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February 18 2015

1,500-year-old pips may help recreate mysterious 'Gaza wine'


A rich burgundy or crisp chardonnay may be your tipple of choice. But a handful of 1,500-year-old charred grape seeds could help scientists recreate one of the finest ancient wines.

It is the first time that seeds have been found, offering hope that the taste of 'Gaza wine' could finally be revealed.


Related: Divers in Caesarea find largest treasure of gold coins ever discovered in Israel

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February 18 2015

'Mystery' manuscript identified as Buddhist monk manual


A "mystery manuscript" which has been held in Trafford Archives for more than 120 years has finally been identified.


Related: Ancient animal bone suggests Himiko adopted Chinese fortunetelling method

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February 18 2015

Germany returns books worth 2.5 million euros stolen from Italian libraries


German authorities on Friday returned 500 historical books including original works by Renaissance scientists Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus, stolen from Italian libraries three years ago, to Naples prosecutors.


Related: Rare bibles and Shakespeare folios in $300m 'wow factor' Princeton bequest
Related: Indigenous leaders fight for return of relics featuring in major new exhibition

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February 18 2015

Possible Anne Boleyn portrait found using facial recognition software


She won the heart of King Henry VIII, divided the church and lost her head. But nearly 500 years after Anne Boleyn met her death, only one uncontested portrait of her remains.

But another portrait from the late 16th century has emerged as a likely painting of the queen. Researchers in California used state-of-the-art face recognition to compare the face on the Moost Happi medal with a number of paintings and found a close match with the privately owned Nidd Hall portrait, held at the Bradford Art Galleries and Museums.

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February 18 2015

'Digital dark age' could leave historians with no records of the 21st century


Technology could mean that our lives are lost to history, according to experts.

As the way that we store information about ourselves develops, memories stored in files that use older technology are becoming harder to access, Dr Vinton "Vint" Cerf, vice president of Google, has warned.

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February 18 2015

Glassed-in DNA makes the ultimate time capsule


IF YOU must preserve messages for people in the far future to read, Blu-ray discs and USB sticks are no good. For real long-term storage, you want a DNA time capsule.

Just 1 gram of DNA is theoretically capable of holding 455 exabytes – enough for all the data held by Google, Facebook and every other major tech company, with room to spare. It's also incredibly durable: DNA has been extracted and sequenced from 700,000-year-old horse bones. But conditions have to be right for it to last.

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February 18 2015

Fungus May Save Crops from Disease and Global Warming


As scientists seek to make crops resilient against disease and the effects of climate change, they are turning to what may seem like an unlikely champion: fungi.

Specifically, they are studying endophytes, a type of fungus (or bacteria) that lives inside plant tissue and has no apparent negative effects on its hosts. Endophytes do, however, provide important protections to plants, which is why researchers are focusing on how the organisms could be used commercially to improve food security.

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February 18 2015

Has America entered the age of 'megadroughts'?


Based on tree-ring records, scientists know that severe droughts coincided with the collapse of the Ancestral Pueblo culture. Great droughts struck in the 1100s and 1200s, at the same time as the abandonment of the stone villages at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and elsewhere on the Colorado Plateau.

Now, researchers have used the same tree-ring records to divine the future of drought in the United States.


Related: Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City

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February 18 2015

Scientists reveal revolutionary palm oil alternative: yeast


A little-known yeast historically used in South Africa’s wine industry could revolutionise the food and cosmetics industries, and help halt deforestation

The ubiquity of palm oil, which appears in everything from margarine to lipstick, is now widely recognised. So too are the detrimental effects of palm oil plantations on the world’s remaining rainforests. So why do we keep using it?

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February 18 2015

Spy agencies fund climate research in hunt for weather weapon, scientist fears


A senior US scientist has expressed concern that the intelligence services are funding climate change research to learn if new technologies could be used as potential weapons.

Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has called on secretive government agencies to be open about their interest in radical work that explores how to alter the world’s climate.

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February 18 2015

Our Sun May Experience a Surprisingly Explosive Death


Our sun will not explode as a powerful supernova when it eventually runs out of fuel, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be fireworks.

When our sun runs out of hydrogen fuel in its core, the star will puff up into a huge red giant and torment itself with powerful stellar winds, eventually stripping its self bare, creating a vast planetary nebula with a small yet dense white dwarf in its core.

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February 18 2015

Weird Sub-Neptunes and Super-Earths Pop Up in Kepler's Planet Search


One of the most common kinds of planets detected by NASA's Kepler telescope appears to be a type that doesn't exist in our own solar system, a leading astronomer on the Kepler team said Friday.

This type of planet has a size in the range between two and four times Earth's diameter, but it shouldn't be called a "super-Earth" or a "mini-Neptune," said Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, one of the world's most experienced planet-hunters. For now, he's calling them "sub-Neptunes.".

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February 18 2015

Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs May Stay Wet Enough for Life


Small, cold stars known as red dwarfs are the most common type of star in the Universe, and the sheer number of planets that may exist around them potentially make them valuable places to hunt for signs of extraterrestrial life.

However, previous research into planets around red dwarfs suggested that while they may be warm enough to host life, they might also completely dry out, with any water they possess locked away permanently as ice. New research published on the topic finds that these planets may stay wet enough for life after all.

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February 18 2015

Mars One narrows applicant pool to 100 potential dead Martians


On Tuesday, the Mars One foundation took one small step closer to its mission of sending humans to Mars by announcing the "Mars 100," a group of 100 men and women who've moved on from the initial applicant pool of thousands. The private nonprofit reached that number, divided evenly between men and women, after narrowing down from last year's list of 705 hopefuls—all of whom paid an entry fee of roughly $38 to sign up for what's been clearly advertised as a one-way trip to their deaths.


Alt: Mars One: 'We're all going to die, but it's important what you do before you die'

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February 17 2015

Mystery Mars haze baffles scientists


A mysterious haze high above Mars has left scientists scratching their heads.

The vast plume was initially spotted by amateur astronomers in 2012, and appeared twice before vanishing.

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February 17 2015

Scientists think there could be life on Jupiter's moon Europa. Here's why.


Our best shot at finding extraterrestrial life inside the solar system isn't on Mars. It's on Europa: a moon of Jupiter that likely has a vast water ocean under its ultra-cold, icy surface. And if all goes as planned, NASA will begin planning an uncrewed exploration mission to Europa next year.

"We think Europa has the ingredients for life," says Robert Pappalardo, the mission's project scientist. "Not just liquid water, but probably the right elements and chemical energy that might permit life too.".

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February 17 2015

Adding peptide to brain could shrink meals


Scientists have discovered that administering a peptide and hormone to a specific area of the brain may reduce the desire for food.

The study, which appears in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, could one day lead to medications that treat obesity and binge eating disorders.

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