The Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory board said the agency's rules on vaccine trials could lead to unsafe or ineffective vaccines.
On Wednesday, North Korea's state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned people of the "danger of invading malicious viruses" inside an approaching storm.
The Indian results, published in the BMJ British Medical Journal, found that the plasma, which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people, did not help hospitalised patients fight off the infection, and failed to reduce death rates or halt progression to severe disease. The findings are a setback for a potential therapy that U.S. President Donald Trump touted in August as a "historic breakthrough", and one experts say has been used in some 100,000 patients in the United States already, despite limited evidence on its efficacy. Scientists not directly involved in the India study, which involved around 460 patients, said its results were disappointing but should not mean doctors give up hope altogether on convalescent plasma.
A new study describes the strength of diabolical ironclad beetle exoskeletons. The findings could help engineers create hardier vehicles and planes.
During a blip in time in the late Jurassic, a dinosaur that weighed no more than a chinchilla flung itself from tree to tree, spread its wings and tried to soar. In theory, it sounds beautiful -- an early attempt at flight before birds figured out the blueprint.In practice, it was chaotic.The dinosaur, Yi qi, only barely managed to glide, stretching out and shimmying its skin-flap, downy-feathered wings in a valiant attempt at flying. "It was rocketing from tree to tree, desperately trying not to slam into something," said Alex Dececchi, a paleontologist at Mount Marty University in South Dakota. "It wouldn't be something pleasant."Unsurprisingly, Yi qi is not an ancestor of modern birds. It went extinct after just a few million years, presumably doomed by its sheer lack of competency in the air. In a study published Thursday in the journal iScience, Dececchi and other researchers analyzed how Yi qi and the dinosaur Ambopteryx could have flown. Both animals were scansoriopterygids, a little-known group of small dinosaurs. The researchers did not expect the two to be great flyers, but their results painted a picture of bumbling creatures that weren't truly at home on the ground, among the trees or in the sky.Found by a farmer in northeastern China, Yi qi was first described in 2015 by paleontologists Xing Xu, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Xiaoting Zheng, of Linyi University. When Dececchi first learned about the dinosaur's bizarre anatomy, he was taken aback. "I said words that cannot be put into print," he said.In addition to the batlike wings, which had never before been observed in a dinosaur, Yi qi had an extraordinary long bone jutting out from its wrist. "Like Edward Scissorhands," said Michael Pittman, a paleontologist at the University of Hong Kong and an author on the paper.In 2018, Dececchi presented Yi qi in one of his classes as a way of teaching the scientific method: "Here's a weird creature. How do you think it would fly?" The more he thought about the question, the more he wanted to answer it.When Dececchi presented a preliminary paper on Yi qi at a conference in 2018, he saw a similar paper by Arindam Roy, a graduate student in Pittman's lab. The scientists decided to collaborate, with Pittman reconstructing the dinosaur's wing and Dececchi modeling its flight. When Ambopteryx was described in 2018, the scientists incorporated the dinosaur into the study.Pittman's lab scanned the fossil using a technique called laser-stimulated fluorescence to detect soft tissues that might have gone unnoticed when the Yi qi was first described. The laser technique revealed new soft tissues around the neck and face and provided close-up images of the membrane, which allowed Pittman to revise the model for what Yi qi's wing might have looked like.With wing models in hand, Dececchi ran the dinosaurs through a panoply of mathematical models to test its flight ability. "I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt: the biggest wings, the most muscles, the fastest flapping," he said.The creatures failed even the most generous models. Their pectoral muscles were too weak to achieve flapping flight. They could not sprint fast enough to launch themselves from the ground. They were poor turners. They could not even take off after running on an incline while furiously flapping their wings.The only scenario left was a bumbling glide wherein the dinosaurs stretched out their arms like flying squirrels and jumped from tree to tree, clattering among the branches.Xu, who led the study first describing Yi qi, said he found the new paper's analysis rigorous, although he was a bit surprised by how poorly the dinosaur seemed to fly. "I don't consider this a final word on the flight capabilities of Yi," he said, adding that the discovery of better-preserved specimens may produce different results."It's a nice exploration of an odd group," said Jingmai O'Connor, a curator of fossil reptiles at the Field Museum who also described Yi qi. "However, the authors