Gates Foundation backs malaria-blocking mosquito

Mosquito

Anopheles mosquitoes are carriers for the malaria parasite. (CDC Photo / James Gathany)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is extending its partnership with Oxitec, a British mosquito control company, to develop mosquitoes that are genetically engineered to suppress malaria.

Oxitec’s latest project follows up on its work with Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species that can spread a range of diseases including yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika fever — but not malaria. A different type of mosquito, Anopheles, is the carrier for malaria parasites.

Previously, the Gates Foundation supported Oxitec’s development of male Aedes mosquitoes that have been genetically engineered so that their female offspring don’t survive to adulthood.

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AI experts turn soccer videos into ‘holograms’

Computer scientists have trained a neural network to transform the action from pre-recorded videos of soccer games into immersive augmented-reality “holograms” you can shrink down onto a tabletop.

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Sally Ride honored 35 years after space milestone

Lego minifigs at Blue Origin

“Women of NASA” Lego toys are arrayed in front of Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule. (Blue Origin)

The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, is the subject of serious and playful memorials today, 35 years after her historic flight and nearly six years after her death.

U.S. postage stamp bearing Ride’s visage went on sale last month, and last year, a Sally Ride minifigure was released as part of a “Women of NASA” set of Lego toys.

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon millionaire Jeff Bezos, marked today’s anniversary by showing off a Lego set that flew to space and back on the company’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship.

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Trump directs Pentagon to create Space Force

Trump and Pence

President Donald Trump speaks at a White House meeting of the National Space Council, with Vice President Mike Pence standing beside him and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sitting in the background. (White House / NASA via YouTube)

President Donald Trump today directed the Department of Defense to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military, alongside the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal,” Trump said at a White House meeting of the National Space Council. “It is going to be something so important.”

He called on Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to carry out the assignment — and Dunford, a member of the council, accepted the job on the spot.

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Hey, kids: Put a rocket in space for a million dollars

Students from colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada are being recruited for the Base 11 Space Challenge, a $1 million competition to encourage the development of a liquid-fueled, single-stage rocket powerful enough to reach 100 kilometers (62 miles) in altitude. That height marks the internationally accepted boundary of space. Deadline for winning the $1 million grand prize is Dec. 30, 2021, and there’ll be smaller incentive prizes awarded along the way.

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NASA’s Peggy Whitson hangs up her space helmet

Peggy Whitson

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is framed by one of the windows in the International Space Station’s Cupola during her 2016-2017 tour of duty. (NASA Photo)

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the U.S. record for most cumulative time in space, is retiring after 22 years in the astronaut corps and three tours of duty on the International Space Station.

Whitson, 58, became the station’s first female commander in 2007, the first woman to head the Astronaut Office in 2009, and the oldest woman to fly in space in 2016. She also holds the record for most spacewalks by a woman (10).

Her total in-space time of 665 days —  gained during space station stays in 2002, 2008 and 2016-2017 — puts her on top of the list for NASA astronauts. Only six spacefliers, all Russians, rank higher.

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Stephen Hawking gets a cosmic sendoff

Stephen Hawking memorial stone

Stephen Hawking’s memorial stone depicts a black hole as well as an equation that describes the temperature of a black hole’s Hawking radiation. (Westminster Abbey via Twitter)

Famed physicist Stephen Hawking’s ashes were interred among the greats of British science at Westminster Abbey today — and to mark his passing, his message of peace and hope was beamed to the nearest known black hole.

Black holes were a favorite subject for the theorist, who died in March at the age of 76 after dealing with progressive disability for decades. His memorial stone on the abbey’s floor, which is sure to become the site of scientific pilgrimages for decades to come, is engraved with the outlines of a black hole as well as an equation that describes a black hole’s Hawking radiation.

Today’s memorial ceremony was anything but dark. Nobel-winning scientists and Oscar-winning celebrities joined Hawking’s family and more than 1,000 others to pay tribute to the physicist.

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