Cardiff Uni’s new way of making compounds for drugs

Written by Max Evans

A flask and a set of coiled tubes in a lab

Image caption: The new method sees sesquiterpenes extracted using tubes instead of flasks

Researchers in Cardiff have developed a new “highly-efficient” method of making disease-fighting compounds, including for an anti-malaria drug.

Sesquiterpenes can be found in spicy foods, plants and beer, and are used to battle colds, cancer and malaria. A Cardiff University team said it could synthesize them more quickly and cost-effectively than before.

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NASA’s Jupiter probe in busted helium-valve drama

Written by Katyanna Quach

NASA’s Juno probe will not venture any closer to Jupiter, and will stay in its current 53-day orbit for the remainder of its mission. That’s due to faulty helium valves in the propulsion system, space boffins announced today.

The spacecraft has been circling the gas giant since July 2016. NASA scientists had planned to fire the engine to reduce its orbit period to 14 days, bringing it closer to Jupiter’s surface to scrutinize the alien world. The more intimate the probe gets with the gas goliath, the more it can peek through the layers of clouds, and study the structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere of the planet.

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UK scientists seek closer relationship with US after Brexit

Written by Pallab Ghosh

The UK and US are in talks to extend their “special relationship” in science after the UK leaves the European Union, the BBC understands.

British institutions are in talks with their US colleagues to try to make it easier for scientists to travel, collaborate and share facilities. Research Councils UK said it would deliver benefits for both countries. UK research groups are currently marketing themselves at the US’s largest scientific meeting in Boston.

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ALL United States Warming due to NOAA Data Tampering

Written by Tony Heller


Climate Central just ran this piece, which the Washington Post picked up on. They claimed the US was “overwhelmingly hot” in 2016, and temperatures have risen 1,5°F since the 19th century.

The U.S. Has Been Overwhelmingly Hot This Year | Climate Central

The first problem with their analysis is that the US had very little hot weather in 2016. The percentage of hot days was below average, and ranked 80th since 1895. Only 4.4% of days were over 95°F, compared with the long term average of 4.9%. Climate Central is conflating mild temperatures with hot ones.

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Fatal Flaw in the USGCRP Climate and Health Assessment


Yesterday, we posted some excerpts from the Background section of our submitted Comment on the draft report on climate and health from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

In that section, we argued that the USGCRP was overlooking (ignoring?) a vital factor that shapes the influence of climate change on the health and well-being of Americans—that is, that the adaptive process is actually spurred by climate change itself. Without recognition of this fact, projections are often alarmist and pessimistic.

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Science and the Issue of Trust

Written by Donna Laframboise

Many messages emanating from the world of science are entirely bogus. After eight years in which my focus has been mostly on climate matters, I’ve lately pulled back the lens to take another look at science’s bigger picture. In this respect, a 2001 book by Daniel S. Greenberg, a journalist who spent more than 40 years covering US science, is an eye-opener.

It provides mountains of evidence that the leaders, advocates, spokespeople, lobbyists, and public relations personnel of the science world have long promoted narratives that are fundamentally incorrect.

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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Written by Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Biologists have known for decades that enduring a short period of mild stress makes simple organisms and human cells better able to survive additional stress later in life.

Now, scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have found that a cellular process called autophagy is critically involved in providing the benefits of temporary stress. The study, published in Nature Communications, creates new avenues to pursue treatments for neurological disorders such as Huntington’s disease. 

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Visualizing Government Arctic Sea Ice Fraud

Written by Tony Heller

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

– Upton Sinclair

Government agencies like NOAA, NASA and NSIDC start their sea ice graphs in 1979, in order to make it look like there is a linear decline in sea ice.

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Zealandia: Is there an eighth continent under New Zealand?

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Mount CookImage copyright: AFP

Image caption: Mount Cook, the highest peak of New Zealand – and Zealandia

You think you know your seven continents? Think again, as there’s a new contender hoping to join that club. Say hello to Zealandia, a huge landmass almost entirely submerged in the southwest Pacific.

It’s not a complete stranger, you might have heard of its highest mountains, the only bits showing above water: New Zealand. Scientists say it qualifies as a continent and have now made a renewed push for it to be recognised as such. In a paper published in the Geological Society of America’s Journal,researchers explain that Zealandia measures five million sq km (1.9m sq miles) which is about two thirds of neighbouring Australia.

