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Preview: L.A. Times - Science

L.A. Times - Science

In-depth science news coverage of space exploration, medical science, climate change, technological breakthroughs and more.

Last Build Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2017 12:43:27 -0700

Copyright: ©2017 Los Angeles Times

Check out this building that was 3-D-printed by a robot

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 18:05:00 PDT

The future of construction just got a little bit more real. Researchers at MIT have created a mobile robot that can 3-D-print an entire building in a matter of hours — a technology that could be used in disaster zones, on inhospitable planets or even in our proverbial backyards.

Though the platform...


Lamb fetuses can now grow in artificial wombs. Will humans be next?

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 04:00:00 PDT

When babies are born, they draw their first breaths. Those gulps of oxygen trigger the lungs to stop developing.

When babies are born prematurely, the same thing happens. But a preemie's lungs are critically underdeveloped. Scientific advancements have made it possible for babies born as early...


When people work together, they’re literally on the same wavelength, brain waves show

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 03:00:00 PDT

Thanks to scientists who have ventured outside the laboratory, we have learned that tight-knit groups of females experience synchronized menstrual periods over time, that cohesive groups engaged in decision-making discount dissenting viewpoints in the interests of consensus, and that couples who...


Waiting for Cassini: Scenes from a late night at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:40:00 PDT

To help Cassini staffers pass the anxious hours as they waited for the spacecraft's signal, JPL organized an unusual late-night event.(image)

Does Parkinson's disease begin in the gut? New research suggests it does

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:35:00 PDT

They say that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” But this is definitely not true of the vagus nerve, which wanders from the stomach to the brain, passing through the heart, esophagus and lungs along the way.

A new study offers fresh support for an intriguing theory about the vagus nerve’s...


Spacecraft Cassini's first pass between Saturn and its rings goes flawlessly

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:40:00 PDT

Great news for Cassini fans: The NASA spacecraft sent word that it successfully completed its first pass through the uncharted territory between Saturn and its rings late Wednesday.

Hopefully the next 21 orbits through this never-before-explored space will be just as successful.

More than 100 members...


130,000-year-old mastodon bones could rewrite story of how humans first appeared in the Americas

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:05:00 PDT

Shattered mastodon bones from a Southern California site bear the scars of human activity from 130,700 years ago, a team of scientists says — pushing back the generally accepted date that humans are thought to have settled North America by a whopping 115,000 or so years.

If verified and corroborated...


After 13 years at Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is ready for its grand finale

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 03:00:00 PDT

What do you do with a 20-year-old spacecraft that has spent 13 years orbiting Saturn, logged 4.1 billion miles in space and is about to run out of fuel?

You could crash it into one of the dozens of moons that orbit the ringed planet. Or you could let it hang out in a wide orbit around the gas giant...


Water under Oroville spillway probably caused February collapse, state consultants say

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:55:00 PDT

Official reports released Monday say the catastrophic damage to Oroville Dam’s main spillway probably stemmed from swift water flows under the concrete chute, which was cracked and of uneven thickness.

The observations, contained in consultants’ reports prepared for the state Department of Water...


Stubborn plastic may have finally met its match: the hungry wax worm

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:45:00 PDT

Here’s a caterpillar that thinks plastic tastes fantastic. Scientists have discovered that the larvae of the wax moth will easily munch through a common plastic known as polyethylene, turning it into a useful compound found in all kinds of consumer products.

The findings, published this week in...


'We need to be out here': Thousands march in downtown L.A. to support science in the Trump era

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 19:15:00 PDT

Dressed in long sleeves and a sensible safari hat, Dr. Diane Brown carried a sign that read, “My patients need science because lupus is not cured, juvenile arthritis is not cured … CANCER is not cured!”

Brown, a rheumatologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said she hadn’t attended any marches...


'Science is real,' marchers in nation's capital and worldwide declare

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 14:55:00 PDT

Scientists and their supporters took to the streets of Washington and other cities around the country and the world Saturday, with many expressing worries about a diminishing role for fact-based research under the Trump administration.

Waving signs with slogans like “Science is Real” and “Ask for...


