NASA astronaut describes ‘profound potential’ of breakthrough space experiments

As part of NASA's latest launch to the International Space Station on Dec. 5,  the space agency sent up 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The cargo mission supports the ISS's crewmembers and dozens of experiments on the orbiting space lab. Included in that payload is equipment for … Continue reading “NASA astronaut describes ‘profound potential’ of breakthrough space experiments”

As part of NASA's latest launch to the International Space Station on Dec. 5,  the space agency sent up 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The cargo mission supports the ISS's crewmembers and dozens of experiments on the orbiting space lab.

Included in that payload is equipment for several science experiments and the potential to help with macular degeneration and research that may significantly improve wound healing – especially tissue regeneration.

"There are a lot of different, compelling reasons to leave Earth to conduct these experiments," Dr. Mike Roberts, Deputy Chief Scientist for the ISS National Lab, told Fox News in a recent interview. "We can use the ISS as a remote lab and utilize it as an engineering task platform to test new materials and test them in the harsh environment of space."


Former NASA astronaut Terry Virts, who logged 212 days in space and conducted three spacewalks totaling more than 19 hours, added to that and said the experiments conducted in a zero-gravity environment, especially medical experiments, have a pretty "profound potential" to help humans on Earth.

"One of the benefits in zero-gravity is that you can grow things like tissues or crystals where there's no weight," Virts told Fox News. "When there's something fighting against gravity, it grows differently. We've done protein crystals in space a lot and scientists can understand the structure of the cross-gene that's involved in a lot of cancers, especially pancreatic cancer and how to combat it. That's some of the more interesting and potentially viable applications."

While onboard the ISS, Virts dealt with keeping track of the cargo that was sent up from Earth and worked on experiments that dealt with bone density loss and muscle issues, as well as E. coli and salmonella immunizations. In total, Virts said the astronauts worked on over 250 experiments while he was onboard the space lab.


Restoring vision

The experiment to help restore vision is in part being funded by start-up LambdaVision, a Boston-based startup funded by MassChallenge Startup Accelerator that is working on the "cutting edge of entrepreneurship," Dr. Roberts said. The ultimate goal is to create a new eye prosthetic for those who suffer from numerous retinal and eye diseases.

The company has created a retinal protein based on an eye implant and is looking to find out whether it can help with macular degeneration, which Roberts said would be increasingly important as the population of the country gets older.

"As we have an aging population, these are some of the more severe threats to the health of the nation and any advances they make would be significant," Roberts said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 35 percent of the U.S. population is 50 and older.

Roberts added that LambdaVision could do the experiments on Earth, but they found that the protein layers build imperfections, adding that the absence of gravity could help the company make better decisions. "When they're in a free-fall, they may be able to form better retinal protein layers and help improve the manufacturing process on Earth."


Wound healing

One of the other experiments that will be performed on the ISS is research towards regenerating tissue, similar to what was seen on the hit sci-fi series "Star Trek." The ultimate goal is to find a new way to treat wounds, lower the chances of sepsis and inflammation and potentially even treat wounds on the battlefield.

Tympanogen, which has received a grant from the aforementioned MassChallenge, has a product, including a hydrogel known as Perf-Fix, to deal with wounds healing faster, which is of particular interest to astronauts who may be days, weeks or even months away from the Earth.

"We need medical technology that can be deployed in remote environments," Roberts said, to "effectively repair biomedical damage."

Tympanogen hopes its gel, which Roberts said has "a large moisture content in it and can be used with different drugs," can be combined with antibiotics and different compounds to help accelerate the rate of healing.

"In the absence of gravity, the rate of antibiotics and other drugs that can be released can help translate into clinical trials," Roberts said. "It's certainly of interest to the Dept. of Defense and for space exploration in general."

Benefits of the space lab

The experiments will be conducted over the next 30 to 60 days, Roberts said, with the potential that if more time is needed, it can be accommodated. Although the data may be available as soon as a few months after the samples are returned, the potential benefits of the space experiments could be measured in years.

"There are very few opportunities to have that 'Eureka!' moment to cure cancer," Virts said, noting that much of the science has been done already on Earth.

"Most of the pieces can be done on Earth, but for the few that can't, the ISS allows those pieces to be added," Virts added, likening the experiments to a puzzle. "It's difficult to quantify what the result could be and what can come from it, but if a drug company can learn something new and combine that with the stuff that is learned on Earth to get to an end result, then space will show that it's an important part because it can't physically be done here on Earth."

