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August 14 2014

Red dwarf stars might be best places to discover alien life


Red dwarfs are the most common type of star in the universe, and nearly every one of these stars may have a planet located in its habitable zone where life has the best chance of existing, a new study concludes.

This discovery may increase the chances that alien life could exist elsewhere in the cosmos, researchers say. They detailed their findings in the International Journal of Astrobiology.

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August 14 2014

Planck's Mystery Cosmic 'Cold Spot' May Be an Error


The European Planck space telescope detects very faint primordial radiation that was generated after the Big Bang — when the universe was only 380,000 years old. By creating a cosmic map of the slight variations in this cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation — variations known as "anisotropies" — cosmologists have been able to gain some clue as to the structure of the Universe nearly 14 billion years ago.

However, several anomalies in the CMB map have confused the scientific community; some mysterious features mapped by Planck don't agree with established theory as to how the Cosmos works. Is there some exotic new cosmology at play? Or are these features simply observational error?.

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August 14 2014

How did Supermassive Black Holes Grow so Massive so Quickly?


Black holes one billion times the Sun’s mass or more lie at the heart of many galaxies, driving their evolution. Although common today, evidence of supermassive black holes existing since the infancy of the Universe, one billion years or so after the Big Bang, has puzzled astronomers for years.

How could these giants have grown so massive in the relatively short amount of time they had to form?.

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August 13 2014

Could Mystery Signal be First Detection of Dark Matter?


Through the analysis of light from distant galactic clusters, astronomers have detected a mysterious signal that they’re having a hard time explaining. Although the signal is weak, could it be the much sought-after direct evidence for dark matter?

Dark matter pervades the entire universe and makes up for the bulk of its mass, but what is it? We know it’s out there and oodles of indirect evidence for its presence, but seeing a direct signal has so far proven elusive.

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August 13 2014

What?! The Universe Appears to Be Missing Some Light


An extraordinary amount of ultraviolet light appears to be missing from the universe, scientists have found.

One potential source of this missing light might be the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the mass in the cosmos. But a simpler explanation could be that ultra violet light escapes from galaxies more easily than is currently thought, according to the new research.

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August 13 2014

The evolution of PMS: It may exist to break up infertile relationships


A brave scientist has sought to answer a question that has baffled for centuries: why do women get premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Professor of Molecular Evolution, Michael Gillings, believes that in our evolutionary past there was a hidden selective advantage to PMS, because it increased the chance that infertile pair bonds would dissolve, thus improving the reproductive outcomes of women in such partnerships.

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August 13 2014

Pregnant women, fetuses exposed to antibacterial compounds face potential health risks


As the Food and Drug Administration mulls over whether to rein in the use of common antibacterial compounds that are causing growing concern among environmental health experts, scientists are reporting that many pregnant women and their fetuses are being exposed to these substances. The compounds are used in more than 2,000 everyday products marketed as antimicrobial, including toothpastes, soaps, detergents, carpets, paints, school supplies and toys, the researchers say.

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August 13 2014

Why Is Symmetry So Sexy? It Has Nothing to Do with Health


Facial symmetry is sexy, but perhaps not for the reasons scientists had long thought.

Humans have such a strong preference for faces and bodies that are symmetrical that evolutionary psychologists and other researchers who study human behavior have long theorized that symmetry might be a signal of good health.

But now, a new study finds that facial symmetry is not linked with health, at least during early childhood.

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August 13 2014

'Miracle' birth of world's first healthy panda triplets in China


A Chinese zoo has unveiled newborn panda triplets billed as the world's first known surviving trio, in what it hailed as a "miracle" given the animal's famously low reproductive rate.

The mother panda, named Juxiao, meaning "chrysanthemum smile", delivered the triplets at Guangzhou's Chimelong Safari Park in the early hours of July 29, but was too exhausted to take care of them afterwards.

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August 13 2014

The Tick That Turns Carnivores Into Herbivores


I'm one of those people who has cut back on eating beef and pork, increased my intake of greens and learned to love tofu. But I’ve done it by choice – not just because my garden suddenly has an overabundance of zucchini. Or vegan-inducing ticks.

The Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum), named for the barbecue-and-steak-loving state of Texas, has been known to cause an allergic reaction to meat in people who have been bitten by one. By allergic reaction, I mean hives, rashes, overheating and a tight throat the next time the infected person attempts to eat any kind of red meat, including beef, pork, venison, and rabbit.

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August 13 2014

Giant Amazon fish 'locally extinct' due to overfishing


A 10ft (3m) long fish which used to dominate the Amazon river has been fished to extinction in a number of areas, scientists have revealed.

Arapaima populations were found to be extinct in eight of the 41 communities studied, and extremely low on average.

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August 13 2014

Hemp fibres 'better than graphene'


The waste fibres from hemp crops can be transformed into high-performance energy storage devices, scientists say.

They "cooked" cannabis bark into carbon nanosheets and built supercapacitors "on a par with or better than graphene" - the industry gold standard.

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August 13 2014

Mind-Blowing Giant Crystals — What Can They Teach Us?


Giant gypsum crystals — some of which are in excess of 30 feet long and half a million years old — are found deep within the Naica mine in Chihuahua, Mexico and are renowned for their spectacular beauty.

While large gypsum crystals can also be found at sites around the world, such as Segóbriga and Pulpí in Spain, and the El Teniente mine in Chile, Naica boasts the most exceptional ones.

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August 13 2014

Fisherman Pulls Up Beastly Evidence of Early Americans


A 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and tool dredged from the seafloor in the Chesapeake Bay hints of early settlers in North America.

The two relics, which were pulled up together, may come from a place that hasn't been dry land since 14,000 years ago. If so, the combination of the finds may suggest that people lived in North America, and possibly butchered the mastodon, thousands of years before people from the Clovis culture, who are widely thought to be the first settlers of North America and the ancestors of all living Native Americans.

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August 13 2014

15 million pages of historic medical books to go online


Some 15 million yellowed pages of text and images from arcane 19th-century medical books are about to go digital.

Nine British universities and research institutions are sending their collections of important texts from the history of medicine and science to the London-based Wellcome Library so that their rare books and pamphlets can be made freely available online.

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August 13 2014

The Smithsonian Wants You! (To Help Transcribe Its Collections)


Many myths surround the Smithsonian Institution’s archives—from legends of underground facilities hidden beneath the National Mall to rumors of secret archaeological excavations. One underlying truth persists amid these fallacies: the Institution’s archives are indeed massive. Preserving these collections in a digital age is a gargantuan task, especially when it comes to handwritten documents. Ink fades with time, and individual scrawls sometimes resemble hieroglyphics. It could literally take decades.

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August 13 2014

Archaeologists uncover Greece's biggest ancient tomb


Archaeologists have unearthed a vast ancient tomb in Greece, distinguished by two sphinxes and frescoed walls and dating to 300-325BC, the government announced on Tuesday.

The tomb, in the country's north-eastern Macedonia region, which has been gradually unearthed over the past two years, marks a significant discovery from the early Hellenistic era. A culture ministry official said that there was no evidence yet to suggest a link to Alexander the Great – who died in 323BC after an unprecedented military campaign through the Middle East, Asia and northeast Africa – or his family.

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