L.A. March for Science updates: Marchers ignore Trump supporters on their way to City Hall

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 09:55:00 PDT

More than 500 cities around the world, including 40 in California, will host a March for Science on Saturday. In Los Angeles, thousands are expected to descend on downtown. High-profile speakers include seismologist Lucy Jones and billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer.

But what does a...


Why L.A. scientists plan to march on Saturday

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 04:00:00 PDT

The March for Science is kind of a funny thing.

The organizers insist that the event will be nonpartisan. But it will feature many of the trappings of a political march — signs, chants and speakers riling up the crowd.

The situation presents a quandary of sorts. Being a scientist requires objectivity....


Scientists get a rare view of a type Ia supernova magnified 50 times

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:30:00 PDT

For the first time, astronomers have caught a type Ia supernova being magnified by more than 50 times and split into four images in the night sky thanks to gravitational lensing.

The discovery, described in the journal Science, could help scientists get a better handle on the rate of expansion...


How L.A.'s March for Science came to be

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 03:00:00 PDT

Enthusiasm for science runs so deep in Los Angeles that a March for Science was organized here not once but twice.

One of those times was a week after the presidential inauguration. Jennifer Wheeler was scrolling through her Facebook feed at the Temple City Library while her 2-year-old played in...


Barbara Boxer will lobby for an environmentally controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 18:25:00 PDT

A Boston-based water development company is paying former Sen. Barbara Boxer to push for approval of a proposed seawater desalination plant that has been mired for years in environmental controversy.

Boxer, a Democrat, will lobby the California Coastal Commission on behalf of Poseidon Water’s private...


Can scientists rejuvenate an aging brain with a protein found in umbilical cord blood?

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:45:00 PDT

What old brains need is a shot of young blood — and the younger the better.

It may sound like a metaphor employed by a randy octogenarian. But new research on mice suggests it can be taken quite literally.

Writing in the journal Nature, Stanford University anti-aging researchers reported Wednesday...


A rocky ‘super-Earth’ with the potential for liquid water is found 39 light-years away

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 11:15:00 PDT

Astronomers say they’ve pinpointed a potentially habitable planet that might offer our best chance of characterizing an alien atmosphere in the near future.

The planet LHS 1140b, described this week in the journal Nature, provides a tempting target for astronomers looking to probe an exoplanet’s...


Why the next flu medicine could come from frog mucus

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:40:00 PDT

What’s more amazing than kissing a frog and getting a handsome prince? How about scraping off a bit of the mucus layer that covers his skin and finding in it a potent weapon against influenza?

That, quite simply, is what scientists from Emory University appear to have done in discovering an antimicrobial...


Exercise can be contagious, new social network analysis finds

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:10:00 PDT

Now here’s a contagion that might not be so bad to encounter. A new analysis of the running habits of about 1.1 million people reveals that exercise is indeed contagious — though its communicability depends on who’s spreading it.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, also...


Why doctors are being urged to join the March for Science on Saturday

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 14:10:00 PDT

The editors of the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine are urging their colleagues in the medical community to join the March for Science. To make sure they leave no room for doubt, the headline on their editorial reads, “Alternative Facts Have No Place in Science.”

Published by the American...


One key way soggy California could save water for the next dry spell

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 03:00:00 PDT

The water spread into every corner of the fields, beckoning wading ibises and egrets as it bathed long rows of sprouting grapevines.

Several inches had covered the vineyard ground for a couple of months. But rather than draining it, Don Cameron was pouring more on.

“This is not about irrigation,”...


State will send more water to Southern California as it boosts deliveries to highest levels in 11 years

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 17:30:00 PDT

The post-drought good news continued Friday as the State Water Project announced that it was boosting deliveries to the highest levels in 11 years.

Most agencies, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, will get 85% of the amount they request. Water districts north of...


What would make a computer biased? Learning a language spoken by humans

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 04:00:00 PDT

One of the amazing (and scary) things about artificial intelligence programs is that in learning to mimic their human masters so perfectly, these wonders of computer software hold up a mirror to patterns of behavior we engage in every day but may not even notice.

Beyond their extraordinary usefulness...