From BGR: NASA decides to hang out at dwarf planet Ceres just a little while longer

With its hardware already right where it needs to be, NASA has decided it wants to extend its Dawn mission, which will bring its spacecraft extremely close to the surface of one of the most interesting objects in our Solar System that isn’t a planet.

NASA has so many spacecraft making groundbreaking discoveries around the solar system that it can actually be hard to keep track of them all, so you’d be forgiven if the name Dawn sounds new. The space agency’s Dawn mission began in earnest in early 2015 when its observational spacecraft reached Ceres, the large dwarf planet hanging out in the asteroid belt situated between Mars and Jupiter. Now, the spacecraft is going to perform its most daring move.

In its extended mission, the Dawn craft may get the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with Ceres. NASA is considering different flight plans that could bring the machine within 120 miles from the surface of the dwarf planet, which is incredibly close.

During this extra mission time, the Dawn team plans to capture lots of images of the rocky world in the visible light spectrum in order to study its geology. Likewise, the craft’s various instruments will continue to capture and send back valuable data that researchers will no doubt be excited to examine.

“The Dawn team is currently refining its plans for this next and final chapter of the mission,” NASA says. “Because of its commitment to protect Ceres from Earthly contamination, Dawn will not land or crash into Ceres. Instead, it will carry out as much science as it can in its final planned orbit, where it will stay even after it can no longer communicate with Earth. Mission planners estimate the spacecraft can continue operating until the second half of 2018.”

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From Gizmodo: Report: A Chemical Industry Lobbyist Is Writing Toxic Chemical Rules at Scott Pruitt’s EPA

Here’s yet another sign that in the age of President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, the foxes are feasting in the coop. According to a report in the New York Times on Saturday, former George W. Bush administratio…

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From Engadget RSS Feed: Fiber optic lines can double as earthquake detectors

You might not need an extensive sensor network or a host of volunteers to detect earthquakes in the future — in fact, the lines supplying your internet access might do the trick. Researchers have developed technology that detects seismic act…

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From Engadget RSS Feed: Study says body cameras don’t always change police behavior

In theory, body cameras are supposed to not only catch police abuses of power, but deter them: officers will be on their best behavior knowing that they could be hauled in. As Washington, DC researchers have learned, though, that isn’t guaranteed….

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From BGR: Your dog knows exactly what it’s doing when it gives you that look

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably long suspected that your pup has learned exactly how to push your buttons, but new research out of the University of Portsmouth proves that not only do dogs know how to get what they want from you, but from humans in general. The study, which was conducted by the university’s Dog Cognition Centre, provides evidence that canines are masters of facial expression, and they’re not shy about using it on humans.

Animals, and more specifically mammals, use facial expressions for communication just like they do with vocalizations, there’s a difference between a fearful stare or excited eye movement and the kind of emotional manipulation that humans are able to pull off based on knowing who is looking at them. Now, the data shows that dogs have the same skill, and will not just express emotion based on their own feelings, but also take into account who it is that is looking at them.

“We can now be confident that the production of facial expressions made by dogs are dependent on the attention state of their audience and are not just a result of dogs being excited,” Dr. Juliane Kaminski, the led researcher, explains. “In our study they produced far more expressions when someone was watching, but seeing food treats did not have the same effect.”

And it will come as no surprise to dog lovers that the classic “sad puppy dog eyes” ended up being one of the keys to the study. Researchers discovered that dogs use that expression more often than any other, and they use it on humans, rather than simply as an expression of dismay or sadness. The research was conducted using 24 individual dogs of varying breeds and across the entire spectrum of ages, and the results all pointed in the same direction.

“The findings appear to support evidence dogs are sensitive to humans’ attention and that expressions are potentially active attempts to communicate, not simple emotional displays,” Kaminski says.  So, yes, your dog knows exactly what it’s doing when it gives you that look, and there’s very little you can do to fight it.

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From Gizmodo: Georgia Rep. Betty Price Ponders Whether State Could Just ‘Quarantine’ People With HIV

Georgia State Rep. Betty Price—spouse of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who recently left his role in Donald Trump’s administration after taking a few too many taxpayer-funded charter flights—casually asked a state epidemio…

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From GeekWire: Gourmet tech: Nathan Myhrvold’s ‘Modernist Bread’ finds new twists in one of the oldest foods


BELLEVUE, Wash. — Did you ever try inflating bread dough with a bicycle pump? Gourmet technologist Nathan Myhrvold did — and after thumbing through the 2,642 pages of his latest opus, “Modernist Bread,” you just might, too. Like “Modernist Cuisine,” his earlier work, the new five-volume set of books is bigger than a bread box and costs hundreds of dollars. But although “Modernist Bread” offers hundreds of recipes, these are no common cookbooks: Myhrvold and his co-author, head chef Francisco Migoya, delve into the history of one of the world’s oldest foods, the science and technology of breadmaking, and why stunts like pumping… Read More

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