18 January 2006

Today in the Science News

Irish king has three million descendants:
Sometimes I just know a story will appeal to my readership. Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 5th-century warlord, is the ancestor of about 1 in 12 Irishmen, based on a study of the Y chromosome. Pretty impressive.

Among the names of families that trace their ancestry to Niall: O'Reilly.

New ion engine very powerful and fuel-efficient:
The ESA is testing a design for a new ion engine that produces an exhaust plume more than 10 times as fast as that in SMART-1's engine. If it survives the testing, it could be an excellent choice for a trip to Mars.

New Horizons roundup:
New Scientist's story on the scrub here, Space.com's story here, and Space.com's mission update page here. (It updates through the day. Or you can watch NASA TV.)

New Horizons will reach Pluto sometime around July 2015, assuming it does launch in time to use Jupiter for a slingshot. If not, it'll get there around 2020.

Stardust landed safely, will be opened:
It's been sent to NASA JSC to be opened in a clean room. A very, very clean room.

Face transplant patient did have a rejection episode:
But apparently she overcame it, and is doing very well. I personally think this is the money paragraph (so to speak):
"I want to have this thing clear on this point," Dubernard said. "We are doctors. We did it to aid the patient, not to make beaucoup," he said, rubbing his thumb and index finger together to mean money.
I dunno, something about the mental image just made me laugh. Anyway, I'm very glad that people who have suffered burns or animal bites or something similar can now look forward to the possibility of having a new face.

Looks like Hwang Woo-suk has himself a new job!:
There's only one catch. He would be working for a bunch of f'n lunatics that think humans are descended from clones of interstellar visitors and claim to have created six clones but refuse to provide any proof.

The not-providing-any-proof thing does sort of fit with Hwang Woo-suk's modus operandi, though.

Mars Mars Mars Mars MARS!!:
Sorry, I get so excited. Anyway, this is a pretty good story about the Mars Science Laboratory, due to launch in a few years and arrive at Mars in 2010. The article also mentions Mr. O, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will arrive at Mars later this spring, although getting into low Mars orbit will take a while. And Spirit and Opportunity are still going strong.

Yogurt bacteria modified to prevent HIV infection:
"Cyanovirin could be put into gels that women would apply to the vagina before sex." Or - and I know this is a crazy and wild idea - women could not have sex with people who have AIDS.


Women's armpit odors vary across their cycle:
I feel sorry for the men who had to sniff the cotton pads that the women had been wearing under their arms. But apparently women smell more enticing when they are about to ovulate.

Didn't we already know about the variation in armpit chemical production? Because I seem to recall reading a study that said women's cycles harmonize when they live together because of a chemical that's excreted through the armpit. I also seem to recall that the chemical was odorless, but that other women had receptors for it.

Bigfoot not found during woodpecker search:
I find myself wondering what the Skeptical Inquirer thinks of the Elmendorf Creature. I'm leaning toward the chupacabra theory myself.

That's about it for science news today. Have a look around the blogosphere for more interesting stories.


Blogger Jack Michaels said...

Pluto is a planet, my dear Mrs. Peel.

And I shall fight like a medieval knight in defense of a fair maiden's virtue before I shall ever concede the point.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

Well, would you at least concede that if it is a planet, it's a double planet?

7:21 PM  
Blogger Jack Michaels said...


I concede nothing. Yet.

Yes, I know that Charon is rather large for a "moon" in relation to its "planet".

But then so is our moon, and I will not buy the argument that the Earth/Moon is more appropriately a "double planet" system, which is an argument that some who throw this appelation upon Pluto also make.

Plus, Pluto has just been discovered to have at least one more additional moon. Which strengthens it's status as a planet in my book, as it appears it's gravitational pull is what both Charon and this new moon key off of.

But I'm open to discuss the issue. Stop by my blog sometime MP. Since I give your blog hits (well, me anyway!) the least you could do is return the favor. :)

8:47 PM  

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