seem to be reading too much into a handful of poorly preserved specimens." She noted that only three adult scansoriopterygid fossils are known to science.Yi qi and Ambopteryx's strategy may have worked in the short term. But as early birds took over the skies, eagle-size pterosaurs leered from above and wolf-size dinosaurs salivated from below, the scansoriopterygids tumbled into extinction.Although their failed flights offer little insight into how true birds evolved from dinosaurs, they shed light on the many ways that creatures tried to take to the skies. "The more fossils we find, the more we see how messy this evolutionary transition was," said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved with the research.In Dececchi's eyes, the dinosaurs might have skirted doom if they had more time to evolve past the equivalent of their awkward teen years. "Then today, you might have had bats, birds and these weird and wonderful guys," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
While it could be an apocalyptic scene out of a movie, it has become the reality of Colorado's wildfire season. One of Colorado’s smaller fires exploded late Wednesday from 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) to 196 square miles (508 square kilometers) and closed Rocky Mountain National Park. Fire officials say it has so far burned 265 square miles (686 square kilometers).
England's test and trace scheme needs improvement and it is hard to run an effective system when there are large and increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, UK chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said on Thursday.
Britain's new polar ship, the Sir David Attenborough, will leave for sea trials on Wednesday to be put through its paces before making its maiden voyage to Antarctica late next year to boost research into climate change. It will spend two weeks at sea off the coast of North Wales for technical trials before the shipyard formally hands it over. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will operate the ship, carrying out ice trials in the Arctic in early 2021 before it journeys to the Antarctic next November, where the BAS say it will transform UK research in polar regions.
A bowl of bird's nest soup can cost more than $100. The Asian delicacy is made from the dissolved nests of swiftlets, a bird native to Southeast Asia.
Over 25,650 participants have so far received their second shot of the vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, the company said. Moderna said its study includes more than 11,000 participants from minority communities, including 6,000 Hispanic or Latin-American participants and more than 3,000 Black or African-American participants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires at least two months of safety data after a full vaccination regime to review applications for emergency use authorization of an experimental vaccine.
Prepare emergency kits with essential items for all of the members of your household — but please don't buy all of the toilet paper.
When NASA's OSIRIS-REX spacecraft touched the surface of an asteroid Tuesday to gather a sample of rocks and dirt, the operation proceeded smoothly, to the glee of the mission's operators 200 million miles away on Earth.But the biggest question remained unanswered: How much of the asteroid did OSIRIS-REX pick up? Did it manage to gather any samples at all?On Wednesday, the mission managers released a video of the sampling mechanism hitting the surface of the asteroid, within 3 feet or so of where the spacecraft had been aimed."I must have watched about a hundred times last night," Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of the mission, said during a news conference Wednesday.The sampling mechanism set down partly on a rock about 8 inches wide. That could have caused a problem if it had prevented the mechanism from pressing up against the surface."But literally, we crushed it," Lauretta said. "When the spacecraft made contact, that rock appears to fragment and shatter, which is great news."A burst of nitrogen gas kicked up a cloud of rocks and dirt, as hoped."You can see that particles are flying all over the place," Lauretta said. "We really did kind of make a mess on the surface of this asteroid, but it's a good mess."The chances that spacecraft captured a sizable sample "have gone way, way up," he said. It will still be a few days before scientists can confirm how much material was trapped within the sample collector, which resembles an automobile air filter.On Thursday, the spacecraft will take photographs of the collection mechanism, which may show some of the asteroid soil stuck to velcro-like surfaces. On Saturday, it will conduct a pirouette to estimate how much material has been trapped inside."There's an incredibly clever physics experiment that the team has designed here called the sample mass measurement," Lauretta said during the NASA Television broadcast Tuesday.The robotic arm with the sample collector at the end will be extended, and then the spacecraft will be nudged into a spin Saturday."We're measuring a property called the moment of inertia," Lauretta said.The scientists will compare the rate of spin to what they