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When the International Astronomical Union came up with an official definition of a planet in 2006, they booted Pluto out of the club and reclassified it as a dwarf planet. But some say the discovery of exoplanets requires that we revisit this definition and give Pluto a second chance.
One of the big questions in cosmology regards the shape of the universe. "Shape" in this case is not the distribution of galaxies, but rather the shape of space and time itself. In general relativity, space and time can be warped by masses (producing the effect of gravity), and it can be warped by dark energy (producing cosmic expansion). Knowing the shape of the cosmos lets us determine if it is finite in size or infinite, and whether it will expand forever or collapse back upon itself.
Physicists have found hints that the asymmetry of life — the fact that most biochemical molecules are ‘left-handed’ or ‘right-handed’ — could have been caused by electrons from nuclear decay in the early days of evolution. In an experiment that took 13 years to perfect1, the researchers have found that these electrons tend to destroy certain organic molecules slightly more often than they destroy their mirror images.
Private companies want to mine asteroids for fuel, and build filling stations in space. A bill now in front of the US Congress would help by allowing them to own what they discover - but it might, if passed, meet stiff international opposition.
About 500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus lives a star, which, though smaller and redder than the sun, has a planet that may look awfully familiar.
Some of the water molecules in your drinking glass were created more than 4.5 billion years ago, according to new research.
Related: 30% to 50% of Earth's Water Today came from the Primordial Molecular Cloud --"Older than the Solar System Itself"
Earth's magnetic north and south poles have flip-flopped many times in our planet's history—most recently, around 780,000 years ago. Geophysicists who study the magnetic field have long thought that the poles may be getting ready to switch again, and based on new data, it might happen earlier than anyone anticipated.
The race is on to optimize solar energy's performance. More efficient silicon photovoltaic panels, dye-sensitized solar cells, concentrated cells and thermodynamic solar plants all pursue the same goal: to produce a maximum amount of electrons from sunlight. Those electrons can then be converted into electricity to turn on lights and power your refrigerator.
First there was the station wagon, then the mini-van. Now, meet a possible new innovation in kid movers.
Medicine deliveries to a pharmacy on a North Sea island will be made by a drone, Deutsche Post announced on Wednesday, in the first project of its kind.
There was an understandable amount of skepticism when Amazon announced its grand plans for delivery drones last year. But if the last twelve months are any indication, Jeff Bezos and his fellow tech heavyweights are actually kinda serious about the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Related: Facebook says its internet drones will be the size of 747s and fly for years
Traditionally robots have been big, powerful, metallic objects that might weld doors onto cars in a factory," Wood says. "The robots we explore are dramatically different, some on a new, micro-sized scale, others made of soft rather than rigid materials.
Related: Robot Octopus Swims Faster Than Ever
Different palaeolithic populations around the world might have developed a crucial toolmaking skill independently. This conclusion, based on the analysis of hundreds of artefacts from a recently excavated archaeological site in Armenia, weakens a long-held theory that Stone Age people in Eurasia learnt sophisticated techniques from migrating African tribes.
Related: Prehistoric Stone Tools Evolved Independently Within Local Populations, Say Researchers
Neanderthals' capabilities are still hotly debated. Some argue that before modern humans replaced them, Neanderthals showed cultural capabilities similar to those of modern humans, while others make a case that these similarities only appear once Neanderthals came in contact with modern humans. "The new data from Willendorf clearly shows that modern humans were present in what is now Austria while Neanderthals still occupied other regions of Europe suggesting that the two species met, and may have exchanged mates and ideas", explains Philip Nigst. "This means the changes in the material culture of some of the last Neanderthal groups are most probably related to direct or indirect contact with modern humans".
Canyons, lakes and mountains have been revealed in the most detailed maps ever made of the hidden world beneath the polar regions.
Birds didn't evolve in one fell swoop from their dinosaur ancestors, suggests a newly constructed dinosaur family tree showing our feathery friends evolved very gradually, at first.
Black holes have long captured the public imagination and been the subject of popular culture, from Star Trek to Hollywood. They are the ultimate unknown – the blackest and most dense objects in the universe that do not even let light escape.
Related: Did the universe originate from a hyper-dimensional black hole?
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