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February 27 2014

Smithsonian scientists solve 'sudden death at sea' mystery


Mass strandings of whales have puzzled people since Aristotle. Modern-day strandings can be investigated and their causes, often human-related, identified. Events that happened millions of years ago, however, are far harder to analyze—frequently leaving their cause a mystery.

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February 27 2014

Stonehenge Rock Source Identified


Scientists have found the exact source of Stonehenge's smaller bluestones, new research suggests.

The stones' rock composition revealed they come from a nearby outcropping, located about 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) away from the site originally proposed as the source of such rocks nearly a century ago. The discovery of the rock's origin, in turn, could help archaeologists one day unlock the mystery of how the stones got to Stonehenge.

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February 27 2014

Incredible underground chamber with 130 ancient Greek statues awaiting investigation


An underground chamber containing 130 ancient Greek statues was discovered in Athens 25 years ago. But no one, apart from the finders, has cared enough to battle the bureaucracy that has prevented the hatch from being opened and the remarkable treasures from being recovered. So what has stopped the Ministry of Culture from retrieving such precious relics of the past? Apparently the obstacle is as simple as the fact that the mysterious underground chamber lies on private property and no one wants to get involved.

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February 27 2014

Lonely Cows Are Slow Learners


Immediately after birth on many dairy farms, baby cows are separated from their mothers and housed in their own pens to protect them from getting sick. Two months later, they join the herd.

But early-life isolation may be depriving baby cows of the opportunity to reach their full potential, found a new study. Compared to calves raised in pairs, isolated calves were much slower to learn new things and had a harder time adapting to changes in their environment.

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February 27 2014

In Tibet, Dogs Breathe Comfortably With Less Oxygen


See Spot run. See Lassie save Timmy from a well. See Tibetan Mastiffs climb 4,500 meters above sea level on the Tibetan Plateau. The ever-so-fluffy Tibetan Mastiff, which commonly serves as a guard dog for the plateau's residents, is able to breathe comfortably at high altitudes. Like the Tibetan people, Tibetan Mastiffs have adapted to air with less oxygen.

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February 27 2014

Children of older men at greater risk of mental illness, study suggests


Children born to fathers over the age of 45 are at greater risk of developing psychiatric problems and more likely to struggle at school, according to the findings of a large-scale study.

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February 27 2014

Stupider With Monogamy


Forcing male flies into monogamy has a startling effect: After a few dozen generations, the flies become worse at learning.

This discovery, published on Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, isn’t a biological excuse for men who have strayed from their significant other. Instead, it’s a tantalizing clue about why intelligence evolved.

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February 27 2014

20,000 plant species added to ‘Doomsday Vault’ to protect against agricultural apocalypse


Some 20,000 plant species from more than 100 countries and institutions will be added to the global seed bank in Norway

A Noah’s Ark of 20,000 plant species will unload this week at a remote Arctic port to deposit humanity’s latest insurance payment against an agricultural apocalypse or a man-made cock-up.

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February 27 2014

Volcanic Eruptions May Slow Global Warming


Although they spew tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the air, volcanic eruptions may have slowed global warming during the past two decades, as volcanic gases form mirror-like particles in the air. Recent research is improving climate models by accurately incorporating the effects of these eruptions.

Along with CO2, volcanoes churn out sulfur dioxide gas. That gas turns into tiny droplets of sulfuric acid in the upper atmosphere. Those acid particles act like tiny mirrors to reflect sunlight back into space.

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February 27 2014

Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes before they reach land, study says


For the past 24 years, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, has been developing a complex computer model to study air pollution, energy, weather and climate. A recent application of the model has been to simulate the development of hurricanes. Another has been to determine how much energy wind turbines can extract from global wind currents.

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February 27 2014

Geoengineering side effects could be potentially disastrous, research shows


Large-scale human engineering of the Earth's climate to prevent catastrophic global warming would not only be ineffective but would have severe unintended side effects and could not be safely stopped, a comparison of five proposed methods has concluded.

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February 27 2014

Construction of Giant Telescope in Hawaii Could Begin This Summer


Construction of a massive telescope triple the size of the world's largest current optical telescopes is set to begin on Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano this year.

The Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), which will consist of interlocking, segmented mirrors with a diameter totaling 30 meters (98 feet), has raised 83 percent of its funding, and builders could break ground by this summer, the project's leaders say.

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February 27 2014

Kepler telescope bags huge haul of planets


The science team sifting data from the US space agency's (Nasa) Kepler telescope says it has identified 715 new planets beyond our Solar System.

This is a huge new haul.

In the nearly two decades since the first so-called exoplanet was discovered, researchers had claimed the detection of just over 1,000 new worlds.

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February 27 2014

Scientists in Japan to put Stars-2 satellite into orbit to trial space cleanup


It sounds like an idea for a niche movie aimed at sci-fi anoraks: a floating magnetic net that harnesses tonnes of wayward space junk and makes the overcrowded orbital lanes above Earth's atmosphere safe for future exploration.

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February 26 2014

Water Found in Atmosphere of Nearby Alien Planet


Water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of one of the first alien planets ever identified by astronomers.

Advances in the technique used to scan the atmosphere of this "hot Jupiter" could help scientists determine how many of the billions of planets in the Milky Way contain water like Earth, researchers said.

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February 26 2014

Tiny Blobs and Tunnels in Meteorite Revive Debate Over Life on Mars


Eighteen years after a Martian meteorite sparked a debate over alien-looking "nanofossils," researchers are reporting that different structures inside an even bigger space rock suggest biological processes might have been at work on the Red Planet hundreds of millions of years ago.

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February 26 2014

Could Jupiter become a star?


NASA's Galileo spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995, and proceeded to study the giant planet for almost 8 years. It sent back a tremendous amount of scientific information that revolutionized our understanding of the Jovian system. By the end of its mission, Galileo was worn down. Instruments were failing and scientists were worried they wouldn't be able to communicate with the spacecraft in the future.

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February 26 2014

Scientists re-weigh the electron, get more precise mass


Ernest Rutherford, pioneer in studying the world inside atoms, famously remarked that all science is either physics or stamp collecting. But sometimes physics itself involves dutifully collecting the stats on the world, in the same way that a naturalist might capture and examine butterflies.

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