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ChannelYahoo News - Latest News & Headlines    
RSS File: https://news.yahoo.com/rss/science
Description: The latest news and headlines from Yahoo! News. Get breaking news stories and in-depth coverage with videos and photos.
  • Archaeologists discover pristine ancient Roman mosaic floor buried under piles of vines      Wed, 27 May 2020 15:17:14 -0400

    Archaeologists discover pristine ancient Roman mosaic floor buried under piles of vinesArchaeologists have revisited an ancient Roman dig site that hasn't been touched in a century — and found something incredible underneath.In a vineyard outside the Italian city of Verona, under several feet of vines and dirt, researchers have uncovered what appears to be a perfectly preserved mosaic floor and pieces of a villa foundation dating back to the third century A.D. Surveyors in the commune of Negrar di Valpolicella north of Verona shared images of the site, providing a glimpse at a discovery that's largely still hidden beneath the dirt, BBC reports.Archaeologists first mapped out what appeared to be the remains of an ancient Roman villa outside Verona back in 1922 before the site was abandoned. The Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona decided to revisit the site last October and again in February, but their efforts to unearth the site were cut short when COVID-19 arrived in Italy, the Guardian reports. Excavation resumed last week and, by Monday, there was something incredible to show for their efforts. There's still a lot of careful work to be done before the whole floor and foundation can be revealed — along with some careful negotiation with the owners of the vineyard now growing on top of this ancient discovery.More stories from theweek.com Amy Klobuchar declined to prosecute officer at center of George Floyd's death after previous conduct complaints Minneapolis official calls for naming 'disease' of racism a public health issue after George Floyd death Trump retweets video declaring 'the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat'


    Archaeologists discover pristine ancient Roman mosaic floor buried under piles of vinesArchaeologists have revisited an ancient Roman dig site that hasn't been touched in a century — and found something incredible underneath.In a vineyard outside the Italian city of Verona, under several feet of vines and dirt, researchers have uncovered what appears to be a perfectly preserved mosaic floor and pieces of a villa foundation dating back to the third century A.D. Surveyors in the commune of Negrar di Valpolicella north of Verona shared images of the site, providing a glimpse at a discovery that's largely still hidden beneath the dirt, BBC reports.Archaeologists first mapped out what appeared to be the remains of an ancient Roman villa outside Verona back in 1922 before the site was abandoned. The Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona decided to revisit the site last October and again in February, but their efforts to unearth the site were cut short when COVID-19 arrived in Italy, the Guardian reports. Excavation resumed last week and, by Monday, there was something incredible to show for their efforts. There's still a lot of careful work to be done before the whole floor and foundation can be revealed — along with some careful negotiation with the owners of the vineyard now growing on top of this ancient discovery.More stories from theweek.com Amy Klobuchar declined to prosecute officer at center of George Floyd's death after previous conduct complaints Minneapolis official calls for naming 'disease' of racism a public health issue after George Floyd death Trump retweets video declaring 'the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat'


     

  • In lean times, fierce dinosaur Allosaurus resorted to cannibalism      Thu, 28 May 2020 02:24:03 -0400

    In lean times, fierce dinosaur Allosaurus resorted to cannibalismThe dreaded dinosaur Allosaurus was the scourge of the Jurassic Period landscape some 150 million years ago, an apex predator just as Tyrannosaurus rex was 80 million years later during the Cretaceous Period. The researchers unearthed 2,368 fossil bones including several different dinosaurs and other creatures. Remarkably, 29% of the bones bore evidence of bite marks, a much-higher percentage than usual, indicative of heavy scavenging in what may have been a stressed ecosystem caused by a seasonal drought or potentially a wildfire.


    In lean times, fierce dinosaur Allosaurus resorted to cannibalismThe dreaded dinosaur Allosaurus was the scourge of the Jurassic Period landscape some 150 million years ago, an apex predator just as Tyrannosaurus rex was 80 million years later during the Cretaceous Period. The researchers unearthed 2,368 fossil bones including several different dinosaurs and other creatures. Remarkably, 29% of the bones bore evidence of bite marks, a much-higher percentage than usual, indicative of heavy scavenging in what may have been a stressed ecosystem caused by a seasonal drought or potentially a wildfire.


     

  • SpaceX postpones historic launch due to weather      Thu, 28 May 2020 07:46:02 -0400

    SpaceX postpones historic launch due to weatherThe next attempt to launch will be Saturday afternoon, after weather conditions forced a delay.


    SpaceX postpones historic launch due to weatherThe next attempt to launch will be Saturday afternoon, after weather conditions forced a delay.


     

  • Armed with massive data pools, genealogy companies Ancestry, 23andMe begin COVID-19 research      Wed, 27 May 2020 09:58:31 -0400

    Armed with massive data pools, genealogy companies Ancestry, 23andMe begin COVID-19 researchWith 16 million people who've already spit in vials and sent them to Ancestry for genetic testing, the company knew it had a potentially useful data set.


    Armed with massive data pools, genealogy companies Ancestry, 23andMe begin COVID-19 researchWith 16 million people who've already spit in vials and sent them to Ancestry for genetic testing, the company knew it had a potentially useful data set.


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: Evolution of the spacesuit      Thu, 28 May 2020 11:50:04 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: Evolution of the spacesuitHow SpaceX's stylish spacesuit differs from other attire flown by astronauts.


    Nasa SpaceX launch: Evolution of the spacesuitHow SpaceX's stylish spacesuit differs from other attire flown by astronauts.


     

  • World's deepest octopus captured on camera      Thu, 28 May 2020 19:09:27 -0400

    World's deepest octopus captured on cameraA "Dumbo" octopus is photographed at a depth of 7,000m in the Indian Ocean's Java Trench.


    World's deepest octopus captured on cameraA "Dumbo" octopus is photographed at a depth of 7,000m in the Indian Ocean's Java Trench.


     

  • Biggest UK solar plant approved      Thu, 28 May 2020 12:33:28 -0400

    Biggest UK solar plant approvedClimate change: Go-ahead for controversial solar farm - the UK's biggest


    Biggest UK solar plant approvedClimate change: Go-ahead for controversial solar farm - the UK's biggest


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: How we got to this point      Thu, 28 May 2020 11:51:02 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: How we got to this pointWhy is SpaceX launching astronauts to the International Space Station for Nasa?


    Nasa SpaceX launch: How we got to this pointWhy is SpaceX launching astronauts to the International Space Station for Nasa?


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: Big day called off because of weather      Wed, 27 May 2020 21:54:17 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: Big day called off because of weatherA late decision is made to delay the first astronaut launch to orbit from US soil in nine years.


    Nasa SpaceX launch: Big day called off because of weatherA late decision is made to delay the first astronaut launch to orbit from US soil in nine years.


