Science: What Geeks are talking about from US News and World Report

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Here is the latest Science News from US News and World Report.

Ban on drones over Pennsylvania lands gets preliminary OK
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Game Commission has given preliminary approval to banning drones over 1.5 million acres of state game lands after reports of the unmanned craft near bald eagles’ nests and drones interfering with migrating waterfowl.

Scientists bemoan SeaWorld decision to stop breeding orcas
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — While SeaWorld’s decision to end its orca breeding program has delighted animal rights activists, it has disappointed many marine scientists.

Fever: Federal report says global warming making US sick
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government says man-made global warming is making America sicker and it’s only going to get worse.

Rare Sumatran rhinoceros, captured on Borneo, dies
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A rare Sumatran rhinoceros has died just a month after being captured by Indonesian conservation experts on Borneo where only of a few of the animals survive.

Cambodia to repopulate forests with tigers from abroad
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia is planning to reintroduce tigers from abroad into the dry forests of the country, where the big cat has become virtually extinct thanks to poaching.

Mexico City smog alert forces 40 pct of cars off the road
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico City is heading into a second day of a pollution alert and has raised the number of cars that must stay off the streets because smog is at 1½ times acceptable limits.

Gaza workers discover what could be an ancient church
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian tourism officials say construction workers in the Gaza Strip have discovered what they believe to be a Christian religious site from the Byzantine era.

Vietnam warns of dire impact from planned Mekong dams
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has predicted “very high adverse effects” on the Mekong River environment and economy if 11 proposed dams are built on its lower mainstream.

Grouse suit seeks to block new fences on BLM land in Nevada
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists are suing the Bureau of Land Management to block construction of fences in northern Nevada that they say are intended to appease livestock ranchers at the risk of harming sage grouse and the drought-stricken federal rangeland.

Pollution alert in Mexico City on eve of new driving rule
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico City authorities have declared a pollution alert after smog rose to 1½ times acceptable limits on the eve of an unpopular new program to reduce the number of cars on the road in hopes of improving the capital’s dirty air.

Tribe on front lines of fight over nuclear lab contamination
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The tribal community of San Ildefonso Pueblo sits in the shadow of Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the nation’s premier laboratories and the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

APNewsBreak: Judge says climate change threatens wolverines
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge says the Obama administration brushed over the threat of climate change to the snow-loving wolverine when it denied protections for the elusive predator also known as the “mountain devil.”

Small fish eaten by bigger species protected on West Coast
SEATTLE (AP) — Federal officials finalized rules Monday for a West Coast ban on catching forage fish, the small fish that larger species, seabirds and marine mammals depend on for food.

Blue Origin successfully tests same rocket for third time
VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — A private space company completed its third successful unmanned rocket launch and safe landing in West Texas with the same vehicle it used during previous tests.

Syria’s Palmyra: Ghost town bearing scars of IS destruction
PALMYRA, Syria (AP) — Explosions rocked the ancient town of Palmyra on Friday and on the horizon, black smoke wafted behind its majestic Roman ruins, as Syrian army experts carefully detonated hundreds of mines they say were planted by Islamic State militants before they fled the town.

Central Japan shaken by offshore magnitude-6.1 earthquake
TOKYO (AP) — An offshore earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6 has shaken a wide swath of central and western Japan. No tsunami warning has been issued, and there are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Gray whale puts on show at Southern California beach
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A Pacific gray whale put on a show at Southern California’s Redondo Beach, popping its huge head out of the waves and rolling around in the surf.

Bat-killing disease found in Washington state, first in West
SEATTLE (AP) — A fungal disease that has killed millions of bats nationwide has spread to Washington state, the first time white-nose syndrome has turned up in the western United States, federal wildlife officials said Thursday.

Alaska air traffic resumes as volcano eruptions wane
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A village not far from an erupting Alaska volcano urged residents to stay indoors after the mountain rained down ash, coating ground areas and turning some rooftops and car windows black.

Average snowpack could prolong California water conservation
FRESNO, California (AP) — State drought surveyors will trudge through deep snow Wednesday to manually measure what could be close to a normal Sierra Nevada snowpack for this time of year.