measured before collecting a sample. Just as a skater with outstretched arms holding a barbell would spin slower than a skater holding nothing, OSIRIS-REX will spin slower depending on how much material was picked up.The calculation of the collected mass is to be completed by Monday. Lauretta said if the measurement shows more than 80 grams, or almost 3 ounces, that would be enough. Scientists are hoping for at least a couple of ounces, but it could be more than 4 pounds.If by unlucky chance OSIRIS-REX came up short Tuesday, it can try two more times. The next attempt would be at a backup site named Osprey in January.The collection of the asteroid sample is the climax of the $800 million mission, which launched four years ago. The spacecraft has been making detailed observations of Bennu -- a rock as wide as the Empire State Building is tall -- for two years, mapping features of its surface as small as a couple of inches wide. It even discovered that Bennu was shooting debris from its surface into space.The mission's controllers selected a spot inside a crater near Bennu's north pole that they named Nightingale. The spacecraft, 20 feet wide and about the size of a sport utility vehicle, had to navigate carefully to the target site, which is only 26 feet in diameter. In addition, it had to avoid a wall of rocks on the eastern edge of the crater. That included a pointy pillar nicknamed Mount Doom, which is as tall as a two- or three-story building.However, despite the risks, Nightingale offered the greatest potential scientific payoffs, with unobstructed fine-grained material that appears to contain carbon-rich minerals.Asteroids, mostly located in orbits between Mars and Jupiter, are bits that never coalesced into a planet, and planetary scientists hope that the samples from Bennu could shed light on what the young solar system was like when it formed 4.5 billion years ago. Asteroids like Bennu, which possesses carbon-rich minerals, may have provided the building blocks for life to arise on Earth.The asteroid is also being studied because its orbit could cause it to collide with Earth late in the 22nd century. The likelihood of such an occurrence is low, and the asteroid is not large enough to end human civilization should it occur.OSIRIS-REX -- the name is a shortening of Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer -- is to leave the asteroid next year and drop off the sample, which will parachute to a landing in Utah on Sept. 24, 2023.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
AstraZeneca's Oxford COVID-19 vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions programmed into it by its developers to successfully provoke a strong immune response, according to a detailed analysis carried out by independent UK scientists. "The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness," said David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, who led the research. AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
Spain has now reported 1,005,295 coronavirus cases, while France has recorded 1,000,369 cases, according to John Hopkins University data.
Health experts recommend wearing masks in public and keeping your distance from others in most cases, but whether you should do both could depend on the situation. “There’s no invisible force field at 6 feet,” said Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University. Other factors could also influence whether it’s best to keep your distance while also wearing a mask.
The US Food and Drug Administration should not approve a vaccine before full clinical trials are completed, said ECRI, a nonprofit patient safety organization.
A trio of space travelers safely returned to Earth on Thursday after a six-month mission on the International Space Station. The Soyuz MS-16 capsule carrying NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan at 7:54 a.m. (2:54 GMT) Thursday. After a brief medical checkup, the three will be taken by helicopters to Dzhezkazgan from where they will depart home.
NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft crushed rocks and sent rubble flying as it briefly touched an asteroid, a strong indication that samples were collected for return to Earth, officials said Wednesday. Scientists won't know until next week how much was gathered at asteroid Bennu — they want at least a handful of the cosmic rubble. “We really did kind of make a mess on the surface of this asteroid, but it’s a good mess, the kind of mess we were hoping for,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona at Tucson.
The US should have enough doses for seniors, healthcare workers, and first responders by the end of January, Azar said.
“Until solar and wind power take more of the energy load, I like not paying an arm and a leg to heat my house.”
“It is imperative to ramp down greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible.”
“Any kind of ban on fracking would cause severe damage to our stressed economy.”
“Climate scientists are urging us to leave all fossil fuels in the ground so that they’ll never be burned. That includes natural gas.”
“Any immediate economic repercussions to the economy can be offset if oil-and-gas companies are made to pay their fair share.”