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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: Tue, 21 Nov 2017 04:40:56 -0800

Copyright: ©2017 Los Angeles Times

Meet 'Oumuamua, the interstellar asteroid, before it's gone for good

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:15:00 PST

Astronomers have spotted an unprecedented interplanetary traveler: an asteroid-like object that came from far beyond our own solar system.

The discovery of ‘Oumuamua, described in the journal Nature, marks the first time that researchers have identified an interstellar object — and it could mean...


For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:00:00 PST

Say you’re a publicly-insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

New research suggests you can do it the way most treatment-seeking addicts in the state do — by undergoing a medically-supervised “detoxification” that’s difficult, expensive...


Scientists aim to fight climate change with super plants

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:25:00 PST

The Salk Institute in La Jolla is launching a scientific initiative to develop new types of crops that can help fight climate change.(image)

Even small black holes emit gravitational waves when they collide, and LIGO heard them

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:45:00 PST

LIGO scientists say they have discovered gravitational waves coming from another black hole merger, and it’s the tiniest one they’ve ever seen.

The findings, submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, could shed light on the diversity of the black hole population — and may help scientists...


Just like humans, chimpanzees warn others of impending danger

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 18:00:00 PST

Chimpanzees adjust their warning calls if they think a fellow primate hasn’t picked up on a nearby threat, a new study finds.

The results, published in the journal Science Advances, reveal that humans and one of their closest living relatives may share a very special ability, one that could potentially...


This new satellite could produce the most accurate weather predictions yet

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 18:05:00 PST

The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, a joint project of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is set to collect the most high-resolution observations yet of our planet's atmosphere, land and oceans.(image)

Organic agriculture can help feed the world, but only if we eat less meat and stop wasting food

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 12:50:00 PST

Agriculture could go organic worldwide if we slashed food waste and stopped using so much cropland to feed livestock, a new study finds.

The analysis, published in the journal Nature Communications, shows that it will take several strategies operating at once to feed the growing human population...


In Texas, odds of Hurricane Harvey rainfall could rise to nearly 1 in 5 per year by 2100

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 16:10:00 PST

So much for the storm of the century.

A new study suggests that massive hurricanes like Harvey are expected to strike Houston and Texas with much greater frequency in the future than they do now.


Blame our changing climate.

According to a study published Monday in PNAS, the odds of Harvey-like...


New guidelines classify nearly half of U.S. adults as having high blood pressure

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 13:45:00 PST

New medical guidelines lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. That means now nearly half of U.S. adults have it.

High blood pressure has long meant a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90. The new top reading is 130...


This supernova was supposed to die — until it got brighter

Thu, 9 Nov 2017 11:35:00 PST

Talk about going out with a bang — and then another bang. Astronomers at Las Cumbres Observatory have discovered a supernova that has been shining for years instead of mere months, surviving far beyond its expected lifespan.

The strange and still-going stellar explosion, described in the journal...


Scientists prove that the public pays attention to journalism

Thu, 9 Nov 2017 11:00:00 PST

The president may be fond of complaining about “fake” news, but the truth is that journalism drives the national conversation, and science has proven it.

A new study published Thursday in the journal Science demonstrates that even small news outlets can have a substantial impact on the issues Americans...


A wake, some prayers and a little retail therapy: How NASA engineers mourn the death of a spacecraft

Thu, 9 Nov 2017 06:00:00 PST

They called it a wake, but the loved one they had come to mourn wasn’t a person.

It was the Cassini spacecraft, the robotic explorer that had spent the last 13 years unlocking the mysteries of Saturn, its rings and its many moons.

Soon after Cassini vaporized like a shooting star in the Saturnian...


9-year-old boy with rare disease now has engineered skin covering 80% of his body

Wed, 8 Nov 2017 13:35:00 PST

For a soccer-playing, holiday-loving boy on the brink of death from a rare inherited skin disease, doctors have accomplished a feat of genetic engineering, surgical stamina and raw nerve.

Infections arising from blisters and sores had destroyed 60% of his skin. Just 7 years old when he arrived...