     

  • Weather forces delay for SpaceX’s historic launch of NASA’s first Dragon riders to the space station      Wed, 27 May 2020 17:04:40 -0400

    Weather forces delay for SpaceX’s historic launch of NASA’s first Dragon riders to the space stationThe countdown for SpaceX's first crewed launch to the International Space Station ran down to less than 17 minutes, but because the weather didn't cooperate, history will have to wait until Saturday at the earliest. SpaceX called off the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken sitting inside the Crew Dragon capsule on top, and President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence waiting in the wings. Liftoff would have marked the first-ever use of a privately owned spaceship for a crewed orbital launch, the first launch of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil… Read More


    Weather forces delay for SpaceX’s historic launch of NASA’s first Dragon riders to the space stationThe countdown for SpaceX's first crewed launch to the International Space Station ran down to less than 17 minutes, but because the weather didn't cooperate, history will have to wait until Saturday at the earliest. SpaceX called off the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken sitting inside the Crew Dragon capsule on top, and President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence waiting in the wings. Liftoff would have marked the first-ever use of a privately owned spaceship for a crewed orbital launch, the first launch of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil… Read More


     

  • 'Billions of years of evolutionary history' under threat      Wed, 27 May 2020 04:39:52 -0400

    'Billions of years of evolutionary history' under threat'Weird and wonderful' animals unlike anything else on Earth are sliding toward extinction, say scientists.


    'Billions of years of evolutionary history' under threat'Weird and wonderful' animals unlike anything else on Earth are sliding toward extinction, say scientists.


     

  • Record drop in energy investment, warns International Energy Agency      Wed, 27 May 2020 03:59:53 -0400

    Record drop in energy investment, warns International Energy AgencyThe pandemic has caused a record fall in energy investment and will likely lead to more pollution.


    Record drop in energy investment, warns International Energy AgencyThe pandemic has caused a record fall in energy investment and will likely lead to more pollution.


     

  • Dinosaur asteroid's trajectory was 'perfect storm'      Wed, 27 May 2020 03:51:04 -0400

    Dinosaur asteroid's trajectory was 'perfect storm'The angle at which a life-destroying space rock hit Earth 66 million years ago was particularly lethal.


    Dinosaur asteroid's trajectory was 'perfect storm'The angle at which a life-destroying space rock hit Earth 66 million years ago was particularly lethal.


     

  • A-Alpha Bio wins $620,000 grant to work on ‘molecular glue’ for treating disease      Tue, 26 May 2020 19:52:09 -0400

    A-Alpha Bio wins $620,000 grant to work on ‘molecular glue’ for treating diseaseA-Alpha Bio, a Seattle venture that began at the University of Washington, has won a $620,472 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a system that identifies molecules capable of taking disease-causing proteins out of circulation. The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant, awarded on April 30, follows up on an earlier Phase I grant focusing on molecular glue. Such molecules are designed to "glue" a target protein onto another type of protein known as an E3 ubiquitin ligase. The ubiquitin molecules serve as chemical tags that basically tell the cell, "Get rid of the protein that I'm… Read More


    A-Alpha Bio wins $620,000 grant to work on ‘molecular glue’ for treating diseaseA-Alpha Bio, a Seattle venture that began at the University of Washington, has won a $620,472 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a system that identifies molecules capable of taking disease-causing proteins out of circulation. The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant, awarded on April 30, follows up on an earlier Phase I grant focusing on molecular glue. Such molecules are designed to "glue" a target protein onto another type of protein known as an E3 ubiquitin ligase. The ubiquitin molecules serve as chemical tags that basically tell the cell, "Get rid of the protein that I'm… Read More


     

  • Epic 7,500-mile cuckoo migration wows scientists      Tue, 26 May 2020 17:45:36 -0400

    Epic 7,500-mile cuckoo migration wows scientistsScientists have tracked a cuckoo's migratory flight from Africa to its breeding ground in Mongolia.


    Epic 7,500-mile cuckoo migration wows scientistsScientists have tracked a cuckoo's migratory flight from Africa to its breeding ground in Mongolia.


     

  • European contract signed for Moon mission hardware      Tue, 26 May 2020 05:36:32 -0400

    European contract signed for Moon mission hardwareWhen astronauts go back to the Moon in 2024, they'll be using European hardware to get there.


    European contract signed for Moon mission hardwareWhen astronauts go back to the Moon in 2024, they'll be using European hardware to get there.


     

  • Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Orbit rocket fails on debut flight      Tue, 26 May 2020 01:59:55 -0400

    Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Orbit rocket fails on debut flightA California company owned by UK businessman Sir Richard Branson fails to launch a rocket to orbit.


    Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Orbit rocket fails on debut flightA California company owned by UK businessman Sir Richard Branson fails to launch a rocket to orbit.


     

  • Space debris: Smart solutions sought to make orbital traffic safer      Tue, 26 May 2020 01:43:40 -0400

    Space debris: Smart solutions sought to make orbital traffic saferThe UK Space Agency is seeking novel ideas to track all the pieces of debris now moving in orbit.


    Space debris: Smart solutions sought to make orbital traffic saferThe UK Space Agency is seeking novel ideas to track all the pieces of debris now moving in orbit.


     

  • NASA signs off on historic SpaceX crewed launch, leaving weather as final uncertainty      Mon, 25 May 2020 21:58:08 -0400

    NASA signs off on historic SpaceX crewed launch, leaving weather as final uncertaintyMission managers have cleared the final paperwork for SpaceX's first-ever crewed launch, aimed at sending two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. The stage is now set for the first NASA mission to send humans into orbit from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011. Only one big question remained after today's launch readiness review, which looked at all the technical issues surrounding Wednesday's scheduled liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "We're burning down the final paper," Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, told… Read More


    NASA signs off on historic SpaceX crewed launch, leaving weather as final uncertaintyMission managers have cleared the final paperwork for SpaceX's first-ever crewed launch, aimed at sending two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. The stage is now set for the first NASA mission to send humans into orbit from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011. Only one big question remained after today's launch readiness review, which looked at all the technical issues surrounding Wednesday's scheduled liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "We're burning down the final paper," Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, told… Read More


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: 10 questions about the mission      Mon, 25 May 2020 20:23:29 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: 10 questions about the missionBBC News answers questions about the first orbital launch of astronauts from US soil in nine years.


    Nasa SpaceX launch: 10 questions about the missionBBC News answers questions about the first orbital launch of astronauts from US soil in nine years.


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: What's the mission plan?      Mon, 25 May 2020 19:20:56 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: What's the mission plan?These are the key phases in the first crew mission to go to orbit from the US in nine years.


    Nasa SpaceX launch: What's the mission plan?These are the key phases in the first crew mission to go to orbit from the US in nine years.


     

  • Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket misses going to space during its first air launch      Mon, 25 May 2020 16:25:55 -0400

    Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket misses going to space during its first air launchA new breed of launch vehicle had a shaky first outing today when Virgin Orbit released its LauncherOne rocket from a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet flying over the Pacific Ocean for its first blastoff. "We've confirmed a clean release from the aircraft," Virgin Orbit reported in a tweet. "However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight." In a follow-up Twitter thread, Virgin Orbit said the rocket maintained its stability after release and fired up its first-stage engine. "An anomaly then occurred early in first-stage flight," the company said. The carrier airplane, known as Cosmic Girl, and its crew landed… Read More


    Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket misses going to space during its first air launchA new breed of launch vehicle had a shaky first outing today when Virgin Orbit released its LauncherOne rocket from a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet flying over the Pacific Ocean for its first blastoff. "We've confirmed a clean release from the aircraft," Virgin Orbit reported in a tweet. "However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight." In a follow-up Twitter thread, Virgin Orbit said the rocket maintained its stability after release and fired up its first-stage engine. "An anomaly then occurred early in first-stage flight," the company said. The carrier airplane, known as Cosmic Girl, and its crew landed… Read More


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronauts complete rehearsal for historic mission      Sun, 24 May 2020 11:44:03 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronauts complete rehearsal for historic missionDoug Hurley and Bob Behnken ready themselves and their kit for Wednesday's flight to the space station.


    Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronauts complete rehearsal for historic missionDoug Hurley and Bob Behnken ready themselves and their kit for Wednesday's flight to the space station.


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: Who are the astronauts?      Sat, 23 May 2020 22:47:16 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: Who are the astronauts?BBC News profiles the space travellers who will launch in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule on Wednesday.


    Nasa SpaceX launch: Who are the astronauts?BBC News profiles the space travellers who will launch in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule on Wednesday.


     

  • NASA and SpaceX rehearse for big launch day, complete with a Tesla ride to the pad      Sat, 23 May 2020 18:50:38 -0400

    NASA and SpaceX rehearse for big launch day, complete with a Tesla ride to the padNASA and SpaceX put astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken and the rest of the team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida through a "dry dress rehearsal" today in preparation for next week's historic launch to the International Space Station. The simulated countdown covered all of the steps on the timeline for sending the two astronauts on the first-ever crewed trip into space aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon, up to the point of loading propellants into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A. Hurley and Behnken rode to the pad in a NASA-branded Tesla Model X SUV ⁠— which… Read More


    NASA and SpaceX rehearse for big launch day, complete with a Tesla ride to the padNASA and SpaceX put astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken and the rest of the team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida through a "dry dress rehearsal" today in preparation for next week's historic launch to the International Space Station. The simulated countdown covered all of the steps on the timeline for sending the two astronauts on the first-ever crewed trip into space aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon, up to the point of loading propellants into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A. Hurley and Behnken rode to the pad in a NASA-branded Tesla Model X SUV ⁠— which… Read More


     

  • Nasa SpaceX crew mission cleared to launch      Sat, 23 May 2020 03:54:52 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX crew mission cleared to launchA review panel finds no technical reason to delay the first US orbital crew launch in nine years.


    Nasa SpaceX crew mission cleared to launchA review panel finds no technical reason to delay the first US orbital crew launch in nine years.


     

  • Antarctic algal blooms: 'Green snow' mapped from space      Fri, 22 May 2020 18:20:30 -0400

    Antarctic algal blooms: 'Green snow' mapped from spaceUK scientists create the first wide-area maps of microscopic algae growing in coastal Antarctica.


    Antarctic algal blooms: 'Green snow' mapped from spaceUK scientists create the first wide-area maps of microscopic algae growing in coastal Antarctica.


     

  • NASA gives crucial thumbs-up to SpaceX’s historic crewed flight to space station      Fri, 22 May 2020 17:43:43 -0400

    NASA gives crucial thumbs-up to SpaceX’s historic crewed flight to space stationNASA today signed off on the first launch to send a crew into orbit from U.S. soil in nearly nine years, and the rocket for that launch had its final test firing. After reviewing mission plans for a day and a half, mission managers cleared SpaceX to send NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station at 4:33 p.m. ET (1:33 p.m. PT) Wednesday. "We had a very successful flight readiness review, in that we did a thorough review of all the systems and all the risks," NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, who presided over this… Read More


    NASA gives crucial thumbs-up to SpaceX’s historic crewed flight to space stationNASA today signed off on the first launch to send a crew into orbit from U.S. soil in nearly nine years, and the rocket for that launch had its final test firing. After reviewing mission plans for a day and a half, mission managers cleared SpaceX to send NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station at 4:33 p.m. ET (1:33 p.m. PT) Wednesday. "We had a very successful flight readiness review, in that we did a thorough review of all the systems and all the risks," NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, who presided over this… Read More


     

  • 'Expect More': Climate Change Raises Risk of Dam Failures      Fri, 22 May 2020 15:15:32 -0400

    'Expect More': Climate Change Raises Risk of Dam FailuresThe dam that failed in central Michigan on Tuesday gave way for the same reason most do: It was overwhelmed by water. Almost 5 inches of rain fell in the area in the previous two days, after earlier storms had saturated the ground and swollen the Tittabawassee River, which the dam held back.No one can say yet whether the intense rainfall that preceded this disaster was made worse by climate change. But global warming is already causing some regions to become wetter, and increasing the frequency of extreme storms, according to the latest National Climate Assessment. The trends are expected to continue as the world gets even warmer.That puts more of the nation's 91,500 dams at risk of failing, engineers and dam safety experts said."We should expect more of these down the road," said Amir AghaKouchak, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California, Irvine. "It's unfortunate but this is what the trend is going to be."Overall, he and others say, dams in the United States and elsewhere are unprepared for the changes coming in a warming world.The dam that failed Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of about 40,000 people in and around Midland, Michigan, and threatening a chemical complex and toxic waste cleanup site, was designed a century ago, long before climate change was a concern.The dam, at Edenville Township, about 30 miles upstream from Midland, had severe design problems: It had been cited for having spillways that were inadequate to handle a maximum flood, whether affected by climate change or not. (A second dam at Sanford, 10 miles downstream, was overrun by the arriving floodwaters but did not collapse.)But the Edenville Dam was hardly alone in being outdated, with design or maintenance deficiencies or other problems that might make it unsafe. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its latest report card on infrastructure in 2017, gave the nation's dams a "D" grade.The average age of dams in the United States is nearly 60. And nationwide, about 15,500 are classified as having a high hazard potential; in Michigan, more than 170 dams are in that category, as was the Edenville Dam. Repairing and upgrading high-hazard dams alone could cost tens of billions of dollars.Since the mid-19th century there has been an average of about 10 dam failures a year in the United States, said Martin W. McCann Jr., a civil engineer who directs the National Performance of Dams Program at Stanford University. More than 90% of failed dams are less than about 50 feet high. (Edenville was 54 feet tall.)Rivers and reservoirs swollen by rainfall are the cause of most of the failures. "It's not a new thing per se," McCann said.But some recent dam episodes have been shown to have a climate change link. In February 2017, at Oroville Dam in California, the tallest in the nation, heavy mountain runoff into the reservoir led to the near-failure of an emergency spillway and severe damage to the main spillway. Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated as a precaution and repairs cost more than $1 billion.A later study found that human-caused warming had increased early season runoff in the Sierra Nevada, contributing to the high water levels at the dam.And there is little doubt that extreme rainfall events are getting more frequent. The fourth National Climate Assessment, issued in 2018, showed that the number of heavy precipitation two-day events has increased in all regions except the Southwest since the early 1900s. And since 1950, extreme events increased by more than 50% in the Midwest.But Bill McCormick, who is in charge of dam safety for the state of Colorado and is the incoming president of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, said short-duration extreme precipitation wasn't the only problem.Rainfall of longer duration but less intensity -- an overall wetter climate, which climate models forecast for parts of the United States in coming decades -- can contribute to the risk."They tend to saturate the ground," McCormick said. "Then, if you do get these 4- or 5- inch rains, the ground can't absorb it."That was evident in the Michigan disaster, he said, where even though the two-day deluge was not considered the most extreme possible rainfall event, it still overwhelmed the dam because the ground was already saturated from several days of rain.Dam engineers have usually based their designs on past weather -- what a decade or decades of data show about the maximum potential flood a dam would have to withstand. That would have been how the Edenville Dam was designed in the 1920s.But there was no expectation that future weather patterns might be different.This kind of thinking largely persists today, AghaKouchak said. "Still, our engineering design concept is based on the so-called stationary assumption -- that things will stay the same," he said."But as we get more and more evidence of changes in extremes, the question is if it's reasonable to stay with this stationary assumption," he said. "The answer is, probably not."Some designers are beginning to change their ways, said Robert Lempert, a principal researcher at the RAND Corp. who specializes in climate risk analysis. Legislation recently approved in California, for example, requires state engineers to take climate change into account when designing infrastructure projects."If you're building a dam you want to pull in climate change from the very beginning," he said. "How is climate change going to affect the design of the dam, or even whether I want a dam at all?"For existing dams, operational changes might be called for, such as reducing the water levels behind the dam at certain times of year in anticipation of more extreme storms. "And you want to put climate change on the agenda for any maintenance and upgrades," Lempert said.Those upgrades might include changing spillway designs to incorporate the kind of rainfall pattern that occurred in Michigan, McCormick said. Rather than one designed to handle high peak inflow from a short, extreme storm, designers may opt for one that could cope with larger volumes over a longer time period."You need to look at how a given spillway is designed," he said, "if the circumstances of the rainfall change."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


