SciNews, Monday, September 12, 2016

Swearing reveals much about us; scientist eats first CRISPR meal; renewal energy breakthrough; 13 winners split $900 million; self-sailing boat located; gravitational waves appear 10 million years later; asteroid mission hopes to learn origins of life on earth; SpaceX rocket explodes – just a few of the themes in today’s eclectic collection of SciNews.  Share these stories with your students and get them excited about science.

SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

Cognitive scientist puts profanity in its place. Science News

Few of the expletives discussed in cognitive scientist Benjamin Bergen’s new book can be spelled out in this review. But Bergen argues, in a bluntly engaging way, that the largely secret science of swearing reveals much about who we are.  Read more…

Did a Swedish researcher eat the first CRISPR meal ever served? Science Mag

In what Swedish plant scientist Stefan Jansson declares “maybe” a historic event, he cultivated, grew, and ate a plant that had its genome edited with CRISPR-Cas9. Umeå University, where Jansson studies how trees know it’s autumn and how proteins allow plants to harvest light, released a 5 September press release about his meal, a pasta dish that included 300 grams of cabbage he grew from seeds that had been genetically modified with CRISPR-Cas9. The revolutionary technology vastly simplifies the editing of genes, and has triggered many debates about whether its plant products should be considered a genetically modified organism (GMO) and subject to regulation.  Read more…


13698187_s from 123rf

Renewable energy breakthrough: Solar-powered reaction 100 times faster. Science Daily

Researchers have developed a tough new catalyst that carries out a solar-powered reaction 100 times faster than ever before, works better as time goes on and stands up to acid. Read more…

Ottawa unveils research fund winners. Globe and Mail

Thirteen large-scale initiatives led by universities across Canada are the winners in a high-stakes federal competition aimed at helping the country’s top scientists make a mark in the global research arena.

The projects will split a total of $900-million in federal funding to build on Canada’s existing strengths, and advance knowledge in fields as diverse as data science and sustainable food production. Read more…


18685938_s from 123rf

Damaged and adrift UBC Sailbot relocated as boat regains power. CBC

After a self-sailing boat aiming to sail from Newfoundland to Ireland was damaged and began drifting helplessly off course, the boat’s crew has located the vessel.

The University of British Columbia Sailbot team that built Ada, a five-metre autonomous ‘sailbot’, said in a statement that their “hearts jumped” when they began receiving notifications again from the boat on Tuesday morning.  Read more…

First gravitational waves form after 10 million years. Science Daily

If two galaxies collide, the merging of their central black holes triggers gravitational waves, which ripple throughout space. An international research team has now calculated that this occurs around 10 million years after the two galaxies merge — much faster than previously assumed.  Read more…

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

NASA asteroid mission hopes to learn origins of life on Earth. CBC

NASA will send a spacecraft barrelling towards an asteroid, in a seven-year round trip launching Thursday to scoop up and bring back samples from the rock’s surface.

This will be the organization’s first send-and-return mission to an asteroid, and it has an ambitious goal: to discover the origins of life on Earth.  Read more…

SpaceX rocket explodes on Florida Launchpad. Science News

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite passenger went up in flames during a routine test September 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX was preparing to launch the AMOS-6 satellite for the Israeli company Spacecom on September 3, as part of a larger Facebook project aimed at beaming internet to parts of sub-Saharan Africa from space. The explosion occurred during the static fire engine test that usually precedes such launches. Falcon 9 fires its engines in two stages, and the test entails running the rocket’s first-stage engines while remaining grounded on the launchpad. Read more… 

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