Average snowpack could prolong California water conservation
ECHO SUMMIT, California (AP) — A nearly average spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will likely prolong tough water conservation measures in drought-stricken California — although the restrictions could be loosened in some areas after an El Nino storm system drenched the northern half of the state this winter, officials said.

Mexico City temporarily restricts all cars after smog alert
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Metropolitan authorities on Wednesday temporarily ordered all cars to remain idle one day a week in response to this notoriously smoggy capital’s worst air-quality crisis in over a decade.

Study: Antarctic ice may melt faster than expected
WASHINGTON (AP) — Warmer air, less frigid water and gravity may combine to make parts of Antarctica’s western ice sheet melt far faster than scientists had thought, raising sea levels much more than expected by the end of the century, according to a new study.

Man arrested after vehicle rams Mauna Kea telescope facility
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A man is under arrest after police say he rammed a vehicle into a radio telescope facility atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea.

Report details cause of 2014 radiation leak at national lab
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Compromised equipment caused a radiation leak at the Idaho National Laboratory two years ago and faulty air monitors failed to detect the release that exposed nine workers, a new report says.

Partial skull of Columbian mammoth found in Oklahoma
ALVA, Okla. (AP) — A partial skull and two tusks of a prehistoric Columbian mammoth have been found in northwest Oklahoma.

Feds: Risk of 2016 quake increases, especially in Oklahoma
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal scientists say the chance of damaging earthquakes hitting east of the Rockies has increased significantly, much of it a man-made byproduct of drilling for energy. Oklahoma now has a 1 in 8 chance of damaging quakes in 2016, surpassing California as the state with the highest probability.

New NASA launch control software late, millions over budget
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Launch control software under development for NASA’s deep-space exploration program is more than a year behind schedule and tens of millions of dollars over budget.

Arctic sea ice reaches new record low mark for wintertime
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal scientists say the winter maximum level of Arctic sea ice was the smallest they’ve seen, thanks to extraordinarily warm temperatures.

Meteorologists may soon give 50-day notice for extreme heat
WASHINGTON (AP) — Meteorologists may soon be able to predict likelihood of extreme heat in the Eastern United States as much as 50 days in advance, according to a new study.

Study: Juneau Ice Field to shrink if warming continues
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Rhode Island-size ice field in the mountains behind Alaska’s capital could disappear by 2200 if climate-warming trends continue, according to a University of Alaska Fairbanks study.

Federal oil, gas leases stall over bird concerns in US West
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Concerns over a bird that ranges across the American West continue to delay federal oil and gas lease sales, five months after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell proclaimed the Obama administration had found a way to balance drilling and conservation.

Baby seal found 4 miles from water in San Francisco Bay Area
FREMONT, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a baby seal made it 4 miles from the water to the front yard of a home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

North America’s oldest orangutan born in zoo dies in Seattle
SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle zoo says North America’s oldest orangutan born in a zoo has died after struggling with respiratory problems.

Man who predicted space shuttle Challenger disaster dies
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Bob Ebeling had spent three decades filled with guilt over not stopping the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, but found relief in the weeks before his death.

Microbe with stripped-down DNA may hint at secrets of life
NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists have deleted nearly half the genes of a microbe, creating a stripped-down version that still functions, an achievement that might reveal secrets of how life works.

Japanese fleet returns with quota of 333 whales in Antarctic
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s whaling fleet has returned with 333 whales it caught in its first Antarctic harvest since an international court ruling stopped its hunt two years ago.

Bob Ebeling, Man Who Predicted Challenger Disaster, Dies
Bob Ebeling spent three decades filled with guilt, but found relief in the weeks before his death Monday.

Swedish university fires stem cell scientist over negligence
LONDON (AP) — Sweden’s Karolinska University says it has fired Italian stem cell scientist Paolo Macchiarini, whose work was once considered revolutionary but has since been deemed to have breached medical ethics.

Space station cargo launching by light of nearly full moon
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Fresh supplies are due to ship out late Tuesday for the International Space Station, where the shelves finally are getting full after a string of failed supply runs.

