In four billion years, the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies will collide, according to a study in the Astrophysical Journal. Roeland van der Marel, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, talks about how this discovery was made, and the fate of our solar system.
Australian researcher Scott O'Neill is leading a charge to rid the world of dengue fever. And it's a real team sport, he says: "We don't work in isolation in any projects in science these days. The days of having someone beavering away by themselves in the backroom have long gone."
Scientists have deciphered the entire genetic code of a fetus, taking a sample from the mother's blood. While less risky than current alternatives, it also leaps into the abortion debate, with parents eventually having the option to test for all kinds of traits.
Scott O'Neill's big idea to rid the world of dengue is both clever and complex: He wants to infect mosquitoes with bacteria so they can't carry the virus that causes the disease. "I was incredibly persistent in not wanting to give this idea up," he says. But advances aren't easy: "It's incredibly frustrating work."
The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, a charity that helps raise money to support the NIH, today announced a $100,000 prize to encourage young scientists. A big check awaits an outstanding young researcher, who happens to be as old as 52.
Twice every 100 years or so, Venus crosses the face of the Sun. It's like an eclipse, except Venus will look like a pea in a yellow saucer. But the transit has a storied history — it showed for the first time that other planets have an atmosphere, and also allowed astronomers to calculate the scale of the solar system. This year offers yet another possibility — the transit will help astronomers figure out which planets orbiting other suns in the universe have atmospheres, and maybe life.
Less than 250 years ago, the brightest minds of the Enlightenment were stumped over how far the Earth is from the sun. The transits of the 1760s helped answer that question, providing a virtual yardstick for the universe.
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