    'Expect More': Climate Change Raises Risk of Dam FailuresThe dam that failed in central Michigan on Tuesday gave way for the same reason most do: It was overwhelmed by water. Almost 5 inches of rain fell in the area in the previous two days, after earlier storms had saturated the ground and swollen the Tittabawassee River, which the dam held back.No one can say yet whether the intense rainfall that preceded this disaster was made worse by climate change. But global warming is already causing some regions to become wetter, and increasing the frequency of extreme storms, according to the latest National Climate Assessment. The trends are expected to continue as the world gets even warmer.That puts more of the nation's 91,500 dams at risk of failing, engineers and dam safety experts said."We should expect more of these down the road," said Amir AghaKouchak, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California, Irvine. "It's unfortunate but this is what the trend is going to be."Overall, he and others say, dams in the United States and elsewhere are unprepared for the changes coming in a warming world.The dam that failed Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of about 40,000 people in and around Midland, Michigan, and threatening a chemical complex and toxic waste cleanup site, was designed a century ago, long before climate change was a concern.The dam, at Edenville Township, about 30 miles upstream from Midland, had severe design problems: It had been cited for having spillways that were inadequate to handle a maximum flood, whether affected by climate change or not. (A second dam at Sanford, 10 miles downstream, was overrun by the arriving floodwaters but did not collapse.)But the Edenville Dam was hardly alone in being outdated, with design or maintenance deficiencies or other problems that might make it unsafe. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its latest report card on infrastructure in 2017, gave the nation's dams a "D" grade.The average age of dams in the United States is nearly 60. And nationwide, about 15,500 are classified as having a high hazard potential; in Michigan, more than 170 dams are in that category, as was the Edenville Dam. Repairing and upgrading high-hazard dams alone could cost tens of billions of dollars.Since the mid-19th century there has been an average of about 10 dam failures a year in the United States, said Martin W. McCann Jr., a civil engineer who directs the National Performance of Dams Program at Stanford University. More than 90% of failed dams are less than about 50 feet high. (Edenville was 54 feet tall.)Rivers and reservoirs swollen by rainfall are the cause of most of the failures. "It's not a new thing per se," McCann said.But some recent dam episodes have been shown to have a climate change link. In February 2017, at Oroville Dam in California, the tallest in the nation, heavy mountain runoff into the reservoir led to the near-failure of an emergency spillway and severe damage to the main spillway. Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated as a precaution and repairs cost more than $1 billion.A later study found that human-caused warming had increased early season runoff in the Sierra Nevada, contributing to the high water levels at the dam.And there is little doubt that extreme rainfall events are getting more frequent. The fourth National Climate Assessment, issued in 2018, showed that the number of heavy precipitation two-day events has increased in all regions except the Southwest since the early 1900s. And since 1950, extreme events increased by more than 50% in the Midwest.But Bill McCormick, who is in charge of dam safety for the state of Colorado and is the incoming president of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, said short-duration extreme precipitation wasn't the only problem.Rainfall of longer duration but less intensity -- an overall wetter climate, which climate models forecast for parts of the United States in coming decades -- can contribute to the risk."They tend to saturate the ground," McCormick said. "Then, if you do get these 4- or 5- inch rains, the ground can't absorb it."That was evident in the Michigan disaster, he said, where even though the two-day deluge was not considered the most extreme possible rainfall event, it still overwhelmed the dam because the ground was already saturated from several days of rain.Dam engineers have usually based their designs on past weather -- what a decade or decades of data show about the maximum potential flood a dam would have to withstand. That would have been how the Edenville Dam was designed in the 1920s.But there was no expectation that future weather patterns might be different.This kind of thinking largely persists today, AghaKouchak said. "Still, our engineering design concept is based on the so-called stationary assumption -- that things will stay the same," he said."But as we get more and more evidence of changes in extremes, the question is if it's reasonable to stay with this stationary assumption," he said. "The answer is, probably not."Some designers are beginning to change their ways, said Robert Lempert, a principal researcher at the RAND Corp. who specializes in climate risk analysis. Legislation recently approved in California, for example, requires state engineers to take climate change into account when designing infrastructure projects."If you're building a dam you want to pull in climate change from the very beginning," he said. "How is climate change going to affect the design of the dam, or even whether I want a dam at all?"For existing dams, operational changes might be called for, such as reducing the water levels behind the dam at certain times of year in anticipation of more extreme storms. "And you want to put climate change on the agenda for any maintenance and upgrades," Lempert said.Those upgrades might include changing spillway designs to incorporate the kind of rainfall pattern that occurred in Michigan, McCormick said. Rather than one designed to handle high peak inflow from a short, extreme storm, designers may opt for one that could cope with larger volumes over a longer time period."You need to look at how a given spillway is designed," he said, "if the circumstances of the rainfall change."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


     

  • Pollution: Birds 'ingesting hundreds of bits of plastic a day'      Fri, 22 May 2020 09:43:26 -0400

    Pollution: Birds 'ingesting hundreds of bits of plastic a day'Plastic pollutants in UK rivers are finding their way into wildlife and moving up the food chain.


    Pollution: Birds 'ingesting hundreds of bits of plastic a day'Plastic pollutants in UK rivers are finding their way into wildlife and moving up the food chain.


