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President Trump tells NASA to aim for Mars

AstronomyOn Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill authorizing US$19.5 billion in funding for the 2018 fiscal year to go to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and specifically naming the exploration of Mars as one of the agency's goals. According to Senator Ted Cruz, NASA has not been the recipient of this kind of authorization bill for seven years.

"NASA's work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth," President Trump said in a statement. "I'm delighted to sign this bill. [...] reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology." The bill was also sponsored by former 2016 presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz who joined astronauts and other notables in the Oval Office for the signing.

Scientists say excess cerebrospinal fluid may serve as early sign of autism

BiologyIn a study that appeared on Monday in Biological Psychiatry, scientists from the Universities of California and North Carolina, with several other universities in the United States and Canada, report a strong correlation between abnormal distribution of cerebrospinal fluid in infants and later development of autistic symptoms.

"The more extra-axial CSF present at six months, the more severe the autism symptoms when the kids were diagnosed at 24 months of age," said first author Dr. Mark Shen, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina.

Google performs first successful collision attack on SHA-1 security algorithm

Engineering and TechnologyThis Thursday, Google announced that it had performed a successful collision attack on the popular SHA-1 cryptographic hash function for the first time — that they know of. The collision attack demonstrated an algorithm for making two distinct inputs map to the same hash output, putting at risk the usage of SHA-1 for verifying data integrity. Google published a blog post and made a website about the collision attack.

Scientists say new medical diagnostic chip can sort cells anywhere with an inkjet

HealthOn Monday, scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine announced the invention of a new diagnostic tool that can sort cells by type: a tiny printable chip that can be manufactured using standard inkjet printers for possibly about one U.S. cent each. Lead researchers say this may bring early detection of cancer, tuberculosis, HIV and malaria to patients in low-income countries, where the survival rates for illnesses such as breast cancer can be half those of richer countries.

Slow-cooking dinosaur eggs may have contributed to extinction, say scientists

BiologyA joint research team from the University of Calgary, American Museum of Natural History, and Florida State University announced on Monday that the eggs of non-avian dinosaurs such as the duck-billed dinosaur took as long as six months to hatch, far longer than had previously been believed.
Bird eggs incubate for 11 to 85 days, about half the time of most other egg-laying vertebrates. Scientists had thought dinosaur eggs were more like those of modern birds than modern reptiles, but this long hatch time is far more reminiscent of monitor lizard than magpie.

The scientists reached this conclusion by comparing CT scans of the teeth of dinosaur embryos of two different species, the Protoceratops andrewsi, which had eggs weighing under 200 grams, and Hypacrosaurus stebingeri, a type of duck-billed dinosaur that had eggs twenty times that size. They observed the von Ebner lines, patterns that form in vertebrate teeth as they grow, to determine how long the overall developmental process was taking. "They're kind of like tree rings, but they're put down daily," said Florida State University co-author Gregory Erickson. "And so we could literally count them to see how long each dinosaur had been developing." They found the Protoceratops embryo was about three months old and the Hypacrosaurus about six months.
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