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June 6 2014

Artificial Sweetener Could Be Used As a Safer Insecticide


A natural, non-toxic insecticide might be in your kitchen, a new study says.

In what started out as a middle school science project, scientists discovered that erythritol, the main ingredient in the artificial sweetener Truvia, is toxic to fruit flies.

This does not mean anyone using Truvia to sweeten their coffee or tea is in danger.

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June 6 2014

Infertility in Spanish Pigs Has Been Traced to Plastics. A Warning for Humans?


A strange catastrophe struck Spain's pig farmers in the spring of 2010. On 41 farms across the country—each home to between 800 and 3,000 pigs—many sows suddenly ceased bearing young.

On some farms, all the sows stopped reproducing. On others, those that did become pregnant produced smaller litters.

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June 6 2014

System turns cow poop into clean water


Scientists are developing a system that can take cow manure and turn it into water that is clean enough for livestock to drink. It also extracts nutrients that can be re-used as fertilizer.

Currently the system produces about 50 gallons of water from 100 gallons of manure. The goal is to increase that number to about 65 gallons. The team says they hope the technology—called the McLanahan Nutrient Separation System—will be ready for commercialization by the end of this year.

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June 6 2014

Convert waste CO2 and chicken feathers into fertiliser


TALK about killing two birds with one stone. Every year we ditch millions of tonnes of chicken feathers, and pump climate-altering carbon dioxide into the air. But combine the two in the right way and you can make an otherwise-scarce fertiliser.

More than 5 million tonnes of chicken feathers are produced globally every year. Most get thrown into landfill where they can sit for decades without breaking down.

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June 6 2014

Cleaning the air with roof tiles


Engineering students have created a roof tile coating that when applied to an average-sized residential roof breaks down the same amount of smog-causing nitrogen oxides per year as a car driven 11,000 miles makes. They also calculated it would cost only about $5 for enough titanium dioxide to coat an average-sized residential roof.

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June 6 2014

Medieval manholes: plumbers led the way in utility maintenance


The story of the medieval plumbers who maintained a complex water supply system, which was centuries ahead of its time, has been revealed by a historian. A unique network of subterranean tunnels, partly dating back to the 14th century, still lies beneath the streets of Exeter, Devon. These once channeled fresh drinking-water from springs outside the town-walls to public fountains at the heart of the city.

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June 6 2014

Finding the lost art of Angkor Wat


Long-lost paintings have been discovered on the walls of Cambodia’s ancient Angkor Wat temple, thanks to the keen observations of an Australian National University (ANU) researcher.

The ancient paintings date back almost 500 years and depict deities, animals, boats and the temple itself, giving historians a new understanding of life in a relatively unknown period of Cambodia’s history.

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June 6 2014

Archaeologists find Bronze Age settlement beneath Aberdeen park and ride site


4,000-year-old pottery from the early Bronze Age, the remains of timber roundhouses and evidence of Iron Age smithing are among the discoveries made by archaeologists investigating a proposed park and ride site near Aberdeen.

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June 6 2014

How New Tech for Ancient Fossils Could Change The Way We Understand Animals


Picture a paleontologist and you probably imagine someone in a rocky desert digging up dinosaur bones, or hunched over a slab of rock in a lab, slowly chipping away ancient sediment layers to reveal the fossilized remains of a bygone epoch.

But according to a new paper penned by University of Bristol paleontologists, that image of solitary, dusty dinosaur scientists is sorely out of date.

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June 6 2014

Anthracosuchus balrogus: Giant Prehistoric Crocodile Discovered


Paleontologists have discovered a new species of crocodile-like reptile that swam in the rivers of what is now Colombia during Paleocene, about 60 million years ago.

The newly discovered prehistoric monster has been named Anthracosuchus balrogus.

The specific epithet, balrogus, derives from the Balrog, the name of a ferocious fictional creature that appeared in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and dwelled deep in the middle-Earth ‘Mines of Moria.’

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June 6 2014

What a 66-million-year-old forest fire reveals about the last days of the dinosaurs


As far back as the time of the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago, forests recovered from fires in the same manner they do today, according to a team of researchers from McGill University and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

During an expedition in southern Saskatchewan, Canada, the team discovered the first fossil-record evidence of forest fire ecology – the regrowth of plants after a fire – revealing a snapshot of the ecology on earth just before the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

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June 5 2014

Post ice-age extinctions of large mammals linked to humans, not climate change


A team of researchers with Aarhus University in Denmark has concluded that the die-out of large mammals after the last ice-age was due more too human activity than a changing environment. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the team describes how they conducted a country by country survey of all known species extinctions from one thousand years ago to 132,000 years ago.

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June 5 2014

Australia's deadly eruptions were reason for the first mass extinction


Ancient volcanic eruptions in Australia 510 million years ago significantly affected the climate, causing the first known mass extinction in the history of complex life. Scientists used radioactive dating techniques to precisely measure the age of the eruptions of the Kalkarindji volcanic province.

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June 5 2014

Scientists Track the Origins of the Irish Potato Famine to Battle $6 Billion Global Problem


The potato blight that caused the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s left families starving as their source of food was left rotting in their fields. Now, though, researchers have tracked the origin of this blight, and have found that the deadly plant disease actually first originated in an alpine valley in central Mexico.

The potato is thought to have been first domesticated more than 7,000 years ago in parts of what are now Peru and Bolivia.

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June 5 2014

Ballymaglaff Stone Age site 'lost because of planning error'


Planners have launched a probe following claims that a rare site where early humans settled has been badly damaged without carrying out proper archaeological investigation.

The Department of the Environment (DoE) said its planning department has launched an enforcement investigation to establish if a breach of planning control had taken place at Ballymaglaff in Dundonald in relation to archaeological matters.

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June 5 2014

Scientists Develop a Key to Preserving Ancient Paper Documents


One of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpieces, drawn in red chalk on paper during the early 1500s and widely believed to be a self-portrait, is in extremely poor condition. Centuries of exposure to humid storage conditions or a closed environment has led to widespread and localized yellowing and browning of the paper, which is reducing the contrast between the colors of chalk and paper and substantially diminishing the visibility of the drawing.

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June 5 2014

Archaeologists Warn of Pillaged Egypt as U.S. Weighs Tougher Antiquities Laws


Looters will strip Egypt of most of its archaeological heritage within the next quarter century, an archaeologist warned at a U.S. State Department hearing this week.

"Wholesale looting is occurring all over Egypt, and we are seeing a big spike that came after the revolution," says archaeologist Sarah Parcak, who testified on Monday, opening a three-day hearing at the State Department. "If we don't do something to stop it, most sites in Egypt will be gone in 25 years."

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