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

Tiny satellites pose a swarm of opportunities — and threats

Spaceflight favors big rockets and small technology — but when technology gets small enough, it may act very differently from traditional satellites and spacecraft.

And that tipping point may not be all that far away, with engineers having already flown tiny satellites that stretch just 1.3 inches (3.5 centimeters) across. With these tiny satellites come the potential opportunity to produce hordes of them, turning one large device into a host of smaller, cheaper ones.

"Right now these things are toys, but if folks decide to work on it, we can turn them into tools — it just takes effort," Pete Klupar, director of engineering for Breakthrough Starshot, the initiative to send a credit-card-size satellite to a neighboring solar system at incredibly fast speeds, told "We have to do a lot of work to get them to the level of reliability and technology that they're actually valuable." But he said the Breakthrough Institute is excited to be pursuing these tiny satellites, and he expects more and more company in that work. [Explorer 1: America's First Satellite in Pictures]

The key draw is obvious: small price tags, and in turn, large quantities. The cost of fuel needed to get from Earth to space has always been a burden on designers, and these tiny satellites are small enough that — assuming you can shrink your technology enough to fit on board — they don't need as much fuel to reach orbit.

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  • High quantities follow low prices, which means a shift in thinking from individual satellites to constellations of partners with redundancy built in: If a function is performed by a network of many satellites, any one device is no longer crucial. That's a very different way of thinking about space goals from individual spacecraft that are larger, more expensive and less replaceable.

    And although these tiny satellites have so far remained close to Earth, Klupar expects they'll extend their domain. "If you want to go explore say a place like Jupiter or Saturn, having developed and used small, low-mass vehicles, whether they're individuals or in swarms, I think, can really help," Klupar said. "I would really love to be able to send these small tiny vehicles to either the outer planets or Venus, interplanetary space."

    But at least near Earth, these tiny satellites come with plenty of threats as well as opportunities. Klupar said that the line between satellite and space junk is getting blurrier as satellites shrink. Space junk — the remains of former satellites — is already a serious problem, since anything in space does damage if it collides into a working satellite. And as humans have sent more and more satellites into space, junk has become more and more of a problem.

    That's why space junk and satellites alike are tracked by radar in order to alert owners to potential collisions and avert those threats. But right now, those systems can't see objects smaller than about 4 inches (10 centimeters) — and that means tiny satellites could orbit undetected and hit other satellites without warning.

    "If we start to launch things that are smaller than the ability for the radars to pick them up, then we're going to have problems," Klupar said. "These little chips are getting down to that size where they may just barely be visible, and by their very nature since they act in swarms you're going to want to have lots of them up there." That means a lot of potential collisions — and while the tiny satellites would likely be working in swarms that could withstand some losses, the satellites they hit may not be so lucky.

    And the particularly gnarly challenge of space junk is that it multiplies — a collision just splits objects into more smaller but still dangerous objects. If it gets out of hand, it could put entire orbital ranges out of action. To try to mitigate that, there's been talk of limiting tiny satellites to lower reaches of space, which aren't as crowded. That approach would also take advantage of the atmosphere's tendency to pull satellites out of orbit. Another possible mitigation strategy would attach antennae to the satellites to make them more visible.

    Tiny satellites won't just rebalance the opportunities and threats of spaceflight — with their small price tags they will also reshape the players in space. "It wouldn't surprise me that a country like Bhutan or some random country decides, if they get it in their heads they want to do this, it's certainly achievable with very modest budgets." Klupar said. "You can't quite do a bake sale, but it's close."

    And for Klupar, that could be a very promising development. "We need many people to think about the space problems and solve the space problems," Klupar said. "I think this is enabling for that."

    Original article on

    China’s secretive mission to land a probe on the dark side of the Moon

    China is about to be the first nation to land on the dark side of the Moon. But Beijing is being unusually secretive about the event — not even confirming its suspected launch date this weekend.

    China’s National Space Administration is believed to be targeting the robotic lander at the Von Karaman crater, near the Moon’s south pole. It’s judged to be the oldest impact crater in the entire Solar System, making it an ideal collecting ground for water ice and a rare hydrogen isotope carried on the Solar wind.

    Both have the potential to power future interplanetary missions.

    The lander, dubbed Chang’e-4 (Moon Goddess 4), will touch down inside the crater to survey its contents. It will also reportedly experiment on low-gravity plant growth.

