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July 10 2014

NASA's Voyager I hit by third solar 'tsunami'


NASA's Voyager I spacecraft has been steadily journeying away from the sun to the outer reaches of the solar system since its 1977 launch. As it travels farther out and enters a different region of the solar system, it's occasionally affected by coronal mass ejections -- shock waves caused from massive violent eruptions from our sun.

There have been three of these space "tsunamis" since 2012, and the third one -- described by NASA on Monday -- has helped the space agency confirm something it posited in late 2013: that Voyager is the first Earth craft to travel into interstellar space.

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July 10 2014

Who Turned Out the Lights? The Coming Mega Sun Storm


At Delta Air Lines’ (DAL) operations center in Atlanta, meteorologists do more than monitor the usual wind, rain, and snow. They also keep a close eye out for a less common but potentially more dangerous phenomenon known as space weather. The sun’s eruptions can send billions of tons of superheated, electrically charged gas hurtling through the solar system. When these clouds hit the earth’s magnetic field, they can result in geomagnetic storms that disrupt electric power and communications systems.

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July 10 2014

Earth's Magnetic Field Flip Could Happen Sooner Than Expected


Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm.

The biggest weak spots in the magnetic field — which extends 370,000 miles (600,000 kilometers) above the planet's surface — have sprung up over the Western Hemisphere, while the field has strengthened over areas like the southern Indian Ocean.


Related: Earth's Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now

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July 10 2014

Japan scientists find ageing cure - for flowers


Japanese scientists say they have found a way to slow down the ageing process in flowers by up to a half, meaning bouquets could remain fresh for much longer.

Researchers at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organisation in Tsukuba, east of Tokyo, said they had found the gene believed to be responsible for the short shelf-life of flowers in one Japanese variety of morning glory.

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July 10 2014

Whoa! Seahorses Don't Neigh — They Growl


Dogs and bears aren't the only animals that give off warning growls. Seahorses do too.

For the first time, researchers have recorded seahorses growling, a tiny, deep sound not easily detectable by the human ear. These distinctive little fishes growl in response to stress, specifically the stress of being captured and handled, according to a new study published online June 26 in the Journal of Zoology.

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July 10 2014

Birds co-operate within a communal nest to achieve a common good


A new insight into one of the biggest questions in science – why some animals, including humans, work together to maintain a common good – has been achieved by scientists at the University of Sheffield.

Sociable weavers, a highly social and co-operative breeding bird from the savannahs of southern Africa, build the largest nests of any bird, housing colonies of up to several hundred birds that can often weigh tonnes and last for decades. The massive nests consist of individual nest chambers which are used throughout the year for breeding and roosting and are embedded within a communal thatch.

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July 10 2014

Huge Trove of Dinosaur Footprints Discovered in Alaska


A "world-class" dinosaur track site discovered in Alaska's Denali National Park shows that herds of duck-billed dinosaurs thrived under the midnight sun.

"We had mom, dad, big brother, big sister and little babies all running around together," said paleontologist Anthony Fiorillo, who is studying the dinosaur tracks. "As I like to tell the park, Denali was a family destination for millions of years, and now we've got the fossil evidence for it.".

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July 10 2014

Researchers declassify dinosaurs as being the great-great-grandparents of birds


The re-examination of a sparrow-sized fossil from China challenges the commonly held belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly. The birdlike fossil is actually not a dinosaur, as previously thought, but much rather the remains of a tiny tree-climbing animal that could glide, say American researchers Stephen Czerkas of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah, and Alan Feduccia of the University of North Carolina. The study appears in Springer's Journal of Ornithology.

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July 10 2014

Algae May Hold Key to Origin of the Sexes


A tiny, unassuming little alga may hold the secret to how the sexes evolved.

A single gene that determines male or female sex in multicellular algae evolved from a more primitive version found in a single-celled ancestor that doesn't have sexes, according to a new study.

The new discovery could point to one of the key genetic steps involved in the origin of the sexes.

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July 10 2014

Impact Craters May Have Cradled Life on Earth


Asteroid and comet impacts could have created refuges for early life on Earth, protecting the first microorganisms from the sun’s harsh rays when the planet still lacked an ozone shield.

“Most people associate impacts with the extinction of the dinosaurs, but they can also be beneficial to life,” said Gordon Osinski, a geologist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.

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July 10 2014

Hotspot May Reveal Origin of High-Energy Cosmic Rays


A massive telescope array in the Utah desert detected a hotspot of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays coming from a region of the sky near the Big Dipper.

It's still not clear exactly what is causing the rays, but the hotspot could help researchers understand how the highest-energy particles in the universe are formed.

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July 10 2014

Exploding star reveals origins of Universe's dust


Astronomers watching a supernova may have found out where the dust that makes up much of the Universe came from.

Cosmic dust is crucial to the birth of stars and rocky planets, and provides the elemental ingredients for life. But its origin is obscure. Many astrophysicists think that dust is forged during the explosive supernova deaths of massive, short-lived stars, yet some observations of supernovas near our galaxy indicate that they produce too little material to account for the copious amounts of dust present in the young Universe.

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July 10 2014

The quiet search for dark matter deep underground


One of the quietest, darkest places in the cosmos isn’t out in the depths of space. It’s at the center of a tank of cold liquid xenon in a gold mine deep under the Black Hills of South Dakota. It needs to be that quiet: any stray particles could confuse the detectors lining the outside of the tank. Those detectors are looking for faint, rare signals, ones that could reveal the presence of dark matter.

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July 10 2014

Scientists discover radio emissions from fireballs


Streaking across the sky at more than 50 kilometers per second at atmospheric heights of more than a 90 kilometers high, researchers using the first station of University of New Mexico's Long Wavelength Array (LWA) saw something new that had never been seen before; something that could hold a treasure trove of new information in the world of physics.

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July 10 2014

NASA finds friction from tides could help distant earths survive, and thrive


As anybody who has started a campfire by rubbing sticks knows, friction generates heat. Now, computer modeling by NASA scientists shows that friction could be the key to survival for some distant Earth-sized planets traveling in dangerous orbits.

The findings are consistent with observations that Earth-sized planets appear to be very common in other star systems. Although heat can be a destructive force for some planets, the right amount of friction, and therefore heat, can be helpful and perhaps create conditions for habitability.

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July 10 2014

Salt on Mars May Have Melted Red Planet's Ice


Water could have flowed on the surface of Mars with the help of salts in the Martian soil that can melt ice, just as salts on Earth can be used to melt ice on slippery winter roads and sidewalks, researchers say.

These findings suggest "the shallow subsurface of Mars could be habitable," study co-author Nilton Rennó, a planetary and atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, told Live Science.

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July 9 2014

Water Shaped Mars' Highlands, New Red Planet Map Shows


An incredibly detailed new map of Mars' southern highlands shows how profoundly liquid water sculpted the region long ago, scientists say.

"This map depicts the complicated sequence of geologic processes that have served to modify ancient, rugged highland terrains surrounding the Hellas impact basin and shows evidence for the persistent effects of water and ice in degrading the Martian surface," David Crown, of the Planetary Science Institute (PSI) in Tucson, Arizona, said in a statement.

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