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March 29 2014

The Opposition of Mars


By the time you finish reading this story, you'll be about 1,000 km closer to the planet Mars.

Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter. As March gives way to April, the distance between the two planets is shrinking by about 300 km every minute.

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March 29 2014

Drifting Skyscraper Turns Air Pollution into Green Energy


Urban architecture often contributes to pollution. Skyscrapers require tons of energy to heat and cool the residents inside. Concentrations of buildings in cities can cause heat islands that raise temperatures during the summer months, reducing air quality. But a building, called Project Blue, is designed to reduce pollution.

It won Honorable Mention in the architectural journal eVolo’s annual skyscraper design competition.

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March 29 2014

Pull arsenic from drinking water and convert to bricks


MORE than 100 million people around the world are exposed to dangerous levels of arsenic, which is found naturally in groundwater but has no obvious taste or odour. Its effects build up over time, slowly poisoning the body and leading to serious problems like heart disease, cancer and reproductive issues. Now a project aims to filter it out of drinking water – and lock it up in the concrete of new buildings.

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March 29 2014

Turning graphite into diamond


A research team led by SLAC scientists has uncovered a potential new route to produce thin diamond films for a variety of industrial applications, from cutting tools to electronic devices to electrochemical sensors.

The scientists added a few layers of graphene – one-atom thick sheets of graphite – to a metal support and exposed the topmost layer to hydrogen.

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March 29 2014

Glow-in-the-Dark Plants Go on Sale


Fans of Avatar’s Pandora forests rejoice: glow-in-the-dark plants are coming to your house, says Anthony Evans, the CEO of a synthetic biology startup that created the bioluminescent flora. Glowing trees will take awhile to make, but you can already preorder seeds of a glow-in-the-dark Arabidopsis, a little flowering plant of a mustard family. According to the original Kickstarter campaign last year,Glowingplant.com would start shipping the luminous Arabidopsis seeds to customers this April, but postponed the release date till fall.

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March 29 2014

Marinating meat in beer before putting on the BBQ can half cancer causing chemicals


Rather than simply enjoying a good beer alongside the BBQ this summer, we should be using our cans to marinade the meat, scientists have said.

As well as adding some extra taste, basting the meat in beer before it hits the grill reduces the chance of potentially cancerous chemicals being formed during cooking, research suggests.

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March 29 2014

Teens who smoke marijuana do better in school than cigarette smokers, study shows


Students who smoke marijuana do better in school than their cigarette-smoking classmates, according to a new study.

Canadian researchers surveyed nearly 39,000 Ontario students in grades 7, 9, and 11 between 1981 and 2011 on their marijuana and tobacco use and their academic performance.

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March 29 2014

Medical marijuana just might cause a small drop in crime


There has been a general trend toward decriminalizing marijuana in the US, one that was spearheaded by the legalization of its use in medical situations. Those efforts have been opposed by many who argue that easy access to pot will lead people into harder drugs and boost the rate of unrelated crimes.

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March 29 2014

Gulf war illness not in veterans' heads but in their mitochondria


Veterans of the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War who suffer from “Gulf War illness” have impaired function of mitochondria – the energy powerhouses of cells, researchers have demonstrated for the first time. The findings could help lead to new treatments benefitting affected individuals -- and to new ways of protecting servicepersons (and civilians) from similar problems in the future.

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March 29 2014

Neurosurgeons successfully implant 3D printed skull


A 22-year-old woman from the Netherlands who suffers from a chronic bone disorder -- which has increased the thickness of her skull from 1.5cm to 5cm, causing reduced eyesight and severe headaches -- has had the top section of her skull removed and replaced with a 3D printed implant.

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March 29 2014

Doctors will place patients between life and death in suspended animation trials


For the first time ever, surgeons at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh could save patients by putting them between life and death. They're ready to test a technique that would place patients in a state of "suspended animation," giving surgeons enough time to operate on injuries that would otherwise be fatal.

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March 29 2014

Religion, spirituality influence health in different but complementary ways


Religion and spirituality have distinct but complementary influences on health, new research from Oregon State University indicates.

"Religion helps regulate behavior and health habits, while spirituality regulates your emotions, how you feel," said Carolyn Aldwin, a gerontology professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU.

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March 28 2014

Scientists Move Closer to Inventing Artificial Life


In a biological first, an international team has inserted a man-made chromosome into brewer's yeast, producing a life form that thrives and successfully passes the designer genes on to its offspring.


Related: Scientists Build a Yeast Chromosome From Scratch. Next Up? Designer Genomes

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March 28 2014

Studies of Extreme Earth Life Can Aid Search for Alien Lifeforms, Scientists Say


Until we understand the limits of life, it will be difficult to determine if alien planets can host any living beings, scientists say.

By studying Earth-bound "extremophiles" — microbes that survive in harsh conditions, such as hot and acid-filled ocean vents — scientists can understand the limits of temperature, pressure and acidity that support life on Earth more fully. These finding may also be applied to other planets.

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March 28 2014

Dead exoplanets can have oxygen-rich atmospheres too


Think you've spotted Earth's faraway twin? Not so fast. Oxygen-rich atmospheres, touted as almost sure signs of life on habitable exoplanets, can also exist around dead worlds.

More than 1750 exoplanets have been found so far, including several in the habitable zone – the region around a star where liquid water can exist. Next-generation telescopes should be able to "sniff" exoplanet atmospheres, revealing clues to their make-up.

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March 28 2014

Reworking the human genome so people can colonize other planets


If you haven't thought about reworking the human genome so people can colonize other planets, don't worry. Plenty of people are on it.

Scientists of many stripes have been figuring out what barriers would keep us from calling distant, inhospitable galactic real estate "home" if—or when, depending on your point of view— we damage the Earth enough to face extinction.

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March 28 2014

Mass participation experiment reveals how to create the perfect dream


Psychologists have announced the results of a two-year study into dream control. The experiment shows that it is now possible for people to create their perfect dream, and so wake up feeling especially happy and refreshed. Researchers also discovered that people's dreams were especially bizarre around the time of a full moon.

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March 28 2014

Can MIT Help Solve the Mystery of Bigfoot?


Matt Knapp thinks that Bigfoot research is a mess right now.

“The facts are that in terms of progress, the Bigfoot research community has ultimately made none. We are no closer now to proving these creatures exist than we were 40 years ago,” Knapp told Boston.

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