Science Channel - InSCIder

23 Jul

NASA Seeks Proposals To Hunt For Alien Life On Jupiter Moon Europa

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.58.25 AMIf there's life out there, will we find it on Jupiter's icy moon Europa?

NASA recently put out a call for proposals for science instruments to "address fundamental questions about the icy moon and the search for life beyond Earth."

"The possibility of life on Europa is a motivating force for scientists and engineers around the world," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. "This solicitation will select instruments which may provide a big leap in our search to answer the question: are we alone in the universe?"

It's believed that Europa has a deep underground ocean that could be capable of sustaining life; a mission to Europa is planned for the 2020s and could cost $1 billion.

About 20 proposals will be selected in April 2015 and $25 million divided among their creators for development.

Tonight, How the Universe Works delves deep into Jupiter's core and in one segment, examines Galileo and the first time NASA dropped a probe into Jupiter's atmosphere:

Watch How the Universe Works TONIGHT at 9/8c on Science Channel

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22 Jul

Is The Yeti Real?

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.36.13 AMIs the Yeti a real creature roaming the mountains of Asia or is it a mythical beast akin to golems, gremlins and unicorns?

Tonight's episode of The Unexplained Files explores sightings both recent and historic to uncover the truth about the spine-chilling snowman.

Recent scientific analyses of hair purportedly belonging to both Bigfoot and the Yeti revealed that hair attributed to Bigfoot actually came from bears, wolves and humans -- but "hairs linked to the Yeti were determined to belong to a mysterious bear species that may not yet be known to science."

Could this unknown bear be the basis for the Yeti legend?

In 2013, a British geneticist linked hair samples from the Yeti to "a breed of Arctic bear that lived tens of thousands of years ago."

"Everyone in the Himalayas has no doubt that [Yetis] exist," Oxford University's Bryan Sykes told NBC News.

Is this video of a Yeti sighting real or an elaborate hoax?

Watch The Unexplained Files: The Yeti tonight at 10/9c on Science Channel.

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21 Jul

NASA Renames Kennedy Space Center Building To Honor Neil Armstrong

Amid commemorations of the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, on Monday morning NASA renamed a building at Kennedy Space Center in honor of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin, who stepped onto the lunar surface approximately 20 minutes after Armstrong, and fellow Apollo 11 crewmember Michael Collins ("the forgotten astronaut") were on hand to mark the occasion. The designation comes nearly two years after Armstrong's death.

"Neil was not just one small step. He always took it one step further," Collins reportedly said at the dedication ceremony.

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18 Jul

Where Were You During the Apollo 11 Moon Landing?

Forty-five years ago this weekend, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and humans entered a new era of exploration.

In a video commemorating the anniversary, celebrities, politicians and other prominent figures share their memories of that historic event.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 11.47.43 AM

Years of work -- and a lot of trial and error -- went into creating spacesuits capable of withstanding a trip to the moon.

The final product, which was better than any that came before it, consisted of three separate garments: a water-cooled layer, a pressurized inner suit and a nylon outer layer that provided protection from extreme temperatures.

In this clip from "Moon Machines," step into the factory that developed this suit:

Should America go back to the moon?

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17 Jul

Scientists Have Engineered Worms That Don't Get Drunk

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 2.13.22 PMNewly-created mutant worms don't get drunk, so what does this mean for humans?

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have engineered worms that don't become intoxicated by alcohol, "the first example of altering a human alcohol target to prevent intoxication in an animal," corresponding author Jon Pierce-Shimomura said in a statement.

According to a press release from the university, "The scientists accomplished this feat by inserting a modified human alcohol target into the worms..."

"One important aspect of this modified alcohol target, a neuronal channel called the BK channel, is that the mutation only affects its response to alcohol. The BK channel typically regulates many important functions including activity of neurons, blood vessels, the respiratory tract and bladder. The alcohol-insensitive mutation does not disrupt these functions at all."

The Verge explains:

"Normally, when worms are put in a petri dish that contains alcohol, they become drunk. For a worm, this mean not being able to wiggle from side to side as much. It also means crawling much more slowly. But with the modified channel, the worms acted just as they did without the alcohol."

Next up, the scientists will test their methods on mice, possibly leading to the eventual development of a "James Bond drug" that would allow humans to drink as much as they'd like without getting drunk.

If you're not going to get drunk while drinking, you may as well use that red wine for a pretty ingenious life hack.

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16 Jul

Will the Universe End With a Bang or a Whimper?

