Planet with long period found circling Kepler-56, scientists say | Eta Carinae binary star is rare, but not unique, astronomers say | Sense of smell important for sharks to navigate, study suggests
 
January 7, 2016
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Planet with long period found circling Kepler-56, scientists say
A third planet appears to be orbiting the star Kepler-56, according to findings reported at the American Astronomical Society meeting. The planet, observed using radial velocity data gathered by the Kepler Space Telescope, has almost six times the mass of Jupiter and a period of approximately three Earth years. Forbes (1/6)
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Making science stick
Hands-on learning in the science classroom sets objects and concepts within a real-world context. Students connect theory to experience and learning sticks. Get more insights on effective science instruction from the Smithsonian's Carol O'Donnell in this SmartFocus on Hands-on Science.
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Science in the News
Eta Carinae binary star is rare, but not unique, astronomers say
The massive Eta Carinae binary star isn't the only one of its kind, according to findings presented at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Scientists have found five so-called twins to the giant binary star using archived images from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. "Eta Carinae is not unique ... It happens in nature. However, it's very, very rare. This is the first time we can quantitatively say just how rare Eta Carinae is," said NASA's Rubab Khan. Discovery (1/6)
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Sense of smell important for sharks to navigate, study suggests
Sharks may navigate the ocean by using their sense of smell, a new study published in PLOS ONE suggests. Scientists followed wild leopard sharks, some of which had their noses blocked, after relocating them some distance from their favorite habitat, and noted how the ones with blocked noses seemed lost while the unblocked sharks headed straight back to their stomping grounds. Researchers acknowledge that sharks use many cues to navigate, but they say their work shows how smell plays a significant role. National Geographic News (free registration) (1/6)
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Crows gather around dead comrades to learn about threats, study finds
Crows notice and react whenever they see a dead crow, assessing the potential danger to themselves and scolding any humans or possible predators nearby, a new study suggests. Researchers say the birds' interactions with their dead comrades help them "to assess danger and trigger anti-predator behaviors," the study published in Animal Behavior reads. Scientists noted the birds had an indifferent response when the corpse was a bird other than a crow. LiveScience.com (1/6)
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Science weighs in on North Korea's hydrogen bomb test
Science can tell us many things about North Korea's claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. Experts can say that the earthquake that occurred in the area around the time of the explosion was not a natural quake, that the blast seemed to be nuclear and originated from the nation's nuclear testing site. Experts also say that the test was likely not successful, but that they can't rule out that it was a hydrogen bomb. Science News (1/6)
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Malaria drug shows promise as Ebola treatment; survivors' blood doesn't
A malaria drug has shown promise in treating the Ebola virus, lowering a patient's risk of dying by one third, according to a new study. A separate study has found, however, that treating Ebola with the blood of survivors is not likely to improve a patient's survival chances. "After two years of the largest Ebola epidemic, and despite several promising therapeutic candidates, we still lack good evidence that any of these drugs work," said Dr. Iza Ciglenecki, an author of the malaria drug study. LiveScience.com (1/6)
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Gout tied to greater risk of atrial fibrillation, study finds
UK research found gout was associated with greater risk of atrial fibrillation, according to a study in the journal Rheumatology. Researchers said the association could be related to hyperuricemia because evidence suggests uric acid may help in the atrial remodeling process that increases the risk of atrial fibrillation. MedPage Today (free registration) (1/4)
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Funding Watch
University of Rochester to study photonics with grant
Quantum photonics research at the University of Rochester has received a $411,738 funding boost. The award was announced by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who says the university's research will help develop a new generation of photonic devices. Rochester Business Journal (N.Y.) (1/6)
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Texas university to study veterans' brain injuries with $1.24M grant
The Office of Naval Research has awarded a $1.24 million grant to the University of Texas at Arlington to study brain injuries in veterans. Michael Cho, the university's bioengineering chair, is overseeing the research, which focuses on blast shockwaves that cause energy bubbles in the brain. "If we are successful we should have a clear understanding of the physiological mechanisms that are responsible for causing this micro-sized damage to the brain," said Cho. KTVT-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth) (1/6)
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