    For the mission to be possible, a communications satellite was launched earlier this year — in May — to relay its signals back to Earth. Part of Chang’e-4’s mission is to use the masking effect of the Moon’s bulk to block out radio ‘noise’ and listen for interstellar signals. It will test the clarity of telescope optics when out of the reach of the Earth’s ionosphere.

    If launched this weekend, Chang’e-4 will likely touch down on the Moon’s surface on December 31.

    China has focused its space efforts on the Moon since its space program was initiated in 2004. Two probes have been put in Lunar orbit, Chang’e-1 and 2. The Chang’e-3 lunar lander was the first since 1976.

    Chang’e-4 is a precursor to another mission, Chang’e-5, which is scheduled to launch next year. It is designed to collect a sample of regolith (the Moon’s dusty surface) and return it to the Earth for analysis.

    This story originally appeared in

    Rare rainfall in the Atacama is deadly for its tiniest inhabitants

    In the summer of 2017, after a freak rainfall, unusual lagoons appeared in the oldest and driest desert on Earth — the Atacama. In an area that usually receives less than a half-inch of precipitation annually, the temporary oases should have been a boon to desert life — but, alas, they weren't. Microbial life in the soil, which had adapted to hyperarid conditions over millions of years, quickly perished.

    And they didn't go quietly: Up to 87 percent of the bacteria in the lagoons died after having "burst like balloons" from sponging up too much water in their newly aquatic environment, according to new research published online Nov. 12 in the journal Scientific Reports. Of 16 species identified in arid samples, only two to four survived the deluge to remain in the lagoons. One survivor was a hardy, newly discovered species of bacteria in the salt-loving genus Halomonas.

    "Halomonas lives virtually everywhere on Earth — you go to your backyard and analyze the soil, and you'll find them there," said study co-author Alberto Fairén, an astrobiologist at the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid and Cornell University in New York. "They are a microbe highly adapted to salinity, which explains their rapid recuperation and adaptation after the rains to the new saline lagoons." [Extreme Life on Earth: 8 Bizarre Creatures]

    The Atacama, sandwiched between the Andes and a coastal mountain range in Chile, has been arid for an astounding 150 million years. In that time, several species of bacteria have become exquisitely adapted to the salty, nitrogen-rich environment, able to rapidly soak up the tiniest bit of moisture. When the heavy rains created flooded lagoons, the bacteria inadvertently sucked water through their membranes faster than their bodies could deal with it. The result: They burst open in what is known as osmotic shock.

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  • The results have implications in the search for alien life. Long ago, the Atacama had more or less uniform deposits of nitrates (an oxygenated form of nitrogen that plants need for growth). Then, 13 million years ago, sporadic rains concentrated the nitrates in valleys and lake bottoms. Mars has similar deposits, and scientists believe they were formed in similar patterns of long, dry stints interspersed with short-term rains.

    Given the geologic similarities between the Atacama and Mars, the Atacama has become a common stand-in for the Red Planet; in the past 15 years, over 300 studies have used it as a Martian analogue. Back in 1976, NASA's Viking landers searched for microbes on the Red Planet by incubating Martian soil with water. [Mars-like Places on Earth]

    "Judging from how thirsty the microbes in the Atacama were … maybe adding water to samples of Mars' soil was not the best idea," Fairén told Live Science. "If something was alive there, we probably just drowned them."

    Since the time of the Viking landers, other robotic visitors to Mars have looked at soil samples. Earlier this year, NASA's Mars Curiosity rover found organic molecules, which, while not providing evidence of life itself on the Red Planet, did point to the possibility of an ancient life form.

    "Irrespective of the results of this paper, it is essential for us to sample and return to Earth soil samples from Mars. There are a lot of reactive components that make studying the soil very complicated with remote instruments," said Dawn Sumner, a planetary geologist and astrobiologist at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved with the study.

    The Atacama incident in 2017 wasn't the first — abnormal rains were also recorded in 2015, which raised the annual precipitation 10-fold. This trend has been attributed to climate change, which is altering weather patterns. If it continues, Fairén expects that the Atacama micro ecosystems may be utterly changed.

    "We'd see a total replacement of the current ecosystems, as the microbes living now in the Atacama won't be able to keep living in a place with large rainfalls," Fairén told Live Science. "They are not made for that."

    Atacama Desert Blooms Pink After Historic Rainfall (Photos)9 Strange, Scientific Excuses for Why Humans Haven’t Found Aliens …Mars InSight Photos: A Timeline to Landing on the Red Planet

    Originally published on Live Science.