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Antibiotic resistance: Scientists ‘unmask’ superbug-shielding protein

Written by Greg Dunlop

A digital representation of the EptA protein structureImage copyright: UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Image caption: A digital representation of the EptA protein

Australian scientists have mapped the molecular structure of a protein that shields superbugs from antibiotics.

It could help develop new drugs for antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains, the University of Western Australia researchers said. The protein, EptA, allows some strains to shrug off colistin, an antibiotic used when all other treatments fail.

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Solar Cycle 24 ‘historically weak’ and cosmic rays ‘on the rise’

Written by Paul Dorian

Historically weak solar cycle 24 continues to transition away from its solar maximum phase and towards the next solar minimum.  There have already been 11 spotless days during 2017 and this follows 32 spotless days that occurred during the latter part of 2016.

The blank look to the sun will increase in frequency over the next couple of years leading up to the next solar minimum – probably to be reached in late 2019 or 2020.  By one measure, the current solar cycle is the third weakest since record keeping began in 1755 and it continues a weakening trend since solar cycle 21 peaked in 1980.

One of the impacts of low solar activity is the increase of cosmic rays that can penetrate into the Earth’s upper atmosphere and this has some important consequences.

Third weakest solar cycle since 1755
A recent publication has analyzed the current solar cycle and has found that when sunspot anomalies are compared to the mean for the number of months after cycle start, there have been only two weaker cycles since observations began in 1755.  Solar cycle 24 began in 2008 after a historically long and deep solar minimum which puts more than eight years into the current cycle.  The plot (below) shows accumulated sunspot anomalies from the mean value after cycle start (97 months ago) and only solar cycles 5 and 6 had lower levels going all the way back to 1755.  The mean value is noted at zero and solar cycle 24 is running 3817 spots less than the mean.  The seven cycles preceded by solar cycle 24 had more sunspots than the mean.

An increase in cosmic rays
One of the consequences of extended periods of low solar activity is that it can result in an increase in stratospheric radiation.  Specifically, as sunspot activity goes down, there is an increase in cosmic rays that penetrate into the Earth’s upper atmosphere.  Cosmic rays are high-energy photons and subatomic particles accelerated in our direction by distant supernovas and other violent events in the Milky Way. Usually, cosmic rays are held at bay by the sun’s magnetic field, which envelops and protects all the planets in the Solar System. But the sun’s magnetic shield is weakening as the current solar cycle heads towards the next solar minimum and this allows more cosmic rays to reach the Earth’s atmosphere.

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PNAS climate clowns Ripped by Aussie Professor

Written by Dr Albert Parker

PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) called out over junk climate ‘science’ paper refuse to run detailed rebuttal letter from skeptic.

The publication at issue, ‘Centuries of thermal sea-level rise due to anthropogenic emissions of short-lived greenhouse gases,’ (PNAS January, 2017) is carefully dissected and disproved in a letter to PNAS submitted by Dr Albert Parker, a peer-reviewed expert debunking similar such claims. But because PNAS operates a closed door policy towards climate skeptic experts we are delighted to post Dr Parker’s detailed takedown below.

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Trump Makes NASA Add Astronauts To Moon Mission & Save $10 Billion

Written by Andrew Follett

NASA intends to send astronauts to orbit the moon in 2018 at the apparent request of President Donald Trump, potentially saving taxpayers $10 billion dollars.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator, sent a letter to the space agency’s employees saying they should “explore the feasibility” of sending astronauts to orbit the moon in 2018, apparently at the request of the Trump administration. Speeding up NASA’s plans to orbit the moon with astronauts could save money in the long term.

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Vitamin D pills ‘could stop colds or flu’

Written by James Gallagher

Pills in a woman's handImage copyright: THINKSTOCK

Vitamin D supplements could spare more than three million people from colds or flu in the UK each year, researchers claim.

The sunshine vitamin is vital for healthy bones, but also has a role in the immune system. The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, argues food should be fortified with the vitamin. But Public Health England (PHE) says the infections data is not conclusive, although it does recommend supplements. These, it says, should be taken for improved bone and muscle health.

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