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Science Saturday
Author: Will in Chicago    Date: 04/29/2017 15:44:07

As it seems to be a very quiet morning here, I thought that I would share a few science related stories. Some do intersect with politics, as science has become very political with the Republican party.

Reuters reports that climate protests are marking the 100th day of the Trump administration.

For the second time in a month, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to turn out in Washington on Saturday to voice concern over climate change in a mass demonstration marking the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency.

The Peoples Climate Marches in dozens of cities, including the U.S. capital, are part of a broader effort to build momentum behind candidates with strong environmental records for next year's midterm elections and the 2020 presidential race, organizers said.

"We're using this as a tactic to advance the strategy of building enough power to win on climate over the course of the long haul," said Paul Getsos, national coordinator for the Peoples Climate Movement. Sponsors of Saturday's events include labor unions, the Sierra Club and civil rights groups.

As a side theme, marchers will protest Trump's crackdown on illegal immigrants and other issues championed by the maverick Republican billionaire.

Since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, there have been national protests focused on issues ranging from abortion rights to immigration and science policy.

Meanwhile, farther from. home, the Cassini spacecraft is giving us a very close look at the rings of Saturn before it plunges into the icy gas giant (no not Donald Trump) to finish its mission.

The Cassini spacecraft spotted strange atmospheric structures during the first of its 22 dives between the rings and the gas body of Saturn — the planet it has studied up close since 2004.

Cassini is in the last few months of its extended mission at the gas giant before making a suicidal plunge into Saturn's atmosphere in September. Until then, Cassini's dives into the uncharted region of Saturn will show scientists more about the structure of its rings and its atmosphere.

"These images are shocking," Kevin Baines, a science team member for Cassini's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, said in a Facebook Live event Thursday (April 27). The event was held at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's mission control room in California, which is called the Space Flight Operations Facility.

Back on terra firma, scientists have found a new way of extracting the DNA of extinct humans from caves.

The DNA of extinct humans can be retrieved from sediments in caves - even in the absence of skeletal remains.

Researchers found the genetic material in sediment samples collected from seven archaeological sites.

The remains of ancient humans are often scarce, so the new findings could help scientists learn the identity of inhabitants at sites where only artefacts have been found.

The results are described in Science.

Antonio Rosas, a scientist at Spain's Natural Science Museum in Madrid, said: "This work represents an enormous scientific breakthrough.

"We can now tell which species of hominid occupied a cave and on which particular stratigraphic level, even when no bone or skeletal remains are present."

It is my hope that humanity will become more knowledgeable about our cosmos and act with more wisdom and compassion. We are on the verge of many major discoveries and I pray that we will always - no matter how much we learn -- have a sense of wonder about our universe.


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