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Kepler probe spots hundreds of possible new planets

Kepler Craft Reports Apparent Planetary Bonanza - Science News
Surveying thousands of stars for telltale twinkles that signal the passage of an orbiting planet, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered a whopping 706 candidate planets beyond the solar system. If confirmed, that motherlode would boost the number of known extrasolar planets, now estimated at 460, to well over a thousand. The trove, announced June 15, includes evidence of five stars that have full-fledged planetary systems. These exoplanet systems, if verified, would be the first known in which each planet creates a minieclipse as it transits, or passes in front, of its parent star. The amount of dimming and the duration of a transit offer information about planets, including their size, that cannot be gleaned by less direct methods of detection.

June 15, 2010

New emergency contraception works up to five days after sex

New morning-after pill effective and safe: FDA staff | Reuters
(Reuters) - A new, longer-lasting "morning-after" pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy appears to work with no unexpected side effects, U.S. health regulatory staff said in documents released on Tuesday. Data shows the one-pill treatment, called ella and made by French drugmaker HRA Pharma, is effective when taken as many as five days after unprotected sex, Food and Drug Administration staff reviewers said in documents released ahead of a public meeting on the drug scheduled for Thursday. At the meeting, FDA's panel of outside experts will decide whether to recommend the agency approve the drug for the U.S. market. If approved, Watson Pharmaceutical would sell the drug in the United States.

June 11, 2010

Seals use their whiskers to sense fish

BBC News - Seal whiskers sense faraway fish
Harbour seals may be able to detect fish up to 100m (328ft) away using only their whiskers, say scientists. Researchers used an artificial fish in their experiment, to create a "trail" in the water that a seal could detect. The described how a trained seal, named Henry, was able to indicate, with a twitch of its head, whether the fish moved to the right or to the left.

June 07, 2010

Autism linked to gastrointestinal bacteria

But does the bacteria cause the autism or does the autism create an environment for the bacteria? Gut bacteria may contribute to autism - health - 07 June 2010 - New Scientist
Children with autism appear to have a characteristic chemical signature in their urine which might form the basis of an early diagnostic test for the condition. The finding also adds weight the hypothesis that substances released by gut bacteria are contributing to the onset of the condition. Autism has previously been linked to metabolic abnormalities and gastrointestinal problems such as gut pain and diarrhoea. Several studies have also hinted at changes in gut bacteria in the faeces of children with autism.

Science: Lesbians raise better kids

Kids With Lesbian Parents Do Just Fine - US News and World Report
MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- When compared to teens of the same age, adolescents raised by lesbian parents are doing just fine socially, psychologically and academically, new research finds. Not only that, they have fewer social problems, and less aggressive and rule-breaking behaviors than other teens. The nearly 20-year study has followed 78 teens since their lesbian mothers were planning their pregnancies, and concluded that these children "demonstrate healthy psychological adjustment." These findings stand in contrast to what some vocal opponents of gay or lesbian parents might have expected. "One of the things that opponents of the equalities of gays and lesbians -- in marriage, parenting, adoption and foster care -- often bring up is the so-called gold standard of parenting, which defined by them is the traditional family where children are conceived in traditional ways and not through insemination or surrogates. But, when we compared the adolescents in our study to the so-called gold standard, we found the teens with lesbian mothers were actually doing better," said study author Dr. Nanette Gartrell, the Williams Distinguished Scholar at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law.

June 04, 2010

Ocean currents likely to spread oil across the Atlantic

Projected Reach of Oil Spill in Ocean Currents

June 03, 2010

Chinese scientists create microwave black hole

Scientists create artificial mini 'black hole'
Chinese researchers have successfully built an electromagnetic absorbing device for microwave frequencies. The device, made of a thin cylinder comprising 60 concentric rings of metamaterials, is capable of absorbing microwave radiation, and has been compared to an astrophysical black hole (which, in space, soaks up matter and light).

June 02, 2010

Are mobile phones killing off the honeybees?

Mobile phones responsible for disappearance of honey bee - Telegraph
Now researchers from Chandigarh's Punjab University claim they have found the cause which could be the first step in reversing the decline: They have established that radiation from mobile telephones is a key factor in the phenomenon and say that it probably interfering with the bee's navigation senses.