    Tehran is sinking dramatically, and it may be too late to recover

    The ground is shifting under Iran's capital, Tehran, home to approximately 15 million people and the biggest city by population in western Asia. High-resolution satellite images recently revealed that in some places, the metropolis of the Middle East is sinking about 10 inches (25 centimeters) per year.

    Scientists investigated satellite data of the capital city gathered from 2003 to 2017 and found significant sinking — also known as subsidence — in about 10 percent of the city center and in many villages in Tehran's northwestern region, according to an article published Nov. 30 in the journal Nature.

    A side effect of the subsidence is the sudden appearance of giant cracks and sinkholes in some areas. In one case, a farmer was trapped for hours in a 20-foot-deep (6 meters) sinkhole after a crack opened where he was standing, Ali Beitollahi, head of engineering seismology at the Building and Housing Research Center in Tehran, told Nature. [Insane Photos of Sinkholes]

    Fissures that formed near fields are also affecting crops, as they drain water meant to irrigate the thirsty land.

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  • In this new study of satellite data, researchers found Tehran's current subsidence rate to be among the highest in the world, with groundwater loss driven by drought, dam construction and a booming population. Another troubling discovery was that rainfall wasn't replenishing depleted groundwater reserves, suggesting it may already be too late for the land to recover. The scientists' findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment, Nature reported.

    Tehran isn't the only sinking city. Satellite observations have also shown that Venice, Italy; parts of western Texas and coastal Louisiana; California's San Joaquin Valley and San Francisco International Airport are victims of subsidence.

    Prior research pointed to groundwater drainage as the cause of Tehran's sinking, which was already underway by the early 2000s. The first signs of sinking emerged under agricultural areas; since 2003 the problem has expanded to urban zones in the east, where the effects of Tehran's sinking ground is visible in skewed buildings and roads, according to Nature.

    Illegal well drilling is placing even more of a strain on dwindling groundwater, raising the risk of accelerating the sinking, the scientists found. Government officials are trying to crack down on illegal wells, but while 100,000 have been shut down, an estimated 30,000 remain.

    Should the sinking continue, Tehran's railways, bridges, gas and oil pipelines, and electrical infrastructure could be at risk, the journal Nature reported.

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    Original article on Live Science.

    Hawaiian monk seal with eel stuck in nose caught on camera in ‘rare’ sighting

    Talk about a nosey nuisance.

    A Hawaiian monk seal was spotted over the summer with an eel hanging out of its nose, according to a photo shared by the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program on Monday.

    “Mondays…it might not have been a good one for you but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose,” the group, which is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), wrote.


    Experts with the organization told Hawaii News Now the eel was seen dangling from the seal’s nose near the French Frigate Shoals over the summer. Field researchers — who were in the area at the time to study the seal population there — noted the “rare” sighting and were quick to restrain the animal before removing the lengthy creature from its snout.

    The removal process reportedly took less than a minute, according to the publication.

    The eel likely entered the monk seal’s nose when it was feeding in coral reefs, as these sea creatures “feed by sticking their noses in coral reefs and digging in sand,” the group told Hawaii News Now, noting "it is possible the eel was defending itself or trying to escape and forced itself into the nose.”

    There's also a possibility “the seal regurgitated it and it went out the wrong place. More likely the first…,” the group told the publication.

    Officials with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program said they have reported on the odd phenomenon in the past, explaining it was "first noted a few years back," the group added.

    "We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions. In all cases, the eel was successfully removed and the seals were fine. The eels, however, did not make it,” the organization wrote.

    The picture elicited a variety of jokes and comments on social media, many users comparing the sighting to other unusual — and dangerous — trends among today’s youth, such as eating Tide Pods and snorting condoms.

    “Where are these young seals learning this eel sniffing stuff from? Video games?” one person joked.

    “First it was the cinnamon challenge, then tide pods, then the ice challenge, then snorting condoms, now snorting eels?” a second wrote.

    “It starts with Tide Pods….” another said.

    Hawaiian monk seals are “one of the most endangered seal species in the world,” according to the NOAA. While recovery efforts have slowed the declining population, the “current numbers are only about one-third of historic population levels."


    These seals, which are capable of holding their breath for 20 minutes and can dive nearly 2,000 feet, are endemic to the Hawaiian archipelago and are not found anywhere else in the world.

    Habitat loss, disease and intentional killing, among other reasons, are all factors which threaten the Hawaiian monk seal species.

    Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

    Man who exposed ‘Area 51 UFO tests’ claims US government still monitors him 30 years later

    The man who exposed Area 51 to the world is still being tracked by the U.S. Government, he claims.