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

- 'The Hollow Men,' T. S. Eliot

When the universe finally ends, will it be through the powerful forces of gravity or the unendeding pull of expansion?

It's an ongoing debate, but one study suggests that the universe shouldn't even exist -- at least not according to Higgs physics.

"During the early universe, we expected cosmic inflation -- this is a rapid expansion of the universe right after the Big Bang," study co-author Robert Hogan told LiveScience. "This expansion causes lots of stuff to shake around, and if we shake it too much, we could go into this new energy space, which could cause the universe to collapse."

An analysis by our colleagues at DNews explains the quandary in-depth and concludes:

"So, if BICEP2′s observations are real and Higgs boson theory continues to strengthen, perhaps theorists will be buoyed-up in the knowledge that something else — something exotic — prevented cosmological inflation from collapsing the universe back down to a dot. Might there be another mechanism that counteracts the Higgs field’s universe-killing potential?"

Tonight, "How the Universe Works" explores different ways the universe might end and presents a picture of our universe as it looked 13 billion years ago, just after the Big Bang.
 
Here's a sneak peek:
 

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15 Jul

Meet the Men Who Live Under the Sea for Weeks at a Time

Somewhere beyond the sea under the sea, men live in a small, waterproof capsule for weeks at a time.

Tonight on "World's Strangest," you'll meet six men who spend 28 days at a time living in a 16-by-17-foot capsule. Why do they do it?

These men are saturation divers working for an oil company that requires maintaining pipes located deep under the water. Rather than surfacing daily and dealing with the effects of decompression -- and risking "the bends" -- the men stay underwater for longer periods of time so they can work for more days in a row.

Here's a sneak peek at tonight's episode:

"World's Strangest" airs TONIGHT at 8/7c on Science Channel.

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14 Jul

Inside the Wild and Wonderful World of Borneo

If you're ever in a jungle in Borneo, look up. You might catch sight of an orangutan, the biggest tree-dwelling animal in the world.

Borneo, the world's third-largest island, takes the spotlight on tonight's Mutant Planet (10/9c):

"Borneo: a strange place of mutant creatures and plants seen nowhere else on Earth. Pygmy forest mammals, weird co-evolved partnerships between plants and animals, the world’s rarest ape and incredible gliders, occupy these 130-million-year-old jungles."

Orangutans may be Borneo's most famous residents but they're also one of its most endangered. Habitat loss poses a major threat to the species as forests are cleared for palm oil production. (Learn more about palm oil from the World Wildlife Fund.)

Sometimes called the "man of the forest," orangutans share 97 percent of their DNA with humans. In fact, orangutans may be closer relatives to humans than chimpanzees.

Another fascinating and unusual resident of Borneo is the slow loris, the world's only venomous primate. Take a look:

To learn more about all the species that call Borneo home, be sure to tune in to Mutant Planet TONIGHT at 10/9c on Science Channel.

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11 Jul

Dry Ice, Not Liquid Water, Formed Gullies On Mars, NASA Says

PIA18400_ipImages taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that dry ice and not liquid water formed gullies on the surface of Mars.

"As recently as five years ago, I thought the gullies on Mars indicated activity of liquid water," said researcher Colin Dundas, of the U.S. Geological Survey, in a statement. "We were able to get many more observations, and as we started to see more activity and pin down the timing of gully formation and change, we saw that the activity is in winter."

Dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) is abundant on the red planet, NASA says.

According to the new report, "all of the fresh-appearing gullies seen on Mars can be attributed to processes currently underway, whereas earlier hypotheses suggested they formed thousands to millions of years ago when climate conditions were possibly conducive to liquid water on Mars."

This 2013 video from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory demonstrates what happens when dry ice meets sand dunes.

Here's a closer look at the search for signs of water on Mars:

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10 Jul

410-Million-Year-Old Arachnid Brought Back to Life in Extraordinary New Video

A 410-million-year-old relative of modern-day spiders crawls again in a remarkable new video from scientists at The University of Manchester and Berlin's Museum für Naturkunde.

The team used fossils to recreate the ancient arachnid's movements on open-source software; the creature is now extinct but "300 to 400 million years ago, seem to have been more widespread than spiders," palaeontologist Dr. Russell Garwood said in a statement.

Watch the arachnid in action:

If this arachnid were still living today, might it face off with the ogre-faced spider? We can only speculate...

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Welcome to the inSCIder, where you can connect with the people who bring Science Channel to life. Find out what's in the works here at SCIENCE, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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