Over-the-counter painkillers treated painful injuries just as well as opioids in new study

Tue, 7 Nov 2017 15:25:00 PST

In an opioid epidemic that currently claims an average of 91 lives per day, there have been many paths to addiction. For some, it started with a fall or a sports injury, a trip to a nearby emergency room and a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever that seemed to work well in the ER.

New research...


If you enjoy sleeping at night instead of the day, thank the dinosaurs for going extinct

Tue, 7 Nov 2017 03:35:00 PST

Mammals were largely creatures of the night until the dinosaurs were killed off by an asteroid some 66 million years ago, a new study finds.

The findings, described in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, illuminate a pivotal transition in the history of Earth’s living things.

Scientists have...


Gun injuries in the U.S. have become more severe since the 1990s, study says

Mon, 6 Nov 2017 13:10:00 PST

If the purpose of a gun is to inflict serious damage to a body, then these weapons have become increasingly effective, new research shows.

An analysis of U.S. hospital records shows that gun injuries bad enough to land a victim in the hospital grew more severe over the course of two decades. Wounds...


These orangutans are the newest species of great ape, and there are fewer than 800 left

Fri, 3 Nov 2017 12:40:00 PDT

Hello Pongo tapanuliensis, and welcome to the family! As of this week, these orangutans are being recognized as a distinct species of great ape. But they may not be around for long.(image)

Survey reveals surprising mismatch between perception and reality of obesity in America

Fri, 3 Nov 2017 05:00:00 PDT

Nearly 40% of American adults and 20% of children carry enough extra weight to warrant a diagnosis of obesity. That’s the highest obesity rate among the world’s affluent nations, and it’s already shortening Americans’ lifespans by driving up rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancers, arthritis...


Using particle physics, scientists find hidden structure inside Egypt's Great Pyramid

Thu, 2 Nov 2017 20:25:00 PDT

An international team of scientists has discovered a large hidden cavity within Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza, and they did it by looking for muons - particles sent to Earth by cosmic rays from space.(image)

Alcohol reshapes the brain in ways that make rats more likely to become cocaine addicts

Thu, 2 Nov 2017 05:00:00 PDT

The idea of a “gateway drug” may sound like a throwback to the “Just say no” era. But new research offers fresh evidence that alcohol and nicotine — two psychoactive agents that are legal, ubiquitous and widely used during adolescence — ease the path that leads from casual cocaine use to outright...


At Mt. Wilson, scientists celebrate 100th birthday of the telescope that revealed the universe

Wed, 1 Nov 2017 10:45:00 PDT

This week marks the centennial of Mt. Wilson's 100-inch telescope. When it gathered its first light, it overtook its 60-inch neighbor and became the largest telescope in the world - a position it held for more than three decades.(image)

Have some bloody fun this Halloween, courtesy of chemistry

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 05:00:00 PDT

It’s Halloween, a day for watching scary movies filled with blood and gore.

In other words, it’s a day to appreciate chemistry.

For roughly a century, entertainers have relied on chemistry to make fake blood look real. In the early 1900s, productions at the Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris introduced...


How your brain processes certain words can help predict your risk of suicide

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 04:00:00 PDT

When a person’s distress, depression or discouragement appears to have taken a sharp turn for the worse, it’s time to ask him or her a weighty question: Are you thinking of harming yourself?

If only the answer were a better guide. One study has found that nearly 80% of patients who took their own...


More ink, less water: News coverage of the drought prompted Californians to conserve, study suggests

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 09:10:00 PDT

What does it take to get Californians to save water during a massive drought? Apparently, a lot of ink and newsprint helps.

Extensive news coverage of the state’s historic drought prompted residents to conserve water, new research out of Stanford University suggests. The more that major newspapers...


Stripes? Spots? Scientists have new way to see what dinosaurs looked like on the outside

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 09:00:00 PDT

Scientists studying ancient fossils of a small feathered dinosaur have discovered that it had a bandit's mask as well as a striped tail, rather like today's raccoons.(image)