time: 12:50 PM ET
A lost city known only from inscriptions that existed some 1,200 years ago near Angkor in what is now Cambodia has been uncovered using airborne laser scanning.
The previously undocumented cityscape, called Mahendraparvata, is hidden beneath a dense forest on the holy mountain Phnom Kulen, which means "Mountain of the Lychees."
The cityscape came into clear view, along with a vast expanse of ancient urban spaces that made up Greater Angkor, the large area where one of the largest religious monuments ever constructed — Angkor Wat, meaning "temple city" — was built between A.D. 1113 and 1150.
LiveScience: How the Hairy-Chested 'Hoff' Crab Evolved
Douglas Main, Staff Writer
Date: 18 June 2013 Time: 07:03 PM ET
Yeti crabs don't comb their hair to look good — they do it because they're hungry.
These bizarre deep-sea animals grow their food in their own hair, trapping bacteria and letting it flourish there before "combing" it out and slurping it up. The crabs are found near cold seeps and hydrothermal vents, places where mineral-rich water spews out of the seafloor.
Like many animals that live in these extreme environments, yeti crabs have been thought of as "living fossils," largely isolated from the rest of world and, therefore, unchanged for eons. But new research shows these animals actually evolved relatively recently, suggesting the deep-sea environments the crabs call home may be more changeable than previously thought and more vulnerable to shifts in the atmosphere and climate, said Oxford University researcher Nicolai Roterman.
LiveScience: Building Explosion Will Shed Light on Nearby Earthquake Fault
Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 04:10 PM ET
A planned demolition of a building that can't endure California's earthquakes will also help geologists better understand a fault that could have destroyed the structure.
Sometime in August, contractors will implode Warren Hall at California State University, East Bay in Hayward, near San Francisco. The 13-story building was deemed the most seismically dangerous structure in the state university system by a seismic review board. Geologists plan to use the demolition to study the Hayward Fault, which runs just below campus and is due for an earthquake as strong as magnitude 7.0.
"Hayward is the one that worries us the most," said John Evans, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park, Calif. "It's in the midst of a heavy urban area with lots of lifelines going through it — power and water, roads and communications. It would be quite devastating if one or more of the segments of that fault go."
LiveScience: Mystery of Death Valley's 'Sailing Stones' Solved
Marc Lallanilla, Life's Little Mysteries Assistant Editor
Date: 17 June 2013 Time: 02:02 PM ET
For years, scientists have been puzzled by the mysterious "sailing stones" of Death Valley.
Located in a remote area of California's Death Valley National Park, the heavy stones appear to move across the dried lake bed known as Racetrack Playa, leaving a trail behind them in the cracked mud.
The rocks' apparent movement has been blamed on everything from space aliens and magnetic fields to pranksters. But no one has actually seen the rocks move, which only adds to the mystery.
The Guardian (UK): Solar-powered plane flying across US lands in Washington DC
June 16, 2013
It took nine minutes from the time the Solar Impulse first appeared in the midnight sky, lit up along the entire elegant swoop of its Airbus-size wings, to the moment the plane glided slowly and almost silently to a stop on the runway of Dulles airport in Washington.
At 00:23 on Sunday, Bertrand Piccard clambered out of the cockpit after a 14-hour flight fuelled by nothing but the sun and the photovoltaic cells along that vast wingspan. But as Piccard admitted, the technical demands of his improbable journey – in the first solar-powered aircraft to fly by night as well as day – made for a strange picture. "I was flipping the landing lights here and there to make you believe it was a UFO," he joked.
That spectacle of the Solar Impulse comes to a much broader audience on Sunday as the plane goes on limited display at the Smithsonian's Steven F Udvar-Hazy air and space museum.
LiveScience via Space.com: New 'Charmed' Particle Represents Rare State of Matter
Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 10:43 AM ET
A new type of particle may have shown up independently at two particle accelerators, physicists say. The particle, made of four quarks (the ingredients of protons and neutrons), appears to represent a state of matter previously unknown.
Signs of the particle were sighted at the Belle experiment in Japan and the Beijing Spectrometer Experiment (BESIII) in China. Scientists can't be sure what the particle is made of, or if it's even a single particle at all — there's a chance it could be two particles, each made of a pair of quarks, bound together. But nothing like it has been seen before, and the discovery offers the hope of clarifying the strange nature of quarks.
"It helps us understand how matter's put together, and it helps us understand this underlying theory of quark interactions," said Leo Piilonen, a physicist at Virginia Tech and a spokesperson for the Belle collaboration.
TechNewsDaily via LiveScience: Newly Magnetic Graphene Could Shrink Transistors
Katia Moskvitch, TechNewsDaily Contributor
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 12:15 PM ET
Is there a limit to what "miracle material" graphene cannot do? Its newly found property, magnetism that can be switched on and off, could pave the way to new transistor-like devices that are much smaller, consume less energy and have greater processing speeds than today's electronics.
