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Cassini: Saturn probe turns towards its death plunge

Cassini: Saturn probe turns towards its death plunge

Science
The international Cassini spacecraft at Saturn has executed the course correction that will send it to destruction at the end of the week.The probe flew within 120,000km of the giant moon Titan on Monday - an encounter that bent its trajectory just enough to put it on a collision path with the ringed planet. Nothing can now stop the death plunge in Saturn's atmosphere on Friday. Cassini will be torn to pieces as it heads down towards the clouds.Its components will melt and be dispersed through the planet's gases.Ever since it arrived at Saturn 13 years ago, the probe has used the gravity of Titan - the second biggest moon in the Solar System - to slingshot itself into different positions from which to study the planet and its stunning rings. It has been a smart strategy because Cassini wou...
Study shows impact of global warming on coffee production

Study shows impact of global warming on coffee production

Science
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- A recent study by the University of Vermont found global warming could reduce coffee growing areas in Latin America by as much as 88 percent by 2050.Researchers from the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Environment found climate change will continue to negatively impact coffee production, as well as bee populations, essential to coffee farming."Coffee is one of the most valuable commodities on earth, and needs a suitable climate and pollinating bees to produce well," Taylor Ricketts, director of the UVM's Gund Institute for Environment, said in a press release. "This is the first study to show how both will likely change under global warming -- in ways that will hit coffee producers hard."The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of S...
Tackling the canine obesity crisis

Tackling the canine obesity crisis

Science
When it comes to man's best friend, science may finally have solved the mystery of their gluttony - some Labradors, it seems, are genetically predisposed to being hungry. That's according to scientists who were discussing their ongoing mission to improve our favourite pets' health at the British Science Association Festival in Brighton. Several research teams in the UK are on a mission to improve canine health. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have studied the appetite of Britain's favourite dog breed, and suggest Labradors are genetically at risk of becoming overweight.Roughly a quarter of British households own a pet dog, and Labrador retrievers remain our most popular canine companion. However, this stereotypically "greedy" breed often suffers size-related health problems. Bla...
Monarch butterflies disappearing from western U.S., researchers say

Monarch butterflies disappearing from western U.S., researchers say

Science
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The monarch butterfly populations in western North America have declined dramatically and face a greater risk of extinction, a new study shows.Scientists at Washington State University found that the decline in western monarch butterfly populations was significantly more than previously believed and greater than eastern monarchs."Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts," Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver, said in a press release. "In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000."Beginning in the 1990s, residents of coastal California noticed that the common monarch butterfly seemed to be disappearing."This study doesn't just show that there are f...
Scientists design software that detects when people are texting and driving

Scientists design software that detects when people are texting and driving

Science
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Scientists at the University of Waterloo have created a computer algorithm that can accurately determine when drivers are texting while driving.Distracted drivers are to blame for up to 75 percent of all traffic accidents worldwide, researchers say."It has a huge impact on society," Fakhri Karray, a University Research chair and director of the Center for Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, or CPAMI, at Waterloo, said in a press release.The system uses cameras and artificial intelligence to detect hand movements that deviate from normal driving behavior, such as from texting or talking on the phone, and grades them in terms of safety threats.The algorithms were trained using machine-learning techniques to recognize actions such as texting, talking on the phone or re...