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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHmcV6bzeCY A cable that's as long as six football fields has been launched into orbit — and when it's deployed, it'll test an idea to knock out orbital debris. Japan's space agency sent the electrodynamic tether into space along with supplies for the International Space Station. Reels aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kounotori 6 craft will deploy the 700-meter (2,296 feet) tether, essentially unspooling a clothesline in space that could help...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Astronaut, senator, national hero - that's how we're remembering John Glenn. He died yesterday at the age of 95. If John Glenn had never left his hometown of New Concord, Ohio, he'd likely still be extraordinary, just on a smaller stage. But because he left, we all got to soar a little higher. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Friendship 7 climbing rapidly out of the Earth's atmosphere exerts a...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Next we go to North Dakota where it is bitterly cold. Opponents to the Dakota Access Pipeline have been camped out there and protesting for months. Now organizers are trying to get people to stop coming and those who are there to go home and wait for the next legal battle to play out. Minnesota Public Radio's Tim Nelson reports. TIM NELSON, BYLINE: It's a single degree above zero as Rachel Masquat sits at a fire...

If you could change the way a monkey or an ape's brain is wired, that animal would be capable of producing perfectly intelligible speech. That's the conclusion of a study that closely tracked the movements of a monkey's mouth and throat with X-rays, to understand the full potential of its vocal tract . Researchers then used that information to create a computer model of what it would sound like if the monkey were able to say phrases such as "happy holidays." The finding calls into question...

Any pet owner will tell you that their animal companions comfort and sustain them when life gets rough. This may be especially true for people with serious mental illness, a study finds. When people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were asked who or what helped them manage the condition, many said it was pets that helped the most. "When I'm feeling really low they are wonderful because they won't leave my side for two days," one study participant with two dogs and two cats, "They just...

President Obama has ordered the intelligence community to conduct a "full review" of "malicious cyber activity" timed to U.S. elections, the White House said Friday. The review will go all the way back to the 2008 campaign when China was found to have hacked both the Obama and McCain campaigns , White House spokesman Eric Schultz said at a Friday press briefing. In the 2016 election, U.S. intelligence officials charged that Russia had interfered. In early October, they released a strongly...

Scientists in Ireland are using a rather unexpected material to make an extremely sensitive pressure detector: Silly Putty. The Irish researchers combined the kids' plaything with a special form of carbon, and came up with a remarkable new material — one they think could someday be useful in making medical devices. Physicist Jonathan Coleman , at Trinity College, Dublin, says Silly Putty has some extraordinary properties. If you roll the stuff into a tight ball and throw it on the ground, it...

The BOTS Act of 2016 is now on its way to President Obama's desk, after both houses of Congress approved the legislation that seeks to widen access to online ticket sales and foil scalpers who try to corner the market. The ban applies to ticket sales for any public event that can be attended by 200 or more people; it targets software that routinely defeats attempts by venues to try to limit the number of tickets one buyer can purchase. The full name of the legislation is the Better Online...

The surprise find of smallpox DNA in a child mummy from the 17th century could help scientists start to trace the mysterious history of this notorious virus. Smallpox currently only exists in secure freezers, after a global vaccination campaign eradicated the virus in the late 1970s. But much about this killer remains unknown, including its origins. Now scientists have the oldest complete set of smallpox genes, after they went hunting for viral DNA in a sample of skin from a mummified young...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnRxQ3dcaQk In 2015, Lida Xing was visiting a market in northern Myanmar when a salesman brought out a piece of amber about the size of a pink rubber eraser. Inside, he could see a couple of ancient ants and a fuzzy brown tuft that the salesman said was a plant. As soon as Xing saw it, he knew it wasn't a plant. It was the delicate, feathered tail of a tiny dinosaur. "I have studied paleontology for more than 10 years and have been interested in dinosaurs for...

Time travel, microbes, black holes, and polar bears. There’s something for everyone on this year’s list of best science books. Maria Popova, founder of  Brain Pickings , and Scientific American editor Lee Billings have combed the shelves and come up with this list of 18 books you might want to ask Santa to stick under your tree. Maria Popova’s picks: Black Hole Blues, by Janna Levin Cosmologist and novelist Janna Levin tells the story of the century-long vision and half-century experimental...

Giraffes are dying at an alarming rate and could face extinction if the trend doesn't reverse, according to a new conservation report on animal populations worldwide. The report was released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature , which maintains the so-called Red List of species threatened with extinction. For the first time, the group now lists the giraffe as a "vulnerable" species, meaning it is "facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future"...

One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live. So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65. "This is a big deal,"...

Fake news played a bigger role in this past presidential election than ever seen before. And sometimes it has had serious repercussions for real people and businesses. That's what happened to a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., recently, when an armed man claiming to be "self-investigating" a fake news story entered the restaurant and fired off several rounds. But once a fake news story is out there, and the harm has been done, what can a person do about it? Derigan Silver, a professor of media,...

As I write this I have 42 Internet tabs open, across four browsers, and I feel completely at ease. Apparently, I'm not alone. A new Pew Research Center study found that most Americans are not overloaded by information, or at least, they don't feel they are. In April, Pew surveyed 1,520 Americans 18 and older. According to the study, 20 percent of Americans feel overloaded by information — down from 27 percent a decade ago. In fact, three-quarters of Americans like having a lot of information...

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