Graphene is a two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb fashion, and it has already been dubbed the strongest, thinnest and most conductive material ever found.
Now, its newly discovered magnetic property could lead to the fabrication of devices based on the principle of spintronics, said Andre Geim of Manchester University in the United Kingdom, a co-author of the recent study. In 2010, Geim shared a Nobel Prize for extracting graphene from graphite, commonly used as lead in pencils, using plain old sticky tape.
Science Crime Scenes
TechNewsDaily via LiveScience: Verizon Denies Plan to Spy on Customers
Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 03:22 PM ET
Tracking call logs, Facebook posts and other electronic communications are child's play compared to a new wave of TV room monitoring proposed by Verizon. A supersmart, sensor-laden cable box could anticipate when you need anything from a cold beer to the services of a therapist.
Verizon filed a patent on just such a technology designed to serve up ads on your TV based on what you and others are doing, saying — and yes, feeling. Verizon said its technology would detect "ambient user actions," including "eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning and playing a musical instrument." It could also determine what's going on between two people, such as "cuddling, fighting, wrestling and talking."
The three inventors listed on the application are Brian F. Roberts (director of user experience design at Verizon and Redbox Digital Entertainment Services), Anthony M. Lemus (manager of convergence platforms at Verizon) and Michael D'Argenio (director of product design at Verizon Wireless). (Titles are those listed on each man's LinkedIn account.)
TechNewsDaily via LiveScience: How PRISM Sends Your Private Data Overseas
Chris Dignes, TechNewsDaily Contributor
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 11:03 AM ET
When defense contractor Edward Snowden leaked secret National Security Agency documents to the media on June 6, the initial public outcry focused on how America's communications intelligence service had kept track of the telephone, and possibly the online, activities of its own citizens.
Government officials quickly made clear that the online-activity-monitoring program revealed by Snowden, called PRISM, targeted only foreign nationals.
United States "persons" — citizens and residents protected by the Fourth Amendment — were said to not be part of its scope.
LapTopMag via LiveScience: You: 8 Ways to Disappear Online
Daniel Berg, Laptopmag.com
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 02:46 PM ET
If you've been watching the news lately, you know that your private online communications may not be so private. It's unclear exactly what data is collected by the NSA's PRISM surveillance program, but it's very existence has left many U.S. citizens feeling betrayed. In fact, according to a recent CNN poll, 6 in 10 people believe that the government is so large and powerful that it threatens the rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans.
Fortunately, there are ways users can take their privacy into their own hands, protecting their online activities and communication and telling the government to take a hike. From services that completely mask your online traffic to digital currencies that cannot be traced, here are eight tools that can protect against prying eyes.
LiveScience: Illegal Drone Business Thrives in US
by LiveScience.com, staff
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 04:45 PM ET
Popularized by their military applications, drones are now taking flight over U.S. skylines with at least hundreds of small, unmanned aircraft hard at work buzzing over football stadiums, Hollywood sets and farms. Despite regulations banning commercial drone use in the United States, a thriving black market is on the rise, sending the Federal Aviation Administration into a tailspin.
As the domestic debate over drones and associated privacy and safety issues heats up in Washington, D.C., companies aren't waiting for formal rules that would permit their commercial use. President Obama has mandated that Congress come up with rules that would permit commercial drone use, but they are not due until 2015.
A search on Google for "drones" turns up dozens of companies brazenly advertising drone-related services here in the United States. Drones for hire are used on Hollywood film sets (to get that overhead shot cheaply), to create promotional videos for real estate and to help farmers crop dust and keep a bird's-eye view on livestock.
Science, Space, Health, Environment, and Energy Policy
LiveScience: FDA Approves Teen Use of Plan B Without Prescription
Rachael Rettner, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 02:08 PM ET
Women of any age will now be able to buy the morning after pill at pharmacies without needing a prescription, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The agency said yesterday that it had approved Plan B One-Step — a type of emergency contraception — as a non-prescription drug for use in women who have the potential to bear children.
The drug can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure if taken within 72 hours. It contains a high dose of levonorgestrel, the same hormone found in most birth control pills.
Space.com: For NASA, Mars Beyond Reach Without Budget Boost
by Miriam Kramer, SPACE.com Staff Writer
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 03:47 PM ET
If NASA continues to be funded at its current levels, a manned mission to Mars could be permanently beyond reach, space industry experts say.
When asked how soon astronauts could potentially set foot on Mars under NASA's current budget constraints, Thomas Young, the former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin, says the outlook is bleak.
"With the current budget, bear with me, I would probably say never," Young said during a meeting of the U.S. House of Representative's space subcommittee today (June 19).
Space.com: Crowdfunding Raises $1 Million for Asteroid Miners' Public Space Telescope
by Robert Z. Pearlman, collectSPACE.com Editor
Date: 20 June 2013 Time: 01:29 PM ET
The world's first selfie-snapping, asteroid-hunting, public space telescope is $1 million closer to its launch into Earth orbit, having surpassed its initial crowdfunding goal.