     

  • NOAA selects Univ. of Washington to host regional institute for climate and ocean research      Thu, 21 May 2020 16:08:52 -0400

    NOAA selects Univ. of Washington to host regional institute for climate and ocean researchThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has selected the University of Washington to host a Pacific Northwest research institute focusing on climate, ocean and coastal challenges, supported by a five-year award worth up to $300 million. The Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies, or CICOES, will be a collaboration involving UW as well as the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and Oregon State University. It'll build on the 42-year history of UW's Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, under the continued directorship of UW marine biologist John Horne. CICOES is one of 17 NOAA-supported… Read More


    NOAA selects Univ. of Washington to host regional institute for climate and ocean researchThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has selected the University of Washington to host a Pacific Northwest research institute focusing on climate, ocean and coastal challenges, supported by a five-year award worth up to $300 million. The Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies, or CICOES, will be a collaboration involving UW as well as the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and Oregon State University. It'll build on the 42-year history of UW's Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, under the continued directorship of UW marine biologist John Horne. CICOES is one of 17 NOAA-supported… Read More


     

  • Nature: Bumblebees' 'clever trick' fools plants into flowering      Thu, 21 May 2020 14:02:24 -0400

    Nature: Bumblebees' 'clever trick' fools plants into floweringScientists discover a new behaviour among bumblebees that tricks plants into flowering early.


    Nature: Bumblebees' 'clever trick' fools plants into floweringScientists discover a new behaviour among bumblebees that tricks plants into flowering early.


     

  • Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Orbit hopes for rocket flight this weekend      Thu, 21 May 2020 11:43:33 -0400

    Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Orbit hopes for rocket flight this weekendUK businessman Sir Richard Branson is looking to Saturday to debut one of his new space systems.


    Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Orbit hopes for rocket flight this weekendUK businessman Sir Richard Branson is looking to Saturday to debut one of his new space systems.


     

  • Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronauts get to work ahead of historic flight      Thu, 21 May 2020 11:27:18 -0400

    Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronauts get to work ahead of historic flightNasa's Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are a week away from their flight to the space station.


    Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronauts get to work ahead of historic flightNasa's Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are a week away from their flight to the space station.


     

  • Astronauts arrive in Florida to set new NASA traditions for crewed spaceflight      Wed, 20 May 2020 18:41:04 -0400

    Astronauts arrive in Florida to set new NASA traditions for crewed spaceflightTwo NASA astronauts landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida today to go through a set of pre-launch traditions that haven't been followed for nearly nine years — and create a few new traditions as well. When Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken walked out of a NASA Gulfstream jet and met the press, they began a routine that's due to climax next week with the first orbital launch from U.S. soil since the space shuttle fleet's retirement in 2011. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is due to loft their commercial Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station a week… Read More


    Astronauts arrive in Florida to set new NASA traditions for crewed spaceflightTwo NASA astronauts landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida today to go through a set of pre-launch traditions that haven't been followed for nearly nine years — and create a few new traditions as well. When Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken walked out of a NASA Gulfstream jet and met the press, they began a routine that's due to climax next week with the first orbital launch from U.S. soil since the space shuttle fleet's retirement in 2011. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is due to loft their commercial Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station a week… Read More


     

  • Climate Change Is Making Hurricanes Stronger, Researchers Find      Wed, 20 May 2020 08:22:11 -0400

    Climate Change Is Making Hurricanes Stronger, Researchers FindHurricanes have become stronger worldwide during the past four decades, an analysis of observational data shows, supporting what theory and computer models have long suggested: Climate change is making these storms more intense and destructive.The analysis, of satellite images dating to 1979, shows that warming has increased the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a major one of Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds greater than 110 mph, by about 8% a decade."The trend is there and it is real," said James P. Kossin, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "There's this remarkable building of this body of evidence that we're making these storms more deleterious."Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study, said the findings were "much in line with what's expected.""When you see things going up all over the globe like that, the ducks are kind of in order," he said.But in the North Atlantic, where hurricane activity has increased in recent decades and storms have caused tens of billions of dollars of damage in the United States and the Caribbean, factors other than climate change may have played more of a role in the increase in intensity, Emanuel said.Physics suggests that as the world warms, hurricanes and other tropical cyclones should get stronger, because warmer water provides more of the energy that fuels these storms. And climate simulations have long showed an increase in stronger hurricanes as warming continues.But confirming that through observations has been problematic, because of the relatively small number of hurricanes every year and the difficulty of obtaining data on their wind speeds and other characteristics. Even in the United States, storms that do not potentially threaten populations are measured less than others."We're doing collectively a bad job of measuring tropical cyclones around the world," Emanuel said. "We've all believed we should see more intense hurricanes. But it's very very tricky to find it in the data."Kossin and his colleagues got around the limitations by using satellite images of storms worldwide and using computers to interpret them with a long-accepted pattern-matching algorithm, or set of instructions. They had done this before, in a study published in 2013, but that analysis only included imagery from 1982 to 2009 and the findings, while similar, were not statistically significant.In the new study the researchers extended the data set by 11 years, using imagery from 1979 to 2017."The first time through we found trends but they hadn't risen to the level of confidence that we would require," Kossin said. The findings of the new study are statistically significant."This is saying, OK now, the historical observations are also in agreement" with the theory and models, he added.The study looked at tropical storms worldwide because that provided a lot more data than looking at those in just one region. And every region has natural variability or other factors that can affect storm intensity and make it more difficult to tease out the effects of warming."When you look at the picture globally, it tends to wash away that regional variability," Kossin said. "The trend rises above the noise."The North Atlantic has seen increased hurricane activity in recent decades, by a measure that combines intensity with other characteristics like duration and frequency of storms. On Thursday, NOAA will issue its forecast of activity for this season, which officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Forecasts by other organizations have suggested that this year may be an active one.But the North Atlantic is one region where climate change may be overshadowed by other factors, Emanuel said."We do see clear signals and strong trends in the North Atlantic," he said. "The problem is we can't uniquely attribute that to greenhouse gases."Some scientists say that long-term natural variability in sea surface temperatures, on a time scale of decades, has played the major role in affecting North Atlantic storm activity. Others say that mandated reductions in sulfur emissions from fossil-fuel burning over the past few decades may be more important, by affecting ocean temperatures through a series of atmospheric connections.Whatever the main factors are, the study suggests that climate change will play a long-term role in increasing the strength of storms in the North Atlantic and elsewhere, Kossin said. Planning for how to mitigate the effect of major storms must take this into account."From a short time scale, these trends are not going to change the risk landscape," Kossin said. But over the long term, he said, "the risk landscape could change, and in a bad way, not in a good way."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


