Warning issued about fake eclipse glasses

Eclipse glasses

Eclipse glasses let you see a partial solar eclipse safely, but they have to come from a reputable dealer. (AAS / Evan Zucker Photo)

The country’s top astronomical organization says it’s alarmed by reports that potentially unsafe eclipse glasses are flooding the market in advance of the all-American solar eclipse on Aug. 21 – and in response, it has issued a list of approved manufacturers and vendors.

The flap already has sparked online battles between reviewers on Amazon’s website.

One dissatisfied “Verified Purchase” customer went so far as to post a picture that purportedly shows the glow of a 60-watt light bulb as seen through solar filters that were made in China.

“This would not be sufficient to protect your eyes from the sun,” the reviewer wrote in his one-star assessment. “I would never trust my eyesight to a pair of glasses from China.”

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Tesla looks back and looks ahead at Model 3

Tesla’s Model 3 electric car was the focus of today’s chatter in the wake of the company’s quarterly earnings report, which posted revenue that was stronger than expected ($2.79 billion vs. $2.51 billion, pre-estimated by Thomson Reuters) and a loss per share that was lower than expected ($1.33 vs. $1.82 pre-estimated). In the wake of last week’s first 30 Model 3 deliveries, Tesla said 1,800 net reservations are coming in daily. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the net backlog stands at 455,000 reservations, with 63,000 would-be buyers canceling their reservations (and getting their deposit back).

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Gene editing fixes flaw linked to bad hearts

Embryo editing

This sequence of images shows the development of embryos after co-injection of a gene-correcting enzyme and sperm from a donor with a genetic mutation known to cause a type of heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. (OHSU Photo)

Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University provided the details today on an experiment with human embryos that demonstrated how gene editing can repair a genetic flaw linked to heart disease.

The outlines of the experiment were reported last week, but the OHSU team held off on providing the details until today’s publication of the study in the journal Nature.

The team, led by OHSU senior researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov, took advantage of a technique known as CRISPR-Cas9, which uses RNA guide molecules and enzymes to make targeted cuts in the DNA molecules that contain the human genetic code. Revised code can then be inserted into the snipped DNA.

The Nature study revealed that the team was able to fix a genetic mutation that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common disease that can cause sudden heart failure and death.

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Oshkosh crowds mob Blue Origin spaceship

Even Jeff Bezos was impressed when Blue Origin’s suborbital space booster and capsule mockup went on display at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis.

The line to get a look inside the New Shepard capsule snaked around the equivalent of city blocks, as shown in an aerial view that the billionaire founder of Blue Origin (and a little side venture called Amazon) tweeted today:

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Khosla powers Viome into wellness market

Vinod Khosla

Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, discusses successes and failures during a Stanford University business forum in 2015. (Stanford Business Photo / Stacy H. Geiken)

Khosla Ventures, the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm whose interests range from biofuels to spaceflight, was revealed today as the lead investor in Viome, the wellness monitoring startup co-founded by Seattle-area entrepreneur Naveen Jain.

Khosla’s role was among the additional details that Viome provided today as it formally announced its $15 million Series A funding round. The investment first came to light last week in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but Khosla’s role wasn’t previously disclosed.

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Virgin Orbit’s jet gets set to launch rockets

Cosmic Girl

Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 jet, known as Cosmic Girl, comes home to Long Beach, Calif., after going through a series of upgrades and tests. (Virgin Orbit Photo)

Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet, christened “Cosmic Girl,” is back at its home base in Long Beach, Calif., for preparations that will lead to its use as a launch platform for small satellites.

The jet returned to Long Beach on July 31 after going through a series of inspections and modifications conducted in collaboration with L3 Platform Integration and VT Aerospace, two of Virgin Orbit’s partners.

In a news release, Virgin Orbit said the Federal Aviation Administration has issued Cosmic Girl an experimental airworthiness certificate, opening the way for flight tests to begin at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port.

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Science educator celebrates his asteroid

Dennis Schatz

Dennis Schatz is senior adviser at the Pacific Science Center. (Dennis Schatz via Amazon.com)

The Pacific Science Center’s senior adviser, Dennis Schatz, has achieved a kind of fame that so far has eluded the likes of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates: getting his name on an asteroid.

Asteroid Schatz joins more than 20,000 other “minor planets” that have been named after people, places and things. That represents only a small percentage of the more than 734,000 such objects that have been cataloged by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

It’s generally up to an asteroid’s discoverer to propose a name for approval by the IAU, in accordance with a set of naming rules. (For example, no dictators need apply.) On occasion, the Minor Planet Center takes requests.

In Schatz’s case, it was Larry Wasserman, a planetary scientist at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, who suggested the name. Asteroid 25232, previously known as 1998 TN33, was discovered in 1998 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search, or LONEOS.

Wasserman cited Schatz’s status as an astronomer and educator who was vice president of the Pacific Science Center, president and workshop leader for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the author of 23 children’s books on science, and co-developer of educational programs such as Project ASTRO and Portal to the Public.

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