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March 19 2015

9 Historical Mysteries Solved By Astronomy


History is filled with mysteries that can be answered by the position of the moon, the nature of the tides, and the time of year when an event occurred. Here are mysteries of battles, art, and literature, that were solved thanks to astronomical detectives.

Who uses the skies to solve historical mysteries? Astrophysicist and forensic astronomer Donald W. Olson and his team at Texas State University use their astronomical tools to solve all manner of mystery.


Related: To understand the pyramids and Stonehenge, look up – not down

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March 19 2015

Meteor mistaken for sinking ship's distress flare


The hunt for a sinking ship that launched a distress flare was cancelled - after lifeboat crews discovered it was actually a meteor.

Numerous eagle-eyed families living off the Cumbrian coast sent Maryport Coastguard Rescue Team reports of seeing the ship's flare, prompting a full-scale sea rescue operation.

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March 19 2015

When A Meteorite Hits Snow It Forms A "Snow Carrot" Instead Of A Crater


What happens when a meteorite hits snow? Instead of forming classic impact craters, the fragments form strange funnels of dense snow diving into the surface instead. Here's the physics of how "snow carrots" form.

When the Chelyabinsk meteorite exploded over Russia in February 2013, it showered rock fragments over the landscape below. In the following days, geologists from the nearby Vernadsky institute tracked down 450 fragments, most only 3 to 6 centimeters large.

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March 19 2015

Oddball 'Crystal' Survived Crash to Earth Inside Meteorite


A bizarre crystal-like mineral recently found in a meteorite that crashed to Earth perhaps 15,000 years ago adds more support for the idea that the fragile structure can survive in nature. But how it formed at the beginnings of the solar system is still a mystery.

The newfound mineral is called a "quasicrystal" because it resembles a crystal, but the atoms are not arranged as regularly as they are in real crystals. The quasicrystal hitched a ride to Earth on a meteorite that zipped from space through Earth's atmosphere and crashed to the ground.

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March 19 2015

Solar eclipse is unprecedented test, says European power grid


The loss of solar power generation during Friday’s eclipse will be an unprecedented test for the European grid but is very unlikely to cause problems for electricity users, according to electricity providers in the UK and Europe.

If the weather is clear on Friday morning the European grid will suddenly lose the equivalent generation of eight to ten very large coal power plants as the moon passes between solar panels and the sun.

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March 19 2015

Cosmic Smashups May Have Rained Metal on Early Earth


Iron vapor from cosmic impacts during the early days of Earth could have triggered "metal rain" to fall on the newborn planet, researchers say.

This new finding could help solve mysteries concerning the formation and evolution of the Earth and moon, the investigators said.

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March 18 2015

Life came to Earth on a meteorite, say scientists


Life on earth has long been a mystery, since the building blocks appear to have landed on the planet with no real explanation of how they got there. But a scientist has proposed one — those mysterious building blocks arrived here by crashing down with a meteorite.


Alt: Scientists solve the 'chicken and the egg' conundrum for life’s beginnings

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March 18 2015

Rosetta: Comet's wind mystery may be solved


Scientists from the Rosetta mission may have solved the puzzle of features on Comet 67P that look like they were produced by wind.

Dust appears to be getting blown along the surface - a surprise finding on an "airless" body like a comet.

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March 18 2015

Planets in the habitable zone around most stars, calculate researchers


Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets in our galaxy, the Milky Way, using the Kepler satellite and many of them have multiple planets orbiting the host star. By analysing these planetary systems, researchers from the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen have calculated the probability for the number of stars in the Milky Way that might have planets in the habitable zone. The calculations show that billions of the stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is the potential for liquid water and where life could exist.

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March 18 2015

Race to find the first exomoon heats up


The galaxy could be stuffed with large moons that orbit alien worlds, according to an analysis of data from NASA's Kepler space telescope. Such moons are thought to be the most likely places to find alien life, so groups are clamouring to find the first.

Astronomers have raked in thousands of exoplanets, but their smaller moons have proved harder to come by.

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March 18 2015

Real-time holographic displays one step closer to reality


Researchers from the University of Cambridge have designed a new type of pixel element and demonstrated its unique switching capability, which could make three-dimensional holographic displays possible.

Real-time dynamic holographic displays, long the realm of science fiction, could be one step closer to reality, after researchers from the University of Cambridge developed a new type of pixel element that enables far greater control over displays at the level of individual pixels.

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March 18 2015

Terminator-inspired 3D printer 'grows' objects


A 3D printing process that harnesses light and oxygen has been demonstrated at the Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Vancouver.

Carbon3D said its "game-changing" process could make objects such as car parts, medical devices or shoes.

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March 18 2015

Scientists discover how to change human leukemia cells into harmless immune cells


After a chance observation in the lab, researchers found a method that can force dangerous leukemia cells in the lab to mature into harmless immune cells called macrophages.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that when a certain aggressive leukemia is causing havoc in the body, the solution may be to force the cancer cells to grow up and behave.

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March 18 2015

Older Really Can Mean Wiser


Behind all those canned compliments for older adults — spry! wily! wise! — is an appreciation for something that scientists have had a hard time characterizing: mental faculties that improve with age.

Knowledge is a large part of the equation, of course. People who are middle-aged and older tend to know more than young adults, by virtue of having been around longer, and score higher on vocabulary tests, crossword puzzles and other measures of so-called crystallized intelligence.

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March 18 2015

Repeated remembering 'wipes similar memories'


Recalling a particular memory can cause us to forget another, similar memory - and neuroscientists have now watched this process happen using brain scans.

Inside the brains of human subjects, they pinpointed the unique imprints of two visual memories that were triggered by the same word.


Alt: Memories Weaken Without Reinforcement, Study Finds

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March 18 2015

Breast-Feeding Boosts Chances Of Success, Study In Brazil Finds


Babies who are breast-fed may be more likely to be successful in life, a provocative study published Tuesday suggests.

The study followed more than 3,000 babies into adulthood in Brazil. The researchers found those who were breast-fed scored slightly higher in intelligence tests in their 30s, stayed in school longer and earned more money than those who were given formula.

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March 18 2015

A Hug a Day Keeps the Doctor Away


During my final semester of undergrad, I made two signs that read, “Feeling stressed about exams? Have a free hug!” Then I recruited a friend and we stood in the entrance of the campus library, held up the signs, and waited. Passerbys had one of two reactions: Either they quickly looked down at their phones and awkwardly shuffled by, or their faces lit up as they embraced us. Most people were enthusiastic. Some exclaimed, “You made my day!” or “Thank you. I needed this.” One leapt into my arms, nearly toppling me over. After two hours of warm interactions, my friend and I couldn’t believe how energized and happy we felt.

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