    Bob Lazar claims to have seen test flights of nine captured UFOs, and says he even worked as an engineer on the alien spacecrafts, in a TV interview in 1989.

    Now a new documentary, Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers, takes a deep dive into his theories and where is now.


    Thirty years ago he claimed to have worked near Area 51 at hangar  S-4 where he claims UFOs with tiny alien seats were made out of a material called Element 115.

    Going by the fake name Dennis, he told reporters: "The propulsion system is a gravity propulsion system. The power source is an antimatter reactor. This technology does not exist at all."

    The U.S. Government always denied the existence of Area 51 until five years ago when CIA documents listed it as an aviation test site.

    Lazar described the cover up as "a crime against the scientific community".

    He later claimed the Government had threatened his life, his wife and family in an effort to silence him.

    (Credit: YouTube)

    In the documentary he says he regrets blowing the whistle on the alien test site, adding: "At this point in my life, I’d probably lean towards not saying anything."

    These days he lives in  Michigan with wife Joy and and runs United Nuclear, selling lasers, chemicals and science products.

    Lazar claims the FBI once raided his lab, saying: "At the risk of sounding paranoid, I do always have a suspicion that someone is monitoring me – it’s something that is difficult to get out of my mind."

    Nowadays he actively ignores tales of aliens and space craft.

    He added: "I do not follow UFO stories or reports and am not interested in researching life outside of Earth.

    "My primary interest was, and still is, the incredibly advanced technology. I know if we can control and develop it, it can change the world."

    The journalist who introduced Lazar to the public, George Knapp backs-up his story adding: "His vehicle also had break-ins. Mind games being played. Threats were issued

    "Lazar and others were bugged and followed, and it certainly seemed like someone wanted to frighten him into remaining silent, or maybe they wanted to drive him a little crazy.

    "I was present for many of these events. I saw them with my own eyes, and I witnessed the aftermath as well."

    But Lazar's reputation has taken a kicking throughout the years – like when researchers failed to find a record of him attending his alleged schools, MIT and the California Institute of Technology.

    He tells the documentary: "How can I prove anything else? Do you think Los Alamos just hired me out of high school?"

    Documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell told Mail Online:  "If this story’s true, it is probably the most important UFO story in human history, because it reveals the truth."

    This story originally appeared in The Sun.

    The Sun’s turbulent north pole looks like a spooky vortex in this composite image

    As winter descends on the Northern Hemisphere like so many dinner guests upon a plate of latkes, it's a fine time to start dreaming of warmer climes. Today, may we recommend a visit to the north pole of the sun? (Today's forecast calls for a low of about 7,300 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4,000 degrees Celsius.)

    Even with satellite footage, our view of the sun is pretty much limited to the solar disc — the circular profile of the sun that we can see plainly from Earth. The northern and southern poles of our closest star have never been directly observed, but scientists at the European Space Agency have made a habit of creating daily composite images of the sun's north pole using some clever time-lapse photography. Yesterday's image (Dec. 3), highlighted in a blog post on the ESA's website, gives you a taste of the swirling, turbulent sea of plasma hidden atop the sun's head. [Fiery Folklore: 5 Dazzling Sun Myths | May 20 Solar Eclipse]

    Using data from the ESA's Proba-2 satellite, which launched in 2009 to observe the sun and the plasma weather it flings our way, scientists can observe the sun's atmosphere as it arcs around the edges of the solar disc and over the top of the sun's northern pole. As the sun's surface swirls and rotates throughout the day, altering the atmosphere above it, the satellite takes additional images that can be combined with one another to create a time-lapse picture of the changing atmosphere over the sun's north pole. (You can see a cartoon depicting the ESA's entire composite image process here.)

    It's not a complete picture — the ESA says we won't have one of those until the launch of the agency's Solar Orbiter mission in 2020 — but it does provide a good sense of what's happening just out of sight on the cap of our closest star. If you look at yesterday's image, for example, you can see a dark vortex bubbling around the pole's center. According to the ESA, that's a coronal hole — a thin region on the sun's surface where plasma is colder and less dense than usual, and more likely to eject blistering solar winds into space.

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  • Observing the poles directly will give scientists a clearer understanding of how the particles spewed forth from these coronal holes impact the rest of our solar system, including EarthAlas, those charged particles of solar energy probably won't make winter on Earth any warmer — but they might make it a little more colorful.

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    Originally published on Live Science.

