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November 20 2014

Dark Matter Murder Mystery: Is Weird Substance Destroying Neutron Stars?


The mysterious substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe may be destroying neutron stars by turning them into black holes in the center of the Milky Way, new research suggests.

If astronomers successfully detect a neutron star dying at the metaphorical hands of dark matter, such a finding could yield critical insights on the elusive properties of material, scientists added.

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November 20 2014

Electrochemical cell converts waste heat into electricity


Picture a device that can produce electricity using nothing but the ambient heat around it. Thanks to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science today, this scenario is a step closer – a team from MIT has created an electrochemical cell which uses different temperatures to convert heat to electricity.


Related: Water bottle for bike collects moisture from the air

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November 20 2014

Britain's first poo-powered bus takes to the road


Britain's first bus powered entirely by human and food waste took to the road in Bristol on Thursday.

The 40-seater Bio-Bus, running on gas generated by waste treatment, can travel up to 300 kilometres (180 miles) on a full tank—equivalent to the annual output of five people.

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November 20 2014

Once Thought Extinct, North America's Rarest Mammal May Bounce Back


The black-footed ferret, North America's rarest mammal, is returning to the western prairie 35 years after being declared extinct.

The comeback trail for Mustela nigripes began in 1981, when a ranch dog with a dead ferret in its mouth led to the rediscovery of a remnant population near Meeteetse in northwestern Wyoming.


Related: Europe has 421 million fewer birds than it did 30 years ago

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November 20 2014

Scientists Say They've Figured Out Why Starfish Are Melting


From Mexico to Alaska, starfish have been mysteriously melting for more than a year. When a starfish first gets sick, its arms pretzel up and white lesions form on its skin. Next, the starfish, normally plush with water absorbed to keep its shape, starts to deflate. Then suddenly, its limbs begin falling off. Once symptoms start, it can take only a few days for the starfish to disintegrate and die.

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November 20 2014

How DNA Is Reshaping How We See Ourselves—and Our History


In her early 20s, Christine Kenneally discovered something about her Australian forebears that upended her sense of identity and family history. In her new book, The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures, she explores the power of DNA to reveal secrets in our past and predict our future.

Talking from her home in New York, she explains how even the moistness of our earwax is encoded in our genes, why our decisions are not entirely our own, and how the genetic imprint of distant historical events like slavery can shape attitudes today.

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November 20 2014

Aboriginal rock art discovered on Sydney’s northern beaches a major ancient archaeological find


BEAUTIFUL Aboriginal rock art that may have been created up 20,000 years ago has been discovered in a secret place deep within Sydney suburbia.

The Daily Telegraph was given special access to the site on the banks of a creek flowing just metres from the back of houses on the city’s northern beaches.

A series of ancient hand stencils, either white or red in colour, and motifs representing eels and a crescent moon, we’re found on rock faces and overhangs on land owned by Sydney Water.

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November 20 2014

Were Neanderthals a sub-species of modern humans? New research says no


In an extensive, multi-institution study led by SUNY Downstate Medical Center, researchers have identified new evidence supporting the growing belief that Neanderthals were a distinct species separate from modern humans (Homo sapiens), and not a subspecies of modern humans.

The study looked at the entire nasal complex of Neanderthals and involved researchers with diverse academic backgrounds.

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November 20 2014

How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization


Roughly 9,000 years ago, humans had mastered farming to the point where food was plentiful. Populations boomed, and people began moving into large settlements full of thousands of people. And then, abruptly, these proto-cities were abandoned for millennia. It's one of the greatest mysteries of early human civilization.

The dawn of the age of agriculture falls during the "Neolithic," also known as the late stone age. At that time, about 12,000 years ago, people had already developed incredibly sophisticated stone tools, weapons, and clay vessels for cooking and storage.

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November 20 2014

One tiger economy helps understand collapse of another


The European economy started to collapse 2,900 years ago, not because of dodgy banking practices but following the break-up of trade. Bronze went out of fashion in favour of iron and the business activity that had built up around the metal quickly fell apart, research from Irish archaeological sites has shown.

Researchers have long pinned the blame for a huge pan-European population collapse after 900BC on climate change. Irish site and climate records from peat bogs show, however, the colder, wetter weather didn’t arrive until at least two generations after the collapse had started.

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November 20 2014

Stanford archaeologist leads the first detailed study of human remains at ancient Egyptian site


Ancient Egyptian workers in a village that's now called Deir el-Medina were beneficiaries of what Stanford Egyptologist Anne Austin calls "the earliest documented governmental health care plan."

The craftsmen who built Egyptian pharaohs' royal tombs across the Nile from the modern city of Luxor worked under grueling conditions, but they could also take a paid sick day or visit a "clinic" for a free checkup.

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November 20 2014

Vases in Pompeii Reveal Panic Before Eruption


French and Italian archaeologists digging out a pottery workshop in Pompeii have brought to light 10 raw clay vases, revealing a frozen-in-time picture of the exact moment panicked potters realized they were facing an impending catastrophe.

The vases were found sealed under a layer of ash and pumice from Mount Vesuvius' devastating eruption of 79 A.D. and it appears they were just ready to be fired.

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November 20 2014

British Museum director rejects Greek efforts to claim Elgin Marbles


British Museum director Neil MacGregor has issued a firm rebuff to renewed efforts by the Greeks to claim the Elgin Marbles.

Speaking today, he repeated the museum's long-held position that the acquisition of the famous sculptures by Lord Elgin at the start of the 19th century was legal and that there was "maximum public benefit" in them remaining in London where they were seen in the context of world culture.

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November 20 2014

Archaeologists Excavate Ancient Bronze Age Remains in Oman


Much is still unknown about these people who once occupied present-day northeastern Oman about 5,000 years ago. They left no written records, at least none that have been found to date. They made up what scholars and historians have referred to as the ancient Magan civilization.

“The people of Magan did not use writing or glyptic arts to record their history or organize their societies, so we know very little about their way of life,” write Christopher Thornton, Charlotte Cable and colleagues about the ancient society.

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November 20 2014

4,000-year-old razor used to keep facial hair tidy unearthed in Siberia


Beards may have seen a resurgence over recent years, but they have been used as status symbols for millenia.

The discovery of a 4,000-year-old blade in Russia, said to have been used for shaving and trimming, reveals the importance of looking well-presented during the Bronze Age.

Archaeologists explained that the thin bronze plate had been sharpened on both sides and added that it may have even doubled up as a knife.

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November 20 2014

Utah Cave Full of Children’s Moccasins Sheds Light on Little-Known Ancient Culture


Archaeologists on the trail of a little-known ancient culture have found a cache of clues that may help unlock its secrets: a cave containing hundreds of children’s moccasins.

The cave, on the shore of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, was first excavated in the 1930s, but the artifacts found there — and the questions that they raised — were largely forgotten until recently.

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November 19 2014

Skullture: A History of People Reshaping Their Heads


My bus tour through the Andes of southern Peru took an unexpected stop. We were in the cold, dry highlands, less than 100 miles from Arequipa, when the tour guide insisted that my fellow travelers and I get off the bus “to take a small hike.” We walked through a small farm with some rocky ruins of indeterminate age. But then the guide pointed to a big rock positioned over a hole and told us to look inside.

There were a number of skulls in the hole, and they didn’t look quite right. The crown was too dome-shaped, taller and more cylindrical than usual, it seemed.

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