Planetary Resources' online fundraising campaign soared past the seven-figure mark Wednesday evening (June 19), green-lighting the asteroid-mining company's plans to deploy a publicly accessible space telescope in 2015.
More than 11,000 people pledged at least $10 to the project, which promises to not only capture images of its supporters' selected astronomical targets with the Arkyd space telescope, but also photograph their submitted self-portraits ("Space Selfies") on a digital screen mounted on the outside of the small satellite.
Space.com: China Readying 1st Moon Rover for Launch This Year
by Leonard David, SPACE.com’s Space Insider Columnist
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 06:40 AM ET
As three Chinese astronauts zip around the Earth aboard a prototype space station, the country is gearing up to launch its first moon rover in the coming months.
China's robotic Chang'e 3 mission, reportedly slated to blast off toward the end of 2013, marks a big step forward in the nation's lunar exploration program. Chang'e 3 will become China's first craft to attempt a soft landing and rover deployment on the surface of the moon.
China’s multi-phase moon venture began with the orbiters Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2, which launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Now Chinese space program officials are ready to shift to phase two.
LiveScience: Will Climate Change Destroy New York City?
Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 10:29 AM ET
The city of New York — America's largest metropolis and home to over 8 million people — will be ravaged by the effects of climate change within a few years.
That's the bleak scenario presented by a recent 430-page report developed by a blue-ribbon panel of academics, environmental planners and government officials.
Released this month, the report, nicknamed "SIRR" for Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, presents an ambitious plan for managing the worst effects of global warming, which include flooding, rising temperatures and extreme storms.
National Science Foundation via LiveScience: Film Brings Science Home, Highlights Remarkable Backyard Bird
Lily Whiteman, National Science Foundation
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 11:25 AM ET
A new educational, entertaining and inspirational film, Ordinary Extraordinary Junco: Remarkable Biology from a Backyard Bird, reveals just how much can be learned from the Junco — one of the most common and abundant, yet amazing and diverse, songbirds in North America.
Packaged with complementary educational resources and downloadable from a permanent web portal, this visually beautiful documentary may be shown in screenings or classes, particularly those at the high school and college level.
"Ordinary Extraordinary Junco should be shown in every high school biology classroom," said Jabin Burnworth, a science teacher at Manchester High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. "It is exactly how an educational film should be made."
Science Writing and Reporting
Space.com: Astronaut Wives: New Book Reveals True Story of Space Spouses
by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Assistant Managing Editor
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 12:57 PM ET
NEW YORK — The American heroes of the space race are well-known: Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and more. But less well-known are a second set of heroes that are only now getting their due: the wives.Space.com has an interview wtih the author in Secrets of Astronaut Wives: Q&A With Author Lily Koppel.
A new book based on interviews with dozens of the wives of NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts finally tells the story of the home front that made the moon missions possible. Lily Koppel, author of "The Astronaut Wives Club" (Grand Central Publishing, June 2013), spoke June 17 here at the Forbes Galleries.
"I felt that they really deserved a place in history that they really hadn't been given," Koppel said of the subjects of her book. "It just somehow didn't make it into the history books, partly because so many of the marriages fell apart."
LiveScience: Psychiatry's New Guide: 6 Things You Should Know
Bahar Gholipour, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 09:13 PM ET
The newest edition of the diagnostic guidelines for psychiatry, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), was published in May.
The manual, which is devised and published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), lists the criteria for the diagnosis of various psychiatric disorders. Treatment recommendations, as well as payment by health care providers, can be based on the DSM.
Huge debate surrounds the precise definitions of mental health disorders in the book, as well as the removal of disorders from the book, and the addition of new ones. Each change can affect many people.
Several of the changes in the new edition are controversial, and have triggered continued debate, even after the publication of DSM-5.
Science is Cool
Newsarama via Space.com: STAR WARS: EPISODE VII Casting Details Revealed
by Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer
Date: 21 June 2013 Time: 11:21 AM ET
It looks like we're finally getting some details on what to expect from Star Wars: Episode VII, the J.J. Abrams-directed first film of both the sequel trilogy and the Disney/Lucasfilm era.
First seen on Bleeding Cool — who call the following "100 precent confirmed" — here are casting breakdowns of what's described as 'lead characters" for the film, with casting reportedly starting on Wednesday in the United Kingdom:
Space.com: TV's 'Futurama' Launches Final Episodes Tonight
by Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior Writer
Date: 19 June 2013 Time: 06:30 AM ET
It's the end of the road yet again for "Futurama."
The second half of the final season of the animated science fiction series launches tonight (June 19) on Comedy Central, beginning the latest swan song for a show that's famous for coming back from the dead.
"If it is the end, we feel good," series executive producer David X. Cohen said during a conference call with reporters earlier this month. "It will be our best 'last season ever' ever."
annetteboardman is off again this week.