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August 6 2014

Mars or bust: the new space race to put humans on the red planet


Two years ago tomorrow, a nuclear-powered rover, the size of an SUV and weighing almost a tonne, was lowered onto the surface of Mars. Touching down ever so gently, Nasa’s Curiosity landed with an almighty roar.

It sent a message to the world that a new space race – a race to eventually set foot on Mars – was well under way.

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August 6 2014

After 2 Years on Mars, NASA's Curiosity Rover Aims for Huge Mountain


Two years ago this week, much of the world held its breath as a rocket-powered sky crane lowered NASA's huge Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars on cables.

The bold and unprecedented maneuver worked on the night of Aug. 5, 2012, eliciting high fives and raucous cheers at mission control at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as at viewing parties around the globe.

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August 6 2014

100-Million Years Ago --"Did Our Milky Way Collide With a Dark Matter Structure?"


"Our part of the Milky Way is ringing like a bell," said Brian Yanny, of the Department of Energy’s Fermilab. "But we have not been able to identify the celestial object that passed through the Milky Way. It could have been one of the small satellite galaxies that move around the center of our galaxy, or an invisible structure such as a dark matter halo."

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August 6 2014

Planet-like object may have spent its youth as hot as a star


Astronomers have discovered an extremely cool object that could have a particularly diverse history—although it is now as cool as a planet, it may have spent much of its youth as hot as a star.

The current temperature of the object is 200 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (100 to 150 degrees Celsius), which is intermediate between that of the Earth and of Venus.

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August 6 2014

Rosetta probe set to meet comet after 10-year chase


After a journey that has lasted a decade, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft is now on its final approach to a comet.

The tiny probe is set to rendezvous in a few hours with one of the strangest objects in the solar system.

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August 6 2014

Mysterious Craters Are Just the Beginning of Arctic Surprises


It's not just craters purportedly dug by aliens in Russia, it's also megaslumps, ice that burns and drunken trees. The ongoing meltdown of the permanently frozen ground that covers nearly a quarter of land in the Northern Hemisphere has caused a host of surprising arctic phenomena.

Temperatures across the Arctic are warming roughly twice as fast as the rest of the globe, largely due to the reduction in the amount of sunlight reflecting off of white, snow-covered ground.

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August 6 2014

Underwater Ocean Turbines: A New Spin on Clean Energy?


A new technology that harnesses the power of ocean currents could provide a clean and limitless form of renewable energy, some scientists say.

A group of scientists and engineers who describe themselves as "nerds in wetsuits and flippers" has launched a crowdfunding campaign, called Crowd Energy, to do just that. Their idea is to use giant underwater turbines to capture the energy from deep-ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream off the coast of Florida.

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August 6 2014

Nanoscale, biodegradable drug-delivery method could provide a year or more of steady doses


About one in four older adults suffers from chronic pain. Many of those people take medication, usually as pills. But this is not an ideal way of treating pain: Patients must take medicine frequently, and can suffer side effects, since the contents of pills spread through the bloodstream to the whole body.

Now researchers at MIT have refined a technique that could enable pain medication and other drugs to be released directly to specific parts of the body—and in steady doses over a period of up to 14 months.

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August 6 2014

What Do Great Musicians Have in Common? DNA


At age 13, jazz great Thelonious Monk ran into trouble at Harlem's Apollo Theater. The reason: he was too good. The famously precocious pianist was, as they say, a “natural,” and by that point had won the Apollo’s amateur competition so many times that he was barred from re-entering. To be sure, Monk practiced, a lot actually. But two new studies, and the fact that he taught himself to read music as a child before taking a single lesson, suggest that he likely had plenty of help from his genes.

The question of what accounts for the vast variability in people’s aptitudes for skilled and creative pursuits goes way back — are experts born with their skill, or do they acquire it?

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August 6 2014

Can Acupuncture Treat Depression?


A growing number of people are seeking alternatives to antidepressant medications, and new research suggests that acupuncture could be a promising option. One new study found the traditional Chinese practice to be as effective as antidepressants, and a different study found that acupuncture may help treat the medications' side effects.

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August 6 2014

Chili Peppers May Inhibit Gut Tumors


A spicy chemical may be able to slow down or reduce gut tumors, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that dietary capsaicin - the active ingredient in chili peppers - produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining the intestines of mice, triggering a reaction that ultimately reduces the risk of colorectal tumors.

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August 6 2014

The Case Against Chlorinated Tap Water


Could it interfere with the "good" bacteria in your gut?

The chlorination of municipal tap water is considered one of the 20th century's best public health ideas. The American Water Works Association credits the practice with increasing life expectancy by 50 percent over the past century by virtually eliminating water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. But chlorine in drinking water can cause health risks of its own.

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August 6 2014

Diet change – a solution to reduce water use?


Eating less meat would protect water resources in dry areas around the world, researchers at Aalto University have found.

Reducing the use of animal products can have a considerable impact on areas suffering scarce water resources, as meat production requires more water than other agricultural products.

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August 6 2014

What If California Runs Out of Water?


It would be a great premise for a Hollywood apocalyptic disaster thriller. Imagine that after several years of devastating drought, California's supply of water gradually vanished. As the reservoirs went bone dry, in Los Angeles water would stop flowing from faucets, while in California's Central Valley, crops would wither as irrigation ceased.


Related: 40 Million People Depend on the Colorado River. Now It's Drying Up.

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August 5 2014

New Nazca Lines geoglyphs uncovered by gales and sandstorms in Peru


High winds and sandstorms in Peru have revealed previously undiscovered geoglyphs in the ancient Nazca Lines.

Eduardo Herrán Gómez de la Torre, a pilot and researcher, found the new shapes while flying over the desert last week, El Comercio reported.

He believes one of the geoglyphs depicts a snake 60 metres long and 4 metres wide, near the famous “hummingbird”.

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August 5 2014

Flores bones show features of Down syndrome, not a new 'hobbit' human


In October 2004, excavation of fragmentary skeletal remains from the island of Flores in Indonesia yielded what was called "the most important find in human evolution for 100 years." Its discoverers dubbed the find Homo floresiensis, a name suggesting a previously unknown species of human.

No substantial new bone discoveries have been made in the cave since the finding of LB1.

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August 5 2014

2,100-Year-Old King's Mausoleum Discovered in China


A 2,100-year-old mausoleum built for a king named Liu Fei has been discovered in modern-day Xuyi County in Jiangsu, China, archaeologists report.

Liu Fei died in 128 B.C. during the 26th year of his rule over a kingdom named Jiangdu, which was part of the Chinese empire.

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