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July 28 2014

Microbe's Innovation May Have Started Largest Extinction Event on Earth


The environment can produce sudden shocks to the life of our planet through impacting space rocks, erupting volcanoes and other events.

But sometimes life itself turns the tables and strikes a swift blow back to the environment. New research suggests that the biggest extinction event on record may have been initiated by a small, but significant change to a tiny microbe.

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July 28 2014

Tasmania has prehistoric roots in North America, scientists show


Tasmania’s place in the prehistoric world seems to have become clearer with evidence that the island state was once snugly attached to western North America.

Research from the University of Tasmania found a close prehistoric connection between Tasmania and North America through the analysis of tiny minerals.

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July 28 2014

'Whistling' Volcanic Lightning Heard Halfway Around the World


The Earth sings every day, with an electric chorus. With the right tuning, radios can eavesdrop on this sizzling symphony of crackles, pops and whistles — the melody of millions of lightning bolts. A listener in New Zealand can even hear a volcano in Alaska erupt, a new study reports.

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July 28 2014

Decisions ripple through flocks of birds like a wave


Birds of a feather flock together, but perhaps not in the way we thought. An analysis of flocking starlings suggests the decision to turn spreads through the birds like a rippling wave, rather than diffusing through the group like a gas.

Asja Jelic of the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, and her colleagues spend their nights watching starlings fly over the city.

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July 28 2014

These trees don’t mind getting robbed


Plants don’t make flowers just to make me happy, and they don’t make nectar just to feed bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Those nectar-filled flowers are there to lure species in where they’ll pick up some of the plant’s pollen and transport it to another flower so the plant can reproduce.

But there are some individuals that horn in on this deal — nectar robbers.

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July 28 2014

Trees save lives, reduce respiratory problems


In the first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees nationwide, scientists have calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms. The study considered four pollutants for which the U.S. EPA has established air quality standards: nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in aerodynamic diameter.

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July 28 2014

Army Chow Could One Day Be Made With 3D Printers


The military has always looked toward new technologies to keep its soldiers fed while in the field. Canned food, for instance, was first created to provide sustenance for Napoleon's troops. Now the U.S. Army is investigating 3D printers as a way to produce more nutritious, and hopefully tastier, military rations.

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July 28 2014

Urban growth: bio-bricks offer a whiff of the future


A sweeping tower made from over 10,000 bio-waste bricks bound with fungal fibre has been growing in the courtyard of MoMA PS1, an offshoot of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Looking like something between a three-headed grain silo, Zhang Huan's Three Legged Buddha and a Berlin flak tower, Hy-Fi is the winner of this year's MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP), and its organic aesthetic clashes hard with the museum's red-brick frontage and the green-glass Citicorp building behind.

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July 28 2014

Magnets for fusion energy: High-temperature superconductor achieves new world record for electrical


Scientists have achieved an electrical current of 100,000 amperes, which is by far the highest in the world, by using the new idea of assembling the state-of-the-art yttrium-based high-temperature superconducting tapes to fabricate a large-scale magnet conductor.

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July 28 2014

UFOs Over Toronto Caught On Tape, Prompting Police Reports


Something was flying over Toronto on Saturday night, causing residents to contact police and take to social media with images and videos of lights in the sky.

“It was really high up, and was round, bright and shining,” Sarah Chun, who recorded videos of the lights with her iPad and posted them to YouTube, told the Toronto Star. “At first I thought it was stars or something, but it was too bright to be. I didn’t know what it was.”.

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July 28 2014

Earth's pull melts layer around Moon's core


The power of Earth's gravity heats up a layer around the Moon's core keeping it liquid, suggests a new model of the lunar interior.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, have implications for our understanding of how the Moon evolved over time.

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July 28 2014

Fermi finds a 'transformer' pulsar


In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed. The pulsar's radio beacon vanished, while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, according to measurements by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

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July 28 2014

Don't worry, control of the Russian gecko sex satellite has been restored


Russian space agency Roscosmos has confirmed that it has re-established communication with its Foton-M4 satellite, meaning there are no longer sexually experimental geckos drifting lost in space, possibly building their own government and conspiring to populate a planet.

The satellite made headlines last week when ground lost control with it just days after launch and was no longer able to send it commands.

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July 27 2014

Close Encounters Of The Radio Kind? Mystery Bursts Baffle Astronomers


Astronomers have a mystery on their hands. Two large radio telescopes, on opposite sides of the planet, have detected very brief, very powerful bursts of radio waves.

Right now, astronomers have no idea what's causing these bursts or where they're coming from. And nothing has been ruled out at the moment — not even the kind of outrageous claims you'd expect to see in tabloid headlines.

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July 27 2014

Mysterious signal from the center of the Perseus Cluster unexplained by known physics


Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to explore the Perseus Cluster, a swarm of galaxies approximately 250 million light years from Earth, have observed the spectral line that appears not to come from any known type of matter. The signal they received can not be explained by known physics but they say it shifts suspicion to the dark matter.

Perseus Cluster a collection of galaxies and one of the most massive known objects in the Universe, immersed in an enormous 'atmosphere' of superheated plasma. It is approximately 768 000 light years across.

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July 27 2014

Mapping Dark Matter 4.5 Billion Light-years Away


The Milky Way measures 100 to 120 thousand light-years across, a distance that defies imagination. But clusters of galaxies, which comprise hundreds to thousands of galaxies swarming under a collective gravitational pull, can span tens of millions of light-years.

These massive clusters are a complex interplay between colliding galaxies and dark matter. They seem impossible to map precisely. But now an international team of astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has done exactly this — precisely mapping a galaxy cluster, dubbed MCS J0416.1–2403, 4.5 billion light-years away.

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July 27 2014

On Cloudy Alien Planets, a Chance for Life


The cloudier an alien planet is, the closer it can get to its star and still remain potentially life-friendly, researchers say.

In fact, clouds might help Earth-like planets remain hospitable to life even when orbiting a sun-like star as closely as the hellish Venus circles the sun in our solar system, the scientists added.

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