Lights out: Cities worldwide mark the 10th annual Earth Hour
NEW YORK (AP) — Cities around the world turned out the lights Saturday evening to mark the 10th annual Earth Hour, a global movement dedicated to protecting the planet and highlighting the effects of climate change.

This week’s space station delivery rich in science and tech
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A space station supply ship is set to blast off Tuesday night with a commercial-quality 3-D printer for astronaut as well as public use — for a price — and the makings for a large-scale fire.

UN: After hot 2015, new normal is hotter world temperatures
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. weather agency is warning that hotter weather appears to be here to stay and says the Paris climate accord last year shouldn’t give way to complacency about global warming.

Advanced UK research ship may be named ‘Boaty McBoatface’
LONDON (AP) — It’s a name that might suit a rubber ducky, not an extremely expensive state-of-the-art research vessel designed to explore the coldest regions on Earth.

Leonardo DiCaprio says China can be ‘climate change hero’
BEIJING (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio has praised China’s work to combat climate change and says he believes the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases could be “the hero of the environmental movement.”

Researcher: New butterfly has clues to geology, climate
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A new species of butterfly could provide clues about Alaska’s geological history and its changing climate, according to a University of Florida researcher.

New crew boards International Space Station
MOSCOW (AP) — A Soyuz space capsule carrying two Russians and an American has docked with the International Space Station and the new crew has boarded the orbiting laboratory.

Seismologist Lucy Jones retiring from US Geological Survey
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Seismologist Lucy Jones, the face of earthquake science and safety in Southern California for many years, is retiring from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Air pollution alert for greater Mexico City lifted
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A four-day air pollution emergency alert in Mexico City was lifted Thursday after authorities ordered some cars off the road and atmospheric conditions improved.

In death, a crow’s big brain fires up memory, learning
SEATTLE (AP) — Scientists for years have known that crows have great memories, that they can recognize a human face and behavior, and can pass that information onto their offspring.

Hawaii Air Force unit getting own power grid that uses trash
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AP) — The Air Force unit that defends Hawaii skies will get experimental energy technology that uses trash to generate power and relies on its own small electrical grid — a system intended to keep the unit operating if a bomb, cyberattack or natural disaster knocks out the local utility.

Seabird die-off takes twist with carcasses in Alaska lake
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The massive die-off of a widely distributed North Pacific seabird continues to surprise federal scientists.

Michigan death after infection linked to Wisconsin outbreak
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Health officials have confirmed that a western Michigan resident died after contracting a bloodstream infection matching a Wisconsin outbreak.

Beyond record hot, February was ‘astronomical’ and ‘strange’
WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth got so hot last month that federal scientists described the temperatures as “astronomical,” ”staggering” and “strange,” warning that the climate may have moved into a new, hotter neighborhood.

Vietnam’s southern delta faces worst drought in history
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Officials say Vietnam’s southern Mekong Delta, the country’s main rice growing region, is experiencing the worst drought and saline intrusion in recent history.

School being renamed in honor of astronaut twin brothers
WEST ORANGE, N.J. (AP) — Scott Kelly, the astronaut who has spent a U.S.-record 520 days in space, will have his name on a New Jersey elementary school — and so will his twin brother, Mark.

Prehistoric puzzle no more: Illinois fossil a vertebrate
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — For decades, fossil hunters combing the soil near a creek in north-central Illinois have been rewarded with the preserved remnants of a prehistoric creature, its wide-set eyes on stalks and a long, arm-like appendage extending from below them with a pincer-like mouth.

Fossil find sheds light on how evolution produced T. rex
NEW YORK (AP) — How did evolution produce a monstrous killer like T. rex? A fossil find in Central Asia is giving scientists a glimpse of the process.

Site of 1503 shipwreck tied to Vasco da Gama found off Oman
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Archaeologists say they’ve discovered the site where a ship, which was part of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gamma’s fleet, sank off the coast of modern-day Oman in 1503.

