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October 24 2014

Real-Life Tractor Beam Pulls in Particles


The invisible force that pulls in the Millennium Falcon spacecraft to the Death Star in "Star Wars" movies is still far from becoming a reality, but physicists have developed a miniature version of sorts: a tractor beam that can reel in tiny particles.


Alt: Tractor beam breaks distance record

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October 24 2014

The day UFOs stopped play


Sixty years ago a football match ground to a halt when unidentified flying objects were spotted above a stadium in Florence. Did aliens come to earth? If not, what were they?

It was 27 October 1954, a typically crisp autumn day in Tuscany. The mighty Fiorentina club was playing against its local rival Pistoiese.

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October 24 2014

Wind farms outstrip nuclear power


The UK's wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says.

Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%.

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October 24 2014

Cigarette ash can clean arsenic from water


As a result of mining and other industries, the toxin arsenic has contaminated groundwater at high levels in countries such as China, Chile, Hungary and Mexico. The poison is odourless and tasteless so it’s hard to detect, but it can cause skin discolouration, stomach pain, partial paralysis and a range of other serious health problems.

Technology already exists to help eliminate arsenic from water, but it’s expensive and requires a high level of expertise, which makes it impractical for use in rural and developing regions.

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October 24 2014

World population likely to peak by 2070


World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and Human Capital in the 21st Century. Alternative scenarios included in the projections range from 7 billion to almost 13 billion by 2100. The book was officially launched today at an event at the Wilson Center in Washington DC.

"As women become more educated," says Lutz, "They gain more power over their reproductive decisions and family size, which almost always translates to having fewer children.".

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October 24 2014

World's Longest Snake Has Virgin Birth—First Recorded in Species


Virgin birth has been documented in the world's longest snake for the first time, a recent study says.

An 11-year-old reticulated python named Thelma produced six female offspring in June 2012 at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, where she lives with another female python, Louise. No male had ever slithered anywhere near the 200-pound (91-kilogram), 20-foot-long (6 meters) mother snake.

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October 24 2014

Florida lizards evolve rapidly, within 15 years and 20 generations


Scientists working on islands in Florida have documented the rapid evolution of a native lizard species -- in as little as 15 years -- as a result of pressure from an invading lizard species, introduced from Cuba.

After contact with the invasive species, the native lizards began perching higher in trees, and, generation after generation, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found higher up.

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October 23 2014

Thoroughly modern humans interbred with Neanderthals


When humans hooked up with Neanderthals, we could have wooed them with music and fancy jewellery.

The oldest DNA of a modern human ever to be sequenced shows that the Homo sapiens who interbred with the Neanderthals were very modern – not just anatomically but with modern behaviour including painting, modern tools, music and jewellery.


Alt: 45,000-year-old man was human-Neanderthal mix

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October 23 2014

Myth Busted: Ancient Humans May Not Have Been Redheads


Ancient humans found with red hair weren't necessarily redheads in life, but may have acquired their carrot tops after death, a new study finds.

A team of researchers examined the processes that degrade locks, ranging from exposure to the sun's powerful rays or being eaten away by microbes. These processes, many of which begin while a person or animal is still alive, can leave hair with an unnatural, reddish hue.

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October 23 2014

Seeking 'absolute zero', copper cube gets chillingly close


An Italian lab has cooled a copper vessel with a volume of a cubic meter to within a tiny fraction of "absolute zero", setting a world record, the National Nuclear Physics Institute said Tuesday.

"No experiment on Earth has ever cooled a similar mass or volume to temperatures this low; similar conditions are also not expected to arise in Nature".

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October 23 2014

Scientists look to mine metals from plants


Inside a lab at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, soil samples sit under a row of a glowing light bulbs hanging from a track only a short distance above them. In another room, a centrifuge hums as beakers of Nyquil-colored liquids sit on a nearby shelf. Standard white lab coats hang on hooks outside.

This generic-looking lab feels worlds away from the gritty, dusty mines of Australia—but this is where scientists hope to chart a new path for the industry here, and across the world.

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October 23 2014

Milk Grown in a Lab Is Humane and Sustainable. But Can It Catch On?


The world's first test-tube hamburger has already been synthesized and cooked at a cost of more than $300,000. Now a pair of young bioengineers in Silicon Valley are trying to produce the first glass of artificial milk, without a cow and with the help of genetically engineered yeast.

Like the creators of in vitro burgers, the scientists behind yeast-culture dairy are concerned about animal welfare and agricultural sustainability—but also about creating a food that will find a mass market.

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October 23 2014

Did Mammals Sleep Through Cosmic Impact That Ended Dinosaurs?


A shrewlike creature in Madagascar that can hibernate for at least nine months of the year without waking may help reveal how mammals survived the cataclysm that ended the age of dinosaurs, researchers suggest.

These findings could also help lead to a way to put astronauts in a state of suspended animation on journeys in deep space and for victims of medical emergencies, scientists added.

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October 23 2014

Swimming Mammoths Beat Humans to California


VANCOUVER — A fossil tusk rescued from the sea proves mammoths swam to Southern California's Channel Islands much earlier than thought.

The new fossil is one of two recently discovered tusks that challenge the idea that climate change killed off the Channel Islands' pygmy mammoths, said Daniel Muhs, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, who described the find Sunday (Oct. 19) here at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting. The pint-size beasts disappeared from the islands about 12,000 years ago.

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October 23 2014

Bigger Than A T. Rex, With A Duck's Bill, Huge Arms And A Hump


Scientists announced Tuesday they've solved the mystery of the Mongolian ostrich dinosaur.

The mystery began in 1965, when fossil hunters found a pair of 6-foot-long, heavily clawed arm bones in Mongolia's Gobi desert. Nobody had seen anything like them before. Now, scientists say, they've got the rest of the beast ... and dinosaur textbooks may need to be rewritten.


Alt: Humpback Dino Was Literally Unsinkable

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October 23 2014

UF study: Megalodon shark became extinct 2.6 million years ago


A new University of Florida study dismisses claims that megalodon is still alive by determining a date of extinction for the largest predatory shark to ever live.

Researchers from UF and the University of Zurich hope the study appearing online today in the journal PLOS ONE showing the species became extinct 2.6 million years ago will clarify public confusion. The study may also one day help scientists better understand the potential widespread effects of losing the planet’s top predators.


Alt: Solved: When Earth's Largest Shark Disappeared

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October 23 2014

Ancient Finned Predator Feasted on Sharks


VANCOUVER — With fangs and the first sawlike teeth on Earth, the biggest predator in the swamps of the early Permian Period ate anything it wanted.

But when Dimetrodon waddled on land 290 million years ago, there weren't enough tasty herbivores to go around, according to an idea proposed in the 1970s by famed paleontologist E. C. Olson. "There were too many meat eaters," said Robert Bakker, the curator of paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. "There was a meat deficit all over the world.".

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