    Climate Change Is Making Hurricanes Stronger, Researchers FindHurricanes have become stronger worldwide during the past four decades, an analysis of observational data shows, supporting what theory and computer models have long suggested: Climate change is making these storms more intense and destructive.The analysis, of satellite images dating to 1979, shows that warming has increased the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a major one of Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds greater than 110 mph, by about 8% a decade."The trend is there and it is real," said James P. Kossin, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "There's this remarkable building of this body of evidence that we're making these storms more deleterious."Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study, said the findings were "much in line with what's expected.""When you see things going up all over the globe like that, the ducks are kind of in order," he said.But in the North Atlantic, where hurricane activity has increased in recent decades and storms have caused tens of billions of dollars of damage in the United States and the Caribbean, factors other than climate change may have played more of a role in the increase in intensity, Emanuel said.Physics suggests that as the world warms, hurricanes and other tropical cyclones should get stronger, because warmer water provides more of the energy that fuels these storms. And climate simulations have long showed an increase in stronger hurricanes as warming continues.But confirming that through observations has been problematic, because of the relatively small number of hurricanes every year and the difficulty of obtaining data on their wind speeds and other characteristics. Even in the United States, storms that do not potentially threaten populations are measured less than others."We're doing collectively a bad job of measuring tropical cyclones around the world," Emanuel said. "We've all believed we should see more intense hurricanes. But it's very very tricky to find it in the data."Kossin and his colleagues got around the limitations by using satellite images of storms worldwide and using computers to interpret them with a long-accepted pattern-matching algorithm, or set of instructions. They had done this before, in a study published in 2013, but that analysis only included imagery from 1982 to 2009 and the findings, while similar, were not statistically significant.In the new study the researchers extended the data set by 11 years, using imagery from 1979 to 2017."The first time through we found trends but they hadn't risen to the level of confidence that we would require," Kossin said. The findings of the new study are statistically significant."This is saying, OK now, the historical observations are also in agreement" with the theory and models, he added.The study looked at tropical storms worldwide because that provided a lot more data than looking at those in just one region. And every region has natural variability or other factors that can affect storm intensity and make it more difficult to tease out the effects of warming."When you look at the picture globally, it tends to wash away that regional variability," Kossin said. "The trend rises above the noise."The North Atlantic has seen increased hurricane activity in recent decades, by a measure that combines intensity with other characteristics like duration and frequency of storms. On Thursday, NOAA will issue its forecast of activity for this season, which officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Forecasts by other organizations have suggested that this year may be an active one.But the North Atlantic is one region where climate change may be overshadowed by other factors, Emanuel said."We do see clear signals and strong trends in the North Atlantic," he said. "The problem is we can't uniquely attribute that to greenhouse gases."Some scientists say that long-term natural variability in sea surface temperatures, on a time scale of decades, has played the major role in affecting North Atlantic storm activity. Others say that mandated reductions in sulfur emissions from fossil-fuel burning over the past few decades may be more important, by affecting ocean temperatures through a series of atmospheric connections.Whatever the main factors are, the study suggests that climate change will play a long-term role in increasing the strength of storms in the North Atlantic and elsewhere, Kossin said. Planning for how to mitigate the effect of major storms must take this into account."From a short time scale, these trends are not going to change the risk landscape," Kossin said. But over the long term, he said, "the risk landscape could change, and in a bad way, not in a good way."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


     

  • Amid Hydroxychloroquine Uproar, Real Studies of Drug Are Suffering      Wed, 20 May 2020 08:21:34 -0400

    Amid Hydroxychloroquine Uproar, Real Studies of Drug Are SufferingWASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's enthusiastic embrace of a malaria drug that he now says he takes daily -- and the resulting uproar in the news media -- appears to be interfering with legitimate scientific research into whether the medicine might work to prevent coronavirus infection or treat the disease in its early stages.The drug, hydroxychloroquine, which is also widely used to treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases, has shown no real benefit for hospitalized coronavirus patients and may have contributed to some deaths, recent studies show. Some bioethicists are even calling for the Food and Drug Administration -- which has warned that the drug can cause heart problems -- to revoke an emergency waiver it granted in March to accept millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine into the national stockpile for use in hospitals.But specialists -- including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert -- say the jury is still out on whether the drug might help prevent infection or help patients avoid hospitalization. Trump's frequent pronouncements and misstatements -- he has praised the drug as a "game changer" and a "miracle" -- are only complicating matters, politicizing the drug and creating a frenzy in the news media that is impeding research."The virus is not Democrat or Republican, and hydroxychloroquine is not Democrat or Republican, and I'm just hopeful that people would allow us to finish our scientific work," said Dr. William O'Neill, an interventional cardiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who is studying hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic in health care workers."The worst thing in the world that would happen," he added, "is that at the end of this epidemic, in late September, we don't have a cure or a preventive because we let politics interfere with the scientific process."On Tuesday, Trump added to the furor. Addressing reporters on Capitol Hill, he called the research on hospitalized patients "a Trump enemy statement." Later, at the White House, he said he decided to take hydroxychloroquine after his valet tested positive for COVID-19 -- and intended to do so for "a little while longer" because he viewed it as a "worthwhile line of defense" and was "very curious" about it."It's gotten a bad reputation only because I'm promoting it," the president added. "If anybody else were promoting it, they would say it's the best thing ever."Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Fauci leads, announced a 2,000-patient study to determine whether hydroxychloroquine, when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, "can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19," joining more than 50 other clinical trials involving hydroxychloroquine that are continuing in the United States."Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data," Fauci said in making the announcement.Other researchers around the country said the controversy was depressing enrollment in their clinical trials."People who had already enrolled would say, 'Now I'm afraid, I want to disenroll,' " said Deneen Vojta, the executive vice president for research and development at UnitedHealth Group, the insurance giant, which is conducting a smaller study of hydroxychloroquine alone.In a draft letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association, obtained by The New York Times, members of a research consortium complained that "negative media coverage" of hydroxychloroquine -- in particular the studies showing it might have harmed hospitalized patients -- "directly correlated" with a drop in enrollment in trials run by institutions including the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington, Columbia University in New York and Henry Ford Hospital.Inside the White House, the president's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who is an enthusiast for hydroxychloroquine and has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to steer 19 million pills from the stockpile to 14 coronavirus hot zones around the country, said "hydroxy hysteria" in the news media -- not Trump -- was to blame."Has the media's war of hysteria on hydroxychloroquine killed people?" Navarro asked in an interview. "If the scientific evidence does indeed prove that the medicine has both prophylactic and therapeutic value, the answer is yes."While Navarro complained that "fake news and bad reporting" had resulted in a "dramatic drop in demand for hydroxy at hospitals," Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and chief executive of NYC Health and Hospitals, the nation's largest municipal health system, said hospitals and doctors became less interested in hydroxychloroquine after the FDA approved another medicine, remdesivir, for treatment of COVID-19.Scientists have worried about politics impeding their research since long before Trump took office. But perhaps no president in modern history has gone to the lengths that Trump has to promote a specific, unproven medicine -- and then announce he is taking it himself.Even Trump's favorite television network, Fox News Channel, has been critical. Its senior managing editor for health news, Dr. Manny Alvarez, called the president "highly irresponsible" for taking the drug.In doing so, Trump "may lead people to overestimate the potential that it would help them -- which is entirely unproven -- and to underestimate the risks, which are known," said Jesse L. Goodman, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University and former chief scientist at the FDA who is calling for the agency to revoke its waiver. "I think that right now this drug should be used really only in the context of clinical trials."But the president's promotion of the drug is making even that difficult.Dr. Adrian Hernandez, who directs the Clinical Research Institute at the Duke University School of Medicine and has enrolled 550 health care workers in a clinical trial to study whether hydroxychloroquine is effective as a prophylactic, said Trump's promotion of hydroxychloroquine "may have hurt public health."When Trump first began talking up hydroxychloroquine, Hernandez said, he faced questions about whether his study should be weighted toward giving the drug to more people than were receiving placebo.When he started, he said, two-thirds of more than 12,000 health care workers who have signed up for a coronavirus registry were willing to participate in his study. Now, only half are."When we have this playing out in the media instead of the scientific and clinical communities, people don't know what the right answer is, and so they will use what they hear the most through the media," Hernandez said. "So it's a pingpong match, in terms of, is it good one day? Is it bad one day?"Hernandez and others, including O'Neill, say that no study -- even those conducted in hospitalized patients -- has produced definitive results about hydroxychloroquine for the coronavirus, although several have suggested it could be harmful especially to patients with underlying heart conditions.An analysis of veterans treated with hydroxychloroquine found that 28% of them died, compared with 11% who had routine care. A small study in Brazil was halted after patients taking a high dose of chloroquine -- a predecessor to hydroxychloroquine that researchers consider less safe -- developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia.Dr. Christine Johnston, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington who is hoping to enroll 630 people in a trial examining the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in those recently infected, said many of her patients conflated the Brazil study with her drug. She, too, has seen a dip in enrollment."People put these things together in their minds, but they are actually very different," she said.On April 24, the FDA issued a warning about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, cautioning against their use "outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems." An FDA spokesman, Michael Felberbaum, said in a statement that the agency was continuing to evaluate all emergency use authorizations issued during the coronavirus crisis "to determine whether they continue to meet the statutory criteria for issuance."More recently, a large observational study of 1,446 patients at NewYork-Presbyterian-Columbia University Hospital in New York City, published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no clear benefit or risk to hydroxychloroquine.The authors concluded that randomized controlled clinical trials -- studies in which half the patients are given placebo, half are given the drug, and neither the patients nor doctors know who is getting what -- are needed."Studying it is exactly the right thing to do," said Aaron S. Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who is among those calling for the FDA to revoke the waiver. "And heck, if it turns out there is some activity, then great."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


