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October 17 2014

New Exotic Particle Could Help Explain What Holds Matter Together


A new exotic particle has been hiding out amidst the gobs of data collected by the world's largest atom smasher, physicists have discovered.

The new particle, called Ds3*, is a meson — a type of unstable particle made of one quark and one antiquark. Quarks are subatomic particles and are the most basic building blocks of matter that make up protons and neutrons.

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October 17 2014

Suspended Animation In Space Travel: What Scientists Still Need To Learn


The first astronauts who head off to Mars might make the entire 180-day journey while they’re fast asleep. In a NASA-commissioned study on human stasis, aerospace engineers at SpaceWorks have found that the benefits of placing a crew in suspended animation for the duration of the journey could be legion. Without living spaces or kitchen facilities, the ship carrying the crew could be lighter and smaller. With everyone basically in hibernation, with a lower metabolic rate, future missions can reduce consumables like food and water by up to 70 percent.

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October 17 2014

What Will It Be Like to Live in a Dome for 8 Months, Pretending It's Mars?


On Wednesday, three men and three women will step inside a thousand-square-foot dome on the north side of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. For the next eight months, they will be cut off from the outside world. The team will simulate life at a space station on Mars as part of a project called HI-SEAS, sponsored by NASA and led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The eight-month project is the second of three missions sponsored by NASA studying human performance on long-duration isolation missions. It's NASA's longest Mars simulation to date.

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October 17 2014

Mars colonists 'would start dying after 68 days'


A Dutch entrepreneur’s plan to launch a one-way trip to Mars funded by a reality TV show has been criticized by scientists who say that current technology means that the colonists would start dying after just 68 days.


Related: Mars One Dustup: Founder Says Mission Won’t Fail As MIT Study Predicts

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October 16 2014

Mars' Atmosphere is Leaching Out Into Space


Early results from NASA’s recently arrived MAVEN Mars spacecraft show an extensive, tenuous cloud of hydrogen surrounding the Red Planet, the result of water breaking down in the atmosphere

MAVEN, an acronym for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, arrived on Sept. 21 to help answer questions about what caused a planet that was once warm and wet to turn into the cold, dry desert that appears today.


Alt: Mars Losing Parts of Itself

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October 16 2014

Want to Stay Healthy? You'll Need to Become a Human-Animal Hybrid.


Biologists have been mixing the DNA of different animals since the 1970s, but the idea of injecting the genes of animals into humans remains taboo. Called transgenics, it's a practice that could cure illness in the future — and eventually reshape our species. Here's what you need to know about it.

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October 16 2014

Change your walking style, change your mood


Our mood can affect how we walk — slump-shouldered if we're sad, bouncing along if we're happy. Now researchers have shown it works the other way too — making people imitate a happy or sad way of walking actually affects their mood.

Subjects who were prompted to walk in a more depressed style, with less arm movement and their shoulders rolled forward, experienced worse moods than those who were induced to walk in a happier style, according to the study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

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October 16 2014

Follow the leader: Insects benefit from good leadership too


Scientists have shown for the first time that when insect larvae follow a leader to forage for food, both leaders and followers benefit, growing much faster than if they are in a group of only leaders or only followers. The work gives new insight into why such social relationships evolve in insects, and why they are maintained.

The study looked at larvae of the iconic Australian steel-blue sawfly Perga affinis often known as 'spitfires'.

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October 16 2014

Chimpanzees have favorite 'tool set' for hunting staple food of army ants


West African chimpanzees will search far and wide to find Alchornea hirtella, a spindly shrub whose straight shoots provide the ideal tools to hunt aggressive army ants in an ingenious fashion, new research shows.

The plant provides the animals with two different types of tool, a thicker shoot for 'digging' and a more slender tool for 'dipping'.

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October 16 2014

Humanity's terrifying impact on Earth justifies new Anthropocene epoch


The events marking a new geological chapter in the Earth’s history need to be epoch making – literally. So whether a new epoch – the Anthropocene – should be formally declared is a question of whether humanity’s impact on our planet rivals the great events that have shaped the Earth’s evolution. The answer is a terrifying yes.

It’s a mistake to think that the geological timescale is simply about rocks. Almost all its great ruptures are marked by the flowering or decimation of life.

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October 16 2014

Italy pushes ahead with 'next generation' biofuels from waste


Italy will become the first country in Europe to legally require "advanced biofuels" in cars and trucks, the BBC has learned.

Made from waste, the new fuels are said to reduce the amount of land taken out of food production.

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October 16 2014

Lockheed Says It'll Have A Truck-Sized Fusion Reactor In 10 Years


American defense contractor Lockheed Martin has issued a statement declaring it has made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion. It's hoping to have a prototype ready in five years — and a small, functional unit ready by 2024.

It's a big claim, but if they're being honest it could be a huge development. The company is basically saying that it's figured out a way to harness the same kind of nuclear reaction that heats the sun and that this process can be replicated in compact form to power cities and vehicles on Earth.

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October 16 2014

Rosetta mission: Comet landing gets green light


The decision to try to land a robot on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November has been confirmed.

Last month, planners on Europe's Rosetta mission announced a preference for a touch-down location on the head of the icy, rubber-duck-shaped object.

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October 16 2014

Were Lunar Volcanoes Active When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth?


The Moon’s a very dusty museum where the exhibits haven’t changed much over the last 4 billion years. Or so we thought. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has provided researchers strong evidence the Moon’s volcanic activity slowed gradually instead of stopping abruptly a billion years ago.


Related: Violent eruptions in Mercury's past could hold clues to its formation

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October 16 2014

First Photos of Water Ice on Mercury Captured by NASA Spacecraft


The first-ever photos of water ice near Mercury's north pole have come down to Earth, and they have quite a story to tell.

The images, taken by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft (short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging), suggest that the ice lurking within Mercury's polar craters was delivered recently, and may even be topped up by processes that continue today, researchers said.

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October 16 2014

Bizarre 'pyramid' on comet: How did it get there?


The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has sent home several spectacular images that show a large pyramid-shaped boulder studding the surface of its target comet.

Rosetta mission team members have named the 82-foot-tall (25 meters) boulder on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko "Cheops," after the largest pyramid in Egypt's famous Giza complex. The rock is much smaller than its namesake, however, which rises 456 feet (139 m) into the Egyptian sky.

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October 16 2014

First Alien “Ice-Giant” Planet Found


Our view of other star systems just got a little more familiar, with the discovery of a planet 25,000 light-years away that resembles our own Uranus (Voyager 2 image above). Astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets around the Milky Way, including rocky planets similar to Earth and gas planets similar to Jupiter. But there is a third type of planet in our solar system—part gas, part ice—and this is the first time anyone has spotted a twin for our so-called “ice giant” planets, Uranus and Neptune.

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