NASA plans to send a spacecraft to study the sun up close next summer, blasting off on July 31, 2018. The Parker Solar Probe, named for astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will execute 24 close flybys over seven years and will take pictures, measure the sun's magnetic and electric fields and examine solar wind, among other tasks.
A new species of glass frog, so named because its underside is transparent, exposing some of its organs, has been found in Ecuador and is described online in ZooKeys. The underside of Hyalinobatrachium yaku is so transparent that its tiny heart is visible, a characteristic that has only been found in two other glass frog species.
Some sea scorpions that lived 430 million years ago sported a flexible, serrated spine on their tails that they may have used as a weapon to protect themselves or subdue prey, according to a study published in The American Naturalist. Researchers were surprised to find an extremely bendable sword-like tail on a Slimonia acuminata fossil found in Scotland, suggesting the creature used it for more than just swimming.
The crack on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica is close to breaking off one of the largest icebergs ever, and scientists are concerned that the break will cause the ice shelf to collapse. The crack, which has been progressing for years, is expanding swiftly, growing 17 miles, or about 27 kilometers, in the last week alone, and is within eight miles, or about 13 kilometers, from the breaking-off point.
Scientists have examined the remains of some soldiers from the Thirty Years' War found in a mass grave in Germany to determine how they died, according to findings published in PLOS ONE. Many of the 47 skeletons studied showed signs of previous battle trauma before they received their fatal blows in the 1632 Battle of Lutzen, with many dying of gunshot wounds.
Archaeologists have found four 2,400-year-old ceramic female heads in Lebanon, described in the Journal of Oriental Archaeology. The heads were found in what's believed to have been an ancient dump and were likely thrown out when the place where they were used was redecorated, researchers say.
Babies born in withdrawal from opioids taken by their mothers during pregnancy may do better if cared for by their parents rather than in a loud, busy hospital unit, according to some pediatricians. "What withdrawing babies need is a calm, quiet, dark place where they can be held by a caring individual," says Dr. Alison Holmes, a New Hampshire pediatrician.
Carrying an extra 4.3 inches of fat at the waistline was associated with a 13% higher risk of developing an obesity-related cancer, while an extra 3.1 inches at the hips was linked to a 15% increased risk, according to study data on almost 43,000 people. The findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer.
A round of funding has pulled in approximately $6.7 million for UK-based minimally invasive surgery technology developer Alesi Surgical. The proceeds will be used for the company's commercial expansion into the US and other global markets, as well as to support additional research and development efforts for Ultravision, a system that uses electrostatic technology to clear surgical smoke in laparoscopic procedures.
The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $58 million grant to the University of Michigan to fund the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research. The funding, however, is dependent on congressional appropriations in the future.
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