    Amid Hydroxychloroquine Uproar, Real Studies of Drug Are SufferingWASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's enthusiastic embrace of a malaria drug that he now says he takes daily -- and the resulting uproar in the news media -- appears to be interfering with legitimate scientific research into whether the medicine might work to prevent coronavirus infection or treat the disease in its early stages.The drug, hydroxychloroquine, which is also widely used to treat lupus and other autoimmune diseases, has shown no real benefit for hospitalized coronavirus patients and may have contributed to some deaths, recent studies show. Some bioethicists are even calling for the Food and Drug Administration -- which has warned that the drug can cause heart problems -- to revoke an emergency waiver it granted in March to accept millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine into the national stockpile for use in hospitals.But specialists -- including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert -- say the jury is still out on whether the drug might help prevent infection or help patients avoid hospitalization. Trump's frequent pronouncements and misstatements -- he has praised the drug as a "game changer" and a "miracle" -- are only complicating matters, politicizing the drug and creating a frenzy in the news media that is impeding research."The virus is not Democrat or Republican, and hydroxychloroquine is not Democrat or Republican, and I'm just hopeful that people would allow us to finish our scientific work," said Dr. William O'Neill, an interventional cardiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who is studying hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic in health care workers."The worst thing in the world that would happen," he added, "is that at the end of this epidemic, in late September, we don't have a cure or a preventive because we let politics interfere with the scientific process."On Tuesday, Trump added to the furor. Addressing reporters on Capitol Hill, he called the research on hospitalized patients "a Trump enemy statement." Later, at the White House, he said he decided to take hydroxychloroquine after his valet tested positive for COVID-19 -- and intended to do so for "a little while longer" because he viewed it as a "worthwhile line of defense" and was "very curious" about it."It's gotten a bad reputation only because I'm promoting it," the president added. "If anybody else were promoting it, they would say it's the best thing ever."Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Fauci leads, announced a 2,000-patient study to determine whether hydroxychloroquine, when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, "can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19," joining more than 50 other clinical trials involving hydroxychloroquine that are continuing in the United States."Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data," Fauci said in making the announcement.Other researchers around the country said the controversy was depressing enrollment in their clinical trials."People who had already enrolled would say, 'Now I'm afraid, I want to disenroll,' " said Deneen Vojta, the executive vice president for research and development at UnitedHealth Group, the insurance giant, which is conducting a smaller study of hydroxychloroquine alone.In a draft letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association, obtained by The New York Times, members of a research consortium complained that "negative media coverage" of hydroxychloroquine -- in particular the studies showing it might have harmed hospitalized patients -- "directly correlated" with a drop in enrollment in trials run by institutions including the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington, Columbia University in New York and Henry Ford Hospital.Inside the White House, the president's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, who is an enthusiast for hydroxychloroquine and has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to steer 19 million pills from the stockpile to 14 coronavirus hot zones around the country, said "hydroxy hysteria" in the news media -- not Trump -- was to blame."Has the media's war of hysteria on hydroxychloroquine killed people?" Navarro asked in an interview. "If the scientific evidence does indeed prove that the medicine has both prophylactic and therapeutic value, the answer is yes."While Navarro complained that "fake news and bad reporting" had resulted in a "dramatic drop in demand for hydroxy at hospitals," Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and chief executive of NYC Health and Hospitals, the nation's largest municipal health system, said hospitals and doctors became less interested in hydroxychloroquine after the FDA approved another medicine, remdesivir, for treatment of COVID-19.Scientists have worried about politics impeding their research since long before Trump took office. But perhaps no president in modern history has gone to the lengths that Trump has to promote a specific, unproven medicine -- and then announce he is taking it himself.Even Trump's favorite television network, Fox News Channel, has been critical. Its senior managing editor for health news, Dr. Manny Alvarez, called the president "highly irresponsible" for taking the drug.In doing so, Trump "may lead people to overestimate the potential that it would help them -- which is entirely unproven -- and to underestimate the risks, which are known," said Jesse L. Goodman, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University and former chief scientist at the FDA who is calling for the agency to revoke its waiver. "I think that right now this drug should be used really only in the context of clinical trials."But the president's promotion of the drug is making even that difficult.Dr. Adrian Hernandez, who directs the Clinical Research Institute at the Duke University School of Medicine and has enrolled 550 health care workers in a clinical trial to study whether hydroxychloroquine is effective as a prophylactic, said Trump's promotion of hydroxychloroquine "may have hurt public health."When Trump first began talking up hydroxychloroquine, Hernandez said, he faced questions about whether his study should be weighted toward giving the drug to more people than were receiving placebo.When he started, he said, two-thirds of more than 12,000 health care workers who have signed up for a coronavirus registry were willing to participate in his study. Now, only half are."When we have this playing out in the media instead of the scientific and clinical communities, people don't know what the right answer is, and so they will use what they hear the most through the media," Hernandez said. "So it's a pingpong match, in terms of, is it good one day? Is it bad one day?"Hernandez and others, including O'Neill, say that no study -- even those conducted in hospitalized patients -- has produced definitive results about hydroxychloroquine for the coronavirus, although several have suggested it could be harmful especially to patients with underlying heart conditions.An analysis of veterans treated with hydroxychloroquine found that 28% of them died, compared with 11% who had routine care. A small study in Brazil was halted after patients taking a high dose of chloroquine -- a predecessor to hydroxychloroquine that researchers consider less safe -- developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia.Dr. Christine Johnston, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington who is hoping to enroll 630 people in a trial examining the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in those recently infected, said many of her patients conflated the Brazil study with her drug. She, too, has seen a dip in enrollment."People put these things together in their minds, but they are actually very different," she said.On April 24, the FDA issued a warning about hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, cautioning against their use "outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems." An FDA spokesman, Michael Felberbaum, said in a statement that the agency was continuing to evaluate all emergency use authorizations issued during the coronavirus crisis "to determine whether they continue to meet the statutory criteria for issuance."More recently, a large observational study of 1,446 patients at NewYork-Presbyterian-Columbia University Hospital in New York City, published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, found no clear benefit or risk to hydroxychloroquine.The authors concluded that randomized controlled clinical trials -- studies in which half the patients are given placebo, half are given the drug, and neither the patients nor doctors know who is getting what -- are needed."Studying it is exactly the right thing to do," said Aaron S. Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who is among those calling for the FDA to revoke the waiver. "And heck, if it turns out there is some activity, then great."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


