Here’s today’s roundup of science, nature and environment news from the Bay Area and beyond.

Soyuz rocket launches on mission to space stationNASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and Japan’s Akihito Hoshide are set to travel two days before reaching their three colleagues already at the permanent space outpost. At that stage, a doll given to Malenchenko as a mascot by his daughter and suspended over the three astronauts floated out of view on television footage, indicating the craft had escaped the earth’s gravitational pull.

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Remains of 15 found in ancient Mexican settlementMEXICO CITY (AP) â Archaeologists in Mexico City have unearthed the skulls and other bones of 15 people, most of them the children of traveling merchants during Aztec times. Researcher Alejandra Jasso Pena says they also found ceramic flutes, bowls, incense burners, the remains of a dog that was sacrificed to accompany a child in the afterlife and other artifacts of a pre-Columbian civilization.

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Dark-matter detector has new home in South Dakota”Dark matter presents a much bigger problem to detect and is more speculative than the Higgs,” said Tom Shutt, a physics professor with Case Western Reserve University who’s working on the Large Underground Xenon detector, known as LUX. The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle that scientists believe gives other particles mass.

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Asteroid hunters need a telescope to save EarthWho will protect us from a killer asteroid? A team of ex-NASA astronauts and scientists thinks it’s up to them. In a bold plan unveiled recently, the group wants to launch its own space telescope to spot and track small and midsize space rocks capable of wiping out a city or continent.

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Feds to reroute SF Bay ships to protect whalesSAN FRANCISCO (AP) â Scientists studying the carcass of a 47-foot fin whale that washed up on a beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore last month found the creature’s spine and ribs severed, likely from the propeller of one of the huge cargo ships that sail those waters.

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Tooth fillings made with BPA tied to behavior issuesNEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Kids who get dental fillings made using BPA are more likely to have behavior and emotional problems a few years later, according to a new study.

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Scientists see AIDS vaccine within reach after decadesCHICAGO (Reuters) – At an ill-fated press conference in 1984, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler boldly predicted an effective AIDS vaccine would be available within just two years.

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Illegal Marijuana Farms Putting California Wildlife at Risk | KQEDScientists at UC Davis say illegal marijuana farms could be harming a rare California mammal. High doses of rat poison, commonly used by pot farmers, are showing up in Pacific fishers. Fishers are a weasel-like animal found in California’s secluded forests. The species is currently being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

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Author

Jenny Oh

Jenny is a long-time contributor to Bay Area Bites, KQED's popular food blog. She formerly worked as an Interactive Producer for the Science & Environment unit. Jenny graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television program and has worked for WNET/PBS, The Learning Channel, Sundance Channel, HBO and the University of California.

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