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Science News: What's Next for NASA's Orion Spaceship After Historic 1st Flight?

What's Next for NASA's Orion Spaceship After Historic 1st Flight?NASA's Orion capsule has come back down to Earth after its first-ever test flight, and the spacecraft will remain on terra firma for a while. The unmanned, 4.5-hour mission, which NASA calls Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), was designed to test out Orion's heat shield, avionics and other systems in the space environment. "We really pushed Orion as much as we could to give us real data that we can use to improve Orion’s design going forward," Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer said in a statement Friday.


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Science News: BlackBerry, NantHealth launch cancer genome browser

The Blackberry sign is pictured in WaterlooBy Euan Rocha TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd and NantHealth, a healthcare-focused data provider, launched a secure cancer genome browser on Sunday, giving doctors the ability to access patients' genetic data on the BlackBerry Passport smartphone. Earlier this year, BlackBerry bought a minority stake in privately held NantHealth. The mobile technology company sees healthcare as one of the niche sectors in which it has an advantage, due to the heightened focus on patient privacy and BlackBerry's vast networks that can manage and secure data on mobile devices. ...


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Science News: Hookah Smoke Contains Cancer-Causing Chemical

Hookah Smoke Contains Cancer-Causing ChemicalPeople who smoke a hookah or inhale secondhand hookah smoke may be breathing in the chemical benzene, a substance that previous research has linked with an increased risk of leukemia, according to a new study. They also collected urine samples from 103 people who didn't smoke hookah tobacco but attended events where they'd be exposed to hookah smoke, to test the effect of secondhand hookah smoke on these people's bodies. The researchers found that urine levels of a compound called S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), which forms when benzene is broken down in the body, increased more than fourfold in the hookah smokers who smoked at a hookah lounge, and increased almost twofold in the people who smoked hookah tobacco at home. Moreover, levels of SPMA in the urine of people who were at a hookah lounge but hadn't smoked were 2.6 times higher after they were exposed to the hookah smoke in lounges.


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Science News: Genes May Play Greater Role in Lou Gehrig's Disease

In most cases of Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), it's not known what caused the condition, but a new study finds genes may play a larger role than previously thought. But the new study, which analyzed DNA from nearly 400 people with ALS, found that more than a quarter of sporadic cases were linked to new or rare genetic mutations, which could potentially cause the disease. "These findings shed new light on the genetic origins of ALS, especially in patients who had no prior family history of the disease," said study researcher Dr. Robert Baloh, director of the ALS Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The study does not prove that these new or rare genetic mutations cause ALS, but the mutations are likely suspects, Baloh said.

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Science News: NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Wakes Up for Pluto Encounter in 2015

NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Wakes Up for Pluto Encounter in 2015LAUREL, Md. — Pluto, get ready for your close-up: A NASA spacecraft has roused itself from the final slumber of its nine-year trek to the edge of the solar system, setting the stage for the first close encounter with Pluto next year.


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