     

  • Days before landmark launch, NASA’s head of human spaceflight quits due to ‘mistake’      Tue, 19 May 2020 18:52:46 -0400

    Days before landmark launch, NASA’s head of human spaceflight quits due to ‘mistake’NASA's top executive concentrating on human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, has resigned just a week before the scheduled start of a milestone space mission. Loverro became NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations last December, and was playing a leading role in NASA's Artemis moon program as well as preparations for next week's launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station. That mission, set for liftoff on May 27 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is due to send NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the station for a stay that could last… Read More


    Days before landmark launch, NASA’s head of human spaceflight quits due to ‘mistake’NASA's top executive concentrating on human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, has resigned just a week before the scheduled start of a milestone space mission. Loverro became NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations last December, and was playing a leading role in NASA's Artemis moon program as well as preparations for next week's launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station. That mission, set for liftoff on May 27 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is due to send NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the station for a stay that could last… Read More


     

  • Climate change: Scientists fear car surge will see CO2 rebound      Tue, 19 May 2020 17:45:35 -0400

    Climate change: Scientists fear car surge will see CO2 reboundAn analysis shows a huge daily CO2 drop, but a return to car travel may see emissions rebound.


    Climate change: Scientists fear car surge will see CO2 reboundAn analysis shows a huge daily CO2 drop, but a return to car travel may see emissions rebound.


     

  • Mars: Mud flows on Red Planet behave like 'boiling toothpaste'      Tue, 19 May 2020 05:16:55 -0400

    Mars: Mud flows on Red Planet behave like 'boiling toothpaste'Scientists make a surprising discovery about the Red Planet by playing with mud in the laboratory.


    Mars: Mud flows on Red Planet behave like 'boiling toothpaste'Scientists make a surprising discovery about the Red Planet by playing with mud in the laboratory.


     

  • Project seeks super view of Earth's mantle      Mon, 18 May 2020 11:23:37 -0400

    Project seeks super view of Earth's mantleUK scientists aim to build some of the most sophisticated models yet for how rock moves inside the planet.


    Project seeks super view of Earth's mantleUK scientists aim to build some of the most sophisticated models yet for how rock moves inside the planet.


     

  • Climate change: Future floods will delay emergency response      Mon, 18 May 2020 11:00:32 -0400

    Climate change: Future floods will delay emergency responseIncreases in rainfall in England could impact ambulance and fire crew response times.


    Climate change: Future floods will delay emergency responseIncreases in rainfall in England could impact ambulance and fire crew response times.


     

  • Space Plane: Mysterious US military aircraft launches      Mon, 18 May 2020 05:43:13 -0400

    Space Plane: Mysterious US military aircraft launchesThe Atlas V rocket, carrying the X-37B space plane, launched from Cape Canaveral on Sunday.


    Space Plane: Mysterious US military aircraft launchesThe Atlas V rocket, carrying the X-37B space plane, launched from Cape Canaveral on Sunday.


     

  • Meet the baby orangutans learning to climb trees      Sun, 17 May 2020 04:07:42 -0400

    Meet the baby orangutans learning to climb treesBaby orangutans are learning new skills from their human surrogate parents.


    Meet the baby orangutans learning to climb treesBaby orangutans are learning new skills from their human surrogate parents.


     

  • 'Golden tongue' helps ensure maple syrup quality      Sat, 16 May 2020 04:40:15 -0400

    'Golden tongue' helps ensure maple syrup qualityScientists use the precious element to grade the quality of the natural sweetener.


    'Golden tongue' helps ensure maple syrup qualityScientists use the precious element to grade the quality of the natural sweetener.


     

  • NASA lays out the ‘Artemis Accords’ for international cooperation on moon trips      Fri, 15 May 2020 13:50:41 -0400

    NASA lays out the ‘Artemis Accords’ for international cooperation on moon tripsNASA today unveiled a list of 10 principles for a set of bilateral international agreements for participation in the moon exploration program known as Artemis. The Artemis Accords would apply to missions aimed at sending astronauts to the lunar surface beginning as early as 2024. NASA has been discussing international participation in the Artemis moon program for months. During a conference last October, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said "we need all the international partners to go with us to the moon." The first moonwalkers are virtually certain to be Americans, but at October's International Astronautical Congress, Bridenstine implied that astronauts… Read More


    NASA lays out the ‘Artemis Accords’ for international cooperation on moon tripsNASA today unveiled a list of 10 principles for a set of bilateral international agreements for participation in the moon exploration program known as Artemis. The Artemis Accords would apply to missions aimed at sending astronauts to the lunar surface beginning as early as 2024. NASA has been discussing international participation in the Artemis moon program for months. During a conference last October, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said "we need all the international partners to go with us to the moon." The first moonwalkers are virtually certain to be Americans, but at October's International Astronautical Congress, Bridenstine implied that astronauts… Read More


     

  • 'Surge' in illegal bird of prey killings since lockdown      Fri, 15 May 2020 07:10:00 -0400

    'Surge' in illegal bird of prey killings since lockdownThe RSPB says it has been "overrun" by reports of birds of prey being illegally killed.


    'Surge' in illegal bird of prey killings since lockdownThe RSPB says it has been "overrun" by reports of birds of prey being illegally killed.


     

  • UW Medicine ramps up study of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for COVID-19 treatment      Thu, 14 May 2020 22:54:25 -0400

    UW Medicine ramps up study of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for COVID-19 treatmentOne of the treatments that's been talked up by President Donald Trump for COVID-19 — a combination of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic — is the subject of a nationwide study with UW Medicine playing a role. The Phase 2b clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, will involve 2,000 outpatients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in the early stages of treatment. "We know from a number of different other kinds of infections that if antiviral treatment is going to be effective, it… Read More


    UW Medicine ramps up study of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for COVID-19 treatmentOne of the treatments that's been talked up by President Donald Trump for COVID-19 — a combination of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic — is the subject of a nationwide study with UW Medicine playing a role. The Phase 2b clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, will involve 2,000 outpatients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in the early stages of treatment. "We know from a number of different other kinds of infections that if antiviral treatment is going to be effective, it… Read More


     

  • Ozone layer: Concern grows over threat from replacement chemicals      Thu, 14 May 2020 10:08:27 -0400

    Ozone layer: Concern grows over threat from replacement chemicalsSubstances used for air conditioning in new cars are building up in the environment


    Ozone layer: Concern grows over threat from replacement chemicalsSubstances used for air conditioning in new cars are building up in the environment


     



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