Climate chief expects 80-100 signatures on landmark treaty
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The official in charge of global climate negotiations says between 80 and 100 countries are expected to sign the landmark agreement to tackle climate change reached in Paris in December at a ceremony at U.N. headquarters on April 22.

Panel: Finding climate fingerprints in wild weather is valid
WASHINGTON (AP) — A high-level panel says climate science has progressed enough that researchers can accurately detect global warming’s fingerprints on certain wild weather events.

US secretary: Teddy bear’s inspiration off ‘threatened’ list
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Louisiana black bear, the animal behind the “teddy’s bear” inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt, has rebounded enough to pull it off the list of federally protected species, the government says.

Feds invest nearly $7M in small business to boost clean tech
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government is investing nearly $7 million in 33 small businesses across the country to build partnerships with national laboratories in hopes of speeding up development of clean energy technology, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday.

Wild mountain lion may have killed Los Angeles Zoo koala
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials believe P-22, a wild mountain lion that prowls a sprawling Los Angeles park, made a meal of a koala found mauled to death at the city’s zoo.

Feds: Still hope for El Nino drenching Southern California
WASHINGTON (AP) — Even though Southern California hasn’t gotten the drought-busting rainy windfall some might have expected from El Nino, federal scientists hold out hope for the next several weeks.

Zookeeper in North Dakota carrying orphaned kangaroo
WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) — A keeper at a North Dakota zoo has become a first-time mom. But the baby she carries around the clock in a colorful flannel pouch is not a little human, it’s an orphaned kangaroo.

AP Interview: Syrian cosmonaut: Europe must help oust Assad
BURSA, Turkey (AP) — Syria’s first man in space says European nations should help remove President Bashar Assad from office to bring an end to the refugee crisis.

Prayers, cheers as total eclipse darkens swath of Asia
PALEMBANG, Indonesia (AP) — People gazed at the sky in wonder and cheered while others knelt in prayer as a total eclipse of the sun unfolded over Indonesia on Wednesday, briefly plunging cities into darkness and startling wildlife.

Winter warmer-land: US breaks record for hottest winter
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal meteorologists say the winter that has just ended was the hottest in U.S. records, thanks to the combination of El Nino and man-made global warming.

Fans to catch flight for prime view of total solar eclipse
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Skygazers from around the country are catching a flight from Alaska to Hawaii on Tuesday for prime viewing of a total solar eclipse that will unfold over parts of Indonesia and the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Total eclipse of the sun unfolds over Indonesia
PALEMBANG, Indonesia (AP) — People gazed at the sky in wonder and cheered while others knelt in prayer as a total eclipse of the sun unfolded over Indonesia.

Slovenia awaits birth of new generation of ‘baby dragons’
POSTOJNA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia is counting down the days until the birth of a new generation of “baby dragons.”

Russian explorers claim world-record dive into icy waters
MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Geographical Society says two of its explorers have achieved the deepest dive ever recorded below ice.

AP Investigation: American company bungled Ebola response
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Associated Press investigation has found that an American company that bills itself as a pioneer in identifying emerging epidemics made a series of costly mistakes during the 2014 Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa.

Q&A: Total eclipse of the sun to darken slice of Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The rare and awe-inspiring spectacle of a total solar eclipse will unfold over parts of Indonesia and the Indian and Pacific Oceans on Wednesday, weather permitting. The full eclipse may be visible to several million people within its narrow path including eclipse chasers who have traveled from around the world for a chance to witness it.

Q&A: Total eclipse of the sun to darken slice of Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The rare and awe-inspiring spectacle of a total solar eclipse will unfold over parts of Indonesia and the Indian and Pacific Oceans on Wednesday, weather permitting. The full eclipse may be visible to several million people within its narrow path including eclipse chasers who have traveled from around the world for a chance to witness it.

SpaceX launches satellite, tries to land rocket on barge
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has another launch under its belt. The jury is still out on the rocket landing.

Revamped satellite data shows no pause in global warming
WASHINGTON (AP) — Climate change doubters may have lost one of their key talking points: a particular satellite temperature dataset that had seemed to show no warming for the past 18 years.