    Carbon dioxide emissions rise in 2018, scientists say

    Carbon dioxide emissions across the world made their largest jump in the past year, rising an estimated 2.7 percent, according to three studies released Wednesday.

    The studies, released by the Global Carbon Project, found that this year the world would spew 40.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide, up from 39.8 billion last year — with the margin of error at about one percentage point on either side.


    The research conducted by the project, which is an international scientific collaboration of academics, governments and industry that tracks greenhouse gas emissions, puts some of the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change almost out of reach, according to scientists.

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    "This is terrible news," Andrew Jones, co-director of Climate Interactive, which models greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures, told The Associated Press. "Every year that we delay serious climate action, the Paris goals become more difficult to meet."

    The Paris accord set two goals. The long-held goal would limit global warming to no more than 1.8 degrees from existing levels, with a more ambitious goal of limiting warming to 0.9 degrees from now.

    The Global Carbon Project uses government and industry reports to come up with final emission figures for 2017 and projections for 2018 based on the four biggest polluters: China, the United States, India and the European Union.

    The U.S., which had been steadily decreasing its carbon pollution, showed a significant rise in emissions — up 2.5 percent — for the first time since 2013. China, the globe's biggest carbon emitter, saw its largest increase since 2011: 4.6 percent.


    The increase is a "reality check," according to the lead author on the study, Corinne Le Quere. She said she doesn't think the world will return to the even larger increases seen from 2003 to 2008, and noted she thinks unusual factors are at play this year.

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    For the U.S., it was a combination of a hot summer and cold winter that required more electricity use for heating and cooling. For China, it was an economic stimulus that pushed coal-powered manufacturing, Le Quere said.

    John Reilly, co-director of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, said the results aren't too surprising because fossil fuels still account for 81 percent of the world's energy use. The burning of coal, oil and gas release carbon dioxide, which warms the Earth. Reilly, who wasn't part of the study, praised it as impressive.

    Global carbon dioxide emissions have increased 55 percent in the last 20 years, the calculations show. At the same time, Earth has warmed on average about two-thirds of a degree, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

    Medieval skeleton unearthed in London wearing ‘expensive’ leather boots

    An estimated 500-year-old skeleton still wearing the boots he died in was recently unearthed by archaeologists excavating a site in London.

    The skeleton, believed to be that of a medieval man, was found near part of the Thames Tideway Tunnel construction site, which is being built to help stop sewage from flowing into the Thames River, the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) said in a statement.

    Researchers aren’t sure how the man died, though some speculate he may have been a fisherman, sailor or "mudlark” who could have drowned. The position in which the skeleton was found — face-down, one arm above his head and another bent to the side — are also key indicators of how the man possibly died.

    The position in which the skeleton was found — face-down, one arm above his head, another bent to the side — are also key indicators of how the man possibly died, researchers said. (MOLA Headland)


    There is also a possibility he died while climbing the Bermondsey Wall, which once stood near where his remains were found. The wall was a “huge mud bank beside the river supported by wooden structures,” a statement on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project's official site reads.

    The skeleton was that of a young male who was likely 35 years of age or younger. His “active life” would not have been comfortable, according to MOLA, noting “he would have felt pain and discomfort from osteoarthritis.”

    “Possibly the biggest clues about his life, are deep grooves found on his teeth. They were caused by a repetitive action like passing rope between his teeth as a fisherman might — which may also suggest that he made his living from the river,” the statement continued.

    The boots — which specialists have dated to the late 15th or early 16th century — were pricey items, as “leather was expensive and often re-used at this time.” (MOLA Headland)

    The boots — which specialists have dated to the late 15th or early 16th century — were pricey items, as “leather was expensive and often re-used at this time.”


    “It is unlikely that someone would have been buried wearing such a highly-prized item. The boots would have reached thigh height when fully extended therefore would have been ideal for walking out into the river and through the sticky Thames mud, so were perhaps waders,” according to MOLA, noting the “research suggests the person wasn’t buried deliberately and the clues also indicate the owner may have made his living from the river, which could well have led to his untimely demise.”

    The construction site where the man’s remains were found. (MOLA Headland)

    Bethany Richardson, with the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), said in a statement that the discovery will afford scientists the opportunity to learn more about the daily life of a man living at that time.

    “By studying the boots we’ve been able to gain a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of a man who lived as many as 500 years ago,” she said. “They have helped us to better understand how he may have made his living in hazardous and difficult conditions, but also how he may have died. It has been a privilege to be able to study something so rare and so personal.”

    Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.