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April 18 2015

It's been raining worms in Norway


Karsten Erstad is a biologist from Norway. But despite his experience of the animal world, he couldn't believe his eyes when, whilst skiing, he came across thousands upon thousands of earthworms.

So how does it rain worms? And why? Well, no one is entirely sure.

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April 18 2015

Zombie worms ate plesiosaur bones


A type of deep-sea worm that eats whale bones has existed for 100 million years and may have chewed up chunks of the fossil record, a study suggests.

Researchers found bore-holes indicative of Osedax worms in the fossilised flipper of a plesiosaur, and the rib and shell of an ancient sea turtle.

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April 18 2015

A Project to Turn Corpses Into Compost


Cullowhee, N.C. — The body of the tiny 78-year-old woman, gray hair falling over stiffened shoulders, was brought to a hillside at Western Carolina University still clad in a blue hospital gown and chartreuse socks.

She was laid on a bed of wood chips, and then more were heaped atop her. If all goes as hoped, the body will turn into compost.

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April 18 2015

Goce gravity boost to geothermal hunt


The hunt for sources of geothermal energy is getting a boost from new observations of the Earth made from space.

Information about variations in gravity across the planet could help prospectors find promising locations where sub-surface heat can be exploited to generate electricity.

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April 18 2015

Nasa's Curiosity rover finds water below surface of Mars


Mars has liquid water just below its surface, according to new measurements by Nasa’s Curiosity rover.

Until now, scientists had thought that conditions on the red planet were too cold and arid for liquid water to exist, although there were known to be deposits of ice.


Alt: On Mars, Liquid Water Appears at Night, Study Suggests

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April 18 2015

Mystery of Ceres' bright spots grows


Not all of the puzzling bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are alike. The closest-yet images of the gleams, taken from 45,000 kilometres away, show that at least two of the spots look different from one another when seen in infrared wavelengths.


Related: NASA’s Dawn sends back stunning new picture of Ceres after a month on the dark side

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April 17 2015

Earth ate a Mercury-like body early in its history, study finds


A Mercury-like body smashed into a young Earth and gave our planet’s core the radioactive elements necessary to generate a magnetic field, a pair of Oxford geochemists say.

Without that magnetic field, there would be no shield to protect us from the onslaught of radiation constantly bombarding Earth from space, making the existence of life as we know it impossible, scientists say.

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April 17 2015

Glitter Cloud May Serve as Space Mirror


What does glitter have to do with finding stars and planets outside our solar system? Space telescopes may one day make use of glitter-like materials to help take images of new worlds, according to researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Standard telescopes use solid mirrors to image far-away objects. But the large, complex mirrors needed for astronomy can be quite expensive and difficult to construct. Their size and weight also add to the challenges of launching a space telescope in the first place.

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April 17 2015

Meteorites pinpoint the age of the Moon


The Moon was created 4.47 billion years ago, according to a new study of meteorites containing ancient fragments from the giant collision that formed the Earth and its lunar companion.

The findings reported in the journal Science, also provide astronomers with a new tool for determining the age of major events in the early history of the solar system.

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April 17 2015

IRS in Space: How Will We Tax a Mars Mission?


WASHINGTON – Paying taxes is an inescapable reality — even in space.

Taxes are going to play a big role in a Mars mission, both in getting there and upon arrival, Adam Chodorow, a law professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, said April 9 at an event hosted by Future Tense, a partnership of Slate, the nonprofit New America Foundation and Arizona State University.

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April 17 2015

Death and taxes: Why tax day may be hazardous to your health


Do you dread tax day? If so, your instincts are good – though your anxiety is probably misdirected.

Sending your hard-earned money to the government may bring on chest pains, but the real risk to your health on April 15 is that you could die in a car crash.

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April 17 2015

Forget drones, think moles: the subterranean delivery network


While companies such as Amazon are hoping to deliver parcels by air using drones, one British company is exploring the equally high-tech concept of using a vast underground network of pipes in a bid to bypass the UK’s ever more congested roads.

The idea of underground freight deliveries using magnetic fields for propulsion may sound like something from a mediocre science fiction novel, but it is being taken seriously enough to be given development funds by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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April 17 2015

Flourishing faster: How to make trees grow bigger and quicker


Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered a way to make trees grow bigger and faster, which could increase supplies of renewable resources and help trees cope with the effects of climate change.

In the study, published in Current Biology, the team successfully manipulated two genes in poplar trees in order to make them grow larger and more quickly than usual.

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April 17 2015

Major advance in artificial photosynthesis poses win/win for the environment


A potentially game-changing breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of a system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even liquid fuels.

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April 17 2015

Absence of copyright has its own economic value, social benefits


A new study co-written by a University of Illinois expert in intellectual property law demonstrates that the value of creative works in the public domain such as books, images and music can be estimated at least as precisely as the value of commercially available copyrighted works.

The implications of the study for both copyright term extension and orphan works legislation are substantial, says law professor Paul Heald.

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April 17 2015

Why Does Scratching an Itch Make It Itchier?


To scratch an itch is to scratch many itches: placing nails to skin brings sweet yet short-lived relief because it often instigates another bout of itchiness. The unexpected culprit behind this vicious cycle, new research reveals, is serotonin, the so-called happiness hormone.

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April 17 2015

Zapping the Brain With Electricity Boosts People’s Creativity


Need some creative, out-of-the box ideas? Try adding a little jolt to your next brainstorming session.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have found that stimulating the brain with electrical impulses boosts creativity. The impulses, researchers say, activated specific brain waves associated with originative thinking, and people who were buzzed scored significantly higher on a test of creative thought.

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