Yearlong spaceman back home in Houston with family, pool
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA space champ Scott Kelly is finally back home in Houston with his family and the swimming pool that he craved throughout his yearlong absence from Planet Earth.

The Latest: Feds move to lift Yellowstone bear protections
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on a proposal by the federal government to lift threatened-species protections for Yellowstone-area grizzlies (all times local):

Epic journey through Los Angeles set for space shuttle tank
LOS ANGELES (AP) — ET is coming home.

NASA: Drought in 1998-2012 in Mideast worst in 900 years
JERUSALEM (AP) — A recent, 14-year dry spell in the Middle East was the worst drought in the past 900 years, according to a new NASA study released this week.

Astronomers spot record distant galaxy from early cosmos
WASHINGTON (AP) — Astronomers say they have discovered a hot, star-popping galaxy that is far, far away — farther than any previously detected, from a time when the universe was a mere toddler of about 400 million years old.

Oregon lawmakers approve pioneering pro-climate coal bill
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers have given final approval to pioneering legislation that will eliminate coal from the state’s energy supply by 2030 and provide half of customers’ power with renewable sources by 2040.

Astronomers, billboard companies clash over signs that shine
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona has long been a haven for astronomers who take advantage of its mountain peaks and vast stretches of dark, desert sky to gaze at stars and planets. The state is also home to a thriving billboard industry whose signs light up a vast network of freeways.

Yearlong spacemen embrace fresh, frigid air back on Earth
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Ah, there’s nothing like a blast of fresh, frigid air to welcome you back to the planet after nearly a year cooped up in space.

NASA spaceman back from record year flight; gives thumbs up
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is closing the door on a space mission that has spanned a U.S.-record 340 days.

China plans to launch 2nd space station, crewed mission
BEIJING (AP) — Rising space power China is preparing to place a second experimental space station into orbit this year followed by a pair of astronauts who will dock with it and live on board for several days.

Puerto Rico braces for wave of mosquito-borne Zika virus
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Leilani Dominicci has all the typical worries of pregnant women plus a new one spreading across Puerto Rico: the fear she will become infected with the Zika virus and put her baby at risk.

Grand Canyon weighs killing, capturing bison to cut numbers
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The National Park Service is looking at using sharpshooters, capture and other methods to reduce the number of bison that are roaming the far northern reaches of the Grand Canyon and damaging resources, officials said.

Mexico documents big rebound in monarch butterflies
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Monarch butterflies have made a big comeback in their wintering grounds in Mexico, after suffering serious declines, investigators said Friday.

UN science report warns of fewer bees, other pollinators
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new United Nations report warns that many species of wild bees, butterflies and other critters that pollinate plants are shrinking toward extinction. It says the world needs to do something about it before food supplies suffer.

SpaceX calls off rocket launch at last minute
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — It’s another launch delay for SpaceX.

Just before Oscars, plant named for hero of “The Martian”
NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Damon may not win the Oscar for best actor on Sunday, but the character he played in “The Martian” has gotten its own recognition.

Colorful baby lobster photo wins award for Maine biologist
ORONO, Maine (AP) — A University of Maine graduate student’s picture of a colorful tiny larval lobster has won a National Science Foundation award.

Mouse sperm made in lab; technique may help with infertility
NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists have produced rudimentary mouse sperm from stem cells in the laboratory, a step that may lead to a treatment for infertile men.

Stillbirth offers another clue to possible damage from Zika
WASHINGTON (AP) — A stillbirth in Brazil is offering another clue to possible health effects of the Zika virus, this time beyond the developing brain.

Environmentalists sue for more rules to protect sage grouse
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups are suing to force the Obama administration to impose more restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing and other activities blamed for the decline of greater sage grouse across the American West.

California condors reach key survival milestone in the wild
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A captive breeding program that once included every living California condor has passed a key milestone in helping North America’s largest bird return to the wild.

US, Canada to seek 40 percent cut in Lake Erie phosphorus
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. and Canadian governments have agreed to seek steep cuts in phosphorus runoff into sections of Lake Erie plagued by harmful algae blooms that foul drinking water and kill fish.

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