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January 11 2015

The “Pillars of Creation” Have Been, Are Being, and Will Be Destroyed


The “Pillars of Creation,” a photograph of part of the Eagle Nebula, is one of the most iconic images ever taken by the Hubble telescope. Yesterday, astronomers released a bigger, better, sharper version of the pillars, taken almost two decades after the first.

But an ironic twist – and what we didn’t know twenty years ago – is that the Pillars might have been long ago torn apart by a distant explosion.


Alt: It may sound incredible but the Pillars of Creation don't exist anymore

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January 11 2015

Black Holes Inch Ahead to Violent Cosmic Union


In a galaxy far, far away, a pair of supermassive black holes appear to be spiraling together toward a cosmic collision of unimaginable scale, astronomers said on Wednesday.

The final act of this mating dance, perhaps a mere million years from now, could release as much energy as 100 million of the violent supernova explosions in which stars end their lives, and wreck the galaxy it is in, said S. George Djorgovski of the California Institute of Technology.

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January 11 2015

Mercury may be sole survivor of planetary pile-up


The inner solar system may once have been a crowded and violent place – and Mercury its lone survivor. A new model suggests that most young planetary systems start with several close-in, rocky planets, which later destroy each other in a cascade of collisions.

"If forming tightly packed systems of inner planets is easy, there's no reason it shouldn't happen in our solar system,".

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January 11 2015

The Search for Starivores, Intelligent Life that Could Eat the Sun


There could be all manner of alien life forms in the universe, from witless bacteria to superintelligent robots. Still, the notion of a starivore—an organism that literally devours stars—may sound a bit crazy, even to a &#8203;seasoned sci-fi fan. And yet, if such creatures do exist, they’re probably lurking in our astronomical data right now.

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January 10 2015

Physics professor finds old Roman fort in England aligned with the sun


Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a physics professor with the Politecnico di Torino in Italy has found that the gates that once led in an out of an old Roman fortress in north-west England aligned with the summer and winter solstices. She has also noted that the towers built on each of the corners were aligned with the cardinal directions. She has published her analysis, results and ideas on reasons for the alignment in her paper published in Philica.

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January 10 2015

2015's 'Leap Second' Could Scramble Computers


June 30 will be a second longer than any other day this year.

A "leap second" needs to be added in 2015 to make sure the time on atomic clocks stays in sync with Earth's rotational time, but some Internet companies are dreading the day.

Earth's rotation has been slowing down by about two thousandths of a second every day.

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January 10 2015

Scientists help avert a nuclear medicine meltdown


University of British Columbia scientists have shown that small cyclotrons – particle accelerators the size of an SUV – can replace hulking nuclear power plants as the country's main source of medical isotopes, the radioactive atoms used for thousands of diagnostic scan across Canada each day.

The demonstration last month points the way to a safer, cleaner, more reliable and cheaper source of medical isotopes, not just in Canada, but globally.


Related: Vermont shuts down nuclear power plant to make way for renewable energy

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January 10 2015

Chatting to your baby is better for its communication skills than reading


If you want to sure up your child's communication and problem-solving skills, chatting to it while you're working on other things can be even more important than reading to them, new research suggests.

Chatting to your baby about nothing in particular while you’re getting ready or doing work around the house can be better for their communication skills than sitting down and reading to them.

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January 10 2015

E-books Go Out of Fashion As Book Sales Revive


U.K. bookstores report increased demand for physical books

British book stores have good news for bibliophiles, reporting that more people have been buying physical books recently. What’s more, sales of e-readers have apparently slumped according to their reports.


Alt: Kindle sales have 'disappeared', says UK's largest book retailer

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January 10 2015

iPhone ‘withdrawal’ really makes people anxious


Separation from iPhones can cause users serious psychological and physiological effects, including poor performance on cognitive tests, according to new research.

The researchers say these findings suggest that iPhone users should avoid parting with their phones during daily situations that involve a great deal of attention, such as taking tests, sitting in conferences or meetings, or completing important work assignments, as it could result in poorer cognitive performance on those tasks.


Related: How Dwelling on a Breakup Might Help You Get Over It

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January 10 2015

Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married


A new economics paper has some old-fashioned advice for people navigating the stresses of life: Find a spouse who is also your best friend.

Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more likely to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels.

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January 10 2015

Optimistic people have healthier hearts, study finds


People who have upbeat outlooks on life have significantly better cardiovascular health, suggests a new study that examined associations between optimism and heart health in more than 5,100 adults.

"Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts," said lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois.

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January 10 2015

We’ve been led to believe that ‘selfish genes’ drive evolution. Maybe we were wrong


Since the discovery that DNA encodes genetic information, research on the evolution of life has focused on its genetic origins. Following this “genes-first” approach, Oxford University evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has argued in his book The Selfish Gene that cells and organisms evolved simply as packages to ever-more efficiently protect and transmit genes.

But this genes-first point of view ignores much.

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January 10 2015

Deep bacteria may evolve even without passing genes on


Is evolution possible without reproduction? Bacteria living hundreds of metres below the seafloor carry more genetic changes than their peers nearer the surface – even though the deep microbes are unlikely to reproduce and undergo natural selection in its traditional sense.

Investigations over the last 30 years have revealed that life exists several kilometres below both the land surface and the seafloor.

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January 10 2015

Are Polar Bears Saving Themselves?


Polar bears and other Arctic animals are shifting their distributions toward icier regions, according to new research suggesting that at least some species are attempting to adapt to climate-related changes in their habitat, such as dramatic losses of sea ice.

The bears, as well as certain other animals, literally are trying to go with the flow.


Related: Japanese whalers leave harpoons at home as they head for Antarctic

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January 10 2015

An ant, a plant, and a bear, oh my


In a mountain meadow in Colorado, ecologists have come across yet another example of the amazing interconnectedness of nature’s flora and fauna. Black bears, by eating ants, help one of the meadow’s key plant species thrive.


Related: Reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone changed the entire geography of the park: as elk were displaced, saplings that would have been eaten by elk were spared, riverbank erosion was brought under control, and streams and rivers shifted their courses.

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January 10 2015

Timid rats use the buddy system


A friend can make even the shiest creature bold. Rats usually fear strange open spaces, but having a companion by their side makes the rodents more intrepid, scientists report in the current issue of Animal Cognition. Researchers tracked rats’ exploration of a large, unfamiliar room, first alone, then again 2 days later either alone or paired with a familiar cagemate.

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